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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Is There a Difference Between Alpha and Type-A Personalities?

    Alpha male is probably one of the most overused and misunderstood terms in the English language. It’s widely accepted that men can become Alpha through the hard work of building up oneself physically, mentally, economically, and socially. However, the fact of the matter is that the alpha male isn’t as common as people might think. The definition of alpha male according to dictionary.com is the most dominant, powerful, or assertive man in a particular group. Even the most basic meaning of an alpha male implies that there can be only one true leader in a group or organization, not a collective of alpha males. For example, there’s only one alpha male lion that protects the pride from other predators and other male lions. When the male cubs come of age, they typically leave the pride, or the alpha male lion kicks them out of the pride if they don’t submit. Lastly, if a male lion takes over another pride, he subsequently kills off all the cubs of that pride.

    The characteristics of an alpha man aren’t as brutal as an alpha male lion, but there are similarities. He’s confident, usually attractive to the opposite sex, high-income, and at the top of the social ladder, for example. He’s a natural born leader even though he works hard at being a well-rounded individual, and he’s not afraid to defend himself and others in adverse situations.

Alpha Male Lion

    However, the question of the day centers around the similarities and differences between the Alpha and Type-A personalities. The definition of Type-A personality according to Wikipedia.org is outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high achieving "workaholics". There are similar traits between the two groups, but the single, most important characteristic an alpha male has that Type-A personality lacks is charisma. Charisma is a gift that all alpha males must have in order to be the person who both sexes gravitate toward.

    In conclusion, Alpha and Type-A personalities are similar but not interchangeable. Type-A individuals are dominant but not necessarily charismatic―they’re likely to be your bosses in the workplace who excel in task mastery and managing people. Leadership comes naturally to alpha males while Type-A males have to work extra hard in order to reach the top of the societal hierarchy.

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Chance Encounter: A Short Story

    Keith had just finished his second beer while watching the Bears get trounced by the Vikings on Monday Night Football. He normally went straight home after a hard day’s work but decided to break his routine for a change and hang out awhile. He was supposed to meet some of his coworkers from the bank there, but nobody had shown up yet.

    “Can I get you another Miller Draft?” the bartender asked.

    “Yeah, I’ll take another one,” Keith answered.

    “Coming right up.”

    Keith already had a ten-dollar bill by his empty bottle, so the bartender took the ten and the empty bottle and placed another ice-cold Miller Draft in front of him. The bartender subsequently placed five singles in front of Keith before he took a sip and scanned the perimeter of the pub. It was then that he spotted his best friend Tommy’s girlfriend Marissa with another guy sitting two tables over from the bar. She didn’t notice him as she was totally engaged in conversation with her new beau―they were holding hands, and her gorgeous smile widened when the dude leaned in and whispered something in her ear.

    Marissa was the epitome of sexy―a five-foot nine bombshell with a thirty-six-inch inseam and curves in all the right places. They all met in college, and Keith and Marissa were good friends up to this point. However, Marissa’s indiscretion had put their friendship in serious jeopardy.

    Keith chugged his beer and left the five singles on the bar as a tip before he motioned toward the exit. Marissa looked up at Keith and smiled at him for a split second before continuing her conversation with the mystery guy as if Keith was a total stranger. He was taken aback by her blatant disregard for her relationship with Tommy and their friendship, which dated back to freshman year at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Still fuming from the brief encounter at the bar, Keith found a parking space a half of block from his apartment complex on the fringes of Chicago’s Hyde Park community. It was a seasonably cold thirty-nine degrees in mid-November as Keith briskly walked to the entrance and opened the second door with his key. His one-bedroom apartment was on the third floor, so he lumbered up the flight of stairs because there was no elevator. 

    He didn’t want to cut his night short, but he felt too uncomfortable watching Marissa betray his friend of ten years in that fashion. He grabbed another beer from his fridge and plopped down on his living room sofa before turning on the boob tube. Nothing piqued his interest, so he settled for the old 80s movie Platoon on TMC.

    There was a knock on his door almost two hours later, as he had dozed off midway through drinking his Miller Draft.

Happy Couple

    “Who is it?” he was still groggy.

    “It’s Marissa,” she answered. “Can I come in?”

    “How the hell did you get inside?”

    “I came in with one of your neighbors.”

    He then unlocked the door and let her inside.

    “What do you want?” he was curt.

    “I can explain,” she offered.

    “You’re foul, Marissa. You know that, right?”

    “You have no right to judge me…”

    “You’re wrong about that. I have every right to judge your ass…Tommy is my best friend, and you play him like that?”

    “He cheated on me first…”


    “Right. Don’t judge anyone until you know the entire story.”

    “When? Because he never said anything to me about it.”

    “Yeah, right. Do you really expect me to believe that?”

    “I swear I didn’t know.”

    “So, are you going to tell him about me?”

    He paused for a moment and then said, “I don’t know if I should…I mean, he’s keeping secrets from me, and you’re keeping secrets from him. I think I should just stay the hell out of it.”

    “Good. So, we have an understanding, right?”

    “I think you should leave. Maybe it’s best if I distance myself from the both of you.”

    She motioned toward him and grabbed his crotch before she said, “I know that you always had a thing for me, Keith. You also never got over the fact that I chose Tommy instead of you…”

    He pushed her hand away and said, “You’re really feelin’ yourself right now, aren’t you?”

    “I see you’re much bigger than Tommy is.”

    “Get out.”

    “Okay, I’ll leave, but if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.”

    “You ain’t shit, Marissa.”

    “And neither is Tommy.”


    She walked out, and he slammed the door behind her.

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Five Ways Authors Can Perfect Their Craft in Writing

    The only experience that I had in writing before I wrote my first book was a creative writing course taken in my first year of college twenty years prior. Most authors major in journalism, communications, or English in college―so I knew I had an uphill battle in order to be worthy of being on the same playing field with these more seasoned authors. There are five techniques I used and still use that fundamentally helped me become the best writer I can possibly be.

 Jot Down Ideas.

    When I was in the infancy stages of my writing career, my mind would constantly be flooded with random thoughts on what details I could add to my stories, and it had gotten to the point that I’d become restless and couldn’t sleep some nights. I tried to remember those tidbits of information after finally winding down and falling asleep, but I forgot them the majority of the time after I woke up. Writers should utilize the Notes app on their iPhones or Notepad app on their Android phones the moment an idea comes to mind so that it won’t be forgotten.

 Build Vocabulary.

    The era of the computer, smart phone, Kindle, and other similar devices have made it much easier to look up the definitions of words that are unfamiliar, and the online dictionary is the author’s best friend. I have consistently looked up words that I wasn’t sure of the meaning while reading or writing, and it’s become second nature to me because I never want to use a word out of context on my blog or in my novels.

 Sharpen Grammar.

    The correct or incorrect usage of grammar is a direct reflection on the writer, so it’s imperative that the sentence structure and the spelling of words are on point when writing a novel or blog. The Editor and Read Aloud features in Microsoft Word are great tools that can be used to proofread a blog post or book, but they’re not foolproof. My biggest Achilles heel in the past was using the correct homonym when writing. For example, knowing when to properly use discreet or discrete and eminent or imminent in a sentence presented problems for me, so I made it a point to look up the meanings of these homonyms and others like them in order to make sure that I had a clear understanding of how to use these words properly in a sentence.

Research Topics.

    It’s good for fiction authors to make their stories as realistic as possible―especially if writing about a person, place, or thing that’s foreign to them. I like to incorporate places that I’ve visited into my storyline, and I research the specific details about a particular city such as a landmark or a street name to give readers the feeling that they’ve been there as well. It’s the details that make a story interesting, but there’s also a fine line between vivid storytelling and being bogged down with too much descriptive language.

Read Books from Other Authors.

    The final method writers can use to hone their skills is read material from other authors, and in doing this, it gave me the confidence to incorporate my writing style into my own works. Reading books from my competitors showed me that it was okay to have a different voice, and in turn, I discovered there was more than one way to convey a story.

    Perfecting one’s craft in writing is an ongoing process that doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been writing novels and short stories for over fifteen years, and I’m still learning how to become a better writer each time that I publish something. An author can apply these five methods that I’ve used through trial and error to also become the best writer that he or she can be.

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Sunday, December 5, 2021

How to Choose the Right Keywords and Bid for Amazon Ads

    After an author knows what genre to right in, picking the right keywords and setting the correct bid for each ad on Amazon’s pay-per-click advertising platform play an important role in gaining exposure and selling books. Once these two main steps are established, an author will maintain consistent sales each month.

 Choosing the Right Keywords.

    Amazon has a search bar at the top of the web page where customers type in keywords in order to find the merchandise that they’re looking for. Authors have the upper hand by learning what keywords are the most popular, and this can be done by typing a particular word in the search bar. For example, when you click on the Books icon and type in the keyword ‘crime,’ ten of the most popular keywords under crime will pop up such as crime novels, crime books, and crime books best sellers. Authors can add these keywords to their respective lists when creating an advertising campaign, and the same holds true for other keywords like romance, suspense, or urban fiction.

 Selecting the Correct Bid.

    Indie authors make anywhere between $1.50 to $3.00 per sale on average on Amazon depending on the price and length of the book―Amazon earns 40% of that sale and charges the author a fixed cost for each book printed on demand. The bid selected by an author is arguably the most important aspect of book marketing because the profit margin is also based on how high or low the bid is. For example, let’s say that the author’s daily budget is set for $10, and the maximum Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is $0.50. The author’s average CPC for this particular day is $0.44, and the book ad receives a total of 23 clicks before reaching the spending limit. Out of those 23 clicks, the author sells six books for a 25% conversion rate. If the author charges $6.95 and makes a $2.00 profit off of each sale after the printing cost and Amazon’s 40% split is subtracted, a net profit of $2 is earned for the day once an additional $10 advertising cost is factored in [(six books times two dollars net profit) minus ten dollars advertising cost equals two dollars] ― [(6 x $2) - $10 = $2]. Any bid over $0.50 per click will potentially put an author in the red each day.

    There’s so much more to being an indie author than just writing books―marketing also plays a key factor in sales. Selecting the correct keywords and proper bidding are two important steps that are necessary to be a successful writer on Amazon, and failure is imminent if this knowledge isn’t properly applied in this given situation.

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Monday, November 29, 2021

Finding Author’s Niche in Writing Stories

    I read an article in the past that said authors should write stories that are categorized in the most popular genres in order to sell the most books. However, I don’t necessarily agree with that philosophy for multiple reasons―mainly because it would be difficult to write about a subject that doesn’t remotely interest me. For example, the most popular fiction genre is romance, and it’s also the most competitive. If an author sets out to write romance fiction even though it may not be his or her strong suit, this course of action is a recipe for failure in my humble opinion.

    My belief is authors should write about things that interest them the most or write about things that they’ve experienced in life to a certain degree, and there’s also nothing wrong with researching a new subject that is intriguing and writing a story about it. However, writing in a genre solely for profit without a genuine interest in a given subject won’t translate into a good story, and readers will see through a poor attempt at creating a plot without any substance or passion behind it. In turn, book sales will fade away quickly in the long run because of mediocre or bad reviews even though the author might’ve picked the most popular genre with the most gross sales annually.

Romantic Couple

    A new author’s first question should always be what genre should I write in? My first book was in the nonfiction, biography, and sports categories, and I wrote about a subject that was an important part of my childhood―Little League Baseball. The book was roughly fifty pages long, and I touched on the various reasons why baseball had declined in my community as well as other communities throughout the nation. I sold a decent number of copies in the beginning and had a book signing, but I ultimately couldn’t sustain any momentum as sales disappeared completely.

    I discovered later on that I had a natural gift for storytelling and preferred to create content rather than research facts―to write organically instead of mapping out an outline or script to follow. Thus, my journey as a fiction author began, and I never looked back. I enjoy watching crime dramas, and one of my favorite movies is Heat. I also like watching sports, and I managed to merge the two themes together and created the trilogy titled The Chronicles of Brock Lane―my bestselling series to date.

    Finding one’s niche in writing is extremely important, and authors should write about things that they’re passionate about and not solely pick genres based on popularity in order to reach the bestseller’s list. Once authors choose their respective genres to write in―whether it be romance, crime, or urban fantasy, for example, then they can build their bibliographies and sell hundreds or even thousands of books per month.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Check Writing Is Unofficially Obsolete

    I recently visited Hawaii for the first time this past summer and had a great time with my wife and friends. We ate good, saw a couple of Hawaiian festivals, and stayed at a luxurious hotel with a spacious room that was across the street from the ocean and nearby all of the high-end department stores in case we wanted to shop. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that I’m from the Midwest (Chicago to be exact), and the flight was an eight-hour trip. However, this isn’t what this blog post is about.

    When I returned to Chicago a week later, I found out that my dad was in ICU suffering from kidney failure. My mom and brother didn’t want to spoil my vacation and felt it would be best if I didn’t find out until I returned home. It turned out that his kidneys were slowly deteriorating for quite some time and had gotten to the point where the meds weren’t working anymore. He had lost so much weight over the past year due to a lack of appetite, but I couldn’t figure out why until he landed in the hospital. He spent the entire summer in and out of the hospital and rehab because he initially refused dialysis, but it had ultimately reached the point that the doctors told him his only option to survive was to receive weekly dialysis treatments. Needless to say, he took his doctor’s advice and is doing much better.

Banking Without Personal Checks

    My mom and I had to expand our responsibilities in the weeks to follow while my dad was back and forth from the hospital to the nursing home―I had to grocery shop for my mom because she doesn’t drive and also help her around the house with extra chores in addition to mowing their lawn on a weekly basis. I also had to find time to manage my own household, and she had to take over my dad’s bills. It was then she examined his bank statement and learned that someone had bilked him for $4900―he’s old-school and not computer savvy, so he wanted to pay his water bill in full for the entire year with a check in the mail. He’s part of a shrinking minority of people who still write checks and unfortunately got burned for it. The bank had conducted an investigation and discovered that a woman who worked as a clerk with the Department of Water had used his banking info to create an electronic check to pay his water bill and pay herself almost five grand in the process. My mom had spent weeks trying to get a new checking account number and debit card for him because of red tape and the fact that he was incapacitated.

    My dad’s situation is a cautionary tale that reveals it’s no longer feasible and is extremely dangerous to write checks in today’s society. A clerk thought that it was okay to steal from him because he had enough money to pay off his bill for the year, and he was an easy mark to a cyber-criminal who can easily copy someone’s banking information off of a check for a quick score. Scam artists have permeated every facet of life to the point that something as simple as writing a check can cost a person thousands of dollars on top of countless hours trying to recover what was lost.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

Changing a Book Cover Can Dramatically Increase Sales

    A professionally done, good-looking book cover is one of the most important aspects in creating a fiction novel. Readers do judge a book by its cover, and if the cover looks cheap, it will undoubtedly kill sales. Sometimes a book cover can become stale or too familiar to readers in the same fashion that an ad listing can become stale―the law of diminishing returns if you will.

    This especially holds true when an author’s bestselling book hits the wall and experiences a dramatic drop in sales. This will hurt the overall sales of the author because the bestselling book can function as a sales funnel to the other books in the portfolio. However, there’s a remedy to stagnant book sales for the indie author.

Book Cover

    Independent authors have the option of changing the front cover of their books that aren’t doing well, and in turn, this small adjustment can boost sales dramatically. For example, I started off with a basic-looking book cover for my novella titled The Root of All Evil, and sales in the beginning were steady, but not great. Sales would eventually pick up for this title in the months to follow, and over a two-year span, it gradually became my bestselling book to this day as it’s the first installment of a three-book series. I’m always looking for ways to increase my book sales, and I recently came up with the idea to change the book cover of The Root of All Evil. I was able to double the sales of this title in a very short time, and this carried over to the other books in my bibliography.

    When an author changes the book cover, it gives readers the illusion of a new book, or readers who ordinarily overlooked the old front cover may take notice to the new one. This is another sales growth hack that has helped me become a bestselling author on Amazon, and any author can apply this method in order to increase book revenue.

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Slightly Lowering the Book Price Can Significantly Increase Sales

    A quick sales growth hack that indie authors can use to tip the Amazon algorithm in their favor and increase sales is to slightly decrease the sales price of one of their paperback books. An example of this is when Amazon lowered the price of my bestselling book titled The Root of All Evil from $6.95 to $6.78 a few months ago. This slight change in price caused a spike in sales that went on for several weeks afterward before the surge leveled off, and then Amazon changed the book back to its original sales price.

    Customers seem to respond positively to an irregular price that doesn’t end in .95 or .99, so I took the liberty of changing the price of my book back to $6.78 to see if the spike in sales would return. Needless to say, a slight spike in sales occurred, but not to the extent when Amazon implemented the change in price. However, the sales of The Root of All Evil remain consistent and function as a sales funnel for my other books.

    Applying this technique to the bestselling book of an author’s bibliography can be highly effective in driving even more sales, and in turn, this small trick will ultimately drive the sales of the other books in the catalog. There’s no guarantee that lowering the price of a book will make an indie author a success overnight, but it certainly won’t hinder his or her progress toward that goal.

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My Two-Year Stint as an Uber Driver

     At the beginning of 2016, my entire life was in shambles―my marriage was on the rocks, I was a temp at the law firm that I work full-ti...