Sunday, April 17, 2016

The band "Indie"

My Beloved and I were out again with friends last night. We took in a local watering hole that featured a band. It was a rocking good time into the evening with food and fuel ... okay, read that 'alcohol'. As we listened to the band, a foursome of gentlemen about my age I began to realize the similarities between what they do as musicians and what I do as an Indie author.

It occurred to me as I listened to well-crafted 80's classic rock tunes that rolled through the night air that I was hearing men who had long practiced their craft. I began to watch their fingers as they strummed across the strings of a bass guitar, the sticks that flew atop the drum skins and a voice that reverberated along the walls and ceilings of a packed house. These men had obviously practiced their craft for many years. They had developed a strong local following.

So what is it that keeps them doing it? They aren't going on tour or fronting for a world-famous band. Yet, how much less talented are they? My answer? They're not. They simply have worked their way through life with a passion they devoted themselves to. This passion took a second seat to families and jobs that payed the bills. So what's the difference?

The difference is being in the right place at the right time. It's about being discovered. There are thousands of talented groups just like this all over the country. That's what it's like to be an 'Indie author'. We live our lives and go to jobs that pay the bills. We strive with a deep passion to continue the work that drives us in the evening hours; the page of the written word. Authors and musicians face the same struggles. We are singular yet we number in the hundreds of thousands. We are mostly undiscovered and we await our time in the sun, when the cover is lifted off our work and the light of our talent beams across the stars of the known universe.

Like those who seek out new musical talent, I challenge readers to seek out indie authors you've not read before. You'll likely be surprised at the 'hidden' talent that has been smoldering below the surface just waiting to be discovered.

And just so you know ... the Jack ... is the band we rolled with last night.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ghost Fleet, the current WIP

   With the recent release of Star Eagle Six, book one of my sci-fi series Home World, work is underway on book two of the series, Ghost Fleet. We'll see how it goes with the writing but I am tentatively shooting for a launch in early summer. 

I hope you enjoy this brief excerpt from Ghost Fleet.


          The darkness was offset by the two glistening moons as they paraded across the night sky, their light casting a shimmering cloak over the starlight behind them. Below, the charcoal colored buildings of Fleet Main absorbed the reflected light from the rare, twin full moons. Fleet Main was planted on the outskirts of Galway, the most populated city of New Caledonia. With it’s placement negotiated in the formative years of the Home World alliance it had become the central core of the defense of the alliance.
Admiral Duley Connor was doing his best to clean up his desk before he retired for the night, and things weren’t going well. He was the command lead for three of the nine Home World fleets, and his were the most successful. They often had the lead for the heaviest Lorilon engagements and his Third Fleet was currently in the midst of the fight. He hadn’t received transmissions from Stuart Joseph in over three days. He leaned back and tossed his pen on the desk.
“Damn him.” Duley Connor had a distinguished career running breakneck up the ranks. He flew by officers who had more experience, more connections. On his way up he learned to work the system but along the way, he’d changed. He looked out the wall of dark windows into the night, his office overlooking the central pools of the ringed courtyard. He could see his reflection against the dark sky. He pushed his fingers through his thinning silver hair. Those heady days of running up the ladder were gone. Somewhere along the line with the glad-handing and deal making he became more of a politician in a uniform than a leader of men.
He pushed himself away from his desk letting his tired gaze fall on the orange moon of Mourne, her rocky reflection in sharp contrast to her pale sister Gullion’s soft light. Joseph was stalling. He was sure of it.
“What the hell was he waiting for?” Connor asked himself aloud. “Because he ignored my direct order." A sharp knock on his partially opened door grabbed his attention, pulling his thoughts back into the room.
“Sir?”
“What is it Mairead?” Duley turned his chair slightly, angling it toward his assistant. “I thought I told you to go home hours ago. It’s almost tomorrow.”
“I just needed to get some of my own work caught up too. Sir, a communique from Third Fleet, eyes only.”
“Really!”Duley’s eyes shot up in surprise. “Bout damn time!” He pushed himself away from his desk and stared at the huge com panel on the wall. The bottom of the glass screen was nearly pristine in its blackness except for the single red dot that pulsed twice in three second intervals. He was standing in front of the panel moments later. He placed his hand over the bio-sensor and the unit responded immediately.
“Connor, Duley. Authorization accepted.”
“Computer, open eyes only communication. Authentication alpha 3 zeta.”
“Acknowledged.”
Connor listened to the brief message in its entirety, his head down, his arms crossed. His longtime friend was hard to read even in person. A long distance communique made it even more difficult. As Joseph’s words fell away Duley reached out touching the now-black panel shutting it down. He turned and walked to the dark windows and looked up again to the celestial chariots racing across the night sky. Joseph was possibly the best fleet commander in the Alliance, his friend, but now, he had no choice.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

A step in the right direction

I have not done this before with any ramble I have written, however with president Obama landing this day in Cuba, I though it would be appropriate to repost a ramble I wrote back in December of 2014. It is relevant to the day now more so than ever. 

...from December 2014

In my lifetime

I have lived in a world that has changed dramatically throughout my lifetime. I was born in the days of the Cold War. For you environmentalists, I'm not talking about the fight over global warming. The world war had ended only a decade before (give or take), and the world was divided into two camps. It was us versus them. It became a decades long struggle for territory and political gain. It took many years and thousands of lives before the game was settled, at least for some.

Fifty years has come and gone and a tiny island is cemented in the past. The lone satellite of Cuba has remained committed to its fervent revolution. Well, at least its leaders have. Fidel Castro has remained a thorn in the side of the most powerful nation in the world. And his people have suffered for it.

So what has changed? How has the foreign policy of the US tilted that nation away from its revolution? It hasn't. That's the point. It's always been said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Although I have no 'dog in the fight', this has always been a subject that has sparked my imagination. I fully understand there is a long line of Cuban nationals living in the US that will do everything in their power to fight the change in policy. I won't fault them for it.

What I will ask them to consider is this: where is the outrage of the Cuban people who still live on the island? Why is it the only ones objecting are the ex-pats and their families who are tucked away on US soil? Their outrage is at history. Fidel Castro and his regime is faltering. The island is changing right before his eyes; an agonizingly slow process, but it is a process nonetheless.

Where better to be than at the vanguard of this change? The US has been able to do little to the Cuban leaders other than to keep their people impoverished. It's time for a change. The change will take time. Not everything will happen overnight, or in a year, or even in a decade. But their revolution is grinding to a halt. Its legs have given way and all that will be left as the Castro brothers die is a vacuum to be filled by someone else.

If you want to effect change on a tiny island ninety miles off our shores, it seems the only way to do that would be to actually stand on the island, without a rifle in your hand. It's time the Cuban population who lives in the US swallow their hatred so they can help their people into this century.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mr. Irrelevent

Irrelevant: not applicable or pertinent
                having no value

In sports there is a term bestowed upon the last draft choice of the NFL. The tradition began in 1976 and has continued on. It is a sad term to place on someone who still has a fighting chance to continue his career in his chosen profession.

A more pertinent application of this term would be to bestow it upon the NIT basketball tournament. Many years ago it was considered the preeminent basketball post season finale and the winner was considered the defacto national champion. It wasn't until sometime in the 1960's that the NCAA tournament became the place to be. It has eclipsed the NIT and there is no looking back.

March Madness is a terrific time for fans of college basketball. It is the 64 or 68 (depending on your point of view) best college basketball teams in the country all vying for the national championship. So what has become of the NIT? It has become possibly the most irrelevant sporting event in America. I can think of no other event in sports, although I'm sure someone will tell me one) that has such little meaning. (Okay, I thought of one, the Pro Bowl).

I don't understand why it is played, other than another chance for money. The winner is essentially the seventieth best team in the country. What is that to celebrate? If you were in charge of the winning school, would you hang the NIT championship banner from your rafters? I sure wouldn't. Years ago they used to play a consolation game where the teams that lost to the two teams playing in the championship game fought it out for third and fourth place. Can you say, irrelevant? Yes. It was so irrelevant they no longer play the game.

I think it's time we retire the NIT or bestow on its winner the title of Most Irrelevant College Basketball Team of the year. They can then go on the Tonight Show, just as Mr. Irrelevant has done for years and relive their glory. Wouldn't that be fun?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Atheist

As someone who was brought up in a religious family, there is something I have always wondered about when it comes to those who hold the belief that there is not God or gods of the world. Since this is the Lenten season, I thought this ramble was rather apropos.

I have only known a couple people personally who proclaim themselves to this belief system although I know there are many more. I have heard them in the public forums; news, entertainment, social media and the like. My understanding is this is a belief that there is no God. I also realize a belief in a god or God as I know him is deeply personal. We may never in this life be able to prove one way or another that a spiritual omnipotent being is real or not. It is a matter of faith.

One characteristic of atheists I have found seems to be one of intelligence and compassion. I have never met a self-proclaimed atheist who is rather, how shall we say, dull. Most as well seem to have a caring spirit for others. So here is my conundrum; why would someone who has this belief have these qualities.

The world is often seen as being divided into the camps of good and evil. On the surface they are clearly defined lines. If one struggles to stay true to these camps based on their beliefs, it is obvious the reasons a religious person would strive for good; it is the promise of the afterlife, or heaven, or whatever that belief system entails. But what of atheists? I assume there are good atheists and bad atheists. If one is a 'bad' atheist he risks nothing as there is nothing at risk in the way one lives their life. But what of the 'good' atheist? Why is he/she a good person when there is no fundamental reason to be so?

With seemingly no consequences to their actions, why would someone of this belief reach out to others to help, be it the underprivileged, the homeless or anyone else? Would being an atheist lead one to be more self-centered than anyone else in the general populace? If so why not? There is no reason based on the natures of good and evil to be any other way. Is that not the driving force behind how people live their lives?

Perhaps the Lenten season will bring me some insight into this question, or perhaps someone will reach out to enlighten me. Either way I'm sure it is a question I will ponder from time to time.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sneakerville


It is fair to say I have never been one of those guys who watch or follow basketball. It's just not my thing and really never has been. Of course being only 5'8, that might have something to do with it. But even before that when I was sure I would grow to a strapping 6'3, bball just wasn't something I was drawn to. Not sure why as I do like to participate in a variety of sports.

Within the last week or so the NBA had their All Star game. (I didn't watch). The only time in the past few years I have seen any NBA action is the Christmas Day game and that is because we visit family who has the game up on the tube. (I guess tube is a little dated. Perhaps I should say screen. Okay, screen it is. However 'boob screen' just doesn't have the same ring to it).

The day after the game I tuned in my sports radio show on my drive into work. All I heard was talk about the game and a certain retirement looming over the sport. Although I know the sport and the major participants, I've never understood the culture that surrounds it. I listened to the hosts and it was nothing but a couple guys that sounded like they were 'wanna-bees'. I wanna be part of that culture. It was basketball slang and a show not suited to a general sports audience.

Now I know I'm an old guy but listening to two guys try and sound hip to that world just didn't live up to how I wanted my morning to start. Unfortunately there isn't much on the radio these days that holds my interest. It was a long ride into work that day ...

And don't even get me started on the 'sneaker' thing that ties into the basketball world.  How someone needs +$200 pairs of sneakers every time another 'star' puts out a new set is ridiculous. Are there really 125 different sets of Air Jordans through the years?

I just don't get it ...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A day of love and loss

It has now been three years this Valentine's Day that a voice that eloquently graced these pages fell silent. To readers of this blog, you know him best as North of 50. To myself and my family, he was the keystone of our family, the one in the middle that seemed to hold us all together.

To that end, this holiday has become bitter-sweet for many of us. We see the primping and gift-giving that surrounds us this February 14th. We long to reach out to our loved ones and embrace them with the love, fun and frivolity that Valentine's Day has come to symbolize. But for my family it is tinged with sadness at my brother's passing. His children that have come together as couples feel the pang of loss on this day.

For me, it is something I have been able to begin to look past. Nothing will ever take away his memory, his smile, his intellect. But my life and the life of his children must move forward. It is the natural way of things. Some may think that harsh. I do not. We were raised in a religious family. Death though sad, was also a celebration of God and his calling of a soul home to heaven.

So why do I write this post? For me it is a way to reach out to my nieces and nephews and family that called Don father and uncle, that they may themselves begin to again embrace this holiday as a celebration of their love for each other. My brother celebrated family like none other. Family is everything to him. Know that each of you now should embrace again the spirit of this holiday and turn your hearts away from loss and remember his embrace shall be with you always. His life was about celebration, a celebration that continues until that day when we all embrace him again in God's love.