Archive for August, 2011

Sample of “Pursuit of a Dream”

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Writing

I was hoping to have “Pursuit of a Dream” ready for publication on the Kindle by the end of August, but due to uncontrollable circumstances, the release date is pushed back to sometime in September. However, in the spirit of #SampleSunday on Twitter, I have decided to publish Chapter One as a sneak preview.

You can read Chapter One by clicking on the link below. I will publish two more chapters over the next couple of weeks. Happy reading!

Victory Lane: The Chronicles – Pursuit of a Dream (Preview)

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Before I considered myself to be a writer I’ve always been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the 80s with the popularity of arcade games and home video game systems. I still have my original Intellivision system that my parents bought at a Radio Shack in Austin. It still works.

That’s not the focus of this post, though. I’ve been asked by a number of people where my nickname “Sharkbait” comes from, so I decided to write about it and post it here on SharkbaitWrites.com. First of all, I’m not a surfer (I only surf the Internet) so I didn’t get my nickname from getting bitten by a shark. Although, that would have been a great story. Sadly, my story isn’t as exciting as floating casually on a surfboard waiting for the next wave to ride, only to be mistaken as a seal by a hungry great white shark. Studies show that sharks don’t care for the taste of human flesh anyway; they typically take a bite and then after determining it’s just a surfer and not a seal, they usually let go and go elsewhere… usually. Too bad for the surfer, though!

Anyway, back to the nickname. When I first started playing multi-player video games and needed a handle I chose some goofy name and rode with it for a while. I mainly played racing games at first, so I had a racing themed screen name. Well, then I started making some gaming friends and began playing first person shooters with them and quickly realized that playing games like Call of Duty offline is a heck of a lot more challenging when you’re playing real people online. And yes, I was still using my goofy race-themed username. I needed to change it to something more universal.

I thought about it for a while and then after getting blasted by one of my opponents and falling backwards into the water one time, it hit me. Sharkbait! I was getting killed so often in these games that Sharkbait seemed to fit after seeing my character getting the liquid burial treatment a number of times. So, I changed my screen name to Sharkbait and added two Ws so they would look like teeth. WWSharkbaitWW. That’s what the Ws are for. Some people make the connection, while others just call me “WW” during games.

Like I said, the origin of Sharkbait isn’t all that exciting. However, the avatar I use is a little more comical. I originally used a basic picture of a great white shark, but then I started noticing total strangers chanting “Sharkbait! Whoo-Ha-Ha!” when I entered game lobbies. At first I thought it was just funny, but I quickly made the connection to Finding Nemo. So, it was at that time that I embraced this and changed my avatar to Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo. Now obviously Sharkbait was Nemo’s nickname, so it would make sense to use the clown fish as the avatar instead… but I have such a fascination of sharks that it just wouldn’t feel right. Plus, the shark avatar just looks cool.

My original WWSharkbaitWW Twitter account (my main account is @SharkbaitWrites) was actually only supposed to be to communicate with my gaming friends, but none of them wanted to use Twitter. I ended up meeting some writers on Twitter and the rest is history. One of the writers I met at #PubWrite gave me the nickname “Sharky”. I think it was Karen DeLabar, but I’m not 100% certain. So, if it was someone else, I apologize. Cara Michaels, however, is without a doubt the mastermind who crafted the lovely vV””Vv Sharkbait signature that you may see me use from time to time in my tweets.

So, there you have it… a little history behind the nicknames of Sharkbait and Sharky. Although, it’s not very exciting I’m sure, I felt it would be a disservice to my lovely followers if I didn’t write about it for you. I hope you enjoyed the post nonetheless, and if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe via WordPress blog above (if you’re logged in) or via email on the left.

Shoot me some comments, too. I always enjoy reading your comments. Thanks for visiting!

The past couple of nights I’ve had the opportunity to settle down and spend some time in a little place called #Pubwrite where many of my fellow writers hang out to just relax and chat with each other about anything, everything, or about nothing in particular. I remember when I first entered the pub; it was so full of life. People were having a great time, laughing, sharing stories, and just cutting up. I also remember how welcoming and friendly everybody in the pub was. It wasn’t too long that I was included in the conversations, random ramblings, jokes, and so forth. I have made some great friendships at #Pubwrite.

So, what is #Pubwrite, anyway? #Pubwrite is basically a chat room on Twitter. By searching and ending every tweet with the hashtag #Pubwrite, you can follow the conversation… or whatever craziness happens to occur on any particular day. #Pubwrite is more than just a simple chat room, though. It is a growing community of supportive writers, published and non-published (Indie and Traditional), who log onto Twitter to hang out with other “writerly tweeps”… usually in the evenings. You never know what to expect in the pub, where by the way, Guinness is the “house favorite”. Sometimes you’ll see a few people just chatting about their day. Some days you may see folks chatting about various literary topics. Other days may get crazy and you’ll see someone giving “bare” hugs, a crazy guy wearing his pants on his head, and pudding wrestling. Yeah, the pub is one fine place to visit.

Sadly, over the past weeks the pub seemed empty. Only a few people found their way to the pub occasionally; the roar of laughter and GABRIEL! fell silent. For various reasons, the pub just wasn’t the same as it used to be and perhaps the writers took their Guinness-filled mugs elsewhere or simply “stayed home”. I was afraid #Pubwrite as I once knew it was going out of business. The “Open” sign flickered and was slowly going dim… but then something happened.

Yesterday, as I was cruising the streets of Twitterville (browsing through my Twitter feed), I decided to swing by the pub, just to see if I saw any familiar faces. I slowed down and was about to just “drive by”, but then something caught my attention. There was a crowd inside the pub. I could hear music, laughter… the pub was alive and kicking. I looked inside and saw a few familiar faces and my own face lit up. I joined the conversation and had a blast.

Monday night was even better. I don’t know if someone was giving away free drinks or what, but #Pubwrite had a great crowd. There were so many people in the pub, it was actually kind of hard to keep up with everything that was going on. It was just like the good ‘ol days that I remembered… the days that I looked forward to logging on to Twitter so I could chat with my friends. I had a lot of great laughs and saw a lot of friends I hadn’t chatted with in a while. It was a good feeling.

So, in closing, I’d like to thank everyone for making #Pubwrite such a great place to hang out again. You all know who you are when I say I consider you true friends. Your words of encouragement and just hearing (or reading) writers encouraging other writers is a great pick-me-up and inspiration to keep at it and never give up. Most of you may not know this, but believe it or not, #Pubwrite is one of the main reasons I decided to pick up writing again and the reason I even have this Web site in the first place.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the pub. Cheers! And GABRIEL!

Follow Friday: A Helpful Twitter Social Tool or Just Annoying?

I have heard different opinions on the Follow Friday #FF issue on Twitter. I think we all pretty much have a grasp on what “Follow Friday” is all about: basically send out tweets promoting your favorite tweeps to help them gain followers. It seems like a pretty harmless and even fun thing to do at the end of every week, but some people think Follow Friday is nothing more than an annoying and ridiculous way to flood the Twitter streams with endless lists of tweeps. Others think it can be very helpful in getting that “Follow” counter heading skyward, depending on how you participate. Some participate in Follow Friday as more of a Twitter tradition; it’s kind of a social game where it’s just something casual to do on Fridays.

So, where do you stand? Do you think Follow Friday is annoying and avoid it at all costs? Do you participate in Follow Friday, but only the “Lite” version? You send a few #FF lists, thank those that included you, and call it a day. Maybe you participate but don’t send lists; you try to personalize each tweet to promote an individual friend. Or is it possible that you are a Follow Friday Frenzy Fanatic? You get the shakes if you don’t send out a #FF list of every tweep you can think of because if you don’t the world may come crashing down on you. That’s a bit extreme, but you get the point.

I think I’ll touch on the scenarios I just mentioned and see what everybody else thinks about it. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment about it, or answer the poll at the end of the article. Let’s be civil though. :-)

Are you #FFed up with #FF?

If you are among those that absolutely hate Follow Friday, this section is for you. What I have observed in the short time that I’ve been a citizen of Twitterville is that some of my fellow tweeps are starting to get annoyed with Follow Friday and some of those who have participated in the past, no longer participate or have toned it down a bit. Twitterites have complained that the #FF tweets have gotten out of hand and either ignore them or don’t even use Twitter on Fridays at all because of it. The claims are that Follow Friday is just filling the streams with just endless random lists often generated by software, such as FFHelper (or something like that). Some complaints are that no thought has gone into the #FF tweets and even the personalized ones are just cut and pasted clones from previous Fridays and therefore meaningless and ignored all together. Some have even stopped using Twitter because of Follow Friday and moved on to other social networks; they hate Follow Friday that much. I can understanding how this can get frustrating, especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of followers, and a good chunk of them are sending a lot of #FF lists throughout the day.

Do you send #FF tweets, and that’s ALL you send?

Okay, time to put on the steel-toed boots. I’m sure many of us have been guilty of excessive #FF tweeting or something similar to it (including me) at one point or another. If you send a lot of #FF tweets, I suggest going to your profile and look at your tweets. It may be a bit of an eye opener. I’ve been there! If the list of tweets that you’ve sent looks like . . .  well . . . a long list of tweeps, you may want to rethink why you joined Twitter in the first place. Social networking may not be for you. I’ve thought about that myself at times. Again, I’m guilty of this, too, so I’m not pointing any fingers. And if sending #FF tweets is just what you like to do, then by all means, have fun! I’m not going to unfollow you for it, but I’m also not reading those tweets either. The only time I’ll click that “Unfollow” button is if I see tweets that are vulgar, extremely rude in nature, or are filled with profanity. I don’t want to see that in my Twitter stream. Thankfully, I rarely see any of that, so it’s not really an issue. Okay, you can take the steel toed boots off now.

Do you like Follow Friday, but you’re switching to #FF Lite?

When I started participating in Follow Friday, I would send list after list of all of my favorite tweeps, but then after reading some general complaints (not at me directly), I decided to tone it down a bit and tried to personalize them. I also have tried to limit the amount of #FF tweets I send out; I also try to be courteous and thank those (or return the favor) who do send a #FF tweet for me, even if it’s a list. I also don’t mind getting included in randomly generated #FF tweets, because I can understand that life can get very hectic and many people just don’t have time for it. My opinion on that, however, is if I’m too busy to be creative with my #FF tweets, then I should just skip it all together. So, if I have time, I’ll send a few out and try to be creative, but at times I am guilty of getting repetitive. I’m only human . . . although, Mobster World did try to turn me into a Spam Bot one time, but that was a different article. :-)

For those who are like me and enjoy participating in Follow Friday, but also don’t want to be annoying with the #FF tweets, let’s try to limit them and spread them out a bit. Let’s be creative, too, even if it’s simply grouping our lists to certain types of people or why we think our followers should also follow those on our lists. I know that’s easier said than done, so if Follow Friday is something that you just enjoy participating in (because it’s one of the things you do to just wind down and relax) and using lists is the easiest way to do it, then by all means, I personally have no problem with it. However, understand that others may not think the same way and you may get . . . wait for it . . . UNFOLLOWED! I know. It’s heart-breaking isn’t it?

My final thoughts on Follow Friday:

Seriously, though, I’m the type of guy who’s pretty laid back and tries not to let things get to me. I personally don’t care if Fridays are filled with #FF this and #FF that, because it’s just a Twitter thing. If I don’t like something, I just don’t participate in it. It’s as simple as that. I try not to rain on someone else’s parade if they have a particular habit or hobby that they enjoy, but I could care less for, even if I’m a bit annoyed by it. I just try to ignore it if I can. Everybody is different and has good and bad traits; it’s no different on Twitter. So, my final take on the whole Follow Friday thing is: if you don’t like it, don’t participate and just ignore it. If you like it, have fun, but try to use a little etiquette . . . and let’s not have a #FF variant for every day of the week.

Anyway, this post is just food for thought for those of us who have in the past or continue to send a lot of #FF tweets, but aren’t really using Twitter for much of anything else. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Follow Friday Frenzy Fanatic, you dab a little into the #FF frenzy, or you absolutely hate Follow Friday, let’s all try to be civil, get along, and have fun.

This post was a bit longer than I expected. I look forward to reading your comments, or if want to remain anonymous, you can participate in the poll below. Cheers!

Sharky Teeth

You might also like:

I’m a Writer . . . Not a Mobster
This Thing Called Twitter
This Little Place Called #Pubwrite
Guest Post: “Write the Exercise Way” by Steven Montano

Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda available in print and eBook formats. Click the image below for more details.
Devil's Nightmare

Oy! Doc Says I Got Stones!

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Health, Lifestyle

A Special Thank You

Before I start writing today’s post, I want to thank everyone who sent me messages wishing me well as I’ve been battling problems with my back and chronic pains in my side. I really do appreciate the kind words. You know who you are and I thank you. Your comforting words mean more than you think. They really are like chicken soup for the soul.

Another Visit to the Clinic

My previous post “Twisted Like a Pretzel” focused on issues that I’ve been having with my back. Since then, I had to see the doc again on Saturday because of some very bad abdominal pains, along with a bad case of… how should I say it without being too graphic… Technicolor yawns. I thought I had food poisoning or something, so I went to the nearby walk-in clinic and had to wait over two hours before a nurse finally called me in to sit in a waiting room for another twenty minutes. Thankfully, I didn’t dare eat anything until after my visit to the clinic, so my nausea wasn’t that bad. The last thing I wanted to do was advertise what I ate to everyone in the waiting room. Lucky for them, I had already withdrawn my Friday night meal into the the plumbing system at home. So, I just took sips from a water bottle all morning to try and keep myself hydrated. While the nausea wasn’t near as bad as it was overnight, the discomfort in my gut was horrible. The pain was mainly around the left side just below my ribcage, which had originally started from the left side of my back.

The Diagnosis: Part Deux

I didn’t have food poisoning, but after another urinalysis, the doc told me that this time he found a trace of blood in my urine. The diagnosis… kidney stones. The intense pain I was having more than likely caused the colorful projectile yawning. So, I didn’t have food poisoning, but kidney stones isn’t what I would call a better diagnosis. Ugh! I’ve been taking my cocktail of medications and drinking a lot of water since Saturday evening. The Flomax that I’m taking is making me feel like an old man as I make frequent visits to the porcelain throne every 15 to 30 minutes. At least I’m not bowing down to the throne this time, and on the bright side, I haven’t been in too much pain. I know it’s because of the drugs, but I’ll take what I can get. To be on the safe side, I’ve also opted to stay off the road (medicine that causes drowsiness and 3500 pound vehicles do not play well together) and work from home until the little rock quarry that has developed inside my gut is put out of business. While working remote is convenient and it’s nice to be able to work from home, I still would much rather do my job from the office at work because the remote desktop tends to run very slow at times.

Pray for Sharky vV””Vv

With the nausea completely gone now, I’m back to eating solid foods today after barely eating anything this weekend, and of course, I ate chicken noodle soup. Isn’t it interesting that chicken noodle soup always seems to help you feel better when you under the weather? One thing is for certain: this latest health crisis has been a bit of a wake-up call. I’m not getting any younger and I have to start taking better care of myself. My diet is definitely going to change after going through this. I have got to cut down on the sodas, artificial sweeteners in my tea, lay off the fried foods, and of course eat more fruits and vegetables. A little more exercise wouldn’t hurt me either.

This past couple of weeks have been so miserable.

So, there you have it… the latest exciting news in the life of Robert “Sharky” Pruneda. For those of you wandering where the nicknames “Sharky” or “Sharkbait” came from, I think I may touch on that in my next post. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting. Oh, and one last thing… please pray that my health improves soon and that passing these stones isn’t too painful. (Cringe!)