Something to Say

SS 2: Comics, Superheroes, and Drew Hayes 🎤


In this episode of Something to Say, I talk about my love of comics as a sighted child, accessibility challenges of the genre, the rise of superhero fiction, and recommend the Super Powereds series by Drew Hayes.

The Open Web is a Tool, Not a Silver Bullet


There have been quite a few good pieces written about the growing discontent toward Twitter, FaceBook, and other centralized social networks of late. The best of these, in my opinion, is this one by Brent Simmons. I agree with a lot of the points being made; they are a lot of why I’m spend less time on Twitter these days and more time on But I think a few things are getting lost in the shuffle—or at least, not adequately being discussed or considered.

Many people are talking about how the open web is the solution to the toxicity of social networks. If we own our own content on our own websites and take the power away from the centralized networks like Twitter and FaceBook, the argument goes, things will right themselves. On an Infinite Time Scale™, (apologies to John Siracusa), that may be true, but not in the foreseeable future, and certainly not if we convince ourselves that the open web is a silver bullet. It isn’t.

Ultimately, I think it is unrealistic to think that an open web solves the worst abuses we see on the big social networks. If Twitter and/or FaceBook vanished tomorrow, it would, at least in the foreseeable future, have an unintended consequence of amplifying the voices of the more tech savvy over those who are less so. If we, as a society, fail to recognize that abuse, harassment, and spread of toxic/hateful/false information have, do, and will continue to exist on the open web just as they do on social networks, we are setting ourselves up for a rude awakening. If we do acknowledge this, we can protect against it and build a better and more rewardingly social Internet.

I think that many of those taking a stand and abandoning FaceBook, Twitter, et al, actually do understand this, but are focusing too much on the networks themselves. It is not just important but crucial that we put the risk of finding ourselves in the same quagmire on the open web at the forefront of the discussion.

The open web is the tool with which we can begin to solve these problems; it is not, itself, the solution. We need to remember that.

SS 1: Tech Writing with Shelly Brisbin


On this episode of Something to Say, I chat with author and podcaster Shelly Brisbin about writing and publishing tech books, her career as a writer, how the publishing industry has changed, and the various things she’s worked on over the years.

News: Haven Divided Has Been Released 📚

Haven Divided: The Dragon's Brood Cycle, Vol. 2 — by Josh de Lioncourt

Today’s the day! Haven Divided, the second volume of The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, has been released for Kindle worldwide.

If you’re just getting started with The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, the first volume, Haven Lost, is free on Kindle for a limited time, as is the short companion story Harmony’s Song. You can also check out this guest blog post I wrote for Proof Positive.

It’s been a long time in coming, and I’m incredibly proud of this book. Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me through this journey. I really can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of Emily’s continuing adventures.

Thanks for reading!

SS 0: Introducing Something to Say—Make Good Art 🎤


Introducing Something to Say, a MicroCast where I’ll be exploring the creative process, how creatives influence one another, the art I love (books, music, film, etc), and more.

News: Haven Divided Is Available for Pre-order 📚


I am incredibly excited to finally type those words. Haven Divided: The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, Vol. 2 is available to pre-order from the Kindle store. It will be released on 31/July, and the paperback edition will be released shortly thereafter.

A soiled and creepy hand reaches out from a background of autumn leaves. The hand holds a large gold coin embossed with the face of a woman, a rose and clover in her hair. Haven Divided: The Dragon's Brood Cycle, Vol. 2 — by Josh de Lioncourt

Forever is comprised of nows…

Emily Haven and her friends have been given the seemingly impossible task of uniting the worlds—a mission they failed once before, in another lifetime.

But Emily made a promise, and she intends to keep it. A small boy risked his life to save hers, and while Michael sets out to rejoin the Dragon’s Brood, she heads east with Celine and Corbbmacc to rescue Daniel from a band of desert slavers.

Time does not stand still, however, and the dark legends are true. They deal in blue fire; they deal in death; and they travel through the long nights on autumn winds. Samhain has come, and this year, the harvest will be in blood, gold, and souls.

Review: The Outsider — by Stephen King 📚


It would be next to impossible to write a meaningful review of The Outsider by Stephen King without giving something away, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’m going to stick to a few basic notes.

I knew basically nothing about this novel going in, and I’m so glad that was the case. I loved every single word.

The Great Laugh Track Debate 🤣📺


Episode 305 of 99% Invisible tells the story of the Laff Box, the contraption which was used to generate laugh tracks for TV for decades. It’s a preview of a new podcast called Decoder Ring.

I’m in the modern minority, in that I actually like sitcoms with laugh tracks, but I don’t understand why it has to be an either/or stance. Some people hate laugh tracks; some staunchly support them. I think there is room for both formats on television. Part of what makes I Love Lucy, Three’s Company or Friends so great is that they were all performed before studio audiences, some of the laughs being “sweetened” not withstanding. Those three shows are among my all-time favorite sitcoms, in no small part because the actors are playing to the audience. But I also love The Wonder Years, an early example of a show without a laugh track.

The history of the Laff Box is interesting and entertaining as presented by Decoder Ring. I only wish that it hadn’t been so biased against its use. I don’t think we need to start overlaying a laugh track on The Office or Modern Family, but I don’t think shows should be shying away from it either just because it isn’t in vogue.

Review: Borderline — The Arcadia Project Series, by Mishell Baker 📚


I just finished reading Borderline, the first book in the Arcadia Project series, by Mishell Baker.

This book has been on my radar for a while. I’m pretty sure that the first time I heard about it was on Upgrade #174, recommended by Jason Snell. It kept popping up here and there since, and I finally picked up the audiobook.

I outline all of the above for an important reason; I enjoyed this book tremendously, but I think my enjoyment was somewhat lessened by the book being overhyped. It was a very good story, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the rest of the Arcadia Project series, but I went in with the wrong mindset. I spent the first half of the book feeling mildly disappointed. I did eventually reset my expectations, and doing so made a huge difference to my enjoyment. By the end, I was hungry for more of the universe Mishell Baker introduces and the characters that inhabit it.

If you’re a fan of fantasy in general, and/or urban fantasy in particular, I definitely recommend this unique take on the genre.

How to Work with as a Visually Impaired User


This is a quick guide for using as a visually impaired user in its current state. The service has some accessibility issues which the official What’s Next page lists as upcoming improvements. The web, macOS app, and iOS apps all have various accessibility shortfalls to greater or lesser degrees, with the web UI being the least problematic.

Nevertheless, I’ve found myself falling in love with this new service, and I wanted to provided a quick guide of the tools I’m using to workaround the current accessibility problems. None of these are particularly earth shattering, but I hope they’ll help prospective visually impaired users get up and running more quickly.

As a macOS/iOS user, the solutions below focus on those OSs, but you can probably easily adapt these strategies to your platforms of choice.

Reading Your Timeline

The web interface works reasonably well for reading your timelines, but it is a bit clunky compared to using a native app. Still, for now, this is the primary method I use for reading my timeline.

There is an alternative that I’ve tried and which you may find works better for you. Using an RSS reader, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your timeline and/or mentions as described in this help article. I’m using FeedWrangler as my RSS manager. It can be nice to have a quick look at your timeline this way, but the inability to quickly reply or view conversations is a definite drawback. If links were available in the feed text to perform those tasks, this method might be more useful.


Update: Less than 24 hours after publishing this blog, things have changed. See below for an even better posting method.

You can post using the web interface, although it behaves a bit strangely on both macOS and iOS. This is the method I use when replying to other users on the system.

For a better posting experience, I’ve been using MarsEdit for macOS, which is every bit as awesome and accessible as it has ever been, and Drafts for iOS, in conjunction with its action and the official iOS app. Essentially, you can compose a post in Drafts, send it to the official client, and just hit the Post button to post. Although the iOS app does have a lot of accessibility issues, you can get signed in using VoiceOver.


Just a few hours after publishing the above, Drafts 5 was released. That version of the app has a new Drafts 5 action for which allows you to post without need of the iOS app. This is much better for now, but it does require upgrading to use Drafts 5. I have left the earlier method intact in this post for existing Drafts 4 users.


As I continue working with, I expect to update this post with other solutions. The flexibility and openness of the platform is what initially sold me on it; I used my’s JSONFeed to show only relevant posts on my official site, while my blog shows all my posts, just as one very simple example. I also wrote a script which archives both HTML and MarkDown versions of all the posts on my own web server.

Ultimately, though, it is the awesome community that keeps me coming back.

News: Haven Lost is now just $0.99 in Kindle Stores 📚


In anticipation of the release of Haven Divided, the Kindle edition of Haven Lost is now just $0.99 on! The price has been similarly lowered in Kindle stores around the world, so if you’ve been thinking of picking it up, now would be a great time! Of course, it’s also available on Audible!

News: Haven Divided: The Dragon's Brood Cycle, Vol. 2 📚


The second volume of The Dragon’s Brood Cycle is written! Haven Divided will be shipped off to my editor by the end of the month. It’s been a long time in coming, but I am so proud of the manuscript, and I can’t wait for readers to rejoin Emily on her adventures. Expect more news on this title, including a projected release date, very soon!

Unexpected Literary Gems 📚


I’ve always been an avid reader. My taste runs more toward fantasy and science-fiction, but I have read a bit of most genres throughout my life. In having read fairly widely, I have, like most readers, found which genres I gravitate toward–and which I shy away from–and it becomes easy to fall into the trap of seldom revisiting genres where I’ve been unlucky.

Last spring, I discovered an author whose genre is one of those I tend to avoid. Rhys Bowen is billed as a mystery author, and I typically don’t care for mysteries, apart from occasional forays back into the world of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. I especially do not enjoy modern mystery novels unless they have, for example, a supernatural bent to them (e.g. Sookie Stackhouse).

I previously wrote about my love of the Bloody Jack series, the audio book versions of which are narrated by the incredible Katherine Kellgren. It was her narration talents that nudged me into checking out, a bit dubiously, Her Royal Spyness by Bowen, the first title in a historical mystery series of the same name.

Her Royal Spyness is a lighthearted series of mysteries focusing on a fictional heir to the throne of England in the 1930s who, much to her embarrassment at times, keeps falling over corpses. The books are light, fun reads with a wealth of fascinating historical details and often feature real historical figures.

After finishing the dozen titles in that series, I turned to Bowen’s Molly Murphy Mysteries series. These feature an Irish peasant girl who, in 1901, flees from the authorities in Ireland and ends up in New York City. There, she discovers she has a talent for solving mysteries and attempts to run her own detective agency, a profession very much frowned on for women at the time. The Molly Murphy books are a bit more serious than Her Royal Spyness, but no less engaging and fun for that. I absolutely adore them.

I rarely read historical fiction, and even more rarely mysteries, but I highly recommend both of these series, and Rhys Bowen in general, if you are looking for something light, fun, and full of wit and heart.

News: Talking Harry Potter on the Alohomora Podcast 📚


I was honored to be invited onto episode 233 of the Alohomora Podcast. We discussed chapter twenty-one of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, including all its time-travel conundrums, Snape at his worst, and plenty more.

News: The Introverted Indie Author Podcast #13


I had a ton of fun talking about writing, fantasy, the Dragon’s Brood Cycle, and a host of tangentially related topics with Michael J. Sanford on episode 13 of his Introverted Indie Author Podcast. If you’re an indie author, a fan of fantasy or literature in general, or just find listening to writers discuss the creative process enjoyable, this is a great show to check out. Might I also recommend episode #10 with the up and coming fantasy author Mara Mahan.

News: Random Trek 74


I was honored to be invited on as the non-random guest for Random Trek 74, on which we discussed Star Trek in general and Voyager episode 3.23 Distant Origin in particular. It was a ton of fun, and I hope you’ll check it out. Random Trek is a gem, and if you’re a Trekkie, you should be listening.

Indie Comic Publisher Offers Comics for the Visually Impaired


This is amazing, and I desperately want to see it succeed. For years, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of access to comics for those, such as myself, with visual impairments. New Worlds is seeking to change that. They already have a few comics available in audio. I’ve read both issues of Winter, and both the formula and the story itself are fantastic. Even better, they’re charging the typical comic book pricing of $3 per issue, which is, frankly, a steal. Let’s give these guys all the support we can and make it possible to have access to more titles in the future.


Thousands of people around the world would like to read comic books and can’t! People think comics are a visual medium, so the visually impaired can’t ever enjoy the experience. We’re here to fix that!

The above is true, and it reminds me very much of the feeling toward touch screens when the iPhone first came out. Eight years later and now iOS is among the most useful and accessible computing operating systems in history for the blind and visually impaired.

Let’s make this happen!

The Tiny Tweet


To type a truly tidy tweet,

Is something quite divine;

One-hundred forty characters,

Upon a single line.

But though these songs can sound so sweet,

We hear some sour notes;

The call of shady characters,

Awaiting billygoats.

They fled the dead discussion board,

And YouTube comment thread;

To shout with little character,

On Twitter now instead.

Beware their calloused countenance,

And puppets sewn of sock;

Remember that these characters,

Are less trouble when their blocked.

News: Universal Harmonics


Christie Stratos, my editor for Harmony’s Song, asked me to write a guest post. I’m very happy with the result, and I hope you will enjoy the piece as well. My thanks to Christie for the opportunity to share a piece of my writing process with her readers.

And, incidentally, if you’re looking for a fantastic editor for a writing project, it’d be tough to do better than Proof Positive. I couldn’t be happier with Christie’s work.

News: Harmony's Song: A Dragon's Brood Tale 📚


Last June, I wrote about the release of Haven Lost, the first volume in my Dragon’s Brood Cycle series of fantasy novels. While I continue writing the second volume, here’s a short story that takes place just before the events in Haven Lost entitled Harmony’s Song.

Life is hard for Daniel and the other kids who struggle to live on the streets of Ravenhold, a seaside city allied with the sorceress Marianne and the kingdom of Seven Skies. There is seldom enough to eat, and the nights are cold, but Daniel finds warmth and friendship when he meets the enigmatic Harmony. Their special bond, coupled with the mystery of Harmony’s past, sends Daniel from his life on the streets to the wider world beyond in this short story prequel to Haven Lost and the Dragon’s Brood Cycle.

You can find it in the Kindle Store, and it can also be viewed here on

There’s also a song that is featured in the story which you can listen to in the Media section of the official Dragon’s Brood website, though you might want to make sure you read the story first.

The reception that Haven Lost has enjoyed far exceeded my expectations, and I thank everyone who has come on this journey with me.

Apples to Oranges -- Why the Platform Wars No Longer Matter


Over the years, an individual’s choice of which operating system to use for their computing needs has become increasingly personal. In general, most modern platforms are extremely capable, and with the ubiquity of the Internet and standardized file formats, it is far easier to share data between otherwise wholly different systems. Mac versus Windows, either versus Ubuntu, and so on, are battles that have lost much of their relevance, and as a result, I’ve somewhat lost interest in the debate. I still believe Mac OS X, and by extension iOS, are superior platforms for my needs, and I still encourage people to try them for themselves, but ultimately, each individual user’s personal preference for a computing solution is their own, and that is how it should be.

Comparing platforms, too, has become increasingly difficult, both because the number of tasks that we all perform on our computers has continued to grow, and because the ways that the various systems, particularly OS X and Windows, handle these tasks have diverged in fundamental ways. And that, of course, does not even begin to address the inevitable human differences in the way we all think, respond, or retain information. An artist may be especially talented at producing beautiful masterpieces with oil paints, while another may be hopeless with paints but is adept with charcoal. The difference in tools between them does not make either more or less of an artist; nor does it inherently devalue either’s work. Each is using their talents with the tools that suit them best as unique human beings.

Objective comparisons between operating systems are virtually meaningless, because while the systems themselves behave in primarily predictable and consistent ways, human beings do not. To even begin to make a perfectly objective comparison, a single individual would have to be equally proficient and accustomed to working in the platforms being compared. This is a problem right out of the gate, since platforms themselves will vary, to some degree, in order to appeal to different sorts of people, and whether or not someone is equally competent and comfortable in two significantly different systems cannot be objectively measured for tools as complex as computing platforms.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that one could find such a person. What then? How do you objectively compare systems with such differing feature sets? You might be able to compare a small number of specific features common to both, but would that truly be helpful? The answer is that of course it isn’t, at least not in terms of the bigger picture of comparing the platforms to one another.

For a simplistic example, you could compare the length of time it takes to open a web browser and access a particular website. Let’s say that this task takes ten seconds to perform on platform A, and only five seconds to perform on platform B, assuming that the network connection speed variable is constant. One could extrapolate from this that, if our imaginary user opens twelve sites in an hour, they will save themselves one minute of time on platform B over platform A, and thus be more productive.

But what if, completely unrelated to this task, platform B has a bug that causes the system to hang and need to be rebooted once an hour? And what if the total time spent restarting the machine and logging in takes one minute? Now, with this new piece of the puzzle added to the equation, the results of our test, as far as productivity goes, are a wash.

Operating systems have thousands of these tiny variables. The example above is simple and extreme in order to illustrate the basic point. Even if one could objectively account for every, or even most, of the countless variables and make an objective, measurable comparison, the results would only apply to the single individual and those who are most like them.

This is, too, why Mac survived at all during Apple’s dark years. Windows, by many technical measures, surpassed Mac OS during that time, and yet many users still chose to use it, because for them, the system was more intuitive or a better fit for their own specific way of working.

Someone recently made the point to me that it was an unassailable conclusion that the number of keystrokes to perform a task with a screen reader was the only, or at least the primary, measure of productivity for a visually impaired computer user. This is, to most critical eyes I believe, an absurd statement. What if the user isn’t using keystrokes at all to perform a task and is instead relying on something like VoiceOver’s Trackpad Commander? What if one user has written scripts on one system but not the other? What if those scripts have been developed to behave differently? What if a user of one system is better at memorizing and recalling key commands than is the user of the other? What if one is a better or faster typist? The number of variables and their combinations is significant and virtually limitless.

My advice to users is to try out different platforms, if they can, and decide which is best for them and the way in which they work. OS X, Windows, Ubuntu, and some other platforms are all modern operating systems with unique strengths and characteristics to offer. They are all legitimate choices, regardless of how strongly you feel about your own.

Most people, at least I like to think it is most, don’t go around belittling or harassing others for their religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Those who do, are frequently looked down upon by those of us who are more enlightened and/or tolerant. Why should it be any different for our computing choices?

Harry Harrison and Science Fiction 📚


I’m a fan of both science fiction and fantasy. These days, I end up reading a lot more fantasy than scifi though. There are two reasons for this. The first, and simplest, is that I’ve always leaned more toward the fantasy and supernatural side of things, and that tendency only grew once I discovered Stephen King.

The second, and probably more significant, reason is that a great deal of modern science fiction, in an effort to be scientifically accurate and/or interesting, tends to lose sight of the story that its trying to tell. Additionally, it frequently results in two dimensional characters, or at least ones that don’t feel very real or relatable. Sometimes, compounding this problem, the prose itself is weak or outright poor. The ideas might be wonderfully compelling, but without a strong story, characters, and at least competent narrative voice, a work of any kind of fiction is not going to hold my interest. Examples of popular science fiction authors who have failed one or more of these categories for me are Robert J. Sawyer, William Gibson, and Michael Crichton.

Scifi was always in the mix for me growing up, whether it was in whole or in part. I don’t remember a time before I knew Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise. (I had a paper model, the kind you cut out and fold into a 3D object, of that venerable starship hanging from my ceiling as a very small child.) I remember watching the original Star Trek series and, later, series like Blake’s 7. Blends of scifi/fantasy were huge, too, such as Masters of the Universe and Star Wars.

Among the very first novels I ever read that were intended for an adult audience were the works of Harry Harrison.[1] He has remained among my very favorite science fiction authors for the last thirty years. He was born out of the golden age of science fiction, and though his work features much that is scientifically accurate (or what was accurate for the time), it never fails to keep the story moving and to treat its characters as more than automatons. In short, his books and stories were full of heart, humor, and wit, that, at least to me, feels sorely lacking in modern science fiction.[2] Perhaps the best way to describe the difference is that his stories feel more human.[3]

I was thrilled over the last couple of months to find that has been releasing a huge number of Harry Harrison’s back catalog on audio. I’ve been hoping for this to happen for quite some time. And, as a bonus, in addition to all his wonderful science fiction stories, they’ve also released his memoir.

So many classics are there, including The Stainless Steel Rat series, the Death World trilogy, the West of Eden trilogy, the To the Stars trilogy, and so on. If you are a science fiction fan, particularly a fan of the golden age writers, you owe it to yourself to experience his work. Some of his novels are lighthearted science fiction adventures, while others delve much deeper into scientific and philosophical quandaries. If you are a fan of the genre, there is almost certainly something you will enjoy in his body of work.

  1. The first novels I read growing up were The Hardy Boys, which I started reading at around age six. By the time I was eight, I’d begun enjoying Harry Harrison’s work, Sherlock Holmes, and the works of Mark Twain. I read my first Stephen Kin novel at age eleven.  ↩

  2. While writing this piece, I started to wonder if this is partially the disconnect for me where regards Star Trek: the Next Generation. I’ve long maintained that TNG is the weakest Star Trek series, mostly because the characters feel very flat and lifeless to me. It occurs to me now that this may be due, in part at least, to the show taking a more modernistic approach to scifi in comparison to the other branches of the Trek franchise.  ↩

  3. A more modern science fiction author who has never forgotten the human element in his work, and who is a damn good writer besides, is Spider Robinson.  ↩

Feeling Ducky


I’ve documented my experiences switching away from Google services over the last few years. I couldn’t be happier with the results, and I feel like the combination of services from a variety of companies that I am now using are, on the whole, superior to what I had with Google.

Recently, two tech bloggers/podcast personalities that I greatly admire have written about their experiences switching to DuckDuckGo for web search. The first of these was Casey Liss. Casey is best known for co-hosting the Accidental Tech Podcast and Analogue (spelled the correct way.) The second was Marco Arment, Casey’s co-host on ATP and developer of Overcast, my podcast client of choice. (Marco also wrote the blogging engine that powers this site.)

These are two of the highest profile tech voices that I’ve seen talk about making the switch away from Google for search. Undoubtedly, part of why this is just happening now is that until Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8.0, making the switch required a bit of fiddling and too much thought by the end user. I wonder if, now that Apple is including DuckDuckGo as a default search option, we will see more users, high profile or otherwise, making the leap. I hope so. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for a couple of years now, and have never looked back.

So here’s to seeing more folks start to migrate with the ducks.

“You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel ducky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”“”

(I offer no apology for the terrible joke above. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.)

Dr. Seuss on Apple


I do not want this new iPhone,

My Razr’s fine; it’s what I own.

“But you can browse the Internet,

And play games you haven’t heard of yet!”

My Dell’s all right for the Internet,

My Gameboy’s fine for the games I get.

I don’t want to play with Angry Birds,

I won’t annoy my friends with words.

I do not want a new iPhone,

My Razr’s fine;; it’s what I own.

“But it will guide you down the street,

And suggest great places to stop and eat!”

I can just use my Thomas Guide,

And look for signs inside my ride.

My Dell’s all right for the Internet,

My Gameboy’s fine for the games I get.

I don’t want to play with Angry Birds,

I won’t annoy my friends with words.

I don’t want the new iPhone,

My Razr’s fine; it’s what I own.

“The Music app plays MP3s,

Be they Bach’s, the Beatles’, or Kenny G’s!”

Who needs that? I have CD’s,

And on the air’s good old Rick Dees.

A Thomas Guide to tell me left or right,

A Mickey D’s at every light.

My Dell’s all right for the Internet,

My Gameboy’s fine for the games I get.

I don’t want to play with Angry Birds,

I won’t annoy my friends with words.

I don’t want the new iPhone,

My Razr’s fine; it’s what I own.

“It’s a camera everywhere you go,

For shots of kids or dogs or snow!”

I can get my pics taken at the mall,

No selfies on my Facebook wall.

I have my Carpenters LPs,

And a strange soft spot for old Rick Dees.

An atlas to the interstate,

All night diners when it’s late.

My Dell’s all I need for the Internet,

My Gameboy’s fine for the games I get.

I don’t want to play with Angry Birds,

I won’t annoy my friends with words.

I do not want the new iPhone,

My Razr’s fine; it’s what I own.

“But now with a contract, the iPhone’s free!

Try it! Try it! Please? For me?”

My Razr at last gave up the ghost,

So sad; it was the phone I’d loved the most.

I guess I’ll get the free 5C,

But it will only be a phone to me.

Oh, but I suppose I’ll take pictures of my dog,

Just to post on my Tumblr blog.

That’s it. No more … oh, wait … but damn …

I kinda like this Instagram.

iTunes has the Best of Gladys Knight and the Pips?!

You know, my vinyl copy always skips.

Siri will talk me down the street?

Huh … you know … that’s kind of neat.

My iPhone helped me win that bet,

When I looked up Rick Dees’s age on the Internet.

Now I have a plushy of a disgruntled yellow bird,

And four days left to play a word.

It’s been two days, and with a groan,

I must admit, I love iPhone.

But wait, what’s that I hear you say?

Another gadget’s on the way?

I do not want an Apple Watch,

I’m quite contented with my Swatch …

Great Reads of 2014 📚


I’ve always been an avid reader, and the flipping of the calendar is as good an excuse as any to take a look back at the titles I enjoyed most over the previous twelve months. This list is limited to just those books that I especially enjoyed.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read and/or enjoyed any of these titles, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter; discussing novels is always a ton of fun.

Links provided are for the editions.

The Bloody Jack Series

The Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer begins (surprise surprise) with Bloody Jack. That link will take you to the audio book edition on, which I highly recommend. The narrator, Katherine Kellgren, provides one of the finest audio book narration performances I have ever heard, and I’ve heard a lot of them.

The series follows the adventures of Jacky Faber, a young orphan girl living as a beggar on the streets of 19th century London. Jacky disguises herself as a boy and joins the Royal Navy as a ship’s boy. The entire series, consisting of twelve fantastic volumes, is pure fun. It ranks, personally, as one of my all time favorite literary series, which is really saying something, since my taste skews decidedly toward fantasy and science-fiction.

I truly cannot say enough good things about this entire series, nor the breathtaking performance of Katherine Kellgren. It’s fun, heartwarming, suspenseful, terrifying, hilarious, and endlessly entertaining.

Prince Lestat

It’s been a decade since Anne Rice offered up an installment in the Vampire Chronicles. Prince Lestat does not disappoint. It is refreshingly new, taking our beloved characters to new places and experiences that we have not seen hitherto. Judging by a few reviews online, some long-time fans of the series have found this chapter in the saga disappointing because it didn’t retread the old familiar ground, but I loved it precisely because it was new. Not only is it new, but it feels absolutely right. It’s a natural, authentic progression of the universe Rice created, far more so than 2004’s Blood Canticle.


It’s hard to go wrong with Stephen King, and Revival is classic King.

At its core, Revival is King’s take on the mad scientist trope from classic horror tales stretching all the way back to Mary Shelly. Its sprawling timeline, spanning from the early 1960s to present day, feels genuine, with King masterfully capturing the sense and flavor of each era he includes.

Mr. Mercedes

The first entry in a projected trilogy by Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes is a mystery/thriller that is one of the most suspenseful stories King has produced in years. It will keep you at the edge of your seat, frantically turning pages, be they of the virtual or paper varieties. The second installment should be released in 2015. Only Stephen King could release two fantastic novels with less than six months betwixed them.

The Silkworm

The Silkworm is the second installment in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, better known as J.K. Rowling. The series takes the very classic detective fiction genre, a class of stories most purely embodied by the indomitable Sherlock HOlmes, and places it squarely in 21st century London. Full of Rowling’s trademark wit and clever storytelling, this volume is every bit as good as the first, if not better.

The Etymologicon

The Etymologicon is a self-proclaimed “”Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language“” by Mark Forsyth. Told with a light and extremely humorous and entertaining style, Mr. Forsyth explores the origins of everyday words in the English language.