Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lost in Paradise

For the longest time, I used to ask God why I was alone.  I was never one to go out dating random girls, so it would've been easy to single out that fact as the reason.  But the truth was that I didn't have interest in dating anyone I didn't know.  I never believed my future wife would come from a random date - it would be someone I was friends with first.  That's not a knock in any way at people who do the random dating thing - I know people who met that way and have had long healthy relationships.  It works for some people, but not me.

Eventually, Laura came along.  We became friends online through a Christian message board.  Oddly enough, she replied to a post I had made about battling depression, and we talked back and forth for a few months before meeting in person.  To make a long story short, we've been together for almost ten years and have carved out a nice little life for ourselves.  God answered my prayers for companionship.

Another big thing on my to-do list was to get out on my own.  Where I grew up, independent living doesn't come at a reasonable price.  I lived in my parents house for far too long, and I needed to gain my independence.  A series of events in late 2009 led to Laura and I moving halfway across the country into our own apartment.  We've been on our own since then.  God answered my prayers for independence.

After serving the monster that is retail for far too many years, another goal of mine was to find a job where I could be happy.  Of course, I didn't put too much weight into this goal because, quite frankly, most people dislike their jobs.  But when I least expected it, I found myself in the job I have now.  I'm not going to go into detail, but I'm in a position that I actually like with a company that I respect doing something I actually believe in.  After so many years of horrible bosses, heartless customers, and meager pay, my current boss is awesome, I don't interact with customers, and I'm able to pay my bills while still setting some aside for savings. 

Will it last forever?  Few things do.  I'm aware that there's a near-certainty that my current job situation will not last, and I realize that there's a chance I may have to return to the nightmare that is retail employment someday.  But for now, I'm enjoying what I've been blessed with.  I'm doing something where I have the opportunity every day to help people get the best out of themselves, and it can be very rewarding.  God answered my prayers for a job that makes me happy.

My last big goal was to be a published author.  After years of rejections from publishing houses and agents, I finally decided to go the self-publishing route in 2010.  I fully expected to be met with harsh criticism - after all, if the experts of the industry didn't find any merit in my work, how would readers ever accept me?  But my books have all been met with overall positive reviews, showing me that sometimes the best way to reach your goal is to go out and do it on your own.  God answered my prayers for writing success.

In a way, you could say that I've reached all the goals I set out for myself in life.

So why do I feel so lost?

As you probably know by now, it's been almost two years since I've written anything of significance.  It's depressing.  It's aggravating.  It's suffocating.  Every time I sit down to write, my brain shuts down.  I stare at the screen telling myself, "Let's go adventuring!"  My brain responds by saying, "Nope, Nothing here today.  Please try again tomorrow."  I have ideas, but no words.  Images, but no expression.  And it wasn't until recently that I discovered that this dry spell of creativity extends to more aspects of my life than just writing.

I used to do video editing on my iMac that I'd upload to YouTube.  Somtimes they were goofy little shorts and sometimes they were vacation montages.  I loved it, and from what I've been told, others enjoyed my work too.  But last week, I tried to sit down and make a video for my first time in a long time, and nothing came together for me.  I couldn't get audio and visuals to line up.  The program wouldn't allow pictures to display properly and I just didn't have the energy or drive to keep pushing and researching until it was resolved.  I threw my hands up and walked away.

I also used to enjoy recording music.  I've never recording anything substantial because I'm not at all gifted musically, but I enjoyed dabbling with it and seeing what I could come up with.  Lately, I haven't had the ambition to do any of those things.

For whatever reason, my creative juices are shot.  And it's not that I don't WANT to do these things.  I have a ton of story ideas, a few videos I'd love to put together, and I still enjoy playing guitar.  But when I sit down to try to create anything, it all falls flat almost immediately. 

The only conclusion I can come to is that I'm supposed to be focusing my attention on something else right now.  If there's one thing God has taught me over the years, it's that he has a way of taking away or postponing the things I want until I do whatever it is that HE wants me to do.  I'm fine with that - I'm here to serve, after all.  There's only one problem.

I really don't know what he wants from me this time.

There have been times in my life when I've gotten so wrapped up in my own plans that I've unknowingly turned from the path God was leading me down and went my own way.  When I finally realized it and got back on track, God was waiting there to continue the journey with me.  I fear this may be one of those situations, but it's hard to determine when and where I may have gone astray.

I've considered the possibility that taking a break from writing was the wrong decision, but if that's the case, then getting back to writing would be the solution.  That's not working out at all for me.  I also thought that maybe God wanted me to take my writing in a different direction rather than continue with sci-fi/fantasy stuff.  In my last post, you can see my attempt to do that, but it ultimately hasn't gone anywhere either.

I've also begun to think that maybe the direction I'm supposed to go doesn't necessarily have to be a creative one.  Without revealing too much about my job, I'm in a position where I can help people bring out the best in themselves.  It's my job to encourage, develop, and guide others.  Is that my service to God now?  Is my task for God to help people through my position at work?  It seems a little too easy to me - this is what I get paid to do every day.  It doesn't feel like "above and beyond" or anything like that.  But maybe that's OK with God?  I don't know.

And because I know I have critics of religion who read this page, I'm sure some of you are asking "If you claim God talks to you, why doesn't he just tell you want he wants you to do?"  Sometimes God will do that.  But more often, we learn and grow better when we figure out things for ourselves.  If your calculus teacher gave you an exam and then stood there telling you all the answers every time, you wouldn't learn nearly as much as you would have if you'd taken the time to study and apply the material yourself.

Laura says it's possible God doesn't want anything right now and that this is just a waiting period.  God's timing is not our own, after all, but when things come up, I need to be ready to act.  I know this does happen, but is that what's going on here?  I'm not so sure.  I feel like I should be doing something.  And in the meantime, I feel like I'm a useless lump.

I received another positive review of The Fourth Dimension recently, and the reviewer mentioned that they hoped there would be more in the series.  I hope so, too.  I'm sure I'll be back at the grindstone eventually.  But right now, I'm just... lost.

God bless,

Kevin

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pieces of Ideas

I hope you are all doing well.  I received a couple of touching letters from readers of Building Blocks that really made my day.  I really appreciate your kind words, but I was only doing what God asked of me.

I still haven't been able to really motivate myself to dive headlong back into my writing.  Every time I sit down to try, my brain shuts down and says "Nope, not yet."  The desire is still there.  The ideas are still there - and more pop up every day.  It's the drive that's missing.  For years, I used to work a full day's shift only to come home and write for another four-five hours.  I just don't have the energy for that right now.  That's not to say I'll never do it again, but right now, I just can't get into that focused zone where the rest of the world does not exist and it's just me and my thoughts.

Still, I've been able to get a few pieces of ideas out.  Not too long ago, I wrote an intro to a story that I think could be fun if done right, but I haven't touched it too much since.  I haven't decided whether it would be a short story or a full-blown book, but I thought I'd share the intro with you all.

--------

Untitled Work in Progress
by: Kevin Domenic

Antonio Cohen died Monday, June 10th 2013 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  He was seventeen years old.

Before sundown, the finger-pointing began.  "It was that horrible music he listened to," they said.  "No, it was those violent video games."  Still others blamed TV and movies.  Mental illness.  Drug addiction.  The evening news described him as a paranoid youth with possible masochistic tendencies.  Within a week, he was reviled nationwide by millions who knew neither him nor his circumstances.

My name is Samantha Cedar.  I grew up with Antonio.  We weren't close; we weren't even friends.  But from kindergarten through fifth grade, we shared four out of six teachers.  We were in the same classes, shared the same lunch periods, and played on the same playground.  He was a pretty normal little boy back then.  At least, as far as I knew.  He'd play games with his circle of friends and sometimes get a little rambunctious in class.  There was one incident where he threw a paper airplane through the open window of Mrs. Batters' second-floor classroom.  I still remember the look on his face when she summoned him to her desk at the end of the day.  It was like he'd been caught with his hand in the candy jar.

It's funny; that kind of thing once seemed like such a serious offense.  Boys threw paper airplanes and shot spit-wads.  Girls passed notes and gossiped.  At the end of the day, we were just kids being kids.  But somewhere along the way, spit-wads became fists, and gossip became slander.  As the years went by, we became so caught up in our own egos that we were almost like caricatures of everything we thought we were or wanted to be.  Jocks saw themselves as heroes.  Cheerleaders saw themselves as princesses.  Theater students were hopeless romantics, and the band kids provided the soundtrack.  Each and every student was-whether they liked it or not-divided by their personalities and classified by their interests.  And for the most part, everyone embraced their roles.

And just about everyone saw everyone else as the villain.

Me? I was one of the popular girls.  In high school, I was most often lumped in with the cheerleaders because most of them were my friends.  I didn't cheer myself-I'm too self-conscious for that sort of thing.  But I went to all of the football games with the other non-cheer girls from our circle.  Sometimes we'd bring signs or paint our faces to support the team.  There were so many nights when I came home with a sore throat from screaming so much.


But that was high school.  But that time, we were already divided into our cliques.  Back in kindergarten, however, we were all equals.  Nobody had any pre-conceived notions about anyone else.  There were no expectations or assumptions about our characters or intentions.  We were kids; nothing more, nothing less.  And life was good.

--------

Maybe it'll turn into a book or something one day.  It felt really good to write - like being back on my old bicycle after years of leaving it in our shed.  But I'm still struggling with my focus and concentration.  I just don't have the drive to push through it right now.  I'm confident I will get back to it eventually, but right now I'm just not ready.

God bless,
Kevin

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Atheist Dilemma

For the last four years, I've made it a goal of mine to try to understand atheists.  I stress that word - understand ­- because no amount of logical thinking leads me to a resolution wherein I might agree with them.  I mean, I know God exists from my own personal interaction with him, so that won't change.  But I had hoped to at least be able to understand their point of view - to be able to follow their line of reasoning to a point where I could say "You know what? I get it.  I see why you believe there is no God."

I mean, I can understand why some might ask "How do you know your God is the right one?" or "How can you claim to know God's intentions?" or the ever common question of "If God is so good, why does he allow bad things to happen to innocent people?"  I understand these questions.  I have answers of my own, but again, they come from my personal interaction with God - something that the non-believer wouldn't have had without first taking a step of faith.  So I can see why someone who does not have a relationship with God might ask these things.

What I can't fathom is why people claim the absence of God to be an absolute fact.  Not one specific God, mind you, but any God.  The statement "There is no God" to me is akin to being handed a sealed box and told "There's no cookie in this box."  If you haven't opened the box to find out, how can you know for sure?  We've explored such a small fragment of a fragment of a fragment of the entire universe.  How can humans presume to know so much from that small fragment that we can actually say "There is no God."?  We haven't explored the entire universe - the entire cookie box, so to speak - so how can we say for sure?

I've talked with a lot of atheists over the past four years.  I've tried to engage them in debate.  I've tried to get them to explain to me what it is that makes them so certain that God does not exist.  Most of them sidestepped my questions.  I'd get responses like, "I'm not here to teach you.  Go look it up yourself," or the ever common "I can't help you if you're too stupid to see common sense."  It's hard to get any real answers from them.  And if they did afford me the opportunity to ask deeper questions, most stopped replying at that point.

Part of the problem, I've noticed, is that atheists state you cannot use religious texts to support your claims, nor can you use the idea that "God did it" to explain things that science claims to be impossible.  So trying to get them to acknowledge the possibilities of a divine being would mean trying to do so through human means - scientific means.  Of course, we have no scientific evidence that directly links our universe to a God, so atheists conclude there is no God.  The most confusing circle of logic for me is when you ask them how science proved there is no God.  They state it is not up to science to prove it - it is up the religious community.  Then why do they cite science when trying to support their claims that there is no God?  "You can't prove a negative," they say, meaning you can't prove it if you say something doesn't exist.  But you can - I can open the box and see whether or not there is a cookie inside.  If it isn't, I've proven there is no cookie.  With God, the universe is the box.  We have yet to explore the entire thing, so how can we say if the cookie is there or not?

The argument of Russell's Teapot has been brought up on more than one occasion.  If you are unfamiliar with it, the concept came from a philosopher named Bertrand Russell.  He stated that if one claimed a teapot was out in space orbiting the sun, it would make no sense for people to believe him just because they can't prove him wrong.  My problem with this notion is that technically, there are circumstances in which his claims could be verified.  If we had spacecraft traveling longer distances, or if we used a satellite or unmanned craft, we could verify or disprove the claim.  But for the sake of argument, let's just say we couldn't verify his claim.  Does that mean that it is a fact that there's no teapot out there?  Or would it be more reasonable to say  "There could be a teapot, but we have no way of proving it."?  Because regardless of whether or not it could be proven, if the teapot is out there beyond the reach of human observation, then the claim is correct.  How, then, can we say for a fact that there is no teapot based solely on a lack of observation?

Science is often quoted by the atheists I've spoke with.  The concept that science has learned how the various systems and mechanics of the universe work - systems that were once attributed a God or Gods - seems to make some atheists believe that the only reason early man believed in God was because we couldn't explain things like eclipses or the rising/falling of the sun.  Once science learned how they worked, atheists say the need for God disappeared.  Again, this seems illogical to me.

This argument could be compared to a man who discovers a car for the first time.  He disassembles it, studies it, reassembles it, and figures out how to use it.  That's what we've done with science - we've learned how the various systems of the universe work, how the human body works, how the earth has changed over the years, and invented ways of managing all of it in our day to day lives.  None of this explains how the car (universe) came to be or who assembled it in the first place.  If matter can neither be created nor destroyed, then we all must have come from some unknown piece of original matter.  OK, so where did that come from?  And whatever the answer is, how then did that come into existence?  How did the space in which this matter resides come into existence?  How did the very laws of the universe come to be formed, and what holds them in place?

I don't say these things to somehow "prove" God did it all.  I say them to illustrate just how little we know - too little to be able to say for sure that he didn't.

One person encouraged me to watch a Discovery Channel special where Stephen Hawking explains his theories about how life in the universe began.  I watched the entire special online so that I could learn what this well-known and highly-respected scientific mind had to say about the origins of the universe.  Unfortunately, zero questions were answered.  If anything, it gave me even more questions to ask.  Hawking postulates that the beginnings of the universe itself spontaneously popped into existence from nothing.  Comparing to a certain type of particle (I watched this a while ago, so I don't remember the name) that has been observed to pop in and out of existence randomly and spontaneously, Hawking says it's very possible that the same could be said of the initial makings of our universe.  How this argument disproves God in his mind is beyond me - if anything, it supports the Christian Genesis story.

When faced with these questions, most atheists reply with "Well, we are still learning and experimenting every day, so the questions we don't know the answers to will one day be answered."  But for me, the important questions will not be answered.  You can tell me how something works, but if you cannot tell me how it came to be and why it happened that way, it will not disprove the existence of God.  You can describe how each of the processes of the universe function together and why they are necessary, but if you can't tell me what makes them go, why they work that way, what fuels the engine of this plane of existence, then you cannot rule out the possibility of a God as the driving force behind it all.

Contradictions in religious texts are another hot button topic for atheists - if there are apparent contradictions in the text, then it must not be true.  First off, most of what seem to be contradictions can be explained by differing points of view.  Think of it this way: You're walking down a crowded New York City street minding your own business.  You hear a commotion behind you and turn around to see a car smash into another car.  The two of them then hit a bus while fleeing pedestrians run in all directions.  Some are knocked over and trampled, others escape just fine, and still others stand still watching the chaos.  The police arrive and start interviewing people.  Do you think each person's account of the accident is going to be identical?  It's unlikely.  Does that mean the event didn't occur?

Other contradictions arise from scientific discoveries that seem to counter the Bible's claims.  The great flood, for example, is often cited as being scientifically impossible because the atmosphere can only hold just so much moisture.  This is where the "God did it" argument gets so much flak. But is it impossible that God did it?  Well, to disprove the idea, one would first have to disprove the existence of God.  We already know we can't do that, so how can we rule out the "God did it" possibility?  Yes, it seems like yet another easy answer to explain something that, at the time, couldn't be otherwise explained.  But again, without disproving God, we can't know that for sure.

And why is the existence of such a divine being so impossible to begin with?  We see differing levels of intelligence in our own world.  A dog can't perform complex mathematical calculations.  A monkey can't draw up designs for a suspension bridge.  We are the most intellectually superior beings on this planet.  But what about the universe?  Are we really so pompous as to think that there is nothing out there that might possess a higher level of intelligence than we do?  And if there is something out there with an intelligence beyond our own, why is it so unfathomable that this level of intelligence might allow it to manipulate the laws of time and space in ways we cannot? 

One atheist recently argued with me that the ability to imagine something doesn't make it exist.  "I could tell you that there are sixteen magic unicorns living in the core of Mars, but that wouldn't make it true.  Without empirical evidence to support that claim, one would have to conclude that it is false."  Just because you can think of an absurd concept doesn't automatically mean that ANYTHING we cannot observe ourselves is automatically untrue or nonexistent. How can we presume we are so intelligent that we know whether or not there is a divine being? How can we presume that the fact that this being has never physically shown itself to us means it isn't there? How can we presume that our understanding of scientific principals is the highest understanding there can ever be? For that matter, how can we presume that this is the only universe? How can we presume there are no other planes of existence - alternate dimensions or universes where God may reside? Humans can't even make it back to their own moon, yet they presume to know enough to declare no sort of divine being could have ever existed.  It boggles my mind.

During these conversations, I've been accused of being unable to think objectively, rationally, or logically. How is it objective, rational, and logical to assume that there is no God when we have not discovered each and every place intelligent life may exist? How could humans possibly have observed the presence or absence of a God if we've not yet explored every inch of the universe (or other universes, if there are any)?  I've yet to have an atheist provide any real answers to any of these questions.

Another argument often posed is that a loving God would not allow the injustices of the world to happen.  People seem to think that God's purpose is to heed to every request/demand we have and solve the problems of society. We still have world hunger? Blame God. Men raping women? Blame God. Children dying of disease? Blame God. The problem is that they are placing God on the same level as humanity and judging his actions accordingly. But as the creator, he is above any other being and therefore above judgment. How arrogant are we to expect to tell a divine being what he should or should not do?  He possesses a higher level of intelligence and understanding than human beings are capable of, and to expect to understand everything he does is unreasonable.

In reality, man has been given free reign over the Earth. These things don't get fixed by God because they're not God's responsibility to fix. They are our problems, our trials, and our responsibilities.  If our children are starving, it's because we aren't taking care of them.  Not God, but us.

The final, and possibly the most common, argument against the existence of God is the actions of people who claim to follow him.  Religious zealots wage war on unbelievers.  Homosexuals are shunned by churches.  Priests are molesting children.  It's easy to highlight the belief systems of these types of people because their actions are quite the opposite.  Religion is an easy front - in the eyes of the offender, saying "God told me to do it" provides a way of shirking moral responsibility for their crimes.  But man is responsible for man's crimes, no matter who they try to blame.  If someone walked into a mall with a gun and started shooting everyone in the name of atheism, it wouldn't mean that all atheists are evil.  Further, this entire argument holds no water because the shameful acts of an evil man have no bearing on whether or not God exists - regardless of what the crime was. 

So, sadly, after all of this I find myself no closer to understanding atheists than I was four years ago.  I just don't see how it is logical to state "There is no God" without proof.  The atheist will respond to that statement by saying "I don't see how it is logical to state "There is a God" without proof.  I can understand that, but it makes far more sense to me to at least acknowledge the possibility rather than write it off entirely.

I'm sorry, guys.  I really do want to understand.  It just doesn't seem rational to me.

God bless,

Kevin

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to family and friends far and near.  May God bless you in 2014.




God bless,
Kevin

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Helping Hand

"As you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40)

Typhoon Haiyan left thousands dead and catastrophic devastation across the Philippines.  Last weekend's storms across the Midwest left six people dead (at last count) and many without homes.  Things have been rough for many lately, so if you're looking for a way to help out, I'd like to recommend donating to Matthew 25 Ministries. They have great ratings as far as charities go with over 99% of the money they receive going to their aid programs.


I know financial times are tough these days, but please consider giving. Sometimes its hard to really grasp just how much we take the bare essentials (water, clothes, shelter) for granted. Even a small donation is worth it means clothing a victim or feeding a child.


This Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks for everything you have, because sometimes you don't really realize how much you rely on something until it is gone.

Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving.

God bless,
Kevin


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Be Prepared

I feel like I've been preparing for all the wrong things in life.  Or maybe not enough of the right ones.  Either way, as life rolls on and I get older, challenges arise and things change.  I knew all of it was coming.  I knew I wouldn't be a kid forever.  I knew family members wouldn't be around forever.  But I didn't realize how much the inevitable winds of change would tear a hole in my world.

When I was in elementary school, I was told that I needed to work hard and be prepared because middle school was much harder.  I'd have different teachers for most subjects, and none of them would care about my responsibilities to any class other than theirs.  I mentally prepared myself for the academic challenges that awaited.  But when I got there, it wasn't the amount of schoolwork or the complexity of the material that caught me off-guard.  It was the heartlessness of my classmates.

Suddenly, I was interacting with kids from the other elementary schools who had been combined with mine, and not many of them liked me.  At the same time, many of my old friends from elementary school turned their backs on me as new cliques were formed and old friendships were tossed aside.  Adolescence had arrived, and with it came the race for popularity that would last straight through high school.

During my high school years, I was warned that I had to take the work seriously because college would be a hundred times harder and the workforce even worse.  I ended up holding off on college and getting a job first, so I mentally prepared myself to be worked to the bone.  I wasn't going to complain about the responsibilities I was given.  I wasn't going to complain about the endless hours on my feet.  I wasn't going to stress about the workload.

But the workload turned out to be surprisingly easy.  I did really well and was promoted several times over the next few years.  The workload wasn't my problem.  It was the people and the politics.  My first job was retail, so I was given my first exposure to the heartless underbelly of humanity known as the "customer."  I had no problems helping people find what they needed - that's what I expected to be doing.  But their attitudes were not what I had expected. Customers were heartless and mean.  I honestly didn't see it coming.  The poor attitudes of many of my coworkers complicated matters as well.  I'd been led to believe that working a real job meant being a part of a team.  But I soon learned that many employees only looked out for themselves.

When I did go to college, I got better grades there than I did in high school.  The workload was almost laughably easy (with the exception of math, my weak point - curse you, numbers!).

When I moved out of my mother's house, I was warned that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was moving 900 miles away to a state with no family of my own.  I was told that the stress of being responsible for keeping a roof over our heads (mine and Laura's) in today's economy would crush me.  I was warned that I wouldn't be able to handle the responsibilities of living on my own and that I wasn't prepared for all of the expenses that go into independent living. 

But none of that stuff has been an issue for me.  What I now struggle with is the prospect of a life that is completely new, an unpaved road that is, for the moment, completely unfamiliar to me.  And the worst part is that it's a one-way street.  Everything I was familiar with - the things I now lack - are things that can never be a part of my life again.  Even if I were to quit my job and move back to the New York/New Jersey area, I still wouldn't be able to regain what I've lost.

I was not prepared for that.

I've always known that a day would come when I'd lose my parents.  And I always thought "I don't know how in the world I'm going to handle that."  But growing up, all I really worried about was how I'd react when either of my parents died.  What I didn't think of was how I would cope in the years that would follow.

And it's been like that for a lot of things.  We used to own a house in Point Pleasant.  It was my favorite place in the world - and still is.  I'd give anything to have that house back, but we had to sell it years ago, and it has since been renovated to the point that it barely resembles our old place.  Even if I could afford it, the house I spent countless summers enjoying is no longer there.  No matter what I do, I can't get it back.

These are the things I wish I'd been prepared for.  I miss the days when my mother, father, sister, and myself would spend a weekend down the shore.  I miss the days when Mom would make a big dinner and the whole family would sit around the table with Dad at the end making bad puns.  I miss spending holidays with my family and taking trips to Vermont to see my brother.  I miss playing video games with my other brother before he'd go out every evening.  I miss the summer nights when my father, my uncle, and our neighbor Bobby would sit outside talking about who-knows-what while my sister and I looked at stars through a telescope.  I miss Fourth of July barbeques at my uncle's pool and going to fireworks with everyone afterward.  And I miss all the family members we've lost over the years, whether by death or by choice.

I realize that I've entered the second part of my life.  I knew it was coming, and I know that it's up to me to create new traditions, new favorite places, and new memories.  But sometimes nostalgia can be a psychological tormentor reminding me that I'll never wake up in Point Pleasant to the sound of Mom returning with morning donuts, I'll never share another "Dad walk" with my father, and I'll never spend another Christmas in our house in New Jersey.

That's not to say I have nothing great in my life now.  I really do.  First and foremost, I have Laura to walk beside me, and that's the biggest blessing I could've ever asked for.  We are creating all of our own traditions as the years go by, making our own memories, and enjoying our lives together.  And, to my surprise, I actually enjoy living in Missouri.  I'm sure I'll settle in on this new path eventually, but the transition has been tougher than I expected not because of the responsibilities that come with it, but because of everything I've lost along the way.

Life has changed so much and I've just been running to catch up.  I spent so much time focusing on and preparing for the responsibilities of life that I forgot to respect the intangibles that make life worth living.  It's not that I don't appreciate the things I have now.  And it's not that I didn't appreciate the shore house or the family holidays when we had them.

I just wasn't prepared for them to be gone so soon.

So remember every day to appreciate the blessings you have, whether they are memories, family, or anything else.  Let the people closest to you know you feel about them, and cherish every moment you have with them.  After all, "Time is short, and suddenly you're not there anymore."

I love and miss you guys.

God bless,

Kevin

Monday, September 30, 2013

Author Interview - Georgina Ramsey

This week, we welcome Georgina Ramsey!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in 1978 and currently live in the North of England with my husband, son and numerous animals! I’m a teacher by day and writer by night, and love to read, cook and let my imagination run wild. I’m a big kid at heart and highly sarcastic, which is a trait I picked up from my older brother.

2. How long have you been writing?

I would say that I am a newbie to the Indie market because I didn't break through (sounds so painful, doesn't it?) until early 2013 when I published my debut book Love, Life & Cream Cakes! But, like many, I was a frustrated writer long before that. I started writing in a manner that I would say was moderately productive in my late teens, and have had articles published in the press and on the internet. Books are where my passion lies and that’s the direction I’m taking now.

3. What is Love, Life & Lettuce! about? 

This book is second in the Love, Life &… series and is about Jenny Golightly who discovers that her average and comfortable marriage is anything but. She is content with her lot, but as she struggles to lose weight her life is turned upside down. I hope this comes across as a humorous story of true friendship and love, but it’s also about being fat in a thin world and the search for happiness.

4. How did you come up with the plot?

After writing Love, Life & Cream Cakes! which has elements of my own life threaded throughout it, I quickly realized that I was attached to the character of Jenny Golightly and wanted to develop her further. I enjoy writing about your “average” person, with “average” problems because there are so many things that go on behind the closed doors of homes that we will never know. I guess I’m a nosy kind of gal!

5. Tell us about Jenny Golightly.

Jenny is overweight, a wife, a mother and a teacher in her mid-thirties who struggles with the perception people hold of her. She is quite a sensitive, some may say defensive, soul but she is just trying to get through the challenges that life is throwing at her. She is probably a lot tougher than she thinks.

6. What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?

That’s a really hard question. I would like to say that the character of the book is incredibly “typical” and therefore there will be many women out there who can relate to her. She’s not a model, singer, politician or wannabe – just a working mother with a weight problem.

7. Did you have any specific goals when writing Love, Life & Lettuce!? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?

I wanted the character to be amiable and I wanted to write about an obese woman because there are too many protagonists out there with, what society believes to be, an ideal body. I wanted to discuss issues surrounding obesity and infidelity and that, for many, life can actually be what you make of it.

8. How long did it take you to write Love, Life & Lettuce!? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?

It took me approximately twelve months to write Love, Life & Lettuce! That’s from the very first word to its final publication. I didn't hire any outside help and chose to do it all myself – it was a huge learning curve! However, I did have two fabulous beta-readers (a lady in the UK and a lady in America) who provided continuous support and feedback.

9. Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?

That’s an easy question! My son and my husband. They offer constant support and encouragement and without the pair of them, I couldn't follow this dream. Writing (and all the other tasks that come with publishing) is incredibly time consuming, so you need a supportive family and someone who doesn't mind their ear being bent once in a while. When I come home from my day job, they let me sit and write. They listen to my ideas (if appropriate) and are brutally honest with feedback.

10. As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network or website links you'd like to share?

You can find me on both Facebook and Twitter if you follow these links:

https://www.facebook.com/GeorginaRamseyAuthor
https://twitter.com/GeorginaBRamsey

I love networking with fans and fellow authors, and on my Facebook page you will find many links to articles and sites with useful information for the aspiring indie author.

11. What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?

Characters that you identify with and can fall in love with, and for me it’s also a plot that doesn't drag. I want to be able to visualize each scene and get inside the head of the main character.

12. Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?

All the time, but that’s just part of the fun. Your imagination really does take control and your fingers just have to obey it.

13. And just for fun, what's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?

Spending time with my family wins every time. I love getting away for short breaks where we can all just kick back and relax.

Thanks so much, Georgina!