Lane Diamond

Author, Editor, Publisher, Coach

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 3)

Coffee – Elixir of the Gods

Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”

Preparation. I like that, but here’s my question: How could one even get started were it not for coffee?

Or am I just a lousy-morning person? Probably. I’ve always been a night owl, since my wee days as an aspiring author, back when pacifiers were an amazing distraction. (I gave those up years ago.)

I swear, sometimes I want to skip the whole brewing thing and go right to chewing on the beans.

I awoke this morning, as Arlo Guthrie once sang, “…hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things!”

Then I had a cup of coffee. Then I had a second cup of coffee. And I thought, “You know, I’m just about ready to dig into work and ge—” Then I had a third cup of coffee.

Aaaaahhhhhhhhh………… Yes, now I’m ready to get down to some serious work. Now I’ve sharpened my axe… err… brain.

Do you have a guilty pleasure that functions also as grease for your mental wheels?

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Holiday Reflections – A Sad Look Back, An Optimistic Look Forward

Once again, a Merry Christmas to one and all—be safe, be healthy, be happy. The second of those three—be healthy—is the source of quite a bit of personal reflection these days.

Bob Ashley, R.I.P.

A couple weeks ago, my brother, Bob Ashley, succumbed to cancer. Technically, Bob was my half brother on my father’s side—a father I barely knew. I’ll not go into the dysfunctional details; I’ll just say that I got to know Bob later in life—me in my early 40s, he in his mid-50s. We hit it off nicely, being of like mind in everything from humor (humor was a biggie) to family to politics to just plain living life. I liked Bob instantly. We never thought of each other as “half” brothers, just brothers who discovered each other later than we would have liked.

Despite the fact that Bob and I didn’t see a lot of each other in recent years, living some 1,000 miles apart, keeping in touch primarily through email and social media sites, my appreciation of him did not diminish. Indeed, before he got sick, we were trying to sort out plans for a long overdue visit. Thus, his passing hit home with a thump. Cancer has been such a scourge on my family over the years, as it has been for so many.

I’ve been battling my own health issue these past few years, a condition call Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). Again, I’ll spare you the details, except to say that it threw my life into a state of turmoil back in 2006. Since then, I’ve been battling my way back, sorting out a new, productive path to a brighter future, building hope and optimism back into my life. It’s been a tough slog, but the light at the end of the tunnel grows nearer, larger—I can almost reach out and touch it.

And so, through it all, and as I reflect on life during this holiday season, I can’t help but be reminded that nothing—absolutely nothing—is more important than your health, and the health and wellbeing of family and friends.

I hope you and yours are enjoying the blessings not just of the season, but of life without excessive worry or loss.

This one’s for you, Bob. Go gently into that good night, brother, and rest easy.

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Is “Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day” in jeopardy?

Today is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day nationally. How many of you knew that?

This is a fantastic idea. Kids need to read more, to know the wonder and majesty of the written word, to let their imaginations carry them to worlds created wholly on the page.

Yet with the advent of the eBook, and the slow (or maybe not-so-slow) dwindling of print books, might this laudable event be in jeopardy? The Borders bookstore chain is already gone. Barnes & Noble is cutting back on shelf space, rather drastically in some cases. Mom-and-Pop bookshops are struggling to keep their heads above water—those that haven’t already vanished.

Fewer people are buying print books at all, and those who are do so more often online, or through discounters like Wal-Mart and Target. So where are parents going to take their children in the future?

Perhaps it’s time we started a new tradition: a monthly Read with Your Child day. We could use the third Saturday of each month, for example, and dedicate two hours per month to actually sit down and read with our kids, to talk about books, about their favorite stories and characters—and why they made their choices.

I remain more convinced than ever that kids must read more, particularly in a world dominated by television and computer games. Use eReaders. Go ahead! I mean, let’s face it: eReaders are right up your kid’s alley. Just read with them. Please! It does for their brain development what TV and computer games cannot.

And then maybe—just maybe—we’ll stop hearing twenty-somethings toss out sentences like this real-life gem: “It’s like… so… I don’t know, kinda like… well, you know what I mean?”

My response: “Well, no, I don’t know what you mean. Perhaps if you spoke English.”

Her response: “OMG! Like… whatever!”

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Newer Pictures of an Older Me, Family Visit, and Giants on Mini-Planes

I’m catching up now from the time I took off for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a slog, but I’m getting there.

One of the things I did was update this website, along with various social media sites where I play, with some new pictures. They show the newer, older me. Yikes! That’s okay.

My little sister, Dawn Lane Vornholt (aka Laney Bird), took the pictures while I was visiting her and Rich, her husband, in Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday. She’s accustomed to taking pictures of beautiful things—mostly birds. I hope her camera survived the shock.

I hadn’t seen little sis in over three years, not counting our Skype conversations, so it was great to catch up. I also got to visit with Rich, a fun guy with a great sense of humor, and even his three daughters (from previous marriage), Hayley, Anna and Piper—good peeps, one and all. Rich and Dawn were exceedingly generous, and I had a great time.

I managed to meet up with my business partner, D.T. Conklin, while I was in Georgia. As fate would have it, he lives a little over an hour from my sister. We hammered out some business, enjoyed some good food and drink, and I met his lovely wife, Kesh. Don’t know what she sees in him, but… no accounting for taste. (Just kidding!)

I used to fly routinely on business and pleasure, jumping on planes dozens of times per year. The past few years, however, flying has been a rarity. Thank God! Man, I hate cattle cars… I mean airports. And I hate being a giant on those itty-bitty planes.

I mean… I must be a giant, since my right shoulder hung out in the aisle even as my left shoulder cozied-up with the person seated to my left. I wish they built planes for giants like me—you know, people who weigh more than 100 pounds. A few people on the plane were twice my size—well, twice my weight—and man, did I feel sorry for the people sitting next to them! No offense, big people, but that can’t be comfortable on a mini-plane. And I must have been on a mini-plane.

It’s also not a fun thing to land in a mini-plane when the wind is gusting to 60 MPH.

If I’m lucky, I won’t have to get on a plane for a while. I figure it will be at east a year, as plans now stand. Maybe by then, they’ll have built planes large enough to seat adults comfortably.

One can dream.

So now it’s back to the grind, to a workload that borders on insane. I swear, I’m busier than a one-winged bee at a honeycomb convention. Oh well, I guess that’s why I get the big bucks. Oh wait! Ahhhh… never mind.

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The New Look of My Website

Yep, I updated the banner across the top of this site—finally got rid of the template image and put in something that makes sense to Lane Diamond, Author. How does it look?

I also added a link at right if you prefer to follow this blog via Networked Blogs on Facebook.

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If You’re a Poetry Fan, Perhaps You’ll Enjoy a Couple of My Modest Offerings

I started my writing pursuits at the ripe old age of 12 with some rather pedantic poetry. I’d be embarrassed to show most of that now. Of course, my poetry matured with me over the years, and I’m pleased with much of it—at least, not so embarrassed that I’m unwilling to share it.

I don’t visit the form often. It seems I must be in a specific, introspective frame of mind to feel the urge. Poetry has always offered me a certain cathartic release during difficult times, and I’m sure you’ll see that theme in some of my work.

I now offer some of my Poetry via a page at this website (tab at top). I’ll start slow, with just four offerings, but I’ll add to it as time allows. Please enjoy.

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Who has time to read for pleasure?

Like all writers, I came to writing through reading.  I didn’t kick my pleasure reading into high gear until 1980.  I was serving in the U.S. Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in [West] Germany.  I had time on my hands, sitting in my little efficiency apartment off base with no television and no phone in those pre-internet days.

I’d always been a proficient reader as a kid, but hadn’t done much of it.  Although I enjoyed a few exceptions, books tended to bore me, a sad alternative to playing outside with my friends.  In 1980, no longer a kid running around the neighborhood, I looked to reading as a remedy for boredom.  Wow!  I realized just how much I’d been missing.

I started with Stephen King (and his alter ego Richard Bachman), because he was producing a lot of material and could keep me engaged.  I also read everything Robert Ludlum had available.  Indeed, after I made my first trip to Berlin, and actually went through Checkpoint Charlie into communist East Germany, espionage thrillers moved to the front of my reading list.  Enter John LeCarre, Frederick Forsyth and others.

From that point on, I couldn’t even imagine life without books, though I’ve suffered some downtime—gaps in my reading—on occasion.  This, I’m sorry to say, is one of those occasions.  I’m so busy writing my own book, and editing the work of several authors in our Evolved Publishinggroup, that I just can’t seem to find time for pleasure reading.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our publishing venture is about to rocket forward.  Still, I miss the simple joy of reading without deadlines, without pressure to find every little word that doesn’t quite work, without authors breathing down my neck like a bunch of….

Just kidding.  Our authors are a fine, patient bunch.  Nonetheless, I’ll be glad to get past this initial big launch of our publishing venture (7-10 more books in the next 2-3 months).  I’ll be glad to relax at night with a snifter of cognac in one hand, a book or my Kindle in the other, and read for the shear escapist joy of it.

I’m curious: Which authors first hooked you on reading?

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Why Are So Many Snarks Circling the Internet Waters?

“The reputation through a thousand years may depend upon the conduct through a single moment.” – Ernest Bramah

I’ve been seeing quite a few heated conversations on the internet lately.  Of course, certain subjects lend themselves to such warfare more than do others, as do certain venues.  Nonetheless, I’ve been surprised by a few of them.

Who would have thought, for example, that posting a job opening at LinkedIn would generate snarky, combative responses?  Do potential applicants think that will leave them any chance of acceptance?  Really?  Who goes into a job interview, for example, and blurts right out, “Okay, Mr. Hiring Official, so what are you going to do for me?”  Yeah, there’s a recipe for success.

Well, once you realize that some of those snarky comments come from potential competitors, it’s easier to understand their attitudes, at least.  What I don’t understand is why they would they engage in that sort of activity on a site dedicated to professional advancement.

Seriously, what could such behavior possibly do for their reputations?

That brings me to the overall point of this post.  In the new internet environment, it seems to me that one must be careful not to weave a web of discontent and anger at every opportunity.  I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be honest; of course, we should.  I am suggesting that sometimes it’s simply best to walk away.  Be polite.  Be quiet.  Don’t pick fights.

I doubt anyone wins those fights, in the end.  I suspect both parties are damaged, to some degree.  That naturally begs the question: What should I do if someone attacks me?  Should I not respond at all?

Well, sometimes yes… and sometimes no.  Perhaps a simple “Oh brother” or “Good grief” will make your point, and throw the dirt back on the muddy snark.  Perhaps you’ll require a larger response at times, but exercise caution.  Remember your mother’s admonition when you were in the third grade: “Just because Billy wants to jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to jump off a bridge.”

In an electronic medium, where we never meet face-to-face or engage in coordinated physical activities, we have only our posted words to build and protect our reputations.  Furthermore, that reputation will be the primary means by which we build our business, whatever that may be.

It sure is difficult, at times.  I’ve encountered circumstances in which I wanted to unleash a barrage of 4-letter words.  Yet whom would that harm more?  My target… or me?

To quote the bard, “Aye, there’s the rub.”

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Authors – To Blog or Not To Blog

Blogger and soon-to-be-published author, Roni Loren, has posted a blog that’s already drawing some interesting comments.  I’m happy to recommend that you pop over and participate in the conversation.

Tell her Diamond sent you.  🙂

Is Blogging Dead?

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‘Til next time, and as always, remember: To write well, you must work hard.  To succeed in this tough gig, you mustn’t be lazy (or discouraged).

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Flash Fiction

Let me first say that I’m not a fan of flash fiction, particularly the 55-word variety.  In my experience, 9 out of 10 pieces are not worth the reading, even if it does take only a few seconds.  People don’t tell stories; they write anecdotes, ask questions, set up a possible story.

Yet I entered a flash fiction contest.  Go figure.

I found Austin Briggs’ contest on Twitter, liked what he was doing (Hey, I love any opportunity for a writer to make money!), and decided to both spread the good word and enter my own piece.

He provided this prompt: “Eccentric Woman.”

His essential guidelines were clear: 55-words max (includes the title), must contain a setting and at least one character, and must present a conflict and resolution.

Those are ambitious guidelines for a 55-word piece, and that’s ultimately why I decided to participate (my entry, Sipping, took 2nd place in July).  Did all entries adhere to those guidelines?  Did all the winners?  Hmmm….  As I said before, flash fiction so rarely gives us a story.

Nonetheless, Austin is doing a good thing for writers.  If you like flash fiction, and you’d like an opportunity to make a little money in a contest, please check it out.  You’ll find the July results here: Austin Briggs’ Flash Fiction Contest.

‘Til next time, and as always, remember: To write well, you must work hard.  To succeed in this tough gig, you mustn’t be lazy (or discouraged).

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