Sunday, August 13, 2017

37 – a year older, a year away, a year closer

What’s in a year? What’s in a day? What’s in an hour? What’s next?

So many things to ponder and so many things to do. A year back, I had just arrived to Atlanta; I was barely getting my bearings; I was experiencing life in a new place and everything was new. New home. New apartment. New job. Not new everything, but enough new things to keep me on my toes constantly while wondering what new adventures I would have.

One birthday later and I’m still getting my bearings. There’s something about being a flight away from my real home that is equal parts comforting and scary. Being this far from my family for this long is a new experience and honestly one of the few things I don’t enjoy from the move. That and the distance from the beach because I still haven’t gone for a surf on the mainland. Between lack of equipment, taking a while to do the necessary maintenance on my car, and all the crazy things that happen on the news every day, well, getting to proper beaches has been a challenge, though one I do hope to conquer soon.

Being stateside, the realm of possibility has never been this vast for me. I still haven’t done a book event but I’ve identified several places where I can and will. It’s all about writing an email and finding out when the best moment to go for it is, which is often on the lines of “the sooner the better.” Life in Georgia is a peculiar life for an Island boy and there is an overabundance of inspiration to enjoy. The new car smell is still here for me and my wife and finding a new restaurant to try or new places to visit is ridiculously easy.

Still, when you move to a new place, you look for different ways to make that place feel like home. Of course the company you keep helps immensely, but you appreciate different things. Going to a Latin restaurant is a completely different experience here. Being able to go into a place and talk and order and joke around in Spanish is something else, I tell ya. When I went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens at night and heard coquís, I cried (Btw, coquís are a dime sized breed of Puerto Rican frog with an unmistakable song). It took me to come to the states to be the Puerto Rican or be told “WOW, you’re SO Puerto Rican”. It’s a funny experience but a lovely one nonetheless.

We still have to finish furnishing the apartment, things are still in PR in storage, but bit by bit, this becomes a lovely place to live in. This may not feel like a full on home but it is a home away from home, most definitely.

On birthdays, I often take time to contemplate what life has been during the last year and what I want the new year to bring. For my 35th birthday, the topic was healing. I needed to change so many things in my life to get to a better and healthier place that it was a scary prospect, but one I tackled regardless. For my 36th birthday, the name of the game was change and boy was change a central topic for that year. Now that I’m officially 37, the phrase I’m feeling within is “go for it” and it applies to many things.

I’m finishing several books that are quite different from what I’ve done to this point. I have plans to do a website and sell and send signed copies of my books on the mainland before I decipher how to send to the world. I will be looking into doing several events for 2018 and who knows if maybe one before the year is up. I will be doing road trips to a couple of places soon and continue my adventures in the world.

Throughout all of this, one thing becomes even clearer… I couldn’t do this without the support of family, friends, and frands. Having the support of my wife, my mom, my brothers, and my life family has always been an essential part of my life. Sure I take risks, sure I go for it, but the support I get daily from people who care for and love me, who read me, who support me in life, on the job, and on my writer journey means the absolute world to me. That’s because I’ve been blessed to find myself in contact with generous people. Wonderfully generous people who believe in what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, who watch my vids, read my books, and think about me when they see a cool pair of socks, try a delightful tea, eat a weird yogurt, or see a pristine banana. I am me for it is my decision to be this way, but I’m also me because everyone supports and encourages me and makes it easy to be as me as I can be. So I shall continue to do so, in life, in love, in quirkiness, in books, and in friendship.

In the last year, I’ve gained a few gray hairs and even a few pounds, but I’ve gained so many new friends, so many new experiences, so many new adventures, that I can’t help but be excited of the prospects of that ever evolving question of what’s next. I might kid around that I feel old, but that’s mostly to do with my favorite albums turning 25 years old, my favorite bands being played in the classic rock section, or realizing that I’m 3 years away from being 40. But I don’t feel old. Wiser? Perhaps (especially on the good days where I can use the bitch slaps of life to offer honest advice). But older? Not really. And that’s because love, life, and words keep me young at heart and mind and I’m happy to share them with all the wonderful people of my life.

Thank you for another amazing year. For reading, for reviewing, for pressuring me to write more, for asking how the hell I write and do so much, for laughing with me (and occasionally at me, especially when I try a yogurt that my taste buds do NOT Approve of). People often say that life is good… and they’re right, although life is many things. So here’s to defining life as we see fit and answering that wonderful “what’s next?” question with a smile, good intentions, kindness, and a story or two.


Peace, love, and maki rolls

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Reviews: An Ogre's Tale by Lilian Oake




If you're ever in the mood to read a throwback fairy tale, might I recommend this wonderful quick read. An Ogre's Tale reads like something from another century and I'm not saying this as if the material feels dated or tired. Quite the contrary, rather than tackling a completely new aesthetic, An Ogre's Tale feels as if it had been included in a collection of classic fairy tales. It flows in that style, has clear moral lessons and offers food for thought. Although anyone from any age can enjoy this tale, I think it's ideal for those book loving kids that almost seem like small adults.

My reason for the 4 stars would be in part because it telegraphed certain plot points a bit too much, but even so, a highly enjoyable read and if I took a further step, I insist this is the perfect library book for kids. To be read on their own, to have it read to them, to read in a group, to pay late fees on because they don't want to take it back to the library.

My only other observation would be that I would have liked just a bit more development of the characters. I think a bit more development of the characters would go a long way to making something even more special. That said, it's still a wonderful read and Oake should definitely consider penning an entire collection of fairy tales one day. Although other works by her might have a different feel, there is a place for throwback classic fairy tales, and she can fill that space with style. 


If you'd like to get in touch, check here out in the following links:







Sunday, August 6, 2017

The clockwork randomness of 37

Birthdays are a curious thing. Although mine is still a week away, I wanted to write about it before and after the fact of when I turn 37. 

37 is an odd kind of a number and not just because it's odd. It's nondescript and looking up on Wikipedia, it shows that it is the number of plays written by Shakespeare if you count Henry IV as 3 plays (which seems pretty much a cop out; it is the number of Great Nats traditionally worshiped in Burma 
(how's that for random);  and it is also the number that people are most likely to state when asked to give a random number between 0 and 100.

That last entry is by far my favorite wikifact on the numeral because it is a random number and I do pride myself on being random. People keep asking me what I will do for my birthday or what I want for my birthday. The first question is to have fun, to smile, and have a good time. I will be going to a concert on Sunday, one of my favorite things to do. Earlier in the week I will be going to another concert (I did say that I love me a concert, so why not double down?). I will also be going to the movies and the plan is to try a couple of new interesting places to eat and to see new sights. All some of my favorite things.

As for what I want? I'd honestly like to go to the beach and surf. I'd like to see mom as well as my closest friends. I'd also like to write and that last one seems the most likely to get done because it's within reach while the others will have to wait, though not long (crossing fingers).

Which inevitably brings me back to writing (as do most things).

What do I want?

To write more, to reach more people, to get one step closer to sustainability. It seems rather pragmatic an answer and even slightly dull in comparison to what some people wish for, but we don't always need to wish for outlandish things or swashbuckling adventures, although I do end up finding myself in random adventures from time to time which I always enjoy.

A while back, I wrote a post titled "Give it to me hard", where I basically ask for a call to arms for anyone whose ever read me to post a review on Goodreads and anywhere else they can so I can achieve goals and even do a big 'thank you' giveaway. If you want to learn more about the goals, click on the title of the blogpost so you can bypass the clickbait goodness of the title. But it is true, I wouldn't mind some additional reviews on my work and for anyone to tell at least one person about me and to check out my work. But it feels silly to wish for that on a birthday. To spend a birthday wish on that. I could also make a sale of my books, but they're already $2.99 and although knocking off $2 would probably get me a couple of sales, most of the profits would go to Amazon and I'd just focus on sales numbers and people doing a pity buy, which would bring mixed emotions at best.

Which leads me to other thoughts, if $2.99 is a price that still keeps people on the fence, then I have to write better and if I continually have to cope with not getting reviews, it means I haven't earned those reviews and must do better. Or it might not mean one or the other. It might just be two aspects of my writer journey, which brings me back to my birthday which is on the 13th.

What do I want for my birthday? And the fact is I don't know what I want for my birthday. Life has a quirky way of surprising me and I wouldn't mind more of the good surprises. Damn the script. Damn the plans. Let's just have some fun, whatever that includes, and I'll admit... I wish I felt like that every day of this week.

So here's to good times, good friends, good surprises, good reads, good writes, good times, and of course, peace, love, and maki rolls.

JD


Ps: How often do you wish for something on your birthday when you blow out the candles? How often do they come true? And what's your favorite type of cake?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Anticipated Release: Strange Luck series, Book 3 – A Darling Secret

So it seems another of my favorite indie authors has something coming down the pipeline for September. The Strange Luck series is a very ethereal work exploring the genre of fantasy in new and exciting wonderlandesque ways.

The first book titled Strange Luck has Daisy Darling exploring and coming up against the nameless, a world entity reminiscent of the Nothing from the Never Ending Story. Its follow up is the Nightmare Birds, a much darker fantasy where somehow Daisy finds herself in the bone chilling Theater of Secrets. Feel free to click on the links above to see my reviews on both books.

I had asked Amie when a new book might be expected and a cryptic “soon” was the response. Fortunately, soon is actually pretty soon at that and I can’t wait to read this new Darling adventure. You can Pre-order now and get it on September 22, 2017.

Here’s a sampling of what’s in store:

Learn the fate of your favorite heroes and love-to-hate foes in the thrilling conclusion to Amie Irene Winters’ bestselling Strange Luck series.

Before the Theater of Secrets was formed, before the Nameless was built, before Daisy Darling learned of her magical bloodline, there was the Realm of the Shadow Gods—ruled by the most powerful and wicked creatures known.

For nearly two decades, Daisy’s twin sister, Rose, was held captive by the Shadow Gods and survived. Now Rose has come to find Daisy to stop their impending evil from spreading into the human world. But Rose bears a terrible secret that has the power to destroy everything.

In the devastating Realm of the Shadow Gods, dark magic holds no bounds. Daisy will risk everything to save those she loves, but will the truth finally break her?

Unlock the final book in the Strange Luck series with A Darling Secret.


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I for one am super pumped to get even more great indie reads my way. If you want to learn more about here, here’s a quick bio:

Amie Irene Winters was born and raised in California but now lives and writes in western Pennsylvania. She is the author of the bestselling Strange Luck series.

When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, baking desserts, or breaking a sweat in kickboxing class.

To learn more about Amie and her books, visit amieirenewinters.com.

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And feel free to also connect on social media:

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00XZ88V5A
Blog: https://golden-cricket.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aiwinters
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851542.Amie_Irene_Winters
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmieIWinters
Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com


Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Reviews: The Weightless One by Anaïs Chartschenko

Powerful. 

Unnerving. 

Impactful. 

Emotionally intense. 

Important to read.

All the words and phrases above serve perfectly to describe how I feel about the Weightless One. Yet again, Anaïs Chartschenko offers a brutally honest, intensely real, and disarming read. Unlike her previous collections, this is a poetic narrative that talks of a young woman who is battling an eating disorder, the reasons for it, the traumas that aggravated it, and the damage it can do in our lives. Language is never too elevated to ensure the point gets through... and boy does it. Some verses hit like a sledgehammer and the entire collection is written with the brutal unflinching honesty characteristic of this wonderful poet.

Chartschenko doesn't care if what she captures in words rattles you, makes you uncomfortable, unnerves you, or even hurts. She's not about making you feel comfortable... she's all about making you feel.

I think this is an important collection to share with people of all ages in the hopes that like some other works of art it helps people understand more about the challenges people with eating disorders face and how it can ravage not just one life, but several.

Raw, intense, real poetry for those who know that roses are not always red and want no puffery with their verses.

If you want to connect with this wonderful author, here are some links and by all means, tell her I said hi:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiw1y7_NUCoADdc5Xnn3whg