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Sunday, September 11, 2016 7 comments

We Will *Never* Forget

(This is the annual "reprinting" of my inaugural post on Sept. 11, 2011 - lest one day I forget why I wrote it.)


The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.

September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."

Source: Anthony Grimley
Five months prior to 9/11, I was new to California, but had met several fellow Irishmen at a pub or six, which networked into an interview with a starched suit who looked me up and down to see if I could sell gold coins.

"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the then-uninformed American sports fan.

My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so it was no skin off his nose.

See, they call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two of them in for me. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales they'd receive all the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.

That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)

I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.

As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.

In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."

So today, as always, I'll wear my then-new Liz Claiborne NYC skyline-themed shirt that I bought because the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the foreground. (It was only on the first anniversary of 9/11 that I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.)

I'll also reflect on how I awoke that day thinking only about me, but ended that evening thinking only about "U.S.," and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.

May God bless the souls of all those lost on September 11, 2001, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harm's way while the rest of us scream just to get the hell out of there.

Thomas J. Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP

Friday, February 26, 2016 16 comments

Open Letter: Happy 6th Birthday-- No. 2 Son

Aloha, No. 2 Son:)

Hey, don’t roll your eyes too much! I wrote a whole series about you and your brothers on my blog (when you were younger.) I’m simply protecting your teenage years!

See what I mean :)

I know you’re six today, but the never-ending Internet gets confusing and I’m probably using bigger words than Ms. R. in Pre-K would suggest I use.
(I don’t mind if you read this in a year or ten—I only hope that you do, because I want you to know that I really miss you on every day that we're apart.)

Like your brothers, I’ve written open letters to them here on my blog, and like them, I can never, ever forget the day you were born.

Your Mama and I were a little worried, because we already knew you were bigger than your kuya, but it was still a shock to find you were nearly three times as big as your brother.

From the beginning, you were always the quiet one, the most introspective one, but gosh, Son, you never missed anything once it peaked your attention.

I will never, ever forget that when you were an infant, Mama or I would give you a bath, and then more often than not, I would steal you to my chest—because it was time to take a nap. (Of course, we both fell asleep, but shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.)

I remember thinking so many times, as you grew from an infant to toddler, and now to the young boy you are today that I am so lucky to be your Papa.
Life can be tough in a stroller... or not!

We’ve definitely had so many adventures, and gone on a lot of fun, field trips.

I love you so much, Son.


(As time goes by and 2026 rolls around… I’m talking to the older No. 2 Son when I write this….)

Listen, Son, don’t ever forget that we all have choices in life. I hope you can one day forgive me for leaving, and please don’t ever blame Mama for the choices I made. In fact, I want you to stay strong for Mama—and always, always keep her safe and defend her honor.

I love you so much, Son, and I’m sorry I’ve missed being there for your birthday today, but always know that your spirit burns a special place in my heart—and it’s a light that will never dim or flame out.
Even though things have changed, your laughter brightens up my day—and it always will.

Your smile is contagious—and gives me hope for the future whenever I see that glimmer in your beautiful brown eyes.

Your quiet strength, your always-listening skills, your fantastic memory, these are unique qualities I wish I had—as a grownup.

I’m not there for you every day, Son. I changed your life, and that of your two brothers, and I'm so sorry.
When you’re older, I’ll answer all your questions, I promise.

You are one of the few true loves of my life, Son, and I sincerely hope you have a very happy sixth birthday today.

And, as time passes, I hope that all your dreams will come true.

Love, Papa

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 25 comments

IWSG - Submitting Pages to Agents at Conferences


It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group today, led, as always, by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

As is my wont, I'm keeping it simple.
Simple insecurities simply make me think I can handle them easier.
Simple solutions for a simple guy.

I'm heading to San Diego next week to once again participate in the Southern California Writers' Conference. This is my go-to conference, and I'm excited for several reasons, mainly because this time I'll be attending as a published author, now that REVIVAL is safely out there in the world.

However, this also means I'll be submitting sample chapters of separate novels to several agents -- and for the first time I'm submitting fiction that is all me.

No more memoir-writing.
No more "hiding" behind someone else's story.

It's time to walk the walk, and we'll see how my writing is received.

What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, January 14, 2016 13 comments

Guest Post: "Passion Frees Our Soul, Feeds Our Characters"


Anna Simpson is here to share about passion in her work, and about her new book.

Thanks, Mark. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Have you ever been called over dramatic?
Funny because that phrase has followed me throughout life. It wasn’t until I took up writing where these raw feelings came in handy. It’s like a superpower. To use it for good it must written, capturing the passion.
It pushed me to leave home early and explore the world. I didn’t get far—just to Vancouver, Kelowna, Oliver and home again. No matter where I went people were the same. They loved, hated, struggled, and thrived.
Meeting them marked me.
Some say that putting passion in your work feeds your characters and brings them to life. It also frees the author. My characters can do whatever it takes to get rid of their nightmares, or baggage. Through them, so do I. Like I said it’s therapeutic.
Where do you put your passion? Tell me I’d love to know.

Purchase Links:



Kobo Books

About the Author:

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.
She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

Friday, January 8, 2016 6 comments

Fun Friday with the Really Real Housewives


Finishing a fun week, I'm guest posting for the last time with the Really Real Housewives:)

The Housewives are Tara Tyler, Liz Seckman and Ashley Chappell, (and they are always interested in guest bloggers. You can find more info here.)

Today's post is a free for all Friday, so you know I'm going to be on my most serious and best behavior.

You can read my guest post HERE.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 19 comments

IWSG and "Wellness Weds" w/ the Really Real Housewives


It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group today, led by the steamed Alex J. Cavanaugh (so much healthier than frying him…)
This month’s insecurity is an “easy” one. I’ve made it a goal to finish two half-written WIPs this year.
That’s it. Simple.
But will it happen... ???
Continuing from Monday, I'm guest posting today and Friday with the Really Real Housewives.

The Housewives are Tara Tyler, Liz Seckman and Ashley Chappell, and several months ago, they came up with a great idea of sharing their life experiences in a fun environment.

My post today is based upon the idea of Wellness Wednesday, (or trying to stay healthy as the weekend is nearly here!)

You can read my guest post HERE.

Monday, January 4, 2016 9 comments

Hangin' with the Really Real Housewives :)


To get the new year off to a fun start, I'm guest posting today, Wednesday and Friday with the Really Real Housewives:)

The Housewives are Tara Tyler, Liz Seckman and Ashley Chappell, (and I'm apparently the first male guest host, so blame me, not them:)

Today's post is about making the most out of Mondays, (or trying to forget the weekend is nearly a week away!)

You can read my guest post HERE.

Friday, January 1, 2016 10 comments

Let the 2016 Smile Challenge Begin...


I'm simply excited to get the New Year off to a smilingly excellent beginning...

I so don't need any stinking teeth to be cute :)

It's freezing, but I'm a boy. Cold does me no harm!
I'm just the best superhero ever. Why not smile!

The Angels went on to beat the Evil Empire in this ALCS playoff :)


Ok, maybe not everyone is smiling, but Pooh Bear's girlfriend *will* laugh :)

You go ahead and *Grab* those rays, son :)

...Wishing you and yours the *very* best for 2016.
May all your writing and non-writing dreams come true :)

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