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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Be a Writer

This may seem (and sound) strange, but it struck me the other night...I mean, it hit me. It became clear, that I am now an author. I mean, I wrote a book. It was "picked up" by an established publisher, and it was published. It is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and I actually have a publicist working to market it.

OK, I said it may sound strange, especially in the light of the fact that I had already written a book with two coworkers a couple of years (almost to the day) earlier. That was a good book. A very good book. I read it over again from time to time, and I really like the writing. We (Don, Mike, and I) made a really good team.

But, well, the latest work (that's what the publisher's call a book) was done solo. Not that I didn't have a lot of help. My brother, Mac, Danita, Leah, Marin, Don, and Michael all helped. As did my daughter. But, I wrote it on my own. It's my book. Wow. I actually am a published author.

So I updated my LinkedIN profile. I added "author." I also updated my resume - not just listing the books under "publications" but I also added the job title of "author."

I look back and realize I'm not sure how I actually got it done. How did I manage the time?

So, now the next question is..."what's next?" I want to write another book...this time a novel. I also want to "get back" to my artwork. My daughter continues to impress and inspire me with her artwork. I want to get my hands back into it. So, I found old artwork, 35mm slides I had taken of my portfolio when I was younger than my daughter...and found the piece I was telling her about on the way home. I had remembered the prose I had added to the unoriginal art I had "created" - the prose I still remembered to this day.

That (the fact that I remembered it) may not seem strange or even interesting...but if you know of my poor memory you would understand why I am impressed that after all of these years, the passage I wrote has stayed with me. What you might not find at all surprising (even if you do know me) is that I remembered it incorrectly.

I was only a little disappointed that I didn't remember it correctly. I say that because I like the incorrect version better than the original. I credit that to my years of experience and improved writing ability. So, my new focus is now on accomplishing one of two things...a series of artwork I have been "planning" for over then years OR a novel. I can rework, rewrite, market, or self-publish the Time Warp King OR I can start (restart) working on my art series.

Or, I can do both.

P.S. I think it unfair that I don't share my prose which I referred to...although I'd really like to share the art also (but it being on a 35mm slide - and my lacking the equipment to scan it to my computer - makes that impossible at this moment).

"And on that day, Man, himself, submerged beneath the waters of his sins, held above the deadly tide, the answers t the world."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Having written two (one with my buddies and one solo) books, I’m starting to gain an education I never thought I would. I’m learning the importance of marketing.

Not sales per se. Not advertising. But, marketing. Honestly and enthusiastically communicating an important message to the right people, at the right time.

Marketing, for some reason, has a bad “name.”

But, marketing is essential. It’s critical.

One example is an organization I worked for which went through great pains to improve itself. It had drastically changed for the better over a 10 year span, but it still found itself battling against the past. People who had bad experiences over ten years ago still spoke poorly of our organization. They had been so dissatisfied that they refused to give us another chance. Worse, they continued to detract from the good work the organization had been doing. They told anyone willing to listen how bad we were. This made it difficult to overcome our past and have our customers see us fairly.

The answer wasn’t simply doing better. The solution wasn’t to provide better service. We did that, in buckets. What we needed was a marketing campaign. We needed to clearly, loudly, and consistently communicate our new-and-improved services. We needed to market ourselves and our services to our customers and to potential customers.

“I’m too humble to market myself.” This would make sense if “humility” meant not speaking highly of yourself (or your organization). But humility doesn’t mean being shy or hiding your light under a bushel basket. We are called to share our light, to shine it where others can see it. And we’re also called to be humble. Humility means being totally, fully honest. Not exaggerating the gifts we have nor down-playing them.

Think of marketing as a form of sharing your light.

In the case of our organization, we could have gained a lot of our lost trust and customer base if we marketed our improvements. Of course we would have had to be painfully honest. Not only touting our enhancements, but being honest about our still existing failings.

Marketing is a good thing. If it’s done with humility (honesty), and for the purpose of communicating the truth – not making a sale. Intentions, while good for paving roads, are also good for discerning the difference between marketing and manipulating, between humility and pride.

What do you think?

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Baaaaack!

Ok. It's been four months.

But I have a good excuse. Alright, I have an excuse.

I was working hard on my book, Metrics: How To Improve Key Business Results (I didn't pick the title) and Apress published it on Dec 31st. Well, they released it on that date. I finished my initial draft a little ahead of schedule and then spent the last few months checking and double-checking. Answering suggestions, questions, and critiques by the editorial staff.

Yes sirree! My book is out!

Whew! Another goal accomplished (writing a book on my own). Which is a decent (if not obvious) segue to my first post for 2012.

My Goal List
  1. Draw "Stations" (art) (Changed from Painting to ink...and still haven't done it.)
  2. Help Irv get published (family)
  3. Fully Clean my room (family) (including sell all ebay stuff)
  4. Post in blog weekly (writing)
  5. Help Kristopher and Alyssa develop a life plan (strategic plan) (family) (if they agree)
  6. Visit Family (family) DONE!
  7. Visit Benji and Pinky (friends)
  8. Get to and maintain 160 lbs max (physical health) (with P90X got there...now have to maintain)
  9. Develop a consistent tennis backhand (sports) DONE!
  10. Compete in a Singles Tennis Tournament (want to hit with pace first - sports)
  11. Stick to exercise program for 6 consecutive months (physical health) (Did P90X...but need to try a 6mo one))
  12. Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily for 90 consecutive days (physical health) (DONE! -Hit 235 days today!)
  13. Pray daily for another 365 consecutive days (spiritual health) DONE!and continuing to do so
  14. Try Yoga (physical health) DONE! - Took class at ND and it was GREAT!
  15. Read the Bible - cover to cover (spiritual health) (will be second time around...)
  16. Lower cholesterol within healthy range (physical health) DONE!
  17. Get body fat % to healthy range (physical health) DONE!
  18. Donate 1 million grains of rice through freerice.com (mental health) (totally lost track and dropped...need to decide if I'll restart)
  19. Take class on sign language (mental health)
  20. Read two books on Albert Einstein - because one just won't be enough (mental health)
  21. Read "Numbers" book (mental health) (started, need to finish)
  22. Learn to Speed Read (used to be: Try a martial art) (mental health)
  23. Learn a full Tai Chi form (physical health)
  24. Fast for a week – combined with praying fervently (spiritual health) (Lent 2012 should be a good time)
  25. Research (find likely opportunities) for teaching in Michigan (job) (proposed program based on book LMC)
  26. Participate in seminar business (job)
  27. Get five authors in the fold for K4K Books (project) (at 2)
  28. Publish at least 10 standards through CEITPS (project) (at 1)
  29. Make St. Mark Youth Group viable - have at least 10 active members (church) DONE!
  30. NEW try out Twitter (writing)
  31. Mentor / Coach four people (misc) DONE! (and many more)
  32. Put out a chess club website for Niles Comm Library club (misc)
  33. Become a 3 point shooting threat in basketball (sports) DONE!
  34. Get published - book (writing) DONE!
  35. Get published in a mainstream magazine (writing)
  36. Get published for a solo writing effort (writing) DONE!
  37. Finish a publishable novel (writing)
  38. Research Live Action Role Playing (and if legal / feasible) participate in one (misc)
  39. Complete 100/100 club for 100 days (physical health) (done in past, use as part of 6 mo program #11)
  40. Take 1,000,000 steps in 100 days (physical health) (Can be part of the 6 mo program, #11)
  41. Drink 64 ounces of water daily (for at least one month - Health) (Need to do this!)
  42. Donate $1K to St. Mark Youth Group (plan in work - Church) DONE!
  43. See a 3D movie (maybe at IMAX - Misc)
  44. Publish the Niles Chess Club Newsletter (monthly for the school year - misc) (Too late to get a full year)
  45. Get and keep Inbox @ Zero for 3 months (at least once each week - job) (may have achieved but didn't track...so...)
  46. Overcome anger - specifically during basketball (mental health) DONE! - still have to work at it though...it's not easy
  47. Learn to sing (misc)
  48. Use water pick or floss daily (90 days - physical health) (Longest streak was 33 days)
  49. Build complete Simon-Says comedy routine (misc)
  50. Develop financial retirement plan (family)
So, a lot to accomplish...And I promise to get back to writing this blog weekly!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daring to Dream (Vision Setting)

It’s been a long time.

It’s been a long time since I cried. I mean a good, no holds barred cry.

It’s been a long time since I felt lost. Families do that for you.

It’s been a long time since I rolled dice hoping for a critical hit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my own blog.

It’s been a long time, too long of a time, since I spent time with my friends. I miss you.

It’s been a long time since I spent time with my brothers, my sister, or my mom. I miss you.

But, with the regrets, I’ve also been happier than ever before. I turned the big Hawaii and it was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I didn’t achieve all of my goals, but I accomplished more than I thought I would. I also completed P90X…which I loved. Now if I can only get back to doing it again.

I’ve been working. Well, I’ve always been working, but now my job has gotten very busy. It’s great to feel needed. To be busy is a blessing. While my work has picked up, I’m still trying to keep in shape (the occasional work out, playing Tennis, and playing B’Ball). I’m writing a book (solo this time) and am about 4/5ths of the way done! I’m thoroughly enjoying our second time around as parents. With two rug rats that every day do something that makes us shake our heads in amazement, and slap our sides in laughter. Kids are great. They have to be. We keep having them.

Another effort I have had in the fire, but not cooking too well is a publishing company for Kids who want to become authors. The idea is to encourage young people to become authors – borne of my attempts to encourage my artist daughter. Check it out when you get a chance, www.k4kbooks.com. I’m looking for someone to help me push it into the light. It’s presently under a bushel basket because I’m focusing on that book I’m writing, and other endeavors, like my non-profit organization for the development of standards for performance measures. Feel free to check that out too if you’re interested in metrics or standards – Consortium for the Establishment of Information Technology Performance Standards. www.ceitps.org.

But that’s not what’s been taking up the majority of my time. Nope. Not even close. My latest endeavor is finding 10 people with visions which will change the world (for the better), and helping them succeed! I’ve dived head first into the murky pool of vision-setting. Murky because I had never tried to help an individual plan their future – although I had helped many organizations. I found out quickly that having a strategic plan is easy, but making it live, making it succeed is much harder. It requires more than an A+ personality. It requires a driving, guiding vision. A big honkin’ scary goal which galvanizes your life.

I’m lovin’ it.

To date, I’m working with non-profits, individuals, and board of directors.

I’m planning on changing my blog into a tool for communicating my ideas, beliefs and tips around Vision Setting. If you liked getting updates on my life, I’m sorry, because I’ll probably do much less of that and change this into a Vision Setting forum.

If you like my rants, thoughts, and ideas – you’ll still get a healthy dose of that – just focused around Vision Setting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let's Do The Time Warp Again!

It's been over a month since I posted! I've been hitting the snooze button over and over again on my reminder to post. I just didn't realize for how long! Time just slipped away. Amazing really. So here I am, finally getting to work again. My only excuse is the picture of Julia Roberts was sooo awesome, I didn't really want to replace it!

So, I'm less than three months from my birthday AND my deadline for the fifty things to accomplish. Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with a rehash of them all...I'll save that for my birthday.

But since Jan, a lot has happened, all worth noting here.
  1. Found a publisher for my book on Metrics (measures for improvement)
  2. Have to get first three chapters done by the end of this month, and the rest done by November. Yup, less time to post on the blog (NOW I'll have a good excuse)
  3. Started P90X on March 12th. I bought it, planned, got equipment together and then started it! I'm on the 4th week and lovin' what I'm getting out of it. It's basically like any set of exercise DVDs you can buy - but I'm lovin' it because it's my incentive to get in shape. Once I'm done, I'll do 90 days of One-A-Days (see previous post).
  4. Found someone to help me finally finish my chess book (well, I have to focus on the Metrics book first...but, hey, I'll need a diversion occasionally).
  5. Realized that all of the criticisms about the book I wrote with Alyssa - The Time Warp King, was from adults...not the target audience of young teens. All of the young teens that have read it "loved it." So why in the world was I planning massive changes to it? So, instead, I'm eliciting a few teens to read it and give me feedback. Based on that we'll see what we do next.
  6. Alyssa and I agreed/thought it would be fun to make drawings for each chapter. An excuse to get back to doing art work.
So, here I am, excited and VERY busy. Work has me busy. The metrics book has my nights taken up, and P90X takes what-ever's left. Fun, fun, fun! Now if I can only get my eldest to have a sensible plan about his near-term future, life would be great. The best I can figure, he's planning on bumming around Europe with a pal, and once they run out of money, come back and be a bum on the west coast. Literally.

Hopefully something will break through and put some sense in his head. I can always pray.
So, since I'm looking for feedback and readership I'm thinking each week I'll post a chapter (give or take) of our book here. Perhaps you can read it and give me your thoughts. And at least tell me any ideas you may have for pictures/drawings for the chapters.

It's 15 chapters - if you count the Prologue and Epilogue as chapters. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mind Control

So, a New Year is upon us! Over the holidays I watched Eat, Pray, and Love with my daughter (the 21 year old). Ok, so I watched it because it had Julia Roberts in it. Love her movies.

Well, I find that almost any book I read has at least one (usually at least 3) tidbit which resonates with me. Writers put pearls of personal wisdom, personal beliefs, and personal theory into their writing. I know, because I can’t stop from doing it when I write. It’s one of my major demarcation tools for a work of literature vs. a “piece of trash” when it comes to books. I find that most times this can also be applied to screen writers (those who take books or new ideas and create movies from them). Sometimes not.

Eat, Pray, and Love definitely had some of those tidbits.

One tidbit in particular hit home with me. I’ve been trying for years (I think it’s a natural part of our emotional and spiritual growth) to control my life. Control my emotions (see earlier posts on anger management), control my words (our words have power and can cause harm or joy), control my appetites, my wants, what I do, what I see, what I write, - basically to control myself.

Well, in Eat, Pray, and Love one character tells the central character that if she wants to get her life in order, she has to learn to control her thoughts!
This was not a new concept for me. But for whatever reason, the correct combination of experiences, time, and environment combined to make it “stick” this time.

Control my thoughts.

My biggest pain, comes from unwanted, uncontrolled thoughts.

I always thought that my biggest catalyst for sin was distraction. Distraction from God. Distraction from Good. Was I wrong? Perhaps not. But perhaps the worst distractions aren’t from outside, but born from within? Perhaps the biggest distractions are the thoughts which lead us astray.

Perhaps the Devil need not use video games, television, movies, radio, or books to distract us. For each of these which are “tools of the Devil” I think we can find an equal number (especially in books) which are tools for God. For every porn movie, we can find an Evan Almighty. For every evil we can find good. No, it is in our own impure thoughts that we breed our own sin.

Interesting. Control our thoughts.

I’m trying it. And to be honest, it works.

Now, I wonder if this is a sign of wisdom and growth or insanity. I would imagine those who are clinically delusional also practice strong control over their thoughts. To the point where they can ignore reality. Then again, the distance between insanity and genius is said to be very short.

Very short indeed.

Monday, November 29, 2010


What a great time of year!

Thanksgiving is in the rear-view-mirror (you know because of all the new junk in your trunk) and the Advent season is upon us. Even if you don’t follow the Birth of Christ, you can get excited about the ramp up to the College Football Bowl Games!

Personally, I enjoy this time because I start my annual search for the “perfect” Christmas gift for my lovely wife. Each year we have some traditions about Christmas presents.

  1. We are NOT allowed to buy anything for ourselves after an agreed upon date in November (usually before Thanksgiving) – lest we ruin Christmas (not for ourselves but for the gift giver). I did this one year. I bought something after the deadline and OF COURSE, I got the exact same thing for Christmas. I’m still trying to live that error down.

  2. We (all of us) make “wish lists” so that we know what to get each other. Of course, the list isn’t all-inclusive nor is it mandatory that you get something off the list. I’ve been wanting to improve this process for awhile (no surprise there!). I mean, when I want to get someone something off the list, I have to check with the other adults in the house (there a total of four now!) to see if they already bought it! I don’t worry too much about the kids…I just ask the wife what we got them…but my wife’s list quickly gets filled and I’m left to get socks.

  3. The surprise – Part One. I don’t knowing everything I’m getting. I like a surprise. Of course, I run the risk of getting something I don’t really like. Then I have to smile and act like I like it. Regardless of how many times the wife says, “if you don’t like it you can return it and get something else” I KNOW BETTER! The temperature in the house drops at least 20 degrees if I say, “yup, that’s going back.” So, I’ve learned NOT to return anything. Of course if it doesn’t fit, or has a defect – I can return it and POSSIBLY change it slightly (like get the blue one instead of the bright pink).

  4. The surprise – Part Two. Because of my own feelings about knowing everything I’m getting, I project that on my wife too. I HAVE to find her a surprise gift. Something she didn’t ask for. Preferably something she WOULDN’T ask for! Something either too impractical or something she hadn’t thought about – EVER! Of course I run a big risk that she won’t like it. I understand that. But that’s the fun. The challenge.

I’ve learned a lot about my wife over the last 26+ years of marriage. I know not to surprise her with certain things. She doesn’t wear much jewelry. She likes to pick out her own clothes. She’s not much of a Techie. So, I have to search, dig, and hunt. It’s not easy…but it’s worth it. Even when I strike out and get her something that I know she doesn’t like (of course no matter how much I encourage her to return it, she won’t…instead it gathers dust under our bed or in the closet) – it’s worth it. She knows I love her. She knows all the work and effort I put into finding her the “perfect” gift.

At least that’s what I like to believe.

Knowing my wife (I really do!) – she’d actually (probably) be happier if I got only things from her list.

But hey – it’s a tradition.

So the hunt begins. Via the internet, via mall walks, via friends ideas. If any of you have any ideas…I’m all ears!