Barbecue Zen: A Life Lesson from a Cookout

(photos from Nutty Nuchtchas and Bruce F Press Photography)

10385393_10201495629506364_381941092020939126_nThe week following Balticon 48, my social media feeds could easily be broken down to two topics: retrospectives of the event (which was awesome, by the way, and if you weren’t there—think about being there in 2015) and a variety of perspectives on the #YesAllWomen hashtag. While nostalgic and contemplative the looks back to the Memorial Day Weekend were, it’s been equally disheartening reading stories from people I admire and hold in high esteem like Dr Pamela Gay, Jared Axelrod, Chris Miller, either being victim of or watching others victimized by people who think they are cast in a season of Mad Men. Sure, there are men who behave badly in our culture but I had no idea just how deep this dark, twisted rabbit hole reached.

In this post I want to talk about both. In particular I want to talk about that amazing cookout you may have heard Balticon talk about on Friday night, and what we all can take away from it. Continue reading

I May Not Be Able to Hold Your Phone, but I Can Count!

I have been accused of being a real devotee of the house that Steve built. I admit that yes, I do love me my Apple gear…

  • MacPro…check
  • MacBook Pro…check
  • iPod…check
  • AppleTV…check
  • iPad…check

I have drank the Kool-Aid and I want more. I am impatiently waiting for October so I can treat myself to an iPhone 4 for my birthday. I love-love-love-love Apple…

…but today, my dearest love punched me in the nose. Really, really hard. Continue reading

I Remember Joe: 2010

I’m not the biggest fan of April Fool’s Day. Never have been. The history behind April Fool’s Day is quite cool, but that’s about it. I don’t like pranks played upon me and playing pranks on others I’m not too crazy about. (I do remember one prank, though, where a college suitemate covered another suitemate’s doorway with newspaper. Guy opens the door and sees a wall of headlines staring back at them. I had a hand in that, and that was funny. Not to mention, harmless.) April 1st Is also crappy when you have to report news or stay on top of current events, and too many news outlets now think it’s “fun” to throw in gag stories. And now, on Twitter, tweetpranks are running amuck.

Yes, I hate April Fool’s Day.

I hate it all the more as one of my best friends, Joe Murphy, passed away on this day in 2007.

joetribute

Every year, Jack and I ask that you remember our fallen friend, Joe Murphy. From the reaction on Facebook to my profile picture already (only posted an hour ago, and Robin Hudson, Marc Bailey, and Robert Goshko suggest Root Beers to be drank in his honor), the Community keeps Joe in their minds and hearts.

For those of you new to podcasting, you might have missed the audio wit and always-clever banter of my friend, Joe Murphy. He was (and still is) an amazing guy, his voice now part of the history of such podcasts, as Wingin’ It, Slice of SciFi, The Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas, and the award-winning The Case of the Singing Sword: A Billibub Baddings Mystery. He was taken from us too soon, and on April 1 we remember him.

I got to see Joe a month before he died, and it was hard. He was sick. You couldn’t deny that. On April 1, I remember my friend, Joe, in memories like the one I have posted above. I remember his banter against Michael, Evo, and the crew of the original Wingin’ It. I remember his loyalty. He pushed me to be a better writer, and he never pulled punches on how I carried myself, both as a writer and as a person. This is how I remember Joe. A smile that can turn around a bad day. An honest opinion that you could grow from. He was an amazing guy, and I miss him terribly.

Please syndicate this tribute show (originally produced in 2008 as part of the Give Us a Minute podcast.) through your feeds, blog about Joe Murphy, tell a friend today about Joe, show your support in an avatar change (be it a picture of Joe or a candle in remembrance), and let the Community know that you also remember Joe.

My Story So Far…

“I’ve put this off for far too long” — Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

This is something I’ve wanted to do for myself, for you all, and more importantly for my daughter whom you may hear me refer to here and elsewhere as Sonic Boom. I closed Comments on this entry as I think condolences and criticism people would express have already been made on Facebook, Twitter, and on my 5-word blogpost. If you have something to ask, something to share, or otherwise, it’s not like it’s hard to find me. I am visible on my respective networks once again, and my virtual door is open.

I’ll also tell you straight-up a motivation behind this posting has been the conjecture and criticism that others have expressed at both my expense, and at my daughter’s. As it is in a Community, there are a few that have been accusing me of not being up front, of misleading the Community, and taking advantage of the support and compassion I have been receiving over these past two months. Sure, you can’t have the positive without the negative, but this for them, too. “Put up or shut up,” you say? Gladly.

I don’t consider this blogpost “total transparency” because even with my love of Social Media I still believe some things are best kept private. This post is my perspective on a relationship spanning over ten years that took an unexpected turn and then came to a tragic end. No mudslinging. No ugly, sordid details. This will be my story, from the beginning.

I hope you will take a moment to read it. Continue reading

Feeling the Love from across the pond!

In this picture are two people that I hold very dear in my life. One of them is my daughter. I will let you try and figure which one of them is her…

martyn_kiddo

The other “bloke” is Martyn Casserly, a journalist, an accomplished musician, and now he is an award-nominated podcaster with his one-minute Movie Mantras podcast. (Martyn is also a dad and a good mate to boot…although his opinions concerning the new Craig-Bond films and recent Doctor Who are completely wrong, but I digress…) With the many endeavors he had going, Martyn approached me this Spring to talk about an article he was penning on podcast authors. He was optimistic that Wired Magazine (UK) would pick up the column. So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

This morning, I checked my Twitter stream and found this waiting for me:

My article about Podcast Authors is up on Wired ! @scottsigler, @sethharwood, @jchutchins, @teemonster all appear. http://bit.ly/Pv53w

Now live on the site, Wired Magagine (UK) picked up  “Novels by Podcast” where Martyn discusses how we authors are giving away our hard work in audio format for free. He also goes into the genesis of the podcast novel and why we do what we do.

“Giving away your stories isn’t a risk… it’s a competitive advantage,” explains Scott Sigler. “If a reader who’s never heard of me has $25 to spend and they’re looking at my book next to a Stephen King book, who are they going to choose? They take King. He’s a proven storyteller. But if King is $25 and my story is free they may try me out first. Why not? It’s no risk to them. If they like me, they buy me. If they don’t they buy King. Whatever happens the customer gets what the customer wants.”

It is a tight article covering successes and milestones; and while many who follow us on Twitter, on blogs, and through podcasts, may consider what we do “old hat” after four years, podcasting — and more importantly, podcasting fiction — is still a brand-spanking new concept to the mainstream market. Articles like Martyn’s and venues like Wired are getting the word out about what we are doing. That’s what is important here: getting people to listen.

Show Martyn appreciation by blogging about this article (and yep, I got it covered from the business perspective over at Imagine That!), syndicating his link in your feeds, dropping him comments on the article’s page, and talking it up on your podcasts. Let Wired know we’re paying attention and appreciate their support, and let Martyn know both on Twitter and on Wired that his words ring true.

Thanks, Martyn. Well done!

What’s in a Name?

I had something goofy-fun planned for this blog, but as it goes with blogging, writing, and ideas, I got an inspiration. It starts with my eventful yesterday at EEI Communications. The morning began with me being let go.

I’m only “mostly unemployed” as of Tuesday. I’m still a freelance instructor. I’m still available for public speaking events. I’m still working as a consultant. A problem with the freelancer’s lifestyle is if I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. Over the summer, one of my best clients — EEI Communications — came to me with a part-time position working logistics for all the trainers. It was a “trained monkey” kind of job, but it was income. In the end, I took pride in the fact I accepted a job nobody wanted and fixed a system that was severely broken. I was let go from this part-time gig not because I couldn’t do the job, but because EEI needed to make cuts.

So now I’m working on booking speaking engagements, landing freelance gigs, and finding a creative full-time position that would provide security. In my search-and-surf of opportunities, I came across Magpie. This service, in brief, puts ads into your Twitter stream. You set up how it works (i.e. for every twenty tweets, one ad with a Magpie hashtag is sent), and then are paid based on the reaction to the ad and how often ads enter your Twitter stream. The site offers you an estimate on how much your Twitter stream can earn, so I punched “TeeMonster” into my iPhone to see what would happen. According to Magpie, I could make somewhere around $7000 a month.

Woah.

GeekMommy‘s screenshot of Twitters using Magpie

I was all set to give this service access to my Twitter account; and then I thought for a moment about my last Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy, in particular my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Moment. I had recently railed on an author for being a Twitter spammer. All this supposed writer does is pitch, pitch, pitch, and link, link, link in his tweets. This individual didn’t start out that way seeing as I block the TwitterBots that do nothing but spam TinyURLs. If it weren’t a hassle to weed through my followers, I’d drop this self-proclaimed weblebrity, but I’ve learned instead to tune him out. That’s how I regard Twitter if a post from this individual pops up. I zip by it because I know the tweet is simply pitching something and contributing nothing. This is an issue I’ve always talked about with Twitter and Social Media: If you want to use Twitter as a marketing tool, the secret isn’t pimping, but participating. You need to build a community, be part of the community, and actively contribute to the community.

That was bandying about in my brain as I thought long and hard about signing on with Magpie.

How would it look if every twentieth or, if I was feeling particularly aggressive, tenth tweet an ad related on something I was tweeting about suddenly popped up. How does that reflect back on me? This wouldn’t be like the free version of Twitterific where ads are interspersed throughout the stream. These would be ads with my handle, my face. Magpie is relying on the network and reputation I have fostered to help promote their sponsors, sponsors that I personally cannot vouch for. Did I really want to be associated with other free blogging sites or online services that I myself didn’t (or wouldn’t) use? Yes, when I call for sponsors on my podcasts, I pretty much will consider everyone and everything; but in those instances I know who is sponsoring me, I’m the one in charge of the ad, and I’ve got cash in hand. With Magpie, I’m offering up my stream and the frequency of ads, leaving the rest up to Magpie. That’s a lot of control I don’t have.

Apart from the mystery meat of sponsors that could latch onto my Twitter stream like remoras on to Great Whites, I lingered on how the Twitter community regards me. Let’s face it — I tweet. I tweet A LOT. I have, at the time of this posting, over 23,400 tweets. All that tweeting, and I blog, podcast, and do puppet shows for my kid’s school. (By the way, George and I are coming back for a Christmas show. I’m thinking a two-“man” Christmas Carol in twenty minutes or less…) I love Twitter, and those who follow me on Twitter know that. I don’t call my followers “Followers” but my network. It’s old friends, new friends, fans of my podcasts, and Social Media experts and enthusiasts. Yes, I get picked on a lot and tend to be the punch line to many jibes … but there is also a lot of respect out there granted to me. People ask me on both TeeMonster and ITStudios (my professional Twitter account) advice on podcasting and writing. The Crew (fans of MOREVI: Remastered) playfully pester me when the next episode is coming, and then give me assurance when things like my MacPro failing on me (yeah, that happened the day before the layoff…) occur. There was, at the time of my layoff, an outpouring of support, love, and — for a few in my network — resources offered freely and openly. My network respects me. In turn, I respect them. What is that respect worth?

I then returned to my WTF Moment from SGWF #41. Is that what I wanted to become? Less signal, more noise?

Magpie wants to put a price tag on my reputation and my name, and I am flattered that they put my potential worth so high. (I am confused, though, how my value dropped by $3000 when I performed their evaluation a second time on my laptop.) Even if I were to earn half of what Magpie estimates, it would be some nice fun money for me. I could travel a bit more with my books. I could take care of a few bills. I could spoil Sonic Boom with some fun tech toys. But is my reputation worth that? My Twitter Persona under TeeMonster can be described as many, many things, but the term “spam” has never been associated with my tweets. I tweet a lot, but it is always with my voice, my thoughts, my passions.

“What’s in a name?” my boy Will Shakespeare once asked. Quite a lot, it turns out. What’s a name worth to you?