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Leaving the Nest

Eventually, the day comes when you need to step out, take the leap, and try to fly all by yourself. Your wings may be tender and your heart may be cautious, but you must be brave and you must take on the challenge, for to sit back and wait any longer would amount to an unbearable punishment.

The time that has lapsed and that has brought us to this moment has been memorable and not without challenge, not without pain. There are memories that ring true and clear as though they just happened, and there are others that have faded into the mosaic fabric of the story. There has been mostly joy in every step taken along our newly created path. Love and passion and determination have been part of the journey, and while we have come to the end of one leg of the journey, a new leg is only just beginning.

I can remember clearly when the dream first came. The dream quickly turned into a plan, which laid the foundation for a course of action to transform the dream into reality. Many challenges and roadblocks arose along the way, but with swift and conscientious determination and action, we prevailed. It took years, but it was time well invested. There was no other option.

There was much learning along the way. Friendship and support presented itself from around every corner we turned. There was questioning and criticism, most of it positive, and all of which served as a driving motivation to succeed. Nothing could stops us. Sometimes there was doubt in the eyes of the facing person, but even that was a force, a propellant, that steered and guided us to where only we could go.

The time has come. With toes up to the edge, the vision is clear out to the horizon. Whether it stays that way is anyone’s guess. The wind blows strong and I can see it beginning to lift you. There is no point in thinking about or fearing what is below. All that matters is what is beyond where you stand now. Your wings are stronger than you think, and your experience is enough to take you where you need to go. Believe it. Step off, headstrong into the world, and take on every challenge and opportunity that comes your way. Embrace everything. The winds of life will carry you as long as it sees fit, and will gently land you where you ultimately need to be. It’s all about the journey, the flight, and the people you see and talk to and impact along the way.

Enjoy the ride, and I’ll be there when you land. Read More 
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We Become What We Think About

Over the past years, I’ve often found that in order to get an idea to come to fruition, all I needed to do was think about the idea. That’s it. Just think. The more I would think about an idea, the more my conscious and subconscious brain would join in to help develop and flush out the idea. Thoughts would turn into other ideas, which would make me think even more, and before I knew it, I had a plan in place to make the idea a reality. It was the motivational speaker Earl Nightingale (someone I knew from a past life) who coined the phrase “We become what we think about,” and those words have rung true for me throughout my life, especially when it comes to being a writer.

Twenty-five years ago, I had my first thought, an idea, about becoming a writer, and I’ve been thinking about that idea ever since. My favorite authors—Bradbury, Crichton, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Harrison, and King—had made me do it – think, that is. Over the years, they had grabbed me and had engaged me with their words and their stories. They had opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities of words and books. Essentially, through the influence of their stories, they had told me to keep reading, and by all means, to start writing.

One book in particular, and a subsequent meeting with the author of that book, set me on my way. The book was Dandelion Wine, written by one of our greatest American authors, Ray Bradbury. I had read other Bradbury books in my earlier years, like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. But when I read Dandelion Wine, it was the first time I could truly visualize the story as I read it. It was the first time I had become part of the story. It was the first time I had experienced words and sentences strung together in such a unique way: literature with doses of realism and lyrics and poetics. I was hooked. I thought to myself, I want to be able to write a book like that some day. I’m a big dreamer.

I forged ahead with a renewed passion for reading, devouring anything I could squeeze into an already hectic daily schedule. I began reading instructional books on the craft of writing and publishing. I began the process of preparing myself for the inevitable day when I would become a writer.

In 2003, while in San Diego, I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Ray Bradbury. I had heard of a seminar he was conducting at San Diego State University. On a whim, I changed my afternoon plans and drove over to the campus. His two-hour talk about the “love of writing” was truly inspirational and his words made me wonder even more about becoming a career writer. Afterward, I met Ray and he signed a book for me. He asked me if I was a writer, and I told him that I wanted to be one, some day. He said, “Just do it.” And I replied, “Okay, I will.”

Four years later, I became a writer. Although I had been writing for years, I made it official, committing myself to my writing and to the publication of my writing. My fiction writing took off at a feverish pace, but I was quickly distracted. Years earlier, I had come up with an idea for a non-fiction book that would just not leave me alone. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Instead of fighting it, I decided to satisfy the idea and the urge, and I wrote The First 60 Seconds, my first book. The book was published in 2009 and I had the great opportunity to tour around the country to talk with people and to help people realize their next great career opportunity. The book was the perfect ending to a twenty-year business career.

When I got back to my fiction writing, I focused mostly on shorter pieces, which allowed me to flush out many ideas and allowed me to get in some practice using the many skills necessary to write a good sentence. It was hard work, and it still is. I get a lot of ideas for writing projects, and I usually try to see if the idea is worthwhile by attacking it through a short piece, such as a poem or a short story. After that, if I still like the idea and the premise, I’ll consider it for a longer form.

For many of the ideas I get, I simply can’t say for sure where they came from, or why I felt the idea was necessary to pursue any further. In 2009, I came up with an idea for a story about a man whose life was turned upside down when a distant family member came back into his life. I thought about starting off with a short story, but for some reason, I was able to visualize the idea clearly in my mind. Given my love of movies, I decided to write the story first as a screenplay. By the end of the year, the screenplay was finished, and the story of Recalled To Life was ingrained in my mind. I wanted to move on to something else, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the story.

In 2010, I embarked on a journey to turn the screenplay of Recalled To Life into a novel. The adaptation usually goes the other way, from novel to screenplay, but the process made sense for me—start small, flush it out, and if it still makes sense, go bigger. I continued to think about the story for the next year and the additional words and story lines continued to flow. In April 2011, the novel was completed, edited, and ready to sell.

No one tells you that the hard part of writing happens after you’ve finished a project, but it’s true. Once it’s written, a book needs to be published and promoted and sold, with many of the related tasks the responsibility of the author. So my thoughts turned to publication. Every day I thought about how to publish my book. Thoughts turned into ideas, which turned into plans, and in August of 2012 I was fortunate to sign a publishing deal with Eckhartz Press, an up-and-coming publisher in Chicago.

On the day I received the final publishing contract, I sat at my desk and read through the details one more time. I signed the contract and scribbled the date—8/22/12. As my pen came up off of the paper, I paused. The date seemed significant, memorable. At just that moment, I heard a faint bell ring and I looked up to my computer screen to find a pop-up reminder from my calendar. Inside the pop-up box was, “Ray Bradbury’s Birthday.” I had put that annual reminder in my calendar the week after I met Ray in San Diego. I’ve used that reminder to send him a birthday card every year since, with the exception of this year, as he didn’t quite make it to his 92nd birthday.

Was it a coincidence that I signed a contract to publish my first novel, Recalled To Life, on the birthday of my favorite author, friend, and mentor? Or was it something else, like a good omen or someone looking down on me on one of the most important days of my life? Deep down, I think I know the answer.
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