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.


Trying to get back on track with my flash fiction.  Here’s my Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.   Hope you enjoy it!


Thanks to Storyteller’s Abode for the image!


Meredith walked along the street between beach and buildings, bittersweet nostalgia seeping into her soul with each step. Such beautiful architecture, old buildings built before the giant resort hotels had invaded the beach. Character. History.


Gray clouds rolled in across the sky, heavy with their promise of rain. She had lived in one of the apartments above one of those little shops, a tchochke shop her parents had run… Warmest Regards. Her parents sold the thing and the new owners hadn’t known what to do with it, so ultimately, like so many of the shops on this strip, it had closed down.

She stopped in front of The Honey Tree, a small mom and pop shop that sold the basic odds and ends; a convenience store in an era where convenience stores had either merged with gas stations or been overrun by corporate mega-marts. Another legacy, someone else’s memory, soon to be forgotten. Her eyes rested on its going-out-of-business sign.

This was not the beach of her childhood.  Her childhood was as surely condemned as these poor buildings.  Memories and fond moments would collapse with the wrecking ball that shattered brick and stone.

Meredith continued her stroll, ignoring the overwhelming attractive advertisements of the modern buildings coming in Spring 2017. She ignored what those flyers meant.

She ignored how badly she wanted to cry.

Blog Awards

awesome-award.jpg  sunshine.jpg  dragons-loyalty-award1.jpg

I’ve spent some time thinking about Blog Awards.  I’ve been nominated for a few, but I haven’t really accepted any.  First, I would like to pass along my most sincere thanks to the individuals who have nominated.  You all are the greatest!

Thanks to Irene S. at Books and Hot Tea for the Epic Awesomeness Award.
Thanks to Amra Ismail at Perfect-the-Days for the Sunshine Blogger Award.
Thanks to Eve Messenger at Other-WORD-ly Endeavors for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

Thanks also for Alixa at AlixAnonyme for nominating me on the 3 Quotes challenge.

About Blog Awards

If you aren’t familiar with blog awards, they each have their own rules, typically around linking back to your nominator, sharing some details about yourself and your interests, and then sending it out to more people.

I have a mental block where it comes to accepting them.  To explain this in the spirit of the blog awards, I’ll share some backstory.  (;

I work in the legal field surround electronic discovery, and have for 11 years.  In e-Discovery, we collect people’s computers and pull all of their email, often spanning hundreds of employees.  I’d then look at these emails.  In 2005, Social media was in its infancy, and Chain Letters were all the rage.  I’d look at thousands of emails and see the same ten chain letters on everybody‘s computer.  Cross companies, cross industries, all levels from operator to CEO.  The first week, this was fun.   After that, it made me realize how much spam is out there.

I do not think blog awards are spam.

Truly.  Some time between then and now, I missed the social media bus, and stopped connecting with people around the country/world (got a post coming up on that later this week).  That means I never got the joy of using these types of things as tools to get to know people better, and to help people get to know me.  I never learned to connect.

So, I’m going to swallow that block and try to take these nominations for what they are: A way to build relationships with all the wonderful people in the world who make my blog possible with their connections and reading, and I will fulfill a rare accepting three awards in one post, which we will consider the “learn everything about Jon” post.  Maybe it’s not what the blog award creators intended, but hey… It’s my blog.  A lot of stuff here.

I’ve linked the nominators above.

Nominate Others

I’m now going to call out several of my favorite blogs (not counting the ones who nominated me… Check them out above!)

First, here are the rules for each of the blog awards. Consider yourselves nominated for any and all of these awards you don’t already have!

In addition to the great blogs listed above (and you four may consider yourselves nominated as well!), I really enjoy reading the content on these great blogs:

A Rookie Writer
Ana Spoke
World of Horror (doesn’t really focus on only Horror)
Priceless Joy and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers
This is Another Story by Yinglan

Too many others to count, but I appreciate you all!

Facts about me / Questions answered:

1.  What is your purpose behind blogging?
I want to help chronicle the journey of moving from writer to author, and show others my own hiccups and pitfalls along the way.

2. What is your most popular post? Provide link.
This story I wrote for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.  I was pretty mean to the protagonist (he’ll get over it), but it was a fun write.   What I Always Wanted

3. What advice would you give a newbie blogger?
Visit other blogs.  Comment.  Give to others what you would like given to your blog.  It’s a great way to build your own, but more importantly, it’s a great way to learn what others are doing, especially people who’ve been doing the blog thing a lot longer than you have.

4. What is your most favourite book/movie or both?
Movie:  Tough.  I’m going to go with The Princess Bride.
Book:  The Man of his Word series by Dave Duncan.  Original method of magic, and a protagonist that demonstrated unwavering loyalty and absolute stubbornness across 4 books…

5. A place you would like to visit.
A year ago, this would be nowhere.  I’m pretty happy where I am.  However, as I write more, I learn the value of experiencing life first-hand and would love to visit other places.  Nowhere specific, but I want to see more of the world.

6. Do you like horror movies? If so what is your favourite?
Somewhat difficult.  I enjoy the Silent Hill series of video games, and so there’s a soft place in my heart for the Silent Hill movie.  Otherwise, The Ring is the only movie post-childhood that has bothered me the way a horror movie should (at least up until it’s over-the-top ending).  “You weren’t supposed to help her!”

7. From where do you usually gain inspiration for writing?
A lot of it came from a weekly tabletop RPG game.  Beyond that, the world around me is always interesting.

8. Have you ever met with a car accident? If so what did it teach you?
Three real ones, actually.  First, I hit a lake on the interstate in the middle of the night, and spun out of control, bouncing down the interstate.  Second, I was side swiped while making a left out of a shopping center.  Third, I had a tractor trailer smash into me from behind, crunching the back half of my car.

I learned that you don’t feel the bruises until the next day.  I learned that when the moment hits, despite how fast things happen, you feel like you have an eternity in that moment.  I learned that there no matter how much you think you’ve let things go, things will remain with you (years later, I still have trouble making lefts, driving into puddles, and when vehicles are driving too fast behind me).  I’ve also learned that when things are happening, there are times you can do nothing about it.  So don’t blame yourself.  Just move on.

9. What is your biggest dream?
To be a professional, ultimately traditionally published author and see my books are store shelves.

10. If you could time travel, what would you want to change?
Several months before my mother passed away (I was in college), I had a massive argument with her.  I accused her of never really supporting me anyways, and that I had to do everything on my own.  I was used to it.  At the end of the call, she hung up on me.  Pride kept me from calling her back, no matter how often my sister told me she was pining over my not calling.  I wish I hadn’t lost those months.  I wish I had gone to see her more.

As a follow-up to that statement, I did get a chance to talk to her… About a week before she passed, I swallowed my pride and called her.  We chatted about 2 hours, but I never saw her again.

11. What is the happiest moment in your life?
Probably when I married the woman of my dreams… Although we eloped, since the actual occasion wasn’t terribly remarkable.  So it may have been when we first exchanged “I love you”‘s.

I know the birth of your child is supposed to be a big moment of joy… And it was, but a complicated emergency surgery sort of put terror lights on that night.