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Amazon and CreateSpace: the Good and the Bad & Ugly

Published on 2012/12/04 by in Writing

The newest Fortune magazine features Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, as the 2012 businessperson of the year. Jeff, it turns out, has built his business by being customer oriented. “We innovate,” he says, “by starting with the customer and working backwards.” In this way he has revolutionized the book publishing business. His board meetings are legendary. Before discussions can begin, the executive team takes as long as 30 minutes to read a six-page printed memo in silence. I like Amazon. As a Prime member, I take advantage of free shipping, quick

 
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A Thanksgiving Eulogy

  My father is in heaven. He died four years ago, shortly after turning 80. For his last 20 years, he was a traveling preacher, known in the Plymouth Brethren fellowship as a “laboring brother.” Because of him, our family gathers at Thanksgiving instead of at Christmas, because Christmas trees come from pagan worship, because Jesus wasn’t born in December, and because God would never approve of such blasphemies as drunken parties to honor the birth of His only Son. And so this week I’ll travel to my eldest sister’s

 
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Give Obama a Chance

Published on 2012/11/12 by in Election

The joke goes like this: A guy jumps off the top of the Empire State Building. A woman in a 74th floor apartment has her window open. As the jumper plummets by, she hears him remark, “So far, so good.” I thought of this joke recently, when the US economy improved and the unemployment rate fell below 8% for the first time in Obama’s presidency, forcing Governor Romney to abandon his favorite attack—that Obama’s unemployment rate had never been below 8%—and pivot to saying the rate was now the same

 
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20-20 Hindsight

Last night the American people elected President Obama to a second term. I watched on CNN, until I fell asleep waiting for Florida. When I awoke this morning, Florida was still undecided, but it no longer mattered. Today, Barry Eisler, a novelist I follow on Twitter, retweeted an @froomkin tweet with a link to a blog by Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow for Media Matters. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/TuhXjb Boehlert discusses pundits who got it wrong, who “misread the campaign through partisan eyes.” He writes, “It was fascinating to watch because these

 
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Coons Catching Chickens

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to a 300-page book, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. This story we also offer as a live prison recording. Enjoy! When I was first a fugitive in Missouri, before I got married, I worked at the chicken plant. For a while I lived in a homemade camper I built in the bed of a

 
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The Business of Writing

Published on 2012/10/26 by in Writing

Yesterday I published a book on Amazon. Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer. So I guess that makes me a writer. But really, I’m a businessman. Anyway, as a new writer, I made a discovery the other day, when I went to an Orlando diner and ordered eggs Benedict. “Good choice,” the waitress said as she scribbled on her order pad. “And to drink?” “Coffee, black.” I opened my Kindle Fire to read. “You’re always reading,” she said. “Yeah, but this time it’s my own book.” I grinned at her.

 
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A Zealot in the Fog

I wrote this very long poem in a prison cell in Menard on deadlock. I was thinking of my family’s regular Sunday drive from Mosinee, WI to Rockford, IL, 200 miles. One Sunday morning, a misty rain froze on the pavement, making driving treacherous. We made the trip anyway, and I remember Becky leaning over the front seat as she liked to do, her long pigtails dangling on the seatback, asking why we did such a crazy thing. This poem is a ballad filled with allusions to scripture and to the doctrines of that

 
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Quotes on Writing

Published on 2012/08/29 by in Writing

This morning I came across a quote I liked in Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing. Discussing the need for a writer to bare his soul, he quoted writer Red Smith, who said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Over the years, when I’ve come across quotes that resonated with me from my reading, I’ve marked them for later inclusion in my file of quotations. So, for today’s blog–and specifically on the subject of writing–here are some quotes from my reading, in no particular order.

 
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The Clever Fox

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to 370, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. Enjoy! “I was in a tree stand, watching the deer hunters walk through a field toward me. You climb a tree so the deer can’t smell or see you there – they don’t look up. I was point man for the hunting party. Ten men in a line

 
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This I Believe

Published on 2012/07/27 by in Justice

Today my niece, Paula, who blogs for True Woman, a Christian ministry, referred to my 30-year-old case in her well-written blog (in case you can’t tell, I’m proud of her). She referred to something I told her recently, that my doubting of my former faith began with a comment made to me by a member of our Christian fellowship during the wake of my wife and three children. He had said to me, “God must have some great work for you to do!” The following scene is from my upcoming book,

 
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