Welcome To Travels with Hermes
… where you will find resources and inspiration to help you navigate the worlds of humanity and the soul, leading to the best hidden experiences of the two. Hermes is the Greek god and personal guide to travelers, athletes and writers. 

Welcome! My name is Andrew Kloak and I will bring you dynamic communication that leads to insight and personal breakthroughs. I’m a Social Commentator and Novelist of  Working the Glass: A Novel.

My novel was released in April last year. It’s ready for you to purchase now on Amazon.com!

This is my blog Travels with Hermes! hermes2

    • As a social commentator (based in the San Francisco Bay Area and a native of Chicago), I can help you thrive and go deeper in exponentially changing world. I’m on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on local social media like Google+, Twitter and everything in between.
    • As a sports novelist, I think you’ll enjoy Working the Glass: A Novel, a gritty odyssey of basketball and romance across the Czech Republic in 1993.
    • As a professional speaker and teacher– I can speak to your organization about writing, Silicon Valley and spirituality

 

Got questions? Peruse this blog to LEARN MORE, Sign up for this blog. I need your email to stay in touch and send you twice monthly updates as we get closer to the release date on my novel. Let’s hook up so you are on my email list and part of the Travels with Hermes community.

MY PHILOSOPHY
My philosophy is to advocate for you. I strive to engage readers not only in the San Francisco Bay Area, the USA and Canada but across the world. Unlike many scribes, I empower writers and advocate for them as an expert coach. We’re all in this together!

HERMES MESSENGER AND GUIDE
Hermes the amazing! He’s the right guide for you and me. Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. The second youngest of the Olympian gods. Hermes is a God of athletes and invented fire. We’re going to need that fire!!! We have it. Our servers are all powered by LiteSpeed and solid-state drives (SSDs). LiteSpeed is 533% faster than Apache 2.4 with keep-alive connections and 167% faster with no keep-alive connections (SSDs are superior to regular HDDs) but don’t take my word for it. Try it out.

Reasons Why Better Writing and Boldness Can Make You Thrive

When I told my high school basketball coach that I wasn’t receiving the ball. He said look up the word camouflage.

Camouflage-to hide the presence of with mud or blend in with the surroundings.

Don’t hide in the pack. Start moving across the lane with conviction, you’ll be “seen”.

I listened to my coach. Suddenly, passes started coming my way. My teammates rifled a few screamers that sailed through my hands. Boy, did my coach get upset with that!

Eventually I reigned those passes in, wheeled into position, and got a shot off. Kissing the ball off the glass for two points.

In the same way, your business needs the boldness of the written word that packs a punch.

No company wants to hide. They want to stand out. But hiding is what they do if they don’t have potent writing for their email marketing campaigns, brochures, white pages, web landing pages, presentations.

“Nothing gets bought or sold without writing. And more effective writing makes that happen faster, smoother, and more profitably,” said Peter Bowerman, a freelance commercial writer based in Atlanta.

He’s right. All buying and selling starts with writing. But not just any kind of writing, but effective writing.

But there’s more. Effective writing can help organizations-large and small- increase profits, enhance reputation, and make their jobs easier.

For years, I worked with neurosurgeons and faculty researchers at Stanford University and scientists at NASA. My challenge was to compose profiles on them and make their work stand out.

When physicians and neuroscience take off their masks when a surgery is complete in the operating theater, they struggle to show their best face to the world.

They’re doing exceptional work and have a great story to tell. But often times, they don’t know how. They need a skilled writer to capture their best story or draw out a more compelling message.

Say you’re giving a presentation. And as you give it, you’re not being true to yourself. People know it. Moreover, they won’t buy your message or what your company offers.

Don’t hide with a muddled message in your marketing efforts. You need strong convincing writing and ideas that work together in.

Hire a skilled commercial copywriter.

Research shows messages that are told through stories are 22 times more memorable than facts.

Why is that? Storytelling connects to emotions and forces the listener to use a different part of the brain.

You’ll no longer be a person reciting boring corporate speak and jargon, but a meteor streaking across the lane with compelling ideas presented in a clear way.

 

Andrew Kloak

About the Andrew Kloak:

With storytelling, curiosity, and love of learning as the threads that run throughout my career, I have contributed to a variety of organizations, including NASA, a Chicago newspaper, my own business, and Stanford University School of Medicine hospitals and clinics.✦ Authored everything from feature articles and travel pieces to surgeon profiles, summaries of neuroscience studies, and presentations on NASA’s cutting-edge research.
✦ Engage in personal writing for clarity, ideas, and peace and blogging for influence
✦ Published hundreds of nonfiction articles and a novel.

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Increasing Face-to-Face Contact Stands Out As Antidote To Current Malaise

We use technology and social media more than ever. I’ve had a great accomplishment for my fifth decade. I finished a novel. 

But I realize more than ever, that I need to see your face.

I have been meeting with people face-to-face. I’m good at connecting and want to make it as real as possible.

To make my novel known, I had to connect with people in the online space. A lot of them. That’s the game today. One friend said you have to make a connection to people that have little to no emotional connection to you.  He’s right.Nimue___Lady_Of_The_Lake_by_Raipun

But remember even in the online space, people are connecting emotionally with you, even, if it’s greatly obscured.

We think we’re more connected than ever.  But it’s nearly impossible. Everyone is seemingly accessible on social media, but like the medium itself, it’s a kind of hell today. You’re so close, but yet, more distant than ever.

It takes draconian effort today just to meet in person. A phone call is a start.

But I can’t even find your number anymore! 

Unlike the 1990s, when I had everyone’s name and phone number in a planner, it’s more difficult to track down friend’s phone numbers and emails.

My contact lists are in ruins.

And even if I have them, it’s harder to call for some reason.

Maybe here’s why:

Social media and prolonged online interaction promote a false sense of intimacy. We all thought seeing the achievements and pictures of your friends online was a social glue.  But this online voyeurism is no social glue at all.

It’s killing our character.

I took an online writing class at Stanford Continuing Studies a few years ago. I hated it.

Compared to the in-person classes I’ve taken, it felt empty. People were afraid to engage and be honest. I felt disengaged and disconnected in that online writing workshop.

I did much better when there were writers sitting along. We looked into each others eyes when we talked.  I would come home exhilarated and alive!Employees-chatting-1

Research by Paula Klemm and Thomas Hardie bears that out. They compared face-to-face, in-person groups with online cancer support groups. They found they were statistically similar except for one thing: the participants’ moods. Most (92 percent) of the participants in the electronic groups were depressed, while none of the participants in the in-person group were!

The more time we spend on the internet, the less time spent with friends, family and colleagues. We spend hours on our computers each day. Whatever the benefits, that’s mostly time spent alone.tx_2279373b

As Susan Pinker said in her book, the Village Effect, the “come-hither” aspect of electronic media has pulled the wool over our eyes, convincing us that different ways of making contact are the same as being there. Our electronic networks are expanding, but our social networks are staying the same and the people we feel close to has shrunk.

That’s significant.

Pinker goes on to say, given that the only person many Americans say they can trust is their spouse, it turns out that many of us are just one person away from being alone!

So it turns out being married or having close buddies you rarely ever see isn’t enough.

Being married to your computer doesn’t work either.

Go into a Starbucks in any town in America now and you’ll see half the people having a date with their computer.

Being in touch with your friends in the middle distance can breed contempt. And can generate complacency.

The cliché familiarly breeds contempt isn’t true.

Why? Because face-to-face contact, by far, creates a sense of oneness, satisfaction and fun. Amazingly, that close connection attracts the other to us even more. And vice versa.

It’s too late to throw out my tablet, iphone and computer.  But the truth is I just need to bring things back to the future.

The 1990s me started the novel had an overwhelming preference to face-to-face communication. That same desire is alive today! That’s how we’re wired.

Our ability to connect with anyone 24/7 with technology hasn’t led to an uptick in well-being. Has it made you better? Let me know.

By and large we’re lonelier and unhappier than we were in the decades before the internet age, according to a 2004 study of households in the United States and the U.K.

I sees the need for the authentic and frequent face-to-face contact. I’m on the road to repairing and replacing face-to-face relationships I’ve lost. But trust me, it’s hard work even for a extroverted, positive guy like me!

I’m doing it for the sake of my well being, health and longevity.

I’m sorry, I’ve not been the best friend!

Let’s start small and connect. I’m calling it Operation Connection to You.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

 

 

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Storytelling, Synergy and Sports…From Chicago to Here

The LeapIt was on a snowy morning  in my home office in my Lincoln Park apartment on the Northside of Chicago.

I started page one of the novel. I didn’t even know what to call it. I worked on the fundamentals like you would see in a junior high practice: ball handling, passing and shooting.

Only it was writing dialogue, building tension in scenes, and handling backstory. These things remain important.

The key fundamentals needed in making a novel-length work, and hopefully, a good one. The world will be the judge of that!

My New Year’s goal that year was to finish this novel by the end of the year. It was an all-consuming objective that I poured myself into.Andrea and Marcel

My earnings from my business doubled that year because I became a more interesting person. People could feel the shift in my energy. And I was writing the novel half the week and working in my consulting business the other half.

Four years later, I crafted a title Working the Glass: A Novel in a Stanford Writing Class.

As I edited and worked on the final scenes of my first novel, I asked where the character was going next. I do today.  Especially as I move toward completing my next novel.

Could my main character go back to Chicago where he started from? Maybe. And even if he does return, it would never be in the same way. He’s changed. The experience of playing a season in the Czech Basketball Superliga in place of his brother transforms him.

Working the Glass: A Novel was a success. I told the story I wanted to tell!

Where I am heading next? That’s me the writer and human being talking now. And it’s a question you’re always asking, too. Where are you heading next? Professionally and personally it’s there for all of us. You may not even be conscious of it.Country Road

I’ve lived in Silicon Valley since I left my native Chicago 18 years ago. Working on this novel ever since. This story has been my constant companion.

I’m not saying you have to spend $400 a month on books. But you do need to continually be learning. Your whole life is a work in process.

In the middle ages when the printing press was perfected, that opened a revolution. It allowed words from paper to touch the soul in a new way. It was one of the best technologies ever invented.

The novel has remained the highest form of writing.  But since I started on this story in the late 1990’s the genres and mediums are merging. A transition is underway in the culture.

What are two ways you can become a more interesting person? One is to make the hard decisions. To really face situations as they are. A second would be to do things you don’t want to do.

Chicago is the hog butcher to the world as Walt Whitman said.

But it’s also the bridge between east and west. A very important nodal point and the largest city in the interior of America. Yes it can be provincial and inward looking but that city on that inland sea is exceptional.

Meanwhile, California is a trendsetter and fertile ground of the imagination for the United States. It’s on the creative edge and has a global perspective. Yes, even with this long standing drought, it stands strong.

But there’s been a lot of ground movement here. A financial and spiritual earthquake that’s spiking cost of living here and draining soul from the place.

The billionaires are pushing out the millionaires. Rising costs have brought on rising expectations. There are some very good and idealistic people that work in the technology area. My town Mountain View, California is home to the most innovative companies and ideas.

But it’s clear. This town has changed and it’s not all good. One family of tech workers that moved here was outbid 12 times in trying to find a house here. Sometimes by $300,000 to $400,000. Plus, for a Midwest person, that friendly community feel has been elusive.

Where is community like Chicago? It’s hard to find here.bridges

Recently I’ve been looking at Charlotte, North Carolina.  Charlotte, the Queen City emerging on lists of top American cities where cultural creatives are moving. That’s something to pay attention to for me.

So I looked at what you can get for a home there in Charlotte. It’s amazing compared to the Bay Area.  The median home price is $179,100.

Find where your heart belongs. Publishing and broadcasting possibilities stand out for me, where they couldn’t before.

For me, 2018 has the potential to be the biggest and most important career year in decades. My stars could not be better.

Want to fulfill your destiny? Be mobile and continually open to expanding your mind and abilities.

And one more thing: Leap into this unknown and beautiful world we live in. The journey ahead requires it!

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Humiliation and learning key to thriving: My story

At the end of November last year, the storms of life rolled in. I was powerless to navigate around them. My personal craft (a row boat), loaded with all the things I knew as a writer and person, started taking on water.roof damage

In real life, the roof of my back room sprung a leak. Rain water poured down through the ceiling drywall and insulation. These are big storms here in California hitting us! Lots of water.

I rescued the two boxes of my novel, Working the Glass. They weren’t ruined by the water afterall. But the ceiling is destroyed.

Then my teenage daughter took over my writing space where I wrote the novel (she needed her own bedroom). My computer began to slow down and have connectivity issues. Trust me, you can’t write blog posts on an iPhone.

So the swells in my life got larger and my writing suffered. My effort to jettison all the things I was carrying wasn’t enough.imagesCALP8GOD

It’s hard to let go and my boat sunk. It’s amazing how fast time goes. This is my first post on here in three months.

I was lucky to make it back to shore. But here I am.

I swam back to shore.  And for some reason. I couldn’t get back into the water. Until right now.

We get full of ourselves. I certainly did because I thought I was in charge. But humiliation and humility are good things.

Christmas came and went, so did New Year’s Day, January and most of February.

An empty vessel can move faster across the water. One loaded down with cargo is heavy and has its hull plowing deep in the water. With this craft, I’m agile and can navigate and weather the next challenges on my writer’s journey.magic begins

Like a vessel that holds water, you have to empty it before you can take on the love and learning you’ll need to get to the next level.

Since I’ve last written you in November, I’ve gotten new job at NASA in Moffett Field, California. I’m a leadership and training specialist there and the Lead for the Pathways Program for young scientists and interns at NASA. I started in January and I love it. Besides writing novels, I like this work; it keeps me balanced and gives me more stories.

My ship now is larger, but empty. That’s a good thing!

I needed to get back to writing to you with this one. I’m finding my way back.

This writers blog is my connection to you. 

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Dashed dreams, temporary seatbacks can’t stop you

Blood poured down my face.

I was smashed in the eyebrow by the elbow of an opposing player under the basket. I reckoned I was paying the price for my championships, wins and joy the game brought me.

I was up to four games per week in league play in Chicago and the Western Suburbs like Naperville.

My style of play became super aggressive and tenacious. I was the essential ingredient every team needed to be successful on the court: I played with heart and emotion.1294541_846685385382351_7297171292484329696_o

I was a 6’5” sparkplug. Rebounding and shutting down the inside like crazy.

Luckily, Edward Hospital was on the same grounds as the sports center. But this injury was too serious to play through.

I started to see the bright at the end of the tunnel. Unbearable bright light shined in my closed eyes.

The emergency department doctor from Edward Hospital stitched up my eyebrow.

I don’t remember if I cried through those eyelids or not. It was an emotional moment.

“I have to get out of this or I’ll be dead,” I said.

My teammates were there gathered around the table. They’d seen my best and worst under shining lights.  They joked and laughed with me as they stood around me. That felt strangely good.

I’ve always been happy for the people I’ve been with on this journey of basketball and writing.

But I knew it was over. It was time. Time to hang up my number, #33.12801178_10156623307725615_2036328532261479680_n

The year before I started taking fiction writing classes at the Writer’s Loft, Chicago’s best writing workshop. In that six week class, I wrote the first words of what would become Working the Glass: A Novel

In August 1999, my wife and I moved to California. I took more creative writing classes at Stanford Continuing Studies. It wasn’t until Julie Orringer, my teacher in an Advanced Fiction Writing Class at Stanford Continuing Studies, encouraged me to go deeper with the story.

Julie Orringer

Julie Orringer

Every time a thing ends, something more beautiful grows.

Granted I took a long time to write this novel. I found something that gave me a new start — a novel that has international intrigue, basketball and romance. Oh, yes, my special reader,  a love story that you will enjoy. If you are a woman or man, you Will be able to relate!

Like a good hallmark movie or sports film, Working the Glass will stir some long-buried memory: a relationship forgotten, a family member lost.

Something real.

Something that matters.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.https://www.amazon.com/Working-Glass-Andrew-M-Kloak/dp/0997027800

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Swimming Through the Darkness into the Light

I heard an interview on NPR with an experienced long distance swimmer. This 60-year old woman said she swam from the Florida Keys to Cuba, across the English Channel from England to France, and from Catalina Island to California.novak-djokovic-best-0604

She started at 17 years old swimming from a rocky island to mainland California. 22 miles across the Gulf of Catalina. She walked out the rocky beach at Catalina with a friend in the midnight darkness.  The water got deeper and she was off.

Guided by the moonlight and tenacity.

She had no boat within arms reach to guide and protect her. Looking back at this, she said that was crazy.

This teenager and her teenage friend forged ahead mile after mile.

She said swimmers do better by starting such a swim by jumping in at night. The water is calmer in the hours before dawn. The tides are more forgiving.

But then the morning comes and the swells start to pound you. You need an inner compass and perserverance to cut through all that and stay on course.

Like her, it’s hard to get out of the comfort of my bed. It’s cold to emerge from the covers of sleep. Once you dive in, another set of covers envelops your body, the water. It surrounds you completely. Very soon, you don’t feel cold.

My writing practice was to write in the early morning hours from 4:30 to 6:00. The world outside is filled with darkness. The trees outside my window cast shadows from the moon light.

Her story resonated with me because it’s quite similar to the feelings and experience you encounter in writing a novel.  At least I did in laboring over 10 years to write my novel Working the Glass.

I literally started in the darkness and move into light. When the novel was complete and hit the bookstores in April, it was the culmination of a long swim.

For every scenario that carries darkness, there’s one that holds out the light. The light  and this novel is worth believing in.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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What Does It Take To Write A Novel?

Father, coach, lover, athlete, novelist, leader and writer.

I search as to what to call myself these days; I see that, above all, I’m a writer.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

 

Writing takes hard work and sacrifice. Yes, my book Working the Glass: A Novel needed that. That’s what it requires. All writers, no matter what their inclination, have to have that. But why would they sacrifice? What’s underneath that?  I say there has to be love in it. It’s a meaningful life. Happiness is a by-product of doing what you love.

True intentions are good to look at. Some do it for love of money. Others do it for love of the writing journey. Others do it to connect with readers. Others would love to transform the world.

But there also needs to be a conversation within as you navigate the mysterious, yet tangible on the archetypal writer’s journey.  It requires embracing the dual worlds of Viva Contemplativa and Viva Activa. When you honor both: your writing comes alive, soul-filled and possesses dynamic tension. Many teachers of the craft talk creating tension in your stories. But never mention it’s important to have dynamic tension in you, the creator of the words on the page.

Andrew Kloak

So we truly are a bridge to the worlds: integrating the opposites and bringing forth something new. The energy of creative genius is available and waiting for you.

You just have to surrender the clouds of negativity that prevent their revelation. We all have resistances to joy, love, expression and aliveness. The key is to overcome the obstacles. An inner state of peace brings forth ideas that solve problems on the page and in life.

Creative contribution comes from something deeper. Although I’m realistic about the business side of this.

Last year I attended a Stanford University Workshop called The Entrepreneurial Writer. We are all being transformed into entrepreneurial writers with greater risks but greater opportunities. This can be attributed to the technology revolution.stanford-banner

Our instructor Holly Brady said it’s easier bring your well written and edited manuscript to the marketplace yourself now. But it’s a costly process; you need to pay for editors and book cover designers yourself. Say that costs you $1,900. Then you would need to sell 903 eBooks to recoup your costs.

We have moved into a time where enormous changes have occurred in the world of publishing. Large publishers are now quite weak. The greatest opportunities seem to be opening up in self-publishing niche. It’s the greatest time in history to be a writer of quality well-written works across the genres.

Neal Pollack said this when he self-published his 2012 novel Jewball. I liked his basketball story. Here is what he said at the time.jewball

Why did you decide to publish this way?

The technology finally seemed to be in place to match my entrepreneurial ambition. Also, the traditional avenues to publication, while still there, seem to be narrowing. It’s much, much harder for an author, even an established one like me, to break through. I wasn’t going to get a big advance for this book. Who knows how much support a mainstream publisher would have given it? I might have gotten scheduled onto more sports-talk radio shows, but those appearances don’t always sell books.

It’s a risk, but at the end of the day, I started writing the book in earnest in February and now it’s October and the book is about to appear. If this were corporate publishing, we wouldn’t be seeing Jewball until next October, if not sometime in 2013.

 

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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I Was Going To Be Depressed Today But My Son Stopped By

I could write about novel writing and the craft of creating fiction, but real life matters. What I write about in Working the Glass: A Novel and my next one comes from my life.Parents with Book

Yes, real life, people, and events of my life make it into my novels.

I filter and refine it later and turn this stuff into fiction. 

A month ago my Mom, Therese broke her hip while visiting me in Mountain View, California.  After surgery at Stanford Hospital, she was transfered to a skilled nursing center here in my town.

In the beginning, I debated whether I should see her every day.

Early on, I asked her how she was doing that day?

She said I was going to be depressed today, but then I said No, I’m not going to, my son Andrew  is coming to visit me today.

That’s where I knew how important my presence was to her!

How can a son not respond to that? I was her lifeline here on the West Coast. Her sole support.  After she said that, I saw what I had to do. Meet her every day after work and get her home to Chicago.

Fortunately all these people on Facebook, my church- St. Joseph Mountain View, my work , finally my family across the country followed the story. My story about a son and mother. Thank you, thank you all.Author Photo 1

I saw her everyday in the evening for dinner. It was the least I could do for this lady that gave me so much. She always encouraged my writing, but since she lived in Chicago and I lived in California our time of catching up was compressed since I moved west 17 years ago

After she broke her hip, it brought us closer, we had really great conversations. It was like playing tennis. I would hit the ball over the net and she would fire it back. Back and forth. We could talk for hours. I lost track of time and treasured each conversation. Life is short and my Mom is 90 years old.

These conversations moved into memoir territory.

Then last weekend I escorted her the 2200 miles back to Chicago. There was no better person to do it. I was worried how it was all going to work out. She had to walk on and off the airplane. And sit up for the four hour flight. She prepared for it with her physical therapy person in the weeks before. But it was far from certain it was going to work.

But she did it. We did it together!

Then I did my first book reading in Chicago at Czech Plaza Restaurant. That was a day after getting mom home

This whole process with my mother and completing the novel forced me to change.

I had to open my heart and really use all my reserves of energy. I delivered my Mom back into the loving arms of my family in Chicago.

For the first time, I had to play a new role: be a parent to my parent. At least I thought that’s what I was doing. But my Mom is a tough lady and she aided me as much as I helped her.

It’s incumbent now that I continue the great connection we established. Mom and me.

I will!

But this also applies to all you great readers I met while there in Chicago. Let’s continue to stay in touch friends!

IMG_1078 (2)

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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We Couldn’t Do It Without Our Mothers

My mother Therese Kloak came to visit me in the San Francisco Bay Area from Chicago. We pulled over in the car along Skyline Drive near Windy Hill were we could see the whole of Santa Clara Valley below.  I pulled out the book Do What You Love and the Money Will Come, written by Marsha Sintar. We read parts of it out loud in that car.Parents with Book

 I told her my destiny was that I was writer. She said you can do it, I believe in you. 

From up there, I had a vision and confidence I could do it. The whole world was in front of me.

Twenty five years later, after a roundabout trek in journalism, public relations, team work consulting, I completed my first novel Working the Glass: A Novel.

A week ago, my Irish mother broke her hip in the living room of my Mountain View, California home. The next day, she had hip replacement surgery at Stanford Medical Center.

On Saturday, I moved her to a skilled nursing center here in my town. There were a lot of decisions to make and I felt a lot of pressure. So much so that my oldest daughter wiped a tear from my cheek as I stopped to pause and reflect on all that happened in seven days. 1294541_846685385382351_7297171292484329696_o

She was supposed to fly back home to Chicago, but life had other plans. It’s been a tough, but eventful week.

My helping her isn’t an imposition; it’s an act of love. I’ve been by her bedside every day. Sure, I get tired and have to pace myself after coming to see her for all these consecutive days so far. I put my both hands over my face more than a few times this emotional week!

But here’s the thing: My mother has always encouraged not just me, but a lot of other people along the way. Besides my wife, having a mother like her is the luckiest gift I’ve ever received.

This remarkable 90-year old woman had eight children and I’m happy I’m one of them.

But she’s a gift to many besides, my large clan. Even now she’s taking care of other people’s babies. There’s Tracey the RN and Danny from Stanford Hospital. Marisol, Maripreet and Mario, the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) at her current healthcare center. And many others. She gets to know them all, laugh with them, and enjoy them!

As writer promoting my novel, I can learn a lot from my mom. We can all can!

While recovering from surgery at Stanford Hospital, my mother had constant newcomers coming in as her roommates. Most were too tired to say much from their orthopaedic surgeries.

Then one day, on the other side of the curtain, there was a woman who looked like my mother.  From behind the thin divide across the room, the cranky look-alike-alike said this: Why is that woman next to me? Get her out of here.

She swore constantly and complained about the bad care she was getting at the hospital.

After a day, she was transferred out and replaced by a new person.

Who knows of complainer lady’s future?

In contrast, my mother’s trajectory is very good because she always had a great attitude. Even after all this. Her doctors say because of her outlook and family support, she’ll thrive and successfully rehabilitate so she can head home.

I sure hope so. I’ll do everything I can to make that happen!

I wouldn’t be a novelist, writer of a blog like this, and human being I am today without this special person.

What will happen next is a mystery, but I can tell you this:

The world is a much better place with the Therese Kloaks in it!

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A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

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Love and Magic in Connecting with Readers

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. –CorinthiansAndrea and Marcel

I went to a wedding anniversary celebration of my friends and supporters Andrea and Marcel from the Slovak Republic recently. This famous wedding passage above was read.

My eyes watered upon hearing this beautiful passage that day here in Mountain View, California. It’s a reminder of the strength and fragility of all this. It sums up the greatness of the journey of their 10 years of marriage.

But also my journey as a writer.  It’s the right affirmation of the heart and mindset you need if you want to create anything enduring and rich as the protagonist of your own story as a writer.

Writing a novel takes all of the above. You have to apprentice yourself to the attributes of patience and kindness.

Patience to work hard and keep churning ahead every day.

Kindness to yourself. You have to be kind and praise your efforts. There’s joy in that.

My wife Teofila is as reluctant as Michelle Obama has been at times to be a public figure in helping her husband, Barrack.Sir Gawain

I’ve been married 21 years and sometimes it’s very tough. But there is one time now when my wife truly comes alive.

That’s when I’m meeting with readers of Working the Glass: A Novel.

She takes pictures, engages with fans with stories, and then after a while, when it keeps coming, she takes it all in with amazement. I can see it in her face.

They say things like they loved the story and stayed up late to read it. Others say they were sad to see it end and want me to write more.

Many readers are emboldened to meet you after reading the novel.

How times do you feel compelled to meet the author after reading their book? It’s a real honor to hear this! I love it.1271960_846685325382357_5973650051005791898_o

I shake hands, tell stories, answer their questions, sign books and take pictures. I lose myself in the process very much like the peak experience moments I find in writing. Or even further back, playing basketball!

To my wife, here is the manly hero using his guile and magic to slay the dragons. For a few hours, the world obeys and conspires in his magic. There’s greatness in this, she would say.

This is the great thing about being married to writer!

Love is patient, love is kind.

Don’t forget that.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

A basketball star from Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods seizes his last chance at basketball glory by impersonating his Australia-bound brother on a struggling Czech superliga team mid-way through their season.

Read More