December 2011 Cover

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Our monthly magazine – SOKY Happenings – typically sports a cover created by a local artist, but this month Carrie decided she wanted something different. She wanted something edgy, something new, something wow. So she searched the far reaching expanse of the internet and suggested this…

Steampunk Santa?

Cover: “Santa’s Other Sleigh”
By George Bailey
De Leon Springs, Fl

While not a local artist this month, this fellow is pretty good! We purchased the artwork and let him know how it would be used. We also sent him a copy of the magazine. Thanks George!

You can see most of our covers here.

The Morning After

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We went to press yesterday; it was the 54th time since we started SOKY Happenings back in 2007. This 92 page issue represents 4.5 years in the magazine publishing business – I am so proud. With our new staff, the day to day tasks such as sales, layout, copy editing, and even the calendar database (800 events) and deliveries are taken care of. This was part of my goals when I started this, to find a dedicated, talented and loyal group of people who care about our community magazine. Sure, we’re still involved, but most of the work is taken care of. It feels good.

Our busiest time is a few days before we package and send the magazine to the press. We receive everything from the troops, and do the final proofing and editing ourselves. Well, we uploaded yesterday and I’m face with “the morning after.” I got up at 03:50 a.m. with absolutely nothing to do. The early morning hours are quiet and peaceful. Just me and my thoughts on a chilly November morning.

As I sit at the kitchen table, I sip my coffee and write in my notebook. I draw floor plans, I write database tables, I crunch numbers both real and imagined, I dream and I plan. I do enjoy the morning. Typically, I’ll down three or four large cups of coffee, write about 5 or 6 pages of notes and then head down to my office to search something on the internet or to accomplish something I recalled while writing. This morning I wanted to look up some food ideas and found myself reading food blogs – again – and solidifying my poultry plans.

My Office

My Office 10/12/11

Today should be a quiet one – so Carrie and I are headed to the market – Sam’s, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc – to reprovision for our November cooking adventures. I’m not a huge fan of shopping, but with lists in hand, we will head out into the world and do our hunting and gathering.

She won’t be up for a while – I guess I’ll write another blog. :)

Thanks for reading.

Four Years in the Publishing Business


SOKY HappeningsFour Years of SOKY Happenings
Feels Like Yesterday, Feels Like Forever

by David Francis
Anniversary Editorial : Page 19 of the June 2011 issue

I just finished paging through the June 2007 issue of SOKY Happenings, and my heart is filled with great pride in what we have become. We have evolved and become so much better than those first 36 pages, thanks in no small part to the many talented people who have helped make it better. While we have been the ones compiling the information and getting creative with the layout, SOKY Happenings magazine is a result of a fantastic, creative and willing community. From the hundreds of talented writers to the dozens of gifted artists — SOKY Happenings is a reflection of a great community.

Having re-read my first editorial, I am reminded of our first issue and what it took to bring it to the community. I remember the hard lessons and sleepless nights it took to create a resource that the community would find helpful and entertaining. I am also reminded of the people who helped, offered encouragement and sponsored our first unpublished issue four years ago. They are good memories, and those memories inspire me still.

Starting a business from scratch is one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever done. Starting with nothing more than an idea — and the willingness to do the hard things — creating a business can seem overwhelming and impossible. It’s not enough to have a concept; you have to consider the little things like accounting, distribution, storage, expenses and, in the case of SOKY Happenings, content, layout, commercial printing and all of the skills necessary to bring it all together. I had experience with some of these things, but I had a lot to learn — and I learned those things because I had to.

If someone had told me that in order to make this business work, I would be required to work nonstop for 50 hours straight, I probably would have taken a pass. Not because it’s a hard thing, but because I didn’t think myself capable of such a task. It was required in order to bring our second issue to press, and I did it — with my wonderful wife, Carrie, at my side — due to the fact that I missed my deadline and had to work each hour until I was done. No naps, no breaks, just work! I had two months to get the first issue to press, but I only had three weeks to prepare the second. Due to the fact that I was still learning the software, hardware and techniques of publishing a magazine, three weeks was not long enough. Fifty hours straight — we just did it and we learned a lot from it, and we never had to do that again.

We had a dream to create something that would benefit the entire community, and from what we’ve been told, we have done it. We accepted the challenges, overcame adversity and had the patience to let it grow and flourish. (The patience part was probably the hardest part.) And so, here we are, exactly four years later, plugging away and doing our best to bring you a magazine you’ll find useful and entertaining.

This magazine has never been about Carrie and myself; it has always been for and about the community. The community has responded in many wonderful ways, from the more than 300 advertising sponsors over the years to the more than 100 writers who have been so eager and willing to offer their contributions to SOKY Happenings and the community.

We have received countless comments, letters and emails from the community that encourage us and let us know that our efforts are appreciated. This praise keeps us going and inspires us to continue to make the magazine better. Sure, we’ve received some criticism, but that is to be expected — and frankly, it is appreciated as well.

Over the years we, have been told that our magazine has helped local organizations and their efforts to raise funds or awareness for their respective causes. We intended to be helpful, and we are grateful that we have been.

Some of the most cherished praise comes from our advertising sponsors, who continually affirm that their sponsorship is helpful to their business. We seek companies that we can help, and we try our best to serve our sponsors and offer them value. When we receive comments that confirm our intent, it is most gratifying.

I stated our purpose in my first editorial four years ago as follows: “In short, the SOKY Happenings magazine will be focused on people, places and events in our community. It will be written by and for the people of South Central Kentucky. It will focus on the places to go, things to do and people who make it happen.” Sure, it has evolved into a little more than that, but we have remained true to our vision and will continue to do so.

There is one more memory I would like to share; it happened about two years ago, and it touched me so deeply that I’ll never forget it. I received a phone call from what sounded like a very old man. He asked me who I was, and once he was convinced that I was the person he needed to talk to, he proceeded to tell me how SOKY Happenings had changed his life. The man told me that he was in his 70s and had been a shut-in with his now-deceased wife for the past 10 years. He said he wanted to thank me because the magazine had helped him re-assimilate into the community in which he was born and raised. He said that he didn’t know what he would have done without it. Then he said thank you, then he said goodbye, then he hung up. I sat there with the phone in my ear, my jaw dropped, and a tear in my eye thanking God for the gift.

I guess when comes down to who to thank, I have a lot of people to thank. We are grateful and humbled by the support we have received. We will continue to work hard for you and continue to bring you a magazine you enjoy and can be proud of. It’s the active and involved readers who make SOKY Happenings so popular and effective, and I personally thank you for reading, for supporting our sponsors, for your continued encouragement… Thank you for picking up and choosing to read SOKY Happenings.

A Little Birthday Party

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Birthday on the inside porch.Monday November 15th - We had a few friends over to celebrate Vicki’s Birthday. The usual crowd mostly, Vicki, Paula and Robin plus me and Carrie. Nothing extravegant but we did a cheese tasting, had some tequila and then I introduced the ladies to Wii bowling. Oh what a hoot!

Since Wii only acomodates 4 bowlers, I sat this one out and I laughed until it hurt. Once they got the hang of the controller, they all were jumping around the living room, screaming and cheering each other on. It was hillarious… especially considering I was the youngest person in the room, I can’t imagine what young people would have thought of us.

Tuesday Nov 16th was a heavy work day and a day of ‘socializing’ rest. We have been going strong for almost a week now and Carrie decided to make some tortallini and chill in front of the TV. It was nice to just rest for a change.

Wednesday Nov 17th, I got a wonderful phone call from one of our sponsors. He had a national managers meeting and used our magazine as an example of effective advertising. He pressed the other managers to “find something that works and invest in it.” Then, he doubled his ad size in SOKY Happenings. WOOT!

Speaking of the magazine, we have made some significant changes over the past couple of months. The first is a new salesperson who used to own her own retail business. Angela has been able to relate well with local businesses and has brought a lot of new sponsors on board. And then there’s Jen – our new creative director who is taking care of the layout of the entire magazine. This month was the first month in 40 that I have not had to lay out the magazine. Needless to say, it looks much better now that we have true artist in charge. We have added a few new features and sections and I am confident we will be up to 100 or more pages early next year, even with the smaller font size. I expect that we will be in a position to open a new office/gallery early in 2011. I am very proud of our little magazine and what we are able to do for our community.

Today; I have to go take photos Blakes beer of the month now (read sample beer). I do like this job. (grin)

That’s all for now, Signature Chef’s event tomorrow and then the theater on Friday. I hope to have more pictures then.

Thanks for reading.


Press Day Number Thirty Six

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Oh how time flies! I finished the 36th issue of SOKY Happenings on Monday – that’s three whole years of the magazine and it feels good. We started 3 years ago with 36 pages, 20 sponsors and a huge knot of worry and dread. This issue has 92 pages, more than 90 sponsors, more than 40 writers and the future feels great. We are already planning to go up to 100 pages in our anniversary issue next month. WOOHOO!

Putting together the May issue was complicated by a number of things. It seems the change in work environment complicated the process because this is the first issue since we moved our offices home. Carrie is upstairs and communication was an issue. (Which will be resolved with a wireless intercom.) Another key factor was our organization. Normally, we have two grease boards filled with notes, reminders and new sponsors with their status – we did not get those boards on the wall until last week so we were less organized than usual. It’s fixed now, but it did cause a huge problem when there were 14 ads that needed to be approved on Monday morning when I’ve normally had that done by Friday. Then there’s the internet.

The DSL isn’t going to cut it!
While AT&T suggests that we would have enough bandwidth to accommodate our needs, it just isn’t so. It took well over 2 hours to upload 258 Mb. I don’t know if they throttle FTP down on purpose or it’s just our speed, but it seemed maxed out at 26 Kps the whole time. Downloads are also slower, but day to day browsing didn’t seem affected.

Our salesperson Cynthia brought over this new fangled gadget she got from Bluegrass Cellular. It is a modem/router that connects to the internet via the cell tower and 3G network. I had a chance to try it out last night and the speed was awesome. I even tried uploading to the printer server and it went up at 85kps and was rising when I interrupted it. It seems plenty fast enough and even got a signal in my basement. I will be getting one of those for sure and the $60 per month for unlimited usage seems affordable enough.

I’ll write further about the changes because now I face another decision as to whether I need DSL and telephone service or not. I have some testing to do with not only the Vonage phone system, but also the new alarm system.

Speaking of Home Security…
I asked a local security company to come give me a quote. I received a flyer in my newspaper box that stated I could have a security system installed for under $70 so I gave them a call. Even without door sensors, and no fire monitoring, the installation/equipment came out to $626. WHAT? Yeah. AND, the monthly monitoring was to be $25 per month. So I did a little research and found that I can get a complete wireless system for under $200, install it myself and have it monitored for $9 per month. No, I won’t mention the local company because I like them and I don’t normally bash local businesses on my blog. I will however post my sources for the system once I am satisfied that it works.

Bonus! IF, and that’s a big if, I can use the Bluegrass Cellular internet to be my link to the monitoring company, there will be no outside wires that can be cut! The system has battery backup, and the modem has an 8 hour battery as well – so even if the would be burglar cuts my phone, and power lines, the wireless system will still be able to communicate. I like that!

But first – I have an urgent technology issue that I must resolve today. It involves all of my websites and databases. I’ll write more on that when I’m done. BUT, if this site goes down for a day or two, now you know why. Well almost.

Other than that – things are great! We are really enjoying this new office situation!! There is more peace and fewer complications. My efforts to “simplify” and un-clutter my life continues! Carrie was surprised how much “stuff” I threw in the garbage as we moved the office. I tossed things that I’ve been holding onto for years. It felt great. Currently, my office is a huge mess because I had to interrupt the organization to publish a magazine. It resumes today and will continue until it’s done.

That’s all for now – Thanks for reading.

(Moved from old website on Nov21st, 2010)


Blog 2010

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Whew, where does the time go? I have been spending most of my “blogging time” doing other things, enjoying life, updating Facebook and taking it easy. Things are going great with the magazine! April will enjoy more than 1,000 events, more than 80 sponsors, more than 44 writers and one great community that enjoys and appreciates our efforts. I am truly grateful for all that has been accomplished.

I’ve also spent more time reading this year. A LOT MORE! I’m on my 6th novel of 2010. I am really enjoying historical fiction and though I’m on my 6th, there are four more sitting on the table to read. Frankly, this is more reading than I’ve ever done and I really like it. Who would think that I would even want to read? I mean I do read all of the articles for the magazine, including those that are not published each month. Then I read them again during proof. Then, when I have time off, I read some more. Weird, but much more relaxing and enjoyable than typing out senseless blogs about not much of anything I think.

Things are changing again. A good change, even if temporary. We finally got DSL out in the country where we live and even though It’s not as fast as the 10mb we currently enjoy with cable, I’ve tested it and I think it will be fast enough for our needs. So the BIG change is I’m closing my office in town and moving it to the house. With the kids all gone, I can use the family room in the basement as my office and Carrie can convert the third bedroom to her office. I may write more about the move and how I overcame some of the obstacles.

We had DirecTV installed in three rooms so I can won’t miss my news which I have become obsessive about, but also so Carrie and I can have more variety at home. She has one in her room too since she still wakes up some nights. I had a landline installed (gasp), mostly for the security system but also because it was cheaper to buy phone service with DSL than to get DSL alone. (Weird but true.) I changed my business phones to Vonage resulting in a savings of over $60 a month and it has some really cool features. After turning off the cable, phone service, electric, gas, water and not having to pay rent anymore, we will save nearly $1,000 per month along with having the convenience of working from home.

Temporary? Well sort of. We are on the lookout for that “perfect” location for the business. I would like a nice place on the square or a historical building. I plan to wait until next summer or maybe even the summer after that. I have found that we really don’t need an office just yet since all of our employees are freelance/contractors anyway. The planned office would be used for general reception as well as a meeting place. Since I wanted the ability to work from home even if we had a cool office, I figured this is the time to bring my office home and plan for a future office while I save money for the fixtures, equipment and doodads.

Another big change relates to my websites. Actually, as it pertains to how my sites are made available. I’ll write more on that after the change which is likely to take the next 2 months.

So there you have it, my first real blog of 2010. I know, still as boring than ever but it is what it is. I do appreciate hearing from my friends in town who ask, “Why don’t you blog anymore?” It makes me feel good that people actually read my ramblings. Now that the office is at home, perhaps I’ll be inspired more often. Who knows? but I’m sticking to my rules and keeping it from becoming another old man’s place to bitch and moan about stupid stuff. That would be easy! Maybe that inspires a new blog in and of itself.

That’s all for now! The magazines come in the morning and then we move the office this weekend. It’s going to be a busy week because I want to be ready to start working on the May issue before next weekend. HERE GOES!

(Moved from old website Nov 21, 2010)

It’s been a while for the ol’ blog

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It’s been a while since I blogged. It sure hasn’t been due to a lack of activity, actually quite the opposite, Carrie and I have been very busy with holiday events (see below) and putting together the December issue of SOKY Happenings. I’ve been keeping my “friends” updated on Facebook almost daily, but the blog has been an afterthought.

As I look forward to the coming new year, a glance back on the year that is concluding, I see many things that I am proud of, and many things I intend to change. I guess those thoughts can be saved for my year end blog, but suffice to say, I’m already drawing up plans for change in 2010.

I am proud that I have been keeping up with Kung Fu and even lost a good amount of weight, 25 lbs according to the scale, but even more “fat” as it converts to muscle. I will start an aerobics class this week in hopes of trimming more of the fat. The new year will bring yoga and weight lifting to improve flexibility even more, and bulk up muscle in the right places. Carrie is excited. (grin)

The magazine is doing well! We trimmed it down this month from 84 pages back to 68 mostly due to the lack of event writers this month. We still had over 30 writers and about 80 sponsors, so it’s a good issue. We won a state wide award this month too, but I have not received the particulars so I will post that when the information arrives. We were invited to the awards banquet but were unable to attend due to the work necessary on the December issue.

Much of my enthusiasm for next year revolves around the magazine business. I have been working on the business plan and I foresee 2010 to be a life changing year. I know I have rambled on about this in the past, but there were too many variables that forced me to delay my plans. The economy sucking as bad as it has played a key role in my decisions to delay. But, with the growth of the magazine and a solid plan for the future, the time just might be right to take the logical step in my business.

I am planning on some major changes in 2010, and instead of waiting on January 1st, I have already begun to make some of the changes. Some key changes are to make a conscious effort to “de-clutter” my life; to stop putting things off so much; to be more organized; to follow through better; and to be more willing to do the hard things. This is a reoccurring theme in my life, but to revisit it and make the decision to do better, I can continue to improve my life. It’s worked in the past. It’s funny, I can remember writing similar goals last year at this time, and looking around my office I can see some success over last year, but there is room for improvement.

On my old site I had a quote at the top of the pages, “If you want things to be different, you must be willing to do different things.” In my effort to continually improve my life, I tend to look at the things I want to be different and then make the changes necessary to effect change. I’m not always successful, but making the effort to better one’s self is far better than to wallow in a hope that would never come to pass without effort. I want many things to be different by this time next year! I have a plan, I have the ability, I have the experience, and I have the desire, all I need to do now is execute the plan and do all of the things necessary to achieve my goals… “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” From the “We choose to go to the moon” speech by John F. Kennedy on 12 September 1962. I may not be going to the moon, but I have lofty goals to be sure.

I’ve made many improvements this past year and I have the determination to continue to improve and to achieve what I believe is the next logical step toward my goal of freedom and prosperity. (Primary Aim)

Carrie and I at Entourage Tapas for a birthday party and to take photos of the chef. 19 November 2009

November 14, 2009 – Heading out to the CHF Charity Ball fundraiser.

November 12, 2009 Carrie and I headed to the Celebrity Chefs Auction for the March Of Dimes. Yep… beard is gone… for the weekend.

Carrie and I enjoying our fall weekend! Preparing to watch Alabama beat LSU (which they did). 7 Nov 09

Carrie thinks I’m crazy for sharing this one because we are so “relaxed.” True, I don’t wear baseball caps, and Carrie made that shirt waiting for me to come home… we are who we are and I thought that is good enough reason to share!

(Yes, I’ll be loosing the beard before the March of Dimes event on Thursday.) LOL

Halloween 2009 – on our way out to enjoy the night.

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