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4th Sept: Is it Spring already?

That’s right. I’m way over on the other side of the world. The cold is going away and the sun is returning. Yay. Okay, I’m in a different Season (most likely) and in a different timezone (probably) to yours. This kind of brings me to a small rant I have about social media (Twitterers more specifically) and how ignorance (or arrogance) makes authors overlook the obvious by starting their posts with a “Good Morning” or “Hey! It’s Saturday”. You’d think creative people could look outside the box and recognise that their clock isn’t the only clock in the world. It’s not morning everywhere and, for some, Saturday is long over.

It’s not a big issue but it’s a little annoying.

I remember the first emails I received in ’97 often started with a “Good Morning Sir,” and that was annoying too because it was presumptuous. I opened my email in the evening. But the Internet was young and inexperienced so I let it slide. Remnants of old-world letter-writing practices lingered. Yesterday’s advertisers knew business owners would go through their mail before lunchtime, so they personalised their correspondence by starting it with an appropriate greeting. That’s not the case now. With the Internet, people work at any time, every time, in different time zones and on different days. One moment in Chicago, Guam and London may be the same but not their time zones.

There is a weird irony to social media. People use it to take advantage of a worldwide audience, but only include their time zone in their Tweets. In a world where the first few words matter, these ones are totally irrelevant. For a few, it can even be a turn-off. In twenty-five years of the Internet, no one seems to have found a way to provide S/Media broadcasts with a time-relevant greeting that looks pleasing to everyone at any time, day or place. For the record, I haven’t found one either so I’ll go with a simple “Hi,” and leave it at that.

If I’m corresponding one-on-one with someone out of my zone, I’ll use phrases like “I’ll reply in two hours” or “We’ll talk tomorrow at the same time”. I’ll even use a time conversion app if I have to be specific about it — but I’ll never send out a worldwide post with “Good Morning…” in its text. It’s my way of not disrespecting (or disregarding) their place and time in the world.

Rant over.

-M


14 Aug: Back to reality after a short break.

If you were watching the Instagram feed above, you might’ve seen bits and pieces of our trip as we headed to the southern area of our state. I surprised Margo with a holiday to Karri Valley Resort and we spent a few days among the forests of Karri trees. It was cold and rainy but that was part of the plan. We wanted a fireplace to snuggle up to and to be able to watch the mist rolling through the trees — and we got that too.

Lumps of firewood were provided with our chalet but I’d have to go outside to cut them into smaller pieces to get them into the fireplace. I could feel the icy air on my nose and fingertips as I chopped away at the chunks, encouraging me to work just a little faster. A little plume of blue smoke swirled out of our chimney and mixed with the mountain mist. It was the perfect blend of crispness and old-world country living in one. The whole thing was a yummy change to the sunny beach life we have at home.

More posts went out this past week and so did a new podcast. I hope you like them. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, subscribe to this site for updates and get them as soon as they happen.

-M


24th July: Not much to report.

I’ll be taking a short break soon. The online sale will end this upcoming week and I’ll take the opportunity to escape and enjoy the winter weather. I’m planning to have a mulled wine or two by a fireplace and that’s it. No writing will happen. If it’s raining, more mulled wine will be consumed. If it’s not, mulled wine will be consumed anyway.

-M


13th July: Winter has had Margo and myself hiding indoors of late. That’s okay because the rainy season was expected. In this part of the world, it comes now and with wind, lots of it. It doesn’t get cold enough for snow but it’s pretty chilly outside when the wind hits. Indoors is a safe place to hide until Spring arrives.

There is a day or two here and there when the hostile weather abates, enticing us to take a peek outside. I did that recently to add another impromptu track to the podcast (see podcast on the menu). I took my recorder to the beach and came up with a word or two to say to it on-the-fly. It’s unscripted so the content is pretty thin. I just wish I had prepared something before I went to the beach to record it.

I joined a choir. It’s been nine years since doing choir work. Dayboro Uniting Church Christmas choir was the last time I did that. I have fond memories of singing then and now I get to do it all again. This group is talking about going to Italy and participating in a competition next year. Nice. I hope my voice is worthy.

That’s all. See you next time.


20th June: It’s been a while since my last update…

I’ve been working on recording new podcast tracks and writing behind-the-scenes posts. A bit of social media is thrown into the busy mix too… as well as my regular daytime job. The rainy season has moved in, so expect more frequent updates for the next few months.

I received a book in the post this week and it took me right back to my childhood. It’s the first book I ever read (that wasn’t part of regular schooling). It’s an old book (YA) that has been reprinted many times over since it was first published in 1960. It’s had a couple of different covers over its time and, by the time I got mine (my original 1974 copy), the colour of my book’s cover was yellow. I’ve been searching for a ’74 copy of The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald for quite a long time and finally found one (that was in good condition) a couple of weeks ago.

My school used to send around a book club catalogue about twice a year. I showed my parents the catalogue and they said I could pick out a book for myself. I chose one, put my order, the catalogue, and money into an envelope and gave it back to my teacher. Six weeks later, Clifford B Hicks’ book about a young inventor landed on my school desk. It was my very own book! I couldn’t believe it!

Most copies of this book that exist today are either the newer versions or damaged older ones. A bookshop in the States had one for sale. I saw it online and it looked pretty good from my end but the price was high. I offered them a lower price (the dollar conversion and postage made their price unreasonable) but they turned it down. I bookmarked the page and kept watching the book not sell for five years (yes, I’m obsessive like that) and every year I’d make them an offer to which they’d inevitably reject. Well, one popped up on E-bay just about a month ago and it was located here in Australia! The price was right and the book’s condition was good. I just had to snap it up right there and then. The book arrived yesterday and, after opening up the post-pack it came in, I was taken back to my eight-year-old self.

Two things of note: The book is smaller (and much thinner) than I remember. It smells deliciously old.

To be expected, the cover is faded, especially around the spine, and the pages are a well-aged yellow. A child’s name appears inside… And all the text beyond it is totally readable. The book is everything I’d hoped it’d be and I’m going to enjoy re-reading this little childhood story again and having a heartwarming flashback.

One day I’ll tell you about my obsession with a particular type of transistor radio and what I went through to get it!

30th May

By now you would’ve seen a change in the tagline above this post. It’s one I’ve avoided using for ages — but I believe enough time has finally passed to make it happen and stick it to the top of every page.

A Sexless Marriage. There, I’ve said it. Boy, that was hard to say but so very liberating. I could end up saying it again before this update is over. I had a ten-year sexless marriage (there you go) that came off the back of a seven-year celibate courtship. That marriage was hard, disturbing and downright depressing. I am also glad to say that it’s over — a long time over.

For those who’ve been followers of this site from the start, you’ll have noticed a common thread on its front page and some of the post headers: Thunderstorms. It’s a clue to the story I’ve written about bearing the burden of living in a long term sexless marriage. It’s far less like ‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night, and more Once Upon A Dark Relationship. The heavy cloud represents the dark emotion that constantly entered my mind and the lightning speaks of the brilliant light that fell in-between times — of an affair that, in some small way, warmed a missing piece of my cold, dying heart. You’ll be pleased to know that the marriage sacrificed itself and I got to keep what was left of my broken heart. Eventually, I got to glue the pieces back together again.

Life isn’t always kind to us. Cruelty can exist for no reason — and it can come from the least assuming places, justified, accepted and, therefore, encouraged by fools who continue to let it be. Something was bound to break and I did just that.

There are no heroes or martyrs in love. There are no prizes for those who say they loved more, worked harder, or hurt more. Tombstones never mention anything about the one who saved the day and who didn’t. You live and die and that’s that. If you succeed in love, in death you’ll become a memorial that’ll be eventually forgotten. If you fail, you’ll fade into time the same way. There are no heroes or martyrs — no winners or losers — just life and death. What you do between those points matters, but only in life. So it’s best to make what you can of today. If you’re unhappy with the way your life is right now, then change it. I did.

I got divorced, sold my house, bought a small yacht, wrote a book, lived on the water, sailed for a while, finished writing the book and then put it on my site for you to read. It’s based on my peculiar little love story. I say based because it’s not entirely autobiographical. Adding other elements and characters for extra spice turned what could’ve been a depressing read into an entertaining one. Now you’ve visited my site and read a bit about the background to the story, go and download yourself a free copy of it. It’s free on Smashwords for a short while. When you’ve finished, tell me what you think.

-M

22nd May

Winter has arrived. For the area in which I live, that means rain. Our Summers are dry but the water keeps falling just as the temperature turns and drops.

More posts and Tweets have gone out this past week and there have been some good responses coming back. Thanks to those enjoying the content. I’m looking forward to sending out more soon.

I’ve made an amendment to the Prologue in SEETHINGS. If you get a chance, check it out.

-M

9th May

Regained my health. I’m back to normal… well, as normal as I can be.

The new theme is working well. It’s fast and stable. I like it. The last theme was old (2011) and had a few fractures in it. I couldn’t do anything from my end to fix it. It was falling apart at the themes! Ha ha! (Did I just make a funny?) The fact is, old themes have old coding in them that hasn’t kept up with modern browsers. A 2011 theme was made at a time when mobile and tablet browsing was still new. Even desktop browsing has moved on since then. It’s all so very complicated — too much for me. I’m just glad another theme was available that looked similar.

A new post went out this week, as too a new podcast episode. Members (subscribers) would’ve been notified as they hit their inboxes. If you want to subscribe to this site and get the same in yours when they happen, just sign up. (There are no pop-ups screaming at you to make a move. You have to be brave and do it yourself.) It’s easy and fast. Just leave your name and email address in the boxes and that’s it. You’ll get new information as it goes out. -M

1st May

My COVID infection has passed. I’m still short of breath but doing okay. In the meantime, I’ve been tinkering with this site to pass the boredom of self-isolation. You may see some changes here and there and then… presto, they’re gone. I’m experimenting with a new, faster theme. It’s a good one but it places elements in different areas on the page. The colours it chose were all over the shop too — and the fonts weren’t quite right. Each post and page has to have some attention to them to bring them back into line. The good news is that it isn’t hard to do, just niggly and time-consuming. I do it while watching episodes of Picard on Paramount+.

27th April

COVID-19 made it my way this week. I’ve been in isolation for a few days and have a few days left to go. That’s good. I’m fast running out of milk.

Aches, pains, shortness of breath. That’s what it amounts to. It started with a monster sinus pressure and then a headache. I took a RAT test and bingo. It was there. The dreaded double line appeared. An official PCR test confirmed it. I’m now three days into it and can honestly say that it’s like a flu virus. The symptoms are very much the same. Now, before you assume anything, I’m triple vaccinated and it’s the Omicron version I’ve got — the weakest known to exist at this stage of the pandemic.

My take on it: I’d hate to think how bad it could’ve been if all this preparation wasn’t done before I got this. I also wonder how many people died needlessly because of apathy or indecision or downright boneheadedness. The signs were there. The right people who knew the right stuff told the world at the right time. Plans were made and actions were put in place. All it needed was for everyone to play the game and do what was required. The rest would be sorted out for us.

Western Australia has done exceedingly well during this worldwide illness. In fact, my state (and country) has had the best outcomes of all. When you leave conspiracy theories, sheep following or, “It’s just a flu” out of it, we have had the least amount of sick/dead/dying people. I’m so proud to have played my part in it.

(Side note: We officially stop having to wear a mask in two days. Yes, we’re still wearing them in bars, clubs, public transport, and group events. That’s how much diligence went into the statistics.)

9th April

We took a brief holiday in the south of our state (if you’ve been following the above Insta-feed, you would’ve seen it in the photos as they came by) to give Margo’s parents a proper send-off by casting their ashes into the waters off Walpole.

For two years, Covid messed up travel. It was impossible to make plans for an extended break. Each time we tried to get away and do something, border restrictions were put in place and stopped us from leaving home. One major event we kept trying to plan for was cancelled five times because of lockdowns and travel restrictions. That plan was to bring Margo’s sisters together (and their children, and their children’s children), rent two houseboats for a weekend and sail to a place on the other side of the Noranalup Inlet to scatter their parent’s (and grandparent’s) ashes. One passed twenty years ago, her dad died later. Walpole was a special place for them. They loved it very much. It seemed right to lay them to rest there, together forever.

The borders came down a month ago and it was time to gather and get those ashes to Walpole before the next pandemic came along and stopped us. It was a lovely weekend away. We fished, crabbed, laughed and cried. As I said, the photos of the trip (and a short vid or two) are posted on my Instagram account.

-M


16th March

Interview time. I’ve been approached to do an online one with another author. She wants to know what I do and how I write what I write. Once I’ve completed the interview and have more details about where it’ll be published, I’ll post them here.

More content has been added to the blog part of this site. If you’re a member, you would’ve seen it arrive in your inbox and its associated links. Rest assured, there’s more quality dark writing on its way!

I’ve seen a lot of traffic arriving from Twitter this past week. The short links I mentioned in the previous update seem to be responsible for it. Thanks to bit.ly for helping me out there.

A new podcast was published two days ago. An interesting fact: Most listeners are aged between 40 and 60. That’s a good result because the novels I write are pitched at that age group too. (There’s a small enclave between 18 and 22 but I put that down to university and college students doing research on relationships and/or podcasts) -M

7th March

Short linking. That’s what I’m doing today. Deleting old short links, setting up new ones and analysing historical data.

For those of you who don’t know what short linking is: It takes a long website link like https://michaelformanwriting.com/learn-how-to-photograph-lightningphotographing-lightning (a how-to page on my website about photographing lightning) and turns it into something like bit.ly/LightningPix.

You may ask, why do that?

Two reasons:

  • Tidy.
  • Traffic via bit.ly is recorded.

Tracking traffic is important. If the link is going to have a different name and it’s stored on a separate site, why not study the traffic that comes along it? (Yes, the long one stays in its place. The conversion is only an alternate, not a replacement.)

The shortening process suits Twitter as Twitter limits the number of words users can write in their Tweets. Most Tweeters like me (book authors) provide a link in every tweet they send but that takes up valuable space. By shortening a link, it leaves extra room for other words.

Long links are still helpful. Search engines rely on them. They search for words that are common in it and the page it supports. If there’s a correlation, the engine ranks the page accordingly. That’s why I keep the long link long active and let SEO do its thing. The short link can be used for other things like social media posts.

SEO and social media are different. SEO is a long process. Social media is short.

I chose bit.ly many years ago because there weren’t many short linking sites around at the time. I stay because all my links are there. (I did use another for a while but it has folded since then.)

When it comes to promoting RSS, I treat it in a totally different way. That’s a difficult group of people to access but a great one to have if an author can get it!

But that’s a discussion for another day…

-M


13th Feb

I pulled out the manuscript for SEETHINGS 3 this week. It’s been in my desk drawer ever since it was finished. It was printed, double line spaced, and spine bound — then put aside. (I don’t think I made a single mark on it anywhere.)

The idea was to give the first two books a chance (and me a break from long-chain writing) in the market. There was also the relocation of this website — these pushed the book editing to the back. I’ll return to it, soon.

I’m officially triple vaccinated (because my real-life job requires it). Our State’s borders are opening and the virus has breached them. Up ’til now, our State has been Covid-19 free (hard to believe!), but it’s arrived now. I’m doing my best to protect myself and the people around me.

I do know one thing, this Covid thing has become tiresome. Two years of strategizing ways to fight it has sucked the life out of every social activity. People are getting fed up. I feel the same. Don’t get me wrong, I support defending the community as best as we can but I don’t think society can sustain ongoing lockdowns, mask mandates, and booster vaccinations for much longer.

Covid aside, I’m so thankful for this new WordPress site and its ability to switch layouts according to the device that’s reading it. It saves me time working out how to make these pages display perfect for phones, tablets and computers. Good one WP. Thank you.

Until next time…

-M


1st Feb

Breadcrumbing.

Since 2014, little pieces of my work, ideas, opinions, themes, characters, plots and such, have been left around the Internet for readers to discover. There are thousands of breadcrumbs out there, pointing back to this site or my publisher’s one. Every day, something new is deposited somewhere on the worldwide web. Sometimes it’s just one line with a smiley face 🙂 (Happy hunting). It’s a slow but effective way to attract an audience but it works.

A new podcast went out today. (You know where to find it) Enjoy.

The new site is zippy. It now rates an ‘A’ for loading speed. This was the reason for ripping it out of its old place and popping it here. Switching hosts was worth it.

I haven’t done any videos of late. I’ve just been too busy. Sorry.

-M

23rd Jan

Heatwave. That’s all I can say on this line.

Margo and I have been stuck inside today. We’re enjoying the cool air conditioning while the outdoors boils. A lingering high-pressure system off the Western Australian Coast has kept temps well above 35 degrees celsius this past week. We are sick of it. Next week has a better forecast. The temps are expected to drop to 30 or so.

A secret post went out this week. Subscribers would’ve been made aware of it. If you’re interested in knowing all content that’s posted, please subscribe. The button is a menu item above.

The Podcast continues to grow. Apple draws the most listeners with most of them being aged between 35 and 65. That’s thirty years (split equally more or less) between males and females. Listeners come from everywhere. Every nationality resonates with the issues in my stories.

-Michael


10th Jan

Hi there! We’re already knee-deep into January. It seems like Christmas was never here. What the hell happened to December?

So many things have been happening this way. I don’t know where to begin.

  • The old site came down.
  • A new podcast was published.
  • New Medium content hit.
  • Twitter just past 17,000 followers.
  • Substack is stacking up.
  • This new site has already obtained 200 new subscribers.
  • Christmas and New Year parties and holidays.
  • Mandatory 10-day mask-wearing + booster vaccinations.

The old site is no more. If it’s not down right now, it soon will be. Bookmark this page if you came via that site.

If you’ve been keeping track of my podcast, go to that audio now, a new episode is ready for listening. It’s the most insightful one I’ve ever made.

Medium continues to impress me. I’ve had another post go semi-viral. It’s all about social media and unfriending time wasters, stalkers and those who create trouble online.

Twitter is popular. Combing through its many layers will give users discoveries (if they know where and how to look). 17,000 followers would agree with me. Thank you Twitter.

The jury is still out on Substack. Growth is slow. Paid subscriptions dominate the platform so that deters folks. Mine’s free but that doesn’t help. On the other hand, this new WordPress Website has made up the difference with over 200 new subscribers following it since it went up in September last year.

Omicron crossed our borders. During the Christmas break, we were back to wearing masks until after New Year’s Day. The viral fire is under control but our Prime Minister has requested we get boosters to further minimise any future damage should it break its containment. Yours truly will be triple vaxxed by the end of this week.

-See you, until next time, Michael.

Hi. Welcome to the pit.

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