Here is an illustration I did in honor of one of my favorite books of all time, Where The Wild Things Are.
Maurice Sendak is one of my favorite artists who had an amazing vision. Thank God he decided to share it with us.
I'm a huge Cat Zingano fan. For the MMA fans out there, you know who I'm talking about. I was so bummed when she blew out her knee, requiring surgery and having to forfeit her coaching gig on next season's "The Ultimate Fighter". She now has to wait 9-12 months for her title shot. Since my book touches on healing, I sent her a copy and she was so cool to post this on her FB page and twitter. She rocks. I wish her a speedy recovery. Link to post.
    So, let’s be honest. It’s still out there, isn’t it? Yes, it has gotten a lot better, but no matter how many self-published novels are praised, no matter how many independent authors are successful, no matter how many indie books become so famous and popular, resulting in the author getting signed to a big-name publisher, there are still a select few who have that same reaction when it comes to self-published novels. You know who you are.

    No, I’m not speaking of the amazing book bloggers who are more than happy to read and support independent authors; I’m not referring to the librarians who order books for their libraries based on description, rather than printing houses. I’m talking about those who claim they love reading, love books, love mentally escaping into the imaginary realm of a good story, yet as soon as they are referred a self-published novel, their immediate reaction goes a little something like this:

  • “I don’t have time for it because my ‘to read’ pile from the bookstore is just too high…”
  • “If an agent won’t waste their time reviewing it, then why should I?”
  • “But, I never heard of it…”
  • “Nowadays, anyone can self-publish…”
  • “It must not be that good if it hasn’t been discovered by a ‘real’ publisher…”
    There it is; that’s exactly the problem. It’s not up to a publisher to “discover” a self-published novel; it’s up to readers to support a good story, despite who printed the books.

    I’m always blown away when someone sneers at the thought of turning the pages of a self-published novel. Please do not think I am bitter about this. How can I be when conversely there are so many wonderful book bloggers, teachers, librarians and those book lovers out there who are more than willing to give independent authors a chance, based on whether or not the description of the book reels them in, whether the cover intrigues them, or whether the story’s subject matter is something they can relate to. To these readers I say: “Thank you!”

    With respect to those who refuse to give self-published books a chance: I know we are all pressed for time and must be very selective when choosing what to read, and I am not suggesting for one second that every indie novel is great, but choosing what to read based on who printed it just seems … well, to put it simply: “unfair”. Go ahead and call me childish, but it just seems unfair to assume a book isn’t “good enough” because the author chose a different route in printing it.

    It is my belief that a good story can come from anywhere. They can be drawn from a life experience or struggle; a creative idea you had while stuck in your cubicle; spotting a quirky neighbor who you envision lives their life in the most peculiar, or perhaps sinister, fashion imaginable; a trip you took to a foreign land that yielded more of an adventure than you had expected. Maybe you have a brain wave that sparks out of a conversation with a friend who has very specific mannerisms or peculiar body language … “What if my best friend is really a vampire? … maybe he’s a wizard? … maybe he’s a wizarding vampire …” Those ideas, experiences and creative sparks are then molded into stories by anyone who wishes to tell them. It is a story, right? So what if it hasn’t run through the conventional channels and filters of a traditional publishing house; it can still be great storytelling, nonetheless.

    Yes - all books should be edited properly for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure; formatting should be checked, etc., but in the end (for me), the most important aspect of good fiction is: storytelling; a tale spun by someone which paints a moving image in your mind, filled with dimensional characters, wondrous settings, and a unique adventure you’ve never experienced.  So, you see, traditional books and self-published books both come from the same place; they are spindled through someone’s imagination, and I won’t ever let anyone convince me that my imagination is wrong or not “good enough”.

    Look, there is no way I am bashing traditional publishers. I love their books and read them all the time; I love perusing the shelves of my small local book store, as well as the massive book chain, and I love any-and-all book bloggers who encourage people to read, who share their opinions about specific books, be it self published or traditional. What I am hoping that everyone takes away from this post is simply this: The next time you want to escape into a good story, (notice I said story, not book) read the summary, examine the cover, investigate the first chapter, and please try to remember that it doesn’t matter who prints the book; what matters are the words between the pages.

This was initially posted on one of my favorite book blogs, Kate's Tales Of Books And Bands. Katelyn was kind enough to accept this as a guest post from me. Since it has been up for a while, I have decided to share it on my site as well. It explains why A Girl Named Willow Krimble is free.

   Ever since I have offered A Girl Named Willow Krimble up on my web site for free, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to answer the following questions:

            “Why would you just give it away on your site?”

            “Why are your kindle and paperback versions priced              so low?”

            “Why did you donate copies to schools and      libraries?” 

            “Why don’t you try to get published traditionally?”

            “Why don’t you try getting a literary agent?”

            The answer to all these questions is so simple:

   I want everyone (yes, I ambitiously said, everyone) to read my story. As many people as possible: girls, boys, men, woman, middle graders, young adults, seniors, etc.

   I won’t get into why I wrote Willow because you can read about that on my site.

   Okay, so think about creating something – anything. A painting that you poured your own unique vision into, which started as a small spark that invaded your mind when you least expected it; or a delicious double-fudge anything that looks so mouth-watering you just gotta share it with friends; or how about a plant in your garden that started out as a seemingly insignificant seed and has slowly blossomed into the pride of your backyard. Let’s be clear on something: I’m not talking about bragging here. No, I’m referring to something that has brought you so much joy, you can’t possibly keep it to yourself.

   Remember when you were 5, 6 or 7 years old? Alright, maybe you were 10 – whatever – when you created that picture in art class that you just knew your mom would keep forever? Did you say to your mom, “No, Mom, don’t hang that on the fridge, let’s charge people to look at it.” Alright, I’m being a bit overly-dramatic here to illustrate my point, but I’m proud to say that I am still that anxious little 7-year-old.

   You see, before I wrote Willow, I never knew that I could. Not saying I’m a talented writer or even a good storyteller (you’ll have to judge that). I’m just saying, I wrote it. I wrote something no one else could because this particular story was only in me. Even if other stories out there deal with similar issues, even if they handle those issues better, this is my fictional tale, from my imagination, my vision, my heart. Aside from some very kind friends and family who helped with my horrific spelling and dubious grammatical skills, the story still came from me. Again – not being boastful, but I slowly seeped three years of my life into these characters, who I have fallen in love with, and I just want the world to love them as much as I do. Childish and corny? Maybe, but like I said, we shouldn’t change the way we choose to dream just because we grow older.

   Let’s be honest; at first, I tried querying agents and publishers who represented books which reflected the genre and age-group of my novel, but to no avail. So after awhile, I had a choice to make: keep asking someone to believe in my story, so that they could sell it, or believe in my story enough to put it out there on my own – not to make a profit, not for bragging rights and certainly not to impress anyone. I created something that I loved so much, something that I had no idea I was capable of crafting, I didn’t want to keep it to myself another minute. Once I figured I could do all of the art myself (who would know what the images should represent better than the storyteller?), I put it all together and the rest is history – or the present, depending on how you see things.

   I have never regretted my decision. When I receive a review from a stranger who is out of state, overseas, who has read and enjoyed my book, someone who not only likes it, but totally gets it, can relate to it, or tells me they’ve read it to their child, I never wonder for one second how much of a royalty payment I could have made.

   Please do not think for a moment that I am knocking traditional publishing, literary agents, or royalty payments, for that matter. If someone offered me a deal that made sense, of course I would have to consider it, but consider this: I have my entire life to sell books. Right now … I just felt that I needed to share one.

Island Park Library in Long Island New York was greatly devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The staff has been working in a temporary location for months. A local bank is having a contest for our favorite local library. The library with the most votes on Facebook will win $1000. That would buy them a lot of books. Anyone can vote for them no matter where you reside. In an effort to get them the votes they deserve, I am donating a signed copy and postcard of my novel. Please enter below. Please note, when you vote on the Facebook page, you have to click on the "go to apps" button to make the vote count. One random winner will be selected by Rafflecopter on 3/30. Good luck and please spread the word.
This was my first Author interview. I had so much fun. Please check it out when you have a minute.
Link to Interview
    So, a few months ago I received an extremely generous review of my novel by Andrea Burdette over at Aine’s Realm blog. After posting her review, she was kind enough to ask me to do a guest post. Here is the twist: she asked me to do it as my character, Willow Krimble. For those who have read my book, you know it is written in the third person - not first person narrative, so I had no idea what to do. Not a lot of time logged in as a 13-year-old girl. However, I ended up having a blast writing this post. I decided to create an extension of my novel by having Willow write up a diary entry, describing what she is feeling when she first discovers her power. I was able to introduce her story and personality without giving too much of the book away. I would really appreciate anyone reading this, even if you have no plans on reading the book. It is quite short and gives a sense of what kind of character I was going for in my novel. I love this character so much and I can only hope that some of you will share in that sentiment. As always, thanks for the support.

The post is below, but to read it on the blog in which it was written for, click on the following link:
Link to Aine's Realm, Guest Post

                          The Diary Of Willow Krimble

                                     First Entry

Dear Diary,

    Wow, this feels so weird. I’ve never written that before, which is really odd, since Grandma Trisha gave me this Diary two years ago. She knows how much I love to write. I’ve written a few short stories and a ton of poems, but I’ve never written in a diary before. With the strange events that have been happening to me lately, I just feel like I need to express certain things that I can’t share with anyone else, including my best friend, Razzel.

    So, where to begin, Diary? Since I’m new at this, I’d feel a lot better if I gave you little bit of background info on myself – even though you are just a leather-bound notebook – no offense.

    My name is Willow Krimble. I’m 13-years-old, I have freckles, bushy, almond-colored hair, and I have to wear a retainer for the next six months, even though I finally got my braces off. Sounds like your typical tween, right? Oh, I promise you, it gets more interesting, Diary. I wouldn’t exactly call my life “typical”. You see, for one thing, I was born without the bottom half of my left leg, so I’ve had to wear a prosthetic limb pretty much my whole life. It’s all I’ve ever known, so I don’t mind it. I often notice my classmates curiously staring at it, which isn’t my favorite pastime, but you get used to it. You never do get used to the insults, though. Shayla Stergus and Snella Burinbine, at school, think it’s pretty funny to call me things like “Prosthetic Princess”, or “One-Leg Wonder”. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bug me. I don’t have to tell you how powerful words can be. They can raise you to amazing heights, where you’re heart begs to remain, or they can drag you to a dark place, where it seems as if the tiniest flicker of hope will never shine again. Sorry to get so deep, there, Diary. It’s the poet in me, I guess.
    But thank goodness for my best friend, Razzel Fiora; she’s had my back since we were three years old. She really looks out for me. It’s not the worst thing in the world to have a best friend who’s skilled in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, complimented by a sarcastic attitude. Comes in handy when someone refers to you as “Robo-Crutch”. Don’t laugh, Diary – not funny.

    But enough about my middle school angst. Now that I’ve filled you in on the basics, I think I’m finally ready to share something else with you; something … peculiar … something … curious. You see, the retainer, untamable hair, and steel leg are just the back-story to Willow Krimble. Did I just refer to myself in the third-person? Sorry about that. Anyway, the real thing you should know about me is, lately … well … strange, unexplainable things have been happening around me, and I’m not sure I should tell anyone. But If I don’t share it with someone, I’ll just burst. That’s where you come in, Diary.

    I always tell Raz everything, but suddenly being struck with the power to heal others isn’t information I need to be sharing with anyone just yet. You read that right; I can heal people. Well, at least I think I can. I’ve had three separate instances this week where two people, and one pet-shop guinea pig, were suddenly healed after I came in contact with them. Crazy, right? I mean, why me? What makes me so special? And why now?

    Truth is, there was a time when I … well … okay, no one knows this, Diary; not my mom, my older brother, Wyatt, not even Raz, but when my dad was sick, just before he passed away, I wanted so badly to be able to take his illness away – to just pull it out of him and dispel it. I remember on my seventh birthday, when I blew out those candles, I wished with my entire soul, for him to get better. I remember gazing at his frail, withered appearance, after my vicious puffing extinguished the final thin, pink-swirled candle. I remember thinking I’d performed some wondrous magic. When you’re seven, you believe in that stuff – you believe in everything. Call it what you want: Magic, miracles, super powers, whatever… When you’re a kid, you can feel these moments when you think something amazing has just happened. Something that makes your heart feel like it just expanded wider than it ever has; that moment where nothing ugly in this world matters because all you can see is the beauty, surrounding it. That’s what you feel when you’re a young kid and something incredibly unexpected happens, like coming home to a freshly baked batch of chocolate chunk cookies for no particular reason … or getting a snow day off from school … or having your birthday wish come true…. But you should know, Diary, that my wish never did come true that year. That feeling I had when I blew out those candles, was totally premature. Or should I say, “immature”; just a little kid with a big wish. A wish that deep down, beyond that heart-swelling feeling, I knew would never really come true. Sorry to be such a downer, Diary, but if what I can do is truly real, then why did it happen now? Why not six years ago? Life is really strange that way, isn’t it? Things never turn out the way we map them out in our own minds, but I suppose there is a reason for everything that’s happening to me. Grandma Trisha always tells me: “Let life travel where it wants to go; just savor the journey.” I think I get my passion for writing from her, but don’t tell mom I said that.

    You should know, Diary, that I just paused for a ginormous yawn, so, clearly, I’m not going to figure this all out tonight. I’d better get to bed; I promised Raz I’d meet her at the library tomorrow to work on our homeostasis paper for Science Class. Well, Diary, thanks for listening. I feel a lot better now that I was able to share all of this with you. Maybe I’m crazy; maybe all of these things have just been a strange coincidence. Maybe I am just a typical kid, with an overactive imagination. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and, Diary … thanks for keeping my secret.

It's has been an amazing year for me and Willow. I have gotten countless hits on the site and some really amazing reviews on the book from bloggers as well as readers on Goodreads. I am moved by the support I continue to receive from everyone, especially those anticipating book 2. I promise I am writing it, but I am very meticulous, and it has a ways to go, but please keep asking me about it; it keeps me going and has become my favorite question.

I have also received a lot of inquiries as to what Willow Krimble looks like in my mind's eye. Now that, I can answer fairly quickly, so, in response to my supportive readers, here is an illustration I have been working on of Willow. If you have read the book, then you know why she is mesmerized by her hand. If you have not yet read it, what are you waiting for? It is totally free on this site.

Thanks everyone for your continued support. Happy Holidays to all and a very Happy and Safe 2012 to everyone!

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to do a guest post for Jessi Elliot over at The Elliot Review. I thought I would share the post on my blog as well. It is all about tapping into your creative - no matter what that may be for you. The post was titled: Why I Need To Write

          I need to write because if I don’t, I might just short-circuit. Sound crazy? Let me explain. It is my belief that everyone needs a creative outlet to plug into. Does that mean everyone should write, or paint, or direct a movie? Absolutely not (unless you want to). Having a creative outlet, to me, means being able to do something that brings you joy and peace through your own actions; something that comes naturally to you, that helps you express what you’re thinking and feeling. An activity where, even if it takes time and a lot of effort, it never seems like a chore because it is a piece of you that is being expressed. It can be planting a garden, volunteering at your local animal shelter, organizing events for your child’s school, building a birdhouse, etc.

        My daily routine consists of the following: I get up in the morning and I get to spend about 15 minutes with my beautiful wife and lovely daughter before I have to run for my train. My commute to Manhattan is about an hour. I then work about 8-10 hours for Corporate America before sitting on the train for another hour, headed home. On days where I get out on time, I only get to spend about 45 minutes with my daughter before she’s off to bed. After that: dinner with my wife, catching up with one another, and sometimes a little TV. If there is time, late evening, I’ll do some chores around the house so as not to deal with them on the weekends.

        My time with my wife and daughter are truly precious to me and I live for it. But let us rewind to that whole Corporate America thing, shall we? Hey, we all need to make a living and pay the bills and I am fortunate enough where I get to work within a creative environment with incredibly talented people, and I even get to wear jeans and sneakers to work. Very cool, right? However, at the end of the day my job is not my life; it is just a job to me. I appreciate it in terms of financial support, and I give 100% while I’m there, but everything I work on has so many hands on it, by the time it is completely executed, none of it is truly mine. I’m not complaining, just explaining.

        So, let’s recap: Spending time with family is amazing, but my job, although creative, and although I devote 100% of my efforts and energy to the work, in the end, the work is not 100% of me. That is, the work is done to appease other creators, art directors, clients, consumers, etc. So what of all of the ideas swirling around in my head? The yearning I feel when intuition screams to create something? This stuff has to come out somehow. I need to express myself and expel all of the things buzzing around in my mind. When most of my day is spent executing projects for someone else, be it creative or otherwise, I still feel like something is missing. Emotionally my wife, child, other family and friends fill me with joy and love. Mentally, however, I have so many ideas, creative images, and visual triggers, that I need a way to express that energy. For me, that form of expression is storytelling. When I sit on the train during my commute to and from work, I write. I write stories, I write my feelings on a particular subject, I’m writing this blog post right now…

        The point is, everyone has creative expression inside of them. EVERYONE! Why keep it in? Even if you don’t decide to share it with anyone, do it for yourself. Scale that rock wall, paint that still-life, take that cooking class you’ve been meaning to take, and never let anyone or anything make you feel like you always have to play someone else’s music; compose your own. By day’s end, one very important question must be answered: “Did I get to be me today? When I write, whether people like my stories or not, the answer is always, “Yes!”

    Find your creative outlet, plug into it, and you’ll run just fine.

Link to Blog Post on The Elliot Review