From Today On, I Will Include the Words “Multiple Award Winner” When Introducing Myself to Others.

Well, here’s something cool:  Wit and Wimsy nominated my site for a Sunshine Blogger Award!  That’s the second award I’ve had the privilege to be nominated for since I started this little site just over month or so ago.  It’s especially gratifying to be a recipient when you read what this award is all about:

“The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.”

That’s a pretty cool compliment.  Means a lot when someone associates my work with words like “creative”, “positive”, and “inspiring.”  (You don’t want to know what words people usually associate my work with.)

So thank you, Wit and Wimsy.  I’m a loyal follower of your blog and really appreciate you thinking of me when you made your nominations.  If you haven’t checked her site out yet, feel free to click on over and browse around.  Go on, I’ll wait here until you come back…

(Make sure you check out the bottom of this post for some really great websites that I’ve nominated for this award.  It’s a pleasure to ‘pass the torch’ to some really creative people.  In fact, you should probably skip over my Q&A and just get to the good stuff.)

The Rules

The guidelines for this award are straightforward.

  • Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you in the post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
  • Nominate 8-11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo on your post and/or in your blog


The Dreaded Q&A

I think ya’ll nominate me for these things just so I have to answer questions about myself.  Which I just love to do.  In the spirit of spreading more sunshine across the net, here we go:

What is your favorite smell?  Easy.  Freshly cut grass.  Specifically, freshly cut grass in New England during the first month of spring.  After you spend five or six miserable months surviving a cold, wet, and grey northeastern winter, it is a most very welcome scent to smell.  And a sign of many good things to come.  Until the next cold, wet, and grey northeastern winter, of course.

What of your traits do you think define you?  Greatest compliment I have ever received was when my father told someone, “Paul never gives up.”  He was right.  I am not the most talented, smartest, or logical person I know.  But I am the hardest working.  That kind of trait is extremely useful, especially when applied universally.  Being persistent and my belief that ‘there is always a way’ has done me far more good then harm over the years.  I have no idea where I’d be without it.

In a parallel universe, what do you do for a living?  Contrary to what I just wrote about being hard-working, when I was younger I was a professional slacker.  I did just enough to get by and not an ounce more.  Consequently, I spent more time in college playing beach volleyball than studying.  Which is a shame because I could have accomplished so much more, so much earlier than I did.  So in a parallel universe, I’m guessing I’m either a doctor or an astrophysicist.  I love helping people and am fascinated by astronomy.  Coin-flip.

What makes you feel most confident?  When someone appreciates something I’ve done by either telling me outright or mimicking something I do.  It’s very flattering.  I’m highly self-critical, so when I get a nice review or pick up a new follower, it reminds me that I’m doing something worthwhile and am not the hack I sometimes convince myself I am.  That builds confidence, something everyone needs in order to do their best work.

What is your favorite story?  Don’t have one.  Cop-out answer?  Maybe.  I’ve heard and read so many stories that inspired and awed me, it’s impossible for me to pick just one.  I couldn’t easily list my top ten favorite stories, for that matter.  Don’t believe me, huh?  Fine.  In no particular order:  Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Stand, Strip Tease, Breakfast of Champions, Hit Man, The Store, A Fire Upon The Deep, Old Man’s War, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and Inca Gold.  See?  That wasn’t easy.  And there’s about thirty more which are at this very moment screaming “You should’ve picked me damnit!”  Saying any one of them is my “favorite” would be a lie.

Are you a reader or a viewer?  When it comes to entertainment, I’m a reader.  I’ll take a good book over a great movie any time.  I absolutely love live-theater too, but a book is more versatile and really gets my imagination flowing.  I don’t know what I’d do without reading.  When it comes to learning something, however, I think I’m more of a viewer.  It’s easier for me to fix the car by watching a DIY video than by reading a service manual.  Or, better yet, watch a mechanic fix it so I don’t completely destroy the engine.

What is your biggest bucket list item?  I’m lucky here in that I’ve had the opportunity to check a lot of those boxes over the years.  The one thing that really stands out is to visit Australia.  My great-grandfather was Australian and I’ve always felt drawn to it.  It’s the last of the “big ones” on my travel list.  (Super-extra-bonus fact:  My favorite city is Rome.  The history, people, and food is amazing.  Almost decided to stay when I was there last.)

What is your least favorite taste?  I can’t get the hang of dark chocolate.  It’s bitter and chalky and just yuck-o.  Some people love the stuff.  Not sure about those degenerates.

What is the happiest moment of 2018 thus far for you?  Last year was a very rewarding but also extremely difficult year for me.  So far, 2018 has been very good to me.  Like I was owed something.  I’m going to say New Years Day.  I’ve never been one of those “resolution” type people, but this time it actually did feel different.  And I think there are even better days ahead.

What is your favorite holiday and why?  Christmas.  Family, food, presents.  Oh, and eggnog.  What?  Do I really need to write more?  Move along.

Do people change or just circumstances?  People.  It’s people that make the circumstances.  And I’ve seen people change, many times for the better.  I love that people grow and evolve and yet are still somehow the same at the core.  But aside from that, circumstances are effected by the people that create or are involved with them.  Without people, there are no circumstances.


The Nominations!

Still here?  Good!  Because here are my nominations for The Sunshine Blogger Award.  These are some really cool sites that I am following.  And I don’t follow all willy-nilly.  So you should check them out and give them a follow, too:

Chaotic Shapes – Brandon is an extremely talented artist.  Definitely worth checking out his latest art project and other creative inspirations.

Finally Unchained – Whether she posts a short story, photograph, or reminder that children are awful, Pia’s site is always a lot of fun to read.

A Pianist’s Musings – Kathryn’s site caught my attention when she posted a great article about PDQ Bach.  That article warrants the award on its own.  Lot of other great music related posts there, too.

Terminally Single – Check out the headline:  “Walking alone, I walk free.”  Raw, interesting inspirational blogs for all.

The Nerdy Lion – This is my newest followed site, but I like what I’ve read so far.  Really great article about dealing with the loss of loved ones and friends just came out the other day.  Worth a read.

Strawberry Travels – Ella writes about…well, I’m still trying to piece it all together.  It’s a very entertaining site – definitely worth a look.

I know I’m supposed to nominate 8-11 others, but those six are really good and think they should stand on their own.  Problem?

My Questions For You Unfortunate Souls

I get to ask 11 questions of the people I’ve nominated.  Now we’re talking!

  1. Anarchist or conformist?  Explain.  Unless you’re an anarchist and won’t.
  2. What is one thing about blogging that you didn’t expect to find when you first started your site?
  3. What is your Lifetime Achievement Award-worthy accomplishment so far?
  4. Who has been the most influential or inspiring person in your life?
  5. What is the furthest distance you’ve traveled away from the place you call home?
  6. What is the one book I should read but probably haven’t yet?
  7. What’s the earliest memory of life you can recall?
  8. iOS or Android?
  9. Tell us about a hobby you have that few people know about.
  10. What’s your favorite band and why isn’t it Rush?
  11. Get on your soapbox and make a statement.  Anything goes.

Thanks for humoring me and my little intrusive questions.  I really do love your sites, each for a unique reason.  Looking forward to reading more from you all for a long time to come!

For the rest of you, thanks for coming by.  Oh, and feel free to follow.  You won’t hurt the “like” button by pressing it, either.  Go on, try it!







Your Family is a Bunch of Liars

Been missing in action for about a week.  My son picked up the flu at school and decided to share it with Daddy.  Isn’t he a lamb?  Well, that’s just the type of person we’re trying to raise – a selfless giver who wants to share with others.  They say those are the things that start at home, so go us. 

The downside, of course, is that for the first three days I could barely get out of bed.  I don’t get sick often, but this thing just sucked the life out of me.  I’ll spare the details, you’ve been there.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I woke up one morning feeling better.  Gee, that was fast, I thought at the time.  Turns out it was merely the eye of the storm passing over the house.  Next four days, straight back to hell.

At any rate, except for that one day, I haven’t gotten much done since a week ago Sunday.  So there is a lot to catch up on.  I’ve got a Sunshine Award to talk about, a draft to edit, and another first draft to make progress on.  I’m finally feeling like my old self, so here we go…

Beta-Readers Are Wonderful, Awful People

There are no better lies than the ones told to us by loved ones.  Case in point – when I was a boy, I was a pudgy, Husky-jeans-wearing, socially awkward zero.  It was a hard way to grow up.  I should point out this was in the 70’s and 80’s, back when society viewed the treatment of outcasts a bit differently than today.

I have no idea why I was the way I was back then.  Today, I have nothing in common with that poor little guy.  The people who know me now don’t believe I was once that kid, but it’s true.   All that happened doesn’t bother me.  It actually made me a better person later on in life.  But I digress…

As painfully evident as it was that I was a round – a very round – peg trying to fit in the old square hole, my mother insisted on telling me how great I was.  How smart I was.  How handsome I was.  How the girls would flock.  What she said made her a supportive parent, but she couldn’t have been more wrong at the time.  And I damn well knew it.

But that’s what the people who love us do, right?  They find the good in us and focus on those qualities.  I loved her for it, but deep down I knew where it was coming from.  She overlooked the bad and focused on the good.  What a peach!

It all comes to this:  never listen to your loved ones when it comes to your writing.  (Or any other work you do, for that matter.)  They want to support you, especially if they realize you’re very passionate and enthusiastic about whatever you’re working on.  Pointing out the bad is honest, but it’s also hurtful.  And they have an investment in your relationship that goes far beyond whatever story you’ve asked them to read.  So don’t blame them for being biased.  But realize this means you usually can’t trust their feedback, either.

Best thing you can do is find beta-readers.  The angrier the better.  Write your story, do a few edits, and then put it in front of the most heinous, depraved, teeth-grinding people you can find.  They want to find problems with your work.  They want to hate it.  They want to tell you how it didn’t make sense, the writing is crap, and you should take up photography instead.  Or sewing.  For the love of God anything, just to keep you from writing another word.  When you find that gang, you’ve found what you’re looking for.

Because those are the very same people who are going to tell you when you’ve got a winner on your hands.  They aren’t biased in your favor, so when they say something is good, it means a lot.  The comments are sometimes astonishing, as people often take away something from your story you never intended.  Invaluable insight, there.

Takes a thick skin to listen to what doesn’t work, but those are your true opportunity areas so go back and fix them.  You should also focus on the things they said work well.  It affirms what you probably already know, which builds confidence to help silence the inner-critic.  Other times it brings to your attention something you’ve completely over-looked.

These are the things you want to find out about before you submit for publication.  Because chances are good the editor reviewing your work is even angrier than your beta-readers.  You would be, too, if your life was mired in the slush pile.

Did I sell you on the idea?  I hope so.  Now, where to find them?  Just so happens there is a great website for that very thing.  It’s called YouWriteOn.  No, I’m not affiliated with them whatsoever – being a shill is not my style.  I happened upon it a couple of months ago and the feedback has been tremendously helpful.  Figured I’d share it with you.

As an extra bonus, every year they have these competitions in which the top ten finishers have the opportunity for their work to be reviewed by a major publishing house.  I’m talking Random House and Orion, people!  You can check out the YouWriteOn site for details.  I’ve found it to be a priceless tool.

The sad thing is, the website has been around for a very long time but seems to be lacking in activity as of late.  I have no idea why.  Still, over the past 45 days a story I uploaded to the site was reviewed by ten different beta-readers.  The feedback – both good and bad – has been extremely beneficial.

There may also be writing and beta-reading groups in your area, as well.  I avoid those for the same reason I avoid feedback from my family.  Because people sometimes have a hard time being honest with someone they see face-to-face.  If there’s one thing the internet has shown us, it’s that people tend to be far more honest when they are anonymous.  I can take it.

Different strokes, right?  Whichever you choose, getting impartial feedback from a third party is really essential.  There’s nothing worse than finding problems after you’ve already clicked send on Submittable.

Thanks for reading.  Give a follow here or on twitter if you’re so inclined.  There’s something here for everyone…

via Daily Prompt: Astonish

What Your Google Searches Say About You

(I hadn’t planned on writing anything for the website today, but I wanted to crank out a quick one before getting back to work.)

I had some very important research to do today and turned to my old friend, Google.  Here’s the list:

“How long do hard boiled eggs last in the refrigerator”

(Answer: 1 week.  What?!  I had no idea.)

“Ensure or insure”

(Answer: mostly both, sometimes neither)


(Answer: deadline tomorrow)

“Man who claimed he has never eaten an olive”

(Answer: never figured it out.  Just a bunch of crap about the Olive Garden and Tom Brady’s claim to have never eaten a strawberry.  Oh well, I’ll wing it like usual.)

“iphone do not disturb contact”

(Answer: under messenger, click ‘I’, enable “Hide Alerts”.  Please don’t ask.)

“Florida Lottery”

(Answer: better keep writing.)

Yes, I know.  I live an interesting and full life.  Got me to wondering, though, what a list like that says about a person.  Love to hear some of the ridiculous things you’ve been searching for lately.  If only so I no longer think I’m the only nut-job out there.

Comments, thoughts, or the answer to the olive thing below…

via Daily Prompt: Crank

Liebster Awards All Around

The highest compliments one can get are those from the people who do the same type of work as you. It is special because they understand the commitment, hard work, and dedication it takes to produce something worthwhile. That they take the time to give recognition is extremely flattering.  That’s why I was honored to find out my site was nominated for a 2018 Liebster Award by The Pensieve.

If you haven’t heard of it, the Liebster Award is an “award” given to bloggers by other bloggers for fun and in recognition of a post or overall blog that they enjoyed.  (Ties into that whole “highest compliments” bit rather nicely, doesn’t it?)  It’s also a great way to find new blogs to add to your reader. I was both surprised and honored to learn of my nomination and cannot express my gratitude enough. I highly recommend checking out The Pensieve as there are some great posts to be read there.

Rules are Rules

As per the official rules of the award, here I am to post what makes me passionate about blogging. It’s quite a simple answer, one that many of my fellow bloggers will no doubt relate to: I love writing. It’s what motivates me to wake up in the morning. It’s also what gives me a fair number of sleepless nights.

One of the better writing habits I’ve picked up over the years is to write little pieces that have absolutely nothing to do with the project I’m currently working on. They exist with the sole purpose of keeping my fingers moving. Sometimes I just need a little time to let an idea or plot point simmer a while longer. Or perhaps I need some distance from a draft that is mired in the editing phase. (Okay, I’ll admit it – sometimes I’m just procrastinating and need a break. There, I said it.) So I write short, mostly nonsensical pieces for fun. They give me a nice, low pressure distraction and help keep my work fresh.

I decided to create a website to give these little stories a place to live other than the “Misc” folder on my hard drive. (And it’s nice to have a web address to list on mini-bio’s.) And so while they were never written with the intent to publish anywhere (which ought to be evident by the general content and complete lack of editing), they are just as important to me as anything else I write. I couldn’t create the stories I write without them.

My Liebster Award Nominees!

Anyway, I write fiction because I like talking about others and not myself. So here is where this gets fun for me.

Something I hadn’t expected while building my site was the discovery of the amazing content that’s out there in the blogging community. There are many very talented writers and artists who put themselves and their work out there every day.  I very much admire the creativity and enjoy reading the thoughts and ideas of others.

Although I know sometimes a blog starts with fire and determination only to quickly burn out and fade away, my Liebster Award nominees are a few that I hope stick around for a good long while:

Tokens of Expression

  • Love thyself?  Then you’ll love what you read over at Aieshi’s website. Probably the nicest layout I’ve seen in a while. I should steal it.

Merchant Writes Again

  • A blog created by a very talented writer who has written some excellent stories.  It’s not easy painting a vivid picture with so few words, but he pulls it off.  Furthermore, anyone whose blog header reads “My pen loves gossiping to paper about my imagination’s secrets.” deserves an award.


  • What do I know about poetry? Well, I know what I like. And there’s plenty to like here. Go read some.

Andi Writes About…

  • Andi is writing to write because that’s what Andi loves to do. Doesn’t get much better than that. Go have a look at what Andi’s up to and give her a follow so she keeps at it.

Reverse Science

  • This is a great science-themed website.  I love reading thought-provoking posts about the universe we live in.  If you do as well, this is a great blog to follow.


Ten Random and Completely Useless Facts About Me:

As I mentioned, rules are rules.  This is part of them so here we go.  Don’t say I’m not a sport…

  1. I have lived in Florida for years.  Yes it is hot.  Yes there are crazy people everywhere.  Please don’t move here.
  2. I play the bass guitar poorly, but what I lack in talent I make up for with volume.  I have mastered a few songs that the local stray cats really seem to relate to.
  3. I do not own any pets, but I do own two children who sometimes act like pets.
  4. I am ambidextrous and believe it’s a learned talent.  Anything can be mastered with practice.  Except, apparently, playing the bass guitar.
  5. I am a pilot.  It’s safer up there then on the roads with all the nuts down here.
  6. I have literally just discovered The Game of Thrones and am binge-watching it like hell.  It took me six years to discover Lost and The Sopranos, so this should come as no surprise to anyone.
  7. I’ll take a good book over a great movie anytime.
  8. I am what most would consider tall but cannot shoot a basketball for the life of me.
  9. I am the type that finds it very difficult to list ten random facts about myself.
  10. Did I mention that I live in Florida?

The Liebster Award Rules:

(These are direct from the official website so you can cut and paste as I have.)

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, or you chose to start a blog post about the Liebster award; you should do the following:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. For the 2018 Liebster Award, I will be shaking things up! Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting.

4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself. (Again this year I’m making this optional. If you wish to engage with your readers it’s a great idea to include random facts about you.)

5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel would enjoy blogging about this award the award.

6. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here or simply link to this post.)

7. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.

via The Daily Prompt



New Story, Same Old Story

Well, I’ve done it again. After countless rewrites and having received a blessing from my professional, often angry beta reading group, I have once again released a little white dove of fiction into the skies of a cruel, cruel world. You’re own your own now, buddy, best of luck. Gonna need it out there.

I suppose my process is the same as any other author. When a story is finished, or at least as finished as it’s going to be, I choose the top five publications that I think would be the best fit for it. It usually depends on the genre, the theme, and the reach of the publication. I especially like the ones that are picky and have intimidating submission guidelines. Because when they respond with a ‘yes’, you know your story will be in good company. I then spend the next twenty minutes formatting to the guidelines, writing brief introductions, and trying to thwart off my brain from finally convincing me of what a horrid writer I really am. It’s a fun life.

But my website isn’t about the follies of a writer. You can read that almost anywhere else, so I’d rather stick to what this website was meant to be. Namely, a place to post those silly little articles that I write to give myself a distraction from what I consider my “serious” work. They’re nonsense, I know. But fun to write and, hopefully, fun to read. They keep my fiction fresh and my fingers moving. If they entertain anyone to boot, that’s just a bonus.  (If this is the first post of mine you’ve ever read, have a look around, won’t you?  They get better, if by ‘better’ you mean different than this one.)

I don’t know what the proper percentage of likes-to-impressions (or it is impressions-to-likes?) ratio is on WordPress. In advertising, I know ten percent is a nice place to be. Same with YouTube, I think. But for a blog, I have no idea. My website is new, so I don’t get a lot of views yet. I guess that takes time. The good news, however, is that I have 5 likes on the articles from a pool of around 10 total views. (The other 150 views are me trying to fix mistakes and don’t really count.) Based on my advanced mathematical calculation abilities, that means half of the readers, who by some small miracle have mistakenly landed on my website, have poor taste in literature and a background devoid of culture. And, as I tell myself while stressing over the data, the other half probably meant to click like and just forgot. Probably too awestruck by what they read.

Suffice to say, I probably need to do something about the number of readers that come here. I think my best bet will be to start advertising it. Not pay for spots, but rather make sure it gets mentioned in the byline of every piece someone else publishes from now on. Missed opportunities, there. But, as I tell my children, the only problems you really have in life are the ones you do nothing about. As far as I can tell, that little number has fallen on deaf ears. But we’ve got time yet.

I should also make sure I don’t insult the people who click like on my articles, huh? I believe that those who appreciate humor are most likely to have a sense of one. So rather take offense, they probably chuckled at the slight. I hope.

And, of course, the word ‘hope’ brings me back to my little white dove. Surely one of my top five will pick it up. And, no, I won’t tell you which ones so I don’t look like a complete ass if they don’t. But rest assured, as soon as it gets picked up, I’ll be sure to post the good news here. Maybe even Twitter.

(That last line was just a way for me to easily segue into promoting my Twitter handle – /paulkardos Tricky, right?)

For the rest, don’t fret. More nonsense to come again next week. Until then, feel free to click ‘like’ below. Makes me feel better.

I have faith in you. You can do this!


via Daily Prompt: Thwart