Dream Big, Sucka

Fun fact: The number one fear in America isn’t death, it’s public speaking.
Back when I was in college I competed on the Speech and Debate circuit. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t a non-stop orgy. Rather, the circuit consisted of some fun and odd people who were just really good at speaking in public. My takeaway from the experience – other than a truckload of trophies – was a complete lack of fear about public speaking, an ability to analyze my audience on the fly, and the ability to think on my feet.
All that experience and a Master’s Degree in Speech Communication with an emphasis in rhetoric and persuasion led me neatly into my career as a programmer.
Anyway, part of competition was judging the state high school speech tournament that was alway held at my college because reasons. Some performances were great, some were abysmal, most were middle of road and fully expected for a bunch of kids that are trying to learn the art. No matter who it was or what they were talking about, I always had to give props to people who were not only willing to ignore their innate fear of public speaking, but to kick its ass and leave it bleeding in alley somewhere. Most performances blend into the background, there were a lot of speeches about banning nuclear weapons or how censorship is bad or the unreported number of people who are maimed or killed by farm equipment every year. I even saw a speech about how we need to change the metal used in keys because people chewing on their keys can get metal poisoning from them. It literally affects five or six people a year. Bad speech, good presentation.
But one of the speeches that stands out in my head was a young woman from some New Mexico high school who wrote a speech on why we should have easy-to-achieve dreams. Her general gist was it made life more interesting when you dream small because then you can achieve those dreams easily.

Interestingly enough, I see a lot of the same philosophy coming out of the indie writing community. We’ve all seen the person who says they’re happy if a handful of people read and enjoy their books and that’s enough of a dream for them.

I write about a book a year. I know it looks like I haven’t written anything in a few years, but that’s just because I’ve got one going through publication and another I’m editing. My average still hits right around a book a year, you’re just going to have to wait until next year to read the new one. A year doesn’t seem all that long, but it takes hundreds of hours to pull a book together, write it, edit it, leave it alone for a while, edit it again, get it read, edit it again, format it, edit it again, and get it out to publishers. After all that work, would you be happy with having a few people read and enjoy it? Of course not. I want the world to read it and enjoy. Preferably multiple worlds. That’s my dream. Having a handful of people read and enjoy something I wrote is great, don’t get me wrong, but having that as your dream is like setting a goal of getting the dishes into the sink every night.
So this is a little shout out to the indie writing community. Y’all are awesome. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Imagine the thrill of writing that best-selling novel instead of the thrill of just getting the dishes done. And don’t tell me it can’t be done or there’s too much competition or piracy or whatever. Quit looking for reasons why you can’t and start looking for reasons why you can.

Dreams are meant to be big. They’re meant to be grandiose and amazing. They’re the things we strive for and, if they’re important enough to us, the things we find a way to make happen. Don’t fret about chewing on keys and don’t waste your time with tiny dreams of getting to work on time or getting a raise or a better house. Dream of your work being you and your book. Dream of owning a drug-dealer-esque mansion filled with samurai armor and a pool with a swim-up bar in your living room. Go nuts. Then find a way to make it happen and instead of this:

You’ll have this:

Now go do it.

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WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

On the way to work this morning, I noticed semis hauling new propeller blades, presumably out to the wind farm on the cap rock over on the eastern side of the state where the wind blows constantly. I don’t know a whole lot about the wind farm out there other than those turbines are massive, far larger in person than you’d expect them to be. Imagine Pacific Rim’s Jaegers and you’ll get an idea of how big those things are. They cost a small fortune to put up, but they provide electricity as long as the wind is blowing. Since this is eastern New Mexico, you can assume the wind is always blowing. They don’t run on fossil fuels, they don’t generate pollution, they just sit out there and make electricity all day like bosses.

Electricity is a fact of life these days and the need for it is only going to increase. All those electric cars need juice. Cell phones need juice. TVs and air conditioners and lights and all the other things we rely on daily need electricity. Traditionally, this electric generation has been handled by burning coal – in fact there’s still a coal-powered plant up near Farmington that generates a lot of the power for the Four Corners area. The problem with coal is the same problem we’re seeing with oil, it’s getting harder and harder to find it. Sure, there’s probably plenty of it out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be cheap or easy to extract. In fact, as I understand it, all those deep south coal mines didn’t shut down because of the environmental lobby, they shut down because the mines are empty. No more coal. No more jobs.

Not to mention the pollution generated from burning the stuff.

So enter, strangely enough, Texas. Normally when you think environmentalism, Texas isn’t the first state that pops to mind. Which just goes to show, maybe some of our preconceived notions aren’t always accurate.

Texas has traditionally generated most of its power from natural gas and coal. But, with coal use dwindling, for the first time ever, Texas has generated more electricity from wind farms than from coal. In fact, wind power is second only to natural gas in energy production in Texas. While it’s probable that were economic initiatives like staying cool in the summer at stake more than a desire to curb global warming, that’s a heck of cool thing.  The fact that it helps the environment is, of course, another net positive.

Wind power: News that doesn’t suck. It blows.

Read the whole story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented co-hosts this month are
Shilpa Garg,
Simon Falk,
Damyanti Biswas
Lizbeth Hartz
Eric Lahti

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

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And now your moment of Zen

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck


Depending on who you listen to, climate change will either be the end of humanity or it’s a hoax invented by the Chinese because reasons. Some people dedicate their lives to fighting global climate change by complaining endlessly about industry while others give up straws for a week and call it good. Still others ignore every bit of evidence and claim it’s not happening. But, the sad fact of the matter is, the world’s climate is changing. It’s getting warmer. Weather is getting weirder. None of this is exactly debatable. What is debatable is how much of the problem is human causes (likely a lot) and what we can do about it (probably not much).

If that sounds glum, sorry.

Now, as I said, most people put on a shirt with some environmental message and claim they’re fixing the world. Then there’s David Gilmour.

If you don’t know who David Gilmour is, I’m very disappointed in you. He was the lead guitarist for Pink Floyd. If you don’t know who Pink Floyd is, I’m utterly disappointed in you.

Gilmour recently sold off some of his guitar collection for a whopping $21.5 million and donated all of it to a charity that’s fighting climate change. Kind of makes slapping some bumper stickers on your car and wearing a save the planet T-shirt look pretty lame, right?

Although, to be fair, most of us don’t have a guitar collection worth $21.5 million lying around. Also, to be fair, it’s gonna take more than one person’s guitar collection to change the world and every little bit helps. So, keep on using reusable straws, wearing save the planet T-shirts, and plastering your car with environmental bumper stickers. Rhetoric can be just as powerful a weapon as money.

And if you happen to have a collection of important, classic guitars lying around, feel free to sell them and donate the money to charity. Either way, shine on you crazy diamond. And if you haven’t listened to Pink Floyd, for the love of god, go do it now.

Read the whole story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented co-hosts this month are
Sylvia McGrath,
Susan Scott,
Shilpa Garg,
Eric Lahti,
and Belinda Witzenhausen.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

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And now, your moment of Zen.

ninja

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

Contrary to what most people think, the American system of incarceration – and possibly the world’s – isn’t predicated on the notion that jail is revenge. It’s supposed to punishment, sure, but in addition to safely stowing away people who could cause harm to society, incarceration is supposed to be about paying for a crime. One would think after a jail sentence, the crime might still be there, but it has been paid for. Done. And, arguably, the person who was in jail should no longer be considered a criminal.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works and we see lots of people shrieking “I hope you get raped in prison” at everyone who gets tossed in the can. As if gang rape was part and parcel of the criminal justice system. To make matters worse, once an inmate is released, it’s difficult to get a job and go straight because even though the crime has been technically paid for, former inmates are still considered criminals in the eyes of society. This leads to high recidivism rates because, hey, if you can’t get a job it’s damned hard to get luxuries like food and a place to live.

Now, it’s likely the criminal justice system will continue to spiral down into anarchy, at least until a lot of things change. And part of that change has to be in the way we view former inmates. Rather than mindless brutes, there are some clever folks in prison. Take, for instance, the prison debate team at Eastern New York Correctional Facility who recently not only beat Harvard’s debate team, but they beat the Cambridge debate team. Not bad for a bunch of guys who don’t even have Internet access.

Additionally, the ENYCF debate team, rather than having to dodge jocks in the hallways, has the support of a large portion of the prison population. They are, in their own way, celebrities.

We could argue whether or not being on a prison debate team is helpful in reforming prisoners, but you have to admit that it’s better than getting out of prison with B.S. in Violent Crime, and M.S. in Bodybuilding, and a PhD in Going Right Back To Prison. At the very least, debate encourages critical thinking, argumentation without resorting to childish nicknames, research skills, and presentation skills, all things which will be more useful than killer biceps.

Read the whole story here.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented co-hosts this month are
Lizbeth Hartz,
Peter Nena,
Shilpa Garg,
Me,
and <https://inderpreetuppal.com//”>Inderpreet Kaur Uppal

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

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And now, your moment of Zen.

pinkpanther

↓7↑8

We’ve watched Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive recently. Let me say it introduced me to two things about Formual 1. First, those drivers are fucking amazing. Anyone who can thread a needle when they’re strapped into a massive engine on wheels going 200+ MPH is incredible. Second, F1 has some spectacular wrecks. There were scenes of guys hitting a wall at 195 MPH, or flying upside down over other cars, rolling several times, and skidding to a halt in something that only barely resembled a car.

wreck2

Robert Kubica’s crash in 2007. He survived.

The truly amazing thing was after those crashes, the drivers not only walked away, but got back in a car the next day and kept racing. I was in a car in a friend back in the early 90s when a truck shoved us off the road. To this day, I’m leery of being next to big rigs. And not just because I’m worried that they’re a bunch of cross-dressing pill-hounds hopped up on every goofball imaginable.

Fear is a natural thing. It’s what keeps us alive. The first time you burn yourself you realize fire is a bad thing to play with. The first time you get kicked in the teeth, you learn to keep your guard up. It’s a natural survival mechanism and something to be respected. No one likes to be hurt, so we avoid things that will cause pain. Simple.

The problem is, any F1 driver would probably tell you that crashes are a natural thing in car racing. Just like anyone will tell you fire has some valid uses and any fighter will tell you sometimes you have to take a blow to get in position to land a better shot. Being completely risk-averse will land you a nice position on your couch, surrounded by all manner of security mechanisms, watching the world pass you by while you slowly turn into a non-entity getting more and more entrenched in your ways until all that’s left for you to do is squawk about how thing should be.

In other words, survival mechanisms can keep you alive, but they can also keep you from living. Change is inevitable. Shit happens. Whatever. Pick your aphorism.

Sometimes things kick you square in the balls and steal your wallet. At that point, you can lie there holding your nuts and grumbling about how there’s never a cop around when you need one or you can get up, kick out your mugger’s kneecap and steal his wallet.

rock-dog

This has nothing to do with the text, I just think it’s funny.

Which leads – in a roundabout, profanity-laden way – to the point. I’ve written about how Twitter has become a haven for writers before. For the most part, that still rings true. Sure, there are some dicks out there, but that’s true of everywhere and most of the writers on Twiter are decent folk. They’re happy to listen, dispense advice, and generally be supportive. To a point, anyway.

There’s always that one person who’s going through a crisis of faith in their writing. It happens. You wake up at 3am, convinced you’re a no-talent hack. If you’re like most of us, you fret about it for a bit and then remember there are plenty of no-talent hacks doing all manner of things successfully and go back to sleep. Some people perseverate to the point that it becomes all-consuming and there are only so many times you can say, “Let it go, everyone goes through this” before it gets to be too much work and you go back to looking up dog videos. Especially, when the problem is painfully obvious. For instance, if there’s a fundamental disconnect with your writing style – say, you only want to write in Mayan Haiku – then you either need to change it or accept that your audience is going to be limited.

I get it. It sucks hearing something you poured your heart and soul into isn’t working. It’s the 200mph smack into the wall or the fist in the teeth. It hurts. But if you really want to do something, there are going to be times when you have to work at it. And that means you have to dust yourself off, get back in the game, and learn to get better at it.

truckflip

Got an interesting story (that doesn’t name names), tell it in the comments…

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

Pitbulls catch a lot of shit due to the actions of a small handful of terrible people. They’re wonderful dogs: Playful, silly, affectionate, protective, and patient. Several years ago, we got an email from a friend who’d just had a young pittie show up on her doorstep, scraped up and needing a home. Since she already had two dogs, she wondered if our dog would like a friend. We did a little research, introduced the dogs to each other, and wound up with our first pittie.

Contrary to the stories we’d heard, Tina was far from a remorseless killing machine. She was patient, lovable, and more likely to run to a safe distance and bark than attack someone.

babypittie

All in all, a great dog. Unfortunately, she got bone cancer and we had to put her to sleep.

Pits get a lot of bad press and the world loves to cast them as villains. Yes, they’re strong. Yes, those jaws can be scary. And, yes, a lot of them have bad dispositions that come from them being trained to fight. But the basic pit bull is a loving, silly critter who’ll do anything for attention.

Due to the relentless stories about pits, they’ve developed a bad reputation and some cities have even banned them. They’re headstrong and can be a handful sometimes, and a lot of them wind up in shelters when a family realizes playing with them a half-hour a week isn’t going to cut it. And, yes, they can be holy terrors when it comes to furniture – ours chewed and old couch straight down to the frame. But she also let my son crawl all over her and tug on her ears with nary more than a grunt and a sigh and needed someone to hold her when the wind got too high.

Since so many of them wind up in bad situations, a tattoo parlor in Little Rock is donating all the money from their paw-print tats to Out of the Ashes Pit bull Rescue. So, now you can get tatted up and help a pitbull. Heck, you could probably even get all tatted up with a tough-looking pawprint tattoo and get a pitbull. Unfortunately, this is only going on until the end of March, but hopefully others will pick up the slack. If you’re not into ink, you could always go to your local shelter or pitbull rescue and meet an actual dog. Who knows, you might just find a friend.

Read the story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented co-hosts this month are:

Sylvia McGrath,
P Damyanti Biswas,
Shilpa Garg,
Dan Antion,
and Belinda Witzenhausen

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now, your moment of Zen.

pitbullsmile

Roadside Attractions – Blurb Hell

Roadside Attractions has been picked up for publication by Kyanite Press. It should come out sometime in 2020 or thereabouts. In addition to the text and the cover (both of which are undergoing modifications), I have to come up with a damned blurb.

Blurbs are one of those things that you have to deal with. I’ve written about how to do them a few times on this blog, but like a lot of things, they’re easier to write about than to actually write. I think I’ve got a decent one, but any input would be welcome.

A piece of Hell exists in a tiny town in southern Arizona.
During a not-so-routine investigation into a haunting, a pair of ghost hunters get a strange text message beckoning them to Dragoon, Arizona. The message promises them a ghost unlike any they’ve ever met and riches galore for investigating the entity. They find the ghost, but more sinister forces are lurking in the town and soon the ghost-hunters – and the ghost they were sent to hunt – find themselves caught between a renegade devil and the hitwoman sent from Hell to stop him. With time running out and no one to turn to, they’ll have to dig deep into science, magic, and themselves to stop a great evil from awakening or the world will suffer an eternity of darkness.

Comments? Thoughts? More rotten fruit tossed at me while an angry mob chants at me to give writing and go back to whatever rock I crawled out from under?

Also, is this a dope-ass cover or what?

RoadsideAttractionsR4Small