Saturday, March 30, 2013

Acres of Diamonds

About a month ago someone I'd just met challenged me to write about Russell Conwell's Acres of Diamonds speech.

I'm working on it.

It's been a busy month, with Bright Hub in particular, and I'm running behind.  But I've read it and it's rattling around in my brain.  Within a few days I'll have some good ideas about it.

Mr. Conwell is a very persuasive orator.  I'm beginning to think I might actually want to be rich.

June 29: Update

Yes, I'm about 3 months late but I did it one better by writing about Acres of Diamonds for Bright Hub.  So I got it done and I got it published in a place where young people can learn from it, just like Conwell intended.

So if you're out there, mystery assignment guy, I'm finished.  And I learned something.  The "money will corrupt me as an artist" concept I had throughout college was faulty.  Understanding business and building an income will free me as an artist.  Took me a long time to figure that out.

If I ever get to found Eight Six University for the Arts, every idealistic dreamer will be required to minor in economics.  If you ever make any money, starving poet, better know how to invest it.

Find my Acres of Diamonds article and lots of other smart stuff here at Bright Hub.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blog Flash 2013, March 6: Island

(Eureka!  I've done it!  I crafted a time machine.  I transported you all to the future.  While you write on the date and time you believe to be March 14, 2013, here I am back on present-day March 6.  Shine on, you crazy futuristic time-travelling diamonds.  To all of you who thought a poet would never invent a working time machine, put this in your pipes and smoke it.)

Destroying the world is hard, even fictitiously.  The more my Cathartes Aura series grew from animals in a zoo to human experience in the larger world, the more difficult writing became.  Conceiving of a disaster that removes 99% of the world's population and remains believable is nearly impossible.  Most savvy readers will poke holes in your plot.  "Why aren't they all dying of radiation sickness?"  "How come the aliens destroyed every city on the planet but Moosebutt, Alaska?"

What I love about the post-apocalypse is the character study.  What do you do when you realize the life you had is gone, the world you lived in has changed forever and the people you love are dead?  That's why I write about those situations.  Each one of us will react differently.  Some will come together while others fall apart.  Some will have their most noble traits shine through, while others use their most evil instincts.

An idea that's been brewing in my head and crawling through my notebooks is this: a disaster on a remote island that, for a while, changes life so dramatically it might as well be the end of the world.  I'm building my own fictitious Caribbean island on the map next to the existing ones.  Its history and culture will be a mixture of its neighbors'.  Wickedly, I might put it in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle.  If power and communications are down, if hurricane weather prevents travel by air or water, this island might as well be on Neptune.  How will a few thousand residents react to that, especially if they are reduced to a hundred?

I have a lead character, some supporting cast and an idea of the disasters.  I just need time.  Currently, The Penalty Flag and Bright Hub are keeping me busy freelancing.  Plus my job and the search for more freelance work.

Fortunately, I now have a time machine.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blog Flash 2013, March 5: Health

Step right up to learn the secret recipe for the salubrious, funk-doobiest, some think dubious but guaranteed falubrious 46 Ounce Vegetable Bomb.  Proven to cure colds, flu, hayfever and any kind of nasal congestion.

I keep the ingredients around all the time in case I need a blast.  Experience has taught me that when you feel that little itch in your throat, when you get a little stuffiness in your head, when everyone around you is getting sick, you need to attack the germs, viruses and other assorted ick while you are still stronger than they are.

My favorite battle in the war on illness: the 46 Ounce Vegetable Bomb.  Simple, inexpensive and proven effective.  A couple months ago every human in my house had the flu.  Near the end of a night of work, I started getting that feeling.  When I got home, I took one of these, went to bed and woke up cured.  I can confidently say I had the flu for about an hour.


  • Open one 46 ounce can of vegetable juice.  Store brand will do.  You should be able to get one for much less than two bucks.
  • Add as much of your favorite hot sauce as you can stand.
  • Add some more.
  • Pour over ice.
  • Consume all at once.
  • Don't make any plans.

It will make you feel worse before it gets better.  Your gastrointestinal system will not like it, but your sickness will like it less.  Whatever bugs are in you will shout "this %$^&$%^& is crazy!" and flee the scene.  After a nap or a good night sleep, you will be cured.

I'm not a real doctor, but I think the megadose of fluids, vitamins and spice combine to clean your body.  I'm a big fan of spicy soups to clear congestion.  All that nastiness up in your sinuses is where germs thrive and reproduce.

If you really like the idea of microscopic creatures having a sex party in your head, leave the mucus up there.

Trust me.  It hurts but it works.  I've woken up with a cold, had one of these, and gone to work at 4pm cured.

You should ask my wife about her Czech Garlic Soup.  Also a potent weapon.

I never get sick.  I tell people that, they think I've jinxed myself, and then I never get sick.  Above all, I believe in will power.  I'm never sick, tired or stressed.  That's almost true because of my mind-set.

Think of how tiny those little germs, viruses and bacteria are.  How gigantic and powerful are you in comparison?  Crush them, for they are weak.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blog Flash 2013, March 4: Books

Since BlogFlash 2012, my spare time has shrunk further.  Money is tighter.  I work more.  I sleep less.  Hours are more precious.  168 in a week.  I try to use them all wisely.

I love to read.  I'd do it all the time if I could.  I can chew up 1000 pages a week if left alone.  I'd be every indie writer's best homie and would review over 100 things a year.

But reading is a luxury to me.  A selfish luxurious pleasure.  Reading means not working, not hunting freelance gigs, not spending time with wife and kids, not resting up for tomorrow.

I said it last year and I'll say it again:

I don't read.  I have and I will, but I don't.

Probably pisses off every writer I'm associated with.  Idealistic students are saying: "How can you write if you don't read?"  That's what college was for.  That's what vacations or for, if I could ever take one.  Too much reading and you start either copying others or are paralyzed with fear that you will.  I have plenty of imagination but not time.

But before you think I'm totally selfish (and realize to me "selfish" means I only think about my wife, kids, job, house, pets and their future) I am helping a friend from Broken Mic get out his first ebook.  He's published in print but not online.  Coming very very soon is a collection of poetry by Travis Naught ( called "Still Journalling".  He does well what I can never do: explain what's in his own mind.  I need to get to work on his cover, so I'm signing off.

Hope I made you think about books.

Monday, March 4, 2013

BlogFlash 2013, March 3: Innocence

(Running late, but I couldn't think of what to write... until now.)

Being an innocent babe in the virtual woods, I have skipped along into my dream freelance writing career.  A few months into things, I'm beginning to see the reality of it all.

First of all, there are many English speakers around the world willing to accept jobs at pay I'd never consider.  Would you write a 500 word article for $1.50?  Could you imagine writing a few thousand of those a month to pay the bills?  I'd spend it all on suicide.

Second, I just might not be boring enough.  Volumes of work are available to people who can stamp out OMG! entertainment work or fill pages about pharmaceuticals.  If I were a lawyer or a doctor, I could write smart stuff about that.  I'd also be a lawyer or a doctor and wouldn't be looking for freelance writing work.

And third, Craigslist is for scams.  Might as well be Scamlist.  (A good idea, come to think of it.  An online place where you may choose how you'd like to be scammed, since it will happen anyway.)  I feel that some of the blurbs and articles I wrote to audition myself may just be plagiarized.  I've wasted hours on garbage like that.  I consider time to be slightly more valuable than money itself.  I even wandered into a classic give-you-a-big-check-and-wire-some-to-someone-for-expenses scam by someone looking for a "creative writer".

On a side Scamlist note, while looking to sell our van I encountered:

*A buyer who'd send the whole purchase price to my PayPal account, if I'd give that information, and then have someone pick up the van.  He couldn't look at the car first or call me.  He was working on a submarine.

* A person who didn't want to buy the van, but would pay me a couple hundred bucks if I could lock him in the back so he would feel like a little kid.  He wanted to know if this was a "dumb question".

Fortunately, everything in the world that ever happens to us writer types qualifies as useful experience.  I have more imagination than time, unfortunately, but I'm thinking about the story of a freelance writer whose various jobs, contacts and scams begin to interweave.  I'm still thinking of the day I was approached by both a British essay writing firm and a Chinese escort service looking for writers.

Be careful out there.

(Anybody know of any real freelance writing jobs?)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

BlogFlash 2013, March 2: Technology

Sometimes, you just can't go back.

Once exposed to certain new inventions, you can't live without them.  Some I can take or leave.  I've only sent a few text messages in my life and could easily live forever without sending or receiving another.  I'm content with a hand-me-down 32" TV my parents didn't need.  It has a real tube in it.  I don't have time for much TV anyway.

A cell-phone is certainly one of those can't-go-back inventions.  When was the last time you said: "I'm waiting at home for a phone call."  Despite the fact I don't care much about the quality of my TV, I can't live without a DVR.  Not being able to pause or rewind the show I'm watching is barbaric.  I never tell my wife I can't help her because I'm watching the game.  Rushing to the couch because it's almost 9pm and I don't want to miss my show?  Isn't that how cavemen did it?

Skype is firmly on the list of tech my family can't be without.  My wife is Czech.  Her friends and family are all thousands of miles away, but she talks with her mom more often than I talk with mine.  Multiple times per week we have long video chats at my house.  My true Jetsons moment was the day I woke up to find my son in his high-chair in front of the computer being entertained by his aunt in Prague while my wife was in the kitchen.

When my wife doesn't want to walk downstairs to my office to call me to dinner, she'll Skype me from her Ipad.

Don't make me live without free computer-to-computer video communication.  I also don't wash my clothes by beating them against a stone in the river.

BlogFlash2013, March 1: Laughter

(Day One of the BlogFlash and I'm already late.)

My youngest son, now 11 months old, just realized how funny laughter is.  I remember when his big brother had the same epiphany.  When he sees you laughing, it makes him laugh.

The problem is: when I see an 11 month old boy grinning like a clown and chuckling, I can't help but bust up also.  This sets up a very disruptive cycle around my house.  Both of us are so amused by the other, we can't stop laughing.  I find this hilarious, which he thinks is comical.

Eventually one of us falls asleep or has to go to work, otherwise we'd never stop.  One day I'm going to call in and say: "Sorry, he's just too cute.  I can't come in today."

And then there's his three year old brother.  I just realized he can't be bribed with candy, but he'll do anything for smoked pork.