Words To Live By

For those who know me better than others, you are aware that death has haunted me for quite some time now.

I wrote about it in my book Dickinstein which came out in October 2013.

We lost my grandmother on Christmas Day 2014.

Three months later my step-father passed away.

2016 was the worst when we lost numerous heroes from George Michael on Christmas Day; Carrie Fisher, Richard Adams, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and John Glenn all in December. Janet Reno, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro and Leon Russell in November. Gene Wilder in August. Muhammad Ali and Anton Yelchin in June. Alan Young (and Harambe the Gorilla) in May. Prince in April. Gary Shandling and Patty Duke in March. Harper Lee in February. David Bowie and Alan Rickman in January.

My heart also broke when we lost one of our beloved dogs in November last year.

Two of my long time pen pals also passed last year.

And then I lost my Dad on December 4th.

We lost another dog last month. And now John’s grandfather is close to the end.

I wanted to write this year, possibly another book, but haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. It’s hard to focus. Even this year on my blog I’ve barely managed to keep it alive by posting a quick log of each day, mostly mundane tasks I accomplish each day from what I had to eat to what I watched on TV. I’m getting bored with that so I know any readers I have are probably bored too.

I’ve been keeping this blog for a little over 10 years I think. I admit it’s always lacked focus. I’ve spent lots of time talking about writing, or reviewing books. I spent a year posting a pic a day. I tried writing a serial novel where I shared a chapter a week. I occasionally posted humorous antidotes or whatever was on my mind. Most of the stuff that really means anything to me has been kept private. I’ve even tried starting other blogs to focus on things but none of those ever worked out either.

But I’m going to try again.

I’m going to start work on some “op-ed” pieces just to get into the habit of at least writing something. They will be short stories, mostly nonfictional about my life and such.

I’m going to post them on a blog I started two years ago and never got far with: The Capote Review. So, if you are interested in reading them, check out that blog and add it to your reading list. I hope to at least post one a week. I’ve already posted my first blog post there today. There are 9 other blog posts still there from 2014 and 2015 if you want to read those too.

As for this blog, I’ve debated on making it entirely private by the end of this year and calling it quits. For now, I’ll continue with my Lone Writer’s Log Book posts for the entire year so I can at least feel like I have accomplished something.

 

 

Free Feeling Himself Forgotten

My latest book, Feeling Himself Forgotten, will be FREE on Kindle for 5 days starting tomorrow!

Check it out! Download it! Read it! Review it! Repeat!

Until tomorrow enjoy this video of Tom Petty singing his hit song Free Fallin’ that has nothing to do with my book. It has “free” in the title though and includes a line about vampires…(there are no vampires in my book either).

Blog. Money. Health. Write. August 2016.

hello augustAnd so here we are again now closer to the end of summer and slowly inching toward the end of another year.  Sigh… I hate this time of year. It’s that weird, in-between phase of transitioning out of summer and into Fall.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Fall!  I just usually hate August and September. I think that’s because it’s scorching hot outside, and it’s back-to-school season which was always a bummer way back when.

Blog

I wrote 5 blog posts in July. Most of them were about my stand-up comedy, but I’m okay with that. That’s where most of my creative energy is going these days and I’m okay with that.

Last month I also discovered a website called Medium. It was created by the founders of Twitter and is basically a blogging platform. There’s lots of great posts that I enjoy reading every day and I’ve also started blogging there. I wrote 2 blog posts there in July. You should check it out!

Money

InBox Dollars Account: $41.20
iBotta Account: $32.20
Receipt Hog Account: $12.21
Primary Savings Account: $5.00
Primary Money Market: $5.00
Credit Union Savings: $90.00
Capitol One Money Market: $381.61
Cash Savings: $0.00
Total: $567.22

Well, I lost money in July. As you can see, I have no cash savings.  I also dipped into my primary savings and money market accounts. Sad, I know. But shit happens. I did grow all of the other accounts but I’m still down from July by $24.14.

Health

No reason to waste much time here. It’s too darn hot out there. I don’t even remember the last time I stepped on the scale.

Write

The paperback version of Feeling Himself Forgotten is finally finished and is now available. That was a big weight off my shoulders. I tend to be more creative when it comes to writing in the Fall and Winter months so I’m hoping to start a new project now. And as I mentioned earlier, I’m writing posts over at Medium.com now too.

And that was July.

Blog. Money. Health. Write. July 2016.

Hello_july_fireworksHere we are again!  It’s July already and time for my monthly update. I blogged quite a bit in June. There were 6 posts total including my June update. I’m already thinking about some posts I want to write in July.

Money

All of my accounts grew in June except for cash savings. I dipped into it for various reasons so it’s down. I’m really excited about my apps, Receipt Hog and iBotta. They are steadily growing.

I forgot, again, to schedule money to transfer to my Capitol One Money Market account so I transferred a tiny bit a few days ago, and while I was signed in I went ahead and scheduled transfers for the next three or four months so I won’t have to worry about forgetting again. Here are my totals:

InBox Dollars Account: $38.06
iBotta Account: $31.45
Receipt Hog Account: $10.33
Primary Savings Account: $65.00
Primary Money Market: $30.00
Credit Union Savings: $80.00
Capitol One Money Market: $321.52
Cash Savings: $15.00
Total: $591.36

Health

Well, not much to report here…good news anyway. I threw my food journal away. I wasn’t referencing it like I should and just wasn’t seeing the benefit of doing it. So, yep, I pitched it in the trash one day. That means I need to start over and start something new to motivate me.

Haven’t started walking again and now it’s too hot to do it. I haven’t gained any weight though which is good, but I could still stand to lose some. So other than watching what I eat, I’m not sure what my focus will be, if any, during the next few months.

Write

Today marks the Ebook release of my fifth book: Feeling Himself Forgotten. It will be available in paperback later this month.

As I said last month, I decided not to work on any new projects until I got this book done.  I’m still not sure what new writing project I’ll start on, but I’ll know when the time comes.

That’s it for now. See you again next month.  Summer is here! Enjoy!

Feeling Himself Forgotten: A Sequel to Stealing Wishes

FHF-COVERIt’s finally here! We’re just ten days away from the release of my fifth book, Feeling Himself Forgotten.   I’m so glad to finally be able to say I’m finished with it and to be putting it out there for my readers to enjoy. Despite the story being a cozy little romantic comedy and a sequel to my second book, Stealing Wishes, it’s been one of the hardest to complete.

I originally started writing it back in 2012 but abandoned it when I got the idea to write Dickinstein. I finished writing Feeling Himself Forgotten in 2013 and quickly placed it with an Ebook publisher.  I signed a contract with them in 2014 but that fell through in 2015.

Yep, it had been 4 years since I started writing it. I was just about ready to give up. Earlier this year, I blew the dust off the manuscript and started editing it. When I was done, I sent it off to my editor in April and got it back in May.  And I finished my final revision this month.

I’m publishing it myself through CreateSpace so that I can make it available more quickly. I’ve sat on manuscripts before, but not this long. I wrote Are You Sitting Down? in 2007, but sat on the complete manuscript for 3 years before deciding to publish it myself in 2010, and today it’s my most popular book. I’m not sure why I chose to wait other than I remember thinking it either wasn’t that good or after I had finished it, the book scared me a little.

I’m also ready to start a new project. I’m eager to write and it’s hard to do that when you’ve got a book waiting in the wings.  Think of it as if you were pregnant.  All your attention is on your baby, and it’s hard to think about doing anything else. I’m starting to feel like I can finally start writing something else, a feeling I haven’t had in several years now.

So there we have it. The Kindle edition is available for pre-order now. Just click on the book cover above.  The release date is July 1st.  And a paperback edition will follow sometime in July.

I hope you like it.  I never thought I’d write a sequel of any kind, and I have my friend and editor, Gabriella West, to thank for that.  One day in an email she casually asked about what would have happened to Auden after Stealing Wishes, and that got the wheels turning. You’ll get to read all about it on July 1st!

Blog. Money. Health. Write. June 2016.

96860-Hello-JuneMay was a much better month for me than April was. I took a week of vacation during May, so it didn’t feel like it was rushing by me like March and April did.  But it’s still hard to believe another month has come and gone and June is already here.  The year is almost halfway over.

Let’s get right to the Money portion of this blog post and see how I did in May.

InBox Dollars Account: $34.52
iBotta Account: $27.70
Receipt Hog Account: $8.32
Primary Savings Account: $35.00
Primary Money Market: $20.00
Credit Union Savings: $70.00
Capitol One Money Market: $281.37
Cash Savings: $41.00
Total: $517.91

All of my accounts increased this month so I was very excited about that. I haven’t been paying as much attention to my InBox Dollars account but I’ve definitely been taking advantage of my iBotta and Receipt Hog Accounts.  It’s slow growing those but it’s easy money that adds up.

Health

Today marks Day 55 in my Food Journal that I started keeping in early April. I didn’t get to walk much this month because we had a lot of rain in May, but I definitely intend to pick that routine back up now that summer is here. I’ve tried to maintain my healthy eating habits which has basically helped maintain my current weight with maybe a pound loss, but gained again, here and there. Now that the weather is nice I’ve been anxious to get my bicycle out, so I hope to get a few bike rides in this month.

Write

I wrote three blog posts in May, and one of those was about my upcoming book. I’m in the final stages of reading the book one last time before it goes to publication. I’ve decided not to work on any new projects until this one is finished.

So here we are.  Summer is here! Have a great month!

Four Minutes to Make You Laugh

Earlier this month I started doing stand-up comedy again. I say “again” because yes, I used to do it a long time ago.  When I lived in Memphis, I was a regular open-mic’er at the local comedy club. Going to open mic every Wednesday night was fun and a good stress relief.

It is also a very strict way to practice creativity and timing. I say strict because you had 3 minutes on stage. So time was valuable, pacing was important, and you had to try to make people laugh in a short amount of time. It’s not easy!

Going to open mic even landed me a chance to be the opening act for a comedian who was hired to do a fundraising event for the Memphis Gay Bowling League. It was fun seeing my picture on a flyer all around town. I got to do 15 to 20 minutes of material to a packed house which included lots of my friends and coworkers.

None of this was ever a paid gig, but I loved doing it.  I’ve missed doing it since moving to St. Louis, and not really sure why I haven’t looked into doing it here until now. That all changed last month when I found out a new hire that I had to train at work was a local comic. After talking to her about it, I decided to check out the local comedy clubs and get back on stage.

The big difference here is that you get 4 minutes of time. Yep, just one additional minute to tell jokes and make people laugh. Might not seem like much, but it’s actually comedy gold for those doing open mic.

Though there are lots of late night open mics in bars and coffee houses here each week, there are two main St. Louis comedy clubs – Helium and Funny Bone – which have weekly open mics, both on Tuesday night. For Helium, you sign up online the week before and find out the weekend before if you get to go up. For Funny Bone, you show up that night and sign up and get picked randomly.

I signed up a few weeks for Helium but never got picked, so I decided to give Funny Bone a try the first week of May.  My coworker comic friend told me to note that I was a first timer, because first timers usually always get to go up. And it worked! I made the cut. But there was one drawback. The St. Louis Blues hockey team made it to the playoffs this month, and there was a game that night. Being a sports town, any game pretty much affects any venue that doesn’t have a television on.  So the audience was small that night.

I was seventh on the list of about 12 to 15 comics so it gave me a chance to see some other locals and to get a feel for the audience. I had already worked out my set in my head. And my coworker friend was there for support. I ended up getting lots of good laughs and my timing was perfect. I probably even had about 30 seconds left over but didn’t want to risk going over because that gets frowned upon.

I was out of town the following week, and signed up again for Helium the next week but didn’t make the list. With an upcoming local comic competition about to start, Helium decided to devote last week’s open mic to a practice session for those in the competition. But Helium has another chance for open mic that Funny Bone doesn’t offer.

It’s called the Bucket Show and takes place on Tuesdays in the bar before the big open mic event starts. You show up and put your name in a bucket and if it gets drawn you get 3 minutes. I decided to give this a try last week and went with my friend who is actually in the competition and was going to do both the Bucket show and the open mic event that night.

I had just put my name in the bucket and got a drink when my name got called!  There were about 20 people in the bar.  Most of them were comics who were there to do the open mic event, but quite a few were regular patrons.  I again had a good solid set and got lots of laughs. I stayed to watch the open mic show that night and there were actually less people in the audience for it than there was for the Bucket Show.  And almost all of those were comics.

For some reason, Helium isn’t doing the Bucket Show this coming Tuesday, and again they are giving the open mic night to those in the competition for a practice run. So I’m going to head back to Funny Bone for another try.

I’ve been really excited about doing open mic again, and I have been writing lots of new material. It feels great to have another creative outlet finally and I’m looking forward to doing it again each week!

Feeling Himself Forgotten

It’s finally happening!FHF

The sequel to Stealing Wishes will be published this year!

It’s been a while since I mentioned it, but in case you missed one of the previous posts, it’s called Feeling Himself Forgotten.

I started writing it in 2012. I’ve never considered writing a sequel to any of my books until a friend mentioned Auden, the second lead character from Stealing Wishes.  She said she would like to know what happened to him.  This got me to thinking about him and pretty soon I was writing his story.

It takes place a year later from where Stealing Wishes left off. Auden had a quick relationship with Blaine, only to leave him for a teaching job in Savannah. Now Auden decides he made a mistake and goes back to Memphis to rekindle his relationship with Blaine. What follows is the conflict Auden faces when he soon realizes things aren’t the same as they were a year ago when he left.

In the summer of 2012 I abandoned this book to write another one called Dickinstein, a mash-up of the life of Emily Dickinson with the story of Frankenstein.  My entire élan vital was devoted to Dickinstein for a while which was published in October 2013. And in 2014, I went back and finished Feeling Himself Forgotten and quickly placed it with a small micro E-publisher.

But over a year later, the E-publisher had still not found the time to bring Feeling Himself Forgotten into fruition. I got tired of waiting and canceled my contract with them last fall. Now I had a book on my hands and needed to decide what to do with it. Last year was a rough year for me creatively. I sat down to edit the manuscript but lost interest in it. Then the holidays came and went. And suddenly it’s 2016!

I decided to start again. I read the entire manuscript and gave it another scrub before sending it to my editor who finished with it in April.  Since then, I’ve been editing it again and reviewing my editor’s suggestions, and I’ve been working on the book’s cover (the current cover is pictured above).

So that’s where we are.  It’s been a long road, but it looks like I’m nearing my destination and will have another book out later this year!

 

Blog. Money. Health. Write. March 2016.

hello-march-blue-photoBlink. Blink. And just like that, February is gone. I’ve never been a fan of February. It’s the shortest month. It’s all about Valentine’s Day which has never been a special occasion for me. It’s still winter. It’s just one of those blah months I seem to mettle through and this year was no different.

Basically, I did my taxes. I spent the entire month preparing for my busy trade show season at work. And I went to the DMV.  In that order. As far as my resolutions go?  Eh, they might have suffered a bit.  Let’s see how I did.

Money

InBox Dollars Account: $29.32
iBotta Account: $24.20
Receipt Hog Account: $3.54
Primary Savings Account: $40.00
Primary Money Market: $40.00
Credit Union Savings: $55.00
Capitol One Money Market: $176.22
Cash Savings: $52.00
Total: $420.28

My InBox, iBotta, and Receipt Hog accounts each grew a tiny bit and that’s cool.  I’m less than $1 away from being able to cash out my InBox account but I’m not going to plan on doing that. My iBotta account can be cashed out now but I’m going to wait on it too.  Receipt Hog takes the longest to grow but it’s still fun to use.

My primary accounts grew a tiny bit. Not as much as I would have liked but some of my tax return had to go toward a car inspection and renewing my license plates, and I also had two doctor’s bills that arrived in the mail at the end of the month.

My Cap One money market account continues to grow the most thanks to my automatic deposits, and like I’ve said, that account is out of sight and out of mind so I’m not tempted to tap into it.

And cash savings is finally picking up which is a good feeling.

I have to travel for two full weeks in March; one week in the beginning and one at the end. This means less money spent because my company will reimburse me for meals. I also won’t spend as much on gas since I fly and take cabs. So I’m hoping again to take advantage of this and be able to save more. My app accounts and InBox will probably suffer a bit though because I won’t have as much time to give them attention.

Health

Ha!  What’s that?  February wasn’t any better than January, and yeah, I Girl Scout cookies last week.  Sooo….

One positive thing is that I learned about an app on Shark Tank called Sworkit. It’s a personalized exercise app for people on the go who don’t go to the gym. It helps you with stretching, yoga, cardio, and strength.  I thought it was worth a look so I downloaded it to my Kindle and I am looking forward to using it next month when I have to travel for work.

I haven’t given up yet.  Winter is always hard to get motivated. With Spring coming, I know I’ll be getting outside and burning calories and I’m looking forward to making lots of progress in the coming months.

I’m probably going to stop using My Fitness Pal for a while though.  If anything, it’s helped me to control my calorie intake, what to eat, what not to eat, and the like. It’s a challenge to record all of your meals every day though and since March is going to be a very busy month for me, I’m probably going to stop doing it. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my eating habits. I just don’t want to be tied to an app to keep track of my calories.

Write

I spent the entire month of February editing a book I had finished a few years ago. I wrote about it in a blog post just a few weeks ago. That’s one big plus for the month!  I finished my edit and finally sent the book to my editor.  I should have it back by the end of March and then can work on polishing it for publication. As far as new writing projects go everything was pretty much put on hold for the edit, and with the upcoming work travel I usually spend any free time reading so there won’t be much progress made in March either.

So that’s February in a nutshell. Happy Leap Day! See you in April.

Typety typey type type…

7d2caf985188c996daee7b1cc15d92aeFebruary is almost half over and when it comes to writing, other than a few blog posts, I don’t have much more to show for it. It’s not from a lack of trying. You’ve heard me moan about it before, but if I don’t have a good grasp on an idea in my head and the muse isn’t talking, it’s hard for me to remain focused on a concept for a novel. I know. I know. I sound like a fucking monkey. Give me a typewriter and sooner or later I’ll write a damn novel.

One such idea has already gone to rest that way just last month. I sat down and wanted to write it but the story just wasn’t working for me and I knew it wasn’t time to tell it. Not now. I moved on to another old idea I’ve been toying with and thought that was going to be the one that really got this month going, but I now know that’s not going to happen.

There are two main reasons.  The first is because I don’t think I’ve given the novel much thought as to how I was going to get the main character to go where I wanted to take him. I’m being vague here on purpose, but the book has to do with time travel.

It’s an amazing idea that I’ve at least started and have a few good chapters down, but when it comes to moving forward I feel lost. So, I’ve got research to do before I think I can devote myself to finishing this book. So, I’m filing it back away for a bit.

10774249The second reason is because my editor recently asked if I still wanted her to devote any time to the book I finished in 2013 which is a sequel to my second book, Stealing Wishes.  It’s called “Feeling Himself Forgotten.” Huh? Wha? I have a finished book in my possession?  Why, yes! Yes, I do!  And by now that book was feeling forgotten too!

I originally started writing this book about this time of year back in 2012 but abandoned it halfway through when I got slapped in the head with the idea for Dickinstein.  So I stopped writing it and picked up Dickinstein instead which I pounded out in eight weeks.

I wouldn’t go back to writing “Feeling Himself Forgotten” until 2013 when I finished it. The following year I thought I’d found a home for it with an Ebook publisher, but that fell through a year later in 2015.

By then, I’d hit a wall with writing all together due to family matters and didn’t really care if I ever wrote or published another book again. But I’m determined to make things better this year. So, I told my editor, yeah, we’re gonna do this!

I told my editor I knew there were issues in the story line that had to be fixed.  I love using puzzles, clues, anagrams, and twists in my writing and had done just that in a huge scene in the opening chapter.  The last time I read that piece it was horrible. I knew it had to be taken out. It was too cliché and I knew readers either wouldn’t get it or they’d rake me over the coals in their reviews for it.

So, I decided to sit down with the manuscript again and start over with a good final edit. I tried this about a year ago and couldn’t even finish. I just wasn’t in the mood to do it. But now feels good and feels different. So, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m polishing the manuscript and plan to have it to my editor by March.

The best part is that as I’m reading it now it still feels new to me and I get excited going on the journey with these characters again.  That’s probably some of the best advice I’d give to another writer too. Don’t be afraid to finish a novel and then just let it sit for a long time without touching it. Hell, this book has been sitting for almost 3 years! I did that with another book once and got the same feeling when I picked it back up years later.

As for “Feeling Himself Forgotten,” keep your fingers crossed because I really want to publish it this year.  It’s funny. It’s heartfelt. And it continues the story of Auden and Blaine a year after Stealing Wishes ended.