Finally figured out what went wrong with the scheme to upload a chapter at a time of The Complete Writer to the P&S Press blog and then consolidate them into a whole book in its own page at the P&S site: information overload.


Thanks to Grayson Bell, proprietor of iMark Interactive and behind-the-scenes wizard for the FaM digital empire, I learned that there’s a limit to how much data WordPress will tolerate in any given file. And a book-length work far exceeds that limit. Just now the Complete Writer‘s web page is maxing out WordPress with a mere 33,000 words. Total word count for TCW is 77,862…which actually is rather short for a book.

So the plan is to take down the WP content on that page and replace it with PDFs.

This book comprises several sections. So the idea would be to publish each chapter, as usual, in a Friday blog entry, and then when all the chapters in a given section have gone online in the blog, post a PDF holding those chapters. If all a person wanted to know about was writing nonfiction, then, they could simply download that section. But if you want the whole book, you can email me through the contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the entire magnum opus. (Who would want to miss a single Golden Word?????)

So that will be this morning’s Project of the Day.

Presumably I’ll have to do the same with Ella’s Story and If You’d Asked…  But not today.


*FREE READS* Galore! How about some participatory reading?

Got another chapter of The Complete Writer online:Two Kinds of Revising.”

Decided that the book chapters should be posted under their chapter titles, rather than just “Chapter 1…Chapter 2…” and so on. Initially, it seemed to me that for SEO purposes, a shorter title is better. Didn’t take long, though, to see the speciousness of that theory: what does “Chapter 8” mean, anyway?

So I’ve revised the post titles for Complete and also for If You’d Asked Me…. This is a bit of a PITA, because you can’t just change the titles. For each post, you also have to go in and change the URL — WordPress won’t do that automatically. Not that it’s hard. Just more tedium.

For Ella’s Story, I remain undecided. For one thing, works of fiction often have untitled chapters. Here, for example, is a chapter title in Gore Vidal’s Lincoln:


Enticing, isn’t it?

For another: I have no idea what to call these things. Never have I been good at dreaming up titles. Believe it or not, one of the first tasks assigned to me when I went to work at Arizona Highways was to write titles for various department squibs. Didn’t take long for the boss to figure out that my real talent was in writing cutlines. 😀

Or maybe carrying out the trash?

Still…it seems to me that a work of fiction benefits from chapter titles that say something. Especially if you’re going to publish chapters serially, as quasi-freestanding entities.

We have eight chapters online right now. And…well…the eight proposed titles scribbled on a yellow pad here don’t exactly leap off the page and sparkle in the atmosphere.

But…y’know…we do have some people who are following Ella’s Story. You’ve heard of participatory journalism? How would you like to join in a bit of participatory chapter title writing?

At Plain & Simple Press, the individual chapters are posted as entries in the site’s blog. All you have to do is scroll down: about every third post is a piece of Ella’s Story. If a good title comes to mind, either post it as a “comment” to that chapter, or, if you prefer, come here and post a list of as many titles as you cook up.

If you prefer not to sift through chapters from two other books to find Ella, all of her chapters are gathered in one place, at the Ella’s Story page. That being a static web page rather than a blog entry, it may be easier to post a set of proposed titles right here.

Hey! It’s better than workin’!

Speaking of working, it’s time to get down to that… Let me know if you have ideas for Ella’s chapters.


Blasts from the Past

HeeHEEEE! Earlier this morning I took it upon myself to look up an antique post here at Funny, by way of suggesting to Revanche at A Gai Shan Life that staying the course might yet be an option. Then I got mildly curious about other posts I’d published Back in the Day.

Most of the time I did write, boringly enough, about personal finance topics — the usual business about building frugal habits, staying out of Costco (r-i-i-i-g-h-t!), paying down debt, and Bag Lady Syndrome.

But every now and again… Heh heh heh. God, when I was a kid, I could really write. An anecdote, under my flying fingers, became a fantastic soap opera. Check out this one: The Great De-Wallpapering Adventure.

This little reminiscence wasn’t too bad, either: Are We Better Off Than Our Parents Were?

{chortle!} I can’t believe I used to write like that! 😀

FinCon AZ

Last night I attended a meeting of FinCon folks who live here in lovely uptown Arizona or visit. Deacon Hayes of Well Kept Wallet engineers these shindigs (though last night he passed the baton to another member); last night’s was attended by a roomful of PF bloggers.

What I really enjoy about this group is their amazing energy and ambition. These are folks who get on a mission and stay on a mission! Listening to them describe their marketing strategies and the great ideas they’ve designed for their websites and their businesses, I find myself thinking…i have gotta get off my duff… They really are an inspiring group.

Check out members’ websites (hope I’ve got them all!):

Money Peach
Well Kept Wallet
Pelleton Capital Management
According to Athena
The Debt Myth
Money Smart Family
Sunburnt Saver
Life in FIRE
Wealth Clinic
Mortimer’s Money Machines
Power over Life
Real Estate Decoded


This, That, and the ‘Tother

Cheers! Check out Kostas Chiotis’s latest round-up over at Finance Blog Zone. Kostas hit up every finance blogger in sight to contribute a blurb on how to manage debt. It’s old home day over there! (And new home day, too: a bunch of younger writers are in there with us old bats.) There’s Trent Hamm, by golly: the original inspiration for Funny about Money. Others of the old guard are there — Evan of My Journey to Millions wins my prize for “Man of Fewest Words”: on the subject of managing debt, says he, “Figure out why you have it.” 🙂 Many of the younger pups are represented, among them Ginger of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds and Shannyn Allan of Frugal Beautiful. Though Funny has drifted away from Personal Finance as a genre (once you feel you have enough money, the subject gets a lot less interesting), the niche is still alive and well.

{grump!} Just poured coffee on my keyboard. Looks like none of it got down inside there, though.

Driving to Tempe in a couple of hours to meet my bidness partner at our favorite lunch hangout. Amazingly, she did not get accepted to law school (those fools!), so I’ll be interested to hear what her next plan is. We also need to cook up a scheme for next year’s Society for Scholarly Publishing conference, whereinat she proposes that we do a panel presentation. She actually had that in mind this spring, but we missed last fall’s RFP deadline.

Which is good: it gives us several months to come up with a winning idea.

The half-dose of codeine worked…half-way. Still coughing, but not gasping for breath. Kinda doubt I can sing tonight, but at least I should be able to make it out to Tempe without expiring on the freeway.

While I’m running around, I should drop by a Sears. We’re told that Sears is on its last legs, and there’s a household doodad I need to get only at Sears. Dammit.

My fridge is a Kenmore. It’s run well for lo! these 13 years — twice as long as its engineered life expectancy, with no repairs at all. It dispenses filtered water, which is rather nice for one’s b&w’s… To do that, it uses an expensive screw-in filter cartridge. These things last a long time. In theory you probably should replace them every six months to a year, but in reality I think I’ve only used about four or five of them. They’re made by Kenmore. You can buy them on Amazon…at considerably higher cost than the already bracing amount you’ll pay at Sears.

So I think I’ll make a Sears run and buy two or three of the things. That refrigerator can’t last all that much longer. But I’d like not to have to replace if for a stupid reason like “they don’t make those filters anymore.”

Here’s a marvelous little gem in this morning’s news: The FDA announces that the very type of breast implants the boob surgeons tried their damnedest to talk me into cause cancer. Holy shit! Am I glad or am I glad that I put my foot down and refused to let them stick those things under my chest muscles!?!

You know, I rather like being flat as a nine-year-old. A pair of fake titties tattooed on there might be nice…but since nobody ever sees me except an occasional passing helicopter pilot (who deserves what he gets 😀 ), it’s surely not a matter of any urgency. Or of much interest. As it develops, almost all of my clothes look just fine on me. And for sure everything is about 110% more comfortable: no binding, no rubbing, no squeezing, no itching, no riding up, no sagging, no hurting. Just think of that: clothes that don’t make you miserable! And the joy of never having to shop for another bra ever again: priceless.

Somebody tried to shoot up the British Parliament, we’re told. How’s that gun control workin’ out for ya, folks? On the same subject, though, it doesn’t seem to be working out well here. In lovely Arizona if you’re a felon, even of the minor variety, you are prohibited evermore from owning a gun. That notwithstanding, a pair of nitwits — the as-yet unconvicted wife no doubt operating as a straw purchaser — enjoyed keeping a pistol around the house. The female nitwit tossed the pistol on the bed as she was fiddling around the house. Their two-year-old picked it up and shot their nine-year-old in the head. He died, after a pointless spell on life support.

You should have to pass an IQ test to be eligible to buy a gun.

The Economist is agonizing over Brexit and Scoxit — the Scots now proposing a second referendum to divorce Britain, so they don’t have to leave the EU. Of course, the journal being a very liberal, free-trade sort of publication strongly espouses staying and is editorially abhorred by the vote to exit and the ascendence of Theresa May. Yet they do (unlike American publications of record) publish reasoned arguments for the other side. A commenter in the March 18 letters, Robert Aitken of Oxford, asks a very interesting question: “if Britain had never joined the EU, would we now vote to do so?”

His answer to that fine rhetorical question is, in short, no: “Looking at the wasteful, sclerotic, and undemocratic grouping it has become, only a Euro-enthusiast of the deepest hue could think that we would.” The remainder of his letter explains his reasoning — it’s very much worth reading.

But in the “reading” department, Firefox is busy threatening to crash again, so it looks like it’s time to close this and close all the other tabs and shut the whole system down and go get ready to drive across the city.

And so, away…

The Amateur Videography Jamboree

Imagine a video of this critter in action...
Imagine a video of this little guy in action…

So I hired one of my former students, an audiography major with some video training, to help create the video application for the $20,000 business grant I imagine the Boob Book might be eligible for. He came over and recorded interviews of a couple women who have had encounters with breast cancer (one has recently learned she has a recurrence), and then went off to work on the results.

The plan was for him to come back and record me doing my pitch. However, knowing the kid has a full-time job (40 hours a week, can you imagine? horrors!), I figured it would be hard for him to squeeze in another recording session and do the editing job he’d set for himself in his spare time. To help out, I decided to use the Mac’s considerable video recording capacities to record my 90-second blabfest, and then he could splice what he has into that.

Well. The first effort was OK but not great.

Next thing I know, Connie the 18-Wheeler is in the offing. She’s in town for a couple of weeks, and she offered to use her iPhone to try to record a better rendition.

This was really pretty awesome. I can not, for the life of me, memorize 90 seconds worth of spiel anymore. Back in the day, when I was a young pup, I had a photographic memory. In high school and college, all I had to do was go over class notes and textbook copy a couple of times, and it was seared into my brain like so many PDFs. Literally, on a quiz or mid-term, I could see the page in my mind, right down to the page number. To answer a question, all I had to do was call up the page and read it. Cheating, no doubt…but it did work to extract a Phi Beta Kappa key and a $30,000 graduate school grant. 😉

That skill now gone with the proverbial wind, Connie decided we should record just a few sentences at a time. Since the pitch is very short, any given paragraph consisted about two or three utterances. Her idea was to move the camera angle back and forth for each new statement — there were five of them, by the time we broke the last graf in two.

Not a bad idea: it turned out that I can memorize three or four sentences, if asked to regurgitate them within seconds after going over them a dozen times. She also coached me in speaking as though I were speaking rather than reading from mental PDFs.

iMovie logo. Copyright Apple Corp. Fair use claim: Illustrate and identify the software under discussion.

The result was five clips with lag time at the beginning and end of each. Putting those together in a sane way required me to learn to use iMovie.

At first it looked TOTALLY overwhelming. But thanks to the Tyro’s Treasure Chest That Is the Internet, I managed to identify and find guides to the tasks that needed to be done: trim out the blank spaces at the beginnings and ends of each clip, blend the clips together, add a title at the front and a list of our contractors at the end (by way of making it look like we’re a real entity…we are, but we’re pretty ghostly), and even add transitions between the clips to lend a little logic to the shifts of angle. Since we’re a publishing and editorial company, I used page-turn transitions.

The result is certainly not professional, but neither is it awful. By the deadline, we should have something acceptable to submit to the contest.

And…my but that was enlightening.

The Mac comes with some surprisingly sophisticated software. There are two video programs in this thing, both of which can  be used to edit videos. It looks like iMovie can do a lot of stuff, such as add a sound track (music!) in the background and do a number of special effects. I think. With some practice and exploring, one could have a lot of fun with this stuff.

And create all sorts of marketing videos, eh?

What would you think of some cooking videos? Shorties, they’d have to be…but something simple would be easy to record with an iPad or iPhone and a couple of tripods. I could post them on YouTube and embed them on FaM pages, or on the P&S Press blog. Or both, for that matter, since embedding a video is not the same as typing identical copy into two posts. Hm.

And what if I did readings from Fire-Rider? Would you sit through that? Or how about a reading from one of the many essays I wrote during about my mis-spent youth? Or gosh…maybe even the poem that Puerto del Sol published…? Classic hikes in Arizona? Heh…would you watch one or more videos of a hike down the North Rim of the Grand Canyon? That’s something to see, for sure.

Would you be interested in watching stuff like that? Would you find it more interesting than a written blog post? Less interesting? The same?

Anna’s Hummingbird: Wikipedia, PaloAltoNorvig, Creative Commons.