Weekend Coffee Share: Catching Up

Good afternoon.

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve last talked. Help yourself to some coffee and orange juice. I also have unsweetened tea, if you’re so inclined to have some.

So, we didn’t talk last week because my family was still fighting an illness going around. That took up a lot of my time that week. Not too mention work can be taxing and not allow time for gathering around the table. It’s pretty much get up and go in my life; not a whole lot of time to do much of anything else. But now that the illness has subsided, we can talk. 

So Spring is in full effect, though the first couple of days, it didn’t seem that way. And my neighborhood went through a big storm; knocked out power in a lot of areas, including the Walmart where I work at, for an extended period of time. Pretty sure it cost the store a lot of money with most of the cold stuff going to waste. I thought about not coming in, especially since I took my daughter to the pediatrician. She had the flu and a viral infection. She pretty much had to let it run its course. So I had a legitimate reason to take the day off, but the managers probably wouldn’t see it that way. So I came in, worked my hours and left.

Zoe did get better, and just in time for Sno-Cone Day at her school yesterday. Coincidence? Maybe. But who am I to argue. That same day, I went to the doctor’s for my annual physical. I got the results later that evening. Overall, I’m in better health. Still have questions on some of the numbers. I’ll find out about them sometime this week. And last night, we went to Golden Corral to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was very fun, very relaxing. We didn’t go overboard on the food. Thank goodness. Mom had a great time. She got a lot of cards and a few trinkets. Yeah, it was a good night. 

In the two weeks since we’ve talked, I’ve been reading posts on Facebook writing groups and attending Twitter chats about marketing. This is something I haven’t thought about because I feel like I’m not at that stage. But it’s never too early to start, apparently. I’m thinking about my blog as we’re chatting right now. I feel like it needs more pizazz. Something to make it stand out. Someone mentioned on Twitter creating business cards to pass to potential editors and agents. It’s very overwhelming, but it is necessary.

Speaking of blogs, the April A to Z Challenge is fast approaching. I’ve done it for two years straight, but have decided not to do it this year. It’s not as if my theme was something awe-inspiring and eye-catching. And creating various topics was a struggle. I think if I was writing a book series or even a novel, it might be better. Seeing how I’m doing neither, I think it’s better I sit this one out. I’m sorry to those who’ve been following my blog from the beginning. 

I’ve been busy with writing as I’m thinking about how to market myself. I finished the rough drafts of two stories and a third draft of another. The third draft is with my critique partner. I’m waiting on her comments. As it stands, I’m on pace of writing a story a month. I’ve heard that one should be able to churn out a short story a week, but I don’t operate that way. I don’t have that many ideas floating around. But I might try that sometime this year. Maybe in the next month or so. We’ll see. 

Well, that about covers everything that’s happened the past two weeks. Hopefully things are going well with you. Look forward to your comments if you feel inclined to share. Oh, by the way, my next Weekend Coffee Share will be a quarterly assessment of my writing journey this year. So this might be a little long-winded. Or not. It depends on how in depth I go and how critical I am on my assessment. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Losing and Gaining

Good afternoon,

I apologize for last week. There wasn’t a whole lot going on, so I thought having you come over would be a snooze fest. Besides, everyone in the family was getting over some form of illness. But I’m glad you decided to stop by. Pull up a chair. 

If we were having coffee, I’d share some losses, in a good way. First off, I lost some weight. My wife and I have been going to the gym just about every day. I’m cutting out a lot of foods and drinks from my diet. The biggest being gummies and sodas. Now I feel like I’m finally starting to see results. I lost nine pounds since joining the gym in February. I really started noticing the change wearing my jeans and khakis. There’s room. I had to buy a smaller belt to keep them up. 

Next loss, which might be considered a gain. It concerns my delivery job. It should be noted first off that I take things more seriously than I ought to sometimes, putting on unnecessary stress. I thought about leaving that job because it was getting too stressful. After some delegation, I’m going to start working one day a week, thereby “losing” some stress. 

If we were having coffee, I’d share about some of my writing projects. I always seem to take on more projects than I can handle and have to put some on hold. For starters, I was working on a Valentine story. I finished a first draft, but haven’t made the time to type it out. Then someone suggested I write a story set in a barbershop. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I wrote it anyway. I’ve been getting some good feedback on it. But I’m putting that on hold to think about what direction I want to take it.

So, I’m starting on my next project: the sci-fi story I’ve been rambling on about for a while. I decided to finally take the plunge. I spent the last month plotting and researching this story. I feel like there’s not much more I can do. The time for talk is over. It’s time to lose the fear and gain the confidence. As I read from a writing blog, it’s time to be stubborn. It’s time to stop wishing and start writing. I’m sure something will come up as I’m writing it. It never fails.

This has been a great week. Hopefully, your week has gone well, too.

Until next time…

Would You Rather? Reader’s Edition

A couple of weeks ago, I told you all about a game a blogging friend, Rachel, posted, called “Would You Rather?”. She created a writer’s version and a reader’s version. Two weeks ago, I played the writer’s version. Today, it’s the reader’s version. The premise is the same: I’ll answer questions provided by Rachel. I won’t tag anyone, but you’re welcome to play along. The link to the reader’s version of her game is here

Here we go…

Would you rather read stand-alone books or books as part of a series?

This is an interesting question. It would be hard for me to keep up with a book series. So many characters, so many stories within a story. And there are some stories that read like stand-alone novels, I wouldn’t know it was part of a series unless I researched it. But I tried reading first installments of series, and they haven’t piqued any interest to reading more. But I think I would give it another try. It would have to be one that coincides with my interests. 

Would you rather only read print books or e-books?

Print books, for sure. Now yes, E-books are more convenient and just as easy to navigate. And I downloaded a free book onto my iPad. But there was something odd about holding my iPad like a book. It just felt…wrong. I like having a print book in my mind. Reminds me of simpler times. 

Would you rather never be allowed to re-read books or only be allowed to read five new books per year?

That’s tough. To not be able to re-read books is hard to think about. I have a few favorites in my little library, but I’m always on the hunt for something new. Reading five new books a year sounds limiting, but it works for someone like me. I typically don’t read fast, so I can stretch it out for as long as I want. 

Would you rather read 50 pages a day or only five books per month?

For sure, read 50 pages a day. Like I said, I’m not a fast reader. Also, I like to take in everything I read, to really get immersed in a story. It’s hard to do reading a book a week, as it averages out. 

Would you rather read only one genre all the time or read in every genre except my favorite?

First of all, I really don’t have a favorite. If I had to choose one, it would be General Fiction since I write in it the most. So to answer the question, I would love to read in every genre except my favorite. I know that’s probably easy to say really considering the genre is pretty broad. But I think about Stephen King’s words of wisdom: “To write a lot, you must read a lot.” Or something to that effect. I think that expands to reading stories outside your expertise. Something I haven’t done in my writing journey. And if I want to write a sci-fi or romance story, I better have a feel for the genre.

That’s all the questions. I encourage you all to read and play along. 

Until next time…

Rising From the Grave: An IWSG Post

Once again, it’s time for a post from the Insecure Writers Support Group. I have to say that I enjoy writing these posts, and this is only the third post I’ve done. 

I had a couple of ideas for original posts, but they couldn’t wait until today. So, I’ll take on this month’s question. 

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Any writer will tell you that there’s at least one story that he wishes he could do over, regardless of its success. It’s just part of the process. I have such a story. It was published in a local college literary magazine. It was one of my first stories. I wrote it out like a journal. Looking back on it years later (I still have a copy of the magazine), I realize there are so many flaws in it. Too many to mention here. 

One year, I thought about pulling it out and reworking it. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well. I think the musevwas telling me that it wasn’t necessary to rewrite it. That I needed it to chalk it up to learning experience. 

I think I am a better writer than when I wrote it years ago. At least, I think I am. I haven’t submitted anything since that story. But that’s something I’m going to remedy this year. 

Being an African-American Writer

Being African-American (as if you didn’t know), you might be a little surprised I haven’t written a post in relation to Black History Month. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I really couldn’t come up with a topic to write about. Until now…

I recently started reading a book I bought years ago. An anthology of stories written by Black authors. There are two volumes, but they span nearly 100 years worth of literature. It covers a spectrum of time periods and themes. Besides Hughes and Angelou, there are a lot of authors in this book I’ve never heard of. I’m kind of ashamed. I guess there’s this perception that I should be looking up to these authors rather than someone like Stephen King. But how can I be inspired by a writer I’ve never heard of before?

The truth is I can’t. It’s not because I don’t care; it’s just that what I write is a lot different from what they wrote. And most of their stories had some sort of message, whereas mine do not. But I don’t see anything wrong with it. I just write differently than them.

I will say the one thing I’ve noticed as I peruse libraries and bookstores is that there aren’t a lot of African-American writers published. There are few stores and libraries with a section devoted to African-American literature. I think it’s kind of sad. I would read more current African-American authors if I knew about them. I know they’re out there. Writers of science fiction, horror, contemporary, historical fiction, poetry. Writers whose stories reflect the African-American culture and struggles that African-Americans face today as they did in the days of slavery. 

I hope to one day be published. I strive to receive the recognition that Angelou or Toni Morrison have, but it may not happen. No big deal. I want to show this generation and future generations to know the possibility of success in the creative fields. 

Weekend Coffee Share: The Sickly Round Robin

Good afternoon,

I would shake your hand, but I rather not risk it. We all have been feeling a little under the weather. But feel free to some orange juice and water. There’s a couple of bottles of Gatorade, too. So have at it and keep your distance. 

As you can tell, I’m not in a coffee mood. But, if we were having coffee, I’d talk about the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. Makes me think there’s something to this whole climate change thing. Not that I like to be cold, but this is just wrong in so many ways. And it’s because of this freaky weather that allergies have been flaring up. Thus leading to the sickness. 

The sickly thing actually started last week. I took my son to the doctor’s office because he wasn’t eating much. And if you’ve been around us long enough, you know my boy will eat just about anything. So I took him in. It turned out he had strep throat. We got antibiotics, but getting him to take them was like pulling teeth. (Typical for any child.) Then, earlier this week, my wife and daughter were feeling under the weather after leaving the gym. (By the way, you should not go bragging that even though you’re sick, you worked out.) So I took them in the next day. The doctor concluded they had flu-like symptoms, but no flu. He prescribed antibiotics to be on the safe side. I went to the doctor later in the afternoon to be on the safe side. I was fine, outside of some coughing. It wasn’t like last year when I was diagnosed with pneumonia and had to stay in bed for three days.

So it seemed like things were getting better, but my son was coughing pretty bad; some cases it sounded like he was gagging or about to throw up. I also noticed some goo around his eye. I took him in this morning. The strep was gone, but he contracted pink eye. I picked up his medicines today, including a different antibiotic for the coughing. My poor family.

With all the sickness going around, I’m surprised I haven’t contracted anything. But I’m not taking chances. Neither should you.

Wash your hands before you leave and take care of yourself. Until next time…

Would You Rather? Writer’s Edition

Hello there.

So I was reading through my WordPress feed when I came across an interesting post. A blogging game from Rachel, a fellow blogger, called “Would You Rather?”.  Basically, she created a series of questions and answered them. No one was tagged, but she encouraged bloggers to play and that bloggers would link back to her. I read the Reader’s Edition, which contained a link to the Writer’s Edition. (The Writers’ Edition she posted last month.)  If you want to participate, here’s the post.

So, here goes.

Would you rather go on a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere with no wi-fi or be in your own home being interrupted every so often by friends and family?

Tough question right out the gate. I say go on a writing retreat. As much as I enjoy the company of friends and family, it’s hard to make the time for writing. Recently, I made a trip to North Georgia where Internet connectivity was extremely limited and the GPS was not a lot of help. But along the way, we spotted some pretty fancy houses that would make for good places to house a weekend writing excursion.

Would you rather publish one best selling novel and never write again or multiple novels that don’t sell well or have average sales?

I’m going to the latter on this one. No doubt writing a novel is hard work and I want to have a best seller. But the thought of not writing another book is preposterous. So I may not have that best seller. So it may not reach a national audience. But I think I’d have more joy with people close to me read my book. Besides, there are so many ideas, I can’t imagine not being able to write them. 

Would you rather be a best seller with your real name and have people stopping you everywhere you go or a pen name where no one knows who you are?

I heard an interview with Nora Roberts, a romance novelist, on NPR on how she used a pen name to publish thrillers. It makes sense using a pen name, especially if you don’t want to be tied to one specific genre. But people have a way of figuring out who you really are, so I don’t see the point in a pen name. But that’s me.

Would you rather teach English/Creative Writing classes in high school or college?

I say high school. Quick story. Before I took up writing as a degree, I wanted to be a teacher. I thought elementary school, at first. Then I took Creative Writing classes and thought I could teach high school students the same thing. Also, one of the things I regret is not nurturing the writing bug when I was younger. I think Creative Writing in high school gives students an opportunity to express themselves in a constructive way. 

Would you rather only be able to write during the NaNoWriMo months (April, July, November) or only write five days per month?

Tough one. Writing five days per month suits me better because I don’t do well with writing every day. Add to the pressure of meeting a word count goal and I would shut down. Either situation presents opportunity to brainstorm and outline. But having the choice of which days to write suits me better. 

So that’s it for the Writer’s Edition. Next week, I’ll play the Reader’s Edition. And if you want to play, please do. And don’t forget to link back to me. I want to read your answers.

Until next time…