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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Great Black Hope

The Great Black Hope is my first published book. It actually comes in two covers. Some critiques believed that the cover on the right was too dark because the football player looked mean. Well, football players tend to look like this! This is an actual photo of the main character. 

This novel is quite a bit different than Native Hope, my current project. It is a nonfiction novel. Yes, it's 100% true!  The Great Black Hope received a lot of attention from TV and radio media because it is such an inspiring story. Here is the synopsis:

Tony is an African-American high school student and a stand-out high school football player on track to participate in college football and, possibly, the NFL. Tony and his older brother learned the social dynamics of surviving on the inner city streets while fostering their love for football. Then his brother, who is also his best friend, went away to college on a football scholarship and Tony found himself alone. He fell into a deep, life threatening depression when faced with the fact that he was illiterate; he may never graduate from high school and realize his dream of a career in the NFL.

Follow Tony's plight from utter despair to a life full of hope and personal victories when he asks a Science teacher to teach him to read. God challenges the teacher to choose: Tony's life or her career. She chooses Tony's life and many miraculous occurrences intercede in Tony's life to pave the way to his victory!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How Death Entered Mankind: A Polynesian Explanation

Yesterday and today, I am working on incorporating an ancient Polynesian tale in Native Hope. The story tells of how DEATH entered the world of mankind. I found it interesting that the story had many parallels to the Christian/Jewish story of Adam and Eve, although the ancient Polynesians were not exposed to Christianity at the time the tale was established in the South Pacific.

In ancient times, man strove to explain natural phenomenon, such as the weather, crop growth, reproduction, seismic activity, and much more through observations and story-telling. Telling stories was,not only educational in those times, but a source of entertainment. Many of these stories created order in their lives. Most of the stories are centered around their Polynesian gods. The ancient Polynesians were polytheists; they believed in many gods. Each god had its own specialty: War, Speech, Fertility, Sky, the underworld, etc. Maui is the King of all the gods and was recognized by native communities stretching from the Maoris in New Zealand to the cannibals in Fiji to the natives in Hawaii. 

The picture is of Maui, King of the gods, holding up one of the islands in the South Pacific. Part of the tale explains that Maui fished up the South Pacific Islands from the bottom of the sea with a special fish hook. Maui was afraid the islands would sink back into the sea, so he supports them from underneath. Sometimes he falls asleep and snores so loudly that the people on the island feel the snores as seismic movements. The natives strike the ground with their clubs to wake up Maui and stop his snoring.

Monday, January 12, 2015

You are the captain of your ship

I just finished the book, The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical book by Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath was a renowned poet and received many awards and acclaim for her work in the 1940's and 1950's. I hated the book. To me, it was a compilation of haphazard self-absorbing thoughts randomly presented. Also, the tone of the book was very cynical,  and Sylvia was very critical of everyone in her life. It is no wonder that she was committed to a mental hospital in her later years in college! On February 11th, 1963, she committed suicide, leaving two small children and an estranged husband. This is a very abbreviated story of Sylvia Plath.

It took me a little while to realize that the title, The Bell Jar, was ingeniously created to show how a person, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, views her life experiences through the distorted lens of a bell jar. Images and perceptions are grotesquely shaped! 

Sylvia and the rest of us in the human population experience ups and downs: some are severe and others are lofty. It is the extreme highs and lows that impact us the most. Sylvia was one of the most renowned poet/writer at her peak. Yet, she suffered setbacks, such as the early death of her father during her childhood, a large quantity of rejections from noteworthy magazines during her pubescent writing career, bouts of severe illnesses, a miscarriage and her marriage separation. These lows would send Sylvia back under the bell jar, sending her to an insane asylum for 6 months and later   to her death by sticking her head in an unlit gas kitchen oven while her children played in the other room. She died from asphyxiation.

DO NOT FOLLOW THE STEPS OF SYLVIA ! You are the captain of your own ship. You can determine how you will react when others mistreat you, or when you suffer a devastating failure.  So many variables affect a person's life that you cannot let what they do destroy you! Everyone is fighting a war. If you do your very best and work to the best of your ability, you cannot do better than your best.  Think about it! It's impossible to do better than your best. Accept the outcome and look forward to your next experience.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cannibalism- the ugly truth

Cannibalism in some of the Polynesian Islands was an accepted cultural practice during ancient times up until about the late 1800's. As I conduct my research, I find the practice was so prevalent that I hesitate to give my readers the full picture of life on these islands. My dilemma right now is : How much gore to include in Native Hope without compromising the historical integrity of the book?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An out of body experience

My tutoring business is in full swing again - . Yes, authors/artists must be able to pay the bills. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) had a rich wife to help him along financially, although he was employed from time to time with various printing companies before Huckleberry Finn became popular. James Patterson, who worked by day as an attorney and by night as an aspiring author, used his 1st print editions of his books as doorstops in his office!

The other night, I felt like I had an out of body experience when I couldn't go to sleep thinking about the details of Chapters 1 and 3. Instead of analyzing it in an academic manner, my mind made me see the developing story in video form. I was there as an observer experiencing the entire drama as it unfolded ! Wow! It was good. The next morning, I frantically put to paper everything I saw.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Inspiration

Some of you may wonder what inspired me to write the historical novel, Native Hope, that takes place in Polynesia. About 10 years ago, I coached a U. S. tennis team that trained in Sigatoka, Fiji and competed in Brisbane, Australia. While training in Fiji, I met a Fijian native, who found me when I became lost in the jungle during a hiking excursion to some caves in the interior of the island of Viti Levu. We walked together for about 45 minutes discussing each other's cultures as best we could, given some difficult language barriers. What transpired after that first initial meeting will be contained in the third book in the trilogy, Native Hope - Modern.

Below are some pictures I took of some native Fijians with whom I associated as I traveled the Fijian Islands. The last is a picture of the Rewa River, I believe. I traveled down this river on a concave boat made of bamboo poles bound together with fiber roping. The boat seemed to be upside down! Boat riders sat on the apex of the curvature of the boat secured only by frictional forces, while natives on each end pushed the boat downstream with long bamboo poles stuck into the mud of the river's bottom.  As we slowly cruised down the river, a young male boy about the age of 10 swam up to boat next to me and flashed me a grin that contained the whitest teeth I've ever seen. We disembarked at a village where I would meet the village chief and share a bowl of kava, Fiji's ceremonial drink.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Research is nearly over and the writing begins

Ah, the pre-Christmas mayhem is over! Now, I can continue again creating Native Hope. I've done a mountain of research to gain the correct historical background for this trilogy. The first book in the trilogy, Native Hope - Ancient, has an historical background that takes place in 1500 B.C. . This fictional story takes place on one of the inhabited islands in ancient Polynesia. I think you will find it interesting how people lived in those times and the communities they formed.

I'm a great fan of world history now. I've read a lot of books on some of the great world leaders, such as Russia's Catherine the Great and the Romanov dynasty, France's King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, South Africa's Nelson Mandela, Poland's Lech Walesa, Egypt's Cleopatra, Italy's great saint- Padre Pio, America's Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, among many others. I wanted to determine what motivated them to become leaders and find a common thread that separated them from the common man/woman. Native Hope has given me the impetus to explore the great leaders of the South Pacific, who were mostly powerful tribal chiefs.