8 Blog Years

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Before we all die I just want to say…

I almost failed to mention that this blog turned 8 last week. Normally I try not to forget about this “milestone” because it does mean a lot, but this week has been so crazy. What is striking to me is that I started this blog the year Obama started his first term.

Eight Years ago was such a different time. There was hope in the air and there a general feeling that we could get past the Bush years. I never once attributed the creation of this blog to the fact that Obama was the president but I’m sure that him being POTUS was part of an underlying feeling. One of my posts from 8 years ago is entitled Tired of Excuses because at that time I was telling students of color that I advised that there was simply no more excuses for them to not achieve.

I read that post and after realizing how dumb I sounded at the very end of it, I noticed that 8 years ago I was telling students something I should’ve been telling myself. At that time, I had yet reveal to myself that my marriage was failing. I had not yet realized that I could be so much more. The whole way I look at world has changed over the last 8 years because I decided to stop talking about what I want to do and did it.

I also think about all the people who have passed on in my life, friends that I lost, relationships destroyed, and bridges burned and before I can even think about going down a dark road of self doubt and despair, I think about the hope in my life. I think about the my current life, my love, my family, my friends, and the books I’ve written and I can’t help but be grateful that I did accomplish a lot in the last 8 years.

The world is different now.

This current climate does present a lot of material for writing but it will be darker. It will grittier and angrier. This was once a space where I can really get into my feelings of love and life and it has slowly morphed into a place where I express my rage at the world. I’m not sure what the next 8 years will bring, shit I’m not even sure we will be here next year (I don’t even kid you when I say that). What I do know is that I will not stop.

There was a time I thought about quitting this whole thing, but I cannot do that now. There is too much at stake.

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7 Years of Blogging

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On that rare occasion that I post two blogs in one day, you know that I must a have a good reason. I’ve been doing this for seven years. That’s crazy to me considering there are times where I wanted to stop blogging. But, I keep this going because writing has become my life.

I’m drugged up because I had two wisdom teeth pulled. I planned on going to work today but then I woke with pain and I’m like nah, I need to rest. So if this post seems somewhat different from usual ramblings then blame the good stuff I’m on. Let me just give into the drugs now and tell you all that I love you (this is how you know I’m either drunk or high).

Here I am in Year Seven and I’m working on my second book. I’m working on submitting short stories to places that accept them. I’m contemplating workshops to attend. These things are a far cry from what I was before all this started. I would’ve never guessed I would be two books deep at this point in my life.

In the back of mind is book three. I know it is crazy but at some point this year I will have to start writing that. I know what its about and I have written a little piece of it a few months ago.

What else can I say? I hope that you’ve read or will read Hanging Upside Down. I no longer ask people if they read it. The best thing I can do is move on and encourage people to support The Book of Isabel. All I can say about this book is that my style is evolving and I have extremely enjoyed the challenge of putting this particular story on paper.

I’m happy about the process. Not many people will read it and I know that. But that does not mean that I will stop and that is why I’ve been doing this for so long.

Mets/Dodgers Game 5 – How this effects my book… #LGM

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This is an important moment right now. When I finished draft one of The Book of Isabel, I knew there was a chance that I would have to re-write certain parts of the story because much of it takes place and the end of 2015. Clearly, the protagonist is a Mets fan and there would be a certain emptiness in the story if the playoff run (no matter how it ends) is not included in some way.

Understand that I finished draft one in early August, just as this team was just heating up. I could’ve made the decision to just wait and see what happens and then write the rest of the story but that would’ve disrupted the flow I had going. So now, here I am writing this post because I have to keep myself busy.

As I write this, the Mets are down 2-1 and I have to remember to focus on everything I’m feeling. Angst, nervousness, and the general feeling of not wanting to watch this game. If they lose, there will be numerous break downs of “the slide” and the lack of offense from David Wright. I believe it’s important to show how passionate the protagonist in my book is about all this. It’s almost easy to express love and hate, but to really get into how a person lives and dies with a team is something most of us can relate to.

This post is also proof that writing is more that just a hobby for me. It’s the only thing that keeping from biting my nails and pacing around this apartment (hold on as I watch them look silly against Grienke).

I think there’s something to be said for instantaneous twitter reactions. Stats like these pop up and I hate to see them.

A fan of the opposing team has to push it out of his/her mind, but I think the biggest thing I’ve had to deal with is the delay between TV coverage and mobile/twitter updates. I have to mute apps and turn off social media in the middle of an inning so that nothing is spoiled. Is that weird? To have spoilers during a live game? This isn’t Scandal and yet I have to be aware of that.

Mets just tied the game in the 4th inning on a sacrifice fly after a stolen base (during a walk…what?). My heart is racing because the Mets have decided to fight and I love it. Still fired up. I killed a Heineken and that won’t be the last.

Every inning is a different feeling. It’s clear the Dodgers are pushing the issue. I’m really trying not to be stressed but deGrom has been living dangerously all game. I’m not the type of person to pray for a win because something tells me that universe doesn’t care about such things. There is a part of me that feels prayers are finite and we should never waste them on trivial things. I will always pray for someone’s health but a game? Not so sure. If this is meant to happen then it will happen.

Daniel Murphy hits a home run.

I tried my best to not wake up my cousin who was sleeping (its a little after 10:00pm). It was a muffled scream. I jumped up and down. My bad, she’ll be alight. This whole game is now different but it isn’t over. Nervousness turns to pure anxiety. Now it’s a matter of counting the outs left until this game is over and (not) praying to God they don’t blow it. Which leads me to think about how I would re-write all this in my book. I didn’t want to assume that the Mets would even be in the playoffs. So now, I have to take notes of all the big things that are happening so that the reader can actually believe that the character LIVED these games.

Both starting pitchers are now out of the game going into the bottom of the 7th inning. I now understand why they call it the stretch inning. Nine more outs until I can say that the post season continues, but for now… a much needed bio break after beer number two has been consumed.

Noah Syndegaard is in the game and he’s dealing (thank Thor). That was my last beer because I only had two. I won’t even get into the fact that since I’ve become a vegetarian, I’ve become a liability with liquor. I’ve often thought about describing the transition of diets in the book too but that might be a little too much.

How much of a problem is Justin Turner? This ex-Met and current Dodger is killing us. The Mets couldn’t keep him because they have an all star third baseman, duh. I don’t remember him being this good and it’s a problem. Syndegaard blows him away. #THOR

The announcers brought up the fact that Murphy is a double away from getting a cycle. No has ever hit a post season cycle…and neither will he.

I’m not happy that Cespedes looks bad in this game versus great pitching. That may be an issues against the Cubs. <— Look at me assuming we will win this game! We are still up 3-2 and Jeurys Familia (our closer) is coming into this game in the 8th inning to get the last six outs. Wow. This man cruised by that inning. This may happen people!

This may be the longest blog post I’ve written and it makes me think about all the sports writers who do this all the time. They write an article, tweet, and watch the game. That is incredibly difficult considering they are probably at the game and have to run to do interviews afterward.

Dodgers, of course, bring in their closer Jansen to hold serve. I kinda laugh that he walked Flores to get to Familia for the rare closer vs closer match up at the plate. No surprises that Jansen wins that match up.

Three. More. Outs.

In a fitting effing move, Chase Utley comes to bat and flys out. I wont get into it with him. Ellis goes down swinging. OMG! This might be it! Kendrick Strikes out!!!

2015 Goals

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I have to admit that I needed this year to end. While this was a great year for me personally, there was just too many tragedies that I cannot readily ignore. Thus, any Facebook celebratory “year in review” isn’t something I was going to do.

As stated last year, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions but, rather, I set goals to accomplished by the end of the next year. Unfortunately, I only completed 50% of my goals this year but what I did accomplish, changed my life. 2015 will be interesting because of the nature of the 10 goals I’m setting.

I’ve always believed in doing the things that got me in the game. I love to write and the writer in me feels that I don’t do it enough. So, blogging more is something I have to do. I made that pledge last year and I wrote two less blogs this year than I did last year. At least, I’m not writing much less especially considering that I came out with my first novel this year. (Although, I DID write two Huffington Post articles…so technically I wrote the same amount…but whatever) However, it’s even more important that I finish book two. I’m already five chapters deep and once this holiday season is over, I plan on hitting the “pen to the pad” at full steam.

Hanging Upside Down is more of an accomplishment for me than I’m willing to admit. I’ve found it hard to celebrate with everything going on in my life and in the world. I need to be willing to put myself out there more and step up my hustle. I will not be satisfied until I sell 500+ copies next year.  I know I have my work cut out for me because I’m doing this all on my own. However, I do have family who will always help and because of that I need to go to Georgia to visit some long lost familia.

Which also brings me to my next point, spending more time with family. The death of a family member makes things difficult all around and yet it seems to instill a sense mortality in all of us. This has made me realize that I need to cherish my time more with the people that I care about the most.

Outside of all the personal issues, I need to read more. Again, this is another goal from last year that I bailed on but I feel that it’s important to try again. This time I have a little bit more of a motivation. This year, I have either met some authors or come to the realization that I have many friends who are authors. Not matter what the case is, it is my job as a friend and fellow author that I support and read their works.

I also need to focus a little bit more on my health. I wont go into how I’m facing oral surgery in January, but I do need to get a check up so I can get back to running. I would like to do more than just one 5k this year. Of course, part of my problem over the last few years is that I can be a bit of an insomniac. Lack of sleep is a problem for me that may have been halting my productivity. So basically, I need more sleep.

Finally, I’ve made a big decision that will help me with debt reduction. I’m moving out of Washington Heights. I have a long term goal to get my credit score up by the time I’m 50 and part of that is being able to save money. The move is a financial one with me being able to have extra money to pay bills. I roll my eyes because it just seems that no matter what my goals are, I am paying bills at one point or another.

So that is pretty much it. I assume this will be my last entry for 2014. It has been an interesting year. I hope you all set goals rather than resolutions. Happy New Year.

Dare

tumblr_n1t3kspdHq1qcrr5qo8_r1_500Writing a novel has been such a process of high’s and lows that, in a way, I would have to be a little nuts to want to do this again. Yet, that desire to continue on to another process and write until I can’t anymore has become something close to borderline obsession. Trust me when I say that I know what obsession is all about. The title and cover picture of this blog alone is based on my love for the Transformers Generation One.

Transformers: The Movie came out in 1986 and it still resonates with me because at its core there is a theme about never giving up. Sure, everything else about it is awesome from the fighting scenes to the voice actors and the amazing soundtrack. Which brings me to the title, Dare by Stan Bush. This is one of my favorite songs of the entire film. It works sequentially well with the action but the lyrics are just as powerful. Here is the chorus:

tumblr_n1t3kspdHq1qcrr5qo1_500Dare, dare to believe you can survive
You hold the future in your hand
Dare, dare to keep all of your dreams alive
It’s time to take a stand
And you can win, if you dare

Understand that I was 12 years old when this movie came out. While everyone else loves The Touch (and they should because it is iconic), I loved Dare because it spoke to me and as a matter of fact, it still speaks to me as a 40 year old. I understood then as I do now that I had to take matters into my own hands if I wanted to do something in my life and as simple that may sound, we all know doing it is extremely difficult.

I talk about fear a lot on this blog because fear can stop delay me from doing something. There was a time when fear stopped me from doing many things but I have learned to deal with this issue, however, it has made me think twice about myself and my novel. Not to be cliche-ish but it was time to take a stand. I knew that they only way to be successful is to take risks.

I mentioned obsession and proof of this can been seen on my Google+ account. I have been watching this movie on and off for the last two weeks. It was a huge deal in ’86 because no other animated film bases on a television series was this graphic and violent. I loved it because believe it or not it helped me deal with the concept of death and how to move past it. Why was that important? My grandmother died prior to me seeing this film.

I do remember no one wanting to take me to see this movie so I had go the Whitestone Multiplex in Bronx alone and witness this awesomeness. In many ways, I remained obsessed with the movie by waiting for it to come out on VHS and then years later, DVD. I remember buying the soundtrack on CD after I graduated college. I listen to it too much even to this day. I will mention that you may not want to watch the movie with me because I know all the words and will say them verbatim. I even reference it the novel.

Yes, I am obsessed but you know what? I dared to be this way. I dared to survive all my issues. The deaths, the divorces, the move, the disappointments, the rejections and I dared to write this novel. I’m sure in a few weeks I will stop watching Transformers and move to something like Star Wars, but I still dare to be great.

Titles are Everything

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I’m at a point in my life where titles are important. In my mind, there is a difference between being called a blogger and being called an author. There is a certain amount of literary prestige that comes with the latter title. That might because writing books is one of the oldest professions in the history of man and it continues to be something special.

I’ve been fending off the notion that I’m an author until the novel comes out because I never wanted to be considered something that I haven’t earned yet. However, with each hurdle that have past in the process of self publishing, I realize that the title author is something that I’ve already achieved. I gained this title the moment I registered the finished novel with the an ISBN. This golden number can now open the doors of self publishing. It has allowed me to upload the manuscript on createspace and work on the interior of the book.

This means that I’m no longer concerned with wording as much as I may be concerned about the size of the font. I already know the paperback size which is just a part of the larger realization that all of this is actually happening. I have doubted myself for months thinking about how much I have talked about this novel with very little results to show because I couldn’t give anyone a specific date that the book was coming out. Sure, I did have hope that this book would’ve been out by now but the process has taken much longer than I’ve anticipated.

WIthout a cover, it’s hard to predict a date but that did not stop me from applying to the Goodreads Author program. This is a site that I joined a few years ago as an avid reader. When the book club I was in existed, the books were tracked by Goodreads. I have a record of just about every book I have read and that helps me realize the range of books I’ve digested. At some point last year, I realized that some of my fellow bloggers are in the author program and I promised myself that when I get the chance, I will be a part of this.

The reason why I wanted this so bad is because the program would allow me to combine all my writing projects. I would be able to add my blog and have the novel displayed all on the same page. There may be in option for any future articles from the Huffington Post. More importantly, it gives me place where I can finally say, officially, that I have a book coming out with a projected date of October 1st (this could change to an earlier date).

It’s hard to explain how much doing this means to me. We’re not just talking a page that highlights the book. We are talking about me being in the same author program with folks like Junot Diaz and Toni Morrison (who are LEGENDS). This has also forced me to come up with a synopsis of the book which I really didn’t have before. So when I forget how to answer that question of…”what’s the book about?” I can look up what I wrote. lol

For the first time I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to say that I’ve arrived but I will say that I’m in the general area. Thanks again for all the support.

Five Years a Blog

20140122-134555.jpgI have been racking my brain to come up with a good intro to this blog and I simply can’t. There is no better way to say that I have been a consistent writer. I have found time for myself over the last five years to continue something that I once considered a hobby. Now this blog is simply another facet of who I am.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a time (when I was a Padawan) when I wrote a blog entry every day for four months. Now, my blogs are sparse because life has changed for me. I think that my writing and the overall look of this blog has evolved along with my outlook on life. I’m just glad I have this outlet that people occasionally read.

What these years have taught me more than anything else is that I need to maintain my sense of humility. I have made mistakes that are not like typos that I can just fix with a keyboard. I will carry those for as long as I need too. However, there have been successes. I think that I have gained more support since I left Blogger to come to WordPress and I’m very happy about that.

The future is still unclear though. There is a serious thought about stepping my blog game up once again. I currently do not pay for this site and to me, it shows. I remember at one point I had my own domain name. My ridiculously amateurish blog from the late 90’s was under my full name with a dot com. I asked myself, “why would anyone search for me under this url?” Nowadays, that doesn’t sound so crazy, but I’m still not using my first name. If I do decide to go down this road, I will have many names to choose from.

For the near future, I’ve decided on lending my blog out next month to independent Black/Latino Comic Book writers. I made the call out to them in various channels and I will be emailing them with the next 12 hours about logistics. The goal is to promote writers of color that many people don’t know about.

I’m hoping year five will be better than year four. When the book comes out, this will be the hub of all the business. Let’s just hope that business will be good.

Thanks for your support over the last how many years, months, or days you have been reading. I appreciate the support.

Woven

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The novel has slowly been making its rounds through the test readers and it makes me feel more excited about this particular journey. I can sit here, in front of laptop, all day and spit out blogs but I don’t think the act of writing little e-journals can highlight the total potential of someone’s literary skill. Nor do I think having 37.2k in tweets (which is how often I have been on Twitter since I joined) determines if you are a superstar. Yet, I’m always taken back by the amount of positive feedback I get from people who have read my entire book all the way through.

My editor (who is an SU alum because that’s how we roll) constantly tells me that I need to stop being surprised that people like what they’re reading.  There were several conversations that I had with her where I confessed that simply thought this novel wasn’t good enough. Shit, there were time when I actually hated what I was writing. I thought that perhaps my writing was too crude, too sexual, too crass, and too honest. But, she knows me well enough to remind me that fear has a way of distorting the way we view our own work.

Sure, I have talked about fear in length but the subject never gets old to me. I think its because there is a part of me that fears everything. I fear both failure and success but interestingly enough, I’m more prepared for failure. I’m almost 40 years old and I still don’t know how to prepare for success. What’s that supposed to look like? I can have avid dreams about winning the lottery and fictitiously plan out how I’m going to pay bills and live this super fantastic life. But that is just as fiction and the novel I wrote. There is no class in college that prepares you for success.

But then there is the more realistic side of my thoughts. What’s there to prepare for? We are talking about a self published novel and I’m completely realistic about the number of people that may actually buy this book. I will do my social media pushes but I do not anticipate my life changing much. I didn’t start writing because I wanted to become famous. I started it because this is something I just want to do.

That first story I ever wrote in 8th grade still lingers in my head. Writing was the one thing that I could do better than any one else in that class. My fellow classmates read this story that was based on a dream I had about how werewolves attacked the school. I was 8th grade famous for about a week. In High School, I wrote smut stories about some of my female teachers (ok, it wasn’t a proud moment…I was 14) that spanned pages and pages of loose leaf. I threw them away for fear that my mother would find them as she did the stash of Playboys I had in my drawer that I stole from my dad. lol

The point is that writing is something that I have always had time for. I still think about the comic book universe I created all those years ago and how I might, one day, still write about them. All my writing are woven together in some strange way, I just cannot be afraid to unleash it.

2014 Goals

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In many ways, I feel like this year has gone by so fast. For the most part, it’s probably because I’m really enjoying my life and time flies when you’re having fun. I looked at the goals I set for myself this past year and I didn’t do all that bad. Some, of course, I didn’t even come close to accomplish and others I nailed.

So the disclaimer in all this is that I do not do New Year’s Resolutions. I set goals so that I can feel a little bit more accomplished by the end of the next year. I only completed 60% of my goals from last year but I suppose that is better then zero. I will try to do better for 2014. I will set ten personal goals and move from there.

The absolute number one goal for next year is get this novel published. I can’t stress that enough. I have put a lot of work into this book and I’m looking forward to this process being over. There are so many things that will go into this (like designing the cover, getting an ISBN, and getting an editor) and I’m ready for it. The one thing that I cannot let interfere with this process is fear. Trust me, I have a lot of it but I’m pushing through it.

Despite all my novel writing, the change in websites, and the multiple Huffington Post entries, I still think I do not blog enough. I have so many unfinished blogs that it is not even funny. Lately, I have gotten either easily distracted or have been too damn busy. My former life in Central NY was not like this. I just need to blog more.

Writing is one thing but reading more is also another goal of mine. For some reason I fell off with this and I need to get back on my reading habit. I really felt it after seeing Zadie Smith talk at Barnard College a few months back and than it was solidified after seeing Junot Diaz speak with Toni Morrison. Now that I have an upgraded Nook, I will be taking reading more seriously. I think I will try to read about 14 books next year.

I ‘m also getting old. I turn 40 in June and I have no idea what I’m doing. I would like to do something awesome for my birthday but I just can’t fathom what that would be. Perhaps a huge celebration? Who knows? What I do know is that I need to continue to exercise. I fell off that wagon too. I have always said that a 5k is in my future and I think in my 40th year, I should just do it.

This past fall, I started going to church again. Much of that had to do with trying to be the god father to my niece, Maya. I found myself getting up early on Sunday and going to mass and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, once Maya got baptized, I stopped going so I think it would be a good idea to start going again. Maybe not every Sunday but maybe twice a month.

The reason for wanting to go back is that I did feel at peace when I was in church. This was more about my own faith with God rather than the church itself. It has also made me think about volunteering and donating more to the neighborhood or just in general. Of course donating is always a little hard but as I continue my debt reduction things will get easier. I’m just happy that I paid off my car this month.

I have been in NYC for almost a year in a half now and I’ve returned to my old ways as a New Yorker, which means that I don’t visit other things unless food is involved. I feel like I need to explore NYC more. I was in the Williamsburg section Brooklyn a few weeks ago and it surprised me how nice certain parts of BK can be (yes, that is the Bronx in me talking). I also went to the Linkedin office a few weeks ago and they are in the Empire State Building which made me realize that that was the first time I’ve ever been in there. Yeah. I have to do better. lol

Finally, I need to visit my dad. I have not been to Florida in years and I need to go back. It just so happens that I will be heading to a conference in Orlando in April. Plans are not finalized but I look forward to the confernce that will turn into a family vacation. Disney is calling my girlfriend’s name.

I hope you all have some goals to set. Once you set goals then you are ready to achieve them. The picture above is from the article Life: Why Should You Set Goals for 2014? Read it. Happy Goal-Setting!

Not Feeling It

49One thing I that I’ve learned about myself is that I’m an emotional writer of sorts. When it comes to my own creative work and this blog, I need to be in a certain mood. When I’m not feeling it, I simply cannot write a word. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe it’s a writer’s block of some kind.

As much as I haven’t written on this blog, I have made up in editing and adding to the novel. I don’t want to think that I can’t do both, but currently I’ve been feeling a certain way about life and things that I normally talk about. I’ve gotten tired of a lot things, mostly to the point that I feel that anything I write about is just redundant. I mean, what else can I really say that I’ve already said? Sure, I can go on a rant about George Zimmerman and how people are finally seeing him for the snake he is despite the fact that he had to (allegedly) hit a white woman for the majority to get to that conclusion. I can go on about my issues with Kanye West and Jay Z but what happens is that people defend their idols without critically thinking about what is going on. I’m just tired of that.

So lately, I have been reserved because I know how powerful words are and how jumping the gun on things without serious thought can effect me and others around me. I have been reserved because speaking out on issues lately has been sort of like yelling in a vacuum. People need to see things for themselves.

It is also not lost on me that perhaps I feel a certain why because I’m getting older. Maybe my world views are changing because of my experiences. This does not mean I’m becoming a conservative, God No! That would be horrible. What it means is that I have been really analyzing myself and the way I do things and I feel that perhaps I’ve been closing myself off to certain things.

A good example of this is two weekends ago I was with some my cousins in the Bronx. These women are some of the most conscious Afro Latinas I know. They are highly intelligent and pretty much embody the type of critical thinking I wish more people had. So we got on to the subject about movies and this is something I feel very uncomfortable about because I haven’t been to a movie theater in long time. The last movie I saw was the train wreck that was Man of Steel.

So, they start talking about 12 Years a Slave and I found myself utterly quiet. I made a vow to myself that I would never pay to watch a slave movie once Django came out and I, sure as shit, wasn’t going watch The Butler either. However, I have forgotten that my family loves to debate and analyze things and I found myself without a voice because I chose not to be a part of this conversation about slavery since I did not see the movie (nor have I read the book which I intend on remedying).

That didn’t make feel all that good. I still think that Django has ushered us into an era of slavery movies that will be unsettling considering that most Black actors can’t seem to get a fair shot at movie roles. It is particularly unsettling when you think about how many fans of The Hunger Games series think that all the characters should be white. But in any case, unsettling or not, I have taken myself out the game by not viewing everything as whole.

I pride myself in viewing the world the way I do. I think that I’m not delusional in the way the world operates, however, I have come to realize that all the preaching about anti-isms has an effect. I guess I’m also tired of being frustrated and angry about the things I read and see on the news. I can’t always be angry with the world because I have enough gray hairs as it is. Yet, I think that I focus too much on the negativity which is why I picked the image for this post. If you stare too hard at something…it disrupts your perception of everything else.

I came to this realization yesterday. The first thing I did to improve on my quality of like was take my woman to the movies.