Today it ends – Negative campaign ads

After two years of grueling campaining and attack ads, today Americans will have their final say on the most crutial election in US history. Like most Americans, I have my own views on who would better lead our country over the next two years, and I voted early so I wouldn’t be ‘in the midst of the stream’ of voters standing at the polls today. But there is something about which I would like to express my great disdain. I hate negative campaign ads, no matter which party presents them. I think they should be outlawed.

An election should be decided on issues and the abilities of the candidates, no matter which party they represent. There are no doubt teams of researchers digging up dirt on the candidates and watching their every move to find some ‘slip of the tongue’ over which they can be ‘nailed to the political wall’ of goof-ups. Let’s face it, we have all done things which we would not want ‘shouted from the housetops’ or broadcast via TV and Internet around the globe. Would any reader like their past or their every word examined ‘with a fine-tooth comb’? So when you vote today, contemplate the issues in each race. Who has the best path to a better America? Not just in the Presidential race, but the Senate and other offices which matter so much. Who will work, not only with those of his or her own party, but ‘reach accross the aisle’ to try to pass laws and resolve issues of dire concern to our troubled nation and world. When you’ve done this, you will be better prepared to aid in the process of electing our leaders. Nuff said.

Why do some books sell and others not?

If we all knew before we wrote and published a book if it would sell, we would know which themes to persue. The truth is, we don’t have a crystal ball that magically tells us these factors in advance. The fact is, this is determined by a variety of things.

First, as I have stated numerous times, no book sells itself. If a book is not on a topic that people are interested in reading, it won’t sell. If it is not well-promoted, it won’t sell. If it is not attractive or doesn’t appear interesting or informative, it won’t sell. It’s much easier to say what won’t sell than what will. Still, even the most seasoned writer sometimes has books that do not make it.  I have examined my better-selling books and they have some common denominators. It isn’t because I wrote them. The common threads are: they are well-written and researched; they are true; they are interesting, they are attractively presented and they are promoted.

Let’s take Conspiracy in the Town that Time Forgot, for instance. It was co-written by the person featured in it–Ron Cunningham. It was a true story which catches people’s attention and keeps them turning the pages. We still have book signings and sell a good number of them after almost three years.

Then there’s On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms. It has a catchy title, is humorously presented, is based on tons of research, and has a dynamite cover. Then it has been promoted online. It was the # 3 best selIing cliche origin dictionary in November and December last year on Amazon. I am still amazed at how many sell in both paperback and ebook format.

So in thinking about what books to write–or even read, consider these things.


In the early, early morning

I have for the most part been a morning person all my life. Being brought up on a farm where chores began at the crack of dawn gave me the notion that Ben Franklin was right: ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.’

Well, I know now that this is not necessarily true. Some people just aren’t ‘morning persons’ and getting up early won’t really make you any of those things. In order to be healthy a person has to apply common-sense rules of diet, exercise and avoid smoking and excessive drinking, not to mention ingesting drugs that are not prescribed by a physician for that person.

But one bit of good has come from my rising early. Once I’ve downed a couple of cups of steaming hot java I can relax and concentrate on the important activities of that day. Also when I was a young man I wrote songs, mostly for my own pleasure, and played rhythm guitar and what I felt was a mean harmonica. One ditty I composed was called In the Early Early Morning. It dredged up incidents in history which happened at daybreak and sang the virtues and advantages of being a morning person.

I appreciate the fact that lots of folks who aren’t like me are just as productive. But being a morning person has usually given me that serine gap of time when I could be alone with my thoughts. Have a great morning!


The more things change the more they stay the same

One of the tasks with which I am involved on a daily basis is the preparation of books for publication, either in printed form or as e-books. When working with classic litterature–those endearing yarns of the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries–I certainly realize the evolving of our language and the difference in common terms which have been lost in the marching onward of the years. That’s why it is intriquing to me to work with cliches, proverbs and idioms in determning their origins and how their meanings have altered with the turning of the pages of time.

But a saying that is certainly an axium is ‘The more things change the more they stay the same.’ The first time this proverbial phrase was brought to my attention was as the title of an article by a dear friend of mine several years back. I am currently formatting the charming Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain for release by our new eVolve e-book division. Though some of the phrases and expressions have gone the way of the dodo bird, the quaint charm and insights into human nature are timeless.


A Sense of Accomplishment

At the end of each day I mentally review the events of that day from a personal prospective and ask myself what I have accomplished that day. Have I done anything which will positively impact the lives of anyone else? Have I accomplished anything which will have a lasting effect for good? If the answer is ‘no,’ then I want to try to do something positive before retiring.

Not every day in my life or the lives of any single person are what we would wish they could be. Not every action I have taken is one that I now am proud of. Some days are filled with circumstances which we wish would never have arisen, but which we could not avoid. But how we react to those negative happenings determines whether or not we can look back on that day with pride or regret.

Remembering that I alone have control over my actions and destiny helps me to make more wise decisions rather than foolish ones and enables me to accomplish more with my time and talents. We all have the same number of hours in a day, and what we do with them are up to us. I trust that today will be a good day for everyone who stops long enough to read these words. Vaya con Dios.

Follow that Star

The unforgetable theme from “Man of Lamancha,” The Impossible Dream” aka The Quest, has haunting lyrics. The chorus rings out to youth everywhere who truly have dreams that they are not willing to lay aside for their “Day jobs.”

This is my Quest to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far,
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause!

Don Quixote was only a symbol of this resolve. Many real people in history have followed this path against the grain and the flow of society, and even lost their lives doing so.

I encourage the youth of today to stand up against injustice and prejudice and follow their dreams. My only caution would be that their dreams will lead to right and victory for truth and love.

Food promotes growth

It seems that Rhonda and I have had poor luck growning plants. I guess that is because we find ourselves so engrossed in our daily lives and matters that seem more urgent at the moment that we neglect the nourishment of the greenery about us. This spring Rhonda purchased a pot of three crisp young tomato plants and we have occasionally sprinkled them down when rains didn’t provide needed drinks of life-sustaining water. That, however, has not kept them from blanching and drooping. They now have five tender little fruit hanging around, but I realized that in order for them not to go the way of our past failed crops, I needed to provide them some fertilizer. We should have done it earlier, right? I have now given them their initial feeding of the brand-name growth hormones, and hopefully they will soon be out of danger.

It also occured to me that we are just like plants in the sense of needing proper sustenance. Not just in a physical aspect, but in a spiritual and emtional way as well. I hope this is on our minds as we plow into another week.


Connecting the dots

The metaphoric idiom, ‘connecting the dots’ is based on a process going back to the nineteenth century suggested by a professor at Yale to educate small children. The entirity of how this phrase evolved will be revealed in an upcoming dictionary.

Connecting the dots in our lives to make the most of our opportunities doesn’t happen by accident. We have to mentally prepare ourselves, believe in ourselves and make the most of every situation. Life ‘throws everyone curve balls.’ The next time this happens to you look up, not down.

Have a marvelous day!

The wisdom of ancient proverbs

A number of ancient proverbs have been mis-atributed to famous persons of our day.

One such saying is: Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

This bit of wisdom is a Maori Proverb from the aboriginal natives of New Zealand. Canadian politician Charlotte Whitton made it popular, thus many have attributed it to her.

The sun is the primary source of light, and represents positive energy. It means that when you are looking at the light, metaphorically speaking, negativity falls away from you.   

Staying positive will make a marked difference in anyone’s life. Proverbs of ancient civilizations can be an encouragement to each of us. Solomon, a king of Ancient Israel, is often called ‘the wisest man who ever lived.’ Many sayings written by him are recorded in a book called Proverbs in the Tanakh, also known as the Old Testament.  

Have a great day!