Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vacationing...In Farmville!

When I started this blog, I wanted to write about my experiences as a new author and to use it as a medium for our readers to get to know me better. I have had great fun sharing my experiences and writing about the different things that have taken place since we launched The Angry Thunderstorm on April 1st, 2009. There were tradeshows, book signings, author visits, and other events. Needless to say, 2009 was a wonderful, action-packed year. Thanks so much for sharing the experience with us!

Writing a book is one thing. Marketing a book is a whole different story in itself. By late October, I was a little overwhelmed. The Holidays were coming. My husband and children had been very patient while I had lived my dream all year. It was time that I gave some of my time and attention back to them. There were several things that I could take a break from to relax my commitments a bit--Picklebear Corner was one of those things.

The first weekend on my self-imposed break, my darling daughter, Caitlyn, introduced me to Farmville, an application on Facebook. Most often, I visit Facebook only to see what my friends are up to. I seldom post anything--unless it is to The Angry Thunderstorm fan page. I had received a notification that Caitlyn had sent me a gift and that she wanted me to become a neighbor in Farmville. Another opportunity to interact with her--even if it was a virtual opportunity. I accepted her gift and agreed to become her neighbor; then, I was immediately transported to my new little plot of land in Farmville.

Before we go any further, I feel compelled to explain that addiction is something I have always feared. I have never tried drugs. I limit drinking to social settings. Why? The mere thought of something controlling and consuming my every thought scares the daylights out of me. That said, I had no idea what I was in for with Farmville.

I started out with four little squares. I planted strawberries; then, I left my virtual farm. In the real world, strawberries are hard to grow. In Farmville, they aren't--it only takes them four hours to grow after they've been planted. Needless to say, when I checked my crop the next day, my strawberries had already wilted and died. It didn't take too long before I figured out that each form of produce has it's own growth time. So now, I was having to schedule real life around when my Farmville crops were going to peak.

Before too long, I had expanded my crops and began planting different types of produce. I had peppers, pumpkins, strawberries, wheat and rice. That's when I learned that there were certain vegetables like artichokes that earned more Farmville cash. So I began focusing my energy on those vegetables. Each day, those Farmville coins began stacking up. Each day, my Farmville Neighbors sent me nice gifts, i.e., pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys and other little essentials to help my little farm grow. Each day, I watched my stash of Farmville coins grow and grow.

Before long, I had a chicken coop and three dairies. However, my poor little Avatar had no place to live and winter was fast approaching. Where was she going to sleep? With the cows? I set to work to earn a little cottage. This meant, I had to reach a certain experience level and have so much Farmville cash. So, you know what that means? I had to expand my farm and visit and help my friends with their farms as often as possible. Right before Christmas, I earned my cottage. But by then, I had set my sights on a farm house. So what did I do? I expanded my little farm and purchased a tractor, a seeder and a harvester. Now, I could gather my crops faster and earn cash faster so that I could buy my little farm house.

During the Christmas Holidays, I had a wonderful time decorating the cottage and putting gifts under my Farmville tree. With all the gifts my neighbors were sending, that tree grew fast. There was no snow on the ground in Austin, Texas; but, I could have all the snow I wanted in Farmville. While we were waiting on Christmas day to arrive, my daughter and I confided to each other that we were really excited about Christmas Eve. That's when we could open our Farmville gifts that we had received from all our Farmville neighbors--I actually received an alien cow!

My family began making fun of me for my exhuberance for Farmville. What had begun as an innocent activity with my daughter had become...dare I say it? An addiction. The dreaded thing I feared most. I was beginning to spend as much time in Farmville just trying to keep up with my neighbors as I had spent writing my blog and interacting with my readers and fans. Don't laugh. My neighbors were very competitive farmers. Talk about keeping up with the Jonses...

In my quest to break from the pressures of the real world, I jumped head first into the escape of a virtual reality. Farmville offered community, interaction, old friends, gifts and the ability to create your own virtual environment and wealth. In the end, I realized that I have these opportunities in the real world. I am proud to say that I have left the Farmville world behind. It was an interesting and very inexpensive place to vacation; but, I prefer to live in the real world. From now on, when I am contemplating a vacation, I'll just go to Disney World or take a cruise!

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