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…

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.

Weekend Coffee Share: Celebrating Mother’s Day

Good afternoon,

Welcome to my home once again. You’re in luck because my mother is here with us. She says “hi.” We just finished lunch. We made street tacos. They were small, but fulfilling nonetheless. Unfortunately, you missed the tea party with Zoe, but we have K-cups with tea. Help yourself. 

So, this week hasn’t really been eventful. But I’ve been looking forward to spending time with my mom. It’s rare that I get time with just her. Most of the time, when we come over to her house, she’s got company. There’s my grandmother, who lives with her. That’s fine. But sometimes, she has other people over and that time goes out the window. Which is why today is so special. I won’t be able to spend Mother’s Day with her or Colleen because I’m working. (Presents are already taken care of.)

So, next to Colleen’s birthday and our anniversary, Mother’s Day means a lot to me. Reason one, which is obvious, is my wife Colleen. She does a lot for Jaxon and Zoe. She runs the household like a well-oiled machine. She’s very organized and detail-oriented. She makes sure everyone has everything needed for the day. And she’s a go-getter, never settling on anything less. She’s not afraid to speak her mind; to expose the “pink elephant in the room.” And she helped me to come out of my shell and speak up more. Colleen is the best mother around, and for that, I am grateful. 

The second reason Mother’s Day means a lot is my mom. She raised my brother and I on her own. For a long time, it was the three of us. My mom sacrificed a lot—time, finances, social life—to take care of us; to make sure we had everything we needed, and some things we asked for. She was Mom and Dad. She was hard on us when she had to be. And at the same time, she was nurturing. My mom did everything and then some. And there were days where I was ungrateful. Now, being a parent myself of two wonderful kids, I understand what my mom did for us.

Those two women, I am grateful they are a part of my life. I don’t think I would be the husband and father I am now if not for their encouragement and support. And I think the same can be said for all the mothers out there. On my behalf, thank you for being “Mom.”

What say you? How has your mother shaped your life? Let me know in the comments. 

Until then, take care and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the world.