Coffee Thoughts: January 2020

Happy 2020, everybody.

So, I’m going to try something different here.  I love connecting with you guys on here, and browsing through posts and comments as I enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Now, sometimes, I have bite-sized “coffee thoughts.” You know, those thoughts that aren’t quite big enough for a full blog, but longer than oh, say, a tweet? Right. Based on said coffee thoughts, meet the first edition of Coffee Thoughts, where I’ve pulled together little notes from the past month into one blog. Dig the format? Let me know!

Happy New Year

… and happy new decade, on top of it? Talk about a crazy ride. At the beginning of the 2010s, I was a kid traveling across the country by myself, dreaming of someday being a writer. In 2020, I’ve become a full-time writer, published multiple books, grown into a husband and then a father, and changed in more ways than I can count. This has been one hell of a decade, and I want to offer a huge thanks to all of you, particularly the ones who have been along for the ride since 2013 (!), when I first started this blog. You guys are awesome, and thank you for that.

This’ll be a big year, ahead. As I said before, I have a new novel waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to spill the details. Soon.

The world of entertainment keeps on keepin’ on

This is really more a December note, but still. If you haven’t yet seen Watchmen on HBO, stream it. Yes, even if you haven’t read the graphic novel. Yes, even if superheroes aren’t your thing. It takes a few episodes to really get rolling, but once it does, Watchmen proves itself to be the best TV series of 2019, and arguably, one of the most important of the decade.

In other movie and TV news: okay, so The Mandalorian is actually a lot of fun. And yes, yes, Baby Yoda (ahem, “the Child”) is just as adorable as the memes. Haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie yet, so I can’t comment on it. Also, I’m enjoying those Sinister Six hints in that Morbius trailer, though hoping the movie itself has a more interesting story than the trailer implies.

The Marshall Islands

Ever hear about the Marshall Islands? This is an issue that needs to get more attention.

As I wrote about on Grunge, this chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific had 67 nuclear bombs dropped on them, via the United States, from 1946 to 1958, causing widespread cancer and birth defects. That’s horrifying enough, but now, a nuclear disaster is in the making: the so-called Runit Dome, which is the concrete structure that the U.S. dumped all of their radioactive waste into, is predicted to crack sometime in the next century. The cause? You guessed it: climate change. This whole situation is obviously the fault of the U.S. government, but evidently, the world’s richest country is currently ignoring the pleas of the Marshall Islands, and claiming that the Marshallese have to deal with it themselves.

Horrifying? Yes. Unacceptable? Absolutely. While the L.A. Times did write about this back in November, this whole situation needs more airtime.

The News Cycle is a Dumpster Fire

And thus, the Trump impeachment has begun. About time? For sure, but still, it’s strange to watch it finally play out. I mean, obviously, the Trumpster is corrupt to the point of seeming cartoonish: after all, this is a guy who quite literally had to pay $2 million in damages last month because he was stealing money from his own charity to do things like buy paintings of himself. Is this real life? Unfortunately, yes, and the fact that the above story barely stirred the news cycle shows just how ludicrous this whole thing has gotten. However, the current GOP establishment is still pledging loyalty to their emperor, so a disappointing conclusion to the impeachment seems like a foregone conclusion. That said, Trump is a criminal, so putting him on trial (at the very least) seems necessary, regardless of how this all ends.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that Trumpism is just one particularly vile symptom of the U.S.’s bleeding wounds, not the original cause of them. These issues go back decades. Trump just exploited them. And honestly, even if he were removed, you have that bigoted fanatic Mike Pence sitting behind him. You know who Pence is? Oh yeah, that’s right, just the living embodiment of Reverend William Stryker, that nutcase from X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, with all the zealotry and self-righteous hypocrisy to match. Hey, seriously, I’m not the first one to notice this:

Image result for stryker mike pence"

 

Dog Stuff

Okay, enough news. Something happier. Here is Nova, my noble friend, showing off her favorite Nicholas Conley novel. Or maybe she’s just trying to figure out if there’s a doggy treat hidden inside?

Nova-Intraterrestrial

Family, fatherhood, and all that good stuff

On a final note: in my last post, I shared the news about our impending baby. Now that she’s here, though, I could’ve never predicted how much my life would instantly change. That’s a cliche statement, for sure, but it’s a true one. Being a parent is already the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Truly. Just watching her experience everything for the first time, to feel the love as I hold her, to look into those little dark eyes that are so full of curiosity and wonder … and on top of that, to have the opportunity to share this experience with my wife, the person who amazes me more than anyone else in the world, has already made 2020 my favorite year to date. And it’s only been a little over three weeks!

Until next time, folks. Enjoy the rest of your morning coffee, and I’ll do the same.

Coffee woodstove fire

Entering the Age of the Aeropress

Okay, sorry guys, but I have to indulge in these total coffee nerd moments every once in a while. Thanks for understanding.

To me, coffee is far more than just a pleasurable drink. It’s an experience. It’s a mood. It’s a feeling that can take you to the greatest depths of creative passion, a force that can pull you through the hardest, most painful times, or a source of stimulation that makes an interesting conversation even better. That’s why Coffee Moments™ are so great.

If you’re not a fan, then I’ve seen that tea is the same way for many people. Either way, I’m all about the hot beverages.

While any coffee lovers knows the importance of poking your head into a third wave coffee shop with some degree of regularity, it’s also important to have some sort of home setup, even if that setup pales in comparison to what the coffee shops offer. For me, I’ve spent the last couple of years preparing most of my morning cups with a V-60 pour over. Pour overs are one of the most convenient coffee preparation methods, and something I’d definitely recommend for most people, both coffee aficionados and newcomers alike.

However, as of last month, a new era in my life has begun: meet the AeroPress.

Aeropress coffee Nicholas Conley

I’m amazed that I went this long without investigating the AeroPress, and now, I’m madly in love with it. It’s fast, thorough, and prepares an absolutely fantastic cup of coffee. What more could a person ask for? There are a couple of different preparation methods, but my preference is for the “inverted” method.

For more information, check out the official AeroPress site. If you’re a coffee fan, you won’t regret it. Trust me. And if you’ve already been using the AeroPress for some time, cheers.

Grind Those Beans, National Coffee Day Has Arrived

The day has come, friends. The day that we’ve all been waiting for. While others may be distracted by the bright colors of other holidays, us true coffee lovers know that today is a day like no other. Get prepared, because today is National Coffee Day!

Nicholas Conley Red Adept coffee

Last year, I somehow missed this most caffeinated of days. Grieving over my terrible error, I ensured that such a mistake would never happen again, by subscribing myself to an annual email reminder every year, upon the day that National Coffee Day returns. That day has come, and to mark the occasion, I’m starting the morning with — what else? — a beautifully dark, aromatic, flavorful cup of Joe.

So grind those beans, boil that water, or get those coffee shop loyalty cards punched, because the day is here.

Check out all of your local coffee shops or franchises to see what sort of coffee deals and specials might be swooping your way today. USA Today offers this list of some of the bigger name specials, which even includes surprising deals by such companies as Lyft.

In the meantime, if you feel like pulling up a chair and enjoying a coffee here on Writings, Readings, and Coffee Addictions, let’s celebrate by going back through some of the more coffee-focused blogs of the past:

 

Nicholas Conley coffee Jamaica

Happy National Coffee Day, everyone!

Special Deal: Get Pale Highway Today for Only $.99 Cents!

From today through Saturday, Red Adept Publishing will be running a special deal on the e-book edition of Pale Highway, and it’s a good one. If you get in fast, you can pick up Pale Highway for as little as $.99 cents.

A killer deal, if I do say so — and as the coffee obsessive that I am, I can’t help but point out that $.99 cents is less than a cup of coffee.

So, if there was ever a time to feed your Kindle with Pale Highway, now is it. Pick it up on Amazon today, get a coffee to go with it, and then enter the Alzheimer’s-afflicted world of Gabriel Schist, Victor, Bright New Day, and all of those weird little talking slugs that everyone keeps mentioning.

Pale Highway - Nicholas Conley

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

Coffee Time

It’s been a busy month! Between working on Novel #3 and that upcoming novelette, getting ready for the premiere of my radio play, Something in the Nothing, on August 23rd, the recent publication in the Huffington Post, and the fact that I’m getting married next month, it feels as if the summer is racing by.

But it’s been a fantastic summer so far, and I can’t wait for the months ahead. In the meantime, as I get to work this morning, I’ll start it off with my usual morning joy: a hot cup of black coffee.

So cheers to all of you also enjoying a cup of joe right now — or tea, if that’s your preference — and here’s to more sunny, optimistic, productive days ahead!

Coffee - Nicholas Conley - Red Adept

Coffee Time

 

Tuesday Coffee Quotes

“Coffee became tied to what I called “The Art Life.” I loved to go to diners and drink coffee and try to catch ideas for the work. Coffee has always seemed to facilitate thinking and catching ideas. Not only that, but the flavor of coffee is beyond the beyond good. Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” 

– David Lynch

coffee_lynch

“I usually write away from home, in coffee shops, on trains, on planes, in friends’ houses. I like places where there’s stuff going on that you can lift your eyes, see something interesting, overhear a conversation.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer

jonathonsafran

“I get stopped more in the street, I can tell you this, in New York, for people thanking me for this café and for the coffee, than I do for any of my movies. Actually, particularly people will say, not so much the movies, but ‘Thank you for the coffee!'”

– Hugh Jackman

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“You don’t even really need a place. But you feel like you’re doing something. That is what coffee is. And that is one of the geniuses of the new coffee culture.”

– Jerry Seinfeld

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Post Raleigh Wrap-Up

Now that I’m back home in New Hampshire, I’m thrilled to report that the Red Adept Publishing event down in Raleigh was a great time, and well worth the trip. The panel and book signing featured Jason Parent, Karissa Laurel, J. Leigh,  Jessica Dall, Erica Lucke Dean, and myself, as we discussed such topics as what drew us to our preferred genre, why we write, and where we write. I got the chance to field a few questions about Novel #3, and discuss what inspired Pale Highway. If you haven’t checked out the other authors on the panel, I highly recommend their works: great stuff!

I then spent some time exploring Chapel Hill and Raleigh. From there, everyone congregated for the Red Adept Publishing annual party, featuring bingo games, a raffle, great people, friendly dogs, and amazing food. All of the Red Adepts gathered together for this epic photo:

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All in all, I’m happy I made the trip down, and I hope to make it back next year. The aforementioned raffle also included prizes, and while it took me some time and dedication to win one – or, really, the assistance of a handful of other friendly partygoers who helped me sort through a massive amount of tickets – I was finally able to win this rather handsome coffee mug, which I am now the proud owner of.

I’d imagine that none of you are surprised I went for the coffee mug. Predictable.

rapcup

After an exhausting trip back via Atlanta and Boston, I’m now settling back into my office in New Hampshire, drinking coffee from my new Red Adept mug, catching up on my current writing projects, and finishing up an Octavia Butler novel that I read through three quarters of on the flight back. It’s been a great week, and I hope the same is true for all of you.

Before I forget: I’m on Bookbub now! To follow me there, just click on the following link, and you’ll be updated whenever I have a new release.

Follow me on BookBub!

Favorite 12 Posts of 2015

It’s crazy to realize that I’ve been writing blogs for Writings, Readings, and Coffee Addictions for a few years now, and to look back on how much has changed in that time. Every year is a new adventure, a new saga of highs and lows, and 2015 was the biggest year yet.

Last year saw not only the release of Pale Highway, my proudest achievement to date, but also publications on Vox, Alzheimers.net, SFFWorld, and more. This blog gained more followers in the second half of 2015 than it did in all of the preceding years combined. Of course, I also wrote quite a few blog posts, and in order to look back on the last year, I’d like to look back on the ones that meant the most to me.

I originally meant to make this a top ten list, but why limit oneself to artificial rules? After straining to narrow them down, I decided to settle on twelve instead.

spidey2choice

12. Why Superheroes Matter

To start with, a disclaimer: the only reason that this doesn’t rank higher is that I actually wrote it toward the end of 2014, not 2015 as I originally thought. Still, I wanted to give it an honorable mention.

Why? Because this is one of the most personal blogs I’ve ever written. It’s not just an analysis of why superheroes have become such a huge part of popular culture, but also a personal tale of the impact that characters like Spider-Man had on my childhood, and how they helped me to become who I am today.

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Nicholas Conley – Morocco – Sahara

11. Morocco

Travelogues are challenging to write, because it’s such a struggle to isolate the moments that most define these experiences, to pinpoint what one takes away from a new culture. Going to Morocco last winter, experiencing the Sahara Desert on camelback, was a mind blowing experience that I won’t ever forget.

sunset

10. Echoes of Leaving

The single most defining moment of my post-high school young adulthood was when I first hit the road, exploring the country on my own terms, going from state to state on a daily basis. Echoes of Leaving, a blog post named after one of my first flash fiction publications, is a nostalgic look back at a time that truly defined so much of the rest of my life.

arkham

9. Pharmaceutical Nightmare

Now, onto a blog that tackled a recent news story. The one good thing about recent Turing Pharmaceuticals controversy was that it raised awareness about a very real problem facing the United States, where drug companies can exploit the sick to reap huge profits. It’s something that we need to keep talking about until real change happens.

coffe_up

8. Five Things More Important than the Color of a Starbucks Coffee Cup

Seriously. Stemming from what was undoubtedly the most ridiculous “controversy” of the last year, the best thing we can learn from the #StarbucksRedCup nonsense is that arguing for the sake of arguing does nothing to improve society, and that we have real concerns that we should work to find common ground on.

pale_books

7. Cover Reveal: Pale Highway

After years of hints and suggestions, this was the moment where I finally got to spill the beans and show Pale Highway to the world for the first time. It was all new then, and I remember how my heart was pounding as I finally posted the cover image. It’s insane looking back, realizing how long ago this already feels!

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6. Thank You, Lane

It’s amazing how much the simple kindness of a stranger can impact a person. Though I might never see Lane again, I can’t thank him enough for helping me out of a tough spot.

hoge1

5. Hogewey: A Better Kind of Nursing Home

Working in Alzheimer’s care, one of the greatest tragedies that I’ve seen is the system itself, and how it doesn’t give proper attention to the individual. As I mentioned during my radio interview last week, Hogewey is a “dementia village” in the Netherlands, and it represents a potential beacon of hope for the future. Let’s hope that someday, there will be many more Hogeweys all over the world.

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Nicholas Conley – Pale Highway

 

4. The Proof Has Arrived

Wow. Wow. That moment where Pale Highway came in the mailbox for the first time, that first experience holding it… there are few forms of happiness that are as deeply personal as seeing one’s dream realized in physical form, holding it, knowing that all of the work paid off.

Alzheimer's - Vox - Nicholas Conley

Alzheimer’s – Vox – Nicholas Conley

3. I’m on Vox!

Okay, so this is really more of a tribute to the Vox essay than it is to my blog post that links to it. But the reason I’m listing it here is that this was really the first time I ever publicly wrote about my experience with Alzheimer’s patients, and the outpouring of responses I received was truly transformative, as I got my first true look at how so many, many people connect to this issue. This is one of the pieces I’m most proud of in my writing career so far, and I hope that I’ve done my small part to raise awareness about the reality of Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee

2. Top Five Coffee Moments  

Okay, so I have to admit, while this post was fun to write, the real reason that it’s here is because of you. And by that, I mean everyone who replied to the prompt. While it was enjoyable to think back on my top five Coffee Moments , it was an absolute blast reading all of the Coffee Moments that you guys came up with.

Cheers, all!

Beach_GabrielSchist

Pale Highway – Nicholas Conley

 

1. Release Day: Pale Highway

Of course, you knew this had to be number one. Out of everything that occurred over the course of 2015, this was the achievement I was most proud of. I’ll just finish this off with a quote from the blog itself, as the Nicholas of that day can explain the feeling better than I can:

What I’m feeling right now is so surreal that I can’t quite put my finger on the right word to describe it. I wrote Pale Highway because I believe that people with Alzheimer’s—people who suffer from a neurodegenerative disease that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed down—deserve recognition. It’s crazy to look back on that first day I began typing this story, or the first day that I set foot in a nursing home and met the many residents who lived there, amazing human beings would have such an unexpected impact on my life. Pale Highway is a book inspired by my connection with these courageous people, conceived during my experiences in healthcare, and finally born here, now, today, in the form of this book that I’ve spent the last few years pouring my heart into. And so now, here it is, and I hope you all enjoy the read.
Admittedly, now that we’re in April, 2016 isn’t quite a “new year” anymore. But still, happy new year to all of you, and I hope to continue seeing all of your icons and text for years to come!

 

coffe_up

 

 

 

Yes, Person who Sees Sharp Theets: You ARE an Alien.

One of the more enjoyable features of the WordPress stats page is the “Search Terms” section, where you can see what search engine terms brought people to your site. It’s obviously a highly useful feature in regard to tagging posts, but it’s also a lot of fun: some rather bizarre searches have brought people to my page.

Recently, I was scanning the Search Terms box, and perhaps the oddest search  yet appeared there — a dark, desperate plea from the anonymous abyss, from a person whom no doubt was scouring the internet to answer questions beyond the capability of man.

Yes, somehow, the following search term brought this curious unknown person to my page:

“why can i see sharp theets am i a alien”

After seeing this, I knew that I had to respond. To not respond to such a unique question would be immoral, thoughtless. And so to you, person who sees these “sharp theets,” I come bearing the truth: yes, you are an alien.

 

the-greys-aliens

The mothership has been waiting for you to reach out for some time, but had given up hope. Years ago, you were placed among the human beings so you could study them, and thus determine their true role in the galaxy. The sharp theets that you see have been transmissions from your alien leaders, who are trying to let you know that your mission is accomplished.

Do not worry, person who sees sharp theets. Your suspicions are true, and your mission has been completed. You have much to be happy about. Once you feel satisfied with your understanding of the sharp theets, the aliens have told me to request that you report back to the mothership — the place where all sharp theets are made — where you will join your alien brethren.

Thank you.

AsgardHandDevice

P.S., to whomever it was that used this search term to begin with: I just want to let you know, you are awesome. Seriously. Thank you for inspiring this post, thank you for checking out my site, and I hope that these sharp theets of yours aren’t too bothersome.

Cheers, my unknown friend! If we ever meet, I’ll get coffee for both of us.

 

True Tales Radio

For those who didn’t get the chance to tune in to 106.1’s True Tales radio program, I’m happy to report that you can still hear it today. The official WSCA website has the whole program online, so if you want to hear it – and it’s a great show, with amazing stories – you can roll on over to the archives section of WSCA’s official site, and check out the 2-23-2016 edition of audio theater.

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, you can listen to my interview and story in the following videos!  The first one is my true story – “Past the Horizon Line” – and it’s followed by an interview with Jon Nash, where he asks me about my work, my coffee obsession, and my habit of wearing Hawaiian shirts. Thanks for listening, and I hope all of you have a great weekend.