Monthly Archives: December 2021

Strange Year and “Don’t Look Up”

Gin Tonic, Cocktail, Lemon, Alcohol

Another strange and difficult year is coming to an end.

But as James Baldwin said, I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive.

We’re still here, some of us. I raise my glass to that. We’re hopefully better prepared to deal with what’s coming our way. That’s reason for optimism.

How would you describe this year?

I see that humans are flawed, even more than previously imagined. And stubborn. And we’ve taken to saying: reality is all relative a little too much, maybe.

Being dead is not relative. That is an absolute reality.

How we process things while alive can be a relative reality, sure. From that to a twisted relationship with what’s in front of us, that’s a long and twisty road.  

The movie Don’t Look Up is showing exactly that by holding a mirror before us, in a comedic way, thank God. A mirror that shows our faults in an ugly light that cannot be filtered or adjusted. The movie brings nothing new to our collective knowledge, but it’s an important reminder that we have become a society of many different realities with our trends and fads and political fights.

I would recommend watching Don’t Look Up – which is the latest point of argument on social media. A pretext to create yet another pile on. If anything, watch it for that reason.

But, as I said, we’re here and that’s reason for optimism. For celebration.

Here’s to a better year ahead filled with health, reading, writing, and, hopefully, a way to cut down on so many different realities.

Cheers, friends, and Happy New Year?

  • Image: Pixabay

A Gift and My Interview

After six years with Solstice Publishing, I have decided to no longer renew the contract for my mystery novel, Stranger or Friend, but rather do it on my own.

It was an honor signing with Solstice, being given an editor and added to their catalog. The book did very well, earned a lot of reviews – editorial and readers.

The book was also voted P&E best mystery novel.

Whereas entering the publishing world felt at once exciting and confusing, regaining control feels liberating. Cover design, formatting, upgrades, promotional decisions all required publisher approval. Author requests weren’t always approved – for example my request to update the upload after the first try messed up the text. It’s a business, I understand.

The book distribution stopped as we the parties tried to decide the next steps.

Now, Stranger or Friend is back in the world with a new cover, and formatting issues fixed.

To mark the event, Author Linda Covella hosted me for a candid conversation. Take a look, if you will.

And to celebrate, the novel is FREE to download starting tomorrow December 21st till Christmas. Here is one of the clickable links taking you directly to the book.

My gift to the mystery reader on your list.

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Should we tell kids about Santa?

When did you find out Santa isn’t real?

I was seven when I was told, after questioning the logistics of Santa’s ability to deliver millions of gifts in a single night. Mind you, it was Saint Nick for me, and it was December 6th when the gifts appeared in my newly polished boots I left by the window. Because unlike Santa, who comes down the chimney, Saint Nick comes through the window. Somehow.

We should give our kids a little more credit. They understand, early on, the difference between their real world and one that belongs in the story books. They are smart little people.

In reaching for my earliest memories, I don’t think I believed past the age of five – maybe even earlier – that there was a jolly old man in red who knew exactly what all kids wanted.

When I insisted the story sounded more like a fairy tale, I was assured, and reassured Santa was real. Even when I came home from school and said a friend told me there was no such thing, I was again urged to believe in magic. Until my questioning of every detail was too much, I guess.

I recently read a story about a child who at the age of nine had an emotional breakdown when she found her father putting gifts under the tree in the middle of the night.

It’s a harmless story, right? A small little lie, or maybe not even a lie, but lovely tale kids are urged to buy into at a tender age, one they outgrow at some point. Like you outgrow an ugly sweater you never liked, just accepted.

A story they then turn around and repeat to their kids.

I went along with the Santa story for my kid – how could a child who grew up with the story (lie?) not repeat it? – but never insisted when he asked for details. Rather, I said something like … well, what do you think, why and how would something happen that way? And let him work out the gaps in the storyline. I could see he was having a hard time with the idea that someone came into our house in the middle of the night with gifts, then made it to everyone’s house, flying through the snow on horse open sleight. So, I dropped it.

Santa is now part of our tradition, so we push the idea through year after year. It’s something everyone we know is doing, so no parent wants her kid to be different, to not write a letter to Santa, to not wake up on Christmas morning and imagine the jolly old man having lowered himself down the chimney to deposit gifts right where they belong.

It’s a nice story.

Why not tell kids the truth? Which is: we love them so much we work ourselves silly shopping, wrapping, decorating. Would the coexistence of openness and a story-book character we made up for the fun of it be so bad?

Why not start with the truth?

Do we really think kids older than preschool age truly believe us? And if they don’t, how do we figure they feel about our insisting they believe in something unreal, despite their justifiable doubts?


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Hobbies are Life

We need hobbies or we go nuts.

Hobbies keep us engaged in something we enjoy. Otherwise, life is just school, school, work, work. We need something that brings a smile and reminds us – there’s more to life than running around from one deadline to the next.

My big hobby is writing.

Writing is therapeutic. It’s a solitary endeavor filled with introspection.

But the thing is, our world is loud and full of advice. Writing advice, particularly publishing advice, can take the fun out of writing. And the noise is constant. So, how do we manage?

Well, we write for ourselves. When we write for ourselves we write with passion and power. Most times, if the passion and power are there, the writing will be relatable to readers.

Five years ago, after many years of writing, I was offered a publishing contract. The mysterious world of publishing opened itself up to my curiosity, and a great new partnership began. I learned a lot about the publishing side of writing, and while beneficial, it took me away from the actual art of writing.

I almost lost myself in this new world of numbers and public relations. I like the public relations side better than the numbers side, but a publisher requires knowledge of both.

When my contract came up for renewal this year, I said: no more. I want to do it on my own, write and publish for myself, particularly since the next book in the series will be out next year.

Hence a new edition of STRANGER OR FRIEND was born, under new cover and with minor additions. A week from today, my newly selfied mystery novel will be out in the world.

Your humble correspondent offers the book trailer above, for what I hope is your enjoyment.