The Dinorah Chronicles – The Book of Sharon

I am very happy to announce  the release of the second book of The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy – The Book of Sharon.

It is available through Amazon and CreateSpace in paperback and Kindle edition.

By now, you already know how much I love to find theme songs/videos in YouTube for my novels and what better opportunity than this one to leave you with this awesome song by the Editors – I want a forest. The youtuber is frogfromnz.  When I heard this song, I could not think of a more perfect song for the novel. The Youtuber did a great job with the video as well, and I certainly love this song by the Editors (by now, you probably know that I love the Editors).

I hope you enjoy it, so here it is.

 

PS – Thank you to all of you who have liked and follow this blog; it means a lot. Sometimes, it may take a while for me to catch up, but I always try to do my best and visit as well 🙂

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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? 

 

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.

 

 

After the Series – What Now?

What now? or What’s next? These are questions that I will answer after I write the last book of The Dinorah Chronicles series. At the moment, I’m ready to start the third re-write of The Book of Sharon, book 2 of the trilogy. If I’m lucky, I’ll have the first draft of Sunrise Souls ready by the end of the year (9 months left). What have I learned?

Moonlit Valley inspired the writing of The Dinorah Chronicles. I never intended to write a series, but it developed as a natural process, so I let it be. I have found that writing a series gives me a bit of comfort in the sense that I am navigating known territory, as opposed to writing a new story. However, I have to admit that I enjoy the process of writing a single story more than writing a series. I never say never, but I think that in the future, I will focus on single stories rather than writing a series (unless I’m inspired otherwise). This took me to ask, What’s next? The answer is not as simple as I thought.

As an indie author, I have the flexibility to do pretty much what I desire. I don’t have contracts to fulfill, or lined up books/deadlines, or commitments abroad. The deadlines are the ones I imposed on myself. My commitment is to the story and to the reader. When I asked myself – What’s next? – I understood that many roads were right in front of me, and the one I take is not so clear yet. Why?

The writing industry changed so much in the last few years, and as an independent author, I need to balance my energy and efforts. It means that I do all the work, and any assistance hired is tied to funds available (if any). Also, it means that it does not make sense to follow trends if I don’t love the process. So naturally, my attention will hover around those projects that I am ready for and will enjoy. These days, the speed of publishing and everything else that surrounds it has multiplied, and indie authors are bombarded with many choices and possible projects that they might feel obligated to undertake to follow the developing industry and current trends – podcasts, audio book, channels, speaking/teaching engagements, the translation of their books, and many other endeavors. I admire indie authors who have the energy and focus to have many of those endeavors developing at once; I called them the Super Indies. They are an inspiration.

All the above considered, I sat down with pen and paper at hand, and thought hard about where I am on my journey, and tried to answer the question (now). I felt that my next natural step (after finishing the series)  would be to write a new single story, and focus on the Spanish translation of my first book, and possibly the series. Any other components of marketing books, gaining exposure, or other writing-related projects will be assigned secondary status (as far as focus and effort). This is a prelude, a peek, an early answer to my question, but of course, it all may change. What’s important is that I challenged myself to think about it and took a glance at the possibilities. It also helped me measure my level of readiness according to where I am on my journey. It was worth considering.

As an indie author, how do you feel about balancing current trends and your own journey?

photo by Maria Antonia Diaz

photo by Maria Antonia Diaz

 

On Faith and Writing

When I read poetry I notice one thing, the poem is sad/dark, almost as if it bleeds through the page, or on the other hand, it celebrates life, is an exaltation of nature or love, or whatever the subject seems to be, therefore transmitting a peaceful or joyful vibe through the page. It seems as if a tormented soul or a happy one wrote the lines, although that is not necessarily true.

Ernest Hemingway once said,”There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Maybe he was right, but what comes out of your veins? What do you bleed? I have found that for me, inspiration may come from nowhere, unexpected, and sometimes, it is directly influenced by my mood. I’ve noticed that when my faith dwindles, so does my writing. It is when my faith is up that I do my best writing, whether I may be going through a difficult situation or not. By faith I don’t mean religion, but my disposition to believe and trust. That said, I can predict when my motivation will suffer, and when my writing will lack. How to prevent this?

The answer is not so much to prevent, because life is full of ups and downs – it is human life’s nature. Instead, maintaining a conscious positive and high disposition (with effort and despite the circumstances) is what seems to help. I must keep up a high level of trust and frequency to support the flow of my writing, otherwise, it becomes forced, superficial, and dense. So my writing seems to be tied to my faith.

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” Ernest Hemingway

The Old Writers

While reading a 2011 Country Diary, I came across these old writing quotes, and I think they are interesting and reflect the old writing wisdom, and still applicable today. I decided to share them with you.

“Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavor, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.” – Henry Watson Fowler, The King’s English, 1908

“Dear authors! Suit your topics to your strength, and ponder well your subject and its length; or lift your load before you’re quite aware what weight your shoulder will, or will not, bear.” – George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

“Then, rising with Aurora’s light, the Muse invoked, sit down to write; Blot out, correct, insert, refine, enlarge, diminish, interline.”Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

“Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially.” Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

 

I think there is good wisdom here. I found the last line of the last one a bit funny, but certainly speaks of how protective and zealous as writers we are with our work and ideas. However, today the internet has blessed us with a way of coming together and share those ideas, ask for advice, and give to one another. I hope you enjoy these bits of old wisdom.

 

Heartless Dissection Ready

I hope I didn’t scare you with the title of this post. Almost a month has gone by since I put aside the first draft of The Book of Sharon. The time away is necessary for what comes next – a heartless dissection of it, and I’m ready.

As writers, we pour our heart and soul into our work, then the time comes to forget about it, followed by a cold stare before we are ready to slash it into pieces – heartless and purposely, not an easy thing to do but necessary. From this dismemberment a second draft is assembled. The process goes on until the story is as ready as it can be.

During this time, emotions run wild – from doubt, insecurity, uncertainty, and not wanting to let go, to perfectionism, pride, fear, doubt again, restlessness, exhilaration, incessant questioning … all of it culminating in exhaustion, and all of it necessary. Sounds painful and not too enticing, but it is what writers subject themselves to repeteadly, and beyond scrupulous consideration, and all for the love of the story.

A love affair with words, a crime of passion?

 

My next victim.

First draft of The Book of Sharon

First draft of The Book of Sharon

For Aspiring Writers

Today, I completed (finally) the Resources and Tips section on my website. This is an ongoing labor; however, it had been left as Coming Soon! for a while, and my goal was to have it ready for January. There are some good websites and recommended reading for aspiring writers. I hope it serves its purpose, and that it may be useful to someone.  Here is the link . I hope it helps a bit. I know that when I started, it took a lot of time and effort to find the best sites, as well as to separate the husk, so this is only a very small list but good for starters. I included a few websites at the end, good for exploration, inspiration, research, and learning. I will keep adding with time, as well as updating this section.