Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Too Young for Manticores

Status:  Chipper

What's playing on Spotify?  RUSTED WHEEL by Silversun Pickups

I used to smoke. I was never that guy who rolled out of bed and lit up the instant conciousness was breached, but I was a pack a day for a good five years, long enough to be...a smoker.  

My stepfather at the time was putting on some pounds and I suggested that working out might be wise.  He just looked me. So I sweetened the deal, I told him that if he started working out, I'd quit smoking. I didn't actually think he was going to do it.  

Granted, he didn't do it immediately.  In fact, I moved away for six months and actually forgot about our little bet until I came back and he was thirty pounds lighter, tan and flushed with life. Racquetball.  After we hugged, he looked at me, looked at the pack of Marlboro Lights resting next to my keys and said, "That's your last pack, bitch."

And it was. I remember being pissed because I had only three cigarettes left.  Three piddly, measly cigarettes just didn't seem like enough of a head's up before I took the big plunge into non-smokedom.  But what could I do? If I didn't quit I'd be a punk, and that was unacceptable.  Ain't no punks around these parts.  So...I quit.  One offhand, half kidding bet that probably changed the course of my life. 

My quest into becoming a novelist began a little something like that.  Fate and an offhand dismissal. 

A dare. 

Twelve years old.  Over my big cousin's house who I thought was the coolest kid in the universe.  Rummaging through his stuff while he was talking on the phone I stumble on the craziest creature I've ever seen in my life--a picture of a manticore.  Body of a lion, head of a man, wings of a bat and the tail of a scorpion (or spikes, pick your folklore), I was riveted.  I'd never seen anything like it before in my life.  Never even imagined it. 

I asked my cousin if it was a good book and he was like, "Oh my God, yeah, it's awesome!  Best book I ever read." 

Of course, when I asked him if I could read it, he said, no way.  Evidently he thought I was too young.  Too young!  I was twelve for crying out loud.  He then pried the book from my fingers and placed it back onto his bookshelf next to the other two, and these books were even cooler.  The second book had a centaur, griffin, and a sword-wielding man fighting a dragon.  I couldn't take my eyes off it, I even remember sniffing the book, as if I might smell the char of fire or hear the ring of steel.  The last book had a warrior and a giant spider on the front looking at a castle being built by centaurs. 

I NEEDED to read these books.  Which was nuts because before that moment I was just like any other healthy seventh grade boy; I thought reading was a waste of time.  Why read when there were video games to be played?  Until now.

I begged, cajoled, pleaded, threatened until finally he said, "Fine!  You're not going to understand any of it any but you better treat them well.  They're like treasure." 

I started reading them that day.  On that afternoon, life as I knew was altered forever as I was plunged into a magical realm where every person was born with a magical talent, be it a purple spot on the wall or the ability to conjure flying swords into trees.  I was spellbound. 

To be continued my friends.  It's a cool little story but I've discovered I prefer blogs to be short and sweet.  Allow me to pay that forward.  Plus, it makes next week's blog's topic easy to figure out. :)

-Steve out

Friday, January 11, 2013

And so it begins

Status:  Right on

What's playing on iTunes?  D'YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? by Oasis

What's this?  *gasp* An actual blog from the blogger of this site??

Yes, my friends, entire galaxies have died and been reborn in the interim between my entries.  All I can say is a thousand apologies and that zeese veel change.  New Year's resolutions and all, and besides, I have a thing or two to share. 

A lil' somethin' somethin' happened to me in 2012.  No big deal, really, just a lifetime dream realized.  It would appear that I am now an author. 

Dun dun dun dunnnnnnn....      

This is the first book in my trilogy at Carina Press, and I couldn't be prouder.  Just writing that makes me smile.  How long have I been running down this dream?  Sixteen years?  Something like that?  Anybody who knows me knows that I was afflicted with a severe bout of procrastination from birth, and yet at the same time...I never give up.  Try and figure that one out.  Fortunately, as I've matured, I've exorcised that procrastination with a flame thrower, and now... *big smile* I'm in the arena.  

Of course, this has been a journey I haven't made alone.  Though I've spent several quadrillion hours staring at a computer screen, burying my head in my hands whenever my story would plow into a mountain side or raising both fists in delirious triumph whenever my characters would come to life and grab me by the throat, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the people around me.

There are so many people I'd love to thank: 

The handshake:  The late Mr. Atkins, my fifth grade teacher, who looked me in the eyes while shaking my hand and in a gesture, changed my life.  Thank you, Mr. Atkins, for believing in me. 

The good lie:  Mr. MacNeil, my tenth grade teacher, who promised me he wouldn’t reveal my name if I let him read my words aloud to class…but did anyways.  After jaws had dropped (including mine).  Thank you, Mr. MacNeil, for making me feel like the smart kid for the first time in my life, for your passion and direction. 
The mentor:  Linnea Sinclair, author extraordinaire, for choosing my restaurant to eat in that night and for being so gracious to read my first chapter, for taking me under your wing, for showing me the techniques to study and master and for making the phone call.  Without you, I would not be here.  Thank you, Linnea. 

The phonecall:  And where did that phone call go?  To Sara Megibow, my fabulous agent, champion and fellow ENFP.   Thank you, Sara, for your sparkle, tenacity and belief, and for making this journey with me.  You are the very definition of awesome sauce. 
The editor:  Rhonda Helms, both editor and author (which I think is so cool), for adding the final ingredients to this book like a master chef.  Thank you, Rhonda, for your brilliance and flavor.

The queen bee:  Angela James, for your help, openness and friendship right from the start.  Thank you, Angela for your faith in me.  Even if you are a Vikings fan. 
The Carina Team:  To Tara Stevens and her team at the Art Department for such a great cover, to Melissa at marketing, and to all the other behind the scenes players that create the magic…thank you, all. 

The Max crew:  To my peers at the Oyster Bar, who cheered me on and shared in my victories, and to management for always working with me and my chaotic schedule.  Thank you, crew, Maxs Oyster Bar and the rest of the group. 

My Yin:  My dearest friend Rachelle Brady, for jumping in the trenches with me, for the late nights and early mornings.  For inspiring me.  Thank you, my lady. 

My Yang: My best friend, Richard Duquette, for being there at the starting line.  And at the finish line when I needed you the most.  Thanks, numbnuts. 

Brother-in-arms: Jester, for watching my six, making it fun, and for always being there.  Thanks, Jester.   Let’s do this. 

The crew:   Kristi, Diana, Teri, Shara, Alejandro, Erique, Jeffrey, Erica, Dylan, Jordan, Mike, Mike & Jay, Kimmy, Bee, Tia Mimi, Tia Alba (I miss you so much), Tio Ballardo , Troy, S.A.D.D.E.N. and all my other friends and family who always believed in me.  Even when I didn’t.  Thank you, all. 

The glue:  Allison Norman, A.K.A. Ally, for holding this family together and watching out for Pops.  Thanks, Ally, this would have never happened without you. 

The best parents in the universe:  Dad, for being you, for making me feel special from my first memory, for your guidance, jokes and insults, for being my best friend.  Mom, for your love, for reading to me as a child, for reading and stapling all those drafts, for your prayers and encouragement, for telling me that if I wrote…I was a writer.  I love you both past the Andromeda. 

To my sister Vanessa: Thank you for inspiring me, for believing in me utterly and completely, every single time, for making me want to live with honor and passion, for forgiving being the best sister that ever was.  Thank you, Ness.  And I'll forever be sorry. 

Lastly but not least: God.  Thank you for your blessings and all the things I take for granted daily, for your love and for all the little creating me.  Thank you, God. 

I can hear the clicking of the chain as my rollercoaster rises.  Snap on those seatbelts, friends, because hair is about to get blown back... ;)