Welcome to my blog! If you are a new visitor, please click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


11,440 hours.  That's well over a year of time I have lived.  Truly lived.

I try not to think about it.  After all, who thinks about how many hours they spend asleep, or on the toilet, or driving to work?  No one wants to know how much time is passing by.

Sure, I've been around for some 25 years, but really I was asleep for most of it.  Almost all of it.  I am not the smartest guy.  I'm stuck in a chair.  And Lord knows I don't have much in the looks department.  It wasn't until I went online that I finally woke up.  Got what I deserved.  Became me.

A body.  No, not just a body.  I have a body.  A good body, a good-looking body.  Damn, make it a sexy one.  Muscles, the kind that you could only get with 11,440 hours of working out.  Hair, money, friends, a relationship, even sex.  It's all there, all online, all in this community, this other life.  My avatar is not just a representation of myself – it is an extension of myself.  It is what I should look like if I wasn't bound to this damn chair.

No, this other life is my life.  My chair, my overbite, my greasy hair, the 4 hours a day I spend coding for some company I've never been to… this is what is not real.  This is fake.  I don't have control over it, just like a dream.  I only work because I need to, just like sleep.  When I'm awake, I can do whatever I want.  I'm better than you.  I'm popular and funny and sexy and everything I'm not when I'm asleep.  Hell, who needs sleep?

11,500 hours.  I can ignore the hunger.  After a while, it goes away.  My chair is covered in urine, but I don't care.  It's not real, anyway.  What's real is the woman standing in front of me, her avatar dressed in sexy lingerie.  She's beckoning to me.  I go to her, ready to-

Everything goes dark.  The lights, the computer, the oscillating fan – all of it stops.  There is nothing left but this death-like sleep and the smell of urine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Novel Update

So for the past several months, I have been busy editing my novel.  To keep myself on top of it, somewhat, I have been reading two chapters at a time for my critiquing group.  Sadly, this is taking more time than I wish to take.  My goal is to submit the novel to agents and publishers by the end of the year.  To be more precise, I want it published by the end of the year, if at all possible. Considering I am only 1/3 of the way through the novel with my group, I am going to need to find other people to critique.

Of course, I have been editing well ahead of the group.  They are at Chapter 14.  I am currently on Chapter 31 out of 35 (plus epilogue).  It has been hard.  There are a few intense scenes (which really take it out of me), I added several chapters, and I have been struggling with tying up loose ends.  And on top of this, there is the problem of word count.

The conventional wisdom is that a novel starts at somewhere between 50,000 and 55,000 words.  When I was first writing this book, I was worried about whether or not I would hit that goal.  Now I'm worried I have too many words.

I've been dong my research, trying to maximize my chances of actually getting picked up.  I want to know what I am getting myself into.  I have read that 90,000 words is about the limit as far as a new author is concerned.  Any longer, and the publisher would have second thoughts about taking on the novel.  In essence, they do not think people would be willing to pick up a book that long by an unknown author.  Now, I do not know how accurate this statement is, but it does make a certain amount of sense.  I was told that if my novel is longer than 90k, I should consider splitting it into two books, maybe even three.

So here is my dilemma.  I have a definite break in my book, where the main characters go from Earth into the Afterlife.  There are a few scenes people have talked about wanting in the first third.  I don't know what to do.  Should I take this advice and split my novel into two parts, or ignore it and keep it as one?  I have been planning on a sequel, but that sequel isn't plotted out yet.

What do you all think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing with ADHD

Some of you may be aware that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  This is something I have lived with my entire life, and it has had some major impacts on me and the way I work and think.

I will not go into detail about the potential causes of ADHD, the claim some people make that it is not real, or the medication I used to go on.  But perhaps I should give a brief rundown of what it is like and what I have had to go through.

When we were very young, my brother and I (yes, he is also ADHD.  Twins.) would wrestle together while the TV was on, only stopping long enough to watch the commercial break.  We were put on medication which we hated and which tasted awful.  It made me feel... strange.  Despondent.  Shy.  We always had trouble making friends for a variety of reasons, and this certainly didn't help.  We moved when I was 6. Then we changed schools between 1st and 2nd grade, when we moved again.  We were homeschooled in 3rd grade.  We stayed at one school for 5th and 6th grades, then were enrolled in a private Catholic school.  Because neither of us were raised Catholic, we were often seen as outsiders and it was hard to get to know people.  Thankfully, we were at this school from 6th grade through 12th, giving us the first real opportunity to make friends.  The friends we did make were odd and nerdy, like us.  We called ourselves "The Outcasts."  There were 5 of us.

Throughout school, we were medicated, twice a day.  When the medication wore off, we found it difficult or impossible to stay still, to focus, to do homework.  When it was working, we found it difficult to open up to others, to really be ourselves.  And we were naive.  It tended to wear off at the end of school, so that we would often make fools of ourselves and not really care because we simply had too much energy and too few inhibitions.

Inhibitions.  One of the hallmarks of a true ADHD kid is that they have great difficulty controlling impulses.  Procrastination is chief among them.  This is not to say we would ever become a hoodlum, but it would make it harder to control one's own emotions.  As one doctor told me, we all are born with filters.  These filters let in only the pertinent bits of information, leaving everything else out.  They let out only the things we should do or say, keeping the other things in.  Someone with ADHD does not have these filters and must learn how to handle life without them.  If I am trying to watch a movie, I get distracted by what the people in the row over from me are doing.  Although I know I shouldn't, sometimes I spend money on something we do not need simply because I wanted it at that moment.

Yes, I am still living with ADHD.  It still makes impulses hard to control and makes it difficult to pay attention to things sometimes.  But being ADHD is not only like you are filterless.  Sometimes I have amazing filters.  If I truly get absorbed into something, my mind really does filter everything else out. I have gone without eating, lost complete track of time, and even been unaware that someone else walked into the room with me because I was focusing on something.  But in order for this to happen, I generally move.  Most people say that I vibrate.  My leg wobbles, sometimes a lot.  I chew my tongue.  I fidget in my chair.  And I am completely unaware that I am doing any of it.  The more I focus, the more I tend to move.  It is rare that I am not moving.  Perhaps this is the secret of ADHD weight-loss.


When I graduated high school, I stopped taking medication.  I went to college.  I began to open up.  I somehow became extroverted (most of the time) and had a ton of friends.  I had a girlfriend for the first time.  Sadly, she cheated on me and I was devastated, but I got over it.  Then, I had a big test and wanted to really focus for it, so I began to take my medication again.  The result was not good.
I was no longer a naive kid, but had gathered real life experiences.  And when I took that pill, I realized very quickly that the feeling I had always felt when I was medicated was depression.  A deep depression.  It was stronger than before, because now my mind could focus on how I was cheated on.  I had been living most of my life in a depression.
Needless to say, I stopped taking the pills.  I experimented with others for a while, but they all had negative side effects (such as losing 15 pounds of muscle in a week).  So I decided I needed to learn how to LIVE with my ADHD instead of fighting against it.  I've been learning ever since.

I've learned that sometimes I really do need to simply vibrate.  I've learned that at times I need absolute silence, but most of the time I need noise in order to concentrate.  When I write, I often put on music, anything from heavy metal to classical, progressive rock to electronica.  The only music I never put on is something catchy (sorry They Might Be Giants).  The only way I can explain this is that the music acts as my filter - it takes up those parts of my mind that are apt to wander and keeps them focused on something that does not distract the rest of me.
Sometimes, I need to go to a public place to work.  I tend to prefer restaurants - not ones that are too busy or with live music or interesting stuff on the TV.  I used to go to a coffee and ice cream shop.  Now I go to a sports bar that is pretty quiet on Tuesdays (and sports hold no interest for me).  I am hoping that I will be able to change my venue in the coming days when a new restaurant opens in the area.  However, other times I need to be at home.  Perhaps it is my capricious nature, or perhaps I simply need a change of scenery from time to time.
When I am researching, it becomes hard to keep the research on topic.  When I am going about my "dailies" (the websites I frequent on a daily basis), I tend to put things off (like responding to an email, paying the bills, etc).  And sometimes I need to be reminded that it is time to leave or to get lunch ready.  I am not just a writer with ADHD, I'm a stay-at-home father with ADHD, too.

Living with ADHD has other consequences.  No matter how much people tell me they love my writing, I always get nervous when someone else reads it.  I always think my writing sucks.  I have a hard time filtering out my own inner critic.  It is something I need to learn to deal with.  I do not know if this is related to being ADHD (or if it is simply the nature of adulthood), but I have always felt like a child, albeit a child with arthritis.  I do not think I look or act like an adult, and sometimes I wonder how other adults do it.  That being said, I find it easy to understand what kids are going through, to empathize with them and play with them.  I still have many vivid memories of my childhood, dating back to when I was 2 or 3, so I remember what it was like as a toddler to get a reward or be yelled at or play a game with other kids.  I remember the first time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up (and in typical ADHD fashion, I wanted to be everything).  I remember writing a poem in kindergarten called "The Windbow" and being devastated when it somehow did not win first prize in a contest, despite it being from a 5-year-older.  So, in some ways I am blessed, and I have embraced this connection to my inner child.  It is part of what defines me.

I do not know what it is like for other people with ADHD (well, perhaps my brother).  I have met many, and have heard many stories that are the same, and many that are different.  But this is what it is like for me.  I am ADHD and I will not let that get in the way of my hopes and dreams.  I will instead learn to work with it.

Monday, January 19, 2015


A new year, a new post.  I do apologize for my lack of posting in the past few months.  It really did take a hit on me when I found out one of my stories had been stolen and disseminated without my permission.

Sadly, nothing was done about it.  The person who alerted me to it found it on a website that is, shall we say, not for the kiddies.  The website, however, seems to have a very poor infrastructure, as there is no way to really search it.  Not even the admins can search it.  I spent as much time as I dared on it trying to discover the thief's identity, but so many stories get posted on that site that it was buried under hundreds of pages before I had a chance to even start looking.  Plus, that website was certainly not my cup of tea.

So I will simply have to live with the fact that someone stole my story and that more of my writing is likely to be stolen as well.  I normally would not be gung-ho for attention, but as an aspiring author, its part of the job description.  We writers need to market and advertise ourselves.  I'm not in the business of giving someone ELSE recognition for my own work.  But there's very little I can do about  it at this point, except to simply get over it and realize that the things I post on here WILL be stolen at some point.

That's not to say it doesn't irk me.  That's not to say I will not go after a thief.  It's to say I should expect it.  I will not be posting my best on here (not that I ever did - to be honest these flashfiction pieces have been in dire need of editing).

However, I will return to posting on here.  Short stories and updates, as per the norm, but perhaps not as many as I had been.  There's a simple reason for that - time.

So I have two updates.  The first is that I have, in my hands, a copy of the book I was published in as a contributing author.  I have given 12 short pieces to this daily meditation guide, one per month.  It is by Christian publisher Forward Movement, the Executive Director of which, Scott Gunn, I was fortunate enough to meet in person at church one day.  He read my blog and got in touch with me about writing for this book, and I was truly honored to be chosen.  I also was able to lead an adult forum at my church about my experience writing for "Meeting God Day By Day" and even got to sign a few copies.  It gives me great hope to know that people like my writing, typos and all.

Just so you know, no, I was not paid a penny for this project.  It was a contribution, a donation, and a chance to gain some small amount of recognition.

At this point, I'm not sure how much money I will ever make at writing, but anything is good at this point.  I very much would love to be a professional author, to spend all day writing, to crank out a book every year or two, and to make a decent living off of it.  But I do not need to, so I will not sacrifice quality for quantity.

The second update is that I am nearly finished with the first draft of my novel.  For those of you who don't know my system (i.e. all of you), I call the first thing I hammer out (which is more of a placeholder) my "rough draft."  I am not willing to let ANYONE see the rough draft.  Not even the President.  It is too rough, too unformed.  I am not proud of it, because it is not meant to be something I am proud of.  It is there as a starting point, to form the skeleton of the story upon which I will frame the meat in later drafts.  The "first draft" is what I am willing to let people see after I have personally gone through and edited the entire novel for myself, taking into account the things I think are broken or wrong with it, the places where I feel it needs more or less.  This I am not proud of.  I'm scared every single time my critiquing group reads it because I think they will hate it (even though they usually love it).  After it is complete (I have 5 chapters left), I will send it around to people I trust for critiquing.  The second draft will take into consideration all of those initial critiques.  Then I will search for another round of critiques.  This third draft (or more, depending on how much work people feel it needs), final draft, is the one I would be proud of enough to send off to an agent or publisher.  I want my first novel to make a good impression, to have as little editing needed as possible.  After they critique and edit, we will come up with the "final version."  Notice how this isn't a draft any longer.  That is what I hope to get published.

So to say that I am "close to being done" is not entirely accurate.  I have done the hard part - writing the novel.  I am almost done with the harder part, editing the novel.  I'm working on the even harder part, accepting critiques and editing further.  Then I will have the hardest part - finding someone to actually publish the thing.

If all goes according to plan, by the end of this year I will be a published author.