Save The Date!


The Northwest Missouri Author's Showcase will take place this Saturday, April 25, 2015 from Noon to 4 p.m. at the Maryville Hy-Vee Store, 1217 S. Main Street, Maryville, Missouri.

Detailed information about the event can be found here.

When Free Isn't Free

Be careful what you sign up for. You may be selling your email address short. Keep in mind, those supposed "free" accounts may not really be free. Online users shouldn't necessarily believe it when a site promises not to share your email address with anyone. I rarely sign up for new "free" accounts, as I know that within 24-48 hours my spam folder will suddenly be filled to overflowing with every kind of annoying piece of spam ever created. Among those messages will be a layer of phishing scams. For the most part my filters catch the garbage and put it in the electronic round file where it belongs. Every once in a while, something weird gets through.

Another thing to remember is, once you're on those free-site spammer lists, it's nearly impossible to get your email removed from them. Don't kid yourself. That "unsubscribe" link at the bottom is just your way of confirming for the sender that their spam has reached an active account. It's best just to right click on the message and add the sender's address to the "blocked" list in your email software. Better yet, add their whole domain if it's not one where you get mail from other people that you DO want to hear from.

And be nice to your online friends. Don't give out their email addresses by clicking on those "email this to a friend" links on pages. It's just another collection tool for sites. You can right click on the page link in the address bar, copy it, and paste the link into a private email you can send to your friend. That way the only list they are on is yours.

Save yourself a lot of headaches. Free online accounts ALWAYS want something from you in return -- at the very least, they want your valuable email address. Consider very carefully what you sign up for, because you may be signing up for more than you think. There are reputable sites out there who follow their own privacy policy and don't share, but be sure to read the fine print. If it says that signing up for a "free" account means they get to share your email address with "affiliates" you may decide you don't want to open your email inbox to that type of traffic.

Carving Out Writing Time

Carving out writing time for a new book is proving more difficult than I expected. I am in reading mode once again, reviewing the work of fellow writers and editing manuscripts that I wrote in the past. I recently released three new books, Tryst Twist, The Reckoning, and Wandering Belle, this last month. One of the books was a new creation for this year, and the other two were written more than a decade ago. They've been collecting dust in the electronic file box on my flash drive.

It was nice to be able to edit those two books and put them into print. The Reckoning's story deals with a rather dark subject, human trafficking on an urban scale, and was more of a challenge. Wandering Belle has changed shape so many times over the years that I barely recognized her once I finished the final edits.

To keep the momentum of polishing past novels, I recently started editing The Surrogate, which also was written over a decade earlier. It has been fun reworking it. Some of the technology mentioned in the first couple of rough drafts of that novel was seriously outdated, so I have upgraded the main character's VCR to a DVD player, but now I'm worried that I should have just given her a subscription to Netflix, as that's the happening-now way to watch movies. The social upheaval that intrigued me and prompted me to write that story is no longer at the top of the list of society's hotbed issues. New controversies top that list today. Still, I think readers will find the story interesting, if and when it gets to publication stage.

With the respect to the two nonfiction books on the burner right now, I haven't been doing as much. Carving out research time is even tougher than finding time to actually draft chapters. As usual, as soon as I begin working on any project two or three new ones come to mind and I find myself getting distracted by those and losing my momentum on projects already in the pipeline. I've admitted my procrastination issues before. They haven't changed.

I'm off to write the next book review, which you can find at my website or at my review blog, . In the meantime, I hope you're carving out time for those activities that keep you interested and challenged everyday.

Back-Up Beeper Needed

Why don't computers come equipped with "back-up beepers" like forklifts and large trucks do? As I search through the numerous disks and drives I have on my desk for some long-lost personal essays I wrote years ago, I worry that the electronic files disintegrated with the computer hard-drives upon which they once lived -- because I failed to back them up. Actually, it's the computer's fault, because it didn't sound an alarm the day before it crashed to warn me. That's a good excuse. I'll stick with that. I still have the clipped copies from The Fence Post magazine that originally carried them, but the idea of having to retype the essays is a bit daunting. Nevertheless, I will choose one or two to post here.

My aunt, Wilma Allen, who passed away a few weeks ago, told me a long while ago how much she enjoyed reading those earlier essays and she suggested that I gather them all up and reprint them in a book of essays. So, I have been giving that serious consideration. 

Even though my present, rapidly-aging, and somewhat outdated computer has issued no "back-up" warning, I have learned from my mistakes and keep most of my work -- no really all of it -- on removable drives and disks to prevent loss. There is some comfort in that. And, I'm glad the computer doesn't beep at me all the time for I would be forced to find a way to disable the warning alarm. Like alarm clocks in the early morning, they can be quite annoying.