Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review

Review of Sue Wang's memoir, Messages from the Black Recliner: A Memoir of Healing Body and Spirit

 Sue WangThere are memoirs, and then there are memoirs. Sue’s honest and reflective memoir keeps true to her message of persistence via love and intelligence. In learning to adapt and unlearn truisms taken for granted, Sue worked hard to break free of constructs that created more trouble than they were worth. With so many challenges in life, it is all the more meaningful that she was so openly raw about some of the most difficult periods in her life. She shares several near-cascading, life-altering moments that can arise in anyone’s life – it is to everyone’s benefit to learn from her experiences. 

Her musings and perspective is as entertaining as it is humorous - her husband, friends, and family are gems of support and consistency. What is most admirable about Sue, is her not recognizing how great she really is, while at the same time, always recognizing how lucky she is to have such devoted and loving people by her side. 

Sue Wang's memoir is an intense and moving journey of healing and growing one's true spirit.

- Adrian Mendoza, author of The Kaleidoscope Series

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Q&A with author A. Umaz

On his latest work, Amagon: The Book of Man

AM:  Thank you for taking the time, let me begin in asking: With Amagon being your break-out novel, what challenges and benefits most affected your work and have you delved into writing before?

AU: The initial idea for Amagon goes back 20 years, to what I originally intended to call The Book of Man.  My intention was to write a novel that gave a new perspective on the true relationship between man’s science and his religious philosophy, and how the two, working together have impacted his evolution and advancement. I eventually settled on the science fiction genre because most of the issues presented are extremely controversial in the present.  I believed that by moving them into a “future world”, readers might be able to consider my arguments more dispassionately.
            As for previous writing experience, I had over the years contributed columns to several small town newspapers addressing contemporary issues, generally in a Twainesquian voice, and submitted and had published a number of humorous short stories to regional publications in the Ozarks region of Missouri.  I also amassed a rather impressive collection of rejection slips from some of the more nationally prominent journals and periodicals.

AM:  What were your biggest influences for having written Amagon, in other words, what motivated or sparked the creativity needed in creating such a world as found in Amagon?

AU:  I have always been profoundly interested in the tension between human scientific thought and human philosophy.  I was raised in a religious environment, but my natural interests were in the sciences.  The juxtaposition of these two worlds has kept me in a state of intellectual tension that needed resolution.  As a result, I have studied deeply the origins and impacts of these two arenas of human thought extensively.  I have come to the conclusion that religion and science are not mutually exclusive, but in fact are complimentary.  I am educated in the sciences and am also an active member of a religious congregation.  I find that both pursuits require reasoning and faith.  In Amagon I have tried to represent a future for man where the power of these two aspects of human existence are melded into one purpose – the preservation of the species.

AM:  Could you describe some of the themes found in your novel and are they centered on the genre of science fiction?

AU: The principle theme of Amagon is man’s migration from a planetary surface to living free in space.  Whereas most science fiction focuses on travel to other planets, using extreme (and perhaps impossible) technologies like superlight travel or matter transport, instead, I focus on the simple notion of escaping the bonds of gravitation and all the effort required to combat it, and evolving into creatures adapted to live in a micro-gravity environment.  This requires some initially invasive adaptations to the organism, both behaviorally and physiologically, like Excision, and various biological supports as the human body adapts to micro-gravity.  Other than that, the major technology is repurposing the materials of planet Earth and other planets and moon in the solar system into manufactured Habitats specifically designed to support biological biomes conducive to human proliferation.    

AM:  Have you considered a theatrical or graphic novel adaptation of your work, and if so – do you have any actors or artists in particular?

AU: I think the only possible theatrical treatment for the novel would be computer animation, done in the style of Cameron’s Avatar.  Because Amagon is intended to portray a hopeful future for mankind, it would be absolutely essential that the production focus on the beauty within the Habitats - the terra, flora, and fauna.

AM:  As an educator, how has your experience transferred into both the creative art of storytelling and the struggle of keeping it relevant to your intended audience?

AU: As a science educator my purpose is to instill in young people the hope that our further understanding of the universe and all within it is the key to happiness.  So often they see each new scientific advancement either weaponized or used solely for financial gain.  I try to encourage them to rise above these primitive urges, and imagine science and technology as the path to our physical salvation.  Of course, philosophically I also remind them that such a path requires faith in the existence of a higher purpose than satisfying our individual wants and needs.

AM:  Who would you say is your ideal reader and what have you learned in having interacted with many of your readers?

AU: Though I believe my work is accessible to many social and age groups, the reader I had in mind is an intellectually curious young adult, probably in college, and making the transition from the culture and ideas held by his family and childhood friends to that brave new world of culture and ideas we invent for ourselves as we challenge the old ideas and go in search of the new. 

AM:  What have you done to attract such readers to your initial effort in what is the first in a series of novels?

AU: I have intentionally avoided promoting my book to my current and future students as a matter of ethics.  I have discussed and promoted my work with past students, many of whom are now in college.  I have also had the extreme pleasure of carrying on some interesting correspondence from college students in several different countries.

AM:  Speaking of your book series, are you currently working on a sequel to your incredible first attempt and if so, when can we expect it to be available?

AU:  I am currently finishing an  interquel to Amagon called The Budding of Ptatkurapki. It  isintended to examine more closely the circumstances from which the Amagon story evolved, and to further explore the deeper philosophical questions of human existence and life in general.  The prequel to Amagon, at this time titled The Last Days of Man on Earth, is in the works. As a full-time educator, my writing ambitions must as yet take a second seat to my obligations to students, so I cannot say with certainty when the work will be forthcoming.  But the story is written in my mind, and only awaits to opportunity to become print. 

AM:  Thank you again for your time, your first novel was entertaining, well-written, and a real treat for sci fi enthusiasts.  
AU:  Thank you, Adrian.  It has been a pleasure.

AM:  A. Umaz can be found on under the imprint of Helios Press as an Independent Authors Cooperative Press (IACP) member and on Goodreads’ authors listing as well as on Facebook and his own website. He is welcoming of fan questions or comments, does not shy away from thought-provoking conversations, and is someone I am supportive of and consider a friend. Remember to get your copy of Amagon: TheBook of Man currently available on Amazon and Createspace in both paperback and e-book versions. Look for book two of the Amagon series: The Budding of Ptatkurapki

Interview of A. Umaz by Adrian Mendoza September 26, 2015.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dolores Avila - Poet and Writer

Over the last few weeks a parceling of goals into ever more subdivisions began taking hold. 

 .This is a good thing. In the process of simplifying the worlds of influence, my appreciation for poetry re-surfaced. Paolo Freire's discussion with Myles Horton later reinforced my line of thinking on the matter but I'll save that for another post. Thankfully, I had kept note of some genial personalities in my mental network and was fortunate enough to reach out to them and actually have them reply. 

Currently, I have some favorites that fall in my go-to-box of meditations. It's a wonderful method for centering and finding peace of mind. One of these poets, a gifted and talented spirit, an artist and writer Dolores Avila, was generous enough to place some of her poetry on a website at Blue Thought. Click on the image to visit.

My favorites on there are Sovereign Woman and City People.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Upcoming Special Screening

There are people who dream about fulfilling certain goals and then there are people who work their dreams and accomplish their goals. An old friend and blood-brother of mine, David Fernandez Jr. -from many years ago now, set out to become an actor and fell further in love with the art of storytelling. His journey is currently one of directing to produce art and producing to support creativity. He teamed up with like-minded individuals and together they brought to fruition a family orientated film: A Father's Journey.

The film's story line from it's IMDb page:

A Father's Journey explores the complicated relationship between a father and his son. A tragic accident sends the father on an unplanned journey in search of faith and healing.

EYL Pictures is presenting a Red Carpet Special Screening of A Father's Journey this coming September 19th in San Diego, the director's own home town. Please come out and support the film, it's message, and the hard working cast who together with the star and director David Fernandez, will participate in a Q&A forum after the film! The more the merrier - the film is family orientated and was created with the message of love as a core theme. Purchased tickets online will be discounted as stated on the flier posted. If possible, please share the flier onto your Facebook pages to get the word out, especially to friends who will be in San Diego on Sat., September 19th 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Xanath Caraza - Poet, Traveler, and Educator

Anyone interested and moved by incredible poetry? Would you love to hear it read by the poet herself? Listen to Xanath Caraza reading some of her poetry at the website: Phonodia. My personal favorite is Tormenta followed by Yanga - a close second. I've had the honor of reaching out to her and am happy to report she has been most amiable and gracious. Thank you so much Xanath, I wish you the best, and continued success. 

Xanath Caraza
If you enjoy her work as much as I do, look out for and pick up her latest work, Corazon Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review

Review of Frank Lechuga's novel, LOM

LOM is a refreshing rush of adrenaline. Bullets spray and radials peel-out as a disciplined warrior seeks justice. Go on the hunt with Pointe as he and his prototype metacar roam about the back-roads of humanity. Set in a future society that has been further segregated into what are called Brown and Green Zones, out-lands are splintered as the Tao of Hwarang is called upon to battle neo-warlords and their gang-banging minions. Lechuga delivers a dystopian world that hits the reader's senses with a vengeance. - Adrian Mendoza, author of The Kaleidoscope series.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review

Review of A. Umaz's novel, Amagon: The Book of Man

Masterfully written. The story carries the reader to another world, a future world, one where humanity searches for answers while clutching unto hope. Faith, reason, and love drive the intriguing narrative as the author reveals his message in an ordered and thoroughly researched manner. Without a doubt, the story is best appreciated introspectively. As with the best of what science fiction has to offer, Amagon keeps stock of the human condition and its limitations concerning societal harmony. In seeking higher truth, the loss of self, is the catalyst to truly living. - Adrian Mendoza, author of The Kaleidoscope series.     

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Creativity - The Mind's Third Rail

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart." - Haruki Murakami 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On Writing - Translation and The Way

Over the last few years, I have dedicated my extracurricular wanderlust to the art of storytelling. When sleeping, I continued to dream of the same world as though it were a past memory. So clear and incredible were these visions that I, who had no prior experience, made the decision to write it out. In near a manic state, I would write down as much as I could remember from these haunting dreams. My time was split between studying storytelling and actively meditating on the gaps in my outline turned manuscript. The results were assembled and the manuscript became a novel. Then came the many levels of editing... while at the same time attempting to market! Things are definitely looking up.

Friday, February 20, 2015

On Writing - A Double-Shot of Perspective.

If there are clams (some extra gas money), then that's fine; if there's spurred emotion (someone says, "Hey, I liked your novel."), all the better.

It continues to be my pleasure to live, research, study, learn, laugh, spend time with my wife and daughter, etc., and I have yet to see the downside.
"Writing is its own reward." - Henry Miller.
"A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom." 
- Roald Dahl

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Feedback and Support - The Crucible of Self-Editing a Sci Fi Novel.

I've updated the first chapters of the novel. Feedback from family, in particular my brother, has been super helpful. I receive these stinging remarks on errors but they're all true. Big brother is watching (1984) alright.

Another big plus is that my sister-in-law is on a promotion tour in the Philippines! She's getting my book out there with my bro-in-law in tow.

Thank you both for your support. I appreciate the efforts that are being made on my behalf without my even having asked. You three have been incredible.

Also - a huge shot out to Nic and Marlina, you two are awesome. Reading, feedback, reviews on Amazon, and selfies to boot! Let's have more of that please. Thank you so much for your support.

More support has come in the form of selfies - many thanks to you all. Also - finished another short story. A collection of short stories, perhaps an anthology?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Human Error - Reading Poetry While Editing

After many edits and rechecking of said edits, I read my work and felt it to be in much need of a complete overhaul. Reading Borges' poetry made me want to improve my "clunky" writing. I recommend his poetry, essays, and lectures. Currently on Chapter 4 - no shame in admitting. My apologies to those who suffered through reading the first edition.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cabin in the Woods - Writing in Nature

North Lake Tahoe, CA

Does a bear write in the woods? Headed up to Tahoe for a cabin retreat with the family for the weekend. I was able to squeeze in some edits and read more Borges during our downtime and before catching some much needed zzz's. Family, wine, and late night movies!

Thursday, January 22, 2015