Saturday, September 28, 2013

Not just bees, butterflies, too

It's sad to read that other species are affected by environmental degradation.   But this article seems to indicate that something is being done.   Hope it's enough!

Monarch butterfly

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

But someone else has to do the work . . .


I enjoyed this post by The Minimalists.    Our society values creativity and creative people have ideas -- lots of them.   There are so many possibilities if one doesn't think about what is required to put them into execution.   Those details, sometimes known as scut work, may often fall to other people who are tasked to make real the wonderful, exciting, maybe airy-fairy idea that someone wont to consider the 'big picture' came up with.   In their dreams, the end result is amazing, even world- changing,  if only those worker drones would stay on task.  Perhaps that's too harsh an interpretation.

If idea people become writers they can give full scope to their imagination and take sole responsibility not only for the idea but the full fleshed, carefully edited version.   Some authors hire people to do some of those more tedious tasks that are less than enthralling.

The post by The Minimalists, however, lauds the efforts of those who bring the idea to fruition and believe that is the more difficult task.   So the next time someone comes up with an idea at your corporate retreat that would require you to add the task of bringing it to reality to your workload, try the line:  That's a great idea but, you know, the action is more valuable than the idea. 

Of course, if it is your boss' idea, perhaps not.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


  Classic Tall Large TOSCA Hobo Shoulder Handbag Light Blue Silver Buckles Italy
Sale:$45,049.00  (available through Amazon)

Serendipity can lead you to experience things that you would never have sought out yourself.   Stepping off your beaten path can lead to interesting experiences and observations.   I was at the hairdresser today and ended up reading a celebrity type of magazine that isn't my usual choice of fare.   The editors were pleased to offer a feature extolling the purse collection of actress Reese Witherspoon, in particular, photographs, with prices, of the different designer purses she had been seen with during one month.

I suspect the idea was for me to admire--drool even--at the different handbags that Ms. Witherspoon owns and colour coordinates with her apparel.    The price was carefully researched and noted as between one and three thousand dollars and the editorial comments dripped with adjectives and superlatives.   A mere pittance compared to the blue bag pictured at the top of this post.

Membership in the  celebrity culture  seems to necessitate excess in all things including excessive spending.   Compared to million dollar wedding and hundred thousand dollar birthday parties for pre-schoolers, the aforementioned purses are a bargain.   Perhaps this is how actors are picked for coveted roles or hockey players are drafted  to winning teams.   Perhaps not.   

I overheard a television program the other night wherein the widow of a wealthy Hollywood producer had decided to downsize (not for financial reasons like the rest of us!) and her new penthouse accommodation, when completed, would only have one gift wrapping room, instead of the three she presently enjoys.   

I don't mind people living comfortable  or even luxurious lives at their own expense.   After all, it's their money.   But I must not be their target audience because I don't feel admiration when I read or see the over-the-top conspicuous consumption, I feel something more between pity and disgust.   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Here's a peek at the current version of my upcoming release of the sequel to When Bees Die.   I'm still working editing the content.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Measure of Success


We self-published writers like to read sometimes about our compatriots that have been successful or hit the 'big time.'   This is often acknowledged as occurring when many, many books are sold, when the author makes one of the benchmark book lists like the New York Times Bestseller List, and  becomes a household name--at least among writers.      Some writers want it more than others.

I was interested to read a post by Hugh Howey, one of self-publishing's successes, using the above described list as a measure.   But Hugh pays homage to his most meaningful times not as the ones that garnered fame and fortune but rather those which later became the inspiration for his novels.   The times when his life was rich in experiences, not particularly in cash, and life was a wondrous experience.   Read his post here.

For Hugh Howey, it was the writing part that was glorious.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This concept of Universal Design is not so much a one size fits all as it is an attempt to make a product or process accessible to everyone. It's a new way of looking at the environment surrounding us and trying to ensure there are as few obstacles as possible to inclusiveness.

So, for example, it is a simple matter when roads are built to include curb cuts in the design:


These allow people in wheelchairs to move about their neighbourhood.   But, as is sometimes the case, they have become useful to others:   people with strollers or shopping carts or bicyclists.

You may have have seen the evolution of traffic signals in your neighbourhood from this:


to something more useful to all:


The addition of the chirping sound in some location benefits the sight impaired.

With books, the increasing availability of audio-books adds another dimension and more accessibility.   Some popular books, mostly those available through the school market are released in two versions, one with what is called a lower readability.    This involves someone, the author or editor, adapting the vocabulary, the spacing, the font and adding  sidebar or footnote explanations, all to assist what is, perhaps unflatteringly, called the struggling reader.  

Another recent example is the development of e-readers which have a feature that allow the size of print to to be increased.    If you have ever squinted at some of the older 'pocket books' that have reduced font to fit the material into a small size you will appreciate this feature.

It can be an interesting exercise, maybe a future career, to consider how obstacles to use can be redesigned.  It's also a small reminder that we are making progress.

Saturday, September 7, 2013



I heard someone today describe vinyl records - what is/was called LP's - as cultural icons.   The feel, the texture, the weight in your hands of this form of recorded music.   Afficionados say that there is a richness and purity in the sound that comes from vinyl records that isn't duplicated with digital music.  Some old LP's (long playing records) are worth a lot of money today.   It can't be disputed that some album covers were works of art.   Considerable effort was put into both front and back covers of albums that has not been duplicated on the smaller CD cases.   Of course, many people go directly to digital through vehicles like iTunes.

Some people feel the same way about physical books.  It's the smell, the heft, the non-battery requirement that appeals in addition to the ability to read them in the bathtub with less financial risk for butterfingers.  You can magnanimously share your hardcover or paperback books with friends and have an interesting discussion as to the merits of the novel.  When all interested parties have had the opportunity to borrow the book, and assuming you don't plan to re-read it in the future, there is still the possibility of re-selling the book to a second hand bookstore or even on-line and maybe recoup as much as half of the cost.

On the other hand, e-books are almost always cheaper than paperback books and certainly less expensive than hardcover ones.  (I'm not going to bring up the free books as I've discussed that topic on previous posts.)  You might well be able to purchase five or more e-books for the cost of one hardcover bestselling novel by a traditional publisher.  For example, Si-cology 1:  Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty's Favourite Uncle will shortly be released for $13.49 in hardcover. Doctor Sleep:  A Novel by Stephen King  will be released for $17.55.

Although it can't be just about cost it might help to remember that a two hour 3-D movie will likely cost you more than either of the vinyl record, the CD, the digital album, the e-book, softcover or the hardcover book.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013



For some readers, one of the key factors in enjoyment of a novel is if they find something or someone they can identify and relate, at least to some extent.   Do some aspects of the main character or one of the principal characters remind you of yourself?   Or perhaps of the self you would like to be.  It may depend on the genre.   If you like to read true crime or horror, you probably wish to be neither the perpetrator nor the victim.

With mystery novels, some readers like to be an assistant, so to speak, to the amateur detective, working alongside him or her, trying to piece the clues together.    There are websites that list the cozy type of mystery according to the occupation or hobby of the main character--when she is not detecting, that is.   Here's a partial list from one cozy mystery blog:

Something for (almost) everyone!