Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: Z is for The Z-Factor by Mickey Mills


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013


Z is for...The Z-Factor 

by 
Mickey Mills

For you math geeks out there I am not talking about the measure of statistical effect size. Any statistic not involving runs-batted-in or lap-times on a race car has the numbing characteristics of Novocain, guaranteed to close my eyes faster than granny’s Thanksgiving turkey dinner. A statistical Z-factor is reserved for the domain of math wizards and prognosticators.

For you geometrical pundits, I’m not talking about the Z dimension either, although it is much closer than the aforementioned Z-factor. It does involve measurement, not necessarily in numerical increments like inches or millimeters. It’s more intangible than that – it’s emotional and spiritual.

I’m talking about that thing inside us. It’s the thing that says I’m going to be an artist, or a doctor, or a soldier, or any number of noble, or not so noble endeavors. It’s the thing that says I am going to be pleasant to talk to or a conversational cripple.

If we relate it to the geometrical metaphor, there are the X and Y dimensions of our lives, the mundane information which pushes us into a cubby-hole from day one, with X being specific, unchanging details carried with us from birth canal to coffin. Not being cliché but things like: Who’s your daddy? Who’s your momma? What color is your hair, your eyes, your skin? Do you talk like Tinker Bell or Ty Cobb?

On the Y side it’s things like – where you went to school, what kind of foods you ate, the people you associated with, the movies or TV shows you liked or disliked. It’s the teachers you admired and the teachers you hated, the sports you played or the music you listened to. In many ways from the crib to high school and beyond, the Y’s molded your Z, like writing the screenplay which would become the theater of your life.

The Z-factor is related to character, feelings, wants, desires, and other emotional substance. It’s not a constant and it drifts in amplitude and direction through the years, but at its core, the Z-factor is your life’s rudder. It tries to steer but it fights a constant battle of external influence. Like the wind and current pushes against a ship’s rudder, your pathway is cleared or barricaded by forces we can’t control.

The moment we leave the warmth of the womb and inspire our first breath our Z factor is beginning to shape our future. The last thing we do in this life is expire, we exhale that last breath, the chest stops rising and falling, and at that moment our Z-factor is complete. So between inspiration and expiration our lot in life is to learn, to be, to do, to grow, to serve, to live, to laugh, to cry and ultimately to die.

At that instant my hope is the good of my life far outweighs the bad. To that end my Z is my compass.

Mickey & Pearl in Colorado - 2009
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Mickey Mills has published at EveryDayFiction, Write-in Magazine, Everyday Weirdness and other others. His debut novel, Haunting Injustice, has been described as: “…a bona fide page-turning thriller.” His follow-up novel, Haunting Charleston sits unfinished in the crevices of a spinning electronic disk begging for completion.

He lives in Shawnee, Ok. When not writing or making a living designing world class PowerPoint presentations and graphic art, and the weather allows, he might be found on a remote highway somewhere working Pearl’s odometer ever closer to 100,000 miles.



Monday, April 29, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: Y is for Yahoo by Leona Pence


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013


Y is for...Yahoo

(Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle)

by
Leona Pence

I let my mind wander through a whole list of Y topics before settling on one that does affect me and millions of others. I can only touch on the far-reaching branches that make up the world of Yahoo.

Yahoo was founded in 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo. It was incorporated in April 1995 and investors of Sequoia Capital funded Yahoo with an initial amount of nearly two million dollars. It’s an American multi-national internet corporation. Yahoo is a web portal and search engine which boasts of 700 million visitors to its sites per month. Its original name was David and Jerry’s Guide to the Worldwide Web, but they wanted a catchier name. Using the dictionary, they chose Yahoo for its meaning: unsophisticated, rude and uncouth. David and Jerry are now billionaires. They had a vision that paid off.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Yahoo Mail and the Instant Messenger. The groups are also very popular, and I’ve just discovered there are many available to authors, even genre specific groups. We can read Yahoo news, financials, advertising, online mapping, sports, and do video sharing with ease.

My favorite Yahoo programs are the Yahoo Messenger with chat formats, both with typing or video and sound. The SMS (short message service) texting feature is very important to me because I’m deaf. I can text anyone’s cell phone if it is internet enabled, and their reply shows up on my Yahoo Messenger in a chat format. I thought it was just in the US, but I chatted with a friend in Turkey using SMS texting – completely free of charge. You simply click on a friends name on your messenger list and scroll to: send SMS message.

My friends know I am addicted to Yahoo Pool. I play on a league in the evenings to relax, and I’m good at it. Yahoo has hundreds of game sites, and many games, including pool, can be played directly from the Yahoo Messenger. I’d be glad to teach you messenger pool, but only if you can promise not to become addicted like I am.

I use Yahoo on a daily basis to stay in touch with friends and family. I’d definitely be lost without it.

****
Leona Pence started reading romance novels as a teen. She graduated from Nancy Drew stories to Harlequin Romance, and then to her favorite author, Barbara Cartland and her vast Regency romance collection. Happy endings were a must.

Leona began writing late in life after the death of her husband of forty-four years. They married on her 19th birthday after a three month courtship – and yes – love at first sight really did happen.

She enjoys reading, writing, online pool, and especially being a Mentor in F2K, a free online writing course.

She recently signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing for her romance novel, Hemphill Towers. It is tentatively set for release in ebook format in late summer 2013.



Saturday, April 27, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: X is for Xylophones by J M Gallagher


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013



X is for Xylophones

by J M Gallagher

My freshman summer in college, several friends and I took a road trip to the beach. On the way, we played a game where we had to come up with a title for the letters of the alphabet. Amanda got X. After a pregnant pause, she dramatically said, “Xylophones: The Untold Story.”

The xylophone is probably one of the most underappreciated instruments. On the surface, it seems kind of boring and unnecessary. It’s almost never in the spotlight. No one brags about being first chair xylophonist (no offense, percussionists). You don’t hear critics lauding the xylophone solo in the third movement. Would you even notice its absence from a symphony?

My mother and I once saw Richard Wright in concert at the local university. Among other things, he played vibraphone (a relative of the xylophone) for Pink Floyd. I remember thinking how weird that
was—not the first (or second or third) instrument that comes to mind with a group like that.

But when he played, I could see why they used it. Plus, his skillful control of four mallets was fascinating to watch. I had a hard enough time using two in elementary school music class.

Xylophones are included in a piece of music because they play an important role. They add a distinctive sound that enhances the entire experience. Much like friends in life.

My first introduction to Amanda was actually two years after she moved next door. We attended different high schools, and I was moody enough to not care about making a new friend. Then we both transferred to the local high school. But while she rode the bus, friends drove me, so our paths still didn’t cross. One day, I was walking through the hall and heard this chipper voice say, “Oh! There’s my neighbor. Hi, neighbor!”

Who can resist that?

Over the next few years, we became good friends. Her zany sense of humor hit me between the eyes. Like the time she played chicken with our parked car, sprawling herself across the hood. Or the time she drew dripping globs under the sealed flap of an envelope. Another time it was a magnifying glass
in one of her letters—she then “zoomed in” on a word by writing it in large letters.

Eventually, she moved out of state, and we grew busy with our own lives. I’ve never forgotten her impact, though. She was a refreshing breeze on a sunny day, a skillful brushstroke that added to the masterpiece of my life.

And yes, I would sorely miss the absence of her well-placed notes from my symphony.

****

J M Gallagher fancies herself a xylophone—not in the spotlight much but delivering just the right note at the right time. While music is in her blood, writing is her passion. She writes contemporary romantic fantasy for the adult market. She knows fairytales come true because Prince Charming swept her off her feet, and he came with his own wheeled coach. Find out more about her adventures on her Blog Facebook and Twitter.

WEEKEND Spotlight: Nature - Reflections of Our Lives by Rebecca Barray

About the Book:

The beauty of nature, reflecting the milestones of our lives. Rebecca Barray takes you on a photographic journey of life, as shown through the world around us: birth, betrayal, love, passion, and old age.


Artist’s Statement:
“Nature: Reflections of Our Lives” is a collection of nature photographs depicting the milestones of our lives. This work contains photographs of nature, symbolizing events from our lives, such as birth, love, betrayal, passion, and old age. It opens with a landscape of the sunrise and a seed sprouting from the soil. It closes with a fall forest scene and the night sky. The middle contains  images of the world around us that represent common life events.
This visual delight would make a GREAT gift!!

 ***Leave your NAME & EMAIL in the comments below for a chance to win one print copy of the book. Drawing 5/4/13***

Here are just a few of the gorgeous photographs (all images copyright of Rebecca Barray):

Blush

Melancholy

Looking Back

Shine

Imagination

Betrayal

  ***Leave your NAME & EMAIL in the comments below for a chance to win one print copy of the book. Drawing 5/4/13***

About the Artist:
Rebecca Barray is a mommy, writer, reader, photographer, and perpetual student. She spends most of her time chasing toddlers, but her precious free time is spent writing, photographing, and learning as much as she can about anything. She has three energetic children, a fun-loving husband, a messy cat, a lazy dog, and some very resilient fish.
Rebecca's Blog: 

Buy the Book: 



















Friday, April 26, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: W is for Women by Von Rupert


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013



Women Are My Tribe
by Von Rupert

Women are beautiful. Without makeup. Without pretense. Without covering their mouths when they laugh.  Without a man, without children, without hurting other women.   

 Women are beautiful.  With breasts that are big and breasts that are small, with breasts that don’t match (because really they do), with breasts that have been rebuilt.   

Women are beautiful.  With wrinkles, and pimples, and scars.  With all three.  With glasses, with braces, with wheelchairs.  With brown hair and gray hair, with straight hair and curly hair, coarse hair and fine. With no hair. 

Women are my tribe.

Lotions won’t make you beautiful. A diet won’t make you beautiful. A pair of jeans won’t make you beautiful.  All those companies with their flashy ads won’t make you beautiful. For ten bucks they’ll steal your confidence and sell you a bottle of crap and swear it’s the fountain of youth. 

None of their models look like you.  None of them look like me.  I’m not that skinny or that blond or that tan or that black or that curvy or that anything.  My smile isn’t that perfect, my lashes aren’t that long, my skin isn’t that smooth.   

I wasn’t conceived in a computer—photoshopped, cropped, and whitened--and neither were you. 
Enough!

Enough of their ifsIf you wear this bra, you’re beautiful.  If you buy this cream, you’re beautiful.  If you starve yourself, you’re beautiful .
   
You ARE beautiful.  

Courtesy: Dove's True Beauty Campaign
Your beauty flows from your mind and your heart as it swims with your soul.  Your beauty whispers and shouts through your outlook, your deeds, and your passion. Beauty throbs outward and inward through our tribe like heartbeats, like drumbeats.  Like thunder.

Women, it’s time. Lift our tribe up.  We’re connected, all of us, like those paper dolls we used to cut out, the ones with hands touching.  What you say to one, you say to us all.  Don’t be so quick to criticize.  Don’t be so fast to slap one of our own against the bathroom wall.   Don’t poison our tribe to be cool, to be loved, to be bigger.   Be a woman who lifts us up and doesn’t shred us down.

I am woman; hear me roar for other women.  I am smart. I am beautiful. I am the shared heart of us all.  Women are my tribe.  They are my midwives.  They are my doctors.  They are my teachers and scientists.  They are my comedians and my mentors. They are soft arms holding me, fierce legs guiding me, sweet words lifting me.   

I am their breasts and they are mine, and we need to nurse each other until we’re all bursting with the knowledge that we are strong and beautiful and more than enough to save this world.  

I am Rehtaeh Parsons. I am Sojourner Truth—“ain’t I a woman!”  I am Marissa Mayer.   I am Dr. Vandana Shiva.  I am J.K. Rowling.  They are my mothers and my sisters and my daughters. I AM and they ARE and you ARE. We are ONE, and we are a tribe.

And we’re beautiful.

****
 
Von Rupert is a wife, mother, writer, and podcast producer.  She mentors other writers at Bob Hembree’s free writing course, http://writersvillage.com/f2k/   You can find her blog at  http://wheretheshadowsmeetthelight.blogspot.com/  and her flash fiction stories at http://www.everydayfiction.com/

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: V is for Vampire Seduction by Tara Fox Hall


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013



THE THIN RED LINE, PART II: VAMPIRE SEDUCTION
by Tara Fox Hall

V is for vampire, yes. But what other v-words have to do with our favorite seductive men and women of the night? Vespertine, which means of or pertaining to the night. Vicissitude, a variation in conditions and fortune at different times in a life, a marked part of most vampires’ tales. And we can likely all agree on virgin, victim, villain, vigorous, vengeful, vigilante, vindictive, vicious, voracious, and violator as also pertaining to the vampire legend. It’s the last I want to focus on here.

            The seductive power of the vampire has been part of the legend since the beginning. In Stoker’s Dracula, we see the inability of the virginous—and sometimes not so virginous—to resist becoming Dracula’s victims. Again and again, the heroine Mina pleads to be spared, only to eventually succumb to the fateful bite of our villain of the night. Its left up to her vigorous and vengeful truelove Jonathan Harker the solicitor turned vigilante, to save the day. Part of the zeal that Harker draws on to confront his foe is vindictive; he is defending his wife from a monster that has taken her against her will, not to mention endangered her very soul. By Stoker’s version of events, Mina did not want or ask to be seduced; Dracula forced her--through beguilement, strength and magic—to accept his embrace, to endure him to enter her body with his own in a manner that has a sexual aspect to it. We say that he seduced her, but is that really what happened?

            There is a thin red line between what we see as violation and what we see as seduction. Rape in a strong word that evokes immediate strong feelings from most anyone who reads it. A forced sexual attack cannot be condoned by anyone with a shred of decency. But we vampire fans view seduction differently, don’t we? The true definition of seduction is “to lead astray, to corrupt, to entice with false promises into a course of action that is against proper conduct (ie, wrong)”…which sounds pretty dark. So why are we vampire fans cheering for what amounts to a voracious defiler? The complicated answer is because we no longer see the vampire as a determined violator, ugly with evil intent. Instead, he is the handsome prince of our dreams, one who pushes us to the limits of ecstasy, but no further than we in our secret hearts want to go. This dark hero merely wants to show us the delights that immortality has taught him, the undreamt pleasures our bodies are capable of if only we permit his touch. He is “safe” even as his smoldering gaze promises he’ll make all our fantasies real. He would never truly endanger or hurt us…right?




***Comment on this post to win this Gothic cross necklace and earring set!***






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Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventureLash series and the vampire romantic suspensePromise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

 Tara's Facebook Page:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: U is for U-Inspired by Ey Wade


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013




U is for...U-Inspired 
by Ey Wade


I have so much to say about the letter ‘U’. Beginning with the fact it is the perfect name for that unexpected quick turn in the middle of any street when you are lost. It is the saving maneuver from any incident or situation in which you find yourself cornered. You can just turn around and start over. Never stopping, never giving up.

‘U’ will save your life. When you feel unloved, unwanted; ‘U’ will unite you with people you would never have imagined yourself connected. And the relationships will be wonderful. No one is unfriendly when you are around.

When you feel you are small and unimportant…here comes ‘U’, trotting along to uplift you with the glories and wonders of the Universe. All that is small is neither lost nor useless. U will show you how unique you are among the many who strive to accomplish the same goals you seek.

‘U’ will be undaunted, unbreakable, and unbeatable in its determination to help you become
successful in all of your heart’s desires.

In the end, ‘U’ unveils itself to show in life it is always and always has been behind YOU and you should trust and believe in yourself.

****



Ey Wade is the single parent of three awesome young women, whom she homeschooled through high school and the grandmother, ‘Lovey’ of a little boy. She is currently the author of nine books written through various genres’.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: T is for Taking Terrific Photos by Rebecca Barray


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013


T is for...Three Tips for Taking Terrific Photos
by Rebecca Barray

Everyone takes pictures. No matter what your talent level, whether you like to photograph people or things or even nature, and whether you use your phone’s camera, digital or film: you've probably taken a photo. Here are three tips to make your pictures look absolutely terrific!

1. Get Closer!
Simplify. Keep your photos uncluttered. You just need one thing to focus on. Too much other stuff in the frame will only distract from your main focus. 

So, get close. Closer. Now, get even closer and you might be close enough. Really get in there. Fill the frame with your subject. Cut out anything that doesn’t add to the composition, all the extraneous.


2. Get Out of the Middle!
Put the subject off center. You want to draw the eye away from the middle of the image. 

This is a variation of the rule of thirds. Use those guidelines you see in your viewfinder that divide your view into horizontal and vertical thirds. If you don’t have those lines, just remember to stay out of the middle. 

If you are photographing a person, remember: face the space. It’s a little awkward to have someone facing out of the frame with their back to majority of the picture.

3. Grab Your Camera!
This is the most important tip I know. You can’t take a photo if you don’t have your camera. Most of us have cameras built in our phones, and if that’s all you have, it’ll work. But if you have a nicer camera, why not use it? But to use it, you gotta have it with you. 

I keep mine on the bar between the kitchen and living room, for those opportune childhood moments, or disasters, whatever the case may be. When I leave the house, I throw it in the camera bag and take it with me. Usually. But of course, every time I forget it, I see something awesome, and wish I had it with me. 


Okay. Now that you’ve got a few things to keep in mind, pick up your camera! Go outside and find some flowers that haven’t quite bloomed yet. Or, follow your kids and/or pets around for a while. They tend to do interesting things every few minutes or so. Or,  just look up. The sky is one of my favorite subjects, because the light is always changing.

Feel free to comment with any questions or tips of your own! I’m happy to help in any way I can. 

****


Rebecca Barray is a stay home mother of three (four if you count her extremely child-like husband). She is a writer and photographer, and a lover of learning. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Becca's Blog. If you need some tips for more complicated shots, like night and action photos, she did a series on exposure at Wordsmith Studio

Check out Rebecca's new photo chapbook, 'Nature: Reflections of Our Lives' here: https://www.createspace.com/4194284?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

Get 15% OFF with this code!!!! TANSUZBU

Monday, April 22, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: S is for Seeking Stories in Sleep by AJ Joseph


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 


Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

S is for...Seeking Stories in Sleep 
by AJ Joseph

Many places and situations inspire the stories I write.

I could be in my car, stuck in a dreadful traffic jam, wishing I could teleport to my destination and a Sci-Fi story about the gross misuse of teleportation in the very distant future would emerge.

Or I could be in my garden wrenching out the weeds while swatting away pesky mosquitoes that somehow sensed the second I stepped outside my house and proceeded to converge, and a story about mosquitoes taking over my town would come into being.

But my best story ideas come to me when I’m on the verge of sleep or, when I’m drifting out from sleep.
Words would glide through my brain as I dozed off. It could be an amazingly insightful conversation between two friends. Or it could be a description of a character that I would’ve loved to have gotten to know better.  
When this happens, I’d debate if I should get up and write them down and risk not being able to go back to sleep (I’m a chronic insomniac).

Or just go back to sleep and hope that my not-so amazing memory would prove me wrong and I’d remember the words in the morning.

'Winter Dreaming' by Josephine Wall
Naturally, sleep would always win. And I’d never remember those amazing lines that could’ve been in an amazing story that I would’ve written.

As the sleep versus memory battle continued to wage on, and stories slipped through my fingers, I decided enough was enough.

That was the start of me bringing stationeries to bed.

Hence, my bed is littered with a journal, sticky and non-sticky note pads, pencils and pens in various colours (because I get bored writing with the same coloured ink).

Now, when awesome words makes its appearance known to me when I’ve turned out the lights and ready to depart to dreamland or when I’m reaching for consciousness in the morning light, I’m ready.

I’ve got pen and paper in hand (actually, under my pillow) ready to snag those words before they flit away. Gone are the days (and nights) of stories escaping me.

Sleep, bring on the stories.    

****
AJ is a bookaholic, semi-insomniac, unsuccessful recovering java-holic and most importantly, an aspiring writer. She's been in and out of writing almost all her life, trying to fit it in between work and travels. She's recently decided to give writing her all and is in the process of re-structuring her life around her first love - words. She blogs atwordsfromsonobe.wordpress.com.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: R is for Retirement by TJ Marshall


It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 

A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE 2013


R is for...Retirement
by TJ Marshall

The day after my high school graduation, I woke up to a very stern father staring down at me.  With blurry eyes and a fuzzy head, I sat up in my bed and stretched, yawning away the sleep that still lingered.

“Okay, I’m up.” I said, expecting my father to walk back to the living room and continue whatever he usually did in the morning.  Instead, he stayed; standing like a behemoth, with narrowed eyes as if daring me to move.

“What is it?” I was a bit worried by this time, thinking I may have been caught in one of my many misdeeds.  Although my ceiling fan cooled my room, sweat still found a way to bead against my skin.

He didn’t say a word, only pointed at my lap where five brochures had magically appeared.  I picked them up and read the headings: Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard.

Finally, my father spoke, “You need a ride?”

At the time, I was bewildered and a bit upset that my father wanted me to join the military, and expected me to do it immediately. But if it hadn’t been for his (oh-so-subtle) hint, I may not be the person I am today.

That event took place twenty-four years ago.
Since then, I’ve served in the Army, and for the most part, I’ve loved it. It gave me experience, financial stability for my family, and the knowledge that I can do anything I put my mind to. As the years passed, though, I’ve found myself having more and more difficulty keeping up with the youngsters who join.

So, with my head held high and honor intact, I recently submitted my paperwork to retire from the
Army at the end of March 2014.

With that submission, an old foe appeared, one I hadn’t thought of in over two decades – Uncertainty.  My mind is plagued with it: What do I do next? How do I make that happen? What should I do if my plan fails?  But it all bears down to: how do I take care of my children after I get out?

Fortunately, I do have a plan. I actually have more than one, along with a myriad of contingencies for those if they don’t work out right. I’ve spent countless hours in one briefing after the next, learning how to prepare, and have more scheduled for the coming months. My calendar is full of job fairs, work seminars and resume classes. I’ve bookmarked so many job market websites, I’ve had to create a new folder to hold them all.

Despite the briefings, every mile walked at job fairs, and the countless hours spent browsing the internet; retirement still remains a frightening uncertainty. It’s a nagging, slightly demented, psychopath who whispers disaster in my ear, as it laughs at my futile attempts of preparedness.

Some days, I think it would be nice to wake up with my father standing over me, brochures in hand, and offering a ride. 

****
TJ Marshall is first and foremost a father.  His two youngest girls act as his motivation, muse and at times, proofreader.  He is preparing to self-publish his first novel titled, Finder Tome, due to be released in June 2013.  Most days, when not at work, he can be found in front of his laptop, arguing with one character or another about the next scene he plans to write.