Postcard online? Who knew that was possible?

Me...with a online printed post card!When it comes to advertising, I’m not someone who really says anything unless I really like it. I stumbled upon something really interesting that I had to try. Did you know you can actually send a postcard online? I had no clue!

The first time I realized that you could do things online that was originally regulated to the waking world was pizza hut. I remember sitting in my dorm room when I was the military hungry but too lazy to go out. Randomly going through google to see what there was, I stumbled upon their online order page. I was shocked! You could actually just type in the pizza you wanted and they automatically delivered it? Was this some sort of magic? It actually worked!

Since then I have just been amazed with the things you can do and sending postcards online was one of them. I was looking about for novelty ways to announce my new novella Star Traveler: Atlas Gambit and stumbled upon MyPostcard.com. I tried and I actually loved the quality of the product that I got (as you can see from the pictures). Honestly, let me show you in a bit more detail:

As I explained in the video, this card was really impressive and felt like a high quality print you would get from a tourist site.

One thing that really tickled my fancy is that you don’t actually need to go to the website to place an order. You can download their app from either the Google Play Store or the Apple Store and do it right from your phone!

I mean, how snazzy to just take a picture and get it sent as a postcard online? I know, I know. I’m very excited for a card but for anyone that knows me, I’m not the type to recommend something unless I actually like it and I love knick knacks! Just ask my beautiful wife who has to swim through all my weird collectables I got while single. So, take a moment to look at the website and see if can help you create your own mementos!

Did you like the postcard? Do you have another advertising way for authors? Why not comment and let me know or subscribe to my newsletter to keep up with all the other fun, author things I find!

Picture of the Postcard

 

Struggles with My Wonderful ADHD Child

My Angel SimonADHD is not the sort of subject I write on. Actually, it does not have anything to do with writing but it’s on my heart. Honestly, I am only writing it to take my frustration and put it to paper, something that I have done for years to control my emotional health.

For those of you who know me well enough, you have heard me talk about my firstborn. My son Simon was diagnosed ADHD a while back. For the parents who have their own ADHD child, I know they can relate to the struggle and stress we go through.

My Thoughts on ADHD

At present, we are dealing with emotional control in Simon or the lack thereof. It has become so rough that we must look around for another daycare to take care of him due to both myself and my wife work.

It is just frustrating the amount of effort that we both pour into him with no visible change or improvement. We have followed many of the tips and advice from his myriad of counselors, the school district has been fantastic in hearing our concerns, and he still refuses to do what is needed and will lash out if he does not get his way.

I don’t expect a blog post to fix everything and I have no intention of giving up on him. It’s just hard for me as I share a lot of the same issues that he does and I get it out through writing.

Simon is a mirror copy of me in many ways, and it adds to the heartache of trying to raise him. He is a good boy at heart, and he wants to do what’s right, but when the emotions take over, he can’t control himself.

Wrapping Up

In short, it’s going to be a long day, but in the end, I believe it is worth it. He is a beautiful boy that I love more than anything in the world, and I know his heart is in the right place.

We just have to figure out how to find balance and how to teach him to understand and process his emotions. I can deal with the energy, the outbursts of anger and rage followed up by extreme joy are just so hard to keep up with.

He’s my boy, and I love him. That will never change no matter what. Thanks for reading.

Yes, Fan-fiction is Real Writing

I think one area of the writing world that gets a lot of flak is the fan fiction world. If you were like me (before my scolded me), I felt that Fan fiction was the dregs of the writing world. I not only found out that was unfair but rather cruel to the hard-working writers who live and thrive in that world. I’ll admit, I was one of those “writing snobs” until my beautiful wife put me in my place.

Fan Fiction is Real Writing

Writing is writing. I never thought fan fiction was more than self-gratification  until my wife began to tell me some of the stories that she had read. I could not believe how much detail and dedication that fan fiction writers have put in to their works. There was even a story that was over a million words! I’ve never broken fifty thousand, let alone a million.

There is a lot of dedication to the fan fiction world, more than maybe some of freelance writers have ever put in to our own work. Even though it’s not an original world, many of the stories bear the blood, sweat, and tears of a dedicated writer.

It’s No Different than a Professional or Aspiring Author

When in terms of dedication and being a writer, fan fiction writers are exactly the same as a professional or aspiring author. Many writers, including myself, got started in other people’s worlds and pour the same amount of dedication and heart in to their works. Many times they do not have the ability to get an editor or professionally proof read their works.

Independent publishing can suffer the same amount of editorial error and proof reading mistakes since a lot of us are in the same boat as a fan fiction writer. Unless we’re established with a decent fan base, many of us cannot afford hiring an editor.

They have feelings too

Fan fiction writers are people just like you and me and the horrible amount of critique I have seen from other authors is saddening. There are people behind the story no matter how bad or good it is. To attack a writer’s work is never acceptable. That is why critique is important and should be taken seriously. They deserve the same amount of feedback as we do.

Fan Fiction Writers are a strong knit community

And I am glad of that. My wife has given me a tour of the fan fiction world and they care for each other a lot. They have the advantage of not only having the bonds of being a creator of fan fiction, they also have the love for the world they are writing in.

So the next time you see a fan fiction story, why not give it a shot and if you find issues, give feedback like you would any writer of any story.

City Slicker VS Wheel bearing

What do a wheel bearing, car maintenance, and I have in common? An accident waiting to happen. Let me show you how a city slicker changes a wheel bearing.

For anyone that knows me, mechanically inclined is not how I would be described. Before joining the military, I did not know the difference between screwdrivers and how many different types of hammers there really were. I was a bookworm, and hands-on stuff was not my forte. I mean, I spent my life around books and computers. I could not only speak rough Klingon, but I could also write login scripts with my eyes closed. I mean, all that changed when I joined the military and in their infinite wisdom, saw all my computer experience and said, “This is so amazing, you’ve got such great computer and networking skills. Let’s put you in aircraft maintenance and see how those skills fair there.”

I wound up in a tech school of Egress Systems (ejection seats) with no clue what Philip’s head screwdriver was. I survived the nightmare there (barely) and made it to my base where I then spent six years perfecting my knowledge of ratchets, sockets, torque wrenches, and my favorite, the rubber mallet. (It’s great to threaten your junior airmen with).

For the past few months, my car’s left wheel bearing had been going bad, making a rough grinding noise that was deafening above fifty-five miles per hour. I could sense the tension in the axle and my gas mileage had become crap. I knew something had to be done, but I could not afford to take it to a garage. The last garage I took it to cost me three hundred and fifty dollars to replace them.

So, like the fool I am, I told myself, “I’ve seen it done, I can do this myself. I’ve got YouTube and my father in law if I hit a snag. Hell, I’ve even worked on F-15s!” Yeah, I did not hear the stupidity coming out of my brain.

It was a bright Sunday morning when I trudged outside with my brand new wheel bearing from Advanced Auto parts, my father in law’s tools, and optimistic hope that would have blinded the sun if it was not hidden behind the clouds. Taking my wheel jack out of the trunk, I began to manually heft my blue cirrus off the ground excited to rip that wheel off and switch out that wheel bearing. I would be done before breakfast. As I pulled the wheel off, that’s when I encountered the brake caliper.

So, it seems that in my excitement, I had completely forgotten that the wheel bearing was buried between the axle and the brake rotor. I stared at the dirty, taunting piece of equipment that I was not expecting, sure it was mocking me with its dirt and rust stained exterior.

Fumbling around with it, I made a choice (wisely) to pull out my phone, find some shade so I could see the screen (since the sun had come out to mock me) and spent fifteen minutes going through YouTube trying to find a caliper removal video that made sense. Once discovering that it was only two screws that held it in place, I grabbed my sockets, found the size and began to wrench that bugger off.

For the next five minutes, it was pretty smooth sailing. The clicking sound of the wrench set going, my son asking me “what is this?” for the millionth time, and the sun starting to make my back itch with sweat. Pulling off the caliper and the rotor was simple. There was a cotter pin holding on the nut, and that was going to be a cinch. Cotter pins are the lifeblood of egress techs, that and stringing together curses in colorful ways while trying to remove the parachute mortar from the frame.

‘I just need to remove this cotter pin gently, and I can re-use it.’ CRACK! ‘Okay, I’m going to need a new cotter pin. Where the hell do I buy cotter pins?’

I also realized that I did not have the socket big enough to remove the nut holding the wheel bearing in place. I had a 28mm, but it seemed to be a 32mm that was needed. Sending my little boy inside so I could swear audibly, I began to hammer at the nut trying different methods to get it to loosen. Pliers, plumbers wrench, me threatening to find a blow torch, I did everything. Finally, my father in law showed me mercy, and we hopped in his car and sped to Advanced Autoparts to use their rent a tool program. We were also able to successfully hunt down cotter pins at a local tractor repair store I did not know about.

By the time I got home with all my equipment, even a few extra tools I had thought I would need, it had taken me another hour to find a way to break the torque on the nut. It was supposed to be hand tight but was actually stupid tight to the point I had to stand on the long wrench handle and press my weight down to finally get the sucker to release.

Another thirty minutes fighting the 7/16th long bolts in the back (after discovering they were replaced by a different type of bolt and so the torque set I bought was a waste), I finally had the taunting wheel bearing in my hands.

In the end, it was late afternoon by the time I lowered the car back onto its re-attached wheel and had the pleasure to discover that the right-hand wheel bearing was also bad and needed to be replaced. My foray into home done car maintenance was enough to make me swear it off to never do it again.

And I was going to do it until the oil light came on and told me that I needed to get it changed. Staring at the car, sun gleaming brightly off of it, I had sighed and clicked on my phone. Oil changes were not hard were they? Actually, there are quite some different types of oils and filters and being overwhelmed, called it a day and went inside.

So, that’s it, my first in-depth car maintenance and it brought back all the reasons that I hated maintenance and tools including the busted knuckles and smashed fingers. Thank goodness there wasn’t safety wire. Would have probably bled out from all the cuts. For all of you who like doing your own car maintenance, with respect, you are frickin’ nuts.

 

 

Writing My Stories…One Step at a Time.

Lately, I have not really had much to say. Life has been pretty bumpy for me as I am moving positions in the company that I work for. It is only one point of stress that I have in my life presently, and so writing has taken a backseat.

It really sucks when you do not have the energy to do the thing that you love. While I am at work, I always come up with these fantastic ideas that would be great on paper but as soon as I get home, family life takes over. Once that is done, there is the choice of sleep or writing, and many times I have to choose sleep.

It irks me that I have to keep pushing back the release dates on the two novellas I want to release this year, and right now, I’m staring into oblivion trying to find the time to finish them. Am I just complaining for the sake of complaining? No.

The point I’m trying to get to in a roundabout way is that the only thing that keeps my hope up that the novellas will come out. To want the next story to be told is how much I love writing and that even when the ideas just sit and fester in my brain, there will be a time to get it out. I mean, just writing this blog post that in the most amiable term is a rambling accident still smoldering.

I love writing and if there is any takeaway to this, do not give up on your writing even when the times are at their worst. The best thing you can do is find a way to transfer your idea in tangible form. Sitting right next to me is an index card holder that has my anchor scenes and plot points for a new novel I want to write. It’s being done one card at a time, but the great part is that it’s being done.

You have any tips on how to get through these times? If you do, why not leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re thinking. We writers need to stick together, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Keep writing!

 

Exhaustion & Creativity: A Clash of the Titans

There are times where I sit at my computer and stare at the horrible blinking cursor wondering where all the great ideas that I just had decided to run off to. Every time I never have a real answer. For me, it is a struggle to balance my need to be creativity with the actual physical exhaustion and mental drain that my paying job puts on me. Having a family, long hours at work, and the simple fact that after a hard day at work, I just do not want to do anything.

I fondly remember the days when I first had my typewriter or in my teens with my very first computer. I could do school and then spend hours just writing out all the stories that came to my head. There was no care in the world for perfect grammar, trying to make the story make sense and I was full of creativity potential.

Adulthood has been the complete opposite. I have these bouts of creative wonder that I burn to their full extent with hours of typing on the computer, but then it feels like weeks of unending misery as the great thoughts and stories I had on the car ride evaporate as soon as I sit down at my machine.

I know that creativity is in there and I know that I have to battle my depression or find the energy to tell the story I want to, but there comes a time where I cannot win. Those days it has proven to be better to hang up my pen than force it.

I guess in the end, the thing that has been constant is my continued love of stories and my refusal to get up. This rambling blog post is simply my emotions being poured out on the paper to try and work through the thoughts and the feelings I have on this subject. In a way, I’m trying to emulate the kid I once was and enjoy the art of creating that sweating over all the details and worrying all about the red and blue lines Microsoft Word is spitting at me.

I love writing. I know that will never change and I will have a continued battle between my Titans. If this post does anything, I hope it lets any other author in the same situation know they are not alone. We all have our particular monsters we have to beat. Just don’t give up.

Dreaming of Dragons – Loving Our Writing

Last week I was driving to our local wal-mart with my 4-year old with me. We were having some daddy-son time by shopping for toys, getting groceries and getting his free pizza from Pizza Hut because of the reader program.

As I was driving, I glanced in the mirror and saw him staring out the window making facial expressions from epic to happy. I had the soundtrack of a Two Steps From Hell blaring and when I asked him what he was thinking about he answered, “Fighting dragons.”

I think as writers, we sometimes forget to stop and enjoy our stories. I know for me, I can get obsessive about my story, making sure that it is working, the grammar is correct, and that there isn’t an obvious error. The problem though is that I forget to stop and enjoy the story. If you aren’t, you’re missing a great part of the entire writing process.

We, as writers, have the power to create people, worlds, and adventures. We should take the time to enjoy the company of our characters and exploring the unknown with them. The time to worry about prose and grammar can come later.

I do not know about you but stories are something I cannot do without and I need to work on taking my time with them. I know that if I do, I can imbue it with more love and magic than I already am.

How about you? Do you enjoy your stories? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

I have some Questions about the Syrian Refugee Situation.

Politics. Boy, has this become much more of a mess and polarized than when I first started covering it so many years ago (like President George W. Bush’s first term. A LONG time ago.) In a way, it seems that our representatives in both the house and the senate, plus our legislative branch have begun a war of worlds about what “they” want than following, what I would assume, is common sense. I wanted to focus on the whole immigration question that seems to have been filling facebook and the rest of the Internet.

The war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS or ISIL, the L being for Levant.  Originally a splinter group from al Qaeda (Yearout, 2014) that has become a much larger, well-known organization including its recent attack on Paris. (Callimachi, 2015, para.1)

Why do I bring this up? Well, I want you to understand one of the reaons behind the United States not wanting to accept Syrian refugees coming in to the country (Kingsley, 2015) and that even though it seems cruel and unjustifiable, there is a solid reason behind it (even if you do not like it).

Though the majority of politicians are using this as a political campaign, which also does not help the present situation, there is a legitimate threat that ISIS and their members might be using the refugee move from the Syrian civil war to cross in to other nations. (Lester, 2015, para. 16)

Yes, the U.S. government has a very strong vetting process being put in to place (Altman, 2015), but how do you run background checks of citizens of a country when the FBI has stated that it would be near impossible to do a thorough one? (Poole, 2015, para. 1)

Even with all this, President Obama decides to berate those people with concerns (AP, 2015) and I wonder if both sides are just choosing sides to irritate the other? Why have we not focused on trying to find a better way to bring them in?

Another issue, why are we bringing in refugees when there are other islamic countries, closer to their beliefs? Saudia Arabia has a complete empty camp ready for refugees and they stand empty!(McHugh, 2015) Europe is already collapsing because they cannot handle the onslaught of those looking for safety (Kingsley, 2015) and these countries, who by the Qoran calls them brothers, will not help. (Abdel, 2004, p. 439)(Kinninmont, 2015, para. 4) I’m not saying that we should block them on their religious beliefs, but I know many people who are far more comfortable around those who believe the same way.

Let’s try to focus on the important parts, getting the true victims of this war in to our country and taking the necessary steps to protect us from those who would do us harm.

All my political posts have comments disabled because I refuse to allow trolls and others to start a political storm here just because they want to. If you want to discuss this, take the link and go to a forum that discusses politics. 

Works Cited

Abdel, H. M. “Common Kindnesses (Al-Maun).” The Qurʼan. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 439. Adobe PDF.

Altman, A. “Syrian Refugees: Here’s How the Screening Process Works.” N.p., 17 Nov. 2015. Web. <http://time.com/4116619/syrian-refugees-screening-process/?xid=fbshare>.

AP. “Obama berates GOP over Syrian refugees – CBS News.” N.p., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-berates-gop-over-syrian-refugees/>.

Callimachi, R. “ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks are First of the Storm – The New York Times.” N.p., 14 Nov. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/world/europe/isis-claims-responsibility-for-paris-attacks-calling-them-miracles.html>.

Kingsley, P. “10 truths about Europe’s migrant crisis | UK news | The Guardian.” N.p., 10 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/10/10-truths-about-europes-refugee-crisis>.

Kinninmont, J. “Why Aren’t Gulf Countries Taking in Syrian Refugees? | Newsweek.” N.p., 9 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.newsweek.com/why-arent-gulf-countries-taking-syrian-refugees-370189>.

Lester, D. “FBI: Impossible to Do Background Checks On All Syrian Refugees – SamePageNation.” N.p., 23 Oct. 2015. 
Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://samepagenation.com/2015/10/done-fbi-not-possible-background-checks-syrian-refugees/>.

McHugh, J. “Refugee Crisis 2015: Saudi Arabia Criticized For 100,000 Air Conditioned Tents Not In Use.” N.p., 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ibtimes.com/refugee-crisis-2015-saudi-arabia-criticized-100000-air-conditioned-tents-not-use-2095403>.

Poole, P. “Homeland Security, FBI Can’t Get Story Straight on Screening Syrian Refugees : U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert.” N.p., 28 Oct. 2015. Web. <http://gohmert.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398267>.

Yearout, K. “ISIS vs ISIL – what’s the difference?” N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/2014/09/10/isis-vs-isil-islamic-state-iraq-syria/15403133/>.

2014: Conceal Carry And Missouri

The successful override of Governor Jay Nixon’s veto for Bill 656 submitted by Senator Will Karus (D) has many gun owners and second amendment activists happy with the changes to the concealed carry laws that Missouri Senate Bill 656 enacts. It has been a long fought battle between both the Republicans and Democrats that has public opinion polarized.
Some of the biggest changes the bill enacts is that it authorizes volunteers in public school to become School Protection Officers.
“SB 656 actually strengthens accountability for guns in classrooms,” Sen. Will Kraus, the sponsor of the bill said in regards to the bill’s passing. “Current law allows school districts to waive a ban on concealed carry in schools for individuals, and at least one district has done so. Now, any teacher designated a School Protection Officer (SPO) will need to undergo 12 hours of training, and twelve additional hours annually. Each school district will decide whether to use SPOs or not.”
It also allows Missourians possessing a valid Concealed Carry permit to utilize open carry in any part of the state no matter the local ordinances.
SB656 also changes other aspects of the state’s firearms law, was also lowering the age for a permit from twenty-one to nineteen and forbids any law that would allow medical personnel to ask if there is a gun in the household and responding to any answer to that question.
            Though there is concern among some organizations at the thought of the state allowing teenagers to open carry firearms, many believe the problem to be more hyperbole than an actual issue. The state Senate and Congress overrode Governor Nixon felt the law took everything in to consideration as the House vote was one hundred and seventeen to thirty-nine and the Senate twenty-three to eight.
            “I think it is great that other states are doing what is right, which is to protect kids, rather than doing what is politically correct,” Rep. Rick Brattin (R) said in regards to the bill.
            “When you are going through that level of training, you shouldn’t be shooting yourself in the foot. We can’t legislate ‘what if’s in every scenario, but I look at it as [these teachers] are receiving the same level of firearms training as a police officer. How many police officers do you hear of shooting themselves in the foot?” Brattin also said in regards to the type of training the SPOs would be getting.
One of the largest concerns about the new law though is not the changes to the concealed carry permit itself, but to the School Protection Officer position. The law allowed the school to keep the identity of the person who is acting as the SPO from being released to the parents and some parents do not like the idea not knowing who will be the one armed in the school.
Melissa Brooks, a member of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action group, said in an interview, “Reasonable people have differing opinions when it comes to guns— but I think all Missourians can agree that as parents, we have the right to know if there is going to be a gun in our kid’s classrooms.”
In the end, the Missouri law is a step towards not only re-affirming the states belief in the second amendment, but also showing solidarity towards that goal by writing and passing legislation to support the constitutional amendment.
The last test of this law will be if anyone attempts to challenge the law through the Missouri courts, but so far there has been no indication of any such activity. If the law does face the courts and survives, it will show not only the dedication of the Missouri government in protection second amendment freedoms, but also give a precedence for other second amendment states to move ahead with their legislation.