What Virtual “Welcome Back” Gifts Can Teach You about Business

How was your weekend? Mine was good, and I know I’ve been off the blog for awhile, that’s for sure, and I’ll be slipping in details about my Missouri trip (or parts of it) throughout the next week or so.

Today I want to talk about something interesting that happened to me when I got back.

Let’s get to it.

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to being an editor and writer, I’m also a gamer. And since I was in a place with sketchy internet for the most part, that meant skipping gaming entirely (something I actually did not die from, I know).

When I got back, I found out a couple of the games gave me gifts to welcome me back–just gold, gems, or what-have-ya. Stuff I could get on my own, for sure, but it was still appreciated (and it works on the same principle as what I call “the apology gift,” which is usually given out for after glitches and bugs get fixed, because everyone’s been inconvenienced by something).

The thing about these gifts is, it costs the company/developer/who-have-ya nothing to create–just a little programming here and there, and bam, a little something special for subscribers and other people they value.

The point here is that marketers can do this too–even fiction writers can. Things like ebooks, audio files, cheat sheets, and more can go a long way to bringing people into your world, and keeping them there.

And they don’t take that long to create (as long as you don’t play me and stress about every aspect of it).

Until next time,


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Siding, Papery Junk, and Your Writing?

How’s it going? Ran into something a little bit different today that sparked some thoughts…the landlord. This’ll be a short post, by the way.

Let’s get to it.

And no, not literally running into. He’s getting new siding put on the house, and he told me the roofers found some kind of papery junk underneath the siding that had been there before, so they’re just going to throw it away, and start over fresh.

Sometimes in writing it’s the same. If you’re not being hard on yourself unnecessarily, stuff you write is going to be junk. Or will sound like it when you go back over it later.

Other times you can salvage a character here, or a snippet of dialogue there (which is why I’m an advocate of not deleting stuff out of memory or hard drive).

(That’s also why I have a love-hate relationship with revision–I love it, hate it, and sometimes love to hate it.)

Remember to look into things as deeply as you can–you just might find paper where you thought there was substance.

Until next time,


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Beans, Coughing, and a Bit of a Surprise…

How was your weekend? Mine was restful–lots of chilling out and recuperating (and coughing a lot–but that’s another story for another day).

Anyway, let’s get to it.

October is barely underway to speak of (the 1st was yesterday). So this isn’t quite a first-or-last-day-of-month post, but that’s okay.

The month is still full of possibility and potential inner reflection either way, am I right? It’s getting dark earlier, and a lot of the beans across the road have been picked already (I can still see some, but a large part of the field is just neat lines where beans used to be).

I haven’t done this too many times before (almost none that I can remember), but due to totally foreseen circumstances, I’ll be moving Triple F up to today.

So you get an early-month blog from me and a prompt, too. All right, so your early prompt for this week is:

Your character has to go without food for one day. What happens?

Other than gender and backstory, you’ll have to slip in why the character is going without food for a day. It could be to protest something, or because they told themselves they were going to go shopping and forgot, or what-have-ya. As long as it trots your plot forward, the reason itself can be almost anything.

Desmond was sure he had his car key in his pocket, and locked his car door in the driveway, only to see that the keys had fallen on the floor, under the passenger seat. And the windows are up. Then he remembered he was supposed to get the extra key made, and he didn’t. He’d only just puttered home, hoping to find a full gas can, but he came up dry. The locksmith won’t come for a day, he’s got almost no neighbors, and he’s too tired to walk to town.

Or maybe Carmen thinks she has food in the house, only to figure out that she has a tablespoon of flour and a little salt. Her car’s in the shop, her friends are at a party with zero cell reception, and she can’t get a taxi. (Maybe she’s near Desmond’s house.)

Of course, you can help your characters figure a way out of this, so this doesn’t happen. That’s totally up to you.

Make it a great October 2017, even though it’s not the weekend just yet.

Until next time,


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Triple F: Everything Was the Same But This…

How’s it going? The weekend’s almost here, and so is October. But we still have a bit to squeeze out of September, though.

Let’s get to it.

Today is Triple F, which means a prompt for you as Fabulous Fiction Friday. Which also means I have to think about it. And something struck me, that at least in my own life, a lot of it is doing the same things over and over again.

Maybe you can relate?

Anyway, your prompt for this week is:

The same thing happens to your character two days in a row, but one detail is different.

All right–you’ll put in the backstory, gender, and what-have-ya. You’ll also have to pick out what the different detail is and why that matters to the rest of the story.

Let’s take Colin. He goes to work every day, but he has to catch the bus. If the bus is late, that impacts him, for sure. How late is the bus? Is the bus broken down? Is Colin in a small town with only three buses in the fleet? What if the bus is late because the driver is depressed, or some other serious issue? You could even tell the story from the driver’s perspective instead.

Or Lily. Maybe she is at work and realizes she forgot to lock the door on her apartment–but there’s almost nothing in there that anybody would want. And then she returns home to find…you’ll have to figure that one out. A stray dog, an ex-boyfriend, what-have-ya.

That’s enough to get the mental snowball rolling, I think.

September 2017 is just about in the history books–tomorrow is the last day. Monday will be October 2nd.

And make it a great weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week and month),


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My Brother and a Hard-to-Start Piece of Fiction Reminded Me of This…

How’s it going?

Let’s get to it.

With all the prompts I do, with the book I’ve written about ideas, and all the posts I read on Facebook every day, you want to know a secret?

Sometimes I still get stuck for ideas.

That may be hard to believe. And whether it’s for fiction or emails (or other types of writing), we can still get stuck.

All that was crystal clear to me after I tried and failed to start a piece of superhero fiction (#2 of the two I agreed to write for free as part of an offer I made to a Facebook group a couple weeks ago).

My brother was riffing and gave me a hilarious idea about hoboes that I’m going to use in the story.

The story I tried to start, but kept flopping at. Inspiration is everywhere (and usually from everyone).

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to stop by.

Until next time,


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A Strange Feeling Happened When This Happened…

How’s it going? I wanted to talk about something that had been kinda bugging me about my writing and about myself for a long time, even though I know I’ve mentioned it before, in one form or another.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

The other day, I left my computer out with one of the posts from this blog on it. And someone read it out loud, just for fun.

And I didn’t like it all.

The whole pattern, rhythm, and everything just sounded off.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or a bit of perfectionism inside that I still need to stamp out, or what-have-ya, but things seemed kinda horrible.

But I’m still working on being a better writer, regardless. And maybe I’m too hard on myself.

Does that ever happen to you, where you feel weird when someone reads your work out loud?

Until next time,



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I Never Expected Her to Say This, For Sure…

How’s it going? Last post, I said I’d mention something surprising that my cousin said to me before we left her wedding reception. This won’t be a long post–mostly because I still don’t know what to think of it.

Let’s get to it.

After the hug goodbye, Samantha said something to the effect of:

“I love your encouraging stuff on Facebook. You should keep doing that.”

(Statement subject to doubt because it’s difficult for me to hear over music sometimes.)

But I think that’s more or less what it was.

And I’m still a little shocked by it.

It’s a strange thing for me, to be honest. As writers, we want people to enjoy what we write, which means they have to read it, and then get something out of it.

But for some reason, it’s still a shocker to me when someone I know admits they’ve read something I’ve written.

And I have no clue why that is. Maybe it’s because I think of my writing as something for “other people,” like people who I know personally would never read anything (when they probably read all the time).

Maybe you feel something similar with your writing and people you know? Drop me a line in the comments–I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,


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Fiction File: That Time I Was Part of Someone Else’s Story…

How was your weekend? I actually spent most of mine in a hotel, because I was hanging out waiting for, traveling to, and celebrating at…

My cousin’s wedding.

I decided to make this post a Fiction File, just for you fiction writers out there, but if you write emails, sales letters, or what-have-ya, you can read it, too…if you want to give this post some attention, I’m not going to stop you.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I won’t go into a blow by blow of the entire thing…it was a wedding, and a church and minister were definitely involved. But I will say that there were some parts that were interesting to me, which I’ll try to explain in the order they happened.

Number one was playing “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri on the roll of songs while the guests were taking their seats and it wasn’t time to start. I really like that song a lot–and it’s also emotionally impactful for me, which meant I spent about the first half of the ceremony trying to restrain myself from crying like a stuck pig.

During the time the groomsmen and bridesmaids filed in, they played the Pachelbel Canon, which is one of my favorite classical tunes ever.

The minister went through some Bible verses, of course, and then things got interesting. To prep for marriage, one of the following was involved:

A) One sixteen-hour Bible course, over the course of four weeks

B) Sixteen hours of Bible courses per week, for four weeks

I’m thinking it was A), but the preacher was throwing so many numbers around, I got a bit lost.

My cousin and her fiance had to go through multi-hour pre-marriage counseling seminar(s) (and if the preacher didn’t know exactly how many hours, I knew I had no chance to figure that one out).

After another Scripture or two, the minister had the bride and groom tie a fisherman’s knot together. I actually didn’t see this part–all I knew was something was happening, and then all I could see was the bride and groom holding the rope at each end. (As a short guy, sitting down, especially in back of people taller than I am, doesn’t do me too many favors.) I’m guessing I didn’t pick out where to look until the cool part was over.

This is the only wedding I’ve ever been to that included tying a literal knot.

After the ceremony, the groom forgot the official first kiss until they were about one third of the way down the center aisle. (It’s my opinion he was actually floating, not walking, with my cousin down that aisle.)

And after everyone started filing out, I couldn’t figure out where people kept disappearing to, because they weren’t going down the sides of the church. That’s when I remembered we were having the reception at another place, and they were headed to a place known as…

The outside.

Yeah, I was really on it that day, I know.

Then came the short drive to the reception itself (another first for me, to have a reception that was more than a couple minutes away).

Inside the reception hall, they got a barn fan going eventually, because Wisconsin was having record heat for September (something like 92 or 93 degrees), which no one could have planned for.

I also spent a couple minutes searching for my name thing at the front to find my seat…only to realize that I was actually seated near the head table with all the relatives who had been invited. It was an aunt who managed to pull me off the search.

The background music during dinner was super-soft, and a lot of it was wordless piano and violin stuff.

It was after the speeches that mentioned about how thankful different people were to have been invited to be a part of things, or to have a hand in the planning of the special day that I realized…

A wedding is a story, or a chapter in a bigger story.

It’s just that the guests are characters who get introduced a little later than the main characters (the bride and groom in this case), although some characters (like the moms and dads) show up again later, even though they were there before.

Sometimes characters are made for a story, or you as the writer just introduce them into something and see how things go based on the background you’ve created for them.

I think this was more of an introduction-type thing.

So for me, as a character in this whole story, things like:

— What I would eat and wear

— Where we would need to be, and at what time

— Where I’d be sitting, and who I’d be sitting next to

— What music would play in the background

— And so on…

Were all pre-arranged–a setting, story, and character list carefully planned out by someone else.

The only difference being real people were in it and enjoying all of it, instead of characters on the page.

Then again, it’s really the same with any good story. Readers should (ideally) be involved in the story itself too, because they’re drawn in to the action or characters and want to see what happens.

And a big congrats to Tyler and Samantha Schwoerer (a name I finally got the correct pronunciation of after about six months of not getting it).

I’m thankful I got to be part of your story, even if it was just for a page or two.

Until next time,


P.S. Right before we left, my cousin Sammy made a comment that surprised me, which I hope to talk about tomorrow.

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Circumstances Collide–How I’m Dealing with What’s Going to Be a Packed Day

How’s it going? Something interesting is happening today that hasn’t really happened in a while, that got me thinking about how I do things in a typical day.

Let’s get to it.

Due to an interesting set of events (which I’ll have to talk about after they happen), I’ll have to do two things on the same day (yard work and running errands/shopping) that I can usually save for different days (because they both take up an entire morning to do).

That’s because I’m at my best in the early morning hours, so that’s when I usually get my work done (even the manual kind, if I can).

For some reason, this situation has caused some weird occurrence in my brain to spur me to get things done or scheduled earlier than I normally would to fit everything else in. I’m the kind of writerly organism that likes to get things done early, or schedule things so I can pace myself and not feel rushed.

That also includes having multiple things going that I can move to so I can switch if I run out of steam on a script, fiction story, or what-have-ya.

This is all because I want to avoid having to stay up late to get my work done.

How do you deal with a packed schedule? Delegation? Up early? Up late? Drop me a line in the comments–I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Until next time,


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Facebook + Actual Books = ???

How’s it going? I watched an interesting short video today from my FB friend Carlos. He usually does pretty interesting videos with a bit of color to his language to be sure, but he gave me lots of ideas, and the more of these things he mentioned that you have laying around, the more ideas you’ll have too.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

He talked about how he gets ideas to put on Facebook. He reads books…but that’s not the whole thing. He reads parts of the books, and then…

if something triggers a thought, even if it’s not based on what’s in the book, he’ll use that idea.

Anyway…how many books do you have lying around? And how many pages are in those books?

All right, get out there and multiply (your writing ideas for blogs, emails, fiction, or what-have-ya, that is).

Until next time,


P.S. For those of you who want to watch the video itself (language is not PG), trundle on over to https://www.facebook.com/carlos.redlich.3/videos/1446100598813890/ (and since I’m not an expert on Facebook stuff, if you aren’t friends with Carlos, you may not be able to access it–hence the snippet above).

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