Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. In response to a backward system of determining bestsellers, a radio DJ launched a successful hoax launching a non-existant book to the NY Times Bestseller List. Here’s the story.
  2. How about this old Yellow Pages commercial. Although I’m a little confused about the premise, I’ll share it because I’m a lover of used book shops.
  3. 10 Things the Futurists of the past got right.
  4. If you are looking for a super-legit writer’s conference worth attending, check out Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing.
  5. If you are looking for a cheap or free writer’s conference worth attending, check out the Jot Conference!



Taking a Walk with my Writing


I recently got the opportunity to hear author and pastor, Mark Batterson, talk about the book he’ll be releasing next fall. He introduced himself and told the following anecdote.

“If you think you are a leader, but no one is following, you’re just taking a walk. So I guess if you are a writer, and no one is reading your books, you’re just journaling.”

He isn’t wrong. Writers write so readers can read what they wrote. It’s a pretty great deal. But what if no one reads what you write? Is it still worthwhile to write if you know that no one is going to read it?

I’m going to do the one thing that I am probably most ill-equipped to do here and try out a sports analogy. If you are a basketball player, every hour you spend on the court is worthwhile. Even when you are missing baskets, even when no one is watching, you are honing your skills. I doubt any serious athlete would say that time in practice is wasted time.

I think the same is true for writers.

Published authors have drawers filled with broken and unreadable manuscripts, but the reason that they ended up getting published is precisely because they wrote those crappy novels first. They learned from their mistakes and probably thanked heaven that no one saw them.

And so I won’t be too bummed if no one reads my early works, my blog, or my works in progress, because I still see the value of journaling.

On the Origin of Yessup


So, I guess this is a real thing, but only in Peru.

Normally, my word origin posts are about real words, and let’s face it, “yessup” isn’t a real word. In truth, it is a word that my three-year-old daughter has been saying lately instead of “yes”.

And it’s been driving my wife and I a bit crazy.

“Are you finished with your dinner?” we ask.

“Yessup!” she says.

“It’s just ‘yes’,” we say.

“Why did I say ‘yessup’?” she asks.

“We don’t know,” we say. “Why did you?”

“I love you to the moon and back!” she says, changing the subject.

Anyway, the other day, my wife finally got her to stop saying “yessup”. And to do it, she used the Bible, of all things.

“Are you ready for your bath?” asks my wife.

“Yessup!” says my daughter.

“You know,” says my wife, “the Bible says to let your yes be yes and your no be no. Let’s just say yes or no from now on, not ‘yessup’, okay?”

“Yes,” says my daughter.

And that was that.

Sure, we pulled that verse way out of context, but when the Word of God goes out, it doesn’t return void, right?

Anyway, now we hear her quoting that “yes be yes” thing at random times to random people, but for the moment it is cuter than it is annoying, so we’ll just deal with that later. Maybe we’ll take some other portion of the Bible out of context to fix it. Man, what a vicious cycle!

A Reading Confession

When I was a kid, I was no fan of bedtime. In fact, usually after being ordered to bed, I would wait about five minutes before returning to the living room where my folks were watching TV and announce that I couldn’t sleep because I wasn’t tired.

“Did you try closing your eyes?” they would ask me.

“Yes,” I would lie.

“Go back to bed,” they would say.

“Fine,” I would reply. “But I’m not tired.”

This little ritual happened so often that I earned the nickname of “Boomerang” at bedtime.

But at some point, this habit changed. And I think the thing that changed it was my love of reading. Because at some point, I stopped fighting the bedtime call and found a new way to disobey my folks.

I stayed up and read by flashlight. I know, I know, “What a rebel!”

And I’m sure that I killed quite a few batteries due to falling asleep mid-sentence.

Now that I’m a parent, I get to see the other side of things. And I realize that my folks probably weren’t bothered at all with my late-night reading habits. For one, reading is good for the brain. For another, it stopped me from bothering them during their television time every night. And if it cost a bit of money to keep my flashlight alive with fresh batteries, I’m sure that it was a justified expense.

Why do I think it is justified? Because my wife and I recently found my oldest daughter like this:

Asleep mid page-turn.

Asleep mid page-turn.

And it was one of the quietest nights in a while.

I am married to an accountant, and I think it’s rubbing off.


We’re having this fantastic sale at Baker Book House on just about everything in our gift department. The entire department is 30% off, and there are a few tables of stuff that are 50% off.

When things are that good of a deal, it’s just dumb not to peruse the selection. And even though I’m against Christian-esque gift stuff as a rule, even I found a mug worth owning. It looks just like a disposable paper coffee cup, only it is reusable plastic or glass or something. The best thing? No trite verse inclusions (something of a pet peeve of mine, which is unfortunate since I work in a Christian bookstore and those things surround me daily).

So as I put out the signs for the sale, one of my coworkers asked me if I saw anything I liked. I told them about the mug, but quickly added it up with, “But I already have plenty of mugs at home.”

“But it is a good deal,” they countered.

“Yeah, but if I took the $6 that the mug would cost me and put it toward the principle on my mortgage, then compounded that over the next fifteen years, do you know how much money I could save by not buying that mug?”

What just came out of my mouth? It turns out that my accountant wife is rubbing off on me. The bachelor me would never have thought twice about plunking some money down on something that I wanted, as long as I had the money in the bank. I wasn’t irresponsible or anything. I always made sure that my bills were paid and I never bought more than I could afford, but I didn’t exactly hold back or put money in the bank to save for the nebulous future.

But now? Totally. I’m all about paying down the mortgage.

So if you are looking for a cool mug and not worried about things like debt or compounded interest, there’s a lot of great stuff on sale at Baker Book House.

Hmmm, I just realized that this post may actually discourage some of you from spending money at Baker Book House, and my bosses sometimes read this blog. So let me say this. If you need mugs or have anyone that you’ll be buying gifts for soon, you are going to be spending the money anyway. Why not spend it where it’ll go farther? Seriously, we have a bunch of stuff at great sale prices.

How was that, boss?

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. I recently posted a story about how J. K. Rowling regrets letting Ron live. But here’s a great article in defense of Ron.
  2. Being the Kurt Vonnegut devotee that I am, I can’t pass up this chance to share his “Shapes of Stories” theory.
  3. As an employee of an indie bookstore, I think this is awesome. Go James Patterson, go!
  4. On a semi-related note, according to the numbers, Amazon is a jerk.
  5. And finally, is it a spoof on self-publishing or a time of these publishing times? Check out the saga of “Baboon Fart Story: An Ebook”. Also, language warning.


Blogging Basics


First, the caveat. I am not qualified to give advice.

As soon as someone gives advice, they open themselves to critique. What experience does he have? Why should I listen to him? Etc.

So this is not advice. These are just things that may or may not be helpful as you try to navigate the world of blogging. Do what you want with them.

Now that that is out-of-the-way, at some point in my relatively short blogging career, I started getting questions from would-be bloggers. Friends and family with whom I am Facebook friends notice that I post something new everyday, so naturally, I must be an authority on blogging. I’m not. I just do it. But since doing it is probably what makes you an authority, I’m going to try to answer their questions here.

Where should I start my blog?

There are probably a lot of places that host blogs for free, but I only have experience with two: Blogspot and WordPress. I chose to start my blog at WordPress. Why? Because bloggers that I knew told me that it was better, and now that I’ve been using it a while, I can tell you that it is very easy to use.

How often should I write on my blog?

This might be a trick question. If you are trying to develop your career as a writer of novels, perhaps a blog will only steal your time and creative energy and you should avoid it like a rabid badger. If you want your blog to be your creative outlet and you want people to actually read it, you should blog everyday. But really, the most important thing is that, however often you post, you do it consistently and you post something worthwhile.

What should I write about?

It doesn’t really matter what topic you choose to write about. There’s a reader for every topic. But I would urge you to write about things for which you have a passion. If you bore yourself with your own writing, you will bore everyone. If your writing energizes you, your passion will come through. Yes, this even works on autobiographical blogs, narcissistic though they are (ahem, Josh Mosey). Also, if you are having trouble thinking of something to write, pick a thing from this convenient list.

How do I get readers to my blog?

Post links on your Facebook page. Read and comment on other blogs. Above all else, write content worth reading and be patient. If people are willing to give you a few moments of their time, don’t squander it with bad content. They’ll be back and they’ll tell their friends about you.

Follow these basic guidelines and you’ll be fine. Good luck!

Sometimes the Bible is Really Funny.

Michelangelo's Zechariah (Sistine Chapel)

Michelangelo’s Zechariah (Sistine Chapel)

Presented without comment.

Zechariah 5:5-8 (NIV)

Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.”

I asked, “What is it?”

He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.”

Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.

10 things to like about this horrible, neverending winter


I’m done with winter. If you are honest with yourself, you probably are too. But winter is being a cold [expletive] and long overstaying its welcome.

But since there is precious little we can do about it, here are ten things to like about this winter:

  1. dog_w_snowmanYou can make as many snowmen as you want. At no other time in the year is this an option. You are limited only by your receptiveness to frostbite.
  2. You never have to run out of ice for beverages. It is everywhere you look. Just take a hatchet and get some.
  3. Is your freezer broken? Nature’s isn’t.
  4. Snow, ice, and cold temperatures makes hot cocoa, tea, and coffee taste a billion times better.
  5. You have a valid reason for being late to anything.
  6. When is the next time you need to mow your lawn? Not for months and months.
  7. Get plenty of exercise shoveling snow. You know, if you like exercise, that is.
  8. You can save a bundle on air conditioning bills (let’s just forget about the heating bills for the moment).
  9. Introverts have the perfect excuse to not leave their homes.
  10. You can add a plow to any vehicle you own and make as much money as you can handle.

There you go. That’s all I’ve got.

Hopefully we’ll all make it through this to complain about the rainy spring and summer that will be too hot.

(Can you imagine a summer that is too hot right now? Me neither.)