2015 Anti-Resolutions

  1. I will not blame ObamaCare for my son’s unfortunate wardrobe choices.
  2. I will not make judgments about other men based on the size of their coffee mugs.
  3. I will not change the things I say on Twitter just because my daughter thinks I tweet like an old—possibly dead—bird.
  4. I will not make up mysterious theme songs for each of my favorite coffee mugs and sing them whenever they are getting used by guests.
  5. I will not paint random portions of my arms, face and/or legs in a greenish color just to convince the little neighbor girl that I’m beginning to be able to photosynthesize my own energy.
  6. I will not let Lady Gaga make my wardrobe choices for me anymore. She can recommend whatever she wants to my son, though, since ObamaCare failed him so badly on that front.
  7. I will not go on job interviews and answer every question by telling cautionary tales involving coffee, random office supplies, and special undergarments.
  8. I will not post on obscure websites that when I grow up I want to be Wonder Woman because I like her outfits.
  9. I will not be held accountable for my failure to complete any part of my daily to do list when the person who created the list should have used some simple mathematics such as the Gamma Function clip_image019[4] to determine the probability of success for each specific task.
  10. I will not let the squirrels win.
  11. I will not delay in creating a new style guide that codifies the proper usage of the punctuation mark which is as amazing, controversial, and exciting as the Oxford Comma: the Serial Interrobang. You’d like that, wouldn’t you… wouldn’t you‽‽‽
  12. I will not place cheap flip phones in random places throughout the state and use my daughter’s phone to call and leave cryptic messages on them at strange hours of the day and night, just to confuse the NSA.
  13. I will not bring the big, black trash bags and a snow shovel into my son’s room to clean it like my father used to do… I will not bring the big, black trash bags and a snow shovel into my son’s room to clean it like my father used to do… I will not bring the big, black trash bags and a snow shovel into my son’s room to clean it like my father used to do… I will not—


Written based on the Today’s Author Write Now! prompt on December 31, 2014, in which we are asked to creatively list ten things we will not do in the coming year. Of course, for obvious reasons I need to stick with a nice, lucky number like thirteen…

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2014 Anti-Resolutions

Written based on the Today’s Author Write Now! prompt on December 31, 2013, in which we are asked to creatively list ten things we will not do in the coming year. Of course, for obvious reasons I need to stick with a nice, lucky number like thirteen…

  1. I will no longer ignore the wise advice spoken to me in whispers by the steam rising from my coffee cup.
  2. I will not introduce myself to everyone I meet as “Zalbon, Prime Prince Extraordinaire of the Zarquan Collective of Ragabond Five”; Some people will come to know me as “The Great Ro-bini, Protector of Mauwg and Hero of Baldador.”
  3. I will not make my son do two pushups for every dollar he receives for his birthday or Christmas when five pushups per dollar would be better for him.
  4. I will not blame ObamaCare for my unfortunate wardrobe choices.
  5. I will not get a set of tattoos featuring The Taster’s Choice couple (Sharon Maughan and Anthony Stewart Head), despite my love of coffee and the assurances that the inking would be tastefully done.
  6. I will not get a tattoo of Juan Valdez, either.
  7. I will not allow Miley Cyrus to talk me into allowing her to dance with the cinderblocks from my garage again this year.
  8. I will not shock my 48 million fans by suddenly tweeting that I am retiring from coffee drinking.
  9. I will not annoy the Little Neighbor Girl by recording dramatic footage of the giant, jumping spiders that live in my basement and then copying the videos onto the various digital devices she leaves at my house all the time even after I tell her to take them home.
  10. I will not torment the cats by putting motorized bird and squirrel puppets outside each window.
  11. I will not torment my son by putting motorized pizza puppets outside each window. Well… at least not every day.
  12. I will not leak to the media the news that the massive mosquito population in our area is actually a secret government research project which is attempting to genetically alter us into a super-powered mansquito army with which they intend to fight off the alien invasion.
  13. I will not distribute treasure maps which lead to my garden just before planting time this spring, in hopes that all the neighbors will end up coming over and digging up the weeds for me as they search for buried treasures.


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A Letter of Encouragement to My Son Upon Entering Sixth Grade Math

Dear Nick,

We wanted to wish you good luck and let you know that we’re here to help you on the path to a successful mathematical career throughout middle school. As you know, I (Dad) am and always have been a math geek, so I wanted to give you some helpful advice I’ve learned along the way. Your teacher may get mad at me for letting you know these things, but it’s a chance I feel I must take.

If you see a problem on a test such as:


the answer is not:





Similarly, the solution to: clip_image010[4] is not:



Nor is the solution to clip_image014[4] =?:


Finally, when asked to find x, you’re better off if you do not answer as follows:

Find x.


If you heed my advice, not only will you be successful in middle school math, but soon you will be solving equations like one of my personal favorites, the Gamma Function:


Good luck!
Love, Mom and Dad


Author’s Note: On the second full day of school, an assignment came home from my son’s math class and it was for the parents to write a letter of encouragement to our child as he begins his middle school journey through math.  I figured that if I had to take time away from watching Stargate SG-1, I might as well have a little fun with it. My son, daughter and wife enjoyed this and since it was meant to be for my son, that’s really what mattered.

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Massanutten Vacation 2013, Day Negative One

imageDay Negative One of vacation.  What a glorious day, indeed! It is the reason we spend all the time since the end of the last year’s vacation working too many hours and doing too many things with baseball or dance or soccer or swimming or band or scouts. It is the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel between vacations, a beacon which guides us and calls us to stay the course, for soon vacation time will be here.  It is that wonderful day on which we get to brush the dust, spiders and other unpleasant debris off of our suitcases and fill them up with brightly-colored clothes, brand new tubes of toothpaste and the year’s worth of books we’ve collected to read during our week-long vacation. Such a wonderful, awesome, fantastic day! It is—

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My Midlife Crisis, or, The End and Beginning of an Era, Part 2

My Beloved 2004 Saturn Ion 2

My Beloved 2004 Saturn Ion 2, on July 27, 2013

My very first car was a 1980 Ford Escort station wagon. I bought it from my grandparents for $500 in 1988 and it served me well for the next 5 years, well into 1993. But as I graduated from college, the road grime, duct tape and metal clothes hangers which held the rust together finally showed signs of giving out.  Since I was leaving the safe, walk-able confines of the college campus for the not walk-able, paying job with a two hour commute. So, I needed to buy a car.

I was familiar with Ford, so I first went to the local Ford dealer. Before I had even had a test drive, the sales person had my blood pressure up, and my heart rate up and my head spinning, as he told me to ignore the sticker price because he was already cutting it in half and he was not going to allow me to leave without a new Ford.


I took the test drive and the car was fine.  But I left without a new Ford despite the salesperson’s histrionics. Instead, I drove a few hundred yards up the highway to the Saturn dealership.

I got out of the car and found that I was able to walk around the lot, look at cars, look at more cars and just kind of feel unpressured. I found a salesperson and he was helpful and enthusiastic. I test drove the car, a 1993 Saturn SL1 sedan with a manual transition.

And I loved it.

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The End and Beginning of an Era, Part 1

In the middle of August 2006, we had solar panels installed on our home. Unlike what a lot of early-adopters of the residential solar panel systems. the purpose of our installation wasn’t to make money but to make electricity and lower our carbon footprint and impact on the environment by covering as much of our electrical need as possible. The fact that the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are not worth today what we were promised they would be worth is annoying to me, but it mostly just makes the payback period longer.  Truth is, we loved the solar panels from the first day they were installed, despite the fact that they didn’t really perform as advertised, also from the first day they were installed.  I had tons of problems with the system from day one and calls to the installer and the manufacturer went unanswered or, at best, answered inadequately.

Which was the real problem.

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Mourning’s Light

Written based on the Today’s Author Write Now! prompt on January 4, 2013, in which we are asked to write about an unnaturally foggy bay.

For most people, silence is empty. I, however, have found silence to be full of stories – more stories, in fact, than the noise surrounding it. To me, the breaks in the noise of life provided a soundless symphony, spinning tales of joy and agony, elation and misery. But lately the silence has become a deafening roar threatening to overwhelm me as I sit here alone, with you by my side.

“Remember the day we got married?” you whisper, breaking the silence for the first time in hours. You speak so quietly I can barely make out the words over the other sounds in the room. It is as if you are speaking from oceans away. You look up over the edge of the newspaper you’ve been pretending to read all day. “I wish we still felt… like we did that day.”

The doctor bursts into the room as she and countless others of her kind have done innumerable times before, thwarting my attempt to respond. She smiles as she forces a bucketful of pills—my main source of calories for the day—into me. I know she is trying to help me, yet I stare at her blankly, wishing my silence could make her understand that I’d trade all the pain killers, anti-inflammatories, steroids and stool softeners in the world for a chance to actually live the life these pills are supposedly extending for me, instead of watching each day slip away through a foggy, chemical haze.

“Remember when we had dreams?” you say after she leaves. “Imagine the stories we could tell if we’d followed even a few of them. Well… it doesn’t matter anymore…”

“It does matter!” I want to scream, but your gaze has drifted so far off you wouldn’t hear me anyway. So I remain silent. We seem to communicate better if I stay quiet.

But the truth is I do remember. I remember our unfulfilled dreams of seeing the world as well as the dreams we did realize before I fell ill: a happy, healthy family, playing catch with the kids, building tree houses, singing songs on the front porch and eating ice cream on days so hot we were really sipping a chocolaty-milk soup.

I remember because—despite what your silence says— I’m not dead yet.

Here in the nursing home, surrounded by swarms of doctors with their fistfuls of pills, I float from one appointment to the next and tolerate wave after wave of tests. Through these long months you have been my lifeboat, my beacon in the night. But you don’t tell me about life outside these walls anymore, presumably so I won’t miss it. You don’t mention the news or politics or—anything. You just sit here quietly. The story your silence tells is of a world grown distant and cold, a world no longer within my reach.

Still, I try to stay connected. I know who won the election. I know my beloved New York Mets will find new ways to snatch defeat from victory again this year. I know the kitchen staff are serving me decaf coffee even though they say it is regular. I know they still haven’t found enough programming to fill the 313 channels on my television.

And I know that none of this matters.

At the end of the day, all I really want is to know your thoughts and feelings. I want to know how you are doing. But your silent stare out the darkening window tells me that even these things are unimportant. All that matters is that the hours have grown short on me.

“I love you,” I say breaking the silence as you prepare to leave. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

You turn away silently and I see, for you, the mourning is already here.

My day waning, I turn off the light and rest my head on the lumpy pillow. I’ve never before been afraid of the nighttime, but the sudden darkness makes my heart race. Lately the night just seems to be a little bit darker—and a little bit quieter—for a little bit longer.

I feel cold despite the thick blankets covering me. As I drift off, I hear doctors and nurses talking frantically in the distance, but even their noise cannot keep the silence at bay. It fills me with memories of things I said when I should have been quiet. It reminds me of times I remained mute when I should have spoken. It spins tales of you and me and the days we thought would last forever.

But no matter what we do to stave it off, day eventually succumbs to night. And the night, when it comes, will be dark.

The silence tonight seems empty. I see myself alone on a raft, drifting silently through the night into a foggy bay. The air feels damp and cool against my skin, the fog so unnaturally thick I can hardly see what is ahead of me. I turn to look behind me. Only shadows and faint echoes of the distant ocean remain. Ahead of me, far across the bay, I hear a mourning dove, its cry telling me not to fear the darkness. For even after the darkest night, in the morning there will be light. And the light will be something to behold.

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Best Blog Writing on Creativity and the Arts 2012

Rus VanWestervelt, a writer, photographer, Creativity Coach and LifeStory Architect with whom I’ve worked at Write Anything, has put together an article featuring a number of fantastic links to blog posts written in the past year on the subject of creativity. 

There are some terrific articles by a lot of authors I admire and have enjoyed reading.  The featured authors include: Adam Byatt, Alyssa Bailey, Bernadette A. Moyer, Cara Moulds, Jodi Cleghorn, Laura Shovan and Dan Cuddy.  And, oh yes, and I’m included as well.

You can read Rus’s article here on his blog: Best Blog Writing on Creativity and the Arts: My 2012 Review.  I encourage you to check it out and read some of the fantastic articles he has included. I am sure you will find them interesting and inspirational.

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An Interview with Me

I was interviewed by Tony Roberts today on his blog, A Way With Words.

Tony contacted me via my bio page on Today’s Author to ask if I would be willing to participate in the interview and I agreed.  He sent me a few questions about the Today’s Author site and my wishes for it, about the writing that has impacted my life and about my feelings relating to script production and story publication.  You can read the interview here, on Tony’s blog:  Interview with Author and Playwright Rob Diaz II

Check it out!

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My 2013 Anti-Resolutions

Written based on the Today’s Author Write Now! prompt on January 1, 2013, in which we are asked to creatively list ten things we will not do in the coming year. Of course, for obvious reasons I need to stick with a nice, round number like thirteen…

  1. I will not pay $1000 for a Twinkie, whether it is in its original packaging or not, even though I have always wanted to try Weird Al Yankovic’s vegetarian Twinkie-Weiner sandwich.
  2. I will not ask my doctor for a prescription for my daily Starbucks coffee just so that I can submit it to my insurance company for reimbursement.
  3. I will not take all the silly, little sweaters we have for the dog and put them up for sale on eBay… even though the neighborhood dogs, cats and squirrels make fun of him whenever he goes outside wearing one.
  4. I will not tell visitors to my home that the boxes, bags, candy wrappers, shoes and laundry baskets full of intermixed clean and dirty clothes are there so that the cats and the dog who thinks he’s a cat can have a cheap, no-fuss and varyingly-complicated obstacle course to play in.
  5. Likewise, I will not tell visitors to my home that the boxes, bags, candy wrappers, shoes and laundry baskets full of intermixed clean and dirty clothes are there so that my children can learn about what life in college will be like. Well, I probably won’t…
  6. I will not proclaim that I have a five point plan to solve every issue I face in 2013.
  7. I will not ask the police to protect the driving public by blocking off the streets in our neighborhood before I take the teenaged neighbor girl out for a driving lesson in my manual shift car; I may, however, wear a helmet, safety goggles and/or wrap the car in bubble wrap before we go, though…
  8. I will not be a contestant on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. I have not yet decided about the possibility of appearing on “Married to Jonas”, though.
  9. I will not be a Spice Girl.
  10. I will not be in the running to be the person Jenny McCarthy kisses for New Years 2014.
  11. I will not give up on my quest to ensure that everyone knows that the Mayans were not actually wrong.
  12. I will not include a chapter about my stint as the backup third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies in my unauthorized autobiography. I will also edit out the chapter about how I was screwed out of my gig to be Fergie in The Black-Eyed Peas.
  13. I will not spend much more time making plans to introduce as many types of insects and fruits to the little neighbor girl as I possibly can.
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My New Writing Gig

As most people who have followed my writing are aware, I have been involved with the Write Anything website for several years – first as a participant in the Fiction Friday writing prompts and subsequently as a contributor and deputy editor.

Write Anything is closing up shop this month and its departure left me and several others looking for a new gig.  What we decided to do was create our own little writing corner of the internet:  Today’s Author.  At Today’s Author, our goal is to inspire creativity.  We hope to provide insights, tools, tips and tricks for writing through regular posts, but we also hope to provide inspiration through our writing prompts and the interaction between us and our readers.  The goal, of course, is to be writing and in many ways each of us involved with Today’s Author has been inspired, sought inspiration or needed the inspiration of a solid, supportive writing community.

We want Today’s Author to be that community.

Our official launch is this coming Tuesday, January 1, 2013. It seemed fitting to start the new site along with the New Year.  That said, we did a soft launch this week to get some of the kinks out, work out some issues with the technology involved and figure out what we liked or didn’t like about our chosen theme. These kinks are further evidenced by my accidental publication of a post… supposed to be scheduled for January 2, 2013 but instead I published it on January 2, 2012. Sigh. There really isn’t all that much difference between 2012 and 2013 before the first cup of coffee of the day, is there? Anyway, my first post for the new site went live on December 24 and describes a little bit of where I am as a writer, where I have been and where I want to go.

So pop on over to Today’s Author.  Read the posts we have up already. Check out the author bio pages for our team.  Interact with the writers and readers of the site.  Click through on the writing prompt submissions to check out some neat new fiction that was written in response to the prompts.  And follow us.  You’ll be getting involved at the ground floor of something I hope will become really big!

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Release Announcment: Deck the Halls

I am pleased to announce that Emergent Publishing will release Deck the Halls: festive tales of fear and cheer worldwide on December 6, 2012. My story, “Yuletide Treasure” is included in this anthology.

front-cover-dthDeck the Halls: festive tales of fear and cheer
Editor: Jodi Cleghorn

Original Artwork: Andrew McKiernan

Cover Design: eMergent Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9871126-4-­4 (paperback)
978-0-­9871126-­5-1 (eBook)

Pages: 226

DECK THE HALLS traverses the joy and jeopardy of the festive season, from Yule to Mōdraniht, Summer Solstice to Years’ End. The stories journey through consternations and celebrations, past, present and future, which might be or never were.

Along the way you’ll meet troll hunters, consumer dissidents, corset-bound adventurers, a joint-­toking spirit, big-­hearted gangbangers, an outcast hybrid spaceship, petrol-toting politicians, mythical swingers and a boy who unwittingly controls the weather.

Heart-warming and horrifying, the collection is a merry measure of cross-genre, short fiction subverting traditional notions of the holiday season.

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The Iliad (in about a Page)

I have ranted about my hatred of summer reading programs many times in the past, specifically zeroing in on how they focus solely on “The Classics”, a term which is defined as “The Stuff Most People Would Never Read If They Had a Choice.” A friend of mine recently lamented needing to write a one-page summary of “The Iliad” and how hard it was to condense everything down to just one page. It has been a long, long time since I read The Iliad but I decided to take a stab at it.  The following is what I came up with — it fits on one letter-sized Microsoft Word page (.5 inch margins on all sides). My daughter enjoyed it and thought I should share it with the world.  Since I live only to make her happy, I’ve posted this, the first in what looks like will be a series of approximately one-page summaries of The Classics (and other things).  Enjoy!

This one time, at Battle Camp, there were these beautiful maidens. The maidens, Chryseis and Briseis, had been captured from the town of Chryse by the Greek army because that’s what armies are meant to do when they finish sacking their enemies. Chryseis of Chryse, cried out to her daddy. Her dad, Chryses, was all too familiar with his daughter’s many crises, but she had him wrapped around her finger so he knew he had to help. Seeing as he was a two-faced priest of Apollo (the god, not the lunar mission) he kindly offered a huge ransom for his daughter’s safe return while also viciously praying for Apollo to destroy the Greek army. Apollo, being a compassionate god, complied and sent a terrible plague into the camp. When Agamemnon, a more important Greek army dude than I am, learned that the plague decimating his people was due to the beautiful maiden, he reluctantly agreed to send Chryseis back to her daddy.

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