Why not start your day with a flaming Pop-Tart?

imageCooking can be dangerous, especially when it includes all three components of what experts call the Triangle of Fire:

1) A heat source
2) Combustible material
3) Our son.

While I can vouch for him having absolutely nothing to do with any wildfires, he was in fact responsible for the 2015 Oak Street popcorn smoke-out. It only took that one experience for us to realize just how dangerous popcorn kernels can be once their internal temperature exceeds 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Let me just say that if your microwavable popcorn bag is ever allowed to expand to the size of your favorite pillow, DO NOT open it.

Ever.

Our government has special underground dump sights specifically designed for this kind of toxic material; please use them.  Continue reading

Seven more minutes of childhood: a father’s wish on 9-11

imageI’ll never forget how I felt this day 15 years ago as an American, a firefighter and as a father — and how each held its own kind of hurt that has never completely healed.

But of the three, being a father watching the sparkle in my then six-year-old daughter’s eyes noticeably fade just a bit continues to be the memory that lingers most. Each year on this day, I post this in memory of those innocent lives that were lost, as well as for the loss of innocence we all experienced in some way or another…

 

My alarm clock went off the same as it always did back then, coming to life with the morning news — my preference over the annoying, high-pitched alternative of chatter. Instinctively, I swatted the snooze button and bought myself another seven minutes of sleep.

In the years since, I’ve thought a lot about those seven minutes, and how the simple push of a button postponed a bitter reality for just a little longer. When the news came on again, word of the first airliner crashing into the World Trade Center stopped my hand just short of another seven minutes of blissful ignorance — a time span that now seems like an eternity.

Lying there, listening to the details, I regretted not pushing the button one more time.

A hundred more times.

A thousand.

In that same moment, I also understood that the impassive gaze of terrorism could only be averted for so long, and that, eventually, I’d have to meet it — along with the questioning gaze of my daughter.  Continue reading

My pearls of writing wisdom are now totally shucked

Now available by clicking here! Or I can drive to your house with a copy...

Now available by clicking here! Or I can drive a copy to your house…

Yesterday afternoon it became official! Any typos that I, my publisher or book editor may have missed are now on their way to the printers, where they will live forever in black and white to haunt me at book festivals, workshops and conventions.

“Hey Mr. Hickson! Will you sign my book on page 50, right above where it says ‘If you want to be a writer, you can never give up dope?'”

All joking aside, after reading through it for the final time before signing off on it for my publisher, I pushed the “send” button feeling truly excited to share this book. While my weekly columns and blog posts are certainly an extension of me, this book is even more personal because it’s an opportunity to take what I’ve learned over the last 16 years and share it directly with other writers (as opposed to just sitting in a bar and mumbling to whoever’s next to me).  Continue reading

Today, I’m at Robert’s place baring my soul

imageI met Robert M. Goldstein two years ago at The Public Blogger, when we were both competing in “A Star is Born.”

I was immediately impressed not only by his talent, but also his integrity and commitment as an artist.

I’m honored to be his guest today, talking about writing, why I’m such a firm believer in the importance of humor, and baring my soul a little. In case you’re worried, I promise my soul is the only thing I’m baring today.

I hope to see you there, by clicking right here

I’d even be willing to settle for a Wallaby

 

imageI generally only watch nature shows on television when I want to appear as though I’m educating myself about something important, like the plight of the prematurely balding Rogainian monkey, when in fact I’m actually planning to do an independent study of the REM sleeping pattern on our couch.

However, while watching a documentary about the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia, I discovered something I never knew:

I want my own kangaroo.

As I watched three babies snuggle together in a blanket and play with each other’s big floppy ears, I inadvertently let out a sound that my wife mistakenly thought was a joyful whimper.

“Was that you?” she asked from the dining room.

“What? No WAY! Ha Ha! It was the kangaroo babies.”

“It sounded like it came from the couch.”

“Must be the Surround Sound,” I said.  Continue reading

Step one to romantic cuisine: Insert beer can into chicken cavity

Meimagen, by their very nature, are grillers of food. If you follow me on Facebook, then you know I love grilling everything from steak kabobs to bacon-wrapped bratwurst. This is because grilling, aside from providing men with a legitimate excuse to drink beer and play with fire, is actually a sign of romance and affection dating back to the discovery of fire itself.

We know this thanks to recently discovered cave paintings depicting what archeologists believe is a romantic meal prepared by a Neanderthal named Glork soon after the discovery of fire.

According to archeologists, the sequence goes like this:

Painting one: Glork makes a small fire using a careful mixture of embers, dry leaves, and an assortment of twigs. He then douses it with liberal amounts of highly flammable liquid, creating a massive fireball that scorches the roof of his cave.

Painting two: Glork adds a marinated pterodactyl drumstick to the fire and begins drinking an unidentified beverage.

Paintings three through six: Glork continues drinking a lot more of his unidentified beverage.  Continue reading

Finding the good in rejection (especially as a writer)

Keep your tank full; you don't want to run out of gas here.

Keep your tank full; you don’t want to run out of gas here.

When I fell for Sarah Getlost in the fourth grade, I was taking no chances. My father explained to me that women couldn’t resist a man in uniform. He told me this while wearing a white T-shirt, Bermuda shorts and drinking a beer, so I had to take his word for it. My plan was to wait for our little league candy sale and go to her house dressed in my new baseball uniform.

In theory, it was a good plan.

In reality, Sarah Getlost answered the door wearing her new cheerleader outfit, effectively neutralizing me. So, to impress her, I gave her my candy, a new baseball and all of my money. Although I wasn’t immediately rejected, it came swiftly once my mother found out and forced me to return to Sarah’s house to ask for all my stuff back. I don’t remember exactly what I said, only that it was awkward and involved a lot of gulping to keep the bitter taste of rejection from coming back up.

Although I think all that chalk I swallowed in the second grade helped a little.

Rejection is a part of life, particularly for writers. We set ourselves up for potential rejection every time we send out a query, have an article published online or in print, or post something to our blog or social media page. Thanks to the digital age, we have more ways than ever to receive rejection!  Continue reading

When you celebrate your 50th birthday at work

image I’m not sure what my parents were thinking when they had sex 50 years and 9 months ago.

Actually I guess I do, and well… Ewwww.

Anyway, if they had stopped just long enough to glance at a calander for 2016, they would’ve CLEARLY seen that my 50th birthday would probably fall on a work day. And a deadline day no less! Not that they could’ve know that. But why even take the chance?

With a little planning, and some restraint for God’s sake, they could’ve avoided putting me in this situation.

Even our local doughnut shop got in on the act by making this…  Continue reading

Who wore it better? (Don’t bother answering that)

imageAs I warned mentioned on Friday, I was going to be dressing up as Marilyn Monroe on Saturday. Believe it or not, that’s not usually a part of my weekend “to-do” list:

Mow lawn.

Change oil in car.

Give dogs a bath.

Wear high heels and a dress.

However, somehow I got talked into participating in the “Mr. Relay” fundraiser event at our local Relay for Life cancer walk. Given that it was called “Mr. Relay,” I assumed there would be some manliness involved. Maybe some feats of strength. Or a swimsuit competition. Fortunately for me, neither of those were involved because, hey — how embarrassing would THAT be! Haha!

Instead, we were asked to dress as our favorite female movie star or character.  Continue reading

More writing wisdom you won’t actually find in my book

imageWith my new book coming out in little more than a month, it seemed like a good time for another sneak peak at a passage of writing wisdom that isn’t actually in it.

That’s right! If you like what you read here, there’s more where that came from!

Just not in my book.

You may be asking, “Why is he even doing this?”

I know my publisher is.

My hope is that you’ll read what I didn’t include in my book and think to yourself, “Man! If this is the kind of stuff he left out, imagine how much he must be kicking himself for the @#%& he left in!”

Or something like that.

Anyway, as I wait for the final edit to arrive, here’s an excerpt I didn’t include for one reason (beer) or another (vodka)  — but which I wanted to share with you because, as writers, we all need a little encouragement sometimes…  Continue reading