Saturday, April 29, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Daily Zen - Friday, April 28

Success is liking yourself,
liking what you do, 
and liking how you do it.

~ Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Daily Zen - Thursday, April 27

We have advantages. We have a cushion to fall back on. 
This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. 
Something rare and wonderful. It's almost historically
unprecedented. We must do extraordinary things.
We have to. It would be absurd not to.

~ Dave Eggers

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Daily Zen - Wednesday, April 26

There was no such thing as perfection in this world,
only moments of such extreme transparency that you
forgot yourself, a holy mercy if there ever was one.

~ Ben Fountain

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Daily Zen - Tuesday, April 25

You don't have to be equal, you don't have to be better,
you don't have to be worse. You can just be at peace.

~ Gil Fronsdal

Monday, April 24, 2017

Daily Zen - Monday, April 24

In difficult times the stress of trying to 
find solid ground — something predictable and 
safe to stand on — seems to intensify. 
But in truth, the very nature of our existence
 is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, 
whether we're aware of it or not.

~ Pema Chodron

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Zen, April 22-23

The thing is to be matter what. 
Just try that. You can. It gets to be easier and easier.
It's nothing to do with circumstances. You wouldn't
believe how good it is. Accept everything and then
tragedy disappears. Or tragedy lightens, anyway, 
and you're just there, going along easy in the world.

~ Alice Munro

Friday, April 21, 2017

Life's a Mixed Bag, Ain't It?

Today I received two deliveries. The first delivery was a piece of mail from the IRS that said I owed $12,000 for my 2015 federal income taxes. Based on my income (or the general lack thereof), I suspected this had to be an error, a mistake compounded on on top of another mistake. Nonetheless, I pooped my metaphorical pants.

After chewing off some fingernails and stress-chugging my coffee, I dug through a couple of adequately maintained file drawers to retrieve my tax paperwork: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010...can you see where this is going? Every year present and accounted for, except 2015. More metaphorical pooping. But okay, I keep electronic records, too.

I booted up my laptop and opened my "Taxes" folder. And there it was, right there where I left it —my trusty 2015 Federal Income Tax .pdf file. Thanks, TurboTax. I reviewed my 1040 form, did a bit of online research, and chomped on my remaining fingernails. Son-of-a-bitch, I had, indeed, made a reporting error related to some (not shady, I swear) investment decisions in late 2015. Next, I called the Merrill Lynch 800 number and spoke to my finance guy, the recent college grad who answered the phone at the call center. After a few minutes of blame avoidance, he said something like, "It's probably okay. But you know, check with your tax guy because that's not my expertise." So I called my tax guy. "Dad," I said, "you aren't going to believe this shit."

My dad, who was at lunch with my mom, empathized with my frustration and angst, and patiently listened to the full story. He asked all the right questions and reassured me. Now I won't bore you with more minutiae about my 2015 tax filing, but suffice it to say, my dad ultimately agreed with the Merrill Lynch guy, and then said something like, "It's probably okay. But you should call the IRS." So, I did.

I dialed the number provided on IRS Notice CP2000 and, not surprisingly, encountered a hellish phone tree. I muttered under my breath and anger-mashed buttons as I navigated my way through a maze of insufficient choices, until at last, I found Bob. His voice was a summer breeze, warm and pleasant, and he brimmed with competence. I explained my situation to Bob who quickly grasped the nuance of each detail. "It's okay," he said. "Just send us that 1099-B and we'll re-calculate. Capital loss, something, something, something. You'll get a check for $300-400 in a few weeks from the IRS."

I'll get a check...I'll get a check...I'll...get...a...check. The words swirled in my head like a feather, then floated to a quiet gentle rest in my consciousness. "Bob,"I said, "I think I love you."

It was after noon and I had only just gotten off the phone with Bob when the doorbell rang. Another delivery. I ran to the closet and snatched a pair of jeans from a clothes hanger (don't judge...I was "working"). I pulled on the jeans and raced to the front door. No one was there, but a medium-sized padded envelope had been left on the mat. I remembered what day it was. My heart raced.

You've likely figured it out by now, probably saw it coming just like that missing 2015 tax file. I carried the package inside, placed it on the kitchen counter, and stared at it. This moment had been a long time in the making, and I considered waiting for someone else to come home before I opened the package. After all, getting published is a group effort. But writing is lonely work. I gently unsealed the envelope, slid out the contents, and held in my hand for the first time ever, a printed copy of my book.

Solid Ground is available in print and ebook 
at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. 

Solid Ground - Giveaway Winners!

We have three lucky winners in the Solid Ground Giveaway contest! 

Congratulations to Dina Mellor, Mitch Watt, and Mary Lowery Good! I'll contact the winners via email shortly, and they'll each receive a digital Advance Reader Copy of Solid Ground today!

Incredibly tough day for everyone else (I'm sure?). In case you forgot...

The ebook of Solid Ground releases on Monday, April 24th, and can be pre-ordered now from AmazonB&N, and other online retailers.

The print version of Solid Ground can be purchased now on Amazon and should be available later today from B&N and other online retailers.

Oh, and if you'd like to get your copy signed, just click here!

Happy reading everyone!

Daily Zen - Friday, April 21

Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness,
or whatever form the suffering takes.
Witness it without labelling it mentally.
Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender
transmutes deep suffering into deep peace.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Daily Zen - Thursday, April 20

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do
if the stars only came out once every thousand years.
No one would sleep that night, of course. The world 
would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic,
delirious, made rapturous, by the glory of God. Instead,
 the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

~ Paul Hawken

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Daily Zen - Wednesday, April 19

It is a serious thing 
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.

~ Mary Oliver

Monday, April 17, 2017

Solid Ground - Free Book Giveaway!

UPDATE (April 20): The print book is here! You can now order a paperback copy of Solid Ground from Amazon for $14.99. The print version will also be available for order from B&N and other online retailers tomorrow!

Solid Ground will be officially published on Monday, April 24th and I’m so excited about sharing the book with the world that I’ve decided to give it away. Well, not to everyone, but to three of you. 

Register HERE for a chance to get an electronic copy of the book (free!) a full weekend before anyone else gets theirs.

This Friday, I’ll randomly draw three winners who will each receive a digital Advanced Reading Copy. If you’re interested, be sure to sign up before midnight (Pacific) on Thursday, April 20th.

PS: In case I haven't shilled enough can also pre-order a digital copy of Solid Ground now at Amazon, B&NiBooks, and lots of other places online.  Oh yeah, and here's a reminder of how you can get your copy signed.

Thanks everybody!

Daily Zen - Monday, April 17

The aim of spiritual life is to 
awaken a joyful freedom,
a benevolent and compassionate 
heart in spite of everything.

~ Jack Kornfield

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Solid Ground: Pre-Order Links and Other Fun Stuff

UPDATE (April 20): The print book is here! You can now order a print copy of Solid Ground from Amazon for $14.99. The print version will also be available for order from B&N and other online retailers tomorrow!

On Monday, April 24th, you’ll finally be able to see what I’ve been doing since I left the bookselling business and fully immersed myself in the book writing business. In choosing a plot and theme for Solid Ground, I took the advice of Toni Morrison and others, who essentially say, write the book you want to read. I like to read books about how human beings struggle, how imperfect we are, how much we get in our own way and screw up our own lives, but within all that, despite all that, how we also find moments, even years, of enlightenment, happiness, and love. So, that's what I endeavored to write. I hope you find my efforts to be a worthwhile investment of your reading time. Honestly, I did my best not to write a shitty book.

Digital versions of Solid Ground can be pre-ordered now for $6.99 in most of the places you can buy ebooks, including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc. You'll get the ebook on April 24th.

Print copies will be available for order for $14.99 on Thursday, April 20th  at Amazon and from B&N and other sites on Friday, April 21st. If you order by Thursday, you’ll likely have it in your hand when it releases Monday, and possibly even a day or two earlier.

Signed Copies
I was amazed (and genuinely thrilled) that more than a hundred people responded when I asked who’d be interested in getting a signed copy of the book. If you weren’t just being kind, look for details soon on how to get your signed copy. And if you were just being kind, thanks for that too.
(But buy a copy anyway. Seriously. Buy it. Even if you don’t read it. Buy it. It's big, use it as a doorstop. And if your doors don't need stopping, stash it in the attic, you know, like a keepsake.)

Giving It Away
(the book, not the ending)
One last note, I have three digital Advanced Reading Copies I’m GIVING AWAY next week BEFORE the RELEASE DAY. Stay tuned!

Thanks everyone!

Daily Zen - Friday, April 14

When you let go of the belief that 
you should or need to know who you are, 
what happens to confusion? 
Suddenly, it is gone. 
Defining yourself through 
thought is limiting yourself.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Daily Zen - Thursday, April 13

Whether we are aware of it or not, every path 
of every human being is a spiritual path, and
every path is both personal and individual.

Although surely the spiritual aspect of some paths
 are extremely well-disguised, sometimes almost 
in spite of ourselves we are all growing spiritually.

~ Thomas Ashley-Farrand

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Daily Zen - Tuesday, April 11

Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness.
It comes from letting the world tickle your heart,
your raw beautiful heart. You are willing to open up,
without resistance or shyness, and face the world.
You are willing to share your heart with others.

~ Chogyam Trungpa

Monday, April 10, 2017

Daily Zen - Monday, April 10

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary,
that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, 
friends, and family, in one's backyard.

~ Abraham Maslow

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekend Zen, April 8-9

The most important thing in life is
to learn to how to give out love,
and to let it come in. 

~ Morrie Schwartz

Friday, April 7, 2017

Daily Zen - Friday, April 7

I try more and more to be myself,
caring relatively little whether 
people approve or disapprove.

~ Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Daily Zen - Thursday , April 6

Watch out for intellect, 
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.

~ Anne Sexton

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Solid Ground - On Sale, April 24th!

Photo: Kyle Sheridan
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Holy crap, I'm almost published! On Monday, April 24th, my book Solid Ground will be released by NineStar Press.

I've shared the cover photo and a few details about the book on Goodreads, but many of you have asked for more information. Well, alright...

About the Novel
Solid Ground is the story of Conor McLeish, a middle-aged guy with a kind heart and an unfortunate Jameson habit, who simply wants to be a better man. He has a steady job, a Buddhist boyfriend, and a published debut novel, but he's weighed down by a secret and a truckload of emotional baggage he's carried from his youth.

As his fortieth birthday nears, Conor wants nothing more than to move ahead, to stop sabotaging his life and finally gain his footing. Life's not perfect though, and neither is Conor. He is his own worst enemy, and he continues to stumble over his hard-earned dysfunction.

Much of the novel is set in central Florida, where both literal and metaphorical alligators roam the riverbanks. Solid Ground is an intimate human story, a tale of personal evolution, that a wide audience can connect with and enjoy. The book is both dark and humorous, similar in tone to the works of Jonathan Tropper or John Irving.

Solid Ground is a work of literary fiction, and if I've done it right (and I think I have), it will feel like real life – full of smiles, dreams, tears, laughs, regrets, loss, dysfunction, love, and maybe, a bottle or two of decent whiskey.

There you go. Now, if you want more details, you'll have to buy the book and read it for yourself!

Coming Soon
Next week, I'll share links to Amazon, B&N, and other online retailers where you can pre-order/ buy the book in eBook format for $6.99 or in paperback for $14.99 (it's not published in hardcover).
For those who are interested, I'm also standardizing a process for getting signed copies!

Daily Zen - Wednesday, April 5

There is a master key to success with which 
no man can fail. Its name is simplicity....
reducing to the simplest
terms every problem.

~ Henri Deterding

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Daily Zen - Tuesday, April 4

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and freedom.

~ Viktor Frankl

Monday, April 3, 2017

Daily Zen - Monday, April 3

From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling 
sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to to
the people and events in your life. You can either 
give negativity power over your life or you can choose
happiness instead. Take control and choose to 
focus on what is important in your life.

~ Anaïs Nin

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Weekend Zen, April 1-2

We ought to view ourselves with 
the same curiosity and openness with which 
we study a tree, the sky, or a thought, 
because we too are linked to the entire universe.

~ Henri Matisse