Friday, July 17, 2009

When Opportunity Knocks---Be Prepared

Sometimes you get a surprise. On a lark I sent a poem (this one is a rhyme) to Boy Life magazine. Although it didn't quite fit the needs for the magazine, the editor offered that they were hoping to put it in a Scouting blog in what is known as the Cracker Barrel.

Let's face it, he had me over a barrel so how could I refuse. Knowing the Cracker Barrel is used as a source of useful information, helpful hints for Scouting activities and generally to give Scouts and Scouters a chuckle, I am a fan. So, I was glad my rhyme about taking a weekend Wilderness First Aid course would in some way contribute to the greater good. Besides another credit is one more cobblestone on the road to writer heaven.

Here's the URL that will take you to the Scouting blog if you wish to check it out. On the Trail to Eagle, it's all good. .

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"No Bones About It"

This post may be a short one today. Mostly I wanted to share---yes, that's the right word. For I don't want to appear unseemly or unduly excited. The final proofed, edited and approved version of my picture book, "No Bones About It" has been sent to the printer. Yes, I know its official publication is still a few weeks away. But I must say, it feels pretty good to see it come this far. Are you kidding me? This is way too cool!

The book is the first of a series of anatomical rhymes designed to help kids learn about the human body. The series, which is called THE SUM OF OUR PARTS, will eventually cover several anatomical systems including the skeleton, muscles, skin, circulation, respiration and many others. The entire collection will be "kid-friendly" with just the right balance of technical content, humorous verses and anatomical factoids, brought to life through the playful illustrations of artist Eugene Ruble.

When "No Bones About It" finally hits the street, look for a press release on this blog and my website announcing the book's publication and launch. In the meantime, readers are most welcome to visit my website for more information about "Bones" and any of the rest of the series. Just look for the link to the THE SUM OF OUR PARTS on the right side of the website's main page.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Happiness Is A Book Cover

In the midst of being buried in the administrivia of book promotion, sometimes it's easy to forget how we got here in the first place---what it felt like to see the very first cover for that book that took years to finish, submit, revise, finish again and again and again and finally get accepted. So, for today, I'm remembering that moment and a few others like it when other book covers popped out or poems and articles got published or a manuscript finished second in a small writing contest.

In a way, I suppose it's a little like being in a runner's slump and getting an unexpected and very welcom burst of encouragement. It could come from a short but really good run or even from just seeing photos of an ultra-marathon that you have long had on your bucket list but have temporarily lost the vision....

So, here's to those moments and the memories of them that keep us putting one foot in front of the other or tapping at the keyboard or scribbling on small notepads in the dark at 3:00 a.m. when a fresh and very perishable idea pops into our drowsy semi-consciousness.

Some days a little boost is all it takes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hey! I'm Over Here...!

Some days, don't you wonder where everyone is out there? I'm mean, shouldn't there be some evidence left behind when someone has actually dropped by Ye Old Blogspot Blogging Post? They say Pinging one's blog is critical---can't do without it, you know. But what does all the pinging really do, anyway? What if I didn't ping?

I mean, can I really believe that all those pinged sites tagged as "Done" (as opposed to "Try Again Later") somehow alert the world that a new blog entry has just been filed? If so, why isn't anyone showing up---I mean besides the one or two folks who are willing to take the extra time and make the extra effort? Some days, don't you just want to yell, "Hey! I'm Over Here!"

Then, again, I suppose I ought to hold up the mirror about my own visitation routine. To visit a blog (and maybe even more a website), requires time that I don't often have. Even more telling, I need to remember to "make the rounds". After all, isn't it the memory thing that is most troublesome? Hats off to all those kind souls who both remember and act.

I'm imagining that all the blogs and websites and social network sites in the world are on some sort of giant community bulletin board in the sky, awaiting someone to notice our personal little sticky note or electronic version of a 3" X 5" card inviting any and all visitors. But when you get right down to it, how can we know where our ad has actually been posted on that large board or even how many layers deep we are after having been covered up with the sticky notes of millions of other visitor seekers?

Indeed, aren't we all to varying degrees inhabitants of small communities where everyone knows our name? Through some sort of magic---I think they call it branding---our identity may become known outside our own village and the foot traffic may increase as more and more visitors beat a path to our doors. Some say that process takes at least a year. I suppose some may be more precocious in a social networking sort of way and get a larger return much sooner---and others, not to name names, may hardly be noticeable at all. I guess it all boils down to effort. You got to get out there and make some noise.

OK. That settles it. Time to wrap this entry up and ping my blog. It may not be much but it's a start....

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Had A Moment In Church Today

I had a moment in church today. It was during the prelude as our organist played Ave Maria. The music was hauntingly beautiful. But what it made me think of was the masterful creativity that went into its composition, much less just the playing of it hundreds of years after it was written. It was awesome, as some might say these days.

That's when I got to thinking about my own level of creativity and what others might consider me good at doing---you know one of those moments when one might reflect on whether one's efforts might be deemed worthy. I mean, I play around on the guitar a little and I like to play with words, particularly words written in rhyme. But how does that stack up, really? Am I good at it or just mildly entertaining---a brief, perhaps clever or humorous diversion but not for so long that it becomes tiresome.

Sometimes, a series of carefully selected notes or chords or a painting or sculpture can do that; can challenge the very supposition that the things we do are a meaningful measure of a particular talent or skill or even knack.

Most days, I think I might settle for a knack---either one I, in fact, may have or one others simply think I have.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy....

I suppose there's got to be just the right balance between pathos and vanity---needing to be not just seen but recognized without having to make a scene just to be recognized.

Are writers any different? Especially in the early stages, how many times are we told to get a website up and running, start a blog (or two or three), hook up with as many social networs as possible, all to get name (nay, brand) recognition started. And then wait.... For supposedly nothing much happens for at least the first year---I mean besides the one or two or five daily visits to your website or blog. Getting more visits that? You may be on the verge of superstardom!

One year is supposedly the minimum necessary elapsed time for cyber maturation. Somehow, after about a year, the web crawlers have apparently crept over, under, around and through your cyber identity enough times to for your site to reach some measure of critical mass for the number of visits and visit frequency to start to pick up. At least that's the theory.

But while you are waiting, don't forget to update your website with interesting tidbits and keep your blog(s) current. And, whatever you do, the remember the three "Ss": socialize, socialize, socialize. Just think of all the blogs there are to read and comment on, networking pages to visit, connections to establish, mailing lists to build, quizzes to take, photos to send and causes to join.

Depending on what "generation" we may find outselves in (I'm talking cyber generations here), you may be doing all these things with technology that runs the gammut from a plain old ordinary computer with regular old ordinary Internet access, all the way to the fastest, most compact, app-intensive and interconnected hand held device on the market. Of course, the more technologically current one is, the more there is to do. Why, it's enough to leave one breathless from the doing or even just the thinking about it....

Now where is that story I was planning to work on today, anyway? Guess it may have to wait until tomorrow after all. Time for my weekly podcast....