Tagblogging

Grand Theft: My Intellectual Property

I know I said I was going to let my shoulder rest, but this is too important to wait on.

I was informed of a website where an unauthorized copy of my latest book, Atlantis: The Visionary Continent, Volume #2: Awakening, is being offered! I couldn’t believe it, so I had to go see for myself. When I confirmed it, I was furious. Livid. Enraged! Other synonyms for insanely pissed! The more I investigated, the angrier I became. It was being offered for free!

Me, after reading my email.

I fumed. The book has barely been out for three months! After a half-hour of spitting anger, I started getting over my shock and began to formulate a plan to deal with this. I ran a Google search, but there really isn’t anything regarding stolen e-books, except advice to not offer books as a direct download from your site. [Which I was not doing–they’re exclusive to Amazon at the time of this posting.] I found some advice regarding DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act, yo.] and decided to do a Whois search on the domain, so I could figure out who to send a takedown notice to.

This turned tricky fast, due to the culprit having a ton of domains that point to other domains, which then pointed to subdomains. I was going in circles. I took a closer look at the site to see if I could find any more info. 293 downloads? Anonymous people with no avatar posting very recent and generic comments? Something didn’t smell right. The work of other authors was on the site also, so I checked some of their listings–the number of downloads varied, but the pages were identical–right down to the comments.

I clicked through to the download page. I reached the instructions, and suddenly, the situation became clear. I quickly viewed the source code of the page, and discovered that my story wasn’t being offered illegally. They didn’t have the actual book–it was being used as bait for a phishing scheme!

Now, I know the classic argument is: “If people are looking for free copies, then they weren’t going to buy your book anyway, so you’re not losing sales“. This is a valid argument, except that what is actually happening is harming public opinion of my brand itself. That is much more difficult to recover from than a sales loss!

The setup is a common one, where the site offers a file: a program, MP3, video–or in this case e-book–and leads you to a page where you can download it. EXCEPT there is a catch–before the download link becomes available, you are usually directed offsite to apply for “special offers”. These look like credit card and loan applications, or free trials to subscription services. They ask for vital info, like social security and credit card numbers, home addresses, etc. More often than not, these are elaborate phishing scams where they use a person’s willingness to get something for free to convince them to give up sensitive info. You don’t get anything except a lot of spam email, and the hassle of having to freeze your credit and apply for a new bank account. Then if you can actually download the file, it’s usually not what was advertised–often it’s a Trojan designed to infect your system so these people can get more information from you. Then they either sell the data they collect, or use it for themselves.

Since the file wasn’t actually on the original website, I had no valid DMCA claim. I went to the root of the site to see if I could glean any info, when suddenly I was on… a legitimate cloud storage site? After poking around a bit, I discovered that the root site was set to redirect to a legitimate site–even though the file is clearly not on their servers. Why would that happen…?

The site is mocked up to look like a filesharing site, but it’s owned by the same person who owns the original site I found the listing on! This is an elaborate deception–this person thought this through, and wants to remain hidden. [Probably because the information they scrape and the malware and viruses they distribute are their main source of income.]

They didn’t even host the cover image themselves! It’s hotlinked from Amazon! The download link sends you to the fake filesharing front, which then redirects you to affiliates where you fill out the offers that will supposedly allow you access to my work. Well, as I said before, I viewed the source file and there is no download. Everything forces you to a file “locking” site that has a pretty bad safety rating itself.

File locking sites are commonly used for something called an integrated affiliate advertising redirect*, also known as a forced click. [Read more on them here.] When you click the download link, it forces you to view ads in an non-closable window, makes you apply for a “free” offer, or sometimes you’ll be told to take a “survey” before it lets you have access to the files you want. [Completing these actions supposedly unlocks the real download button or link.]

Every time you click the download link, the scammer running the fake site gets paid–sometimes even if you back out and don’t follow through! Not only that, but a savvy coder could use it to gain a click and steal your info. Several thousand clicks a day, plus sell-able or exploitable data? That adds up, especially the way this person has it set.

You see, at the end of this person’s setup, the user is presented with a blank white window. That’s it. No file. You are no longer useful. Your clicks and data have been taken. Get out.

It’s bullshit because it’s using my hard work to trick my unsuspecting readers into giving away sensitive information, and earning money fraudulently while doing it. Not only my readers–but anyone who might think it’s a legitimate source for free e-books! They scrape Amazon, using the allure of prose authors have slaved over as bait. They poison brands authors have worked hard to build in the mind of the people they trick. Not. Cool.

At first, it seems hopeless. How can I DMCA content these people don’t have? How can I go after them, not knowing who they are, or even knowing what country they are in? The person who set this up knows this. This is the cloak they wrap themselves in.

But me? What can I do?

Vocaloid. Specifically Hidoor Utopia by Miku
Vocaloid.  Specifically Hidoor Utopia by Hatsune Miku.

I know the affiliates won’t care–after all, they make money through the ad clicks. Web searches care, because the site is linking to content that could harm someone’s computer. They’ll pull the data, but it will be restored by the next web crawl. I could report the shady behavior to the domain registrar and get the domain revoked. That could work–for the amount of time it would take the person to figure out the domain is cancelled and buy a new one. So what can you do? What can I do?

For now, this is all I have been advised to say. I have several options, but in the meantime, I am going to focus on educating people. The more people that are informed, the less often these kind of sites will trick people. My hope is that over time, the profitability of these sites will drop, and they will no longer be worth opening. So share this post, [and the post linked above] and help get the word out!

Please remember you can ONLY purchase my books from Amazon.com! Volume #1 is $0.99 cents right now!

 

Thank you all for your support–stay safe out there!

 

*= What, you couldn’t cram “synergy“, or “omnichannel marketing” in there too?

 

P.S: If you are an author and want to check the site to see if your work is being used, please contact me through one of the methods on my contact page, and I will PM you the url.

Injured! [Again]

So, uh, I tore my left rotator cuff a few days ago, and now my arm is in a sling.

Pro: It was my left, so I can still draw. Con: Can’t type. [Doing this single-handed right now, so it’s short.]

So if you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, don’t be horribly surprised. [I’m still going to put short things up on my Facebook and Instagram because I can copy/paste.]

For now, enjoy this video of me sketching some Atlantis characters!

https://www.facebook.com/authormelissawong/videos/745902278873010/

Ups and Downs

It’s been a month of ups and downs. While I was finishing up the colored insert pics for volume #2 of Atlantis: TVC, the side of my laptop cover cracked! I was just sitting there, coloring, when without warning I hear this snapping crunch sound, and my screen falls to the side! When I looked at it I realized that the screen had been attached to the cover only by a tiny plastic peg, and the stress of bearing the weight of the open screen over six years of frequent use had finally snapped it. Terrible design flaw. There was even a spot for it to have a screw, and it did not!

Fortunately, I am a big nerd and I have all kinds of spare computer bits lying around. [I used to have more, but culled my “collection” when we packed up and put everything we owned into storage this past summer.] So I found appropriate-sized screws, and managed to kludge it back together long enough to finish the book.

Sorry for ninja edit, but this was WAY more fitting than the Twilight Sparkle pic…

The laptop still works, but I don’t want to break it completely. Repairing it would be costly and not worth it for the model it is. It would be more prudent to get a new laptop, but that isn’t an expense we can swing right now, it being the holidays and all. So knowing it has a number of uses left before the stress kills it entirely, I moved all my files off of it and onto my backup drive. I figured I would just not use it during my hiatus, but that’s not something that can be my reality–I wanted to draw, to write, to read articles–and doing that on my phone for the foreseeable future just wouldn’t cut it.

After we returned from dinner at the in-laws on Thanksgiving, I made a decision to pull my desktop computer out of the closet. It was all nicely packed away, but it hadn’t been on since March or April of this past year. Since we are in a small apartment, there really isn’t anywhere for a second desk to go, so I hadn’t even remotely thought about setting it up. But now, I was going to try to set a monitor and keyboard on my laptop table. Couldn’t be too difficult, right? Right…?

Well, turns out my monitor is buried in the far recesses of the closet and inaccessible without pulling everything out, which would take several hours. However, the giant second monitor my husband used when he had a dual monitor set up was sitting right there, within easy reach…

So I unpack my computer tower, and my husband goes, “Hey, I think there is something loose in there.” Turns out there was something loose in there–my heatsink had fallen completely off! After the storage unit was hit by the tornado, the climate control was out for two weeks. I’m guessing that this happened around that time, because otherwise everything was stored in temperature controlled environments. Of course, this is close to midnight on Thanksgiving, we have zero thermal paste in the house, and tomorrow is Black Friday!

I fortunately remembered that Amazon does same day home delivery in our area via their Prime Now service, so I scheduled a delivery of thermal paste. Hooray for not having to go out into the melee that is Black Friday! Long story short, I reinstalled the heatsink and everything is running smoothly now. I still can’t get over this giant monitor though. My very first TV was smaller than this! I’ve always wanted to draw on a giant monitor, but I’ve never had a chance to do so until yesterday. Best. Experience. Ever. Look at this screenshot of the space I have. It’s a thing of beauty! [When I was working on my laptop, I couldn’t get either Achine or Gia’s face to fit fully on the screen at actual pixels–it would have made my life way easier if I had been able to! But look; I can get both in the same frame now!]

monitorscreenshot
Click for larger version!

Now that everything is up and running again, it’s time to clean out my programs, delete the junk, defragment, and reacquaint myself with some old games. [Not that I haven’t been playing Sim City 4 or anything…]

The Toxicity of Sameness

There is a particular innocence you start with when you begin writing. You read books, watch movies; you analyze plot lines with others, and speculate where the story is going. You reflect on your favorite things about them and think, “I want to make other people feel like I do right now!” This seems to be one of the major catalysts for people to start writing–the desire to evoke powerful feelings in others. I know it was for me.

At some point in some writer’s journey, they’ll look for resources to help them with something, be it punctuation, formatting, or character development; and during that time they will most likely join a forum or group for writers, entering the page smiling, wide-eyed, and thinking, “I’m among peers now! We can talk shop!”

No. No you cannot. Because you do not think like these people do.

Everything is deconstructed–hashed out, dissected and trampled to death. I’m not talking people’s work either, I’m talking technique, structure, literary devices–things of that nature. I’ve been a member of several forums for about a year now. I mostly lurk, but after watching people pull apart everything under the sun about writing, I found myself doing it too. I couldn’t enjoy a book or movie without feeling extremely jaded; picking it apart mentally, even when I liked it. Writing was worse. When I wrote, I second-guessed every. Single. Little. Thing. Am I being too ‘purple’? Am I using too many adverbs? Am I really pissing people off and making them throw my book [or the eReader it’s on] at the wall the second I mention what a character’s eye color is?! I don’t like feeling like this. I don’t think anyone would!

There are several rules that seem to have surfaced above the clamor that they all deem universal. According to them, you’re supposed to show not tell–but don’t use too many adverbs while doing it–and god forbid you use any word that might be considered above a sixth grader’s vocabulary level! If you do people will think you are using a thesaurus to sound smarter than you are; in fact, try not to use very many words at all. Too many words on a page turn people off.

Is this really what writing has come down to? Everyone needs to write the same, across all genres, or it’s all garbage? People are bemoaning the rise of carbon-copy literature but they are not seeing why this is happening. It’s starting with writers of all skill levels having access to the same places online, all of them having fear and uncertainty instilled into them from the outset by those who think they know better–those who praise one author’s voice over all others. All the things that stopped me from reading authors like King, Crichton, Koontz, and Collins were now the things my “peers” were saying I should do to my own work.

I found myself scared that people would hate my books because I didn’t sound like them–despite the fact that in the past I have been told by people that they like my style of writing. I submitted entries to short story contests, and received a fair amount of praise as well. [No wins.] But still, that pressure to change remained. I watched other people post perfectly good story snippets, asking for advice, seeing them told time and time again to alter it to match those unspoken rules.

Now I’m not making an excuse for bad writing. Not at all. But when writers tell other writers that they can’t use certain phrases, or insist that they shouldn’t describe a sunset–even if it’s only with two adjectives–there is an issue. So I pushed back in my own work; I like being descriptive. I enjoy painting with words. My audience doesn’t just consist of other authors, but of people from all walks of life who enjoy the kind of tales I love to spin. Some people will love my books; others will hate them. No amount of adverb-less sentences or extensive wordiness will make any difference. The forums were doing more harm to my writing and confidence than good, so I pulled away from them.

After I distanced myself from them the little voice in the back of my head that parroted their rhetoric faded. Recently my husband and daughter [inadvertently] got me into a show called Steven Universe, and it was one of the first things I enjoyed in a while because I did not have that squawking in my ear, desperately trying to pull it apart to see the tropes or spot where they were “telling and not showing”. I started feeling like myself again.

I am editing faster as well. I am a third of the way done on my second pass in a week already, after months of trying to edit through self-doubt. I have found a new forum, one that seems more inclusive than the others; I’ll see with time if that is true or not. If it’s not I may have to swear off them altogether.

It’s a shame that something I thought would help started to poison me over time. All I can do from this point forward is to keep writing; pushing forward, strengthening my voice and improving my prose. That’s all we should focus on as writers, really. We don’t have the spare energy to deride anyone for not writing like someone else. Same as readers, if we don’t like an author’s work, that’s okay–their work isn’t for us. Someone else out there likes them, and the world is much better when everyone is different, right?

Anyone Have a Cursed Spinning Wheel I Could Borrow?

I am so insanely tired.

We finished moving in a few days ago, and there is a mountain of things sitting in my living room, waiting to go into storage or the trash. We accidentally left behind not just one, but both of our dining room tables. [But brought the chairs, somehow.] We have people coming for dinner next week, and no table to eat at.

Excellent start to this whole thing. Then the serpentine belt goes out on the car. Goodbye savings! We once had you!

But at least everything is unpacked now… right? Right?!

The kid isn’t handling this move as well as the last two. Fortunately this will be her last for a while, so I’m hoping the nightmares she’s having now will stop when she settles in. [This is a major part of the reason I am so tired.]

Most of my time not spent easing my kid into apartment life [She’s loud. Thankfully this place seems to be soundproofed well.] has been spent putting things away or cleaning. Now that that’s done I’m eager to get back to editing Atlantis: TVC volume #2! [The story hasn’t been far from my mind these past few weeks. I wonder if that is good or bad…?]

In the rare bit of downtime I had yesterday, I did some sketching of scenes I wanted to illustrate. [This might not be a final scene…]
I’m hoping to get back to it starting today. It may be a little ambitious, but I feel guilty that I’ve spent as long as I have away from it. I need to get back to work!

But right now… I’d kill for a nap. Like, twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. It sounds simply divine!

Rolling With the Punches

Yesterday I was cleaning up the room we’ve been staying in in preparation for our move, when my daughter handed me a red plastic bowl. Inside of it was a dead spider, curled up and dried out. I cried out, “There’s a dead spider in here!” and she happily replied, “TA-DA!”

The day before I also posted an excerpt from a story I’ve been fiddling with [while I let volume #2 sit between edits] on a writing forum I frequent. It’s urban fantasy, and I’m not really a fan of it that I can tell, but the plot demanded nothing less than me going outside my comfort zone. I was having trouble with a supporting character and said as much, but I welcomed any critique people had to offer.

That morning, before my cleaning session, I hopped on to read the replies and received a huge shock–I had one review, and it tore the piece apart. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except that most of what it was tearing apart was based on incorrect information. My first instinct was to be insulted [which is pretty basic human nature] that the person couldn’t even take the time to read it without skimming. But, as I said, I frequent writing forums, and have been training to ‘take a punch’, so to speak.

I’ve been on both sides of critique before, and I know it can sting, so when I offer crit myself, I try to do due diligence; I carefully read the excerpt through once, then go back and read it again, taking notes the second time. If I don’t have time to sit and read the whole thing, I just don’t do it, because that isn’t fair to the author. Technical errors are one thing–they’re wrong because they break established grammar rules and it breaks concentration. Those jump out pretty quick, and are usually done because the person doesn’t know better. Go ahead and note those first. If you can tell me how to fix them–not just that something “seems wrong”–even better!

But then there is the content aspect of the story, and that becomes more difficult to critique; you have to ask yourself, “Can I give a truthful evaluation of this story, even if I do not like what it is about?” This means that if you normally read murder mysteries, can you read an epic fantasy story without telling the author they are doing it wrong because there aren’t enough serial killers for your taste? If you can’t be objective, you should stick to technical errors, preface it with, “I don’t read these types of stories normally, but…” or back away slowly. But sometimes when you put your work out there, you will get people who forge ahead anyway, because you asked for it.

And now we come to the content part. For starters, this person definitely skimmed because throughout the crit they kept demanding answers to questions that were already answered in the text that was posted. [Main character’s name, where the story started, etc. Strangely enough they started using the character’s name after they demanded to know it, which was odd in itself.] In the excerpt, the main character finds a book in her grandparent’s basement, and her grandmother tells her to take it with her when she goes to school . The person writing the critique demanded to know why she stole the book.

At this point, I really wanted to write off the whole crit because it was obvious that the person offering it did not read it all the way. I even asked my husband’s opinion, and he thought it was someone trolling me when I showed him. My husband hates my writing, and has no problem telling me when I am being too sensitive about anything, so clearly something was off.

I wanted to respond. Knee-jerk reaction: I wanted to point out all the things this person got wrong or missed. I wanted to be snarky, to be defensive, to point out how obnoxiously confusing it is when they tell me three sentences is too long to spend talking about the airport, but in the next statement tell me I should have described the chairs in the terminal more and made the character say/think something this character would not think or say. But the number one rule of being an author is that you don’t engage with negative reviews, and I felt that it could also apply in the case of weird, incorrect, semi-aggressive feedback. The only one who ends up looking bad in those kinds of situations is the authors. They look desperate, and defensive–even if they’re trying their hardest to not be.

In the end, I thanked the person for their feedback, and they thanked me for taking it so well. I didn’t expect them to respond–so that was a shock–but the part about me taking it well floored me. Part of me wondered if I was supposed to take it well at all. Most writers should take critique well, especially if they ask for it. Negative feedback regarding your story isn’t about you as a person, it’s about your writing. You can’t let your ego get in the way of improving your work.

Then they told me it was an interesting story, and to keep working on it. At that point the whole thing hit levels of absurdity I wasn’t prepared for.

After I packed/cleaned a bit and mulled it over, I took a shower and realized the spider story kind of applied to this. As writers, we put ourselves out there, delighted grins on our faces, dead spider in bowl. After seeing it that way I spun it around to the opposite view; the person offering the crit is just another person. When you put your work out into the world, be it art or prose, people will find it. Whether or not they like it is always a variable you can’t account for. What made this critique so weird, I finally realized, was that it was smothered in the personal opinions of the person writing it, and they wanted it to be a completely different story. Even critically-acclaimed authors get people who don’t find their work appealing. Did you hear about that guy who lambasted Terry Pratchett recently? Dear gods… I’m not even going to link it and drive traffic to the article, but it was cringe-tastic. It was so bad, it needed a portmanteau.

But even the harshest review can have seeds of truth in it, and this strange critique I received probably does too, once I figure out what is actually valid advice. So now when I return to it, I’m going to go over what I wrote and see if I can see what this person was seeing. In the meantime, I’m also waiting to see if anyone else gives feedback, so I can compare it to what this person said.

I’m still very confused by it as a whole though. So, so confused. [Like, why did they think she stole the book?!] But it does make me realize that I take my beta readers a for granted just a tiny bit. Thank you, guys, for always reading carefully and being concise with your feedback/suggestions. I appreciate it. I so do!

P.S: I’ll have Atlantis: TVC Volume #2 ready for your eyes after I move, I promise!

I Live! [Sort of]

I know I’ve been quiet for a while, and I apologize. We’re preparing to move this weekend and it’s been crazypants. I have no idea what to expect; I’ve never moved into a new place with a toddler–just out of an old one.

So this will be interesting.

I also have a story to tell but I’ll have to do it tomorrow or the next day. It’s long, and right now I just want to sleep. Sleeeeeeep~

Do Not Break

Sometimes everything seems hopeless. But, a proverb says that the branch that bends in the wind does not break.

Ten weeks after leaving, getting back to Texas became all I could think about. I missed everything about it–having places to go, the big open sky above me, and of course my husband was there. Keeping a relationship alive by phone and Skype is difficult. [I applaud military wives; I was a basket case within two months–I have no idea how they do it for a whole deployment.]

You have no idea how long I made fun of this place for, until I moved there and fell in love. Seriously.

We fought often, usually over stupid things. He was terse, working all day and going home to a tiny room in a messy house, having to stay in his room after 9 pm every night. I was snappish after trying to keep my nephew from hurting my daughter all day, then trying to feed her and I healthy food using a microwave and a dorm fridge. Spoiler alert: she subsisted off microwave macaroni and cheese, crab sticks, baby carrots, and milk. She became addicted to “juice” [kool-aid] due to her six year old cousin constantly having a sippy cup of it, and is currently in withdrawal from that. I rarely ate and lost twenty pounds while I was there. My husband lived off fast food and pantry-stable snacks due to not being able to use the kitchen where he lived. His gout came back. I developed plantar fascitis. [This was due to having to favor my opposite foot back when I tore the ligament and not due to anything that happened while I was gone, it just happened to show up recently.] I hate admitting this.

I tried to make the best of it, but the truth was that we were miserable.

I don’t begrudge anyone any of it though. I know how lucky we were to have a roof over our heads for these past few months. I know how difficult it is to both share your home with people [even if they are family] and the guilt of staying in someone’s home and feeling like a complete burden. It’s not a situation I wanted to stay in forever, and though I love my family, the stress wore on me. I wanted to be in my own place again.

So about seven weeks in we had enough in savings to start looking at places to rent. I called management companies, private parties, and contacted apartment locators, but heard the same thing: you can’t do anything until your bankruptcy closes. Even then, no one will want you.

I was hitting the same wall on my own–no bankruptcies within the past ten years. Well isn’t that as long as one stays on record? Just say no bankruptcies! Why the weird wording? We found people that would rent to convicted felons before they would rent to people with a BK on their record. What? How is that…? Apparently stealing a car or murdering someone is more forgivable than saying, “We screwed up and had to use our mulligan.” The only reason we had to file was to protect ourselves from a predatory lender, not because we mismanaged our money. But no one wants to listen. It’s a sob story.

I found an apartment locator that claimed to help people in my situation. He was nice and responsive for the first three days we spoke. Now it’s been over a week since I have heard from him. Same as the rest, he dropped us and didn’t even have the courtesy to let us know. I wasn’t aware that we became sub-human scum during the past two and a half months!

That’s when the hopelessness hit–I would never go back to my beloved Texas. My husband seemed to hate the thought of speaking to me. We were probably going to get a divorce and I would be trapped in rural Missouri, forever.

Then the depression came, and I cried for days, non-stop. My parents don’t believe in depression, so they pretty much told me to put on my big girl panties and get over it. My husband wasn’t much help either. All he would say is, “I don’t know what you want me to say”, which made me cry harder. If he wasn’t willing to even put in a effort to reassure me, what was the point of struggling through this?

I felt useless. Hopeless. No one cared.

Moar crying gifs!

I laid in bed, and wished that I didn’t exist, because this whole situation had to be all my fault; if I didn’t exist, then this wouldn’t be happening. The only reason I was alive was to waste air and fuck everything up.

I don’t know what finally made my husband realize I was serious about feeling so bad, but one day he called and told me, “You are coming back here. We are going to live in my mother’s dining room until we find a place. It will suck, but at least we will all be together.”

Two days and an overnight car ride later I ended up back in Texas, living in a dining room on an air mattress. Seeing my husband again was awkward. I still love him, but it feels like we are such different people now. I think everything is being colored by my depression, which didn’t fully go away, and a serious lack of privacy. I’m trying to fake being ok until we get back into our own place, which I hope will dispel the rest of the feelings I have. We had to leave our cats at my parent’s temporarily because we weren’t allowed to bring them, so that could be a huge part of it. I feel terribly guilty over that. I don’t like feeling like this at all, but I know there is not much I can do about it until our situation changes. So until then…

Counting my blessings.

Swimming through the hopelessness.

Bending so that I don’t break.

Note #1: I am divulging this because I made a promise to myself to be open and honest with my readers and fans about my life. Life is never entirely sunshine and roses, and we shouldn’t pretend that it is. It sets up an “ideal life” that no one will ever be able to achieve.

Note #2: Due to this, my writing was… non-existent, so I lost a few weeks of time. This will push the release date of Atlantis: TVC Volume #2 back to Fall. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Note #3: I’ve been working on this post for a while, and while it was in draft, our bankruptcy closed. Hopefully this makes apartments more amenable to working with us! *fingers crossed*

Spoiler Alert: I’m Still Alive

So I was checking my stats page, and uh, this happened…

How’s that Churchill quote go? Something like, “You know you’re doing something right when people are googling to see if anyone has murdered you lately”? [That must be it…]

My brain’s first reaction was to panic and go, “Oh my god, someone is trying to kill me!” Then I re-read it and filtered it through the part of my brain that doesn’t jump to ridiculous conclusions and immediately start looking for the closest weapon.

For the record, I don’t know how well I could have defended myself with a Hello Kitty sippy cup, but dammit, I would have tried!

This led me to consider two points; Point A: I have an extremely common name. Point B: It sounds like someone is looking for a news article or trying to confirm a rumor. Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase myself.

A couple of news stories from last year popped up–articles about murders with people involved that have the same first name as me.

Ok. Next!

Oh look, a bunch of results for doctors named Melissa Wong; I obviously missed my calling. [They’re all alive and practicing obstetrics/gynecology though… as far as I can tell.]

I even went as far as page 10, AKA the back forty of Google results. But there was nothing even remotely involving those three words together.

The strange part about this is that none of those results linked to this website! So, either someone came from BFE of the internet [Insert obligatory AOL joke here] to find this site from that search, or my [murdered] future self is trying to tell me something…

You hear that, assassin? I’m on to you, and your little plan. [If it’s even formed yet.] It’s all over! Give up now–I have a sippy cup here with Hello Kitty your name on it!

[Speaking of which–Ghost of Future Self, why didn’t you tell me my killer’s name? Don’t come into my past and give me tropes with plot holes. Rude. You know better!]

In light of my future murder, the only logical thing to do now is to invest in a sentient, battle-ready school uniform. How else can I feel safe with an assassin out there, plotting my demise?

It’s the only way.

Plot Twist!

There are scenes in my story that I often can’t wait to get to. I will mull over these scenes while I’m cooking, showering, failing to sleep; re-writing and defining them in my head until it’s finally time for one of them in the story. I’ll be excited, nervous, eager–fingers flying over the keys as words spill from my head onto the previously blank page.

At least, that’s what typically happens.

Sometimes instead, I’ll decide to stop the previous day’s writing just before one of these scenes. I might do it to prolong the excitement and anticipation, to make me eager to dive right in the next day, or maybe I want a night to go over it one more time in Brainspace, before it goes from images to words. In this instance, it was the latter; I wanted to let it percolate overnight as I was tired, and writing tired [for me] results in some strange prose.

Unfortunately, in that small window of time, something drastic can happen, and everything will come screeching to a halt– like the combination of a writer, a full laundry basket, and a piece of paper that combines to form… a sprained wrist.

So I get to have my arm stuck in a brace for two weeks, and I can assure you that it is not conducive to typing in the slightest. In fact, this post was a test to see if typing one-handed would be in any way feasible. I can assure you that it is not. Also, I have nerve damage in my right arm, so this was my good arm. It seems that I get to play Life on Hard difficulty for the next fourteen days!

Maybe I can take this time to finally nail down some character designs for the new characters in Volume #2. If not then I can always catch up on my reading. I remember seeing a few things on sale on Amazon that piqued my interest…

[or I could lurk the fantasy writing forums on Reddit, but that is what I normally do…]

*nods*