I Know a Guy

I’ve had this problem with my author website for years. It’s not an interesting problem. It’s not even an important problem. It’s simply a problem. A little, tiny, probably insignificant problem, and it’s been bothering me for a long time.

The problem was with the social media button icons on my author website. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, by the way, it’s got nifty little goodies and extras from my books. You might want to hop over there if you’re a fan of my novels.) You see, the website theme I’m using for my blog comes with the option to customize, to a point. I can enter my pertinent social media urls into the backend to make them show up fancy-like on the website, but I could only pick from four options, with the corresponding icons to match. Facebook, Twitter, Github, and Google+.

Now, I use Facebook and Twitter for my writing so no big deal, right? But I don’t use the other two. Instead, I have a personal blog (which you’re reading! Right now!) and an new Instagram account I’m still not sure I’m using properly. I could enter those urls on the backend, but the icons for them would be wrong. In order to change this, I’d need to fiddle with the CSS of the page, something I’m woefully under-qualified to do.

So what did I do about this dumb little problem? I enlisted the help of my favorite code ninja (read: husband) and now? Problem solved! And all I had to do was hand Wes his laptop and ask him pretty please to save the day.

All better!

Easy-peasy. It helps to know a guy. And then date him. And then marry him and have kids with him.

Seattle Shipyard Adventure Recap

Ever since I moved from southern California to Seattle as a wee lass of 14, I’ve always been fascinated by the Seattle Shipyards and Port. There’s just something captivating about them for me. These massive ships, bound from exotic locations, laden with mysterious cargo in massive containers. It’s all just a feast for the imagination, isn’t it?

Brand-new propeller. This thing was the size of my kitchen table, and so shiny!

Brand-new propeller. This thing was the size of my kitchen table, and so shiny!

Earlier today, I had the incredible opportunity to meet with the head of the Seattle Shipyard, Jon Hie. I was ecstatic to find out that not only is he knowledgeable, affable, and generous with his time, he’s worked in shipyards around the world and was able to answer all my questions. He even answered questions I never knew I had!

Shipping containers are surprisingly big in person. He had a funny story about the supposed "unduplicatable" nature of customs forms that made me laugh a lot.

Shipping containers are surprisingly big in person. He had a funny story about the supposed “unduplicatable” nature of customs forms that made me laugh a lot.

He took me on a tour of the shipyard that comprised everything from the dry docks (which I got to explore all the way up to the top!) to the container yard (where we discussed how one might smuggle something onboard a cargo ship), to the construction area where they were building a brand-new firefighting ship (brand new boats look beautiful, by the way), through the metal and wood shops, and then onto an actual tug boat where I got to visit the engine room and learn everything I needed to know to sound like one of those really smart thriller writers who actually knows what she’s talking about.

These future propeller shafts were MASSIVE. Solid metal all the way through, and weighing more than a full-grown elephant apiece.

These future propeller shafts were MASSIVE. Solid metal all the way through, and weighing more than a full-grown elephant apiece.

It is nothing short of amazing what they do there. The ingenuity of the dry docks alone was enough to impress me, let alone watching someone hand-paint the name onto a boat while someone else used an acetylene torch to weld something. All those skilled people, I had to restrain myself from asking too many questions!

The chains they use to restrain cargo ships. Each link weighs between 50-70 lbs. I tried to lift the clip that clips onto these and I couldn't even manage it. Unreal!

The chains they use to restrain cargo ships. Each link weighs between 50-70 lbs. I tried to lift the clip that clips onto these and I couldn’t even manage it. Unreal!

My favorite part, though, was discussing possibilities with Jon. We came up with ten different ways to explode a ship and make it look like an accident, and let me tell you, that is an awful lot of fun. (Note: This was an imaginative exercise. No one is planning any kind of violence whatsoever, NSA, so stop worrying.)

This is one of the engines in a tug boat. According to Jon, the engines in a massive cargo ship stretch 1-2 stories high and are 50 feet wide. CAN YOU EVEN CONCEIVE OF AN ENGINE THAT BIG?!?!?!

This is one of the engines in a tug boat. According to Jon, the engines in a massive cargo ship stretch 1-2 stories high and are 50 feet wide. CAN YOU EVEN CONCEIVE OF AN ENGINE THAT BIG?!?!?!

And of course, I got to wear a fetching orange hardhat and safety glasses the whole tour, but I was so busy looking at everything around me (and trying not to either trip and/or fall to my death) that I never got a picture of myself. So here’s a picture of a crane who watched me rather judgmentally while I parked my car.

This heron is tired of putting up with my crap, apparently.

This heron is tired of putting up with my crap, apparently.

I can cross this item off my bucket list, but don’t worry, I’ve got lots more. I have the feeling the longer I write thrillers, the longer and more unique that list will get. Now, if I could just get the CIA to give me a tour of their headquarters we’d really be talking…

I’m a Guest Today!

A few things very quickly:

  • Technically, I’ll be mostly offline next week as we go on vacation for a few days. Bye for now!
  • In case you’re curious, my weight loss journey is going really well. If you want to follow it more closely, check out my personal trainer’s blog here. I blog there every week. And there are pictures!
  • I wrote a guest post for fellow author Tom Avitabile’s blog today. His blog is pretty cool, it’s called It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens. I wrote about how in my book PWNED, I imagined what would happen if the NSA snooped on a private American citizen. At the time, I thought that was pretty out there since that would be illegal. Oops…Anyway, check out the guest post here!

Teensy Little Post

I know I’m more than a decade late in coming to this conclusion, but Friends is a terrific show. I laugh out loud at every episode and it makes me happy to watch. I’m a huge fan, and it’s really too bad I can’t go back in time and announce this fact proudly to all the people who would’ve cared about it in the 90’s.

Oh well. I’m announcing it now, and I’m sure no one cares but I only had five minutes to write a blog post today and I only got five hours of sleep last night so here we are. With a teensy little post about an outdated topic.

But that’s just how I roll. Raising the bar in blog quality one post at a time.

On My Recent Reticence

Longtime readers of my blog may have noticed I’m a bit more reticent about writing about my family life than I’ve ever been before. Back when Aidan was born, this could even have been considered a Mommy Blog for the overwhelming majority of posts that were focused on what my experience of motherhood was like.

And now, those posts are gone. Well, not gone per se but hidden. Private. They’re still stored on my blog, and I read them often, but I’ve decided to scale back on my self disclosure a bit. And it’s all my book’s fault.

When PWNED got published, I had to start working on my marketing months ahead of time. I knew my blog would be part of what publishing industry people call my “platform” and I had to give some serious thought to what was disclosed there.

If the book did well, and I was optimistic it would, my site had the potential of having hundreds of new visitors, many of whom I’d never met. I had to ask myself, how much did I want to share with total strangers?

I think this is a decision every blogger needs to make: How much to disclose, and about what. For example, I will happily share an embarrassing story about myself, but probably wouldn’t if it happened to my husband.

The funny thing is, I always knew there were people reading my blog whom I’d never met personally, but that never bothered me because I’m a tiny little blog in a vast sea of blogs and I was pretty sure no one cared all that much.

Now, though, strangers are visiting my blog (hello, there!) to find out more about me as a writer, and it’s my job to determine how much about my life they’re entitled to know.

So, I hid a lot of posts. About 200, in fact. In the grand scheme of 700 posts they probably won’t be missed. Unless you know what you’re looking for.

I just didn’t want Aidan to grow up someday resenting me for making it public knowledge that he did X, Y, or Z when he was growing up. I want him to make his own decision about how much of his life, if anything, he shares with the Internet.

So that’s why I’m a lot more reticent about my family now than I’ve made a habit of being in the past. It probably makes for less mommy-centric reading, and if that’s why you were reading this blog in the first place I apologize, but it’s what I felt was in my family’s best interest.

Now I just have to figure out what else I have that’s worth saying. How about that recent major sporting event?