Weekend Coffee Share: The Last Moments of Summer

Good morning,

If we were having coffee, we would be at Starbucks right now. Thought it would be nice to have a change of pace. I usually get a frappuccino whenever I’m here. 

I’m still a little beat after yesterday. Actually, the past week. Kind of a last hurrah before Zoe starts school this week. We entertained some of the neighborhood kids. And one of our friends’ daughters visited Zoe and spent the night for a couple of days. Tuesday, we took a trip to downtown Atlanta to visit the Children’s Museum and Centennial Olympic Park, where she and Jaxon played in the fountain. Yesterday, we had a neighborhood yard sale. Didn’t make any money. It’s not like people didn’t know, but it was last minute.

Work is work. Walmart has been kind of stressful. Not only because it’s the back-to-school season, which is the precursor to the holiday season, but we’re having inventory. That’s always a stressful time. For the managers at least. I’m grateful I’m not in that position, but it seems like they pass the stress to us lowly associates. Doesn’t seem right, but what can you do?

I am reconsidering my second job. Delivering pizzas has been a nice change of pace, but it’s not working out as I hoped. The pay has not been contributing to increase the income. But part of that is because of the payments I’m making on some of my bills. Right now, I’m making payments on my new car every two weeks. I have to keep it up for a couple more months. And I’m not getting the full forty hours at Walmart anymore because they’ve changed the operating hours in my department. So I’m looking for another part-time job. My wife suggested Lyft. It would be no different than what I’m doing at Pizza Hut, except there’s no food involved. And I would have more flexibility. I can set my own hours. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing. I’m going to look more into it. 

My writing has been wonderous. I set a challenge to write every day this week. Saturday, I almost broke the streak. Not that it would be a bad thing, but I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible. I may take a small break from it once the first of the month rolls around. Between the posts on my blog, writing in my journal, and the short story project, I’m a bit tuckered out. Speaking of the short story project, it doesn’t look like I’ll make that goal. The science fiction story took almost two weeks to complete. But to be fair, I had trouble writing a story I liked. I went from a military operation to a tree in a space colony and back to the military thing. The third attempt was the charm as I brought back a character from my first foray into writing. Gave him a real name and added a ton of new characters. 

I wrote three stories this month. The most since I don’t know when. Granted, they’re first drafts, but still, I’m proud of myself. When writing them, I hadn’t thought about editing them, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ll read over the stories and pick which one to edit and rewrite first. In the meantime, the Flash Fiction Hive is starting a new month of challenges in a couple of days. So I’m looking forward to it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to add more stories to my blog. And maybe not have the whole “Happily Ever After” thing go on. 

Well, it’s time to wrap things up here. Have to get to work. Glad you guys could meet me here. Please let me know in the comments how you’re week has been and what you’re looking forward to as the start of the school year closes in. 

Until next time, take care…

Growing One Follower at a Time

This is indeed a joyous occasion. This week, I reached a milestone. I have 200 followers on my blog. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal. I understand if I reached 500, I’d be raising banners or something. But I’ll take it for what it’s worth. 200 followers is something I didn’t think would happen. Hell, I thought I would never reach 100 followers. It’s been a slow process. And I’m sure along the way, I lost some followers.

I don’t really track statistics on my blog. I don’t really pay attention to when I get the most views at a certain time, or think about when is the best day to post something. Or which post has the most views and comments. While it is interesting to see what the stats say, none of that really matters to me. I went into blogging to share what I know about writing and my works. And I’ve been doing this for two years now. And I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun with these posts.

If I had to pinpoint one contributing factor to this growth, I believe it’s because I am writing more. And one reason I’m being more active is the themed entries from the Weekend Coffee Share and the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I think these posts have given readers some insight into my life as a person and a writer. And then, there’s the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I did it for two straight years. I didn’t this year because I needed a break. And then there are random posts like this, where I kind of rant and ramble about whatever comes to mind. Those are the most fun because I’m writing stream-of-consciousness. 

I am grateful for the 200 followers I have. I don’t think I would have kept up with this blog if I felt I wasn’t getting any support. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more with this blog, and as such, gain more followers. Regardless, I’m happy to share my passions with all of you. Thank you. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Life in Progress

Good afternoon,

It’s nice to see you again. It’s been very busy around here. We’re counting down the days until Zoe goes back to school. She’s been having friends come over lately. I’ve been busy with both of my jobs, as well as maintaining the yard. It’s nice to get a little break. I picked up a Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks this morning, so I’m not really hungry. But help yourself to some coffee, orange juice, water. Whatever you want. 

So, if we were having coffee, first thing to discuss is the living situation. There’s nothing new to report, which could be a good thing. We’re still working out the financial details. In the meantime, we had an associate from one of our friends come by and look at the house. I know there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but we’re going to tackle it one at a time. And like I said, we’re working on yard maintenance. Tomorrow morning, probably, I’ll be mowing the back yard. Best time to do it before it gets too hot, or before it rains later in the day. (It’s been like that for the past week or two.)

I’m really hoping that we get the house. We’ve been getting to know some of our neighbors better. Last night, some kids came over to play with Zoe. They just moved into the neighborhood. I got a chance to meet the father. He and I have a lot in common. We like playing video games. We’re into Pokémon GO. He’s a wrestling fan, too.

I don’t get as many opportunities to meet kids’ fathers as much as Colleen meets the mothers. But sometimes, I’m nervous meeting the fathers because I feel out of their league because some work corporate jobs, and here I am struggling to make ends’ meet with two jobs. It’s not to say that they’re not struggling with the same thing. I have to put those fears aside and be more open. 

Last week, I mentioned—or I think I did—that I made goals to 1) write every day in July, and 2) wrote a short story a week. So far, I’ve been doing well. But it’s hard meeting the word count goal I set for myself. As far as the story a week goal goes, I’m in the middle of writing a fantasy short story. And it’s taking longer than what I anticipated. I’m more likely an not going to finish it today. (It’s my fault because I spent too much time planning.) But I will keep plugging away at it. And the next story I write will be a sci-fi story. I had written one before, so I’m looking forward to what I can whip up next.

So, that’s been my week. I hope yours has gone well, too. Please feel free to respond. I love reading what you’ve been up to. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Moving? Not Moving?

Good afternoon. 

How is everyone? Sorry for being absent the past couple of weeks. It’s been kind of stressful. But more on that in a minute. Meanwhile, help yourself to some coffee. We recently restocked on San Francisco Bay K-cups. They’re very good. And we have almond creamer. 

Now that we’re set…

Like I said, we’ve been going through a lot these past couple of weeks. About a month ago, we received an email from our landlord that he was going to sell the house we’re renting and that we had 60 days to move out. As of now, we’re making plans to move into our old apartment complex. And we’ve adopted a minimalistic lifestyle. A lot of stuff we weren’t using, we’ve thrown away or donated.

But my father-in-law has a friend whose willing to help us stay in the house. The process has been going pretty slow thus far. Meanwhile, we’ve been cleaning the place up. We recently had an inspector come and tour the property. He noticed a few issues that we already knew about. And it seems like we’re finding more as we clean to show our new potential landlord that we’re being proactive in maintaining the house. And at some point, we want to have a mortgage—weird as that sounds—so that we can be in control of the house. We can get certain benefits and bring in the help we want to make this place better. 

This has been very stressful. I don’t do well with a lot of change. It’s kind of traumatic. So my wife has encouraged me to talk to people about the house. To write in my journal. The journaling I’ve been doing, but not the talking to people. It’s like I hate talking to anyone about my problems, but I end up talking about it anyway. It’s maddening. But I can’t keep pushing this issue down. I have to let it out somehow, in a healthy way. I’ve been “stress-eating” the past week or two. I haven’t been proactive in going to the gym. But thankfully, my wife has been pushing me to do so. I think she sees my bad habits better than I do. And because she hasn’t been able to make it to the gym, she doesn’t want the membership to go to waste. 

I have been writing more these past few weeks. On Twitter, I came in on a challenge to write every day. I decided I throw my hat in as an accountability partner. It’s worked thus far. I also set another goal for myself: to write a short story every week. That almost didn’t happen the first week. I had a lot of writing I was doing. But I made time somehow. A couple of days ago, I posted a poll on Twitter on what my next project should be. By that, I mean what genre my next story should be in. Right now, it’s tied between fantasy and sci-fi. I haven’t had any experience in either. But that’s what makes a good writer; being open. In fact, one of my Twitter friends challenged me to participate more in the hashtag games. Especially the ones that appear geared toward a specific genre. It’s an exercise to unleash my creativity, something I feel is sorely lacking in me. (I won’t go into the details.)

Anyway, that’s what been going on the past two weeks. Feels longer somehow. Anyway, I hope to be a little more consistent in these meetings. And hopefully, we’ll be one step closer in knowing our living situation. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. How have things been? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care…

2017 Midyear Update: An IWSG Post

Good morning,

The first Wednesday of the month has arrived. So, it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. For those unfamiliar with this, bloggers all over post something the first Wednesday of the month, sharing something about their writing journey. The purpose is to encourage writers of all levels. If you want more information, click on the link here.

So, the bloggers of the IWSG have options. We can share something original or can answer a question provided by the group leaders. Today, seeing as we’re midway through the year, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to thus far.

At the beginning of the year, I kept my goals to myself. I thought there was no need to put my business out there because it meant I wouldn’t be as disappointed if I failed to meet my goals. But three months ago, in another IWSG post, I did. I had to share my goals. I needed encouragement, yes, but I also needed accountability. And I thought that by posting my intentions, people would read it and volunteer to hold me to what I set out to do. I had a few people step up after the post. But I’m always searching for more.

All right, enough of the prelude. I set four goals this year. Here’s the progress report. 

Write a short story outside my genre. I kind of put a halt on this goal. I did write a draft of a science-fiction story, but it’s been only the first draft. I haven’t started the second draft. But I’m looking to start a new story in another genre. Maybe fantasy. Maybe adventure. Haven’t decided yet.

Submit a short story to a magazine or contest. I just about gave up on this goal, but thanks to one of my Twitter friends, Julie, I decided to pick this goal back up. She gave me a website that had a database of contests and magazines I could submit my work to. I’m sure many of you have heard of it, Poets and Writers. I have it bookmarked on all my electronic devices. So I’m still trying to decide on where to send my work. 

Compile stories for a short story series. I have one story written, but am working on more. I almost gave up on this goal as well, especially given my track record. But I’m pushing through. I am bound and determined to make this happen. 

Write a short story a month. Out of the four initial goals, this is one where I haven’t done so well. I’ve lost track on how many stories I’ve done, but I know it’s not where I hoped I would be.

Honestly, I could have done better with the progress of these goals. In between the last update and this one, I about gave up on writing for some dumb reasons. The biggest was that I wasn’t writing every day. I’m part of a writing club on Facebook where you record word counts each day. In the month of May, I recorded more zeroes than in previous months. Some days I recorded back-to-back zeroes. In addition, I felt like I was getting a lot of support in what I was writing: contemporary short stories. And I posted my frustrations on both on social media.

I acknowledge the stupidity of those reasons. And I say stupid because after my rants, I was reminded of the support I have from fellow writers, even though they write works that are different from mine. And it also helped that I followed some friends’ advice to search outside the box, especially on Twitter.

Like I said, I feel like I made some slow progress on the initial four. But I developed some new goals along the way. 

Write a short story a week. This wasn’t something I initially thought about doing. It’s hard enough to write a draft, edit, and compose a polished piece in a month. Doing it all in a week sounds near impossible. And yet, I keep hearing that it’s possible for writers to write a short story in a week. So, I’m going to try it. I have a bunch of prompts I’ve pulled from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook (thanks to the 365 Writing Club), and searching Google. And the prompts vary in genre. So I am going to pick the four that scream to me to be written. I’ve already started one. Wish me luck on the rest. 

Read a book outside my genre. I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago. To summarize, I regretted not reading more books outside of school requirements and I’m trying to make up for it. Reading more leads to writing more and writing better, as it has been quoted numerous times. And my thought is that if I am to write outside my genre, I need to know some things about those genres that interest me. Research is involved, yes, but I think it’s going to take reading and studying the stories to learn what works and what doesn’t. I got some good suggestions from some fellow bloggers. And I’m on the hunt for more leads. 

Write every day for a month. This sounds generic and highly unlikely. I joined the afore mentioned Facebook club with the intent to write every day. But that May, I lost sight of the purpose of the club: to build a healthy, realistic writing routine. So, this month, I’m going into writing every day with that mindset. And it helps that I have some friends on Twitter that are going to hold me and each other accountable.

Well, that’s where I stand halfway through the year. I want to hear from you, my fellow writers and bloggers. 

Where are you as far as your writing journey goes? Is there anything I can do to encourage you? Do you need an accountability partner? Please let me know in the comments. Whatever you need, I’m here. Let’s help each other.

Until next time, take care…

Independence Day

I read a post where The Write Practice introduced some prompts about Indepence Day. I decided on the second prompt: writing a scene where a character celebrates a holiday or occasion. I figured it would be a good idea to give some insight into Alex Powers, one of the central characters of my short story project.

Here goes:

I don’t do well with holidays, especially the Fourth of July. Dad says it’s just an excuse to be lazy. I find that contradicting as he stands in front of the charcoal grill he’s had for twenty years, roasting hot dogs, chicken, ribs. All the meaty stuff. A couple of his friends surround him, part of the crew from high school, I guess. 

I sit on the patio, a cooler in hand. Tyson plays with the neighborhood kids. Brandy chats with Sean and his latest squeeze, some golden Egyptian girl he met online. I see neighbors across the street with their grills. It’s like a friendly neighborhood competition. Who can snag the most guests?

I remember the Fourth of July when I was ten. Dad and Mom were huddled around the grill she bought for him as an anniversary present. They were so lovey-dovey, kissing each other all the time. It kind of made me sick, but in a good day. 

That evening, we drove to the park to watch fireworks. For some reason, they weren’t speaking. Dad didn’t have the radio playing. I didn’t think anything of it. I doubt Sean cared, either. When we arrived, we grabbed our lawn chairs and just held onto them. All the best spots were taken. That’s when I heard Mom and Dad speak. They were arguing about something. A lot of things, actually. I wondered what was going on, but Sean, being the slightly older brother, stopped me. He told me to not interrupt them. So I didn’t. Besides, the exploding fireworks muffled whatever conversations transpired. 

When we got back, Mom got out the car. Dad stayed in and turned to us. Sean was asleep. I, surprisingly, wasn’t. 

“Boys,” he said. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your mother and I have decided to separate for a while.”

I knew what that meant, what that would eventually mean. But it was the fact that Dad apologized first that threw me off. I had never known Dad to apologize for anything he’d ever said or done. That floored me more than anything else. 

Dad doesn’t talk it much. I think it brings up bad memories, and that’s saying something about him.