Yup, it’s a sea horse. (No Photoshop necessary.) The scientific name for the seahorse is Hippocampus which translates from the Greek as Hippos for “horse” and kampos for “sea monster.” But it is a small monster, ranging up to 14 inches and some can gallop through ocean at the astonishing rate of five feet an hour.  Oh, they also swim vertically, suck in their food, and the males carry the eggs. So why do I, as a writer, find the seahorse so fascinating?  Because in spite of their size, slowness and unusual food-gathering techniques, they have been around for more than 12 million years, longer than humans. Most intriguing, their eyes move independently so they see 360 degrees without having to move their head. Writers must be, at the very least, 360-degree visionaries. Then we have to ‘suck in’ the experiences were see and imbed them in our short stories and novels.  We’ll steal an experience, good idea or saying from anyone at any time from any point of the compass.  “You have the right to be silent,” the old writer’s saying goes, “but I have the right to use anything you say in a short story or novel at any time.” As readers, writer and just general folk, our greatest opportunities will come in through side doors we did not know existed – as long as we keep your 360-degree vision 20/20. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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Until the movie PATTON, in 1970, General George S. Patton, was largely a forgotten hero. But he was a man who was at the forefront of every military action from the American expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa in 1916 to the end of Second World War.  Ironically, he died because of a vehicle accident in December of 1945. He was also famous for his pitchy quotes including one which every writer, artist and actor should appreciate: “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom” Anyone with connections can be successful But the real test of success is what you accomplish on your own. There is no substitute for hard work because you make your own luck.  https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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If you live in New York you will recognize this as the Flat Iron Building. It was the first steel structure building in the city. In 1903. EVERYONE expected it to collapse when it rose to the Third Floor.  Why? Because it was a NEW concept and people are S-L-O-W to accept change. Today, the Flat Iron Building is an historical relic and dwarfed by New York’s other skyscrapers.  What’s the point? The next time you see ‘different’ book, or are introduced to a different’ point of view, try it.  You just might like it. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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This is the Culebra Cut in what would become the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal fascinates me because of the unique solution applied to its construction. Time after time, as the Army Corps of Engineers was digging the Canal, the sides collapsed and filled the trench. So instead of digging ‘down,’ the engineers dug ‘up.’ They constructed a dam and filled what is now Gatun Lake. With no sides to collapse, the Panama Canal was completed. As a mystery writer I strive to ‘write up’ rather than ‘fall into’ the genre. I do not include murders in my mysteries because every other mystery writer uses murder.  I write impossible crimes where the detective has to solve HOW the crime was committed before he can go after the perpetrators. Thus I have created a unique cul-de-sac in the world of mystery writing. And it personifies my writing motto: “If you do not have something unique, you have nothing.” https://bit.ly/2VkrjqS.

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In the Alaska dog racing biz, there is a prophetic expression: “unless you are the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” But that’s more than just a dog racing adage; it’s an aphorism for life.  Without a spark of originality, you are just one of the herd. This is particularly true in writing. Anyone can write a romance novel, murder mystery or thriller. And, if you stay within the envelope of ‘what sells,’ you could do very well. But you are not producing a unique product. You are just selling popcorn. My personal motto, in writing and life, is “If you do not have something unique, you have nothing.” I want every one of my short stories, novels and nonfiction work to be ‘different.’ ‘Different’ takes time to become popular but the spark of originality could set a fire which could burn for decades.  Ian Fleming passed in 1964 but the world is still gripping the table for the next installment of his creation.  https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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Ok. This is photoshop. It was done in the 1940s to stimulate the Alaska sea food market.  (“There are a lot of great steaks on this Copper River Red!  Look for them in the seafood section of your local grocery store!”) I like this photo because it reminds me a writer can make anything believable. Unfortunately that’s the problem with a lot of writing. It’s not genuine; its escapism. The best writers don’t ‘make things up.’ They capture real life in a unique manner. Mark Twain made a common chore like whitewashing a fence humorous, memorable and worth retelling. Poe’s raven was, well, just a bird and Hemmingway’s old man was just as old man telling a fish story. Shakespeare made dying for love immortal. Jack London took the reader inside the mind of a dog. Truth is stranger than fiction and we will never ‘run out of great’ good ideas from the real world. If you do not believe that you have not read the latest installment of the Darwin Awards. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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The greatest shortcoming of American education is the belief that you ‘teach for the job.’ That is, you teach the basics of what most jobs will require and ‘that’s that.’ The result? Products like this. If you are a millennial, you won’t find anything wrong with the label.  If you were born before 1960, the label will jar you – excuse the pun. Quality education is an ongoing process. The job of the teacher is to open doors to possibilities. After that, it’s up to the student to venture beyond the walls of the classroom. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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It is easy to talk about ‘leaping into the future.’ The reality is substantially different. You get to ‘the future’ with baby steps and those steps are in the real world. There is not a lot of “leaping.”  As an example, here is a snapshot of the “leap” from the horse to horsepower. (And if you look at the pavement carefully, you will see trolley tracks.) Every transition – industrial, artistic or personal – takes time and a lot of effort. Great painters and writers did not “start out” great. They earned their way to “the future” failure by mistake by stumble followed misstep and errors of judgement. They became “great” by continuing to make those baby steps. So next time you – the writer, painter, inventor, developer or innovator – get slapped in the face with a failure, setback, rejection or t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e review, remember that the future belongs to those who keep going, baby step by baby step by baby step. https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi

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We all makes mistakes, some of the whoppers. Some of those errors in judgement never see the light of day (Whew!). But then again, to quote Albert Einstein, “Someone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” My father, a Holocaust refugee, was born into a very rich Italian family. In today’s dollars, they were worth about $200 million. In 1939. A year later they were worth $15,000; but they were alive in New York. Perhaps the important thing my father ever told me was “No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow.” The last thing this excavator driver ever thought would happen this day was to come close to death. The lesson? To quote my father, “No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow.”  So make sure what you are doing today has value. You are building the tomorrows of your life one day at a time. What you will be tomorrow depends on what you did today. Never pass up the chance to improve yourself because, who knows?, tomorrow a chimney could fall on you. (And don’t forget to wear a hard hat!) https://amzn.to/2C62juE

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In 1912, so many Americans were furious with both the Democratic and Republican parties that they formed the Progressive Party. (The photo is from their national convention.) Their platform demanded – and I will quote from Wikipedia so no one thinks I am ‘gaming’ the issue – “to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics.” Other Progressive issues included campaign finance reform, a tariff REDUCTION, establishment of what is today called the ‘safety net,’ an eight-hour workday, minimum wage for women, women’s suffrage, worker’s compensation, inheritance tax, direct election of senators, primary election for state and federal office holders, establishment of what is now the SEC and the ‘big three:’ recall, initiative and referendum.  Humm, one hundred years later and those issues are just as big now as they were then. https://amzn.to/2C62juE

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