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…

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…

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…

Weekend Coffee Share: Recovery Mode

Good afternoon,

I’m happy to see you. It’s a little dreary outside, but I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some lemonade as well as some K-cups. Once you’re done, have a seat. 

First of all, I apologize for my absence yesterday. I had a full, “exciting,” day. It all started yesterday morning, after I dropped off Colleen, the kids, and my sister-in-law at the gym. I drove to Duluth to get my haircut before going to a cookout at my mom’s house. After making a quick deposit, I got hit by a driver running a red light. I was lucky no one else was in my car and that the other driver was okay. As it stands now, I’m using my mom’s SUV until I get a rental. 

After that craziness, I picked up my family and went back to Duluth for the cookout, which doubled as a graduation party. The invite said it started at 1, but no one really showed up until around 3. We had a plan of staying for a few hours, then head home. We stayed the whole evening. We had a great time with family and a few friends of the family. So, we’re still a little beat from the party. We’re in our pajamas still. 

As far as writing goes, I’m recovery from a “period” of questioning my worth. I started writing in my journaling app on my phone, but not about my writing. I wrote about some of the personal stuff going on in my life. Mostly about my jobs and family. By the end of the week, I made a difficult decision. I decided to abandon my plans for writing my barbershop series. 

Just a quick recap, I wrote a post declaring my intentions to write a short story series on my blog. I wrote one story and shared it with a couple of writing friends. Because they enjoyed it, I thought it would be interesting enough to write a series of stories. For over a month, I outlined possible plots, brainstormed different “customers,” and so on. But nothing was clicking. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that the series wasn’t going to work. The biggest issue is the stories themselves. They’re more like vignettes than stories with conflict. It just won’t work.

So for those expecting the series to get off the ground, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I wanted the series to go well, too. I went in with the intention that this would be my opportunity to really showcase my writing prowess; something I’ve wanted to do since I started this blog. But after this latest debacle, I’m thinking serials aren’t the way to go for me. Lesson learned. 

Anyway, that’s all for this week.

Let me know how you’re week has gone in the comments. I don’t want the conversation to be one-sided. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Questioning My Writing

Good afternoon,

Welcome to the house. Glad you can make it. I have plenty of San Francisco Bay K-cups. So help yourself. My wife likes this brand a lot. I also have almond coffee creamer. Kind of a nice alternative. So let me know what you want. I’ll wait. 

… …

Okay. Let’s talk. 

I don’t have too much to share about this week. We’ve been counting down the days until Zoe finishes kindergarten. We’re so proud of her. In the meantime, we’re making plans on what to do over the summer.

I wanted to talk about my writing. Rather, my writing woes. I’m in a slump. I’m not writing as much as I had in the past few months. I haven’t written in my journal as much. I don’t have any ideas for my next story. And I lost interest in finding a contest/magazine to submit my barbershop story. It’s just been a flat month thus far. I can count it up to being burnt out. But that’s not much of an excuse, even though it happens. I’m not “inspired” to write these days.

But the more frustrating thing about writing is that I wonder if social media is right for me. The writers and hashtag games I follow on Twitter. The Facebook groups I joined. The multitude of writing prompts I collect on the Internet. I feel like they focus on writing novels in the sci-fi/fantasy genre for young adults. Don’t misunderstand. They’re wonderful genres. And that’s the trend these days. I’m just wondering if there’s room for the kind of fiction I write: short stories in Mainstream Fiction. 

I expressed my grievances on Twitter and Facebook. About me not writing as much and about the lack of support for my genre and format. I even tweeted a call to find short story writers. I received random statements of encouragement from both platforms. Someone asked on Twitter why I put the call out for short story writers. I just know they’re out there. And I understand that short stories are a hard sell. Even the anthologies, as good as they are, don’t translate to best sellers. I feel chided and shunned, but I can’t be the only one that feels that way.

But regardless, this is the path I’ve chosen. This is what I believe my calling is. And I love the short story format. So make fun of me all you want. I don’t care. 

Sorry for the ranting. That’s what I’ve thought about this week. Maybe next week, I’ll have more to talk about.

What about you? How was your week? Anything exciting planned? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care.