Friday, July 31, 2015

It Should Be Blogging, Not Blarg



I’ve been away from the computer lately, for vacationy stuff. It was refreshing and usually fun, and we even managed to get out of the area for a week—not exactly a relaxing kind of a trip, as I’ll detail later.

Sometimes fun is sitting on a beach with a good book; sometimes fun is clamboring into caves and hiking to waterfalls while researching a good book. Don’t worry, there’ll be photos.

I’ve been neglecting my blog terribly, which isn’t a good thing for a working writer. Recently I read writers should put a “selling” post on their blog and social media only once every six posts or so. That makes sense: Why read someone when all they ever talk about is how often you should read them? By the way, you should read me often.

Sometimes it’s hard to control that: Such as earlier this month, when I had a book signing, and later next month, when I have a new book release as well as some appearances. But ordinarily I think it’s a good idea, if you want people to think your writing is entertaining, to write entertaining stuff.

I’d look just like Captain Obvious if I was just a bit slimmer.

Some blogging experts (can you get a degree in that?) believe your blog should be narrowly focused. If you’re a tree frog expert and keep your posts all about tree frogs, you’ll soon be followed by hundreds, if not thousands, of tree-frog entheusiasts, right? And whether you submit your book about tree frogs to a publisher or go independent, having a following of tree-frog lovers ready to buy your book is a huge advantage.

Makes sense.

But I’m a person of eclectic, if low-brow, tastes. I don’t have one obsession alone unless it’s writing, and if I write only about writing doesn’t that bring me back to the original problem? The only thing my interests really have in common is humor, and sometimes not that.

So here’s an idea: rotating through various subjects, in addition to talking about the writer’s life. Not necessarily on a specific day, but mixing it up so there’s something for everyone, and when appropriate loading some humor into it. Some possible topics include entertainment (Hey, I still watch some TV) and the possibly related book/movie reviews; emergency services (‘cause I’ve got that firefighter/911 dispatcher thing going on); photography (pictures make everything better); history (we’re releasing a humorous history book next year, which will make my third history related project); local/Indiana stuff; politics (if I can stomach it); and … I don’t know. What else?

So what do you think? As always I have to think about what will sell the most books, but above all I have to be funny, or entertaining … or maybe the word is interesting. It turns out a proper blog is a lot of work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Ants Jump Right Out At You



We saw a movie in 3-D today, by accident.
I can take or leave 3-D, and since it costs more I usually leave it. But we’d misread the schedule, and rather than wait around another half hour we chose to watch Ant-Man in three dimensions. It was in a theater which just replaced its seats with power recliners, which makes it a far cry from the movie-going experiences of my youth. I can take or leave the recliners, too. It’s nice to not worry about a tall guy sitting in front of you, though.
Happily, in this case the movie uses 3-D without relying on it. Sometimes moviemakers overthink the format, throwing everything from arrows to crashing vehicles at the viewer in the hopes of setting a new audience jump record. I wonder if the same thing happened with the first talkies, or the color films? Probably early movies in those formats threw their newfangled tricks at viewers, just as the early 3-D movies did.
But the day will come when 3-D will be just another part of every movie experience, regardless of how much some hate it now. Having things jump off the screen at you will be no more remarkable than hearing Johnny Depp’s newest accent, or seeing the primary colors of a superhero’s costume. I’ll probably choose 2-D for some time to come … just as people chose the less garish black and white movies decades ago. But I can go either way.
As for the movie itself? Ant-Man was great fun, and I highly recommend it in the dimension of your choice.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Seven Lines From My Work In Progress


I was tagged by writer Samantha Branham for the 7x7x7 challenge: seven lines from the 7th page of my work in project. I’m not tagging anyone, ‘cause I don’t do that, but if you’re a writer and it strikes your fancy give it a try! I suppose this serves as the official announcement of my next book project, in honor of Indiana’s bicentennial: A humorous look at Hoosier history. Don’t look at me like that, I promise you’ll like it.

(You won’t be hearing much from me for the next couple of weeks, due to research involving this very project.)

“Champlain made the first accurate coastal map of Canada, and also had a drink named after him. Unfortunately, he’d had several of those drinks first, and ended up misspelling his own name. As a result, he never got the credit he deserved for champagne. Upset by that, and also freezing, he headed south and became the first European to explore the Great Lakes area. So much for booze never being good for anything; thanks to Champlain Indiana became part of New France, with the promise that the French Empire in North America would go on for a long, long time.

And we all know how well that worked out.

However, the first white man to actually set foot in Indiana is believed to be Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle, whose name I’ll shorten to La Salle for obvious reasons.”

It's historical. No, it is. Well, maybe not by European standards.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The things I go through for a photo



We left Pokagon State Park at about 12:30 this afternoon, figuring to get ahead of a vicious looking black cloud. We failed. On I-69 it got nighttime dark, with an edge of light on the horizon that made things look a little surreal; that was when I looked to my left and said something that I won’t repeat here, but won’t win me any awards for great sayings.

I wouldn’t recommend pulling over along an interstate, but I also wouldn’t recommend calling 911 while driving 70 mph in wind gusts and a downburst. While we were stopped we saw at least three or four funnel clouds, or possibly one or two that would come down, spin around for awhile, then lift back up only to emerge again. We had a scare when it looked like a touchdown directly ahead of us along an overpass, during which I cussed in the 911 dispatcher’s ear, but I think it was a front gust that blew dust and rain over the top of the bridge. On the way home we caught a little hail, but by the time we got to Kendallville it was just heavy rain.

Emily said she’d never go storm chasing with me … but she said nothing about already being in the car when the storm chased us.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Hoodies Save The World: The final cover

Oh, he's in trouble ....



Three Hoodies Save The World: The final cover: My daughter saw my blog last evening - she was not happy about the final cover for my new collection of family stories.     She shouldn&#3...