Posted in Author's Notes

I almost gave up

Giving up is an idea. It’s whatever the opposite of an act is. If you take action on an idea you have, you typically get to a point where you’re not sure how much further along you want to make it. For instance, this website was something I’ve long debated giving up. Why?

For one thing, I haven’t been offering healing services–so this website sits here and promotes old items, or new blog posts, neither of which generates more interest from passersby or income as a result of sales. I was planning to take down this website with no further ideas about where I might end up. However, the fact of the matter is simple: the internet isn’t going anywhere. I am known to a select few people, and people are going to check in on me now and then and see what I might have on offer. What if I suddenly decided to start working with people for healing again? What about the next time I publish a book? (I know it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever publish another book, but I promise, I have a number of them in the works). I gave up on social media.

The opposite (and antidote) to giving up is taking action. I’ve been writing several new books, all of them are exciting and potentially going to be great fun for anyone curious about my life, interested in fiction, or curious about the healing work I used to do. I’m considering making a YouTube presence and tinkering with different ideas about what might be useful and exciting to everyone. I might concentrate that channel on healing work, or writing and reading. I haven’t decided yet. When I do choose, you might benefit from subscribing over on the right-hand side of my blog to get notified in your email that something is up. That will also be true for new books I put out there and of course new blog posts.

Giving up because something is expensive or not going the way you planned only happens because you forget to breathe fresh life into it. And that’s what I’m committed to doing from now on. I did quit social media because it was sucking the life from me, and now that I have, I can continue to focus my energies on the digital parcel of ‘land’ I’ve cut out for myself. My website is my digital domicile, the pulpit on which I (virtually) stand and share my thoughts and feelings. And I intend to do much more of that. So, if you happen along here and decide you still like to read (or possibly later ‘view’), then I pledge to make it worth your time to do so.

Posted in Author's Notes

The Dubious Social Life of a moviegoer.

Like most people, I enjoy going out to the movies with friends or my family. In the olden times (when movies were first made, and small patches of gray began to show in my beard) I loved going to movies alone. To be near other people in a dark environment was always pretty good, but it wasn’t really being social. Then I came across this article about what movies even are in the era of Netflix (and I assume other streaming services).

The article is fresh, interesting and got me thinking about it. On the one hand, I can see how not staying at home and actually hitting the road to spend a little time next to total strangers in the dark can feel somewhat like you’re being social. But then I wondered about the fact that (at least from my own memory) I never actually spend any time observing the people around me that I don’t know, don’t speak to them, and they don’t speak to me. I know there are gregarious people who do sometimes make a quip or comment in an offhanded manner to anyone and everyone who might be around to listen, but it’s not the same level of social interaction you get at a restaurant, the grocery store, or even your local pub.

Having really tried to understand Sergi’s point of view I have failed. Here’s a quote:

“Consider the fact that we live in a time when we are so divided. What are the opportunities for people to go and share a communal space and enjoy an experience together, without worrying whether or not you voted for Trump or for Brexit? Almost every country right now has a fundamental issue of a lack of social cohesion and a lack of opportunities where people can remind each other that, fundamentally, we love stories. We love laughing; we love crying; we are not aliens here. If you remove that element, if you say, ‘Cinema can die, it’s not a problem, we can still watch films online,’ what you are doing is, you’re removing the social contract—and you do that at your own peril.”

To his first question, how about a diner, or any restaurant? What about the grocery store (I work at one)? How about the Laundry Mat? The Shopping Malls of America are all places where you can, as a citizen of these United States, visit in a day and truly speaking actually engage with more people than you ever will at a movie. Then there’s your local park, or–I know this might sound crazy–even your local public library? These are just some basic ideas off the top of my head. I don’t hold the view that there’s a shortage of places for people to go and hang out around each other. Think of the various cute towns where people go to shop, mingle, look around, eat, and in general be around each other in broad daylight?

I get it though. Sergi’s point is that movie theaters are yet another bastion of public space (but the cover price does make it feel pretty exclusive, am I right?) where people can go and forget themselves and everything but what’s on the screen for a little while. To my mind, movies are an arena of escape.

In fact, movies are a great way to escape other people. Same thing for books. And really, we can just stay home to experience these non-active-activities. Wait, are there non-verb-verbs? Probably, but here’s my point: we go to the movies to get away from it all, to experience other people who can’t see us, who don’t know that we even exist. That’s incredible! Just think about how you’re viewing people who don’t know anything about you. But you’re looking at them in ways that they can never really see themselves (unless they too watch their own movies). I’m not attempting to get into an article about theory of mind. Maybe Chris Hemsworth is on screen and wanting to scratch an itch but can’t and so instead he delivers his line a little heavier than he might otherwise. It’s a slam dunk for the movie director so they keep it in. But what you and I see is that he’s exasperated or some other such emotion.

Yesterday, as it turns out, my family and I went and watched Avengers Endgame, and it was entertaining (if a bit long) but there were aspects of it I didn’t specifically appreciate–no spoilers here. And then I had just read this article (linked above) before we went to see it. It got me thinking about how strange the argument by Sergi is, and how I’m not buying it. Kind of like I’m not buying the hype on the movie either. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad movie, it just wasn’t amazing. And I’m not sure why we all bought it. But I’m not exactly buying the argument that cinema is here to stick around or that it makes you a more social creature–I don’t think so.

What do you think?

Posted in Uncategorized

Time is too precious to waste on boring books. (Opinion)

I don’t write editorials, but this is still an opinion piece. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve tried to read some books and been incapable. There are just some books that for whatever reason may not actually be worth your while to read. I imagine someone out there could disagree with me about that. I do know there are people in the camp of reading something through to the end simply because they bought it or they are into self-torture.

However, it’s ok if you’re not masochistic with the books you accumulate. If you’re reading physical books and find yourself unable to get past chapter 1, it’s not a waste. You can donate to libraries or your friends or your fireplace during cold winters neighbors. If you collect ebooks you doing have to worry about them taking up space. I also look at reading like this: just because I can’t get though something now, doesn’t mean I won’t circle back around to it at some point in the distant future. When I’ve already read all the other good books. I also hold the notion that I could end up pleasantly surprised.

But sometimes books are just terrible. And they have no redemptive qualities that you can imagine. I’ve actually deleted some books from my kindle library having never got past a few chapters in because they were so bad that I knew it wasn’t something I could ever condone.

Life is short, read the good stuff and don’t worry about the rest.

Posted in Tech Stuff

I deleted my Facebook account. And it doesn’t matter.

It literally doesn’t matter why I deleted facebook. I had over 14k ‘friends’. Hundreds of which I had met professionally and personally over many years. Some were real friendships extending into real life. The great news? I still get to call those friends my friends because I still actually make time to go and meet with them. Or call them if they’re elsewhere in the country. And if we aren’t committed to meeting each other in that way, then we were never true friends to begin with.

Facebook may as well be called ‘AcquaintanceBook’ because most of the people there on my feed were people I didn’t remember, recognize, or know how to respond to their thoughts and paragraphs. How personally do you tend to take news articles? How badly do you suddenly want to share a piece of your mind with someone who wrote _________________ anything at all, ever?

You’re reading this very post, agreeing and nodding along until I say something you don’t remotely agree with–may well be a small point, a large one, or the entire post. Whatever it is, you suddenly feel the need to charge in on the comments and ‘speak your mind’. Set me straight. Yet, if you’re anything like me, you’re burnt out from all that ‘straightening’ of other people’s clearly identifiable ‘messes’ in the form of words on a screen. Why aren’t we smarter? Why don’t we get it already?

Anyway, social media and I have a long and sordid history. I don’t like who I become while using it. I feel like a mindless zombie scrolling through an endless loop of the same twenty people sharing different thoughts from different days, sharing pictures I want very much to ‘like’ or ‘love’ but don’t have the will to. This would mean I would have to spend more time doing something that I already determined was difficult for me to begin with online: being sociable. 

I want to see the person who took the picture, or better still; share the moment with them when they would have taken the picture. Enjoyed their company, made an offhanded joke about something and hear their laughter, or just be in blissful silence about it together. This is never more of a true feeling than when I see a good friend or even a great acquaintance whom I really like, sharing a picture of some exotic place I’ll not soon afford being able to go to. If I were the kind of guy who let jealousy run my whole being I would find ways to troll and put down wherever it was they took that picture. Oh, Bali? Gosh, have you read about their crime rates recently? The worst of me would inevitably try and peak its head out–masquerading as me. 

If I take a picture while I’m out and about, it’s truly because I want to remember it later on for my own sake. It brings back memories of a time and place that are important to me–eventually. It’s of no concern to me at all that someone on Instagram is going to see it and like it and start following me. If I want to promote a book, I will do so here on this website unless I get rid of the website (that could really happen, by the way), or I might post it on, say, Instagram. And I know that Facebook owns Instagram. I didn’t get rid of my account with Instagram because I barely ever use it, and so didn’t think about it. Twitter is probably the next of my social platforms to go. I’m never on it, I rarely understand what’s happening when I peak at it, and I feel exhausted by the idea of needing to figure out what everyone is temporarily up in arms about now. It usually has something to do with a political leader, a war or skirmish or terrorist outbreak somewhere in the world. Or, even more disturbing to me, it has to do with some natural disaster. Is it just me, or are natural disasters becoming more frequent? Maybe it’s just our hyperconnectivity which makes it seem like there are more natural disasters than ever before. I don’t really know. 

Anyway, it doesn’t matter that I left facebook. It doesn’t matter if I write another book or another hundred books. Those that want to see and hear from me will find me here, there, or somewhere and those that want to read my books will find out about them with a simple search of my name.

That’s good enough for me.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Trilogy On Hiatus

Whew, it’s been a while. So much for my attempt at hand-writing posts. Oh well. And in that vein, I want to say that it is with a heavy heart that I am putting the Owen Hunter on a permanent (well, we’ll see how long) hiatus.

This isn’t one of those serials that’s doing anything. I have rewritten the 3rd installment over 4 different times, and each version just seems to lose the thread more and more. So, after all these years, we can lay Owen Hunter’s trials and travails to rest. I have to move on, much as it pains me to leave all that in the dust.

I left the 2nd of the 3 books on a real cliff-hanger, and well…it’ll just have to be like that. I’m sorry. I can’t tell you what happens, because each time I’ve tried to push the door open into that world again, I’m led down false corridors, boring scenes, and unsatisfactory character developments. I might be able to push on at some point before I die, and if I do I might even rewrite the entire book the way I thought it should be from the outset. But most likely not. I want to concentrate my efforts on other, better written, tales. Namely that of The Chronicles of Ionor which is in edit mode now. It’s also just one book. Think about the Sherlock Holmes ‘series’ which is not linear in nature, add high fantasy to modern everyday life, and you’ll start to get an inkling of it.

I’m excited about this upcoming book. I’m finally learning how to write (better, anyway) and there’s no use in keeping out a story that not only isn’t doing well in terms of reach and sales but that I can’t focus on well enough to end properly.

I knew you’d understand. And if you don’t, let me know about it. Tell me if you think I’m wrong to do this. Otherwise, I’ll take your silence as tacit agreement.

Posted in Uncategorized

How I Get My Ideas

I think the big question everyone has in mind for their favorite author is, “How did you ever get the idea for that story?”

I’m not saying I’m anyone’s favorite author. But I will tell you how I get my ideas for a story.

Usually the idea arises from a confluence of emotions and thoughts born out of context, memory, wishful thinking and a little imagination.

Imagine you’re driving to another state. Let’s pretend that you only have the radio to listen to (instead of your iPod, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes etc.) and when you cross the border your radio station of choice fizzles out. You tune the radio until you find something you can enjoy (or at least tolerate) but here’s the catch (there’s always a catch): it comes in short bursts of clarity followed by static and cross-interference from other station where you hear other voices too briefly and faintly to discern well.

That’s kind of how stories arise in my own mind. They come from witnessing my mind and the world around me. Both are broadcasting different things and sometimes they simply get jumbled up together. The fragments of static are usually the places I go looking most carefully.

This is pretty much how The Wizard & The Jewel came about. All I remember was reading the beginning of someone else’s book about a witch, a mystery cozy and it got me to thinking about Harry Potter and then I was thinking about Superman and next thing you know I was in a tizzy about our political system. Voila, the seeds for my next novel were planted.

Out of that jumbled mess is growing a fine tree of fantasy that I never in a million years would have guessed I would be writing. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

I’m willing to bet that other writers go through something like this in their own world when seeing the glimmer of their new novel in the rough so to speak.

One last thing. What I started out writing has changed a good bit from those initial pieces. But the core of them are still the foundational background.

Are you a writer? How do you get your ideas? Sound off in the comments below.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Fresh Unknown

Once upon a time I held a larger audience spellbound with the kind of work I used to do. At that time I was big into auras and healing. I worked with that large audience mostly one on one. I cultivated a small following and got by on my entrepreneurial spirit and mystique.

Fast forward 10 years and things have changed. I’m not the same guy I used to be in that regard anymore. In fact, I’ve retired from that line of work altogether. I still sell the book, and sometimes I even pick it up and learn something about myself by reading it. But I’ve moved on. I’m interested in different stuff. I’m much more pulled to telling fictional stories.

That’s where I’m keeping my focus. I used to believe in fixating myself ‘as such and such’. It was an identity thing.

Many of us will go through identity crises in our lifetime if we’re lucky enough to. You might believe you’re this or that, but honestly in this world you’re really whoever you want to be. And with that sense of freedom comes a great responsibility and duty to find out what works for you for now, for a time. Maybe you’ll be doing the kind of work you’ve always dreamed of and it will be great until the day you die. But for many of you out there, it won’t work out like that. We’ll end up doing the stuff that has to get done whether we like it or not, and if we’re really lucky, we’ll pursue our dreams in our spare time. We’ll refer to our dreams as hobbies, craftsmanship, passion, or whatever else. That’s amazing.

The other day as I was barreling down the highway to meet with my sister it occurred to me that real artistic expression can take years. This led to another realization: art takes years in a society that values expediency and immediacy over quality much of the time. This isn’t to say that a quality product isn’t deeply appreciated by the masses, but it is to say we might not (collectively speaking) have the patience to wait on it. We’re on a never ending train of forward motion watching things pass by, getting fed up with the new thing and waiting for the new-new thing to come along instead.

Instead of speaking to the inner workings of this malcontent attitude of modernity I can instead say that old phrase in all earnestness: good things come to those who wait.

I’m still working on a couple of books. They’ve taken me a couple of years. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to rewrite from scratch the 3rd and final installment of the Owen Hunter Trilogy, even though I’ve written it twice already now.

The Wizard & The Jewel : The Chronicles of Ionor is currently in edit mode, and I may need to an a chapter and definitely get some kinks worked out before its released. It could be middle of next year before it makes an appearance in virtual bookstores.

For the first time in my life my audience has dwindled down to a bare nub. I’m fine with that. Hey, I’ll even encourage you to sign up for my newsletter. It’s over there on the sidebar near the top (a link to it is) and I’ll be so happy to know someone wants to read my works if you subscribe soon. I actually won’t send anything out until I have a new book release. So there’s that to comfort your inbox woes.

My life as a writer is ‘the fresh unknown’. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. And you don’t know much about me as a writer. Take a look here, here, and here for places where my books are sold. You might find something you’ll like to read.

Posted in Uncategorized

About a short story I just wrote

Yesterday after work I took a nap. When I woke up and sat on the couch for a bit I surfed YouTube and found a brief Interview with Stephen King about short stories. I’ve written short stories before, I have a steadily building collection of them, in fact, but something the man said struck me.

“Writing short stories is how I started out. Sometimes I’d write what I thought would be a short story to discover it actually turned into a novel. Misery started out as a short story.”

He also went on to say that the ideal length of a short story was around two thousand words, or maybe just a tiny bit over. But any longer than that and it wasn’t a short story anymore and it wasn’t a novel. That is when you introduce the novella.

Well, for some reason I was inspired. I don’t, as a rule, take naps all that often. I have too much I want to do in life like many of us do that precludes napping.

I wrote a short story that just burst out of me. For now I’m calling it “The Bone Tired Hero” but I’m sure the title will change when I’m done editing it. When I’m done it will go into a collection of short stories and maybe, one day, it will get published somewhere. Or, I might–if prompted by you nice folks out there–publish it here for all to download for free as a PDF or something. It’s short, a touch over two thousand words.

It’s a suspenseful short story and it really grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. I like the twist near the end, in fact there are a couple of twists. It looks one way as you’re reading it, and then it’s revealed that something else is going on.

Also it speaks to our times in the #metoo movement (of which I support fully) and which is fresh in all our minds.

I can’t find the meme now, but I read something to the effect of: “Studies show that relationships last longer when the man isn’t a total douche-bag.”

I’m still laughing at that one.