Then Again

With the busiest time of year for me (and most of us) at hand I simply wanted to reach out and wish all my blog followers a Happy Holidays!

My next novel, Then Again, will be available for purchase before the end of the year with any luck at all. Thank you all for your dedicated fandom!

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oh the stories I could tell

lifestoriesExperience tells us of life, how it tests first and teaches later. With those lessons we move forward, either learning or destined to repeat the same mistake again until we do. What decides which path or choice we make? I don’t know. To write of that would take insight into what makes us all tick and react to each situation independently. It is what defines hero and villain, antagonist and protagonist, our genetic coding altered by upbringing meets outside stimuli.

We all experience life in our own way as well. We see the same sunset but some stop and stare to soak in the beauty that it holds while other, caught up in something else, miss it entirely. Some were never guided to appreciate the red and orange hues of the sun bidding goodnight to their part of the world.

Some fail to notice the baby in the supermarket line ahead of you seeking eye contact while their parent loads the conveyor belt. Others smile, make funny faces and engage to see the small, breathing, wonder grow in luminescence. Maybe that is where the cycle lies; a child disengaged from the world never having the happy stranger smile upon them while swathed in innocence begets an adult one day that picks the National Enquirer to gaze at rather than the child right in front of them.

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Breaking that cycle requires someone at some point to step outside their comfort zone, to turn against their hard coded makeup.  It’s not easy. And we as human beings rarely take the path untraveled not just because it isn’t easy but because it is unfamiliar.

It is that exact path that leads to the stories we remember for a lifetime, events that fly us off course, for the better or for worse, into the unknown – both with the most risk and the most reward; which is which to be decided at a later date.

Dead men tell no tales but neither do the mundane living.

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Don’t be this guy…

The more life altering the more due diligence should be given. Blind faith is a weapon of choice in the things of minor impact; don’t step off the cliff to jump without knowing the waters below. That would be fool hardy and dangerous. Those who calculate the risks and take the plunge find glory just the same. Those who jump into shallow shark infested waters in high winds and no knowledge of how to swim aren’t brave – they’re miracles. Miracles are all too rare to count on for things that matter most.

Break your complacent cycle with conviction. Chase it with consistency until you reach acceptance. Despite the saying ‘people do change’; it doesn’t happen all that often because the task is difficult and seemingly impossible. The longer you do something the harder it is to undo. Obvious right?

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We are creatures that fall back on excuses, feign serenity for appearance sake and actively seek reasons to not do something. We’re human. Being human also means if we set our minds on something spectacular we can make it happen. It’s your choice and it always should be: shooting star or a stationary glowing incandescence in the crowded night sky. Both have purpose. Both are gazed upon by many in awe. One makes a memory that puts a pin in a place and time that years later can spur an instant, vivid retrospection.

Those are the stories to tell.

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Days like today remind me I like to ramble. Personal matters have jumped to the front of the line on my to do list leaving the blog as an occasional afterthought. I still have things to say that you might find interesting. The problem is they build up and push and shove to be the first one out when I open the door. This creates a post with ideas piled on top of thoughts wedged between alternating currents. My sincerest apologies if it comes across as calculatingly random.

If life goes to plan – I can hear you laughing from here – Then Again should hit the shelves by the third week in December. More info as the date draws near. Thank you all for your support.

-P

pulling back the veil… How More Than A Memory came to be.

The past seven weeks have been a whirlwind. While I am enjoying the success More Than A Memory is experiencing, I really wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that goes into promoting a book.

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This is cute. I’m a mess in the morning…

Coupled with a busy work and family life and there are honestly times when I want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day and let just this one day go by…

Then I remember why I am doing this.

The story within beckons; the characters prod me one at a time that not everyone knows about them. So again, on a day just like today, I throw back the covers and leave my stuffed animal to fend for himself while I use the minutes – sometimes seconds – in between the rest of life’s demands to spread the word as best I can.

I owe Devin and Sera that much.

During these walkabouts, both virtually and physically, I get asked how did I write this novel. From what genesis did I create a story and characters so memorable?

In no particular order as they are all highly important:

Immersion. our-insanity-is-not-that-we-see-people-who-arent-there-its-that-we-ignore-the-ones-who-are-quote-1I felt the character’s turmoil, anger, angst as they would. You can’t interpret it – that is filtering. You must be the conduit. I’ve had conversations with my characters. Do I hear voices? If I am doing it right I do. I see them standing before me, nervous ticks, doing things they are prone to do; they are living, breathing entities. I’ve written a scene and had them tell me it wasn’t how they would have reacted. Their insistence sent me back to change it.

Total. Immersion.

Have a beginning and an end with a lot of ideas to fill the middle. You can’t have a great sandwich without something between the bread.

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You don’t need the fries when the sandwich is this good.

You need more than a slice of cheese and two pickles otherwise the sandwich will be discarded and forgotten the first time it is picked up. The meat is as important as the bread. Don’t forget that – not more important however. In the interest of instant gratification, the beginning has to hook or you’ve lost half of your readers by page 5. While I stress this I have to admit I don’t let it drive my story away from what I intend it to do, what they want it to do. The prologue of More Than A Memory was intended to create a slow burn, enough to get the reader curious, because I knew the subsequent chapter would be spent laying the foundation of a twisting turning story to come.

That said, I approach a new novel with pages and pages of notes and ideas – things that I don’t even intend to have happen a hundred or so pages from now. They don’t all make it in, but I don’t strike down a good idea because I’m not ready for it yet.

Don’t force a story down a path it was never meant to go. You’re invested in these characters. You have a goal you want to accomplish with them.

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“Not all who wander are lost.” – Gandalf

Never lose sight of that as the words appear one by one from your fingertips; keep this not in the back of your mind, but in the front, as you create. If the idea is strong enough, take it there, but don’t fully commit – releasing all that was planned before – until you know it will still get you to the other side of the sandwich, the bookend piece of bread. If you find yourself bending timelines or showing square pegs into round holes, let it go. No matter how far off the beaten path you’ve gotten. Find your way back and continue on as intended. Save the knowledge of the way that didn’t work. It just could be your sequel.

Find what inspires you.

Let it be the epicenter from which the tale pours forth and the rest will fall into place.

-P

writing wrongs

Making mistakes, admitting to them and making things right again.

When weaving a new novel I try to be conscious of mistakes in word placement and grammar: semicolon here, a properly conjugated verb there. For better or worse, a plethora of today’s commercial fiction holds the rules of high school grammar at arm’s length. If I had my way no one would get to see my occasional dangling participle – so embarrassing! – but it happens.

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Conversely I would never want to sacrifice the story as it pours forth by stopping the flow to be sure a dash is needed and not a comma. You have a message, a picture you want to share, that ultimately doesn’t hinge on the proper syntax of a sentence. A comma where a period should be, a question mark gone missing, a completely misused; that’s unforgivable.

Where am I going with this? Good question. I am glad you thought of it. Hell if I know.

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Okay. That’s not true. I’ll use the subsequent paragraphs to right my wrong.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know I seek new ways to tie a life of writing to the life we collectively live and breath each day. This time is no different.

We’ve all done wrong. Yes, even you. Stop shaking your head. You know it’s true. Remember that time last week..? You lost your temper and said or did something you didn’t mean. (Yes, we’ve all been there.) Did you go back and fix it or did you leave it as is assuming the person on the other end knew you were just having a bad day?

Don’t have the gumption to do so? It takes a lot of strength to look someone in the eye and admit you were wrong. And mean it. And if you just can’t do it? Write it down. No not one sentence. They deserve more than that.

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You may have made that mistake, but it isn’t permanent until it goes to print. Edit your life and your actions. You can accept some things as simply acceptable according to today’s “commercial fiction” but if they don’t sit well with you, insist on being part of your story and how it flows, right them. Or write them as it were.

I know at times these posts can seem corny, possibly even sophomoric; I’m saying what most of us already know.But then I look around at the world. I read the news. I hear it and see it in my day to day. Somewhere along the line, in our masses, we’ve lost sight of the common core prerequisites for living together in peace and harmony.

If I can make a difference in some small way with a few words on a webpage then I am going to do it. If I can’t..? Well, I am still going  to try.

-P

all that echoes (even a duck’s quack)…

Who were we a thousand years ago? Who will we be a thousand years from now?

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Thinking grand scheme can make anyone feel insignificant. We get one shot at this  (unless you’re Shirley Maclaine); one shot to make our mark create something everlasting.

Everlasting. At first blush the word seems impossible. You can build a steel bridge for all to cross a river and yet one day that bridge will be gone. Most city skyscrapers have been standing tall and strong for decades upon decades; somewhere in the future, most likely not your’s or mine, they will be gone. Our oceans are changing. Glaciers once carved their way across our Earth to form lakes and valleys; there are many scientists who believe we will see such transformation again.

So how do we live on long after we’re gone?

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Hint: It isn’t in photo albums or even your Instagram page. (Hard to believe, I know.)

The solution is simple yet so hard to execute in this day and age. In a time when we can reach people far and wide with any message we wish, the absence of the most useful communication, the most powerful, appears to be buried beneath the hate, the misguided and the hurtful.

One word, one I’ve spoken of – can I call this speaking? – many, many times before: LOVE.

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Love and the sharing of stories of love. Throughout my life I’ve had people go the extra mile, touch my life so deeply that it lives on long after we’ve parted ways. An act of kindness, love, giving. This is the seed planted that can grow into FOREVER. To cultivate that flower, that tree into the next millennium, you must share that story, reciprocate that act of kindness.

I don’t want to go off on a rant or climb onto a soapbox, but today’s media sensationalizes all that is wrong in the world; they leave a feel good story for the end of their hour only if they have time at the end. I challenge them all to lead with that story. Lead. And others will follow. The things that impact us should be reported out, but a balance of the random act of kindness or senseless act of love should always fill the opposite scale.

That’s where we come in.

Our duty as parents, as human beings, is to share the love we’ve seen over the years, pass it on and append our own acts of love to each other before we are done.

That’s how you leave your mark.

When we are gone we live on through those we left behind, those whose lives we’ve touched and left a lasting, loving indelible mark.

Do that and even a quack will carry on if you really want to find a way…

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-P

exposing myself

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There is a certain vulnerability opening to the world something that is so close to your heart. Laid bare, opinions invariably scrutinize as much as they commend. That revealed nerve feels all at a heightened level; a level I didn’t fully appreciate until I put myself out there.

Yes, I exposed myself.

More Than A Memory. When you believe in something so completely, as I do this novel, the choice between keeping it hidden or sharing it with the world became clear no matter how scared I was. The main character in this novel overcame so much; I knew I had to do the same.Or at least try.

I’m not going to lie. I’m scared as Hell. But when I can’t believe in myself, I tirelessly believe in the story. The commas, the quotes, the periods. Somehow they all tie together a tale that lives and breathes. When I wrote More Than A Memory  the characters were real. Their pain was real. Their triumphs were real. Their love was real. In truth, it wrote itself; flowing forth as fast as I could get it down.

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As you know, I pride myself on brevity, being as succinct as possible.

So where am I going with all of this?

Besides the shameless plug for my book that drops on June 20th, I wanted to share the new truth I’ve found. To feel the exhilaration that comes with putting yourself out there you have to put yourself out there. Find something you believe in with all your heart and soul. Breathe it. Drink it. Feel it. When you’re failing to find where you end and that something ends: you’re ready. Then what?

   Share it with the world. I did.

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-P

 

I fear change


   To paraphrase Heraclitus: the only thing that remains the same is change itself.

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I avoid change in my daily routine at all costs; the same breakfast, the same lunch with a small variance at dinner. I would change the dinner to something always the same but that would be… change. I fear change so implicitly that I don’t even carry coins in my pockets. The routine I so heavily lean on for comfort was vetted and tested over time to ensure maximum efficiency and keep me tethered to sanity.

Some of you are shaking your heads, chuckling at my expense; the rest of you are nodding emphatically. This incessantly spinning world introduces so many variables on a daily basis that relying on tent poles crafted from consistency only makes sense. Right? Wrong? It’s up for debate – just not with me. Follow your bliss, embrace change; there is no reason the two have to be synonymous!

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Okay, so maybe this is closer to the truth. Change is the unknown, the scary thing just out of sight, waiting around the next corner to jump out and make you wish you’d thought to wear Depends that day. The truth is change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. We must change as human beings or we’d all still be in diapers, sleeping all day, being fed and cared for by people who love us and protect us. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? 🙂

Growing is part of living, interacting with the world and the world interacting with us. Not all of it is pretty. Not all of it is kind. But those are the things that change us, make us who we are. Time travel hasn’t been introduced to the general public yet so there is no way of knowing what will happen next. Even if we had a crystal ball – would you really want to know what comes next?

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A man is consulting a crystal ball to foretell the future of planet Earth. Earth image courtesy of NASA http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

Where am I going with all of this?

I cope with change through the people I create in the worlds I forge and forever seal in time on pages, in chapters, filling books. Characters put through an emotional gamut cannot remain unchanged when they come out on the other side. So how could I expect to do the same?

Change is good. Sure there is bad change. But if you’re looking, eyes wide open and patient, you can avoid the bad for the most part. You’ll grow, prosper, discover and… change. If you never changed you would still be in those diapers – and that would be weird. (I promise I’m not judging.)

I know one day I will put myself out there, step into the darkness without a flashlight, take a leap of faith not fully knowing the ramifications. I could do that today, but given my current overwhelming view on the subject, I know that step would mean… change.

And we all know how I feel about that don’t we?

-P