As is usually the case with Christmas, one of my favorite gifts are iTunes gift cards. My first purchase this year was the film Inception, which I’d never seen until now (my review of it: amazing). My second was the soundtrack to the film. It is absolutely perfect. I’d recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Hans Zimmer’s work. It’s been the soundtrack behind a short story I’ve been working on and makes great music to write to.

Gone bad

It’s safe to assume green is not the proper color of a hot dog frank.

As a public service I’m going to let you know it’s best to discover this fact before biting into the hot dog.

Wasting words

Earlier in the month, I decided to take the rest of the year off from writing things on Twitter and Facebook. It was an effort to spend less time posting and less time worrying about what the rest of the world is up to.

I’ve noticed one big change since then. My writing has increased dramatically. It’s almost as if there is a finite well of words that I draw from every day. Once that well of words is used up each day, I’m usually tired and don’t really want to string together coherent sentences. A good chunk of those words are applied to things like email and daily communication. The remaining set can either be used for writing I care about, or things like social media. It’s as though I’ve reclaimed all those thousands of words I post on Twitter and Facebook and they are now flowing in much more creative and productive ways.

I’m still a huge fan of Twitter (my hatred of Facebook goes way back) but I think my use of it in 2011 will be greatly reduced. It has it’s place, certainly, but it will no longer be a place where I waste words.

Rings and string

We all sat around the tree, looking at the gifts underneath it, and the secrets they held. Becca was pulling them out one by one and checking to make sure one of our helpful cats hadn’t already opened them for us.

She picked up one that was in a small blue and white paper envelope. Written in red marker on the front were the words “To: Mom, From: Conner.”

“Conner,” she said, “This one has a small hole in it.

“I know,” he said in an exasperated voice, “I told Colton there was a ring in there I bought you and he wanted to feel it so he started squeezing it and poked a hole in it.”

“You told Colton there was a what in there?” Becca asked. We all stared at Conner in shock. He had worked so hard not to tell us what he’d bought. And now, hours before we were to open them, he revealed the secret.

“I…I…I,” he stuttered.

“Did you say you bought me string?” Becca asked innocently.

His eyes widened, seeing a way out of this mess. “Yes, yes! I bought you string. It’s beautiful string. Sorry I told you that.” Conner then slapped his forehead. “That was so, so close,” he said under his breath.

We all laughed until we cried.

Living characters

One of the interesting things to me about writing fiction is watching how the story takes on a life of its own and how characters grow beyond their original sketch.

My usual method of writing is to get an idea I’m excited about. I’ll then very quickly write out a chapter or two. At that point I’ll usually get stuck and have to go write a proper outline for the entire story. Over time, that outline moves and changes. Some ideas are discarded and new ones are added in.

What’s really interesting, though, is the characters. They all start as a name and basic description. A very broad sketch of a person. As I begin to write for them they grow beyond that. Some grow in rather unexpected directions as I begin to evaluate dialogue and actions. I begin to think “would this person really do this?” and it begins to inform the story.

The funny part comes when it’s time to kill a character. Sometimes I will have outlined a character’s death in the beginning. When it comes time to actually write the scene, however, I find I’ve really become fond of the character and don’t particularly want to kill them off. Other times I become surprisingly attached to a character and realize that killing them would bring the most emotional moment possible. So, off with their heads.

To me, that is the exciting part of writing. It’s like planting a seed in the ground. I know what kind of tree it will be when it’s grown, but all the intricacies of its growth can never be predicted.

A white Christmas

December 20th, 2010.

I spent a few hours today shopping.

I did it in shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

The only white this Christmas will be my legs showing as I wear shorts through the holiday season.


I’m fairly good at video games. Given about 30 minutes I can usually become proficient at any game. Being a child of the Nintendo generation, that’s not really surprising.

A few months ago I downloaded a demo to a game. Despite my best efforts, even after an hour, I couldn’t master the complicated controls. I simply decided the game wasn’t for me.

One day Colton tried out the demo and loved it. It’s only a 30-minute demo, but he played it over and over when he had time on the Xbox. I walked in two days ago to see him playing it again. His character effortlessly tossed a bundle of C4 onto a satellite dish that was obviously his target. In the middle of clicking the detonator, he managed to dispatch three guards who were trying to stop him. As the flames from the explosion shot out, he ran to the edge of the tall building and leapt out into the void, letting gravity take hold. I watched as his character rolled in mid air and reached his arm out toward a passing helicopter. A grappling hook covered the distance between the chopper and his character’s hand in seconds and the man was sped away to safety.

I was amazed at what Colton had done as his fingers flew across the controller. He was having the character perform stunts that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger shy away. I had trouble making the character shoot straight or even walk to the left for that matter.

It’s entirely about dedication. I tried for an hour and gave up. My character will never do more than run in circles and become a magnet for enemy bullets. I didn’t put time into it.

Colton’s character deftly moved about the world, dodging enemies and destroying targets. He made it look simple. The truth was he’d put a lot of time into making it look that way.

Most people will tell you they don’t know much of the Bible because they don’t read well. Then, those same people will spend hours upon hours every week reading about things they are dedicated to. We struggle and struggle to spend regular time reading the word of God. And yet it’s effortless for us to find time for entertainment.

It’s all about dedication. I’m dedicated to a lot of things and because of that, I’m very good at them. I don’t know as much of the Bible as I should. When something bad happens, my first reaction is anger instead of prayer. All because the priority of what I’m dedicated to is out of balance. I’m not doing New Year’s Resolutions this year. Instead, I’m simply praying that God will help me be more dedicated to things that matter.

Thanks Jack Daniels…um…I mean Nyquil

We’ve all been fighting a low-level cold for the last few days. I decided to take two Nyquil last night and get a good night’s sleep. A few really weird dreams later, I woke up. I reached over and grabbed my phone off the bedside table to check the time. 11:30 in the morning?

Twelve hours of sleep.

And then I made it through most of the rest of the day in a fog. Until about three, when I needed a few more hours of sleep in the form of a restful nap.

Really, what do they put in Nyquil?