Sunday, June 26, 2011

"No More Meaningful Reward"

"Are you kidding me?" has to be my most entertaining response from a reader yet.  Readers of Search For Yesterday, already topping a thousand in less than three months since it's release have been emailing, writing, facebooking and calling with increasing regularity to tell me of their experience.  Comments range from the above mentioned disbelief that I was actually the real author, to reaching questions regarding motive, inspiration, and biographical content or objective, all the way to varying fascinations with individual characters.  Many have been quick to express their delight with Kid, his lovably sympathetic character and fun narrative describing his adventurous exploits.  Often readers want to talk about the romantic element, inquiring as to how much is my real life, or merely fictional filler, while still others are desirous just to hear from me how the writing and publishing experience has been.  All, however, to a person that have contacted me one way or another, have wanted me to know that the story reached them, and that on one emotional level or another, they were compelled to become involved much deeper than they had been prepared to be.
   In speaking with students, and other eager readers attending book signing events, I have been fascinated with their sincere desire to hear about the creative place inside me that somehow produced such a "wonderfully relate-able piece of writing".  (There have been many complimentary terms used to describe it, but that covers most if not all.)  All I can say to them is that I am only just now discovering the reaches of that place myself, and to analyze all of what makes it what it is, ...well, I'm still trying to figure it out.  I do, however, believe that similar to artistic performance in any form, when done with a sincere desire to make a meaningful impact, the one performing or creating has a much greater chance at success than if he or she is doing it in search of applause or recognition.
     I was recently asked by a journalist, "Does this book belong to you? ...or does it belong to the reader?"  The question surely has been asked before, but never until that moment to me, and I found myself surprisingly taken back in contemplation.  After a brief time I responded that the story belonged to me, but the published book belonged to the reader. I don't know if that is the correct answer, or if there even is one, but let me explain because I believe it goes to what I said just before.  In the beginning and throughout the creative process, everything I wrote, which by the way was originally nearly a third more than what actually ended up being part of the published work, was all simply to see if I could really write an actual book.  It wasn't until the editing began that I even thought of what a reader might think or need to get from their reading experience to make it worthwhile.
     Actors tend to over act when their goal is solely to make a name for themselves.  Painters, Poets, and lyricists often create in bazaar extremes in their attempt to evoke response, while some musicians become so dramatic in their expression that the beautiful tones of their instruments are drown out by the noise made by their gyrating demonstrations. 
     True artists, regardless of their particular craft, are concerned primarily with what I mentioned earlier in this post, " have a meaningful impact on their audience."  I thought as I toiled over the idea of releasing my work for people to see, "If I'm going to do this, I want it to inspire, entertain, and heal, ...and last in their minds.  I want people to feel enough to care."
     From the feedback I have received, I couldn't be more pleased than to hear that this sincere desire of a "I wonder if I could ever be an author", has at least on some level been granted.  I'm thrilled so many of you have, and are enjoying my book, and can't wait to share the second with you.  If  you are one who hasn't reached out to me in one way or another, I hope you will at some time, because there is no more meaningful reward.  God bless you all, have a wonderful week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"In less than A Blink"

It's Father's Day, and as such I want to send out proper respect and best wishes to all of you fathers who, like my Dad, have given so much to bless the lives of your sons and daughters, ...and often those of children who don't have a figure like you built into their lives.  Thank you and my very best as you continue in your necessary role.

Now to something even more pressing on my mind and heart.  Today I celebrate twenty five years of marriage with my beautiful bride.  For those who are not acquainted with Marianne and I personally, here's a little peek.
     On Tuesday August 3 of 1984 I arrived as arranged at Rick and Linda Hartley's front door step to meet my blind date.  Expectations were high that evening as I approached the screen door, having already met two of the Chavez sisters and found them to be extremely talented and drop dead gorgeous on all accounts.  The sound of cooing and mindless baby talk reached me and reaching for the doorbell, I peered into the living room beyond the screen door to find a figure of a girl with her back to me, bending down over a baby that lay on the floor.  The bell chimed, and my eyes widened as a stunning face appeared looking back at me between her legs. 

I would have said my vows right then had someone let me, and as it was, I immediately began dreaming of the day when I could.  Marianne and I had a wonderful evening that night in the company of Skip and Faun Jackson who kindly agreed to come along, and feeling the intense need to make a lasting impression, I cancelled dates for the rest of the week to spend every second I could with her.

Marianne returned to Puerto Rico with her family and for the next week, we wrote and called back and forth until the day she returned to attend school there the following year.  In the fall of 1985 I proposed, and on June 19, 1986 our marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake City, LDS Temple, a day that still lives in my memory as the best day of my young life.

Pencil Portrait that I drew for Marianne while we
were apart that first yearthat first year.  It has
hung in our room all of our married life.

Together over the past twenty five years, we've worked to provide for and rear eight children, four girls and four boys, each of which have blessed our lives tremendously in their own unique way.  People say lasting marriages are a thing of the past, and while the statement may be partly true, it needs completing. What Marianne and I have is not only a thing of the past, but also very much a thing of the present with tremendous promise for the future!

As I reflect, our time together all comes back in less than a blink, and even though life is far from perfect, ...with my Marianne, at least I'm complete.

Happiness is not a destination, it's an unpredictable journey filled with highs and lows, joy and sometimes despair, but finds completion in forgiveness, love, and hope.

I love you Sweet Heart, ...I'd do it over a million times and not change a thing

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Teenie, Tiny, Toe"

Second only to God and Jesus Christ,
my greatest devotion in this life is to my family.  As a husband I have been blessed to love and be loved by a spectacular woman who has given me seven wonderful children. 
   Twenty three years ago as I worked my way into mid morning, Marianne announced that she thought a brisk walk down to the hospital might be just the thing she needed to settle the squirming, kicking little one inside her beautifully round, very pregnant belly.     "Sure," I said, continuing on with my work load in the Framing Gallery owned by her father in the heart of San Juan Puerto Rico.  What could it hurt, ...less than three blocks?  Perfect idea! 

     Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang and three frantic women employees pushed me out the door, babbling wildly in just enough English to make me understand that Marianne was about to pop.  The three block sprint took less time than the elevator ride up to the maternity ward, and when I found my sweetheart she was huffing through a serious contraction.

     "Don't push!" the doctor ordered mid contraction, and obediently Marianne did the seemingly impossible while skilled hands prepared her for delivery.  Then, on the very next contraction, came our beautiful Kristine.  Actually, at first sight, my reoccurring fear of the previous months seemed to be confirmed as she appeared to have no chin.
     "How would I feel?" I had wondered numerous times, "...if my baby girl were to be born deformed in some way?  Would I love her still as I did our first?"       My answer came the instant I looked into her little face, feeling the overwhelming joy she brought into this world with her.  "This just means I'll never have to give you up," I whispered softly, holding her close in her tightly wrapped swaddling blanket.  Truthfully, I couldn't have been happier about the prospect.  A day later, however, my dream was spoiled when from nowhere her little chin appeared, shapely and wonderful, completing perhaps the most beautiful newborn face ever to grace this existence.   She was so pretty, and the love affair I've had with my sweet Teenie has never dimmed.                                       

     In her short life so far, Kristine has become infectious, winning the hearts of any who come near her, accomplishing much while blessing the world with her talents, whit and charm.  She began exploring song around four and has developed a singing voice that without exception is my favorite sound of anything on earth.  For the past sixteen months I've had to wait for her semi annual phone calls on Christmas and Mother's Day, just to hear her sing for a brief moment over the phone as she's been away serving an LDS mission in Dallas Texas, ...each period of waiting has been a drought nearly long enough to kill me.  I love that she loves and wants to serve her Savior this way, but I'm not going to lie, ...I'll be so happy to have her back!

     To my beautiful and talented Teenie, Happy Birthday and God be with you until we meet again.  You are loved beyond words, and Heaven knows, for me, that means something... 
I miss you

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not So Fictional Fiction "Exposed?"

"How does it feel to be exposed to the world?"
    The unexpected but completely legitimate question was posed to me by a Signature Books executive after he learned of my recent book release.
     "I guess you would know about that," was my reply.
     "Was it a hard decision, or did you even realize it was happening?" he countered.
     "At first, I didn't get it, but eventually the reality of what was happening became clear enough that I had to decide whether to consciously hold back or not.
     "So, ...what did you do?
     "I cut loose, ...figured if I was pure in what I included, then people would feel and relate to me and my message on a deeper, and more personal level."
     "Oh it was worth it for sure."

In visiting with readers and media, one of the most popular story lines in Search For Yesterday continues to be the romantic back and fourths between Kid, Gena and Nell.
     "You have stated that Kid's character is based on you as a young teen," a journalist asked, "...can we assume that you once had two girls fighting over you at the same time?"
     "You now it might sound funny," said a single father of two boys, but one of my favorite things about your book was the deal between the two girls and Kid, ...I loved that!"
     "...and all that stuff with the girls?" gasped the overly dramatic woman behind the County office counter, "...oh my gosh!  How could you know to get the girls so right? ...I mean you're a guy!"

"Have I exposed myself?"
     To answer the questions "I "Was I that guy?" ...I'll say definitively, ...not at sixteen or even seventeen.  Many details included in the story are without a doubt biographical, but anyone knowing me during those years would attest that I was at least a hemisphere away from being in the situations in question.
    "You felt it didn't you," I replied, answering the woman fanning her face as she recounted her reading enjoyment of Kid saying goodbye to the two girls before leaving for Abilene.
    "Are you kidding me?" she laughed, " had me wishing it was me!"
I was happy to hear that this particular feature of my story, though more fictional than a lot of the others, still had managed to convey the powerful and raw emotions experienced by people everywhere tasting love, especially conflicted love for the first time.  As to her question, "How could you know get the girls so right?"  well, I told her and her friend, I had some help.  Ashley Lucket, a "Woman" who did my editing helped with some of the phrasing, but I owe most of the credit for properly representing a young girl's romantic view point, to my daughter Kristine.  It is no secret in my household, that I do not get girls.  I struggle with areas of sensitivity, don't get the emotional ups and downs, and over all craziness that can kick a man in the groin at almost any moment.  So, when contemplating the inclusion and development of Kid's little love triangle with Gina and Nell, I went to my romantic, sensitive, emotional and sometimes slightly crazy daughter, for her expert opinion.  Boy, ...or should I say Girl, did she deliver! Thank you so much Kristine!
     Like most of my writing's content, the romantic play in Search For Yesterday is in part based on very personal experience, other parts getting their umph from from things I've seen, while still others are simply products of my imagination. Which parts are which shall mostly remain my secret, but regardless I'm very happy you are enjoying wondering about it as you read.
     To any who have not yet read Book One, and might be wondering after this if the content is appropriate for you or your children, I don't hesitate to say that it absolutely is.  That aspect of my writing is perhaps what brings me the most satisfaction.  Even though the story is an adventure strewn with situational drama ranging from both ends of the spectrum, it remains inoffensive to the innocent while still rewarding the reader with powerful emotional stimulation.