Silver Linings…

It’s been an interesting year.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about 2016, be it good or bad. Political turmoil and celebrity tragedy aside, I have found that a number of these moments have kind of tainted my year end. With that came a skewed view of the year, retroactively. It became a dark cloud that threatened to envelope the last three hundred sixty-five days when in reality, it’s been a pretty good year.

Truly, it’s not an epiphany I came to on my own – no emotional realization is ever my own doing. It’s the work of a lot of different sources talking me off a lot of simultaneous (and metaphorical) ledges. But eventually, I usually come around.

Like always, when I finally do, I strap on the optimism and redouble my efforts to be a positive influence. Really, that is my favorite thing about this time of year. The unbridled love and kinship for our fellow man, even and especially in the face of adversity. It’s so easy to be bleak, but to cling to optimism and look with blind hope toward the coming year, that is magic. It’s a wonder we haven’t found a way to manufacture this sense of togetherness and optimism at other points of the year. It really is something we should work on.

Obviously, that ball drop at midnight is not some magical eraser. The new year doesn’t come as a clean slate that forgives and forgets. Pain and loss will still be there, depleted savings will still be depleted. But there is hope. There is always hope. And like last year and many years before it, here I am again, ready to draw back the curtain on a coming year.

I wish that you have all the best things happen to you this next year.
I hope that you find joy in all things, no matter how small.
I pray that you not only feel the goodness in the world around you, but that you push that goodness forward into all those around you.
And I hope that even if none of this happens to you, if nothing good happens to you at all, I hope that you still have a silver lining to gaze upon.

I wanted to track down some sort of inspirational quote to sign off the year with, but I kept thinking back to something I wrote myself. It’s self-serving, yes, but it’s also something I mean with all my heart. It was the first taste of holiday goodness to reach out to me this year, and I hope it instills you with the same fire that possessed me to write it in the first place.

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Thank you all for a wonderful 2016.

Happy New Year.

My Father & Mr. Brooks

Many years back, when I was a precocious young lad, my father devised an ingenious method of education and torture – you’ve heard of edutainment? This is tortucation – or it might have been for some other kid.

When I got in trouble, my punishment was not a simple grounding. Instead, I had to read a book and write a book report. At home. Had to. The horror.

I was allowed to choose the book, but my dad got veto. I wasn’t such a fan of writing then, but I already enjoyed reading. The writing… well, you can see where that got to. I was already a reader, I don’t think anything in the world could have stopped that. I had a good system and a lot of encouragement to get me into books. But if ever there were a fundamental set of moments in my life that turned me into a reader, this is where it started.

While I got to choose many of my own “punishments,” on occasion my dad would pick out a book and tell me that was the one I was going to read. It was a test. He’d pick out books he already knew, and ask me questions about them, to see what I was getting from the reading. Often enough, I was getting the story, but not the subtext. I needed to be persuaded into understanding that – I won’t lie, it took years.

But through this process, I was introduced to many of the greats: Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffery, Harlan Ellison… and somewhere among them was Terry Brooks. And of all the authors that attempted to cross the line from the “dad’s authors” camp into my own favorites, Terry was one of the few who truly won me over with his brand of fantasy.

When people recollect their favorite stories, when they get glassy eyed about a story, like they’ve been there – like they’ve lived there… for me, that was Landover, the magical land in Magical Kingdom for Sale – SOLD.

I’m not going to get into the story. I’m not even going to persuade you with anything but the fact that I love it. It was MY Harry Potter… long before Harry would ever figure out his legacy. It’s a series that I have never finished, mostly because I didn’t want it to end. But after last night – close to twenty-five years after that first introduction – I feel like I should finally finish it. I feel like I owe Mr. Brooks that much.

I met Terry Brooks tonight at a signing in one of my favorite places – Schuler Books, Eastwood. (There’s nothing wrong with the Okemos one, I just prefer Eastwood.) He read us a bit of his latest work, he answered all the questions we had to offer. He was charming and down-to-earth and just everything we all hope our idols will be.

And if you have ever met one of your heroes, you know that everything you think about while you are watching them, everything you think about when you are in line, everything you want to say – it’s gone when it’s your turn to say anything. Maybe you are better than me, but I stammered out a thank you. It carried all of the words I wanted to say, and whether he heard all that or not, he still seemed appreciative.

Then I did something I had been debating since I parked my car.

I brought a bookmark. One of my bookmarks. On the front was the House of Thirteen cover, and on the back, I wrote something (in the car, where I left most of my wit and courage).

I wrote: “Terry – Thank you. For a lifetime of inspiration.” Then I signed it.

I handed it to him and stammered out something about hoping it’d be worth more someday. He looked at it, then he said thank you to me.

Me.

We talked for a quick second, he asked where he could find my books, and he said he’d check me out. I got a photo, we shook hands, and that’s where my moment ended. Even if it was just banter, I appreciate the hell out of it.

Seriously, Terry Brooks, thank you. For the twenty-five years of wonder you have instilled in me. For being part of a great and wonderful pantheon that I strive to one day join.

For being you. And for doing what you love.

Thank you.

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One week away…

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an event. I have to say, I’ve missed them. They are a lot of fun, on both sides of the table. I love talking to people who stop by the table, whether they want to talk about my books, the magic of idea crafting, or the art of writing itself. I also really enjoy my boothmates. An event is really only as much fun as the people you surround yourself with and this time around, I’m pulling out all the stops.

September 13, in the Kerrytown district of Ann Arbor is the 13th annual Kerrytown Bookfest. Not only will I be there, but I will have books, and merchandise, and ye olde Bad Drawings sketch pad. I’ll also be sharing my space with fellow author J. Thomas-Like, who will also be offering her wonderful words to the masses. And right next door, I’m proud to say we’ll be neighboring with Kate of ChicalooKate – it promises to be some awesome fun YOU should be a part of!

I don’t want to ruin all the surprises, but I will say that this is the first time you will be able to purchase Empty Hallways and House of Thirteen notebooks and magnets!

Notebooks!

Glorious notebooks for all your writing wonder!

Upcoming Events!

September 18 – 19, 2015:
Author Extravaganza at the Made in Michigan Market
Fri. 1 – 8pm, Sat. 11am – 5pm

October 25, 2015:
Books & Authors event at Leon & Lulu
11am – 2pm

November 7, 2015:
House of Thirteen Book Launch at Book Cottage
12pm – 3pm

Story time!

I am not a semi-finalist in the Write Michigan short story competition. I am however, excited to read these competition pieces. The judging opens up to the public later today, but you can start reading now. As promised, my submission is below. Make sure to take time to visit the Write Michigan site… it’s hard to pass up 30 short stories begging to be read. Continue reading

Let’s get this year started.

You can say what you like about the weather lately; it’s been pushing the cold and dreary around here. People have lost a little of their holiday luster and are ready to move into the warmer months, but for me… this is where it all begins. Continue reading

Another 50,000 words out of my head…

I just hit the fifty thousand word mark on my manuscript. According to NaNoWriMo, that makes me a winner. So, what does a winner do? He stays at the keyboard to update his blog. Awesome. What else? Continue reading