Month: February 2015

If We Were Having Coffee #2

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” – Sai Baba

Because I don’t know what else to do in this moment.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how in awe I was of you the first time you came home from Vietnam. I was so young then and didn’t fully understand why you were gone but I remember your crisp uniform and the foreign coins you handed me. You were still in your teens yet had aged.

If we were having coffee, I would thank you for being there for me and my brother when my parents divorced. You filled a void that made a cruel situation bearable. I remember playing in the front yard only to be interrupted by the sound of engines and chains clanging as you and your friend rode down our street to deliver the go-cart and minibike you had bought us, your boyish giggling to my mother’s protests that we were too young. The weekly Rat Patrol adventures in your Mustang, the rides in your patrol car, the constant showering of presents, the groceries to help my mom out… you were always there for us.

Years later, you got the bar and gave me my first steady job. I was only thirteen and had to walk up to the highway and hitchhike there each morning. A miner and customer of yours always stopped to pick me up, one day telling me to skip the long walk up to the highway and he would just pick me up at the end of my street. In addition to my weekly pay, you told me I could have free soda, a bar sandwich, a pack of smokes occasionally, and play as much pool as I wanted.  All I had to do was show up and get my job done cleaning up so the bar would be ready each day before you opened. I started missing an occasional day or two each week and after plenty of warnings, you had to let me go. I was so ashamed that I had let you down.  My first steady job and I was fired by my own uncle.  I’ve never had a problem getting up early again nor have I been fired since.  You taught me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I never felt worthy as an adult to attend the reunion you had with the remaining scouts from your company.  It was a war I never really understood yet learned more over the three hours I was privy to listen to all of your stories, sharing both your laughter and tears with your Marine brothers. I was honored.

If we were having coffee, we would probably laugh at how something we both initially despised (social media) let us both keep up with our daily lives despite the miles that separated us. You still encouraging me like you always have, you getting to know my wife and children and now encouraging them, you only being a mouse click, email, or text message away. You introduced me to your daughter, my cousin and her beautiful family. I shared in your joy at finally finding love this late in life. I would also tell you I agree to disagree on many of your political and social rants but thank you for challenging my thought process. But you already knew this and can laugh with me about it.

If we could have just one more coffee, I would stand up and hug you and tell you I love you for everything you have ever been to me: a big brother, a substitute father, a teacher, and the most caring Uncle I could have ever been blessed with.

I love you Uncle Charlie and look forward to meeting up with you again in that next dimension.


Charlie Sotelo August 8, 1945 – February 21, 2015


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.

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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

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