Cover Reveal: Trilogy Book 2 – The African Connection

Well, last week I released the cover of book 1 of my new trilogy set to be released soon.  I couldn’t hold back on the cover for book 2, so here they are together.  I’m getting real excited about releasing these stories. A timeline will be revealed shortly. Hope you like what you see!

Forgotten Child Trilogy Book1 FrontCoverFinal

TrilogyBook2theAfricanConnectionFRONTCOVER

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I Need a Shoehorn for Life

For the past eleven years, my professional dress consisted of sandals, dress shorts, and a button-down, collared shirt with those little slits at the bottom that made it look like it didn’t need to be tucked in. Comfort was the life.

Well, no more. Now, everyday, I’m spiffed up like a Manhattan businessman, minus the jacket.  It was a tragic day when I realized my toes would no longer be free to enjoy the morning air, destined to a daily dark dungeon surrounded by a woven cloth, inside a hard outer shell. If that sounds like my feet are hostage, they are. Literally.

Well, if I had to dress-up, I decided to do it right and bought myself a few nice pairs of shoes. Knowing that mature adults take care of their shoes and do not just force their foot into the heel with a finger used as a wedge. No. I bought a shoehorn. The first one of my life.

I have come to a realization: SHOEHORNS ARE MAGICAL!

Within the course of three blissful seconds, my gargantuan, monstrous morphs into a petite size six for a smooth and effortless slide into my shoe. It’s stupendous. Shoehorn, what spell have you cast upon this land that makes giant plodding steps a mere light jaunt in the park?

Seriously. I had no idea they worked so well. In fact, every engineer in the world should stop what they are doing right now and begin work immediately on a shoehorn for life.

Imagine a device that could movinghorn furniture through a narrow door.

Imagine a device that could shoppinghorn groceries into a bag.

Imagine a device that could learninghorn a college education into your brain with one slick slide.

Imagine a device that could lifehorn your daily routine into a sane and manageable packet.

Why are shoehorns only made for feet?

 

 

 

The Forgotten Child Trilogy – Coming Soon!

I can scarcely remember when I started writing this trilogy. I believe it was in December of 2015 that I began dabbling with the idea. I had a strange visual of a tiny person in a white robe, eating a pomegranate while hovering over top of the bed of an old man sleeping. That image was the genesis of this trilogy. I had no idea what it meant or who these people were, but I had so much fun discovering it!

It turns out that the old man sleeping was none other than Manhattan businessman Francis Frick. He’s quite a character as you will see. He’s not the most pleasant person to be around as his daughter Ruthy Frick knows all too well.

And what about that strange flying being eating pomegranates over his bed? Well, her name is Bee. She’s also quite the character, opposite of Mr. Frick in just about every way imaginable. But it seems like their destinies are linked. An otherworldly being, and her faithful companion Ash, will have to deal with Mr Francis Frick if they are to achieve their goal – save a child in history who never mattered – that is, The Forgotten Child.

This is an adventure through time spanning four continents and one-hundred years. From Scotland to Cambodia, from the South Pacific to Africa, from Romania to Manhattan, get ready for a new adventure into the heart of the 20th century. Bee will be your guide, and she’s a lovely little person with which to spend the afternoon.

Official blurb to follow. Book 1 Cover Reveal Tomorrow.

The Forgotten Child Trilogy

BOOK 1: A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far  (RELEASING SOON)

BOOK 2: The African Connection (mid 2018)

BOOK 3: The Forgotten Child  (early 2019)

side by side coming soon

Are you feeling lucky, Photoshop?

I know. I know. I’m an author. Leave the design work for the professionals. And don’t EVER attempt to design your own book cover. Foolish, it is.

I agree with all of the above, and yet …

I can’t help but tinker.

When I use Photoshop, it’s 10% know-how, 30% You Tube videos, and 60% dumb luck! I have, at times, designed things which I consider acceptable. I’ve even had some people occasionally mention how my skills are getting better. But the reality is, Photoshop is a supped up 50s convertible and I approach it with a screwdriver made for eye glasses. It’s a bad miss match.

However, I’ve been getting lucky lately a little more often than I have in the past. I had toyed around with the design of my new book and I got to the place where I felt it was nearly acceptable. I received some feedback from folks, mostly positive, and kept messing with the minutia until I thought I was finished. I was even going to seek some professional help to clean it up and then design the book’s sequel. I had tried once to use the same template to create book 2 but it was disastrous, so I abandoned the idea.

Until about a week ago. For some reason, on a particularly creative and cocky day, I decided to work on book 2 again. And voila! Within a matter of 10 minutes, I got lucky. Perfect photo, edited into the background, I was amazed at how good it looked. It was in fact way better than the cover I thought was acceptable for book 1. This burst of creativity led me to try to create a cover for book 3, even though I haven’t written it yet. After another short period of creation, I had book 3, it looked fantastic, way better, in fact than that book 1. I was lucky again. Twice in one week.

That made me go back to the book 1 cover again and I started a redesign, one that I never would have thought of six months ago as I was designing it. One idea led to the next and I finagled enough luck out of my keyboard to substantially improve the cover for book 1.

So is it luck? Or am I getting better?

I’m convinced that’s it both. I’m not a good enough designer that I can set out with a goal in mind and make it happen. Oh no, those are the real artists. But I am at the point where I can take what I have, work with a bunch of scenarios until I will hopefully come across one combination which I will be satisfied with.

That’s where I am with Photoshop. I can easily spend three enjoyable hours cutting, erasing, editing, recoloring, combining, and importing all kinds of items in the search of the elusive good design. It’s a welcome respite from writing, a different type of creativity which is fun and challenging.

So whatever it is that you enjoy doing, even though you feel like an amateur, keep at it. You might find that you end up getting lucky more often than not. And soon you’ll realize that your luckiness is not the result of random accidents.

NOTE: I’ll be releasing these covers in the near future. Hope you like them.

No Self-Consciousness Allowed on Stage

The drama classroom is often times a microcosm of life. We spend a lot of time talking about humanity, genuineness, and authenticity. These elusive words, when manifested correctly on the stage, can bring to life a performance which can penetrate deep into the audience’s consciousness. That’s the magic. From where do we reach in order to achieve these? What can stop our attempts at authentic emotion to slide into gaudy melodrama which makes the audience reach for the phone so they can stream another cat video to forget about the disaster on stage?

Self-Consciousness.

Now while it’s true that the actor must personalize their character in very real ways, that personalization cannot push them into self-awareness on stage. This, in my estimation, is one of the most difficult tasks that young actors in the drama classroom face. It doesn’t take long for one of my students to break a smile when doing an exercise. It doesn’t take much for someone to break character and turn away in self-conscious glee, knowing that they looked ridiculous in front of their peers. Well, yes. Everyone doing drama looks ridiculous. It’s a prerequisite. But to truly grow in one’s craft, you must get over yourself. You must get over what other people think, or how other people react when you are acting.

You have to get in the zone!

When I was a baseball pitcher, toeing the rubber and receiving the sign from my catcher, I felt like I was a lonely soul standing on a lonely mound. I didn’t hear the spectators, or the opposing team, or even my own players, I was in the zone, completely tuned in to the moment, to the pitch, to the mechanics, to the task at hand. In the same way, actors need to get into the zone through concentration and an acute awareness of the task they are trying to complete.

Last year I was put to the test in an experimental theatre piece I was part of. I had to sit in the middle of the stage, with the entire audience standing around me, watching me write the same line on a notepad over and over. I would pause, look up, and even though I saw them, I was not affected by them. I focused on the writing and I focused on the objective that my actor was trying to accomplish. After the show, I had many people comment on how I was “in the zone” and they couldn’t get me to break character. It was tremendously fun. How did I do it? I knew my objective and I concentrated on achieving it, at all costs. I was committed to looking foolish or strange because I knew that was the only way the show would work. It takes commitment and concentration. Do you have it?

I’ve attended many productions where the actors are already in character and on-stage as the audience was entering the theatre. It’s a purposeful mechanism of concentration that allows the actors to remain uniquely in tune to the task in front of them. It’s also a terrific way to tease the audience with what is about to come.

What about you? How do you stay in character? How do you concentrate when you are on stage?

Do you really need that?

I’m the atypical American, I suppose you could say. I’ve spent the majority of the last 23 years living and working overseas. It’s had its perks for sure, mixed with a downside, but overall, I wouldn’t have traded all my experiences in Vietnam and Malaysia for anything. By having such a transient lifestyle, our family has purposefully not accumulated a lot of possessions over the years. Oh sure, we have stuff in storage (maybe too much) and we’ve done our fair share of supporting global capitalism through our many purchases and our Amazon Prime membership, but I must say, compared to the average American, we’ve haven’t accumulated much. That is, perhaps, one of the greatest perks of living overseas.

When we moved to Malaysia in 2006, we bought a bunch of furniture on arrival which we used, loved, wore-out, and then sold dirt cheap when we left. We went with little and left with little. I know some folks who move overseas ship their whole household belongings with them in a shipping container–sometimes cars included. Not for us. Maybe an overweight bag or two. There’s a freedom in being light on your feet and debt free.

What made me start thinking about this topic is that we recently moved to Saudi Arabia. In doing so, we shipped (aghast!) some items from Malaysia directly to our new country. Not a lot–two pallets worth including a bicycle, guitar, household items, souvenirs and knickknacks. As each day passes without the shipment arriving, I’m starting to wonder what we actually shipped after all, and what would happen if for some reason our shipment never arrived?

I do know what would happen. Nothing.

Life would continue. We would work, live, laugh, eat, and enjoy our lives just fine–even if I never saw any of those out of sight items ever again.

What does it mean that I have so little regard for the things I currently don’t have? I think it means that we place far too much emphasis and value on the things in our lives, even if we don’t have a lot. But ultimately, I’m not going to cry over a lost crock pot, pizza pan, or painting. In the grand scheme of things, that shipment, which is now in the Persian Gulf, has no bearing on my life.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to come. Of course not. The practical side of me doesn’t want to have to buy another crock pot. But I’m also not going to fret about the things I do or don’t have. I think it’s a freeing place to live.

Before your next purchase, let me ask you a question: do you really need that?