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: 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: Pushing Through the Doldrums

Good morning,

Nice to see you again. Please forgive my yawning. I woke up early to take my sister-in-law to work. Pick out your K-cup of choice, and I’ll get it ready for you.

……

Now that we’re settled, let’s get to it. 

I’ll be honest, I really don’t have a lot going on. But I did want to share something. Since joining the gym three months ago, I lost over forty pounds since last year. The best part is that I can fit into clothes that before, looked so bad on me. I can fit into size 38 pants again. It’s been two years since I wore anything size 38. But I’m still working to lose more weight. But I slacked off with going to gym every day. I need to get that energy back. I’m working on sculpting my chest. Maybe not to Mr. Olympia-like standard, but to where I don’t feel like they’re drooping.

The school year is down to the last few weeks. (I know the teachers are excited.) I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Zoe will be in first grade three months from now. Colleen put in a request for teachers. One of them was Zoe’s kindergarten teacher, who is moving up to first grade next year. So for the next three months, we have to come up with some activities. I’m trying to find some time in between where I can get a week off to enjoy the summer, but it’s not looking rather glum. I’ll have to be creative.

As far as my writing goes, I’m at a lull. I haven’t touched my story since last week. I’m still trying to find a writing contest or magazine accepting submissions. My writing friends gave me some suggestions, but they haven’t panned out. I haven’t done much writing in my journal and I haven’t done much in terms of planning future stories. I’m sure most writers go through these periods. At the same time, I don’t want to get too complacent. So I’m going to work on pushing through the same way I’m going to work up the energy to get back into my workout routine. Especially with summer fast approaching. I usually don’t do a lot of writing in that time. There’s usually too much going on.

While I’m on the subject of stories, I searched YouTube and Pinterest on writing good short stories. I watched videos and read posts from pins the past week. Most of the advice I know already, but it’s amazing how much I haven’t utilized. I felt like as much as my writing and non-writing complemented me on my stories, I felt like there’s something missing. I believe I can write better. I can be more creative. I need to take a day to sit and brainstorm. Maybe by the end of the session, I will have the building blocks for my next barbershop story.

If I may, I want to take you back to a few weeks ago. (There’s a reason for this.) When I was at work, I helped a customer with loading bookshelves into a rental truck. Casually, I asked the purpose for the shelves. She said it was for her office where she writes. That piqued my interest. We chatted about what we wrote and how we go about writing. I was happy to meet a fellow writer.

Fast forward to this week. One of the assistant managers at my store told me she writes. She had some poems published in magazines. It surprised me. But it goes to show that you never know who you’ll meet unless you get to know someone. I made a deal with her to exchange our works in the near future. I knew I liked this manager; now I know why. 

Well, that’s all for this week. I’m sorry I don’t have more to report. Maybe next week. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. What happened to you this week? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: New View on Life

Good afternoon,

Thanks for taking the time to come by and visit. My wife’s birthday is today, so give a shout out before you leave. We have a lot of coffee choices today along with some teas, so dig in and I’ll brew them with the Keurig. 

A month back, I went to the optometrist for my latest checkup. Not surprising, he says my eyesight is getting worse and that I need a stronger pair of glasses. But we decided to go a different route. We decided I would try contacts. Understand this. I wore glasses since I was four. Going from that to having something deliberately in my eyes is a huge step. So we put in an order for a trial set. I got them this past Monday and started trying them out this weekend. (I’m taking a break from them today.)

In the three days I’ve been wearing contacts, I noticed three things. One, like any other change, it takes some time to adjust. Like I said, I wore glasses for most of my life. It’s taking time to get adjusted to the strength of the contacts, too. But it’s why the eye doctor insists on making a follow-up appointment.

Two, there’s a mental game that ensues. Putting something in my eyes terrifies me. But it’s why the doctor says to practice putting your fingers in your eyes for just a few seconds, so you can used to the feeling. But even then, it’s not the same as the real thing. It took a good amount of time to get my contacts in the first time. I psyched myself out more times than I can count. But as Colleen says, I just have to get them in there. Don’t think about it too much.

And three, having contacts is not enough for everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the past couple of days wearing my contacts. Received some flattering comments from co-workers and friends. Colleen wants to go shopping for sunglasses with me. But when it comes to reading anything with contacts, it’s not so easy, especially in low light. But the doctor told me reading will be an issue. He suggested buying reading glasses from the pharmacy. So I’m looking for a pair with the right strength I need.

So with the adjustment to a new form of corrective vision, writing has been hard, but somehow I made it work. I finished what I now dub “Story 1” of my barbershop series. I sent emails to writing friends. Overall, they enjoyed the short and feel it’s ready to be posted on my blog. One of my critique partners suggested, however, that I try submitting the story to a writing contest. That is one goal I want to accomplish this year. She gave me some links to websites that are accepting submissions. So now I’m torn. Do I take a chance in submitting this story? Do I go ahead and publish it on my blog? Decisions, decisions. Definitely need to mull it over. 

Well, that is all for today. Don’t forget to wish Colleen a happy birthday. 

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: 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…

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.