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Monday, December 30, 2013

My Final Post!!

Well, this is it. I HAVE HAD IT!!  This is the last post I am ever going to write......for 2013.

  It has been an interesting year. I wrote two full novels, four short stories, a play, and countless other items. I performed on stage with the Miyagi Ryu Nosho Kai in California and performed in the Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist in Tennessee. Won a lot of contests, lost even more. It has been one heck of a year. I want to thank everyone who has been there with me during both the highs and lows of 2013.

Now, for my final post of 2013 I am going to leave you with my latest art.


   In 2013 The Crystal Needle gained its newest, and final cover art. I like it and so do the readers. The pic on the left is the actual art, the one on the right is a black and white ink version.


Over the past year I helped my friend Wendy Siefken work on the cover art for her own book. Unlike my own, I actually did the drawing for these before heading to the computer to edit them. You might recall the popular post about these covers here. You'll note that these covers are different than the original covers in the previous blog post about them. Well there is another story about that, but what it came to is that now I am totally designing the cover, not just the character art. So, all the aspects of these covers are by yours truly, with a LOT of input from the authors and their fans.

Here we have a couple ideas for the third Bark book, set to be released in 2014. In the book Bark is dealing with something that is putting a lot of fear and sadness in him. So, I wanted to portray the feelings in art. The image on the left shows his deep fear of falling into madness. The image on the right shows his deep sadness. The one on the right was from a scene that has been edited out of the book for timing. He is in his underwear because he is being medically examined, but at the same time he is fighting back tears.

As a Christmas card for some of my fans on Facebook, I drew this image of Ashinaga. It said, "Ashinaga has been working on your gift. Merry Christmas." A good salesman knows his audience and how to sell to them. A lot of my readers are women who enjoy some eye candy, so.....I offer a sugar rush.

Not the same kind of artwork, but still part of what I do. This was from the second nights performance of The Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist. This also marks the first time in the history of my blog that I have posted a picture of myself. Yes, there I am, right in front of you, in the tree.

So, there you have it. My final post for 2013. Thanks for reading, hope to have even better things to post in 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas. Yes, it is just around the corner. Okay, it is two days away so it is sitting in your lap. As a Christmas gift to all my friends and readers I have marked both the Kindle and Nook versions of The Crystal Needle down to $1.99. If you already have it, then send it out as a gift coupon to that person who would like to read a fantasy novel. At a $1.99 it is cheaper to give than most candy, and it will last a whole lot longer.

Add to that, if you want, The Crystal Needle: A Christmas to Remember is regularly 0.99. So, bundle them together and you are still spending only $3.00 on two great ebooks to give to your friends.

This is an especially great gift idea if you are giving someone an ereader for the holidays, give them some books to go with it.

Lastly, my Bark books are all still FREE and available for download today, another gift to you from me.

Happy Holidays
Dan Peyton

Monday, December 16, 2013

And now for something Completely different

A little humor and a little life lesson. Here is my opinion of Facebook games;

Once upon a time a child with a set of cute cheeks and a happy smile approached you and offered you some candy. It looked legit and everyone else was taking that candy, so you take it. It is good, it is sweet, there is nothing wrong with it. Well, at first there was nothing wrong but for some reason that candy is all you can think about now. You ask her for more and she happily obliges. Oh, it is good and you are in heaven while you eat it. Then comes the crash. Oh dear God where is more candy!? You look for her but she isn't there.
Just as you turn a corner a sharply dressed man who looks like he stepped out of a circus approaches you. With a sly smile and a witty glare he holds out candy, more than the little girl had altogether for the whole neighborhood. This is the real stuff. You go to grab it, but he swipes his hand away and shakes his head. He hooks his carnival barker cane over the other arm and holds out his empty hand. “It's gonna cost you.” he declares with that wicked smile. This is no gentleman, this is Lucifer. But you are hooked, you can't help it. You must have that candy! So you reach into your pocket and pull out your wallet and behold, you have no cash. A despicable grin crosses his face as he informs you that he can take credit cards. And, at only 99 cents a pop, you will get just enough to get by for five more minutes. Sounds cheap enough, so you do it, and after five minutes you need more, so you do it again, and again, and again.

You need help!

What did I just illustrate? Oh, you might be thinking this is an anti-drug pitch, but it isn't. I want to illustrate how Facebook games are made.
Anyone playing CandyCrush might recognize the villains in my story, and the subject matter made that clear....I hope. Just like a drug dealer working on getting a new customer, these app games common to Facebook are created to drive addicts insane. They provide you a few free helps, and they give you the first few levels by making them so incredibly easy and fun. Once you are hooked suddenly those helps cost. To make matters worse, you have spent hours and hours developing your game and you are soooooo very close to a victory at that certain level, but you will surely lose unless you buy a help. It seems cheap enough at first, but in the long run it is an utter waste of money and time.

This is how Facebook games are like drug dealers.

You walk down the street and you see all these people that are always there. They wear the dirtiest clothes and hold cardboard signs. They are beggars, people who solicit unsuspecting citizens for a living.
Oh dear lord, is that Billy!? Yes, it is. Oh no, he got sucked into this. “What happened to him?” You wonder. Oh no! Here he comes, he recognizes me.
“hey man, can you help me. I just need a few more friends to help me.”
You try to look away, hoping he hasn't recognized you. Walking faster you leave him to his begging.
Later you get home and there, in your mailbox, are dozens of letters from Billy, all asking you to join him. He wants you to help him by becoming part of the same community that has left him on the street. He wants you to willingly step into that world and start abusing the same substances that made him who he is today, and worse than that it will eventually lead you to doing the same thing.

What was that all about? Well, I wasn't going all sociopolitical here, this is an illustration of how Facebook games lead our nearest and dearest to turn into beggars. You know the kind. One day they hardly message you on facebook, they might leave a comical comment under a post of yours now and then, but otherwise they are just a face to the side of the screen. Then, BAM, you are suddenly inundated with requests in your message box. They aren't heartfelt, they are form letters crafted by the cruel dealers of the drugs. Each one pretending to be your friend so that you can get sucked into their world. And each one begging you to join so you can give them gifts inside a game world you want nothing of. Once or twice is okay, but suddenly its every day and they even share posts about it onto the newsfeed, begging even more for people to join in their addictions.

This is how Facebook games turn people into beggars.

Welcome to the distant future. The world has changed a lot since your day. We live in what you might call a dystopia. Well, half of you do anyway. You see, eons ago the rich got so rich that they separated themselves from those loathsome poor. All good things of society are now on one side of the great fence, and the rest of the undesirable parts of society are on the other.
We both enjoy the lives we live and are given the same privileges. A home, food, clothing. It is just that if you have extra money, you can bribe your way to the top of the food chain and get unique and special treatment. You can buy yourself a home that is a mansion while the world government provides the rest a shack that barely stands on its own. Food, well we get what we want with money, you get what you can scrounge for. Everything is this way. If you have money, you are comfortable, if you don't, you hate your lives.
Now, there are open forums to speak about the lives we live and the games we play. But, if any of the undesirables, or non-paying people, come to speak, they are laughed at and ridiculed accordingly and made to feel the shame that is their existence. Usually they leave bitterly and crawl back into their pathetic holes.
Once in a while there are games we play. We invite them to play as well, those undesirables that is. What they don't know is that they are merely there to entertain us, the paying population. They come in expecting a fair, level playing field. HA! They are ground into piles of gross meat if they even set one dirty foot onto our playing field. It is quite entertaining to tell you the truth. Why would the non-payers even consider entering the “games”? It is because the government cleverly dangles before them prizes that, if won, would put near at our level. The lure is so great that they forget themselves and actually think it possible to win such trophies. In the end, using our bought tools and weapons, we crush them, their spirits and their hopes. They are lucky to be left alive after the games. We, the payers, garner the rewards and that only makes us all that more powerful in the long run. It is a win-win for us, and a lose-lose for them. Isn't that grand!

As dystopian as that sounds, it is a reality for Facebook games. At least certain ones. Games that pit players against players have a clever way of making it so that if you pay, you WILL win over the non-payers. The costs are just high enough that even if you throw a little money at it, those who have no lives and endless pockets (or daddy's credit card) will still crush you.
In most of the games I have been involved with, and there have been some terrifically bad at this, the game itself is designed to truly punish the non-payers. The game is fun and has a lot of worth as a game. But, the best abilities in the game that make you truly powerful are only available to those who dump cash into the game, and a lot of it. Worse than that, often the best abilities/items/allies/whatever are so good that you don't need to be a good player or tactical genius to win against every non-payer you come across. It would be like playing paint ball and everyone is given the exact same type of gun and amount of ammo, but if you pay a huge lump sum, you get the atomic-bomb of paint that when used will leave you clean but smear everybody in a five mile radius with paint in three seconds. You don't need to be good, just have money.
Add to all that, when you go to say anything about the way the game is designed and the fact that paying players are favored by the way the game is laid out, you are attacked. The paying players treat the non-paying players like they are the pathetic little kid that keeps following his big brothers friends around. They are teased, mocked, belittled, and told to either spend money or shut up. And, I have seen very few moderators of such forums step in and defend the non-payer. The mods know where the money is. Yet, the game will sell itself in ads on the side of your facebook page as "Great new Facebook game that's FREE!" but then goes on to punish anyone who actually attempts to play for free. 

This is why Facebook games are like a dystopian future.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Final Update + Review: DONE!!!

Hello one and all. I am a happy writer today. I finished the last page of the full length sequel to The Crystal Needle last night. I like to say it is tentatively finished, not just  finished. First, it still needs a lot of edits before I am ready to show it to anyone. Second, I am never sure if the book is good enough for a sequel and I will allow my secondary reader help determine that. Personally, I feel that the book is good and I am pretty sure it will be put out.

What's the story about? Thanks for asking. You know that map that Elsabethe talked about in the other two books? Well, that's it. This map is a very powerful magical creation that Elsabethe and Adel created a long time ago. It was meant for great good, but it had the power to also create terrible calamity. A man with a lot of greed in his heart got his hands on the map and then happens to also steal the golden scissors. With those two items he is able to wreak havoc on the whole country. Allison and Joe must set out to stop him and retrieve what he has stolen. That is about as much as I am going to give away right now.

This book was my NaNoWriMo book for this year. I finished adding 50 k words to the book by the end of the month of November, but the story wasn't done. So, I simply continued as though it was NaNo time even into the month of December. That helped me greatly to stay on track and finish the book. My brain is tired, my writing muscles are tired, but I am happy I did it. I would like to thank everyone who continued to encourage me each day.

To make this sweeter today, I woke up this morning with a new review up for The Crystal Needle. It was done by Book Angles website and it was a very positive review. Nothing can help make an author feel better than a good review.

Check it out:

Wishing you a hearty Merry Christmas and ask that you wish me Happy Editing! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Big trip to Little Tokyo

Over a month ago I visited Los Angeles for a big event. If you follow me on Facebook you would've seen some of the daily pictures I posted about the event. Now I want to tell you about my little adventure in Little Tokyo, LA. 

I started my little adventure at 4am in East Tennessee (10/15). I flew from Knoxville to Atlanta and from there to LA. From LAX my group was shuttled to Little Tokyo where we would stay and practice for the rest of the week. It was Tuesday afternoon when I finally walked into the Zenshuji temple to meet up with the rest of the school. The last time I saw everyone together like this was 10 years ago, which is how long it has been since I have seen most of the others. I was greeted with smiles, hugs, and so much happiness. It was like coming home after a long time away.
I arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon and we worked until 10pm. The first day was tiring and long but a lot of fun. For the first day of practice I was allowed to wear a basic outfit, but for the second day and each day after that I was informed that I must be in a full kimono. The reason they asked this was because on the second day the masters, grand masters, and other Sensei's from Okinawa arrived.

We would arrive at 10 in the morning and leave at 10 at night. When I wasn't rehearsing under the watchful eye of Master Nosho, I stepped aside and practiced with some of the other students so we could get the dances right.

Soon the musicians joined us with a whole array of Japanese instruments. It is a joy to be able to practice and perform with live music, especially from high quality musicians. Nothing truly compares to the sound of instruments filling a music hall, even if that hall is the basement of a temple.

Lunch and dinner were provided by the support staff. They came in with us at 10am and worked all day to make food. We had soba, curry, goya, rice, pork, fish, pizza and many other treats. About 1pm the basement started really smelling good and we were ready for lunch. At least on one occasion the dancers had finished and were looking around to get direction from Master Nosho only to find her poking about in the kitchen getting a sample of lunch.

Being the only truly non-Japanese dancer in the room you might think I would feel out of place. That is impossible with Okinawan's. They act like I am family, not foreign. I admit that I do not speak any Japanese. Okay, so I speak a few words and I can understand a little.....very little....of what is being said. But I am not really able to converse with them. For the American/Japanese members, this wasn't a problem since they spoke English. For those coming in from Okinawa, it wasn't as easy. Yet, what they couldn't say to me in English they said in smiles and a little help from one of the bi-lingual members.

For reasons that I still don't fully understand yet, Master Nosho informed me that several of the Sensei's and Masters coming in from Okinawa had asked if I was going to be there. They wanted to see me again. I haven't seen them in 10 years, but I still remembered everyone clearly and they remembered me. One in particular was Master Hiroko, a sensei who I first met at the 50th anniversary. She could speak very little English and yet could teach anyone. Though her knees prevent her from doing as much as she could 10 years ago, she did not hold back when instructing. On the last day of my visit, at the after-party for the show, she presented me a very lovely fan. I am unaware if she knew this or not, but I collect fans and this one is a very special performance fan for dancing. I was so honored at that gesture that I truly wished to be able to speak Japanese so I could thank her properly.

The star of the show and the whole week was, of course, Master Nosho Miyagi. The show celebrated her 60th year in the performing arts. Half my size, Nosho Miyagi is a towering person with a fierce smile and stern instruction. When I first arrived she didn't require a bow in acknowledgment but a hug. I first met Master Nosho early in my 13 year long career in this school. She seemed impressed by me and that only set my bar higher to continue to impress her. I hope I succeeded. Funny, witty, and clever, Master Nosho saw to each detail of the show.

After 5 long days of practice and work the day had finally arrived for the show. Just like when I left for this adventure I was up at 4 am. With stars overhead I joined the rest of my school as we walked across Little Tokyo in search of the Aratani Japan American Theater. Once we arrived it was a lot of hurry up and wait. The stage managers and workers got the lights, props, and sets ready while we got on stage to check our placing.

For me, I needed a lot of help. The costuming is very particular when wearing Kimono's like these. And the make-up is something unique. I had to wait for someone who knew what they were doing to get my face redesigned. As I said before, I am not Japanese and therefore my makeup is different than the rest. First they had to cover my eyebrows with this clay like substance, then came layer after layer to remake myself in the likeness of the other dancers. Just about the only part I got to avoid was the thick white paint they use on their arms and feet. Being Scotch-Irish I have naturally pasty skin. I sat for thirty minutes staring at one of the Sensei's from Okinawa while he redecorated me. Once done, I was as pretty as ever. Note: The first dance I was doing was a woman’s dance, and so...yup, I was dressed and made up to look like a woman. A six foot one inch five o'clock shadowed woman.

At over 4 hours the show was long, but it detailed many of the styles of Okinawan performance art. We had dancing, live music, plays, comedy, and the presentation of certifications to several of the students who graduated up in rank. The audience stuck with us and seemed to enjoy the show thoroughly. I am pleased that we had a good stage crew that did a wonderful job in keeping us on schedule. Just before the show started we all got out on stage and took a group photo to commemorate the event. Being so tall I was in a row all my own.

Monday arrived and it was time to go home. I started to really feel sad when I realized that it HAD been 10 years since I had last seen these people and it could be that long before I saw them again. Friends old and new were all saying goodbye. I didn't want to see it end. But life moves on and we boarded the shuttle. I returned to LAX and got on a plane headed back to Atlanta. My adventure in Little Tokyo was over.

One and a half years ago I lost my Sensei to lung cancer. She introduced me to this school almost 13 years ago and it has taken me to new places and to new people like nothing else in my life. Just before she died she expressed the hope that I would stay with the school and that I would make it to this particular show. I knew why she wanted me to stay with the school but I really didn't understand the importance of her request that I make it to this show. Now I know what she wanted all along. These people care about me and I know that I care about them. It wasn't the show she wanted me to go back to, it was to see the family again.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

NaNo update: My Christmas Gift to You!!

Hey all. It's that time of year again. The weather has turned cold, the television has been advertising cheap toys for three months now, and it is nearly the darkest shopping day of mankind. Yup, it's Thanksgiving. This can only mean one thing, Christmas is just around the corner.

As part of this NaNo update post I am going to reveal my newest release. You might be wondering why I am doing such a small release with no events or hoopla. Well, this book is a short, short story. In fact, it is a Christmas Special. It is the Bark Christmas Special. I wrote this as a gift to my fellow Clash players last year just before the game died and am now releasing it on ereaders as an ebook. Just like the other Bark stories, this one is free.

About the story; this Bark story is set in-between the first two books and gives another glimpse of the life of Bark as he struggled to live without a voice. Bark is left at the ULH spacestation while all the other students and instructors head home for the Holidays. The Rangers up their work to keep the world safe so that the ULH can take a much needed break and spend time with their families. Unfortunately, Bark cannot remember any family and has no one to go home to. Yet, he isn't alone. The General is also on the station for the season. However, it is The Generals choice because he hates Christmas. This short story tells a little of The Generals life before he became the head of the United League of Heroes. Bark decides to find a way to brighten the mood of his commanding officer only to discover how much The General really does hate everything about Christmas. After learning the truth behind this hatred, Bark still tries.

Personally, this is one of my favorite stories I have written. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Currently it is only available on Smashwords, but it should migrate from there to Nook, Kobo, Aldiko, and other platforms soon. I will update you on where it shows up through my Facebook page, keep an eye out.

So, Merry Christmas and enjoy Bark: A Christmas Special

Now for the NaNo update:
My NaNoWriMo totals thus far:
Day1: 2012 words
Day2: -295 words (Did a little rewrite of a scene that was screwing up the story.)
Day3: 2575 words
Day4: 1906 words
Day5: 1465 words
Day6: 2789 words
Day7: 2201 words
Day8: 3029 words
Day9: 1234 words
Day10: 0 words (Chruch trip)
Day11: 0 words (Church trip)
Day12: 1306 words
Day13: 1981 words
Day14: 1406 words
Day15: 2099 words
Day16: 1044 words
Day17: 1796 words

Day 18: 3295 words
Day 19: 1841 words
Day 20: 656 words
Day 21: 1366 words
Day 22: 1600 words
Day 23: 3427 words
Day 24: 1891 words

Total Words added since last update: 14076 words
Total Words for NaNo so far: 40624 words
Total Words for the Book: 70211 words

Monday, November 18, 2013

Update: Art

Hey everyone. The handful of you that read my last blog post are aware that I am part of National Novel Writing Month. If you weren't part of that group, well you know now. As such, I am going to update you on my word count numbers. But instead of just posting a list or boring numbers I am going to also throw in some of my art that you may have not seen yet. Yes, this is all drawn by me. Enjoy!

My NaNoWriMo totals thus far:
Day1: 2012 words
Day2: -295 words (Did a little rewrite of a scene that was screwing up the story.)
Day3: 2575 words
Day4: 1906 words
Day5: 1465 words
Day6: 2789 words
Day7: 2201 words
Day8: 3029 words
Day9: 1234 words
Day10: 0 words (Chruch trip)
Day11: 0 words (Church trip)
Total: 16916 words
Day12: 1306 words
Day13: 1981 words
Day14: 1406 words
Day15: 2099 words
Day16: 1044 words
Day17: 1796 words

Total: 9632 words
Total for NaNo: 26548 words
Total for the book: 56062 words

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNo Time again!!!

Well, it's November again. If you were unaware of that fact then....uh....surprise. Anyway, among the various Holiday's November is a special month for authors such as myself. This is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It is the goal of each author who signs up for NaNoWriMo to put in at least 50k words into a story. Someone somewhere declared a basic number of 50,000 to be the amount of words to justify calling a story a novel, so that is why that is the number chosen.

For me, this will be the second year I have done this. Last time I flew past the 50k mark quickly. Unfortunately the book I was working on really fizzled out and I have hardly looked at it since last November. Of course that is not to say that I haven't been writing. Since then I have written one full novel, several short stories, and a Christmas special story for Bark.

For NaNo 2013 I am working on the full length sequel to The Crystal Needle. I will tell you more about the story at a later time. I had already started working on this a while back and set it aside specifically to wait to work on it during NaNo. This meant that I entered the event with nearly 40k words already put on paper. So the site is telling me I'm almost done. Not so fast. I intend on writing 50k words during this month on the story, even if the site wants to pat me on the back ahead of that goal, I will still reach it.

What do I need from you? Encouragement, cheering, prayer. Writing is a joy and a struggle. While I love to write and will always write, there are times when I sit back and say, "what are you doing? This is garbage. Nobody will read this junk." You aren't aware how much a few words of encouragement helps push me out of that funk quickly and keeps me writing.

Now I will give you the current update of my words in progress.

Day1: 2012 words
Day2: -295 words (Did a little rewrite of a scene that was screwing up the story.)
Day3: 2575 words
Day4: 1906 words
Day5: 1465 words
Day6: 2789 words
Day7: 2201 words
Day8: 3029 words
Day9: 1234 words
Day10: 0 words (Chruch trip)
Day11: 0 words (Church trip)
Total for NaNo: 16916 words
Total for the book: 46430 words

Sunday, November 3, 2013

To be an inspiration

Hello everyone, I know it has been a couple weeks since I last posted and I apologize for that. Life has just been one thing after another.

Donna Standish
Today I want to tell you about someone who inspired me. Being an author who seems to go unnoticed by the vast majority of readers is hard on the heart. So when I come across an enthusiastic and cheerful reader of my work I am overjoyed. Slightly over one year ago I did just that. A woman by the name of Donna Standish contacted me on Facebook and told me that she loved my work. I didn't know her but I was happy to hear from a reader. After that we struck up many conversations, some about writing others about anything else. She liked to talk and that is fine by me.

Often when I needed a little encouragement she would find a way to encourage me. When I posted about my books, she would share and ask her friends to check them out. That is the best kind of publicity. She also introduced me to a few others, such as her daughter and a few fitness models. Donna had a thing for beefcake, which was one of the reasons she liked looking at some of my art for my books. Through her I discovered Colin Wayne and Steffen Hughes, two fitness models that let me use some of their pictures to draw characters from.

Donna simply had a way of making you feel like family, even over the internet. So, as a gift I decided to craft a character in her honor. In my current WIP I have a character named Donna, no last name. My Donna is a bit of a cariacture of the real person. I would like to introduce you to Donna of Stillwater.

Donna is a wizard apothecary who meets the heroes when they find their way into the town of Stillwater in Gallenor. Helpful, funny, honorable, and kind to all, Donna is a respected member of the community. The best description I give of her is that she is tragically single. She always has an eye out for a handsome man to flirt with, and boy is she the flirt. As soon as she lays eyes on Treb, one of the heroes and a burly bare chested man, her flirting is set to overdrive. Donna isn't a main character but her role in the book is important and helps guide the characters on their journey. At one point she nearly sacrifices her own life to save the others so that they can escape the clutches of the evil villain. Last, and certainly not least, Donna tends to have the more comical scenes, breaking up the seriousness of the story. In fact one of the best scenes in the book for humor involves her and Treb.

Why am I telling you all about this wonderful person I met and honored with a character in a book? Donna Standish suffered a heart attack early November 2nd and passed away shortly thereafter. I found out about it just before I taught my Sunday school class in church. It was all I could do to keep on the topic and not tear up. I will sorely miss Donna and pray that her family understands the impact this one person had on my life.

The moral of this blogpost: Donna was an inspiration by her attitude and her actions. She didn't request to be a character, in fact I wrote the whole book long before I informed her of her part in the story. I simply felt that she deserved it for being such an encouraging, happy, friendly person. If you want to inspire authors world wide, be a Donna for them, trust me they need every one they can get.

Rest in peace Donna Standish, I look forward to the day that I finally get to meet you in the hereafter where we will discuss literature with our Lord and Savior.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Winning Shorts

              So, I have actually accomplished something I never thought I would. I wrote some short stories! WooHoo! Okay, for those who don't already know me well enough, I have a hard time keeping my stories short. I have tried several times and usually end up with something that is nowhere near the word limit. The last I tried, I ended up with a 450 page fantasy novel that I am now send out to beta readers.
               I really thought I wasn't cut out for the short story scene. Then I did it. The only reason I can explain why it worked this time was that I wasn't thinking of writing a short story, it just happened. A friend, who also happens to own a publishing house, put the facebook joke on her page asking people to say how they met her, but lie. I decided to go all out and wrote a little short two page sci-fi story about us meeting. It was funny and I left it at that. Down the road a few weeks I hear that there is a magazine looking for some short stories that are different. So, I pulled out that little fun piece and actually had to add to it so it would be a complete story, but I was able to keep it within the word limit. Voila' I had a short story. I submitted and it was accepted. The story is called The Master Terra Stone. It was featured in the September issue of the emagazine Imagine This
                With that limited success and another announcement of a short story contest I set a goal of sitting down and writing a short story. It was difficult and took a bit of work to manage, but I did it. I wrote what could be the beginning of a series of stories. It is simple and fun, it is called Fang and the Dragon.
This short will be in the first issue of All Authors magazine, an epublication that will feature any and all genre's. I am excited to see it release in November. Check it out and join the Facebook group dedicated to celebrating the magazines release.

Now that I am beginning to get the feel for how to write a short story, I am going to venture out and write a few more. Perhaps build a back log in the case of a contest or event that I might enter one into. I already have a great idea for another short story. I was inspired by a model I found on Facebook that had a very interesting tattoo. I drew the picture and now it is only matter of writing the story.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

60 Years and Counting

Hey everyone. I want to tell you about a very important part of my life. Dance. Yes, dance. I started in dance as a kid in the fourth grade. I took tap. I also took jazz for a short while. It was fun and I loved doing it each week. Being on stage is something that always gives me thrills and I am a great big ham so it suited me. Then something happened, I moved. In the second year of high school my family moved to East Tennessee and I discovered that there wasn't a school of dance around that took anyone over the age of 13. I was crushed. I loved to dance and thought about doing it professionally, or at least semi-pro in local theaters.

After a couple years I had given up and moved on. Then I met a woman, Nanae Ramey. She was an little Okinawan woman who was at a meeting for the local international festival being set up. I asked her what she did and she said she taught dance. I asked her if I was too old and she just smiled. I started taking classes from her and learned a whole new style of dance and music, the traditional dance and music of Okinawa Japan.

From there I began a journey that changed my life. I wrote before about my sensei and that she was taken by lung cancer last year. Before that, the experience was unique, beautiful, exciting and nothing like I ever expected. 

Yotsu Dake Dancer
Early on I discovered that I was part of a school of many many students from all over the world. My sensei was in charge of the branch that hailed mostly from the Atlanta, Georgia, area. The students down there counted me as lucky since the sensei (teacher) of the school was so near me and they had to wait for her to make the long trip to teach. Not long after joining we began training for shows. To help fund the school we would travel all over the south east U.S. to perform at international festivals and Japanese festivals. Most of the trips were four or more hours away from where I lived so I spent a lot of time in the car riding from place to place. Since the majority of the time was just Nanae-sensei and myself, I was the one who carried things, set up places, even spoke to the crowds since I did not have a Japanese accent. I loved it. 

What I loved more than the stage was my time with my sensei. She was a wise and kind person who enjoyed teaching about everything. Most of the traveling was done early in the morning or late into the night. I watched sunrises and sunsets on the same days with her in the car. To help introduce me to the Okinawan society Nanae-sensei would play traditional music and tell me the stories behind it. 

My fondest memories were those long dark nights on the roads heading home. I was never able to sleep in a car as a child or young adult, but I soon discovered I could rest easily on those rides. She would play soft, soothing Japanese music while I laid back in the seat and looked out the window at the stars and the moon. I fell asleep and it was calm sleep. I miss those nights and I wish I had had more of them. 

I was happy to be dancing again, but now I was more than just a student dancer in a school, I was an adopted member of a society of kind, happy people. They wanted to teach me about their culture and I wanted to learn. 

After a few years I was happy to attend a big show in Los Angeles. This was no ordinary show or festival. This was the the anniversary of our  grand master, Nosho Miyagi. At that time she celebrated 50 years in the school. It was a big deal. I was still a rather new student, especially compared to some that came from Okinawa for the event. I was only supposed to perform in one dance, but after the master watched me dancing along with the others during a special dance she asked me if I would be interested in being part of that one as well. You may not understand the honor that was, but it was incredible. I was a new student who had never performed for the master before those days of practice and now she was asking me to take part in one of the most beloved dances of the Okinawa society. Not only that, I was in the center of that dance. I was nervous, but so incredibly honored I could not turn it down. The show went off without a hitch and it turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. 
Fast forward ten years and it has come again. Yes, Master Nosho Miyagi is celebrating another big anniversary, her 60th year of being in the school. A lot has changed for me. I am not the boy I was back then, I have learned and performed all over the country. My sensei taught me every week, sometimes for many days a week. I leave next week to be part of this show and hope the experience is even better this time. 

An unplanned situation has crept up, one that will only serve to remind me of what is lost. I will travel from my home to L.A. alone. My group is still coming, but the flights got all screwed up. My thoughts will be on the show and the trip, but I will also note that this trip is taken alone. This show will be with one less sensei to dance on stage in honor of the grand master. I will dance my best in her memory and I hope that anyone reading this that lives in the Los Angeles area can mark the date and make it out to celebrate with me. As a performer there is no better way of honoring my work that sitting in the audience.   

A final note: The song that I most treasured during our long night trips home was Densa Bushi. You can go online to learn what it is about, but I don't think about the meaning, just the music. For some reason this song was and is a close one to my heart. 

Monday, September 30, 2013


Greetings everyone. I want to show you some art today. This time it has absolutely nothing to do with MY art, but other peoples art. I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Grand Rapids Michigan and discover an event they hold once a year called Artprize.

Here is what the official website for Artprize has to say:
"ArtPrize is a radically open, independently organized international art competition with an unprecedented $200,000 top prize decided entirely by public vote.
For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown, and it's all free and open to the public.
It's unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike"

I didn't have time to see it all, but I am going to show you a little of what I did see. I went out of my way to find the artists so that I could get their picture with their work. a lot of this is going to be small pictures on here, but just click them to see the full sized images. Here we go....

This was one of my favorites,
This is the artist, Laurie Roberts 


Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore
The artist, Ann Loveless

This is a machine quilt

Todd and Kiaralinda Ramquist, the artist.
Check out the facebook page of this artist couple.

Anni Crouter

John Andrews

Nathan Goddard

All musical instruments
Glass, beads, and small shells

Solid leather native American statue.

Stempunk dragon baby
Origami flowers made into a butterfly

A quilt

Glass mosaic.

Kate Askegaard 
All dots