Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tizzy Season To Be Jelly

This chunk of the calendar promises crazy moments that buff out any ding or nick you may have.

(I was promised $50 if I could make some kind of uncommon obscure reference to Santa in the first line, and I went for the win.)

Anyway, here's a sampling of some of those recent moments...

Gram complains every year that she's never surprised. Maybe this is a geriatric thing, but we're not assuming that; we have a fun move in mind. Pipe tobacco. She has some of the Mammy Yokum look going, which gave us the idea. We won't surprise her with that observation; we don't want to be disowned.

A cousin quietly complained to me that her Mom lies to her about Santa and the Easter Bunny, among other characters. I told her that as long as she keeps talking about Santa as if he's real, she'll keep getting presents. Greed has its advantages, kid.

Here's the kind of shopping procrastination one can do in today's age: Last year, one relative sat on the couch surrounded by family and friends, tapping on his smart phone, emailing gift certificates from various online merchants to others in the room. Every minute or two, we'd hear a phone go off, then the owner would look at the text and smile and personally face-to-face thank him. Wonder what happens this year? There's no guessing.

A cousin bought a gram scale from a police auction. We dare not assume the previous purpose, but the plan for this year is creative: He's weighed every present he's handing out, and he made a chart, recording what gift he's giving to whom, by weight. As an untagged present is picked up from the tree, he'll weigh it, check the chart, and hand it to the rightful recipient. This is a perfect subplot for an episode of "Big Bang Theory". Who says reality can't match fantasy? Then again, they might use X-ray.

One relative wanted to celebrate Festivus and still maintain his green sensibilities, but he's pretty much given up on the idea, finding it impossible to locate an all-natural aluminum pole.

Due to widespread family, our Christmas runs late and long. Eight days of Hannukah? Try twelve days of Christmas, and for real. It starts by purchasing a tree the evening of December 24th, for a buck. And the savings beyond that... and the on-time shipping... try it; you may enjoy it.

I hereby break rank with my rule never to link to cute crud or anything of actual benefit and enjoyment by providing this:

Make it a joyous Christmas and warm holiday season with friends and family. You do deserve it, you know.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Only Tree In The Forest

My editor, King Seneca, suggests that I consider expanding my column as well as this blog into some form of cottage industry.

That concept amuses me.

Battalions of ideas march through my head, many of which aren't in the usual Facebook/Twitter categories. I could swing this.

I'm sure other coquettish maidens would enjoy the possibilities in a heart-shaped pillow like the one I mentioned Dix found charming, with the possibilities therein equally satisfying in real-life or imagination.

I had to have the ignition switch changed in the Tiger, and I kept the original. Maybe some fan would like to bid on the original keys on eBay?

He's suggested conferences, or seminars, or writer appearances, and perhaps discussing a page of my handwritten notes, then an auction of same for charity. A few with no direct profit could enhance it elsewhere, according to someone close to me who's bull-strong with Economics. Interesting idea, otherwise. Nobody knows what I look like, and this coming-out may prove productive.

There are so many more: My Cubs cap, my iRiver Clix music player (which I used to record many notes on-the-fly, over the years), and a Ky's Prize personally whipped up for an auction winner. Ky's Famous Decaf blend? A documentary on Istra Censi? (Why nobody's done that yet is beyond my comprehension.)

No, I didn't wander away from the topic.

J.D. Salinger was the lone tree in the forest. At once torn to shreds and applauded as a genius, he enhanced the buzz for his books by living out life in a small New Hampshire town, and living in... seclusion? No, in plain sight.

For all the secrecy and mystical ghost-like presence he had--sans telephoto images shot from the bushes--he spent far more than a few evenings openly enjoying local church suppers and other functions, known as Jerry.

Aren't there any real detectives left in this world? Oops, sorry, I guess it's just that those characters aren't graduating from j-school.

Without setting up a website and selling gew-gaws, pitching convertibles on TV, or opening his coat and whispering, "psst...buddy", he just went home and chilled with his homeys, and that was the exact right thing to sell a quarter-million copies of Catcher In The Rye annually, never mind his other books. And he was an author--of all critters--famous for writing a book, which is an oddball combination if one has celebrity painted upon them.

This was marketing genius, long before anything AS SEEN ON TV.

Billy Mays should have bowed down to him. As we do now.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Space For Sale, Space Sold

In hard-copy or online, that's what we do. That's what we all do and always have, in some shape or form. We have blank space for sale, and we sell it with a clever application of stick-on text and graphics. Furthermore, we power up a measure of that in most of our daily actions, in print or out of print.

You want to receive all you reach for in this world? I'm told to think marketing. I agree.

Check your ego the moment you awaken. I'm told that, too. And I'm seeing it work for me.

And there is more.

I'm obviously in the writing business, and I'm often not believing my good fortune when King eneca runs another pack of my blather, never asking me to submit something else, or suggesting that perhaps I've finally launched myself straight off the roof in a headfirst dive at the cement parking lot.

So it seems to be a bit of a neat trick to observe oneself unloading all trace of ego and attacking the latest and greatest opportunities to market oneself and one's wares. It's a type of stepping outside oneself and honestly and accurately judging one's work and knowing when it's got a shine and magnetism, and when it's crapola.

The first step is to recognize that, and to let the world know that one is ready and willing and able to charge full-tilt into the world of marketing savvy. (Did I say that right?)

According to a relative, this is hen's-tooth rare in the world of novel writing. Oh, that manuscript is my precious baby AND DON'T YOU TOUCH MY BABY! Or, "I recognize it's your baby, but I see so many freakin' baby pictures, I'm too toasted to tell which one is about to blossom into a best-seller." Well, maybe the literary world has to somehow have a structure that'll recognize the fire and drive in an author as well as his or her baby.

Maybe I shouldn't speak for my relative. I have a safe and secure job, and he's still scrambling to enter the world of book publishing, despite some track record and experience with a nonfiction work.

Gee, is the world of novel authoring as fictitious as the product? Maybe it's his place--and not mine--to decide to be that snarky. Or not.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Caught In The Inter Net

My editor, King Seneca, suggested I write a book, and thanks to the electronic planet we now live upon, we have a problem rarely voiced.

I'm guessing I checked in on a literary agent's blog and found some screwball formatting of text and images, and reported same. Considering how much I see and do on that internet thing, that is my best guess. I got an apology, and I'll accept it with grace, but I have no definitive idea why I received one.

In the age when visual text communication was all of the dead-tree style, there was the editor's cut-and-paste, and the dispersal of multiple copies of their handiwork, at once wide-reaching and limiting. Print eight thousand copies and you had around eight thousand readers. They digested your production, right down to all the whoopsies. Sure, a misprint caused chuckles and some ridicule, but only to those readers. Thanks to the internet, however, the entire world can see your screw-ups.

Then again, there's so much online, relatively few may see the results of your sweat equity, and it can be corrected literally in a flash.

What a colossal two-edged machete this Internutty thing is.

I suspect that the biggest and most widespread online entities hire folks whose entire goal is to minimize errors electronically cast out from pole to pole. Catchy appearance is always required, and so is not embarrassing oneself when one is implying crisp professionalism. And this stuff is far more complex than the cut-and-paste of eight pages daily.

You know what I think?

I think that, despite the grand and glorious opportunity for an eye-crossing hodge-podge where crisp layout belongs, there's also the broad opportunity for readers to give this stuff a pass, then go on. I like to think that the web-thing gives more readers more chances to show their grace and forgive and forget the gremlins too easily loosed upon them.

You think it's tough to bop out a daily rag on time and reliably ready for the corner hawkers? At least you're doing the same boring thing on a daily basis, so you're probably going to get relentlessly good at it. Just try a non-time-critical one-shot that doesn't present itself well to your intended audience because they're doing something freaky with their browser software, and you're using the simplest and most common and trouble-free gear, so you never see what the problem is.

Wow, did I ever get to babbling, there.

I need a really good editor.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Funny how technology at once connects the world and walls off individuals from universal contact.

I've done the standard wrestling with how to become all the more accessible, without spilling my personal entrails all over the internet and various data feeds.

I'll expand accessibility at this time with the following two services:

Email= kynelleharris (at)

AIM= KynelleHarris

As soon as I can figure out the advantages and function (and overall usefulness to others) of internet electron corrals such as Facebook and Twitter, I may adopt one or both. I may later consider others.

Then again, if the above two prove awkward, silly, preposterous, dysfunctional, and who-knows-what-other-forms-of-twaddle-and-lowest-denominator, I'll abandon them like a match lit a moment too long.

UPDATE: I've been told that I should lock down my own name on other common email services so no one can pretend they're me. I can't picture anyone degrading themselves in such a way all over the internet, but I followed through and now have and I won't answer emails through those addresses, just so you know.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Book 'Em, Jud

I was asked a semi-strange question in an email: Do I know any literary agents who handle commercial novels?

The guy was obviously fishing, assuming that since I'm a columnist for a periodical, I'd have contacts in other areas.

Sorry, reader, but no.

My editor, King Seneca, has kicked around the idea of a collection of my columns, but I don't know how it would sell when all my columns are passed around the internet like some bizarre peace pipes, and are readily fetchable on the Ticker's archive page.

The reader went on to ask me if I had any knowledge of a Jud Laghi, who's an agent out of New York. Definitely a fishing expedition, and not a productive approach for someone who is otherwise apparently savvy about the novel writing/submission/promotions process. And I read the first chapter, which sounds interesting--such as it is--but I don't read novels, so even if he went totally over the gunwale and asked me to be a beta reader, I don't think I could offer any worthy opinion, or additional aid and comfort.

Sure, I could likely blue-pencil it to confetti, as I'm proud of my ability to sniff out the naughty punctuation, spelling, and grammar gremlins. But I get the feeling he's written a drop-dead killer story, judging by the brief synopsis he also volunteered. I'm nervous about this, afraid I'll somehow wind up with more of the manuscript, and I may like it, and I may inadvertently plagiarize sections, or fall headlong in love with it and wind up killing columns with gushy babble. I may fall prey to the noise of the bestseller list and actually read it once it hits paperback, but my effort at the moment does not involve a prediction. It involves taking care of my own prose, and I have quite the load of that to dredge through.

Not because my editor warned me, or it's a facet of journalism I learned in school, or I have a legal beagle barking at freely-offered best-sellers-to-be accompanied by a faint-yet-detectable fishy aroma, I've got to request my readers to please not send me any of their own material. I'm not a valuable galley reader. I couldn't provide a snappy jacket blurb unless there's a blurb store in the neighborhood, and one that takes Visa. You'll have to hunt down your own literary agent elsewhere, on your own.

As you see, I didn't offer any cohesive reasons for deleting the email. Maybe the request struck me as just too weird to address with any lucid effort. I'm sorry, Mister Whoever-You-Are.

I'm rarely downbeat or setting up walls betwixt me and my readership, and I suffer the worst of fools far too gladly (as you well know by now), but I think I may have an excuse for my behavior, this time.

I had a disturbing last evening, you see.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wish It Were Only Fifteen Minutes Of Flame

I'm keeping my eye on the Flagstaff region, concerned for family and friends. Disasters happen in various scales, I know, but this one's ongoing and it's getting personal. I won't have a reason for anger unless it's discovered that starting this was deliberate, or dumb as a bag of hammers. See how I can't even conjure up my standard witty prose? I don't normally spout depression, but this maybe could have not happened, and there's not a lick of reason for it that I'm seeing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Line That Can Start A Worldwide Cheer

Nobody's buying "Save The Vuvuzelas" vanity license plates.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Digit Allies

No, I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, and from what I've seen of them, they're hideous.

If you didn't think that all of America is gushing "all about me" all over the internet, then you haven't seen any of this. MySpace is the fattest perpetrator, and though it's dying, the other two creatures have apparently picked up the slack. Maybe because the vanity isn't so blatant. ("Coffee maker set to Narcissus".)

I'm talking personal use, here.

I'm not so vain as to to imagine that others would want to hear from me through these two systems. So I save the world in my own tiny way, through the magic of fleeing in the opposite direction.


If I felt I had something genuine worthy to pass along, I'd surely do so. That's what my column is for, for the most part.

But if I had some business angle, or something going on that the crowd would like to get involved with, or something large in my life not appropriate for constant babble in the paper or here, then I'd jump in with three feet, if possible. I do see the worth in that case.

I'm wrestling with the concept of an historical novel about Col. Ebenezer Munroe, who allegedly fired the "shot heard 'round the world". Maybe I can write it so it would be the kind of bodice ripper guys would like? Two different covers; the standard one for girls, and a fire-spitting flintlock on the guy covers.

If I got that going, then, yeah, I'd be a Twit on Facebook, or whatever the process is called.

Until then, you'll have to suffice with the occasional note here, and my columns in the Ticker.

Unless, of course, the call for more involved contact was accompanied by cash. Then I'd jump.

I've never been accused of idiocy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snow Mean Feat

Mr. Shawn White should understand something rare and immense about his victory lap run in the recent Olympics.

Shawn, you gave the rest of us snowboarders something cool we can carry around, even if we only just carve the corduroy, as I do.

You call your closing trick the "Tomahawk", and though it sure looks like one and not a man-stuffing steak, the rest of us have a slightly different take on the name.

If you don't mind, we'd like to continue calling it the Double McTwist 1260.

If we use that term, we at least sound as though we know what we're talking about, even if that's all we meat torpedoes have going for ourselves.

Also, that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Just saying all that in public shows--in some way--that we're willing to execute some lip-cramping skill to pay homage to the first person on any planet to stomp one in public on purpose.

Outside the sport of out-of-control skydiving, I couldn't imagine any other butterfly-in-a-hurricane tumble that would befit such a name.

Go ahead and call it the Tomahawk. It's your baby.

We, however, would like to carry around just a little bit of cool, thanks to you, and calling it the technical term is a modest way to display our companionship and our thanks for cutting one loose.

You have that wonderful gold medal you earned, but we have our own little souvenir of the moment we'd like to carry around for ourselves, if you don't mind.

And, of course, we may have a hint of imagination, somehow picturing ourselves knocking one off, somewhere at altitude, above the edge of a snowy halfpipe.

Where are the hurricanes in winter when we'd like to have one?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guest Blog, Sort Of

It's not plagiarism if it's copied with permission, which this is. Also, the column inches in the daily rag are mine alone, so I guard them with near-psychotic jealousy.

Something every writer in every area should nail to the back of their head, lifted from a writer's forum:

"I learned something from my first book that few other authors seem to take to heart, but should: How very important marketing is, for the financial security and survival of all concerned.

The Knucklebook has sold only a few thousand copies, but I've learned a few fun and important things from the experience:

There is a built-in audience--in many cases--for a non-fiction work. Don't count on retiring on it--because it's probably not nearly as big as you think or hope.

If you really enjoy your baby, go talk about it. Arranging a newspaper interview or book signing is brutally simple, fun, and they generally go well. Don't expect your publisher to help, or execute that end well.

Whether the industry is rolling in real cash or staggering towards the next nickel, there are fun and savvy ways to promote your book and keep getting it out to interested eyes. And the way it's changing now, authors who are on the cutting edge of marketing are the ones who will at least enjoy the business, if not out-earn the competition... and maybe do it for a day job. While I won't do Twitter (because it's too much "all about me and my drivel"), and I find Facebook hideous and silly when it comes to genuinely connecting with readers, I do have a website and message board devoted to the subject of my book, as well as a website expressly for the book. On the book's website, I have sample links to three ideas I'm surprised nobody else is working: a free downloadable personalized note, a personalized sound clip, and a personalized video clip. I'm working with my publisher to provide these either to ebook purchasers, or those who find the link on my publisher's website.

Blog? I consider the subject's website a blog of sorts, but the main use of it is a gateway for newbies to learn about the subject, and a message board for anyone to leave their ramblings for all the world. I do have an interesting take on an actual blog, however: the main character of my novel-to-be is a writer, and I think it's amusing--if not a potential breakthrough way to connect with readers if the blog is "authored" by the main character.

Give your book long-term legs in some way. Heck, why not make it commercial? Anything wrong with profit, or potential profit from generating long-term interest in it? I'm currently working with a producer on a documentary on the subject, and I'm a co-writer of a screenplay based quite loosely on the book's subject matter. This may kick up some later sales. Quit thinking of it as work and think of it as cool fun, and you'll go further than the lazy and nervous authors who want to grab the maximum advance, then flee for the hills in terror. J.D. Salinger is quite dead, now, in case you haven't checked the news.

The real money may be in novels. You may not make it, however, if your sweat-and-blood-stained creation is yet another non-seller about vampires, the Sword of Omigod, or a little girl and her fuzzy bunny in 12th century Antarctica."

It's one thing to successfully rein in skittish blog controls, as I have obviously failed to do. It's something else entirely to actively throw effort into spewing in text form just to do so. Any writer who calls themselves one writes for others, and writes so as not to bore, insult, or disrespect. It's a calling and a duty, servitude to the readers, and it should be executed with all intellect applicable. Pleasing others is the essence of marketing. With any kind of luck, skill, or planning, money may follow. If nothing else, it's your best chance. And you'd better always enjoy knocking those words out in a way that you sense will please others.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bio Update

Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Macaroni a l'Orange Fromage avec Cardboard Box. Not as sophisticated as it sounds; screw it up and it still comes out palatable enough; and after all these years, still less than a buck.