Tuesday Tidbits: New Year, New Purge

“Why am I here, and where is my tidbit?”

Whew. I just finished tidying my desk and working area. My first thought was, “Hey, that’s pretty nice faux wood finish (Not really. It’s a pretty crappy old desk, but it keeps stuff off the floor). My second thought was, “I have to clean off those coffee rings.” My third thought was, “That’s a very neglected coaster over there.”

Now that that it done, It was time to purge my mailing list. I’ve written about previous purges:

The Purge (Subscribers): Quality over Quantity
Newsletter Success: Benchmarks
The Purge: Redux

but, This was going to be my biggest yet. I sent it on Monday, to give subscribers time to open (or not), then today I went though the list and kept the ones who opened and did not unsubscribe (2), and then unsubscribed the rest (52). That took my list down to 166. That should improve my open rate and the engagement. I’ve said before that I’d rather have 10 engaged subscribers than 100 duds.

My last open rate was 38%. My newsletter goes out tomorrow to 52 less subscribers. I’ll update you*.

-Leon

” Forgetting something?”

* 48% now.



Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Tuesday Tirade: Bad Writing Sells?

“What? It was a dark and stormy night.”

I didn’t major in creative writing. I will, at certain times, misuse commas, only because there are too many rules, and as much as I try, it is challenging to remember them all.

I try not to make my writing difficult to understand. Using more common words rather than obscure, recondite, or esoteric ones, enables a reader to focus on the story instead of having to look up or deduce the meaning of a word.

Sure, I’ll use the thesaurus (that’s not a tome shaped dinosaur, by the way), to discover interesting words, and have inserted them in place of, for lack of a better word, bland* ones.

Every writer has their own voice and idiosyncrasies (or foibles**). I tend to be less descriptive in my writing, only because that’s the way I read, skimming over information that I deem unimportant. I think I have been getting better at writing dialogue (but not spelling it), although, my dialogue is usually succinct*** because I think that my characters would have a conversation as most people would.

What was my point? Oh, yes. Bad writing.

I was, well, still am, reading a book by a best selling author. I have read several of his—umm, or her—books in the past, some I have enjoyed, others I found . . . meh.

In previous books, I noticed that many of the sentences were quite short, and would have several in a row, exactly the thing my grammar program would red flag. I’m not adverse to short sentences. They have their place. Not too many, though. That gets boring. Some might say monotonous. Yes. Exactly my point.

In the book I am currently reading, I came across this passage which made me think, “His—or her— editor let this through?“:

Yikes.

I wonder what the countertops in his—or her—kitchen are like?

-Leon

If you have a good example of bad writing, add it in the comment section.

*There are better words: insipid, lackluster, mediocre, vapid, banal, trite, inane, characterless . . .
**Shortcomings
***Brief or concise



Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Tuesday Tirade: Winter and Cereal

I had a cereal topic written for this morning, but then the local weather person mentioned that it is the shortest day of the year. Great. Which means it will be the longest night of the year. Just as well because it feels like it has been the longest year of the year.

They also said it is the first day of winter. Wait. What!?

So you are telling me that the last month of this:

was fall?


OK. Back to the original topic:

Cereal. It’s good. I often eat it for a snack. But c’mon Big Cereal, can’t you at least make the bag easy to open? Ever hear of Ziploc? And maybe make the Puffed Wheat a little denser so it doesn’t fly out of the bowl when you pour in the milk.*

Oh, by the way, when the picture on the front shows a bowl of your product with milk in it, and you say that is the serving suggestion—we know. That’s why we buy cereal.**

Hey wait! Yeah you, generic brands. You ain’t fooling anyone with your similar names. We know who you are copying, Oatie O’s, Crispy Ricelettes, Flakes O’ Corn, Lieutenant Crunch, Lucky Treasures.

Why are you so sweet? I walked through your aisle*** and there were still signs denoting kid’s cereal—and they were all the sugary kind. I though we had done away with that sales method. And why are your mazes and word jumbles so easy? Help Molly Mouse find the cheese? It’s right there!

Nutritional labels: You put two columns, one for the cereal alone, the other with milk. Who eats a bowl of dry cereal? Maybe if you put a picture of the cereal in a bowl of milk . . .

-Leon

P.S. A good winter cereal is oatmeal.

*Yeah. I eat Puffed Wheat. Those little unsweetened, styrofoamy ovoids.
** And sometimes mixing it with melted marshmallows to make a tasty square.
*** Side note: I spelled this on the first try.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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C’mon, space stuff!

Tuesday Tirade: Angry Cat was lonely.

“Thanks for ignoring me.”

I haven’t posted a tirade for a few weeks. That means:

  1. Nothing annoys me (not true)
  2. Everything in my life is running smoothly (also not true)
  3. People haven’t given me reason to roll my eyes (still not true)
  4. I’m too busy (never)
  5. I’m uninspired (I’m un-something)
  6. My buttons have been unpressed (have I finally realized that I am a sentient android?)
  7. I have better things to do (Better? Maybe other. . .).
  8. Amazon hasn’t pissed me off lately (actually, that’s surprisingly true). For a few weeks, they reset my free book to $0.99 for the seventh time, and for the seventh time I had to go through the whole CSR conversation all over again, explaining that my excerpts book is not the full volume, despite the somewhat similar name. It is now free and at #10 in Free Contemporary Poetry—just ahead of this guy:

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Tuesday Tirade / Inktober Day 26 (Connect): Ripe ideas

“I don’t like twisty things.”
Inktober Day 26: Connect

All previous drawings: https://linesbyleon.com/inktober/


Tuesday Tirade: Ripe Ideas

Planning for National Novel Writing Month: Brainstorming ideas


As I cut into the avocado, I knew immediately that it was a mistake. The razor edge of my paring knife pierced the outer layer entering the still hard, unripe (and therefore inedible) inner flesh. Too hard for guacamole, the halves were wrapped in plastic in hopes of salvation without oxidation.


The bananas, bought green—why were there not any bunches with a yellow hue?—sat amongst the apples and oranges in the bowl. Each morning, the anticipation of having the perfect banana, yellow with some black mottling, for breakfast was enough to send me into a nervous state. Finally, on that cloudy day in May, it happened.

Unfortunately, the next day, the remaining bananas were all black, as if during the night a coup was declared, so I was forced to quell the new order by placing them into the freezer to be forgotten until a loaf of banana bread was required.


The peaches were piled high. Removing any other than the top layer would result in a catastrophic avalanche. I choose one that had a slight give when I pressed my thumb where the stem had been. Do I roll the dice on this one? Will it be juicy? Mealy? When I cut and twist, will the skin extricate itself leaving the remainder firmly attached to the pit? I couldn’t risk it and placed it back for the next unlucky victim.


Vine-ripened tomatoes, straight from my garden, ruins any chance of being satisfied with the store-bought variety. Yet, despite the fact it is mid-winter, I throw caution to the wind, only to be deeply disappointed…again. Will I ever learn?


Ahhh, Squash. You never fail me. I forget about you, yet when I need you, you are always there, waiting, ready to supply the needed nutrients I have been craving.


Will any become the next great novel?

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Tuesday Tirade/ Inktober Day 12 (Stuck): Stick to it.

I don’t like sharing my day with anything…

Inktober: Day 12 (Stuck)

If this didn’t happen to you when you were a kid, then you weren’t a kid.

All previous drawings: https://linesbyleon.com/inktober/


Tuesday Tirade: Stick to it.

Have you ever seen the commercial where the fried egg slides around on the non-stick pan? Ever try to melt a bunch of candies and wipe it clean in one stroke of a paper towel? How about frying anything with no worry of having a difficult clean up? Muffins dropping out of an overturned tray?

My takeaway?

  1. Eggs don’t slide like that
  2. Melted candy, although very tasty, is messy
  3. I made a blueberry pancake this morning–Yes, a pancake. Why make 3 small ones when you can make one big one—and the blueberries left little round residue marks that took soap and water to remove. Non-stick my—
  4. Muffins in my Betty Crocker tray cling for dear life when upended

Things will stick to my grandmother’s cast iron pan unless a liberal amount of oil/butter is used. No worse than my other pans. I have four. Cast iron, Green Pan, Gotham Steel, and an old non-sticker that was probably one of the first (and probably not the healthiest.)

To make clean-up easier, maybe I should just boil everything.

“Rice and pasta will stick.”
“Oh, right.”

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!