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In Which I Am Eating A Large Serving of My Own Words

I try to be flexible, prepared for the Unexpected.  More often I just expect to be Unprepared.  Those of you who have been with me for a while may recall that I have recently written my first novel.  I now have a new one in the pipeline (besides the sequel to the first one; I’m nothing if not optimistic!). This new one is proving to be great fun.  Not a mystery/thriller this time, but something altogether different. So here’s the thing: I recently decided to do a bit of research to help “flesh in”  a couple of the characters.  One of them is very much caught up in astrology, and related things.  This is an area about which I know absolutely nothing. Add it to the list.  Anyway, another character is set to be heavily caught up in online dating.  Another item to add to the list. Some of you may recall that I wrote a piece on online dating a few months ago. (sea-captains-and-sugardaddies). Well, I’m now being served up a few of my own remarks on a plate.  Here’s what happened:

As I was paddling around on the internet (you could never call what I do ‘surfing’) looking for info about astrology and related things, there was a box with the message “find your Love Match.”  Aha! thinks yours truly. This could add a nifty wrinkle (that’s an oxymoron in any other context) to the character. So click it I did, and found myself squirted straight onto the Match.com site.  Nothing to do with astrology here.  But, ever ready to be flexible, I hung around to have a look. I really couldn’t get anywhere without signing up, and  I had no intention of actually registering  — I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking this sounds like one of those “Doctor, my friend has this embarrassing problem…”  stories.  But you just stop thinking like that because it’s not true.  I really didn’t intend to register. But then I had this brilliant idea to register my character! How cool is that?  In the interest of research for my book.  (Stop sniggering.)

It actually was a good idea.  Filling in the profile details was an excellent way to create my character’s profile.  I did not intend to communicate with anyone, as I don’t think it would be ethical to present a phony identity to a real person, but registering enabled me to look.  Once inside, however, I got a  shock.  Of course there were plenty of no-hopers, and obviously phony identities. BUT…there were also some very interesting people.  The temptation to reply to a ‘wink’ or an email was awful. This is ridiculous, I told myself.  But, funnily enough,  myself wasn’t listening.  She was busy thinking that if she went back and edited the profile to be her rather than her book character, she could answer…  Okay, so now I’m breakfasting on my previous words of scorn.

The book research continued apace through this, I should add.  It was much more effective when I actually communicated (as myself).  I will only use the details of scammers and phonies, of course.  Details of anyone I communicated with for real is not part of the research. Now I am in a good position to report on several important matters to watch out for.  I’m saving the juiciest ones for the book, of course.  It’s truly amazing how quickly you learn to ‘spot the dog’ … the phoney, the scammer, the sleeze.  And, dare I confess it, the truly interesting and charming individuals.  Whatever your (or my) perceptions of online dating were in the early days, at least some of the sites now are very interesting and respectable.  Make of it what you will…

There is one story that I have to share with you  (if for no other reason than to demonstrate my bonafides re not intending to reply).  When signing up, it was  necessary to provide an email address.  Well, I wasn’t going to give MY email address, was I?  But in my first novel, which happens to be a mystery/thriller, I had to create an email address that I could use in the book.  To insure no one would actually have that address, I registered it.  Aha!  I’ll just use that address; it’s never been used, just sitting there empty.  Reasonable, eh? Except for one thing:  the address in the book was meant to be menacing, used to send death threats, etc.  I didn’t think about it when I registered  my online dating email address as whosnext68@gmail.com                 MM

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