Monday, August 25, 2014

So...How'd It Go?

Last week, I was telling you about my new tactic to group both writing and weight-loss into one big intertwined goal. I decided that I would start in on the My Fitness Pal thing, logging all my calories that I ate each day. Adding to that, I was supposed to write 5,000 words on the week. If I did all those things, I got to give myself a treat when Rish and I got together on Monday for our usual Dunesteefing.

Well, how did it go? I found some interesting things that came from this experience. First of all, logging my calories isn't as difficult as I've always made it out to be. Secondly, actually logging those calories changes your perception of food. When I started logging my calories, I made the pledge to myself to log all of them, no matter how many damn calories I ate. In the past, I've always logged my calories until I got to that diet busting splurge that sent my calorie count skyrocketing over the moon. Once I did that, then I just gave up, called the day a bust, and decided to try again the next day. This time, however, no matter how much I ate, I logged it. I forced myself to log it.

There were days when I was 2,000 calories above what I was supposed to stop at. It didn't matter, I kept on logging. I allowed myself to splurge as much as I wanted to, as long as I logged it. And a weird thing happened. After splurging all I wanted for a couple of days, I, without making a conscious decision or anything, stopped splurging and curbed my eating to get it to fall within the calories that I was allowed. Something about seeing the tally just made me want to change things to meet the goal. Maybe it was the report each day that tells you, "If every day were like today, you'd weigh XXX pounds five weeks from now." Usually, it would tell me that I'd gain 10 or 15 pounds, which, of course, was not what I wanted. So, without really consciously deciding to, I changed my habits.

Unfortunately, my writing habits didn't fare as well this week. My son is two and a half years old right now, and he's just in that zone where he can't take a nap, because he'll be up all night if he does, but he also can't manage to stay awake all day long if he doesn't take a nap. It's super frustrating, and it's bitten me in the ass most days this week. He keeps falling asleep at about 4:30 or 5:00 PM, which is the worst time of all. He will be up until at least 11:30 PM, usually later, if he falls asleep at that time.

Seems like we have two options, shorten his nap is one, but if we wake him up as soon as he falls asleep for a late nap like that, then he is unbearable to live with for the rest of the night. So, that seems to be out. The other option is wake him up really early in the morning, so that he takes his nap much earlier in the day, and is therefore tired again when his proper bedtime arrives. That may be the way we have to go. During the summer, we didn't want to do that, because who wants to get up hours early and deal with a crazy kid? But now that everyone has to get up for school at 6:30 AM anyway, maybe we should just add the baby to the mix.

Anyway, work has been really crazy of late, so I haven't been able to do a lot of writing on my lunch hour, and often when I do have time to write, all I want to do is sit and veg out. So, I need to make up the missed writing time in the evenings instead, except that the baby is up all night, and requiring my attention, because when he's up late, I can't just let him do his own thing. If I don't keep an eye on him all the time, he will be in my room, waking up my wife who has to work very early in the morning. So, my time has been short for writing. I fell woefully short of my goal of 5,000 words this week. I'm not quite sure exactly what I managed, because I can't remember where exactly I was in chapter 2 of Sunny and Gray when the week began. What I do have is 1,720 words in chapter 2. So, I'm approximately 3,300 words short of finishing that chapter. I shall do my best to improve on that this week.

I guess that means that I can't reward myself with pizza and Mountain Dew tonight when I get together with Rish. However, for the third week in a row, we won't be getting together anyway, because Rish will be working. So, I guess it's all for naught. I don't get the treat that I wouldn't have gotten anyway. I guess, like last week, I'll spend the evening working on editing the show. Rish finished editing the chatter portion of our next Dunesteef episode, so I need to assemble it together with the story, and get it posted. Of course, I'll only be able to do that if the baby doesn't decide to take his nap at 5:30 on me again. If you see a new episode tonight, you know things worked out. If you don't, well...

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Tactic 2

I mentioned in a post last week about my new tactic for avoiding the foods that I shouldn't eat (or at least eat much of) if I want to get back in shape again.  Surprisingly, I got a lot of comments about that, and a bunch of suggestions too.  Circumstances have caused me to need to make a change in my weight-loss plan, so I have decided to take everyone's suggestions and buckle down and try to make a habit of logging my food using My Fitness Pal.

While I'm at it, however, I have decided to try to wrap all my goals together in one.  A common practice when trying to lose weight is to allow yourself a cheat day, or cheat meal once a week or so.  I've decided that I will go this route, but that I will have to earn this cheat meal by fulfilling my goals.  So, with the internet as my witness, I will only get to eat my cheat meal with Rish Outfield each week if I log all my food 100% during the week and fulfill my weekly writing word count target of 5,000 words.

I'm hoping tying the two things together will work out.  Often, when I start working on dieting, I forget about writing, and vice-versa, but both are really important to me. Monday will be my reckoning day each week.  I'll let you know how I did, and if I've earned a soda and some pizza (or whatever we decide to eat, although that's our most common meal) or not.  If not, then I'll have to go out with Rish, and watch him eat pizza and drink soda while I just sip on a water and crunch on a salad.  So, considering I don't want to have to deal with that, I'll try really hard to succeed.

If I am successful, the next chapter of Sunny and Gray should be posted here very soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Character Bios

A few years ago, I was noticing in my writing that my characters all seemed rather similar.  Each one was me.  Maybe a girl me, or an old me, or a think me, or a all-star second baseman me.  But it was pretty obvious that they were just me.  So, I decided I needed to work on that.  I read a few books about  creating good characters, and I read several web posts about the same thing.  I made a really big list of questions that I needed to ask myself about a character before I try to write about them.

Sadly, the only time I've ever really done this planning in full was on my story The Battle of the Ideas, and even then, I didn't go through and answer every single question I put on my list.  It seems like a little too much preparation for a simple short story, answering a few of the most important questions seems like enough for that.  However, for a novel, it seems like it's probably pretty important.

Right now, as I'm trying to work on the next chapter of Sunny and Gray, I'm trying to sort through this stuff.  Sunny and Gray is going to be a novel, and therefore it needs this stuff to be done.  Since I'm looking at this stuff, I thought it might be cool to share the work that I did on my list, share the questions that I think are worth asking, and see what you think.

If you think there are things that I missed on my list, then please let me know in the comments.  If you have any other techniques to make a character interesting, memorable, or worthwhile please, also let me know.  I'm a pretty new writer; despite the years I've been at it, I haven't written that many stories; so, I'm always looking to improve.  So, any help you might have would be appreciated.

Okay, on to the list. Obviously this is just for major characters, although I've heard it said that minor characters would be more worthwhile if perhaps you found one or two of these questions and answered them about those characters, so they're slightly more memorable and different.

I tried to organize them into categories.  So, here you go:

What is the character's role in the story, and what is needed for that character to fulfill that role?

First design the essential nature of the character, then expand their back story etc.

What actions will they perform?  What is their motive behind these actions? Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

What is their name? Age? Occupation? Are they good at it or bad? What is their attitude toward their job? Or are they going to school? What grade? What is their attitude toward school? Hometown? Present town if different? What type of home/neighborhood are they in?

What was their past like? What is the character's name? What does this name say about them?  What kind of ethnic or geographic background does this name bring with it? Who are their parents? Siblings? What kind of relationship did they have with them? Position in family? Other close relatives? Was their family religious? How much schooling do they have? When did they first have sex? What was/is their attitude toward sex? Were they shy or outgoing? Their friends? Did they have special childhood problems? Where did they live growing up? Have they moved away from that place? What were the major experiences in their life? What is the single most important experience in their life? When were they most happy? What was the single most happy experience in their life? What experiences scarred their psyche? What experiences do they treasure? Who are the most important people in their life? Past occupations? Who was their first love? What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to them? What was their dream growing up? Did they achieve this dream? If so, in what ways was it not what the character expected? If your character never achieved the dream, why not?

What is their reputation?  What do other people think of the character? Are these reactions fair or are the people who have these opinions unkind?

What stereotypes do they fit?  What stereotypes do they defy?

How do they act different with different friends? What is their strongest positive personality trait? Strongest negative personality trait? Sense of humor?

What habits or patterns do they follow?  What traits and mannerisms do they have? Do they cover insecurities or fears with jokes? Bravado? Does your character have a habit? Foot tapping? Nail biting? Teeth grinding? Wear sunglasses? Chew his lip? Blink a lot? Twirl her hair? What does this trait mean? Nervousness or tension? Or some sort of mental disturbance or emotional state? Arms folded across chest a lot to protect ones self? Or something like that? What are your character's good and bad habits?

What is their relationships with the opposite sex like? Same sex? Both? Are they married? Boyfriend/girlfriend? To whom? Do they have children? Who are they?  Who are their friends or are they a loner? Enemies? Influential person?

What are their talents and abilities (music, art, science, athletic, etc)? What's their IQ level?

What is their personality like?  What about their temperament? Leader or follower? What are their tastes and preferences? What do they do for fun? Favorite movies or TV shows? Favorite foods? Drinks? Magazines? Books? Comics? Sports team? Athletic? Favorite sport? What hobbies do they have? Favorite foods?

What is their appearance like? Ways of walking? Posture? Patterns of speech? Vocal quality? Clothing styles? Hairstyle? Personal habits and mannerisms? Is the character fat?  Sloppily fat or just comfortably padded? Are they thin? Hungrily thin or elegantly slim? Is he bald? Is their hair neat or shaggy, long or short? Does he have a beard or a mustache? If so is it trimmed or long and bushy? Do they wear glasses? A hearing aid? Have any other disabilities? A bum knee? A bad back? A missing finger or arm or ear or...?

What kind of clothes do they wear? High fashion or old fashioned? New or old, clean or dirty, freshly pressed or rumpled? Are their shoes scuffed or are they shined? Wing tips or moccasins? Are there holes in the soles? Does he wear neckties? If so, are they wide or narrow, conservative or gaudy? Bow ties?

What kind of car do they drive? New or old? If old is it well maintained or rusted and falling apart? Is there a bumper sticker? What does it say? Good luck charm hanging from the mirror?

What is their bedroom like? Tidy or clothes all over the place? Bed made? What kind of pictures on the wall? Stuff on the nightstand? Magazines? Books? Pipes or cigars on the dresser? Stereo equipment? What music? Rock? Country? Classical? What color is the room painted? Are there curtains? Lace or corduroy?

What twist on the expected trait do they have?

What is their moral or ethical code? Philosophy of life? Attitudes? Thought processes? Are they liberal or conservative in their views? Are they a bigot? Moral? Immoral? Do they have vices? What religion do they profess and do they practice it?

What are their personal goals (both in life and within the story)?  What are their fears? Greatest fear? Things they definitely aren't afraid of? If you asked about his or her greatest dream, what would your character tell you? What's a secret dream that he or she wouldn't tell you about? What kind of person does your character wish they could be? What is stopping them? What is your character afraid of? What keeps them up at night? What does your character think is their worst quality? What do other people think your character's worst quality is? What is a talent your character thinks they have but is very wrong about?

Who do they love most in the world? Who do they hate? In what situation would your character become violent? In what situation would your character act heroic?

What is the character's arc? Most important thing to know about this character?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw Post-mortem Post

Well, I'm pretty pleased with how this went.  I've finished another story.  That makes three this year (one of which is so bad no one will ever see).  I know it's sad to say this, but I'm closing in on a personal record here if I keep this up.

My best year ever was 2008, the year we started the Dunesteef.  I wrote six stories that year, and, had we not started the Dunesteef, I probably would have written more.  I suspect this is the case, because I wrote almost all those stories in the first half of the year, and the production of the podcast consumed the second half of the year on me.

So, six stories is the most I've ever done in one year.  If you asked Rish, he'd probably say that the most he's ever written in a month was six, but we two seem to have different obstacles keeping us from being real writers.  My biggest obstacle is actually sitting down and doing the writing.  I'm always coming up with story ideas, turning them over and over in my head, but when it comes to actually putting them down on paper, I never seem to get around to it.

That's why I'm so pleased with this Broken Mirror Shards thing.  Having just finished one story, and a big old long one at that, I was challenged by Rish, and actually managed to complete the challenge.  I suppose I still need to crank it up, after all I've only written two stories in two months' time, but at least I'm still at it.  What has always been my biggest issue is getting my nose back on the grindstone. When I finish one story, I have a tendency to take a break, which of course kills my momentum, and I never get back to it.

Is Dr. Claw a great story?  Is it even one of my best?  I don't think so.  It's a passable story, but not amazing or exciting in any way.  I don't know if that comes from the fact that I came up with the idea and started writing it that same week or not.  Usually I polish an idea in my mind for a long time before ever writing the first word.  I think Fireflies is a much better story than Dr. Claw, but that might also be because it's so much longer.  I just don't know.

Also, I'm not really pleased with the last line of Dr. Claw.  It just didn't seem to close things off very well for me.  I don't know how I'd change it, though.  I guess I'd have to give it some thought.  I did consider having Brody hear the Round Table employee laughing from somewhere distant or maybe in his head.  But I didn't know if I wanted to go there.  The Round Table employee had really done nothing more than warn him off, and I didn't want to make it seem like he was behind it all per se.  I preferred to leave that open at least a little.

It makes me think of my story, Moonlit Confession, in which the last line said, "People say dogs don't smile, but every dog has his day."  When Rish, Abbie, and I performed that story for the podcast, Abbie burst out laughing at that final line.  Not, obviously, the effect I was going for.  She suggested that I drop it completely, and have it end when the girl calls back and says, "Woof."  But I still like that line, for some reason.

The last line in this story not so much.  Maybe I should drop the last line from it, and have it end with him curling into a ball and crying.  I don't know.

Anyway, this is the time that I open it up for all comments and suggestions.  Also, if you saw any typos or sentences that didn't make sense (because that happens a lot when I'm writing.  I start writing it one way, change my mind and decide to do it another way, but don't manage to get it completely changed over), let me know about them, so I can fix them in the master file.  Any suggestions about how to change the story to make it better, I'd love to hear them.

Lastly, thanks to Jason Kivela, Tena Kolakowski, Bria Burton, and Andrew Rakowski for reading, following along, and donating to the Dunesteef.  I hope you appreciated seeing your names in the story, and didn't find my characters (or entities in the case of Andrew) to whom your names were given to be too disagreeable.

Okay, now it's time to get back to the grindstone.  I promised I'd write another chapter of Sunny and Gray, in between each short story I write, so I guess it's off to get started on that.  Then, next will be a story that I think I will call Do Over, at least to begin with.  Another time travel tale, my favorite.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 11)

Okay, 817 more words puts me at a grand total of 7,508. And yes, that is the grand total, because today is the final installment of Dr. Claw. Before we go further, though, here are the others who are participating.

Bria Burton 
Katherine Inskip
Rish Outfield

Check out their stories. Since my story is done now, I will be heading over to check out what they had to write. Anyway, here's the last segment:

Dr. Claw was waiting for him still in its usual place despite the passage of time.  Apparently claw machines don’t change much and therefore don’t need to be updated like other video games.  Brody’s head pounded in time with his heartbeat as he stepped up to the machine.  His vision seemed to blur and double as he looked down at the joystick.  Maybe his plan of getting roaring drunk last night wasn’t such a good one after all.  This time, at least, he’d brought a whole shit ton of quarters, $100 worth.  He put one in the slot.
“You’re back again?” the Round Table employee was at his side, “I thought I told you that nobody ever walks away happy from this thing.”
Brody didn’t even look over at him, instead he guided the claw with the joystick to the spot that he felt would be lucky.  He hit the drop button, and watched the claw plummet into the mountain of plush toys.
“I thought you said that you never said that at all,” Brody replied, “at least that’s what you said last time.”  Brody froze, as the claw rose from the toys with a silver and black plush football in its grip.  It dropped it into the hopper.
“Hey, wow, you actually won something,” said the man, “I’ve never seen anyone win something.  I guess you’ll go home happy after all.”
Brody pulled the ball out of the machine and examined it.  He pulled at the plush fur, squeezed it mercilessly, but could discover no hidden compartment or pull away lining.  As far as he could tell, this was just a regular prize from the machine.  He looked at it for a moment, remembering that this was the actual toy he had attempted to grab the first time he’d played this machine.  It certainly was no lottery ticket.
He turned and shoved the ball into the trash can beside the machine, and pulled out another quarter.
“You’re playing again?  But you just won.  What are you expecting to get?” the man asked.
“I don’t know,” Brody said, “It’s different every time, but it’s always amazing.”
“I don’t get you man.  I think I was right after all, you’ll never walk away from this machine happy.”
Brody shoved another quarter into the machine, and the claw lurched out over the toys again.  It dropped, and came up empty.
“Sooner or later,” he said to the man, but on turning toward him, discovered that he had gone.  “Uh...sooner or later, I’ll get what I came for,” he finished lamely to no one in particular.
He plugged in another quarter.  The machine went through its motions again, the claw lurching out, jerking back and forth as he manipulated the joystick, then diving into the mound of prizes.  Brody’s head still pounded along with his heartbeat, as the claw rose up.
His eyes widened and his stomach lurched when he saw that it had something in its grasp.  Something impossibly large.  How could that have been hiding within that pile of stuffed animals?  It was a large manilla envelope.  The claw steered it back to the start position, and dropped it in the bin.
Brody pulled the door open, and retrieved his prize.  On the outside, his name was written in clean, black letters.  He unfastened the hook, and opened the envelope.  Inside was a sheet of paper, and a sheet of film.  What was this?  How was this going to make me rich again?  He looked at the film.  It was like one of those films his teachers in grade school had put on the overhead projector before they finally got more up-to-date technology.  On it was a black and white rendering of someone’s brain.  Covering a huge portion of the brain’s right side was a large white circle.  At the bottom of the film in clean, black letters again was his name.
Brody looked at the sheet of paper that had come in the envelope.  It was on UC Davis Medical Center stationary, and contained a two paragraph statement written by a doctor about what he had found in the brain scan.  The patient, Brody Burton, had a malignant glioblastoma that, because of its massive size, was certainly inoperable.
Brody’s stomach dropped.  What was this? This wasn’t a lottery ticket or the keys to a Ferrari!  This was a death sentence! This couldn’t be real.  He’d never been to any doctor to get a brain scan.  He’d never seen this doctor about any glioblastoma or anything else for that matter.  He leaned against the claw machine, and slid down to his knees, crying.  He’d never bought a Ferrari either, yet there had been one parked outside for him when he’d won the keys, one with no miles on it whatsoever.
            He curled into a ball and cried.  Wow, had that guy been right. 

The End

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Tactic

I'm doing really terrible in my never-ending fight against being a fat guy.  Starting this week, I'm bearing down and trying harder again.  I've totally  let myself go this summer, and I'm about as fat as I have ever been.

I've been trying something to try to help me avoid those cravings that are so hard to say no to.  This Geico commercial totally sums up my new tactic.

No, I was not paid by Geico to link to their commercial.  I'm just one of those people who really appreciates a great, well done commercial, and this one is fantastic.

Anyway, my new tactic is not to have the popular girls from the middle school follow me around and put me down.  Instead, I'm trying to harness that awful attitude.

For example, yesterday, several people were gathered around a table at work, sampling potato chips.  Apparently Lays has a bunch of new chips, and they sent a bag of each to the newsroom.  I think there were four flavors, and everyone was trying each of them, and deciding which of them were their favorites.

I like potato chips a lot, but they're not good for losing weight, as everyone knows.  So, how did I deal with this?  In my mind, I called up my inner popular middle school girl, and said in an ultra-disdainful voice, "I don't eat potato chips.  Ew.  Those are for fat people."

I wish I could portray the tone of voice to you by way of the written word.  Just think of those girls from the commercial.  It sounds kind of like that.

My hope is that, by repeating these phrases in my head with utmost disdain, I'll eventually really think that those things are gross, and no longer be tempted by them.  Of course the other thing to think about with this is making sure that I don't turn into one those bitchy middle school popular girls.  We'll see how it goes.

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 10)

Okay, I got in another 550 words.  One more scene.  And we're closing in on the finish line.  I'm at 6,724 words total.

The link parade has been joined by another float! I'm pretty excited.  I thought, despite everyone's seeming interest in the idea, that Bria was going to be the only one who actually joined us.  But not the case after all.  So, our new expanded list of links is:

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield


Katherine Inskip

Katherine's story is called "The Catch," and I hope you enjoy it, unlike whatever you call the emotion you've been feeling while reading my story.  Anyhow, here's my segment for today:

Brody opened his mailbox, and his heart leapt into his throat.  There was a letter from the Rakowski Agency.  At last, the good news he’d been waiting for had arrived.  He rushed back into the house, ripping the envelope open as he walked.  He sat on the couch as his eyes made it past the formalities and saw the words “regret to inform you.”  He couldn’t read any further.  He threw the envelope and its letter across the room.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit!” he shouted.  That was the final rejection notice.  He’d now received one from every single agency he’d sent his book out to.  All but one agency had replied with a form rejection, but one of them had decided to take the time to crush his dreams, and gone through pointing out every fault his book possessed from the “wooden characters” and “asinine plot” to the “copious misused homophones” and “wildly unimaginative concept and title.”
The Rakowski Agency was the last straggler.  Brody could continue to hold out hope until they finally weighed in and let him know if it was a go or a no go.  But now, they had finished him off, crushed his dreams completely at last.  His novel was not going to set the world on fire like Suzanne Collins’ or Veronica Roth’s did.  And he’d thought he’d been so clever in combining both dystopian fiction and vampires.
“Dammit,” he said again, quieter this time.  He was suddenly taken with the idea that perhaps he had read it wrong.  He’d only allowed himself to make it to the “regret to inform you” line, maybe it had said, “we regret to inform you that we’re gonna have to pay double our usual rate to buy your book because it was so awesome!” He knew that was ludicrous, but he couldn’t stop himself from crossing the room, retrieving the letter, and double-checking whether his original assumption of the letter’s contents had been correct.  It had.
His eyes filled with tears.  What was he going to do?  He was out of money again.  He’d spent his way through his Ferrari money, and, now that his book was a failure, had no other options to turn to.  His credit cards were maxed out, and there was no rescue in sight.  After the last time, when he’d returned to Round Table and had his feet pulled off the fire by the mercies of Dr. Claw, he’d sworn he wouldn’t need to return again.  He’d buckled down and finished that book, and it turned out to have done him no good whatsoever.
Now he was in the same situation again.  He had to go back, hat in hand, to the Round Table, looking to be rescued a third time.  Maybe that guy had been right when he said that no one who ever won anything from that machine went away happy.  Brody had thought he’d found happiness with the money that Dr. Claw had dropped in his lap, but when it dried up, he sure did feel miserable.
Well, he thought, I guess it’s time to go back to see Dr. Claw again, and see what kind of a prescription he’ll write for me this time.  But I’ll do that tomorrow.  Tonight, I’m going to get good and roaring drunk.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 9)

Another 854 words today, and I'm all the way to 6,171.  I think I'm getting pretty close to the end here.  Probably only two or three more segments, I think.  Anyway, I've got to put on the links:

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield

And now, here's the new segment:

Brody smiled broadly as his fingers tapped six buttons on the keyboard of his laptop.  Well, five buttons, one of them twice.  “The end,” was what he wrote.  It had taken him two years, and $300,000 to finish it, but his YA dystopian vampire novel was finished.  He’d called it Once Bitten , which he thought was a pretty clever title.  Now, it was time to start sending it around to agents, and watch them fight over it.  He grabbed his latte, took a big gulp, and thought, move over Rowling, move over Meyers, it’s my turn now.
He saved the file, snapped his laptop closed, and stood from his favorite booth.  He’d written probably 90% of his book at that booth.  He’d probably spent, at least a thousand dollars in coffee here, so he didn’t think the Naked Lounge had reason to complain that he occupied it so much, he’d paid his rent.  Now that he was done, it was over to the FedEx store to print a bunch of copies of the book, and then post those copies to the agents he’d already picked out.
It took a long time, and the clerk at the store seemed to be as glad to be rid of him as he was to be rid of the FedEx store when he finally finished the process two and a half hours later.  He was going to be late to meet Tena for lunch, and he didn’t want that.  He pulled up to the Firehouse Restaurant just behind her Prius.  
Tena was looking as amazing as ever, she was even thinner than the last time he’d seen her, and she again didn’t even get a real meal, instead ordering only soup and salad, the tomato bisque and the Oaxacan chicken salad, which she only picked at.  She was starting to look as thin as a supermodel.  She had divorced her husband, just as Brody had hoped for.  Those happy marriages never seem to last in his experience.  Unfortunately, she’d taken up with someone else, her personal trainer at the gym.  Each time they met, she would fill his ears with all the details of her relationship, one time even mentioning the hugeness of his cock, and then looking at Brody as if expecting him to be especially interested with this tidbit. Brody had been depressed for a week after that particular lunch meeting.
“I finished my book, Tena,” Brody announced, “and sent it off to a bunch of agents right before I came to meet you.”
Tena smiled, her shining white teeth beaming down on Brody like moonlight.  “That’s great, Brode.  I’m so glad to hear that.  You’ve been working on that a really long time.”
“Yeah, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It really took a lot of work.”
“It must have.  It took you, what...two years or something?” she asked.
“Yeah, but it’s gonna be amazing.  I can’t wait to hear what the agents have to say about it.”  He really couldn’t wait too long either.  This time around, he’d kept a closer eye on his finances, remaining vigilant, and he was starting to run out.  His funds would probably only last him another few months at best.
“I wish I had good news to tell you about,” Tena said, then her voice broke, and she picked up her napkin and held it in front of her mouth for a moment.  Her shoulders hunched, in fact her whole body seemed to hunch into her hands.
“What is it, Tena?  Are you okay?” Brody asked, concern evident in his tone.  He reached across the table and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Oh, Brody, I think I’m cursed,” she moaned.
“Cursed? I don’t…”
“Oh, it’s Liam.  He and I broke up.  He was sleeping with someone else,”  Brody had to fight to keep a smile from lighting up his face.  This was even better news than the completion of his book.  She was free again, and beside that, she was vulnerable.  This might finally be his chance.
Brody struggled to get the proper expression on his face, then said, “I’m so sorry, Tena.  I’m sorry.”  He slid his chair over next to hers and took her in his arms.  She sniffled and snuffled into his shirt, and he exulted in the feel of her body pressed against his.
“If it makes you feel any better, he didn’t deserve you.  You were way too good for that guy,” Brody said.
A weak smile crossed her face.  “Thanks, Brode.  It’s great to have someone like you to talk to,” she replied.  She hugged him tighter.
What did that mean? he wondered, a really good friend? He wasn’t sure he wanted to be that guy.  “Someone like me?” he asked out loud without meaning to.
She sniffled loudly again, and then said, “you know, a gay friend that I can talk to about relationships without worrying about them having any ulterior motives.”
A gay friend? Brody hung his head, realizing that somehow, he had unwittingly destroyed all his hopes on his own.

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 8)

Another 419 words today.  Another scene in the saga.  I'm up to 5,286.

Before I go on, here's the links to the other participant's sites:

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield

If you're not already reading their stories, you should.  I've always thought that the coolest thing about Broken Mirror events is seeing how everyone starts with the same premise but has such vastly different stories.  Personally, I haven't read their stories yet, because I don't want to taint mine in any way, and I feel that I would bring something from theirs if I did, or I would think, "their story is good and mine sucks, I should give up now."  I don't want either of those things to happen, so I'm waiting until I'm done to go over and read theirs.

Anyway, off we go to storyland:

Brody’s name was on the papers in the glove box of the roadster.  The car was his, but it was a temporary relationship.  It was less of a temptation to keep it than one might think.  Yes, it was an awesome car, but Brody had some serious bills to pay.  Yes, it would be the ultimate chick magnet, but Brody didn’t even really know how to drive a stick shift, so he wasn’t going to be impressing anyone jerking and stalling his way down the street.  
He had to take it out and drive it, because...well, it was a Ferrari, but he found that he couldn’t do anything with it.  He couldn’t even take it out on the freeway and get it up to speed, because he didn’t trust himself not to make a fatal error while shifting and crash the thing.
He needed money more than anything, so he took the car to the Ferrari dealership, and sold it back to them.  According to Google, a new Ferrari 458 Spider sells for around $257,412 dollars.  A rather specific number, but it’s what came up when he searched.  Brody knew he wouldn’t get that much for his Ferrari, despite the fact that it was in mint condition.  He, like most people, had heard the adage at least a hundred times that a car’s value decreases significantly the second you drive it off the lot.  From what Brody could tell, this Ferrari hadn’t been taken off the lot at all.  When he got in it the first time in the parking lot outside Round Table, the odometer preposterously still read zero.  Zeros all the way across the dial.  But of course he couldn’t argue that fact with anyone and expect them to accept it.
            The folks at the Neillo dealership were pretty cool with him though, they said they had several people who had been asking after a used 458 Spider, and when Brody walked off their lot, he was $200,000 richer, and one beautiful car poorer.  So, despite it actually being worth less in actuality, since Jason and Todd hadn’t been with him and he could keep all the money for himself, the Ferrari turned out to be more valuable to him than the lottery ticket.  With that kind of money in his bank account, he could relax again, pay his bills off, and finally get that novel written.  Maybe there was still a way to get into Tena's affections as well.  Things were looking up again.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 7)

Okay, got some more words written.  But before we go there, the links to the others in the contest:

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield

Alright, got another 566 words in, putting me at a grand total of 4,866.  Here you go:

            Brody slipped the quarter into the coin slot, and it lurched to life again.  He couldn’t try to aim for something, because what he was hoping for wasn’t visible in the pile.  The last time he’d aimed for a plush football, and from somewhere beside it--or from a wormhole into the ether--the claw had grabbed the lottery ticket.  The Oakland Raiders plush football was no longer in the machine.  Someone must have won it, or perhaps there was a guy who came out and rotated the toys in the machine.  He had no idea how the upkeep of claw vending machines worked.
With his mind mind drifting back to the first time he’d won, he remembered Jason’s imitation of the Toy Story character.  A movie line sprang into his mind, but it was from a different flick.  He found himself trying to imitate the line out loud like Jason had the first time around.
“Ooh, watch yourself. It's the claw. Ooh, the claw's comin' at ya. Ooh, you're scared of the claw. You're scared of the claw.”  His impression of a cheesy Cary Elwes from Liar, Liar was not nearly as spot on as Jason’s alien had been.  Jason really had some kind of talent for voices.  He probably should have gone into a line of work that would utilize it.  He could have been the next Mel Blanc in Brody’s opinion.  Despite Brody's lack of expertise, saying the quote out loud gave him a feeling of confidence.  It was almost as if he had said the words for the spell, and now the magic was doing its work.
Brody hit the drop button, and the claw fell into the pile of stuffed animals.  It appeared, as it always did, to have secured nothing at all in its clutches, but when it started to rise, Brody noticed that it had something dangling from one of its fingers, something strange.  Brody blinked, and realized that it was a key ring.  There was one of those fancy new electronic keys.  The top end was large and red, and on it was a yellow crest with a black horse rearing up majestically in the middle of it.  Brody knew that crest from somewhere, but he wasn’t sure what it was.
The claw returned to its start position and  dropped the key into the basket.  Smiling broadly, Brody pulled the key from the machine.  It wasn’t a lottery ticket, but this was definitely something worth a lot of money.  This was the key to a new car.  His smile faltered as he wondered just where exactly the car that this key belonged to might be.  The key wasn’t worth much on its own.
Holding the key out in front of him like a trophy, he walked out the door to survey the parking lot outside.  It was relatively deserted, apparently the rain had kept most people at home getting delivery instead of heading out to eat in a pizza restaurant.  There were only about twelve cars nearby, and of those, one jumped out immediately as the special one of the bunch.  It was sleek, and low, and bright red.  On the hood of this dangerous, growling beast of a car was the same yellow crest adorned with a rearing horse.  The symbol finally clicked home in his mind.  It was a Ferrari.  Dr. Claw had just given him the keys to a Ferrari.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 6)

More from my story.  But first, link list:

Okay, so I wrote another 492, getting us to 4,325 total.  Hope you're having fun with the story.  I am.  I found myself unable to stop writing today, even though I had more important and pressing things to do.  That's a neat and unusual experience for me.  This writing thing might work out after all.

Here we go:

    He stood outside the restaurant in the storm.  He let the rain pour down on him, even turning his face to the sky to allow it to pound him down further.  It was really coming down, and it only took five minutes for his clothes to be completely soaked through.  He hung his head back down, put it in his hands, and sobbed.  
Then he heard a clicking sound from his right.  He looked over, and saw a Round Table employee taking a smoke break.  There was another click as the man flicked his lighter, and tried to get his cigarette lit in the wet, windy storm.
    “Hell of a night, huh?” he said.
    “Hey, don’t I know you?” Brody said, raising a finger to point at the man.
    “Huh?” he said, “I don’t think so.”
    “No, I do.  You’re the guy who told me not to play the claw machine, because it would only make me unhappy.”
    “Doesn’t sound familiar, man.  I think you must be confusing me with someone else,” said the man.
    “Well, it was a while ago, so I’m not surprised you don’t remember.  But still, it was pretty weird.  Why would you tell me a claw machine game would make me unhappy?”
    “Wasn’t me, buddy,” the man said, “so I can’t tell you.”
    “Well, you were wrong anyway,” Brody said, “I wasn’t unhappy.  I won the fucking lottery because of that machine.  It gave me a fucking winning lottery ticket, so you couldn’t have been more wrong.”
    “Okay, buddy, whatever you say,” he said, “but all I can say is that you don’t look so happy right now to me.”
    “I’m--” Brody stopped, the man was right.  He wasn’t happy.  He may have been happy up until that day he took Tena out to Mulvaney’s and discovered he was out of money, but he wasn’t happy anymore.  Those people who said money didn’t buy happiness were so wrong.  He’d never been more happy than when he had money, and now that it was gone, he was miserable.  “I just need a quarter,” he finally said.
    “What?” the Round Table employee asked.
    “I just need a quarter is all.”
    “You’re out here crying like a man whose only child just got run over by a truck and died, and it’s because you need a quarter?”
    Brody shrugged, “Yeah.”
    “If I give you one, will you go away, and let me have my smoke break in peace?”
    “Sure,” Brody said, his voice sounding hopeful for the first time.
    The man dug in his pocket.  “Here, buddy, take this and get out of here, all right?”
    Brody caught the quarter out of the air.  “Thanks, man,” he told the Round Table employee, and turned and walked back inside.  Brody didn’t see the look on the man’s face as he raised the cigarette to his lips to take another drag, but if he had, he might have reconsidered using the quarter.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Broken Mirror Shards - Dr. Claw (Day 5)

Here's the link list again:

Bria Burton
Rish Outfield

And here's day five.  I wrote 561 more, putting me at 3,808.

Here you go:

    “Come on, Dr. Claw!” Brody shouted, “Help me out here!”  He punched the side of the machine, and then kicked it as well for good measure, as the claw came slowly back to the start position and opened up to let the big wad of nothing it had grabbed fall into the hopper.  Brody had exchanged a ten dollar bill for a roll of quarters five minutes after arriving at the Round Table.  He’d used up all seven of the quarters he’d found in his various change jars he had around his apartment quickly, and needed some more.
    The workers at this pizzeria were probably standing by on the phone with the police, just waiting for him to lose control and start breaking things up.  After all, an adult standing in their lobby for an hour, playing his way through 46 quarters, shouting and cursing at the machine the whole time, surely seemed primed to start some trouble.  Brody knew just how crazy he looked, but he couldn’t give up hope.  Dr. Claw had saved him once.  He knew, deep in his heart he knew it would save him again.
    But now he was down to his last quarter.  He didn’t have any others, and he didn’t have any money to get more.  A quarter was only a quarter, so he could probably get another somehow, but he couldn’t help thinking that now was his chance.  The magic was crackling in the air right now, and if he didn’t win something now, it would be gone when he came back with some other quarter scrounged out of his couch.
    “Okay,” he said, “Mysterious Force, whatever you are that is in charge of this machine and gave me the lottery ticket last time, please help me out here.  I’m desperate.  I need your help again.”  He plugged in his quarter, his last quarter, and the machine sprang to life. Brody closed his eyes, and guided the joystick by feel and instinct alone.  He imagined himself like Luke Skywalker, turning off his targeting computer and firing the proton torpedoes when the force told him to.  He let off the joystick, and hit the drop button.
    He opened his eyes, and watched the claw plunge into the stuffed animals.  It tilted on its side, and lay there like a dead bird, shot from its perch high in the trees.  Then the chain began drawing it back up.  This was the point where Todd had noticed that Brody had actually won something special.  Brody had already been convinced that it had been a bust, just like he was now, but then it had risen out of the pile of fur and fluff with a most odd prize in its grasp.
    He watched this time, as the claw rose. The claw from the turn he had bought with his last quarter rose out of the stuffed animals completely empty-handed.  Brody felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach.  He felt physically sick.  He could have turned and vomited all over the lobby floor if only there had been something in his stomach, but he’d spent his money on the claw machine instead of pizza.
    He stood for a moment in front of the machine.  He breathed deeply, slowly, with his eyes shut.  Then he turned, and walked out of the restaurant with his head held low.