Ramblings, Reality and Baseball

Without a doubt, I break creative writing rules. The main reason I break those rules is that I don’t know any better. Rule breaking is often associated with rebellion, but it also can be a result of ignorance. Point of View in a fiction book can be first, second or third person. Most of my books get this whole thing kind of muddled. Mixing POV is a no-no and would result in my writing getting a bad grade from my writing professor. Here’s the key to understanding why I do this, I don’t care.

What is a novel?  It’s a story.  My books tell a story about flawed characters involved in a mystery, usually involving a murder.  Is there a specific book of rules for this storytelling?  Yes, and no.  The objective, however, is clear.  It is to tell the story in a way that communicates to the reader what the author wants communicated.  That sounds to me like there are no rules.

Very smart authors, not saying I’m one of those, often break the “traditional” rules as an expression of independence and creativity.  So if you know the rules and break them deliberately that is okay; but if you just don’t follow the rules because you don’t want to—that’s bad.

You may be wondering why this is on my mind?  It has been suggested by someone who knows the rules that I should try writing from a slightly different approach.  I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided I should just stick with what I’m doing.  The reason is not that this advice is bad; it’s just not me.  My stories have a certain feel and flow.  Maybe a simple style or a simple author?  The most frequent comment I get from readers is that my books are easy to read.  There was a time that for some reason I was not sure that was a good thing.  But I have come to the conclusion that is a very good thing.  I want the reading of my books to be easy and enjoyable—not a challenge and laborious.  So, like my flawed characters, I will just keep doin’ what I’m doin’.

Lots of grumbling in the indie book world about changes Amazon made to emphasize paid ad space on book pages. Those changes have apparently resulted in lower sales for some of the big boys of the indie book market. The sellers of indie books are very susceptible to the whims of Amazon, and how they are completely focused on their profitability –not the authors’ revenue. As it should be. Amazon had a big hand in creating the boom in indie authors and e-books, but they are a web site focused on one thing –their success. If that matches with the authors success, so be it; but they are out for themselves. Why that seems to surprise some authors is beyond me. That is exactly what they should be doing.

During my years advising business people on selling their businesses, there was one model that consistently had buyer interest. It was the reoccurring revenue model where no one customer represented any significant portion of the business. Such as residential garbage collection. Two industries I worked in a lot that had those characteristics were propane and billboards.

Amazon has many of those same characteristics only on a scale never seen before.  Does any single customer mean anything to Amazon?  Of course not.  If you could talk to a human (most likely you can’t) at Amazon to complain about something and threaten to take your business somewhere else, they would say adios.  The collection of all customers matter but not any small number; much less just one.  Same with vendors.  Amazon owns the largest market place on the planet.  If you want your product to be in that market place, you will abide by their rules.  If you don’t; once again—adios.

Many indie authors exist only because of Amazon and many will disappear because of Amazon.  Amazon pays good royalties to authors for e-books; but it could be some day in the future they look at the number of books they have available (a billion, ten billion?) and decide why pay royalties for new books when the supply is too large already.  Good-by indie author.  Remember it’s their web site, and they can do what they want.

Audio books are becoming a larger share of the book market.  A long time ago I decided to get into the audio book segment.  It has not gone according to plan.  I still think will have a Santa Fe Mojo audio book sometime soon (yeah, no reason to believe that).  If not soon, will probably regroup and try again—maybe go with Dog Gone Lies next time. 

Not to be too crass, my goal with my writing is to make some money.  While art for art’s sake may be noble it is not very profitable.  The audio books are a total unknown to me as far as sales and profitability.  If I can see a path to some profits, I will have a lot more audio books available.  If no profits, probably not going down that path. 

I’m a baseball fan.   My team’s the Colorado Rockies.  The current sign stealing scandal is very ugly and before it’s over, will involve some bad things happening to players.  MLB can punish managers and owners, but until they do something to the players, this will not end.

Cheating has always gone on in baseball, even by the pitchers who will claim to be the most harmed in this latest case; but this seems as bad as it gets.  This was a whole team, including managers.  For maybe naïve reasons I was surprised someone had not blown the whistle long before now.

Being a fan of a losing team does have advantages.  Kind of hard to believe the Rockies were cheating, considering the results, unless they are also very bad at cheating.  I think many fans of other teams are not going to give a warm welcome to these cheaters during the season. 

Thanks for being a reader!

My Creative Career

Most of my life has been as a businessman, not a writer.  My first love was art.  Even in college my desire was to be an artist.  I was a creative person who desired a career doing just that—being creative.  Like a lot of people, those first impulses didn’t work out.  I needed to make a living and someone said CPAs made a lot of money—so why not.  It’s only my life we’re talking about.  What could be wrong with being stuck at a desk the rest of your life crunching numbers?  The answer, of course, was a lot.

What does it mean to be creative?  When I was painting, it meant creating an image of something that was unique, or interesting, or appealing or something?  If my painting of a tree looked just like the tree, was that creative?  How about just taking a photo of the tree, was that creative.  I think my art career never happened because I struggled with images that were not unique.  I wanted to paint a tree that didn’t look like a tree, but was the essence of the tree.  Even I didn’t understand what that meant. 

Okay, forget the tree, I will become a creative accountant.  Of course the first unique image that popped into my head was a jail cell for being a too creative accountant —not a good image.  I dropped the creative part and spent a good deal of time just becoming a good accountant.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I enjoyed numbers and seemed to have a talent for crunching them.  I achieved a level of success that was rewarding, but not fulfilling.

Prior to becoming an accountant, I had been self-employed in several endeavors.  From food service to retail, I had owned my own businesses.  I had some success and also experienced failure, but during this time I realized I enjoyed business.  It was like a puzzle.  Lots of pieces to move around and try to figure out how they all fit together to generate sales and a profit.  Not every day, but on many it actually felt creative.

Next came my period of working for giant corporations which was not so creative.  Mostly what I learned from that experience was lots of nuts and bolts accounting and that most top executives were assholes.  Maybe that MBA stood for something else?  Most of the successful people I met had one thing in common, they were bullies.  There were, of course, exceptions but by far the most practiced management style was intimidation.  The age I’m talking about was total alpha male domination, so that might have been the reason; but being kind, considerate, thoughtful or even deceit were traits honored at home and abandoned at work.  The world is still full of those people; be very cautious.

After the big company nonsense, I found much greater joy and success working for myself and several smaller companies.  The biggest difference, other than the people seemed more human, was the appreciation of creativity.  Innovation is the life-blood of smaller businesses.  I’ve always been an idea-guy and eager to share opinions.  My biggest business successes were with companies that appreciated the innovation and my willingness to try new ideas.  At this point in my life I had the right combination of experience, knowledge and guts to try things others wouldn’t—it failed on occasion and succeeded every once in a while.  In many ways I had solved the business puzzle.

Now, I write fiction books.  Writing is obviously creative—I’m making stuff up; can’t get much more creative than that.  I enjoy the process of thinking about the story, the characters and devising the plot twists with subtle hints.  But what is not fun; is the business of writing.  As an indie author I have complete control over every aspect of what I do.  Or said another way, I have almost no help in doing what I do.  This is not the writing part, have lots of help with editors and designers; this is the business side.  Selling the books, planning marketing, making a profit. 

You would think with my business background this would be a snap.  It’s not.  The main reason is that it is very limited.  There are some variables, but mostly the decisions are; do you go exclusive with Amazon or more broadly with a few others?  Do you sell your books at x or 2x?  Do you have free books?  Do you advertise on Amazon, Bookbub, Facebook or others?

I’ve been doing this for years now; and I’ve tried most everything at least once.  None of it works really well.  Ads are expensive and the return is questionable.  Free books generate interest, but it is hard to make much money from free.  You can go wide and thumb your nose at Amazon, but probably it costs you sales; still tempting.  So-called experts, usually selling something, say develop your brand; establish your presence on social media—no doubt it helps, but only a little.  Most people advising indie authors are making a lot more money than the indie authors.  The real advice might be find a market niche full of desperate people and sell than advice like “try harder.”

It is a new year and time to stop whining and do something different.  Be creative.  Be innovative.  Okay, I’m willing; but not sure what that is?

I’m afraid the indie author phenomena powered by e-books and Amazon has created a creative glut of decent books that nobody knows about.  Maybe even great books that go unread; because there are literally tons of books available and not enough time to read a small fraction of that quantity.   

Maybe it’s time to pull out the paint and brushes and create a tree that looks just like a tree but isn’t and suffer in silence.

Plan B-Billionaire Special

This original art is for sell for $7,500,000.  I’m going with the concept of only needing one really rich dumb ass and life will be great.  It’s a very creative concept!

Thanks for being a reader!

2019 Best Sellers

The highest selling book in 2019 was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  Since its release in 2018, this book has sold millions.  #1 best seller.  As an indie author I can’t even imagine that kind of success; I work mostly in the thousands territory not millions. 

On Amazon it has 30,000 reader reviews with an average rating of 4.8—this book is loved.  There is no question the majority of reviews are excellent; but there are a lot of reviews (300 or more) by people who hate the book.  These are people who knew the story, knew the rave reviews and paid a substantial sum to purchase the book (no free book days for this baby) and yet, they hated it.

A couple of actual reviews:

1.0 out of 5 stars Too unrealistic to enjoy

I was very disappointed in this book after reading all the hype about it. While the reading is good, the story is so nonsensical- a 6 year old left alone in a shack raises herself, living in the same shack, using the same boat, and no one lifts a hand to help her? In more than 20 years, the boat never breaks down, the house doesn’t need repairs and she’s able to wear the same clothes for many years….she’s got long hair that she says is ratty and tangled but description s of it has it down her back, luxurious…she’s gorgeous but bathing is optional until in her 20s…she has sex with a philanderer but never gets a vd and not once apparently does she get sick. No flu, cold, nothing….she never got shots and apparently has the immune system of a super hero because she stepped on a nail and never got tetanus….I kept reading so I’d finish and the ending is unexpected but it’s generally a boring book where day after day, she’s alone in the marsh….

1.0 out of 5 stars Did I read the same book as others?

Format: Hardcover Verified

About half this book was good. Beautifully written at times, and with an interesting, plausible story. But wait…the gaps …Maybe less time talking about Kya fumbling around with sex with Chase and more time on her development as a renowned author and painter would have been nice. There’s more, but you may be reading the book. I must comment though on the most ridiculous court room antics since Curly’s trial in a Three Stooges short. Oh, I think I just did. (And just after reading a book on Harper Lee – if you know what I mean). This was one of the most disappointing books I have read in quite a long time. Sorry Ms. Witherspoon. Can I get my money back if I return the book?

1,665 people found this helpful

It seems to me that books that sell a ton are often hyped by famous people.  In this book’s case, Reese Witherspoon was a strong force in promoting this book.  Nothing wrong with that—would love to have Witherspoon talking about my books (unless it was bad).  And the other factor is that it is published by one of the major publishing companies.  My point is not that the book, the author and publisher don’t deserve their success—they do; it is that even the most successful, beloved book of the year is hated by hundreds of readers.

Reviews are opinions.  So why is it surprising that some number of readers don’t like a book—it isn’t.  Most of my bad reviews are for language.  Some readers are offended by language and seem to feel a need to warn others of the offensive words.  Crawdads uses some of those same words, but the bad reviews are more focused on the story and not the language.  A relatively small number of reviews as a percentage are bad but many, many people found those reviews helpful.  I know when I’m buying a new leaf blower the reviews I read first are the bad ones—tell me what went wrong!  Guess it’s the same with books –give me the bad stuff and I will avoid this by most accounts great book?

Reader reviews are a sore point with me.  I think I take them too personally; but it is hard not to.  As part of my new year “I will be better program,” I have promised myself I will not read the bad reviews of my books.  Of course I know I will not keep that resolution for more than a few weeks, and I will be back reading the reviews with a strange focus on the bad ones.

In case you were wondering below is the list of the twenty top selling books for 2019 and the number sold. 

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens—907,192
  2. Becoming by Michelle Obama—888,611
  3. Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by Dav Pilkey—524,849
  4. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis—505,809
  5. Diary of An Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney—493,154
  6. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis—490,019
  7. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss—483,478
  8. Educated by Tara Westover—454,989
  9. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris—365,246
  10. The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith—272,182
  11. Unfreedom of the Press by Mark R. Levin—267,751
  12. Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern—265,295
  13. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero—250,048
  14. The Mueller Report by the Washington Post—243,007
  15. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss—237,239
  16. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath—235,821
  17. It’s Not Supposed to To Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst—232,932
  18. The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney—231,149
  19. The Woman In the Window by A. J. Finn—230,098
  20. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo—229,730
Thanks for being a reader!
My Best Seller!

Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Since?)

The new year is about beginnings; and maybe endings.  Who hasn’t said “okay, this next year is going to be different (or better, or happier, or more successful, or thinner, or……..).  As most of us can attest that usually doesn’t work out.  But still, it is a symbolic new beginning.  So what’s new this year?

My writing has slowed to a crawl.  This is not uncommon for me as the old year ends.  Usually starting around Thanksgiving, it seems my focus goes astray and my writing stops.  That was not my plan this year.  I was chugging along on Durango Two Step but some mystic force turned my brain to mush and everything stopped.  So even though I was trying not to; my old habits kicked in.

I’m sure in January I will get back to pounding the keys and moving the story along.  DTS is going to tie up a lot of loose ends for Vincent; and I’m sure he is anxious to get that done.  Plans after DTS are a little vague.

Many of you are probably familiar with a project I started and stopped; Doctor Hightower.  This was going to be a mystery but also a little Sci-fi tacked on.  I know, not exactly my thing but the concept has great appeal to me.  Got about a third into the book and hit one of my on-going mental blocks.  I’m sure that says something important I should pay attention to; but I just ignore these hang-ups and move on to the next project (or take more naps).

My current plan for 2020 involves finishing DTS (which is the 4th Vincent Malone book), finish the first Doctor Hightower book, and begin the 5th Vincent Malone book.  Of course, like most long-term plans all is subject to change, or stated more correctly; this will change.

If you are a reader of my books you know that I more or less ended the Pacheco and Chino series.  I’ve been pleased that several of you are not happy with that situation.  I still think the story line had reached kind of a natural end for Ray Pacheco.  Not going to revive that series (at least I don’t think so); but have been thinking about a new series with only Tyee Chino and a new partner.  I will keep you informed as this starts to take shape.

Should have the Santa Fe Mojo audio book available in the first part of 2020.  This has been an unusual odyssey.  Lots of starts and stops that have caused this to extend beyond anything anyone imagined.  If I knew all of the details, it probably would make for an interesting story—but most of this has been out of my hands.  The people working on this have had a lot of other complications that have caused significant delays.  I still believe the end product will be a quality production.  I’m looking forward to a completed book and evaluating whether or not there will be more audio books in the future.

My blog and newsletter are important ways for me to communicate with interested readers.  I really do appreciate everyone who has signed up.  The timing and schedule for these will be the same in 2020.  The blog will be weekly on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  The varied days just has to do with my schedule and giving me some flexibility.  I think last year it was mostly Saturday but will stick with one of those days each week.  The newsletter is monthly and goes out on or about the 15th of each month.

The newsletter has a fairly established format.  Usually with two articles written by me.  One of those covering writing, or my books or something related to indie authors in general.   Also I usually cover a location that is featured in the books or will be featured.  This includes food, restaurants, points of interest or specifics related to my writing.  Most months will have an artist or author article highlighting someone I recommend or admire.  And, of course, an update on my projects and often a favorite recipe.  When you sign up, this newsletter is emailed to you each month.  You can also access old newsletters going back several years.

This weekly blog is a little different animal in that it can be about anything.  My focus will still be writing, my books, indie authors, characters and all things related to writing and marketing fiction books.  However, from time to time this blog will take off in new directions in ways that I can’t predict; but hopefully are interesting. 

2020 stands to be an intriguing year.  The US Presidential election should dominate much of our news.  Hopefully we don’t split ourselves apart any further as we pick a President.  I’m a sports fan so there will be lots of new and fascinating sports stories; full of drama and intrigue with little if any consequences to our real world (drama without consequences—what could be better).  We will all get older—if you’re very young that is usually good; for the rest of us, not so good.  Hopefully mankind does not make the world a worse place, and we can all feel better about our planet and ourselves at the end of 2020. 

Happy New Year Everyone!

I want to encourage all of you to continue being readers—not just my stuff; but all things.  Books are not our only source of insights but they often convey a depth that is missing in much of the other forms of entertainment.

  Thanks again for being a reader!

The Allure of Power

This is not a political blog—it’s about writing, fictional books and other stuff.  But I guess politics could be in “other stuff.”  A definition of politics, “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” 

Rather than sink to the depths of turning this blog into a political battle, maybe I should just talk about power.  The need for power is everywhere.  What does that mean.  Is power money, dominance over others, sex or something else.  Most of my writing centers on the abuses of power.  Murder would be the ultimate power grab—taking a life is the gravest abuse of power.  But also I have written about political power, law enforcement power, personal power over another and the more benign power of friendship. 

Why do humans seek this power?  The answer in my books is mostly due to money and sex.  That focus emphasizes power as strength or dominance.  Controlling someone else or a group is power.  The money and sex part may be just about measuring where you rank.  With that in mind, power is achieving the highest rank or status.  I’m King and I have the most power; therefore, I’m the best, the most important.  Okay there is some logic in that, and we sure can see the pattern that plays out in history and in our current politics; being a winner is achieving the highest level of status.  But what does that get you?  Money?  Sure.  Sex?  No doubt.  It still seems odd to me that while that may be enough to fight so hard for; it doesn’t really answer the question of why do humans seek power.

When I’m writing I spend a great deal of time trying to understand the motivations of my characters.  The main characters often fit the most obvious patterns of power seekers.  They often are flawed people trying to achieve a level of success to offset a history of failure.  They seek power as a way to achieve self-esteem.  I must be a good person I have all of this power.  Usually they are flawed because that is probably the wrong goal.  Power does not make you a good person.

The characters that I find the most interesting are often the secondary characters.  Seldom do they have power.  They live in the shadows but provide important support to the power seeker.  But why are they not power seekers.  I have struggled with that contradiction.  The human condition seems to be trying to achieve the highest status; but not everyone does that, why?

Politics by its definition is about power.  Power, or at least the acquisition of that power, seems to allow people of all stripes to decide that the means of obtaining and keeping power is justified by some sort of desired outcome.  Sure I can be dishonest, mean, deceptive but once I start to govern you will see the benefit of all of my shenanigans. 

Those secondary, support characters don’t seem to believe that the ends justify the means.  Most of my secondary characters have a more centered moral position.  They may (and often are) not the best people, but they seem to know who they are and have their own set of values.  It has often occurred to me as I’m writing that the strongest characters in my books are not the main ones but the minor, support characters. 

From this self-analysis I have concluded that the weakest people are the ones who need the most power.  Stronger individuals can forgo power because they have something else—self-confidence.  That is obviously a generalized statement; and, of course, it is about my fictional characters, so maybe it is just hooey.  Maybe?

Back to politics.  Would that mean the most aggressive, self-assured politicians seeking power are the weakest members of our society?  Does power attract the neediest?

When I was in college—oh so long ago; I was involved in a Philosophy class project where we decided what would be the best form of government.  Lots of silly discussions.  One of the smartest people in the room proposed that leadership of government should not be in the hands of one person; such as a President, but rather should be a tribunal.  Three leaders with one up for election every two years.  One of the reasons for this structure was to attract the best, most civic minded among us.  Whereas our current system of one President attracts the neediest.  Because that structure attracts the power seekers.

In history we can see that power seekers have been our political leaders, religious leaders, kings, Presidents, Generals, scolds, tyrants—all seeking something for themselves while promising everything for others.  In most cases the promise for others was never very believable; but we consistently fall for the con—because we want to believe.  Someday, I’m sure, we will realize that choosing the strongest, loudest, most confident, best looking individuals to lead results in picking the weakest, most incompetent leaders.  By contrast we should choose the most thoughtful, generous, intelligent, humble people as our leaders.  But would anyone with those qualities want to be a leader?

Thanks for being a reader!

Lifetime supply of books?

Books have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They have inspired, entertained and taught me many things about the world and myself.  In my youth, books competed with movies and the very limited television as entertainment; but had no equal when it came to education and self-fulfillment.  Today is an entirely different world.

Yesterday my internet was out for hours, some kind of Comcast problem that was eventually, mysteriously resolved.  That disruption created a sense of being disconnected from the mother ship.  How do we access the thousands of movies and TV shows streaming away as we sit idle?  There are literally more entertainment and educational options available than anyone could possibly watch.  If that is the case, will there be a point in the future when there is no need for anything new.  Of course new will always be alluring, but the reality is, without additional time, the need for new might just go away.

So we have a lifetime supply of books, movies, and TV shows to keep us entertained; why try the new author who may or may not be entertaining, or educational, or even good.  Why risk that time on something that is not known?  I don’t know the answer to that question.

Even now it is hard to break through the clutter.  I read there are something like 2,000 to 4,000 new books published on Amazon every day.  Many of those books are indie books that sell very few copies.  Currently there are almost 50 million books on amazon available for purchase and the number is growing.  Only a very small percentage of these books sell 500 copies.  But that glut of books creates a maze of confusion that complicates the ability to reach readers—so many books so little time.

Due to this problem the free book marketing web sites came into existence.  Bookbub, Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian and many, many more.  These sites advertise to their members/followers for a fee from the authors the availability of free books or heavily discounted books.   They exist because of the thousands and thousands of independent authors who are the majority of their customers who are looking for new readers.  I use these sites to give away free e-books because it works, sort of.  A newly released book gets a lot of attention and will result in follow up sales of the free book and other books by the author—but it is short lived.  So you spend money to advertise your book to an audience that mostly wants free books in hope of what exactly?  That you give away tons of books?  That those free book seekers will actually spend real money and buy your other books?  Yeah, I’m not sure of the reasoning either; but I do it.

Should a reader not accept free books because that does not provide support to the author?  Of course not.  If the author is stupid enough (or wise enough?) to offer free books, the reader should lap them up.  But what is the commitment to a free book?  Nothing?  If you read the first ten pages of the free book and it doesn’t hit you right, would you continue or just move on to the next free book on your device?  If you had paid $25 for a hardback book, you’re going to give that book every chance, not just a glance.

What this comes down to, is I have no idea how to reach readers who might enjoy my books; other than free books or very expensive Amazon advertising.  But even that approach has limited success in the overcrowded book aisle at Amazon. 

Another approach that works great, but I have no control over, is reader recommendation.  This can be on-line reviews or word-of-mouth.  Readers trust other readers not to steer them wrong, and that boosts sales.  But that is about the first reader liking the book; and that hinges on writing.

Okay, everyone knows this; the best way to have success writing books is to write good books.  Amazing revelation! 

I recently revised the Muckraker books; Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final.  Why?  To make them better and to make them more readable.  This can be a painful process for a writer to be critical of one of your masterpieces.  My co-author, Stanley Nelson, was helpful in that regard, occasionally a little too helpful.  We did accomplish our goal—I think the books are better and, hopefully, the reader will agree. 

The promotion for the re-introduction of these books will include, of course, free book days on Amazon.  The Murder So Wrong e-book will be free for download on December 10th, 17th, 21st and January 24th.  If you haven’t read these books give them a try—after all the first one is free.

Thanks for being a reader!

Is there objective truth?

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

We seem to be living in a time when truth itself is subject to interpretation.  My truth is truer than yours.  Just the idea of that deserves a Wow! 

“The idea that all truth is subjective, that there is no objective truth, is a myth. Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.”

“This doesn’t mean we can know every truth, this doesn’t mean that what is true for the observer isn’t unique to the observer. It just means that ultimately, underling that, “that which is the case, is the case, independent of our ability to confirm it” and “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.”  From an article by Thomas DeMichele.

My older brother had an outsized influence on my early years.  One day we were discussing something and he asked me if I had empirical evidence for my statement.  Of course as an ignorant kid I had no idea what empirical meant.  This is pre-Google, so I found a dictionary and looked it up.

“based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”

That made sense to me, the truth is something that you can demonstrate as true because you have verified or observed the evidence of its truth.  “I saw it with my own eyes!”

Fast forward to today and our almost unlimited sources of “information,” “facts,” “eye witness accounts;” and we find ourselves in a world where truth itself is subject to interpretation.  Even though I believe I can see with my own eyes (under the right circumstances) that the world is curved; someone else observes the same thing and says its flat.  We both believe we have observable facts (empirical evidence) of the opposite conclusions. 

Everyone has bias.  Old verses young is a bias.  White people view the world differently than black people.  Republicans live in a different environment than Democrats.  Rich have no idea how the real world looks to the poor.  Religious people see one thing, secularist another.  Everyone has a bias.  Can any of us view empirical evidence without our bias determining the “truth.”  Probably not.

Through much of our history we have relied upon other people to guide us toward the truth; to help us overcome our natural bias.  Priests and preachers have often been our truth tellers; even when we knew much of their truth was not true.  Politicians, leaders have on occasion provided a guide towards the right answer, not so much today.  Scientists have always guided us towards their truth; but today we are suspicious about science because much of it contradicts things we want to believe.  Judges once held a lofty position in our society, but they too are under a dark cloud.  Where do we go to find “real” truth?

Your answer to that question will be based on your bias.  That is a problem.  How do we reach a consensus to what is true if there is not an authority that can establish truth from myth or propaganda?

That search can lead to trusting charlatans because they are very good at scamming people.  Honest people often say they don’t know; the con-man always knows.  The people with absolute assurance that they have the answers are almost always wrong.  So here we are needing a truth teller who is willing to admit that they don’t know the truth all of the time; sounds like a hard sell.

There have been times in my lifetime when we trusted journalist to tell us the truth.  In many ways, that is still the answer.  Our founding fathers thought so and built it into the constitution; with the protected rights of a free press.  But technology and the vastness of communication has worked to create confusion on how the free press does its job; and has gotten entertainment all mixed up with actual fact finding.  Now our bias dictates what press is correct and what is incorrect.  No objective truth, just choices.

I have a real bias toward books as a source of truth; but of course I write fiction (nice word for lies).  But there are authors who have been able to convey truth while telling a story.  Maybe we should read some of those wise men again. 

Technology may be the ultimate solution.  Our national truth computer one day may be able to take all of the facts and sort through the noise and spit out the truth.  Of course many people will not believe the machine, which obviously was built and programed by people with bias.  Even with a truth machine, it will be easier just to live in our own bubble and believe what we want to believe; after all, I am right.

Long live the King!

This is a special Thanksgiving week post replacing the usual weekend timing.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thanks for being a reader!