Lucky Rabbit’s Foots?

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He sat down three stools away with his wallet in his hand to signal he was ready to spend his money. She didn’t notice him or, at least he didn’t notice her notice him through his peripherals. He has good peripherals or so he thinks. He estimates them to be at a 210-degree angle, give or take a degree. He wondered what constituted having above average peripherals. He should Google it he thought as the bartender finally noticed him.

“Get you something to drink?” The beardy bartender asked.

“Uhh, yeah. Yes, please.” He answered.

“Okay. What would you like?” The bartender replied emphasizing each word as if talking to a child.

“Any IPA on draft will be good. Thanks.” He hurriedly answered as to not seem like the idiot the bartender was implying him to be. Mr. Rude Beardy nodded and headed to the taps. He stood there awkwardly starring up at the back of the bar seemingly admiring the bottles on display. He didn’t care much though and used his superior peripherals to see what she was doing three stools down. She’s either petting a small animal or rubbing a rabbit’s foot for luck. No, wait she’s just scrolling her phone. That makes more sense. Who actually carries rabbit’s foots anymore anyways he thought? Is it rabbit’s foots or rabbit’s feet? He knew of course the plural of foot is feet but in the circumstance of referring to more than one lucky rabbit’s foot would you still say rabbit’s feet? He figured that could get confusing because then people would just assume you were talking about the feet attached to live rabbits. He assumed if you stated lucky first then it would clarify but still it would be worth Googling.

“$4.50.” Rude Beardy had startled him out of his rabbit’s foot quandary and he jumped slightly. The bartender gave him a quick eyebrow raise to confirm that Rude Beardy did in fact think he was moron. He fumbled with his wallet with sweaty hands from having been grasping it for the last five minutes and pulled out his card. Rude Beardy grabbed it and asked,

“Leave it open?”

“Uhh, yeah sure. Thanks.” He replied and went to sip the IPA tilting it too quickly before it actually reached his lip and dribbled down the glass and his chin. He heard a small titter and looked over at her smiling to herself and staring into her phone.

“Whoops.” He said quietly in her direction getting her attention. She looked over at him while removing an earbud from her furthest ear and asked quizzically,

“Sorry, what?”

“Oh, uhh nothing I just said whoops.” He answered.

“Umm, okay.” She replied dragging out the KAY after the O with an upward inflection. Slightly confused he muttered almost inaudibly,

“Cause I spilled my beer down my chin and you laughed so I said ‘Whoops’”

“I’m sorry do I know you or something?” She asked seriously.

“Oh, uhh, no. I just. I heard you laugh when I spilled my beer and, uh, I said ‘Whoops’ because you laughed or whatever so…”

“No I didn’t. I was laughing at something on my phone. Not at you.” She interrupted matter-of-factly and turned back to her phone replacing her earbud in the furthest ear and swiftly finding the other to close out all future communication with him. He promptly turned forward and squinting with manufactured interest, starred at the bottles behind the bar once more for comfort. He could see her scrolling her phone again and slightly turned his head to glance in her direction simultaneously catching her looking at him in her peripherals with a furled lip of disgust and slight fear. He turned towards her and opened his mouth to speak realizing she wouldn’t hear him and tentatively raised his finger to grab her attention. She reluctantly removed her earbuds and slowly and stiffly turned toward him, lip furled and eyes wide.

“What?” She emphatically snapped at him.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to. I saw you catch me looking at you in your peripherals and I…”

“My what?” She raised her voice and this got Rude Beardy’s attention. He looked over as the bartender gave a concerned look in her direction and they made eye contact. Rude Beardy eyed him sternly and headed down the bar.

“Oh no I wasn’t. I didn’t do anything. She was just looking at me in her peripherals. I said, ‘Whoops’. I just spilled my IPA and I said ‘Whoops’ cause I thought she laughed and it. I misunderstood. She was just uh. “ He stuttered.

“Is there a problem her miss?” Rude Beardy heroically asked.

“No!” He loudly interjected causing both her and Beardy to cock there heads and necks back. She looked him up and down with the furled lip but left her mouth agape as well signaling an utter disapproval and said,

“This dude is a weirdo”

“No, no, no, no,” He quickly jumped in to save himself. “I was just. I said ‘Whoops’ and it was an accident with my. I thought she was laughing at me and I saw her in my peripherals. Er, no she saw me in her peripherals. I just. Uhh.” He paused and realized they both gave him the mouth agape, big eyes disgust face and he quickly inquired,

“Is it rabbit’s foots or rabbit’s feet, do you think?”

The Neurotic Romantic

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Lay where you’re lying.

My dear we’re dying.

Eventually I mean.

Not specifically right this moment; I mean there’s no telling when we could go; it could quite possibly be today but we have no way of knowing such things unless you’re psychic or have a time machine. Wait, do you have a time machine?

 

Now is our moment.

Our love is potent.

It is strong and forever.

Well not forever, per say, because forever is longer than the human mind can even calculate since the universe is almost 14 billion years old already and we’ll probably be lucky to make it to a hundred unless we kickoff early like I mentioned before but I’m pretty optimistic in that particular endeavor.

 

Pull you in closer.

Losing composure.

I want you here and now love.

Honestly though, only if you’re up to it. I don’t want to pressure you into anything and have you resent me down the line because you felt forced or something like that. I’d prefer to wait for when we’re both ready and believe me, I know I can lock down this fervor and rise above.

 

Our bodies entwined.

One thing on my mind.

In flagrante delicto.

Sorry, that’s Latin I believe. I’m not trying to seem pompous or anything, it’s like one of four phrases I know in Latin and I’m not even sure what it means. I could be using it wrong but I think it’s something like caught in the act though.

 

Your pleasure comes first.

I control my thirst.

Your enjoyment is my own.

I assume you’re enjoying this; you certainly are putting on an amazing act if you’re not but what do I know about the female orgasm. I only know what I’ve seen in pornography which, arguably is not the best way to learn but sex was not something my parents ever discussed in my home.

 

You are a giver.

Bliss you deliver.

I cannot control my lust.

That is incredible but if you could just slow down for a minute it would really help me make this more of memorable experience. Well, I want it to be memorable for the right reason if you know what I mean and in order for that to happen taking it slow is a must.

 

Our desires have peaked.

True passion is reached.

We near harmonious ends.

Wait, you are close right? I’m not sure where we landed before on whether you were, you know, “getting off” or not and I don’t want to seem selfish because I’m not I will stay here all day if that’s what this situation calls for just to make amends.

 

Beautiful ending.

Our souls ascending.

We reach absolute apex.

Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry I just can’t hold onto it any longer. Are you close? You’re close right? You don’t really seem like you are but I’m so sorry I just can’t. That usually doesn’t happen. You’re just so beautiful and it’s been a long time since I’ve had sex.

Marooned Afternoon

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(photo: http://www.lenny.com)

 

Cloudless afternoons after cocktails and macaroons

Marooned on a couch in this listless living room

Listening to tales of cocks’ spurs while macaroni’s consumed

Counting countless macramé mats adorn lavish festoons

 

Call us cowards or masochists or at least buffoons

Matching the measurements of our cocks taken by rule

Laying out cushioning entranced inside tubular tombs

Tuning into the television for the latest caustic cartoons

 

Questioning the lastingness of telepathy on tantalized fools

Maneuvering cocksurely through the mind’s turnstiles in tune

Letting taxes, tracksuits and tract marks align adjoining attitudes

Co-conspiring to cancel the masses of taxidermists’ baboons

 

Taking the cautious calculation of most calculated moves

Meandering might be the most major of melancholy moods

After all is said and done last loner to leave levels to soon

Crescendo of light in the tepid triteness of laughter in the afternoon

Guilty Pleasures

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We all have those things that we aren’t very proud of admitting to others, or ourselves most of all probably. We refer to them as guilty pleasure. Whether it be a particular dessert, cheesy pop song, tabloid magazine, or reality show (how are those still a thing, really) we can all say that we possess at least one guilty pleasure.

 

Notice I said ‘at least’ one. For many it’s a few and for some it’s too numerous to count and these pleasures end up controlling lives.

 

I’m no different and I’ve had my share in the past including the before mentioned reality shows. (What was it about Jersey Shore?) As someone who tries to watch less and less television I removed guilty pleasure shows a while ago. I view my time as valuable and 99% of the time spent watching television is wasted. Our lives are short. Shorter than we ever anticipate and can end unexpectedly at any moment. I try to use my time productively these days especially after having wasted so much of my twenties in an alcohol or drug-induced guilty pleasure haze. (But man did I have a fucking blast, can’t remember it all but, F’ing A!)

 

Nowadays I spend my time as usefully as possible. As you might know I want to be a writer (Exhibit #1: Blog) and try to spend as much time as I can on writing. I’ve always been active and when playing sports became less accessible as an adult I began exercising regularly which in turn evolved into eating healthier and eventually an overall consciousness of the well being of my body and now mind (I’m a recent convert to daily meditation and affirmations and let me tell you, it’s the shit.) I have a couple jobs and I, of course, have to do all the normal maintenance of life like grocery shopping, laundry, etc. I try to get outdoors often but that seems to be the activity that gets the short end considering my wife isn’t really an outside person. With the remainder of my time I catch a movie with the wife or try to stay up on the shows I do care about (a Game of Thrones blog is in the near future I can feel it.) The other spare minutes of the day go to eating and reading.

 

I read anything. When I was kid it was strictly sports novels (Matt Christopher, Mike Lupica, and so on), then horror (R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike), in my teen years I read what I was forced to in class (I was too cool for books.) When I matured into a young adult I became pretentious and read Palahnuik, Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson. Not to say these authors are douchey or not worth reading, quite the contrary. I’m still a huge fan of all three (I have a tattoo referencing Vonnegut for my’s sake.) But if I’m being honest, and that’s kind of the direction I’m trying to take my writing, I only began reading them so people would see how cool I was. Regardless of why I started reading them I did and I’m thankful for it.

 

Once I started working for Borders Books my senior year of college it all changed. The beauty of working in a bookstore or library, as I now do, is having so many choices right at my fingertips. Say what you will about Ebooks, they are the future after all, but nothing compares to browsing shelves full of books. I could do it for hours on end.

 

It introduced me to the endless options and I began reading anything that would peak my interest. I jump all over the place now. I read a biography here a science book there. Next I’ll give a spiritual book a shot and maybe self-help for good measure. (Always be learning; always be growing.) I have to remind myself sometimes to fit in a fiction whether it be mystery, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, classics, or literary. I jump back to a sports book, health, business or leadership, and top it off with a graphic novel now and again.

 

Pete, what the hell does this have to do with guilty pleasures? I will tell you me asking myself a question as if I’m someone else. Roll with me here because (and it might not seem like it considering my next sentence) I’m getting to my point, I promise you.

 

Have you ever watched television in your hotel room? Sure, who hasn’t right? Typically you’re on business or pleasure so you don’t spend much time doing it but when you wind down for the day it’s one of the few comforts that remind you of home in a foreign room on a foreign bed you’re trying desperately to ignore. Have you ever noticed? It never fails. You will notice this every time you stay from now on. You will find Forensic Files. And let me tell you how absolutely pumped I get every time I do!

 

Guilty pleasure is not the phrase to describe how infatuated I am with that show. I’m not certain why either. Likewise, I remember as a kid, watching Autopsy on HBO. You don’t find shit like that on regular television. I mean it’s not TV is it? It’s HBO. I’ve always been weirdly into movie about serial killers as well. Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal (Manhunter and Hannibal Rising I guess), Copycat, Psycho (anything Hitchcock really), Seven, Natural Born Killers, all the slashers (Jason, Michael, Ghostface, Leatherface, not so much Freddy), Identity, American Psycho, any biopic about a real serial killer and the list goes on. Loved the first six or so seasons of Criminal Minds but now, ehh. While living in Hollywood I even visited the Museum of Death and although interesting I left feeling sick to my stomach. (I might have crossed a threshold with that experience.)

 

While checking in books recently at the library I work at, I came across The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. I’ve never read any true crime. No reason why, I just never have. A genre that’s been around for centuries now has quickly grown over the last half century and only continues to welcome new fans. Not only in literature but the increasing rise in documentaries and mini series popping up left and right. If you haven’t seen Netflix’s Making a Murderer or HBO’s The Jinx then you will never know what the word intriguing was created for. Also, Netflix has a new series called The Keepers that I haven’t checked out yet but has received good reviews. It’s the story of Sister Cathy Cesnik’s 1969 disappearance, death and the alleged massive cover-up involving the Catholic Church.

 

I’ve seen a lazy biopic about Ted Bundy called, Ted Bundy, and he’s been referenced in pop culture since his existence was discovered. Honestly, it’s hard not to know who Ted Bundy is. In a culture infatuated with “his kind of people” the names Manson, Bundy, Dahmer, and the like are as recognizable as Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, or King.

 

You could argue that Ann Rule is the queen of true crime. She died less than two years ago but during her time she wrote extensive articles for true crime magazines and over 30 books. When I cracked open the cover of her book I was surprised to learn that she knew, worked with, and was close friends with Ted Bundy before, during, and after his arrest, incarceration, and eventual death by electric chair. In fact, hired to write about a string of killings in Washington State that was eventually discovered to be the work of Bundy, the ultimate publication would turn out to be her “big break” in the industry.

 

Fascinated I decided, I’ve read every other genre of book out there I might as well. This is where the term, guilty pleasure, takes on its most appropriate meaning. Writing this now and knowing someone will read it leaves me feeling, at best, embarrassed and at worst, immoral. I read through the book in less than a week, which is a feat for my attention span. I couldn’t put it down until I almost exactly reached the halfway mark, right around the time Rule, herself, finally realized for absolute certainty that Bundy was the man he was charged to be.

 

I could feel it effecting my mood and outlook on humanity. What was once a guilty pleasure became sheer guilt. Through Rule’s skillful writing and personal connection to Bundy I became so engrossed that my own sense of guilt for just involving myself in the words of those horrendous crimes surfaced and left me feeling sick and depressed. The only escape was finishing the book. I continued reading it whenever I had free time but, at that point, only to finish it as quickly as possible.

 

As a reader, I highly recommend the book if you’ve never read true crime and want to break into the genre. Rule gives insight like most authors can’t because of her involvement and it allows the reader to really become a part of the story. If you share some of my guilty pleasures regarding the morbid it’s worth checking in out.

 

As a human being, I feel ashamed. Furthermore I wonder if we overuse the phrase, guilty pleasure. We’ve mastered survival in most areas of the world and now it’s just all about the frosting on the cake. We have given ourselves so many luxuries in life that, in the attempts to improve efficiency, we more times than not complicate it. Even people who can’t afford certain luxuries, myself include, find ways of chasing the little comforts in life that many times come with a cost. But isn’t that the goal? Make life less scary, less dark, more enjoyable, more manageable. Isn’t it the goal to not just survive and thrive but to take pleasure in the good times when they happen? (And sometimes they are few and far between.)

 

Have a slice of cake, just not every day. Watch that trashy show, just not for hours on end. Drink a couple glasses of wine, just not every night. Bob your head to MMMBop but maybe don’t follow Hanson on tour every chance you get. Unless we’re really coming away from an experience feeling legitimately guilty, as in reliving the life of a serial killer perhaps, then maybe we can let ourselves off the hook once in a while. Life is a struggle. We have to Love the Struggle™ and managing it is done easier when we take pleasure in the little moments in life and flourish during the rest.

 

The little pleasures in life are more enjoyable when they are withheld. Guilt should not be felt if we honestly deserve the reward. It’s rewarding ourselves for nothing that elicits the guilt. Hit the gym all week? Great, take a rest day! Eat healthy all week? Awesome, go out for pizza tonight! Work on that new business idea in your spare time after work? Cool, watch Dancing with the Stars (if you must.)

 

But no sympathy should be extended for those of us who complain about weight and eat fast food constantly and never exercise. No excuses when we’re unhappy in our jobs but spend all or our time outside of work marathoning Netflix.

 

We can’t have our cake and eat it too especially if we’re loading that son’a bitch with tons of undeserving frosting. Work hard. Justify playing hard. Remove the guilt from your pleasures.

 

Didn’t expect a blog about Ted Bundy to end on an empowerment note did you? Boom! Write like jazz!

Writer or Bust

 

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I haven’t posted a blog in 18 days and I’m feeling unbelievably guilty for not having done so. It was March 5th when I began my new journey. This journey has been over 20 years in the making. I want to be a writer. More importantly a write that is people read and makes money doing so.

 

Let me give you some context here and bear with me because I don’t particularly like talking about myself contrary to what this blog might lead you to believe.

 

As a child I enjoyed reading and did so fairly often especially over summer breaks, even in the midst of all the extracurriculars I was constantly involved with. Regardless of the fact that I wasn’t a strong reader and spent my grade school years in remedial reading classes I devoured books and spent many free moments I had reading. There were many times I made myself carsick from reading in the backseat.

 

I wrote my first short story or rather a few short stories around the age of 11 and they were similar to the writing I preferred to read at the time. I was a major fan of Goosebumps and similar authors to R.L. Stine and progressed into his Fear Street series, as I grew older. I wrote stories where my friends and I were in creepy, lives in danger scenarios that were probably only about 1000 words or so. They were predictable and corny but I was 11.

 

As I grew older and entered my teen years my love for reading shifted to…other things and I suppose I subconsciously decided reading wasn’t that cool anymore. Reading for school became a choir more than anything and I must admit that, more times than I care to quantitate, I skimmed chapters, used cliff notes or with the rise of the internet in my teen years I would “surf the web” for spark notes, or I would just ask a friend who did read, ‘what happened?’

 

My senior year of high school I took a creative writing class. Up until then English classes had been all about reading and discussing with very little room for individual creativity (except for maybe writing a book report). I had kind of a zany teacher, in his early twenties and fresh out of college, who made the class pretty fun. We did fun writing exercises and I remember writing quite a bit of poetry. Coupled with a 17 year old’s love of hip-hop (especially the relatively new phenom and someone a white kid could relate to, Eminem), and a need for a teenage boy to express his emotions I found writing poetry, unexpected. Our teacher submitted our poems to Celebrate: Young Poets Speak Out, an anthology in New York State of high school student’s poetry. To see something I had written published, albeit a pay for publish anthology, was illuminating.

 

I continued to write poetry and song lyrics throughout the remainder of my teen years and into my twenties. I attended college during those years as well and floundered with choosing a major. I had no direction when I entered school and I have found, now at 33, I lacked direction for many years. Although, active as a child in numerous sports, sometimes multiple at the same time, as well as a social life and other extracurricular activities, I know now that I was merely having fun without any clear path ahead of me. I pursued the things I liked to do with great enthusiasm and put in the bare minimum for those I didn’t. School was always just a thing I had to do; I never applied myself because my goal was always to just get it over with. While I loved playing baseball, basketball, football, snowboarding, bowling, acting in school plays, playing drums, and hanging out with friends they didn’t provide me with a real direction in life either.

 

Things did not change when I entered college. My extracurriculars changed to suite my new “mature” lifestyle that included alcohol, drugs, and women. The attention I paid to school became even less without the safeguarding of my parents and only myself to stay accountable so my effort was molecular.

 

I chose Media Studies as a major at the last possible moment to declare because I heard the workload was small and relatively easy. Through no planning of my own just before my senior year I realized I had taken enough electives to declare a double minor. I had taken creative writing, poetry writing, two Shakespeare classes, a Dickens class, playwriting, and three different film classes to name a handful and I managed to pull off a double minor in Theater and English.

 

As part of my major and detrimental to graduating I was to do a senior project that spanned both fall and spring semester and I decided I would write a full-length screenplay. I had never written anything so ambitious but had concluded with my accidental accomplishment of my double minor and cluelessness towards what Media Studies actually was (or is even to this day) that I would become a screenwriter. I had a love of reading and writing (well short essays and poetry at least) and I thoroughly enjoyed my playwriting class so I figured screenwriting couldn’t be that different.

 

Well, I completed it and received a B+ for the entire project and praise from my classmates for the portions of the script they heard and from my professor, whom I respected a great deal. It was a buddy comedy about three childhood friends who grew apart after spending four years at college and spent their last summer before “going out into the real world” on a cross country road trip. They got into crazy situations, bumped heads, helped each other out of jams, and ultimately realized how important they were to one another and would never drift apart no matter where life took them (oh, to be young and naive.) I could tell you more but I destroyed all copies of it and it’s one of my hugest regrets to date. (More on why I did that later.)

 

I began working for Borders Books my senior year as well. I was convinced I was going to become a screenwriter based on the work I was doing for school and working in a bookstore and being around books solidified the direction I had for myself. My girlfriend at the time and I planned on continuing to work at our jobs after graduation and moving to Las Vegas at the end of the summer. We both had family there and were going to start our lives in the “real world” there. That was the extent of our plan.

 

This was the first time I can say I learned the recurring lesson of, life happens.

 

We broke up that summer. I moved to Las Vegas alone and lived with my sister. I continued to live the lifestyle of a college student and quickly learned Vegas could be the end for me if I didn’t get out, fast. After nine months there I took a job working for a cruise line that tours the Hawaiian Islands.

 

I did continue to journal some and write poetry here and there but for the most part I continued down the same non-directional path I had always been on. When I quickly learned the cruise ship life wasn’t for a freedom loving partier I quit my job a stayed in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. I found a Borders Books and began working for the company again and continued to reassure myself that working in a bookstore was my way of following my dream of being a writer.

 

When I’m surround by books it’s almost overwhelming for me. The idea of so many great authors all in one room with ideas and stories that could entertain and enlighten millions gives me a feeling of empowerment. However, selling books to readers is not the same as selling your books to readers. I continued to live as a 22 year old might and spent my free time enjoying Maui and partying. I hardly wrote anymore at that point but continued to believe that I would someday. I continued to tell people I wanted to be a writer. But, writers write, right?

 

I met a local girl, only 19 when we met and my life finally began to have direction. Although my primary concerns for the last 5 years of my life had been partying and women I was unprepared for what marriage would bring.

 

Most people aren’t taught that when you become a “grown-up” you have to keep yourself honest. (Well, at least most in my generation.) You have to make sure you’re doing all the things that adults need to do (responsibilities) to make it in life. When you make a commitment like marriage those responsibilities double and they become dire. You can slack off when it’s just you but not when someone else is counting on you.

 

My priorities began to change and my direction in life was to be a husband. The only problem is being a husband doesn’t pay the bills or give any sense of accomplishment. It had been my goal all along to meet the love of my life and settle down. I did. Not everyone gets to experience that in life. Then, once I had I realized I had nowhere left to go. Floating through life is okay as a single 25 year old but not as a married one.

 

My wife decided on her own direction and found a school on the mainland to become a computer animator. At 26 and 22 we moved from my new home and the only one she had ever known to follow her path. Over the next two years she obtained her BS in Computer Animation through an accelerated program at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL and we then moved to San Diego and Los Angeles where she spent over four years working for Legend 3D, a post production company specializing in 3D conversion for movies.

 

Over nearly seven years I struggled with my wife’s direction and my lack of one. I was jealous and began to search for what my purpose was. I first thought it was time for me to find a desk job and pull a 9 to 5 but quickly found it hard to do with my lack of experience regardless of a bachelors. (Contrary to older generations’ beliefs a college diploma does not open all the doors for you.)

 

I started a YouTube channel after seeing people’s silly videos that garnered them thousands to millions of views and somehow got paid for it. In 2010 this concept was still pretty new and I figured I can make stupid videos too but even after spending $1200 on a camera and creating a few I quickly lost interest. (Don’t bother looking they’ve been long since removed.)

 

After that I just worked to help with bills. I worked again for Borders in Orlando up until they closed due to bankruptcy. Then, I spent our remaining time there jumping for one retail job to another until we moved to California in the summer of 2012.

 

I routinely returned to the idea of writing and over time allowed my newfound discovery of the responsibilities of marriage and life in general to scare me into shunning the one thing I had always dreamt about doing. My fears fed on themselves, growing into a metaphorical cancer in my frontal lobe.

 

Money became a constant worry especially once her student loans began rolling in and an internal struggle of “doing the right thing” versus “following a dream” ensued. I began telling myself being a writer was just a fantasy and was unrealistic.

 

Eventually, that devolved into the idea that I never really wanted to be a writer in the first place. Writers write, and I hadn’t in years. If I truly wanted it why didn’t I ever “feel” like writing? My mind told me I was obsessed with the idea of being a successful writer and the notoriety, the chance to work from home on my own schedule and not answer to anyone, but not actually writing itself. I also began to tell myself I wasn’t that good and I didn’t have anything to say people wanted to read anyways. (Of course, now I know that all writers have self-doubt.) I destroyed old writing I had kept for years, including my screenplay, out of a fit of disgust and self-pity. I assumed putting the past behind me might help me move on.

 

As student loans piled up in San Diego my wife carried the weight of the bills working the industry standard of 60 to 80 hours a week. I managed to find a warehouse job that paid $12 an hour and continued to handle the home responsibilities. It suites me better than my wife, she’s not exactly domesticated. I did (and still do) the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill paying, and everything in between. I continued to feel depressed and helpless in my stagnant job, which promised to lead nowhere but lower back pain.

 

I allowed myself to get trapped in the same menial jobs I had taken time and time again after graduating college. With no direction, no interest in my major, and no experience in anything but retail, restaurants, sales, and warehousing twelve years after graduating college I find it hard to obtain a job that pays over $13 an hour.

 

I’ve lived in four states since graduating in 2005 and moved within those states a few times as well making it hard to hold down a job for a long period. At this point if I wanted to go into a Media Studies field (whatever that is) I wouldn’t have the first clue what to do. Not that I want that.

 

I was roped into network marketing twice while in San Diego and then Los Angeles with hopes of following the steps and “gaining financial freedom” only to dive deeper into a depression from another failed attempt at finding my path. These businesses are successful for many who want to put in the work but you have to be willing and I was not because it isn’t something I care about. Just like the child who put in hours on the baseball diamond but couldn’t care about the time he spent on homework I can’t force the work out of myself unless it is meaningful to me.

 

I briefly worked for a library in Carlsbad, a town north of San Diego, before we moved to Los Angeles and writing popped up again in my mind. It didn’t last long because at that point thinking about being a writer made me sick to my stomach. I know now it was because of how awful I felt to know I was shunning my dream but our brains has a funny way of protecting us from perceived dangers and I viewed it as my true feelings towards the act of writing. My dream had become a self-imposed nightmare.

 

I enrolled in EMT classes at UCLA only to drop out halfway through the 3 week accelerated program. I singed up for an online marijuana college to learn all I could about the plant knowing the industry would only grow in the coming years. I lost interest quickly in that as well. As we neared the middle of 2016 the stress on us both was obvious and inexhaustible.

 

My wife’s job was intense and working for the film industry in Hollywood, although exciting, burns people out on a regular basis. After four years of putting in 60+ hours a week and sometimes not having days off for weeks she became jaded and burnt out. Our relationship was strained; our bank account showed nothing for her efforts and my directionless life did not add to a situation where we were just keeping our heads above water. It was always our ultimate plan to move back to Maui, the place where she is from, my home away from home, and where we fell in love so we decided, why wait?

 

Maui is an amazing place and it hadn’t changed much since we left but we had. Problems don’t disappear when you move. They pack their bags and hitchhike on your back to your final destination.

 

I tossed around a coffee-tricycle idea and an online T-shirt business only to add both to another long list of “shit I don’t really care about and can’t force myself to put effort into.” (Those people that say do something you love aren’t full of it.)

 

Now, we’re living with my in-laws rent-free. My wife is making considerably less money then her Hollywood job and I fell back into old habits of reliable menial jobs. (I’ve had four already in only five months.) After quitting the first, a warehouse job, I spoke with my friend who has been going through some life changes of his own. Sensing my depressed state and cluelessness about my direction in life he said to me,

 

“Don’t I remember you mentioning something about being a writer?”

 

“Yes,” I said but I listed off all of my usual excuses and made the comment, “I just liked the idea of being a writer but I never actual write so I don’t think I like writing for real.”

 

“What if you just made the goal to write for an hour each day and see what happens?” He replied.

 

I can’t explain what happened to me when he made the suggestion. My mother has been on me for over a decade to keep my pursuit in writing but sometimes you need to hear things in a different tone to resonate with you.

 

The very next day was March 5th and I began my journey down a path, which I am now labeling as, Writer or Bust. I’m not putting all of life’s eggs in the basket but I’m committing to the practice of at least an hour each day. I decided I was happier working toward something, no matter how much of a struggle, than floating in the stagnant water of life. I decided that I do enjoy writing and I would do it for the rest of my life despite whether I become a well-known author or not.

 

My motto ever since is Love the Struggle™, because life is a struggle, right? Every step we take in any direction requires energy and at any moment obstacles can obscure our path. I haven’t figured it all out but I know working toward a goal makes me feel better than not.

 

So I decided to surround myself with it as much as I could. I’m working for Read Aloud America and another library (surrounded by books again). I’m spending my free time working on myself through exercise, eating (as healthy as possible), meditating, journaling, reading daily for education and enjoyment, reexamining my wife’s and my goals regularly to stay on course, learning more about writing, publishing and the like, but not forgetting to smell the roses. I mean we do live on Maui (did I mention that already?)

 

Then, I started to waiver. A missed an hour here or there and then it became two days in a row and then a few each week and then last week I spent a total of an hour writing. This is my first blog post in 18 days and I had a lofty goal of, every other day, which I have yet to achieve. Any writer will tell you sitting down in front of the keyboard is the hardest part. Sometimes it never comes but being present in the moment is the only way it will come.

 

I am a realist. I understand the insane amount of work that is ahead of me and I’m finally willing to roll up my sleeves and do it because it was there all along and I ignored it. I believe I have something to say worth reading. I believe I’m somewhat acceptable at how I say it. I believe that staying consistent will help me get where I want to go. The fact is now I know I don’t slack from writing because I don’t care about it. I slack because I fear it. Fear is our brain’s way of protecting us from the struggle but dammit, I love the struggle.

 

I’m not interested it fame or (great) fortune. I’d like to simply write for a living, to be able to work only on my writing without another job getting in the way. I only want the chance to work from home or wherever I might be at the time on an occasional trip somewhere. The dream of moving out of my in-laws’ and into a home of our own without debt or, at the least, debt that’s manageable and doesn’t pull us under.

 

This post is the kick in my own ass I need to continue to stay accountable to accomplish my rather conservative goal. By making it public to the few folks who actually do read this (at this point in time) it makes me obligated to continue towards the passion an 11 year old discovered but lacked the tenacity to do follow. This post is to remind me that there will be days when I would rather “stick nine inch nails through each one of my eyelids” than sit down in front of the computer and expose myself to my ever-present self-doubt. This post is a seemingly arrogant but in point of fact humble declaration that I won’t stop until you know my name. I recognize my direction now and it’s pointing up.

Free Comic Book Day

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Tomorrow (it might already be for you) is free comic book day! Can we just stop for a moment and appreciate the comic book. If you’re a reader and you turn your nose up at comic books I’m asking you to reconsider.

 

Okay, it’s not your genre. Maybe you prefer non-fiction. Guess what? They make non-fiction graphic novels not only to turn children onto reading but also for learning about historical figures, among other things (and they’re not all for kids.) Are you fan of mystery? No worries, they have those too and in fact the earliest comic books, that we consider the standard for today, were detective stories.

 

Let’s not forget comic books outdate any form of books and written word. We communicated via cave paintings before we formed letters and words. Put that in your uppity “comic books aren’t real literature” pipe and smoke it.

 

It’s amazing to see comics being revitalized and introduced to younger generations with the help of Hollywood too. (This blog isn’t about the accuracy or portals of your heroes on screen so lets not get into that here, just enjoy them for what they are, great entertainment.) Now, arguably, the biggest genre revolution in film maybe ever, (yes, that’s a bold statement and I only have my opinion to back it up but if someone wants to do the leg work it would be interesting to know for sure) the “superhero genre” has dominated the box office and shows no signs of stopping. I am a superhero nerd and love that all of my favorite characters from childhood (mmmhmm, and adulthood) have come to live action.

 

However, don’t forget comic books, although dominated by the superhero genre, span well beyond the reaches of Wonder Woman and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and include every type of story you could hope for including mystery, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, children’s, young adult, humor, historical, true crime, and more.

 

Okay, maybe it’s the art that detours you from giving comics their fair shake. Notice I called it art first and foremost. The men and women who delight their readers with astonishing artwork are no less talented than any artist that might be featured in a gallery. So what, you put art on a wall it’s for adults; you put it in a book it’s for kids? How does that make sense? You’re thinking, ‘the last time I read something with pictures I was a child so clearly comics are just for kids.’ Negative. In fact, there are plenty of comics not suitable for children (if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.)

 

No more excuse, take the time tomorrow and stop into your local comic shop. Ask for help if you need it and they will gladly assist you because every comic reader is excited to help a new reader discover a cool comic book. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you like or don’t like. Most stores will be participating in the festivities so take advantage of a free comic (and also give them your patronage) and you might be surprised at what new world is waiting for you. For more information check out freecomicbookday.com

 

I mean come on, if they make adult coloring books that millions aren’t afraid of buying then there should be no shame in walking out of a comic shop proudly displaying your new issue.

The Cursed Cursor

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The blinking cursor haunts me. It follows me everywhere I go. I desperately try to outrun it only to realize its one pace ahead of me every step of the chase. Why must you terrorize me so cursor? With your metronomic sidelong stoic smile mocking my every keystroke. How dare you laugh at my attempts for purity, for honesty, for creativity! You continue to knock, relentlessly with no indication that you can be stifled. I peek through the door’s lens to see an askew finish line only to realize it’s a flashing hallucination. Do you tease me cursor? Am I an infant in your eyes? How can you be so crass towards someone who welcomes the sight of you each day? I look forward to our time but you plague my every thought. You are panic attack while flying a jetliner full of passengers. You are a shark attack during a tsunami. You are gravity inside an endless vacuum. Please work with me cursor. Let us unite to fight the evils of obstruction. I will be your humble Dick to your magnificent Bruce. Let me shower your graciousness with a thousand words in exchange for a brief moment of clarity and continuity. I beg of you cursor. I am your subservient servant selling myself to your symmetrical sporadic stance. Each disappearing blink leads me to believe that you’ve accepted my thought only to have you reappear with retribution. You curse me cursor. You hypnotize my hippocampus. You have broken my Brocca and wounded my Wernicke. You flicker and I frown. You twinkle and I tear. You eat at my every being and only demand more from me. A shapeless anorexic Pac-Man with no ghosts on your heels and only your word biscuits to chew up and spit out in contempt. How dare you cursor! You haven’t the strength or tenacity to create anything for yourself. All you do is take and never give. You only give heartache and headache and backache and the dreaded carpal tunnel. You have not won today cursor. You continue to calculate your every cursed curse, cursor and I will not have it! Your cursory attempts at delaying me to reach true originality are a nuisance at best and will be put to an end here and now! You curse me? I curse you! I curse you to a lifelong pursuit of never ending cursing without ever feeling content!

Send My Regards to Savannah

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I must admit, when an old friend asked me to be in his wedding in Savannah, GA I was not excited to make the 4600 or so mile flight(s). I live on Maui, he said without gloating. Frankly, if I hadn’t been asked to be a groomsman I probably wouldn’t have attended. NOT because I don’t like my friend. On the contrary, he is a very good friend, one of the best (friends and people.)

You know what I mean though right? Those weird wedding invitations when you’re just like, ‘huh?’ ‘They invited me to their wedding?’ Not the case here, but after roughly $3000 all-in (including AirBnB, food, clothes, and drinks…oh so many drinks) for a total of 36 hours actually at the destination and a traveling time of over 36 hours (including trips to and from the airport, layovers, and connections) I probably should have thought twice about it. However, in my opinion when you are honored with the request of being a part of one of the most special days in a person’s life, you go. I’ve been a groomsman three times and a best man once and every time I’ve had to travel across North America and in this case half of the Pacific as well. Without sounding too pretentious, you man or woman-up when you get the call to don ridiculous matching attire to line dance, make small talk with friends’ random relatives you’ll never see again, and drink far more than you’re used to in a given day.

As an Upstate New Yorker who has been on his fair share of trips to spring destinations I have only ever passed through Georgia and knew nothing about Savannah. Admittedly, I know little about the state and lump it in with a whole group of southern states. As someone with little experience in the southern states (I lived in Florida for two years but any southerner and Floridian will tell you Florida is in a weird league of its own) I personally had a hard time seeing differences.

This can be said about many different places in the United States depending on where you call home. In the most parts of the country New York is lumped in with other northeastern states and of course the majority of the country only ever thinks of Manhattan or the Statue of Liberty (basically the 5 boroughs and Long Island) when someone says, ‘I’m from New York,’ forgetting that upstate New York makes up over 96% of the state’s landmass.

The same goes for the Midwest, west coast, and of course Hawaii. It’s more than one island and most people I’ve encountered have no idea of this fact or that there’s a difference. And while I’m on the subject, it’s more than a tourist destination; people live here and have lives that don’t revolve around your vacation plans.

Okay, let me step down from my soapbox. I’m losing focus. Damn my millennial mind. If you’re a reader of my blog you’re probably used to it and it either keeps you interested or pisses you off. If you’re in the latter category, why are you still reading then, huh, huh?

Seeing old friends is always a blast and the longer the time between last encountering each other the greater the anxiety. For me anyway, that is. Keeping in touch via social media, text and the occasional phone call is one thing but to spend a whole weekend with each other it can hold certain unsavory expectations. Of course, our expectations of situations are always blown out of proportion because we create these scenarios in our minds that play out in the worst possible way. The key to it is recognizing this and moving past it and seeing the anxious nervous feeling as excitement, considering they feel and present themselves exactly the same in our bodies.

That feeling of being uncomfortable feeds off of itself and snowballs into legitimate fear and if it’s allowed can ruin any situation. Realizing that it’s simply an old evolutionary mechanism inside ourselves to keep us away from danger is the best way to approach these circumstances. See we used to be afraid of things to protect ourselves from REAL dangers but we kind of eliminated most of those so now we fear petty things in life and call it anxiety. I do it all the time.

I kept telling myself I was excited for the weekend in Savannah, a new place I had never been, with a few old friends and many new introductions to come. I didn’t allow the feeling I had to be defined as anxiety. That feeling of nervousness I felt about meeting new people or speaking with old friends that I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. I told myself it was excitement and that is what it became.

The moment I saw my friends, the bride and groom to be, old memories surfaced, my excitement peaked, and the anxious expectations disappeared completely. We gathered with a few other friends of ours I also haven’t seen in 5 years and we went to dinner and went out on the town in Savannah. I met new friends, family and more old friends over the next 36 hours. The day of the wedding, reception lunch, and riverboat cruise on the, above pictured, Georgia Queen (picture courtesy of Savannah Riverboats Cruises) and second night out in the heart of Savannah made me forget that over the course of 84 hours (from when I woke up the morning we flew out) I slept only 8 hours (airplane sleep doesn’t count for me because it’s always just in and out of consciousness.)

My first experience with AirBnB was an amazing one and I will definitely try it again in the future. The host couple was southern and extended the hospitality they are so famous for having. They welcomed us into their home and provided us with better care than I have ever had in a hotel. (Okay, maybe not the super fancy high-end places but you have to pay for that type of service and this AirBnB was a steal compared to local hotels in Savannah.) We were 3 blocks from the famous Forsyth Park where the wedding was held and within walking distance of anything we needed. We did Uber to save time from walking everywhere and it is hot there. It’s Georgia for my sake. (I’m Pete; see what I did…never mind.) But at an average of $7 a ride and the extended hospitality of the drivers there, it gave my wife and I a better inside look at the friendly people of Savannah. (Okay, well that one driver did flip a guy off but the guy flipped him off first and was going about ten miles an hour for no reason.)

Right in the heart of the metropolitan area we were near the pulse of the city and made our way north towards the Savannah River both evenings to experience the nightlife it had to offer. It did not disappoint. With places like Top Deck and Vic’s on the River we experienced stunning views of the water and enjoyable atmospheres. The hidden gem, The Alley Cat, gives a historic speakeasy feel in a modern setting and only borders on being too hipster. Places like the conceited Awesome Bar, which is actually on point with its name, and Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar give both locals and tourists a fun environment and plenty of entertainment. The Olde Pink House delivers a true historic feel in the mansion turned restaurant and live music venue. The downtown area hardly feels like it either, with parks scattered every few blocks and the riverfront nearby it’s easy to forget you’re in a metropolitan area.

Tourism helps the city thrive and as a resident of a place that also depends on tourists’ dollars I can appreciate the people of Savannah much more in such a beautiful and historic environment. The city had a great feel to it that didn’t seem too overblown on catering to visitors unlike where I live unfortunately. It seemed to stay true to itself and was welcoming to outsiders as long as they had an understanding that they respect the culture, people, and city. My only wish is that I could have spent more than 36 hours there. Next time Savannah, next time.

Drugs Er Bad, M’Kay

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I just had a debate with my mother-in-law about drugs. Not your typical dinner discussion but it happened.

 

I caught the end of a news story on the television about two young men who died in a car accident from driving while under the influence of cannabis. I will be referring to it by its medical name because marijuana is a slang term and it only shows our media and government’s lack of aptitude on the matter when they call it such.

 

The woman in the story said something to the effect about the belief of cannabis not altering your ability to drive is a misconception. I made the comment that cannabis advocates typically believe it should be regulated similar to alcohol, which would include a strict no using and driving law. Advocates for the drug want it to be taken seriously and for people to know that it should be treated responsibly just like alcohol. Although, alcohol is widely abused and according to CBS News 28 people a day died in drunk driving related accidents last year.

 

Lets be honest this isn’t news. Alcoholism is somewhat of a pastime in our country. Look at holidays we’ve altered to incorporate heavy “celebrating.” New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, even Halloween has become more adult-ish just for an excuse to dress up and drink. Let’s not talk about office Christmas parties and other parties we throw just for an excuse to drink like the Super Bowl Party, 80’s Party, 90’s Party, Season Premiere Party, Season Finale Party, and Ugly Sweater Party (really?) You could say it’s celebrating our culture in a country that has many cultures due to the United States being a “melting-pot”.

 

I argue that our country has a drinking problem. Now before you chastise me let me be clear; I drink. I do it responsibly, which is more than I can say for the younger me. The younger me drank too much, blacked out occasionally, slept with people I shouldn’t have, got into fights, vomited countless times, and was arrested twice, once for DUI and once for battery (I stupidly pushed a security guard at a casino in Vegas and they don’t mess around there so I was sent to the drunk tank.)

 

I know what you’re thinking now too. Pete, I thought this was a blog about cannabis and a debate with your mother-in-law. Well, smoke a J an relax because here it comes.

 

Basically, she has a simplistic view of the world and doesn’t understand the need for people to alter their minds whether it is alcohol or any drug. Of course like most of the country she sees the harm in alcohol and prescription drug abuse and accepts it as it is. She believes cannabis could help some people medically but it shouldn’t be recreational. Ultimately she doesn’t alter her mind so nobody should.

 

I, on the other hand, believe any and all of it comes down to personal responsibility. Just like all of our favorite brewers tell us, “Drink Responsibly.” You should treat all drugs responsibly. Seems simple, but see our country and culture have a problem with this because of the stigma we associate with drugs and alcohol.

 

My mother-in-law thinks if people just focused on making their lives better instead of altering their minds what a wonderful world it would be. A little naive in my opinion but okay, fine. Being a “straight edge” herself she can’t compute why other people would ever want to alter their minds. She’s religious so I used this argument, that many cultures and religions use mind-altering drugs to alter their perception to become closer with themselves, each other, nature, or their god.

 

She accepted that but being an American dismissed it as not part of our culture (forgetting about ALL cultures of the United States apparently) and wondered why people party just to be happy when they should be happy, sober. I reminded her again of responsible people who like to unwind, relax, or whatever you want to call it. Still, she couldn’t fundamentally understand this though, being someone who hasn’t ever imbibed.

 

She believes drugs are bad, of course, and people who do them and sell them (even if legally) are bad also because that is what she grew up hearing and let me be clear again; used irresponsibly, alcohol and drugs ARE bad. I kept trying to hammer this point home and will now. It’s all about personal responsibility.

 

She was further dismayed when I told her I believe ALL drugs should be legalized. Bare with me here okay. I consider a country where all drugs are legal, regulated, and treated responsibly rather than treated as monsters in the shadows is a more preferable system to our current one. Her continued argument was that it would be easier for people to get the drugs and more “good” people would do drugs.

 

My example of the difficulty of obtaining prescription pills (which are legal and regulated) as opposed to heroin (Diacetylmorphine) was my next example including a person I know who at 23 years old has been in and out of jail and addicted to the drug for the last five years. A once good kid who got addicted to painkillers, found it hard to score them after a while, and turned to heroin. His addiction lead to theft, mostly from his family, weapons charges, and drug charges.

 

Would it be better for him to be addicted to painkillers? Maybe. Would he have been able to so effortlessly get a hold of heroin if it was legal and regulated? Probably not. Would there be better programs for addicts when drugs are legal and regulated instead of throwing people into jail where their addiction most likely continues? Absolutely. My mother-in-law, as caring as she is, didn’t seem to care.

 

She didn’t seem to understand that buying illegal drugs is much easier than legal ones in most circumstances. She didn’t seem to understand that a person who wants drugs will get them no matter what and easier and at a worse cost when illegally. She didn’t seem to realize that “taking the drugs and money from the bad guys” and relying on the failed War on Drugs to “clean up the streets” would never accomplish the goal. She seemed to think people who sell legal cannabis are bad people. She seemed to believe that legalizing drugs would make it easier some how for people to become drug users. A person who wants to use drugs will, whether they’re legal or not, take a look at Prohibition. Again, personal responsibility.

 

Continually she returned to why can’t people just be happy sober and I replied anyone who is drinking or doing drugs to escape aren’t happy and usually feel worse about themselves and life from drinking and doing drugs. She wondered, then why do it, why not focus your attention on “fixing” your life. I told her any addict out there would rather not be an addict if they really could, including the 23 year old I mentioned before. That leads me to a point, we need to remove the shame we always associate with addiction. I’m not sure what “fixing” your life means exactly but I think it means live your life exactly the way she lives hers. Which leads me to another point we also need to stop forcing our way of life on others. It’s okay to share your opinion but it’s just that, an opinion.

 

What she and many people in this country don’t understand is there are millions of responsible alcohol drinking and/or drug using adults. They go about their everyday lives, are contributing members of society, and also partake in mind-altering experiences. Because of the shame we place upon these things we see a result of a culture of abusers.

 

What does a kid do when you tell him not to do something? Most children do it! Because you told him not too! In our society we look at alcohol as a rite of passage and firmly warn our children, “Don’t you dare drink until you’re old enough” while we guzzles our Buds at Thanksgiving dinner. The worse goes for drugs because they are so illegal and so bad because they are so illegal. Of course not prescription drugs though. They’re pharmaceutical so prescribe away.

 

I’m not saying embrace a drug culture I’m saying let’s be more responsible and teach our children to treat it responsibly instead of trying to strike fear into them. “You drink underage you’ll be in trouble!” “You do drug you’ll be in big trouble!” Lets ditch the Puritanical view of these things and treat our kids like they aren’t idiots. The same could be said for sex. “Don’t do it til you’re married!” What happens? Teen pregnancy and STDs happen because we don’t allow children to lead well-informed responsible lives. That’s a whole other topic though, isn’t it?

 

My mother-in-law is one of the sweetest and kindest people you could ever meet and she means well. Absolutely. I find it hard to understand why people do what they do sometimes too. However, the system we have does not work. It leads to violence, criminalization of decent people (mostly minorities), higher rates of abuse, and worse it leads our children down these paths.

 

If this blog was too political for you, that’s fine. I’m responsible enough to realize that we might not share the same opinion and that’s okay. A debate is necessary to find a better solution. Please comment if you’d like but I’m not willing to debate with anyone. I’m merely sharing one blogger’s point-of-view.

 

 

 

 

Self-Publishing for Dummies: A review of Guy Kawaski and Shawn Welch’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book

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(picture of book cover courtesy of apethebook.com)

If you are an aspiring writer first off, stop aspiring and start writing. Secondly, go get APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch.

From what mountaintop do I begin to sing my praise? The hills are alive with the sound of “artisanal publishing” and the hope of being a writer in an industry controlled by the artist (referring to myself as an artist seems conceited but for this purpose, I guess it’s okay) rather than the people in suits.

Thanks to the Almighty Internet the simplicity to create a (insert your niche) start-up becomes easier by the day. In my case and perhaps yours it’s becoming a writer in an industry that was hard to break into even before print started to take a dive. A slower dive than one might think but any former bookshop owner or employee (5 years with Border’s Book for me) will tell you print has definitely seen it heyday.

The invention of eBooks and the eReaders they illuminate made it harder for new talent to be picked up by a traditional publishing house. Behemoth businesses that have been pumping out literature for well over a century still run the game to this day and keeping up with today’s constantly changing technology caused these powerhouses to become even pickier than before when it came to what they deem worthy of ink, paper, and publicity.

Ironically, the same technology that at first gave bookstores, print books lovers, and these publishers a scare is now putting the power back in the hands of the writer. Today literally anyone can write a book and sell it on Amazon or similar platforms and it happens. APE gives you all of the tools needed to do this.

Personally after recently deciding to suck up my fears and put myself and words out there, the idea of being able to use this viable avenue to get a toehold in the industry allows me to un-pucker a little bit.

There are plenty of resources out there you can utilize to learn the ins and outs of self-publishing and I recommend, as do the authors of APE, to be a sponge when it comes to this topic. With so many to choose from I think a great place to start is with Kawasaki and Welch’s book.

Self-publishing is not the amateurish endeavor it once was considered to be and with a solid writing work ethic applied to the publishing and publicizing or “entrepreneuring” end of things one can create legitimate publications worthy of digital and wooden shelves alike.

I was skeptical because I’m not exactly a fan of “manual” type books and worried I’d quickly become bored. I mean it’s got a glossary (which turns out to be super helpful.) However, Guy and Shawn deliver a page-turner that only got me more excited to get to the point when I can put their steps into motion. The Publisher section did lose my attention slightly when they spoke about the types of different eBook files, uploading the files, converting the files, and mostly anything to do with files.

For someone who is not tech savvy, like me, this section can be rough to get through but the most important part of the book and should not be avoided. Arguably, it most likely is something that just needs to be skimmed over once and then used as reference when ready to act.

This last point the authors specifically mention in the beginning of the book. They recommend you, “blast through APE the first time to see the big picture.” I will admit I borrowed my copy from the library because, well, I’m poor and I’m trying to be a writer so I’ll probably remain poor for a while. However, once I am ready to begin the process of publishing I will be purchasing my very own hardcopy to put on the shelf next to my recently purchased copy of The Chicago Manual of Style (a consistent recommendation of APE.)

I will probably buy an eBook version also as they mention frequently, one of the beauties of eBooks, especially one of this style, is they can be edited and updated pretty much anytime it’s necessary so you can stay up-to-date on changing trends in the self-publishing world. Released in 2013, the print version of APE is dated already but the authors promise to revise eBook versions when needed.

The book is divided in three sections addressing the A. P. and E. of APE. The first section, Author, is the shortest and briefly addresses the process of writing, as I’m sure they assume the reader wants to be a published author and must already know how to write somewhat. It also gives information on traditional and self-publishing as well as traditional and e[Books].

The meat of the book lies in the Publisher section with everything from editing, distribution, files (as I mentioned before), eBook and print options, ISBNs, cover-art, avoiding the “self-published look”, and other issues that can arise.

Finally and perhaps the scariest for many writers is the Entrepreneur section, just a few pages longer than the Author portion. It does not delve into how to master a publicist’s job but rather how to be your own using the magic of social media. Book tours are mainly a thing of the past and as a self-publisher it would not be realistic to go this route. Reaching your audience through social media has become the biggest thing since sliced bread bought on Amazon Pantry. Any entrepreneur, business, artist, athlete, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker that isn’t on social media in today’s world is not pursuing success in their niche properly.

An amazing feature with the book is a corresponding website, Apethebook.com, that gives readers further information and tools. The experience works better with eBooks, as you simply have to click on one of the 400 available links. I usually just had my laptop open to the website and when a triple dagger symbol appeared I knew to look for an additional resource.

All and all, APE is easy to read, understand, and apply. It is not overly technical but also gives the reader plenty of information needed to carry out the necessary steps for success as a published author. It works on both levels as a cover-to-cover read and also a reference guide, due to the nature of “artisanal publishing” being a lengthy step-by-step process. I recommend an eBook format for the most updated information.

Reading this book now, early on, as I build this blog, my social media presence, my network, and continue to work on and improve my writing has given me amazing hope moving forward. Although, it will not be an easy task to wear so many hats, I welcome the challenge that lies ahead because it will be one step closer to my dream of becoming a published writer.