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.

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 🙂

The Miracle of Senses

The pentagram is used as a Christian symbol fo...

The pentagram is used as a Christian symbol for the five senses, and if the letters S, A, L, V, and S are inscribed in the points, it can be taken as a symbol of health (from Latin salus). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I have said before, sometimes I get so focused on a task that I forget everything around me; I block everything else, and many times I forget that I was just making pancakes for breakfast or that I had just put a load of laundry and heard the bell a minute ago.  All I can say is thank God for all my senses.  The smell of starting to toast pancakes or the too quiet house will alert me and bring me back.  The gentle nag of a cat that wants a temptation treat has brought me back from the extreme focus vortex just in time.  This brings me to the topic of appealing to reader’s senses in your writing.

Just as it is important to me to get rescued by my senses, I thought of how important sensory stimulation is on a novel or a piece of writing.  Awakening readers senses gives a new depth to your story, and may rescue some readers from boredom – boredom of too much dialog or description.  Even if you are deprived of one sense, another takes over, keener and improved.  I try to keep this is mind when writing my story, as I tend to run into too much dialog.   To me, the senses are a miracle; it is how we experience the world, and how readers can experience your story.

Sometimes, I tend to ask myself the weirdest questions, and I have asked myself if I was to be deprived of a sense or ability, which one will I give up.  I know, it may sound sinister to many, but I think about unusual things sometimes.  I would give up speech.  I don’t  talk much; I am the silent type, the observer, and I rather write than talk.  As long as I can communicate when I need to in some way, I think I would be happy.  I am a very visual person, and that would be the sense that I would miss the most, probably to the point of insanity, which brings me to this point – readers are very different in their consumption of reading material and learning, so the senses that prevail throughout your story may appeal to some readers more than to others.  My point, striving for a good balance might not be a bad idea.

Do you think about stimulating the senses when writing your story?  Which sense would you give up?  Which one would you miss the most?  If you are missing a sense, how have you improved the other senses?


Expanding Your Horizon

Rendition of Homer's view of the world (prior ...

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If you are human, you have a set of beliefs.  Those beliefs form as you grow up and are highly influenced by culture, family, country … and many other things.  In a way, you identify with those beliefs, in a way, they are you, part of you.  I know people who are so set in their beliefs that refuse to explore beyond their horizon or entertain another point of view.  These people may fear that by opening their mind to receive information that may or may not contradict their belief system, they might cheat on that same system or worst, lose themselves – I pity them.  Why?  Because opening your mind to try to understand something and exploring information does not in any way diminish what you think, or believe; on the contrary, if you truly respect your beliefs, there is no need to fear new information.  What would have happened if all the explorers and scientists of the past had not stepped one foot pass their comfort zone (beliefs) and try to expand what they already knew or believed?  You answer that question, since the answer is obvious.

I used to write for a site and the community there seemed very friendly and loved commenting on each other’s work.  There was only one thing that drove me nuts, especially when I wrote a piece of poetry.  I write about many things, true or fictional, and many times, I love to imagine things poetically.  What drove me nuts?  That most times, people thought that the piece of poetry was directly related to me, as in true life.  I was too lazy to explain that it was just a piece of writing, many times fictional.

Don’t believe everything you read or are told; expand your horizon, move one step over the flat ocean’s edge and refresh your mind and spirit.  Think for yourself, believe what you must but after you consider the opposite point of view, there is no harm in that; who knows, it may even strengthen your beliefs.  As a writer, you owe it to yourself, and your readers … believe and expand your horizon.

Day 6 – Awesome WordPress Bloggers

Writing utencils: stencils

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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.


Day 5 – Awesome WordPress Bloggers

Today’s spot belongs to Dr. Tom Bibey: Stories of the Bluegrass Music Road (Physician Bluegrass Fiction), and a very special blog it is.  Dr. Tom Bibey, a physician and a bluegrass musician, is also an indie writer.  His book The Mandolin Case came out last year in May.  Dr. Bibey (or Dr. B, as he is called by people who know him well) has a very special way to write his blog; when you read it, it feels as if he is talking to you, even if you don’t know how his voice sounds like – it is almost as if he is present in the page – and that makes for awesome blogging, in my opinion.  His blog tells his story, his work, and his passion.  I also like that the blog is easy on the eyes, well-organized and labeled – you know where everything is.

You will follow his experiences and book signings as well as southern insight, and if you love bluegrass you are in for a treat, because according to Dr. Bibey, it is the only physician bluegrass fiction blog around – so that in itself makes it very special.  If you enjoy a lighthearted and wise conversation on the page, with southern charm and great vibe, visit Dr. Tom Bibey: Stories of the Bluegrass Music Road .   Just as he calls it “Almost ‘Bout Perfect Life – find out from Dr. Bibey why is that so.  This one, in my book, is one awesome blog!

Day 3 – Awesome WordPress Bloggers

A serene landscape photography

Image via Wikipedia

Today, I dedicate this post to Picture a Poem – Connetta.  If you love poetry this is one awesome WordPress blog, as you will find it a treat.  When you visit Picture a Poem, you are welcomed with a beautiful picture and a poem that corresponds to it, so not only do you get the story visually, but in beautiful and inspiring words as well.

I love this blog because it actually stimulates my senses and serves as therapy to me – I enjoy the visual part of it, the glorious scenery and creative pictures, but I am also touched by its poetry.  Connetta’s blog relaxes me and gives me a sense of peace and delight.  Its style is refreshing, serene, and simple.  I love the way the blog is organized, the colors, graphics, and the way you navigate through it.  If you ever need to get inspired and delight your senses, head out to Conetta’s blog and you will emerge not only inspired but refreshed.

If you like poetry, you will like Picture a Poem and even if you are not a fan of poetry, you will enjoy the visual aspect and simplicity of it.  This one is a winner in my book.

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.

How Keeping a Journal Helps Me Start the Day

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

Image via Wikipedia

I used to keep daily or weekly diaries where I wrote some important events or marked things in the calendar; however it wasn’t until I read “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron that I decided to keep a daily journal.  She calls it, “the morning pages” in her book.  It is a bit different from the type of journal I used to keep before.

I keep a journal, almost everyday.  Not everyone keeps one, and the ones who do, don’t do it the same way.  Writing a journal is personal.  Since I started to write a journal before I start my workday, I have found that it helps me start the day in the right mood and in the right mode.  For me, it is more than writing events; I hardly do so.  I use my journal to clear my mind of the things that are hovering inside it and that may interfere with my day.  Many times, writing this journal takes the form of a prayer, other times written reflections, questions, and many other times, I just ponder about something that seems to be in the back of my mind.

Writing a journal before I start my day helps me approach the day in a more positive way.  For me, there are no set number of pages to write.  I write as long as it takes me to feel that my mind is ready.  Sometimes I write one page, sometimes, more than three.  It is never the same.  It may take me five minutes or twenty.  Sometimes, I may write before I go to bed if I feel that I need to organize my thoughts or if I am looking for an answer to something.  Sometimes the enlightenment comes in a dream, or as soon as I wake up; sometimes as I am writing.

Keeping a journal allows me to feel closer to my Creator, many times.  It reinforces my direction and purpose.  It has also helped me resolve past issues that have lingered in my mind,without me knowing.

How you keep a journal is up to you – what works best for you.  For me, pen and paper works best.  Maybe for you, keeping one at your PC might work better.  However, I must do it before I start my day; it grounds me.  If you feel that you don’t have the time, even gifting five or ten minutes to yourself, early in the morning will be beneficial – or before you go to bed; whatever seems to work best for you .

I discovered my biggest road block by doing this, and I even didn’t know about it.