Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leave a review...

Have you ever left a review on Amazon (or anywhere else), commenting on a book or some music you really liked?

Ever write a fan letter (email or real mail) to someone?

As a guy who is (very) occasionally on the receiving end of that stuff, I can tell you it's a very cool thing to do. I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to drop a note to your favorite writer, singer, French Toast Girl painter, or interpretive street dancer and tell them you like their stuff (particularly if they don't have a lot of comments or reviews already).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rad Revision

Harry Max's review (and the continuing sales) made me decide to do a quick revision of my Radical Elements book.

So, I cut out the two appendixes (which weren't really needed), tweaked a few bits here and there, adjusted the cover a little and generally freshened it up a bit.

For some reason, I wasn't able to create the "full text" preview (I'm working on that)... but I think the end result is better.


Hillbilly PhD...

After a long hiatus, the Hillbilly PhD blog is back! Check him out - and here's a little nugget I grabbed from his site:

"Those who jump into the void owe no explanation to those who stand and watch."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Radical Elements Review on Amazon...

The continued, persistent sales of my Radical Elements book led me to poke around online a bit, and I discovered this recent review of my Radical Elements book on Amazon (dated Jan 14th, 2008). This might help clear up some of the mystery of how some people are hearing about the book and why they're buying it. A gentleman named Harry Max writes:

In my role as professional development and leadership coach working with Google and other excellent Silicon Valley companies, I read all the "motivational" books and recommend very few (if any) of them. Dan Ward's Radical Elements of Radical Success is a notable exception. If you're looking to upgrade your perspective and kick it into high gear, buy it and read it. You won't be disappointed.

What a cool review! Look at me - I'm blushing!

I don't recognize Mr Max's name or know how he came across my book, but I certainly appreciate his kind words. I found an entry on LinkedIn for one Harry Max who is a consultant in SanFran - I bet it's him (and quite a resume he's got there!). I'll have to drop him a note...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Who are you?

People keep buying my Radical Elements of Radical Success book - and I have no idea why or who! I haven't done my Radical Elements presentation anytime recently. I haven't done any marketing at all. I hardly even mention it here on this blog. How do people hear about it? What makes them buy it? Why don't they buy the other stuff?

It's not selling in large quantities, mind you. Just a trickle, actually... but a regular, steady trickle. Often, it's the eBook version - I continue to be surprised at how popular that format is. Other times, it's the print version. But just about every month, two or three are purchased (sometimes more).

The thing is, I have sort of mixed feeling about the book itself, and therefore about these sales.

It was my first book, and I'm (mostly) proud of it... but it was never the book I wanted to write. It's the book I felt I had to write. It's certainly not the genre I wanted to write in. Personally, I can't stand success-lit books. That's largely why I wrote it - to counter the nonsense in that genre. But at the same time, I'm not sure it completely escaped the genre's inherent pitfalls...

I still think it's a good book. I still think it offers some useful ideas, principles and stories. I still believe the stuff I wrote in it (although some of the examples are starting to get dated). But I wouldn't write it the same way today. In fact, I don't think I'd presume to write it at all. But I still get excited to see that people are buying it.

Excited... and confused.

Big Happenings...

Some exciting things happening around here lately - for starters, I sent a query letter to a publisher, asking if they'd be interested in The Simplicity Cycle book. They wrote back almost immediately and asked to see the manuscript! It's just a nibble, but it's a step in the right direction. They said I should hear in a few weeks...

And speaking of the Simplicity Cycle, I'm heading out to Olin College this Friday, to give a simplicity cycle-related guest lecture/discussion. I always love hanging out at Olin, and am excited to meet this year's senior class.

Finally (and this is the biggest one), my frequent co-writers Gabe & Quaid and I were invited to create a single-panel comic (ala The Far Side) for the journal we write for! It's going to be a regular feature in every issue... how cool is that? I'll write more about it later - for now, I'll just say it's been a lot of fun coming up with the ideas, and in the span of a week, we created a 2-year supply... (which isn't as hard as it might sound, since they only publish 6 issues a year).

Saturday, January 26, 2008


By now, most of you have heard of lolcats - the laugh-out-loud funny pictures of cats with bad grammar, made famous by the "i can has cheezeburger?" feline.

Well, Wired magazine introduced me to a new lol phenom, featuring Ron Paul. Check this one out:

i can beez prezident

Pretty funny...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Politics & Life

I'm not a very political guy for the most part, by predisposition as well as by profession. But in an election year like this one, politics is on my mind more than usual.

I saw a car the other day with two bumper stickers. One said "Pro Life" and the other expressed support for a particular Republican candidate from 2004. I'm not sure that's quite consistent.

See, I think pro-life should mean more than just anti-abortion. I'd say I'm pro-life, but that phrase doesn't mean what it should, so I'll say I'm in favor of letting people live. As a person who is in favor of living, I think we should abolish the death penalty, if for no other reason than even the best legal system will occasionally convict an innocent person (and there are lots of other reasons). That just seems obvious and consistent.

I'm in favor of living, so I think we should have stricter gun control. You want a few hunting rifles - fine (hunting=feeding your family = living). But there's no need for semi-automatic assault rifles. And please don't try to argue that we all need to be heavily armed to protect against government intrusion - as Martin Luther King Jr. showed us, there are better ways to oppose bad, oppressive government than violence. It gets back to that whole "in favor of life" thing.

I'm in favor of living, so I think we should prefer diplomacy to combat when it comes to international relations. That's all I'm going to say about that.

And then there's the economic part of it all - neither the socialist big government nor the capitalist big business really supports living... Distributism does - I've mentioned that before, and probably will again (but not in this post).

So I'm having a difficult time finding a party or candidate that says this sort of stuff. Instead, we get "pro-life" Republicans who are enthusiastic supporters of the death penalty and in bed with the NRA... or Democrats who think abortion is a perfectly reasonable medical procedure.

It's almost enough to make me want to run for office...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I'm taking a class in computer network defense this quarter, and it's shaping up to be quite an experience. The course is actually a competition, involving AFIT, all the service academies and the Naval Postgraduate College.

Each school has been given a (deliberately inadequate) amount of fake money to build a real computer network. We have to put it together, lock it down and make it as secure as possible, while still providing certain services (email, web server, etc). Then, the NSA is going to try to get in - and the school that keeps them out the most / longest / best wins.

I'm co-leading a team of 14 people. We're all inexperienced (many, including me, have zero experience doing this sort of stuff). We don't have much time, we aren't allowed to (cyber)attack back, and did I mention they deliberately didn't give us enough resources to create a truly secure network? Oh, and the attackers from the NSA have been doing this same exercise for several years now...

The whole situation reminds me of Gimli the dwarf from LOTR: "Certain death, little chance of success... what are we waiting for?"

This also happens to be my favorite type of challenge. Bring it on, NSA! Bring it on...

Have Your Self A Steampunk Little Christmas

On a lighter note, I got a big stack of books for Christmas - some design books, some novels, and more than a few in a genre called Steampunk.

I refer to it that way because, unlike cyberpunk, steampunk is still somewhat obscure, but it's a lot of fun. Imagine a mashup of Victorian era politics (the British Empire in the Victorian/Edwardian era, the US as an Old West frontier, etc) with steam-powered space travel.

Anyway, I've started reading one of the books, and am really enjoying it. Can't wait to get to all the rest!

I also got some more CD's by "The Real Tuesday Weld," and while it's not exactly steampunk, it's similar, in that it's a mashup of old and new, tinpan alley with modern electronica. Way fun!


Another snapshot from places I drive past. This time, it's a garden center I see every morning as I head in to school.

I'm already looking forward to planting a big vegetable garden in our backyard this spring... but for now, it is indeed January!

(I just hope we have more luck with veggies than we did with our strawberries in NY - the critters always got to the berries before we did).

B's Journal

My oldest daughter wrote an entry in her school writing journal titled "My Parents," and it totally cracked me up. The things she picked to describe us were pretty interesting. She mentioned that my wife Kim likes Milano cookies and Dove chocolates, but doesn't like it when B fights with her little sister. She mentioned that I like wearing a costume on Halloween (and that Kim doesn't). And she didn't mention the Air Force at all - she wrote "My dad is a writer. He wrote the Boomer Sisters books."

I think that's pretty cool...

SIA's Songs...

Got a CD a few days ago by a singer / songwriter named Sia. I'd seen her new CD in Starbucks, but I picked up an older one (Color the Small One). She reminds me of The Cranberries or The Sundays, and at first listen, it didn't strike me as particularly noteworthy. She's no Polly Paulusma, I thought (correctly). But I kept listening to the CD, and it's really grown on me.

In particular, her song "The Church Of What's Happening Now" has really got into my head.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Scary Indeed!

"The scariest thing about Stanley Kubrick's vision [in 2001: A Space Odyssey] wasn't that computers started to act like people but that people had started to act like computers."

- Nicholas Carr, quoted in the Jan 2008 issue of Wired magazine.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The brightness setting on my Mac book was somehow set to *Super Low* making the screen remarkably hard to read in the presence of any light whatsoever.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I didn't try to adjust it or fix it. I didn't look into it. I just sort of assumed the brightness was what it was, and I squinted, got closer and avoided bright light... Until two days ago, when I found the screen settings and adjusted the brightness to *High.*

Ah... so much better!

That made it bright for a while, then went into some energy saving mode and dimmed (a bit), then brightened up again when I typed something or moved the mouse... and watching it do that, I remember it used to do that. It used to be bright & dim - I'd apparently forgotten how bright.

And then this morning, I watched it actually take itself to a *Super Low* brightness setting, all by itself. And it stayed there. Even when I typed. So I went in to the power management application and told it to Cut It Out!

We'll see if it listens...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

6-word Bio

Smith Magazine invited people to submit 6-word biographies. They published a bunch of them in a book, and their website still has a standing offer for people to come up with new ones. So here's what I wrote, for Dan's life in 6 words:

"God said smile, so I did."

How about yours? What can you say in 6 words?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Driving through NYC late at night, we saw a partially-lit sign for a restaurant... the last few letters were burned out, so the sign just said "Rest." I thought that was a pretty good suggestion... and then I wondered what kind of food they serve at the Rest Restaurant.

(if you use your imagination, you can see it in this photo - sorry it came out so fuzzy, but it was my camera phone and I was in a moving vehicle - not driving, thankfully!).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


We drive past this blue toilet full of flowers on our way to church every Sunday. I had to stop and take a photo.

I have no explanation. It just makes me laugh.


After posting my earlier comment about The Desert, I've been re-reading it and thinking about it... and have had more-than-momentary flashes that the book is actually not very good. It's an uncharacteristic dip in confidence, and I'm sure it's temporary, so I'm pressing ahead anyway.

I've decided to look for an agent, instead of going straight for a publisher. So far, I've contacted two agents, and neither was interested. Only 10,000 more agents (and potential rejections) to go. I like that the agents have been able to respond so quickly - a nice change from the several months I've waited to hear from publishers in the past. And they've both been very gracious, sending me nice "this isn't my kind of book" comments...

We'll see where this thing takes me. I'm thinking about contacting some agents with a proposal based on my Simplicity Cycle. Just a matter of getting the right book in front of the right person... right? I'm sure there's a yes out there somewhere, and until then, there's always Lulu.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Are you kidding me?

I just couldn't believe this poster.

It's real. It's hanging on the wall near a food court. I had to take a photo of it, because it was just so crazy.

I don't know what else to say about this.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Desert Update

I just finished revising and editing (again!) my little book of stories for grown-ups called The Desert. My apologies to anyone who ended up with one of the earlier, less-well-edited versions (both of you - heh)

I added a few short pieces, trimmed a couple that needed trimming (oh, it's always so hard to delete stuff, even if it really needs to be deleted). One of the major changes is that the story titled The Dropper has a whole new ending. The original ending was too blunt, sort of a hit-ya-over-the-head-with-the-message kind of ending. Now it's more ambiguous and more open to interpretation. Much, much better. I also deleted a "commentary on the Psalm" I wrote - the Psalm should stand or fall on its own.

I think this book is the best thing I've ever written. I usually think that about my latest project, but this time I really mean it. My Simplicity Cycle is easily the most practical thing I've written (and the most likely to be commercially successful). The Boomer Sisters series has the clearest, easiest to define audience (kids). But The Desert is really special. I think it's my best writing and my best thinking, and I don't say that lightly.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with it. As I consider it, I'm a little bit haunted by this sketch from the Indexed blog.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Online & Updated

I used Google's Page Creator to, well, create a webpage that contains links to just about all my articles online. I cleverly called it Dan Ward Online.

I've mentioned it once or twice before, and thought I'd mention it again because I just finished updating it (using the word "finished" very loosely).

So, if you're looking for anything from The Dan Ward Canon, you can find a link to it right here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Albany Mall...

Saw this advertisement for Clarkson University hanging in the mall in Albany NY. It sort of caught my eye because I went to Clarkson (and my name is Dan... duh).

Greek Heads in the Met

Another shot from the Met. I love greek statuary.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Egyptian Graffiti

One of the major themes of The Boomer Sisters in the City is graffiti. Specifically, there's a big scene of the Met being covered by spray paint.

So, imagine my pleasure as I was walking through an Egyptian temple they had set up there in the Met, and saw a whole bunch of graffiti from the 1800's carved in the walls.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Speaking of dreams come true...

Happy Anniversary to me and my beautiful wife! It's been 13 amazing years of love and adventures, and I'm looking forward to another 70+!

Day 1: A Dream Come True!

Today was my first day of classes, as you can tell by this post's title, it was a dream come true. Unfortunately, it was this dream.

I showed up at 0830 for my first class... which actually started at 0800 (I read my schedule wrong). But that was OK, because it turns out I was the only one who had signed up for the class... so the instructor decided we weren't going to do it anyway.

So... instead of spending 90 minutes learning about "Ecology, Limnology and Natural Resources" and using my Ecological Biology For Engineers textbook (which I now hope I can return!), I grabbed a course catalog and a printout of all the courses being offered this quarter, and found a replacement class (Computer Networking, offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

My next class was at 11:00, and when I got to the classroom 5 minutes early, nobody was there. I checked that handy printout from the previous paragraph, and discovered the class had moved to a different room - in a different building! That was so much fun, I did the exact same thing (wrong building, wrong room) two hours later with my 1:00 class, but that time several classmates were with me. Good thing that first class was canceled, or I wouldn't have had that printout and wouldn't have known where to go for 11:00 or 1:00! (You'd think I would have checked the 1:00 class location after the 11:00 snafu, but apparently I'm not good with numbers...)

And, just like in my dream, I was indeed fully dressed the whole time. Here's hoping for a smoother day tomorrow.

Christmas Update, pt 1

I'm back!

Christmas break was great fun, and we really enjoyed our time visiting family in NY (both NYC and w-a-y upstate). Got to do loads of fun things, like see the Rockettes Christmas show, sledding on "Fox Hill" in Plattsburgh, got snowed on, and even got to experience a genuine "today's high will be 6 degreed (F)" kind of day. And now we're back in Ohio, heading out to school shortly.

One other thing we did was visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka The Met) in New York City. Very cool place, and we only got to see a tiny fraction of what's there. We'll go back again when the kids are older and see more. But here's the funny thing. I wrote about The Met in my third Boomer Sister book (The Boomer Sisters In The City), even though I'd never been there (the internet is a wonderful thing). I specifically mentioned the statue of Hercules pictured here, so it was cool to finally meet him in person.

The same thing happened with my second book (The Boomer Sisters Meet Champy) - I didn't get a chance to visit the ECHO Lake Aquarium until after the book was finished (and in both cases I seriously underdescribed the places). Apparently, if I visit these places before I write about them, I can consider it "research" and use it as a tax write-off. Oh well - it was fun anyway.

I hope you had a great Christmas and have a very happy new year!