Archives for April 2015

How To Become A Social Media Superstar

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You don’t become a social media superstar by asking people if they would read this story.

I suppose if you shared a story about Plenty of Time and told people it is about how we never have as much as we think you might get somewhere…maybe.

And I would certainly never encourage you to read a post called The Five Dumbest Dad Bloggers either.

I suppose you might ask me why I keep linking to some of my older posts and I would tell you…because I can.

And because some of them are worth pointing out to those who haven’t seen them before.

Heck, many of the links in The Red Dress Club archives have some substance to them, I am proud of much of that fiction.

But this post is supposed to be another short place holder I used to keep the content flowing here.

That is because the blogosphere is a mean beast that requires consistent feeding and if you don’t feed the beastie the wee lads and lassies stop wandering by.

Guess I am not as good at disconnecting as I want to be or maybe I am sort of nervous about getting through the next two days.

BTW, if you are interested in reading some stuff and want more guidance than just a link to the archives you can try this.

How To Become A Social Media Superstar

If ever there was a title designed for linkbait that one is it.

I teach my children to own our work and to be proud of what we do. I also teach them to recognize some moments and some actions won’t make us proud.

The goal is to minimize those.

As for using linkbait, well I am not ashamed or proud of doing so. I use whatever tools I can to make things work here.

Part of that involves testing things out, like the new Postmatic system. I am thrilled with it, just check out It Is What Every Blogger Wants and the days since and all I see is increased engagement and more subscribers.

More importantly I see community starting to build again and that makes me happy.

The ability to comment through email has been awesome and that is how I kept in touch for three days without a computer.

I’d share more but I am up against it timewise so I’ll have to cut this piece short and say I hope I see you in the comments.

Maybe An Editorial Calendar Would Help

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A thousand years ago when I started blogging people used to complain that I updated my blog too frequently. They said my pace made it impossible to keep up with and I said there was never an obligation to read everything I write.

They said my pace made it impossible to keep up.

I always appreciated the sentiment but found it funny that they felt obligated to read it all.

Today I rarely update two or three times a day, every day the way I used to and it is no longer unusual for me to take the weekend off.

Reader Expectations

Some of you might wonder how much weight I give to meeting my reader’s expectations, especially after I mentioned some people complained about how frequently I update.

The answer is I don’t let my readers guide all I do nor do I disregard their wishes entirely.

I do my best to produce and publish content that interests me based upon a schedule that fits my day.

The idea is that if I am bored by what I am writing I can’t expect you to be interested either. And I figure that if you like my writing you’ll figure out what my publishing schedule is and respond accordingly.

All that being said I realized that since I’ll be gone for a few days the content I post before I leave will go stale and that is not good for retaining readers.

Had I thought about this in advance I could have planned for it and written a couple of posts to fill the gaps.

Maybe An Editorial Calendar Would Help

In concept it could keep me more organized and help prevent minor problems like the one I just described.

However I prefer to let the content here generate on a more organic basis so I have avoided using the calendar. Thus far that has worked pretty well for me but there may come a time where I am too busy to write without mapping it all out in advance.

Since I haven’t done it yet what you are reading now is a five-minute post I wrote Monday morning. It is scheduled to go live on Wednesday and to potentially serve as a placeholder until Friday night…maybe.

I might find time to blog and decide that I am willing to do so with my phone in which case this post won’t hold the same weight as it would if I didn’t update.

But in case I don’t you have this and the links below to keep you company until I return.

See you soon.

Life Is About Painting A Picture

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Sunday night is here and I haven’t finished packing yet.

This is not the sort of behavior I model for the kids but they aren’t here right now I am not going to worry about trying to teach them the proper way of doing things.

I know what needs to be done and what should be done but the fact is I am mentally exhausted and just don’t feel like doing more right now.

Second fact is that I am only going away for a few nights so packing isn’t particularly hard. Already got 90 percent of it done, what I haven’t done is my final check to make sure that I have all I need.

Knowing me I’ll still do a check tonight and then once again in the morning. It will happen after the shave and shower when I haven’t any more need to use my toiletries.

I’ll get in the car and part way there I’ll wonder if I forgot something and want to pull over but I’ll resist the urge and keep going because I am not leaving civilization.

If I really need something else I can get it.

A Change of Scenery

Sometimes when You’re Standing In Your Own Sunshine you overthink things because you don’t want to make a mistake.

It is a foolish sort of bugaboo to give into, especially when you believe in certain things and teach them to your children.

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Life is meant to be lived and you have to take risks.

Babe Ruth

I have a habit of swinging for the fences but over time I have learned it is ok to adjust and just go for a bunch of singles and doubles.

I tell the kids they can do that too. Life is also about small victories leading to big ones.

Life Is About Painting A Picture

Those of you who have been following along the last few weeks or maybe even year or so know it has been challenging and that I am uncertain about this next step.

But I am doing it because this is where I really am showing my kids what is important. This is where I teach them that sometimes we do what we don’t want to because it is necessary to get to the next rung on the ladder we are climbing.

When you are painting a picture of experiences in life it can’t only be sunshine and roses, the darkness must be included.

But darkness provides context and contrast you can use to appreciate what you have.

The Pipes Are Calling

I am listening to The Celtic Tenors sing Danny Boy and looking up at the ceiling trying to figure out when I got to be this nervous and yet so very confident about what I think is going to happen.

It is a strange dichotomy.

I have the ongoing war between heart and head here. One says to trust what you can taste, touch and feel and the other just laughs.

Laughs because there are things the head cannot know that only a heart can understand.

Somewhere in the midst of it all my head recalls something from my childhood, a vague memory that is tied into this topic.

I can’t seem to grasp it in its entirety, just a wisp of a spider web-like thread but I have this sense it is important so I’ll let it be and see if it surfaces later on.

Jack The Painter

I am not bringing the computer with me so I don’t know if I am going to update the blog or not.

Might use my phone, might not.

All depends on how much time I have and how interested I am in using the small screen to transcribe my experiences.

But you can trust that old Jack will be doing lots of painting and I’ll share some of it with you later on.

I’ll see you in the comments and do my best to update when I can.

You’re Standing In Your Own Sunshine

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Several months back my son was having a difficult time in school and I sat him down and told him we were going to have a hard conversation about some things.

“I understand your situation and why you are upset but I need you to recognize that your biggest challenge here is that you are standing in your own sunshine. You need to recognize how your attitude is affecting things and how you can make your life easier if you change it.”

He nodded his head and we spent some more time talking about the ins and outs, hows and whys and all the other crap that comes with these things.

Today he is a different boy than he was then. Today I have a teenage son that smiles more than he frowns and there is a lightness to his being I hadn’t seen for a while.

And now someone needs to sit me down and slap some sense into me too, because sometimes being a grownup sucks.

Who We Are

A friend described me as being one of the most intense people he has ever met.

I laughed and said people used to complain that I wasn’t ever serious.

He told me he could see pieces of that and I said that we all carry the recent past into our present and that mine has left me feeling frustrated.

When he asked me why I said it was because I thought I had made it beyond some very significant life challenges and that I was irritated to face some of them again.

We spent a few minutes talking about it and I told him I didn’t think my life was any different from anyone else. It is a long and winding road filled with the same highs and lows everyone faces and a mix of stuff in the middle.

I said it is fair to say I am intense and talked about the fire in my belly. I told him when I set my mind to doing something I can come on like a freight train.

He asked me if that sort of intensity ever exhausted me and I sort of shrugged my shoulders. I am sure others might be exhausted by it but this is who I am and who I have been for a long time.’

People love me for who I am or they don’t. That is just how life is.

Doesn’t mean there aren’t things about me that I want to change or rough edges that I might want to polish but those changes are for me to make because I want to make them not to make people like me.

Ask my kids and they’ll tell you they have heard me talk about the importance of being who we are and not who people want us to be.

Smiles & Intuition

I didn’t want to leave Texas and move back to LA.

LA will always be home but it hasn’t been good to me for a long while and I have known in my heart I needed to be elsewhere.

I came back because I felt like I had to. I came back because I felt like I had an obligation and that coming here would let me tie up some loose ends that couldn’t be handled elsewhere.

Maybe that has influenced my attitude about being here. Maybe that is part of why there have been fewer smiles on my face.

It is certainly part of why I have never let myself settle into the place I am living in now. This has always been a temporary stop in my mind and I have always looked towards a future that wasn’t here.

The initial plan I had come up with was supposed to make that temporary stop truly temporary. It was supposed to be between 12 and 18 months or so.

Life laughed at some of that and punched me in the mouth..several times.

No one takes kindly to being hit, especially me.

Punch me in the mouth and I’ll tie your butt up and lay you across the tracks so the freight train can run over you…twice.

For a while I didn’t get too stressed out about the change in my plans because I always figure out a way to make things work.

My gut told me that if I just kept doing what I was doing I would get to where I was going and that it would just be a different path than I had anticipated.

“Just smile Jack and trust your intuition.”

That is what I told myself and what I did.

Well time passed and things didn’t happen as I expected and my stress level quadrupled because the short little break I expected was far longer than I ever imagined it would be.

And then I finally caught a break.

I caught the wave that I thought I would be able to ride to shore, the one that would get me back on track.

You’re Standing In Your Own Sunshine

I am starting a new job on Monday.

It is not what I want to do but it is something I should be good at that will serve as a good stop gap.

Something that should ensure I can stop worrying about how to pay my bills and help me get by for a bit while I look for the position I really want.

But I am having a significant issue in my head about this position

I haven’t been able to figure out why it is making me so crazy because it really shouldn’t.

There are more than a few irons in the fire and one or more of them could come through in a hurry.

But the sense of relief I felt and the smile on my face have faded and I am not really sure why.

Instead of smiling I am looking at Monday as something I just have to get through.

If my son came to me with this I would tell him to shake it off and tell him to relax just as I did before.

I think I am standing in my own sunshine.

What Will Make You A Better Blogger?

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You won’t find the answer in the field or in the sky.

What Will Make You A Better Blogger is the kind of headline I hate using because it caters to the lowest common denominator of how to get more readers.

All you need to do is blog about blogging and you’ll find more readers come flocking your way but unless you provide more substance than the 918,432 other people blogging about how to blog you’ll see your bounce rate soar.

I was thinking about it today because several people stumbled onto a post called

How To Write Powerful Headlines that isn’t the vanilla sort of post people think it is. I’ll share an excerpt with you, but I warn you in advance I am often unfiltered.

“This post may not be what you think and it is probably not safe for work. I just stumbled across another 198 posts about how to generate more traffic and they are all some version of a weak “how to” post that tells you that the writer doesn’t really understand what they are writing about but hope to get a little link juice from the headline.

It is reminiscent of the woman who says that she loves oral sex but what she really means is that sometimes she likes to lick it around the edges. Or to use a tired a sports analogy when you take the rock to the hole you better go up strong because otherwise we will knock you on your ass and laugh at you while you lie their flopping around like a dying fish.”

What will make you and I a better blogger isn’t going to be found in the same tired platitudes and silly advice that is passed around the blogosphere like a bong at a Grateful Dead concert.

We need to find a way to use our words to paint a picture that captures our reader’s attention and compels them to continue to read all the way through.

It needs to be something that helps them relate to us as people and encourages community.

That is part of why I installed Postmatic and part of what got me excited about It Is What Every Blogger Wants.

Because I saw flashes of the old time blogging community we used to see here and all over the blogosphere. I saw people talking not just with me, but to each other.

When you build a community the community helps to sustain each other and you.

I tell my children all the time that when you find a way to give back good things happen.

A Skill I Want To Learn

I am a big Johnny Cash fan.

One of my favorite songs is the cover he did of Nine Inch Nails song Hurt.

Why do I like Hurt?

Maybe it is because I love songs that tell a story and because I can relate to it. Maybe it is because when Johnny took it on he adapted it so that it told part of his story too.

Maybe it is all of those things and more.

But what caught my eye today was how someone took Johnny’s cover and integrated clips from Walk The Line into it.

I watched it three times and wished I had the skills to do something like this because to me it takes storytelling to a place beyond where I have normally been able to reach.

It adds another layer and that is something as a storyteller I always want to be able to do.

What Will Make Us Better Bloggers?

What will make us better bloggers?

The ability to add layers and complexity to our stories as needed.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. You don’t always need an extra layer. Sometimes the best thing you can do is provide a very simple tale that involves a beginning, middle and an end.

But there are moments where you want and or need something more. It is like when you are on the highway and you push on the pedal and think that it would be cool if you had another gear to shift into.

Or if you are a geek like me you wish you were piloting the Millenium Falcon and were able to kick it into hyperspeed.

Never hurts when you are out running an Imperial Star Cruiser.

Anyway, you can add how to work with video and music to my list of things I want to learn.

How about you? What do you have to add?