November 1975 - Roller Rink Black and Blues
I first went to a real roller rink with an old girlfriend, when I was about 20 years old, in 1975. The place used to be called the Empire Roller Skating Center, located in Crown Heights Brooklyn. It's been closed since 2007, which is really a shame because of its long, rich history. Some say that this place was where disco roller-skating was born. Inventive speed skating and hard driving moves such as the Brooklyn Bounce was the theme of this place in the seventies.
As we walked in, Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" was moving everyone along the floor. The 20,000-watt sound system seemed to be driving the skaters to prove that one was better than the other. There were flickering strobe lights and the ever-invigorating rush of cool breeze as skaters rushed close to us within the barriers of the rink. Excitement was in the air as we walked over to rent our skates but the thrill of anticipation was about to turn to something else.
After lacing up and then stepping onto the rink, we could not help but feel that we were out of our league. Being novice skaters, my friend and I wondered if we were even in the right place. Watching the aggressive, fast paced maneuvers of the seemingly expert skaters was fascinating to see but intimidating to be in the middle of. It was Saturday night and what seemed like a good idea back in Manhattan, now was feeling like a mistake.
The place was so crowded that if you about to fall, you couldn't fall. I was genuinely scared, the one or two times that I fell, The thought of getting fingers run over or being knocked down again was a real fear under the circumstances. The amazing thing was that the aggressive skaters were so good at their art that they easily avoided or even jumped over me. I'm not kidding. I actually had a guy jump over me when I was down. It was thrilling to see but not a position I preferred to be in.
We stayed for about an hour and then called it a night. Next weekend, we returned to the famous Empire Roller Skating Center one more time (mostly because my friend wanted to and against my better judgment). My skating was not much better and overall it was just too crowded to relax and have fun. This was not the place to leisurely relive my youth and re-learn to skate. By the end of the night, I decided to hang my rental skates up for a while.
November 1962 - Feel The Pain
Learning to balance on eight wheels sounds difficult to a first-timer but it really wasn't. My older brother and I were roller-skating together since I was five, both outside and inside of the apartment project. After learning to travel over stones and bumpy concrete outside and rarely falling, my need for Iodine and bandages became less and less over the years. Indoor skating was different though. As we rolled through the hallways of the apartment, mom and dad would pretty much start screaming but what was a couple of young boys supposed to do when there is all that open floor tile and linoleum?
My first set of skates was the ones with straps and clamps on the front. They would grab around my sneakers and I had to tighten the clamps up with the skate key. At times, the skates would slip off because kids are always in a hurry and the science of these moving platforms was just too simple.
All this simplicity changed when the time came for me to learn to ice skate. My short history with these types of skates only spanned over one season, during the winter of 1962. I was nine years old and my father thought it would be a great activity for the growing boys to take what they had learned and apply those skills to a frozen surface. He took us to a sporting goods store and we all got our own brand new skates. Very easy to walk in while at the store, so let's go skating!!
Imagine what used to be called the Wollman Memorial Skating Rink in Central Park (since 1987, it's been called the Trump Wollman Memorial Skating Rink, after the reconstruction). That crisp November in '62 it was still early but there were others already on the ice.
We sat on a bench lacing up our shoes with the magic metal blades on them. It was cold outside and I quickly wanted to get to skating to warm up. My father could see that my brother and I were obviously impatient.
"Lace them up tight" my father said sternly to my brother and I.
"You boys don't want to get hurt."
I followed my father and brother unto the ice and found this to be a totally different experience then roller-skating. Regardless of me holding on to the support areas on the sides, I still found a way to fall on my butt. Not only was I cold but now my knees, gloves and butt were wet. This was not enjoyable. My father patiently stood next to me as I pulled myself together. It was difficult to stand and keep the blades perpendicular to the ground but I forced them to straighten out.
I looked across the ice and saw my brother actually making progress. He had already fallen and gotten up quite a few times but now he was ice-skating. That was it. I was going to learn if it killed me.
I finally did bend my knees and began to move myself forward but it was at a price. It seems that the pressure that I exerted on the muscle along the exterior portion of my right leg between my ankle and knee became increasingly sore as I forced my shoe to straighten. Seems like my thin ankles did not want do what everyone else’s did. I sat down a few times, hoping this would relieve some of the pressure but when I got back up on the ice, it got worst.
My father and brother re-tightened my laces, gave me pointers and encouraged me as much as possible but my ankle was not listening. I was in too much pain. After one more try, I sat gloomily and watched my brother and father while they moved around the rink with increasing agility.
Next weekend, I returned to the rink with thicker socks for support but it made no difference. Once we returned home, that was the end of my illustrious career as an ice-skater.
To be continued .......
GOODREADS BOOK GIVEAWAYS - CASTLE ON THE HILL: SECRETS & THE DREAM DILEMMA - REFLECTIONS OF EL Book2
Tech, Lies and Wizardry is not just an enticing choice for a title. There’s a great story attached to this space opera, which does not disappoint. I picked this read knowing that it was a short story (about 25 pages) but as soon after it began, I wished that it could be so much longer.
Morin’s crew of diverse personalities (and/or creatures), are interesting and very well fleshed out. The author quickly shows this, as the unlikely band are thrust into an unexpected mission at the Orion Space Station. The way they “get the job done” is both unexpected and entertaining. I’m curious to know what happens next to this rag tail crew that reminds of the Firefly TV series that I always enjoyed.
Bravo to J.S. Morin for a great lead in to what I’m certain are many entertaining novels.
Tech, Lies & Wizardry by J.S. Morin
Since the number of people interested in following my work has increased, I’ve decided it’s time to restate how I started out on this journey. I always felt I had something to share but I knew that my mental ramblings needed to be in a more concrete form so others might appreciate what I had to say.
I had been writing down personal events in the form of short stories for decades and about twenty years ago; I decided to put them into what I call a Time-Line. Strung together, they would form all of the important events in my life, from birth to the present. It only seemed to make sense to create a chronological recording system to give further order to my precious facts. The categories needed to perform this awesome task noted the dates of every job, schools attended, closest friends, favorite movies, music, places I've resided and every important event that I could remember and/or scrape together through friends and relatives. As this hobby grew, so did the sheets of papers that I was documenting the information on. I taped together sheets so that I could form a continuous time-line until finally, the running testament of my life stretched out to be about twenty pages long! Because this method finally became a folding nightmare, I knew that I had to find a better way to keep this information running.
During the late 1990's, I attempted to use my first computer (an IBM) as a way to keep up with my quest to permanently document my journey. To my disappointment and discouragement, after many hours, the five pages that I had so carefully typed, suddenly disappeared from the small screen. Not being a typist and at the time, not knowing what the word back-up meant, in frustration, I reverted back to my paper and pencil.
A few years later, my second attempt to try this again occurred with my then new Compaq computer. This annoying machine helped me to understand what the word crashed meant. I was able to print out the first ten pages of my life, but when the computer choked and finally stopped working, all of my hard work was again lost. If nothing else, I was learning what home computers of the day were capable of. Besides the occasional video game, I was not happy. Still determined, I finally got another literary companion (a Dell) but it was another two years before I got the guts to again attempt placing my over-whelming project into a machine that might either swallow up my information or die on the way to doing it.
I learned to use Microsoft Excel as a way of chronologically keeping up with all of the dates. I rejoiced when I discovered that I could even insert pictures along with the information to give a clearer picture of the memory that I was trying to preserve. As the information turned into longer stories and the pictures took over more and more space, I felt the need to expand and give more detail to the stories pass the Excel program.
By 2010, I decided to convert some form of the information into a self-published book. There was no way that I was going to write an auto-biography to throw out to the world, with all the rich, intimate details of my life so instead, I used a lot of my own experiences and either altered or added to them. After all, there is such a thing as writer's privilege. I still find it remarkable how a person can start out with one idea and then through what seems like inspiration, then be led down a path that you had no idea that you would be traveling. The feeling that accompanies inspired creativity is a story for another time though.
In terms of expertise to write the book, I figured that my growing up in Harlem, attending Music & Art High School (then in Harlem) and graduating from C.C.N.Y. (still in Harlem), gave me enough of a perspective to be able to speak authoritatively about my surroundings. After various drafts, I finally wrote my first book, Reflections of EL: In Search of Self. It’s about the first twenty or so years of my life, but with twists and turns included, of course.
Presently, I’m working on my fifth book and I’m doing my best to keep up with my blogs and four separate websites.
The purpose then, as it is now, is to continue to spread the joy of storytelling to all those who might be interested. I appreciate those that continue to come along for the ride and I promise to do my best to give you an interesting journey. See you next week, if not sooner.
An interview done by Ms. Gwendolyn Kiste (posted on her blog on 3/2/16).
Welcome back once again! For this week’s interview, I’m thrilled to present the awesome Lloyd Green. Lloyd is a writer with quite an impressive resume. He’s penned numerous short stories and novels, and he has an impeccable eye for research in his historical genre-blending fiction.
Recently, Lloyd and I discussed ghosts, horror, and how his incredible writing career came to be.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
First of all, Gwendolyn, I’d like to thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed.
I’ve been writing short stories since I was a teenager and I’ve always been interested in reading science fiction and horror novels. I didn’t seriously think about being a writer until seven years ago. A high school friend, who now lives in another country, located me through Facebook. I proceeded to email her pages and pages of narrative in an attempt to bring her up to date about decades of relationships, jobs and family. She repeatedly commented that what I was sending her seemed more like a fascinating book and asked if I had ever considered writing. Some of the material in those letters, I eventually used in my first bookReflections of EL: In Search of Self. So my need to seriously write science fiction and fantasy really began with this first fan and it expanded from there.
Without a doubt, Stephen King is my all time favorite writer. I’ve been reading his work since Carrie first called out to me from the retail bookshelf. The man writes his characters and plots as if he were standing there watching the action. Second is Frank Herbert because of his effective world and history building as shown in his Dune series and finally there’s Orson Scott Card beginning with his book Ender’s Game. I admire the plot twists and secrets in this book and also the following ones in the series.
You and I share a bit of educational background: we both hold psychology degrees. Has your education ever worked its way into your writing in surprising ways, and do you have any advice to newer writers out there about how to get inside the heads of their characters?
If I’ve learned anything, I recognize not to compartmentalize a character. When writing about a criminal, don’t just figure that he must have had a dark past and he has to be evil to the core. His course might have begun with the purest of intentions. The real core of the character is the reasons for the decisions he makes. The more his reasoning feels similar to the reader, the more a reader will identify with the criminal and understand the path that he takes in an attempt to accomplish his goals. Understanding the criminal’s motivations also means the reader understands that there are layers of good and evil in all of us. We are all complicated beings but above all else, we yearn to be noticed and heard.
The same holds true for the intellectually disabled individuals who I worked with for decades. Recently, I wrote a short story, “Poor Interfaces,” which describes the relationship between a staff person and the one that he cares for. Being able to relate to the disabled as people who have something in common with you instead of people who are different, moves the relationship from administrator or direct caregiver to one of friendship. There will always be the professional side that has to be maintained but in the long run we are more drawn to help our friends because we feel that we are also helping ourselves.
Your work often touches upon a variety of paranormal elements. Have you always been a fan of the horror and fantasy genres?
As far back as I can remember. As a child, I was scared to death of horror movies. When I finally understood that my imagination and what I thought might happen was scaring me worse than the actual event, everything changed. After this realization, I began to look forward to the presentation of the rush of fear that the writers and/or directors were serving up.
I’ve always believed in otherworldly life. We usually become afraid of whatever cannot be concretely explained. I’ve only had one paranormal experience and to this day, I’m not certain if it was real. One morning in 1994, I woke up to find an elderly woman standing a few feet away from my bed. From behind her, sunlight softly bled through the sheer window curtains. Her entire form was shimmering as if she were glowing. Her stringy hair was bleached white and her outstretched gnarly hands reached out towards me. She did not say a word and for this I was thankful because I feared what message she might present to me. I shut my eyes in terror, praying that this horror was not real. When I was brave enough to open one eye, she was not there. I’ve never been able to determine whether the entity was real or a dream.
In my writing, I use mystical and/or frightening characters that are just a bit too human. I get the reader to identify with the seemingly odd character by writing about them as if they were a close friend or family member. This would slowly get the new acquaintance crawling under the reader’s skin because they feel they understand the character. In spite of the character being frightening, this finally leads to the reader caring when the creature is not making appropriate decisions. A successful writer has learned to realistically portray the monster, which lives in all of us.
In some of your work, including The Green Legacy, which takes place in the nineteenth century, you interweave elements of historical fiction. What is your research process when writing a time period piece?
I love historical fiction because there is a frame of reference that the reader might already be familiar with. After I decide on the time period, I dig into finding as much information on the town and its people as possible. There will always be fact-finders who will stop what they are reading in order to look up the background circumstances that the writer is describing. Since I’m going through the trouble of documenting and presenting, it only makes sense that I deal with information that can be proven. It cuts down on arguments and it’s a lot less embarrassing when others begin to pick apart facts.
While putting together my book, The Green Legacy, I started with a search of my own family tree. I came across a branch that held two different names for the same distant relative. That made it difficult to verify who this person was and her true place within the family. In this case, I collected as much history as I could from relatives and again explored Ancestry.com in an attempt to verify her place in the Green family lineage. Only after all of this did I begin to include this person as part of what I call factual family history. After this foundation was set, I then moved into the fictional story that I really wanted to tell, which is about a sixteen-year old with psychic abilities who is sold into slavery and her secret agenda.
You’ve written both novels and short stories. How is your process different (or similar) depending on the length of the work?
Not really different. I write out my general ideas but I eventually turn it all into a chart. How extensive the chart becomes will sometimes determine the length of the story. The chart is necessary to ensure consistency between plot twists and secrets. As most writers know, you can never say, “I’m going to write a 350-page speculative fictional story today.” Stories take on a life of their own and they will be as long as they need to be. My outline simply helps with consistency because it drives me nuts to proofread and find facts out of place or secrets mistakenly revealed too early.
Out of your published stories, do you have a personal favorite?
That’s easy. “Halloween – 1979.” It was published through Sanitarium Magazine. It’s a short story about two couples that decide to visit a well-know haunted house on Halloween night. One participant discovered that the creeping fear was not contained within the established house of horrors. The basis for this disturbing story is based on a factual personal event.
Huge thanks to Lloyd Green for being our featured author this week! Find him online at EndlessPerceptions.com and at LloydGreen.org. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
The original interview can be found at Gwendolyn Kiste's website at gwendolynkiste.com/Blog
The greatest happiness you can feel is when you share with someone you love.