Book Review – Mindset

Why I read this book: I’m always interested in books related to success and how to achieve it.  This was a Christmas present and it covers the subject.

Did I enjoy this book: I enjoyed the first hour of reading it.  After that, it became so repetitive it was hard to get through.

What I will do as a result of this book:  While I don’t know that this book will help me with my writing journey, it does give me something I want to do with my children:  Praise for effort more than results.  Teaching them to enjoy how to “work at it” is ultimately a more important message than teaching them to enjoy success.  While I’m a big fan of success, and I’m highly ambitious, I believe success will follow sincere effort, and I wish I had learned that lesson earlier in life.


Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessMindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book takes a look into how we see success and failure, and the “mindset” we possess about it. During the book, she provides extensive examples of the two mindsets she has identified. Dweck outlines that a fixed mindset revolves around successes, and justifying or proving that you are worthy of those opinions. She compares this with the Growth Mindset, which revolves around learning from experiences, and constantly growing and developing each and every day.
From this, she begins to show examples of these mindsets in a variety of mediums, including sports, parenting, business, relationships, and more. She backs her theories about mindsets up with lots of research studies. This book provides a lot of positive language, especially around how important the mindset is to maintain as far as relationships of any kind (specifically employees, spouses, or children). However, there are two points that are somewhat dubious. She tries to walk the line between balancing passing judgment on the fixed mindset, and pretending that she is neutral and no one mindset is “better” than the other. It is clear very quickly she sees nothing redeemable about the fixed mindset, but “hey, if it’s good enough for you, great!” Additionally, the book goes on too long. After about 20 pages, I felt like we were simply rehashing and repeating the exact same content with new window dressing in each chapter. I suppose it’s possible that some people will only connect in one of those chapters (Sports, or Crowds, etc). For me, it felt like she was trying to sell a philosophy I had already bought.
Overall, this book is still worth a read, especially if you struggle with image (and how you are perceived) and what a failure means to you.

View all my reviews

Iron Fences

Here’s my Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.  Had a sick pet all week and just now getting back around to this.  Better late than never.



Iron Fences (aka – Remembering Juliette)

Randy was holding it together… barely. He eased forward on unsteady feet down the little sidewalk that ran through the park.

She’d never run through the park again. Why had he even come this way?

He stopped at the faux iron fence and grabbed it for stability. Sunflowers pushed their way out, escapees from the field just beyond.


He still had the video when she was a puppy and charged through a field of them, nipping at their petals. He remembered laughing with his wife as they desperately tried to figure out if sunflowers were toxic to dogs. That had been five years ago. Five fun years. There should have been at least five more.

He hadn’t slept in two days… He barely left the vet after they brought her in. The doc said she wouldn’t last, but Randy had hoped she would be the exception, the one that made it.

The sunflower that escaped the iron prison.

He picked one and stared at it. Its life had ended with a single pluck. Just like Juliette’s. He wondered if the sunflower had possessed emotion, would it have regretted trying to escape from the walls that protected it. Some escape.

Still holding the sunflower, Randy sank to his knees and wept, wishing bitterly for his own iron fence.

Social Media – and you!

Or me, as the case may be. I’d like to talk about social media.

It’s a pretty hot topic in the hopeful author arena… One I picked up pretty early when I started to get serious about the whole, “Hey, I’d really like to be doing this writing thing full time.”

The world has changed.  There are somewhere between a million and thirty bajillion aspiring authors out there.  With the internet, it’s ludicrously easy to get contact information and start sending manuscripts places.  That means big publishing houses are inundated with slush (first pass books that haven’t been given the “go ahead” to be read by more senior people – Most manuscripts are eliminated here).

That makes it harder than ever to find success as an author.

Or does it?  The reality is that the internet also affords us the ability to self-promote.  We can now write our novel, build an extremely valuable network of other authors, editors, publishers and (most importantly) readers, and then publish it to that network.  You effectively get to cut out the middle man (Unless you want to consider Amazon your middle man).

It does mean, however, that if you want to go from slush to hot stuff, you need to engage in that marketing.

Authors today must leverage social media.  Whether you are pursuing traditional publishing or self-publishing, you have to build a presence online for anybody to take notice.

To that end, I’ve started exploring what can be done.  As a caveat – I somehow missed social media “growing up.”  I’ve been all over the internet since it developed, and was hardcore into IRC, ICQ, AIM, all that good stuff back in the day.  However, as we began to transition into Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, (Instapintwitterbook) and who knows how many more I’ve forgotten about, I somehow missed the boat.  No clue what I was doing.  Just happened to see it sailing off without me.

Time to play catch up.

Started the blog.  Check.  That’s the one I guess I understand the most.  I could be crass and say it’s a diary you share with 100,000 of your closest friends, but the reality is that I’ve discovered it to be so much more.  It’s a way to connect with people that share interests.  It’s a hub of useful knowledge and tips for aspiring writers.  It’s as much a part of my writing as the writing itself is these days.

What about Facebook?

I’ve known since college when there was a Facebook junkie working in an office with me (back when Facebook was limited to college students) that I would never be a Facebook guy.  It essentially became your online address.  These days, more so than a personal website, Facebook represents your personal presence.  I know I need to get with that, but I have questions:

How do you keep your personal family and friends separate from your readers/audience/connections?  Maybe I’m old fashioned, but there’s some personal space there I’d like to maintain.

What about Twitter?

I’m definitely Twitter curious.  It seems easy, and yet so ridiculously intimidating at the same time.  I’ve never been one to randomly post witty or ironic blurbs at random intervals for the masses.  Not my thing.  What I really want to know:

How does it help?  Do you need to be posting often?  What kinds of things would you post?  And how in the world do you go from “I don’t really have friends, much less people who would follow me online” to thousands of followers?  I’m not sure how to get there without being annoying.

Instagram and Pinterest

I’m lumping these together.  I know my wife digs the pinterest thing.  I’ve heard of authors who use this to pull together a bunch of images that work almost like a mindmap for their books…  Or even just use Instagram for inspiration.  I’m not a photocentric guy, as I’m sure you can tell by my unfortunate lack of images for my blog posts.

What other social media is out there?  And does anybody have any answers to some of the questions I have above?

Interview – Rachael Ritchey

For today’s blog, we’re going to interview a self-published author that’s already a few stops down the road I’m trying to walk.  Today, we are interviewing Rachael Ritchey as part of her Blog Tour as she gets ready to release her second book: Captive Hope.


Sign up on her mailing list to enter for a chance to win a free copy of Captive Hope!

Or connect with her directly on all the usual places (she’d love to hear from you!)
Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads





So without further preamble –

SYF: How did you get started writing?

RR: I had an idea that just wouldn’t stop nagging at me. I’ve always loved writing, at least since junior high, but I never felt qualified to actually write anything worthwhile. My life experience has been so small, but that idea . . . it just wouldn’t leave me be.

SYF: Your first book was The Beauty Thief – How long did it take you to write it?

Continue reading


Here’s my weekly contribution to Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner.


Image Prompt with the following first line:  “Enough is Enough.”  Enjoy.



“Enough is enough.”

That was the last thing Tommy said before he left on foot. He wasn’t sure if he had gone a mile or two at this point. He was even less sure when or where he’d stop. As if walking could take away the memories of the last thirty minutes… the last two years. Mom never should have hooked up with that ass hole.

The whine of a siren coupled with flashing blue lights rushed past. He shoved his hands into his pockets and continued walking without sparing a glance. He knew where they were going.

Margaret had been terrified. That was hard. For a moment, she seemed more scared of him than she had been of Dave. Tommy hated it, but he couldn’t take it any more. He was tired of waiting to see what killed mom first, Dave’s beatings or all the booze she chugged to forget them.

He dropped the hammer off the bridge as he crossed. Part of him wondered if Dave was going to live, but it didn’t really matter… either way he shouldn’t be able to hit Mom or his sister again.

At least they’d be okay now. That was enough.

Sleep Typing

Have you ever typed your dreams?

I was working on a piece that I sent over for Amra Ismail’s blog at Perfect-the-Days.  The story was focused on a world hunger issue, but I had a weird experience when I sat down to revise.  I found this line:

Unfortunately, nothing would change the core assessment:  Ty and/or Ryan would be charged with murder.

People talk about the story inside you just waiting to get out… I had no idea how literal that statement was.

The story I was writing for Amra possesses two characters, neither of which are named Ty or Ryan.  The story has no death, no murder, nothing that would even be tied remotely to what this line said.  The section of the story where this appeared was talking about a homeless man at the dumpster.

Weird right?

It might be explainable if I was working on another story, or anything else where this would be relevant… Maybe a bad copy/paste.  Nope.  No idea who these people are, or why they should be charged with murder.  Or more… What they were doing in my story.

I’m somewhat interested though.  Ty and/or Ryan.  This implies that both have been suspects to date, and that we (the reader) can’t be sure which of them is responsible, or even if they are in on it together.  “Unfortunately” at the beginning also says a lot.  This means our narrator doesn’t want them charged and has worked at overturning it.  I get the feeling that we are the POV of the detective investigating the situation, or perhaps we a friend (sort of) of theirs now acknowledging that there was no other option.

My theory at the time is that I write at a bad time.  I write late at night when the wife and kids go to bed… I desperately want to be one of those “wake up early and write” kind of guys, but alas that never worked out… So I have defaulted to writing in the evening.  I’m thinking I must have fallen asleep.

This has happened to me before.

Back in college (over a decade ago), I used to play online video games competitively.  Between games you’d essentially sit in a giant chat room, although mine had no one else in it.  I’d fall asleep at the keyboard, and wake up finding an absurd amount of content typed.  Conversations, descriptions… Most common would be my half of a dialogue.  Weird, vaguely coherent stuff.  These days, I wish I had saved it.

Have you ever done anything weird while you slept?  Or typed something and read it later wondering how it got there?

Triumphant Return

Okay, catching up.  Here’s this week’s Double Drabble for Writing the 200.

The topic was “Passion,” and the requirement was to write exactly 200 words.


The room was immaculate.

This is it. Jake thought.

Everything was exactly where he wanted it; the evening was prepped. He walked cautiously across the open expanse, legs trembling with each step. How long had it been? Too long. He knew he shouldn’t have been worried. He was in great shape; a few months away shouldn’t cause him any problems. Some things the body remembered.

It was cool out, although things were gonna heat up pretty soon. He reached a shaking hand over to the small stereo atop the homemade shelf and turned the knob. Soft jazz music streamed out. Now things were ready.

His eyes drifted to the small table and the pair of chairs seated at it. Decorative orbs were carved down each leg of chairs and table alike. None had a finish yet. That would come later.

He looked to the workbench across the garage. All of his tools were still where he had left them. His fingers graced his chisels and mallet. The drills and joiners. Confidence returned with each touch. He could still do this.

Smiling, Jake grabbed a piece of wood and began work on the third chair. This is what he lived for.