38 years old…

June 16th, 2020, I turn 38. In two years I’ll be 40 and on the downhill slide as people look at it. If you’d asked me 20 years ago where I’d be, I never would have thought: married, three kids (one of which a teenager), and working in a factory. I’d hoped to be writing, which I am, but it would be nice to be sitting on a nice big publishing deal or something.

I got to my day job this morning and was talking to this new kid from third shift. I say kid because, turns out he’s 19. I’m officially twice the age of a coworker. The next milestone would be when there are coworkers younger than my kids.

So I made a comment about the music I was playing on the stereo and he mentioned he writes songs, music and lyrics, the whole nine yards. I asked him if he’s done anything with it and he got shy and said no. I instantly saw a flashback to when I started writing and never let anyone read or see any of it. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 32.

I told him this, and I said to him. Go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste years wishing you had tried it. Even if you lay down the tracks and post it to iTunes yourself. I told him about my cousins son who did this and actually made some money doing it.

I hope he took my advice and he goes home, dusts off those sheets of paper and gives it a try. I’m sure I’ll see him around. So I’ll try to keep encouraging him.

It’s a small thing but it made me feel good to talk to him and maybe help him a little. Something put him in my path today. Whether you believe in Fate or Karma or any of that stuff. I do, and I feel good about the conversation. My spirit and my drive to pursue my dreams is bolstered. I hope his is too.

See ya around Gentle Readers. Hopefully I have some news about Family Heritage Book 3 soon.

Exciting times with Cloaked Press

Hello Gentle Readers.

I have been trying to keep my personal writing career separate from my publishing company, but I have to share this with all of you. Cloaked Press has launched its first short story collection, Fall Into Fantasy 2017.

fallintofantasy

This collection features 13 authors from all over the world, giving us their take on Fantasy and all of its subgenres we could cram into the pages. Details on the authors can be found on the Cloaked Press website.

There is a story of a dwarf who can “hear” precious gems, a bookstore that can transport you to another world, magic, fairies, love, deals with demons, and a good old fashioned zombie story. I hope you will all take a moment to check it out, grab a copy if it interests you, and leave a review if you read it. If you know anyone who might be interested in our fantasy collection, please share the link.

Also, while we are excited at Cloaked Press about the release of our first collection, it is also time to start working on our next, Spring Into SciFi 2018. Submissions are open for this collection, and all details can be found here.

We have an email list with monthly giveaways and a special flash fiction story that comes straight to your mailbox. You can join our newsletter on the Cloaked Press homepage.

I hope that you will take a moment to check out Cloaked Press and what we have to offer. Keep reading everyone.

On This Day – March 3rd, 2016

Today, my Gentle Readers, is a day that changed the course of history for the disabled for it was on this day in 1887, Helen Keller was introduced to Anne Sullivan.
helenkeller
Thank you to the Helen Keller Foundation.

Helen Keller, under the tutelage of Anne Sullivan would transform from a “spoiled and willful child” into a champion for equality, not just along the lines of disability, but for races and genders. It is truly an inspiring story that deserves to be told. No matter what life hands you, you can still be extraordinary.

The United States government was very busy on this day throughout our history. Some of the highlights include: In 1873, Congress enacted a ban on sending obscene materials through the postal service. So much for your subscription to Playboy or Hustler. Ha. In 1845 they would vote to override John Tyler’s 10th use of the Presidential Veto, the first time Congress would exercise their right with a two-thirds majority. The Missouri Compromise (1820) and the Civil War Conscription Act (1863) were also passed on this day. 1931 saw Herbert Hoover enact the “Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.
Star-spangled-banner-poster-george-delany.jpg
Thanks fifthharmony.wikia.com

The Literary World saw the birth of Pullitzer Prize winning poet and author, James Merrill, son of the founder of Merrill-Lynch. An admitted sufferer of writer’s block, James Merrill is quoted as writing,  “Freedom to be oneself is all very well. The greater freedom is not to be oneself.” He would found the Ingram Miller Foundation, sponsoring the arts through his philanthropy. He also would serve as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1979 until his death in 1995 from a heart attack.

I think that is all for today Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 2nd 2016

Here we go Gentle Readers, the revamped daily posts (if I can ever get caught back up that is). I am glad I changed this over, because March 2nd, 1904 is a day the whole world should celebrate. Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on this day. Thanks to Pinterest I have 5 life lessons I learned from Dr. Seuss that I hope I can pass on to my children.

drseuss

I remember learning to read with Dr. Seuss books. My grandfather would read to me over and over the same collection of storybooks. I have been told that I corrected him when he tried to skip parts because I had memorized the books at a very young age. Thus began my love of literature that I continue to journey with for more than 30 years now. Thank you Dr. Seuss, from the bottom of this bookworm’s heart. The world is a better place for the stories that you shared with us.

Also on this day Congress made one last attempt to keep Prohibition alive. The Jones Act ended up being a resounding failure, just like the 18th Amendment. I have to thank Prohibition for strengthening organized crime as I do enjoy a good Mafia or Mob story. Godfather is one of my favorite movies of all time. The books by Mario Puzo being very well written. Something about Marlon Brando saying, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, still brings chills down my spine.
godfather

We also gained more US Citizens on this day in 1917 when Puerto Rico residents were granted citizenship, and recruited for World War I. Not sure how that trade worked out for them then, but I hear it is nice in San Juan almost year round.

Just 16 years later, in 1933, this day also became the New York premiere of an iconic movie in American film history.
kingkong

As for the Spell a Day calendar, today is about clearing out electronic clutter. So get rid of those old love letter emails and text messages before your new guy/girl discovers them. There is no benefit to keeping them, unless you are using them for some sort of writing project, then you need to clearly label them as “Research” and move them to a different folder. Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.

Spell a Day – Feb 8th 2016

Today Gentle Readers, is the official Chinese New Year. 2016 is the year of the Red Fire Monkey.  This is a time of increased energy and “fire” to fuel your endeavors. According to Chinese astrology this is a good year for pursuing your dreams and taking bold steps to reach your goals, success is out there and yours for the taking this year.

I think about the events upcoming in my life this year and hope I can tap into this energy on a regular basis. I have a new baby coming in a little over two months (if it stays where it is supposed to for full term birth). A child born in the year of a Red Fire Monkey is going to be something of a challenge, if this astrology is to be believed. Once my little boy or girl is born I guess the real journey will begin.

Being born in the year of the Dog, I am destined to be a great mentor and companion to Monkey. Oddly, my son was born in 2004, which makes him a Monkey too. I hope this means that my new child and I will be able to share a close bond as well.

As the time for me to become a father for the second time approaches, I find myself turning to the lessons I learned from my absentee father. Mainly what NOT to do. I will never let my children feel abandoned by me. I will never try to force them into instruments to inflate my own ego. That is not what children are for. They are blessings to bring joy into your life.

So, go forth into this new time fueled by the energy of the Fire Monkey. Until next time Gentle Readers.

2016 is here…

Hello Gentle Readers. I thought in the midst of everyone’s New Year Resolution posts I would just add my own commentary.

2015 was a rollercoaster mixed with a hurricane. It came and left in a hurry. My literary and blogging goals stalled out for much of the year. I did manage to put a novella into the hands of a new friend for editing. She also took a look at my first novel and found some much needed grammatical and word usage problems that have made my work better. I failed to participate in NaNoWriMo, but that’s alright. The pressure would probably make me give up anyway.

On the fatherhood front I assisted my son’s baseball team and coached football. Coaching sports when I am clearly not a sports person was an experience in learning. The kids all seemed to have fun and we made it through the season without too many problems. My family will also be welcoming a new addition sometime in late April (if all goes according to plan). The prep work on the nursery has been tiring, but in a good way. My wife and I have decided to not find out the gender until the birth. This appears to be a growing trend according to our doctor. This new chapter in my journey as a parent is overwhelming at times. As of December 31st, we had “crossed the finish line” as our doctor says. Now if there is any premature labor, the baby is viable to survive. That means my family is definitely going to have an 11year old, and a newborn. The greatest part of these doctor visits has been hearing the heartbeat of a little person I helped create. We are also far enough along that I can feel the baby move and kick.

I have become obsessed with the Mackelmore and Lewis song, Growing Up (Sloane’s Song). I usually start my drive to work with it on and it is the last song I play before I pull into the drive at night. It has been my motivation to become a better person for the sake of both of my children. This means working on my temper and getting myself in better shape. I know, everyone makes resolutions to be healthier in the new year. However, I have managed to lose just over 30 pounds in the last 6 months. My goal is another 20-30 the first 6 months of this year. This will put me lighter than I have been since junior high. I have been quite pleased with my self control because I was warned that husbands typically put on some “sympathy weight” when their wives are pregnant. I have managed to stay constant the last two months.

I am also ecstatic over the new home office I am setting up in a spare bedroom in my home. I just have a carpet remnant to put down, and a corner shelving unit to buy or build (pending approval from my wife on design) and then I can really get to work on my literary endeavors. The space will be conducive to working on any project requiring some privacy and space to spread out notes/reference materials. There is even a section where my son (and future children) can work on homework or arts/crafts, without interfering with my work.

I suppose it is time for a few goals and resolutions for the year.
1 – I want to finish the rewrite/editing of my first book so that the improved second edition can be released.
2 – I want to self pub my novella (still in the editing phase).
3 – I want to finish, edit, and self pub my the second book in my Family Heritage series this year.
4 – I would like to make some major progress on my high fantasy (think Tolkien) series. I have the skeleton of a realm, deities, antagonists/protagonists. Just have to finish plotting and then get to work fleshing out the stories. I haven’t quite figured out if it will be a series of short stories/novellas, or if each set of characters will end up in their own full blown novel. Since they will also overlap I have to make sure my outlines are complete for consistency.
5 – I plan to get myself down in weight before summer. I have at least the 20-30 to lose that I want to, so from there I will evaluate what I still can lose healthily.
6 – I want to blog at least once a week, if not more often. I will be looking for topics to discuss. As part of this I want to do at least 2 book reviews a month. I need to get a submission page setup for anyone interested in having me review their work.
7 – It would be nice to put together a book of poetry as well. I have a notebook almost full and a thumb drive with a few dozen from when I was younger. Just not sure if I have enough that would be of interest to others. The ones I have blogged here have received favorable reviews so perhaps there is potential in others as well.
8 – I want to bring down and gain a better handle on my temper. I am not a homicidal maniac, but there are times where a cooler head would be a better face to present. I have noticed my son picking up some of my habits and I hope that if I can break my cycle, I can help him to not struggle like I have.

I wish everyone else luck with their goals for 2016. This year has an extra day in it (Leap year and all). I think I am going to need it. HA HA! Until next time Gentle Readers.

Under the weather…

My logical brain says that it is merely coincidence, but the more irrational me is blaming Mother Nature for my current condition. Stuffy nose, sinus pressure. coughing, headache on the horizon. She did this to me with her freak late March snow storm. Stupid snow. I delight in its fate as it melts and runs into the sewer drain. That will show that snow. Once it is gone maybe I will feel better. I know it is the cause of my torment.

Why Mother Nature? Why do you inflict this upon your humble son? What offense have I given to you? Speak to me the whole of my transgressions so that I may pay some other restitution than this agony you have inflicted upon me.

She is silent. Leaving me to face my ailments with no glimmer of hope. What a cruel mistress she becomes in times like these. Perhaps she cannot help it. Her moods as wild as the weather we see upon the land. Is she a prisoner of her own power? Mayhaps that is the crux of the problem.

Bound by the weapons she wields. Trapped within the tendrils of her strength like prison bars. The more she pushes, the firmer they become. Pressure building until it explodes like my nose when I sneeze. Mother Nature and I are both prisoners under the weather.

Don’t Doubt. Don’t Fear. Just Write.

So on Twitter yesterday I saw a call to give advice to a young/new writer in 6 words or less. Without a moment’s hesitation I knew the best advice I could give anyone, because it was something told to me once. “Don’t Doubt. Don’t Fear. Just Write.”

Don’t Doubt. Doubt is the enemy of action. The enemy of genius and most importantly, the enemy of creativity. Doubt pushes away the thoughts and clouds the processes necessary to do just about anything in life, be it writing, sports, or even interacting with other people in a social setting. I always doubted whether I was wasting my time writing or if I had any talent at all. I recently received very positive feedback on my work which crushed any doubt that I have a voice to share

Don’t Fear.  Fear can be crippling. Fear of rejection is something we have all had to face in our lives I am sure. I was so scared when I finally decided to share my writing with even my own family that I kept it to myself for years. After getting rejection letters from big publishing houses, I realized that the only thing holding me back was myself. I went ahead and self published my first novel and, other than having to market my work all by myself, I have been pleased. For me the goal was to hold a book in my own two hands with my name on it. I achieved that goal and achieving a life dream like that is a great antidote for fear.

Just Write.  Phrases, sentences, whole paragraphs. Whatever comes to you in the moment. Get it down on paper or in a document. I prefer a notebook for works of poetry but my story ideas generally end up being typed as I cannot write as fast as my mind works sometimes but I am a pretty fast typist. Whatever works for you, do it and don’t look back. Keep fighting the fight and I will see you on the literary side.

A year in review…. (One year of WordPress)

I received a notification this morning that I have been a member of WordPress for a year now. I look back and I think the last couple of months have been my best months of blogging. I got off to a rocky start. I really didn’t know what I wanted to share or if my words would mean anything to anyone else. I have met some really fantastic people on here and I am glad I made the plunge into the world of blogging.

Last July I published my first book. While I haven’t topped any best seller lists (yet!!), it is still incredible every time I look at the book and know that I wrote this. It is a piece of my mind and soul, not just a passing fancy. There is a character Bio of my main protagonist, as well as the first chapter posted on this blog.

My son turned 10 this past year and he is really becoming more and more his own personality. It was great watching him play football for the first time on an actual team. He loved it and I hope he will continue to play as it is a great outlet for his high energy level. I continue to learn more and more about being a father every day. We have started giving him an allowance to teach him responsibility with his money. He was overjoyed to be able to go online and order toys he couldn’t get in the store. To watch him count and recount the money to his mother so he could be sure he had enough for what he wanted was a sight to see.

I joined the Blogging 101 and Writing 201 courses offered on WordPress and it was a lot of fun. I found some great blogs to follow and made some more e-friends. I learned a few things about poetry and blogging in general that have been helpful as I continue this journey into the blogosphere.

Here is to another year of blogging. Cheers…

And a Liebster award goes to…

liebster-award

I am somewhat speechless to have been chosen for this so I will do my best to pass it on. Thanks to Shruti http://shrutiinsights.wordpress.com for this opportunity to share a little about myself and to pass on the blogger love. Please, if you want to read some soul stirring poetic work, you need to check out her blog. She is a joy to read.

There are set RULES for this Award and they are:

Put the Liebster Award logo on your blog.

Thank and tag the blog who nominated you.

Answer their questions and come up with 10 new ones for you nominees.

Nominate 8 blogs with less than 200 followers, let them know you’ve nominated them and link them in your post.

No tag-back.

So, thanks to Shruti once again and here are my answers to her questions:

  1. Among your blog posts, which one is your favorite? – This is a hard one for me as I do not post often and each post is intentional. I would have to say that the one that brings up the most emotion for me is my recent post on my grandmother’s birthday “Bittersweet Valentine’s Day” https://andrewmferrell.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/bittersweet-valentines-day/
  2. At what time of the day do you usually write a blog post? – I do a lot of posting in the mornings or the weekends when I have free time around my family/work schedule. As far as poetry, there are times where I jot down the lines or a few words and then I revisit it later so I can really expound upon the topic that flitted through my imagination.
  3. What is your favorite word in your native language? – Well, English is my native language but I would have to say that a word I use a lot is “groovy”. I was born in the early 80’s so I cannot claim to be some 70’s flower child but there it is.
  4. What do you eat in the morning? – I do not generally eat breakfast right away so depending on whether I am at work that day or at home I might not even eat breakfast till 10am or so. This means it could be some leftovers from dinner the night before, a sandwich, some grits with cheese, cereal, all sorts of things.
  5. Choose one: tea, coffee, milk, hot chocolate. Why do you choose it? – I grew up in the American Southeast where Sweet tea is a staple of our diet. It always makes me think of home.
  6. Do you have a close friend? Is there one thing that you can only do with that friend? – I have a few close friends, that even if we do not talk every day, or sometimes it may be a week or more. I know when I pick up the phone and confide in them, I will get solid advice and support. My closest friend would have to be my wife though. She is my rock and without her I wouldn’t be who I am today. She grounded me while still being supportive of my dreams of being a published author.
  7. What is your favorite book and why do you like it? – How do you pick just one amongst all the great writers I have had the pleasure of reading over the course of my life. If I have to pick one, I would have to go with Tolkein’s “The Hobbit”. It opened my eyes to the realm of high fantasy that has held my imagination my entire life.
  8. What do you really want to learn but you haven’t got the time to do it? – I would really like to learn the guitar I bought over a decade ago. I probably could make the time to learn it, but I just haven’t prioritized it yet.
  9. What do you miss from your childhood? – The friends. Some of us are still in contact somewhat, but since I moved several states away since high school, those relationships are not quite the same as they once were. Now we all seem to have kids, mortgages and other responsibilities. I miss just hanging out and talking about life, love and whatever struck our minds at the time.
  10. Where will you go if you just feel bored at home? – Hard to be bored when there is always something new to read, or a tv show I haven’t caught up on, or something to write. If my wife and son are home as well there is always something going on. We also have two dogs that are constant attention hogs.

I would like to nominate the following blogs whose posts have touched my life in some way, be it thought provoking, made me laugh, or just showed me something to appreciate in their words. I am going to cheat on this just once, because the first blog I thought about has much more than the 200 followers, but I greatly enjoy her posts and interacting with her. I guess shoot me if that isn’t allowed.:

  1. http://KelzbelzPhotography.wordpress.com
  2. http://johannamassey.com
  3. https://lafloralie.wordpress.com/
  4. http://roamingatlarge.wordpress.com
  5. http://anniewat.wordpress.com
  6. Http://gridthusto.wordpress.com
  7. http://amyvanya.wordpress.com
  8. http://breakdownchick.wordpress.com

I enjoyed Shruti’s questions but I am changing them up a bit for my nominees.

1.Among your blog posts, which one was the most painful to write?

2.When do you feel the most creative? Not just time of day, but is it when there are people around or when you are by yourself with just your inner voice?

3.What language would you want to learn if you could learn it in a day?

4.Where is your favorite place to write? (and do you write on paper first or strictly digital?)

5.What person, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional would you say inspires you to be a better person?

6.What was your family/friends reaction when you started your blog? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy?

7.What is your favorite book and why do you like it? If you cannot choose one favorite, then pick one that touched your life and tell why/how it did so.

8.What hobby, other than blogging, brings you happiness in life?

9.What do you miss from your childhood?

10.What do you want to be remembered for when you are gone from this life?

Hope you have a fantastic day and keep fighting the fight bloggers.

All the best,

Andrew