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Like A Lot Of Days…

Mind-Refreshing-Sunrise

Like a lot of days here of late, waking up with nothing to do but wait for the clock to arrive at the appointed time, I’m alone. After shaving and taking a shower, I’ll bike off to work for a few hours to make a few dollar to pay rent, buy food and little else. My bet is a lot of you can relate. It would be a rut I’m in except I decided to get out of the that mire a couple of years ago, didn’t I?

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Overcoming, that is what we do in life. We prevail against our innocence about everything while learning the lessons of growing up. In the process we lose a lot of the magical aspects of being alive. Something every child knows instinctively is that life is to be lived to its fullest and enjoyed. And then reality sets in, oppressive and dominating.

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The world changes us, subtly at first but eventually we have to submit, yielding to the preponderance of depressing truth. If we are lucky, during our separate journeys through life we accumulate some friends, good ones not the fake, plastic kind that are as well as toys except that they treat us as their playthings. A couple of good friends is all anyone needs, though. Even with family there are a few dependable supporters and a lot of other well wishers who give lip service or what could be at best termed lukewarm encouragement.

Sobering facts – but it doesn’t need to be that way. The world is intended to be whatever we decide. We allow others to convince us to believe in their version of things, their warped illusions of what life is supposed to be about. Most people are miserable, so the world is recreated in their sorry, desperate image. They are the ones pointing fingers of blame, casting aspersions and doubt, offering disparaging commentary on everything and anything around them. They perceive all there is through a veil of negativity pulled over their eyes. We know better than to be around them. Still, we think they are our friends. We delude ourselves that their view of the muddled mess around us is accurate without understanding that on any given day it is our choice to see the daily rain as something evil or something good. It will dampen our spirits or give us life – if we let it.

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That’s where I’m at today in waking. It’s Sunday. I need the money so I work. Later on, when I come back to my rented refuge I’ll write something wonderful because that is what I want to do. Working is to allow me the space that I occupy while my mind takes a respite from the ordeal of surviving. There, on the inside, I can take a portion of the universe and bend it to suit my sensibilities and desires. I can populate it with characters and allow them to interact and tell me their story because that is what I’ve decided is my real purpose in life. By comparison. everything else I do amounts to nothing.

I understand that only a few are blessed to have their minds left connected to a childish point of view. We become the dreamers and artists, the musicians and entertainers, the comedians and inventors who dare to reshape the world with our words and music, art and ideas. We are the mistreated misfits who somehow persevere. We survive the taunting and jeers of others to emerge from the battle of conformity with some pretty radical ideas as our wild imaginations allow. We see through the fog. We know that the world is full of potential exists not he other side. If we will only believe in the possibilities, we can make anything real.

Like a lot of days the hope contained int his one is left up to me. I think I’ll choose to have some fun and maybe, in the process, I can turn someone else’s day around, pointing him or her in a better direction. If I can peel away the distortion, drawing back the curtains from their eyes, in some way I can let them know there is always two ways to look at things. Perhaps I can convince them to see things a different way.

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There is a reason most people dream with their eyes closed. The deception of what they think is their life around them is too pervasive for them to ignore. It is left to those of us who can dream with our eyes open to provide them with an alternative way to see.

#perspective #life #imagination #persevering #artists, #writing #creating

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What An Author Goes Through

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There are a lot of copies of Fried Windows In A Light White Sauce out there being read. I’m happy about that because that is the primary reason I write. I believe it is the only reason any author goes through the more difficult aspects of the writing and publishing process. The reward at the end of the struggle is reading a review from someone who read the book, enjoyed it and got the point of the story.

As many of you know, for the past few months I have been working on publicity for other authors. At times that has drawn me away from promoting my work. It has also, of necessity, forced me to schedule time to work on my upcoming books. A couple of months ago I started a job that also requires me to budget my time. Sometimes it seems like there are not enough hours in a day but usually there are if you look hard enough. Who need sleep, right?

The reason I write is because I enjoy doing it. I don’t consider creating stories as work. It’s not exactly playtime either. It is an escape into another world that i can control. Perhaps it’s a little like plying a video game except that I generate the scenes and the characters as I go.

Everything after writing the rough draft is the necessary evil of the publication process. The draft needs to be revisited. Once revised, it need to be edited prior to submission to the publisher. Even once it is accepted it need to be edited again, looking for substantive changes (sub-edits) in the story so that the detail coincide – like the main character drives a red Ford early on in the book but it suddenly becomes a blue Chevy in Chapter 11. That would be a substantive edit point..

Sub-edits require the reading of the entire story as any reader would do. Although minor editing points like typos and such may be pointed out in the process, that is not the focus. The purpose is to make a good story arc with the necessary elements of story development and conflict resolution. Sometimes it is determined that chapters need to be rewritten or other chapters added for the sake of building the story. At times entire sections are eliminated altogether – even whole chapters.

Next the book goes through content edits. This is when the typos are picked up. Also grammar, spelling and word choice are scrutinized sentence-by-sentence. Paragraph structure is adjusted. Redundancies are removed along with some sentences that just aren’t necessary for advancing the story. Some characters may disappear or be consolidated into other characters for the sake of eliminating confusion. Names of characters might be changed for the same reason. Entire sections may need to be rewritten. Before the manuscript can be called a book it must conform to accepted standards of style. There is some latitude for author’s voice allowable within he standards, but for the most part this experience is comparable to have an English composition teacher going over an assignment you turned in for credit.

Content editing is an exhaustive process that for the first time transforms a manuscript into a novel. The success of the process depends upon the working relationship between the editor and the author. A good editor improves the story without rewriting it. A good author has a thick enough skin to take the criticism as it is intended, with the purpose of making the book as good as it can be for the overall reading experience. After all a novel is designed for a reader’s appreciation not an author’s ego.

Somewhere between subediting and content editing the cover design process begins. This is a collaborative effort between several people including the artists, the author and a representative of the publisher. Usually the publisher has the final say on the book cover but it is always good if the author is onboard with the choice. Also the author can contribute his or her advice for what scene in the book might constitute a good subject for the cover.

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Part of the cover design is the inclusion of a brief blurb about the book. It tells something about what the story is about but it is also a promotional pitch directed to the potential reader. Although the author usually contributes to the writing of the blurb, it may or may not resemble what the author produced at the outset. It is edited, tweaked, revised and re-tweaked and becomes a marketing element for the book more than a brief statement of what the book is about.

When the cover design is completed it is revealed publicly as one of the initial steps in the promotions process. By then the edits are finished, ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are produced and distributed for the purpose of book reviews to coincide with the launch. Each review is critical to the success of a book as most readers look at at least some reviews prior to deciding on a purchase – especially when buying a book from an online source.

Once a book has launched the author continues with promotional efforts, attending events, book signing, soliciting interviews and attempting to spread the word through many means in order to entice people to read the book. This is the point in the process with Fried Windows In A Light White Sauce where I am at the moment. Of the entire process, this is the most difficult point for an author. The writer inside wants to write something new. But what is the point of writing a new book if the present book isn’t selling well enough to attract attention to any new book?

Sometimes it is difficult for an author to appreciate that publishing is a business. It provides readers with a product and, hopefully, the author with royalties. But there are many, many steps between the author’s inspiration to write a story and the point at which a reader opens a book and starts to read the story.

I always knew there was a lot of coordination of effort involved in the production and distribution of a book, even before my first trip around the publishing track. But each time I go through the process I am profoundly humbled. Several people worked very hard to produce the quality of product that now bears my name. To think that all this effort came from a somewhat silly idea I came up with a couple of years ago in the quiet corner of my apartment in central Florida.
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#writing #author #editing #publishing #promotions #newreleasebooks

 

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A Sport Becomes A Political Football

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You may have seen something about this in the news – political pundit calls soccer un-American – or something to that effect. Not wanting to get into the silly polarized political debate on just about everything that plays out daily on the 24/7 news channels (and spills over into broadcast and print media as well) I do have some observations that may help put a different spin on everything.

First of all, calling any sport un-American is patently absurd.

We are a nation that seems to love sports and competition. Some things we watch I might personally feel are quasi-sports. I may like some more than others. But it is a matter of personal preference not national interest or patriotic support. All you need to do to confirm Americans’ love affair with athletic endeavors is channel surf on any given weekend. It’s there, all there, and in a variety that will astonish you. For most Americans I think a favorite sport depends on the season we are in. I love baseball, for example. There’s nothing more American than that, unless it is the middle of football season. Then there is basketball.  I also like tennis. I’ve been known to watch bowling and golf but usually I end up taking a nap at the same time. But that’s just me. A lot of people watch racing events. Some people question whether that is a sport. Controlling a car that does;t have pose steering while it is doing a couple of hundred miles per hour takes some strength and skill, especially when it is in close proximity to other vehicles. So, I have never personally questioned where professional racing drivers are athletes.

Let’s conclude that Americans like to watch sports.

Some people participate in sports at some point in their lives. Whether it is in a youth league, during high school or college or in adult leagues, we have all dreamed of making the winning play or being the fastest or strongest  or most skilled at something on any given day. Those who don’t participate directly in a sport can always be a spectator.

You see, Americans like to watch competition. That’s what we do. We pick a side and support the team or individual. Maybe the competitive nature of sports spills over into our domestic politics at times as well. National championships teams and star world class athletes usually get invitations to the White House. But that’s all about photo ops and publicity, not really about politics per se. By the way, publicity is what all the comments about soccer being somehow un-American is all about, promoting some agenda and calling for support of some cause whether real or contrived.

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How can anyone think that soccer is un-American? Maybe it’s because the sport wasn’t invented here. That is the only somewhat valid reason I can think of for having that point of view. Its the old us against them, isolationist mentality. Americans enjoy being different and doing things our own way – even if at times it proves inconvenient or wrong over the course of time. We have our own set of weights and measures – even though those are borrowed from our English heritage. We have our own special variety of football, which is why we call a sport, which is known to the rest of the world as football, soccer. But I think millions of soccer moms across America are scratching their heads over the pundit’s comments, though. How is it that soccer is not American enough to meet anyone’s standards?

Politicians and political pundits seek publicity. They will leverage anything to advantage, even something that should be as politically neutral as a sport. While we should all be supporting an American team participating on the world stage and taking pride in the successes and advancement in a prestigious tournament, the politicization of the sport has for a moment drawn attention away from the real competition, which contains is national pride.  It is dangerous to associate politics with any sport and it needs to be avoided in the interest of maintaining the purity of of competition and the sense of fairness.

Sport should be about competition at the highest level possible, pitting sides against one another chosen on any basis other than something as crass as political agendas. Sport should be purely about athletic excellence and endurance, pushing the limits and showing heart and courage to put forth one’s best effort. It must never be about left verse right or being somewhere in between on the ideological scale.

Promoting one sport over another as a national pastime is advertising not reality. As Americans we can all get behind a national team and show enthusiastic support as one people divided on everything else but united in at least one thing, that we are all Americans. Suggesting that love of one sport in some way diminishes our love and support of other sports that are, for whatever reason, traditionally called American sports is wrong. Soccer is a sport, for God’s sake. A lot of patriotic people enjoy watching it. So, just let them enjoy watching what they choose to watch. As always, if you don’t like it you can change the channel. There is always some other sport you can watch. Just don’t tell any of the rest of us what we can or should be watching or attempt to limit our freedom to do so.

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#soccer #football #American #politics #sports

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Odd In That Funny Kind Of Way

Before I realized that odd and funny weren’t really synonyms, my life was a lot more carefree. Whenever someone called me odd or said that anything I did was unusual I took it as a compliment. Who knew it wasn’t? And now all my friends from way back when know why I had no problem whatsoever being that kind of guy…the one who boasted of my prowess at burping and farting.

It seems that the mistake was not uncommon, though. There were an awful lot of other odd people around me. At times we congregated and everything was fine – as long as there was proper ventilation, of course.  Anyway, I felt more comfortable around the so called odd people than I ever did being around the so called cool people. What is not to like about hanging out with a bunch of guys who have contests to see who can belch the loudest or longest while others attempt to fart the Star Spangled Banner. Hitting that high note without crapping your pants is an achievement.

When we’re young we naturally want to fit in somewhere, don’t we?  And usually that is with people who share out interests. They like the same music we like and speak the same language even if it is unintelligible to outsiders. Belonging is important because being a total social outcast and loser is embarrassing to say the least. So we wind up dressing the same, hanging out at the same places and usually we like or hate the same teachers. At some point we start to realize that we have to do something to distinguish us from the crowd to succeed in life and for a few finding out what that is becomes an adventure. For the rest we integrate into larger society, another member of the seemingly mindless masses. We learn that the gift of being able to burp and/or fart at will isn’t as socially acceptable anymore as it once was.

What’s an even bigger surprise is how little importance there is to being cool once you’re int he working world. The entire objective is showing up to work on time, doing as instructed, working until your break time, returning on time from your break and working until its time to clock out and go home. That’s a large part of being an adult.

There are those things you live for. You have a spouse and kids. Maybe they adopt some of the goals you forsook in your effort to find true happiness. You come home from that thing called work, do chores, clean up a bit for dinner, hit your favorite chair or stretch out on the couch and attempt to watch whatever is on TV. Sometimes the kids need help with their homework – except that stuff never made sense while you were in school so how are you suddenly a resident expert? Is it just because you have the title of Dad? If you’re lucky you married well and your wife – aka Mom – is better at the schoolwork stuff. In fact, for a while the kids may believe Mom knows everything and Dad is around just to reach the stuff on the top shelves in the kitchen, periodically clean out the garage and do yard work on weekends. Mom does everything else, doesn’t she?

We pay some passing homage to those who somehow convinced others that they have enviable talents as musicians, actors, comedians whatever. Those were the dreamers who never gave up on their dreams. They give us songs that we hum along to as we navigate the pitfalls and sand traps of life. They bring characters to life in a fictional world that is much more interesting that our mundane lots. Sometimes they give us a moment to laugh at the absurdity of the human condition around us. Also we tend to want to know what all is going on in their lives because they turned out to be much more interesting tun us. That is pretty much how you get through the middle of your life as it blows past you measured out in workweeks and and days off. You look forward to doing nothing on your time off but that never happens. A day or two off a week is never enough.

Now that I’m on the backside of all that, my working life is winding down, my kids are adults and they are learning some of what it means to be out on their own, I realize how ill-prepared I was for being an adult. Theres no one to blame for it. I might have been my fault. I could have missed the briefing on being normal. But then, I never wanted to be normal int he first place. Being odd has its benefits too. You see, by the time we get to be my age, within a decade of retirement, the differences between self and others diminish in profound ways.

Sometimes we reconnect with people we haven’t seen for a while and they look nothing like we remember them. He was always so skinny before and look at the gut now! She used to look so sweet and innocent, what happened? There are a those few who demonstrate that they were born with superior genes or maybe they just took good care of themselves. They look almost like they used to, just a little weathered and worn. For the rest it is all about the number of changes we notice and tactfully don’t point out as we lie about how great everyone looks. Unless you’re odd and then you may mention some of the more striking changes.

That’s what a high school reunion is for, isn’t it? It’s a sobering experience for bonding with others who have survived the journey – somehow. We realize how truly insignificant the differences are between us and that maybe we were all odd in that funny kind of way.

#reunions #life #working #odd #funny

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An Exercise In Publicity

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We are always defining and refining ourselves, even before graduation from high school. But maybe that’s the first time most of us really begin to think about the real world in terms of ‘now what?’

Some like me deferred answering that question completely, extending adolescence artificially, going away to college. But it was always there, int he background. I’m not sure I ever truly answered that question. Maybe fact we never do. There is always something else, isn’t there?

For publicity’s sake I need to define who I am in succinct sound bites that can be offered rapid fire during interviews. Why? Because most people in the media have the attention span of a gnat. But then, they are merely a reflection of their audience. Who wants to hear about my life when they could  get all the latest dirt on the Kardashians?

Here is what I know about me. I’m a storyteller. Always have been; always will be. It’s what I do now, though not yet for a living. But that is also why I’m doing this exercise in publicity.

My storytelling began long before high school but I think it was around the time I was in Mrs. Hibbett’s 9th grade English class that I first decided I wanted to be a writer. She told me that was a mistake. Her actual words were I’d never be a writer. By the time I was a senior she;d forgotten ever having said that.

In college I expanded the whole storyteller concept to encompass a broader range of expression. I suppose part of that came form dreaming of being a rock star. My single greatest achievement was writing a rock opera based on Beowulf. That fact you’ve never heard that composition indicates the effort skyrocketed my band and into obscurity. But throughout the beginning part of college I was marking time until I became famous. I was absolutely convinced I would be famous once day, After all with a name like mine, Elgon, one hardly anyone can pronounce correctly, I had to do something great. Yeah, I’m aware that’s not logical but that was how I thought in the mid ’70’s. I figured I could use my first name alone. After all, other than my dad who never went by it, no one else I knew was named Elgon.  There is a mountain in Kenya and a cosmetics company in Italy. As far as I know that’s it for namesakes and those are coincidences. I was named for neither. I think my grandmother couldn’t spell. Either that of the story about the traveling salesman who had a similar name was true. But we won’t go into that.

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So, in college I studied mass communication, which by definition is communicating to the masses, right? I was a DJ at a campus radio station. I produced an old school radio drama and a TV news show about music. I interned for a local TV station and at a local newspaper. At the end of all that I figured out I didn’t really like being a journalist. So I decided to focus more on public relations advertising and such. That’s how I got interested in marketing.

I studied Spanish in high school and college, not enough to be fluent, but I can read it to some extent and I generally get the gist of what someone is saying. Seeing how important Spanish has become as a second language,especially where live in Florida, perhaps I should have spent more time learning it. I should have learned a lot of things in college but didn’t. Despite my stubbornness I learned some things, though. One was that regardless of the level of education nothing guarantees you success, or a job for that matter. Eventually I stocked shelves in a grocery store by night and worked part time for a small advertising agency by day. Although I was good at doing both, neither position struck me s having great potential for advancement. So, on a whim and figuring I had a college education, I decided to follow in my sister’s footsteps and join the Air Force. I wanted to be an officer like her but they were being particularly picky about college majors and mine wasn’t what they were seeking. However, in the process of taking the tests for military service, someone figured out I had language ability. Imagine that!

AF picture 1983

You see, after college I interviewed with a lot of companies for positions in management. The economy was limping along in recession so businesses were looking for excuses not to hire people  One of the companies I dealt with was a particular large international bank with an operations center in Miami. After a series of interviews they decided not to hire me. In the rejection letter that stated that based on my at my resume which largely consisted of college transcripts that I lacked sufficient ability to learn a foreign language. How ironic was it that merely a few years later the US military was going to pay for me to learn Chinese Mandarin because I tested very high in the ability to acquire a language over a short span opt training.

I ended up on the other side of the planet for a while, saw a lot of places and met a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. On balance, despite all the bad aspects of being in the military, it was a valuable experience. One thing I learned was that people are people no matter where you are and we all figure out solutions to our problems in culturally distant ways. Another thing I learned was that people in other countries like Americans but don’t necessarily like our government and its policies. A third thing I figured out was that I didn’t always need to speak another person’s language to be able to communicate.

Upon returning home and leaving the military my role as a communicator shifted to training and leading others in retail management. As things evolved, I began to train customers about products as well. For someone who was painfully shy as a child, comfortably leading training seminars and giving presentations to hundreds of people at times was an extreme departure.

All along my journey I was only delaying what I set out to do, tell stories. During college I wrote in my spare time. In the military I wrote in my spare time. Even after marrying, having children and working seventy plus hours a week in retail management , I wrote in my spare time. When the hobby evolved into a vocation did not happen over night. I had been working on my first novel for years. The second one took less time. Then novels three through twelve came all at once. Over a twelve year span I produced forty stories of novel length, twenty of them in some semblance of a finished state as manuscripts. Still, even though I was a published author I didn’t think I was a professional writer. I wasn’t making a living at it, anyway.But I have always been a storyteller.

I guess as writer you are always seeking a story. Some of it comes from experience, a lot of it comes from inspiration but most of it comes from determination. Writing is an art. Like most artistic endeavors it is not particularly lucrative. Money isn’t why artists produce what we do. To be successful as an artist you need to market the art and that takes publicity, building a support base of fans and general exposure to the the public through some form of communication and networking.

One of the many lesson I learned from the study of communication was a rather basic one. You cannot NOT communicate. Even the decision not to talk to someone is communicative. As much as I’d love to be able to just write the only way to persuade anyone to read what I write – which is the entire point of writing professionally – is to promote it in some way. That requires communication whether through media or more directly, one on one.

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#writing #communication #language #culture #education #experience #publicity #newreleasebook

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Fried Windows Comparisons

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I’m flattered when readers compare Fried Windows to The Wizard of Oz or Alice In Wonderland – the original books not the movies. Like those masterpieces the story has a touch of political satire and along with the playfulness there is some dark overtones. Like Dorothy and Alice, Brent is on a quest to discover something about himself as well as what the heck is going on.

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Although the book does not contain offensive language or adult scenes it is not a children’s book. I suppose there are precocious ten year olds who would enjoy the book but I considered the base age group for the story was high school aged. There is a lot going on in the book so I feel it is intended for more developed minds. There is a pule metaphor throughout the book. I think you have to be more mature to notice and resolve the riddles.

I’m a little surprised that people think Fried Windows is a children’s book. Although I have edited some children’s and middle grade books in the past I have never really written anything designed specifically for younger readers. There is a special art to that and I’m not sure I am blessed with it. My next book Becoming Thuperman may be as close as I ever come to writing a Middle Grade or Young Adult book. The main characters are kids discovering they have some super human abilities. What kid doesn’t dream about that. But it’s really not a kids book either.

Ironically, another book that is close to being in production, Spectre of Dammerwald, started out to be a children’s book. I had completed the draft of One Pack, which is now five books. I was working on the draft of The Last Wolfcat, which is now three books. And I was editing a MG book for a friend. I did a detailed substantive edit for him and suggested adding in a couple of chapters to increase the intensity of the climax. As a result the idea was suggested that I should try to write a children’s book. I was at a point in The Last Wolfcat that I realized I needed to know a lot more about the main characters’ pasts, things that happened before One Pack begins. So I set out to do what Tolkien did with The Hobbit, writing a children’s book as a prequel to the trilogy – in my case an octology in progress. So I started writing Spectre Of Dammerwald and about two chapters into the story it was clearly not going to turn into a children’s book. As the inspiration continues it became two books that rounded out the ten books that are The Wolfcat Chronicles.

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Brent, the main character in Fried Windows appears in The Last Wolfcat. Characters from One Over X who are friends with Brent appear in One Pack. Without giving away any secrets, there is a character introduces in Spectre of Dammerwald who is Brent in disguise, but you really don’t find out who that is until later on in the One Over X saga.

Yes, the stories are interconnected in some ways. Even Becoming Thuperman connects to the Brent Universe in a tangential way. In Fifteen Days of Danielle, a story about Brent as a college student, he mentions a cape-less superhero who talked with a lisp – Thuperman. Also in Becoming Thuperman, Will’s mother knew Terry Harper, a physicist who appears in One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles as well as some other books, in high school and they stayed in touch for many years after.

In general the supporting characters in one series end up being main characters in another. I figure if you are going to create an alternate universe and populate it with characters, there are billions of individual stories that can be told. I’m working on a few of the stronger associations.

#newreleasebooks #mustreads #friedwindows #ElgonWilliams #fantasy #WizardofOz #AliceInWonderland

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Como crear tu biblioteca digital en amazon libros

Jerry Gomez Shor, Jr.

click aqui en mis libros disponible en amazon    🙂

      Incentivar la lectura es la mejor forma de expandir conocimientos y abrir la mente a nuevos pensamientos y formas de ver la vida. Cuanto mas se lea,  mayor sera la comprensión de lectura.

     La forma favorita de leer mía es la forma tradicional en libros físicos; el sentir la paginas al pasar unas a otras, oler ese típico aroma de la tinta desgastada por el tiempo, el color del papel hace vivir al lector el sentimiento que el escritor puso en su obra.

    Pero, hoy en día existe otra estilo de libro que esta modificando el comportamiento del lector, y esa es el “ebook”.  La ventaja de estos nuevos sistemas es que se puede cargar con su propia biblioteca en un simple dispositivo electrónico; sea tabletas, notebook, o los llamados teléfonos inteligentes…

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