Last week I jokingly said on Facebook that as my ‘Val’s Tales’ business page was being ‘new and improved,’ obviously something was bound to go wrong. (Facebook is the dedicated social media site where I often publish short stories to give readers a flavour of my writing style, and encourage interest in my books.)
In some ways I was right, and in some ways wrong. Apart from moving things around so they were more difficult to find, and making previews appear in two separate screens for no apparent reason, I managed to post something saying I’d neglected my page for a few weeks but intended to start a new series. So far, so good even if the advance warning email from Facebook didn’t make sense, and it looked as if they were gearing up to make it more of an online ‘shop’ if I wanted to pay for the privilege.
Who would have imagined many years ago that an idea to get college students to recognise and know one another could have morphed into something we take for granted today, even if it was developed by a 23-year-old genius?
For some reason my laptop has been on go-slow recently and seemed to take an age to wake up. Think grumpy teenager during the school holidays, who is like a zombie to start but wakes up when everyone else is winding down for the night. The other day, someone who lives abroad called in to say Hello and by pure chance I discovered his job is in IT. Within a few minutes he discovered the problem, which could be easily fixed free of charge if he could pop into work to get the part and return to install it. Unfortunately, he was flying home the next day so even if he posted it to me, I didn’t have the expertise to do it myself.
The laptop is less than two years old, but it seems things today are made to last a year at most, and then thrown away for the latest model which might, or might not be better. When I was growing up, if something broke Dad fixed it, or if he couldn’t there was someone who could. I wonder if the people causing disruption by protesting about the environment would be better off using their energy in groups such as ‘Men in Sheds’? No, that’s not a gender bias; male or female, they are more interested in getting a project completed (and they are amazing) rather than who makes the tea. (I think it delegates to whoever is not busy, and you are excused duties if you supplied biscuits.)
As part of my marketing strategy, I had built up a following on my Facebook personal page but didn’t realise how much I actually relied on the site. Being basically housebound, it was not only my contact with the big wide world, keeping in touch with the developments in the lives of friends, but also where I looked when I needed a repairman, electrician or hairdresser. I rarely watch television so it was also where I discovered what was in the current news, how many cats had gone missing in neighbouring roads, and what was happening in the local community.
There was obviously a blip in the new system with Facebook as all of a sudden my games progress had disappeared, (yes, I know, but playing the odd game keeps my mind active), I didn’t have a friend in the world (last count I think was about 500 carefully vetted and very much two-way supportive) and I no longer had access to the twenty or so groups I belonged to for both social and writing purposes.)
I was persona non-grata, a non-entity, a newbie with no track record, and apparently open to suggestions that I might be interested in this or that for no apparent reason. My profile had slipped into a time warp and I couldn’t respond to open groups under my own name, or access private groups without reapplying under my business name which was the only one I could use to post. It demonstrated how important it was to be ‘known’ in the writing world, even if it was only to be recognised for my off-beat sense of humour.
As I might have mentioned, we are in the early stages of arranging a local book festival so having garnered email addresses from local authors who expressed interest, the sudden ‘Silence of the lambs’ might have made them apprehensive. All these problems reminded me of my book ‘Spirit of Technology.’
A similar communications meltdown inspired this story when I realised how much we have grown to depend on technology. In modern terms, without the ubiquitous Wi-Fi how would people use their phones to know where they were, order their shopping, gifts, books or clothes, communicative with friends or family, or even in some circumstances earn their daily living?
Here’s the blurb for the book: ’
‘A message from a stranger.
A modern day woman responds to an e-mail from an unknown contact. Against her better judgement she continues the correspondence with a man who tells her he was born in the 19th century. Despite feeling an initial attraction, her concerns grow when he reveals secret details of her personal life. Undecided whether it’s a friend winding her up, and worried it could be a stalker, the truth is the last thing she expects.’
This was actually written nearly five years ago but is still relevant today, even though I no longer use my original pen name. Going onto Amazon to ‘copy and paste’ the blurb for this blog post, I was delighted to see a review from a few weeks ago I’d never read before.
A very interesting little story. It wastes no time in working up to things, it’s straight in, so the reader immediately, along with the main character, wonders what on earth is going on. Along with the MC, you become incredulous and unbelieving, but quite understanding how she goes along with it even though she’s not at all sure it’s real. How many of us have got carried away talking to someone online who we’ve never actually met? But someone who knows all about you and what you’re doing and where you’re going? That’s a tad scary! But it also highlights that, in this technological age, it’s hard to hide. Our electronic gadgets that we’ve all become attached to, monitors everything we do, where we go and so on. Certainly a story that makes you think.
I have no idea who the reviewer is, or why it came to their notice after all this time, but I am sincerely grateful. Thank you.
On behalf of authors everywhere, especially those without big name backing or budgets, if you read and enjoy a book, please consider taking a minute or two to post a review on Amazon, or even just share with your friends on your personal social media sites. You never know if your few simple words will give hope to a dispirited, starving author slaving away in a cold, dark attic. I might have a home office and central heating but the idea is the same.
A little encouragement goes a long, long way. Thank you.
See you next week.