bunny

Bunny Poop

I love roses. It’s a bit early, but this morning I realized that it was time to fertilize. Thus began my annual stress of getting enough of just the right kinds of fertilizer for my roses. It’s an investment, but I hate wasting money on the wrong stuff. I got out my notes and reviewed what I needed.

As the day wore on, I went to clean out the bunny cage. See my cute bunny? bunnyShe’s actually an evil creature with a wicked bite. I got her as a trainer fiber bunny. (Not much fiber, easier than an angora, and yes her fur spins up luscious when mixed with wool and alpaca.) As I was cleaning the cage, I remembered a friend talking about the wonders of bunny poop as fertilizer. It was one of those half-heard conversations that take a while for my brain to process.

I certainly had enough bunny poop to fertilize all the roses. (I’m a bad bunny mommy and the cage needed cleaning badly.) A bit of research and I discovered that bunny fertilizer would be delightful for those roses. No skimping this year!

While I was dancing happily around the rose garden spreading pellets of goodness, it occurred to me that there is probably a metaphor here. How many times in my life have I been shoveling out the manure dropped on me while struggling to make ends meet in another area?

Bunny poop. May be my new catch phrase for life.

We’ll see how the roses like it.

 

Watch out for the Edge.
author Joseph Lallo

Joseph Lallo Returns!

Back in 2012, I interviewed an indie author who had really impressed me, Joseph Lallo. Today, I’m happy to present a follow up to that interview.

D: I’ve been a fan of yours for years. One of my favorite blog posts of all time is the one in which you announce that you are now a full-time writer. That was…amazing. Can you tell me more about how that felt?

JL: It was surreal. For days I felt like at any moment they were going to call me up and say, “No, really, you can’t quit. Come back here and be a grownup.”

I’d debated and deliberated on it for so long, though, that I felt more relief than anything else. Of course, the way it actually went down sort of derailed me a bit. I gave them five weeks notice, and then they decide, at 3PM on the day before I was supposed to leave that I shouldn’t come back the next day. I went from “Wow, you know, it’s finally happening. It’ll be so strange to walk in here tomorrow and know it is my last day” to “Wait, what? You fired me the day before my resignation kicked in? Wha… I… Can you do that?”

Wistful to confused in three seconds flat.

D: How do you feel about being an indie, now?

JL: I’m still glad, and proud, to be an indie. Overall I feel it was the best choice for me. I like the freedom that comes from making all of my own decisions, and the flexibility of not being tied down with too many contracts. There are plenty of times that a marketing team or a staff editor would have been really helpful, but I’ve heard that even the big publishers are starting to put the onus onto the authors to do most of the marketing and editing, so the value of traditional isn’t very clear anymore. It would be awesome to see one’s books in the local bookstore, but these days people carry their local bookstore in their pockets!

D: Are your challenges changing as your career progresses?

JL: Well, the ebook gold rush is over. Sales are leveling out now that the early adopters have adopted, but the number of authors is still increasing exponentially. That means the slices of the pie are getting thinner and finding ways to stand out are getting more difficult. Funny enough, the problem isn’t that there is an endless supply of bad books flooding the market–though there IS no shortage of them. The thing that really makes it more difficult these days is the endless supply of GOOD books. It isn’t hard to stand out in a sea of drek. People will pick a good book over a bad book ten times out of ten. But if the choice is which good book out of a list of fifteen good books? Then the odds are with the reader. It’s a GREAT time to be a reader. For an author, it means you have to keep stepping up your game. But there’s nothing wrong with being driven to improve.

I’m also finding that as my series get longer and I produce more series in general, keeping the fans happy is tricky. I can only write so many words a day. So do I write two books in a row in the Book of Deacon series to try to build momentum? Or do I alternate back and forth in order to keep both sets of fans happy? So far I haven’t had any troubles coming up with ideas, so that’s at least not an issue… yet.

D: You have more printed books available now than when I interviewed you before. How is that process going? Any recommendations?

JL: You know, paperbacks are not big money makers for most of the year, but during the holiday season they enjoy a big spike. Plus, they give you something to autograph for fans. It is really useful to have them, and I’m working on generating them for my entire backlist. The process is tricky though, because I try to have the covers professionally made. That means I have to do the interior in order to get a page count, then use that to calculate the spine width for the artist to use for the cover art, then circle back and add the image. It takes time and effort, and I always feel like it would be better to be writing.

I definitely feel that you should get them done, though. Print On Demand is best unless your merchandising mojo is particularly strong. CreateSpace is what I use, but Ingram Spark and Lulu are good too. Just do as much of the work yourself as you can. Getting an artist to do a cover costs much less and has better results than using their cover service, and interior formatting takes some trial and error in a word processor to get it done, but once you’ve got the process down it’s not that difficult.

D: Are you still working with Smashwords? Any thoughts?

JL: I’m indeed still doing all of my non-Amazon distribution through Smashwords, and it has been working out great. Because I’ve had a fairly strong track record, Mark Coker (the guy in charge) has worked directly with me on more than one occasion to help set up promos and guide my release strategies. I’ve even met him at a convention to chat face to face.

In theory I could earn more money by submitting directly to the various sales outlets, but Smashwords handles all of my updates, price changes, and format conversions, plus gives me access to stores that don’t have direct submission methods, to the time and effort saved is more than worth the percentage they take.

D: You’ve done two Nano novels. Has doing Nano influenced your over-all writing process?

JL: Actually, I’ve now done three! This past November was a success, so I’ve got Free-Wrench, The Other Eight, and the (now in Beta) sequel to Free-Wrench called Skykeep. That’ll be out in March, maybe.

NaNo has definitely helped me to streamline my writing process, coaxing me into doing better outlines and sticking to my word count goals. It also gives me a chance to work on stories outside my main series and develop new ideas quickly, although if things keep going the way they’re going the NaNo books will just become additional series.

D: What is your “process” these days?

JL: Right around when I’m finishing a given book, I’ll start talking to the fans about what they’d like to see next from me. Usually it boils down to me alternating my main series, so if I’m just wrapping up a sci-fi book, it’ll usually mean a Book of Deacon novel.

From there I’ll look at the gaps in the series. Will it be a prequel, will it be a sequel? Which threads should I pick up on? Which ones should I tie up? Once I have the slot in the timeline I’ll start tracing out a beginning, a middle, and an end. If I’m feeling particularly dedicated I’ll do a chapter by chapter outline, but more often than not after I get the first two or three chapters thumbnailed I’ll just start writing and make it up as I go. Incidentally, I’m a recent convert to Scrivener as a writing tool and it is really growing on me Skykeep is the first full novel I’ve written in it, and my next Book of Deacon novel is about 1/3rd of the way through in it as well.

If I start to weave around and get off the original plan for the plot, I’ll usually go with the flow unless it starts to clash with the intended direction of the series or wouldn’t work with prior events. That circles forward until it’s complete. I try to do at least 3000 words a day right now, and I’m hoping next year to bulk that up to 5-7k.

D: What is your editing process? Has this changed?

JL: My editing process has remained fairly consistent. I don’t do any serious editing until I’m entirely finished writing the plot. As I write, I make notes to myself with “***” on either side. Once I hit the last page, it’s in alpha. Sometimes I’ll send this out to some friends and fans, but usually I wait until Beta for that. I circle back to the start and do a search for all of the notes and work my way through a second time, applying the changes, combing out some of the grammar snags, and fixing the flow.

At this point I consider it Beta and send it out to the readers. While they’re working on it, I’ll start another small project. After a few readers finish I’ll see if there’s any feedback that needs to be applied as changes, and type them up. At this point I may or may not do another read through just to see if there are glaring problems that anyone missed, then it is off to the editor to be proofread and corrected. Once I get it back I’ll apply edits as needed and address any notes the editor left behind, then format it up for release.

D: If you could go back in time to the moment you first thought of self-publishing, and offer a word of advice to yourself (and others like you) what would it be?

JL: I’d definitely urge myself to take the leap to full-time author a little earlier. I’d warn myself that it won’t always be easy, and that I need to be thinking about marketing at every step of the process. If 2010 me had known to get a newsletter set up, I’d be in a much better position right now, that’s for sure.

D: Anything else you’d like to say?

JL: I’d just like to thank you once again for talking to me! It is always great to share what knowledge I have, and it is enlightening to take a moment and think about my own process.

D: Thank you! And thank you for all of the hours of delightful entertainment that you’ve given me.

Artificial Evolution CoverJoseph Lallo’s latest book, Artificial Evolution, hits the virtual shelves TODAY!

You can get it from:

sadbunny

Depression

sadbunnyIn the aftermath of Robin Williams’s death, there has been a lot of talk about depression. A friend asked me to write this article, which may be the hardest thing I’ve ever written. So—Jordana—this is for you.

Jordana is clinically depressed. You wouldn’t know it to look at her. She’s beautiful, smart, witty. Funny. Very funny. She’s the life of the party. Most people don’t know about her struggles. I’ve watched her fight this battle for many years. She’s amazing. Strong. Jordana’s diagnosis came late in life. With medication and help from doctors, she’s getting better. But when depression makes the news like it has recently, it breaks her heart. She sees every snide comment about weakness, lack of faith, etc. as being pointed straight at her.

To my mind, the worst thing about Jordana’s battle with this disease is the shocking amount of abuse she’s taken for it. She’s reached out for help and received insults, coldness, admonitions to just be strong. She is strong. If she weren’t, she wouldn’t still be here.

Purportedly well-meaning people speculate about what is wrong in Jordana’s life. Is it abuse? Lack of faith? Is she just not trying hard enough? They tell her that Jesus would never have been depressed.

This sort of uninformed abuse has not only made Jordana less likely to reach out to others in the future, it has driven her from the church. What should be a community of support and hope has become a place where Christians shoot their wounded.

When my mother had cancer, her doctors told me that each cancer is unique. So it is with depression. I’ve talked to a lot of people with depression. I’ve suffered from it myself. And I’ve found that each person’s experience of depression is unique. Some of the abuse that Jordana has dealt with comes from people not understanding that—and not understanding that there are different types of depression.

Humans are spirit, mind,  and body. Depression can attack each area, and not only does it manifest differently in each case, each type seems to require a different approach. People who are familiar with one type of depression may have seen a miraculous healing of that type of depression and believe that they can apply the same technique to every victim of depression. But the end result of this approach can be devastating.

Spirit. There is such a thing as spiritual oppression or depression. This spiritual attack strikes at a deep level that only prayer and support from others with similar beliefs can help. It takes love, patience, faith, and prayer, which can banish this type of depression like the sun washes away mist.

Mind. Another type of depression that I’ve observed is what I would call mental depression. This is generally brought on by a precipitating event—the death of a loved one, chronic illness, financial trouble, the death of hope. People tend to understand this type of depression. Of course you’re depressed, they’ll say. Anyone would be. Drugs may help as a quick pain reliever, but recovering from this type of depression is largely a matter of time. This is where it can be helpful for a friend to come and take someone out for a day to try to break the destructive cycle of depression. Love, prayer, care, consideration—taking time to see and to be what is needed for a friend can make all the difference in the world to someone’s recovery, because recovery is possible.

Body. Last, there is clinical depression, a depression of the body. This is a physical condition, a physical illness as real as the flu—or cancer. Just as a person with cancer can’t heal herself by wishing the cancer gone, a person with clinical depression can’t just “get over it.” Yes, people with clinical depression need the support and love of friends. Yes, they need prayer. But they also need the help of medical professionals to deal with what is going on in their bodies.

In all cases, I believe prayer helps. But it is particularly discouraging to a person of faith to be told that their faith should be enough to heal them and that their failure to heal is proof they don’t have enough faith. This is neither Biblical nor loving. God put Job’s friends in their place when they suggested the same thing. Despite repeated prayers, God chose not to heal the Apostle Paul—who through faith healed many—of the thorn in his flesh. God did not disown Paul for not having enough faith—because it wasn’t a question of faith. And neither is Jordana’s depression.

Let me make one thing clear: depression is deadly. I’ve lost friends to it. Once you’ve cried at the grave of a friend who took her own life, you’ll never ignore depression again. You can’t just hope they’ll get better. And if you are lucky—very lucky—you’ll get one chance to help.

So Jordana wanted me to ask you—to beg you: be sensitive to those suffering from depression. They don’t choose to be where they are, and your help, your understanding, your tenderness, and your willingness to simply listen may be the bit of love that gets them through today.

Jordana also asked this: when someone has chosen to end their life, don’t blame their loved ones. Those people are hurting, their hearts breaking with grief and loss. Blaming them may make life make sense to you, but it isn’t an honest perspective. If you must cast blame—blame the disease.

Finally, I would add, be kind to everyone around you. You don’t know what they may be going through. Any one of them may be secretly depressed, and your kindness could make all the difference.

earth

To Answer Your Question…

earthThis post is in response to a bit of on-line drama that I witnessed between two of my friends and a third party who I do not know. It left me deeply saddened. Generally, I’d stay out of it, but one of my friends asked a question that requires an answer. For someone who knows me to ask this question, it means that I have been too silent, too reserved. I’m not looking for more drama — will not engage in it. But I must answer what I believe was an honest question.

First: an analogy. There are a lot of indie authors who go on Twitter every few minutes and scream, “buy my book!” That doesn’t mean they’re bad authors. It doesn’t mean that all indie authors are bad. It means they don’t know how to market their books, or perhaps they do. (Watched any pharmaceutical ads lately?) That is how they try to sell their books.

You won’t see me going around yelling for people to “buy my book!” But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to. It just means that method of communication doesn’t work for me. I figure — if you want it, you’ll buy it. But don’t think I don’t care about sales or whether people love my baby.

Now: the question. A friend and I were exchanging comments that someone had died as an atheist and how terribly sad this was. A second friend asked what being an atheist had to do with it. I suspect that this person felt we were discussing the method of death, but the point wasn’t how the person died, but that the person had died without Jesus. Perhaps it was because we had used the phrase “without hope” — but that is not relating to depression, it is relating to the future. (Depression is a different topic, and one that I believe is not related to the rest of this post. Yes, Christians get depressed. They get cancer and colds, too.)

At the heart of this is an anthropological difference — a world-view difference. We were speaking from a different mind-set. And in order to explain that mind-set, I need to explain my world-view. Perhaps this will answer the person who chimed in who hates all Christians, but perhaps not. I’m sorry to say that if you can find it in your heart to hate all ____ based on generalities, you may find you have some problems with other groups as well. Prejudice is a sneaky thing, forgive me for saying. It happens to all of us. It is easy to hate someone we don’t understand. Regardless of our religious or philosophical bent, we have to keep an eye out for how quickly prejudice can creep in.

So — to understand my world-view, to answer the question of why we were so sad, here are the relevant bits from what I believe:

  • The universe we live in is at war.
  • God created humanity as the sparkling jewel of His creation. Each human is His greatest treasure. Humans are spiritual beings, much more than the flesh we inhabit.
  • God wants nothing more than for humans to love Him. He also knows that love can never be coerced. It must be freely given, freely chosen. So He gave us freedom.
  • God’s enemy took advantage of the choice that God gave to humanity and convinced the first humans to doubt God’s love. They chose to follow the enemy. They left their first love for another who promised them something more than what they had. Humans haven’t changed much.
  • As a result of that first choice, our bodies die. We can be killed by ___ (insert religious group, disease, war, weapon, food, vice, whatever your passion or fear may be here). In the end, something will kill us. Be it age-related illness or just plain stupidity, we’re not getting out of this world alive. In our deepest hearts, we know this is not how it is supposed to be. But certain death is our reality.
  • Most humans have an opportunity to choose during their life. I’m not talking religion here. I’m saying: one-on-one you choose for yourself whether you love Jesus or not. Whenever possible, the enemy muddles that choice with lies and deception. Often, he uses religion to drive people away from God.
  • Jesus is my dearest friend, the love of my heart. I’ve made my choice. This gives me hope, because when this body dies, I will be with Jesus.
  • Some people choose not to believe in Jesus. Others actually believe and choose not to follow Him. I believe that when these people die, they will spend eternity without Him. They will have what they have chosen.
  • People talk about Hell. God created Hell as a place for the enemy to reside. The rest of the universe is God’s realm, full of wonder and exploration, adventure and beauty. God didn’t create Hell for humanity and He would not willingly send any human there. The only way humans go to Hell is if they choose to go there, by choosing to go where He is not.
  • And that is why we were sad. Because it is possible that someone we were fond of had chosen to go where there was no God.

Now — you can hate me for feeling that way. You can think I’m crazy. The person who posted who did not know me surely will. But while there is breath in my body, no friend of mine will not know that they have a chance to make that choice.

AND — for those who are into hard sell, who argue that I don’t make posts like this often enough, I will go one step further. Jesus died to make sure that each human had a right to make that choice. So I will defend my friends’ rights to choose — WHICHEVER way they choose. And I will respect my friends’ choices, even when I do not agree with them and even when they make me sad.

And THAT is why my non-Christian friends are not bombarded with “come-to-Jesus” messages.

Normally I post a warning at the top of my “religious” posts. I did not on this one. It was not an omission. If I have given anyone offense, I apologize for the offense — but not the words.

Because some questions deserve an answer.

Daniel Ottalini

Daniel Otallini – Steampunk Fun

I met Daniel Otallini when he joined Heart Ally Books’ author list. I was immediately impressed and he was gracious enough to do an interview with me, but my publisher made me wait until she posted her interview first. And then she waited to post hers until his latest novella was finished and in full distribution. WHEW! So — at long last, the extremely overdue interview…with Daniel Ottalini.

Daniel OttaliniDeleyna: What made you decide to go indie?
Daniel: I’m an impatient person! Honestly, I wanted to be done when I was done, not wait around for submission letters to be reviewed. Also, with all the new ebook technology, I figured I should give it a try. I had heard horror stories about traditional publishers, but I also liked having the control that being an indie provides.

Deleyna: Were there some hurdles that you struggled with?
Daniel: Price – when you’re an indie, the price can be a big challenge. Also, some review places won’t review a book if it is self-published. I tried my best, but the majority of my reviews came from people who bought the book on a whim or who I met by happenstance. Places like Goodreads can be a fantastic resource if you can use it wisely. I found my best beta-reader there after he gave me a three star review for my first novel. His critique was amazing, so I went back, and even he thinks that Copper Centurion is better!

Deleyna: What are your thoughts about print verses epub? I notice that you produce both. Do you find print has more challenges? Tell us about your choices regarding print — how do you make it affordable?
Daniel: Print has its challenges only because I have to pay additional in order to get the pdf formatted properly for print. That, plus the cover and back art, lead to a moderate increase in price. For Brass Legionnaire, I had the price set pretty low. Amazon lowered it a bit more, but my ‘cut’ through Createspace didn’t change much. When I put out Copper Centurion, the Price was initially five bucks higher, but someone lowballed it on B&N and knocked the price down to the point that, technically, I shouldn’t be receiving royalties from Createspace. That is the crux of the matter. I control the ebook copy entirely, whereas a print version can be available through different distributors, some of whom can drop the price in an attempt to price war with amazon.

Deleyna: You’ve been working through Kickstarter, something that has interested me for a while. Any words of wisdom after you’ve now launched two successful campaigns?
Daniel: Set your sights low, make rewards people want, and use your first kickstarter to help the second. Also, I would say it is easier (and better) to write a novel and publish it yourself, get some fans, then do a kickstarter for the second one. You’ll have a natural group of people willing to support you, especially if you point out that, with their help, the next one will be bigger and better. That’s how I worded mine. So far, each kickstarter has helped me pay roughly 2/3 to 1/2 of the costs of each book, depending on illustrations.

Deleyna: How long did it take before you felt like you’d “made it” as a “real” author?
Daniel: I think it will be more real to me when I start getting reviews from other websites, and not just on Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N. I just got my first review the other day (http://gnostalgia.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/review-copper-centurion/) and it blew me away that someone actually thought my book was good enough to review. Personally, I think I’ll have ‘made it’ when I can live on my self-published income alone, but until then I’m a work in progress!

Deleyna: Aren’t we all? What is your editing process?Brass LegionnaireDaniel: I’m one of those people who likes to use pen and paper to outline the novel, then I’ll type it up. Generally after I finish up a novel, I’ll send it to two or three beta readers after going over it once or twice myself. I’m constantly rereading the entire novel while I type it up. After that, I send it to my editor, who is pricy, but well-worth it as she does both content and copyright editing (she also loves the book and storyline, so she has an almost better vision of the story than I do!)
I give it a few more passes once she’s done, then send it off to the formatter.

Deleyna: What words of advice do you have to encourage my readers?
Daniel: Take a chance! Even if it is just one indie or self-published or small published book a month, take a chance on something new. Resources like EPIC tend to find some diamonds in the rough, so to speak, so use them to help find books you may enjoy. Oh, and if you like it, leave a review! Nothing makes an author’s day like a good review of a book, even if it is just a few words of enjoyment and thanks for a good book.

Deleyna: If you could go back in time to the moment you first thought of self-publishing, and offer a word of advice to yourself (and others like you) what would it be?
Daniel: Find more beta readers and save some more money! I probably should have saved up more before publishing BL and had CC closer to being done so I didn’t go a year between releases. As it is, this year I aim to finish two short stories and Iron Tribune, Steam Empire Chronicles book #3, so I’ve got a tad bit on my plate (one already down though!)

Deleyna: Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks so much for having me, and keep an eye out for Antioch Burns, my new novella set in the world of the Steam Empire Chronicles.

7 Things Men Should Be Learning from #YesAllWomen

No, I’m not jumping on a band wagon.

Or… maybe I am. Because this particular band wagon is definitely going my way.

“Women’s issues” are a hot button with me. They show up in my writing. They show up in my nightmares. I’ve heard too many stories from women all over the world.

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I remembered more examples. Worse. One involved quitting a job because I didn’t want to work for a misogynistic pig, and the eventual relief when I knew he was in jail, because it meant that someone had found a way to stand up to him. He’d already killed two women before I began to work with him, and I quit a job I loved rather than take a chance at being his third victim.

Some men’s — and some women’s — reactions to the stream have left me stunned. They just don’t get the purpose of the discussion.

Some say these women are victims.

Some trolls are attacking the women who are brave enough to speak out.

So — here’s what I think men should be learning from #YesAllWomen.

1) Gender discrimination and abuse are a part of our society. Women live with it every day. Yes, we know not all men are bad, but far too many haven’t seen the reality we live with, and of those who have, many have chalked it up as “fun” and “harmless.” This is a “thing” and it is real. It is sad. Maybe understanding this will help you understand other areas of discrimination in the world, because this is simply one of many.

2) Women aren’t victims. They’re smart, situationally aware and many of them are armed all-the-time. If you attack her, she will fight back in some way. Many of them will shoot you.

3) When an innocent man approaches a woman, he should think about how his approach may seem to her, given what she’s been through in her life. If a woman over-reacts, she isn’t being a b*. She’s reacting from the harm done to her in the past. Don’t forget #2. Approach with caution.

4) The next time you see someone harassing a woman, consider stepping in, because most of these idiots will back down if another man steps up. Why? Because the men who attack women are after easy prey. Most back down when a real man stands up. Yes, you may get called names, but you could save a woman from harm. You have a chance to educate the stupid among your gender. While I’m sure all of their mothers tried to teach them better, a lot of men have learned how to treat women from their fathers or some sitcom. Be a substitute father. Teach them how to be a real man — one who respects women. And then feel free to take it a step further — teach them how to respect other human beings and themselves.

5) Women have been quiet, but they’ve also been taking names and keeping notes. Think about how many past abuse stories have been prosecuted years later. It may be a game to a man, but it is serious to a woman. All employers should check potential employees’ on-line activities. You can learn a lot about someone by what they say on social media. I’m hoping some of these trolls have just cost themselves a job.

6) If you think all women are b*s — that means men are dogs. Even dogs can learn what “no” means.

7) To the 90% of good men on the planet — yes, we love you. Forgive us if we are wary around you until we’re sure which type you are. Because the other 10% aren’t just dangerous, they’re deadly.

Men who read this stream and “get” it may have just taken a giant leap forward in understanding women.

Change can happen. When I see this stream, I see pain — and I see hope.

Why #YesAllWomen is Important

Have you read the tweets for #YesAllWomen on Twitter?

If not — take a moment.

I’m going to guess that a lot of men are shocked.

These are the stories that women whisper to each other or never speak of at all.

I love that women have made it clear — they don’t think all men are monsters. What they’re saying is that the 10% of men that ARE monsters are pretty much managing to reach every woman on the planet in some fashion.

So let me say this clearly:

Yes, I have been harrassed. Every woman I know has at least one story.

When I was young I worked nights at a computer lab. A patron was harrassing me, groping me. A male friend sat by and laughed. I drove the guy out with a spiked heel and had a security guard walk me to my car that night. After hearing the story, the guard walked me out every night after that.

And no, I never trusted that “friend” again.

A supervisor at work used to take me into his office to discuss various aspects of the job. His hands always managed to wander. I threatened to tell his boss and pointed out that his boss knew me. I received a bad review, but he never touched me again.

One of the nicest guys I went out on a date with tried to rape me. He was rich and good looking. My mother adored him. I was grateful for spiked heels.

I could go on. Even now — I’m a long way from my young and pretty days — there are men on this planet who feel they are entitled to grab me inappropriately and call it fun. No, I won’t shame them by naming names, but I hope a couple of them just had a moment of panic. Good. Remember that feeling.

It isn’t fun.

And to all of the men who find the stories on Twitter shocking — just know this: the women of the planet love you.

simple cipher

Passwords and Secret Codes

We now have to reset a large number of passwords. The goal is to create passwords that are so complex that you’d never guess them. Except if they are that strong, you have zero chance of remembering them.

You could use a password tool. These work very well for some people.

Most of you already know that I’m paranoid, and a single point of failure concerns me. They’re good tools. Use them if you are comfortable with them.

If not — maybe you’d like to go with something a little more old-school.

Remember codes? Rememeber creating a secret code with your friend? That was fun. I’m going to give you an example of a method similar to the one I use. No, it isn’t the same. Because — remember — I’m paranoid.simple cipher

  1. First, start with a phrase that is at least 26 characters long without spaces. Something with sympols works. Make it something you will remember — like your favorite Bible verse.
  2. Next, make a chart for yourself with all of the characters and sympols. Say you’ve decided to use John 3:16 — For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  3. For each location that you need a password for, pick a phrase that you can remember, something unique. For Facebook it might be, “I wish Facebook would stay the same”
  4. Drop the spaces (important!) and encode it — letting the capitals be the same as in your code. Like this:
    FhFv6:Jh3ossrhsdGnveJwe63vJo3

You can vary the length as needed.

And yes, you could double encode it or add special quirks.

Remember: you don’t have to be able to decode the password, just encode it.

Then make sure that you don’t forget your cipher. You can even carry it around in your wallet like a little encouragement card. If you don’t make it LOOK like a cipher, no one will know that it IS the key to your life.

Can this be broken? Of course it can. Any password can be broken, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. All it takes is a good key scraping program — which can be purchased on the internet. But if you do it right, it will be unique and as strong as most random character generated passwords and you’ll have a chance of remembering it. You can even write the phrases down in a book without fear of it falling into the wrong hands, because the phrases won’t work until they’ve been encoded.

Have fun finding a secret code that is all your own.

Additional tip: enable two-step verification whenever possible. And make sure to include a backup device in case your phone gets lost or stolen.

Disclaimer: if you use this method and something bad happens, don’t sue me. No method is foolproof.