Christmas and Other Holidays

Why do I include the holidays in my stories?

I get this question a lot and some people are really venomous about it, which surprises me.  I don’t understand the question, well I do, but I don’t.  The holidays, any holiday, in my case I focus on American cultural celebrations, are a large part of our social world. Be it, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Ramadan, Lunar New Year, etc. these are important events and to exclude them on purpose is doing a disservice to our novels and the worlds we are creating.

To be clear, I’m not saying all books need them or should have them.

Why do we decorate Christmas Trees?

Why do we decorate Christmas Trees?

However, for my stories I intentionally include holiday celebrations because, for me, it completes the world I’m creating.  In ‘A New World – Contact’ aliens from another planet arrive on Earth. The story focuses on how both races relate to each other and how they learn from each other.  How could I not include scenes that involve American cultural events?  It gives me the opportunity to show these celebrations through alien eyes.  I’m able to poke fun at us and our traditions. Why do we have Christmas Trees?  Why do some people cut down living trees and others have artificial ones?  How would you explain this to an Alien?  I would expect any alien race to be fascinated with our social customs, why we do them and how we celebrate them.

In ‘The Calling’ an average human guy is called to become an Immortal (Vampire). I don’t focus as much on the Holidays in ‘The Calling’, but I do include them, because, again how do Immortals celebrate a holiday that is as old, or in a few cases younger, then they are?  For me that is interesting and I hope it will be for the reader.

I’m not saying holidays should be the focus of every story, but when you’re writing a story, perhaps include a little holiday cheer.  It can be used as a moment of calm before the storm or as a moment to poke fun at some of our more unique cultural events that we all share.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

What about Writing Inspiration

Sometimes I get asked about my writing inspiration.  It’s an odd thing.  In most cases, I know what I want to write and when I want to write it.  Other times, I’ll be out-and-about and something or someone interesting will strike me, those are the best times.  I can jot down a few notes and move on with my day.

What I feel like when inspiration hits in the middle of the night

What I feel like when inspiration hits in the middle of the night

The worst time when inspiration strikes is when I’m sleeping and I’ll have a dream about the characters in one of my works-in-progress.  Most of the time I can deal with it, I wake up the next morning and, again, jot down a few notes and move on.  But then there are the times when I’m trying to sleep and the characters talk to me. They won’t shut up.  Crazy, I know, but it happens.

When this happens, it’s normally the main character who won’t shut-up telling me about themselves and what they want.  On rare occasions it’ll be a secondary character who will push aside everything, and everyone, to grab my attention.  They will normally address themselves, however once in a while they’ll address the plot or something happening in the story and give me their opinion and their take on the situation.

Overall, this can be helpful. So I don’t tend to mind too much as long as they let me sleep. Normally after I get up and jot a few notes down.

Recently, on vacation, I was having a massage and one of my characters popped into my head and started talking.  Telling me what they wanted and what they thought would help the story move a long.  So, there I was having a wonderful eighty minutes massage with one of my characters chatting away.  I was stuck, so I had to listen.  What I got out of it, was not only some really great plot points, but help to flush out his character.

More importantly, I was still able to enjoy my massage.

Additionally on vacation, a different character, from another story decided the setting where I was on vacation, would be a perfect place for him and several characters from his story to have a ‘major’ event happen.  I wasn’t planning on this to happen in that story but, the more he talked, the more I liked the idea.  So, when I got back to the resort, I made notes and came up with additional outlines for that story.

Inspiration for me, comes from anywhere and anyone.  I would like to say that I can sit down and get inspired and then shut it off when I want to.  But that isn’t always the case. I suppose I wouldn’t want it any other way. Well except when I want to sleep or relax.  Or like right now.  I should be working on my next chapter, however, I’m writing this instead

Writing Updates

What my writing space should look like.

What my writing space should look like.

I wanted to spend a little time talking about my current works in progress.  ‘A New World – Contact’ is the first book in a planned three book series.  It’s exciting to write an epic Science Fiction story that takes place over three books.  It gives me the flexibility to tell a complete story with all the details and characters I want bring out.  Each of the three novels is its own story with a beginning, middle and end.  The novels will tie into the greater universe and give people the chance to really get to know the characters and the world.

As it stands right now, ‘A New World – Contact’ has been through a round of Beta Readers and is being edited. The second book in the Series has been outlined and is being written.  The third book of the series has been outlined.  So, the story is there and all its parts are laid out.  I, also plan on keeping the door open for additional stories should the series go in that direction. 

‘The Calling’, my dark Urban Fantasy/Vampire story, is the first book in a two book series.  ‘The Calling’ has gone through Beta Readers and is also being edited.  This adult dark story has been fun to write letting me play around with my darker side. Also, it’s allowed me to explore one of my personal favorite genres, vampires, in a dark setting.  The story doesn’t begin dark, but we travel away from the light at a slow steady pace, which I find fun to write. Unlike my other work, the status on book two of ‘The Calling’ is that there is only a rough outline, but it’s a start.

One final update on the writing front, coming soon is my short story ‘The Reunion’ which I’ve been working on and is getting ready to be posted to this site.  ‘The Reunion’ takes place in a small Midwest town where a group of friends gather for a reunion.  The characters are colorful but they are set against a bleak backdrop.  There is more news coming about ‘The Reunion’ that will be announced in the New Year, so stay tuned.

Doesn't it look easy?

Doesn't it look easy?

As you can see a lot is going on and I have several balls in the air right now. I encourage you to sign up for my “Update on Scribbles” to get announcements and news on ‘A New World – Contact’, ‘The Calling’ and ‘The Reunion’. Also, if you have questions feel free to drop me a note.

Writing when you have Dyslexia

What's it like writing when you're dyslexic? 

I’ve been asked this a lot and there isn’t an easy answer, because, in general, writing is hard for anyone. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re dyslexic. It’s still scary stuff.  Putting out a story that I’ve written terrifies me, just like any other writer.

What makes it a bit more of a challenge is putting into words what I want to say. Using the correct word, spelling it right, and ensuring the grammar is correct (which most of the time it’s not). At least I don’t have to physically write (pen and paper) the words anymore. Thank goodness for technology.

Still, I’ve always been a creative person, even as a kid I remember telling stories and talking… a lot. So, when I was in the First Grade, about age 6, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia. At the time I didn’t understand what it meant. What I learned was that I would need to repeat the First Grade and go into special classes so I could be retaught how to read, spell and write.  I would need to take these classes for the rest of my time in grade school. The hope was to have me ready for Junior High.

Overall, the special classes weren’t too bad. They allowed me to explore more creative ways to learn, which was what I needed. I learned how to read, and I grew to actually enjoy it.  For me, reading became movies in my mind, so the more details the author put into their story the clearer the image, and by default the clearer the story.

This affected my writing greatly. I love details. I love descriptions. The more that I put into it, the better I believe the story. Sadly, this isn’t quite true. I’ve been spanked for too much detail and too many descriptions, so I’ve had to learn to find a happy medium.  Easier said than done.
Since I’ve grown up with Dyslexia, I don’t have any other reality. So, when I’m asked what’s it like writing with dyslexic. I shrug and say, “I don’t know any other way. So it’s fine."

Why we need to Celebrate Dreamers

Reaching for the Moon

Reaching for the Moon

John F. Kennedy said, “…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept…”

I wasn’t alive then, but those words have always meant something to me. For me these words mean that despite how hard something seems, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. That no matter how impossible something seems, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. For me those words have always meant that we should dream and dream big.

Flash forward almost 55 years and here we are, in a world that no one back than could have dreamed possible.  We’ve been to the Moon, we have a permanent space station in low Earth’s orbit.  We’ve sent any number of machines out into the universe.  There are men and women planning on going to Mars (okay, that is a bit farther out, but still NASA is planning a trip as are Mar’s One and Space X).  We want to mine an asteroid.  We want to have a permanent presence on the Moon.  We’re in the process of opening up space exploration to private companies such as Bigelow Aerospace, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Space X. These are big dreams with big dreamers behind them.

Why we need to celebrate these dreams is because these dreams spawn conversation, and these conversations spawn action, and these actions create change (mostly for the better). Not all these dreamers will see their dreams come true, but some will.  Those dreams that do come true will spawn new dreams and so on.

Without these big dreams we would have never had flight, never had computers, never had cell phones, or any number of everyday items we take for granted.

As a writer, I’m a dreamer, I suppose if I did better in math and science I could have been one of these dreamers creating our future, but instead, I tell stories. Stories that maybe, if I’m lucky, someday will inspire future dreamers and if I’m really lucky, possibly I’ll be writing them from my new home on the Moon, or perhaps Mars.  I do it not because it’s easy but because it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

What are your dreams? How are you celebrating them, and the dreamers around you? 

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog.  I plan on sharing my thoughts, ideas and things I find interesting here.  Some days it’ll be about my writing. Some days it’ll be about the places I’ve traveled to or plan on traveling to. Some days it’ll be political in nature (as this affects some of my writing). Some days it’ll be something that I find humorous.  Basically, this blog will be a mix bag of my crazy random thoughts.

I want to start with something simple. So let me tell you about my writing.  I’ve always had a passion for telling stories, but because of my dyslexia I never thought I could write. I avoided writing like the plague.  It still makes me nervous to post and share my writing because I’m sure there are grammar and/or spelling mistakes. But what changed for me was reading.  I loved to read, but I never saw characters I could relate too.  Sure there were some amazing heroes, but none that reflected me (and not the bald sexy me with smoldering eyes).  I never saw strong male or female gay protagonists, sure there might be a quirky side character or two out there.  Or a brief mention of a passing character, but not one that the whole story was based on.  Yes, there are a number of very good gay themed books out there but none that I thought reflected me and the world I’m from.

With that in mind I started writing.

In 2004 I started writing silly online game narratives. It was great practice, and I learned a lot.  I worked with an excellent group of friends and we had a lot of fun.  As I continued to work on my craft, I came up with ideas for my two current works in progress.  One an epic Science Fiction story (A New World – Contact Book 1), which I started back in the early 1990s and the other a darker Paranormal/Urban Fantasy (The Calling – Book 1) involving Vampires (or Immortals as they are referred to in the story).  Once the stories were crafted and after some difficult feedback from my Beta Readers I found a writing group where I’ve been polishing the novels and getting them ready to publish.

These aren’t the only stories I have to tell. There are two other novels that I’m working on and of course the Books 2 and 3 of A New World and Book 2 of The Calling.

It is my hope to tell good stories that anyone can relate to.  I hope you’ll see a little of yourself in the characters and more importantly enjoy their journey.