It’s Christmas time again, so let’s be politically incorrect for a change!

My Christmas tree is already up!

Let me start out by saying that I try not to be political in my blogs. In today’s society, espousing one’s political views can cause you world’s of hurt from the “trolls” whose only joy is to write terrible things about you from one end of the net to the other. That being said, I tend to be very politically incorrect when it comes to Christmas.

What started out as a reason to party and let loose centuries ago, with pagan sensibilities mind you, has become a time of family, celebration, and religious worship. It’s also caused many people to get a stick up their ass if you even say “Merry Christmas” to them.

What is wrong with Merry Christmas? All you’re doing is wishing someone a glad tidings at this festive time of year. It’s not like you’re flipping them the bird, yet some people want to stop us from saying Merry Christmas “in case” it offends someone. Anything I might say could offend anyone at any given time. That’s why we have freedom of speech in this country. Saying Merry Christmas to a perfect stranger is no different than wishing them a good morning/afternoon/evening; but if you’re one of those people who gets offended by it, you’re what’s wrong with society today, not me.

We need to put the fun back into the holidays and take out the stress. I love movies like “The Christmas Story” and “The Walton’s Homecoming Special” because they speak of a simpler time when we took the time for family, community, church and holiday spirit. It was about Christian, Jew, Agnostic or atheist. It was about the joy of Christmas.

I will admit, I do hate it how the holidays are slammed one into the other. The day after Halloween, every store is already decorated for Christmas. You don’t even get a chance to breathe. I saw a Christmas commercial for Best Buy on Halloween night. It was ridiculous.

I learned an interesting tidbit this year. President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually wanted Thanksgiving to fall the 3rd Thursday in November, instead of the 4th, to give retailers the extra week of holiday shopping. It’s strange how that isn’t necessary today because we’re shopping for Christmas from 1 November to 24 December with online shopping and aggressive retailers. Even “Black Friday” isn’t a thing anymore because some stores open on Thanksgiving night.

I understand this better than most because I live with a wonderful woman who eats, lives and breathes Christmas 24/7, 365 days a year. My lovely wife, Georgiene, listens to Christmas music, watches Christmas movies and keeps that joy of Christmas alive all year round. Though I sometimes find it annoying in the middle of Summer, it has given me a better appreciation for the holiday.

So, as we march into the last 25 days of Christmas, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza! And for the rest of you trolls out there, Bah Humbug!

To write, or not to write … That is the question!

97b6276dfde6d2999d4d01ac9bb1a735Being unemployed is not all it’s cracked up to be. I spend most of my time searching job sites, applying for at least five jobs a day, going through tons of emails filed with job search results and rejection letters, filing for unemployment, going to job fairs … It’s a bloody mess.

On top of all that is the urge to take this time and finish writing my next book. I want to do it but my conscience won’t allow me too. I have a responsibility to my wife and my family to lift myself out of this hole I dug and get us back on track.

That’s what happens when you don’t worry about where your next paycheck is coming from for more than 30 years. You get complacent and relaxed to the point where you don’t think you could ever lose your job. You’re invaluable and they can’t do it without you. That’s what I thought, because as the saying goes, it’s hard to fire a federal employee. Trust me when I say, it’s not!

So now the dilemma, to write or not to write. I know my wife doesn’t want to see me writing  anytime soon because it’s one of the reasons I’m in this mess in the first place. I was working on and editing my novels at work. Though, in my opinion, it never took me away from my job, that’s what got the ball rolling. Within a year of the investigation, I was fired … a first for me. I’m not proud of that fact but I have to put it behind me and move forward.

Writing is how I identify myself, it’s who I am. I am a writer and I love it. I love to see my words come together on a page, I love telling my stories, and I have so much more to tell. I can’t imagine not writing, but right now, it’s not paying the bills. I have to juggle between finding a job and continuing to write.

This is worse than writer’s block. I usually use this blog to talk about things I’ve learned and experienced as a Sailor, a self-published author, and a certified geek. This is not what I want to spend my time writing about but, in a way, it’s therapeutic.

The day after I was fired, I was called by my lawyer. She was contacted by people on the base (where I worked) because they saw something I write on Facebook and were concerned I was going to hurt myself. I can honestly say that it did cross my mind, but then I realized that it would only create more problems for my family and friends., I can’t do that to them.

I guess that’s why I do this, why I write. It’s very comforting to watch what you say come together in a flowing message. You bare your soul as a writer, giving life meaning in every word you write. It may not make sense to some people, others may discover the truth behind the meaning, but in the end, it’s how it makes you–the writer–feel.

Right now, I feel a little lost, but I have faith in my God, my family and my friends that it will be a better day. So for now, I will continue to write. It will help me become a better writer and it will help my heart, mind and soul get through this rough patch.

As Scarlett O’Hara proclaimed, “Tomorrow is another day!”

When life gives you lemons, trade them for some limes and make a cocktail!

ba426c39-1691-42d8-a323-c17077cd46e1I usually don’t get personal in my blog. I try to focus on the things I love—faith, family, writing and all this geek! This week, I have to be serious because I’ve got some really bad news. After 30+ years of service to my country, as a Sailor for 23 and a civil servant for the last seven, I was fired from my job. For the first time in 30 years, I find myself unemployed.

I won’t go into details, so as to save myself from further embarrassment and humility, but safe to say it was my fault. I just didn’t think that, after all my years of service, this one mistake would get me fired. Unfortunately, it did.

If find myself at a crossroads. I’m 52-years-old, slightly overweight with only an associate degree in education. My experience in writing/editing and public relations is way up there, but without that piece of paper, many companies won’t take a chance on you.

I keep trying to find the silver lining in all of this and all I can find is that I now have more time to write. I can focus on the third book in my trilogy and continue marketing my books in hopes of gaining some recognition. Just before I was fired, I received word that one of the studio reps I pitched too at Pitchfest 2015 in New York asked for copies of my books. This could be the break I need to take my writing to the next level.

Unfortunately, the other shoe fell off and I was fired. From good news to very, very bad news, it hasn’t been a good week. As you can imagine, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster this past week. I’ve gone from feeling completely lost, a total failure to a glimmer of hope and faith that God will get me through this.

I have always had faith in God, believe in him, but I was never a religious person. I tried so many times but I always found an excuse not to go to church or pray on a daily basis. I don’t mean to get religious here with you, but I just wanted you to know what’s been going on inside me.

Everyone keeps telling me that, “when one door closes, another one opens” and I want to believe that. It’s just hard when you’re trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, car payment, etc. I want to believe that things will get better but it’s hard when your actions have hurt so many in the process. My wife and my kids are also facing the brunt of me being fired and that puts a lot of guilt on me.

I guess I needed this opportunity to vent a little, and I appreciate you being there for me by reading this blog. I hope I can find the courage and fortitude to get back to writing, because it is what I love to do best. Right now, though, it’s hard to focus on writing a novel when I need to be writing my resume.

Any advice or kind words would be appreciated in the comments below. It’s going to be a long jaunt to reach the end, but to quote Clarence the Angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life” — A man with friends is not a failure!

A Vulcan, Klingon and Borg walk into a bar …

The cast of Star Trek: Enterprise TV series.

The cast of Star Trek: Enterprise TV series.

CBS announced this week that a new Star Trek TV series will be to television in 2017, just in time for Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Now, I have lived my life vicariously through the evolution of Star Trek, as both a franchise and a way of life, so this means a lot to me.

Gene Roddenberry will always be a personal hero of mine. Here is a man who dedicated his life to one idea about space, mankind and exploration of the unknown. He crossed racial and cultural boundaries when the world was fighting against it. He was one of those, you can definitely say, that was ahead of his time.

I remember watching Star Trek in syndication as a young boy in the 70s. I was equally excited when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out. The movie was long and relied too much on special effects, but it was stunning to see.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came out when I was in college. I spent and entire Saturday, sitting through one screening after another. Back in those days, you could stay in the theater and watch the movies over and over again. I saw Wrath of Khan five times that day. It was awesome.

I could go on about my love affair with Star Trek, from the new string of TV shows to the movies with the original cast and TNG stars (Star Trek:The Next Generation for you non-Trekkies). The real story I want to share with you is about my connection with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series.

In 2001, I was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). I was the Assistant Public Affairs Officer, responsible for keeping the crew informed about news and events while deployed, and informing the public about the ship and its great crew. Right before our deployment, I heard about the new series Star Trek: Enterprise. I wanted to try to make a connection between the series and the carrier, so I started corresponding with the publicist for Paramount Studios.

We were discussing a variety of options and agreed to get together once we returned from deployment in October 2001. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite that way. The ship had just left the Persian Gulf when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001.

We immediately turned around and took position on station, awaiting orders for the first stacks against Al Queda and their allies in the Taliban. It was then I received an email from the publicist at Paramount asking if there was anything she could do for us.

They sent us episodes of the first season of Enterprise and, in return, I sent them USS Enterprise command ball caps. The day we returned from deployment, Enterprise was airing that night, and the show opened with the star, Scott Bakula, wearing our ship’s ball cap, welcoming us home. That was unreal, a real PR coup for me, but it was about to get better.

USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Feb. 28, 2002 -- Sailors of the Year for the year 2001 meet castmembers of the latest Star Trek television series entitled Enterprise. Pictured here on the set of the series are (from left) Conner Trinneer, who plays Chief Engineer Charles Trip Tucker, III; Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Robert S. Pickering, Sailor of the Year; Personnelman 3rd Class Sarah E. Pizzo, Blue Jacket of the Year; Aviation Electricians Mate 2nd Class Timothy J. Whittington, Junior Sailor of the Year; and Scott Bakula, who plays Capt. Jonathan Archer. The three Sailors were given the opportunity to appear in a scene during an episode which aired recently.

USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Feb. 28, 2002 — Sailors of the Year for the year 2001 meet castmembers of the latest Star Trek television series entitled Enterprise. Pictured here on the set of the series are (from left) Conner Trinneer, who plays Chief Engineer Charles Trip Tucker, III; Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Robert S. Pickering, Sailor of the Year; Personnelman 3rd Class Sarah E. Pizzo, Blue Jacket of the Year; Aviation Electricians Mate 2nd Class Timothy J. Whittington, Junior Sailor of the Year; and Scott Bakula, who plays Capt. Jonathan Archer. The three Sailors were given the opportunity to appear in a scene during an episode which aired recently.

Paramount offered three of our sailors walk on roles on an upcoming episode of Enterprise. This was a great opportunity for us to highlight our brightest and best, so we took our Sailors of the Year to California for a true Hollywood treatment.

We met the stars of the show, walked around the sets, got to sit in the Captain’s chair on the bridge set and photos with the cast. Levar Burton (Jeordi LaForge from TNG) was the director for the episode, so meeting him was a dream come true for me. In addition, I gave him my USS Enterprise ball cap in exchange for an Enterprise Stuntman’s ball cap.

We did this for two years in a row and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I also have to say Scott Bakula was so good to our sailors. He went out of his way to make sure they were in the shots, talked to us about everything, even signed autographs and photos. The one regret I have is I was never able to get him out on the carrier for a visit. Our schedules just never synced up.

It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The artwork and signed photos from the cast and crew are with me today as a reminder of that visit. The only way to end this blog is by saying, “Live Long and Prosper!”

As a writer, I often dream about being a writer … don’t you?

6a00e0099410db8833013488f97c04970c-800wiNeil Gaiman said, “As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” That is what I aspire too.

Writing as a passion or writing as a business … That question has hounded me since I began my life as a self-published author. It may seem to some as an easy one to answer, but it’s definitely not. For many authors, we love to write because we have a story to tell. Your mind is filled with images, as if you can hear the whirring sound of a movie projector in your head as they fly by. You can’t write fast enough to keep up with it.

Many of us dream about being the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. We all think that once our story grabs onto an audience once, we’ll have it made. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette suggests, “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

I’ve invested time and money into my two books, Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides, and no matter what the cost, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Writing every word has brought me the full range of emotions, from sadness and grief at the death of a character to sheer joy when an idea came together.

This is the point where writing as a passion or a business diverges. It is so easy to self-publish today, anyone can put out a book for very little money. The time it takes away from work and family for writing, editing, engaging on social media makes it hard work.

The dedication it takes is well-known by any author. If you believe In your story, in yourself, then you’re willing to put the time and effort into it. “Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers,” said Charles Bukowski.

I want nothing more than to spend my days getting up in the morning, pouring a nice cup of coffee and sitting down at my desk to spend my day writing the next chapter of my next novel. It is what we all strive for. Not the glamour, but the freedom to be a writer.

Roald Dahl said, “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.”

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.