Friday, October 18, 2019

Thursday, October 17, 2019


I finally got to Duluth to see the ships enter, or leave, the port through the canal. It was drizzling the day I took this picture, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to leave and blow my chance at getting this picture. The next ship wasn’t scheduled to leave until late at night, and I wasn’t going to stay in Duluth that long.

After I got the picture I began to wonder what was wrong with me. I’m 62 and I’m still fascinated by trains and ships, like a little kid.

My life feels so trivial and stupid sometimes, shallow. I care about things. I write the occasional rant about current events on this blog. But, that’s not the same as getting truly involved and doing something about the injustice and stupidity I see almost every day in the news. Yet, the events in the news, while they usually enrage me, also seem far away. When I look around here in the town I live in, things don’t seem that dire.

Maybe taking pictures of trains, ships and “little-kid” stuff is an escape from the awful events I see in the news. Maybe I’ve never grown up. I’m not sure what the answer is, but right now I just don’t care. I had fun in Duluth. Life is short and I might as well enjoy it while I can.

Changing The Pattern

I decided to alter my pattern slightly today. Instead of going down to drink coffee and read the paper first thing, I decided to drink coffee and write something first thing. Baby steps.

But, even baby steps are difficult for me. Change is hard. There are probably many patterns I need to change. One at a time is all I can handle.

And, who knows how permanent this change will be? Take for example my on / off relationship with Facebook. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account many times (I’m off it now) but have gone back because I think I need it, or I miss it, or something. I try and change patterns and then revert back to the same old thing because – why? Because it’s comfortable? Because it works? (It doesn’t really.)

I know I’m hardly alone in this. I’ve watched other people grapple with change. What I’m writing here is hardly new. But, today at least I tried a new pattern. Hardly earth-shattering, but you don’t know what it will lead to until you take the first step.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

What's With Me and Facebook?

“As Facebook cracked down on disinformation flooding its social media platforms, executives decided to codify a key loophole: Politicians remained free to lie at will — unbound by the rules designed to stop everyday users from peddling viral falsehoods.” 
I have deactivated my Facebook account – again. I understand the Facebook business model. I get that they use my input to sell ads, as does Google. I thought the tradeoff was worth it. I still feel the tradeoff at Google is worth it as I use, for free, many of their services. Now, as it relates to Facebook, I no longer feel that way. Why?

I read an article in the Washington Post (a portion is quoted at the top of this post) that stated Facebook has a two-tiered system for evaluating the accuracy of a post: one for politicians and one for the rest of us. Their policy states that politicians may lie! I think that politicians should be held to a higher standard, face more scrutiny, than the rest of us. I felt that continued use of Facebook would be condoning this policy and I didn’t want to do that anymore.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: Writer Shed Stories

Writer Shed Stories (Volume 1)Writer Shed Stories by Eleven Authors
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great Stories

What a great mix of stories, from somewhat experimental to memoir. I really enjoyed this book. For less than a dollar, it's a great value!

View all my reviews

Monday, September 9, 2019

Changed My Mind

A few days ago I decided to give up Blogger and post on Medium. Today I changed my mind. I am going to post on both. There’s no reason for my work to be exclusive to Medium. I’ll continue to put writing related article links on Facebook. I thought platform mattered more than the writing itself, and that is mistaken. I need to get more written; the platform is hardly important compared to that. I drive myself nutty with this social media platform stuff and use that as an excuse to delay writing. Silly. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

My Blogger Hiatus

I decided to take a break on blogging for a couple of reasons. First, I only have so much writing in me. I’d rather apply my limited literary energy toward short stories and essays.

The second reason has more to do with platform than blogging itself. I still want to provide valuable information to my clients and friends. Posting on Blogger is OK, but I only get traction, readership, when I share the post to Facebook. Sometimes I hate this, but to many people Facebook is the internet. So, I’ve decided it’s best for me to just skip the Blogger step and post directly to Facebook.

There are other advantages. The Blogger to Facebook image sharing process has always been a hassle for me. The image has to be a precise size and Facebook has changed the requirements more than once. I had to add special code to my Blogger page in order for the images to go over correctly. Facebook handles links to the articles I want to highlight much better than Blogger. Facebook displays video better.

I’m not going to close this account because Facebook may change in ways that I won’t like. It will go dormant though (again).

If you're interested in information about the world of indie publishing, please follow me on Facebook:

I signed up for Medium, and plan on putting my essays and short stories there:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Indie Published Book Covers

I read an article on The Book Designer that mentions something very important: your book cover must look good in a small, thumbnail size – especially for indie-published books. Few indie published books end up in bookstores. Therefore, the online appearance of your cover is far more important than the physical book’s look. Too many indie-published authors design their covers as if their book will end up on the shelf at Barnes & Noble as opposed to a 1.1” wide x 1.6” high online cover. Take a look at your cover at thumbnail size and see if you can read the title, or the subtitle. Do your graphics clearly indicate what you want to express at that size? For indie publishing, especially ebooks, it is crucial that the cover works online, as opposed to the physical version. In fact, for online sales, you could leave the back cover completely blank and it won’t make much difference – hardly anyone will see it prior to buying the book! 

The article mentions more things to think about when designing a cover. From the article:
"A cover makes a promise. It tells the reader very clearly — through words, but also through design — exactly what they’re going to read.

We could make the same kinds of observations about a thriller, a business non-fiction book, an inspirational title — each genre and subgenre has certain tropes (characteristic elements) that identify it. Even literary fiction!"
Read the entire article on The Book Designer.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Back To My Old Brand

I really tried. I didn't want to be "that guy," the one that always sees the glass half full. I even decided to let my domain,, lapse. But, I turned on auto-renew today because I do see the glass half full, even empty sometimes. I guess it's just my nature.

It's not that I'm not grateful for my good fortune. While I think I did a good job for my employers and clients, I am also aware that I've been very lucky.

But, I see so much that I don't understand about our culture and our lifestyle. We seem to be determined to ruin all the good things we've developed and replace them with meanness, intolerance, fear and a lack of appreciation for intelligence and expertise.

So, expect the ratio of rants to articles about indie-publishing to change.

You've been warned! 😀

Friday, August 30, 2019

The World of Writing Is Not Immune to the Laws of Supply & Demand

I read this recently on Brevity. As I said in an earlier post - there are too many books. There are too many writers. There are too many other options to amuse us: YouTube, Instagram, the whole darn internet. As the supply increases, assuming the demand remains constant, the price drops. It's not rocket science. The audience for short work in literary fiction and poetry is small anyway. Throw in a whole bunch of free options and it's no wonder people, even other writers, will stop paying for what they can get for free elsewhere.
“But the massive proliferation of literary journals online has, among other things, diluted the meaning of publication to the degree that we’ve clung to pre-digital hierarchies as a defense against chaos. 
Despite our market-expressed preference for disruptive digital technologies, we still trust The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Granta and handful of other top-tier publications to tell us who is writing the most important, must-read work today. (There are notable all-digital exceptions to this rule, of course. You’re reading this diatribe on the Brevity blog, after all.) The important difference now, though, is that we don’t want to pay for access to that information, which is one of the reasons why journals like Tin House, Glimmer Train, and The Normal School, to name only a few recent (and painful) examples, are closing up the print-issue shop. 
The audience for literary journals is predominantly made up of writers. We can quibble over the reasons, but the cold, hard truth is that writers have decided that they don’t want to pay for access to literary journals.”
Read the entire article.

What does the picture of the best cat ever have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. I miss him still.

Friday, August 23, 2019


On July 19th Publishers Weekly ran an article entitled: "9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Semicolon."
"For most of the history of the English language, punctuation was a matter of taste. Writers relied on their ears and their instincts to judge where best to mark a pause. But then, with the spread of public schooling in the 1800s, savvy teachers saw a market for a new class of books that would make grammar a teachable science. Perversely, instead of making people more confident in choosing a punctuation mark, rules seem to have had the opposite effect, conjuring up confusion and consternation. Gradually, proper punctuating came to be seen as the province of the elite, although the best writers still followed their own star: 'With educated people, I suppose, punctuation is a matter of rule,' Abraham Lincoln mused; 'with me it is a matter of feeling. But I must say that I have a great respect for the semi-colon; it’s a very useful little chap.'"
I didn't know there could be 9 things in total to know about the semicolon! Author Cecelia Watson wrote a whole book about the little thing!

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail