Friday, January 29, 2016

I yield

There are certain moments in our life where change is not only suggested but felt in every cell of our bodies.

Today is one of those days.

Today I yield to my dreams.

Today ends one chapter.

Today I begin.

Today is my last day at my job.

For the longest time I've been living a double life. Copywriter by day, writer whenever I have time. In this period of time I've written hundreds of posts, I've published one novel, I've released three poetry collections, I've written daydreams and brought them to Raelity and I've dreamed.

Splitting your time between what you have to do to make a living with what you need to do because it is your will, your path, your desire and what moves your soul is draining.

During the last 7 years I've worked for one of the biggest companies in Puerto Rico. I've met hundreds of people and worked on probably thousands of tasks and projects. I've learned a lot but the biggest lesson is that what I was doing, I can't do any more. Not because it's a bad job, not because it's not worthy of me, but because it does not make me happy and there are other things pulling at my soul begging to not delay one more second.

Last year I decided to listen to that voice in me that so often tells people to dream, to dare, to go for it, why not, what have you got to lose? Last year I decided to listen to not only my desire but take a dose of my own advice.

Today is when that chapter comes to an end. Where I let go of comfort and security in favor of what I can be.

Am I scared?

Yes. But not cripplingly so.

It is the first time I'm giving myself the opportunity to demonstrate what I have believed for a long time: that if I give myself the opportunity and give it my all, I can make a difference.

Am I worried?

No. Amazingly so, fear can coexist with desire and dreams. For the first time instead of holding me back from something, fear has pushed me towards something. Quite a few things actually.

The first question most people have asked me is what am I going to do.

The simple answer: a lot.

I will write more and write on my own time. I have several projects coming to a close that need to see the light of day in this year and I'm going to guarantee that happens. I shall not wish. I shall do.

I will offer workshops at a professional and a community level. I have worked full time for over 13 years in 7 companies and I have learned things I want to share in the hopes of helping others through my experiences condensed in a presentation and collateral material. They will be offered in English and Spanish, because I live a bilingual life and I need to help others bilingually, so to speak.

I will go to schools with an educational proposal geared towards promoting tolerance of points of view so that people of all ages, especially young people, can accept varying perspectives and hopefully get along better and be better people.

I will also work freelance as an editor, translator, copy writer, communicator, proof reader, content developer, and public relations communication expert. I'll do this in part because we all need to start somewhere and because all of these skills have made me the writer and human I am today and I want to keep them with me.

I believe in what I have to offer. I believe in my work. I believe in what I can share. I believe in the power of common ground and I want to plant whatever seeds I can to help something grow.

If you've ever believed in me, thank you. I will work hard to prove you right. I will continue to give the best of me, to write to the height of what I am capable of writing. I will continue to be true to me.

Now is the time I will give everything to make good on the belief other people have in me. Some people are driven to prove naysayers wrong. I can get that motivation, but I'd rather focus on the people that offer me support, which are plenty.

If you've ever been on the fence over reading me, sharing my work, or reviewing me, I humbly ask that you jump off that fence. I have jumped off my fence and it has been a liberating experience to put it lightly.

In this moment, I am thankful to a lot of people and a lot of things, but I am endlessly thankful to my wife. She has been incredibly supportive of this decision. She's told me to go for it. She's reassured me that everything will be Ok and meant it. She has looked me straight in the eye and told me she's proud of me for this decision and to embrace this new chapter. She's helped me through some really rough times and helped me become a better man through them. I love you, Janelis, I thank you, and I promise to prove you right.

Along with her, my mother has been incredibly supportive as well, as have been my best friends. Trobi, Antonio, Andrew, Esteban, Wanda, Joaquín and Alex from my analog life, have been pillars in my life and shall continue to be so, helping me to be a better me and offering me the kind reminder that we can always be better. My brothers Juanky and Kibu who continue to give me great examples to be as me as I can be. And several people who have broken down digital walls and distance to be there with me, if I list people, I shall omit someone, which is unacceptable, but some people need mentioning, so I'll risk it. Of special note are Cate Evans who has offered me unyielding friendship, kindness, love and support for years and pushed me to always be the best of me as a human and a writer and to never settle for second best, Karen Ohren, who was the reason I decided to release the poet within again, Larysia Woropay for believing in herself and making it easier to believe in myself, Amanda Armstrong, Sheila Bliss, Veronica Brannon, Seema Tabassum, Kevin Odinsknot, Eric Syrdal, Michelle C, Sarah Brentyn, Pat Sherard, Kay Gardner, Stephen Cleath, and Katya Lipnitskaya, for massive support and for sharing their dreams, Sarah & Katie Loken, Amy Dionne, and Nadia Fortuna for helping me see we can all heal for the better, and Emily Irizarry and Marilyn Ward for being truly inspiring to me.

There are many more people, hundreds in fact. People to whom I'm thankful and I'm sure I would mention if I continued this list. But I'll stop myself here. I will thank you by name and reason one day... but for now I have to finish this post, to finish my last day on the job and celebrate the first day of my true work.

Thankful, grateful, dreaming, and believing. This is me and if you've enjoyed what you've seen so far, get ready, I'm just getting started.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jared Houston – The Kind Giant Slayer

It takes a lot of talent to become a bodyboarding champion. It also takes fearlessness, commitment, dedication, and yes, even a little luck. When people look back on Jared Neil Houston’s maiden championship, they will remember it as one of the craziest most dramatic years ever. During his 2015 campaign, Jared had some of his highest highs, some of his lowest lows and enough stress to run a locomotive from here to the moon.

He also showed the heart of a true champion. Rooting for Jared is easy. Being one of the most stylish riders on the planet is one reason and that he is beyond kind is another. He’s also insanely human and very open with his emotions.



During the year, everyone has highlight events/waves/sessions. But this year, Jared on occasion was offered the perfect platform to show how much guts is needed to win and he never disappointed. If you want to see one hell of a performance, check his highlights from the Arica Chilean Challenge. In the event he posted the highest scores and busted one of the craziest airs I’ve ever seen in competition… actually, THREE of the craziest airs I’ve ever seen in competition over jagged unforgiving reef. On his 10 Point ride, he took off on what had to be a 9 foot wave that pushed him onto a 12 foot section and the word hesitation didn’t occur to him ever. That he saw the wave and took off shows courage, that instead of a barrel he gunned to hit the section shows he is on par with Tamega, Stewart, and several other crazy riders who did not come with the fear chip included when they were born. In that event he beat out an in form Amaury Lavernhe who is not only probably the fittest bodyboarder on tour, but who is so crazy consistent it’s like watching clockwork unfolding on a wave. They scored identically but in the count back, Jared had the higher scoring wave and got the nod after launching a massive air off a left that ends up in super shallow reef.


In addition, he won in some of the crappiest conditions during the year. Showing he can go big or tackle conditions that aren’t favorable. He also lost momentum with a couple of early exits during the year, most painfully in his showing in the Encanto Pro at Middles beach in Puerto Rico. Which is where I saw Jared go through as many emotions in a 24 hour period as anyone can and where I saw the guy who will always have me rooting for him.

If you had the best professional heat of your career, what would you do? I’m not sure, but for Jared, the answer shows the true heart of a champion. He hung out with his baby girl on the beach. It wasn’t as if he’d just gotten a perfect ten and gotten out of the water after hitting an air forward spin and a backflip. But there he was, fully aware of the world title stakes in the moment, and he was just chilling with his girl while his wife ran yet another flawless event (but more on Natasha Sagardia in another post).

I was so pumped for him and blown away that this epic rider is a down to earth dad. In his next heat, he got off to a great start and he was with Nelson Flores, a young rider from Chile and 3 time world champion Jeff Hubbard. The beach was abuzz with people lamenting the poor young rider on getting such a tough draw… and apparently he heard us, proceeding to combo both Jared and Jeff with some hefty rolls on about 8 foot faces. Jared had the second advancing spot and did until the last 10 seconds of the heat, when Jeff Hubbard caught a wave, did a flip and just edged past Jared, thus eliminating the South African and leaving his world title chances in the hands of Amaury Lavernhe and Pierre Louis Costes, BOTH former world champions.

As a sidenote, I wanted to meet up with Jared and Natasha, firstly to congratulate them on getting married and on their daughter and to give thanks for the wonderful example they give as individuals and as a family. I had copies of some my books I wanted to give them but wanted to do it at the same time, since four years prior I had injured my back on the beach and Natasha, coordinating the event AND competing always took time to make sure I was Ok.

Then he lost his next heat and I could only feel for the guy. He was gutted, frustrated and emotionally rattled. He wanted to stay shut up indoors until whatever happened happened. Then he got a call from Dave Hubbard, brother to Jeff who just eliminated him, multiple dropknee world champion and the most versatile rider I know of… and one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet. He left a message saying something on the lines of saying that Jared was one of the best riders on the planet, but that how he behaved in the following hours showed if he could behave like a champion (pardon the botchy paraphrasing but can’t find the transcript). Jared then sucked it up and went back to the event site knowing full well he needed Amaury Lavernhe to not make it past Heat 7 and for Pierre Louis Costes to not win the event.

So when Amaury lost his Round 7 heat… the spark of hope roared into a flame and Jared could still dream of a world title. He just needed one of the most consistent riders and a good friend to not be able to take the event…. And that’s just what happened. In a stroke of poetic justice, it was in the hands of the same guy who eliminated him in Round 6 to win the event and out of the gates Jeff Hubbard had every intention to do his part so Jerry won the title and he won the event.

When that happened and it was announced that he was world champion, I can’t begin to imagine what he felt and not because he did so in private, but because the dam broke and his emotions soared up and out of him. Relief, elation, joy, sadness, everything, every last bit of his feelings came out and he showed that although he kills giants of waves on his board, Jared Neil Houston is a wonderful human being capable of loving his family unconditionally and inspiring a whole new generation of board riders.

 To celebrate this upcoming season, here’s a clip from his riding in 2015 on his way to his world championship.

As for 2016, we’ll be rooting for ya Jerry, whether it’s in the water or out of it.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Theresa Snyder

When you’re an indie writer, one of the wonderful things is the people you meet from around the world. The funny thing is that sometimes you connect with someone lightly and it isn’t until time passes that you get to know them better and appreciate their work. I had connected with Theresa in numerous social media platforms quite a time before we connected more and talked more. Though I had seen the talent and was able to enjoy her free audiobook and her writing, my appreciation for her wit and spark for life has increased the more I get to know her because behind the constant writer is a remarkably kind human; one who inspires me to bite down and write more. When I saw her body of work I was blown away and naturally felt the urge to see if she’d like to answer a few questions... and she did :D 


1. Prolific seems like an understatement where you are concerned. Tell us a bit about what books you have released.

Currently, I write in four genres, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Memoirs. I have only been published since May of 2013, but I have been writing since 1990. 


The Star Travelers (sci-fi) was my first series. It was written for YA to Adult. I wrote one a year between 1990 and 1995. They are character-driven stories. I am not a scientist, so they’re not high-tech. However, I always loved ‘buddy’ books and films when I was growing up. The Star Travelers is about the adventures of a human and an alien who become friends in spite of their differences. There are six books in the series with another coming out in 2016.

The Farloft Chronicles is my fantasy series. They were originally written for my nine year old nephew, but adults on the internet have found Farloft irresistible. Farloft is my very old, very wise dragon muse. He simply will not leave me alone. He whispers these stories into my ear as I sleep making me dream fantastical things. He is quite popular on social media. He actually tweets on my account the last Friday of each month. There are six books in his series, plus a children’s storybook/coloring book, and two ‘collection’ volumes if you want them in a ‘tote-able’ form for an adult to read. 

The Shifting books of the Twin Cities Series are paranormal. This series would be for Mature YA to Adult. The Twin Cities series is a group of writers who write in the same setting with some cross over characters, but we also have our own favorites. The setting is The Realms, a parallel world where everything humans think are paranormal, mystical or fanciful actually live. My main characters are a shape-shifter who shifts from human to wolf, a group of humans and a fire demon. The story is told through the shape-shifters eyes as a wolf. There are three Shifting books in the series currently and two more in the works for release in 2016.

My memoir is my personal story about inheriting my elderly parents. It is not as weird as you might think. There are a lot of baby boomers who are stepping up to take care of our parents during their elder years. But, this is not a ‘downer’ book. It is really quite funny and based on a four year series of weekly articles I wrote for the local newspaper.


2. How long have you been writing and when did the fascination with dragons begin? 


I really can’t remember a time I didn’t write. I have always kept a journal and when I was younger and we used snail-mail I had over thirty-five pen pals who I corresponded with on a monthly basis. But as far as writing books, other than the one I wrote in middle-school with a friend during recesses one year, I have been writing books since 1990.

As to my fascination with dragons, I didn’t find Farloft, he found me. In 1996 my nephew was having difficulty with the concept of ownership. He wasn’t stealing. A lot of the time he was giving his own things away, like a new winter coat. His mom would have to retrieve the coat. He didn’t seem to listen to his parents, me or his grandparents, and I began to wonder who he would listen to? Then Farloft showed up. Who wouldn’t listen to a wise, old dragon? James did.


3. I saw a magnificent teapot on your G+ page the other day. Do you collect these or any other articles for that matter?


I didn’t set out to collect teapots, but they seem to gravitate to me. My mother thought any problem could be solved over a cup of tea with a long talk, so I naturally have a love of tea. From there, I inherited her collection of cups and saucers and some teapots as well. I love to throw tea parties. From there it just kept expanding and now I do have a collection of teapot and cups and saucers.


4. You also offer editing services. Tell us a bit more about that and what experience you have editing and who have you worked with.

When I first hopped on social media in May of 2013, I was amazed at how many fine indie authors there were. I really had no idea about that community. They all seemed to be struggling to be heard. I wondered what I could do to help and decided the best thing to do would be to read and review their work. 

From there I started getting requests to beta read other author’s work before they published it. I have a knack for catching mistakes. I was raised by a librarian and a school teacher, plus I spent seven years in law as a legal assistant. Most authors read what they ‘think’ they wrote (including me). So, I would not only beta read as requested, but I would mark up the copies and send back the corrections to the authors. They were all very thankful and some even said I caught things their editors had missed.

So, when I was fumbling around, trying to find something additional I could do besides write to help me out once I retired, several of those authors I helped suggested I put together a proofreading/editing service. You can read their testimonials on my site.

I have read a lot of really imaginative storylines and clever books, but some of them just needed a second pair of eyes to make them sparkle. I hope to assist my fellow indie authors to make their work shine.



5. When you write, what parts of you come out in what you write?

This is an interesting question. I think I have lived long enough, traveled extensively enough, met so many wonderful people, and done such a wide variety of things that I have gleaned some wisdom. I hope I pass some of that on in my writing. I also hope that a bit of my personality shows in the humor in each one of my books. I can’t imagine a book without some comic relief. 


6. You are a dragon doctor and one dragon has come down with Scalian flu. What are the symptoms of this devastating virus and please share with us the home remedy you can mix to help them feel better?


Scalian flu can be a very serious ailment if left untreated. The flu is brought on by a deficiency in the dragon’s diet. Luckily, it can be counter-acted quite easily with a formidable quantity of chocolate. Farloft has never suffered from this ailment having a dragon sized appetite for chocolate, but I have heard of dragons in the back country without access to an unlimited supply of chocolate who experienced scale discoloration and flaking due to Scalian flu.

It has been discovered by Enlightened Dragonologists that prior to humans manufacturing of chocolate, dragons who lived in countries where coco plants grew, traded the beans to dragons living further away from the source. As time passed, a family of shape-shifters in Belgium found the niche market of chocolate for Dragons quite profitable. They have become well known among the dragon population for their delicious chocolate concoctions. The chocolate recipes are passed down from parent to child and the trick for magical delivery of the product to the various dragon clans is a well guarded secret.


7. What have been your favorite reactions to your work?


I had a young lady of about thirteen read the first sci-fi book in The Star Traveler series and she told me she cried when the two main characters became separated and one became ill. I thought that was so cool, because she was so involved with the characters that she ached for them. 

I told another young man that the sci-fi were my first books and that he could see me grow as an author if he read all six. I said that I really felt I found my ‘writer’s voice’ by book three. After reading them all he said, ‘if you found your voice in book three, you learned to sing by book six.’ I was happy to hear he thought I continued to improve.


I liked what someone said about the paranormal books, that they were ‘like a breath of fresh air in a genre gone stale.’ I really think they are different from any other paranormal in the genre today and I just love crawling into a wolf’s skin and seeing the world through his eyes.


8. You are having a tea in your favorite teashop and you suddenly notice a new door you’d never seen. It’s open and like a good adventurer, you step in to see what’s up. Inside, there is a heptagonal room with a spell book open. What spell is on the page and what happens when you read it out loud?


The spell read:
Take a sip of soothing tea,
Jump on my back, come fly with me.
Delightful adventures come from worlds afar,
Close your eyes and there you are.
I am old and very wise,
See the world through my eyes.


I took a sip of the tea which magically appeared in a lovely, gold rimmed cup with dragons wrapped around it.

Promptly, upon swallowing the tea, Farloft appeared before me. He had to stoop a bit in order to fit without bumping his head and he did a slick maneuver to catch a vase, which he smacked with his wing, before it hit the floor. 


Catastrophe avoided, he extended a wing and I climbed on board. 

In the blink of a dragon’s golden eye we were out of the room and drifting over a spacious landscape filled with herds of centaurs and frolicking satyr. A Pegasus passed us by and I knew without a doubt that we were in The Realms.

We spent the rest of the day sailing lazily from world to world with a stop for tea with the fairies, and a very kind wizard who conjured up a lovely raspberry trifle. 


Farloft thought it might be fun to stop off and visit Cody, the shape-shifter, at his food cart. He, in turn, invited us home to have dinner with Azur, the fire demon and Simone. Of course, we were sworn to silence regarding Cody and Scar, the wolf, being one and the same. 


We finished off the day sharing a round of mead with Jake and Arr on board the Calpernia in a distant corner of the Neptune Galaxy to the right of Rigil Four.


It was a delightful day and could not have been possible without the conjuring spell and Farloft’s uncanny ability to fold time and space.



9. You are commissioned to design a garden as a tribute to your stories. Take us through a tour of that garden.


My theme garden would have many rooms each based on a genre I write.
The garden would be dominated by a huge glass domed conservatory built as an Imagining Chamber like the ones aboard the Mother Ships in my sci-fi series. The chamber would be voice activated. Merely state which garden you would like to experience and you would be instantly standing in it, from the universally renowned Muldvaian Sunset Shores, where you could witness the magenta and lunar blue sunsets over the crystalline beaches of the Endless Sea, to the Stellar Pyrotechnic Display viewed nightly from the tree tops of the Baobobo Hanging Gardens of Magness.


To the East of the conservatory would be the fantasy garden. Farloft would assist me in the design of this. It would have to be large, and relatively open, in order to accommodate landing dragons of all sizes. There would be topiaries of dragons festooned with twinkle lights. A large ever-bearing apple tree would dominate the center of the garden. Farloft loves apples. A deep cascading stream would end in a large pool for wading and washing off sticky apple-juiced paws.


To the West of the conservatory would be the tribute to The Realms and my paranormal series. The center of this garden would be dominated by a huge eighty-five foot tall weeping willow tree. Under it would be a stone, life-sized statue of the vampire willow-gate keeper, Remy, and Scar, my shape-shifter in his wolf form. There would be a bit of whimsy here for those who took the time to bend down and read the inscription at the base of the statue. It would be a quote from some ‘sage advice’ Remy gave Scar (while in his human form as Cody) upon his declaration of his intention to date the human, Simone. It would read, “Don’t Shift during sex.” 


The rest of this room would resemble an English style, slightly gothic, garden with several smaller rooms consisting of a knot garden, an herb garden (for Azur, the Fire demon’s healing herbs), and a maze for Simone and Scar, in his wolf form, to play. The maze would have to be built on a large scale, since dragons love puzzles and no doubt would wander over to investigate. No one wants to see a dragon stuck between hedges. They tend to burn their way out when frustrated and that just would not be good for the hedge. 


The final room would be one that actually, currently exists in my garden. You pass under a wisteria arbor and into the Moroccan Room. This is my writing and reading room, added onto the house a few years back. Its walls are glass and open to the rest of the garden. I often envision myself, and my mother, spending hours there drinking tea and chatting as we did in my vignettes in my memoirs. It is a jewel toned oasis with beaded curtains, lush pillows, and an overabundance of frou-frou.


10. Lastly, let us know where we can find you and what we can find there.

My Website: www.TheresaSnyderAuthor.com

Literally everything is available on my site.

· All my social links

· Main blog with a continuous running free serialized story which I post to each Saturday

· Under each cover on the right-hand side you will find a link to a site with a synopsis of the series, sample chapters of each book and links to all the platforms for purchasing under the headers

Affordable Proofreading & Editing Service: http://affordableproofedit.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheresaSnyder19

Facebook – General Page: https://www.facebook.com/theresa.snyder.14

Facebook – Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/booksbytheresasnyder/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TheresaSnyderAuthor/posts

Moroccan Room Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qFQL6-Yf-c

Society of Enlighted Dragonologists: http://www.dragonologists.com/

· Cheri Matthynssens and I founded this site to promote dragons as more than man eating machines, they are creatures who love, laugh and feel, just like us.

2015 Vacation Photos with Farloft: http://farloftsrhetoric.blogspot.com/2015/05/international-vacation-with-theresa.html

· Farloft loves taking ‘selfies’ and on our whirlwind ten day tour of the world this past summer he took a lot of us. We sent postcards home with the results.


* * * * 

My thanks to Theresa for the wonderful in depth answers and for showing the value of true kindness . In addition, she took the prompt I sent and weaved a fun little tale I'll be sharing soon, so Stay Tuned and read on.

Prompt: We are coworkers in a drab office and suddenly a magic bomb explodes and transforms the office into a magical maze. It’s up to you and me to escape the dangers of the maze and save the office.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Tao of Geek

In life we are invited to follow our own path, whatever it may be. For those of us who say the word geek and wear it as armor or have it written in our family crest, the path is clear to follow.

Love thy passions unabashedly. 

Fandoms exist thanks to fans who geek out totally and aren’t embarrassed to wear clothes, backpacks, socks, stickers, decals, pins, tattoos or anything related to their particular movie/book/series/comic of choice. We don’t care if people don’t agree with us, but when we find people who DO agree with us, let the geeking begin.

Give a tithe to thy passions

Being a geek means you will spend money not on expensive jewelry but on figurines, t-shirts, limited edition whatevers and won’t question your decision for one second.

Love thy neighbor’s geekness as thou would  lovst thy own

Being a geek, the only rule is to accept thy geekness as you would accept others and vice-versa. Being a geek is all about screaming what you love and finding kindred people to geek out with. Still, we should all get along and respect our mutual geekness.

Haveth a lotteth of funneth

Being a geek is most times all about having fun and that’s exactly what you have to do. Be passionate, just don’t be stuck about what your theories and opinions are. The idea of geeks are to show force in numbers and unite collective brain power AND passions.

So tell me, what else are we missing in this post to complete the Tao of Geek?

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A random wishlist

In life, we all have plenty of things we want to achieve. Some are more conventional than others. This list is about those others. Those things that for some reason I want to achieve and although not sure how I will, the desire is there. So here goes:

  1. Do a book music tour where I play small venues and read of my books and play songs
  2. Star in a video for the song “Lady, your roof brings me down.” I would love for film students to help me bring out a concept I have for every time I listen to this song by Scott Weiland. Why do I want to star? Ego might be the easy answer, but I honestly would love the challenge of stepping COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone in the name of artistic expression for a song that evokes so many images in my mind.
  3. To have JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman enjoy something I write. Honestly, this is more of a wish to give back to these two magnificent writers who have touched me so deeply with their words. Beyond thankful for them and more than validation, I just want to know something I wrote made them smile. Childish? Sure. But we’re all allowed a fandom or two, aren’t we?
  4. To record my music at a higher level. Although far from a rockstar or epic, I do think my songs merit a go at trying to record them in better quality to share. 
  5. To help write the story for a video game. I have an RPG concept I’d like to develop and also have a different idea for a story altogether. It’s just an itch I want to scratch with a game controller :D Oh and there’s the matter of the body boarding video game I’d love to make.
  6. To make my own soda brand. I’m random, get used to it :D
  7. I want to learn to rock climb and to climb one mountain. Doesn’t need to be anything psycho. Just me and a rock getting to know each other.
  8. To make a board game that has high replay value. I think that’s a pretty cool challenge.
  9. To appear in a body boarding segment. I’d love to see footage of me riding and see how I can improve my riding.
  10. Help in the design of an amusement park ride. How flipping epic would that be? I think of JK getting on a Harry Potter ride and smiling to herself. :D
  11. To give a commencement speech. More than anything, I would like the ability to say something that will inspire graduates to throw caution to the wind and dream big. I regularly read/watch Steve Jobs’s commencement speech and would love to do that.
  12. Do a TED Talk. To do a TED Talk you should be doing something that can make an impact on the world. I want to develop some of the initiatives I am pursuing to the point where I can impact a child in Pakistan and how he can get along well with a girl from the Scottish Highlands and beyond. 

And yes, this is off the top of my head. :D We’ll see how I go about pursuing these and many other dreams, because, why not?

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I can’t drive 35

Although Sammy Hagar couldn’t drive 55, I stumbled 20 less than that.

A full 161 days after my 35th birthday, I finally sit down to write my birthday post. This is actually on par with 2015, which was such a crazy year on so many fronts. For me, the feelings I’ve had most of my adult life continue. In some contexts I feel like a baby boy while in others I feel downright ancient. It’s an odd way to achieve balance, but such is life and such have been the first 160 days of me being 35.

Although it can also be described in one word

Transition

Mind you, it wasn’t a smooth transition but I feel the shift and at this time I’m swimming through a sea change, which is intense. On most birthdays the last couple of years I’ve sat down and reflected on what that last year meant on that very same day. Last year shook me in plenty of ways… enough to delay this post almost half a year.

But the end result is the same. I’m thankful. For the good and bad. For the easy and hard. For the pleasure and pain. I learned several valuable lessons, some easier to swallow than others. I was surprised, disappointed, hurt, touched, scared, and calm. I ran the gauntlet of emotions and although some scars remain, I’m better for it and hopefully wiser (I’ve learned that lessons and wisdom yield fruit long after they’re learned instead of an immediate payoff).

Creatively it was a magnificent year with plenty of blogposts and me tossing myself into my insecurities for better or worse. I’m recording videos where I ramble or playing songs both original or covers. I finished my second novel, which will get its own blogpost and video very shortly, I’m working on recurring series on social media, and challenging myself to push deeper, to wield words in my voice and to not shy away from the rawest emotions I feel through my work. I had a wonderful showing at the Puerto Rico Comic Con, met some amazing people and was blessed with a lot of support that still goes strong. I published my daydreams and two poetry collections. I jotted down plans for future projects and the prospect of a blank page has never made me smile more.

I also interviewed several brilliant people and the trend shall continue. That’s because I’m also collaborating with several brilliant and beautiful minds on projects of varying scope in search of the beauty of synergy, i.e. surpassing the sum of our parts. It’s been a wonderfully rewarding experience and something that I cherish deeply.

In regards to health, I learned to ask for help when needed, and that one of the hardest parts of doing so is admitting you need that help. I also learned to follow recommendations and make decisions that are for my well being as well as others. I also learned that one is quite capable of failure and that said failure hurts you to the point of knocking you down and robbing your sails of any wind. With that lesson also came the lesson that recovery is possible when you hit whatever ails you with all you have and use every resource available. Self-patience… never have I had to work on it as I did and rarely have I been as scared as I was at certain points from last year. But all in all, part of the transition, part of the lesson.

I was also rewarded by the reminder that some people will be there in good times and bad times and that kindness can always prevail and in addition, is always the best option, at least for me. So the transition continues and more changes are coming. But unlike the day of my birthday, I’m a lot readier to face it with a smile, and an open heart to whatever the cards hold for me.

The learning continues and so does the living. As for August 13, 2016…. Fully expect me to write on that very same day and that between now and then, there’ll be plenty more to share. My thanks for anyone who reads this, for all the people who care, for all the people who have offered me support, and for allowing me the opportunity to pay forward the kindness life gives me daily.

I titled this post by saying I can't drive 35... and that's true, because I choose to walk it and enjoy every step.

Peace, love and maki rolls.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Sarah Brentyn




I enjoy reading a variety of styles and follow a lot of writers for different reasons. From life tips to demons in poetry, I enjoy variety, though once in a while I come across someone who is real. Someone who bleeds, sings, soars, hurts, cries and writes. Sarah Brentyn is real. Sure she can be snarky and smartassery is a common occurrence, but every single time I chance by her blog, I’m offered something that leaves me thinking. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, deep thoughts, real thoughts, whatever that may mean at any given moment. So I got it in me to ask some questions and she was kind enough to offer some answers.

Here they are.


* * * *

1. Firstly, thank you for participating in this Writer Wednesday series and off the bat, here’s the first question: I’ve read in your blog that you are an introvert, how does that reflect in your writing and how has writing impacted your life?

Okay, first of all those are two questions. Cheater. Second, they are ridiculously difficult to answer. And C, I don't want to tell you. Introverts. Can't live with them, can't make them talk.
I will say that writing has impacted my life in the sense that it gives me life. I can’t breathe or, you know, live or whatever without it.

2. Writing is something that can be a very personal experience although depth is a relative term. How do you think writing helps one explore one’s depth and what benefits do you find in writing?

What's with the two-for-one questions? Ugh... I skim. I use one of those mesh things that clear stuff off the surface of the pool when I write. Some people dive right in and share wicked deep stuff and, for them, that might be therapeutic. I admire them. But I think you can find really interesting things floating about on the surface. Or... I'm a chicken. Either way.

3. For me, water is a strong element that appears in many places. Are there topics in life, the world or nature that often make their way into your writing?

Anything goes. If it happens in my life, I write about it. People fascinate me (mostly in a not-so-good way). I need to wear one of those t-shirts that say, “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” Or I could get business cards with that on it or something. Just to warn people. Because I’m nice.

I absolutely love nature. Trees are always awesome. And the sky with all those cool clouds. I also love the elements. Earth, Air, Fire, & Water and their corresponding directions, colors, and symbols have always intrigued me. I find water seeps into my writing a lot but earth shows up quite a bit, too. Also. Lemon Shark and Lemon Shark Reef. Both water-logged blogs. 


4. You’ve mentioned fiction is a challenging genre to write in. What challenges have you found with writing fiction and what is the toughest part?

Ha! Challenging. You're sweet. I think the toughest part of writing fiction is how hard I am on myself. Also, I'm a pantser. I like being a pantser but apparently that’s wrong and I’m supposed to use storyboards or outlines or something. And, to be honest (and unpopular), there are way too many opinions out there about how you're “supposed” to write. I got tangled in that nasty net and almost drowned. (Ah. There’s water again.)


5. If Mother Nature came to you to ask to come up with a new season to compliment the other four, what would it be like, what would its name be and what would plants and animals do?

You are so strange and wonderful. I'm sorry to disappoint but I love the four seasons and wouldn't add or take any of them away. (I don't mess with Mother Nature. Plus, I’d have to find more room in my closet for out-of-season clothes.)

6. How many journals have you kept, what’s the oldest entry and how does journaling help you in writing and life?

I've had so many journals in my life I seriously can't count them all. The oldest entry would be around the time Star Wars came out. The first time. (That's me saying I'm old and have been writing a long time.) Journaling both gives me ideas and gets rid of brain-clutter to allow ideas in. Gratitude journals and free-writing are my favorites.

7. How does light and darkness impact your writing?

Light and dark, yin and yang, two sides of the same proverbial coin. Feeling the warm sun shine on my skin is just as amazing as sitting under a full moon hanging in an inky sky full of stars.

I like to play with the literal and metaphorical meanings of light and dark.



8. Self-doubt is one of the toughest challenges for any writer. It’s also one of the most common things I’ve heard from experienced and newbie writers alike. What is your relationship to self-doubt and what advice could you offer anyone in regards to this?

Ah, you have been reading my blog. Sneaky. My relationship with self-doubt makes my husband jealous. It's intimate. And it's long-term. I have no advice but if someone reading this does, feel free to leave that in the comments because I'd rather like to be rid of the bastard. (Self-doubt, not my husband.)


9. You are a superhero with a secret identity. Describe your super hero persona, compare it to who you are without the costume, then write a haiku that activates your super powers.

That's like... How many questions is that? Is that even a question?


I'm already The Hulk. *SMASH* But if I could choose?

I’m overwhelmed. There are too many options. Let's start with my costume. Regardless of cape, mask, or outfit, I must have kick-ass boots. That’s a given.

I'd probably be a vigilante (I know, that's not nice). But if I'm a super hero, there'd be no need for me because I'd be able to read minds and stop people before they did anything bad. Talk about an identity crisis. Naturally, I have super strength and speed. Unfortunately, I can't fly and that has always pissed me off. My sister can. Brat.

Wonder Twin powers
activate! Form of a...wait
Dammit. That's been used

See? Haiku. That was fun.

Without the costume? I’m just a girl. Standing in front of the world. Asking it to love itself.



10. Where can people read more things Brentyn?

Self-doubt is now stalking me… It’s not much, but here I am:

Blogs at: Lemon Shark

Writes fiction at: Lemon Shark Reef

Tweets on Twitter at: @SarahBrentyn

Thanks for the chance to… Oh, who am I kidding? You just tortured me with your questions. But I suppose I’m taking up space on your blog so thanks for that. Truly, I appreciate the interview and look forward to collaborating with you on whatever prompt you throw at me. To torture me. Again. (I know. I don’t think I’m funny, either. But you’re a lovely person and talented writer and I think you’re awesome. Does that help?)



* * * *


Thanks again to Sarah for enduring the torture of multiple tiered questions and random thoughts. As always, it was real. It's funny because she insists that she only skims the surface, which is almost a frightening thought if she would ever dig deep for her writing. Also thanks to her for considering the prompt I sent. If you’re curious as to what a future collaboration may look like, see below.

Peace, love, and maki rolls


PROMPT: In the mythical land of Kanvas, the Grayscale curse has ruled the land for decades. You are an ink fairy known as Pantone and I am a water bandit. It is our job to release the 7 musical colors to break the curse and return color to the land.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rant in Estrada Minor – Childhood glimpse in 1,000 words

I can’t see a rubber chicken without thinking of Fozzy Bear. When I did something bad I would sit myself in a corner sometimes. I confessed to a priest that I’d killed many ants one day. When I prayed, I’d say a Hail Mary as if it was my password to be allowed to pray/talk to God. I read a lot of Chinese comics as a kid. My first leanings to agnosticism I think began when I envisioned all deities sitting in a round table trying to sort this world. I was 9 when I had that thought. I fondly remember scraped knees. I remember that at the time it wasn’t so fond. The first girl I ever fell in love with had glasses. We rode a horse together like in those romantic novels. I was 5. I had a slight degree of dyslexia as a child. I still write the number 8 backwards. I’m still embarrassed by my handwriting, but as a child it was really bad. I was always told I would be a doctor or a lawyer. I had other plans even then. I remember riding my bicycle in my neighborhood. There was a large shrub at the end of our complex. I rode and crashed into it making a permanent cave… a bat cave some called it. You’re welcome Batman. I remember that next to that shrub was a shed that if you climbed on top you could reach a mandarin tree from a huge house behind the complex. We always made sure that no oranges were there. I sometimes slept with a bat. Just in case. I also loved taking baths. I sometimes had a bottle of the red Plax mouthwash nearby in case burglars came in to tip it into the bathtub and make as if I was dead. I’m weirder in some ways but less weird in others. I was known to head butt people if I was angry. I was a big fan of Jean Claude Van Damme. I also see the link. I spent countless hours playing video games. I also played outside. I didn’t know I was a firm believer of balance even then. I loved eating sweets. I would put Nerds candy into a Coca Cola. I’m still amazed I’m as healthy as I am. I remember being annoyed by a Freedent commercial where a couple was playing golf, hit the ball as a couple, and then looked at each other as fake as their bullshit gum. That commercial still bothers me. I’m sure they missed the hole. I loved Big Trouble in Little China. I would run around with a laundry basket on my head as if I was the fourth storm. I never walked in on my parents having sex. Every time I took a flight, I would search for Care Bears in the clouds. I still sometimes wish I saw one waving at me even if it meant we could crash. I used to play with my GI Joes as if they were in a kung fu movie. I might have made a link between kung-fu grip and jung-fu. Or maybe I preferred kicks and punches to guns and bombs. Some things don’t change. On sick days I would watch Star Wars, Swiss Family Robinson, The Cat from Outer Space, Robin Hood (Disney version), a ton of cartoons and Supermarket sweep. I often called mom to tell her about great deals I saw on infomercials. Part of me still wants that food dehydrator. It was because of the home made fruit rolls ups and beef jerky. I remember my grand uncle fondly. He had false teeth. He kept them in a glass of water next to the bed. I learned early in my life to not drink water from a glass without looking first. False teeth still freak me out. My grandfather on my father’s side breathed deeply. Very deeply. Freakishly deep. He would also wind the cuckoo clock as many times as I’d ask him too. He was the first death in my family that I remember. The first one was actually my aunt. When you’re a kid, time gets mixed up. The same happens when you’re an adult. My mom had a store in Old San Juan. They changed locales twice. The third one had a second floor where I would go to hang out alone. I still remember fondly the adventures I’d have with coat hangers, large boxes, and miscellaneous racks. My grand aunt had the best mints. They were from the Dominican Republic and looked like sugary emeralds. I still remember the taste of those mints and the smell of her hair. I loved the Little Mermaid Soundtrack. I had the tape. I put it in my dad’s car. It got stuck for almost a year. Those mornings were some of the happiest times. My dad was more of a saint than I gave him credit for as a child. I still remember the smell of construction plans in his room. He worked too much. But he meant well. He always did. Two of my oldest memories are a dream where I almost drown and a dream where my parents abandoned me. My nightmares are someone’s reality. I didn’t know then how lucky I was. I remember going to Disneyland and having my mom buy a lollipop that was bigger than my head. That was a sweet challenge. I conquered it. When I was a kid I had to go to a chiropractor twice due to torticollis. I had a lot of stuffed animals. They needed to be comfortable when they slept. I didn’t. Torticollis happened. But they slept well. I got detention once. I called a teacher a name to her face. It was mean. She died a couple of years later. I was never able to apologize. That still hurts. I always felt bad for the squirrel in the Sword in the Stone. She deserved better. That’s all for now.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

My first song in Spanish


The first song I try in Spanish is Té para Tres from Soda Stereo. This week the world lost three lovely people, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Rebecca Ochoa. The last is not known to many but she was someone from my life who unfortunately passed away. Below are the lyrics transcribed and translated by @Moncivaiz, a very lovely friend from Google Plus. Cheers to all and here's to a great weekend where we celebrate life.



The cups on the table 
Spilled rain... 
a little of honey 
a little of honey
is not enough 
the eclipse was not partial 
and blinded our eyes 
I saw you crying
I saw you crying 
for him
Tea for three 
A sip of distraction 
looking to decode us
there is nothing better 
there is nothing better
than home 
tea for three

Las tazas sobre el mantel
la lluvia derramada...
un poco de miel
un poco de miel
no basta
El eclipse no fue parcial
y cegó nuestras miradas
te vi que llorabas
te vi que llorabas
por él
Te para tres
Un sorbo de distracción
buscando descifrarnos
no hay nada mejor 
no hay nada mejor 
que casa
Te para tres

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A villain who stole our hearts

This is the third post this week related to someone’s passing. I hope it is the last for a while……

****

Some actors are simply born to play the villain. If you look at Donald Sutherland, you see it in the facial features. But when you think of the villains Alan Rickman played… it’s not just his bone structure that made him villainous, it’s that he relished the opportunity to steal the show.

To this day, no other Die Hard villain has come close to Hans Gruber. The most wicked incarnation of the Sheriff of Nottingham stole Kevin Costner’s thunder. Severus Snape in film is one of the few instances where an actor upstages the book version of a character (and not just any character but one of the most complete and fleshed out characters I've ever had the pleasure to read). In his role as Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, he was also magnificently awful.

But while thinking of other villainous roles, I remembered his painfully human role as Harry in Love Actually and how much I laughed with his performance as Alexander/Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest. Which goes to show that he could have been any role he wanted and that I’m probably missing out on countless movies that show off a whole other aspect of him as an actor.

This is a testament to talent as much as full commitment to craft.

Here’s the thing, if you see a photograph of Alan Rickman, you see that his face was actually quite kind. He had a genuine smile and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he was a warm guy liked by many. But when he embodied these characters… it went beyond acting… he metamorphosed to frighten and revile as much as he delighted.

Look at any list of top film villains of all time and you will see his roles. The magic to me comes from his voice… his cadence, his inflection. It was an incomparable vehicle rivaled by very few actors and although he was brilliant as Snape, Hans is the perfect example of the power of his voice in the delivery of a line. Case in point, “Shoot the Glass.” Although there's also the power in the way he could spit out the name Potter.

He also showed that you really don’t need to scream to get your point across. Actually, screaming deflates many things we have to say… and he played this to his advantage. seeing his delivery, you would think that he loved to read, because he loved to linger on syllables and knew how to make love to a word before unleashing it on the viewer.

Then there were those eyes. Eyes that could be as cold as a shark’s eyes, inching their gaze across the vast nose that added to his menace. The same eyes that could show human fragility and make you laugh out loud.

The best actors really do stay with you long after you see a movie and today we celebrate the passing of another brilliant performer. As we watch the credits of his life roll, I’m certain of two things:

His performance will stay with us long after they finish

And quite often, he stole the show.

Cheers

Here today…

Yesterday I found out a friend from high school was in the hospital and wasn’t doing well.

Today I found out she passed away.

I hadn’t heard from her in a while and truth-be-told we had history. Long story short, we went out when we were in high school and it ended up like most relationships that occur in high school… poorly. Fast forward a couple of years and thanks to her reaching out, we made amends and afterwards every time I saw her it was a very pleasant surprise.

Today’s news is of the other kind of surprise. The type that slaps you into reality and reminds you how very fragile we are. It shows you how real mortality is and that we would do ourselves an immense favor by being kind, burying any loose hatchets lying around, and enjoying life.

It’s also a very real reminder at how thankful I am to her for having reached out all those years ago. For asking me point blank if I hated her. For kindly listening to my most honest answer to such a hard question to be asked. For letting a man in his twenties pry open an old wound and saying what he felt. For talking to me and always remaining calm. For saying she understood. For not just saying she understood and actually understanding. For forgiving me the anger I am so capable of. For freeing me of carrying such a common burden as old heartbreak. For asking for forgiveness and accepting my apology. In short, for having learned much earlier than me to be a better human and for being one of the people whom I’m fortunate to have called friend in several different ways and who taught me so much about life and about myself.

Today I am yet again reminded of life and that while we are here today, we have no idea what will happen tomorrow and that such a fact shouldn’t scare us but inspire us to live. To remain alive is not a choice we have… but to live? That is most certainly a choice we are all invited to make the most off.

Godspeed

A bug's nature

Recently a good friend tagged me in a prompt from the picture you'll see below (credit at the end of the post). She asked a few people to see what they could come up with and this was what I was inspired with. hope you enjoy.

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A little fairy reminisced on the old days of when the junkyard was functioning. Metal laced corner to corner. It was a true scrap heap of forgotten experiences, broken dreams, flat tires, and rusted journeys. Walking through the now vibrant garden, she stood at the foot of a large Volkswagen Beetle. Moss and plants had covered the entire car and in all honesty, it could have looked as if the ground were swallowing the vehicle… except that Jin knew better because she saw how happy the beetle was. Some metal parts still peeked out and they shone brilliantly, smiling to reflect the sun’s rays.

“Do you like being this way?” she asked.

The ghost of the car blinked its headlights and looked down on the small fairy girl. “They always called me a beetle but treated me like a car. I knew I was beetle and I wanted to live my days in a garden without a car in the world. When seeds rained down from heaven I called out to each to say hello. They did and also hugged me. Many even wanted to live with me and I was more than happy to have their company. Ten years passed and I am surrounded by green, flowers are thankful for the support I offer, and I’m kept cool all day thanks to the generous moss. Finally I feel like the name I was given. A happy little beetle in his happy little garden.”

Jin smiled in response to Brother Beetle and went on her way, happy to see someone reach their true potential. 


Image by Didier Cathala : source on http://www.artlimited.net/image/fr/540576

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mark of the silhoutte

The silhouette burned through my shadow.
Darkness darker than my own.
Ash kisses hissed across the scars of my brain
While hysteria stains streak the glass of my inner eye.

Hollow steps echo behind my ribs
They’re either tap dancing
Or dancing a cheeky jig.

Meanwhile, sweet nothings dance on a pole
They strip of their sweetness
Leaving nothing much at all
And emptying the wallet of pleasant thoughts.

Musings meander between breaths
Flicking at lungs
And turning to tighten my vocal vise.

Regret is not a bitch
But a hooker.
She charges for every time you bed her
Leaving you spent and broken
And confidently smiling
Sure that you’ll return.

Ahead the road mocks by stretching into forever
Guess I’ll have to walk.

Meanwhile, roses hold up construction signs
Reduce speed
Take the right lane
And smell.
It’s the law.

A good time fugitive,
I suck on the bitter lozenge of recollection
Stick my thumb out for a ride
And save another finger
For another time
And another dance with anger.


Monday, January 11, 2016

The Most Remarkable Oddity

A Space Oddity, a White Duke, a Disco King AND a Goblin King, a Rebel², a Thursday’s Child, an Earthling, an insane lad, an Outsider, a Young American afraid of Americans… he was made of Stardust and has now become a Black Star.

When I talk about influences, I talk a lot of bands in terms of lyrical content and style… but when it comes to attitude, David Bowie has left quite the mark in my life and is one of 3 artists that served as inspiration to choose to be an indie writer and do what I want on my own terms.

Some people say they have range… no one comes close to David Bowie in terms of variety. That he was amazing in so many genres and styles is as amazing as it is bizarre. That he always managed to make it sound Bowie is just a testament to not only talent but soul. He always did whatever he wanted, didn’t feel the need to apologize for anything and as an artist truly and deeply challenged fans to broaden their horizons.

My first real in depth experience with Bowie was with Labyrinth. To this day, it’s a sentimental favorite, one of those movies and soundtracks that just makes me smile and the better option of hairstyle when pitted against Axl Rose in Welcome to the Jungle.

Another massive appeal of Bowie was that even being a true legend, he always seemed casual in his confidence and never cocky to the point of being distasteful. I’m not saying he was humble, by any means. I’m just saying he had class… and plenty of it. Seriously, who else can get away with a potential gay scandal in the 80’s and smile on his way to making another album that just baffles the mind. No one. That’s because when you use the phrase “the stuff of legend”, you see why Bowie was such a legend. The fact that he survived the 70’s is a mystery in and of itself and again, the stuff of legend. That he always challenged himself intensely is the same.

Although always a Bowie fan, it wasn’t until ‘97’s Earthling that I really clicked with him. That album blew me away. When I think of it more, the amazing thing is that he was 50 when he released such an intense album. True, Outsider was darker, but Earthling had so much electronic grit to it, that I couldn’t help but love it. And yes, the cover had a lot to do with that impulse purchase. Wearing a tattered Union Jack coat, the juxtaposition between how he looked and the placid English countryside caught my imagination as he so often has and will continue doing so.

As I dug deeper into his discography, I was amazed time after time and almost regretted having taken 16 years to really appreciate Bowie. I can sum it up thusly, it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite Bowie album. He was a musical chameleon that will never be replicated. He could make you rock with epic tracks like Rebel Rebel, make your imagination soar with Space Oddity, break your heart with Where are we now, make you think with The Man who sold the world or inspire you to throw caution to the wind with Heroes.

He didn’t care what he was supposed to do and it didn’t matter what was in style, because he was style. Throughout his life he was as much a music icon as he was a fashion icon and he had a magnificent talent for looking impeccable even when he was at his oddest.

Apart from the chameleon qualities, what I think was most amazing was how he used his signature instrument. One of the most unique voices in rock, he always got the most of his voice and as his voice evolved, so did his style and music… and never feeling as if he was half assing it or as if he was losing it. A lot of singers have their voice quit on them because they force it… but with Bowie, nothing ever felt forced. Ever.

Today we celebrate a legacy. Millions will listen to his music. Many will see his film appearances and a wave of gratitude will soar across the world.

As for David, my deepest thanks for the influence to follow my path, the inspiration to dance with all my muses, for music that will be with me as long as I live, and for being a hero, though for more than just one day.

Peace, love, and stardust

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reminiscing and reflecting across the tides of 2015

I am certain that when many of us look back on 2015, we will remark at how batcrazy that year was. I know a year is independent of thought, feelings, or emotions, but if any year could give that opinion a run for its money, it was last year.

For some people, the year was utter hell, but for me what made it so intense was how up and down it was.

I remember seeing clouds tumble fiercely on the 31st. The winds were so strong, so intense, so insistent to wreak havoc and continue being completely unpredictable. The day here had sunshine, then rain, then sunshine, then borderline torrential downpour, then drizzle, then sun, then wind, wind, and more wind. It was like the collective unconscious and consciousness wanted to get the year over and done with.

Intense is definitely the word that aptly describes the year, a year so full of emotions, of lessons, of victories, of pains, of frustrations, of worry, of smiles, of blessings, of challenges and everything in between.

My second outing in the Comic Con was a complete success for me. Almost doubled sales, had people for whom I was the first stop, met some truly remarkable people that I've become close with, lunched with, connected with, and collaborated with. It was a year where I was shown a glimpse of what I can do if I give my faith in my work free reign.

It was also a scary year. Health scares were a lot more frequent than I'd like and truth be told, thanks to chronic bronchitis and other situations, I feel as if it was a year where I was overmedicated to control my lungs, which put a spin to the rest of my system.

It was a year that had its disappointments too. In people, and myself. I didn't bat 1000, I didn't always nail it, and I had more than one stumble. But I always got up. I had friends from people in my life, near and dear, I acquired new friends, and learned that making peace with myself is the hardest obstacle I've ever had to overcome.

Although I will go more into detail later, I learned first hand how bad holding things within can be with you. Emotionally, it was a year of learning though and although I always try to take a good look at myself to learn, last year I had the deepest look yet. It was frightening, it hurt, and it seemed insurmountable at times. But I had people with me, my wife, my best friend, my mom, and some friends who are close to the heart even though distance would make a case otherwise. Thanks to being stubborn and having people be stubborn with me, I was able to get the train back on its tracks. Where one moment things might have seemed to be capsizing, I was blessed with countless angels with the right thing to say, or do. That I live with one of those angels is an unfair advantage I know.... but so is having people who have touched the deepest fibers of my soul even if we've never shared a handshake or a hug (even if we will).

But come January 1st, the skies were clear... there were no more clouds... the stormy weather had passed and even if there was wind, the weather was pleasant... beautifully so.

It was like the first day of the year put a sun smile over my shoulder to congratulate me on making it. That's because throughout it all, an overwhelming sense of clarity permeated my self in the last month of the year, even with another health scare. Even going through that, I was calm, knew what I had to do and did it.

Although far from finding my sense of Zen, I did see my path... not a glimpse of it, but a good hard look. It was an epiphany... not my first, but surely one that will leave a mark in my self.

So I look back at 2015, not unkindly, not unfondly, but appreciative of the victories, the lessons, the pain, and the angels that are with me every day in some way, shape or form. It was a 365 day reminder and expansion of how blessed I am.

So to all the kind spirits who have read me, written to me, reviewed me, commented me, shared me, laughed, cried, and experienced life through some shared experience; thank you. And get ready, there's a storm coming.... and I smile as I feed its winds.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking ahead to 2016 - My 2-Do List

Now that 2015 is done, and I've tallied what I was able to accomplish in one year, I was happy to see that for the most part I was able to accomplish a lot of what I set out to do and worked on plenty of projects to progress them as much as I could.

That said, a new year begins and so does a new list for things to tackle. Some resolutions shall also be shared along with a list of a couple of my own if only to put it on paper and be accountable. But I digress, here's my 2016 list of upcoming titles, projects, or fun shenanigans.

1. Publish Book 2 of the Human Cycle. I was able to finish the manuscript but I'm still transcribing. Expect this in January with book activities to go along with it. Oh and get ready... it's dark. More on this, very soon.

2. Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore, Volume 2. I'm in the process of writing the third short story of five I will include in the next installment of the daydreams, while also pondering what extra goodies I'll share. Stay tuned to this channel to enjoy some more whimsical goodness within Draem.

3. Ensueños de Mermelada. Although I will be translating some of my works, the daydreams rely so much on play on words that a translation would be a mistake. So I'll just have to write a set of short stories in Spanish. :D These will only exist in Spanish along with some other projects I'm working on and I'll eventually share the why to that.

4. Philosophy project. This work is nearing completion and is VERY different and VERY unique. I set out to do something very different... and it turned into a collaboration. One I'm very happy about and proud of. It's nice how life can surprise you and when people who inspire you find inspiration in your work as well.

5. Spanish poetry collection. When we get the right cover down, it shall be released and not one second before. Does that mean it's already written? Why yes. that's exactly what that means. :D

6. Bilingual Collection. One of my favorite short stories is here and this collection is to showcase the range of things I'm interested in. It's been delayed in part because what began as some short stories have grown into novella sized tales. It is a very me book in the sense that the tastes vary and the collection really explores a wide range of styles, from slam poetry to essays on social commentary, in the US and Puerto Rico.

7. Love poetry collection. If you've read my work you knowI'm not one for roses or clichés.

8. Heartbreak collection. There's two sides to every heart, and I've also collected words of pain because whoever think love doesn't hurt, is either highly medicated or has been wonderfully lucky.

9. Bukowski inspired collection. I'm reading my first collection by Bukowski right now and I've been so pleasantly impressed and surprised. One thing is to have expectations, another is to have someone write brilliantly and read things that dare you to push your writing in new directions.

10. Haiku book. Inspired by some friends to take haikus up a notch. I am trying to do something interesting design wise, so stay tuned.

11. Sci-fi novella. This project will be finished this year. That's a promise.

12. Young adult novel. In the vein of the daydreams, there's a story about a kid who dreams about flying. This will be finished before April and submitted to competition so wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

13. Blog collection. I've been asked a couple of times if I will do this.... and the answer is yes. The first 3 years of the blog will be adapted to a book. Why do I say adapted and not collected? Because it's not a simple copy/paste project. It never is for me.

14. Method to Madness. I will offer a book on writing tips from a relative newbie. A couple of people asked me for advice and two or three even suggested I put a book out. Never done anything like this, but don't mind sharing my brand of madness.

15. Noir novel. I will be retaking this project. It's dark, foul mouthed and oh so fun.

16. Greek mythology project. Another concept I've been meaning to tackle for a couple of years... and I'm in the mood to push myself and begin it.

17. Sólo Humano. Yes, I am translating my first novel... and yes this will take a lot of time. But I'm a do it yourself kind of guy and too many people have asked for it in Spanish for me to further ignore it.

18. 5 Non-fiction projects. Life is complex and varied and so is my writing. Already drew outlines for 3 of those projects. how much will I do? Well I dunno, we'll see.

But wait, there's more.

19. Teactionary. These quirky Tuesday installments shall continue. If you like them, good news.... there's already words lined up for the entire year and beyond :D

20. Visual Typos. My Monday offerings shall continue to offer some chuckles to start out your weeks.

21. More videos. Tea with JD shall continue as well as random me talking about random things.

22. More songs. I have at least 12 songs I haven't recorded. Finalizing lyrics, laying down final riffs and will record soon. And if you've ever been curious as to what I sing like in Spanish, stay tuned.

23. More interviews. Three sets of questions are still in the ether so stay tuned.

24. Collaboration Nation. Will talk about this more and you can rest assured plenty of collaborations are underway. :D

25. Book events. FINALLY found two new places to do activities at. And may return to the Bookmark as well. The idea and intention is to be active in 2016.... very active. Stay tuned for more news.

26. Puerto Rico Comic Con. I'm signed up, I'm pumped and I expect 2016 to be a stellar year. So stay tuned. Plenty will be up for offer this year... enough to make me wonder on the logistics of it all which is all sorts of happy problems. :D

27. Estrada goes abroad. I am researching places I can go for a Comic Con or an event. If you'd like me there, so would I. We'll see where I go and already 5-6 places identified. :D

28. Social Media. I shall continue very active on all social media, taking occasional hiatuses to finish projects, travel and sleep :D

29. For Writing Out Loud. This blog shall continue to grow and the goal for this year is 150 posts, a full 31 more than 2015. All I can say is, 2 down :D

30. Twist. Expect to see a LOT more of Twist AND Twistine :D Cheers

Looking fwd to this year, dear frands. I hope you enjoy all that shall come forth and I look forwards to comments, chatting, rambling, and sharing these slices of life. So there you have it. That's my to do list and I'm sticking to it. Here's to creating, to soaring, and to giving our best always.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.