Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Healing Power of Music


Ever since I was a teen, I’ve found a lot of comfort in music. When I was feeling something I couldn’t fully understand, there was some artist or band that took that sensation and created something that helped me say “that… that is what I’m feeling.” Artists like Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, Pink Floyd, Soundgarden, Soda Stereo, Tori Amos, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and countless others were there for me when words failed me and I couldn’t express what life was throwing my way. 

Music is magical that way. It’s also as healing as it is unifying because that song that means the world to you can also mean the world to someone else. 

There are plenty of songs that have helped me overcome a lot of things and these change depending on the point in my life we're talking about and what I was facing at the time. After Mom’s passing, I decided to make a playlist in her memory and chose 17 songs that mean something to me and have helped me during these months. She was born on a 17th, hence the 17 tracks. I’m sharing this because although it already has songs, I’m sure a lot of people have songs that have helped them through tough times and I want to open this list to others so people can recommend tracks to include here. Feel free to leave a comment here or contact me wherever it's more convenient to give a listen and add to the list. 

So consider this an invitation to listen to this playlist as much as an invitation for you to share songs that have helped you during times of sadness and grief. Songs that have brought light your way and that either express what you feel or give you comfort. Right now it's my list... but the idea is for it to be our list. Who knows? It might help us all out when we least expect it.

Thanks for reading and listening and til the next time we connect though words.

Peace, love, and Loud Love.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Cheers in Heaven


It’s been seven months since I don’t have to worry about my carrier signal to talk to Mom. Seven months where I continue to think about her, look at the phone, miss her voice, yet opt to smile rather than cry (maybe a tear comes through here and there, but hey, I’m Only Human®). 

I smile because I have the choice to smile when I think of Mom, because if smiling is an option, then why not? I smile because Mom was so abundantly generous with the love she gave me that it helps to see the good in life, even when things go bad, even when the inevitable happens, even when the course of time outlasts a will. I smile because she had such a beautiful smile that she would light up a room and that light still warms me from within. I smile because she wasn’t just Mom to my brothers and me, but because she continues to be our Mother, and continues to be Mother to many people. I smile because I have so many good memories of her and we shared so many good talks. 

I could focus on how easy it is to miss her, how intense the longing is, or I can breathe and smile, knowing I carry her with me. It’s not that I don’t allow myself the space to cry, it’s that I let go of that and then focus on all the good she left me… an ocean of love as it were. I think that’s the perfect analogy because if you think about it, even with all the technological and scientific advances we have, we have no idea what lays down deep in the oceans… that was the love of my Mother. Boundless, reaching to the horizon, and with depths unlike anything else. It’s also perfect because the ocean has waves and each wave is a gift… and if anything is clear, it’s how generous Mama Estrada was in giving. Her time and counsel were sought by many and treasured by those who dropped their pride in favor of listening to someone who took the time to listen to them and speak to them from the heart, only wanting to help. 

I continue to toast to her good health because even if she’s not here in the physical plane, her journey has gotten way more interesting. She was spiritual and was quite in tune with her intuition, calling me up when I was having a bad day and asking what was wrong without me saying one thing. She would often catch me off base like that and then we would chat, because we talked from before I was born to this day. I’ve said before that people wouldn’t come in the room at the hospital when she delivered me because they thought there was someone visiting. And there wasn’t. It was just me and her, chatting, as we always did, as we always will. We did a lot of talking and some of my best memories would be downing a bottle of wine between the two of us and just waffling on. She is probably the reason why I’m so chatty, or at least one of the reasons why I love conversation and having a heart-to-heart with someone. She talked to me not in baby talk or goo-goo ga-gas; she really talked to me, before I was born, when I was a newborn, and throughout my entire life. She knew I could hear her so she talked to me. So I took a cue from her. When she couldn’t respond, I talked to her normally, chatted with her, told her how much I loved her, read to her, and kept her company in the best way I could, basically doing anything I could to make her smile, because I knew she was learning a new way to smile and I was happy to help her in these new steps. Now that’s she’s passed on, I still talk to her normally, tell her jokes, make sure to embellish my stories as best as possible, and chat with her, like always. 

Being a writer, that means I’m a man of words. I find meaning in life through the symbols we use to convey the magic of story, the beauty of an emotion or feeling, or the soul smiles contained in the contact that happens when one message is shared from one human to another. She is with me and she shall always be… and that makes me smile.

I miss Mom. 

I always will. 

But I also love Mom. 

And I’ll also do that always and forever, either because I don’t know any better or because I know best... and she just happened to raise me. 

Salud, Mama. Te amo hoy y siempre. 

Peace, love, and sauvignon blanc.



Saturday, January 11, 2020

Humans 4 Puerto Rico – Earthquakes on the Island


So if you’ve seen the news, depending on where you are, maybe you’ve seen that our Island has had a series of earthquakes during this past week starting on January 6 and continuing until today. The strongest shock so far has been 6.4 off the South coast off the town of Guánica. 

Although 6.4 is not as high as some other high profile earthquakes like the ones in Chile, Japan, India, or Mexico, they have caused significant damage and unfortunately PR isn't well equipped to deal with earthquakes. This means people have lost their homes and that entire communities are being displaced. The main affected areas are on the Southern part of the Island. This includes towns like Lajas, Guánica, Yauco, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, and Ponce (map pictured).

I'm doing my best to offer any updates and information but for something much more official, feel free to follow David Begnaud, who once again is doing a topnotch job of covering the situation and getting hard to find people to answer hard to answer questions. 

The quakes have been felt throughout the Island and it’s been that way all week and they’re still ongoing. So this means there are two types of efforts: the ones that will respond to basic needs right now (water, shelter, food, medical equipment/first aid, etc.) The other will be for the aftermath, where people will be affected for a long time. If this were an isolated case, this would be enough, but people are actually still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria. So people need help and will need help for the foreseeable future. 

With that, I’m letting you know that any royalties or money I make off my books and other creator and author related events and efforts shall go to help the people back home

This means, that if you buy a digital or physical book off Amazon, any money I make will go to help people. If you buy an Estrada Crate, I will take any money I make off the books and use to help local efforts that help my sisters and brothers on the Island. If you want to cut away the middle man and donate directly to any of the causes I'm supporting, take a screenshot, share it on social media with the hashtags #Humans4PuertoRico and #PuertoRicoEarthquakes, and I'll send you an ebook. 

After a couple of days, I’ve been able to identify some local efforts that are making and will continue to make an impact. What does this mean? I have contact information of individuals who are making local grassroots efforts to take aid directly to people. I am not referring people to most organizations, foundations, or any government officials because I saw what happened after Hurricane Maria. If I recommend a cause or effort, it’s because I’ve seen the work and know the people. Period. I will share personal information of one effort and have the information of other people whom I trust but will not disclose publicly for safety reasons. I shall offer an explanation of who each group is but if you have more questions, use the wonderful comment section down below and I’ll address any question you have or contact me privately via social media on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Now for the efforts:


Tito is best known as the front man of a Puerto Rican band called Fiel a la Vega but beyond that, he’s a standup guy and there’s no nonsense where he is concerned. He’s helping out and going directly to communities and sharing receipts and being pretty transparent in how he’s using the money they receive. He is accepting donations via ATH Movil or Paypal. If you donate either way, use the message “donación al Sur”. It is a very committed group of people who don't want or care for the limelight. They just want to help. 

ATH Movil: 787-409-5190

Paypal: wmorciglio@gmail.com

For the Facebook page with written and video updates, receipts, and information, visit www.facebook.com/TitoAugerCantautor/


I know Zaida personally and worked with her for over 7 years at a previous job. She is a selfless person and I was able to collaborate with her after Hurricane Maria for #Humans4PuertoRico efforts. Here’s the blogpost where I show pictures of what other people’s generosity was able to achieve. https://jdestradawriter.blogspot.com/2018/12/humans4humans-yabucoa-edition.html

She is looking for materials to help people cope with anxiety. This includes: coloring books, sketch notebooks, pencils, coloring pencils, crayons, or any other materials to create. This is to offer people of all ages an outlet and to help cope with anxiety. Unfortunately, mental health is something that will need to be addressed all around. I have her personal information and do require you to contact me personally to share this information to send her materials or donations directly. For her first effort, she’s picking up materials until January 17 to deliver them on Sunday January 19, but I suspect this will be the first of a few. 

Students from Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, Class of ‘98

Several of my high school classmates are making efforts to go directly to affected communities. These are guys I grew up with, people who went above the call after Hurricane Maria, and people I know personally and trust. I have their personal phones for direct donations as well as paypal information but will look for more means of support. The motto of our high school is "men at the service of everyone", and I'm proud to know them and see them putting this into practice yet again. Here are some of the pictures from the efforts they’ve done on their own between yesterday and today.






Imagine you going to a local Costco or Wal-Mart and taking everything directly to people. That's what we're talking about here. 


Another good friend of mine is Juan Carlos Baez, and he shared the Arte Al Rescate effort, where ALL proceeds from artwork sold will go to help people in Puerto Rico. 

He had this message to share: “Please consider buying some of the artwork created by my students and students from Puerto Rico and New York. All proceeds will be used to help the people of Puerto Rico as they deal with the recent earthquakes.”

Here’s the link: https://www.artealrescate.org.


Lastly, there’s World Central Kitchen. WCK has demonstrated commitment to helping communities in need and I saw their work after Hurricane Maria and am seeing what they’re doing right now. I know some people have a beef with Chef José Andrés but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the only org of which I’ve heard of from people from different areas where they have offered meals, so they still get my vote and support. 

If you have other places to donate, by all means, go ahead. It’s a time where a lot of people feel the need to help. For me, these are the ones I’m supporting because I have either seen them in action or know the people involved on a personal level. I shall not relay people to government run centers. Instead, I want to put energy, money, and effort where I see a positive impact and supplies get to where they have to get. I know these people. I trust these people. I won’t get a tax return and I don’t want one. Fear happens and it is natural to worry, though in the end, fear, anxiety, and worry are all energy… and I’m doing my best to use what I feel to have a positive impact. I just want to help and I think I’m not the only one. Thanks for reading and my best to you all.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

JD

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2019 Report Card


A lot of people start off a New Year by saying stuff like, “New Year, New Me.” This type of message comes from a good place or at least a good intention of wanting to be better, do better, and focus on the good. For the last several years, the first blog post I write in a year has been my report card for the previous year where I go over all my goals and how I did with them because I see the value of looking back, seeing what I achieved, and how I did overall. I like that tradition, so here’s to keeping it up.

Another reason of why I do the report card is because it also gives me a sense of accountability. Of course I want to do better than the last year, whatever that truly means since there’s a lot to take into account in regards to what was planned and what the year threw at me… and 2019 definitely did not hold back any punches. There will be new things to go for this year, count on that… but this is still me. Not the good ole me. Not the same me. Just me on my path, evolving the best I can, committing mistakes, having successes, surprising myself, overcoming failures and disappointments, finding plenty of smiles along the way, learning as much as I can, and focusing on the path ahead. 

If this is your first time to this blog, what I do is copy and paste the goals I’d written in January of last year and comment on each part and how I did. I also give an overall assessment and dig a little deeper where I think it’s worth to explore. I don’t sugarcoat things, I do my best to own up to my mistakes, and I also do my best to recognize the victories I had, because too often we focus on the bad and forget the good. 

Last year had a lot of things happen, most notably the passing of my Mother in June. It happened near the halfway mark of 2019 but definitely shaped a lot of what happened and what I did. I traveled to Puerto Rico to be with her and give my best to her and my family. It was a hard time, but one that beyond the grief of losing a loved one, brought good things. Communication, unity, selflessness, generosity, kindness, support. Those are one word blurbs of the amazing things I was able to see while going through some of the hardest experiences in my life. Mom shall always be a pivotal part of my life because so much of who I am comes from what I learned, what she nurtured, and how free she allowed me to be in defining who and how I am. She always criticized my report cards, saying I was too harsh on myself and that I should have given myself a higher grade. But to me, I always keep it honest. If I got a B, it was a reflection of the effort I put in combined with the results I obtained. Still, let’s go over last year’s goals before seeing what my grade was.


Publishing Goals

1.Book 3 of the Human Cycle. This has been an intense write and it’s taking longer because a lot of things have changed in the development of the plot. The Human Cycle hits home deeper and more personally than probably anything else I’ll write in my life and it is shaped by what I live… so naturally, there’s a lot going into this book and it took a long while for things to settle so I could see and feel the plot clearer. 

2. Collaboration with UK author Cate Evans. This project took a small break because of what I was going through but also what Cate is going through. She’s an amazing friend through and through, someone whom I hold in the highest esteem, and as she finishes her cancer treatment, we’re both plotting for the next steps in this project. First things first though. To health and then to plotting. 

3. Daydreams Vol 2. – Wasn’t able to finish this one either… but finally getting to a point where I can freely go back into the world of Draem. 

4. Blanc Comics in book form – I was able to publish Tricks and Ladders and Raining Dead in book form. Very little movement in regards to sales, but they’re in physical form. We’ll see what I can do to get this project to the next level. 

5. Philosophy coffee table book – I love the artist responsible for the other part of this book like he was a brother, because he is a life brother… and he has a deadline of April of this year. :) 


Writing Goals

1. Poetry. I did continue writing and working on several collections and the second half of this year will bring news… and books? We’ll have to wait and see. 

2. More consistent blog writing. I wrote in the blog but this took a backseat with everything that happened last year. 

3. Story arc for 3 series. I worked on these story arcs a bit, but decided against investing too much time in this, because concentrating was quite the challenge. 

4. Historical paranormal fantasy story. Didn’t work on this and will put this in the queue after I finish other projects. 

5. Concepts for Spanish fantasy middle grade books. Still working on those Spanish books, but they’ll get done eventually lol. This is the part of the list where I chuckle at my over ambition. 

6. Contemporary comedy set within the advertising industry. Ideas have continued and it’s interesting what’s developing. VERY different from what you’ve read from me so far. But hey, if you know me, you know I’m far from a one trick pony. 

7. A special project with mom. Life has other plans and I began another project. Will do more in tribute to Mom and will also be doing more things in life to channel her spirit. 

8. My Noir Novel. Did I mention something about over ambition?

9. Greek mythology project. Read above; rinse & repeat. Lol. 

10. More songs. Actually have worked on several but the real progress will come this year… stay tuned. 

11. Book Events. I was able to participate in 2 of the 3 events I wanted. Jordan Con was a no go for 2019 but maybe 2020 is the year? We’ll see. Did participate in the Atlanta Comic Con and Puerto Rico Comic Con, which I’ve written about. I also tried to get in contact with Barnes and Noble in at least 3 ways, got the runaround and the cold shoulder, oh well. Wasn’t in the mindset to contact the other bookstores but it’s a new year. 


Other Goals

Get more reviews. I got some… but can always use more. A LOT more. 

Website… I shall stop making promises in the hopes I make progress lol. 

Be on the best of year list of at least 10 people. Didn’t get on this list. No idea how to get on any sort of list. Help will be happily accepted. 

Get nominated for something lol. Any help will also be accepted for this one. :D 

Estrada Crates. Sold a couple but didn’t make the 12. We’ll see how I do this year but feel free to contact me to find out more about Estrada Crates or order your very own. 

Humans 4 Humans. I did organize my activities, but among all the efforts, one came from a very honest, very organic place and became one of the highlights of my years. #BooksForMiles feels to me like it was a great success. I didn’t tally the total miles for everyone, but Brad Womack did run/walk/jog over 100 miles to win his very own Estrada Crate and at least 8 people participated. Will organize the second Books For Miles later in the year when people need a boost for the resolutions they are so keen on attacking with fervor in January :)

Release electronic music EP. Have the tracks but still think I can improve them, hence me not releasing them. Let’s see when I can have some news on this. 

Record and release music. Didn’t release anything… but hey, it’s a new year ;)

Social Media. I do feel I was more organized, consistent, and did take a couple of breaks during the year. Will be doing more of this. 

All in all, it was a very busy year, there were hits, there were misses, there were challenges… as in everywhere: in work, in health, in family, in book events and sales, etc. But we got past it. We made it through.

When I was a kid or just younger and I flunked a test, mom always asked me, could I have done better? Could I have done anything else? Could I have tried harder. It was her way of letting me know that there’s always more to give… though when it comes to last year, I sincerely believe I gave it my absolute all… for her, for my family, and for myself. So Mom, it took me a while, but I made the grade… and I’m just getting started. 


Peace, love, and maki rolls

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Cheers to support and surprises

I’ve been an indie author now for 6 years and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that support doesn’t come from where you expect it.

Some people might be tempted into thinking that if they have 600 friends on facebook, at least 10 will read their book. Although some people have an overwhelmingly large support base from people they know, this isn’t necessarily the case for most people. In actuality, having anyone you know read you is more challenging than you can imagine. This could be for a couple of reasons, but one of the main ones is that people are unaware of the power that they have or the difference they can make. On the one hand, getting anyone to read your book is a challenge when you’re starting up and that anyone reads an indie author can fuel their fire more than you can imagine. Additionally, if a book has no reviews and no one talks about the book, what chance does it have for success? So in their hands, there’s plenty of power to make or break an author’s dream. 

Another thing that I’ve come to learn is that your tribe finds you, not the other way around. 

On one hand, people who know you have expectations of what you can do or on the flip side, maybe they see a disconnect between the person and the creator. People who don’t know you as a person react to you as a creator first and don’t have to bridge the two personas. The best way I can describe it is that people who know you will say something like: “remember the little people when you make it big,” and leave it at that, while someone who get to know you through your work will go out of their way to support you in ways you would have never imagined, just because they want to see you make it big. 

Friends from high school and college, co-workers, even friends are sometimes a harder sell than people who’ve never met you. I’ve been fortunate that I have friends from most of my circles that have come out to see me at events and have bought and reviewed my work, but I can’t say it’s an overwhelming majority. People know you from contexts, they know you have a career so they think that what makes your soul smile is just a hobby when it’s actually what you’d like to spend most of your time doing. In addition, there’s that bit about feeling awkward about talking about your work with some people you know. It’s not like you’re a stripper and people found out because they were having a bachelor party and saw you twerking for the weekend, but there is a learning curve in regards to feeling comfortable when talking about what you create with people that don’t know that side of you. I’ve learned that it’s not something you can force and is best when it happens organically. 

For me, it’s important to be thankful for the people who support you genuinely, who invest time in you, who honestly believe in you and how you do things, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of people who support me in countless ways. I always work hard to be extra thankful to the people who support me, who write me out of the blue to say something positive, to the people who read and review me, the people who bust my balls to write more and get cracking, the people who write me with questions about my books, and the people who inspire the best in me for the right reasons. So to all of you who are in this wonderful group, my cheers and my best to you always. 

Peace, love, and maki rolls   

Monday, September 30, 2019

Atlanta Comic Con 2019: Lessons Learned and Fun Had


Earlier in the year I had my best show ever at the 2019 Puerto Rico Comic Con. I sold out a couple of titles, I saw a lot of familiar faces, and I also met a lot of new ones. It was good to shake off the rust before my first event stateside since I hadn’t done an event since 2017, but even then I knew my experience in one event should never be used as a realistic gauge for another, especially since these were uncharted waters. I mainly wanted to prove I could do it, do it to the best of my ability, and enjoy myself… and for the most part I did… I just didn’t sell that many books.

When you try something new, by the very nature of the situation, odds are highly in favor of you learning a thing or three. In my case, all of that held true. After Puerto Rico, I was well aware that I had to manage and lower my expectations because it was my first show stateside and I knew better than to be lulled into a false sense of security since I’m not at all that known here in the ATL. So I made sure to keep expectations “realistic” but I quickly learned that the term “realistic expectations” changes from context to context… and so do buying habits.

Card readers are a must.
If you take anything from this blog post, please take that sentence and apply it to yourself. Life, work, and several other situations had meant I was doing last minute things before the Atlanta Comic Con, which should have included buying a card reader and setting it up… which takes all of 15 minutes, if that. I did not do this until Saturday evening where lost opportunities demanded that I go to my nearest Apple store to remedy the problem. Seriously, it’s super easy and it was an oversight that cost me a couple of sales, but you live, you learn, and you keep on keeping on. A lot of people do not want to carry cash and although this sounds like a no-brainer, it’s best to repeat out loud for the people in the back not paying attention. In short, have as many sensible and secure ways to receive payment. If not, you’ll bang your head against a wall and you’ll find plenty of other challenges that you’ll have to face.
 


One of many.
In most major cities, there are quite a few large events you can attend as a vendor. People also have the same variety of options so they are selective in regards to the events they go to and what they buy at each event. Being a large city, that also means there are a LOT of vendors. Both of these factors were not unknown to me, but after one weekend, it became clear that to be successful at an event you have to do way more than just show up and know your stuff. There are so many ways to set up your booth and in the end, you have to set up in a way where you’re visible, comfortable, and in control. You also have to know how to make a sale where there isn’t one to begin with. I definitely picked up a couple of tips and pointers in regards to what I should offer and how I should offer it and I also saw quite a few things not to do, at least in my opinion. And yes, a lot of what goes into your exhibitor includes you.

Smile for the camera.
You’d be surprised how many long faces I saw at this show. Trust me, I learned how it felt like to have a bust of a show, but even so, I was always friendly, always had a smile on my face, and quickly learned that the more I enjoyed myself, the better the learning experience would be. Some people could only talk about how slow sales were and how much of a bust it had been. It’s not to say I don’t understand where they’re coming from. After all, if you drove or flew, paid for a hotel, and invested in inventory for it to not sell, then I get why you’d be upset. But for me, if you look pissed off, it’s not exactly appealing to engage you… and in a show with so many exhibitors, it’s amazingly easy to not stop at a booth with funky vibes coming from it. And speaking of funky vibes…

Be kind to people’s sense of smell.
I’ve always been of the mind that you should be pleasant to the senses in any context and one of the most important ones is the sense of smell… I won’t name names, but during the show, one or two particular booths were borderline unapproachable and I swear I’m not exaggerating. I interacted with people who were setup nearby these booths and you could see in their faces that they were struggling and even so, they were chatty, friendly, and pleasant smelling. Seriously, I wish I were exaggerating, but if onions had arm pits, I smelled a couple after they had run a 5K through a field of steamed broccoli. Fortunate for me, both of my neighbors were pretty cool, pleasant smelling, and they were actually a big part of the weekend being as fun as it was, because when it comes to events, sales are nice, but…

Connections are priceless.
When I say connections, banish the word networking from your brain, if only for a moment. That’s not what we’re talking about and although that’s also extremely nice to have, there’s nothing quite like connecting with people for real. This happened on a couple of occasions and it just goes to show that during your journey, you end up finding your tribe. On the one hand, one of my neighbors and her husband were some of the nicest people I’ve ever been next to at an event. Katie Olivia White and her husband David were all sorts of lovely, as was the quirky and awesome Proton Factories, the uniquely artistic Triple7Sp, the talented and humble lover of Hollow Knight - Studio Penpen, the super kind guys and gals at Incubator Comics, the quirky and kind Daniel Kozuh, and the nonstop JH Glaze, who gave some great pointers and support and had a solid show, to mention but a few. There were also some nice people who swung by my booth Apart from nice people, there were also some really nice surprises.

Some people DO know me.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a kind reader coming along and saying, “Oh, there you are.” They had actually looked for my booth and had kept from buying the book beforehand to buy directly from me and I happened to be their first stop. They’d also had Only Human on their wish list for some time and I can’t even begin to say how happy that made me. Sure, it was only one person that was on the lookout beforehand, but that’s one more than I had before and I’ll gladly take it. Also, by the end of the show I was referring and having people refer people to my booth. That’s because if someone is looking for a genre I don’t write in, odds are someone does and when you meet that someone, sending them over costs you nothing. This is something I do at every show and a reason why I take the first day to check out exhibitor halls. You never know who you will see that you know or who you will meet.

Lessons learned and plans to adjust.
In terms of sales, it was a slow show so I do have leftover inventory. I could see this as a failure of sorts or an invitation to get creative and if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that it’s up to you to choose the lens with which to see what you experience. I learned a LOT during the event, but here are the top 3 lessons from my first event stateside.

1. Get a card reader! Didn’t you read above????? Lol. Seriously, it’s quick, easy, and will be invaluable.

2. Finding the right event is not about size. I chose the Atlanta Comic Con because I thought it was the most prudent choice for an event stateside. Although fun and I met nice people, I don’t think I was the right fit for this event or at least this year. Being selective means taking more risks and trying different things, but large size does not a good show guarantee.

3. Have fun. Although I’m always about having fun, on this occasion I had to learn new ways of having fun and to take it all in stride.


So here’s to having fun, learning, and keep on keeping on. If you have anything else you’d like to ask about the Atlanta Comic Con, by all means, drop a comment or contact me via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and I’ll be happy to answer anything you have in mind.


Here are some more pics though feel free to check the entire gallery on Facebook :D













Thursday, September 12, 2019

#Humans4TheBahamas

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time, but after Hurricane María, if I learned anything it’s that you want to make triply sure that whatever you support is the best option possible. I’ve asked openly for people to refer me to good local causes that will do their best to distribute aid, food, water, and supplies in the best manner possible and some people still choose the Red Cross and other large entities as their organizations of choice. After seeing what the Red Cross has done (or hasn’t done) in Haiti, Mexico, Africa and several other places, I do not feel comfortable donating. To me, it’s like the Susan G. Komen Foundation… the intentions are right, but I don’t like the things I’ve seen in regards to how they allocate funds.  Then I've seen how the American Cancer Society uses money in initiatives and I feel much more comfortable supporting them. It’s not to say it’s the perfect option, but if you see how the ACS funds research, helps patient cases, and even offers housing for patients undergoing treatment at their Hope Lodges, I see way more efforts being done right and having a positive impact. 

Seeing our Bahamian sisters and brothers going through the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, of course I want to help and I think it’s all about timing with the relief efforts they need. The Bahamas are a large archipelago southeast of Florida and the midpoint between Puerto Rico and the mainland. It includes over 700 islands and cays and although most of the Bahamas were hit by Hurricane Dorian, the ones that were honestly decimated were Grand Bahama and Abaco. Abaco was basically wiped off the map and Grand Bahama looks like a giant tornado went across the island, which is what a hurricane technically is. These people withstood hell for 30 hours and I simply can’t even imagine what they went through and what they’ll need.

Seeing the response, at this time I’m putting my money on Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen. Some people may argue he does this for profit because of the contracts he got from FEMA. Other people might not like how he criticized FEMA and the federal government in general. Some people may question his intentions with these efforts. I’ve read and am aware of all of these… but I saw how he helped people in Puerto Rico, I saw how hundreds and thousands of people were fed, and I saw how his presence injected hope into people… and at this time I think those are the two things that the Bahamas need the most, food and hope. Infrastructure will come later, supplies are needed but until I see people handling the distribution in a way that directly helps the population instead of wasting resources I'll keep looking. Seeing the situation in Puerto Rico, it took people to load private jets and go to where help was needed and then have people there to ensure people get what they need. Even then, people had to be onsite to make sure supplies got to where they had to. It’s a sad state of affairs but more than to ease my conscience, I want to help, and for now, this is the best option I’m finding. 

So for the next month, I’ll be taking any money I make off my books and donating to World Central Kitchen. I dropped the price to $1 on all eBooks and will also be matching each book sold up to $300. If you don’t think this is a worthy cause, that’s completely fine, though I do ask that you look for an option to help people out. Even with all the divisiveness we are seeing in so many places, I truly believe that we’re all in this together. 

So to my sisters and brothers from the Bahamas, sending much love and sending some help. If anyone knows of any efforts being conducted by individuals, feel free to write me via direct message on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with any information you may want to share. I’ll also be looking into donation efforts here in Atlanta and share any information that may be useful to anyone who wants to help. Below is a screenshot from my first donation to get the ball rolling. It was $25 (plus covered processing feels) and of course I'll be donating more. If you'd like to bypass my books and donate straight to World Central Kitchen or another worthy cause, go for it. This isn't for me or my books, it's to show that the love my Island got when we needed help goes around to people who need help. Kindness is paid forward, never forgotten.

Much love. 

JD


Monday, September 9, 2019

Books for Miles

Someone’s encouragement can make all the difference in the world. I’ve been there. Trust me, I know because a kind message has more than once offered me the push I needed to get things done, which is why it’s so important to me to encourage people as much as I can. 

For me, it’s often been in regards to sticking to my guns where my writing is concerned. The “keep on keepin on” messages have landed at the perfect times and I’ve also been lucky enough to encourage some pretty amazing people and recently, I was happy to suggest something to a good friend.

Enter Brad Womack. 

Brad is a sock brother from the Sock Family who has an amazing sock collection that puts mine to shame, is a stylish dresser, and also a very nice guy. He’s also on a fitness journey because he wants the best for himself and I shall always encourage that for good people. 

He recently shared a pic and I commented with a bit of encouragement and his response was “I’ll need all the support I can get.” So here’s the deal, from here until October 9, I’ll be doing Books for Miles. Inspired by his journey, for every 3 miles he walks, I’ll gift any of my eBooks to whomever he wants to gift it and when he gets to 100 miles, I’ll send him a free Estrada Crate… And you’re invited to join in and invite anyone you want along for the ride. I won’t put a limit to eBooks I send out but I can only send 5 Estrada Crates to the first 5 people who reach 100 miles.

The requirements are simple, have an app that records your walking stats and share screenshots online with the hashtag #BooksForMiles. Also, tag me to ensure I find out you’re participating. Keep a tally and when you reach 100 miles, let me know to send you or someone you care about an Estrada Crate. I’ll be including 3 books in the Estrada Crate, along with personalized letters and post-it poems, as per usual. 


This effort is in part to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles and to also invite fellow bookworms to join the fun. So here’s to healthy habits and voracious reading. 

Peace, love, and walk on.

JD

Ps.: This is one of his posts :)