Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And The Book Launch Is Over...

This is what I looked at for almost 10 straight hours today...my computer screen set to one website. It was a long day...

We had our book launch from noon to just before 8pm today (MDT, and as I've found out, getting the hours right is crucial in such an event...). I got on the computer a couple hours early so I was prepared. Plus, I didn't really know what an internet book launch was like, anyway.

It didn't take long for me to figure out what was happening once the launch began. Our editor, Penny was the event's MC and she did an amazing job. Each 15 minutes or so Penny announced a new contest complete with Steampunk-themed prizes. It's tough to follow along hour after hour, let alone, be in charge of everything.

I was an active participant in the launch. I tried to create challenging, but solvable questions. And since my love of audiobooks is well known and documented, the prizes I gave out (free Audible.com audiobooks...) I thought were pretty cool.

When the last of us closed the net browser containing information about our finished launch, I was one tired published author (remember--you can still buy the book: HERE...). I can only imagine what it's like to be at an actual launch with friends, family, and curious people with money stopping by. Of course, that's the goal so one day, maybe I'll find out.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Launch Invite To Friends, Family, And Some I've Never Met...

Today I did something I've never done before--I invited all my Facebook friends to an event, an event that takes place tomorrow and I wanted to let everyone know about it.

Tomorrow, beginning at 1pm Central Daylight Time we're having a book launch and everyone's invited, not just my Facebook contacts. The link to the event is: HERE. There will be games and contests and even prizes given out. Since it's a nationwide (and even worldwide...) launch, there's no one place to go to share in the fun. You can enjoy the fun in your house or at work! How great is that?

It took my a while to click every name on Facebook to add them to the invite list. I'm not saying this to brag (meaning I have a lot of Facebook friends...). I have more than some and less than others, but there's no "Invite All" button  on Facebook. Clicking "Tab" then "Space" until all were chosen made my hands tired.

My Facebook friends list contain some of the people that mean the most to me in my life, family, friends. As I saw the names and faces on the list, there were so many memories of good times and important times in my life. There are also some people who I've never met in person--friends of friends, but people I wanted to know better.

I don't want to sound pushy, but if you get a chance, drop by and if you think it might be an interesting book that you'd enjoy reading, you can get the physical copy (I promise I'll sign it if you want...) or an e-book for a lot less money. Even if you don't stop by (because I get invited to many things, but don't end up attending...), it's okay. But if you do, I hope you won't regret it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Walk Around The Neighborhood...


I have a theory, or maybe it's an opinion and that is there are probably only two weeks in the spring and the same in the fall when the weather is perfect--not four months of perfect weather like some people think...only about four weeks, two in the spring and two in the fall.

I think we're in one of the perfect weeks right now. It was so nice outside tonight that my wife and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and I took along my camera to photograph it.

We saw flowers, 

And cats, 


And a piece of a tree fused into a power line. 

We looked up and down streets,

And tasteful curbside decor.

We got home just as the sun was setting below the lake--another beautiful end to a day that just happened to fall within one of those four beautiful weeks of weather, at least, where we live.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Talking In Church...


 A few weeks ago I was approached by one of the church leaders in our congregation. He asked if I wouldn't mind being part of the program for Sunday, April 30th, or in other words, to give a talk.

Now, if you're a member of our church and you get called to speak in front of a couple of hundreds of your neighbors and--in my case tomorrow--several strangers who have come to hear someone else on the program speak, you can turn it down. You can say no for any reason, the least of which is that you'll be expected to bring new insights in religious thought to these people, many of whom have decades more knowledge and wisdom in such issues than I do. You don't have to say, yes.

But I did and so for the past few days I've been preparing for tomorrow morning. I was told weeks ago that the amount of time I've been asked to speak will vary. I'm to be the last speaker so I will have anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to speak. It will be my job to make sure I finish my talk somewhere between 10am and 10:05am, MDT. I've read through my talk and I'm in the ballpark, but if I need to fill a full 20 minutes, that might get...a little dry.

In 12 hours from now, my speaking duties will be over, at least until at some time in the future I'm approached by another leader and he asks me a simple question, a question I don't have to answer with a Yes...

...but I probably will.

*Photo used without permission from: http://www.city-data.com/forum/christianity/752933-describe-your-church-building-3.html

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Launch For Mechanized Masterpieces Is Coming April 30!

Last December I saw the Facebook post--a call for submissions for a Steampunk anthology. I thought, 'It'd be SO cool to be part of that!'

I wrote a story, submitted it and it was selected. I kind of geeked out. Working with the ever-patient Penny at Xchyler Publishing (the publisher's website can be found: HERE), the story was tweaked and twanged and re-written until it became part of a book, an actual published book.

Today my wife looked up on Amazon and there it was. I kind of geeked out again.

Next Tuesday, April 30, 2013 is the official launch for our project. More details will be forthcoming. It's such a weird feeling to go through this process...weird and FANTASTIC!

So, stay tuned (not sure if that applies to anything but a television broadcast...) and find out more. See you then!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Thrill Of Victory, And, Well...You Know

They lined up atop the ramp, six abreast, the owners/builders/helpers of builders watched, their excitement at a fevered pitch. Scores of supporters lined the track. 


The red numbers of the timer mesmerized both child and adult alike. 


The announcer prepared the crowd and started the countdown.





The guard fell, gravity took over and the combination of plastic wheels, nails as axles, carved pinewood and numerous items used as weights rumbled down the wooden incline plane and the place went nuts. The derby had begun.

Initially, the results didn't look good for my son's car. As the heat continued, things didn't improve. There were some tough times--some growing times. Cars raced and life lessons were learned. 


It took a while, but the harshness of life was replaced with the comaraderie of the other non-winners that only those not having a car placed upon the podium can understand. 


We left the church with a car, a participation trophy and a lot of photographic evidence of the event. Pinewood Derby 2013...ah, the good--and not so good--times.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday To Our Darling Daughter!

Thirteen years ago today we welcomed into our family (or welcomed back into our family, depending how you look at things...) our daughter. We thought maybe she would have a sister to join her at a later date, but it wasn't meant to be.


So, she is our one and only daughter and like all of our children, I can't imagine life without her.

Happy birthday beautiful! We loved you the day you arrived. We have loved you each day you've been with us, and we'll love you forever.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Those Darn Acrylic Grapes...

Just over two years ago, about three months after I began this daily blog, I wrote an innocent little post about some interesting things I found while milling around in my basement. I titled it Basement Treasures. The link to this post can be found: HERE.

There were a couple of interesting photos included in that post. I'm especially proud of the picture of me playing the accordion circa 1978, or the signed photo I have of Myron Floren, the famous accordion player from the Lawrence Welk show.

But nothing has brought more attention to that blog post than the instructions on how to make acrylic grapes. You see, if you grew up in my culture during the 1960's and 1970's, there's a good chance you had a set of homemade acrylic grapes displayed prominently in your living room.

In the decades since, the secret of making such an amazing work of art was lost. Hidden in my basement I found the recipe and I want to share it with the world. So I hope you can click on these pictures and print them off for yourself. The world could use more acrylic grapes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Neighbor, The Photographer...

My neighbor is a photographer. She's also a writer, a musician, a teacher, a mother and wife. She's one of those people who excels at many things. It was from her I bought my new camera. The main reason it was for sale is because she bought a new one...a big, shiny new camera.

She has a blog where she showcases her photos. I've included some of what I feel are great shots on this blog, though in my opinion, her best work is photographing people. I haven't asked her permission to use any of these pictures and I didn't want to include the pictures she's taken of her family. Some people are leery (and justifiably so...) about having pictures of loved ones out there on the web. I hope it's okay I've included these pictures.

I had looked at her work before and I've always been impressed. She's got a real talent to see and capture a great photo. With the advent of digital photography and computer manipulation of pictures, it seems anyone with a camera and a computer can call themselves a photographer. Of course, they are photographers, but some are better than others--such is life.

Back when I was in high school I dabbled in photography. I even considered it as a career, but things turned out differently. I do take and post pictures now, and I know that most of my pictures are not the best, or the most artistic. I like the ones I choose to post for different reasons--mostly, they remind me of the day I had and hope to have the pictures trigger memories for me in the future.

Since there was a time when I wanted to be a professional photographer, I just assume everyone who takes the art form seriously has always wanted to be a photographer. I just found out that my photographer neighbor only got seriously interested in the craft when she bought the camera I have now about five years ago. This, to me, was very impressive. She's come a long way--I think--in a short period of time, to the point that she's considering turning pro and making money from her "hobby." And I don't think it's just so she can buy new photography gear (though, I'm sure, that has a lot to do with it...).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Who He Is...A Short Story

The Weekly Writing Prompt

Those in charge of the prompt wondered if they should take a week off due to the horrible events of the past week. They then saw this picture. They changed their minds--I'm glad they did.

The rules for the writing prompt are as follows:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until Tuesday to link up your post. 
4) Link up with your blog hostess (Nicole, CarrieTena or Leanne) when you’re done add the link to your blog post at the inLinkz linky on their sites.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

This Week's Required Words:
Who He Is

The crowd gathers but doesn't see him...a ghost among living souls. He carries memories of family, friends, and hometowns in every step on every road and trail in the nation. He walks alone as he watches people laughing, crying, eating, living. He is a shield.

He continues onward, through winter storms and summer heat. His resolve never waivers as millions rely on him. His nameless face passes a school, a synagog, a hospital, a quarry. Those learning, praying, taking vitamins, working never know he's there silently protecting against threat to home and family. He is a protector.

He stands with legions; he stands alone. He remains as long as he's needed, as long as he's appreciated, as long as those in whom it is his duty to serve acknowledge his presence and respect his calling. He is a soldier.

Work Count: 142

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our Family's Last Pinewood Derby...

Years ago I saw a movie review from the recently diseased Roger Ebert of the film, Down And Derby. I remember Mr. Ebert didn't quite understand how grown men could get so obsessed over a child's contest. I saw the show and I understood the concept completely...because I live where it is almost as big a deal as was depicted in the film.

Today my son and I built his pinewood derby car. Since My other two sons had their pinewood derby experiences long before I began this daily blog, this will be my one and only time to comment on this "right of passage" performed by almost every boy, not only in our town, but our entire state.

I asked my son what he wanted his car to look like. He brought me four Hot Wheels cars. "They're pretty simple," my eight-year old said to me last night. "Yeah, they are..." I replied.

Since the derby is next Tuesday, we basically had one day--today--to build it and paint it. I drew a simple design on the side and received approval from the project team leader. Since power tools were required for the next step, I completed that task alone. 

Both my son and I sanded the car and painted it. We next hammered in the wheels and gave it a number. It now sits in our living room, waiting for its turn on The Ramp, which takes place in three days. 

I've helped build three cars over the past 10 years and they all pretty much look the same. I know that each boy loved their cars. The first two cars were competitive, but didn't win the grand prize and the boys were okay with that. I'm hoping for a perfect 3 for 3. My mom and my uncle helped me build my car almost 40 years ago. I hope if my boys are lucky enough to have the same chance to help build their own son's cars, they'll have as much fun doing it as I have.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Working, Over, Time...

A few weeks ago our project leader asked, "So, it looks like we're going to be needing to work overtime. Anyone have any problem with overtime?"

Of course, no one did. I was working four 10-hour shifts, Monday through Thursday. Having Fridays off was fantastic. I used to work five 8-hour shifts--did it for years. If I still worked five days a week, working a few extra hours a day wouldn't be that bad.

So now, I'm doing both, working extra hours and coming in on what was once my day off. Since I'm not a salaried employee, overtime translates to a larger paycheck. I'm NOT complaining about that.

In the same meeting where we were asked if we could commit to working more, we were also told this overtime thing might go on for a while...like for the next year and a half. Am I going to be able to put in all those hours for all that time? Time will tell...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This Is Steve...

This is Steve. Steve is my friend.

I met Steve at work about five years ago, give or take. We worked on the same floor until I transferred to another building in another city. Was my decision to transfer based on the fact that Steve and I worked on the same floor? I'm not saying...

Fast forward five years. We're both older and supposedly wiser. We both have access to iPhones with the ability to send I/M's complete with photos and videos. Over the past few months, he's sent me a couple of strange pictures.

Him giving a "thumbs up" to a K...

A shot of the beach...

Samurai Jesus...

I'm not saying Steve is a little strange, but the picture of him lying under his desk in the fetal position? He says he took that yesterday when we had our earthquake drill and he was just following the instructions we were given for the drill. Personally, I think he took the picture last week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pictures Of People...

Today we had an earthquake drill, called "The Great Shake-Out." It's the second year our state has tried to get us citizens more prepared. I'm sure there are many good things that come from the exercise and it's worth the 1/2 interruption inflicted upon all of us.

This year, I brought my camera and snapped a couple of shots.

These are the people with whom I work. Though it was a cool day (temps in the low 40's...), the sun was out and provided excellent lighting for the subject, many of whom tried to evade me taking their picture.

Those who I asked to pose did, and that was fun.

And, just for the record, part of the disaster drill (after crawling under our desks and then filing out of the building a la a regular fire drill...) was to make at least two cellular phone calls to see if the cellular networks could handle the jump in regular calls had it been an actual emergency. Of course, had it been an actual earthquake like the one that's predicted to hit our area, there's be no cell service. The cell towers would all be down.

I thought the interruption would be a pain, but actually, it was a nice break in the morning. And I got the chance to take some pictures of people.