Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Anagram for Author Blog is "Laugh Robot"

by Marta Acosta

I remember the moment I first heard the word "blog." My friend, Michael, who is so far ahead of trends that international corporations hire him as a visionary, said to me, "You should start a blog."

It sounded like blah and ugh, two things I try to avoid, along with balancing my check book, movies billed as cute, and snarling pitbulls. "A what?"

"A blog. It's short for web log. It's an online journal and it's a lot easier to maintain than a website."

I gave him a look that was supposed to convey my deep suspicion. He's brilliant, but he embraces all technological advances; my geek skills are limited to fixing things by turning them off and then on again. "How easy?"

Three blogs later, I realize that my initial skepticism was well-founded. I still haven't figured out why blog programs arbitrarily change line breaks and replace punctuation with symbols.

Mrs. Sarah Winchester, the widow of the rifle manufacturer, believed that the souls of murdered people would wreak vengeance upon her if she did not continue to add onto her 160-room mansion. I think with envy about Mrs. Winchester as I toil on my blogs, convinced that my career as a writer is dependent upon maintaining an online identity. At least that crazy bitch was wealthy enough to hire contractors to do the work for her.

And I wonder if this time-consuming blogging is as futile as the construction on the Winchester Mystery House, where staircases lead nowhere and doors open onto walls. Because when I'm blogging, I'm not working on my fiction. Nope, instead I'm looking for links to Kurt Russell movies, or rambling inanely about cannibal zombies in literature. I realize that those are both really, really important activities, but they aren't as important as meeting the deadline for my next novel.

The author as a personality is nothing new. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain were hugely popular public speakers. Magazines and newspapers have long done profiles of writers as Class D celebrities (below actors, politicians, and serial killers, but above academics). However, the internet has made it easy for writers to blab to the world at large about anything that strikes their fancy. Altogether too many pictures of authors' cats are posted on blogs, as are tedious details of home life.

Oh, I'm as bad as all the rest. I have one blog that lists vampire stories in the news. (Stop sneering: I'm appealing to my vamp peeps.) On another blog, I wrote about the death of my dog, Dr. Buddy Valentine. I have a page on that glitter-graphics, pervert-enabling horror show that is MySpace. On these sites, I pathetically flog my own book and use altogether too many exclamation marks to show my excitement. I resist the calls from my own dark soul to rage online, and try instead to be polite and friendly. I worry that I've morphed into an odious sub-urban Latina Eddie Haskell.

If I can tear myself from the compulsion to blog, I'll be reading at Book Passage next Tuesday, August 8, about my novels. Happy Hour at Casa Dracula was a Book Sense Pick and Catalina Magazine's Humor Book of 2006. Christopher Moore called it, "a comedy of manners with fangs." Publishers Weekly called the second in the series, Midnight Brunch, "an addictive combo plate of vamp romance and satire," and Booklist said it was "sexy, sardonic...Acosta's terrific new adventure."

Stop me before I blog again.

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