When Others Don’t Understand What You Do

This is a light humor post, but one that will resonate with many writers who have gone through similar situations. It is written in the spirit of encouraging new and aspiring writers, as well as the veterans in the field whose work have not been found or given recognition. Consider this scenario, very common.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Hum, a car dealership writer, an underwriter?” (Fill the blank on this one)

“No, I write books.”

“Oh …” (followed by a blank stare)

For most people, unless you last name is King or you live at a coastal mansion, you are not a real writer. You are “playing writer” or are going through a phase. In their minds, Writing books = $$$, and a real writer is supposed to have status of some kind. You become one when you achieve this. If not, why do it? Sometimes, we entertain those same thoughts and feelings; you know what I mean. It seems to go deeper than that.

I would like to share a funny story, a conversation I had along those lines. About two years ago, a nearby neighbor had someone fixing her roof. She knew the person since he was a kid. He was starting his roofing business and she needed a new roof, so it was a perfect match. I was at her home when he arrived for that day, and since I had some questions about metal roofs, we began a casual conversation which centered on the type of roof for my 1910 farmhouse, which has an old style construction (beams) and an original stone foundation. The weight of a new roof on the structure was my main concern. After a few exchanges, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I was a writer, without going into much detail. Immediately, he shared that he always wanted to write a book and that he knew someone who worked at a local radio station “BUT” she was a “REAL” writer. (Imagine my polite smile). I asked him, “Really, and how many books does she have under her belt?” He answered that she had written a book sometime ago. I smiled, but could not help myself and said, “Oh, just one? I am in my sixth, and it doesn’t get any easier.” I thanked him, waved a goodbye, and walked home. Now we know who will not get my business when it is time for a new roof. I will hire a real roofer.

This is a perfect example of how writers are viewed based on status, which usually equals money in the mind of many people. Which brings another issue – fame before talent. These days, if you are a celebrity a publisher is ready and waiting, and your celebrity name/status precedes your book. You can write about anything and it will be published, promoted, and praised, because in most minds, celebrities can be writers. Ask a Cover Girl model what she thinks about that.

At another level, the sting is more bothersome when it comes from someone closer, who is viewed as a line of support, such a family or a close friend. A friend related to me how annoyed and hurt she was when her mother became very excited about someone’s first book, a person she barely knew, but not hers (many) because her books did not sell much. OUCH!

When I published my first novel, I was excited and proud of myself. I had prepared and waited years for this. I gifted a copy to someone I truly thought would be happy for me, and whom I knew for over 30 years, and for whom I had been there always as needed. Her response baffled me. She threw the book on top of the dinning table and said, “I won’t be reading it; I don’t have time for that.” I was shocked. I did not have a quick comeback for that one. It is different when it doesn’t come from a stranger.

People had asked, “Do you make any money?” or “How much money do you make doing that?” One of my favorites is, “Oh, you should write a book about this or that; I bet it will make money.” We know it doesn’t work like that, and for most of us, it is not even about the money. I am sure you have many similar stories as well. My point to all this? Many people don’t understand what writers do or why we do it. In truth, it is not about how many books, or how much money you make … it is about perception, people’s values, and about what it is important to them, ultimately the reason why they don’t understand what you do. Hence why you should be above it all, don’t give it two thoughts, and keep on doing “your thing.” When people don’t understand what you do, it is inconsequential as long as you know why you do it. Never judge a book by its cover?

The Right to Create Responsibly

These days, phrases and words like cultural appropriation, woke, and many other, are common in our vocabulary. We hear them in social media, the news … These concepts have become “a thing” and many are using them and are “finger-ready” to point it at the first sign of such heresy. The self-righteous mob found a new quest, and with it the holy grail of the times, the “woke” got up and chanted a new song of mob shaming. Just because we are so perfect and spotless, right? The taste of new blood becomes an obsession in social media, and in mainstream media as well. It has migrated into writing, with the latest censoring of old books, the shaming of “old culture”, and the removal of many from social media and the shelves. How will it all play out in the end? It is a question I ask myself. Will we become better people? Will we become better communicators and writers/creatives? Will we sensor ourselves, diluting the words as much as we can so we are not perceived as offensive? What about the writers who are in the historical fiction genre? How will they write a scene that has accurate historical influences in wording because it might be perceived as offensive? Will writers avoid certain ethnicities in their novels for fear of being misunderstood? Will writers of crime thrillers be accused of “inspiring” or “inciting” a crime if an unstable person decides to recreate that particular crime? Will authors be censored, arrested, and prosecuted? Will writing and every form of creativity become “illegal” in the future?

I ask myself those questions and many more. I don’t think I am too crazy and far off. Lone gone are the days when you and I could disagree on something, have a conversation about it, have an opinion, and express it freely without being chastised. We must respect one another by learning to listen to one another all over again, by learning to find common ground even when we disagree on many things, and by understanding that we are more alike than we think we are. As writers, I think that we should strive to write the best story we can write without being disrespectful while being true to the story and history, in the case of historical fiction based on facts. As humans, we are less than perfect, and I believe that most of us try to be as decent as we can, and strive to do better each day. When we look at another as a reflection of ourselves, most likely we end up seeing ourselves in that person in some way or another.

We are more alike than we care to admit (photo by M.A.D.)

On Writing Anarths and Other Celestial Beings

When I think of heaven, I think of blue and white (Photo by M.A.D.)

When I set out to write Moonlit Valley, I didn’t know it would take me to a highly organized, supernatural world that operated on Earth through many beings, one kind called Anarths. Anarths are celestial beings who take human form in order to fulfill their assigned duty on Earth. They do not age, possess strength and speed abilities, are capable of traveling between realms in less than milliseconds, and possess enhanced senses, hence why human emotions overwhelm them. They are sentinels of Earth and they monitor and protect key humans who are important in human evolution according to a divine plan. They are not angels, and are a few ranks below.

Writing Anarths presented a challenge – they were not humans but they had to act human-like. However, for the sake of these characters in the story, they had to be written in a distinctive way, that is, aside from their supernatural qualities. They also could not resemble each other or act like clones; they owned their personality on Earth. They experienced emotions, so they could not behave like robots or android-like. They had to present a soul-like side, even that they didn’t have souls. Description/descriptive behavior and characteristics were good to a certain point, so I relied on dialog to achieve this.

Another challenge that presented itself later on, when these characters made it to The Dinorah Chronicles, which had a story time lapse of 20 plus years forward, was the need to evolve them along with the humans they interacted previously, but because they didn’t age, they could not be “totally present” in some parts of the story. They had to act more human-like across the whole series/story and throughout the years, but also develop a familiarity with certain key human characters in the story. All this had to be reflected in the dialog throughout the trilogy. Because they had blended well with humans, they had acquire certain personality and behavior patterns that had to be reflected in the trilogy. Simply, they could not have remained the same. One way to achieve this was to make them sort of “break a few rules” but without sacrificing their righteousness. Their personalities and behavior throughout the series had to evolve without being to evident, because after all, they had a divine makeup, and a divine purpose/duty, which had to remain untouched by me (the writer). An example of this is prohibited and brief, but necessary, negotiations with a neutral element of The Other Side in order to obtain information that would advance the cause.

A simple example of the use of dialog in the early stages of an Anarth who has been assigned on Earth but has not spent enough time or develop many human relationships yet, would be something like this:

Human dialog“Hey, why are you not going?” or roughly “Hey, why aren’t you going?”

An Anarth would say it like this – “What is the reason for you not attending?” or “Does your intended absence has a purpose?” or “Is there a purpose to your absence?” There are many ways to construct the sentence, many variations, but all intending a certain degree of order.

Another simple example.

Human “Do you want lunch?”

Anarth“Are you in need of nourishment?”

An Anarth in the early stages of human contact would not say “can’t” instead, he/she would say “can not.” As relationships become stronger, the dialog evolves, thus becoming more relaxed. The darker (evil) the character, the more impersonal and less “caring” the dialog became. Writing these characters was fun and I learned much from their interaction and evolution throughout the story as I wrote them.

Moonlit Valley and The Dinorah Chronicles are available via Amazon in eBook and paperback.

When No Face Equals All Faces

What if your main character did not have a face but had them all? When I wrote The Five-dollar Miracle I took a risk, and unusual approach – I did not describe the main character physically, instead, I described every character in the story, except Pastor Neil Beckham. However, I had a clear purpose for doing this. I wanted the main character to appeal to every reader, this due to the nature of the story. To be able to get away with a faceless main character, I made sure to focus on the character’s personality, psyche, emotions, and personal history. In this way, the physical attributes took a secondary place and were able to disappear, blend with the story, thus becoming less important. By describing every other character, their stories became alive as well, however, always strongly linked to the main character. Every other character in the story became a support for this faceless main character. In this way, the reader could imagine him in his own way, and tailor him to his/her own reading experience, but mostly because The Five-dollar Miracle is an inspirational story. Because of the nature of the story, I was able to get away with it, however, this approach would not have worked for any other of my novels. Three readers who enjoyed the story very much, did not even realized that there was no description, and each person imagined him in a very different way. I took a risk taking that route, however, in order to do that, the rest of the characters became an important part on this decision, So far, it seems to have worked out.

THE FIVE-DOLLAR MIRACLE is available via Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

Placing Yourself Inside the Scene

Sometimes, a writer must enter a scene that he/she is writing. By that I mean that the writer must place himself/herself inside the scene and next to the character in order to engage all the senses and see/hear/taste/feel what the character is experiencing at that moment. It has been my experience that when I jump inside the scene with the character (mentally of course) it helps me write the scene better, not only describe it better, but give it life. By experiencing the scene along with the character(s) it becomes more than watching it unfold, the senses become engaged at once, thus resulting in more vivid writing. I don’t follow this process with every scene I write (that would be too draining), only the ones that seem to have more movement or require a higher perception/involvement of the senses. Usually it is an important scene, a climatic scene that will result in greater change in the novel. It could be a battle, but it could also be a scene with less physical action but in which a higher level of the senses is needed. An example of this is the scene in the church parking lot in Moonlit Valley (chapter – The Battle). In this scene Rose is being attacked by The Other Side, a supernatural realm of evil. Rose is in between the physical/material and supernatural realms when this is happening, and no one can see this happening except the Anarths, her protectors. Although most of the chapter is very sensory engaging, here is a very short excerpt to give you an idea.

“I saw a shadow get near me. A blast of light took it out and left only a heavy smoke that seemed raggedy; the smell was the worst I had experienced. I saw the same happening all around. At one point, I wanted to vomit; I could not take the smell of putrefaction, decay, and sulfur surrounding me.”

Here is another example, same scene.

“I tried to run but I froze in place, unable to move a limb. I was cold, surrounded by a heavy mist of grayish color. A putrefaction smell made me nauseated. Figures were forming out of the mist, several of them approaching me, surrounding me in a circle, a circle of death.”

This is just a brief example of a scene in which I had to place myself next to the character (Rose) to understand her experience. As writers, we are used to hearing the phrase, “Show, don’t tell” as a magic recipe for better writing. There is some truth to it, but I think there is more to showing and not telling. There needs to be a balance between the two, and sometimes a writer needs to jump in.

MOONLIT VALLEY is available via Amazon.

The Five-Dollar Miracle – On Writing a Hymn

Writing The Five-dollar Miracle was a different and exciting experience. It presented a set of new writing challenges, and took me out of my writing mold at the time. One of the challenges was writing a church hymn and a brief sermon for one of the chapters. Having no previous experience other than my writing, it gave me the opportunity to stretch the pen and to be open to receive and let the pen flow along with inspiration.

As a writer, I am open to inspiration at any time, and to different stories, even when that means stepping out of genre and running with a different type of story. I wouldn’t like to be encapsulated in a specific genre, and I understand that goes against traditional rules. Inspiration rules my pen, not genre. I will share the hymn Miracles Abound on this post.

Miracles Abound

Miracles abound,

everywhere I see.

Angels of the Lord

casting blessings here.

Hard at work in our heart,

pouring joy and love.

God has sent His thousands,

carrying blessings from above.

THE FIVE-DOLLAR MIRACLE – The inspirational story of how a small miracle, a five-dollar miracle, changed a stranger, a pastor, a congregation, and an entire country.
Available via Amazon.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and may miracles and blessings abound in your home.

The Damsels of Cain

In The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, evil is personified via an organized well-funded group named The Damsels of Cain. The Damsels of Cain is a female-run organization spread all over the world, and its male disciples are under female leadership. Males wear a mark in the left wrist, while woman wear it in the right wrist – a black tulip inside a pentacle. Their main leader is Dana Ringold. The Damsels of Cain are led by evil. Their purpose is to recruit young females to establish as many chapters throughout the planet. They congregate in secret temples all over the world, where they initiate new members, baiting them with the allure of riches and power. Their main objective is to target influential men in various organizations (science, politics, technology …) to eventually obtain unified political power on the planet. Once they have achieve this, evil can reign on Earth.

The Blue Lily Society is the counterpart to this group. It is a society established centuries ago with the sole purpose of serving good and protect key individuals. They pose as ladies social clubs to maintain anonymity. They raised Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character, and the one who leads the decoding of a new Earth and the awakening of the Sunrise Souls. Together, and along with divine intervention, they must prevent the rise of evil.

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Isaiah 65:17

If interested, you can find The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy on Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

RAMBLINGS OF THE SPIRIT
THE BOOK OF SHARON
SUNRISE SOULS

Moonlit Valley

MOONLIT VALLEY

Moonlit Valley is the first novel I published. It is everything I did not intend to write, an omen, and it practically wrote itself. The story morphed over the intended story, leaving me no choice but to go with it wherever it wanted me to follow. Characters revealed themselves, and rebelled against my pen as well. Jeremy Sandbeck, one of the main characters practically made my life miserable. In the end, he won. I have written about his rebellion on another blog post. I thank Jeremy Sandbeck for his insistence; it taught me much along the way. Moonlit Valley gave birth to The Dinorah Chronicles, unintended.

Moonlit Valley follows the story of a couple – Jeremy Sandbeck and Rose Carrigan – who can’t be more different from each other, their losses, and their secrets, as well as their supernatural destiny. It is a paranormal romance infused with a bit of mystery and a dash of suspense.

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.

The feeling of publishing your first novel is like no other. It is an indescribable joy that stays with you no matter how many books you write and publish after it. That first published book will remain your precious child forever. Each book is different and comes with its own set of feelings and emotions; however, one always has a special appreciation for that first novel. I have written about my experience as an indie writer and my writing process in other blog posts, as well as why I chose to pursue independent publishing. Writing has been a dream fulfilled for me thanks to today’s technology, and it is the occupation that fits me well. It is the one thing that I could do forever, and forever is a long time.

All my books are found on Amazon in paperback and eBook format.

The Dinorah Chronicles – Sunrise Souls (Book 3)

SUNRISE SOULS

“As light breaks the shadows so does my light will shine upon the Sunrise Souls. They will shine their light upon this world, and my light will pour in blessings to humanity. The planet will hear of my love, and from the four corners of the world a voice will sound as thunder, announcing my kingdom, the Kingdom of Love.”

(The Dinorah Chronicles -Sunrise Souls)

Sunrise Souls is the last book in The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy. It is the conclusion and fulfilment of Dinorah Sandbeck’s birthright. This book encompasses the main story, Dinorah’s story, and fulfills books one and two. The way the trilogy is written, each book stands for itself, and one can read any book without having to read the others first. However, the main story permeates all three novels, and there is a bond that keeps the trilogy together.

Writing this last book was challenging in the sense of pulling it all together – Dinorah’s quest and her reason for being, the prophecies, as well as each character’s role individually while weaving the main story. Every character came together in purpose. I enjoyed writing this book as it was taking me along with the ending of the story. Because I prefer writing single stories more than trilogies or series, it was also a relief.

Throughout the trilogy, the characters have evolved and this is more obvious in this book. Dinorah Sandbeck has fully accepted her birthright, and in the process accepted herself; her Human and Anarth sides have finally come together. Not only is she stronger but has found her peace. Sometimes the thing that we fight the most can bring us to the peace we crave.

All my books can be found on Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

The Dinorah Chronicles – Ramblings of the Spirit (Book 1)

RAMBLINGS OF THE SPIRIT

Ramblings of the Spirit is the first book in The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy. It is the introduction of the main character, Dinorah Sandbeck, half-Human, half Anarth. It is also the door to the trilogy, presenting her origins, her life so far, her birthright, and her quest. It is set 19 years after Moonlit Valley, the novel that inspired the chronicles.

When I wrote Ramblings of the Spirit, I was not sure where I was headed with the story. I knew it was about the main character’s quest, however, there was no outline, as it is usually the case when I start a novel. This novel introduces Dinorah’s secret world, her birthright, as well as her personal battle between self, love, and duty.

When I wrote Moonlit Valley, I did not intend to spin off a trilogy from it but it happened that way. It was not planned, although it seemed a natural development once I started to write Ramblings of the Spirit. Dinorah’s first struggles with her birthright begin to be defined on this first book. It is reflected on this passage, a message for Dinorah at the time she did not understand her quest.

“Your heart is troubled, your mind seeks truth, your soul aches for it, but you are afraid to look for the answers. Why do you ask then, if you will not search deep enough for the truth to reveal itself? I give you freedom to follow your path, the path created for your soul, or to take your own road-turn. There your freedom rests, in the moment when your realize the difference and start your journey. Are you willing to sacrifice your own perception for the journey that will take you to the perfect place? Your human form limits your perception, but the soul knows the path, and you can perceive your soul’s whispering. I guide you; it is up to you to search deeper into your soul and hear the whisperings, the roadmap to your becoming. Only when you know that, will you be free, and there will be no stone in your path, or rope on your hands that will prevent your spirit from being free. Know that you, only you, can do this, and that is where freedom lives.”

Writing this novel was exciting as it was the first book in the trilogy, and I was discovering this new world along with the main character. I would be lying if I don’t admit it was thrilling, from a writer’s point of view. I admire authors who mainly write series because it is not an easy endeavor. There are many elements to consider between books – time lapse, aging and progression of characters, dropping and creation of characters, and so many other elements important for the progression of the central story which is weaved throughout the series, and of course, each book is a separate story in itself. I think a single story is easier to develop than a series.

The last book in the trilogy is called Sunrise Souls, and it is the culmination of Dinorah’s quest, and the fulfillment of it. Throughout the trilogy, Dinorah has to confront evil in its different forms, from subtle to scary. For those who might be interested, all my books are found on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats. There is a direct link on the Novels tab of this blog.