Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Once again I will refrain from ranting, to wish you all a happy, safe, prosperous New Year.

Each year I make resolutions to do certain things better, to shed bad habits and acquire new ones. I also set goals for the new year, and plan steps to achieve them. Change for the better starts with us. Let's make it a better world this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

No politics, no rants, no information, just a wish that you and yours enjoy the holidays, and that there may be peace on earth with goodwill to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TV in the Modern Age

Here's a great idea for a new television show. Given the state of television these days, it's sure to be a hit! Remember, I get credit when it's developed.

It's called "Get Shot or get Shown", and each week features a different pair of contestants, two C-list celebrities, who are desperate to revive their pitiful career. They are handcuffed together, and must outrun a celebrity team of trackers, made up of Dog, the Bounty Hunter, Tyra Banks, who offers fashion tips, Anthony Bourdain, who whips up tasty trail meals (how to cook a lizard on the run), and Cesar, the Dog Whisperer, who handles the bloodhounds.

The handcuffed celebs must complete certain tasks and keep moving. If the trackers catch them, they get to shoot one, chosen by audience voting. The survivor must drag the body to the next checkpoint, whereupon they win, and are seen next season in their own show.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

American values

Here's a post on his feelings for this country from Dan Simmons (, who, as a writing demigod, naturally says it better than I could:

"I said earlier that I loved the United States of America, but that’s a bifurcated love – one part of it for the physical places and people I’ve known, the other – deeper love – for the ideas upon which America was established and which so many have sacrificed to maintain for more than two centuries now. Those ideas and ideals – the primacy of individual human liberty over the power of any state or aristocracy, the attempt to provide real equal opportunity for all people, the need for real freedom to choose so many things including one’s religion (or lack of) – all expressed in the Declaration of Independence, in the U.S. Constitution, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and in other indelible statements and actions -- are what make me love the United States. As interesting as other nations are in their diverse ways, I’ve found no other nation on earth that was established to create, and which continues to embody, a set of universal principles of human freedom and opportunity and dignity the way the United States does."

What he said. Which is why I've been so unhappy with the "leadership" of this country for such a long time. Instead of being what we should be, a shining beacon of reason, justice and freedom for everyone, we now torture, kill, and destroy in places where we have no business being. It offends decency. It is shameful. We need to take our country back from the ugly powermongers who have hijacked it, and have those at the top represent the wishes of the people, instead of their backroom moneyed agendas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stephen King Generosity

Having studied writing with Stephen King, I can attest to what a generous and helpful person he is. He and his wife Tabitha have been very good for the Bangor area of Maine, supplying a top-notch Little League field and equipment, and they have done fundraising for the Bangor Library.

Recent news shows there are now many others who know of the King family generosity. The Kings just donated $13,000 to pay for transportation to allow service personnel to return to Maine for Christmas and visit with their families before they are deployed overseas.

Do you know of any of the multi-millionaires in the Congress or Senate who are doing something similar? Probably not. The politicians know how to send people off to get shot at, but it takes a true humanitarian to do a kindly human thing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad Writing

So I've had a stack of recommended books to get through, and recently tackled them. Wow. If that's the state of publishing, no wonder they're hurting. In book after book, the writing was amateurish and lazy and plain bad. I was appalled.

When I read a novel, I desire some measure of empathy with one or more characters, a plot that doesn't make me roll my eyes at stupid actions and impossibilities, and a minimum writing level that shows the author has spent some time learning their craft, and had an editor that keeps them from egregious mistakes.

Hey, I'm guilty of crappy writing sections in my early drafts. I take it to the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, and they point out the stupid stuff, the cliches, the patches of lazy writing where I shorthanded a section to "get to the good stuff". So I rewrite and try again, as many times as necessary until the rough edges are smoothed out. Then it goes to even harder editors, who rip apart anything that doesn't work with withering scorn. It's a very humbling, ego-smashing, painful experience, and a necessary one for real writers. It's why I don't have patience for wannabes who won't do the hard work it takes to make things good.

But if you survive all that criticism, by the time you get done, you've got something that doesn't suck. I'm not great, but sometimes I get out stuff that's pretty good, and once in awhile get a really great reaction to something I've written. Even on my stories that get turned down by editors, many of them are taking the time to write personal notes saying how good the writing is, with a request for me to send more. That, dear readers, is a professional accolade.

So-- I read the first book on my list-- a great idea, good atmosphere, but it just fizzled and left me feeling like it was a short story the guy couldn't finish.

Second Book-- Great idea, Dan Brown-style thriller, but lousy, Dan Brown-style writing: flat dialogue, hyperactive viewpoints, awful cliches, impossible coincidences, and characters who do utterly stupid things for no reason. A shame, really, because with a basic level of good writing, this could have been a real book.

Third Book-- The author mentioned she'd got her dream editor to work on the book, so I had hopes. The premise was exciting. But after eye rolls and tsks of disgust, I tossed the book aside before ten pages were done. Full of stereotypes, like a bad TV script. Most college freshmen could turn out a better page. This had a good editor and was still a piece of crap!

Fourth Book-- A mystery, but one of those with a premise so very cute and twee. I flung (past tense- flanged?) it aside. Please give me characters from this plane of existence, who resemble real human beings! I wanted real meat, and got a plastic egg.

Fifth Book- At last, a real novel to sink your teeth into: Double Exposure, by Michael Lister. Yowza- I recommend it. Full disclosure here- this book was published by Tyrus Books, who I've trusted with a sample of my novel. Even if they don't want my novel, they're committed to excellence, and it shows.

It took me five books to find one worthwhile. Not a good ratio. Is it too much to ask that writers do their damn job? These books are selling on concept, a pitch, like a Hollywood movie. But the execution is amateurishly bad. Most of these books wouldn't pass muster in my writing group, let alone for professional purposes.

So what are your recent reads that stand out as really good?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another sale!

Great news from the editor of Kasma Magazine. They like my short story "God Save the Queen" and will be publishing it in the Spring. They're a new market, and have a great look on their website. Give them a look at

This puts me on a writing high, as my story "Rummy" just came out in House of Horror online. It spurred me to finish another story, which I sent off to my private editor, who will tear it to pieces. If there's anything good left, I'll revise it and get that one in the submission rounds.

Remember that abusive commenter I told you about, who said I wasn't really a writer? Well, for a guy who's not a writer, I sure do get a lot of work published...

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Stories

One of the best benefits for success in me in getting published is that it spurs me to do more. I've got a set of stories that make the rounds, and when one gets published, hey, by all rights I should replace it. Since my latest is out, at House of Horror, time to get another one ready to go. Especially since another editor sent me a nice note saying he liked the story I sent him. So there might be another sale soon! Yay!

So I've finally got the ending for this story of mine that's been kicking around a long while. On several occasions I did some work on it and set it aside, because I couldn't come up with a good ending. I find I just can't force stories out, they come out when they're ready. This dang one took years. So today I got to thinking about getting something done, and I finally have a way to wrap it up. So there's work to do.

Have to get busy, because after the Crime Bake convention, I got a killer idea for another mystery series. So much work to do, but it's all good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Latest Story out- House of Horror

Happy December! In tune with the grim economic news comes my latest story, a tale that echoes the job-loss fears of many. I wrote this awhile back, but now it seems prescient in light of the current conditions.
Enjoy the latest issue of House of Horror Magazine:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope your holiday is a good one. Let's be thankful for the good things we have.

The holiday didn't start well. While driving home yesterday I was rear-ended on the highway by a dumb kid following too close and not paying attention. After we pulled over, I asked him for his information. After ten minutes of he and his friend fumbling around in their car, he admitted he didn't know what that was.
Wow. So much for education in this country. Gee, what could I possibly be looking for? Hmmm? Must have been stoned all through Driver Ed, huh? How about registration, license, insurance info... any of that ring a bell?

To put the cherry on the sundae, there was no writing inplement. I always have something to write with in my vehicle. Someone had removed it. I also always have something to write with in my work bag. That was mysteriously absent as well. Of course goober or his friend had nothing. Nevertheless, I got his name and address and proceeded home, where I started my holiday dealing with an insurance company and negotiating with a garage on the last weekend of the month. Oh joy.

All that aside, we are very fortunate in this country, and don't appreciate it as much as we should. I've traveled a lot, and seen horrible living conditions for people not lucky enough to live here. I've also seen the most abysmal conditions for some people that do live here. Right now in this country there are homeless people, hungry people, human beings living in abject misery and deprivation. Others live in unimaginable wealth and privilege and power, and do little to help.

Want to feed somebody for free? Go to the Hunger Site, at:
and click on the button. Nothing is downloaded, no forms to fill out, that's it-- but your click means the advertisers donate a portion of food to someone who doesn't have enough to eat. You can do it once a day for each computer you're on. Small act, but one that multiplied could change the world for the better. Be a better person and help someone out today. And everyday, for that matter.
Make this holiday matter- live it well and count your many blessings.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book recommendation

Just finished an awesome book you should read: Why We Suck by Dennis Leary. It's not only funny, so much of it is true. He tells it like it is, why men are the way we are, how the world works, and how he loathes celebutards (as do) I and the culture spawning their ubiquitous presence in the media. It seems the dumber you are, the more show time you get on television. We now have the privilege of watching human train wrecks competing for our limited attention span.

Back in the early 60's, Newton Minnow called television the vast wasteland. And that was before reality shows. I was raised on the idiot box, and I can easily slip into a blobby trance while watching bad television. So it speaks volumes when I can flip through a hundred channels and not find one thing worth my limited remaining time here on this plane of existence. It's a variation of Gresham's Law, with the bad driving out the good. They've killed television, and that may be a good thing. I'll actually shut it off and go do something else, which is absolutely the best thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Sorry for the radio silence, but I've been preparing for two important events. The first, and most important, is my daughter's birthday today. She's having a party, and we've all been getting our home ready for a bunch of pre-teens.

The second is the big mystery convention around these parts, called CrimeBake, and I just got back from there, having spent most of the weekend. It was my first of this type, and was quite an experience. I met writers, editors, and agents. Met some old friends and made some new ones. It was a sold-out smash hit with everyone. So many nice people being helpful.

Like a number of others there, I was able to pitch my novel to someone in the biz, and he asked to see the first ten pages. So here's hoping he likes what he sees and wants to take on my novel. If not, it's off to other agents. I'd guess well over half the folk there, well over a hundred, were mystery writers-- some already established, and some trying to break in to the biz.

Imagine playing Little League with dreams of pro glory, and then getting to hang out with some of the biggest Major League players: that's what this kind of show offers. And then having a scout tell you to throw a few pitches to see what you've got. Yeah, the pressure is enormous, but you get in there and give 'em your best. And you wait to see if they call you up. Wow. People came out of the pitch session stunned. A few of us gathered together to share our stories and congratulate each other.

Just so you'll know, many of the top-name writers also faced repeated rejection. Toni Kelner, a very nice mystery author, had a story rejected by someone she never even submitted it to! One writer had a NY Times best seller book that was turned down by 65 people before it hit. Yeah. A similar story with another, 60 rejections before the best seller sold. It really doesn't matter how good it is, it's getting it before the right set of eyes, and that's the tough part.

And that's where I am, waiting for the Right One. I've got three complete novels, good enough to show to professionals. We'll start with one, and get a foot in the door. Then it's Katy, Bar the Door!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rejections of good stories

Sorry for sounding like I'm whining, but it's getting more than a little frustrating. I'm getting numerous story rejections where the editors are telling me that they liked it, and that the story is good and well-written. Which tends to put them above most of the stories I read in these mags. So why aren't the editors buying? If an editor has lengthy discussions with other people about the merits of a story, shouldn't they buy the damn thing, especially at bargain rates? You'd think so, huh? When was the last time you had a lengthy discussion about a story? If it makes you think about it that much, it's something that should be published.

Here's excerpts:
"After some lengthy discussion... This is a very well-written piece, with convincing characters, an effective dénouement and a nice twist, and an important social message ... it fell just short of being outstanding... we thought this was an excellently crafted story, with its heart entirely in the right place."

And despite that, they won't publish it. Wow. Just short of outstanding, but not good enough for token pay rates.

And so it's off to another market, a magazine that rejected my last submission thusly:
"Your story was well-written and I could see your characters clearly."

Well, Heaven forbid you should get well-written stories with clear characters. Or support a writer who submits such stuff. And then editors whine about not getting enough quality submissions...

But tenacity is the name of the game. Right after the rejection of the last one, the story sold to House of Horror, where it will appear this month. One man's lengthy, unpublished discussion is another man's sale and readership.

Non carborundum illegitimatus

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Month

Happy Daylight Savings Time, this first day of November. It was a beauty, starting with that lovely extra hour. We should have that extra hour more often- it seems like it 's worth three or more. And the warm sun made it extra special.

Need it after last night, Trick-or-Treating with the kids. This might be my last year doing it. Wah. It was a perfect night for Halloween, an almost-full moon, and ghostly clouds scudding across the sky, driven by a swift wind. Warm enough for costumes without jackets. And a fun person to hang back with while the kids rang doorbells and collected sweet tribute.

All had good, safe fun, and we go into Thanksgiving month with much to be thankful for. In three weeks it's Turkey Time, and then the day and a half until Christmas! It was a fast year, folks. Yeah, there may be 60 days left, but they're booked pretty solid already. It's good to have a full life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Better Weather

After the hideous snow scare of a short time ago, we have a beautiful day here in late October. So we're taking advantage of it and traveling up to see the Yankee Siege. That, dear readers is the ultimate in cool-- a giant mechanical device that flings pumpkins through the air to crash a long way away. It's called a trebuchet, and is based on siege engines of the middle ages that were used to batter down fortress walls.

It is an awesome process, and to watch the gaze of two hundred people follow the path of an airborne pumpkin missle, while going "oooooh" in unison, is something to see. It is, as they say in these parts, "Wicked cool." Hey, and our local engine has won the World Championship of flinging stuff on several occasions.

If you can take time to see something fun like that with friends, it's a good thing. There are too many headlines and current issues that make one worry, and too many tasks to do in life. On a day like this, I chuck it all and enjoy. What will you do today for relaxation and fun enjoyment of life?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Snow- and having it good

Snow? In mid-October? This isn't right. Snow should have the decency to wait to arrive until at least mid-November. It's still the time to take in the beautiful leaves, the varied colors the trees are displaying. Not the wet slush of flakes. NO, NO, NO!

So May, June, and July were kind of crappy, weather-wise. We had some nice days in August and September. And now this, with a long cold winter ahead. Sigh. Time to weather the weather in warmer climes.

Yeah, it's been a tough blogging season as well. Life demands a great deal of time, as does my job and my family. Oh, yeah, and a fledgling writing career. Plus a few other projects I'm working on to try and bring in some extra money, as we're sinking under a steady increase of bills. Don't get me wrong, life's great, but it does take some creative math to get all the bills paid on time.

Some people don't realize when they've got it good. I was listening to a friend rant about the burden of taxes he was paying, how bad he was suffering under the oppression, blah, blah, blah, and I look around at his $750,000 house, his numerous expensive possessions, his list of trips and vacations, his seemingly limitless wealth. I said it looked like he was doing pretty well. He said, "That's Capitalism."

Oh, I get it. No matter how much you have, it's never enough, and you complain about not having more, and no matter how good the system has been to let you amass great wealth, you complain about putting back into the system and helping anyone else.

Another acquaintance said something similar. His wife won thousands in the lottery, and he was complaining about paying the taxes and having to drive a few miles to collect the winnings. I suggested that if it was that much of a burden, he should give it to me to make his life easier. Man, if I had a few thousand right now, I'd be dancing for joy! All he could do is whine and bitch about not getting it all, not all the fun things he'd do with the extra money. That's some mindset.

Most days I write down the top five things I'm grateful for. Being alive that day is always at the top. Talking with friends this weekend, one mentioned that people get out of bed with the same old mindset, and that some of them die that day. Few think that their number will be up that day, but it happens to them anyway.

So we've got it good if we're alive and healthy. Happy comes from within, and too many people don't know when they've got it really good. Let's spend some time appreciating what we do have instead of what we don't.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Publishing- Addendum

I wanted to share with you the difficulty of placing even a good story these days. Editors say they want different, well-written, yadda, yadda, but send them a truly different story, and they can't place it.

I've been sending this magical realism tale out- it's a lot of wordplay, a la Lewis Carroll or James Joyce. Editors claim to love it, but so far it has not found a home. Here are some of the comments I've received:

Enjoyable, not our style.

Beautiful. Thoroughly enjoyed. Loved your use of language and words

Great opening and premise- unique, semi-surreal.

Loved this whimsical story. Co-editor doesn’t like whimsy.

Beautifully written and very humorous. We like darker.

It was well received here- second round consideration.

I really enjoyed the fun and creative use of language: this sort of poetic word-play is one of the ways that writing can be made really beautiful. This was also a very nice story, with a fun (if predictable) twist and a clever moral. I do hope you'll consider sending us more of your work in the future.

I couldn't decide if this story was utterly brilliant or just too clever for its own good.

I enjoyed this charming, engaging tale very much.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


One commenter on this site chided me for not having a published book out yet, despite that I've written three good novels. I doubt that person has seriously tried to get a book published, or they'd know just how difficult it is. What follows is not whining or complaining of how hard it is, but it's information for those of you dreaming of riches when you see the “Twilight” books stacked up in the stores, and imagining how easily you'll get six-figure advances for ideas that pop into your head.

Not too long ago, large publishing houses had editors that knew good books, liked good books, and were willing to take a chance and even lose money on a good book, knowing it wouldn't sell right off, but it needed to be out there.

Then greed happened. The speculators grabbed publishing houses, merging them into bigger and bigger conglomerates, figuring bigger was better. And the industry took a nose dive. Because books aren't like other products. You can't move them like widgets, and you can't accurately predict which will sell and which won't. Books are full of ideas, and often it takes time for ideas to percolate through society. But speculators want fast return, and they have no patience for authors building a readership over the years.

Big publishing houses don't want to publish anything which won't make them money. If a prospective book doesn't fit into an easily marketable niche, it doesn't stand a chance. They want safe, secure, predictable.

And yet the bookstores are flooded with substandard material. Insert your favorite examples here. Thousands of books get published every year. But the sad fact is, 96% won't sell more than a couple thousand copies. 98% won't break the 5000 mark. Two books out of every hundred make any kind of sale. And they're usually the blockbusters from the handful of sellable best-seller names, or some new celebrity or fad book.

There are fewer than 500 people in the United States making a living writing fiction. The rest of us have to earn our bread with other labor. But that takes time away from writing. And then there's the marketing. Without a name or a connection, you have a hard road ahead. You have to create and polish a query letter, prepare an exciting synopsis, get a list of reputable agents, shoot out queries, and hope for the best. You may hear back from one in three, a good return. It takes time and energy, all of which could be better spent writing more books.

And then the lucky day arrives, some agent likes your query. So you send some sample chapters. And wait. And wait. And wait. One day, months or years later, you finally get the agent interested in your work. So you bat a contract back and forth, finally sign, and later the agent sends it off to publishers. More time elapses, Glaciers melt, empires rise and fall, and finally some publisher agrees that the book is good.

So you sign more contracts and wait for your riches. You receive the requested edits, which can take weeks, and may change your darling into something unrecognizable. You receive the first payment, minus 15%, for your work, which amounts to several hundred dollars. There won't be much more for a first book. And they'll publish a few thousand copies, which will sit there unless you devote your life (outside of work, remember) to selling it. If your book doesn't take off, publishers won't want to publish your next one.

So why do we do it, when only a damn fool would undertake such a hopeless, thankless life's work? Because we have to. We writers hear voices in our head, have conversations with people that aren't there, and live worlds within worlds, while we get through this one. We are the talesmiths of old, the ones by the campfire giving meaning to our existence. If you think that's grandiose, imagine a world without books and writers. It would be a sterile place indeed. No dreams, no history, and no purpose. Just daily drudgery.

So it takes time. You need the stubbornness and determination of an Arkansas mule, and a hide about as thick, to withstand the criticism you'll get. Your reward will be a bucket of thistles, or maybe a pat on the back. But you do it anyway, no matter how long it takes, or what you get out of it. Real writers have to write.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Latest Article Out and Fair Musings

Part 5 of my series, "The Collest Movie Cars With the Coolest Drivers," is out at:

It's been a busy time. Work and home life have kept me occupied and writing too little. But we pause for enjoyable things, like what we did yesterday. My family and I went to Maine to attend the Common Ground Fair (

It was the perfect day, sunny and cool, the crisp weather a Fall backdrop. This is a festival of good, locally grown organic food, and you work up quite an appetite walking around the grounds, seeing all the displays. It's also about people working to make their world better, striving for peace and a sense of community and healthy lifestyles. Doesn't get much better than that, and the vibe is thoroughly positive. If you like your food irradiated and covered with pesticides, don't look for it here. The produce isn't from multinationals using illegal labor, but from families in Maine working their own land for the benefit of all.

When I'm there, I see a better way of thinking, of people striving to make our prescence on this planet a sustainable one. There's a lot of thought about alternative energies, of getting our power from natural sources, so we don't have to invade other countries and embroil ourselves in endless wars. There's also the way of life without poisoning our air, water, and food, a great concept in my book. If more people could think and act in these positive ways, we might actually have a chance to stick around with a good life. Food for thought.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sports Day

Got an invite to watch the Patriots play football today- on screen, not in person, though it would have been a lovely day for that.

So disappointing to see them not win, to see the failure of all the elements that make them so good- running, passing, and defense. On top of that, many penalties, and the combination was too much.

But at least the Red Sox kicked butt!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Latest story acceptance

Just got word on my latest story acceptance-- "Rummy" has been selected for the November issue of House of Horror, a new market. This makes story publication #8, for those keeping track.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

End of Summer thoughts and Latest Article

It's been a lovely, lazy Labor Day Weekend. Took my family to pick fresh, ripe apples, stroll through downtown Concord, and explore Purgatory Chasm. The weather was perfect, making up for all that rain we had earlier in the Summer. I revel in langorous, happy days, where the cares of the world melt away, and you just appreciate life and all the good things you have. It was a much-needed break. Now, back to Saving the World!

My latest article, Part 4 of "Coolest Movie Cars With the Coolest Drivers" is out:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Gore

It's been a short break here while we tried to enjoy a little bit of Summer. For the end of Summer, I wanted to take my kids to one of the few remaining drive-ins to see a movie. However, the ones in charge of the place thought “family fare” meant gory films depicting gruesome, violent deaths. So they will not be getting our money, but if there are carloads of 14-year olds dying to see people dying, the movies may do well.

One trend in films or fiction is the school of dismembering and torturing people for entertainment value. There seems to be a lot of it out there, and we get more of it in the Summer. There are slasher flicks, psychological cat-and-mouse game serial-torturer-killer flicks, lock-a-bunch-of-folks-up-and-torture/kill-them flicks, and many others. I don't understand the enjoyment out of random folks being hurt and munched for no reason. But then I also don't get hanging around the scene of bloody accidents. People's pain and suffering is not something that amuses me.

Okay, you've got your genre of monsters attacking people: werewolves, vampires, zombies and whatnot, but it's a different thing when the one doing the bad deed is a non-human. When the killer psychopath is a person and grabs another person, I don't need or want a clinical and inventive new way of ending the victim's life. Horror enthusiasts seem to try to outdo each other in the amount of pain and splatter they can depict.

My favorite directors are not Wes Craven and Rob Zombie. I haven't watched a movie featuring a maniac with a chainsaw/carving knife/hockey mask in quite some time. The sheer stupidity of the films is annoying as well. If there's a group of people splitting up when they know there's a lone homicidal maniac on the loose, then maybe they deserve their grisly end, as they're picked off one by one.

Even the ads for these films are depressing, as in what is hopefully the final Final Destination, where they show people screaming as they're slowly and inexorably being pulled toward a squishy end. Eh. No thanks.

Gratuitous screen gore may be a symptom of a societal sickness, one apart from the film producers who wish to capitalize on the desire of others to gush over simulated suffering. If all the nasty evisceration movies were to go away, maybe there'd be a little less violence all around. And that would be a good thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Comments at large and is Twitter useful?

There are new comments posted on my last piece. These ones got posted, while the past ones from others that were simply abusive hate mail didn't get published.
The difference is tone.
"Chuck" wrote a thoughful pair of postings that was a good conversation, with advice and his point of view. His communication mattered. His viewpoint has been considered.
Another posting was just in fun, and that's okay, too. Comments that don't run to abuse are always welcome. Abuse for its own sake is not.

I'm all for constructive criticism- if I wasn't, I wouldn't be a writer. Writers are constantly getting feedback on what they put out. Sometimes it isn't very complimentary, but you don't stop because of that. You keep plugging away in the hopes you'll write something that matters. It's a communication between a writer and the audience. We're always trying to improve that communication and make it a worthwhile experience. It's hard work to do it well.

Take Twitter for example. If you like it, that's fine, I'm not saying you shouldn't. To me, Twitter just doesn't seem like important communication. It appears to be snippets and snatches of feelings that might matter more if you were face-to-face with the person, but seem not worth the reading on the tiny screen of an electronic device. It seems hard to make meaning out of the limitations. Do people find real added value in it, or is it just a fad?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another Nasty One

Well folks, this blog sure brings them out of the woodwork. Got another anonymous (of course) nasty commenter, one more bile spewer trying to make me feel bad. This one at least has the rudiments of spelling down, but certainly no manners. While posting no accomplishments of their own, they chide me for not having published my novel yet. Pretty easy to take potshots from the dark, and it must give them such a cheap thrill.

There are too many of these people causing a decline in the public discourse. We're seeing this in our country now, where crazy is running loose. They're tiresome, like gnats--they don't do any real damage, but they do whine about your ears and try to suck your blood.

So while the latest dimwit rails once more at me for not being a writer, the sane and decent among you can read my latest article, the third in a series (with more to come):

Friday, August 7, 2009


One of our basic American tenets is the freedom to speak our mind, and let others speak theirs. Public civility in debate and discourse is more than decency and manners, it is a cornerstone of our life, what makes a society livable.

At least it should be. But now we have a bunch of yahoos who don't believe in America and what it stands for. They are the groups going around disrupting public informational meetings that discuss the possibility of us getting healthcare. Public forums for discussion and information-- what a concept! Except that certain cave-dwelling thugs will go to any lengths to stifle any dissemination of ideas and information.

It's difficult to imagine how these fascist morons can call themselves Americans. Got a contrary opinion? Fine-- take your turn at the mike, state your case, and let others do the same. That's what it's all about. But these disgusting bullies don't like American values, they want a shoutdown of anything they don't agree with. So they show up en masse and in some cases illegally swarm a legitimate public forum and bring in intimidation and the possibility of violence. Way to make your case, bozos!

The ones who aren't misguided (the "No healthcare for me" party) are paid stooges and goons from the big companies that make obscene profits from keeping us from having decent affordable healthcare. Yeah, they're bussing in jackal packs so they can keep ripping us off. The big profiteers are spending billions to ensure they can keep stealing from us with "for profit" care.

Debate is healthy and necessary, especially on such a life-and-death issue that affects us all. Forcing a shutdown of that debate is wrong, and shows that those who do it are in the wrong. They are desperate, because for the first time in years, people are actually expecting our representatives to do something for us. But the big "providers" are willing to let us die, as long as they keep making the big bucks.

Anyone who won't allow debate isn't part of the debate anymore. When they break the law, let's see how they like the crappy healthcare in jail. Bet they'll change their tune then!

The quickest way to get decent healthcare for all of us would be to strip the benefits from those politicians responsible for making the decisions. They get a cushy ride, paid for by us. Take that away, and you'd get the fastest bill ever to sail through the House and Senate.

But for now, let's keep the debate going. Keep these goons from hijacking the legitimate process. Contact your representatives and let them know this is the most important thing they'll ever do, and that you're watching to see how they vote!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Charlie Thinks You're Stupid

There's a tall rich guy with good hair and teeth running for governor of Massachusetts (I know, haven't we heard this one before). And yes, Charlie Baker represents the Republicans, the political party that is fighting tooth and nail to make sure Americans never get decent, affordable healthcare. These people don't like to discuss issues or what they'll offer, but they do like to push voter buttons, like the one on taxes.

Charlie Baker recently went on a radio show and made remarks that sure do sound like he thinks the voters are stupid. In telling how he opposes tax increases, he actually said the words:
"Read my lips. No new taxes."

For those voters with short memories, the elder George Bush made this one of his campaign lies (er, slogans) in his run for President of the US. He got votes from people who supported him because they didn't want to pay more money for all the social niceties, but the joke was on them. Bush got into office and merrily raised taxes. Screw you, suckers! Dumb for them to believe this lie the first time, but now Charlie is recycling that lie, thinking voters will be stupid enough to fall for it again. Wow. Throwing his contempt for voters right in our faces.

Mass is in crisis now, and the lack of state money is sinking our social contract. Our schools (and teachers) are grossly underfunded and it's getting worse, and bridges and roads are in desperate need of repair or rebuilding—our two closest major ones are temporary metal things that shake violently and let you see the water under your car as you drive over, praying you'll make it to the other side. There's so little money that police and fire departments aren't getting all they need, and communities are suffering as a result. Any program that helps people has been cut to the bone, and countless thousands are going without.

Sometimes raising taxes is a painful, but necessary way to keep a state from going all to Hell. Nobody wants to, it's bad politics. But what's better? Having our infrastructure collapse? If it was a choice, Charlie says we can let it fall. What if there's a natural disaster or two, and no money for relief? Better hope for good weather, folks, because you're not getting any help from the state. Guys like Charlie, with too much money, don't really care what the rest of us get. And mostly we get screwed, by guys like him who want to play at being a politician.

Charlie used the words from a George Bush playbook, and we know how all of that turned out. Our kids will be still fighting and paying for the wars that Bush and his son got going. So what else from George Bush are you going to recycle, Charlie? Going to pull out a "Willie Horton" racial scare ad? And like Bush, we know we won't be getting decent healthcare from you, when people in your own buildings, working for your company couldn't get it.

Charlie apparently has a very low opinion of the voters of Mass, if he thinks they'll buy this load of crap. He thinks they're so stupid he can say those words and still get his little prize, sitting behind the Governor's desk. I sure hope he's not right.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My First Abusive Poster

Good news! I've received a slew of hate mail comments on this blog from an abusive anonymous poster (as their kind always is). When someone spends a great deal of time, energy, and venom to convince you to stop something, you know you're having an effect. So thanks for the props.

They've been deleted to save the poor fool from embarrassment. The spelling is childish, as are the sentiments, and the bad feeling pours out. It's a sad little person trying to make others feel as small as he is. At first I thought it was someone playing a joke, because it's a caricature. Do people really get that worked up about a blog? Cool.

But the person is so incensed that I dare to publish a blog that they're trying to convince me I'm actually not a writer. Hey, good luck with that! After three good novels, articles, and a number of published short stories, I, and many others who can spell far better than the poster, say that yes, I am a writer. When people give you money for your writing, you're a professional.

The person is trying to make me feel bad because my novels haven't been published yet. Working on it, dude. It's not easy, and not quick, but it will happen. And then you can post on how bad my book is. And you can keep doing that for all the ones that get published and sold. Have fun. You're going to be very busy.

Oh, and the person is upset because I called out a comment by Frankie Valli, the guy who robbed people when he was younger. According to the poster, being a singer gives you a free pass to steal and still think you're better than people with honest jobs. To him, a guy who commits armed robbery is "inspirational." If your inspiration is to commit holdups, I guess it would be.

The cherry on the sundae is that the poster claims to be a writer. To professionals, writing is something more than tapping out anonymous hate emails from your Mom's basement. The "writer" didn't list any of his credits, while slamming me for not having enough. Hey guy, send me a copy of your book, and then we can talk about the relative quality of our writing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Part 2 Published

Part 2 of my series The Coolest Movie Cars With the Coolest Drivers is out:

This one discusses Bullitt, with that awesome chase scene. Steve McQueen and a Mustang. Doesn't get cooler than that...

Valli Values

Values are important to me, and I'm often amazed at what other people value. I read a recent interview with Four Seasons singer Frankie Valli (not his real name), and he stated he was proud of the fact that he never took unemployment. On the other hand, he said that he had, in his youth, robbed grocery stores...

Let's see now-- a program that offers temporary assistance to workers who have had their work taken away (through no fault of their own) is somehow a bad thing in his mind. Hmm. Well, as a former recipient of a period or two of unemployment, I fail to see the inherent evil in being able to buy groceries for my family and keep a roof above our heads. Am I missing something? Is it so terrible to have a safety net for millions of workers who are victims of corporate greed, mismanagement, and/or a bad economy?

Yeah, I suppose so. Better to fall back on good old American self-reliance and pulling onesself up by one's own bootstraps. By Valli values, when one needs money, one just picks up a nearby gun and robs a guy trying to earn his living. Think of your fellow humans and those who work as your own private ATM. 'No evil unemployment for me, that's weakness-- when I need cash, I get it the old-fashioned way-- I steal it!'

So he won't take a payback for something earned, but he will rip the food from someone else's hand and leave them hungry. Oh, nice.

Imagine if we all felt like this twerp? Too stupid and proud to participate in getting by the rational way, we all start robbing each other. Given our current rates of joblessness, about 15-20% of us would soon be engaged in crimes against each other. Our civilisation would soon end.

Social programs like unemployment have been set up because modern life and our economic system have a way of hammering workers. We have a system that demands continuous employment, but all factors converge to constantly put people out of work! It is insane. One way of keeping us from attacking each other for basic necessities is to provide a stopgap method of easing us through crises.

But this dumb mook publicly disses that idea. Screw the social contract, it's a bad value for him. For me, a bad value is sticking a gun in someone's face to steal their money. I have no tolerance for those who would be stupid, and vicious, and prey upon their fellow man, when there's a smart, rational way of helping everyone.

What a concept. Walk Like a Man, indeed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Days

When I was young, Summer seemed endless. I didn't have many requirements on my time, and long days could be spent on whatever activity I wanted. Now at my age and current situation, the days of Summer fly by in a whirl and are gone like a fast-food meal. Whole seasons go by in the blink of an eye. It'll be Labor Day, and I'll blink and wonder what happened to June, July, and August.

We lived out in the country, and I roamed through forest and field. Anyplace that was farther than a walk, I rode my bike. We didn't have personal music devices, unless you count a transistor radio. We didn't have personal computers of any kind. No cellphones or texting. There were no movies available on television, unless it was a movie of the week, and that was only at night. So apart from reading (which I did a lot of), you had to create your own diversions. No one was there to make sure you were occupied. If you were bored, you had to figure it out for yourself how to get unbored. Parents left the house early and were gone until late afternoon, almost suppertime.

We didn't have any neighbors, unless you count the cemetery, and the inhabitants weren't very lively companions. If you wanted to see a friend, you rode the miles over to their house (on a bike while not wearing a helmet). But if you called them, and they weren't right by the phone to take the call, you couldn't reach them, as answering machines weren't around either.

Many kids my age were outside for most of the day during the Summer months. We didn't wear sunscreen, and we didn't wear bug repellent, unless we were camping in the woods or by a lake. Now to merely sit outside on my deck for a few minutes, I have to slather myself with various gooey chemicals.

And if I want to drink water from my tap, I have to have it specially filtered through an expensive system. Back when I was a kid, if you said you paid money for plain water, people would have thought you were crazy, or really stupid. So why don't we have clean water we can trust, running from our home faucets? When and why did that become acceptable?

There are so many things to do now, so many committments and tasks to do. If I had the rest of the Summer off, I still wouldn't get everything done. But I don't just hurry through a long to-do list, I like to linger, to enjoy lovely Summer days. Yesterday we were at the Lowell Folk Festival, and it was a magnificent day for us, sitting in the shade, feeling the cool breeze, and listening to world-class music. About the only thing that could have made it better for me would have been to be on a sailboat.

So today is less sunny, but still a nice Summer day. And I'm at a computer, like I am almost every day of the week. Maybe I'll take a break and get outside...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Article Published

It's been a busy time. The good news is, my latest article is out on the NE Motoring website:

It's Part 1 of a series about the coolest movie cars and drivers.

My Number One pick has to be James Bond in Goldfinger driving the Aston Martin DB-5. Looks great, and was tricked out by the weapons specialists to be lethal to Bond opponents. I wanted one before I was even old enough to drive.

The movie is great. Bond is at his best: cheating a cheater at golf, showing the only true fear in a Bond film (when a laser slices a deadly path for Bond's loved ones), and fighting a martial arts tank in Fort Knox and then being chained to an atomic bomb. And looking cool and sophisticated the whole time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Songs of Life

Does music matter to you?
What are the songs that define your life?
If someone was looking to understand what your journey on this earth has been, what songs would represent that?

What tunes, what melodies, what lyrics are relevant to you? What has meaning? What just makes you feel good? Does a song remind you of a lost love, a happy time, or something else entirely?

Put a list together. See what comes up. Maybe a few serious songs, a few party songs, a few silly, a few expressing what you feel…


Born to be Wild
Wild Thing
You Made Me So Very Happy
Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n Roll
I Did it My Way
Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat
Amazing Grace
Blowin' in the Wind
La Vida Loca
Singin' in the Rain
I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sorry Charlie (with apologies to the tuna)

So the newspapers (remember those?) say that Charlie Baker, a rich, tall, Republican businessman, has announced he wants to run for governor of Massachusetts. You'll pardon me if I don't cheer, and if I don't vote for him. You see, Charlie Baker stole my Christmas…

A few years ago, I worked for a company that worked for Charlie's company, helping him get richer, and make his company a top healthcare operation. But we couldn't get the nice healthcare we helped provide for others; instead, we got the third-world-type crap package, even though we got all the emails about how wonderful they were to everyone else who got the nice treatment. One day at work I had chest pains, and dutifully went to get it checked out. 24 hours later, they'd found nothing and left me with $2500 in bills. Hundred bucks an hour to find nothing- you call that being "covered"? Good thing I wasn't in for a few days, we'd be bankrupt.

And then Charlie and company made some bad business deals, and told the subcontractors to cut back. So a lot of people lost their livelihood around Christmastime, me included. My wife had just ordered me a gift, something I'd been wanting for a long time. We sent it back, and it was a pretty scary time, and a very bleak Christmas. Because in this country, if you don't have a job, you can't afford healthcare.

Another guy got laid off five minutes after his wife called to tell him his child had medical problems and would need expensive care. Thanks, Charlie. Hey folks, you think Charlie will help the people of this state because he knows about healthcare? When workers in his OWN BUILDING couldn’t get it?

Charlie's political party sneers at the concept of affordable healthcare as something dirty, as "socialism." They have fought against it for a long time, and will make sure we never get it. Of course, they all have it, paid for by us, but somehow good healthcare is not for those who work for a living.

A lot of rich, successful business people think government is like running a business. It's nothing like it, and even Carly Fiorina, the problematic CEO who ran HP (into the ground), said, “It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company.” Remember her? She got rich while her company floundered. And now she too wants to play around in politics.

These damn privileged business people want another box to check off on their resume. Governor, President, whatever. They've had everything handed to them all their life, and now they want another prize. Old Mitt presided in this state while I had the longest period of unemployment in my life, but he did okay. Then he went around trashing Massachusetts and everything we stand for, while he twisted his beliefs into knots to get votes from people he wouldn't spit on if they were on fire. He was suddenly against illegal aliens, but he sure did like them cheap workers taking care of his manor estates. He wore an expensive suit every day, but tried to pass himself off as a gun-totin', varmint-killin', tobaccy-spittin' good ole boy who hated Massachusetts folk.

News flash, plutocrats—to you it's just another job, but to us, it's our lives. We're dying for lack of affordable healthcare, and we have to worry about our jobs to boot. So keep your soft manicured mitts off our political positions, because we don't need another rich tall guy from a party who doesn't believe we even have the right to a decent doctor.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A writer I know, Chris Bernard, has been tapped to write a book about bicycling in New England to be published next spring. It's a narrative travel guide to bike rides throughout the region, and includes family-and-beginner-friendly rail trails and bike paths, leg-busting road rides up to about 150 miles, and off-road routes like fire roads and mountain bike singletrack. Some rides are just good bike rides, others are scenic, and some travel through areas of historical or other interest. He's also recommending accommodations and restaurants in the vicinity of each ride to help cyclists string trips together.

He's lining up trips now, and looking for places to stay--couches, floors, B and Bs, hotels, the Lincoln Bedroom, any and all are fair game. He's also trying to identify good bike rides, so if you know of any, please send them his way.

His blog for the journey is at, and he says to check back often (or subscribe to be kept abreast of updates).

Please pass this link along to anyone you know who might be interested. His audience for the book is anyone who rides, or might ride, a bike, whether occasionally, recreationally, competitively, or otherwise.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day! Wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July.

I'm a sentimental old fool for the idea of the country begun by the Founding Fathers. They worked their butts off, while risking their lives to create a united nation. And they did it by traveling by horse or bumpy coach to a very hot city in JULY, while wearing layers of clothes. You go to Philly and try getting work done in the Summer, while wearing multiple clothing layers, without air conditioning. And create something that lasts quite well for over 200 years. With a quill pen… and no copier… and no bottles of ice water…

Yeah, and by the way, sign your name for the loss of everything you own, and your death warrant, in case your ill-trained, underfunded, divided, quarreling, ragtag, volunteer army loses, which looked like the probable course. Put your whole families' life on the line for a fools' dream, a combined nation that defies the King and Country of the greatest army and navy in the world. In a region where one third of the populace like what you're doing, one third are violently opposed, and one third just want to survive without taking sides.

Can you imagine? The Founding Fathers had everything in the world to lose, and they chose to stake it all on a concept of Freedom (mostly for landed Caucasian males, but still, a good start…).
They had a dream where a government could not grab a person and torture them in a dungeon with no cause. Remember that, remember Human Rights? It's still the Law, by the way, and anyone who violates it must be held accountable as a criminal. No matter what office they held or currently hold.

The Founding Fathers established a principal of Rule of Law that mattered, based on the Magna Carta and the writings of John Locke and Thomas Paine. Because back then it mattered, that the individual rights of a human being had priority over the desires of the State for control.

Read carefully the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Study how it grants a person the privilege of living like a human being, with protections that cannot be arbitrarily taken away by a dictator. And then look at our past and current government and the current media, who cannot even bear to say or print the words "torture" and "murder." Which has now become the de facto government policy, even though they are too cowardly to admit it. Our elected government now accepts kidnapping and torture as a public policy. This should outrage every true American. We cannot, we must not allow this to go further. What we allow to be done to others, we grant permission to be done to us. Many persons, so-called religious or otherwise, conveniently forget this primary rule.

"No good can come from anything done in secret." So very true. If those in power have to hide a thing, it cannot be good. Demand that every act, every deed, become available for public scrutiny and review, and possible prosecution, if so warranted. Do not give away your rights as a person, or as a voice on government.

By doing nothing, we will lose everything. Make a difference, stand up for your rights, and let those in charge know you demand they act according to the Law. Without Law, those in power can do anything. If you do not speak up when they oppress others, who will speak up when they oppress you?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Job Loss and Betrayal

More people that I know are out of work today, victims of a recession economy. This makes far too many people without a job or in danger of being out of a job. Their families and communities suffer when this happens, and it's happening to too many people. Add an ailing healthcare system (with close to 50 million uninsured), a failed housing market, a failed banking system, a dismal job market, and a lot of people are wondering what the hell happened to the American Dream.

When I was growing up, if you had a good education, were willing to work hard, and did a good job, that was all you needed to make it. You were assured of gainful employ that would sustain you and your family. Part of the reason was that business still had sanity. Executives were compensated on a reasonable scale, not as they are today, totally out of proportion with what they do or how the business is doing. Now executives gouge companies for millions, even while the company is sliding down the tubes. In the mind of many, this is equivalent to theft.

It is evident that the corporate world has failed. Greed has killed the golden goose of American business, where a future is sacrificed for next-quarter profits. Too much emphasis is placed on artificially-mandated numbers tied to dates, rather than actualities. In this insane numbers game, we're all losers. Except the ones who have made these new rules, because they're ripping us off.

Look at the latest banking scandal. Yeah, the latest one, not the Savings and Loan debacle of the 80's. Remember that one? There were supposed to be safeguards, blah, blah. Some present-day politicians were responsible for a good deal of that, but they keep getting elected. And in 25 years, nothing changed. Except we got screwed again.

So here we are, in a climate of fear. Lose your job and you lose your health insurance. How insane is that? Why don't other countries have this problem? Are we too stupid or too lazy or too paralyzed to do anything about it? Lose your job, health, and maybe your home, and you begin to question the entire system. As well you should. This isn't a good system, if this many people are suffering. We can do better.

This doesn't have to be. Hold the politicians in charge responsible—if they won't help, get rid of them. They're holding the reins that are strangling us, being bought off by big business. They've got a GREAT healthcare package- paid for by us. Let's take it away and give them what we've got, and see how long it takes for them to pass a good healthcare bill—24 hours would be my guess. The politicians are supposed to be working for us- they're our employees. But they're running the show, and the multi-millionaire club doesn't do much for us now, does it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Inspiring You to Help

One of the most inspiring stories I've ever read is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. It is the story of how one man learned to do great things and help the world by building schools in remote parts of Asia. These areas also happen to be in regions influenced by religious fanatics, including the Taliban. His story shows that there may be hope for the human race. By simply doing simple things, he accomplished impossible tasks.

To see the pictures of small, underfed men carrying 80-pound loads uphill for miles over narrow trails is to know the worth of the human spirit. Because these men were building a future for the children of the village, by giving them a place where they could read and write, and move on to a better life. To read of Greg's story, about how he persevered through setback after setback is to learn what persistence is. And to see the results of what he and the people did is to know what triumph is.

Yet there is more, so much more. For what he has done is to teach peace. In the areas where he goes, he must avoid people with a vested interest in keeping people ignorant, because they need fodder for their religious strife. A person who cannot read and write, educated by extremists only and told what to believe, and who has little chance of making a better life, is a prime recruit type for terrorism. An education gives these people a vested interest in the future, and they consequently reject terrorism for the dead end it is.

Many of the schools teach girls for the first time. Their future before was to get married in the same or a nearby village, raise children, and rarely leave their area. Now they have a chance at an actual career, and doors open that never were before. Many become doctors and teachers, and return to help others in their village.

All this helping of people out of poverty and ignorance came about because of failure. That's right, the dirty word we don't like to discuss. Greg had a mission to climb a mountain in honor of his sister, and he failed to reach the summit. He stumbled into a small, out-of-the-way place where the people took him in and nursed him back to health, and he vowed to build a school to repay them. What would have been a nice tribute instead turned into a global movement, and an awareness of how to improve the world. When he saw the results of his actions, he did more. He realized he could make a real difference, and he has done so. His organizations Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, have raised millions and positively influenced the lives of thousands. You too can make a difference.

I was fortunate enough to hear Greg speak when he came to our town. For a man who has met world leaders and raised millions, you expect something other than what he is: a plain man who speaks from the heart, with the power of love and peace behind him, and believe me, it does move you. Hearing him tell his story makes you want to be a better person. And you can. Check out some of the Helping Others links on my website:

Make a difference…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Drive Your Customers Away

It seems some businesses work very hard to drive away customers, and it makes me wonder what is going on at the decision level. When customers leave, it's hard to get them back, and if they're unhappy, they're going to tell others, so the business loses even more. And yet, businesses often act as if they don't care. Then when they go bankrupt, they have no idea why.

One prime example is the recent demise of the large national car companies. For years they pumped out vehicles that gave them a large profit margin on a unit basis, but ignored the needs of the population at large, who demanded a different type of vehicle: safe, economical, durable. As long as they were making a profit, they were happy, but one day they were shocked to find they were losing money and had no way to stop it. Yes, there were a number of other factors, but their refusal to listen to their customers was a big reason they went downhill.

Our regional paper seems determined to go out of business as quickly as possible. They've been in trouble financially, so what did they come up with? A massive rate hike for the loyal subscribers! When I saw their price hike, I told them to take a hike, and let them know via online comments how dumb that decision was. I'm one of the people who thinks newspapers are important, and have been a subscriber for many years. But in tough economic times, some things become a needless expense. Their new rate was not worth it, so I cut my weekly delivery. I predict they won't last too long, but then again, that may be the plan of the people in charge. Either that, or they're terrible at business.

Our daughter took martial arts locally, and we knew the folks in charge. We've had a good relationship with them, and have provided some extra services and clients. Recently, they sent two emails: one saying we bounced a check to them (we hadn't) and the other was that they wanted a big payment. Now we understand there's a recession, and if money is tight, you may need to make changes. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. Rather than take us aside on any of the days we attended, they sent emails, which sounded a bit rude. Rather than take five minutes and communicate on a human level, they brusquely told us via messages to pay up or leave. Guess what they get? Nothing. Guess what we'll tell everyone in town? Don't go there. We've gone from promoters of their business to more unhappy customers, and that will cost them future business. We know of other people who became unhappy with them, and left as well.

Treat your customers well, and they'll remain loyal, and bring in more business. When they have a problem, work with them to fix it, treat them like they matter. Treat them like they don't matter, and you'll find yourself closing your doors someday. It's even more important to treat them well when times are tough. We, and many others, don't give our money to businesses that treat us badly. Sound business advice for tough times.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hello World- Seeking agent

This is me, behind the technological curve, finally starting a blog. I do enjoy ranting, so here we go. Hope you enjoy the ride.

My first posting concerns getting a literary agent to sell my novel. I've completed the first book of a mystery series, and writing pros who've seen it agree that it's good. It takes about as much time to get your writing distributed on a professional level as it does to write it. Lots of research on which agents respond to queries, what they look for, particular formatting for submissions. It's a tough field, not for the faint of heart. There are only about 400-500 people in the U.S. who make a living writing fiction. It takes a lot of persistence, luck, and talent to make a go of it.

So I'll let you know how it's going. Someday you'll get to read a copy of A Memory of Grief, and my other books. In the meantime, I'll try to keep you informed and entertained with a variety of tidbbits.