Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

I have a problem, guys. It's called blogging. I'm simply terrible at it. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's just that I'm more of a reactionary type of person. You know, the kind that will keep their mouth shut about something until absolutely necessary. It can be a horrible practice, I know. It's like, "hey guys, my new book is out!" and people are like, "why didn't you tell me about it a month ago? I already spent my book funds on Harry Potter 97," and then I'm like, "well, that sucks...for me..."

It's a habit that I have to break - not writing. But I suppose a lot of my thoughts come to fruition with the context of my stories. Still, why not get into depth on a couple of topics. I know that I'm opening up myself for criticism here, but what is the internet without a little bit of feedback.

Okay, so here goes *deep breath*

I'm going to talk about...a movie I saw recently. Sure, let's begin there. It was Doctor Strange. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge comic book fan. Not like, I can tell you the issue and volume number kind of fan, but enough that I can hold my own in a trivia game. Well, I saw the movie and I was super excited, but afterwards I was a little disappointed. Why? Because it had the same structure as almost every other Marvel movie. I can't deny that their formula works. If it's not broke, why fix it? But it still gets a wee bit stale sometimes. The formula goes as follows: introduce villain that does something horrible. Introduce sarcastic hero. Hero learns stuff through a horrible ordeal and becomes a rookie of their newfound powers. Hero meets villain and loses once but survives. Hero does something grand. Hero fights villain and wins even though the win seems like they've been blessed a tad by the screenwriter gods.

And yet, I keep going back for more! Ugh, what is wrong with me? lol.

But it got me thinking about my own writing, because I realize that all authors have a writing style and formulas to drive their narrative. Who am I to complain? Still, in order to keep things "fresh," it's great to try out new things. I've been working on a couple of ideas that I hope you'll love, and we'll certainly see. I'll talk about them more in the next post which will be in...January of 2019. I'm kidding! I'm trying to write a LOT sooner than that. Still, don't be afraid to shoot me an email and kick me in the butt once in a while if I take too long. We're in this together!

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Being a Parent



For anyone that doesn't know by now, I'm having a second baby! I'm really excited, but of course, me being me, it also helps me to focus and take a second look at certain areas of my life. The same thing happened with my first child. As soon as I found out that he was being born, everything was given another look. 
Suddenly, life wasn't about me and my wife. It was about looking to the future and what I wanted for him. It was strange, not being able to change the things I didn't like on my own, but suddenly, with a child on the way, I was given the strength. It wasn't easy, and my life is completely different now than it was then, but it's for the better in every way. There's a reason why my son's middle name is Lysander (meaning he who is free). I want him to be free. Of drama and hardship and bondage. I want him to look at life as an opportunity and a wonderful thing to be cherished in every way. 
And I think it's working so far. I absolutely love him, and almost every day I'm telling him how he is one of my favorite people in the whole world. He's funny, witty, handsome, energetic, smart and awesome. One moment we're play fighting, and in the next, we're having a conversation about life. Sure, he's only four, so his outlook might be a little different, but it's nice that we can just talk like that. No matter what happens in life, I will be there for him. 
So now, I have a second child on the way, and it brings to light the few things that I would like to change. They are minor things, but there are there nonetheless, and I think it only brings to light the beauty of parenthood. As human beings, we can often be selfish, thinking only of ourselves and not considering another person's side. But being a parent forces us to evaluate what we're doing every day. This child before me is not just a duty. He is literally looking to me for guidance and assistance, and I need to know that I'm steering him right. Sometimes that means making some hard decisions. To this day, I only have one regret in my life, and even then, the result has been bittersweet, not entirely bad. I feel like that's a good thing for my son and my future child. To have far more victories than failures. 
I am once again on the cusp of change, and I'm excited for it. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Storytelling 101

I don't fancy myself a great storyteller in some aspects. One of the reasons is that I have often said that i don't believe in original ideas anymore, only original combinations of ideas. As the old saying goes, "There is nothing new under the sun," and I'm inclined to agree. Sure, the world changes a bit. New technology and what not. But for the most part, the world seems pretty cyclical. There will always be times of war and times of peace. Companies will be born and fail, empires rise and fall. We are are all essentially part of a living, breathing organism that has its ups and downs. 
So when I think of stories, I realize that someone else may have come up with the idea I had, it's just that perhaps they didn't write it down, edit it, publish it, and market it to the masses. Here are the two fundamentals to get you started if you're ever thinking of writing a story. 
1.) Criticize your idea, asking yourself if you've read or heard of something like it before. If so, then add your own spin or twist to it to make it yours. 
2.) Publish.
The second part is key because the main thing keeping people from seeing if their ideas have any merit is simply executing. You can edit and revise a manuscript for twenty years, waiting for that perfect moment, but little did you know that someone with the same idea as you published a book that's similar a decade ago and they're a blockbuster success. We are not entitled to anything, and the world waits for no one. Hard work almost always beats talent so oftentimes, the main enemy is yourself when it comes to your and your success. 
And success means many things. It could be having a friend hear your story being told. It could be finishing that chapter you've put on hold for several months. Whatever that victory is, achieve it and then strive for the next. Eventually, you will have accomplished what you've set out to do. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Keep Calm and Chill

One of the reasons I love where I'm living currently is that the people in general don't seem to waste a ton of energy worrying about things that aren't under their control. There's not a whole lot of "Mind your own business" phrases being thrown around because people are naturally doing it. They are calm, slow to conflict and drama, and overall moral. They don't worry about a whole lot because there's no point in doing so. They live their lives simply and as a result, there's not a whole of negative.
This doesn't mean negative things don't occur. The occasional accident. Death in the family. Sickness. But it doesn't last long because their lives are essentially complete. Sure, it would be nice to have more money or go on more vacations. But that's how everyone feels. As far as everyday living goes, there's peace and comfort, and really, that's all a human being needs. 
I love this life so much because of its simplicity. 
And it's part of the reason why I am in awe over how different my life was only a few short years ago, back when I was on the East Coast. Life was busier, people were a lot more irritable, and morality was kind of whimsical. People would have clearly defined notions on how they should live their life, and they demanded those notions to be respected, but then, funny enough, they would try to force their views on others, believing the way they lived was the perfect and right way. It irked them that people didn't live the way they do. 
Everything is just so different now.
Did you know that I used to belong to a super strict christian denomination? I still spend time with some people of the same faith, but it's so different now. They care about me, but they don't take it upon themselves to save my soul. They're too busy worrying about themselves and their walk with God. If I'm not in church, they don't think that I'm losing my way. They trust that I know what I'm doing, and if I am "backsliding" or "losing my mind" and the countless other things Christians tend to say..they leave it in God's hands.  I found it funny that in my old life, people would get so concerned when people around them missed church but then they would get ecstatic themselves whenever church was cancelled. So strange.
Life is so different. 
The most concerning things I have to worry about on a daily basis is whether I should write during the day or night, and checking the weather to see if I can go outside in the backyard. Especially if I can grill. I LOVE grilling. 
Sure, I can get depressed over the state of the world, but I can calmly do my part to help and then live my life. The world will never be perfect. There were tons of end of the world predictions for September and here we are in October. People are worried about Trump becoming president but I have faith in humanity (though they surprise me more and more). Do I need more money? Again, it would be nice, but it's not serious. I'm not stressed. I'm not trying to please others just so that they have peace of mind. I'm making more decisions that I know will better my life and conscience and not doing things because people think I'm supposed to be doing it. 
I guess I'm just keeping calm and chilling. 
And you should do it too.
See what I just did right there?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Phoenix Rises

I have died many times in this life. Perhaps not physically, but certainly emotionally, financially, spiritually, and psychologically. Each time I stood before my adversary or trial at the end though, it was with a smirk on my face, knowing that the next strike would destroy me. And it most certainly would. The pain is usually so great that that I have to question everything that I ever was and am. I wonder why I am at this crossroad, and if this truly is the end.
It never is. Because I am soon reborn. The moment the last of the ashes hit the ground, a light within them begins to hum like an ember, glowing in intensity until I am once again aware. I am not the same person I once was, and I love it. 
I am stronger than before, and though I mean no harm to anyone, and I never want to fight, whoever or whatever decides to come my way should be afraid. Very afraid.
I am not one to boast, but I will set the record straight here. I am certainly a lover, not a fighter. When I was growing up, I was a people pleaser. Though there were a few minor excursions (like I lied about some things when I was little), I always tried to turn myself around. Whomever I met, I tried to become that person in a sense. I had this notion in my head that if I conformed to society to the very core of my being, then I would have a great life. I would be rewarded. Everyone would be my friend. How beautifully naive I was.
I learned that the world took advantage of the kind and revered the proud and arrogant. Hard workers were run into the ground while the lazy were given passes. Though I saw these unusual injustices, I still kept my mouth shut and trudged along. Surely I would escape such fates. Of course, I was wrong.
I died spiritually once. Various churches showed me the hypocrisy of man. I was told that people are people and to not concentrate on the faults of their members, until I saw that even the intentions weren't pure. What is a doe-eyed young man supposed to do then? Do I follow along blindly even if I now know the truth? If the very people that I once revered are now telling me to my face what their motives are like a villain giving a monologue. In that moment, they know that I am to be ostracized, so why not reveal their hand? If I say anything that is contrary to the status quo within the confines of the church, I'll be deemed as crazy or influenced by the devil. I gain some freedom, but it comes at a price.Knowledge indeed brings sorrow, but with knowledge also comes power, and when I pick myself up from the dust of my spiritual death, my focus is sharpened. I no longer care about what human beings are telling me when it comes to God. I keep my focus on the scriptures, my prayers, and those that are saying things that make sense. It is comforting to find people that are able to give me answers to questions, and not just shut them down in their infancy. I am now very optimistic, but painfully realistic.
I died financially once. I once believed that the perfect track in life was to get good grades in school, go to college, get a career, get a house, and so on and so on. After all, that is what everyone was saying. Funny enough, I didn't examine the lives of the adults around me enough. It didn't dawn on me that having a college degree didn't equal success. I stayed the course, and it didn't go well for me. I graduated from a state University with a Bachelor's degree in English. Though I had decent grades, a great resume, and applications given to many places, I ended up working at the Olive Garden for a year and  a half. Not exactly what I went to college for.
I eventually taught English for a high school, but it was in an inner city district in which lay offs were the norm. I was laid off every summer, with the expectation that I would be called back right before school started back up in the fall. One year, I learned that I wouldn't get a call, and so I now found myself unemployed, even though I had just began going for my Master's degree, expecting that where I was, I would always be. Teaching was to be my career, but it was not meant to be. But I'm grateful for this test, because if it didn't happen, I wouldn't have fought to become a full-time writer and accomplish my dream. I will detail the particulars some other time, but needless to say, my time on unemployment was very well spent. In less than six months, I went from broke to being able to pay all my bills and more off of my writing. It took everything I had, and daily I would have to renew myself, telling myself not to cry and to keep trying. I'm now in my fourth year doing what I love, and my wife doesn't have to work unless she wants. I am grateful everyday for what I have, and I value hard work more than ever. 
I died psychologically once. I went through an ordeal with family that made me question everything I believed in. Though there was plenty I wanted to say on the matter before us but I stayed as frail and humble as possible in order to preserve the relationship. I needed to get my point across, but I didn't want to be disrespectful. Not after all these individuals did for me. But in the end, I had to make a decision, and it ended up being the right one for my life. I am a different person because of it. A little more assertive. A little wiser. A little more mature. I learn that family and friends are what you make of them. Like my set career path, or my spiritual path, I learn that you can alter these courses to become the person you need to be. I surround myself with as much positive energy as possible, and it pays off in droves.
I died emotionally recently. I questioned a lot. Who I was. Where I was headed. What it all meant. But now I feel renewed. It's making me appreciate those I have around me even more, and I realize that this episode is only a drop in the bucket compared to the rain that will pour down in life. I'm done trying to hide my tears in the rain. I now feel stronger than ever. Because if I can die financially, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, what is left? I feel invincible, for nothing short of physical death can take me now. 
I've always looked at life as a test, and one great thing my father taught me was that when you go through a trial, you will be doomed to repeat it until you learn the lesson. It's time to move forward and see the bigger picture. It's time to knock on the door of my enemies and smile as I reveal that their finishing blow was meaningless. They didn't realize that I can't really die. I am a phoenix. I will rise again, and even if I should be killed physically, my written words will live on. My characters will continue to tell my story, and collectively, they are me. 
James is my fear of the unknown. Catherine is my sense of duty. Aidan is my anger. Lydia is my pain. Vincent is my cunning, and Echo is my love song for those that I've left behind (oh, that's right, you haven't met her just yet!). Anyways, Lysander is my innocence and Kyran is my darkness. Remi is who I want to grow to be someday, and the list goes on and on. 
So yes, I will boast this one time. I will say to life one more time...you didn't win. You didn't win. You keep throwing this stuff at me, and the trials keep getting bigger, but every single time, I get even more powerful than before. My voice gets louder. My wisdom grows. I can't die. Don't you get it yet? And the more I talk to other survivors like me, the more immortals I meet like myself. And Life...seriously, if you're having this much trouble killing me, how are you going to take down two of us? Three? Several? A whole people? We will meet. We will exchange ideas. We will conquer you, and all of your puppets. We will live on, and show others that they don't have to settle for less. You can knock us down, but then we get back up. Someday you'll understand, or you'll burn under our collective might. 
I am a Phoenix. I am an Immortal. 
And if you're one too, let's talk. We've got a lot of work to do. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Loss


In case you want to listen to what I'm listening to while you're reading, since I was listening to this while I was writing. Warning: I wouldn't necessarily go out listening to all of his music since some can be vulgar, but I particularly like this song. It's about the loss of a loved one. 
Anyways, here are my thoughts recently...
I don't understand this world.
And I'm not talking about why people in third world countries are going hungry, or why people commit heinous crimes and acts. I'm not talking about why there is suffering in the world, or why children die so young. In a way, I get that. I understand balance. You can't have pain without pleasure, suffering without relief. The good and the bad. Love and hate. One simply cannot exist without the other and so when people ask why there is so much suffering in the world, I don't look at it as some evil concept. I see it as necessary.
No, what I don't understand are human beings in general. 
We are highly intellectual creatures, but we choose to hurt others. We betray without remorse and lie and manipulate without regard to how it affects someone else. It's all about the self, even though without others...we literally die on all levels. No one can survive alone. And yet, we seek to dominate our fellow man while beginning to be respected, loved and admired at the same time. I'm sick of it. I am. 
Forgive me. There is a point to this.
What I mean to say, is that it's not death that scares me, whether it is of myself or another. Death is a natural part of life. It's beautiful in the sense that someone has completed their cycle for better or worse. The suffering that has plagued their thoughts and body has ceased to be, and no matter what one's view of the afterlife is, in that moment, that precise moment...there is peace. There is stillness. There is equilibrium. 
Death means little to me. It is sad to watch, especially when it greatly affects someone close to them, but it is a part of life. That fact doesn't change. 
To me, loss...true loss is when you lose someone close to you, and they are still alive. By my count, I have lost four people. They are all still alive, and as far as I know, they are doing well. But it's still strange to think of how important they were to me in my life, and now, for one reason or another, they no longer are. There are reasons why our relationships are over, but I won't get into the specifics out of respect to all of them.
What I will say is that I do not hate them. Their loss hurt at the time, but each of them also added to who I am today. I embraced the positive, and rejected the negative of whatever they sent my way. I am stronger because of the trials we went through together, and I hope they feel the same way. I am not bitter, but I am optimistic. I'd like to think that someday, we will meet again along life's road and sit down for a conversation. There will be no hard feelings. It will just be two people with opposing views enjoying a cup of tea and catching up. Then we will stand up at the end of the long conversation, and say good-bye to each other amicably. Is the rekindling of a relationship possible? Of course. But given that people rarely change, it is unlikely. 
Still, there would be a sense of closure that could not be achieved in the heat of the moment. I think that particular closure will happen, but I don't live my life in anticipation of it. Again, I have taken in the positive, and rejected the negative. Our relationships were severed because of the negative, but I don't look it as a bad thing necessarily. We are all different, and what works for one person, just doesn't work for another. Not all human beings are meant to be in love with each other, but we can respect each other. 
I just hope that wherever those four people are, they are happy. That our parting has added to their life and not taken away. That they aren't bitter. That there is no ill-will towards them. There is a saying: "Where there's life, there's hope." I used to look at that quote as, as long as the person you had a conflict with is still alive, there is still time to repair the relationship. 
I don't see it that way anymore.
To me, I've already gotten over their loss. To me, it as if they are already gone. Not to sound mean, but it's like they've already passed. To me, "where there's life, there's hope" means now that regardless of the trials and tribulations that come to us in life, there is time for us to change, love, mature, and become a better person. To put our stamp on the lives of our loved ones and the world. To inspire and encourage others. To instill seeds that won't even germinate for generations. Because I and those other people are still in the land of the living, there is hope for me to change (if I'm wrong), and there's hope for them (if they are wrong).
I can't have a relationship with those that I feel have already died in my life. But I could with those that are alive now. They may look the same, walk the same, have the same name and do the exact same things on a daily basis, but their personalities have changed. That person isn't dead. They are very much alive, and I can talk to that person. As long as the sins and burdens of the past are left where it belongs. As long as we, as two adults, can move forward with the best of intentions and actions in mind, who knows what will happen in this strange life. 
But for now, I do what any person does with loss after adequate time to grieve has gone by. I laugh. I cry. I enjoy life and spend time with the loved ones around me. I work hard and play hard. I seek to grow, and I keep looking to the future while being content with the present. 
But every once in a while, I stop. And I go the proverbial graves of those I lost, and I bow my head in a moment of silence. I recall the good times and reject the bad, only focusing on the negative when it's to learn from my mistakes and theirs. I open my eyes, leave a flower on the soil and then walk away, never looking back. 
For I still have much work to do on myself, and I can't waste too much time on mulling over what if's, and whether I will see the dead resurrected again. Where there's life, there's hope. 

A tribute to her

There's this saying that people can't change the world, and yet, that can't be true, because I know someone that changes my world everyday. It's so strange. I'm just walking around aimlessly about my day, thinking about what task I have to complete next or where I'm headed tomorrow, when I see her. 
You see, my wife casts spells on me like a master sorcereress. She enhances my visions and floods my senses with her presence. The world is brighter. The colors are more vivid. Her laugh forces me to smile and her words hypnotizes me. I am enraptured. I am gone. I am happy. 
A peace descends like a blanket falling over my body as my head hits the pillow. Reality is cast aside like a plate of leftovers that stayed out on the counter for too long, and I embrace my dream girl. We have been together for over a decade but it feels like we just met. I listen to her thoughts on different topics with an insatiable hunger. I take a dip in the pools of her blue eyes, an oasis that I get lost in habitually and happily. I say little, but my heart is on the verge of collapse. I tell her I love her, and I cringe because the words have been used by so many others before. Others that have cast the words out into the world like a fishing line with no bait, hoping for a bite.
I research different languages. I look up other ways that I can say, "I love you," so that I can portray how I adequately feel. I fail. The closest I can get to is, "Te Amo," meaning "I want you." But saying it aloud makes me look silly, as I don't know Spanish, and I'm probably saying it wrong. But I still remember the words, because it says more than "I love you." It says that I don't just need her in my life. It says that I still find her unbelievably sexy. It says that I have found my soulmate. 
It also says more than how I think of her. She is a fantastic mother, but motherhood does not define her. Her gender does not define her, nor does her race or her any of the superficial traps that people fall into. She just is. She instills in my son strength and independence while showing him that there are women in the world that can be treated with the utmost respect. He shows her that there are women worthy of his brilliance. He shows her that when he finds someone to love someday, he will have to rise to her level, and not the other way around. 
He sees that marrying your best friend is possible because his Papa has already done it. Like saying "I love you," this is more than words. He sees how the first person his Papa wants to spend time with when he's free of his work is his Mama. He sees them hitting each other playfully as they joke and play, holding each other like an elderly couple on a front porch swing and glancing at each other longingly when the other isn't looking. I pray that he will be as happy as I am one day. 
Every day my world is changed by her, and soon, reality becomes the strange existence. Drama is weird and conflict is foreign. Peace, happiness and fulfillment of the heart becomes normal. People tell us what our relationship is. They talk in the shadows about our love. They wonder if such a thing could exist. 
They only confuse me.
Because I myself think about them too. I wonder why they settle in life. I wonder why it isn't finding your soulmate or nothing at all. I wonder...and then I stop wondering, because my love has just walked into the room, and her smile reminds me that I am not part of their world. 
Life comes to tear us apart, trying to label us as doomed star-crossed lovers. But we never lose. We have harnessed our powers. I am wind and she is fire. Whatever comes our way, she ignites the flames and I blow it in the face of our enemies. We are a tornado on fire. She is my warrior Princess, and I am her powerful, noble Knight. We slay our dragons between kisses.
I understand now why there are old couples that die minutes apart from each other. I now know it means to exchange hearts and souls and give it to another with no stipulations or expectations, and I am blessed with his elusive knowledge. 
Te Amo, mi esposa. 
You make me so happy.