A Good Deed today…

Let me start by saying we are supposed to push into the 90s today. Sure, that isn’t as bad as where I grew up in South Carolina, but for Wisconsin, that is hot. Luckily today I am in an air-conditioned office being a logistical wizard. I did brave the heat to pick up some lunch for myself and a coworker.

I walk out of the place where we had ordered from and this slightly heavyset, obviously Native American man with a duffle bag calls out to me, “Marine?” Now, gentle readers, picture this: I am a 6’5, 350lbs computer geek. Granted I have decided to keep my head shaved because I am balding so bad it is pathetic (helps that my wife likes it shaved so I do it for her). In my opinion, I in no way look like a Marine, current or former. I calmly respond, “No sir, my grandfather was one in WW2.” Don’t ask why I volunteer such information to so odd a question asked between complete strangers. It was a reflex response. The other man has stopped across the car from me near the front corner of my passenger side as I open the driver’s door.

He tells me this story about how he is visiting his brother on the reservation (points west so he did know where we were in relation to the reservation) and says he is trying to get to the east side of town. I hate to assume anything of anyone on appearances alone, but my immediate assumption that he is probably homeless will be clear in a moment.

I shake my head slowly, replying, “Sadly I am heading north back to the office. I was just picking up lunch for one of the guys and myself.” I could see disappointment flash across the man’s face. He began pressing me if I could just “take him as far as I was going”.

I know the world is full of horror stories about hitchhiker’s. Hell, I might use this in a thriller or horror book if I ever write one. Something told me this guy was harmless. I pause and I could tell he was thinking I might relent. I respond, “Look, I can take you up to the Kwik Trip before I get back on the highway.” For those of you unfamiliar, Kwik Trip is a gas station chain. Probably one of the best I have ever seen for their hot bar of sandwiches and such. Their gas seems to run pretty well in my vehicles compared to BP or Shell.

The man was pretty excited about it. It was hot and I am sure even the mile I was moving him along would be a help to him. It also put him near a pretty busy intersection so maybe he could find someone else who is going across the river to the east side of town. He climbed in the passenger side and we began talking.

He tells me that he asked if I was a Marine because I looked like an old buddy of his from the service. He knew it couldn’t be his old friend because the fellow soldier died in combat in Afghanistan. I expressed my sympathies for his loss and my appreciation of his service. I did not end up joining the Air Force when I had graduated high school, but my little brother served two tours overseas. Veteran’s and service personnel are true heroes, even if they never see combat and just are the ‘paper pushers’. Someone has to make that big machine keep rolling.

Waiting on a stoplight to turn green, this is where I knew he was saying whatever he could to get someone to help him. He begins talking about his time as a member of Seal Team 4, and how horrible it was that the enemy took out Seal Team 6. In my head I am trying to reconcile him being a Marine in Afghanistan, and a member of Seal Team 4 (which is South/Central America according to the Navy website by the way). I didn’t call him on his discrepancies. It was bloody hot out and I didn’t really go out of my way. I had a small concern that he might try to grab the wheel or something of the car. I figured I could probably handle him if it came down to it. Even though the idea that this could end badly flashed through my mind, my gut reaction was that he was just down on his luck.

So away we went. A short mile or so later I dropped him off at the gas station with a full parking lot. We said good bye, he thanked me again for the short lift and off he went.

“Matt”, if that is your true name. I don’t know whether you were a true Vet or not but it did not matter to me. You were a fellow human being, obviously suffering, and I was glad I could be a little help. I wish I had been just out for the day, I might have dropped him off somewhere on the east side of town. Sadly my job requires my presence so I had to head back. Take care.

A Brief Car Ride

The hot sun blazes
The car is cool and shaded
“Can I get a lift?”

A man down on his luck
Approaches me in a parking lot
“Man it sure is really hot,
Can I get a ride in your truck?”

“I have been visiting my brother
But now it’s time to head home
I’m hoping to find another
Going my direction.”

“Sir, I wish I could be of help to you
But at the highway I turn north
It’s only a mile but if that’ll do
I can drop you at the station.”

“That would be great
I appreciate it man
You are a good soul.”

“Don’t mention it sir
Thank you for your service too.
Good Luck, Safe Travels”

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It’s been awhile… (6/7/15)

It has been some time since I wrote anything. The book reviews and author interview of the past week were scheduled several weeks earlier as part of a blog tour I participated in. I swear I have not been completely idle. I managed to catch up on several weeks of posts by the lovely people I follow, leaving comments/likes and reblogging a few that I found particularly useful to share.

I have managed to finish the first draft and first revision run through of my novella based on a freaky dream I had over a month ago. Now is the time to put it away and come back to it in a few weeks. Some elements nag at me a little but I need to wait and see if it is just jitters over sharing my work with anyone else. It took me YEARS to share my novel I published last year.

I have engaged in collecting pictures/quotes and links from writer groups I joined on Facebook. I wonder if my phone is going to fill up on pictures or books I have downloaded to it. I have collected at least 8 books for my To Be Read pile that I hope to get to over a campfire some evening this summer.

I have been highly active with my son’s 10U (aged 10 and under) baseball league team. I have been acting as assistant coach during practices and third base coach during games. It has been a wonderful experience. The kids have taught me a lot about myself and how to interact with my son. This Fatherhood gig never ceases to amaze me or teach me new lessons.

I have completed several Fiverr gigs, but thinking that freelancing editing is not going to make me money to supplement my writing or my day job. All it is doing is taking precious time away from my own creative pursuits with not enough return on investment. Elance, and its new name Upwork, have both proven to be a bust and a waste of time. It seems the people posting jobs have no idea the time investment to provide what they are asking for. Seriously, who accepts $50 to ghostwrite 30K words you are never able to claim any credit for? Especially when it needs to be published/polished and ready for publication to get paid. If I put that kind of time into it, I am going to publish it under my own name and collect all the royalties for myself. I don’t care if it is erotica/romance, which doesn’t normally appeal to me as something to write. I am more of a Science Fiction/Fantasy kind of guy. Even so, $50 or even some of the $80 ones are not worth submitting ove 30K published and polished words. More power to the ones that are willing to take those jobs.

To that end, I have the beginnings of 2 more manuscripts that I need to research, outline and start writing. Going to be a busy summer as hopefully I will have my second book back from the editors in the next few weeks. Then it will be time for a round of beta readers to polish it off and get some feedback before launching it. I still need to get a cover designed and write a blurb.

The last few weeks have also seen my wife’s baby brother graduate High School. To have watched him grow over the past 5 years has been a wonderful experience. He is hilarious and very talented. He leaves in about 3 weeks for an acting school in Los Angeles. One day he is going to star in major movies.

This past Thursday contained a new first for me. I saw my first professional baseball game live and in person. Remember, I am not a sports person so while baseball is America’s pastime, this should not come as a shock to any of my readers. My son earned a ticket for meeting his reading goals this year at school. The team is a Class A affiliate so it wasn’t true major league baseball. However, the smaller stadium and more family friendly atmosphere made for some entertaining hi-jinks in between innings. We had a lot of fun and got home much later than I would have preferred since I had to be at my day job early Friday morning. It was worth it to spend the time with my son.

This weekend began our summer of camping and last night I had my first beer around the campfire at the lake lot we spend our summers on. What a great way to reconnect with some of my extended family. Laughs were shared by all.

I suppose it is time to wrap up my day at the office. Thanks for sticking around through my absence folks. I will try to have something more for you to read in the near future. In the meantime, keep fighting the fight, whatever your personal battles may be.

Poem – American Heart (Unfollowed my first blog today)

I have had many many positive experiences discovering blogs since I joined WordPress a year ago. This morning I had to unfollow a blog for the first time. I consider myself very open to criticism, as I know that none of us are perfect. However, a nerve was touched when this person said that American poetry was dead. I did some looking around on their blog and from what I can tell this person has never lived in the United States. I have read many wonderful works of wordsmithery (I am sure that is not a word, but I heard it somewhere and think it is fitting) on other blogs and I think this person just has no clue. You cannot judge the heart and soul of a country’s literary works by the loudest voices. You have to listen for the small still voice that is closest to the heartbeat. I have read and met many wonderful people on here from America and other countries. I hope you will forgive me for this little bit of pride in my country. Anyway, I ended up writing something poetic about it. Enjoy my friends.

American Heart

I read somewhere someone said
That American poetry is dead
No leader or soul to speak of
How dare you judge as if above
The struggles and triumphs of our heart

You who sit in a foreign land
Feeling superior with your pen in hand
Speaking of things you can’t experience
Go on living in your gross ignorance
of the power in an American heart

Each culture has its own outcasts
The voices loudest that always lasts
Loud and proud these voices can be
But some don’t speak for us all you see
For there is beautiful diversity in our heart

So throw your stones from your glass house
And think us mild and meek as a mouse
But when you poke this sleeping bear
Be prepared to face us once we are aware
Of your insults to our American Heart

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

Finally Reviewed…

So, it has finally happened. I logged into Amazon to look at my book, something I have done from time to time since I self published this past July. To my surprise, this time there were two reviews.  I have copied the link below.

http://goo.gl/ll70IU

This is huge for me. I have had family and friends tell me they enjoyed my writing or encourage me to continue writing. These are complete strangers who picked up a copy of my book on a whim and liked it. Or, dare I say, they loved it? This is the kind of thing that I have dreamed about since I first started writing.

I do not know what other authors do, but I have been wary of the paid review and blog services. I wasn’t sure about getting honest feedback. Since I am paying a stranger to review my book, my skeptical mind says that they will tell me good things to make sure they retain my business. Now that I have a couple honest reviews like this, I feel a little better about reaching out to the marketing, blog tours, reviewers of the world.

Anyway, going to go be excited about my reviews now. Enjoy your weekend and happy reading, or writing if that is your thing.

New Year, New Who I am and Why I’m here

My name is Andrew Ferrell. I started this blog in order to push myself to share things about my life and my creative work that I barely share outside of my immediate family, and sometimes not even with them. I wanted to talk about being a father, a role I would have laughed at you about if you had asked me as a younger man if I even wanted kids. It is a role that I learn something new about daily and I would not trade it for the world. I wanted to share the ranting and raving that often occurs only in my own head.

On these counts, I think I have barely risen above failing. I have shared a few poems. I have pushed a few rants, commentaries on life, and even a chapter of my first novel. I haven’t really addressed any deep and meaningful issues from my life. I have really skirted around sharing much with any of the people who have been so kind to read my words. 2015 will be a better year. I promise.

I am the oldest of three boys raised in a southern home. Sweet tea, pecan pie, yes ma’am, no sir and all that comes with it. I have other siblings on my biological father’s side, but that would take another whole post to account that craziness, which isn’t really my focus here except how it relates to my own journey as a father. I am married to a wondeful woman who somehow puts up with my crazy perfectionism and peculiarity on a daily basis. No way can I be the easiest person to live with, so I love her all the more for putting up with me. She is my rock who keeps this sometimes airy Gemini grounded. My brothers and I have our separate lives and separate families, but the last year has seen us become a little closer and I am elated about that.

My goals this year are to share more of my writing and the challenges I see as a self-published author. I also hope to finish one of my other manuscripts, which will begin the journey of looking for an agent and publisher as well. I also want to share more of the challenges and lessons of fatherhood as my son is now ten years old and really starting to take on more teenage personality traits.

I hope that others will find a laugh or maybe some inspiration in my posts. I am ok with either. I have always been a bit afraid of opening myself up to even those around me. As I get older, I am realizing that I am not letting people in. Being just an observer in my own life is not what I want to be remembered as. There is an old country song where they say they want to be remembered as – a father, brother, neighbor, and a friend. That they want to be a good man.  I want to be remembered for those things. Perhaps along the way I can connect with this vast community out there on the world wide web and find some common ground with my readers out there.

Change will come… (comments and poem)

Raisin Box Motivational Speech, “Change will come; it’s a lifetime guarantee.”

So, I shared previously another saying from my little box of raisins. I thought this was another good piece of advice to expound upon. Change, that thing with causes us such stress and worry in our lives that there is an entire industry devoted to treating the symptoms of change. Be it something small like taking a wrong turn, or major and life changing like the loss of a job or a treasured loved one; Change is the only constant in any of our lives. We are constantly evolving as we travel this lovely little road of Life. I have struggled with the idea of change at several points in my life, but looking back, it wasn’t so much the changes that made me who I am today, but the way I reacted to those changes that defined me.

Change
Change
Rushing at you like a runaway train
Change
Our constant companion on our journey
Change
Run or hide, it finds you all the same
Change
Will you grow through it?
Change
Or will you collapse under the weight
Change
Making you who you are today
Change
How you react defines you