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The Concerned Department

support_callAfter the holidays passed, I decided to treat myself with a gift. I had a cool hundy burning a hole in my pocket and a dire need for a gadget to stream Netflix in my new pad. I had previously used a Wii to stream Netflix. It worked pretty good. But I wanted to stream in HD, something the Wii couldn’t do. Plus, a new Wii would cost $199 and I didn’t want to spend more than $100. After some research, I set my sights on a Roku XD. Amazon was out of stock but roku.com had it on sale for $69. The deal was done; the Roku XD was ordered. I was happy.

The following Monday afternoon, I received an email stating that “my product had shipped via USPS” and that it would take “3-7 business days” to arrive. They provided me with a tracking number which I immediately tracked on usps.com. Unfortunately, they said there was no record of the item but “event information may not be available if your item was mailed recently.” Well, that’s cool. Roku.com echoed the same info by stating “Please note: although your order has been shipped, USPS may not show any information on your order for up to 24 hours.” OK, I’ll check tomorrow. Geez, can’t a guy be excited about his Christmas present?

The next afternoon, I tracked my present again and got the same response from usps.com, “there is no record of this item.” Ummm. I decided to call Roku. Their phone system was a labyrinth of options that lead me to an announcement that they had online chat support. I quickly hung up and jumped online with their chat support staff. After a brief summation of my problem, the support dude responded, “Yep, the post office doesn’t have record of that tracking number. I’ll escalate this issue and you should hear back from us in 24 hours.” Uh, all right. I’ll wait another day, buddy. Aargh.

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Smashwords: The Future of Independent Publishing

I've written about my fondness for eBooks. And I would like to introduce one of my favorite publishing partners: Smashwords. Of the several online publishers that I'm involved with, Smashwords is the most well-rounded of them all. Smashwords offers an abundant amount of documentation for creating your eBooks, has an impressive distribution channel (including Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc.), and has a quick payout schedule with a very nice percentage that goes back to the author. As an aspiring or professional author, what more could you want?

I've been asked quite a bit recently about my thoughts on self-publishing. I've been down the path of traditional publishing before. I had a literary agent and my books were submitted to traditional publishers in a traditional fashion. But that model is dying fast. If you don't believe me, look at the music industry. Look at the movie rental business. The Internet is the future. The Internet is the future of book publishing as well. If you are an author, then consider Smashwords. They are the future.

swlogo

Check out my eBooks on Smashwords.

If you found this blog post useful or entertaining, then please visit my Books page and check out my novels as well as my comic strip compilation and my collection of short stories and cartoons. They are all available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats. Please support independent publishing!

Lunch Bag Art

One of the most important things I try to instill in my kids is the love of art, creating it, consuming it, enjoying it. The three of us love to sit together and draw. And they love to see the cartoons I create. So when my kids started summer camp this year, I decided to add a little fun to their day. Custom lunch bag art! I passed around photos to my friends of the lunch bags and they enjoyed them so much that I thought I would share them here too. I'll keep an ongoing gallery of all the lunch bags for the summer. Enjoy!

More here, here, and here too.

If you found this blog post useful or entertaining, then please visit my Books page and check out my novels as well as my comic strip compilation and my collection of short stories and cartoons. They are all available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats. Please support independent publishing!

Cartoon Dicks Are Unprofessional

dont_do_itI created a cartoon for a short story / comic strip compilation that I submitted to a publisher that actually may never see the light of day; the cartoon, that is. See, the cartoon is about boners. It is titled Bonerpalooza. I created the cartoon after a quick burst of inspiration, like most of my cartoons, and thought the idea was amusing enough to put down on paper. And like most of my cartoons, if it made me and a select group of trusted friends laugh, then I thought it was golden. But I've come to a realization that no matter how funny the cartoon is, most people are offended by cartoon dongs. To quote one of my best friends, whose opinion I don't take lightly, "Cartoon dicks are unprofessional." So, I was in a quandary. Most of the time, I don't really care what people think of me or my work. I've come to a point in my creative life that I cater to my cartoon / writing muse whenever possible. But I've been troubled by the reception of this cartoon. Everyone I've shown it to thinks it's funny. But they have all told me not to publish it. So, is Squirty McGirth offensive? Are cartoon dicks unprofessional?

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EBooks: I Get It

ipadEBook readers have been around for a while but, to be honest, I really didn't care. As a reader, I think I was too attached to certain things about printed books, things like their tactile feel, typeface, even their smell. As a writer, a book in print was where you wanted to be, especially if a publisher invested in the cost and marketing of it. In the last few weeks, I have completely changed my mind. EBooks rule!

A similar experience happened to me when iPods first came out. Once I discovered the simplicity of how the music could be purchased and loaded onto my iPod, I was in love. And I've had the same discovery with eBooks, thanks to the Kindle, the iPad, and some other similar (though not quite as cool) eReaders.

I first experimented with eBooks using MobiPocket on my Blackberry. I was skeptical at first but the software was easy to load and I immediately found a bunch of resources on the web with public domain books. They also had an eBook store, so I could search their store for authors I liked to read. In addition, they had an eBook creator called Mobipocket Creator. It was quite easy to use and, once my eBooks were created, I could publish them to their eBook database quickly for their eBook store.

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Weird Dreams

I've been having a lot of weird dreams lately. And I know exactly why it's happening. But rather than run through the details of why the dreams are manifesting, I thought it would be more fun to explore this topic through laughter. Check this out from the memory banks:

Mr Grieves #120

Oh, there's more!

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Rock the Library!

library1In the past couple of months, I've experienced a great sense of pride when seeing my books in stock at two of my favorite local book stores. There's nothing like seeing my work sitting on the same shelves with other writers or cartoonists I admire. But yesterday I experienced my own little nerdy rock star moment. My books are currently catalogued at the Wells Branch Library. And I can see your reaction now (insert sarcastic eye roll). But let me tell you something, dear reader. Librarians know how to treat a writer.

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Real Men Cry Like Blabbering Idiots

man_cryingWhat is it that makes a real man? That's a question I'm sure most men mull over at some point in their lives. I know in my twenties I went through periods of questioning certain human qualities and their importance in my definition of a real man: integrity, honesty, loyalty, creativity, etc. Now that I'm older, I realize there was something I left off my manly evaluation list: crying. How did I overlook crying as a manly trait? Well, for one thing, most people don't see crying as being very manly. Understandable. But they are idiots. Let me shed some light on my discovery.

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It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Indifferent

ka-boomI read a book recently called Apocalypse 2012: An Optimist Investigates the End of Civilization. The author, Lawrence E. Joseph, digs into the numerous theories and predictions that seem to all point to the year 2012 as the "big year." Something surely is going to happen in 2012, whether it is a catastrophe or an explosion or an intergalactic collision or something. Why the year 2012? Because, for the love of God, all the smarty pants throughout history reference that year in their visions for the end of the world; it's that simple. Is it really THAT simple? Well, no. But is it creepy that 2012 keeps popping up? Hell yes! Queue the iPod. We're going to party like its 1999! I better start stockpiling cases of beer and cartons of cigarettes in my garage.

Check this out. The ancient Mayans were some pretty observant people. By just sitting on a hill and watching the night skies obsessively, they calculated an extremely accurate calendar that has predicted all major intergalactic events. What does 2012 mean to them? The end of the world and a new beginning. What else? The sun has been farting out solar flares more than any time in the last 11,000 years. Solar physicists believe it will peak in (you guessed it) 2012 and microwave our planet. Russian geniuses believe our solar system has entered an interstellar energy cloud that threatens to destabilize our sun. When do they think catastrophe will affect us? Somewhere between 2010 and 2020. Is 2012 in there somewhere? Christianity, the I Ching, and Hindu theology have all been interpreted by someone who believes 2012 is the end of time. The sky is falling! Several physicists believe we're overdue for a major catastrophe like the one that evaporated the dinosaurs. And the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park is due for a major eruption which could result in the death of ninety percent of the world's population. WTF?! This book was really making an effort to ruin my day. Did somebody say "Miller Time?"

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God Does Not Allow Skateboards Here

img00149The annual Easter visit to church has come and gone, an occasion that creates a huge uproar then dissipates quickly, like a fart blown away by a gust of wind. This tradition doesn't seem to me to be more relevant to my spiritual self than sitting alone for a few minutes and reflecting / praying in peace. But no matter, I helped pretty-up my daughters and the family drove off to church and we did the required standing-room only visit. I witnessed a couple of teenagers faint, the priest dousing the congregation with a torrential amount of holy water, and small children smashing their boogers on their friends' Easter dresses and sport coats. Hurray for Easter!

My youngest became restless with all of the standing around, so we headed outside so she could play. And while I watched her run around and throw rocks, my family and I noticed a sign at the corner of the building. The sign read, "God Does Not Allow Skateboards Here." Ha! Oh really? 'Hmmm,' I thought. 'Is God really concerned about skateboards on church property? There are surely more important things for God to be concerned about, right?' I immediately came to the conclusion that God would not be worried about a recreational sport, something that will illicit happiness and joy in teenagers, as well as keep them in good shape. What this sign was REALLY trying to say was that some grumpy, old people found skateboards to be annoying. And rather than place a sign that read, "Old People Do Not Want Skateboards Here," they decided to use the fear of God as a deterrent for having fun.

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