Friday, July 24, 2015

My NanoWriMo Novel Open: 700 Words

Here is a the beginning of my novel for National Novel Writing Month of 2014. It's about a writer trying to concentrate while dealing with noisy neighbors....who may have to die for his art to flourish. Should I continue with it? Tell me in the comments section. It will be divided into Days like a diary.

Day 1

It took me eight goddamn months to get the courage to write my first novel. All that time I wasted away in my car, or in my bedroom, or on the couch, pecking away at that old NEC Mobile Pro 790 unit I purchased on ebay way back in, oh, 1998? I got it because I hate the idea of sitting at this damn console, this monstrosity. How can you get creative on a work computer?

So I typed away, or at least tried to type away, on those tiny keys on that tiny device that looked so cute and compact and portable and all, but, fuck. It's too damn hard to type on. Sure it has great features, like instant on, tap screen, and that mini version of Windows known as Windows CE or Windows Lite or some shit like that. That's all you need, really. If it can save characters, allow you to italicize and bold and indent, then that's all you need. That's all I need, at least. And the screen just glows at night, making it so inviting to type my masterpiece in the mystery of darkness.

The truth: the damn keys are too small, and my mind, my goddamn mind, moves faster than I can type. I peck away, and I'm a good pecker, I have a good pecker, oh, that was uncalled for, but, you see, this is sorta how I got myself to this point. I started typing stupid stuff. Every time I got a hold of that terrific little thing, I wrote shit about what was going on in my head. I made it my diary. And how sad it is that part of my daily entries were how scared I was to type on that damn thing because my mind moves faster than I can type. I want it to flow...and it does my mind, at least. But my nimble fingers would accidentally hit the caps lock AND THEN EVERYTHING I TYPED HAD TO BE RETYPED AGAIN.

So I switched to the Dana. Oh, you've never heard of the Dana? Also a remnant of the '90s, it's this one-piece blue plastic thing that has a battery life of like twenty days and a full-size keyboard. That was the attraction there. That was what I needed. I needed a full-sizer. Then I could sit in my car, or on the couch, or on my bed, and type my masterpiece.

But the fuckin' thing has a screen about half the height of my middle finger. About fives lines at a time is all it'll show. But that's fine, really. Except the damn backlight is so weak and it's that '90s green color. Who can type on a screen with a green backlight? And if I used it during the day, you had to angle it just right so you can actually see the light-black text. Lovely keyboard, fucking awful screen. Another $200 wasted.

So shit. My main console is actually the best for writing. I mean, I can prop my legs over the left side of the desk—the one I purchased twenty years ago in 1984 after college—and slouch my butt down in the chair so my hands hit the keyboard at the optimal angle. And that's perfect. Perfect, except, I'm sitting where I don't want to be sitting to be creative. GOD, how I hate that. But, it will have to do. Because I refuse to have my fingers ttripp up on those other keyboards, or have to squint my eyes to see what I've written.

So today, I begin my novel. My masterpiece. And just three minutes in I'm reminded why I hate sitting at my desk in my home.

"Papi! Papi!" Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

My neighbors and their bratty kids. It's starting again. That pounding and screaming and pounding and running and screaming and fucking non-stop noise that makes me want to...want to...

Well, this day is shot. Can't do it with all that noise. And I really can't pick up my HP tower and take it with me to my car, or my couch, or my bedroom.

Maybe it's a sign. That I shouldn't be writing a novel anyway.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Write By The Rails Authors Build First Little Free Library

Authors craft words together. Today, several authors from Write By The Rails, the Prince William County chapter of the Virginia Writers Group, became craftsmen (and women) of a different sort by constructing one of several Little Free Library boxes to be placed throughout the area. Spearheaded by children's book author Belinda Miller, these cases will allow readers young and old to freely take out and add books for the enjoyment of the community.

First little library awaiting a door, paint, and fabulous embellishments.
A first prototype was constructed in just a few hours using donated recycled materials. Authors Dan Verner and Nick Kelly repurposed a few shelving panels and a solid birch top to create one of the now five designated libraries. We are still in need of more wood, hinges, knobs, and plexiglas, so if you have these supplies and would like to donate, email Belinda at

Here are some pictures from today's event:

This shell will be transformed into something amazing.

The cheering section and nail sorters.

A donated cabinet to be converted into an indoor free library.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ushering Myself Ahead: Flip Phone to Smartphone

This is it. Make or break. The time has come. The time has long come.

In ten days I will switch over from my handy, hard-to-break flip phone to my new Android-based smartphone. I've held back for two reasons: my monthly plan with increase from $30 to $45, and I've been reluctant to fall into the generation of "eyes glued to portable screens."

Albeit, I've had an Android tablet for over three years now, but that never leaves the house. So I don't check Facebook or Twitter or anything when I'm away, just an occasional voice or text message. However, I find it necessary for me to upgrade so I can accept credit card payments with the Square app and attachment. You need Android 2.3 or greater and, unfortunately, my tablet bottomed out at Android 2.2.1. That was the last and final firmware upgrade.

So I am here to make a pledge on what I will and will not do with my smartphone. I hope you do the same.

1. I will never operate the phone while driving.

2. I will never have my phone "on" to check Facebook flags or Tweets or incoming calls when I am with people. I will reserve that for quiet times alone, like in a parked car after scarfing down a burger.

3. I WILL use the phone to take better photos of things I may miss when I do not have my professional Lumix camera handy. There are times when the flip phone's low-resolution camera just doesn't cut it.

4. I WILL use Instagram, as I hear that's gaining popularity among authors and readers...even more so than Twitter. Plus, it will be nice to shoot photos directly into apps when I'm in the woods or at an event. The immediacy is appealing.

In my "Cell Phonies" short story within People Who Need To Die, overly obnoxious smartphone users meet their bitter end in 2021. So I have less than six years to set a good example. 'Cause, it's gonna happen. And I don't want to end up like these people. Wish me luck!

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