Dear reader:

Tonight, I am packing my bags and boxes (hopefully all within one trip of my little Corolla) and heading to a new apartment. I’ve been staying with my grandma, looking after her in the eleven months since my grandpa’s passing. 

In spite of the reason for me being here, these last few months have been really really awesome. Growing up, I never had the chance to spend this much time with her—just 24/7: sharing bathroom, kitchen, laundry, chores, cat frustration, cat love and all the rotting food. Language barriers be damned, there are just lots of little moments that we’ve had, no words needed. I won’t forget whenever she grinned sheepishly at buying too much food, laughed hysterically when the cat did something stupid, or got mad at me for refusing to eat six whole meals a day (we settled somewhere around 4.5). 

I’m always gonna remember those moments.

But, it’s not a long-term solution for me to stay with her. I think she realizes that just as much as I do. Family is everything, and we’re always trying to do right by one another. I think, for both of us, we need to show we can live on our own. 

That knowledge didn’t make it any easier when she stood in my doorway—having just heard that I’m moving out—and was just speechless. Behind the glint of her glasses were some parts understanding and more parts sadness. But she didn’t say a word. We were past that. She just sighed, the short hiccupy kind from too much crying, and shuffled off. 


That was a long night for me. 

I thought that maybe I was really wrong. Really wrong. Maybe I didn’t know anything about her, had projected my own goals onto her. Maybe she wasn’t ready. Maybe I was destroying all the confidence she had been rebuilding. 

But that night did end, and when I woke up, I knew she was going to be alright. And I think she knew, too. 

The thing is, you never know what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of change or growth. Accept that good and bad outcomes may arise. You’ll be there to meet them. 

Sorry, no October Story #2 from me. Just real life stuff. Stay tuned for a busy November though!


Deadline Failure!

So I know I said that I would write two shorts per month. That’s still the goal… basically. I have two shorts, but they’re not in a great condition. I’ll post one of them here, but it’s a ways off. And also, it’s Labor Day Weekend, therefore I’m just going to wrap this Monday into the month of August. I’ll post another short tomorrow. Maybe. Anyway, please enjoy despite the ruckus of grammatical issues and bad dialogue strings. This short story is 1,365 words long.

If you can think of a title, please post a comment!

EDIT: It’s Monday… 9pm. I’m tired. I know there are some of you hanging on my every word. Hell, I’m doing the same, but I ain’t turning one in tonight. I’ll do three this month if that’s what it takes. Much love.


Quinn pulled a thin twig from his pocket, jammed one end between his lips and ignited a lighter against the other. He teased the flame back and forth. When the tip finally reached an amber glow, he holstered the lighter.
“What’re you doing?” Mike said.
Quinn pulled the twig, eyed the snaking trail of gray, and smiled.
“I’m smoking.”
Mike pulled the cigarette from his mouth, blew out a smoke ring, and nodded. “You look like an idiot.”
They sat on a wood bench at the Misty Glades Plaza in downtown. A bus chugged past. Black exhaust guffawed from its tailpipe. A homeless man pushed a cart full of blankets, garbage bags, and smells. Tins and glass jingled with the metal frame. The black garbage bags shined like chunks of obsidian. The homeless man paused in front of Quinn and Mike. His clothes were smeared with brown, gray, and black. A jaundiced shirt collar stuck over his frayed red sweater that hid beneath a torn leather jacket. On his shoulder, there was an embroidered patch, reading: Not All Who Wander Are Lost.
“Spare some change for a homeless man just looking for a bite to eat and a place to sleep and some human kindness?”
Quinn stared blankly, “Ah, sorry, man, I don’t have any spare change on me.” It was certainly true–to an extent. While Quinn felt the hard coins in his back pocket, and knew he had three extra dollar bills, he didn’t enjoy the idea of giving away money. He would need it for something. That meant it wasn’t spare, right?
“Yeah, I got some change for you, old timer,” Mike said. Still sitting, he unzipped his coat, pulled aside the corner lip and reached into his pocket. He came up with a few bills and held them between his fingers.
The homeless man stepped forward. A day’s worth of sweat gleamed on his forehead. He looked between ages sixty-five and eighty with a white beard twice as old. He smiled without showing his teeth, the splotchy, cracked lips spreading dangerously against his jaw like worn rubber bands that discolor as they are stretched to their limits.
To Quinn, the three of them seemed in their own bubble of existence. Nothing and no one could interfere. A twister spontaneously breaching the overhead clouds would touch the ground beside them and leave only a small opinion. The laws of physics denied any and all new forces. The generation of free will, through the machinations of the universe, posed zero validity. They were quite stuck.
A mother, pushing a stroller and leading a small girl by the hand, rushed past. The girl stared until they were far away.
“I have a few questions first,” Mike said.
Quinn’s jaw went slack and the smoking twig between his lips rolled into a corner and nearly fell out. Extending a conversation with a homeless person went one of two ways: bad and a bit worse. What was there to gain? To what end could Mike’s questions possibly fulfill?
“You got questions,” the homeless man said. His voice was flat, unimpressed with its master’s rhetoric.
“Sure do,” Mike said. “It could only take but a good minute of your time. I hope that’s not too much to ask.”
“If you’s asking, is that the first question?”
“A fair point, but no, that is not one of my questions. You must definitely answer my questions to earnthe spare money I have in my hands for you. If you are fine with this agreement, then you should have a seat with us.”
A look of surprise flashed through the scraggly beard, bushy eyebrows and wrinkled forehead. The homeless man crossed his arms, as if to say, You think I’m going to walk away from free money? He left his cart in the middle of the park’s road and sat between Mike and Quinn.
The smell of the man nearly knocked Quinn over. He turned to his end of the bench and gasped for air. Vaguely, he heard: “First, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Mike.”
The homeless man grunted. Maybe they were shaking hands.
“The first question is: What is your name?”
“My name?”
“None other.”
“What do you wanna know my name for?”
“How else would I address you?”
“We’re just talking at each other. You don’t need my name.”
“If you want the money, you know the deal.”
With a sigh, “My name is Jacob.” After a moment, “Grenstler.”
“Jacob Grenstler, it is nice to meet you. My distracted friend behind you is Quinn. We work together. And this is a bench that we come to often. It helps us relax, we think.”
How long had Mike been planning this? Always the diabolical schemer, Mike may have been working on this prank for ages. Quinn felt queasy. He yanked the twig from his lips, rubbed out the ashen tip against the bench rail, and glared around for help. But despite his goosebump-inducing urge to escape this homeless man’s reek, there remained an overwhelming curiosity to hear the rest of Mike’s questions.
“So what’s your second question then?”
“Well, Jacob, I’d like to know how long you’ve been asking for money from strangers.”
There was a rustling of clothing. “I guess something like ten years, give or take a year or so.”
“I see. Thank you for your estimation. Do you mind if I take notes?”
“You’re holding the money.”
“Splendid.” There was more shuffling, then the click of a pen and subsequent scratching against paper.
“Why have you struggled to earn money through working?”
“You think asking for money ain’t work? Man, how do you think a salesman makes money?”
“True, true. I like your thinking Jacob, but a salesman usually has a product. What are you selling?”
HIS STINK, Quinn thought.
“I ain’t selling nothing. (At this, Mike laughed a little, a short cough, but Jacob didn’t notice.)”
“So you could stop asking for money this instant, get a job, and be well on your way?”
A grunt.
“Fair enough. Now, what was your first reason to start asking for money?”
“I needed it.”
“And you had none from a job.”
“What’re you trying to say?”
“You had no job.”
“Yeah, I had no job.”
“So when you needed money, the first thing you thought to do was to start asking for it, not get a job?”
“That’s right.”
“Ever since you first started asking for money, has it worked well for you?”
“I get by.”
“You don’t ever wish to do better than get by? Don’t you wish you could make money by not asking for it?”
“Hell, Mike, all anyone’s doing is getting by. You all are just getting by, you just might be telling yourself otherwise. You got jobs, but you don’t think you’re not asking for money?”
“I do not, Jacob. I produce things. I create things and knowledge for other people to use. In exchange, I get paid. What is your exchange? What do you give people?”
“Why do I gotta give things to people?”
“You don’t.”
There was a pause, and Mike scribbled away on a notepad. The homeless man checked one of his pockets. Quinn’s body tensed. Was he going to pull a knife? Quinn scanned their surroundings. The park was full of people. But Quinn got the feeling that Mike was pushing up against the limits of normal interaction that this guy could handle. Anything could happen.
“When you first started asking for money, I asked what your reason was. You said you needed it. What did you need it for?”
“Why do you care?”
Mike’s voice was low and secretive. “Answer the question, Jacob. This is our exchange.” Quinn’s uneasiness doubled.
“I dunno, drugs and stuff. I guess.”
“And your reason now?”
“Only sometimes for drugs. Mostly it’s for food and normal stuff.” The homeless man sniffed. Something big was stuck in his nostrils.
“My second to last question, Jacob. Do you enjoy asking for money?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met a happy salesman when he knew his product sucked.”
 Scratching against paper.
“Thank you, Jacob for answering all my questions. Lastly, when would you wish to stop asking for money?”

“When you live like I do, you don’t get to wish for anything.”

1 Month is 2 Shorts

I couldn’t think of a lamer title to capture my new commitment to write two short stories in every month.

But there it is. I keep looking at it, hoping it’ll be better, that some little fairy will come along and poof it shiny and awesome. That’s typically how I refer to my future-self editor anyway.
In order to keep things lively, I’ll try my hand at different genres. I know it’ll come out gross, but I’m hoping that forcing myself into these scenarios will forge greater connections with my beloved genres. And, just maybe, I’ll find something I want to explore, but that’s.. like.. the worst case scenario. 
I’ve got a new manuscript idea in the works, but only the outline, not any solid text. I think I might just try and whack at it in NaNoWriMo. 
And finally, I may just start working on my old manuscript from NaNo 2013. It so happens that I don’t want to leave 60k+ of sweatbloodtears words by the wayside. I got some great advice from my trusted circle of readers and want to validate their trust in my shifty work ethic. 
Welcome to this new era of me writing as much as I say I might do!

Energetic Writing

Last night, I wrote about 3000 words after work. It took me 5 hours. And I was exhausted almost the entire time. Of course, the only reason I’m pushing myself to these limits is because of the Amazon contest (ABNA). From the get-go, I didn’t feel like writing. A long day at work and a long commute meant that the last thing I wanted was slogging out three thousand words. But I needed to find a way to do it.

I’m a flow writer usually. I do normal things and ruminate on the things I noticed throughout my day. Then I write about it. It’s hard for me to manufacture material without thinking about it thoroughly, but I also don’t take very many notes.

That’s not really possible when you’ve got a deadline to hit. So for those writers trying to hit a word count, here are some things that I do.

1. Spreadsheets
Anyone who hasn’t used a spreadsheet, probably has avoided it for personal reasons, but there are many good reasons why spreadsheets are your best friend. They:

  • list characters and their traits
  • map timelines and events
  • easily modify according to your new ideas (read: move huge chunks of text)
  • provide multiple sheets within a single document
    • less mouse clicking means more typing time
  • track word counts
You get it. I love spreadsheets. I think they’re a good way of consolidating all your information in one place so you can assess it quickly. With word docs, you’ve got less space. Just try it. 

Also, by setting word count goals on the spreadsheet, it’s easier to visualize your target than when you look at the count tracker at the bottom of the word doc.

2. Words Per Hour (WPH)
Just how fast can you type? Well, that doesn’t really matter. It only matters if your typing can keep up with and correctly interpret the weird things your brain wants. I can’t type that fast, but my speed as adjusted to what I’m thinking and expressing. It’s hard to keep that consistent over five hours.

It gets tiring, but if you set a goal every hour (or whatever preferable interval) you’ll find it markedly easier to push yourself. I set a modest goal of 600 WPH, or 100 words per 10 minutes.

100 words isn’t that much. A set of dialogue lines. A paragraph or two of setting or action. The segmenting keeps your foot to the gas pedal. Maybe you wrote that last 100 quickly? You reread it, make some adjustments, OH SNAP, the next interval just started, now I only have 8.5 minutes to write 100 words. And it goes and it goes.

3. Allow for breaks
You gotta keep fresh. As much as everyone loves hitting an inspired spurt of writing, giving yourself some breathing time will ensure that you don’t burn out. If you think you need a break, you probably do. Don’t bonk your head for inspiration when it’s run dry. Your head might explode.

Get some water, play with your pet, or in my case, watch some soap operas with my grandma. With a steady diet of breaks, you’ll find that when you sit back down, you’re ready to go again, and that is the type of groove you want.

– – –

And that’s my super short list for staying energized (not necessarily inspired). While they may not be needed by those of us writing without deadlines, these can be helpful for maintaining a writing routine that lacks deadlines.

Just remember, set yourself straight, and the writing will come.