Sunday, December 30, 2018

News Review

    In Words 


Is there a word that can sum up 2018 better than any other? Or rather, can a single word capture the nerve-racking, chaotic, electrifying, and mystifying events that characterized 2018? Perhaps no single word can properly reflect the 'soul' of this year and the heartbeats it spun. For, 2018, like nearly all the years before it, neither lived up to expectations nor utterly dashed hopes for the future. 

Meghan Markle walked herself down the
aisle to marry Prince Harry at Windsor
In the span of 365 days, a royal wedding which delighted many (but further estranged the bride's family) took place in London; threats of a nuclear conflict vanished like a joke after a made-for-television meeting in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. 
 Singapore - North Korea’s leader, Kim
Jong-un, and President Trump during their
meeting on the resort island of Sentosa.
In Europe and Brazil, political hotheads who were swept to power in a wave of untested populism are now faced with the staggering reality of governing. Between Asia and the Americas, whispers of a trade war between U.S. and China shook global markets. And a migrant caravan at the Mexican border got American political pundits and charlatans arguing right into the midterm elections.

Trump & Putin
In Helsinki, Finland, a high profile meeting between U.S. & Russian Presidents, deemed humiliating for America, set tongues wagging. A dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia in Turkey, and in the messy aftermath, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, lost his credibility. 

Istanbul - A mosque held a symbolic
funeral for the Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi, assassinated in the Saudi
Pittsburgh - Mourners gathered for the
funeral of Joyce Fienberg, one of 11 people
killed in a massacre at a synagogue.
In both the U.S. and the U.K., a record number of cabinet ministers resigned - the former because of the unruly style of governance in the White House and the latter because of disagreements over Prime Minister, Theresa May's controversial Brexit negotiations. In the U.S., mass shootings became a kind of new normal, and a looming government shutdown became an ugly reality in Washington D.C. Now, 2019 awaits its turn...   

The Year in Pictures

The Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was
one of over 150 women who spoke at
the sentencing hearing of Dr.
Lawrence Nassar for sexual assault.
In the first month of the year, after a week of heartbreaking testimonies from his victims, a court in Eaton County, Michigan sentenced Dr. Lawrence Nassar, the former physician for the American gymnastics team to 175 years in prison for sex crimes. 

Genoa - The Morandi Bridge after it
collapsed, killing 43 people and
paralyzing the city.
By February the scene had changed to one of excitement following the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea which, though set against the backdrop of tensions with North Korea over its nuclear threats, riveted the world. February also marked the end of the Castro era in Cuba, when Raul Castro stepped aside as president, ending nearly six decades of Castro leadership on the island. 

Women & minorities made history
as Democrats took back the House
President Trump and VP Mike Pence
meeting with Nancy Pelosi & Chuck
Schumer in the Oval Office.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin won a fourth presidential term, and later in the year, successfully hosted the Soccer World Cup which the France national team won

Not only did Italy missed the event, but it also had a major, unexpected tragedy to deal with when the Morandi Bridge in
Christine Blasey Ford being sworn in
to testify about sexual abuse allegations
against Brett Kavanaugh.
Genoa collapsed. Britain, on the other hand, had reason to celebrate in spite of the uncertainty of Brexit when Prince Harry married his American heartthrob, the Suit actress, Meghan Markle, at Windsor Castle. 

In the U.S., the Republican Party, led by Donald Trump suffered a major setback in the November midterm elections. Though the GOP held
SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh
onto the Senate, the Democratic Party, propelled by many women and minority candidates, took back control of the House of Representatives. And the contentious Supreme Court nomination hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, just before the midterm elections, further divided opinion in the U.S.A.

Kevin Spacey a.k.a Frank Underwood
And as news broke that actor Kevin Spacey will be arraigned on January 7, 2019, in Nantucket District Court in Massachusetts on charges of indecent assault and battery, he released a video of himself in character as Frank Underwood from House of Cards

Notable Deaths of 2018

of 2018
The funeral of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States,
at the Washington National Cathedral
Aretha Franklin - Mac Miller
Anthony Bourdain
Burt Reynolds

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Author Reflections

“A picture is a poem without words.”

- Horace

“The only thing worse than being blind is to have sight and no vision.” 

Helen Keller

“We are all captives of the picture in our head - our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.” 

- Walter Lippmann 

“In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.”

- Xun Kuang

“The picture alone, without the written word, leaves half the story untold.” 

 - James Lafferty

“To send light into the darkness of men's heart - such is the duty of the artist.” 

Robert Schumann

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.” - Egon Schiele

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Inspirational Thoughts

“People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved, and people are being used.”

- Unknown

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” 

 - John Wooden

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”
-  Egon Schiele

“A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” 
- George Edward Moore

To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist. 
- Robert Schumann

“Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.”

- Dylan Thomas

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 

- Albert Einstein

To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

Yann Martel

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” 
- Will Rogers.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

How To Stay Inspired

Washington Irving says Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them.

Put differently, The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. - Eric Hoffer

And as John Ruskin puts it, The highest reward for a persons toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it?” 

In relation to creative endeavors according to Aristotle, it must be remembered that The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

The hardest part of writing is not the conception of a story but the presentation of the story to readers. While it isnt effortless to conceive an ideathough writers are generally blessed with a fertile imagination, which, in a way, is what distinguishes a creative mind from a non-creative onepresenting a story to readers in a way that makes sense to them as it does in your head, in terms of characterization, style, and plot is not easy at all.

Illusion, Voltaire says, is the first of all pleasures.” But thats not all. It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.” 

Herbert Read, of course, agrees with that. The modern work of art, as I have said, is a symbol,he says. 

To send light into the darkness of mens heart - such is the duty of the artist, Robert Schumann adds. 

Henri Matisse acknowledges, however, that Creativity takes courage.” 

If you try, you risk failure. If you dont, you ensure it,” chimes in an anonymous voice. 

Elizabeth Bowen explains that its important because Art is one thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting. 

The purpose of a writer,” after all, is to keep civilization from destroying itself,” says Albert Camus.

Which might explain why Buddha says that Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. 

But what about books? Can reading books, by any chance, be considered living wisely? Cassandra Clare seems to have a unique take on books. One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”  

And sometimes, so do critics. But...
You cant let praise or criticism get to you. Its a weakness to get caught up in either one,John Wooden warns.

The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure of being moved by some very fine things.” Jean de La Bruyère. 

Remember the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

Also, remember...

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” - Aristotle.

AuthorSuite BookQuotes

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Romantic Thriller


Revised Edition 


Click here to Enter Contest

In less than an hour, an innocent girl's dream goes bust, a delicate, interracial marriage teeters on the edge of the abyss, a time-honored friendship shatters, and a family implodes on account of one man's crazy and senseless attachment to a custom that seeks to determine who should be married  and to whom...

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Book Excerpt

The black SUV nosed its way through the evening traffic at Lemon Grove, heading out to Santee at a steady speed. Jessica, ensconced in the backseat, her head resting on Femi’s shoulder, looked up and her eyes lit up with recognition.
She patted Femi on the knee. “We are pretty close now.”
“Yeah, Lemon Grove is the halfway point,” she explained. “We should be about 14 minutes from Santee now.”
“Good,” he breathed, turning a smiling face towards her. “I guess the cab was worth it then.”
“Thanks to VenChemical, wouldn’t you say?” She teased him. “I hope they won’t mind the expense though.”
“Bastards!” He mouthed, averting his gaze.
Jessica squeezed his hand, ignoring the outburst. “If it wasn’t for their money, you know, we’d be taking the 992 bus into downtown San Diego and then changing to ‘the trolley.’
If it wasn’t for their money, we’d not be coming to San Diego in the first place, he mused, but said instead, “What’s ‘the trolley’?”
“Oh, it’s what we call our light rail electric train, the Green line goes out to Santee.”
“I see,” he nodded and turned his gaze back to the road.
The decision to visit San Diego, like most of the choices they’d made as a couple, was a spur-of-the-moment one. And it was made on their last night in New York.
“Seeing as we are already here in the states,” Jessica had said. “How about we make a quick trip to San Diego to see my parents before going on this mission for VenChemical? I mean, we have their credit card, we might as well get something out of it in case it doesn’t work out.”

They were sitting in the elegant cocktail bar of their deluxe hotel, sipping white wine, ogling each other, and evaluating their options. Femi pondered the proposal with a pseudo calm, his head inclined. “I think they’ve already set up that lousy meeting with the minister.”
“I understand that,” Jessica swallowed, studying him. “I was considering of a flying visit, maybe just a day,” she shrugged. “I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to see my dad and mom again.”
It wasn’t the soft tone of her voice, it was the directness of the argument that struck a sensitive chord with Femi. If they went to Lagos, he mused, he’d take her to visit his parents, so it seemed fair for him to make out the time to meet her parents while they were still here. He looked up and grinned. “Yeah, I guess a flying visit will be better than not seeing them at all.”
A smile lit Jessica’s face. She sipped her wine and winked at him. “Okay, I’ll call them.”
Her family home was a three-room fully detached house on two levels consisting of a small, pie-shaped front yard, a remodeled entrance hall, a living room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms with a window, a small laundry room, and a wide, well-tended backyard. It sat in a quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood of Santee right in the middle of the hills.
That evening, her parents—Liam and Melissa Rhodes—were standing in the front yard of their home, surveying the lane when the black SUV pulled into their driveway. Until that cheery telephone call from New York, they had no idea their only daughter was even in the United States. They had figured she was still in Monaco on honeymoon. This visit, therefore, was both a surprise and a delight.

Liam watched the car with suppressed excitement and then turned to his wife with a sardonic smile. “I suppose we have an authentic Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner situation on our hands, eh!”
Melissa frowned. “Let’s be civil, Liam, we don’t know him yet.”
“That’s what I’m saying, we don’t know him at all.”
“I said ‘yet.’”
Her husband shrugged. “He’s the reason she abandoned San Diego State University and opted for a European degree instead,” he mouthed. “He’d better be worth it.”
Melissa opened her mouth to speak but before she could do so she saw the car door fly open before the driver killed the engine, and from the corner of her eye, noticed her daughter jumping out with a wide grin and running towards her.
“Mom,” Jessica cried, wrapping her arms around her.
“My girl!” Melissa grabbed her in a bear hug. As she raised her hand to push a strand of hair from her daughter’s face, the petite cracker detached herself from the embrace and jumped into her father’s arms, causing general laughter.
“Princess!” Liam cooed. “My little princess.”
“Daddy!” She cried, delighting her parents with her childlike giggle. It was as if time had suddenly stopped and spun backward.  

Inside the car, Femi stroked his goatee and stared at them in both amusement and uncertainty, unsure how he might fit into such a picture-perfect family image. For a moment, indecision clouded his vision, and then, exhaling, he opened the car door and stepped out with some care.
On the threshold, Liam, his arm around his daughter, the remains of the smile still on his face, turned his head, training a pair of narrowed, dark-brown eyes on the tall, slim figure walking towards them.
Femi stopped in front of the trio, a look of emotion creasing his face.
“Dad, mom,” Jessica beamed. “This is Femi, my husband.” She held her breath, and in the brief silence that trailed the introduction, said in a voice imbued with contrition, “I know this might appear unorthodox and eccentric and I know I should have given you guys a heads-up about the marriage. I’m sorry,” she breathed. “It’s just that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.”
She swallowed, her eyes dancing, her pulse quickening. Somehow, it didn’t sound right even in her ears. “Listen, I understand how crazy that might sound but I assure you the decision wasn’t prompted by a sudden whim. I mean, we weren’t just being silly. The truth is, when we met in that college atmosphere, both of us being foreigners and all, and able to hold a conversation beyond the usual Italian talking point, the experience created a very special bond between us, the friendship, the complicity, and the shared interests made it really magical, so during the graduation process, we decided to transform our love story into a memorable event, after all, we’d already been together for two years.”
Her parents, momentarily rendered speechless by the curious back-story which, at face value seemed too flimsy to clear up the madness, exchanged glances.
Jessica’s gaze, at last, came to rest on her husband’s face. “Femi,” she cooed, “Meet my dad, Liam and my mom, Melissa.”
“Hello, sir,” Femi, noticeably flustered, darted a quick glance at his father-in-law—a short, portly man—before turning his gaze to the rotund, matronly figure beside him as he received a look of careful appraisal. “Ma’am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Before Liam could react, a smiling Melissa stepped forward. “Hello Femi,” she said in a soft, casual voice, ignoring the outstretched hand. “Welcome. You know you are not photogenic at all,” she breathed, grabbing him in a warm embrace. “You look much better in person.”

Femi smiled. “Thank you.”
“Mom, don’t say it like that,” Jessica cackled. “He’s vain, it’ll go into his head.”
Liam, unable to help himself, gave a short, throaty laugh as Femi turned a goofy smile toward his wife, and then the duo, bubbling over with suppressed amusement, made a face at each other, causing a surprised Melissa to convulse with laughter. It was in that brief visual exchange that Liam sensed, not the chemistry, but the artless spark of friendship between his daughter and the man who made her opt for a European degree.
His hand around his daughter’s shoulder went slack. His body, tense from the moment Femi stepped out of the car, relaxed. He exhaled, and with a little pout, reached out and clasped Femi by the shoulder. “Welcome to the family.” 

Video Book Trailer - Black Gold

“Black Gold is chock-full of lyrical imagery and metaphors. Frequently, the result is beautiful.” 

J.W. George | Author

The language is flowery and evocative. Every scene, every setting, every action, every emotion, is described in luxurious detail, with perhaps more similes than I’ve ever encountered in a single novel.” 
– Dave Saari | Author

“I like the trouble this interracial marriage caused when the couple met Femi’s parents and I enjoy the scenes set in Italy; the author’s knowledge of the country make them believable. He also puts his poetic ability to good use and there are lots of examples of this in the descriptive sections.” 
Rosie Amber | Roses are Amber Book Club