Spotify Stalker

Spotify

Everyone at the coffee shop had a Mac except me. This was likely the case all along but the amount of people inside the shop due to the heat wave made it obvious. I bought my PC laptop used on Amazon from guy whose username was a mix of a date – most likely his birthday – and gen one Pokemon. The laptop ran on Windows 7. It wasn’t great in any way but it was mine. I used it to work, play Minecraft and watch porn.

Alex: Enjoying Taylor Swift?

I expected Alex to message me at this point in the afternoon. It was four on the east coast, and I knew by then he’d given up on work for the day.

Me: Maybe I am. I saw you listening to Beyoncé yesterday.

Alex: Yeah, but Beyonce’s done some great stuff. She’s earned my respect.

A man walked over and sat across from me at the back table where I always worked. He pulled from his leather bag a Mac and placed it on the counter. Over the Apple logo was a sticker of a different logo, one I didn’t recognize.

Me: Watch it, buddy or I’ll take you off my friends list.

I watched the man drink a an iced mocha from a large glass he placed next to his Mac. Anything helped, including this back table underneath the AC. I was surprised no one figured this out before this guy.

I wasn’t going to take Alex off my friends list but I did want to see what he’d say. He was the only guy I kept in contact with from high school. This was a recent development. I ran into him at the beach when I was home two months ago. Before then we hadn’t talked in years.

Alex: I’m just fucking with you.

I looked up and noticed the man was waving at me. I pulled out my left earbud.

“Do you mind watching my stuff for a sec?” he asked.

“No problem,” I said.

The man nodded and walked out with his phone in his hand. That guy was like me. He didn’t want to take calls in the coffee shop. That’s just rude, especially when someone’s sitting across from you, enjoying the AC because it’s so damn hot everywhere else.

Me: Yeah I know, sorry about that.

Alex: You haven’t changed since high school. You’re still so sensitive.

Me: Wow man, like you’ve changed so much? Tell your mom and dad I said hi when you go home.

“Thanks man,” the guy said and sat back down.

I nodded, replaced my earbud and looked back to my screen. Nothing. After twenty minutes I saw Alex signed off, or made himself invisible. I scrolled through my Spotify feed and looked at who was listening to what. Most of those I followed I hadn’t talked to in a while.

I stretched my arms and accidentally pulled out my earbuds from the computer jack. Taylor Swift blasted from my laptop speaker. The man looked up to me and laughed, hard. He laughed and shook his head with his eyes shut.

Me: Feel free to jab at me for listening to Taylor Swift whenever.

Whether Alex read my message I wasn’t sure. But that guy’s laughter. It played in my head long after I left the shop and into the heat.

Have a Fiction Blog? Try Sharing on Reddit

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Image Source: Eva Blue. Check her out on flickr!

Like any blogger, I’m always searching for new ways to grow my audience. Nevertheless, as a fiction blogger I understand my needs are quite different from others. My target audience is readers who love fiction. While several social media sites have allowed me to connect with other writers and feel like I’m part of a community, there’s always that challenge to attract visitors to my latest posts.

Enter Reddit. I only started using Reddit this year, and found this to be a great place to share my latest stories. If you’re unfamiliar with Reddit, it’s a social networking site where users can submit links and posts. Everything submitted is organized under categories called “subreddits.” Trust me, you can find a subreddit for anything. Looking for world news? There’s a subreddit for that. Want to join in-depth discussions on the Pokemon universe? There’s a subreddit for that. See where I’m going with this?

I sought out Subreddits that I thought targeted the same audience I wanted for my fiction. While the number of visitors is relatively small (alright, very small), I highly recommend Reddit for fiction bloggers starting out. Furthermore, Reddit allows users to leave comments, so you also benefit from direct feedback.

Disclaimer: Reddit is very strict about spamming subreddits with your posts. The general rule, according to kissmetrics, is that only one out of ten submissions can be of your own content. Overposting can result in your account being banned, so it’s important to adhere to this rule. It’s also important to read the rules of each subreddit and structure your post accordingly.

With all that being said, Below are a two subreddits that I’ve used to share my stories:

  • r/shortstories

    For people who enjoy writing and sharing short stories, I highly recommend this subreddit. Users have the ability to share stories as a text submission or through a link. You are required to tag your post with the appropriate genre (e.g. Horror, Science Fiction). This subreddit does ask you to comment on three other posts before leaving one of your own, and I think that’s completely reasonable.

  • r/fiction

    This is very similar to the short story subreddit with the added ability to post longer works of fiction such as novels and plays. While there are fewer subscribers than the short stories subreddit, there are no comment requirements.

I know I’ve only listed two subreddits, but the advantage is that these subscribers match my audience. I’m continuing to explore other subreddits, and I’ll post those I find are useful.

Has anyone had any good or bad luck using Reddit? Does anyone have any other advice for us writing blogger? Leave a comment below!

This post is part of a new series I’m dedicating to sharing my experiences as a fiction blogger. Feel free to leave any questions or suggestions on what you’d like my next topic to be!

Boss, Let’s Talk About Skipping My Birthday

Because no one has good office birthday party ideas…

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Boss, we need to talk about skipping my birthday this year.

I know you’re planning on something, I know you want it to be a surprise.  Let me just say it’s no surprise. You sent me the Outlook Invite for tomorrow with the subject “Quick Touch-base.” We’re having our touch-base today, right now.

Also, I know you’re doing this to build camaraderie within our department, and I respect your effort. Sales are down, and everyone’s a bit nervous. Let me just say that walking into your office with fourteen others crammed inside does nothing to help. Oh, our summer intern started today? Make that fifteen.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of tension within our department right now. Jason and Will aren’t speaking to each other, not after that meeting with our VP. Will blames Jason for screwing up the presentation, and Jason claims the charts in the PowerPoint were inaccurate. Oh that’s right, you were at the meeting. How did I hear about how poorly it went?

Anyways, let’s talk about that cake. You know I have a gluten allergy, which means you already asked Tina to pick up Italian Ice. No one wants Italian Ice, especially me. There’s nothing happy about people awkwardly singing Happy Birthday over a single tub of Italian Ice topped with a single burning candle. Oh, birthday candles aren’t allowed in the building anymore? I forgot the fire chief visited this week, did anyone mention the sparks coming from the photocopiers in the closet space?

And the comments people will make about how there’s no real cake. I’m a hard working guy, wrists sore from the hours I spend number-crunching in Excel, and the last thing I want is to have people resent me because they can’t have cake from Baked by Melissa. You know Donna still thinks I’m making the whole celiac thing up? You know at the holiday party I saw her down glass after class of hot chocolate even though she claims to be lactose intolerant?

Also, I’m turning twenty-six. Yes, thanks again, but drawing attention to this only means that Jason will try to get us out for drinks at the pub downstairs. He’s a good guy, but I really don’t feel like hearing about the daughter that he never sees and how he has no life anymore. He’s only twenty-nine, and that’s a bit too much reality for me to handle, especially on my birthday.

Let’s not forget the company-wide birthday celebration that happens once a month. Honestly, that’s enough for me. We all file in, grab a slice of cake – or a Klondike Bar for someone like me – and leave, simple as that. Nothing like a bit of childhood nostalgia to help me forget where I am. Sorry, that slipped out, I’m very happy to be working here.
Oh, you’re concerned that no one will know that it’s actually my birthday? That’s alright, Sandra from HR knows. I started working here the day after my birthday four years ago, and I’m expecting an email from her to discuss how our company’s health insurance works.

I know you mean well, but if you really care about my well-being, as well as my future at this company, you will skip my birthday this year. What am I doing to celebrate after work? Nothing too much. Probably just go with my roommates for some falafel and then hit up a bar or two. Which bars? I’m not sure, we’ll just wing It. Yes, I’ll text you where we are if it’s not too late.

#AmWritingChallenge – Days 1-10

This month I’m participating in the #AmWritingChallenge on Instagram. In case you haven’t heard of it, each day you take a photo of something related to your life as a writer. I’ve provided the list below:

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Today I decided to post my photos and captions from the first ten days of the challenge. Feel free to leave comments below. Also share links to your own photos if you’re participating in the challenge too!

Follow me on Instagram at Life_Of_Dude

Day 1 – From Where I Write

Now that it’s warm outside, I write on the couch in our backyard.

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Day 2 – A Page From Your Manuscript

I write short stories, and this is from a current work in progress

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Day 3 – What You Drink When You Write

I drink coffee and water while writing. I save the whiskey until after 6…

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Day  4 – Procrastination Device

Mine is my laptop, so I can watch YouTube videos

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Day 5 – Inspirational Quote

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Day 6 – Morning Habit

Most mornings I go to the coffee shop to get some work and writing done

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Day 7 – You computer

Pretty self-explanatory. Does the site on the screen look familiar?

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Day 8 – Neglected Project

This is a short story I started a year ago and never finished. Hoping to revisit it soon.

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Day 9 – Shelfie!

My shelf runs along my dresser…

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Day 10 – Your Published Works

My flash fiction piece “Bandleader Bob” was featured on the Drabble last month – new 100 word stories published everyday!

Lisa Edamame

It was a cool and cloudless Saturday evening. Yes, I’m starting this story this way because this is the truth. I’m not lying, unlike my co-worker who fixed me up with Lisa. She was a sweet girl, really. We shared a bowl of edamame. She requested brown rice instead of white to go with her chicken teriyaki. We talked without pause, until I excused myself to give Connor a call.

“How’s everything going buddy?” he asked.

“Everything’s great. Perfect. Peachy,” I said.

“She’s great, isn’t she?”

I said nothing.

“Ah, you know I don’t always get your sarcasm,” he said.

“Obviously.”

“So what’s wrong with her?”

“With her? Nothing. No problem at all. She’s sweet, we both have an extreme dislike for pears.”

“I’d tell her the same thing I’ve told you. You dislike them because you disliked them as children. If you give them another chance -”

“She’s married.”

Connor said nothing. I looked down the street and saw a guy dressed in a colonial costume. He stopped at the corner, removed a hat from the sack he was carrying and placed it in front of him.

“What do you mean she’s married?” Connor asked.

“How didn’t you know she was married?”

“I swear I didn’t.”

“I know you didn’t.”

“Really? You believe me?”

“Yeah I do.”

“That’s good. I wonder why she agreed to go out with you-”

“She thinks I can get her a job, that’s why.”

Again Connor said nothing. I looked down and saw the same guy, now wearing a white wig. Only the wig was too large and covered his entire forehead. Performers like him were common downtown. The week before I saw Elmo, only the eyes were unevenly glued on the face and caused a lot of children to cry.

“You told her I had openings in my department,” I said.

“Because you do.”

“Not yet, not until next week. No one’s supposed to know until after our meeting next week.”

“I didn’t know.”

“My own team doesn’t even know yet.”

“You haven’t told your team yet?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“That’s beside the point. You shouldn’t have told anyone that my department’s getting restructured.”

“You’re right, I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Now I’m worried she might say something.”

“She’s not that type of woman. You’ll be fine, just tell her the truth.”

The man in the colonial costume started shouting at the people who walked passed him.

“How do you know? You just met her at the tech conference last week.”

“Alright, I don’t know, would you rather me tell you that?”

“I should just get back inside,” I said.

“Alright buddy, and you should’ve told your team what’s going on already.”

I hung up my phone and watched the man shout and wave his hands.

“What are you wearing?” he said to the college guys walking by in jeans. “Those carriages seem to be driving themselves,” he said while pointing to the cars driving by.

“What is that device in your hand?” he said. “Yes you, come over here,” he said, pointing to me. I walked over. “I saw you talking into it. Can it hear you? Does it talk back?”

I told him it was called a “Lisa,” after its inventor, Lisa Edamame. After all, why did that guy deserve the truth from me, when I couldn’t give it to my team?

Procrastination

Because every writer has trouble with procrastination…

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We sat on the sofa underneath the wooden awning attached to the back of our house. We were procrastinating.

I had an assignment due at midnight. Six hundred words on the value of going to business school. The latest ranking of the nation’s top business school was released the day before – the first of several to be released that year. It was a little after eight, and I found the sunset, the breeze against my skin and the squirrel running up the oak tree to be much more interesting.

“I’m taking the job, it makes the most sense,” Justin said. He held his phone and rubbed its case as if there was a stain. The job, an assistant manager at his uncle’s liquor store, was offered to him that morning. He had to decide by midnight..

“But I really don’t want to work for my Uncle,” he said. “I promised myself that I’d never work for my uncle.”

“We’ve all lied to ourselves,” I said. The sky turned a deep orange and I couldn’t see the squirrel in the oak tree anymore. I could hear it, though. I listened to the squirrel because I found the sudden, quick sounds it made to be much more interesting.

“The money isn’t bad, and I’m sure my Uncle would let me take the summer holidays off.”

“Just call him and say you’re gonna take the job,” I said. “You know you are.”

Justin stood up and tossed his phone on the sofa. “And you just write the article. How hard is it? Take the top schools, look up some facts and that’s it.”

“They want me to tell a story,” I said.

“And you write fiction, so what’s the big deal?”

“I wonder if most people find the school rankings more interesting than the actual experience of college. I’d say so.” I pulled my legs onto the sofa and tossed Justin his phone.

“You must have hated business school,” my roommate said. He went into the house and I heard him on the phone, telling his uncle he would take the job.

I didn’t hate it. Business school was good to me, it was what I needed at the time. Something practical, because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I wanted to believe I was a corporate man, but I knew I was lying to myself.

And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t inspiration, but something like relief. I knew I found the angle to the piece due in a couple hours. But I also knew in another moment or so, the angle I found I would consider self-pitying or narcissistic.

By ten-thirty I had no choice but to write. The idea I was on at that moment was the topic for the article. I wrote it and sent it off. I felt proud and I felt scared. I told myself it was great and I told myself it was awful. I also knew I had another piece due the following midnight, and I couldn’t wait to be back on the sofa, finding things that were much more interesting.

War

At Sean’s apartment, we played cards. We played on the floor because the movers came and took the furniture that afternoon. He asked to stay at my place that night and naturally I said yes. Jen was staying with her parents and she preferred if she didn’t see him that night.

“I haven’t played war since I was a kid,” I said. I was winning after drawing a couple tens, queens and aces.

“It’s easy, gives me time to think,” he said.

“About what?” I asked.

“About anything, about what’s next.”

The next day Sean would be moving to the city. His cousin’s roommate just moved out and needed someone to help with rent. I knew Sean would’ve preferred to have his own place, like me, but money was tight.

Nevertheless he was, at that moment, on a lucky streak. His sevens beat my sixes; his Jokers beat my tens.

“Will Jen still help move tomorrow?” I asked.

“She said she would.”

About a year ago, Sean helped me move out of the apartment I shared with Gabby. Or rather, it was a refurnished garage. It was good for the two of us until we realized we weren’t good for each other. At that time Sean met Jen and he was happy. Together they helped me move.

“We should get back to my place,” I said. “It’s almost nine.” I was back in the lead after drawing a queen and king. I lucked out when Sean drew a two against my four.

“When we finish this game, we’ll go,” he said.

I wanted to let him win. He needed to catch a break, even if that break was winning a card game. I knew the game would go on – sometimes with me in the lead, sometimes with Sean. It was just something I couldn’t control, something out of my hands.