Tag Archives: rant

Photo op -1

For those few awesome folks who have seen my other Photo op posts, I say thank you very much for your interest. I will also explain why this particular Photo op is named so peculiarly and why there’s no actual photo in it.

Anyone who knows me knows of my affinity for taking pictures of birds of prey, especially Bald Eagles. I have been fortunate enough to live close to where a few Bald Eagles are occasionally seen. I have been able to capture a few in photos, but the opportunities are few and far between. Most times my success or failure has hinged on having a camera with me and some spare time to go get the shot.

On this particular day, which we will call ‘yesterday’, I was driving through the area they are sometimes seen. I had mentioned to my wife a few minutes previously that I had forgotten to bring my camera, but we were in a hurry and I didn’t feel the need to go home and get it.

This was a decision I would soon regret.

As I drove, I noticed a deer carcass on the side of the road and two large birds ‘tending’ to it. My first assumption was that they were carrion, most likely turkey buzzards that also frequent the area in which I live. As I approached, I realized, much to my chagrin, that they were Bald Eagles and I was about to drive within ten feet of them.

My eyes grew wide with shock as I flashed back to my camera sitting on the table at home.

When I was about fifty feet away, one of the Eagles took off and flew directly in front of our van, which also would’ve provided me with an excellent close-up photo. It flew in front of us for around thirty yards, which would’ve been time to get plenty of great shots. As time slowed, each flap of its majestic wings became a torment to me. I couldn’t even enjoy the spectacle because of the enormous weight of disappointment. Then it suddenly veered off as if to say, ‘You had your chance, too bad you didn’t bring your camera’.

To say that I was greatly disappointed would be an understatement.

This ranks as the number one greatest picture I never took.

I have had several more instances that I may share as time goes on, but this one was still fresh in my mind.

In any case, happy new year. Wishing you all success in the coming year.

Mike.

Writer’s rant

Read the fine print.

I know as a writer that sometimes things can get a bit desperate. I know that sometimes it seems like I’ll never see my name in print. Fortunately, I love what I do. But I see many online sites that feed on the desperate. I’m not talking about the obvious shysters that are easily recognizable, I’m talking about those who look professional and even credible.

I just got done reading a submission guideline for a publication that offered a payment of $5-$20 for stories from 3,000 up to 20,000 words. That’s not great in itself, but they demanded that those unlucky authors sign away exclusive worldwide rights for two years!

$20 for two years! That’s not just insulting, it’s borderline criminal.

I don’t know how long other authors take to write their stories, but I don’t have a lot of time to work on them. With the available time I have it could take me a week to a month to create a 20,000 word story. And then I go into edit mode, followed by more edit mode, followed by sudden death edit mode, followed by ‘I suck as an author’ edit mode. Until I’m done, I’ve put dozens if not hundreds of man-hours into making my story the best it can be. Locking my work up for two years for the paltry sum of $20 just ain’t happening.

I realize this makes me look like a selfish SOB, but I have a terrible problem. I like to eat and so does my family. I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to get my name out there by submitting to markets that can’t or don’t pay, but that’s not the same as saying ‘I’m going to pay you a paltry sum just to make it legal to do whatever I want to with your story. ‘

If I placed an ad in the paper for someone to come dig ditches for me but told them I could only pay them $20 for two years of work and while working for me they couldn’t work for anyone else, I don’t imagine I’d get too many applicants.

Bottom line, always read the submission guidelines … always.

 

Is Twitter a dead end?

I was recently given a bit of advice by a successful author. She told me to follow the 80/20 ratio of posting on Twitter. Eighty percent of the time I should be focusing on others (liking, retweeting, commenting) and twenty percent on myself (posting about my book).

I tried this and it was immensely successful. I gained followers at a regular rate (around 100 per month) made connections, built trust with several of my followers, and generally enjoyed the increased visibility that I perceived I was receiving. However, after a month, I started to notice a disturbing trend. I was getting plenty of impressions, but very little actual interaction.

I logged this away as an anomaly and continued on my happy Twitter way. Shortly thereafter, I became more active on WordPress. Being an author who is trying to build his ‘Platform’, I posted each of my blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr, and Google+. My hope was that they would have a cumulative effect and increase my visibility. However, during all that time, I hung my hopes on Twitter. Having built a following of over 1,500, I felt that Twitter was the best chance of increased traffic to my blog and my site.

Then I read an article saying that Twitter was changing its algorithm, and traffic was going to become much harder to come by if you didn’t pay for Twitter ads. This was not something I had in my budget. Having to work a fifty hour a week job just to put food on the table makes Twitter ads a low priority.

I tried to go on with my Twitter life, but the seed of doubt had been planted. It was further watered when I read another blog post saying that twitter was less than useful, it actually took time away that could be used for other things.

I was now in full on doubt mode. I did a little research for myself and was shocked at what I found.

I started posting to WordPress in early June. During that time, I had 62 views, 48 visitors, and 34 likes. Each of my 14 blog posts, I had also posted to twitter, with a link to my WordPress blog.

During that same time, I had 16,000 impressions (views) total on Twitter. Of those 16,000, 1,729 were impressions that came from tweets of my blog posts. Here are the numbers.

Out of 1729 impressions, I received 5 retweets, 5 detail expands, 4 likes,

And a grand total of (drumroll please)

1 Link click

So, out of one thousand, seven hundred, and twenty-nine times tweets about my blog were seen, only one time was anyone interested enough to click over to WordPress and actually read the blog.

An entire month of posting for one click.

Was it worth it? For the numbers alone, no. However, I did make a few contacts, and even had a few people follow me who had over a hundred thousand followers. Several prominent authors followed me and a couple liked and retweeted my tweets.

Was that awesome? Yes. Will it help me out in some way? I don’t know. I would like to believe that making connections is always a good idea, especially with those who have already been successful.

Bottom line, is Twitter worth the time and effort I’ve been putting into it? I’d say a resounding no. Will I continue to have a presence and interact with my followers? Yes, but not nearly as much as over the last few months.

 

 

Judgement

I’m driving home from work the other day and need to stop at the local Mom&Pop store to pick up a few things. After procuring my supplies I get back in the car to finish the trip to my sanctuary that I call ‘home‘.

I stop at a red light, glance across the intersection, and see an older woman lower her car window. Her little dog (I think it was a Pomeranian or some other such tiny dog that looks like it was designed by a deranged toymaker) nearly jumps out of the window as the woman turns toward me.

My first thought is: What an idiot! She’s going to kill someone while trying to keep that dog from jumping out of the window.

I shake my head at the general insanity of some drivers, when suddenly she stops beside me, blocking the street. Not sure what to think, I hesitate.

Has this woman somehow read my mind and is stopping to give me a piece of hers?

Am I about to be the world’s first victim of a ninety year old carjacker?

I roll down my window.

She smiles and says, “You forgot your tea.”

How does she know anything about me? I’ve never seen this woman before. Is she some sort of weird psychic?

She points to the roof of my car.

I jump out and there on the roof sits a gallon of tea that I had bought a half a mile ago and set it on the roof to get my keys out.

Grabbing the tea, I smile and say, “Thank you,” then hop back into the car all before the light turns. She smiles back and drives away. The light turns green. I press the gas pedal and slink away like a dog with his tail between his legs.

Lessons learned:

Don’t judge by appearances.
Understanding goes a long way.
Not everyone in this world is an idiot.
Check the roof of your car before you drive away.
Every time you think someone’s an idiot, remember this story.

I’m going to go sit in my corner now.

 

 

Couch gag

I’ve decided that the human race is too stupid to survive. I didn’t come to this conclusion rashly, it took me a few minutes.

It started when I bought a couch from the Goodwill store. (Because that’s how glamourous a writer’s life is.) As I was driving home with my ‘new’ couch on the back of the truck, a car started tailgating me.

Of course, being the sensitive soul that I am, my first thought was, You idiot! If this couch slides off, you’re in a world of hurt.

He continued to follow closely as I mentally berated him and most of his ancestors. Finally, we came to a passing lane and my newfound friend flew around me like he was doing a victory lap at Daytona.

I resisted the urge to use hand signals and continued on my way home when another car tailgated me.

I had to assume that the inherent danger in this situation was not evident to these chowderheads. So I tried to ignore him as he passed me on a double yellow line.

By the time the third vehicle had pulled up behind me I had made my decision about humanity.

Oh, wait, this guy’s backing away. Maybe there’s hope for mankind yet. It figures this guy understands, he’s driving a pickup truck.