Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Agent Consult Experience - #WETCon12

I try never to be negative—there’s just so many ways to be positive instead. So I have chosen to relate the positive side of this experience that took place this last weekend at the Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference.

During my original selection process, I had maneuvered through each conference agent’s web site, special interests (business, in my case), access to major publishers (works with major publishing houses, as well as regional publishers that handle niche markets), special notes (looks for projects that present familiar subjects freshly or less-known subjects presented commercially) & ("This agency focuses on adult nonfiction, stresses strong editorial development and refinement before submitting to publishers, and brainstorms ideas with authors.") There was more to the process than the mentions above, but these several stood out above the others. There was also the mention that the agency had sold 35 titles last year alone.

I selected this agent for my consult and responded to the Writers’ League and the deal was set.

I wanted to be as fresh as possible so I had waited until two days ahead of the conference start to do my in-depth research on the selected agent’s web site and supported product. I gathered as much data from the information available and set off to dig in and be as prepared as possible.

I copied the titles from Business, Memoir and Humor and then conducted research on the authors and the title’s plus the author’s position on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sales sites.

In total, I probably spent close to twelve hours reading and lining up notes to study before my consultation. I was prepared.

I studied my pitch and had it down as perfect as I considered necessary—I was positive I was ready for the meeting.

After the conference start, I made sure I attended at least one session that the selected agent sat on the presenting panel. This allowed me to gat that extra-positive feel that I at least had so idea of what to expect when I entered the consult room.

Twenty minutes prior to our meeting, I took the elevator to the seventeenth floor, all the while keeping my eyes on the elevator door—never once looking at the seventeen floor drop that loomed behind me should I somehow encounter a gust of wind that would send me through the glass and tumbling down.

Departing the elevator, I took my seat on murder’s row and awaited my turn. Low and behold, the pitcher preceding me failed to show and I was almost immediately shown into the consult for our ten minute hurrah.

I introduced myself and rolled my pitch as perfectly as I had ever practiced.

Miss Agent responded with one question—almost immediately also: “Where are you working?”

My response, being as upfront as possible: “I’m retired.”

She, again almost immediately, started in on the reasons why she couldn’t take on a business project authored by someone who wasn’t currently working in industry. Her explanation went on for some six or seven minutes. I knew there was not to be an author-agent meeting of the minds—while I was born dumb, I have been getting better ever since.

I’m positive that she never commented once on the quality of my pitch, nor did she ever offer any advice about a different approach. I ask several questions trying to probe her advice on what I had gleamed from other agents and the possibility of different approaches. I’m positive that she had nothing positive to say about the other agents’ advice.

I’m pretty sure that this was my chance to do some talking about my project. I am fairly sure that I spoke no more than a total of one and a half to two minutes out of my allotted ten.

I thanked her for her time, said good bye and departed the room.

I am positive that I am not going to waste much more time in the agent search.

Considering the recurring theme that resounded over and over during the conference, I am positive that I am going to look considerably harder at self-publishing and eBook opportunities.

I am positive that I can do a better job of representing myself than any near sited agent cut off from the reality of the business world and the people within it.

I’m positive.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack—he’s gonna kill me!

There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack—he’s gonna kill me!

Did you ever run across the Pillsbury Doughboy hitch hiking Alaska? Whadda you do when an artillery round lands right beside your G__ D___ tent? What actions can a pair of novice military dads take to not screw up the world of competitive youth soccer on West Point? Have the bad guys infiltrated your inner circle? Just what would you do if a Moose walked into your Guard Shack?

These pressing questions and more business management dilemmas are discussed and recommendations put forth during our travel and tangents on the way to Jack’s House in this nonfiction  business management project detailing real people, real events and real answers and guidance to these and many more situations facing managers and supervisors in their everyday life in the fast lane.

The true life anecdotes detail typical troubles and problems that employees get into, out of  and the situations these problems create. Always stressful, but often humorous to look back on, the troubles can stretch across a wide range of industries when using just the slightest bit of imagination, you will recognize employees and situations familiar to many business endeavors.

Give it a read and improve your organization’s leadership today.

Pitch disclaimer: Absolutely no Vampires, Zombies or Werewolves were harmed during the gathering of material nor the flushing out of the prose during the workup of this project.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hot preparation for Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference #WLTCon12

Every day lately I have been preparing for this weekend’s Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference (#WLTCon12)—no small feat, I’m here to tell you.

This will be my third visit to the conference and each time I attend, I seem to learn more and more about what I need to be doing to get an agent and get one of my books published. As yet, I haven’t wrung the bell at the end of the race, but I believe I get closer and closer each time.

Besides the knowledge I take away from the conference, I meet some real interesting peoples and a few characters here and there. The sessions are very informative and hearing advice from other authors and those much sought after agents is interesting at the least. Now, if I can just turn that into an agent selecting me to work with, I will have met the second goal of this quest.

The primary goal being the writing of the book (now 2). I never imagined I had that in me to begin with. Although I had spent a great deal of time writing letters, procedures, regulations and the such my entire career; I never had to put anything into story format.

Oh, I have been a storyteller all along. The primary difference here being that I likely had somewhat of a captive and interested audience and could tailor the depth and length of each story to match the situation. As a great deal of my stories are of a military nature, the translation factor often comes into play during a monolog and this not-be-the-case when writing for a more general audience.

I do keep looking online for other activity under the conference #hastag but as yet have seen very little.

I am looking forward to Friday and this activity getting kicked off and running with it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Found my favorite Nonfiction Author

Found is probably not the correct word to use. I probably decided the first time I read some of his works or works about him. Near the end of the last account of a portion of his life I came across a quote that has stuck with me and I can’t get it out of my mind—it continues to roam around in there (lots of room available for roaming you realize) and will not exit. It actually woke me up in the middle of the night last night.

Now there’s a couple of what most would classify as fiction writers that I admire for their nonfiction work. The two that come quickest to mind are Mark Twain and Jack London. A great deal of both their work is actually nonfiction disguised as fiction. Nobody reading the works would have believed otherwise.

But, for my money you can not get any better observations of the people and the world they inhabit than those recorded by Theodore Roosevelt. I was taken aback by his phraseology and the real look at those he came into contact with and wrote about.

I offer you these examples (with references):

Roosevelt writing on Leonard Wood, originally his immediate commander in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders): “This was an army surgeon, Dr. Leonard Wood. He had served in General Miles’ inconceivably harassing campaigns against the Apaches, where he displayed such courage that he won that most coveted of distinctions—the Medal of Honor,…the qualities of entire manliness with entire uprightness and cleanliness of character.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 2)

Two of the young Cherokee recruits came to me with a most kindly letter from one of the ladies who had been teaching in the academy from which they were about to graduate … One was on the Academy football team and the other in the glee club. Both were fine young fellows. The football player now lies buried with the other dead who fell in the fight at San Juan. The singer was brought to death’s door by fever, but recovered and came back to his home.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 13)

“we had abundance of men who were utterly unmoved by any antic a horse might commit.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 19)

“The tone of the officers’ mess was very high. Every one seemed to realize that he had undertaken most serious work. They all earnestly wished for a chance to distinguish themselves, and fully appreciated that they ran the risk not merely of death, but of what was infinitely worse—namely, failure at the crisis to perform duty well; and they strove earnestly so to train themselves, and the men under them, as to minimize the possibility of such disgrace.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 24)

Theodore Roosevelt of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry

“No outsider can appreciate the bitterness of the disappointment. … the hardest and most disagreeable duty was to stay. Credit should go with the performance of duty, and not with what is very often the accident of glory.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 31)

“No man was allowed to drop out to help the wounded. … but war is a grim game” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 51)

Waking the morning of the battle he had waited his entire life for, Roosevelt wrote: “It was a very lovely morning, the sky of cloudless blue, while the level shimmering rays from the just-risen sun brought into fine relief the splendid palms which here and there towered above the lower growth. The lofty and beautiful mountains hemmed in the Santiago plain, making it an amphitheatre for the battle.” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 65)

 Detailing his unsupported charge up the Kettle Hill and toward the San Juan blockhouse, Roosevelt wrote of his crowded hour: “I jumped over the wire fence in front of us and started at the double; but as a matter of fact, the troopers were so excited, what with shooting and being shot, and shouting and cheering, that they did not hear, or did not heed me; and after running about a hundred yards I found I had only five men along with me. Bullets were ripping the grass all around us…” - Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 76)

1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders) Regimental Toast: “The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.” Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 69)

Roosevelt writing on Captain William O.(Bucky) O’Neill at Santiago as the regiment was taking Spanish fire: “As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said: “Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.” O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, “Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.” … As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.” Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, 1899, Barnes & Noble edition, 2004, (p. 69)

In an argument with Congressman James E. Watson, the House republican Whip, President Roosevelt, (semi mobile on crutches) meeting to discuss the strike ramifications should the United Mine Workers walk out in October of 1902 and questioned on the Constitution and the seizing of private property “grabbed Watson by the shoulder and shouted, “The Constitution was made for the people and not the people for the Constitution.”” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 165)

On the Monroe Doctrine and Germany, Roosevelt said (of the big stick policy): “power, and the willingness and readiness to use it” would make Germany understand the Monroe Doctrine fully. - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 184)

Continuing on the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt told Sir George Otto Trevelyan, British Diplomat in May 1904: “I had much rather be a real President for three years and a half, than a figurehead for seven years and a half.” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 327)

 White House Portrait

Roosevelt wrote on his discussions with E. H. Harriman, an American Railroad executive: “It tires me to talk to rich men. You expect a man of millions, the head of a great industry, to be a man worth hearing; but as a rule they don’t know anything outside their own businesses.” - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House, 2001, (p. 327)

“I know the American people, “ Roosevelt stated in 1910, “They have a way of erecting a triumphal arch, and after the Conquering Hero has passed beneath it he may expect to receive a shower of bricks on his back at any moment.” – Henry Fairchild Osborn, Impressions of Great Naturalists, New York, 1924, Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, Anchor Books, New York, 2005, (p. 12)

Gathering of Expedition participants prior to setting off down the River of Doubt

I mentioned to Ms. Millard, the author of the last several observations (one above and the one below), when I got her sign another of her books at the Texas Book Festival this past October that she was going to be the reason for my eventual divorce. During the questions and answer segment of the session where she had discussed her latest project, Destiny of the Republic, she had been asked several questions about her Roosevelt and the River of Doubt book and now I had to get it also. Patsy had warned me earlier that if I bought another Teddy Roosevelt book se was gonna leave. Well, Ms. Millard, if divorce comes about, it was your fault—ya made me do it.

But the most poetic and the phrase that I can’t get out of my mind is this statement written by Roosevelt after the killing of one of the camaradas Paishon by the thief and murderer Julio and  Paishon’s subsequent burial: “Then we left him forever under the great trees beside the lonely river.” – Theodore Roosevelt, “Through the Brazilian Wilderness,” p. 308, (p. 293), Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, Anchor Books, New York, 2005, (p. 12)

This seems so final and forever. Did TR realize that the jungle would reclaim the grave quickly or that nobody would ever stumble upon it in the wilds of Amazon Basin for time immemorial? Very few things in our world are never, ever, or forever any more—this act might just be one.

For whatever reason, this has stuck with me and I can’t get rid of it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

We’re Doomed!

According to Roeland van der Marel, we’re doomed. Roeland says that our galaxy, The Milky Way, is gonna collide with the Andromeda Galaxy. This news was just made public the other day on the 31st of May. So just how long have these guys from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore been sitting on this? Why weren’t we told earlier? Ya know, it’s gonna take time to get ready.

Milky Way (left) & Andromeda (right)

Well, at least our side isn’t to blame. It seems that what they call “the long-anticipated smash-up” has been in the works for some time. Remember that Hubble Space Telescope we have in orbit? Ole Hubble has been gathering data on the predicted collision for some time now. But our scientific buddies have thought all along that the sideways cant to the Andromeda Galaxy’s motion might miss completely or just graze the Milky Way.

Just graze us! What the hell does that mean? If Matt Dillon just grazes you, you’re still shot. I don’t wanna be grazed by a galaxy! You don’t think we could expect any help from Matt, do ya? We just might need it.

Matt Dillon (James Arness)

Back to Roeland. He’s kinda a funny gut. His way of alerting us was to state: "This is pretty violent as things go in the universe, It's like a bad car crash in galaxy-land." Is he kidding us—a bad car crash? Give me a break!

I’m not waiting any longer to start getting’ ready. I’m firing off an email to that guy running Spacex—Elon Musk. I wanta know if he has plans for any rockets to be off-Earth at or near the expected collision date. I figure if I’m not attached to the surface, I’m probably better off—just saying, it seams reasonable.

But, I’m not holding my breath and waiting on Spacex to bail me out. I’m thinkin’ bout getting me some saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur and start mixing it up this weekend. Oh, I’ll probably have to horde quite a bit; I figure I gotta stay airborne for some time. I figure the gear I have left over from my Army service in Alaska will be sufficient to keep me warm while airborne; maybe even if I have to go in orbit.

I wonder if there’s room on Air Force One and just how long they can stay up. I’m going with becoming an independent; thinkin’ swing votes will be much more important when the time arrives. Recon who’ll be the President in 4 billion years?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mantique(ing) - The Solution to all Men’s Problems

There is now an official name for the solution to the main problem that has haunted men for centuries. What is that problem you ask? If you have to ask which problem; you obviously haven’t been monitoring your Manship very well. There should be only one problem common to all men. Right? That’s maintaining all your collected (over a lifetime) stuff. Now I can offer you the solution to the maintenance problem.

Mantique! Yep, that’s it; all you ever need to know about keeping, acquiring or trading your stuff. Anything you have squirreled away for the upcoming rainy day, stuff you wanta keep just because it’s good stuff and may need some day, or the stuff your wife wants chunked but you just can’t bring yourself to do so—you know what I mean. The solution to your shortcomings is Mantique. Now you have the perfect reason to hold on to stuff or get rid of it the manly way: sell or trade it just as it was intended to be.

Step #1 is to go out to your store room, closet, garage or whatever and where ever you keep (hoard as it might be) and start cataloging your stuff. Write it all down; piece by piece. Don’t leave anything out; be sure to get it all down. I’ll explain more later why this is important. While you are working this step, just get it cataloged and don’t worry about anything else other than serial numbers and year (approximate year is OK) of the treasure until you have it all recorded. Make two passes if you must; but get it all down.

Step #2 is to organize your list into categories. This will help you immensely in the long run when deciding steps needed to be taken once all the data is assembled. Consider separating your categories into separate lists as this will become more important in later steps.

Step #3 is absolutely the most important step in the process. Establish a value for each item on your list. This may take a little time and some doggedly research but you can handle it once you set your mind to the task. If you have any glimmer of doubt as to what value to assign to a particular piece, look to outside help. Be careful in this search as you might just give away the nature of your task—actually asking or looking for outside help in this step could result in getting you chunked outta the fraternity of men—it’s been related to asking for directions and you know what happens to a man that tries that. If you just have to, go to eBay and scour the asking prices for the same or like items; those prices there are pretty inflated but should work nicely. My best recommendation is to just put a price on it yourself and then once all prices are recorded, go back and raise them by 50%. I guess at this point I should tell you that all records should be maintained in pencil due to the frequent manipulation in pricing that may be required and the effect of inflation on highly desired items—you know, that stuff you have accumulated.

 Old radio - circa 1932
 Lincoln Log set - circa - 1957

Step #4—Now you are ready to analyze your list. Be sure that you paid close attention to steps #2 & #3. Arrange your category lists in descending value by category summation. If at this point you discover that you have valued two (or more) categories at the same summation total you need to return to step #3 and do a better job of assigning values to the individual items within the two obviously wrongly valued categories. Having completed the revaluation you are now ready to move on.

 Valuable Camping Equipment - circa 1971

Highly valuable Fishing Rods & reels

Extremely Valuable Roughneck Tools & Drill Bits

Step #5, now pay close attention here. Peruse the lowest valued category. You obviously have not paid enough attention to one of your hobbies or generally liked activities. It is time to go out and obtain more stuff to augment the valuation of this category. Realizing this shortcoming will help you decide on the next family activity or vacation destination—where do you need to go to acquire more category stuff?

 Very Useful container of Assorted Black (other colors also) Clips

See, Mantique has benefits that are transferable to several other problem areas and extended desires.

Stand tall and be firm. It is all up to you. Good Mantiqueing!