Decorating the mind…

A dear friend of mine shared a tweet that got me thinking. I’m sharing the tweet as I’ve tracked down the original author and followed him and his friend he mentions. It’s, to me at least, a very powerful way to look at two of the arts.

For myself, as I have trouble drawing stick figures, and my musical talents were left behind in high school band, I thought, how does this apply to me?

The answer became clear quickly. Writing is how we decorate the mind. Writers take a complex idea, and distill it down into words that, when ingested, fill a room within your mind, even if only for a little while.

Some of these keep these rooms throughout our life and they form a part of who we are. Perhaps they help us deal with a difficult or painful situation. Maybe they form a basis for how we react to something in our lives, or how we perceive justice or what we consider our moral right.

Writers entertain us, inform us, and, if we let them, teach us something. These lessons may be about our world, or just their world. But either way, they can leave this room within us, decorated with their words. With the emotions and images they co hire within us. These rooms are just as powerful as a master’s painting, or a composer’s magnum opus.

So if you’re a writer like me, don’t give up on your creations. Someone out there is waiting for you to decorate a room in their mind, whether they know it now or not.

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.

June is here…

Time flies when the world is in crisis and you have three kids to keep track of.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is still in full swing though states are starting to open up a bit. We shall see if this is too soon or not in the coming weeks and months. I’m not a fan of groups of people anyway so that part of the social distancing hasn’t bothered me much. It has been annoying that I couldn’t take the kids to parks or anything when the weather warmed up. Trapped at home has not been kind to my littles. And my oldest, well, he’s had an ok go of this home school thing when they shut schools down in March. Beyond that, we’ve eaten more takeout from local places to help them stay afloat and tried to find creative things to do at home. Which has translated into yard work mainly. We’ve planted some flowers and set up a little fairy garden area that Emma loves. We’ve also take a plot at our village’s community garden. We’ll see how it goes. Not much to show right now except a plot of dirt.

The second bit of unpleasantness to get out of the way is the situation that began in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. His murder has ignited protests all over the country and even foreign police are condemning the actions of the officers in Minneapolis. I am appalled and angry that this shit keeps happening in America.

This is a horrible tragedy that has sparked riots and looting as things continue to escalate in cities other than Minneapolis. Even as close to me as Green Bay saw violence at a protest over the weekend. There are reports of rocks being thrown at police.

I’m not going to rehash all the events. I simply want to state that I support the calls against racism, transphobia and all the other despicable-isms. I’m about all lives. Because this issue is about Blacks, I’m in. If it’s Native Americans protesting a shitty pipeline on their land, I’m in. If it’s Pride rallies, I support you too. I can’t do live protests, my anxiety around large groups of people wouldn’t let me contemplate it. So I try to be supportive in other ways. Donations, signing petitions, voting appropriately and encouraging others to as well. So for those out there fighting this fight that needs to happen, I see you. This cishet white guy is sick of the racist bullshit as well.


Now onto more pleasant events for those who’ve stuck it out this long. My oldest is driving. He was able to get his learners permit when the DMV reopened to limited services.

My oldest driving me around town.

It’s going quite well. I feared this day, teen drivers being potentially what they can be, but he’s doing what he should and is attentive on the road. I’m proud of him. Now if the usual teenage surliness would go away, everything would be great. It’s to be expected though. He’s 15 and trying to figure out himself and his place in the world. I try telling myself I wasn’t much better. Hell, I moved out of my parents house a couple months after I turned 17. I hope this pandemic is cleared up in time for football season. I don’t know if either of us could handle him not getting to play football this year. He needs the activity. Playing basketball in the yard by himself isn’t cutting it for his energy level.

Emma let me try braiding her hair a few times recently. Wasn’t terrible at least.

Those who have read about my daughter know that she’s passionate about a great many things. She has her YouTube channel and a Facebook page to document the many things she gets into. This past weekend we were able to begin again the adventure of raising monarch butterflies. We found our first eggs. She was beyond excited when we found the first one. We ended up with ten from our excursion into a marshy area. All ten hatched within a few days and we’ve added a dozen more as well as some that we found already hatched into tiny caterpillars. Now we wait and see if this next batch all hatched, as well as continue to hunt for more. Keeping these beautiful creatures from all becoming bird food is a noble cause right?

Jackson Ferrell, the youngest.

How to begin to describe my youngest child. Perhaps this image will help you. Picture a Tornado wearing a Hurricane Jacket, plunked down into a Volcano, while riding a Tsunami during an Earthquake. That should give you a pretty clear picture of the Incarnation of Chaos this little one has become. He chatters away at you, mostly making sense, and understands more than he pretends to. Close to bed time the other night, my wife asked him, “What do you want for snack?” He looks right at me and plain as day said, “Ice Cream Cone Daddy.” Then went back to snuggling his mother while I made him a little cone with orange sherbet. He tests my patience almost as strongly as his older brother. He really riles his sister up. He will pick something up, a toy or doll or whatever. If she decides she wants it. She goes up to him and as she’s asking him for it or offering something different in trade; she snatched the item and leaves. Then you hear, “EMMA!” at the top of his little lungs. Sometimes I think he takes her favorite doll on purpose just to make her angry.

He’s also quite entertaining when it comes to big brother, “Teta.” (Emma started calling Mason, Teta, pronounced TeeTah, and it’s kinda stuck.) So Jackson has a poop diaper, we can all smell it. Mom asks, “Jackson, did you poop your pants?” “No.” He replies with this smirk on his face. Mom asks, “Who put the poop in your pants then?” “Teta.” He yells with a giggle and a look at his older brother. Teta was a good sport. He just said, “Jackson you weren’t supposed to tell anyone.” Which set everyone to laughing, even Emma.

All three of my kids challenge me to be a better person. To set a better example than what they may see around them in these times of crisis. I just hope I’m doing a good enough job.


My writing has been up and down the last few months. I’m still hitting my word count goals but I’m no where near ready to publish anything because I keep bouncing from project to project, unable to focus on much except knocking out Tales Of Ezrahn short stories. I think I almost have enough for a collection so maybe if I can knock that out I’ll be able to get back to Mike’s journey. Book three needs some rewrites then off to my editor. I hope he’s ready to deal with Colleen coming back into his life and a betrayal from The Council.

Until next time, my Gentle Readers. Keep on keeping on.

YouTube, Basketball, and Short Stories-February on a roll

Hello all. February has been a crazy month so far and it’s not over yet.

Emma (my 3yr old) has a YouTube channel now for all the adventures she gets up to. we also started a Facebook page and Instagram account. She’s really enjoying all her activities. Her mom and I are loving sharing our unique girl with the world. You can find her on YouTube at http://bit.ly/EmmasWorld

She’s already surpassed 100 likes on her Facebook page which is amazing. One of the best stories out of this so far has been tweeting with Ted Allen from Food Network’s Chopped. When she was just a few months old, Emma would stop and stare at the screen any time Ted talked. Now that she’s cooking on YouTube, I tweeted him telling him. He responded the next day, not once, but twice.

My oldest is rocking the basketball court and getting lots of playing time on Varsity as a freshman. Here he is taking the tip-off on the Junior Varsity game tonight. He then went down and scored the first two points of the game between either team.

#44- That’s mine…

Lastly for this update has to do with short stories. I’ve been working on a few the last few months and one of my favorite lines is from one dealing with the God of War )or lack there of) in my fantasy realm, Ezrahn.

Kreios was a General before he killed a demigod in self defense and became a Master of War. Now, as he learns why there is no centralized overseer of conflict, he discovers that it is his destiny to become the new God of War. With the help of the magical Emerson’s and armor that make up the powers of War, he sees that having the many demigod Masters, keeps the world in conflict far more than if there was the single God. After he strips the Armament and status of one of his fellow Masters of War, he says, “I am War, so that there can be Peace.” He then sends the now mortal Master Into the battle he was formally orchestrating. I can’t wait to share these stories once they are all done and bundled together. They’ve been a lot of fun to write.

Take care, keep writing, and I’ll be back soon my Gentle Readers.

February already?!?!?!

How does this happen? We are already a month into the new year. I feel like I just woke up from the sensory/family overload of the holidays. Oh wait, that’s cause I spent this last weekend at an indoor water park, sharing a villa with my wife’s entire family (Parents, brothers and sister, plus their spouses and kids). All told we had 19 people in this spacious 5 bedroom, three story house. It worked, on a lot of levels, but it was also… well, crowded isn’t the right word. I’m going to miss everyone and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but I am glad to be home.

I finished a beta read of a thriller novel this past week and managed to get my word count in on my own projects. This week I need to focus on getting Spring Into SciFi 2020 ready for betas. This means I have to cut two more submissions to hit the magic number of 13. I’ve whittled it down to 15, three of which are already confirmed accepted for publication. This is the worst part of my job doing this, because I don’t like sending rejection letters. Sometimes you get an easy one, the person sent in something way outside the submissions guidelines (way too short, way too long, or the one guy who sent me erotica when I specifically point it out as not what is wanted for these collections). Most of the time, however, there are great stories and I just don’t have the room/funding to publish them all. So 13 is our magic number and we’re cutting down to that this week. Updates will come via the company’s website (http://www.cloakedpress.com) , and social media platforms.

I’ve been looking into ways to improve my editing skills, not only for myself but to utilize this within the business and for friends/critiquing. I think I’m going to look into some EFA courses, and possibly this online coursework through San Diego Extension. Will just have to figure out the funding for either/both of those avenues. I could probably file for a student loan for the San Diego stuff, but I don’t know how the wife will take that. We’re trying to cut debt, not create more.

Anyway… I’ll leave you with a snippet from one of my short stories I’ve written recently. “The Blacksmith” originally was supposed to be about a group called the Highwaymen, that protect merchant caravans, or retrieve stolen goods, for a price, within the Realm of Ezrahn. As I wrote it, it became more about a young man who wanted to be an adventurer, but found all the adventure he could handle right in his own hometown.

***

“The Highwaymen? Are you out of your mind, boy?” the older man said. “Take it from Old Sawyer, you don’t want to get mixed up with they’re mercenaries. That’s no life for a young man. Selling your soul for a bit of coin. No. You’d be best to go marry that blacksmith’s daughter who fancies you. Learn her father’s trade and make babies. That’s my advice.” Old Sawyer drank deeply from his tankard. “Fetch me another round, if you please.” He tossed the young man a gold coin.

Gareth stared at the coin a moment. It wasn’t often gold showed up in his little town. Silver, sure, especially when the merchants passed through. The shiny metal mesmerized him.

“Boy,” came Old Sawyer’s voice, breaking the coin’s spell. “Get me a bowl of that stew I smell as well. A half loaf of good warm bread should go nicely. Do that, and you can keep the change.”

Welcome to the Roaring 20s…

Hello all. It’s been a year and a half since I last posted so this one is going to be a bit long. Lots of big changes so I’m going o have updates in my Fatherhood, Writing, and Business aspects of my life. So break out the jazz music and brush up on your Charleston.

Fatherhood Updates

2018 ended with a bang as we welcomed a third child into our family. Jackson Warren Ferrell was born November 24th after a long labor. He wasn’t ready to leave mommy and he’s still a snuggler a year later.

Here he is a week ago beating me at his version of checkers.

His sister joined her older brother and her parents in wearing glasses this past November, just weeks before Jackson’s first birthday.

We built a snowman this week because Wisconsin got some great packing snow. Our Olaf didn’t last long as it warmed up enough the next day his head separated and had to be rebuilt.

My oldest child is a freshman in high school now. The only freshman (and only one other sophomore) that got consistent playing time on varsity football. He got his letter and pin for his jacket. He’s slowly earning more time with varsity on the basketball court as well.

Here he is during football season with his sister.

Three kids has been a huge adjustment for our family in terms of time management and trip planning. Thankfully my beautiful wife is a wizard at that aspect and manages to get us everywhere we need to be.

The challenge I’ve faced lately is trying to remember that Emma isn’t older than she is. There are times she says and does things that would lead one to believe she’s a lot older (maybe even a teenager in some ways). The next minute she’s melting down over something so minor (to us parents at least) and it hits you that she’s not quite four. She’s still figuring out how to handle her own emotions and feelings and navigate the world. It’s a work in progress for all of us at this stage.

Writing Updates

2019 was a good year. I joined a 365 Challenge on Facebook that really helped keep me accountable. I developed a much better writing routine through the groups founding principles of just 10 minutes a day. I drafted several pieces I’m still working on. I also finished and published my second novel, “Through Darkness to Light”. In addition I had a new cover done for book one to make them flow better.

You can click the images to be taken to the Amazon product page.

2020 is going to be bigger yet. I’m finally working on my high fantasy realm Ezrahn via short stories to build the world lore and flesh it out more. I’ll definitely be sharing snippets via my Facebook page and Twitter accounts so be sure you’re following me there.

Business Updates

Cloaked Press enters its third year in 2020. We’re launching Spring Into SciFi 2020 in February/March which will be our 6th short story collection. We also published our first stand alone novel, “To Visit Earth” by British author, Ian Hugh McAllister.

We redesigned our website recently to hopefully provide a better user experience. We also now offer editing services for authors on a budget. I feel our prices are very competitive for what we offer.

Our Kickstarter to expand into more single author novels, novellas and collections isn’t fairing so well and in its final hours is still a long way from being funded. We’ll still get there, just will take us longer to take in these projects.

I think that’s all for now. I hope you’re still with me and I look forward to sharing more of my journey as a Father, Author, Blogger, Publisher.

Book Review – Re: Camelot Part One: The Descendant of the King by E.C. Fisher

recamelotECFisher

Re: Camelot Part One: The Descendant of the King
E.C. Fisher
5 Stars

King Arthur is one of my favorite literary legends. I’ve read lots of variations and this one delivers on so many levels. Potentially spoilerish comments follow.

Young Arthur is an orphan and outcast at the private school his guardian sent him to. That all changes when he walks through a door and finds himself on the planet of Avalon. He quickly learns that not only is Avalon the birthplace of the real life King Arthur and Merlin stories he grew up on, but that he himself is a descendant of King Arthur.

Darkness of old has returned to threaten the kingdoms of Avalon and Arthur is the only one who can wield Excalibur to defeat it. Now he must race to reunite Excalibur with the sacred weapons used by the original Knights of the Round Table.

The only negative I have about this story is I need the next installment. Like, really must have it.

Grab your copy on Amazon now.

You can check out my interview with E.C. Fisher here.

Fatherhood: May 9th, 2018

Here’s a few of the things I have learned about my daughter in the few weeks since she turned two.

1: If you stub your toe and exclaim “Shit”, your two year old will constantly repeat said word at inappropriate moments, making you feel like the worst parent ever.

2: You can spend longer than ten minutes “dumping” imaginary buckets of water in the sink or bathtub.

3: Farting is just as funny to a two year old girl as it is to males of all ages.

4: Falling asleep requires clutching one of Daddy’s earlobes in between your fingers. When the Kung fu grip starts to relax, it’s time to place toddler in her bed and RUN!

5: Lastly, (for now) if you have a sore back and move stiffly in the presence of your toddler, they will parade in front of you exaggerating your motion.

Bonus: Even bald Daddies can have their hair styled by a two year old.

Book Review – Hatching the Phoenix Egg by Joel Horn

Hatching The Phoenix Egg

(Mare Tranquillitatis Series Book 2)

Joel Horn

5 Stars

Joel Horn takes his precocious band of misfit geniuses from ”Lost Coast Rocket” (see my review here) to the next level in this exciting sequel. I always try to stay spoiler free in my reviews but…

A trip to Jupiter, epic science, world ending comet, and a trip home nearly missed while his own government decides to take him out of the sky. Top this off with a deeply held secret finally revealed to his true love (aside from the science of course)…

Life’s never been so precious, or complicated, for Ken O’Brien.

If you enjoyed “Lost Coast Rocket”, you should pick up this sequel right away.

Find it on Amazon.

Meet The Author Monday – K.C. Dreisbach

Welcome to another edition of Meet The Author Monday. This week we are going to talk a little bit with K.C. Dreisbach, author of Trials of The Working Parent. This Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist tackles the tough topic of balancing parenthood with a career. Per usual, my comments/questions will be in BLUE and K.C. will be in GREEN.

BookCoverImage

Thanks for stopping by K.C. The issues you tackle in your book are near and dear to my heart, being a working parent myself. Before we get into that, let’s talk about some of your earliest experiences with reading.
Although reading is one of my absolute favorite hobbies now, it wasn’t always. As a child, I struggled to read. I’m not sure if it was because I was learning to speak two different languages at once, or if it was due to an undiagnosed learning disability, but my kindergarten teacher at that time didn’t make things any easier. It’s a long story, but I experienced significant amounts of emotional and psychological abuse from that teacher…. And I never said anything about it. I grew to hate school, lying desperately to avoid having to go. Eventually, my parents switched me to a new school, and there, my 1st Grade teacher was able to detect that I had been abused.

Sounds like someone who shouldn’t be teaching. But I am glad that things got better for you. With the abuse uncovered, where did things go from there?
Reading was an uphill battle, and even though my reading skills improved, my hate for it didn’t change. It didn’t matter what my parents did, I hated reading and writing with a deep, loathing passion. Things didn’t change until my father gave me a gift that would be a game-changer for me. That gift was a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I didn’t even look at it until a year later when the series became hugely popular. All my friends were reading it, so I decided to give it a try. I was hooked! And after that, I became an avid reader.

Rowling definitely knows how to put together a story. She is one of my favorite current authors. Have you stuck with fantasy or do you have other favorites now?
Definitely fantasy, especially epic fantasy. But I’m open to pretty much all fiction. I struggle a little more with non-fiction, but I’ve read some stuff I enjoy in that category too.

With the earlier struggles you faced with reading and writing, what made you decide to cross the line from reader to writer?
Truthfully, I wrote my first short story when I was in 3rd Grade as part of a class assignment. My teacher was so impressed by it, she passed it on to my principal to read. This was the first time, but it wasn’t the last. In each grade, there was always an assignment that revolved around writing a story. I think the next one that I received attention for my writing was in 7th Grade, where I had to write an alternate ending to a short story.

Eventually, I started writing regularly in my spare time, and I completed my first novel when I was about 20 years old, after working on it for 5 years. I never attempted publishing it, but it was truly a wonderful feeling to complete it, and it inspired me to work on my next project.

So, to answer your question, I don’t think there was a “moment” really. I think it was more of a gradual transition, slowly evolving from non-reader to writer.

An incredible journey given your literary beginnings. I’m glad you saw your way through the initial difficulties. What is your preferred genre when you put fingers to keys, or pen to paper?
I definitely dabble in many. My current published work is a non-fiction book on parenting while maintaining a career. I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, so I’m currently writing about parenting and family relationships. But, I also write fiction, though I haven’t attempted to publish any of it. I hope to break into publishing my works of fiction within the next few years, however.

I hope you will as well. There is always room for a fresh voice, especially in fantasy, at least in my humble opinion. Tell us about your journey from writer to “published writer”.
I think the biggest journey for me has been the writing. Trying to find an opportunity to write with two young kids and a full-time job has proven to be quite challenging. I’ve written a few fiction novels, but none that I have felt ready to share with the larger world yet. The first book I truly felt ready to publish was “Trials of the Working Parent.” It was scary though because it was a very personal book in many ways. I pulled back the curtain on so many topics surrounding parenting, and I disclosed so much about my own journey as a parent, that publishing “Trials…” left me feeling a little naked. So, you can imagine my relief when it was pretty well received by readers.

It looks like a book I need to pick up myself. I’m guessing based on your topic for your book that you have more experience than just as a therapist. How do you spend your non-writing time?
I’m a pretty busy person. By day, I am a Clinical Supervisor for a group home for boys. I also provide training opportunities in my community to universities and local school districts on different topics in mental health. Most importantly, I’m a mom of two kids, my five-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son. They keep me pretty busy when I’m not working.

You truly are ‘working parent’ just like you wrote about. Do you have anything else you would like to share before we direct readers to your website?
When “Trials…” was first released, I was asked by a blogger why I wrote “Trials…” in the first place. It didn’t take me long to respond. I wrote “Trials of the Working Parent,” so that other moms and dads could see they were not in this struggle alone. Being a working parent is very difficult, the amount of guilt you feel all the time is very real and overbearing. “Trials…” was meant to help parents realize that it’s “ok” to not be perfect, it’s “ok” to have a job you love, and it’s “ok” to feel overwhelmed by parenthood.

Thank you for sharing your story with us K.C. and I hope you will come visit us again when you have those fantasy works ready for other eyes. I’d love to share them with my readers.

If you would like to keep tabs on K.C. you can find her at the following links. Give her a follow and encourage her to share her fiction works with us as well.

Website(NonFacebook if applicable): http://www.kcdreisbach.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/kcdreisbach

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kcdreisbach

 

If you are thinking you would like to be featured on Meet the Author Monday, please check out the page and fill out the form to get started.