(This article contains affiliate links. An affiliate link takes you to the product page for the book, so you can purchase it. It doesn’t cost you anything additional, and we make a little money to support our website and writing.) The hardest part of finishing a book is choosing the next one because saying “yes” to one book means saying “no” to dozens of others. The decision-making process is often paralyzing, and as laid out in “The Paradox of Choice,” having more choices isn’t better. So, when I finished “Hidden Mickey 3: Wolf!,” I had to choose my next book.Continue reading The Hardest Part of Finishing a Book: Finding a New Book
(This article contains affiliate links. An affiliate link takes you to the product page for the book, so you can purchase it. It doesn’t cost you anything additional, and we make a little money to support our website and writing.) At one of the D23 Expos I attended, I picked up five books in the Hidden Mickey series. The authors autographed them, I read them, and then I packed them away with all my other stuff that’s been packed away for uncounted years. On my second read through, I am finding greater appreciation for the series.Continue reading Hidden Mickey Series and Other Suggestions: Going to Disneyland through Books
On Mar. 1, 2021, I’ll have a virtual author signing for “My Life in the Peace Corps.” Using the live function on Facebook for my new page @ShadsBooks, I will show some of the items that I brought back with me from Africa. What will these items be? That will depend in part on a vote at my Patreon page. People who join will get the first shot at telling me what they most want to see.
The Format of Signing
This live video will start on March 1, 2021 at 7pm. The first 20 minutes will be show and tell, I’ll leave 20 minutes available for questions and answers, and the last 20 minutes will be for signing your books. If you want to watch me sign it and have more input on what I write in it, this will the time for you. Plus, you’ll get my personal gratitude. Questions and answers will be done in the chat. You can pre-order your autographed copy, so I know how many books I need to order. I will send out all books on March 2.
What Are the Possibilities?
I brought a lot of stuff back from Guinea. In the Christmas theme, I have a stockings, a commemorative t-shirt, and Santa Claus outfit a tailor made for me, including a beard. We celebrated Christmas at the Casse in 1998 as told in “My Life in the Peace Corps.”
Other items include a mancala board, my formal Guinean attire, tin cars made by the kids in my town, three nicely carved wood boxes, and Le Patron (which is a bit risqué, but part of my life there). Join our Patreon and vote for what you want to see. You could also just leave a message, but there is a limited amount of time for items, so Patrons get first dibs.
What Is Patreon?
Patreon is a platform that allows you to support creators as they work to become free from the constraints set on them by having to earn a living. You get to play patron to someone (or multiple someones) to help bring more of what you want into the world. In our case, you get to help us make more penguins and write more stories. You will also get some pretty cool items, sneak peeks, recognition, and voting privileges, depending on the level you pledge at.
Do I Have to Buy a Book?
You do not have to purchase anything to join this virtual author signing. You can simply show up and walk down memory lane with me.
When I was in the Disney College Program in Walt Disney World, there were two places where I could get discounted books: The Writer’s Stop bookstore in Disney Hollywood Studios and the cast member outlet store where they had amazing deals on everything! The Writer’s Stop was one of the few places I could use my cast member discount for food in the parks. They had coffee, pastries, and a great selection of new books. The cast member outlet store, where I could purchase discontinued items, props, damaged products, and six packs of Mickey Mouse apple sauce for 25 cents, also sold damaged books and books used for Disney education classes. I would visit both places as often as my meager stipend would allow and buy all the books I could, as well as pins and applesauce. I’m not sure where I got my copy of the first collection of John Carter of Mars stories. I suspect that the black line through the bar code means I found it at the cast member store.Continue reading John Carter of Mars Story Collection at Walt Disney World
Every motivational speaker has the same story, or at least, they all have a variation on a theme. Usually, it starts with a hardship – My dad and I lived in a bathroom, I lost my eyesight, I was poor. It doesn’t matter what the hardship is – We had to drink tap water, My dog ate my stuffed animal, My grandma got me a bunny suit for Christmas. What does matter is that it caused the motivational speaker to take action. He or she has overcome whatever issue it was, or maybe continues to face the horrors of the issue that comes with the emotions associated with it, but life is much better than it was before.Continue reading Getting the Most out of Motivational Speakers
When I was in the Peace Corps, the FBI captured the Unabomber and he was facing a trial for his crimes. The Unabomber was responsible for killing three people with package bombs that he mailed or delivered himself over the course of 17 years. He could have faced the death penalty, so his attorneys argued that he was insane. Their specific reasoning for declaring him insane included that he lived alone in a cabin. Now, a cabin is not too far from a hut, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was living away from “civilization.”Continue reading Peace Corps and the Unabomber Insanity Plea
You can now get both the paperback and the eBook of “My Life in the Peace Corps” today at Amazon! I composed this from the letters I sent home while I was serving in Peace Corps Guinea, where I joined as a Public Health and Community Development Extensionist. I was assigned to the health center of a small town of about 5,000 people in the middle of the country. My nearest Peace Corp neighbor was 70 km away during my first year, and I could only get a car out of my village on Saturdays.Continue reading ICYMI: ‘My Life in the Peace Corps’ Available on Amazon
The snow floated down onto Christian’s overcoat as he walked through downtown Blackwood Forest. The large flakes were lazy as they wafted on the wind. Christian turned up his collar against the wind and quickened his steps. He looked up the street at the sign for the Wooden Pot. A warm cup of coffee would be great right now. This time of year, the Pot was making eggnog lattes with real eggnog. It was thick, rich, and a meal by itself. He might get a pastry, too. He reached the door of the café and reached for the handle. A howl rose up from somewhere in the woods around town.Continue reading Time to get to the Wooden Pot; Get Your Books in ‘Mortal Choice’
For a long time, bicycles were an integral part of my life. As a child living in the projects, I had the sweetest black bicycle that I had gotten during a mysterious Christmas. It was a hybrid mountain-road bike that I took everywhere in the HUD housing complex where we lived. When I was on that bike, the world was mine. I could make it do magic. I rode up and down stairs. I went to the neighborhood convenience store and searched the newspaper boxes for spare change. One day, I left my bike outside as I ran into my home to go to the bathroom. When I returned, the bike was gone. “My Life in the Projects” would never be the same.
In high school, I used my ten-speed to get to and from school when the weather permitted. I mostly left it at home when the weather was rainy, but some days, it was nice to have a faster way to get to school. On the weekend, we would use our bikes to go to the park or get downtown. This bike was built for speed and the roads, so sometimes, I would crank up the gears and head out onto the nearest big roads just to race the cars. I’d hit the Arctic Circle up for a lime rickey or a kid’s meal if I had the cash.
This was the time when I learned two good safety lessons. The first was that when riding a bicycle, the rider should always wear closed-toe shoes. We went to see my mom as she floated down the Willamette for some holiday. My sister’s foot slipped of the pedal while her flip-flop remained. Her foot flew back, and her big toe ended up in the spokes of the bike. There was plenty of blood, and my mom had to swim from the boat she was floating on to help my sister.
The second was when we were driving on the main road through town away from I-5. I saw a car hit a boy on a bicycle on a side road. He flipped up over the hood of the car and slammed his head on the windshield. He was then thrown forward and slammed his head on the roadway. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet. The boy crawled to the curbside, and mom turned down the road to see if she could help while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.
The Peace Corps
Once I got my first car, bicycles went by the wayside. It wasn’t until I joined the Peace Corps that bicycles got a new lease in my life. The Peace Corps supplied the bicycle and trained us in how to fix them. This bike was freedom. It allowed me to travel hundreds of kilometers during my service. “My Life in the Peace Corps” was much better for the mobility that the bicycle provided.
While I couldn’t take the Peace Corps bike with me, when I returned to the U.S., I was able to purchase a bicycle. In Kalamazoo during the summer months, it was my only transportation. I would ride to the American Red Cross and use one of their vehicles to get to teaching gigs. When winter rolled around, I had a new job, a new apartment, and a new car. I kept that bike, but I stopped riding. Now, my niece uses it.
Get the Books
If you’d like to read more about “My Life in the Projects,” the book is available on Amazon and here. It’s the mostly true account of living in HUD housing during the 1980s. “My Life in the Peace Corps” will be available on Amazon on Dec. 28, 2020. Pre-order today. Or get the autographed book when it comes out in hard copy.
When I was a child living in the projects in California, mom made sure that we had on vacation every year. She wanted to show her children that there was more to life than abject poverty, pee-yellow housing complexes, and government cheese. Almost all of those vacations consisted of a trip to Disneyland. Sometimes, we would leave at three in the morning, so we could be there when the park opened. We would stay one day. When the park closed, she would drive home stopping at a rest area to get some sleep when she got too tired to drive. She would then go to work the day we got back.Continue reading Why I Still Believe in Santa