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.

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 – Feb 5th 2016

Forgiveness of self. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do in our life is forgive ourselves for decisions we made. If I have learned anything from my day job of dispatching, is that sometimes, you just have the make the best decision you can at the time, with the tools and knowledge you have at your disposal. Hindsight is always going to reveal a new plan of action, but that plan may not have been something to consider without the benefit of hindsight.  Have any of you made decisions that you came to regret later? Perhaps there is a toxic relationship (lover, friend, coworker, or relative) that you harbor guilt, anger, and/or resentment towards yourself over. Time to let go of that negativity in your life. Even if you cannot salvage the relationship in anyway (and you may not really want to) you cannot continue to beat yourself up over it. You are only harming yourself.

I use the example of my biological father. Now “sperm donor” as he has been called by my older sister and I because of his never really acting like a father figure, is a narcissistic sociopath. (Thank you Criminal Minds). Everything, every act/every word/every event, is designed to inflate his ego and self importance. Throughout my life he has popped in and I thought for sure this time would be different, that we would have a healthy father/son relationship. Each time I was crushed one way or another when he let me down. I think that is part of why I struggle sometimes to interact with my son. I am not wired very well in that respect. I have taken cues from my father in law and brother in law who are great with their kids and tried to learn to do better. I think I learn something new all the time.

I held onto a lot of anger and resentment for my father and later my stepfather that I think I have finally begun to let go of. I am far from perfect, and never will be, but at least it doesn’t send me into any sort of blind rage like it used to. I hope my children never have cause to think of me in the same light as I have pictured the ‘father figures’ I grew up watching.

Do you harbor any of these feelings of guilt, anger, or resentment from a relationship gone sour? Let it go Gentle Readers and enter the next phase of your life with a lighter heart.

Spell a Day – Feb 3rd 2016

springcleaning

Anyone else feel like this? That’s right Gentle Readers, we are on the downhill to Spring. Grab your sage oil and spearmint oil, mix those up with a little water and spritz your house to dispel the buildup of the long winter months.

I have a further complication to my cleaning efforts this year as my wife and I are expecting our second child the end of April. Going to be a big adjustment from the three of us and two dogs, to adding a newborn into the mix. We have done a lot of prepwork on the nursery. Now it is just the mental preparation. This is really happening. I have been listening to Macklemore and Lewis’s song, Growing up, every day. I think it has become my mantra so to speak. “Who am I, if I’m the person you become, if I’m still growing up.”

I’ve done a lot of soul searching, working on my temper and I think I have made some progress. I think fatherhood is going to settle me down more this time around. I cannot wait to walk out of my work in July and take 8 weeks or more off to enjoy with my newborn and my son.

Until next time Gentle Readers, don’t procrastinate your spring cleaning, or we will ahve to call it summer cleaning.

Spell a Day – Jan 22nd 2016

Good evening Gentle Readers. Well, it isn’t quite February 14th, but today’s topic is love. Specifically about drawing in the kind of love you want and your ideal partner. I guess this is so you are ready on Valentine’s day. I’ve never presumed to know if Aphrodite wants to hear our pleas for love or not, but it appears today is a day to reach out to her. Have you ever made a physical list of the qualities and traits your want your ideal partner to possess? I never was so formal about it but I knew some things I did not want.

If you make a list of what you want and what you don’t want, then you have a road map to go out and find your ideal partner that will enrich your life forever. According to the Huffington Post and New York Times, divorce rates are going down and we could soon see 2/3rds of marriages lasting the long haul, instead of the scary 50% I learned about growing up in the 90’s. This trend seems to be because of people marrying later in life (mid twenties) and that we are past the rough start to the evolution of Marriage being the Male Breadwinner and Female housewife into the more equal partnership it is for many of us, including myself.

I have a beautiful and amazing wife who is truly my best friend. Probably the best possible outcome for a complete geek like me.  I wanted to share a little poem I wrote about her on this day of trying to draw in your ideal partner.

My Wife
The love of my life
My rock, my soft place to land
My beautiful wife

Of all the cliches
I could rattle off them all
There’s one simple truth

Without her I would be lost
My world revolves around her
Her voice, her laugh, her wonderful smile
Without them I’m a ship tossed
Upon the waves of a storm’s anger
No hope, No joy, crushed on a rocky isle

Somehow she manages with my OCD
She even tolerates my oddities
She finds humor in my eccentricities
Though the how is a mystery to me

The love of my life
So smart and beautiful
My lifelong partner

Together we are
Stronger than we are apart
I know that I am

 

So how about it Gentle Readers? Do you have your ideal partner or are you still looking? Feel free to share your stories or hopes in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Spell a Day – Jan 20th 2016

Count-Your-May-Blessings.jpg
Image from Lil’Lunas.

It is a good lesson to learn to always be mindful of the blessings in your life. Sometimes we get so hung up on the negative we forget about the good things we have. Today’s spell is about making a blessing jar. Even if you don’t believe in magick and spellcraft, this is a good idea to do.

Take a jar of any reasonable size. A quart mason jar should be sufficient. Near your jar you need to keep a pen and some sort of paper. An assortment of little colored Post-it notes would work wonderfully according to Natalie Zaman (the contributor of this spell). I have to agree, the different colors would look pretty in the jar. So, each day you need to write down something you are thankful for on the little notes. Roll or fold it up and place it in the jar. When the jar is overflowing, take them out and read them one by one to remind yourself of the blessings in your life.

Now, you can do a lot of things from here with your blessings. Recommendations include writing them all down somewhere like a journal. You can also release it into the world through a cleansing fire. I would probably end up blogging my list for all of you first, which I am sure would be terribly boring to read through.

I have a little poem to share with you all on the topic.

Blessings
My blessings abound
A wonderful home, good job
Loving family

My cup overflows with joy
Laughing with my young boy
Over the antics of his friends
I hope this never ends

I adore my beautiful wife
She truly is the love of my life
I cannot begin to count the ways
She brightens each of my days

I’m thankful each day
For the blessings in my life
Son and loving wife

Spell a Day – Jan 4th 2016

Today is a day for letting go they say. Apparently only 4 days into the year is a good time to re-evaluate your resolutions and let go of what may be causing you to abandon them already. I would think we could last longer than 4 days, right? Pay no attention that I am a week behind still on these posts.

Take a breath today and realize that there are always going to be struggles in life. There are always going to be ideals, fears, or even people holding you back. Charles R. Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” I think those are some powerful words to think about as we move forward into the new year.

When you let others control your reactions you become a passive observer in your own life. That is no way to live. So today, make a list of what is holding you back from your dreams and goals in life. You can do this mentally, or you can even write them all down. Spell a day suggests burning them to set them free and remove the energy from your life.

I have a different philosophy on this one. Once you have your list, figure out how you are going to change those things. If it is a particularly toxic habit (smoking or over indulgence in food) do something about it. Take a class, join a support group and STICK WITH IT.

If it is a draining and monotonous job that you feel is killing your very soul, first be thankful you have a job. There are those who would like to have a soul crushing job if it at least paid the bills. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot find something fulfilling to pursue in your career and leave that job to someone else. This might take years of planning and hard work, especially if it involves going back to school for training or certifications/degrees. That is perfectly fine. You just have to find your passion and chase it. Or maybe you can leave the office behind the moment the work day is done and pursue a hobby or other pursuit that will bring joy to your life.

If it is a person or group of people in your life that are holding you back from enjoying life, then take a hint from Olaf, my second favorite snowman (Frosty is still #1) and
Olaf-let-it-go
(Image borrowed from google, they are stickers you can purchase here.)

You don’t need toxic people in your life. Even if they are “blood”, sometimes it’s better to cut ties than to let them continue to drag you down.

What do you need to let go of in your life in order to achieve your dreams in 2016? Share in the comments gentle readers. Sometimes just putting words to what is holding you back takes away its power over you.

2016 is here…

Hello Gentle Readers. I thought in the midst of everyone’s New Year Resolution posts I would just add my own commentary.

2015 was a rollercoaster mixed with a hurricane. It came and left in a hurry. My literary and blogging goals stalled out for much of the year. I did manage to put a novella into the hands of a new friend for editing. She also took a look at my first novel and found some much needed grammatical and word usage problems that have made my work better. I failed to participate in NaNoWriMo, but that’s alright. The pressure would probably make me give up anyway.

On the fatherhood front I assisted my son’s baseball team and coached football. Coaching sports when I am clearly not a sports person was an experience in learning. The kids all seemed to have fun and we made it through the season without too many problems. My family will also be welcoming a new addition sometime in late April (if all goes according to plan). The prep work on the nursery has been tiring, but in a good way. My wife and I have decided to not find out the gender until the birth. This appears to be a growing trend according to our doctor. This new chapter in my journey as a parent is overwhelming at times. As of December 31st, we had “crossed the finish line” as our doctor says. Now if there is any premature labor, the baby is viable to survive. That means my family is definitely going to have an 11year old, and a newborn. The greatest part of these doctor visits has been hearing the heartbeat of a little person I helped create. We are also far enough along that I can feel the baby move and kick.

I have become obsessed with the Mackelmore and Lewis song, Growing Up (Sloane’s Song). I usually start my drive to work with it on and it is the last song I play before I pull into the drive at night. It has been my motivation to become a better person for the sake of both of my children. This means working on my temper and getting myself in better shape. I know, everyone makes resolutions to be healthier in the new year. However, I have managed to lose just over 30 pounds in the last 6 months. My goal is another 20-30 the first 6 months of this year. This will put me lighter than I have been since junior high. I have been quite pleased with my self control because I was warned that husbands typically put on some “sympathy weight” when their wives are pregnant. I have managed to stay constant the last two months.

I am also ecstatic over the new home office I am setting up in a spare bedroom in my home. I just have a carpet remnant to put down, and a corner shelving unit to buy or build (pending approval from my wife on design) and then I can really get to work on my literary endeavors. The space will be conducive to working on any project requiring some privacy and space to spread out notes/reference materials. There is even a section where my son (and future children) can work on homework or arts/crafts, without interfering with my work.

I suppose it is time for a few goals and resolutions for the year.
1 – I want to finish the rewrite/editing of my first book so that the improved second edition can be released.
2 – I want to self pub my novella (still in the editing phase).
3 – I want to finish, edit, and self pub my the second book in my Family Heritage series this year.
4 – I would like to make some major progress on my high fantasy (think Tolkien) series. I have the skeleton of a realm, deities, antagonists/protagonists. Just have to finish plotting and then get to work fleshing out the stories. I haven’t quite figured out if it will be a series of short stories/novellas, or if each set of characters will end up in their own full blown novel. Since they will also overlap I have to make sure my outlines are complete for consistency.
5 – I plan to get myself down in weight before summer. I have at least the 20-30 to lose that I want to, so from there I will evaluate what I still can lose healthily.
6 – I want to blog at least once a week, if not more often. I will be looking for topics to discuss. As part of this I want to do at least 2 book reviews a month. I need to get a submission page setup for anyone interested in having me review their work.
7 – It would be nice to put together a book of poetry as well. I have a notebook almost full and a thumb drive with a few dozen from when I was younger. Just not sure if I have enough that would be of interest to others. The ones I have blogged here have received favorable reviews so perhaps there is potential in others as well.
8 – I want to bring down and gain a better handle on my temper. I am not a homicidal maniac, but there are times where a cooler head would be a better face to present. I have noticed my son picking up some of my habits and I hope that if I can break my cycle, I can help him to not struggle like I have.

I wish everyone else luck with their goals for 2016. This year has an extra day in it (Leap year and all). I think I am going to need it. HA HA! Until next time Gentle Readers.

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”