Monday, December 29, 2014

Goals - Mine

Remember last week?  I discussed attaining goals and the method to use was S.M.A.R.T which is —

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time Bound

Well, it is that time of year when come midnight on 12/31 we will celebrate, kiss, toast 2015 and make New Year Resolutions.

Last year I toasted, kissed my wife and celebrated the New Year with a few friends.  The idea of resolutions didn't come to me until the next morning.  After some serious thought, I decided what I would do —

1. Lose weight
2. Publish four (4) books
and some other stuff but we won't go into that …

So how did I do for the year?  I actually did lose some weight.  At least, according to the doctor when he weighed me in for an office visit and I was down almost 10 pounds by April.  To be fair, I just checked my weight.  Okay, almost a year later, I am down about 5 pounds.  Is that good?  Sort of.  As my doctor stated, You didn't gain all this weight overnight, so don't expect to lose it overnight.

Hmm?  It took me about 30 years to gain all this weight.  I really don't think I have 30 years to lose it.  Therefore, some drastic action must be taken.  I want to lose 100 pounds.  At the current rate of 5 pounds per year, it will take another 20 years.  That could be doable but really?  Do I want to look good the last 2 or 3 days of my life — considering if I live another 20 years?  Okay, if I shed 10 pounds each year, it would only take 10 years.  Again, good potential but not quite what I had in mind.  And, personally, I don't think that is what the doctor had in mind, either.

BUT, if I could lose 50 pounds this year and another 50 next year … I would reach my goal.

So, using S.M.A.R.T. I have decided I want to lose 50 pounds this year by Dec 31, 2015.  I am being specific, it is something that is measurable.  Is it achievable and realistic?  If I lose 5 pounds each month, then, yes, it is achievable and realistic.  But I'm not being honest with myself:  I'm a diabetic.  I'm old.  I'm very sedentary.  Let's re-calculate and say 25 pounds for the year.  If I can lose more, that's called a gravy bonus.  By changing to 25 pounds, I think I have something achievable and realistic.  Since I have set the date as December 31, 2015, I have locked it into a time table.

Next resolution.  Publish four (4) books.  I didn't.  I tried.  I got the first book published by allowing myself a month (January) to finish the cleanup.  It took until early April.  Way off schedule.  My tentative schedule was to have book 2 done by the end of April.  Okay, I did get book 1 out and it was Pangaea, Eden Lost.  Book 2 was supposedly (working title) Jewyl.  Instead, I put together a how-to writing/editing book titled 52 Weeks of Writing Tips and SURPRISE!  It was published early April (about a week later) with a promotion release date of May 1.  I was back on schedule.  Not exactly the books I'd planned but I had two books out for the year.  I still had time to get Jewyl ready and my next "due date" was late August.  Plenty of time.  Hmm?  I didn't calculate the summer and traveling with grand kids to go camping.  Plus there was the garden, too.  Did I mention lawn mowing?  August was soooo far away — I had plenty of time.

Waste not.  Well, I did.  Like the proverbial grasshopper, I fiddled my summer away and Labor Day was upon me and book 3 wasn't even close to ready.  I thought I had it ready when I caught a major flaw in my story: the heroine was stumbling along, following everyone; not leading.  Wrong!  Major re-write needed.  Plus, it seems Fall must be a magical time for writers since my skills as an editor were called upon and I was suddenly deluged with several well-paying editing projects.  Let's get real here.  I'm retired and on a fixed income.  This was welcome money.  Three edit jobs found me pushing into November which is NaNoWriMo.  I wasn't going to participate.  Day 3 — Yeah, hook, line and sinker.  I was doing NaNoWriMo and finishing up an edit job.  I finished the story, and the month of November, with the promise of another edit job.  December became a month of holidays, editing and no writing for me.

So I only published two books.  Not my goal but still, I did get two books published.  That, in and of itself, is quite an accomplishment.  Just think how awesome it would have been to publish four!!!

Therefore, once again, using S.M.A.R.T. I will attempt to publish three (3) books during 2015.  I still have Jewyl waiting in the wings, plus my Amish novel, and Fire Life is glaring at me.  I think I'm good at three, but I might be able to do four.  Let me see, set a goal of three, shoot for four, and maybe do five.  Now THAT would be quite an accomplishment.  I'll be happy with three.

This blog will be released on 12/29.  What goals are you setting, have you set, or will you set for yourself for 2015?  Share your S.M.A.R.T. goals with me and we'll keep tabs on each other during 2015.  Won't that be fun?  I promise not to shame you during the year.  I'll just make comments during the passing time to help us keep on schedule.  A reminder is always helpful.

Until next I ramble on …

Monday, December 22, 2014

Setting Goals

The new year is almost upon us — mere days away, in fact.  As a writer, I usually attempt to set goals and next week I will discuss mine … but right now, I want to focus on yours.

Come the midnight hour on 12/31/2014, we will cheer, kiss and toast to the New Year 2015.  Then we will blurt our intentions, calling them resolutions for the new year.

I will lose weight this year.
I will finish that novel.
I will … blah-blah-blah

Those are not goals.  They are not resolutions.  They are hollow wishes of ambiguous ideas.

I will lose weight this year.  Yeah, right.  So come 12/31/2015 and you now weight 1 pound less than you did a year ago, if you even remember what your weight was on 1/1/2015!  There is no goal.  Just a wish.  In fact, I promised myself that I would lose weight during the year.  I did.  I was able to reduce my weight by 15 pounds.  I am very proud of that fact.  Unfortunately, I have to admit complete and utter failure.  I wasn't able to maintain that loss.  So, in reality, I didn't lose weight and keep it off.

I will finish that novel.  Again.  Blah, blah, blah.  What novel?  Some ambiguous collection of words that you've so valiantly flipped in front of your friends claiming it is a book?  I heard my friend claim she was going to get serious about her writing in 2014 and finish her novel.  Did she?  No.  In fact, she barely talks to me because when we greet, I ask her about it.

If you're going to set goals, I learned to be SMART.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time Bound

Yes, this is what you need to set goals and reach those goals.

Specific.  "finish my book" is not specific.  "Send the book to at least 5 publishers" is specific. To claim "I will lose weight" is not specific.  "I will lose 50 pounds" is a goal and specific.

Measurable. With writing, make your goal measurable. NaNoWriMo teaches this by forcing the author to write 1667 words or more each day for 30 days to finish 50K words in a month.  By setting a measurable amount, whether it be 5 pages or 2K words each day, you establish a point to reach.  As with weight loss, keep track of the pounds you lose.

Achievable.  If you're a 300 pound person, to set a goal to wear size 30 inch waist jeans is not achievable in three months. You're setting yourself up for failure.  The same holds true for writing.  You're not going to write the #1 best-selling novel in 30 days.  You could, but the odds are stacked against you.  I have a friend who thought when she finished her very first book, the first publisher she approached would "snap up" her novel and she'd be published, doing talk shows and in the limelight.  She thought this would all happen in the 3 to 5 weeks after her completion of the novel.  Needless to say, she was rudely awakened when the editing took almost 8 months to clean up the novel.  Also, her first publisher choice she sent it to rejected it.

Realistic. Writing 50K words in 30 days is a very lofty aspiration.  Some are able to attain it.  It is a possible realistic goal, but you have to realize what you will give up.  That little 30 minute chit-chat with Suzy, 3 hr shopping spree with the girls or 2 to 3 hr game with the guys won't be on your social dance card.  If you're married, have children or care for another, that is time taken away from writing.  Make your goal achievable and realistic.

Time Bound.  Time is the writer's enemy.  It is also the weight loss enemy.  It always seems there is more time than reality allows.  Set your goal to sensibly stretch the proper amount of time.  You're not going to lose 50 pounds in 1 month.  You could, but your health will be at risk.  When establishing time goals in writing, be honest with yourself and your skills and your time available.  If your social life is very time consuming, don't expect to set aside several hours, 4 or more, to write.  To set a goal of losing 50 pounds within the next 6 months is a great example of being time bound in your goal.

With the few days left of 2014 to evaluate your life and establish your goals for the coming year, now is the time to use SMART to create your new year's resolutions.  Maybe, come this time next year, you will be able to sit back and smile, your goals reached.

What are some of your goals?  Do you want to lose weight?  Quit smoking?  Eat better?  Publish a book? Write a novel?  Tell me how you envision using SMART to reach your goals.

Until next I ramble on …

PS: As a special Christmas treat, for my blog readers, I am offering a short-story to read.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing: Talent or Skill?

Do you remember your first story/novel/article/poem?

Yeah, it was perfection.  There was nothing that could be added to make it any better.  The angels sang your praises of the wonderfulness of the accomplishment.

Yeah, right!

Okay, I'll back off.  Your mother praised it. Your aunt sang its glories. Your friends stood in awe of your accomplishment. The manuscript was literally ready to be etched with gold leaf into expensive Italian marble for all prosperity.

Yeah, right!

Publisher reality check!  They rejected it.  Your dreams.  Your hopes.  Your aspirations.  DASHED!!  All of them thrown into the chasm of disbelief.

Does a writer use talent or skill to produce a salable manuscript?

My son has talent. He can weave a story that will hold your interest and make you want to turn pages faster than you can read.  In fact, he got an A on a short story he wrote back in school - I think he was in 8th grade.  It was titled: I Wished My Dog Had Ate My Homework But An Alien Stole It.  I loved it and, obviously, so did his teacher.  As I said, he can weave a tale.  Today, his daughter is getting ready to enter 8th grade next year and well, he can still tell some whoppers - and so can his daughter!

Yes, the kid has talent, but...

He doesn't has the skill.  English wasn't his forte class in school.  He's been published in an anthology but it took an immense amount of work.  His story he submitted to an anthology was unique.  His story grabbed the editors' eyes and they overlooked the bad formatting and English because the story was great.  When I say "formatting" I am really saying that his skill at punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure and spelling were atrocious.

Now, a little history.  When my son submitted this story of his, he used an alias, including the snail-mail address.  Both editors had had a chance to read and score the story.  Both thought it worthy but needed a drastic amount of work.  I was one of the editors.  He came to visit and I was working on the submissions.  I was getting ready to contact the authors, letting them know if they had made the cut. He asked what we did with those who submitted under an alias.  I explained that they would need to let us know their real name if they were published.  He confessed and I had to withdraw myself as a judge.  To be fair to the other judge, I explained that the submitter had been in contact with me, revealing their identity and I felt I couldn't judge fairly any longer since I knew who it was.  So the other editor was to make the decision if we'd go forward with the story or drop it. She decided to keep it and would be in contact with the author to get the corrections done.  My son decided to use his real name.  My co-editor was pleasantly surprised.  And the rest is, as is so often said, history. Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire went to press.

This was before self-publishing via Amazon and other places was available. He had the talent to compose a story but it took the skill of others to make it something marketable.

Today, many authors don't bother with a publisher and go directly to self-publishing a book. They may have the talent to tell a good story but they don't have the skill to write the story.  OR, they may have the skill to write a story but not the talent to tell it properly.

The problem is many of them feel they have both the talent and the skill.  They don't.  An editor can help to guide the talent and skill to produce a viable book.  It is a necessity for an editor or publisher to correct the story and make it marketable.

So, does talent make you a writer?  Does skill make you a writer?  Or does it take both talent and skill?

What's your take on this?  Do you have talent or skill?  If you have one, can you learn the other?  Why or why not?  Share.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Procrastination and the Internet

Anyone who is a procrastinator - please raise your hand.

Yeah, my hand went up.  I'm a procrastinator.  Sometimes, really big time.  In fact, today is a perfect example of my exceedingly bad procrastination.  I do a weekly writing tip ( and a weekly blog (what you're currently reading) and I tend to wait until the last minute.

Oh sure, I've written posts earlier in the week. In fact, I've even written some of them 2 and 3 weeks in advance of their appearing in cyberspace. I didn't always wait until the last minute.

Today?  I waited until after 11 p.m. to even begin composing my writing tip and due to my "wonderful" high speed internet connection, this is taking even longer.  For some reason, I'm finding myself connected to the "local" network more than the "internet" network.  What does that mean?  No internet connection.

So how does a slow or not connecting internet have any relationship to procrastination?  Simple.  I'm having an awful time getting my writing tip and blog up and into cyberspace. I always try to have it up and posted before midnight so everything is ready to go shortly as midnight on a Monday morning.

My writing tip needed a little research.  One cannot simply whip up a writing tip without some references. Of course, under duress of no continuous connection, references can be omitted if the topic is a simple or easy one.  Obviously, with a crappy connection, I had to change my writing tip to something that I knew and could talk about with some authority.  I love doing character descriptions and defining the cast in my stories.  I want to know who I'm writing about so my readers get to know them, hopefully, as well as I do. Hence, this week's writing tip ( is about knowing your character.

Normally I will write my blog and writing tip early in the evening on Sunday night since both are due on Monday - my decision.  I get concerned and worried when I haven't started by 9 p.m. and even begin to get antsy by 10 p.m.  At 11 p.m.?  This is the worst-case scenario of procrastination.

It is now almost 1 a.m. on Monday morning and here I am, typing feverishly to get this blog finished.  My writing tip is finally posted and available.

What does dawdling until the last possible moment to begin the dual posts mean?  Simple.  I will, more than likely, write my tip and blog much earlier next week.  I may even compose them during the week.  In fact, there is a good chance I will write a couple of them so I am ahead of the game as the holidays come closer.

Want to know a secret?

I'm a procrastinator.  Next Sunday night will find me scurrying about, attempting to compose a blog and writing tip while fighting with my internet connection.  Some things can change.  Procrastination?  Seldom.

With a little luck and a chance connection - I might even get this posted before 1:15 a.m. but I'm not holding my breath - I know better.

Are you a procrastinator?  Were you a procrastinator?  How did you beat the odds and become timely OR still remain a procrastinator?  Share your experiences - I need help.

Hi, everybody. My name is Bob Nailor and I'm a procrastinator.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update

Simple.  30 days.  50,000 words.  Anyone can do it.

Sure, anyone can do it but that person has to be willing to put aside many aspects of their life. I'm fortunate. I'm retired. I don't have a life.  Not really.  Yes, I am retired but I do have a life. I don't sit around the house with nothing to do but sit in front of the boob-tube and watch TV all day.  I'm active with weekly things like worship practice, getting the mail, taking out the trash, during the summer - working in the yard and garden, during the winter - reading and doing some projects that can only be done indoors.  I also visit family and friends.  I shop, cook, occasionally help clean the house.  I spoil my grandchildren and like any good husband, annoy my wife so she will continue to love me.  And I write... of course.

But, I did it.  I got my novel finished.  Yes, I did the 50,000 words - actually, it was 51,768 words of very poorly written prose.  I now have the main structure of another novel completed.  I will let it set for a variable length of time then re-approach it with what I'd like to think, a critical eye to plot, character and story line.

What did I write?  An Amish horror story.  If you'd like to read the first not quite 5000 words, then just click on The Amish Hunter (or to read the beginning.

Overall, it was fun and I hate to admit it, but I actually wrote myself into a corner at about 39k. I had to do some decisive thinking and fancy foot-work at re-arranging things to get my story back on track.  I'd tell you the details but I don't want to give away any secrets of the book.  Yes, the plot took a change, added another sub-plot and, I am hoping, made for a better tale.

This is my 14th entry into NaNoWriMo and the 13th time to complete the task. At least 3 of the novels have seen publication and a 4th is currently with an agent seeking a publisher.

My job, if I decide to accept the task, is to get all these stories cleaned up and out on the market.  They do no good sitting on my hard drive in cyberspace.  THIRTEEN stories you ask?

Here is a listing of my fourteen years of doing NaNoWriMo.

2000: A Snowbird's Guide to Pecans. Not finished. A pecan cookbook. Failed 1st attempt at NaNo.
2002: I'htha. A native American detective story involving a cross-breed, vampire-werewolf.
2003: The Legacy of Pangaea. Now published as Pangaea, Eden Lost, see Amazon.
2004: Zilli: A Fairy's Tale. A fairy goes on an adventure.
2005: Jewyl and The Singing Crystals of Mystyk Mountains. Jewyl and Chardo's 2nd adventure.
2006: White Rose, Yellow Dragon. A historical, literary romance taking place in Hong Kong.
2007: Gray: An Alien Journey. An encounter that wakes up wrong thirty years later.
2008: 2012: Timeline Apocalypse. Now published, see Amazon
2009: Circle of Stone. A man seeking his future by finding his true past in stone circles.
2010: Vamazons. Now published as Ancient Blood: The Amazon, see Amazon.
2011: An Amish Voice. To an agent. An Amish boy who finds himself via his voice amid Civil Rights.
2012: Snow Snake. Large snakes discovered in the snowy fringes of Canada.
2013: The Treasure Within. An old gold-miner leaves a secret, but what is it?
and of course 2014: An Amish Hunter.

If you'd like to sample read any of the above, please go to Bob Nailor's Webpage of Works in Progress. The only one you'll NOT find will be the cookbook.  Don't know why I haven't put up a sample of what it will be like.  Hmm?  Maybe I will.

Each year, for the last few years, I swear I'll not do NaNoWriMo the following year. This year I was able to abstain for almost 3 days into event before breaking down.  My mission was to finish before Thanksgiving. I did and only because I had some fantastic days where I was able to write - the words flowed without any hesitation - and do upwards of 10k words or more.  Even when I got cornered and blocked, the next day was a great writing day to get me back on track and stay ahead of schedule.

Right now I have a Viking tale that is nagging for some attention.  Unfortunately, I have a couple of editing job to finish before Christmas for some clients.  Also, I have a novel - Yendisa - that I would like to get finished with the final edits so I can get it published.  I'd hoped to publish four novels this year but I can see that ambitious goal is not going to be met.  Maybe next year will the year to get four out.  Still, I did get two books out this year and the one has been selling pretty well and even made it to #2 for Editing on Amazon -- and it wasn't free!

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Memory Lane

Today I went with my wife to visit her mother in the nursing home. Her mother is 102 and her mind isn't quite the steel trap it was just a mere couple of years ago. She smiled at me and asked me if I was there to take her to supper.  She didn't know me.  She smiled at my wife, her youngest daughter, and asked her if she was there to help her go to the bathroom.  It was at that moment I told my wife I'd be in the TV/Card lounge until she was ready to leave.  It bothered me that my mother-in-law had no memory of me but it really hit hard for my wife for her mother not to recognize her own child.  But, it has been getting worse each time we go in. The Alzheimer is slowly eating away at her memories. If you tell her who you are, she claims to remember and I truly do believe she does. When my wife tells her who she is, my mother-in-law seems truly upset to not remember.

Anyway, I went into the TV lounge where five patients were playing cards.  Over time I've got to know them and they know me.  We all said 'hi' and I sat in a chair and started to watch the TV which was broadcasting an old "The Brady Bunch" show.  I watched as Alice traded zingers with Sam, her butcher boyfriend.

I broke out laughing. Without realizing it, I'd interrupted the card game and they wanted to know what was so funny.

I pointed to the television and said, "Look at the ad's on the back wall of the butcher shop." Just over Sam's shoulder was a sign that read: Chopped Sirloin 92¢ lb. "I sure would like to be able to get that today!"

Anna was quick with a reply. "Bob, honey. I remember buying hamburger for something like 29¢ a pound when I was feeding my kids."

Unfortunately, that was a truth.  I remembered, at the ripe age of almost 16, biking uptown (a very small community) to the local grocery store and getting hamburger for that low price.  Anna is like about 20 years my senior, probably somewhere close to 90 years in age.

I continued to watch the show and Mike Brady (father) had a pay phone installed for the Brady children to use, needing to pay a dime for each call.  When I was single and shared a large 3-story house with 3 other guys, the phone bill got to be an issue.  It was in my name and everyone used it.  When I attempted to collect the money to pay the bill, I was met with 'catch me next payday' which just never seemed to come.  I took the phone out. Well, actually I took out the three extensions (living room, downstairs kitchen and upstairs kitchen) and left only one phone in my bedroom.  That, in itself lowered my phone bill drastically since each extension was extra. Bedrooms were kept locked so nobody but me, or who I allowed, could use my phone.  One of the other guys quickly had a pay phone installed at the bottom of the stairs.  Each call was 25¢ and of course, the longer one talked, the more money they had to pay.  The only catch to having a pay phone in the house was somebody had to be there when the phone company came to collect the money. There was a minimum amount due each month or we had to make up the difference.  We never had to make up the difference.  Back then it seemed that if you called more than 2 blocks away from the phone's location, it was long distance.

My granddaughter found a picture of gasoline on Facebook where the prices were under $1.00, including premium.  On the picture was something to the effect of "Let's bring these prices back."  Wouldn't that be nice?  Oh, wait. While we're bringing gasoline down to 79¢ a gallon, why not bring it down to the price I remember buying it for my first car — a mere 25¢ per gallon. That's right!  $5 filled the tank and you got not only change back, but also Golden, TV, or Green Stamps and/or a voucher for a collectible piece of china or crystal.  Yes, even at those prices, I was able to get a 12 place setting of smoked crystal consisting of water glasses, champagne glasses, wine glasses, tumblers and shot glasses.  Should I mention the station attendants also cleaned the windows, pumped the gas, checked the oil and sometimes even the washer fluid!!  All that for free!  In the winter, if you were a regular, you could get a free analysis of your antifreeze!

I remember postage stamps were 3¢ and post cards with the postage already on them were only 1¢! Imagine, a postcard for only one penny!  One could buy a roll - that's right - A ROLL of 100 stamps for a mere $3.00.

My mind started to think how much more money I'd have today if we could go back to those days where prices were 'reasonable.'  BUT, the gas station owners wouldn't make much money.  Butchers and grocery store employees would be on Welfare to make ends meet.  The rules are simple, I couldn't make the money I make today.  I'd have to face the reality of a paycheck of less than $100 a week, probably under $80.

The good ol' days are only good if you can have the best of both worlds.  The prices of back then with the income of today. The simplicity of back then with the conveniences of today. Now wouldn't that be nice?

Yeah, memory lane is a great place to stroll, but, unfortunately, you can only stroll there.  You can't live there, but only visit for short lengths of time.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bucket List

The Bucket List - what a great concept. We've all got a bucket list... that itemized list of things we want to do before we move to the next great experience.  I really never gave it much thought to making a bucket list because ... well ...

I was a newly released boot-camp, naive sailor going home for two weeks of leave before my first duty station.  I was on a flight and had a retiring Navy Chief sitting beside me.  Some people will give you advice whether you request it or not. This chief was no different but his words would actually shape my future.

The Navy will teach you anything you want to learn, you only need to be a vessel to the experience.

At first I thought it was a pretty cryptic (and creepy) message but as I considered it over the next few days, weeks, months and years, I came to realize that he had condensed the meaning because, for him, his whole world had been the Navy.  I was not thinking of being a "Lifer" - the guy who makes the service a living.

No, for me, I had to change the phrase just a tad:  The WORLD will teach...

Sure, the Navy taught me many things.  I was an interpreter in the Navy.  I was taught Russian.  While at the language institute, I also learned a smidgen of several other languages like Swahili, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese, Japanese, Arabic, Italian, French, Polish and the list goes on for almost another 20 languages.  I learned basic words in those "other" languages, like numbers and simple things like "help," "thank you," "please," "tourist," and a few other useful terms.  Now Russian, on the other hand, I was involved almost 24/7.  At one point I'd almost forgotten English.

Anyway, I also learned several other things while in the Navy which stretched my personnel record to a major thickness.

After the military, I used that philosophy and continued to reap the profit of the world, learning anything that anybody was willing to teach me.  I met a well-known TV show celebrity chef and he taught me the basics of cooking.  I "trapped" my wife cooking up a meal of spicy pork chops, twice-baked potatoes, seasoned carrots and a peach dessert to die for.  I have cooked for groups of upwards of 100 people.

Of course, one must give back and since I love to camp, I was involved with Boy Scouts for several years while my four sons grew up.  Even my wife was involved since we had no daughters.  I have probably taught close to 70 boys how to cook meals beyond the simple hot dogs or hamburgers.  We would have Christmas dinners for the scout troop and I had the boys make such things of Amaretto Chicken, Pork Chop l'Orange, Rumple-de-thump Potatoes, MawMaw Carrots, tossed salads w/ homemade dressings and even homemade ice creams like pistachio or peppermint.  Imagine my surprise when one mother thanked me profusely for teaching her son how to cook at camp. He came back from summer camp and prepared their family a full meal and she was very impressed.  Another boy taught his mother how to make pizza in a cardboard box when their electricity went out.

But my bucket list.  Well, I never considered it a bucket list - just a lot stuff I learned.  So, what do I want to add to my bucket list now that I'm reaching 68 yrs in age?

My life has been very fulfilling.  I've done so many things, many things most people would never consider and as my room mate of the late 60s would say: Do everything at least once and if you like it, do it again.  I've done a lot of things and done them twice or more times. LOL.

What do I want to add to my bucket list.  I want to attend the weddings of all my grandchildren and see the birth of all my great grandchildren.  I'd like to win the lottery.  Not the BIG lottery.  I don't need all that cash. I'll be happy with the 5 white balls.

I'm published but it would be nice to see one of my books make the top 10 nationwide, but, then again, I would be happy just to be a known author.

Oh, yeah, and like all the contestants of the Miss America pageants say: World peace.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, November 10, 2014

The $62 Turkey

It was Saturday night, and again, my wife dragged me to... okay, I'll be honest. She didn't drag me, in fact, I drove her and her sister to what they call "A Feather Party" in this neck of the woods aka NW Ohio.

What is a feather party?  It's a night of bingo with the chance of winning either a frozen turkey or a frozen chicken.  It works like this: You win a bingo and are the only person to have a bingo - you get a turkey. But, if more than one person yells bingo, then all the winners get chickens.

Now, we're not talking about a 30 pound turkey or 12 pound chickens. We're talking the little ones. You know, where the turkey is a whopping 12 to 14 pounds and the chickens are killers at 5 pounds.

It's for charity.  The Lion's Club in West Unity, Ohio (and several other nearby communities) have this event to raise funds. One year I think three or four of the clubs all had it on the same night - and nobody but the players won.  Each club had just a few players.  Nowadays the clubs coordinate with each other and decide which day they will have their feather party.  There were probably close to 300 people there on Saturday night.

So, why do I go?  I normally play one board of bingo... BUT they have great food.  Sandwiches, soups, chips, crackers, pop or water and oooooh, such a selection of desserts.

Bingo starts at 6pm.  If you're not there by 4:30pm, seating can get a little gamey.  We arrived 4:35pm and was able to find an open cluster of empty chairs for the group to sit.  GROUP?  Yes, this is a family affair.  My mother-in-law has attended this function since its inception except for the last two years.  When you consider she is 102 yrs old, that woman has been going to this for a long time.  They miss her.  But, a couple of her daughters (my wife is one of them), a couple of my sons, some of my grandchildren, some nieces and nephews -- we can go from 10 to as high as 25 or 30, depending on who shows.  Last night was a slow night, only 11 people.

Now, why the title of "The $62 Turkey" and what does it mean?

Last year, the caller's wife participated as a bingo player.  She had a couple of her grandchildren and was paying for their games.  You can play more than one board but each board costs $.25 each per game.  She finally won a turkey but as he admitted, it cost $62 for that 12 pound, 11 ounce turkey.  He could have bought that same turkey for under $15 or gotten a really big one for about $27.

Last night, my wife and I spent a whopping $35 and won -- Nada!  Nothing! No turkey or chicken. As a consolation, we did, indeed, win door prizes.  My wife got a red platter, 4 stone coasters and a bag of Dum Dum lollipops. My son won something and a bag of candy circus peanuts which he gave to me.  I won a glamour Barbee doll and a bag of Dum Dum lollipops.  The guy sitting next to me left early and gave me his door prize number and if he'd had stayed, would have won a child's plastic golf bag w/ a putter, 2 clubs, and 3 golf balls. Also, a glow-in-the-dark child's fishing rod and fishes.  I got to claim them.  Did we win the big door prize.  Yeah, right.  Like I'd have a chance of winning the robotic vacuum, the solid cherry wood book shelf unit, the proof set of silver coins or the weekend stay at the local Holiday Inn.  Remember me? The guy would couldn't win a bingo game?

Overall, it was a fun night, met some new people and had a great time.  Can't say I didn't win anything but then again, EVERYONE won a door prize of some sort.

Sometimes Lady Luck is standing behind you and whispering in your ear. Other times, she has just finished beating the crap out of you and is sitting on you.  I guess I could have tried for that $62 turkey but would it have tasted that much better?  I doubt it and I'm not spouting sour grapes.

I guess I should take the opportunity of spending an evening with the family and friends together as a good thing and forgetting the idea of losing money.  Plus, I was able to outline more of a novel, and get most of this written, too.  I spent $35 and had a blast - I'd call that an even return... maybe even a better deal.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Junkie

Hi.  My name is Bob Nailor and I'm a NaNoWriMo junkie.

Today is November 3rd and it has been 339 day since my last hit.  I don't know how much longer I can continue to ignore the call. I gave up NaNoWriMo - swore off it when I finished my story last year on November 29, 2013.  I promised never, ever to attempt to write 50k words in 30 days again during November in celebration of National Novel Writing Month.  I had gleaned the coveted "Winner" title twelve (12) times in the last 12 consecutive years.

[takes a deep breath]

My first incursion into NaNoWriMo was an utter failure. It was the year 2000 and my friend, Terri, suggested we try this writing challenge.  It was new and sounded interesting and she, I and about 3 others formed an online group (she was from Oregon, me in Ohio, another 2 from California and 1 from Texas) to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I attempted, of all things, a story cookbook.  One does not attempt to write a cookbook with recipes when participating in NaNoWriMo.  I only got about 35k words completed.  I was determined and set my goal for the following year... but, it was not to be.  Terri passed shortly after NaNoWriMo.  Then my father passed away in October right before the event would begin and I had too many other details to handle and I didn't even hear about NaNoWriMo.

If only it had remained that way... but, noooo.

The year was 2002 and my buddy, Zaapiel, lured me into brooding dark alleys of NaNoWriMo with a challenge.  I have problems with being challenged - I accept.  We met with others in Toledo and I became addicted.  So it has been these last dozen years.

I'm a NoNoWriMo addict.

[deep sigh]

I have made it a total of 2 full days into November this year and not written any words in an attempt to make my goal of 1667 words per day.  [shakes head]  That's a lie!  I have to be honest. I'm a big user.  My goal has been 1700 words each day since 2003 so I always know I'll hit the 50k with some words to spare at the tally verification moment. 1700 x 30 = 51,000.  I call it my 1700 fix.

Even now, this little mini-fix (blog) is causing my fingers to twitch.  I can't fight the sensation.  I have to try, I have to put to words and create another story that will languish in the cyber-space of my "writing" directory of my computer.

[stands proudly]

I can't say that NaNoWriMo has been all bad.  Three of my books, scribbled in the haste and darkness of night during the month of November have seen publication. My first was 2012: Timeline Apocalypse, my second was Ancient Blood: The Amazon and the third, Pangaea, Eden Lost.  A fourth, An Amish Voice, is currently with an agent seeking publication.

Now, if anyone would look at my schedule, they'd gasp in awe that a sane(?) man would even consider the rigors of attempting this feat today.  I have a novel of my own I have been editing in an attempt to release it before the end of the year.  In addition, I am awaiting two clients' manuscripts for editing - both of them novels which should arrive in today's mail or over the next couple of days.  PLUS, I offered to scan and edit a book for a friend.  My wife is a saint, but sometimes I press my luck.  I guess now would be the perfect time to mention that I also have a family who will be coming to celebrate Thanksgiving - I mean, 4 sons, their wives and all my grandchildren - all eight grandchildren!  Oh wait, some of the older grandchildren will also be bringing their boyfriends and girlfriends.

I can't squirrel myself into a back room and ignore them all for the holidays ... or can I?

OMG!  That's like four (4) days!!!  Without writing?  That's 6800 words!  And at the end of the month when time-crunching is imperative.  I just glanced at the calendar -- this is bad.  Thanksgiving comes at the very end of the month and there are no extra days after the 4 day holiday.  November 30th is Sunday.

[eyes widen in realization]

I'd only have mere hours on Sunday night after everyone leaves to catch up and try to finish before the Cinderella hour tolled.

[sweat breaks out on forehead and trembles course the body]

The challenge!  The challenge!

Maybe, just maybe, if I attempt it one more time and failed.  Maybe, possibly I would be cured and I would be free of this November curse once and for all.

Hmm?  I have this story rattling around in my head. It is a sequel to An Amish Voice.  Of course, there are a couple of other stories haunting the corners of my mind, too.

Oh, who am I kidding?  If I start now and do a little over 2k words each day and finish BEFORE Thanksgiving, I could easily get 50k words accomplished.  I could socialize with the family and not be the guy huddled in the corner trying to write. I could--

[a simpering glow of ecstasy overcomes me]

Well, I almost made it.  I mean, two whole days.  To quote an old-time (from my youth) Sunday morning comic strip "Snuffy Smith" -- Times a'wastin!

Yes, I'm going to get my NaNoWriMo fix YET AGAIN.  Now to make a snap decision - which of the myriad of stories banging around inside my brain am I going to pursue?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Villains, Sex Fiends and Zombies, Oh My!

Writing is a difficult thing.  Sometimes one must step back to see the whole picture because all the focus is on one aspect.  Let me explain.  As writers, we have a difficult time with characters, scenes and sentence structures.  Villains are characters.  Sex Fiends are scenes.  Zombies will address a sentence structure issue.

Villains.  They're the bad guys in a story.  I read a novel which described the character in this manner:

She was the vilest creature to ever walk the earth. She oozed evil, walked in darkness and only thought of the bad things she could do.

Now think about that. Can you visualize a character that is so vile that she would ooze evil, slink about in the dark and spend her waking hours thinking of bad things to do?  Suddenly, the Grinch looks like a saint.

Bad people don't exist.  People who do what others consider bad things, do exist.  Let me explain.  I'm a church-going, upstanding citizen of the community, family man and a successful businessman.  I decide to beat the stray dog which has been getting into my garbage can and strewing it over all the yard.  I get caught in the act.  I'm an terrible (aka bad) person because, in the eyes of those around me, I am hurting an innocent creature.  I don't see my act as wrong.  I'm trying to remedy a situation.  There were other options open to me -- such as putting out poison, shooting the dog, or possibly using a trap.  Okay, the last one might be considered more humane if it didn't involve a leg-hold trap.

The bottom line is simple.  I'm considered evil.  But, wait a minute, I don't consider myself evil.  I see myself as really a very nice guy.

In reality, what villain considers himself evil?  Only in a campy movie does the villain walk about the room, squinting their eyes in slyness, tittering or laughing evilly and rubbing their hands together in glee at the prospect of doing something dastardly.

Villains are regular people.

Sex Fiends.  You have a character who is involved in bed to bed to bed sex acts.  How can you write those scenes without blushing or ignoring the incident?  Trust me, the "he swept her off her feet, holding her in his arms, kissing in a deep embrace while kicking the bedroom door open with his right foot. The next morning..." days are long gone.  There are savvy readers and a savvy writer can create the mood for the sex scene and not write it... unless it is porn which demands details. A good writer can avoid the awkward details.

Enter a helpful skill set: Afterglow. Let the characters get hot and heavy and move to the bedroom THEN break.  Enter Afterglow.  By using the sequence after the sex, you can allow the reader to fill in the blanks.  Consider this:  He pushed the stray lock of hair behind her ear. Her eyes flickered open and he smiled. "Good morning, beautiful. Did you sleep well?" She smiled and traced her index finger down the side of his face. "Last night was incredible." They kissed. "Just you wait," he whispered and jumped out of bed. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes with an incredible breakfast." He stopped at the door and smiled wickedly. "And then..." He disappeared.

The above allows us to see them in the morning after an evening of what apparently seems to have been a good night of sex.  Of course, written another way, it could have been different...

He lay there, panting. "Was it good for you?" He took a deep breath. She pulled the sheet closer and moved to the edge of the bed. "Yeah, I guess," she whispered. He cast a glance in her direction. "You probably got to get home. How about I give you $20 for cab fare." He grabbed the opened beer, guzzled and then wiped his mouth with his bare arm. "Being a stud tonight has worn me down." He laughed, reached over and slapped her butt. "Maybe we'll meet up again next Friday night - interested?"

Obviously, a totally different result of an interlude.  Afterglow can be the vehicle to move beyond the act and allow you to describe how the scene was played.  In the first example, it is easy to see that they have a mutual respect for one another and there is a tenderness involved.  The second example reveals a more brutal, casual meeting with the male being a complete jerk.

Zombies.  No I"m not going to discuss horror or even the creature.  What I am going to discuss is what most writers find very difficult.  Active versus passive sentence structure.  Zombies will help us in the cause.  How?  These "writing" zombies, just like the horror zombies, want action.  They want active sentences, not passive ones.  It is an easy thing to do... add "by zombies" to the sentence to see if it is passive.  If the sentence makes sense with "by zombies" added, then more than likely, the sentence is passive.

Mary was given the award.
Mary was given the award by zombies.  <-- this sentence is passive!
Mary was given by zombies the award.  <-- still passive sentence!

Mary gave the award to John.
Mary gave the award to John by zombies. <-- doesn't make sense, sentence is active!
Mary gave by zombies the award to John. <-- still doesn't make sense, sentence is active!

Zombies may be the living dead but they know their sentence structure and want it to be active!

Writers will meet up with all types of strange creatures on the path to finalize the manuscript whether it be an article, a short story, a poem or even a full length novel.  Villains, Sex Fiends and Zombies are just 3 that can make the path an easier road to follow.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Texting - The New Whispering

Remember when Billy would lean over and whisper into Johnnie's ear about something.  All the while, Johnnie was watching you and then, suddenly the two would burst into laughter?  Or how about when Eileen whispered to Alice and she wrinkled her nose while staring at you.

You felt left out and the butt of the joke.

You were taught it was rude and inappropriate to whisper when somebody else was in the room, even if the secret wasn't about them.  Still, there were those who felt it was the only way to discuss a matter of sudden urgency that you didn't need to know.

Today?  There's a whole new way to do this and it is just about as impolite as actually whispering in another's ear.


I first noticed this a few years back while I still was a member of the work force.  I'd attended an office meeting with approximately ten other co-workers.  We sat around a large table with our Blackberrys to take notes.

DINK-DINK.  I had a text message.  I discreetly brought it up and read the note.  My one co-worker, sitting across the table from me had sent: Can you believe this blowhard? 

Stupidly, I replied: At least the coffee is hot.

Several more texts were passed before I realized the speaker was now noticeably watching us.  I smiled at the speaker and turned off my Blackberry and became more studious of what was being said.  My co-worker, instead, found a new connection, the person to my left.  They texted for several minutes until she burst out laughing.  Our boss asked us ALL to put our Blackberrys away and to take hand-written notes.

The "whispering" didn't stop there.  I started to notice more and more indications of whispering.  Two young girls, sitting in front of me on the public bus, sat, enthralled with their phones, texting.  Rather than talking so others could hear them, they were texting each other and giggling.  So, if you're in a public place and see two or three people actively texting on the cellphones, giggling or nodding while giving you that strange look, you might be the brunt of their high-tech whispering. Just remember, the whole world isn't out to get you, just part of it.

Anyway, at that moment I thought I'd seen it all, two people sitting side-by-side and not talking, but texting to communicate.

I was wrong!

My son, his wife, and their daughter got new cellphones.  They came to the house for a social get-together - I think it was either Thanksgiving or Easter.  My son was sitting in the living room with me and his wife and daughter were in the kitchen with my wife.  He took a message and replied.  I didn't think too much of it.  Every so often, he'd text something to somebody.  My granddaughter's boyfriend showed up and we were all in the living room.  Yup, my granddaughter was texting her father, mother and boyfriend.  The four of them were having separate conversations.  Were they about me or my wife?  I don't know, I didn't care.  They were all using my wi-fi so I realized that I had control.  My other kids and their kids showed up and everyone - except me - seemed intent on texting each other.  Grandkids were texting grandkids, my sons were texting their wives or kids and vice-versa.  It didn't matter, nobody was really talking. I knew what I had to do.

Next social get-together, their phones didn't work.  They didn't connect to my wi-fi automatically, even though they'd been given the password prior and saved it.  I'd changed the password.  As they tried to connect and couldn't, they'd ask for the password.  I told them that once everyone was present, I'd give them the new password.  I used the ploy of not wanting to have to repeat is that many times.

With the family all present, I established the rules of the house.  We were gathering for a social event.  To make it a social event, we needed to talk, not text, each other.  I'd be willing to share the password on the condition there was no texting between family members or over-socializing on social media while at my house.  Everyone sheepishly agreed and I gave the new password.  They connected so their phones would work.  Now, when they visit, the phones stay pretty much in the purses or pockets and there is verbalization between family members.

I even caught one grandchild leaning over to whisper in another's ear!  All three of us giggled. Sure, it was rude, but at the same time, it was nice to see kids talking to each other, not texting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Numbers! Stats! Geek Mode!

First, I'd like to thank all the people who have taken the time to read my writing tips that I offer each week at my author webpage:

I was checking my stats. Yeah, looking at the numbers.  I track several of my pages so I can have some inkling of what my visitors are interested in and what they really want.


Just offhandedly, I'd say there is a lot of interest in Character Details and/or Descriptions.

Imagine my shock.  My writing tip of November 25, 2013, about Character Details has had just under 10,000 views. Yeah, I was impressed and then the old cost accountant analyst in me kicked in and I started playing with the numbers.

Today is October 13, 2014.  Not even a full year has passed.  So, if we take away 31 days from November 25, 2014, it would be October 25, 2014.  Now subtract 13 from 25 for another 12.  31+12=43 days and we subtract that from 365, gives us a remainder of 322 days since that writing tip was published.

I've told you before, I'm a geek.  An old geek.  Deal with it.

Continuing on.  If we take the exact number 9891 visits and divide that by 322 days -- that gives us 30.7 visits per day as an average.


I have people visiting this particular writing tip on an average of 30 times per day.

That is awesome information.  If we just divided the number by 11 (number of passed month) is 899.1 visits per month.  Almost 900 visits to this one page per month.  SHOCK!

Several other pages had very high visitation counts and I won't bore you with the numbers except for one which I found to rather curious.  My novel, "2012: Timeline Apocalypse" has had almost 3k views.  The book was released on October 10, 2010.  Surprisingly, the last time somebody viewed that particular page was October 5, 2014 at 8:36 AM.  The novel is about the Mayan calendar's "end of time" and is a great read.  Of course, it is fantasy since the world didn't end back then.  I still believe the cartoon I saw with two Mayans working on the calendar is probably the closest to the truth.  One asked: Why'd you end it on that date?  The other replied: Because I ran out of stone and won't be around to worry about it.

I've only been tracking the page views for about two years so some of the older pages, like my "2012" novel, don't truly reflect the proper counts. In fact, several of my writing tips, at the very beginning, don't have accurate numbers, but those from 2013 are correct.

Once more I have to thank all my readers.  These numbers are an inspiration to keep me writing a weekly tip to help authors, both old and new, learn and expand their writing horizons.  Hmm?  Maybe I'll do a tip on creating a character for this week's writing tip.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, October 6, 2014

FREE Book Followup

One could say that last Wednesday, October 1, was a disaster, a collision of accident just waiting to happen.

First, I scheduled it for the first of the month which happened to fall in the middle of the week.  THAT was the plan.  BUT, plans get changed.  I knew that I'd basically be open and free that particular day to really keep an eye on what was happening.

Remember.  THAT was the plan.

I also scheduled myself for a coffee chat with an old friend.  I scheduled my car for an oil change, tire rotation, tune up and factory recall check.

My wife decided we should go camping that week.  That one caught me off-guard.  It would be fun to go camping, sitting in the autumn air, lazing by the lake, an easy life.  I could get some editing done on a book.

Oh, wait!  No Internet at the campground.  Okay, there IS Internet at the campground, right outside the main office on the somewhat covered patio.  No electricity, though.  Not that it really mattered, but if you were more than 20 feet from the front door, there was no Internet connection available... just an intermittent connection of one-bar strength.  Did I mention that the main office was on the OTHER side of the lake?  About a 3 mile drive.  Okay, not a killer-sized distance but still, not very convenient when forced to drive at the posted speed of 10 mph for about half of the distance.

So, I went into town (about 40 mi) and did the coffee thing.  The car dealership called late the night before to cancel my appointment since they didn't have a loaner car for me.  I was able to access the Internet at the cafe.  Yay!

I returned home from the camping trip late Friday night.  I have pieced together these figures.

I started a campaign one week in advance with some Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.

I posted at 15 social media sites via Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and GoodReads to get the word out the day of the free giveaway.

I tweeted during the day and had several (from what I can tell, about 30) friends also tweet, retweet the information both before and during the event.

I "sold" a total of 89 books.  That's right.  I gave away a whopping EIGHTY-NINE books.

No reviews... YET.  Although I have had one person tweet that she is reading the novel and has figured out just who she hates the most in the group.  At least I know somebody is reading it.

Of course, the book did make it up to #19 position at one point.  Since I was unable to check the Internet late at night, I didn't get to see all the numbers.  My wife's phone has Internet but I think the mobile version of Amazon doesn't have all the bells and whistles - I never saw a ranking position, even after the event until I got back home on my computer.  Unfortunately, that was real sales and now, it is sinking miserably into oblivion.

Now, I do want to mention one tidbit.  The book may have done even better, that I don't think I'll ever know, but for the ranking that was sent to me where I was in position #19, I could see 10 other books on the image and they all had one thing in common that my book didn't have.  They all had reviews!  Not just 3 or 5 but upwards of hundreds of reviews.

I feel that my unknown book was rubbing elbows with other books which had status reviews, most of them averaging well over 4 stars. For my book with 0 (zero) reviews to be in the top 20 books and #20 had 179 reviews - I think that is something to crow about.  #18 book had 342 reviews.

Perhaps if my book had had reviews, it might have done better.  Maybe not.  Who knows?

Will I put Pangaea, Eden Lost up for free again?  Probably not.

Why?  I wanted to get my name out there.  I sort of succeeded in that endeavor with 89 people now holding a copy of the book.  In addition, within that book, are sample reads of three of my other novels that are available: Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold, Ancient Blood: The Amazon, and 2012 Timeline Apocalypse.  Perhaps they will be intrigued enough to purchase those books.  Also, if I'm lucky, word of mouth will help the sales of Pangaea, Eden Lost and I'll see a profit from this endeavor.

So, with crappy planning on my behalf in so many areas, I would still say this could be a positive action.

Tell you what... In about two months I'll do an update to this and see where it stands. Call me Pollyanna but I'm hoping for great results of this adventure.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, September 29, 2014

FREE Book - Pangaea, Eden Lost

Time to test the waters and see what all the hoopla is about.

I was told by a friend and it became a mantra...


I'm breaking that rule, but first let me explain.

Years ago, I was writing and sending my stories to markets that paid absolutely nothing. Why?  Simple.  They would print me, I was getting published.  A friend took me aside and explained.  "Of course they'll print your stuff, you're giving it to them for free. You should be getting paid for your stuff, you're a good writer."

I finally wrote my first novel and it was published by a small publisher.  I made money and life was good.

I wrote my second novel. After several rejections, I decided to self publish.  I read everything I could about doing self-publishing and discovered John Locke's novel and how to sell my book for $.99.

Once more my friend came to my rescue. "Bob, you spent how much time writing this book?  Do you feel that $.99 is valid price.  What's your royalty? $.35?"

It was then I realized that I was practically giving my book away.  Maybe John Locke could do that but then again, John Locke was a millionaire BEFORE he started writing.  He had a "fan" base already established and some of them were very notable people. At that time, and even today, I didn't hob-nob with the rich and famous and I certainly had no way of swaying the owner of a major television or radio station to give me an interview.

So, I sell my books at a higher price. Maybe if I sold them at $.99 I'd sell more but I doubt it.


Amazon offered me the opportunity to list my book "Pangaea, Eden Lost" for free.  They gave me five (5) days in a three (3) month period to do this.  I saw no reason to give my book away - my mantra had kicked in.  I was worth more than free.

So, as an experiment, after reading about a gentleman who offered his book free for one day only, gave away over 10K copies.  He was releasing another book soon and wanted to get his name "out there."

Okay, I'm about to release a new book which I am finishing up and out in the next 30 days.  

So, "Pangaea, Eden Lost" is going to be free on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Will I give away a lot of copies?  This is the test.  Maybe next week I can tell you how it all unraveled and my plot to saturate the reading world with my latest novel and get my name noticed - failed.  Maybe next week I can tell you that my plot was a grand explosion to amaze me beyond belief.

If you've suffered this far - be sure to click this link on Weds - and Weds ONLY and make sure the price say $0.00 ... otherwise you'll be paying for the book and I'll be making some royalty.  Of course, if you pay for the book and I get royalty, you'll still get a great read - one worth every penny you accidentally spent. 

If you do download my book, please read it and if you would, please take the time to give it an honest review when you finish.  Thanks.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eating A New Year's Resolution

October 1, 2014: My novel, "Pangaea: Eden Lost," will be available for free ONE (1) day only.  This is a savings of $4.99 and a great read.  All I ask in return, please give it an honest review.

Hard to believe that over 2/3 of the year has passed already.  In fact, in just a few short weeks, the end of the month (September), it will be 3/4 of the year shot with only 3 more months left until the end of the year.

Where did the time go?

On January 1, 2014, I made a resolution to publish 4 (FOUR) books this year.

Only with sheer, pure luck and all the happy gods smiling on me will that happen.

Still, I am not off by that much.  I am currently cleaning up the edits for the 3rd novel to be published this year.  Three is not a bad number of books to release in one year.  And I know that I can do it... definitely three, for sure.

What caused me to miss my goal?  There were several factors.

1) Goofing off.  Worst thing to do.  Like the hare in the race with the tortoise, I was ahead of schedule (2 books done by May 1 and finalizing edits almost done of book 3). I knew I had all the time in the world to get the third book finished and finalize the fourth.  Wrong!

2) I had a couple of edit jobs that took away some of my time for writing.  Again, item 1 seemed to play a good part in this.  I was ahead of schedule.  I could edit 3 books for clients.  Right!  I had to edit a book of 76k, 89k and 103k.  I miscalculated my time needed since I was editing newbies, first timers and I wanted to be as thorough and fair as possible.

3) While working on the edits for my clients, I realized a major issue in my current novel I was trying to finish up for publication.  It was a major flaw.  You can't have a lead character who is led around by the other characters.  It became a major rewrite to correct the flaw and then a whole new edit process.  Remember?  I was ahead of schedule.  Suddenly I was behinder schedule more than I realized.  I was to be done with this book by July and publish it in August.  Again, wrong!  It is now September and I am just getting into the edit stage on it.  I should now be working on book 4.  I'm not, and book 4 has a lot of work to do!

4) Summer and life got in the way.  Contrary to popular belief, writers do have a life.  There are those other humans in the house that the writer must interact with and even socialize.  My wife is a saint and tends to allow me the luxury of writing but I'd forgotten that the grandchildren enjoy week stays with us.  You can't ignore grandchildren - especially the younger ones who are 4 and 5 and well, the 9 and 12 yr old ones also want to see you.  Day trips to do things and camping trips tend to take away time from writing.  The one redeeming grace I had was my older four grandchildren are over 18 and work so we didn't have to entertain them - although the one did come out for an evening at the campfire.

5) Of course, there is this blog and I also do a weekly writing tip which take a bit of time away.  Normally I can come up with a topic to write about for a writing tip, but this summer, I seemed to be distracted and the thought process was clogged and I struggled for ideas.  I usually release these project each Monday and Sundays became evenings and nights of terror as I strained to write viable blogs and tips.  One week, my blog and tip was released late into the day on Monday rather than shortly after midnight.  Can I blame the grandkids for this form of writer's block?  Nah.

Of course, as winter moves in, perhaps I might get lucky and find myself stuck in the house more and able to spend that time at the computer getting my writing done.

Hmm?  There is still three (3) months and a couple of weeks left to get things done and fulfill my resolution.  I might not get the book I chose finished, but I could do a different book. Maybe I shouldn't give up so easily. I realize I still have a big elephant sitting in front of me but the easiest way to eat that elephant is one bite at a time until it is finished.

Time for me get busy eating!

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scrivener - Again!

Scrivener.  I discovered this piece of software in the Spring of 2014, used the FREE 30-non-consecutive-day fully functioning program and fell in love.  It was exactly what I'd been looking for and for a PC user, this is a wonderful discovery.  Seems the Mac people have known about this for quite some time.

Anyway, there is a slight learning curve but once you get the basics, the extra bells and whistles are like more and more frosting on the cake ... or discovering a really cool toy in a box of Cracker Jacks.

One of the first things I learned and used heavily is the split screen.  Yes, I know, I can open several windows of Word and have it all available ... but I have to bounce through them and I have to FIND them. With Scrivener, my files and files of research are stored (full web pages, images, whatever) right within the project - there is no hunting for whatever-name-you-used file.  It's just a simple drop down to the left to the "Research" tab, click, and all the files you have saved are there for you.

I'm a visual guy and I will search the web (it has everything!) to find an image of what I think my character looks like - sometimes even two or three images.   For instance, I knew my inn-keeper was a largish male, bald, heavy mustache and eyebrows, apron, running around with a towel or rag on his shoulder, etc.  I found such an image. (Johan Steen, - this is a copy of his work in progress, the finished product is even better!)  I use the image strictly for me to use as a guide when describing Hvar, owner of The Red Horse Inn, in my current work-in-progress.  When I am stumped or confused about Hvar, I am able to click and see him and the creative juices flow. The same holds true for my other characters, locations, gods, etc.

Above to the left: Hvar, The Innkeeper and to the right, village with The Red Horse Inn.

Now this split screen is also very useful in combination with another feature of Scrivener. I can have the image up on side to use as a point of reference and the story on the other side. Talk about instant gratification.

The Snapshot. Using Snapshot, which is a copy of the project at a point in time, I can compare an older version with the current version or even replace the new version with the old version.  Snapshot(s) are my old way of saving versions where I used a sub-directory with a date so I knew when it was.  Again, no searching through file and piles of info, just scroll down the left.

There are too many wonderful aspects of Scrivener to describe how to use them in one blog.


I thought I'd reveal one trick I learned on my own.  I have several - and when I say several, I mean like about ten (10) works-in-progress going on at the same time.  I will work on whichever one my Muse decides strikes her fancy.  She's a coy and fickle one and I've learned to just go with the flow and work on what intrigues her at the time.

Now, from within Scrivener, I can switch out - bring up - any project I desire.  That is all and well but what if I am just opening Scrivener and want to work on XYZ and the last project I worked on was ABC and that will be the default project to open when Scrivener begins.  I found a work-around in Windows and I'm pretty sure it would also work in Mac.

Originally, I had my WIPs in Word and had created 'shortcuts' on my screen to those documents.  To mimic that - I open the project (.scrivx) of the desired file.  Since I keep my novels and stories in separate directories (i.e. C:\WIPs\story1\  and C:\WIPs\story2) the Scrivener "project.scrivx" file is in a directory with the filename of your choice (xyz.scriv) and in that directory is the "project.scrivx" file.  In fact, I've considered re-doing my files since Scrivener names each project and assigns it a diretory.  So my "WIPs" directory currently has several sub-dirs, each the name of book.  Scrivener has created a directory within those and I could easily let Scrivener create the sub-dir in WIPs.  Note to Self: Look into this aspect. (Anything to make my life as a writer easier!)

If you make "project.scrvx" the shortcut for your desktop icon, it will open Scrivener.exe automatically and default to the story of your choice.

I now have 10 Scrivener icons with different names of my of WIPs on my desktop that when I click, open the appropriate story to work on without having to select it inside Scrivener if it isn't the default opening file. Okay, so this tip isn't a mind-blower.  I'm proud of the fact that I discovered it on my own and I couldn't find anyone else who had come up with it.  Maybe others aren't as impatient as me when I start to write but I want the file I want to work on at the start, not click to get it.  Yes, I realize it is only one more click, but ...

PS: I have a gadget (widget, whatever) that I use which clears my desktop of all the icons and places them into scrolling folders.  My WIP shortcuts are stored there and easy access.  I think the product is called Launch Control and I've created folders, one which is "WIP" and holds all the direct-link icons to my writings.  Until I installed this widget, my screen was cluttered with about 60+ icons for applications, games and my work projects.  Now my screen is clear and Launch Control sits to the side, ready to do my bidding.

Until next I ramble on ...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flying to the Fire - An Interview with Elyse Salpeter

Today, I'm doing something I don't normally do: (1) Post outside my normal 'Monday' morning for the week, and (2) An interview.

Today, Saturday, August 30th, Elyse Salpeter is doing a special book launch. She is having contests, giveaways and whatnot.  She is not only on my blog, but her blog at where you can learn more about what is happening with the contests and giveaways.

Her latest release is "Flying to the Fire" and I want to focus a little on that and also the author.  So here is some of the questions I tossed at Elyse and she so politely tossed back with an answer ...

1.  Tell me about your book, Flying to the Fire. I realize it is a sequel to "Flying to the Light" which I read and thought it had a wonderful and unique concept for a story with birds and a boy who can see the afterlife.  So what was the inspiration for this story? 

This is actually a funny scenario. I wasn't going to even write a sequel at first. I felt that Book #1 ended in a great way and that there wasn't a sequel in me. But then the publisher I was working with suggested I reconsider and think about where I could take the novel. I decided having Danny only six years old in book #1 really limited his ability to drive the story, so I decided to make him thirteen years old in Book #2 and pick up where he left off with an entirely different tangent that I think readers will enjoy.

2.  Some authors agonize over a character's name. Are the names of characters in your novels important?

No, actually. I will admit to having a problem with this! I tend to like my main characters to have easy names. Maybe it’s because I personally have problems following who is who in books with a lot of characters. I find I make all my main leads have simple or generic names like  Mike, Chris, Sean, Jim. I do this so much that my editor will email me and gently coax me to “please change this character’s name – it’s too similar to your other books and to other characters IN the book!”

3.  Who would you rather write for - children or adults, and why?

I like to do both, even though I feel like my YA novels are still more geared towards adults. My prose is pretty simple so it’s easily read by kids, but I believe my topics are more adult in nature. I also find when write a novel geared strictly towards adults, I don’t have to be so “careful.” Meaning, my language can be a bit more colorful and I can be much freer with romantic relationships and any violence that occurs.

4.  You mentioned violence. Have you ever killed someone in one of your novels and regretted it later?  Details, please.

Yes, I have one dark fantasy novel,that I won’t name because it is a huge spoiler, where I killed a character. I’m not upset personally that the character died because it was how the novel played out. It made perfect sense and set up book #2, but some readers were really mad at me. My aunt actually called me up at work and yelled at me for ten full minutes. In fact, she hasn't read the sequel because she’s too afraid I’ll kill off another beloved character – though I have tried to assure her I have not!

5.  So, which do you find more embarrassing to write -- violence or sex?

Um, er, sex, for sure. I feel like I need to squint when I’m writing it, make sure no one is around and I have to peek at what I write through my fingers as they’re usually covering my face. I’ll tell you a funny story. Years ago, I wrote my first novel with tons of sex in it and sent it to my editor. I was so embarrassed that I actually never read her comments on those parts and just rewrote the entire scene instead. I don’t think to this day she actually knows this and it’s ridiculous because I paid her!

6.  Do you research for your novels - how involved, if so?

Sometimes I research a lot. In FLYING TO THE FIRE I had to study up on different kinds of insects and birds. I also did a lot of research for the series on electromagnetic waves, biochemical issues, and radio and mind waves. I’m terrible at physics -- not only do I quote Ampere’s Law in this book, but I actually have a working knowledge of it!

7.  With all that research, it would seem writer's block is not something you fret about. So, how do you overcome the dreaded writer's block when it does strike?

I simply put what I’m working on down and work on something else. When the muse isn't cooperating, I just let her have her tantrum until she’s ready to start again. There’s no sense in me forcing her – she never listens to me.

8.  Writing Muse?  How did you come to be interested in writing?

I always loved to write, but I wasn't always a good writer. I don’t know if I am a good writer yet, even, which is why I have editors and beta readers. But, I simply have all these story ideas in my head and I simply have to get them out.

9.  Now for something different. Can you tell us a secret about you that nobody knows?

A secret… one I haven’t put in print yet… sigh… this is embarrassing but I’m a huge Twilight fan. Bigger than most people know. I can watch those movies day in and day out and never get bored. They just make me so darn happy and I have no idea why! There, I said it. Go Team Edward!

10.  What are your future plans? What can we expect from you, the author, Elyse Salpeter?

Well, if all goes as planned, I have a horror novel I’m launching on Halloween called THE MANNEQUINS. I also hope to complete book #3 in the FLYING series next year, 2015. The tentative title is FLYING HOME.

11.  I figured you thought you were done by question 10, but I like to shake things up so, final question is: How do you handle yourself when an interview or a book review has gone bad?

LOL – they’re all good. Any exposure is good exposure, right? <wink, wink>

12.  Yeah, like we were finished but I forgot to ask - Is there anything you'd like to share that I didn't cover?

Yes, I love to hear from readers about what they think of the novels. If you’re interested in getting updates or information on special promotions, please feel free to join my enewsletter subscriber list here:

If you'd like to buy this exciting sequel - Flying to the Fire - it is available at: 
Amazon Ebook:

To purchase "Flying to the Light" - go to:

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, August 25, 2014


Edit Note: I usually post on Mondays but on Saturday, August 30th, I will do a special guest post with Elyse Salpeter's and her release of "Flying to the Fire." There will be prizes that day. Don't miss it!  It will be up for all of the following week.

This week I did something I've not been able to do for a couple of years.  

First, the explanation of why it has been so long. My mother-in-law will be 102 next month. She has lived with us for the last three years.  The past two years, she become more wanting to not leave the house. This last year, it became difficult for us to care for her. With a heavy heart, the family - my wife and her siblings - decided to put her in a nursing home. She has been there for a couple of months and is doing very well and enjoys living there.

Continuing with the explanation.  We travel.  We have an RV.  It's a 28-ft wonder I bought used when I retired so we could travel and travel we did.  It had just a little over 9k miles and is now sitting at 58k. The last time out, the three of us - my wife, my mother-in-law and I - were enjoying a trip through Michigan.  We'd just left a campground and I was attempting to cross an interstate, yes, 4 lanes, so I could take a rural road to a lesser used highway.  Anyway, my mother-in-law, aged 99 then, couldn't hear or see well and never seemed to know when the RV was running. My wife was up to get me a drink and Mom decided she would go to the potty. She got up and I didn't notice. There was a clearing in traffic and I lurched across the 4 lanes of interstate.  She tumbled down the aisle, ripping her paper-thin skin on her arm.  My only thought was - Where's the hospital?  We were out in the wilderness, sort of.  I knew there was a town about 20-30 miles down the road, but ...  They (my wife and her) decided it wasn't an emergency and put a large bandage on it with a lot of antiseptic stuff.  They seemed okay and we continued our trip.  The arm healed although it was a very large sore.  Of course, since that incident, her heart in traveling lessened and her leaving the house became a moot point. It was simple, I went out, my wife stayed home OR my wife went out, I stayed home.

Now, about two weeks ago, my wife and I decided we should take the RV and do a maiden voyage to test out the equipment that had lain dormant for over two years.  To make it even more memorable, we'd take our four youngest granddaughters along for the fun.  

Uh, yeah.  Fun.  We took a four year old, a five year old, a nine year old and a twelve year old camping. On an experimental trip, at that.  Fortunately, we only were about 25 miles from home at a state park.

We headed out Wednesday morning.  Shall I say that moment could have been our high point?

There was a 'water' leak which is still under investigation.  So, no water, but we could still use the toilet.  A gallon jug of water on the bathroom cabinet made sure everything flushed down.

We'd taken milk, fresh fruit, pizzas, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, bologna, fresh 'out-of-the garden' corn, tomatoes and beans, butter, chocolate bars and other assorted sundries along which needed refrigeration and freezing.  Bet'cha see where this is going!

Yup.  The refrigerator didn't work.  We questioned it before we left and were hoping it would kick in. It didn't.  We'd taken a cooler along as backup insurance.  Oh, yea!  Wet food.  Ice melts and food seems to sink immediately down into the water.

Yes, we had electric hookup but the refrigerator wouldn't acknowledge there was electricity.  It would acknowledge LP and the freezer section - a smaller upper section with it own door - didn't actually get to where it would freeze food, but kept it 'cool' - just a hop, skip and jump from cold.  Shall I say that the sausage and bacon were to be for breakfast on Thursday and Friday, not Wednesday night supper.

The stove's burners work and we were able to fix the food, like the sausage and bacon and whatever. Almost delightful, one would think.

Now about those pizzas I mentioned earlier.  They weren't frozen ... well, they were, but not for long, anyway. Since they didn't need to "thaw" anymore to bake, the baking time would be faster.  Of course, if the oven had worked, the baking time would have been short.  Unfortunately, the oven didn't work and the baking time didn't come into play.  My ingenious wife 'baked' them in the iron skillet she'd brought along. The all-meat pizza was sacrificed in the learning curve.  I can handle a crispy burn, but ...

The air conditioner worked.  See?  God does smile.

The awning wouldn't release so we couldn't get it open to sit under when the sun was shining.  Fortunately, there was a small tree with almost shade.  The gentleman at the campsite across from us came over to help me with the awning.  Whew!  It wasn't me!  He couldn't get it to release, either and I knew he knew what he was doing - his awning was extended.

I'm an old scout.  I started scouting when I was eight, being a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout and as an adult, I was an Assistant Scoutmaster, a Scout Master and finally a Commissioner.  I've been around the block.  I made 'bug juice' in the 5 gallon cooler, set it outside for the girls to get their drinks whenever they were thirsty.  Little did I know that 4 young girls would have an aversion to drinking 'bug juice' until I assured them that no bugs were used in the making of the refreshment.  I started with 2 gallons of Tang, when it got low, I added two gallons of fruit punch, then I replenished that mixture with pink lemonade.  This cooler keeps ice forever!  The next morning I added Tang again and followed it up with cherry drink, regular lemonade and finally some more fruit punch.  It is now Sunday night, we're back from the camping trip but the girls are in love with the bug juice and we've just kept adding different flavors including grape, tropical and lime.  Interesting flavor, I might add.

To save our sanity (at least my sanity) there was a playground very near the back of the RV and the girls spent much of their time playing on the different items there.  They made friends with other kids and strangely, even some adults - parents of the other kids.

Friday, we broke camp.  Cleaned up the site, made sure the fire was out and headed home.  

Not exactly the camping trip I wanted, but after two years, it could have been a lot worse.  My wife and I had a great time.  Like I say - A bad day camping is always better than a good day sitting at home.  Most of the fixes should be easy - as I tell my sons who I hope will help me fix them.  I have talented children.

My wife is already planning another trip - this time just the two of us - off to someplace exotic, like someplace up in Michigan again.  After all, I live in Ohio.

Until next I ramble on...