I Need an Intervention

Good day, my friends. 

I hope you don’t mind, but I felt the need to address something nagging at me earlier today. 

On a Storycrafter chat, hosted by Faye Kirwin, she asked, “Which books have you emotionally connected with more than any other?”. I had no response. I couldn’t think of one book that resonated with me the most. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized a more pressing problem. I haven’t read a lot of books.

That’s right. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not something I’m proud of. Reading so many writers’ profiles and biographies, a common thread is how certain books influence what they write. (I find this especially the case with fantasy writers.) I can’t say that there’s a book that influenced me to write what I write.  I read books that were “required reading.” And that’s it. I didn’t take the initiative to read anything past it. I didn’t explore all that was available. And I regret it to this day.

It’s been said that we have to read if we are to write better. Regardless of genre and format, we need to learn from the past. Study the techniques from authors we admire. Learn what works and what doesn’t. And then, create something unique to us, even if the story’s been told hundreds of times.

The problem is that I’ve consumed so much “visual media.” I let TV and movies give me unrealistic expectations. For example, I expect a story to jump me right into the action, allowing no time for backstory and exposition. Now, this may be frowned upon in books generally, but I developed an extreme intolerance for it. If something doesn’t grab my attention right away, I don’t consider it worth reading. And on that note, I don’t take the time to properly invest in a story and all the aspects. I indulge YouTube, Twitter, whatever social media is out there rather than take the time to let my imagination run wild. 

So, I’m staging an intervention on myself. I need help in developing a healthy taste for reading. I don’t want to be limited to one genre and one format. I know there are classics I’ve never read or heard of. There are modern novels that might be considered classics in the future. There are numerous book series waiting for me to ingest. There’s so much to learn about the world today that stories can tell in their own unique way. And I’m missing out. 

So, for everyone reading this post, I’m asking for your input. I’m tackling this issue with an open and flexible mind. Name a book that has impacted you the most. A book or series of books that you think I should read. 

I will not use genre as an excuse. I will not use format as an excuse. I will not use time as an excuse. And I want you to hold me to these promises. I need this. If I am to be a better writer, I need to read more than I ever had before. 

Thank you in advance for your support. Until next time, take care. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Happy Father’s Day

Good afternoon.

Nice to see you guys. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting company, being that it’s Father’s Day and all. But I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some coffee pods and some almond creamer. It’s very good. 

Settled in? Okay…

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting a lot of company for Father’s Day. And to be honest, it’s kind of hard. And what’s strange is that I am a dad. I have two wonderful children, and I am so proud of them. I love seeing their eyes light up whenever I come home from work. And just yesterday, I shared some bonding time with my daughter at her karate school. It was fun. Exhausting, but fun. I wished I didn’t have to work right after. Oh well. 

So, back to my point…

The reason why Father’s Day is still hard for me is because of my dad. Before visiting him in 2012, I hadn’t seen or heard from my dad in a long time. Days like these, I cried because I saw friends with their dads. I felt alone. I felt unloved. I felt like someone drove a dagger in my heart so deep, I couldn’t recover. It was worse whenever I attended church services. When pastors talked about God as a father. That only fueled my anger and reopened the wound. I was mad at God, but even more at my dad because I felt like he didn’t want us anymore; didn’t want me anymore.

There were so many things I missed out on because my dad wasn’t there. And as much as my mom—bless her heart—tried to teach me and my brother, there were some things I believed dads could better explain. Like changing flat tires, shaving, tying neckties, dating. Things that I believed dads passed on to their sons. I missed out on those times. And I hated him because of it. 

I tried for many years to reconnect with him. Before the 2012 visit, I tried various ways to connect with him. Calls and letters mostly. He didn’t have a computer (and probably still doesn’t.) I sent pictures to my grandmother’s house, knowing that my dad frequently came by to check up on his family. He called at least once a month. Twice, if I was lucky. Then, the calls stopped. I remember getting a letter from him. I don’t remember what he said, but I felt it wasn’t enough to erase over twenty years of frustration and animosity. Then, September 2012, I made a stop in East Saint Louis to visit some of my relatives, including my dad. I wanted them to meet my wife and daughter in person. There were opportunities to confront my dad about feeling abandoned, but I chickened out. I didn’t want my visit to be spoiled by one moment of anger. I regret that decision.

I haven’t heard much from him, if at all. I tried everything I could to find a way to communicate with him. I asked anyone remotely related to him. I kept hitting dead ends. This “obsession” affected my own life, my own family. Until one day, I came to the realization that I couldn’t make this better. I couldn’t form a relationship with someone who didn’t want one; who wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to make a relationship happen. That day, I cried like I had never cried before. The dagger became a double-edged sword, driving through what place in my heart I reserved for my father. It was that moment where I decided that I was going to be the father I wished I had. I was going to treat my children better than my dad treated me.

Being a dad is hard. Maybe not as hard as being a mom, but it’s not to be taken lightly. There are so many children growing up without a strong father figure in their lives. Fathers to teach them what it means to be honest, trustworthy, persevering, respectable, upstanding, empathetic, caring. Basically, everything that is the opposite of media-driven “fatherhood.” Everything that society mocks and deems as “weak.” For a long time, I bought into those lies, and it nearly cost me the people who love me most. Those who say I am a good father.

Father’s Day is not as hard since I have kids of my own and vow to be there for them every day. But the scar is still there. In time, it will heal. In time, I will forgive my dad for all the wrong he’s done. I don’t know how he is or where he is. And perhaps, it’s not my place. But wherever he is, I hope he’s well. 

So if you’re here visiting me, and you have a dad out there, take a moment or two to let him know how much he’s loved and how much you care. If there’s any issues, don’t shy away from them. Make the decision to resolve them.

And to those who are dads, know that your family loves you and believes in you. 

Until next time…

Book Lovers Tag

Good morning. 

I read a post from Sarah Brentyn, the Lemon Shark. She participated in the Book Lovers tag. It sounds fun, so I’m jumping into the game. Now, I admit that I’m not a voracious reader, but as Stephen King eloquently puts it, “To write a lot, you must read a lot.” So I try to follow that mantra. 

Now, let’s get going…

Do you have a specific place for reading?

I don’t have a room where I can read in peace. My house is so small, so I have no privacy. I have to read during the evening. And I pick a spot where I’m most comfortable. 80 percent of the time, it’s my bedroom. 

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I can never seem to keep up with bookmarks, so I stop buying bookmarks. I’ll tear off a piece of paper, and it does the job. This is especially true when I borrow books from the library. I’ll use the receipt that shows the due date. Besides, if I want a decorative bookmark, I can do it myself. Just don’t ask for any fanciful designs. I don’t have that kind of talent. 

Can you stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

I can pretty much stop anywhere. But most of that is due to limited time. I prefer stopping at the end of a chapter, but if I can find a good point in the middle, that suits me just fine. 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

No to either one. I’m too focused on reading to think about eating or drinking anything. 

Music or TV while reading?

Since I’m a visual person, I’m easily distracted by TV. So I turn the TV off while reading. Music is another story. I try to find a playlist that councides with what genre I’m reading. Most of the time, it’s light classical. That mellows me out and gets me in the mood, especially after a long day. 

One book at a time or several?

One book at a time, for sure. I have no skills when it comes to multitasking. So trying to read several pieces at a time is near impossible. 

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I say reading at home, but it’s not by choice. I lost books and notebooks at work, so I’m nervous bringing them with me. The fear is too great. I may not have the privacy I want at home for reading, but I have security, and that’s what matters. 

Read out loud or silently?

I can’t imagine reading anything out loud, unless it’s instructions. Besides, most stuff I read are not suitable for younger ears. 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I kind of do both. The only time I will skip pages is while I’m reading short story anthologies. I won’t read something like that cover-to-cover. An actual novel is another story. I can’t see myself skipping pages. I want to take in all the details, major and minor. 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

It’s inevitable that the spine will break after reading something a few times. I try to keep anything like new, as impossible as that sounds. 

Do you write in your books?

Absolutely not. This goes along with the previous question. I try to keep things as new as possible. If I need to make notes, I’ll buy Post-It’s. Besides, there is the occasion where someone wants to borrow a book from me. So I want it to be in pristine order when I give it to someone, and expect it in the same order when I get it back. 

Well, that’s the Book Lovers Tag. Instead of tagging specific people/blogs, consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this and want to play along. All I ask is that you insert a link to your blog so as to acknowledge where the tag came from. 

I strongly encourage you guys to play. It’s a lot of fun. 

Until next time, take care. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Changes in the Air

Good morning. 

Nice to see you guys again. It’s been a couple of weeks. My apologies. It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m quite surprised I was able to get any writing done.

I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, help yourself to some tea and coffee. I’m working on getting back to drinking something other than energy drinks. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. So please excuse my yawning. 

* yawn *

Sorry. Now, let’s chat. 

Like I said, I worked like a madman the past couple of weeks. Not so much on the job front, although that can be taxing. No, it’s been more on the personal front. I’m sure you remember that I got into an accident the Saturday before Memorial Day. (If I didn’t in our previous conversations, now you know.) Anyway, the insurance company marked my car a total loss, given the age, miles, and circumstances of the accident. My family mourned the loss of “Blue Bonnie.” Thankfully, the insurance covered most of the expenses for a rental car. Ironically, I got an updated model of the car I had before. I think it was a way to spend our last moments with her.

But there was no time to really grieve. Since my car was a total loss, I had to figure out what I was going to do to get a new car. The insurance, thankfully, provided a settlement for the loss. It wasn’t what I hoped, but it was better than nothing. In the meantime, my wife and I shopped around dealerships, looking for a new car. And by “new,” I mean more recent used car. I thought I would have more time with the rental so that I could find a replacement. Nope. They shortened the time frame. I had to speed up the searching. I found a car, visiting a dealership in another city close by. I worried, though, that my credit wouldn’t be good enough for a loan. But this dealership has a reputation of getting anyone approved. I did and I didn’t have to make a big down payment. We searched the lot and found two potential suitors. A 2010 Scion xB and a 2013 Nissan Cube. Both had at least 50k miles. Both were roomier than “Blue Bonnie.” I took both on a test drive. They rode smooth. After the drives, I put the Scion on hold. (The Nissan had a hold on it before we arrived.) But, as much would have it, when I called my salesman to ask if we could be put on a waiting list for the Cube, the spot became free, so I jumped at the opportunity.

So while I was shopping around, I had to get paperwork in order and sent off so that they could pay off the remainder I owed. I had to hound them on the process because they were taking their sweet time and time was not on my side. They couldn’t extend the time frame on the rental, so I needed that settlement. I did something that rarely happens with me. I became belligerent with the insurance company, almost hostile. I called them three days straight, demanding they speed up the process. I was focused, determined, ornery. And it worked. They told me I would receive the settlement within two days. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. 


So, enter today. And as you can see, I got my new car. Christened “Silver Bonnie” by my daughter. (The funny thing is that she names every car in my family “Bonnie.” I think it’s cute.) There’s still some matters to take care of with the insurance and tags. I’m hoping this won’t take too long, though.

So, while I was mourning “Blue Bonnie,” our landlord sent us an email. He said that he was putting his house on the market. We have to move out by July 31st. To be fair, he gave us first crack at buying the house. Unfortunately, my credit sucks, so we weren’t even considered. So, Plan B. I went by our old apartment complex to get an application. And my wife looked at another house in our subdivision for rent. She likes the backyard. So hopefully things will work out that we are able to rent the house. 

As you can tell, everything came down on us last week. We’re scrambling to get things in order. So please excuse the mess. We have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. With all that’s going on, it’s a surprise I was able to get any writing done. Somehow I made it work. Not only did I write a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, but I posted a flash fiction piece I worked on last week. (Thank goodness for Google Docs for smartphones.) I hope you take the time after we’re done to read both. 

Well, that’s all for today. Have to get to work now. But feel free to let me know in the comments what happened with you this week. 

Until next time, take care…

The Promise

I recently followed a group on Twitter called “The Flash Fiction Hive.” Last week, the Hive challenged its members to write a flash fiction piece based on a song. I chose Craig David and Sting’s Rise and Fall. (If you haven’t heard of it before, I recommend you look it up on YouTube. 

Anyway, I was excited because it was the first story I had written in a while. And the first time in a while that I posted a story on my blog. I hope you enjoy it. 

Gordon stopped at the door. He hung his head, banging on the cream door. His friends warned him, but Gordon knew this was what he wanted. Jennifer, his girlfriend, wrote songs that complemented his deep voice. And everyone loved him. This was the first step in his path to stardom. It was supposed to be the beginning of a better life for him and Jennifer.

But he dreaded entering his apartment. He knew what was waiting for him. But he stood straight, ran his hand across his bald head, and cleared his throat. Gordon turned the brass handle and entered. And sure enough, Jennifer stood waiting for him. If not for the intense stare from her golden eyes, the glow of her bronzed frame in the moonlight would hide a woman scorned and ashamed. Gordon closed the door and walked up to Jennifer. He flashed a smile and a bouquet of daisies and lavender. Jennifer just stood, not caring about anything he was going to say.

“Hey, Jen. How’s my—”

Jennifer slapped him before he could finish.

“How dare you,” Jennifer barked. He gave a look of shock. Her words reeked of a vileness he hadn’t experienced before. Jennifer flashed a picture of him with some fans. She singled out a female draped around him.

“You promised me,” she sneered. “You lied to me. Did you think—? What the hell were you thinking?”

She plastered the photo onto Gordon’s chest and turned away from him. He picked it up from the floor. 

“Come on, baby. You know this doesn’t mean anything. So we had some fans come on stage. Big deal.”

“No, Gordon,” Jennifer replied in a raised, sharp tone, “it is a big deal. We talked about this. You said this wouldn’t happen again.”

He remembered the last time a female fan showed her appreciation. Jennifer caught them making out in his Camaro. She stormed out, tears bursting out of her eyes. Gordon caught up with her, pleaded with her to take him back. She agreed under the condition that there wouldn’t be any more girls.

“It’s not like the last time,” Gordon said. He lay the bouquet on the couch.

“Save it,” she said. “I’ve heard it all before. And I ignored it for a long time. I can’t deal with this anymore. We’re through.”

Jennifer turned her back from him. She felt her eyes swell with sadness and anger.

“Come on, Jen. You don’t mean that.”

Gordon caressed her shoulders, but she shrugged him off. He approached her again and twirled her around. He desired to see the sparkle in her eyes.

“I promise you, nothing happened. Nothing. I wish you were there with me, so that I could celebrate with you. You, babe. I promise you, there’s no one else.”

Gordon wrapped his arms around her. He pressed his lips onto her forehead. She looked up at him. The moonlight hid the redness of her eyes. 

“Promise?”

Gordon kissed her lips. “Promise.”

Jennifer tasted the sincerity and returned the favor. They kissed long and hard. He lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom, leaving the bouquet behind. 

Quitting Time: An IWSG Post


Good afternoon.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another post for Insecure Writers Support Group. Bloggers like me write a little something to inspire and encourage fellow writers. We either write an original post, or answer a question provided to us by the group. If you want to know more about the IWSG, click here.

For today’s post, I am going to answer this month’s question:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

This is a topic I covered before on my blog, as well as read on others. It’s one of those things that never gets old in the sense that we’ve all felt like giving up on our writing. The reasons are different, but it doesn’t change the fact that at some point in our writing journey, we wanted to throw in the towel. 

I wanted to quit–and have–on several occasions. One time, I quit because I wasn’t doing anything with my degree. I wasn’t taking that next step in writing a novel. Another time, I quit because I wasn’t writing as often as I “should have.” I took it as I wasn’t serious about writing, even though I had a degree. And even when I decided to take my writing more seriously, I felt like giving up for the reasons I just mentioned. 

I jumped off the wagon too many times to count. Just recently, I wanted to quit because I felt like I wasn’t getting the support I hoped for on social media. It sounds silly, like the afore mentioned “reasons,” but allow me to elaborate.

I’m a member of a few Facebook groups and I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. I say about 90% of the members and writers I follow are writing novels in either science fiction or fantasy. And most of them are geared for young adults. The hashtag games I follow on Twitter feel like it’s skewered toward those genres. Nothing wrong with it, but those are not my interests. I’m set in writing short stories in contemporary fiction. That’s what I know. And it’s been hard finding writers who share my interests in the format and genre of my choice.

To move this subject more towards writing, I dreamed up of writing numerous series of short stories to post on my blog. Recently, I had an idea of writing stories set in a barbershop. But I gave them up because I felt there were too many issues that couldn’t be ignored. I chalked them up to a number of reasons. Not having enough experience in the matter. Not having enough conflict in the stories. Too many characters in the stories. The list can go on and on.

So, as you can see, I have a history on giving up on writing. And until now, I spouted a lot of reasons. But the more I think about it, I’m coming to understand a single trend. Writing, no matter the endeavor, requires two things: passion and commitment. It’s one thing if you’re burnt out. It’s another if you aren’t passionate or committed to push through when the times get tough; when you feel like no one supports you. I haven’t been either committed or passionate. I gave up on my projects way too easy. I wasn’t willing to stick with it. 

So, I have a commitment issue. I have a passion issue. But…I still write. So the question is, what keeps me going, knowing the issues I have? The answer: I love to write. I can’t imagine not writing. I believe it’s in my blood. And no matter how many times I’ve fallen off the horse, I get back on. Why? Because I love it. So maybe it’s not a passion issue in terms of the whole spectrum; just a specific area. And, contrary to my beliefs, I have support. Support from many writing friends on social media. Support from my family. And I have hope. Hope that regardless of what I write, I will find someone who shares my passion and will spur me to write the best damn story I can. That’s what keeps me going. 

I want to hear from you. Have you wanted to quit? Be honest. What keeps you going when you feel the urge? Let me know in the comments, and let’s talk.

Until then, take care…