Whispers 4

The bathroom is steamy, the mirrors fogged. I’m drying off when I see it. A large X on the medicine cabinet mirror. A loose circle surrounds it. Hastily scrawled, like it was spray painted.

It wasn’t there yesterday. Or the day before. Or a month ago.

Or ever.

No one else uses my bathroom. No one’s even been up to my floor.

But there’s a giant X on the mirror.

Stranger Things, an Awesome Show from Netflix

Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhhsquuuuuueeeeeeeeeee! I loves me some Stranger Things! That’s a Netflix Original series. It came out in July, and if you’re cooler than me you’ve already watched it. But this toy started and finished it a few days ago.

Man, oh man, but is it good. Because I love you, dear reader, I won’t do any spoilers, but I do want to you tell you about it.

But first, here’s one of the official trailers:


Good Writing and Bad

It’s a funny thing about writing. It turns out it’s hard. In my efforts to become a published novelist, I’ve had many opportunities to learn some things about writing fiction. One of my first lessons, for instance, was that a Venn diagram of writing skills for journalists and writing skills for fiction has surprisingly little overlap. It probably looks something like this:

Venn Diagram of Journalism Skills and Fiction Skills

Imagine my surprise in discovering this.

In arrogance rooted somewhere between general competence and blissful ignorance, I started my novel with the assumption that my ability to properly string words together for an article would lend itself just fine to writing books.

Again, imagine my surprise.

Chaffin’s Razor

I have this theory, something I’ve been working on for many years. One of our listeners (D. Scott Frey) on The Apple Context Machine came up with the name “Chaffin’s Razor,” and I quite fancy that name, so let’s go with it. In any event, here’s my thought:

When someone does or says something that appears irrational, there is almost always a piece of missing information that would either explain the behavior or cause the observed to behave or speak differently.

That’s the shortish version, but the long version starts with the fact that very few people are crazy. Sure, some people are straight up, legit insane, but not many. Yet all the time our friends, acquaintances, enemies, and strangers do things that appear crazy.

“WTF? Seriously? He did that?”

“Why on earth would she say that?”

Whispers 3

It’s Sunday. A day for sleeping late. A day for not worrying about getting up. Or meetings. A day for no alarms save the morning sun peeking past my shades.

Sunday is the kind of day night owls with day jobs love. At least this night owl. It’s one of two days when I get enough sleep.

I love Sundays.

I lay there, scrunched into my covers.

Spring is fighting with winter, but the old lady still has a grip on the outside. It was enough to make luxuriating alone in bed as long as possible that extra bit of delicious. I feel warm. And safe. It’s perfect.

Bryan’s Tips for Making a Tasty Iced Latte

My Death Wish Coffee review was fairly popular, and I thought it would be nifty to follow it up with some tips on making coffee espresso lattes iced lattes. At its heart, all forms of coffee are chemistry-in-action, and while I won’t pretend to understand that chemistry, trial and error has helped me optimize my favorite beverage.

Flavor Is Everything

First things first: I like my lattes iced and flavored with syrups. I don’t like the flavor of espresso, I like the flavor of espresso when it has been combined with a sugar-based, flavored sweetener and drowned in ice and milk. You can take your sugar-in-the-raw, simple syrup, and anything made from high fructose corn syrup, and do whatever you’d like except dump them into my iced lattes.

I noted in my Death Wish review that my daily driver sweetener is Torani’s Irish Cream. I also like Amoretti’s Premium Irish Cream, Amoretti’s Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean, and Torani’s French Vanilla. That’s pretty darned particular, but whatever your preferred syrupy poison, these tips will make your drink better.


Death Wish Coffee Quick Look

I Instagrammed a photograph of the Death Wish Coffee Dave Hamilton sent to me, and several people asked me to review it. Accordingly, I pulled a couple of espresso shots with it this morning, and I’m delighted to report that Death Wish Coffee is good.

Whispers 2

It’s been a while. Those whispers. More than a year. I’d kind of forgotten about them because the house has been…I don’t know. Not quiet, exactly. Acquiescent? There’s always a bit of a feeling around here.

But then today I was taking a shower. It was the middle of the day, a perk of working from home. I was singing “You Can’t Do That,” a favorite Beatles tunes, and was leaning into the water. It was relaxing.

That’s when I felt it. A tap. Two of them. On my shoulder.

Not “like” a tap. It was a tap. A finger touching me, quick and firm. Tap tap on the back of my shoulder demanding attention.

My mouth slammed shut and I spun around. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was alone. Just me and the water.

Prologue Is Past

I stripped the prologue from my novel recently. I had to do it, and that makes me tense. Let me explain.

Old typewriter with "Prologue" crossed out by a red pen.

Prologue vs. the Big Red Pen

No, first, some catchup: I took time off from my novel last year (hence the lack of updates here). I needed to distance myself from it so I could see it with fresh(er) eyes. Once I came back to it, I realized the beginning wasn’t as tight as the ending, where I’ve spent far, far more time.

I fixed that, and in the process I made myself nuke the prologue. Agents and editors are mixed on prologues these days, with the haters strong on the hate. I suspect it’s because so many new authors misuse their prologues as info dumps.

I’ve seen it repeatedly in the writer forum I hang out in. Everyone feels their readers need to know all the cool world building stuff they came up with, and they cram it into the prologue. Many new authors push back when dinged for the info dump, and watching them go through that process taught me a thing or two.

Mining For Pics

Been busy. Synopsis writing—have I mentioned how much I hate writing a fucking synopsis? And querying. I hate the query process. There was also a little thing called Christmas. Next is New Year’s, followed immediately by CES. I hate CES, too, but that’s another story.

Anyhoo, I’ve been mining my photo library for good pics. Wait, let me rephrase that: I’ve been looking for images I’ve previously rejected that can be made cool because I know a lot more about editing photos than I did back when I took them*.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen most of them, but I wanted to post some slightly higher res versions here. You can see much larger versions by clicking on any given photo.

First up is a buffalo in Yosemite. 2005, I think. Or maybe 2006. This beast was marching down the road like he owned it, which he probably did. I wasn’t arguing. I got a few shots of him coming towards the car, but I was stoked when I got this shot less than two meters away.


Move over rover, or I will fuck you up.