I’s Been Tagged!

Gail Delaney was nice enough to include me in her Blog Hop. Well, sweet talked me into it. Promise of cookies, I believe were spoken of, or my brain just mentioned cookies and I latched onto the idea. Either way, I want cookies. Oreos would be nice or homemade chocolate chip and walnut cookies. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Gail sent me four questions that would let you, my readers, know a little bit more about me. Like I don’t spill my guts here on a regular basis anyway. Any Hoo, here are four things about me and my writing you might not know. Before we get to me, check out Gail’s answers on her blog. Click on her name and there you go. Gail Delaney, who just so happens to write some amazing Science Fiction when she isn’t tagging me to do these blogs.

1) What are you working on?

Now? A farmer’s tan from working in the yard. Oh, you mean writing. I’m in the process of finishing the second book in my Scrolls of Eternity series, Storms of Chaos. In the first book, Rebirth, I introduced Patrick Hughes and his alter ego, Horus, son of Osiris. After defeating Sutekh, the Egyptian god of evil, Patrick now has to deal with an invasion from Asgard. This book ups the danger and the fun. Not only is Patrick fighting Woden, himself, but he’s got Thor, Loki, and the Migard Serpent to tackle. Things are definitely getting interesting for my favorite superhero. Maybe, a little too interesting.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

A genuine love for superheroes, and over thirty-five years of experience in the genre. Aside from that, I’m a superhero myself. No, really I am. Super Jmo, able to leap missed deadlines in a single bound.

3) Why Do you Write What You Write?

The answer is so simple, I hate to say it. I write what I do because I love what I write. I don’t try to be more than I am. I never jump into genres I know nothing about. The old adage rings true. Write what you know. I make an addendum to that. Write first and foremost what you love. When you do, it shows and your readers have as much fun reading your books as you do writing them.

4)How Does Your Process Work?

Not very well. I’m easily distracted. That said, my distractions often lead to some great ideas that I turn into parts of my book. Seriously, they do. I believe when you take the time to read my books, you will see I spend a lot of time watching History Channel, especially Ancient Aliens. I am also an avid reader of just about anything. Life experiences are the best muses, even if you live them vicariously through television and history books. So I advise you to take a wandering path in your writing. Sometimes it ends up to be the right one to take.

Okay that’s me this week, but before I wander off, I am about to introduce you to three friends, who also happen to be amazing writers. This is also me nominating them to continue this Blogging-o-fun. Check out their blogs and see how they answer their four questions. Go out on a limb and find something new and exciting waiting for you.

Have a great week and Happy Reading!

Jordan Bollinger, I grew up reading classic mysteries and watching ‘film noir’. All I wanted was to grab a gat and go on adventures with Phillip Marlow or Sam Spade. Mom and Dad were all right with my insistence on switching from French to Russian in high school, even if the counselor wasn’t amused with my reason – I needed Russian if I was going to be an international spy. They were even okay with teaching me to shoot. However, they frowned on me spending time in smoky bars with fast guys or shady characters. By dreaming up my own adventures, I could live vicariously without the worry of being grounded. Those fantasy worlds led me to writing down all those stories swirling around in my head. So get ready world. Bollinger, Jordan Bollinger is here to sweep you off your heartstrings one bullet at a time.

http://jordanbollinger.blogspot.com/

Internationally known author, Grace Augustine, grew up in Northern Montana. Her current project, The Acorn Hills Series, features a close group of friends, life issues and romance for the over 50 crowd. Books 1 & 2 of the series are available for sale through Createspace, Amazon, and Kindle. Book 3 of the series and a holiday novella will be available in mid November. Grace lives in central Iowa and is a part time floral designer.

www.graceaugustine.weebly.com

JANET W. BUTLER couldn’t decide whether to be a musician or a writer … so she’s elected to do both. After earning her degree in Music Theory from Roosevelt University, she married a percussionist, had a couple of babies, sang in a madrigal group, discovered the world of opera choruses … and scribbled stories, something she’s been obsessive about since the age of ten. Presently a member of Catholic Writers Guild, she counts among two of her biggest thrills winning the Golden Heart in 1998 for her traditional romance, RAINMAN’S BRIDE, and both serving as vocal coach and singing the role of Mother Abbess in a local production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in the spring of 2001. Formerly of the western suburbs of Chicago, she’s a transplant to northeast Indiana at present, where she lives with her husband, Patrick, daughter, Jessica, and Cassie and Gilbert, SRC (Spoiled Rotten Cats).

http://www.catholicwriterchick.blogspot.com/

Discovering Life, The Universe and Everything…

After last week’s blog, I’ve found myself at a crossroads. I truly don’t know what I’m doing. I am proud of the books I’ve written. They are my children, my life in so many regards. But, I have begun to wonder if they are just that – children. The optimistic ramblings of an author who still sees the youthful exuberance inherent in all things, but one who has denied a part of himself.

Let’s face it, authors wear many faces. We become that which we create. Or, on the other hand, does who we are define that which we create? If the last is the case, am I entering a new stage of who I am? I have always been good at hiding the truth of who I am. I don’t even know if I know who I am. I have inklings, spare moments where reality allows me a view of what goes on inside my mind.

That’s the thing about self-professed comedians. We get a good look at humanity and it scares us. We see all the faults we deny on a daily basis. We see the base injustices of who we are and what we do as a whole. Not the singular we, but the plural we that is humanity. Now during the process we see some pretty harsh truths about ourselves too. That’s why we laugh and have the ability to make others laugh. It’s a defense mechanism. We either laugh or the tears will swell inside us and explode. Perhaps that is the reason so many comedians seem to self-destruct. We can’t take the truths we see. Some dull the truth with drugs and alcohol. Others just seem to try their best to passively kill themselves with activities; escapes to make the pain go away.

Me, I have hope and faith. Sure, I’ve got my dark times. My book Immortally Damned is my attempt to vocalize that darkness is forever balanced by light. Evil must have goodness, otherwise how can it define itself as evil? The point I’m rambling toward is that to be a ‘comedian’ you first have to understand the human condition. You have to observe it, live it, dissect it to its core. Only then can you give voice to the comedy of existence. Dante named his three book opus, The Divine Comedy, but it takes actual living to reflect back and see the truth. It is a comedy because the book presents truth and makes it palatable so the reader can grasp the concept. This in no way suggests you should go out and read the books, but hey, if you do, enjoy.

One of the greatest comedies I’ve ever read is ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole. Why was it so funny to me? Because it perfectly laid bare the human condition, the sadness of existing but never truly living TRULY, true to yourself, etc. You get the picture. The secret is knowing, or at least exploring, the concept of who you are and somehow staying true to that ever evolving knowledge. Being human is an evolutionary experience. We live. We grow. Along the way, we become something totally different than who we thought we would be. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is something all of us must face. Because, how many of us really became a cowboy, fireman, or astronaut, like we wanted to be when we were nine or ten.

Personally, I wanted to be a Jedi like Luke’s father before him. Instead, I became a forty-five year old man with a beautiful wife who loves me, with a daughter who is my proudest accomplishment, and finally, a grandfather to a beautiful baby boy. Those things are the important parts of who I am, but I am also other things. I’m a geek who loves comics, an author, an artist, and sometime sculptor of nothing in particular. What else am I? I am a believer in God. A Christian who understands that Jesus taught us first to love, and second to never judge others lest we be judged. I am a man who loves completely. If you are my friend, I love you like family. If I tell you I will do something, you can bet I will do it. Well, except meet a deadline on time. Can’t seem to get the knack of doing that one.

Maybe, I’ve digressed but by stating the above, I can now see I am entering into a new stage of me. Over the last few months my inner muse has been dissatisfied with itself. It and I want something more than what I have done up until this point in my life. This in no way says the books I’ve written aren’t good or worthy of pride on my part. I am proud of each and every one. Just because they’re funny doesn’t mean they have no meaning. I am skilled enough as an author to embellish part of myself into them and express my thoughts on who I am and what humanity might be into my characters and the plots I toss them into. Again, I say, comedy is the ultimate expression of being human and understanding it enough to show you the reader a part of yourself and saying it’s off to laugh because we all do it, or have lived through it. It’s okay to laugh because you survive the little tragedies and become stronger because of the bigger ones.

As a result of all my self examination, I am no longer in denial of who I am or willing to hide behind a mask to express myself. Sure, masks will be involved because a total expression of who I am would leave me too naked to stand the scrutiny. A naked me is something neither of us really wants to see up close and personal. No, I would simply like to explore this newly discovered aspect of grownup me through my writing. I would like to see if I can be myself in another way, if that makes any sense. I am not abandoning my comedy. I could never see it happening. Comedy is part of who I am, but there is a serious side, I normally let very few people see. If you remember above, I said authors wear many faces.

If that is true and not just some concept I’m clinging to in a vain hope of not being crazy, which we all know I am, I have embarked on a new quest. A book that explores the human condition from the serious side of my brain. Something offering The Divine Comedy that is humanity. A search for who we are, both individually and as a whole. The search for the truth of good and evil. The ultimate quest for what is the purpose of being human.

I think Douglas Adams summed it up best with this. The question of Life, The Universe and Everything. That’s all any of us hope to grasp before we slip into whatever comes next. If we’re lucky we can look back, smile and chuckle. Yeah, it hurt at the time but I got over it. If we’re actually able to do that, maybe growing up wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

That isn’t to say I plan to totally leave behind my inner child. After all, it’s part of who I am and what’s the fun in being an adult, if I can’t swing a plastic lightsaber every once in awhile.

Passion in Reading

Last night I found something that I had forgotten. No! Something I had lost. Forgotten would imply, this something I had just misplaced on a shelf or got shoved under the couch until a funky smell alerted me to its presence. Lost fits the situation much better, and adds to the tragedy. Because, that is what this is, a tragedy of epic proportions. I am not being overdramatic, or any other word you may later decide to assign to me. The sad thing, I hadn’t realized I lost this important miracle of life. It just disappeared, and I simply dismissed this segment of who I was. Oh, it must not have been important to begin with, if I could allow that to happen. To some out there, it isn’t important. That is a tragedy almost as great as my own.

 

Okay, guy. You’ve rambled on for a paragraph. Instead of waxing poetic or whatever, why don’t you get down to the point of this so I can get back to surfing the net? I took the liberty of speaking for you there. Hope you don’t mind.

 

So, what is this mystical thing I’ve lost?

 

I lost the passion for reading. Somewhere in the midst of becoming a writer, I lost the ability to be passionate about what got me started in the first place. Sure, I read. A day doesn’t go by without me reading something. But, that in no way implies passion. I have read to learn, to grow, okay, mostly to escape, but until last night, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so passionate about what I was reading, that I despised myself for needing to go to sleep. So passionate, I willed my mind, eyes and body to keep going until I fall back into bed orgasmic with the heady nuances of ‘The End’ coursing through my system.

 

I honestly don’t know if it is a sign of getting older, or that in becoming a writer I turned away from the magical nature of the written word to examine the mechanics of writing. I forsook the amazement of reading each next sentence to dissect how it was composed and the natural progression of what came next. Did the author succeed in fulfilling the requirements of the ever evolving plot? Were they true to the characters they themselves created? Ultimately, could I have done it better? You see where I’m going with this? I took away my joy of reading in attempting to become a something more than what I was. An author.

 

I could just be over thinking this, but I honestly couldn’t remember the last time something sparked me to read way into the night. I have read some great books, truly amazing books by skilled and gifted authors. I don’t want you to think I haven’t. This is all about something deeper than simply reading great books. This is about finding a book that touches you on some level like no other.

 

Years later, I can still remember the first book to capture me like this, The Lord of the Rings. This was the ‘One’, as they say. It opened me to the magic inside my own head. I didn’t just see the words inside my head. I was transported into Middle Earth! I walked beside Frodo. I ran from the Nazgul. I fought back to back with Strider. I was there when Mordor finally fell. No other magic can dispel the emotions I still feel over the experience even thirty some odd years later.

 

It would be years before something hit me like that again. It wasn’t the first book in a series but the second book in the Vampire Chronicles that trapped me. I dismissed ‘Interview with the Vampire’ as an okay read. It held my attention, but wasn’t what I’d call reason to jump up and down. Maybe, it was because, I was left ragged and bleeding when I finished reading it. I felt violated by the emotions it opened up inside me. The pain. The isolationism of the emotional backlash of the wounds the book released. But, in my head, I couldn’t process what I’d read. I closed it off and nearly stopped there. With ‘The Vampire Lestat’, I read because I was bored and it was there. By the time I put it down, ‘The Queen of the Damned’ was a quivering block in my hand as I rolled back the cover to begin. The complicated mythology of who these vampires were had drawn me completely in. I wanted to know more. I thirsted for more as much as Lestat did to understand who he was.

 

The books quested as I did, to understand the question of our souls, who humanity was, who God was. Did evil define us? Did a sense of honor and goodness define us? Or, did we define ourselves? They were all questions I struggled with, and Anne Rice captured the crux of it so eloquently. I will gladly, and proudly admit to reading all her books, Vampires, Witches, Mummies, the subject didn’t matter. I devoured them. ‘The Feast of All Saints’ perhaps touched me the most, because it wasn’t about the darkness of monsters, but about the darkness of the monster that is man. Whatever the reason, Anne Rice gave voice to my passion to understand myself. She gave me the confidence to try other writers to search out more on the subject.

 

Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, and ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’, had similar affects on who I perceived myself to be and how I saw the world around me. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories kept on the self examination. ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ still stands as one of my favorite stories of all time. Through the years, I’ve found one or two to give me mental chills, but as I’ve grown older, they’ve grown farther and farther apart. I’ve grown jaded perhaps, thinking all the magic has departed from the world and there truly is nothing new under the sun.

 

Certainly, as an author, I have found it hard to discover originality. I have only been able to twist the established to fit my own outlook. Struggling to find Bigfoot among the skyscrapers perhaps has made me jaded. With age, I have seen very little magic in this world that once held only wonder. I have been left with only reality to give me comfort.

 

You may find all this ironic coming from a guy who mostly writes comedy, but comedy is giving voice to the fears inside us. Making them safe to dismiss. Robert Heinlein himself wrote, Man is the ape that laughs at itself. I’m paraphrasing there, but you get the point. My point is this, at what age does the magic end? When do we individually stop searching for passion, and settle for simple escapism in our reading, in our existence? Apparently, I can’t remember, but it happened to me.

 

As if coming full circle, it took Anne Rice to show me I lost it. I in no way believe she wrote ‘The Wolf Gift’ just to remind me passion did exist, but it achieved the result just the same. Passion should never just be a word to describe a human condition of lust. That so belittles the word. Passion should be about living our loves to their fullest. Finding meaning in what we enjoy.

 

Otherwise, are we enjoying it in the first place?

 

Think on that, and please consider this. If I couldn’t find passion in reading, had I lost the passion in writing? Considering how much I’ve struggled to give voice to imagination over the past year, I’d say so. Before I wrap this up and leave you to ponder my thoughts, I invite you… No, if you are in the same boat as I am with your creativity, I beg you to step back and rediscover the meaning of what drove you to create in the first place. Don’t moan about brick walls, or missing muses. Step away, and find the magic inside you. Then, maybe you can let it out and be magic for those around you.

 

Because quite frankly, this world needs magic right now. It needs passion. It needs joy. Most of all, it needs people willing to open the minds of others to all three of those things. I’m not saying I’m one of those people, but if you’ve read this and can find some spark of one of them inside you, I might not go so far as to call myself a magician, but I will put on a pointy hat and call myself Harry Potter for awhile. Pics may be made available upon confirmation of epiphany.

 

Until next time, Happy Reading.