Finding a publisher: It’s a lot like trick-or-treating

image Welcome to a special Halloween Edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! What makes this week’s NWOW special? In addition to offering writing tips gained from my 15 years as a columnist, I am in Maine this morning dressed as “Pennywise” and waiting in the bushes outside the home of Stephen King!

Why?

Because what better way to kick off a special Halloween NWOW than by scaring The Master of Horror® himself! I’ve been working all week on my scary clown voice and borrowed a costume from my neighbor, who, as I discovered, has a whole closet full of costumes. (I didn’t ask why.)

Shhhhh! Here he comes!

“HE-LLOOOO STEVIEEEEE!!… Ummmm, Mr. King?… Sir? oh crap…” Continue reading

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Join me and some other guys for a rant — Sisterwives style

image It isn’t often I’m asked to talk about what bugs me. In fact, the last time someone asked me that question it cost me $150 an hour for them to listen. And I’m pretty sure I heard snoring, although I was told it was not, but was in fact my own repressed anger toward espresso machines manifesting itself.

Whatever.

So when the talented ladies at The Sisterwives said I could tell them what bugs me for free, I immediately launched into a long-winded rant covering everything from incontinence commercials while I’m eating, to people who use an entire parking space for their tiny Smart cars when they could easily park them in a SHOPPING CART CORRAL! After listing to me spew on for a while, Beth at The Sisterwives politely said, “This isn’t actually a therapy session, so I’ll need you to write that down please.” 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…]

Over the last 15 years, our newsroom has faced many moments of crisis which, if not for the level-headed quick thinking I’ve developed as a journalist, could’ve lead to disaster. Or at the very least a sprained finger, such as yesterday, when I defused an escalating “situation” by dividing the last donut into five equal pieces. This morning brought a new crisis on a scale we have never faced before; a “situation” that could have a ripple effect on our newsroom for years to come; an unforeseen change that none of us was prepared for. Continue reading

No pumpkin-carving experience is complete without a near-fatal knife wound

imageCarving a jack-o-lantern used to require little more than a pumpkin, an oversized kitchen knife, and a tourniquet. It was a simple matter of plunging a 10-inch French knife into the gourd of your choice and creating a triangle-eyed, square-toothed masterpiece of horror.

In those days, the trickiest thing about making your jack-o-lantern was deciding on how to light the candle.

Option one: Light candle, then attempt to lower it into the pumpkin without catching your sleeve on fire.
Option two: Put the candle inside the pumpkin first. Then attempt to light it without catching your sleeve on fire.
Option three: Accept the inevitable and just light yourself on fire, then go find a candle.

After a quick trip to the emergency room for stitches and some light skin grafting, you could return home and set your jack-o-lantern on the porch, where it would remain until gravity and molecular breakdown eventually caused it to collapse in on itself like the birth of a new star — appropriately enough, usually around Christmas time. Continue reading

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

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

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

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