What sort of writer do I want to be? (#blogboost)

When I started telling people I was a writer, naturally they asked, “What kind of writing do you do?” I’d be stuck for an answer. I’d tell one person that I wrote thrillers, another that I wrote mysteries, and finally I just told them “literary fiction.” Mostly, what I wrote was characters standing around waiting for something to happen. It was like reading the phone book: no plot, but a hell of a cast.

Well, last week, Eden Mabee wrote a thought-provoking sponsor post on the ROW80 blog called “Honoring Who You Are.” Right up front, she asks

Do you know who you are as opposed to who you want to be? Do you respect that person’s needs and passions? Do you even know those needs and passions?

You know what? I didn’t have a clue. So I thought and prayed about it.

Turns out, I was telling people I wrote various kinds of fiction, but in truth I didn’t want to write fiction. I don’t even like to read it that much. I wanted to write stories about my family. I wanted to write humorous essays. My heroes were newspaper columnists, not novelists. I don’t (intentionally) write fiction on this blog. It’s why I like doing it so much. I like to persuade, inform, and entertain, just as I did when I was a trainer for all those years.

Persuade, Inform, Entertain: PIE. Made at Quozio.com
Persuade, Inform, Entertain: PIE. Made at Quozio.com

In short, I write creative non-fiction. That’s where my passion is. That’s what I want to do. Does that mean I’ll never write fiction again? Of course not. I’ve just come to the conclusion that’s not where I belong right now.

Thanks for listening.

How about you? Are you doing what you want to do?

It’s Hall of Fame Sunday! (#blogboost)

I try very hard not to spend too much time on the blog talking about baseball, because I know that a lot of you aren’t baseball fans, and this really isn’t a baseball blog. But I’m a baseball fan, and today is the day The National Baseball Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony. I’m proud to say that they are inducting six men, three as players and three as managers, into the Hall this year, all of whom have a connection to at least one of the teams of which I’m a fan, the Chicago White Sox and the Atlanta Braves.


  • Tom Glavine: Tom pitched for the Braves from 1987 to 2002 and again in 2008 and for the New York Mets in 2003 to 2007. He is fourth in career wins by a left-handed pitcher with 305 (maybe the last pitcher to win 300 games), a ten-time All-Star, won the NL Cy Young Award twice (1991 and 1998), and the Silver Slugger award as the best-hitting pitcher four times. He pitched the first Braves game I listened to in 1988, and if you had told me that he was a future Hall of Famer after that game, I’d have laughed at you. He was the winner in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, which the Braves won four games to two over the Cleveland Indians. He now does analysis for Braves telecasts. Tom and I share a birthday (March 25).
  • Greg Maddux: There were many who considered Greg the greatest pitcher of all time. He won the NL Cy Young Award four consecutive times, from 1992 through 1995, an eight-time All-Star, and earned seventeen Gold Gloves. He won 355 games overall, 194 with the Braves, 133 with the Chicago Cubs. As such, he’ll be entered into the Hall without a team insignia on his cap.
  • Frank Thomas: Frank hit 448 of his 521 home runs with the White Sox, a team record. Primarily a designated hitter, he was AL MVP twice, earned the Silver Slugger four times, had a lifetime batting average of .301 and OPS of .974, and is one of the few recent players to walk more than he struck out (he only struck out over 100 times in a season three times). Frank is from Columbus, Georgia, and played baseball and football for Auburn. White Sox announcer gave him the nickname “The Big Hurt.”


  • Bobby Cox: He led the Braves to 14 division titles, five NL pennants, and one World Series title from 1991 through 2005, and led the Toronto Blue Jays to a division title in 1985. In total, he won 2,504 games and lost 2,001 as a manager. He also managed to be thrown out of 163 games (162 regular-season and one postseason). Despite that, he was named AL Manager of the Year once and NL Managter of the Year three times. He had a brief career as a third baseman with the New York Yankees (1968-69) before bad knees ended it. He hit his first home run against Gary Peters of the White Sox in 1968. I never forgot that. I ran into Bobby at Starbucks one Sunday, and he is a truly nice man.
  • Tony LaRussa: Tony’s playing career spanned eleven seasons (1963-1973) but he only played 132 games in six major-league seasons in that span. Tony’s first major-league managerial job came in 1979, when he was hired as White Sox manager. The highlight of his eight years with the White Sox was winning a division title in 1983. That was the first time the White Sox went to the postseason since 1959, for which all of us White Sox fans will be eternally grateful. He was fired by the Sox in 1986 and hired almost immediately by the Oakland Athletics, who he led to four division titles, three AL pennants, and a World Series win. He left the A’s for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, and led them to seven division titles, three NL pennants, and two World Series wins, retiring after the second with a career record of 2,728 wins and 2,365 losses. He was named AL Manager of the Year three times and NL Manager of the Year once.
  • Joe Torre: Joe had the best playing career of the three managers, and some feel that he should have made the Hall as a player. in eighteen seasons, he had a batting average of .297 and an OPS of .817, hitting 252 home runs and driving in 1,185, was a nine-time All-Star and NL MVP in 1971. He played for the Braves from 1960-1968, the Cardinals from 1969-74, and the New York Mets from 1975-1977 as a catcher, third baseman and first baseman. He managed the Mets from 1977 to 1981, the Braves from 1982 to 1984 (winning one division title), the Cardinals from 1990 to 1995, the New York Yankees from 1996 to 2007 (winning ten division titles, six AL Championships, and four World Series), and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2008 to 2010 (winning two division titles). In all, his record was 2,326 wins and 1,997 losses.

Congratulations to all of them!

Time Management Secret: “YES Makes Less” from “Writers In The Storm” (#blogboost)


Jenny Hansen is one of my favorite bloggers; I know I’ve said that before, but it’s worth repeating. She has an excellent post on the Writers in the Storm blog about time management that is worth your while to read. She explains the phrase “Yes Makes Less.”

Go on over to Writers in the Storm and give it a read, and let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Picking on Facebook Again… (#blogboost)

Everybody here loves social media, right? And, if I had to guess, nearly everyone is on Facebook, right? Let me ask you a question, then…

Have you noticed that, the less time you spend on Facebook, the better you feel? I know I do. I signed off of Facebook on July 2, and except for a couple of times, mostly to research this post, I’ve stayed off. And probably will.

Why? It all has to do with some psychological experimentation they decided to conduct on a small segment of their users a while back. Evidently they were curious about seeing more positive or more negative updates caused people to post more or less frequently. So, rather than asking people if they’d like to participate in their experiment, they just sort of conducted it on 700,000 randomly-chosen users. The results of the experiment were published earlier this year.

Well, the crap hit the fan at the end of June, and on July 23, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, apologized… not for doing it, but for “poorly communicating” that they were doing it. It seems that, buried somewhere in the terms of service, Facebook has said that they can do this. They just never did a good job of telling people that. Oops.

It’s one thing to know that you’re part of a psychological experiment. When I took Psychology at Northwestern back in the paleolithic period, part of the deal was that you had to sign up to be a part of a certain number of experiments to pass the course. You knew that you were being experimented on. This is a different story: I don’t know if I was made a part of this experiment, and if so, which group I was assigned to. Like a lot of Americans, I have dysthymia. I don’t need some social media company deliberately manipulating what I see to make me feel better or worse. If someone was already depressed, how could this have made it worse? What if someone took their own life or harmed themselves or others so Facebook could see how to manipulate their newsfeed for advertisers?

I’m not naive enough to think that Amazon, Google, et al. aren’t using the things I do online to tailor the results I get based on what I’ve done in the past. I expect that. In the case of Amazon, I almost welcome it, other than the fact that they keep recommending Regency romance novels to me because Mary and I share the same account. What Facebook did is different: they deliberately pushed positive or negative news to people who didn’t know it was being pushed to them, all because they were afraid that too much negative stuff in your timeline might cause you not to use the service and that the advertisers who are paying big money for Facebook to push their ads might take their business elsewhere if people stop using Facebook.

This is why I don’t add a social media link for Facebook here. You see links for Twitter and Google+, but I refuse to add one for Facebook. I won’t be spending much time there anymore, anyway…

The Thursday Ten: Top Ten Lists! (#blogboost)


I was brainstorming today’s topic and had a revelation: Maybe this week I could do a meta-list, i.e. a list of lists of ten. So, here we go:


  1. The top ten books on writing that’ll make you a better writer. Libby Fischer Hellmann, who wrote the Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mysteries/thrillers, found this list and recommended it to her followers on Google+. They look pretty good to me.
  2. Ten Creepy Radio Transmissions. The list is of pirate radio stations, including a few “numbers” stations, which are operated by various worldwide intelligence agencies. Got this one from TopTenz.net, a good source of Top Tens.
  3. Top Ten Charming Words for Nasty People. From Merriam-Webster’s collection of Top Ten lists which, as you might suspect, deal primarily with words.
  4. 12 Uncommon Punctuation Marks You Should Start Using Right Now. I’m making an exception to the “top ten” in this case because I really like the subject. I don’t know exactly how many of these are real, but I do know that the interrobang (#7) is an actual punctuation mark that I read about in Time magazine over 40 years ago. Some of them make sense, like the exclamation comma and the question comma (#10 and #11). From Mashable.
  5. Productivity Bonus– 10 Tips to be a more Productive Writer using Evernote. If you don’t read Hunter Emkay’s blog, you should. A section of her blog is devoted to Tech for Writers and Evernote for Writers, and she’s been doing a series lately on Productivity tips. Definitely go there when you have some time; it’s just that good. Since I’m still a bit of an Evernote newbie, her posts have really helped.
  6. Top 10 Dogs That Soon Became Homless [sic]. I’m sure that none of these dogs actually became homeless (and God help the owners who would do something like that; there are rescue organizations and the Humane Society if you really can’t keep a dog, so just cutting them loose is just wrong). From the site UltimateTop10s.com.
  7. David Letterman’s Top 10 Lists. Letterman has been doing Top Ten Lists as far back as I can remember; sometimes they’re the only reason to watch. CBS has a page that updates every Friday morning with the Top 10 list from the night before. They archive the lists so that you can search them, either by air date or subject. He’s said that he’s retiring some time next year, so this might be going away after that happens.
  8. America’s 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres. The American Film Institute’s website has this page on their site. Gee, what a surprise…
  9. Top 10 Best Cities for New College Grads 2014. Livability.com has lists of “America’s Best Places to Live & Visit,” including this one. Surprisingly, not all of them are on the coasts.
  10. The Thursday Ten: Ten obsolete technologies. Yeah, I’m picking one of my own. What about it? Seriously, this has been one of my more popular blog posts. It used to have a lot more images in it, but there was that whole copyright thing that year. Still, it’s one of my better ones.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Thursday Ten. Do you have places you go to find Top Ten lists?