The Right Way to Create a Routine

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about the top 3 ways to establish a routine. In my own experiments with trying to create routine, I discovered that I was doing something very wrong. Furthermore, what I was doing caused my attempts to establish a routine to fail, over and over again.

There were so many things I wanted to do and not enough time in a day. I would say to myself, “Monday I’m going to start doing these three tasks before work everyday.” I wouldn’t stop there. I would continue with, “And when I get home from work I’m going to do this at 4pm and this at 5pm, then this other thing at 8pm.”

As per usual, I was setting myself up for failure. It’s something I do a lot. I have unrealistic expectations which can be prevalent in today’s society. Once the light bulb in my head lit up and I realized this, I knew that it was time to start setting myself up for success. After all, if I wanted success, I couldn’t keep failing myself. I believed in myself enough to know I could do anything I set my mind to, the trouble was setting my mind.

What was I doing wrong?

There were two things I did wrong when I tried to create routine in my life.

First, I tried to change too many things at once. I expected myself to wake up on a Monday (of all days) and change everything about the way I normally lived my life. I wanted to write, workout, meditate, change my diet, etc. and start it all right away. I was convinced that was the only way and if I couldn’t make it work then I wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t want success bad enough. So, when I didn’t fall in line and obey my own strict policies, I told myself that I sucked.

Secondly, I didn’t allow myself any flex time. By planning something to do at 4pm everyday when I work at a job that lets out just 30 minutes before that, I had no wiggle room. Sometimes I have to stay at work late. Or sometimes I need to pick up dinner, or go out to dinner, or it’s date night… You catch my drift? Anytime I worked through my “routine task” time, I either pushed that task back or skipped it all together. Oh and I also told myself that I sucked for not completing it.

I guess that brings about a third point…

Negative self-talk is not your friend.

Beating yourself up for anything is doing more harm than good. Making changes to your daily lifestyle can be challenging especially if you try to do it all at once. Go easy on yourself. It’s not an easy lesson to learn.

How to Create Routine

When forming new habits, breaking old ones or changing your lifestyle in any way, it’s important to take things slow. I took things one week at a time. First I started with reading more (as a form of meditation) and eating healthier. I recently discovered that I was lactose intolerant and being that I ate a lot of dairy products, my system was in for a huge shock. After I gave my body about three weeks to adjust, I added something else.

I had been struggling with writing every day. So I signed up for 750words.com which encourages me to stay on track. Now, I’ve been at that for a week. Next, I plan to add yoga to my routine. So as the weeks go by, I will adjust accordingly instead of trying to do it all at once.

Lastly, I don’t set a time for any task. I allow myself to flex. Sometimes I can draft a blog post in an hour. Other times, I need to draft it one night and come back to it the next. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to publish anew blog post up here every day. However, I don’t wish to burn myself out. Even the smallest of steps in the right direction…are still steps in the right direction.

Looking for Ideas? (Further Reading)

The internet is filled with dozens of articles telling you, “The top 20 things you must do every day to stay healthy,” and “15 things to do daily to be smarter.” But if you’re looking for a summation of all of them and a good laugh, please check out Sara Kloek’s “95 Things I Should Do Every Day According to the Internet.” #34, #56 and #57 made me laugh out loud!

Happy Reading!

-R

Photo Credit: ID 78999514 © Feng Yu | Dreamstime.com

Current Writing Projects for 2018

Dear readers, I thought I would take a moment to discuss my current writing projects for 2018. It may seem like I’m taking on quite a lot but keep in mind that I do not plan to publish all of these this year. Instead, I plan to release two this year and at least two next year. I would love to hear feedback on any thoughts you may have. Please comment below to reach me.

In Articulo Mortis

Available in 2019

Yes, I’ve finally set a deadline and release date for my precious Mortis. I first got the idea for this debut novel when I was in college. It has changed and morphed in so many ways that it barely resembles the original concept. This cover art has also already been tweaked so what you’re seeing isn’t the final product.

The story takes place in the 1990’s when a small town mortician is recruited by the Grim Reaper to help collect souls. Complications arise when there are others after those same souls as well as the mortician herself. She must decide whether or not to sacrifice her own soul in order to help the Grim Reaper in his mission – which he does not fully disclose.

The first book in the Mortis series will be available exclusively at Amazon for the first six months. After that, it will be available at Barnes and Noble and on other digital platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, scribd, and the NOOK.

The World Beneath

Available in 2019

I don’t remember how to idea for this story came about. I’m being rather bold in setting a deadline and release date for myself as the middle and end of this story is very hazy. The beginning, however, is very clear to me. The story is about a teenage boy from a broken family who has just relocated to a new school. During a casual weekend hockey game with other local kids, he falls through the ice of a large lake. As his friends and neighbors scramble above the surface to rescue him, he falls into an underwater world that is war-torn.

As I continue to work on this story, more ideas are coming out of the woodwork, or out of the water, so to speak. I’m not sure who my audience is for this one – whether it’s young adult or mainstream science-fiction/horror. It seems odd to not know this far along in the story. Something is missing but it won’t be come December.

The Crutch

Available in 2019

The Crutch was originally a short story idea that turned into a novella. It is loosely based off of a dream I had in which a magically- inclined  student has their magic taken away as punishment for relying on it too heavily – for using magic as a crutch. The student must then learn how to defend themselves and rely on the good of other people to not only survive, but also to stop a string of criminal activity on campus. Does it sound lame? Let me know in the comments below. The story line is not fully developed yet.

The Alchemist’s Advocate (Title subject to change)

Coming 20??

The Alchemist’s Advocate started out as the single story of a slave who earned favor with the Lieutenant of her capture’s army. It was more of a “coming of age” story with a slow burn romance developing halfway through. However, I realized that I had several half-developed fantasy ideas that could easily be intertwined with one another for a Game of Thrones- esque story. Though I could never be as fantastic as Mr. Martin, it presented me with the opportunity to take several smaller ideas and turn them into something far more grand. The story has since been merged with previous WIPs currently titled, “Eleven,” “The Book of Manal,” “The Faust Reformatory,” “The War project,” and, “The Great Conjunction.” I’ve even thought of turning it from fantasy to science-fiction. Thoughts?

ELM12

Available 2019

ELM12 was an idea that came from one of my electrical theory classes. I had a teacher who refused to believe in ghosts but was a full-time believer in aliens. He said that when people like air force pilots and police officers commented on seeing things while on duty, he had to believe them. So I was compelled to write about a U.S. Navy Pilot who had seen something.

This story is largely developed and the first third of it has already been written as a rough draft. I am not satisfied with the cover art on this one though so that will be changing.

If you’d like to hear more about these projects and stay up to date on my progress, please become a patron on My Patreon Page. Patrons will receive exclusive access to excerpts not seen anywhere else as well as progress updates.

Happy Writing.

-RB

Travel Today: Washington DC PT 2

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In my previous travel post about Washington DC, I discussed some of the places to see and things to do. However, this post will focus mostly on some of our favorite places to grab a delicious bite to eat. I will say, most of the restaurants we venture to are on the upscale side of things, especially when we travel. That being said, if you’re traveling on a budget, you might want to look a bit further into some of the places I suggest to you today.

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The Source by Wolfgang Puck

We stumbled upon The Source located at 575 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20565 by merely roaming around the city. We had no idea that they offered a five course dim sum brunch on the weekends (I believe it was a Saturday) until we took our seats. Of course that’s what we ended up getting!

While the restaurant itself had a long wait to be seated, we graciously took our seats at the bar so that we wouldn’t have to wait. This is a tactic that we often use to avoid the long wait of a popular restaurant. So take that with you as an added travel tip: if you don’t have reservations, sit at the bar!

The award-winning Bloody Mary of The Source in Washington DC.
On the left are the pork and cabbage dumplings and on the right are tiger shrimp and carrot dim sum.
Our five courses of Dim Sum included a steak and egg dish.
BreadSoda

BreadSoda is not easily seen from the street as it is located below street level. I suggest finding a spot to park and walking around as there are many other nearby restaurants in the area. Located at 2233 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007, it has a down-home pub-like feel. The setting is small, intimate and includes pool tables! Unfortunately for us, the pool tables and the Battleship game were being used but there are others to choose from.

For lunch, we both split a bowl of soup and ordered separate sandwiches. The food was delicious and the establishment as a whole wasn’t overly pricey. They also had a decent selection of brews to choose from.

The start of the Scrabble game at BreadSoda in Washington DC. I let him win…
Sushi Hachi

Located at 735 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, Sushi Hachi has been open for less that a year. When we visited, word hadn’t spread too much about the venue but it still drew a small crowd. We ordered a seven course meal that included sashimi, wagyu beef and dessert. Every course was exceptional and presented a unique buffet of flavors.

The wagyu beef came out sliced and raw, accompanied with a searing hot stone to cook it with. Oh, and if you order sake, they let you pick which sake glasses you’d like to drink from…

The Wagyu Beef portion of our 7 course meal at Sushi Hachi.
Jinya Ramen Bar

We discovered the Jinya Ramen Bar thanks to a popular smartphone app called Yelp. We use it often when traveling to discover places to eat. As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, we are a big fan of Asian cuisine. Good ramen can be hard to come by. Where I’m currently living we have to fight tunnel traffic back-ups and drive at least 30 minutes (if there is no traffic) to get to the nearest ramen joint. With traffic it can take over an hour to get there. Frankly, I’d kill for a good ramen joint in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

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Jinya has two stories but was  a packed house when we arrived that night for dinner. As before, we circumvented the long wait for a table by opting to sit at the bar. Just like with the popular Vietnamese dish, pho, ramen is all about the broth. Located at 1336 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, this joint is worth a stop.

Our sake from Jinya. The ramen is delicious.

On the next trip to DC, I plan to eat at only Vegan restaurants. Stay tuned for more posts on traveling tips, things to do and places to eat.

Happy Trails!

-R

Travel Today: Washington DC Pt 1

Disclosure: Hilton ads in this post are a paid promotional message. We are proud Hilton Honors Members and may receive compensation from associated links on this page.

My entire life I have longed to travel. I want to travel the world! However, I kept putting traveling off on my to do list because of various reasons (or rather excuses). You see, I was the person who often said, “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t have time.” But here is the kicker, wanting to travel and see the world doesn’t have to start with an international trip to seven different countries. It can start in your own backyard.

There are so many towns and cities across the world, within your home country and within your home state or providence that offer things to do and see. It doesn’t have to cost your life savings. I didn’t realize that until about 2-3 years ago when we started exploring our own town and traveling to other states. Then I realized that even though I wasn’t on a beach in Tahiti, I was still traveling. While lying on a beach sounds fun, there is so much more to explore!

So if you think you can’t afford it, think again! My partner and I are by no means rich. We are typical working class folks. We both still hold day jobs where we have to get dressed and drive into work. However, we didn’t let that stop us. And neither should you! Thus, here begins my travel blogs where I will share will all of you where we went, what we did, where we ate and where we stayed. With suggestions on what to see, what to avoid and what to pack, I certainly hope this entices you to explore these destinations.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Washington DC, America’s capital.

Washington DC

Washington DC is about a  2.5 hour drive from where we currently live. We usually leave early on Saturday morning and head home on Sunday afternoon. Our stays are never long but you could stay in Washington DC for a month and never drink at the same coffee shop twice. There are so many things to see and do that it can be overwhelming… especially considering that many of them are free! Overall, here are some of our favorite stops.

The National Zoo

The Washington DC Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. While admission is free, parking is not. It cost us $22 to park for the day but it was worth it. While it was a bit chilly outside, the park wasn’t crowded or cramped. Since it was the off season, amny of the concession shops were not open but we were happy to walk around and see what animals we could find.

Many of the exhibits have both inside and outside areas that you can view. This way, if the animal is cold you don’t have to worry about missing out. The indoor exhibits are heated and in some of them the animals roam free, like the one pictured below! But don’t worry, it’s completely safe.

The zoo’s address is 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008.

The best spot:

My favorite exhibit was the Lion exhibit. Part of me wished I had recorded the event on camera and part of me is glad that I saw it with my own eyes instead of watching it through a screen. The “alpha” male lion was separated from the others and for whatever reason was putting up a huge fuss that morning as we strode by. Hearing a full grown lion’s roar in real life is nothing compared to hearing it on a television special. Let me tell you, if I had heard that sound in the wilds of Africa, I would have peed my pants. To this day, it is one of my favorite experiences in a zoo and I try to visit every zoo in every city I visit!

We also met a very friendly porcupine. I think he thought we had food. Lastly, don’t miss the seals and sea lions. They are wondrous creatures!

Animals roam free in certain indoor exhibits! When my partner found out there was a sloth on the second story of this one, he vacated quickly. They give him nightmares. Luckily for him, he never spotted the little guy.
The National Museum of Natural History

Located at 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, the NMNH is phenomenal. Free of admission, you could easily spend all day here. There is so much to see!

Favorite place: It’s a toss up between the Narwhal Exhibit and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Narwhal’s are among my partner’s favorite creatures so I list that mainly for him. And let’s be honest, they are unicorn fish… that’s pretty fascinating!

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I was personally entranced by the Hall of Human Origins. In one section they have a display of human skulls found around the world during different times. It’s astounding! Even though I did take a picture, I encourage you to go see it for yourself. The exhibit itself is huge and it’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come as a species. As a writer, it opens my mind to so many possibilities and that’s why I love it.

Cave art replica in the Hall of Human Origins.
Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is a military graveyard that spans over 600 acres. Climbing to the top of the hill, there are graves as far as the eye can see. There is a small museum at the top which has free admission. However, if you go here make sure to schedule a viewing of “The Changing of the Guard.” It should be every 30 minutes in the summer time and every 2 hours in the dead of winter. The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony in which soldier’s switch places in their watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Located at the top of the hill, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marks the grave of an unnamed soldier from World War I. His grave is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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There are many notable graves here such as President John F. Kennedy and Hyman G. Rickover. As someone who has worked for a US Defense Contractor, as well as my partner who is US Navy, it was very important to us that we find Rickover’s burial site. If you visit around Christmas time, you’ll notice wreaths on every tombstone.

Tombstone of Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear navy.
Walk the streets!

While I would highly suggest booking an Uber for longer distances, we were happy to walk from our Hilton Hotel room to many of the sites we wished to see. However, we also got a little lost. The unexpected detour turned fruitful as we found unique homes and alleyways painted with local art. There are plenty of other people walking around in the daylight so you can feel safe in the city.

A row of homes in Washington DC
Art Museums

Did you know that there are over ten art museums in DC? There are! You could spend a week in art museums there. Best of all, they are free! I normally don’t make it a huge habit of taking pictures in art museums. After all, no photos can ever do them justice.

If you like to have your mind stimulated, some exhibits are interactive! Check out the National Portrait Gallery, The National Gallery of Art, or the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There are literally so many to choose from you’ll find yourself coming back for more.

An exhibition in one of the many art galleries scattered around DC. Photos will never do these works of art justice.

Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum

I’m already itching to go back here. I was so exhausted by the time we ventured in that I didn’t last but 2 hours. We toured the ground floor and watched a 45 minute video in the domed theater (it’s amazing to have a screen that spans the entire ceiling!)

Space is another topic that can get your creative mojo firing if you’re an artist or writer. We’ll be sure to stop by this place again on our next visit. It’s a reminder of how truly spectacular human beings can be and how far we’ve come.

The National Air and Space Museum is free of admission and located at 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560.

An exhibit from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC
Don’t stop there!

Lastly, don’t stick to just my list. Explore! Washington DC is a wondrous place filled with history. There are Presidential Monuments, parks, fantastic restaurants (post to come Thursday and will be linked here), and alleyways filled with art! The White House even gives tours. Need a place to stay? There are Hilton Hotels at every price range you can imagine and most of them are within walking distance to some of DC’s finest sights.

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Why do we choose Hilton? Because there is always a high level of cleanliness and hospitality no matter where we go. This way, we always feel taken care of and know what to expect. That’s why we love Hilton Brand Hotels. It’s our safe haven and home away from home.

Fear not, if you’re not a Hilton fan there are many accommodations in the area. I encourage you to explore Washington DC in all it’s glory!

Happy Trails!

-R

 

Artwork found in an alleyway in Washington DC.

7 Reasons You Should Be Reading Comics

In my previous post about where to find motivation as a fiction author, I mentioned the beauty and inspiration that can be found in comic books. I didn’t start reading comics until I was 30 years old. Like many people who don’t read them, I figured comics were all about Batman, Superman and other heroes that had become very mainstream and commercialized. I was so glad to be proven wrong.

It was my partner who got me into comics. He has been a fan for years. The first time he took me into a comic book store, I was overwhelmed by the variety of characters and genres. In many cases, I couldn’t see the works being made into novels because the artwork was so vivid and grand.

As a minimalist, comics were a struggle for me at first because I needed the physical copies. Each volume was like a story and an art book in one. Sorry avid e-reader fans but it’s very difficult to read them on Kindles and Nooks. I do suggest purchasing the physical copies. These gems are so worth it!

Clicking on any of the pictures below will lead you to the Amazon page for that volume, providing you with detailed descriptions of plot as well as reviews. These are currently my top seven reading recommendations and also the seven reasons you should be reading comics. Enjoy!

1. Low

This was the first comic series that I picked out for myself. I was looking for something based underwater to help inspire me on a piece I was working on titled The World Beneath (still a WIP). I did a little research and Low by Rick Remender was the only thing I could find and behold- it had outstanding reviews so I purchased volume 1.

Remender has been quoted as saying that he normally writes such dark characters and how odd it was for him to write one of the main characters in Low because she is so optimistic it’s almost annoying at times. But it pays off. Low takes you into a violent and imaginative world filled with the light of hope and the darkness of despair. Not recommended for children. Expect sex, nudity and violence. The links to each volume are in the pictures below.

2. Descender

I cannot tell you what first inspired me to pick up this story but it quickly became one of my favorites! Written by Jeff Lemire, Descender is the tale of a boy robot looking for his long-lost childhood companion and that childhood companion, now grown into a man, looking for his childhood robot – amidst a war where humans and robots don’t exactly see eye to eye… A strange twist of Romeo and Juliet? Perhaps.

While there is some violence and adult themes, this series is far more child friendly than the one previously mentioned. As with Low, I believe there is only one or two more volumes left in the series so join in on the fun! As before, the pictures below will send you to their Amazon page where you can view plot details and reviews.

3. Animosity

Animosity took me a while to find. It wasn’t readily available in our local comic shops at the time and shipped from overseas when I ordered from Amazon. Now that it’s more popular, it’s easier to to get your hands on. Personally, I’ve only gotten through the first volume but I absolutely loved it. I mean there is a talking hound named Sandor after the Game of Thrones character! Who doesn’t love that?

As with many of these more “adult” comics, there is violence to be expected but no nudity.

4. Heathen

I hope that this one volume isn’t the end of the series. I want this one to continue but haven’t laid eyes on a volume two. Dealing with Vikings and gods, this all female cast portrays some very strong female characters and talks about some of society’s more pressing issues today. If the authors or reading this – I beg of you – CONTINUE!

5. Saga

It took me a while to get into this one which was shocking because it’s extremely popular in comic circles and is considered one of the top best sellers. My partner is a big fan of the series so I borrowed his volumes and started reading.

As with many modern comics, there are strong female characters but Brian K. Vaughn has created a vast ensemble of diverse male and female characters (and robots and ghosts and a cat that can tell when you’re lying…) Part of the reason it took me so long to become attached to this story was because I hate the two main characters. I don’t care for them or their love story. But like with many other popular pieces of fiction (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings) it’s not the main characters that everyone falls in love with. Instead, it’s the vast number of supporting characters who end up with just as big of a role as the series marches on.

Contains sex and violence but not as gory as Harrow County (mentioned below). Saga is extremely creative and like Heathen, touches on a lot of society’s hot button topics on a grander scale.

6. Reborn

I picked this one up on a whim because the back cover got me hook, line and sinker! As far as I can tell this is a stand-alone and won’t have future volumes – which is fine. The story is perfect the way it is and doesn’t leave room for much elaboration.

There were a lot of things in this single volume that I did not see coming. I love it for being so unpredictable as I can usually predict endings beforehand. Any author who can fool me deserves my thanks. The picture below will take you to the Amazon page with full plot descriptions and reviews.

7. Harrow County

I don’t know why I didn’t expect to like this story. After all, I love a good horror. Horror comics usually have their own section in the store but they are still not as great in number as Fantasy and Science Fiction. That doesn’t mean they aren’t as enjoyable!

Sometimes violent yet always imaginative, there is a sense of urgency throughout the series that I love. I find each volume hard to put down once I pick it up. Props to Cullen for writing such an engaging plot and lovable main character. Check out the links below for story details!

Keep an eye out for more recommended reading posts.

Happy Reading!
-R

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