Archive for April, 2010


April 20, 2010

I’ve been reevaluating events and progress since my book came out in January. I can see my inexperience with the publishing business has led me down some dead ends. In the last year, I’ve had more failures than successes in getting the word out. But I’m not going to pull a Sarah Palin and blame everyone for my lack of success. I prefer Harry S. Truman’s attitude: the buck stops here, and the next step is mine to take.

I’ve been trying to hurdle my way to the top. Since I was never good at jumping, I’ve got some seriously skinned knees, but I can’t sit around waiting for them to heal. My books promotional clock is ticking, and I’ve got to get back up and try again.

For starters, rather than try to jump to the national scene, I’m going to spend some time building my regional exposure. The big guns have thousands of guys and gals like me pounding on their door every day asking for an interview. Why should they open up for a nobody? I need to make my book worth their notice, and the only way to do that is to rack up sales in my local region.

Another more persuasive reason, is that I don’t have a bundle of money to spend. It doesn’t cost much to drive to local fairs, book signings and events. Rising airfare and hotel rates make long-distance travel prohibitive until I’ve generated some income from sales. I would have to sell a lot of books to pay for a trip from my Oregon home to the east coast, even if I visit a dozen locations while I’m there. That means I need a name people will recognize.

And that, unfortunately, is going to take time.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged

Prison Earth - Not Guilty as Charged

Prison Earth - available on, or Barnes and Noble


The Gods and Their Joystick-Riding Ways

April 11, 2010

“The gods are on my side today,” I muttered while heading out on yesterday’s gloriously sunny day to give my lawn a much-needed mowing. It had rained most of the previous week and as late as Friday, the weatherman was promising even more.

What struck me about that moment was my referral to those unnamed “gods” who constantly play with the joystick attached to my video-game-mimicking life. I don’t really think of them as omnipotent in the Christian sense, or for that matter, even the deities of ancient Roman or Greece. But it sure feels like someone is poking a finger into my affairs.

Here’s just one of many examples:

A lot of years ago, I owned a small business in Corvallis, Oregon. It was the first of the month and I had something like $10,000 in bills due by the tenth, and another eight thousand in quarterly tax deposits due five days later. I opened my checkbook (Yes, this was in the dark days before QuickBooks!) and discovered my balance was a heart-stopping $32.00. A quick check showed my line of credit was maxed, and it was doubtful my bank was going to up the limit.

Where would the money come from? Cash flow in the latter half of the previous month had slowed to a trickle, and would never be enough to cover even half of what I owed. I thought of selling blood, but that wouldn’t generate much cash. It was doubtful my employees would let me sell theirs.

I was resigned to paying off what I could and letting my business go down in inglorious and humiliating bankruptcy. (This was also back in the days when bankruptcy was considered degrading, and not a “strategy” for getting out of debt.)

And then someone grabbed my life’s joystick and pulled back sharply. Business surged, and my till flowethed over. The pile of bills was whittled down until I wrote the final eight-thousand-dollar tax deposit check on the fifteenth. Ironically, I still had the original $32.00 showing.

And the very next day, the joystick was pushed forward, and business slowed down again.

The gods, whoever they are, must be having a great time playing with my life.

Tell me that’s not the workings of a warped mind.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged

Big Choices for Our Nation, and Our World

April 4, 2010

In today’s political environment, the battle lines are clearly drawn.

The Republicans say big government means loss of freedom. Overly socialistic programs are expensive and take away private enterprise’s ability to react to changes in the economy. Unfortunately, “big business” and “even-handed” rarely go together. Stockholders rarely encourage their CEOs to give money to the poor. Since the Reagan-era Trickle-Down theory was put into practice, the gap between the rich and poor has consistently broadened.

On the other hand, the Democrats want a larger government role in providing for those people left behind by the inevitable shifts in our massive economy. While the goal is laudable, the idea that only “big businesses”, and the “rich” will help finance these social programs is short sighted. In my experience, the definition of “big business”, or “rich” slide down the income scale as social services programs require more money. And they always need more money.

Where will it come from? We’re already seriously in debt. By some estimates, our public debt isn’t the $12.7 trillion number being bandied about, but upwards of $67 trillion. Congress has consistently plundered Social Security and Medicare reserves to make their yearly budgets look less out of balance. Though both republicans and democrats share blame for this enormous debt, it is presently growing by over two-trillion dollars per year. Worse yet, an ever-increasing amount of our debt is owned by foreign powers, the largest of which are China and Japan. Heaven forbid, if our government defaults! We could be scrambling to learn Chinese!

In watching the struggle for balance between free enterprise and social responsibility, I have to wonder if someone outside our society isn’t manipulating the situation to keep us off balance. Could this be some test to see if we are ready to belong to a larger community? In the Star Trek series, the critical achievement qualifying a people for “first contact” was faster-than-light travel. Maybe a more realistic milestone should be showing we can get along as a society. Of course, the United States is a mere 300 million out of a world society of 6 billion. If we can’t get along as a nation, what chance is there for world peace?

It looks like we have a long way to go.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged