Diving into the phishing hole: How to rebrand a blog

After almost a decade, 1,024 posts and several shifts in emphasis, this blog takes on a new face. A shark’s face.

Generally, a blog is a testing lab. That’s where the writer tests some ideas out, pitches them to the reader and hopes for comments that are not from some Web bot. Through the blog the writer finds out what works, what doesn’t, and maybe what people find valuable. While I’m not one to build my attack on what’s popular, I can understand value when I see it.

That’s why the shark. He’s an old buddy of mine, and it seems every time I feature him in a blog post people pay attention. It’s either his magnetic good looks or he shows up with my most useful niche stuff.

I haven’t named the shark yet. Reckon I should, huh?

Here’s the deal. The Internet is a crazy place, man. It’s the world’s biggest dispenser of junk mail, last-chance advertisements, and the occasional scam. Why? Because the crap is cheap to send and it hooks a lot of people.

Even your standard social-media meme deserves scrutiny. Like is it true that some dot-com gazillionaire wants to distribute his unspeakable fortune to the great unwashed, or is it just Internet blather? And if it’s the latter, is it the benign kind of blather that doesn’t hurt anyone, or is it bait for something else?

Here I plan to dissect the scams as they come in, research them and give you the whole lowdown of what I find out.

Qualifications? A decade and a half as a print journalist, and another decade as a journalistic blogger. This gives me the ability to sniff out rotten phish when I run across it, and a bit of a bad attitude.

Enjoy the fishing hole. Just make sure you spell it right and don’t bleed in it.

Talk to me: What should I name the shark? Please share in the comments.

Elsewhere: Let ’em finish … like, projects?

Let ‘em finish: Completing a project sure beats starting one

Let 'em finish already!

Let ‘em finish already!

There’s a road sign I often see in South Carolina. It’s posted wherever there’s a road project, and it admonishes drivers to watch their air speed. I guess law enforcement takes this stuff seriously:


Because I’m so easily amused I usually read that out loud when I pass one of those signs.

However, as proof positive that I’m so easily amused, I’ll add my own punchline:


That’s because road crews — or more correctly the political entities that control them — are not always that good about completing a project.

Of course I know absolutely nothing about that. Of course I always finish what I start. Of course I’m lying like an old hound dog in the sun.

I’ve already written about my multiple uncompleted projects. Their name is legion for there are many. But talking to other creative types — especially those with more than one talent — should make me feel better. At least I’m not the worst kiddy in this schoolhouse.

But this finishing stuff. That’s so cool. A rush. Even better than having another brilliant idea. But getting to that completion point is just too much like work … (more)

(There’s more in creative&dangerous … check it out.)


Elsewhere: After finishing a good work, things can get uglier

After finishing a good work, things can get uglier

“Have you ever had a moment where you knew you made it, that you’ve reached all your goals? If I do, just take me behind the barn and shoot me. If I ever reach that point I’ve made it, then what do I do next? … success scares me even more than failure.”

– Karen Watts, in B.I.C. Cartel

Who would have thought finishing something or doing a great work can be a trigger?

Apparently so.

I got into a debate with some co-workers about fears a few years ago. Actually it didn’t start as a debate until I made it so; I do have that effect.

But in our discussion I mentioned a fear of success.

It’s not just a fear of getting there, but a fear that comes when you actually finish a great work.

That’s when I look down from my perch. It’s loke the feeling I get from looking at a Peter Kaplan photo (check that out sometime if heights don’t trigger you). My stomach drops, my hands get all weak and sweaty, I step away from the railing. Far away.

It’s a long way down.

There’s no way I can stay up there.

Got to get down sometime because there’s no way I can sustain this.

There’s no more up, only down …

There’s more at Good Morning Manic Depression (Are You Going To Behave Yourself Today?)


[From B.I.C. Cartel blog] Will I freeze when I hit Publish?

It's what's inside that counts.
It’s what’s inside that counts.

So I’m getting ready to publish B.I.C Cartel. I mean the full version, and not just the wimpy ol’ part-by-part release. I mean the whole thing.

I get asked this a lot: What’s that like?

Best answer I can give is to let the characters tell it. Karen Watts is getting ready to publish her first novel “Desert Secrets” on Amazon. Her friends are there to help her, to cheer her on and to keep her from bonking out at a late stage. You can check out the dialogue and all the encouraging words here.

I sure hope the publishing process isn’t nearly that hard for me, but you can bet it will. It’s all good news, though. I’m committed to this thing (or maybe I should be committed). Provided I don’t find a handy excuse Part III and the full version of B.I.C. Cartel comes out March 3.


B.I.C. Cartel (Part II: Eating Your Young) is now up; free through Feb. 6

Free through Feb. 6.
Free through Feb. 6.

Grab it while you can; it’s free through Feb. 6 through Amazon.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“… you want us to hit what?”

“You heard me,” Robert said. “That art supply warehouse on Foothill.”

“I think you’ve been smoking too much of that funny stuff,” said his companion, a tall skinny teenager with a almost enough facial hair to grow a neckbeard. “An art supply place?”

“You heard me.”

“You found a bunch of artsy-fartsy freaks to sell the stuff to?”


“Still think you smoking too much, man.”

Robert reached in his pocket, pulled out a list and handed it to his companion.

“Man, did you write on that paper or crap on it? ‘Cause I can’t read it either way.”

“Shut up. That’s canvases.”

“Canvases? What’s that?”

“That’s what you paint on.”

“And an easel?”

“Jamal, you’ll know it when you see it.”

“Paint and brushes. That what you needing?”

“Yeah. Make it acrylic. Haven’t got around to oils yet.”

“Wait a minute,” Jamal said. “These are for you, right?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“I hear you draw real good.”

“Who says that?” Robert said, straightening up.

“Just people. Just hear it around. You trying to move from the outhouse to the penthouse?”

“Yeah man,” Robert said. “With real paintings on the walls. Mine. But if you tell anybody I’ll have to beat you …”

That’s it. Y’all need to grab it.

# # #



B.I.C. Cartel Part II: How to eat your young and feel good about it (free Feb. 2-6)

Part II is up ...
Part II is up …

Braden, Karen and Robert spend a few years eating their young. Murdering their darlings. Inventing new ways to sabotage themselves.

All three enjoy success, but for some reason none could sustain it. Or handle it.

  • Karen writes for a weekly newspaper, earns her state’s highest journalism award and chucks it all – to work in a casino …
  • Braden tours with two jazz bands and makes a good living at it until another wife pressures him to give it all up for her …
  • Robert impulsively paints his greatest, most awe-inspiring work on his shop wall and it takes several friends to talk him out of painting over it …

Follow these three through several cross-country moves, abusive relationships, madness and drama as they come face to face with what they really love.

Part II was uploaded just last night and undergoes some tweaks, and it will go live Feb. 2. I’ll have it free through Feb. 6, so grab it then. Or later; I don’t mind.

# # #

Part I of B.I.C. Cartel uploaded, available

This is how we roll.
This is how we roll.

Well, some last-minute things on the availability.

Still waiting on it to pass muster with Amazon so they can make sure it doesn’t advocate world conquest (which it does). But it’s new.

You can get it on Gumroad and pay what you want. Or check out my author’s selection at Amazon. Through Kindle I’m pricing it at $0.99, but that’s only because they won’t let me give it out for free.

Yeah, I know. They PP’d in my Cheerios, but I’ll live.

Here’s the basic blurb:

Braden Campbell is an amazing jazz pianist with bipolar disorder, and he gives up his talent because it’s time to grow up. As if driving a taxi is a grown-up occupation, that is.

Karen Watts writes, and has great credentials as a journalist and freelance writer. However, every novel she’s ever written is either abandoned or torched — because she thinks she isn’t good enough.

Robert Blair paints landscapes, portraits and … signs. But only the signs pay and a man has to make a living, right?

After years of false starts, marriages, abusive relationships, divorces, substance abuse, madness, frequent cross-country moves and plain old self-doubts, the three reunite with a new resolve. Karen bets them that she will be the first to “turn pro” — to take their talents seriously and act professionals instead of dabblers.

… She put her water bottle down. “Here’s the deal. Each of us decides to ourselves what becoming a pro is all about. Then we do it. I’ll tell both you hairy-legged types what. I don’t care what you think, but I’m gonna be the first to make that jump …”

To encourage and challenge one another to plant their butts in the chair and do their work, they form a support group called BIC Cartel.

They push and cajole one another and things start to happen with all three.

This work will be released in three parts. Part II will be available through Amazon 2/02/2014.

Final version should be out March 5, 2014.

Keep watching the BIC Cartel website for more details and occasional notes from the author and characters.



Elsewhere: Lamenting dying Google services; seeking alternatives

My companion blog ‘Baling Wire and Duct Tape,’ dormant for almost a year, comes back up with news of another Google service getting the ax, and some ways to make up for the loss. No, I’m not talking about Google Reader, either. But I’ll miss Google SMS just as much.


Let’s say you wanted the weather forecast. Key in “weather 29406” — or whatever your Zip code is to get the forecast for the next few days. Within minutes it would come back, and you’d know whether to cancel that picnic.

That’s the service that felt the nip of the executioner’s ax. Suddenly. Quietly. Not even a whimper. Google-watchers were so busy with Reader that they didn’t notice anything else …

Check it out in Baling Wire and Duct Tape.