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.

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.

Spell a Day – Jan 18th 2016

53925-Home-Is-Where-The-Heart-Is.jpg

Today is all about hearth and home. In the not too distant past, this would have been the combination fireplace and cookstove for the household. A place where a family would gather for light and warmth, and to share their evening meal. In modern times there is such fast food and vegging in front of the television that we may have forgotten the importance of a strong hearth. The hearth, or kitchen in modern homes, provides nourishment not only for the body, but for the soul. It is a place where parents make cookies with little children any time of the year. Memories are made accented by good food and good conversation. As we move along this fast paced technological ride of modern life, we mustn’t forget the past and what the hearth meant to our ancestors.

Some of my fondest memories in the kitchen are with my grandmother growing up. She showed me how to make cookies from scratch at Christmas time. I learned to take a base tomato spaghetti sauce and turn it into something much more delicious by adding a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that from the spice rack. The conversations about life, teaching me what I needed to know for when I grew up and moved out on my own. I will always be thankful for the kitchen for these lessons.

The kitchen is a place of bringing together in the home. Don’t forget to bake those treats and let your kids lick the spoon or beaters when you are done. They will thank you for it later. Make good memories Gentle Readers. Feel free to share any memories or stories in the comments as I would love to hear from you. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Jan 9th 2016

Today’s entry from my new almanac is about personal glyphs or sigils. This is something I have not really done but perhaps I should. Then I can mark my works like one of my idols, J.R.R. Tolkien did. Here is what he did with his initials.
JRRTolkienGlyph

You can clearly see the J, then he reversed his R’s and the T crosses the J to make it complete.

So I decided to do a little research into my family lineage to see what was out there already. I looked into the Ferrell name and most records point to Ireland, where it is believed to come from  Ó Fearghail. In Irish Gaelic this is presumed to mean “Man of Valor”. Not a bad legacy to live up to. Immigration records trace back to 1701. There are records of Ferrell (or one of it’s other spellings, including Farrell most commonly) on the rosters of both the union and the confederacy. There is even a record of a Captain Robert Ferrell in the Revolutionary War, as well as a John H. Ferrell, who was awarded a Medal of Honor as a member of the Union Navy in 1865.

Taking my cue from the Irish background. I looked up some Irish Gaelic Runes. Google directed me to Ogham, an early alphabet from at least 4th Century AD. It is believed to be older than that.
ogham_vert

I have always had an interest in rune stones, but I had always stuck more to the Futhark runes as that is the ones used for runecasting that I studied once upon a time. I have some Tarot Cards too.

Using the Ogham alphabet, I constructed a a rather uninteresting looking sigil from my initials. Certainly nothing like what Tolkien came up with using the standard alphabet.
OghamInitials

I can certainly come up with something better than that. Sadly the Futhark alphabet I am more familiar with yielded nothing any better looking. I will spare you that image.

So I tried to start thinking outside of the box. Something I have always thought of getting a tattoo of, if I were to ever take that step, would be a symbol of Gemini, my astrological sign. My favorite forms of this are the ones with the little bit of curve to them, as opposed to the straight line blocks. To have the little bit of curve and flow seems to fit more with the somewhat airy and intellectual side attributed to Gemini people.
gemini.jpg

Taking the above picture as my base, I played with the runes and discarded them again. They just did not seem to convey my name in anyway. Going back to the standard alphabet, I came up with a design that I think has potential. Granted I am no artist so please be gentle.
AMFGlyph.JPG

I did decide after the first drawing to move the line for the F down a little so that it would stand out better without looking like an E with the bottom of the Gemini symbol. What do you think? If anyone makes their own glyph/sigil and wants to share in the comments I would love to see them. Have a great one and see you next time.

Some much needed family time…

This past week afforded me the opportunity to recharge my mental batteries with some much needed family time. My day job as a logistical wizard had been overly taxing of late, leaving me little time to deal with the tedious process of re-editing my first book, editing the second, or completing the draft of my third.

Wednesday – I got up first in my household, as usual. I took my vehicle in for its overdue oil change as soon as the shop was open. As we had a trip to Chicago planned I wanted to have it get the full treatment from a professional. Coming home a bare 20 minutes later, I went to work straightening up our messy kitchen. The trash also had to go out as it was collection day in our village. I then cooked scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for the family. Once I had it ready to hit the table, I went to wake up my wife and son, who were still sleeping. After breakfast, my wife took over the cleaning in the house while I broke out our riding lawn mower to cut our grass. It was looking decidedly shaggy. My son joined me outside to take the trimmer to the dog kennel. The grass was taller than our little Shih-tzu but I cannot get the riding mower through the gate to cut it that way. A trip to the recycling center for our weekly deposit completed the major chores for the day. My wife had our bag packed to go out to our camper on the lake. An afternoon of swimming, cards, and cooking out ended my Wednesday on a very high note. The dogs even enjoyed some time in the water.

Thursday – We were up, not quite with the sun but still a decent hour. We packed up the campsite. We took the dogs to my wife’s parents house where they would be staying for the next few days. A quick trip home for real showers and a change of clothes had us off and running to Chicago for the rest of our family vacation. After shocking my wife with how calm I was in Chicago traffic (normally she feels the need to premedicate to handle my road rage) we checked into our hotel. Thursday night was spent cheering the Black and White Knight at Medieval Times Schaumburg. I am proud to say that after 3 trips, we finally picked a winner. The food was tasty as always. I admit to having two of their “Executioner” drinks (Southern Comfort, and two flavors of Fat Tuesday mix). I don’t remember which ones. Then it was back to the hotel to relax and get some sleep for our Friday excursions.

Friday – The Brookfield Zoo outdid itself this year. They added a new bird exhibit full of parakeets. For a couple bucks you can purchase this little stick with food on it. The birds will land on the stick, your hand, or whatever they can to get at the sticks. The coolest thing was when I had three of them between the stick and my hand fighting over who got the food. Once in awhile something spooks them and the several hundred birds all take flight at once and did figure eights around the building. I am not sure what it was that spooked them, but it was impressive to see them all flying in formation like a fighter bomber squadron. Luckily all three of us escaped without getting pooped on. We made a trip to the Lego store, a must whether you are 10 (like my son) or 33 (like me). We finished up at Bahama Breeze restaurant in Schaumburg. I HIGHLY recommend checking out their Creole Shrimp Rice bowl. DELICIOUS!!!  We headed back to the hotel with full bellies, but my son insisted he needed to hit the pool. I sat in the corner in my near food coma while he swam and played in the water.

Saturday – Bristol Ren Faire on the Wisconsin/Illinois border. Always good for people watching. Some of the costumes are pretty fantastic. We watched a whip cracker show where he actually did flaming whips. When he made a joke about accidents happening (revealing the bald head under his hat) he picked me out of the crowd to say “This guy knows what I am talking about, right?” I just laughed and nodded in agreement with him. We also saw the first joust of the day. Our knight, Sir Maximillion, won. This makes twice in three days we picked a winner. I should have bought a lottery ticket. The heat was oppressive, so after a little shopping, we decided to grab some ice cream and head home. I was disappointed with the vendor as we ordered three strawberry waffle cones, but only received 2 and a half. When the third one arrived, decidedly lacking in as much ice cream as the first two. I started to question it. The lady ignored me and called for the next customer. I had been pretty calm so far. Not frustrated or raging at the idiotic driving on the IL Tollway, but this lady almost wore the ice cream. I can proudly say I chose to take a breath and just walk quickly towards the exit before I caused a scene. My wife and son followed at a safe distance, knowing I was not in a good mood. We cruised on home, after stopping to pick up the pups from in-law’s house. My wife and son have decided we are definitely dressing up the next time we go to the Faire.

Sunday – we relaxed till afternoon, did a little shopping and then watched some evening TV. We did begin dismantling and painting two of my son’s NERF guns so they can be redesigned into a “steampunk” style as part of his costume for the Faire (as well as Halloween this year).

Definitely just what I needed to recharge from work. Today has been calmer in the office. The boss is away. Maybe I can get some edits done on something today. Keep fighting the fight my friends.

Bachelor Night, or while the wife is away the husband will play.

Today is a special kind of day. I have to work all weekend at my real job because, sadly, my writing doesn’t pay the bills yet. So, while I drag myself through another day in the office, my wife and son are off to her cousin’s in Chicago for the birthday party of her 1 year old. Some of my wife’s family is from Chicago so there is a lot visiting to do down there this weekend. What this means is that it is just me and the dogs tonight till she gets home tomorrow.

Time to party. Have all the boys over for beer, pizza and cards right? Sure.

Or maybe hit the bar, gotta be a sports game on a tv somewhere right? Sure, that sounds fun.

But neither are going to happen. I have turned into a boring old married man. I will go home, probably pick up some take out on the way home. Feed and water the dogs. Watch a little TV, and then turn in early. Exciting Bachelor night right?

I am going to sleep like crap tonight without my wife there.