Liebster Award!

I got an email the other day telling me I had been nominated for a Liebster Award.  Having not encountered this particular creature before I sought the knowledge of the Great Oracle.  Google lead me to the link above.  It appears to be a thoughtfully constructed exposure chain for the upcoming year, similar to a blog tour but different.  I find the idea both fun and compelling and I am pleased to be included in this.  According to the rules, I have to include them in my post so here they are, copy and pasted.

  • Link to this blog post in your Liebster Award blog post
  • Answer the questions given to you (if nominated, if you were not nominated you can use my questions)
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer (I’m looking for unique and creative ones)
  • Comment on this blog post with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award. To make it easy for me to read them all.

Right out of the gate I would like to acknowledge the blog that nominated me, The Stories In Between and tell you a little about them.  I hadn’t run across the blog before the nomination so I’ve been doing a little reading.  I have to say I’m quite impressed.  The author’s style of writing is smooth and I have no doubt there is a lot of personal experience behind the writing.  I can feel it in the shape of the characters and their quite natural dialogue.  I always appreciate a story that will take me away from wherever I’m at and leave me feeling like I want to go back.  Truly a talented writer who takes the craft seriously.  I strongly encourage you to have a look at the blog and enjoy the writing.  I’m not finished there yet so I’ll be ramping up the views as I make my way through Thursdays In The Valley.  I am genuinely flattered to have to such a fine storyteller nominate my blog.

EDIT:  This post has taken me a few days to write and before I was finished a second nomination was dropped on my blog.  Thank you so much A Tree’s Roots!  Your blog is quite inspiring.  The energy that you put into your life and your words is meaningful to me on many levels and I look forward to spending more time on your blog.  The answers to your questions follow right after The Stories In Between.  I hope it’s not cheating to do it like this.

Next up is the questions.  The Stories In Between answered ten questions posed by the blog that nominated them, then created ten new questions for the blogs nominated by them.  My job is to answer the ten new questions then create ten of my own.  So here goes.

The Stories In Between

  1. What hobby would you get in to if time and money weren’t an issue?

Cartooning.  I realize this isn’t a big money issue, but I simply don’t have the time for it.  I draw a little bit but it’s nothing major.  If I really had time to devote to it I would develop both a comic strip style storyline as well as an animated version.

  1. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

How old are you?  Lol.  I’m 51 but I seem to still be holding up pretty well.  The question seems to spark a lot of argument on occasion, prompting me to dig out my wallet and show my ID to prove I’m really that age.

  1. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?

Making my own condiments.  My wife just got me a stick blender for Christmas so I’ll be trashing the kitchen soon while I try to make homemade mayonnaise.  Wish me luck!

  1. Do you have a dream job? What would it be?

Writing.  My mother always beat me over the head with the idea of having something to fall back on and as a result I have always devoted my time to the fall back job and never enough time to my writing.

  1. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

Walk the way you drive people!  Stop charging up and down whatever side of the sidewalk you feel like.

  1. If you could make a 20 second phone call to yourself at any point in your life present or future, when would you call and what would you say?

I would call myself at a rather specific moment twelve(ish) years ago and say “Don’t apologize.  You are right.”

  1. What do you do to deal with stress?

I write stories and turn my antagonists into demons.  I also play video games to kill things with impunity.

  1. Do you have any pets? What are their names?

I have three pets.  Bill is a gray tabby who stares and chirps at things only he can see; Louie is a fat, orange tabby I bought from PetSmart… cuz I looked at him and he looked back.  Ya know?  Everette is a white ferret that seems intent on convincing Bill and Louie they are adopted.


  1. What is something that is really popular/cool right now that really annoys you?

Memes.  ‘Nuff said.

  1. Do you have a favorite book/story from your childhood?

I have a number of them however there are two that stand out:  A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (I’m curious about the upcoming movie.  Will my hope for a good translation from book to film be met or shattered?) and Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander.  Taran was given to me by mother who had a bad habit of not bothering to see if the book she was buying was part of a series.  It was only after reading it that I actually read the entire cover and discovered I needed to save my allowance and buy the rest of the series.  I am my mother’s child.

Questions from A Tree’s Roots

1,  What is your favorite color and what does it mean to you?

A deep emerald green.  To me it means health and good fortune.  Just seeing this color will make me smile.

2. What prompted you to start blogging and/or writing?

I’ve always written stories.  When I was around five or six my mother gave me a book with blank pages and it set my mind on fire.  The blaze has burned long and hard.  Starting a blog as an outlet for this seemed like a natural step.

3.  What is the most significant journey you’ve been through?

The one I’m on right now, my life itself.  I have made so many choices that I felt were arbitrary but turned out to be significant in the end.  Where I’m at right now is not a place I would have seen myself even five years ago.  It’s kinda fun to know that I can still blow my own mind.

4.  Who or what is your greatest adversary?

I have to say my own fear of failure.  Judging myself as harshly as I do can become paralyzing.

5.  If you could conceptualize yourself as anything other than a human being, what would you be?

A tree.  My life has been quite nomadic even in childhood.  I would love to find a single location where I could put down my roots and just live.

6.  How would you describe your safe place?  If you don’t have one what do you imagine it might be like?

My safe place is anywhere without other people.  I need to feel like my mind is the only one active in my immediate surroundings.

7.  What is your favorite website?

Hmmm.  I’m not sure how to answer this one.  I don’t think I have a favorite but there are several that like a lot.  I’m a big fan of Reddit and Twitch.

8.  What type of media resonates most with you?

I love audio.  Tell me a story.  Read me a book.  Turn on a podcast!  I think I listen to movies more than I actually watch them.

9.   Do you have any background/education/experience you feel benefits your blog?

Not really.  I took a few college classes back in the day for english and creative writing but I didn’t enjoy them.  I found them to be tedious and unenlightening.

10.  On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) how would you rate your ability to empathize?

I have to go with 10.  I am firmly standing on the side of over-empathizing to the point that it can ruin my whole day if I encounter someone oozing unhappiness.  I carry that stuff around with me.

Before I list my own questions I would like to provide the list of blogs I am nominating.  Each one is one that I follow and have enjoyed.  I would really like it if you would take the time to check them all out.  



Now for my questions.

  1. What is the one piece of advice that will forever jump into your mind because you didn’t take it when your were first given it?
  2. What is your favorite thing to binge on?
  3. What is a physical gesture you tend to use a lot and why?  EX. talking with your hands, winking at someone while you speak, shaking your leg.
  4. Pick a card, any card… a tarot card.  🙂
  5. What are your top two pet peeves with our digital age lifestyle?
  6. What is your all-time favorite blogging beverage?
  7. Name a book/movie that you can watch/read again and again.
  8. What is an activity you enjoy watching other people do but don’t want to do yourself?
  9. How do you explain why water turns into ice to a four year old?
  10. What is a habit you have that you got from someone else?

Monologue #26

This week’s story is one that I challenged myself to.  I’ve always wanted to do a locked room mystery, but haven’t had the bolas to try it.  To make things even harder on myself, I have imposed a limit of 3000 words.  Just to be clear, I’ll be posting this in three parts of 1000 words each.  The last time I tried a three part post/story I went over my word limit by just a little bit.  The finale took more than 1000 words to write.  I intend to do better this time.  And on top of all of that, I chose three random items to use as clues.  If anyone wants to play along at home, the items are as follows:

  1. Pillow – doesn’t matter what kind. It can be a bed pillow, throw pillow, cat pillow… whatever.
  2. Round plastic condiment container with a cracked lid – the kind you get sauces and stuff in.  It’s up to you if there is actually anything in it or not, it just needs to be an informative clue.
  3. Cigar Stub – Chew it, smoke it, use the ashes.

There you go.  One locked room mystery with ready made items for use.  If anyone runs with this idea throw me a link please.  I would be interested in reading what you come up with.  I need to get writing now, I have a murder to plan.

Happy writing everyone!

Monologue #25

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.  I gave the blog a new header image and updated my About page which gave me a satisfied feeling.  Getting involved again feels like taking a deep breath after coughing too hard.  I need this air in my lungs.  This air right here.  Yup, that’s much better.

Smashing Pumpkins has progressed tremendously in the past couple months.  I have been forced to face the full size of this work (70k and climbing) and finally accepted the fact that I can’t pants it anymore.  Getting everything into working order now is going to take some seriously focused effort since I’ve got characters running all over the place right now.  To that end I have Googled  how to organize my material with Scrivener in a way that I can work with and found some good ideas.  When I bought the software I was aware of the learning curve and thought I’d just take it slow.  As it turned out, I’m not that patient.  I tore through the information provided and touched everything.  That doesn’t mean that I remember everything I learned, it just means that I got super excited and looked at it all.

Today’s business is really just going to be business.  I need to get out and work so I’m going to set my pen down (I still use one) and download a couple episodes of Star Trek DSN to my tablet and head out into the world to make some money.  What does DSN have to do with anything?  I spend a lot of time waiting, that’s what.

In the meantime please checkout the latest short work, Between The Pews.  As always, I wish you all inspiration and personal satisfaction in your endeavors.  Here’s to a productive year!  Cheers!

Monologue #24

It’s funny how the one thing you thought was going to change your daily life for the better can manifest in the completely opposite manner.  Four months ago I was looking at a shift change and was preparing to move myself more into daylight hours.  Working third shift was good but working NOT third shift is better.  I’m a swing shift kinda guy and have my best hours right, smack in the middle of our twenty-four hour cycle.  I was excited and looking forward to this change.  I had high hopes of getting back to something more comfortable.  Well, that didn’t happen the way I thought it would.  The new shift was awful; management turned into demons, and my nerves shattered, making me combative and argumentative.  Four months later I have a different job, a different apartment and a different life altogether!  WTF!

Don’t get me wrong, here.  I’m not usually hard to work with.  My day job was my bread and butter; my entire life up until then.  I have ridden out hard times in the past by simply looking past it and seeing that things would get better eventually.  I put twenty-three years into that job and made a career out of it when I had no other career options; mostly because I hadn’t thought of any.  I had been a goalless twenty-something when I went into that industry.  In my mind it was just another stop on my non-existent travel plan through life, kinda like working at the local chicken-by-the-bucket place had been.  It was something to do that made me better money than slinging greasy food at people and going home smelling like fried everything.  I had no idea that I was going to fit so well into the new job and that it was going to become my employment Mecca for the bulk of my adult life.

I guess I’m actually writing an obituary here for my lost youth.  The past few months have left me bitter and feeling more my actual age than I ever have before.  My birthday was a few weeks ago and added a one to my half century of life.  With all those years behind me, putting up with so much crap from a job that once gave me a lot of happiness just became something I wasn’t willing to do anymore.  Putting up with garbage as you grow is a part of life.  Those shovelfuls of shit that get dumped on you are things you learn to deal with and avoid.  Everyone has to learn those things.  I wasn’t born into a family that was bursting at the seams with money and influence so I had to pick my way along like the rest of the poor and middle class.  Finding a job that was a good fit for me was really a surprise, and in many ways, a gift.  I know in my heart that a lot of folks don’t get to spend their lives working at something they actually like.  For me to find that job before I turned thirty was blessing that I can’t overlook.  To have those shovels turn into dump trucks was not.

Now I’m drifting along on the tracks of self-employment.  My car is my business.  Sadly, a lot of other people have chosen the same path as me and the work is a little scarce right now.  I believe business will pick up soon though.  Once the holidays are over all the part-timers will fade back out and I’ll be able to get back to the business of making money.  In the meantime I have resumed work on my novel and started blowing away the dust from my blog.  I never meant to leave it, especially for so long, but the stress of these past few months was more than my writing could hold.  Something had to fall by the wayside.  It hurts to know that my deepest love is the first thing to get left behind when times get tough, but I understand.  Survival first.  Creativity comes later.

Stay sane during this most obnoxious of holidays and don’t forget to tip your Uber/Lyft driver.  They gotta eat too. 🙂

Monologue #23

Another late post.  I’m struggling to get things done for myself right now.  By this time next week my schedule will be different and I will be learning to function in a different time slot.  I’m looking forward to this a lot.  After being on third shift for five years, the idea of being able to sleep at night rather than during the day is like a rainbow spreading over my spirit.  Knowing that I’m in the last days of perpetual daylight seems to be causing extreme tiredness though.  It’s like my body knows that real sleep is coming and is already trying to get to it.

Before I go, here’s a quick work-related story.  

I was talking with a coworker about Lemon Wedges, which is my nickname for a certain customer who comes in pretty much every night.  The name came from her particular habit of eating lemon wedges in their entirety.  Pulp, seeds, rind, all of it.  The whole wedge goes in her mouth and nothing comes back out.  After relating this curious fact to my coworker, he stared at her for a few seconds, shrugged and said, “She always reminds me of Misery.  You know, that book by Stephen King?”  I promptly leaped aboard the Fiction Train and let it carry me off for the rest of the night.  Finding the Wand Maker from Harry Potter was the pinnacle of my work day!

Monologue #22

How do you maintain forward motion when life is dragging you down?

I’m not sure how to answer this.  My life has taken a few turns these past few weeks but nothing has changed.  Same job, same first novel. I’m tired though.

I keep staring at my files and poking at the words, changing sentences and editing spelling and punctuation.  I’m afraid if I don’t at least look at it, I will forget about it.  I’m doing what I have to in order to keep my dream in motion.  This tiredness will pass eventually and I will be off and running again.  Until then, I’ll continue looking at it, reminding myself of what I’m working for.  

Before I go, I want to give a joyful thumbs up to all the Camp NaNoWriMo participants.  I’m sure you are all waking up everyday super excited to get your fingers on  your keyboards.  Keep going.  The feeling you will have when you reach your goal is worth all the work.  You guys are awesome!

Monologue #21

I wrote this piece while I was at work last night.  Evidently my sleep deprived brain thought that was close enough.  When I got home, I ate, watched an episode of Criminal Minds and went to sleep without scheduling the post.

My goal of getting my chapters in order by the end of June did not get met.  From the look of things, I may not be finished until the end of July, maybe the middle of August.  I’m not real torn up about it.  I’ve made huge progress and learned a lot about how to do this.  My largest lesson has been about organization.

When I started this last November during NaNoWriMo I was really in the dark about how to go about things.  I had index cards scattered across my coffee table and multiple files on my computer about all my characters.  My brain refused to cooperate with the idea of structure so I was just typing out every possible scene for each character as fast as I could.  Now that I’m about halfway through piecing my chapters together in a form that makes sense, I can see that I needed to structure myself a lot sooner.

Last week I bought a little program called NewNovelist that cost me about $30.  I was eyeing Scrivener too, which was only $10 more and seems to be the favorite of authors everywhere.  This late in the game I was really interested in getting myself more organized than giving myself a learning headache, so I went with NewNovelist.  It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it.  Once I got my notes, characters, places and chapters ported over from Google Docs, I was pretty pleased with myself.  Everything is now right at my fingertips.  Some of the information the program gives me is nothing but gibberish to my eyes but the ability to have all my resources just a mouse click away without having to open multiple browser windows is really nice.  I may have another look at Scrivener for the next book though.  It offers some customization that I currently don’t have.

The other big lesson I learned this month is about timelines.  Flying by the seat of my pants with that has not been effective.  As it turns out, my lead character is moving along much slower than everyone else.  I need to go back and bring him up to speed in order to get all my events flowing smoothly and in the correct order.  Had I bothered with an outline (something I hate) I probably would have spotted that problem right away and corrected it.  This doesn’t mean I’ll be outlining in the future but I will definitely be paying closer attention to the timeline.

Happy, productive writing everyone.  I wish you all the best!