Tag: Writing (Page 2 of 3)

Over 110 Million Copies in Print

flea-market-237461_1280

What writer wouldn’t want to see that blurb in their bio along with #1 New York Times Bestseller next to the title of their latest book? To the average writer, the reality check of this happening might rank up there with winning the lottery. But yet the writer continues to write.

I’m thinking about this because I just finished a book a few weeks ago by David Baldacci. On the back cover I happened to see the “over 110 million copies in print” comment.  Yet the following week, I found myself reading a book by a much lesser known author. There’s no mention of how many copies in print or #1 NYT Bestseller, yet I enjoyed it as much as Baldacci’s book.  Wait, did I say as much as?  To be honest, I enjoyed it more and left her a review that stated that.

For the last year, I have been reading a number of books by authors most people have never heard of. Some are indie authors while others are represented by smaller publishers. I have found most of these authors through social media and a few were found in the bargain books section at Barnes & Noble. In between reading popular authors such as Baldacci, Silva, Kellerman, Rollins, and Gardner, I have found authors like Dena Rogers, E.L. Wicker, Lori Lesko, J.S. Snow, Wendy Tyson, C.L. Pauwels, Mark Rubenstein, Brendan DuBoise, J.D. Ludwig, and the book I just finished reading last week by S.S. Lange.  As a reader, I’ve enjoyed reading every author I just mentioned. Famous or not.  As a writer, I am inspired by all. Famous or not.

I tend to use music, art, and sports analogies when trying to express my thoughts.  I might do that more than I should but those particular arenas are enjoyed by many and at some level, I would hope, familiar to most.  So my thoughts on music, art, and sports? Some of the best music I have ever listened to might have been in a bar or on a street corner. Some of the best art I have been privy to appreciate has only been seen by a few. Some of the greatest sports moments I have witnessed were at the amateur level or with participants just competing for the love of the sport.  To me, it’s always about passion and sincerity and that performance will always shine; a permanent marker in my mind.

I can say the same about the written word.  There are some amazing writers out there and I am grateful to have experienced their work whether they’ve sold 110 books or 110 million books.

So take in a good bar band, explore a starving artist fair, or watch an amateur sporting event. And while you are at it, discover a new author.

Congratulations to the following authors who have new releases out within the last few weeks:

  • Paige Randall (@ThePaigeRandall) who can be found HERE
  • Wendy Tyson (@WendyTyson) who can be found HERE
  • Lori Lesko (@LeskoLori) who can be found  HERE

Until next time…

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If We Were Having Coffee #5

 

image (3)

If we were having coffee, I would show off our new coffee carousel we bought last weekend. There are now breakfast blends, a Kona blend, cappuccinos, and a few decafs that will probably occupy space for some time. I’m going with a breakfast blend, sweetener, and French vanilla creamer. I’d also offer you a fresh blueberry muffin my wife just made.  We pick blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries each year and freeze them for use throughout the year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I missed work on Monday.  I aggravated something in my lower back over the weekend and woke up Monday barely able to walk. I was fortunate to be able to see the doctor later that day, and the combination of Tylenol, anti-inflammatory meds, and Icey Hot have me feeling much better.  I’m going to milk it a little though so I get excused from weekend chores which should allow me some extra writing time.  Unless my wife reads this of course.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I watched my son play tennis this week. He decided at the last minute to not run track this year and went out for tennis instead.  He has now played four years of soccer, two years of baseball, one year of track, and now tennis. He’s really made the most of his time in high school.

I only played football in high school although I should have played tennis. I got grounded the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and my mother made me play tennis with her each day as part of my punishment.  This is the same mother who grounded me by making me read books, write book reports, and keep a vocabulary list one summer. She had played tennis in high school and placed in doubles for state. It was humiliating and not cool for a fourteen year old… then.  Some older kids would watch and tease me as my mother would beat me time after time. She challenged them to play and one kid did. He was seventeen. He started playing every day with us and our skills improved with my mother’s coaching. We started playing doubles against two kids who were our school team’s doubles champions.  After beating them, numerous times, they encouraged me and my new friend to try out for tennis.  We were too cool for that and told them tennis was gay. Especially the little white shorts they had to wear.  Ok, ok… to all my gay friends – lighten up. That was decades ago; different time, different era.  I was a closet tennis player but I’m coming out here.

I drove my son to the high school this morning to catch the bus for an out of town tennis meet. Or do you say match?  While we were waiting in the parking lot, a large bus pulled in and this excited my son because he had been told they were taking the little yellow bus. He’s use to the bigger sports that get the full size bus.  The big bus wasn’t his. It was the track team from another town coming to a meet in our town and they were lost.  The tennis coach gave the driver directions to the Athletic Complex,  the little yellow bus pulled up, and I wished my son good luck. I was in a hurry to get back home and get out of chores, you know, because of my back. Ouch.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I followed the big bus out of the parking lot back towards the highway. I noticed they went the wrong way and were heading towards Pennsylvania so I followed them. About five miles down the road, I believe the bus driver realized he was lost and pulled over. I pulled in front of them and got out of my car and walked back to the bus as he was opening the door.  The driver and two coaches both smiled at me when I told them they were still lost; like they didn’t already know that. While they were laughing in agreement, I told them to follow me and I would take them to the Athletic Complex.  They made it to their track meet and I saw the driver, coaches, and a few kids waving at me as I turned around and headed home. Cool.

I’m going to have one more coffee then get back to writing. If the meds kick in shortly, I might just head outside and help with the yard.  Spring cleaning can be somewhat therapeutic. My back will get better. I’ve found over the years that my body is quite resilient.

Maybe I will buy a  racquet and play tennis with my kids. I’d like that.

Until next time…

B

tennis-363666_640

Check out #weekendcoffeeshare at Part Time Monster

Car Problems, Road Trip, & Stir Fry

wok-265566_1280

 

I wanted to focus on my WIP this weekend so I wasn’t going to write a post but as fate would have it, the weekend has been kind to me so I thought I might write something.  I also needed to step back from my story for an hour or so.  Like most of you that are writing something beyond a blog, I am questioning writing time commitments, social media balance, and general life commitments. I have both a short story and novel in progress and need to refocus a bit on both. Yeah, writer problems….

Car Problems

A few weeks ago, my son got a ticket on his way home from town. He didn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection. In New York, you are required to get an annual vehicle inspection and our inspection had expired.  I rarely drive our car and my son and wife have been sharing it for the last few months because we need to get his Jeep fixed.  Our tags are renewed every two years and we get plenty of notice that they are about to expire. The state does not do that for inspections. I suppose one could make the argument that the stickers one must place in the window should be enough visibility to an owner as to when the inspection or tags are due. It was sure visible to the cop (a friend of ours from Little League… small town living). Thankfully he only was ticketed for the inspection having just expired.

About that same time, our engine light came on, the wrench light came on, and our car made a clunking noise when shifting into reverse.  Transmission problems can be expensive and I had suspected we might need tires too. Bad timing considering we were just getting ready to pay property taxes, something my fellow New Yorkers know is painful.

We took our car in Thursday and I assumed we would spend the weekend without it. This in itself creates a logistics dilemma for us considering we have four people all needing to get home at the end of the day and I drive a little Ford Ranger truck (I should be driving a BIG truck but mine is paid for and I only spend $15 a week on gas). We made it through Thursday and Friday, and to my surprise, the garage called us Saturday morning telling us the car would be ready by noon. Tires, transmission tune-up, oil-change, a rear turning bulb, and state inspection fee. Not near the damage I was expecting on the transmission and far under what I had budgeted. I now have a legal car and official form to take to village court on Tuesday.

Road Trip

On our way to pick up the car, my wife suggested we head to the city to take the kids shopping and have dinner (you know, because we now had extra money.. I know women understand this).  We haven’t done this since before Christmas and her argument made sense. If we went yesterday, we could relax today… and I could get some writing in. Neither of us felt like cooking so it sounded logical to me. Deal.

The car ran beautiful on the trip there. She got her fix at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, the kids got theirs at Target, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory, and I bought a few books at Barnes & Noble.  We decided on Chile’s for dinner after not finding a parking place at an Italian place. Probably the better decision anyway considering two of us weren’t keen on Italian food yesterday. We had a wonderful dinner and I had my first Summer Ale of the year. I am somewhat of an oddity when it comes to beer. I have my last beer of the year sometime in early December and don’t have another one until sometime in March or April. Our snow has melted, it’s sunny, and in the fifties. That beer tasted so good.

Stir Fry

Stomachs full, our extra money and then some spent, we were on our way home listening to an Earth Wind & Fire CD my 12 year old son bought. There is something special about my children enjoying music I listened to growing up. My eldest went through it a little by getting caught up in eighties music. My youngest however has downloaded music from both the eighties and a decade earlier. What sort of 12 year old listens to Cat Stevens? We also listened to some other oldies and about an hour into our ride home, my wife shouts at me, asking if I “knew what today was.”  Ugh, Saturday?  A good day? A day to be thankful our small town mechanic is honest?

She said it was our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary but the anniversary of the day we met. We both always remember these things but our life has been a bit hectic as of late. Neither of us remembered yesterday but one of the songs fueled a memory of a tape I had made her so many years ago. Yes, this was back before digital music and playlists.

Twenty three years ago in Arizona, a buddy of mine showed up on my front porch asking me if I wanted to go out to a nearby lake with him, his brother, and his cousin. She was from NY and visiting him on her spring break.  She was blond, wearing a tie die one piece short outfit, too white for April, and annoyed the shit out of me for the next few hours. Despite that, we had a great time and all went out to dinner and a bar later that evening. After the bar, my buddy and his cousin followed me back to my house with everyone now hungry again.  While I was standing in the kitchen cooking, my buddy headed off to the bathroom. During the few minutes he was gone, his cousin kissed me. Yes, alcohol played a part but I was sober enough to realize I was kissing my buddy’s cousin and it freaked me out a little. He came back in the room, we all ate an early morning meal and they were on their way. The next day, they were back and we spent an awkward day together, made even more awkward by day’s end when my buddy asked me if I would entertain his cousin during the evenings for the next week while he worked his second shift job. I agreed.  The next weekend, she went home. My buddy joked that she and I would be a good match. That surprised me considering he knew me and how many years I had been single not to mention the crazy eighties I had lived through. I was NOT the guy you wanted dating your sister or cousin.

Less than three months later, I mailed a one way plane ticket to a girl in New York. My buddy and I split the cost of the ticket. She came.

The first meal I ever made my wife was stir fry chicken twenty three years ago yesterday.

Until next time…

B

22543_108404005840097_7365647_n

Sometime in 1992

 

Photo (stir fry) courtesy of Pixabay.com 

 

Smells Like …?

leaf-339124_1280

Alright, not Teen Spirit although Nirvana might have been onto something.

Olfaction and petrichor?  How can two seemingly bland words mean so much?

While writing yesterday, I found myself struggling with finding the right words to convey how something smelled. Of all the senses, I seem to find the most difficulty in this descriptive arena and I’m not sure why. It’s not for lack of having a sense of smell; it’s just my difficulty in describing it. A scene in my story takes place late morning in a diner. A small town diner to be exact, where the dining space is limited, sounds reverberate throughout the rooms, and smells permeate your being the moment you walk in.

So what does breakfast smell like? To me, it usually smells like eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and coffee. Sometimes there is a hint of maple or fresh fruit. Other times it smells like chorizo, warm tortillas and beans. When summer arrives, it often smells like a mixture of all of the above in addition to campfire and pine scents. Breakfast is a beginning, a huge “hello world” to start the day. It could also be the end of a day, say Denny’s at one in the morning. Maybe that is my dilemma. My scene takes place late morning. Breakfast at this time of day in my story serves two purposes: my character is simply hungry and needs to be seen. Maybe the smells don’t really matter here or maybe there is an association with the smells of breakfast that fits my plot.  Damn, I might have solved my own problem.

Smell association? I could run with that. Hotdogs smell like baseball. Hot buttered popcorn smells like the movie theater. Turkey and stuffing smell like a well-deserved after dinner nap. Patchouli smells like the seventies, although I hear it’s making a comeback. And then there is rain.

Of all the smells that stimulate my senses, next to breakfast, my favorite is the smell of rain. Having spent the majority of my life in the Southwest, rains were not as common as they are now. We would get a rain during the monsoon season that was usually preceded by a smell of dust or dirt in the air. Of course the ominous purplish brown sky moving slowly in our direction was a hint of things to come. The smell always hit us first and remained during the first few hours of rain. I loved those rains. Now living in a rural area in the Northeast, we get rain year round. I haven’t figured out winter rains yet but spring, summer, and fall all have very distinct smells associated with each.

Maybe it’s the novelty of year round rain that I find myself using it in my stories. Rain is more than a smell here. It is a time of year, a sense of peacefulness and beginnings, or a reminder of nature’s strength. It’s about both solitude and love. It’s about springs first planting and fall’s last leaves blanketing the forest floor. My favorite rain by far is summer rain accompanied by a lightning storm. We have a covered porch off the back of our house that faces the woods and I can sit out there for hours taking in a summer rain. This rain to me is intimate. It’s about both humility and power. It’s about amazing light shows and musical sounds that tickle your senses. It’s about the dampness that caresses  your skin or the way an evening coffee just tastes different. And when it’s all over, just as it began, it’s all about the smell.

By the way, olfaction is the sense of smell and petrichor is the scent of air after a rain.  Yeah… my thoughts exactly.

If I could sum up my feelings of a summer rain storm in a song it would be this one.  Go ahead, take my hand, close your eyes, turn up the volume and listen. Tell me if you smell the rain.

 

 

 

The Right Words – A Short Story

I wrote a post a few months ago HERE about having a short story selected for publication by a start-up magazine. It finally happened about the middle of last month and although a few friends of mine (thank you Dena and Em) have promoted it on their websites, I haven’t really promoted it at all other than a few tweets and an update to my projects page.

The name of the Magazine is LIPHAR (pronounced Lifer). LIPHAR is an online magazine dedicated to Literature Art and Photography. They also publish a collection of short stories. My short story was included in their second volume of short stories.  Prior to submitting to the magazine, I had purchased their second and third issue of the magazine and enjoyed what I saw and read. I also purchased LIPHAR Short Stories Volume 1 and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of short stories they included.

The day Volume 2 came out, my wife downloaded it on her Kindle and read my story again. When I got home from work, she showed me the cover, the list of stories, and the list of authors. Authors that included me. Seeing my name in print for the first time was an amazing experience and then sadly, short lived. My wife mentioned that italics were missing where I had used them to show the main character’s thoughts. I grabbed her Kindle, read a few paragraphs into my story and confirmed.  No italics… anywhere.

An excerpt from my story as I wrote it:

                “You just don’t know what it’s like being a teenager today,” piped up Sammy, who had an annoying habit of defending his older brother, whether he completely understood the conversation or not.

                Oh really, Einstein, because I was never a kid?  Straight-laced Dad couldn’t possibly know anything about that subject, right?  

I will skip the expletives and tell you I was disappointed. My first published work, out there to at least friends, family, and the other nineteen authors and I’m worried my writing will come off more amateurish than it already is. More than anything, I was afraid it was a distraction in my story. My wife, kids, an editor, and a few friends read my story in MS Word format. They can read it now sans italics and know what I meant but can the reader who has never read it? Am I making too much of a simple formatting error on the part of the publisher?

A few readers did read it and reached out to me through social media and told me they enjoyed it. I also bought the print version of the book and took it with me on a business trip, reading about ten of the other stories while on the plane and I found great stories from writers with varied experience and portfolios. If there were errors, I didn’t catch them. I simply enjoyed the stories.

Thirty days later and I am over it. Like I stated in my previous post, it was my first. Not perfect by any means but memorable, and I am both proud and thankful.  I can live with that. I can also “look inside” on the Amazon page and see my story listed and my name. That is freaking cool!

So, self-promotion time it is, along with promoting the other nineteen authors who share this experience with me. Thank you LIPHAR.

 

u_1421306484book2cover500jpgWe are proud to present the second collection of 20 short stories by 20 different authors. The stories may have or will appear in past or future issues of LIPHAR magazine. Most of the authors presented here have an extensive portfolio of other books and stories that you may want to check out. From heart- warming family situations to the totally bizarre, including alien worlds and ideas, you will find stories that get your attention. The stories cover a wide genre and offer a cross-section of writing talents. We have not edited the stories in any way and are publishing them as we have received them.  We hope you enjoy the stories as we also hope to publish many volumes of short stories.

Available on Amazon

If We Were Having Coffee #1

I’ve been reading a few of these each week and love the format for random thoughts (and I have many). So, I’m going to give it a go.

image (3)

If we were having coffee, it might be at my kitchen table. I’d offer you a number of choices because we have had a Keurig since Christmas and I think I’m a barista now. Today is a breakfast blend for me with hazelnut creamer.  Not a fancy brand, just the local supermarket brand and it was on sale. We are quickly finding out k-cups are not cheap. I’d also offer you a donut. We picked some up last night for half price on the way home from seeing a movie, the first time my wife and I have been out together without kids in months.

I would tell you I had a short weekend last week because I had to travel on a Sunday to work in Texas for three days. I would rather not travel on a Sunday but it was required that I be there first thing Monday morning. It worked out well for me because I wanted to make it home by Thursday, my wife’s birthday. With my luck traveling as of late, along with weather surprises we have had in the Northeast, I knew there was a risk but it all worked out perfectly.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about the short story I wrote in my head while sitting in the airplane. Although my writing is going painfully slow on my novel and I should be putting all my effort into that, I decided to take a break and write another short story. I just have to run with it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how I am praying my son did well in his scholarship competition yesterday. We were on the road at six in the morning and made the two and half hour drive to a college he was accepted to so he and a hundred plus other students could compete for one of ten full tuition scholarships being awarded. The college has already offered him a nice scholarship but a full tuition scholarship, and a renewable one at that, would be so financially comforting to me and my wife.  At worst, the college would give each participant $1500 just for trying.  Fifteen minutes of his time will either be worth $1500 or $14,000. Either way, he is a winner in my eyes.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how upset I was yesterday evening watching the news. When I travel, I tend to watch too much news in my hotel room because I don’t like flipping channels to see what is on. I’ve become spoiled having a menu of all the shows and their times on TV. All through the week the media kept updating us on the fact there was no real update concerning the fate of two remaining hostages being held by terrorists in the Middle East. Yesterday came the sad news that a second hostage from Japan had been killed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there are two things I seldom talk about outside my family circle: religion and politics. Yet here I am today still wondering what kind of man or woman who claims to be a follower of any God or prophet can kill so indiscriminately in the name of religion whether it is now, or hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I would question how any government, regardless of political or religious ideology, can sit on the sidelines while atrocities like this exist in our world.

As we sip our coffee in the comfort of my kitchen, I would silently give thanks. Thanks that I still believe good trumps evil and will prevail in the end. Thanks that there is still something beautiful on this planet worth saving. Thanks that despite the darkness that envelopes us at times we can still find light.

“If you are writing any book about the end of the world, what you are really writing about is what’s worth saving about it.” Justin Cronin

Pick a Genre

By reading a lot of novels in a variety of genres, and asking questions, it’s possible to learn how things are done – the mechanics of writing, so to speak – and which genres and authors excel in various areas.” – Nicholas Sparks

It’s been a very interesting last few weeks around my house and things are finally starting to wind down. This is my first post of the New Year and first post of the month so I decided to write about something that has been relevant to me as of late: genre.

I’m presently writing a mystery/thriller. I’m only calling it that because it seems I need to place it under some genre, and by definitions I’ve read, my story seems to be heading that direction. I read a book last year about writing and there was an entire chapter about all the various genres and sub-genres within works of fiction. We tend to compartmentalize everything and I was not surprised to find anything different in the writing world. Looking at the majority of what I have read in the past, most of it would fall under some sub-genre of mystery or thriller. That doesn’t mean I don’t like other genres, it just means mysteries and thrillers are my favorites. Much like hard rock is my favorite music despite listening to everything from Ice Cube to Johnny Cash.

I tend to be that way with most things in life. Mexican food is my favorite but I enjoy most any ethnic food. Action movies? I love them. December however is devoted to both traditional Christmas movies and sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. One of my favorite movies of all time is an inspirational movie called “Rudy” about a kid’s dream of not only attending Notre Dame but playing football there. Another is a silly kid’s movie called “The Goonies.” Neither of those is an action movie but for whatever reason are two of my favorites.

download (1)

A few years ago, my oldest son asked me to read Eragon, a book he was reading by a very young author named Christopher Paolini. It’s about a dragon rider and his dragon and I couldn’t honestly say without some research what genre it falls under.  I remember laughing at first, saying a very polite “no, that’s not my thing” and most likely continued reading the next available Daniel Silva or John Grisham book. My son was persistent and before I knew it, I was hooked on The Inheritance Cycle by Paolini, an amazingly well written series by the way for such a young author. Last year, at my son’s urging, I did the same thing with The Hunger Games.

I think if we limit categories in our reading, or listening, or tasting, or watching, we miss out on so much of what it is out there. I’ve thought about that a little over the last month as I read two new books over the Christmas/New Years Holiday. Both books were not in my chosen genre to write in; one a wonderful NA (and no that’s not Narcotics Anonymous) book about vampires and the other a contemporary romance about a second chance romance. Both were wonderful, well written stories by two very talented writers I am lucky to have as friends. Although I read them purely for pleasure, there were takeaways with each, both with style and two different approaches to romantic scenes.

I’m glad I ventured out of my comfort zone years ago when it came to reading. I do it with everything else in life so it should be no surprise that I’ve done it with reading. I know that reading books in my genre helps make me a better writer within that genre, obviously important with my current project but I’m also convinced reading anything makes me a better writer. It’s a craft, and like most any craft, it can be expanded and improved upon by stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing other genres.

Do I need to pick a genre? For writing, I believe I do but only because I have a grand master plan. For reading? Absolutely not.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite genre to read and/or write?

Riding, Running, & Writing – Goals

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” – Thoreau

I’ve always loved this quote and in many ways, it has grounded me in the whole goal achieving process no matter what I have attempted.

I’m a dreamer and always have been. I think dreaming can be healthy provided one keeps the dream in perspective. Like most people, I’ve dreamed about what life might be like after winning the lottery when the amounts reach those eight digit numbers. We’ve had fun with it as a family discussing how much we would give each extended family member, what dream house we would have built, how many acres of land it would sit on, and how we would stick a large portion of the money away and let it work for us. We don’t start buying lottery tickets, looking for land to build our dream house, or spend hours on the internet window shopping for all the other things we could buy with that money.

There are dreams however that I’ve acted on. These are dreams where I’ve set an action plan in place to achieve a goal, some lofty, some not so lofty. In doing so, I’ve found the journey to be just as celebratory as the destination provided I actually reach the destination. In most cases I have.  There has been a lot written about goal setting from complete books to simple six step plans and in my opinion, an individual’s approach should be whatever works.

My 2nd 5K -2010 - with free beer at the finish line

My 2nd 5K -2010 – with free beer at the finish line,and my son running with me despite the fact he could have run it 10 minutes faster by himself

I wanted to run a marathon.  I dreamed of running a marathon. After cycling for many years and having numerous century rides (100 plus miles) under my belt, I decided I would run a marathon.  My initial thoughts were that it would be no harder than training for a century.  One just needs to get the miles and time in and the distance will come.  After developing a plan, I embarked on this new adventure and discovered something. I don’t like running longer distances nor did I have the inspiration needed to push me farther.  I’d completed numerous 5Ks and even ran a 5 miler and found I enjoyed it but also found I had no desire to go farther.  I can live with that.  I just didn’t have a passion for running long distances like I did for long distances in cycling. For cycling, I had many years and countless hours of watching the Tour de France inspiring me not to mention beautiful road miles and scenery I melted into. For running, I just couldn’t get into it. I love walking, I love hiking, and I love running short distances. Long distance running just doesn’t do it for me. My runner’s high was achieved at 5K and no farther. My cycling high occurred about every ten miles and continued up to one hundred and thirty miles, the most I ever did in one day. Each grouping of ridden miles an achieved goal and another high.

When it comes to writing, I can reflect on my experience and approach to both cycling and running. I’ve done the short distance in writing short stories or lyrics and loved it. My goal is the long distance, a novel,  and it will come. The difference here is in what inspires me and in similar fashion to what inspired me while cycling: the countless hours of reading over the years, the hundreds of books we have in our house and on our ereaders, and the beautiful words I have read over a lifetime. I love writing and I love the written word.  I’ve also found my highs are very similar to what I get running a short distance or every ten miles or so on the bike.  It might happen at 1000 words or 5000 thousand words but it happens.  And with each high, I celebrate the accomplishment along with what I am becoming.

Tour de Tucson - 113 miles

Tour de Tucson – after 113 miles

 

 

Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Firsts

I was warming up my truck very early yesterday, the morning still encased in darkness despite the hour time shift we gained earlier in the week.  We live out of town and it tends to get very dark so the only light presence I had was that emanating from the dashboard along with a small light I had left on in the kitchen.  Staring at the dashboard lights for a moment, I had a thought: a thought about firsts. My mind tends to wander like that at times, the whole six degrees of separation thing or in my case sometimes seven or eight. Dashboard lights, manual transmission, truck parked in first, … oh never mind, trust me it just happens.

FKSZGVTFXP6OMZ9.LARGE

According to Merriam-Webster, first is defined as “coming before all others in time, order, and importance.”  I would agree with time and order. Importance might be subject for debate but for this post, I will go along with importance.

Everybody remembers their first. It should be something special. Something magical. An experience that leaves you salivating for the second, but always appreciative of the first.  I was always nervous about my first. It wasn’t like I didn’t want it to happen because I did. I suppose I was just nervous about sharing something so private, exposing myself, maybe even afraid I would be no good at it or not measure up. I’m really not sure why I felt that way. It wasn’t like I hadn’t practiced or prepared for it. I did. Sometimes first thing in the morning and often other times late at night yet I was still afraid.

For some people, this all seems to come so natural, or so it seems to those still waiting on the sidelines. Sure, their first was special, important even, and so was the second and now here they are talking about their fourth or fifth as casually as they might discuss what they had for breakfast. One women I know, is now on her eighth, and I guy I really look up to, a King of sorts, is now at fifty plus.  I just wanted a first. I knew if I could experience that, the second then third would come so much easier and I, hopefully, would be better each time.  I’d had encouragement. A few friends, all females by the way, had been there for me, telling me it would happen. No worries.

images (1)

So I put myself out there and it happened. Well almost happened, more of a promise to happen. I had been hoping for someone with more experience and had to settle for someone with slightly less experience. But does that really matter or make it less important? The fact is that someone with more experience was a first to someone else at some point. Yet here I was willing to allow my first to be with someone slightly less experienced but with experience nonetheless. I looked at the company I would be in and agreed. It would be MY first and coming before all others in time, order, and yes, importance… for now.

Under the light of the dashboard lights, I checked email on my phone and re-read two emails I had received earlier in the week. One stated that I was being considered for publication in a collection of short stories and with that, could also appear in one of their magazine issues.  The other one, from the same magazine, was received a few days later. It simply said “Your short story will be published in our second book of short stories.”

It will be my first and I’m excited.

NoWri, Arizona Tea, & Passion

NoWri

No, I am not prepping for November. In fact, this has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo but I will take a moment to wish the best of luck to all of you who are signed up for it. For me it simply means no write. I haven’t been writing the last two weeks nor have I even made an attempt to post a blog until today. This weekend might be different for a few hours early Sunday morning and allow me to get a few words in before anyone gets up. The rest of the day will be more of the same thing I have been experiencing: no writing.  These last two weeks life has gotten in the way. I will accurately predict that life is going to get in the way for the next two or three weeks as well. I should probably rephrase that since it conveys a negative connotation. Life has gotten/will get in the way in a wonderful manner. My son’s life. My son’s future.

My priorities?  Family, job, writing, and then everything else and in that order.

My WIP will still be there in a few weeks. For now, I consider myself very fortunate to be having life get in the way.

Arizona Tea

May 2012. My son had just finished his JV Baseball season and was meeting his teammates so they could all turn in their baseball jerseys to the coaching staff. The kids decided to play a pickup game of basketball afterwards in the gym and my son got hurt. He suffered a minor concussion and fractured some weird bone near his wrist and thumb that would have him wearing a cast for a good part of the summer. A cast that went all the way to his bicep. His plans for junior league summer baseball gone. A few weeks later, he got an excuse from the doctor allowing him to participate in gym class doing lower body exercises. This was important because his gym teacher was giving him a zero for every gym class he couldn’t participate in. Yes, that kind of gym teacher. Allowing him to do lower body exercise meant he could work out in the gym or walk for extra credit to make up for the two weeks of zeroes. My son felt lower body exercise also meant he could play indoor soccer in gym class and his gym teacher let him. Bad decision. An hour later the school nurse was calling me to pick up my son.  He had gotten clocked in the head with a soccer ball that put him flat on his back.  He was in the nurse’s office when I got there and was somewhat out of it. After a trip to the doctor and some tests at the hospital we found out he had just gotten his second concussion, and only a few days before finals and regents.  Two concussions in less than a three week span.

With the help and understanding of his teachers and the school nurse, he got through all his testing and surprisingly pulled good grades and finished his freshman year.  The next few weeks were trying in that he would get massive headaches and just cry. He was acting weird, doing things he hadn’t done before, saying things that were inappropriate, and although funny now, he was listening to country music after listening to nothing but rock and rap. For lack of a better way to describe it, it was like he had no “shut off” switch and had regressed three or so years. My wife, having just finished nursing school, was very understanding and in tune with what was going on with his condition. I, on the other hand, was in complete denial about how serious his concussion was.  As for my son, his only worry was soccer camp would be starting in a few months and he was going to be pulled up to varsity as a sophomore.  Or so he thought.

download (1)

I had to run into town to get a few groceries one morning and my son wanted to come with me. On the way in, he found the country station on the radio and I had to listen to him singing along to “something bout a truck” as it blared over the speakers.  As we were standing in the checkout line, my son asked for tea.  He had been drinking a lot of tea lately. He then went on a rant, a very loud rant, about all the flavors of Arizona Tea and how Arizona Tea was not from Arizona, but we are from Arizona, and now we are in New York, and Arizona Tea is from New York, and “isn’t that ironic dad, isn’t it, isn’t it” and on and on and on… all while curious customers looked on. I let him grab multiple cans of cold Arizona Tea and checked out. Groceries now loaded in the car we drove home, me very quiet and him singing to country music between sips of his Arizona Tea.

When we got home, I went in my bedroom, closed the door and I cried.  I cried like I hadn’t cried in years and at that moment, I could have cared less if my son ever played a sport again. I just wanted him back.  I wanted him back to normal and I was scared.

Sports were important to him and like any supportive parent, important to me because they were important to him.  I’m not living vicariously through him. I played baseball and football as a kid. I never even watched soccer until my son decided he wanted to play and because of that we have grown to love the game. I grew up thinking soccer was for the sissy kids – west coast, different time, different era and my own teenage ignorance at the time.

Towards the end of summer, our doctor released our son to play soccer with one stipulation: no heading the ball. My wife and I discussed whether or not we even were going to let him play. His head, or more specifically his brain, is what mattered to us and his brain is what would be opening doors to college, not sports. Through many family discussions and my son pleading with us to let him  play, we agreed, provided he wear this special head band designed to reduce the impact of a ball to the head and that he in no way heads the ball. There would be no moving up to varsity for my son but the JV coach was extremely happy to have my son again on his team. He played the entire year on defense without heading the ball once and was selected as MVP for his team: on offense. Yes you read that right. He scored more goals than any other offensive player despite playing defense. He went on to play baseball that year both for his high school and for a Senior League team over the summer that ended up winning the NY State Championship. His team went on to the East Coast Regional and performed respectively losing to a team that went on to play in the Senior League World Series Championship game in Maine. My son wanted to play in that game just to play in the beautiful stadium that was largely paid for by a famous author we all know:  Mr. King himself.

299445_534665916547235_2056189785_n

g2172170000000000006aaab3341dd4586aa62dc0c18c66377f0fd89b3e

His junior year in HS, he moved up to varsity soccer.  He refused to wear his “special” head gear but told us he wouldn’t head the ball. He lied, but only a little. I can count the times on both hands that he headed the ball that year.  For spring, he decided to do something different. He ran track after playing baseball for ten years.  I think he felt it would be tough to top the high he experienced being a state champion the previous summer in baseball.

Liam_Midlakes

By now you all are thinking this entire post is a father bragging about his athletic son. Wrong.

Passion

Friday October 17th was my son’s final home game during the regular soccer season. His high school has a tradition called senior night for every sport. For soccer, prior to the game, each senior is escorted onto the field by their parents. The announcer introduces the athlete and his parents, then goes on to list all the sports they have played in high school. The announcer also states the future plans for the student athlete, advice the player has for underclassman, and a statement the player has for his fellow seniors. The event is somewhat bittersweet for most athletes and parents because often it is the last time the student will play on his home field. Our team won that night so it seeded them higher for sectionals meaning one more home game at a minimum.

When they announced my son, they announced he had played JV soccer for two years, Varsity Soccer for two years, JV baseball for two years, and Track for one year. The announcer then went on to say my son was going to pursue a career in the medical field. He wants to be a Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner.  What wasn’t announced is that in addition to playing sports, my son is ranked third in his graduating class, has an extremely high GPA, played in the concert band, played in a jazz band, sang in choir, performed in a school musical, sings in an a cappella group, in National Honor Society, is in student council, has taken both honors and AP classes, has taken numerous college classes, was selected to NY Boys State this past summer, and was selected to a pre-med program for high school seniors that takes up half his day then returns to his high school for three classes in the afternoon. He is also being recruited by literally a few dozen schools for academics.

As my wife and I stood on the field with my son, I was proud. Proud of what he has done in high school, proud of the young man he is becoming. And walking to the stands, I fought to hold back the tears as I remembered a very vocal rant about Arizona Tea a few years earlier one Saturday morning in the checkout line.

The next morning my family was up at 5:00 to drive two hours for an open house at my my son’s  first choice college. He is applying to their PA program. This is part of his plan A. He will apply to four schools that have PA programs and are within a few hours drive. If accepted, each one has assured us they are willing to offer him a substantial scholarship based on his class standing, GPA, and SAT/ACT scores. Plan B should he not get accepted? He attends any of those same schools or others, pursues some sort of bio medical undergrad degree and continues to apply to the PA program as a transfer or to a school that has a Nurse Practitioner program. The difference will be a five year BS/MS PA program versus a potential seven year program (and more money). Either way, I’m confident he will succeed.

So this is what has been taking up our time: college applications, essays, scheduling visits, developing alternative plans, etc.  I’m praying my son gets his first choice. He deserves it. He’s not perfect. In fact, there are plenty of times his mother and I get angry with him. He’s a teenager. We take the good with the bad and the good far outweighs the bad.

download (3)

That first choice school he wants so desperately to be accepted into is a Division III school and just happens to have a soccer program that sucked. Two years ago they had eight players on the team and begged kids to play. This year they had twenty five players and did win some games.  If selected to the school, my son will try and make the team and most likely would according to a few of the players he talked to during our school visit. My son doesn’t care how good the team is. He just loves to play and the realization that he could be playing soccer in college is exciting.  You see, my son is not your typical “skilled” soccer player.  His coach once told him he had no soccer skills at all. What he lacks in skills, he makes up for in being aggressive and his passion for the sport. He is also extremely fast and rarely gets beat. This is why he plays every minute of each game.

That passion is what my son has for everything he attempts and that is what soccer means to me.  Watching him play soccer captures every personality trait he possesses that has helped him excel academically and in his other extra-curricular activities. That passion is what I hope my son expresses in the 750 word essay he will submit to earn an interview. And if he gets that far, hopefully that same passion will be prevalent during the interview and lead to his acceptance into the school of his choice.  I only pray that the individuals that make up the selection committee see the same kid with passion that I and so many others see.

Liam_soccer

As I write this, my son is at his school re-taking his ACT in an attempt to get one point higher than he got the on the first attempt. That one point means additional scholarship money to one of his plan B schools. After that he has a cappella practice for three hours then comes home to rest for an hour before we head to his second sectional soccer game.  His team won the first one on Wednesday night against a team they were expected to beat.  Tonight they will be playing a team that is only seeded slightly below them.  It could very well be his last soccer game in high school and I am going to soak in every minute of it.  Win or lose, my son will play with passion.

Liam, if you ever read this – I love you and couldn’t be more proud of you. May you never lose your passion.

Bill

UPDATE – 10.31.14.  My son’s team won their sectional game last Saturday on his home field. If you understand playoff brackets, this put them in the semi-finals, which basically means the final four teams out of sixteen teams. On Wednesday evening of this week, his team played against the #1 ranked team in our section and I believe the #4 ranked team in the state.  We had to travel to a neutral field about an hour away. They were 0-0 at the half, 1-1 at the end of regulation, then lost 2-1 in overtime.  It was an amazing game despite the loss. His last High School soccer game. He was depressed for the bus ride home to the school, and depressed on the ride from his school to our house. We got home around 10:15. My son dropped his soccer bag off on the stairs, and continued over to the computer with his school bag.  He let the game go and worked on homework until midnight while my wife quizzed him on medical terms.

Photo credits  other than the ones I’ve taken – Our local newspaper (Daily Reporter) and Google Images

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2020 W.C. Cunningham

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: