Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Creepy Kinds of Starbucks People

I see it all in the Washington DC area. At least no shootings yet, but that's more a McDonalds thing.

I could have made a list of 10 instead of just 5 without breaking a sweat, but that leaves plenty for a sequel down the road.

1. People Who Bring In Their Non-service Dogs

  • Always arriving with a phony, toothy smile
  • Often pretending it's a service dog when it clearly isn't
  • Always pretending others actually want their barking, crapping dog in the cafe

2. Mothers with Screaming Babies

  • Sit at communal tables right next to obviously annoyed readers and silent laptop users
  • Pretend they have a right to destroy the local atmosphere
  • "Inconsiderate" isn't a word in their vocabulary
  • Others should be honored they brought their genius baby with them
3. Bums of All Stripes
  • Squatter bums can annihilate a cafe's pleasant atmosphere and turn it from a go-to spot to a stay-away-from cafe
  • Customers of quality (read: girls) stay away from hobo-infested cafes
  • Smelly, drug addicts, mentally ill, and criminal records. Did I leave out anything?
4. Laptop Users Wanting the Plug at Your Table
  • They want you to move from your table so they can have it and the wall socket nearby
  • They arrive with a dead battery in their laptop (not to mention the dead attitude)
  • The important reasons they're here and needing priority: online games, chat and all other frivolous activities
5. Headphonophobes
  • Loud music and talk from the speaker of their laptop because they didn't bring headphones or earphones
  • They brought headphones but just don't feel like using them
  • Not inconveniencing anyone with my loud noise, right? You want to hear what I've got on my laptop, right??

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How to Write a Novel Holding a Full-time Job

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

NYT's Nervous Breakdown Over @GSElevator's Book Deal

The Twitter account @GSElevator was recently revealed to be someone by the name of John Lefevre.

The New York Times has breathlessly informed us of this guy's true identity and that he never worked for Goldman Sachs, despite committing the cardinal sin of telling an NYT reporter he did.

The NYT has now published, yes, an editorial about @GSElevator and his six-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster.

The problem? NYT says Lefevre is a "liar" with no credibility. That's their stated issue with the whole thing.

But that's not the real problem and doesn't explain why the NYT is having a tizzy fit over an anonymous twitterer.

The real problem is the fact that @GSElevator regularly criticized Obama, therefore marking himself as an enemy of the NYT and its own frenzied political stance on the far left.

As a side note, the NYT dishonestly lives off a reputation for journalism it earned long ago. By "long ago," I mean World War II. That was over half a century ago. The NYT is now a newspaper that slants news stories in the direction of socialism. That started around, probably, the time of the JFK assassination or thereabouts. It ignores what it doesn't want to report though in theory it should, and what it does choose to report is based on its politics. I can't think of anything more dishonest in a journalistic sense. As honest journalism, the NYT doesn't have any credibility. It has a reputation that it no longer deserves.

As for Lefevre, suppose he were a typical liberal of today. In other words, a socialist/communist hiding behind words like "progressive" or "liberal" until it is socially acceptable to call oneself a communist. Do you think for one moment the NYT would have the slightest problem with Lefevre or his lucrative book deal?

If he had been singing the praises of liberals, the NYT would laud him as a hero and tell us about his "fresh approach," and yadda yadda yadda.

The NYT is in the process of writing so much copy on this guy, they could write their own book about it. The "chapters" are coming fast and furious!

To me, the scribblings of the NYT reveal more about its own failings and shortcomings than anything about @GSElevator or the book publishing business.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stephen Leary Refused to Return Our Repeated Phone Calls

It's a commonplace in the mainstream newspaper media. Somewhere in the last few paragraphs of hundreds of news article:

  1. He did not return our repeated phone calls
  2. He declined to comment
  3. He did not return phone calls seeking comment
  4. He did not respond to a text message seeking comment
  5. He did not return an email seeking comment
I don't see much of these:

  1. He did not respond to our Twitter message seeking comment
  2. He did not respond to our Facebook friend request
  3. He ignored our LinkedIn friend request
  4. We left a comment on his blog seeking comment but he has ignored it
I would think it is understood that contact was attempted with the subject of a news article without stating it. There seems to be some implied condemnation of the person who did not communicate with the newspaper.

Newspapers that built their reputations long ago, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, feel that is is an honor to be contacted by them and it is a person's duty to respond since theoretically, the media is acting in the public good. But it almost goes without saying that newspapers don't practice journalism as it was understood decades ago but now slant everything to their political god.

It is a matter of time before a newspaper story is composed of nothing but a list of ways the reporter attempted to contact the main personage under review, without success.

I'm thinking this will be a new genre in news reporting. The genre of simply writing about how a reporter attempted to contact the subject of a proposed article in numerous ways but was completely unsuccessful. A literary short story is in there, I'm sure.

I'm eager for the day I read in a newspaper the title of this post, "Stephen Leary Refused to Return Our Repeated Phone Calls" because I can see myself doing that, depending on what they want and what I think they would do with the quotes I would give them, which is probably nothing too good, such is the state of the news media these days. Like many, I would judge whether it's something innocuous or, on the other hand, something they would consider in their minds a political opportunity.

I like the idea of mainstream reporters needing to contact me and me not needing to communicate with them. Surely a lot of famous people feel this way. Not so famous people as well, given the large number of news stories I've seen with that paragraph stating the reporter's frustration in achieving contact with the wanted person.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Amtrak Writers Residency Opens Many Possibilities

Amtrak recently has offered "writers' residencies" for those who will ride their trains and write about whatever they want, apparently. The first writer in the program was Jessica Gross, and Amtrak has plans for a long-term program.

Many other transportation companies could offer writers residencies:

  1. Airlines
  2. Metropolitan Mass Transit (BART, DC Metro, etc)
  3. Cruise Lines
  4. Greyhound Bus

People spend a lot of time traveling from one place to another, so the residencies make sense. But many other industries could gain publicity from such programs.

Cafes

Starbucks, Panera, Cosi, etc

Hotel Chains

InterContinental, Hilton, Marriott, etc

Casinos/Resorts

Sports Teams

I think it would be fair to require a writer in residence to write about the company or the industry, and not just anything. This would seem most appropriate for a residency at the Denver Broncos or the Bellagio in Vegas.

Who is eligible for a residency? Possibilities:

  1. Famous Authors
  2. Lottery, anyone can win
  3. Writing Contest, someone judges the winner

Will any of this happen? Will writers residencies become a long-term part of company marketing?

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You Might Also Like:

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  4. My Goodreads Page

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Write a Novel Holding a Full-time Job

How to find time to write a novel while holding down a full-time job?

It can be done, and I'm sure many people do it. I'm going to talk about how I do it and some other suggestions to accomplish the goal of completing your manuscript.

Everyone's circumstances are different. Some people have a wife and kids. Others take classes in addition to working a job. A novel can be written in the downtime in and around your other commitments. The downtime is there. Unless you're a slave, you have time somewhere in your day that you can use for writing.

Before You Go To Work in the Morning

Get up earlier than usual and make it a habit to write before you get to work. You could write at home or go to a place like Starbucks or McDonalds and type on your laptop or mobile device, such as an iPhone.

My preference is to use an iPhone, the Google Drive app on which I keep my manuscripts, and a bluetooth keyboard. The key here is portability. All I need to carry is the iPhone and the little keyboard, which can even fit in an inside jacket pocket. Another option is the virtual laser bluetooth keyboard. This is small device that projects the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface, such as a Starbucks table. Available at places like Amazon.

At Work

Whether you are able to write your book at work depends on your job, your supervisor, your employer, yourself, at the least. Eat on the job and use your lunch hour for writing.

If you use your time efficiently and have a good idea of what you will write in your allotted time, you can accomplish a lot if you do the same thing every day.

I remember seeing Peter Straub at a book festival talking about the "drip" method of writing a novel. A few hundred words every single day and after a year, bingo, you've got a manuscript.

After Work

It's 5 o'clock. Time to go home. Do you absolutely have to go home at that moment? Could you stay in your office and write a few hundred words? Can you go somewhere before you go home? A cafe where you can eat and sit and compose?

If you do go home, take some time for writing, despite other duties, such as cooking dinner, playing with the kids, etc. Carve out some time for writing, even if it's just a half hour.

Traveling To and From Work

If you commute in a car, you might try using a dictation software program, such as the one in the iPhone or something like the Dragon Dictation app. You talk out the paragraphs of your novel and the software translates your spoken words into written words in a file. Later, you edit the file for the words the program may not have understood properly. This works at night as well. Speak into your mobile device instead of typing on its tiny keyboard and get a few hundred more words that way.

If you find time every day for writing those few hundreds words and do that every day, the manuscript will be there. Suppose you wrote 300 words every day of the year. At the end, you would have a manuscript over 100,000 words long! That could be two 50,000 word manuscripts. Two books.

So it can be done. The trick is finding when and how you can get time during your day given your own unique circumstances.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Why You Should Write Your Novel Out of Sequence

Many authors on the message boards claim to write their novels in sequence, starting with chapter 1, then on to chapter 2, then chapter 3, all the way to the end.

That surprises me, because I don't write that way and I don't see how it could possibly be a good idea.

When I work on a novel manuscript, I write whatever part of the story inspires me at the time. It doesn't matter to me if that is the first chapter of the narrative or the last. Once I feel I have enough material for the book, that's when I arrange everything in order, and add whatever may be missing and smooth out the manuscript into its final form. That's the "hard work" part. Arranging all the creativity after it's all been written down.

But if I were writing in sequence, what would I do with all the creative ideas for scenes, characters and dialog that come to me that don't belong at the start of the book? That would mean ignoring and stifling my own creativity.

It's hard for me to believe authors ignore or simply don't think of all these ideas while writing their narratives. And if I don't write them down when I think of them, I risk forgetting and losing everything.

I haven't experienced writer's block. And I think one of the reasons is that I don't write in sequence. I write wherever inspiration takes me. That gives me more options, especially if nothing comes to me for the early chapters.

The second reason for avoiding writer's block is that I work on many book manuscripts at once. Perhaps too many. But when you juggle numerous book ideas and are willing to write at any point in any narrative, it's tough to not actually think of anything to write!

This is how my first novel Murder at the Library Conference was finished. After most everything was written, I then decided what needed to go in chapter 1, then chapter 2, etc. I fished around in the manuscript, found what I had decided was chapter 2, then cut and pasted it into that chapter in the final product.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm Unpublishing My Short Story The Smartphone

I've unpublished my short story "The Smartphone" from Amazon, B&N, etc.

As a "work of literature," I'm satisfied with it. But I intend to republish it later as part of a short story collection or a free giveaway of some sort.

I published it as a way of learning about self-publishing on Amazon and Smashwords. Mission accomplished!