About My Book

Learn more about my first book, Six Pack: Emergence.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

KWA Anthology Short Story: No Pressure

Last week, I told you about the release of the Kansas Writers Association anthology, which you can still purchase through Lulu or download through Amazon (it's no longer a free download, but it's still a low price and you support KWA). Because I retain the rights to my work, I have made my submission available on my blog.

You can read it after the jump. Feel free to leave feedback if you wish. If you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the anthology and help support KWA. Thank you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Life Of A Writer Goes On

This is the time of year in which I'd like to get more things done with my planned novel series but other projects and activities pull me away.

School is underway here in Kingman, Kan., and with it comes the host of fall sports programs the student athletes play. Football, volleyball, golf, tennis and cross country -- it means I have five stories to write about Kingman athletics and two to three each for two other schools in our coverage area.

Consequently, that's where my writing duties are focused, meaning I haven't had as much time to sit down and focus on the second book in my planned series. I did complete the first draft of it back in July and am now into the second draft. I have written 31,090 words in the second draft, leaving me just shy of halfway done. With any luck, I can some more work done this (Sunday) afternoon, after having spent most of Saturday with other activities.

The good news, though, is that my first work of fiction has been published -- though it's not the first novel in my planned series. (Still waiting to hear back from publishers queried but fingers remain crossed.) It's a short story in the Kansas Writers Association anthology, Kansas Dreams. The Kansas-themed anthology features more than 20 authors who contributed short stories and poems.

The anthology is sold to raise funds for KWA and may be ordered through Lulu. However, the anthology is available as a free e-book download through Amazon until Aug. 24. If you do enjoy the collection, kindly consider buying a copy through Lulu -- it doesn't cost much and you'll be supporting the KWA.

In the meantime, I do plan to pull out a few examples of my writing from e-wrestling in the next week or so, as part of a discussion about what voice is all about. And I may talk about what inspired the short story I wrote for the anthology.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gawker Had Its Faults, But Don't Celebrate Its Demise

Not everyone was a fan of Gawker, but nobody should be celebrating its demise. And while I've previously written about the issues with how Gawker approached journalism, that by no means justifies the end of its existence.

Gawker's bankruptcy came on the heels of a successful lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan for publication of a sex tape. The Hogan lawsuit was bankrolled by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. Gawker outed Thiel as being gay. In the wake of Gawker's bankruptcy, Univision bought most of its sites and staff but did not purchase the Gawker name or archived content.

Gawker had more than its fair share of stories designed merely to draw eyeballs to its website and its "everything is fair game" approach to reporting stories raised plenty of questions and criticism.

As a journalist, I find it's important to ask myself whether or not something is newsworthy before publishing it. If Peter Thiel had been running a Ponzi scheme, it's not only newsworthy but it's a journalist's duty to report it. But is it really newsworthy to out Thiel as gay, even if it is true?

It's not illegal to report something that isn't newsworthy, nor can somebody sue an outlet for libel for reporting something that's not newsworthy if the item is true. (In order for a plaintiff to succeed with a libel claim, it must prove what was reported was known to be false and that actual malice took place in reporting.) But the mindset that anything that is true must be reported is what leads people to losing respect for media outlets, especially if they believe the media outlet only cares about how many people read the content, not whether it actually serves the public good.

But for all of Gawker's faults, its demise should still concern journalists and the general public. Gawker has had more than its fair share of strong reporting, reporting that was absolutely newsworthy. For example, Gawker was vigilant in obtaining information about Hillary Clinton using a private e-mail server for classified government material -- news that even the most ardent Gawker critic would have a hard time arguing shouldn't have been reported.

It's reporting like that which gets threatened when somebody like Thiel comes along and bankrolls a lawsuit for somebody like Hogan, even if Thiel and Hogan had legitimate claims that the stories Gawker reported about them were not newsworthy and, in the case of Hogan, the information Gawker reported was illegally passed on to the outlet. But even if Gawker engaged in questionable tactics, the outlet did not deserve, for practical purposes, to be sued out of existence.

Gawker's demise could have serious ramifications for what happens when another outlet considers reporting news about a wealthy individual. While responsible outlets should discuss news received and whether or not it benefits the reader to report it, the fact so many outlets are owned by corporations who may be leery of lawsuits might result in CEOs advising journalists who work for them not to report on anything that might get an outlet sued.

It would be easy to say that journalists need to carefully consider what should and shouldn't be reported. In fact, that was good advice for Gawker and what amounted to a "no holds barred" approach to reporting on whatever a public figure or official did or was like.

But there is as much to worry about when an outlet is essentially shut down by somebody who arguably held a grudge against the outlet -- even if some of his claims against the outlet are valid. Because you never know when the next person holding a grudge tries the same tactic, when that person may not have a valid claim at all.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

How Your Progress Can Motivate You

The other day, I got a lot of yard work done. I have a large lawn at the house I rent and there are several bushes surrounding the house.

Because the lawn is large, and I don't have a riding mower, I have to stop in between sections of mowing to take a breather and drink some water. When I do, I observe how much of the grass has been cut and how much is left. It reminds me that, while there is still plenty of work to finish, that I have already accomplished a lot. And though I sweat a lot and may sometimes get frustrated, looking at what I've done helps me remember to finish the task.

It's the same with the bushes and growth I've cleaned up along the sides of the house. I can only stuff so much trimmed shrubbery into the trash bin that gets rolled to the curb each week for pickup. Once again, I can see that there may be shrubbery that still needs trimming, I can observe how much I've already trimmed and the progress I've made. Though I have to wait a few days before I continue, I know that some work is out of the way and I'm that much closer to finishing the job.

Most tasks are not finished in the blink of an eye. They take time to complete, sometimes longer than we might want them to be. But the important thing is to examine how much you have completed, giving you that reminder that much has been done and that the rest will come with time.

I find it helps with writing to keep track of the words you have already written. Keeping a running tally of how much you have written each time you sit down can be a good incentive to getting the rest of the work done. You'll sometimes find yourself amazed about how much you have completed, which should motivate you to keep going until the work is complete.

You might not get to it in one day. Few novels are finished in a day. A short story, on the other hand, should be finished in a day, but sometimes you may want to take a break from that writing. Writing 10,000 words in one sitting isn't easy, just like mowing a large lawn in one sweep may not be easy unless you've got the right tool for the task. And for most of us, I suspect we aren't planning to write 10,000 words without stopping.

But regardless of how you approach your writing, remember that what you have accomplished is what's important. Knowing how far you've progressed with a work might be the incentive you need to finish the job. Before you know it, that job will be completed and you'll feel good about what you have accomplished.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Real Lessons Of The 1876 Presidential Election

The other day on Twitter, Jake Tapper shared a couple of tidbits about the 1876 Presidential election, namely about James B. Walker, who ran on the American National Party ticket (a third party) and Samuel J. Tilden, the Democrat nominee who won the popular vote but lost the election. 

Tapper was one of many people who wrote about the hotly-contested 2000 Presidential election, one that is still being debated to this day. But Tapper’s tweets prompted me to read up more on the 1876 Presidential election, in which Tilden won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Rutherford B. Hayes.

Before I begin, I don’t believe Tapper’s intention was to blame Tilden’s loss on the American National Party. But some people remain adamant that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 Presidential election, so those people could fall into the same argument for the 1876 election.

There is more to the 1876 election than that, though. But the bigger issues that impacted the 1876 election are still relevant today and, in fact, were exposed as much in the 2000 election. Those issues go back to this question: Who counts the votes?

So let’s examine some of the events leading up to the 1876 election, the election itself and what was happening “behind the scenes” when voters went to the polls, how votes were tallied and what led to a resolution that some might argue was an unconstitutional solution.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yes, John Oliver Is Right About Newspapers

John Oliver had a 19-minute segment about newspapers on his latest edition of Last Week Tonight. His segment was really his tribute to the work local newspapers have done, while recognizing that they are declining for a host of reasons.

His segment prompted a negative response from David Chavern, the president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, which in turn prompted remarks from journalists such as Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post, who pointed out that Chavern missed the point of Oliver's segment.

As somebody who has written for small-town newspapers for 20-plus years, I have observed changes in technology and approaches to news gathering and have had multiple ideas bounce through my head about what local newspapers can do to survive in a changing world. I know that technology is making this difficult. I know that print ad revenues have plummeted and online ad revenues haven't been enough to make up the difference.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016 Election: How To Convince The Undecided

I've written several times about the upcoming Presidential elections and why voters are really acting the way they are. This week, I figured I'd examine this in an unconventional way:

I am an American voter who is unaffiliated with any party (that wasn't always the case, but I'll get to that). I have written for newspapers for 20-plus years and have some insights into the world of journalism and what's going on with mainstream media. I follow writers and pundits of differing backgrounds who have strengths I admire, even if I don't always agree with them. And while I have made up my mind that I'm backing Gary Johnson in the 2016 Presidential election, that's not stopping me from paying attention to what else is happening in that or other upcoming election.

So I'm going to give you a little more insight into how you convince an undecided voter to back the candidate you back. I'm doing it in what might be called "interviewing myself." But I'm going to do my best to break down what voters like myself are thinking and how you might be able to sell some of those voters on the candidate you plan to vote for.

Let's begin!