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.

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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.
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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.