Saturday, November 29, 2008

Qui Transtuit Sutinet

My home state has been in the forefront of ass-backwards behavior, dating back to the mid-17th century.

Take our state motto, which coincidentally is the title of this post, for example. "Qui Transtuit Sutinet". Literally translated, it means "He who transplanted still sustains".

Excuse me? He who transplanted? Transplanted what? And if he transplanted something, does he still sustain it? These are questions that people in my state have been asking for generations, and for generations, no one has given a reasonable answer/explanation for it.

Moving on, we come to the official state items: the flower (Mountain Laurel), the bird (American Robin, bleah), and the tree (White Oak). I have no problems with those, it's the other official state designated items that leaves me scratching my head in bewilderment.

Our state animal is the Sperm Whale. I'm sorry, but when has this animal ever been spotted this far north? Would it make much sense to pick an animal that is indigenous to this particular state, instead of an animal that there's minimal connection to at best?

Our state song is "Yankee Doodle". Yankee Doodle....You would think that they could come up with a better song than one that has been screwed up by multiple generations of kids who sang, stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni! Connecticut has had a multiple of talented home grown songwriters throughout the centuries, that they could of chosen from. Like Gene Pitney for example.

Our next item that my state screwed up on, is our state hero, Nathan Hale. I guess that a failed spy could be considered a state hero. However, considering how rich and flavored our state history is with all other kinds of historical figures, perhaps someone else could have been chosen. Not trying to sound political correct, but what about the people who were involved with Amistad? Surely they would be more worthy as state heroes then Nathan Hale?

Next item that the state picked, which clearly showed that politics were involved, was the official state ship, the USS Nautilus. I'm sorry, but a submarine from Electric Boat simply doesn't cut it. What about, say the Freedom Schooner Amistad? It's based in Connecticut, has a rich detailed history that was successfully re-habbed and is now used as a goodwill ambassador around the world. You know, something with HISTORY to it. I don't particularly care about a nuclear submarine. Call me old fashioned, but our distant past should be honored, not something from the present.

Our state gem is garnet. Whopee. Don't know nothing about it, so we'll pass judgement on this.

Now we're getting down to the plain stupid. Our state insect is the European Mantis. WHAT??? A state insect??? Do we really need a state insect? I mean, does the designation make it a protected species? Especially one that ISN'T native to Connecticut. I'm sure we can come up with something more worthwhile, like say, a honey bee? It's endangered and it's more important to the agriculture than the mantis ever is.

And finally, our state fossil, Eubrontes Giganteus. We have a state park exclusively designed for that fossil, called "Dinosaur State Park". Located in Rocky Hill, it's basically a very large dome encasing the fossil and some foot tracks.

Yah.

So there you have it folks. A state that is one of the original thirteen colonies; has a rich and detailed history dating from the 17th century; and they made some dubious picks for official state products.

A decent flower.
An average bird.
An average tree.
An animal that isn't even indigenous to this state.
A useless children's song.
A teacher who failed miserably as a wartime spy.
A nuclear submarine.
A useless insect.
A dinosaur.

I'm sooooooo glad that I live in a state that cares soooooo much about its rich history.

Almost makes me want to cry in my locally produced ale from East Hartford, and eat my locally produced Grote & Weigel hot dogs, my locally produced ice cream from Manchester, and enjoy the local music scene.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Unfortunate Change

Howdy.

This a rare day of back to back postings, however, I made a small change to my blog which has necessitated this second post.

Occasionally, I have problems with trolls in the chat room forums. And up until today, they've kept themselves in the chat rooms.

Today, I had one follow me over to my blog from a link that I had left about Thanksgiving on a thread that the both of us happen to post on.

I had to nuke two of his comments here because he decided to bring his trolling activities from there to here. I know who this person is and I will deal with him accordingly.

Which brings me to the change I've made here. Until I can resolve this problem to my satisfaction, starting today (11/27), all comments will be moderated. I don't want to do this, but this person has left me no other choice to pursue here.

I apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this might cause. I pride myself on freedom of speech here and it really pains me to do this, but I will not have my blog polluted by someone who has nothing better to do with their time on this planet.

Happy Turkey Day!

Do the world a favor today and practice population control by decimating one segment of the poultry population.

Your choice of turkey or goose.

Or, if your speed is non-poultry, then practice population control by decimating the porcine population by 1%.

In any event, have an enjoyable day, and remember to be careful out there, because death by constipation doesn't look good on a death certificate, and will definitely tarnish your memory for generations to come.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 17)

Right then and there, Walter knew that his number was up, possibly for good. A feeling of doom, accentuated with panic, soon began to engulf him as the real possibility of being pummeled by multiple in-laws, was starting to become very real.

"Azalea! What a pleasant surprise it is to hear your voice!"

"Stop, just stop. Enough with the fake superlatives already. Please, just stop talking in gibberish and answer this one question truthfully, okay?"

Mostly silence and heavy breathing answered her in return. Briefly putting the phone down, she squeezed her eyes for a good thirty seconds in a futile attempt at regaining her composure before continuing with the conversation.

"Are you still there? Better make it easy on yourself and answer me!"

After another minute of heavy breathing, she heard a loud click, which confirmed her worst suspicions about Walter. Staring at the phone in utter disbelief as her previously rock solid marriage crumbled to dust, Azalea collapsed to the concrete extremely hard. Immediately sitting upright, she then painfully wiggled her way to the balcony fence, stuck her extremities between the gaps, and lost it.

Sobbing quite heavily while slowly rocking back and forth, not too many people paid much attention to her. Most figured that she was some kind of drunken loser, with the crying and rocking. A couple of people did stop to see if she was okay, to which the reply was, "No, I'm not. But thanks for your concern."

Twenty-five minutes later, an emotionally spent Azalea ceased her rocking to and fro, and instead starting banging her head against the rail. Every couple of minutes she would stop, stretch her arms to get the blood flowing, before continuing with the head banging.

After about twenty minutes of this self-infliction of pain, Azalea decided to stop. Not only was this act of self punishment wrong (since the root cause wasn't her fault to being with), but she was in the major throes of a splitting headache. Resting for a moment, she felt that a short walk would help cleanse the mind, ease the headache and focus her concentration on what her next move with Walter should be.

Standing up, Azalea became suddenly became quite wobbly. Taking hold of the guardrail, she slowly made her way back to her room. Grabbing some essentials, she locked the door and took her time walking to the car, in order to get some functionality in her wobbly legs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chat Rooms Are Chock Full Of Natural Warmth And Goodness

Baloney.

If you think that chat rooms are populated with people who are nothing but friendly, respectful of other people's viewpoints, actively pursue the Boy Scout mantra and love their fellow man, then you've been living a sheltered life where your computer skills are negligent, you still do dial up for the 'net AND you have everything routed through your phone line.

It's a cutthroat world, populated by wannabes, keyboard commandos, trolls and the like. These people, who in real life are probably the nicest people in the world and wouldn't dream of dragging your name through the mud in the real world, would do so in a New York minute in cyber space.

Chat rooms are da bomb. Where else can you find people to share your interests, debate various topics with gusto,meet new people and make lasting friendships.

Right. No doubt that you can meet new people. But do you really want to talk to people who may oppose your viewpoint? Of course you don't. You want to talk to people who think just like you do. Anybody else simply don't have their head screwed on tight.

You can go exploring the different forums and get exposure to different cultures. You can respectfully disagree with someone and still maintain good terms with them.

No, you don't respectfully disagree with everyone. You tell them why they're wrong and bludgeon them with half truths, insults and blatant lying, in order to prove what you just said is right.

You can practice your writing skills and sharpen your debating skills until they sparkle. You can gain the trust and admiration of your fellow posters.

Really? How much practice do you need to say 'STFU' to someone? Debating skills? Forget you. Remember, loudness is better. Squash them like a cockroach.

You can gain knowledge from your fellow posters, perhaps they can give you pointers on how to accomplish a particular feature in the chat rooms.

Yeah, I can give you pointers all right. Like how to swear without using swear words. Like, "Yo mammy is a female dog!", "Your pops is pimping out your momma for food." and "You're a piece of excrement!"

You can play games with your fellow posters.

Like, "If you were on a deserted island, and you can have only one person to make your fantasies come true, who would it be?"

Hey! You can't say that!

Listen, take your pollyanna attitude and stick with the sun don't shine.

Excuse me?

Come here (grabs the other person and yanks him closer).

Help!!!!

(the person gets stuffed into an old trunk, which is thrown into garbage truck)

Now, as I was saying.....

KA-BOOM!!!!!!!!!!

Smoke eventually clears and nothing but a smoldering six foot crater is left behind.

The Writer: The point is that chat rooms can be whatever you choose to make it to be. Chat rooms can open up a whole new world for you and help expand your horizons, or they can be the worst thing you ever experienced in your life.

(brushes off a few bits of bone and flesh)

Chat rooms: they're not just for wannabe social outcasts anymore.

Disclaimer (of sorts): The story you've just read is mostly true, no names were used to implicate anyone whatsoever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

11/21/08: Darkness At Cedar Mountain

Autumn in New England.

Crispy nights, filled with a smattering of stars and bare trees stretching their branches to the sky, summoning the spirit of the headless horseman.

A mild breeze blowing down a quiet suburban road, leaves swirling around in a small cone shape funnel as a person walks down the side of the street, bundled up from the cool autumn breeze.

I had just finished this week's feeding of the family (aka grocery shopping) and was about a mile or so from home, when a small wave of sadness came over me. Usually my thoughts really don't bother me much when I'm driving home from shopping, because usually I'm doing this in the daytime.

Night time it's a different animal. My section of town contains this blog's namesake and the local quarry, and at night, it really can do a number on your state of mental health. I'm really not sure how to describe it to everyone other than it plays out like a modern ghost story, without the ghost.

A dimly lit deserted street, a mild breeze blowing, a dark and foreboding mountain, bare trees, and a soundless neighborhood, all conspire to prey on whatever small negative thought you happened to have going. Like a virus, it quickly spreads until it threatens to destabilize your current state of oneness.

Anyways, I pulled into the driveway and got out. Looking up, I saw that the sky tonight had only a few stars out to illuminate the night sky. Looking across the street, the trees were completely naked (courtesy of Mother Nature and her windy temper tantrum this past weekend) and the branches stuck out at grotesque angles, like a bad painting from Night Gallery.

It really did start to pray on my mind as I simply stood in the driveway for a few minutes, inhaling the night time atmosphere. Looking down the street, all I felt was the mild breeze blowing in my face. No other sound could be heard beyond the inflated turkey stationed at the lamppost.

It took me quite a while to bring the groceries in as every time I went to the car to retrieve the groceries, I paused long enough to inhale the atmosphere and do a little more pondering of the days events. Bit by bit, the stillness that surrounded me began to take hold and penetrate my psyche.

But eventually, I was able to shake off the unpleasantness that permeated my being, by simply walking into my living room and watching my little four month old nephew sleep. Spending those few minutes watching my nephew sleep in front of a blaring television without a care in the world, brought me back to the here and now.

Even though the mountain's mystical natural power took a firm grip on my psyche and threatened to turn me into a quivering emotional wreck, the power of the baby was too much for it to overcome.

My peace of mind restored, I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't completely swallowed by unholy temptation that is Cedar Mountain.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 16)

Hitting '2' on the speed dial, Azalea soon had Walter's cell phone ringing in her ear. Patiently waiting for the other end to answer, a million thoughts went racing though her mind about what she was going to say when he answered. As the phone was being answered, she decided to shoot from the lip before Walter did.

Part 3

"Hey, love of my life! How are you doing? I'm returning your voice mail and I must say I can't stop thinking about you either. I miss you tons. Have I got a surprise for you!" Pausing to catch her breath, the next two sentences that she heard, hit her like a quarterback being sacked.

"No, I'm not the love of your life! Who is this anyways?" said a very hot female voice.

Stunned and speechless, Azalea felt herself becoming angrier by the minute as the unknown voice continued to pour it on.

"Look, I don't know who you are, but you better keep your sorry ass away from my man. He's a one woman man who doesn't need another skirt chasing him. So whoever you are, get lost!!"

Finally regaining her ability to speak, Azalea gave the unknown female what for.

"Look here you dim bulb, this is Walter's wife Azalea! I don't know who you are or why you're speaking on my husband's cell, but your sad sorry ass better be far away from that room when I get there, or I will permanently scramble your brains! Now I suggest you hang up that phone, because when I call again in ten seconds, Walter better be answering the phone, not you."

Sure enough, ten seconds after redialing, Walter picked up on the second ring.

"Hello?"

Silence was all that greeted him as Azalea came to the grim conclusion that Walter was a cheat.

"Hey! Whoever this is, you better cut the silent treatment right now or else I'm going to terminate this phone call."

More silence ensued. Disgustedly, Walter said, "Right. I'm going to terminate this call now!"

Azalea finally spoke, her words dripping with icy venom. "Don't you dare hang up this phone, you lying sack of shit!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Did You Become A Writer And What Did You Do In Order To Get Where You Are Today?

First off, I would like to thank a fellow blogger, Merely Me (you can access her blog by viewing my profile for the link), for giving me the basic idea for this post. I had made a rather lengthy reply to a recent post of hers, and after thinking about for a day or so, I felt that my comment would make a very good topic to write about.

I never set out from day one with the goal, "I'm gonna be a writer!" In fact, I got into writing way late in life, like about three years ago. But it wasn't because I suddenly decided to sit down at my laptop one evening and began to write. I decided to write because of two important reasons:

1) I was going through some personal strife.
2) And the easiest outlet/therapy for my strife was to write.

So, in the span of about 10 months, from December 2005 to September 2006, I wrote one novel and a half dozen short stories. And like a neophyte, I thought that they were already perfect, thus off to submission land they went.

Fast forward to February 2007. The event: chat rooms. I discovered chat rooms (or message boards if you prefer) that month and from that point on, things changed for the better. I started off by making long, detailed oriented posts that basically put people to sleep {overwriting, sin #1}. As I got more used to the fact that the Topix chat rooms had a 4,000 character limit, the more I was able to condense and zero in on what I wanted to say {editing, flash non-fiction} with fewer words and greater use of a thesaurus {redundancy, sin #2}.

By the time 2008 rolled around, I was well on my way to becoming a master at writing blistering non-fiction posts for the unseen masses. I excelled at making my point with as few words as necessary and also holding the attention of quite a few people who publicly told me that they enjoyed my writing.

In essence, Topix had become my personal training ground for improving my writing skills. Whereas other people probably did it the old fashioned way (writing stories, using writer's groups, taking classes, getting feedback, etc.) to get where there are, I did it the Internet way. I still use Topix as my personal training ground, but now it's used more to refine and sharpen my writing skills for the unseen masses.

This is now due to the fact that I moved on to the next stage of my schooling: blogging. I moved over to the blog sphere in May of this year (please see any other label on this blog for further details) and once again, began to work my craft for the unseen masses.

And just like in the chat rooms, it took me a while to get the hang of blogging. As I blogged and gained more confidence in my abilities, I began to explore other writing related blogs. As I explored, I gained important tips, skills and knowledge from writers other who have been doing their craft for a much longer period of time.

It's been a wonderful learning experience for me, but I believe that with the background I possess (chat rooms and blogging), my writing will offer a unique perspective/fresh outlook on whatever basic idea that is out there to write about.

So, how did you go about getting to where you are today?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Got My Job The Old Fashioned Way.....Connections!

The oldest running joke in the world is that in order to get a job within the government, you need to know someone.


"Hi Bob!"
"Hi Jim!"
"You hear the latest about Vinny?"
"No, why?"
"He got a job with the government."
"That moron? How he get a job?"
"His cousin, three times removed, is dating the sister of the local bookie, whose step-brother is a barber for a guy, whose second cousin is friends with the first cousin of a girl, who's a secretary at a temp agency, whose owner is a step-sister to a guy, who's a clerk at DMV, whose brother is dating a girl whose sister is a florist...."

You get the basic idea.

While this may be true to a certain degree, it still boils down to the fact that while you may have gotten your job through non-traditional methods, you still have to prove your worth (unless you have a relative or a friend to protect you from yourself).

Yes I did get my first state job through a very tenuous connection (my mother was in a bible study group and was friends with my soon to be supervisor), but it still boiled down to me having prove that I could do the job.

The job, as it was originally designed, was to haul down very old, very dirty and very musty volumes of newspapers and get them ready for microfilming; to tag along as the Lenny to my supervisor's George on tips to historical societies and libraries; the serious number cruncher and the all seeing, all knowing inspector of microfilm.

Another long running joke is the private sector is that all government workers are highly overpaid and grossly under worked.

Let me put that ugly myth to rest by saying this: for the privilege of slaving away in a dusty, moldy, fetid attic; destroying large volumes of newspapers for hours on end; looking at unlimited rolls of microfilm until the very sight of a box containing such put me fast asleep; and making deliveries to all points of the state for the fantastically unheard sum of...

(wait for it)

$5.50 per hour @ 34 hours per week/68 hours bi-weekly. Roughly $748 per month. An excellent sum to support a wife, one kid and a mobile home.

This is what happens when you stupidly quit your higher paying previous job without having anything else lined up in the wings.

Yup, I was now on the long and (hopefully) fruitful path to state employment....
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Next time: Simply Indispensable.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

People Who Got Nothing Better To Do Than Bad Mouth Co-Workers

aka "Getting Their Panties In A Bunch".

No disclaimer on this one. Content will be relatively clean.

I work for the wonderful state of Connecticut, where they have rules in regards to ethical behavior, specifically selling stuff for personal gain on state time. So I got this book out for public consumption called, "Shades of Love", and I have copies of it for sale at work. I sold a few due to word of mouth and the like, and things were going pretty decent.

Until this morning. This morning, while I was talking to a co-worker prior to starting my day, my supervisor came up to me and said, "We need to talk". I immediately thought I'm in deep shit for something. So the first thing I asked was, "What I do wrong?", to which she replied, "This has a happy ending to it."

Long story short. A few assholes in the department next to me and elsewhere complained about me selling my book, and complained about some free advertising that I had in the cafeteria. So my boss, being the decent person that she is, and wanting to prevent me from doing something stupid, told her supervisor about the complaints she was getting about me, and wanted to know what she should do. Advice was given and off she went to talk to the head of Human Resources and the head of Labor.

After all was said and done, their blessing was given because they could see I wasn't doing anything wrong. Matter of fact, they were impressed with the fact that I was able to self publish my novel. But basically, I didn't pester people to buy book (potential violation #1), I didn't use any state equipment to solicit sales (potential violation #2), and I didn't hang my display outside of my cube (potential violation #3). Plus, someone else put a postcard and business card up in the cafeteria, which wasn't an issue either, because what someone else wants to do in a private business is fine with them.

The only thing that was suggested to me, which I did, was remove the price list. Now you would think that people would have something better to do than to bitch about me selling a book, which isn't being pushed on anyone, and that I'm only telling people about it who are genuinely interested about it. Most everyone knows I've been trying to get my book published for quite a while, so it's not like I'm trying to shove something down peoples throats.

In any event, you would think that this would be the end of the matter, right? That me taking my sign down (and the cafeteria lady taking hers down independently of me) would stop the tongues from wagging and things would get back to normal, right?

Wrong.

A couple of hours after this all this crap goes down, I send an e-mail to a friend saying "an average Thursday morning to you". She says thanks, then proceeds to tersely tell me to watch my back and that she'll e-mail me tonight. Puzzled I say "got it." and think nothing more about it. Next thing I know, she responds in part, "From a friend to friend.....stick to your state paying job."

I respond with this little symbol :\

I'm not sure what the hell happened on her end, but whatever it was made her mad enough to say what she said to me. Now, I love her like a sister, so when she said what she said, it really hurt me a lot. I'm not sure how I will handle this, if and when she contacts me.

In any event, it seems to me that these assholes should be worrying about themselves and their jobs, instead of bitching about someone selling a book out of their cube. Considering the amount of stupid fundraising that goes on at my agency (and elsewhere), for both personal and professional reasons, to bitch about me smells just a little bit fishy. And to get someone else into trouble over it, is doubly stupid and infantile.

This book, for what it's worth, has gotten me into a wee bit of trouble in the past couple of years, and I thought that the last time this happened, I was able to mitigate the damage and repair the friendships with the other people involved.

Now I'm not so sure. I may just go simply underground (much like a few other people in my life do) and not communicate with a few of my friends until this blows over. I'm just tired of getting hammered for stuff that isn't quite my fault.

But all I can say is this, and this is directed to the pricks who beefed about me in the first place: Get a fuckin' life. Worry about yourself, instead of worrying about what other people are doing. Enough with the office politics, because this ain't worth the aggravation for no one. What happened here, only reinforces my opinion that people at my job are petty little individuals who are hell bent on making things miserable for the world around them.

I congratulate the people who were too chickenshit to confront me face to face. By doing what you did, you just proved to me once again, that a good chunk of my co-workers are mean, petty, and shallow individuals.

I really do love my job.

Honest I do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 15)

"Good. Here's your key. Where you'd park?" She told him. "Pull out and head to the right, then go all the way to the rear. Room number is 524, on the second floor. Have a nice stay."

"Thanks, I will." she said over her shoulder as she left the lobby and walked back to her car. Stepping outside, she was met with a very cool breeze blowing across the lot, which felt luxurious but also left her feeling melancholy, like something was pulling her to an empty sea of nothingness.

Jumping into the car, Azalea followed the clerk's directions and in no time at all, was pulling into a space near the room. Rolling the windows up, she popped the trunk before stepping out into the cool summer twilight.

Inhaling the clean country air, she became overwhelmed with the sad memories of days gone by. Whether it was because of homesickness or the fact that she wasn't with Walter, Azalea really couldn't say, but within a few minutes of taking in the spectacular view, she started crying. Not heavy, but lightly silent, like the morning mist on a cool summer day.

Walking back to the fence so that she could get a better view of the scenery, Azalea dried her eyes while trying to convince herself that nothing was wrong. Look, get a grip on yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong going on in your life right now that you should be crying about. Nothing. Sure you miss your husband, that's only natural. Sure you're homesick. That's only....only.... Her pep talk came to sudden halt as the floodgates opened and she experienced a public meltdown.

Running back to the car, she grabbed her luggage from the trunk, while trying to stem the tide of tears long enough until she got back to her room. Quickly running up the stairs, she unlocked the front door and chucked the luggage across the room. Slamming the door and locking it, she crashed on the bed to finish her meltdown.

Twenty minutes in, her cell phone rang. Flipping the cover, Azalea saw it was Walter's number. Pressing 'talk', she yelled in between sobs, "I'm not ready to talk to yet!!!", before slamming the cover closed.

Fifteen minutes after that, she was able to calm down enough to carry on a normal conversation with Walter. Drying her eyes, Azalea grabbed her cell and went to the balcony, to get some fresh air and regroup a little more before calling Walter back.

Flipping the cell, she saw a voice mail waiting for her. Punching the various buttons to access it, she soon heard a very animated Walter leaving a very provocative message. Blushing deeply while listening, Azalea couldn't help but smile over what he had said. Hanging up, she was finally ready to give him a call back.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How To Fly Solo When Other People Won't Even Give You A First Glance

Last week, was without a doubt, the most stressed out week I've ever experienced as a writer.

My book order finally came in last Tuesday, so on that day I became an honest-to-goodness published writer. Granted, it was with a publisher who in some circles would be considered a vanity press and in others would not, but fact remains that I decided to take the plunge and present my book to the people that really matter: the general public.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yes, the general public. For they are the ones who will truly decide whether or not my writing is good enough for them. They are the ones who have experienced my writing first hand in multiple forms. For some, they were exposed to my first attempts at short story writing and the original first draft of my novel. They saw something in that early tangled mess and told me so.

Others were exposed to my 13,000+ posts that were made in the Topix chat rooms and liked them enough (at least the ones that actually had a point and made sense) to tell me what a excellent and reasonable voice I have.

And finally, others were exposed to my writings via this blog, which has been around since Memorial day weekend 2008. I must be doing something good here as well, as I'm averaging about 100 visitors a week to my tiny slice of the blog universe. If people didn't like what they were reading, they wouldn't keep coming back.

For all of these people, and many others who know about me via word of mouth, either in the Cyber World or in the Real World, they are the ultimate decision makers in regards to my novel.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Back to the topic at hand: self-publishing my novel. I spent a fun filled Wednesday afternoon opening a business account (note: you can't have a savings without a checking or vice versa), getting a new mailing address, and creating a brand new blog to sell it.

On Thursday, I started a simple, but hopefully, effective grass-roots advertising campaign. First, the wonderful cafeteria lady at my office building was kind enough to tape up the postcard and business card I gave to her, on the front counter near the cash register. That way, when people were waiting in line to pay for their food, they could read the short synopsis of the book, and get a chance to meet and great the author (I'm there two or three times a day) as well.

Secondly, I've been able to make quite a few friends at some of my favorite blogs for the past six months, and they've been gracious enough to post a link to my blog on theirs. For the people who were nice enough to do that, I give you all a great big THANK YOU! for doing so.

Finally, I would like to thank Blogger as well. They have a feature called "scheduling posts", which lets a poster create multiple posts and have them post in the future. The previous week before I got my order, I had enough time to create several posts and date them for future use, because I knew that with things in the real world starting to heat up, there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to update my blog properly.

I have two more scheduled posts that are coming up on 11/11 and 11/13 (note: my scheduled posts always have a time of 7:00a on them), so by next Saturday, barring any unforeseen issues, I will be back to my normal routine of posting in the evening.

So to sum it up, I am now officially a small business owner (really small as my office/warehouse is my bedroom and dining room). It's exhilarating, exciting and just a little bit scary, because to be honest with everyone, I never really gave any thought about becoming my own boss.

I figured that since I had the magic touch in other aspects of my life, that getting a book published would be a snap. Find an agent, get a publisher, get published. Simple, yes? Well, if you've been a follower of my blog from the early days, you know it ain't that simple.

I won't rehash the gory details, but I will say that if I knew then what I know now, I probably would still be having this conversation with everyone, because I would still be going the self-publishing route. I wouldn't be spending the ungodly total sum of $7,000 in order to get my book out, but I would be spending something in order to do what I wanted to do.

Self-publishing isn't for everyone. You need to look deep within yourself and ask, "Do I have what it takes to move forward with my dream, knowing that it will become an uphill battle in the process? That most people within the industry won't really take a second look at your book unless you can show really good sales for it (like at least 1,000 or more copies and great word of mouth)? That all you'll ever be is a good niche writer with a small and devoted following?"

If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then self-publishing is for you. If you can't, then get ready to spend years fine tuning your craft, doing submissions and receiving multiple rejections. It's long tortuously slow process not for the faint of heart, and its designed mostly to crush the spirit of the average writer who dreams of success.

While this may sound like sour grapes coming from someone like myself who hasn't paid enough dues in the way of being rejected or being published, it isn't. I am by nature, an impatient individual. For me, two years worth of rejections from agents and publishers, was a long enough wait before deciding to go out on my own. For others, it may not be. Only you can be the judge on how long you're willing to suffer through the callous industry called publishing.

In any event, no matter what avenue you decided to take, pursue it to the best of your ability, because at the end, the reward of being published is all that really matters.

Friday, November 7, 2008

On Being Georgie B

Have you ever wanted to participate in chat rooms, but were afraid to try for fear of something bad happening to you?

Just started to write short stories and wanted to know how not to go about it?

Or you've finished a novel and wanted to know what it was like for someone else to go through the process of trying to get it published?

Or maybe you're starting a blog and wanted observe someone else doing it, so that you could avoid the potential pitfalls?

Or maybe you just wanted to see how someone from another part of the country plays nice (or not play nice) with the world around them?

Don't have time to actually come around and visit the blog as often as you wanted to?

Well then, may I suggest an inexpensive (read: cheap) Christmas/Hannukuah/Kwanza/or whatever holiday you observe or not observe gift for yourself: a subscription to Cedar's Mountain.

Yes, have Cedar's Mountain delivered right to favorite reader or e-mail addy, with almost no effort on your part.

You will be guaranteed to have fresh new material delivered right to your doorstep 3 to 4 times a week (basically every other day). Where else can you get a skewered view on life, blogging, chat rooms, writing and working for state government, plus one page of a short story, delivered absolutely free to your door.

And, that's not all you can do here. If subscribing isn't your cup of tea, and you do enjoy visiting my blog from time to time, why not become a Friend of Cedar's Mountain. If you have a blog in Blogger, then by doing the simple click of adding my link to the blogs you follow, you can become an instant Friend of Cedar's Mountain.

Try it today, you won't be disappointed.

And for a gentler slice of life via the West Coast, please give Under The Sheets-Shhh a try. You won't be disappointed. I gave it a try, and I'm glad that I did, because I'm now a follower of that nice little West Coast blog.

Don't Get Your Panties In A Bunch

Have you ever wanted to stop some mealy mouthed bloviator dead in his tracks? Wanted to eloquently tell someone to STFU? Wanted to make someone look like a fool with minimum effort? Snappy answer to a stupid question?

Well, look no more. Georgie B has the perfect insult for you. Guaranteed to solve all the aforementioned questions (with the exception of the last one) with minimal effort on your part.

The cost of this insult is so low, I'm ashamed to tell you it. But it can be had for the very low, low, low, low price of reading the rest of this post.

In the strange world of chat rooms, where black is white and you can't say "cracker" or "boobies" without being censored, a clean and effective rant stopper is absolutely priceless weapon in your arsenal.

That seven word post title, "Don't Get Your Panties In A Bunch", effectively stops any rant and inserts a welcome swerve into the argument. No matter what the person may be bloviating about, they immediately stop and try to turn the tables on the insulter by any means necessary.

Any means necessary can usually mean questioning your sexual orientation, which in and of itself, is a highly tired and utterly lame attack.

Another good comeback for use in disarming an obnoxious poster is to use their own words against them.

For example: the other day a poster on a thread about Sarah Palin happened to venting on how he was going to be making a whole lot of hankies for all the McCain supporters the day after the election, except that he didn't say McCain, but instead said crybabies. So I said, "So you'll be making a lot of hankies for yourself?"

Got a funny face icon for it.

Another effective weapon to use is sarcasm. Normally sarcasm is very hard to inflict in a chat room, simply because there's no audio infliction to it. There are really only two ways that you can show that you're being sarcastic.

One: put an obvious tag in somewhere in your posts signifying that you're being sarcastic.
The second way requires a bit more skill. Write out your response in such a way that no one, even the occasional poster who happens to wander by, will have no doubt that you post is oozing with sarcasm.

For example: This was my favorite response for most of 2007, with situational tweaking as needed.

AAARGH!! Skewered by a rapier-like comeback!!! Oh wait...it's just a mosquito bite.

By 2008, that slowly fell out of use, as I started to encounter posters whose collective IQ was either their shoe size or the cup size (depending on the gender). So we basically went with the following sentence:

"Excuse me?" or "I'm sorry, was I supposed to be offended by this?"

Which was soon followed by a lengthy, scathing rebuke of whatever point the poster was trying to make.

Another way to get chuckles at the expense of the other posters is to use offensive language. You really have to be careful in how you express yourself, because using foul/nasty language will get you warned and your post yanked.

That's where the handy dandy thesaurus comes into play. You will be simply amazed with the amount of synonyms you can come up with and use in order to severely insult/degrade someone and not get into any kind of trouble for it. It's not something for the faint of heart, simply because it takes the burning of more than a few brain cells and a healthy dose of knowing how to work the system.

If you keep these simple rules of thumb in the back of your mind while exploring the chat rooms/message boards, in no time at all, you'll be well on your way to making a bunch of friends, a boatload of enemies and having a blast while doing it.

But the most important thing to remember is this: never take anything too seriously in the chat rooms, because after all, it is just that, a chat room. So long as you're careful about what you give out for info, you'll never have a problem in being there.

In addition, you can take comfort in the fact that there will always be a friendly voice/person in the form of me, happily bouncing around the chat rooms. I'm easy to find as I post under this name and I make all the threads I post on, public.

Happy chatting!

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming: How to become independently wealthy by actually taking responsibilities for your actions.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It Was Just A Freakin' Election!

Okay, I know this a rarity, a triple post day, something I haven't done since the early summer when I was posting two pages of a short story plus an original post.

But tonight, after reading a few of my favorite bookmarked blogs (one of which I just deleted because the hypocritical fawning over Obama {among other things} made me want to puke, and no it's not any of the ones I follow nor have listed on my blog) gushing over with big old crocodile tears, I just had to respond to it.

People, it was just a freakin' election. God didn't drop a bolt of lightening down from the heavens, anointing Obama as his chosen one to lead the little sheep out from the big bad forest. Get over it.

It wasn't so much as Obama having concrete plans to back up his words, as it was that people were tired of eight years of Republican rule (yes I'm a Republican). So far, Obama hasn't proved to me he can do the job. Shoot, he hasn't proved to anyone that he did anything of merit during his short stint in the US senate or his stint in the Illinois senate.

Until the man can prove he can make the tough decisions, don't anoint him as the savior of the holy grail that is America.

Because quite frankly, I don't think he can make the tough decisions, therefore, he ain't gonna be the savior of the holy grail that is America.

This concludes my take on the 2006-08 election cycle which culminated on the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of these United States. I will now leave the issue of national politics alone until the next presidential election cycle, which is due to start in 2010.

"Shades of Love" Is Finally Available!

Greetings to all my good friends and readers who populate the Blogsphere and the Chat Rooms.

My debut novel, "Shades of Love" is finally available for purchase.

I have set up a brand new blog to sell it from. And with time, other books will follow for your potential enjoyment.

Please visit my new blog, Books by Georgie B! for more information.

"Golden Texas Tea" (pg 14)

After a few minutes, in which Azalea could hear loud voices in the background, Malibu came to the phone.

"Zea! How's it going? Did you arrive safely? Is everything going alright? Details, give me details."

So Azalea filled her in on the airplane trip, the baggage claim area and the car rental place. Malibu for her part, told Azalea about what happened so far and what was going on now. After ten minutes or so of chit-chat, she finished up the call by saying, "Look, I got to get going to the motel. I'll give you a call later to let you know how the rest of my day went. By the way, did Walter call looking for me?"

"I don't know, let me check with the kids." A minute of silence ensued before Malibu came back on. "Yeah, he called about three minutes before you did. The children told him you were out running errands and that you'll be back soon, so he things that you're still here. Give him a ring at your earliest convenience."

"Thanks, I owe you big time. Ciao for now."

"You got that right, you owe me very big time!" said Malibu as she was hanging up.

Back on the road, Azalea decided to wait until she was settled in before giving Walter a jingle. Arriving at the motel, she pulled into an empty space, got out and leisurely walked towards the front lobby. Like before, she became a fantasy pinup as she slowly sauntered by a group of young men whose conversation came to a screeching halt when they say that fine foxy lady stroll on by.

Entering the lobby, she was greeted by a clerk who said, "Greetings and salutations! How are you on this peachy keen fine wonderful full of natural warm goodness sunshiny day?"

Startled, Azalea began to answer the same way. "Why I'm doing just fine, thank you," before shifting back to her normal voice, "Listen, I have a reservation for a room here. It should be under the name Azalea Wurld. If not, it'll be under the name Azalea Gold, as I'm not sure what name my agent booked it under."

Silence ensued as the clerk checked his computer. A few minutes later, he said, "Found it. Your travel agent had it booked under the name 'Azalea Gold-Wurld'. Could you verify your home address for me please?"

'What a freakin' dim bulb that agent of mine is.' thought Azalea as she gave the clerk the requested info.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's Harder: Fresh New Or Refreshing Old?

A question for everyone out there in the land of the Blog, and it doesn't matter how you pursue your craft, be it for fun or profit.

What's harder for you to do: Writing fresh material or taking a previously written story and re-writing to make it more viable?

I'm of the opinion that it's much harder to take an old story, gut it, and re-write it into something more smoother, more coherent and more meatier.

I have a short story, which I posted here previously, that I'm in the process of gutting and re-writing, in order to make it more viable piece of prose. Right now I'm fleshing it out so as to create a chapbook, then I'll be taking that fleshed out story and use it as an outline for a book.

I'm finding it's a tortuously slow process trying to properly incorporate the current story with new writing.

On the other hand, writing fresh new stuff, I believe, is a bit easier to do. You're not working with any old writing, just with the basic idea concept.

For example: with the book version of this story, the basic idea was the wedding, reception and traveling to the honeymoon destination (in my eyes it was easily executed, simply because the the original story starts at the honeymoon motel). Even though it took me about six months to write (due to other commitments at the time of creation), it was relatively easy to bang out. Right now, the book is at a standstill, because I've written up to where the short story starts out.

In essence, I believe it's harder to re-write than to just write.

What's your take on this?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Worst Customer Service Experience Ever

I would like to share with you the very last customer service contact I had with Microsoft. This is what happened when no one really pays attention to what you're saying.

Back in April of this year, I was having issues with one of my e-mail addys. Whenever I had hit "reply" to certain e-mails, I would get a compressed screen shot. In other words, instead of a full screen, I would get a screen view of about two inches in length.

So being the irritated Hotmail customer, I e-mailed a complaint about it (after spending fifteen minutes searching for the proper addy). What follows is a slightly edited 11 page/3 day correspondence from hell with Hotmail.

Me: I'm still having problems seeing a full screen with I replay to an e-mail. With some addresses, I can reply without any problems. With others, I have to switch to plain text in order to see the screen shot. (4/6/08)
Windows Live Tech Support {1}: After reviewing the info you provided, I have determined that the Hotmail support staff can help you further. (4/6/08)

Hotmail Support {2}: Georgie, I thank you for reporting this issue to us. We're already in the process of investigating this issue but we need answers to the follow questions: Do you encounter this issue on any e-mail you forward or reply? Do you encounter this issue when using Windows Live? If you're using the Classic version (see my first comment) please try using the 'Full' version and make sure that you monitor width is at least 1024 x 768.

Also, please send us a screenshot of your compose box showing the size and layout of the screen. For your convenience I have provide the steps below on how to do that. (He listed 9 steps involved in which I won't go into since everyone is familiar on how to copy and send a screenshot) We appreciate your continued support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available. Thanks for using Hotmail.

In addition we need permission to access your account as this will process of troubleshooting this issue. To give us permission, please reply to this e-mail and include the following text: I grant you permission to access my account. (This person then gives me several steps that I must do in order to reset my secret question and change my password) After we diagnose the problem, we will use your alternate e-mail to give you our findings. As always, thanks for your patience and understanding. (4/7/08)

Me: That sounds like way too much stuff that is required of me for you to fix this problem. BTW, I had to switch to plain text in order to reply to this message, because it gave me a compressed screen shot the other way. I'm a relatively private person when it comes to my e-mail, so I don't feel comfortable in giving you access to it. As for converting to the other, no. I will stick with this one until I am forced to change. So unless you can fix this problem without accessing my e-mail, I will consider the matter closed, and I will simply continue to switch from rich text to plain text as the need arises. Thank you for your time. (4/7/08)

Hotmail Support {3}: Hello Georgie, thank you for writing back to Hotmail Tech support (gives the same spiel as the previous person: i.e. We're already investigating). I understand your frustration and I certainly want to help you. We're asking vital info tat will help us help you in resolving this issue. Without it, we can't proceed with our investigation. We value the security and confidentiality of the info that you will send to us and I would like to assure you that it will only be used in resolving your particular issue. (4/7/08)

Me: It still boils down to someone else looking at my e-mail, no matter what the legitimate reason is (and it is legitimate). I already go through this at work because my job has a policy of electronic monitoring. So again, if you can fix the problem without going into my e-mail, fine. If you can't, that's fine as well. Like with this response, I really don't have a problem flipping between different types of text. I don't use the bells and whistles that are associated with the 'rich' text anyways.

Have a sparkling day. (4/7/08)

Hotmail Support {4}: Hello Georgie, thank you for writing back to Hotmail Support. My name is ****** and I have read your e-mail exchange with the previous support representatives about seeing a small compose box when replying to an e-mail. I know how this may have been inconvenient for you. (Bullshit) I am sorry, Georgie, but we do really need a screenshot of what your compose page looks like when you reply to your messages. We should also access your mailbox on our end for further investigation.

Going forward, we respect your decision for us not to view your mailbox. Though we may not be able to commit in providing you an exact date when this issue will be completely fixed, I would like you to know that this issue has been flagged as 'high priority'. (4/8/08)

Me: I appreciate that. BTW, had to switch to plain text to reply. Like I said, it only happens with certain domain names and not others. Not sure why, but it's something I can live with. I don't have a problem switching back and forth either.

Not sure why you need screenshots, because I described what it was, so I don't think a visual would be necessary at this point.

So with that in mind, let me simply say this: I'll withdraw my. While it may become a high priority on your end, it hasn't become one on mine. I can live with having to switch back and forth. It's a small price to pay in order to keep access to my e-mail private. I appreciate the fact that you understand this. (4/8/08)

Now you would think that after this last exchange, they would drop the matter and let me be with my messed up Hotmail. But no, they had to send one more e-mail.

Hotmail Support {5}: Thank you for writing back to Tech support. My name is ***** and I appreciate your taking the time to send us your thoughts and suggestions about Hotmail. We take feed about Hotmail product and service very seriously. It is through your comments and suggestions that we're able to know what our customers truly want (major bullshit). Although we're unable to take action on your comment immediately, rest assured that we're committed in upgrading the Hotmail system to improve our service to you. You can expect to see many improvements in the near future. (4/8/08)

Me: Interesting that yet a fourth person would take an interest in this. Normally, where I work, when there is a technical problem, I don't get passed around from person to person. I get attention from one person, from beginning to end. I'm not expecting any action to be taken on my comment. Nor expecting any action to be taken in the future. If you want to work on this particular problem so that YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO SOLVE IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE, knock yourself out.

Just to let you know for your records, this is the second time in about a week or so that I complained about this particular issue. The first time, you said that other people were suffering from the same malady and that you were working feverishly on solving the problem.

Obviously, you (and I mean the collective 'you', and not you personally) didn't get the job done. If you did, we wouldn't be having this conversation in the first place.

I'm sure you have an excellent service record, but you're batting a collective .000 with me. This is the third time I've e-mailed about a particular problem with my e-mail that you've been unable to solve. If you search your records, you will find that late last year (or early this year) I complained about some of my contacts being unable to reply directly to my e-mails, and instead have to use an ALTERNATIVE E-MAIL ADDRESS to reply to me.

Keep up the good work. Feel free to use this e-mail in your next training class on HOW NOT TO COMPLETE A GIVEN JOB.

And I'm sure that a fifth person will respond to this e-mail yet again give me reassurance that you're doing your very best in solving my problem.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Five different people and each one never really read my initial response saying that I won't pursue the matter further. Still got the same problem six months later. So being labeled 'high priority' means absolutely nothing unless you're somebody important.

Microsoft, it's where you don't want to be.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-17 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com