Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#Humans4Humans: Giving for Given

As part of the launch of my 13th book, Given to Fly, I wanted to do something special as a thank you to my favorite band for the inspiration for the title of my new novel. For those who know me, it’s clear I’m a Pearl Jam fan through and through and to be honest, part of me wants my book to inspire people to listen to them more and if they have a show in your town, I hope my love for them inspires you to go. It’s truly one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I’m due a live show as soon as they’re near enough for me to go. 

That said, part of what I’m doing for my launch is taking any and all online proceeds from my books and donating to EB Awareness. I will admit that I only know about Epidermolysis Bullosa thanks to the efforts of the band and most notably Eddie Vedder, their lead singer and also a pretty kick as third guitarist, as well as a topnotch human. Pearl Jam has always been more than just a rock band, they’ve stood up to Ticket Master in the past, they encourage people to be activists, and they use their voice to try and make a difference. It’s something that I’ve always admired and do my best to do in my own right, even if it's a drastically smaller scale. Although far from a huge activist, I do my best to help in several causes, be it in support of Alzheimer’s Research, Cancer research, or through my #humans4humans efforts, which started with Puerto Rico in the #humans4PuertoRico efforts I did last year for Hurricane María.

For this year, I want to take any money I earn and donate to EB Awareness as my thanks to the band and all they do. Their music has helped shape my life and has influenced pretty much all aspects of my life, from how and what I write, to characters, to the music in my head when I’m on a wave, and beyond. So this is the least I can do, because I honestly believe we’re all in this together. Regardless of how effectively we segregate, differentiate, and insist on division, we are better together and if I can help a good cause, then why not? 

So from here until the end of the year, anything I sell via KDP or Draft 2 Digital goes to EB awareness, more than likely matching to a higher number. And this means every title I’ve released, not just Given to Fly. My thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered and anyone who has supported me throughout the years. It means the world and I thank you for letting me have the opportunity to offer at least a little help to good causes. 

If you want to learn more about EB, click here

If you’d like to make your own donation, click here

If you’d like to buy my books on Amazon, click here

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

13 is a Lucky Number

A lot of people are wary of the number 13. Superstitions abound and the whole Friday the 13th shtick is also kinda cute. But for me, I love the number. I was born on a 13 and it's been a number that along with the #4 has tagged along soooo often it's almost crazy.
So naturally, for my 13th book I wanted to do something special. Something from the heart. Something that will hopefully inspire people to read and write and thus came to be Given to Fly. Some people might ask why I'd choose my 13th book to be a middle-grade fantasy about a boy who dreams about flying, but most of the people that read me have said that's par for the course because it seems I have a knack for not following patterns and of course I'd write a book intended for audiences 11 and up after releasing not one but two non-fiction books that are pretty much self-help books.

But that's me and as an indie author, I need to show how broad the spectrum is when it comes to my work. As for Given to Fly, well a good first question to ask yourself is if you've ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film? That's what I set out to do with this book and that's why I insisted on avoiding violence. If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy. Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when talking about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.

The tale lets us tag along 11-year-old John Rivers, a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying. He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.

After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water. What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor would have been all it takes for him to consider heading into the sideways house, but when he sees a shadow inside, he climbs down to make sure no one is in trouble. Once inside, he discovers that no one is in trouble but that the term "living room" has never been as literal as when an ottoman starts asking him questions. The house’s owner is called Fäet Odstein. Adventure ensues as Fäet discovers that John dreams about flying. Intent on helping the boy out, they seek the help from a library pillaging bookworm, angels, spiders, and even take a moment to contemplate at the meaning of life in the linen lagoon as they try to discover what it takes to fly.

Apart from a whimsical adventure that feels like a lover letter to works by Hayao Miyazaki, Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists. For those who find the ä in Fäet a little familiar, you'll know that it is my literary incarnation, or more so, who I am when passed through the filter of who and how I am as a writer. There's a little Wonka, a dash of Cheshire, and a whole lotta me.

If you've ever read me, you'll know it's not the the first time I've written middle-grade fantasy stories. Some people have described my Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart. That same heart was the main driver for this story. Like most of my works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts I've ever received in my life. A long time ago, my wife Janelis gifted me a hard cover notebook. She had asked me what image meant the most to me. Without batting an eye, I looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name. A couple of months later and with misty eyes, she gave me a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…

The question lingered in the air and rumbled in my brain until a trip to Orlando had us visiting Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time. As sights, sounds, and smells washed over me in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, I found myself soaring straight into an epiphany. “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” I told Jane through tears of joy after getting off the ride.

Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read. It is a tribute to things that bring me joy and a song that makes my soul smile. In honor of the band that has inspired my life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to Actionforjackson.org in support of #EBAwareness. Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body's largest organ: the skin and Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause. It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to me and aligns with my #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through my writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.

To purchase your very own copy of Given to Fly, you can pre-oder the kindle copy by clicking here.

Thanks for reading, for supporting, and for letting me share 13 magnificent experiences in book form. It's an honor and fills my life more than I can logically capture.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.


Monday, November 19, 2018

A PSA: Public Sock Announcement

Firstly, and foremostly: my deepest thanks to everyone who participates week after week on #SockItToMe. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to share random sock pics and shenanigans and on my behalf, that shall continue… but a few things will be changing and I wanted to let you know. 

OK so, I realized I’ve never properly explained #SockItToMe, why I do it, and why I insist on flooding people’s feeds with sock pictures. If you don't know, every Thursday I take random pictures with my socks and share them on social media with the hashtags #SockItToMe and #SockFamily. The main purpose of it is to have fun. I see the ridiculous division we live on a daily basis and how simple it is for us to fall in patterns of negativity, anger, frustration, etc. and part of me honestly has a genuine desire to try to lighten things up. So if there were to be a Mission Statement, it would be as follows. 

“The Sock Family is committed to adding some silly to the general dialogue on social media to find a safe place where we can all find something goofy to smile about.”

This can at some point change but in short, it’s a feel good thread for anyone to participate in. It is very important that no one ever on any of the threads discriminate based on gender, sex, nationality, religion, creed, social class, or political affiliation. We may not always agree or even get along, but we can all find a moment to be silly and sometimes we need that to get a smile on our face. That’s my honest belief and my intent with #SockItToMe, #00Bananas, and most of what I do on social media. Btw, people who have nothing good to say are reported and blocked, which includes people who comment on other people’s feet negatively, people who turn the good family nature of #SockItToMe into something unwholesome and sexual, and anyone in the mood to troll. 

The thing is that I haven’t gone about this in a proper way and have even fallen into sock spam in a certain way and for that I apologize. Some people have come to me because they’re freaked out by pictures of feet, think it’s a waste of time, or makes it harder for them to use social media in the way they wish to. For that, I’m fully to blame and I’m sorry. I should ask, but instead, I tag a ton of people and some of them haven’t been too keen on it, which is their right and my oversight. I also always try to tag people in threads that I think would get along or would make a good fit with each other but come this Thursday, I’m going to stop doing that because regardless of my intention, some people aren’t into it and I want this to be a positive thing in someone’s feed, not something annoying. I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or irritated by anything I do. 

Simply put, anyone who knows me knows I love funky socks… but I also love collectibles, and mugs, and quirky t-shirts, and comics, and books, and CDs (ACTUAL CDs!!!) and artwork, and drawings, and I love sharing it with other people. I want people to share their goofiness and quirks as much as I want to share opinions about other things, but in other threads. This isn’t a thread to make some super deep philosophical assessment and it’s not a place to talk about our differences. It’s a place to be goofy, and smile, and remind yourself that not being serious is a wonderful and liberating thing. 

So come this Thursday, I’ll post a picture and pin it on Twitter… and if you want to join in, you respond to the picture. Feel free to tag people that would be into it, but on my behalf, I’m taking a break from doing that because more than mine, I want those goofy moment to be ours

So with that, a big hug, best wishes, and sock dreams. 

Peace, love, and maki rolls.