Saturday, November 30, 2013

The write to a thankful weekend

Thanksgiving is treated as a one-day event when every day we should be giving thanks for the blessings we are given. By blessings, don’t feel the need to establish any religious connotations and go ahead and attribute it to hard work, good fortune or just dumb luck.

Being a writer could honestly be a lonely job, though for me, it’s opened the world to meet people from around the world. I’ve been able to connect to people in the US, England, Canada, Mexico, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, India, Romania, and beyond.

Throughout the beginning of my adventure, I’ve also been able to appreciate people I don’t know on a physical plane just as much as people who give me physical support and motivation. That said, as I wrote my Black Friday posts, I realized some people are way more special than they realize and I mentioned in passing two people who have made a huge difference in my 2013. The two people who have read and reviewed my book.

You see, to you they are just screen names... to me they have become friends. Linda Anderson and Amanda Armstrong are two very talented women, they’re separated by an ocean and thousands of miles yet are connected by a love I also share with them: writing.

Drastically different, each one has their own style, different personalities and different things that drive them, yet they were kind enough to review Only Human. I didn’t ask them to, they wanted to and that makes all the difference.

Linda Anderson was the second person to review my book and has a blog you can visit by clicking here

Out of what she writes, my favorites are a series of short stories, snap shots from reality that leave you wanting to know more. By all means, give her a check and so you know what she thinks of Only Human, here’s a transcript of her review:

“I enjoyed the story immensely, though I got lost in trying to remember the whole cast of characters and who belonged to which faction. Love Bill; he seems to hold many of the keys that would open the door to enlightenment of the story. And I can't wait to see what problems Nathaniel causes/gets into/solves...I loved it!!!”

For her part, Amanda Armstrong is the co-author of Ten Yen True, a book I reviewed some time ago which was truly a wonderful read. Her website can be found here and she is currently working on the sequel to the book and her review came at a time when I honestly needed a sign to confirm my path and one day before my birthday, she posted the first review to my book (under the screen name mandymia):

“I admit I was a little skeptical when I started this book. I don't read vampire books usually. But this is not a vampire book. It's an amazing fantasy read that I completely lost myself in. The characters are so engaging, I found myself willing them on and the plot is fast paced and gripping. I urge the author to write the sequel, quick! Loved it!”

Just a few words that made all the difference in my life, so to Linda and Amanda... thank you.

Many people have shared various reactions to my book and often it seems they don’t know what to expect until they’re surprised by something that hooks them. Quite honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better reaction. Because they kept their faith in the story and stuck with it until they didn’t want to let go and are luckily now urging me to write faster. 

As a nod of friendship to both the reviewers, I included them in my daydreams on the Sherbet Shore, Volume 3 and Volume 3.2. The reason behind the numbering is simple, I wanted them to be together and I’m also a numbers freak and am a big fan of certain numbers, in this case the number 8. If you see the volume numbers, 3 + 3 + 2 = 8. The .2 was my way of joining these two wonderful people in something I wrote. The number eight when divided by 2 is 4, also a very special number to me. Is this a little nuts? Sure. But so am I. :)

As I continue my daydreams, I continue connecting with people, allowing myself the chance to hang out with them if only in a dream. I rant a little and share these details so you see how my brain is wired and to invite you also to connect to others and help me connect with others as well. I also write this to continue giving thanks during the weekend.

So here’s to dreams and reality, may they coincide to share a meal, a drink, an ice cream sundae, a coffee or just a spot of tea.

Cheers my friends.

Peace, love and maki rolls.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Far from the Black... I give thanks

Yesterday was the official day of Giving Thanks. Millions of families had turkey, ate 2 or 3 types of dessert, met up, spent time together and were reminded that life isn’t all about work, or study or, yes, even shopping.

Today is Black Friday... a concept that celebrates the definition of sales, capitalism and the pursuit of great deals better than anything else concocted by mankind. What once started as a sales event has devolved into a sort of collective dementia where people forget how thankful they were hours ago, strap an uzi to their side, bite a blade and say chargeeeeeeeee as they attack vendors with their credit cards.

Although Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble may be proud of that particular battle cry, I have opted to do my giving thanks today, instead of yesterday. Yesterday was a time for family and although I did log onto Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, I wanted to focus on the people I was with. It took some effort and though I could say I was disappointed I pulled out the phone on occasion, the reality is that some people whom I deeply care for are simply out of physical reach.

That said, already the reports I’m seeing of people going bonkers for specials, fighting over material things and all in the name of the victory of a sale. For me, I’ll just say thanks.

Thanks to my wife, the inspiration for Captain Jane Rivers, for believing in me, for loving me, for supporting me, for all the details that make the difference in my life and for being equal parts witch (in the harry potter sense), pirate and angel. Thanks to my family and friends for being there when I have doubts to smack some sense into me and spur me into action. Thanks to all the people who read my blog, see my Instagram, share my pins and follow my twitter feed; it motivates me to keep writing and connecting. All who have commented on my blog have brightened up my day for taking the time not only to read, but to write, including Veronica Brannon (whom also offers so much support thank you), Karen Ohren (I’ve rediscovered my love for poetry because of you and Kim), Amy, Katherine Lipnitskaya (keep writing and shining), Ifeomadennis (thanks for the inspiration, I’ve written a lot because of the momentum I got), Julie Barrett (for enjoying my Sherbet dreams), Philip Drayer Duncan (for a great idea), Raishimi (another great idea) and Patti Hall (for comments that made me smile). A like on Facebook or a retweet is always lovely. To read someone who took time to write in response to something I put out there, that’s very special. To Shannon Adams, thanks for referring the wine place in Napa and being a sweet friend and Dave from Dave’s Travel Corner for the recommendations for my anniversary trip. Thanks to JR Kierce for being a true friend and believing in me as a writer and a professional. Thanks to everyone who has read my book, with a special mention to Linda Anderson and Mandymia for reading and reviewing. I hope many others are able to enjoy the book and hope they feel compelled to share their thoughts on my work. Thanks to Fraser Thompson for the profile on his website (I promise I’m working on something for the magazine). Thanks to Jack Cheng and Gabino Iglesias for advice and for also putting out great work and also starting out their writing career. To Jennifer Howard for kind words published and kinder words shared; self-publishing is looked down upon by a few... and they’re missing out. Thanks to Amazon, for making it so easy to offer my book to people and for giving me a platform that will continue to allow me to share my work and focus on writing. Thanks to Claudette Anderson for being a lovely friend whom mucking about helped inspire a lovely series where I will slowly connect with the special people I’ve met throughout the Internet. The daydreams mean a lot to me and if we hadn’t met, they wouldn’t exist. To Cate Evans, a massive thank you for the kind advice on the blog and life, I think it looks better and unsolicited, earnest advice from someone who cares and believes are worth endlessly more than any consultation. And to mom... I love you more every day and I give thanks for your example and for your soul. You inspire me to give my best and nothing less.

To all others who have written and connected on a personal level, I thank you especially. From silly Djs, to record store owners, to book store owners, to history loving kitties, erotic authors, people with strong faith, people from different religions, horror fans, comedy fans, and individuals from countries around the world who have touched my life, today is my day for giving thanks, to fans of Firefly, The Walking Dead and Big Trouble in Little China, to new friends and old and to anybody who has given me the gift of connecting, to people who share the passion of reading and writing, and who can cry in a Pearl Jam concert.

Far from the black,
Smiling without a cause,
A word to connect,
To find stories lost.

I share my thoughts
And voice opinions,
To resonate and relate,
That’s my religion.

So dear friends raise glasses,
For today there’s good cause,
To say cheers and smile,
And enjoy without pause.

Peace, love, maki rolls and the deepest thanks,


Different lenses – Volume 1: Selling Out

The concept of selling out is an idealized version of what it means to go against your spirit, appease the powers that be and make decisions focused on gain rather than impact and satisfaction. That’s one possible definition except that selling out varies from situation to situation even more so than love. By this I mean, that it’s a malleable term that is used to refer to various things.

In music, artists who create music to please the masses are sellouts, especially if they go against their artistic integrity in the process. Metallica comes to mind when they cut their hair and released Loaded, which I actually enjoyed. Saliva also comes to mind since I remember an interview where a woman actually asked them point blank why they sold out and there are many other examples to choose from.

In movies, there is more of the same, as in books. In the end, the act of selling out is going against your inner compass and doing something in search of less than noble results and more than positive sales. Now some people might have an issue with this and I’m sometimes on that band wagon. If you see my heroes, they’ve always done whatever the hell they wanted. Pearl Jam, Mike Stewart, Bill Hicks, Jack Johnson, JK Rowling all come to mind. As a band, Pearl Jam plays what they want, where they want and play every show as if they’ll die the next day unlike other artists who just punch the clock, I could name a couple here. Mike Stewart is 50, still rips on a bodyboard and has always maintained his stance that he bodyboards because it is the most functional way to ride the waves he loves (Sidenote, he is one of the best bodysurfers in the world and will bodysurf waves people wouldn’t take off on a board). Bill Hicks was from the Lenny Bruce School of ideology of sticking to your beliefs and going for broke no matter how much resistance and censorship you faced. Jack Johnson does things his way and can’t be a nicer guy and JK Rowling insisted on her vision until she shared her magic with the world.

Recently, I read a different type of selling out courtesy of an article by Franchesca Guzman which really got me thinking on the whole concept of selling out in society.

She states that education as is sold nowadays is a means to an end that promotes bigotry, arrogance, a sense of entitlement and is also selling out. You studied X or Y profession to get paid, not because you love it. You work in X or Y company, because you want money, not because you believe in what that company does and even if that goes against your vision. This brings forth various types of selling out which I often mention in the checklists of life (something I’ll elaborate further in another blog). She also asked for an opinion on this because of some points she makes so here’s my take.

Studying something for a profession can be interpreted as selling out, true. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you are possibly lining yourself up for some misery. For my part, I started studying Psychology and switched majors to Advertising and Marketing. I really didn’t know what I wanted to be for the longest of time and for a long while, I insisted on being a creative in advertising because I thought it was what I wanted. I also needed to find a job to get money to help out at home and at one time, pay for most of the bills. These are the types of justifications many of us give for not pursuing a dream, and although noble to a point, it still means I sold out, even if I perceived I didn’t have a choice.

For her part, Franchesca was self employed and an entrepreneur for 8 years before she had to go back to study. She feels as if this was selling out because she graduated, got a certificate and got a job that wouldn’t impact her life. She jumped the hoops, got the paper, got the title, got the job and everyone was appeased she put on the sheep suit for a change.

Part of what she writes feels as if she thinks this is what she did. The thing is that I don’t think she sold out. True, she made have made decisions and jumped through hoops to conform, appease and be part of the system, the motivation is what makes it not selling out. She had a need, she adapted, she survived. Some people might want to make a case that Metallica was also surviving… that’s cute, it’s not the same so please don’t paint it out to be. She is also clear that she’s doing this temporarily because although it’s a means to an end, it is not what she wants. Again, this was done in a form of survival.

The threat in her scenario is conformity and THAT’S the danger of selling out. If you do something to make money exclusively, eventually it won’t be enough, people will notice and you’ll be dead in the water. I know what I want to do, but for need to maintain comfort, a lifestyle and to be able to provide, I endure a dayjob… Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not taking steps towards pursuing my passion. EVERY day I take steps towards that, including this post. Because this is what drives me, this is what makes me who I am and this is my future in whatever way I choose to do. Writing is part of me and as long as I’m writing, I am happy. I have reviews on Amazon and Trip Advisor, I make music and movie reviews for fun and I love to write objectively to recommend things. It’s another part of me and if I have to endure a crap job to be able to do this, so be it, as long as it is always clear what defines me.

I am not defined by my job title, my professional degree, my salary or the company I work for… I am defined by me and know exactly where I start, where I end and where I’m compromising… and every day there’s a step taken to sacrifice a little less to live a little more.

There are many more things to be said about what she talks about. Other posts for another day. Now for the topic at hand, selling out? I disagree with her. I’ve seen people be arrogant with their path to the point of taking down their loved ones for the sake of a vision… that is not being true to who you are, that’s being selfish and not knowing how to adapt and survive.

So here’s to surviving.

Peace, love and maki rolls,


Friday, November 22, 2013

Single Stone

Single Stone

A single stone thrown,
Can crack a glass ceiling.
But willing hands lay fallen,
Deep in apathy swimming.
Eyes observe
and minds are blurred,
By how easy is their stealing.

Salaries granted not earned,
Selfishness that borders on the absurd.
A menu does not a good meal make,
And advertising covers what is fake.

Blinded by power and perception,
And given sleight of hand,
The snakes hiss laughter and deception,
As the work gets done on command.

A single stone thrown,
Can crash a glass ceiling,
But my hands are tied and bound,
And the urge to leave is all I’m feeling.