More Than One Hat

Fiction writers wear many hats. We wear a costume everyday. When we create a story, we create worlds, and people in those worlds, characters to whom we give life through challenges and the emotions we try to convey through them. Sometimes, readers might mistake a character for its writer or believe that the writer shares its attributes. Although I believe that there is a bit of the writer in between the lines, fictional characters are fiction. We rely on our mind, imagination, observation, and life experience to give life to our characters, but many times, we rely on research, on learning a particular subject to present a character and a story in a better light. Depending on our writing style, we might become poets, song writers, prophets, and even preachers. I have done a little bit of those jobs when writing my books. I’ve written a poem, a prophecy, and pages of an imaginary book, as I did in The Book of Sharon and in Sunrise Souls, books two and three of The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy. I’ve written riddles on Moonlit Valley, and a song in Sunrise Souls. On my work in progress – The Five-dollar Miracle, I had to write an entire sermon.

My point is, we sometimes have to become our characters and see the world through their eyes for a little while, to be able to write the story. Sometimes, the writing feels effortless, and at other times, it is more challenging, but always with levels of engagement. We are separate from our characters but we step inside their world, their minds, and their feelings/emotions to be able to convey a story to the readers as best as we can. In that regard, we wear many hats. We become the heroine, the villain, the priest, the prophet, and even an inanimate object, such as a book of prophecies and teachings.

I write stories, I create worlds, I give life to characters and become one with them, and then, disengage. I put on a costume everyday. I write fiction and love it.

 

 

A Fictional Life

The lines between reality and fiction become blurry when life turns out a series of unfortunate events. I know; I’ve been there. Whether you are a writer or not, when life becomes a challenge, you cannot help it when the feeling of being a character in your own novel, sitcom, or even comic book, starts to creep in. Sometimes, life does not make any sense at all or it may seem unfair. In those circumstances, one tries to find meaning or purpose in everything that goes on; however, sometimes there seems to be no purpose or light at the end of the tunnel. I know; I’ve been there too.

How does one survive life’s strongest blow so far? So far, because what we may think is the strongest blow, may not even be a whisper of what life will try to teach us. Sometimes, one has to stay with the process – show up every day, be there, follow through, and go on without making sense of it all, and without finding a purpose to it. One goes on because that is the only thing that makes sense at that moment. Sometimes, without a reason, without a why. What does not kill you makes you stronger. The adage is truth. In the midst of pain, disappointment, ruin, and many out of control emotions, the human soul must find a way to go on, to keep on being. Months become weeks, weeks become days, days turn into seconds, and the first blink of an eye in the morning. Another day; the nightmare continues. It was not a dream. One wishes consciousness away. However, somewhere very deep inside, one manages to find a weak fiber of strength to take on another second, hour, day, week, month… . To live through the next second becomes something to shoot for. The why, the purpose becomes secondary, reduced to poetry dust. At that moment, one may switch between feeling the most alive ever or feeling the numbest of deaths. A hurting reality can make you feel alive or dead. It becomes a thin blurry veil. Time is the process and through it another reality is crafted each millisecond. As long as one exists in time and space, whether the real or fictional you, life will go on – with or without meaning/purpose. Once one has been through the chapters, might as well stick around till the ending. After the experience, purpose is not so important after all, being is. To be or not to be; that is the purpose.

Half Way There, Oh No!

The Book of Sharon (Half way - first draft)

The Book of Sharon (Half way – first draft)

What you see in the picture is setting me into panic mode. It is November 8, and I am half way to complete the first draft of The Book of Sharon (book 2 – The Dinorah Chronicles). I set a goal to finish the first draft of the novel by December 31st, and I have less than two months to do this. I have to say that I expect to finish it in time, and I will be very disappointed if I don’t (but I will). This novel presents its own challenges because of the format in which it is written (I won’t say more) – not typical. Despite the novel’s challenging approach, and a few challenges of my own, I am excited to push to meet the deadline, and will celebrate when I do. After the first draft, I usually go through 2-3 more drafts, and a final edit before publishing. It could take months before it is ready to fly. The good news is that the cover is ready (so far, unless I happen to change my mind).  So it is just down to finishing the story.

Part of the issue of finishing it on time is that I had prepared a rough short outline, a very basic bulleted list of what I thought the story would look like when finished, and that changed as we speak. The story took an unexpected turn, and I am not forcing my outline on it. I want to know where it will take me. Maybe it will take a different direction, or it may be just a turn that will eventually meet my intent, who knows. I know as much as you do now, but I am very excited to see it develop some more. For now, although a bit worried, I am happy that I am half way there.

Peekaboo – Ramblings of the Spirit Front Cover

So here it is – the front cover for my second novel Ramblings of the Spirit, Book 1 of The Dinorah Chronicles.  I hope you like it.  I went through two designs and finally, decided on this one.  Ramblings of the Spirit will be available by the end of this month (I hope) via Amazon and Smashwords, and via expanded distribution.  I will keep you posted.  Here is a blurb.

Dinorah Sandbeck, an introverted young librarian, resents her Human-Anarth origins and must find a way to fulfill her birthright duty, while keeping the secret.  As she learns the Anarth ways and follows the riddled teachings of an ancient tome, she falls in love and struggles to keep her secret. She must fight her archenemy Hael and The Other Side, but most of all, she must fight herself.  In this battle of Self, Love, and Duty, winning is the least of her concerns.

And here is a peek of the cover,

 

Cover for Ramblings of the Spirit (The Dinorah Chronicles) - Girl Image by Lunagirl Images. Design by Maria Antonia Diaz

Cover for Ramblings of the Spirit (The Dinorah Chronicles) – Girl Image by Lunagirl Images. Design by Maria Antonia Diaz

 

REMINDER – Don’t forget that tomorrow is the last day to enter for a chance to receive a free copy of Moonlit Valley.  Just like my Facebook page at the right side of this screen.  I will announce three winners on Monday. Cheers!

On Writing Critters, Demons, and Other Beings

The purpose of this post is to highlight the importance of consulting  your earlier outlines or notes when writing a second novel that refers to characters of a previous novel.

When I wrote The Dinorah Chronicles – Ramblings of the Spirit, I did not consult my earlier notes for Moonlit Valley, for most of it.  While reviewing Ramblings of the Spirit, I noticed that I had misspelled the name of one of the creatures, and have done it through the entire novel.  I wasn’t sure, so I consulted my notes from the first book.  This was more than a typo.  I was right, I had switched a k for a j, calling the supernatural entity a Murksling instead of a Murkslink, and in a deeper level, altering the character’s essence/meaning (murk-slink).  Although it wouldn’t probably affect or alter the story, readers notice these things, and many of them know their critters and supernatural beings by heart, if they are reading your books.  Not realizing that mistake on time to make the correction, would have been misinterpreted as carelessness or lack of respect towards the world that a writer has created.  In a way, it is a letdown to the reader.  This is why it is so important to keep earlier notes and outlines at hand, when out of the ordinary beings are created and named.  It is helpful as well, to keep track of important details if you are writing a series.

I keep all my notes and very short outlines in the computer, so it is easy to refer to them, as necessary.  However, I was relying on my memory and trusting that I would remember every detail.  Not the case.  If you don’t like to keep your notes in the PC, a small box of index cards for each novel, divided by chapter, is a good idea.  In each chapter card, include meaningful information such as dates, ages, descriptions, places, and names of characters, and any other pertinent details for future series.  In addition, you may buy software that can help you organize your novel files.  I like to keep it simple because I don’t want to create a project out of an outline of a novel.

So this is my bit of wisdom for today – keep your critters, demons, and supernatural beings at hand, so you don’t end up dissapointing your readers.

Look at What the Asteroid Brought – a Piece of the Moon

I am just kidding; however, I am extremely happy to announce that Moonlit Valley is available through Amazon (US, UK, EU) in paperback or e-book (Kindle or PDF).  It will also be available via extended distribution through the Ingram, Baker & Taylor catalog, in about 6-8 weeks, meaning that you will be able to order it at your favorite bookstore.  I will be celebrating tonight, of course.  Here is the link to Moonlit Valley

You can also find it here – Moonlit Valley, and through Smashwords here for all of you who have ereaders in the ePub format (nook, apple, kobo…), Sony, palm, and other electronic formats.

This is a picture of the cover,

MOONLIT VALLEY

MOONLIT VALLEY

And the back cover,

back cover Moonlit valley

And a spread picture (because I’m so excited),

moonlit valley spread

Here is a bit about it,

Moonlit Valley

Rose Carrigan never imagined what awaited her when she left her New Jersey hometown to live in an old farmhouse located in a small southern town called Moonlit Valley.   After a series of mysterious clues and unfortunate events, once more, her world turns upside down. This time, the man who she loves, Jeremy Sandbeck, her irresistible and seductive husband, is the one responsible. When she discovers his identity, she must decide between love and destiny, defying the surreal world that she has discovered.  Jeremy struggles with love, and what he
thinks is his true supernatural and divine duty.

I hope you like it.  I will keep you updated.

Two Serious Writing Goals for 2013

photo by M. Diaz

photo by M. Diaz

I am loving 2013.  After the many Doomsday theories that we had to listen to over the past year, I am glad that 2013 is here.  2012 was dark in many ways, I perceived the “doom” in many people’s moods, and in the overall atmosphere, both cyber and reality.  I had many personal challenges, which I view as lessons that I must go through so I can evolve.  In a way, I view 2013 as a year of possibility and light, a year of taking journey, of flapping wings and embracing the sunlight.  2013 is just the beginning of many good things to come our way.  At least, that is how I choose to perceive it.

I have set two serious writing goals, which I want to accomplish before the end of the year (pending dates).

  • The release of my first novel – “Moonlit Valley”
  • The release of my second novel – “The Dinorah Chronicles – Ramblings of the Spirit.” (first in the trilogy)

A third goal has been set to write the second book in the trilogy, which title is “The Book of Sharon;” however, I will be extremely happy if I get to the first draft on this one.  I am hoping to release this one by 2014.  I don’t know what the 3rd book in the trilogy will be, as it hasn’t knocked on my door yet, but it will, just as the others did.

Ideally, I would love to write a novel a year and to have it ready for release the next year.  However, reality tells me that I (still) have a pending move to a very rural setting (mind the internet speed here), and a farmhouse to restore by hand, and very limited funds, so let’s see how that goes.  For now, I will be happy if I can materialize these two major goals before the end of 2013.

Do you have a serious goal for 2013?  Feel free to share it here; let’s make this year one of amazing things happening 🙂

Day 6 – Awesome WordPress Bloggers

Writing utencils: stencils

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s spotlight belongs to The Short and the Long of It by Monique (Neeks).  This blogger is amazing; why?  Because you can give her any three words, even the weirdest and most difficult words (unrelated words too) you can think of and she will write a story using those words.  The issue here is that she  doesn’t just writes the story, she manages to make it interesting and the characters become alive.  But wait, there is more – the story is not too long or too short, it is the right length and it has an easy flow, with narrative and dialog, and a unique writing style.  And the titles, oh the titles to the stories are so creative.  Her blog is colorful and very welcoming, cheerful, joyful, that is the vibe I get from this blog.

If you like short stories and want to enjoy reading some very imaginative and creative ones, head out to The Short and the Long of It and don’t forget to leave the author your three words, because in no time you will be in for a treat.  Oh, and that is another thing, the author doesn’t take that long in creating that story – which is amazing on its own.  Follow this blog so you don’t miss the stories.

The Short and the Long of It is able to quench your thirst for creative stories.   Head out there and see for yourself.

 

The Story with a Heartbeat

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Image via Wikipedia

Some stories are alive; others are dead.  A story has a heartbeat when it manages to touch the reader and evoke feelings and emotions.  This is how I know that a story has touched me deeply – I cry, I pause for a long time, I get goosebumps, or I can’t stop thinking about it, for days, weeks, or years.

The first book to touch my soul was Jonathan Livingston Seagull from Richard Bach.  A few years ago, I managed to find an autographed copy on Ebay, and I reread the story.  I loved it again, maybe more so.  It is still my favorite book.

This morning, I read a story on a blog – The Jittery Goat – and the story made me cry.  It was sweet, had a great pace, and it touched my heart.  The short story is called “A Sunset for Claire.”  You never know when a story is going to touch your soul; you can’t predict it, it just happens.

Why it happens?  Who knows; it is one of those things.  Maybe we connect with it at a deep and personal level, maybe it reminds us of something, it gives us hope, it talks to us at the right time, we get its genius … the reasons vary from reader to reader.  However, I consider this a treat when it happens.  I like many stories,poems … however, just because I like them and think they are great, that does not mean that they reached my soul – some do, some don’t – this is how it is for me.  This is why I always approach a story with a sense of respect, because I don’t know how much I will get from it and how it will touch my heart.

What is the story or poem that has touch your soul?

Steampunk Inspired

I love the Steampunk theme; it is a mix of Victorian Gothic with futuristic elements, which I find so appealing to the senses and imagination.  I love it in stories, movies, art. and even some apparel and jewelry (yes I do own some).  Steampunk screams adventure and romance, but also the darkest side – the fallen of humanity.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me that writing Steampunk is not easy; I’m not sure I could do it, although I have never tried.  The creation and elaboration of that kind of world requires a lot from the imagination.  Unlike writing in the present or writing from a historical perspective, Steampunk presents a different challenge to the writer.  The writer must create a world that has elements of the past, present and the future, and at the same time mesh in the characters, but doing all that while being true to the characters.  In a way, it is similar to writing fantasy, but in my opinion more challenging, since you can just take off with your fantasy world, but in Steampunk, you still have to abide by some “past-world rules.”

If you are a Steampunk writer I invite you to comment about the challenges that you have faced as a writer while creating that world.