Sunday, January 10, 2016

YOLO is a lie.

The whole YOLO thing has always bothered me. For those of you who don't know, YOLO stands for You Only Live Once. For many people I knew, this was the term they used for the reason they did all kinds of ridiculous things. Every time they did something messed up they'd say, "Oh well, YOLO." I thought it would pass over time, but I still hear young people say this all the time.

YOLO is a lie. Let me say that again to be clear: YOLO is a lie. You only die once; you live every day. Every day you wake up, take another breath, and know you are alive is another chance to live the best life possible. Strive to live the best life you can. Some days you will fail; we all fail sometimes, but don't let that hold you back. New days bring new opportunities and another chance to live the life you have always wanted.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmastime in Hawaii with Excerpt from Beyond Demons and Protectors

 
Christmas has come and gone, but there are still things to do here in Hawaii. One of the things many of us do is visit the Honolulu City Lights. The Christmas scenes and lights are put up before Christmas and stay up until around the first week of the new year. It's a wonderful tradition that will draw crowds all the way to the end. My family and I went this evening, and it was as magical as I remember. We bought malasadas, took pictures in front of the displays, and enjoyed all the sights and sounds.

In my novels, I always planned on writing a Christmas scene that would be easily recognizable to locals here. I was very pleased to be able to do so in my second novel. Naturally, I went with a scene at the Honolulu City Lights. Being there this evening really felt like stepping into the scene I described in the book. I'm glad that I was able to write about it well enough for people who can't be here to experience a small portion of an Island-style Christmas for themselves.

Here is the excerpt from Beyond Demons and Protectors ©2014:

     We reappear in the middle of a grassy area. As I take in our surroundings, being extra
cautious to make sure we are in the right place, I can see colorful lights everywhere. The trees have Christmas-colored lanterns hanging from their boughs. Nearby, children are
riding a small train in circles. A light breeze carries the sound of old Christmas tunes in
our direction. Further ahead, I see a sidewalk, couples walking hand-in-hand, and smiling
families with excited children making their way up the street. I know where they are
going. I can see the bright lights off in the distance. Brief flashes of light tell me people
are taking pictures at the various displays along the way. If I remember correctly, some
extremely large Christmas decorations should be near the first group of people taking
pictures. We are definitely in the right place.
     Ash takes a hold of my hand and leans against my shoulder. She begins to weep,
though she doesn’t appear to be sad. Truth be told, I am more than a little surprised that
this is where she wanted to come. This time and place does not carry good memories for
her. The last time she was here at Christmastime was with her parents. Her entire life
changed that night. “We could go to the East coast,” I try. “I’ve never seen the big tree or
the ice skating rink out there.”
     “No, this is our home,” she says with a crooked smile.
     I give her a warm smile in return, “Shall we go, then?”
     She nods excitedly, “Let’s.”
     “I haven’t been here in ages,” I say while we walk over to the sidewalk. “Honolulu
Hale is up ahead, right?”
     “It is,” she says.
     “I think my phone has a camera. We should take pictures!”
     We take a leisurely stroll to Honolulu Hale. Along the way, we stop to take pictures at
several of the large Christmas displays. A little boy runs into Ash. She smiles at the boy.
He hugs her leg, and then takes off to find whoever he is supposed to be with. The
happiness in the air is contagious. Ash watches the boy leave. I’ve never seen the look
she has in her eyes as she watches him walk away. “What is it?” I ask.
     “Nothing,” she says without looking at me. “I just felt something I don’t think I have
before.”
     “This is our first Christmas together,” I remind her.
     Her attention snaps back to me, “I love this.”
     “Me too,” I say and kiss her romantically under the lights of the beautiful display,
though lightly, so we don’t accidentally set the dang thing on fire.
     Every year Honolulu Hale is transformed into a winter wonderland - island style, of
course. It really is spectacular. We pass by the fountain, wishing pool, and large
Christmas tree on our way toward the entrance. A mixture of Christmas smells drift out
of the doorway: cinnamon, citrus, and pine, at least I think the smells are coming from
inside. Now that I think about it, Ash smells very similar to me.
     Inside the building are a series of decorated Christmas trees. Each one has a different
theme, although all of them are fun. I have never seen a bad one. A thought occurs to me,
“I didn’t get you a gift.”
     “You are my gift,” she says, staring at a tree with colorful origami decorations all
over it. “Not to mention, my one of a kind engagement ring. I’m pretty sure no one in the
world has one like it. If anyone needs to worry about a gift, it’s me, not you.”
     “You don’t need to get me anything, Ash.”
     “When are you going to go,” she says, catching me off guard.
     “Go?” I try to play off.

     “To get Stana,” she says, finally looking at me again.
     “Not for a little while. I…”
     “No need to explain,” she says while leading me to a hallway on our right.
     “What’s over here?”
     “Contest wreaths.”
     Down the hallway, on both sides, Christmas wreaths of all kinds line the walls:
colorful ones, artistic ones, large ones, small ones, and some that don’t look like wreaths
at all. I’ve never noticed these before. I glance at a plaque next to one of the closest
wreaths. This one appears to be made out of recycled products. Ooh, this one was made
by a third grade class from a school I’ve never heard of. More than a few were made by
children. The more elaborate ones appear to have been made by professional artists or
clubs for adults. Hardly seems fair; adults competing with children. I read the plaque for
one of the funnier looking wreaths. A chill runs through my body, “Did we lose another
year?”
     “I’m afraid so, babe. Are you worried?”
     “Nah,” I resolve myself to enjoy this time with her. “This is the best Christmas ever!
Let’s take a picture out front.”
     “Okay,” she says cheerfully. “I like all these pictures. I think I want to start an album
or something. You know to keep all of our memories.”
     “I think that sounds awesome,” I say. I really do.
     We stand in front of the Mele Kalikimaka display and ask an elderly man to take our
picture. I’m amazed because he knows how to take the picture with my phone without
any hesitation. I don’t even know how to use my phone correctly. I thank him and hug
Ash. We stand hugging each other for a while, basking in the joy of the holiday season.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be W.E.I.R.D.


This week I want to take a minute to talk about something close to my heart. Be W.E.I.R.D. is an anti-bullying group I help put together here in Hawaii. We're just starting out. We don't even have a webpage up yet, but we do have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/beweirdhi/). If you still have a Facebook, please take a moment to give the page a like.

Be W.E.I.R.D. was started in response to a lack of support here in the islands. There are very few groups out here to tackle such a huge problem. To be honest, I never really thought much about bullying until I ran into one of my former students at a soccer game. In a million years, I would have never guessed she was a victim of bullying. She explained to me that she was bullied out of school and had to switch high schools.

The school she was at didn't really do anything. Like most of the schools here, they would rather ignore the issue than admit there's a problem. She sought out support, but didn't find any. The things she told me blew my mind. I could not believe that happened to here. I was also upset that no help was available to her when she needed it the most.

Thus, Be W.E.I.R.D. was formed. Be W.E.I.R.D. is about being yourself and not judging others. We encourage people to stand up to bullies. We mostly use the page to promote anti-bullying posts and as a place for kids being bullied and their parents to message us. It's amazing how many kids have come to us. In just a few weeks time, we have talked with at least 20 young people, helped them in some way, and/or connected them with services that could help them tackle this problem. I don't know what the future holds for our tiny group, but I'm hopeful we will be able to reach many more youth in 2016.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

About The Soundtrack to Beyond Anything In All Creation


Aloha, friends! Creating soundtracks for books is still a new experience for me. I created one for my first book, Beyond Heights and Depths, that was received well by fans. However, I wanted to do something different for this book. After many discussions, careful consideration, and a huge amount of time on social media, we have put together a soundtrack that I really enjoy. I hope you will too!

This soundtrack has a little something for everyone. We touch on a lot of genres. The songs fit the story really well. Of course there are a few songs I absolutely had to have on the soundtrack. Fortunately, everyone was in agreement with me. I had to include the song “White Sandy Beach of Hawai’i” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. I love this song. I used to have dreams about scenes from this song. It was a no-brainer for me to put this song on the list. Not to mention the fact that Braddah Iz was and is one of the greatest entertainers to ever come from Hawaii.


I put the song by Red called “Never Be The Same” in as a bonus track at the end. I want it to be the last song people hear. I have often said that if this book were ever made into a movie, I would absolutely have to have this song in it. I always thought if I made a book trailer that this is the song I would play with it. Unlike many of the other songs, this is the song that I listened to the most when I was writing all three books. I still listen to it now. One could say this song goes with every part of each book because of the way it fits the characters and story so well.

The complete soundtrack is below. All of the songs are available on Spotify. Please take some time to give them a listen. I hope you all enjoy the soundtrack! Feel free to leave a comment. Tell me what you think, or tell me if you think of another song should be on the list. Thank you so much and have a wonderful week!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Exclusive First Look: Artist Rendering of Ash by Charli Infante

This week I am really excited to bring you something different from my usual content. You get to be the first to see an artist rendering of Ash. Ash is one of the main characters in the Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy. The portrait was drawn by an incredibly talented young artist named, Charli Infante (sagisosonchi.deviantart.com). Please take a moment to take a look at some of her work. She is an amazing artist, who I am certain you will be hearing more about in the near future.

Since the books were initially released, fans have asked me who Ash is based on. I know who I based her off of, but I prefer to keep that a mystery. Fans have also expressed many opinions on who they think would be best to play Ash in a film. This is interesting to me because of how different Ash appears to many people. A few people in particular stand out because of how many times their names have been mentioned: Shay Mitchell, Chloe Bennett, Nicole Scherzinger, and Hawaii Weather Anchor Kanoe Gibson Nitta have been mentioned the most.

Charli is the first I know of to take what she knows about my books and draw her own version Ash. The result is something special. I would have to say that Charli’s version of Ash is the closest to the way I have always envisioned. I was blown away when I first saw it, and I can’t wait to share it with you! So, without further ado, Ash by Charli Infante:

 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

End of the World and Love Stories

End of the world and love stories make up some of the most compelling stories in existence. Both have been told since the dawn of humanity. The variations of both make up a sizable portion of popular books, television, and movies, yet there is always room for more. People love these types of stories. It’s not hard to see why.

End of the world stories have been handed down from generation-to-generation pretty much since humans have walked the Earth. End of the world stories span across multiple cultures and beliefs. At some point or another, I would say everyone has heard at least one end of the world prediction or story. Personally, I can recall three times when people said the world would end, yet we are still here. In terms of mythical or scriptural apocalypse, every generation since those words were written has believed that they were living in the end times. This generation is no different. I know many people who believe we are living in the end of days. They believe the signs all point to the end, but every generation has believed this to be true.

Whether we are or not, I do not know. No one knows for sure if, when, or how the world will end. One thing you will also notice in the stories that have been passed down is that the end comes about in various ways; for instance, fire and brimstone, hand of God, ice age, and world-ending asteroid collision to name a few. In writing Beyond Anything In All Creation, I wanted to present a possible end of the world that contained familiar imagery but also give it my own spin. I set a lot of it in Hawaii because I have never read or seen anything in movies or television that depicted such events taking place in Hawaii. Moreover, I believe another compelling aspect of these stories is triumph of the human spirit. People want to believe that humanity will somehow continue to exist. Heroes will rise up, and we shall overcome.

I think love stories are just as compelling. They too have been handed down from generation-to-generation. Love is the one language that knows no limits and has no boundaries. Love stories reach beyond language, culture, and pretty much every barrier. Some would argue that there is no power greater than the power of love. Personally, I am inclined to agree; love is quite powerful. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles along the way. I believe true love has to be tested. Love has to overcome challenges and obstacles in order to be true.

Throughout the Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy, Ash and Emmett have had to overcome all sorts of challenges. They are soul-mates, but that is only the beginning of their love story. I believe even soul-mates have their love tested. True soul-mates remain together because their love is battle-tested and proven to overcome. That is what makes their bond so strong. To say they are in love just because they say so and have never really faced anything of substance would be boring and naive. The greatest love stories are those that have faced nearly insurmountable challenges and have somehow remained together, not the ones that met, fell in love, and that’s the end of the story.

Initially, I didn’t set out to write an end of the world story. I started with a love story. Eventually, the soul-mates had to face challenges. Then, it became a challenge so big that the fate of the world hung in the balance. Is there a greater challenge than that? Thus, I was given the chance to add my own love story and end of the world story to the many stories being told over and over again and passed down from generation-to-generation, and that’s a pretty amazing thing.

Have a great week, everyone! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New BHAD Cover by Artist Charli Infante

This week I am really excited to bring you the new cover for Beyond Heights and Depths, which is available everywhere eBooks are sold. The cover was designed by a very talented artist named, Charli Infante. Her current website is still under construction, but there is a small gallery of some of her more recent works on the site. Please take a moment to take a look. You can also contact her through the site. She is an amazing artist, who I am certain you will be hearing more about in the near future.

Description:

As I awaken in the dark warmth of this terrifying place, laid out on the strangely uneven ground, I open my eyes to see the true horrors this place was built upon…She is supposed to be near where I landed. If I don’t reach her soon, we will be doomed to remain in eternal fire and pain forever.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Are soul mates real, or just a fairy tale? What if you found your soul mate, but you had to fight your way through heaven and hell to stay together. Could you sacrifice everything, even your own soul, for the one you love?

Emmett Goode moves to a more affluent neighborhood with the hope of leaving his troubled past behind, starting fresh at a new school, and more importantly, reconnecting with his lost love, Ash, who is dealing some personal demons of her own. A tragic accident brings them together; unfortunately, before they can enjoy their new relationship they find themselves at the center of a battle between good and evil that has existed since the beginning of humanity, and forced on a harrowing journey through this world and beyond to stay together. Their bond, and the supernatural power it creates, could mean the difference between saving the world, or its destruction.

Is love enough to overcome seemingly impossible odds?  


 

Now, without further ado, the new cover for Beyond Heights and Depths: