Wednesday Book Highlight: Survival of the Fittest, by Jacqui Murray

A long time blogging buddy, Jacqui Murray from Worddreams is having a blog hop for her new book, Survival of the Fittest, and today it’s my turn to spotlight her new book.  I’ve been following her progress on writing this book.  It’s worth checking out.

Enjoy, Andrew

Today’s Q&A question:

This is part of a series. What’s that about?

Survival of the Fittest is Book 1 in the Crossroads series and part of the Man vs. Nature saga. It delves into man’s ability to survive the unsurvivable, make decisions that could kill him, and makes plans contrary to his instincts. Most (all?) animals operate on an internal compass–instinct. Man has free will—the ability to reject our gut in favor of our intellect or heart.


Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.

About Jacqui:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

Where to get the book:

Available at: Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA Kindle AU

Where you can find Jacqui:







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My Next Career

In the summer of 1978 I enrolled in an electronics school to learn the fine art and science of electronics.  I was just out high school and was looking at my options – well they sucked.  The security company I worked for said I’d make a great full-time security officer and I’d heard of some great opportunities washing dishes at the hospital.  I did consider joining the military, but the Navy recruiter insisted that to become an officer, I’d have to go to school for like 4 years.  Seriously?

Anyway, I decided to go to this electronics school to become an electronic technician.  It was an 18 month program; the school had a loan program; and I was impatient. I decided it would be cool to get my FCC license so I could work on radio and TV transmitters.

Just after I enrolled, the school announced that due to lack of enrollment, the FCC license program was canceled but there was this digital electronics and microprocessor class I could take instead.

Halfway through my microprocessor class a family friend said his company was hiring people who knew microprocessors and he thought he could get me in at around $8.00 per hour.  At that time I had two great things: impatience and desire for money.

I took the job.  Two years later, another company said they’d pay me $10 an hour.  So began my career and today, nearly 40 years later, I make more than that, switched to software engineering, and never got my FCC license.

While I’ve had a great career, and could do this for a few more years, my brain, soul, and carpal tunnel syndrome say it’s time to think about hanging up the keyboard, and orthopedic braces to do something else for a living.

So I’ve been thinking about what I’m really good at, that I’d enjoy doing until I qualify for total disability payments.  Over the years I have become reasonably good at woodworking and writing.  I’m not a bad public speaker and am a bit creative.

Earning money as a writer is somewhere between difficult and impossible.  I’ve heard that federal law prohibits poets from earning a living and blogging isn’t much better.  In the eight years I’ve been blogging I’ve not earned any money and each year pay WordPress to keep ads off my blog because that annoy me (the ads, not WP).  Not going to pay for many orthopedic sole inserts that way.

I have heard of people starting podcasts and earning a bit of money with ads and affiliate sales.  Maybe, but so far the only podcast concept I’ve had was a thing I titled, “Get Off My Lawn!” where me and a buddy of mine would complain about young people and all the problems in the world.  However, he’s probably right and best to just skip that  to avoid all the lawsuits.

YouTube has a certain attraction and I even have a YouTube channel.  I’ve got three videos – one as recent as 2015! It has 37 views, 2 likes, 1 dislike (there’s a hater in every crowd). Here take a look:

There are millions of content producers out there and some actually making a living at it.  I did a little research to see if something like a poet-reciting-scroll-sawing-woodworker would have any chance at earning money there.  And came up with a few interesting facts:

To earn money there you have to not offend the algorithm and get yourself banded. Basically, just mindless content that offends no one and gets lots of views for the advertisers.  I know I can do the first part – not offend people.  I’m one of the least offensive people I’ve met.  Mindless I can do for a while, but sooner or later I’ll say something you’ll have to think about.

I’d really have to work at it, but it’s sightly more possible for me to succeed at YouTube than being struck by lightning or win the lotto.

As for subjects you can do on YouTube I did find a number of people making videos with the following subjects.  I looked for channels that had more than 50,000 subscribers and had videos with 50k to 500k views (around the range that you’d need to get to earn enough to buy a decent pair orthopedic shoes).

  • Woodworking Channels
  • Making a table saw from plywood and a used skill saw
  • Concrete pouring  (more complicated than you think)
  • Making forms for concrete pour
  • Heavy equipment operations (as in ‘watch backhoes move dirt’)
  • Trains (as in a ‘live’ stream of trains doing things like, moving)
  • The machinists channels (using lathes and mills to cut metal)
  • Welding channels (tig, arc, mig and arguments on why tig is better than mig)
  • Poetry channels (although I’m concerned the FBI will be after these folks soon)
  • Car crashes
  • Dam removals

and perhaps the oddest one is when I typed in the search bar, “Paint Drying” and came up with this one:

Yup, 85,000 people have watched a 10 hour video titled, “10 Hours of Paint Drying.”

So I think there is hope that the “All Scroll Saw Mouse Reciting Poetry Channel” has a potential audience

Wait.  Well look at that.  YouTube has videos on how to get your FCC License.

Hum.  Maybe I’ll watch a few of those…

Till next time,


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Friday Wisdom – Bread and Butter

The hardness of the butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.

More science lessons next week,


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Wednesday Woodworking – Another new old cabinet

It’s finally starting to warm up enough so I can get work done in my outside workshop and this weekend I got another cabinet in place in the laundry room.  This is the last cabinet I’ll be able to fully build from my recycled plywood pile.

The latest cabinet

The ladder is not holding up the cabinet and you can see the cat food – note our priorities, more treat containers than food cans.

Next step is to get a face frame on this, then I’ll be building a floor to ceiling cabinet to replace the ladder.

On the writing front, I finished a poem, wrote a blog post, and mailed out a few copies of my book to family.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shed putting the ladder away.


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