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

Indie Resources

Since I took the path of becoming an indie author, a priority has been to learn more of the evolving and growing movement. From time to time, I come across material that in my opinion, every independent author should read, as it may be very beneficial. I came across two important books that I am reading now, and a third that I am planning to read next. I could not pass on the opportunity to mention them here, hoping that any indie authors out there that need this information will benefit. These have been written by people who have walk the path and done the job, as well as independent authors, entrepreneurs. Here they are,

  • Business for Authors – How to be an author entrepreneur – Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is a very successful independent author and entrepreneur, and one of the leading figures of the movement.

A book about the subject of intellectual property,

  • How to Use Eye-catching Images Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer – Helen Sedwick

Helen Sedwick is a California attorney and independent author who represents small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Another book by Helen Sedwick on my “to own” list is Self-publishers Legal Handbook. 

If you have embraced becoming an indie author for the long run, I advice you to start your own learning library, as I am doing. The more you know the better, and knowledge will enhance your journey, and hopefully, will make it fruitful.

 

Heresy – A Writer’s Trial

Poetry comes to me at odd moments. I wrote this poem  when I opened my eyes Saturday morning. I keep pen and paper next to me for moments like this. Don’t ask, I have no idea.

 

Heresy – A Writer’s Trial

 

Typo, here on the white page

Reader bewitched, writer cursed

The execution begins.

 

Beheaded, hanged, flagellation of the pen,

Blood cleansed, Ink purification.

Punishment, stones casted.

 

Writer’s heresy exposed

Excommunicated from the page

Sins atoned.

 

Book, Bell, and Candle,

Reader’s assembly, Typo exposed

Writer is hanged on the page,

Ink turns to blood.

 

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

In Between the Lines – Sacrifice

When looking at several definitions of Sacrifice, a few words and phrases stand out – offering, relinquish, forfeiture, loss, and to sell or give away. Those are not attractive words/phrases. If one were to think of Sacrifice on those terms only, it would definitely not happen (maybe the offering part seems to be the only part with a positive vibe).

Sacrifice is a main theme on my novels. However, it is presented tied to Love and Duty. When we think of Sacrifice as part of those, somehow, the meaning of the above mentioned words/phrases take a different tone. For Love and Duty of the deepest and highest kind, we offer, relinquish, forfeit, lose, and give away anything and everything. Sacrifice becomes an act of Love, of Duty, and suddenly it becomes a form of exaltation, a high state of being, and instead, a great offering – giving instead of lack of, or losing something. It changes the meaning. This is why Sacrifice is bound to happen.

Food for thought – If you experienced Sacrifice, in what light did you view it, and how it affected your state of being? Think of the Why.

Life Mapping

If you are a goal-setter you might like the idea of life-mapping. Life-mapping can be done in many ways. It represents the big picture of your many goals and dreams and what you would like to carry out in the long run. It is a healthy exercise as long as you use it as an inspiration to enrich your life, and it does not become an obsession, meaning that one might focus on it solely and not live fully because things are not happening the way one intended them to happen. Many times, especially if you believe in Divine intervention, things might not work out the way we want or plan, but in the end, it was all for a greater good – a better ending.

I have practiced life-mapping for some time. I have used time lines, picture boards, and even a treasure map style to highlight long-term dreams and goals. One thing I can say is that a lot works out as planned, but many other things do not, despite putting the work and walking the path. However, I still like the idea of life-mapping and practice it to keep me inspired and on track. Right now, I am using a different style that I thought about, and is easy to post anywhere and is more portable than a picture board. You can carry it on your planner, and it gives you an overall glance of your dreams and goals. I believe that you are never too old to do life-mapping. It is never too late to enrich your life and enjoy it more, so in my eyes, this practice stops at your death-bed.

The idea was inspired by my icon to-do-list. It is life-mapping by using icons that represent what you want, and you can do this as a time-line or as a step by step map to guide you. Here is the life-map I came up with, and I can share it here because the icons mean something to me, and not necessarily mean anything to anyone else, so in a way it is still somewhat private. A picture or an icon can have as many meanings as you give it. The meaning is up to you. This life-map was done using Microsoft Publisher. I started using footprints and changed to cat prints because after all, our family includes 6 cats, so they are in the journey as well. In addition, I left empty fields at the end to fill as needed, and these are represented by a potted plant with an interrogation sign. I used two pages for mine, but you can make your icons smaller and fit them on one page, or use as many pages as you would like. You can also use only a few icons to represent the important points only, and not necessarily every detail. It is a good idea for visual people. You may also do it in 3-5-10 … year increments or overall. Other ideas include drawing your icons if you are artistic, or painting them. In addition, if you want to make it more detailed you can dedicate a journal or planner just for life-mapping. Mine is just a more general approach. Life-mapping is ever changing, but it serves as visual inspiration, and it can be adjusted as necessary.

Life-Mapping

Life-Mapping

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I hope you enjoy this idea.

 

 

 

Making Sense of the Indie Movement

We are living in exciting times for independent writers, musicians, artists … and it is so thanks to the technological developments and new venues of communication. Therefore, the independent (indie) movement was bound to gain new heights. I say new heights because indies have been around for long. It is because these changes and ease of publishing (almost at no upfront cost) that the indie movement flourished the way it has, and will continue. The publishing industry has been jolted, and this is just the early stages. It is not clear what will happen next, but for now, the doors are open and independent writers may share their work openly and become as creative as they dare. Daring times!

However, every time there is a revolution, people tend to make sense of the process, share experiences, groups are born, and in the hopes of giving cohesiveness to the experience, sets of rules appear, “ways of doing things the new way,” and leaders, preachers, and experts emerge. It is all a normal process and it is meant to grow and move along the revolution. However, as indies we should beware of a tendency – that the revolution does not morph into tradition, rendering the movement powerless. This is where our responsibility as independent writers stands. Each one of us must learn, consume, and study the movement, the fruits of it, to decide our role in it. Just because trends show up does not mean that it is a “one size fits all” kind of deal. On the contrary, it is the opposite to the indie movement.

To an aspiring writer who wants to publish independently, it is like a huge treasure box full of many tools, advice, do’s and don’ts, experiences … but it is also very confusing, and if the person does not continue to educate herself/himself and becomes a follower, it all may backfire and become overwhelming none the least, and even uninspiring. I am convinced the indie evolution will continue, and I think we have taken baby steps so far – there is more to come. This is why my approach to all this is one of learning and observing while doing. It is my way of making sense of the indie movement. How?

For once, before deciding to become and independent author, I learned as much as I could about it, compared it to what information was available about traditional publishing, and then, examined my personal criteria – values, work ethic, working style, expectations, and goals. Over some time, I was not sure of what path to follow, and I had not submitted work to agents, which made my decision solely based on the above mentioned personal criteria. Once I deeply thought of these things that were very important to me, and considered all the information I gathered, the decision became obvious and clear to me – I wanted to become and indie author. Then I took the steps. However, because all the changes occurring in the publishing industry and all the new information available, new faces rising, leaders, preachers … I will not deny that as exciting as it was, the experience was also overwhelming and exhausting. And this is when I decided to stop following advice, and instead treat each available piece of information and experience  as precious, be grateful for it, study it, evaluate it against my personal criteria, and look inside myself and embrace only the advice and information/methods/”to do’s” and so much more … that were aligned and in balance with my personal criteria, while developing my own style. This is how I embrace independent publishing.

It is just the beginning, and I think that over the next few years we will be amazed at what is to come, and many will be inside the process, outside of it, while others will be it. Daring times!

 

 

 

The Book of Sharon Excerpt

Here’s a short excerpt from The Book of Sharon – book 2 of The Dinorah Chronicles – that I wanted to share with you. I hope you enjoy it. If you’d like you can read the first two chapters on Amazon here. Just click look inside.

This excerpt is from Chapter 3 – A Letter to the Lost. It is an excerpt from Dinorah’s book, as she is inspired to reveal the ancient tome’s secrets, without revealing her ancestry or the actual book. Her book is called The Book of Sharon. I wrote The Book of Sharon as if it was a book inside a book inside a book. A bit different but I am happy with the effort.

Chapter 3 – A Letter to the Lost (excerpt)

Dear Child,

     Know that what you are asking has been done long time ago. All I ask of you is that you do what you know you have to do, in your heart. It is the plan inside you; you created it, and the spirit knows more than the flesh. The spirit knows the nourishment the flesh needs. Follow your heart wherever it leads you, and know that I am here. If you hold back you will not prosper – right now, you are holding back.”

 

And here is my demanding assistant (more like boss) Chanti, making sure that the shift runs smoothly.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

In Between the Lines – Trust

Trust – Firm reliance; confident belief; faith; hope. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Here is one of several definitions that the dictionary gives for the word trust, and the one that I will use for the purpose of this post. Trust is another theme in my novels, and one that I find the cornerstone of everyday living – how we interact with our environment and people around us. We trust systems, people, routines … It goes from an external dimension to a personal and inner dimension to a spiritual one. When we lose trust (in whatever) our balance is shaken, and so is our reliance, confidence, beliefs, faith, and hope. Our feelings hurt. The issue is that once we lose trust in someone or something, it is very hard to recover. It takes change for us to consider trusting again, and as far as people go, many times the only thing that will make someone trust again is the presence of Love. In a way, Trust encompasses the above mentioned conditions; however, Love supersedes all.

In today’s society, it seems that trust has almost ceased to exist. We pay attention to conspiracy theories, and many people delight on these. Whether these theories are true or not is not the issue. It is how you process and internalize the information that you receive every day that will determine your level of trust – external, internal, and spiritual. Pay attention to your “trust process” and see how your balance is being affected. I will use myself as an example. When I start watching more television or increase watching the news, I immediately feel a direct effect on my balance. I like to be informed but I find that if I am going to listen to the news or watch television, I have to place a conscious filter before doing so, otherwise this simple activity may end up influencing the way I feel, and if I pay too much attention to negative news, so does my level of trust. This is just a simple exercise on a very mundane level, but a good example to illustrate.

We use Shakespeare’s line very often – To be or not to be, that is the question – but many times, the To Be depends on our level of trust, externally, internally, and spiritually. The question might be to trust or not to trust.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

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 🙂