Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Bits and Pieces for a Friday

It’s Friday morning, and I’m once more not ready with a well-organized, deeply thought out topic. I have ideas, mind you, but I don’t have as much time during the week as I used to so it all kind of gets put off and we end up with this sort of loose collection of nonsense. Here goes.

-Well, it finally happened. The spammers, the bots, the spam-bots–they’ve gotten to be too much. This week alone, 8 Anonymous spam-bots tried to leave comments on the blog. They go in blogger’s built-in spam filter, but they also come straight to my e-mail. I decided against ‘no moderation’ for a reason–I hate when I can’t see the comments other people have made on a blog while I’m leaving my own–and I allowed anonymous posts for a reason, but no more. I suspect once the bots realize they can’t leave their little self-promotions for virus inducing websites here, they’ll go away, and the recent boom in visitation will come back down to normal levels. I hope the change doesn’t cause any issues; if it does, leave a comment (hah hah!). Actually, if you want to leave a comment on this or other blog posts but can’t, check my profile, my e-mail is there, and send me a nasty-gram that way.

Hoochie mama, that’s a lot of spam!

-Interesting posts this week from Chuck Wendig and Stacy McKitrick on reviews this week. Now, if you’ve read this before from me, feel free to skip to the next block–maybe there’s something new there. Everyone is free to make their own choice about whether to review or not, and how and what they review. It bothers me quite a bit, however, that people who do review feel like they can’t always be honest in what they’re saying. If you don’t like a book, there should be no fear whatsoever that the author or their legion of fans is going to come after you, or launch a smear campaign against your own book when it comes out. As I said there, it’s outrageous that people get outraged when their books (or their favorite books by their favorite authors) get less than four or five stars.

I find myself thinking of a routine I saw done years and years ago by comedian David Brenner. He was talking about mosquitoes, and how horrible it is to wake up in the middle of the night with that nasty little, whiny buzz in your ear, the sound that a mosquito is closing in for a bite. But, noted Brenner, it’s the male mosquito that buzzes, to attract a mate. Male mosquitoes don’t bite. “So,” said Brenner, “if you wake up and you hear it–bzzzzzzzzz–just turn over, go back to sleep, it’s nothing to worry about. But,” he said, and paused. “If you hear nothing….”

I think you can figure out the implication of that.

Jonathan Franzen made the news for a 5600-word rant against e-books, Apple, Amazon, and Jennifer Weiner in the Guardian this week. Ironic, considering his new book is available as an e-book from Amazon. See Porter Anderson for a great round-up on this.

-And for my own technology rant: yesterday I made a phone call for work, reached my target, introduced myself and why I was calling (the guy I reached is no stranger to my organization). He let me get through this spiel, then said, in a very impatient, snippy way, “I’ll have to call you back. I’m in a meeting.” This last was said in a way that made it sound like I had a lot of nerve, bothering him while he was in a meeting. I was properly apologetic and professional (I strive to be like Mr. Pink, if you know what I mean) and hung up without taking more of his time, but after I did, all I could was, “If you’re in a meeting, why the f*** did you answer the phone?”

-I’m beta reading for a friend, and loving it. Not just the story, not just the fact that it’s out of my genre (and, truth be told, I still struggle a bit to figure out what it is I’m writing), but the fact that I see things that will help me. Word choices, sentence and paragraph structure, pacing–once more I say, if you haven’t beta read, you should. Help others while helping yourself.

-More on the writing front, I’m working on a short for the next anthology from Elephant’s Bookshelf (and here’s a great interview Matt Sinclair did with Richard Pieters, author of one of the stories in Summer’s Double Edge), and, slowly but surely, I’ve been cracking into BARTON’S WOMEN.

That’s it for me, how’s it all going for you? Have a great weekend!

*Spam wall by Freezelight

12 Responses

  1. Turning off anonymous comments was the best move I ever made in dealing with spam, although there are still a few "named" ones.

    It's nice to critique and beta, as it feels like you are helping each other.

    Have a good weekend too, Jeff!

  2. Since I turned off anonymous comments, I haven't received one spam. Before – gobs and gobs. I could have turned the capcha thingy on, but I hate those things!

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning me! That was a surprise. It was Chuck's post and Kristen Lamb's, too (I believe) that got me to thinking about my own reviews (although they hardly constitute an actual review!). I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and see where it gets me.

  3. That stuff isn't half bad if you slice it, fry the living daylights out of it, and sandwich it between toast. LOL

    Enjoyed the post. Wishing you a spam-free inbox.

  4. Thanks, Nick. I rarely receive any 'named' spam. Though every once in a while, I do get an offer to plug someone's sunglasses or something.

  5. No problem, Stacy. In the end, I guess we all have to do what makes us comfortable. I do wonder where we're going to get our dissenting opinions from if this positive only trend continues.

  6. I ended up disabling the anonymous comments last week. And I had to scoff a tin of that spam stuff as part of a competition during our last block party on res :p I handled it better than some of the others.

    I kid you not, I only just watched Reservoir Dogs a couple of nights ago. Great movie. As for people who do stupid things like answer their phone in a meeting and then act like it's your fault and hang up… those people are not very nice, and that's putting it extremely mildly.

    Best of luck with the piece you're working on for the next Elephant Bookshelf publication and with your progress on BARTON'S WOMEN. 🙂 Hope you're having a great weekend.

  7. Thanks for coming by, Bonnee. Reservoir Dogs is yet another one of those movies I can't help but watch if I come across it on the TV; I just can't help myself!

    Oh, the crazy things you do on campus. I knew some guys who got into swallowing goldfish. I resisted that one. And that guy? He did not call me back. Looks like I'm going to have to interrupt him again this week.

  8. DIE, SPAM BOTS, DIE! They should go away. They did for me. Thank God. The Franzen thing cracks me up. And yeah, I do NOT understand why people answer the phone when they cannot talk. I mean really. Oh, and I think you're literary fiction.

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