And the Award for Pet Rock of The Decade Goes To…


Back in the flip-phone era someone once said you could spot a person over 50 by how they pushed buttons on a flip phone. Over 50, they used their index finger, as they would have on a rotary phone. Under 50, they use thumbs. Today, the generations get shorter and shorter. I’m barely over 40 and people stopped asking me to help them with their computer issues about 18 years ago. Now, I do have this fancy blog, so that makes me savvy, right. No, I’m already scarred by the tread-marks of technology and media that I do not grasp.

I’m the Facebook micro-generation – a 5 to 8 year window of people who jumped in to Facebook with both feet. I had a Myspace page briefly, where privacy was nil (who’s looking anyway?) and you ranked your top 8 friends. Then Facebook came out and killed it. I was in that big wave of users when Facebook went from a cool .edu college thing to something everyone participated in. I have a few friends who are not on Facebook and it’s like they don’t have electricity. They own businesses (one is in P.R.) but no social media. God bless them and their quiet cabin-in-the-mountain lives.


barely understand Twitter. I’m on Twitter, strictly for my writing persona. I’ve tweeted blog updates and a few other things related to writing, and I follow a host of things I’m interested in, but it’s a distant second to Facebook. I can go a few weeks without even looking at it. And when I do, there’s nothing there but a bunch of people trying to sell me stuff. But everyone says Twitter is more effective for marketing, which I guess is true if you expect to go there and be sold. I don’t completely understand the #hashtag. I get that it’s helpful for the en masse commentary when everyone is watching #sharknado. But no one can explain why the # is needed. If you just put the WORD without the # it’s still searchable, right? Please, someone explain this to me. Comment below. #explainittome #theyremeaningless

I am aware that this meme needs a question mark.

I am aware that this meme needs a question mark.

Instagram – I know it exists. It’s for pictures of food.

Snapchat – No. And my 2 year-old will never know either. (I searched for a funny snapchat meme and I didn’t even understand those.) 

Editor’s note: After using 2 memes in this blog, memes are officially out of style. They are the denim shorts of social media interaction.

Pinterest – This is for home decor. I mean, I understand that it can be for anything you like, and getting ideas from other people with similar interests, but let’s be honest, it’s for home decor. Want a good backyard pergola idea? It’s there. Want a cool jackolantern concept, yup. To me, it’s just one more password to remember. Pinterest gives you ideas for things to do. I don’t need more things to do.

LinkedIn: This one is tough. There’s soooo much potential for LinkedIn, but it’s basically where I connect with people who I don’t want to be connected to on Facebook. And the people who work for LinkedIn are relentless with their solicitations. I have a colleague who turned a LinkedIn connection into a major account, and to this day it is the single example of someone actually turning their time on LinkeIn in to money. Granted, I’ve not searched for a job in the LinkedIn era. The company I work for encouraged everyone to put together a nice looking profile so we could interact with potential clients, going as far as to bring in a photographer for headshots. After that, I was inundated with inquiries from headhunters. So, the lesson is, if you notice a colleague renovating their LinkeIn profile, you can bet they are on the market.

All Others: “What’s Aaap” or something (is that still a thing?), Chat Roulette (same question) and the seven new social media sites that I will never know about because they are secrets like Bit Coin (only hackers and teenagers understand it), I don’t acknowledge their existence if they agree to offer me the same discourtesy.

I’m just going to be happy if I can make Twitter useful before it goes away.

The next wave of social media is going to be about leaving no electronic footprint. And entire snapchat-internet that vanished in 10 seconds. My kids will be WAY more aware of online privacy than I am, and I’m fairly careful. In fact, I’ll probably have to scrub my Facebook page before my son gets one (of course, Facebook will be like an AARP membership to him.)

Eventually the hashtag will go the way of the Pet Rock, *69, bread makers and Keurigs**. (Someone just read this and does’t know what *69 is. (Noun – *69, [star sixty-nine] – A telephone function in the 1990s that enabled users to hear the phone number that last called their line. Existed prior to caller ID. also: The title of an REM song from the same era.) We used to pay EXTRA for it!

Until then,


**Keurigs are the air popcorn popper / break maker / fondue pots of this decade. Mark my words. Thrift shops will be full of them.

P.S. After writing this, I stumbled across this fascinating article about how Keurig is in trouble because their patent on the K-cups ran out! Apparently they make all of their money off the coffee, not the brewers. So… their big innovation is a new K-cup 2.0 (new patent) that can brew more than one serving at a time! Holy crap, I have one of those, it’s called a Coffee Maker! I can make 4 -12 cups in that thing, using Coffee Grounds 1.0. In the 2.0 version, each K-cup has a micro chip so that it only works with their cups. (Yes, every cup of coffee we drink must consume the plastic container and a microchip. No word on whether new new K-cups also work in Hewlett Packard inkjet printers.) Naturally, some teenagers already figured out how to avoid the 2.0 cups using tape and paperclips.


The Three Questions I Am Asked The Most


I have a lot of friends who, until I released The Grandfather Clock, had no idea that I was writing. And there was good reason. I never talked about it. Then a few years ago I wrote my first novel and word started to leak out. And then curious people started asking lots of questions, as if I were John Grisham. Here are the most common questions I get?

1. Have you written anything else? Lots over the years, but only one other full novel manuscript. That first novel isn’t The Grandfather Clock. Stored in several digital locations, in order to survive nuclear winter, is a 130,000 word thriller with Swiss banks, base diving daredevils, and a female romantic interest based on my wife. To this day, my wife is the only person who has read that book. It doesn’t even have a title, but let’s call it Golden ParachuteIt’s possible that it’ll get rewritten with a different main character, or I’ll write the main character into another book and spin it off into an other series. I don’t know. It currently sits like a 1978 Camaro, on blocks, under a tarp, rusting.

2. Is this a true story? Yes. I really did chase down an Argentinian soccer player who fell in with Neo-nazis. Okay, that’s a lie. I had a lady come up and ask me if I’d really been beat up before, because she thought the scene felt real. A nice compliment, but no, I haven’t been beaten up. I’m undefeated, ma’am. Here’s what’s true: I do have a grandfather clock that I had to retrieve from a storage unit in California. And there is a Napoleonic muzzle-loading gun as well. But the similarities end there. My character’s brother is loosely based on my brother, because he’s a great brother. Everyone else is fiction. Sorry. There might be an anecdote or two that are semi autobiographical, but even then I take real events and then go nuts.

3. How do you write your stories? Good planning. I start with a framework. A 30,000 foot view of my story. What’s the main concept, the main twist, and how does it end? The end is hardest part to write, so I try to write it first. It gives me a target to aim for when I start writing from the beginning. That way I don’t end up with wizards or zombies popping up. Then I outline each section of the book, do character composites, and research. For The Grandfather Clock I read everything that I could about Nazis in Patagonia and the theory that Hitler died there in the 1960s. It’s a fascinating story. Read The Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams.

grey wolf

So far, I’ve failed to completely stick to my original outlines. As I write, I find plot holes. issues with character motivations, and main characters developing the decision making powers of a five year-old. If Michael Chance is a little hapless at the beginning of the book, in the first draft he may as well have had pepper in his teeth and mustard on his shirt through the entire book. That’s why I pay for editing.

Update on the follow-up to The Grandfather Clock: The second book is flying. 4,000 to 5,000 words per week. Hoping to be editing in May. I will announce the title soon.

Thanks for reading!


Technology That Doesn’t Waste Time


Technology. It was supposed to save us time. So why does it seem to suck up so much time? I’ll admit it, my wife has said to me more than once, “Put that phone down.” And I’ve watched the heartbreaking Facebook video that says, “After I Saw This, I Put Down My Phone And Didn’t Pick It Up For The Rest Of The Day” – I watched that on my phone. I’ve been a little obsessed with Apps on my phone that could streamline my day, make me remember everything that I want to remember, and save me time. I’ve sampled a million of them and it boils down to 6.

First, I use an Android phone, but that doesn’t mean these don’t work iPhone people. I like Android because I use Gmail and Google Calendar, which at one point were a little slow on iPhone. (I have no idea if this is still the case.) If you have a Blackberry or Windows phone, just stop. Stop being like that. It’s over. Saab isn’t coming back and I don’t care if Betamax was better, it lost to VHS (sorry, my slightly younger wife won’t get that joke.) On to the Apps:

1. I’m going to start with the obvious. I use Gmail and Google Calendar. If you like your email choice and calendar? Stick with it. But I’ve tried all the other pretty calendars in the App store that can sync with whatever calendar you use and and they just don’t bring anything to the table. Whatever you do, you don’t need 2 calendar apps.

And market research says green logos are the best.

And market research says green logos are the best.

2. Evernote: Everyone knows about Evernote now. But I’ve been using this pretty much since it came out. Give me a medal. I’ve tried a million other TO DO LIST apps and none compare to Evernote. It syncs across platforms (to your desktop, laptop and tablet) and it’s free. They have slew of premium features that you can pay for, but I’ve been more than happy staying free. I use Evernote seamlessly between my work life, writing life, and personal life. I particularly like the photo notes because it keeps me from cluttering my phone up with work-related shots. Finally, from a sales perspective, I use it as a CRM. Don’t know what that it? You lucky bastard. 


3. Podcast Addict: I’m an outside sales rep, so I’m in and out of my car all day. I love music and NPR, but sometimes I get overloaded on politics and Adam Levine’s endless supply of soundalike hits. I tried Stitcher for my podcast habit, but my phone went to 400 degrees and battery ran out in 20 minutes. I listen to a few publishing podcasts, get my pop culture from Bill Simmon’s ESPN affiliated Grantland and get NPR’s Fresh Air and highly addictive America’s Test Kitchen.

4. Don’t have time to read? Now you do. I’ve got 2. First, I downloaded Amazon’s audiobook app, Audible, and got a free audiobook for signing up. That was cool. The monthly service is $15 and you get 1 audiobook per month, sometimes two book when they run a special. It isn’t cheap, but with writing at night, I don’t have time to read, so I get this done in my car. And damn, if I look forward to my road time a little more. The only thing I hated was that once I was home, I couldn’t pick up reading where my Audiobook left off. Just about the time I was inventing this concept on a cocktail napkin, I realized Amazon already had it with Whispersync. Most recently, this cost me an extra $2 when I purchased an eBook. I’ve “read” 4 books in 6 weeks just in Audiobooks. I would have never finished Girl With The Dragon Tattoo reading it 15 minutes a night before I fell asleep.

5. This one is another personal preference. I use OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) for Cloud Storage of my documents. I used to use SugarSync, but they stopped being free. As long as you aren’t storing every photo you take you’ll never run out of space. OneDrive gives you 15GB of free storage. That’s a lot. Just enough to tempt you into sending all your photos there and breaking down and buying more storage.

6. This one is pretty new. I have slew of other apps on on my phone and it was totally cluttered. If Yahoo survives to the next decade, part of the reason will be Yahoo Aviate. I downloaded this free little app to my phone and suddenly everything was organized into tidy categories. It is brilliant in its simplicity and you can leave it alone or customize it all you want.

What’s your “must have” app? What have I missed? Leave a comment or, if you’re shy, email me at

Not so great moments in (salesman) history


I was complaining to a friend today about this blog I know that has no subject. It was really annoying me. Of course, it was my blog that I was talking about. She said, “I really like reading it. It’s entertaining. Seinfeld was about nothing.”

On this blog I’ve written about writing (interesting to writers), working in sales (mostly amusing anecdotes), and books. In truth, I know the formula that can take a good blog to great, but the subject still eludes me. It’s a big commitment. I regularly read a blog that started out being about USC Trojan Football. Now, it’s mostly about the reality TV shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (check it out HERE.) It’s very funny, but now this poor guy has to watch every episode of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Lest I step in to a topic I can’t step out of, I’m going to continue treat this blog as a landing page for my readers and a place for them to get to know me and my writing.

A quick update on the “epic” relaunch of my book. Over 18,000 people now have The Grandfather Clock and there was a couple of nice bumps in paid sales after the free promotion. Since then, people continue to buy and… just as important… leave very positive reviews. In fact, I got one 1 STAR review, entitled “BOO!” The person complained: “Finally realized that it is part of a series and that is not made clear up front.” I thanked them for their feedback and explained that the book stands alone, but that it’s part of a three book series. Two other people came to my defense and the reviewer upgraded me to 3 STARS. Of course, now it looks like people jumped all over this man or woman for a 3 star review.

My wife commented that she wouldn’t know how to handle bad reviews. She does a lot of group programming and takes the surveys people fill out to heart. She’s a perfectionist and everything she does is outstanding. I make up for not being a perfectionist by having a thick skin. I’m in sales. I make a lot of cold… frigidly cold… calls. The vast majority are uneventful, whether they end in a new account or not. But there have been a few over the years that have stood out:

One of the funniest was the guy whose only response was to hold up his hand and say, “No soliciting.” He said it twice and when I tried to leave a card he pointed at it and said, “That’s soliciting!” I had a product he used and couldn’t purchase in quantity anywhere else, so the bad news was that he was going to buy it. Two months later he sold the business and the new owners are a great new customer.

"What do you mean there's no soliciting?"

“What do you mean there’s no soliciting?”

One of my most frustrating accounts was a busy place that was poorly run. The manager liked to yell at people but he never tried it with me. He had difficulty grasping the concept of a calendar, so I decided he needed to be taught a lesson… buy on schedule or don’t get your delivery. He blew up. They literally started mixing different products to make something that they thought was something else. It was completely bizarre. When he tried to threaten to take his business elsewhere, I told him that it was his only option.

My all time favorite was when I was working with one my supplier reps, a young German guy, very likable with a great sense of humor. We were having a very good day, making lots of sales. We walked in to this guy’s shop and I extended my hand to introduce myself. His hand was 6 inches from mine on his computer mouse. It did not move. I talked to him for what had to be a full minute, with my hand extended. He never shook it. It was a short conversation to say the least. Literally thousands of calls over nearly a decade, and I’ve had maybe 5 bad experiences. People are usually so nice, it’s amusing when they aren’t. My colleague and I still laugh about that guy who refused to shake my hand. Hell, we might even go back and see what happens the second time. Maybe I’ll bring cookies.

These are long days lately. The morning is madness getting two little ones going in the right direction, work all day with the phone constantly beckoning, and then back to the madness of two hellions in the evening. I write from about 10:30 to midnight and literally fall asleep writing. I’ve found entire paragraphs of mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm where I’ve passed out with my hands on the keys. The followup to The Grandfather Clock is on schedule for a summer release. Stay tuned!


Buy the book: HERE for under a buck.

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