Time for show and tell...
Sometimes, you get to meet your hero.
On August 22, 2017, I got to meet one of my all-time favorite literary heroes, Stan Lee. Truth be told, this was the third time I met Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. This time, it was part of a celebration of the man and his accomplishments at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. At almost 95 years of age, a year before his death, he was still funny, engaging, inspiring, and generous. May we all be so lucky!
The event was hosted by one of my favorite hosty comedians, Chris Hardwick. Chris was hilarious and even helped navigate some microphone problems that came up throughout the event. Like most of us in the audience, Chris loves Stan and it showed!
Stan made a lot of friends in his many years working on Marvel projects, like Lou Ferrigno, perhaps best known as The Incredible Hulk. Lou credited Stan with his marriage, his career, and his life. No small words from a very big man with a big heart. Loved seeing them reunited!
Stan had a good time giving grief to Michael Rooker, the actor known as Merle on the show, The Walking Dead and as Yondu in both of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies! Rooker was a pistol, but Stan is the Man!
I loved being asked to be an official new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Wonder what kind of trouble we can get into?
I enjoyed a thoroughly engaging evening with readers and writers at the Orange County LitUp event at Kean Coffee in Tustin on January 24, 2017. I was honored to be a featured author!
Reading the first chapter from my debut novel, The French Girl's War was a lot of fun. Sharing my work and my perspectives on the writing and research of the novel was great, too!
There's nothing like interacting live with your readers! They were generous with their attention and their kind remarks!
There's no one more supportive of writers or better at interviewing them than Maddie Margarita!
She asked a lot about my motivations, my research, and my writing process. Even the audience got to ask questions. It was a lively evening and a load of fun!
Enjoyed my time on April 11, 2015, speaking to the Orange County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in Fullerton about researching historical fiction. I even got a certificate of thanks!
Telling the story of my grandfather—after whom I was named—and sharing the photo of his gravesite in Italy.
Delivering the message that building a good story is about developing compelling characters, regardless of where they are or when they lived. Historical fiction is the delicate blend of historical facts and human truths.
Receiving a lovely certificate from OC SAR Vice President John Ferris on the left and OC SAR President Jim Klingler on the right. Yep, that's me in the middle, honored and happy to be there! Turns out, I'm short. Who knew?
Researching my upcoming novel, Jingle Boys in New York in August 2014...
I arrived at the Brooklyn Public Library in August 2014 to research my upcoming novel, Jingle Boys, which takes place in New York during World War II and follows the adventures of three young jingle writers as they play a key role in the war.
I was immediately taken by how beautiful the library is, with some incredible inscriptions around the perimeter that left me very inspired.
The building's entrance is covered with both historical and literary artwork that made me gawk in the doorway for ten minutes as locals were forced to walk around me. Sorry, Brooklyn!
The library hosts a collection called, "The Brooklyn Collection" featuring a trove of treasures from Brooklyn's history—the perfect place to begin my research. Besides, the Internet does not offer that wonderful smell of old books from 1942!
With help from my new literary ally, Ben—the Senior Librarian of the Brooklyn Collection—I had access to all manner of archival gems stemming back to Brooklyn's beginnings.
Prior to my trip, I had filled Ben in on my new novel's premise. He then took time ahead of my visit to comb through the archives and pull out maps, books, photos, menus, baseball memorabilia (go, Brooklyn Dodgers!) and all kinds of information about Brooklyn from the 1940's.
Looking over a map of Brooklyn from 1942, I decided that Kensington would be the right part of town in which to set my stroy. I even got to see what subway lines and rails were running back then. Gotta keep it all authentic!
You can't go to Brooklyn without visiting Coney Island! My friend Jon and I took the subway straight through Brooklyn, but it felt like we were traveling back in time.
We had a great adventure riding the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone, just as my protagonists would have done in 1943. I even got to try a hot dog and bowled a couple rounds of my favorite old-time fairground game, Skee-ball!
Coney Island has been fun for people ever since men wore one-piece full-body bathing suits! Love the good old days.
We made our way to Manhattan to get the flavor of the hustle and bustle of New York City. One great way to take in the sight of the city from up high is to pay a visit to the "Top of the Rock"—the rooftop tour of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Tina Fey wasn't there to show us around, but we got to go straight to the top for a breathtaking panoramic view of man's creation. I couldn't help but imagine myself as one of those construction workers sitting on a beam with my lunchbox.
As awe-striking as the buildings are, one can't forget the natural beauty of Central Park. Tree-lined trails, turtle-filled lakes, bridges, statues, and even a little castle fill this wonderful haven in the midst of the city.
We hoofed it through half the park in what took most of a day and probably clocked about ten miles when all was said and done. We were sore, but it was worth it!
Eating, jetting around the city, riding the rails, or speeding along in subways, we had a great time and I gathered both a wealth of information and a head full of experiences. Can't wait to see them translate into my novel, Jingle Boys.