Pause

tl;dr — I’m taking a break from my online presence

Here’s why.

I registered my first domain name in February of 1999. (It was spinhead.com, the one I use for my web design company and my primary email.) I’d already been designing websites for 4 years prior, and working with computers since I first went to work with my Dad sometime in 1976 or so.

For the past 20 years I’ve spent more and more time online.

And less and less time in the real world.

I’m trading the deceptive ease of online relationships for the messy complications of infinitely more satisfying connections in real life.

More time out in nature.

More time playing music.

More time with Best Beloved and our Little One.

More time sharing meals with friends. And taking my cooking from good cook to creative chef.

More time writing and studying the craft of writing, novels and music.

More time out in it and less time in my head.

Some Things to Note

If you know me in real life, you know how to get in touch. Do so, or wait till you see me later in the week.

Otherwise contact Sue (Sue@Spinhead.com or 715.296.0347) and she’ll know what to do.

Here’s what this is not about:

  • Nothing is wrong. Honest.
  • This is not a reaction, it’s an action. A choice based on deep thinking, meditation, and conversation with those I trust most.
  • It’s not about you. You didn’t offend or hurt me. Not now, probably not ever.
  • I’ll still be writing. A lot.
  • I don’t know when, or if, I’ll resume my previous online shenanigans, meaning posting everywhere, emailing like a dervish, living in social media. But don’t hold your breath.

P.S. from Sue – I fully support Joel in this decision. As his Chief Social Media Officer however, you’ll note that I’ll be managing his social media accounts on his behalf. So if you see his tweets or posts on his Facebook Author page, that’s me behind the scenes. 😉

Phil Brennan, Web Martin, and Jesse Donovan Walk Into A Bar

Joel D CanfieldYou’d think I’d know what to expect considering who I was meeting in the cheap dive downtown.

One at a time, sure.

I’d never sat down with the three of them, not all at once.

It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Or for those with other proclivities, to write.

Or maybe both.

72,275 Words: A Still, Small Voice, the Last Chapter Written

AStillSmallVoice-cover20151020e-flat-3DThursday morning I wrote the final chapter of A Still, Small Voice, the second Phil Brennan novel.

In one way, it didn’t end as I expected. The people in the room surprised me.

What Phil does, though: I’d seen that coming for a while.

In a few weeks, you’ll see it, too.

Death-Defying Heart-Stopping Leap of Faith. With Blood.

After I thought this post all the way through by explaining it to Best Beloved I discovered that the scene I was thinking of doesn’t exist in the movie. But it must have happened, so I’m going to write as if it did. Let’s all suspend disbelief for a few , eh?

Who’s seen Kate and Leopold? Ah, excellent. If you haven’t, and you’re a hopeless romantic, go watch it. (If, on the other hand, you often find yourself using words like “derivative” and “predictable” after suffering through a romantic movie, please, don’t; or if you do, don’t talk to the rest of us about it, eh? Good.)

Short synopsis of some core concepts: Kate’s friend Stuart has discovered holes in time. He accidentally brings Leopold back from the 19th century. Kate and Leopold fall in love (you didn’t see that coming, did you?) and after Stuart sends Leopold back in time, they realize Kate must follow him.

Thing is, to do so, she must leap off the Brooklyn Bridge at precisely the right time and fall through a portal which will appear below her feet. … more … “Death-Defying Heart-Stopping Leap of Faith. With Blood.”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 50)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

They didn’t call me a cab, but they didn’t shove me down on the pavement either. I did the former for myself and skipped the latter.

I could have walked. It was a beautiful day. Warm, enough breeze to make the warm comforting instead of oppressive. Sky was blue enough, considering the size of the city and the buildings in it.

I’d had enough of the Mills/Mulligan/Breville/whatever family. There was one person I knew I could talk to without explaining or arguing or thinking too hard. Though I didn’t have anything urgent to say, my need to be with someone unoppressive was reason enough for the cab.

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 50)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 40)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

We piled into Millie’s car and drove to Sam’s apartment, just a few blocks from the Mills Building. I felt like a school of fish, swarming from the office to Millie’s to Sam’s to who knew where.

Fish do that when there’s a shark chasing them.

It didn’t seem necessary to be secretive about going up to the apartment. Either Gertrude was watching us or she wasn’t, and I didn’t have a brilliant way to avoid being spied on by someone who meant it. I couldn’t even keep her from coming into my apartment and cutting me open.

The apartment was dark. … more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 40)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 30)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

She was a dozen yards from the car before I stopped gasping like a fish and got out.

I waited until I’d caught up so I didn’t have to yell. That, and I didn’t have the breath to speak. Or the words.

“What on earth are you talking about? How am I supposed to do that? You said she wouldn’t want to know? You’re not making any sense.”

I guess those were the words.

“It’s not logical, it’s emotional.”

“Okay, I get that. What about the rest? How am I supposed to let her know this without her resenting that it’s not coming from you, without her not flying off the handle and punching Everard Mills in the nose?”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 30)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 20)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

“Are you going somewhere?” I didn’t understand why she’d stood.

“To talk to Sam. She’s behind this and I want to know why.”

Millie stood. “You don’t know that, Darcy. Gertrude could still be involved.”

“Millie’s right. I believe that you see Sam’s hand in this. But that doesn’t rule out Gertrude pulling the strings. Besides, you told me Gertrude was behind us meeting at the library, behind your boss pushing his buttons. She’s involved.”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 20)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 10)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1

I took a step back. A half a step. The typing rooms are small.

“Gilbert Breville?”

That threw her. The waterworks shut off.

“How do you know that? We don’t have the same last name. How could you know that?”

She was making me nervous. It came out in my voice.

“Apparently it’s a running gag. You’re the second sister to claim him today. First was a tall blonde. Nothing like you at all.”

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 10)”

A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 1)

It was one of those days when breakfast wanted to be cheap whiskey straight from the bottle.

They came less often lately, but they came. Five years isn’t long enough. Maybe there is no long enough.

Since I sleep above my office I can hear when someone opens the door and goes in. The window rattles and the door jams a little so there’s a short sharp shriek when it opens, and again when it closes, glass rattling the whole time. One potential client glared at it and left without a word.

There’s nothing written on the door, fancy “Private Investigator” signs or things like that. Officially, I’m neither: private, nor an investigator.

… more … “A Long, Hard Look (Chapter 1)”

My Biggest Fan

BestBeloved01Some days, I just need a cheerleader to tell me I can do anything.

Some days, I need to be told I’m heading the wrong direction.

Some days, I need someone to let me cry over nothing.

Some days, I need to know that my failure wasn’t so bad.

Some days, I need someone to laugh at my jokes.

Some days, I need someone to laugh at me, so I don’t take myself too seriously.

Most days, I need ’em all.

And every day, I get exactly what I need.

December 26th was our 10th anniversary. Here’s to 10 million more.

BestBeloved03BestBeloved02

Chasing Attention is a Bad Thing (but It’s So Hard Not to Do)

series of photos by René te Witt http://www.sxc.hu/profile/renetewittTwo weeks ago I wrote a post at my Someday Box blog which I’m inordinately proud of. My fans responded by making it the busiest day I’ve ever had at any blog in 11 years. By a factor of 3 — yes, one post tripled my best day ever.

And now, the following days of normal traffic look puny and sad.

When kids say something surprising and get a laugh, they do it again.

… more … “Chasing Attention is a Bad Thing (but It’s So Hard Not to Do)”

Right and Wrong and Tolerance and Best

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/857772 by Jose Bernalte http://www.mrkstudios.com/Unprecedented tolerance. Personal freedoms. No idea left behind. DIY.

Everybody’s opinion is equal, and opinions are more important than facts.

I have seen people who can’t spell or punctuate properly, in the comments on Amazon, dismiss the writings of brilliant minds like Daniel Kahneman simply because they haven’t bothered to find out who he is and they happen to disagree with him.

It is popular to pretend that all ideas are equal. All roads lead to Rome. Every method has merits, and everyone should find their own path.

Tolerance is great. But there is still, often enough, a “best way” to accomplish something.
… more … “Right and Wrong and Tolerance and Best”

Seriously Overreacting to an Annoying Early Morning Noise

I’m writing some experimental fiction as part of my daily writing exercises. You’re seeing it because, though it’s not haute cuisine, it’s not egg shells and coffee grounds either. These will show up here and there, now and then.

The constant thrum vibrates my chest. Somewhere, a big engine turns, a little too fast. The pistons push the crankshaft past its limit, setting up harmonic distortions.

Over the thrum is a rhythmic oom oom oom, another layer of vibration.

The snow begins to lose coherence as its resonant frequency is touched twice in each cycle. Patches collapse flat to the ground, leaving three foot deep sinkholes in the white crystal powder.
… more … “Seriously Overreacting to an Annoying Early Morning Noise”

An Apple Tree

I’m writing some experimental fiction as part of my daily writing exercises. You’re seeing it because, though it’s not haute cuisine, it’s not egg shells and coffee grounds either. These will show up here and there, now and then.

Standing under the tree, his feet squished in the soggy lawn. Above, his brother’s foot scraped against the trunk of the apple tree.

“Ouch.”
… more … “An Apple Tree”

Practical Advice from ‘Why Business People Speak Like Idiots’ by Brian Fugere (An Actionable Books summary)

“Bull has become the language of business.”

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, page 2

Every single one of us can tell the difference between human communication and business communication—when we’re reading. For some reason, when we’re writing, we lose our minds.

The best books on change are written, not by folks who never had to learn, but by those who’ve “been there” and wish they hadn’t done that. Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky – authors of Why Business People Speak Like Idiots – all worked at Deloitte Consulting, committing the very crimes outlined in this book when one day they woke up and smelled the, er, aroma of what they were saying in their professional writing. After creating software (called Bullfighter) to help them monitor their own writing, they gathered what they learned, verified their thinking with a little informal research, and identified the four main reasons business people speak like idiots—and how not to.

Fugere and company describe four “traps” that business people can fall into with their writing. In each case, they speak to how someone falls into the trap, give examples, and offer clear advice on how to avoid the trap in the future. In case the title of the book doesn’t make this obvious, every lesson is delivered with humour in clear, simple language.

Why business people speak like idiots is a fun read; educational without being too dense.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Why Business People Speak Like Idiots’ by Brian Fugere (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield (An Actionable Books summary)

“Turning pro is not for everyone. We have to be a little crazy to do it, or even to want to. In many ways the passage chooses us; we don’t choose it. We simply have no alternative.”

Turning Pro, page 5

Steven Pressfield knows more about suffering than I do. If you’ve ever tried to create something, you know what that means, but I’ll spell it out for anyone who’s confused.

Everything worth doing is art. The obvious stuff – writing, painting, sculpting – is art, certainly.

There’s another kind of art though, and it exists in your business, in your life.

If you’re trying to do something with real meaning, something not quite orthodox, you have felt what traditional artists feel every day: Resistance.

In Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art, he detailed what Resistance is, and how to combat it. It was originally titled The Writer’s Life so it’s no surprise that it’s slanted toward those who share Pressfield’s profession. But as a man of broad vision, he knows that we all face Resistance, what Seth Godin calls the lizard brain. When we try to do something important, the voice in the back of our head tries to stop us.

In many cases, it wins. Even those of us who’ve read and re-read The War of Art until it’s worn have succumbed to Resistance.

We needed more than awareness. We needed a tool, a path, a flashlight.

Turning Pro is a flashlight on the path.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield (An Actionable Books summary)”

Quashing the Need for Approval

Yes, we all need approval, and even if I try to quash it, it will live on.

But when I find myself slanting my writing specifically to elicit a response, I need to adjust my settings.

As of January 1st, I’m turning off comments on this blog. I want to free up some emotional energy for writing. This will help.

You already know where to find me if you want to chat. It’s not about turning off the conversation.