Data Principles for Beginners

I forgot to announce that I released a new title a few days ago called Data Principles for Beginners. If you’ve read the Excel titles you’ll note that I make mention throughout those books about issues I’ve run into on data projects I worked on with respect to structuring data or analyzing it.

Well, this book takes all of those little mentions and puts them in one place as well as exploring a few other key principles that will make life a lot easier for anyone trying to work with their data.

Data Principles for Beginners

 

Possibilities vs. Probabilities

As you might have noticed, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about writing success and what counts and what doesn’t and what’s realistic and what isn’t. That’s what happens when I reach a big milestone. I’m kind of go, go, go and then I hit it and I stop and assess.

So Thursday I went to the monthly writers’ group dinner that I attend and I shared my little happy milestone about grossing six figures and one of the guys said that’s a really rare level to reach, like that was sort of an anomaly and be all, end all. Nowhere to go from there.

My response was that, sure it was hard to hit, but I compare myself to the people netting six figures a year and so all I think of is how far I still have to go.

That’s guy’s response was that it basically wasn’t possible to net six figures a year at this because only about 1 in 10,000 people manage to do it.

My response to that was, well, why can’t I be that one in 10,000?

(I’m pretty sure everyone at the table was like, who would think that highly of themselves that they’d even image they could be that person?)

But, see, that’s the thing.

Just because something isn’t probable doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

Yeah, so most people fail at this. Seen and understood. Witnessed. How many people have I known over the years who wanted to write a novel and never wrote the first draft? How many wrote the first draft and never wanted to edit it? How many tried to get a trade publisher, didn’t manage it, and then quit? How many self-published and then quit when they didn’t have instant success? How many are still publishing and not seeing success?

It is unlikely to see a lot of money from publishing books. I will agree with that 100%. It is not probable that any given author who sets out to make a lot of money writing will ever reach that goal.

But it is absolutely, 100% possible to do so.

Can anyone do it? No. I don’t think so. I think some people are just not in a position mentally or life-wise to make that happen. I think some people are just never going to click with enough of an audience to make it happen.

But it’s possible.

I realized then that that guy reminded me of my grandma. In the sense that my grandma, every single time I talk to her and every single time she sends me a card (and she sends lots of cards, bless her), tells me to “be safe”.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been getting that message from her for over forty years now. Be safe. Be safe. Be safe.

Why not say, “Get out there and take some risks.” “Be adventurous.” “See if you can fail today.” “Do something you’ve never done before.”

But no, it’s always “be safe”.

Because she, like the guy who said these things to me, lives in the world of probability.

It’s a comforting world. If you don’t exceed what’s likely to happen then it’s easy to say, “well, this is how it is for everyone, right? I didn’t make it because most people don’t make it.”

But the possibility mindset is very different. It says, “If one person could do it, why can’t I? What makes them so special that they can succeed where I can’t?”

The possibility mindset pushes through. It keeps driving for the goal when the probability mindset is ready to sit back and admit defeat.

Which one is smarter? Probably the probability one. It’s why I hope my friends with good jobs who’ve worked steadily at them for 20+ years have a guest room with a nice couch when I finally crash and burn. But it’s the possibility mindset that has the potential to achieve what no one thought was possible.

Two interesting ways to frame a problem if nothing else.

Fantasy StoryBundle

All Covers Large.jpg

This blog is mostly about non-fiction, either the Excel guides I publish or writing in general, but I do in fact write fiction and the next few weeks one of my books will be part of a fantasy bundle so I wanted to mention it for any fantasy authors or readers out there who might want to check it out.

My title, Rider’s Revenge by Alessandra Clarke, is about a fierce young woman whose lack of understanding of the world gets her into big, big trouble she barely manages to survive. There’s magic and Gods who meddle in people’s lives and a few surprises I can’t tell you about.

Here’s a review from the SPFBO: ““Rider’s Revenge is a fast-moving epic, featuring a heroine that’s bravely thrown herself into unimaginable peril…for fans of Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina.” – Pornokitsch.com

But that’s just one of the fifteen books in this bundle. Look at the list of participating authors and you’ll see quite a few familiar names there, including Kristine Kathryn Rusch, James A. Owen, and Alan Dean Foster, just to name a few. You can get all fifteen books for just $15 and give money to charity, too.

Or you can get Rider’s Revenge and four other books in the bundle for just $5. (But, really, when the selection is that good, why stop with just five books…)

It’s available now through April 11th, so be sure to check it out before it’s gone: https://storybundle.com/fantasy

Also, if you’re willing, I’d really appreciate any signal boost you can give to get word out about the bundle. They’re good books, I promise.

Life Changes on a Dime

I’m sitting here watching the “blizzard” outside my window. Welcome to March in Colorado. I suspect I’ll lose at least one tree limb before this all out but I’m not willing to venture out into that mess to knock the snow off the trees just now.

Five days ago I was in New Zealand. It was seventy degrees (Fahrenheit), I was sitting next to a lake eating yummy fish and chips, and recharging after far too long of going going going non-stop.

Quite the contrast.

That difference–and the fact that I was in NZ to visit a very close friend who is two years into dealing with a cancer diagnosis–has me all philosophical today.

In my friend’s case they were dragging for a while before the diagnosis, but there was one day when it all flipped for them. When that “gosh I’m tired” feeling turned into “there is something really serious wrong with me and I need to stop right now and find out exactly what it is.” (Brain tumors will do that to you, you know?)

Just like that they found themselves living an entirely new life.

Of course, illness is a weird thing. Two years ago my friend didn’t think they’d make it six months. And I went to visit now because my friend is probably about to start round three of treatments. I could no longer be sure they’d be here next year when I was planning to go to NZ for Worldcon. So I went now.

And I went expecting, I don’t know, someone who was struggling? Someone who was scared? Someone who was demonstrably ill? (I know this person better than that, but it’s easy to project your own feelings onto someone else’s experience.)

I found someone who was definitely changed from who they’d been seven years ago when I saw them last–they can’t take part of your cerebellum and not have some impact–but I didn’t find someone who you’d think was dying.

I was only there 29 hours (crazy, I know), but I’m glad I went. It was perfect timing in so many ways.

My friend has a new scan on Monday. It may mean new drugs and new treatments. A month from now they may be that struggling and scared person I thought I’d find.

Or not. Life’s funny that way. Maybe I’ll get to visit again next July.

That’s the thing about life. You really, truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You can guess, and you’ll probably be right a lot of the time, but one moment can change it all.

One flip of that coin and tomorrow can be better (or worse) (or both at the same time) by magnitudes. That’s what keeps it interesting, right? Always something new around the bend.

How Do I Keep This?

That was the question I asked myself the other day when I was lounging on my couch outside under the little pavilion I put up, on a perfect summer’s day, with a good book to read, and my dog sleeping at my feet.

It was one of those moments when you know you’re content with life and you think, “Ah, if every day could be like this, I’d be happy.”

But the answer to “How do I keep this?” is “You don’t.”

The weather changes, the next book isn’t as good, time passes and we lose those we love.

I had six weeks in 2010 that were almost perfect. I was living in New Zealand, learning how to skydive, in love, making incredibly good money on a challenging project that let me take the reins and run with it. But that passed. The man I was in love with didn’t feel the same, I hurt my knee and quit jumping, the work slowed down, the next project was a miserable slog, and eventually New Zealand said they didn’t want me there anymore.

Life happens.

All you can do is try to be in the moment enough to enjoy the good ones while they last and be prepared enough to adjust as needed when they pass.

(And remember when the dark times come that they too will pass.)

Library Reminder

Just a quick reminder to folks that all of the titles listed on this site are available wide, which means they’re available through Overdrive which is a company who supplies ebooks to libraries and through CreateSpace who sells paperbacks to libraries.

So if you ever have an interest in one of my books but can’t afford it, be sure to check with your local library about ordering in either a paperback copy or an ebook copy. I fully, wholeheartedly support people reading through their library.

Loved the Idea, Hated the Execution

I just finished watching the first season of a show called Crossing Lines. I remember trying to watch it a year or so ago and noping out of it almost immediately when it opened with some scared woman running through the woods being chased by some killer and then being found naked the next day.

But this time I pushed through and watched it anyway. (I should’ve known…)

I love the premise of the show. An international cast of characters from all over Europe identifying and solving cross-border crimes. That’s exactly the kind of show I can really sink my teeth into. Not only was the team well mixed in terms of geography, they were well mixed in terms of gender, too. I think there were three female main characters and four male main characters on the team in the first episode.

This is a type of show I could watch for years if it were good. And parts of it really were.

But…

SPOILER ALERT – STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW

By the end of the first season they’d killed off two of the main female characters. One in the first episode. And they gave that one just enough of a romantic potential to be motivation for one of the other characters. Sort of. Maybe. Not really.

(Everyone seems to have some intense backstory but the emotion really isn’t there except for a few limited scenes here or there and the rest of the time they seem to forget that they have this deep backstory.)

The other female character they just killed for no real good reason. Maybe contract negotiations. But I have to tell you television writer people: there are other ways to have a character leave a series than to kill them. Just sayin’.

So this series that started out with an interesting premise and seemed to have men and women in equal roles had, by the end of the first season, shown itself to be a show that includes female main characters as window dressing instead of legitimate central characters.

(Contrast this with Law & Order: SVU. I watched the first season recently and I don’t think they had a cliched “woman raped and murdered by a man” episode until at least midway through the first season. I want to say the first victim was a man and the second involved a woman as the killer. And Olivia holds her own as a detective, she’s not just there to check a box.)

What’s interesting is that maybe ten years ago I would’ve kept watching Crossing Lines. But maybe it was NCIS killing off at least three female lead characters (Kate, the Director, and Ziva) over the years. Or maybe it’s just heightened awareness of these issues through social media and discussions. But I have no patience anymore for shows that only kill their female main characters.

Life’s too short to support writers who see the world that way. (There are some fiction writers I’ve stopped reading for similar reasons.)

It’s too bad. I’d love to see more shows with an international flair…