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The Jittery Goat; Nothing Remarkable Happens Here, Just An Easy Place To Visit

Daily Prompt: As Seen on TV

Write a script for a late-night infomercial — where the product is your blog. How do you market yourself? What qualities do you embody that other “products” don’t? What are the benefits of reading your blog?

Some things just don’t ring with you. Infomercials is one of them.

If I was to do an infomercial likely it would be without a script. I’d start telling a story.

“Welcome to the Jittery Goat. I’m Kenton Lewis, the guy to blame.

Recently I was reading the obits in my hometown newspaper. Two people from my childhood died. One of them I’m blogging about in two weeks, but I’d like to just tell you about the other one right now.

His name was Denny. He was a tough guy in my old neighborhood. Nobody messed with him. He was four years older than me and he bullied me around every time he got a chance.

When walking to the park I took the long way just to avoid walking by his house.

One day I was having a fun day at the park. It was in the summer and the city recreation department sponsored summer programs supervised by college students. It kept us juvenile delinquents from being delinquent and gave college kids a summer job and college money.

There was a small building in the park where all the athletic equipment was kept. I went inside to get something, it was likely bases for a baseball game. I was alone. Denny came inside right after me. He had a cousin with him who was about four years younger than me. And following them was Denny’s gang of fearful admirers.

Denny backed me into a corner and told his little cousin to punch me. I knew what Denny’s ploy was; if I struck his little cousin in defense of myself that would justify him beating me.

The little cousin hit me in the stomach.

I smiled. “You hit about as hard as Denny.”

Everyone laughed. Denny shoved me against the wall, sneered, and left me alone.

The worst thing you can do to a bully is humiliate him in front of his friends.

Over the years I saw Denny a few times. He pretended to never quite remember me. But from that day in the park he belonged to me. He was afraid that somehow I might remember that event and perhaps recall it, especially if others were around.

He led a life of community service; a life long volunteer fireman, chief of the department, and served a term or so as mayor of his town.

From that day in the park I was never afraid of him. I always saw a loneliness in his eyes. I’m sad he died. I hope he didn’t die alone.

If you like my stories, buy one of my books featured on the sidebar. Click on them and it will take you to Amazon. The books have some good stuff in them.

The Jittery Goat is a place to spend a few minutes, hear a story, buy a book for yourself or friend, move on, and come back.”

That’s an example of how I’d do an infomercial. Not exactly ripping stuff, but the kind of stuff that makes people think about others and their stories too.

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Daily Prompts; Aren’t Perfect, That’s The Blogger’s Job

Daily Prompt: A Little Sneaky

Are writing prompts a useful exercise, or do you find them to be too limiting and/or hokey?

Thanks for asking.

From time to time I might echo a compliant because the prompt, in my view, is sophomoric or doesn’t ring with me, but that’s all a part of the challenge.

From my perspective, which is often very narrow, I don’t care much for the ones that make attempts to address one’s own grandiosity. The most recent that comes to mind is the one about making a movie of your life. That might be right down some blogger’s alley, but I prefer one’s that are more subtle to revealing one’s ego.

A prompt is a prompt, though. We can either play along or go home. I am happy to have something to write about and keep my mind busy when it goes blank. The prompts I don’t like makes me search for the hidden and not so obvious. That’s what I like anyway.

Writers are always simplifying what is complicated and complicating what is simple. It is the writer’s or blogger’s job to take the sow’s ear and make it into a purse.

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Do “Likes” And “Follows” Define Success?

facebook_like_button_big1[1]488[1]Daily Prompt: Secret of Success

What would it take for you to consider yourself a “successful blogger”? Is that something you strive for?

Personally that question cannot be answered until I put the period on my last sentence.

A friend was working his last day before retirement. In the factory I worked in the last day was spent walking around and saying goodbyes.

The day before I grabbed the last part he machined and had it etched with the date and the words, “Last part.”

I handed it to him and said,” This is the part you’ve been looking for since the first day you walked in here.”

He said, “Thanks and I hope it’s to specs. I wouldn‘t want my last part to be a bad one.”

Blogging is one thing, writing something quite different.

My goal was to write some stories that others would read and muse over. At first nobody read them and if they did seldom did I receive a comment. As time went by there have been more “follows” and more “likes.”

“Follows” and “likes” are not the barometers which I gauge my success. Any one can hit the “follow” button and hope that person will follow you. It is the same with the “like” button; anyone can quickly click on to your page a rush to the bottom of the post and click the “like” button.

That is not how I measure success in blogging although that is some indication; someone is at least taking the time to hit the “like“ or “follow“ button. Comments are helpful also. The total number of visits are helpful. Yet, those in themselves are not what measures success.

Back to the part I handed my friend upon retirement; That part will never be used for its original intended purpose, to find its way onto a driveshaft of a truck. It serves as a reminder of good workmanship, dedication, and loyal service. That one part will remind my friend of good times and good friends.

Success is most often measured by perseverance. My friend persevered for 30 years. He was a success.

The last part he machined was certainly better than the first one. In the quest to blog and improve in writing, the last post should be better than the first.

Success comes down to perseverance and improvement. And only I am the one that can hit the final “follow” and “like” button on that one.

Success is measured by time and improvement.

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Blogging Is Sharing Flowers

Child-Picking-Flowers[1]Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?

When the process of naming this blog rolled around in my mind one thing was certain, it was not going to sound like many others or as if my own personal thinking was something to be featured. Words like “musing,” “ramblings,“ or “thoughts” were quickly dismissed.

I write under the direct influence of strong black coffee. I never get the jitters, but it was from the visual of the first coffeeholic inspiration was lifted. Legend has it that a Bedouin goat herder observed one of his goats nibbling on a strange little berry and began to dance about. I could hardly call my blog the “Dancing Goat.” That goat was the first one to be recorded as having the coffee or caffeine shakes or jitters, thus Jittery Goat. In addition, it nearly sounded like “Literary Goat.” Perhaps I’ve stumble over a new name, “Jittery Literary Goat.”

I display an old typewriter as background for my masthead. My first typewriter was similar. When I write that’s where I mentally go. The typewriter is in a small weather-beaten house on the rugged coast of Maine. My writing room overlooks pounding waves that wash up words and stories to be caught by the shores of my mind.

A simple design has been chosen. At first all I wanted was a space for my stories. I thought it would be best to add a few things to the side bars so it looks like I got other things going on. It’s no more than keeping up with all you other creative web geniuses who make it tough on the rest of us.

I’m happy with what I see. The content has evolved. I’ve written some stupid stuff and some good stuff. I’ve read some interesting people who are really talented. I continue to learn more about writing and thinking.

WordPress has given a lot of us a place to settle, a place to unburden our souls and explore our dreams and talents. It has given a voice to many whoever thought about writing or any creative endeavor; at least a place to test the waters. It’s a noble thing to share something you hold dear. In some ways we’re not so different from the child we once were who found a flower and brought it in for our mother, thinking it was the most beautiful thing in the world – and it was. We are all still just sharing flowers.

I like stories and just look for a place to put them down.

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The State of Me is Better Than the State of You-Know-What

"M y fellow bloggers, things are okay. See you in a while. Thank you.  Whose ever last one out, turn off the lights."

“M y fellow bloggers, things are okay. See you in a while. Thank you. Whose ever last one out, turn off the lights.”

Daily Prompt: State of Your Year

Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post. 

The Daily Prompt started on February 1st. It has stimulated me to write more and with some sense of direction. It’s given me a target for which to aim.

I’ve tried various structures to my blog, mainly for myself. Folks could give two hoots and a holler for how I do things.

On Monday’s I post something about Boise State football. I enjoy looking for what is not obvious and exploring it. Sports allows for that. It is a challenge to find the important things and separate them from the mundane. Many sports writers invent what is important. I try to discover it.

Recently, on Wednesdays, a feature has been posted entitled He Said She Said; short dialogue meant to tell an entire story in as few words as possible. As a writer, this is really enjoyable. It’s like a cat toying with a mouse. You sit and play with a few lines of dialogue until it finally submits and dies.

Fridays I have been trying my hand at a satirical look at life and news in Boise. The problem with satire is that at times you can appear sarcastic. People may take offense and that is the furthest thing from my intent. Some ideas are tossed aside. It’s better to be thoughtful and sensitive than hurtful and funny.

Sense the first of the year my novel, Galapagos Man, has taken form and is now nearly complete. I’m near the end of the final edit. Here is something I just finished:

Alex felt the warmth of sun and heard the cactus wrens chirp and watched them flutter and swoop for insects. He studied the map. Once he crossed a river just ahead of him there was about a mile and half of curved road and then about ten miles of straight road.

He stood the motorcycle and drove a short distance and waded across a calf-high water. He putted slowly along the dusty road leading from the river. He looked ahead to a dusty desolate road. He had at least one hundred and eighty miles to go. It would be like taking a ride in a hot grill. It reminded him of westerns where the cowboy trudges a hundred mile desert that no one has ever accomplished, along the way were bones of cattle and human failure. He looked to the rear and the river he just forded. A car slowed to cross. It was a green Chevy Malibu.

“They are motivated,” Alex said and gave the motorcycle gas and fishtailed away. “How did they find me?” he mumbled. “Where is a good bazooka when you need one?”

All and all so far so good .

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What Makes A Good Blog Post – Or Not?

Daily Prompt: The Stat Connection

Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.

It’s a secret. It’s revealed in my blog posts. Let’s get started.

Here are my five top posts:

1. How to Make Great S O S

2. It Wasn’t The Cell Phone, It Was Me (Short fiction)

3. You Should Fear People With COEXIST Bumper Stickers

4. Mom Always Said, “Kal Kan Dog Food; It’s Not Just For Dogs.” (Part 1)

5. Detroit, Take Good Care Of Kellen Moore And He’ll Take Good Care of Detroit

They are variegated, they are not about the same subject, yet they have a common thread and have nothing to do with the subject. It is how the subject is treated.

The top post and the fourth amuse me. It seems as if every day someone clicks these posts. And I wonder why? Likely somebody is looking for a recipe of S O S. In the past I’ve posted a few recipes and they always seem to attract. I suppose the idea of eating Kal Kan dog food is too intriguing not to read about.

My number 2 post was featured on Freshly Pressed, but to get there it had to be relevant in some way. The piece addressed the annoyance of cell phones and how they’ve taken priority over face to face interaction.

Number three was just from an observation meant to be humorous. Only one person commented and was quite upset. I replied. My assertion still stands; there are some COEXIST people I fear – COEXIST or else!

The fifth most visited post was linked from a Detroit sports article so many Detroit Lions’ fans as well as old Kellen Moore Boise State fans visited that post. Those in Detroit were incensed that I’d remotely even suggest anyone could replace Matt Stafford.

For the most part the common thread, to me anyway, is each of these top five hit a button. They presented a flip side to a conventional idea; S O S can be made great, a conflict between “me” and “the cell phone,” COEXIST people are supposed to be peace-loving and tolerant, you’re not supposed the eat dog food, and who would dare say anything bad about my favorite player.

There’s nothing new here, (Can you imagine how much further you would have read if this were my first phrase?) but just reinforces what we already know, conflict and if possible tension makes for good reading. Challenge the conventional. Write from a slant not often explored. Find contrasts and exploit them.

Create the conflict and tension from the beginning with a good title or headline. When you write don’t explore it to the point of exhausting the reader. You don’t have to be a smarty-pants. Give the reader a chance to fill in some blanks or complete your points.

Bear in mind not everything that is written needs to be treated this way. Write what comes natural. If you can add the elements I’ve mentioned make certain it is natural and not forced. Don’t manufacture conflict and tension. It should already exist. It is your job as a writer to cleverly introduce it. That’s why writing is called an art.

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What Makes A Good Blog? – I Want Blood, Not Catsup

10256715-close-up-of-french-fries-and-ketchup-on-white-background[1]Daily Prompt: Great or Greatest?

What makes a blog great? What makes you follow a blog or “Like” a post?

Sports writer, Red Smith, once said, (or words to this effect) ’Writing is the easiest thing in the world to do, You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.’ Anyone who takes their writing serious knows what that mean;. you put yourself on the page.

I look for blood, as it were, on the page.

When my son was in his teens I was always playing jokes on him. One day he was in the bathroom with the door shut. I smeared catsup below my left eye. A knife was gripped in hand and held to my eye as if the knife had caused a bloody wound. (I don’t think things out so well, I know this is terribly bizarre and disturbing, but for some strange reason I thought it was clever and funny at the time.)

I knocked on the door. “Ahhhhhh,” I moaned as if in pain. “There’s been an accident.”

My son said with little hesitation, “I don’t know what you think you are trying to pull, Dad, but I can smell the catsup.”

The sight of blood can be faked with catsup, but it doesn’t pass the smell test. It is the same with writing. Some blogs may look like good writing, but doesn’t smell like it.

I don’t read blogs that try to regale me with words or stuff that is meant to fake me into thinking it’s blood. That said, I sometimes look for the person behind the regaling also.

Writing is, in some ways, trying to seek truth and reveal it on a page. It’s sometimes wrapped in a story, essay, or poem, but it’s a truth; it’s what you are trying to tell or show others. Truth is simple and straightforward.

If it’s blood I read, I hit “like”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               If it’s catsup I smell, I take a hike

Catsup goes great with fries.

More great blogger:

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