Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Blog Awards

My blogging buddy Michael Abayomi (whose blog, if you haven’t checked it out before, it really amazing – check it out here) has gifted me with the 7x7 Link Award. Thanks so much Michael! It always feels so wonderful to receive an award from a blogger you respect and whose blog you enjoy reading. The rules for this award state that I need to list (and link) existing blog posts I’ve written that fall into the following seven categories. So here goes:

Most Beautiful Piece

Most Helpful Piece

Most Popular Piece

Most Controversial Piece

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece

Most Underrated Piece

Most Pride-Worthy Piece
Of everything I've written on my blog, I take the greatest pride in my Sci-Fi from A to Z series (part of the Blogging from A Through Z Challenge hosted this past April). Many of those 26 pieces focused not only on science fiction books, movies and television shows, but on the serious questions the genre poses. Particularly, what does it mean to be human? Because so many of them were written as part of a series, I'm having a hard time picking which one in particular I find the most pride worthy. I hope you'll forgive me for picking three . . .

I hope you enjoy these posts! And here are a few blogs I’d like to pass this award on to:
Julie Tuovi at From Pen to Paper
Andrew Leon at Strange Pegs
Rusty Webb at The Blutonian Death Egg
Joshua at Vive Le Nerd
Danielle B. at Entertaining Interests
Kaye Draper at Write Me

And a special thanks to Kaye Draper for also awarding me with another Liebster Award!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spain and a Few Patronus Moments

Apologies for my resent absence from the blogosphere. I’ve been in Madrid with my best friends Annie and Tina, and took a nice extended break from all things internet related. But I'm back now, and before my life becomes a little too normal, I’d like to take a quick moment to talk about something I like to call Patronus Moments.

For those of you who haven’t heard me talk about this before, a Patronus Moment is an occasion or incident so wonderful it would evoke a Patronus. (For those of you who don’t know what a Patronus is, go read Harry Potter. Immediately.) Extraordinarily, while I was in Spain I experience not one, but two of these moments, and I thought I would share them.

The first happened during one of our day trips to Toledo. Called the City of Three Faiths, it’s home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen. Nearly every wall displayed vibrant stained glass windows, the ceiling was high and vaulted, and in the center was one of the largest organs I’ve ever seen. I’ve long thought the organ one of the most visually arresting instruments, and this one was stunning. I spent several minutes walking around, observing it from every angle. And then, just when we were about to leave, a priest sat down and began to play.

In all my years of travelling I've never heard anything more beautiful. I've been to more cathedrals than I can count, but never once have I heard the organ played while inside one. It was such a surprise, and more moving than I can describe. It seemed to rise up to the very highest reaches of the vaulted ceiling, echoing across all the sightseers and worshipers and pouring right through me. There's really no  words that can capture what I felt at that moment, but I know that I'll remember that feeling for all my life. 

The second Patronus Moment is somewhat less surprising, but no less extraordinary. After a long day of sightseeing and a short rest in our hotel room, my friends and I were working up the energy to go out for dinner. As the three of us discussed places to eat while we surveyed the clothes we’d laid out, I felt more and more worn out. But still I tried to rally for Annie and Tina’s sake, not wanting to disappoint them. I therefore could not have been more thrilled when Annie tentatively suggested that we could always just order room service for dinner and stay in the watch the Spain vs. Ireland EUFA soccer game (which, as a fan of both Spain and Ireland’s national teams, was exactly what I’d wanted to do).

We wound up having the best time eating peanut butter sandwiches, hamburgers and fruit in our pajamas and cheering on our favorite players. For all the amazing places we went during the trip and all the amazing sights I got to see, it really might have been my favorite moment of the trip. In the end, it’s nice to know that I can be just as thrilled looking at palaces and cathedrals as staying in with my two best girlfriends and shouting at a soccer match.

Anyway, it’s back to normality for me. But here’s a few memories to hold onto until my next great adventure . . .
Annie, Tina and I at Madrid's famous Plaza Mayor 

Madrid Palace just before sunset

Annie and I taking a break (and revealing our true colors) in Segovia

My newly acquired palace in Segovia 

The beautiful organ in the Toledo Cathedral I mentioned above

Tina and I in front of an awesome mural in the Madrid subway

Me, Annie and Tina in front of the Roman Aqueducts 

The incredible Toledo Cathedral 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Ray Bradbury

The first Wednesday of the month means it’s time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I would normally talk about my current struggles on the path to publication, but today something else has occurred that eclipses my everyday fears and writing hardships. Today I leaned that Ray Bradbury has died.

It’s always a shock to learn that one of your idols has died, but for me this death is particularly sorrowful. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is one of the first science fiction novels I remember reading for a school assignment, and has stayed with me ever since. While I’m not sure I comprehended it in its entirety as a child, I later recognized it as one of the first overtly political novels I ever read, and perhaps my first experience with social commentary through fiction. It inspired an early love for dystiopian writing – which while wildly popular today in the young adult market, was much more obscure when I was in middle school – and I still read Fahrenheit 451 at least once every year.

I’ve since read many other of Ray Bradbury’s works, and he remains one of my favorite authors to this day. And as ridiculous as this may sound to all of you out there who love reading novels on your Kindles, Nooks and iPads, one of the main reasons I’ve refused to purchase and e-reader is an fervent fear that they’re the first step toward the eradication of print books – a fear first that’s origins trace back to the very first time I read Fahrenheit 451. Of course in the novel books were banned and burned as an act of government censorship rather than the product of digital technology . . . but you can never be too careful.

Every writer has an idol they hope they one day live up to, and Ray Bradbury is one of mine. And while I doubt I’ll ever come even close to his literary excellence (a writing insecurity of mine), I’m so grateful for the influence his novels and short stories have had on my life and my work. 

Ray Douglas Bradbury 
August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012
Rest in Peace