The following is a free sample of AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: Uncommon Thoughts on Life, Loss, and Looking Back. The book is available for preorder now and is officially launching on April 20! If you preorder the book, you'll get in on your Kindle three days early!
Get your copy HERE!
The following is a free sample of the book from the opening chapter: By Way of Introduction
I’ve been a lot of different people during my lifetime. I imagine that’s true for most people, but it’s especially true for me, I think.
I’ve been “a human chameleon,” a “little ball of clay,” and “an awkward spaz.” I’ve been described as a “nice guy,” an “insecure and clingy boyfriend,” and “just INTOLERABLE. Like for REAL!”
All of those quotes are either from my own old journals, papers or letters. Two of those quotes are my own. I limited myself to ones that don’t have bad words in them, what we’d call “normal language” back home in Jersey.
Looking back, I think I was a lot.
As I write this, almost a full year into a global pandemic, I’m in my forties and live in a middle-class suburb in Northern Virginia. There is a very sweet yellow Lab trying to get me to throw her ball again as I work on this. My three teenage children are all slogging through their virtual school day while my wife works hard at an actual job.
Spoiler Alert: I’m pretty content with where I find myself these days. We’ll talk about that more, but I wanted to get that out right away because it was not always that way. Not at all. Remember, I was once considered “INTOLERABLE! Like for REAL!”
As a person, I’ve always been pretty reflective. I reflect on things. Sometimes I overthink them, but I’ve always been wired that way. I’ve always looked back, particularly at the things that have gone well, or poorly. The people who I’ve loved and lost, I look back on them a lot. I think a lot about loss and always have. Now that I think about it, I kind of reflect on everything. I should reflect on that.
OK, that last paragraph is pretty clear evidence that I probably overthink things. The more I overthink about it though, I think that, to brutally paraphrase our old friend Robert Fulghum, ‘all I really need to know I learned from loss and looking back on it. Just much later on and in a roundabout way.’
It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, I know. It would look awful on a book cover, which is why you didn’t see it there, but I think it’s a pretty accurate assessment of where I find myself when I consider the journey my life has taken, the ridiculously circuitous road I’ve taken on the road towards happiness and fulfilment, and the realization that finally, (yes, finally) I might just have arrived at a point where I can tolerate myself. Where I might actually be a person who’s almost tolerable for other people to be around.
So, how did I get here?
Outside of leaving a career in education in my beloved New Jersey to become a stay-at-home dad in Hawaii, transitioning into a life of domestic tranquility with occasional jaunts into the world of professional mixology and then eventually embracing my life as an author and founder of what my son once called a “somewhat successful publishing company” in an extremely public forum, I think what’s made the biggest difference in my ability to morph into the almost tolerable person before you now is that I’ve grown up a little. Also, I’ve run out of ‘forks’ to give about what pretty much anyone thinks about me, my life, and my choices.
Yes, that’s right, the almost tolerable author, who hopes you love this book and go review it on Amazon and Goodreads and share it with all your friends and help make it a huge bestseller so that his in-laws will finally have a reason to brag about something he did to their friends, really doesn’t give a ‘fork’ what you think about those things. For real. Mostly.
That said, I’ve already spoiled the fact that I’m pretty good with where I am in life right now, even during a pandemic. I may have given that bit away, but there’s a lot more to say about how I got there, so definitely keep reading. Looking back, it seems like the mass of my years were spent nowhere near any kind of “good with where I was” much less pretty good, so there’s a lot to talk about in this slim little volume.
When I was writing the Avery & Angela series of novels, finding my mind in the headspace of an eighteen-year-old kid was informative at times and gave me an interesting perspective on my own journey to adulthood. Writing in Avery’s voice was enjoyable, but it has taken some time for me to shed that voice for other projects. In some ways, I think that attempt at a course correction is what has driven me back to writing as myself, trying to make sense of our increasingly complex world by using my own voice.
I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a doctor. My Master’s degree is in Education and it’s written completely in Latin, so I can’t even read it without Google Translate. I’m not an influencer with millions of followers and loads of social proof. Instead, I’m a person (an ALMOST tolerable one maybe?) who, just like you, has lived a life that’s led me to this exact moment where my writing and your reading have serendipitously intersected. What a cool thing to have happened, am I right?
But seriously, I’m not an expert on anything. I’m a pretty good cook, a borderline excellent mixologist, I’m pretty good at trivia and I’m still a really strong swimmer. I’m probably not the guy you should be seeking advice from about anything seriously important.
That said, I pay attention and always have, especially when things are difficult. I listen. I think (overthink) most things and right now, I feel like the angst and hunger of my youth and the wisdom of my advancing years have collided in a pretty interesting way, and that collision has inspired me to reflect and to look back. It’s inspired me to really take a long, loving look at loss and to consider how my life might have been different but for fortune and timing. It’s inspired me to take an equally long look at myself, my choices, and the way that I have and continue to respond to loss in my life.
My hope in sharing this with you is that, if nothing else, you walk away from the pages herein feeling better about yourself. Chances are that you’re actually doing awesome and need to cut yourself a break. If you need help with something troubling, please, ask for help. It’s OK. I wish I’d done that earlier and more often, as you’re about to learn. I’m sure I’ll need to ask for help again in my life and that’s going to be OK too.
There’s a question on the last page of this book that I hope excites you as much as it excites me. There’s nothing stopping you from flipping ahead and spoiling it, but I hope you won’t. I’d rather you get there as I got there: one word at a time.
Get your copy of the book HERE!
-excerpt from AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: Uncommon Thoughts on Life, Loss, and Looking Back, publishing April 20, 2021 by Four Leaf Publishing ©2021, All Rights Reserved
My latest release, AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON is coming soon! Equal parts memoir and motivational self-help, AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: UNCOMMON THOUGHTS ON LIFE, LOSS, and LOOKING BACK asks a lot of questions.
Does it stink, getting older?
(Spoiler Alert: It does not.)
We all have questions.
-How do we deal with life when it invades the pristine shoreline of our plans?
-How will I move on from loss?
-Am I spending too much time looking back?
-Is it OK that I’m not OK?
(Spoiler Alert: Yes, it is.)
You are not alone. I have been there, too.
In AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: UNCOMMON THOUGHTS ON LIFE, LOSS, AND LOOKING BACK, I look at those questions, look back on how a global pandemic might have impacted life in the late 1980’s and take a look at personal loss and what I've learned about it, over and over again.
This is a book for people with questions about moving on from loss, reconciling the past in an increasingly challenging world, and for those readers ready for all the feels of this heartwarming and occasionally hysterical book.
Check back here for updates, including a cover reveal, launch information, a free sample AND, keep watch on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page for daily sample quotes like the one above!
I'm really excited for you to read my latest.
Today, I posted our 368th Daily Reality Board. It's hard to believe that something so silly that I started doing because we were stuck at home and couldn't keep track of what day it was has morphed into this. I started keeping a spreadsheet a while back to track what we've drawn and how it was received by the growing audience, who's even seen fit to send us markers and other supplies during the year. (Thanks for that, BTW!)
These ten represent the most "liked" of all of our drawings. Can you guess which one is currently sitting at #1? Which is your favorite of these ten?
We'll keep drawing. I need to replace our yellow, but other than that, we'll keep going and trying not to repeat ourselves.
Thanks so much for all your support.
It is really hard for me to fathom the fact that this week we will pass one year of these Reality Board drawings. I'll be posting something to mark that occasion, perhaps revisiting some of the more popular ones, now what I've got a giant spreadsheet of data about them in hand.
For those of you asking, we have no plans to stop drawing. Stay tuned for more on that, but it is getting increasingly difficult to not repeat ourselves. We'll do out best.
Which ones of this batch are your favorites?
It's hard to believe that we've posted 333 days worth of "Reality Board" drawings! I'm now keeping track of them in a spreadsheet complete with likes and comments. Here's our work from December 18-February 15. Enjoy! We will be at a year, more than likely, when I post the 13th collection!
What are your favorites from the current batch?
We are less than 100 days away from having done one full year's worth of these boards. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!!!
Which ones are your favorites?
Have a wonderful holiday season! Stay safe and well as we head into the new year! Thanks for all your support!
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome, AGAIN!
As we get ready for LOVE WILL COME TO YOU, the final book in the Avery & Angela series, (WHICH ARRIVES IN DAYS!) here's a little primer to bring you up to speed!
Avery & Angela's story begins in the award-winning novel, The Last Good Day.
What's it all about? Glad you asked!
Two best friends. One last day. One huge secret that changes everything!
This is the book that started it all for Avery & Angela!
Avery Young is having a moment. How he handles it will determine his future.
Avery is leaving New Jersey to study at the Boston Conservatory of Music. Before he leaves, he spends one last day at the Jersey Shore with his best friend, Angela, who's been unusually distant all summer
When Angela finally reveals the reasons behind that distance, it changes everything.
For the first time, he realizes that he could lose her. How can he pursue his dreams when it could mean losing Angela, the only stable thing in his life, forever?
Avery and Angela's story continues in the second book in the series, On the Road to Here. What's that one all about? Again, you've come to the right place!
(********Slight potential spoilers if you haven't read book #1*********
***Spoiler buffer completed-proceed at your own risk***
With his first semester and her first months of chemo completed, Avery is anxious to finally spend time with Angela.
But her doctors and their families have other ideas.
Being a normal couple was always going to be a challenge, but things only get harder and weirder as they navigate their first time alone together since summer, their exhausting parents, and her drunk uncle. Add in a series of unexpected tests and the world's strangest audition and Avery & Angela find themselves hurtling towards uncertainty.
Can they overcome cancer, drama, and the great unknowns ahead of them? Will their newfound love for one another survive Winter Break?
For that matter, will they?
They will face more than one bump ON THE ROAD TO HERE
The story continues in When Only Love Remains, the third book in the Avery & Angela series! You can check that out HERE!
What happens in that one? Again, you've come to the right place!
(********Slight potential spoilers if you haven't read book #1 or #2*********
***Spoiler buffer completed-proceed at your own risk. Seriously.***
Something inside him snapped.
Instead of enjoying a break from school with his girlfriend Angela, Avery is suddenly reeling from a tragic loss.
With his mother gone, Avery is left on his own, and the fragile web of secrets she kept begins to unravel, leaving Avery wondering if he knew his mother at all.
Avery doesn’t know what to do, but that won’t stop him from pretending that he does as every truth he clings to falls away and he grasps for the shattered pieces of the life he’s always known.
Secrets, lies, sleepwalking - this isn’t how life was supposed to be.
And then, there is Angela.
Can her love help him find a way through his loss, his growing anger, and his mother’s lies? Can he learn to accept what he cannot change?
Or will it consume him?
Find out in the third book of the Avery & Angela series, WHEN ONLY LOVE REMAINS
So, you’re all caught up for the fourth and final book in the series, LOVE WILL COME TO YOU!
Thanks so much for your support! If you're not currently receiving my email newsletter, please sign up HERE today!
OK, so it’s a longish title, but it’s a holiday so I’m going to allow it. I haven’t written much about life during this time of social distancing, mostly because I haven’t much felt like it and I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in reading it, but I feel somewhat inspired as I wait for the next series of things I need to do in the kitchen.
I’ve often felt that holidays have their own memory, especially the big ones. Thanksgiving and Christmas have always felt to me like “Every [insert holiday name here] is last [aforementioned holiday name]. What I mean by that is that every Christmas is last Christmas, and all the ones before that. Same with Thanksgiving, in a positive way. It’s the same for me with New Years Eve, but those tend to get a little dark for me. They’ve been fine for many years, but there are a few that linger negatively in my memory, but my Christmases and Thanksgivings of years past are pretty pleasant to look back upon.
This year, as I’m sure everyone will agree, has been a little different than its predecessors. There are few things that, at least to me, have felt normal as the world has faced the specter of the pandemic, not to mention all the other stress, turmoil, and divisiveness that have permeated pretty much everything and everyone. Even without Covid, this would have been a year deeply rooted in challenge, I think.
So, as my turkey roasts and my house begins to smell like it always does in my memories of holidays past, it’s interesting to consider how this year is unlike all the others.
For one, I’ve never cooked for this small a group before. The five people in my household represent the smallest, by a large margin, that I’ve ever cooked for on Thanksgiving. I started hosting the meal right after we got married, so it’s been mine for twenty-one years running. I’ve prepared it in Jersey, in Virginia, in Hawaii, in South Carolina. I’ve prepared it while working half shifts at the Inn, leaving copious instructions for the wife, and I’ve spent upwards of three days prepping and chopping and doing all the things you do when you host. I like doing it, truly, but there were some years that were more challenging than others from a kitchen-warrior perspective. This year, so far, is wildly simple, by comparison.
But, when we all sit down for dinner later, we won’t have to bring more chairs in. We won’t have to set up a smaller table in the living room. We won’t need a case of wine or beer and we won’t be using every single plate and fork in the arsenal. In its own way, it will look very much like every dinner the five of us have had since forever. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. The wife and I work pretty hard to make sure we all have dinner together every night and I’m proud of that.
But, as you may know, gentle reader, I’m a bit of an extrovert. I like being around people. I like entertaining. A lot. I spend the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving making certain that everyone we know has somewhere to go. I’ve invited people weeks ahead and hours ahead, and I’m pretty unapologetic about it. I just don’t like the idea of people we care about not having somewhere to go on the day. I think that’s in large part a result of the kindness that my wife embodies on a daily basis and my own memories of the Thanksgivings in the first few years after my father passed away. After the first year, where we went to the Nassau Inn in Princeton, we spent a few with family friends until the wife and I were dating and serious and we started doing the meal with her family.
I like entertaining. I like to host parties. We’ve done a few in our years here in Virginia, just like we did in Hawaii, where our friends would take turns hosting the big holidays. It was fun. The last event I hosted was in early March, and it was stripped down and socially distant, as we were just beginning to understand that the virus was a serious problem. Thinking about that evening now, it was glorious, just having a few friends around before everything went bananas.
It seems like a lifetime ago.
So today, when we sit down together as a family, I will be thankful for many things:
I’ll be thankful that my family is together and safe and healthy. I’ll be thankful that our friends and family, wherever and however they are spending the day are much the same. I’ll be grateful that for the first time in a long time, there appears to be some hope about the manner in which we will be able to move forward through this pandemic. I’ll be grateful for the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my family. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worthwhile.
I’ll be thankful that my wife’s job has remained steadfast throughout all of this. While both my business and my “side-hustle” have been deeply impacted, her ministry has been consistent. She’s faced numerous new challenges like everyone else, but I’m grateful that she’s been able to provide for our family, as she always has.
I’m deeply thankful that people have had some interest in my books. I won a little award recently and am about to launch the series finale before moving onto other writings, among other things. I’m grateful that I’ve had some opportunities.
I often hear people say, “when things go back to normal,” as they talk about coming through all of this. I don’t really think things ever really will go back to “normal,” so to speak. I think whatever reality we create on the other side of this will, and should, be a different one. I’d like to think that maybe we’ll be a bit kinder to one another and more appreciative of things like time together and the feeling of safety while out and about.
I’d like to think that we’ll be more thoughtful of one another when we are sick. I’d like to think that we’ll all be more likely to stay home when ill and that our employers will be understanding and supportive of that. I’d like to think that parents will keep their kids home when they’ve popped a fever or “only puked a little and it was last night…they’re fine today and I need to work.” I’d like to think that we will continue to check in with our neighbors more often and wave and say hello to the folks walking through our neighborhood. I’m still not opening the door for solicitors, but that’s nothing new for me. I don’t yell at them anymore, so that’s growth, right?
I remember in the days after September 11, 2001, everyone you spoke to asked you if all of your people were accounted for. People were generally kinder and there really was s sense of national unity that lasted a while. I wonder if our country is a little too polarized now to hope for that to occur on a large scale, but it’s a thought. Moments of shared crisis have a way of bringing people together, even briefly, but that can fade over time. It did after September 11, and it likely will again. I mean, you can still rent an inflatable water slide based on the Titanic for your next (post Covid) birthday party and that tragedy killed 1,517 people. Seriously.
But I hope that people will be kinder longer. I hope that employers begin to understand the effectiveness of tele-work and the ways that it can really be of benefit to the environment, the family, and the health and wellness of both the company and the employee.
I do miss gathering with loads of people. I really do. When it becomes safe to do so, I’ll likely be throwing a rager. Well, as much of a rager as an almost-middle-aged gentleman might throw. Until then, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, safe, and spending the day in the finest manner you can.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate. If it’s not something you celebrate, have a great Thursday!
Greetings all! I hope this finds you and yours doing well and staying healthy!
Wanted to share, in one space, a few of the social media teasers that I've been posting with teaser quotes from the fourth and final book in the Avery & Angela series, LOVE WILL COME TO YOU!
The book arrives on 12/8/20 and will wrap up the series! The series books will be free or discounted during that week, so stay tuned or JOIN THE EMAIL LIST to find out first about those deals!
In the meantime, enjoy the teasers and please check out "The Day Before," which is a free prequel chapter to the entire series!
I can't wait to share the end of this journey with you!
I am super excited to share the cover art of the fourth and final book in the Avery & Angela series with you! I know the book was supposed to be ready in June, but I'm blaming Covid and 2020 in general.
So, while it's been delayed, the book is coming on December 8! There will be loads of promotions and giveaways and all sorts of fun between now and then, but the series is concluding.
Anytime there's a end to something, there are some bittersweet feelings and this ending is no exception. That said, they are wildly tempered by the level of excitement I'm feeling about sharing this final part of the story with you all.
So, you'll have the book in just a few weeks, and should you need to catch up on the series, HERE's A GOOD PLACE TO START, but without further ado....THE COVER!
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