There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
Kenn Blanchard, long time 2A activist, is hanging up his spurs after almost three decades of fighting the good fight. I wish him well in whatever he pursues next.
Kenn was one of the first podcasts I listened to. Not one of the first gun podcasts, one of the first podcasts period. His was also the first where I wrote the host. Then came him talking about zombies invading his Labor Day barbecue. That began the ball rolling to Zombie Strike and almost a decade of collaboration. First zombies, and then werewolves.
Kenn was the first time I got to meet one of the podcasters. He met me for cigars and talking more than once, and those are some good memories.
We’ve drifted in the last few years. My fault – as my life has taken some dramatic turns.
Thank you Kenn. For all of your hard work. For encouraging a geek in Tampa to write for you. For being my friend.
The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He’s entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been waited, you’re in violation.
I know I put the text of my Ice Breaker Speech a bit ago, but I finally got around to getting the video set up.
This is the educational moment I gave to our Toastmasters club last night.
Ba Weep Granna Weep Nini Bon. Klatuu Verada Niktuu May the Force be with you. Ah, that one you understand. Now, we’re cooking with fuel oil. I know some of you are thinking of course I understood the last one, it was English. If you spoke geek, you would recognize the references. I speak fluent geek with emphasis on the Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, 80s cartoons, and anime sub-dialects. I’m not telling you this to brag about my knowledge of obscure media, but to reinforce the concept of knowing your audience. If we are delivering a speech on a technical subject, we would reduce the jargon for people unfamiliar with the subject, but that jargon would have special meaning when talking to a room of subject matter experts. If we are going to us acronyms, it’s a good idea to make sure that the acronyms don’t have another common usage for your audience. Such as when your national program office shares the same acronym as the inpatient mental health ward. Ask me.how I know. Another is watching what idioms and references we use using. Otherwise you’re standing up here wondering why people aren’t responding when you’re giving them the universal greeting from Transformers. Live long and prosper.
I’m doing this on an annual basis. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go. One thing I noted from last year were reader comments about this host or that host supporting positions the readers disliked (particularly when the host was anti-gun). I’m trying to incorporate diverse voices in my podcast consumption, both to understand those I normally oppose and find out when my side is wrong.
I list the podcasts into some broad groups, with any annotations about frequency I listen to them or general impressions. I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. The app deletes podcasts I’ve listened to, plus it has a smart speed feature which will speed up if it hears dead air. Generally, I listen to my podcasts at 2X speed. I use three playlists:
- Daily – This is a playlist of what I want to listen to during my commutes, work, and other times. I used to have certain podcasts for certain days/times, but the volume and rate I go through them makes that difficult. Some are “promotable”, which means they go to the top. The rest are filler, and I’ll get to them when I can.
- Writing – I use this as a warm-up for when I’m going to write as well as general knowledge to improve my writing
- History – Podcasts on History.
My podcasts as of March 2019:
Friendly Fire – Three guys watching and critiquing war films. Sometimes they get a bit too much into the art of film, or into the wokeness world, but I generally end up enjoying what they bring to the film. It’s a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist.
The Incomparable Game Show – Rotating panels playing rotating series of obstensibly board games. Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving. It’s a filler podcast on my Daily playlist.
Penn’s Sunday School – Penn prognosticating on the world with a few of his friends and/or guests. It’s a promotable podcast on my Daily Playlist.
Unjustly Maligned – This one is currently ended (the host hints he’d like to do more), but I’d recommend going through the back of episodes.
Economics / Libertarian Theory / Free Speech
The Bob Murphy Show – Bob Murphy discusses different concepts with in Austrian economics. Some of it is a little too far off mainstream for me, but it’s still intellectually interesting.
Cato Events Podcast – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist. I will delete if the topic doesn’t interest me, as these can be pretty long.
Econtalk – Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot. This is a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist.
Free Thoughts – Interview podcast on libertarian issues and theories. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
GAO Podcast – GAO discussing some of their reviews they’ve done on federal agencies. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist
Make No Law – Ken White delves into the case law around the First Amendment and free speech. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
The Pursuit – Not sure if this was just a limited series or if there will be a second season, but a great overview of government seizures of private property. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Short Circuit – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is arguing. I put it under libertarian theory rather than politics because it discusses legal libertarian arguments rather than issues of the day. This is a filler on my Daily playlist.
So To Speak – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. The guests and legal theories put this more into theory although it sometimes delves into the issues of the day. This is a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist.
Words & Numbers – Two economists from the Foundation For Economic Education discuss different aspects of economics from a libertarian perspective. Sometimes dipping into issues of the day. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
Guns & RKBA
Assorted Calibers Podcast – The spiritual successor to the Gun Blog Variety Cast. Weer’d Beard and Erin Pallette are the real reason I listen to this, but the other segments are generally pretty good. This is a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Black Man With A Gun Podcast – Kenn’s podcast was one of the first I started listening to, and then I wrote Zombie Strike for him. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
Civilian Carry Radio – I just subscribed to this one and haven’t made up my mind about it. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist
Down Range Radio – Right now, this is promotable, but it may get downgraded to filler. Some of Bane’s nonsense and glad standing is getting on my nerves. On my Daily playlist.
Firearms Nation – Interview podcast with leading competition shooters and others to discuss both competition and practical shooting techniques and strategies. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
Geeks Gadgets and Guns – A couple of geeks discussing guns and other geeky stuff. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
Gun and Gear Review – Another new (to me) podcast I’m evaluating. Currently, it’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
The Gun Nation – This one I’m pretty sure is defunct, but I’m keeping it on the list just in case it isn’t. It’s promotable on my Daily playlist on if it drops.
Handgun Radio – This one I’ve been enjoying. Especially the in-depth histories of different firearms companies. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Handgun World – This one is filler on my Daily playlist. Bob has good information, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil.
Polite Society Podcast – Good information, but often too long if I have a backlog. This one is filler on my Daily playlist.
Pro-Arms Podcast – This one hasn’t been updated since 2017, but I recommend any serious shooter (new or old) go through the back episodes. If it ever updates again, it’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Riding Shotgun With Charley – Interesting, but sometimes hard to follow the conversation due to road noise. It’s currently filler on my Daily playlist
Rifleman Roundtable – Not sure if this one is defunct, but it hasn’t updated in a while. Hosts from other gun podcasts discuss the gun issues of the day. It’s filler on my Daily playlist
Safety Solutions Academy– This one hasn’t updated in a while, but I still think everyone should go through the back episodes, Real good information. This is also one I recommend to new shooters. Paul is one of those trainers I’d like to learn from if I could scrape together the time and money. This one is promotable on my Daily playlist.
The Second Is For Everyone (2A4E) Podcast – Tony Simon’s been doing great work up in New Jersey spreading gun culture. His podcast with his friend Sean often has a different take than most gun podcasts.
Self-Defense Gun Stories – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This is another I recommend to new shooters and those who are thinking about using a gun for self-defense. This one is a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Skip’s Tactical Solutions Podcast – Avery’s a new voice in the gun podcast world, and I find some of her insights fascinating. It doesn’t hurt that she’s local. I may end up taking a class from her if I can scrape up the cash/time. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
This Week In Guns – It’s the week in gun issues. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Trigger Words – Just subscribed to this one and haven’t made up my mind. It’s filler on my Daily playlist
Clear and Present Danger -A History of Free Speech – This is a filler podcast on my “Daily” playlist. It’s okay from a history perspective, and I might move it over to that playlist and refresh all of the episodes.
Hardcore History – Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various historical events is spellbinding. This is promotable on my History playlist on the infrequent occasions new podcasts show up.
Hardcore History: Addendum – A companion to the Hardcore History podcast where Dan Carlin does segments outside his normal narrative style. This one is promotable on my History Podcast.
The History of Byzantium – This is a sequel to the History of Rome podcast and the host tries to keep the same style. I would highly recommend listening to the History of Rome before jumping into this one. It’s filler on my History playlist.
A History of Europe, Key Battles – Haven’t actually listened to this one yet, but I’m keeping the first episode on my History playlist until I work through the backlog of History of Byzantium and Revolutions
The History of Rome – This is a great overview of Rome from its founding until the fall of the Western Empire. It’s a finished series. I’ve listened to all the episodes, but I’m keeping it on the list as a recommendation for others.
History On Fire – This one came highly recommended, and I have the first episode downloaded. I’m waiting to get through my backlog on my History playlist before getting into it.
Omnibus! With Ken Jennings and John Roderick – The conceit of the show is the hosts are leading an audio time capsule of odd bits of history for some far-future civilization. The choices are interesting bits of historical trivia. It’s filler on my History playlist.
Revolutions – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution. This is filler on my History playlist.
Slate Presents – The first season was a history of Ruby Ridge. It’s Slate, so it came at it from a different perspective. It’s filler on my History playlist.
Slow Burn – The first season dealt with Watergate and the second with Bill Clinton’s impeachment. I’m fairly certain the producers were hoping the third season would be the Trump impeachment. Still, it’s a compelling podcast. It’s filler on my History playlist
War Stories – Good military history podcast. It’s in filler on my History playlist.
Cato Daily Podcast – A good quick bit in various topics from a libertarian viewpoint. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist.
Contra Krugman – Bob Murphy and Tom Woods tear apart a Paul Krugman column using Austrian economics. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
The Economist – I listen to the Economist, because it provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds. This is a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist.
The Editors – Editors from National Review discussing the issues of the day. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
The Federalist Radio Hour – Editors of the Federalist website interviews guests about the issues of the day. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
The Femsplainers – Christina Hoff Summers and her sidekicks discuss free speech and free thoughts issues of the day. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
The Fifth Column – This is a really good roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
The Long Game – Long interview form podcast with different former and current politicians. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
LRC Presents: All the President’s Lawyers – I picked this one up because Ken White is one of the hosts. It’s a different perspective on Trump’s legal issues than most of my normal feeds. I’m impressed with the other host, I may pick up the parent podcast “Left, Right, and Center.” It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Charles Cooke. That’s why I listen to this podcast. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Neal Boortz Daily Commentaries – I loved listening to Boortz when he was on syndicated radio, and now I get two minutes of him. It’s interesting to see how I’ve diverged from him over the years. It’s promotable on my Daily playlist.
Ordered Liberty – This is a National Review podcast that started mainly discussing liberty from a traditional conservative side, but it’s meandered into daily politics. A bit heavier on the freedom of religion and abortion than I’d like, but understandable from the hosts’ perspective.
The One With Greg Gutfield – Greg does interviews in the way only Greg can do. Currently promotable on my Daily playlist.
Part of the Problem – Rabid anti war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Particularly when he beers over to the conspiracy theories. Promotable on my Daily playlist.
Popular Front – A look into smaller conflicts going on or unusual aspects of modern warfare. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
Power Problems – A Cato podcast focusing on foreign affairs. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist
Reason Podcast – Reason’s weekly podcast with their editors is promotable on my Daily playlist. The others are filler. Some good content and some that just don’t interest me. The latter might get deleted if the subject doesn’t sound interesting.
The Rubin Report – Long form interview with an eye to free speech and social justice zealotry issues. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Something’s Off With Andrew Heaton – Take the Daily Show, except with a libertarian bent. Funny and thought provoking. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Squirrel Report – Three former bloggers talking over the issues of the day. Amusing with gusts of hilarity. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
The Tom Woods Show – I found this one when Tom interviewed Larry Corriea, and I like his take on many issues. It’s a filler on my Daily podcast.
Unregistered with Thaddeus Russell – Thaddeus interviews a varied list of guests. Some were very interesting, some less so. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
War College – This is a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist. An interesting look at politics and military issues.
Wrongspeak – Another one devoted to the issues of free speech and SJWs. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Science and Skepticism
The Prism Podcast – A dentist and a pediatrician interview guests and discuss skeptical topics. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist
Skeptics Guide to The Universe – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism. It’s a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist.
Science Salon – Michael Shermer interviews scientists, scholars, and other intellectuals on a variety of topics. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist
Skeptoid – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It’s a filler on my Daily playlist.
Stories / Writing
This Is War – The host relates a combat veteran’s story interspersed with the veteran providing his/her own insights. This is the brutal personal side of combat and its effects on a person – both physical and emotional. It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.
Writing Excuses – If you are a fiction writer, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s currently the only one on my Writing playlist.
Clockwise – This is a promotable podcast on my Daily playlist. I like the format and it helps keep me up to date on tech issues and trends.
Daily Tech Headlines – Good summary of big tech stories. It’s promotable on my Daily playlist.
I came across a tweet from Hanne Blank (@hanneblank) on Facebook – because we must cross the streams – that kicked over my giggle box. Then, it made sense. So, adding this to my writing lexicon.
Fucktangular (Adj.) – Describing a situation that was complicated and messy in multiple unpleasant and difficult ways
Watching Game of Thrones is seeing one fucktangular situation after another.
Last week, I gave my Ice Breaker Speech at Toastmasters. It went well enough that I won Best Speaker for the night and garnered a lot of praise and good feedback. So, I thought I would at least share the text:
I’m Just A Writer
Fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests. Before I tell you about me, I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine – Mark. If you saw him on the street, you wouldn’t even notice him. Average height, average build, average face, average brown hair. Behind that plain facade, however, he is a most unusual person. Most of the people who know him say he’s brash and obnoxious. He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. You might as well if you were ripped away from one family to a new new family that calls you an abomination. This pushes Mark to be the best there is at what he does. What does he do? He’s an assassin. And he’s a werewolf. No, Mark is not a flesh and blood person, but he’s still very real to me. As real as everyone here. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, I’m just a writer.
If you ask me what I do, I’ll say “I’m a data analyst.” I love my day job. It’s the perfect mix of routine and complex tasks. Plus, it pays the bills. On the other hand, if you ask me what I am, I’ll tell you – I’m a writer. A storyteller. A spinner of tales. I create fantastic worlds inhabited by amazing people. I tell stories of adventure, action, drama, war, and occasionally romance. Some of my stories are pulpy, some are more grounded in realism, but all are designed to do one thing – entertain. Even if the only person I’m entertaining is myself.
I will say my writing has, shall we say, enhanced some quirks. For example, you shouldn’t worry if you hear me talking to myself. Often, I’m just running dialogue. How else will I know if it sounds natural if I don’t hear the words? I can live with the occasional odd look if my characters sound right. After all, I’m not really hearing voices, I’m just a writer.
My other interests complement and feed my writing. Let’s take history for example. Dan Carlin, often comments on his Hardcore History podcast that if you want to see how humans will react to any situation, look at history. The width and breadth of human civilizations are a fertile ground for any writer looking for inspiration. Want to have an idea of how people will act if aliens invaded? Look at what happened when to the Chinese and Muslim empires when the Mongols burst from the steppe. My interest in armed combat help me frame and write action scenes that are somewhat realistic, even if the setting is fantastic. Then there’s the soundtrack for writing. Some of it’s modern stuff – power metal, rock, and techno, some that date back centuries. So, if you hear me singing something in an archaic or unusual language, I’m not channeling spirits, I’m just a writer.
Can you imagine what’s the first question people ask when I tell them I’m a writer? “What have you published?” Patrick Rothfuss, who actually is a successful writer, said that writing is one of the only hobbies where you’re considered a failure unless you’re a professional. I’ll admit to some fear of rejection, and also of the marketing slog to get my works out there. For now, I’m content to pluck away at my keyboard, working hard to translate the pictures in my head to words on the screen. Sometimes that doesn’t go as smoothly as I’d like. Don’t worry though, it’s a frustration I’ve learned to live with. After all, I’m a writer.
If you are serious, and you want to make a living as an author, then you need to hustle. Period. If you can’t make that quality, then you need to concentrate on your craft and practice more.
One other thing, quality comes with practice. If you are prolific, then you become a better writer because you are writing. The more you do anything the better at it you will become. So in a way, quantity does add to quality.
This clip is a few years old, but one of the best renditions of Marc Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.”
This is why I hate reading Shakespeare’s plays, but I do love watching them.