Category: Advice

Jul 07, 2014
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Making Lemonade…Really

Making Lemonade…Really

My beverage of choice is coffee. I drink several cups every morning and another cup or two in the afternoon. Later in the day, however, I want something without the caffeine. When an ice-filled glass of water or a soft drink won’t do, a refreshing glass of lemonade really hits the spot. In the past, lemonade rarely turned up in my grocery basket. At most, I’d buy a can or two of frozen concentrate once or twice a year. I bought my first carafe of Simply Lemonade maybe a year ago, and now I’m addicted. I’ll swirl every sip of the delicious liquid around my mouth, swallow, and then exclaim, “Delicious!” It’s delicious because eight ounces has 28 grams of sugar (seven teaspoons), clocking in at 120 …

Jun 02, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Five Steps to Becoming a Successful Author

On this date just two short years ago, with a lot of encouragement from my friends in the Athens Writers Workshop, I submitted a query for my first novel. I waited for the “not what we’re looking for at this time” message to file with the rejections I’d already received for Glass Houses — my still unpublished memoir. Instead, less than three months later, the fine folks at Dreamspinner Press sent me a contract for Until Thanksgiving. When I signed that first contract, my expectations about overnight success as a published author were a tad unrealistic. I haven’t quit my day job. You won’t find excerpts from my books in The New Yorker. Terry Gross hasn’t interviewed me for Fresh Air, nor has Oprah called. Even …

May 12, 2014
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Pet Writing Peeves: That

Pet Writing Peeves: That

Coming up with ideas for Pet Writing Peeves isn’t a problem. Finding topics that I know enough about to explain, however, is a bit more challenging. “Just because” is hardly sufficient, but that is too often the only explanation that I can offer. Such is the case with my admittedly mild aversion to the word “that.” I took grammar as an elective my senior year in high school. Ms. Stiles — a retired Army sergeant and a truly great teacher — must have schooled us on the rules. My inability to use the appropriate terminology today suggests that maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve come to see “that” in my own writing as a word that is worth scrutinizing. How does …

Apr 28, 2014
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Countdown to Retirement

Countdown to Retirement

To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, my regular Monday posts in April have focused on my experience planning for my looming retirement. For most of my career, retiring has been an abstract concept — something far, far away. But now that I’m pushing sixty, the time has come to get real about where, when, and how I’ll retire. Where is easy. I love Athens for the mild winters and all the gorgeous, fragrant plants that thrive here. Knowing I’d probably die in my next house, the low-maintenance design, stair-free floor plan, and tiny yard heavily influenced my decision to buy my current residence. Frankly, at this stage of the game, I’d rather die than face another move. When I got serious about …

Apr 21, 2014
By Michael Rupured

My Retirement Expenses

Welcome to the third of four April posts about my retirement planning experience in honor of Financial Literacy Month. I wrote about my preparations for retirement over the years in the first post, and in the second, the sources of income I expect to receive in retirement. Now I turn to my retirement expenses. Figuring out future living expenses is a guessing game. I won’t need to replace my current income — rules of thumb say to plan to live on twenty to twenty-five percent less than preretirement income. Travel and other pursuits could push expenses higher. My life won’t change much, so I expect my cost of living will be more or less the same as now. Inflation is another question mark. How fast …

Apr 14, 2014
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Retirement Income

My Retirement Income

Last week I kicked off a four-part series about my retirement planning experience. I’m close enough to retiring to get serious about picking a date. Despite the reckless spending of my youth and some stupid decisions along the way, sticking with the plan cut my retirement age from seventy to sixty-five. I made a date with my financial planner to take a look at a realistic timeframe. Before our appointment, I tried out different scenarios with a retirement calculator. If you’ve never played with one of these planning tools, you should. The results, although just estimates, give you an idea of where you are, when retirement might be possible, and things you can do to move your retirement date forward. My …

Mar 30, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Poisoned!

A whopping case of food poisoning has made for a rough week. I should have known better, but misplaced trust and my inner cheapness conspired against me. I have nobody to blame but myself. The nasty little beasts hitched a ride into my gut last Friday. I’d paid a pretty penny for a thick ribeye steak the previous Sunday. No oven-broiling or pan-frying for me. A steak that nice has to be grilled, but the weather didn’t cooperate until Friday. With few exceptions, I hate putting proteins in the freezer. Not for taste reasons, but because I have to think about what I want to eat far enough ahead of time to thaw something out. And if I change my mind, …

Mar 17, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Pet Writing Peeves: Pop Culture References

A good writer makes the reader feel like he or she is a witness to events in the story as they unfold. Keeping the reader’s attention focused on the action and dialogue is the goal. Errors and mistakes, when noticed, take the reader out of the story. Ignorance is bliss. Before getting published, as long as the story kept me interested, I could enjoy the most poorly written of novels. Not anymore. Now all kinds of things I never noticed — my personal pet peeves — take me out of the story. If this happens often enough, I quit reading and never finish the book.  I’m in the middle of a book by a favorite author who has had a …

Feb 17, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Pet Writing Peeves: Adverbs

Adverbs top the list of my Pet Writing Peeves. These little words modify actions and usually end in -ly. They’re perfectly acceptable in lots of different situations, but should be used sparingly in novels. Paragraphs riddled with -ly words — like the one above — are fine in blog posts, status updates, conversations, tweets, news stories, and lots of other places. The occasional use in novels — especially in dialogue — isn’t a big issue with me either. But lots of adverbs in the narration are an indicator of lazy writing. A novel is supposed to show the story, not tell. Adverbs are tell words. They’re fine in conversation and in dialogue because talking is all about telling another person …

Jan 13, 2014
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on On Becoming a Gym Rat: Revisited

On Becoming a Gym Rat: Revisited

January is the month for resolutions, and for lots of people, getting more exercise tops the list. We year-round gym rats see the influx of new faces every January. Some will stick around, but in a matter of weeks, most will give up and quit coming. Read on if you want to be around next year to make fun of the resolvers. I joined a gym about two and a half years ago when paying by the class for Zumba got expensive. To make sure I’d use my membership, I signed up for the most expensive option. My plan came with a weekly 30-minute session with a trainer — great for me, as I hadn’t set foot in a gym …

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