The First Day of You-Know-When, Plus an Accidental Tradition…

How’s your week been so far? It’s been kinda hot here. And I just looked over my archives and realized I’m about to embark on a strange tradition I’d accidentally started last year.

Let’s get to it.

That tradition revolves around the fact that today is…

The first day of summer. 

The weather is beautiful (and I’ll be out in it today, mowing and soaking up some sun).

The birds are singing (even doves, I just love it…but we also have robins and a cardinal or two).

Summer is about trying to break a bad habit of mine…more of a pattern really.

For me, summer is about trying to push negative thoughts out of my brain. Not to be a downer, but there are sometimes that summer fills me with regret over what I haven’t accomplished yet (which I know deep down does nobody any good).

You can read more about that in Why I Hate Summer. It has nothing to do with the season.

And I’m looking to break out.

I’m going to be doing more though. A prospect of mine who needed a writer put me through a four-figure copywriting course for free. Finished that yesterday. I want to use that knowledge to write for him and his clients. I hope to be doing that this summer. I think about 10 hours, probably more at the beginning, per week should cover that. I’ll also be doing script writing for the client I got connected to a couple months ago now.

I want to get on the fiction train–except for the little bit I do for Triple F for you, I haven’t been with it as much as I should have…which means I should just repeat Today’s the First Day of Summer and a Story about Girls in Water again. But I already did that, when I reread it.

In fact, one of my first summer activities is going to start tomorrow. I’ll tell you about it after it happens, so stay tuned.

And…I’m saying this to you, but I’m saying it about 50 more times to myself, who I put at the top of the need-to-know list…always, always, always keep your dreams.

They’re usually about impact, because that’s what’s on the other side of money, power, and what-have-ya that most people say they want more than anything.

Until next time,


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I Knew They Needed Another Option, So I Did This…

How’s it going? Last post, I mentioned how I’d tell you about everything else that came out over the Russian project. That time is now.

Let’s get to it.

So after I figured out that the project to digitize the poems turned out to be digitizing handwritten Russian poems, I kinda went on an online rampage to figure out if I could do anything (since I don’t read Russian).

I looked at free file conversion services, but the format I was given for one of the scans gave me a picture instead of text. I looked at paid transcription-type software, but those were pretty expensive (we’ll be coming back to that later).

So, after asking around and wondering what to do for a long time, I hopped on to a writer’s group I’m a member of on Facebook. I told them the situation. And it actually worked. Within about a day and a half, I had two people say they were interested in learning more, and another one tell me that she had translators in her own writer’s group.

I got those results together, and passed them on to my friend. And remember those software programs I vaguely mentioned before? I passed links to those on to my friend, too. I figured if his friend could scan the poems in, he could take one more step with the software and do that himself. It eliminated me from the project (as well as my possibility of getting paid), but I didn’t care–I wanted to make sure he got help.

That’s my whole point here.

If you can’t do something, find someone else to do it, if you can. Your clients may thank you, and remember you, too.

Besides that, something that really clinched it for me was remembering that my friend asked me if I was interested in working on this project, and I discovered by going through all this that I really wasn’t.

Until next time,


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If You’re Going to Turn Down a Project, Don’t Do This…

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty restful–no shopping or comics to speak of, though. This week will be another short one, because I’m getting to share in someone else’s happy occasion (which I may or may not talk about).

Anyway, let’s get to it.

A friend of mine offered me a project about a week and a half ago. This guy is actually my dad’s friend, and he’s been my friend too for about 20 years or more, so we go back a long way.

This project involved a friend of his who had a client whose dad left him some poems he wanted to get digitized. Hmm, it didn’t seem too, too bad at first.

Until my friend told me they were in Russian.

And I’m pretty sure he knows that I don’t read Russian. I got sent a sample scan, only to find out that these pages were handwritten…by someone I couldn’t communicate with.

And my brain short-circuited.

I was caught between friend mode and client mode, and it didn’t end well for my sanity. So I spent days scouring the internet (only about 30 minutes a day), knocking myself out to try to figure out any solution to this thing.

Thing is, if this friend of mine would have been a stranger, I would have immediately turned down the project, no questions, no problem.

It took me way longer than normal to realize that I couldn’t do this project, and would have to let it go.

I’ll probably draw a bunch of things out of this, either now or later, but just in case it’s not soon, remember…do your best to separate your relationship with someone and/or their opinion of you from a project you’re doing.

Stick around for tomorrow–I’ll tell you how things turned out overall.

Until next time,


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Triple F: It’s Done…

Hope your week’s gone well. Let’s get to it for today.

I forgot to mention that the Internet finally got fixed last Wednesday–ending about a month of mystified frustration.

It turns out our router’s address and the address the internet people had on file were different for some reason, which meant they kept missing each other and couldn’t communicate correctly.

So that’s fixed, which is awesome.

Which is what I’d like to use for inspiration (getting a solution, not getting fixed).

For this week’s Triple F, aka Fabulous Fiction Friday, your prompt is:

Your character has a complex problem fixed by a simple solution.

In my world, sometimes vague = opportunity. We’ve got one plot point, and nothing else–so gender, backstory, conflict, and what-have-ya will all be up to you.

You’d also have to figure out WHO fixes this problem. It could be your character, or someone (or something) else entirely. And me being me, I wasn’t thinking about stuff like light bulbs or loose wiring (although you’re welcome to do that).

Something like:

The warp drive on Selene’s spaceship is jammed. The diagnostics are running fine…until she realizes that space goo has cooled down one of the nodes in the diagnostics transmitter, causing a faulty reading. A couple twists of her heated drill, and the goo is gone. You’d have to put conflict and a bigger problem around that–maybe she’s frantically running diagnostics because she’s being chased by space pirates after her cargo–who happens to be an interdimensional being skilled in alchemy, or something.

Or maybe the matter transporter in Colin’s 41st century office building isn’t working, and people are ending up merged with pens and printers by accident. Maybe something’s in the teleporter with them, or puts something in there–like a 68th century equivalent of a gremlin or what-have-ya?

All right, that’s enough to get the mental snowball rolling.

June 2017 has one more week in it.

Make it a great weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),


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The Copywriting Superpower My Brother Probably Already Knows He Has…

How’s your week been? It’s still super hot here, at least for now.

Let’s get to it.

This is a bit of a continuation from yesterday, to be honest. I thought of another important aspect of my brother’s personality. I think if you can adopt it too, it’ll help you get miles ahead in your fiction writing and copywriting.

My brother does this thing (it’s mostly for gags and to kinda torture me, if I’m the subject) where he turns this innocent-sounding thing into the most horrific thing you can imagine with just a few tweaks.

And it usually starts with knowledge of his subject (in this case, me, but he does it for almost everyone he knows well).

It goes a little like this:

I mention a great conversation I read inside a Facebook group, or something like that. I’m trying to catch myself doing this and not do it, but I happened to mention the hair color of the original poster.

And he says, “Thank God she wasn’t blonde?”

Sigh…you can read more about that one on Why Do You Hate Blondes?

That’s usually how it starts–my brother supplies conclusions or thoughts based on where he thinks people could go in their thought processes. That’s also why he has to know a lot about people before he does this type of thing (which he actually talked about in his own blog post, which he called “Shamanism in the Workplace“).

Very cool to watch when he does it, but hard to endure (you can trust me on that one–or maybe we could do a Facebook Live together and rule the Entire-Net with a live demo or three, I dunno).

As you can see, this is more than coming at an idea from more than one angle–that’s how it starts. This is actually supplying the direction for the conversation itself.

It’s this weird, funny blob of conversation, which gets you to laugh, and then think, and they by the time you realize it, you’ve learned something and it’s too late to go back.

That’s just like writing itself. If you can get someone’s mind to open, and think differently about their circumstances, problems, or what-have-ya, you’ll be on your way to helping them out.

Or getting them to step further into your fictional world to entertain them…so they can eagerly anticipate reading more of your work later.

Tomorrow is Triple F, be sure to stop by.

Until next time,


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I Couldn’t Believe His Answer to This…

How’s your week been going so far? It’s going to be another hot one here, or it will be soon.

Let’s get to it.

After my brother told me a pretty funny story (which I may save for the subject of another post), I remembered something else he said that I thought was pretty funny.

I actually remembered this in the shower (which is why all marketing departments should install one–or at least make it so that their creative employees can put warm water and/or steam over their heads to stimulate brain activity–just my opinion).

Anyway, we were horsing around one time and he fake-shot me with a finger gun or something (this was years ago).

And I said, “What? You’d kill your own brother?”

His answer? “It depends.”

After being shocked/amused about this for quite a long while (and making him endure more than a few repeats of it just to attempt to make him miserable), I finally asked him why he’d said that.

“You didn’t say if it was an accident, or if there was a zombie apocalypse.”

Hmm. Okay.

That’s really similar to writing itself, actually, whether it’s fiction or copywriting (or both), that you’re into.

If your fictional hero needs to get into the castle, how many different ways are there?





Sneaking in the side door?

It’d depend on the universe you’ve built around the hero and castle. Maybe they let him walk in just to ambush him. Or because he planted a sun seed 3 1/2 years earlier, on the twelfth night of summer, the seed sprouts and breaks the castle wall open, or what-have-ya.

If you’re writing email copy or something else, a product or service has many different features that have many different benefits for the consumer…and you can emphasize any number of them, or a combo, to try to get interested prospects to see that buying it and making it part of their life is the only logical choice.

So if you get stuck on an angle for a piece of copy or story, zoom out and see what you’ve got. You might be able to find a solution among all those pieces.

Until next time,


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How Instagram Brought Me Face-to-Face with My Own Advice…

How’s it going so far for you this week? It’s been pretty hot here, and it’s only June…even though it’s been that way for the last 10 years here or so–the hot weather peaks in June and slips down from there, when it never used to do that.

Yesterday was the kind of day where I was sitting at my desk and sweating while I wasn’t moving at all. Whew.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I figured out something would have helped me cut down on a lot of time spent posting last week, and would’ve been a lot more fun, too.

And it’s so simple, you can use it today, most likely.

Here’s how it went:

I mentioned yesterday that I’d been posting to Instagram a lot in the past week, because of a challenge inside a Facebook group, which meant I had to meme and post a lot more than I normally do (I usually try to update Instagram 2-3 times a week, with simple stuff).

I made a post a while back where I talked about repurposing content–it’s actually on Instagram too–the one with the typewriter background.

So there was no need to wrack my brain like I was for ideas about what to post.

I tried to spin things so they’d be a little bit different, sure, but everything I needed stood right there in front of me and waved.

And since Instagram is so compact, I’ll probably be able to split each bigger idea I have into a bunch of smaller ones.

That’s also why I’ve been toying with setting aside one day a week to do a redux of a past post here at Fiction and Copy Decoded. I think WordPress only shows about 10 or 20 per page, or what-have-ya. Which means over 480 posts would be kept out of sight if you’re browsing the blog here (follows are definitely encouraged for that reason alone).

Anyway, if you’re stuck for a tweet, piece of a character sketch, email subject line, or what-have-ya, take a trip back through what you’ve done so far. You’ll come across old ideas you can dust off, and I’m sure you’ll come up with new ones too.

What do you think about repurposing? Drop me a line in the comments.

Until next time,


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What I Learned from Being Thrown into the Meme Fire…

How was your weekend? I’ve been learning a lot about Instagram over the past week or so, and it’s been fun. Not that I haven’t learned a lot since starting up my account (that could cover several posts, to be sure).

Let’s get to it for today.

In a Facebook group I’m a part of, they had kind of an Instagram bootcamp (which is part of what I’ve been up to this past week).

One of the assignments was to make a meme and post it. Okay, fine. Which was followed by another meme (or that’s how I interpreted that). I’d never really done this before, but it wasn’t too bad.

The next set up was to have 9 pre-scheduled posts done–AFTER doing a bit of research.

I found that out late, late on Saturday night, and I was so brain dead I would’ve never pulled it off in a century.

So after Sunday’s yard work, I had to get going on it…which leads me to my point:

I need to concentrate on speed sometimes.

More, more, more. Yes, do the research, and yes, edit too. But I also realized I’d never get everything done in time if I agonized over every little thing (although I did catch a wrong word in one of the memes–and it didn’t have very many to begin with).

I’m naturally a very creative person, but given enough time, sometimes I’ll talk myself out of something or get paralyzed by any number of things (the scope of the project, the tasks involved that I’m not familiar with, or what-have-ya).

It may be a bit tougher for me because I’m super detailed and methodical about almost everything in life. Which from the outside can mean I’m slow to get things done.

In the end, I realized I had to get inspiration, tap into it fast, and just do it. And it did me good to look at funny stuff for a few hours.

There’s time for toe-dipping…but there’s also some times, and some challenges, you have to take a flying leap into the deep end and do your best.

And of course, that works for fiction, emails, and anything else you care to write…whether you’ve tackled that type of project before, or not.

Until next time,


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Triple F: Anything but Rubber…

Hey, how’s the week been for you?

Today is Triple F, Fabulous Fiction Friday, and a writing prompt for you (likely based on something that happened in my life this week, that I’ll try to spin into something funny or scary…or something).

So for this week, your prompt is:

Your characters drive everything on tires not made from rubber.

I needed a break and a bit of a laugh, obviously. All right, now we fiction. Almost anything in a story feeds off of everything else, which is why any one point can be the start for a story.

Let’s say in Amber’s world, rubber is scarce, and she has to drive cars with doughnuts instead of tires. They get her to where she needs to go, and that’s all we need to know…or is it? Did the sun have to be modified scientifically, magically, or otherwise to make it so that doughnut tires would be viable? (And I love doughnuts, by the way.) If Amber’s tires break, what can she do about it? Have stores like Colossal Doughnuts r’ Us sprung up to fill this need in the market? There’s a whole universe here, just based on that tiny sentence at the beginning.

Or how about Justin, who drives his truck on pop bottles turned sideways? What are they filled with to hold all that weight? (It better not be pop, let me tell you.) Do the bottles still have the caps, and if so, how does Justin make sure everything is still air-tight? Or does he just not care?

All right, that’s enough to get the mental snowball a-rollin’.

June 2017 is about 1/3 of the way gone.

Make it a great weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),


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A Blown Tire Tube, and Your Writing…

How’s it going? I said I was out longer than I expected yesterday, running errands. And I decided, as Supremo Being Thing (at least as far as Fiction and Copy Decoded’s concerned), the day for that post would be today.

Let’s get to it.

The riding lawn mower had a leaky tire. Not many other ways to say that. Thought it was the stem, because that’s where it seemed to be leaking from.

So, I had to get that checked out. Enter stage left, the local Farm and Fleet.

I’ve actually been there quite a lot for different things over the years, but that’s beside our point for today.

They have a rigamarole over there that makes it so that people have to get work orders before people get tires worked on, so we had to get one of those.

Off to stand in front of another desk. A couple people helped me, and the girl asked the guy how to mark the work order.

I heard him say “Mark it as a lawn tire so they know it doesn’t have to be balanced or rotated” (or thereabouts–this information will be useful later).

So she did that, told me about what the signatures meant, and blah blah. Okay.

The guy at the desk said if just the stem was the problem, it would be $5. If it was the tube inside, it’d be more, something like $10 (don’t remember the number, and it is hard to estimate without all the facts, to be fair).

Well, the whole shebang cost $32.45, and took about 90 minutes. They had to yank the tube out of the tire and replace it, but the kicker was…

The work order told them that the tire had to be rotated.

I have no idea what was what, and I’m not blaming anyone. Any teeny misreading or mis-clickage could have caused a problem like that. I was just confused because I knew the girl was being extremely careful to get everything lined up correctly.

Oh, and I didn’t think it’d be so expensive–remember folks, always bring more dough/have more $ in your account of choice that you think something’s going to cost.

I was also shocked at how wrong I’d been about almost everything, based on what actually happened, and what I’d expected would happen.

That’s also my other point–sometimes things don’t go according to plan–or not even close to it.

I couldn’t do much about this type of thing with a tire, but there are other things you can do if you’re writing for clients or yourself, including:

Getting someone else who’s more experienced than you to look it over. This may cost dough, and ideally it’s better done before you turn in anything or publish your fiction through Amazon, or what-have-ya.

Do a partial rewrite if you can isolate where things went south (this is easier for a set of short emails than a 10,000 word story, to an extent).

Or, throw everything out, and start over with the bare bones of the research you gathered up. This is a pain, but still may need to be done from time to time.

So that was the tire adventure, pretty much. The good part is, now the lawn won’t look wildly uneven after it’s mowed.

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to swing by.

Until next time,


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