Yesterday I did a piece on Robin Williams’ passing but there was a segment I didn’t have room for after all my ramblings. I’d like to share it now. Whether he was on stage, on television or in a movie I liked pretty much anything I saw containing Robin Williams. I did my share of standup comedy in college (I couldn’t sing and I wasn’t good looking so what else was there?) and he was one of the people I patterned my style after. It didn’t matter if he was being interviewed by Entertainment Tonight, he made you laugh. Then I saw him on one of those late, late talk shows about 20 or 25 years ago and he was serious. He looked beaten and worn down. The host asked him what it was like being a great comedian. When he answered you waited for a punch line but it never came. His words were heartfelt and to the point. He said that being a comedian was one of the hardest jobs in show business. The reason was simple. It was the only profession where people expected you to be in character 24 hours a day. Th n he elaborated by saying you don’t walk up to a famous actor and say, “Act something for me.” You don’t ask a great singer, “Sing something right now for me.” People don’t step over to an award winning director and say, “Direct something for me.” But if you are a comedian, every person you meet at a party, on the street, in an elevator or at the grocery store all want you to make them laugh right there, right then. He said it was exhausting. He never had a minute in public to call his own and for a while he withdrew from public life for that reason. It was just too much to handle. Just imagine one day in which every person you saw recognized you and wanted you to instantly make them laugh. Think of the pressure that would create and the lack of privacy you would have. Then realize I am only talking about one day! He was talking about a lifetime. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days and he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I believe there is a fine line between genius and insanity and he tiptoed along it for many years. That was the only time I ever saw the vulnerable Robin Williams but deep down I believe that was how he really felt. The problem for a man like that lies in whom do you talk to about your pain. Apparently things were not going so well with his wife. And from the sound of it, many of his friends were the ones wanting to be entertained. That leaves a man who is both popular and lonely at the same time. It goes without saying what the world has lost. Perhaps one of the reasons Mr. Williams chose to leave us was that he was always asked to be a funny man and not just a man.
My topic for today may not be so different from other bloggers around the world but perhaps my perspective will be. The sky is full of stars and even though there are so many it is sad to see one go out, particularly a bright one you have watched for years. I speak of actor Robin Williams who died yesterday by hanging. It is not my intent to discuss the manner of his demise or the possible causes behind it. I think I’d rather discuss how he touched the lives of my family and perhaps yours as well. When I came home from work yesterday it was like the first line in one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, “I read the news today…Oh boy…” It took time to realize the magnitude of the affect he had made on my life. Most actors have one role for which they are known and remembered and that is an achievement in itself. Robin Williams was so many different people in so many different movies that I have yet to see them all. I was first introduced to him on television in the show Mork & Mindy about an alien coming to Earth in a space ship shaped like an egg. The show was a smash. Even my oldest brother in college wore the rainbow-striped suspenders he sported on the show. In the 1980s he put a different face on the Vietnam War. It was not a better or worse face, just different. Not only was he hilarious to the point that a friend of mine made a tape of just his parts on the radio that he would play when we went out somewhere,; he also introduced me a an entire generation to one of the greatest songs ever made, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. It is a short but hauntingly beautiful piece Williams works to perfection against the backdrop of war. I passed my love of the song onto my children and they will sing it with me…all because of Robin Williams. The Disney movie “Aladdin” came out when my son was very young and we wore out 3 vhs copies of that tape. If you have seen that movie and then saw the second one without Robin Williams playing the genie it is obvious he made the film. I don’t know how much of the script was written and how much he improvised but Williams was the undisputed master of improvised comedy. He made it as enjoyable the 500th time as the first time. It still ranks with Lion King as Disney’s best ever. “Awakenings” was touching and he was magnificent in “Good Will Hunting”. I once was given a VHS copy of “Patch Adams” that I gave away years later at a white elephant Christmas exchange. I wish I had watched it. “The world According to Garp” has always been on my list to watch but never made it to the top. Then came “Happy Feet”. My mother was sick with cancer for several years but the rarity of seeing her and my own inexplicable blindness to it made me not notice. That was the last movie she took my youngest daughter to see. She was four years old. After that, if grandma called my daughter would get on the phone and shuffle her feet. She would say, “Do you know what I’m doing Grandma? I’m dancing because I’m happy to talk to you.” We bought the DVD as soon as it came out and every time the main character would dance, she would get up and dance too. She said it was because her feet were happy. Robin Williams didn’t play that role but he played two of my favorites in the movie as the wisecracking Ramone and the guru Lovelace. He made the movie. I watched it as much for me as for my daughter. People tell me “Frozen” is so much better than “Happy Feet”. Let me humbly say you are entitled to your opinion. I have only talked about a hand full of movies he was in out of the dozens but Robin Williams was a positive influence on the lives of my family and me. I can only hope he touched others in such a way. He will be missed. Stars may disappear but they will exist as long as someone remembers they were there all those years.
We start to learn a little more about Lord Mandrean here. Enjoy.
The four governors rose and gave the fist salute. They spoke in unison, “We pledge our lives to the glory of the Empire and to the will of our Emperor.” Lord Mandrean casually returned the salute. General Maxion was the first to step forward. He cried aloud, “Pawns.” Three young boys dressed entirely in black rushed from their seats on the benches toward the map on the floor, in between Maxion and the Emperor. Each boy had a number sewn onto his shirt. They were clearly numbered one, two and three. They all took up positions north of Marinhalk on the map. One went to the extreme north, closest to the Emperor. Two and Three took up positions parallel to one another further south on the map. Maxion bowed in a grand gesture and addressed his Emperor. “My good Lord Mandrean, my Province continues to flourish. The mines continue to produce vast quantities of precious ores. Iron mining has nearly doubled since our last meeting. Lumber also is progressing well into the northern wilderness. Our contribution to the glory of the Empire is clear and noteworthy. “The First Division patrols the border with the Ice Giants to the north. The Second and Third Divisions are segmented into garrisons and placed around the key mining and forestry production to prevent slave revolt. All is well with my Province.” Mandrean looked irritated and handed his goblet to Fendri without saying a word. He stood and observed the pawns’ position in detail. “As usual,” he barked. “You tell only the side of the story you want to be heard. What of the revolts in the mines?” “As I mentioned, My Lord, the Second and Third Divisions are in place to prevent such instances.” Mandrean appeared evermore lucid as he paced before his general. “So I was misinformed that gold production was brought to a halt for nearly a month? Are you saying the reports were wrong about your subordinates selling the slaves’ food for profit to line their pockets and afford their…attire? Are you also saying that the chain of revolts by starving slaves that followed did not require both the Second and Third Divisions to quell? In doing so I suppose it would also not be true that crushing the revolt reduced the work force by half. So did these things happen or are you simply withholding my gold shipments?” Maxion’s arrogance evaporated in the light of the disclosure. After a moment’s pause he replied. “My Good Lord, the facts of these matters have at the least been contorted and spun in a most incorrect manner.” “Well,” Mandrean said as he walked forcefully to his general and stared him in the eye. “Why don’t you explain it in a way that will not have your skin hanging from the battlements of this building?” Maxion’s words sputtered out slowly. “You see…the Ice Giants have increased their tribute demands. If we do not meet their quota of food, we risk them coming into our realm this winter and taking what they wish. I do not have sufficient men to fend off such an attack. It was for that reason some of the provisions intended for the slaves were diverted to the offering. In hindsight, we gave too much and the slaves rebelled. The results were unfortunate but could have been considerably worse if we had not paid the ransom.” Mandrean struck his palm to his forehead. “So let me understand. You took provisions from the workers and caused a mutiny with great loss in manpower and production and I am supposed to believe you did it for the good of the Empire?” “Those would not be my words, My Lord, but the essence is correct.” Mandrean produced a knife from his sleeve and held it to Maxion’s throat. “I will investigate your statements. If I find the slightest discrepancy in the story, I will peel your skin like that of a potato and feed it to the hogs. Now get out of my sight.” Maxion stepped back and performed more of a courtesy than a bow. Then he meekly returned to his seat.
Here is the next excerpt from “Quest”. The gala begins.
Jelena, Linvin and Anvar formed a receiving line and began to welcome their guests. Each party entering the mansion was announced and then properly greeted. Linvin had been among great people in their best attire many times before, yet he felt uncommonly nervous. He traced its source to no longer attempting to simply meet his own expectations. Linvin felt the additional burden of achieving those of his mother. His mind filled with more uncertainty with each guest they greeted and to whom he was introduced. “What if I say the wrong thing?” he thought, “What if I offend the wrong person? Come to think of it, is there a right person to offend? I cannot embarrass my family. Wait. What was that last person’s name? Was he a baron or a lord? And what is the difference anyway? Why does it seem so warm in here? Maybe the other sandals would have been more comfortable?” Anvar tugged on his nephew’s arm so that he would bend down close enough to whisper, “I may not be able to actually read your mind, but I am a rather good guesser. Remember, they are guests in your house and they are far more concerned with impressing you than judging you. If that, my boy, does not put your mind at ease, then I suggest you concentrate your attention on the beautiful young ladies assembled here, who will line up to be Mrs. Linvin Grithinshield.” As always, Anvar brought Linvin back to reality and his demeanor softened considerably. With each new guest, he became more of the charming host Jelena had envisioned. True to his mother’s word, every family of status was there. Along with gifts, usually of fine wine, they brought every available daughter of childbearing age in their house. At times, the scene was nearly comical to Linvin. He was eagerly introduced to every woman from 14 to 40. Most of the ladies were quite proper in their introductions. There were, however, those who did not use their fans to hide their bosom when they curtsied, as was the custom in society. Though the act always drew Linvin’s attention, his mother would wait until the guest had moved along before whispering, “Not that one!” Once the greetings were done, the threesome mingled through the room as their guests indulged in drink and folly. The roll of guests was staggering. There were nobles, members of the Royal Family, army officials, legislators, vendors of every race and region, and even the mayor of Fraylic.
Linvin was charming, but his mother kept him close. It was not the time or place for conversations on any serious matters. She whispered to him, “Remember, this is an opportunity to introduce and celebrate you. It is not the time or place to discuss politics and business. This is our gala and we must control its direction. Everyone here wants something from you. Do not be cornered into serious conversations, even with the daughters. They are often subtle agents sent to sway you to their family’s point of view. Keep the conversations light and take no drastic positions.” “No matter what anyone says or does, do not let anyone see you flustered or lose your temper. Imagine you are wearing armor of dragon-scales and nothing anyone says or does can pierce that armor. Understand?” Linvin nodded and showed his artificial smile. As they worked the room, Linvin was astonished by his mother’s command of the event. She seemed far removed from the woman so distressed earlier. He realized that this had become her element. She thrived on the energy and excelled. Before long, his mother was comfortable enough with Linvin’s manner that she left him to socialize by himself. She entertained in another part of the room while Anvar had done his famous vanishing act so common at official gatherings. Linvin drew quite a crowd. The elite members of society were desperate to know Linvin’s opinion and how it would affect their business, government, army, or family status. They pried him with direct questions, which he easily brushed aside. His standard response was that he had just arrived in town and had not had the time to consider such matters.
A good friend of mine did an interview with an up and coming poet. I thought I would share it with you. Her name is Sharon Newell. I hope you enjoy it.
Q- Hey there Sharon welcome to the blog. Angel tells us you’re quite the powerful writer. What is the name of your book?
“Eternal”… It’s about Soul-mate love in essence. The feeling of total unconditional love when you met the one meant for you
Q From the title I’m guessing it’s romance at it’s finest. What inspires you to write?
I think any passionate writing comes from experience of loving and sometimes losing. Putting words together has always given me clarity, as if my soul is having a conversation with my mind.
Q Cheshire Grin reports a bit of a following. Where else can we catch you?
I have a FB page “The Aphrodite Syndrome”… It’s a page I created for women to believe in their divinity and the goddess inside them. I also have a blog… “The Eternal Aphrodite”
Q Tell us a little about the real Sharon, just around the house or out and about. Inquiring minds want to know.
I think I’m just the ‘normal’ (hate that word) person – working, running a house and have great times with my beautiful daughters.
On my days off, I love to put on some music, burn the incense and cook a magnificent meal and of course, sit outside in the beautiful Australian sun with a glass of wine and write!
Q So tell us about the photographer. Have you been friends long?
Gabriele Mezzatesta is truly one of the finest photographers I’ve seen. As with my writing, it’s easy to see he puts his soul into every shot. I have known him for eternity but in this life, about 7- 8 years. He’s one of my best friends in the world.
Q How’s Cheshire Grin treating you? Also any plans on a blog?
Cheshire has been wonderful to me. As this is my first book, I am quite a novice to the industry and Angel has helped alleviate many concerns. She’s beautiful!
"Welcome David Bryant who is sharing his interview with the CEO of Solstice Publishing, Melissa Miller with us today.
Since 2008 when she secured her own first book contract, Melissa Miller has become the head of one of the fastest growing mid-market publishers in the USA. This year (2014) she capped her achievements by being announced an International Best Selling author and two of her books were optioned for film.
Now Melissa, as chief executive officer of Solstice Publishing based in Farmington, Missouri, is paving the way for other budding authors to bring their creations to e-readers and print. I have a personal reason to thank her. Solstice accepted my first book, Tread Carefully on the Sea, after I'd spent nearly a year trying to place it with a publisher.
I asked Melissa a few questions
1. How do you conclude that books are likely to sell? Is it pure instinct or do you have a formula?
There isn't a formula to know what will sell and what won't. We look for well written manuscripts with interesting plots.
2. Based on your experience in publishing, what's one thing you would advise today's budding authors?
One of the most important things new authors need to know is the importance of branding their name. The use of social media is going to be very helpful in their journey. The marketing and branding of their book is going to be a full time job. Writing the book is the fun part. After that the work begins.
3. Why do you think fiction is so powerful that almost everyone wants to read it - if not write it?
I think fiction is so powerful because it's not real. After a long day at work, or taking care of the kids, or cleaning the house, readers like to escape into new worlds. It's nice to get away from reality for a while.
4. What were your favorite childhood books and how did that affect your career?
As a child my favorites were Winnie The Pooh then as a teen I grew into loving Stephen King. Now as an adult I like a variety. I enjoy Stephanie Meyers, Cassandra Clare, Jeannette Oak, Nicholas Sparks and then of course all the great authors of Solstice Publishing.
With over 200 authors covering every category of fiction and rapidly expanding into non-fiction, Solstice is quickly gaining a reputation for fast paced suspense thrillers, sizzling romance, action adventure, science fiction, and a spooky collection of horror and paranormal reads. Critically acclaimed authors have achieved top spots on best seller lists, had their stories adapted to screenplays, and won movie deals with top Hollywood studios.
Melissa Miller is an Amazon International Best Selling Author under a pen name. She writes paranormal/ romance and woman's fiction. She's a wife and the mother of two boys.
I ALSO WANT TO GIVE MY SINCERE THANKS TO MEL MASSEY-MARONI AT SOLSTICE, MY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AND I INTEND TO PERSUADE HER TO DO AN INTERVIEW IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
It’s excerpt day for “sapphire Crucible.” Today you get to meet some of the most powerful individuals in the Mandrean Empire. Enjoy!
A trumpeter standing at one of the nearby hallways blowing a call to attention silenced the crowd. People quickly jostled for their proper positions. When the trumpeter finished his piece he sat the instrument by his side and produced a scroll. He turned to face the seated audience and read. “On behalf of Emperor Mandrean I wish to welcome you all to the Council of the Supreme Commanders of the Imperial Forces. It is my distinguished honor to introduce them to you. “Our first guest is the Governor and Supreme Commander of the Northern Province. It is my honor to welcome General Maxion, Keeper of the North.” A middle aged human man with more gray than brown in his hair emerged from the hallway. He wore decorative leather armor and a long flowing white fur cape. The crowd cheered as he bowed before them. His demeanor betrayed a high self-opinion. Then he walked over to a bench in the front of the row and stood at attention. “Our next honored guest is Governor and Supreme Commander of the Eastern Province. I give you Donorus the Deadly, Master of the East.” A considerably younger man strode into the room as if it were his home. He wore full plate armor from head to toe and made a deafening racket as he presented himself to the crowd. A host of medals hung from a sash running diagonally across his chest. The tall, muscular general received a standing ovation from the most receptive crowd as he gave a nod of the head rather than a bow. Then he stomped his way over to the bench and stood near his comrade. As the court members returned to their seats, the trumpeter began to speak once again. “Representing the Southern Province, their Governor, Supreme Commander and Master of Legionary Training, General Tecious.” The crowd gave the equivalent applause customary to a grandfather on his birthday. It was several moments before the general appeared. The man of advanced years wore more hair on his beard than his scalp. He bore no armor but rather was clothed in a plain uniform with few highlights or decorations. A simple wooden cane guided his steps as he shuffled to the bench. He made no attempt to bow or absorb adulation. It appeared in his expression that the entire ceremony was at best an unnecessary nuisance. Reaching the bench, Tecious sighed and stood at attention. The trumpeter continued to read the scroll. “Our final Supreme Commander Governs the Western Province. Our most honored and revered Commander, General Gramlick.” A decrepit old man in a simple white robe limped into the chamber. One of his legs was nearly unusable and never left the ground as he dragged it with tremendous effort across the floor. In truth, he had greater need of a cane than Tecious. His face showed the scars and the weathering of one who had seen a multitude of battles from the front line. Resisting all offers of assistance, Gramlick managed to reach the bench and stand as best he could. Even in his condition, his pride and charisma were clear to even the prisoners in the room. The man commanded respect. Two more trumpeters joined the first one and together played a fanfare. It shortly transformed into a patriotic hymn. The courtiers rose to their feet at the anthem. The elves felt obliged to follow suit. Those in the room watched the hallway with anticipation. Everyone was entranced except for Necromancer who stood with his arms crossed, impatiently tapping the floor with his foot. When the music stopped, the trumpeter who had been reading spoke. “Now it is my great honor to introduce The Most Noble of Men, The Finest of the Fine, The Leader of Leaders, The Bravest of All Men, Future Ruler of the World and your Emperor. I give you his Imperial Majesty; Lord Mandrean the Thirteenth escorted by the Master of his House, Lord Fendri.” Lord Mandrean strutted from the hallway. It was Linvin’s first opportunity to see the man who was so revered. Mandrean was clean-shaven and adorned in a purple robe covering fine white silk beneath. Tights covered his legs leading to glistening house slippers. He bore no scepter in his hand. The gold he carried was an oversized wine goblet. His path was erratic, suggesting to Linvin that he was full of more than just his bravado. Fendri walked several paces behind his Emperor. He bore a massive wineskin, which was clearly half empty. As Mandrean would veer away from his throne, Fendri would quicken his pace and nudge him back to the right path. Linvin had seen his share of kings. He’d also seen many great men. Though he was sure not to let jealously cloud his vision, he could not see any admirable qualities in the man stumbling to his throne. Mandrean appeared to him as a meager impersonator among the individuals of stature he had known and respected. In a way Mandrean came across as an actor playing the part of an emperor in a play. Even if that had been the case, however, the actor’s portrayal would have left much to be desired. Linvin wondered in silence if anyone else felt as he did. If the others in the room had never seen a true man of stature, it occurred to him the sad individual they were applauding might impress them. He observed in silence. Upon reaching the throne, Mandrean turned and faced his audience. He gently swayed from side to side as Fendri produced a golden crown encrusted with emeralds and placed it upon his master’s head.
It’s time for an excerpt from “Quest”. This scene is much more lengthy but this gives you the flavor of the situation.
Linvin’s eyes were stunned. When he had heard that there would be tailors, he envisioned two men with bolts of cloth, chalk, pins and thread. He was correct in that expectation as all of those things entered the room. The shocking part was that there was an entourage of nearly thirty people with them. Some bore racks of clothing while others were clearly seamstresses. Only the tailors addressed Linvin, while the others marched through to another room. The two tailors circled Linvin. “He’s a big one, Freedron,” said one, as he grasped Linvin’s shoulders in order to gauge them. The other man pulled Linvin’s robe off in one smooth motion. “Look at the scars, Thelon. Those will simply have to be covered in some way. He looks far more common than I had hoped.” “And the hair,” Thelon said, while trying to rake a comb through its length, “It’s like an untamed jungle.” Linvin’s initial embarrassment at being disrobed was replaced quickly by angered pain as Thelon attacked his hair. “Have you lost track of your senses! That hurts! Stop!” Thelon paused for a moment. “I apologize for the lack of formal introductions Lord Grithinshield, but we have been retained by the matron of this house to make you presentable in a very short time.” “It can’t be done!” Freedron exclaimed. “Even the greatest gardener cannot plant a flower and make it bloom by sundown. He is a savage barbarian. It cannot be done.” Linvin smiled in a dry expression and put his arm around Freedron’s shoulders. “Now Freedron, it is Freedron, Yes?” “I am Freedron, of the House of Flairgall.” “How quaint,” Linvin said with contempt, “Am I to assume that my mother hired you and your companion at great expense to dress and prepare me for the gala this evening?” “Yes,” Freedron conceded with regret. “Well then, my slight and frail friend,” Linvin said while squeezing the man’s entire frame with his one arm, “I suggest you get over your misgivings and do the task for which you were hired. After all, I am sure you both have solid reputations in this town, which could only be enhanced by word of your part in my visual… blossoming as it were.” The tailors eyed one another and nodded. “Forgive our momentary discouragement,” Freedron said with a bow, “We have much to do and time is short. If you will but follow us into the adjoining room, we can get started.” “Fine. I leave myself in your hands,” answered the nude half-elf as he strode past. On the way out of the room he paused to make one last subtle comment. “Oh, and just for future reference. If either of you ever call me a barbarian again; I will teach you the true meaning of the word. At that time gentlemen, your reputations will be the only part of you that survives. Am I clear?” Both wide-eyed men nodded in unison. “Excellent!” exclaimed Linvin, “Then begin your work.”
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...