Category Archives: Others Not Writing

Your Favorite Word Games

Do you ever dream of that perfect game night? When you and four of your closest writer friends sit down to play a game of Scrabble or Boggle or maybe Huggermugger?


Alright, I might be showing my age (and eccentricity) with Huggermugger, but I love word games!


If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve launched a new iPhone app. It’s called WordFlipper and it’s sort of “Boggle meets Dance Dance Revolution with a Carnival Twist” though some people just skip the tongue-twister and call it fun. 🙂

During the launch, I’m offering WordFlipper for free so if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch now’s the time to nab it.

Getting back to word games, I’m going to open this post up to you: What are your favorite word games and why? I’ll ask the question on Twitter too and post the results back here.

NB: In case you’re wondering whether I’ve given up writing in exchange for making iPhone stuff the answer is no. Didn’t you read yesterday’s Morning Walks?

Thoughts on a Writer's Ab(s)

No, it’s not a beret, but it might as well be.

Now that I’m supposed to be a serious and devoted writer, I’m going to focus on writing only the most serious and dedicated of posts on the austere topic of the writing life.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either.

To those of you who worried that my change in status from employed dreamer with novelistic ambitions to gentleman of leisure and still-unpublished writer extraordinaire would somehow alter the content of this site, this post should put you at ease.

It’s a nice rambling post for a Sunday morning… Enjoy!

Yesterday, I was just signing off to spend some time with the Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s excellent SF/F pirate anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails.


When I got a tweet from a fellow who used to work for me a long time ago. And, well, you know me…


One tweet leads to another and suddenly Dustin Wax of Writer’s Technology Companion gets in on the action:


And now I’m left with a rather interesting visual: Dustin’s singular, well-defined ab.

We can all laugh at the joke because writing, well… writing really isn’t a contact sport, now is it?

A Writer’s Ab(s)

No, there’s nothing I like more than sitting at the cafe, pecking away at the keyboard with a nice demitasse of espresso and a cinnamon roll decorating my little table. Yep.

So, the writing life doesn’t lend itself to keeping fit… or does it?

Below is a picture of Cory Doctorow and Jeff VanderMeer (swiped from Cory’s Flickr page). While these guys may not be in the next Calvin Klein skivvies poster shot on Times Square, they’re in pretty good shape for a pair of wordslingers.

[NB: Jeff, if you’re stopping in you can thank me for retouching the original. 😉 ]

If you follow Jeff VanderMeer, you probably know that he does a bit of weightlifting. If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know that I used to be a pretty avid runner.

I’m pointing this out, because part of focusing my life on writing is getting another shot at being healthy in every sense. When I was really running, I used to do 6 miles a day in about 30 minutes. For the non-runners, that’s pretty fast. Of course, I’m a long way from there today, but I’m committed to working my way back.

My wife and I just joined a new gym. She has a pretty amazing story of her own, which I’ll introduce in the not too distant future when we launch her blog. For the moment though, I’ll just pop in a promo video from the gym:

After just a few weeks (of less than regular attendance, but attendance nonetheless), I’m already feeling the benefits. I’m running at less than a third of my former pace, but I am running. I have more energy. I’m crackling with ideas and plans.

I feel more alive.

I’m always up for some reason not to be writing. Most of those reasons are a matter of simple avoidance or fear. However, working on my writer’s ab (singular) is one that I’m not willing to lump in with the rest. While the sedentary work of writing may not provide natural opportunities for exercise, working on the Writer’s Ab(s), is as vital as any other writing exercise.

YOUR TURN: How are you working your Writer’s Ab(s)? What advice do you have for others?

The Stone Heart: Picking Up When Inspiration Leaves Off

“Too long a sacrifice / Can make a stone of the heart.” ~ W.B. Yeats

On Sunday, I wrote about inspiration. I told you a story about a sunrise and the effect of spending time with someone who is pursuing their passion. When I finished writing that piece, I went off to my journal to think a bit more and I spent the next two hours immersed in the reality that yet another year has passed and I am only a wee bit closer to my own dream.

It must be that time of year because other writers are evaluating their lives, reaching out to their readers asking for stories of silent suffering, and making promises to be better. I value their words and their vision. I admire their strength.

When you start this journey, you may begin with an idea that your life is going to take a certain path. Of course, you learn quickly that life doesn’t quite work that way. There are responsibilities. There are things that need doing.

I italicize those points because they’re not my words. Oh, I’ve said them often enough – don’t think I haven’t – however, they are not words that belong to me. They are words that come from some other place and I’ve draped them over my shoulders to protect me from myself.

Does that sound strange to you or does it sound familiar?

Living up to the expectation of the expectations will kill you

I spend a great deal of time here talking about fear. The fear of writing. The fear of failing. The fear of success. The fear of disappointing others. What is it about that fear that drives you to wall yourself off from your desires? What causes you to drive yourself into the arms of fear instead of happiness?

Is it money? Is it security? Is it love? Or is it simply that you don’t want to be an embarrassment to others? You don’t want to let down the people who’ve come to depend on you?

These reasons are poor substitutes for happiness. At some point, you will realize that despite everything you have achieved in life you – if you have not followed your dream – you will have traded your heart for a coward’s death.

Few will remember how you died, but many will recall that you never lived

At one point in my life, I did what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted. Life doesn’t really work that way now or rather I don’t let it work that way. Instead I allow life to work the way I believe others expect it to work. I am often embarrassed by who I am, because who I am does not fit the expectation.

In the past, this would be the point where I would enter a period of frenzied work to change everything in my world. I’d quit my job or try to start some new venture. I’d go to the store and get everything I needed to get “back to my diet”. I’d exercise… Eventually, though, the pressures of daily life would intrude and I wouldn’t be able to do that. I’d feel guilty or worried. Guilty about spending time on myself or worried that I wasn’t doing enough to feed the expectations.

In the end, I’d do everything except what I ought to be doing.
In the end, I’d throw up my hands.
In the end, I’d bail.

A life is created one day at a time

Neither the manic pursuit of life-altering change nor the wallowing in misery is particularly healthy. Lasting change comes as a result of a steady and even pursuit of passion. Just as finishing a book comes from the constant application of butt-in-chair and dedication to the story.

My life, pure and simple, is about writing and the written word. Writing is my passion. Stories are my soul’s desire. I write and there is nothing wrong with that.

I was reminded by a comment recently that inspirational pieces are often written as much for the writer as the audience. I have to agree. Most of the posts I write here are placeholders in the journal of my life, reminders of who I was on one particular day. I’d also like to think that by sharing such thoughts I build, however slowly, a life that is going in the right direction.

It may not seem like it by the tone today, but I do think it’s working.

On the RhodesTer, An Ode to Dave

As most of you know, I volunteered to write an ode for the winner of Daniel Smith’s Can You Put the Wit in Twitter contest, and I was quite pleased when my pal RhodesTer, aka Dave, was announced as the winner!

Here’s his winning tweet:

The lady at The Coffee Bean laughed at my joke when I ordered a “Synonym Roll”, and asked her if there was another word to describe it.


Coming up with the right tone for RhodesTer’s ode was a bit of a challenge. The title was simple enough, but the voice? What voice? Then I thought of all the surreal tweets RhodesTer’s made about his dreams and old Bill Lee crept in and sort of took over. 🙂

On the RhodesTer

to be read in the voice of William S. Burroughs

Image credit: Zen (Flickr)
This mime is not Jack Kerouac.

Had that dream again…
The one where a mime gets his own radio show
complete with a cast of thousands…
Along with the otters
and the accountants
in a room full of candles.
Johnny Depp played the butler,
while deep in the Palm Springs night,
a little dog barked
till RhodesTer comes knocking.
Some way for dogs to rule the earth.

Coffeesister says,
“Dave, never David,
went from being seen and not heard
to heard and not seen.”

Had to be a great 18 years for them so far.

Even Shadowsillybutt gets a cameo
because broadcasting cats
isn’t just for breakfast anymore.
It’s what everyone does
with a new webcam.
Is that why Tommy Smothers says you’re funny?
I wonder what Gwyneth Paltrow would say.

And then,
at the bottom of the page…
RhodesTer has the nerve to ask,
“Why are you looking WAY DOWN HERE?”

Well, I’ll tell you Dave,
I’m looking for the free cheese that goes on my damn fish sandwich
and you moved it.
Don’t tell me Angelina
made off with it in the shaving cream-filled Miata either,
because I saw you riding side saddle on that Nighthawk,
Mr. Breeze.
I want my cheese.
All of it.
I’ve had a few beers already,
so don’t make me put you on the company computer.

RhodesTer has 22 dedicated readers. Please be sure to stop on by and subscribe to his blog. He updates it once a month whether it needs it or not.

Funny Writers: Twit-Wit Contest Win a Poem from Me!

Daniel Smith (aka @smithereensblog on Twitter) is running a great new Twitter contest:

Write your best example of witty wordplay in 140 characters or less and post it on Twitter to enter, then drop the link along with the full-text into the comments below (but be sure to read the 5 rules at the bottom of this post first!)

And because Daniel’s a great guy, I thought I’d help him out with a one-of-a-kind prize!

Let yourself be pampered by the poetic prowess of How Not To Write’s Jamie Grove, who has kindly offered to write an Ode to the winner and post it on his blog (along with a link to your blog if you have one.) Take a look at the one he wrote recently for James Chartrand at the Men With Pens blog, and let me know if this should remain filed here under awards or if I should create another category for cruel and unusual punishment. At Smithereens, the readers decide!

Ok, admittedly this is not much of a prize. After I wrote my Ode to Good King James Chartrand of Men with Pens, most of the comments agreed with Daniel’s statements above. However, there are plenty of other great prizes you may actually want. 🙂

Can You Put the Wit in Twitter? – Rules, Prizes and More!

P.S. The contest ends 7 pm EST on Wednesday June 18th so hurry!