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Friday, September 30, 2011

Social Networking & My Books

I survived yesterday!

So with 6.9 Billion people in the world and 2 billion people on-line in sort of a fashion, how do you reach these potential customers?  How do I get people to read my books? (answer at the end)
I have said and will repeat myself.   What sells books is word of mouth!
Whether it's a book review you read on a website, or a recommendation (i.e. Goodreads web site has a new book recommendation feature added to their site, which in my humble opinion is incredible!)
Goodreads dot com is by far the best Book website I have ever found.  They have approximately 6 Million members which you can befriend, follow their reviews, see Author Web pages, click to become fans of authors, review books, write reviews of books, create your own virtual book shelves, trivia, discussions groups, the list goes on and on.  They have approximately 190 million books in their database.  If you Love books you will Love Goodreads!!
It begs the question of what the Hallmark of Social Networking will be in the future?
I love Social Networking on some of the newer versions.  It has taken the place of the old chat rooms which were supposed to be places where intelligent people could connect over the internet via common interests and share information, dreams, desires, stories, all the relevant parts of our lives.  The computer water cooler where we gather, chat and share our common threads of humanity.  The social networking sites are getting closer to this ideal than anything so far.  I think these sites and connecting of people will continue to evolve until we reach this social ideal or until the governments of the world shut the internet off.
I Love LinkedIn but after a trail period you have to pay for the service, and pay out the freaking wha-zoo!  The trend seems to be to sign up again after your trial period with a different web address or alteration of your name after your trial period expires.  When my time period is up I'll be leaving that site.  I don't want to have to re do everything each year and re friend or connect with the same people just to socialize.
Myspace is dead, but that's old news!
Facebook is raging King but with the last round of changes and the way it was handled I have heard nothing good about any of the changes.  I have heard a lot of people saying they want something different!  With limits on how many people you can be friends with when there is a potential of two billion members, forget it, you're done it's just a matter of time.
Branched out is a lame extension of Facebook.  I really don't see the point.  They are groping around in the dark!!
Google + is on the rise, but frankly I am on there and it seems difficult to use but part of the problem is I don't know what I am doing.  If it is that hard to add somebody, make a connection with your established friends, I don't and won't use it!  I have a good friend I have invited or tried to invite numerous times and he still hasn't gotten an invite, he has had family members try and invite him and nothing.  There is a problem somewhere, because either very few know how to operate it or it doesn't work for Sh**!  Again if it is hard or difficult, forget it.  It could be it is so simple we just don't get it.  But if we don't get it, Google won't get us!  I see too many pleas for help to know I am not the only one struggling with their new baby.
There are numerous elitist social networking sites which I honestly feel should be targeted, hacked and crashed just because they are not open for anybody.  Crash and burn the elitist sites and let them root around with the rest of us in the mud on the sites that are trying to honestly let the world meet and greet and get to know one another.
1.  The future of social networking is going to have to be secure and never ever, ever, sell or give away customer information!!
2.  It needs to be open for everybody!  It truly could bring around world revolution and ultimately world peace if it is big enough and easy enough for the world to get to know each other.
3.  It should let you make connections based off e-mail addresses of your friends, depending on whether they like or approve your friend requests.  It should have means for bringing people with common interests together.
4.  There shouldn't be a limit on how many friends you can have.
5.  It should be multi-lingual with some sort of translator built in so if I make a friend connection in Russia or China I can chat with them.  So I type in English and they read it in Russian or Mandarin, and vice versa.
6.  I think it should have a colored tag of some sort connected to accounts as to if you sell something, promote something, author, a personality, movie star, Personal for close friends and family, and such forth.  Because obviously if your famous or even slightly famous I don’t' want to have to read 800,000 texts or messages from whomever even though they like you and have made a connection with you.
7.  It should have groups, book lovers, gardeners, painters, artists, musicians, young people, middle aged, those with children, religious groups (friendly and open only or they get blocked), businesses, sciences, history, mathematical, people with problems, people with answers to problems, people who need stuff, people who have stuff to get rid of.  Tons of groups with useful discussions where you can meet and connect with people of similar interests.  People who like to chat about the stuff you like to chat about.
8.  If it is to be the ideal site, it will include a version of Twitter for those who can't seem to go ten minutes without sharing with the world what they are doing and can't type more than 120 characters at once.
9.  It should include free blogging, or just really huge posting areas for those who type a lot of junk and feel a need to share no matter if anybody ever reads it.  People like ME!!
10.  Maybe make the connections layered so you can have family, friends, co-workers, I know of this person, possible new friends, people I would like to maybe do business with, people I just want to follow because I like the stuff they blab about, etc.  Then as you agree to befriend someone you choose how close they can get to you, and at what level you want to view correspondence from people you have made connections with.  The levels need to be adjustable so the member using the site can adjust their connections closer or farther away without upsetting their connections.  Relationships change.  You know when your best friend has a sleep over with your mate while you were out of town.  Well, things change, so it needs to be adjustable as our relationships with real people so often and quickly is.  Also so you can easily read the stuff you have rated as the highest priority to the least depending on how much time you have to check things and get back with people, hopefully not while you're driving your kids to school.
Many people have met the loves of their lives on-line.  I met my wonderful, incredible Editor On-line.  We have never actually met.  Yet she has helped me more than anyone else by editing my work, movie trailer for my first book, helping me make my books available as paperbacks through CreateSpace.  She has been everything a Great Editor should be plus more!  She inspires me, pushes me to be better than I am.  To write better and more properly.  (She has a lot of molding to do still, I am probably a difficult and embarrassing pupil.)  So, you don't want to eliminate the chance magical encounters that can and do happen over this incredible medium.
11.  We do need a way to block the perv's, freaks, and psycho's which also lurk amongst us and are very definitely on the net searching for prey.  Also ex' soul mates, the girl from high school who still hates you and feels a constant need to tell the world what a terrible person you are even when you in contention to receive a Noble Peace Prize this year.  Everybody knows at least one of these people and we should each should be able to individually block whomever we want from our social network.  These people still won't get when their network can't get past three people in a year.
12.  It needs to be assessable through all of our electronic toys, our television, cell phones, pads, and computers and whatever new toys Sony, Apple, and these other manufacturers have coming down the pipe in the near to late future.
13.  It needs to be able to be modified like Websites to reflect each member's individual personalities as we are human.  Each of us brings our own set of experiences, history's, knowledge base, personalities, families, heritages, likes and dislikes, preferences, and our tolerances and lack thereof to the game.  That's what makes it so interesting, frustrating, fun, exciting, challenging, and SOCIAL!  We each are unique individuals, all 6.9 billion of us!
I truly believe two things will unite the human race!
1.  A common enemy, not of this planet that we all have to band together outside of all our differences in order to just survive because mankind's survival instinct trumps all the other personal beliefs and petty crap we fight about.
2.  When 90 percent of the world is online and we are all sharing and the world decides through the internet what the world does or does not do according to what's best for the people everywhere, and it trumps governments, businesses and people with more money than good sense.  When entities can't do things under the cover of secrecy any longer because people everywhere are watching and reporting, and keeping everybody moral, honest, and doing what's best for mankind, or else mobs of people show up and shut you down and haul you away for correctional counseling or something, maybe a form of re-education.
I am not for building more and more prisons because the idea of locking people away so the rest of the world pays for their up keep and survival even though for some reason they don’t want to play nice and by the rules with the rest us.  That system isn't working too well!
I would like to think when the whole world gets plugged in we could collectively help groups resolve their problems in peaceful intelligent means, without armies, and without militaries moving in and laying down the law.  This utopia is miles away along with the perfect social media site.
How do I reach more people to have them read my books?  I work and learn to write better books!  I write books that people can't put down.  Books people feel compelled to talk with other people about.  They tell their friends, "You have to read this book so we can talk about it!"
They tell their friends and their friends tell theirs.  That's how it's been done since there have been books to discuss.  The internet just helps make connections and let's people talk to more people faster and easier than ever before in history.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

1/8 Eddie Gaedel

James Thurber wrote a story in 1941 about a baseball team hiring a 2ft. 11in. player, figuring no one could throw a strike that low.

In 1951, the colorful Bill Veeck, owner of the St. Louis Browns, sent the 3ft. 7 in. tall Eddie Gaedel, with the number 1/8 on his jersey in to bat and he was walked.

Now did Bill Veeck ever read James Thurber's story or did they both just have the same idea?

Correction again

Since the Year 2000 the Internet Usage is up!  Oh Man, ever just have one of those days when you shouldn't even touch a toaster!  I still have to drive to dinner and back!  I hope I make it!

Correction On Market Potential

The Number of the world population in the opening statement should be Billions not Trillions.
World Population est. 6.9 Billion with 2 Billion on the Internet!

Market Potential

It is a vast and widely different world out there depending upon where you're standing on it.  The world's population is somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.9 Trillion people.
How many of us on the planet read books?
How many are plugged into the Internet?  Approximately 2 Trillion or 30.2 percent of the world is plugged into the Internet on a regular basis.  The Growth of Internet usage since the year 200 is up by 480.4%.
Check the chart below as I found this very surprising!
Region                            % Online                # of Users                % of Pop. Online
Asia                                   44 %                922.3 Million                      23.8%
Europe                              22.7%               476.2 Million                      58.3%
North America                   13 %                272.1 Million                      78.3 %
Latin America                   10.3 %               215.9 Million                      37.0 %
Africa                                5.7 %                110.9 Million                      11.4 %
Middle East                       3.3 %                  68.6 Million                      31.7 %
Australia                             1 %                    21.3 Million                      60.1 %
Asia has 922 Million users and only 23.8 percent of the population is on line, which in turn is 44% of the Internet Usage of the World!  What will their numbers be when 78.3 percent of the Population is Online as in North America?  OMG!  It begs the question as a writer should I have my books translated into which language?
Top five languages in the world are as follows . . .
1.  Mandarin
2.  English
3.  Spanish
4.  Hindi
5.  Russian
One in six people in the U.S. have E-readers, with that expected to double in the near future.  16% of Americans read between 11 to 20 books a year, and 1 in 5 read more than 21 per year.
It seems that over eighty percent of the world would like to write a book in their lifetime.  In the past a dismal 2 to 3 percent of books written ever saw the light of day as a published book.
With the advent of E-book self publishing now virtually anybody who has a computer and the dogged determination to start and finish a book can publish it themselves.  Therefore you now for a while have a flood of E-books coming to market in the E-commerce world.  When you look at the potential market of book sales for an E-book being anybody with a computer, Pad device of some kind, a cell phone or an E-reader, all of which have an ever increasing markets of their own it is staggering!
One final note is that over fifty percent of all books sold are Fiction, and Mystery and Crime are most popular with Science Fiction coming in second.  These of course can get sub divided into many different sub groupings and added in with all the other Genres it makes for an open playing field for Book Sellers.  It is amazing the amount of Erotic Books that are hitting the Market when nobody ever buys them according polls.  Earthlings are hypocritical liars!
Oh Yeah, I said it, and yes I went there.  It just leads me to believe Mandarin Erotic book sales in the next twenty years will be in the astounding earth shattering numbers!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I suck at English!

Please don't let this date me more than I already am, because the medium I about to reference belonged to my parents and Grandparents, I was just the lucky recipient of the experience.
When I was a child growing up in the back woods of Idaho, I would listen to records of comedians.  First off, records are different sizes of vinyl disks with grooves in them and when you placed a needle into the grooves and rotated the disk the proper direction and speed you could hear a recorded message or music from these devices.  They had machines for this function called record players which would rotate these at the appropriate speed (78, 33, or 45) and amplify the sound into speakers for your listening pleasure.
My first experience of Bill Cosby was listening to a record of pieces of his various comic performances, starting with God speaking to Noah.  It was a much more entertaining version than what they provide Sunday school class.  Life was so slow and boring you would listen to these records over and over again until you had most of them memorized.
One of my favorites was a comedian named Shelley Berman, who would sit on a stool and do comedy.  Not like we have today!  He would pretend he was on the phone with somebody and you the audience would sit and revel at just hearing his side of the conversation.  One of his greatest pieces was poking fun at English or the lack of common sense concerning the rules of English.  I really feel that knowing this before my formative years caused a mental block in that English rules didn't work like mathematics so it was all wrong, so why learn it!
Example: (there are many!!!)
one mouse, several mice.  One moose, several meece!  No It's moose's.
One Kleenex several Kleenexese,
One Stewardess, several Stewardi
Several Jacki!
You get the point.
(These examples are what bits and fragments I remember from Mr. Shelley Berman's comedy album.)
I by no means wish to implicate Mr. Berman, Mr. Cosby, or any of the other great comedians I listened to as a child for my lacking in English skills.
That coupled with teachers who were male and strong and heavy in math and science and who probably had the very same deficiencies with English that I do today, didn't help the matter.
My teachers would say to get a dictionary to learn how to spell a word, which after a few unfortunate tries at particular words and attempting to sound them out, you quickly realized the futility of this train of thought.  I don't care how many times you go through the F section of the dictionary you will not find the freaking word PHONE.  Or Photography!  So the whole concept of sounding it out got thrown out with the relevancy of Rules of Grammar at a very young age.  It just didn't hold water with 1 +1 =2.
Today my understanding of mathematics relates more to English Grammar rules as does my understanding of what Quantum Mechanics has done for the hard facts and laws of science.  I think if I understood Mathematics was the same as English when you get much further along I might have been a bit more forgiving to the idiots who decided and made up the rules.
Of course now I understand also that WE idiots by what we use and don't use through time, in total disregard of Strunk and Whites or the Chicago Style guides prescribe is what will be considered proper English in the future which is how we have arrived at the wonderful state of affairs with which we now have to contend with.  I am just glad people still read!
There are many reasons but when it all boils down, it is my own fault I didn't learn it when I was younger.  I can still learn things at my age, my editor has proved this, I am just a little slow on the uptake of new software on such antiquated equipment.  Can't teach an old dog new tricks, HA!
Who would have dreamed that someday this little boy who spent so much time day dreaming because of an over active imagination, who was bored to tears throughout his school years would someday be required to know this illogical, unscientific, useless crap from his childhood because he dreamed of being a writer midway through his life.  I didn't grow up wanting to become a writer.  As a matter of fact I hated English, I knew I sucked at it, and English one and two were the last classes I took in college because I was sure that not passing these two classes would get me thrown out the college.  What was funny, looking back, is that teachers all along said I had the makings of a good writer and I would just laugh, because me as a writer was about as likely as Stevie Wonder being a navigator aboard a Starship or a Tennis Champion.
I went deaf as a young boy until I got tubes put in my ears which also contributed to my being rather introverted as child.  I am sure that my vivid and fascinating imagination was a result of that experience.
My wife says I have ass burgers or something like that, a mild high functioning form of autism which she says makes me come off sounding rude in public.  I don't mean to sound rude.  I have to admit that I do come across much better in written form than I do face to face.
Asperger syndrome, is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.  It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.  Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.
Is it any wonder that English is considered by the world as one of the hardest languages to learn, and in the Immortal words of Prof. Higgins, from 'My Fair Lady', "…why the Americans haven't spoken it for years!"
Pull the pencil out of your eye and get back to writing!  Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Know Your Audience

I could say 'Know Your Market Demographic', or some other George Orwell word twists that sound better or is more politically correct as a statement.  Or I could say what I think.
If you study writing somewhere along the way your will read the phrase "Write what you know."
This means if you start making stuff up off the top of your head someone somewhere will call you on it.  I remember one piece that the ladies in book club read and one of the ladies pointed out that the two street names which I made up didn't intersect.  It is Fiction!  I screamed in my mind, it doesn't have to be accurate it is made up!  Fictional.  She promptly gave me a small lesson in the art and craft of editing.  It only takes a second to look up a map and pick an actual spot and use the correct street names of two streets that actually intersect and it lends a touch of realism to your fiction, makes it more believable.  Otherwise if somebody stumbles across enough made up stuff which isn't accurate or correct they will put it down and stop reading.  Chances are they are not going to read any more of your stuff after that point.
Editing is such a huge all knowing and all encompassing act of transformation of a piece of work that it boggles my mind as to when do you know it is done.  When is it ready?  You can go over and over and continually rewrite the same piece from here to eternity and still never have it perfect.  Each reader will bring their own base of knowledge and experience to play in judging your piece.  Somebody will always have a suggestion, improvement, some fact you were completely unaware of.  There are literally millions of ways to write something.
Your work will only be a shadow of the brilliance of your editor multiplied by the time and effort you put into going over and over the same piece tweaking and rewriting it.  I keep reading all these discussions about how Indie Authors should hire professional editing help, hire professional cover artists, and spend what publishing companies do to promote and market a book professionally.  If everybody who wrote a book had the money to do that we would have publishing companies ourselves, and if we had that much money we wouldn't be working day jobs and burning the proverbial candle at both ends to become authors.  That is just not realistic.
We are not all created equal and not everybody has what it takes to be a good writer much less a great author.  I know personally my English skills suck at best!  This doesn't dampen my enthusiasm or desire to become an author in the slightest.  Nor should it!  Is there crap being published by self publishers?  Hell Yes!  Mine is probably near the top of the list!!
If the publishing industry didn't have a monumental rat's nest of a problem within their own industry this wouldn't be happening!  As I have stated before all this new dynamic is doing is putting everybody on a level playing field and giving everybody a chance!  In time the diamonds in the rough will emerge, those who endure will survive, and more people in history than ever before will be able to proudly proclaim, "I have written a Book!"  Now it is in the hands of the readers, which by the way, are also a big proportion of the writers, to decide what we will pay for and read thereby determining who will make money at this and who will not.
I started with 'Know your audience'.  I write military science fiction thrillers, action packed, suspenseful, and hopefully my readers might learn a little something along the way from reading my books.  I like to dance around issues that we as humans have to struggle with form day to day.  That doesn't necessarily mean I have my characters take the high road, because let's face it as being human goes we don't always take the high road.  More often than not we take a lower road to learn maybe we should have taken the high road, but we survived, life goes on.
My audience is me!  I know I can't be that much different than millions of other middle aged guys who work at a job when we would rather be doing something else.  We would like to think we may someday change the world for the better but probably won't.  We would like to get closer to achieving our dreams than our fathers did, but probably won't.  We deal with shitty diapers, trying to keep the bottom of the trash can clean so it doesn't stink.  We are always five projects behind on a house we would like to move out of into something nicer before this one succumbs to old age and falls down around us.
I am a cat lover but have thought every time I mow the grass about killing the neighbor's cat for using the entire side of my house as a cat litter box, and making my grass catcher smell like a cat litter box.  I have to empty that thing by hand!!!  There is nothing romantic, daring, exciting or even remotely stimulating that compares to the action movies or the book I like to read.  Why do I enjoy them, because it's an escape from my life and putting up with being civilized and not killing that freaking cat?  I write the books I enjoy reading so I know other guys and gals will also appreciate the escape it provides.
Would I like to write thought provoking and deep stuff?  Hell Yes, and maybe someday I will get there.  Would I like to be able to write poetically and grammatically correct in a way that images roll off your tongue with the sweetness of honey.  Hell Yes!  Probably never going to reach that one myself unless I get a lot more patient and pay a fortune for multiple edits of my work.
If you're writing a book, Good for You!  Keep going it will finish!  If you're editing a book, Awesome!  Keep going!  If you don't think you're good enough join the club, self-publish it and start writing the next blockbuster!  We all need to keep learning and honing our skills.  Know your audience and who you are writing for.  Nobody cares how the light glistened off the barrel of the gun before he blew the Aliens head off who was about to kill his children.  Boom!  They may care for hearing how he mangled the alien before grabbing his kids and pulling them to safety!  Keep writing, keep learning, Viva Revolution!
To the non – writers who might read this post, Support your Indie Authors and buy a book and the escape.  It saves Cats!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing, Book Clubs, and Reading

When I am reading a book I didn't pick out I always start with a certain amount of trepidation.  I read it saying to myself, "Alright impress me!"
Then the book will deliver or it won't.  It is the sheer volume of books that left me wanting that really inspired me to begin writing.  Where I envisioned a author going to a particular place but they never quite got there, or didn't go far enough in my opinion.  With writing books I can get a crazy and go as far as I want.  I have to remind myself constantly to "Jump into the shit."  Don't pussy foot around, or hedge around the bush, jump into the conflict, make it uncomfortable, make it emotional and personal as soon as I possibly can.  Otherwise I will be as lame as the books which made me want to write to begin with.
I belong to a book club, where we meet once a month at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore in the Starbucks section with the tables.  Whoever thought of putting Starbucks and Barnes & Noble together was a genius!  My book club each meeting decides on which Monday night the next month we will meet and what book we will read.  Everybody is free to make suggestions as to what we might read and we casually vote upon those books suggested as to what we read for the next month.  Each meeting we discuss the book we read the previous month.  What we liked, what was our favorite part, what we didn't like, etc.  The magic of the book club comes from several areas.
One)  After meeting together for months and years it becomes a special evening event once a month that is outside of your regular friends and events.  A little break from the world and the rat race of life to discuss a book.
Two)  Because we all introduce ideas of books to read from month to month, you have to read books you never ever would have chosen to read yourself.  This has a very surprising effect when you find a new author or new genre of book that you realize you love to read and thoroughly enjoy and you never would have guessed unless you happen to read one of those books.
Three)  Things change.  The only constant you can rely on in life is things change.  We have read several books by the same author and he has rounded the inevitable corner of his prime and his writing has gone to shit.  Either he lost what he once had, or ran out of juice, or forgot where he came from and what had gotten him to where he was at.  Whatever the cause, the result is he is on the decline.  For me as an aspiring author who still hasn't gained even the slightest bit of fame and haven't made enough money to buy a dinner for myself much less my family, I frankly can't even say if I have what it takes to succeed in this crazy industry of writing and publishing.  Only time will tell.  I will however try different types of stories and different series and groups of characters and I am probably hypersensitive to what little bit of feedback I get from those who have read my work.   I will not forget where I came from, and don't have a clue to where I am headed.  I pray it is to a point where I make enough money I can stay home and write full time.
If you're not in a book club I highly suggest you join one.  The website Goodreads has numerous groups which vote and pick books for a monthly read, kind of a virtual book club.  I haven't joined one but then I am member of a book club, and read numerous books in between on my own, and am writing two novels at the same time, not to mention full time employment and full time husband and father of three.  I am probably slightly over extended.  If you can't join a book club or start one with real people you personally know then at least try online. 
As far as the writing aspect of not forgetting where you came from.  I kicked around the idea of writing a book seriously from about 2002 until 2010.  During that time I wrote chapters and started over thirty different books.  It wasn't until the ladies of book club encouraged me to bring in chapters of what I was working on so they could read and edit my horrible work that I became serious enough to try and write every day.  Keeping in mind that of all the subjects in the entire Universe the only one I struggle with is English!  Grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary.
The story the ladies were helping me with is Golden!  If I stay with this long enough to get to 1 Million words published or I get picked up by a traditional publisher with an awesome editing department, I will come out with this series of Gems and more than likely this will be my pinnacle of success as a writer.  My Xanth series for those who know of Piers Anthony and his struggles with success.
What's funny is I had a start of Wiley Randolph's training and his first mission, what he was designed and trained to do, but I wasn't confident in my ability as a writer to pull it off.  Plus I had his last mission planned, and some basic ideas of books to do in the middle that I know I can flush out to be decent stories.  Knowing my first book would always be my worst I picked the least exciting, and most developed story I had in my tiny arsenal of work to finish as my first novel.  Whisper starts off slowly, because the first five chapters or so were written between 2002 and 2010.  You can tell when reading the story where I picked up in 2010 and finished the book by the flow and speed at which it goes.
With what feedback I have received about Whisper and the relationship of Lisa and Wiley, I added that so if I ever wanted to do another book after Whisper with Wiley I had a way of doing that.  Of all the things I expected questions about 98% of them are about Wiley and Lisa, which kind of took me by surprise, especially from the male readers who I thought would only really be interested in the technology and adventure aspects of the story.  As far as the difference in their age it was because my wonderful wife, my dream come true, is sixteen years younger than I am.  You write what you know, and there are definitely historical and cultural gaps with people of different ages and from different times.
So with this in mind, and being hyper-sensitive to the feedback, instead of just writing about Wiley's training and his first mission I am challenging myself with the sequel to essentially write two stories intertwined into one.  The sequel will pick up where Whisper left off but at some point in the book it will actually go back in time from Wiley's perspective reliving events of his first mission from his perspective, jumping forward to Lisa and Wiley discussing the mission, back to the mission, eventually concluding with both stories finishing, all questions answered and everything set and primed for the sequel to that book.  Taa Daa!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Holding on to Dreams

Soichiro Honda was a drifter and a dreamer.  He bounced from one mechanic’s job to another, and also worked as a babysitter, a race car driver and amateur distiller.  In 1946, he took over an old factory that lay mostly in ruins from wartime bombings, even though he didn’t know what he was going to do with it.  First he tried building what he called a ‘rotary weaving machine’, next he tried to mass produce frosted glass windows, then woven bamboo roof panels.  Finally, he came across a cache of surplus two-stroke motors, and he had an idea of making motorbikes.
Honda adapted the motors to run on turpentine and affixed them to flimsy cycle frames built by workers at the Hamamatsu Factory.  His motor bikes sold great as people were desperate for ways to get around in postwar Japan, as there was virtually no gasoline, or mass transit.  Soon Honda sold out of the motors and began making his own.  In 1947, the factory produced its first complete motorbike, the one-half horsepower A-type (nicknamed ‘The Chimney’) because it was smoky and smelly.
September 24, 1948, the Honda Company was incorporated!
In 1949 the company produced a more sophisticated bike.  A steel framed, front and rear suspended D-type that could go 50 miles per hour.  By the end of 1950 it introduced a Vespa clone called the Cub that was especially popular with women and the first Honda to be sold in the United States.
Starting in the 1960’s, the company produced a few small cars and sporty racers, but it wasn’t until it introduced the Civic in 1973 that it really entered the auto market.  The Civic burned less fuel and could pass the American emissions tests without a catalytic converter, as a result the car was a success with Americans frustrated with higher gas prices.  The larger more plush Honda Accord won even more fans starting in 1976, and by 1989 it was the most popular car in the United States.
Soichiro Honda was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1989, he died two years later at the age of 84.
In 1989, I had just graduated with a two Associates Degree with emphasis in Accounting and was doing the manual books for a little motorcycle shop in Kansas City.  By 1990, the owner of the cycle shop had developed a drug problem and was losing the cycle shop, and getting divorced all at the same time.  He couldn’t pay me the $850.00 dollars he owed me for finishing up the closing paperwork for his dead company.  He gave me a helmet, a 750cc, 1976 CB750 Honda Motorcycle and a bag full of chrome parts for the engine.  I couldn’t even ride a bike so I brought it home in the back of my truck.
I just learned to ride the bike by myself and was going to go get my bike license when my brother borrowed the bike for an evening to go over to his girl friends.  Long story short later that evening my brother and what was left of my bike was dropped off at my dads house out of the back of a farmers truck.  My brother lived, on the 21st of this month he just celebrated his 40th Birthday.  The wrecked Honda is still in my garage.  It has spent numerous years in a garage, a basement (that was stupid, note – never put a big bike in a basement.  Going down is easy, coming up took a tow chain a truck and about cost me a friends life.)  The Bike is about 8 hours worth of work and several hundred dollars (which I don’t have) in parts away from running again.

It still is completely stock 1976 CB750 Honda, which you hardly never see today.  Most of those bikes were chopped, turned into choppers!  This is why seeing that today is Honda’s Anniversary it has a special signifigance to me.  I have owned a brand new Kawasaki 800 Vulcan since 2002.  Got it on February 02, 2002.  02/02/02 How can I forget that!  Brought it home in the back of a truck too, because Kansas City was in the middle of an ice storm that day.  There is the ever slightest little dent in the top of the gas tank from a piece of ice that fell out of a tree and hit the tank and dented it as we were unloading it from the truck.  Even having the Kaw, I have kept the Honda so I can finish it and see it run at least once more.  Like Soichiro Honda. I am a dreamer!  I dream to see this Honda live and run once more.  It deserves that much!  Then I will sell or give it away!  I also dream of becoming a great writer and getting a book on the New York bestseller list someday!
My Books 
No Rules Of Engagement   Published August 31, 2011
Whisper   Published January 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Human Mind

I am continually astounded by the human mind!
A friend at works daughter has intermittently been getting an irregular rash over parts of her body.  Everybody, doctors included, have been stumped at the cause.
This friend had also related they had found a caterpillar and he had picked it up and put it in a tree, trying to help the caterpillar.
While doing research for my next Alexander Hawk Novel, I came across something called urticating hairs.  They are found on some plants, some tarantula spiders, and some caterpillars.  Urticating hairs are generally hollow and connected to some sort of venom or acrid glands.  The effects of these range from mild irritation to dermatitis.  The most potent chemicals in any animals is produced by the South American silk moth, genus Lonomia.  It is an anticoagulant powerful enough to cause a human to hemorrhage to death.
It dawned on me the next day to mention this to my friend and ask if his daughter touched the caterpillar.  She had not only touched it but played with the stick the caterpillar had been moved from the ground to the tree with.  It is possible that this genus of caterpillar has some of these hairs as a defense mechanism and if it is an oil based acrid or venom, washing will not get off, it will just spread it the way it does with the oils produced by poison ivy.
How in the world my brain remembered his two separate events over days apart in different conversations and recalled it while doing research about cocoons and reading about caterpillars, I will never know.  How does the brain just make stuff up out of thin blue air?
My wife used to work at a facility in the area that was a school for children with special needs.  Many of the children that she watched are autistic.  When I looked up autism years ago it was defined as a sensory input malfunction with the brain.  I also found out everybody was some form or similar tendencies associated with autism.  It is my belief everybody, most Normal people (whatever in the world qualifies as Normal), are probably all just highly functioning autistics!
In the movie "Rain Man", with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, Mr. Hoffman's character displays a wide range of special gifts associated with people who are considered gifted.  I don't believe there has ever actually been a single case that manifested every gift in the way that was portrayed in the movie.  But that's Hollywood's take on it.  Generally, and very rarely a person with autism may exhibit one of the gifts.  Generally very few that do are what would be termed as highly functional or would have the ability to function in public without supervision.
The reason I mention this is because I realize autism is a malfunction, but if a person's brain, correctly or incorrectly could exhibit any of these gifts, which some of these children do, that means the human brain has the ability to do that!
Let me explain.
In the movie one of the gifts is looking at a spilled box of toothpicks and being able to count how many had fallen out at a glance!  For a person with this ability, it proves the brain is capable of doing this!  Do we dummy down our children by teaching them to count?  Should we start off teaching number theory to little children and let them figure out how to count on their own.  Maybe we would get a whole class of kids who could glance and know the number because the brain counted automatically, not one by one.
In the movie the character had a photo graphic memory.  I have known for years that I can't remember people's names for anything.  But I am very good at and never forget a face.  Can't put a name to a face to save my life, but for some reason with faces and pictures, particularly art work, if I see it, it's there, but only in color.
In college one time I was outlining some boring stuff and had a bunch of colored ball point pens, so I did all the Main headings in one color, and switched color with each sub point underneath that, and just kept the same pattern up as I went through the outline.  Days later when it was time for the test I was amazed that I could picture and read my notes in my head as if I was seeing them in front of me.  I figured out it was the color.  I have tested it repeatedly after that time and it isn't permanent, I never forget, but for a while after I outline something in color, or change the print of something to a colored font and then I read it, it is there with almost perfect recall up to two to three weeks later.  I truly believe it all is still in my head somewhere I just have a problem recalling it.
They say we only use about 5% of our brain.  If that's a fact, I know a few people who are hovering around 1 to 2 percent!  I often think of the possibilities of what we (mankind as a whole) would be capable of if we used 20 to 30 percent, 50%, 75% of our brain.  Would what we call gifted be common place and abilities everybody would routinely have.  It is a very good possibility!  I honestly think if an intensive study on the education of humans was done and then teaching principles were changed accordingly we would see a sharp rise in human potential.
Before any real change could take place, teaching would have to be a priority, at all stages of peoples development.  Teachers should be the highest paid profession in our society.  If they were, the competition for teaching jobs would be fierce, and better, smarter, more talented teachers would emerge.  If you look at where teachers are compared to all other professions in our society according to compensation, it becomes extremely obvious that our elected government or those in real power don't want a smart independent thinking society.  God Forbid, because we would reform the Government if we had half a brain!
Like I mentioned in an earlier post we need to do like the Ancient Chinese and test everybody!  Morality would be the highest and strictest graded part of the tests!  The top two percent of the smartest people in our entire country are the only ones eligible for government service!  Then reform education to make our children the most intelligent, knowledgeable, and moral people we can make them.  Maybe through a couple of generations we could push ourselves into the six to ten percentile of our brains potential.
As a parent I want my children to be smarter than I was and go farther in life.  I have to believe any parent who truly cares about their children would want nothing less.  So on the assumption that all people with children believe in the same fashion concerning education . . .
Why isn't Education Reform one of the top political concerns?
Why are we not pushing for education reform just as hard as certain groups are pushing for abortion/anti-abortion or gay rights?
At least Education Reform isn't as controversial and something everybody could agree on!  Everybody would agree, except of course, those individuals that want a stupid, illiterate society of sheep which are much more easily governed and controlled.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Run Or Die?

What if, in mankind's early history we didn't have to fight for our survival against animals and other tribes of our fellow humans?  If when we first encountered another group our first reaction was to find common ground, establish communication, and learn about each other.  Realizing the other tribe were fellow human beings, and then cooperating for joint survival of both tribes.  Each tribe would send some of their people to live with the other tribe to learn their ways and be the intermediaries to help bring the tribes closer together.  Cooperation was the mainstay instead of Competition.  This would eventually grow into a peaceful society.  There would never be any wars, no use to develop weapons and fortresses.  The more intelligent would prevail instead of the best fighters.  A group like this would have had the Internet in the dark ages!  They would be battling completely different problems than we have today.
Ever wonder why China has such a huge population compared to the rest of the world.  They had long periods of peace in their early history.  They had a specialized society based off agriculture from way back.  At one point in their ancient history they would test the entire population on a whole range of subjects and the top two percent of the highest scoring people on the test would be eligible for government service.  Not lawyers, not unscrupulous members of their society, nobody bought their way into an office.  It was the most intelligent people of their country!
Of that two percent people were chosen to serve the country and they were instructed to decide on issues that would be best for the country as a whole not based off what was best for their particular region.  They flourished in many ways and their population grew dramatically compared to those of the West were busy killing each other off in the name of religion, control of land or resources, or just in the name of power and their country.  Scientifically up to a point the Chinese were way ahead of the world in many respects.  That was the old Chinese governments of the Great Dynasties, not the Communist China we know today.  Even in the old days when they had things working well, it would work for a while until the government became corrupt and quit working then there would be a revolt, a new Dynasty would come to power and things would be good for another period.
My point in bringing this up is that used as an example of what peaceful living may produce, you could expect a huge population and to be very scientifically advanced.  China was not entirely a peaceful nation as they were repeatedly attacked and occasionally attacked other areas around themselves.  They are human and therefore had to fight to survive on the planet with the rest of us.
So say the example of peaceful living happened elsewhere, on some other planet in some distant universe.  My contention is they would much more technologically advanced than we are.  They would have developed space travel and exploration as a means of colonization to help with the overcrowding on their planet and to find and gather additional resources for their people.
What would happen if they discovered Earth?  If they watched our television broadcasts, nightly news reports from around the world?  If we were them and lived in an entirely peaceful society and found other beings tearing themselves and their home planet apart at the seams with no regard for their future let alone their own species?  We would mark the planet as to avoid at all costs!
What would happen if they were attacked by some outside force of beings?  Beings worse than humans, that don't even communicate.  They just attack and destroy and rape planets for their natural resources and move on.  What would this peaceful society do then?  What could they do?
They can run!  Or they could die!
My favorite book for many years has been Orson Scott Cards, "Ender's Game" but I always had some problems with his Science Fiction Masterpiece!  I think "Ender's Game" is a must read for everybody, and it is a masterpiece of science fiction in my opinion.  I still have a couple of problems with the work.
1.  Warfare is deception at its mid to lower levels, at its worst like it is most commonly experienced.  At its highest form you defeat your enemy without fighting!  For those that have questions about this consult Sun Tzu's, "The Art of War."  Another masterpiece of non-fiction that is required reading at Harvard Business School along with Westpoint Military Academy.  To my way of thinking it ranks number two in literature coming in second to the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
            a.)  The problem with Ender being the next great military leader is he wouldn't be able to be tricked or fooled if he really was.  With the combined attributes of the Great Military Leaders of the past you would be almost inspired with foresight concerning your enemy, conditions, terrain, morale, intelligence, and the outcomes of your battles.
2.  Mr. Scott the author was not a military person.
Trust me when I say neither of these problems of mine takes away from the genius which his books encompasses, and if you have not read "Ender's Game" treat yourself to the experience before you die.  These two problems are just personal little things that bothered me through the years.  So when I began writing seriously last year, I combined the first premise of a peaceful alien society getting attacked by a savage race of aliens and coming to Earth to enlist our help in fighting the savages to save their own race.
If anybody knows me, they will know my thinking about these subjects didn't just stop here.  It developed to the point that even in theory it was bigger than a single novel.  There is too much to be explored about warfare, why we fight, religion and warfare, how a peaceful society will be affected by the intermingling of these wonderful new concepts into their peaceful society.  Not to mention the military aspects of what equipment would they use, what kind of weapons they would use, how you would fight in space, many of the same motivating factors that Mr. Scott dealt with years ago when he crafted his masterpiece.
In my second novel I jump in with both feet first, with great characters and fast action in the first of three novels.  "No Rules Of Engagement" is exactly what the name implies.  No holds barred, military action suspense thriller science fiction novel.
If you read my first book "Whisper", it started off slow, and got much faster as you proceeded through the book.  I knew being my first book it would always be my worst.  It starts off slow because I wrote the first five to six chapters between 2002 and 2010.  The rest of the book was written in 2010 and roughly finished and rushed to be E-published.  I learned a lot from doing it.  My second novel, "No Rules Of Engagement" was completely written in 2010, rewritten and edited to the best of my ability with help from my editor Jo Murphey.  It isn't perfect but all the mistakes in it rest solely on my shoulders and impatience.  If it was up to my Wonderful Heaven sent Editor I would have went through it many more times and it would have been near perfect before it was ever released.  I also thank her for her extreme patience in dealing with my lack of patience and continual pushing to finish.
If you like science fiction.  If you ever read "Ender's Game" and were sorry there had to be an end to the book.  If any of the above has peaked the slightest bit of interest.  Please give my second book a try!   For Paperback

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wiley E. Coyote Super Genius

On September 21, 1912, Chuck Jones was Born!

During his life he created my favorite character EVER!  Wiley E. Coyote!!  The coyote who spent his life chasing the Road Runner, and buying all the stuff from ACME!

I loved Wiley because he Never Gave Up!!  Always had a new idea, new angle, new plan.  I have spent years watching those cartoons and laughing my ass off.  I am sorry I know they were terribly violent, but they were extremely funny, with layers of humor to range from children, the village idiot to the highly educated, there was something there everybody could appreciate.  Today's cartoons are extremely lacking in my humble opinion.
(By the way the main character of my first book is named 'Wiley'.  Now you know why!)

Chuck Jones also came up with Road Runner, Marvin the Martian, Pepe le Pew, during his time as head of a unit at Warner Bros. Animation.  He worked on the development of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig, winning several Academy Awards for his work through the years!

First Female Supreme Court Justice

September 21, 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate as the first female Supreme Court Justice.
"…the important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases." – Sandra Day O'Connor.
Go Girl!!

It's Not My Fault!

If one of my customers calls me because they just got delivered the wrong tires, the last thing in the world they give a shit about is "Whose fault it is!"
The only thing they are interested in is, "What am I going to do to fix the situation!"
Companies need to get out of this grade school childish mentality of it's not my fault, so and so didn't do what they were supposed to do, blah, blah, blah!!!!
Nobody cares!
If a mistake is made then FIX IT!  Period.  End of Story!
After the fact, internally find out what the hell happened and put procedures in place to keep it from happening again.  It is not surprising that certain companies are so busy they can't keep up, and other companies are floundering and tripping themselves up.
I was on hold with a trucking company the other day and listening about their new state of the art cell phone app so you can get up to date information on your shipment to your cell phone.  I listened for twenty minutes on hold while they tried to find out where in the hell my load of tires was at that just missed its fourth appointment since shipping on September 2nd.
I was patient for 11 days before I became impatient.  When this load gets here this week, if it gets here, it will be the last load they carry from this manufacturer to us, EVER!
The sad part is this is the second supplier we have had to inform that if they ship by this particular truck line in the future, that we will refuse the load!
The alternate company who will be getting the business is struggling because they are near capacity with shipments and deliveries!  Go figure!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I wanted to change the sport

"Ever since that day when I was 11 years old, and I wasn't allowed in a photo because I wasn't wearing a tennis skirt, I knew that I wanted to change the sport." – Billie Jean King
September 20, 1973, In a $100,000 dollar, winner take all tennis match Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs.  It was a battle of the sexes, as Bobby Riggs had famously boasted that no woman could defeat a male because women were the weaker sex.
I respect the fact that Billie Jean King decided to change the sport, instead of change sports!
I have to confess at a very young age when I was more stupid than anything else.  That age when you're so stupid you have no concept of how stupid you really are!  I used to be a male chauvinist!  I wasn't raised that way, I was just stupid.  God Almighty gave me a daughter a few years later and cured me forever of that ignorance.  I remember laying on the floor doing homework for college and watching this little girl play on a blanket in front of me when it began dawning on me how utterly ignorant and moronic I had been.  How so many of the things in my life I thought I believed and knew was completely wrong.
I became the biggest proponent of Women's Liberation while my daughter was still in diapers.  She is twenty and in college today, and let me tell you she isn't part of any weaker sex.  She can run circles around men and women her own age, and she isn't intimidated by anybody, man or women.  I am extremely proud of her if you can't tell.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Women’s Liberty Bell

On September 18, 1915, a replica of the original Liberty Bell toured Pennsylvania with supporters of the women’s suffrage movement.  The bronze bell travels through all 67 counties on a specially-built truck.  The clapper of the bell was chained to the side and the bell stayed silent until September 25, 1920, when it was brought to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and rung in ceremonies celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
On this date in history the first person to jump to their death from the Hollywood sign in California is Peg Entwistle, a despondent actress.  She jumps from the “H”.  The Hollywood sign was built in 1923 to advertise a nearby housing development.  It originally read “Hollywoodland”, the name of the subdivision.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Plane Crash

This mornings head lines include a WWII Airplane crashing into crowded bleachers at an airshow.  A few weeks ago there was a fatality at an airshow here in Kansas City.

On this date in History, September 17, 1908, Lt. Thomas Selfridge of the U.S. Army, was killed becoming the first passenger to die in an airplane crash.  Orville Wright's aircraft propeller broke in mid-flight, causing the crash.  Wright was badly injured in the crash.

I have an extreme love affair with airplanes, especially the old World War II models which were not only efficient killing machines but works of art, from how they were designed and painted.  I Love the airshows, without which we would never see these beautiful machines in their natural environment, Flying!

My Heart and Prayers go out to all who were injured and killed at the airshow, and to the brave pilots who fly these living museum pieces.  I give my sympathy to all who lost important members of their lives this morning in what should have been just some awesome entertainment.  I also hope accidents don't put a stop to airshows in the future, but I hate seeing tragedy where it should be awe and fun for the family. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Solution

As a manager, I realize that I have been pointing out flaws with Traditional Publishing since I have E-Published my first book in January 2011, and started my blog.
As a manager of a corporation I don't mind hearing about problems, as a matter of fact, it is a big part of my job to identify and solve problems as they are identified!  So I especially love it when an employee or customer points out a problem but furthermore provides a possible solution to the problem.
If I were a manager at a large Publishing House, seeing what I am seeing in the industry, I would propose this as a possible solution!
What the publishers have to offer is Professional Editing, Professional Cover Art Production, and the advertising and marketing to get a book professionally launched.  The fact that the book will be a real book can be done very easily by Indie Authors through Createspace, so that is not really a big selling point anymore.
So as a manager of a Large Publishing House I would take the following steps.
A.  Create a website, or multiple sites where Indie Books are reviewed and promoted on these sites for FREE!  You will be swamped with people wanting their books reviewed.  Indie Authors will give their books away to have them reviewed and even marginally promoted on a site!
B.  Hire a team of people (on line, around the world) who are prolific readers of different Genres.
            1.  They have to actually be able to read the books and give fair and accurate reviews of books in a timely manner.
            2.  They should be provided with a list of interview questions for the author to include the answers to some of the questions on the site with the review.
            3.  These reviewers Primary mission will be to sift through the crap and find the diamonds in the rough who they will immediately contact the publishing house to go and present them with an offer to re-release their book with the professional services they can provide and an option to work with the author on their upcoming books.
C.  Sign up talented authors who need editing and artwork to make their books better.  Realizing when the author gets bigger and better and has the money to hire other editing or artwork themselves that you may lose them entirely in the future.  If you do a good job with this influx of new business, making good matches of Author to Editor, successful book launches this will help turn the tide for quite some time.  This effectively cancels out the literary agent unless the author hires an agent after being signed.  The agent, publisher, query letter, synopsis crap coupled with lawyers and contracts is why this industry is so screwed up in the first place.
D.  One solution for agents may be for the Publisher to assign agents to the clients who work for the publisher.  Each agent works to help manage the authors assigned to them without the need to actively sell the work to a publisher.
It's just a thought!  I think too much, partly because I read about as much as I write, which is kind of a lot!

Carriages to Chevrolet

The Durant-Dort Carriage Company, based in Flint, Michigan, had by 1890 become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles, which by 1900 they ultimately became number one in the world.  Founded in 1886 with $2,000 in start capital was built up to a 2 million dollar business with sales around the world.  William Crapo 'Billy' Durant was not a big fan of cars, thinking they were stinky, loud, and dangerous and wouldn't let his daughter ride in one.  Seeing the public outcry about how there needed to by government regulation of these gas powered horseless carriages, Durant looked for an opportunity to improve the safety of these new machines rather than relying on government intervention.  He purchased Buick, which had only built 37 cars to date, a local car company with little sales and large debts.  He entered Buick into a New York auto show and returned from the show with orders for 1,108 cars!
Billy Durant partnered with McLaughlin of Canada to build Buicks.  Durant went to Detroit and on November 20, 1907 started General Motors of Canada, and September 16, 1908 (Today in History), General Motors Holding Company was started!
It would be later that Durant would bring in Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, and eventually Chevrolet!  This was years before the 57' Chevy Classic or the Corvette were even imagined!
I'm sure Durant turned over in his mausoleum at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York, when the U.S. Government had to bail out GM from bankruptcy.  The Stock market crash pretty much destroyed Durant's fortune as he never again reclaimed his earlier business successes after the crash.
Why is this important?  Well it relates to today's date, when GM was started in the United States of America.
The Publishing Industry is undergoing changes in the market and could be compared to the carriage business of 1890 through 1900.  One would call turning two thousand dollars capital into a two million dollar industry wildly successful!  But where was the carriage company by 1906, 1926, 1936.  There are still companies today you can buy a carriage from, and you can even buy old ones restored or that have been protected over time.  What is the book market going to look like in 2021, 2031, 2041?  How many giant publishing houses will still be around?
If you mentioned this to Durant in 1887, after his first year in the carriage business, about where his company would go and how it would end up he would have probably laughed in your face.  Yet when the time came he changed with the times, made new contacts, found new products, formed dealerships, and literally built a market for his cars.  Will the Publishers and Literary Agents of today change with the times, find new markets, change their age old model of business which frankly was allowed to rule the scene for a very long time!
If their model of business wasn't broken why is there such a flood of people publishing books NOW!  Because they can, NOW!  Can I get an AMEN!

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