How Not to Waste Your Vote This Election

There’s so much political stuff all over social media right now.  It’s hard to relax on the couch with my phone in the evening and flip through Facebook when all of the posts are slamming everyone who supports one candidate or another.  Right now, you’re an asshole no matter what side you take.

I was recently told that my vote for Gary Johnson would be a waste.  This is nothing new.  People have been told that third-party candidates are wastes of ballot space for a long time.  And I’m sure the memes informing us of Abraham Lincoln’s third-party backing don’t really convince anybody.  (He was a Republican, and they were new at that time but not third party.)

But my vote for Gary Johnson will not be a waste.

Why?  Well, first let’s examine why people think it’s a foolish thing to do.  Some say that voting for him is a vote for Hillary, and the others claim it’s a vote for The Donald.  Um, no.  It’s a vote for Gary.  If I make my little punch mark next to his name, then that’s who the vote is for.  It’s pretty simple, really.  The big parties are telling you otherwise because they’re playing to your hatred.  Being scared into changing your vote? Now that’s a waste. 

Or maybe American folks are just too caught up in wanting to be able to say that they voted for the winner.  The basic gist that I get these days is that they don’t want to vote for Johnson because he has “no chance.”  Hmm.  Alright, so the next logical step is to vote for someone you don’t like simply because they might win?  That doesn’t make sense to me, either.  Last I checked, we have the right to vote for the person we want.  It’s not a gamble at a casino.  You don’t have to make the winning bet to be the winner.

My vote for Gary Johnson will not be a waste because I will be voting for the candidate whom I believe will make the best president.  That’s it.  It’s so easy that nobody can quite wrap their brains around it.  I repeat:  You are not wasting your vote if you are choosing the person you like the best.  Whether that is Trump, Hillary, or Johnson, no vote is wasted if it is educated and earnest.

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Please Help the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

auctionHave you ever come across one of those Facebook pages that just constantly provides you with warm fuzzies?  Maybe one that you know you can pull up on your phone before you go to bed at night and find a post that instantly makes you feel better about the world?  For me, Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary is one of them.


Is there anything better than a bucket of pugs?  No, I didn’t think so either.  Old Friends routinely shares “goodnight” photos from their residents.  (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.)


Located in Mt. Joliet, Tennessee, Old Friends is dedicated to assisting senior dogs through their golden years.  While some stay at the sanctuary, dogs are also fostered out to homes in their local area.  While many animal rescue organizations are out there doing wonderful things for dogs and cats, I think it’s wonderful that Old Friends concentrates on the dogs that are usually skipped over due to their health problems or the fact that they don’t have many years left.

If you are a pet owner or lover of any kind, you know how expensive it can be to provide everything an animal needs.  These costs are only increased when the pets are disabled or sickly and require a more constant veterinary routine than others.  Now, the expenses of Old Friends have been increased exponentially by a change in zoning laws in their community that is requiring them suddenly to move.  This will mean a disruption in the lives of numerous dogs–many of whom are deaf or blind–as well as the cost of setting up new living quarters that are suitable for these aging canines.


Leo (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary)

I ask that you consider helping out this worthwhile enterprise.  There is a shop on their website with several items available, as well as a link to donate directly through Paypal.  They also have t-shirts available on a limited time basis.  Their current one, celebrating Gracie’s birthday, can be found here.  There’s even a dog art auction going on through September 14th.  I’m sure that even a few dollars here and there will make a difference in these sweet pooches’ lives.


Frankie.  Yes, I just adore the pugs!  (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary)

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Star Trek: 50 Years of Aliens Teaching Us What It Means to Be Human

For 50 years now, we’ve been boldly going where no one has gone before, and we’ve also been learning what it truly means to be human. Many of these lessons have been taught not by humans but by aliens.

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Several years later, I caught all the reruns from the original series. I’ve seen at least most of the movies, a few of them in the theater. Though I’ve never been the kind of fan that memorizes every episode or could win a trivia competition, the answer for me to the age old question of Star Wars or Star Trek has always been Star Trek.

A couple months ago, I began rewatching The Next Generation on Netflix. This was inspired by some science fiction ghostwriting I’ve been working on. My television choices are often dictated by my writing projects, but it was also a great excuse to re-explore something I had loved so much as a child.

While I didn’t remember the specific plots of any of the episodes, I most certainly remembered the characters. I had a huge crush on the aptly named Wesley Crusher, but my other favorite character was always Data.

Now, while I’m very much over Wil Wheaton, I am still incredibly intrigued and impressed by Data. What makes him so interesting is that he is an android and yet he wants so badly to understand what it means to be human. He strives to discover—with the help of Joe Piscopo, no less—what makes something funny, and what it truly means to laugh. He constantly struggles with and overanalyzes common expressions that we humans use without thinking. Just as people must deal with bias and racism, Data also finds that not everyone is willing to accept him for who he is. It is through these various experiences that Data shows us what it means to be human through the eyes of an android.

There are other aliens ready to teach us these lessons as well. Deanna Troi shows us the emotional side of ourselves, while the Vulcans are experts in the logical. Klingons such as Worf help us understand our anger and our feelings about war. If you want to know a little more about human interactions when it comes to greed or business transactions, just ask the Ferengi.

Personally, I’m ready to keep learning from the aliens for another 50 years to come. Who is your favorite character and what did they teach you?

Live Long and Prosper

Live Long and Prosper

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – A Review

I’ve only had my new computer for a few days.  And I feel like I can’t quite use the term “computer.”  After all, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is basically just a tablet with a keyboard.  So that can’t really be a machine that replaces your laptop, can it?

I’ve been searching for a new laptop for awhile, but I’m a very thrifty person.  I have to ensure that I have the absolute best bang for my buck, as well as something that is truly going to make a difference for me.  Buying a new version of the exact same laptop didn’t really make sense.

What first turned me on to the Surface was the keyboard.  I was at Best Buy in the laptop section, just testing out every single keyboard before I even looked at the processor speed or the RAM.  As a freelance writer, I’m sometimes doing up to 10,000 words per day, so I need something that really feels great under my fingertips.  The suedey feel of the Surface’s keyboard case, plus the fact that it’s small but not cramped, really did it for me.

Next, I was concerned about the memory.  The Surface just doesn’t have it when you compare it to a regular laptop.  But a quick look at my current hard drive, which was mostly full of documents, revealed that I don’t use that much space anyway.  Plus, I always work out of Dropbox so that I’m backed up no matter what.  There’s also a microSD slot on the side that allows you to nearly double the memory if you need to (or swap out different cards for different projects, as I think I will be doing).

For a tablet to replace your laptop, it has to be really….lapable.  I have a beautiful desk that I very much enjoy, but I also really like curling up on the couch or in the recliner while I work.  I was concerned that the kickstand on the back of the Surface in conjunction with a keyboard held on by magnets just wasn’t going to cut it.  I read another review that promised it would, and it turns out that guy was correct.  This computer fits wonderfully on my lap, is not floppy, and of course doesn’t get hot.  Big bonus!

I’ve read in other reviews that some folks don’t like the Surface Connect charging cable because it comes out too easily.  Personally, I love it!  I would much rather the cord pop out than dig in and cause damage when my dog gets tangled up in the charging cable.  (Yes, I’ve had something along these lines happen before, although I might have been the one tangled in the cable.)

There’s a lot that I have yet to learn about the Surface.  I’ve been too busy using it for work to do a lot of tinkering.  But from what I’ve experienced so far, it’s great.  The surface pen is handy.  The device switches easily from tablet mode to keyboard mode.  It’s very light compared to the boat anchor I was using before.  Setup was fast and simple.  The battery life is amazing compared to the two-to-three hours my laptop was capable of.  Also, I’ve been a Windows fan since I was a kid, so having a tablet with a system I’m familiar with is huge for me.

Overall, I’m really crazy about this computer and I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar computing situation.  If you are a graphic designer or a gamer, then I don’t know what to tell you.  I write, surf the web, and stream Pandora.  For me, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was worth the investment!


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My Laptop, My Friend – a Tribute

20160903_131501Goodbye HP Pavilion g6, also known as Excalibur III. You’ve been a good friend despite how heavy you are, how hot you get on my lap, and that wonky Windows 10 upgrade that made you turn off your trackpad for months and months until it suddenly began working again. Yes, we’ve been through some hard times, but there were plenty of good ones as well.

You put me through going back to college even though I felt like I was too old. We’ve written two books and launched a successful freelance career. I can’t even begin to estimate the thousands upon thousands of words that have come across your keyboard, and the only evidence is the fact that the N and the L are pretty much completely gone. But I knew where they were anyway.

I want you to know that your retirement will be a good one. You won’t be stuck on a shelf with the idea of someday going to an electronics recycling place or kept somewhere “just in case.” Instead, you’ll be going to my 10-year-old daughter. I know there’s still a lot of life left in you, but you’ll get to live it in the easy-paced world of 5th grade term papers and journal entries. The two of you can take care of each other. You’ll make her feel special and grown up, and she’ll let you know that you are still useful. Maybe someday you’ll help her write a book, too.



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Why is that Indie Book so Expensive?

Upon the release of my most recent book, I was once again forced to face the issue of price point.  If I charge too little, I won’t make anything.  If I charge too much, nobody will be interested in buying it.  With the numerous ebooks available for free, some folks don’t even want to pay $.99.

I get it.  I don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around.  And most people don’t see the same kind of value in an ebook that they see in a paperback.  After all, you can’t feel the weight of it in your hands, smell the ink on the paper, hear the flip of the pages, or have it signed by the author (at least, not in the same way).

What they don’t think about it that they are paying for so much more than the paper a book is printed on.  There are numerous hours put into creating the plot, writing, rewriting (usually more than once), several rounds of editing, formatting, and cover design.  Not all authors are capable of completing this entire process alone and must hire other professionals to help them.  This means that on top of all their blood, sweat, tears, and late nights beating their heads against the desks, they’ve also put a few hundred dollars into it.

Okay, so after all that is done and the book is available for$2.99 on Amazon, the author starts making almost $3 back for each copy, right?  Nope.  The author can choose from either a 35% or 70% royalty rate, so Amazon immediately gets some off the top.  Which royalty rate you choose depends on the price point of your book, where it’s available, and how big it is.  But the money drain doesn’t stop there.  There are also delivery fees and taxes, not to mention any advertisements, promotions, and giveaways that the author may have done to generate sales.

Let’s apply this to real life.  If I sell a book for $.99, I get $.35 minus a few cents in delivery costs depending on the size of the book.  I would make better money with a guitar case on the street, and I don’t know how to play.

Of course, there are some who say that if you write for the money then you will never be successful.  I those people are just ticked off that their books aren’t selling.  And I will readily admit that my freelance work is what pays the bills, not my books.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe authors should get some sort of acknowledgement for what they have done.  Writing isn’t an easy job, and it can be disheartening to have a quarter thrown at you for your months of hard labor.  Support the authors you love by buying their books, sharing their posts on Facebook or Twitter, and leaving honest reviews.


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Insecure About Your Writing? I Don’t Doubt It.

I always like making new writing and blogging friends.  In a recent conversation with a new acquaintance, he asked me if you ever get over the “debilitating self-doubt” that comes with writing.


I knew that was the answer, but I discovered just how true that was as I prepared to launch my latest book.

Although I’m an indie author, most of my writing happens on the freelance scene.  I have consistent work creating blogs and ghostwriting, and this means that I usually spend a lot more time doing the projects that make me a little cash than the ones that are simply for my own creative pleasure.  I do have quite a few stories waiting to be written, though, so I took the day off from my “regular” work to get my book finished up and ready for release.

By the time I release a book on the world, I’m absolutely sick of it.  I have read this current book so many times that I just can’t stand it any more, and that’s how I know I’m done.  There is nothing more that I can do to change it or make it better.  It is as complete as a book can be.

Even though I knew the book was done, that knowledge didn’t stop a shocking amount of fear and anxiety from creeping up on me as I created a Facebook event and sketched out my marketing ideas.  I thought at first that I was just frustrated; it’s difficult to know what the “right” thing is to do when it comes to promoting your work.  I had a couple of close friends that attempted to help me, but they just couldn’t.  I was an absolute mess.

Eventually, I calmed down and got over it.  I got past the mental block that my anxiety had caused and was able to think creatively again.  I’m good now.

But I want everyone out there who doubts their skill as a writer to understand that you aren’t alone.  Writing is a job that not only takes a lot of hard work but also a lot of bravery.  It’s impossible to write without putting a little bit of yourself into that book, and you’re opening it up for everyone to see it.

It’s tough, but you can do it.


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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, On Writing