Photo by Maria Diaz

This post is about my feelings on AI (artificial intelligence) and the future of writing and publishing. First, I should disclose that I am biased, and also old-school. I am more like the character Will Smith plays in I-Robot. Of course, when new inventions have been introduced in the history of humankind, there has been distrust, inquisition, questions, trepidation, and so much more. Much has been said about AI, especially, during the past year, and by now most of you must be familiar with some applications in technology, including writing. My concern is with the future of writing and the quality of content, as well as the increase on an already saturated market full of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Must all be doom and gloom? Of course not. The same was said about print on demand and independent publishing, and here we are today. Saturation? Yes. I am sure that there are many benefits to AI, probably across and extended to all endeavors. Going back to the topic of quality and quantity, AI will be a best friend to those who want to make a quick buck while saturating the writing market with stories/content written at a fast pace and without care or soul.

That being said, so many questions arise, at least on my mind.

Will the publishing giants favor their own mass-produced stories?

Will freelance writers compete with AI on speed and delivery or will they embrace it?

Will they be paid less for their originality? What are the parameters for originality when it comes down to AI? Is it possible for AI to commit plagiarism?

Will readers appreciate a book written in what will become the “classical way” or will they become consumers of fast stories that might cater to their need for “more and quickly, please.”

Will the quality of stories suffer, or will it challenge writers? Will readers even notice?

Will AI become a favorite tool of writers or an archenemy?

Will it help with writer’s block or make it worse?

Will writers who care for quality and not quantity feel threatened by AI?

Will human writing even exist in the future or will “Robotina” kill the writer?

Of course, it is too early to tell, and I don’t have a crystal ball on my desk. As for this old-school writer, I believe that words evoke feelings, and that might or might not matter in a not-so-distant future.

Eagle’s Flight

Photo by Maria Diaz

Today, I sat to write a post and I had nothing. My mind was blank, my heart felt heavy. As I was ready to close my notebook and throw the pen, the image of a soaring eagle crossed my mind. Then, I wrote.

Eagle’s Flight

Land of the Free

Land of the Brave

Beloved soil, beloved grave.


Sadness, despair, chaos everywhere

Tumultuous times

Ungodly affairs.


The eagle lands

Its tired wings

Signs of derail, never defeat.


A little while, a tiny rift

Its wings will flap

Its heart will heal.


Above the land, throughout the seas

The Eagle soars

In flight now, stronger it is.

A Beloved House, a Beloved Woman

If you have followed, or stop from time to time to read this blog, first, I thank you, and I hope that you have received something from it, whether inspiration, and idea … When I set out on the journey of writing this blog, many years ago, I decided that I wanted to share some of my passions, as well as my journey as an independent author, but also to include another journey, that is, moving from the beloved Jersey shore to the Idyllic Virginia countryside, and the quest of fixing up a dilapidated farmhouse, which would become our home.

Throughout the years, I have met many people who have visited this home and shared stories of the previous owner, Ms. Lula Jane, and how fond they were of her and this house when she lived here. Some of these people have been part of the neighborhood since they were kids and visited her often. One of them described the place as the hub, the place to be, and were everybody ended up. She has been described as a very kind person who loved her home, a very tall woman who enjoyed walking through her beautiful garden. On many occasions I asked if anyone had any pictures of her or the home because my intention was to recreate what this home used to look like in the past. Unfortunately, throughout the years, renters, squatters, and abandonment had taken a toll, and the old farmhouse had seriously deteriorated to the point of becoming not suitable for living. You can see pictures of the previous condition and restoration under the topic “fixing an old farmhouse.” But mostly, I wanted to know more about Ms. Lula Jane, the woman who truly loved her house.

About a week or so ago, I had that opportunity. I received a surprise visit from one of her granddaughters, Ms. Saunders. She happened to be visiting the area on her way to Maryland, and asked if she could see the home where she grew up. It was a real pleasure to meet her. She seemed to have fond memories of her grandmother and of the home. I gave her a tour of the place, explaining what we had done with it. One of her remarks got my attention. She said, “Oh, it looks almost the same.” I was puzzled because we had changed everything and gutted the house, which was in very bad condition when we bought it. Later on, when we sat to converse, I asked her about it and she said that the home still felt familiar and almost as she remembered, even that the furnishings and overall decor were different. Indeed, we had not changed any of its layout. Her visit was not as extended as I wished it would have been; I wanted to know much more. She was kind enough to share some memories of childhood, and of her grandmother, whom she seemed to have adored. I found a connection with Ms. Lula Jane through her stories.

Ms. Lula Jane had traveled from England to the USA with the family she worked for; they took her with them when they moved to the United States. Her granddaughter said that she was free, and not under slavery in England. In England, slavery was abolished much earlier than in the USA. Later on, her grandfather, Mr. John Henry Robertson, built the home. This piece of information seemed to be in conflict with the information I had been given by someone else, but it wasn’t. It was all reconciled when I asked, and she explained that there had been an interracial marriage at some point. Now I had a more complete picture of the history of ownership of this old farmhouse, and I felt closer to the previous owner, both of us having some likes in common.

Ms. Saunders promised to share pictures of her grandmother and of the house if she came across any. We exchanged numbers, and I texted her a link to this blog so she could follow the restoration so far. She was able to clarify and answer some of my questions, according to what she knew, and I am grateful for that. In her excitement, she mentioned that she remembered how good the well water tasted, to what I offered to fill up a bottle for her to take home, which I did. The next day, I received a text from her. Attached, I found a picture of her grandparents. Finally, I was able to see the image of a beautiful tall lady, referred to and appreciated by many people, a cornerstone of this neighborhood. Thank you, Ms. Saunders.

Rather, the Patience of a Gardener

If you visit this blog from time to time, you know that I love plants and nature. I have been restoring a derelict farmhouse and its abandoned grounds, where there used to be a garden that was eaten up by weeds. Weeds? By other native plants, I should say. I thought about that the other day and realized that God didn’t make weeds; instead, he created all kinds of beautiful plants, and we decided to call them weeds, but He did not. I have learned to incorporate some of these “weeds” in my garden and let them be beautiful.

However, this DIY journey has taken years and patience. There is much to be done yet, and I have an impatient spirit sometimes, but I have learned to listen to what this old farmhouse wants, and to what the land is asking for. Most of the time, I have listened well. It is when I have become too restrictive and “boxy” that I have made some mistakes, in the garden that is. Although it might apply to my life as well.

Living a simple life, as well as creating a dream of this old farmhouse and its garden requires quite a bit of patience, and endurance I might add, or I should say quite a lot. Many people find it too much work, inconvenient, and would not put up with it. Exactly the reason why the unpolished gem sat on the market for some time until we picked up the loupe and found it. Have we polished it or has it polished us?

A gardener waits and waits, and … A gardener endures the seasons patiently. A gardener changes with the seasons. A gardener watches the death of a garden and awaits its rebirth. A gardener is not afraid of trying a new approach. A gardener plants in faith, and harvests in gratitude.

In hindsight, it has been like writing a story without an outline. It is mostly how I write as well, so in a way, it has become a natural endeavor; however, it requires the patience of a saint (as the adage says) but I rather have the patience of a gardener.

How Important is the Support of a Spouse/partner for a Writer?

Many years ago, I was watching a best-selling author being interviewed and she was asked if her husband read her books. She answered no, and proceeded to explain that he was very supportive and encouraging of her career, however, he had never read one of her novels. The interviewer seemed a bit puzzled; however, I think that in most cases, a spouse or significant other, even family and very close friends, do not jump into the reader’s pool right away, or ever.

This is something that for some writers is a sensitive topic, and they feel hurt when the people closest to them seem to disregard their books. It happens more than we might admit, in all fields/careers. Personally, I don’t think that if a close person has not read my books that it translates into not caring or a lack of support. Many times, people are not avid readers, or just don’t have enough time, or interest in the genre. If my work is treated with disdain or uninformed harsh criticism, (happened on one occasion, and by a person who I thought would be very happy for me) then, I view that as a different issue that is rooted in that person’s issues and not in my work. There is a distinction to be made.

As human beings, it is natural to expect the support and cheers of the people who matter most to us, and most likely, these are the same people who have supported us in many other ways throughout our entire life, so when something that is very dear and important to us doesn’t seem to have equal importance in their lives, we tend to feel hurt. Support comes in a variety of ways and people show their support differently. For example, my husband has not read any of my novels, but he has been very supportive in many ways, whether that is flashing a big smile when I publish a new book, economic support, giving away copies or promo cards to people he knows and I don’t, and many other ways. Do I mind that he has not read my books? Absolutely not. Having his support is having him on my team, and that is valuable to me.

For writers, sometimes just a caring or congratulatory word suffices; it shows that the person acknowledges their effort and is present, even if that person never reads one page.

What Parameters Do You Have As a Writer?

Photo by M.A.D.

What parameters do you have as a writer?

Every writer has a style that continues to develop over a lifetime of writing. Writing embodies more than putting pen to paper. Every writer has do’s and don’ts that are related to work ethic, style, personal development, goals, and even personality. These are parameters or boundaries that the writer establishes, and many are non-negotiable. As an example, some writers would not consider publishing the traditional route, and they prefer to continue an independent path to their creativity. Other writers would prefer to skip the public appearances or hoopla, although I think this group is a minority. From deciding to stick with a genre to venturing into another, and other considerations, the writer has developed a set of values and principles that will determine most of the career path. It might not be set on stone, but this is the fuel that produces the spark that moves the engine. That is why when it comes down to becoming a writer, there is no one size fits all. There are industry standards, of course, but when it comes down to creativity, each writer has a “code of conduct/ethics,” a system of values of sort, that serves as a guiding light, a beacon for the pen.

Cloning never ends up well, and it doesn’t mean that a writer cannot experiment in the latest genre appeal or what is moving the market at a particular moment; however, eventually a writer will come back to the parameters that were established and are deeply rooted. Can a contract sway the most devoted indie? Maybe or maybe not. It might depend on how deep the writing shrine is rooted and of many other factors, from personal beliefs and values to more work-related, practical, and concrete likes and dislikes. Sometimes, the what-if’s play a role, and other times, it is all a game of roulette, but in the end every writer is its own cliche or its own refuge, although the adage says that no man is an island.

A little mind exercise.

Can you spot the 9 cliches in this blog post?

How do You Measure Success as a Writer?

Photo by M.A.D.

At first glance, it seems an easy question to ponder, however, the more I think about it, the deeper it goes, especially, if you have been writing for many years. Expectations change with time, experience, and age. The young writer is full of dreams and “youthful expectations,” while a more mature writer has navigated the murky waters and has defined and redefined the path to success, or even what success means now, in comparison to what it meant when the writer wrote/published the first book.

Success is a personal measure, however in contrast, it is measured by others, and labeled. For a writer, success might be measured by income generated by the books, other related sales, or by the number of books written. For other writers, recognition, fame, or the validation of a name is very important. Comments, reviews, engagements … all of this might spell success for a writer if that was in the “personal definition” of success the writer had in mind. For other writers, money, fame, numbers … are not as important, and this group writes for the love of it. Their dreams are not crushed by external factors. However, as humans we need a certain degree of recognition, whether that is from our inner circle or external, a spouse, a friend, or a reader that happened to give of his/her time, and left a review, or a comment. Even as children we yelled, ” Look Daddy, look at me.” We might not want the fame, but we want the recognition. The socio-economic background of a writer also has an influence in the type of goals and expectations. Life experiences, self-esteem, all of it, are elements of influence when defining success, whether as a writer or any other career.

It is when the personal measure of success collides with the external measure of success that there is conflict, that is, if the writer’s expectations are in line with the external measure of success. A writer who hasn’t sold many books might view the work as failure because the definition of success included sales, income, number of readers, reviews …. At the same time, the outside world would not consider the same writer a successful writer. However, if the same writer manages to write a best seller the next year, for example, both “personal measure” and “external measure” are at peace, and so is the writer. It doesn’t matter if that same writer had already ten or twenty books under his/her belt. Going a step further, those books might have found new life now, new readers, and might be included (or not) in the vault of success by default.

Mind games, circumstantial, true desire? How do you measure your success as a writer? What has more weight for you, internal or external factors?

This Old Garden

This time of the year is perfect for working outdoors because it is not too cold and not warm yet. It is when we try to do as much as we can before the warm weather and bugs arrive. The weather has been good enough, even during winter. This gave us enough time to tackle some chores that needed to be done. We enjoy this type of work, so when it is done during cool weather, we like it even more. Most of it was repainting all the areas that needed to be redone, such as light posts, porch posts, veggie garden, old planting pots that needed some love, garden tables, and the wood around the house. We are sticking with the color Barn Red by Minwax, a semi stain, and we love it. One coat is just enough. We replaced the wood on the work bench and repainted it, spruced up the side door, and weeded out some broken things. We also introduced a new area in the garden, which will need some further development. Tired flags were changed, grass was cut, and leaves were collected once more after the very windy days we had. Overall, most of the heavy work is done by now, but we still have some things to tackle before the summer. We are also planning other projects before the end of this year, some of which I will share here.

New garden area that needs more work. This year we introduced three new areas in the garden.

We have come a long way.

In the beginning … there was chaos everywhere.
You can view the renovation of the old farmhouse and garden under Restoring an Old Farmhouse posts.
I see you.