A Moment to Ponder

I try to spread myself around a bit. By that I mean, I do more than simply write Romance and the occasional Young Adult. When the mood hits me, I’ve been known to write a poem or twenty.  What do I write about? Same thing I attempt to compose in my books. Emotions. Except in my poetry I don’t hide behind characters. Poetry is all about revealing your inner self, even if it is only to yourself. I think it’s also about revealing how you view your personal relationship with the world around you. in short, poetry is all about discovering yourself. As a result, of all this self discovery, I normally only share my poems with a few select group of friends.

Again, why? Maybe, it’s because I’m afraid of showing the world who I truly am. That fear limits you as an artist in some ways. A lot of ways. So today I’m throwing open my inner self to you my friends. Hope you walk away with something that might give you something to think about and maybe a voice to explain how your own heart searches to find purpose in this strange world we call home.

Sad is the times of our life,

as childhood wanes

into the light of aged musings

Give me the youth I remember,

the soft delight of shadows

across a brilliant sky

I feel the harsh sun at my back,

the gray morning of forever at my feet.

Should I bequeath myself to the inevitable?

And continue the journey,

or sit upon this throne of sorrow,

passing the memories of what should have been

across the tips of my fingers.

a childhood game remembered too late.

My head hung low

I question the fate allotted to me,

Damning the choices that brought me

To the impasse I have given to myself

in hollowness of my arrogance.

Alone I stand at the precipice,

A crossroads of decision.

With a shrunken smile I follow

the path most traveled.

Feel free to kiss the feet of the fool

Who thought everything

was but a handful of ambition away.

Too late realizing

age brings wisdom to those few

who survive the tribulation

they create in the wake of

their passing through life,

yet it does little

to change the outcome.

Life is the hand

we deal to ourselves.

 

 

Living on the Inside

A long time ago I fell in love. Not sure when, or with what, but the emotional impact was immediate and everlasting. How everlasting? Over forty years and still going strong. Have I got your curiosity piqued? I have mine and I know the answer. Yes, I am this weird in real life. What am I talking about? Reading of course. I’d have to be pretty pervy to have been in a relationship for almost as long as I’ve been alive or an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Whatever the case, I have always had a book either in my hand or close by since way before I could read one. I still have one handy if you want to know the truth.

I firmly believe that early love of books led to me being freakishly introverted. Hey, because when your best friends are fictional characters, introverted is the least of your problems. As a sickly kid, playing for the most part wasn’t embraced by my over-protective mother, so I had to experience things through the adventures in my books. Thought I did, at least. Later on I came out of that shell. Came out as much as I am able to exit my hole inside myself.

That last bit wasn’t meant to elicit sympathy. It is simply a statement of fact. Here’s the kicker. Once you’ve become an introvert, completely trusting the world to be ‘real’ isn’t going to happen. The world is the thing that sent you inside in the first place. Most of us are functioning members of society. We go to work. We show up with smiles, and seem ‘there’. Thing is, most of the time, we’re somewhere else when we’re standing right in front of you. Some of us genuinely need professional help. Heck we all probably do, but for some of us, we channel that mystical inside into worlds never before seen by mortal man or woman. I know those psychiatric types might have something to say about that statement but think on this. Without us weird out-of-our-head imagainaunts, you wouldn’t have Middle Earth, Narnia, or any number of other worlds that teach our hearts to believe in hope and magic.

I was and am one of those inside thinkers. Giving yourself totally to a world that gives pain and suffering is such a scary proposition, I honestly can’t see why anyone would want to do it. Then I remember, that world also gives love, comfort, hugs, and so many things of beauty that giving in to the need to disappear inside falls away. It might lurk and wait for an opportunity to come back out to pull us inside ourselves. That’s its job. Our job is to decide to say screw it, and give our love and faith to the world.

Artistic types are good at giving their inside to the world. How many of us listen to a song over and over because it says the things our minds are too afraid to say out loud. We look at paintings or works of art that do the same things. Books, poems, movies, even television shows, give us views into ourselves that we might otherwise miss without someone else showing us the way.

As a writer, I consider it my job to help others see that way. I live inside and rarely do I venture out. Thanks to my family, especially my beautiful wife Jenn, and the wonderful group of friends God continues to grow around me I can walk in the sunshine. More importantly, through my stories I can help others to make that same walk with me. That brings me more joy than I can express in words. As wonderful as inside can be, it’s a dark lonely place that just closes up around you. I still find myself there from time to time. Luckily, as I said, I got people who love me and won’t let me stay there for long.

I know I’m rambling but hopefully in my ramble I’ve come to the point. Writers unleash their inner selves through our stories and books. As magical as those worlds might seem, never forget how lonely the act of writing those stories can be. We might draw inspiration from the world around us, but the world inside us is where all the living really takes place. So, next time you see a writer mumbling to himself, or herself as the case may be, just be grateful they don’t have a laptop handy. Who knows where you might wake up if the power of that writer’s inside is strong enough to make our world as real as their world is to them.

Scary thought, huh?

Well don’t dwell on it too much, just enjoy the magic in my stories and who knows? Maybe one day they will be real. I’ll settle for a SyFy television series. Why be greedy about it?

Til next week, Happy Reading!

Jmo

Birthday Resolutions.

My brain has kind of been on other things today. Sleeping for the most part but that’s because of hot dog consumption and sugar free Boston Cream Pie. Yeah, and having my birthday party so all my family could be here for it. That’s right I turned another year older this week. At one time that would have sent me scurrying for under the bed, but as age has worn me down I’m less afraid of getting old, and enjoying the act of getting old. Two different things altogether so don’t think they’re one in the same.

Old implies it’s over. Getting older is all about refining the stupid out of the equation of you living. Let’s face it, you never outgrow stupid you just learn to avoid the stupid you’re used to. See, big difference. A lot of you guys do New Year’s resolutions, but shouldn’t your birthday be the time for resolutions. I’m not saying I’m going to make any. That’s just asking for failure. Don’t think I haven’t see the neighbors moving those exercise machines to their back sheds. Why would I want to go through moving something I have no intention of ever using anywhere in the first place.

No, I think the only resolutions worth making are the ones realistically you can keep. What might they be, you’re asking yourself. Okay, in my head you are. So kiss it, and let’s move on to the guts of this blog.

First off, I’m never going to let a day go by without telling the people who matter in my life, I love them. How I’m a better man for them being a part of the present, working toward my future. I honestly could not do what I do on a daily basis without each one of my family and friends lifting me up when I stumble. Without them, slowing my roll when I get full of myself. Most importantly, loving me when I can’t see much in myself worth loving. In return, they deserve all they give me and more in return.

Second off, I might not lose the weight I need, or exercise as much as I should, but that doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to be the best me I can be. Every day I am going to try to be a little better than I was the day before. I’m going to work on my flaws and make them into my strengths. I may or may not exercise if the need arises. You know? Like zombies start taking over and I need to run to my car or something. Priorities you understand.

Lastly, as a writer I’m going to try and actually write. That sounds way easier than it is. Writing is an exercise in futility most of the time. Your brain isn’t always your best friend. Sometimes it whispers doubts into your ear. Okay, that’s you doing the whispering but your brain is involved. Still, that’s not an excuse to give up. If anything, it should make you try harder. Notice I said should. The brain is a fickle thing.

Last year my brain told me I couldn’t write, and I listened to it. I shut down all production when it came to the written word. That included reading it. This year I’ve accepted a new prerogative. I’m not going to listen to my brain no matter what it tells me. Sky blue? Not on my watch! I’ll be the first to admit my brain has led me into more than one adventure titled trouble in the first degree.

But, sometimes trouble is a good thing. Trouble instigates change, which is definitely a good thing. Last year was definitely a year I’d rather not live through again, but it also made me realize that I can’t go through life thinking I can do it all myself. I need my family. I need my friends. I need God above to hold me up when nothing or nobody else can.

Even though writing is still a struggle, I am muddling through as best I can. I think it’s making me a better writer. I am not rushing to satisfy word count. I find myself slowly considering every avenue the plot might present and not settling until I find the best one to drive the story.  In the end, I hope that gives me and my readers a story worth waiting for and not just a story to fill a weekend.

I think I’ve given this whole resolution thing enough thought for one year. The Walking Dead is on, so I’m going to go escape into that and when I come out the other end, just maybe my imaginary world is the reality we can all look forward to seeing!

Til next week,

Happy Reading, my friends, and God bless you all.

Is Romance Dead? A Jmo insight

As a “Romance” novelist, I have found myself asking more and more, ‘Is Romance dead?’

Maybe, dying a slow lingering death would be closer to being the question in question. Hey, it’s not like I don’t believe in Romance. I do. Hopelessly devoted to the stuff. Romance makes me happy, but as I look out over the landscape of our society, I see emphasis on it lessening. The act of love seems to hold a lesser importance in the eyes of people. To me, feel free to tell me if I’m wrong, people care more about the immediate ‘act of love’ than the lasting emotional attachment of romantic love.

Just think about it. In the last decade or so, terms have moved away from true love, love at first sight, and the flow of romance songs to the terminology of Booty Calls, Hook Ups, and any other sayings you might have heard. As a result of all this physical dependence on what should be a purely emotional occupation, I see humanity becoming less human and more animalist. Sorry if that offends anyone, but people not caring to fall in love offends me.

Seriously, this has nothing to do with me being a Romance author and more with me being a member of the human race. Our ability to love and receive love is what makes us more evolved than any other animal on this planet. Make no mistake, we are animals. We give into our baser selves too much not to be. By giving and receiving love we rise above what we are to achieve and what we can be. That might sound sappy, but quite frankly I don’t care. I would rather offer and lose my heart than spend a lifetime wondering what all the fuss was about it.

It kinda of makes me sad to hear people talking more about hook-ups and getting one than finding that right person. I’m not just talking about guys but also women. This is where things get depressing so feel free to avert your eyes if you’re the tender sort.

The loss of Romance can only mean one thing.  Magic has truly died in our world. Dragons no longer exist except in our imaginations.  Yes, I truly believe dragons existed, unicorns too. Why because it makes me happy to think they did. But, over the course of humanity’s evolution, we’ve lost the ability to believe in anything that is not before our eyes. That being said, how far behind those things can true love be? Not far, by the looks of popular media.

Let’s face it, we are evolving. Emotion gives way to stoic dependency on reality. Reality has no place for emotions, except for hate and sadness. Those are emotions that our society can safely explain. Love? That one sits outside scientists’ ability to document and fits into their thesis about the human condition. Closest they can come is saying it’s a chemical reaction to pheromone production or electrical stimuli based solely on physical appearance. Again those with tender sensibilities turn away. I call bullshit of the highest order. There kiss it and move on scientist.

This trend does not just sadden me because as a Romance novelist ‘Romance’ is my bread and butter. That is only a small part of my heart break over it. To appreciate the magical nature of my books, you have to believe in the magic of love. To make this work a better place, you need to believe that the magic of love can change hearts and lives. More and most importantly, you NEED to believe your life can be moved and changed because someone loves you and in turn you can open yourself to loving them. Sometimes, as authors, we paint unfair expectations of what love can be. I agree totally with that. We do, but we also do something else. We open lives and hearts to expecting love. Isn’t that worth the risk of making people, women and men, believe love exists and can be magical when most of the time love escapes that quality. Still it’s out there. How can I be so sure? I have it, so know you can. I even know where it comes from. Feel free to disregard my theory if it doesn’t mesh with yours.

I believe in a God above. If that God isn’t yours, that’s okay. Mine loves you all the same. And, in my eyes, love and as a result Romance is one of the greatest gifts our heavenly Father has given us. Having an empathetic connection to one another is our connection to Him. I’m not saying romance is dying because of the loss of belief in God. I leave that to you to decide. I’m just here to present my views and give you cause to think for yourself. I would never impose my views on you. You have your experiences and beliefs to define your world.

That said, I leave you with this.

Whatever you believe, never believe without an open heart. Live with a loving heart. If you can accomplish those things, what a wonderful world it would be.

And, one I hope to be a part of.

Til next week, love out loud and as always happy reading,

  1. Morgan

Temptation!

Temptation!

Yes, we’re here today to talk about temptation! Hide the grannies and put Disney Channel on for the young’uns, because it’s about to get deep up in here. Cough, cough. Sorry my televangelist voice took over for a minute, but temptation is the oldest and best story device known to man and woman. It’s something no matter your sex, race or creed, we can all agree happens and sometimes takes over our lives.

Think I’m wrong? Well, let’s examine the evidence. The Serpent convinced Eve she wanted what God told her she couldn’t have, and as a result we’re all on a limited engagement on old planet earth. Cain wanted Abel’s glory, and as a result of not getting it, murder runs rampant all over the earth. Doesn’t stop there. David wanted Bathsheba, and her innocent hubby lost his life. Solomon wanted the Queen of Sheba, and…

Well, you get the picture. The point is as humans we are tempted everyday by something. Tempted to glance at the hot member of the opposite sex standing in line next to us at the grocery store. Tempted to eat an ice cream cone that’ll drive our blood sugar through the roof. Even the love of your life can tempt you from doing what needs to be done to spend a day of bliss with her. Think, Brad Paisley said it best. Time Well Wasted.

That is what writing is as its heart. Temptation of the highest order. The whole process is wrapped up in tempting interludes. The writer is tempted to let his imagination unfold. The characters are tempted at every turn of the screw. Eventually the reader is tempted to stay up all night to get to an acceptable ‘The End’.

Seriously, temptation is the only reason to write. An author’s imagination might get them arrested, divorced or excommunicated in the real world, but releasing it on paper eliminates the need to hire a lawyer or change denominations. Writing is a mood stabilizer. It allows your brain to eject the swirling thoughts that call it home into a less chaotic explanation of our environment and ultimately who we are. Just remember that next time you’re reading a book, you are essentially a voyeur into an author’s fantasy. Does that scare you a bit? A lot? Sometimes it should. There’s a lot of freaky deaky out there, but we all hold some inside us. The temptation to go to the Dark Side always exists and sometimes letting it out is a good thing, depending on the scope of the story. Thing is, too many people give in to the temptation of the darkness for shock’s sake and not to enhance the flow of the story. Then again, depending on your audience, that might exactly be what the situation calls for.

Aside from my overuse of the word temptation, I hope you have been able to take something constructive out of this. Maybe an urge to write down those fantasies you’ve kept locked in or better yet, go check out someone else’s. Hey I’ve got a few out there worth examining in detail. Not saying those are your only two options. What I am saying is allow yourself to be tempted to be as amazing as you can be.

Then what a wonderful world it would be.

Stole that last bit from Sam Cooke, but only because it’s true. So let’s go out there and let temptation make a wonderful world because we’re in it.

Wishing you all an amazing week full of love and happiness. And of course, Happy Reading!

Til next week,

Jmo

 

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

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.