I bought my first e-book. So why do I feel so guilty?

Because I succumbed to the pleasure of immediacy instead of getting off my duff, getting dressed, getting in my car—putting gas in my car—driving to the local B&N, finding a place to park, searching through the shelves for what I wanted, standing in line, paying for my purchase, and driving back home.

The thing is, I love paper. I believe a tree’s greatest accomplishment in life is to become a book, next to sheltering the woodland creatures and producing oxygen of course. There’s nothing like being the first to crack the spine of a good book. And rows and rows of them at the library or in a bookstore? Be still my heart. Besides, think of all the good folks who keep their jobs when you buy a book from the bookstore. Economic stimulus!

But man I’ve got an I-Pad now and it is too cool for words and you can get virtually (pun intended) any book you want downloaded from Amazon in 30, count them 30 seconds and I don’t even have to pay for shipping and handling thank you very much.

Yep, my feelings of remorse were short-lived.

So what e-book did I get? The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which is somewhat ironic don’t you think? In his postapocalyptic (try saying that word 5x fast without spitting) future there’s no electricity or battery power left to run the equipment to read the books. You want to read? You have to find the remnants of a paper past. Gives you pause doesn’t it?

The big question is, will I do it again? Yes. I’m sorry. I will. But if it’s any consolation, I regard my E-books as a test drive only.

If I don’t love it, I have 30 seconds of buyer’s remorse before I obliterate those electrons with a keystroke. This is true liberation since I cannot bring myself to destroy real books, can’t even throw them into the recycle bin. Even if I hated reading them, I’ll give them away instead.

If I love it, I’m sure to buy the real thing and add it to my collection. You know that collection, the one that sits on shelves, makes stacks on the desk and collects dust-bunnies under the bed.

Photo credit Iqoncept

1st Year Anniversary

dreamstime_10078622.jpg Photo credit © Cosmin – Constantin Sava

Last year, while on vacation digging holes with my kids at the beach, I considered writing a blog. The conversation went something like this:

Son to mom, “You’ve finished writing your book– whatcha gonna do now?”

Mom to son, “I was thinking about starting a blog.”

Son to mom, “Oh, I thought we could go to Disney World or something.”

We haven’t made it to Disney World yet, it’s on the to do list, but I did start a blog, and this week is its one year anniversary. A lot has happened in a year and for some reason after age sixteen, the years seem to speed along at an exponential rate. Before sixteen, they crawl along like this guy. But these days, blink it’s Christmas again, blink, you have a domain name, blink–blink, you’re a year older, and yes I agree, it’s completely not fair that at a “certain age” zits and wrinkles overlap. Like I said, a lot has happened this year.

So in celebration of the one year anniversary of the Blog for the Morbidly Thoughtful, I share with you one of my favorite discoveries from the past 12 months:


Whoever the Wrigley chemist is who concocted this scrumptious flavor festival, I love you.

What American Idol Taught Me About Writing



I watch American Idol. There. I’ve said it. I’ll even go one step further. I enjoy watching American Idol. In fact, American Idol has taught me something about writing. Five things to be exact. . .

1. The Audition

(you need at least one person in your life who will tell you when you suck)

“That was terrible.” I thought it. You thought it. Randy Jackson said it. Shouldn’t that auditioner have gotten that particular piece of feedback before singing in front of 40+ million people?

The same thing goes with writing. Before I put it out there, I want it to be the best it can be. I want my mother, my husband and my best friend to tell me when to keep it in the drawer. When I write poorly, I want someone to tell me, so I can either spare readers from future pain or go and get some training, practice, and get better. When I hear bad auditions on AI, and yes, some of us are drawn to them like slowing down for car wrecks, I wish those singers had someone in their corner who would have said, “Don’t.”

2. The Work

(it’s not as easy as it looks)

Rehearse vocals, shoot a Ford music video, run through choreography, consult stylists and coaches, participate in an interview, perform live, endure public criticism . . . that’s the week by week schedule during the show. But what about the pre-idol work? The work it took to get there?

Crystal Bowersox, last year’s second place winner, started performing professionally at the age of 10, wrote her own songs at the Toledo School for the Arts, and performed in Chicago’s local clubs in various bands starting at age 17.

Scotty McCreery who won AI last week, learned how to play the guitar when he was ten, sang at his middle school graduation, and while in highschool, performed in a national touring vocal ensemble.

How many writers do you know who tell you they’ve been writing since they were children? They write every day. They have a trunk, a filing cabinet, a flash drive filled with work. Because that’s what it takes: work. Maybe less than the 10,000 hours Malcom Gladwell suggests in his book Outliers, maybe more for some of us, but work just the same.

3. The Risk

(you have to put yourself out there)

Beyond the successful audition, to be a successful singer you have to push yourself. It means a singer must take risks to differentiate himself from his competitors. Those that rise to the top have managed to be unique, yet not alienate their audience.

Insert the word “query” for “audition” and “writer” for “singer.” See what I mean?

4. The Voice

(if you want to know where to focus your efforts, this would be the place)

It isn’t unusual for over 10,000 people to show up per city, per season, to audition for AI. The candidates will dress (or undress) in all manner of eye-catching wonderment with the hope they’ll get some attention. But just as grandmom told you—it’s what’s inside that counts.

Wearing feathers may get you past the first round–it is television after all, but eventually, it’s the quality of your voice that propels you forward.

Close to 130 million books have been published (this according to Leonid Taycher, software engineer at Google Books) and sure, an eye-catching cover might get a reader to look at yours. But if you want people to read beyond the first page, the first paragraph, and the first line, you have to capture them with something special: the sound of your own voice.

5. The Winner

(people vote with their dollars)

In the end, it doesn’t matter who wins AI. What matters is will their music sell? Chris Daughtry came in 4th place in season 5 and his first album went quadruple platinum. Jennifer Hudson came in 7th place in season 3: a gold grammy-winning album and a gold-plated oscar followed.

Talent? Yes. Effort? Obviously. Luck? You bet. But ultimately . . . will you buy the album? The same measure holds true for writers and their writing, in the end, will you buy the book?

Photo credit © Viorel Dudau/