Breaking Bad versus Game of Thrones

At the balcony of my Air BnB, I’m facing what might be the only (and loudest) water feature in all of Houston proper. I’m exaggerating of course, but not much. Even a retention pond is hard to find here, never mind a natural water feature. The Buffalo Bayou, slowly flowing about a mile south from my location, is remarkable in how unremarkable it is. It’s just there, a barely moving river way down in a ditch that splits the road and floods when a tropical depression hangs around for too long. Speaking of which, there’s a giant storm brewing a few near Corpus Cristi a few hours south. We expected heavy rain this morning, but so far, so good.

(more…)

In Writing as in Life, Let Your Subconcious Do The Work

I have officially been edged out of my house and have made a little office for myself in the garage. The contractors have made their way from the third floor, all the way to the first floor of my house, working their way down and repainting the entire thing along the way. Eventually, they will blow out the garage, and I will be stuck on my front lawn as I supervise the job and keep them moving along. We’ve been under construction in this house for most of the time we’ve lived here, thanks to the hurricane, so I know I need to stick around while the work gets done.

(more…)

A Time Travel Rabbit Hole

I have spent the better part of the day packing boxes, getting them ready for movers to wisk away into the portable storage container that’s sitting on my driveway. The moving company is called College Hunks Movers. I saw them advertised someplace, and called and that was that. I don’t shop around unless Steve makes me. They are reputable enough to have a customer service script, so when I called to book my movers the lady on the phone said,

“How many hunks will you be needing for your move?”

All I’m saying is these guys who show up tomorrow better be hunks. And better be enrolled in college.

(more…)

How to Get Started Writing Book Reviews

My first opportunity to write a book review came when the editor of Task & Purpose emailed me and asked if I wanted to review a fiction anthology titled, The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War. At the time, I had already written a few articles for them and should have kept going, working my way toward being on their shortlist of contributors to call. But alas, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time.

(more…)

How to go From Concrete to Abstract in Personal Essays

Yesterday one of my best friends stationed in Germany messaged me to say she was bombing into Texas for 24 hours on some military-related duty. Unfortunately, it was San Antonio, not Houston, where she would make her Texas pit stop.

“It’s not that far!” I had said, “It’s only three hours. I’ll come with Penny. We’ll have a girls’ trip. We’ll spend the night. We’ll see the Alamo!” I made the mistake of telling Penny. She packed her school bag with a set of pajamas and a stuffy.

(more…)

Use A Grammar Word Processor

Yesterday I said I would talk about the Hemingway App, so here goes. The Hemingway App is a word processor technically, but it does more than run a spell check on your text the way Microsoft Word does. The Hemingway App doesn’t do spell check at all. The Hemingway App is tuned to pick up passive voice, hard to read sentences, and the overuse of complicated words. The New Yorker did a story on it, which I found interesting. For this post, I’m calling applications that go beyond spell check, grammar word processors, rather than just word processors. I won’t review the Hemingway App, but here’s a decent overview if you’re interested.

(more…)