Your Dream Hobby

Is there a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but never thought you could do it? Something you want to do but don’t think you have the time, space, or money for?

Sometimes it’s fun to think about what we’d do if we could do anything. Then, at least, we can possibly think of something else to do, that scratches the same itch but isn’t quite so tough to get into.

Some “dream hobbies” are simply impossible. Like orbital skydiving if you’re already 85. Some seem impossible but aren’t, really. For example, Teddy Roosevelt was once told by his doctor that his heart was too weak for vigorous exercise so he ought to take it easy. Instead of taking a desk job like he was advised, he climbed the Matterhorn soon after. Now, if you have legitimate medical reasons not to do something then that’s understandable, but sometimes those reasons aren’t quite as immutable as we think.

However, this article is about fantastically impossible hobbies that are just fun to think about. Mine is falconry. I’d love to learn the ways of raptors, fly them, befriend them. Maybe do some education in schools, or get a job chasing off birds at an airport. Another “dream hobby” is raising Akhal Teke horses.

What would make me follow those goals? Enough land to do them in!

Do you have a cherished dream that you know won’t happen? What would it take to make it happen?

Is there another, lesser form of that dream that you could do?

When you want to publish your book: tips for aspiring authors

The only thing worse than failing as a writer, is failing as a writer and paying someone else for the privilege.  Writing and getting your things published doesn’t have to be hard, though it often is. There are certain things you can do so you aren’t taken for a ride. I’ve watched the publishing industry change over the years, helped publish a few books, and in all of it I’ve seen that certain things remain true. So I have come up with some tips and rules to help protect you from career-breaking mistakes.
Do not ever pay an agent fee or publishing charge. Those are used by vanity publishers and scam artists to separate you from your money and give you nothing.

There is one small exception to this. If you complete the NaNoWriMo writing challenge and earn the 75% off coupon from FastPencil, that’s actually a pretty good value. For around a hundred dollars you get a fair amount of marketing help and wide distribution for your book, as well as a larger cut of the profits. Otherwise, don’t pay agent fees or publishing charges.

Also be cautious of anyone who says “you need to help us pay for a thousand books and you need to do all your own marketing.” Real agents don’t charge the author.

If you are an aspiring writer and want to be published traditionally, do not let your desire blind you to scam artists. Be particularly wary of any unsolicited emails from publishing companies with glowing testimonials, compliments about your work, and promises of big profits. I’m looking at you, SBPRA! Unless you are really well known, publishing houses don’t approach you unasked, and if you are well known, you won’t be needing these tips.
Carefully check any contracts to make sure you retain control over your work. Look for hidden fees. Read them. Reread them. If anyone objects or tries to get you to rush, don’t sign.

Before signing up with any agent or publishing company, check their online reputation. Several good authors groups, like the Science Fiction Writer’s Association, have lists of scammers. No reputation might not be a deal breaker but a bad reputation is.

When you self publish, and even if you don’t, use a beta reader. Have one or more people carefully read your work, looking for typos, misspelled words, awkward grammar, or anything else that will make your work look less than its best. The more eyes, the better!

Write what you love, write what you know, and never ever write something you don’t know about unless you have expert help. That is, talk it over with someone who knows the subject very well, and then listen to what they have to say!

Finally, any time emotion (especially love or fear) is involved, the market is ripe for scammers and they know it. You love your book, you love the idea of success. You fear failure. Scammers know that and they play to your emotions. This is your work, hopefully your best work, and you owe it to your future to let reason rule over emotion. You’ll be thankful later.

If you have any comments or tips, comment here and I’ll add them with attribution.

Reality Cheat? Life in the Matrix

via Daily Prompt: Cheat


Consider, for a moment, what it would be like if your entire life was a computer simulation.  Only, you didn’t know it was a simulation.  Everything around was created for you, all bodily sensations, etc, and the “real you” was a body lying in a vat somewhere, or hooked up to cables as a battery, or something like that.  It might even just be a disembodied brain.  Or it could be that long ago, your consciousness was digitized and uploaded into a vast matrix – and the entire world as you know it was in some huge group of servers.

What if you became aware of this?  Would it change how you behave?  You couldn’t really change the laws of the place your consciousness resided in, because the program would work the same way, so there wouldn’t be any Neo like abilities to suddenly know Kung Fu or fly a helicopter.  But, might that realization change how you face the world?

Might your own habits seem a bit less immutable?  Might you live differently, knowing your thoughts and perceptions were under your control?  Might you decide to really crack this oyster of a world and learn all there is to know, and gain real influence?

Maybe not… but maybe so.

You wouldn’t have had a way of knowing what this Matrix was beforehand, after all.

Also, how could you know that this isn’t really happening right here and now?

Art Exploration “Kitsune”

Cover final painting small

This is the second version of a cover painting I did for a novel I wrote.  I usually try to paint things that tell some kind of a story, but this was meant to be representational of some of the book content and hopefully somewhat intriguing to the casual viewer.

The novel was “The Dice of Fate,” a story about a young woman who was suddenly transported directly from her day job to a place that was like something from one of her roleplaying campaigns.  Early in the story, a little white Kitsune with three tails comes and helps her, and the theme of dice features prominently in the story.  Therefore, I chose to depict the kitsune, the ten sided die, and a hint of the long road she had to walk on foot to get to civilization.

I started (as usual) with the sky gradient.  The better the sky gradient, the better the foundation of the work.  Since this was acrylic, I could dispense any worry about the transparency of my layers.  With the trees I worked from dark to light, always keeping in mind that most trees have gray bark, not brown.  For highlighting, I used chalks and pencils in the final steps.

I was fairly pleased with the work.  If anyone wants to see it on the cover, feel free to click through to the link – and if anyone wants to buy it, it’s free for Kindle subscribers.  Just search the title “The Dice of Fate.”









Hipsterism? OBviously.

Daily Prompt: Obvious

via Daily Prompt: Obvious


My tongue is most firmly in my cheek with this title.

It can be a real ego stroke to act like someone’s insight was the most OBVIOUS thing ever, and OF COURSE you knew that.  Or some fact that might not be known to everyone.  However, it’s not the nicest thing either… so why do we do it?  Maybe not all of us do this, however I know I have.  Superiority can be fun, even though that can be hard to admit.

Yes, I’ve reveled in my knowledge of something.  I’ve been the proverbial hipster about things.  I think we’ll all find that we do this less as our mastery of life grows, as we learn more, as we grow up, as we find out how little we really know.  I’m sure you know the old saying, that when you’re young, you think you know everything, and when you get older you realize how little you know.  That, and your parents suddenly become smarter.  Knowing how little we know is the beginning of wisdom after all.

But of course…

You knew that.


Help for buying Epi-pens if you don’t have insurance (or even if you do)

Epi-pens are in the news lately because of their price jump.

I have a way of making that better.  I won’t lie, you still may have to pay a lot, but you won’t have to pay over a thousand dollars for a two pack of Epipens if you use this trick.

Epi-pens actually have a generic form that costs a lot less than the brand. The problem is, not all the pharmacies have the two linked together in their drug catalogs – so if you ask a customer service agent or pharmacy tech about it, they may not automatically see the alternative.

The alternative to an Epi-pen is called simply ‘epinephrine auto injector.” It usually costs three or four hundred for a two pack without insurance, which is a lot, but it’s a whole lot less than the brand name currently is.

If you do have insurance and want to pay the generic copay, call in and ask the customer service agent if there are any “alternatives” to the Epi pen. That’s the magic word. If you say “does the Epi pen have a generic?” the agent may check, not see one, and not think to ask a pharmacist.

The difference between a generic and an alternative is simple. A generic is the same active ingredient as the original brand, just made by a different company, and only the inactive ingredients are supposed to be different. An alternative is usually a slightly different drug that is used to treat the same condition.   Put simply, an Epi-pen IS an epinephrine auto injector, but not all epinephrine auto injectors are made by Epi-pen.

The thing is here, both an Epi-pen and an “epinephrine auto injector” should be on the same project page because they contain the same thing. But they often don’t, so you can save a lot of money, and possibly a loved one’s life.

Art Exploration “Discovery”

This is the first in a series of posts where I explore a painting or artwork I’ve done and discuss the process, what I was thinking when doing the work, etc.  This first one will be a watercolor painting I call “discovery.”  If you have any questions, post them up and I may alter the way I do my next entry in this series.  Click on the image itself to get a better view.


This painting was a lot of fun for me to do. I got the idea from a story my partner and I were working on, about creatures from the Age of Mammals being found in Canada and Siberia. I wanted to show a scene that could be from that story, but also I wanted to practice a new tree painting technique.

As I commonly do with watercolor, I started by wetting the paper down and painting a blue gradient on the top half of the paper. I made it nice and bright because this is a forest in the mountains. I let it dry thoroughly before putting in the trees. This painting was done in many layers, letting everything dry in between layers to keep details sharp and unmuddied.

The bark of the birch trees were one of the final details – they were accomplished with opaque white watercolor paint. I had a lot of fun modeling the kayak and the hat! Also, I was pleased with how the water turned out.

When I look at this painting, I can imagine myself kayaking along some Canadian or Siberian waterway, enjoying the forest, and suddenly happening upon these great brown shapes… what a discovery that would be!