Thursday, September 29, 2016

11: The Scene that Never Was

The Scene that Never Was -

The difference between storytelling and writing.

 Welcome to's Creative Writing Podcast. 

I was talking with Tara this week about my Coma: The Cataclysm project and today's episode stemmed from that conversation.

Is it possible to plan a scene so long that you forget you never actually wrote it? Yes. I can confirm that this is a distinct possibility!

Not subscribed to the podcast? Get it now!

Podcast News

I realized that my podcast episode file sizes were pretty large and I'm experimenting with adjusting the settings to get things just right. Big files means more hosting costs and a pain for you. So I'm going to be working on that in the future. Also. just a heads up, there probably won't be an official podcast next week. We're going on a little trip and it may be difficult to record and upload something.

Also, stay tuned for this week's special, funny creative writing prompts intro. I don't think this one will be permanent, but it was a lot of fun to throw together and I challenge you to listen to it without smiling.

Writing Updates

I've had to make some tough decisions with my writing lately. Yeah?

One of the big ones came with the realization, and finally admitting to myself, that Chlorophyllium 9 doesn't make for a very searchable title. And it's really hard to get the type settings to look good on my cover. So, going forward, I think I'm settling on the new title: Distant Worlds. While this move ditches the novelty of showcasing the name of the mineral I invented, it makes a lot more sense when you consider how readers will find and otherwise look for the novella.

I had originally intended that title to be for one of the novels in the series, but it really does capture the essence of what Chlorophyllium accomplishes as a story. It's okay! I have plenty of time to  come up with a replacement title for future books as I move forward.

I'm still working on Final Hope and making progress. It isn't coming as fast as I would like, but every day I sit down and write and get my word count higher, it's a win.

Storytelling vs. Writing

How much time do you spend in the planning phase of creating your story? Are you like me, in that sometimes it seems like you spend far more time planning and building than you do actually writing?

This can be a significant problem for some writers. Myself included. But, I'm climbing that mountain every single day. Instead of just dreaming about writing, I'm actually doing it. Look, there are a lot of resources out there. A lot of products claim to have all the answers, but it's a never-ending road, that one. Sometimes I think how-to writing books and courses tend to feed into themselves, imparting a fear of failure in many cases when they should be filling you with hope.

Make sure you're not just crafting a story, if your dream is to be a writer, stop planning and start doing. Start writing and let that be the medium you use to tell your story. I'm doing it. It goes one step at a time. And guess what? You can do it too.

Stop buying into products that promise to make you into a writer. You've got to actually sit down and do it. If you want to read something, read a book you love or even one you hate. What did the author do well? More-so, how did they tell the story?

The Prologue

This once scene in particular, the one I thought I wrote, will be making its debut on my blog in the next couple of days. You can check it out here:

The scene has changed a bit since I first imagined it. Much of it is the same, but I did choose to break sooner. I've learned how to be a better storyteller since then, and part of that is knowing where to cut things to leave both an emotional impact and a desire to read more.

I'm not about to say I've done it perfectly, but I think it's pretty good and it's a heck of a lot better than not being written at all. Right?

The Sign-Off

Keep moving forward, folks! You can do this! Don't let your scenes or chapters be the ones that never were.

And now, for this week's writing prompts!

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. Call of the Water

Ever since you were a small child, you’ve heard a song that no one else seemed to hear every time you were near a large body of water. Now that you’re grown , you can’t seem to shrug the call of the ocean. You feel driven to the shoreline and some powerful force compels you to step out into the oncoming waves.

2. A Sky of Flames

The world is burning. At night, the sky glows orange from the wildfires. The mid-day sun is oft obscured by the dark tendrils of smoke. Sunsets blaze red in the west, leaving an echo of the days’ destruction in the last vestiges of light before the bonfire that consumes the night.

3. Colony

Chosen as a member of the first planetary colony, outside of Earth, you have started the voyage to what will be your new home. The trip is long and, once the initial experience and excitement wears off, rather boring. But it’s the perfect time to get to know your new colony-mates.

4. The Broken Promise

You always said you’d never lie to those you love, but after recent events you are starting to rethink that promise. Some things are better left unsaid. How could you expect them to understand? The things you’ve seen would be too much for most and it’s a burden you can’t have them bear.

5. Needle and Haystack

In true fairytale fashion, you’ve been set to an impossible task. If you succeed, riches and opportunity beyond imagination. If you fail? Well, let’s just say that would be significantly less pleasant. You have twenty-four hours to beat the odds or pay the price. Will you rise to the challenge, find an unexpected loophole, or suffer the consequences of failure?

6. The Three Visitors

Throughout the course of the night, you’re visited by three apparitions. But this is no Christmas story. These ghosts have other intentions, and you are the one person who can help them realize their schemes. Hold onto your hat, throw on your slippers, and prepare yourself for an spectral, out-of-this-world adventure that no one saw coming.

7. The Corporate Scheme

Someone high up in the food chain at work has been making waves, and it’s no secret that they’re pulling any string they can find to get their friends in high places. All around you people are talking about leaving the company in an effort to get out of the toxic environment. You don’t know if it was all the promises this person made when they first arrived or what. Surely, other executives have done the same in the past and most folks just looked the other way. As fate would have it, you find yourself in the hot seat. You’ve somehow managed to come across a thread of information that will undo this person’s entire career. You feel morally obligated to bring it to light, yet you’re not sure you want to be the one who faces the consequences of doing so.

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

10: Fight for that Dream

Why I missed a week and the importance of fighting for your dreams.

Fight for that Dream!

 Welcome to's Creative Writing Podcast. 

Today's podcast episode is about fighting for your dreams. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made if we're ever going to achieve the things we've spent so much time dreaming about.

Do you want to be a writer? Well? Get writing!

Not subscribed to the podcast? Get it now!

Podcast News

I missed last week, but I'm back with an extra long episode today to make up for it!

Listener Shoutouts

Radio silence. Hit me up on Twitter or at

Writing Updates

As I mentioned in the podcast update, I opted to press forward with my writing after encountering some resistance with unfortunate events last week. I am very happy with the progress I made and things are looking good! Still, we always have to keep pushing toward those goals.

Pursuing your dreams is important.

Don't just dream about what you want to accomplish. Start doing it. Time is the one resource you will never get more of. You might be able to get a promotion or take on a second job to make more money, but you will never get more time. Why do we often opt to spend time on diversions instead of doing the things we really want to do?

The Sign-Off

Show notes for this episode are rather sparse. This week was full of tangents and passion about writing and dreams. What else can I say?

And now, for this week's writing prompts!

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. Wayward Shadow

Like Peter Pan’s shadow, you’ve noticed your own dark twin has been acting of their own accord as of late. While this makes for some interesting party tricks and a lot of laughs, it isn’t something you can control and it seems as if your shadow is learning how to interact with objects in the real world. Your friends are convinced you’re some kind of amateur magician, but the truth is: you don’t have any tricks up your sleeve and you’re just as mystified as they are.

A few nights of parlor tricks go by before things begin to get even more strange. Your shadow disappears for hours at a time and when it returns it often appears exhausted, collapsing on the fabric of your favorite armchair. Rarely, it will muster the strength to tear itself off the surface of the floor and walls and sit across from you like a darkened void. Staring into the dark hollows of its eyes makes a shiver run down your spine. How is any of this even possible?

Then, after a particularly long absence, your shadow returns just moments before a loud knock sounds on your apartment door. It’s the police and they have a warrant for your arrest. They are saying something about fingerprints at the scene of the crime and inform you that you have the right to remain silent.

2. The Patient

You’re a nurse and you love your job working nights at the hospital but, ever since a new doctor rolled into town a few months back, things have been getting weird. You can’t put your finger on what it is, exactly, and you’re determined to figure it out. As tensions rise, you find yourself backed into a precarious position. Someone has taken note of your snooping and now your job is on the line.

You’ve always taken great pride in putting the patients first, and when you notice that some are disappearing, you know what you must do. You wait. At first it seems like the pattern has broken and everything has gone back to normal. Were you really just imagining things all along? No. Just when you were about to give up hope of ever finding another clue, you catch a glimpse of the new doctor casually rolling one of your patients, strapped to their bed, down the hallway. Knowing this might be your only chance, you follow them and uncover the horrible truth.

3. The Secret of Rainier Mesa

On September 19, 1957, the United States detonated a 1.7 kiloton nuclear warhead in underground, 65 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada. Code named Rainier, the test was a part of larger mission: Operation Plumbbob, which included some 29 nuclear explosions. However, of all the tests, this one was special. The nuclear device was placed in a small room, six by six by seven feet in dimensions, 900 feet below the surface of the mesa. Of course, most of the real details of the test were left off the reports.

As a part of an independent scientific research group, your team has maneuvered to gain access to the remains of the underground chamber. Much of the information you have on the site has been pieced together from redacted reports and off-the-record commentary throughout the years. By taking advantage of certain political oversights, you manage to secure access approval. Though, as expected, you encounter significant resistance when your team arrives on-site. But your credentials check out and, after a bit of hassle, you are permitted to set up a base camp and begin operations. Fortunately, you’ve brought your own equipment, so the Test Site Coordinator’s efforts to slow down your progress doesn’t impede your operations.

After two days of digging, you find the first signs of what you’ve been looking for: a previously undisclosed ancillary test chamber. Just as you’re about to breach the hardened rock shell and gain access to the secrets you’ve worked so hard to uncover, you spot a line of armed military vehicles speeding towards the dig site. You know you don’t have much time when you watch the column veer off the road, leaving clouds of dust behind them as they close the gap to your location. It’s now or never.

4. Such Beautiful Eyes

It was a chance encounter, nothing more than a blip in history to most, but somehow a connection was made. Now you can’t stop thinking about them. No matter how many times you use the your time machine, you’ve never encountered anyone quite like them. They had such beautiful eyes; a deep blue, deeper than any ocean, and no matter how far away you travel, you’re sure you’ll never forget. But why can’t you find them when you go back?

Your scanner can pick up no trace of any individuals matching your search criteria. Was it nothing more than a specter, a ghostly image of a history that once was and yet may never be? Or have you encountered another like yourself, one who can travel unbound through the ages? Could there be another time traveler weaving their way through history? If so, were you destined to meet? What will come of this chance encounter and will you ever learn the secrets hidden behind those beautiful eyes?

5. At the Bottom of the Well

When your friend accidentally drops a prized possession into the well, you volunteer to climb down and swim to the bottom in search of it. With the sun directly overhead, you can barely see into the murky depths. Something lurks in the shadows, something unexpected and profound. What is it?

6. Before it Slips Away

Your night was filled with enchanting dreams of far off places. While you knew you were dreaming, you couldn’t help but hope it would never end. But, as with all things, the end did come. Now you find yourself staring at your ceiling while you try to piece through what was dream and what is real. Just as you’re about leave the memory behind, you find something lying next to you on the bed: an impossible souvenir from a night you’re now sure you won’t soon forget.

7. The Shadowy Bargain

You’ve just been informed that the data center you’ve been working at will soon close. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people in your career field will be scrambling for jobs. The market will be flooded. How can you hope to pick up the pieces after this devastating news? Instead of heading home, you decide to linger in the city and walk the darkened streets. You know you’re expected home, but when your phone rings, you can’t help but ignore it. You’ve worked so hard and feel so lost and… alone.

Then you see her. She stands beneath the dim street light with her shopping cart full of mysterious objects. She beckons you over with strange promises of a brighter future. As you approach, you can’t help but notice the slight glow emanating from under her overcoat. She’s no devil or demon, she says, just a wayward fairy trying to make her way home, but granting wishes comes with a price. What bargain is this spirit of the fey trying at? What are the stakes, and what choice will you make?

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

9: What is Creativity?

A longer episode with podcast updates, writing updates, a sample read of Chlorophyllium 9, and talking about creativity.

What is Creativity?

 Welcome to's Creative Writing Podcast. 

Today's podcast episode is about Creativity.

Taking a closer look at what creativity is and what it means to be creative.

Not subscribed to the podcast? Get it now!

My Week

Labor Day weekend was great! I'm usually off on Friday's, but this year I've made a real effort to make it to the kids' homeschool co-op sessions. Sure, it eats into time I could spend in an empty house, writing, but I feel like I've been missing out on this experience with them.

I guess that's one thing about having your oldest getting ever-closer to 18 and then having a very young one join the party. I just don't want to miss out on the important stuff. I swear, you blink and so much of life has passed you by.

I know my dream is to become a full-time writer, but this is just something I have to do. I'm starting to get some rhythm to it and I have even gotten some words in during the classes. I'm mostly an observer at this point, I help when needed, which isn't much in my wife's class on world geography. But when we rotate over to the nursery, I tend to help a little more actively.

To celebrate Labor Day, I cooked up some mean steaks on the grill and we tried to watch Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, the disc we got from Red Box was scratched and it was skipping huge sections of the movie, so we bagged that idea and watched some Doctor Who, Season 1 instead.

I won't lie to you, I also wasted a pretty large chunk of time playing the new expansion that just released for World of Warcraft. I haven't paid for game time in over 5 months now and this was the perfect time to play the auction house as players were scrambling to level up their crafts. Call me a nutter if you'd like, I love online economies and making money in online games. I know it's not real money, it's just so much fun!

Podcast News

What's new with the podcast? Milestones? Achievements?

I realized this week, while looking at some of the podcasts I listen to regularly, that my post names were way out of whack with how other folks have their episodes showing up in iTunes. I've gone back and changed the post names and I'll probably have to manually refresh the RSS feed or something, but I hope it changes the older episodes.

The change makes a lot of sense, now that I think about it. This is just another one of those instances where I look back and think, "Now why in the world did I think this way was somehow better? Sheesh, no brainer!"

I'm notoriously hard on myself and overthink silly things like this.

I haven't gotten a whole lot of listener feedback for the podcast lately.

Listener Shout-outs

My dad replied to my author newsletter this week. Here's some of what he had to say,

"Every podcast gets better and better. They are done in a professional manner yet you draw people in with your personal touch. Listening to them makes me want to know more about you. When you start your writing prompts I am almost disappointed because I realize that we are reaching the end of the podcast. Yet the prompts makes you think with a creative mind. You do an excellent job. I am very proud of you. Nothing in life seems to stop you. You just learn from it and move forward. I think that Coma is my second favorite right behind  “The Boy in the Window.” I know you are very busy but if you get time you really need to work on Coma I think it has great potential."

Thanks, Dad! I really appreciate that you take the time to listen to my podcast and read my stories. It means the world to me! I'm really excited about all the stuff I have going on. I won't lie, though. It can be pretty exhausting. This whole podcast journey has opened my eyes to how much I still don't know. But I'm learning and trying to do things better.

Writing Updates

Chlorophyllium 9 is pretty much done. I just need to put on a bit of polish here and there before I compile the document and give it a read through start to finish. I like to do this on my Kindle Paperwhite. I find the switch in media helps me find the errors and inconsistencies better than on my computer screen where I've spent large amounts of time writing and editing.

This change in venue helps me keep my mind fresh and I don't have to keep going back to reread portions when my brain gets lazy.

Next up is Final Hope! The first chapter we encounter after Chlorophyllium 9 ends throws us right back into the most gut-wrenching scene of the novella and we pick up on the details that were washed over before.

[Excerpt of Chlorophyllium 9 - Opening Scene.]

What is Creativity?

Definition: "the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work."

What makes you unique?

I'll write the show notes later. :)

Supporting idea.


Supporting idea.


Supporting idea.


Supporting idea.


Supporting idea.


Supporting idea.


The Sign-Off

Ending summary and sign-off.

And now, for this week's writing prompts!

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. Broken Wing 

You are sitting at the dining room table, eating breakfast, when a loud bang startles you. No one else is home so you quickly check all the doors, but there is no sign of anyone to be found. You figure it might be some of the neighborhood kids up to their hijinks again. Then you see it. Outside the back sliding glass door lies a bird. It must have flown into the pane. It’s flapping around erratically and looks dazed. 
You carefully reach down and pick it up. In an immense measure of trust, the bird doesn’t struggle. It just looks at you. The left wing looks broken but, remembering a story from when you were a kid, you think you might be able to brace it and look after the bird while it heals. You take it inside and set to the task of wrapping the broken wing.

2. A Familiar Case 

You’re a medical examiner for a sleepy, country town. There isn’t even much in the way of violent crime in the entire county. Therefore, most of your examinations center around natural causes of death. Everything seems routine at your latest call-out: cold body, very little decay, no obvious sign of a struggle, and.. What’s that? 
There’s black underneath all the fingernails and… a strange black line is drawn down the middle of the victim’s tongue. 
While the detectives seem remiss to write it off, something in the back of your mind tells you this one little detail is very important. You express your concern to the lead investigator, but they tell you to give the body a full examination and write it up in your report. They clearly have better things to do than chase ghosts when it comes to simple, open-shut cases like this one. 
When you proceed with your investigation, you discover another clue on the body. This confirms your worst fears, an old unsolved case you researched and used as supporting evidence in your college thesis has come back to haunt you. If you’re right and the deaths follow previous patterns, you should be examining your next corpse in five days; with many more to follow.

3. Strange Sprouts

This was it, the year you finally got down to it and planted your garden. It was a lot of hard work clearing out the unkempt overgrowth of previous years’ failures, but you did it. You planted tomatoes and carrots, corn, and beans; even a few heirloom varieties, since that’s all the rage. 
You’ve spent countless hours in the garden pulling weeds, watering, and tending to all the little seedlings. Then one day a new batch of seedlings sprout next to the ones you planted. They don’t look like weeds, but they certainly have something sinister in mind. One by one, they consume your seedlings. 
When you try to pull them, they resist. You don’t know where these little devils came from but you have a bad feeling about this; still, watching them bear fruit could be interesting.

4. On Darker Tides

You’ve been invited to your best friend’s wedding on a cruise ship, it’s been so amazing, and you couldn’t be happier for her. The ceremony is beautiful and you watch the two newlyweds dance. They both look so happy.  
It’s the picture perfect wedding. After the festivities, you walk back to your cabin and take a refreshing shower before stepping out onto the veranda. The salty ocean air is refreshing and you watch as the last rays of sunlight are consumed by the fathomless depths. 
You must have dosed off because the next thing you recall is hearing a man’s voice shouting, begging someone to please stop. You can’t be sure, but it sounds like… the groom. Then a dark silhouette flutters downward and you hear the splash after what seems like an eternity. 
Rumors abound in the hours afterward while the ship authorities investigate the incident, but the preliminary report seems to indicate that it was just an accident. How can that be? You heard what you heard and something about your friend’s alibi troubles you.

5. The Dancing Nun

No one can explain it and the whole world is watching as all news channels feature a nun performing an elaborate dance around a fountain in a prominent town square. What first came across and a humorous oddity has transfixed viewers all across the world as the hours tick by.  
Bystanders elbow in to share the spotlight and reporters angle in to shout their questions above the cheers of the growing crowd, but the nun just keeps dancing her wordless dance. 
Is this some sort of demonic possession, a civil protest, an elaborate distraction, or just fun tomfoolery?

6. The Temptation

You’ve never considered yourself a thief, but lately you just can’t seem to resist the urge to pocket trinkets and gadgets. You’ve even found things in your pockets you don’t remember seeing before, like the key chain you’re sure someone is missing. 
As if to complicate matters, it seems that the objects you are somehow attracting have become stranger, more… arcane? 
Have you become an unwitting magnet for magic items and enchanted objects? And is that a… wand? Just as you think you’re about to lose your mind, you hear a strange knock at the door before the lock clicks open.

7. See You Latte

After several non-starters, you’ve finally found someone on the Internet dating sites who seems interesting enough to meet in person. After talking on the phone for over an hour, you decide to surprise them with an iced latte before you start your date. 
Then, while waiting in line, you’re accosted with the contents of an entire tray of coffee beverages. The unfortunate perpetrator is apologetic and scrambles to clean up their mess. As you bend down to help, you both lock eyes and any thoughts of your upcoming blind date melt away.

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

Please consider supporting this effort by signing up for my newsletter. 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

8: What Writing Means to Me

  My wife, Tara, interviews me!

  What Writing Means to Me

 Welcome to's Creative Writing Podcast. 

Today's podcast episode is a special one. My wonderful wife, Tara, interviews me and asks that tough question: what does writing mean to me?

We talk about my first writing experience and why I feel so drawn to writing. This podcast episode follows a conversational format, but under the surface of my own recounted experiences, you can see some of the underlying foundations of writing and what it takes to be a writer as it applies to your own story.

We all come to the empty page with different backgrounds. And if storytelling has taught me anything, it's that there are hidden gems of truth within every story. 

Not subscribed to the podcast? Get it now!

When did you first develop a desire to write?

The first writing experience I remember was in Ms. Shupe's first grade class. We were supposed to write a short story and I wrote one that was very similar to The Lion and the Mouse. It was called, The Lion and the Turtle. It was a total knock-off.

But my mom worked at Hill Air Force Base and they had computers. So she typed it up for me and printed it out and put it into this very professional looking folio. I took it to school and, probably more because it looked nice, Ms. Shupe put it on the bulletin board outside the classroom for the whole school to read. It blew me away and I was so excited about writing, you know, in first grade... with my knock-off story. 

So, where did it go from there?

Well, for the most part, I only wrote for school assignments. There was something that went down in fifth or sixth grade. A couple of the guys in my class started writing a story about kids with super powers. But it got out of hand and nobody ended up wanting to finish it because we couldn't stop fighting about who had more super powers. So that didn't go very well.

But then in junior high I started to write poems. I wanted to write stories, but I got hung up on using the correct punctuation. I had questions and I tried to ask my English teacher but it never came out right, so I never got the answers I was looking for. It was really stupid stuff like, do you put the period before the quotation marks or after the quotation marks. If somebody asks a question, is it a question mark and then quotation marks, and then if it's 'he said' or 'she said' is the 'h' or the 's' capitalized?

We didn't have the Internet back then, so I couldn't just look it up and I never really got any good answers to those questions and I just felt kind of silly for asking them after a while so I stopped. But the stories that I did start writing, I would love to tell you that they were awesome, but they weren't. They were crap. I still have some of them. They were just utter crap, but what are you going to expect from a junior high school kid?

At the time you thought they were awesome, though?

I was pretty sure I was writing them with the punctuation wrong and I talked in the last episode about perfection and how that can be a total creativity killer and that totally killed it for me. Because I wanted them to be perfect. It was really bad cliche stuff. Yeah, I thought it was cool at the time, but it wasn't that great.

And then, it was before the Internet, right? So we had the Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and we would, I called myself a modemer, you'd use the modem on your computer and dial in over the phone line and connect to the BBS. It was basically a simple chat program that brought in all sorts of different users across different telephone line systems and you could chat with people. You could post files. So I posted up some of my poems up there and you read some of them, didn't you?

I did.

It was before we met.

Yeah, I was only on there because a friend who got me on. I wasn't computer savvy, even then. But I was just perusing the file section one day and came across them and the name 'Brady Frost' stuck in my head. And so when I met him later, after he mentioned he had written something, I... it was kind of crazy. Because your name had been stuck in my head.

You were stalking me.

No, I wasn't stalking you.

I was really excited about writing in high school, very passionate. I took Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing classes. I ended up getting in a semester of Journalism and I did a horrible job writing articles. I didn't have any beats. I just kind of pumped out pulp crap. But it was fun. It was a lot of fun.

I read some of  yours, they were funny.

They were humor pieces but there was no... nothing. 
So, yeah, my humor as a teenager was kind of borderline offensive... non-politically correct, slap and giggle type stuff. So, yeah, it wasn't great work, but I did enjoy writing a lot.
Then we got married and I joined the military. And I remember that I wrote a few poems when I was in Basic Training. But that whole time period really took a lot out of me. We had a little girl on the way and the doctor said, well, first... they saw on the ultrasound a dark spot?

There was an enlarged area in her kidneys.

So, why don't you tell that side of the story since I was away in Basic.

It was just during the routine ultrasound and I guess they kind of saw something. I got a phone call later that evening that she had been diagnosed with hydronephrosis. It just means that the middle of the kidney was enlarged and they thought it was filled with fluid. It could be something minor or it could be something very severe that required surgery and Brade was gone to Basic Training. So I had to tell him over the phone.

Yeah and it was really tough because we didn't have a lot of time and I had a million questions and I couldn't ask hardly any of them. It was really tough because I was so far away and I was cut off. I couldn't just call whenever we wanted to. 

That was a really hard time for me. I got pneumonia in Basic and carried it for four to five weeks because I didn't want to flunk out or get washed back or miss any of my training because if I missed any of my training cycles because I might have to wait until the next training class of people came through.That isn't a bit deal in Basic, but when you go to your tech school that next block could be like three months, whenever they have enough people to fill their quotas. And Tara was due like a month after I was supposed to get out of training, so that would give us enough time to get my orders and figure out what we were doing.

So with all that stress, I just kept pushing it and pushing it and pushing it. This included everything with the military normally.

Even beyond then, you weren't very creatively driven during your time in the military.

Yeah, but I'm just saying from that time period, running and everything with pneumonia. We had to run like five miles, we had to run three miles a couple times a week.. I can't even remember, it's been so long now. But by the time I finally collapsed after taking the first block test and getting a 96%, they took me to the emergency room. And I remember I was so hot and I hadn't eaten for days. It was all I could do to sip down some liquids and what-not.

It was interesting, they got me a cab. It was at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and they drove me from the school house for our tech school to the hospital. I must have looked like death, I don't know, the base taxi driver took one look at me and cranked up the AC all the way and turned all the vents toward me. By the time we got to the hospital I was feeling good, which was bad.

Here I was thinking... they told ya, if you're trying to fake being sick, don't think you're going to get away with it because a million people before you have tried before you. And here I am at the emergency room and I'm feeling great after feeling like crap for weeks, so... yeah... I was like, okay, I gotta act sick. So I tried to act sick, but then they took my temperature and it was at 104 degrees. And then they took X-rays and my lungs were substantially filled with water, or liquid. So I had pretty bad pneumonia and I had to convince them not to keep me in the hospital because I didn't want to miss the next training block that was starting on Monday, and this was on Friday. 

But yeah, that whole time period took a lot out of me and then my focus became doing well in the military, as best I could, so writing really just fell off to the side. But I still wanted to write.

You would still talk about it sometimes.

We would go to Barnes & Noble and I would buy a new notebook and write in a few pages.

Yeah, you did gather a lot of notebooks during those years.

I subscribed to The Writer Magazine and I'd get Writers Digest every now and then. That's when I amassed a lot of the books on writing that I have. I've spent so much money on writing and really I should have just been writing.

What would you say that writing means to you now?

I think that I've learned a lot of lessons over time and I'm learning more of what goes into a story to make it work. And it isn't necessarily the punctuation things I was getting hung up on before. Because really, learning how to edit and doing an editing pass and then getting outside input can help resolve those issues. 

It's the story part. Even a poorly written book, grammatically speaking, can do very well if it's got a great story. And people will keep reading even though the writing, itself, isn't that great. Which just boggled my mind with as a reader. And maybe it's because the books I fell in love with seemed to be written very well. But over the years I've read books and thought, this is crap! How did this get past an editor? How is this a best seller, because here's an error, here's an error, and here's an error... and over years I just became more and more and more critical of these books. 

I would tell you a book that I liked and then you would start reading it and you couldn't even get through a bit of it. You would say, "How do you like this? It's so awful this way and that way." And I just stopped telling him about books I liked because he would just knock on them.

It was really... a lot of that was probably an external manifestation of my insecurities as a writer on the inside, I would hyper-analyze. Because I wanted to be, and I still want to be, the best writer I can be. To see these errors and mistakes, all the books I had said "don't do this..." and there's thins book that's a best-seller that my wife loved and it does all the things the books I had bought said don't do... It... just... arrrgh.. it was so hard.

It's like I would tell you, they told a good story.

Yep, so that's one thing I've really learned, not just to make the writing as beautiful as I can (but not too wordy for some of the readers) and then encapsulate what really boils down to a great story. And that's a lot harder than it seems because you have to build a story so it's good.

You can't just say, why did the story cross the road? I mean, there could be a great story in there, but it's the difference between just telling someone something and the art of story craft. Right? So I'm learning a lot more about what writing is. Writing is about storytelling and it's not just the words you choose to use, but it's also the point that you're trying to get across and how you can strum the emotions of the reader with a good story. We're all kind of programmed to speak the language of storytelling. 

But I've also learned that writing is hard work sometimes and that's a big difference between when I started out and where I am now. I'm learning to push through the resistance I have. 

Because for somebody who's thought about writing and dedicated a lot of their mind space toward writing for a very, very long time, I'm a horrible writer. I mean I think I can write well, but I don't do it regularly in a lot of cases. It's really about hard work for me. I know I have to overcome so much to get the story out. There are so many days when I can say, "Uuuuuhng, I'm tired," "My head hurts," "I'm feeling sad." There's a lot of excuses and if I really want to be a writer I've got to learn how to reprogram myself. 

I can really enjoy writing, then the next day I HATE what I wrote, but then if I put it away and I read it a couple weeks later after I forget the whole process, I'm like, "Hey, that's not that bad." There's this emotional rollercoaster from like in the moment, "Oh, I love this! It's so great." And then, "Aww, I hate it, it's so horrible!" To the point where I'm having nightmares.

There are sometimes I wonder why you like it. Because you both love and hate writing from one moment to the next.

Another thing I've learned, what writing means to me now is that writing is not cool new gadgets.

You mean still, still learning?

Hey, I've held off! I've held off for the most part.

That doesn't stop you from looking at them all the time. "This would be good for writing, this would be good..."

But it would! It would make the process so much simpler, until my technical brain... because I mean, I'm an IT Specialist by day so my whole thing is like figuring out computers and problems and setting up servers and programs and applications and whatever. So, whenever I get a.. it's the funniest thing... this, analyzing myself on this whole process. I get a new piece of technology like a tablet or a Surface Pro and I spend the next two weeks getting it set up perfect and that's two weeks of not writing. 

In some ways, they are your new notebooks. Although, you still get notebooks!

You just can't beat a good looking notebook and a nice pen that flows well when you write and doesn't smear.

Yeah, you are a pen snob.

Mmmm, yeah. 

So, where do you see your writing five years from now?

Well, I would like to be writing full-time. 

So, I've worked really, really hard to get to where I'm at career-wise. It was a lot of time spent going to school and taking on tough, challenging jobs, but at no point in my career or my life, did I stop working to go to school. So whenever I've gone to school it was full-time work and full-time school and then spending time with you and the kids.

And it's been tough.


So, on one hand, I don't want to walk away from that, but on the other hand, I'm kind of burnt out. I want to write stories. I want to tell stories. I love telling stories.

Now, I would say you're good at your job. It's just not a passion for you anymore.

And, especially with some of the stuff I deal with after being in the military, I have days when it's really tough to do what I do and it takes a lot out of you. And those are the days when I come home and I say, "Yeah, if I were feeling better, today would be a good day to write. But my brain is just shot." 

I'm learning to overcome those because I know I have to overcome them if that's something that I want to end up doing.

And those are the days, when you overcome, you feel best about.


Are you in-line right now with where you want to be in five years?

Like effort-wise?

Yeah, with what you're doing.

Yes and no. So, I have productive days and I have not-so-productive days. But Chlorophyllium 9 and Final Hope, like that two-part story with the novella and the novel, this is the farthest I've ever got on a single project.

By quite a lot.

Yeah. I usually get really excited and there are different pitfalls I have. Like sometimes I tell you and it lets all the excitement out of what I'm wanted to do. I'm learning to do that better, though. And there's, like, I think the idea I had is stupid and I let those bad days overcome the good days and I let things go. But I'm really learning how to put a lot more effort into it and overcome.

I would say that Chlorophyllium 9 and Final Hope are on track for being finished hopefully in October, maybe I'll give it a push back into November, but I don't want it going further than that. If I just have to sit down and crank out the words and come up with a horrible first draft just to get it done and then go back and slaughter it in editing, then that's what I'll have to do.

Even though I've never seen you write a horrible first draft. You self-edit too much.

I do. That's the biggest thing for me, is learning how to streamline my process. I spend way too much time trying to find the right words when I'm writing. It goes back to not comparing yourself to other writers, and I have to respect some of my own process, but if I can learn how to do things better, that would be really good.

I've also released COMA: The Cataclysm, the first chapter on my blog. You've read the first chapter. 


Do you remember that story?

I do. I remember from when it was originally done.

So, if there's enough interest, I will continue that. I'll just post a chapter at a time and I think spreading it out like that and only doing it if there's interest really helps free me from trying to do too much at once.

It kind of goes back to something I did this last week. I was a part of a multi-author project. We each wrote a chapter to complete a novel and all you really had, there was no preplanning, we just had the chapter that came before ours. Mine was the second chapter and I wrote almost two thousand words in one evening and that was after a long day in the office and driving home from Dallas. 

I was pretty beat, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to do it. But I had a 48-hour deadline and I ended up meeting it. And I thought I did pretty good.

I enjoyed it.

So, I think this is something I can do with COMA. And I really like seeing that old story kind of coming forward and getting some closure on that one. Because I think that one was actually a pretty good premise.

So to answer your question, if I keep working really hard and I keep learning how to write better stories, then I do think that within five years I could seriously consider whether we want to just rely on my income as a writer rather than as an IT guy.


So that's where I am. That's what writing means to me, as of this week anyway.

I think that's good.

Okay. Well, I guess I'll give them their writing prompts.

Sounds like a plan.

Okay, stay tuned. You have this little intro and then you have seven writing prompts for the week.

And now, for this week's writing prompts!

What you'll find below is a series of creative writing prompts to help get you through your week. There are no rules as to how you should use them, but I recommend taking your muse's hand; wherever she may lead you.

Whether you find yourself writing a descriptive scene or dialogue, a poem or prose, or anything else (even if it seems entirely unrelated to the prompt), you have won. Happy writing, and may you find success in hunting your muse this week. 

1. Unknown City

A team of scientists have unearthed several rare artifacts from a construction site in a well-populated city. The discovery has all-but halted normal life in the area as experts from around the world flock to examine the unexpected discovery. 
All evidence seems to indicate the presence of a very prosperous civilization that existed tens of thousands of years ago in this location. The people of this era appear to be very advanced, using technology we can’t fully understand. This is all in direct conflict with everything we thought we knew. 
There are so many questions raised about the discovery. How did this civilization come into existence, where did they go, and what practical applications can we find for their strange devices?

2. The Inside Job

You’ve just discovered that someone very close to you might be a clandestine agent of unknown origin. You have no idea who they’re working for or what their objective is, but one thing is clear; they are not the person you thought they were. 
As tensions rise, you try to find out anything you can, all while pretending to be as oblivious and trusting as ever. What are they after? Why go to such lengths to get close to you?

3. The Reversal

People aren’t always who they appear to be. You’ve worked hard through the years and managed to amass a small fortune. Since you grew up in a disadvantaged situation, you always try to give back to the community and create opportunities for others to succeed. This means you can usually be seen out volunteering, and you save the fancy duds for special occasions. 
This has led to some very interesting misunderstandings, but today takes the cake. You’re running a little late on your way to the office after volunteering with a housing improvement project, when one of the candidates for a special fast-track program you just established literally runs into you on the street on their way to a one-on-one interview with… you. 
You’ve read their file and watched their application submission video, but the person yelling profanities and admonishments bears nothing more than a physical resemblance to the candidate you were sure you were going to pick. 
Deciding to allow things to play out, you apologize to them for being in their way and then slowly make your way to your building, stopping in a spare office to change into your business attire before walking in and calling them into a conference room.

4. Creature Comforts

While on a solo vacation adventure, you decide to pay for a cheaper seat on a returning flight of a small charter plane instead of booking a seat on the normal airlines. When you board the plane, you’re taken aback by the luxury that surrounds you.  
Halfway through the leg; however, the small plane experiences a mechanical failure and the flight is diverted. 
The owner of the plane insists on compensating you for the inconvenience and puts you up in a five-star hotel while the parts for the plane are ordered and installed. This strange glimpse into a different world soon affords you with unexpected opportunities and you can’t help but think that this is a life you could get used to.

5. Just a Little Bit Longer

Something is out there. You don’t know what it is or where it came from, but one thing is for sure. Where it goes, death follows. You’ve been on the run, dashing blindly through the dense overgrowth, for what seems like ages. The only thing you know for certain is that this creature, whatever it is, doesn’t like sunlight. With the first hints of dawn peeking over the tips of the mountains, you know you’ll be safe if you can somehow manage to stay one step ahead until the sun emerges in the east. But then you hear it somewhere close behind you. 
Without a second to spare, you don’t dare look back. Up ahead you see a small cave opening. If you can manage to squirm inside, you might have a chance. You just have to hold out just a little bit longer.

6. Community Survival

In the aftermath of a terrible disaster, a community must overcome isolation and a lack of supplies to rebuild. Together, they work hand in hand. Strangers who largely ignored each other before the event now challenge their vast differences in order to survive. 
There are many things once taken for granted that are now in high demand and your diverse character ensemble must figure out how they will cope until outside help arrives. 
How will your characters handle outside threats to their small community? What happens if new parties arrive and old bonds begin to unravel the cohesiveness the group has worked so hard to form?

7. The Super-Secret Admirer

It all started a couple days ago when you found a long-stem rose tucked under the windshield wiper blade of your car. There wasn’t a note and, as far as you can tell, there wasn’t a special occasion to celebrate. Another rose showed up on your doorstep the following evening. And now there’s an entire bouquet sitting at your desk. 
No one seems to know who they came from or why. Try as you might, you can’t think of anyone who would have a reason to shower you with gifts like this. Is this the beginning of something special, or are these strange gifts a small precursor to something darker than love?

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode and creative writing prompts.

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