Latest: Lotus



Choosing Wealth

In Vagabonding traveler and author Rolf Potts talks about choosing how we define wealth. Rather than assuming that “wealth” and “money” are the same thing, he suggests measuring wealth in what we value. Wild concept, I know.

I would love to have more money for things like a trip to Ireland or new tires on the car or a new instrument (still deciding between octave mandolin and mandocello, but it looks like I’ll have plenty of time to ponder it.)

It’s not what I value most. Every time discontent creeps in I remind myself that I have plenty of the stuff live is made of: time.

I rarely wake to an alarm.

Nearly every day, I play some kind of game with my daughter, the last of our 7 children still at home.

Every day, I cook three interesting meals for my wife while she runs the business.

Every day in February, I’ve written a song. Every single day. And recorded a demo thereof.

Deadlines are almost unknown around here. A day off only requires balancing personal needs or desires with what’ll have to be done tomorrow.

Want to spend August in northern Wisconsin (highs in the low 70s) instead of southern Arizona (highs in triple digits and humid as an old sock)? Arrange our work schedule to allow it, plan for gas, the primary expense, and go. (Our travel requires two other factors, a location-independent business [check] and oodles of friends to stay with to avoid expensive hotel bills [check] but those didn’t happen by accident either.)

Today I’m worried about money. Ausoma has lost two big clients (they love us, but need to get other things done before they come back and work with us again) and for the first time, rent for the 1st of the month isn’t a slam dunk. It always works out. Always. We both have faith, Best Beloved and I, and it always works out.

So today, I’m going to enjoy the time I have and not worry about what I don’t.


Reserving Seats for the Critics

Ben Earwicker Garrison Photography, Boise, IDContinuing from yesterday:

Much is affected by the fact that I do not aspire to fame, and I don’t need my books to make my living for me.

Would I reject fame or fortune if they wandered into the corral? Not at all. I’m leaving the gate open in case they decide to wander by.

Vast difference between “fine if it happens” and relentless pursuit. I know the effort of book marketing; our primary business provides social media marketing services for authors, as in, we do it for a living. With a whole team and a slew of tools.

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Inviting Critics to the Arena

I may not refer directly to information presented in Brené Brown’s 99U presentation but you may find it interesting anyway.

Not pizza
A food analogy. Always a good place to start:

Join Me for Pizza

Imagine I invited you over for my amazing homemade pizza. Everything from scratch. You are, of course, delighted.

You’ve mentioned my pizza to a couple friends and wonder if they might come along. I’m feeling expansive, so why not?

By 4:30 Saturday, it’s a disaster. The sauce isn’t thick enough. The toppings aren’t grilled properly. The crust doesn’t rise enough.

Which of these options makes the most sense to you?

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Once Bitten . . . You Stop Sticking Your Hand in the Cage

pet the catIn her blog today author Lia London tells a harrowing tale of lies, betrayal, fraud — that wasn’t her latest book, it was her previous publishing efforts.

In a Facebook group I’m part of, someone asked for recommendations for a web designer. I dropped my name on the list, already 100 posts long.

The “where should I host my site?” question is asked often, garnering the same list of responses each time: “GoDaddy!” “Anywhere but GoDaddy!” “HostThingy” “ThingHost” “HostHost” “Hostess Cupcakes” “Charlottezweb” (because I’ll never skip an opportunity to promote Jason’s marvelous hosting, even if it gets lost in the crowd.)

We’re re-watching Longmire from the beginning, hoping the long-awaited 4th season will start the night after we finish the cliffhanger of season 3. In last night’s episode Walt tells Henry the reason he’s pulling fingerprints from a car’s steering wheel instead of having one of his deputies do it: “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”

Rather than debate the debatable truth of the statement, let’s talk about why we believe that.

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Funds for Writers

Hope ClarkTom Bentley mentioned Hope Clark in a recent post. I thought I’d share his comments. Her site and newsletter are intriguing.

Hope Clark has long sent out a writing newsletter that’s been chockablock filled with writing tips, grants and other publishing opportunities for writers. I’ve subscribed for years, and am always delighted, particularly with her thoughtful editorials. She’s also a mystery novelist of some acclaim.

Perfect Day

I wrote this the last day of 2009. Still working on it.

It feels natural, waking up in Ireland. Like I was born in the wrong place, and now I’m home. And my life has felt more real since the first morning I woke up with Sue’s hair on my pillow.

There is nothing in the world like Irish breakfast tea, in Ireland (or, at the other end of the day, a pint o’ Guinness in the land where it’s made).

Potatoes should be part of every meal (another indication I’m secretly Irish). And as Sue says, orange marmalade was designed for morning tea.

The bright sun is a treat at breakfast. Since it rises at 4 am in the summer, and still shines almost every winter day, S.A.D. is a thing of the past. As are my allergies. Remember how miserable it was in Sacramento, like a chronic cold?

No flying bugs; no window screens. We could step out the living room windows to the deck above the river—and we often do.

Even with the sun on the deck, it’s cool enough for a sweater. I love sweaters. And hats. I love clothing in general in a not-very-manly way. But when it’s always cool enough for long sleeves, I get to wear something fun and different every day.

I enjoy having a household staff. I know it looks odd to folks who have old views of ‘servants’ and all, but these people are my closest associates, trusted friends. It’s just that their passions and dreams relate to the type of serving and caregiving which I’m glad I can support, financially and otherwise.

Having a valet lay my clothes out and draw my bath after bringing me tea in the morning is a nice luxury. I delight in having a talented passionate chef prepare all our meals. Especially a nice lunch to take on a drive.

My afternoon massage lets me make the most of my nap. And having a house cleaner to keep everything tidy takes a burden off Sue and lets her enjoy her home more. I’m so much more productive now that I have an assistant who takes notes, types, and manages my library.

I’m still not used to our clients never calling, but since they’re all in different time zones around the world, my coaching calls end up at 5 in the morning or 9 at night. I love it. Leaves my days free for writing and naps. And recording my music.

My travel videos of Ireland have been popular in the States. It’s fun to do the whole process, including the music.

There’s going to be a big crowd at the pub tonight. I love it that my work enables me to buy the first round any time I perform there.

Time for our morning walk. Sue’s strength has returned since we’ve been able to get out every day.

After our walk, it’s off to Shannon to pick up the kids. It’s one of the best things in my life, finally being reunited with them.

(Insert Lou Gehrig quote here:
“Today-ay-ay, I consider myself the luckiest man-an-an on the face-ace-ace of the earth-rth-rth)

Joel D Canfield 31 December 2009


Greenback Blues

While many of my songs are about Best Beloved, this one is not.

Although the lyrics reference any number of U.S. Presidents, the astute observer will note that it is not even remotely about politicians.

Without boring you with musicological details, the intro to this song is a challenge when we perform it live. While many of my other songs can be shifted up or down as much as a full key, those where I play the harmonica don’t have that luxury. Mostly because I don’t own enough harmonicas.

Someone called Ireland the land of happy wars and sad love songs. This song always feels like a little of both.

Greenback Blues

You should have married Andrew Jackson
I know that you think more of him than me
I’ll bet Ben Franklin would be fine with you
And that’s fine with me as far as I can see

Alexander Hamilton is only half as much
As Andrew Jackson in your twisted mind
George Washington‘s just peanuts; Abe Lincoln‘s not much more
But Grover Cleveland would be quite a find

Too bad Woodrow Wilson don’t circulate no more
Got your hands on him he’d never leave
But gimme just one Roosevelt to call a cab
And I’ll be gone for good you’d best believe


Why Affiliate Links Build Trust Instead of Evil

When you click on my affiliate link it’s a gift to me. Not a financial gift; that’s too obvious. The gift is trust.

It’s true that the vendor gives me a gift on your behalf, and you don’t spend one penny extra. But that’s not the point. The point is that when you click on that link you accept my recommendation because you trust me. Because I recommended a book at Amazon or hosting at CharlottezWeb or that you or your male friend shave with equipment you buy at Harry’s, You were willing to at least click the link and go look, and maybe even buy something.

Yes, affiliate links (which we used to call commissioned sales) have been done to death, and are used for every imaginable evil.

There just tools. They are not evil. They are, in fact, a way for us to grow the trust which magically happens even over the Internet when people speak sincerely and genuinely listen.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1379920 by LuZiVerne http://www.sxc.hu/profile/LuZiVerne


What if I Want to Raise the Price Later?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/875056 by Andrew Steinle http://www.sxc.hu/profile/andrewcsThe common perception is that a low price is hard to raise. It’s just not true.

It’s hard to resell the same thing to the same buyer at a higher price, sure. That’s why we whine about the price of gas, like that’s gonna do any good.

But if I sell my book to you for 99¢, and in a year when I’ve finished 5 of them and am famous for being Chandler reborn, do you really believe I can’t set the price of that selfsame book anywhere I like, and sell copies all day long to new readers?

In fact, would those early readers not tell everyone they know “I knew him when he was 99¢, and he’s worth every penny of ten bucks, go buy the book” ?


Leveling Up: Thinking Less Like Poor Folk

Poverty changes how you act, in non-obvious ways.

It’s clear that the good quality screwdriver which will last a lifetime, for $6, is better than the junky screwdriver you’ll have to replace in a year for $3.

What slips past folks who’ve never lived in poverty is that if your choice includes “and the other $3 will buy flour so you can bake bread all week, otherwise, you get no bread” then you buy the cheap junk screwdriver.

And then again next year.

Multiply that by every single small purchase decision you make and you’ll quickly see that when there isn’t enough money, it can be almost impossible to escape.

image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1426350 by gvdvarst http://www.sxc.hu/profile/gvdvarst
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7 Reasons Copyrighting Your Art is a Waste of Time

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/666175 by Daniel Duchon http://elduchon.es/blog/Someone stealing your book seems to be every author’s nightmare.

Let’s think this through:

  • someone finds your book or song
  • they think it’s worth stealing in its entirety
  • they publish it as their own
  • it becomes a big hit and makes them lots of money

For that to happen, we have to get past all this:
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What if I Don’t Want to Play by the Rules?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1404388 by Andreas Krappweis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/KrappweisWhen my middle daughter was taking an interest in music, I tried to teach her some piano basics, and a bit about music theory. Nothing elaborate. Things like chord patterns that work well, melodic structure, lyric writing.

She dismissed it all. “I know what I want to do, and I don’t need all that stuff.” To me, her playing sounded like she was just picking two keys at a time, stringing pairs of sounds together, vaguely timed against some clock that didn’t exist.

No lyrics. She was a poet, and I guess the lyrics were going to stay in her head, not come out of her mouth.

Fast forward 5 years. I mentioned that, at the time, it sure seemed like all she wanted was to “let her genius flow unhindered” rather than learning a few basics that could turn her meandering into real songs.

She said, “Yeah, I was just being lazy and pretentious. I need all that stuff. Will you teach me now?”

Her lyrics never fail to make me cry or laugh out loud. Her melodies are mature. She’s a decent piano player. And one of the finest singers I’ve ever known.

Lateral arabesque to a location somewhere in my head.
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What Does It Cost to Make a Living as a Writer?

picture http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1220297 by Guillaume Riesen http://www.sxc.hu/profile/thegnome54Some authors hope their first book will make enough money to encourage them in their writing dreams.

Not likely.

More likely, you’ll spend a lot of time, money, effort to get it finished, and see very few sales.

If you’re writing to make money, go ahead and give up now, before you waste all that time, money, effort.

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