On Writing – My Experience So Far

From time to time, I like to go back and think about my writing journey and how I feel about it so far. Although I have always written, since I can remember, it wasn’t until the conditions were in my favor that I was able to become an independent author; technology made it possible. In the early days and childhood, stories became broken pieces of paper, maybe because of my mistaken perception, the mystery that surrounded famous writers, and the extreme cost of publishing a book in those days, along with my dislike of pursuing traditional publishing. Although independent publishing has always been looked down in ways more than one, it seems that the idea has become more accepted, and even veterans in the field, traditionally published writers, have embraced it. For me, it has been the realization of a long lost dream, and hopefully, the delight of a lifetime. It has entailed much learning, but also growth. It has been elating as well as confusing at times. For me, the decision to publish independently was as daunting as baring one’s soul to the world, but also a natural one, that is in the sense that I always knew that traditional publishing was not for me. However, before committing, I made sure to learn as much as I could about both venues. That is something that has always been consistent with me – the willingness to study/learn both sides of something before committing to one. This time was not different, although I knew where my heart belonged.

I admire authors who were indies before it was even “a thing.” Back 30-40 plus years ago, it wasn’t as accepted or technologically viable as it is today. Maybe why I don’t take it for granted. It took real guts to be an independent author, and much more work and money. In my view, those writers had a reverence and respect for the craft, way different. As for me, I am so grateful for the times.

Writing for the masses has never been appealing to me, or following the latest trends in writing. In that sense, traditional publishing would have been as jail time. I love to write the story that knocks at my door, the one that begs to be written. Writing for money has never been an important goal, so in that sense, it has not been a disappointment. Delighting a reader, inspiring another, is more appealing these days. Making a decent living at it would only be counted as a blessing.

The future is too short or long, no one knows for sure, so I am very happy writing one story at a time while ignoring numbers; although, for some mysterious reason, thirty books in a lifetime sounds appealing to me, not sure why. However, that number is not a goal, just appealing. Overall, it has been an enjoyable, meaningful, soulful experience that I hope to be able to do for many years to come. When I started on this journey, at the same time, I was experiencing what I would call the most challenging period in my life so far, and also changing an entire lifestyle. Today, while reminiscing, I can say that it has been a good and satisfying journey.

On Writing – The Weak Spot

Every hero has a nemesis, external or internal (the self). In a story, a hero/main character will most likely, have a weak spot, usually the real conflict going on for that character. That weak spot directly or indirectly affects how the character deals with the outside conflict and relationships around him, the immediate world, and archenemy. That same weak spot becomes a door for the enemy/evil, a portal to the main character’s disturbed soul and vulnerability. It is not until the character/hero deals with that weak spot (even when it remains for life) that he/she is able to conquer the evil that torments. Sometimes, the weak spot is related or rooted to an early trauma. The process seems to be the same for the archenemy, but in this case, the denial of the issue (usually) becomes fuel to an evil side; for the hero, weakness but also the door to greatness and strength.

In The Dinorah Chronicles, Dinorah’s non acceptance of her birthright and destiny at the beginning, is rooted on her perception of abandonment by her parents during childhood. It also becomes the source of her strength and power later on. Whether the weak spot remains with the character or is resolved eventually, it is always a source, a vehicle, and a tool that can be used for good or evil.

The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy is available through Amazon in eBook and paperback format.

Common Ground

Realizing that we are more alike than different does not come easy, especially when everything around you is telling you the opposite – news, financial status, social media, protests, our own views of the same … Sometimes, one thing, one incident, something you heard or saw, reminds you that in the end we all want the same things. We want to be loved and love, we want to be safe, we want to prosper, we want joy and happiness, we want a happy home, we want to be fed properly, we want to have fun, we want to help others and be givers, we want to care … Sometimes, in the pursuit of those same things we become boulders in the path of others, and in the one to our own journey. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand one another, but what makes it a bit easier is realizing that we all want the same things. In illuminating our own road, we can also be a light for others.

Photo by M.A.D.

Farmhouse Project – The Pumpkin Area

We had plenty of rain over the past two days, so in the interim, we were able to tackle one of the projects from the immediate list – opening up an area in the back part of the property for pumpkins or other veggies . Last year, we tested a small patch of grass where we were able to grow a few pumpkins and cantaloupe, not many. We realized we had to move the planting a bit to the front, where there is a bit more sun, so we finally settled on the area. We took advantage of the very wet and soft ground after the rain, and we finished the job quickly. The seeds are planted. Only a few rows, just for a second test to see how it goes. This year we planted a few seeds – pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a bit of corn. Not too much because we are still testing. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Clearing up this section was easier than we thought because of all the previous rain.
While digging out grass, we found all of these interesting objects. Mostly, old electrical parts and tools, bolts … I wish I could have a window to the past and see the story attached to each one.
Of course, these will end up in my collection. Why? Just because.
And here they are; in their rightful place. It has become an obsession that doesn’t require an explanation.

After testing this area, if it works out it will be expanded a bit to be able to plant more, and added to over time. I am sure that we will find more interesting things buried in the soil. I hope you enjoyed this project; I surely did.

Less Will Have to Be More

Glancing back this month and reviewing our budget, I realized that expenses are on the up and up. Not that we are spending more, but that things are costing more. If you have been paying attention, not to the news but to the world around you, you might have noticed inflation creeping in. If you pay attention at grocery prices from month to month, you already know it. When people refer to “less is more,” they usually do so in the context of aesthetics, décor, clutter… I think that with our current “real” state of the economy, not what the news are reporting daily, but what you see people live day by day, less will have to be more. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, on your next shopping trip to the grocery store (a definite need) be a bit more observant and glance at people’s grocery carts on line ready for checkout. It is an eye opener. When people are downsizing basic needs, it is a sign of how real things are becoming. It is true that the pandemic caused much damage in many households, and for many people income dropped, while for others, unemployment assistance became a blessing, increasing their income compared to the job they had before being unemployed, hence why many people are not interested in returning to work right away, but that is another subject. So for many others, less will have to become more. Less groceries will have to be stretched out for more people/servings for a longer time. If you think that the pandemic already did this in 2020, wrecking people’s lives, incomes … you are right. Post pandemic it will be inflation.

For us who have been around in the 1980’s, we remember inflation. Interest rates to buy a home were at 14% or more, and the cost of living was high. In my opinion, and I am not a financial expert, only someone who observes life, the difference this time around will be that the salaries have remained pretty much the same since that time while everything else has gone up in price, and possibly much more if inflation hits us hard. For the younger generation, it will be an eye opener, as their purchase power will be challenged much more than it already is. Old timers will not be as shocked but will see the difference, especially, if they are on a fixed income. What a recipe for scrambled eggs, hopefully not kept in one basket. Maybe it will be a lesson in grateful living and appreciation of what one already has, and going back to basics.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26 NIV

Divinity in Writing

The Divine is a main topic in my novels, maybe because it has always interested me. The concept of good vs. evil is fascinating. In my novels, the main characters align with good to fight against evil in a supernatural way. The evil side becomes real but not humanized; it remains what it is, and there is a clear line between the counterparts. I have noticed a trend in stories, whether in book, tv, or movie format, and that is that in most cases, the divine tends to become less divine progressively, and leans more to the evil side, whether cooperating with evil for the sake of good (which makes no sense) or to achieve a common goal as in the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

This vilification of the divine or decline of divinity converts it into evil, thus ceasing to exist as divinity. It seems to be used for more drama in a story, especially, when restoration follows, making for a “better divinity.” This concept is flawed, for obvious reasons. When writing Moonlit Valley and The Dinorah Chronicles, I did not take that route. To avoid the obvious, characters with a strong divine personality/essence such as Cole Angelou, a righteous Anarth, and Olga Gartier, a righteous Human, served as “stop signs.” When interaction between good and evil was necessary, not as collaboration but investigation, a neutral party (the Xeres) served as a bridge; however, neutrality is always questionable. The point, not crossing the line thus diminishing divinity in the series – the line remains strong and so its definition. Being the trends in writing/movies/tv … the opposite, this was important to the story, and something I do not regret as a writer.

As trends to diminish/dilute the divine concept seem to become more popular, keeping an “intact divinity” in a story becomes a step aside, if not challenging, when writing these types of stories. Sometimes, running with the crowd is not the answer, and stepping aside is perfectly fine.

The Weathered Made Anew

It started last week when we restored a couple of old garden statues on a rainy day, and we decided to continue with a task that has been put aside for a while. While my husband tackled the remaining garden statues to be painted, I decided to restore the old porch chairs that needed a little TLC. The weather has taken a toll on the finished wood, but the chairs were still sturdy and solid. We already had the paint and materials around, so all we needed was time and effort. It is easy to discard something when it starts looking weathered and old, but it is not necessary at all.

These were a gift from a good friend for our first house, which makes them over 20 years old or so. When we moved, these came with us.
After my husband cleaned and painted these, the garden statues look great again. I think these can withstand a few more years in the garden.
This tired old chair is in need of some love.
All it needed was a light sanding, dusting, and a coat of stain.
This chair needs some attention before heading to the dumpster. I ask myself the more than one life question – is there still life left on it? If the answer is yes or maybe, then it gets the attention it deserves.
These chairs cost over $500 if bought new. Because we already had at hand the materials we needed to restored them (leftover stain, sanding paper, rag) the cost is $0.00.

Before discarding something as not useful anymore, ask yourself the “more than one life” question. If the answer is yes or maybe, go for it, and give it that life, restore it to beauty and good use once more. In the end, your pocket is happier/fuller, and Earth will thank you.

Art Project for The Owl, Book & Candle

I decided to finish an art piece that was waiting on the side. It will go on our store The Owl, Book & Candle. I was back and forth deciding what media to use, and finally decided to go bold in color, mixed media. It is a nativity retablo.

The Nativity Retablo

Sometimes, when I am working on a piece I have to put it aside until the type of material feels right, and then, I am able to continue working on it. For example, on this piece I decided to use washi paper instead of paint. Washi paper is a type of Japanese paper. This is different from the way my husband works in his pieces. He works straight from start to finish, and his vision is clear from the start. He also plans in paper more than I do. However, I think he is more of a perfectionist than I am. He will redo something he is not happy with or scrap it completely, while I might go slowly but surely. Although we have very different approaches to art we are able to collaborate in some pieces.

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)