Beyond the Waterfall Links!

Beyond the Waterfall Cover (Final)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTB65X4

There it is folks. My second book on Amazon. “Beyond the Waterfall.” Worked way too long to get it up there. But it’s finally done.

Go buy it. Seriously. Stop right here and by it.

I’ll wait.

 

 

 

 

 

WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?! You should be buying it!

 

 

Meh.

 

Okay, I’ll assume you’ve bought it by now.

 

Let’s see…big things this week. I’m hosting the Blizzard Bronies table at the “Campus Rush” thing. Remember those event fairs back in college where all the groups would come out and you’d check them out? Well, doing the same thing for the Brony group. Kinda scary, since I’m the only one. But hopefully that won’t be for long. It should be fun.

And I’m teaching myself shell scripts and all about System Image Utility and OS X Server. It’s harder than it sounds. Really.

But right now, that’s all I have. Just check out the book!

 

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

 

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Proud to be a Brony

I wanted to update you on the progress of Michael Morones’s Recovery Fund.

On January 30th, between the time I started my post and finished my post, the fund to cover Michael’s medical expenses had gone from $17,000ish to over $18,000.

Today?

Today the fund stands at $31,985.

$31,985 raised by 1,053 people in 5 days.

This astounds me. It’s simply mind-blowing. Sometimes, I doubt that there is much good in the world. You turn on the news and it’s nothing but pain and suffering. Wars, deaths, shootings, insanity, corruption… I was once in an advertising class where the teacher showed us the two greatest things to help advertising: sex and death. And to me, there’s been a lot of death lately.

And the worst part? It’s become part of pop culture.

I decided to check out this week’s Neilsen Ratings for Prime Broadcast TV.

Number Two is NCIS.

Number Seven is NCIS: Los Angeles

Number Eight is Criminal Minds.

Number Ten is CSI.

( I’ll behave myself and not rant about reality TV here, which held two spots in the list)

These are not uplifting shows. These are not shows about tolerance or friendship or kindness or love. These are shows often about what the worst of humanity does and how the various law enforcement agencies fight against it. Now maybe there’s some sense of comfort in seeing the legal process work. But I have to ask, is that what we should be focusing on?

And when I see this…

It makes me even prouder to be a Brony. Because it actually means something. It’s moved beyond just a fan thing. It’s a community. I’ll admit that I’m a fairly silent member of that community. I don’t go to cons or participate much in forums. I listen to the music, have way too much Pony fan art in my screensaver selection and buy the products that I really like and probably own just a few too many Pony shirts, but that’s it. In truth, I’m a bit afraid of trying a social situation with them. But that’s because of my own innate shyness (believe it or not).

But occasionally, I’ll be walking through a mall or something and get a brohoof from another random guy. And that’s when I smile and I know I’m not alone.

What’s the point of all this?

When I first decided to become a Brony (and yes, it was a conscious decision), it was because I knew I had to conquer the demon of fear. The demon of social disapproval. Just a few minutes ago, I was telling people in my break room about the Michael Morones fund and how Bronies have come to this poor child’s aid. A year ago, that couldn’t have happened. I wasn’t capable of it.

And while many of them have made silly comments about Bronies before…none of them did today. I don’t know if what I said will actually matter. But you know what? I want to go through life as trying to change the world around me. I want to leave the world a little better than the way I found it. I’m only one person. And while I know one person can change the course of history, I don’t see myself as one of those people.

I see myself as just someone who wants to help the people around him. I’ll often do it in foolish, stumbling ways, sticking my foot in my mouth and making an idiot out of myself. But I’m going to keep trying.

And that’s what my writing is all about. I’m not writing to make money. I’m not writing for fame or glory.

I write because I love to tell stories. And I want to share those stories with those around me. That’s it.

Would I like to be able to make a living off writing? Yes. And that’s why it’s my 5 year goal. But if I can give one person some joy through my words, then I’ve done what I’ve meant to do. If I can touch more, that’s just bonus.

This sounds rather silly. In fact, when I posted The Power of Communities, I doubted it would do much. I didn’t think it would get much attention. I even posted it again on Facebook, just hoping that at least one person might look to donate and help this poor child.

And then last night…a miracle happened. Something that shocked me. Something that shook me to the core. Something that told me my words were not useless. That they did matter. At least to one person.

A member of Michael’s own family. 

I have no idea how this person found my blog. With the enormous amount of donations and well-wishes, I have no clue how I could have gotten through to one of them. Granted, I had posted twice on Facebook and I did donate through Facebook…but still…considering the amount of visitors my page gets on a daily basis…

I don’t know. But I was so humbled by this woman’s comment. To be totally honest, I can’t even put the emotions I’m feeling into any sort of coherent statement. I don’t understand how I feel…but I know it’s powerful.

So, I’m going to post this. Not for me. But to show the power of the Brony community that I am so proud to be a member of.

Thank you so much for this wonderful post. Michael is a wonderful, sweet, intelligent and compassionate little boy. My son is his step-brother. My son happens to be autistic, and Michael…oh, the way he would protect him, and love him, and treat him just the same way he treated his own flesh-and-blood brothers…he’s just an amazing inspirational kid all around. Thank you for sharing your story on bullying. What was once regarded as a “rite of passage” as we transitioned from childhood to adolesence, has now become a full-fledged war with the internet being used as the prime weapon. The Brony Community has rallied around Michael, protecting him just as fiercely as Michael protects his own brothers. The Michael Morones Recovery Fund has reached nearly $27,000. That’s $9000 raised in just 2 days since you blogged on January 30. To put it simply: Bronies…you guys are what friendship and magic are all about. On behalf of the Morones and Suttle Families, thank you. God Bless all of you. – Stacy Suttle

So while the world may seem in flames…everything coming apart at the seams…political drama, wars, death, chaos and mayhem…

It might be a little cheesy, but I’m reminded of a line from a movie. It’s a movie that Laura and I watch every Christmas Eve while eating my homemade chicken fried rice. And it’s still one of my favorites. “Love Actually.”

It’s actually the first line in the movie, spoken by Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister of England.

And somehow…it seems suitable:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

So I ask you…what do you want your message to be? Do you want to be the bully who spews hate and ridicule to make yourself feel more powerful? To crush those around you because you don’t understand them? To drive them into a spiral of self-hatred and depression?

Or do you want to give a message of love? Kindness? Loyalty? Laughter? Generosity? Honesty? 

Do you want to be able to do true magic?

Because there’s nothing more magical than touching someone’s heart.

That’s why I write. And it’s why I’m a Brony.

What about you?

Good night folks.

Good luck and have fun.

(And by the way, the fund is now at $32,125. Amazing, isn’t it?)

-rks

The Power of Communities: Helping Michael Morones

I don’t usually start posts like this, but this one is important, for several reasons. If you’re a follower of my blog, I ask that you read this in its entirety, despite what it may appear to be about at the beginning.

As many of you know, in the last year, I have become an avid My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan. I’m more into it than my 3-year-old daughter Caitlyn. That’s no secret. And I’ve spoken at length about embracing passions that make you happy, even when they fly in the face of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”

That’s not what this post is about.

It’s about a boy. An eleven-year-old boy named Michael Morones.

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I want you all to read this story.

Michael Morones, an 11 year old boy in North Carolina, recently attempted to take his own life due to bullying received on account of being a fan of the show ‘My Little Pony’. Fortunately, the attempt was caught and halted in time to save his life, but he sustained severe brain damage. The family has reached out and is asking if the community from the show he loves can help out with the medical expenses.

Here’s What his Family have to say: Michael is a huge lover of all music. He started to learn Violin because of Lindsey Stirling and harmonica because of my career as a musician years ago. The more people that can share this the better. We want this beyond viral for two reasons, one to share the anti bullying message and two to share michaels amazing faith in God and I know if Michael was awake right now he would want to give nothing but forgiveness and love to the bully’s who teased him so they would know what it’s like to be accepted without harsh words or violence.

A bit more detail: On Thursday he attempted to take his life by hanging himself. He has suffered brain damage due to the lack of oxygen and the family is not sure what his state will be should he recover.

As you can probably guess, I can understand this child’s plight. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I was bullied, teased, ridiculed, mocked or any one of a dozen other words during my childhood. I was so incompatible with dealing with social situations during elementary school that I spent a vast majority of my lunches and recesses in the school library. I had very little in the way of friends growing up and frankly, I still find it difficult to develop true friendships.

During high school, a friend of mine named Amir killed himself. I don’t want to tell you how…but it was far more brutal than this poor child. I attended the same classes as him. I’d hung out with him. I honestly don’t know why he did it. But I remember feeling so damn helpless at the time, wishing I could have done something to help him.

As an aside, there are only two full books of my poetry in existence. One of them is in the possession of my grandmother. The other is in the possession of Amir’s mother.

There are horrors all around this world. Terrible things happen every day. Things that normal people don’t even comprehend. Some are great. Some are small. But they all hurt. I don’t believe the bullies involved in Michael’s incident wanted him dead. They have their own problems, their own insecurities. And likely the guilt of what they did will haunt them for the rest of their lives. I don’t hate them. I’m angry at them, but I refuse to hate them.

Why?

Because it’s against the message of the show that Michael loved.

Some of you ask why I am such a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There is the wonderful characters, the brilliant (and often hysterical) music, the surprisingly good story lines, the animation and more.

By why am I open about being a Brony?

Because of the community.

As of today, the fundraiser for Michael has raised over $18,000. 

Stop and think about that.

The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan community has donated over $18,000 dollars to a boy they don’t know, they have never met and they will likely never meet.

There is no other fan community I am aware of that can claim such an amazing feat, especially not one based around anything like My Little Pony. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic celebrates the character traits of generosity, kindness, honesty, loyalty and laughter. They teach tolerance. They teach love, even those who are different. They teach believing in yourself. They teach friendship and the power of good relationships.

These are important messages. And there are very few shows on television right now that celebrate these things.

So this show has spawned a completely unexpected fan base way outside their demographic who actually decide to put these character traits into action.

Let me give you a few more examples:

Bronies for Good: “Bronies for Good is committed to fostering the growth of a global community of caring, socially conscious individuals through the organization of service events worldwide and encouraging individual, group and social involvement.” —Our mission statement

They have raised $30,000 for the Children’s Cancer Association. They raised $100,000 in 2012 alone for various causes. They support and organize  blood donations. They began Your Siblings, a charitable nonprofit organization with the aim to provide effective and sustainable humanitarian aid. This program carefully select their aid projects, applying strict criteria, and then support them with  donations, which they forward in full.

The Your Siblings Project has also accomplished the following: (Seeds of Kindness was a charity music album by prominent members of the Brony music community.)

  1. Seeds of Kindness 1 and 2 funded the Safe Project orphanage of Another Hope in Uganda, who just moved into their new building.
  2. Seeds of Kindness 1 funded a medical clinic in Uganda that has already made a difference hundreds of people’s lives.
  3. Seeds of Kindness 1 also funded the Green Village in Burundi, which has been able to accept more street children in, and has been able to reunite others with their families.

The Brony Thank You Fund, Incorporated is a New Hampshire registered non-profit corporation, organized to raise funds for donation to charitable organizations and to encourage such donations. This group is officially recognized by the United States Government as a 501(c) nonprofit organization.

These are some of the groups they have donated to:

12/24/13: $50,000.00
The California Institute of the Arts

11/18/13: $1517.00
Habitat for Humanity Intl

6/16/13: $2,515.71
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

5/15/13: $2,000.00
The College View School

3/27/13: 1,598.52
Engineers Without Borders, USA

3/27/13: 1,598.52
GLSEN

3/15/13: $8,477.87
The College View School

9/17/12: $11,960.00
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
(Donated Advertising)

7/19/12: $6,000.00
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation

6/5/12: $1,000.00
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation

I want you to take a moment and think about this. Realize the implications of something as amazing as charities driven by “those strange guys who watch a show for little girls.”

There is something here. Something powerful. Something magical. Something that defies explanation.

It’s too easy to ignore Bronies as strange deviants who dress up in fursuits and flood forum channels with disturbing Pony imagery. For every one of the crazies, there are a dozen good people who had found a common bond through the community.

There are Bronies out there performing miracles of generosity, kindness and love every day. They are rarely recognized. They are rarely seen. Many of the donations on Michael’s website are anonymous. I’m reminded of Mark 9:41: “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

Now I don’t pretend that all of these people are Christian. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the amazing power of generosity that this community had revealed.

So, in closing, I’d like to stop. I’m not asking for you to watch the show. I’m not asking you to like the show. I’m not asking you to buy the merchandise.

I’m asking you to think.

I’m asking you to stop.

I’m asking you not to mock anyone who professes enjoyment of six colorful cartoon ponies.

Because for all you know, that person may have just gave his gas money to a poor boy on life support, or Habitat for Humanity or helped orphans in Uganda.

As for me?

I was My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic because I like the show.

But I announce myself to be a Brony because of the community.

If you’re interested in donating to Michael’s recovery fund, please go to this website and donate anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $500. Look through the donations. Every little penny counts.

Thank you everyone.

Goodnight.

-rks

No One Here But Us Ponies…

Ponies

I hate to admit it, but my entire household has come down with a severe case of Ponies. And of course, I’m leading the pack. *Laughs* Caitlyn loves My Little Pony as well, though. Even Laura’s constantly wanting to watch it. There’s something I can’t really describe about this show. It’s snarky in parts, but overall, it’s so cheerful and upbeat. And I think that’s a big deal right now.

If you look at a vast majority of television on in the last few years, it has been unequivocally dark. CSI and Law and Order shows continue to be popular, as do Reality TV shows that seem to celebrate people bashing upon one another. To have something so cheerful and upbeat, which revolves primarily about lessons in friendship, I think that is filling a need within people. I think it’s such a huge need for most people that they’ve gotten enough courage to finally admit it to people around them.

I’ll admit that I’d been tempted to watch this show for years. I didn’t do so because I was worried I would be embarrassed. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I’ve always been desperate for acceptance since I spent most of my childhood and teenage years (hell, most of my life) on the outside of the popular cliques.

But I’m starting to realize I spent too much of my life in fear about what other people might think. And most of those other people I don’t even like. How absurd is that?

There’s a quote I found on Wikipedia regarding the huge fandom of the “Bronies.” It struck a cord with me, so I thought I would share it.

“…One contributor to “The Brony Study” said that the adult fans are “a reaction to the US having been engrossed in terrorism for past ten years” in a manner similar to the Cold War, and are “tired of being afraid, tired of angst and animosity”; the show and its fandom are outlets from those strifes.”

(From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Little_Pony:_Friendship_Is_Magic_fandom)

So, in the interests of full disclosure, I am a full fan of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series.

Writing and Such

Writing has come to a slow lately. I’ve done some more work on Stormhaven, finally making some headway into another scene (finally). I also taught myself a huge amount about ebook publishing and design from Pages and Word. Since I got my new iPad, I decided to experiment a bunch with it. I’m liking what I’ve done so far.

I’m not quite sure what’s coming next for this, but it should be interesting. I’m hoping to finish Stormhaven…

And then?

And then I’m going to get Soul of the Scribe published, dammit.

It’s about time I was out there.

Good luck and have fun!

-rks