What I Read

I’ve been asked before what kinds of books do I read, and my answer always comes as a surprise. I describe my reading as being all over the place. I read everything that peaks my interest. In my library, you will find positive thinking books, self-help, fiction, physics, science, religion, classic works, reference books, financial education, and even fairy tales. I don’t think I have a favorite genre or category; I read what seems interesting. The fiction category is very wide, and I prefer mysteries but will also read inspirational stories, as well as light hearted ones. I stay away from romances unless they are more infused with mystery, adventure, or the supernatural. I don’t like overly romantic novels, and certainly dislike explicit ones or erotica.

Over the past couple of years I’ve read a lot, mostly with the intention of going through the backlog of books that have piled up over the years, although I am always reading something. I like to read hardcopy. I tried to get used to e-format but could not. I found myself losing interest in what I was reading, and even not wanting to go back to the ebooks I had started reading. I honestly don’t know why this is, and if I have not embraced e-reading by now, it is not going to happen. I find that I have a short attention span for e-reading but I can sit with a book in my hands for hours. In the meantime, I am not buying any more books until I force myself to make a dent on my library shelves. Instead, I will keep a list of new books I want to read. Some books I will keep, some I will read a second time, and other books I will give away. I will keep antique tomes because they represent a collection I’ve started and would like to keep growing. I will keep any new editions of the classics.

I am also not a fan of audio books, unless it is in the self-help/positive thinking category. When I used to drive everyday to work, I listened to those, but not so much these days. These days I’d rather sit with a book and enjoy the feel and scent of its pages, the scent of a story.

One of my oldies

The Day I Almost Died

This is a short story that came to me this morning, and I decided to include it as today’s blog post. It is a bit grim but not so grim. Eventually, I would like to publish a few of my short stories in an anthology. I hope you enjoy this one.

It was a sunny day; I saw it cloudy. The silence was too loud inside my head. The stillness, a cloak for the raging waters of my soul. I glanced outside my window. The trees moved to the gentle breeze as a dance of death began inside my head. I could hear the deaf sound of loneliness; it had become my lullaby. Isolation became the clothes I wore daily. I searched the empty corridors of my heart over and over; I found nothing. It had morphed into an empty shell of despair, a chamber of hollow beats. There, I found nothing that would justify the next heartbeat.

A chilling breeze danced nearby; Death awaited. I could feel her mutable presence begging me to speed up the process. I was ready. How did it get to this moment? Did it matter? I didn’t require an answer. An answer made things complex. I heard the doorbell. I ignored it. It rang a second time, and a third, until it became noise. I placed the gun next to an empty picture frame. Somehow, I never got to place a picture in it. I counted twelve steps to the door. I opened it. I didn’t bother to bolt it anymore. I had no cares. I forced a smile. It almost hurt at the corners of my mouth. No one was at the other side to return my crooked smile. I looked around; no one was there. I stepped out on the front porch. No one was there.

I saw a splash of red fluttering to my left. A cardinal perched on the Forsythia bush surely made a nice contrast to the bright yellow buds. How did I never noticed that before? Something scurried up the old cedar tree. It was a squirrel, then came another, and they chased each other up and down the old cedar.

“That old cedar must have seen so much,” I mumbled.

I sat on the front steps. A crow marched unpretentiously on the horizon. It almost shimmered as the sun hit its feathers. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin. How long had it been? A busy party of little brown birds scattered throughout the ground looking for food. A reddish wasp rested atop a chair, as if thawing from a frost or waking from a dream, its wings resting downward. The sun’s warmth felt good on my skin. Everywhere I looked I saw signs of life. Life was everywhere; I could see it if I cared to see it. I felt something fuzzy rubbing my leg in a rhythm.

“Where did you come from, lil’ fellow?”

The disheveled black kitten was skin and bones; I could count its ribs. It kept rubbing against my leg, and I could hear a faint purr becoming louder. It was so tiny. I picked it up and it nuzzled against my arm, then it nestled. I sat out there for a while. The kitten fell asleep in my arms, and I observed the rhythm of life around me.

“What am I going to do with you lil’ fellow? It looks like you will be needing me for a while, at least until you fatten and grow up a bit more.”

The crow restled with a worm until it came out of the ground. The squirrels moved on to another tree.

“What should I name you? Hum, let me think. Aha, you shall be called Rigor, but we’ll leave the mortis out; how is that?”

Rigor became my inseparable friend for the next 15 years. To all, he was a black cat; to me, he was life, and a constant reminder. During that time, I never found out who rang the doorbell.

My Obsession with Westerns

I don’t know how it started, but lately, I have been watching the old westerns. It has become an obsession. I cannot get enough of Bonanza, Wagon Train, and The Rifleman. I love the story line on these westerns, but also, I find myself mesmerized by the background in a scene – the furniture, décor, especially in La Ponderosa. Love that place. This has peak an interest in possibly exploring western novels. I have not read many western novels; in fact, I have only read one, which I enjoyed very much – The Last Hunt by Cliff Burns. I also love the cover.

Other than that, I have only read western comic books when I was a kid. One thing I remember, and that is my grandfather and I watching together western movies and series on TV when I was a child. It brings warm and happy memories.

There is something spellbinding about a western. Its uncomplicated simplicity and easy flow takes me along for the ride. It feels natural. It is like a fresh breath of air. Will I ever write a western? I don’t know. I would have to read plenty of them (and I mean plenty) before attempting such an adventure.

Millennials

The other day, I was thinking about previous generations, as well as historical novels. I am not sure what prompted the thought, however, it took me all the way to the Millennial generation.

Usually, there are many generations represented in a story. Writing characters that are defined by their generation is not an easy task. In memoirs, the generational gaps and influences are more easily identified and naturally present than in a work of fiction. Futuristic stories present a challenge when timelines cross, even when a futuristic novel is all made up as far as time, place, and life of the characters, in general. All this made me think about my generation as well as one generation that in my opinion, has been misrepresented – the Millennials.

I am from the later years of the Baby Boomer generation, one of the largest and most talked about generations in the USA. Baby Boomers have met their counterparts in the sense of a most talked about generation, and much has been said about Millennials. Unfortunately, not all positive, and many times disserving.

Millennials were born between 1981-1996. Many points of view describe Millennials in a negative way, from being lazy to overly sensitive, and many other labels in between. Many times, when I hear someone complaining about Millennials they are unknowingly referring to someone who is from a post millennial generation. It seems to me that Baby Boomers and Millennials tend to clash the most. I think Baby Boomers have a hard time passing the baton, especially, to a generation that likes to do things differently.

There are many things I love about Millennials. I love that Millennials are very creative. They seem to enjoy the process of finding new ways, especially when things that were done “the Baby Boomer way” do not work for them. Society has changed so much in the past few decades, and many of our societal rituals and processes have undergone dramatic changes, many times due to technological changes. What worked for Baby Boomers may not work as well for Millennials. Many of them might see our system as broken.

Millennials seem to operate more openly, in general. They seem to view their day as a whole. I find that my generation compartmentalized everything – work, home life, social life … . One of the biggest sins in the “work life” for my generation was to bring your personal life to work. Your personal issues were very private and should remain so. Millennials are not bothered by this, and they do not understand why an older person might be annoyed by this behavior. This wholesome and open approach to living engulfs many facets of the Millennial’s life. I love that they seem to find time to have fun while living. Baby Boomers scheduled fun for a more appropriate time – when they were set in life financially or on a well deserved vacation. Baby Boomers worked hard all their life, many times postponing the joys of living until the golden years. Of course, the times, challenges, and the economy were different those days, and this post only makes a general comparison between these two generations. It is not meant to be judgmental of any generation.

I love that Millennials see the world in a global way, less regional. We are one planet, and that makes sense to me. They love to travel and explore, and see traveling as a way of life, not as a vacation. This view makes them more open to other cultures. I love that Millennials seem to process information differently than previous generations. This fast and focused way might render them insensitive to previous generations sometimes; even labeled as having no good manners. I am not a scientist or in the medical field, but I have read that the brain constantly makes connections and those connections are based in part, on outside stimuli. We can all agree that things have changed a lot in the past few decades. I love that Millennials have a sense of humor, a bit different, and it might render them insensitive to previous generations as well.

Many Millennials are parents by now, others are starting careers, and in a way, one day they will become the Baby Boomers of future generations, and maybe then, we’ll understand each other better.

How do you represent a particular generation in your novel?