Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Narcissism or Marketing?

I HATE drawing attention to myself. But with the publication date of my midgrade fantasy novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth, drawing closer, here I am blogging. I’m also tweeting and (gasp) actually have more than two followers. I’m on Google+, created my author’s page on FB and Goodreads, and I’m on Linkedin. I guess Pinterest is next. I’m told that this is all a part of marketing my book and, by extension, myself as an author. Truth be told, I’m very uncomfortable doing it.    

Blogging doesn't come naturally. I’m happiest taking long walks with my wife and dog through the woods, or kayaking the Conemaugh River or Crooked Creek, or backpacking through the backcountry with close friends. By day, I’m a software engineer, not on glitzy websites, but on boring back-office processing at a bank, handling millions of account records each night. I still program in COBOL for crying out loud! For anyone under 50, you’ll find a description of COBOL online near instructions on how to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins. [maybe I’m out of my Vulcan mind! :-) ]

Pushing my name and picture and book out to the web doesn’t feel right to me. At times, I feel like I’m stroking my own ego, screaming LOOK AT ME with flaming neon arrows. Many who grew up in the social network revolution probably don’t understand this. In my heart, I’m a private person. No one has to know what store I’m walking into at 2:00 PM or what I’m having for lunch.  

Before I created my blog, I thought no one would care one whit what I had to say. Surprisingly, I’ve had nearly 600 page views between April 29, 2013 and July 31, 2013. I guess some out there find my posts entertaining (I hope so) . . . or maybe you’re all tuning in just to see what the crazy bald guy from southwestern PA is ranting about now.

I guess I’ll have to keep up with the marketing, even as I struggle with the narcissistic aspects of it. Thanks for stopping by!  Live long and prosper.              

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Latest Interview with the folks at Helping Hands Press

I really am uncomfortable with drawing attention to myself. But if you'd like to listen in, here's a link to my Saturday July 27 interview with Helping Hands Press.

Whispers from Forbidden Earth

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Legacy in a Small Package

My definition of the word “legacy” drastically changed on July 20, 2013 with the marriage of my eldest son Christopher to the lovely Sarah Hyde. As guests entered into the reception hall, they saw a table with Chris and Sarah’s engagement picture on display. Behind that picture stood 10 wedding pictures, Kathy and I, Sarah’s parents, then grandparents, and great-grandparents. All told, the pictures spanned 4 generation.

I had never heard of that before at a wedding and seeing the pictures had a profound impact on me that weekend.  I realized that the pictures represented a legacy of love and commitment spanning over 80 years. Was everyone perfect? Of course not, we all have our faults. But one thing I know is that every couple stuck it out through the hard times and good, through the fights, and all the issues that come packaged with married life.

I was a teenager when the first Rocky movie came out (stay with me here . . .). I watched Sylvester Stallone and saw all the praise he received for his role as Rocky. I decided then that I wanted to make a name for myself like Stallone. I didn’t want to die in obscurity, without the world knowing my name. I wanted to leave my mark. Perhaps that fear drove me to start writing. I don’t know.

Fast-forward 40 years and there I stood at my son’s wedding, looking at 4 generations of pictures. That is the legacy I’m a part of, a legacy of love and commitment I’m so proud of. Even now, I’m sure no one remembers the short stories I’ve published. And who knows how many people will read my novel when it comes out in the next few weeks. No one, perhaps?

All that external stuff doesn’t matter to me as much after this past weekend. I’ve seen the pictures and I know my legacy lives on. I’ve left my little mark in the world and I’m so proud.

Thank you, Chris, Sarah, Jason, and, Kathy for opening my eyes.           

Here is my legacy:


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reluctant new member of the bent-neck club

When I started thinking about this post, I intended to title it, “Look at all the bent necks”.  Then a couple of weeks ago I RELUCTANTLY upgraded my trusty 3G cell phone for a smartphone. Thus, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the bent-neck club, and I hope I won’t need a chiropractor as a result while I try to figure out how the #&^!@#$ thing works. Perhaps you can tell where this post is going . . .

I work in downtown Pittsburgh, in the USX tower. Each day I walk several blocks to and from my van, and ride the elevators to my office all the way on the 43rd floor. I see thin white wires dangling from so many people’s ears nowadays. In well over 80% of the cases, necks of the aforementioned people are bent, eyes fixed on snazzy devices in their hands, thumbs a blur of frantic movement. Head-mounted radar must come as standard equipment with a smartphone upgrade. It’s a wonder no one trips or crashes into someone else suffering from the same bent-neck syndrome. I’m still waiting for a call to have my radar installed.

Call me old-fashioned. Okay, I am old-fashioned. Being 54 years-old allows for some cynicism. Stepping into an elevator or through a door, what happened to the eye contact I remember, the polite nod, perhaps a smile and even a “hi” or “good morning”?  Now, ears are plugged, necks are bent, heads and eyes down, and thumbs moving.

Okay, I realize Pittsburgh is a small city. Maybe the politeness I remember never existed in places like New York or Philadelphia. But it existed here at one time. I remember it. Not everyone acknowledged me, but some would nod or smile. Some would say ‘hi”. I remember that.     

Social media has allowed us to stay connected with our closest friends and know their business on a daily . . . umm . . . hourly basis. What about those outside our circles, though, the people we pass every day or share an elevator with for a couple of minutes? I remember a time when there was eye contact. Maybe there was a nod or a smile, too. Sometime we even chatted for a bit. I remember . . .