Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Nightsong by Ari Berk

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . .
Realizing physical pain is a great, great teacher. 

Musical Moment ~ SILENCE, just good old-fashioned silence.

I went to the bookstore today and discovered a book called Nightsong written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long. When I saw the cover of the book with a single flying creature in the night sky with an curious look on its face and the way the used the title to add to the atmosphere of the story I knew nothing about, I picked up with book without looking for the description and when directly to the check out. What a beautiful story about a young bat first venture into the world by itself and its mother’s advise of using its sense. What a wonderful way to prepare yourself and your child for those times they must do things on their own. These words captured me the most:

Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you.”

Doesn't that sentence just make you curious? This is a book to have in ones collection. It's moody and thoughtful with a sense of suspense and a deep sense of love.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Diversity in Books

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . .
Wondering about health and personal responsibility

Musical Moment ~ “Invisible (RED)" U2

Diversity in Books come in many forms: I am a Jamaican American author. My debut novel THE HOPPERNOTS is a middle-grade fantasy novel for readers still young enough to be enchanted by woodland dwellers and for older readers who secretly believe in the magic and madness of the forest. The themes of the novel are about friendship, courage, community, nature, and the human-animal relationship. While I do not focus on the diversity of people, I do so through animals in a different manner of seeing people and animals in all of their glorious differences and how though working together we get to see each other’s positive attributes, the similarities between ourselves, and the power and grace of working together.

I have been a voracious reader since I was a child, but there have been few books where I have seen myself or my friends who have been black, African, Thai, Vietnamese, Puerto Rico, Cuban, Persian, Saudi Arabian, Indian, Caribbean Islanders, Korean, on and on and on. The only way I had the opportunity of learning about different cultures was through my insatiable curiosity and the generosity they and they're families have had with all of my questions. I have devoured thousands of books in my life, but NOW is the time the world is ready to be introduced to the stories of people who look nothing like you. Not as a way to sway you to be like them, but as a way to see the similarities of your lives and appreciate the differences as well.

Let us embrace the beauty of this earth and its people. The only way to gain peace on earth is to see and appreciate each other as the glorious human beings each of us are. 

For more information, please check out the official We Need Diverse Books website. Let's keep the movement moving forward.

The Complexities of Life...To Slow You Down and Think

My back is completely seized up today.No movement except for my hands today...until the meds kick it and I'm useless to the messages the Universe wants me to pay most attention to. My deepest intuitive thought is: Sometimes being the positive personal support system to others allows the door for you to ignore yourself and your own needs so your body (or your mind or your soul) reminds you that you need to come first as well. Many times in my life I've forgotten this and now my body is tired of this abject forgetfulness on my part. It is time to put me on my own to do list of priorities and to find the most natural of ways to heal myself - East must meet West must meet West Indian traditions.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Some of my favorite links to animal tales...

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . .
Staring at the leaves in my backyard, turning for lush greens to sultry reds, vibrant orange, and an "I don't care" yellow.

Musical Moment ~ “Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms) by Percy Sledge

It's time to share some of my favorite animal tale websites. M

My absolute favorite is by photographer Kai Fagerstrom who created the wonderful book The House in the Woods which is a small look at the world I created in my novel The Hoppernots. I discovered this book when YA writer Jo Knowles posted it and I realized this is what life around my fictionalized Lake Fibian would probably look like, but with frogs.

It's a squarely life...

A young environmentalist and animal activist in the making. Meet Alex Green and his interesting discoveries...

Life in nature is amazing. I hope you take a moment out of your day to get outside and to listen to what the life outside of yours is saying and doing.

Oh, and just in case you need pure mind candy, check this site out, but don't blame me if you loose hours giggling and saying "awwwwww". It's appropriately called Cute Overload.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Thought...

What I have come to realize in this life is that we choose how we react and respond to situations. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be sucked up into nonsense, especially nonsense that has nothing to do with us and we should simply walk away from it. Learning to "walk away" is a gift to give one’s self. Instead of getting aggravated, tied up into frustrated knots, or sink into a depressed resentment, we should *try* (and it will be challenging) to honor ourselves and let go of what is not only not our business, but also not healthy to our mind and soul.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams and Why We Need To Be More Compassionate Toward Mental Illness

I have known many, many people throughout my life who have suffered from mental illness, specifically bi-polar (manic depression) disorder. It is a disease that is pure torture to the person who suffers it and to the people who love them. I have watched people I love go from smart, successful, funny, loving people to people who cannot control their behavior, their thoughts or the things they say, and who have lived a life with unspeakable events that they have either wrought onto themselves or events that have happened because of the terrible decisions they have made and who have put themselves into situations that have spiraled out of control. I have been worried. I have been angry. I have been a friend who stood by them staunchly and a friend who sometimes needed to take breaks from them because their destruction was overwhelming and uncontrollable, even while taking their medication. The helplessness I have felt has been…a hell of its own as I watched their descents into the pits of their living hell. 

I am sick and tired of mental illness being treated like a dirty little secret.  I am sick and tired of people suffering and not seeking treatment. I am sick and tired of people finding a sense of solace in drugs or alcohol instead of admitting they need help to themselves and to their families, and then seeking therapy. It is a sad society when saying someone’s an addict or someone has 20 kids by 20 different men/women or someone’s embezzled millions of dollars from people is more respectful than saying, “I have a mental illness”, “I have a therapist” or “I need to take medication to [mentally] live”. Mental illness has been around for centuries and it is not going away. There is no shame in having this illness, but people have made it shameful to admit, “we are not perfect”. No one on this earth lives a life with “no issues” whatever they may be. We may try to pretend our way through life, but life is a process of discovering ourselves and some people’s path are more challenging when our mind - that part of ourselves most of us trust and take for granted - seemingly works against us. I worked in a mental health hospital for a year and a half. I saw patients who came for office visits and those who were locked down on the psych ward. Guess what? They looked just like you and me. There for the grace…it was not you! 

As for suicide, people are always saying it is a selfish act and link that “selfish act” to it being selfish to the living left behind, but I will tell you right now, the act of committing suicide is NEVER decided lightly. Suicide is an act of sheer and final desperation. It is an act of release from a pain-filled existence that none of us who would “never do such a thing” can even remotely comprehend. Yes, you do feel the abject pain of loss and you most likely will never truly understand the why’s of the person you love taking their life, but if you do not suffer the illness, you can never know the toll and the many tries of getting better or the many, many ways of finding other solutions to be freed from the maniacal grip of that beast or – and this is extremely important - the many, many, many, many more times that person you love was on the precipice of ending their life…but chose not to for that day, that time or that moment. 

We make judgments, but we don’t walk in their shoes. Let’s get educated and let’s create a society where our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, priests, politician, electrician, bellmen and the homeless person on the street can not only get the help they desperately need, but also the love and understanding that can help them chose to live another day, rather than end their physical existence causing the ripple effect of a different kind of pain to those left behind.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Going Indie – A Book in the Hand is Worth…Everything

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . .
Staring change and opportunity in the eyes.

Musical Moment ~ “Blue World” The Moody Blues

© Photo by Joe Dempsey
I haven’t been perfect with blogging the last few weeks, but that’s because the Indie publishing side of my life was pushed into overdrive. My book, The Hoppernots is coming out on August 5th and the last few weeks have been filled with work: hiring and working with the awesome book formatter Ali Cross of Novel Ninjitsu, uploading those formatted files to all the places you can find and purchase by book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, and Kobo and (the hardest and longest process) I signed up with IngramSpark (my paperback book provider) and created the cover jacket of my paperback book. What a steep learning curb I had. I had to use Adobe InDesign to create the book jacket for in the template IngramSpark provided. I’ve never seen InDesign, never used InDesign, but now I (somewhat) know what I’m doing. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. (And yes, it looks like any book you would pick up at a bookstore.)

Anyway, last night I came home from work and found the UPS guy had gently laid a package on my doorstep. Yes folks, the proof copy of The Hoppernots arrived and I am overwhelmed with happiness.

I did it.


I set my mind, my heart, and my intention toward becoming a publisher and I not only created Pug Paw Press, but I officially became an author. This dream has been bubbling in me for years and I took the bull by the horns and steered it in the direction of my own choosing. It’s been a fun, sometimes scary, sometimes challenging ride, but a ride well worth it.

That’s it for right now. I’m going to bask in this moment and then it’s back to business:

The business of marketing and publicizing my new book.

The business of working on book two – THE HOPPERNOTS: CAUGHT IN A WEB.

The business of writing my next Going Indie blog post­­ because the process is just as important as the desired result of being an author and you can never have too much information on Going Indie.

The business of enjoying this feeling of accomplishment because…


Good luck and Good Writing,