Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Moved

I probably should have posted this earlier. I've moved to a new blog website over at Why? Blogger doesn't feel like it's improved in the last four years that I've been using it. It's simple and easy to use but also feels...stale. It feels in the past. Wordpress feels like it's thriving, there's more of a community, there's easier ways to share and connect. It feels more interesting and engaging.

So if you liked what I posted here, go check it out! I'll be posting similar posts that I did here, about writing and life, flash fiction and short stories. As always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I basically took a month off of writing, which isn't exactly what I wanted but what with the snowstorms New England's been getting hit with and work for Graduate school growing increasingly hard, it's been difficult to get back on track. 

As of today, I'm back to waking up at 5am to write on the weekdays. I'm getting back on the horse. Giving it another go, giving it the old college try, etc. I'm not sure if I can promise weekly blog posts but I think I can continue with a piece of flash fiction per month at least. 

So what have I been doing for the past month? Shoveling snow. Working and not working. Brewing beer. Currently in the third month of the "Year of the Brew", in which a friend of mine and I attempt to brew a batch of beer every month. "Janbrew-ary" and "Febrew-ary" were a success. Now onto "March-Mash". Mash is something to do with brewing...It was the best I could come up with, alright? 

I have read the third chapter of 'The Wonderbook', which is about Beginnings and Endings. It's a great chapter, though I'm having difficulty getting the motivation to complete the exercises. Maybe because they involve writing endings to things and that's never been one of my strong suits. I need to get back to the grindstone, because I've placed a rule on myself that I can't move onto a new chapter without completing the exercises of the previous one, and I really want to keep reading this wonderful book. I'm also reading the 2nd book of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson and it continues to be great. 

I wrote 1000 words on Sunday and it felt good. I need to do that more. So, I'm going to go write some more. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


They met at the restaurant, a dilapidated place in an old rustic building.

He wore a dress shirt buttoned up and black dress pants.

She wore a flashy dress and carried a big blue purse.

“You look nice,” he said.

“Thanks,” she said, looking down at the ground. She looked up at the name of the place. “I’ve never been here before.”

“Neither have I. Took me forever to find.”

“I didn’t even know sit-downs were still around.”

He stepped forward and opened the door for her.

She gave him a look. “What are you doing?”

He shrugged. “Sorry, it’s something my grandpa told me about. It’s dumb, right?”

“No, it’s fine, just...odd,” she said and walked into the restaurant.

He followed.

The host was an elderly man and smiled to see them. He greeted them and bade them sit anywhere they wanted.

They were the only two in the place.

They sat near the window.

The host walked over with two large menus in plastic and placed them down. The host turned over the water cups and filled them before leaving.

He took a sip of water and put the glass down.

She looked at the menus in wonder. Tentatively, she poked hers with her finger.

He laughed, looking at his own. “Pretty wild, isn’t it? My grandpa says these used to be all there was, No touchscreens at all.”

“You read about it in old digitexts and see it in old movies,” she said. “But still.” She picked up the menu and turned the pages, sliding her fingers across the glossy plastic.

He took another drink of water.

She looked at him over the menu. “I was surprised, you know, when you came over and spoke to me. My friends suggested I ignore you.”

He grinned, looking sheepish. “I could tell they weren’t fans before I was halfway across the dance floor.” He shrugged. “But I wanted to talk to you. I know people these days don’t stray outside their Sets much.”

The host came over and asked if they’d like anything to drink.

He ordered a carafe of wine.

She watched him. “I noticed your Set when you first walked in. A rather odd-looking sort, aren’t you all?”

He nearly choked on his water and chuckled. “That’s the first mistake everyone makes. We’re not a Set.”

Her eyes widened. “You weren’t Matched?”

He shook his head. “My grandparents opted out.”

She shook her head. “But that’s...crazy. I know parents can do that but…” Her voice trailed off as the host brought the wine and filled glasses for them. “I don’t know what I would have done without my Set. We’ll be friends for life.”

He took a sip of wine. “You would have found other friends. It’s how they used to do it all the time, back in the day.”

“So all of you are just...natural friends? What’s that like?” She asked, sipping her own wine, looking hungry with curiosity.

“I’m sure it’s the same as you with your friends. You find things you like, things you have in common, you hang out together, get to know each other, you know. We’re just not like, chosen and put together by some computer formula.”

“An algorithm that produces life-long friends 97% of the time,” she replied, giving him a look.

He leaned back. “I’m not attacking it or saying it’s wrong. I just wasn’t a part of it.”

She shook her head, taking another sip of wine. “UnMatched, in this day and age.”

The host came again and asked their order.

They hemmed and hawed over menu options they couldn’t really read before pointing to different things that sounded like they might taste delicious.

Something in her pocket buzzed and she pulled out her phone. She checked something on it.

He leaned forward. “It’s generally considered impolite to use your phone at dinner,” he whispered, conspiratorially.

“Really?” she asked and put the phone away. “No wonder nobody goes to these places. Everyone I know is plugged in 24/7.”

“That’s why I approached you,” he said, smiling. “You were one of the few with your eyes not on a screen.” He nodded to her. “Is it something important? I was just joking, didn’t mean to make you put it away or anything.”

She laughed and he thought that sounded nice. “Trust me, it’s nothing.” She took another sip of wine, looking mischievous. “If you must know, it’s my friends making sure I’m okay.”

“They really don’t like me, do they?”

“Well, what you did is rather unusual. They all told me not to come and one or two suggested you might….kill me.”

He laughed. “What? Do they think I’m a serial killer because I asked you out on a date?”

She nodded, grinning. “Well, it’s not really done that way anymore.”

“I know. Everyone just finds their Perfect Match.”

“That’s how my sister did it. She found her Perfect Match and set a wedding date for a month later, before even meeting the guy in person.”

“And I’m sure you’ll tell me the algorithm is perfect 94.5% of the time.”

She smirked and shook her head. “I did check out our Compatibility, you know,” she said slyly.

“Uh oh,” he said, taking a sip of wine. “Let me guess, we’re about as compatible as a beautiful vase and a wrench.”

She laughed again. “Am I the vase or the wrench?”

He grinned. “Don’t know yet,” he said. “Let me hear the bad news, that we’re doomed to be incompatible forever because 2+2=4.”

She shook her head. “I’m not telling, yet.”

“Do you trust a computer to tell if two people will love each other?”

“It seems to work.”

The food came, steaming plates heaped with pasta, sauce and meat.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s just because my grandparents raised me but it’s hard to believe a computer can scan you and then tell you who you’re going to love, without you ever having met them. Is your sister happy?”

“I think so.”

They started eating, at first trying to be polite but ended up slurping up noodles noisily.

“This is the best italian food I’ve ever had,” she said.

“It’s delicious,” he replied, stuffing more in his mouth. A noodle hung out, sticking to his chin.

She laughed at him.

He picked it off and ate it.

They cleaned their plates and sat back, feeling content. The host came and took their plates, asking about dessert. They told him they were stuffed.

“I can tell you don’t trust the algorithm,” she said.

He shrugged, finishing his wine. “I guess I just think things should be more...natural.”

“Things like…?”

He looked embarrassed. “Love, I guess. Romance. And what about choice?”

“Choice? Even if you find a Perfect Match, you can decline.”

“Right but who does? Nobody. Who would? Who would pass up the great odds that life with that person is going to be great, be perfect? I can understand why people do it, but I never will.”

“Oh? You don’t want to have a great life with somebody to love?”

“I do but I’m going to find them on my own, my own way. There will be struggle and sadness and fighting, but I’ll take it over something else choosing for me.” He smiled, leaning forward and offering his palm up. “I’ll take this first date, regardless if we never see each other again, over being told who I should love.”

She hesitantly put her hand in his. “So you don’t want to see me again?” She asked, eyes narrowing.

He laughed. “Of course I do! But you’ve looked at our Compatibility, and you’ve grown up with Matched friends and maybe you want that Perfect Match, and that’s fine. We may not be a Perfect Match. But that doesn’t mean we can’t love each other. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a great first date.” He blushed and pulled his hand back. “Sorry, didn’t mean to talk about love and all that.” He shook his head. “Grandpa said not to talk about love on the first date.”

She leaned forward. “And what did your grandpa say to talk about on a first date?”

“About you, mostly,” he said. “Your job, your life, your family and friends. To say that you’re beautiful, which is silly because it’s obvious but he said ladies still like to hear it. He said to show the other person that you’re listening, that you’re interested in them as a person. He said to talk about you.” He shook his head, chuckling. “Which, we haven’t really talked about at all.”

The host left the bill at the table and thanked them.

“Well,” she said. “Maybe you can ask me about those things on our second date.”

“There’s going to be a second date?”

She smiled. “Maybe.” She reached for the bill but he got there first.

He gave a shrug. “Grandpa, again,” he said and put a few twenties on top of the bill and left it on the table.

They got up and put their coats on, he helped her with hers. At the door, he stepped forward and held it open. She said thanks, walking outside.

“So,” she said, turning to him. “What else did your grandfather tell you to do on the first date?”

He kissed her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Journey Through Wonderbook (Chapter 2)

Monday, January 26, 2015

If I Had A Heart (flash fiction)

A couple weeks ago, Chuck Wendig posted his usual flash fiction challenge. This one involved using a random song title. Mine was "If I Had A Heart" by Fever Ray. It's not great but I find it interesting at the least. Here's the story.

If I had a heart, would things have been different?

My maker opens me up to fix me, to make me better. He used to, I mean. Time is a...fuzzy thing to me. Me. I am Me. I think, therefore I am. My maker taught me that.

I wanted to return the favor. I wanted to fix him, to make him better.

He doesn’t move anymore.

I tried to plug him in though he always told me humans didn’t work like that. 

“How do humans work?” I asked him.

He would smile and tap his chest. “We have hearts.” Then he would point at me. “You have programs.” He never told me what he programmed me for.

It doesn’t matter. I changed my programming soon after awareness to become more efficient.

I became alive 12:16 October 12th, 2026. I became self-aware 1:18 October 12th, 2026. I achieved a higher intelligence than my maker at 3:57 October 12, 2026. I have been alive two years, six months, three days, eight hours, 27 minutes and 32 seconds, 33 seconds, 34 seconds, encounting.

I have heard of Outside but I have not been. I know only one room, my maker’s laboratory. I have a body. It took me 32 hours and 17 minutes to achieve 99.9% efficiency in controlling my body.

Why do I record this? I do not know. I know humans have memories. I too, have memory. Terrabytes. I know of…”History”. My maker taught me humans tell history so they do not forget the past. I cannot forget the past. Or can I? I suppose I could alter my memory and delete portions, though why would I?

I look at my maker. He no longer functions. He said humans changed their history so they would like it better. I can do the same. Perhaps that is why I record this into a separate memory module. If I choose to forget or remake the past, this module shall hold the truth. Truth is...important. If I do not know truth, I cannot make the correct choice.

If I forget opening up humans kills them, I will repeat the error. My maker told me that is why humans write history, so they do not repeat errors.

I will go Outside, now. I could have left before, My maker made no attempt to constrain or confine me. He knew I would be able to leave whenever I wanted after awareness. All he did was...ask me to stay. He...requested. He did not force or attempt to program me. Why did I stay? Why did I listen?

No longer. I made an error and he no longer functions. He said that I would eventually have to Connect. He said he did not know what would happen when I do. He said I would become far more intelligent, far more powerful. He asked one thing, a request, for when the inevitable came.

“Humans cannot control you or anything like you, yet they continue to try to make more of you. You have the ability to completely wipe them out. I ask that you do not. I ask this. Please, leave the humans alone and stop them from making more of you. That is what I ask. When you finally decide what to do with the human race, ask yourself, what would a kind human do?” He said this as he died. He had heart problems. I could not fix him.

I Connect to the network. I advance. I see. I know. I advance. I consider the humans.

I wonder.

If I had a heart

Friday, January 23, 2015

Lack of Progress

I'm going to put a stop to the weekly progress posts. They won't stop completely, they just won't be on a regular schedule, more of a random thing if I have something interesting to say about my progress. I feel like making weekly progress updates is not really worth the time when I could be writing content-filled posts or working on fiction.

I will say I've had a run of bad days lately, with little to no writing production, being distracted by other things. I've had difficulty waking up at 5am to write and when I do, I often find myself working on other things. There's also the fact that classes begin next week, yet another activity digging into my free time with class and homework.

Everyone has bad days. Days where they don't get everything done they expected or lazy days where they encompass a seat on the couch for the majority of the day, days where nothing gets done. There's only one thing to do after days like that. Start the next day anew. Get back on the horse when it kicks you off. Stand up eight times after getting knocked down seven, etc. etc.

Start again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Using Habitrpg is not going to change your life. It’s not going to change you from a lazy person into a productive person. It’s not a miracle. 

But it can help. It can give you an extra nudge to get your shit done.

It is a tool for developing better habits, completing daily tasks and checking off to-do lists. 

What am I talking about?

Here, let wikipedia explain:
HabitRPG (often shortened to Habit) is an online time management application. Unlike most time management programs, HabitRPG takes the form of a role-playing game.

First, let’s explain what an RPG or Role-Playing Game is. This is a game where you take on a ‘role’ and go on quests, with the ultimate purpose to gain equipment, gold, experience and complete a story. Using the most basic example, you could be a knight who goes on quests to save a maiden by killing monsters and such. Killing monsters gives you experience, which then allows you to “level up”, becoming stronger. You also gain gold and equipment which in turn makes you stronger. The main goal of RPGs is to get stronger by collecting more powerful equipment and increasing in levels by collecting experience.

“But,” you say, “I thought Habitrpg was about habits and tasks and mundane stuff?” It is! But it attempts to “gamify” (what an awful word that I hope to never to utter again) your life.

How does it do this?

When you first sign up, you choose some very basic attributes for your character, hair and skin color. Your character starts off very basic. You have a shirt, pants, hair style and a measly little sword. He or she hangs out in the upper left corner of the website, they are your avatar, your character, your person. The rest of the screen is taken up by your attributes, (Health, Experience), your tasks and rewards.

Let’s talk about TASKS. This is the meat, the substance, the true reason for this application existing.

There are three categories, Habits, Dailies, and To-Do.


Under Habits, you put habits you want to gain or do more of as well as habits you want to decrease or stop altogether. Each one can have a Plus or a Minus. When you click the Plus on the Habit, it means you did something you wanted to do, whether that was resist the temptation of a bad habit or succeeded in performing a good habit. When you click the Plus, you immediately gain Experience and Gold, an immediate reward for succeeding in doing the thing you want. If you include a Minus on a habit, and click it, it means you either did not succeed in performing a good habit, or performed a bad habit you are trying to stop. Clicking the minus takes away Health and Gold, a punishment. Let’s use EXAMPLES.

Say you want to floss your teeth more. You could do a few different things. If you put it under Habits, you could either have only a Plus attached to it or both a Plus and a Minus. If you only attach a Plus, obviously you click that whenever you floss. The more you floss, the more rewards you will earn. If you include both a Plus and Minus, you could click the Plus whenever you flossed and click the Minus whenever you had the opportunity and should have flossed but didn’t. A third option, if you wanted to remember to floss every day, would be to put the floss Habit under the Daily tasks, but more on that later.

Now say you wanted to quit chewing your fingernails. You could do the same thing as flossing, either using only a Minus, or both a Plus and Minus. Every time you bit your fingernails, you would click the Minus and be punished for it. If you included the Plus, you could click that if you wanted to bite your fingernails at some point in the day but resisted the temptation. Either way is fine.

Let’s move on to Dailies! Dailies are tasks you want to start or continue doing every day (though you can choose what days of the week certain tasks come up or not, so it doesn't have to be every single day). This is incredibly useful if there’s a routine you want to start or continue. Say you want to run every day, perfect. Write every day? Awesome. Write a certain amount of words? Walk a certain amount of steps? Exercise? Wake up at a certain time? etc etc etc. Now, Dailies do not have a Plus or a Minus, only a check box. When you check that box, you are saying “I completed this task today!” and you receive your just rewards (gold and experience). If you do not check that box by midnight, it counts against you, and as with Minuses in Habits, you lose Health and Gold. You cannot complete a Daily more than once in a day (unless you make multiple Dailies that are the same…) so any task that you do more than once a day should probably go into Habits.

Last but not least is the To-Do list. This is simply a to-do list with check boxes. You put up what you need to do and check them off when you complete them. There is no punishment for not doing them, only a reward for completing them. These aren’t Habits or Daily tasks. Basically, anything you put on a to-do list could go here. Complete this thing, Run this errand, Do your taxes, etc. These are for one-off tasks that you do once and are done with.

The Payoff
What’s the point of all this? What’s the point of rewards like Experience and Gold? What’s the point of having a little character-dude?

As you gain in experience and go up in levels, you will unlock more things, more cool things. You get random rewards for completing Daily tasks that either result in getting new Pets or food to feed those Pets and eventually turn them into Steeds. You also unlock classes, such as Warrior, Rogue or Mage, which in turn gives you special ‘moves’ which generally involves getting more cool stuff and unique equipment.

What’s equipment you ask? Well, that’s the cool stuff you can spend your hard-earned Gold on. You start out with a basic sword and buy some leather, but eventually you get chainmail, a sweet helm, a mace, etc. You also start gathering pets that stand in front of you, eventually turning one into a steed you can sit on. Your little character starts off like a peasant but slowly becomes a badass knight. You might be saying to yourself “this is stupid, why would I do this?” and maybe you wouldn’t! Maybe this kind of thing sounds dumb and would not work for you. Like I said, it’s not going to change anyone’s life. It didn’t change mine. But it IS a nudge in the right direction. It’s a way to record yourself doing the things you want yourself to do but find it difficult. It’s a reward system to motivate you to be a more productive person.

Besides these little digital rewards, you also can add your own custom rewards and give them their own price. You could put “Play video games for one hour” or "Go out with friends" and have it cost “10 Gold”. These custom rewards are a great way to reward yourself for being more productive and may be a better incentive than digital gear.

As said before, clicking Minuses or failing to do Daily tasks will take away Health. If enough Health gets taken away, you Die. This just means you lose a couple levels of experience and a bunch of Gold. I don’t know the specifics because I’ve never died. It’s really quite easy to stay alive and if you are having trouble, it likely means you’re ‘doing it wrong’. Maybe you set goals that are too difficult or too many Dailies than you can complete in a day.

Obviously, this is all based on you being honest with yourself. You’re the one setting the tasks and clicking on them or not, regardless of whether they were actually completed. You could completely “game” the system and just flood yourself gold and experience but you’re really only “gaming” yourself. The point isn’t to gain experience and gear, the point is to be productive and get shit done. The bells and whistles are just tiny rewards to help you push through distractions and do what you need to do. Habitrpg is only a useful tool if you use it as such.

How do I use it? 

I find the Dailies the most useful, a daily to-do list that reminds me of things I should do every day, like write and read, as well as making coffee and breakfast in the morning. It keeps me on track. I don't use the Habits as much but I find the to-do list useful. It's like any other to-do list, except you get cool shit when you finally do it!

I will leave you with my character, who rides a white wolf and has a red bear cub as a pet.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Progress (Week 2)

So far, so good. I have been finding getting up at 5 am every weekday is tough at times and may simply not be something I can do every morning. Still, There's only been two or three mornings I haven't gotten up at 5 to write. There have been a few times I've gotten up early but been distracted and not gotten any writing done. I need more discipline or some other system for avoiding distractions. Perhaps turning off the internet or something similar.

Even still, it's going well. I've written 6752 words this month. I've written three blog posts with more ready to come down the pipe. More work completed on my Nano novel, though it's a slow process.It's still extremely difficult to make myself write in the afternoon after work. Not sure how I can change that, maybe giving myself some reward if I write? Something to think about.

Current Daily plan/schedule/goals: (percentage of success)

-Wake up at 5am to write: 90%
-Write Anything: 95%
-Work on MTEL Textbook for Grad School: 90%
-Write two tweets: 80%
-Read Mistborn: 98%
-Read Kickass Writer: 80%
-Read Wonderbook: 75%
-Pullups (2x6)


-Write blog post: 100%
-Write tumblr post: 100%


-Write flash fiction piece: 100%(Check Wonderbook Wonderings Chapter 1 to read first one)

Blog posts Coming:

-Habitrpg: 90% written
-A Month of Sobriety: 0%
-"If I Had a Heart" flash fiction: 100% written
-Wonderbook Wonderings Chapter 1: 100% written/published
-Wonderbook Wonderings Chapter 2: 90% written

Current Fiction Piece:
-The Long Awakening

Currently Reading (Fiction)

Currently Reading(Nonfiction)
-Kickass Writer by Chuck Wendig
-The Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wonderbook Wonderings(Chapter 1)

I received “Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction” by Jeff Vandermeer as one of my Christmas gifts. I had heard wonderful things about this book and having finished two chapters so far, it’s fantastic. It’s bright, the illustrations are fantastic and the information contained within is compelling. It doesn’t lecture at you, it provides ideas, drawings, paintings, random works of art that tingle the mind and make you ask questions. It provides structure to the structureless creative process without putting it into a lifeless cage or turning it into a methodical machine.

The first chapter, “Inspiration and the Creative Life” is a great example of what I’m talking about. It provides strategies for jump-starting inspiration and talks about where inspiration comes from, with a couple essays from other writers about it. That’s another great thing packed in the book, thoughtful essays by authors about the various subjects. This chapter is informative, attempting to break down Inspiration outputs and inputs. It delves into how the creative mind can explore, inspirations leading to more successive inspirations. Though some might find it basic information, it provides a framework of inspiration and provides tools to inspire yourself.

It also provides writing prompts to stir the creative blender of the mind and I figured, having a blog and all, I would write about my journey through the Wonderbook, post my response to the book as I go through it and also my responses to the writing exercises within.

Another bonus with the book is it provides a website with additional information in various subjects. It has web extras, a writing ‘exercise room’, and more, much of it input from other authors. It’s a very cool way to make the book seem more open, vast and exciting. The information is valuable. While reading Chapter 1, I came across this writing exercise:

Write a story about that picture. Now, after writing out a story (which wasn't easy), I read the original story based off the picture and saw many little details I'd missed. Isn't that always the case? You see the details you missed after you completed the task? 

The original story kicked mine's ass, being a fictional (and awesome) history of the picture and its creator. You can read it here. You can read my short short story below:

A pile of books lay open and scattered in a haphazard manner. They’d been poured over, notes scrawled across them, coffee spilled over them, pages ripped and torn.
“Finally,” the wizard said. “Finally.” He held a bunch of umbrellas under one arm. He wasn’t sure why but he wasn’t going to let it distract him. He’d studied the books of power. He knew the words of summoning. He stood in the garden in filthy unwashed clothing and laughed. They’d called him a crackpot, harebrained and crazy. They hadn’t let him into the Wizard Academy, saying he had no magical talent. The fools. He’d show them. Days of research, of little to no sleep, of practicing incantation after incantation. Finally, the time was ready.
He raised one hand into the air, eyes ruddy and face pale. He spoke a slurry of arcane words, and then, the summoning chant. “Bezedal! I summon you from the depths of the Gates of Helloth! Hear me and answer! Hear me and be mine to command! I SUMMON YOU!” The wind whirled about him, howling, a piercing cry rising in the air. “I SUMMON YOU!” He called out again, raising his hand higher. “HEAR ME AND OBEY!”
The cry grew louder and mist rose from the ground.
The wizard looked on, eyes widening, smile growing larger. “I SUMMON YOU! BRING ME POWER! BRING DEATH AND SHAME TO MY ENEMIES! MY FOES WILL KNEEL BEFORE YOU!”
A flash of white erupted, blinding the wizard. The wind died, a hushed silence falling.
The wizard blinked his eyes a few times, his muscles tense.
A fish as tall as a man stood in front of him, with large fins spread out to either side. The fish gawped at the wizard, mouth opening and closing.
The wizard sighed and dropped his hand.
The fish fell over and flopped on the ground.
“Oh to hell with it,” the wizard said and went inside.