Tips to jump-start your writing (unless you’re in Arkansas)

image It’s Friday, but this one is different! Why? No, not because I woke up with our dog’s nose somewhere we both regret. What makes this Friday different is that 47 years ago today my life got better without me even knowing it — because my wife was born! To celebrate, I’ve taken the next three days off, in part so I can apologize for the fact I just announced her age to more than 5,000 people.

Yeah, that was dumb.

However, I was smart enough to plan ahead and have a post ready for this week’s Nickel’s Worth On Writing which, in case you’re visiting for the first time, is when I take the wisdom gathered from 15 years as a columnist and share it much like U2’s latest album — no one asked for it but they’re getting it for free anyway.

Unlike U2’s album, my weekly feature has been heralded by Publishers Weekly as “…Writing advice to inspire your best work, assuming you stack hazard cones for a living…”

But enough accolades!

There’s nothing quite like staring at a blank page, knowing that with a few strokes of the keyboard you will transform a landscape devoid of life into a living, breathing thing of your own creation. There’s also nothing quite like finishing that fourth cup of coffee only to find that same blank page staring back at you. Continue reading

This Just In …

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…TAT-tat-tat-TAT-TAT-tat-tat-TAT…

[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our newsroom...]

Any journalist will tell you a well-written headline can mean the difference between getting your story at the top of the fold on Page 1, or settling for a small corner next to a press release for the Moose Lodge spaghetti feed. In fact, headlines are so important that some newspapers have editors who do nothing but come up with catchy titles to hook readers.

Not here at Siuslaw News.

We don’t even have a poofreader. Continue reading

Real men are always in control — of themselves, not others

image Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family — specifically, my father and older brothers.

The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds — as both a witness and recipient — had never truly healed.

I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I fought to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children; I also know this because I came to realize that as much as we want to tell ourselves we can choose not to take any baggage with us on our journey through life, ultimately it’s always somewhere waiting to be claimed. Continue reading

Symmetrics that will give you a Long Awkward Pause

It’s Saturday, which means I’m over at Long Awkward Pause commenting on this week’s collection of strange, awkward or just plain weird images known as Chris DeVoss’s family photo album The Saturday Six! This week’s subject: SYMMETRY (I used all caps just to keep everything lined up nicely…)

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 BrainRants: Rum and coke! Somebody’s getting naked later, and it’s not you.

Omawarisan – Is the laptop plugged in to the glass? Symmetrical ice cubes produce cold fusion.

Ned: Given the graph paper and these ice cubes, I’d say SOMEONE has an unhealthy obsession with squares. Let me guess what was for breakfast… WAFFLES maybe?!?

List of X: Is that what they call “checking in on Foursquare”?

(Do you find symmetry strangely arousing? Then straighten those pencils and meet me for more over at LAP clicking HERE..!)

Don’t panic! That sound you heard was just my idea flopping

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, that time each week when I gather the writing wisdom gained through 15 years as a columnist and share tips that Publisher’s Clearing House has called “A POTENTIAL WINNER!” and what Writer’s Monthly recently heralded as “Writing advice you can’t find anywhere else. And we’re making sure of it…”

But enough accolades!

Let’s be honest. Even a seasoned humor columnist sometimes has an idea that falls flat. And if last week’s NWOW idea had fallen any flatter the aftershocks would have been picked up by seismologists in China. As you might remember, last week I tried something different. Unfortunately, that’s an experience my wife would rather forget. However, you might also remember I tried something different with my Nickel’s Worth by attempting to make it an interactive post similar to a blog hop, with me posting part of a scene and then letting everyone else take a crack at finishing it — then sending me the link.

As of this morning I remain linkless.

And let me point out my being linkless has absolutely nothing to do with the other thing my wife asked me not to talk about. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Ebola virus may spread faster than Brad-Angelina sex tape

image To avoid creating widespread panic with that headline, let me begin by assuring everyone there’s NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! You did not somehow miss a Brad and Angelina sex tape that was leaked onto the Internet. However, before giving a huge sigh of relief, there’s still that whole Ebola thing going on in Texas which, as I mentioned yesterday after finding a Ronald McDonald filtration mask wedged between my Sausage McMuffin and hash brown, prompted Long Awkward Pause to fly me to Dallas for a special report on the Ebola virus threat. For those who were following this story yesterday, you’ll be happy to know I ditched the monkey. Somewhere over New Mexico I think.

For the full report, join me at LAP by CLICKING HERE

Subtle signs the Ebola virus is spreading

As a journalist, I’m trained to recognize even the most subtle signs of trouble:

A reluctant glance.
A misspoken word.
A filtration mask in my McDonald’s food sack.

Do they still hand these out after 10:30 a.m.?

Do they still hand these out after 10:30 a.m.?

Aside from the mask being rendered useless by grease after being wedged between my Sausage McMuffin and hash brown, it also made me wonder if the American public isn’t being told the truth about the potential threat of Ebola spreading outside of Texas. Possibly even into parts of Canada. But not Mexico, where the drinking water has made residents immune to everything but tequila worms. Because of this, I have boarded a plane for Dallas to provide a special report tomorrow at Long Awkward Pause — which provided me with this Ebola detection system: Continue reading

Want a space house? It’s hard to make a down payment in zero gravity

image With mankind’s orbiting studio apartment the International Space Station offering an extra room, and spaceflight becoming more available to the general public, let’s face it; the Re/Max hot air balloon will be replaced by a space shuttle before we know it.

For sale: One-bedroom module. Quiet setting on outskirts of gravity belt. Comes with docking port. Pressurized for maximum comfort. Solor-powered utilities. Includes hot plate. Only two days from Earth. $1 billion obo.

As exciting as the prospect of living in space is, we should temper our enthusiasm with a level of caution. Just like buying a fixer-upper in the Ozark Mountains through someone on the Internet, purchasing a residence 230 miles above the earth can be risky.

During a real estate symposium held last week in Washington D.C., agents stressed that there are a lot of things to consider when looking for a little spot in the solar system to call your own. Consumer activist Ralph Nader further emphasized that notion in his newly released consumer handbook, Don’t Get Hosed By Your Space House. Continue reading

Daily Life facts worth a Long Awkward Pause

As with each Saturday, I’ve made the long drive from my home in Oregon to the office of Long Awkward Pause at an undisclosed location. In fact, they won’t even tell ME where it’s at, which means I’ll keep driving until I eventually become desperate enough to ask a gas station attendant once I reach Omaha, Neb. In the meantime — and before I run out of gas — here’s this week’s Saturday Six!

1. The Toothpaste Conundrum

 
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BrainRants: Sooo… stop brushing.  Problem solved.  You also stop wasting money on buying dinners and drinks in the distant hope of getting lucky.

Omawarisan – Pretty similar to my gas tank. 100 miles from the first 1/4 tank. 100 miles from the second 1/4. 100 miles from the last 1/2.

Ned: That’s because each of my kids immediately squeezes the tube in the middle as hard as they can the moment they open it, then move on to another tube like locust. I’m the only one using the last 10 percent for the next four months.

(To brush up on more Daily Life Facts, join me over at Long Awkward Pause by taking This Exit…)

This week’s writing advice would’ve gotten me punched by Eddie Rabbitt

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I take the collective wisdom gained from 15 years as a newspaper columnist and pass it on to you, much like the porcelain cat you will be receiving from aunt Gertrude’s will; in both cases, try to accept the bequeathing graciously even though everyone else got one of her Ferraris.

My NWOW is a weekly feature Car & Driver magazine has called “Writing tips that hit on all literary cylinders, at least for a lawn mower…” and what Modern Art Monthly touted as “Unequivocally the porcelain cat of writing tips…”

But enough accolades!

This week’s NWOW is an experiment of sorts because it’s interactive. And not just because there’s a good chance I could’ve gotten 1) Sued by Eddie Rabbitt, 2) Hit in the face with a guitar by Eddie Rabbitt, 3) Attacked in the parking lot after work by a disgruntled rabbit named Eddie or 4) All of the above. Even though Eddie Rabbitt died in 1998, I promise all of this will make sense in a moment. At least in the context of this blog and my life in general. Continue reading