Finding God in a Coffee Shop

Coffee is a big part of my life these days. More accurately, a Biggby part (heh heh heh).

Deal with it.

Sorry.

*Ahem* In addition to my book, I’m working on several other time-consuming projects, [Insert shameless plug for my new YouTube channel, Dashing Nerds*] and sometimes faith and a little caffeine is all that gets me through it. Ask my writing group how wired I was at the last meetup!

Coffee = life’s cheat code for a good night’s sleep.

Although I’m not blogging as much as I would like, I do take the occasional moment to Tweet my progress. Twitter is to writing as Tinder is to dating. Don’t read too much into that.

To be honest, I didn’t want to burden your newsfeed with how much life is beating me into a pulp.

Can’t I just stay home and not speak to anyone, like ever?

Authors can relate that there is, at times, an agonizing grind where you question every keystroke. I’ve lost count of my revisions.

Maybe I’m not cut out for this.

But then, there are the little moments in coffee shops. Unfolding scenes that invade your schedule and take your routine hostage. They make you laugh. Sometimes, they offer glimpses of grace and hope. God speaks to me in them. He gently reminds me that I love writing, that I love my life.

So Happy Monday to my fellow writers and adventurers. I hope you’ll keep your eyes open for these little moments that inspire you. I’m just reminding you that your life has a story worth telling. Keep going.

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The Writing Life: As Told by Turtles

Summer is finally here in Michigan! It arrived with blistering heat this weekend and no shortage of distractions. I am doing my best to flee from these, but the Social Obligation Committee seems more intense in the sun; I’ve come to the conclusion it is powered by solar energy and tequila.

Attempting to run from social obligations….

These socialites simply don’t understand that I do not want to go to the bar every night because I have to get up early. My daily regiment starts at 5 a.m..

“But why would you do that?” they ask, blinking.
“Because,” I say with a smile, I enjoy being as miserable as possible.”

And I am sarcastic. I can’t express to them how incredibly fulfilled I am after a productive morning at the keyboard. But non-writers don’t get it. If I were not sarcastic, I’d sound like a walking greeting card spouting out vague proverbs on following my dreams and catching mythical worms in the wee hours of the morning. I won’t show them the detailed schedule I have written out because I don’t feel like revealing the extent of my lunacy.

So what do I look like at 5 a.m.?

I am no Zen master.

In theory, I go on my morning jog with our foster dog to warm up my brain cells. I should be done with this and showered by 5:30 a.m., and at my writing desk with coffee by 5:45 a.m. That leaves me two hours to write before I leave for work.

In reality, I am still in bed, wallowing in self-loathing at the productive, aspiring version of myself that came up with this hair-brained agenda. When I make it out the door, usually not before 6am, I am a zombie.

It’s safe to say our Shiba Inu walks me.

Zombies suffering from sleep depravation are not particularly excellent dog walkers. Especially when you have a Shiba Inu hybrid with the strength of the Hulk. So when I finally make it to my computer, I am crabby, still sleepy, and have lost an hour of writing time. Whenever I attempt to do a shortcut by skipping the run, I fall asleep at my desk.

Sometimes, when my husband comes in to check on me, he finds me in the most cherubic of states.

Don’t talk to me right now!

As a result of my body rebelling against my Muse’s desire to put words on the page, my writing has, well, slowed. But as we learned from the race of the hare and the tortoise, I firmly believe that if I continue the race and continue pacing myself, I will make it to the finish line with an story worth telling.

Rhetorical Routines

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

We’ve all heard it: “Write every day.”

Oh, brother. I know what I am *supposed* to be doing.

Easier said than done, right?

If you’re like me, you’ve got a 99+ things demanding your attention. And they’re probably important. Things like fitting in exercise, or spending quality time with your family, or putting in extra hours at your 9-to-5 job. You can’t give them up, but they seem to do everything in their power to make you want to quit; they won’t hesitate to pry you away from your keyboard with a crowbar and rob you of your energy.

What do you mean ‘do the laundry’?!

And then, when you’re finally ready to open your laptop again, your muses have abandoned you at the dreaded Wall of Surmounting Excuses and Missed Opportunities.

It’s a demoralizing, guilt-ridden place to be.

Fortunately, I’m not the first fool who decided to up and write a novel. Plenty of crazies have gone ahead, and they’ve been kind enough to bring back words of wisdom from the top to those of us still in the mire. It’s their advice I fall back on whenever I run into that accursed wall. And thanks to the powers of the internets, much of this advice is accessible.

Wow, I love YouTube interviews.

So how do they answer the question of daily writing? Writer’s Digest interviewed Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), and she had this to say:

“… Part of writing is not so much that you’re going to actually write something every day, but what you should have, or need to have, is the possibility, which means the space and the time set aside—as if you were going to have someone come to tea. If you are expecting someone to come to tea but you’re not going to be there, they may not come, and if I were them, I wouldn’t come. So, it’s about receptivity and being home when your guest is expected, or even when you hope that they will come.”

Okay, alright, that sounds fair. I already think of my characters as living, and feel guilt when I ignore them, so I suppose I could be a bit more…hospitable. But how can I possibly set the time aside?

And that’s when THIS “little” infographic hit the net. It depicts the different waking hours of Pulitzer Prize winners. And guess what? Many woke up to write at 4AM.

Were they crazy? Probably! Did they drink a lot of coffee? Most definitely. But to write when the rest of the world is still sleeping? That’s brilliant.

So, I’m starting my new routine: get up an hour earlier to write, and read for at least an hour each day. It’s an uphill battle, but I know I will get stronger with every step I take! Wish me luck!

Tens of Thousands of Singles Suffer Mental Disorder Nearing Valentine’s Day

Feb. 122015


In the past six months, Americans spent more time glued to social media feeds than ever before. The country’s sanity hinged on notifications detailing the latest prevention information and safety protocols from the recent illness outbreaks. But in diligently scanning their newsfeeds, many unintentionally exposed themselves to another health threat, and it’s spreading faster than Ebola in a port-o-potty.

Social Temporary Annoying Hipster Posting (STAHP) is described by Dr. Yuu Lovejoy (M.D) as a devastating and invasive mental disorder impacting single men and women using social media near Valentine’s Day.

“This week alone, we have seen a 44% increase of cases. That’s about 1 in every 2.5 single adult using Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.”

The symptoms of Social Temporary Annoying Hipster Posting may include:

  • Urge to justify relationship status through hashtags and impulse selfies
  • Repeating phrases like: “I don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend, I have ______.”
  • Spamming newsfeeds hourly with Jezebel and Buzzfeed articles about the smugly single life
  • RSVPing “Attending” to any Anti-Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day events
  • Setting status to “In a Relationship with Myself”

According to Dr. Lovejoy, STAHP sufferers experience a temporary drastic personality shifts triggered by Valentine’s Day.

“They become fixated on talking down the holiday. One of my patients explained she could only alleviate her symptoms by Tweeting about Valentine’s Day being Hallmark’s propaganda against singles.”

The condition is spread by simply reading too many jaded posts about Valentine’s Day, and is highly contagious. Once exposed, the disorder remains in a dormant state for the rest of the subject’s life.

“You could say it works like Mononucleosis,” Dr. Lovejoy said. “Except ‘kissing disease’ couldn’t be a further misnomer, as it only affects those who we medically define as bitter and forever alone.”

The appearance of a healthy respect for relationships in patients is common, making STAHP completely undetectable at times. To test for the condition, Dr. Lovejoy works closely with psychologist Hannibal Sweeting.

“Dissecting STAHP involves rigorous testing,” said Sweeting. “We expose the patient to photos of happy couples, readings of love poems, and even composition of Valentine’s cards. When they reach for their phones, that’s when we find our answer.”

One indication of STAHP during the tests, explained Sweeting, is reaction by spreading the illness:

Screen Shot 0027-02-12 at 4.14.04 PM

Another typical response is the submissive humorous post, a tell-tale sign of one resigned to their fate:

Screen Shot 0027-02-12 at 4.17.07 PM

Sweeting also described attention-seeking tactics to gain pity, while the subject maintained an attitude of ambivalence:

Screen Shot 0027-02-12 at 4.33.00 PM

“Once we receive one of these reactions, we remove their mobile devices so they cannot do further damage to their loved ones,” Sweeting said. “Assuming they have not already been driven away.”

While Dr. Lovejoy & Sweeting ensured the behavior change is not permanent, lasting damage can be done when symptoms arise.

“It’s important to remember that an illness such as this will impact the entire community, single or not.” Dr. Lovejoy said. “Yesterday, I treated a patient for nausea and vomiting who was overwhelmed by the flood of backhanded comments when he asked what he should do for his wife for the holiday. I had to refer him to a specialist for couple’s counseling.”

Left untreated, severe cases may result in loss of Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

“I’ve lost most of my married subscribers from being an insensitive prick,” said Peter Whistler, a STAHP positive blogger. “This [disorder] is debilitating my lifestyle, and I know that, but…sometimes I see a heart-shaped pizza and I can hear it mocking me. So I post.”

If you are a single adult and are experiencing the symptoms described above, you may be suffering from STAHP. According to Dr. Lovejoy, the best treatment is to avoid social media accounts for the month of February.

“While deleting your apps and staying offline might seem like an inconvenience,” Sweeting said. “In the long run, it will help to develop the self-control necessary for coping with this mental disorder.”

Dr. Lovejoy insisted that if you’re single and using social media, you can help stop STAHP by thinking twice before posting.