Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. -Author Unknown
(interestingly - also author unknown)
My last name is very hard to pronounce. Few have done so correctly the first time or even the tenth. I've often thought of changing it to Phillips or Jones. If you think, Gate-ches, you're on the right track.
I live in beautiful Murphy NC with my girlfriends Sherry and Ali. What's wrong with you people? Ali is our eleven year old boxer. We also have an array of other pets that include cats, chickens, ducks, and cows. Yes, you read that right. The cows are pets. They will never be eaten by us or anyone else, though I'm sure they would be delicious.
Me enjoying a cold one on the set of me and my sister Leslie's now defunct YouTube series, Mountain Mishmash. The set is my home theater and if you watch a show - those speakers are 1983 Infinity RSIIa beauties. They're awesome!
After I received my master's degree, I went into music full-time for about five years. That was long enough to realize I didn't want to make a life-long career out of it. That's not saying, however, that I didn't love aspects of it, and that I didn't appreciate the experience.
1989, 90 Freelance musician in south Florida - Adjunct Trumpet Professor at Edison Community College.
1990, 91 Freelance musician on long Island, New York - Lead trumpet with Gateway Theatrical.
1991 - 1994 Principal Trumpet in the Hofer Symphoniker, Hof Germany. Lead trumpet in the Rekenze Brass Quintet, Hof Germany.
Music has been a life-long passion of mine. In my biographies, I often like to say, Mark finds music and writing the perfect mental connection, the nexus of focus and inspiration. That it is. Chances are I'm listening right now.
From left to right
Kess, Jordi, and Pookie.
Pookie the possum lived with us for 2 1/2 years as a beloved pet. I rescued him when he was tiny and far too young to survive. I was unable to save several of his siblings, but he made it and was amazing.
1983 Graduated - Lely High School
1985 Associate of Arts Degree - Edison Community College
1987 Bachelor of Arts Degree - Trumpet Performance - Florida State University
1989 Master of Music Degree - Trumpet Performance - Florida State University
2012 Writing for Children and Teenagers Certificate - Institute of Children’s Literature.
This is the view from my back deck. Jack Wimpey dug this pond with pick and shovel when he was 89 years old. He is now 94.
Other Stuff I've Done
- Some things I can't quite remember. For some reason, much of my life's memories are unobtainable to me. That is mostly a bad thing because I've had a great life.
- Began a love affair with beer while living in Germany. (Never too much though, and mostly domestic nowadays.)
- Rode a lawnmower for five years. For a living.
- Owned and operated a lawn mower shop in central Florida for eight years.
- Moved from flat Florida to some of the prettiest mountains you’ll come across. In the process, I met many wonderful people.
- Completely remodeled a 1964 home. All new walls, floors, electric, plumbing, windows, kitchen, baths, etc. It took one entire year, six days a week, ten hours a day. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. A huge guy named Kit and my cold friend Budweiser helped me on Saturdays. Since then Miller has become my maintenance beer of choice with Corona Extra serving as my one a day mouth pleaser. But almost any beer will do.
- Began writing for real, treating it as a profession. Without knowing what I was in for. If I had it to do over again I would. I really do love every minute of the writing process. The business side of the industry, not so much. (Yes, this is a run-on paragraph. Read it as one long boring sentence, without pausing to breathe or to think. But do pause to take an ice cold swig.)
My Favorite Authors and Books
I write down my impressions when I complete a book knowing the details of the story will be lost to me in no time. Sad but true. I'd blame it on the beer, but it's the way I've always been.
Piers Anthony - Incredibly prolific and imaginative author. His monthly newsletter is entertaining, informative, and full of personal observations. Read it once and you'll see that the man is a genius. He is remarkably approachable through email and is always willing to help new authors. There is a link to his website in the footer of my website. His, Bio of a Space Tyrant, is one of my favorite series ever, especially Volume One - Refugee. Love it!
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Fabulous book with one of the best ever surprise endings.
Dune, by Frank Herbert. This is a truly amazing sci-fi series. I wish someone would create a commensurate movie production. The two previous attempts failed miserably. As for the prequels and sequels, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson... I love nearly all of them. I realize that's a no-no, but I do.
Saul Bellow -- Mr. Sammler's Planet. I find Saul to be a genius. This book is filled with remarkable characters.
Chesterton, G.K. -- The Man Who Was Thursday. I consider this some of the best writing of all time, with a unique story to boot.
Suzanne Collins -- The Hunger Games. Original in every sense. Unlike most series, this one doesn't miss a step. Parts two and three are as good as the first. Now that's amazing.
Fyodor Dostoevsky -- The Brothers Karamazov. Amazing writing! Awesome and provocative, one-sided debate in chapter five between the Grand Inquisitor, a Catholic Cardinal, and a returned Jesus. Thought provoking to say the least.
Alexandre Dumas -- The Count of Monte Cristo. Fabulous in so many ways. It did, however, slow down a bit for me toward the end.
William Faulkner -- As I Lay Dying. Amazing consistency of writing. Unique, fully developed characters. Fantastic!
Kahlil Gibran -- The Prophet. Loved this short, brilliant book!
Nathaniel Hawthorne -- The Great Stone. I loved this story. Perfectly written!
Ernest Hemingway -- For Whom the Bell tolls. One of favorite books ever! Perfect!
Nikos Kazantzakis -- The Greek Passion. The best characterization ever!
Daniel Keyes -- Flowers for Algernon. I have a soft spot for melancholy in music (Tchaikovsky 6 Symphony - Barber Adagio for Strings) as well as writing (Anthony Bio of a Space Tyrant = Refugee). This book also hits the spot. Original story and written perfectly. Every word was right.
Louis L'Amour -- The Walking Drum. Amazing characters and fabulous imagery. I can't believe how good this book is!
George Orwell -- 1984. Groundbreaking awesome, not to mention prophetic.
Erich Remarque -- All Quite on the Western Front. Amazing and different.
Mary Shelley -- Frankenstein. I read this in one sitting. Loved it. The movies destroy this amazing story.
Martin Cruz Smith is one of my all-time favorites. When you read his books, you are there with the characters. You come to know them intimately. You see what they see, you hear what they hear, and you feel what they feel. He's fantastic. I give five stars to Gorky Park, Polar Star, Havana Bay, Wolves Eat Dogs, and Tatiana. Love his writing!
Izaac Walton -- Life of Dr. Donne. I loved this. The writing is extraordinary.
Robert Penn Warren -- All the King's Men. Amazing! A work of art. Profound in its analysis of the human psyche.
More to come....