Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

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Breaking it Off With the Big G

My de-googlification project is commencing apace. As promised, today’s post will include some resources to help you de-googlify your own life.

But first, this is where I’m at: I already stopped using Chrome a long time ago because it’s such a resource hog and they did away with some of my favorite features. Since then I’ve been using Firefox, and it’s been fine, but last week the Mozilla CEO made some disturbing comments that are completely NOT fine, so now I’m trying out alternatives to Firefox. So far I’m liking Brave and Midori, but I haven’t settled on one yet.

Getting off of Gmail is the biggie. I decided to switch to Protonmail instead, and grabbing an account their was the easy part. I’ve updated the e-mail links and contact form on this site and set an auto-responder in my Gmail to automatically let people who e-mail know that they need to update their contact info. By the by, if you have and use my jmbauhaus email address, just change the gmail part to protonmail and you’ll be good to go. Also, jean@jeanmariebauhaus.com still works just fine. Eventually I’ll also move my Jeanie Nicholson and Broke Author accounts to P’mail, but they don’t get much traffic, so that’s not a priority.

This also means I’ve got to go through all of my accounts and update my logins. Since I also haven’t been using password best practices all these years, it’s also an opportunity to change everything out to stronger, unique passwords. I had to get a good password manager to keep them all straight — I don’t want to store passwords in my browser any longer, as I had been doing.

This part is going to take a good, long while. It’s helping to prioritize. I started with accounts I log into regularly, along with accounts that have been breached. One thing I like about Firefox is that it has a service that monitors your logins and lets you know if they’re connected to a website that’s been hacked, but you can also find out by entering your login email at haveibeenpwnd.com. I’m also deleting accounts with services I no longer use, and reducing my digital footprint.

Changing my login methods on accounts that login with Google or Facebook is also going to be a high priority.

Sorting through all the newsletters and subscription emails I get at Gmail, unsubbing from the ones I no longer want and updating my email with the ones I want to keep, is also going to take a while.

Anyway, if you want to go down this road, start here: Alternatives to Google Products for 2021

That article does what it says on the tin, recommending more private and secure alternatives to every Google product out there. The rest of the website also has great advice on other privacy concerns and tools, such as VPN and password management recommendations, etc.

I’ve used Google Docs for years, mainly because I can copy and paste from that to my freelance writing agency’s content management platform without a lot of extra code getting added in like it does if I past it from Word or Open Office. But with my next batch of writing assignments I’m going to give Zoho Writer a try instead. It looks pretty comparable. Zoho also has a cloud storage alternative to Google Drive that looks promising.

I probably won’t be quitting YouTube any time soon, because there are too many good content creators who haven’t yet switched to other platforms. But I disabled the app on my phone and am just watching it in my web browser. Between that and my Android phone, I won’t be able to break up with Google completely. But I can at least support their competition and stop giving them so much information about me.

Oh, and speaking of Android, this is helpful if you have one:

I hope this is helpful if you’re wanting to reduce your dependence on big tech. It’s almost impossible to avoid them completely without quitting the internet altogether — a solution that gets more attractive with each passing day — but at least it’s something.

The Q Game

Happy Saturday! This is just a quick weekend post to share this fascinating article I just stumbled upon, which is highly relevant to what I wrote yesterday:

A Game Designer’s Analysis of Q Anon

I’ll just be over here feeling vindicated in my theory, even if I’m far from the first to come up with it.

Restless Oklahoma: Shaman’s Portal

Shaman's Portal Oklahoma

Something strange is afoot in Beaver Dunes Park. Located in the panhandle of Oklahoma, the dunes are home to a legend involving the Spanish explorer Coronado, mysterious late night military excavations, Men in Black encounters, and enough mysterious disappearances to warrant the nickname “Oklahoma’s Bermuda Triangle.”

The story goes that Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, as he traversed the area on his quest to discover New World gold, ignored the warnings of his Native American guides to keep away from the dunes. The price he paid was to have three members of his expedition suddenly vanish before his eyes amidst strange flashes of green lightning–a description Coronado himself penned in his expedition diary, calling the phenomenon “the work of the Devil.”

Known by the natives as the “Shaman’s Portal,” the area has since been blamed for numerous such alleged disappearances, although none have been verified, especially in the last century or so. However, locals have claimed to witness mysterious military excavations conducted under the cover of darkness. In the Nineties, after receiving reports of unspecified “strange” findings from an Oklahoma State University archaeologist, one Dr. Mark Thatcher is said to have spent three years studying the area until he was shut down by men with military credentials who fit the description of the notorious Men in Black. It’s unclear whether Thatcher was part of another unidentified university geological team who is said to have studied the area in the mid-Nineties. This team supposedly took a number of geological samples and found strange anomalies that included ionized soil and electromagnetic interference. All of this has led some to believe that an ancient alien spacecraft lies buried beneath the dunes.

A flying saucer isn’t the only thing believed to be buried down there. Apparently, the area is also an ancient Native American burial ground. And we all know that building anything on one of those is generally a Bad Idea.

And the alien connection is only one hypothesis surrounding the area. Theories about the disappearances and the weird lights abound. Is the area a portal to another dimension? Were the missing people transported, or incinerated by the green lightning? Was this some kind of Native American magic meant to protect the tribal gold from greedy European explorers like Coronado?

As freaky–and kind of cool–as all of this is, unfortunately the only thing that exists in the way of real evidence is Coronado’s diary. Every other claim over the last five hundred years or so have been, shall we say, sketchy? Still, it seems that something happened to those lost explorers–something unnatural and extremely difficult to explain.

And that’s enough to keep me from exploring those dunes anytime soon.

[wufoo username=”jmbauhaus” formhash=”r1l6mmnj13zvfei” autoresize=”true” height=”262″ header=”show” ssl=”true”]

 

Happy Halloween! Here are some link treats.

Happy Halloween!

It’s finally here! I still need to clean up our front walk and string up a giant yarn spider web on the front porch before popping out to pick up some last minute ingredients for Matt’s Halloween menu. Then it’ll be time to slaughter some pumpkins and kick off our festivities. Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween. Here are some links to help you while away the hours until sundown.

And before I forget, congratulations to the winners of our Midnight Snacks/Dead Ends giveaway, which officially closed for entries last night. It turns out everyone who entered is a winner! You’ll be receiving notification and your free books soon, so watch your e-mail!

Now for the links…

  • I’ve been working a ghost-blogging gig for the Libib book app blog for a couple of months now, and my last several posts there have been Halloween-themed, including some last-minute costume ideas for book nerds and some of the nation’s most haunted libraries. Check them out!
  • Lex Wahl’s Anything Ghost podcast is always a special Halloween treat. He has a ton of real-life ghost stories and spooky encounters to share this year, so you’ll need to carve out a few hours to hear them all.
  • If you’re in more of a hurry to be scared, this short horror film, Lights Out, is completely terrifying and under three minutes.
  • Finally, this Horror Movie Kid Daycare video from College Humor is definitely worth a few minutes of your time (and an excellent antidote if the above video left you too petrified to get on with your day).

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WTkJHHF4B4]

It’s Halloween week and Nano prep week and there is so much to do.

This is a post to loosen the gears and prime the writing pump. I haven’t written anything since Thursday, unless you count blogging about the book giveaway contest (still going on, by the way, so be sure to enter!).

I did pretty well growing my word count on Ghost of a Chance last week, almost getting back up to where I was before throwing out most of what I’d written. But then Friday was busy and full of errands, which lead into a busy Saturday of cleaning house before my mom and aunt came for dinner, and by Sunday I was ready to veg and not much else.

This is shaping up to be a busy and short week, too. My freelancing load is light this week (…thankfully? Although this is certainly a trend that I hope is short-lived), but we’ve got a lot of errands to run, including taking our Chihuahua, Pete, back to the vet tomorrow to check his thyroid and liver enzyme levels. I also want to get as much housework and yard work squared away as possible before Nanowrimo begins on Saturday. So I probably won’t get a ton of writing done this week. My main goal is to do enough to keep it fresh in my mind so I can hit the ground running on Saturday. I’m actually feeling pretty good right now about the possibility of finishing the first draft of Ghost by the end of November.

And then there’s Halloween on Friday, which is an all-day celebration at our house, hence the short work week. Which as far as I’m concerned makes up for not getting to take Labor Day off like everybody else. We still need to pick out our pumpkins, stock up on seasonal ale (I think Matt’s planning some brand of pumpkin ale we haven’t yet tried, along with some Newcastle Werewolf Blood Red), decorate the front porch, and make sure we haven’t eaten so much of our candy stash that we still have enough for trick-or-treaters.

Oy. I’m already exhausted just from listing all of that. I guess I’d best get to it, then. What are your Halloween plans this year, dear readers? And if you’re doing Nanowrimo, what are you doing this week to get ready?

Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve been watching a lot of Ghost Adventures-type shows lately, partly for novel research and inspiration, but also because I just get a hankering for that sort of thing around this time of year. But I always have to stop watching them at some point because they tend to give me nightmares. I don’t really mind bad dreams that much; they often turn out to be great story fodder. But my husband definitely seems to mind my tendency to scream and shout in my sleep when I’m dreaming that something is out to get me, so for his sake, I stop watching.

The fact that I write about ghosts and the paranormal inevitably means that from time to time I get asked what I actually believe about this stuff. Since it’s Halloween (Halloween being a month-long event at my house), it seems like a good time to answer that question on the record.

PCOS diet update, Halloween craft explosion, TV ramblings & other blather

After a full week on the new PCOS-friendly diet (no gluten, no dairy, mostly low-glycemic carbs), I can report that all week long I was more energetic and more clear-headed. I was also less moody (which, considering it was a PMS week, is really saying a lot), and by the end of the week I was sleeping better. I haven’t yet noticed any lessening of my external PCOS symptoms, but I figure that will probably take considerably more time than just a week. But if I can just keep all this energy and eliminate the brain fog for good, then that will make it all worth it.

I didn’t stick to it as diligently over the weekend. On Saturday Matt made bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers with cream cheese filling (a little overpoweringly spicy, but SO delicious), and then on Sunday he made brats, which I suppose I could have enjoyed sans hot dog buns, but I chose not to. And then since I was already in for a penny, I had ice cream. Oh, and that morning I had pumpkin spice bread for breakfast. Mmm. But I’m back on track today, and finding that the weekend indulgences didn’t derail me from feeling good like I worried they would.

I finally got out all of the Halloween decorations over the weekend, and got crafty and made a few additional items. You can see how all that turned out:

Halloween decorations 2014

For closeups, take a gander at my Instagram feed.

While I got my crochet on, I also caught up on all my shows, including Once Upon a Time, which was better than I expected. I appreciate that they’re basically telling a sequel to Frozen with those characters and not re-hashing the movie (which I still haven’t seen), and also that they haven’t completely derailed Regina’s pseudo-redemption arc. Although that show can’t do a decent redemption arc to save its life, so my expectation bar is set pretty low.

As for Castle, they’re just being mean, although I do like that they’re trying something new with (what I’m assuming will be) a season-long mystery to solve (and now watch them have it all tied up by the end of the second ep. Which I won’t see till next weekend, so don’t spoil me if you watch it tonight).

I didn’t get any writing done over the weekend, but I did meet my word count this morning, bringing the total on the untitled Restless Spirits sequel to 3,885.

I’ve (so far) got a fairly light week ahead of me as far as my freelance workload goes, so that should work out to give me the time I need to do the final edits on Midnight Snacks and get it ready for next week’s launch (you can pre-order it now for your Kindle, if you’re so inclined). I’m also hoping to get an official website up for my editing and self-publishing services.

So that’s how my week (and weekend) went. What about you? Did you watch anything that made you want to scream, or squee? Has Halloween exploded all over your house? How did you spend your weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments.

Rearranging the Furniture

I spent some time over the weekend tweaking this here blog and making the theme look a bit more custom. I spent a lot of time and needless energy last week worrying that I needed to build myself a brand-new “profeshunul author” website and trying to envision something I’d be happy with that tied my personality/interests in with the type of fiction I write — which, let’s face it, are kind of unmeshy, as far as vibe goes. But I’ve since come to the conclusion that a) with a few more tweaks, such as replacing that big image at the top with a slideshow to prominently hawk my books and services, this blog will do me just fine for the foreseeable future; and b) I really like this theme and think it actually does a pretty good job of meshing both vibes, so why create extra work for myself?

Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World - Kristen LambThis is, of course, all stemming from finishing Kristen Lamb’s book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, which has me all motivated to fix everything I’ve been doing wrong in marketing myself as an author. I also made some tweaks to my social profiles, and started developing a master plan to make this here blog more organized and professional and non-neglected.

In other news, this is day two of going gluten- and dairy-free. Well, mostly gluten-free. Last night I made stir-fry for dinner, and though I’d planned to use a pre-mixed, gluten-free spicy Thai sauce that needed to be used up, there ended up not being enough of it to flavor the whole dish (I made four servings, enough to feed me till the middle of the week), so I had to improvise and ended up using the gluten-containing soy sauce we had on hand. So I guess I won’t actually be free of gluten until that dish is all eaten up. Also, I’m not worrying about gluten cross-contamination so much as I am just avoiding it as an ingredient.

Anyway, I’ve felt pretty good all day. I had to write some content mill assignments this afternoon, and that usually leaves me feeling mentally wiped out, but check it out: I still have the mental capacity to write this blog post. If I’m already feeling this much better after only a day and a half, then I imagine this is all going to turn out to be a worthwhile endeavor. I really did miss the cheese in my spinach omelet this morning, though.

I also put down 500 words on the new new novel this morning. AFTER I walked a couple of miles and did some light yoga. So go me.

Have I mentioned here that I finally started writing the sequel to Restless Spirits? I can’t recall if I did. At any rate, I’m currently more than 1,700 words into it, so I guess it’s officially underway. If you care to track its progress, there’s a little word count widget down there in the sidebar.

So far it’s flowing really well. I’m not working from an outline, but rather kind of a vague idea of what needs to happen to get to the end. That’s how I wrote the first one, so it seems appropriate. If there’s time after posting this blog and checking in on my social networks, I might try to add some more words to it before dinner.

The new TV season has just gotten started and I’m already behind. It’ll be the weekend before I’ll have time to watch Once Upon a Time and Castle — though to be honest, I’m not in a big hurry to watch OUaT anyway. I just can’t work up any enthusiasm about what they had planned for this season. I’m probably the only person on the planet who still hasn’t seen Frozen, mainly because I just haven’t had the opportunity. I’d still like to see it, and I’m afraid this show is going to ruin it for me. I’m also really tired of the way they constantly pile on new characters while neglecting characters I already care about.

I haven’t seen the new Agents of SHIELD yet, either. Matt missed the last six or so episodes of last season, and for some reason we failed to get caught up over the summer, so we’re working on that now. I think we’ve got three more to go before we can watch the season premiere.

I have started Sleepy Hollow, as well as the new Ioan Griffuth vehicle Forever. The latter has promise, and the former is still my favorite show that isn’t Hannibal or Doctor Who.

And of course I’ve been following the new Doctor. Twelve is starting to grow on me. So is Clara, finally. They’ve done a lot to improve her character this season and I find I’m no longer pining for the Ponds, though I can’t really see myself missing her quite as much when she’s gone.

Oh! I also finally managed to retrieve all of my book cover files off of my old, defective laptop over the weekend, so expect a cover reveal for Midnight Snacks later this week, if I can fit that in around implementing suggestions from the beta readers and getting that book ready to publish.

Anyway, does the new TV season have you rejoicing? Tell me what you’re watching in the comments!

It’s Saturday! Let’s all sing for joy.

This was kind of a stressful week on the work side. Let’s perk up and celebrate the weekend with a highway sing-along:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fYqe3QeOqQ&w=560&h=315]

My plans for the next two days involve lots of yarn, Halloween crafts and putting up the decorations. Today will also be my last hurrah enjoying carbs and cheese as I eat up all the unhealthy stuff in the house that won’t keep. Tomorrow, the new PCOS-friendly diet plan begins.

How are you enjoying your weekend?

Links: What’s Steampunk, Sleepy Hollow preview, and more

I didn’t get all of my freelance work done before the weekend, so I’m having to work today. It’s mostly my own fault for not managing my time as well as I could have, but then again this was a pretty hectic week that involved more errands and more reasons to leave the house than usual (including a second trip to Bixby to pick up Pete’s meds from the vet because she didn’t have them stocked when we were there on Wednesday. Let me tell you, that is quite a long way to drive for such a simple errand), so I’ll go ahead and cut myself some slack.

The plan is to get this last article written before lunch, then I’ll be free the rest of the weekend. Except I also have a couple of short things I need to write for a Fiverr client by Monday evening. I’m still dithering on whether to buckle down and get those done today so I can take Labor Day off, or just wait and do them Monday so I can enjoy most of my Saturday. Considering that “enjoying” my Saturday involves laundry and vacuuming the house, I’ll probably hold off on the extra work until Monday.

Also on today’s agenda: trimming my unruly hair (still debating whether to give myself straight bangs or keep them longish and side swept, even though I usually regret straight bangs because they never lay down like I want them to, and yet I never seem to learn), fiddling with the outline for the new novel, and pulling my horror short story collection together for beta readers.

And now I’ll leave you with some links that are open in my browser that might be of interest to you:

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