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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Music of Your Life

Growing up my Dad always said he enjoyed mowing the grass.  I could never understand this because to me it was stupid senseless work.  The only reason I was pushing a lawn mower was because the lawn mower doesn't know where to mow!  I even designed a robotic lawn mower to mow my grass for me (Robotic – entirely independent, not radio controlled), unfortunately I am a better designer than I am a builder.  If anybody read my post about the light chasing robot you will quickly understand why I am still mowing my own grass.
As I have gotten older I realized I long for mowing the grass.  Not because I enjoying mowing the grass, but because I actually like getting out and working outside a bit, it is a break from my job and family, and it makes my tiny square of the world look more pleasing to me.  I can do it while listening to an MP3 player, a device my father never had, or took the time to learn to use when the knowledge and product became available.  This is what really makes it nice for me and embarrasses the ever loving shit out of my wife.  Inevitably I will come across one of my favorite songs and forget people can hear me attempt to sing along over the roar of the mower.  My horrid attempts at singing and doing so in public where we live are what embarrass my wife.
Last year I somehow sweat into the case of the MP3 player and fried it guts outs.  It was ancient anyways and for just over twenty dollars I got a new one that is one quarter the size and holds all of my music with tons of room left over.  So I totally wasted an evening syncing my music to my MP3 player, copying music from my CD's to my computer to add to my portable collection of music.  OMG!  I had the time of my life listening to music creating a new and improved play list with twice the songs that I had previously had and then syncing it to this new player. 
It dawned on me that with the music speaker thing I have in the house that allows my Kindle to read to me, I can also listen to my personal collection of music around the house, while driving, and while riding my motorcycle with this new player.  It had dawned on me before how I can listen to my music collection all the time with really embracing this technology.  How much happier could the world be if we all could spend part of everyday listening to the music that makes us happy.  Music that lifts our soul's energy levels to higher states.
Warning:  You shouldn't drive with the ear buds in!  You shouldn't drive EVER while listening to the William Tell Overture, The Peter Gunn Theme by Henry Mancini, or the Hawaii Five 'O Theme by the Ventures.  It just isn't safe for you or the general public!
If you don't know those titles – check them out.  And for the older crowd that knows those titles, check out "Teenagers" by My Chemical Romance.  You can probably find a video of it on line.  I thought the cheerleaders in the gas masks were inspired.  If you judge people by their music collection I'm screwed and headed for a padded room in the future.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stuff that Sucks – The Rebuttal

I had several different ideas of stuff I wanted to write a Blog post on instead of posting an apology to Mr. Nicholas Sparks for possibly hurting his feelings in any of my past posts about how I hate what he writes.  Then I got a blog update that I felt I needed to respond to publically!
I have stated before in previous posts that I have a problem with swearing from time to time.  If reading swear words really offends you do not click on the link below and read the Cranky Old Man Blog Post and DO NOT READ my rebuttal of said post which follows.  Just tune in tomorrow where I hopefully will behave in a much more civilized manner after having washed my mouth out with soap.  Don't worry your probably not missing much, but at least I am not apologizing to Mr. Sparks today!
My Rebuttal
Broadway plays, especially musicals – I am a real man and I can handle sitting through one of these to please my wife just as I expect her to sit through watching cars smash each other in a demolition derby.  Sometimes if you're lucky, you get to see them make mistakes and flop which you never get to see in the movies.  Plus with Television and movies you don't really see people dance and try to sing as you do during live performances.
Opera – Never actually been to one so I can't be too critical as that might be hypocritical.  Having never been to one lends credit to how much of a real man I actually am.
Ballet – Falls in with Opera, never been!
Competitive swimming – Not the same but I remember the diver who dived into the diving board below him – That was brutal!  It was like NASCAR the way they kept replaying it.  But if you want to pick on a sport WTF is that crap where they slide the fucking rock across the ice with the stick thingy and broom!  I agree with the - if nobody can get hurt it probably isn't a sport.  The rock thingy could get swapped with a land mine and use a whole team dressed in bomb suits sweeping it and blowing themselves up!
Frankly I am privately promoting the rise and introduction of Segway Jousting! 
Shakespeare – Yeah, I just don't get it, never will, as it is the same with poetry.  Those that do probably haven't ever driven a fucking TANK for a living either!
Quiche – I get promoted in the Man Club for not even knowing what this was.  I had to look it up!  Seriously!  Doesn't have to be steak but meat and potatoes for sure and if you add Gravy to it, it makes it a meal!
Figure Skating – This will turn some heads but I grew up in the Great North, Idaho!  Everybody had their own ice skating rinks as Winter is one of the two seasons they have there.  I got my first pair of used Hockey Skates at age six.  Everybody skates unless they are handicapped.  When I got my first figure skates I couldn't figure out why hockey players weren't using those because they are barbed in the front!  I didn't know what figure skating was. 
As I am older and know about the sport, if I could go back in time being heterosexual and a skater and getting to enter a sport where you get to hold and play with women in that kind of manner and skate, I can't figure out why so many guys are playing hockey instead of being figure skaters.  I sure as hell can't figure out why so many male figure skaters are not straight!
I traded my ice skates for in-line roller blades and still skate even today I just do it in the street.  FIY roller blade wheels melt in about four minutes at forty to fifty miles per hour.  When they melt and the wheels ooze up the through the trucks – YOU STOP QUICKLY!  You think I would have learned that fact the first time I melted a set of wheels.  3X means I am just freaking stupid!  But man what a RUSH!
T.V. Award shows – I like it when once and while a genuine person gets an award they are actually blown away by the fact they have won.  I love the fact of how things change with these shows like the First, One and only and last award for Disco went to Gloria Gaynor for "I will survive."  I also like the fact I can't listen to that song without thinking of the movie "The Replacements".
Dancing – I can't dance but like to believe there is enough alcohol and that’s why God invented Scotch was for the further invention of playing the Bag Pipes and men trying to dance with their women.  I make the Bag Pipe comment because if you ever heard anybody learning to play the Pipes it sounds like your strangling an animal.  The first person to come up with it had to be two Scottish men having some fun with their buddy while all three were having a wee bit to drink.  Leave it to the Scottish to turn the joke around on the jokester and turn it into a traditional beautiful sounding instrument. 
I like Cats because of their fuck you attitude in spite of the fact they need us to take care of them.  If they could take care of themselves or didn't think they owned us for pets they would take over the world.  I am not really a dog person because they are too social and needy!
Finally Mauve falls into the Quiche category and just moves me up a notch for not knowing what it was!  A color really?
Sorry, I couldn't find anything to post about, Mr. Sparks, your apology will have to wait until another day.  The first day my faculties fail me and I can't find a thing to post about I will get right on that apology for possibly hurting your feelings.

SPB Roundup

~ A Gallery of Self-Published Books

Both my books are listed on the first page of Science Fiction!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Censorship Versus Freedom of Speech

Recently, PayPal has come down on Smashwords dot com about some aspects of Erotica.  They claim the pressure is coming from the banking Industry that they deal with.  Smashwords in turn has had to take steps against certain aspects of the erotica published through its site to survive to fight another day in the name of free speech or the expression of the right through the freedom to publish.  I have noticed the extreme amount of material that is available on the site in the form of Erotica, but I am comfortable with it for several reasons.
1.  It allows it to be published above board, legally, not underground illegally and part of some criminal element.  If as a society we legalized and taxed prostitution, and drugs it would take away the criminal element of it.  Allow it to be regulated and controlled by aspects of the government instead of flying under the radar tax free and supporting illegal behavior.
2.  The site has a prude filter you can set to on which hides all this type of content if you desire not to see it but still enjoy the many other elements of Independent Authors work.
3.  By allowing it to exist on websites like Smashwords you do not hinder anyone's right to expression or others rights to purchase such works therefore not threatening or holding back anybody's right to freedom of speech.
Censorship is most prevalent in the United States where Freedom is supposed to reign more than anywhere else on Earth, provided it censored!  Come on!  It's time Americans stand up and put our freedom to the test!  If it offends your narrow minded views or virgin ears shut it off, don't look, don't listen and for God sake quit talking about it and fighting for censorship!  Freedom is allowing it all, even the offense crap!
Here is a test for every red blooded flag waving AMERICAN who reads English, believes in the Constitution and ALL that it stands for! 
1.  Vote for NO CENSORSHIP! On the Web, On Television, On Radio, and especially for books!
2.  Vote for LEGAL Prostitution and Drugs, taxation and regulation of such to help pay the national debt.
We will never get it, because organized crime (which doesn't exist) would shoot any politician pushing to take away their livelihood, or threaten to tax and regulate it.  They get paid for regulating; controlling and distribution of said services and get to do it tax free already.
My question is who in the Banking Industry or at PayPal is reading these books to determine said offensive material is in said books?  It appears they have a problem with erotica books that deal with bestiality, rape, and incest!  I am not saying I am for or against these topics or for or against erotica.  Somebody is going to write this stuff, somebody is going to pay for it, and somebody is going to read it.  They successfully block it and it goes underground and joins the realm illegal activity, off the grid.  How do we know it isn't illegal interests trying to block the stuff to maintain control of their interests?
Somebody has to be buying said books and reading said books to even know there is something offensive there to begin with!  If I am supposed to believe some religious person or group of business individuals has purchased one of all these books to read them and then wants to start a crusade to save our souls by threatening our freedom of speech and to publish materials but will still allow the Holy Bible and other religious works to openly be published and sold.  The Bible has elements of the worst strewn throughout it!  The worst sins imaginable are committed and discussed in its pages.  I am just stating when we cave in on one count of Censorship – where is it going to stop?  Who decides which books to burn and which books we are allowed to read? 
Our own Declaration of Independence, the writing of it, standing up for it, and definitely the signing of it would have been cause for being hung had our founding fathers lost the war!  Yet we are going to purposefully say this can't be said, that can't be shown or said on TV, and this can't be written about or sold, because it offends someone.  Are we letting narrow minded people determine the limits of our freedoms that have been bought and paid for by the blood of our countries men and women?  Or are we letting criminal elements keep control of their wrongful deeds rather than letting them be exposed to the light of day, taxation and other respectable enterprises.  I have noticed since I was a child that countries with much less freedom than we claim to have seem to have more freedom to express themselves in the way they see fit, with much less censorship! 
Grown men and women should have the right to censor themselves, shield themselves, just as we should have the right to express ourselves freely on the different forms of media!  It is our right, for good and bad!  It disgusts me that I have to stand to see a fellow citizen exercise their rights by burning our flag, yet you get fined for saying something like "Beaver" on Television!  That's moronic and the true state of affairs in our country.  Censorship doesn't work it will only force it underground and breed more crime!  In the Immortal words of Dr. Johnny Fever, "Booger!"
Hell, that's going to show my age and taste in television from years gone bye.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nice Surprise

Today I was surprised when my best friend, Phillip Woody, showed up with a copy of my book his mother had bought for me to sign for her!

Signing your book, leaving a personalized message for the person, just really makes you feel like an author!!

It was a great way to start the day off!

This is me sitting at my desk at Community Wholesale Tire.
Thank You Phillip for so many wonderful moments and for coming up with the perfect title for the book I was signing.  "No Rules Of Engagement"

I had him read the rough draft of the book and forgot the first line read "Not Titled Yet", Phillip read the book and came in and said "How about No Rules Of Engagement as a title for your book?"  It was just one of those moments.  The sequel is titled "Not Titled Yet", I am waiting until Phillip finishes reading the sequel as I finish the book, he gets first crack at coming up with the title!  He is my number one Beta reader for my books.  My greatest fan, and a damn good friend!

Being Prepared – Blessings from being OCD

Being prepared cannot stop life's challenges and tragedies from knocking on your door, but it can lessen the impact they have on your life when they do.  The biggest part of being prepared falls back to planning.  Planning relies on looking ahead, paying attention, and learning from your past experiences.
I am a planner by nature.  The joke around my house is that I can't go to the restroom without a plan.  By my very nature and by virtue of my OCD tendencies I attend my life by a strict schedule.  I am flexible and can change my plans, be spontaneous, and change my plans on a moment's notice, which allows me to have OCD tendencies but not be crippled because of it.  Technically my wife says I have a mild form of aspergers with OCD tendencies, not that it matters.
When you plan ahead for even the littlest things in your life and prepare for them as much as you can it will make those things run smoother.  As larger things appear on your horizon, try and anticipate the things you can do before hand to prepare ahead of time and again things should run smoother. 
I see too many times those who do not plan ahead for anything getting into situations that could have been predicted and planned for.  Worse yet are those individuals who enjoy and delight in skipping over, around and under problems like some fairy tale creature singing, "You can't catch me."  Sooner or later we all will get stuck or tripped up by something.
When I run into problems I try to attack them and deal with them head on.  Unpleasant or not, they get handled as best I can.  Then they are done, I learn from the experience and continue on my merry way.  The skippers get caught and all the other problems they have been successfully avoiding come crashing down upon them.  Oh poor me.  Life is so unfair!  I have all this stuff to deal with NOW. 
How much of the situation is actually stuff that could have been handled in your not so distant past, or dealt with before you got tripped up.  How much easier would it be to only deal with parts of a problem than multitudes of problems all at once.  How many of these people don't learn from their past and when they get past a crisis go right back to avoidance again, instead of dealing with stuff or God forbid some preventative maintenance in the form of planning ahead.
Start small, little lessons.  When you go to the restroom, see if there is toilet paper before you do anything else!  Lay out your clothes the night before.  Maybe make a menu for the coming week before going to the store.  Get gas in your car before the light comes on.  Get a vitamin organizer like the old people use and load it up ahead of time.  Put an empty folded up trash bag in the bottom of the trash can the next time you change the bag.  Plan out the chores you do weekly, monthly and seasonally, and then schedule them into your week so you make sure they get done and you won't be rushed trying to do them.  Put a little money back for an emergency.
I don't suggest people get nuts about it but a little advanced planning, preparedness can make life so much smoother, happier and less stressful.  Frankly, life is challenging enough without our help in making it more difficult.  It's your life, you only get one, live it with purpose, enjoy even the mundane and seemingly unimportant parts as if they were the most important.  Handle things as they come up or before the small problems become big problems and you will be amazed at how much smoother and happier things will be in your life.
May God Bless You.  My writers – surfing time is over get back to work on your masterpiece!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Goal Oriented

What is it that makes some people goal oriented and others, not so much?
What is it that makes people want to work or do a job and not want to rely on others?
What is it that makes some people willing to put themselves in harm's way for ideals?
Is it the environment?  Is it genetics?  Is it something parents teach their children?  Is it the belief in being self reliant and believing in ideals that makes them willing to work or be a soldier?
I come from a military family that has had someone in the military in the United States or Great Britain for longer than anyone in the family can remember.  Is it because we were raised that way?  Is it hard wired into our DNA to believe in ideals and stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves?  Is it something in our environment that makes us willing to work at less than desirable positions for years on end just so we can take care of ourselves?  I justify my position in that I got to choose what job I took.  I'm not a slave and being forced to work at something or somewhere against my will.  I may be poor but I am free.  I'm as free as I can be in this world.
Why are some people so lazy?  How can you live with no goals or aim in life?  Expecting others to provide and take care of you?
I just don't understand it!  I cannot comprehend how some people can exist the way they do?
In trying to answer this and make some sense of it, I realized that when I was a soldier and even as an middle aged man who voraciously studies history, especially military history, that if there was I fight I wanted to be the kind of soldier that everybody else wants on their side or team.
As a worker I always asked myself, "If I was the boss, what would I want me doing right now?"  I would do the very best job I could do and if I ran out of work I would imagine that if ran the place what should I be doing.  I pretty much run a large portion of the place these days and have for many years as Operations Manager.
Do we do it for pride?  Do we do it because of what we want others to think about us?  
I used to think so, but as I have created my own second job at night as a writer, I do it because I enjoy doing what I am doing?  I think back to when I was a soldier and feel that I would have been just as good of a soldier even if the general public didn't agree with what we were ordered to defend, attack, or train for.  Many times society comes down hard on men and women in the military judging their actions by peaceful civilized society's standards totaling forgetting that what they have volunteered for is more than just being in the service.
It is for many being an active Christian and justifying the killing of other human beings.  Going into areas to fight, that is anything but civilized with no standards that would be recognized in a peaceful society.  Dealing with other human beings which are completely delusional and ill rational in their thought processes.  Believing that because of our faith and ideals that we are the barbarians and we must die and the people of their area must convert to their beliefs and submit or they must die.  I don't believe it's Pride that makes soldiers pick up a weapon, defend a wall, our provide freedom for a country that doesn't entirely support their actions in providing that very blanket of freedom in which they exist.
War is hell at best, some leeway should be given to those brave enough to wear the uniform, pick up a weapon and fight so the rest of may live in peace.  For those families who have sacrificed their children, their mothers and fathers, their spouses -  only those who have wore the uniform truly understand the gratitude, the sacrifice, and the true cost of freedom.  It's this understanding which can bring tears to a man's eyes at the sight of our flag or hearing the National Anthem.
I don't believe its pride that makes a person work every day and have plans and goals for their life and family.  I can't imagine living day to day without plans and goals for my future.  I can't comprehend having no direction, no job, and no purpose in life.
I do believe in company pride, (whether military or commercial enterprise) that makes people work harder, to do the best job they can do, to outperform other companies, groups, or platoons.  That's team building and leadership 101, instilling pride in people for the job that they do!
There is no grand lesson, point to be made, or summation to bring this all together and make sense of it in some fine literary fashion.  It is just me expressing my befuddlement, confusion, and wondering where the differences lay between me and some other groups of people.  I happened to be watching would I would term as vagrants when I started asking myself these questions.  Most people don't notice or purposefully ignore them.  I try and understand, what's the difference between us?  I am at a loss for an explanation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today's post is a hodgepodge of random stuff, thoughts, and what I am reading!
In the truest form of a muddle and mess, we will start with what I am reading.
Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business by Luke Williams.
This book is fascinating as it breaks down disruptive market ideas in to a process from observation, realization, and development.  Again it is another book about looking at things from different perspectives but it actually gives excellent quality examples of how to zoom in and observe things most people wouldn't even think about in regards to looking at something from a different perspective and in the end coming up with a completely new product that disrupts the age old model of that market.  i.e. like mopping a floor.

Tongues of Serpents  by Naomi Novik. 

It seems like just yesterday I started this adventure with Will Laurence and Temeraire.  I didn't know what to think at first.  It was like reading a history book of British, French, Chinese, and American interests during the Napoleonic period from a military persons perspective but in an alternate reality where dragons exist, talk and act with their Captains and flight crews like an Air Force would in that time period.  Well, Naomi Novik captured my interest with the first one and I keep coming back for more.  I am almost done with this book.
My reading has slowed considerably with undertaking writing, and now splitting what time I have with writing and an aggressive study of the English language it has slowed even more.  It really became apparent when I  noticed that Naomi's seventh book in the series comes out in the beginning of March and I already have Bernard Cornwell's newest sequel in the Saxon Series on my kindle that I haven't started it yet. 
Staying at home with the children.
My wife stayed at home when we had Hayden because what she made at the place she used to work wouldn't even cover the expense of child care at the cheapest place in town.  Now we have Hayden and Garth, with no more on the way, for sure.  So my wife decided she was going to get in shape and start working out and get back to her pre mommy shape if not better.  I have to commend her for her Herculean efforts in this regard.
1.  She gathered up all the friends she could muster who wanted to join a gym and then with a head count found a centrally located gym that wasn't connected to some corporate conglomeration where she proceeded to cut an extremely cut rate deal for a year's membership for her entire group!  Being Scottish and what normal people might call cheap, and I refer to as only being frugal, I thought this was fantastic.
2.  She has been actively going with a friend* of hers and is losing weight and getting into shape.
3.  Because she brings the boys with her and the gym has a child care area for children while the mothers work out, the guy running the gym asked her if she would consider bringing the boys and watching children in the gym from 9-12 a couple of days a week.  This would earn her minimum wage and pay for her membership in the gym!  Bless her heart she has managed to figure out how to not only get shape, provide her gym membership for free, but include a part time job to help out the family cause while watching the boys the entire time. 
Mommy is Wonder Woman.
No wonder I call her Wonder Woman!  Ok, we started that because with her dark hair and her old hair cut and very full figure she looked like the Wonder Woman character on the poster of the Super Heroes on Hayden's bedroom wall.  Hayden and Garth bought it hook line and sinker and so now mommy is Wonder Woman!
Breakfast  - the most important meal of the day.
Homemade Breakfast Biscuits – I mentioned that my wife has got me interested in some of Doctor Oz's television shows and because one of his shows convinced me I should eat breakfast every day.  Again I have to brag on my wonderful wife!
She took a package of biscuits and she puts half a biscuit in a cupcake pan, broken up cooked sausage, and scrambled eggs and pours it into the biscuit cup.  She bakes them and then each day I can heat up two of them, takes twenty-five seconds in the microwave and I have a delicious hot breakfast of biscuit, eggs and sausage to eat on the way to work.  Cheap, easy, delicious, and I am eating breakfast every day, which is supposed to jump start my metabolism and make my body burn calories more efficiently and give my body the jump start it needs when it needs it the most – right after waking up in the morning.  
Freinds and Great Friends.
In the part above I placed an asterisk by the word friend; you may or may not have noticed it.  We all have different friends!  Different people, different types of friends.
You have Acquaintances which I define (you may redefine any of these as you wish) as people you know but don't know.  You run into them in public, or church, where you work, or maybe they are somebody you met on-line and have gotten to know, share things with, helped each other, but you may have never actually met them.  You really don't know these people yet we do consider them as friends.
You have friends who maybe you socialize with but on a limited scale because of one reason or another you just don't mesh well enough to hang out in a closer relationship with.  This is generally because something they do you find offensive or is a turnoff to you. 
Some examples of this are or maybe . . .
The Hypochondriac – there is always something wrong with them.
The Leach – This comes in multiple forms.
            a.  They suck and take from you but give nothing back in any useful form.
            b.  They always want something for nothing and go to extremes to get it.
The Eeyore – Sad and depressed people that would make you unhappy to be in heaven with!
There are unfortunately many more types that could easily be added to our list and the multitude of variations of the types.
A great friendship is like a great marriage.  It requires work, some give and take, communication, and a deep genuine concern for the other persons well being, success and happiness.  From time to time you come across one of these kinds of friends.  My wives friend, who she is working out with almost every day, is a great friend.  I even commented to my wife about this.
A great friend is not only everything you expect a great friend to be but they make you want to be a better person than you are in a positive constructive manner.  They can help you get in shape, stop destructive behavior, give you a swift kick in the ass when you need it, and are there to lean on whenever you need them to be.  They don't judge you, your spouse or your children and realize that family is family and off limits.  Being around a great friend enriches every aspect of your life and helps you reach for the stars and believe you can accomplish your dreams no matter how big they are. 
Tribute to Wonder Woman.
I married my greatest friend in the entire world and it has made all the difference in the world in my life.  I feel extremely lucky to have some other great friends in my life.  If your life isn't going in the direction you want you may need to look at your friends and who you are spending time with.  Inversely nobody can love or like you until you can learn to love or like yourself.  So start by looking in the mirror, then your friends, and change your life if you're not happy with the direction it is going.  Tomorrow we will discuss the dangers of co-dependency!  Just kidding!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Post It Note Screen Saver APP

I have in my Bio that I should have been an Engineer.  I state this for numerous reasons:
1.  It probably most accurately describes me as the type of person I am.  I get ideas that just amaze, amuse and befuddle me at the most random times and places.  I generally always carry something to write on and a pen with me whereever I go.  Still have to work out a plan for taking notes in the shower – I've had more ideas born and lost with the hot water and suds because I couldn't remember them by the time I got out, dressed and ready to go.  Maybe a grease pencil would write on the tiles, but then I would be stuck cleaning the shower all the time.
2.  I'm great at spatial relations whether it is re-organizing the furniture in a room in my mind before I start physically moving the furniture, to solving puzzles involving shapes or conceptualizing 3D shapes of objects I might dream up to be designed.
3.  I once took a career pre-placement test in college and it came up with twenty-two types of engineering fields for career options.
4.  I can figure out how pieces of equipment fit and work together by looking at them.  I generally notice the subtle nuisances of a products design that were included for the purpose of a machine to utilize during the manufacture or post manufacture process of the product development.
These natural tendencies of mine cause me to appear as if I am staring at some uninteresting object as if I expect it to move or do something unexpected.  Generally it is just me turning it around in my mind and solving some question of curiosity as to why an element of it was made in that particular shape, or why a notch or groove was incorporated into the design.  I marvel at tons of little things every day that go virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world.
I in turn come up with tons of ideas every week for myriads of products or services that could be provided if only someone would develop this or that or change an element on an existing product.  Some ideas are silly and garbage, some are just downright funny.  Sometimes they are monstrous in their scope of design, implementation and final use and life cycle of the product, i.e. my vacuum airship ideas.
Today's inspiration comes from the fact that even with all the little note taking things for cell phones, pads, and computers, I still see Post It notes stuck to the side of computer monitors!
If a computer programmer or APP Designer made a program that you could quickly and easily make a note within and then your phone, pad or computer could display it as an icon or sorts on the side of the display so it is as if you had a Post It note on your device.  You would want to make the icon or note moveable so if it wasn't in a convenient spot the user could move it to an out of the way place on the screen.
I would even add an option to put not so important information but stuff you would like to see as reminders so that they pop up on your device as type of screen saver so when you get back to your device you see the notes.  I would use something like this for positive affirmations and for goals to remember to exercise, writing goals for the day, week, this month, and the year.  This could be used for shopping lists so you could add stuff to a revolving list as you think about them and then recall the list later when needed.  You could add to the screen saver list to stop by the store on the way home.
It was just a thought I had on the way to work while I was driving and listening to my kindle read a book to me.  I keep wondering if there is such a thing as sensory input overload.  I have only run into that when both my boys are asking repeatedly for different things while I am trying to listen to my wife explain something while one or both of us are cooking and trying to set the table for dinner.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Study of English II

I have expressed my failure to grasp rudimentary elements of the English language in previous posts.  I have also expressed how I have made it a new mission in my life to not only learn the terms and associations of words in regards to English so that I may not only become a better writer but to the degree I can argue aspects of English with professors and those who cannot read a piece of work with mistakes without developing a brain hemorrhage.

One of the books I am studying states that:

You must learn to express yourself in a plain, easy manner, in well chosen, significant and decent terms, and to give harmonious and pleasing turn to your periods; study to explain your thoughts . . .
Its formal cause therefore is such choice and disposition of words as will achieve this end most economically.

I agree and disagree with this statement! 

Every author has heard repeatedly to show, not tell.  To achieve our end economically!  This same book wasted (in my opinion) the first chapter explaining who gets excluded from using proper English! 

Sometimes an author has to be everything but economical.  I’m not talking about being extra wordy as much as I am talking about taking a less direct route to get to a point.  I don’t believe in making my books lappy.  Lappy is an old Vaudeville term they would use if you broke the routine down enough to basically lay it in the audiences lap.  I enjoy intelligent books that are not lappy.  I write the books I would love to read that haven’t been written yet.  I try to use characters and situations in my books that tell part of the story from one or more of the characters perspective.

The trick, or technique that I prefer to use is to get the reader to ask questions themselves.  I may or may not necessarily answer those questions at that point in the book.  I do try and make sure that I tie up almost all of the questions by the end of the book except for the major questions which may take two or three books of the series to adequately resolve all of the issues.
This of course is taking the risk that those who are skimming or speed reading may not get all the tidbits of information or have adequate time to form the questions that somebody reading the book normally would before being further along in the book.  Without the reader mentally connecting with the story and asking the obvious questions they may miss some of the major points of the book and be left with the feeling the story came up short, or left them wanting.  I am not writing young adult or children’s books, and I am not going to state the questions or make a big fan fare that this is the answer you have have been waiting for.  I am willing to take the risk that not everybody who reads my books is going to “Get It” or necessarily understand or grasp all that there is to be had.

I also don’t totally explain every aspect of everything presented.  I don't do this to be pompous, but rather that I anticipate that my readers are intelligent and educated to some degree.  It's alright if you don't understand everything you read in a story.  Take a break and check it out, whether it is a word, a fact, or a new concept; that's how we learn new things.  I do try and introduce some information that you normally wouldn’t run across.  Whether the information is true or a figment of my imagination I leave for the reader to decide.  In this age of information where you can look stuff up as easy as checking your e-mail, if the reader is curious they can check it out for themselves.  For the inquisitive reader they may be surprised by what’s real and what’s not.  I try and write intelligent books.  I’ve had more than one reviewer of “Whisper” say they didn’t understand the terminology but it made them feel like they were there and at sea with the crew.

When the author is shooting for mystery, intrigue, or suspense they may not use the most economic choice of words to convey their ideas, thoughts or images they are trying to impress upon the reader.  A good book should engage your senses, emotions and intelligence.  If somebody wants the story spilled out neatly in their lap they can watch television or a movie.  That’s why I don’t understand how these people who can read a 120,000 word novel in two days and enjoy it and honestly think they got everything out of the book it had to offer.  That would be reading 2,500 words every hour for 48 hours or 41.66 words every minute for two days.  These people should be watching movies and not reviewing books!

I feel as readers mature in the material they choose to read they gravitate for stories that connect to them on multiple levels in a subtle manner.  I truly hope that as I grow in skill and hone my craft and style that the stories I write will bother people with thoughts and questions as they read it and for a while after they have finished reading it.  I hope to get to where I can challenge peoples core preconceived notions of the world and reality, to challenge readers to validate or check out what I have written for themselves.  Economical, Bah Humbug!

One final word is directly out of the same book I am studying which I believe is the crux if the entire problem of studying English as opposed to science or mathematics.

“English is not static-neither in vocabulary nor in grammar, nor yet in that elusive quality called style.  The fashion in prose alternates between the ornate and the plain, the periodic and the colloquial.  Grammar and punctuation defy all the efforts of grammarians to force them into the mould of a permanent code of rules.  Old words drop out or change their meanings; new words are admitted.  What was stigmatised by purists of one generation as a corruption of the language may a few generations later be accepted as an enrichment, and what was then common currency may have become a pompous archaism or acquired a new significance.”

(If you have any problem with the spelling or punctuation of the following quote as it came out of a respected English text book, I double checked it three times with the book.  Especially the words Micro-softs Word underlined in red as if I miss spelled them!)

2 + 2 still equals 4 as it did for my great great grandfather and as much as it does today unless you are a creative accountant or former Enron Executive.

God Bless and keep writing!  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SEO Search Engine Optimization

The company I work for, Community Wholesale Tire, my day job, is having the people who created and put together the companies new and improved website come in and teach a class to our many fine Tire Dealers on Website Design and SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)
As I have been with the company for a long time I am going to get to attend the event for free as a representative of our company.  I have attended many classes in the past that have dealt with many aspects of tires, repair materials, and advertising but this will be the first class that will also directly be applicable to e-books and Independent Authors.
I have this blog and in most cases where you are signing up for some sort of representation, author interviews and author pages I always list my blog as my website.  If this class teaches me enough to build, create, or have my own website created that would be extremely useful.  The Search Engine Optimization is what first caught my eye because it would be immediately put to use when placing the Labels at the bottom of my blog posts, which is used to connect up with search words people might be using when surfing the web to pull up your site as a possible match.
The good news today is that what I learn in the class I plan on passing on through my blog posts to the Indie Authors who follow my blog to learn more about our new enterprise, which is being Independent Authors.  As I have stated before in previous posts, that being an Independent Author requires you to wear many different hats.  We have to learn how to do all the things required to write a great book, format it, develop the cover art, write the synopsis, download it the elements of the book in numerous areas to be sold, and finally market and sell our books ourselves.  The more you can do yourself, obviously the more Independent you actually are.
Editing and proofing can be purchased, art work can be purchased, and so can websites.  I am excited to find out if I will be able to create my own website or inexpensively pay to get one built for myself and promoting my books.  I also can't wait to learn as much as I can about SEO from some people that actually make their living from building websites.
The class is scheduled for the evening of March 22nd.  So after that date I will be doing some blog posts sharing what I have learned from the class with my friends and followers who are also aspiring authors or newly published Indie Authors.  Hopefully you follow along with the posts you find interesting but if not mark your calendars to return to this blog after March 22nd if you're interested in learning about website design and SEO.  I have seen classes and seminars on-line where you can purchase this kind of information.  Frankly I haven't had the extra money or time to worry about trying to pay to get a website.  Since an opportunity has arisen to get this education for FREE I can't see why I shouldn't take advantage of it.
Some might argue that once I learn this stuff I could in turn charge others for this information but I don't care to be in the teaching business.  I want to be in the book writing business!  I don't mind sharing information as I find it is helpful and in turn makes my blog posts more interesting.  I don’t consider other Authors as my competition!  I consider us in the same field of interest and where we can help each other I feel we should help fellow authors wherever possible.  I don't consider other Authors competition because each author is unique in their style of writing, in what they write, and how they tell a story.
People are going to try my books or they aren't!  Following that, these same people are going to like my books or they aren't.  If they don't like what or how I write they won't buy any more of my books.  If they do like them then they will wait in the wings until they I have published something new and then rush to get it.  I know this because that's how I am, and I read a lot!
Once or twice I year, I get forced to buy and read a book from a fabulous and awesome writer who I just hate reading, not because he isn't a great writer, but because of the crap he does to his characters and I don't like feeling sad and miserable ON PURPOSE!  That reminds me I need to do a blog post apologizing to this author for saying I hate him.  My wife and her best friend jumped all over me when I was upset about a particularly harsh review of my newest book and they both took this authors side in saying, "Think how he feels when he reads what you write about him!  Toughen up and take your dues.  You can dish it out but you can't take it."
This obviously didn't do anything to help my mood that evening.  It didn't seem to matter that I flatter this writer with praise about what a wonderful and more accomplished writer this author is than I am.  I would actually be honored and humbled to meet this author in person.  I will never enjoy reading his books unless he changes genre or the way he writes.  I don't expect him to change for me.  It is actually fine that I don't like his stories.  Everybody isn't going to like what you write.  Whether it's your blog or your book, somebody is going to hate it, no matter how talented you become!  So deal with it.  I will do a blog post apologizing to Mr. Nicholas Sparks one of these days when I honestly can think of anything to write about.  That day hasn't arrived yet!
God Bless and keep writing!  Mark your calendars to check back with us after March 22nd.

Friday, February 17, 2012

History Tidbit

Today in history, February 17, 1801, One of America's most favorite Presidents took office.  Thomas Jefferson was elected the third President of United States.  His election was the first transfer of power from one political party to another in our nation's history.
During his first term Jefferson Strengthened the American Navy, reduced the national debt by one third, acquired the Louisiana Territory, and sponsored the Lewis and Clark expedition.  His first term ended in relative stability and prosperity, allowing him to overwhelmingly be re-elected to a second term.
I could go on and on about Thomas Jefferson, especially in the areas of how he helped establish our great country, and served as President all the while believing that men should be allowed to govern themselves and that government intervention was inherently wrong and would always become corrupt.  He believed we as a country should revolt and keep our government in check on a regular basis, to keep it honest, small and effective.  The man was a genius on many levels!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Steampunk Where I Live

It dawned on me as to why Steampunk resonates with me as I have been looking at elements of art, gadgets, and gizmo's which are considered Steampunk.  What about it that attracts me to Steampunk is where I live.  I don't mean the geographical location, or my home in Independence, Missouri.  I mean where I spend most of my waking hours of every week, at work.  The building that I have worked in for many years is the old Montgomery Ward's Distribution Center for all points out west of Kansas City, Missouri.  Ward's shut down its operations there in 1979 and for many years the building sat vacant.  Located in Northeast Kansas City, a part of town that is considered in the 'Hood' these days.  The building was built in the very early 1900's before the future of electricity was figured out.  It was designed to be state of the art as far as technology for that time period, and was built to have electricity and pneumatic tube messaging throughout the building.  I think the only places I know of that is still using pneumatic tubes are banks in their drive through stalls.
The building was built over the top of two of the world's largest and still operational electric generators; only they generate DC power, not AC.  For those who are not familiar with the history of electrical power in the United States at the turn of the century (1800's to 1900's), there was a vicious battle raging as to which type of current would end up powering the United States.

There are two types of electrical power you can generate, DC or AC.  DC stands for Direct Current and is the type of power that batteries usually supply.  AC stands for Alternating Current and is the type of power produced from your local utility company and brought to your house or business by wires.  If your electrical device uses DC power and you plug it in there is usually a transformer somewhere in the plug assembly which converts the AC to DC.  Almost everything that needs plugged in to be recharged and has some sort of a battery associated with it uses DC power.  Household appliances, lighting, vacuum cleaners, and your welder runs off AC power. 

This building was designed and set up to run off DC power it generated on site!  All the internal wiring in the building is for the DC power circuits.  All the AC power lines, outlets, and light fixtures were added later when the building had to undergo a conversion to AC power because that's what won out when the war was over.

The short story is Tesla came to America with literally pennies in his pocket and his invention, inspired by a children's toy spinning top, an AC generator, tucked under his arm.  Arriving in New York where everybody came into the country from Europe in those days, he looked around and found Thomas Edison, Inventor extraordinaire, and was hired immediately.  Edison wasn't interested in Tesla's AC generator because Edison was pushing his DC powered inventions and believed that AC power was reckless and harmful.  The war for which would win out between DC and AC was already being waged and Edison was a General! 

After a short period Edison had quipped to Tesla that if he could build a device that did such and such that he would pay him a million dollars.  What Edison didn't know was that the future supreme general of the other camp was in his employ or that Tesla was a man who was way ahead of his time.  Tesla built what Edison had asked for in short order and fully expected to be paid a million dollars for it.  Edison was floored, amazed and flabbergasted but couldn't pay Tesla a million dollars.  Tesla got pissed and left New York.  The other major player at the time was a man by the name of George Westinghouse, Edison's arch rival.  Westinghouse was working on an AC generator but was having problems with it. 

When Tesla joined Westinghouse he came with a working AC generator only it used different frequencies, the same ones we use today.  Equipment is newer but the base technology we have for generating electrical AC power is the same system Tesla designed and built all those years ago.  Later Edison would create General Electric and compete directly with Westinghouse.   For those that are interested you can read about Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse and their battle known as the Current Wars.

Back to my original point, this building I spend most of my waking hours walking around inside a large part of is like living and working in a Steampunk environment.  I am privileged because of my position and having been here for nearly twenty years to have seen other parts of the building rarely seen by others, like the room with the giant DC generators in it.  There are huge metal wheels that almost touch the extra high ceiling with the axle attached just above the floor and wheels going down threw slotted holes in the concrete floor.

There are parts of this building where it is just like stepping back in time.  All the equipment is still here, the power equipment, electrical components in glass vacuum tubes, wooden handled switches with brass contacts bigger than your fingers, giant hinged metal switches with wooden handles.  Any of this stuff could be the back drop for part of Frankenstein's laboratory.  This stuff wasn't built to be pretty it was built to work and last.   
  My world is conjoined to the past by my surroundings on a daily basis.  This is why the Steampunk stuff resonates so strongly with me, it reminds me of home.

As far as the fashion parts of it, what heterosexual male doesn't appreciate seeing a woman in a corset?  I would welcome that aspect of fashion and woman dressing like ladies of older times any day!
One final note on the brilliance of Nikola Tesla, he once brought out one of his electrical generators in a city that had just installed electric lights but had not connected them with the power lines yet.  Tesla was able to light 22 miles of electrical lights with no wires!     

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ConvertingYour Library to Digital

I love books!

I love all kinds of books.  Paperbacks, hard covers, the thin card stock cover children’s books.  I love the old serial books of Doc Savage, The Shadow, and at one point I owned every one of Don Pendleton’s The Executioner Series from one through seventy something.  I love old musty, dusty books that have long been forgotten by other book lovers from ages ago.  I enjoy reading books of all types and the most precious moments with my two young boys are when they bring me a book as say, “Read this?”  Especially in a day in age in which most kids would rather play with toys, watch mindless television, or play video games, my boys will both sit on my lap while I very animatedly read various books, passing on the magic and wonderment that is reading and enjoying a good story to my children.

I knew when I first a Kindle’s for the first time that someday I would own one.  I have one of the original first models and I treat it like it were a fragile relic.  I have grown to love my kindle as much as I do books.  I honestly didn’t think I would get that attached to it.  I split my time between it reading to me while I work on other things, folding clothes, and driving to and from work.  It dawned on me that I really don’t need my six book cases which have moved twice with me over the years and are in dire need of repair.  Like many book lovers my book cases are over flowing with many shelves containing two rows of books with one row in front of another.  My wife of nine years went to move one of them this year and freaked out when she realized many of the shelves were double stacked.

From time to time I run across a book I cannot get on my Kindle so I am forced to buy a traditional bound copy of it.  It was then then I realized I had forgotten that books are heavier than my kindle, much bulkier, I have to mark my place when I stop, I have to hold it open, and I have to continually turn the page.  The Kindles text-to-speech feature can be used with the sound turned down and it reads and turns the page automatically, the trick is finding the font size which controls the speed at which it reads that most closely matches the speed at which you read.  How lazy is that, that if I actually have to read the book it turns the pages for me.  Most books I just listen to, it is much faster and I can work on something else while enjoying a good book.  When I have to read real books I realize how much more convenient my Kindle actually is.

Then it dawned on me that this new literary travel companion of mine could (a newer model) hold my entire library except for the books you can’t get on Kindle and the few rare books that are very near and dear to my heart.  I took my lap top downstairs one evening and sat in front of my book shelf and added books that I have read to my collection on Goodreads dot com.  It was then that I realized the special books would barely take up part of one book shelf.  The rest I could get rid of.  I am not the only person doing this either.  I ran across a discussion board on Goodreads where they were discussing what everyone is doing with their old books to get rid of them.

Thankfully book lovers are not the kind of people to throw away or burn books.  People are taking them to second hand book stores and selling them to use the money to repurchase the digital copies to put on their e-readers.  Some people are just giving the books to friends.  They have an entire area devoted to book swapping on Goodreads.  Doesn’t help create space but gets rid of your old books in place of new books to read.  Some people are donating them to library’s, schools, and even prisons.  I know one person who gave her books to a battered woman’s home.

The amazing thing is that you can have your entire library backed up on your computer, and available to read on your computer, phone or e-reader.  The Kindle app keeps track of where you were when you left off reading one device and picked up again on another device.  As far as research for projects or in my case writing, it is so handy to be able to pull up a book and consult a piece of reference material and never get up from my computer.  I can have my notes up, my story I am working on, spread sheets and several reference books all at the same time.  I recently was given a monitor that a friend of mine didn’t need any more and bought a USB cable to plug the monitor into my lap top so I can have multiple screens up at once.

Writers!!  This is so handy when editing, because you can have the corrected work from your editor on one screen while the work your correcting is on the other screen and just look back and forth.  Before I had to shrink everything down and split my regular screen in order to keep from toggling back and forth.

  The e-book market is out of it’s infancy stage and tottling around in it’s rug rat stage.  It is about to enter the grade school phase and grow and change in ways we can’t even imagine right now.  I see many and exciting new trends and variations of books and reading related opportunities coming soon to your e-reader, pads, phones and computers.  In the immortal words of Jolson and Mae West, “You ain’t seen nothin yet!”

For those that are curious I see in my crystal ball children’s books that have animated art work or pictures instead of just illustrated.  Interactive children’s books for teaching that’s fun.  Story books with multiple endings where the decisions you make while reading changes the story. (They have these now, I just see them being much more involved, multiple authors and artists working in collaborative groups to turn out whole series of books with multiple plot lines and endings with art work or small video clips embedded through out the books.)

I see informational books encyclopedias, dictionaries, and references books being interactive with video, sound, intermixed with the reference material.  A book on Kennedy or Martin Luther King would have picture and film bytes with sound embedded in the books.

I see video games and books being intermixed to get kids to play the games but they will have to read bits in between to help get through or to the higher levels slowly and without their knowledge getting them to read.  I see adult novels with moving pictures, interactive elements mixed through the books, possibly video clips to show certain elements described in the novel.

Don’t get me started on the advertising ideas for the future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Experience Built From Mistakes

When I started writing almost everyday in 2010 and realized I wanted to actually attempt to write a book from start to finish I made several mistakes.

I am a big fan of James Rollins because he is one of the first authors I discovered early in their careers and had read each of their books.  I remember his first books vividly because they were outside of the box, they took me somewhere new, taught me something, and were good books.  Through following his new releases I saw his writing change and mature as he grew as an author.  I wanted to write books like his but with my stories and ideas.

I remember thinking that my first book would always be my worst book!  I looked over the files, the bits and pieces of stories I had started over the last ten years while kicking the tires of writing.  I weighed my options and decided on “Whisper” for two main reasons.  One was the first five chapters had actually been written over sporadic periods from 2002 to 2010.  The second reason was because it was the weakest story in my arsenal.  I realized Whisper was to be the last of Wiley Randolph’s missions and how that might be confusing but only if I actually finished it, published it, and ended up writing subsequent novels and publishing them also.  That seemed so far fetched in March of 2010 that I didn’t give it a second thought and picked up where I had left off with this story and started plodding away at finishing a book.

Now looking back it was a mistake in several ways.  If I had to start all over I would have written Wiley’s first mission first.  When I got around to writing ‘Whisper’ I would have rewritten the first five chapters, it’s slow to start and hard to get into.  Readers are giving me a lot of latitude by reading past chapter five to get into the story not to mention looking past the grammatical errors and English deficiencies.  That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20.

That being said I also have to state I have no regrets.  If I had never written ‘Whisper’ I would have never written a love story.  What was to be Wiley’s last mission is now the start of something I would never have tried so early in my writing career.  A recent bashing of the English and Grammar of second novel has forced me to undertake the equivalency of going back to school – to study English.  This has hampered my writing schedule and caused some second thoughts about my writing.  We are all human and have insecurities from time to time.  Part of being persistent and self-motivating is finding the little things to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

“Nielsen says the average book published in the United States sells fewer than 250 copies a year and fewer than 3,000 overall. Of the 1.2 million titles Nielsen tracked in 2004 (publishing’s heyday), 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies; only 25,000 sold more than 5,000.

This sentence was removed from a back and forth session on Writer’s Digest were experts went back and forth on the top ten rules about writing that we have all  heard about.

‘Whisper’ was the weakest story in my arsenal of stories I plan to write.  The weakest of over thirty developed full length novels I could write over the next fifteen or more years.

950,000 books sold fewer than 99 copies, that’s 79 percent of the books tracked that year!

The average book sells fewer than 250 copies a year and fewer than 3,000 overall.  It’s too early to figure the overall part.

I published “Whisper” at the end of January 2011, so it has been out for just over one year.  To date I have sold 619 copies of my worst book ever with crappy artwork drawn with a mouse in Microsoft Paint Brush, and full of errors, bad English and all.  I’ve beat the averages or at least I’ve beat over 79 percent of them based off numbers from 2004.

I am not bragging I am just dusting myself off and feeling a little better about reading English textbooks instead of writing which is a big part of what makes me happy.

Can Traditional Publishing be Saved?

One of the blogs I follow is by Rachelle Gardner, and her latest blog I wanted to comment upon.
To make it easier I copied some pieces from her post of February 12th.
Do you know what business you are in?
What the Publishing Industry Can Learn From Kodak
1. We need to correctly identify the business we’re in.
Publishers, agents and authors need to start from this very important truth: We are not in the “book” business. We are in the business of storytelling. This encompasses entertainment, information, ideas, creativity, inspiration, and intellectual exploration. It also comprises a social element—the relationship between reader and writer. We are in the business of fostering this relationship.
2. We can’t be afraid of cannibalizing our own businesses in the short run to make progress in the long run.
Publishers are steeped in the “printed book business” and may be reluctant to step out and aggressively market digital products that will detract from their print business. But they must, if they are to innovate and stay ahead of the curve (or at least on it) rather than fall so far behind that they can’t recover.
3. We should find new ways to generate revenue while serving consumers’ wants and needs.
We’re in a tug-of-war as consumers become less willing to plunk down fifteen bucks for a reading experience when so much is available free or very cheap.

We need to be asking ourselves, “What’s valuable to a reader? What are they willing to pay for? What are they NOT willing to pay for? What do they want that they’re not getting, and how can we figure out a way to provide it (for a price)?”

Please go and read her wonderful Blog Post for yourself.  
So the following are my thoughts and comments after reading her brilliant post!
First off, she is dead on target with her analysis of the situation and her comparison with the Kodak company is inspired.  We are in the business of fostering the relationship between the reader and the writer.
But from the perspective of the writer . . .
I have written two books, did the art work, self-published them, and I am haphazardly self-promoting them.  I have a day job!  I am making a living!  My success as a writer is basically for my own vanity at this point.  If my books sell, that's awesome.  If I get to the point where I make enough money from selling books to stay home and write full time, all the better.  If I have to keep my day job until I naturally retire and am writing books the entire time – it doesn't matter.  Publishing companies don't have this same luxury! 
You see this question asked all the time in forums and discussions about writing.  Is Self-Publishing the best way to go?  The reason there is so much discussion on this is because there are so many facets to the correct answer that it's a hard question to answer.  Every case is different.
1.  Do you have talent?  Translated into business terms – Is anybody going to buy your work?
2.  Do you have an audience, a following of readers who enjoy your work and are biting at the bit for the next sequel in your series?
3.  Can you do your own art work?
4.  Can you do your own editing?  Proofing?
5.  Do you have an advertising budget?  Can you promote the work?  Can you promote it enough until you get discovered by enough people to make a difference?
If your answer to these questions is, Yes, then self publishing may be your best bet.
Even if your answers are No, you can still self-publish!
Art work can be bought, so can editing, and proofing.  There are many home based businesses popping up to fill these niches for the aspiring authors at very competitive prices.  So your books can become better and more professional as you have more money to invest in the areas you cannot do all by yourself.
My books are not great!  The English needs help!  The artwork can definitely be better and more attractive!  In time I will be able to use the profits from the books I am selling to pay for more professional help.  I also am undertaking becoming as knowledgeable about the English language as I can make myself.  I have purchased a bamboo drawing tablet and learning to transfer my drawing and painting skills to the digital age.  If my books do not sell enough to purchase more professional help I am taking the steps now to make my future books better.
All the while I will hopefully be fostering the relationships with my readers and fellow authors.
One Truth that must be expressed is that Writers and Readers will always exist!  The same cannot be accurately stated for the literary agent and the publisher.  I pray to God that real bound paper books remain a part of the human experience for thousands of years, but that may not be the case.  Because of the decline of this aspect of our culture and the changes being made in schools where cursive handwriting will not be taught to future generations.  I wonder what will happen when the some catastrophic event interrupts society and the lights go out.  If we lose the means of charging our phones, pads, no power for the computers, then what?   No books, and nobody knows how to write without a keyboard!  How long until we are back in the dark ages?
As to her second point about publishers cannibalizing their own business.  What if they took it a step further than just promoting and producing e-books in competition with the printed books?  They have the professional skills in house to help the aspiring authors move from the mediocre to being great! 
If I was a mid- to upper level manager at a large publishing house I would be hiring artists, proofers, editors, and people who know how to expertly format the different variations of e-books!  I would be taking on as many new clients as I could sign up and redesign the publishing industry from the inside out.
I would hire home based book reviewers who are currently reviewing books on their own blogs to send me the contact info on anything they feel is promising, new, and great!  When a reviewer finds a book they feel is great I would arrange to send it to three or four more reviewers of the same genre and see what the overall feeling is after it has been checked out by the reviewers I had learned to trust and value.  The extra exposure wouldn't hurt the authors.
Then reap the harvest!  I would contact every writer I could through agents and see where they need help, figure the lowest cost means of providing what they need and get their books polished and re-released as e-books with some cheap but effective marketing, new distribution channels on-line (even if I had to invent the new distribution channels).  The author would not get an upfront royalty payment as in traditional publishing as this would not be traditional publishing.  They would get a more professional looking book, associated with the name of a publisher, get an agent, and pay for the services rendered out of a percentage of the book sales. 
If the book doesn't sell a lot, it would be no different than if the writer had done it on their own except the publisher and agent are still in the game.  If the book has medium sales the publisher will hopefully get to work with the writer on upcoming books and they would grow together.  If the book has enough sales to break a preset margin then the publisher would have the agent offer a more traditional book deal for a re-release as a paperback or hard cover book.  WIN – WIN.  It would help the writers, the integrity of the English language and publishing industry as a whole.
As to Rachelle's third point, the different revenue streams could be the new direct on-line book stores which publishing companies erect or partnerships with traditional bookstores for the distribution of the e-books and traditional books.  If somebody doesn't cut Amazon off at the knees they will be the only bookstore available in ten to twenty years.  To do that you would have to have control of the distribution of the e-books.  Writers need to sign with a publisher to be exclusive in return for the cut rate services provided to make their books more professional.  Control the distribution and the readers will follow the authors!  A move has to be taken in the e-book community to eliminate free e-books and raise the prices to a respectable level that can sustain publishers, agents and authors.  I can't think of any market system where giving the product away helps sustain the market.
When readers can get more stuff than they can possibly read in a year in moments for free why would they buy books?  Until this mess gets straightened out the level of professional books will go down, the prices will fall and the readers win all the way around.  Never before in history has reading material been so easy to get, as readily and cheaply as we can today.  I would like to think that reading as a whole would be on the rise as a result this explosion of literary material but I seriously doubt that reading is on the rise. 
There was a boom in knowledge and technology not long after printing presses were invented and books became somewhat affordable and readily available.  I would like to believe that in the next thirty years we should see astounding new developments from shared knowledge, understanding, and technology from the result of the increase of information available to inquiring minds who want to learn.

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