Live Now.

An  art friend of mine has recently begun posting some secular humanist perspectives over on G+. He turns off comments, perhaps to avoid discussion…or, maybe, to fend off trolls.  Of course, it could be that he considers anyone who might choose to discuss the topic to be a troll.  He’s rather odd that way–easily offended, easily riled, easily disquieted.

Anyway, his posts got me to thinking about the mindset of atheist secular humanists, especially those who perceive life and reality as reducible to clear, concise mechanical processes that include chemical reactions and Newtonian physics. He’s a retired engineer, so this mindset comes quite logically and naturally to him and his. Dwelling in the strictly empirically measurable pragmatic, any idea of something more than life as a chemical reaction and consciousness as a neurological function is quite alien. Having myself dwelled in mechanism, pragmatism, atheism, and stoicism for a solid decade or more of my own existence, I can understand the very solid, stolid stability provided by it. What bothers me is that what he’s doing is no different than the proselytizing of the fervently religious. In truth, it’s no different.

Here’s the thing, though: Does it really matter what he believes versus what someone else believes? No. His beliefs give him solace, just as those who believe that their loved ones have gone to join Jesus or entered Nirvana or…do them. The fact is there is no proof or disproof of continuance of the self/soul/spirit upon the body’s demise, and, truly, it really doesn’t matter. Live now.

Not Yours, Only Mine.


A couple of days back, there happened amid the staid and stolid pages of a writer’s community a small foofaraw ←(a very suitable word for this, used thanks to one S. Bradley Stoner, author, who reminded me of its existence). It was a kerfuffle over the audacity of authors using social media to promote themselves and their books, specifically by sharing their latest customer satisfaction reviews. Someone was very bent about it. And, yes, personally I’m not in favor of the practice, except for the most occasional share of a nice five-star review that’s got meat and flavor. But the sharing isn’t the problem I’m going to address.  The problem that steps up is the attitude and actions of the complainant, namely, “Not yours; only mine.”  First some background, though.  (If bored with any background, skip to paragraph 4)

There are millions of authors on social media all trying to bring attention to their literary endeavors (books, anthologies, shorts stories, poems….). Most of them have swallowed the old ideas that if you just proliferate enough noise about the existence of your book and how good it is, people will buy and you can retire to scribbling more, rather than working for the man.  Oh, and corral as many people as possible into signing up for your newsletter, then remind them of your existence and your wonderful books at least twice a month, if not once a week. Whatever you do, keep posting updates about anything and everything happening in your writing and publishing and book sales life. That’s the ticket, by cybergads, and don’t you forget it. Do especially post about your loss leaders–freebies and 99 centers–because everybody wants what they can get on the cheap, and, especially for free. (This is all said now quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. None of these things really work, anymore, and haven’t for quite some time. Not really. And I mean pretty much NOT AT ALL.)

What worked for folks who got in early–“early adopters”–might have worked way back when…for about six months to, maybe, two years at longest when self-publishing and the various ‘hot’ social media platforms were all relative infants in the cyber world, but then social mediaville–the people who live there along with the platform owners–caught on. People on social media began to ignore all these self-promotion efforts, even (gasp) to the point of blocking those proliferating the feeds with what resident denizens considered ‘spam’…and it was and is spam. (Nobody likes spam, not even the meated variety still occasionally, nostalgically smiled upon by those still ‘lost in the 1950s’.) Platform owners? They chuckled and began to utilize the desires of people to gain exposure for themselves and their product to their advantage. I won’t bore you with the details, but, yes, it worked out quite well for the platform owners, if not so much for everyone else.

Meanwhile, back to the denizens. Social media denizens want quality ‘stuff’ in their feeds. They vehemently object to what THEY consider ‘noise’. A lot of them (and me) just ignore the noise, scrolling right on past, thanks. But some take extreme affront and, foaming at the mouth, will unfriend, unfollow, even block or mute someone whose content they consider ‘noise’ or ‘spammy’. In fact, they’ll unfriend, unfollow, block, or mute someone just for posting more than they consider “appropriate”, even when the shared stuff is of interest to them. It’s the fact that the person doing the posting is sharing stuff that does nothing whatsoever to promote the affronted’s own agenda–say, his/her books or product, his/her brand, and his/her online enterprise(s). And that’s the root of what’s at issue here–this ‘only mine, not yours’ attitude. Because, you see, these same individuals are the ones who post about their own stuff almost exclusively, and I mean exclusively. Check out their feeds on FB or G+ or anywhere else–it’s all about them. They don’t up-vote anything that isn’t about them. Almost never, IF ever. They won’t follow folks who aren’t in it for them.

Selfish, self-centered, self-interested, and disinterested in anything that doesn’t feed them and theirs, they go out of their way to castigate others for doing exactly what they themselves do–promoting their own projects and products. They grumble, they dis(respect), they dismiss and despoil, and, when, having been discovered and labeled as Machiavellian, they find themselves left out, they start rattling the bars, editorializing their blame of others for doing exactly what they do, never mind that at least most of those others they berate do, unlike the affronted, up-vote other people’s promotional efforts and interests.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, from me to you, if you’re one of those who is affronted by somebody doing something that you yourself do, then I think you’d best either swallow it or get TF off of social media completely. If you’re one of those who promotes and expects to be promoted by others, you have to reciprocate. If you don’t, then you’ll get left out in the cold once discovered that you’re only in it for yourself.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all this fuss and blather is just don’t promote yourself and your books, enterprises, or products on social media, except in the most conservative manner while promoting others works at a moderated pace. It’s the only way for others…other than the “only mine, not yours” folks not to get affronted.


The Most Bang for the Buck in Successful Book Marketing


I’m a statistics girl. I can, by the numbers, tell you what works and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you who your target market is, though, because I haven’t read your book…and probably won’t. What I can do is, in a nutshell, tell you what does NOT work. You promoting your own novels and books via social media DOES NOT WORK. Further, you don’t need a Facebook page, you don’t need a Google page, you don’t need Tumblr, Pinterest, Linked-In, or Instagram. You need to buy advertising targeted to your demographic market. FB advertising works. Amazon advertising works. Goodreads advertising does not. Your newsletter might generate some sales, but, anymore, if you’re late to the party, which most of you are, then, no.

Will your work catch fire? That’s completely dependent upon luck and the ever-fickle tastes of the mobs.

Good luck.


Nothing There.


I regularly read articles across a broad range of subjects.  Today, I read an article in Forbes about problems with mutual funds, another about scientists meeting at Oxford about climate change, and others, still, about varying subjects including writing, employment, the global economy, US job projections, space exploration, new scientific discoveries and theories…. Of those articles, only the scientific ones reported anything substantial. The rest were a bunch of words that simply stated and then restated the general issue, quoted a few “names” who said nothing more than, yeah, we may have an issue here, but no proffered solutions; not even a list of the issue’s problems-in-need-of-solutions.  They offered nothing.

Waste of time, waste of bits and bytes, and my main objection to most of what I find being proliferated across all the varied communication media available–audio, visual (including textual) and multi-media.

So why is content so lacking therein? I’ve come across five basic reasons:

  1. there is, as yet, no solution (The Halting Problem);
  2. exposing the solution destroys that solution’s effectiveness (marketing strategies);
  3. the communicator won’t share the solution unless you pay for it (any capitalist enterprise);
  4. the solution and consequences is/will be unpopular (Climate Change);
  5. the communicator doesn’t know of a solution, whether because of ignorance or laziness.

If you’re going to communicate about something, at least list the issue’s problems. If you are going to point out those problems, be up front if there are no solutions as yet or offer up potential solutions–those tried, those which have failed, those which have had some greater or lesser degree of success. It’s relatively easy, and it follows the same formula of all effective communication: opening statement (thesis statement), supporting evidence and arguments, conclusion (restatement of the thesis, summary of major points).

We really need to stop rewarding vacuousness. Really.


Contingency Employment Planning


Most American citizens are members of one of two groups–the employer or the employee–usually, the latter.  Simplistically, as an employee, you are answerable to your employer; as an employer, you are answerable to yourself.

Again simplistically:

  • As an employee working for someone else, you may have seeming autonomy in some jobs and in some positions, but, actually, you have no autonomy. You have a job to do and often changeable definitions of what that job entails.  You earn according to what the business owner deems you’re worth, and, when that worth increases or diminishes, so may your compensation and, sometimes, even employability.
  • When you are the employer, which includes the self-employed sole proprietor, you earn according to the success of the business and what you deem prudent to maintain continuing business success. (Failure to properly limit your ‘take’ can lead to business failure.)

Are you one of the few who are perpetually employable? Will automation and technology never threaten your job? Will your job never be outsourced? Will every birthday you have once you hit thirty-six years of age (thirty-five for women) have no effect or decrease your employability? Few in the U.S. can honestly say that, and, unless you have some sort of alternative financial support, you might be in trouble, especially once you hit forty, because, no matter how good you are, that’s when employers start looking to fill positions with younger workers. In fact, it’s encouraged, (Article has been edited from its original) , as was noted quite pointedly in Bob Sullivan’s article in MSN Money: .

In the U.S. since somewhere in the mid 1970s, but especially during the 1990s, employment models dramatically changed. (Alternative PDF: how-the-relationship-between-employers-and-workers-changed-latimes ). Lifetime employment became, for the most part, a thing of the past as companies sought to maximize profits and minimize labor expenses. Aging workers became especially subject to termination, and, today, an older worker is classified as anyone reaching thirty-five or thirty-six, and, by forty, you’ve definitely reached that category. (, Between automation, technology, a flooded labor market, and maximizing profits for stock holders, jobs are harder and harder to find and keep, no matter your education and skills.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, some of us, including me, decided that self-dependency–self-employment–was preferable to the ever-increasing climate of job instability. I left a corporate position where I was highly valued, the CEO actually visiting my home to demand my continued employment with the company after I gave notice and resigned.  Working for myself was frightening, but it proved out, despite having to work longer hours, despite having no guarantee of a dependable, stable income.  But, honestly, when you’re employed by someone else, there is no actual guarantee of that next paycheck. ( ) Everything from outsourced, downsizing, department reorganization, and automation to a fire in the building, a tornado, or an earthquake can put you out of work either temporarily or permanently. In fact, keeping a job long term is tough unless you’re a key employee or ‘keyman‘.  Unemployment compensation is a painful substitute.  I’ve been a ‘key employee’. It’s still no guarantee of retention when a business gets sold or assimilated by another company.

Because of today’s unstable employment climate, anyone in their thirties who isn’t independently well off needs an employment back-up plan, including the potential of having to self-employ. Ongoing education and increasing your skill set are key to retaining a place in someone’s employment roster, but, even then, your job security is not a sure thing. Your best option is to plan for the eventuality that you will have to employ yourself and/or seek alternative income strategies to maintain a comfortable income level from your forties onward. Build toward that while you are gainfully employed. Don’t wait till you get that pink slip and are escorted out of the building.