As a child of the 70s, one of the most interesting things to do was watch stunt men on TV doing death-defying stunts. They didn’t always go well. Probably why I was a nervous kid when it came to doing stupid things.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t do stupid things.
When I was really young, probably 4 or 5, I had a Big Wheel. If you know, you know. I would get going fast, pull the hand brake and slide to a stop. If I was feeling adventurous, I’d get going really fast and go over the speed bump in our apartment complex. Jumps weren’t high enough to do anything.
When we moved from the cities (that’s what you called Minneapolis/St Paul when you lived in Minnesota) up to McGregor, I got a bike. Took me a long time to get my training wheels off. I was never very coordinated or agile or smart. I was pretty much a scardey-cat kid who avoid pain as much as I could.
That didn’t stop me, once the training wheels were off, from riding down the dirt roads and jumping through all the little pot holes in the road.
Growing up, there were two kids that lived nearby, Dan and Jodi. I had an older brother and an even older step-brother (Jon and Doug), Jodi had an older brother and Dan also had an older brother. There were sisters for both Dan and Jodi, but we’re not talking about them in this story.
The other brothers decided to take a 2×8 we’d found and put a cinder block under one side. We each took turns going over our makeshift jump. Many times the board would slip and many crashes happened.
One time we took a sheet of plywood and two cinder blocks and put a ramp at the end of a dock where we’d go swimming in Big Sandy Lake. I was the most nervous about this. So, unlike the other kids who jumped their bikes into the lake at full speed, I went a little slower. The front tire went over the end of the ramp and I flipped over the bike into the lake.
Yeah, not very graceful.
We had a surprise ramp appear one day on a trail we would sled down. A tree had fallen across a path during the fall and gotten covered over with snow. We’d go down the hill and SURPRISE! End up in the trees, flipped over, or, if lucky, jump and keep going.
That leads us to the last ramp I remember from those days.
Dan lived at the top of a hill with a road that went down to the lake. After a turn to the left, and a turn to the right, you’d be at a boat launch. During the winter, this was where snowmobiles would ride out onto the lake. All of us were paid in hot dish (yeah, that’s MN food) to shovel the road because the snow plow wouldn’t go down there. We piled the excess snow on the sides of the road and the older kids had a bright idea.
We made a curved bank on the left turn.
We made a curved bank on the right turn.
A three-foot ramp was made at the bottom, because we had a LOT of snow.
Then, we took turns heading down the course. Well, all of them did. I was the youngest and the scaredest. I wasn’t about to go down that alone.
My step-brother, Doug, said he’d let me ride in front of the sled and he’d hold onto me. Well, if he’d keep me safe, why not, right? I pulled my hat down over my face and got in.
The “sled” in question one one of those roll-up plastic sheets with handles on the front. We took the left turn, I nearly fell off the sled, but Doug held me on. We took the right turn. With my hat pulled down over my face, I had no idea how fast we were going, but I knew it was fast because I could feel every little bump on the road.
We hit the jump.
I had that moment of weightlessness that felt like it lasted forever. I could hear all the boys screaming and cheering. I knew some of them had made big jumps, but no idea how far I was going or how high in the air I was. Thankfully I was well-padded from all my snow gear and there was about two-feet of snow on the frozen lake. I landed softly.
I jumped up and turned around. Now, I was much smaller back then, but I looked back and I was quite a ways away from the ramp. And the sled. And my step brother. The sled had stopped on the ramp. Doug went about two feet and landed on his face. Me? I shot off the ramp like a rocket and kept going across the inlet and nearly made it to the other side. Again, I’ve no idea the distance, but I went much further than any of the others had gone by themselves.
Yeah, I still don’t like ramps or jumps.
Until Next Time!
I graduated high school in 1987. In August of that year, I joined the Navy. I spent a couple of months in Boot Camp in Orlando before heading off to me ‘A’ school in Pensacola, FL. At the time, the Navy needed people to go into my rate. Because of that, there was an incentive to sign up. I was what they called a “push button” 3rd. Meaning once I completed my ‘A’ school, I was awarded the rank of E4, a 3rd class petty officer. I was proud of that accomplishment.
I wasn’t, however, excited about the fact I was about to go on a Navy vessel. I was terrified of open water.
So, Jay, why did you join the Navy? Isn’t that kind of what they do?
I’ll cover that another time, it’s not important to this story.
Upon completion of my ‘A’ school, my either class, and the class behind us, were told there were now too many 3rd classmen of my rate. Therefore, the fleet didn’t need us at that time. Instead, we were all to be sent to security guard duty and we would be relieving the Marines that were currently doing security guard duty on Naval Weapons Stations.
Whew. No ship for me!
Some of my classmates and I climbed into a giant car, six of us if I recall, and we drove from Pensacola to Pittsburgh, PA. One of the guys was from there and wanted to stop off and live it up before we reported for duty in Lakehurst, NJ where our Security Guard School was going to be. I’ll tell a story about PA another time. Yeah, everything was a story in the Navy.
The lot of us spent a month in Lakehurst. Now, being 18, I knew very little about Jersey let alone Lakehurst. I didn’t know the history. I knew nothing about the place. I was young, dumb, and ….
Every day we’d walk from the barracks across the large field in front of two massive hangars. Inside of one of the hangars was an entire flight deck of an aircraft carrier. When I say massive hangars, I mean wow were they big. It’s difficult to describe their size or how small you’d feel walking past them.
The field was mostly concrete with patches of overgrowth all over. One day while crossing the field, I tripped on something. I had no idea what it was. Being early as we always were, I took the time to rip up the grass over what I’d tripped on. Color me surprised when I uncovered a plaque.
Now, if you look at the plaque online, you’ll see something very different than what I experienced. The plaque had been placed in the spot where the Hindenburg went down 51 years before. The plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary. I don’t know why it was overgrown or why it was allowed to become overgrown. All I know is what I tripped over.
When you look at pictures of the plaque online, you’ll now see it surrounded with anchor chain and a long stretch of concrete and lots of nice landscaping. Back when I tripped over it, that wasn’t the case.
That’s how I found the plaque.
Until next Time!
Hey Howdy Hey Gang! This will be a short post. The video is also short cuz I’m a dummy and the camera died on me. <sigh> Were I a smart YouTuber, I’d have just swapped out the battery, but didn’t have it handy. Next time.
Let’s start with MONEY! Yes, I’m selling books to make money. That’s sort of the entire goal here. Bear in mind I’m doing almost no promotion other than my newsletter and a blog post that I share on all the social medias. The fact I’m selling anything at all amazes me. I won’t lie.
So, I’m happy with last month. I won’t be buying a new car any time soon, but I made $12.75 for the month of June. Given that I made only $3 in May, I’ll take that as a win. As I said, I’m not a rock star supermodel author with six figure book deals. I’m starting over from failing the last time I tried to get things going. I need to rebuild my brand from the ground up and regain the trust of readers I’ve lost over the years. This isn’t going happen over night. I need to keep repeating that more for myself than anyone else. The fact I sold 3 copies of my latest book and a couple of copies of back titles means I’m doing as well as I can.
Yes, there’s a lot more I’d love to see happen, but for right now at this moment in time, I’m writing books, and publishing on a schedule. Nothing more, nothing less. Once I get deeper into each series, say, with 3 books in each series, THEN I’ll start doing a lot more because those 4th books will blow people’s socks off and I’ll be crazy excited to get them out there.
One thing I’ve been thinking about doing and I should have thought about this sooner, is put the first chapter of the next book to read in the series in each book. Because I’m a dummy, I didn’t think about that until I was recording today’s video and then the camera died. <grumble>
At any rate, if you’re curious about the numbers, check out today’s video. If you were following along with my ‘story’ idea from yesterday, that will be starting on Monday! I will reserve Friday for getting folks caught up on what I’m doing on my writing. I think that’ll be a good point to do it.
I’m off to make words happen that I didn’t make happen this week.
Until Next Time!
October 21, 2020 I hit record for the first time and did the very first episode of 5 a Day With Jay. I do think I’ve done more than 150 episodes, but for the sake of numbering, this is the 150th. I took a moment in today’s video to think about lessons learned along the way.
- Don’t wait.
If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready. When it comes to creative endeavors, the longer you drag your feet, the less likely you are to get started. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never get any better. Take a look at Beeple Crap’s feed on Instagram. Sure, he’s putting out some neat stuff. For him, it started out as a hobby and every day he worked at his craft, he got better. Not everything he does is ground breaking or amazing, but he’s putting out something every single day. He’s been at it for years. If he’d waited until he had the exact software he needed and the right tablet or mouse to draw with or..or..or…you can see how it goes. Don’t wait to start. Use what’s handy and get going. You will get better along the way.
2. Learn what you’re doing along the way.
Had I continued to watch videos and tutorials on how to create a youtube channel and created videos, and do title cards, I would have been in a learning black hole. I would have never started. This ties in with #1. But there is a time to learn and you should make time to learn. Along the way, I’ve watched more “behind the scenes” about video creation. That’s why I decided to start going live instead of recording. It’s sped up the process for me and freed up a LOT of time to write this blog and write books. I’ve also started doing learned courses about writing, and reading books about writing and social media. Learning is as big of a key as getting going, but you can’t use it as a crutch not to start.
3. Time management is important.
As I said in #2, you need to also learn how to do things faster. With doing the videos, going live sames me a ton of time. With writing, typing faster saves me time. Keeping notes on both ends helps me better focus my attention on what I’m doing even if I don’t always reference those notes. I’m not a professional. I need help getting started some days, and making sure I have the time to do what I want to do helps. To accomplish my goals, I’ve had to cut back. I’ve started unsubscribing from a number of YouTube channels that I regularly skip content on (feel free to skip my videos if you get nothing from them). I’ve cut back on the blogs I’m reading. I’ve cut WAY back on the amount of news I consume across all media. I’ve increased educational videos both on video creating and writing. I’ve increased the amount of time I’m reading. But I’ve also freed up a LOT more time for getting my publishing career going in the direction I want.
4. Planning is important.
This ties in with #3. I know I need to get on a schedule with my video production as that’ll let people know what time to expect me. I’m thinking about shooting for 6pm PST. It’s not too late on the East Coast, and early enough for me that I can get to writing as soon as I’m done. Beyond videos, I needed to plan my book release schedule. What books I’m going to write next. When they’re going to come out. Scheduling the release of those books so they’re ready to go and I don’t need to think about their release. I want as much of this process on auto-pilot as I can make it. I’m a developer and that means I’m lazy and will come up with a program or process to make my life easier. It’s how I work. Having a plan allows me to keep content flowing without having to put too much thought into the process. This frees up my mine to work on other things.
5. My Videos and Blogs don’t always match.
If you only read the blogs, or only watch the videos, you’re missing half the picture I’m getting out. It’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to do both. I’m doing different content for different audiences. There’s only so much time in the day and I don’t want to be someone’s crutch preventing them from getting to their creative endeavor. Explore what you like, ignore what you don’t. I never had an expectation that anything I record or write would get viewed or read. This is why I do more free-form on the videos, and try TRY to have a little more format on the blogs. I don’t always succeed.
6. Slow, steady progress is good.
I knew that nothing I was doing would take off like a rocket. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not a megastar. I’m not famous. I was barely a blip on the podcasting scene. I made many good friends along the way and enjoyed my time doing that. There is zero expectation that those friends will watch my videos, read my blog or buy my books. Those kinds of expectations are deadly and dangerous. I had them before and they lead to disappointment. This time around, I’m going for slow growth and I’m happy with any sale.
7. Keep going.
Unlike all my other false starts, I don’t intend to stop what I’m doing. As long as I’m enjoying the stories I’m telling, I’ll keep telling those stories. It’s that simple. With my goals small and under my control, I won’t be stopping any time soon. I want to have fun. I want to tell stories. That’s it. That’s my current goal. Yes, I’d love to sell books, but that’s for Tomorrow Jay to deal with, not Today Jay.
8. Look forward, not back.
I don’t want to revisit what I’ve done in the past any more. I’ve analyzed those failures and I’m moving on. They’re in the past, they’re done, there’s nothing I can do about them other than move on and do better. A book failed, write another one. A book has a plot hole? It was the best I could do at the time. I get a 1-star review. I can’t make everyone happy with every book I write. The future it out there waiting to be had. I’m going to reach out and grab it.
This blog will be my 137th consecutive blog post since I decided to start blogging every day. Today’s video my 150th 5 a Day With Jay. Some numbers I didn’t cover in my By The Numbers episode were video views and blog hits. I’ll make a point to get to those come the end of June.
Also of note, I will be gone a majority of next week, the week after that, and probably the week after that. it is, after all, Summer and there’s vacations to be had. I will continue to blog daily, even if it’s only a picture or two. 5 a Day With Jay will resume with regularity in the 1st week of July.
I’m off to make some words happen.
Until Next Time!
My expectation for the first month getting back to publishing after quite some time away was to sell exactly zero copies of anything. I fully expected my social media presence to also be stagnant. I’ve been away for a long time and haven’t put anything out for readers. Why, I thought, would anyone show up?
I read Dean’s blog post this week about not worrying about the numbers and just having fun. That’s a luxury I don’t have because I don’t have a staff to watch the number for me. That doesn’t mean I let the numbers drive my decisions on what I’m writing next. What it means is that I’m keeping an eye on things to see where they’re going and little else (at this point).
That doesn’t mean the numbers are totally unimportant. It doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing in the future to help those numbers. What it means is that I’m keeping an eye on things and tracking for seeing how progress is going. I won’t be dwelling on these numbers as if my life depends on them. I don’t check as frequently as I did when I first started this journey. Are they important? To a degree, yes. As an indie publisher, I want to know what’s happening. As a writer, no. They’re unimportant as the whole goal of doing this is to have fun. If I make money along the way, even better.
So, here’s the numbers for April and May
Month April May
Twitter 1227 1219
Facebook (personal) 701 702
Instagram 314 314
LinkdIn 300 300
TikTok 177 208
Blog subscribers 104 114
Facebook (author page) 56 56
YouTube 40 41
Newsletter 31 32
Anchor 2 4
Tumblr 0 4
Goodreads X 164
Published Books 14 16
Published Shorts 0 2
Orphan 0/0 0/698
Villain 0/0 0/207
Haircut 0 3
1010 1101 for President 0 2
So, that might be a little confusing. Here’s the gist. Social Media saw small growth over the month. Nothing major, just small growth. I expected stagnant growth, we had some growth (except Twitter). I didn’t track Goodread numbers from April, but I think I had one new “friend” on Goodreads. The fact that people started following me on Tumblr surprised me. I won’t lie about that. I’ve been posting there for YEARS and never had a single follower. Color me surprised.
As for sales, I know I’d said some time ago I was going to go wide. For reasons, right now, I’m staying narrow and we’ll revisit that discussion at a later time.
Again, 0 was the expectation. The first number is sales. Both Orphan and Villain, 0 sales both months. page reads, 698 for Orphan and 207 for Villain. This means at least 2 people read book 1 and one person read book 2. Hey! That’s a lot better than 0.
The two short stories, 3 for Haircut and 2 for 1010 for prez. Five short story sales.
Now, remember, expectation was 0. I’m nobody. I have a tiny following. The fact I sold anything at all amazes me. To no end! I’m delighted as can be. Any growth is the expectation. May was a good month for getting started.
For June, I’m doing nothing different. I’ll keep doing 5 a Day With Jay, and blogging daily. That’s it. I’ll make sure everything goes to all the different social media sites, but that’s all I’m doing at this point.
Speaking of announcements, GRPC2 is out in print!
I’m off to go make more words happen.
Until Next Time!