Weekend Coffee Share: Short Visit

Good morning.

It’s nice when we get together for coffee and a quick bite. I’ve been trying to get back to a healthier diet. Having energy drinks doesn’t help, but I’ve felt it necessary because I’ve had to take my sister-in-law to work early in the morning. But I could do without and stick to making a cup of coffee to get me through the day. And eating foods that provide the protein I need for energy. Which is why I like these Jif To-Go packs. Makes for a quick snack, but like everything else, have to eat it sparingly. 

So, let’s talk. 

I really don’t know where to begin. There are a lot of things to complain about, but I’m trying to be grateful, especially with work. I must say that I’ve had issues with customers and their blatant disrespect for the associates and the goods we sell to them. I know I shouldn’t be so worked up over it. It happens all the time. But I can’t help but to feel—what’s the word? Upset—about it. We do all we can to make the store presentable to our customers, and they just wreck everything. It’s maddening. 

Ok. I’ve had my rant. Now to better things. 

My wife recently started a blog on our journey with our son who, as I mentioned before, has been diagnosed with autism. Some of the things she’s shared, I couldn’t agree more. There are a lot of assumptions made about parents of autistic children. She doesn’t shy away from addressing those issues. (Actually, she doesn’t shy away from a lot. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with her.) I encourage you guys to have a peek at her blog and let her know what you think. Here’s the link.

As far as writing goes, it’s been pretty slow. I have a few ideas for stories, so I’ve been writing them out just so I can get them out of my head. I don’t really know what I will do with them. But I figure it’s best to do something to keep my writing brain in shape. And I have been journaling more to express my frustrations. But that only goes so far. At some point, I have to put myself out there. I have a slew of unfinished pieces waiting for the editing block. And if I’m going to be a better writer, I need to get some–you know what–and get these stories into the wild. Be prepared for the inevitable rejection. So, wish me luck. 

Well, that is all I have to say about this week. It’s been slow. Next week, though, I’ll share my time at my 20-year high school reunion. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, feel free to share your week in the comments. 

Until next time, take care and watch your step. 

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Weekend Coffee Share: Getting Back Into a Routine

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you guys again. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Sorry about the mess outside. Haven’t had a chance to clean up after Irma blew through here. Help yourself to some treats, including some autumn mix candy. We love this stuff, but can’t eat all of it. I’m sure my sister-in-law won’t mind. 

Ok? Good. 

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen you. Last week, everyone was focused on Hurricane Irma. At my Walmart, people were buying water, portable battery packs, flashlights, battery-powered radios. Pretty much anything that could be of help when the storm hit. By the time my shift was over, the store was practically picked clean. 

I paid a lot of attention to the weather reports on the days leading up. I had a local weather app I checked frequently. I watched and listened to weather reports whenever I could. By Monday, I breathed a little sigh of relief when I heard the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm upon reaching my neck of the woods. Still, it was pretty scary and it was no time to rest. There was still the issue of winds gusting up to over 60 miles an hour throughout the day. Monday afternoon, our power went out and was out for a little over a day. School for Zoe, obviously, was cancelled the day the storm landed. And the following day. I assume the school had their power issues too. I was off of both jobs that day, thank goodness. But I had to come in at Walmart the next day. And they were still out of power. From what I understood, the power was out for two days.

The focus this past week has been on trying to get back into a routine. We had to buy some supplies we used during the storm, which wasn’t a lot. I spent some time with my grandmother last week, too. It was nice to get out of the neighborhood. And Colleen posted an impromptu reunion for some of her friends who went to Georgia because of the hurricane. But the day of, there was a change of plans. We went to meet with one of the friends and had the makeshift reunion there.

The one good thing that came from the storm is the amount I had for assessment. Trying to figure how to make things better for me and my family. One conclusion I came to was finding another second job. So finally, I pulled the trigger and applied for another job. I hope to hear something within the next week. Also, I need to be more diligent in taking care of my health. I’ve been lackadaisical in not only counting my calories, but also my gym attendance. I think that comes from not making a schedule for the week and not getting the sleep I need in order to have a productive workout session. Starting today, even though I can’t make it to the gym, I need to get back to the enthusiasm I had starting out. 

I haven’t done a lot of writing the past couple of weeks. Last week, my focus was on the storm and trying to keep the kids busy. But that’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about it. The past couple of chat sessions on Twitter have been very spirited. So much so that I’m thinking about a new project. I’m not going to talk about it now only because it’s in the planning stages. I can say that this will be something I hadn’t thought of before and it will be probably the biggest undertaking of my writing journey. And truth be told, that’s what scares me about it. But I am lucky to have some great supportive writers. I’ve been doing on research on not only the project, but on how to “publish” it. I thought about starting a Wattpad account, but I got a lot of negative feedback on the idea. So I’ll leave it to my blog. And with some perseverance, you will be seeing my work coming to life. 

So, that about wraps it up. My thoughts go out to those recooperating from Harvey and Irma. Feel free to leave comments on how you’re dealing with things after the storms. Did they give you some perspective on certain things in your life? Let me know. 

Until next time, take care…

My Writing Rituals

Everyone has a set way of doing things. A certain process or procedure they follow deliberately and zealously. A ritual. Whether it be how you get the day started, the roads you take to work, the way you eat your lunch or dinner, how you wind down. Whatever you do, there’s a ritual. And certainly applies to writing. Some writers can be meticulous—borderlining on OCD—when it comes to their rituals. It’s like the stars have to be aligned just right—figuratively—in order to have a great writing session.

Over the last week or so, I watched YouTube videos on authors and their writing rituals. YA authors Kim Chance and Mandi Lynn started the tag and I’ve seen other videos by authors participating in the tag. Their answers are quite fascinating and they take pride in their rituals. As I listened, I found myself agreeing with some of these activities. More than I thought or imagined. So, even though I don’t have a YouTube channel, I thought I’d share my rituals with you, my blogging audience.
So, let’s get started.

1. When do you write? Day? Time? I don’t have a set day time to write. I work two jobs throughout the week, but when I have a break, which varies upon the schedule, that’s when I write. Evenings or weekends don’t work because I’m either working or spending time with the family.

2. How do you seclude yourself from the outside world? That’s hard for me to do. I steal time to write whenever I’m not with the wife and kids. I’ll put the phone on silent and will go somewhere else. Most of the time, my room. I’ll put on earbuds, turn on Spotify, and tune to a station that I know will help with my writing. I wear a Fitbit so I’ll get a notification when someone calls me. So unless it’s someone important, I won’t bother answering it. 

3. How do you review what you wrote the previous day? It depends on the stage that I’m at in my story. Overall, I don’t go in depth on what I wrote the previous day. I’ll skim over it and mark on my outline the section I completed. If I get a new idea for my story, I’ll revise my outline, then start fresh on a clean page in my notebook if it’s the first draft. On later drafts, I’ll start a new paragraph.

4. What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired? I listen to a few stations on Spotify, and it will usually depend on what I’m writing at the time. For everyday writer’s block, I listen to Lindsey Stirling and the like. Recently, I found an artist on YouTube I really liked named Taylor Davis. She does violin covers of popular anime and gaming tracks. So I subscribed to her station recently. I have a “writing music” station I listen to when writing Contemporary Fiction. I love listening to music scores and Hans Zimmer and Steve Jablonsky are two of my favorite composers. And lastly, a band called Two Steps From Hell. Kim mentioned this band in her Writing Tag video. If you’ve watched any action film trailer in the last several years, you might recognize their work, or something similar from artists like E. S. Posthumus. I’m trying to branch out to different genres like science fiction and fantasy, and those songs get me pumped, especially when writing an action scene. 

5. What do you do when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block? I do a few things. Instinctively, I’ll turn to YouTube and watch videos from different authors. I recently subscribed to Kim’s channel. But I watch videos from Kristen Martin and Jenna Moreci. I also watch TV show clip compilations or Internet-based shows. I subscribe to ScrewAttack, a gaming channel. The channel does Top 10 lists and a show called Death Battle. If you want a good laugh watching characters from gaming and anime fight to the death, it’s worth watching. I also write in my journal. I write to vent my frustrations about a story or whatever is going on throughout the day. I have a journaling app on my phone called One Day I use mostly. I also have a hardbound journal, but I fear losing it when I’m at work. 

6. What tools do you use when you’re writing? I have several tools depending on the stage of my projects. For brainstorming, I use Evernote on my phone. I have a notebook for writing notes. Then one for each project. They usually compose of character sketches and plot outlines. When writing first drafts, I use a pen and composition book so as to force myself to get the story out on the page. I don’t really bother with separate notebooks for my stories, unless they’re for a series of stories.  For later drafts, I have WordPerfect on my laptop. I recently bought the software so I’m still getting a feel for it. I also use Google Docs when I don’t have my laptop on hand. And finally, I have a 4-in-1 pen I use mostly for editing. I use red ink for striking out words and sentences, the green for adding words, and the blue for highlighting questions on certain sections of a story.

7. What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session? I have a couple of things, but since I have to choose one, it would be my 4-in-1 writing pen. It’s my go-to pen. I love how the smoothness when I’m writing with it. It’s wide enough to where I don’t have to worry about my hands cramping during a writing session. And most importantly, I love the convenience. I don’t have to fumble around my laptop bag or my pencil case to find the right pen for whatever task I need accomplished. And it’s useful for not just for writing stories, but pretty much anything where I apply pen to paper.

8. How do you fuel yourself during a writing session? Just about any beverage except tea. I used to not be a coffee drinker, but my wife turned me on to it. I don’t have a preferred flavor mostly because I use flavored creamer and whatever sweetener is available to offset the bitterness. Sometimes, it’s sugar; sometimes, agave nectar. If I’m at Starbucks, depending on the season, I’ll order either a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino or a Caramel Apple Spice. Anywhere else, it’s a toss-up. I won’t order food because I worry about leaving my grease prints on the paper. 

And finally…

9. How do you know when you’re done writing? I really don’t have a way of knowing when a story’s done. When I feel like I’m dragging a story along, that’s when I know it’s time to end it. Now, if it’s a lengthy piece, I’ll refer back to my outline, noting specific plot points. When I feel like I reached a good stopping point, I’ll call it a session. I don’t go by time or word count because–again–I try to write whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

So, there you have it. My writing rituals. In the videos, Kim and Mandi tagged certain authors, but that’s optional. I’m not going to tag anyone on this blog, but I am interested in what everyone’s writing rituals are. If you want to participate, go right ahead. And if you have any questions or comments about my rituals, let me know. 

Until next time…

Surprises About My Writing: An IWSG Post


Hey there. 

It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post for the month. As always, thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and crew for the opportunity for us writers and bloggers to encourage others with our stories about our writing journey. If you want to know more or join us in supporting others, click here

Today, I’m going to answer this month’s question:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? 

There are many ways to answer this questions. I can think of a couple of ways. First, and I think it’s the most obvious, I’m surprised at what I’ve written. For those who don’t know, I “specialize” in contemporary short stories. Lately, though, I’ve felt this urge to branch out in other genres. There’s a part of me that has wanted to broaden my horizons. The thing that scared me from trying is that I didn’t know the “rules” when it came to certain genres. The common threads. The clichés to avoid. The differences between casual and hardcore. The ways to incorporate these “rules” into short story writing. All these factors intimidated me from writing in different genres. But friends on Twitter encouraged me to go for it. As one friend put it, “go into overdrive.” As far as the “rules,” everyone said the same thing: the “rules” are more like guidelines than actual rules. So, I took stabs at them. A couple of months ago, to challenge myself, I wrote a fantasy and sci-fi short story. It took some time; more time than I anticipated. But it helped listening to music to put me in the right frame of mind. And when I finished and looked it over, I felt proud at what I accomplished. Sure, they were only first drafts, but I felt this surge of confidence. Like I could write anything. 

Going along with the works I’ve written in the last couple of months, I found I have the capacity to create some interesting stories. For starters, I have to give credit to the Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter. If you’ve read my blog, you know how much I’ve talked about this group recently. I also have been gathering prompts on Facebook and Pinterest. They range from the rooted to the outlandish. The important thing is that the prompts have pushed me to think outside the box. To step up my writing game. This has especially been helpful because for a while, I wasn’t posting a lot of stories. That has changed. I feel like I can post more and be confident in doing so. 

Those are ways my writing has surprised me. What about you? Has your writing surprised you? If yes, how so? Let me know in the comments. I would love to encourage you. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Serious Moment

Good afternoon,

I’m a little tired right now. Just got out of the gym. I’ve been up since 4am. It’s hard for me to get back to sleep sometimes once I wake up. I have some Folgers K-Cups in the pantry if you need some.

I’ll wait a minute…

Now, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting anyone to come by this weekend. With the Decatur Book Featival and DragonCon, I was hoping to have that time with my family. Unfortunately, there’s work to be done. But while I have a moment to talk, I want to discuss something serious.

I really don’t talk a whole lot about my family on this blog. As much as I want you guys to know the real me, I’m pretty protective when it comes to family. Continue reading “Weekend Coffee Share: Serious Moment”