Weekend Coffee Share: Writing Like a Madman

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you all today. Pardon me if I’m a little distracted. I’m at the gym right now and I’m focusing on my steps. As such, I just have water. If you want to jump on the treadmill, by all means join me. 

So, if we were walking—running—on the treadmill, I’d talk about school. It’s in full speed ahead. My wife and I went to Curriculum Night this past Tuesday. I got a lot out of it. I learned about what will be expected of the first graders this year. Long story short, it’s going to be a challenge. But I know Zoe will be up to the task. Also, the teacher spoke to the parents about volunteering opportunities. This is a big deal for me because I don’t get to be with Zoe a lot because of my schedule. But I’m hoping to be more involved in her studies. And I found an area where I can help the students. They have a writing session before lunch. It’s great because I write, obviously.

Little known fact about me. When I started my college career, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I love being around children. And I thought I would be a good role model. Then, when I took a Creative Writing course, I thought it would be a good way to introduce writing to students as a way to express their creativity. But I decided against pursuing that avenue. I kind of regret it in some ways. But I’m happy that I have to way to make that ideal a reality. 

Speaking of writing, I have spent the last couple of weeks writing flash fiction. This has been exhilarating. For a long time—before July—I didn’t have a lot of short fiction to share. But since the Flash Fiction Hive was created, I have found myself writing more. The prompts presented offer a welcome challenge. It’s got me thinking about and actively writing more. My goal is to start posting longer works. I think I’m in the right direction. 

Speaking of short stories, I got an email from The Write Practice about a new writing contest for the fall. I get so nervous about these contests. I feel like I’m out of my element with these contests, so I don’t enter them. But when I read about the theme, I thought it could be possible to create a story. I don’t plan on entering the contest (entry fee too high), but I want to write that story anyway. My goal is to write, edit, and publish a full story by the deadline set by the committee. I might post it on my blog or submit it to another contest where the entry fee isn’t so steep. Wish me luck. 

Well, my time on the treadmill is wearing down, so I’m going to bid you farewell. But I want to hear from all of you. Send a reply in the comments and let me know how your week has been. If there’s any way I can be of encouragement, feel free to let me know. Maybe we can encourage and spur each other on. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Off the Ground Running

Good day, everyone.

I hope everyone had a good week. I’m out of the San Francisco Bay K-cups, but I do have Folgers. As for me, I’m having a Monster. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but after waking up at 5:30 in the morning to take my sister-in-law to work, I need something. I did have some coffee, but it doesn’t always work for me. 

So, this week has been a busy week. Zoe started school this Thursday as a first grader. Wow. That’s still hard to process. Zoe, a first grader. Her open house was Tuesday. Unfortunately I was working so I couldn’t partake in the “festivities.” I did get to meet the teacher the first day of school. And like last year, we drove Zoe to school and walked her to class. I think it’s important to savor these moments. One, when she gets older, she won’t want us to walk her to class. And two, she’ll be going to a different building where you can’t walk kids to their classroom. So, I take it all in. 

I must say I am more concerned than last year. The obvious being, like me, she doesn’t do well with change. (Then again, who does?) While she has a couple of kids from her kindergarten class joining her, she’ll have to make new friends. She has a new teacher, which was highly recommended by fellow parents. Two, the class is not as diverse. She’s basically the only Black person in the class. There are a couple of Hispanic students, but that’s as diverse as it gets. But I think she’ll be fine. We’ve taught her as much as we can to respect people different from her. She has a caring heart for people. And that’s something I hope will stick with her. 

As far as the curriculum, there is one change I like. They will be teaching Spanish. It’s believed that the younger you learn a skill, the more likely you’ll retain the knowledge. I wish when I was in elementary school, they taught Spanish. Back then, it wasn’t a big deal. There wasn’t an emphasis on being able to communicate in languages other than English. At least, that was the case with my upbringing. Even when I was in middle school, it was more of an elective than mandatory. So I’m glad they’re instilling the fundamentals into the students at such a young age. 

So, as school has started, that means getting back into a routine. For Colleen and I, that means getting up before Zoe does. That’s not always easy with all that goes on in a day. So, I have to get up even earlier in order to get to the gym and get in a workout. And that entails making a schedule on what days I want to work out. I need to get back the zeal of putting in the work to keep losing weight. 

Because of all that’s been going on, writing has taken a back seat. But not before I accomplished my goal of writing every day for a month. After that was done, I willingly took a day off to collect myself. In the span of writing in July, I wrote drafts of three new short stories. I aimed for four, but fell short. Still, I’m proud of myself. Two of the stories, I wrote in genres outside of what I usually write.

When I wrote those stories, the last thought I had was to edit and revise them. But now, I want to. Being a better writer requires it. Besides, the drafts were kind of all over the place. Nothing really coherent in the overall sense. So, I’ll be working on them as well as some flash fiction this month. The Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter is back with a new set of challenges. I will be participating in them a lot more than last time. The goal is still the same: to showcase them on my blog. When I do, I hope they will be well-received. 

So, that’s all for this week. But don’t let me do all the talking. Please feel free to share what’s on your mind. I would love to hear from you. 

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: 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…