Okay, so this is a little late… but I’m starting the 10 day writing challenge that I  mentioned back in March… today. 

Writing Challenge Day One: Five Problems With Social Media
This is funny, because I very much have a love/hate relationship with social media. Looking at my life, one would assume Social Media and I are seriously tight. I mean, you’ll rarely catch me without my phone at my fingertips. I check notifications from Facebook and Twitter within a few minutes. I usually know what’s going on in the public lives of my friends within moments of them posting. I use it to communicate with friends, promote my writing, find out what’s new in the world. And I actually don’t think all things about social media are bad.

Yeah, some people say it encourages shallow friendships and phoniness, and in many cases, sure - true enough. But it also allows you to stay in close and frequent contact with friends who are at a distance and with friends who, due to the busyness of life, you may have otherwise lost touch with. It allows you to send quick messages of support, of prayer, of warmth. It allows you to engage in interesting conversations on topics you may have not had an opportunity to otherwise discuss. These can all be good things. But, of course, as with most things in life, what can be a positive thing can also have limitations and drawbacks. Social media is no exception. Here are my top five.

5) Can be an addictive time waster
With so much social media, it’s easy to get caught up in scrolling through - news, updates from friends, drama - all of it can be interesting and entertaining and… completely mind numbing. Hours can seriously slip by while caught in the web of updates… Sometimes I’ll find myself on Facebook and have no idea how I got there.

4) A potential platform for unsupported opinions and misinformation
This is a pet peeve of mine. People will post and repost the most ridiculous and inflammatory stuff - usually in the form of some unsupported article. From politics to health to childcare… the eye-rolling, head shaking, and painfully stupid stuff out there is never ending. And if one makes the foolish mistake to comment on it… well, then an ugly, silly debate ensues. Ugh.

3) Sometimes encourages narcissism and voyeurism
Look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!!! Look how much personal growth and introspection I have. Look at my awesome family. Look at how fit I am. Look at how comfortable in my own skin I am. Look at my perfect, fun,  life. Look at me. Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!!!


2) Oversharing
Listen, it’s okay not to post EVERY SINGLE THING that pops into your head. It may not feel like it at the time, but there are some things your 750 “friends” don’t need to...probably shouldn’t...know.

1) Distracts one from being present
I think the very worst thing about social media is that it can distract me from being present with the people in my life. It feels terrible to look up from my phone and realize one of the kids was trying to talk to me and I just...didn’t hear them. That is not okay. And it’s one of the reasons I am striving to create more distance from my phone and spend less time on social media.

Because being present matters. It really does. And when social media gets in the way of that, I think that’s the biggest problem of all.

I can't wait to get out on my bike. Either of my bikes, actually. 

My beautiful Giant Revel, a hardtail, is waiting impatiently for me.I can tell, looking at her, that she's missing the crunch of dirt beneath her tires, the trees whipping past her sturdy frame, the wind swirling around our bodies as we tear up the trails. 

My time with my Revel, especially on the trails in Birds Hill Park, is actually what inspired the last two things I've written (both in various stages of editing) - one a post-apocalyptic novel and one a contemporary teen romance/drama. But both pieces feature cycling in a very prominent way. Both reflect the joy of the activity as well, I think.

Anyway, she's a great bike. We had a blast a few summers ago, and I felt bad when I had to shelve her this past summer due to the fact that I was quite pregnant and not at all up for riding. But now that my son has arrived, I'm itching to get out there again. 

It's been a long, admittedly mild, winter, but the snow and freezing Winnipeg winds reinforced my decision to be a seasonal rider. The husband, of course, spent the winter with frozen eyelashes and icy toes as he continued his riding on his Norco Fatty and Giant cross bike. Not I - I'm no winter warrior. But as the temperature creeps to zero and even above, as small stretches of road become ice-free, as mud and dirt begin to appear around the edges of the lawn where the snow is fading, I can feel the spring returning. And I can't wait! 

As an early birthday present, the husband bought me my first ever cross bike - a Liv Brava SLR - for our city rides. I've always taken my hardtail in the past, and he thought, since I love the city rides best of all, we should get something with a better roll than my mountain bike, but more stable and versatile than a road bike. Something we could take on-road and off-road. Liv Brava was it. And she's a sleek beauty, if I do say so myself. I want our first time out together to be perfect, so I'm waiting to ride her until the conditions are just right. I've also never ridden a cross bike (nor a road bike, in case you were thinking one experience was similar to the other), so I'm a little nervous to go out on my own. I'd like the husband to come with me, but that will mean arranging for a sitter, which is a whole other hurdle to clear before getting on my bike. 

So, I watch the snow melt and I pine and I plan and I wait. How about you? Any cyclists out there itching to get done with winter and give the roads or trails what-for?

Oh, and if you're a Manitoba bike enthusiast, feel free to check out the amazing riding club that I'm part of. I haven't actually ridden with them yet, since they formed while I was a non-riding pregnant person, but I have the jersey already and it's sliiiiick. You can find them at www.prairiepedalpirates.com. 

Yes, here we are. A brand new site, a brand new blog, a brand new day. I suppose I'll kick things off here with a little update. My novel, Dragonfly, is heading towards its first blog-tour in April. I'll post more info about that as we get closer to the date, but today, I'm mailing four copies of my book out for review, plus emailing an e-pub version. It makes me a little nervous, but I suppose if I wrote it, I should be willing to have people read it. Especially since it's already for sale. :) 

My other contracted novel, which has yet to have a concrete release date, has recently been sent to me from my publisher with the final edits for my approval. Honestly, this editing process has been absolutely fantastic. The editor I've been working with is just so spot-on, and as I read the changes and see the way my story is being polished and perfected, I'm getting so excited to see its release. I hope readers love the characters and the world I created for them. Or maybe it's the world the characters created for themselves. After all, it often felt like my characters had plans of their own, that they only let me in on as I was writing. Anyway, I'm looking forward to its release date and to seeing how that one does. Just so you know what to look for, it's entitled Infusion. It's a YA Science Fiction.

Then, I have a novel which is in the pre-editing stage. I've had one rough copy-edit done, and now I recently hired an editor to do an actual edit on it. This is the first time I've worked with this particular editor, but he comes highly recommended, is from my home-town, and is reasonably priced, to boot. I'm really looking forward to seeing how things go. There's no title, as of yet... at least not one I love so far. This one's a YA post-apocalyptic novel. It's a little grittier than the others I've written, but might be my favourite yet.

Finally, I have another piece I've written which isn't speculative fiction at all (gasp!). It's in the very early stages though. I wrote it last year, but have yet to actually re-read it. I'm afraid it will be terrible, and I'll hate it, and I'll have wasted all that time writing, and I'll abandon all hope of ever writing something mainstream. It's a sweet YA romance, or maybe a drama... I'm not entirely sure, since it's been so long since I wrote it and it kind of took on a life of its own as I wrote. But after I have the post--apocalyptic one done, I'm going to open up this one and take a look. 

So, that's where we are today, at this moment. Heading out to the post-office to mail my books. Wish me luck! Or, even better, stop by Amazon and check out books by Alyssa Thiessen - and maybe, if one seems interesting, give the sample a read. And if it seems like you might enjoy it, download it. And, if you read it and do enjoy it, please leave a review. Reviews help books get seen, which help them get read, which help them get reviews... you get the picture :)  

Happy reading!