Sandstorm

I have never been in a sandstorm, and I would never want to be caught on one; except in this one. From time to time, I write a review on a book that I enjoyed in a special way or that I find mesmerizing, unique, or out of the ordinary. I don’t write many reviews, although I enjoy many books. I compare the reading of The Star of Bethlehem by Patrick Moore to a sandstorm.

A sandstorm is made of many grains of sand and travels fast, windsweeping everything on its path. On its own, a grain of sand is not much (although I find it fascinating) but many particles of sand together at once, being carried by a wind force is significant. Well, this book is like that. It is written by an astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore. The topic is the phenomenon of the star of Bethlehem viewed and presented from the point of view of the author, a well experienced astronomer. When I got this book the topic fascinated me but because it was immersed in theories and scientific information/data I assumed I would become restless at one point while reading it, not bored just restless. I could not have been more wrong. I do not know how he manages to do this (as a writer) but he took so many grains of information related to the possible astronomical phenomena that would explain the star of Bethlehem and weaved it into an interesting, well-written, reader friendly, comfortably paced book that swept me like a sandstorm. It kept me reading. At the end, he presents his theory/opinion. The information presented dates back to records/accounts from around 7 BC-1 BC mostly, or around the possible date/period of Christ’s birth. I was pleasantly surprised that I could not put this book down. This because although I love these topics, numbers and scientific data presented hardcore might not capture my interest sometimes. I think that I was delighted by this book and very impressed by how it was written. What a great read. In it, Sir Patrick Moore presents possible candidates for the phenomenon of the star of Bethlehem – a star, planet, comet, nova, supernova … and goes back to the “records” of the time.

Although I have always viewed the topic of the star of Bethlehem from a faith point of view, and still do, I found this book very informative, interesting, and fun to read. It kept me reading, and I was pleased. A sandstorm of a book.

My Favorite Character

I have been working on finishing my next book, and have taken a break, which for some reason, I need to do after finishing a story. I am waiting for the proof, and if everything seems right, The Five-dollar Miracle will see the light soon.

While I was on this break, I began to ponder about this new story, and how different it is from my previous novels. I thought about my previous works, and I wondered if my writing is evolving on to another level and even a different style. Of course, I don’t have the answer to that question. I write the book that wants to be written, the one that screams at me the loudest, and that only means that I have to set aside my plans to write the story I thought I would write next. While thinking about my previous books, I realized that my favorite character wasn’t necessary the main character.

As writers, we craft characters, and I believe that characters craft us as well. When writing a novel, we create these imaginary beings to tell a story, but many times those characters reveal themselves to us; they show up. Sometimes, they even write themselves by refusing our pen, our ideas of who they are to become. One of the main characters in Moonlit Valley refused to be written the way I first envisioned him. Jeremy Sandbeck fought my pen from the start. Eventually, I let him be. Initially, I had envisioned him as a methodical, reserved, soft spoken intellectual young man who wore glasses, but he fought me to become quite the opposite. As I wrote him on the first novel and later series, he developed much more, and grew into what he needed to be. Although character development and evolution is expected in a series, this taught me to listen to my characters. In this case, he knew what was best for the story. My original view of him would not have worked as well.

By now, you might be thinking that Jeremy Sandbeck is my favorite character; he is not. My favorite character was introduced in Moonlit Valley, and was intended as a necessary secondary, even tertiary character. Originally, he was not intended by me to make it through the entire story, maybe a couple of chapters. Instead, he stayed through Moonlit Valley, and made it into The Dinorah Chronicles series. It surprised me. His name is Cole Angelou. Although he did not fight my pen as Jeremy Sandbeck did, he grew on me and slowly evolved into a much needed and important figure in the main character’s life. He became a life line.

Cole Angelou is an Anarth. Anarths are highly evolved celestial beings who take human form to fulfill a duty on Earth. Anarths do not age. They posses strength and speed abilities, psychic powers, as well as being capable of traveling between realms in milliseconds. Their senses are heightened and human emotions overwhelm them. Their duty is to live on Earth as sentinels. They monitor and protect key humans who are important in human evolution, and ensure that blue prints are being executed according to the divine plan. They are not angels, and are a few ranks below.

Cole Angelou is the voice of reason, cool, collected, and reserved. He doesn’t interfere in your business unless asked or when necessary, that is without infringing on free will. He is cautious, does not trust easily, and respects hierarchy. One thing I enjoyed when writing this character was to see him get out of his comfort zone and even break a few rules (all for a good reason/purpose).

If I had to question how he ended up staying throughout the series, and beyond my original plan for him, I would say that he did not fight my pen, and he let me write him. However, he creeped in slowly, evolving as the story developed, to the point of becoming crucial, needed, important to it. Did Cole Angelou trick me? I don’t know but he became my favorite character.

Crossroads

Happy New Year to all!

As a new year starts, many times, we feel a sense of renewal, a chance to do over or start fresh. Sometimes, it feels as if we can erase the past year and welcome a brand new life. It is the start of new goals, the opportunity to encourage new ventures and new dreams. The first few weeks of the new year we either follow our plans/goals or we settle back into our old routine. However, a new year is still a new year, and comes full of opportunities, and that is great in itself.

I have to admit that this is the first year that I can recall feeling a bit disconnected and at a crossroads. My old self would have had pages of goals and projects waiting to be implemented. The woman writing this post has not written one goal down for this year. It is puzzling to me because I have always been an organized planner/doer. Starting a new year goal-uninspired as if staring at a blank slate is a bit alien to me. Soul searching has not rendered anything new worth implementing this year. Other than reassessing my endeavors and publishing the novel I have been working on for quite a while, I got nothing. Although this is unsettling and a bit of a nuisance, I have to admit that the novelty is sparking my curiosity and I truly long to know where all this is headed. This mystery translates into the feeling of being in front of an imaginary line, and not knowing how to step over it or cross it. For me, this is unusual. It brings on a bit of expectancy and confusion as well, and curiosity. One thing presents true in my mind, and that is my writing – the only sure thing right now.

In the real world I have tons of work to do – home projects, chores, and other duties. Long term goals are “fuzzy” right now, well, more like invisible. In other words, the pond is well stocked but the fisherman is taking a nap. The well is full but the pump is malfunctioning. The inkwell is not dry but the pen is missing.

May this year bring you joys as well as mystery, and if uncertainty shows up, may you embrace it as a path towards renewal. To be continued…

Inkspeare

Photo by Maria Diaz

A Holiday Wish

Many times, we take things for granted; I mean, the little blessings in life. Things such as the first snow, the first bud we see at the start of spring, the first colorful leaf one sees on the floor, the sounds of nature … so many beautiful things. We also live on a planet full of people, full of souls with dreams, full of good people and not-so-good people. However, we are all on this beautiful planet. The other day, I was reflecting about the evil in this world, and how a human being can personify it. Then I got thinking, what could possibly happen to a person to become that way – a living personification of evil. I thought, at least once during a lifetime that person must have had one dream, one dream of goodness. What happened? Immediately, a thought came to mind. When we stop counting blessings, even the tiniest ones, our heart becomes heavy. Our eyes are placed away from the blessings each day brings, and wander looking for what is missing. We go from a state of gratitude and plenty to one of ungratefulness, frustration, and misery. The soul starts lacking, and the pathway becomes dark. This thought did not give me an explanation of why people turn to evil deeds, but it gave me an understanding of how easily one can go from a state of joy and plenty to one of misery and lack.

It is December, a season to celebrate joy, a season of giving, and one of receiving as well. One to wish Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, one to dream about the new year, and wish others a happy and healthy one. A season to look back and reflect about trials and blessings, and one to give thanks as well. I truly want to wish you all a beautiful and meaningful season, and a new year full of blessings, but mostly, I want to thank each one of you for being part of my world, for every comment, like, and read, because I don’t want to take those for granted – they are part of my blessings.

To you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Thank you. To all, my love.

Shining Stars

It was the night before Christmas 

and I stepped outside to see

a sky showing all its glory

a firmament all lit.

*

A silence as no other

whispered its peace to me

The blessings of the season

filling the air I breathe.

*

As I looked to the heavens

a star shone bright above

the love of Jesus my savior, I thought

filling my heart with his love.

*

Then one by one the stars shone bright

each one with a special light.

A voice I heard inside my heart

A whisper of love so bright.

*

These are the souls of mankind 

born pure, of evil none

like stars shining above

to each, a special light bestowed.

*

It was the night before Christmas

I stepped outside to see.

I saw the love of God

for every human being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Loudest Story

I am most comfortable when I write. I express myself better in writing. It feels like a second skin. I have been asked, “how do you know what to write?” or told, “I would like to write but I don’t know what to write or how to start.” There is no right answer; just start. However, there is a process I go through when selecting the next story to be written. I have several notes on possible future novels. These notes do not follow any particular order. I write these ideas down when they appear. These ideas may come to me at any time, day or night, and even when I’m writing the current story. Quickly, I make a note of it and save it. When I finish the novel I’m working on I experience a new flow of ideas. Many times, one particular idea will cross my mind on several occasions and will stick around more than the rest. Although I review my notes to select the next story, there is always one story that becomes “loud” in my head. It grabs my attention and I start thinking about it with a measure of obsession. It is the story that screams at me, and I end up choosing the idea as the topic of my next novel. After I commit myself to it, the developing process starts, and I give it my undivided attention and total focus. The rest is set aside; even an idea that I might prefer. I found the process of writing a trilogy a bit forced for the reason of having to continue a story, although an idea developed into three books. I found that I prefer to write a single story – beginning to end, whether that story turns out to be a short story or a novel.

This is how I decide what to write next. On a personal note, I always start writing a new story by saying a prayer about the work I am about to start; call it a superstition, or rite of passage, if you may, but it is something I do. This is my process as far as selecting what story to write next. It may be a fresh idea or one stored for future use, but it is always the story that screams the loudest, the one that wants to be written now. I don’t take writing for granted, nor inspiration; for it I am grateful. Immensely.

 

Just a Quick Note to Readers of this Blog

Just wanted to let you know that for some reason I am not able to view the notifications section of this blog; it appears empty, and I cannot get to it. I apologize in advance for not being able to answer any comments or visit the recent blogs that have visit mine in the past couple of days, as I usually like to do. This happened once before and it fixed itself fast, so I am hoping it does. Never thought of it before, but the feeling is as having a blind blog. It feels lonely without being able to view the notifications, as I enjoy this part of the blog.

Love, and have an awesome day.

The Day I Cried

A little piece of inspiration.

 

The Day I Cried

 

It was eight in the morning. It was Wednesday, or was it Tuesday? I grabbed a cup of coffee that was already half-empty, half-warm, and stared at it. I looked at the calendar and could not decide what day it was, was it Tuesday or Wednesday. I took a sip, and put the cup aside; who likes cold coffee? The day seemed to drag as usual, soon working hours, nothing out of the ordinary. Ordinary, orderly, order, who wants order every day? I looked outside and saw a leaf flying in the wind, or was it a piece of paper? One of those thin-weathered, annoying pieces of trash that seem to appear from another dimension when you least expect it. Was I expecting something? Who likes the unexpected? I turned around to grab a second cup of coffee. This time, I intended to drink it hot. I poured the sugarless black coffee on a new cup. I set it aside; something caught my eye. A black ant struggled by the windowsill; it had three legs, three legs. I watched it as it moved, as if performing a dance of pain where the only audience was a lonely observer. I thought of my coffee. As I went to grab the already warm cup, I collapse on my knees. The cup went flying in the air hitting the windowsill and almost sending a rain shower of warm coffee to the struggling ant. Shattered. I grabbed my chest; the pain I felt sent waves all over my body, chills down my spine converging in my head. I let myself go into the agony of crying as I felt the weight of the world crawling out of my heart, slowly, as a river of pain that floods the spirit and washes the soul. I lay on the floor, on one side, watching the struggling ant reach its destination – the flowerpot near the window. She was safe now. Images of war, revolts, disease, and technology zombies clouded my brain, revealing a dirty planet. I closed my eyes, as if wanting to shut the dams of the heart, only to find out that the more I squeezed them shut, the river grew bigger, and the sound of agony came out of my mouth, a symphony of despair, a song of hopeless cries that shoot into the heavens as hungry ravens in search of food and back. I opened my eyes; the ant wasn’t there, coffee all over the windowsill, a ray of light filtering through the cloudy glass, kissing my forehead. I sat up. The ravens flew away. The spilled coffee seemed as art in an ordinary day – orderly, order. Was it order what I felt? I wiped away the tears, and one by one, collected the pieces of an empty, shattered cup of coffee. There was art in the windowsill, and life in a flowerpot. There was life, after all.

 

Hope you enjoyed it.

7 Steps to Polish Yourself as an Indie Author

As the title suggests, this post is simple and clear, and mostly describes in a general way the steps I took to follow my intention of becoming and independent author. It is a summary of steps targeted to those thinking about the topic, and wanting to know a few simple but necessary steps to take. This is what I have done and continue to do to grow as part of my journey.

  1. The first thing to do is just Write. It doesn’t matter how much you learn in theory if you do not apply it in practice. You must write and write a lot. It will help you develop a style and a sense of comfort in your own skin – because you will be your worst critic.
  2. Learn from the masters. Read best-selling authors who have been in the craft/business for long, whether they are traditionally published or not. If they have made it so far, they must offer valuable insight. Study their style and enjoy their work. Keep it simple.
  3. Read in your genre. If you have a feel for the type of stories that you want to share with readers, then read other authors who have done it. If anything, it will help you become clear on your goals as a writer, as well as discover other areas of interest.
  4. Read books to improve your writing, grammar, spelling … Educate yourself as much as you can. I would rather spend time polishing my writing than attending critique groups or book clubs. Be wise with your learning time; you know your needs.
  5. If you want to publish independently you must learn about it as much as your time allows, but keep it simple. Learn the basics and keep learning. This is a movement that is gaining momentum now and developing further due to advances and changes in technology. There has always been independent authors, however, it is a new game now and the doors are open thanks to technological advances. It is also viable and less expensive for the same reason.
  6. Learn about technology. It dictates the future of book publishing and book reading. It is wise to be somehow knowledgeable about trends, even if you have no intention to embrace it right away. At least you will have an idea on where things are headed.
  7. You might not like this last one – learn about marketing and promoting your work. Most writers think about the story and not about this part; it feels alien to their nature. It is necessary, and learning as much as you can about this topic will benefit you even if you decide to go the traditional route or if you hire someone to help you with it. Knowledge gives you a sense of control, and eases your mind.

Overall, keep it simple and don’t agonize over it. Let your writing become better, and follow your own pace. It is an ongoing effort.

Art of Selling

First of all, my best wishes for the New Year. This post will take a retrospective tone, my view on becoming an indie author, and what I have discovered on the journey. Last year was very challenging in the personal and the professional aspects, however, I can say that I passed the test – it was the feeling as I received the New Year. I took some time off to think and regroup, and I put writing aside for a while (hence Sunrise Souls is not finished). I am glad that I did this because it made me focus on my journey, and I realized that I create my writing journey and walk its path, and that I don’t have to follow another’s journey – even when it is full of great ideas and awesome “to-do’s.”  It is the spirit of indie – to create and give life to my art form, whatever it may be.

Like many independent authors, I was feeling the pressure of the indie movement (as a general) presented to us by the “new-born gurus,” and which I thought was becoming as rigid as traditional publishing in some aspects. I noticed that “one-way of doing things” was emerging, as well as criticism from the pros who were leading (not on purpose but by default in most cases) the masses of newborn indies who were trying to walk before they learn to crawl, maybe because they felt the same pressure to keep up with the rapid changes while not realizing that the pros and gurus did their crawling and hard work before walking, and took their time. I also saw the insane craving for sales, writing tons of books fast, and making money while the market “is not too saturated,” and that did not make sense to me because it was not part of my journey. The more I learned about this movement, the more I understood what I wanted my journey to be, as well as my pace and method. I guess that in short, I can say that I am not a follower but appreciate many points of view and understand that there is more than one way of doing things.

As I gave myself the time to do nothing, I found myself watching two major shopping networks during the holidays. I don’t watch too much television, and I did not buy anything, but I kept coming back to these hosts who understood the art of selling and promoting. I was mesmerized by the choice of words in description, and by the feelings that these words created in an almost non-perceived way. At one point, I heard the callers repeating the same words of the host, as if they had made the discovery. These hosts were doing the impossible – they were practicing the art of selling from afar, of selling something via the air waves, something not yet tangible to the audience, but these callers wanted it badly. The key to their selling was not to sell, but to create a strong desire, a “want it now – have to have it” feeling. They are successful at it. Although I have a strong background in sales (real estate and jewelry/diamontology), and always knew that the key to selling is not to sell at all, it was the level of descriptive selling and choice of words that caught my attention and admiration of their craft. Some of these hosts do a three-hour show on a line, and many seem to have a huge following of customers for many years. Many recognize a caller from time to time. All this lead me to think about my writing, not so much about selling or promoting, but about the necessary time to create, to build a story with the right words, and to let these words do most of the selling, awaking feelings in the reader. I am not saying that an author should not sell or promote a product, it is a necessary practice. What I am saying is that I should put more attention on the product (the writing and crafting of the story) that on the number of books, sales numbers, or revenue. I want to make a living from my writing, yes, but I don’t want that to be my sole focus/effort.  Going back to the shopping network hosts, the ones who seemed to sell more, were the hosts who focused the effort on creating a love affair with the product.

One thing that became clear during this time is that I will pursue my writing on my own terms, while keeping an open mind about new developing, and while enjoying the journey. A journey that I want to create at my own pace and space while being true to my work ethic and working style. It is the indie spirit after all.

Authors: You’re not Alone

An excellent post for Indies. Must share it 🙂

chrismcmullen

Alone

Alone

It’s easy to feel alone:

  • You sit down and write your book all by yourself.
  • If you self-publish, you do it yourself.
  • Marketing is up to you.

Indie ≠ Alone

It’s really indie publishing, not self-publishing.

  • Indie = independent. Independent means you’re the boss, you make the decisions, you have freedom, etc. Independence doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. Choose not to be alone, if you wish.

Where Is Everyone?

Get connected:

  • Meet fellow authors. Interact with them. Read about their experiences. Discuss your publishing experience.
  • Ask for help. Others have worn your shoes. Advice is easy to give. Search for ideas. Post a question.
  • There are many free, helpful, positive, interactive author communities on the internet. You just have to look.
  • Need professional help? There are many editing, formatting, and illustration services available by many editors, designers, small publishers, and businesses. You can find affordable and reliable…

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