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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shoes that hurt your feet


My wife made a thing to stick her makeup onto that sits on the bathroom counter.  The back of if is a metal sign or picture thing with a frame around it.  Then she glued magnets to the different containers of makeup so they will just stick to the picture backing thing.  The picture on hers is an exaggerated pair of red high heel shoes.  Well, if the shoes are not exaggerated they would be the most uncomfortable shoes in the whole world, was my initial thought when I was looking at this one day.


Time passed and I get a chance to see this picture every time I visit the restroom.  It dawned on me that women wear uncomfortable shoes in the trade off that the shoes make them look hot.  I arrogantly thought that men wouldn’t wear uncomfortable shoes for how they made us look.  Later it dawned on me that we are dumber still.  We wear uncomfortable shoes that hurt our feet because we are told to, so we will all match, so we all at least have a pair of boots.


More frozen, rotted, blistered, and tortured feet have come out these boots than have ever came out of a set of high heeled shoes.  I remembered marching with socks hanging out the back of our packs so they could dry out so we could wear them again later in order to help our feet.  (You never see that in the war movies.)  I remember getting blisters, and sores on my feet not to mention having to powder the boots heavily to cure the raging case of athletes foot I had which was eating the areas between my toes.  You probably don’t get that problem with open toed pumps.   High heeled shoes can’t be worn everywhere, yet that was the idea behind the combat boot was a boot you could wear anywhere anytime.


There are variations of boots as there are with high heeled shoes, the ones with the heavy capped toe area, commonly referred to as jump boots, because that’s what the paratroopers supposedly wore.  The ones I wore had three straps one across the toe area you never adjusted, one across the ankle area you would undo, and a long strap which wound around the boot.  Tankers generally would hang out in their tanks in their socks or with a clean pair of boots which were kept in the tank.  The dirty muddy boots where stuck into the metal rail that ran across the top edge of the turret.  Just like the floors in the Army barracks you would never desecrate them with mud unless maybe you were in actual combat.

It seemed silly at first until the first time you had to scrub out the inside of a tank from the bottom of the battery boxes to the ceiling, cleaning every single nook and cranny until you felt confident enough to eat off any surface in the tank.  Not that you ever would, because I am sure just about every every tank in the U.S. Army has been shit in at least once.

That is by far the worst practical joke to ever be perpetrated in the service.  Because when someone sneaks into your tank and shits on the floor in over 90 degree weather and then closes the hatches to let it melt and fester until the tank crew finds it later.  If you have ever had to clean up a mess like that you would never do something like that.  Unless you found out who did it to you and it was a moral imperative to get pay pack.  Not that any horse play like that would ever go on in our Army!  Never.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Brave Soul In Italy


As anybody who is published on Amazon knows, last year they added four new markets in Europe.  Amazon DE for Germany, FR for France, ES for Spain, and IT for Italy.  Since they added these new markets I have mentioned them numerous times in past posts and for a while last year I even held a contest to see if France or Germany would be the first to purchase one of my books.
Yesterday some BRAVE soul in Italy purchased a copy of my second Sci-Fi Novel, “No Rules Of Engagement.”  I have done numerous post about it, the inspiration behind it, some of the characters in the book.  I wish I knew who purchased it because I would write a blog post dedicated to that brave individual.  I am over joyed that somewhere in that wonderful country somebody will be reading my book on their Kindle.  Hopefully they love it as much as I do, and so many other wonderful readers who enjoy hard core Military Action Adventure Science Fiction books.  The reviews on the book remind me of drinking buttermilk or Scotch, people either love it or they hate it.  Frankly, several of the people who hated it were under the impression they were reading a Young Adult book, so it probably caught them off guard.
IT IS NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK.  It is very much an ADULT BOOK, but not so much you need warnings for excessive warning labels.
Long Story Short – I sold a book on Amazon IT!  Italy WINS!!
In the grander scheme of things it is selling the initial books in any new market that is the key to getting discovered.  Readers talk with other readers.  Word of mouth is still the mainstay form of advertising for authors.  Granted you can sell a lot of books if you’re a celebrity, or write a book on some new fad or the current hysteria the media is promoting.  You can spend a fortune in advertising but then you have to make that money back in the form of Royalties before you begin to show a profit.  For Indie Authors, our path to fame and fortune will be writing excellent books, allowing time for them to spread around and good old fashion word of mouth.
Trust me when I say somebody will be talking about my book in Italy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cussing and Swearing


I happen to cuss and swear every now again.  I hope I still have some blog followers after using the C word in my last blog.  I try daily to not cuss and to watch my mouth, especially around my boys. 

The place I work is entirely, at our location, crewed by men.  We have had numerous woman employees in the past who have held positions from office staff, order entry positions and several women who worked in the warehouse moving tires.  For the last couple of years we have had a hard time even finding men who want to really work.  The work has gotten harder and the pay has not increased at what would be considered a fair exchange to the increase in work and responsibility.  We have had to be much more selective with what few positions we have had openings for. 

Because of this hard assed testosterone overflowing environment, only the strongest of men survive.  If you are lazy, weak, thin skinned, or have a big mouth you can’t back up, you will not last long here.  We love attitude, if you can back it up!  It is because this place is the way it is that when I get agitated, upset, pissed off, that I run off at the mouth.  I can cuss bad enough to make a sailor blush.  I am not proud of it.  I am just stating a fact. 

As an author I have already sold out to public opinion and edited the majority of the cussing out of my books.  They are not cuss free but then neither is the world we live in.  I could write a book up holding nice Christian moral values with no cussing whatsoever, but how realistic would that be?  Not very.  I honestly feel the world is a lot crueler, darker and uglier place than I portray in my novels.  As an author though, we deal in words.  Our lives get to where we evaluate exactly how we word everything, how we describe stuff, the feelings we invoke with the words we use. 

Just as Guns don’t kill people, people kill people with guns!  Words are not bad, it is what people do with the words, the context they are used in, what is being said, that is bad!  This as with the guns is another reflection of our humanity, or our inhumanity to our fellow man.  So I have trouble attaching the same negative connotations and feelings to mere words, but rather what or how the words are being used.  Indiana Jones was a really PG character but I don’t think anyone could blame him when he gets caught in the middle of the rope bridge with a sword and bad guys closing in on both sides when he says “SHIT”. 

I am not such a PG type of guy.  The characters in my books are a bit more true to life than that.  As far as my humanity, I am American with strong Scottish roots.  My father was born in Scotland.  In the not too distant past my people were considered the European version of savages.  What most people aren’t aware of is that savage as the Scottish people are we are also and always have been very industrious and intelligent.  Just as in the movie Brave Heart with Mel Gibson, my father taught me to use my mind first and if that didn’t work then kick their ass.  As with a large part of Society in the world today, my social skills haven’t caught up with my other attributes yet. 

The F word started off in Europe and is an acronym for “Fortification Under Command of the King.”  These later became known as FUCK Proclamations, which everybody knew what it meant you were supposed to do for the benefit of the kingdom.  They needed to reproduce when yearly wars or battles with other countries would wipe out several hundred thousand men a year.  Their populations couldn't withstand prolonged campaigns and still maintain enough population to do the work and man the country.  It was years later when the Bible was taken out of the hands of the Roman Catholic Church and everyday people could read it for themselves that religion started splintering off into different sects and denominations.  Through this era of religious growth and dissemination public attitude turned on this word and other words which were considered “Not Appropriate.” 

Let’s be honest.  If the words were really wrong and bad, how is it they have lasted throughout the ages and survived to still be used to the utter horror of our society.  Used in public or in literature they still stir up scorn and disapproval, yet they remain!  They remain because they are just words that accurately portray part of our human condition.  There are situations that they accurately describe without equal.  These words demand the respect they deserve and only they can garner through their lowly status in our society.  Sometimes one or more of these words used in the correct situation have exactly the perfect effect.  I don’t mean to offend, but if you have read this far then seeing one or two examples of what I am writing about will completely make my case.  I do not endorse the use of cussing by children, but as with everything else in our world among adults if used properly and not breaking the law, then anything goes. 

Example One :  A woman holding a 40 caliber slim semi-automatic pistol at a man attempting to rape another woman.  She activates the slide of the weapon to chamber a round into the weapon as she states, “Freeze Mother Fucker!” 

Example Two : Even after years of faithful marriage to the same person sometimes you just don’t feel like making love.  I don’t care what I am doing if my wife leans over and says, “You want to just go fuck?”  I am there, no more communication needed beyond that. 

Example Three : When you step in a streaming pile of shit while wearing your favorite boots or shoes.  You know the only way you’re keeping those shoes is to clean them off and you’re going to have to do it.  You don’t want to wear them in the car, or into the house.  You proclaim, “Ahh  Shit!”  I’ll lay odds that’s where that one has its origins from. 

Class or rant dismissed.  I’ll try and clean it up and keep it clean, my mouth and my writing.  Words aren’t bad – they are just words.  Because from time to time I cuss or swear doesn’t mean I am a bad person.  Judge me for me; judge my writing by the content.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Comments, The Middle Finger, Thumping People


If you are a follower of my blog, you know I manage a Tire Wholesale Operation in the middle of the United States of America.  You probably read about my new chair and the comment somebody made to me about the chair.  I have been asked, “What did you say to the person who made the comment?” 

Nothing!  I just smiled as I continued to push the old one out of the office. 

I am not the typical manager, if there is even such an animal.  Managing and leadership are two completely different animals with different characteristics.  Sometimes they exist simultaneously which is good for the company and better for the employees.  Just as in good books and stuff you could consider using for toilet paper if the need arose, people can tell the difference no matter how hard it is to explain.  If it was easy there wouldn’t be so many books about how to do it right, and every book would be great and every manager would be a natural leader.  Alas, not all people and books are equal! 

Being a leader and a great author can both be learned though some can come by either of them naturally.  I know I am a much better leader and manager than I used to be and I am getting better as a writer with every chapter I finish and book I read by other authors.  I know what questions about style I have and then see what method my favorite authors use in their books.  I also pay attention to my feelings while I am reading and when I read something that changes the way I feel, causes anxiety, causes me to be curious, I back up and re-read it to see how the author created the situation. 

There are a few of my fellow employees that have been here long enough with me that they know they can freely flip me off, give me the middle finger and I will just smile about it.  I sometimes say, “Thank you, it’s nice to be noticed.”  This may sound strange and completely disrespectful, but it isn’t, it tends to have the opposite effect entirely.  I don’t think I am disrespected in the slightest by my crew, ever.  I remember some of the old jokes and think “Oh, that person thinks I am number one, or they are trying to show off by showing me their IQ.”  Either way, getting flipped off doesn’t piss me off in the slightest, not even on the road when someone is in such a hurry and I seem to be obstructing the path to being a considerate driver.  Hell if this was NASCAR what was I doing in front of you in the first place, I’m not even racing! 

Just like its common practice around here to slap someone up alongside the back of their head like they do on that show with Mark Harmon, but we been doing it for years.  I think they might have stolen that from us here.  Routinely someone will come by and call me a bitch under their breath and I’ll reply, “I prefer Cunt, thank you.”  Strictly because you can’t say that word anywhere else in society without getting in trouble for it, except on your own blog or where I work.  At the Kansas City branch of where I work there are no woman or else we wouldn’t have degraded to such a base manly cave like fashion with our day to day dealings with each other.  The woman’s restroom is the only one that isn’t completely trashed and looks like some scene out of a bad zombie movie.   The woman's restroom remains locked, and is strictly used by the General Manager and me as a Quasi Executive restroom slash store room. 

The freedoms I allow the guys, they enjoy.  Seriously, where do you know of that you can flip off the second in command of the place, a twenty year veteran of the company without fear of reprisal.  Probably only here!  They will miss me when I am gone. 

Speaking of being gone.  As life does nothing but roll by faster and faster as we age, I know the day will come when I will leave this fine company.  I look back to my days in the Army and if I knew the last time I was getting off a tank was going to be my last time of getting off a tank I would have savored the moment a bit more than I did.  I was young and na├»ve back then, I didn’t have a clue that in time I would cherish my memories of my time in the service.  I savor each and every day I have here, for I know one of them will be my last.  As my book sales slowly increase from month to month and with each chapter I write of each successive book to be published I know the time between now and leaving will be shorter than if I wasn’t an author.  No matter what you’re doing right now if you’re enjoying it or not, savor the moment.  The past is in the past, the future is not guaranteed or here yet, all we get are the moments!  Savor every one of them. 

Be a leader!  No matter what your position is in the place.  Make every moment count, and do everything, especially the little stuff, like it is the most important thing you had to ever do.  Treat each person you encounter as if they were the only reason you got out of bed today was to see them, share with them, and have that experience! 

May God Bless You!!  Have a Great Day.

Readers, I am working on the sequels, I don’t get impatient with my favorite authors anymore, now that I know what is involved in creating a book.

Writers, keep on writing, editing, the readers of the world are waiting and depending on you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A really weird place.

As you get older your life sometimes revisits past times, places, events, memories resurface, reconnect with old friends you seldom see, and you see or read something that touches you so deeply it scratches your soul, and leaves a lasting impression. At times when these events occur you can see the interconnectedness of people, people who haven’t met, but have shared experiences and feelings.

When something done years ago resurfaces as a memory, it ties you to things you’re doing now, what you’re reading, who you are seeing. I grew up in northern Idaho, out in the woods and went to school at Athol Elementary, started in the first grade, the same year I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out. My first memories are of this place and time with only fragments of memories of living in California before that. My book clubs book this month was Frank Peretti’s “Illusion”, the first book of his I’ve ever read, and part of the book takes place where I grew up, it even mentions Athol, Idaho in the book.

Last week while reading this book my youngest son Garth had his second set of tubes put in his ears and his adenoids reduced at age two, much younger than I was, but it still stirred memories, and along with reading this book which also stirred memories and emotions. The Book Club ladies are who got me writing on a regular basis which led me to writing my first book, which led me to starting a Blog, to make connections with other aspiring writers and potentially get noticed so people may try my books.

In just a matter of days around the beginning of July I will have been in my current employment twenty years, a milestone. The guy who hired me all those years ago is still a close personal friend of mine, and so is his wife. His wife has been battling cancer for over a year now, she won a few battles but its back and they found out last Tuesday it has entered her brain. My family and I traveled a bit north this weekend to visit my friends, it was great but it was hard in ways I can’t begin to explain. This is the man that gave me chance to have a stable job for all these years. The guy who took a chance on me. I still vividly remember sitting in the interview with him thinking “I hope I get this job even if it is only in the warehouse, within six months I can find something better, I just really need a job right now.” I had a baby girl at home, a wife and a thirty year mortgage, not to mention just getting by.

This job which didn’t allow me to further my education but which had a library down the street did get me into reading, reading a lot! I thought many times that if couldn’t go to school that it didn’t mean I couldn’t further my education on my own, so I read any and everything. Through the following years and through the urging of the book club ladies I am now not just still employed at the same place but I am a published author. I have found my passion. Along the way I got divorced and re-married to Wonder Woman, and have two small boys from that heavenly union, more Passion!! To see my friend and knowing that a major part of his passion is about to lose the war and pass on to my heavenly fathers care and leave my friend behind, is bitter sweet to say the least.

Reading Frank Peretti’s book, a spiritual book, about multiple time lines, about love lost and found, about faith in our heavenly father. Well my day, the last week, this month has been timelines and memories crashing together, happy and sad, illuminating and shadowy, pressing forward with my books, writing, re-editing, my emotions and feelings are off the scale. As the title of the post relates, it has just left me in a really weird place. Hopeful, yet depressed, happy yet melancholy, busy but with reason and respect for the more important aspects of life and living. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone, but this is why I haven’t posted in anything in a couple of days, and even as I prepare this for my blog I am not sure where or how solidly both my feet are planted. My faith in God is renewed, as is the love of my wife and family. My book in progress is awesome and I can’t wait to get back to it, yet tonight is book club, so no writing. My editing, stalled until tomorrow or the next day, work on the sequel or editing “Whisper” some more? In the overall scheme of things and life it is a small inconsequential choice, I’ll make tomorrow.

 If you have never heard of Frank E. Peretti, or read any of his books, I highly recommend “Illusion”; I gave it five stars on Amazon with a written review, and on Goodreads dot com. I touched me along with a lot of other stuff all in a short span of time, all intermingled, all connected, all related, all my life.

May God Bless you! If you have never experienced what I am talking about I pray you do for it grounds you, focuses you, strengthens your faith, and gently and lovingly pushes you onward.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My book is in Prison!

Many authors can post about their book being published. I did a post where my book made it into a library because of a connection I made with a High School Librarian who gets to purchase books for their school library. Today I was informed by one of my readers that a copy of my first book is on its way to Prisoner in a Correctional Facility in Clark County, Las Vegas.

A fan, reader, and Good Friend of mine, manages fighters for cage fighting. He ran across a guy who he would like to sign up to fight for his team as soon as the guy gets out of prison. My friend found him on Twitter where the gentleman in prison writes to somebody outside who is blogging about his experience while he is in jail. The guy in Prison who is on twitter not only goes by the name War Machine, he has legally changed his name to War Machine. I’ve read part of his blog posts, very explicit, not for all audiences. Adults Only! He mentioned in his blog that he was out of books so my friend the fighter manager, sent him a copy of my first book.

I am following him on twitter and told him I would send him a copy of my second book, which I will sign for him. Hell, it’s not every author that can boast about their work being in a prison. Plus if any of you have read my books they would make the perfect short term escape from reality, especially if that reality is a solitary confinement cell. If anybody is interested in following War Machine you can find him at @WarMachine170 on twitter, in reality he is in solitary confinement in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My New Chair

Yesterday I received a new office chair. The black, high backed, very cushioned executive model many people probably wish to get and to get to sit in for years. Let me preface this with a few facts. This July will mark my twentieth year with this company. Over 2/3 of my time with this company I served in my current position. My failure to move up the corporate ladder is because I have hit the top. I report to my boss the General Manager or directly to the owner of the company. I am very grateful to be accepting a new office chair rather than a gold watch as I am only 45 years old and this old dog has a lot years left in him.

I requested a new chair because my last one would slowly sink until my armpits were sitting on the desk top. I could stand up and hit lever on the side and it would come back up to slowly sink again over the course of the next hour or so as I sat it in it. It was worn out, and shot.

As I was pushing the old chair out of my office, a person commented, “Did you get a new chair because the old one wasn’t comfortable enough!” As the evening wore on that comment kept coming back to me, and gave me the idea for this post.

The chair of the Operations Manager of medium to large sized company, metaphorically speaking, is not a comfortable chair in the first place. During my basic training, and rise through the lower levels of the company I learned more about this company and business than any school could teach a person. As I went from a warehouse worker who didn’t know a damn thing about tires to a route driver. From a route driver to order entry (CS REP), to warehouse manager. My first assignment as Warehouse Manager was to move the entire warehouse in six months while the company stayed opened, received freight, and shipped tires to our customers. Many people want the chair, but few are willing to put in the work and determination to earn it. Few people work at their given position in a company with the mind set of, ‘If I was the boss and I ran the place, what would I want myself to be doing?’ Then go and do it!

It’s not a comfortable chair, in that you never know what that next phone call might be, but whatever it is it’s your job to handle it. As Harry S. Truman, who was from Independence, where I live used to say, “The Buck Stops Here!” I have had to deliver terrible news to employees, fire them, gotten reports that a driver just flipped a truck two and half hours away and now it is time to handle the shit, make things happen, and put it all back together. I saw this position and what it did to the two previous men who sat in this chair.

No the chair is not comfortable! EVER! It is a place to sit my ass while I work. To those who are reaching and striving for the top, be careful of what you wish for, you just may get it! For those who want the top and just do what you have to in order to get by, manage through the day . . . To those people . . . They didn’t notice the new bulletin board. I wore out a bulletin board that was mounted on my office wall. I have been through three different Date stamps for paper work during my time in my current position, my newest one I got in 2010 and it is good for five years. You reap what you sow. Hard work, dedication and time are amazing things.

Is it any wonder the guy who impressed me on the movie, “Apollo 13”, was the controller? Not the guys stuck in the ship who may die, but the guy on the ground who said, “Failure is not an option.” The guy who won’t leave until everybody can go home, safely and the mission is complete.

God Bless and Have a Great Day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Lesson in Creativity

For years I have built plastic model kits. I grew up in the back woods of Idaho and my folks, as poor as we were, managed to find and afford to enroll me in the model of the month club where each month I would get a new model, a newsletter with model building tips, a bottle of paint, and some little model building tool. Through those early years I built models to impress my parents, my brother and sister. Later in years to come I built models to impress others.

Many years later I found out my grandfather who lived in Missouri, as part of his rehab for being an alcoholic was a model builder. I eventually inherited his model building tool box and kit years after he died. In time building models with tools that were hand made, widdled down wooden clothes pins, hand made handles for the miniature files, and implements created out of pencils and scraps of wood, I realized he took as much care and skill creating his individual tools as he did building his models. I eventually quit building models for other people and started building them for myself. I started building scratch models from bits and pieces of things I found, used packaging, caps from bottles of all types, old toy pieces, and scraps from broken things I would run across.

I researched things I would like to build models of and collected the needed materials to recreate those things with pieces of other kits and the collection of scraps I picked up from everywhere. One example is the Montana Class Battleship! They were planned and never built. I found on the internet models the Navy commissioned and actual blue prints to be used for the ships. I have purchased three identical models of the USS Missouri Battleship to eventually cut in half and add the necessary space from the middle of another ships hull to get the right length. I will one of these days have a scale model of a ship that was planned but never built. That is creative in my book, a plastic model that will definitely be a one of a kind, a piece of history that was but unrealized.

I built a model of the Wright Bros. Kitty Hawk, with plastic struts, card board, and string. I learned more about that plane and what the Wright Brothers were doing by building that model than I did from all of the pictures and books I have looked at and read through the years.

Do what you do for you!

Make it unique, make it yours, be creative, express yourself.

True masters of a craft put the same love and care into their tools and implements as they do their works of art.

For a person like me, the unrealized Engineer, fascinated by how and why things work the way they do, with an insatiable curiosity, and an anal retentive attention to detail building models is a natural extension of my desires, abilities, curiosity, and challenges me to figure things out, create the pieces and put them together in a way they work like the larger life like versions. The result is stunning unbelievable models that exceed my own ideals of what I expected. It has dawned on me that I apply these same principles to my writing.

I feel my writing originates from my curiosity, put together from bits and pieces I gather from all over throughout the different walks of my life. I make it creative, unique and mine. I write the stories I would love to read but haven’t been written yet. I frankly haven’t worked on my models since I started writing largely due to not having a dedicated place to set everything up and leave it up. When the day comes I design and build the room that will be my office when I stay home and write full time, it will contain my desk, computer, and stuff I use in my writing – It will have book shelves for my collection of beloved books I feel I can’t live without – and a table with my model stuff set out in a useable fashion with a model in progress at any given time with no deadline. Like my books my models will be a personal challenge to myself to extend my abilities and grow my skills to levels I don’t even know I have within me!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Risk versus Gain

I understand now as a father of two young boys how afraid for them I’ll be if and when they tell me they want to join the service. I can’t in good conscious tell them no as I did it and so has someone from every generation of my family going back farther than anybody can remember. Either in the United States or fighting for Great Britain, my family has always been warriors. Yet I know now what I put my parents through by enlisting in the service, how a father would feel seeing his child leave and possibly enter into harm’s way.

I look back to the skills I have, the confidence to deal with what some people might consider horrific circumstances, and the knowledge of what true freedom really is. I know how to drive and shoot a tank. I have fired a wide array of fully automatic weapons, and tore them down and put them back together blindfolded. I have stayed awake for days on end performing my job, existing in that other realm that only soldiers will ever encounter. To have looked death in the face and not flinch, but toe the line, and accomplish the mission. Without the risk I would have never gained the benefits.

On a lighter note, to put your feelings out there and truly share with another individual in love, in marriage, to truly have the two make a complete one, a couple, a team, best friends, lovers, husband and wife. Without the risk you don’t reap the benefits.

Having children which at times can be extremely scary, uncertain and daunting, but the rewards are beyond description. Without the risk you don’t get the benefits.

In writing your book, putting it out there for the world to read and enjoy or rip to shreds. To take the good and bad reviews as the world judges your work, judges you. Without the risk you don’t get the benefits.

Are you risking anything? Is there an area of your life that is scary, uncertain, at risk? Are you doing anything more than just what is expected of you to get by, or working at your passion with every spare moment you can muster and pouring yourself into your work? Do you ever feel like life is unfair and you know there is so much out there but not for you? Do you feel left out? Alone? Not happy with where you are at in your life?

Do something new! Do something you love! Pour yourself into it until there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all you want to do. You spring out of bed in the morning to get started afresh and continue your journey. Your prayers turn from asking for things into just thanking the Lord all day long for everything you have and the opportunities that you have. It’s your life, get off your ass and get busy. Don’t know what to do? Do anything. Something new and different! Find what you absolutely love and go after it. Take a chance, risk something, challenge yourself to be more than you think you are. Expand your horizons.

It could be as easy as picking up a book or maybe a pencil and paper and writing a book of your own. God Bless and have a great day!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Failure is not an option!

Apollo 13 Launched History Tidbit
On this day April 11, 1970, the Apollo 13 Saturn V rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I did a post a few days ago mentioning that Hollywood made a film about this very mission that was released in 1995 called Apollo 13. It was directed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Gary Sinise. Ed Harris played the part of Gene Krantz the Head of Mission Control and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance in the movie.

The mission started off fine except one for early in the mission the center inboard engine shut down two minutes early during the second-stage boost. The outboard engines burned longer to compensate and the mission was still on tract and continued into a successful orbit.

The third stage fired sending the craft on its way to the moon where it was scheduled to make a lunar landing. After separating the third stage the Command Service module Odyssey had to be docked with the Lunar module Aquarius to be ready for when they reached the moon. Two days later into the flight while doing routine housekeeping procedures aboard the craft including stirring the liquid oxygen tanks, when they hit the switch one of the two liquid oxygen tanks explodes and they found out shortly afterward that the other was leaking. The lunar landing portion of the mission was cancelled and the primary mission was now how to get the three astronauts safely home to earth.

Many times in highly controlled situations when a major malfunction occurs it often affects many other aspects of the mission, even to the point of posing complex problems. One example is how do you get a square peg into a round hole? Every problem had to be solved using only items that would be available aboard the damaged spacecraft. Their problems mounted as the clock was running and in the words of Gene Krantz, who was portrayed by Ed Harris in the Ron Howard film, “Failure is not an option.”

Spoiler Alert – but to only those who haven’t seen the movie, or are not old enough to remember it actually happening, the Aquarius splashed down in the south Indian Ocean on April 17th, 1970 and the three astronauts, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise returned safely to Earth. Forty five minutes later they were picked up by the Air Craft Carrier USS Iwa Jima and received a welcome home as heroes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Know Your Audience

I love checking the stats section on my blog. It tells me who has viewed my blog, where they live, what they had for breakfast, where they work, and tons of useful information about the person who viewed the blog. No it doesn’t! I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

It does tell me how many people from what country checked in, it could be the same person if they hop to my blog five times that day, and it will show five people from that country. I am sure that many of the countries that are frequent viewers of my blog it is a lot of the same people who are just faithful loyal readers of the stuff I write. It does have a similar counter for what kind of system the person was using who happened to check in, so you know if it is a PC, Mac, Cell Phone, etc. It has a counter on where they came from, what search engine directed them to the blog post. Of course there is a generic counter that lets you see how many people visited today, last week, last month, and all time. It is a tool to view your blog traffic and see if it is declining, staying steady or increasing. I imagine unless you just like to type things for no general reason and post stuff for the hell of it, a blogger’s goal is to gain followers and increase their blog traffic over time.

My goal when I started blogging was to help identify myself as a writer, then a published author, and share with my readers about my journey of discovery with self-publishing. I feel blessed that my blog traffic has increased over time, and I have a following made up primarily of other authors, want to be authors, those groping through the process of self-publishing and based off the popularity of the blog posts there are a lot people interested in aspects of Web Site Design and SEO optimization. Those blog posts, Life as a Publisher, and the ones dealing with cover art have been the most popular posts I have done.

I know in time I will try and shift the focus of my blog to attract readers to help promote my books. I haven’t got a clue yet as to how to accomplish that feat. I would like to break into foreign markets also even if it is just a toe print of a presence. I firmly believe that in spite of all the advertising of big publishers and e-mails sent from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony promoting the bestselling books on their respective sites, the primary way books are sold is still word of mouth. “What are you reading?”

Whether it is on-line, in the street, on the bus, or on a train, readers talk to other readers. We can tell somebody quickly and easily what we are reading, whether it is any good and why. I have even considered giving away some copies of my next book to some avid readers and then taping their description of what they are reading when they tell somebody else to use as the books description on-line – because readers do it best. They spread the word of what is good or not. But what if there is nobody in an area who has read your book? Answer: Nobody is talking about it. I gave away a couple of copies of my first book to some people from the UK and now I have sales coming in every month from the UK through Amazon.

Amazon last year opened up Amazon DE (Germany), FR (France), ES (Spain), IT (Italy), but nobody is reading my book in any of those countries. So nobody is talking about it, so nobody is purchasing it. Now part of the problem is the book is in English and in the UK they speak and read English. Not everybody from these other countries speaks and reads English. On the other hand a lot do, and unless whatever search engine is bringing those individuals my blog is translating it for them as Google does do with some sites they have to be just stopping by or reading it in English.

In the United States all time I have had 3,857 visits, UK 304, Germany 409, France 218, Canada 144, India 56, Russia 473, Brazil 5, China 4, Australia 3, Ireland 105, South Korea 12, Malaysia 9, Ukraine 116, and Singapore 48.

I am very pleased with the fact that after just over one year people from so many different countries have stopped by and visited my blog. As of yet I only have sales of my book in the United States and the United Kingdom that I am aware of. I would be very pleased to gift FREE E-book copies of either of my two novels to anyone who resides in some country outside of the United States or the UK. Just E-mail me at StorytellerTDW@yahoo.com and tell me what country you reside in. Please be aware that it is written in English. Someday when I am making some money at writing I will invest to have my books translated into other languages and make those available in their respective markets for purchase. As it is right now I am like so many other Independent Authors just trying to get my books discovered.

Both books will be getting a Re-Edit shortly, so if you request a free e-book copy you can get what is out there or I can add you to the list of those who want the new and more grammatically correct version. For those requesting a FREE E-book Copy put in the subject of the E-mail what country you reside in and what format of book you would prefer for the type of E-reader you use.
MOBI for Kindle. EPUB for NOOK, Sony, Apple, KOBO etc. HTML for your computer.

I truly believe the best fashion to do that is to get it into different areas and have people read it, and if they like and enjoy the book they will tell their reading friends. Word of mouth is still the most popular way of spreading the news about what is out there, what you’re reading, and whether you liked it.

It dawned on me that since the Web Site Blog posts were such a big draw for so many of the people who have visited my blog, and those were done off my cruddy notes while sitting through a class that I might try and entice the people who put on the class to write a guest blog post or two which might be a bit more in depth and elaborate than what I was able to provide. We’ll see what we can come up with.

Writers get back to work. If you have finished your novel, getting close, and are feeling lost as to what to do next, send me an E-mail at the address above. In the subject line put ‘What Next’, and I can either respond by replying in an E-mail or do a blog post giving general directions of what to do and what to expect.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Magic Moment of the Unreal

A while back, in another blog post, I alluded to the moment when a book takes the reader over that imaginary line of what’s real and what we know is not possible and how that’s the magical point, the hook in many cases that makes the book interesting. And not so far back I mentioned I am reading the book Illusion and how I was enjoying it so very much.

As a writer it is of foremost importance to read other peoples work if you desire to grow and improve your skills as a writer. You will get to a point like I realize I have reached that you start analyzing others work as you read it. You study their English and Grammar skills. You study how they handle the so called rules of style which are so harshly judged by certain readers and I have come to realize just as the code among Pirates the rules of Style are more just guidelines to be considered. For what is wrong now may very well be fashionable in a few short years from now.

I read a book recently which was strewn with dialogue and yet didn’t have a quotation mark one in the book! When I find that keyboard for sale I am definitely buying one. I imagine if all writers adopted such an approach they might do away with quotation marks as they are doing with the need to learn to write in cursive. Yet I am straying from the point of my post.

As you read and analyze others work you see how they do what they do? What makes it so interesting? Why do you feel compelled to keep turning the page? It isn’t the skill with grammar or the use of the proper word or words that accomplish this subtle feat or else every English teacher and editor would be a bestselling authors and the authors who need editing wouldn’t be able to sell a single book. More often than not it is the imagination of the author, their ability to convey to you what they are imagining and the way they share the tale with you that hits the bulls eye on this fine target.

In the book of Illusion it steps across the magic line and grabs your attention. As you progress instead of making the problem more plausible and reasonable for your mind, the author jumps over that magic line again and again. Before you know it the character is back flipping, skipping, dancing and I might even add levitating over the line of what is reasonable and understandable. With each pass over this imaginary line the author pulls you in deeper and deeper into the story.

I think about my books and many I have read through the years where there is one step over the line and then the rest of the book trying to deal with the situation. I have started cataloging in my mind styles of relating tales, games with which the author might play in and through a story while relating their tale to the reader. With each book I write and as my skill grows I will attempt my own creative versions of each of these in the future. The fun is that it allows for multiple levels of fun and enjoyment depending upon the level of your reader’s attention and depth of knowledge. Kind of like the old Coyote and Road Runner cartoons of my days of old, there was lappy stuff the children could enjoy and advanced humor for those who understood how they were messing up the Latin classifications of the species when they would pause and introduce them.

Personal note: Wiley E. Coyote was and still is my favorite cartoon character. He never ever gave up trying to catch the Road Runner no matter how many times he crashed and burned. There was always a new idea! Something else to try! He may have been the hungriest coyote in history but he was certainly creative! In my first Novel “Whisper”, Wiley Randolph got his first name from Wiley the Coyote, my hero! The ultimate example of persistence!

Just to think they thought those cartoons were too violent and wasting our young brains away. I wish my children had as good of stuff to watch while goofing off and being children.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Musician vs. Author

I was listening to Bob Seeger’s “Katmandu” on the radio driving home from work today as was kind of critiquing the song as I was listening to it. Part of it he was just singing it in that classic Seeger fashion and parts you could tell he was putting everything he had into the vocals. As I thought about it, I realized if I was to be a singer I would try and do songs that didn’t total max out my efforts, because if you have a very long career and have to keep doing the same songs for the next forty years you won’t be able to consistently hit those fine extreme points later in life.

Fortunately for singers and musicians they only need really hit perfection once in a studio to record that best track they can to be played by millions of people for years to come and it will always be that perfect once in a life time shot of their performance. In concerts people realize it is a live performance and very rarely does a singer or band sound as good in concert as they do on the professionally mastered CD.

As a writer we have the best of all worlds. My first book “Whisper”, was published prematurely, but I didn't know that at that time, I was just trying to prove a point to myself. I had finished a book, it had been edited and I had spent several months making corrections to it. It was the best I had to offer at the time. As I have stated many times before, as it was my first book it would forever be my first and worst book I would ever do. After it was published it was brought to my attention that the English and Grammar still needed some work. Unlike the singer or music band, I am having it re-edited and can download a new revised edition in the near future.

Just recently, both my first two books received new and improved covers, which look much more attractive and professional than the originals. The author doesn’t need one perfect take to be finished. In subsequent editions he can re-edit, add commentary at the beginning or end of the book, and even change the cover multiple times with different editions. Each time the book hopefully gets better and better. Even one of my favorite authors whose books only came out originally as paperbacks, has recently been re-releasing each of his books in hard back, new editions. Forty years from now when I am at the end of my career my books may all be better than when they were originally published. After I am dead and gone new and revised editions may still be able to be published and re-released better than before.

I will never have one of those performances at the end of my career where people are happy to see an artist, the original artist perform his work and go Wow, but they don’t sound any where as good as they did twenty or thirty years ago, or as they do on the original digital copy on my MP3 player.

A few artists have done other work that was never released until after their death, like Jim Reeves, who had several new release hits after he had passed. If I ever do get so lucky to stay at home and write full time and get blessed enough to live a long life by statistics standards, I hope to finish several novels to leave behind for my wife and children or publishing company to release after my death as a gift to all I leave behind. Maybe something like an extra sequel to past and long finished series of books I finished and moved on from years before. A blast from the past on different levels for all my fans to rally behind and celebrate the passing of one of there favorite authors. It’s just a thought.

As far as singer/musician/band or being an author, I choose being an author. I don’t have to rehash old work over and over again for my entire career, and from time to time can begin a fresh with new characters, different places, different genres, and from a more mature and experienced writer with much more skill built up over time. With that in mind it is sad how writing contracts with publishers pushing for continued books in the same series drives some authors to cookie cutter books with the same characters for years on end. A writer should be able to be free and reach for ever increasing vistas, new challenges, in order to stay creative and fresh for the readers benefit as well as their ability to grow and mature as an author.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Illusion and Hunger Games

Pre Review of Book – Review of Movie
Currently I am reading “Illusion” By Frank Peretti.
I am only coming up on the halfway point but it is incredible! I am totally hooked and can’t wait to finish it. I have been working feverishly trying to finish my next novel, and I want to finish this book. So with 98% of my free time I am working on my novel, and part of my lunch hour everyday I am reading this great book.

Tonight I did take the evening off from writing and went to the movies with my daughter to see Hunger Games. The book is by Suzanne Collins, which I haven’t read yet. I wanted to see the movie before I read the books. As everybody knows the movies are never as good as the books so if I see the movie first usually I am impressed and then when I read the book I am further impressed. I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy it but it was amazingly awesome. I can’t wait to read the books.

At one point in the movie I thought I was going to cry, I looked over and my daughter was Niagra Falls. It is a compelling story.

I have decided I want to try and read all three books before the next movie comes out, even though it will probably take away from the movie adaptation for me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Movies Reviews Vs. Book Reviews

I know how I feel when I get a one star review posted on one of my books. I realize it is just one person’s opinion of my writing, my story, and my work. For some reason the reader was not impressed, felt let down, disappointed or offended and felt so strongly about their feelings towards my work that they needed to share their feelings with the world.

Thankfully for every one star or two star review I have received there are almost three times as many four and five star reviews when you look at all the reviews from the many various sites at which a person may post a review. The fact that most people who have left reviews have loved my work keeps me going. I can see and have heard from those helping me bring my future books to market that my writing is getting much better, a work in progress. I pray that twenty years from now I am still improving as a writer and gaining more of a following.

On my way into work this morning I heard a review on the radio of a movie that is currently playing in a theater near you that was finished with them giving it a one star review.

I remember thinking ‘Oh, Wow.’ A one star for a movie reflects badly on the writing, the directing, the actors, and the company or companies which joined together to bring it to the screen. Even medium grade films of just under two hours still cost millions to produce and in many cases just hope to make a profit. Major motion pictures with elaborate sets, costumes, and big named actors cost much more, not to mention if you have to throw in the science and computer guys to do special effects, 3D, or computer generated graphics.

To get a one star review for a motion picture that is being spread via radio, television and the internet could be disastrous. It reflects badly on everybody involved with the project unless the review goes on to point out specific short comings. My one star reviews are one persons opinion. Of course so are my four and five star reviews. I only have two books published so far, with no formal writing background. My writing would equate to a homemade video in relation to motion pictures. That fact that I have any four and five star reviews so early in the process with only two books published, I find amazing! I really felt a solid three for either of them would be good, but as the writer I am very critical of my own work.

As writers we live at three, we’re doing good at fours, and shooting for the stars with fives! Your best judge of public opinion is going to be only after many and many reviews and look at the average rating of them altogether. Honestly, I know I am a work in progress. My goal when writing a book is to write something I would enjoy reading. Something that gives me that feeling you get when you are reading a great book the entire time I am writing it. I write to entertain. To take the reader somewhere they haven’t been before, teach them something along the way, and hopefully characters you fall in love with in spite of their short comings, and bad guys you hate with a vengeance.

Have a great day and hopefully you’re reading a great book. For the Writers who are following the blog I hope you’re writing a great book. For those of you who like Science Fiction military action adventure and want to try something new – try my book “No Rules Of Engagement.”

I think the title sums it up rather adequately.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Great Imagination VS. Spoiler Alert

They are re-releasing Titanic again for a limited time in a 3D Version on the big screen.

* SPOILER ALERT *
The Titanic SINKS! Seriously, the movie was based off of a real ship in history!
I know many of you are reading this and going, DAH!

Fortunately there is a group of people that don’t know the boat was real and that it really hit an iceberg and sank.

* SPOILER ALERT *
Remember the movie APOLLO 13 starring Tom Hanks, “Houston, We have a problem!”
Yeah, that one actually happened also.

Most people know this before going to see the movie, so I don’t feel too bad with posting the spoilers on my blog. Fortunately as with anything variety is the spice of life and for our benefit and mutual enjoyment we have all kinds – of variety in our lives.

I apologize for taking anything away from the great writers and wonderful imagination of Hollywood by exposing the fact that they didn’t dream up these wonderful stories. For most people Hollywood provides us a glimpse of what it must have been like to be aboard the Titanic before she sank and what it must have been like for the astronauts of Apollo 13 trying to get back home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Detailed Day Dreaming

In writing the sequel to “Whisper,” Wiley and Lisa are taking a dream honeymoon around the world. Sorry if this turns out to be a spoiler to some degree but it is necessary to the understanding of this blog post. I also know that if you have read “Whisper” or “No Rules Of Engagement” you will know there is plenty of other stuff going on to still make it a great book in spite of the spoiler.

One of the fun parts of writing this book is imagining being able to travel around the world with no schedule, no rush, money is no object. The dream vacation, the ultimate honeymoon. I have learned so much from Alpha and Beta Cities, the top ten sites of each city, the history of the sites, populations, aspects of cultures from each of these different countries. Researching resaurants close to major sites in these cities.

On one hand it has been extremely extensive reseacrching all this information for my story, especially when most of the information won’t even make it into the book. My curiosity as a writer draws me into the multitude of stories behind these many places. My imagination allows me to create a story around these places using my characters.

In “Whisper,” Wiley is fifteen years older than Lisa. In my personal life I am sixteen years older than my wife. When researching writing I read somewhere that you should write what you know. So when it came to writing an extremely dynamic relationship between an older guy and a younger woman many aspects of their relationship comes from aspects of my relationship with my wife. I can’t help imagining if I ever make it really big as a writer and get blessed with the opportunity to travel how wonderful it would be to actually live out aspects of this awesome honeymoon trip.

I also enlisted my wifes help in researching these cities and looking for the unique things that would appeal to her as a woman for the times when Wiley asks Lisa what she might like to do in some of these cities. I thought that might add that touch of a woman's perspective to the story. It isn’t hard to imagine some of the special moments between Wiley and Lisa as all I have to do is imagine what it might be like to be there with my wonderful and amazing wife.

Soon a new and re-edited version of “Whisper” will be available to be downloaded. If you haven’t read it yet, make plans to do so before June or July as hopefully the sequel will be out by then. It isn’t as edge of your seat thrill ride as “Whisper” but all in all it is a great story.

By the way “Whisper” is available on Amazon for the Kindle and on Smashwords dot com for the other e-reader formats. It is available on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, and Kobo through Smashwords distribution network.

Just type in or copy and paste from here, Whisper by Thomas Wilson.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Improve the Customers Experience

My day job is in the wholesale tire industry, which has no direct contact with customers, retail customers that is, the everyday people like you and me who would go into a tire shop to buy new tires. That doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to customer service or what is important to the retail tire customer. If anything we are hypersensitive to what the customer on the street is looking for. The more we can do to help our tire dealers be more successful the more successful we will become as their supplier.

A big key in the tire industry is to ‘Improve the Customers Experience.’ Let’s face it most people never think about their tires unless they have to. Most people visiting a tire shop are there because they have to be there not by choice. So everything a tire dealer can do to improve the experience and make it more pleasant for the customer while getting their vehicle back on the road the better.

That got me thinking about as a writer, what can I do to improve the reader’s experience of my books?

One thing might be to give them full sized books for whatever the genre I am writing in. So far my books have fallen under the category of Science Fiction-Action Adventure, and full sized is 90 to 120 thousand words. I have been through the editing process more than twice with my first two books and will be revisiting that arena again very shortly. So I generally shoot for over the established average for a decent rough draft knowing bunches will be slashed by the ever loved and adored EDITORS!

I have seen them slash a character, and everything through a book dealing with a character, basically requiring a total re-write. Paragraph’s wiped away with the slash of a pen. Depending on your experience level and initial word count you could lose thousands of words to a frugal editor of words.

As I just stated my first two novels are going through further editing, and will be revised and re-released – closer to error free.

Secondly – To Improve, our readers experience would be to have as polished and error free manuscript as possible. It has been brought to my attention that many readers get distracted if not downright upset at stumbling over errors in written work. It has come to my attention that Editors are born with red pens in their hands and cannot read anything without making corrections along the way. God Bless Them! For where would we creative free spirited writers be if not for the Editors to correct our right brained muse infused flights of fantasy without the help of the Editors to correct it so others might also enjoy it, and hopefully want to purchase subsequent installments.

Thirdly – Make your covers as attractive and appealing as you can, this is for the customers benefit as well as the authors. The more appealing the cover is the better chance somebody may pick your book out of the millions of others out there to buy and give you the author a chance to WOW them with your wit. If they don’t download a partial copy or purchase it outright and download it to their reader of choice they will never get to the all-important point of actually reading your work. That’s our mutual goal from the start. To get the reader to try you out, to get discovered and if they like your writing, your story, your style they may grace you again by purchasing the sequel or another book in the future.


Fourth and Last way you can improve your readers experience is make your book affordable. I know all of us writers who have day jobs and are working as hard as a college student pulling 16 hours of class, working full time, and trying to have some semblance of a life in between can’t wait for the day we get to stay home to be full time authors!

Until we get discovered and build a following enough to generate sales of such magnitude to support our current life styles we will be working two jobs. In the mean time we have to walk the tight robe of pricing to make enough money to cover the costs of editing, art work for covers, proofing, and advertising so we don’t end up in the poor house trying to get our books published in a professional manner. I am all for the price of e-books going up, in spite of the fact that I still read a lot and it costs me more money to get the books from my favorite authors. The higher the average of selling e-books goes up the more potential money we as new authors can potentially make down the road.

At first until you have a following of devoted people who love your stuff, you have to price your books cheaply and in many cases give away copies to hopefully enlist future devoted fans. This really hurts especially when you have spent hours upon hours for months on end to finish your book, but in a flooded and very competitive market I don’t see any alternative. When you have built up a firm base of devoted fans and each new release brings with it a small windfall of sales from waiting fans, then you can move your prices up from the basement. Like with any other commodity supply, demand, and pricing is everything.

With E-books the supply chain is growing every day, the demand depends mostly on your skill as a writer, and the following you have built up over time. That leaves pricing! The better books you write the more you can charge. I have no problem dishing out $12.99 for my favorite authors E-book. We need to focus on our work, write better books, and the sales will come.

The one biggest factor in selling more books is to write great books, and the sales will follow.
Have a Great Day. It’s the beginning of a new month, in many places spring is in full blossom!
May God Bless You. Now quit surfing the web and playing around, and finish that masterpiece!

 
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