Sunday, December 26, 2010

Font-an Pen

After a great Christmas with the family and eating good food, I’m back to doing a little catch up today. In looking back over notes I’ve made, I came across one that gave me a chuckle. This happened when I had breakfast with a friend of mine and showed him a pen I had received as a thank you for giving a talk to a Rotary club. The pen had a window on side, and every time you clicked it, a cylinder inside would rotate to display one of six messages about the Rotary goals. My friend told me that he had once put together a pen with this same message capability. He called it a Font-an pen. In the window displayed the names of six different fonts such as Times Roman, Arial, Courier, Calibri, Cambria, Gothic. He would hand the pen to people and tell them to click to the appropriate font which the pen would then write with.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Old Lions and Finding a Place for All Skills

I was told an interesting story about old lions at a presentation I gave on aging this last week. It seems old lions can’t move as well as the young lions, but they can still roar loudly. So when lions are hunting, they position the old lion in one place and the young lions in another. When game approaches, the old lion roars and this scares the game away from the old lion, right toward the young lions, who can quickly run down the next meal. As I become older, I guess I’ll have to work on my roar.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Volunteering and Anti-oxidants

Volunteering and Antioxidants

Yesterday I helped out by delivering holiday gift baskets to elderly and disabled people in our community. The baskets were colorful and full of fruit and other scrumptious goodies. When I went to sign in, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman standing in line in front of me. He was a spry fellow named Bill and as we talked he admitted that he was ninety-five, older than nearly all the people who would be receiving gift baskets. I asked him the secret of how he had aged so well and he replied, “volunteering and antioxidants.” In addition to taking gift baskets to those in need, he volunteers for Meals-on-wheels and at the local hospital. Before it became popular, he started eating foods high in anti-oxidants. After I received my list and baskets to deliver, I drove away thinking about the good advice Bill had given me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Challenges Along the Writer's Journey

One of the key attributes I’ve learned of being a writer is perseverance. When I began writing I started submitting short stories to magazines and anthologies. On my 112th submittal I sold a story called, “Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog,” to a publication titled Who Died in Here? which was a collection of stories with a death or a murder taking place in a bathroom. Then I bridged into novel length material and in 2005 pitched the idea for my novel to two agents and two editors at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver. Two months later I got a contract offer and in January of 2007 my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published. None of this would have happened if I had given up after the first hundred rejections. And many authors have gone through this saga of hundreds of rejections before achieving success. On the other hand, I want to stay away from becoming compulsive and obsessive about my writing. I have a wife, three kids and four grandchildren who I want to spend time with. Writing isn’t the only part of my life. I write almost every day, but when I’m traveling to be with family I rarely write. That’s family time. The other challenge is adversity along the writer’s journey. Rejections, bad reviews, brutal critiques, agent issues, publishing snafus, etc. I’m reminded of the Stockdale Paradox that Jim Collins described in his book, Good to Great, which describes the experience of Admiral James Stockdale when a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Stockdale stated: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” We have to persevere but also address the reality of our situation.