Saturday Photo Prompt | Stumbling into the wrong part of town

jmspp_logoLook at the picture below and write a 100 word story. It really is that simple.

If you care to share, either post a link to your story in the comments, or post the whole story.

I can’t wait to see what you write!

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Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. How old is Sci-Fi? Older than I realized.
  2. Are Christian bookstores going to be the death of Christian books? This author thinks so.
  3. Here’s a video that lends new meaning to the phrase “as easy as riding a bike.”
  4. I know of at least one children’s summer reading program in my area that is starting soon. And research shows that kids who get their noses in books of their own choosing avoid the summer slide (where they forget how to learn stuff over the summer).
  5. My wife and I were just talking about the relationship between a person’s hire-ability and their level of education. Google hasn’t found much of a correlation in their own hiring processes. What do you think?


Edward Gorey Lives!

4_writers_goreyI haven’t talked about Edward Gorey much on my blog (except for here and here). I apologize for that. It was a terrible oversight and I aim to remedy that right now.

Gorey was a brilliant author and artist, well known for his abecedaries, his limericks, his crosshatched illustrations, and his morbid sense of humor. He was a genius and I’d count him among my influences (should I someday write something worth reading and become famous, this will save critics some time in deciding who my influences were).

Unfortunately, he died. That keeps happening to my favorite authors.

And yet, he lives again! Well, after a fashion.

Thank you, College Humor for bringing Gorey back to life through Death himself. Beautiful.

Icebreaker #15 | What was your favorite subject in school?

This is the fifteenth and final installment of my Icebreaker series. Find your backpack and cram your Trapper Keeper inside!

What was your favorite subject in school?

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.

You may already know that I was king of the band geeks in high school. It would stand to reason that music classes would have been my favorite. And I think if I were to answer this question in high school, I would have agreed.

Looking back now though, I think my favorite subject in high school was English, specifically AP Literature and AP Composition. And it turns out, those are the subjects that have impacted me most.

I mean, I worked for a bookstore for ten years because I love books. I write daily on this blog of mine. I have aspirations of being published in a variety of forms. And I work for a publisher, albeit in the marketing department.

You know the last time I played my trombone? Me neither. Now, I don’t regret taking any of the music classes that I took, and at one time I considered becoming a band teacher (but let’s be honest—I’m glad that I don’t have to listen to junior high or high school students learn how to play the clarinet).

My favorite subject is still related to reading and writing.

How about you? What is yours?

Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn’t a real colonel, but he did shoot a guy one time.

It is funny sometimes how disconnected a person can become from their image. Not too long ago, I discovered the man behind the logo of KFC, Colonel Sanders, was very different from what I expected.

Go read this article from a few years ago and discover it for yourself.

If you don’t want to bother with reading the linked article, let me sum it up for you. The image of Colonel Sanders as a kindly Southern gentleman who makes delicious chicken when he isn’t busy smiling is only a little bit true. He was from the south and he made chicken, but that is certainly not the full story.

Harlan Sanders ran a gas station in Kentucky and had a bit of a feud with a rival gas station owner in town. As he was in the middle of a meeting with his supervisors, the rival started painting over Sanders’ sign. That led to an armed confrontation and one of the Colonel’s supervisors ended up dead, while Sanders shot his rival in the shoulder.

Apparently, Harlan Sanders was no stranger to confrontations. His tenacity and opportunism made as many friends as it did enemies, even within the ranks of KFC, the successful chain of fried chicken restaurants that he founded. But that isn’t the image that they sell on the side of the chicken buckets.

What do people see when they look at you? How far removed is that from the truth?

I am not obsessed with rejection, but…


I found myself on the other side of the desk this week.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how uncomfortable it is to wait for rejection/acceptance after submitting a piece of your writing. And then when I got a rejection from one of the publishers, I wrote a piece about how rejection ultimately makes us stronger as writers and as people. I don’t mean to harp on this theme, but I got a chance this week to be the one dashing other people’s dreams.

Here’s the scenario:

I am the marketing manager at a relatively small book publisher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since I work in marketing and not editorial, I have a limited voice in deciding which books are published and which are not. What I do have power over is deciding what to do when people ask for review copies of our products. Asking for a review copy is essentially the same thing as asking the publisher for free stuff.

The purpose of a review copy is for an organization or an institute of higher learning or some member of the press to give some publicity to the product in exchange for getting the product for free. I would guess that a lot of review copy requests get approved, but the cost of a book is a cheap price to pay for the potential that a good review can have on that book’s sales.

But this week, I received a request for a review copy and I don’t feel right about sending free products. For one thing, the request had spelling errors, which I think reflects negatively on the ability of sender to produce the type of review that will entice others to buy our stuff. And the other reason that I am disinclined to send free stuff is that the organization requesting the materials didn’t have a quality website and the other reviews that were shown there weren’t professional.

Now, I don’t like saying no to people, but for the sake of the products for which I am responsible, I have to. But I don’t have a nice form letter made up to say no without hurting anyone’s feelings. What I do have is a plan.

I’m going to send out a slew of review copy requests to a number of publishers. My blog will be my platform. I review books on here semi-regularly, so it isn’t beyond possibility that a request might be granted. Best of all, I’d be just as happy with a rejection letter as I’d be with actually getting a free product, because the rejection letter would give me ideas on how to reject such requests tactfully.

I’m making a list now of stuff that I want. I’ll keep you posted about how the requests turn out.

What is the nicest rejection letter you ever got?

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. New insights into the origin of the the Viking Age. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Viking links.
  2. Real recipes for fictional food. Ever wanted to a cold mug of Butterbeer from Harry Potter’s world? Make your own!
  3. Good news for people who want industrialists to stop messing up Earth! Now we can deplete the moon’s resources!
  4. What if the face of Shakespeare was hiding on a book about botany this whole time?
  5. Giraffes sleep even less than I did in college. Here’s what they look like.


100 Word Story | Remember that time?


“Remember the time I asked you to the Harvest Ball and you told me you’d rather go with my prize-winning pig?”

I nodded.

“I said that the pig already got his prize…”

“and that I was all yours,” I finished for him.

“I got you in the end, didn’t I Margery?”

My name is Janet, but I don’t tell him tonight.

“Every time,” I smiled.

Mr. Lowenstein lost his farm a few years back when his health started to fade. His Margery has been gone for years.

“It’s time for your meds, dear,” I coax.

“I know, Janet. I know.”

Icebreaker #14 | If a genie gave you one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for?

This is the fourteenth installment of my Icebreaker series. Grab a tarnished lamp and a polishing cloth.

If a genie gave you one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for?

My wife, DeAnne, loves lists. She actually gets giddy when things can be categorized and checked off. She’s a fantastic organizer, which is perfect for me, because I am chaos incarnate. But when it comes to birthday lists, she can’t think of things that she wants. She’s probably too selfless to focus on such things.

She’s better than me. That’s all there is to it.

DSC02233Me, I can write list after list of stuff that I want. Books, Lego sets, CDs, video games, time to enjoy all of these things. Limiting my selfishness to one wish is hard.

Here’s what I have:

I wish I could go back in time to my childhood with all of the knowledge that I have now.

Here’s my reasoning:

  • For all of the things that have worked out wonderfully in my life thus far (being married to a wonderful wife, having beautiful kids, being successfully employed at a job I enjoy), I would be able to weather the storms of adolescence with the knowledge that things will be fine.
  • For the things that have not worked out wonderfully, if I retain my current knowledge, I would be able to make better choices without losing the opportunities to learn from my mistakes (since I still would have made them the first time around).
  • For the rest of it, school would be easier the second time through, I’m sure I would be a more obedient child since I know what it is like to have kids of my own, and I’d probably clean up in the stock market by investing early into Google.

What would you wish for?