February 8th, 2018 Update – Fatherhood, upcoming projects, etc.

Hello my Gentle Readers. I just wanted to check in and let you all know how my 2018 is shaping up so far. We are more than a month in now and things are really hopping.

Cloaked Press, the publishing company I started last year, is turning 1 year old this month. We are launching our second short story collection, Spring Into SciFi 2018, on March 20th, 2018. (Obviously 2018, since it’s in the title. Haha). It’s very exciting. I’ll throw out the cover here, but if you’d like to get your hands on an ARC and get a chance to talk to some of the authors, then you can join the Launch Street Team.
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I am woefully behind on my own writing projects. My demon infused novella has stalled out. Editing books 2 and 3 of my Family Heritage Series is taxing to say the least. I hate editing/revising. I just want it to be perfect when I bleed that first draft onto the pages, you know? Hopefully once I get Spring Into SciFi put to press, I’ll have more energy to devote to my personal projects.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the guest posts and the recent Meet The Author Monday interviews. I’d love to have more authors to feature on my blog, so if you know any that should be shared with the world, please send them my way. They can get the details on the Meet The Author Mondays Page.

Lastly, I want to tell a story about my daughter (who will be 2 in April). For at least the last 6 months, I have been the primary person to put my daughter to bed at night. I warm up a bottle of milk, we snuggle under a blanket in the recliner in her room that I bought for my wife when she was nursing. We have a tradition of her talking to Quack Quack, which is me making a shadow duck on her ceiling using my cellphone flashlight. She and Quack Quack talk about her day and then he gives her a “shadow smooch” and she finishes her milk. Normally, I would end up falling asleep in the chair with her and wake up a few hours later (usually when we both have turned into the furnace we become when we sleep). Then I could put her in her crib and go to my bed. I know this was a cause for dissatisfaction for my wife, as I didn’t get to come back and spend time with her before she went to bed. Lately that has all changed and my feelings are bittersweet about it. Our routine is slightly changed: warm bottle, snuggled in recliner with blanket, conversation with Quack Quack. The difference is when she finishes her bottle, she hands it to me, and says, “Done.” Then she will usually roll over like she is going to snuggle in, and immediately starts to kick the blanket off, telling me she’s, “Done”. If I ask her, “Are you ready for your bed?” She will tell me, “Yes. Done.” or “Night Night”. If I don’t move fast enough to put her in her bed, she gets quite upset with me.

I miss the snuggles, but I am grateful for the hour or two that I get back in the evening as it has helped me to get things ready for Spring Into SciFi, and actually get a little bit of editing done. Here is a recent picture of my little princess. She has her pajamas on still, but she put her mother’s snow boots on so she could take a sled ride with her grammy. (For the record we waited until later and had real snow worthy clothes on when the sled ride happened.)
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On This Day – March 25th

Today, in 1955, the US Government launched the first volley in its latest attempts at censorship by seizing 520 copies of “Howl” based on obscenity charges.

The poet was Allen Ginsberg.
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I confess that I never had the pleasure of reading Howl. I must have been living under a rock to have also missed the 2010 movie. Hopefully I can find it on Netflix or something. As for the poem, I was able to find parts 1 and 2 on Poets.org

This is some powerful stuff from a generation that shouted against the conventional norms of the time. To speak so openly about drugs and sex brought the ire of the conservatives in power at the time. To think just 60 years ago. what Ginsberg wrote was considered so horribly obscene that it required a governmental assault to try and keep it away from the public.  Now we have things like Miley Cyrus and parents taking their 8 year olds to see R rated films. Have we become so desensitized to shock that we laugh at this instead of the horror expressed just 60 years ago.

I ask you my Gentle Readers, did we lose sight somewhere along the way of the creative art and simply keep escalating the shock value in our work? When did we stop pushing the envelope and start napalming it? I know it might sound hypocritical for me to applaud Ginsberg but condemn Cyrus. However, I am not sure that we can put them in the same category. What is the purpose of Cyrus acting as she did? Maybe it is hypocritical of me.  Maybe I should stop this trainwreck while I have some shred of credibility as an artist left.

Keep pushing the envelope my Gentle Readers, but have a purpose. Be opening the eyes of closeminded people, not just seeking attention for shock value. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 11th 2016

Today in 1818, a legendary icon of literature and horror was born. Mary Shelley, just 21 at the time, published her masterpiece, Frankenstein.
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To think, at 21 she created a work of fiction that will surely last well beyond its 200 year anniversary that is coming up in 2018. Countless printings and cinema editions have been produced from this single piece of literature. The number of appearances by her creation in television is testament to its enduring appeal to the masses.

I have always been familiar with the book, having read it multiple times in my youth. I never realized then that she was only 21 at the time of publication. It seems unreal. She had to have been a truly amazing young woman. I have trouble picturing myself at 21 being ready to put forth anything of its like.

I wonder what she would tell today’s youth about success and having dreams. When most youth here in the states are thinking about the day they can legally buy alcohol (I know not all but it was something we all thought about), she was publishing her first, and greatest novel. Not only was she young, but she was a woman in the 1800s. Women had fewer rights in those days. They were often viewed as little more than property to the patriarch of their family. Property to be sold off to the highest bidder, or for the most political gain. Then they would be treated as property by their new husband. Mary seemed lucky in that regard to have truly married for love.

Fortune did not come easily in her lifetime. Tragedy also struck as most of her children did not survive into adulthood. She lived most of her life on a small stipend from her father-in-law, until her one surviving son came into his inheritance and title.

What we should take from Mary’s story my Gentle Readers is to never give up. If a young woman in the 1800s could create such an enduring classic piece of literary history, then there is hope for us to eke out a space on the shelf nearby. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 10th 2016

The year was 1959. Nearly ten years of Chinese oppression had finally reached a boiling point in the city of Lhasa, Tibet. Residents, fearful that the Chinese government was going to kidnap their beloved Dalai Lama, gathered around his summer palace, preventing the leader from accepting an invitation to tea. The resulting loss of life is shameful. The crimes perpetrated by the Chinese government are horrendous.

I don’t say this to imply that the US is somehow perfect. I certainly do not feel that we are the moral police for the world. I abhor that our men and women are facing hatred and ridicule all over the world. I just do not agree with the hostile takeover of another people who did nothing to incite the carnage that was visited upon them.

Granted this all happened over 3 decades before I was born. The world is a different place now than it was then and will be still different in another 3 decades. Perhaps none of this will matter. Ending the hate and intolerance are of paramount importance to the survival of humankind.

I feel like I am doing a lot of preaching lately and that is not really the goal of this blog, or even this series. I simply feel passionate about the world needing to band together to eliminate threats to peace. We can believe in God, or Allah, or Mother Earth and still find common ground with which to work together towards a brighter future. What purpose does this divisive fighting do? I am certain that none of the ‘deities’ would want us to do to each other what we have done in their names.

I think we can all learn something from the Coexist campaign. Below is one of many variations on the theme. I found more here on a fellow blogger’s site.
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You can read more at Coexist.org

Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 9th 2016

Well Gentle Readers, I am a day late on this one but it was a big day because in the year 1959, we got our first look at:
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That’s right. Barbie herself arrived at the American Toy Fair in New York. Now, growing up a boy in the 80s and 90s, Barbies were for girls. As a grownup and an uncle with a couple of nieces, Barbies are for whoever asks you to play with them. My unborn child will have the option of playing with Barbies if they want regardless of gender (I am voting girl anyway but healthy is all that is important). All this gender role politically correct nonsense has poisoned this country. Sometimes you have to call

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and an asshole hypocrite, well, you get the picture right?

Anyway. I seem to have digressed from where I was heading with this post. I just want all parents, or future parents/uncles/aunts/ANYONE who influences the lives of children to realize that a doll is a doll. The values and prejudices you instill in the child is the solution/problem, not whether the doll is proportionately healthy, or has so many designer clothes and dreams houses.

Case in point, I grew up with GI Joes, He Man, and Ninja Turtles. I am not running around New York’s sewers eating pizza and wearing a bandana. Or am I? HA! I am also not some crazed one man army fighting COBRA, or whatever villain has cropped up to threaten the US of A. I believe in this country but I am not going to pick up a gun bigger than most of my body and go toe to toe with any super soldiers.
RocknRollJoeJust look at those guns. That can’t be realistic. And I KNEW THAT. I loved GI Joes and all the toys that came with them, but I knew they were unrealistic. The villains weren’t much better.
Especially that guy with the reflective face shield.
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What was really his deal anyway? I don’t think he could see out of that thing. Maybe that’s why he was so angry all the time. It had nothing to do with the Joes. It was the crappy attire he had to wear. Someone higher up should have thought better about their gear designs.

What I want you to take away from this somewhat off topic post is, Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Barbie, a doll that has caused much controversy, but also been highly successful commercially for decades. If your little boy pulls you down the Barbie aisle at Wal-Mart, don’t push him towards the latest incarnation of Macho Toys. Love him for who he is and the curiosity he has. And if your little girl thinks princesses are overrated, so be it. Show her the strong side of femininity. Teach your kids to value themselves and to value others. Teach Respect for elders, our military, and other people in general. Teach them peace, not bias and hate. Don’t be an asshole and raise more assholes. This world has enough of them. Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.

 

On This Day – March 4th 2016

Today is a day of Presidential news my Gentle Readers. First up are the inaugurations of two of our most well known Presidents.

Thanks to Whitehouse.gov for the images.

Both were inaugurated on this day with Lincoln in 1861 and FDR in 1933. Neither of them would have been possible without our government beginning to function under the Constitution on this date in 1789. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson would give his first Inaugural address. Future President Ronald Reagan also married his wife, Nancy, on this day in 1952. The two met when he was president of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG). Nancy Davis, an actress in her own right, was trying to clear up the confusion between herself and another Nancy Davis, who was on the McCarthy Communist Sympathizer list.

From Presidential Actors to a tragedy of Tinseltown. Hollywood lost one of the greats on this day in 1994, John Candy was found dead on in Durango Mexico where he was filming his latest production in a career that included a favorite of mine, Spaceballs. That was such an incredible movie, and I fear he never knew just how great he was as he has been quoted as saying, “I don’t watch my movies. I just get too critical of myself.” The large, funny man will forever live on for me as the one and only Mawg, half-man half-dog. I truly hope he was his own best friend.
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In 1952, Ernest Hemingway finished “The Old Man and the Sea”. He wrote a letter to his publisher saying he had finished the book, stating it was the best writing he had ever done. Critics agreed, granting it the Pullitzer Prize in 1953. If only I could drink as he did and produce the quality of work that he did.

Well, today was a day of triumph and a day of sadness Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

 

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.
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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.