The domino effect. Or how one change can change everything else.

I think we’re all savvy about this concept. You line up the dominos, get them just how you want them, tip the one at the end and let it fall. It all comes down in the pattern you designed. A mesmerizing showcase of your talented ingenuity, a spectacle for the onlookers to enjoy. I’d like to say the same thing goes for writing, but I’d only be half right.

I rewrote a chapter in the upcoming PLIGHT book and the chapters that come afterwards keep referencing the old chapter. Palm to forehead smack. But here’s the thing; there’s an opportunity to make something that was merely “ok” as the chapters wind down to the very end of this segment of the entire story, to something much more hair-raising and nail-biting. I dare say, the domino effect of rewriting one crucial chapter can set it up for all the other chapters that follow to have a richness, depth, and maturity to them that was previously absent, or at least left wanting.

In our own lives I’d like to think we get these new chances to change the days and weeks, months and years ahead of us, if we are so fortunate to live that long. In one day think about how many times you write and rewrite what’s in your mind, your conscience, your own heart. How often do you take a step back and place the domino just so, with hopes that how things fall land not just in your favor, but in the favor of those around you whom you love and enjoy.

There’s something else about this whole ‘domino’ effect and how one slight (or mighty) change can really effect the outcome of events…it points to something that’s always been there. It’s our connection to one another, to life, to events and circumstances. We’re all lined up, even if we’re slightly askew. There’s a pattern somewhere in all the chaos of our falling down that we can’t or don’t see. And I doubt very seriously that’s a “serious” pattern, or that it was intended to be interpreted as such. Just that there’s a way in which we’re connected. We rise, or are risen (depending on your view of things) and that we fall (or are pushed, if you can but dig that idea better) and we all come together in that mesmerizing fall.

I like the stories I write because I’m setting things up at a subconscious level just like a set of dominos. I don’t always get the pieces right, meaning if I lay them just a little too far away they’ll fall all right, but no connection and no interesting razzle dazzle of the play. The sight of it becomes null, boring, or worse; downright disappointing. And I don’t want that for my readers. So, as close as I get to one thing, is as far away from something else as I can get. And on does the story go forward. I gotta get it just right, because flat is flat, disconnected is a bad story, and falling is fun only when you have somewhere to land that we can all agree makes sense.

I’ll be in touch my friends.

How can I get your book?

Strangely enough I get asked this a lot. I forget that many of the people I work with still think in terms of bookstores and grocery store book areas. Well, you won’t find anything I’ve written in any of those places. I always tell everyone, “You can get it on Amazon.” But hey, if you think Amazon is the devil, you can also purchase my books on Barnes and Nobel.com The only problem I have is, I still can’t get my books properly formatted to look right on Barnes and Nobel’s Nook Reader (a digital reader similar to Amazon’s Kindle). So mostly, my books are available on Amazon. I’m still working on a solution to get my e-stributions on more platforms like Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and anything else that will read a highly formatted book file. I format them all myself and I know how I want them to look. So if it doesn’t look right, or as in the case with BN’s Nook–it looks awful–I will wait to do it myself where it looks as close to perfect as possible. iBooks may become a viable option in a few years when I can get my hands on a new Macbook (one that’s not turning 6 in April of next year).

So how can you get my books besides my website and my blog? Well, Amazon is another website and frankly, it’s the only place you can get my books for now. Spread the word!

PLIGHT NEWS FLASH!

The 2nd book in the trilogy has finally caught the eye of my editor and she loves the recent work I did. Basically this amounted to me rewriting all of those lost chapters. I think in the end, the new chapters are far superior to the older ones. My editor thinks (keeping my fingers crossed this time) that the book should be done and available BEFORE CHRISTMAS! I know it seems too good to be true…but, there you have it. Everything must eventually be resolved, right? I’m very excited to keep you in the loop on it as soon as I know more, you’ll know more.

You and your dreams

Somehow I had a thought when I was young that if I just wrote a novel then I’d make it big. People would love what I wrote–whatever I wrote–and tell me they couldn’t wait for more. I’d be a millionaire in this fantasy and would have all the time in the world to dream up my stories. I was never told by my parents that I couldn’t do something, like be a famous writer. They had their opinions on how I went about the matter. But back then (over twenty years ago now, I shudder to think) there weren’t a lot of options. Vanity press was still expensive. Indie publishing wasn’t even a gleam in anyone’s eye. Amazon wasn’t a gleam in Jeff Bezos’s eye either. And the world went along with traditional publishing.

In 2005 I decided to write my first book. It wasn’t a novel–and I really wanted to write a novel–because I thought to myself: well, even if I write this book about this stuff I know, maybe a regular less big publisher will pick it up and run with it. I was wrong. I had to find (using the Internet) how to self-publish. And I did. I wasn’t the only one. And it was still expensive, but my Mom helped me pay for it. She helped me get my foot in the door to my biggest dreams. I had the one book. And yes, even back then, it was available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com as well. It was highly emotional for me to hold that book in my hand for the first time. I was so proud of my accomplishment.

I remember when I first received the paperback in a few boxes (now I just had to figure out how to sell them to people, and back then I didn’t know very many) and flipped it over to the back. I looked in the upper left corner on the back side of that book and saw to my utter horror and dismay that it said: JUVENILE NON-FICTION. My heart sank.In just two words I felt my career as a writer had fairly ended before it had even begun. Though I was crestfallen by this snafu I called the company immediately and had them change it on any future printings. They did and said they were sorry for the inconvenience.

Can you imagine thinking you’re a writer and other people, in effect, telling you that you aren’t? Or that you’re a dancer, singer, pianist, artist, or some other creative type that you know you are…and people say, “Nope, that’s not what you do.”

It happens to us a lot. Other people’s perceptions of us are powerful, but they are not authoritative. I never gave up with that book, and to this day it’s still the one book I have that sells the most of all the other titles.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself or your career as “this is all you do, this is the only way the world can see you”, because the world has a lot of eyes that have never seen you. You can do whatever you want as long as your expectations about it are surrendered. You can be the most unknown monk in the world, and nobody will care but you and your monk friends. You can be the greatest baba that no one ever hears about. Be it anyway.

You can write books and blogs in an ocean of them that never really gets any notice. Write them anyway. This man and his dreams won’t die lightly. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and I know you will too. Right?

Under Pressure

My conscious and dedicated focus in life is primarily internal, and with that practice comes a great deal of retention. I’m not holding my breath, but my words. It’s funny I should say that because I’m a writer, and I’m putting out a lot of words in the form of stories and in the form of narrative (as in the case of my autobiography, and this blog). On some level it’s like I never shut up. But on the outer level where we meet? Tight as a clam-shell!

I’ve noticed that I’ve resorted to humor to help people remain lighthearted around me. I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch the news for more then ten seconds at any given time. And I specifically don’t own a television so I can stay away from the bulk of it. Every time I’ve flipped on a television somewhere (usually at work in the break room) and there’s news on, it’s ten seconds of absolutely horrific and catastrophic events, made worse by the fact that all of it is needless and lacking any real intelligence.

And though I might have much more to say on any given topic (and yes, I scan the news sites too, in case there’s something interesting or pertinent) I won’t. I’m not attempting to bottle anything up either, I’m just noticing without commentary or judgment the unfolding events of the world around me. Sometimes I feel that the more we blabber, the more power we lose. Both individually and collectively. I see this underscored when I watch the news or scroll through Facebook posting by all the 14 hundred plus friends I have.

Of course I can use some of the news that seeps in through my inner blockade and turn it into an entertainment of sorts by writing about it through the medium of fiction. But for the most part, on the outside life, I do a great deal of retaining what I know and or believe and letting others do the talking. In the meanwhile I am also working on feeling a sense of connection to a deeper aspect we all share, a Source, if you will, of infinite energy which supports and upholds everything visible and invisible to us.

I attempt to let the great and expanded feeling of that essential Source move through me and out into the world and especially the people around me.

When things seem decidedly too serious, I pop a squat. Oops, I mean a joke. Either way it gets someone to smile or laugh a little. And that lets the internal steam creep out and takes some of the pressure off the situation—no matter how benign that situation typically is in the first place.

When I receive news that feels rotten I take it deep inside. Not just so I can stuff it in the recesses of my psyche, or let it fester like open cabbage in the dark basement of my subconscious. I don’t do it like that. I take that news deep inside to that Source, the essence of what it is to be and drop it into a visual burning fire, the great Heart, until I feel like it’s burned. I then envision the smoke from that burnt news lifting into the air as refined blessings to shower on others. Kind of like the way the ocean and clouds work together to create rain over parched lands.

Now you may say you’ve never felt such blessings and that what I’m doing is a waste of time. But I’ll tell ya, in the end I not only feel better in my own being, but I can barely think of a better, more constructive use of my time. If more people did something like this my guess is we’d have a lot less unhappy people, and that would be blessing enough.

How to determine if you’re a real writer or not

I think the title of this post is just…arrogant sounding enough. It’s hopefully annoying enough to get some of you to read this. That’s the whole idea, anyway.

When you do your writing, assuming you think of yourself as a writer, there are some basic concepts that will help you out a great deal.

I’m putting out some lists that seem important for now to distinguish between real writers and wannabes who should truly pursue something different.

How you know you’re a real writer:

  • When it comes to the hard stuff, you’re not ashamed to get it out there. You’re ready to be ballsy and call things as you see them–whether or not anyone else agrees with you. Keep in mind there are 7 billion people on the planet, nobody knows you except your close friends and family and people you’ve met at work, and everyone has a fixed idea about who they think you are. So you gotta bust through all the bullshit and say what’s in your head and in your heart (somewhat of the same thing, as far as I’m concerned.)
  • You’ll write even at 5 am if it means you only squeeze out 230 words before you race off to your full-time day job.
  • You’ll write ever_single_day…no matter what.
  • And you won’t beat yourself up about it if you miss a day or a week. Because you are incapable of staying away from it for long.
  • You agree that you’re not really writing about writing–because that’s just boring. You’re getting out on the page that which matters to you, has value to you, and ultimately that speaks to you–and therefore a goodly amount of other people out there who haven’t discovered you yet.
  • You write to change your attitude, to explore, to be awed by something even if it’s only in your own imagination.
  • You know your writing isn’t always great and you’re okay with that. That’s why we depend on editors, to catch the holes in our stories–be they true or fiction, and to help us clean up the way we say stuff. Example: You need editors because how else people going to know you mean? And just by the by I hope to hell you’re beyond that level of writing, or you’re going to have to write someone else’s book word for word in a document on your machine for 10 thousand hours before you can even think you’re a real writer.
  • I hope you use the above example as a fictional character’s writing in one of your novels, or something like it–and if you do, know you’re a real writer.
  • You sit down and know that on some level writing is your meditation. It’s your way of connecting with the juicy powerful Flow, and to you it’s no different than the “runner’s high”.

How you know you’re not a for real writer.

  • You think you have something to say but give everything else much more importance than saying it. “Screw it, I’ll write later. Continuum  is on and I love that show!” Even though you recorded it on your DVR.
  • You decide to write a vampire or sex or romance novel because you think it will put you on the fast track to making a lot of money.
  • You write because you think any book will make you a lot of money.
  • You think other people will respect you more or take you more seriously if you have written and published a book. “Look ma, I’m on Amazon!
  • You think writing on Facebook and Twitter are acceptable forms of serious writing.

There are probably a lot more to the latter list, but I’m getting annoyed by it.

If you’re honest with yourself you’ll pretty quickly realize where you stand. My biggest beef with fellow authors is when they tell me they want to make money at this but aren’t making much from their current books. Build a big catalog of books. Enjoy the ride of writing something that has meaning to you. I’m not poo-pooing the idea of making money. In the age of digital ebook distribution by Amazon it’s certainly possible to make a living. Hell, some people have won the proverbial jack-pot of writing for a living. Some just write full time and make a comfortable living from it. Everything you need to know how to make it happen can be found for free on blog-sites like here and here. No need to read a book on that subject, although there are scores of them.

The bottom line is, if you’re reading this, you’re not writing anything. So get back to work. I’ll do the same!

A good life

“Sleeping peace when day is done, that’s what I mean”–Nina Simone

You’ve probably heard a variation on this theme before, but so often we over look how good life is right now because of our striving to make things better.

So take a moment now and appreciate all that you love about your life.

Feel good? Feel better? Our habit is to look in the other direction. All the looming worries about this and that either appearing as overwhelming or as downright scary is where our attention naturally goes. We are programmed to look out for danger, even when the danger is merely a perception rather than a reality.

When I look for the good things in my life I am often inspired enough to creatively meet with those looming challenges. I receive a renewed confidence that I can maneuver through the upcoming obstacles with grace and willpower as my two wings of the proverbial bird. The grace is the bedrock of my own essence, the universe itself in this finite and individual form meeting with the infinite consciousness which animates this body. The willpower is my own drive to move forward and to be implacable in the face of any “threat” to my natural comfort zone.

So I look to and for the good things around me. Obvious stuff like a bed, a roof over my head, clean clothes, food to eat, air to breathe, friends and family. These things won’t disappear just because of something “out there” unless we let it. The choice is ours even when it seems we are out of options. And even if everything is taken from us we can find a way back to it if we apply effort and beckon grace from our heart.

These are just some morning thoughts.

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PLIGHT

Right now I am working on this project. I had to write 7 new chapters. I am making corrections and changes according to the edits you see in the proof copy above.

Before you get all excited, let me just say that the cover you see is not the cover it will actually be when all is said and done. It’s a cover-cover, and once it’s unveiled I think you’ll love it.

I just wanted you to really know that I am actually working on it!

I CAN’T WAIT TO GET THIS BOOK OUT TO YOU ALL! THANKS FOR BEING SO PATIENT! YOU ARE ROCK STARS!

Enthusiastic much? :)

 

 

All Blog and no Book?

It’s been nearly two years. All the other Indie writers/publishers have put out 5 times as many books as I have in the past year and a half! What the hell? It’s like all he does it talk  blog about his books, but we never see any of them!

wish writing were my full time career. But I simply don’t make enough money from it (yet) to quit my day-job and entertain your socks off. Give it time. I’ll get there. I’m getting there. Every word I say here is absolutely true. One day in the not too distant future I will be releasing actual books. And then we’ll see, as the blind man say!

Now back to it. “MUSH, Miss Tessmocker! North! North! NORTH!”

By Heart

Years and years ago, okay maybe just a few years ago I announced that I was writing my autobiography. And I was. But I am still young (I’ll be 35 in January) and had more to say in the realm of fiction than that of my life.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I’ve had a lot to say in both. But here is the thing about writing ones autobiography. Actually several things. It takes a while to compose a narrative that feels natural and meaningful and all ones own. Even so, we end up as writers (often times, anyway) sounding like an amalgamation of our favorite writers. It’s a blend all it’s own, to be sure, but you may pick up on the proverbial sound of other authors voices. I think it can’t be entirely helped. Another important aspect of this journey into sharing my life with you all is timing.

Timing is crucial for obvious reasons. I thought I had a story to share right after my heart attack stuff. The truth is that was only a small part of the story. I have grown as a person a lot since then. Many people who met and knew me back when I was on the Anusara track had a very different impression and understanding about who I was and what role I played. And so did I.

But life has a way of changing us. Not our physical features or our demeanor, per say, nor even our outlook (necessarily) but the ways in which we understand the world around us and how that more deeply informs the way we interact with ourselves and others.

So my upcoming memoir By Heart should be, if nothing else, quite interesting to those of you who shared a piece of history with me. And for those that didn’t, it may just be interesting nonetheless.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I thought I was ready a few years ago. But I wasn’t. I was far from it. Now apparently the busy-fairy-muse has come down in his Armani suit, smoking his cigar, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses and his hair expertly quaffed and told me it was time. Actually this is what my muse (who really does look like I describe him, oh and he’s thin and muscular, somehow I just know) said:

“Okay Scotty boy. You’re ready. Here’s what you’re gonna do. Capish?”

I hate it when he calls me Scotty anything, let alone boy. I don’t like the cigar or the faked Italian lingo. I don’t really like my muse all that much in truth. But he has a point.

I say, “What is it?”

He says, “Write your life story. Get it out. Been too long and I’m tired of waiting on you.”

“But what about the second book? Aren’t you tired of waiting on that?

He shakes his head and puffs smoke that no one can smell but me into the air. It’ blue and curly strands nearly waft into my face and I consider ducking, but I’ll just smell and feel it anyway.

“I got big plans for that one, but…for a little bit we gotta put it on the back forty.”

“Back forty!” He has a way with words that make me nervous.

“Ah jeez kid, just listen to me, will ya? It’s a temporary back forty. Don’t get your diapers soiled. Anyway I got big plans for you all the way around. We ain’t done by a long shot. Hey, mind putting me in your blog?”

“Yes, I mind,” I say. I do not want this pompous creep showing up on my blog at all. He kills my determination by what he says next.

“If you mind then you use it. Stop fucking around and listen to me. Pay attention. I ain’t your daddy, your guru, your saint guides, and I definitely ain’t your angel. Kid, what I am is deeper than all that. I come from what some call the Ocean of Story. And that means I’m in the business of sharing story. It’s a family business.” He cracks a smile at his own pun which I don’t fully understand. But I listen.

“Anyway,” he continues–and by now I think this is the longest conversation we have ever had–,”You write your life story. ‘Cause it ain’t really about you. It is and it ain’t. But you’re ready now. You have a few more cracks than you started out with. And that’s what gives Story it’s definition in both senses of that word. Now get to work. And put me in your blog or so help me I’ll up and leave your ass hanging for a few years. Want that?”

“No, I don’t,” I say. I don’t have to like my muse’s personality much but I do have to respect his influence. Which is powerful.

“Good. I’ll be seeing you then. ”

Think I’ll end this here and get back to work.

Yeah, it’s hard.

 If you’re wondering whether or not the things I choose in life are challenging or hard, then my basic answer is yes. Like a diamond. But that doesn’t stop me. In fact it urges me forward. I choose to meditate. It’s not easy sitting still and breathing and watching the play of thoughts and emotions or feelings move through awareness while not getting stuck in any of them, but accepting them in and breathing them down into the deep Heart and exhaling light to the world. It’s a service, it’s not meant to be easy.

Writing as many books as I do while holding a day-job? Also hard. Very hard. But oh so worth it. Publishing them myself? Getting them edited myself and with help from people on limited time-frames? Exasperatingly difficult!

In the end I like to think I’m crafting diamonds, or at least substance as shiny and hard as them. In the end I like to think that what I’m doing with my time will have lasting value and worth to those long after my body drops away. Time will tell, of course. I don’t know what will come of my works. Maybe something and maybe nothing. I know one thing is for sure, my books are selling. And those sales may eventually lead to people reading them. And in that reading maybe something I’ve said will open up new and profound vistas within someone to explore. If my words can be used as keys to someone’s consciousness then I’m all for it. If they can entertain only, then I’m all for that. We all need some way to pass our time in this world, and hopefully, gain something of value.

There was a cool 3 minute video I stumbled on youtube yesterday. And below you can listen. Because somehow it totally applies to this quick blog post. Enjoy!

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