art

Books & Art: Paintings!

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Today is the last day to download one of my novels, Father Figure, for FREE. You can download and read it via Amazon Kindle at this link. Earlier this week, I received a surprise package in the mail from someone I met just over a year ago. We chatted via our blogs, built a friendship, and then began referring to one another as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ because of the many similarities (also several differences) and powerful connection in such a short time.

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We chat several times a day via texting or calls, swap pictures of life on the farm and life in NYC, and help each other push through the pain, sweat, and tears of all our creative work. What’s special about this woman is not only her amazing generosity and humble approach to life, but that she can tolerate me!

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After I finished my first novel, she sent me a painting of the book cover. It was fantastic, and I absolutely adore it. The painting hangs on the wall in the hallway leading from the living room to the bedroom alongside a framed actual book cover my parents gave me last year.

You can see more via the post during my 365 Daily Challenge. Well… after I finished my second novel, Father Figure, the same artist, sister, and friend painted another cover. It’s stunning! I wanted to share it the last few days but I thought it was a perfect post for today as the promotion winds down. It is such an amazing and gorgeous match!

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To my wonderful and dearest friend, Roda @ GrowingSelf, thank you for being one of the most amazing things I found in the last year since going on this journey as a blogger and an author. For anyone who must check out more of her art — from bees to flowers to animals to so much more — view her art site here. Thank you, Big Sis. I love you!

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Book Review: Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries by Robbie Cheadle

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What an adorable concept for a children’s book series involving imagination, cooking, and art. If you’ve never heard of the ‘Sir Chocolate’ series, you’ve got some catching up to do. The debut book, Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries, written by Robbie Cheadle (and her children), is a perfect addition for any family or home. And what’s even more special is this author won a poll on my blog for the Children’s Book Readathon I’m hosting in August 2018. Robbie’s books are being highlighted the week of 8/25 thru 8/31. All month long she’s shared recipes, new short stories, and tons of fun! I’m sharing a review of the first book in the series this week as a preview for anyone who might still want to participate in the last week when we read one of her newer books.

In this wonderful story, we meet Sir Chocolate and his home, Chocolate Land. When some friends run into trouble, they learn how to work with a possible enemy and turn the concerns into a new friendship. What a great lesson for kids! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Don’t read on an empty stomach — have some candy and chocolate nearby! This really sets the stage for several other books that show us the adventures and foods involved in creating this wonderful village and setting. I’m in awe of the author’s talent and creativity, but inspired how it’s a family affair. Kudos to the Cheadles!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 226 – Studio

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Studio: (a) room where an artist, photographer or sculptor works, or (b) film or television production company

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When I first thought of the word studio today, I remembered the movie ‘Studio 54.’ I rather enjoyed that movie, as I’m fascinated by all things from that generation. I missed it by a few years, but that might be a good thing; who knows how different my life would have been if I grew up in the 60s and 70s… but those are not the two definitions of today’s word that I plan to discuss.

Who has a studio, whether it’s in your home or in some other location? I’m envious of you. It sounds professional, charming and artistic. To have a space you can go where you create beauty and life, but have little worry or interruption. To be able to tell someone you’re off to the studio for a few hours… sounds amazing. All your materials, stored in one location, ready for your fingers and mind to develop something from scratch. Whether you paint or sculpt, draw or write, create greeting cards or gifts, it’s a passion we can hopefully all identify with in some way. Living in NYC does not make it possible for me to have a studio, unless I were to rent a space in a distant part of one of the boroughs. And even then, real estate is just too expensive. I think when I move back to the suburbs (it will happen), one of the requirements is a studio, where I can truly separate myself from my work and my life. Although I love my role these days, it feels 24/7. A studio might offer that special place where you can find the magic without being in the same place all day long.

The other kind of studio fascinates me almost as much as a personal space of creativity. Does anyone here work in a music, movie or television studio where you produce entertainment day after day? Imagine being part of creating a story in words or pictures that brings enjoyment to millions of people whenever they hear or see the final product? I was surprised to learn that a studio opened in my tiny hometown on Long Island. I grew up in Bethpage, New York, where the only famous thing about it, well two famous things, or three if you count me (ha, that’s was seriously awful)… was (1) Grumman, an aerospace company that built tons of weaponry and airplanes and (2) Bethpage was once known as Central Park, but 1920s New York inhabitants and visitors got confused whenever people said “I’m going to Central Park.” Did they mean the NYC park or the sleepy Long Island town? Today, Grumman Aerospace is much smaller and a huge piece was converted to Grumman Studios, where several movies and TV shows are filmed. It’s cool to think that happens in your hometown, but even more cool when you tour studios across the country. I’ve been to a few in California, always enjoying the backstage looks and scenery. I feel the power and energy of something being born within those walls. And it’s amazing to walk through outdoor spots you recognize from your favorite shows.

Maybe someday I’ll be involved in a studio production of something I’ve written in my own home studio… a boy can dream… I enjoyed today’s word, but it was not one I thought of on my own.  Thank you to the wonderful Janet’s Smiles for today’s 365 Daily Challenge word idea! If you don’t know or haven’t met her, go check out her site for her wonderful approach to life. Maybe she’ll tell us how she feels about the word ‘studio.’ I enjoy her posts as they make you laugh, believe and smile. Kudos to Janet!

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Blog: “Art of the Balanced Perfectionist”

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In my childhood and early in my career, I was often deemed the classic Type-A perfectionist; however, as I learned more about efficiency, negotiation and motivation, I’ve adopted a more balanced platform in how I approach decision-making and choices.

We’ve all heard the term “analysis paralysis,” but it’s quite surprising to see how often we still continue to get caught up in the decision-making process.  While I support that every decision deserves an appropriate amount of due diligence, the diligence should also have a direct correlation to the risk and impact of the decision being made.  To me, decision-making is an art form, similar to negotiating or debating.  There are several approaches, each right in their own way.

I no longer believe in focusing on and only accepting the quintessential “be-all, end-all” idyllic decision because it is rare that a single one exists — and it may not even be achievable when it does exist.  In those cases where it exists and is possible, the path to get to the perfect decision may also result in adverse impacts.  As an alternative, I believe it’s essential to weigh the benefits of extended analysis, research and time against a more iterative and agile process that allows for innate growth, evolution and opportunity.

As each year progressed in my career, and I began to more intrinsically trust my own judgment, I learned to balance all sides of the situation.  I still hope to achieve the right decision(s), but I stay conscious of the impact of taking too long or over-thinking the options along the way.  I also look for methods where I can evolve the decision-making process over a reasonable time frame with key steps and milestones that incrementally get me to the end game — all the while delivering some benefits rather than just once at the end. But this isn’t just about a career; it’s an approach to growing and improving each day.

I’ve come to see this as a balanced perfectionism, rather than the one and only concrete irrefutable solitary perfect decision.  It’s not an exact science — and that’s really the important piece of the approach.  If it were a science, it would be quantifiable. Yet, it’s not quantifiable; it’s subjective based on experience, communication and knowledge.  You won’t always be right — and that’s OK — but you can’t let the decision-making process paralyze you.

The energy we build and the collaboration we encourage throughout the decision-making process becomes what I call “The Art of the Balanced Perfectionist.” It’s a choice to be free and happy and to accept the limitless boundaries of that which can be achieved and that which cannot be achieved. It’s not meant to stop us. It’s meant to open the door to accept ourselves without a constant immeasurable drive to nowhere. But to replace it with a happiness associated on each positive step forward.

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Body Work

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Body WorkMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Sara Paretsky‘s novel Body Work, the 14th book in her “VI Warshawski” mystery series published in 2010. I read this book when it first came out, as I was already caught up in the series. I need to get back to them as I think there are a few more, as she tends to release one every 2 to 3 years.

Warshawski is a private investigator working in Chicago. She’s in her late 40s/early 50s throughout a big part of the series, very tough and one of the original female detectives written about in a full on series. I suspect she is the incarnation of the author, as I’ve read a bit about her, too. She’s quite fascinating and very open about her life and what she’s doing.

In this book, Paretsky takes us into the underground club scene, scattering around with VI Warshawski’s cousin Petra, a group of artists, tattoo junkies and soldiers back from Iraq with PTSD. It’s the kind of book where you think you know what’s going to happen, but you’ll be surprised a few times. I remember it made me want a tattoo even more than I already did at the time. 7 years later, I still don’t have one… but not because I am worried / scared. I can’t decide what to get!!!

Paretsky’s books are also somewhat educational. She takes care to provide a lot of details (without going overboard) about the social issue and topics she’s handling in each one. It makes for a great mystery, but also a solid learning experience.

The main character, Warshawski, is very amusing in an offbeat way. She’s got a chip on her shoulder and often borders on “I want to knock her down a peg or two,” simply because she sometimes lets her attitude get in the way of her success, both in her personal life and her professional life. However, she’s also a very dedicated and solid friend, so you know you can always count on her.

Lots of great scenes in this book, particularly about the art of tattoo work and the impact of war on soldiers. Also a few highly descriptive scenes including some violence. Not too bad, but enough that it may turn off a few folks who prefer the cozy mystery. I don’t know how that woman gets back up again after being knocked down so many times. I’d stay on the floor and say “I’m done.”

If you’re not up for a whole series, you can read this one stand-alone. Not a big connection between all the books other than the timeline of her aging and some friends that shift in and our of her life.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Jeopardy in July

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Jeopardy in JulyMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Barbara Venkataraman‘s Jeopardy in July, the fifth book in her Jamie Quinn mystery series. I’m starting to love this series! It’s simple, direct and easy-to-read, but it makes for such a fun experience.

 

Why This Book
The author and I connected months ago and I began reading her series. When the newest one came out, we chatted again and I was quick to jump on this read. I added it to TBR in late March when it was released and found myself propelling it to the must-read rather quickly. And I sat down at the end of my day today and finished it in less than 3 hours!


Overview of Story
Jamie Quinn has been a family law attorney for about ten years, growing tired of the boring cases that pass her desk. Though she’s had fun working on the unexpected murder cases over the last few years, those aren’t ones she comes across very often. And her boyfriend is stuck in Australia for a month longer than they expected, leaving her facing the world on her own. When she takes on some extra work at the local senior facility, providing advice about wills, inheritances and long-term care. But when something seems amiss with too many deaths at the facility, Jamie’s hot on the trail again.

South Florida. Forged paintings. An artist with a potential passion to do the right thing. Unfamiliar family connections. A mysterious flower that causes death, appearing as though it’s a foaming mouth. And that’s just 1 of her newest cases. How will Jamie figure it all out? With the help of bestie Grace, and Grace’s state senate candidate boyfriend, who annoys the heck out of Jamie. As she gets closer to the clues, along with PI sidekick Duke, Jamie’s sure to find a future in crime fighting this time!

Approach & Style
Barbara Venkataraman‘s style is absolute ease. The main character is a fun and quirky lawyer, one who has a witty and snappy tongue, but always comes across as someone you wish you knew. The book has so much humor, it’s hard to stop giggling sometimes. It’s not all-out crazy laughter, but a subtle hint of “this chick is cool and I wanna know her” type humor. And her banter with her favorite PI, ladies’ man Duke Broussard, is dynamic. I love their scenes together, even if it’s not about the case. Long-term, I kinda want them to end up together.

I read this as an e-read on my iPad through Kindle. The point of view stays on Jamie the whole story, following her antics across her own family drama and her various cases. In this one, two of her cases collide when art forgery meets death at the senior care facility. Chapters are short, quick to ingest… always humorous… and they leave you constantly wanting to click forward to the next one. And the author publishes a few a year, which should be enough, but I’m always wanting more!

Strengths
Jamie’s a true heroine. She’s funny. She’s smart. Flawed. Tragic. Strong. And represents us all.
Duke’s such a hoot. He’s over-the-top and warrants a good slap in the face… or a little fun on the side… hard to tell sometimes.

The plot is straightforward, but has a few fun jaunts along the way. It is easy to follow, leaves you wanting to solve it on your own with all the information at your fingertips.
Jamie’s search for her own love and family hops along throughout the story, and with each of the five books, she gets a little closer. I love following this side-story.

Open Questions & Thoughts
I wish these were longer. Barbara Venkataraman‘s gonna hate me for saying this, but it always ends a little too soon. I wish the plots were a little more complex and a little longer, just to draw out the fun.

Jamie just falls into her situations all the time. I think it’s a good thing, but it can also be a problem… as in too coincidental; however, the way book 5 ends shows a lot of promise for changes to Jamie’s life that I think could be of a great benefit.

Final Thoughts
When I first started the series, I thought it had potential. As I read each story, my biggest concern was they were too short (about 200 pages). As I made the journey from book 1 thru book 5, I found myself really looking forward to reading each book. It’s an uncomplicated and focused read, taking you on a fun journey through a likable character’s personal and career growth. It’s not about how complex the plot is or how much the author can shock you. It’s just a good laugh-out-loud read for a few hours. And I’m quite fond of them!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews