Better To Be Lucky Than Smart

I may have already said this in a different blog post but I once had a boss tell me, “it’s better to be lucky than to be smart. “ That has always stuck with me. Mostly because I’m not someone who believes in luck, yet I fully believe in this saying. 

Huh, what are the odds?

I stopped believing in luck the day I lost my wallet, which contained a crisp, new $50 bill I got for Christmas bonus one year. From the same boss actually. The same day I got the $50 bill, I lost the wallet. I’d left it on top of my car and drove somewhere at night with my brother and friends to go skateboarding and lost it in the middle of the road. I retraced my steps (or, rather, tire tracks) and after searching a quarter-mile stretch of US highway at night, I found the wallet. But not with the $50 bill still in it, of course. 

I scoured the highway median, knowing I wouldn’t find the lost $50, but refusing to accept it as a loss or a lesson learned. I knew the speed with which northbound traffic was moving, the bill had probably blown a quarter mile, at most, up the road. For almost an hour, I grazed up and down the dry, cigarette-littered strip of grass with my dying flashlight. Then, tangled in a patch of woody weeds, I found a $50 bill. My $50 bill? I like to think so.

Some might say luck was the very reason I found what I was looking for. But I think it was the opposite of luck. It was hard work and determination. Refusal to give up.

Though I don’t believe in luck, I do believe in statistics. Just because there is a 1% chance, or a 0.0001% chance of something happening, it doesn’t mean it will never happen. By definition, it can happen. It’s just very unlikely. So I think the odds, or the chance, of an instance falling into that small window of opportunity is what most people consider luck.

And what I think is meant by the term, “it’s better to be lucky than to be smart,” is this. Say you have 10 equally smart, equally dedicated, equally passionate, equally talented individuals who are aiming to do the same exact thing. For this example, let’s say they’re all competing for a job. And there’s only one opening. Well, they can’t all get the job with only one opening. So simply out of chance, one of them will get the job and the rest won’t. 

But on the other hand, a person can’t rely only on “luck.” He also has to be competent enough to make something out of this very unique opportunity. 

So the point is, don’t rely on luck to accomplish things. Even though that is technically what it takes to make it big, if that’s your goal. Instead, focus on being the best you can be. Work on what you can control. Be excellent. Because it may give you that slight upper hand when put up against five, 10, or 100 individuals equal to you.

Learning How To Fly

I’ve had a recurring dream where I fly. And I’ve had it so many times that I’ve found there is a technique to “dream flight” and I think I’ve got it down.

I think it’s important to analyze dreams. I believe they are our minds trying to make sense out of life’s problems. And I’ve learned a very valuable lesson from this recurring flying dream.

The way I’ve discovered how this flight works is like so. I have to really focus on it, and suddenly I start to float. It feels like a muscle deep inside that I never knew was there, but after I use it once, I know how to activate it. It’s a lot like pushing a gas pedal in a car but the pedal is very… heavy, I guess is the right word? It requires some mental energy, or focus, to “press down.” But once I finally manage to press it, I start to float. 

If I manage to stomp the gas too hard, I’ll rocket into the air. It’s actually similar to riding one of those rolling hoverboard things. Lean just a little bit one way and I go slow in that direction. Lean too hard in another direction and I go flying, and often lose control. I shoot up vertically, like the Doctor Doom ride at Islands of Adventure that had traumatized me as a kid. That’s usually when I sputter awake.

But I’ve had this dream so many times now that I’ve discovered how to control it fairly well.

And since I believe dreams tell us things about our daily struggles, I’ve learned something it.

If you have your mind set on something, especially something as seemingly impossible as flying, you might discover that it’s possible if you focus. If you apply yourself. But if you don’t give it enough effort, you’ll never get off the ground. You’ll stumble along, maybe lifting your toes every once in a while. You might hover in the air for a few seconds and think you finally have it, but lose the momentum, fall, and start back at zero. On the other hand, once you discover how hard you need to push that gas pedal, you will start to fly. But you don’t know how to keep control once you’re in the air.

If you have a goal you want to accomplish and you overthink it, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. When you really stop and consider what all is required to make your goals a reality, it can seem impossible. You might think how many other people in the world are doing the same thing as you, who are doing it a lot better than you, who are smarter than you, have more resources than you, and the list goes on. 

Find a middle ground. Find that sweet spot and concentrate on it. And only it. If you let off of the gas, you’ll sink a little, but it’s no big deal. Push hard again. Just not too hard.

Trusting your Gut

In my experience, I get surprisingly good results on my first try at something. It might not always be a full and complete success, but normally it goes well. That might come from having low expectations when starting something new, which, any outcome resulting from a first attempt would seem like an improvement in that case. 

However, I just as often try something and realize right away, “Wow, that was a mistake.” Sometimes I get that same thought before doing something and deliberately do it anyway, knowing that it won’t be good. This is my gut telling me something.

With my first book, Silenced, I did a ton of research on self-publishing and knew from the get-go not to skimp on a cover. I learned that a good cover was possibly the most important thing I could do to set up the book for success. I researched extensively what goes into making a “good” cover. It should blend in rather than stand out. Illustration on a book cover is risky for some genres, especially for the genre and tone of my particular book. It has to be clear at a thumbnail view. It has to immediately convey what type of story it is. There should be some sort of humanizing element–a person, a house, a hat, a car, etc. 

Obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to check all the possible boxes for my first book. If I aimed to do that, I’d still be working on chapter one today. But I could have listened to my gut when it came to my deliberate decision to go against some of these rules. I had trouble finding a cover designer who could make me what I specifically wanted. And that was where I messed up. I was too keen on having the character appear a certain way. So I had to go with illustration. And now, I’m left with something that sort of looks like a graphic novel cover. Or something that maybe comes off as” kid-ish.” I still love the cover. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I like it. And it will always hold a special place in my heart. I think Harry looks awesome. He’s exactly how I wanted him to look. Which is probably the problem. Based on what I’ve learned, my gut tells me it isn’t working effectively. 

I’m really trying to go over my first draft of my second novel, Proximity, with a fine-tooth comb. But I’m not finding nearly as much that I need to change as I did for Silenced when I started to refine the first draft. I attribute that to having a much stronger outline this time around. But it also could be that I learned from another mistake. I think for Silenced, I may have over-edited in some places. That’s because I ignored my gut instinct back then.

I’ll never know if my gut instinct was wrong, but I’ll also never know if it was right. So, if nothing else, I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily have to follow my gut, but listen to it a lot closer.

Quick Update: Writing Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow I begin writing my second novel. This will NOT be the Detective Harry Miller Book 2. It will be the start of a new series, which I plan to have span across many books. And they will be shorter than Silenced, which came in at 125k. This series will be what’s known as a “techno thriller,” involving some military sci-fi elements, as well as plenty of espionage and action. It will be set in the future and will tackle some themes also present in Silenced, such as the ethics of artificial intelligence, the brutality of war, and the balance between duty and dignity.

I do plan to write Book 2 in the Harry Miller series this summer. I know the book will end up being long and I want to give myself ample time to flesh out the outline and do it justice.

I’m taking a very structured approach to this next series. I learned a ton from writing my first book. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and know what to do this time around.

I have a total word count in mind and have set myself a daily goal of around 1000 words. At that rate, I’ll finish the first draft by my birthday on June 12. When I tracked my words for Silenced, I averaged around 1000 words a day. My best day was 2700. So I think I should be able to reach this goal. I found tracking my word count helped me fly through the first draft much quicker than before tracking.

If you’d like to read Silenced, a detective thriller about a murder in Miami which leads to a Cold War secret, sign up to my mailing list and get the first chapter free. Also, you will get first access to the complete book when it goes live for sale in (hopefully) May. Thanks for reading!

Does This Make Me An Author Now?

The ebook and print versions of “Silenced” are finalized and waiting on Amazon for me to make them for sale!

Do I get to call myself an author now? Or maybe it’s not until I land a traditional publishing deal. If that’s the case, I still have a way to go, and may never get there if that’s the requirement. 

The point is, it doesn’t matter. I have an incredibly long way to go still, whether I can say I’m an author or not. “Silenced” is my first completed work (besides a book I wrote by hand on notebook paper when I was in high school.) But I’ve learned a lot in the last six or seven months it took me to finish the thing. It feels like my arsenal of knowledge is well-stocked and my momentum is humming for me to roll on and tackle the next project. 

After typing the final sentence of the first draft, I glanced at my word counter on the bottom left corner and was taken aback at the number: 180,000 and change. I had a lot to say, I guess. Redundant and passive language aside, this book was a mammoth for a thriller novel, and needed some heavy cutting. I clipped off six or seven key scenes, which may make their way into a short story or two down the line. 

One thing I regret doing is deleting the entire original first chapter. I rifled through my “deleted scenes” document only to discover it had fallen victim to the “kill your darlings” mantra that is so often passed around as respected writing advice. It didn’t belong in the book, but would have made such an awesome short story. I may have to go back and pen that one again. 

On another note, the outlining for my next book is about halfway done. This time I’m using what I’ve learned from my mistakes during the pre-writing process of “Silenced.” Everything will be structured and organized. The two biggest things I learned was to come up with a title and cover idea as soon as possible!

For anyone interested in checking out the book, signing up to my mailing list will mean you’ll get an email when it goes live. Signing up also gets you the first chapter as a free download. You can also get an idea what it’s about by checking out my Instagram or Twitter.

The Culinary Art of Writing

Ever notice how writing is a lot like cooking? Apparently, a lot of folks have. A quick Google search turns up heaps of blog posts making this same comparison. But I think it’ll be fun to explore those similarities too.

Some people gather and arrange all their ingredients and utensils before they even think of turning on the stove. Meanwhile, there are others who turn on the burner before they’re sure what’s going in the pan.

Your final product may take longer to cook than expected. It may turn out too dry. May turn out too runny. It may turn out too dense, or too light. A bit raw. A bit tough and overdone. Too spicy. Too bland. You have to sprinkle in certain ingredients. You have to cook it a touch longer on one side than the other. Too many adverbs or exclamation points can be like too much thyme–overpowering.

You may be able to put a beautiful sear on a filet mignon, but not everyone enjoys meat. Different dishes may require much different ingredients; different amounts of time spent in the kitchen; different amounts of work. And some, no matter how fancy or delicious a dish is, or how much time went into its creation, would rather have pizza.

Depending on the type of person you are, you may think your own cooking is the most delicious thing that’s ever graced your taste buds. If everyone’s cooking were as good as yours, you might be more likely to try different dishes. Then there are those who think their own cooking tastes like dog food and wouldn’t feed it to their nemesis. They remember loading too much salt into the pot and taste every grain of it. But they resist scraping it into the trash because… well, it took time and effort, so might as well choke it down.

Cooking requires patience. Practice. Time. Money. But you don’t want to keep eating the stuff everyone else is making. You love it though. In fact, if only you could cook half as well as some of those people… But you’re compelled to. You might even have no other choice.

You know one thing’s for sure: if you don’t at least try, you won’t cook anything.


My Writing Experience

I’ve been creative writing, to some degree, since elementary school. It’s the only hobby that I loved and didn’t hurt me at the same time. Physically, I mean. Thankfully, the 16 years I’ve been skateboarding has been kind to me. A few twisted ankles. Lots of scars. Breaking my little pinky finger and almost knocking my teeth out at the same time. But nothing major.

I’ve filmed, produced, and directed three full-length skateboarding videos with the help of my brother and some friends. I use the terms “produce” and “direct “ because it truly involves an insane amount of structure, time-management, money, and time behind a computer to create a quality skate video; just as much as any movie. Our latest “Perfect Harbor” actually involved some narrative writing. I don’t know if it came off the way I originally imagined, but it was fun to make nonetheless.

The idea for my novel “Silenced” came around 2014 when I started at the University of South Florida. Back then, I wanted to make it into a video game, and actually started doing so. I downloaded Unity and started building a crude mimic of a Metal Gear Solid game, which had always been a major inspiration to the story’s premise. I quickly hit a dead end when I realized I had to take the training wheels off and learn a little coding in order to make the game function the way I wanted. Being a little less determined back then, I gave up.

A couple years later, I tried it again as not an audiobook, but an audio drama. Music, sound effects, and voice acting were the bare minimum essentials for the story if I couldn’t find a way to create the story in a visual form. I even assembled a whole cast voice actors, garnered hundreds of hours of sound effects and music, only to have my lead voice actor stop replying to my emails. I had to can the whole project, and didn’t touch it with any sort of actual intent until late 2019. I knew it was possible to realize this story in novel form if I tried.

I wrote maybe 1/3 of it, lost hope again, then one late night at work, I stumbled down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on self publishing. Namely, Chris Fox’s videos helped me get out of my slump. In October 2020, I went back to work, using Chris Fox’s and a dozen other wise YouTubers’ advice. By mid January I’d added a whopping 110,000 words to what I already had. A 185,000 word finished novel was on my hands.

Then I realized that’s when the real work began.


Welcome to

If you’re reading this, I’m already dead. Just kidding. I’ve been messing around with this site, trying to get it in working order. If things look a little wonky, 1) I’m horrible at graphic design, 2) I’m colorblind, and 3) It’s still a work in progress.

In this little section, I plan to post updates on my writing, as well as short essays, or what one might think of as blog posts, on the writing process, my experience, and other stuff. Thank you for visiting!