Unsolicited Advice

The other day, I thought about how blessed we are now, at this time. Writers are able to realize their writing dreams thanks to the amazing technology available, much of it at low cost. These are blessed times for writers, whether you write via an independent publishing venue, a blog, social media, or other method. I am very grateful for this. When I was younger I wanted to publish my work independently, but it would have cost so much money, hence why many of us set the dream aside until adulthood. No other generation had the opportunity we have today. However, for me, this also presented the challenge of sorting through all the information/methods available, and keeping up with it all (an impossible task). Everyday, there is more information, technology, venues available so trying to understand it all is plain silly.

Much time went into sorting things out, especially, when the gates of publishing were opened. Reviewing my experience made me think about what advice would I offer myself back then. I thought about it and if I was to put it in once sentence it would be – Find your way. Realizing that “just because everyone is doing something one way, doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to” was not easy, especially in those early days. People tend to follow patterns/trends in new territory; it is human nature, and hence why things go viral. We are social mamals whether we realize it or not. When a new venture/technology or other, is in the early stages we tend to follow and take notes in order to learn. That is a good thing but it could also be confusing, even frustrating, more so when something that “has been proven” to work for other people does not work for you. In hindsight, my advice to myself at that time would have been to slow down and treat information as just that, not as a bible for writers or written in stone. Information serves the only purpose of presenting alternatives, being an aid in learning.

If you are just at the beginning of your writing journey, you will need to learn, and tons of information is available. It is a blessing, however, during your learning/study process you will doubt yourself when that information might not match your reality or expectations. That is all fine. Sort through it, pick up what applies to you as a writer, and keep on moving. Find and do what feels right for you. Find your way.

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.

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.