Weekend Coffee Share: Spontaneity on Spring Break

Good afternoon,

First of all, sorry I wasn’t here yesterday. I was in Savannah. I got home late last night. So I’m a little tired still. I need some coffee and more. I have to go to work later today, so the visit is going to be short. 

Like I said, my family and I spent the weekend in Savannah. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I got half of the week off for Zoe’s Spring Break. So Colleen thought of the idea to pack some things and go down to Savannah. I had never been before, but there was talk within my family to do it.  We decided to go for it. 

On Friday morning, we left. I drove five hours. Not long with refueling and bathroom breaks. When we arrived, we passed through a poor neighborhood. It reminded me a lot of parts of Atlanta, Chicago, and pretty much all of East St. Louis. A lot of houses boarded up. Once we passed through, I felt like we entered another city. I saw housing and business unlike anything I’ve seen in Atlanta. I saw stores I didn’t expect, like H&M. Businesses only found in Savannah. When I finally found a parking garage (after traveling narrow one-way streets), we took in the sights. (I’m sorry I don’t have pictures. Colleen does most of the photography.)

We checked into a hotel (again, spur-of-the-moment) and got a little rest before traveling to Statesboro to meet up with Colleen’s brother and his wife. We had Olive Garden for dinner. Colleen and Philip talked about old classmates while his wife, Rachel, and I talked about books and writing.  My brother-in-law paid for us. That was nice. 

Saturday, Colleen planned the day a little better, but still spur-of-the-moment. We met up with a friend we knew from church at The Foxy Loxy, a very nice coffee shop. I explored a little while the women talked. It has an upstairs seating area. (Again, I apologize for not having pictures.) After spending some time with her, we drove about two minutes to a park to meet Colleen’s friend from school. I looked after the kids while they caught up. Colleen’s friend invited us to stay with her the next time we come down.

After the on-the-fly reunions, we went to Tybee Island, just outside of Savannah. It was the only thing that was planned. I was surprised that I had to pay for parking, no matter where I went. But it was fine. Manageable. For Zoe and Jaxon, it was their first time. It was a little chilly with the wind. She didn’t want to leave, but she shivered a lot. Still, it was a fitting end to a wonderful trip. 

We enjoyed our trip to South Georgia. Very exciting. I look forward to next year, when we’ll have a better plan. But even then, we’ll have room for spontaneity. 

Until next time…

My Writing Journey So Far: An IWSG Post

Here is my latest post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Every first Wednesday of the month, I and many other bloggers publish posts in the hopes to encourage writers of all levels. 

Today, I am assessing my writing goals for the first three months.

I didn’t announce all my goals in previous posts for fear that I would be a failure if I didn’t accomplish said goals. That being said, I think it’s about time I bring these goals to light. It’s like losing weight. You need an idea of where you want to be. And you need a plan to reach that “finish line,” whatever that may be. Equally as important is having people to hold you accountable, to spur you on when you feel like quitting and give you a swift kick in the rear when they see you’re waning. I’ve been lucky enough to find some writing buddies that I can pass my work along and will be honest with me. I need that in many facets of my life. 

Okay, on to the assessment…

Goal #1: Write a short story outside my genre. For those who don’t know already, I write Mainstream Fiction. It’s what I “know.” But I want to try other genres to give myself a challenge, especially in the short story category. I hear writing in genres to a hardcore degree is difficult. But a writer seeks to push himself; to not limit himself to one genre. Out of the genres and subgenres out there, I chose Science Fiction because it’s a genre that fascinates me above all else. I have a rough draft, but nothing past that point. I’m going over it and realize there’s more I need to add to the story. That’s what a rough draft is for, obviously. For now, I’m putting it on the shelf until I can work out the details better. 

Goal #2:  Compile short stories for a series. I’m focusing on this goal more than the others. And this is a goal I sought after last year, but failed. I think the big reason was that there weren’t enough stories to build on. But now, I believe I have legitimate stories I can build serials on. One idea came from a story I wrote on a dare; a story set in a barbershop. I wrote it thinking I wasn’t going to like it. But the more I invested, the more it grew on me. So now I’m brainstorming ideas for stories in this barbershop setting.

The second idea, again from a story, is a series of stories set in transit stations. Bus stops, subway stations, wherever. I shared the “first” story to a writing friend. She said it has potential. That’s something to go on. Juggling between these two will be hard to do, but I believe it can be done. 

Goal #3: Submit a story for publication. This is another work in progress, but this is more about overcoming the mental blocks I’ve put up over the years. I follow one blogger who posts writing contests once a month. I read them and make note of entry fees, deadlines, rewards, and so forth. And a friend on Twitter sent me an email with links to writing magazines. I’m researching them, too. And I receive emails from two websites always looking for submissions.

Despite these resources, I have yet to follow through on any of them. Why? Because I fear rejection. The last time I had a story published was Freshman year of college. Taking classes on Creative Writing and reading stories from my peers reinforced my fears. Obviously not intentional, but I kept comparing their works to mine, like it was second nature. I doubted myself then, and doubt myself now. I’m working on overcoming those doubts and taking the plunge. Being on a deadline helps. 

And finally…

Goal #4: Write a short story a month. It’s been said that a writer should be able to write a short story a week. The same blogger I follow posts a story a week on her blog. I’ve never been a person to write that fast. But I can, if I apply myself. I cite schedules, duties to family, lack of energy, not having enough ideas. You get the point. But all that’s false; all I’m doing is making up excuses.

There are three reasons I can churn out a story. One, I don’t have to be on a laptop to get words down. I have a notebook. I have a smartphone with Google Docs. Two, I can make time to write. I can “sacrifice” free time to write scenes out. And three, after I read a post on a writing blog, I realized I’ve been approaching short story writing wrong. There’s a formula that breaks down the steps to writing a short story. So within my goal of writing a story a month, I shall attempt to write a story a week. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Lights, Camera, Action

Good morning,

Good to see you. I apologize for the scattered mess in my kitchen. Colleen started selling makeup a couple of weeks ago. I’ll get into that in a minute. In the meantime, I’ll get the Keurig cups. Let me know what you want. We also have orange juice and milk and a couple of protein shakes. I’ll wait…

Okay, settled in? Good. 

First of all, it’s good to see you. I know last week, I dropped a lot since I missed the week before. We’ll I’m happy to report we’re in the clear. We’re getting back into our routine, somewhat. It’s going to take a little while.

Yesterday, I bought a book written by my old professor from Georgia State. Being that he taught a thesis on Creative Writing, it made sense that he would have a published book. I bought “Luminous Myesteries.” He has another book that I’m going to hunt down. I think it’s a collection of short stories. I’m going to look it up today. Colleen thinks I should shoot an email to him, catch up on old times. I don’t know if he’ll remember me, and I’m a little ashamed that I don’t have anything published since graduating. Still, it can’t hurt to reach out to him. He may be the mentor I’m searching for.

Now, as I mentioned before, Colleen is selling makeup for Younique. One of her friends sold her on the idea. It’s been a few weeks now. She’s posting Facebook Live videos, demonstrating some of the products. I was in one of her videos, where I put on a cleansing mask as well as a couple of other products. Truth be told, it felt good to have that spa-like treatment. I should do it more often. As far as her business goes, she’s gotten a few customers. She wishes more leads would bite. Like anything else, it’s going to take time. I imagine this is what marketing looks like. 

Seeing Colleen post videos on Facebook, marketing herself, has me thinking. Though I don’t have a manuscript in the works, it’s never too early to showcase your talents. I have other Facebook friends who share their personal opinions on different subjects. I have opinions I want to share. Opinions on writing, personal care, politics ( though I try to avoid them), etc. My problem is that I tend to ramble, which is odd because I write stories where there’s not a lot of room for fluff. I’m a scatterbrain when it comes to speaking. Now I’m not saying I need a script. It’s live, so there’s a level of authenticity. I just think I need to reel in the randomness.

Well, that is all for today. I know I promised a quarterly assessment of my writing goals for the year, but I’m saving it for my next Insecure Writer’s Support Group coming this Wednesday. So stop by my blog Wednesday if you feel up for it. 

Until next time…

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.