Filling the bucket of learning

This video popped across my feed yesterday, courtesy of Me-TV. Disco was at its height when I was growing up, and I remember hearing this song over the radio.  I like the visuals in this one better than the Night Fever one in the link.

I can’t sing.  At all.  I was so bad at rhythm that the Army tried to kick me out twice for my marching.  When we were marching off to war with the press watching, the acting first shirt put me at the end of the formation so I wouldn’t embarrass him.

So when I watch a video like the one above, it amazes me that one of these singers could replicate this song now.

Even as a writer, I wouldn’t be able to replicate something I wrote a year ago.  I could redraft the story, but it would come out different.  I would hope it would come out as something better.

Because I’m always learning something new.

I’ve been reading a book called The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy.  It’s part of the Personal MBA, which is reading a list of books to have the basics of business.  I’ve read Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! and I didn’t care much for the book.   Partially because it seems like his goal is to jam as much into the day as possible (a problem with a lot of time management books).  But also, I think, because he focused heavily on emotions to make the sale.

I’m an INTP on the Myers-Brigg scale.  Means I like logical and analytical.  Emotional appeals can work, but I’ll be a skeptic first.  If someone is trying to sell a workshop, I’ll scroll past all the “shouting” to find out the price first.

This book though…it had something in it that caught my attention.  It said that learning was like a bucket of water. You have to constantly fill up the bucket because it doesn’t stay full, or continue learning.

Little girl on beach filling up bucket with sand.

Which reminded me of a writer that I used to love.  She first came out with awesome book in the 1990s.   It was a series. The main character was different than any I’d seen before, and it was a woman character.  In an action role!  She had a team of interesting characters surrounding her.  I just took a workshop on Teams in Fiction, and it identified one of the reasons I really liked this series.

So ever time I went into B. Dalton’s, I checked the shelves for this writer to see if there was a new one out.  When I found one, I snatched it up, took it home and read it in a day, then reread it.  I would happily still be reading this writer today.

If something hadn’t changed.

The writer became a best seller and stopped filling her bucket.

It happened by about book five.  I just knew at the time that the books weren’t quite as good.  I still bought the books for a while, thinking they would get better.  But the other team members I liked disappeared. They were replaced with a collection of characters who filled space but weren’t a team.

So I stopped buying the books, since I could use the money for books I was enjoying and wanted to keep.  I still read the books, but I checked them out from the library.  I was always disappointed and finally decided they weren’t worth my time to read.

But I occasionally picked up one, hoping for that old magic.  In the last one, it looks like the writer must be having a decline of sales because she circled back around to the roots that started the series and tried to replicate it.

And failed.

She’s been writing for 20+ years and should have been able to turn out a much better book than that first one I read.  But her bucket was empty.  She’d stopped learning long ago, and no longer has those tools.

But learning means not just grabbing the next book and reading it, but finding resources that actually push the skills.  The bucket should always be overflowing.

I’m in the process of learning about subplots, and as from above, selling.  What are you learning today?

I’m in a new Story Bundle called Short Flights (of the Imagination). My story is from my GALCOM Universe series, called Watcher Ghost. But I wanted to share the image of all the stories in the bundle so you can pre-order it and get lots of great speculative fiction stories (like we really don’t have all that much to read :).

Short Flights (of the Imagination)

Dick Van Dyke Christmas Song

Dick Van Dyke has wonderful charm in this fun video.  I remember watching him in reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  It’s hard to believe he is 92.

Adventures Around The Web November 4-10, 2017

It was unnaturally warm in Philadelphia last week. For Veteran’s Day, we’re getting cold and blustery. Down into the 20s.  The fall colors are finally coming in, but largely pretty washed out.  Not the vibrant ones that are so pretty.

10 Ways Posture Affects Productivity (and How to Improve Both)

Writing can be pretty sedentary, so it’s important to not park in the chair for hours on end and never get up and move around.

From pom-poms to combat boots: Miller joined Army in high school

Ah ha!  A story about a woman Desert Storm veteran.  But scroll all the way to the bottom for a slideshow about more women veterans.


Got this one from the BookBay conference.  You can plug in another writer’s site and see what kind of traffic they’re getting.

Google Speech Recognition

Also from the conference, if you want to try dictating stories.  Being handy too if you wanted to give your hands a break.

Daylight Saving: The Movie Trailer

This is hilarious! Last year, I showed up at the farmer’s market an hour too early.  This year, I worried about missing my train (which showed up late).  From Piper Bayard.


Wonder Woman Featurette

As I write my GALCOM series, I look at it and go “Wow!  There’s a lot of women in the story.”  It just evolved that way, even though the skipper of the ship is a man.  One of the two I’m working on is Most Dangerous Game with a woman character (and a man character).  And I remember a male writer dissing me years ago because I was writing something like that then.

There’s power in people standing up for themselves and trying to do something, even if they don’t know what they’re doing.  Way too many books have the woman as the victim, and she doesn’t do much else except whimper, “Rescue me.”

And there’s Wonder Woman.  Look near the end of this featurette where the women are defending the island.  Just awesome.  Can’t wait to see it.

Hopefully I can get a seat the theater.

Memorial Day Parade

I was back in the Memorial Day Parade again.  You can see the Desert Storm veterans at about 1:44.  I didn’t march this time … my foot was not up to the long walk.  I’m in the jeep immediately following the marchers.

Inside the cockpit of the Blue Angels

My father sent this to me.  It’s a camera inside the cockpit of one of the Blue Angels.  Some stunning footage!

Kirk Vs. Picard vs Janeaway

This video has celebrities identifying their favorite captains.  Despite the number of series, it was primarily between Kirk and Picard, which an occasional Janewaway.

I like both Kirk and Picard, but for different reasons.  Kirk fits the original series, and is very much of the cowboy era from when the show spawned.  Picard is more thoughtful, ore educated, and fits how the next show was.

The other captains …

Meh.  I want to like Janeaway.  She’s the first woman captain lead on Star Trek for a show that has an unfortunate track record of leaving the women in the background.  BBC’s been showing Voyager, and I’m struggling to stay involved in it.  The scripts aren’t that good.  The show might have suffered from the finding their way home premise.  But also I think the writers struggled with how to do a woman captain.  Janeaway was never consistent–she was either too hard, or too emotional.

And I get it’s tough to have a woman in command and write the character in a way that works.  So many of the traits needed to be in command don’t come off as well with a woman (which is what women CEOs struggle with).  I worked with a powerful woman, and frankly, most people did not like her and said worse behind her back.  But we all respected her and her knowledge.  And we did get occasional peaks inside the armor.

It might be that Janeaway shouldn’t have been on the screen as much and had another character–not necessarily the first officer–to balance her out.  Hmm.  This is where Star Trek’s lack of enlisted comes into play.  That would have been a perfect fit for a Chief of the Spaceship senior enlisted to bring out Janeway’s the better traits to the audience.  A senior chief could do something like this because he or she would have a lot of experience, probably as much as a Navy captain; whereas, it would be more difficult for a lower-ranking officer to do it.

Silent Night by Chewbacca

This is pretty cute.  Just make sure you stay until the end for an appearance of Santa Claus, Star Wars-style.

Writing without an Outline like Minesweeper

I ran across this video that compares Writing without an outline to being like Minesweeper.  Or, I suppose, since I like submarines, those early days of submarining where danger was potentially all around them.

I’m glad to see some real topics coming out of about this at last instead of “You’re doing it wrong, and your story will be broken.  Come away from the Dark Side.”


The Soldier’s Christmas Poem

I’ve always found there’s something magical about Christmas.  It’s a time where hope comes out and reminds us that things can be better if we make the effort.  This is The Soldier’s Christmas Poem about Santa visiting the house of a soldier.


As I write this, we’re in single digits outside.  That’s early for Washington DC.  We usually hit that in January or February.  Snow–evil word that it is–is possible tonight and Saturday.  Brr!