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!
I think I finally know what I’m going to do with my YouTube channel. I got to thinking, as I tend to do. I’m an author. I’m a story teller. There are enough people who ramble daily about their daily writing grind and handing out writing advice. That’s not what I ever wanted this blog or the YouTube channel to be about.
What did I want it to be about?
That said, I’m going to start using this blog and my YouTube channel to start telling stories about me. From my childhood, high school, Navy Days, Band days, my family. Yes, I’ll still talk about my writing and where it’s going. Just not as the main content. I’m going to branch out from what I was doing and tell more stories. Honestly, I think that’ll be far more interesting than “I wrote 3000 words today.”
I think that’s what’s holding back my ability to grow my audience. I’m not putting enough of ME into the content. Sure, there are some who are hear to listen to me ramble about what I’m doing and where I’m going. I’m not forgetting about you. Honestly. I do plan on talking at length about my writing. Only once a week and not every single ding dong day.
My goal is to get back to 5 minutes a day. Short stories about things I’ve done, where I’ve gone, dreams I’ve had, stories I wanted to tell and didn’t and why. I’m going to do a better job of putting out shorter content so it’s not so much for one sitting. Seems everyone has ADD these days and I need to keep the content length down.
That said, I’m also going to resurrect Murdock Minute. I’ll get those up on YouTube and TikTok and YES it will be one minute reviews or less. I plan to keep my face out of the videos and put pictures up instead. I’ll still record audio for them, but I’ll be far more brief. I feel these will do better on TikTok than YouTube, but they’ll go in both places.
I’m going to keep this one short this evening. There is much to do and I need to get after it.
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!
I never claim to be perfect in anything that I do. Far from it. Do I think I’m a perfect writer? Oh, heavens no. Not by a long shot. Do I want to be a perfect writer? That’s not the right question.
To write a “perfect” story is to be one that is so generic, it’s lost all its personality. It’s washed clean and no longer has any personality.
That doesn’t mean riddled with typos and grammatical errors. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the writer’s voice. When I write, I’m protective of that voice and my creativity.
I’m not out to offend anyone with my writing. That’s not my goal. I’m also not trying to set anyone on edge. All I try to do, is tell a story I’m happy with, enjoy telling and am satisfied with. In the end, I really write for myself first. I don’t tell a perfect story mostly because I don’t want to read a perfect story.
I don’t like stories where everything works out perfectly for all involved. That’s not how life normally works. There are bumps, ups, downs, lurches, crashes. Things can get messy. Many of my favorite books have devastating outcomes. I’m not a happily-ever-after writer.
On top of that, I’m not perfect in the fact that I may be plugging away on a story, and forget a detail by the time I get to the end of the book. Yes, I’ll usually do a read through of the book once it’s done and try to clean up typos, but I will sometimes miss a small detail. I’ve had some of these pointed out to me before. Every time I’ve decided that it’s not critical to the plot and likely not something that most readers will get hung up on. If they do…guess what.
I’m happy they got hung up on that one little detail. Why? It’ll keep them thinking about my stories. I may not be the best writer you’ve ever heard of…but you have heard of me, right?
Don’t take that as “I hate my audience” or “I think they’re all stupid.” Heavens no. I love every reader. I don’t want someone to walk away from a book upset or unhappy. Let me give an example of what I’m talking about.
In Golden West book 1, one character gives another character a coin during a train ride.
Now, will this detail get you hung up on the outcome of the story if it’s not resolved? I did go back and remove that based on one person’s feedback and now I wish I’d left it in there. Not because I want anyone to get hung up, but because it was a minor detail that had no impact on the outcome of the story. Perhaps readers would have allowed their mind to wander and come up with a solution on their own.
When I reader an Epic fantasy series years ago, I got hung up on a small detail like this. The main character pricked himself on a thorny vine and the author dedicated a paragraph to how the thorn worked its way under the skin and into the character’s flesh.
And? And? thousands of pages later…I’m still hung up on that one small detail. Years later, I still remember that small detail. The book series had ‘thorn’ in it. The main character got pricked by a thorn. Why? Why did the author invest so many words to tell me about it?
In the end, the series is magnificent. I have no complaints. Is it a perfect series? No. It’s got flaws, and quirks. But it’s got character its own and I’m not talking about POV characters. I’m talking about the writing style is almost its own character. The author’s style comes across. I’ve read everything by this author because of those little details that keep me thinking about the book and wondering “What about?”
I’ve rambled long enough. I’m off to go make words happen.
Until Next Time!
Today I did a little test with my YouTube live stream. It hadn’t been streaming. Not sure why or what I was doing differently. Today, it appeared that it all worked.
Even though I was only testing, I still decided to chit chat a little bit about what’s going on with the books, what I did today, and other things about the setup I’m using.
Lots of info in the video if’n you’re interested. I’ll write a longer post on Monday.
Until Next Time!
Up first: Live stream scheduling.
I know I’m not on a schedule with the live streams to YouTube. My apologies for that. I’ve many things to figure out, like how to set up my feed to alert people 30 minutes before I “Go Live”. The main purpose of the streaming instead of recording and uploading is time savings. I also need to figure out the background music and title shot before I start streaming. We’ll get there. Please be patient while I figure out new technology.
Secondly, my person schedule. I still work all day. That’s not going to change any time in the near future. What will change is I’m getting up earlier to do my workout rather than taken an hour after work for my workout, then shower, then get dinner, etc. I’m getting as much done in the morning as I can, so, when I’m done with work, I can get to the writing business.
That said, today I got done with work and took a nap. I’m old. My body doesn’t want to adjust as quickly as I want to. Again, this will take time but we’ll get there. Much like my brain, my body is learning new things as well.
Finally, Jack Kane book 3. My intention was to sit down last night, crank out a couple of thousand words, and get the file over to Mike so he could do his chapter. Well, I’ve been in the story of 3 other series, lots of edits, and getting things scheduled and uploaded. My brain wasn’t fully in the Jack Kane brain space. I didn’t get as much done last night as I’d hoped.
Tonight, I’ll get further along and hopefully get that over to Mike.
If’n you’re curious how I got started in reading and writing Steampunk, check out the video tonight.
I’m off to go make words happen.
Until Next Time!
The title of this blog post couldn’t be any more simple. I’ll get to that in one minute. Let me cover two other topics first.
- I got background music on the live stream for youtube. My next step is to get an opening and closing video sequence. Once I have that, these streams will be mostly on auto pilot and I’ll be saving so much time. It’s exciting. 🙂
- Got started on Jack Kane book 3. I hope to get that over to my co-author, Mike Plested soon so he can dig in and get going.
Back to the main topic.
As I’ve gotten older, unlike many, I’ve found that I don’t hate certain content as much as I used to. Sure, there’s music I don’t like. Movies I think stink on ice. Books that should never have been published.
Why am I going to waste my time and energy being angry that people love something that I dislike? Twilight? I thought the books were awful and the movies worse. You love them? Good. Enjoy! I’m glad you found something you like.
Avatar? Prometheus? Those movies, for me, were beautiful to look at, but the stories so disjointed that all I could do was shake my head and wish they’d spent any amount of money on script doctors to fix the glaring problems on the screen. Did you like them? GREAT! I’m glad you did. Many people loved those movies.
John Scalzi? I think he’s a good guy, though I’ve never met him. I’ve heard stories about how he talks down to his fans and other authors. I’ve never had that interaction. I think his books are well-edited junk that have awful plots and are easily predictable. You like his stories? GREAT! I’m glad for you. Buy more of his books and enjoy them. You are his audience.
When I posted last about Scalzi, a couple of other authors thought I was on the Scalzi hate train. No, I’m really now. I wasn’t then, I’m not now. Please, if you’re an author that hates Scalzi and you think because I don’t care for Scalzi’s work, don’t think that means I’ll love your work. The last two authors that sent me work on this premise…well, let’s just say I cared for their work even less.
Quite simply, as I get older, I find I’d rather focus my time and energy into spreading love for what I love instead of hate for what I don’t like.
How do you deal with content you consume that you don’t care for?
Until Next Time!