How to get more views of your Facebook posts

Hi there.

Ever posted anything on Facebook? Yeah. Me too. Cat pics. Snarky comments. Photos of my kid punching me in the face while I’m wearing a sombrero. Books and paintings I’m trying to promote. Yep. Pretty much everything.

Thing is, Facebook isn’t the same playground it used to be. Not even close. A few years back, if you used your  page to promote something or share an awesome photo, a large percentage of your friends and followers would see it in their timelines. You really didn’t have to do anything special to reach an audience, even if you were selling something. If your cat pic was good enough or your art amazing enough, almost everyone would eventually see it. The algorithms were simpler, the interface easy to learn.

Sadly, this isn’t true anymore.

With the rise of Facebook marketing, junk like this takes up more of our feeds than ever.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but nowadays pretty much everyone’s timeline is sprinkled (liberally) with ‘Suggested Posts’ and ‘Sponsored Ads.’ Scroll down three or four posts into your feed and you’ll see them. Sometimes it’s junk marketing, sometimes car ads, and sometimes random products or services Facebook’s algorithms thought (usually mistakenly) you’d be interested in. But there they are, fixed on your feed for days, sometimes weeks, taking up a spot once held by actual content from your friends.

Now, if you’re just sharing a cat photo or a political rant, this change probably doesn’t bother you all that much. Facebook knows who your top engagers are (the people you interact with the most) and it’ll usually spread your posts to those people first, and then grow the audience depending on how much interaction you get. If your video of a cat attacking your ceiling fan doesn’t get quite as many likes as it did a few years ago, you probably won’t be too upset by it. You might not even notice.

But…

Suppose you’ve got something you really, really want (or need) to be seen. Something you’re promoting, selling, or just something important you want your friends and followers to view.  You want max exposure, right? You want more people than usual to see this special post. What’s the best way to do that?

Now we’re talking.

First and foremost, let’s discuss how NOT to gain maximum exposure for your big important post. Here are several common mistakes people make when posting something they really want to be seen:

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Things NOT to do:

 


Post a link to an article or website without writing anything in the ‘What’s on your mind?‘ field (or for business pages, the ‘Write something’ field)

Hit ‘Like’ when people comment on your post rather than replying with actual words

Post a link to something when a picture or text will suffice (Links only get max exposure when people are clicking on them, not just ‘liking’ them.)

Share something without adding comments

Post a photo with words or text blocking out parts of the image (Facebook hates this.)

Spam a bunch of posts in a small amount of time (Typically only the most popular one will get good exposure)


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Pretty simple, right? Now let’s talk about the things you should do when you’re trying to get max exposure.

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GOOD things to do:


When using the ‘share’ feature to draw attention to a post, add a comment at the top

Whenever people comment on something important you’ve posted, respond with comments of your own in addition to likes (if likes are warranted)

If you post multiple things per day, space them out

If you have the option, post pictures or text instead of links. If you need to post a link, make sure you write something clever, funny, or otherwise appealing to accompany it. You’ll need people clicking your link in order to get max exposure

If you’re paying to boost a post via your business page, use small, well-defined target audiences. Narrow down your age range, geography, and similar likes as much as possible

Always use good spelling and tight grammar. (Sloppy spelling and grammar can sometimes lead people to think posts are spam or clickbait)

Engage friends and followers in regular conversation. Research shows that interacting with someone on a regular basis (via their timeline, not Facebook messenger) will enable them to see your posts more often


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You want these.

…more than you want these.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of working within Facebook’s algorithms to get max engagement, let’s talk about a few other approaches. Assuming you’ve got something awesome and share-worthy, there’s still more you can do to get likes, comments, and most importantly (for some users) clicks.

Lesson 1: Beware Facebook fatigue

Have you ever gone on your feed and encountered a big pile of shared memes, pics, and posts…all by the same person? Yeah, you know you have. Don’t be that person. You’ll get unfollowed (and sometimes even unfriended.) But more importantly, people will tend to scroll past your posts. If spamming memes and quotes makes you happy, by all means do it, but don’t expect people to care all that much. One high quality post per day will defeat ten hastily put together posts. You don’t want to wear your audience out, do you? Nope.

Lesson 2: Carefully choose your tone (mostly for business page users and marketers)

If you’re on Facebook just to share family pics and silly, fun stuff, you don’t really have to worry about this part. But if you’re on a mission to promote something or you’re trying to focus on earning respect and gaining attention, it’s in your best interest to watch your tone. Stay away from frequent negative rants. Don’t often stray off-topic. If and when you get criticized (and you probably will at some point) don’t counterattack. Be cool, calm, and confident. And stick to your message, whatever it is.

Lesson 3: Don’t be self-centered

To get more engagement, likes, and views from your followers and friends, you have to give. If you post tons of stuff, but seldom click, like, or comment on other people’s posts, chances are you’ll get tuned out over time. Try starting up a conversation on someone else’s thread. Odds are you’ll have fun and possibly earn a few friends. It’s really that easy.

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Getting love and earning happiness on Facebook isn’t hard. You’ve just gotta play by their rules while staying as interesting as you can. When you do, the experience is better for everyone.

Though of course, Facebook could change their algorithms tomorrow and render this entire article obsolete. Let’s hope they don’t do that for a while.

Speaking of Facebook, hook up with me here and let’s talk each other’s ears off.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Writer of books and painter of shadows

My Seven Most Anticipated Video Games of 2017

Whenever I’m not writing fantasy novels or splashing paint on canvasses, I’m gaming.

Ok. That’s not entirely true. I want to be gaming, but more likely I’m chilling with my young son, doing laundry, or building giant fires in my backyard pit.

So…

I’ve decided that in 2017, I’ll get a little more screen time in.

And get back to my gaming roots.

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My Seven Most Anticipated Games of the coming year…

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horizon-dawn-zero

 

Horizon Dawn Zero

This PS4 exclusive looks like a beautiful riot. The details are still coming out, but it appears we’re looking at a giant open world (like Skyrim) with crazy enemies (like Borderlands) and amazing graphics and combat (like Witcher.) The best thing? It’s due out in February!  After failing hard at Dark Souls (I quit after the first boss) I need a fresh RPG/action game to get me back in the groove of not hating my controller.

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preyPrey

In reading the preview for Prey, one is reminded of hit shooter Dead Space. Got aliens? Check. Got a creepy space station? Check. Word is that Prey will have some customizable features, and the player will be able to steal the aliens’ abilities. Also…no levels. Just one big continuous run of terror. If it’s half as good as 2016’s Doom reboot, it’ll be awesome.

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The Last of Us – Part 2

Ok, so the release date of this one may or may not be in 2017. So what? It’s known only that it’ll take place five years after the original, and that the theme will be similar to the game we know and love. Post-outbreak…post heartbreak. Games like this balance out the typically hyper-violent fare made for gaming adults. Embrace it. It’s a good thing.

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vampyr

 

Vampyr

The promo for this game hooked me with the following line: “It’s up to you to decide whether to kill enough people to become powerful beyond belief, or heal London’s citizens and blah, blah, blah…” You mean I get to be an evil, soul-slaughtering denizen of the night? Sign me up now!

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Mass Effect – Andromeda

Having spent nearly a billion hours playing the original Mass Effect trilogy while crushing Reapers and chasing Miranda, it’s not like I can resist playing the next installment. Word is, the new game takes place 600 years after Commander Sheperd’s glorious victory. Plot details are scarce. But can you imagine how good this game will look on the latest-gen consoles? I. Can’t. Wait.

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Crackdown 3

Confession: I just replayed the original Crackdown on my ancient Xbox 360. And I loved it the same as ever. Even if Crackdown 3 weren’t coming out on a pretty new console with (likely) amazing new features, I’d play it. I could spend a lifetime hunting down Los Muertos gang members just to hear them insult me while throwing grenades at my face. My only request: they’d better bring back agility orbs. Because…“Skills for kills, agent. Skills for kills.”

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zelda

 

The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

They say it’ll be an open world resembling the original NES game. They say it’ll have fewer tutorials and less hand-holding. They say it’ll be friggin’ epic.

I’ll be buying a Nintendo Switch solely for the purpose of playing this game. I don’t really care if Nintendo publishes another game on their new console that I’ll like (they won’t.) Zelda is the kind of game I can play over and over again with my kid. We’ll team up to figure out dungeons. We’ll wait for Ganon to cackle. And we’ll be in heaven.

See you soon, Link.

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Think you’re a gamer god? Take this quiz and prove it!

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More video game goodness:

The Top 3 Video Games of Each Decade

My Top 6 Video Games of All Time

My Top 7 Video Games of the Modern Era

J Edward Neill

 

50 Things the Universe probably doesn’t care about

Take a nice deep breath.

Promise yourself you won’t get offended.

Accept the smallness of everyone and everything.

And enjoy…

50 Things the Universe probably doesn’t care about

meteor

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All the stars, galaxies, and interstellar dust in the universe probably don’t care about politics.

Or which party you voted for.

Or why you voted for them.

Actually, the universe probably doesn’t care even if you didn’t vote at all.

The infinite cosmos likely doesn’t mind whether people are fat or thin, introverted or extroverted, hot or not.

…though it might just care a tiny bit about its occupants being smart or stupid. Maybe.

The immense void in which we live doesn’t care what sports team we like, which TV shows we watch, or what brand clothing we buy.

…but it’s possible judgmental people are more likely to get hit by meteors. (May or may not be a factual statement.)

If the universe is careless enough to let millions of humans starve, suffer awful diseases, and endure being torn apart by war, it definitely doesn’t care about celebrities, fashion, or the complaints of wealthy people.

The galaxy isn’t much affected by humans making fun of the leaders and politicians they don’t like – it knows those same people probably aren’t doing anything about it.

The interstellar abyss doesn’t care who you sleep with.

Or why.

Or where.

Unless that person didn’t consent.

In which case the universe will probably f**k you over during your next life.

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I’m totally watching YOU.

If the universe is cruel enough to guarantee Earth’s sun will die and utterly annihilate everyone within a few billion years, it definitely won’t mind if you have another glass of wine tonight.

…as long as you take a walk outside to admire the stars afterward.

While it’s true several epic-level disasters in Earth’s history extinguished nearly all life on the planet, it doesn’t mean mass extinctions need humanity’s help. (That species you just trampled to death might’ve been the one to survive the next disaster.)

If it takes light millions and millions of years to cross the Milky Way, there’s no way our galaxy gives a rip about the five extra seconds you waited in traffic today.

…though it’s possible the person in front of you will get cancer for making you miss a light while they were checking Facebook on their phone.

Speaking of which…

The universe doesn’t pay any attention to Instagram.

Or Twitter.

Or Facebook.

But the cosmos is especially disinterested in Snapchat. Actually, whenever a human uses a Snapchat filter to add dog ears to themselves, the universe might just nudge all of us closer to death.

Nothing in the void cares about whether or not we believe in science. It knows the laws of physics better than we do, and it’s fully aware we prefer using science to make weapons and iPhones more than food and shelter.

It’s possible the universe doesn’t care one bit about all of humanity. But it definitely won’t care if we destroy ourselves before we even escape our lonely little solar system.

All the galaxies combined aren’t particularly interested in what skin color humans are. They know we all die the same in the cold dark vacuum of space. 🙂

The great cosmos is unlikely to be concerned with whichever god or goddess people worship. However, it’s probably amused at humanity’s hubris in assuming we know anything about how we came to exist.

Realistically, the universe won’t much mind if you:

Kill someone.

Steal things.

Or abuse your fellow humans.

But nor will it care when those same humans turn the tables and abuse you, steal from you, and stamp you out.

In its infinite wisdom, the universe saw fit to teach humanity about fire, agriculture, and beer.

…but it stopped paying attention after it saw people burning themselves with fireworks while drunk and eating corndogs.

The multiverse and every dimension between don’t care about your comfort, your lifestyle, or your money. Those things all burn the same in the fires of a star.

The cosmos is only mildly bothered that ships in the Star Wars movies still make sounds in the airless void of space. Actually, it stopped being offended right about the time it saw Jar Jar Binks.

The universe doesn’t care about how sexy people think they look when they take selfies. It knows it’s prettier.

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Honestly, the great dark cosmos doesn’t mind anything any one particular person does. It knows humans only live to be 0.000000000001% as old as stars.

Nothing in the universe cares what we call ourselves: kings, queens, poets, popes, warriors, saints, presidents, or fuhrers. The universe is patient enough to know titles and positions are just make-believe things.

Although the universe probably knows a good scientist when it sees one.

If the Milky Way and its other galactic buddies were to admit twenty things they liked about Earth, none of them would be you.

But one might be your kid.

Nah, probably not. 🙂

Since we’re all made of the leftovers of stars dying, we’re all pretty much stepchildren (since our sun isn’t the one who made us.) Which means the universe would probably feel bad for us. If it cared.

…which it doesn’t.

None of the vast powers in all of creation care how many marathons you’ve run, how much you can bench press, or how smart you think your dog is. It knows all your bumper stickers fade and crack in the sunlight.

If the universe overheard you talking at the water cooler about how well the local sports team played last night, it would probably interrupt you to say, “But did you see that supernova last night?! Pretty cool, huh?”

The only human device to make it completely out of our solar system is the Voyager I spacecraft, which happens to contain music, film, and culture all from an era older than most people on Earth. Meaning, even if something outside our solar system one day discovers Voyager, it’ll think we all like jazz music and don’t know about cool things like modern civil rights and Netflix.

Or, in an even worse scenario, since the first radio wave images sent from Earth originated from Nazi Germany, any aliens out there catching our signal will likely be horrified by us.

And the universe will just shrug.

Because it knows us better than we know ourselves.

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I was inspired to write this when I finished this.

Which in turn inspired this.

Remember…don’t take things so seriously. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got it pretty good.

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – How you gonna roll?

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, we look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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In the modern world we live in, many different people have many different ideas about how to be romantic, whether or not to get married, and how to handle intimate relationships.

If you asked a room of 100 different people, you might get 99 different opinions regarding the ‘right’ way to do things.

What if we simplified the equation?

What if we asked you how you like to get around…?

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Getting Around

 

From the following scenarios, choose the most appealing to you:

  • Be happily married to one person for your entire life. Never once have an affair
  • Be happily married for twenty happy years, but also enjoy a twenty-year period of single-dom, during which you have sex with at least ten different partners
  • Never be married. Have as much freedom and as many different sex partners as you desire
  • Insert a different answer here _________________

Well?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – Consequences, consequences

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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The Fear of Consequence

Morality is a slippery concept.

Good and evil have shaky foundations.

The point is: what’s considered good and noble in one culture isn’t always viewed likewise in another culture.

Moreover, left without supervision, individuals tend to take a lot more liberties with morality. If the authorities aren’t around, people will assault, loot, and murder more than if there’s a police car nearby with its lights blazing.

Which begs the question:

Are people ‘moral’ only because they fear punishment if they’re not?

If the concepts of authority and law didn’t exist, and no punishment awaited disturbers of the peace, would the world gravitate toward violence and entropy?

If so, does that mean morality only exists beneath the fear of consequence?

What say you?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Answer the Universe

This past weekend the NFL regular season came to a close, and for the first time since 2008, the Miami Dolphins have made the playoffs (apparently “next year” was this year). Aside from being happy to actually have someone to seriously cheer for this coming weekend, it got me a little reflective. I’ve watched nearly a decade worth of games where my team might have been in the mix only to fall short or, and this is more likely, they haven’t been in the mix at all.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

That’s a lot of football. Actually that’s a lot of mediocre football.

Strange then that I suddenly am thinking of all that “bad” time to be a fan when this is the time to enjoy the ride we’re currently on. I think back to J Edward Neill‘s post from last Fall where he swore off the NFL in order to regain the most precious of commodities: TIME.

(I know he slipped at least once…)

Every team comes into the season with a list of things they want to accomplish. It may start with:

Improve upon last year’s team.

Win the division.

Get a first round Bye.

Be the overall #1 seed in the playoffs.

Win your conference.

And at the top of the list is win the Superbowl.

That’s not to say that they actually are able to even compete for such an honor, but it is still there. Heck, there are a bunch of the above which are probably above and beyond a team’s LEGITIMATE goals. The key is that they still write them down. And it isn’t because they want to set themselves up for failure if things don’t go their way. No. They do it so that there is something to aspire to.

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Last week I put up my annual look back/look ahead blog post. Here’s the thing, that post is like 98% for me, 1% for my family (in case they might be wondering what it was I actually do during these late nights), and maybe 1% for anyone else reading the blog. I use it in order to get a grip on what the previous year might have had in store for me (or not). The look ahead is about setting goals for myself.

Maybe setting too many goals?

That’s fundamentally OK to do. If the NFL teams only set their goal on getting 1 more win next year, well that’s probably doable, but then what? You get that additional win and stop? Or do you shoot for the moon on the off-chance you can actually get there?

This is what I’m trying to get to. This is the type of work output, the type of word count I need to get to in order to have the level of success I want to have. So you get a list of things which either seem like they haven’t been accomplished or there are just too many things on the LIST to possibly get done.

There is some truth to that. Like so many other people I have various levels of responsibilities in work and life. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Then again, maybe I just didn’t use all that free time as wisely as I could/should.

Regardless, I want to say YES to things. Can I write the 1st draft to this novel? Yes! Can I edit this 2nd draft of a different novel? Yes! Can I write this comic script? Yes!

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I want to say YES to myself.

Think about the whole idea of Resolutions in conjunction with the birth of a new year. Right now if I were to do a search on New Year’s Resolutions I bet I’d get a ton of blog hits where it was describing potential goals or perhaps telling you how to accomplish your proposed goals. But also think you’d find some people who want to mock the very idea of the goals. They might consider it a waste of time to even bother. “Everyone puts all this nonsense out there and within a week or a month or 6 months it will all revert back to who you were before the pledge.” Yet, I’d say we’re all doing it on some level even if we don’t say it aloud or write it down. There is something you want to accomplish this year, right? You may not want to call it a Resolution, but it probably is.

And it’s OK.

The kicker to all of this is that sometimes you set the bar impossibly high and you get there. Sometimes the ball bounces your way. So put it out there. Put it into the universe! Have 50 projects. Have a plan.

There’s nothing wrong with striving for more.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

My life as a single dad (while making art)

Let’s be clear about one thing: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But with that said, single dad art-making ain’t always easy.

Almost six years ago, my son (the G Man) burst into my life. He was the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the brick wall of me. Upon his arrival, I prepared myself for sleepless nights, hours upon hours of crying, and the end of all my life’s plans. But as it turned out, none of that really happened. The G Man slept astoundingly well. He rarely cried. And as for my life’s plans, they turned off the path by a few degrees, but were hardly shattered.

Surprise, surprise.

But there were two things I didn’t count on.  The first, me almost immediately becoming a single dad after G Man burst onto the scene. The second, finding out my son was also my best bro, my comrade-in-arms, and someone who never wanted to leave my side.

Which, as a writer, painter, and 1,000 mph blogger, wasn’t something I was fully prepared for.

me-n-g-at-ren

We destroy our turkey legs as a team.

Yeah…so…while it turns out my writing and painting didn’t slam to a halt, they changed. A lot. Let’s start by talking about sleep. As a young dad, I’d always had this notion that my son’s bedtime would be…oh I don’t know…8:30ish. Nah. Not so much. I admit when I meet other people’s kids, I’m alllllllll about them being in bed early. But with the G Man, I find myself allowing him to stay up late. Like late, late. So instead of waging war over arbitrary bedtimes, I dim the lights, turn on the music, and dive deep into conversations I never thought I’d have with a five-year old.

Things like:

What will happen when the sun runs out of hydrogen to burn

Why didn’t Sauron from Lord of the Rings make a second One Ring

And why didn’t evolution grant sharks the ability to fly

And so the months went by. G Man turned 3, 4, and 5. 8:30ish bedtimes became 9:30ish. 9:30 became 10:30. Chunks of late-night time I’d once devoted to painting, writing deep, dark novels, and meditating morphed into something else, something just as sacred yet completely different. While I’d never judge other parents for putting their kids to bed early, I just couldn’t do it with the G Man. I begun to crave playing silly games, watching kids’ movies, and teaching him how to master Zelda – Twilight Princess. “I’ll just sleep less,” I told myself. “I’ll start writing at midnight. That’ll work. Right?”

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Trying on lobster costumes at approx 11PM at Target. Who needs sleep anyway??

Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all roses all the time. By staying up all hours with the G Man, my production eventually took a hard hit. I started writing fewer than half the words per night than I used to. I finished maybe four paintings per month instead of ten. My sleep suffered, not because of staying up late building Lego armies, but because I still pushed my output to punishing depths. I swore off sleep in favor of creating things. Later and later, I stayed awake each night.

But it turns out the human body has its limits. I couldn’t keep pace forever. My mind and my work begun to crumble. I suppose a more reasonable person might’ve said, “Hey, it’s ok. You’ve earned a break. Be at peace with creating less in favor of more face-time with junior.”

F that. I want it all. 🙂

sombrero

That’s me running on zero sleep (and margaritas.)

There’s an everyday equation we all must follow in life. It’s something like X + Y + Z = 24 hours. X is made up of the stuff we have to do each day. It’s work, chores, commuting, and other obligations. X is the hardest to change. Most of the time, it is what it is. The weekday value of my X is approximately 13. That’s a lot, but I’m aware some people have it much worse. As for Z, it’s exactly what you think it is: sleep. Some people can get by on 4-5 hours. Others need 8-9. The more sleep one gets, the better one’s mind functions. Therefore, Z can directly influence the quality of the rest of the equation. My Z value is about 7 hours.

That means, on any given weekday, my X + Z value is somewhere in the 20 range.

Which means I have about 4 hours left over for Y.

What is Y, you ask? Y is free time. Y is options and choices. Y can be consumed by entertainment, exercise, planning fancy meals, et cetera. Or, as in my case, Y can be reserved for art. For writing. For creating. In any artist’s life, having a kid complicates the value of Y. It’s a complication I’m grateful for, and yet it remains. My single dad Y isn’t the same as a lot of other artists’ Y. Even when I’m free to embrace Y, I’m not really. G Man is always at my side, tugging, talking, wanting to listen to music together, needing to engage in conversation.

So I’ve made a compromise. During Y time, we paint together.

And if I need to write, he reads.

It’s a solution I stumbled upon about a year ago. And it was completely by accident. One day, as I tried to paint while G Man was discussing the anatomy of stumpy T-Rex arms, we stopped talking long enough for him to ask a simple question:

Can I paint, too?”

Yes. Hell yes. In that instant, I became a tornado of movement, laying out a dropcloth, handing him a palette, splashing out some colors to paint with. It took a few times for him to acclimate, but after a few weeks – and ever since – he’s been a painting machine. He even painted the cover of one of my books. Yes…seriously!

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Are they tropical trees? Wind turbines? Monsters’ hands reaching skyward? Hell if I know. It’s still better than anything I’ve painted.

The painting problem: solved. A full 1-2 hours every day of Y value: freed up.

But what about writing?

Figuring out a way to write during G Man’s waking hours was more challenging. And yet…  The solution conveniently turned up mere months removed from the painting revelation. Four words: Goosebumps, Deep Space, and Ninjas. Into his hands, I poured R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, National Geographic magazines with lots of Hubble deep space images, and that silly series of ninjas-in-the-6th-grade books. Boom. Just like that, my Y time was defragmented. My painting output doubled. My writing was back on track.

And at the same time, G Man’s creativity soared. His reading skills improved drastically. His paintbrush moved with a mind of its own. (Only two spills so far.) He started asking for quiet time instead of demanding father-son Lego time. I was able to earn a tiny slice of Y freedom without planting my kid in front of a TV or kicking him outside.

Parenting is hard. This, I understand. What works today for me (and everyone else) might not work tomorrow. Soon enough, things like Little League, sleepovers with friends, and learning to drive will force some Y time to become X time. Ultimately, whatever becomes of my freedom, however small the slice gets, I’m ok with it. Because I’ll only ever get one chance to have a five-year old punch a sombrero off my face.

And that’s pretty cool.

Here’s some of the stuff G Man allowed me to paint.

And here’s the book I finished on his watch.

Love,

J Edward Neill

 

The death of 2016 – It wasn’t ALL bad

From the staff at Tessera Guild, we’d like to wish you a…

hny

2016 was one helluva ride, right?

Almost everyone famous ever passed away.

A reality TV guy became the U.S. president-elect.

And the best Star Wars film ever came out.

Meanwhile, the team at Tessera Guild punched out hundreds of articles on art, books, creativity, philosophy, and life, some of which you liked…and others you loved. 🙂

Here’s our top seven picks for 2016’s best, most engaging Guild articles:

My Mother – The Horse Diver

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

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Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Overused Words

writing

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Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge & Luminous Echo

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Inside One Artist’s Mind

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Three Little Sunsets in Florida

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Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

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And finally, included because it’s totally ridiculous (and totally true)…

Porn searches leading to our (totally) non-porn website!

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Here’s to everyone having an amazing 2017!

The Tessera Guild Team

J Edward Neill

John McGuire

Egg Embry

Robert Jeffrey II

 Amanda Makepeace

Chad J Shonk

A Thought for Every Thursday – Soul Food

Welcome to my weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

 * * *

Soul Food

First, a few definitions:

Soul – sōl/ (noun) – the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.

Mind – mīnd/ the component of a human being or animal that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences.

Despite our many technological advances, one thing science has yet to define and/or locate proof for is the existence of souls.

Also hard to define are the processes of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

So which is more likely?

Souls and consciousness are physics-based, and will one day be completely explainable by science?

Or

Souls and consciousness operate under separate parameters and are not bound by any known laws of physics?

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Resolutions, 2017

It’s gone… just like that. 2016. That bitch of a year that saw so many artists and creatives who touched our lives through various mediums pass on… it’s really only a couple of days left now. And it comes to me that I need to write my look back and then look forward for the new year.

And what I’ve learned is that the old saying “best laid plans” and all of that doesn’t always mean that you actually hit all the goals or even enough of the goals to feel like the year might have been a success.

But I feel like I’ve been creative. I feel like I’ve pushed some projects forward, but the madness of not quite getting to where you want to be, what you wanted to have produced is there as well. I can only blame myself for (most of) the things I haven’t managed to finish. So there while be boxes unchecked for this past year which will slide to 2017.

Writing Dark

The Look Back – 2016

The White Effect

The goal was to send it out. To try to find someone who might take a second or third look. Maybe, possibly, perhaps find a crack in the business.

I spent most of the beginning of the year sending out queries to various agents, and when that failed, looked to contests that might get me in front of editors. The ones who responded decided to pass.

That’s a little bit of a dagger. Death by a thousand cuts as it were. I was mentally prepared for that, but I’m not sure I was emotionally prepared for it.

The Edge of the World

Nope. Didn’t finish a second draft. Didn’t hire an editor. Didn’t do anything…

But I am in a different place with it than a year ago. I want to send it out. I want to see if maybe this one is the one.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

S.O.U.L. Mate

About 1/3 of the way through the first draft. This is both my big accomplishment and also another failure as I wanted to be done with it as well.

Where the hell did the year go?

The Dark That Follows 2

No update on this one.

The Crossing Comic

No update on this one.

Mystery Comic

Never got off the ground. Such is the way of these things…

Blogging

This is still on-time, every week. I’m not the machine that Mr. Neill is, but my hope is always that I make myself an asset for Tessera Guild.

Mystery Book

I did write a book this year. It was a present for my wife, and it took the majority of December to pull it off, but I got it done. I’m proud of that.

Short Stories

I continued to work on a handful of shorts, but didn’t get any of them to the finished point. Sigh.

blue-five

The Look Ahead – 2017

So in light of a year where not as much writing was done as should have/could have been… what’s the plan for 2017? Do I pull back a bit on the expectations? Do I try to set things up as being more realistic?

Nah. I need to push. I need to push myself.

The White Effect

Hire editor. Get published this year. Enough is enough. Time to polish this one and put it out there.

Edge of the World

Draft 2. Query Letters. It no one bites, find some other options. Worst case… hire editor. Get published by end of the year.

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft.

That seems realistic.

The Gilded Age

There is talk of a Kickstarter to help with the print costs in the Spring. Talk about maddening… this project shouldn’t have taken as long as it has. Could it be? Can it be? Done?

We shall see.

Short stories

See under blogging, but I need to finish up the few I have which are very close.

Veronica Mars Novella 2

Got delayed and pushed back. We’re soooo close at this point. So close. It will be published.

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Blogging

Obviously I want to continue to not miss a week. The best thing about Tessera is that it provides me with an absolute reason to sit my butt in the chair and get the work done. It puts me on a schedule. Yes, the hope is that someone likes what I blog about and maybe checks out a book, but it’s as much for me as it is for anyone else.

This year I’d like to push it a little more. Find a way to have some regular columns. Maybe try to do a Kickstart the Comic once a month. Maybe a Behind the Comic every month.

I’d like to get some of my fiction writing on here. There is no reason not to possibly serialize something for Tessera. Maybe I just need to set my mind to it.

 

As per normal, I’m probably biting off more than I can chew, but… but… you never know. Maybe this is the year that I hit all my goals and some.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

A Thought for Every Thursday – Angels vs Demons

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

For this week’s thought, let’s get a little personal. In modern society, there’s a tendency to label things (and people) as good or evil. No shades of grey. Just good or bad with little leeway.

Only…that’s silly.

It’s likely that in the history of humanity, no one has ever been 100% good or 100% evil. Even the best of us have done questionable things, while even the lowest and most corrupted of us have probably (even if accidentally) done something to help another person.

Now the question is: which of your voices is stronger?

How good and evil are you?

To solve this riddle, I designed a simple exercise called ‘voices.’

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Voices

Imagine a little angelic version of you lives on your right shoulder. This mini-you represents all that is good, wise, and optimistic in your life.

Now imagine a devilish version lives on your left shoulder. This little demon represents your impulsive, dark side.

Give each one a voice.

If they could talk, what would they say?

*

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Ultimate Wish List

When I was a kid the Christmas Catalogs were the end all be all of what might be available for the holiday season. I’d spend hours flipping through the pages, looking at the various Transformers I could never deem to actually ask for. I mean it was one thing to ask for multiple $5 or $10 or even a $20 toy, but I want to say that this:

omegasupreme

Cost over $100 easy. Didn’t matter that it might have been the coolest thing EVER.

Now that I’m older we call flipping through the catalogs Black Friday ads or at this point just going to Amazon.com and seeing if anything strikes my fancy. And sure, these days if I really wanted that $100 toy it wouldn’t break the bank. So like everything else we must aim a little higher. If money were no object… maybe a Brewster’s Millions situation or say I won the lottery tomorrow, but maybe it wasn’t a lottery win where I could buy an island, just enough to get some higher end toys and see how the “other half” lives.

(Note, this is about “stuff” not experiences. Yes, I’d love to travel with my sudden imaginary wealth. This isn’t about that.)

brewsters_millions

3D Printer

$3-8,000

Years ago CD Burners were this mythical thing. Having the ability to copy someone’s cd directly instead of saving it on a tape? Having that extra space for easily transferring files back and forth. These were the pipe dreams of a younger day. But I spent about $200 on a cd burner while I was in college because no one else had one on the hall. And it got used to make copies of anything and everything.

This item though… what would I actually do with one? Probably dick around with it. Maybe make miniatures. Maybe make game pieces. I’m sure I could figure out something once I actually had it.

That’s not the point of the list. I don’t have to have an actual purpose designed for it.

avengers-4

Avengers 4

$6,000

For the uneducated, this is the Silver Age debut of Captain America. After spending two decades trapped in ice, a fledgling team of Avengers finds and revives him. What you might think of as the “core” team really comes to fruition in this issue. An idea that a lost relic from another age of comics could not only come back, but eventually be the heart and soul of that team…

While I own just over 10,000 comics, I’ve been in the process of trying to collect a full run of the Avengers books. The oldest issue I have is #9, and the bulk of my run really begins in the 130s and up. This would really be a true linchpin of any collection.

wsop-logo

Entry into the World Series of Poker Main Event

$10,000

We (my wife and I) play poker once a week at a restaurant. I have no illusions that this makes me anything other than someone who likes the game enough to play every week.

However…

There are stories all the time about some person no one ever heard of before suddenly has a nice run in the tournament. I’m thinking “I could be some person”.

 

Superbowl Tickets

$6,200

I know I discounted experiences above, but this is one of those that I could never justify the money other than within this blog. Vacations, even to exotic places, can still happen in my real life.

Mostly this is about experiencing the atmosphere, seeing a game the whole world is watching…

And maybe cheering on the Dolphins?

R2-D2 Moving Frig

$8,000

Because sometimes the real refrigerator is too far away.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Change Out The Calendar

new-years-day-2017

When I was younger I did the same thing every New Year’s Eve. As the clock began its approach to midnight, I’d start to get melancholy about what the previous year was leaving behind. I felt like I had to internally verbalize them. I would walk through every major accomplishment for myself and anything that had captured my attention in the world that year (to various degrees as when you are 8 or 9 you don’t really know much about the “goings-on” of world politics).

In this I was able to say my goodbyes, somewhat convinced that if I didn’t do this that the people and places and events might not mean as much to me in the future. Imprinting some aspect of those memories deep within the well of my brain’s knowledge. That somehow I was beginning to see Time with a capital “T” as this freight train rolling along and most of us its passengers for as long as it will have us.

So while many people were looking toward the future with hope and joy and just that tingling sensation because “This year is the year!” I was this kid who fretted and worried that because the calendar had changed it meant everything before no longer mattered in the same way it had only a few minutes before. That somehow the tether was broken and nothing could get it back.

Change is worrisome no matter if you are 6 or 60.

father-time-and-baby-1909

Those images of the Old Man and the New Baby troubled me. Everyone was ready to discard the old man. He’d had his life in the sun, but he was past his prime. It was time to embrace the new.

I always felt bad for that old-timer. Just by virtue of not being shiny and new it meant that his day in the sun was long since passed? Somehow that couldn’t be fair. He should be honored for what he gave, what he accomplished, and that meant taking a small amount of time to recount those things – if only to myself, well then I was going to show the proper respect to the passing of another great man.

I continued doing this for a long time during my teens. Year after year of saying this weird form of prayer by cataloging exactly what had come before. For me this was entirely about the past and not the future. Anyways, my future was marked by the end of the school year, something which didn’t occur until June.

Something changed in my twenties though. I don’t remember doing the mantra much during that decade. Maybe I did it once or twice, but that’s a complete guess. And I’m not entirely sure why it happened (or more to the point, didn’t happen). Perhaps it was because I was out and about many of those midnights with friends and the distraction was enough to  keep me from focusing on that negative of the calendar turnover. Maybe when you are on your own the world looks a bit different. Maybe because I was in a different school which didn’t have a clock measuring the days before I was gone (unlike high school).

My habit returned in my thirties, not every year, but enough that I notice them. Days long gone suddenly have a meaning that I wasn’t expecting.  You start creeping to the tipping point where you are closer to death and birth and again Time wants to crush you. It wants to figure you out, make you its bitch… if you’ll let it.

I think they really kicked in during what my wife and I called the black year (even if that year was stretched out over about 18 months). Multiple deaths with grandparents on both sides passing, our first pet as a couple dying (after 7+ years), and both of us getting laid off from our jobs (though, thankfully not at the same time).

When it came time to say my mantra during those years it was with a bit of hope and disgust. Finally, I wanted to kick that Old Man out on his ass. I wanted to forget everything about the bad and good of the previous year. As if not doing the mantra would make it so that these things would not have happened. The mantra was to look forward at potential possibilities.

2016 has been noted for the many celebrity deaths where the people were, in some cases, icons of their industry. I think for many of us this might be the first time we’ve ever had that happen to people who were a part of our lives through their music or their work on the various large and smaller screens. People we “grew up with” are now gone from the world. A true reminder of our own mortality.

california-highway

In the next couple of weeks it’ll be time to say goodbye to 2016. And while for most it will be done with a middle finger, I think I’m going to let myself take those moments again. Speak my mantra, and try to really record what I saw and what I felt leave us throughout the year. Not in an effort to hang on to the past, but in order to truly move on to a new path.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Trivia

So you say you want to know your friends and significant others better?

You say you want to understand them?

Easy.

Just make them answer all the questions below. And then, after they reply, send them all your answers.

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It’s The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz

* * *

What is your favorite nickname?

And your least favorite nickname?

Were you bullied in high school? Or were you the bully? Explain.

How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage? And what was it?

Have you ever been arrested? If so, why?

And if not, why not?

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the thing you’ve done you’re proudest of?

well-thats-embarrasing_o_1198717

Ever won a fight?

Ever lost one?

Ever wanted to fight someone really badly, but walked away? (Details!)

Pretend you have to explain human reproduction to a ten-year old. How would you do it?

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

How upset would you be if a friend told you a harsh truth about you? (About your appearance or your personality.)

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the most badass thing?

Ever done something truly charitable?

And how did it feel?

hand-serving-soup

Is it ok to lust after someone?

To what degree?

What’s the sickest you’ve ever been?

If you could fight anyone in the world to the death, who would it be?

Be honest. Would you win?

As a little kid, what was your favorite pet’s name?

And how did they die?

Describe how you feel about sports in three words or fewer.

Describe how you feel about video games in five words or fewer.

Coffee or tea?

Beer or wine?

On a scale of one to ten, how artistic are you?

If higher than a 7, explain.

What was the last concert you went to and how much did you enjoy it?

Name your least favorite food of all time.

giphy-facebook_s

In how many minutes could you run one mile?

What about a kilometer?

…yes, those were actually math questions.

Name a historic war whose purpose and outcome you would have supported.

If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, state how many days (realistically) you would survive.

Justify your answer. ^^^

How many TV shows do you need to watch every week?

On a scale of 1-10, how emotionally involved in politics do you get?

Also on a scale of 1-10, how much are you willing to discuss your religious (or non-religious) affiliation?

Are you a humble person?

Explain. ^^^

What’s your personal comfort food?

How many countries in the world have you visited?

Can you say a curse word in a language other than your own?

Do you believe in luck? Good? Bad? Or both?

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If you can, name two awesome things about your home town.

And two not-so-awesome things.

What one law you’d like to see repealed?

Who’s one person you’d like to see brought back to life?

Have you ever won a contest, a sporting event, or a televised game show?

What’s one word you’d feeling very uncomfortable saying out loud? (use asterisks if you don’t want to type it.)

What skill do you possess that you’re probably better at than most people?

If someone wanted to corrupt you, what’s something they could offer to turn you to the dark side?

If you can, name one thing you’d like to see banned in your home country.

easter-banned-title

You’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. Name it and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

Do you think you’re smarter than the average person?

Stronger? Faster?

Is it sometimes ok to be loyal to someone even when they’re doing wrong?

How long (in minutes) do you spend in your average shower or bath?

Describe the perfect day in terms of temperature, climate, wind, and appearance of the sky.

If you could afford to hire a maid to do most of your cleaning, laundry, and cooking, would you?

Is it ok to judge someone’s character based on one or two of their deeds?

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

If you could master one skill (any skill in the world) in just one day of study, what skill would it be?

Name one thing that disgusts you.

Which of your family members is most likely to embarrass you?

Name one item on your personal bucket list.

If a famous author wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

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The Ultimate Get-to-Know-Someone Quiz is now a book released under the same name.

If you prefer deeper, darker questions, satisfy your quiz & questions fetish right here.

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – How far are you willing to believe?

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

Two Worlds

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Human beings experience some pretty strange phenomena.

Things like déjà vu, synchronicity, placebo effects.

Despite the belief (or hope) that these effects are spiritual or otherwise outside the realm of explanation, most of them have causes rooted in science.

And yet…

A few phenomena exist that have yet to be fully explained.

Things like ghosts, past-life memory, ESP.

Which leaves us with three distinct possibilities:

These things don’t really exist. People make them up.

These things do exist, but have scientific reasons we’ve yet to find.

These things do exist, but have causes outside the realm of science.

Which one do you think is most likely?

And why?

Walk to the light

*

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

My Mother: The Horse Diver

Another month, and a little more insight to my own family’s past. I only wish that I had an actual picture of my grandmother to show along with the following…

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My Mother: The Horse Diver

By: Mickey McGuire

 

My mother was the best cook who ever lived. I also knew her to be the most critical person whom I have ever known, and, in her later years, one of the most fearful and paranoid. On her good days, she liked to laugh and joke. She loved to fish- both salt and fresh water; she was the first to drop her line and the last to leave. She wrote short stories, poetry, and a book about life in the Okefenokee Swamp.

She tried to be a good mother- nurturer to me she was not. In all fairness though, I saw her warm and fuzzy side as a grandmother to my children. Although our relationship was complicated at best, I never doubted her desire to see me succeed at a level which surpassed hers.

On the days her demons rose to the surface, she drank vodka- sometimes a weekend binge a month, other times many months would pass without any drinking. The realization of her drinking for the day assaulted my nose and sensibilities as soon as I opened the door in the afternoon after school- Momma asleep/passed out in the bed and the rest of the house a cold vacuum where sadness and pain lived.

I never saw her take a leisurely walk or do any form of formal exercise. Does pulling a wagon with fishing equipment count? She smoked two packs of Kent cigarettes a day, ate fried Southern food on a regular basis, drank off and on her whole life, and still lived to be 79.

That was the mother I knew. Married already for twenty years, my parents adopted me in their forties. I was the baby who would surely fill that void in my mother’s life.

***

But there was another person I never knew. Families have their share of stories and legends, and my mother had a crazy one- she was a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the summer of 1933 when she was seventeen. At that time, the diving show on the Atlantic City Steel Pier had been in existence since 1928. The horse diving show had been the creation of William “Doc” Carver in the 1880s. Originally a traveling diving show, it had become the primary attraction of many carnival acts on the Boardwalk.

 

horse-diving

 

This was a show not for the faint of heart or spirit. A pretty girl sat on the back of a huge horse and dove 40-60 feet into a 12 foot pool. That depth was just enough for the horse to reach the bottom of the tank and push-off to swim to the surface. Different horses dove four times a day, seven days a week for the price of a one dollar admission to see this remarkable feat- definitely meeting the criteria of an extreme sport by the standards of that time. Divers made $50- $125 per week, a fortune compared to the normal $15 per week in a department store.

How would a seventeen year old girl from Waycross, Georgia, ever be a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, you might ask? That summer my mother had gone to stay with her older brother and his wife in New Jersey, a place where my uncle had found better job opportunities as a welder in the shipyards. My mother’s cousin Marie was already a temporary diver for the show. The star diver Sonora Webster Carver- also a Waycross girl- had been blinded on one of the dives in 1931, and, according to her autobiography, had needed rehabilitation and time to learn Braille. So the summer of 1933 could have very well been a period of transition where many different divers were used in the shows. According to Sonora’s sister Arnette French in the autobiography A Girl and Five Brave Horses, “If you rounded all the riders up, we’d fill Convention Hall- we were the stars of the Boardwalk.”

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

According to Momma and Sonora Carver’s autobiography, you had “to keep your head tucked to one side, so that when the horse raised his head as he jumped up at the bottom of the pool, you wouldn’t get smacked in the face.” That would have been the least of my worries. How would you have the nerve to jump on the back of that gigantic animal and then jump off a stand 40-60 feet in the air into 12 feet of water? What about being thrown off or kicked in the head under water? There were documented bloody noses, black eyes, broken cheekbones, collarbones, and teeth. Amazingly, no diver fatalities ever occurred. Sonora Carver’s blindness was the worst of the injuries, and she continued to dive despite her blindness for many years.

***

How does one person meet adversity and thrive despite it while another is haunted by her/his demons?  How did my mother evolve from having this courageous spirit and complete recklessness of youth to being beaten down from the disappointments in her life? If she could be a horse diver, she could have accomplished anything. I do believe life is about choices and consequences. She could have taken that job with Western Union and had her own career. She could have moved to a big city. She could have divorced my father. She chose to stay in the marriage, to live in the small town, and be a housewife. The life she chose would eventually lead to her becoming my mother, all the good and the bad of it. She was the mother I was supposed to have. I am who I am because of it.

I wish we could have had a different relationship… but we did not.

Instead of thinking about what might have been, I love to think about my mother dressed in that sequined bathing suit, waiting for that nearly one ton animal to reach the top of the ramp- her red hair flying- fearless and carefree- her future ahead with so much promise.

 

Credits: Carver, Sonora. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2016.

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Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Sadly, There Is No Easy Button For You

Spam has taken on a new meaning for me ever since I decided to publish The Dark That Follows and start writing a weekly blog. Then again, spam has probably morphed over time regardless to what I’ve done. It just seems I’m paying attention to some of it more than I might have been in the past.

no-junk-mail

“Click here to sell more books today!”

“Learn how to drive more traffic to your blog!”

“The only way to write 10k words in a minute!”

“Make her excited-” erm… OK, maybe not that one. But you get the point.

According to when and where I actually come across these potential articles/blog posts/click-bait/random something else all determines as to if I’ll actually click on them. Yes, many times I stumble across them while I’m in the midst of some other internet rabbit hole, but most of the time I search these damn things out.

Why?

I mean, I’m not dumb. I get what they are doing. However, I also am in this weird place whereby I want to learn the secrets they supposedly have to share. I keep thinking that while I might not be Shakespeare or Twain or insert your favorite author here in talent level, there are literally hundreds of authors who have figured all of this out while not… well, they try, but…

OK, let’s face it. A lot of them aren’t very good at actually stringing two words together. Ask them to put more than four or five in a row with punctuation? Well, that’s the end of that idea.

But they have it figured out. Right?

easy-button

They’ve found the magical EASY BUTTON! So I click on their link and read and try to find that nugget of information which will blow my mind. That knowledge where just prior to it I was only a monkey and now afterwards I am able to use tools and make a fire. This is the type of stuff I’m looking for.

It eludes me.

I do everything wrong. Or in the wrong order. Or I’m impatient. Or I’m too patient. I don’t have enough time to write. I have too much time to write. I goof off. I don’t goof off. I should reach out to more people. How do you reach out to more people? Get involved with a group. I did that, nothing’s changed.

My mind becomes a barren wasteland full of left over billboards which say the above… dotting the horizon with their mocking attempts to “HELP” me.

***

A side story – When I applied to go to Georgia Tech there was a little spot on the form where you could put a Major or you could put Undecided. Now when I filled this out, I was in the midst of thinking I wanted to be a computer programmer. As such, during my senior year in high school I took a Computer Programming class. I’m pretty sure I was doing well in the class (well enough), and the last thing I wanted to do was put Undecided. That might make it seem like I didn’t have my shit together (I was 18… of course I didn’t have my shit together). So I put Computer Science down.

Fast forward to my first quarter at Tech. I’ve long since given up the idea of going into computers. By the end of the year I just didn’t feel like I “got it”. It was hard to explain, but I figured out I wanted to go into Civil Engineering.

And that’s when I found out that because Civil Engineering was “Full” I couldn’t transfer in. However, I could have done so if I had been Undecided.

<Slaps head.>

So I went and talked to the head of the department during the Fall. He told me to come back during Winter Quarter. So I went during Winter Quarter… still no openings. Come Spring I was beginning to wonder if I needed to escalate this foolishness. Maybe reach out to someone else (not sure who I was going to reach out to, but something needed to be done!).

I knew the classes I needed to take. Nothing prevented me from taking them. As long as there was an opening in them, you could enroll in pretty much any class. When I went to talk to the new head of the department he gave me more of the same song and dance.

<I wonder if this was the same game the insurance companies do when they immediately deny anything you apply for thinking that most will stop there?>

At that point I’d had enough of the run around. I remember shaking his hand, thanking him for his time, and letting him know that I would see him that Summer to have the same conversation. Furthermore, I knew the classes I needed to take to become a Civil Engineer, and that was the path I was going to head down. So whether he let me in then or in a year I was going to get in.

He blinked. Asked me if I was telling the truth about my classes that quarter (I was). There was a pause, and then he asked to see my form to transfer into the School of Civil Engineering.

***

wall-crack

I wrote the above to remind myself that this writing gig is just the same.

I’m stubborn.

This is my gift. This is my curse.

I will bang my head against that wall until the wall collapses.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

How to spot and ignore fake news stories

Can we talk?

Look…

I don’t know whether or not fake news influenced the election.

I don’t know…and I don’t care.

But what I do know is this: an incredible amount of otherwise intelligent-seeming people have started a trend on the internet: posting (and believing) news stories that are so obviously false, it injures everyone’s eyes to see. They’re doing it at a higher rate than ever. It’s gone from one fake story per week to several every day. It’s obnoxious. And more than that, it’s sad.

No, Conor McGregor didn’t retire due to some random scandal.

Will Smith didn’t assassinate Trump.

The President didn’t ban the Star Spangled Banner at all sporting events.

All the stay-at-home moms in Connecticut didn’t rake in $20,000 per week using some ‘weird trick.’

It’s getting exhausting. And embarrassing. And by embarrassing I don’t mean for the people and sites who post the fake drivel. Those people, classless as they are, are just trying to earn money. No, by embarrassing I’m talking about the people who believe in clickbait and fake news stories. The people who click on it. The people who share it and try to spread it as though it were gospel.

It feels like some of us are able to spot fake news at a glance, but others have no idea that they’re getting worked up by stories that aren’t even close to being true. People are gobbling this stuff up. And while it’s not as if lies and propaganda are new things, the existence of the internet changes the game. It means everyone is exposed. Always.

More importantly…

Facebook and other sites aren’t going to meaningfully crack down on fake stuff. See, Facebook gets paid to run these ads, and the content doesn’t appear to matter. For example, I sponsor business ads on Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, art, and other materials. But when I flip over to my personal page and glimpse the kinds of ads that appear, it isn’t cool, creative stuff I see. It isn’t interesting at all. It’s spam. It’s how some douchey guy made millions because of his non-existent genius. It’s how some celebrity died tragically (they didn’t) or some congressman murdered his dog (his dog is fine.) It’s fake news, usually some politically polarizing junk or straight up scammy garbage designed to get a click, spread a lie, and earn the offending website cash.

It kills me that people believe this stuff. It hurts my human sensibilities. How are we this dumb, this unable to see through super transparent BS? How is it people aren’t able to distinguish between satirical articles and maliciously fake trash?  I think I secretly know the answer (some of us want the fake news articles to be true, particularly the political stuff) but I’m willing to reserve judgment.

No. Actually I’m not. I’m totally judging.

Here’s just a splash of recent fake news headlines people actually believed: (These are the actual headlines, some of which have 10,000 or more Facebook ‘shares.’)

BREAKING: Hillary Clinton files for divorce.”

Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9!”

Tens of Thousands of Scientists Declare Climate Change a HOAX!”

“President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Sale of Assault Weapons!”

“IT BEGINS: Watch Cops Drag Girl out of NC Bathroom for not Looking Like a Woman.”

* * *

Presently, there’s an article out there listing 130 sites that either promote fake news or use misleading, clickbait-ish headlines. Whether or not every single site listed is actually fake or not isn’t important. What’s important is that from several of these sites, dozens or even hundreds of articles are poured into the internet every day. Misleading articles. Biased articles. Editorials masquerading as journalistic truth. Fake stuff that people you know have read and consumed as if it’s 100% factual.

Here’s what’s up:

You can’t rely on the internet to week out fake news.

It’s not going to stop. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

It’s on you to stop it, not Mark Zuckerberg.

There are several articles out there (here’s one) discussing methods of outsmarting fake news. They’re good articles in spirit, but ultimately they’re not simple enough. The kind of people who need to learn how to spot fake news aren’t going to read an ad-riddled, image-filled epic novel about the topic.

It’s really not that complicated.

It’s actually pretty easy.

To eliminate fake news from your consciousness, what you need to do is:

Stop getting your news from Facebook and Twitter. Just stop. Right now

Be automatically skeptical of anything (not just news) you read anywhere on the internet

If something is obviously inflammatory toward a public figure, assume it’s BS until proven otherwise

Especially when using social media, assume anything other than cat pictures and cute photos of your friends’ kids is fake

*

Being an honest, conscientious citizen in the modern world involves more than just basic knowledge of how to click through the internet.  You need to step up your game and double down on your critical thinking skills. It isn’t being pessimistic or paranoid. It’s not cynicism. The skills you need to defeat fake news are skills you probably already possess.

Do your homework.

Trust your gut.

Seeing is believing.

*

I don’t know what else to say. While I’m aware there are plenty of people who either don’t care about fake news or actually think it’s cool to spread lies, I want to believe in my heart most of us want it to end. If that’s true, if that’s really true, people need to stop looking to others to solve the problem. Crushing this problem isn’t the internet’s problem. It’s not Facebook’s fault, nor Twitter’s.

It’s on YOU. 100% on YOU. Always has been. Always will be.

Now…

Go forth and click less. I’m counting on you, yes YOU, to never share another fake news headline again.

🙂

* * *

I usually never write about this ^^^ kind of stuff. I write about this kind of stuff.

And stuff like this, too.

J Edward Neill

 

 

A Thought for Every Thanksgiving!

 

It’s holiday season here in the USA. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and blah, blah, blah…

For various reasons, families are gathering, football is being watched, and liquor is being poured.

Suppose you had a little more control over this whole thing.

Imagine you’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. You can call it whatever you want. You can use it to celebrate anything you like. It’ll be a national paid holiday, observed by the government and appearing on every calendar.

So…

Name your new holiday, tell us what it’s all about, and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

turbacon-_-daily-meal

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

What’s the best way to get to know someone?

It’s obvious. Get my book. Available now

It’s the very first of my books with cover art straight from the paintbrush of my five-year old son. (<<< That’s actually true.)

It’s…

The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz

The most entertainment you can squeeze into 101 pages.

Pass it around to friends and family. Bring a copy to your breakroom at work. Crash a party with a few copies in hand.

Inside you’ll find a ton of fun, quick (and ridiculous) questions designed to shine a light on your friends’ and loved ones’ hearts and minds.

The best part? It’s only $5.99. Snag your copy today!

gtksq-front-cover

With cover art by Garrett Alexander Neill.

And questions by me…

J Edward Neill

Ten Courses Every College Should Offer

I’ve been thinking.

Dangerous, I know.

In universities across the globe, professors teach math, science, language, and philosophy. Trade schools give students the gift of mastering a specific skill. Liberal arts universities offer so-called ‘well-rounded’ class structure. Schools teach many things, most of which are probably forgotten the moment a student walks out the door.

Let’s be honest. In most cases, college isn’t really about learning stuff. It’s about socializing and introducing students to a way of life they’ll never actually live outside of school. Unless a student learns a very specific skill-set, college seems to be mostly not worth the money we pour into it.

And so…

I propose a different kind of schooling altogether. One that teaches real-life skills. One that prepares students for the catastrophic transition from ‘living with Mom and Dad’ to ‘living in a one-bedroom flat with an obnoxious roommate who refuses to wash their dishes.’

I give you:

Ten Courses Every College Should Offer

* * *

breaking-up

Breaking Up with Someone 101

We ALL have to do it at least 30 times a few times in our lives, so why not teach it in school? Ok, so there’s no super-easy way of dumping someone’s heart in the trash. But there are definitely ways not to do it, up to and including: stalking the other person, publicizing every detail on Facebook, or dumping them only to come crawling back for a second chance. This class is more about what to avoid doing during a breakup, which ex-lovers worldwide could probably stand to learn.

If just one little university would sponsor this class, I volunteer to teach it. For free.

*

cash_air

The Art of Floating Checks

Ah, newly-grads. No marketable skills. No direction in life. No money. When bills are due, but payday is still a week away, what’s a kid to do?

The answer: float that check. And do it well. This course will teach the ins and outs of researching which companies cash checks quickly, and which ones you have a little wiggle room to work with. With any luck, you’ll become an expert at just barely remaining financially alive.

For extra credit, students can also take the Paying Your Mortgage Late, But Not Getting Penalized elective.

*

middle

 

#Winning at Social Media

These days, this class should probably be offered in early grade school. In it, students will learn when to post memes (never) when to use hashtags (almost never) and the best time of day to post relationship status changes on Facebook (never!)

For students who want to do something online other than annoy people and leave their friends scratching their heads, #WinningAtSocialMedia is the class to take!

*

35-512

Advanced Emotional Distancing- Class 502

This class will almost surely be a mandatory addition to every college program. In it, students will learn advanced techniques to help them be happier via having nearly no emotions. Because honestly, the universe doesn’t care about feelings, especially those of young people.

The techniques studied will include:

Shrugging

Caring less

Caring less while not talking about caring less

Never complaining

Histrionics avoidance

Ego removal

How not to cry while everyone else around you falls to pieces

Students who hope to pass this class will intern for a minimum of three months in an emotionally unstable relationship while maintaining the facial expression shown above.

*

s-l300

Understanding Satire 101

Think you know what satire is? If you’re asked to take this class, odds are you have no idea. Class US101 is designed to help clueless students gain a full grasp of reality. Ideal candidates for this class include students who believe everything they read on the internet, graduates who habitually share clickbait on Facebook, and students who have never heard of Snopes. While primarily for college enrollees, this class is also available as a vocational study group for angry, aging white men.

The final exam in US101 will involve a complete study of the website TheOnion.

*

karen-meangirls

Honors Reading Between the Lines

While available to all students, Honors RBTL is geared for the student who has no idea what a woman means when she says, “Oh nothing’s the matter.” All males are encouraged to attend during their very first semester, while  females are encouraged to attend the similar class, Manipulating Men’s Feelings 101.

Both classes will instruct students in the eye-roll/disdain ratio, the true meaning of ‘nothing,’ and the length of time you should sleep on the couch. Male classes will focus on avoidance, while female classes will primarily teach advanced techniques to counter everything the men learn.

Good luck!

*

rs_3463ec66edb459bd1dd

 

Remedial Sarcasm

Due to the large influx of students who either don’t understand the true depth of sarcasm or are easily offended by it, universities across Americas have been asked to include a remedial class as a mandatory elective.

Because…honestly…we all know someone who can’t handle the ‘casm.

This class promises to eliminate all the negative aspects of not understanding sarcasm, including: crying, standing with your mouth wide-open, getting angry, getting butthurt, and not knowing what butthurt even means.

Remedial Sarcasm professors get paid at double the rate of other teachers. Sign up now!

*

Metaphors and How to Use Them

Honestly, if students haven’t figured out what a metaphor is and how to use one, they probably shouldn’t go to college.

This class has been cancelled. It’s dust in the wind. It’s bones in a grave. Oh never mind.

*

ud

Urban Dictionary Study Hall

This class isn’t what you think it is.

Students will not be taught the meanings of various modern slang, insults, and acronyms. (It’s assumed students with any value already know these terms.) Rather, class attendees will be instructed in the prized technique of being able to distinguish which terms are funny or appropriate from terms that are…ahem…stupid.

Examples include:

How and when to use ‘bae’ – only when making fun of someone else using ‘bae.’

How a kitten dies anytime anyone uses the terms ‘LOL’ or ‘YOLO.’

The subtle difference between ‘WTF’ and ‘WTF?’ – I’m kidding; there is no difference.

For extra credit, students may also take the sub-course: Sounding Ignorant on Purpose to Appear Cool 101

*

scammerIntroduction to Online Dating

If college life has one similarity to real life, it’s that people don’t actually talk face-to-face anymore. Cell phones are god and texting is all-powerful.

To help students face the nearly insurmountable task of finding easy hook-ups a long-term mate, Intro to Online Dating is now offered as an elective. Students will learn the finest methods of making themselves appear slimmer, taller, and less out-of-shape than they actually are. Male students will learn why it’s best to wait at least ten minutes before sending unsolicited d**k pics, while females will be instructed in the subtle techniques of ‘ghosting,’ ‘catfishing,’ and not starting every single conversation with, “Hey.”

Seriously though. This should actually be a class.

*

*

Other classes soon to be added:

How NOT to use Tinder

Snapchat Filters and the End of the World

Why The Walking Dead Sucks

* * *

*I’m thinking this book should be a standard college text.

This one, too.

Seriously.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – The Omega Project

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

The Omega Project

Imagine you’ve been elected to lead all of humanity.

Your goal: bring every living human together for the purpose of completing a singular, grand project.

The project can be anything imaginable, so long as it’s scientifically plausible.

What will you lead humanity to do?

p011gyw7

More pyramids?

*

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – Thunderbolts from Above

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

I call this little series of questions The Adversary.

In most major religions across the world, the primary god or goddess is typically a benevolent or sometimes even an actively good figure of power.

They care. They want the best for their creations. They have positive feelings toward humanity.

But…

What if that assumption is completely off-base? What if humanity, in its infinite fallibility, has mistaken the intentions of its creator(s)?

With that in mind:

If there is a god or gods responsible for the creation and guidance of the human race, do you suppose:

…it’s possible this being is less than the benevolent deity described in several major religions?

…it’s possible this being might not have humanity’s best interests in mind?

…it’s possible this being might one day reject its creations?

…it’s possible this being has a dark purpose in store for us?

*

Well? What are your thoughts?

divine_vengence

Squish!

* * *

Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

My Beef with all the Quotes on the Internet

Quotes, quotes…everywhere.

We see them on our Facebook feeds, on people’s T-shirts, on bumper stickers, and on the walls of houses and offices across the land.

Some are funny. Some are dull. Some have a grain of truth, while others are contradictory. And many quotes are credited to people who never said the quoted phrase to begin with. But no one really cares. If it sounds cool, it becomes cool. And that’s all people really want. Right?

I get it. I get the allure. People like mottos. They enjoy direct, easy-to-understand life-messages they feel are attainable. People want goals. They crave wisdom for themselves and their families. And maybe more than anything, they want something simple. The more bite-sized a quote, the better. Fewer words implies fewer opportunities for the meaning of something to be mistaken. Also, having a short and nifty quote really helps when you want to hang a framed version of it on your living room wall. Or stick an inspirational magnet on your fridge. Or stamp your Facebook feed with something awesome someone might have said.

But I’m here to tell you something:

Internet quotes suck.

*

Actually, let me rephrase:

Almost all quotes suck.

Is that crude? Yeah, probably. Maybe, “Internet quotes suck,” is my internet quote. Whatever. I’m pretty sure no one will frame it and slap it above their fireplace, so it’s ok. Where was I? Oh, right. I was just about to explain why quotes suck and you shouldn’t try to live your life using words someone else said.

Let’s go over a few examples:

famous-quotes-18

Since no one really knows what the future will hold, it’s pretty much impossible to truly prepare for it. Yes, it’s possible to get ready for tomorrow’s day at work or to plan for a specific event a few weeks or months down the road. But sometimes, a lot of times, even the best-laid plans change drastically or fail miserably. And then what have all our preparations wrought? The answer: nothing. It’s a cool sounding quote, but until we perfect time-travel, the future will devour us all.

3-famous-success-quotes-entrepreneurs-should-l-mainiw

Suppose someone is trying to become a man of value, whatever that is. If they achieve it, isn’t that success for them? Meaning, they tried to become a man of success after all?

famous-quotes-by-famous-people-07-2

Thanks, Eminem. But what if you stood up for something awful? What if your enemies are people you’ve betrayed? What if the only reason you have these alleged enemies is because you’re an A-hole, not because you stood up for some greater cause?

*

*

Maybe you see what I’m talking about. Maybe not. While some of these quotes might have virtue in specific situations for specific people, they’re hardly wisdom for the masses. Besides, how many people actually follow the quotes they slap on the internet, on their cars  and on their walls? Not many. People who get stuff done in life spend more time doing than talking. Right?

thomas-edison-famous-quotesYeah right. Tell that to slaves. To people who work three jobs for paltry pay. To the guy who cleans the toilets. To the teacher who busts her butt only to get cursed out by her students’ parents. Or just read the evil sign posted outside Auschwitz that once boasted Arbeit Macht Frei…aka ‘Work sets you free.’ I think I know what good old Edison meant (if he actually said this.) But then again, some people believe Edison stole several ideas from Tesla rather than work on them himself.

ansel-adams-famous-photographers-quotes-860x688

While I’m not definitely hating on photographers (because it’s a beautiful art form) let’s be clear about something:

The camera made the photo. Nature made the photo. The universe made the photo.

The photographer may have captured it, but he didn’t create it.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaamzaaaajda2nmu0m2yzlwjlnmqtndi5my04owvjltdkntizzgflntm4oq

Nelson Mandela was an awesome dude who suffered immeasurably in life.

But this quote (if it was really his) really just bolsters the idea that humanity is innately powerful.

Here’s a hint: we’re not. We’re floating on a tiny blue dot in an ocean of darkness. Our fear is definitely that we’re inadequate. Because in so many ways, we are.

*

*

Ok. So maybe I’m a little cynical. Or maybe I’m just having fun tearing down a few quotes. Or mayyyybe I’m just exhausted of seeing humanity speak a few eloquent words only to completely ignore the message in the end. Fine. Whatever. Since we’re already here, let’s do a few more.

14463291_581690542016394_6664521756873294265_n

I know quite a few dedicated religious folks. And while I love and respect many of them, the terms unsinkable, undefeatable, and unshakeable are not the words I’d choose to describe them.

Plus, did anyone ever hear of the Crusades?

138

Love ya, Harry. But that’s not what those two words mean. At all.

famous-quotes-and-sayings

What if you died? What if you’re flat broke and there’s no one to help you back on your feet? What if you honestly gave it your all, but were defeated utterly in the end?

It sounds poetic to say failure only happens when you quit. But sometimes people just fail because…life. And sometimes there’s no poetry to it.

famous-abraham-lincoln-quotes-on-slavery-leadership-life-civil-war

It’d be nice if the world worked this way. And sometimes it might.

But as long as such things as politics, war, and religion exist, there are just too many enemies who have no interest in ever becoming friends.

I mean, just consider this year’s election. Nuff said.

*

*

Quotes, quotes…everywhere. But the fact is: life’s wisdom isn’t earned by a photo and a few clever words on the internet. It’s measured in terms of experience, knowledge, and a willingness to endure heartache, triumph, and change. It’s earned throughout the long, slow decades. It isn’t clicked on, retweeted, or posted on walls.

Our wisdom is inside us. And words, no matter how smart they sound, will never quite capture it.

* * *

 

Want to coin your own quotes instead of using someone else’s? Try this.

Prefer to think before you speak? Go here.

J Edward Neill

 

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – Gotta Love It

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

This week, I’ve got two relationship questions for you. Both involve the complicated matter of people being hesitant when getting into new romances.

swipe

Hey you! Slow down with the swipe-rights!

The first question:

You’ve met someone. You like them. A lot. So much so that you’re afraid of getting your heart broken.

The catch is; you’re not quite sure whether or not your feelings are mutual.

Which of the following are you most likely to do?

End the relationship now before they break your heart

Stay with them and take the risk

Try really hard to make them fall in love with you

Or _______________

*

And the second question, which involves skeletons:

 We all have them in our closet. Maybe they’re childhood traumas, bad exes, fetishes, phobias, or *gasp* maybe even cats.

At what point during a relationship should someone let their skeletons out?

Immediately

After the 3rd date

Before things get serious

The very moment things get serious

Lock the closet door and throw away the key

*

Well? What are your thoughts?

* * *

Past ATFET’s are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

 

10 Questions for When You’re Tipsy

jd-girl

It’s late. You’ve had a few adult beverages. You’re with a few friends. Or maybe you’re alone.

It’s time to break out ten questions you might not ask if you were sober.

* * *

Let’s Get Physical

 Assuming one-on-one combat, what percentage of the world’s population could you handle in a fight?

*

Unshackle the Chains 

Consider the laws in whichever country you call home.

Choose three things you want to no longer be illegal.

*

Buying Love

 You have $10 with which to build your ideal romantic companion.

Spend wisely:

$5 – Fantastic in Bed                       $5 – A Great Parent

$3 -An Amazing Body           $3 – A Great Sense of Humor

$3 – Highly Intelligent         $2 – A Specific Skill ($2 per Skill)

$1 – Has ________ in Common With You ($1 Each)

$3 – Morally Solid             $5- Wealthy

$7 – Will Always Love You

*

Silver Tongues

 What is the worst lie you’ve ever told? 

If you’re reluctant to answer, then…

…what is the worst lie someone has ever told you?

And why?

*

The Heist 

If you could steal any one thing in the world and make it yours forever, what would it be?

It can be an object, a person, a life situation, a place.

You won’t get in any trouble for taking it.

No one will ever know.

Well?

*

On a Scale of 0-10…

…in which 0 is ‘not at all’, 5 is average, and 10 means ‘highly’:

How intelligent are you?

How physically attractive are you?

How charming?

How artistic?

How generous?

 And how narcissistic?

*

Three Drinks Too Many

 People in relationships can answer this one, too. (just make sure their significant other is cool…or not present.)

 So…

It’s Friday night.

You’re out with your friends, no date.

You’ve had a few drinks too many.

If you were to text or call any one person from your past, who would it be.

And why?

*

Let’s Just Hope They Shave  

 Think about romance during previous generations.

The Roaring 20’s

The Sexual Revolution

The Renaissance

Suppose you got a chance to sample a bit of romantic life in one of these time periods.

Which one would you pick?

And why?

*

Fight Club Time Machine

 Suppose you’re given the chance to travel back in time to fight any one historical figure to the death.

If you defeat them, the course of history will be changed in accordance with their absence.

The fight will be hand-to-hand. Your foe will be in their prime.

Whom will you fight?

*

The Ultimate ‘What if?’

 If you could be a member of the opposite sex for one single day, would you?

Assume no one but you will ever know.

If yes, what would you like to experience?

What age would you want to be?

What situation would you want to be in?

If you’re not interested, why not?

* * *

These ten questions were pried from the pages of my Coffee Table Philosophy series.

In these books, I pose more than 1,000 questions to people.

Some of which are here.

And sexier ones are here.

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – How or Why?

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday at Tessera Guild I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

Finally, a Simple Question

In past ATFET’s, we’ve been pretty wordy.

This week we’re keeping it quick and easy.

So…

 Given the choice, would you rather know HOW the universe works, meaning you’d understand all the hard science behind each and every interaction taking place in our existence?

or

Would you prefer to know WHY our universe and all the individual objects within it exist, meaning you’d grasp the purpose behind everything?

Explain your reasons.

* * *

Past ATFET’s are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

 

Nine Weird Things About the Internet Today

One-hundred years from now, I’m convinced most of the modern world will have almost no reason to walk outside their front door. Ever.

Just think about it.

The internet (if it isn’t already) will be all-powerful. Every consumer good will be deliverable instantly. Anyone will be able to contact anyone FTL (faster than light.) All services will be available always. If we think communication is fast today, imagine where it’ll be a century from now.

Pretty crazy, right?

But for now we’re still kind of in the internet’s adolescence. The net survived its www.infancy and it’s gotten just big and smart enough to be dangerous.

Consider, if you will, these nine observations about the strange state of the modern internet.

* * *

Observation 1Each social media hub has its own personality

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I’m not sure anything can illustrate the differences better than this graphic. But what I’m really not sure of is just when it was each site evolved into its own little solar system.

Examples: Twitter and Facebook, though wildly different in interface, are for funny stuff, news bytes, porn, and marketing (some of which I’ve been guilty of.) Instagram seems to appeal to younger crowds, artists, and photographers. The Pinterest fan base is mostly female, while pretty much no one uses Google+. Obviously I’m generalizing a bit, but it’s undeniable how the quirks of each social media site have attracted user bases that are so very different from each other.

I think it’s pretty cool. Except for LinkedIn, which pretty much sucks. 🙂

Observation 2 – People still argue about politics online

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If you added up every occurrence of a political debate in the history of the world, you’d probably have a hard time finding ten instances in which someone’s mind was actually changed for the better. In polite society, political debates in conversation are verboten, but no so much on the internet. A quick scan and breakdown of my own personal Facebook feed reveals that 60% (not kidding) of the posts are political in tone. And no, it’s not open-ended, objective stuff taking place. It’s hostile, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” incendiary warfare. Personally, I find it obnoxious. But perhaps more relevant is that everyone on the net is happy to say lots of stuff, but rarely does anyone actually do anything about it.

Why is that?

Whatever.

Observation 3 – The ascension of spam and clickbait

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I despise clickbait with such passion I wrote a big piece on it. But let’s be serious for a moment. Spam and clickbait are existential threats to our beloved net. They crowd out marketing for actual, quality goods. They take up space that might otherwise be inhabited by cool, interesting content. Despite these facts, most people struggle to spot spam or clickbait at first sight. And the real trouble is that since the internet has no singular governing body, there’s no one-stop elimination strategy to get rid of this junk. It just keeps spreading.

What does it mean? Well…we’d better prepare ourselves for sneakier, smarter, and more diabolical clickbait. Because while we’re busy going nuts on Amazon Prime, the spammers are out there designing better ways to siphon money and time from the rest of us.

And I think it sucks.

Observation 4 – Free porn for everyone

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More than anything, I just really, really want to know how pay-for-porn websites stay in business. I mean, with literally thousands of free porn sites out there, it feels like the entire triple-x pay-per-view industry should collapse. Right? Imagine if a bunch of companies started giving away free, high-quality cars, TV’s, and houses. Wouldn’t all the legitimate industries dry up within weeks? But no…not with porn. Making it free seems only to inspire more and more videos to be created.

I guess even when sex doesn’t sell, it sells.

Observation 5 – All the @#$%*&! memes

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In my web series Anti-Meme Fridays, I surmised that one day in the future everyone on Earth will communicate solely via memes, thus eliminating the need for actual spoken language.

Ok, maybe that’s a little heavy handed. But in all truth, memes are everywhere. They’re not stopping anytime soon, even though 90% of them are misspelled, unfunny, cheesy, or annoyingly motivational in tone. What I can’t figure out, and what I need your help in solving, is how it is we arrived at this point. I can’t imagine anyone on this planet who actually likes a bunch of boring pictures and quotes crowding out everything else on their social media feed.

And yet….here we are.

Observation 6 – The prevalence of perverts

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Based on the tales pretty much all my female friends and family have told, nearly 100% of the adult male population has sent unsolicited photos of their anatomy to a woman at least once in their life. But seriously, there are way more creepers among us than we ever could’ve guessed. They’re everywhere, and the internet makes it easy for them. I’m willing to bet we all know several dudes who are like this, but we have no idea what they’re up to. And it’s not just the rapey dudes spamming junk pics to every woman they can, but also other creeper types, not limited to but including: guys who threaten violence, guys who get irrationally angry when rejected, and guys who get extremely insulting in everyday social media forums.

Gentlemen, we’re better than this, right?

Guess not.

Observation 7 – Everything is based on opinion

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The headline tags for several major news websites are as follows:

CNN – ‘Breaking News, Latest News and Videos’

Fox – ‘Breaking News Updates, Latest News Headlines’

Huffington Post – (Their description is too long to type, but it’s pretty much similar to CNN and Fox, while admitting a sprinkle of ‘entertainment.’)

And so and so forth…

As a kid, I remember learning about this little thing called Journalism. I was taught such terms as “unbiased” “objective” and “factual.” I remember the days when news reporters were calm, serious, and almost indifferent in most scenarios.

Those days are dead. Scour the blogs, articles, and links of every major news outlet on the internet these days, and what do you mostly see?  Editorials.  Not that the articles in question typically identify themselves as opinion-based, but that’s what they are nonetheless. Objectivity appears to go as far as reporting names and body-counts, but that’s where it stops. Everyone has an angle, especially the reporters. Media isn’t where one goes to find truth. Nowadays, it’s all about entertainment.

Observation 8 – No one knows how to use hashtags

Seriously. Just stop.

Observation 9 – Artists around the world have a home

Jeremy Neill. Honest.

…even this douche.

 

By and large, it’s a good time to be a writer, painter, graphic designer, or any other kind of artist. The modern net allows things that just weren’t possible as recently as ten years ago. Authors can self-publish via dozens of outlets. Artists like this awesome lady here have a home to display their work without needing to hunt down big, pretentious galleries. I mean…these are good times.

But there is one little drawback: piracy. No, not Blackbeard holding a cutlass to our necks. If you’ve ever posted a cool piece of art, uploaded an awesome song you’ve created, or written something digitally awesome, it’s likely (even probable) that many other individuals have downloaded it illegally, plagiarized it, or otherwise distributed your work against your wishes. Some won’t care about a few pirate raids. But for others (me among them) piracy is seriously bad for bizniz. It sucks.

Seems no matter what infrastructure a society settles into, there will always be those who nip at the edges, seeking an advantage. Digital society is no different.

* * *

Be assured, there are darker (much darker) corners of the internet than the things I’ve touched on above.

But that’s a list for another day…

If you like dating on the aforementioned web, this is for you.

But if you prefer seeing your friends face-to-face, try this.

J Edward Neill

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – Walking Contradictions

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday at Tessera Guild I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

Walking Contradictions

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This week I have several questions for you.

All have a similar theme: why do humans exist in a state of near-permanent contradiction?

For example:

Why do Americans lash out against the two-party system, yet few ever vote for a third party?

Why are people so willing to criticize and denigrate others, but so resistant to criticize or improve themselves?

Why do people kill in the name of their ‘peaceful’ religion?

If rush-hour traffic is so detrimental to public safety (and sanity) why do most businesses open and close in the same small window of time?

Why are people who condemn drama (in social situations) usually the most likely to start the theatrics in the first place?

How is it that the people who admit they have the least amount of knowledge are often the wisest among us?

Explain if you can.

And take your time.

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* * *

Past ATFET’s are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Where the “Ways Cross”

For so many of us, we wonder about our lives, constantly looking to our pasts and the past of our family. Anything to glean some knowledge about our potential future. Today, I’m excited to take a look back with my mother as she gazes back.

***

I grew up in the Deep South in a railroad town forty miles north of the Georgia/Florida line- Waycross, a small town with a population less than twenty thousand. Peculiar name, but, originally, it was called “Old Nine” and then “Tebeauville” until 1935 when the leaders of the community decided to change the name to reflect more of the town’s true identity. This sleepy town was the “cross-way” of the railroad lines traveling through the state of Georgia, and, at the time of the name change, these group of business men thought a new name was needed to identify the junction of the existing Savannah railroad line and the new rail line which connected Brunswick and Albany. Legend has it that they toyed with the idea of Eastcross and Northcross, but finally settled on Waycross, probably over breakfast at the local diner. Waycross is also the point of intersection of five major highways in southeast Georgia, and it is the only town with direct access to the beginning of the Okefenokee Swamp, its claim to fame.

railroad-crossing

I lived the quintessential Southern life. To me, growing up Southern meant drinking sweet tea the color of the Satilla River, sitting on the front porch watching it rain during a thunderstorm, and then smashing the air pockets in the dirt road with my bare feet after the downpour was over. Summer started June 1st after school ended the last day of May, and shoes were forgotten until school resumed the last week in August. Even now I can outlast any of the tenderfoots in my family on hot beach sand. Nights meant mosquitoes, fireflies, air so thick you could cut it with a knife, trying to sleep with a window fan and praying for any breeze-however faint- and the sound of the trains over at the Rice Yard. I spent many days in July shelling peas and butter beans out of our garden in big tin dishpans on my lap. Once that last bean spilled out of its shell into the pan, it was hallelujah until the next round was picked.

Although I was the only child of a critical mother and an angry father, for the most part, my childhood was sweet and kind. I raced grasshoppers with the neighbors, caught dragonflies off the clothesline, and caught tadpoles out of the ditches with my cousin Robert. My Aunt Lucille would actually let him keep his tadpoles in a pan on their back porch, and we would watch them grow into frogs and hop away. I had the same best friend throughout childhood and teenage years, including crushes on boys and many nights with her at her aunt’s skating rink. I learned how to fish in the swamp ditches with a cane pole at about three and could throw a child’s rod and reel at about four. Our vacations every year consisted of a week fishing at Harriet’s Bluff in Kingsland, Georgia, a fish camp on Crooked River, and Saturday day trips to fish off the salt water pier at Fernandina Beach. ( I can still out fish anyone in our family.) On Labor Day weekend, we drove to the Smoky Mountains to visit my father’s oldest brother at his cabin.  I had an Aunt Dot, that aunt who loved to laugh and have a good time- also the aunt who introduced me to flying, the symphony, and the finer things in life. We weren’t rich, but we always had good food and nice clothes. My parents expected me to always do my best, and the measure of character according to my Daddy was whether that man was willing to work.

alligator

Although I have lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than twenty years now, I still think of Georgia as my true home. Just the mention of “Southernness” and living in Waycross evokes deep feelings of nostalgia. When someone teases me about my Southern accent, I just smile- they never knew what they missed. I will always be a swamp girl.

map_of_waycross_ga

When I think about it, where the “Ways Cross” is a metaphor for my life, as it is for humans trying to navigate this shaky path of life. We all face forks in the road, a new path which has to be embraced, a change in our circumstances. In my own life, each decade had its share of upheavals and stability:

My tumultuous twenties as I figured out relationships, marriage, and motherhood.

Thirties a blur as a raised three children.

Forties when I completely flipped and went back to school for another degree and changed careers.

And now fifties where there has been much reflection and floundering as I figured out my identity apart from being a wife and mother.

This upcoming January I will experience my 60th year on this earth-sobering to say the least. Funny thing is, if you talk to ANY sixty year old person, they do not see themselves as an old person. We still feel the same on the inside; it is only when we look in the mirror we realize Old Man Time continued to march on.

So as the big 6-0 fast approaches, here I am again at another junction where the “Ways Cross.” What do I do with the rest of my life? I know I am much wiser than that seventeen year old who left for the big city of Atlanta to attend nursing school in 1974- the first fork in the road. It is my hope with this blog I will entertain some of you youngsters with stories about my life and the people in it- some funny, some sad, and some completely absurd- as I came to each crossing and navigated through. Other blogs will be reflections concerning life and my ponderings as I face the future me.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.