Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who Is Your Favorite Horror Film Villian?

In honor of Halloween, I decided to take a little break from our normal talk and ask you who your favorite horror film villian is.  I'm sure I could stretch this on to include dozens upon dozens of baddies, but here are some of my favorite picks.

Keep in mind, I grew up in the late 70's and 80's, so mine may be different from yours.  If I grew up in the 50's, I might have Dracula, Wolfman, or the Mummy.

Which ones would you add to this list--an ever-growing list, mind you?

Personal favorite, of course, is Freddy Krueger.  This would be the Robert Englund version.  I haven't seen the new one yet.

A slasher favorite: Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th.  I believe my all-time favorite is the very first movie, where Jason came out of the lake as a little boy in the end--sorry for the spoiler, but heck the movie came out like 30+ years ago!

Of course, Mike Myers of the Halloween movies.

Leatherface--inspired by the gruesome tales of a real life villian: Ed Gein

If you're talking about horror movies, you can't go without mentioning something by Stephen King.  Here is Pennywise from "It"

Pinhead from Clive Barker's Hellraiser.  The true master of baddie dialogue (I don't mean bad dialogue; I mean some fantastic prose that came across his lips).

You thought I forgot about the little evil doll called Chuckie, didn't you?

And, last but certainly far from the least, is the little boy named . . .


Who are some of your favorites?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You Better Off 4 Years Ago?

This is a question thrown around when people are asked to gauge who to vote for in this year’s Presidential Race. If they say yes, then they’re supposed to vote for Obama. If not, then the vote goes for Romney.

How stupid!

Your life runs its course despite of whoever is in office. The only one to control your life is . . . YOU! You are in control of your life. If you’re not better off, then you’re the one mostly at fault. And it’s about time you do something about it.

Is my life better off 4 years ago (or 8 or 12 or 20) than today? Of course not. But NONE of it has to do with who is sitting in the White House. Even last year when my wife was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and spent the bulk of the year down at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN—in raising three kids, it was a lot like being a single parent, I might add—our life is still much better off. In fact, most of 2011 was pretty much crap for us, but there were lessons to be learned--and learned we did!  Our family is closer. Our debt load has lessened (but not completely, hence the "Please Donate" button along the top of the blog). Our knowledge has increased. Our careers are better. Spiritually we’re better. We are much farther along . . . and, once again, it has nothing to do with the person who holds the title of President of the United States.

My life is all up to me.

So when you’re asked this ridiculous question of whether your life is better off four years ago when compared to today, look to yourself instead of to the President. Now, I understand if you’ve had something bad happen that was beyond your control—Hello! Wife! Leukemia!—and I sympathize . . . but the lesson to be learned from it is how can you turn it around into something positive. Remember the Enron scandal? Many people lost their job and 401(K) fortunes because of it, and it was largely beyond their control—although, it was stupid to hold all of your retirement money in one fund or stock, but that’s a topic for another day. But I've heard several stories of people who started their own business afterwards and are earning more money than when they were at Enron.

Your life is up to one person: you.

What are you doing to make your life better in the next four years?

Or the next twenty?

Or forty?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #6

Welcome to the 6th episode of my video blog: Through The Outhouse Window.

In this episode, I speak to the spouses and/or the significant others of the artist.  What makes them tick?  How can you handle them?

I even given an example from Stephen King's life.

Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Oct-2012 / Two new blogs and a Preacher

This week I've been working diligently on the final four chapters of Beholder's Eye.  That would be chapters 58-61.  There is also an Afterword, as I've previously said, but of the story itself, there are only four left.

Definitely the home stretch.  And it feels great!

Speaking of Beholder's Eye, I started two new blogs earlier this week, dedicated to this thriller and upcoming novels in the series.  They are:

Twin Cities Crime Blogger - a fictional blog based on one of the characters in the novel, Dexter Grant, who at one point was considered a suspect in the serial killings.

Minneapolis VCU - a fictional blog charting the progress of the two main characters, Kolin Raynes and Simon Templeton, who are investigators of the Minneapolis PD's Violent Crime Unit (VCU). **Note: as of November 4th, 2012, this blog has been changed - please see the blog post dated 09-Nov-2012 for the updated link**

As I chart my increased progress these last few months, I attribute it to a few factors: first, I am nearing the end, which pushes me to go on with more intensity--it's amazing when I can see the finish line, the more focused and determined I become; second, I have been getting up a bit earlier (around 5am), as I've discovered that working in the mornings have been more productive than at night.  I attribute this to a guy named Eric Thomas AKA the Hip Hop Preacher.  He has an inspirational story he tells about a guy who wants to be successful and asks a guru for the secret--a secret that can be boiled down into this one phrase:

"When you want to succeed as bad as
you want to breathe, then you will be
I subscribe to ET's YouTube videos and also have his app on my Android phone.  This week he posted a video regarding procrastination and driving yourself to finish what you said you were going to finish.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What Lens Are You Looking Through?

Are you a solid Republican?

Or a staunch Democrat?

Are your beliefs rooted deeply within these two camps, albeit camps that seem to blend at times, and you will fight anyone who tells you differently?

Perhaps you're a Libertarian?

A Green supporter?

A Tea Party activist?

A middle of the road Independent?

And the list goes on and on . . .

(I'm still waiting for the Zombie or Vampire Party, but that's a discussion for another day--please no Sparkling Vampire Party!)

Is the political lens you look through blinding you from looking at other candidates in a more "let's at least hear this guy/gal out"?

Is your candidate so above doing anything wrong, that no matter what they say or do, you forgive them?

Imagine your candidate killing someone close to you--would you hold them as accountable as if it was the other candidate?

Here's a question I would love answered, in an honest way: would the media and liberals out there have treated Sarah Palin the same way if she were a Democrat?

Or, here's one for the other side: would the right-wing have treated Hillary Clinton the same way if she were a Republican?

How are you looking through your political lens?  What value system are you using?

Monday, October 22, 2012

My One And Only Chance . . . Over And Over Again

Let me be honest right upfront: I do not avidly watch any reality shows or reality-competition shows on TV—what the heck, I’m usually writing! The key word, of course, is avidly. I have watched these shows from time to time, simply for the inspiration of someone taking a shot at stardom—this is more for shows like American Idol or The Voice, or even Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, than The Kardashian’s or Jersey Shore. These latter shows I do not watch. At all.
What’s disheartening when I watch these competitions—you may argue that these are staged, and I won’t argue one way or the other on that—is when you get some young person (it’s usually a young person, in their teens or early 20’s) and they say, “This is my one and only shot to become famous!” What total crap! Thomas Edison failed over 1,000 times before he found the correct formula for the incandescent light bulb.
Very few people have a “one and only chance” at achieving their dreams--meaning, just one single opportunity and if it goes south, that's it. Those who have said this either failed the first time or didn’t even try at all.
What are you waiting for? Take a shot at achieving your dreams. And if you failed, try again.
And again.
And again.
Think Edison.

New Profile Pic?

As this blog is called "Views From The Outhouse" I've wanted to update my profile picture to include myself in . . . well, an outhouse.

I put out a local shout-out for anyone with an outhouse, but no one had one.  My ideal one would be the type with the quarter-moon in it.

My parents, on the other hand, came up with a temporary solution--they own a small cabin in the woods, which they bought about two years ago, and it indeed has an outhouse on the property.  Until I find my outhouse with the quarter-moon, I took these two pictures of the outhouse--without me, for now.  If you could be so kind as to comment below or e-mail me at on which profile works better in your opinion.

I have already updated the profile pic to include the one with the open door, but I don't want that to sway your opinion.

The top one (closed door) hasn't been cropped yet, so I'd do that before I post it on the profile if that's the one that seems to work out best.

Thanks, everyone, for your help.  It is greatly appreciated.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #5

This is episode #5 of my video blog "Through The Outhouse Window"

Here I talk about the three elements of business--R&D, Manufacturing, and Sales--and how they relate to your writing business.  This one is inspired by Earl Nightingale.


Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Oct-2012 / On the homestretch

Yesterday morning, I finished editing chapters 55-57 of Beholder's Eye . . . and I am now down to the final four chapters--58 through 61.  I do have an Afterword, as well, but the last four chapters are now being worked on as we speak.


I know I said before that I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I've also said that I'll probably still be working on Beholder's Eye in November, which is when NaNoWriMo is.  During these last few months, I've been saying that I'll be doing NaNoWriMo in a later month, like December or January.

That is still the case, even though I'll probably be done with the thriller Beholder's Eye by the time November rolls around.

I will participate in NaNoWriMo in January--and at that time I'll give daily reports on my progress.  I have a story in mind for it, so it'll be interesting to see that story take shape over the course of January 2013.

With me gearing down on the editing of Beholder's Eye I've also been giving thought as to what I'll work on next.  I have 4-5 projects coming down the pipe (one I am already working on, which is the weekly video blog Through The Outhouse Window), so I'll keep you informed as to my progress.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are You Happy Where You're At?

Today, right now, are you happy where you're at?

This is not a political statement--I try steer clear of most political discussions nowadays, because all they seem to do is make my blood boil at how narrow-minded some people are--but a statement on your life.

Most would say no.  Life could be better.

Look back five years, ten years.  Is your life better now than back then?

If not, take in these two words: CHANGE IT!

What's stopping you?  Nothing . . . except you.

Money shouldn't stop you.  If it's a business you want to start, most need very little capital.  How much does my writing cost?  Virtually nothing.

In today's age, information is available is such quantity--in varying degrees of quality--that one just doesn't have an excuse anymore about changing their life.

Take a blank piece of paper and brainstorm ideas.  Don't throw up roadblocks and tell yourself why something can't be done.  Just get the ideas out there.  If you're more of a talker, use a recording app on your smartphone and throw out ideas.

Do that every single day for a week, and at the end of the week compile all of the ideas.  You're bound to have something in there you want to do.  If not, brainstorm some more.

Do it today.  Not tomorrow.  You can do it.

Your life, and the world, depends on it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Good and the Bad on Having a Strong Focus Strength

Over the past few weeks, I've talked about strengths.  Authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie put together a book called Strengths Based Leadership, which is about finding your strength and using it to maximize your skills. Through their research, they have an online tool called Strengthsfinder which is a series of questions one answers to find out what those strengths are, and have categorized them into 34 separate themes.

My first two are futuristic and ideation--these I talked about briefly before.

My third strength is Focus.

This has been both a blessing and a curse for me.  Tied up with also having a strong futuristic talent, I have a tendency to focus too hard on the future and my goals, and when some day-to-day disruption rears its ugly head I may dig my heels in resist--this has both good and bad repercussions.  If, in the larger scope of events, it's for the better, then I have to adjust my focus temporarily.

A real life example of this would be a month of so ago my youngest daughter got Diabetic Ketoacidosis (she was six years old, and has been a type 1 diabetic for the past few years), which required an immediate trip to the hospital in Grand Forks, ND, and also an overnight stay for treatment and observation.  Now, I didn't dig my heels and prevent us from seeking treatment.  But the loss of time caused me to re-plan what I was going to write--not a big deal, as my daughter's health is MUCH MORE important.

Haivng a strong focus helps at work, at my day job, because what am I usually doing during breaks and lunches: writing.  I work on my novel in a large cafeteria, at a table by myself, surrounded by a few hundred people.  One can easily get distracted, but I typically don't.  I just focus hard on the pages and tune everything else out.

Is this something you're strong at or can be able to do, to focus?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #4

Welcome to the 4th episode of my video blog: "Through The Outhouse Window."

I talk about the "Perpetual Bell Curve of Publishing" I had previously published on my blog and I give it a more visual feel.


Where do you get stuck on in this process?

Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Oct-2012 / Nearing the finish line

Early this week I completed chapters 52-54 in Beholder's Eye.  It's coming along great, and I'm excited to see some of the minor changes I've made to the book along the way make their way to the end.  Now, it's on to chapters 55-57.  What's left you may ask: 7 chapters and an afterword--so, in other words, 8 chapters total.

The afterword is called "Views From The Outhouse" (I started putting these at the end of all my books, in much the same way Stephen King does in his books) and I talk about the finer details of coming up with the story idea and some of the other developments that went into the story's creation.

For an added bonus today, I'm sharing this funny video by Parnell Hall--thanks to Michael Hyatt for sharing this on his site:

There's a marketing lesson in this somewhere . . .
What would you do if this were you?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who Is Your Perfect Candidate?

Imagine, for a minute, the perfect candidate, whether it be for President or Congress or even your local government.

Got a picture of him or her set in your mind?  Good.

This candidate thinks like you do, supports what you do, and votes the way you want.  They start programs you want, is on your side of the issues, and even if they make a few blunders, you shrug your shoulders and dismiss it.

Still have a picture of your perfect candiate?  It may or may not be one of these guys, but for tonight let's just take this race.

Still have the perfect candidate visualized in your mind, saying the perfect phrases you agree with and supporting your values?


Now . . . imagine that candiate switches political parties.

He or she still says the same things as before, but you have now colored them in a different light.  The light of the Other Side.

Do you still support them?  Are they still your perfect candiate?

How much of what your perfect candidate does has to do with what political party they stand in?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finishing what you started

Last week was our tri-weekly writers' group meeting.  Evelyn and myself were the only attendants.  After sharing our works, we discussed blogs.  Evelyn is creating one, however is having troubles coming up with a name.  Ironically, her name is taken as a blog name . . . even though the person who took it hasn't done anything in years.

She writes a weekly column for the local newspaper, so I suggested using the name of her column as the title.  No go there either.  Taken.  So is a slight variation.  It's very irritating.

Earlier this year, I was toying around with starting another blog for a project I was working on.  I had a devil of a time finding a name that wasn't taken.

Then, for laughs, I tried some of my favorite authors and movies, to see if anyone had taken them.  Sure enough, all were taken.  But was anything done with them?


Why, oh why, would one ever start a blog, taking a great name, and not do anything with it?  Does it surprise me?  Not in the least.  It seems like I meet and hear about tons of people who either have ideas for books or projects or businesses . . . only to do nothing with those ideas.  If you do start and continue at it, you are in an elite club--you are a finisher.  Or, at least, you're using the vehicle in which you created for yourself.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Putting the creation of ideas to work

A few weeks ago, I touched on the book Strengths Based Leadership, written by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, which is about finding your top strengths and using it as a guide to maximize your skills. Through their online tool called Strengthsfinder I came up with my list of top five strengths.  Last week I shared my top strength: futuristic.

My second top strength is called ideation.

In other words, the creation of ideas--this one did not shock me either, when I read the test results.

I've always been a dreamer.  Even as far back as elementary school, I've always dreamed of becoming wildly famous--whether it be as a rock star or as a number-one bestselling author.  Ideas were always something that came to me, except during times when I was put on the spot (call it the introvert in me).  Most of the time I either dismissed the idea as being stupid or it was odd that I knew it wouldn't work.  As time wore on, I took to writing down the better ideas.

This strength of ideation--creation of ideas--can be a burden too, I've noticed, because sometime I get so caught up in the idea that I think it's wonderful . . . at first.  Then, there are times when ideas can come to me and I have no way of writing them down.  This last one happened just yesterday, in church, while listening to our pastor's sermon.  An idea came to me--POW!  Yes, it was partially inspired by the sermon, so there will be a religous slant to the story.

But during the sermon, as well as the rest of the service, the idea for the story tumbled around and around in my mind--I came up with three or four different titles, one of which I temporarily settled on as being the best--and here's the worst part: I had no way of writing it down!  I did have my Droid smartphone in my pocket (set in silent mode) but I didn't want to look like an ass while I pulled it out and started typing away.  Once I was at home, the first thing I did was grab a piece of paper and took as many notes as possible.

The strength of ideas has also helped me in shaping what I'll be doing in the future--linking the first two strengths of futuristic and ideation.  I'm currently nearing the end of editing a thriller, and already I'm forming in my mind what I'll be working on next.  I have four major projects (most can work well with the others) planned once it's completed, which I'm hoping will be by around Halloween.

Do ideas come easily to you?

In what way do you cope with this, and if you feel it's a strength of yours, what are you doing to enhance this strength?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #3

Welcome to episode #3 of my video blog - Through The Outhouse Window.
"Should I Play It Safe?"


Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Oct-2012 / Setback averted

I have deeply immersed myself into chapters 52-54 of Beholder's Eye, and the editing process is coming along nicely.

I had a scare last Friday night.  My computer--the one I am writing in--got a virus.  A nasty one.  It was called the FBI Virus.  I just came down to my office, and was going to do some quick research on the internet, when the screen seemed to freeze up and this showed up:

Needless to say, I thought this was real.  Then, I thought, "Why would this happen?  I'm not doing anything illegal?"

I immediately shut down the internet, which stopped the virus from continuing to do any damage, and while using the browser on my phone, I found the solution--which anyone can find by searching for FBI Virus Warning in Google.  I downloaded some Malware software on Saturday, and within an hour I was back up and running.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Looking to the future

Last week I mentioned that I had previously read Tom Rath and Barry Conchie's book Strengths Based Leadership, and in using their online tool called Strengthsfinder I discovered what my top five strengths were--out of 34.

My top strength is futuristic, which, from anyone who knows me, this does not come as a shock.  It didn't shock me either.  I'm always dreaming towards the future, planning and envisioning the best way possible.

Knowing this as a strength of mine as allowed me to focus (another strength, but that's for another day) on what lies ahead instead of just looking to the present.  This has even allowed me to contemplate what pitfalls I may encounter, anticipating them, and then figuring out a way around them.

How have I used it lately?

For example, if you're readers of this blog, you know I'm in the final chapters of editing a thriller novel.  What do I have planned once it's done?  PLENTY!  There are projects that I've started putting together, waiting for the day when the thriller is done, and I can start on them.  I also ask myself what the next step is in the process of getting the thriller to publication.  I always seem to be a few steps ahead.

Does this sound like you?  If so, you may have a strength of futuristic.  If not, that's okay.  You have other strengths.  I encourage you to take the Strengthsfinder test and discover what you are good at, and pour much of your energy in those areas.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

We've all thought this at one time.  You're reading an article or watching the TV or just plain walking along the sidewalk and you see something new, and the first thing you think of is: "Why didn't I think of that?"

We're all bombarded with ideas on a daily basis.  Most of the time we're not conscious of it, but all of a sudden you read something and then tie it in to something you might've briefly thought of days or weeks or even months ago.  POW!  Your idea is born.

Most people, however, are resistent to ideas.  Or, they may get ideas but don't do anything with them.  I talked about this before in my blog post titled "The Engine Analogy" where I say that ideas without action is like an engine without fuel.  Ideas fall on all of us like rain.  And, like rain, many of those people have umbrellas to ward off the ideas--they do this and don't even know it, or if they do, they do so by making excuses for why the idea won't work.

What I challenge you to do is this: when you come up with ideas, write them down.  Even if you think they're stupid or won't work.  It doesn't matter.  These could be inventions or story ideas or even simply ideas on how to better do your work/business.  After a while, you'll become atuned to recieving ideas that it looks a lot like an upside-down umbrella, where you are collecting the ideas.

Write down as many ideas in the next 30 days.

Then, at the end of those 30 days, look over your list.  Instead of asking yourself how these can't be done, ask yourself how they can.