Category: Authors

Tunes for Tuesday: Time for a little magic!

I remember when The Police exploded on the scene with their new wave, reggae rock, post-punk, pop sound, and all you could say was, WOW!

A British rock band, The Police formed in London in 1977. The best-remembered line-up included Sting (lead vocals, bass guitar), Andy Summers (Guitar), and Stewart Copeland (drums, percussion). Their debut album Outlandos D’Amour released in 1978, rose to #6 on the UK Albums Chart. The second album, Reggatta de Blanc, released in 1979, was the first of four consecutive #1 albums in the UK and Australia,

Their first number one hit in the UK was Message in a Bottle.

Message in a Bottle (Synchronicity Concert, 1983)

It just got better and better from there. I still will occasionally belt out a little bit of … ROX – anne … when nobody is in ear shot!

Roxanne (Live in 1979)

I really like this long version of the song that includes some interesting bass lines and vocal variations.

And Stewart Copeland is certainly no slouch as a percussionist. Check this video out.

Wrapped Around Your Finger (Tokyo Dome, 2008)

I always liked this song. I must admit I have been wrapped around a few female fingers in my life. I do try to keep it from happening again, unless of course, there is an equal and mutual wrapping.

Andy Summers is also quite a guitarist winning two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, one in 19979 for Regatta de Blanc and one in 1980 for Behind My Camel. He is also a member of the Guitar Player Magazine Hall of Fame

Every Breath You Take (Atlanta, 1983)

Unfortunately, as is so often the case when you put such great talent together in one group, there is friction. The Police were no different. According to an interview with Stewart Copeland, they fought a great deal.

We got along great as long as we didn’t talk about music, but we had to so we fought. And people say Andy was like some buffer for the two of us. Bullshit. Andy was his own little volcano. His own sharp point of the triangle. We all fought.

Copeland

But when they took a break in their fighting, it was certainly magic.

Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic (Live in Rio de Janeiro, 2007)

The Police were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2003.

Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and be sure to check out my books by clicking here! They do get great reviews!

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POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 by a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has continued the tradition, commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

A national ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon featuring members of each branch of military service and the participation of high-ranking officials.

In addition to the national ceremony, many observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day can be found across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools, veterans’ facilities, homes, and private businesses.

No matter where they are held, these National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies share the common purpose of honoring those held captive and returned, and those who remain missing.

According to the Department of Defense, approximately 83,114 Americans are still missing today.

In past years, I have seen Missing Man Honors tables set up in restaurants I have visited on this day. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

Missing Man Honors

Let me take a moment to explain the significance of the Missing Man Honors to those who may not understand. This is how the table is typically set at military and veteran clubs, and private businesses and homes.

The tables I have seen are typically set for one, with the single empty chair representing all missing American servicemembers. It will sometimes be done with a setting for six, with each chair representing the missing Americans from each of the services, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and civilian.

There is great symbolism in how the table is set.

The table is round to symbolize our everlasting concern.

The table cloth is white and represents the purity of motive in answering the call to serve.

A single red rose is placed on the table to remind us of the lives of these Americans and their friends and loved ones who keep the faith.

The yellow ribbon represents our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families.

The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast.

The chair is empty … because these great Americans are missing.

Traditions such as these honor those who fought and sacrificed so Americans today can live in Freedom.

Freedom is such a precious gift, a gift paid for by blood during the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and other conflicts.

Politics is for politicians. The American fighting men and women put the politics aside and just do their job. All Americans should remember the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served in defense of freedom, and it is especially important to remember those who have not yet come home.

Veteran To Veteran

So what is Veteran’s Referring Veterans?

Founded by a veteran, Justin Clark, after being medically retired from the military, the mission of Veterans Referring Veterans is to become a trusted partner with veterans who own businesses and to provide a web-based directory where consumers can connect with and select veteran-owned companies. But it is so much more than that!

How does it work?

I have been intrigued by this organization for some time seeing their posts on both Instagram and Facebook. Justin Clark hosts “Happy Hours” every Thursday night via the group on Facebook, where veteran-owned businesses are highlighted. This week the featured company will be Four Brothers Mead. These four veteran brothers based in Missouri make a Viking era honey-based wine known as Mead. They wanted to produce the best Old World Mead by using only superior, locally harvested pure honey. I have yet to try it, but by several accounts, they have succeeded.

I joined after participating in a happy hour in which a veteran who now writes children’s books was highlighted.

Veterans Referring Veterans is very active on social media including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. There is also a VRV podcast.

If you are interested in learning a bit more, here is a video clip explaining what Veterans Referring Veterans is all about.

So what is the catch?

Well, there really is none. Joining is very affordable. You can design your own profile and upload images. You join in on “happy hours” and other events, meet other veteran business owners, and help spread the word for each other. If you choose you, you can also travel to larger events in other locations. VRV is now in 24 states and even Germany. The growth has been incredible.

Current member veteran-owned businesses include:

  • Automotive
  • Business and Law
  • Entertainment
  • Financial
  • Health and Beauty
  • Home
  • Marketing
  • Medical
  • Pets
  • Recreational
  • Restaurants
  • Technology
  • Yard
  • Miscellaneous

Please go to the Veterans Referring Veterans website if you are looking for help in these areas.

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of the other posts on my blog by clicking here!

If you enjoy a thrilling, fast-paced, award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my newest novel, Montagnard. It’s getting great reviews … even from Kirkus!

Reblog: WWII Oldest Living Vet Birthday Card Request–Deadline 1 September

Another great American hero! I’d better get another card!

e-Quips

The following info is from the National World War II Museum’s Facebook Page. Deadline is 9/1. 

Mr Brooks, Oldest LIving WWII Vet Mr Lawrence. Brooks, America’s oldest living WWII et.  Now and then–still looks about the same

This year, the birthday celebration of America’s oldest living WWII veteran Lawrence Brooks will look a little different. With the global pandemic, we must forgo our traditional get together in favor of some socially distanced fun. Mr. Brooks, a New Orleans native, will turn 111 this year, and we are asking everyone to send in birthday cards to the Museum so that we can deliver them to his home. Please send your card to the address below by Tuesday, September 1:

Please send your card to the address below by Tuesday, September 1:

The National WWII Museum
c/o Happy 111th Mr. Brooks!
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Watch Mr. Brook’s Oral History:

Read an article from his…

View original post 2 more words

Love Numbers – Gabriela M.

Read this wonderful sample of Gabriela Milton’s wonderfully romantic poetry. So far I have enjoyed everything I have read written by her.

FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

You used to identify the beating of my heart according to the phases of the moon. 

The tonalities of my voice were symbolized by the heaviness of wheat in any given year. 

We laid in the grass, shadows of poppies playing on our faces with the same rhythmicity of the waves on tranquil days.  

At times we could feel the pulse of the new grains.  

The line of my décolleté – as you used to say – nothing else but the demarcation between inexorable sins and the blushing tones of the sunsets.

The wind tasted like mulberries. 

The Southern Pampas of Buenos Aires.

At the time it was one thing that I could not figure out. 

What was the relationship between our love and numbers? 

Were we one, were we two, were we three, or perhaps more? 

How many were buried beneath our passion or by our passion? 

Should we have…

View original post 178 more words

Montagnard: Kindle version now available!

Well, it’s here! The promised sequel to Serpents Underfoot. I have worked very hard to make this book better than the first, and if I say so,, I think I succeeded. I hope you will read it. And, I am definitely interested in hearing your comments!

To order your kindle copy of Montagnard for the introductory price of only $2.99, click here!

One former USAF pilot said …

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and liked it better than the first one. The first one got a little tedious to read due to the (understandably long) historical setup sections that weren’t tied together until much later. I felt that I wanted to understand the context, and then it jumped to the next section for a long time without any ties to the previous one. This book was much better, and I enjoy books that carry the main characters through to the next.

Bob Starr, former USAF pilot

Check out Montagnard on Amazon.com.

And if you haven’t read Serpents Underfoot, you might want to check it out as well. While I have improved my writing in Montagnard, Serpents Underfoot is still a good read with about 30 Five Star Reviews.

Not So Photogenic?

You still need good author photographs for marketing your books!

Sometimes you just get in a rut. I have been using the same author’s photo for all my marketing efforts. It is the picture I had taken in 2017 for the back cover of Serpents Underfoot. As the sequel, Montagnard comes together, I decided I needed to get a new back cover author’s picture and perhaps a few for other marketing purposes.

Enter Thumbtack

Wrapping up the photo shoot

This is my second time using Thumbtack. It allows searching for and receiving quotes from professionals in different areas including photography. While I have been happy each time, it is fair to say that Thumbtack has had mixed reviews.

The majority of positive Thumbtack reviews come from customers who have used Thumbtack to find service providers to fit their needs.

Many of them, including me, seem extremely happy with the service they have been provided. I gave my contractor, Ian Courtright, a five-star review and would definitely hire him again.

About Ian Courtright

Ian is from Charlotte, NC. He took the time to ask me a lot of questions to get a feel for what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what kind of a person/author I am. I was pleased with several of his observations and suggestions based on his questioning.

I also learn a bit about Ian. What began as a hobby for him in his early years slowly but surely evolved into a career. Traveled abroad, he worked for a veritable who’s who of internationally known clients including VANS, NEFF, NAUTICA, ESPN, PBR, and others. He has traveled across the U.S. as well, shooting photos at events such as the X Games.

Ian also has a great personality and a charming demeanor, making the photoshoot easy and fun. Having somewhat of a severe nature myself, I have always had difficulty “forcing” a smile on my face for pictures. It usually comes out sort of like a “painful grimace.” Ian actually got me to smile a few times.

To visit Ian’s website, click here!

The end result …

Anyway, I ended up with several great shots, one to use on the back cover of Montagnard and several for other marketing and promotional purposes. And I will definitely contact Ian for any additional photograph needs in the future.

Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking right here! You can also sign up to receive my monthly newsletter by clicking here!

Karate-do: Classical vs. Sport

There are real differences between what I call “classical karate” and sport karate. Before you sign up, just be sure you understand what you are signing up for.

karate-do
Tatsuo Shimabuku / Makiwara

The intent here is not to disparage either version. I am only saying they are different, and you want to be sure the instructor will be teaching you what you are paying to learn.

Understand too, that I am focusing on karate. It is what I know. There are other martial arts such as Aikido, Jujitsu, and Kung Fu, each which may have a different focus in doctrine and technique. And, I have dabbled in Aikido, Tai Chi, Arnis, and Escrima over the years … really just enough to get me in trouble. But, also enough to understand that all these systems or styles often offer the prospective student the same choice … the classical approach or the sport approach.

Some would argue there is a third approach, one of seeking self -improvement. To me, that is simply an integral part of the classical approach, and unfortunately, these days is too often missing on the sport side of things.

In addition, the martial arts industry is very much a “buyer beware” industry.

Why the term “classical karate?”

I use the term “classical karate” in an effort to distinguish it separately because, from what I have seen, the term “traditional karate” has been kidnapped by suspect karate schools who have finally figured out adults aren’t buying what they are selling.

Often times, these are daycare centers masquerading is karate schools because they have learned that it pays much better. Schools like this typically have huge kids classes, but a noticeable lack of adult students.

This is because most adults are not stupid, and after a week or two, can figure out what they are being taught is nonsense. However, the unsuspecting parent who just wants a healthy activity for their children and doesn’t actually participate may never uncover the truth, and some may not even care.

Some of these instructors, in an effort to lure adults back, have gone back to white gis and greatly exaggerated displays of “traditional” behavior.

Just understand that seeing the students all running around in white gis and screaming “Ossss” all the time, does not mean it is a good karate dojo.

But, I digress …

Back to Classical vs Sport Karate

Classical karate is the original karate with a history that is over two thousand years old. It is a uniquely Okinawan art that was influenced by Chinese martial arts. Since Okinawa traded with China, Chinese officials would often teach their art to members of the Okinawan ruling and business classes.

The myth that karate was some kind of a peasant’s fight art is just that, a myth. Karate was taught to the eldest sons of upper class Okinawan families who often served as the palace guard to Okinawan kings. There were rare exceptions.

karate-do
Sensei Harrill demonstrates a technique

For example, Motobu Choki was the third son of Lord Motobu Chōshin, and as such, was not entitled to learn the family style of Te (an earlier name for karate). However, Motobu Choki was fascinated by the art and from an early age, began training on his own. He eventually was able to train with such karate legends as Matsumura Sōkon, Ankō Itosu, Sakuma Pechin and Kōsaku Matsumora. Motobu Choki was a strong advocate of proper makiwara training in karate. He was also one of the three notable karate masters Tatsuo Shimabuku, the founder of Isshin-ryu karate, studied under.

In those days, karate was a fighting art, a system of personal combat that was very much founded in scientific principles such as the laws of physics, a keen understanding of body mechanics, and the strengths and weaknesses of the human body.

Old-style Sport Karate

Sport karate primarily evolved as U.S. Marines were stationed on Okinawa and began seeking instruction from local Okinawan instructors. Due to the competitive nature of U.S. marines, they wanted a way to try out what they were learning on each other. To facilitate this, instructors like Tatsuo Shimabuku put their Marine students into what was essentially kendo armor, and let them go about bashing each other.

Voilà … you now have sport karate!

It is important to consider that the average tour for a Marine on Okinawa was a year to eighteen months. That is barely enough time to achieve a thorough understanding of the basics of karate, much less explore real application of kata techniques or advanced principles. Everything was rushed and there was little depth to the training because of time constraints and the fact that Marines spoke little Okinawan and the Okinawans spoke little English.

Modern Sport Karate

While the Marines certainly learned the kata of the system they studied, there was simply not enough time to explore what was in them. And, they probably preferred sparring with each other much more anyway.

Many of these Marines later returned to the U.S., opened karate schools, and taught what they knew and loved. Basic punching and kicking skills, with an emphasis on bashing each other in the ring.

That’s gonna hurt!

But to say that this is the sum total of karate is simply untrue. Fortunately for us, some Marines, such as AJ Advincula, went back for more, and others like Sherman Harrill followed the Kenpo Gokui (topic of a future post) and just kept working.

However for now, as a means to illustrate some of the basic differences between Classical and Sport Karate, I will list a few of the more obvious ones here.

Classical Karate

  • Emphasis on mastery of basics and exploring the application of techniques from kata.
  • All kicks are executed at or below belt level.
  • Strikes executed with many weapons including fists, forearms, elbows, specific knuckles. knees, heels, toes … etc.
  • Goal is to not lose the fight.
  • Because of the “no rules” nature of combat and the risk of injury during training, as well as the need for continued training partners, courtesy, control, humility, and respect for life become an integral part of training.
  • Most of the techniques practiced would get you disqualified in the ring.

Sport Karate

  • Emphasis on conditioning and developing good sport appropriate techniques.
  • All kicks must be above the belt. (Certain traditional tournaments allow limited groin kicks.)
  • Strikes executed with padded fists and feet.
  • Goal is to accumulate points to win the match.
  • Training is much like training for any sport such as boxing with a focus on developing techniques allowed under the rules of the game.
  • While these techniques can be effective in the street, you can’t train one way and fight another.

One of the fundamental building blocks of classical karate is an understanding of body mechanics. This understanding should begin to grow on your first day at the dojo. Therefore, it will be the topic covered in the next post.

Isshin-ryu Karate

For other posts on this topic, click here!

Sharpen Your Writing Skills!

Using Twitter to sharpen your writing skills?

But I don’t want to deal with the politics, vitriol. and hatred on Twitter!

Well, you don’t have to.

Yes! Twitter is in the news a lot. We hear about the vitriol and hate some express on Twitter. We hear about the censorship of conservative voices, and now we have just heard Twitter is banning all “political” ads.

It is easy to get caught up in the noise. And, I must admit I have been caught up in it a time or two … or three … or perhaps even four, myself.

However, I am going to try to work on that. Just be choosy in who or what you “follow.”

Now, about those writing skills …

sharpen your writing skills

One thing I really do enjoy on Twitter, is the supportive writing community. And I do participate in several, what I call “prompted Micro Fiction.” How it works is you get a daily word prompt, and you have the length of a Tweet to write a story, poem, or whatever you feel like writing. It is actually quite fun, and it does truly help sharpen your writing skills. I really like the #vss365 writing challenge.

Here a some examples I have written:


#lucid

“Damn! Clovis, that’s one hell of a shiner you’re sporting there! What happened?”

“The old lady asked me if her yoga pants made her look fat, Clem.”

“And, you said yes?”

“Damn, Clem, I didn’t want to lie to her!”

“Not one of your more #lucid moments, Clovis!

#vss365


#strike

Day-umm! Clovis! That’s one hell of a bruise!”

“Yep! It’s part second degree burn too!”

“Dude! What happened?”

“Well, guess I shot my mouth off at the old lady, Clem.”

“So, a bruise and a burn, Clovis?”

“The #strike came while the iron was still hot, Clem.”

#vss365


#verify

“What did the cops want Joe?”

“They needed to #verify where I was last night. There was some kind of upscuddle at the strip club. Told em I was with you.”

“But I was in that upscuddle Joe!”

“The cops don’t know that Clem.”

“I can #verify you’re an idiot Joe!”

#vss365


#second

“Listen Joe, there are two things life taught me.”

“Really? What’s are they Clem?”

“The first is that bills always travel through the mail much faster than checks.”

“And … the #second?”

“Never take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.”

#vss365

Then sometimes, I even let my “romantic fool” side show …


#mystery

I will never understand the #mystery that is a woman’s heart!

She said to me once, “never underestimate the blackness that can be found there,” and then together, we had five of the best years of my life.

Turns out, I should have listened.

#vss365


#longing

There is a longing that cuts deep, to depths of my very soul. I live to again hear her voice, that wonderful laugh, to see her smile. I miss the stars that danced in her eyes. I pray that I will again feel the warmth of her loving embrace.

#vss365


#bottle

I looked over at her, finishing her last shot of Tequila, a sour look on her face.

“What’s up?” I asked. “Don’t #bottle that shit up inside. Let it go! Get it out in the open!”

She did! All over my brand new Nikes!

#vss365


So think about giving it a try!

Some of these Tweets got a really great response. But regardless, it is a lot of fun and a simple way to find out what other people, strangers, think about your writing.

Don’t forget to check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales, available at Amazon.

And for other interesting posts, click here!