Friday, April 18, 2014

Sample from the book being written, unedited.

For days before the trip, we learned about the Battle of Gettysburg. It occurred in early July, 1863, on a small patch of land in Pennsylvania. It was the bloodiest and deadliest battle in the entire Civil War. There will never be an exact account but estimates are that close to fifty thousand troops from the Union and Confederate armies were killed or injured in three days. Mr. Weadon told the class that many historians like him, believe it was a turning point in the Civil War. Before Gettysburg, some thought that General Robert E. Lee and the south would win the war. Mr. Weadon asked the class to think about how our nation would be different today had Lee and the Confederate army won at Gettysburg.

            I took a different approach. After school, I took my book to the park. I sat alone reading about how Mr. Lincoln worried he would lose the next Presidential election. He feared the nation was tired of war. Citizens wanted the war to end even if it meant allowing slavery to continue in the south. President Lincoln understood allowing slavery to continue was morally corrupt and wrong for the nation.

            The words he wrote on the yellow stained pages were as follows, “American will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

            I sat under my favorite tree thinking about those words. I think he meant that other countries could not destroy democracy within the United States. Only the citizens of this country could destroy it. It was like my friendship with Bruce and Wendy. Greg and his band of bullies could never the hurt the friendship the three of us had developed. Only if the three of us argued with each other, could our friendship be destroyed.

            A tall thin man walked towards me. He had a small beard on part of his chin. Mr. Weadon described Mr. Lincoln in class. I knew the man now in my shadow was the former President. His eyes dripped with tears. His white shirt wrinkled. His shoes covered in mud. He paced back and forth in front of me.

            “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,” the President said.

            He paced more. I wasn’t even sure he knew I was sitting under the tree. He paid me no attention. He bent down and removed a long thin blade of grass from the ground. He inspected the grass. I sat not wanting to make a sound. He sighed.

            “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he said as he tore the blade of grass in two.

            I closed my book. Lincoln looked at me from his bent perch.

            “What are you reading?”

            “I was reading your notes about the Civil War.”

            Lincoln offered a smile. “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.”

            “Mom tells me all the time how important it is to read. Some of the other Presidents told me that too. I guess you don’t have much time for reading now though.”

            “It is important that you read, Alex. You learn from books. I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. Devouring good books will help you in your search for knowledge.”

            “I don’t know if you know or not, but I have met other Presidents, Mr. Lincoln. I have learned about some who owned slaves but thought it was not right that the United States allowed slavery. You look so tired. The words you wrote in my book tell me you would have done anything to end slavery and keep our nation as one. Why?”

            The President stood up. He offered his hand. I took it and stood next to him. We both started to walk. Our pace was slow. He noticed some kids who looked to be high school age playing basketball. Some were white, some dark skinned. Others were sitting courtside waiting to play in the next game. Lincoln watched the game for a moment and walked away from the park. I walked by his side.

            “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to be free – honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope on earth.”

            Now he sounded like Thomas Jefferson. Lincoln was speaking in riddles.

            “I want to understand, President Lincoln. What is the best hope on earth?”

            “You, Alex. Me, our neighbors, our friends. The democracy we hold dear must endure and we must fight with all our beings to assure it remains. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. Slavery must end and democracy must endure.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recent Interview

The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom Interview Questions:

Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I have been a resident of South Florida for over thirty years after growing up in New Jersey and attending college in Philadelphia. My first novel was about a musician and written on a bet that I couldn’t write a best-selling novel. After writing my first story, I now realize it’s more difficult to sell a book than it is to write one. That’s not to say I don’t try to improve my skills with each novel, I do. But the marketing is a job all on its own. I made a decision to use my real name from the start after considering a few pen names. But I knew from marketing myself as a commercial real estate agent, branding is important. I didn’t want to have to brand multiple names. 

Tell us a little about your latest release.

My past three novels are about a character named Caeles Novo. He believes his destiny was to remove the souls from people who no longer could appreciate all that was given to them. He was part of a group of soul stealers who had grown tired of stealing souls and wanted to be like many people with ambitions of being community and world leaders. Caeles tried to convince them to return to their original mission. Along the way, he met a series of people who have lost their way and Caeles had to decide if they deserved a second chance and redemption or lose their soul forever. He also met a few characters destined to help him, who themselves had major flaws, like a woman with multiple personalities and a doctor who wanted to cure cancer and in the process destroy Caeles.

Are you a mom (or parent)?

I am a husband and father of three beautiful children. I have an older daughter and a boy and girl set of twins in college.

If yes do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting?

It’s not as hard for me because my kids are older. Had I tried to write ten years ago, I would think my response would be different. I believe I was an active parent in coaching teams and attending games and doing other things busy parents do. Between working, being a parent, coaching teams, volunteering on committees, it would have been near impossible to have written ten years ago. Now I have more time.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

My first two novels, A Beautiful Song and Three Long Days have many stories based on things that have happened to me and characters I know in my life. In particular the second one, almost all the names expect for the main character are based on people from my past or current friends. The three soul books, many of the people who lose their souls are based on stories that were current events in the paper the day I wrote them. For example an athlete based in the Boston area charged with murder should be familiar to many Patriots fans, but I changed it to be the Bruins and changed some of the circumstances to make him a fictional character. But I use my life experiences or the news for much of my writing.

 Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

All of my books are based on how far would you push your ethics to accomplish your goals. They also allow the reader to make their own choice as to what is right and what is wrong for them. I don’t attempt to push my values on anyone. But I might try to get the reader to think about their own choices and values.

 When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I tend to stay busy. I was a Junior Achievement volunteer for many years. I served on school committees, was the president of the local chamber of commerce as well as president of the local commercial real estate board. I have been coaching teams since I was in high school. In the past two years, I have started to unwind and devote more time to writing. I still coach one team, but even that is on a year to year basis. My hobby is photography. I photograph nature, spring training baseball, and volleyball among other subjects.

 Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

My readers would likely pick Dylan James the guitar player from “A Beautiful Song” who does make an appearance in all my books. It would be difficult for me not to pick Dylan but I might pick Rose from “Soul Directive” and “Fortunate Soul”. The reason why is because she has three distinct personalities. I think we all have a little Rose in us. 

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

I have started a new book that might turn into a series. It is the story about a young boy who speaks with dead presidents. They teach him history from their own successes and failures based on actual history. It will be written for a younger audience who might not like history. I am attempting to make it fun and not a pure history book. Wish me luck.