Livy, Exceptional or Impossible?

KeiraKnightley3It seems the greatest controversy among the readers of Ticket to Ride is the believability of the first chapter. Without giving away what it is exactly, (I don’t want to spoil the book for those who have yet to read it), I will say there is an interesting dichotomy between the two camps. And I must preface the following statement with a caveat: I mean no offense.

In speaking to, and discussing this topic with, those on both sides, I’ve discovered that most readers with college degrees (and actually studied for them) find it very believable, no questions asked. Those who don’t find it believable, in general, have not furthered their education.

This is interesting to me because I believe it underscores one of the greatest problems we face in the 21st Century: Can we understand each other’s points-of-view if we come from largely different economic and educational backgrounds? Many of you will say: yes, of course, look at the progress we’ve made in terms of the acceptance of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Perhaps the next greatest obstacle will be in America becoming the “class-less” society that is, or was, the ideal of so many early Americans. Can the “blue-collar” class see eye to eye with the “white-collar” class and vice versa? Is the decline of the “middle-class” a factor? Should the “blue-collar” class seek only that level of education that Thomas Jefferson said was “necessary to their station in life?” Or is it that everyone in America could benefit from a classical education beyond our high schools? The next question might be: Would this make seeing eye-to-eye more likely or would further education make the “blue-collar” class feel more deserving, and justifiably so, of a better position in life, and therefore create greater tension? Given the current economic stratification of our society, there is no room for everyone to become a manager, or an owner, or a CEO. So would further education “spoil” those in that part of our society who, by virtue of our society’s structure, are destined to stay “blue-collar” and therefore, by their refusal to accept their station, create a hole that could only be filled by migrant workers or those who shrug off the notion that more of anything is better (in this case education). And given our societal model, someone also has to be unemployed. Who would that be in this new model? Perhaps the shift would be that the unemployed would be made up largely of this newly educated “blue-collar” class who has found no “upward” mobility. This raises two more questions: Might there be room in a future America for everyone to attain the “American Dream?” And further, should we want to attain it? These questions push the discussion into more philosophical waters and the subsequent questions become perhaps more abstract and Thoreauvian, or, esoteric in nature.

Needless to say the question of class is a tough one and, since I don’t have all the answers, and it’s probable that no one does, I will leave you with this: My uncle Russ, God rest his soul, made the following statement quite a few times in my life and the gist of it stuck. He said, (and I’m paraphrasing here), “whatever you decide to do or be in life, try to be the most educated one. Whether you’re a plumber or a carpenter or a chemist or an accountant, always try to better yourself by furthering your education.” Having heard this for the first time probably twenty-five years ago, I still can’t find any problems with his statement.

And it’s really too bad that the average American and, for that matter, the average World Citizen has allowed themselves, voluntarily or otherwise, to become the illiterate majority, not unlike those in the dark ages who could be made content with pretty pictures and the “Word of God.”

And as always, I must say: As much as I appreciate you’re reading my book, bear in mind I receive no royalties from it since the government has seen fit to embezzle all proceeds from all of my creative works via digital syphons.

Final Judgment?

After months of waiting, the reviews are finally starting to come in. And what a welcome relief to learn that, as yet, none are bad. Second only to finding an agent, seeking reviews is the most nerve-wracking, mind-bending process that a writer can undertake. Interestingly enough, I’m finding that oftentimes, reviews say as much about the reviewer as the subjects they review.

Nothing’s final of course. The reviews should be coming in all summer. And as always, I welcome your feedback. See ya next time.

Here are the first two:

from The Book Buff (3 Stars)

The story was nice, and overall, the writing was nice…
… the style and characters grew on me to form an overall engaging book…
My favorite part… the Rock and Roll references, as I am a HUGE fan of classic rock! Reading and music are my two favorite pastimes, so any combination of the two is all right by me:) Overall, I am going to give Ticket to Ride a 3… definitely worth a read.

from Mike Burns on (4 Stars)
[Ticket to Ride is the story of] 2 young aspiring writers from separate parts of the world in the 60s and 70s. Each is affected drastically by tragic events in their youth. [Having] had the world figured out … they are left with only questions about themselves.

Morgan and Livy [then] travel the world to find out who they are and what they believe in.

I would recommend this book for the average to experienced reader… A book you can [read] in a weekend… great for a relaxing getaway.

Reminder: One dollar for each paperback sold goes to Teen Challenge!

And as always, I must say: As much as I appreciate you’re reading my book, bear in mind I receive no royalties from it since the government has seen fit to embezzle all proceeds from all of my creative works via digital syphons.


Guest Blog: Care To Communicate? by “Krafty Kitten”

Writing should be an important topic in schools, but the more I teach, the more I realize it’s not stressed nearly enough. This month, I am teaching a “Fundamentals of English” college course. This course teaches the basics of English to students. I cover parts of speech as well as basic writing skills, and I try to do it in 12 hours a week for four weeks.

Really, it’s not nearly enough time. The students need more time to practice, more time to assimilate the information, and more work to do. In some cases, I deal with students who don’t have a clue what a complete sentence is, let alone how to identify a run-on sentence. There are also students who just don’t grasp why the parts of speech are important, even after I give my puzzle analogy. I tend to work my tail off these four weeks and go home exhausted every night, but I also find it more fulfilling than the higher level classes.

Continue reading “Guest Blog: Care To Communicate? by “Krafty Kitten””

The Third Time Is So Much More Than Charming

In addition to the blessing of being able to sleep in on Father’s Day, bestowed upon me by my son and, aside from the fact that he’s the best kid in the world, I, yesterday, was also given one of the best gifts a writer can receive. A reader of mine came into my place of employ, and told me that, not only had she enjoyed Ticket to Ride, but had just finished reading it for the second time and was now going home to enter into it for a third.

It’s moments like these that writers live, and write, for. Thank you Rebecca, you made my day, and my week for that matter. I may now have to enter into the daunting task of finishing the sequel. If for no other reason, but that readers like Rebecca will eventually tire of the first. What a wonderful dilemma. This will go along way in dispelling that terrible writer’s disease called doubt. (Please see “When the Amazing Happens” for more about Rebecca).


The Awakening

In chapter 4 of book 2 Livy has come to a crossroads. Having written countless shorts for the New Yorker, she’s tired, frustrated and bored. As it seems she’ll never get a chance to write something of substance, she’s decided to go home and leave her fate in the hands of her friend and assistant editor, Ramie James. This is her lesson in letting go.

Like many of us, Livy realizes that sometimes there’s only so much one can do when attempting to better oneself. Through her letting go, Livy has a vision of what lies ahead.

(excerpt from chapter 4, book 2)

“Maybe I should go now?”

“Maybe you should Livy. The boss’ll give you a leave of absence, maybe even a stipend. You need to live a little. Thoreau’s “marrow” and all that. Bones and all. I’ll talk to him for you. Go home now and rest.”

Livy slunk off to the village. A rundown Brownstone in the heart of it. Late 70’s decrepit and worn. The buildings in it mirrored her soul, her disposition on a downturn. She turned the key into a turn-of-the-century flat. Flattened she felt, and dropped onto the couch. It’s soft and over worn cushions gave in to her weight, her auburn hair falling over her face. Around her was the memory of East Finchley; her mum’s favorite tea cozy, dusty lacy doilies, unopened letters from Hermione, tea cups and toffee, crowded on the table that once stood in her parents home. She’d let it all back in; stuff from home. Just like the whole crowd who’d faded with the passing of the Beatles. Crawling back into familiarity as unsavory as it was. The comfortable cloak of the past was becoming like a choke chain, like a little sister’s knickers, pinching.

She grimaced then squinted, felt heavy and anxious all at once, took in a deep breath, closed her eyes. A ray of sun from the window hit her left eye as it closed and sparkled, a flash then gone. With a little luck. 5 p.m.

Continue reading “The Awakening”

Surgeon General’s Warning

Note: I guess I got a little too extreme again for some with this “Surgeon General” thing. It was meant to be a joke. My apologies, I have a strange sense of humor and also tend to take the extreme point of view on things in order to open debate. I guess sometimes I come across sounding like a grumpy old jerk instead of the sarcastic jackass that I am. I’m glad I can still laugh at myself.

The Surgeon General has determined that this book may be harmful to your health for the following reasons.

1. If pregnant, it may induce labor. In other words, it may bring new life into your world prematurely.

2. If you’re happy with your life, it may make you reconsider that happiness. I know, change is bad, and happiness is just “One Click” away on Amazon.

3. If you love working 9-5  and also enjoy working overtime, please refrain from reading this book as it may make you crave a vacation.

Continue reading “Surgeon General’s Warning”

The Tao of Now

When writing a story the five most important questions to consider are Who, What, Where, When and Why. And while I feel quite comfortable that I covered these questions, it seems many are getting “hung up” on the When.

Yes, Ticket to Ride takes place in the 70s but that has really very little to do with the What and Why. I originally attempted to make this story “timeless,” meaning, I didn’t want to anchor it in a time period for fear of diminishing the overall impact of the story. It was only in about the middle of the process that I realized that perhaps only poetry can be offered up in this way. Without the When Ticket to Ride would have been quite vague and, for lack of a better word, foundation-less.

In Ticket to Ride there are countless themes and “lessons,” if you will, that are timeless and therefore meaningful to any generation. So as you’re reading please bear in mind that the simple elements of the story like people and names are interchangeable (President Carter, can be substituted with President Obama) but the overriding themes like longing for connection and understanding are timeless. In the 10,000 or so years of “civilization” men and woman have faced the same questions about life and living that we do today. We may have cell phones and televisions and DVD players but our souls and our very existence on this planet remain almost entirely unchanged with respect to our search for meaning.

All About Eve(rything)

The Book Buff Interview

I was recently granted the rare opportunity of giving an interview to one of the premier book review sites on the web. And I must say, it was quite a humbling experience. While this type of interview is meant to offer readers insights into the life of a writer, I found the experience to be just as enlightening for me as it may be for my readers. I was initially quite nervous, however, once I’d begun digging into the her questions I found I was enjoying this discovery of myself. Having read books like The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Cutting the Ties that Bind, I now see that it’s opportunities like this that force us to define ourselves in a way that no self-help book can.

In a recent book entitled “Bono” by Michka Assayas wherein the lead singer of U2 offers elaborations on many questions that had only been touched on in short interviews previously, Bono commented that perhaps this was his opportunity to lay down on the proverbial psychologist’s couch and bare his soul. I’d have to say that my recent interview was much the same for me. While you or I are not Bono (I for one am not all that interesting), I believe we could all use a little self-reflection sometimes, to remember why we’re here on planet Earth, to remember just how small our lives really are, and to hopefully see how much power each of us has to make a difference in the world.

Read the interview:


Touching Eternity, Just for Fun

I find it funny when people who know I’m a writer ask me what I do for fun. I surfed for fun for 25 years until I felt it had run it’s course for me. I remember saying when I was a teenager that I would surf forever. Somehow that seemed all I would ever need. But even surfing, having been an excitingly new and seemingly endless source of fun and enjoyment, now seems a sort of hollow and repetitive exercise. I guess I might say the same about dating. Too much investment for so little return. Who knows, maybe I’m just getting old.

Early on I felt that surfing had a lot to teach me and that perhaps once I internalized the lessons it had to offer I might not need to continue the physical act. Surfing teaches you to, literally, go with the proverbial flow, to find grace under pressure, and to always look to the next wave to be the best; to keep on living with the openness and unfettered expectancy of future possibilities.

Continue reading “Touching Eternity, Just for Fun”

Morgan Takes on Capitalism

by philip scott wikel

My roommate keeps telling me to avoid getting political on my blog. It seems he feels that I should try to maintain a sort of sterile position when it comes to writing and that I should keep my focus on the “writing process.” The first problem is: I don’t have much in the way of a traditional writing process. I’m something of a channeler and get struck by the lightning of inspiration randomly and wake to find I’ve completed a couple of chapters. There’s nothing much interesting in that, is there? The second problem is: Ticket to Ride is a very political book, especially when you look at George Orwell’s definition of political as it pertains to writing:

“Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”

And yes, I realize Orwell wrote this quite a while ago and perhaps I should be looking to more contemporary writers for my inspiration (my roommate also feels I’m a bit behind the times). However, I see myself as decidedly old-fashioned and enjoy being such. I like the “old masters,” if you will, and find little in this post, post-modern (maybe it’s three “posts” now) world that suits me. Whatever age or era we’re in right now I like to find my grounding in the solid conviction of our past “masters.” For me they’re like happy grandfathers; full of good, time-tested advice, and even better stories.

My own grandfather, Philip Moser, was quite a mover back in the early days of the Union Movement and believed very strongly in the nobility of the working man. It is with him in mind that I wrote the following passage.

Continue reading “Morgan Takes on Capitalism”