Birthday Gift Report 2012

I had a wonderful 30th birthday.

I took the day off to spend with my family. We got to sleep in (and with a one-month old, this was a miracle in itself). We went out to a wonderful lunch at On The Border. I had my best day ever on my blog (104, just saying). And I got a pile of wonderful gifts, courtesy of my wife and my extended family.

Let me offer a disclaimer to the rest of this post. The best part of my birthday was being able to spend it with family. The gifts are all wonderful, but mean less than a toot to me in comparison to that. I just don’t want anyone thinking that I’m being braggy about my new stuff or that my priorities are messed up.

Okay, now you can look at my awesome gifts.

Here’s the rundown.

On Writing by Stephen King – Many writer’s have talked about how influential this book has been on their lives as writers. I look forward to finding out what all the fuss is about.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin – The second in the Song of Ice and Fire series following A Game of Thrones. By the way, the book discussion for A Game of Thrones is happening this Thursday. Drop me a note if you are planning on coming and haven’t told me yet.

While Mortals Sleep by Kurt Vonnegut – I didn’t even know that this book existed, and Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors. While Mortals Sleep is a collection of his previously unpublished short fiction. I’m only about 80 pages in so far, but I have no idea why this was not published until now. I’ll do a full book review later though.

Cuisenart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Coffee Mill – If you are going to get a coffee grinder, a burr grinder is the way to go. It is the best way to have uniformly ground coffee beans for use in making any kind of coffee.

Black Crema Coffee Press by Bodum – This is an 8-cup french press to go with my coffee grinder. I’ve been spending too much time and money by going out for coffee when I could be staying at home for writing nights. This is the perfect way to fuel my caffeine-driven writing fests.

Meijer Organics Whole Bean Coffee – To use in the grinder and the french press. Pure Arabica beans means a smoother, less acidic cup of joe. Good stuff.

Homestead Cobs-a-Twirl Squirrel Feeder – My wife knows how every year I put a squirrel feeder on my birthday list and every year I don’t get one. Well, I didn’t put it on my list this year, but this is the year that I got it. I have it installed already, but so far, the squirrels seem wary of it. Anyway, I can’t wait to watch them figure out how to get the corn from the feeder. The box says it is fun for squirrels, but I am inclined to believe that the only one getting any fun out of this contraption is me.

Biggby Gift Card – For those nights when I want to go out for my very favorite coffee drink, Biggby’s Frozen Mint Mocha. Oh man, they are good.

On The Border Gift Card (not pictured) – Already used it and took advantage of the fact that I am on the OTB email list and get special deals for my birthday. My wife and I got free queso and a free dessert and the gift card covered the rest of our meal.

I could not have asked for a nicer birthday, nor a nicer set of gifts. I can’t wait to read all of my new books and report to you my thoughts. Thanks again to all of you who wished me a happy birthday on here or on my Facebook page. All of your wishes came true.

I am a cliché.

I admit it. I write in coffee shops. But I refuse to admit that I do it so people will look at me and think that I am cool for being a writer who writes in coffee shops. I know that people are really thinking, “Wow, I didn’t think people actually did that.”

Well I do. And here are my reasons why:

I have a lovely wife and daughter at home with whom I would rather spend time. Seriously, I love my family. If given the choice, I would choose spending time with them over just about anything. (“Why are you choosing to write then?” you ask. Sometimes I wonder myself, but there are stories in my head that need to get out, lest I go crazy).

I need some noise around me but not directly involving me. I can focus best when I have a bit of ambient noise like music, or traffic, or chairs scraping the floor, or the susurrus of quiet conversation.

I do not see the chores that need to be done from the coffee shop. Dishes, laundry, and making the bed are very hard to do when I am not home. They are all good things to do, but good things don’t like to leave room for potentially great things (Listen to me acting like my writing is a great thing! Such audacity!). I am forced to focus on my writing when it is the only activity available away from home.

I like tasty coffee drinks that I do nothing to prepare except order. And though I know that my wife loves me enough to prepare me tasty coffee drinks, I do not want to ask her to do that. I also like to tell myself that I am stimulating my local economy.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am a cliché. But if you like my reasons and decide to try it for yourself, you may want to ease into it. Here are a few ideas of the top of my head to avoid looking like a cliché coffee shop writer: sit in a dark corner, dress in a non-writerly way (maybe full football gear?), shout out gamer terminology at random (Noobz!), and anytime someone gets close enough to see your screen, alt-tab it to a Google search for “How not to intimidate your friends with how cool you are.”

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Meet the Cast Tuesday | Mr. Potsibald and Hezekiah

Today, we’ll meet a couple more characters from the Thom & Tom series. In case this is your first time here, my Thom & Tom stories fall into the category of flash fiction, meaning that they are quite short (see an example here). If we wanted to get more technical, they are anthropomorphic in nature, as all of the characters are animals (and one goblin) who take on characteristics of humanity, like speech.

Anyway, enough about literary devices and on to the characters.

This is a chipmunk. It does not sing and dance. It does drink massive amounts of coffee.Mr. Potsibald – Mr. Potsibald is the owner of the Jittery Chipmunk, the local coffee house in town where Thom and Tom enjoy a hot cup of chai. True to the stereotype, if chipmunks can be stereotyped that is, and if a chipmunk stereotype portrays chipmunks as energetic and slightly insane, Mr. Potsibald is energetic and slightly insane. This could be because of his raging caffeine addiction, a condition almost certainly aggravated by the fact that he owns a coffee house.

Hezekiah – Hezekiah is Tom’s imaginary friend. Life certainly can be difficult when you are the imaginary friend of a squirrel’s invisible roommate. In spite of this, Hezekiah seems reasonably well adjusted, or at least as well-adjusted as Tom imagines him to be. Anyway, it would probably be better if you didn’t get attached to Hezekiah, so I won’t give many reasons to love him.

Just out of curiosity…