North Koreans issue latest threat!


imageEmboldened by their success thwarting the release of Sony Pictures’ controversial comedy The Interview, North Korean hackers issued another threat just moments ago warning of an attack “should anyone ever play a Justin Bieber song again. Ever. Anywhere.”

In an unprecidented move, world leaders from 120 countries immediately met and unanimously agreed to sign a pact keeping the digital airwaves “in all its forms, including our kids’ iPods and Smartphones” free of Justin Bieber music.

“It’s just not worth the risk,” said one world leader. “Gee, I sure hope they don’t make a threat about the new season of ‘American Idol’ or another ‘Hangover’ movie.” Continue reading

Learn to distill story ideas like a moonshiner

Moonshine books copy Ok, so let’s suppose you’ve read every weekly Nickel’s Worth On Writing I’ve posted here during the last two years. And let’s also suppose you aren’t my mother. That means you understand the importance of developing a voice, know the tools you need to establish that voice, are prepared to send your work to potential publishers, have established a writing routine and are now sitting at the keyboard ready to write!


…um, but about what?

As a writer, recognizing and developing story ideas is your bread and butter. Or biscuits and gravy, depending on your proximity to the Mason-Dixon line. The point is, whether you are a romance novelist, sci-fi short story writer or weekly columnist, generating ideas — and recognizing the difference between good ones and not-so-good ones (There are no bad ideas in my opinion, and I’ll explain that in a bit) — is the most important skill you must develop. Continue reading

Just a random moment of parental pride

As my wife and I attended our youngest daughter’s final holiday choir concert as a middle schooler, we listened as three different soloists sang “Let It Go.”

Our daughter wasn’t one of them.

It was quite possibly our proudest moment as parents.

This is as close to "Frozen" as I like to get.

This is as close to “Frozen” as I like to get.

It’s official now: I have a poster and everything

image I stopped in at Fred Meyer and found these greeting me at each entrance. How do I know there is one in each lobby? Because after seeing one in the north side I ran as fast as I could casually strolled to the other entrance and pretended I needed a sanitary wipe for the basket I didn’t actually have.

Admittedly, it was pretty neat seeing the posters in place for Saturday’s book-signing fundraiser. Not to mention how clean my hands were after wiping them repeatedly while standing next to the poster waiting to be recognized — which didn’t take long.

“Hey, you’re that GUY!”
“Who, me? Well…”
“Yeah, I was your trash collector the morning after that big ice storm.”
“I’m not sure I remember…”
“You ran out in your underwear and slipped on the curb.”
“I don’t remember that”
“You landed headfirst in the recycle bin.”
“I think you have me confused with someone else.”
“Isn’t that you on the poster?”
“My hands are clean. I have to leave now.”

Can’t wait for Saturday…

And here’s that time I was stalked by Santa

Apparently, he also sees you when your shopping.

Apparently, he also sees you when you’re shopping.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter (probably against your better judgement) then you may have seen this photo taken a few days ago by a security camera at Fred Meyer. Many of you have asked what the story is behind this bizarre image, which some have compared to the famous 1967 footage of Bigfoot walking through the woods (presumably just looking for a quiet place to take a poo…)


In this case, however, Long Awkward Pause assigned me to get a photo of Santa for the site because, as Chris De Voss put it, “Santa can fill a lot of blank space we’d otherwise have fill with one of your posts.” Ignoring what was an obvious slam about… Yeah, Santa’s weight problem… I accepted the assignment and headed over to our local Freddy’s. When I arrived and began looking for a parking space, it was clear word of Santa’s arrival had already sent some people into a frenzy, causing some to simply abandon their vehicles in order to see him first… (Santa is watching, so join me for the rest at Long Awkward Pause!)

Still looking for the perfect gift? This probably won’t help

image When it comes to buying a gift for that special someone this holiday season, nothing says I love you like pepper spray. At least, that’s according to the Bureau of Shopping Statistics, which says that personal protection devices are big sellers during the holiday season.

This fact is supported by ex-NRA spokesman Charleton Heston, who once said, and I quote: “Get your paws off me you dirty, stinking ape!”

What this means, of course, is that I’ve had too much coffee, and therefore should be the last person in possession of any type of weapon. It also means that the threat of apes uniting to take over the world using pepper spray is very real — which makes Christmas the perfect time to arm your loved ones with a personal protection device capable of stopping your average primate.

If there are any English students reading this, that last paragraph was called a “segue,” which is a tool that writers often use when they:

a) Lose their point
b) Lose their mind
c) Stay up late watching Planet of the Apes. Continue reading

Biggest measure of success as a writer? When you can use it to help others

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I take the cumulative wisdom gained through 16 years as a columnist and, just like the unexpected arrival of a holiday fruitcake, share it with as many people as possible. Including by force if necessary.

It’s a writing feature the National Society of Fruitcake Lovers has called, “…writing tips that will stick in your teeth…”

And what Publishers’ Digest has heralded as, “…insights from a writer who has been endorsed by fruitcake lovers. We think that says it all…”

But enough accolades!

This week’s NWOW is going to be different than any I’ve done before. That’s because it’s stems from an idea I got from a reader named Sandy Wagoner. For those of you who remember my last big idea, the fact that this one came from someone else is already a step in the right direction. Continue reading

… This Just In …



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

Each newsroom has a distinctive aroma. Ours is a combination of perspiration, diet soda and the occasional waft of cigarette smoke carried in by our editor after she returns from “following up on a lead.” That changed today, thanks to a package that arrived addressed to me. To be honest, ever since receiving dozens of unsolicited fruitcakes (the loaf) in the mail and through my car windows after writing about FDAD (Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder) a few years ago, I am suspicious of any package that arrives for me that doesn’t come from Continue reading

Before you buy that Christmas gift, ask Mr. Knowitall

image [Note: If your name is Diana Dupree, do NOT read this!]

Since the introduction of Mr. Knowitall, who is our resident historian, economist, food critic, movie reviewer, foreign affairs consultant, science correspondent, consumer products expert and vending machine repairman (not necessarily in that order), many of you have written in seeking advice about holiday gift-giving.

Due to the enormous volume of email we received, they will be answered through a lottery-style process — which means that, until he wins the lottery, Mr. Knowitall will continue to answer your questions.

So let us begin. Continue reading

Because who doesn’t sleep better on a pillow of bacon?

image Being a journalist, I am often privy to world-shaking news of scientific or technological breakthroughs hours before members of the general public (who aren’t on Facebook).

The glow-in-the-dark toilet seat, shoes with their own umbrellas attached, eatable bread gloves… yeah, I heard it hear first.

However, this morning I received an email about a fusion of science and technology that could help millions of people rest a little easier each night; at least until they’re awakened by their own drool:

Bacon-scented pillowcases.

You read it right. Thanks to a couple of guys named Justin and Dave, we can now climb into bed and lay our heads upon a pillowy-soft pile of hickory-smoked bacon — except without all the grease stains. As they told me, “The future of sleep is here, and it smells like cured pork.” Continue reading