Happy, Happy, Create!

Creativity is a multidimensional exercise. I’ve found that many authors have more than one creative outlet. Singing, drawing or painting, knitting, and the list can go on forever. I’m not saying that people who don’t write aren’t creative, because they are. Each of us have our own unique ability to shine. I played sports, but was never talented in that area. My brothers were. I always lived inside my own head. That gives a lot of time to develop vivid imaginations and other avenues to express ourselves when introversion makes it hard to voice our true selves to others. To the other extreme, I found being a class clown allowed me to talk without saying a whole lot about myself. Sneaky, but it helped get me through life.

With a birthday looming just around the corner, I’ve come to realize that the parts I locked away still work. No, not those parts, you narsty pervs. My hands have remembered how to paint. I am redefining my view of the world and giving others the chance to see it as I do. My writing has in no way taken a backseat to painting. I always used the excuse you can’t serve two masters as my excuse not to paint. Now, I see that just won’t hold water. Since the first of the year, I’ve begun five paintings. Completed two of those and hope to finish another soon. Writing? Well, I’m back to blogging. This being lucky number three with forty-nine more to go this year. I’ve completed 25K on Scrolls Book Three. More importantly, I’ve rediscovered the ability to be happy. That being the greatest accomplishment of 2016.

But how does happy figure into being creative? Simple. Please take a seat while I attempt to explain. Creativity is a slave to balance. An author or any other person who opens themselves to others through supplying art to the world must be in control of their world. Yes, we’re control freaks. The point is, we take the chaos of our imaginations and our lives and turn it into something palatable for people to accept. You have to be a control freak to be able to do that and in essence affect how people see themselves and their place in the scheme of things. Or, just a delusional megalomaniac. Probably both in my case. Thing is, to be creative, you have to be secure in your ability to see how you fit into the world. Happy is just the outward sign of that.

Sadly, being artistic often means your emotions are your epidermis. You love completely and totally. You grieve with every fiber of your being. You cry rivers for those you love. Your friends are your family and you would die for them. When they’re gone, you have empty spaces nothing or no one can fill. So happy is at times a hard thing to find.

When we do, we cling to it and strive to exploit every joyous moment of it. In the process we use it to open our hearts to what can be if we only believe in a dream strong enough that the dream just might become reality. That might sound crazy but remember that thanks to some amazing Science Fiction, we strive to go to outer space. We have mini computers called cell phones we use every day. Thank you Star Trek. Heck our entire present is built upon the imaginations of those who came before us.

I gladly pay homage to those whose imaginations became the movies, books, and art that kick started mine. Every word I put down on my screen and every piece of art I create is a dedication to the people I consider my inspirations. My fervent wish is that one day someone will say the same about me. Then, and only then, will I consider myself a success. Isn’t that all any of us can hope to attain?

Just to show that being creative can be fun, because I had a ball painting them. This blog will unveil my latest two creations. Ta Da! Enjoy!

Til next week. Happy Reading and be excellent to each other.

God created animals

Advertisements

Learning IS fun!

I don’t know if it is because I began reading around the time of the Bicentennial, but I love history. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library and finding books about George Washington, Paul Revere and the other Founding Fathers. As I grew up, this love continued to other avenues of history. Egypt sparked a lot of my interest in ancient history. On that I blame ‘The Ten Commandments’ coming on every Easter. Whatever the reason, I have always been a History Channel junkie.

AS a result, a lot of my inspiration comes from that love of History. A warped view of history, thanks to ‘Ancient Aliens’, mind you, but history nonetheless. A by-product of those early biographies has to be when I write, I like to include something educational. Call it a literary twofer.

Learning is not something that should end just before you’re no longer in school. The purpose of school is to teach you to think. So think! By that I mean, think for yourself. Part of that thinking is deciding what you accept to believe. Learning is a big part of that. Personal beliefs in no way give you the right to step all over others, so don’t think I’m giving you license to run over people because they don’t believe like you do. Hitler and Stalin did that and see where it got them. No, I’m asking you to go into reading with an open mind. Open minds are awesome things. They enable people to change and grow.

Science Fiction is a great enabler of change. Growing up the genre did a lot to change my mind from lockdown to hey there’s a whole universe of knowledge out there. I know you’ve probably heard a lot of authors say that they feel it is part of their jobs to entertain and educate. I think that’s true. Authors write what we know. In doing that, we subliminally let who we are influence your thinking, or not-so-subliminally as the case may be. I’m sure those nuns are beating rulers against their hands about me going down this road and the path to hell it is leading me down. They were probably right, but I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion without having 35 years of learning to tell me how wrong I’d been about things. Sad thing is that’s true.  Life is about being wrong and learning from our mistakes. Being right all the time doesn’t get you squat except so wrong you can’t see it til it’s too late.

Next month I turn 47. That is 47 years of touching hot stoves, sticking wet fingers in light sockets, picking the wrong friends, spending money like there’s a money tree in back yard, and never truly getting it right and in the process learning something from each one of those wrong turns. Granted sometimes it took me two or three times to figure it out, but I did get it eventually.

All of those wrong and right turns have gone into making me into the man and writer I am today. When I invite you into my books, it’s from the viewpoint of someone who has and is making the mistakes you have and are now. What I think makes my characters unique is they aren’t perfect and are flawed to within an inch of their lives, but they don’t give up. Like me, they try to overcome their shortcomings to become better people and through the course of their book I hope I can show their growth and maybe some of mine along the way.

That to me is the importance of never stopping to try to learn new things. If you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly growing. As long as you’re growing, you can’t truly die. You can only transcend to the next level. My heart tells me it’s that next level that things get really interesting and all the things we question daily holds the answers we fight to understand.

Now, that sounds like a story I can’t wait to read.

2016, I’m back.

It’s been awhile.

I’m not going to lie to you. That is entirely my fault. Quite frankly, I lost it. Not sure what it is, but I definitely left it in the parking lot. It is kind of painful to even think about, let alone purge from my system in this very public format. That said, I feel that is exactly what I need to do to free myself from its hold over me. Or, I could just be narcissistic and need your validation. Either way, here goes.

When I started doing this, I thought I’d know how to begin, but sitting here staring at the screen it’s all blocking up. Kind of sums up my 2015, so why shouldn’t my blog about it go the same way. Seriously though, I’m not writing this to seek your sympathy. I honestly do need to unburden myself of all this garbage that held me down last year. Part of me is hoping that in the process I might help someone else overcome the same stuff I’ve battled.

Where to begin?

2015 will forever be the year my mortality came crashing home. I began the year going to a funeral for a cousin. Not the best way to kick off a New Year. Sadly, my cousin wouldn’t be the only funeral on my plate for the year. It seemed like every three weeks I got news family or friends had passed away. Some pretty rough ones drove me to my knees over the course of the year. I can’t go into them all because I’m afraid it would take all night and my tears might short out my computer.

Still, a couple bear memorializing. My first writing partner, Deb Durham, passed away in a tragic car accident as she tried to help out a friend. Deb taught me so much about what it means to be a writer. She helped me by setting me on the path to become the writer I am today. So, even when my heart wanted to give up and hide under my bed, I didn’t. I just couldn’t, because when I write, a part of her will forever be out in the universe for all to see. What I wouldn’t give to hear her call me Goober one more time with her Texas twang.

Secondly, my good friend and comic book dealer, Clint Thomas passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Aside from feeding my comic addiction, Clint had long been a supportive friend, who would stock my books whenever I had a few to sell. He graciously became a sounding board on occasion, and a character in one of my books. We shared a love not only for comics but for the books we grew up reading. Those books inspired the stories of mine you have read and will continue to enjoy. Clint, himself, inspired so much more. He inspired me to become a writer by pushing me to be one. Clint, one day we will see each other again, and I can’t wait to hear the stories we will share.

Lastly, a week before Christmas, the world lost a shining smile that is warming heaven above. Linda Collins is the sister of my adopted sister of the heart, Susan White, who inspired the character Waterfall Woman in my Love Bites and Bite Marks novels. Linda soon became as close to me as a sister, and became a character in Bite Marks 2.  Now, the rest of my Vampire series will be dedicated to her memory. Because heaven got an angel in her, but she will forever be a muse my heart can’t deny.

I am certain that you can understand the sorrow that weighed heavy upon me. Losing one person is heart wrenching but losing nearly twelve in a year’s time would be enough to drive anyone to their knees. Trust me, I spent a good time on my knees asking why. The answer I got made perfect sense. Because we are all given a time to be born, a time to grow, a time shine, a time to live, and a time to die. But, as long as we keep love around us, our flesh may fade, but our hearts remain in those we leave behind. Sadly, this in no way takes away the pain of loss those of us left behind must deal with. That’s how I spent 2015. Dealing.

Some of that dealing was handling pain. For years I’ve suffered from neuropathy caused by a ruptured disk in my neck and from a birth defect I didn’t even know I had until ten years ago, Arnold Chiari Malformation. For those of you who have never heard of the condition, it is when the tonsils of the brain hang from the base of the skull. As you get older the condition gets worse, and is highlighted by migraines, and numbness in arms and legs. Some other nastier things happen but if you’re interested, I’ll try and remember to leave a link at the bottom, because sadly, this condition goes undiagnosed until it’s too late. A result of this, I am on more meds than I like to admit to being on. A side effect of all these meds is side effects. As my body adapted to the meds, I had been on, I had to adjust to higher doses or new meds altogether. If any of you have ever been on meds, you know they do strange and evil things that they aren’t meant to do.

Part of these side effects stopped my brain from talking to my creativity and hands. I spent a lot of restless nights staring at my laptop with words exploding in my head, but couldn’t get those words out. It drove me insane to see the movie playing but not being able to share the wonder of it with anyone. As 2016 bloomed on the horizon, my doctor and I seemed to have found a balance that is working for my creativity. I’m still not 100% but I’m getting there. Like a wise man or woman once said, anything worth having is worth fighting for. Last year a big part of me gave up. I won’t lie about it. I crawled into my hole and died. This year, I want to live.

I might have lost a lot of good people last year, but God has given me some more, not to replace them, but to complement their impact on my lives. Victor Nunely is just one. He hosts the weekly Comic Hero show on YouTube. Great stuff. Definitely check him out, if you have time. Sabrina Ruffin helped inspire a new character and book series that I hope to explore when I get caught up with my other series that fell to the side of the road last year. Lastly, Claire Chandler recently took over Clint’s Comics and is a hoot. She has made me laugh, and I can see a character with her name all over it. Along with these new voices, I have my old friends and my dear family to keep me on my toes. Let’s not forget God, who never let’s me wander from His defining love.

The point of this ramble is I’m back and if you’ll have me, I plan to be here for as long as you’ll let me come into your lives. Stock up on Oreos, the sugar free ones because apparently I’m a diabetic, too. Told you last year was a rough one, but this year…this year is going to be awesome.

Those links I promised

The Arnold Chiari Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/ArnoldChiari-malformation/119461628102885?fref=ts

Victor Nunely’s Comic Hero Channel on You Tube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etacPTgZwlk&feature=youtu.be

Claire Chandler, Clint’s Comics, because I need comics.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010923228017

 

Til next time,

Happy Reading!