Image Inspiration #1

This week I’m featuring a short story I wrote inspired by two images my friend, and fellow writer, Beauty Borg sent me. She’s been in need of inspiration herself as far as writing goes and so I sent her a pic recently and she returned the favor. The images are below with a challenge of 500 words. I decided to write a Zak and Hector story and if you’ve read my book, Floor 17 Café, you’ll be well familiar with them.


Cute as a Fox

The Long-nosed Cat

Zak awoke early to the sound of Hector, his dog, barking down by the stream. He quickly put on his slippers and bathrobe, then went out the backdoor.

“Hector, come up here!” Zak called sternly. Hector, a German Shepherd, barked once more then ran up to the red-haired boy and sat down. “It’s too early in the morning to be barking like that.”

“I apologize, mon ami,” Hector replied, “but I saw a strange looking cat in the water. He was playing in it and refused to run away when I barked at it.”

“You know not all animals are afraid of dogs, Hector,” Zak said. “A talking dog, on the other hand, might scare most.”

“I did not think of it that way,” Hector replied. “I shall try talking to it.” He ran back to the stream and Zak followed.

As they arrived as the stream, just behind the three cottages, Zak saw what Hector was barking at; a red fox. He was splashing in the water, supposedly giving himself a bath.

Fox in the Water

“You see, mon ami, a long-nosed cat has invaded our territory,” Hector announced.

“Hector, that’s a fox not a cat,” Zak said. “I’m sure it’s a woodland creature which belongs this realm. Remember, Serena the Elven Priestess lived here and she talked with all of the animals of the forest.”

“A fox?” Hector asked. “Didn’t people hunt them for sport? I read in the library that they used hunting dogs to track them down. I shall hunt this one.”

“I say, ol’ chap, do we really have to go through with that tired old cliché?” asked the fox.

“Zak, did you hear that? He can talk!” Hector exclaimed.

“Yes, Hector, I heard him.” He turned to the fox and smiled. “Good morning! How’s the water?”

“G’day!” replied the fox. “This water is aces! I was just having a wash when your mate here tried to chase me off. I’m Miguel, by-the-way.”

“Miguel, I’m Zak and this is my dog, Hector,” Zak said. Hector growled in response.

“Gentlemen,” Miguel began. “It seems we’ve got off on the wrong foot. Well, Hector and I did; well, he did…mostly. I’ve been deep in the woods for the last several months and fancied a good scrub. I came to the stream as I knew that it was the only source of water. I wasn’t aware that there were others living here besides Patty, Cassendra, and Serena.”

“Serena doesn’t live here anymore and we moved in with Patty when she married Chuck, our new dad,” Zak replied.

“I see,” Miguel said. “Quite a do then, isn’t it? I shan’t be long; just need to finish up provided Hector doesn’t whinge on about it.”

Hector growled in response and Zak scolded him. The boy turned back to Miguel, “You can join us for breakfast, if you like. I was going to order from Coffee and Cruellers to Go.”

“Splendid! Get some bacon sandwiches and tea and you have a deal!” said Miguel.

I hope you enjoyed this little story and look forward to more in the future. As for now, that’s all for me. Have a great week!

Happy Adventuring!




62 Days of Winter (Part 2)



As stated in last week’s article, these are ideas that you and your family can do to entertain yourself during the winter months of December and January. Ideas will have to be adjusted for those who live in climates that don’t have snow but most can be done as far as the indoor activities.

Below are the next 31 ideas that can be done in January. Bear in mind you can always swap a few of these for the December month as well. Make sure you take photos to commemorate each day.

The Second 31 Days

  1. Happy New Year! To begin this new year, try a new restaurant or a new recipe for dinner. Travel to a new city for a day trip and take pictures.


  1. Don’t forget there are still College Bowl parades and games to watch. Choose one team and wear their colors while you watch the game.


  1. As you put away the decorations, look over the new ones you bought in December. View all the cards you received and keep them to make a collage for next year.


  1. Make preparations for the kids return to school. Make sure tissues are plenteous for the cold and flu season.


  1. It’s time to teach your children about The One Ring. Begin with The Hobbit trilogy followed by the Lord of the Rings movies. Maybe one on Saturday and one on Sunday.


  1. Start reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible. Teach your children great lessons from those pages.


  1. Go to the grocery store and stock up your pantry in case of a blizzard. Don’t forget cold medicine and cough drops.
  2. When grade cards come out; celebrate good grades with a special meal. Discuss how lower grades can be improved for the second half.


  1. Christmas may be over but there are still songs about snow and winter. Find them and singalong.


  1. Get out the slow cooker and make a stew or casserole for dinner. Have the kids help you prepare it.


  1. Find one of your favorite books as a child and begin to read it to them before bed.


  1. Summertime in Winter! Create a beach-like atmosphere with food and music in your living room and have a picnic. Take pictures for your photo album.


  1. Check in on your neighbors to make sure all is well with them. Call or visit them. Offer to bring over food or snacks if they are unable to get out to the store.


  1. Write a round robin story about Santa Claus in the off season.


  1. Go online and watch old episodes of your favorite TV show as a child. Show your children what you used to watch as a kid.


  1. Open up a savings account with your local bank for the children to put money in from chores. Teach them to save it until Summertime or next Christmas.


  1. Invent your own family holiday and design cards and decorations for it. Invite friends and family over for a party to celebrate. Take pictures to remember the occasion.


  1. How are those resolutions going? Check in with each other to make sure you’re still sticking to them. If over, talk about what happened and what you can improve. Try again next month.


  1. Take a trip to Hogwarts! Introduce your children to the Harry Potter series; both movies and books.


  1. Get the family together and create a list of things you want to do this summer. *62 Days of Summer forthcoming in May*


  1. It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Go online and learn about Black History month.


  1. Explore outer space! Go online and learn about the Milky Way galaxy. Teach your children about the sun, moon, and the planets (including Pluto).


  1. Take a trip to your local library or bookstore. Show your children the wonder of holding a book in their hands.


  1. I am OZ! Introduce your children to The Wizard of Oz books and movies. Get them to talk about their favorite characters.


  1. Watch the documentary, Won’t You be my Neighbor? Talk about Mr. Rogers neighborhood and the subjects he covered.


  1. Surprise the kids with Brunch! Part breakfast and part lunch.


  1. Take a day trip to a new city if you didn’t make it on the first. Take pictures of landmarks and landscapes. If you’re able to cross the state border, see how their state differs from yours.


  1. Go online and teach your kids about the state you live in. Show them the capital, the bird, flower, and slogan. If possible, drive out to the capital city and take pictures.


  1. Go to a local store and buy souvenirs of your own state and send them to family on the other side of the country. Explain to them what each of them represent.


  1. Look back over the activities you did over the last two months and discuss what you liked and didn’t like. Make plans to do it again next year.


  1. Buy photo albums and print out pictures of your 62 days. Share online with friends and family.



There you have it! 62 ideas to make the winter months more tolerable. As stated before, areas that don’t have snow will have to adjust some of the outdoor activities.

If you have any further ideas or suggestions, please share them in the comments section below.

And as always,

Happy Adventuring!


62 Days of Winter (Part 1)



This article is a little off the beaten path from my usual articles. Years ago, I had this idea of keeping a blog report of things that my daughters and I did during the summer months of July and August. Seeing that both months had 31 days in them; back-to-back, I thought of the idea of 62 Days of Summer. Well the idea didn’t pan out, but later realized that December and January also held 31 days each; back-to-back.

So, the nature of this article is to provide 62 ideas; one a day, that you and your family could do in the winter. Bear in mind you don’t have to do them in the order given, I’ll put them in order of the calendar. Some ideas will have to be adjust depending on where you live in the country. Make sure you take photos to commemorate each day.

The First 31 Days

  1. Buy some Christmas cards and send out to friends and family. Get it done early then sit back for replies.


  1. Make up your Christmas lists for the coming holiday.


  1. Walk around your neighborhood, taking pictures of the landscape; trees, bushes, and grass. Do the same thing in the Summer and view the differences.


  1. Drive around town in the evening and view the houses with Christmas light displays.


  1. Buy Christmas music and sing songs around the fireplace.


  1. Decorate the house for Christmas if you haven’t done so.


  1. Go out to the store and buy a new ornament for the house that represents the entire family.


  1. Make an appointment to have a family portrait taken. Do the same in the summer and see how much you’ve changed.


  1. If there’s enough snow, make a family of Snow People. Teach the kids how to make snow angels.


  1. Drive downtown in the evening and see how stores have decorated for the holidays.


  1. Go online and watch Christmas episodes of old TV shows.


  1. Make Christmas cookies! Make some extra and share with a neighbor.


  1. Go online and learn how other countries celebrate Christmas. Take one of their traditions and add it to your home for the season.


  1. Visit a local senior center and sing Christmas songs with them.


  1. Grab some popcorn and hot chocolate and watch a marathon of Christmas movies.


  1. Go online and research the origin of your favorite Christmas songs. Did you know, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was first sung by Judy Garland in the movie, Meet me in St. Louis?


  1. When receiving Christmas cards, hang them on a door for all to see.


  1. The kids are almost out of school for the holidays. Make plans for a day trip to another city to celebrate. Take pictures of landmarks.


  1. Go around to neighbors who can’t get out often and shovel their sidewalk. Bring along salt for icy patches as well.


  1. Prepare the evening meal using the color theme of Reds and Greens.


  1. The Longest Night of the Year! Celebrate by watching scary movies.


  1. Make up a silly story involving a snowman who wants to get a tan.


  1. Having visitors for Christmas? Clean up the house and make sure your grocery list is complete.


  1. Before bed read, A Visit from Saint Nick.


  1. After opening gifts, save a piece of different wrapping paper and make a collage. Sign your name to it and save for the following year as a new decoration.


  1. We’re less than a week from the New Year, have everyone write down resolutions for the coming year.


  1. Go to the movie theater and watch a new family movie.


  1. If there’s a hill in the area, take the kids sledding.


  1. Plan a small gathering of neighbors for a New Year Party. Choose a theme and buy supplies.


  1. Remember those resolutions you wrote? Read them out loud and help each other to keep them in the coming year.


  1. Happy New Year! If you have little ones who can’t stay awake until Midnight, choose an earlier time and have your own countdown to midnight.



Here’s 31 ideas to celebrate for the coming month. Next week I’ll post the other 31 so you won’t have to wait an entire month. Then you can pick and choose what’s right for your family to do.

If you have any ideas or suggestions of your own, feel free to comment them here. I might just include them in the next list.

Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!



The Everything Guide to NaNoWriMo

We’re just a few days out from the start of NaNoWriMo and I decided to share with you some of the other articles I’ve previously written to give you some last minute tips and advice as you make your final preparations for the month.

The Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo

The Cheater’s Guide to NaNoWriMo

The Milestones of NaNoWriMo

The Writer’s Resources

I hope these will help you in the final days before the 30 Day march to November 30th. Good luck to one and all!!

Happy Adventuring!


P.S. Just to let you know, if you’re reading any of these articles, I will not be participating in this year’s NaNo. I have a prior commitment which will take me to the end of December to complete. If I add NaNo on top of it, one or both will suffer. I will be here to help support you should you want it.

The Real-Life Guide to Writing



The main problem that a lot of people have told me in regards to writing is that they don’t have time to write. My response has always been the same; it’s not a matter of having the time but finding the time.

Even if you gave yourself a two-hour window to write, you’ll find every excuse not to write during that time. Suddenly the laundry needs folding, the dishes need to be washed, the dog needs walking, and so on. By the time you’ve finished with all of that you have maybe fifteen minutes left to write and you spend that time staring at a blank screen. Then the next day you’ll complain, once again, that you don’t have time to write.

Since we’ve been talking about NaNoWriMo coming up in November, I figured we’ll utilize that for this article. This advice can be used anytime of the year.


The Family

Getting the family on board with the idea of your writing for an entire month is a task in itself alone. Most of the family won’t understand why you want to do this sighting it as a waste of time. There is no clear way you can explain this to non-writers; at least I haven’t found one.

One suggestion would be to encourage members of your family to join you in the frenzy-filled madness of writing for thirty days straight. If they decline, the next step is to help them understand why you need to do this. Let them know how important this is to you and that you want them to respect your space and privacy.

Ask them for moral support, perhaps you can get them to read some of your manuscript and offer some suggestion for where the story is headed. Perhaps they can help you name a character, create a fictitious town, or share a personal anecdote that can happen in your story.

Above all, do not avoid your family altogether. Whether it just be you and your spouse or a household of children, make sure they remember what you look like. Purposefully set aside time to do something with the family; a dinner out, a movie, or a simple walk around the neighborhood. Getting away from the story will help you clear your mind and allow the ideas to keep flowing in your head.


Meetings and Appointments

We don’t always have control of our time when it comes to doctor visits whether it’s a checkup or a weekly counselor’s session. However, you can try to schedule these appointments as close together as possible and get them out of the way ASAP.

When an appointment is coming up, make sure you write a little extra to pad your word count for that day. Not every appointment eats up a lot time but, if little Johnny is rushed to the hospital from the school with a broken arm, you may find that a few days of writing will disappear while you tend to this emergency.

Naturally I’m not telling to ignore your family or obligations when it comes to these sudden changes, but stay ahead of your word count goal for any eventuality. And if you are a church-goer do not ignore your responsibilities for the purpose of writing. Your congregation might understand but God will not.




Meals and “That” Holiday

If you are the cook in the household, you may find it difficult to do the evening meals for the family. Don’t just shove the yellow pages at your family and tell them to, “Figure it out for yourselves.” Pizza, on occasion, is nice but no one wants takeout every night of the week for an entire month!

One of the ideas that someone came up with was cooking several meals in advance and then freezing them so they can be thawed and reheated during the month. This is a great way to make sure your family not only gets enough to eat but is eating healthier than what they’d get through a drive-thru window.

Another idea is to get your spouse to do some of the cooking during this time and an even better idea would be to get the kids to help. Regardless of their age, they can help out Mom or Dad to get things ready for the evening meal. Plus, it’s a way to teach them how to cook without letting them know they are learning. Recipes are readily available all over the internet as are cooking videos that give you tips and hints on how to prepare certain dishes.

Of course the biggest event of November is that holiday called Thanksgiving. It falls on the fourth Thursday every year which is one of the few holidays that you can always keep up with.

One way to prepare for this is to have your story completely written before then. It’s not impossible but for some it may be more challenging; depending on how early or late that Thanksgiving falls. Some years it’s as early as the 22nd and others as late as the 28th. Either way, remind yourself it’s the fourth Thursday of the month.

If you’re hosting the big dinner at your house, prepare as much of the food in advance before the day arrives. There are some grocery stores that sell an entire turkey dinner with all of the trimmings so that all you’d have to do is heat everything up in the microwave or oven. Check your area and see if this option is available. There are also websites that give you a day-by-day preparation list for things to get ready leading up to the dinner.

Another idea is either have it earlier or postpone it until later depending on everyone’s availability that will be a part of your dinner. Nowhere is it written in stone that says you have to celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day.

If you’ll be visiting someone else’s home for the meal, perhaps you can do some writing on the way over to the location. Whether you are travelling by car, train or airplane; you should be able to snag some extra words prior to the meal. Provided that your hosts understand your writing challenge, you might be able to get in some writing while waiting for the meal to be served. Don’t ignore them especially if you only see them once or twice a year. If you’re spending the weekend there, there’s always time to get some writing in on Friday and Saturday after the meal.

Of course, by the time Thanksgiving arrives, your spouse might say, “You’re still writing?” or “At least take the day off from this”. In the long run you might just give yourself the entire day off. Pad your word count the day before and then resume on that Friday while everyone is out shopping. If you’re finished, help yourself to an extra piece of pie to celebrate.


Some Time-Saving Tips

As I stated at the beginning of this article; it’s not having the time, but finding the time to write. Here are some ideas to help you get some writing done:

1)  Rise 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later, and utilize that time to write. Even if you’re just putting ideas down on paper (or on the screen), write. It doesn’t have to make sense just write it.

2)  Pre-record all of your favorite shows and then watch them at the end of each week or after you’ve finished the entire project. With technology today, you don’t have to watch an episode the night it is broadcast.

3)  Reduce your e-mail viewing. Either utilize the vacation mode on your account or limit the number of times you read them. Twice a day should be the maximum if you usually do it more often.

4)  Limit your presence on Social Media. For some this is like depriving a person of water or air. If you are a social butterfly, let your peeps know that you won’t be on as often but make sure you check in so they know you’re still alive.

5)  Write during your lunch hour at work. If you can’t take a laptop, using the ol’ pen and paper to scribble your story. You can get a good amount of words finished this way and it will count towards your final total.



Whatever you do, do not totally neglect your spouse or family during your writing session; be it a week or an entire month. Spend some time with them, eat meals with them, and celebrate each milestone that you cross. Remember my mantra: 5K, every 3 days; if you write 5000 words every three days that will get you to the goal of 50K of the NaNo challenge. Or whatever goal you set yourself for your story.


What about you? What are your secrets to dealing with everyday life and writing? Share any hints or tips of what worked and what didn’t. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments.

Happy Adventuring!


Fantasy Author writes Mainstream Fiction?


        One of the challenges of being a fiction writer is turning a little towards a non-fiction direction and writing a story which I have called contemporary; real people doing real things in the real world. The genre is usually called, “General Fiction” or, as the NaNoWriMo site calls it, “Mainstream Fiction”. So why is it a challenge?


It Just got Real!

        First, we ask what is “Mainstream” or “General” fiction? They are stories set in the time of today and somewhere on Earth. The characters are just basic people who you can picture living next door or those who you work with side-by-side. The situations are standard enough that you can relate to something that could happen to you and/or your friends.

        Some examples of mainstream fiction would be: The Good Earth, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Since 2005 I’ve been taking the idea of writing more serious and since 2014 have published 8 works online for purchase. You’ll notice that the bulk of my stories are Fantasy-based, but a couple of my short stories are more mainstream with a Twilight Zone twist.

        So why am I worried about my new project for November? The main reason, as I talked about in my previous article, is that it is personal for me. Writing about things that happen in my life is sometimes hard to do specifically when it involves intense scenes or situations. The other reason is that there is nothing magical about the story. There won’t be any fantasy characters popping by, no twists in the middle, and no visits to a certain group of towers.

        This doesn’t mean that the story will be boring and mundane, just a straightforward tale of real people with real problems that can’t be fixed by waving a wand or casting a spell.

 Accuracy still counts

        When writing Historical Fiction, you know you have to be accurate as far as inventions or using historical figures in your stories. For example, if you are writing about a party that takes place during the American Civil War (1861-1865), you can’t have a telephone ring as they haven’t been invented until 18–. The same with historical figures; you might want to have Joe Louis, the boxer, make an appearance in your story set in Florida but at the time of your story’s setting, Joe might have been in New York.

        The same goes for mainstream fiction. Just because your story is set four years ago (2014), like mine, doesn’t mean you have to ignore “history”. If you’re character is purchasing the latest cell phone, find out which model was available at that time as they update frequently. The one you use today may not have been on the market four days ago. And please, do not say that they know someone who got them a phone that hasn’t been released yet. That shows poor research and laziness.

Rain_090814 002

Mesa, AZ Sept. 8, 2014


       In regards to weather, make sure your sunny day in the desert is actually what took place as we do get a fair amount of rain at certain times of the year. Even if you have a fictional town put in an American State, find out what the weather was doing in that area. Otherwise, you’d have to explain why the majority of the state was receiving a downpour of rain while your little town was dry and sunny.

 Finding Normal in Abnormal

Love of Cassie 

       In my story, “For the Love of Cassie”, I needed something more to the story than what was going one between the couple; Travis and Kylie. Since I made Travis a student of Veterinarian medicine, I had him receive an emergency call from a vet to take a trip down to Tucson to help with an animal hospital there that was dealing with a major crisis. This got my couple separated a good distance to set up for the surprise ending. I don’t know really anything about veterinarians but I’ve been in animal hospitals enough times to get a feel for the place. Sometimes that’s all you really need to keep the storyline going and giving it a real feel.

Chuck 1      

  My character Chuck, from the Floor 17 Café, is an average down-to-earth waiter. The extraordinary part about it is where he works and the customers he deals with. But I always keep in mind that there is nothing magical about Chuck and try to fit myself into his shoes and to have him react in similar fashion to how I would.

One Final Suggestion


       If you can’t deviate that far from your chosen genre, there’s always dream sequences you can writer where anything goes. Or, you can always introduce a character that seems wiser that he lets on, or can see things that others cannot. Just don’t explain them and keep it a mystery. Whatever you do, just don’t go far away from what your writing that you realize you’re back to your standard genre.


        Writing outside your comfort zone can help you further develop characters in ways you never thought before. Take a leap and give it a try!

        If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to comment on it. If you have further suggestions on how to write outside your genre of choice, share those as well.


Happy Adventuring!


Facing your Past in Fictional Writing



Writing can serve as a great therapeutic device when facing a personal problem or crisis. Whether you write in a journal, jot down your feelings in prose, or simply tell your story; you can begin the healing process by letting it out on paper.

This article was inspired by two articles written by Rachel Thompson: 4 Top Tips to overcome your fear of Writing and Top 3 Reasons Censoring your Writing is holding you back (warning: graphic language in the second one.)

The other inspiration to this article is that through a fictional story, I am going to face some of the things that happened to me for this year’s (2018) NaNoWriMo challenge.


The Next Chapter of my Life

When I was divorced back in 2014, I felt that my life was officially over; that I had nothing left to live for. When you get married you picture all of the things that you want to do that most other American couples do; Buy a home, have children, raise a family, watch them graduate, walk them down the aisle for their wedding, live out your golden years in solitude. When a divorce takes place all of those things are ripped away from you and suddenly you find yourself all alone.

For me depression set in and I didn’t want to do anything. Not that I do much anyways; I’m a social butterfly, but even when it came to writing, preaching sermons, or anything I usually do I stopped doing. Thankfully the depression wasn’t severe enough that required medication (unless you count a slice of carrot cake as meds) but it took me two whole years to come to terms with the fact that I was divorced and it was time I picked myself up and move forward.

I truly believe that it was my faith in God that got me this far and will continue to do so in the future. Yes, I did contemplate suicide as I felt that there was nothing left to live for, but I felt a proverbial tap on the shoulder as if God was saying, “I still need you, let’s get back to work!”


Picture courtesy of the website.

The 2018 NaNo Challenge

Here we are four years later and I still struggle a bit with the divorce; it’s something that I wasn’t exactly prepared for but I did have a good support group in members of my local congregation. I recently moved into a trailer park to isolate myself in a way to further deal with the divorce and really pull myself out of the doldrums.

One of the things I knew I wanted to do was take on NaNo this year and really try going the distance for 50K words in 30 Days. I last attempted it a couple years ago with very little motivation and, I believe, quit at only 8 days in.

The other thing I decided to do, amongst the other ideas I had, was to finally face my past by writing scenes in a fictional story which mirrored my own. Several years ago, I wrote two short stories involving this couple who got married in the nonconventional way. In other words, their first child was four before they decided to get married. Yes, I know this is that way people do it nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Bennett Family

This year I decided to revisit those characters; redesign them a little, and move their marriage ten years down the road and see what they are up to. This will give me the perfect vehicle to channel my innermost thoughts onto the page and allow me to direct certain situations. Hopefully, by the time I finish I will not only have a completed first draft but also a chance to finally bury that part of my life and prepare for the next.


#writewhatscaresyou even if you do it in the form of fictional writing. Sometimes we can better control our own lives when we work with characters who are experiencing the same problems and then a solution will appear to solve both.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them here and I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Happy Adventuring!