The other day, I changed my About.me background photo for the first time in a while:
I like that site. It’s sort of an “artistic” version of LinkedIn, and I find it’s used by some interesting people. I may know you courtesy of it. [Waves.]
We are on a short break in Devon. Problem is the rental house doesn’t have the promised internet.
And getting mobile net on the phone in this rural coastal area is unpredictable at best. I’m sitting outside a shop right now, and just had a pile of emails come thru! I was able to check Twitter as well finally.
You feel so lost without the net nowadays. I’m seeing if anything can be done. If not, well, I’ll get lots of writing done on my down time.
Hopefully, all will be back to normal next weekend. If not before, see you then. :-)
Gazillion-selling author Harlan Coben’s recent, unfortunate, “Poland problems” led me to reflect. Actually, they probably “pushed” me over the line. I’ve decided I need a Facebook page.
As you may know if you’ve popped by here regularly over the last year and a half, I write under a pen name. That’s because some of what’s in my novels is based on real-life people I know, and some of them are also Facebook friends of mine under my real name. So I had not been rushing to use Facebook for my books even under my pen name in order to minimize the chance I’ll be “unmasked” by them as an author.
But once my Harper Collins published uncle became fully aware of what I’ve been up in to writing, I’d started to have second thoughts. Most authors are now on Facebook, and – more importantly – readers seem to like it and expect it. It’s an integral part of the social media “office furniture.”
So, yes, I give in. It’s overdue. Here’s a screenshot of it during “construction”:
If you are reading this, you may be on social media yourself too – with a blog, a Twitter account, Instagram, etc. Recently, some “guy” I’d never encountered before evidently took umbrage with my voicing my opinion on too many U.S. study abroad students’ immature behaviors. Regular visitors here also know I attribute those primarily to overzealous parenting coupled with inexperience with legal alcohol; but apparently “he” thought attacking me on Twitter personally would get a reaction.
I yawned: I’ve seen much worse. When you put yourself out there publicly in even the smallest way, you have to expect criticisms and even degrees of nastiness. We all know it comes with the territory.
I was wrong in my post the other day. “Melvin” didn’t go to Ukraine. I’d thought he had, but his ex-wife rang Mrs. Nello late Saturday and said he hadn’t gone after all.
And it looks like he won’t be going there again. After about 8 years of involvement and visiting for only short periods, it seems “Oksana” is suddenly not keen on him moving there for a semi-permanent stay.
The end of another routine, long distance romance? We hope it’s just that. But it looks much worse.
He had indeed just paid for a house there – and the house is evidently in her name ONLY. I won’t say how much money went towards it, but according to his ex-wife it was A HELLUVA LOT. One never knows, but right now it’s hard to believe he’ll see any of that money again.
Why in only her name? My initial reaction was to shake my head in disbelief. I said to Mrs. Nello that this “Oksana” is probably a “pro”: she knows how to “handle” foreign “suitors.”
If what has happened has indeed happened, it makes sense. Naturally she didn’t want “Melvin” moving there. It would have hampered her “business” if other men were also handing her money and visiting her occasionally.
You usually read about stuff like this in the Daily Mail, but never would imagine it could happen to someone you know. He did all of this with his eyes open. If it has gone as it seems to, he’s probably pretty embarrassed about it too.
It’s sad. I can’t comprehend what on earth he was thinking? He’s not a “stupid” man.
You may wonder why his ex-wife cares? That many another woman would revel in an ex-husband’s romantic misfortunes? Especially something like this?
Not in this case. They aren’t on bad terms. Yes, their marriage ended (he ended it), but she has since re-married happily. “Melvin” and her new husband even get along well.
It sounds a bit like a sitcom, I know.
In any case, we hope we just misunderstand. Yet I’m trying to think of another plausible explanation, and I can’t. One wonders how many men actually fall for this sort of thing?
Time for another cup of coffee. Hope you’re having a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. :-)
Over pre-lunch drinks before he headed to London (on the train) on New Year’s Eve (why would he want to spend New Year’s with his aunt and uncle, right?), I had an interesting chat with my 20 year old nephew. An Oxford Classics student, he is so bright he is frighteningly intimidating.
We ended up discussing modern writing and my books. “I sell Kindle books mostly,” I explained. “For some reason, I feel the print versions may ‘read’ better, but they can be ten times as expensive, and I’ve got no control over that. But if there weren’t e-books, I probably wouldn’t sell many books at all, given the price of the paperbacks.”
We also laughed about the evolution from print to e-reader not yet taking hold everywhere. “The Kindle isn’t big yet in the Classics,” he joked.
We then moved on to how we write today. Social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – has changed us so much, we agreed.
He suggested they have especially impacted how we follow news. “But no one has any time to reflect anymore,” he added. “Journalists rush to publish online, and sometimes they really get it wrong.”
Definitely. So much is happening in so many places, on so many platforms, shared by so many people who also aren’t officially journalists but are certainly worth reading. It’s great in so many ways – we follow people who are everywhere in the world.
Yet we also struggle to keep up. Our feeds overwhelm us. Tolerance for long passages, much less wading through complicated ones, is apparently becoming less.
Despite all the books out there, even e-books, one suspects many people now don’t really read full novels. That’s not a surprise. We all know even newspapers are not what they once were, although there are still some who do read print papers:
In my writing, I said, I try to take into account what may be a “short attention span” among some readers. So I deliberately compose short, tight paragraphs. I aim for no more than about five sentences, tops.
“I’ve noticed that,” my nephew replied, having read my first novel.
“But I also want depth and nuance. It’s a heckuva balancing act. Write too wordily, try to say too much, and you’ll lose your readers,” I related. “It’s a shame, because some things do take more than a few sentences to describe properly. A well-written descriptive paragraph is like a beautiful painting.”
Think about it. Look at so much fiction today. It is – bam! bam! bam! – so quick:
‘I love you!’
‘No, you can’t!’
Eh, no stealing that. That’s mine. I think it’s gotta be the opening lines to a future prize-winning, best seller. :-)
UPDATE: By sheer coincidence, clicking over for a “read” a little while ago, I noticed CNN has dramatically changed its web site:
As I looked around, it appears very blog-like. It reminds me even of some WordPress templates. ;-)
There seems heavy reliance on photos, videos, and short headlines. Yes, you can click through to longer pieces of course. But “reading” in depth seems assumed to be almost something that’s done by only the minority of visitors.
A quick review. Happy January 1st!:
Not a huge surprise to learn that. “Officially” it confirms what I had noticed. Those posts drew lots of views all year. (For several posts the comments noted in that snapshot seem “miscounted” though.)
Now, we see what 2015 brings. :-)
I don’t keep close tabs on visitors. However, I have noticed over nearly the year this blog has existed that my “Top Five” countries of daily “regular visitors” clicking in through the web (as separate from those of you who arrive via the WordPress reader) have by now come pretty consistently to be ranked like this each day:
1) U.S.A. [almost always first]
2) U.K. [usually second, but there have been days they’ve outnumbered the U.S.]
5) Canada [in variations on that 3, 4, 5 order].
Visitors from Australia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Italy, the United Arab Emirates (yes, really), and Hong Kong, also drop by regularly. [He waves.] Although some days none from those countries appear at all. So this snapshot yesterday afternoon was odd, to say the least, which is why I screen grabbed it:
That was a real surprise. No, no, and I don’t mean it was because someone from Georgia popped by. Rather, notice that the Irish had clicked through in abnormally large numbers – and I’ve not a clue why.
I wake up ridiculously early. So, curious, I had a peek again just after five this morning, UK time. So this is from the first few hours of today obviously:
Interesting. Anyway, in that spirit I’ve posted this “ridiculously early” too. ;-) Regardless of where you are reading this today (including you insomniacs – like me occasionally – the world over), “Hello!” :-)
We all know that genuine romances have begun thanks to the web. Marriages have even resulted. Numerous people’s lives have been happily transformed.
Then, looking on, there are certain relationships that begin over the net that give us pause. “Melvin” is divorced from a friend of my wife’s. After their breakup some 8 years ago, he had told his ex-wife about a Ukrainian named “Oksana.”
Yes, that’s right. I had vaguely thought they were reasonably close in age, but have recently been told she’s about 25 years younger than he is. (He is about ten years older than all of us.) Apparently she lives near Odessa. (In case you ever wanna stop by.) I’ve also been told he insisted he did not know her while they were still married.
Okaaaaay. Yes, you there, I can’t see you, but I bet you’re shaking your head too. Given the divorce, most of our info naturally comes via third parties. Over the years, we’ve had loads of unanswered questions.
Because it has long sounded, well, fishy. (There’s a shocker, eh!) Yet perhaps it’s a legitimate romance? Who are we to draw conclusions?
Still, even among an American or British, or European couple from the same country, we outsiders would probably gently question any such May-December relationship. What is “Oksana” getting out of it? Understand, “Melvin” is not exactly a British version of George Clooney either.
Then again, maybe there is love? But if there is, after 8 years a marriage usually happens in a long-distance relationship. Or at least some form of cohabitation has appeared.
A few weeks ago, when we were visiting his ex-wife, unexpectedly “Melvin” appeared. He had popped by for some reason, but the women were out. So I was able to chat with him alone and for longer than at any time since their divorce 8 years ago. Before it, he and I had been cordial, and even friendly.
He balanced on a sofa arm on the other side of the lounge, and breaking the momentary silence between us, he started the conversation: “I guess you’ve heard? Uh, Ukraine? Oksana?”
I said I had.
He seemed a bit uneasy. He said he’s moving to Odessa in the spring. I decided not to judge, to see if I could find out anything more.
I pointed out matter of factly that Ukraine’s not in the European Union, and unmarried he can’t just up sticks and settle there as if it were, say, Poland. He seemed a bit caught out, and replied he can stay 90 days without a visa, which is what he has been doing all these years – going back and forth for shortish periods.
He seemed to relax as we spoke, perhaps relieved I didn’t call him names or laugh at him or something.
“Is she Catholic or Orthodox?” I asked. (He’s CoE, but irreligious.)
“You do know there’s a war going on there right now?” (Hundreds of miles away from Odessa; and I knew that. I was just asking questions.)
“I’ve not been there,” I noted, “but I’m guessing living there is a lot different in some ways to living in Western Europe or America?” (He nodded.)
“How much Ukrainian have you learned to live there?” (A little. Not much, he said.)
I also voiced polite surprise at his saying “Oksana” has no desire to move here to Britain. To me, if you love someone – truly love someone – you’d live anywhere. (After all, he says he’s moving to Ukraine.) And a move to Britain is not exactly moving from Ukraine to Mars. He mumbled something about her not wanting to leave her family….
I write this post today because last night his ex-wife phoned Mrs. Nello, and during their chat noted that “Melvin” says he bought a house there several months ago. He also told her that in buying a house the Ukrainian authorities will let him stay. That would seem unlikely; but, then again, maybe Ukraine has some “foreign investment” scheme whereby if you bring in money, you are given residency?
Hmmm. Who knows the truth in all this? I do know he either chose to be evasive with me in not mentioning the house purchase, or he’s lying to his ex-wife about having bought the house. (As if lying to an ex-wife – lying to me hardly matters – has never happened ever before? I know.)
I don’t really care what he does with himself. “Melvin’s” an adult, and if he’s been content flying back and forth to Ukraine to see “Oksana” for nearly 8 years with no evident commitment from her, that’s his business. One has to believe money almost certainly went her way too.
My gut tells me it’s about money. I suppose I just feel a bit sorry for him too. Eight years? Geez. I hope he’s not going to feel like a complete fool at some point if he arrives there unannounced and walks in on “Oksana” and a Ukrainian boyfriend who’s about the same age as she is.
I know this post has zero to do with my books. Ah, but given what I write, I look for inspiration all over the place. At the very least, this episode provides me with some potentially useful “fiction” future story material! ;-)
Hope you’re having a good Saturday, wherever you are reading this in the world. :-)
UPDATE: Having seen this post, Mrs. Nello said I’d “had quite a go at him.” Actually, if I sounded harsh, I didn’t mean it. It’s just the whole situation sounds to me, well, decidedly odd and full of potentially big trouble for him.