In Retrospect

As the end of the year approaches it is natural to look back and contemplate all the things that we could have done better, and those that were accomplished, but usually, as human nature dictates, we focus on the first. As writers, many times we are hard on ourselves for not producing more, faster, even when we have dedicated an entire year to the craft. It is as if madness had taken over our souls, that is, the madness of the pen, and for a while the only thing that may count, absorbing all our energy and persona. Is it madness of the soul or of the mind? Maybe a bit of both, maybe none. Maybe of the heart. And we dare to follow our heart where it will take us because we are writers, and mad at it.

Well, for me this year has been a bit of a surprise in many areas but one thing that is a constant is my love for the story. I am still working on trying to meet the deadline for Sunrise Souls, however insane that may seem.

One thing I learned over the past year is that inspiration listens to mood, and mood to no one, however I control my mood – allow the mood in understanding – to regain inspiration. Many times, we take inspiration for granted, and it lets us know that it lives in us but we must give it life. It doesn’t flutter around like the Muse we call it, or resides outside ourselves, in another realm – no, it is a part of us, one that is to be summoned by will and faith, and even by desire, one that must be respected and encouraged, and dignify. When we respect ourselves, our work, our surroundings, we are summoning inspiration, our Muse of all sorts, and with it Creativity and audacity. Writing is not for the faint of heart or spirit; in it many souls have gone mad or desolate, but also in it others have grown wings to other realities, paths to other worlds, the solace of the word, inkblood to the soul, inkspear to the heart, and freedom to the mind, but overall essence of the soul.

I will continue to try to meet my goal this year, and await the next with joyful anticipation of good things to come, although these have always been in the now. I wish you all a happy and healthy Holiday Season, and beyond, and a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. May you inspire this new year.

Love,

Inkspeare

In Between the Lines – Betrayal

Betrayal – I don’t like to hear or even say the word. It is sour, pungent, and yes, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and soul. If you have ever been betrayed and never saw it coming, then you know what I mean. Unsuspected betrayal is one of the hardest things to forget and forgive.

Betrayal is present as a secondary theme in one of my novels – Ramblings of the Spirit (The Dinorah Chronicles). What intrigues me about betrayal is that it comes in many degrees, however, leaving the same feeling, and contributing to an array of other feelings/emotions that attach to it – distrust, anger, pain, desire for revenge, disappointment … all far away from our true nature of loving beings. What makes us depart from that nature? Different paths for different people on different journeys crossing paths in one big journey.

Betrayal is defined mainly as treason, as committing an act against … . In movies, and stories of all kind, the heroes are the good guys/girls, but most times they are betrayed. Yes, “good guys/girls” sometimes finish last (a temporary illusion). It is not the goodness in the hero that makes him/her so, but the way he/she bounces back and deals with the emotions/feelings that are packaged in with the betrayal. How we react after we open the package makes all the difference. Do we let it make us less than heroes or do we go through mourning of the self in an array of emotions (because we are human and not super-human) and decide who we want to be? Do we want to honor our loving essence or ignore it? It is a process, not an easy one, but eventually, the hero will rise, that is, if you let it.

Back on the Saddle and the Need for a Blank Slate

Sometimes, when you come to a halt, being that a physical, material, emotional, psychological, or spiritual pause, the need to start fresh arises. After change, a rock on your boat, or any kind of disturbance, there is that silent pause, a very personal and intimate moment that only I recognize, and the prelude to what comes next in action. It is not so much the defining moment but the silent moment that makes the next one possible – whatever I may or may not decide – choose – act. It may be a source for strength or not, because it depends on how I embrace change, view it, and the emotions/feelings that I associate or attach to it. From that silent moment on, I either get back on the saddle (even in the midst of change) or not.

It is at that moment of truth that the need for a blank slate presents itself, summoned by vision and attitude, faith and determination. Back on the saddle again, I resolve to start on a blank slate, or a new page. One thing I know for sure is to change the ink, to not write in old ink on the pages of the new journal of life. A blank slate is a wonderful start, even if it may not look it right away. Vision becomes clearer as the writing starts once more.

We are writers of our lives. Sometimes we write to slow, too fast, or scribble; other times, we run out of ink in the middle of a page – an important page many times – and we pause, refill, and continue writing the great novel of our lives, which is eternal.

 

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 🙂

 

 

 

In Between the Lines – Duty

Duty – An act or a course of action that one should or must do. A moral obligation. A task assigned to or demanded of one. – American Heritage Dictionary

 

Duty is another main theme in my novels. Ramblings of the Spirit may be summarized (thematic) with this line – When destiny must fight to meet love, duty stands in the way.

As the above definition suggests, many times our duty goes beyond a task that is demanded of us, crossing into moral territory, and guided by the weight of our beliefs. It transcends the material into the spiritual, and it is then, when duty is bound by the material but being called into action by a higher or spiritual belief or value system that conflict is born. What a person (or a character) does to solve this internal conflict and find balance (or not) determines not only the course of action, but future events. It is then that true heroes emerge, and the embodiment of duty becomes reality.

Many times, duty and sacrifice go hand in hand; other times, duty goes beyond sacrifice, reaching the realms of an ideal that becomes more important than the sacrifice itself. The sacrifice becomes a vessel, a vehicle to fulfill duty. Understanding how our mind works through these scenarios, while relating it to the material and spiritual perspectives, will help us create more complex characters that become more real and human as the story progresses.

In short, we might have never been in the character’s shoes, but that does not prevent us as writers, to embrace the character’s psyche or transcend into their spiritual realm/value system. As writers, it is our duty.

 

 

 

In Between the Lines

Photo of vintage jewelry box by M.A.D.

Photo of vintage jewelry box by M.A.D.

 

How many themes can you identify in your novels? I asked myself that question, and decided to start a series of posts, each one about a primary or secondary theme that I have identified as predominant in my novels. I will start with a primary theme – Love.

Throughout all my novels, Love seems to permeate the lines, whether it is romantic love, parental love, love of God, love of a friend … however, it seems to be linked to duty, almost in a duty vs. love or love vs. duty way. To complicate things more, Destiny is mixed in between those two. Now, why is that? I am not going to analyze my author’s psyche in this post; however, I will write about Love.

The topic of Love puzzles me. Why do we love? How far will we go for love? What would I do or not do out of love? What changes the love I feel for someone into something else, or is it that love leaves the heart and another feeling takes its place? Is love circumstantial or unchangeable? Why everything seems to hover or spin around love? Why loving seems so easy or so hard at times? What is the ultimate definition of love, and according to what or whom? – and so many other questions that make Love something to ponder seriously. I even started a one year study about Love in 2009, but got distracted, and restarted it on 2013 and got distracted again, and I hope that I get to finish it sometime.

The more I ponder, the more I realize how powerful this feeling is, and how it is capable of altering reality. It is also complicated, maybe because humanity makes it so. Take as an example the mother or father who gives her/his life to save a drowning son or even the stranger that does the same. Heroic acts of love. But also, take as an example the woman who murders her ex-lover claiming that she did it out of love, because love hurt so much – a crime of passion. One can argue that true love does not hurt another being, but in the mind of that woman, does she know the difference between the love she felt for her man when they were together and the love she still feels now that they are apart? How does the mind process this Love, or is it processing the pain of loving? Is love a feeling or a chemical/nerve reaction in the brain? We say we feel love in our hearts, but are we able to isolate the area in the brain? Certainly food for thought.

And I could probably write thousands of words about this topic, and never fully understand the true power of Love, and that is not even adding the spiritual side of Love to this post – God’s love. For now, I am happy to let you ponder about it. Feel free to comment.

 

 

Tools of the Trade

I just glanced at the right corner of this blog, and the realization that I have roughly 8 months to write my next novel, Sunrise Souls, hit me. Where did time go? My goal is to write the first draft by December 31st. So far, I have just a few ideas fluttering in my head, and nothing in writing – should I panic?

There is an issue, a challenge, with Sunrise Souls, and that is that part of it, will take place in Rome, Italy. The issue? I have never been to Rome nor will I be able to take a trip there soon. As you can see, this story will take a bit of research time, via internet, and using a blessing of a tool for writers – Google Earth. Yes, lots of Google Earth time. I will have to make the best use of it, as needed, to be able to convey a measure of credibility to the story, even that it is a work of fiction. Aside from that, it will be up to my imagination and inspiration – and the clock keeps ticking.

I am not crazy about outlines, but I think that for this one, most likely, I will have to put something together, a short one, just to create a bit of structure to facilitate the flow of ideas. I think that I will do most of my research at the beginning, and that will help create the right atmosphere for inspiration, and will help situate my mood and mind. Later on, I will research as needed, depending where the story leads. I am excited about this challenge.

We are living in exciting times for writers; the internet opened many opportunities for research, as well as making the task easier. Imagine the same challenge in the old days, when there was no internet or tools like Google, YouTube …

Feel free to share your research ideas and tips.

Novel or Novella?

I have been immersed in the editing process of The Book of Sharon for the past couple of months. I have changed, cut, rewrite, added, pondered, ignored, and have been guilty of neglecting this blog a bit (mea culpa). In the process, I reviewed my writing habits, and what is truly important to me as a writer. I found that I needed to eliminate a few things, and strengthen others, so I could use my writing time more efficiently – in short, editing leaked from the story to my life.

I discovered that I need to tend a bit more to my author website, as well as this blog (the venues I love most), but I also discovered that I do not want to Tweet, but will continue to enjoy meeting people on Facebook, so I closed my Tweeter account. I thought about other issues that were clogging my brain, such as joining Goodreads, Shelfari, and other sites that I have pondered about too much for too long, and concluded that I don’t want to join now, despite all the advice I’ve heard for indie authors to join as many venues and be everywhere to gain exposure. I felt that I needed to get back in touch with the writer in me, and keep up the activities that I enjoy most while ignoring every sound advice out there for indie authors. At one point, it seemed overwhelming. I discovered that the only few venues I wanted to keep up at this time were Inkspeare, my website, and Facebook. I decided to offer my books through Amazon/Createspace only at this time. And while that may seem extreme, it is what I need to do to get in touch with the writer again. Finally, I gave  myself permission to accept that I do not have to follow all the trends, and understand that it is okay (however it plays out). I’d rather do more of the few activities I love, than do less in tons of other venues/activities, so I adjusted my focus.

After I sorted all this out and emptied my scattered brain, I realized that I had to make a decision about The Book of Sharon, and that is to publish it as a novella, which suited best the story, and not follow the earlier pattern of my other books, which are novels. I listened to my gut, and decided to make it a novella. It will be available through Amazon and Createspace in a few days. In the meantime, I will give you a peak at the cover.

 

THE BOOK OF SHARON

THE BOOK OF SHARON

Dinorah Sandbeck, half-Human/half-Anarth, has been chosen to deliver a message, one entrusted to her by birthright. However, she must not reveal her Anarth ancestry. The pages contained in the ancient tome may alter the path of the human race.

 

The Book of Sharon follows a different style from the other two novels, and it was a bit of a challenge to write because it included Dinorah Sandbeck’s (main character and a writer/librarian) book, as well as pages from her old tome – an ancient book that guides her and that she must protect, but those had to be weaved in the story – the story I wrote. So there are three main components to this book, as well as three voices throughout – Dinorah’s, the ancient tome, and me. Think of it as a book inside a book inside a book. To help the flow of it, as well as the tone, I felt that making it a novella suited best the style. I am happy with the decision.

Food for thought – As an independent author, how do you cope with all the advice offered and the new trends developing? 

 

Discovering Themes in Your Novels – A Healing Process

I remember watching best-selling author Kate DiCamillo on an interview on YouTube, and something she said stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact words but it was about how sometimes in a more personal level, a novel is a healing process for the writer. At first glance, it may seem as a regular story but later, there might be symbolism in it that only the author will understand and recognize as personal issues that in a way, are healing/addressed through the story, whether past or present issues.

I thought about my novels and went in search of a deeper understanding. At first glance, the stories appear as pure creativity, and unrelated – just an inspired story. However, once I got beyond the written lines, a whole world of symbolism appeared in front of me. I understood what DiCamillo meant. I discovered healing through those pages, and much more. There was a part of me inside the story that only I could understand, and totally oblivious/secret to a reader. I am not saying that every novel I (or you) write will have encrypted meaning and be a healing vessel, but it is possible that somewhere along the line, it may happen. The mind is amazing and it finds a way.

If you are a writer, go back to one of your early stories and look at it beyond the written lines, go on a discovery mission, and pay attention at what comes to mind. It may surprise you and delight you as well. We write for ourselves as much as we write for the readers.

Time Lapse in Writing

Time is one of the trickiest subjects when writing a story. Not only does your world has to be convincing enough when writing fiction, the pass of time is something to keep in mind throughout the story. Depending on your story, you will have to keep track of the days that had gone by naturally, as the characters go about their lives – days, years, age, technology changes … It doesn’t matter if you are writing historical fiction or a modern romance, the pass of time is something to be aware of and keep track. If the protagonist went to work on Monday, and went to sleep that same day, but was meeting with someone on Wednesday, it would be unnatural to wake her up and take her to meet that person – where did Tuesday go? Another example is aging characters appropriately if the story demands it, as well as characters dealing with issues that are age related. In a series, time becomes tricky, and something to watch out for, as in the case of many years going by in the story, from the first book to the second book. You will have to age characters, but also technology in many cases. In addition, some people might not be able to come back because naturally they would be dead. I will use one of my novels as an example, and something I caught “on time” when writing it. It had to do with the pass of time – more than 20 years – and the mention of an aged character in the second book. In the first book, the character retained the title of Mayor, and referred to as Mayor Degan many times. In the second book, I caught myself referring to him as Mayor Degan, when he was at least 20 years older (no problem there, he was aged appropriately), however impossible to be retaining the title for that long. In my mind, the writer’s mind, he was still Mayor Degan, however I had to call him now by his name – Blake Degan. He was not even a character that interacted much throughout the story, but was a necessary one. Time affected even this character.

Supernatural characters might be able to play with time, but it still has to be mentioned in some way, as part of their condition, otherwise it might confuse the reader. Maybe they don’t age, or they can make themselves age according to time … somehow, the writer has to make this known to the reader.

Technology is another issue, not only in the topic of time, but on location as well. As an example, if internet connection is being used as part of the story, it is obvious that the internet speed is different in New York City than in a remote country location. These small details might not seem important, but they are.

The phrase “Time will tell” comes to mind.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.