Category Archives: writing

Hurts like hell to publish my inner-most thoughts and feelings

Any sensible writer or blogger knows the act of writing inner-most thoughts and feelings is analogous to swallowing a tortilla chip with a sore throat—painful!  But it’s the act of publishing our writing that really wratchets up the risk we take as writers.

risk by avifain is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
risk by avifain is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

To write well requires an immense leap of faith.  My current publishing struggle can be summarized in the form of the question, How or when is someone going to use my words against me in the future?

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Writing immersive interactive fiction using near field communication (NFC) tags

I found a drawer full of near field communication tags and remembered this article I wrote a few years back.

Today's Author

Talented fiction writers are skilled at drawing upon their readers’ five senses–sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  But what if a writer had a way to truly immerse their readers into an environment where one could literally smell the zeppoles from the carnival stand or feel the forceful rush of wind from a moving passenger train past the platform?  The technology exists—sort of—in the form of near field communication (NFC) tags paired with mobile smartphone and tablet technology.

NFC tags are a form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that cost mere pennies and are often sold in the form of self-adhesive stickers.  Requiring no self-contained power, NFC tags are easily programmed from freely-available software.  And when an NFC tag is physically “tapped” by an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, the tag issues commands to the smartphone to take an action like setting an alarm, starting an application, or for the purpose…

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Quest: Writing and Playing Text Adventure and Interactive Fiction

I read an article this morning about text adventure games and was reminded of this article I wrote a few years ago.

Today's Author

I recently stumbled upon Quest, software created and distributed under an open-source license by Alex Warren for individuals to write and play text adventure games and interactive fiction.  The platform is extremely flexible, allowing reading/playing in either a web browser, downloading to a PC for offline play, and even allowing the option for creating mobile application distributions.

Writing Quest Stories

Quest comes in two varieties for writing your own stories.  You can either download the open-source software for Microsoft Windows OS to create your masterpiece locally on your machine, or you can create a free account on the website to build your story online.  Key features include:

  • No programming skills needed
  • A full tutorial with illustrative examples
  • Write your story in any language
  • Ability to embed pictures, sound, and video
  • Encouragement to share your creation

Here’s an example of the web-editing interface:

Quest-Web-Editor

Reading/Playing Quest Stories

The homepage for Quest, http://textadventures.co.uk/

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Hook readers simply by writing more descriptive post titles

While participating in online communities for writers I often hear others ask, “How can I gain more readership to my blog or site?”

newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

My answer:  Use a more descriptive post title so that a reader is compelled to read on. And no, this doesn’t give you liberty to write click-bait titles like, You won’t believe what she did next!  

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Managing the list of unfinished stories

For months my brain felt distracted by the list of unfinished stories that are spread across the ‘My Documents’ folder of my laptop.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  This morning I better organized my writing into two folders:

  • Completed
  • Work-In-Progress (WIP)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
diary writing by Fredrik Rubensson is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I have fourteen unfinished stories in my writing portfolio.  That count excludes a half-dozen, one-sentence descriptions I maintain of future projects.

I can breathe a bit easier now.  I went into this exercise expecting to find about thirty unfinished stories.  I’m not entirely pleased with fourteen, but my next step this week will be to pare that back to a more manageable, single-digit number.

I don’t necessarily want to delete drafted narrative text, but it may come down to that in order to satisfy my mental well-being.  I suppose I will distill the text back down to a one-sentence description and keep that available in my idea file.

Flash Fiction: Port of Call

I wrote this piece of Flash Fiction in 2011 from a 12-Aug-2011 prompt, however the original source was forgotten.

Include each of these items in your story. Priest, ring, magnifying glass, cat.

San Francisco by Jeff Gunn is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
San Francisco by Jeff Gunn is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

“Lock the door,” said Alvin, “and have a seat over there on the couch.”  The boy said nothing but complied with the request.  “On second thought, draw the blinds closed, too.  One can never be too careful.”

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Is SEO to blame for the recent trend of poor article substance?

I must have missed the memo informing writers that the tried and true adage, Write what you know was replaced in the last decade by Write to achieve SEO criteria. As a result, readers interested in learning more about a topic unknowingly consume watered-down content that lacks nuance, entertainment factor, and author’s voice in exchange for a few upticks in search engine rank.

Charcoal grill by Joery Bruijntjes is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Charcoal grill by Joery Bruijntjes is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, is basically about crafting a website’s content in a way that emphasizes the subject topic so that it appears higher in a search engine’s results, thereby increasing the probability the content will be found by readers.

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Flash Fiction: Skippy & Mrs. Kribshaw

I wrote this piece of Flash Fiction in 2012 from the 25-Dec-2012 Write Now Prompt posted at Today’s Author.

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the Christmas lights went out…


IMG_7500 by chapman_photography is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
IMG_7500 by chapman_photography is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the Christmas lights went out.

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Flash Fiction: Rose Brand Curtains

Back in November 2010 a friend e-mailed me the message below.  The note struck me as being funny; it seemed random and perhaps intended for another recipient. Here’s the original e-mail and the quick response I cranked out to him. I made a couple edits to protect the innocent and make the posting blog-friendly.

Thanh's S2k01unmarked by joenguyen112 is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Thanh’s S2k01unmarked by joenguyen112 is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

—–Original Message—–

From: Brice

Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 7:20 PM

To: Matt

Subject: Rose brand curtains?

Have you ever heard of rose brand curtains? I ended up sitting next to one of their salesmen today on the plane to Atlanta. Seemed like a good guy.


Do not believe him. He is not who he says he is. I’m surprised he had the audacity to reveal himself to you.

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Flash Fiction: The Smuggler

“Good evening, Mr. Stock.  Please step over here so we may have a look in that backpack, please,” bellowed the school’s vice principal, Mr. Stuckley.  “Planning to do homework at the homecoming dance, are we?”

Trophies by Mr.Fink's Finest Photos is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Trophies by Mr.Fink’s Finest Photos is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I turned my head to see who Mr. Stuckley was speaking to.  So did the two volunteer mothers manning the ticket table, and I found amusement as both their facial expressions drew noticeably uncomfortable once seeing the target of Mr. Stuckley’s attention.  It was Adam Stock, another sophomore in my class who was dressed-to-impress this evening wearing black jeans, a tuxedo-printed t-shirt, polished cowboy boots, and a top hat that would make Slash envious.

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