Release of Sunrise Souls

Finally! Sunrise Souls is published. It is the last book of The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy. The other books in the trilogy are Ramblings of the Spirit (Book 1) and The Book of Sharon (Book 2). The trilogy was inspired by my first novel Moonlit Valley, and is set 20 years after, which presented a challenge with Time, as far as aging and evolving certain characters without affecting the integrity of the first novel.

Sunrise Souls took a bit longer than anticipated, and I think I felt a bit more pressure because it was the last book, and what the first book set to fulfill, as far as the purpose of the protagonist – Dinorah Sandbeck – the last book had to reveal and complete. Although each book is written in a way that you don’t need to read the previous to know what is going on, each book is part of the big story – Dinorah’s purpose – and at the end, it is fulfilled. It was a challenge, but I feel that the trilogy had good closure, and I feel at peace with my protagonist.

This one is set in Rignano Garganico, Italy. Rignano Garganico is a southern little town in the Province of Foggia, Italy. It is a jewel, a little secret that sits atop a mountain, and rich in history, as it dates back to medieval times. When I imagined the setting of this book, I had in mind a picture of where I wanted Dinorah Sandbeck to be located. I knew it had to be in Italy, but preferably not near the Vatican, as this location plays a part in the story. I had a strong mental image, but had no idea where to find this place; so I armed myself with Google Earth, and asked, “If I was Dinorah Sandbeck, where would I go?” Immediately, I felt a pull to the area, and started my search nearby, and soon enough, I found myself navigating the streets of Rignano Garganico. It was a magical and serendipitous moment; it was the image I had in mind, and more. So I dedicated time to research as much as I could, although I didn’t find much information, but what I found was enough to give me a background on this enchanting place.

Here is a small excerpt from Sunrise Souls –  The southern little town in the province of Foggia sat atop a mountain, as if it was the entrance to heaven. The crisp white clouds were reminiscent of watching angels, only to be forgotten by the observer when the valleys bellow revealed a majestic panorama. At first, I was intrigued by it, but now, I was enchanted. Rignano Garganico was growing in my heart. 

There were a few times when I found many coincidental facts with my story, and I felt “at home.” This is something that I’ve heard many writers talk about, and experienced as well – the many coincidences they find when writing a story, serendipity. Throught the writing of the chronicles, I found myself smiling many times.

Here is a shot of the cover, and a bit about it. It is available via Amazon and Createspace in paperback and eBook.

sunrise soulscover2

Sunrise Souls

The Time is Now!

As the Sunrise Souls awake to embrace the decoding of a New Dawn – a new era for Earth and its inhabitants – a prophecy unveils. Dinorah Sandbeck, half-Human and half-Anarth, leads the decoding of a new Earth. As it was written, “Sunrise Souls, embrace your essence, and in doing so, fulfill the prophecy of a new dawn, the birth of a new Earth – 000.

So what now? I am happy to have done justice to my characters, and I am ready for the next novel. I don’t think that I will write another trilogy for a while; I prefer a single story, but that doesn’t mean that I am done writing trilogies or a series. I have several novels in mind, however, I will write the one that screams to be written now. This is something that I learned about myself as a writer sometime ago, and experienced more as I wrote The Dinorah Chronicles, and that is that in a way, a trilogy ties me down, and that is because I can only write one book at a time. For some reason, I cannot write multiple stories at once; it is not my writing style, and I can only eat and breathe one book at a time. I admire authors who can split their energy and inspiration into multiple stories at once.

Each book is an education in itself, and a writer always learns, experiences, and discovers new things via the story that he/she writes because it becomes a living entity that continues to evolve, even when the writer has written the last word, the end. It lives in the mind, the soul, and even the spirit of the writer, and it may stay there, or reappear years or decades after. No one knows, even the writer.

 

In Between the Lines – Good vs. Evil

The topic of Good vs. Evil fascinates me. Since I was a child, this idea has evolved being shaped by my upbringing, religion, stories that my grandmother told, urban legends, books, Hollywood movies … in short, by how my mind made sense of all this, and how it interpreted it in the material and spiritual. Although good and evil might seem as black and white, I suspect that there are many shades of gray in between, and our human nature battles in the midst, making sense of it all. If anything, we deserve credit for that. This theme is present in my novels as well.

As a species we thrive in the material contributing to the good and bad on this planet. As spiritual beings we strive to do better. Whether you believe or not in the concept of good vs. evil, of God and the Devil, yin and yang, polarities … or however you want to explain this duality or antithesis, the reality is that we all get sucked in by its allure and fascination, even if you practice atheism – engaging in a hot topic. Good vs. Evil captures the human mind since the beginning of the Homo Sapiens (wise man) or Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, if you prefer that version.

According to one of the most influential books in history, Adam and Eve were seduced by evil, and disobeyed God. But before this, Lucifer had become the devil, and taken a few fallen angels with him. Cain ( son of Adam and Eve) had a bit to do with evil as well. And this is where the concept of evil gets interesting and were shades of gray start painting shades of humanity. When we think of Cain, immediately, we process in our minds (if you know the story or read it in the Bible) that his sin was the act of killing his brother Abel. Yes this was a horrible offense, and so far the first murder in the Bible, since mankind was born. However, the book of Genesis tells a more interesting story – what happened before the murder. What was it?

This is what the book of Genesis tells us about the sin before the sin (in short). This is from the New International Version.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4: 3-7)

 

It seems that Cain got upset and jealous of Abel because God liked Abel’s offering better than his. Why this? Upon reading this passage it shows that Abel offered God the fat portions from the first-born of the flock, in other words, the best of the best. While Cain gave “some of the fruits of the soil” or in other words, a good-enough offering, but not the best of the best. And this is what God saw, and I guess that he read both brothers hearts in the offerings, and why he liked one offering better than the other.  This made Cain angry and jealous of his brother, but God, being God and all, gave him a warning of things to come, if he continued with this attitude (If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” ). This is profound. When I read this, I saw Cain’s sin issue in respect to his brother, in a new light, and it made me think of the layers of depth in the concept of good vs. evil. These few verses have so much to chew on, but it was this prelude to Cain’s sin of murder that fascinated me the most. Then, I thought – Why did Cain give a mediocre offering? What was going through his mind? It was this thinking that started it all. Then, I came up with a possible explanation. Since Cain worked the land very hard to yield some crops, must likely he knew that his goodies were hard to come by and with much effort (after all, this wasn’t Eden anymore and he had to work for it) therefore, he gave “some.” In other words, he was being stingy with the one who gave and made all – his God. Again, this is so profound because it reveals another layer. In venturing to read Cain’s thought and personality, I think that he had a trust issue. He lacked Trust. Cain was not so sure that God would provide for him, therefore, he was a bit stingy with his offering, and this was in my opinion, Cain’s first offense. He did not trust his Creator and he did not show his trust/love in his offering like Abel did. This attitude was the catalyst that opened the gates that caused Abel’s blood to flow by his hand.

Pondering the shades between Good and Evil may help us to write better and deeper characters, and to craft a story that would give the reader more layers to peel. As writers, we should not be stingy with our offering to the reader, and always try to give the best of the best, according to our ability.

 

Next In Between the Lines topic – Trust

The Blue Lily Society

I am back to posting. Thank you to all of you who visited the blog during this past weeks. I am always grateful. For today’s post, I want to feature The Blue Lily Society, a ladies club mentioned in my novels. I made the BLS up. When writing about this group, the name just came to me, and I just named it. It wasn’t until I researched the symbolism of the lily flower in many cultures throughout history that I was pleasantly surprised at how fitting the name was, and how it tied perfectly with the story. Almost eerie, because when I named the group, its purpose had not evolved in the story, and I had not researched the various meanings of the lily flower.

Depending on the culture, the meaning varies, but overall, it alludes to spirituality and the love of God or the sacred. In christianity, it is tied to the Virgin Mary, and many other saints and angels (Gabriel). Therefore, what seemed to me a lovely name for this ladies club, ended up having a strong symbolism throughout the story, and not planned, at least by the conscious mind.

Although I don’t think that there are blue lilies in nature, except for the blue Calla Lily and the Lotus also called Blue Lily or Sacred Lily, the general meaning applies to these, even in Greek mythology referring to the White Madonna Lily that sprouted from the milk of Hera. Hera was the Queen of the Gods. In Christianity, Virgin Mary would be the Madonna. In other ancient cultures, it is associated with deity, purity, the soul, and other meanings. Today, depending on the color, the lily flower represents friendship, purity, prosperity, wealth, devotion, humility …

A few weeks ago, I came across a piece of vintage jewelry that immediately reminded me of The Blue Lily Society in my novels. It is a vintage brooch from France. As soon as I saw it I thought, “this would be something the ladies of The Blue Lily Society would wear at their meetings. I ended up buying it as inspiration for my novels. Here is a picture of the brooch.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

The color blue, the shield, the cross, and the Lily flower relate to the Blue Lily Society in my novels. How awesome and serendipitous is that?

 

In Between the Lines – Destiny

Destiny is a very strong theme in my novels, in many levels, earth-bound, personal to the characters, and even as spiritual duty. Destiny is a word that we use in casual conversation; many times, whether we believe in destiny as a preordained course of events or fate, or not. If we don’t believe in the strict definition of destiny or in predestination, we may tend to believe in purpose, and seek the purpose of our lives, “that thing” that we were born to do here on Earth. Purpose is a more digestible word for many. As humans, we crave meaning, and we tend to attach meaning to things/life/events and that meaning is given a layer of sentiment and feeling. It is our nature, whether we tend to analyze these things with our brain or not, we end up doing it. In short, we need a reason to wake up in the morning and keep going; we need purpose. If we don’t have it, we search for it, a lifetime, if necessary. If we never find it, in our deathbed we might say that we missed our purpose in life. Many turn to depression and wither away because they don’t find purpose in their lives. Tragic.

Destiny or purpose – that thing that you must do before you leave Earth – may or not, prevent you from living your life in the now, depending on how you approach its meaning. I think that if we live in the now and are grateful for the moment, while listening to it, our purpose becomes inevitable and unavoidable. It stops being in the future, distant (by our perception) and weaves itself in our daily lives, moment by moment. Somehow, balance is restored between the material being and the spiritual being that is us, and with nature and everything that surrounds us – we become one with the universe, with all that is, whether you call it God, the Universe, or Science. Is there purpose or destiny in that? Maybe or maybe not, or maybe it is intelligent design, or the way that was meant to be? Maybe it is us, our own nature and the nature of things, of it all. Who knows, and will we figure it out? Does it matter that much? It seems to matter; otherwise, we wouldn’t be searching eternally. Without it we feel as feathers floating in the wind, aimlessly, and taken away by life’s current, and without meaningful act. However, we forget that life in itself is purpose.

Photo by MAD

Photo by MAD

 

Note – I will be away from this blog for a week – see you soon 🙂

 

 

 

A Happy Coincidence

Sometimes, writing takes life on its own. With my first novel, Moonlit Valley, I felt as if the story wrote itself. The characters presented themselves, and I dare to say, named themselves. The writing process is different for everyone, and I have to say that I enjoyed the writing of that first novel; it was an adventure. After a while, I went back and looked at it with different eyes. I found symbolism in it, and a happy coincidence with some of the character’s names. When I looked at the common meaning of their names, what I found intrigued me and excited me. The meaning match the character in an almost eerie coincidence; it is how I imagined them. Here are a few of the names. If you read Moonlit Valley, you will understand what I mean.

  • Jeremy = God will uplift
  • Rose = Flower
  • Cole Angelou = Victorious + Angel
  • Lara = Cheerful
  • Hael = Immense/living in hall
  • Dinorah = Judgement
  • Leah = Weary
  • Olga = Holy
  • Anne = Gracious
  • Maurice = Dark skinned (I imagined this character tall and dark)
  • Jake = Pale/supplanter
  • Robert (town’s mayor) = Famous (of importance)

I found very amusing the coincidence of the meaning matching the characters and my idea of them. After all, writing is a very profound and spiritual endeavor, an act of letting go, of listening, and of invention and communion between writer and characters/story.

moonlit-valley-coverfrontnew.jpg

 

Change is Transformation

Yesterday, I was thinking about all the themes in Moonlit Valley, my first novel. Throughout, I could identify many underlying topics such as love, trust, spirituality, the paranormal … and many others; however, I wanted to identify a core theme, and I think that if I was going to select only one theme, it would have to be the idea of Change.

In Moonlit Valley, the idea of change carries all the other themes, and it makes itself present throughout the entire story, up to the ending.  Change is never easy. It may be good or bad, but never easy. Why? Because it shakes our foundation, causing us to react, and pushes us forward. Even when we resist change, we have to react to it – whether for better or worse.

When change manifests (or we bring it about), inevitably, we become engaged in body, mind, and spirit, as well as emotionally. Our reaction and action will engage those aspects in different degrees, and how we deal with each part, will propel or slow us down.  Many times, we “hover” but not necessarily resist change; sometimes, hovering is what we need – a truce – to be able to proceed with the proper action for us.  Whether that time is short or long does not matter, as long as we recognize the need for it. It is after the truce, that transformation occurs.

Because change is never easy, we should prepare our mind, body, and spirit for it and through it. We do that by minding each aspect, and doing what is needed to promote its wellness, as an example, you would nourish your body by eating well, healthy foods, and exercising it, and avoiding unnecessary stress situations, patterns, or habits. Nourishing the mind and spirit as well, will ease transformation. Many times, change brings with it a sense of spirituality or spiritual transformation, of growth and connection. How we deal with change, during the transformation, will determine our growth, or stagnation – but it is always up to us. We are in control of our emotions.

I leave you with a small excerpt from Moonlit Valley.

“Loss changes your perception of things. It sweeps the hallways of your mind and dusts off your most precious memories. It forces you to open the doors of rooms closed for a long time and peer into your soul, looking for the last ray of hope, of faith. The hope you desperately need now, knowing that at one point, you had put it somewhere and forgotten about it. When you find it, you grab a hold of it, tight, fearing that when you wake up tomorrow, it could be gone. Tomorrow arrives and you realize that although in a faint state, it is still there, and you hold on to it again.” – Rose Carrigan 

MOONLIT VALLEY

MOONLIT VALLEY

A Writer’s Path – Twists and Turns Along the Way

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

A writer’s path is a long and quiet (I don’t like the word lonely or solitary) journey. There are long hours of creativity, learning, research, and more learning (especially new technology and tricks of the trade for indie authors). As if all of this is not challenging enough, there is the other part – the part when you are figuring out your writing-self, style, and if you are really cut out for all this. Passion is great, as is love for the craft; however, in these fast times, it might not come as a surprise that you will question your path, from time to time. You may have answered the why, the what, are figuring the how, and might have no clue about the when or where, depending on your goals and planning. Sometimes, the path less traveled seems to be the one that has all the thorns, the most challenging, and the less fast-rewarding. It may take you through twist and turns, up, down, and around, and leave you breathless. However breathless, more knowledgeable for walking the path, stronger for stepping on thorns, and satisfied, bled out but satisfied, even when there are no miraculous clues or tangible gratification for your efforts. What you do next, makes all the difference, and I will leave the next sentence to you -____________________________________fill the blank. It is your journey, and you decide.

I leave you with a small excerpt from Moonlit Valley.

“Loss changes your perception of things. It sweeps the hallways of your mind and dusts off your most precious memories. It forces you to open the doors of rooms closed for a long time and peer into your soul, looking for the last ray of hope, of faith. The hope you desperately need now, knowing that at one point, you had put it somewhere and forgotten about it. When you find it, you grab a hold of it, tight, fearing that when you wake up tomorrow, it could be gone. Tomorrow arrives and you realize that although in a faint state, it is still there, and you hold on to it again.” 

Moonlit Valley Trivia

Vintage Shirley Temple Doll - photo by M.A.D.

Vintage Shirley Temple Doll – photo by M.A.D.

Ever wondered what makes writers tick? That is a question with as many answers as there are writers. Well, the doll in the picture, a vintage Shirley Temple doll is featured in Moonlit Valley, in chapter The Key. The doll holds a secret, and this is the first piece of trivia – what is the secret?

If you read Moonlit Valley, and would like to get a free paperback copy for you or a friend, you can play along and answer the following trivia questions.  The first person to email me with the correct answers wins the copy.  You can email your answers to piny@theowlbookandcandle.com .

Here are the questions. Please, if you are playing along, answer them in the email, not here, just to avoid spoilers 🙂 Thanks. Contest ends on July 31st (2013) or when there is a winner (whatever comes first).

  1. What is the secret/clue inside the doll?
  2. What is Rose and Jeremy’s street address?
  3. How many steps to the library?
  4. What is the library’s street address?
  5. What is the name of the funeral parlor?
  6. What is the name of the Lake?
  7. What is the name of Dr. Angelou’s receptionist?
  8. What is the name of the egg market/store near Rose and Jeremy’s home?
  9. What is Olga Gartier’s ladies club/society called?
  10. Name the paintings at the library.

There you have it, the 10 trivia questions to win a copy of Moonlit Valley.  The first reader to email me with the correct answers gets it 🙂 Good luck and have fun playing!

Dichotomy: Learning and Doing

Learning and doing are two different animals as far as I am concerned, that is, when I think about my writing journey.  We all start with that yearning and passion for writing, followed by another desire – publishing our works.  You set sail to learn as much as you can about the craft; and if you are like me, you spend years learning the path.  This is when it gets interesting, at least for me.

I learned much before deciding to publish my novels; however, I have to admit that I did not do as I learned.  Much of what I read was tailored to traditional publishing.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years that self publishing became a more acceptable vehicle for writers.  England still struggles a bit with the concept, for what I have read, not as welcoming as the USA; however, getting better.  When I was thinking about publishing my work, what I was learning seemed to go against my grain; however, I kept learning and informing myself as much as I could – learning the entire process, and writing, until I got to the point that I was ready to decide, I mean, ready to send that first query, that first manuscript, which somehow, did not feel right to me.  So I sent one query, and it wasn’t until I physically did it, that I realized that I did not want to take that path.  At least, now I was going somewhere, although I was glad for the time spent learning.  Soon, I realized that I was yearning for the Indie lifestyle, to self-publish and be there (participant) the entire process, responsible for every bit of it – despite the immense task that it presented.  I realized that I wanted to become an indie author.  I set sails again, learning as much as I could about the process.  In my heart, I knew that it was the path I wanted to take; however, the self-publishing frenzy that was going on, added to the still negative talk about self-publishing, kept me waiting, unable to dive into it.

I learned the process, but I was unable to dive into the vast sea.  I questioned my indecision – it wasn’t until I understood my fear of being branded as an indie, of becoming an abomination, a heretic in the publishing arena, even when I knew that it was the right match for my working style, my ethics, and my personality.  For some reason, the information that I had consumed earlier, had led me to believe that once I became an indie author, there was not going back – the damage was done, permanently.  How had I become to believe such absurd idea?  Understanding where my worry originated made it easy to take the plunge, and so I did.  This year I published Moonlit Valley and Ramblings of the Spirit (book 1 of The Dinorah Chronicles), which are available via Amazon.  By the end of this year I expect to publish The Book of Sharon (book 2 in the chronicles).  Once I decided to become what my heart was telling me, the rest was easy.

I had entered the indie world, lonely at times, however exciting and challenging.  I branded myself as such, and after learning about many indie authors who have gone back to publishing the traditional way (offered contracts) or traditionally published authors who have become indie authors (setting themselves free), I realized that what you learn and what you do sometimes becomes a dichotomy, for whatever reasons. To each, its own.

Now, what about heavy promoting and marketing? The learning continues, and so the doing, which seems to differ, once more.  Although, I will do some promoting and marketing of my novels, I won’t fully dive deep until I feel that I have at least 5-7 novels under my belt.  There is a reason for it, and it does not translate in total disregard of my work or marketing it. Instead, it responds to my desire of building a brand, developing it, and tie everything together.  To me, it seems easier to heavily market your work when there is more of it, exposed, than to do it when there is only a few (1-2) samples out.  It makes sense to me.  I rather use that energy (because believe me, promo/marketing requires tons of work, effort, and commitment) to write more novels, build my brand, so later I can dedicate the right time to it, despite the fact that the information I consume tells me that you have to market your novels before releasing them, but I am talking here about a more in-depth marketing, which will require more of my time and commitment as well as a more detailed business/marketing plan.

I have set a goal of reaching my magic number in the next two and a half years. I will be working hard to reach that number.  In the mean time, the learning, the writing, building a brand, and the creation of a marketing plan continues.  I will blog about this topic in future posts.

English: illustration from Leech's comic latin...

English: illustration from Leech’s comic latin grammar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taken Over – The Book of Sharon

As I might have mentioned before, now I am writing Book 2 of The Dinorah Chronicles – The Book of Sharon.  I have to say that the approach to this book has taken me on a different journey, one that I did not plan but simply followed.  Most of the time I don’t follow an outline, if an outline happens, it does while I am writing and for “memory” reasons, so I don’t forget and keep things in perspective, and don’t forget important issues that should be resolved throughout the novel.  Must likely, I don’t necessarily know how the story is going to end, although I may have a faint idea.  Sometimes, I think of something but it happens that a character has a better idea, and I follow – I let go.  Must of the time, I find that this approach lets everything fall into place and all ties come together in the end.  This is what happened with Ramblings of the Spirit (Book 1) – it set the path for The Book of Sharon.

This presents a challenge for me, as I am writing the story that I want to write, however this time, the story contains the book of the main character, which is also the contents of an ancient book.  It is a book inside a book inside a book – I hope you understood that.  It is a more complicated way of writing but I am up to the challenge thanks to Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character.  Of course, I am excited about writing it, but also on beating the deadline of publishing before the end of the year, and ideally, by the end of summer/beginning of fall.  It is a tight deadline, thanks to Dinorah Sandbeck.  This of course, presents another challenge, not only will I have to write in my voice, but in Dinorah’s writing voice, and in the ancient tome’s style as well.  No wonder why I have gone through so many cups of coffee during the day.  I am honestly feeling the pressure from these two characters – yes, the ancient tome became a character in Ramblings of the Spirit, although it was introduced in Moonlit Valley – my first novel and the story who gave birth to The Dinorah Chronicles.

So this is what is going on with the second book in The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, and this is why you see the counter at the upper right corner of this blog, as a constant reminder of the contract that I have with my characters, with the readers, and with myself.  I have worked on the design of the cover as well, although it is not ready yet.

If you are unfamiliar with Moonlit Valley and Ramblings of the Spirit, these are available through Amazon, and you can even preview a bit.  I am also doing a promotion this month for a free kindle download of Ramblings of the Spirit.  And if you want the chance of winning a free paperback of Ramblings of the Spirit, you can like my Facebook page by clicking the button at the right on this page.  You will be entered for a chance to win one of three copies.  The winners will be announced on May 20th.

Since time is ticking and I am not even halfway my story, or Dinorah’s, or the Tome’s, I will try to limit blog posts to two or three a week, most likely two, at least until I have a handle on the first and second drafts.  For the next few months I will be immersed in this novel, much so as a monk writing a doomsday book.  It will be an interesting journey.

Writing the Domesday Book

Writing the Domesday Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)