I’d like a stamp, and make it a double!

There have been so many overhyped storms this winter, it was a shock when we ended up with more snow than predicted last weekend. How much? Close to 10″ here in Fort Atkinson. A day or two earlier, they were predicting 1-2″ tops.

And this morning, the icing on the cake: -9°. The wind chill was 20 below zero. January is going out with a bang.

It was pretty wild, seeing the Rock River freeze up again. These patterns in the ice were beautiful. They’re the result of strong winds Saturday night, combined with plummeting temperatures.

Mother Nature is quite the artist, eh?

Today, I needed a notary public for some paperwork I had to complete for my CenturyCo pension, so I got that done over lunch. Though I only worked there for two years, I ended up with a fairly decent chunk of change that I decided to roll over into a personal IRA. I could’ve waited until retirement and received $58 a month for life, but that hardly seemed worth it. Or, I could’ve cashed it in now and spent it on a wild weekend in Vegas that would’ve rivaled The Hangover, but that didn’t seem like the wisest course of action either.

God, being a responsible(ish) adult sucks.

The concept of a notary public is interesting to me. It’s not a profession, but instead, the ultimate side hustle. All you’re doing is checking IDs. Kinda like a bartender, minus the mixing drinks part and listening to people drone on and on about their problems.

OK, nothing at all like a bartender.

Tara was a notary public when we started dating. She was so cute, with her notebook and pen and that big stamp that made such a satisfying sound when she clicked down on it. Holding all that power in the palm of your hand must be a real rush. I get the appeal.

Now that January is all but over, Bloganuary is also all but over. While I did not participate, I hung onto a few of the more interesting prompts to answer later. Later is now, you lucky dogs.

Has a book changed your life? (Jan. 10)

Yeah, you might say so.

Growing up, my friends all wanted to be astronauts or firefighters, but my sights were set on becoming a writer. Specifically, a published author. I wrote my first novel, Beacon Rock, in my twenties. I followed that up with Stabbing Nature and Colored Red. Essentially, they were a trilogy following the same characters. There was a fourth, a semi-autobiographical thriller called The Lion in the Grass. I tried like hard to get these published the traditional way, sending hundreds of query letters to literary agents coast to coast. Had a bunch of requests for sample chapters and, a few times, full manuscripts, but all I got in return was enough rejection letters to wallpaper a small bedroom.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. A few agents were kind enough to send me in-depth critiques full of helpful advice. I took their suggestions to heart and focused all my efforts on the book I was most proud of and felt had the most potential, Stabbing Nature. I completely rewrote the whole thing, turning it into a standalone novel and changing the entire plot, characters’ names, and even the title. The only thing No Time For Kings had in common with the original was its premise: a group of eco-terrorists resorts to murder to further their agenda, and an intrepid female news reporter gets tangled up in their web.

On Aug. 15, 2011, I published No Time for Kings through Booklocker. Did fame and fortune follow? No, but that was never my point (even if I did secretly feel that Tommy Lee Jones would have made the perfect villain in the movie version, and Kate Winslet would have been ideally cast as my badass protagonist). Instead, I shared a piece of art with the world, and in the process achieved infamy. That’s something you can’t put a price tag on. Long after I’m gone, copies of my novel will still be floating around. That gives me great comfort.

I haven’t been nearly as prolific in the dozen years since publication; I’ve only churned out Dream Sailors since, and have made no effort to publish that other than on the Kindle Vella platform.

But that doesn’t matter. I will forevermore be a published author, and that’s all I ever wanted.

What’s a language you wish you could speak? (Jan. 26)


Men and women famously come from different planets, according to a very popular book. I can never remember which one comes from Mars and which from Venus, but it doesn’t really matter. We do think differently. And look, I love women to death. None more so than my wife. But understanding them has always been an exercise in futility. If I were better at it, I’d have saved myself a lot of grief and heartache over the years.

What are the pros and cons of procrastination? (Jan. 27)

I’d tell you now, but I don’t feel like it. Check back with me later.

56 thoughts on “I’d like a stamp, and make it a double!

  1. Great snow photos! Love the riverside shot of the Indian.
    Hope you went with a Roth instead of a traditional IRA. Speaking as someone on the other side of retirement… I wish we’d gone that way.
    While I can’t say your book changed my life, I did enjoy reading it.
    As fur speaking woman, I get it. There are times I need to speak man and get nowhere.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a traditional IRA. I’ve actually had it for years; had to rollover a 401(k) in 2018, so I opened it then. I don’t know much about the difference between traditional vs. Roth, but as long as my money grows, I’ll be happy.

      Thank you for your kind words about my book! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A traditional IRA lets you put tax deferred money in, a Roth taxes it upfront. In hindsight it would have been better for us to pay the tax when it went in since we’re in a higher bracket now. You’re forced to take it out when you retire, the dreaded RMD. Required minimum distribution.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The photos are fantastic, and, yes, Mother Nature is the ultimate artists! They all made me smile, except the closeup of the car loaded up with snow. It’s the “dark side” of the cold? I can imagine having to scrape that in the freezing cold 🥶…

      And I have nothing but respect for saving!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It took a solid half hour to clear my car and Tara’s truck. I got spoiled by always having a garage to park in in South Dakota, so the amount of time involved surprised me a little. Good thing I did it on the weekend instead of right before leaving for work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My ultimate procrastination: I didn’t want to get my wisdom teeth taken out at age 20, like most normal people (fear of anesthesia). By the time I was 40, my dentist said it really needed to be done, but when I went to the oral surgeon, he said I was too old to have the impacted ones removed, so he just took out the single one that had broken through the gum. Major score for procrastination!

    If you ever write a beach read, I would totally read it! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is nothing quite like seeing your name in print, is there?

    I love the picture of the wind-blown river… crazy! I’m so happy that you took the responsible(ish) adult route with your retirement money. I know a few people who just saw a big check and blew it all. It was all fun until they received a tax bill from the IRS. Oops.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That ice design is beautiful, but I would have trouble handling that much snow or those cold temperatures. I would need a LOT more gear! I have both traditional and Roth IRAs. You don’t have to take the required distributions until 72. I’ve been retired for 5 years and still have a ways to go. I like both IRAs for different reasons; the Roth is nice but back when I had them, it was harder to pay the taxes up front since I had younger children, a house payment and way more expenses. So, it’s whatever works for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They say to dress in layers, and I have to admit, it really does work. I was so bundled up taking these photos, the only time I felt the cold was when I took my gloves off to snap the pics.

      Thank you for more information on the differences between both IRAs.


  5. Love the photos Mark, except for the car and what I assume was your need to dig it out. We had momentary flurries early this morning which was a nice change to drive in. Guess where I went…Trader Joe’s and I stocked up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it’s good you didn’t wait to collect $58/mo in retirement. One of my little nagging worries in life is that I have some membership/policy/pension/investment somewhere that I’ll totally forget ever existed and I’ll die without ever benefitting from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Snow is so pretty! I miss it. Meanwhile all the parents here are bundled up for soccer games in the–gasp–50s! I wore a turtleneck, even. Good for you on being published. Traditional publishing is an absolute nightmare right now. I might switch over to trying small presses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I highly recommend Booklocker. They actually require you to send them your manuscript and read it before deciding whether or not to publish. They’re the rare small press not just in it for the money. In fact, they reject more submissions than they receive (at least that’s their claim). Any stigma associated with self-publishing is long gone these days. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, not that you aren’t bright and resourceful enough to figure it all out on your own. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t market myself strongly enough, but yes, I was a published author before I ever became a professional writer. Things always have a weird way of falling into place for me. And, what can I say? I love snow and cold. It’s a big reason I left the PNW in 2018. There just wasn’t enough weather excitement out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When I went back to college, I actually did a speech on procrastination. It was highly amusing, especially since I ALWAYS waited until the day of class to write said speeches! My last speech was about ALMOST meeting Stephen King, and seeing as I was a bit tipsy, it was also the best speech I gave! It also helped that half of class that had given their speeches the week before weren’t there. Plus we had an almost 2 hour break between classes, so the rest of the class was also fairly tipsy. Win-win!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ALMOST. I was working at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo and he and his family were staying there. I had looked all over for him, being my favorite author and all…I even packed my SK books and took them with me. I pulled up to a stop sign and he pulled up next to me. I looked over and screamed—-he laughed and wisely motioned for me to go first. He must have intuited my author-stalker vibe. Still not sure what gave it away. Ha. I completely embarrassed myself in front of Stephen King. I am an idiot.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Brrr. Better you than me.

    Even though I never dreamed of being a writer, I’ve actually written a book. Non-fiction, a textbook for using Microsoft Business Intelligence tools, circa 2010. I wrote it on company time, so in that context it paid pretty well. The other day, just for grins, I broke it out and opened a page at random. While I remember writing it, I didn’t understand it. Use it or lose it…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The snowstorm is crazy, and the water, all swooped up and frozen like that, looks like artwork!
    Swooped. Is that a word, or did I just make that up? I’m a woman, so I can make up shit anytime I want.
    I love that you are a published author; that right there gives you enough satisfaction to be a happy human.
    My new goal in life is to be a Notary Public. Having that type of power might go to my head, though, and no one could stand me.


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