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:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Of all my posts on music and the soundtrack for Beyond Heights and Depths



Music plays a huge part in my life, as I'm sure it does for many of you. I've done a few posts on music in this blog. I've talked about the power of music to help people through break-ups. I often talk about how music can be therapeutic. I feel like music can transport me to a time and place in my memories like nothing else can. Certain songs take me back to a specific time and place in my life. I mean, even Christmas music is a necessity for me to really get into the spirit of the season.

Thus, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that it never occurred to me to make a playlist or soundtrack for any of my books. Someone asked me recently, "Did you have any songs in mind for certain parts of your books, or were you listening to specific songs or types of music?" The answer is: of course! I just never thought to put any of it out there for anyone to see. So, with this post, I am listing the soundtrack to accompany my first book, Beyond Heights and Depths.

After a lot of thought and consideration, I feel these are the songs that best go with my first book. These are the songs I was listening to when I was writing. These are the songs I hear when I read it now. The complete soundtrack list is below and the music player is at the top of the page. Have fun listening! I hope you all enjoy the soundtrack!

 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Beyond Heights and Depths Book Contest - Rafflecopter Giveaway


 Amazon Kindle Store

Barnes & Noble Nook Store

Kobo Books

iTunes




 
Greetings Friends! I want to let you all know about this exciting contest. The grand prize is a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  All you have to do is participate in the Beyond Heights and Depths Book Contest, follow the instructions, and enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize! It's that simple. Best of luck to you!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter. The winner will be contacted via email and have 3 days (72 hours) after email is sent to claim the prize. If the prize is not claimed within the time frame of 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen. The new winner will have 3 days (72 hours) from the time of notification to claim the prize. The Beyond Heights and Depths Book Contest team reserves the right to end a giveaway early without notice or prolong if it is deemed necessary. The Beyond Heights and Depths Book Contest team reserves the right to disqualify any entry. Furthermore, The Beyond Heights and Depths Book Contest team is not responsible for lost or damaged items.  



About Beyond Heights and Depths:

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?  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tomorrow is not guaranteed...

This week has been interesting for me. I had the chance to catch up with a student I have not seen 6 years. I was also blessed to see her graduate from high school. All in all, things have been very good. However, there is one conversation I had recently with someone that has been on my mind.

Someone recently expressed to me how much it bothers them that they were not able to talk with a special someone before they passed. The person talked about how he always thought he had more time. He kept putting off talking with that person. He kept thinking there would be another day, and then there wasn't another day. Thus, this person is left with a kind of hurt in his heart that cannot be easily fixed.

This conversation struck a chord with me because I know this hurt well. There are more people I wish I had one more chance to talk to than I care to admit. I did the exact same things. I always felt like there would be another day, another time, another opportunity, but there isn't always another chance. There are people I see as clear as day in my mind the last day I ever saw and spoke to them. I remember thinking I should talk to him or her, and for whatever reason, I never did, and then I never got the chance again.

I wish I could say there is an easy way to fix this, but there isn't. The people I never got a chance to talk to once more weigh heavily on my mind quite often. I remember the good times, and I smile. But there are also times I see them in my mind and I wish more than anything in the world that I had just one more chance to speak to them again. Time goes on and the pain becomes more manageable, but it never completely goes away.

The best we can do is take the time to be with the people who are important to us now while we can. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Sometimes there aren't second chances. Tell the people you love that you love them today. Have those conversations you've been meaning to have. Make those important memories. Do the things that you always wanted to, because you might not have a chance to tomorrow. Don't put off for tomorrow that which can be done today. Because once it is too late, there is nothing that can be done.

Anyway, this is what is weighing on my heart this evening. Thanks for reading. I think I will leave you with a song. Have a wonderful week everyone! Stay blessed!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stuff That Works

 Greetings Friends,

I have many projects in the works, so I have not been blogging as much as I used to. I wanted to take the opportunity to share one of my recent works with you all this week. As many of you know, I have been working with youth and young adults for most of the last 10 years. I recently put together a book of my most successful activities into a 12-week course called, "Stuff That Works." My goal was to put together a program that new youth workers could implement with a group of any size and without a huge a budget.

I still use the activities in my book, some as recently as a few weeks ago. I know they work, and they work across multiple denominations. Personally, I have used these activities with Catholics, Pentecostals, Methodists, Non-Denominational, and even Non-Christians. Now, I would like to share this others. I'm just not sure where to begin. I'm not even sure how much interest there is in something like this.

So, I am making a sample copy available on this page. The sample copy contains an introduction and the first two activities. I am eager to hear what others think about this book. I hope it will reach people who could really use this curriculum. I'm trying to find out if there is a need for this, or if there is any interest at all. Please leave a comment or contact me. Let me know what you all think. The link to a pdf sample copy is in the title of the book above. I will also leave a second link below. Thank you! And have a wonderful week!

Stuff That Works: A 12 Week Program to Get Youth Groups Started 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chase your dreams, but don't chase everyone away

Greetings, Friends! It's been a while - I know. I'm still out in the world chasing dreams and helping other people chase theirs. I still believe everyone can and should chase their dreams. However, lately I've been talking with a few folks that are going about this all wrong.

Let me be blunt here: Chasing your dreams should not come at the cost of the most important people in your life. If chasing your dreams comes at the cost of your spouse, your closest friends, or your children, you are doing it wrong. You may find some success this way, but you will never find true success. What you are doing is not chasing your dreams.

The people closest to you should want you to achieve your dreams. They should be supportive. They will want to celebrate with you when you do accomplish your dreams. People who love you want you to be successful. I completely believe this to be true. Let me be clear: The problem I am seeing in the folks who have been coming to speak to me about this is NOT people close to them discouraging them from chasing their dreams.

The problem is they are not chasing dreams, they are chasing money. Chasing money is not the same thing. Chasing money will never lead you to where you want to be. What good is it to gain the whole world but lose everything else in the process? I know many folks who believe money is the answer to all of their problems, but it is not. You will simply have different problems.

Do not be a money chaser. Money chasers often lose everything in their pursuit of money. In most cases, they will not see the error of their ways until it is too late. Moreover, money will not fix the problems you create if you abandon your spouse, children, or anyone close to you. Money cannot buy the happiness and sense of accomplishment that dream chasers experience.

Believe me, I know, I have been both in this lifetime. Living the dream feels a heck of a lot better than having money and nothing else. Chase your dreams, my friends. I wish you all the success in the world. But do not mistake chasing money for the same thing. Do not lose everyone closest to you, or even worse, lose yourself for the sake of making a few dollars. People are worth more than money. Making a difference means more than making a dollar. And no amount of money is worth your heart and soul.

Blessings to you all, my friends! And have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Current Project: Modern Chicken Skin Stories

In Hawaii, we have a long tradition of storytelling. Stories of all types have been passed down from generation to generation in various forms. The hula is one of the most well-known forms by far. Stories about history and culture are told to us from the time we are young children. However, another tradition is the telling of "Chicken Skin" stories.

For those of you who have never heard this term, chicken skin stories refers to the telling of spooky stories. What many people call goosebumps, we call chicken skin. These are the stories that make you afraid to be alone in the dark. These are stories that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Chicken skin stories make your heart race. In simpler terms, these are the stories that scare the heck out of you.

Here in Hawaii, we begin to hear these stories at a fairly young age. They are often told around campfires or on 4th grade Big Island trips. We all know our fair share of traditional stories. Nearly everyone who grew up in the islands knows a story or two about run-ins with obake (Japanese spirits), night marchers, the Goddess Pele, the Green Lady, Morgan's Corner, and various others. Personally, I can recite many stories I have heard since elementary school. I've been asked on a few occasions to tell some of these stories to school children around the state.

Yes; we all know these stories, and this is where my current project begins. I am in the process of collecting modern chicken skin stories. I am collecting stories that are more recent than the traditional stories. Many of the stories of my youth have an origin in the 50's, 60's, and especially the 70's. I am interested in hearing these newer stories and archiving them, so they can be passed down to future generations.

For years, I have known of many great storytellers in Hawaii that had been doing what I am currently doing. For whatever reason, there seems to be a gap right now. No one is writing these stories down, telling these stories, keeping these stories alive. Even sadder, many youth don't know these stories, and they don't show any interest anymore. It seems as though if it's not in movie form or on YouTube, young people don't have any interest in it. I hope to change that.

I've been asked to tell these stories recently, and I want to keep this tradition alive. I know the old stories, I've had some personal experiences, and now I am collecting the newer stories from folks who have had their own experiences. I hope to put these down in writing in the future, but for now, I am just happy to tell these spooky stories to a new generation. So, wish me luck. If you have a story to share, please message me or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Message

Happy Easter, my friends! I just wanted to take a moment to talk about something that has been on my mind. On this day, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. He is indeed risen, and that is a very good reason to celebrate. He died and rose again, so that we could be free from sin and receive everlasting life.

One of the things you will not find in any of the gospels is: except. The gospel says that he died so that those who believe would be saved. Nowhere does it say who could not believe. When the church came together after his resurrection there was only one church. Men, women, and children of various races and backgrounds came together to learn and preach the gospel. In simple terms, there was unity.

My prayer on this day is that there would be unity in the Body of Christ once again. As it stands, there is too much divisiveness. There is too much judgement. There is too much of us putting our own junk into the church and leaving too much of Jesus out. I believe unity is absolutely possible. I believe unity is possible between every denomination and every believer. In order to do so, we must be willing to love one another the way Jesus said. We must "love our neighbors as ourselves," and do so without any "excepts" or "buts."

There cannot be an "us" or "them" mentality. There is no us or them; there is only us. We cannot say I will love everyone, and then throw in an except. There cannot be any exceptions. We are called to love the unloved. We are called to love the outcasts. We are called to love the lost. We are called to bring hope to the hopeless. We are not called to love those in our own inner circles and no one outside of it. That kind of close-minded thinking is destroying the Body of Christ.

Look, no one said it was going to be easy. We all live life through the filter of our own eyes and experiences, but in order for unity to truly exist, we have to move beyond that. I, myself, am still working on this. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm still working toward being the person God wants me to be. I'm a Pentecostal pastor, with a background as a Methodist, who works in a Catholic school. Believe me when I say, I believe unity is possible. Is unity within reach? Well, not quite yet, but I do believe it's possible.

That is all for me, my friends. I hope you all are having an amazing Easter. Remember, God loves you all, no matter who you are or what your background is, and nothing can change that. If you are feeling down on this day, I pray that God would raise your spirits. You are a loved and blessed individual. I know what it is like to feel unloved, but know that God loves you through it all. No matter what. Blessings to you all, today and always!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

With the highest of highs often comes the lowest of lows

The last few weeks have been about the highs and lows of life for me. I had a successful week of sales during Read an E-book Week. My youngest got over the stomach flu. My oldest was getting ready for spring break. I'm not one to wait for the other shoe to drop - I believe that to be a bad habit that should be avoided, but I am willing to concede that with the highs of life often comes the lows.

It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride the last few days. I had the joy of participating in a fundraiser for my friend's mother, who is raising funds for a kidney transplant. She is an amazing woman, and I am glad that the funds are coming in for her. When I was growing up, she was like a mom to all of us troubled kids. I spent so much time at their house that people thought I lived there. I consider the whole family to be my own family, so it really was a joyous occasion to be a part of.

I also got to hang out with another dear friend for her son's birthday. She's actually my sister's friend, but she has been through so much crazy stuff with us that she is pretty much family. It was a pure joy to celebrate with her and her family. It also gave my kids a chance to play with other kids, which is always fun for them. For the most part, things have been nothing but up for us.

And then came the flip side of the coin. My wife's nana fell ill. As of this writing she is still with us, but she is being made comfortable for the next part of life's journey. It all happened so fast, it is still difficult to process. She is another amazing woman, so her loss is a tremendous blow to my wife and her family, and to me as well. I have nothing but fond memories of her. It is important to celebrate her life, but taking the time to mourn is also of great importance.

Life is crazy sometimes. You just never know what you are going to get. We take the highs with the lows, and that's okay to me. I think it is important for us to enjoy every good moment. Never take life for granted. None of us know how things will turn out. None of know when we will see the end. Really enjoy life. Savor every moment. Take the time to tell those important to you that you love them while you can. Anyway, these are my thoughts this week. Above all, I want you all to live, I mean really live! Have a wonderful week everyone!

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's Time for Read an E-Book Week 2015



I got the message a little late this year, but yesterday I finally received my email from Smashwords asking if I would like to participate in "Read an E-book Week 2015." Unlike other promotions, I have no problem getting behind this one because I already participate in multiple efforts to promote reading in general. I read to kids on a regular basis. I also participate in field trips for preschoolers to check out the local library. I help with book fairs. I try to participate in anything that promotes reading.

I truly believe we need to promote reading as much as humanly possible. It's sad how far reading has declined over the years. One of the worst comments I hear on a regular basis is, "I'll wait for the movie to come out because I don't like reading." I know more people who use their Kindle Fire to play games than to read books. As a result, I meet a lot of kids who don't like reading because the adults in their lives do not read. They fail to understand how important reading is, until it is too late. Take it from me, a person who made it to college before I realized I had the reading level of a child: reading is very important!

If you're an author on Smashwords, consider participating. My results from from last year were pretty good. I saw about a 20% increase in sales. However, I believe we have to look beyond sales and really promote reading. If you are already participating,  great job! Let's keep promoting Read an E-book Week. Readers, there are thousands of books for sale at discounted prices, and many are free. Browse through the catalogs. Find something you like. Above all else, keep on reading. Have a wonderful week!

For those of you interested, my book, Beyond Heights and Depths, is free this week with coupon code: RW100.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Brief Review of Tsu Social Network

As an independent writer, I find myself spending a lot of time on social media. It's a necessity as an independent writer. I also spend some time checking out new or different social networks. I often receive suggestions from fans or other readers, so I try to take at least a little time to check it out. I will admit: some are pretty good, but most are kind of awful.

A couple of weeks ago, someone suggested I check out Tsu. For those of you that don't know, Tsu is a newer social network. The main attraction to this site is that they pay users for their content. You can find out more about Tsu here: https://www.tsu.co/faq. I was invited to join by a friend, but if you need an invitation, feel free to use mine: https://www.tsu.co/CBrownHI. If you are already on there, please take a moment to follow me or add me as a friend.

Alright, enough about that stuff. I'm not in the business of convincing people to join. I'm just here to give my take on the experience. So far, I really enjoy using Tsu. There is a tiny learning curve, but overall, the site functions very much the way Facebook does. The only major difference is that Tsu functions like a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In fact, uploading pictures works the way Instagram does, and you can edit and add filters to your pictures - something Facebook does not have. Tsu allows the use of hashtags, as well.

One drawback, that really isn't much of a drawback to me, is that I am mostly friends with strangers at this point. As my network grows, more of my friends and family are joining, but so far, I am friends with more people I just met. This doesn't really bother me. My twitter account is over 90% strangers, so this is nothing new to me. I think this is a good thing, because I am constantly trying to increase my platform and reach new people. I'm sure all of you other independent writers can relate. Tsu works really well for this, and the potential for the site to go viral and draw a huge following is definitely there - something I can't say about many of the other new supposed social networks out there.

Are there some negatives? The short answer is: Yes. I don't think the security on Tsu is as strong as on Facebook, but Facebook has been around a lot longer. The Tsu network is getting bigger, better, and safer everyday. I have no doubts they will be up to par soon. The mobile app is also weak, but then again, so is Facebook's. And like I said before, you will likely be friends with strangers when you start out.

These are my thoughts on Tsu. Personally, I like it, and I am thoroughly enjoying my experience on there. I am not making big money by any measure, but I'm not there for the money. Independent writers are always looking for ways to reach and interact with more people, and I am able to do that on Tsu. I meet people from all walks of life and there is some really good content on there. I would also add that there are much fewer adds and junk than I find on Facebook.

If you are interested, come by and check it out. Hope I find you on there! Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Three Years: Catching Up with Cybil

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This week I am incredibly blessed to share the testimony of my friend Cybil with you. She presented this talk about a week ago while accepting her three year chip. To say she has been through a lot is not nearly enough. I truly admire her strength and willingness to share what she has been through with others. Her message is one of hope, love, and grace. She has overcome the stuff of nightmares, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share her story with others.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How Social Media Benefited Me as an Indie Author

I don't do many of these writing posts, mostly because I don't feel like I have a lot to add, but since my third book was released I've been asked how social media has benefited me numerous times. I know many of you are hoping for advice on selling more books. I know this because my twitter feed is still loaded with posts on book sales. Truth be told, I'm not sure how many books I have sold as a direct result of posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site, if any. If I had to venture a guess, I would say not many.

I don't know many people who buy books as a result of reading a post on Facebook or Twitter. I admit, I still try the hard sell on both - though mostly out of habit and the hope that it works. No, I'm not here to talk about marketing or how to sell more books. Honestly, that is not how social media has benefited me. Social media is an amazing tool to have in your repertoire, but not exactly for selling books.

Social media should be used to help you build your platform, sure, we all know this. The bigger the platform, the bigger the chance of success. However, through social media - specifically, Facebook and Twitter - the biggest benefit I have received is the help of other indie authors and the various blogs and sites each run. I have been blessed to receive help from some of the best indie folks I know, and their help has been invaluable to me.

There is no way I could have completed and released three books without help. I could not have sold nearly as many books as I have without some kind of help. Even help with simple tips and grammar mistakes have been a huge help. All of this came through social media. Thus, there is a benefit to maintaining all of you social media accounts, but the benefit is not necessarily immediate, nor is it always in the form of a substantial increase in sales.

Anyway, these are my two cents this week. Thank you everyone who has helped me along the way. I could not have accomplished any of this without you. All of you new indies reading this, spend less time on the hard sell and more time building relationships, which, incidentally, is what social media was designed for. Have a wonderful week, everyone!