How Are Your Mystery Chops?

myschopsThe time has never been better, for writing a mystery novel – particularly a mystery series.

Mysteries are among the hottest commodities in today’s book publishing marketplace, and the doors are open to the first-time novelist.

I’m prime example. After years of writing articles and nonfiction TV scripts, recently I sold my first novel – and you’ll find it on the mystery shelf. Simple Justice hit bookstores last summer, launching the Benjamin Justice mystery series.

Benjamin Justice isn’t just another Sam Spade clone, however. The contemporary mystery market has changed, and the stereotypical hard-boiled male private eye is passe with many readers. In fact, mystery novels featuring female sleuths outsell those with male protagonists. And …

Snoring Mouthpiece Scams

snoringmscamChronic snoring is a disruptive condition that is more dangerous than you think. Snoring is the result of a blockage in the airway, either nasal or in the throat, which means that when you snore, you are literally struggling for breath throughout the entire night. As this occurs, the body is deprived of oxygen and your heart is forced to work harder and harder. This creates all sorts of health problems including high blood pressure which then can lead to deadly heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. Once your snoring has been identified, most likely by a disgruntled loved one, it is imperative that you find a method that works to eliminate your snoring.

When the blockage that causes snoring is in the nasal passage nasal strips, antihistamines or cold medication is usually sufficient to open your airway. However, when the blockage is in the throat, commonly due to the tongue, an effective anti-snoring mouthpiece is the right choice to eliminate your chronic snoring. The problem is, there are dozens of models available and they all claim to work immediately and comfortably, so it is important to know which devices have been found most effective and what scams to be aware of.

There are two major designs when it comes to effective mouthpieces, Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSD) which hold the tongue in place with a strip or band, and Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) that advance the lower jaw forward to secure the tongue. Both designs open the airway exclusively by ensuring that the tongue is retained throughout the entire night. Furthermore, many of these models have additional features that allow for further adjustment to give you the best fit possible. It is essential that the device is properly fitted to your mouth otherwise it will fall out of place, or out of your mouth, while you sleep, rendering it ineffective.

Ineffective models are often simply night guards that have been advertised as anti-snoring devices when they are actually meant to prevent teeth grinding. Differentiating good snoring mouthpieces from bad can be easy. The bad mouthpieces often are not FDA-approved or certified and do nothing to secure the tongue in order to maintain an open airway. These companies often Continue reading

Culling Character Is Easier Than You Think

cullingcieCharacters should be established first and drive a story, not used to fill a need in a predetermined plot. The characters’ needs, desires and abilities provide motivation for the story. Techniques for developing characters and letting a story evolve are described.
Full Text:

I’ve got this idea for a story,” he says, his eyes trying to read my reaction. The pencil in his right hand moves in small arcs, a baton leading an orchestra of fleas. I nod. “Yeah, tell me about it.” I’m looking directly at him (at least he’s going to think I am), arms folded across my chest, left leg crossed over right. My wagons are circled, I’ve been here before, …

Fight Night: Can You Write It?

fltnightSex and violence.

Got your attention, didn’t I? It seems that everyone, from the presidential candidates to my grandmother, has an opinion on these two burgeoning aspects of modern storytelling. Not the same opinion, of course. One subset of critics maintains that sex and violence shouldn’t even be in the same debate. Sex and violence, goes this reasoning are entirely different things, and one of them (take your pick) isn’t even a problem at all.

There are ways, however, in which sex and violence definitely do belong in the same discussion. Both are difficult to write in ways that don’t mar you story, and both are overused in stories in which they don’t belong. For …

Causes of a Clicking Hard Drive

cchdA clicking hard drive is a hard drive that is on the verge of shuffling off this mortal coil. There?s a reason people refer to it as the “click of death.” Generally, once your hard drive starts making a constant clicking noise, there’s not much you can do but try to backup all your data off of it before it dies completely. Because hard drive failure can come when you least expect it, you should always have some kind of backup available, whether on an external hard drive or a cloud-based recovery site like Crashplan or iDrive. You can also check here.

That being said, it is possible to repair a clicking hard drive, or at least keep it functional long enough to backup everything you need. But in order to repair your clicking hard drive, you will first need to understand the specific issue or issues that are causing the problem. Here are the most common causes of hard drive clicking:

  • The hard drive heads hitting the internal head stop: This is typically what causes the “click of death.” When the hard drive heads cannot tell where the tracks are on the platters, the heads will keep spinning until the actuator arm physically hits the head stop, which is there to stop the reader heads from leaving the platter. This issue is often caused by a fault on the hard drive circuit board, in which case you may have some success with replacing the circuit board or moving the hard drive platters from the defective drive onto an identical, working drive (more about this here). However, swapping platters without a professional clean room is extremely risky, as you run the chance of exposing the highly sensitive platters to dust and other airborne particulates.
  • Loose connection, faulty cable, or faulty power adaptor: These issues apply to clicking external hard drives. You can diagnose this by unplugging all of the cables and visually inspecting the connections. If you find a loose connection, you can use a small screwdriver to correct the shape or position of the male or female connectors. Also check the cables for damage caused by wrapping the cable around the adaptor during storage. Do the same inspection with the power adaptor. If the cables are adaptor are faulty, then you can simply replace them.
  • Graphics card drivers: While not a common cause, there have been documented instances of some graphics card drivers causing hard drive clicking noises. In this case, the solution is as simple as updating or changing your graphics card drivers.
  • Hard Drive on a Non-Level Surface: Especially with older hard drives, if your drive or the computer it?s housed within are on an uneven surface, hard drive clicking can occur. In this case, you just need to check the positioning of the hard drive and make sure that it is level. You can use a level tool to ensure that your hard drive is in a perfectly flat position.
  • Faulty Power Supply: A malfunctioning power supply or a power supply that is overloaded can cause hard drive clicking. If this is the case, addressing the problem will be much more involved. First, you will have to remove your hard drive and connect it to another power supply to see if the clicking still occurs. If it doesn?t, then you know that the power supply is the likely issue. You will need to reconnect your hard drive to the original power supply while disconnecting other devices like the CD drive, USB devices, modem, etc. If the clicking goes away when other devices are disconnected, then it means that your power supply is overloaded and you will need a larger power supply unit.

No matter what the cause of your hard drive clicking is, you are better off consulting a professional computer hardware technician before attempting to make any repairs yourself. For RAID recovery tips, click here. If you don?t know what you are doing, Continue reading

Benefits of Pressure Cooker

bfopcrThere are several ways to get your cooking done. You can decide to go for the conventional stove or get things done via gas cooker. There is also the choice of the electric cooker to consider. Have you ever tried using the pressure cooker for your cooking before? If you have not, you can give it a try today and you will never regret it. This method of cooking has been around for quite a while now and it is gaining popularity as the days roll by. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get your cooking done. There are loads of benefits attached to cooking with this method. Some of the benefits …

Writing My First Novel – A Guide

myfwnlI squeezed four years of high school into five.

My mother died less than a month after I entered ninth grade. Soon after, my father and I moved, and I began attending a new high school–but only occasionally.

To say I had trouble focusing on school would be like saying the Cyclops had trouble crossing his eye. I began to skip so frequently that my freshman biology teacher branded me with the nickname AWOL. Mr. Phillips would call my name in class and, when I didn’t answer, he’d say, “AWOL again.”

In my first two-and-a-half years of high school, I flunked all but one class (English Literature, interestingly). I refined truancy to an art form. …

The Hard Drive Has A Clicking Sound: What Next?

hdcThere is what many call a “normal hard drive clicking noise” but sometimes if it sounds serious, most people just get confused about what to do next. The first thing you have to do is make sure that the noise is actually coming from the hard drive. Sometimes people can panic when it is not even the hard drive that is clicking.

You can open up the computer and tighten a few things inside. After that, power on your PC and listen for any clicking noise. In most cases, it will be gone after tightening a few loose screws. However, if it is actually your drive clicking then it is time to move on to the next step. Backup your PC data on another secure drive that is functioning normally. This step will help you to continue working on your projects even if your drive suddenly fails without warning. You can also contact a hard drive repair company to see if the drive can actually be repaired.

The hard drive clicking noise might mean that the drive is on the verge of failing. You should start looking for a new drive. This is important so you can minimize data loss even when the current drive fails permanently. This way you do not lose any valuable time going around shopping for a new drive. Replacing the old one is definitely not difficult.

How To Minimize Data Recovery Prices

The problem with people is that sometimes they try to fix something and they just end up making a big mess. If your hard drive is having some issues, make sure to call an expert who will help you in fixing it. Trying to repair the disk might just cause more damage which then leads to high hard drive recovery costs. This is something that you are wanting to avoid in the first place. The reason why you need an expert is that they have all the necessary tools and skills for handling any form of hard drive failure. They will give you tips that will help in managing any future cases of hard drive failures.

The first path to minimize any hard drive recovery costs will be having a backup of your data. This backup is important to ensure that the company can still run even when there is a failure in your systems. This is what most companies are doing to minimize the chances of being crippled in case one of their hard drives fails. The backup drives can Continue reading

Practice, And You Will Excel!

paywexcelI like to think, even though I turned 40 this year, that my best writing years are still ahead of me.

But I have to admit that, so far, my very best writing years were–gulp!–more than a decade ago, when I was a roving columnist for the newspaper in Dubuque, Iowa.

Sometimes you flip through your old clips and wince, thinking, “How could I ever have written so awkwardly?” or “Why didn’t the editor save me from myself?” But when I nostalgically leaf through the yellowing clippings of the stories I wrote during those three years in Dubuque, I smile. Okay, it s a wistful smile (the clippings are yellowing and I am 40, …

Mental Illness: Describing It Can Be Difficult

mentalinessIn the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not at first sight tell; it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal; but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and facet

In 1847, Jane Eyre’s description of the madwoman in Rochester’s attic was consistent with the popular conception of mental illness. Since then, the treatment and perceptions of mental illness have changed dramatically, posing challenges to writers of both nonfiction and fiction.

Language. One out of every …

The Best Poetry Takes Courage

apoetryI wasn’t thinking about poetry when I wrote this about courage in my journalism text Living Ethics:

As any war veteran will tell you, fear is a natural or logical response when you confront a potentially significant or catastrophic threat. In fact, fear lends meaning and substance to the words courage and bravery because a courageous and brave act suggests that a person did not succumb to fear when the stakes or consequences warranted.

But courage is part of poetry’s creative process, too.

Just as beginning poets overcome fear of writing or rejection, they quickly encounter new terrors. They realize they must share some significant lesson or truth with readers. They must face and make …

Real Loss Can Pay Real Dividends

Two years ago, the floodwaters that ravaged homes and businesses throughout the Midwest also left their mark on many of us in supposedly safe bedroom communities. Our losses were so minimal in comparison to those close to the river that, even now, complaining feels shallow.

Still, loss is relative. And what I lost in three feet of muddied, basement floodwater felt devastating: Our children’s baby books, my wedding album, my college yearbooks, such irreplaceable Christmas ornaments as the cookie-dough replicas of our sons’ miniature handprints.

But it was when I opened the bottom drawers of two metal file cabinets that real despair set in. Where once lay 15 years’ worth of magazine and newspaper …