Random Thoughts and Comments 20220923

At this point I have four non-fiction titles and four short stories that I narrated myself that are out in audio on at least one site, so I’ve added a new Audiobooks page. That also includes two of my non-fiction titles that were narrated by other narrators many years ago (Budgeting for Beginners and Writing for Beginners, both which were out under different titles for most of that time so may still show up under those other titles when you click through).

Teachable turned out to be a bust for me. There’s a pretty hefty fee to use that site per year and I just didn’t bring enough traffic there on my own to justify it. So I’ve updated the video course page to remove those links.

The Affinity courses are still up on Udemy for anyone who needs them. If you signed up through Teachable and lose access there, which I don’t think you should, reach out to me and I’ll give you a free code for Udemy so you still have access to the material. I have the list of student names so not too hard to see who was impacted.

Sorry about that. I tried. But sometimes in this business you try, fail, and cut your losses.

I’m currently waiting on feedback comments for an AML compliance book so hoping to have that one out next month. One set of comments are already in and just a few minor tweaks to make so I expect it won’t be an issue to get it out on time.

I also want to do the audio of that one so that it’s out there from close to the start, so expect that, too. It’s dry material that is more interesting when narrated. Still dry, but less so.

I’m still toying with the idea of a YouTube channel. But I have commitment issues and know to do it right I’d have to post regularly there. So I may half-ass it and just put up the short stories and an intro video. I expect that seeing videos of my middle-aged writer self who doesn’t feel inspired to look good for the camera may be a limiting factor on that one.

I am vain enough to want to look good, but too lazy to do what would be required. Story of my life. (Haha. Sigh.)

I don’t know about anyone else but August was an ugly sales month for me. Partially because of AMS.

If you aren’t checking search terms on your ads, definitely do so, especially in the UK. I don’t know if this is a change on Amazon’s end or if people have just gotten sick of seeing ads for irrelevant books, but I noticed with some newer ads I tried to start that the search terms people were clicking on for some of my ads were wildly off base.

A book on Microsoft Access that used access as a keyword was getting clicks for things like “accessibility aids”. I always try to anticipate those things with negative keyword phrases, but some just had not crossed my mind.

And unfortunately AMS does not show you search terms people use where they don’t click. (Please do that instead of all the other weirdness you keep doing developer folks? Just top 50 maybe? Or ones with more than 500 impressions?)

That means there’s no way usually to know those wildly inappropriate matches are happening.

But it seems in the UK at least last month folks were clicking on those ads, so I was able to get a lot of new negative keywords for some of my ads from looking at those search terms.

At a cost, of course. Those clicks that gave me that info were not free.

What else? I recently went from a 12 GB RAM laptop to a 32 GB RAM laptop for my work computer, and wow what a difference. With 12 GB RAM every time they want to do updates it just kills my computer. So when you think new computer next time around, I’d say think increased RAM. A lot of what drove my decision was graphics because of ads/covers, etc. but that slowdown issue was part of it, too.

Also, hugs to everyone out there. I have a friend I’ve known for over 30 years who I saw this last week and who was at the breaking point because of life.

This is a person who did their med school residency while helping run the family business and was just fine for that (other than general exhaustion), so not someone who breaks easily.

But I think the past few years have just been a lot for a lot of people.

Understaffing, illness, life stressors…

So if you’re one of those folks who just feels knocked sideways these days, you’re not alone. Even the strong ones are breaking.

I know it doesn’t solve anything to say that, whatever troubles you’re facing are still there, but know it’s not just you. Be kind to yourself.

Just Throwing This Out There

As someone with a background in regulation and rule enforcement, I think it’s important to remind people that rules and regulations are only effective if the majority of people voluntarily follow them and if someone chooses to enforce them.

Let’s take speeding as an example. Here in the United States there are speed limits on most roads. And I would argue that 95% of people exceed those speed limits. Maybe less than that, but most people are probably at least 5 miles per hour over.

I still remember when I was a kid my dad telling me to never go more than 10 over the speed limit. And he was right. Because the only speeding tickets I’ve ever received were when I was going more than ten over.

That’s because the number of police officers available to enforce the speed limit is minuscule when compared to the number of instances of speeding, so they focus their efforts on the worst offenders.

When ten cars drive by at 5 over the speed limit a single police officer can’t pull them all over. But he can pull over the guy weaving in and out of traffic doing thirty over.

As a result most people will be motivated to keep their behavior relatively in check because they will see someone getting a ticket or hear about it and not want that to happen to them.

The visible enforcement against a small minority ensures group compliance.

But if a rule is deemed to not be important? It doesn’t even get enforced at all.

Pre-legalization of pot in Colorado I want to say that on 4/20 there were thousands who’d turn out for smoking events.

Maybe some of them got citations or arrested, but my non-interested observer memory is that mostly we’d just hear about how a bunch of people showed up to smoke pot in the open one day a year and left behind a bunch of garbage that had to be picked up.

Police could have arrested all those people, but there wasn’t a will to do so. Even when pot was illegal there wasn’t social support to strictly enforce those rules on that day.

I mention this because there are a lot of scary changes coming to the United States over the next few years. And from all the coverage I’ve seen, most people in the United States do not want those changes. This is not coming from the majority.

So don’t enforce them. Don’t comply with them. We’ve had laws on the books of every state in this country that haven’t been enforced in decades and haven’t been complied with in decades.

And, yes, if people choose to not comply there will be arrests and charges filed. They want that example. They want to cow everyone else into submission with a few visible victims.

To that I say, clog up the fucking courts. Clog up the already overcrowded prisons. Give them so many people to charge with “crimes” that they can’t possible do so.

Are they really going to arrest every woman in their state who uses an IUD and charge her with murder?

No. They can’t. Their success depends on submission from the medical establishment and from a majority of people too scared to say no to their absurd attempts to impose their narrow and limited worldview on everyone else.

If everyone stands against them they will not have enough manpower, court availability, or jail cells to hold them.

Laws and regulations are a social construct. They’re something that we collectively agree to in order to find a way to live with one another.

Noise ordinances are annoying until you have a newborn and a neighbor who blasts music in the middle of the night and then you understand where those come from, right? But if your neighbor just has one blowout party a year you probably cuss them in your head and let it go.

We collectively compromise so we can find a middle ground that is no one’s ideal, but that lets us each live a decent life.

But when that fails…

When whole groups of people can no longer live a valid life because of the laws and regulations passed by a minority?

Then it’s time to stop complying. Collectively and in large enough numbers that they can’t possibly single one person out to make an example of them.

Creatives: Watch This

I’d never actually watched Dan Howell before. I am not a YouTube watcher. He’s very engaging. The video is over an hour long, but he keeps you on the hook for pretty much the entire time.

But the reason to watch it is that at a meta level it’s very much a lot of what has happened for self-publishers over the last ten years as well. The hustle, the legitimacy issues, the algorithms, the Amazon loyalty, the write for fun versus write what sells struggle, the burnout.

It’s all there. It’s not a mirror of every creator’s journey, but at the same time it’s a good insight into the overall shifts and adjustments and debates I’ve seen in self-pub world.

And, like I said, engaging. I thought I’d watch the first 20 minutes but I just kept on watching to the end.

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220428

The whole Twitter meltdown maybe for nothing this past week was interesting to watch. Everyone saying, “where are you going?” in hopes of not losing the connections they’d made on a third-party site. And the site I saw mentioned the most not even being one I’d heard of before.

I am a Luddite with my blog here and pretty much nothing else. I know that social media sells books because I’ve bought books from authors I saw on social media, but a lot of it seems like so much time and energy spent for not much result.

And I’ve also probably sworn off buying from as many authors because of social media so it ultimately comes to down to how likeable you are. Me, not so much, so I focus elsewhere.

I’m pretty sure I redid something like thirty covers this month. I got stuck on some of my writing projects and it always feels productive to redo covers even if it has no actual impact on my bottom line.

I do think the covers I redid were better. (I just redid the Office 2019 ones and like this new style much better, for example.) But I’m not sure they were so much better that it was worth the effort.

This is why I like to do most of my own covers, though. Because at least when I get the urge to rebrand it’s a fun design exercise for me and only costs time not lots of money.

I also saw that you can now do auto-narrated audiobooks on Google, but I’m thinking that’s a no for me.

I might have tried it with some of my older non-fiction if I didn’t already have that in audio, but overall I don’t think auto-generated anything can give the right inflection that fiction requires.

Plus, it wasn’t clear how much you could fix the pronunciation. I have Word read my cozies to me as a final check and the way it pronounces “grimaced” has made me almost stop using that word. (Almost. I really like to have characters grimace.)

I think sometimes with this business it’s a matter of knowing where not to spend your time as much as anything. (I paid for that PublishDrive AppSumo deal last year and did load some of my books there but I’d already covered the major stores so it was obscure stores only and…crickets. Should’ve probably passed on it, but FOMO.)

In non-writing things…

I think I’m going to move again, which is annoying and disruptive.

I have nine bookcases at the moment because I swapped out some shorter ones for six-footers. Packing and moving that many books is always a lot of effort.

But it turns out that even though I wasn’t here for the worst of the fire I get a little twitchy on windy days now.

We had some absurd extremely high fire danger day last week and instead of working I spent the day refreshing Twitter to see if a fire had started anywhere nearby in case we needed to evacuate since last time I wouldn’t have received a notice. (Climate change is real folks.)

Even knowing the difference now between “gee the sky looks grayish, I wonder if there’s a fire somewhere” and “something is definitely on fire nearby” doesn’t make me rest easy.

I should take comfort from the fact that so much burned here that it’s unlikely it’ll happen again. But the crazy thing about walking around this area is seeing how much didn’t burn. A thousand homes were lost but if you look at where the fire was and what could’ve burned it’s a miracle we didn’t lose twice as many homes. Fences and drainage areas between homes burned but the homes on either side were untouched.

It’s crazy to think about.

Of course every time I decide to move it’s this whole weighing of competing priorities and choices.

My family is here so I want to stay here for now. But that’s an expensive choice compared to moving to Smalltown, Wherever. I could go buy a cute little house with a cute little yard and ignore my neighbors but have the perfect home for me and my dog right now.

But then I’d feel bad about not being here for my 93-year-old grandma and my won’t-get-vaccinated-but-is-high-risk mom.

So trade-offs have to be made.

Of course, that means multiple conversations with my mom where she says things like, “Oh, so that new place you’re looking at doesn’t have a dog park?” and leaves the disapproving silence to speak for itself. Her belief that my dog needed a yard even though we’d only ever lived in apartments at that point is how I ended up buying a house eight years ago.

But I am not worrying about that this time around. My dog literally sleeps 22 hours of every day and sometimes refuses to leave the apartment more than twice in a day. I think she’ll be fine without the dog park.

Also, after two-plus years one of my inner circle finally caught COVID. I was one of those people who had somehow managed to have all of my immediate family and close friends not get it. (Helps when one of my best friends lives in New Zealand.)

Even the ones that were taking more risks than I’d be comfortable with somehow had stayed safe until now.

But that’s the thing. It’s a chance each time you’re out there, right? And for this person one of those chances went against them. They’re triple-vaxxed so hopefully okay, but they said they feel the worst they ever have in their life right now. And they have some risk factors, so here’s hoping it’s just a few unpleasant days.

It is a reminder, though, that the basic facts of what we’re facing haven’t changed. (If anything they’ve gotten worse over the last two years in terms of transmissibility.) But each time we take a risk and come out okay we mentally adjust our risk calculations to think we’re actually safer than we are because that thing didn’t happen to us.

In skydiving that’s why so many injuries happen to mid-level experienced skydivers.

You start out and you’re nervous because you’re jumping out of a frickin’ plane but you don’t really know what you’re risking.

And then you learn just how dangerous it can actually be and it’s like, “oh god, that idiot that was lighting his breath on fire last night could take me out and there’s nothing I could do about it” or “wait, you mean, I could actually survive a bad jump and be permanently injured instead? Ugh.”

But if you get past that stage then it’s like, “I’m a sky god who obviously isn’t facing the same odds as everyone else because I have safely jumped out of a plane 500 times now and see me swoop?”

Yes, right into the frickin’ ground because you thought the same rules don’t apply to you, dude. But they do.

It’s fascinating how mindset impacts risk. I’m sure there’s lots of research on it out there if only I went looking for it. But right now I’m reading up on chaos theory. From a book that was originally published like 40 years ago…

Too much information out there. Not enough time to absorb it all. Too bad we don’t get like 100 tries at this life just to see the possible outcomes, you know? Like playing through a video game with branching story lines more than once.

Ah well. We only get the one go. And my dog is due to be fed in this one, so…

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220419

First, on a non-writing front:

Just because you want something to be one way doesn’t mean it will be. This is true of so much in life. You can’t make that person love you. You can’t force that other person to treat you a certain way. You can’t make yourself be other than who you are wired to be.

And, in this case, you can’t just wish a virus away. COVID is not over. It’s maybe in a dip right now in some parts of the world, but we are way too interconnected these days for that to be something you can rely upon when making decisions about a life-altering illness.

So many people seem to have missed that the mitigations we put in place were protecting them from far worse outcomes. They see that X didn’t happen and they assume that’s because people were wrong about the possibility of X instead of realizing that A, B, C, and D are what kept X from happening.

I expect we have some “fun” times ahead as people throw out A, B, C, and D.

Also remember that the government is always going to be behind the ball in telling you when to protect yourself and will also probably act too soon in telling you it’s all clear.

(I saw that with the fire we had here in December. I decided to evacuate at about 12:30 because things just didn’t seem right. The evacuation order didn’t come through until 1. And chances are things were on fire right near me at noon.)

Anyway. Be careful out there. As the child of someone who had a long-term life-altering illness that eventually killed them forty years later, I assure you that death is not the only bad outcome to worry about.


One of the things I loved about CliftonStrengths was that it highlighted where your “superpowers” are. Those attributes that make you unique and capable of amazing accomplishments.

Lean into your Strengths and you can do things you’d never imagined were possible.

But one of the reasons I drifted away from the official coaching group on Facebook and general discussions around Strengths in other forums was because people seem to have this relentless need to diagnose what is wrong with them and others.

So instead of saying “This part of this Strength is what makes me shine” or “This is what makes you powerful,” they say, “This part of this Strength is what limits me and needs to be fixed” or “You are flawed because of this.”

Today it happened to be a post about Maximizer and depression and perfectionism. But I’ve seen it so many times in so many settings.

(For me personally, Maximizer, which is in my top ten, manifests as “this is a waste of my time, next”. My Maximizer lets me know when to quit. It doesn’t insist that I do everything to the max. I suspect that the quote I saw shared wasn’t even using maximizing in a Strengths context, but when you go looking for flaws, you find them.)

Here’s the deal.

No one is perfect. And, yes, that thing you have that no one else has is what can feel alienating or frustrating or challenging.

It is not easy to have some Strengths high. I saw that with coaching. For example, writers who were high in Empathy and high in Significance both struggled with it. For very different reasons.

But when they leaned into those Strengths and accepted them as Strengths, they were empowered by them.

You want to be center stage and that fact drives you to improve and keep trying and produce more than most people can? Great. Lean into that and you will make it to center stage.

You honestly, truly feel others emotions as if they’re your own and that leads you to writing incredibly powerful character moments that have readers screaming for more? Awesome. Do it. Go there. Embrace that emotional depth. It will build you a loyal audience that keeps coming back for more.

You need to lean into what sets you apart, not try to tone it down or fix it to please others.

And, yes, there can be negative sides to every Strength. My #1 Strategic has made me less than accommodating at times. But the answer is not to suppress the Strength. Or to hate it.

If you hate one of your top three Strengths, that’s a problem that likely needs mental health counseling.

(And I don’t say that to be flippant. I say that because if you hate what makes you special and unique and capable of great things, that’s something that needs work. And it’s not something a Strengths coach is trained to deal with.)

So. My advice:

Accept that you have flaws, but still embrace what makes you capable of success, and don’t give that up just because it sets you apart in some way.

Do They Just Want the World to Burn?

Friday I submitted my courses to Udemy. Saturday I saw a sale on each of the three courses that had been approved. And I thought, “Oh, hey, that’s nice, someone needed that content and already found it. Cool. Surprised they did all three, but maybe they wanted to lock in that sale price. Nice.”

Today I woke up to no sales showing on those courses.

And I thought, “Hm. What are the odds that someone signed up for three brand new courses and then asked for a refund on all three within 24 hours?”

So I Googled. And, sure enough, someone had stolen the content and posted it on their own site, blatantly labeled as having come from Udemy.

Now, personally, I don’t think stealing any content is okay. Someone worked hard on that product and they deserve the right to be paid for that work and someone who takes their content is, in my opinion, a complete asshole. And thief.

But setting aside that part of things…

Why? Why steal from someone who hasn’t even sold a copy yet.

The course could be awful. It could be worthless nonsense. If you’re going to steal things and you’re that type of person, why wouldn’t you, I don’t know, steal the popular courses? Where your blatant theft wouldn’t be so obvious?

I mean, pretty easy to tell who the student was who signed up for the course, took the content, and then asked for a frickin’ refund because they couldn’t even bother to pay $10 for the content they didn’t create that they posted to their site when there’s only one student.

So what’s the point? This site/person/whoever just steals everything off Udemy?

It’s like the dudes who’ve pirated my romance audiobook and put it up on Youtube. Why? No one has listened to it. You’ve made nothing. So you’re just a random thief from little creators for…kicks?

Weirdly enough, I think about ethics and honesty and how we treat one another a lot. Maybe it’s because of my regulatory background. Maybe it’s because I have too much free time. Maybe it’s because I come across those people who think it’s good to cheat more than I should and I try to figure out what makes them tick and how to argue them into being better people.

Altruism is not gonna cut it with those types. They don’t care about being nice or fair.

Because on the surface if you don’t believe in some punishment at the end of the years we get to live, it seems like the best life strategy is to take what you can and damn everyone, right?

Just cheat left, right, and center and hope you don’t get caught. Or at least not punished. Because that strategy will let you personally get the most out of your life. With that mindset morality is just a social construct that’s someone else’s attempt to hold you back from getting what you could.

I can see how that’s a shiny argument to some people.

But the reason that’s not the path I choose to take and not the path I think is the optimal one is because it results in a really shitty world. If everyone chooses that path, you get a really horrible place to live.

Why create anything of value or beauty if it’s just going to be taken or destroyed by someone else?

Why engage in acts of kindness if people are just going to exploit that kindness by lying or taking what they don’t need?

(It’s why I don’t trust Go Fund Me postings. If I was at the vet and someone was crying in the corner because their dog needed surgery and they couldn’t afford it, I’d help. But some sad story posted on the internet by a stranger that I’m supposed to trust because it sounds sad? Nope. Too many liars and cheats in this world.)

Every time someone cheats or steals or lies like that our overall world gets a little worse. It contracts a little more. We take a step towards a worse world because one more person gives a little less than they could.

The cheaters need the rest of us to be honest and trusting and hard-working or the whole system collapses. But with each theft and lie they take us all one step closer to that collapse.

I hate it. And I wish I had some super power where I could just push each one that revealed themselves into an alternate reality where they could fight over a trash heap with others like themselves.

Instead I get to watch someone steal something I worked hard on and my only available response is to send takedown notices and hope someone cares enough to do something about it. Good times.

An Interesting Development to Watch

I stumbled across this post on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewMayne/status/1511827454536474626

Or maybe it was another one, but ultimately it led me to discussion about an AI tool that’s in development called DALL-E 2 which basically can take a text-based description and create an image from it.

For example, that link above is for an image that was generated based on “a raccoon astronaut with the cosmos reflecting on the glass of his helmet dreaming of the stars” and it absolutely nailed it.

I just backtracked and what led me down that rabbithole was a post on Chuck Wendig’s page where someone had asked for an image of “a rabbit detective sitting on a park bench and reading a newspaper in a victorian setting” and that one is amazing, too.

The context in which that was shared was talking about the implications for designers or illustrators. If someone can generate an image like that in a minute, where does that leave designers?

But for me as a self-published author who prefers to do my own covers the majority of the time, I see the possibility of having illustrated fantasy covers at a lower price point, which would be fantastic.

Imagine being able to pay for a software that lets you say “dragon in the sky breathing fire with mountains” and you have that in a minute instead of six weeks where you’re trying to track down the designer who flaked on you.

I’m sure there will be limitations. Some of the examples I saw from a similar tool that was making the rounds a while back were amazing but most were not.

And I have no idea what they’ll charge for the tool or if there will be limits on commercial use. But if you’re trying to keep an eye out for future industry developments, I’d say this is one to watch.

27 Years

27 years ago today my dad passed away. And to this day he is still the single-most important influence on my life.

I think the people who are there for us during our formative years have some sort of special power in our lives that no one else can touch.

Who we are raised to be as children influences everything that comes after. My life has taken some very interesting turns over the years, but that core sense of self was set when I was a kid.

And I think in a large part my values as well. I can be influenced by my environment sometimes, but there is a range in which I exist that I think is fixed and that range came from my dad who no matter how hard life was remained kind and honest.

He had this quiet confidence in his kids that I can’t adequately describe. And an acceptance, too. We were great just as we were and he loved us completely without reservation.

He didn’t sit around giving us rah-rah, you can do it speeches, he just…believed in us.

He was an example to me, too, of how you can keep going and somehow make it all work no matter how bad it gets.

He grew up under a basic death sentence, because at the time there was no state-provided medical care for dialysis patients so he knew when he lost his kidneys he’d die because he couldn’t afford the treatment.

But then the law changed and he was able to keep going. A life expectancy of twenty-some years turned into 45.

That doesn’t mean it was easy. There was never a point in my childhood where we knew what the next year would bring. My dad had two failed transplants,two spinal fusions, lost part of a lung, had pericarditis, and all sorts of other medical surprises on top of business and other life upsets.

But he always landed on his feet. And did it with grace and compassion and love. I don’t think I ever heard him complain about how life wasn’t fair, it just was what it was and that’s what he had to deal with.

So many people focus on being famous or having the most money. Acquiring the best things. Winning.

But I have to tell you, we’d live in a helluva lot better world if more people were like my dad and focused instead on loving and caring for the people in their immediate life.

I was absolutely blessed to have him for a dad and am grateful every day for the years I did have with him. And I hope by the time my life is over I will have done a tenth as much as he did to make the world a better place.

A Thing I Will Never Understand

I see this pop up on Twitter on a semi-regular basis but it seems that maybe something similar has hit Tik Tok. And it’s this notion that it’s okay to pirate or read and return books because “capitalism sucks” or some such nonsense.

What people don’t understand is that the person they punish when they do that is not the big corporation that they think they’re stealing from. It’s the creators.

I mean, do you really think Amazon takes that financial hit when you return a book? No. They pass it on to the author. That money you got back to buy that next book? Came right out of the author’s pocket.

And piracy? Reading off of some random website instead of paying for the product? That’s why great series get cancelled before they’re finished. Because the economics aren’t there to continue it so either the publisher or the author thinks, “well, guess we’ll put our time and effort into something that might pay the rent instead.”

I mean, you have to understand that a creator is probably making anywhere from 35 cents to a few bucks off of most of their sales.

Each month they have to scrape together enough of those sales to add up to a mortgage/rent and food and car maintenance and all those other little pesky things in life.

It’s why most writers have to have other jobs.

Because, let’s be generous and say that a creator makes $2.50 per sale. And let’s say that their rent or mortgage is $1,500 which may be high for some places but low for others. That means that a creator needs 600 sales per month just to keep a roof over their heads. And that’s not covering pesky things like food. And health insurance. And clothes. (Although, admittedly, working from home by yourself means your clothes needs are pretty minimal.)

And you know what happens when an author has to have another job just to be able to eat? They don’t write as much. That book you loved so much you just had to steal it? Doesn’t get written. Or more of the same doesn’t get written. Or what does get written is fast, easy, derivative stuff that all starts to sound the same.

Take it far enough and what you end up with is books written by affluent white men and housewives with some free time on their hands. Not the diversity of stories that people claim they want so much.

If you want interesting and different stories, you have to make it possible for them to be written. By, you know, paying real cash money for them. (Because, yes, we do live in a capitalist hellscape where nothing is free and no one is guaranteed a roof over their heads or food on their table. At least in the United States.)

I honestly hate this notion that seems to exist out there that “life is hard for me so I’ll make it hard for others”. Yeah, the world needs to improve. Absolutely.

But stealing books? Not the way to do it.

And if you don’t have money for a book? Try a library. Authors get paid for library sales and they’re a great way to be discovered by other readers, too.

Or read free books. There are probably more free books available right now, today, than a person could read in a lifetime.

(And if you’re like, “but not the book I want to read” well sit and think about that a minute would you? It means someone created a product that you liked enough that, I don’t know, maybe you could pay them for it? Just a thought.)

Seriously, people. If you want the world to be a better place, start with your own actions.

(And my apologies to most of my readers who do not in fact pirate books or read and return who just got a little blast of negativity in their day. One of the things I generally try to do is not pass on negativity, but I seem to not be doing so well at that the last few weeks. I will try to do better, but this one really had to be said for that one person who might see it and change their behavior. Each person who tries to do better is one more drop added to making the world a better place, and enough drops of water can topple a mountain.)

Random Comments and Thoughts 20220329

First off, closed captions on the Affinity Publisher videos are done so anyone who accesses the courses through Teachable, every video should have them now. Also, if you have the quick takes course I added a few more videos there and will probably add more until it covers all the items in the appendix for the non-fiction book, too.

Also, color versions of all four Affinity books will be going live soon. IngramSpark was offering a code for five free publications in March (now extended to the end of April), so I figured why not. For the ads and book covers titles, I think the color version is the better one to purchase. For fiction layouts and non-fiction, eh. There are some images where it’ll help to have the color version, but not sure it’s worth the added cost.

And I got my SFWA approval today so that was a nice and painless process. Now to have the discipline to not get caught up in yet another author forum but to write instead.

In other thoughts…

I picked up a book called Originals by Adam Grant and have been working my way through it. I’m only sixty pages in, but there were a few comments already that struck me.

One was this fact that they found that people who had the highest originality were also the most prolific. And I think that holds true with writing, too. Those first few books you’re sort of wrestling with what you’ve already read or your own personal issue that drove you to write.

And we all do have themes that run through our writing long-term. But after the first few books where you get the obvious out on the page, I think that’s when you really start to dig down and find new and interesting things you hadn’t thought about exploring before.

I’ve definitely heard the “seek more ideas” sort of advice in writing courses as well. That notion that you shouldn’t stop at the first, second, or third thing that comes to mind, but should keep going until you get something that wasn’t the easy, obvious choice.

Another thing that he mentioned that was interesting was this notion that a short, intense, heavily prolific period is best for creating original work. It’ll produce duds, too, but it seems to be the best way to produce some gems along the way.

So, basically, if you’re given the choice to write a million words in a year or a million words over five years, choose the shorter time period if you want to write the most original work.

An interesting concept. And maybe one worth testing.

There’s a lot more in there. Like our tendency to hear someone else’s idea and somehow incorporate it as our own. And that being successful in one domain makes us have hubris that we’ll also be successful in others which turns out to not be the case. And that outsiders tend to be the most original. And that someone can be brilliant at having ideas, but not at the execution of those ideas.

All valid and worth a ponder and I’m only 1/5 of the way through.

Also someone shared the other day this great interview by Jennifer Lynn Barnes on the psychological phenomenon of the peak-end effect as applied to writing. Well worth considering if you want to make a story pop all that much more.

(I’m sad that she’s no longer a professor because that means one of my random “maybe someday” life plans of moving to Oklahoma and trying to apply to study with her is no longer possible, but I’m glad to see she was so successful at putting her research to work that she could quit her teaching job to write full time. I’m also hoping that means one day we’ll get a writing advice book from her which I will buy in an instant. I absolutely loved her talks at the Denver RWA conference I attended.)

So, yeah. Back to it.