Programming notes, a book update, and bleg

December 26, 2016 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Culture and Politics, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Programming notes, a book update, and bleg 

To allocate a word from the hapless “Married With Children” character Al Bundy regarding the mouse in his house, this week is the deadest. It’s a week news outlets fill with year in review items and for me it will be no different as I sandwich my single-part look at things to watch in 2017 between my monoblogue year in review Thursday and the top 5 list of the albums I reviewed on Saturday. Now I won’t go as far as the blog expert who suggested that bloggers need not come back until mid-January, but unless the creek rises there’s no real need to write a deep thought piece here this week.

So I’m saving the deep thought for my book, which is now past the 10,000 word barrier in its initial draft. Overall, I would like to cover the subject in about 80 to 100 thousand words, which is at least half again as long as So We May Breathe Free was (and remember, this is all original.) I also have a couple more books on my list to acquire and read.

One thing I have done is put together a rudimentary, somewhat under construction social media page for the book. As I get farther along I will be adding more features to it, and perhaps create another outlet. After doing a book all by myself, this time I have some idea of what to avoid for round two.

And finally, I learned this morning The Patriot Post has someone willing to match donations as their year-end campaign reaches its final week. I added to my total for the year to keep them going, so if you enjoy reading it as much as I like writing there, perhaps you should consider a donation too. It’s a valuable outlet for news and informative perspective from a pro-liberty, pro-faith traditional point of view.

I told you Saturday I’d be back Monday, and so I have been. I just didn’t promise the longest of pieces.

10 from 10: Rant

November 24, 2015 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on 10 from 10: Rant 

If you’ve ever tried to sell anything, you’d understand. This is from September 6, 2012, about 6 weeks after my first (and so far only) book came out.

**********

I sold a copy of So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy yesterday in a most unusual way.

A friend of Kim’s recommended my book to one of her friends, who asked about its availability. Since I happen to have a few print copies in my possession I delivered one to the surprised and pleased new reader, complete with inscription and autograph.

I also had an interesting e-mail in my box from a former co-worker of mine in Toledo. We weren’t co-workers for long as he was a college intern who, as he put it jokingly, was “sure you remember me as that crazy college kid always messing things up…” But somehow he had heard about my book. That’s crazy.

Yet there are people in my social circle who claim to be conservative and who tell me they love what I write – but I’m not seeing the book sales reflecting this. People who will give $50, $100, or even $500 to a political candidate at a drop of a hat won’t spare a Lincoln for an e-book (or $8 for the printed copy) on Amazon, the Nook website, or Kindle.

I hate asking for money – in fact, in the very first chapter of my book I write:

(W)hile I had thoughts about and a little bit of ambition for seeking an elected office such as a seat on the city council or a state representative, one thing I found out rather quickly after getting involved is that I’m by no means the prototypical politician. I don’t have a snake-oil salesman’s gift of gab and the part about raising money and saying what I think people want to hear in order to collect their votes doesn’t appeal to me very much either, at least in a large-scale sense.

On the other hand, I’ve known my share of writers and bloggers who regularly rattle their tip jars and “bleg” for money. I don’t mind getting a note from PayPal once in awhile that someone donated to me through my site – in fact, someone just did so for at least the second time I recall – but I would rather sell books. And the more books I sell, the better chance I can make a full-time career out of writing and actually create more content. I already have the thought process going for my second book, which I would like to finish in the early to middle part of 2013.

But it’s interesting to note that I received a couple sales on the day I was on the radio in Frederick – not bad for very little promotion from the host and a change in time slot. I sort of like doing radio interviews, and would love to speak on my book’s behalf whether it’s over-the-air or exclusively on the internet – I’m not choosy about the venue. The more I do it, the better I will get – previous to last week I hadn’t done a radio spot since I was on the Thom Hartmann Show in April 2011. (That was regarding a piece I wrote for PJ Media.)

It’s frustrating because my book has received a number of good reviews, like this one:

Being somewhat familiar with the author (we’re both involved with the Republican party in our state, and I’m a regular reader of his blog) I opened this book knowing that there would be certain issues where we disagreed philosophically. Not on a majority of issues by any means, but we do have our ideological differences. However what I discovered was that we agreed on a lot more than I expected. That being said, the sections where we differ in opinion were for me the most intriguing parts of this book.

If you’re a Republican looking for a way to discuss your viewpoints with friends and family on the other side of the political spectrum (without stirring up hard feelings), or if you’re a Democrat honestly interested in understanding the reasoning behind conservative ideology, this book is for you. What you’ll find is a very frank discussion of conservatism. What you won’t find is the red-blooded liberal-bashing rhetoric all too common in today’s political writing. The author has no intent of demeaning anyone. He doesn’t insist that readers agree with him. His intent is only to get the reader to understand *why* he believes what he does. In doing so, he’s able to humanize conservative thought in a way I, even as a lifelong Republican, have not seen before.

Republicans are often criticized as callous, selfish, and uncaring about others. It’s clear in this book that the author (and many conservatives like him) cares deeply about our society and the people in it, and that his political beliefs are driven largely by that concern and compassion. That’s important because the problem with today’s political divisiveness isn’t that the two sides don’t agree on issues (they’ve always had differences and they always will). It’s that they’ve lost any real understanding of the opposing viewpoint. Having that understanding and respect for different viewpoints is essential for finding common ground on any issue. If you’re not a conservative, reading this book may not “convert” you, but you’ll definitely come away from it with an appreciation for the reasoning behind the author’s views.

This blew me away because it was written yesterday (I actually wrote this last night, so it was that very day) by someone who had purchased the book. I didn’t know it until I added the Nook link to the post about halfway through, when I realized “you know, it might be prudent to actually link to the book for this rant so you can sell it.”

Now I know that the only person who will agree with the book 100 percent is the author and if you ask him in ten years he may have changed his mind on a few things here and there. But the idea is to push things in the right direction, realizing it’s not going to happen overnight or possibly even in my earthly lifetime. And I knew the odds were stacked against me on a number of levels, since I know how to write but I’m trying to learn marketing on the fly in ways I’m comfortable with. Maybe those who support me can put up with what can be sometimes a hamhanded approach.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had the other night with Kim, who was talking about someone acquiring a bunch of e-books on a thumb drive. She was talking about this person getting the books free when I reminded her that the person was cutting into the sales of the authors of these tomes and reducing their livelihood. It was a point well made, since those who borrow my book don’t accrue to my bottom line. (I’m happy to sell copies to libraries, but I intended the book as more of a reference guide of goals that you can keep.)

I’m going to close with this. A couple Fridays ago I was working at my outside job and I happened to be working on a gift card display next to a corrugate featuring four Nora Roberts wedding-themed romance novels. (At least I presume they were, since I’m not a Nora Roberts aficionado.) The price for any of the four was $7.99 each, and I thought to myself that someone could buy the Nora Roberts book, read it in an afternoon, and never pick the thing up again – or, for about the exact same price (I guess there may be a shipping fee involved, since my copies had one tacked on) they could have a reference guide for activism that the reviewer above gave good marks to.

But no one is putting my book on a corrugate and sticking it in the aisle of a full-service grocery store; obviously that takes money I don’t have. Hell, I’d be happy to see a couple copies at local and regional bookstores for now. The book tour can come later.

So, if you haven’t already, support your local conservative writer, buy the book, and if you like it (surely you will) tell your friends. I’m not out to make this a guilt trip and don’t do puppy-dog eyes, but I would like to see many more sales in the upcoming weeks before this very important election to determine the direction of our nation.

The war over e-books

August 13, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

This particular piece has a little more meaning to me than to most of you. The other day I received an “Important Kindle Request,” which is reprinted at this website. It basically compares the current situation in the e-book market to that of the era paperback books were introduced.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive. (Emphasis in original.)

The gist of the story is that Amazon and Hachette, a distributor of e-books, are in a pricing dispute – Amazon thinks they should be cheaper while Hachette releases them for $15-20. That’s for an e-book, folks. We’re not talking the hardcover $30-40 tomes, we’re talking about something which loads to your Kindle or other reading device and takes up negligible space on its hard drive. In essence, to buy the book is to transfer a copy of the file from source to customer – no need for book sellers or trying to predict the market and risking either selling out too quickly or having thousands of unsold books to unload at a reduced price. Instead, supply adequately meets demand.

And volume is king – would I rather sell 1,000 copies of a $14.95 e-book or 100,000 at $4.99? Truthfully, it does no harm for my e-book to sit on their servers, and the hard copies are created as needed.

There was some interesting synchronicity between the arrival of this e-mail and a request to buy an autographed copy of my book. (Yes, I keep a few on hand.) It got me to thinking about book number 2, which has been on the back burner for quite awhile, and what to do about my first e-book.

So what I decided to do about the latter is try and boost its market share by cutting the price in half. Unfortunately, to do so I had to cut my commission half again, for Amazon wouldn’t let me sell below a certain price with full commission – so I have to sell fourfold the number of e-books to make the same amount. But it’s a risk I’ll take to see what the market will do, plus it’s been two years since its release. (That’s hard to believe.)

As for book number two, I make no promises. The idea is there, but I haven’t figured out a particular direction to take it quite yet. It may wait until after the election.

The e-book industry is probably going to see its prices decline, because marketers will likely see this Amazon’s way. Given the amount of material out there, thanks in part to a far more lucrative compensation setup than most authors going the regular route can dream of, there may not be a choice.

Independence of thought

July 4, 2014 · Posted in Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Independence of thought 

As is often the case at holidays, I spend a few minutes several days ahead figuring out a message to fill my space while I do other things – in this case spend time with my daughter and son-in-law without getting too wet given the pessimistic forecast.

Of late I’ve been writing a lot about a different kind of dependence – the dependence on a party structure to attain political goals. When I fell short in my bid to stay on the Wicomico GOP Central Committee, I noted that there were some liberating qualities which could come out because I was no longer as tied to the fate of the GOP.

Don’t get me wrong: as a vehicle for conservative, limited-government change, its principles are difficult to beat. The problem is how little effort Republicans at the highest levels expend in putting those ideals into practice. Oh, sure, they’ll give the excuse that they are only 1/2 of 1/3 of the government but they have the power of the purse. They just back down when they have the chance to use it because there are personal goals which are more important, like re-election – principles be damned.

No wonder no one trusts Congress.

About two years ago I finished a book which has a passage that describes my political aspirations perfectly.

I noted earlier that I was not born to be a politician because my skill set isn’t the same as, say, a Sarah Palin, a Bill Clinton, or even a Herman Cain. Sometimes it’s disheartening to realize this because I think I have a lot of good ideas.

But it can be liberating as well. Since I’m not a legislator or seeking an executive-type post, I don’t have to deliver a lot of hollow promises. In fact, my political philosophy may turn some people off because I’m the sort who doesn’t believe that government in and of itself should enrich people nor do I think it’s a proper vehicle for wealth transfer. Unfortunately, it’s been noted that “a democracy…can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury.” Since I’m opposed to that concept, there’s no way in hell I could be truthful about my beliefs and ever reach a high enough office to put these plans into action – at least not in the present-day political climate. And while that sort of double-talk and obfuscation is associated with those on the Left, I have no plans to switch parties and become a Democrat. I imagine that move would be the ultimate in reverse psychology.

The key phrase there is “present-day political climate.” There’s nothing that says we have to follow the same conventional wisdom.

At the highest levels of government, there is no Left or Right – only power. It would take a massive wave election unlike any we’ve seen to sweep all of that away; in essence, the entirety of the population which doesn’t believe the government or world owes them a living would have to be motivated enough to participate while the disinterested ones who are dependent stay home. And trust me, they would come out in force if they had to. So my goal is, as Walter E. Williams would say, “push back the frontiers of ignorance,” so that the rolls of the uninformed who don’t mind their dependence shrink.

It’s sad to think that many are chained to the government in ways we never thought about. But as long as we can think for ourselves, there is a chance things can turn around. That’s the message I want to impart on Independence Day 2014.

Delaying the inevitable solution

March 9, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Delaying the inevitable solution 

I’ve had a piece by Newt Gingrich in my inbox for a few days, but I knew sometime I would get to it. The piece is relatively evergreen as op-eds go so I just figured when the time came I would contribute some of my thoughts – well, the time is now since you’re reading this.

In Newt’s new book, called Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate, he describes those who would hold on to tradition for its own sake as the “prison guards of the past.” The two cases in point he described in the piece I kept around were Google’s driverless cars and “coding boot camps” where top programmers conduct intensive training programs designed to encourage employment at some of the best companies in the field – where they can perhaps work on the driverless car or other breakthroughs.

As always, there’s a fly in the ointment – whether it’s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fear bordering on paranoia about these Google autos zipping around without some sort of new regulation to cover them or the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education fretting that these would-be hackers aren’t getting the well-rounded politically correct education the state seems to demand, bureaucrats have to get their grubby little fingers into the pie. My question is: what exactly would they contribute?

I’ve often stated the case that government is a solution, but it rarely addresses the correct problem. It’s obviously in Google’s best interest to put out a usable and safe product such as the one which they are testing right now, just like it’s in the best interest of those who run “coding boot camps” to educate their students in the best way possible to assume the demanding task of writing millions of lines of code. (They probably could have written the Obamacare website in a couple weeks, made it work, and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.) Snark aside, just think of the possibilities these present if left unfettered by government interference, in particular that of the driverless car.

As someone who sits behind the wheel for several hours every week doing his outside job, imagine how much more productive I could be with a good internet connection as, for example, I make my weekly drive around my various stops on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Suddenly I may more enjoy that trip I occasionally have to make to Cape Charles for calls there. And what if we could make it so cars could traverse the rural interstates safely at a higher speed, say 120 miles per hour? Then we wouldn’t need the high-speed rail boondoggle, and politically correct urban planners can’t have that. To me, a car equals freedom because you’re not a slave to another’s timetable, whether bus, train, or airplane. Sure, it will take a decade or two for a driverless car to become affordable for the average person but there may come a point – even in my lifetime – where the car with a driver may only be seen at the NASCAR track.

The problem with the idea of using government to solve a problem is their lack of incentive to find a lasting solution. If we ended poverty or, to use an issue hitting closer to home, cleaned up Chesapeake Bay to a state where you couldn’t dive in without running into the aquaculture that’s in abundance, would the government regulators say “our work is done here” and go away? Not on your life – then they would have to get honest jobs. Left to government’s own devices, we will never end the “war on poverty” or finish cleaning Chesapeake Bay because there’s too much taxpayer- or donor-supplied money at stake.

Yesterday I was thinking about freedom, and it dawned on me that we cannot have absolute freedom because that would be anarchy – everyone would live for their own self-interest and it would deteriorate into a simple game of “survival of the fittest.” But we also could not have absolute tyranny because at least the tyrant would have his or her own free will, even if he or she is the only individual so unconstrained. In all societies, we have some sort of rule of law, but the difference is in who calls the shots and whether things are set in stone or as capricious as the weather on a particular day. We are at war with Eastasia, and have always been at war with Eastasia; that is, until someone decides we’re at war with Eurasia.

It seems to me that the sweet spot in a society would be one where there are some fairly simple rules (the Ten Commandments and Constitution as written come to mind) but aside from that people have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit. Google wants to make a driverless car? On balance, it seems to me the benefits far outweigh the costs to certain other areas in the transportation industry. Software makers want good coders? All they seem to be hurting is the feelings of the government which can’t regulate them into their approved little box.

I’ve always admired Newt Gingrich – maybe not so much politically, but for the fact he seems to be thinking a generation or two ahead. I try to do the same here, as this blog and (especially) my book aren’t always for the here and now, but to look into the future and see possibilities. I may not always be right, but I try to learn as I go along.

The key going forward is to impress upon society at large that they have a purpose. We can advance under a system which has brought the world prosperity, or backslide into the tyranny mankind has known for most of its miserable existence. It’s still our choice, but the window is closing fast. Those “prison guards of the past” are aptly named, for this nation was born from tyranny and of late it’s devolving in that direction unless we can break the chains.

The sequel

August 2, 2013 · Posted in Liberty Features Syndicate, Personal stuff · Comments Off on The sequel 

I had a couple ideas for a post to place here this evening, but one has blown up into a more major story that I’m still investigating and hope to have for the beginning of next week, and the other wasn’t turning out the way I liked so I decided to scrap it for now. I’ll probably revisit the idea in a few weeks; it wasn’t time sensitive.

But it occurred to me yesterday that a year and a day had passed since I put out my first book, So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy. Frankly, it hasn’t sold as well as I’d like, and I think in large part it was because I didn’t know the first thing about marketing a book; in fact, while it took me a long time to write – because I shelved the idea a couple times in the process – I really rushed to get it out in the summer before the election. This was especially true once I found out the traditional route to publishing can take many months.

There is a concept I’m playing around with for book number two, which is underway but a long way from completed. I was hoping to have it finished by the end of this year, but with the demands on my time it’s probably looking like at least 12 to 18 months out. The way it’s going to be set up, I will have to complete the draft and then tweak it as a whole to update it with any new information and ideas I come up with in the interim. That’s how I completed SWMBF.

Right now I’m envisioning it as a follow-up to some of my writings for Liberty Features Syndicate, an outlet I wrote for weekly for about a year in 2009-10. The title I’m working with is 600 Words, which refers to the ideal length they desired for my pieces, as they were intended for distribution to whatever newspapers took them. There will be a subtitle as well, but I haven’t figured that out yet – the original draft of SWMBF had a different subtitle, but I changed it to Avoiding Ineptocracy at the last minute. I was afraid of making the title too long and the original was lengthy.

But I think once I get 600 Words around 1/4 of the way completed, I’m going to try and devote a little time and effort into marketing and perhaps some outside editing insofar as placing the book in a good electronic format. Obviously I didn’t know everything about the craft of writing a book, and looking back those are the two areas I should have invested more time into. Those who purchased SWMBF haven’t had many complaints about it, so I’m guessing the writing is pretty sound.

It’s not often I solicit comments on this site, although they’re always welcome. I guess sometimes I say all there is to say. But presumably the hundreds and hundreds of readers I get a week receive some satisfaction out of what I write, and to me they are very important.

So what ideas do you have to make 600 Words a success? (Maybe they can still be applied to SWMBF as well.) I’ve even thought about starting a Kickstarter fund for enhanced marketing, a catchy cover, and finishing work – all of this costs money and I’m definitely not a wealthy man. SWMBF was literally a one-man operation and I learned a lot, but the biggest lesson was that this time I’d like a little help in making the second effort a success.

And I said it all in – you guessed it – 600 Words.

Rant

September 8, 2012 · Posted in Personal stuff, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Rant 

I sold a copy of So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy yesterday in a most unusual way.

A friend of Kim’s recommended my book to one of her friends, who asked about its availability. Since I happen to have a few print copies in my possession I delivered one to the surprised and pleased new reader, complete with inscription and autograph.

I also had an interesting e-mail in my box from a former co-worker of mine in Toledo. We weren’t co-workers for long as he was a college intern who, as he put it jokingly, was “sure you remember me as that crazy college kid always messing things up…” But somehow he had heard about my book. That’s crazy.

Yet there are people in my social circle who claim to be conservative and who tell me they love what I write – but I’m not seeing the book sales reflecting this. People who will give $50, $100, or even $500 to a political candidate at a drop of a hat won’t spare a Lincoln for an e-book (or $8 for the printed copy) on Amazon, the Nook website, or Kindle.

I hate asking for money – in fact, in the very first chapter of my book I write:

(W)hile I had thoughts about and a little bit of ambition for seeking an elected office such as a seat on the city council or a state representative, one thing I found out rather quickly after getting involved is that I’m by no means the prototypical politician. I don’t have a snake-oil salesman’s gift of gab and the part about raising money and saying what I think people want to hear in order to collect their votes doesn’t appeal to me very much either, at least in a large-scale sense.

On the other hand, I’ve known my share of writers and bloggers who regularly rattle their tip jars and “bleg” for money. I don’t mind getting a note from PayPal once in awhile that someone donated to me through my site – in fact, someone just did so for at least the second time I recall – but I would rather sell books. And the more books I sell, the better chance I can make a full-time career out of writing and actually create more content. I already have the thought process going for my second book, which I would like to finish in the early to middle part of 2013.

But it’s interesting to note that I received a couple sales on the day I was on the radio in Frederick – not bad for very little promotion from the host and a change in time slot. I sort of like doing radio interviews, and would love to speak on my book’s behalf whether it’s over-the-air or exclusively on the internet – I’m not choosy about the venue. The more I do it, the better I will get – previous to last week I hadn’t done a radio spot since I was on the Thom Hartmann Show in April 2011. (That was regarding a piece I wrote for PJ Media.)

It’s frustrating because my book has received a number of good reviews, like this one:

Being somewhat familiar with the author (we’re both involved with the Republican party in our state, and I’m a regular reader of his blog) I opened this book knowing that there would be certain issues where we disagreed philosophically. Not on a majority of issues by any means, but we do have our ideological differences. However what I discovered was that we agreed on a lot more than I expected. That being said, the sections where we differ in opinion were for me the most intriguing parts of this book.

If you’re a Republican looking for a way to discuss your viewpoints with friends and family on the other side of the political spectrum (without stirring up hard feelings), or if you’re a Democrat honestly interested in understanding the reasoning behind conservative ideology, this book is for you. What you’ll find is a very frank discussion of conservatism. What you won’t find is the red-blooded liberal-bashing rhetoric all too common in today’s political writing. The author has no intent of demeaning anyone. He doesn’t insist that readers agree with him. His intent is only to get the reader to understand *why* he believes what he does. In doing so, he’s able to humanize conservative thought in a way I, even as a lifelong Republican, have not seen before.

Republicans are often criticized as callous, selfish, and uncaring about others. It’s clear in this book that the author (and many conservatives like him) cares deeply about our society and the people in it, and that his political beliefs are driven largely by that concern and compassion. That’s important because the problem with today’s political divisiveness isn’t that the two sides don’t agree on issues (they’ve always had differences and they always will). It’s that they’ve lost any real understanding of the opposing viewpoint. Having that understanding and respect for different viewpoints is essential for finding common ground on any issue. If you’re not a conservative, reading this book may not “convert” you, but you’ll definitely come away from it with an appreciation for the reasoning behind the author’s views.

This blew me away because it was written yesterday (I actually wrote this last night, so it was that very day) by someone who had purchased the book. I didn’t know it until I added the Nook link to the post about halfway through, when I realized “you know, it might be prudent to actually link to the book for this rant so you can sell it.”

Now I know that the only person who will agree with the book 100 percent is the author and if you ask him in ten years he may have changed his mind on a few things here and there. But the idea is to push things in the right direction, realizing it’s not going to happen overnight or possibly even in my earthly lifetime. And I knew the odds were stacked against me on a number of levels, since I know how to write but I’m trying to learn marketing on the fly in ways I’m comfortable with. Maybe those who support me can put up with what can be sometimes a hamhanded approach.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had the other night with Kim, who was talking about someone acquiring a bunch of e-books on a thumb drive. She was talking about this person getting the books free when I reminded her that the person was cutting into the sales of the authors of these tomes and reducing their livelihood. It was a point well made, since those who borrow my book don’t accrue to my bottom line. (I’m happy to sell copies to libraries, but I intended the book as more of a reference guide of goals that you can keep.)

I’m going to close with this. A couple Fridays ago I was working at my outside job and I happened to be working on a gift card display next to a corrugate featuring four Nora Roberts wedding-themed romance novels. (At least I presume they were, since I’m not a Nora Roberts aficionado.) The price for any of the four was $7.99 each, and I thought to myself that someone could buy the Nora Roberts book, read it in an afternoon, and never pick the thing up again – or, for about the exact same price (I guess there may be a shipping fee involved, since my copies had one tacked on) they could have a reference guide for activism that the reviewer above gave good marks to.

But no one is putting my book on a corrugate and sticking it in the aisle of a full-service grocery store; obviously that takes money I don’t have. Hell, I’d be happy to see a couple copies at local and regional bookstores for now. The book tour can come later.

So, if you haven’t already, support your local conservative writer, buy the book, and if you like it (surely you will) tell your friends. I’m not out to make this a guilt trip and don’t do puppy-dog eyes, but I would like to see many more sales in the upcoming weeks before this very important election to determine the direction of our nation.

Radio days volume 17

August 28, 2012 · Posted in Mainstream media, Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Well, I hope this is the beginning of a renewed trend.

There was a time when I was on the radio a lot more than I have been recently, which led me to see just what volume number I was on because my last radio interview was in April, 2011, when I was featured on the liberal gabfest Thom Hartmann Show.

As it turns out, yesterday’s radio appearance on Blaine Young’s WFMD-AM show wasn’t all that much different in that I was promoting something I wrote, but it was the first of what I hope are many radio appearances to promote my book So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy.

And perhaps I’m my own harshest critic, but I thought I left a lot to be desired. In my defense, I have to say there were two strikes working against me: my shot was delayed an hour because of unrelated events in Frederick (which made me a little bit more nervous) and I didn’t really get a transition – it was just boom! I’m on. That definitely threw me; I’m more used to having a bit of an introduction but I guess Blaine’s show doesn’t work that way – I just have to be more prepared for that. Obviously I know why I wrote the book, and I honestly think I’m as qualified as any other so-called political pundit to be an analyst. But I sort of staggered through that part of the interview because I was a little off my game. I need to work on that portion.

I did enjoy the conversation about Maryland politics, though. No, it really didn’t relate to my book but I suppose it does enhance my political bonafides by having a relatively detailed discussion of a political subject. There’s nothing wrong with promoting my website as well as my book.

Overall, I’d give myself a C-minus for the effort, but the real test is whether my book sales will ratchet upward. Obviously I do these radio interviews to help sell books because if I don’t sell So We May Breathe Free my ideas don’t make it into the marketplace and I happen to think I have pretty valid ideas. Some of my more fervent backers swear I have plenty of writing talent, but that has to translate into sales and hopefully I didn’t miss an opportunity today.

Still, I want to thank Blaine Young for extending that chance. Maybe this Delmarva player wasn’t quite ready for Frederick yet, but once I knock the rust off I’m sure I’ll get better – remember, it’s been about 16 months since I did a radio show and I thought I did pretty fair on the last one. So if you have a radio show or know someone with one – even if it’s just a little internet station – I’m happy to come on and promote my book. You need content and I need sales, so let’s see if we can strike a deal.

There’s one thing I thought about during the hour delay and wish I had said in the actual interview, though. You have to love a system where someone like me – who has no pedigree and was basically ignored by the literary world – still has the opportunity to express a message. I can live with putting myself out there and being a total flop based on the weakness of my argument, but what I can’t abide is never getting the chance at all. Yesterday I got my chance, and I’m confident I’ll get more because I’m going to keep knocking on the door.

Odds and ends number 57

A lot of little (and big) stuff to talk about in this edition of odds and ends. I want to start local as a follow-up to something I wrote last weekend about the Wicomico Board of Education. Wicomico GOP Chair Dave Parker believes the headline originally placed in this Daily Times story was “misleading,” and it was indeed changed online to that which you see in the story.

The original, however, was “Wicomico County GOP committee protests Board of Education nominee.” Yes, the Daily Times got that one wrong – the protester was me, speaking on my own behalf. Maybe Jennifer Shutt is familiar with my work and I suppose I have my share of influence, but I don’t speak for the committee as a whole.

Now that I have that cleared up, I can add a note sent to me by the “pretty in pink” Delegate Addie Eckardt, whose Crab Feast & Sausages fundraiser is rapidly approaching – Sunday, September 9 is the date. It’s going to be held at J.M. Clayton’s in Cambridge from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $50 per person.

But if you’re a local Republican and don’t have the $50 lying around, you can still help. Our erstwhile headquarters coordinators Cynthia Williams and Bonnie Luna are looking for a few good men (and women, too) to staff our party headquarters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. (We’re not opening on Sundays.) You can stop by the headquarters at 800 S. Salisbury Boulevard or call (410) 742-0308. We’re not picky in that respect.

Libertarian Muir Boda was kind enough to pass along a note regarding candidate forums he’s been invited to. One in particular is local:

“The Eastern Shore Farm and Environment Candidate Forum”  presented by the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. September 24, 2012 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Salisbury University’s Great Hall at Holloway Hall. PAC-14 will be recording the forum.

Unfortunately, I’m sure I can’t be there to tell you what really happened because that’s also the night the Republican Club meets. (I wonder if the CBF knew that when the date was selected.) But it will be interesting to see what softballs they lob up there for Democrat Wendy Rosen to answer – from what some non-biased observers have told me, that’s about all she can handle. After all, anyone who brings up the eeeeeevil Koch brothers in conversation may be worth the price of admission in entertainment value, but the scary thing is: some people believe her.

Hopefully more believe this:

This shirt is available for 15 dollars from the Worcester County Republicans.

This comes from Worcester County and I have one of these shirts. And yes, I get good comments from it. You can do the same for a $15 donation to the Worcester Republican Women’s club – contact Joan Gentile: joanierags (at) verizon (dot) net.

More local reaction comes from the Wicomico Society of Patriots, which sent me a sampling of opinions on the movie “2016: Obama’s America” that’s now playing locally:

  • I…went to today’s 1:05 show, and although (as a TEA Partier) I consider myself  ‘informed’, it was well worth the ride from Ocean Pines.  The production was excellent, entertaining, factual, and to some was probably shocking.  I’m glad to say that it was a big crowd for a matinee.  Even if your mind is made up, you should attend if only to show your support for the efforts of the conservatives who made this movie possible.
  • I was there also… sitting on the point of my chair and asking, “how was that possible?”
  • Bring your friends, especiallly if they are a kind of democrat, or don’t know what (way) to vote !!!
  • Thank you Cathy for the update.  I had a friend go see it at 3:00 this afternoon, and she said it was very unsettling.  She also said the attendance was good, but very few young people.  The time of day may have had something to with that.  We will definitely be going to see it.
  • We went with two other couples tonight and all of us were motivated to keep up the fight, and even for those who “pay attention” we all learned some new things.
  •  Saw the 5:30 show…packed…I’ve put out the word too…we are going to have to work, but good will prevail over evil!

I have not seen the movie yet, but probably will before it goes away next weekend. Whatever the attendance is – even if they’re selling out theaters around the country – you can bet your bottom dollar that pressure is being brought to bear to get that movie out of there by next week.

Speaking of upcoming events but looking at a state level, while Maryland and Virginia have had a family feud of sorts through their respective governors, a guy who knows something about family feuds is doing a fundraiser for Maryland businesses.

I’ll let Jim Pettit pick it up from here – he’s good at this sort of thing:

Legendary comedian Louie Anderson will headline Maryland Business Leadership Political Action Committee’s second annual fundraiser at the Baltimore Comedy Factory Wednesday, October 17th, for one show only.

“We don’t think politics and business in Maryland is a laughing matter,” said MBLPAC Chair Cal Ewing, “but we do think it is important for business to come together and support a shared goal – a better business climate in Maryland to create jobs.”

The PAC is an offshoot of the Maryland Business for Responsive Government group which is frequently cited on this site. Eventually they’d like to raise $250,000 for the 2014 election and Anderson’s appearance will help them get there $100 at a time.

Finally, I thought it was worth pointing out that Democrats seem to make up rules as they go along. I know that’s not news to many of you, but Senator E. J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel believe the recently-passed gambling bill violates the Maryland Constitution on two fronts:

  • the Maryland Senate adjourned for more than three days and without the consent of the House, violating Article III, Section 25 of the Maryland Constitution, and, more importantly…
  • “The (gambling) bill combined revenues, tax rates, and gambling expansion into one piece of legislation.  Allowing for the referendum in November violates Article XVI, Section 2,” said Pipkin.  Smigiel added, “In the past, we have sought to allow voters take to referendum fiscal matters like tax increases and spending by removing Article XVI, Section 2 from the Constitution.  Every time Assembly leadership has rejected these efforts. Now, the General Assembly has passed a bill that in addition to expanding gambling, puts tax matters and appropriations up for a vote.”

Of course, since the Attorney General is a Democrat that complaint, however valid, will get nowhere fast. It’s another reason to vote AGAINST the gambling amendment, Question 7. Let’s make that an unlucky number for a General Assembly majority disinterested in proper process of law.

Somehow I made it through without mentioning Dan Bongino or Andy Harris. Oops, I guess I just did, didn’t I? That’s quite all right, both are worth mentioning.

Oh, one more thing as I toot my own horn. Tomorrow afternoon in the 4:00 hour (around 4:15 is what I’m told) I will be a guest on Blaine Young’s WFMD radio show. We’ll be discussing my book So We May Breathe Free. I asked about the possibility when he was here and we made it happen.

‘So We May Breathe Free’ now available in NOOK!

August 14, 2012 · Posted in Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

The cover of my book for the NOOK version.

In case you missed the news – and it’s pretty likely you did because I didn’t even know it until this afternoon – my first book is now available on NOOK, with the cover I originally intended to use! (That’s the picture on the left.)

So those of you who have been clamoring to get my first full-length effort but told me you wanted it for your e-reader and didn’t own a Kindle, now you have no excuse! For less than Abraham Lincoln’s picture (which is damn near a coupon for a free gallon of gas these days) you can read up on just how I would deal with energy prices and many other problems America faces.

I expect to see my sales start to catch up with my expectations. Reviews have been favorable so far, but the best method of getting this book into the hands of those who really need to read it (e.g. all Americans) is through word-of-mouth promotion. That’s where you come in.

I’m not going to promise everyone who reads So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy is going to agree with every word, but that’s why we have political discussion.

And here’s a news flash: I liked writing this one so much that I’m laying the groundwork for a second tome. It won’t be the same subject matter, but it will be on a subject I find very interesting and I think it’s a story worth telling. My goal is to have it ready in the spring of 2013.

Tomorrow I have an interesting day lined up, and hopefully it will make for an exciting post. Until then, buy the book!

Thoughts on a photo

August 5, 2012 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

This photo was taken by Larry Dodd in the small hamlet of Horntown, Virginia.

I didn’t take this photo, my friend Larry Dodd did (and thanks to him for sharing.) But I could have.

I have no idea who owns the house trailer or the tricked-out Hummer, but I have seen both in my travels. My job takes me through the small hamlet of Horntown, Virginia on a weekly basis because I cut through there on my way to Chincoteague. Yet it got me to thinking that the photo reinforces a point I’ve made in the past (and present, as you’ll see later.)

If one were to do a photo essay about the death of rural America, Horntown could be a poster child. The unincorporated Accomack County community is in one of the rare parts of Virginia that’s losing population. Abandoned houses, which in several cases are falling down, line up along the town’s main thoroughfare, Fleming Road. The center of town, which also features a trailer park advertising Section 8 acceptance, is a stark contrast to upscale housing developments just outside the town or the large farms on the south end of the village. If memory serves me correctly the only businesses within Horntown are a day care center and the post office – a failed service station sits abandoned with brush growing inside thanks to the lack of a roof or windows – at the opposite corner of the post office. If you want groceries or gas it’s necessary to travel over to Oak Hall or New Church, each about 10 minutes or so away.

But there in Horntown sits this house trailer, which the owner thoughtfully remodeled with a sloped roof. One could call it a redneck home improvement but if it makes the place look more like home, so be it. The adult-sized bicycle on the porch is a nice touch as well, since it’s quite possible the Hummer has to sit at times because its owner can’t afford the gas to put in the truck.

Now this essay isn’t about the decline of rural America, although it could be. What got me to thinking about the point I’m making here are the priorities shown.

I’ll admit I’m not down with the ins and outs of what some might call “pimping out my ride.” (The vernacular may be so ten years ago, but I don’t make an effort to keep up with that. It’s hard for me to stay within 140 characters for Twitter, let alone track dialect.) But I am very, very sure that Hummers – which were derived from a military vehicle designed for less-than-optimum travel conditions – didn’t come from GM with 30-inch rims, color-keyed to the rest of the car, or a chrome step for that matter. (I believe the bright yellow color was standard, though.) And something tells me that if the car was traveling along the road I would hear the thump of the bass before I ever saw it.

It would be my guess, then, that the cost of the aftermarket improvements on the car might be gaining on the worth of the car itself. Meanwhile, the car just might be worth more than the trailer it sits in front of.

Now I realize this is America, and people are still free to spend their money however they please (once they pay off Uncle Sam.) But I have to question the judgement of someone who prioritizes their spending in such a manner. I realize there may be a perfectly good explanation for all this, but the reason I felt confident in making some of these assumptions is that I’ve seen the Hummer several times at that address. Granted, it was only after I saw Larry’s picture that I paid better attention as I drove through Horntown – but sure enough, it was there the other morning as I passed through.

This all got me to thinking about a chapter I did in my book, So We May Breathe Free. In one chapter I wrote the following:

It’s been tempered to an extent by the recessionary period of the last few years, but to many in our nation it’s still all about our possessions, a mantra best expressed in the saying “he who dies with the most toys wins.” And while I aspire like most others to be at least financially comfortable, to me it’s more about life’s experiences. There were points in my life where I could afford a larger house and more expensive car, but I knew that which I had was just fine and suited my purposes. I had more important goals in life to pursue, and even though they’ve changed over the years the sentiment still remains with me. If you read nothing else in this chapter I want to make the point that, once the economy comes back, people need to spend less time and worry on acquiring stuff and more time on what’s important, like being part of their community. Live within your means and outside your shell.

If this person wanted to draw attention to himself by having the bright yellow Hummer out front, well, it worked. But what do you really think about that – does that truck impress you in any shape, manner, or form? I’m not impressed, and the reaction I saw to Larry’s original posting of the picture was more along the lines of people shaking their heads in disbelief or condemning the system which they believed was handing out goodies to the Hummer owner. In defense of this unknown person, it very well could be they hold down a job at one of the local chicken plants or may be support staff for Wallops Island. But this unknown Horntown denizen lends himself to a perception that certain people don’t think about tomorrow when they purchase items without great utility but simply based on the styles of today, and wonder why they remain poor.

Then again, that which is piped through the satellite dish on the roof may have something to do with it.

Somewhere in the middle, between the six-bedroom McMansions that line the streets of the nearby Corbin Hall development and the row of trailers and houses in Horntown which have all seen better days, may lie the answer. I’ve never had an issue with those who have the means to purchase large homes aside from wondering why one voluntarily signs up for so much cleaning and upkeep, but I believe we have a system where those who want to pull their Horntown community up can do so through hard work and keeping an eye on the future. Why should those kids in the day care see squalor when we can do better if we get our priorities straight?

A new beginning: ‘So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy’

July 31, 2012 · Posted in 50 Year Plan, Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Allow me to introduce my first book.

Over perhaps a three-year span, off and on, I have been at work on a manuscript. I took some of the ideas I originally wrote here as a series of posts in 2007 and revised and greatly expanded on them to a point where I felt I had a pretty good book on my hands. But the story doesn’t end there; in fact, that’s barely a start.

Most of you know that I have done monoblogue since 2005, and maybe you’re aware that before monoblogue I did a predecessor site for a few months called ttown’s right wing conspiracy. I’ve also been featured as a contributor or regular writer on a number of other internet sites, done the occasional radio interview, and gotten myself in papers around the country a time or two. But in all that, I knew nothing about the publishing business.

Last fall, knowing the 2012 elections were approaching, I decided to become a lot more serious about transforming this manuscript from a file in my computer to something people can use as a political guide to needed change in America. Secondary to that, of course, was the concept of actually making a little money from my talents – after all, sponsors here have been few and far between given all the media competition I have.

So after Christmas I began pitching this book idea to agents. But there was a huge problem, and it really had nothing to do with the few rejections I received. As I studied the publishing business, I found out that the path for taking my book from the stage it was in to something you can hold in your hands via that traditional route took many months – and remember, I wanted to time this to the 2012 elections. Putting my volume out in 2013 or even 2014 wasn’t going to have nearly the desired impact.

Instead, the more I learned about internet publishing, the more it made sense for both time’s sake and monetarily. In fact, the process I used took me a few hours over the weekend after I finished a final rewrite last week. My goal was to have this done by the end of July; in truth my physical book was ready for order a couple days ago and the e-book yesterday but like any good CD or video game promoter I decided to use Tuesday as an “official” release day.

Now the question is: will So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy sell? Technically I break even after a ridiculously small number of books since my budget in creating this was extremely limited by economic circumstance. (Because of that, I kept a fairly low price point: $7.99 for a printed book and $4.99 for a Kindle e-book.) But I have a goal of selling 50,000 copies between e-book and hardcover – why not? I understand the average book sells around 100 copies, or so I’m told, but if every one of my social media friends bought one I’d be well on my way, and if they promoted the book I could advance even faster. I’m happy to do radio, print interviews, even television if that’s what it takes, and I know I have some friends in the media who can arrange just that along with the all-important word-of-mouth if you think it’s that good. Besides, if you look at the PJ Media post I linked to, that same writer sold 50,000 books in a six-month period. Even if I fall short, though, the overall message I preach spreads far beyond this small venue.

But there’s also the effect your support of this venture can have on my chosen avocation of writing. As if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoy creating content but what I don’t enjoy is steady income. If enough people purchase this book and put my name out there, it creates opportunities for me to use my God-given talent in new and exciting venues like syndication or other more regular national venues. (Of course, they can come here too, for lower Alexa rankings can also bring advertising to this site.)

I didn’t know it at the time, but perhaps the last seven-plus years have placed me at the cusp of success. And even if this book doesn’t make the best-seller lists, a reasonable number of sales would mean a little bit of financial security for me and the opportunity to invest those profits into making an even better sophomore effort. (This book was literally DIY, from the cover to working on the HTML to attempt to make the Kindle version a little better.) Having done this writing process once, now I know where things can be improved.

At this point, the success of SWMBF relies on two things: how I promote the book and how readers react. Luckily, there’s not a large investment involved on your part – essentially it’s the price of a latte for a read which should be completed in a few hours (the print version is 166 pages.)

In doing over 3,000 blog posts, a year’s worth of syndicated columns, many months of stories for the Patriot Post, and numerous items in other venues, the challenge for me has rarely been figuring out what to say, but generally how to sell the argument I’m making in a manner which makes the reader react by looking for the next piece I write. Content is always king, but good content makes the kingdom. Today I embark on a new Crusade, and it’s up to you to help make it a success.

As always, I thank you from the bottom from my heart for your support.

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