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Dec 31, 2006 Here Is My Soulmate Story
I Lost My Soulmate
I worked with Amber and saw her a few times a week. When I first accepted a lead care position, she was the one who trained me in on med passing and from that first day I worked with her, I was so impressed by how kind and patient she was. You see, I'm not an easy person to train. I ask questions that make even those people who say there are no dumb questions frustrated with my dumb questions. I don't do it consciously, but I clarify everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Anyway, she was way pregnant, less than a month away from giving birth, and so I assumed she was married. I don't go there.

Fast forward a few months. She had her boy, Caleb, on September 11th, 2004. After her maternity leave, she came back and I found out that she was indeed married, but that her and her husband had been separated since she first found out she was pregnant. I asked her about it one day and she told me that she had filed for divorce. Well, this changed things quite a bit. I don't go there with married women, but I have nothing against letting someone soon to be available know that I would love to get to know them better. I should have thought about rebound relationships and all that happy crap, but I was mesmermized. I'd never met anyone like her. I can't even describe it properly. She clicke with me on every level I've ever wanted to click on. Attitude, demeanor, looks, smile, voice, height, hairstyle, favorite breakfast cereal. I was a goner.

I found out about her divorce filing in January, 2005. About that same time, a friend of mine from Italy started a song-writing contest. Her husband is a musician and so she thought it'd be fun. We'd been friends for about a year and she'd read every poem I'd written. She insisted that I take part in her contest. I told her that I'd never written any songs before but she pointed to my metered and rhyming poems and told me to give it a try. Well, I'd never considered writing music before, but I figured what the hay. I sat down and wrote this:

Look At Me That Way Again
I showed up early, just to see you, and now my heart’s aflame
I yearn to show you, that you can trust me – this is not a game
You’ve touched me deeply, oh so deeply - have I touched you the same?
Oh Amber darling, I wish you’d look at me that way again

Chorus:
The way you look at me...it drives me wild
From your gentle eyes, to your ravishing smile
I get lost, so lost, when I see your face
That look of yours is childlike grace


I’ve tried to show you, just how I feel, behind anxious eyes
Thoughts of your smile, enter my mind, and leave me in the skies
I hope that one day, you will notice, that you own my heart
So if you’re listening, to my eyes then, here’s what they impart

Chorus:
The way you look at me...it drives me wild
From your gentle eyes, to your ravishing smile
I get lost, so lost, when I see your face
That look of yours is honest grace


I can picture, us together - if only in my mind
Walking closer, ever closer - our two hands entwined
You glance my way, as if to say, "I’m glad you’re in my life"
Oh Amber darling, I hope one day, that you’ll be my wife

Chorus:
The way you look at me...it drives me wild
From your gentle eyes, to your ravishing smile
I get lost, so lost, when I see your face
That look of yours, is sincere grace


I didn't show this to Amber as I was too scared, but I did make the decision to give her a valentine on Valentine's Day. I talked to all the women I knew for suggestions on how to go about making my intentions known and I finally settled on a beautiful yet not mushy valentine - and I enclosed this poem:

Does She See Me?
Kind demeanor, welcoming smile
Conscientious, so full of style
Does she see me
As I do her?
Just what do her eyes infer?

When she looks at me, my heart flies
catapults my thoughts to soar the skies
Does her heart yearn
As does mine?
Would it be possible for us to align?

She loves our God, honors His law
Her respect and obedience leave me in awe
Has she noticed me
As I’ve noticed her?
Is there a part for me in her world?


Valentine's day was on a monday that year. The last day we were to work together before the big day was that friday. We both worked in the same location but she worked days and I worked evenings. We did shift change together on our days in common so I decided to give it to her just as we were finishing up. We finished shift change, I gave her the card, and I walked away before my heart could explode. I then had to go to a meeting with my supervisor and so I didn't see her open it or leave. I did find a note in my employee box thanking me for the card and telling me I made her day. That note made mine.

After work, the same day I gave her the card, I wrote this poem:

Friendship Or More
Just to walk up to you with a smile and a card,
Required that I lower my conservative guard
I tried not to show it, but my heart was pounding.
It took all my courage, it took all my grounding.

The reason, dear Amber, that my nervousness reigned,
Is I will not allow, to have our friendship strained.
In the front of my mind is the first day we met.
You showed me such patience; I will never forget.

When you look in my eyes, the universe pauses.
Feelings of peacefulness is what your glance causes.
I could sit and listen to your voice all day long.
Its timbre's angelic, in my soul, it's a song.

I'd be very happy to stroll alongside you.
But risking your friendship is something I won't do.
So breath easy Amber, for my intent is pure.
Bringing you any pain, I just couldn’t endure.

If you’d like to know me a bit better some day.
Well then just let me know, because I’d like the same.
But if from your standpoint you’d much rather be friends,
You still will amaze me, for your beauty transcends.


I had the above poem framed and I gave it to her a couple weeks later. That may have been a little much, but I wanted to let her know I wanted to be more than friends and I was still too shy to mouth those words. In fact, I still hadn't even asked her out. I was hust too scared. Finally, on March 3rd, I mustered the courage and I asked her to go out on a date with me. She accepted on the condition that her newborn son could come along. I'll never forget the way she looked into my eyes and said, "He's part of the deal. If you want me to come then Caleb gets to come." I made all the preparations. I got to the restaurant, the fanciest in town, early and got permission to decorate the table. I had another card with another poem. I bought a stuffed animal for Caleb. And I got two small red roses and had them dressed up beautifully with baby's breath. Here's the poem I gave her that day:

When I Asked You
The sight of your smile, when I got up the nerve
To ask you to lunch, filled me with verve
The rest of the day, my smile stayed in place
Nothing could lessen, its hold on my face

It took me awhile, to reveal my desire
To spend time with you, and take our friendship higher
I hope you don’t mind, that I’m moving so slow
But I sincerely would like, for something to grow

I don’t want to scare you, or drive you away
But I do need to let, my emotions display
Because Amber you’ve touched me, with your words and your deeds
So let’s take it slow, and see where it leads

I make you this promise, though I’m just a man
To show you respect – as much as I can
And as for young Caleb, I welcome him too
Because he’s a part, of the woman that’s you


The date was magnificent and I set up another one for that Saturday night. I invited her to a local coffee shop where they have live entertainment. It's quaint and romantic. I picked her up at her house and drove to the coffee shop. On the way, she mentioned to me that someone at work told her I was 38 years old. I was hoping she could get to know me and my personality a little better before finding out my age, but I admitted it to her and asked her if that meant she wouldn't want to go out. She smiled and said, "Silly, that just means I get to push you around in your wheel chair." I think my heart was ready to play Chopsticks. Anyway, we arrived at the coffee shop but she wouldn't let me go inside. She wanted to tell me something important. It was so cute how she would pick the cutest times to tell me something. Anyway, as we were walking in, she stopped me and told me that with her husband, she waited until she got married to have sex and that she would be waiting again the next time she gets married so if I was with her just for sex, I was wasting my time. She'd already had me, but now I was gone. Yeah, I was looking forward to being intimate, but I could have spent every day just gaxing at her amazing smile.

After the coffee shop, we went out to dinner. Then I drove her home and she gave me a hug at the door. I set up another date for the next Wednesday. This time she wanted us to go to her house. She said it would be cheaper and such. I bought her favorite mocha drink and went to her house that Wednesday morning. She had the framed poem, along with some other stuff I'd given her, on a table in the middle of the room. It looked so classy and it looked like she really treasured those things.

During our date, I sang her the song I wrote for her. She asked me if I wrote that just for her or if I change the name of the girl when I give it to someone else. That hurt, but I understand that she had been hurt before and was skeptical. We played cards and talked. She made pizza and we talked some more. It was honestly the best date I've ever had. She asked me all sorts of things.

I made a date for that friday and took off as I had to work. Friday, March 18, 2005, we had a blizzard beyond any I remember. I had the staffing pager that week and so I ended up fighting my way to work. The snow kept falling and falling and employee after employee called in saying they couldn't possibly make it to work. We couldn't close down since we took care of the elderly and so I ended up working that evening. I rescheduled my date with Amber for saturday. She said she was ok with that, but I could tell something was up. When I called her from work, her soon to be ex-husband was visiting their son, and he was giving her a bad time about seeing me. He accused her of being an unfaithful slut, even though that was what she was divorcing him for (unfaithfulness) and so she ended up cancelling the date.

I was heart-broken. I couldn't get her to answer on Saturday, but I talked to her on Sunday and told her how I felt. I told her that I didn't want to cause her any problems but that I was falling for her hard. She said she was falling for me too and that she would already be with me if her divorce were final. She told me to have patience and so I felt better and I wrote her these:

Take Your Time
You’ve been treated like a fool – he stole and crushed your heart
Now you find it hard to trust, so we must be apart
But please don’t lose your smile my friend, because I’m not like him
My love for you will only grow – my respect will never dim

Take the time that your heart needs. Don’t ever think I’m mad
For thoughts of your amazing smile, still make me very glad
I told you that I’d be your friend, and that is what I’ll be
So trust in God and take your time and you will surely see

Oh Amber dear, you precious girl, take all the time you need
My love, just like a tree, will grow – from just a tiny seed
The seed I planted in your heart, by showing you the way
That a real man treats his gal – each and every day
I don’t know what the future holds – I don’t know what’s in store
I only know that you’re the one I want forever more
So while you’re taking care of you, please keep close in your mind
The way I’ve always treated you as our souls are intertwined

Look deep down inside yourself – picture what you’d like
Does the image of what you want and I look at all alike?
Don’t answer now – take your time – there isn’t any rush
Because the way I feel for you isn’t just a crush


I've Seen You
I’ve seen you with the residents
I’ve seen your radiant smile
I’ve seen the way you love our God
I’ve seen your gentle style

I’ve seen this land from coast to coast
I’ve seen some awesome folk
But Amber dear, ‘til I saw you
I knew not of what love spoke

Your kindness isn’t just a show
Your deeds aren’t insincere
The way you honor those you meet
Fills other’s hearts with cheer

You take the time to do your best
You care about your rep
You truly are a precious girl
With each and every step

Oh, Amber dear, I hope one day
That with you I can walk
That every night before I sleep
Together we can talk

I pray each day to God above
For him to guide my feet
So if it is his loving will
You’d make my life complete


The following Tuesday we had a meeing at work and afterward she agreed to go with me to a local coffee shop where we could talk. I really think we were both falling for each other. It's the only time I've really felt that the other person was falling in love. I drove her back to get her car and told her I'd call her later. I did and we talked for four hours. Toward the end of that four hour call I did something I can't explain. We were talking about Mexico as that's where my ex was from and for some stupid, inexplicable reason, I mentioned that prostitution is legal in mexico.

She knew I had lived there for a number of years. She knew my ex wife was from there. And now she was going to find out about one of my shameful moments. What would any woman ask any man after he put the two thoughts of living somewhere and protitution being legal there together? Her very logical and understandable response was, "Oh, have you ever been to one?" I'm not a good liar so I told her the truth. I don't care to go through that whole story again, but suffice it to say that I did go to a prostitute but that I wasn't able to perform because it didn't feel right. I'm sure it sounds like a copout. I'm sure, because it sounded like one to her.

She told me that night that she couldn't believe I could ever do such a terrible thing. She said she knew that what was in a person's past was in their past but that she just couldn't get over this. I hoped like crazy that she eventually would. We went out one final time. I knew her favorite restaurant was Long John Silvers, so I invited her out to lunch. It wasn't a date, date, but she did agree to come so we could talk. It wasn't a good idea though. Long John Silvers was where she and her soon to be ex went every year for their anniversary. It didn't go well. After that fiasco, I wrote but never gave her this:

You Judged Me Wrong
I let you see me as I am, but other’s had their say
You've seen me treat you with respect, but still I lost the day
I’ve been at this spot before – I know I’ll be alright
Still it hurts to lose someone from info that’s not right

I told you that I’d wait for you, but I don’t have the will
The speed with which you judged me wrong, has left me feeling ill
Someone told you that I’m gay, and you believed their word
The thought that I may just be nice, to you never occurred

What other stories did you hear? What other tales were told?
What other reports made you think that I am just fool’s gold?
No need to answer – it doesn’t matter – because you have revealed
That for me and my gentle heart you’ll never be a shield

I’m not mad – I wish you well, but I am a bit depressed
I really thought that you were different – I really was impressed
So while I hope we can be friends, I also have to say
I'll never see you quite the same – my trust has gone away
I don’t mean this to make you sad, but I want for you to know
Judging someone without proof, can sure make them feel low
We could have talked about your fears – just as we had before
But as it stands, it’s now too late – I have closed my door


I kept up trying to get her to talk to me and I finally succeeded, but I ended up messing it up again. One friday when we worked together (toward the end of april 2005), I was very depressed and feeling insecure about how I could ever win back her trust. On this particular day, I didn't say one word to her other than what was necessary to do shift change. I basically snubbed her. I called and apologized afterward and I sent her a dozen long-stem roses, but it was too late. She tore into me and ripped me a new one. She yelled at me for being immature. She yelled at me for hitting on her while she was still married. She yelled at me for so many things that I lost count. After two days of watching her concentrate soley on the negative, and hearing her say for the umpteenth time that we would never get together, I told her that I agreed with her. I told her that I didn't ever see us getting together either. I turned in my keys and cell phone to the other lead care as I was in no shape to work that day and sped out of the parking lot. I drove for a few hours and found a motel. I went to Walmart and bought four bottles of over the counter sleeping pills and swallowed them all. I woke up two days later, barely conscious, not recognizing my family, wondering what was going on.

I was removed from the position of lead care but the company let me come back to work - only in another area away from her. I was too embarrassed to try to talk to her anyay and I've never spoken to her since. I've only seen her from a distance a few times.

A couple months after I last talked to her, I wrote this but I've never given it to her:

For But A Moment
Blonde hair and captivating eyes
For but a moment they saw me.

A smile that enticed me to follow
For but a moment she smiled only for me

Kindness is what defined her
For but a moment I was a recipient

Soft, gentle hands
For but a moment I imagined them holding me

Roses, lilacs, and chrysanthemums
For but a moment I breathed in her perfume

Soothing yet stimulating was her voice
For but a moment it was directed at me

Honey must have flowed from those sensuous lips
For but a moment I dreamed of partaking of them

Vivid memory of a breathtaking, Wednesday afternoon
For but a moment I was in heaven – but the vision was only in my mind


Dec 07, 2006 Coing Soon
How I Escaped A Cult
Hello everyone. Most of the time, I try to make my comments here at Lord Corwin's Palace as positive as my situation allows. I think it's healthy to try to focus on what's working rather than what isn't - unless it's something that can be fixed.

Soon, however, I'm going to begin detailing some disturbing aspects of my history. In the late 1980's I was indoctrinated into a very powerful and well known cult. I finally escaped it's clutches in 2002, but it's taken until this year for me to finally feel emotionally strong enough to talk about this painful part of my past.

Some may wonder what do I hope to gain from telling my story. Well, the group I belonged to for so many years is one that claims to be the only organization doing God's work here on the earth. They claim that they are God's one source of instruction and the only religion that will be saved when God soon destroys the wicked at armageddon. If the leaders of this group were simply interested in selling literature, I would walk away and not be overly concerned.

The truth is, however, that this organization places demands on it's members that damage them mentally, financially, socially, and spirtually, and while I have no desire to decide for anyone else what they should or should not do with their lives, I think the people who are being brought into this organization, under the guise that it will bring them salvation, have the right to know the deeper secrets their leaders don't want them to know.

Oct 31, 2006 Lots Of Stuff
A Modern Day Fairy Tale
Once upon a time in a fictional world called Sunset Senior Living a young prince named Hom Tarper accepted a job working with the memory-impaired. Hom found the work to be very challenging at times, but was energized by how much these memory-impaired people needed his help and strove to give his best every day. He would sing songs, tell jokes, cook supper, and assist these lovely people in many ways.

Unfortunately, not all the people who worked at Sunset Senior Living were as kind. Some of them felt threatened by Hom’s energy. Some of them didn’t like that he was a man in a primarily female environment. And some of them just didn’t like to see other people happy when they themselves were miserable.

One day Hom was visiting with one of the residents and he overheard another resident comment how she wished she had all of her jokes in one book. Jan, the lady who made the comment, made a practice of hanging up a new joke on the bulletin board every day. She would write the joke out on construction paper and then decorate it. She just loved making the staff and residents smile.

As it turned out, Hom knew a little bit about publishing. He had written a few books himself and he knew about an internet site where he could publish one copy of a book for under twenty dollars. He would have to do all the formatting himself, but he had plenty of experience with Microsoft Word and so putting the book together would be no problem for him. It took him three days to enter Jan’s jokes into the computer, group them by topic, and design the layout. Once he finished, he uploaded the information to the website he knew about and ordered one copy of the book to give as a gift to Jan.

Hom was sure she would be both surprised and thrilled to see her book. To make it even more special, he included an about the author section where he placed a photo of Jan that he’d taken when he had taken her to visit a friend of hers who lived in a nursing home.

It took about a week for the book to show up. Hom was excited by how beautiful the book was and by how professional it looked. His family was impressed as well. He couldn’t wait to deliver it to Jan. Hom delivered it to Jan, but evil forces were a foot. Some of the people at Hom’s job that didn’t like Hom were in management. They tried to find some way that they could turn Hom’s kind gesture into something evil. They tried to say he had broken Sunset policy by taking an unauthorized picture of a resident, but the picture Hom had taken of Jan was taken off site when Hom had brought her to visit her friend. In the same way he refused payment for the book, Hom had refused any gas money when he took Jan to visit her friend. Hom just wanted to do a kind deed.

The evil people in Sunset management, however, weren’t satisfied with trying to get Hom in trouble with the photo. Then they tried to suggest that Hom was selling these books with Jan’s photo in it and making money on Jan’s jokes. This was ludicrous and the evil managers soon realized that they had no proof and they had to let the issue drop. Or did they? Hom finally realized he would be better off not working among so many two-faced people and he quit his job and found one where people are kind. The evil managers of Sunset, however, were not satisfied. They tried again to get Hom to do something improper. They actually managed to talk Jan, the lady who Hom had helped on all these occasions, to try to get Hom to accept money for his kindness. They were determined to find something to pin on Hom.

Hom learned of their underhanded ploy, however, from a former co-worker at Sunset and made it publicly clear that he didn’t want a single remuneration for any of the acts of charity he performed on behalf of the people who reside at Sunset. The evil managers continued their unhealthy plotting, but Hom lived happily ever after.

First Newspaper Article
Thanks to invaluable help from my writer's group, I was thrilled to have my first newspaper article published on August 5, 2006. The Zumbrota News Record from Zumbrota, Minnesota carried my story. Here's the story, including the picture which I took and they published. :-)

Blue Ribbon Grandma Meets Red Ribbon Riders

For the past three years, 88-year-old Joyce Kihlgren of rural Pine Island, Minnesota, has supported the bicyclists taking part in the Chipotle sponsored Red Ribbon Ride in a unique fashion. She has set up an unofficial checkpoint near her farm and offered encouragement, support, and a rice crispy bar to each rider who passed by. Grandma K, as she is known by the riders and crew of the event, not only handed out a delicious home-made treat, but in each baggie, she included a note of appreciation. While offering encouragement and support to a worthy charity would be spectacular in itself, the most heart-warming aspect of Grandma K’s involvement is that she wrote each of the three hundred notes herself – by hand.

She started writing in April and just finished up when it came time to hand them out. When asked if she had ever considered creating just one note and photocopying it, she tossed aside the suggestion with a wave of her hand saying, “I could have done that, but I wouldn’t have felt like I’d done my share.”

The note that Grandma K wrote isn’t just a word or two of thanks. She took the time to fill a bookmark sized sheet of paper from top to bottom. After addressing each note to the riders and listing her name and address – so they could send her a thank you card if they desired – each note contained this message:
“The Lord has the whole world in His hands. You’re a Godsend to all who need your support, making a world of difference. You have given your all. The Lord watches over you. Trust in Him always! I’m proud and thankful to you all. Peace! God loves you and so do I.”

Rick Spalding, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, introduced Grandma K to the Red Ribbon Ride. He is her eldest grandson and has participated in the event since its inception. The ride, the largest HIV/AIDS ride in Minnesota, made its debut four years ago and has raised nearly two million dollars for nine Minnesota based, AIDS service organizations.

This year’s ride took place Thursday, July 13 thru Sunday, July 16. The riders were scheduled to pass by Grandma K’s checkpoint between eight o’clock and noon, Saturday morning. She was ready. She arrived at 7:30 and stayed until the last rider passed, even though the temperature flirted with 90 degrees.

Due to the heat, Grandma K had her own crew on board. Her daughter, Jan Bruce, of rural Pine Island, Rick’s wife, Tina Spalding, and Linda, a friend of the family from Minneapolis, took turns inviting the riders to “get off their seat and have a treat.” They also kept a close eye on Grandma K, reminding her to drink plenty of water and making sure she spent sufficient time in the shade.

Grandma K has become quite a legend among the riders and crew of the event. Many of the participants commented that they had saved their notes from previous years. Some even said they still have her notes clipped to their refrigerators.

Spending a muggy, July morning sitting in the sun on the side of the road and handing out homemade goodies to passing cyclists might not seem very appealing to some people, but to Joyce Kihlgren of Pine Island, Minnesota, it’s one of the highlights of her year.

Poetography Contest
Twice a year, Crossings hosts a combination poetry and photography contest. In the spring, the poets send in their poems first and photographers are invited to take pictures that relate to the poems. In the fall, it's reversed with the photographers sending their photos in first. Well, I had both a poem and a photograph accepted and I get to take part in the winner's pageant on October 7, 2006. Needless to say, I'm quite thrilled. After the pageant, I'll post my photo and poem here for all to see.

NaNoWriMo
That's right, it's almost November and another season of National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever swore that one day you'd write a novel? Do you enjoy setting and reaching formidible challenges? Well, if you've said yes to either question, then you need to participate in NaNoWriMo at least once.

The premise is simple - write fifty thousand words of fiction or more during the month of November. Now, before you start to scoff, it's not only possible but completed by thousands of participants every year. You don't have to worry about typos and you don't have to be concerned whether your story is cohesive, you just need to log fifty thousand words by the end of the month.

We had our kick-off meeting for NaNoWriMo this past Saturday. Eleven people showed up and we had a great time.

A Couple More Places
I have a couple other sites that I like to check out and update. So if you want to learn more about me and see more of what I'm doing, check out: 43 Things and MySpace.

Feb 14, 2006 Quick Update
Clicking Along
The last time I updated here, I was gearing up for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. I won again this year with just over 52,000 words. I still have some work to do cleaning the story up, but once again it was an adrenaline rush like few other I've experienced. I think that only Skydiving was more of a thrill. I found a lot of writing tools to help me with my novel-writing this year and I'd like to mention one of those now.

PBWiki
I don't know if you're up on the whole WIKI craze, but a wiki is a hypertext-driven note system where new pages are automatically created as you add topics to your notes. I found this very useful in keeping track of the characters, scene locations, plot twists, and other important pieces of information as my novel went from zero words to 50,000 words in the span of a mere month.

There are a number of WIKIs available on the web but I chose to go with PBwiki. It's called PBwiki because according to their website, they make creating a wiki as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich. I can't compare it to all the other WIKIs out there but I can say that it is very easy to set up and even easier to use. Turning a word in your text as you type into a link to a new page is extrememly simple. The cool part is that the color of the link will change depending on whether you've created the new page or not, so it's easy to look through your notes and see which of the topics are still blank. I would recommend this to anyone with a dependable internet connection and a need for taking detailed notes about a complex subject.

The only problem I had with the site was I forgot the password I was assigned when I set up the site and the first time I used their request a password page, it didn't send it. I emailed their tech support guys, and I was up in running about a half hour or so afterward.

Oct 19, 2005 What's Happening?
Long Time No Update
I know it’s been a long time since I updated this site, but I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. I originally set up this site to store the stuff I’ve created for the computer games I like to play. Since then, I’ve pretty much given up playing computer games. I spend most of my personal time working on my writing. I have an account at Writing.com where I store my work, so up until recently, I haven’t had much of a need for this site. I am getting to the point in my writing career, however, where I am going to need my own corner of the web to store my work so I am working on a major overhaul for Lord Corwin’s Palace. I haven’t decided how much of the old contend, if any, I will continue to store here, so if you want any of my gaming tools, grab them while you can.

NaNoWriMo
Last year I happened across an announcement for National Novel Writing Month in an issue of Writer’s Digest. The idea of writing an entire novel in a month intrigued me, especially since I was currently working on my second novel. I found out a couple of friends would also be participating and I signed up. A lot happened in November last year, but I did manage to write an entire novel in one month and I vowed that I would take part in NaNoWriMo every year from that point on.

Well, NaNoWriMo is upon us again. In keeping with the spirit of No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, I am going to write my novel with minimal preparation. To make this as much of a challenge as possible, I’m going to write in the Horror genre this year. I don’t like horror movies and I never read horror stories, so I think I’m going to be able to maintain the same “flying by the seat of my pants” feeling that I had throughout the first year.

Live Journal
I opened up an account at Live Journal. I am planning to use it for journaling my experiences with NaNoWriMo, but since I am also a big football fan, I’m sure my sports opinions will show up there as well.

Feb 21, 2005 Song-Writing Anyone?
Overview
Things are running smooth. Now, life has continued to keep things interesting, but overall, things are coming along nicely. I have joined a goal and accomplisment group at Writing.com and while I am behind on a few things, I am doing pretty good. Another writer friend of mine, who likes my poetry, suggested that I try my hand at song-writing. Well, seeing one of my songs reach the #1 spot is a goal of mine and it would be kind of hard to reach that goal without writing them, so I have started. I have seven of them ready as of this writing.

Writing Songs
My favorite type of music is Country so all of the seven songs that I have composed thus far have a strong Country feel to them. I have one first place in a contest for one of them and I want to list that here. Before I do, however, here is the address to the folder where all of my songs are: SONGS. Now to my award-winning song, Listen To My Heart.

Listen To My Heart

Her company looks intriguing, but my head tells me “no.”
The journey looks inviting, but I choose not to go.
These little decisions, I make each and every day,
are treasures gone forever, and cannot be reclaimed.

She smiled when she saw me, and then she dropped her eyes.
I felt the tension in the air, but found myself too shy.
Now she’s just a memory, and I’m still all alone.
Another treasure down the drain, another option blown.

Refrain:
Oh when…will…I…listen to my heart?
Oh when…will…all…of my fears depart?
Regrets are all I’m left with, when I fall apart.
So when…will…I…listen to my heart?


They said it’d be a good time, they wanted me to go.
They talked of sandy beaches, but it’d cost some dough.
I took a couple moments, to run it through my mind,
but my lack of courage, left me disinclined.

Refrain:
Oh when…will…I…listen to my heart?
Oh when…will…all…of my fears depart?
Regrets are all I’m left with, when I fall apart.
So when…will…I…listen to my heart?


I don’t know the future, I don’t know what it holds.
I’ll just have to wait and see, just how it all unfolds.
But one thing’s for certain, if I don’t take a chance.
I’ll surely be sitting out that famous, final dance.

Refrain:
Oh when…will…I…listen to my heart?
Oh when…will…all…of my fears depart?
Regrets are all I’m left with, when I fall apart.
So when…will…I…listen to my heart?


Conclusion
I have been quite busy. I am finally at a place in my life where things are clicking and I'm enjoying most of it. I don't know where all of this is headed, but I finally learned to sit back and enjoy the journey. Of course, I have to keep busy and making progress, but not being concerned with how things turn out is very liberating.

Jan 21, 2005 My Dreams They Are a Happening
Overview
I don't even know where to start. It has been over a month since I updated this site. I have gotten engaged, broken up, been published, fell in love again, brought my online portfolio to one hundred items, been promoted to a preferred author at Writing.com, inked a detailed plan for meeting my goals, and written some of the most emotional pieces of poetry I ever have. All in all, this has been an awesome end to an awesome year and an even more awesome start to an even more awesome one.

Engage
I met a lady on-line who seemed to be everything I ever wanted in a woman. We talked for hours on end until, finally, I proposed to her. She accepted and moved back to Minnesota to be with me. Well, we ran into some obstacles and we both realized that we had acted a little too soon. Remaining friends, we decided to...

Break Up
Yes, we realized that while we had a lot in common and shared a similar world view, we were also extremely incompatible. Oops! Well, she has moved on and so have I. We are friends and I wish her the best in all her endeavors.

Published
I think I may have mentioned this before, but there is a little more to the story. A nurse who has ties -- not based on employment -- to where I work, saw my story that was published in the newsletter at work. She was so impressed, that she has taken up the job of distributing it to the various nursing homes and assited living centers where she has clients. We have come to an agreement that will not make me rich, but will get my name and my voice to more and more people. Needless to say -- though I am going to say it -- I am very thrilled.

Fell In Love Again
OK, now I know what you're thinking. I do. I understand perfectly and I agree. I am incorrigible when it comes to romance and love. I will forever see the possibility that there is the perfect person for me and I will keep searching until I find her. The thing that I realize that most people probably don't, is that she really does exist and I really am going to find her.

One Hundred Items
I now have one hundred items -- counting folders and invisible items -- in my Online Portfolio. Most of the items are poems and I encourage you all to take a look. I don't want to brag, as there is always room for improvement, but I seem to have a knack for packing a poem full of emotion. I am starting to work on my short stories again as well, but I don't know when I will have one to the point where I am satisfied with publishing it.

Preferred Author
A Preferred Author at Writing.com is one who is considered to be in the upper ten percent of all the authors at the site. Being promoted, therefore, was quite an honor and one that I am trying to live up to. I am not sure, but it might be the primordial award that I received in 2004 -- and I received a lot of them.

My Dream Vision
Thanks to the book, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, I have created a very detailed and ambitious Dream Vision. Here, let me share it with you:

My Dream Vision
1. Financial: I would like to make over $100,000 a year. More would be OK, too, but enough to be able to fully take care of my medical expenses, living expenses, and extra for some fun time. I would like a medium sized house. It is a split-level with a foyer directly off of the front door. In the back of the foyer is a bathroom and to its right is a staircase upstairs. To the left of the foyer is the family room with a workroom in back. To the right is the dining room with the kitchen in back. The workroom and kitchen are connected by a hallway that goes behind the staircase. The upstairs has three bedrooms and my study. Each bedroom has its own bathroom. The house looks nice from the outside but isn’t ostentatious. The yard is large and is covered in beautiful grass with small trees sprinkled throughout. There are flowers along the outside of the house as well as along the walkway from the street. The house has a two car garage and is connected to the house through the workroom.

2. Career: I am a writer. I have a weekly column for inspiring and encouraging people that is a touch on the humor side. I also am writing books. I am working on non-fictional inspirational books as well as my novels. I also publish the occasional book on poetry. I work with an agent who knows me inside and out and who finds projects for me that he knows I will be perfect for. I also do some self-publishing. I make around $150,000 average per year.

3. Recreation: We like to go on trips to see parts of America and the world that we haven’t seen. We also like to play card games and board games. We don’t watch much TV and have it mostly for the news and for viewing DVDs. We go out at least once a month to a place where we both enjoy. This usually involves dinner and dancing, but sometimes we take in a play or musical concert. I do watch a bit of football during season, and my wife has her own interests.

4. Health: We eat healthy meals which includes a salad at every one except breakfast. We drink coffee occasionally, but mostly we drink flavored waters and juices. I do have to have my Frappuccino from time to time. We both take vitamins and try to get some walking in three or four times a week. We don’t run or go to the gym, but we do own a few exercise pieces in the house.

5. Relationships: I have an excellent relationship with my wife. She and I are both on the same sheet of music about encouragement and support. We both like to do charity and we both love God. We both pray a lot and we both like to help people when they are brought into our lives. We talk a lot about what we want and what we would like, and we always try to settle any differences as soon as they arise. We have a relationship based on mutual support and not competition. Both of us feels that if the other succeeds than we both succeed and so we are vigilant about not letting anything get in the way of our love for each other. I have a good relationship with the rest of my family as well. Even my brother is starting to see that I am not his enemy and do not do things to bring him down. We see each other often and are always there for each other when something goes wrong. I have good working relationships as I have taken the time to set and maintain my boundaries. People know that if I tell them I will do something that I will, but also know that I expect the same in return. They know me to be flexible but not a pushover.

6. Personal: I go back to college to get my Masters of Fine Arts for writing. I teach an occasional class at the local community college and I still enjoy supporting writing.com. I like to take part in charity events. I have started a collection of autographs. Once a year, my wife and I visit someplace outside the United States where we have never been before. I have decided to give my hand to cartooning a bit as well.

7. Community: I dedicate one day a month to help with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. I teach a creative writing course to high school aged kids from impoverished homes. I am a big brother. I especially like helping the aged and the young. I find that I have a good repertoire with them and that they can see that I care.

Emotional Poetry
I would like to list a couple of my poems here as an example of what I am currently working on. The rest of my poetry can be found at my Online Portfolio.

Subliminal Message

Was it her playful smile,
or her surreptitious peek?
Am I off by a mile?
Maybe I should speak.

Subtext –
hidden text –
a playful hex?

She needs my keys.
She bats her eyes,
tells me please.
Did her hand brush mine?

Message –
to assuage –
or just enrage?

She’s always near,
makes my heartbeat erratic.
Are her intentions clear?
If so, why do I panic?

Trepidation –
apprehension –
such lovely tension.


She Was

She was a warm summer breeze,
In the middle of winter –
Unexpected,
Unpredictable,
And gone too soon.

She was a discovered flask of water,
On a sweltering day –
Unexpected,
Refreshing,
And relief for a time.

She was a call from a loved one,
After a tragedy –
Unexpected,
Liberating,
And then the fear returns.


Loving Myself

No one ever told me.
Nobody let me know,
That I can truly love myself,
Completely.
I can see my defects and strengths,
And still love me.

My walls I have removed,
My heart I do lay bare.
I offer my love to all
Unconditionally.
Hurt me if you want to –
I won’t reciprocate.

If I get dragged through the mud,
I’ll smile to myself,
And study the texture,
Wondering,
What makes the water and dirt
So compatible.

My fears, they are a leaving.
My attitude has changed.
I’ll walk the path that God has set,
Happily.
When I run into obstacles,
I’ll simply trust.


A Mi Amado Dios

Oh Dios mío, por favor,
ayúdame a mi.
Te quiero desde mis adentros -
siempre fué así.

Hé visto tus gran creaciones.
Hé visto tu amor.
Pues, quítame mis dolorcitos.
Quita mi temor.

Y desde aquí en la tierra,
mostrará bondad.
A todos mis buen hermancitos,
enseñará verdad.

Bien sé yo que el futuro
estará feliz.
Pero tengo dias en que
solo veo el gris.

Oh Dios mío, por favor,
ayúdame a mi.
Dame fuerza para darte
bonita fe a ti.


In Conclusion
Well, that's about it for now. Last year was a truly stellar year. I grew in ALL aspects of my life and am more grounded and centered than I have ever been. This year has started out with a feel and at a speed that looks to eclipse last year. WOW! Thanks for stopping by.

Nov 05, 2004 Lots to Right/Write About
Awards
I am happy to announce that I have three items at my on-line portfolio that have been awarded. Two are poems and one is an article I crafted over what my favorite quote is. I encourage you to take a look at my portfolio and let me know what you think.

Published
Well, by the time this gets posted, the owner of Lord Corwin's Palace will be a published author. My first publishing credit is coming from the newsletter at work. Before you scoff too loud, however, the company in question is international and the article is going in the main newsletter for the entire company, and not just a local one.

Negative People
I have met many people in my life.
A lot of them,
I am sad to say,
were born discouragers.

They see people who grab
life by the horns
and they feel threatened
and try to put them in their place.

They see a dreamer
and realize that they themselves
have given up on theirs.

They see someone sincere
and realize that they
have sold out long ago.

They see someone who
is on top of their goals
and who will finish the race
regardless of the obstacles
that are encountered
and they realize that,
for them,
living has become an obstacle.

The truly sad part,
the aspect most pitiable,
is that these people
are so warped by their
perfection of the act of quitting,
that they sincerely feel
that those who overcome
are the ones who have given up.

They live for the daily tabloids,
where they’re self-doubt,
which they confuse for intuition,
proves true in the lives
of those who they are
convinced have sold out
to make it big.

They have no need of mirrors
as the only time
they truly see themselves
is on the nightly sitcoms.
Only there,
they don’t realize
that they are looking
at carbon copies of themselves.

The laugh track fools them.

They laugh,
because it is ridiculous,
and then continue on
the same audience-less sitcom
that is their life.

One day,
they wake up and realize
that their end is near.
It is only then,
that they allow themselves
the luxury of
examining their regrets,
only it is too late
to affect even the smallest.

The final curtain is called,
before they realize
they fell asleep
in the dressing room.

At all costs,
do not be like these people.


Oct 29, 2004 Long Time and No Update
Writing
I have been very busy since the last time that I updated this site. I now have a flourishing on-line portfolio at writing.com. The direct link to my portfolio is right here. I currently have 31 items published in 6 folders. I have poems, articles, and short stories, and today I received my first award for a poem I wrote about being a writer. I have sent a few of my writings in for publication, and I think I will be published before the year is over.

On October 18, 2004, I passed the 50,000 word mark in the novel that I am working on. As I promised, I have published the prologue to this novel in my portfolio. The prologue is short, but it gives a very vivid glimpse of one of the main characters in the book.

I also have decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to start from scratch and finish the rough draft of a 50,000 word or larger novel in one month's time. The contest starts on November 1, 2004 and I have my story idea picked out. I don't want to give away too many details, but I am planning on writing about the fallout from a successful attempt of domestic terrorism.

It is both humbling and exciting to watch one's dreams be fulfilled. I hope that everyone who reads this never shys away from reaching for the heavens.

Aug 25, 2004 Latest Developments
Overview
A lot has happened to me since the last time I updated my site. I received a promotion at work. I have finished a fourth of my current novel. I have published my first short story. I bought a laptop computer. OK, now to the details.

Promotion from Commotion
On August 2, 2004 I learned from my supervisor that one of my coworkers had filed a complaint against me claiming that I had made derogatory remarks about her monthly visitor. When my supervisor told me that, my jaw hit the floor. I have never ever had a conversation with this person about her or anyone else’s period and I let my supervisor know that this was a blatant lie.

An investigation was conducted and it was determined that I had committed no wrong-doing. I talked to our coordinator and told her that there was no way that I could continue working with someone who would try to ruin my excellent reputation in this way and they offered me a leadership position. The only caveat was that the position was for the day shift and I was working the overnight shift. I talked to a number of friends of mine who are leads and two days later I called the coordinator to let her know that I was honored by the offer and would be happy to take it. The next day, the coordinator called me back to let me know that the lead person on the evening shift was interested in the day shift and would I like to take the evening lead position instead. I was ecstatic.

August 12 was my last night of overnights and August 16 I started training for the position. Tonight was my last night of training, and tomorrow, August 24, I go live as the new evening lead. To say the last two weeks have been hectic would be a gross understatement.

My Second Novel
I am happy to report that I am currently at 19,300 words in my second novel and have just completed chapter 6. I have been learning a lot about pacing and scene variation, and at the risks of being self-aggrandizing, I must say that what I have so far is both interesting and unpredictable while maintaining an addictive level of tension. At my current rate, I hope to be finished with the rough draft – about 100,000 words – by December.

This project is by far the largest I have ever attempted. The amount of characters is not that great, but the interactions and subtle connections between them was too much for me to keep organized in my head. To help me keep everything straight, I created an Excel spreadsheet that is proving useful in arranging the scenes and also helping me keep the personalities and relationships between the characters well defined. I am especially proud of the Prologue which, IMHO, does a great job of setting the tone for the entire story. Once I pass the halfway mark of the book, I will post the Prologue here.

Published Short Story
I ran into some hassles posting my short stories at Gone Gold. I was receiving some very helpful criticism and suggestions from a number of posters, but a few were intent on trying to discourage me from pursuing my dream. A friend of mine mentioned that Gone Gold was probably not the best forum for me to showcase my writing and suggested that I instead seek out an online writing forum. I followed his advice and opened up my portfolio. I currently have only one story published, but the reviews thus far have all been positive. I have one more short story that I wrote yesterday that I want to post, but for now here is the first short story I have published.

The Loner
Barry Morton walks to the edge of the street and stops. He raises his eyes from where they were directed, at the ground two feet in front of him, and checks both directions for cars before continuing across the street and into Fazzo’s Pub. His gait is tired and weak. He labors over to the bar and lifts himself up on one of the barstools. Without looking up, he taps his finger a couple of times on the bar in front of him. Roger, the bartender, turns in the direction of Barry’s tapping. Roger nods his head almost imperceptibly and grabs a drink glass in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. He salts the rim of the glass, sets the glass on the rim of the bar, and scoops ice into the glass with his free hand. He then pours rum on top of the ice in one smooth motion where he raises the spout of the rum bottle high above the glass and then lowers it back down. While he pours the rum, he grabs a plastic bottle of off-white liquid in his other hand and pours it in the same fashion as he poured the rum. Once the glass is full, Roger tips up both of the bottles and places them back where he had found them in a rack by the bar. All in all, it took only three seconds for Roger to make the drink, pick it up in his hands, and place it down in front of Barry. Barry pulls the drink to him. He then takes out his wallet from his back pocket, removes a couple of bills, and hands them to Roger. In a flash, Roger snatches the money out of Barry’s hand and slams a couple of coins on the bar next to Barry’s drink. “Tough one today?” Roger says.

“Yep.” Barry says, without looking up.

“Worse than normal?”

“Nope.”

“So about average then?”

Barry lifts up his eyes and glares at Roger. Roger retreats a step. After two or three seconds, Barry lowers his eyes back to his drink. Roger shrugs his shoulders and walks to the far end of the bar where the waitresses and waiters make their drink orders. He then grabs a rag and walks the perimeter of the bar, scans its surface, and wipes it with the rag in half a dozen places.

Roger approaches where Barry is sitting. With the rag still in his hand Roger wipes up a couple of small puddles sitting near Barry’s drink. “Is the family fine?” Roger says to Barry.

“Yep.” Barry says, his eyes still glued to the drink in front of him.

“Nobody’s sick?”

“Nope.”

“So all is well and good then?”

Barry continues to stare at his drink. Roger looks at Barry intently, but Barry doesn’t move his eyes or open his mouth to speak. Roger tugs on his clip-on bowtie a few times before turning back around and walking to the other side of the bar. After a few minutes, Barry taps his finger a couple of times on the bar. Roger hears the tapping, turns toward Barry, and proceeds to make another drink just like the one he made earlier. Roger removes the empty glass from in front of Barry and places down the newly created drink in its stead. “Think it will rain later?” Roger says.

“Yep.” Barry says without moving his head at all.

“Think you’ll get wet walking home?”

“Nope.”

“So you don’t think it will rain until later then?”

Barry picks up the drink in front of him. He raises it to his lips, tips it up, and empties all of it into his mouth. He then sets the empty drink glass back down on the bar and lifts himself off of the barstool. Roger watches as Barry, with his eyes staring down, walks to the door. Barry stops and turns toward Roger. “Thanks.” Barry says and then walks out to the sidewalk. He then walks to the edge of the street and stops. He raises his eyes to look both ways for cars and then crosses the street and lumbers down the sidewalk. He whistles to himself a low cheery tune as he walks. After about 30 steps a couple stray drops of rain fall down and hit him on the cheek. “Oops.” He says to himself and continues walking down the sidewalk with his eyes directed at a spot no more than two feet in front.

Final Notes
In conclusion, it has been an interesting few weeks. I think I am getting a better feel for writing everyday and I am really enjoying my new responsibilities at work. I think the novel is going to be one I will be able to sell, and who knows, I may even have some other publishing credits before I even finish that. Well, take care all. I will get another update here in a couple three weeks, and don’t forget to check back for the Prologue to my novel which I will be posting shortly.

Aug 2, 2004 Some Notes and a Photo
Writing
I have been very busy writing. I have the first two chapters of my second novel almost completed. This story is a challenge for a number of reasons. To start with, most of the characters are people who are outside of my circle of aquaintances. I am having to surmise nearly every aspect of their dialog and actions. So far, it is going pretty good, but others will have to be the final judges. Another aspect that makes this project a bit harder is that it is in a genre that I rarely read. I am not a big fan of horror/suspense, but I really liked the story idea and wanted the challenge. Perhaps the largest challenge is that with this book, I am shooting for more than 100,000 words. I am currently averaging about 1000 words a day.

Lord Corwin
I have had people ask me to post a picture of myself, especially since I lost so much weight (almost 40 pounds). So, here goes.



Something to Think About
Some people sit around doing nothing but complaining that the world is against them. Well, the world is against everyone of us, but some of us stand up and fight back.

Jul 22, 2004 Following Dreams
Writing
Hello Internet readers. I know there aren't many of you who come to this out of the way place in our information superhighway, but thanks to my hit counter, I know that some of you do. Why? Why here? At one time you might have come for the sparse yet detailed gaming information I listed. In the past few months I have kind of distanced myself from gaming. I don't know if the quality of the new releases has gone down, or my expectations have gone up, or if, rather, I may actually, finally be growing up. Whatever the cause, my time the past few months have been involved with literature. I have crisscrossed the beautiful USA, circa 1955, with a truth-seeking young writer named Sal Paradise. I have journeyed to northern California with a troupe of dreamers hoping to make it big growing Marijuana and watched how dreams can fall apart when they are only followed for the payoff. I was allowed a glimpse into the early years of what would have been one of America's most celebrated writers, had he not felt the need to place a hose in the tailpipe of his car and take a trip to wherever eternity leads. I have been fortified by the struggles and perseverance of too many people to mention, and through it all, I found that my dreams are worth nurturing and discovering and following.

June 3rd I decided to start putting to paper a story that has been thumping around in my head for at least thirty years. I wrote the rough draft of the first chapter that night, and though I could see it would need some work, the progress I had made spurred me on and on July 5th, I finished the rough draft of the final chapter. In all there are 10 chapters, which follow the life of a confused but searching young man from about age eight until age eleven or twelve. I am currently working on the first major rewrite, which will probably not be the last, but having a dream and taking action on it, even though at times I didn't feel that I was making very steady progress, I now have something which I sincerely feel will one day be available at the aspiring novelist haunting grounds, Barnes and Noble.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to a number of people, but the two who stand out as being most deserving of thanks are Bill Harris, writer of the ever-witty Night Call column at GoneGold.com and who now is sharing his insightful thoughts at his own site, erroneously named dubious quality. Bill is someone who from our first conversation, invited me to run my work by him for advice and suggestions, and who has kept to that promise, even when my emails to him were becoming more often than I had a right to. I consider him a friend, though since our relationship is one of mentor to wannabe, he receives very little while I receive in spades.

The other person I feel the need to thank for getting this far, and most definitely I recognize I have a long way to go, is Kari Frana. Kari and I met through an online dating site and though I proved to be a bit too erratic for her, she has decided to remain my pen pal, friend, inspiration and sounding board. I owe her kind words and constant encouragement more than I could ever repay.

I am also busy on two other works, one is a collection of short stories, which I am getting better at, even though my first one was amateurish even for an amateur. I currently have four that are rough drafted or nearly so, and I hope to have 21 for the final collection. I chose 21 as my favorite number is 7 and my next favorite is 3. My final work is also going to be a novel, but will be more extensive, and darker, than the first one.

Some Thoughts
The difference between success and failure is time and effort.

Obstacles are chances for growth and rejections and criticism are opportunities to refine.

No one is guaranteed success, but only the quitter and the man controlled by the fear of failure are guaranteed failure.

Take chances; some will pay off, but all can be learned from.

Whatever dream you have, take it seriously, nurture it and above all, work it.

Never accept failure as permanent. The only failure that is permanent is the one accepted as permanent.

Never accept the fallacy that you have peaked; peaking only comes after one has stopped pushing himself

Never chase away a possible teacher regardless of how unlikely they appear to have anything to impart. If the ant can teach industriousness, then any human you encounter, regardless of their age, race, level of success achieved or outward appearance, can provide some valuable lessons and insight that can be applied to your life.

Don't run away or hide from your sins, mistakes, failings or episodes of weak character. To accept one's frailties is to come to touch with who we are as humans and leads to unlimited potential for growth.

Always assume other people are nice friendly people; most will prove to be that way. Likewise, if you assume people are rude and intolerant, most will once again live up to your expectations.

Jun 28, 2004 My Take on Happiness
Why Am I Usually Positive?
I know that everybody has their own take on what they feel are the secrets to happiness, but from my experiences and observations, it seems that quite a few people seem to find it extremely difficult to latch onto this elusive concept. People sometimes ask me why I am usually so positive and light-hearted, especially since I have not lived an easy life. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to devote my journal time to this topic, and I am quite pleased with the results. I have sent out what I came up with to some of my loved ones and due to their positive comments, I have decided to post my Secrets to Happiness here on my site.

Secrets of Happiness
Don’t live to impress other humans. If you live to impress God, consider just doing your best instead. The key to being happy is recognizing that God loves us. Other factors to being happy are:

1. Know your limitations.
2. Learn to say no without anger or frustration or guilt.
3. Always strive for your best, but recognize that sometimes, maybe most times, your best won’t be ‘the best’.
4. Always be happy for other people’s successes.
5. Always be sad for other people’s difficulties.
6. Never say, “I told you so” or imply it by your actions or gestures.
7. Remember that only you can affect your own emotions. Other people can only attempt to affect them.
8. Forgive freely; both yourself and others.
9. Never seek revenge.
10. When seeking justice, make sure it is justice and not revenge you are seeking.
11. Always double check your motives
12. Never distrust the motives of others.
13. Always try to err in favor of others.
14. Work at appearing reasonable.
15. Never gossip.
16. Set goals, both long and short term.
17. Wait for one night to pass before sending out any correspondence you fear may be taken the wrong way.
18. Use a spell checker in all correspondence.
19. Never expect perfection from yourself or others.
20. Never do things solely for recognition.
21. Always do charity anonymously.
22. Surprise people with gifts of kindness.
23. Strive to always say “Please”, “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome”.
24. Never take the easy way out and give money to a beggar; buy him or her a meal or clothes instead.
25. If someone offers to work for food, keep them to their promise.
26. Never hold a grudge.
27. Laugh at other people’s jokes.
28. Try to find something positive to say about everybody you know.
29. Try to forget the negative you could say about everybody you know.
30. Never stop dreaming.
31. Never feel you are too old to play.
32. Exercise your mind; read quality literature.
33. Splurge from time to time.
34. Never spank your children, teach them the difference between right and wrong instead.
35. Never pop someone else’s bubble.
36. Take pictures of your loved ones and give them copies.
37. Take the time to go through your photos from time to time.
38. Practice empathy.
39. Clean a part of your residence every day, even if it is just a small part.
40. Fold clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer.
41. Limit the amount of time spend watching TV.
42. Say “Thank You” at every meal even if you don’t think anyone is listening.
43. Look people directly in the eyes.
44. Smile profusely.
45. Doodle.
46. Write poetry.
47. Send out a “Thank You” card for every gift, card or significant gesture.
48. Keep a journal.
49. Exercise at least once a week.
50. Be patient with the elderly.
51. Be patient with children.
52. Get to know one new person every month.
53. Keep your eyes open for greeting cards your loved ones might enjoy receiving.
54. Never expect recompense for kind acts.
55. Never refuse the kind gesture of a loved one.
56. Keep your bedroom the neatest place in your house.
57. Learn how to organize drawers and closets.
58. Clean the sink, counters, stove top and dining table every time you do the dishes.
59. Be alert for positive music.
60. Never allow your neighbor to hear your music from their place.
61. Hold the door for the person walking behind you.
62. Say thank you when someone holds the door for you.
63. Throw all trash in the proper receptacle.
64. Don’t judge people by the job they have, the car they drive or the clothes they wear.
65. Firmly believe that ALL problems have a workable solution.
66. Use sarcasm sparingly.
67. Have at least one clean joke memorized at the ready.
68. Give others the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
69. Keep your promises, even when it is to your disadvantage.
70. Always try to be early.
71. Avoid unnecessary competition.
72. Take care of at least one pet.
73. Always clean up after your pets.
74. Plant flowers in front of your house.
75. Don’t try to outdo your neighbor’s house.
76. Dress modestly.
77. Bathe regularly.
78. Use deodorant daily.
79. Save your pocket change.
80. Keep a camera and film in your car.
81. Collect something: books, spoons, pictures of owls; something.
82. Iron your clothes.
83. Develop a firm handshake.
84. Believe in yourself and others.
85. Don’t belittle other people’s beliefs.
86. Keep your head up when you walk.
87. Be alert to the beauty of your surroundings.
88. Never pass on spam email.
89. Never involve others in chain letters, chain email, etc.
90. Keep moist towelettes in your car.
91. Keep your car neat, inside and out.
92. Clean your shoes regularly.
93. Try different foods, even ones you know you don’t like.
94. Always ask people if they want your advice before giving it.
95. Never give advice to those who don’t want it.
96. Respect people’s personal space.
97. Always try to leave people in a better mood than what you encounter them in.
98. Clean up small messes right away.
99. Avoid impulse buying, especially with expensive things.
100. Get the oil in your car changed regularly.
101. Always help your loved ones with the household chores.

I just jotted down what came into my mind in the order it came. I have read a number of self-help books, including the best self-help book of all, the Bible, so I am sure that a lot of this is somebody else's wisdom, just passed on, but each and every item on this list is something that increases my happiness when I put them in practice.

Jun 20, 2004 Finally an Update
A Lot Going On
A lot has happened in my life since I last updated my site here. My wife leaving me in January has turned out to be a blessing and I am not sure where to begin listing the positives that have come from this potentially negative situation.

My wife left me on January 26, 2004 and on February 1, I moved permanently back to Minnesota. I am now able to pick up my Dad from Dialysis regularly and am able to see a great portion of my family quite often. I finally feel like I am an active participant in mine and my family's lives.

New Job - New field
I originally avoided looking for work in the computer field, where I was employed for aprox. the past 10 years, as I was sick of the back-stabbing atmosphere that the horrible technology economy has done to the field. While visiting my Dad at the Assisted Living complex where he lives, I noticed I really enjoy being around older people. I like bringing smiles to their faces and I find I am always learning new and interesting things from them. I told Dad I was going to try to get a job at his facility, and March 03, 2004 I started orientation. The facility primarily serves those who have Dementia and Alzhymers, but also has two cottages set aside for those who only need a little assistance with their daily routine. I work in one of the Dementia/Alzhymers buildings, in fact the one where the residents are the most advanced in their disease. The work I do is a cross between a health aid and a janitor, but I find it so easy to motivate myself to work with those who are no longer able to take care of themselves. The families are so appreciative, and the smiles from the residents make my day again and again.

I work the night shift, so a good portion of my time spent working is doing janitorial tasks, but this is the best shift for me as the other two shifts involve cooking and our residents have suffered enough. It is against our resident's right to privacy for me to mention any of them in any specific way, but suffice to say that over the past three months I have come to appreciate each one's unique personality and they all are very special to me.

Back to Dating
I waited three months from when my wife walked out on me, but I finally felt I was ready to get back into the dating world. I signed up for Match.com - my profile name is TomInRoch if you want to check it out. I so far have only had one date - with a simply fabulous woman - but I have met a couple of others and am positive that eventually I am going to find the right one for me.

New Look
I took a look in the mirror one day and was less than impressed at what I saw. I felt it was time I finally got back into the shape I was in through my twenties and have modified my eating habits and my exercise routine. I have so far lost 30 pounds and am feeling quite fit at 160 pounds. My target goal is 145, and I hope to be there by the end of the summer.

I can't name any specific diet for my loss of weight, as I came up with a plan of my own. I have been substituting at least two meals a week for a salad, reduced soda pop down to no more than one can a day, drink a lot of water throughout the day, limit snacks to one snack time per day and exercise for at least a half hour at least five times a week. I don't see any reason why I won't reach my target weight goal. I also hope to have my washboard abs back by the end of summer.

Reading/Writing
I have increased the variety of the reading I do to include autobiographies, biographies and self help guides. A couple of the books I am currently reading, Creative Writing:Forms and Techniques and Writing Dialogue have been very informative and are helping me to become a better writer. By better writer, I mean to suggest that I am a writer now. I know there is a lot of room for improvement, but one of my long time goals is to pursue a career in the writing field. I will be posting soon, some of the stuff I have created thus far, and I will ALWAYS welcome any feedback, positive or negative, on my work. A sample of what I have done can be found in these two threads: poems and a short story. As you can see from the threads, the nice people at Gone Gold have been considerate enough to let me know exactly what is not working in my writing, so that I can improve and become better. I appreciate very much their detailed and blunt criticisms.

Conclusion
There is an old cliché which states, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade". I never understood the importance of this simple piece of advice until recently. I do have a couple of additions to make to it though. Instead of just making lemonade, make lemon bars and lemon merengue pie and lemon scented dish soap or whatever other lemon oriented product you can. The point is, don't just look for the bright lining in your troubles, profit from them. Not everybody wants lemonade. Some may prefer bars or pie or detergent. If you take the initiative to search out ways that your problems can be turned into benefits you will find that the possibilities are nearly endless. Not only that, but if you have successfully weathered one of life's setbacks then you are in the perfect position to help others in the same situation. Remember, we are all in this together; we can either make it easier on one another or harder; I am determined to do the former.

Feb 14, 2004 Many Thanks
What Kindness
Wow! I really appreciate all of the kind emails I have been receiving. At first I was kind of hesitant to mention anything about my wife leaving me here, but now I am glad that I did.

Job Hunting
I have had quite a few interviews for various jobs, but it appears I am a little out of practice at job hunting. The last time I went on an interview, other than recently, was in November of 1993. I have two second interviews this coming week, so maybe one of them will lead me back among the gainfully employed.

My Writing
The time off from work has at least left me with more time to concentrate on my writing. I am currently working on a short story about an unfortunate young man who winds up in serious trouble by following his heart. I will post it here when I get it finished.

Jan 28, 2004 GONE!
Black Monday
On Monday, January 28, 2004, my wife of six (nearly seven) years left me. I came home from getting my car's oil changed and I ran head first into her and her family emptying our apartment. I tried talking to her, but she just ignored me. Being more than a little hurt, I broke the 'I Love You' heart-shaped gift she gave me years ago into the pile of trash they, her and her family, had created in the middle of the barren kitchen. I managed to salvage my computer, my games, my books and my clothes, but pretty much everything else, with the curious exception of the toilet paper, had permanently changed ownership.

I am still not sure how I feel about this. I haven't cried yet, though I suppose I will reach that stage before too long, but I have this strong sense of hurt mixed in with a sense of relief, which of course makes me, the sense of relief, feel more than a little guilty.

Where to from here? What happens now? I am heading back to Minnesota to stay for awhile with MY family. I have been away too long, and I feel resentment for all the lost time spent living near my inlaws, that could have been spent with my family.

I don't know when I will get around to updating this site again, but I am sure I will have more positive things to talk about before too long.

Jan 24, 2004 Reading and Writing
A New Direction
Those of you who have been following my site over the years have probably noticed that I have always tried to maintain a game-oriented motif. Like the butterfly, my interests have gone through a metamorphosis and I find myself spending less and less time at the computer playing games. I have even gone so far as to enter into a competition to see who can go the longest without purchasing any computer or video games at all.

What I have been finding myself increasingly more occupied with, is reading and writing. Around the first of December of 2003 I sent an email of appreciation to one of the internet's more proficient columnists. His articles virtually (no pun intended) exude character and personality and I wanted to let him know how much I appreciate his efforts.

I received a response to the effect that if I would ever like him to look at any of my writings that he would be more than happy to take a gander and offer his advice. I directed him to what I considered my best conscious effort up to that point and he pointed out to my that while he felt I had potential, I needed to get a feel for line rhythm. Unfortunately, I had no idea what he was referring to and so he assigned me a list of novels that were all written in distinctively unique styles.

  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    The books awakened in me the passion I had had for reading before having succumbed to the addiction of gaming, and I devoured the offerings ravenously.

    Realizing that it would not take me long to finish the four books, and not wanting to overstay the kindness offered by the above-mentioned columnist, I sent out a plea for book suggestions to the kind people at Gone Gold's Everything But Gaming forum, who, the kind people at Gone Gold, offered a plethora of suggestions, allowing me to compose the following reading list:

  • World's End by TC Boyle
  • Budding Prospects by TC Boyle
  • The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon
  • Wonderboys by Michael Chabon
  • A supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • Lolita by Nabokov
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
  • A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'nan
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • Little, Big by John Crowley
  • Was by Geoff Ryman
  • Shadowland by Peter Straub
  • Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub
  • Magic Terror by Peter Straub
  • City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
  • Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
  • In the Blue Light of African Dreams by Paul Watkins
  • The Promise of Light by Paul Watkins
  • Night Over Day Over Night by Paul Watkins
  • Dubliners by James Joyce
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • The World According to Garp by John Irving
  • The Cider House Rules by John Irving
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
  • Dreamland by Kevin Baker
  • Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker

    As of this writing I have finished all of the books from the original list of four as well as A Prayer for Owen Meany, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, World's End and am about a third of the way through the gigantic Infinite Jest. I would heartily recommend all of the books I have read so far and would also like to suggest that you keep a dictionary nearby for those written by David Foster Wallace as he uses words like peripatetic like most people use the word the. His works can be a little intimidating at first, but if you keep a dictionary on hand and read a little slower, he has an amazing gift of story telling.

    I have five more books from the list on order at Amazon.com and am hoping to have the entire list completed before half of the year is gone.

  • Jan 05, 2004 NWN, NWN and more NWN
    Hordes of the Underdark
    I have now played through Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark three times and I can't praise this beautiful expansion enough. From the engaging environments to the challenging yet wholly solvable puzzles; from the humorous inter-party conversations to the immersive cutscenes; NWN:HotU is not just a well-built expansion, but a necessary addition to any RPG gamer's library.

    My first time through was with a Dwarven true fighter named Brigga Grimmdeever (props to those who recognize the reference). I was itching to play a magic-using character, but fearing I might be a tad rusty, I chose the character I had that was the highest level. Brigga was the first character I defeated the main NWN single-player campaign with and was sitting strong at level 20.

    I enjoyed having Deekin in my party in NWN:SoU so I invited him to once more catalogue my heroic affairs.

    For those of you not familiar with NWN and HotU in particular, four of the original henchman are once again available for hire. The twist this time is that all of them made a harried rush into the bowels of Undermountain in pursuit of an attacking beholder and so to hire them you must first find them and resurrect them. After locating the four potential hirelings, I chose to add the rogue, Tomi, to my band of evil-smiting misfits. What happened with Deeking you ask? Since HotU allows you to have two henchmen instead of just one, the answer to that question is nothing. Deekin and Tomi provided their services to my quest through the Underdark. Having two henchmen is more than just a tactical advantage. Specific conversations have been set up where the two chosen henchmen converse among themselves. I haven't examined all of the possible combinations as of this writing, but of the pairings I have experienced, the conversations add a comical moment to one's adventuring.

    I don't want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that one has to reevaluate one's henchmen strategy upon start of the second of the expansion's three chapters.

    For my second foray into Undermountain and beyond I wanted to experience one of the Prestige classes. The Shadowdancer looked cool and since I wanted the whole experience I initiated the character with SoU. I then took the character through the user created module The Nether Scolls, and finally I braved the dangers of HotU for a second time.

    I would heartily recommend that any fan of NWN play through The Nether Scrolls module. It is very well written and successfully handles the transition between SoU and HotU in a logical manner.

    Overall, I really enjoyed playing as a Shadowdancer, but I should warn you that it is not an easy character to play at lower levels. At higher levels, the Shadowdancer may well be one of the most powerful options available, but at lower levels it requires a lot of guerrilla tactics to survive.

    For my third time through I wanted to play an evil character for once. The Blackguard looked appealing. I decided I would play the character first through the original campaign, then through SoU, The Never Scrolls and finally through HotU. I started off switching between a fighter and a rogue and upon gaining my ninth level I finally fulfilled the requirements to take a level of Blackguard. I chose all of the evil or rude conversation topics and betrayed anyone and everyone I came across. My only out of character moment was with the Djinni bottle, as I didn't want to jeopardize my access to his 'instant store'. I rationalized that even Chaotic Evil people have to kiss up at times when it furthers their evil purposes.

    Level-Up Module
    Having such a good time with NWN and it's expansions I decided to try a few of the user created modules that are available. I found, however, that a good deal of them recommend using a character beyond level 1. I, unfortunately, did not have any characters other than first level ones and those with which I defeated the game and its various expansions. I needed a solution that would allow me to create and outfit a character of any level. I decided that I would create a module that would allow one to customize his character and I am almost finished with it. It allows you to level-up a character all the way to level 40 and I modified the autolevel code from the HotU module so that one can do it instantly if they so desire. The area is attractively furnished and also contains four vendors who will sell all manner of swords, armor, rings, pendants, potions, spells and whatnot so that one can take a first level character and end up with a properly equipped higher level one.

    I have also spent some time with another small adventure using the NWN toolset. The adventure is based on one I found in The Book of Lairs from TSR. It is rather small, but it starts at level 1 and allows one to go up to about level 5 depending on whether you find all of the subquests and such. I don't know when it will be ready for release, but if anyone is interested in beta-testing it, drop me a line at This Address.



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