Lent, Revisited

Lent, Again

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy on other sites and with work but recently came across the files for my first book, Spiritual Response. I’m going to be re-releasing it, along with new material, sometime this year.

In the meantime, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Are you looking for something different to guide you through the 40 days? May I make a suggestion? I wrote a daily reflection journal for this time, and it’s available here. Called Irrational Joy, it is based on my own search to find more meaning in my spiritual life.

If you’ve got Amazon Prime, it’s a free download. (Borrow, I think.) Otherwise, it’s only 99c.

Irrational Joy book cover

I love the picture on this cover. Looking out at the water, it looked just like this – like a picture. Unreal. As if you were looking at a painting on a wall. But there was no wall there, just an open windowless square, and we sat in an open air restaurant.

If you choose to read this book, I hope you find it helpful in your own journey.

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A Bird Takes Flight

A Bird Takes Flight

Saturday, August 17th, was Move In day at UCF. It was a day for the bird, Chimmy to his friends, to take flight. To leave the nest. To strike out on his own, at least somewhat. (Until you’re paying for everything, you’re not really on your own.)

As we crossed the bridge to Tampa, a jet rose into the sky, leaving the airport. Not an uncommon occurrence when you cross the bridge, but it doesn’t happen all the time, either. I looked at my wife and said, ‘Looks like a sign. A jet takes off. A kid takes off.’

Breaking Away

For someone who’s never spent much time away from home, or from his parents, this is a big step. I understood his trepidation, leaving friends, work, family – all the familiar support mechanisms – to immerse himself in a new environment: the college dorm. Fortunately, he’s less than 2 hours away. Still, he’s over 9,000 miles from his birth home, so even within two hours, his support group is limited compared to what he left to come here.

We loaded up 2 cars with what I thought was a lot of stuff. Until I saw others moving in. Our son was shocked at the amount of possessions others brought, too. I even saw one family drive up with a small U-Haul trailer!

Too Little Time

If I could talk to his dad, I would tell him what a wonderful son he helped raise. His son? I’ve known him only a short time, and spent most of that time attempting to help him transition into American life, to learn some of the ins and outs of its customs and culture, and train him to manage on his own (for example, in learning to drive). I’ve tried to smooth the transition of adapting to life here and still maintaining a close relationship with his mom, as I’ve read of other families where the teenagers rebel against their parents due to the differences in culture between here and their homeland. I didn’t want that to happen, but knew it wouldn’t because of the way he was brought up.

When our kids leave home, we are tempted to continue to counsel them, teach them, guide them, so that they avoid the mistakes we might have made growing up. And sometimes, they will ask for our guidance and help. But for the most part, I think they have to experience it on their own, to learn from those they are in closest proximity to (roommates, classmates).

Most often you will read that women (moms) suffer the most from empty nest syndrome, but I think dads suffer in a different way. It may not be so much a depression or sense of loss, but rather a sense of loss of control and protection. Yes, moms want to protect their children as well, but I think a dad’s protection is different. He wants to feel as if his knowledge and experience will be valued by the child. As Mark Twain once said, though, that value will only make itself known over time.

Good Luck, We’re Here if You Need Us

He’s coming back for a visit, soon, and I know his mom is happy. I am, too. But most of all, I would tell him that although he’s now into a new and exciting experience – and we wish him all the best in learning and growing up – he’s not alone. Just as we call our parents (Okay, not as often as I should – sorry Mom and Dad!) no matter how old we are, and talk about things so we can get their inputs, we’ll be here for him, as I know his dad is back home, so that when things seem overwhelming, he’ll have a voice of calm reassuring him that everything will be okay. That we love and support him.

Checking into dorm

Checking into dorm


Setting up the room

Setting up the room


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Lent and other musings

I am posting daily thoughts during Lent, actually following the reflections ebook I wrote (is that called ‘practice what you preach?’) on the spiritual response site. This has been a big help to me! (So I am actually doing something.)

I just completed episode 6 in The Cord Wheaton Saga – check it out on my pen name’s website. It will be a free download 2/23-25/2013. One more episode wraps up the opening series in the Saga. It’s been a lot of fun writing it.


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Revisions, revisions

Greetings to the new year! (Do I really post that infrequently?)

Well, what a busy end of last year I had, publishing 4 zombie e-stories under my pen name, J Gerard Michaels, publishing an ebook and paperback of reflections for this year (liturgically speaking) as a follow-up to my Spiritual Response book, and helping a friend publish their memoir.

So now I’m in the publishing business, (I was, but only for myself, previously), for both ebook and paperback print on demand.

This year I am working on the next revision to my first novel, and have enlisted the help of Larry Brooks. I’ve followed his blog almost from the beginning, and have found his knowledge to be invaluable in my quest to become a better writer. My reviewers should get a copy by the end of April, I hope!\

I’ve stepped down from leading the local writers group, a position I enjoyed immensely but to which I could not give adequate time. I met so many wonderful people on both sides: the aspiring authors, and the published ones, agents, editors, and publishers. For anyone serious about the business, this type of position, especially if you are just starting out, is a tremendous foot-in-the-door opportunity.

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Workshops and conferences

I’ve always advocated attending workshops and conferences, especially for the up-and-coming writer, one who’s still honing their craft. But, as Jeff Strand noted when talking to our local FWA chapter, it’s also good for another reason, even for a seasoned writer. It’s about meeting people. Just as in most businesses, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

With that in mind, I’m coming up with several ideas for workshops for 2013. First, I have to complete the setup for FWA based on the workshop I ran this past summer called: SWISH – Story Workshop in Summer’s Heat. Yeah, I like acronyms. This one was about structure, and I’ll take the comments I received and focus on the strongest parts of it to craft both a lecture-style workshop (1 hour) and an all-day affair (6 hours).

The other two are based on recent experiences I’ve had with the publishing side of the house. One will focus on digitial publishing – ebooks. This will be a one hour workshop on how to prepare for and publish your own ebook. The second will also be one hour, and will focus on publishing a print edition using a POD – print on demand – publisher. (Think Create Space, though it won’t only apply to that company.)

I’ve released a new ebook (about 125 pages) of my reflections for next year. For those on the mailing list (you can sign up here), you may wonder why when you’re getting the reflections for free, that I would offer a compilation for 99 cents. (Yep, it’s that cheap!)

Well, two reasons. One, next year is set up a little differently, so if you want to pick and choose what you want to run (say, in a church bulletin), you are free to do so; and two, in addition to the reflections, I’ve added a short essay for each one that delves into a topic of belief that the reflection is based on along with several questions (from 2 – 6) that you can use to delve into your own faith beliefs more deeply. The ebook is available here. It’s free to borrow for Amazon Prime members, at least for the next 70+ days.

I hope that you’ve made progress in your writing this year, and that this holiday season, in whatever fashion you celebrate it (if you do), finds you spreading the joy of your own happiness with others.


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