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.

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.

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.

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.
spring into scifi EBOOK.jpg

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.)
emma1.jpg

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.
allenginsberg

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.
coexist1.jpg

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:
barbie

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

a spadespade1.pnga spade, spade2.jpeg

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.
cobracommander.jpeg
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.
Barf.jpg

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.