Posts by inkspeare

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.

Today, I Must Rant

Over the weekend, I was disappointed and annoyed. I am sure that this happens to many indie authors, and I would like your opinion on this issue. I checked my books on Amazon and realized that other independent Amazon sellers were selling the paperbacks at unreasonable and shameful prices. One of my novels was priced over $100 dollars. It made me angry because, this is stealing from readers, and I worked very hard to produced those books, and I don’t like the idea that someone is allowed to sell my novels at an exorbitant price, and make more on one book that I would make as an author in selling several. Do you understand my point?

I checked several indie authors and most of them had the same problem with their novels. I checked a best-selling author who publishes traditionally, and she did not have this issue. I don’t know if this happens with indie authors because many are not in the category of best-selling authors yet, but to me, there should be a stop to this madness. I understand that every seller has the right to price their product, but ridiculously overpricing a novel that the author has priced reasonably is unethical. I don’t know who would pay over $100 for a used book that they can buy new for under $15.00, but obviously someone does, otherwise this would not happen.  Amazon should regulate this issue. Of course, there is the argument that no one is putting a knife in the neck of the buyer, if they want to buy the book for the abominable price.

As an indie author, what do you think? Are you experiencing this?

Now, to my other disappointment - The FAKE WordPress blogs. I saw that a suspicious fake WordPress blog (that had no content) posted one of my posts (A Gift for You) as a reblog. When I looked at the blogger/blog there was no content at all in the site, only my post, making it appear as if I was the blogger giving away my novel. Immediately, I reported it to the WordPress team. I am awaiting a response. This happened yesterday. Again, I understand this happens, but it would be nice if WordPress would require their users to legitimize themselves by having a full profile and the required information before allowing them to have a blog. I think there should be a measure in place. As an author, I love WordPress, and overall, it has a great community and an awesome team. It is my blogging platform by choice, and in my opinion the best out there.

In both instances, my husband was upset and irate, because he knows how much effort and care I put into my work. I think there should be boundaries and regulations that would not allow this type of issues to exist so easy. And the word here is EASY.

What has been your experience as a blogger or indie author?

 

Picking Up the Pebbles, Carrying the Rocks, and Embracing Boulders

Present Universe/Earth – The location

Human – The vessel

The Material – The physical state, the condition in the vessel

Change – Fuel, motivator

Target – The journey, the material experience in the vessel at the location

Goal – Growth through the experience, enjoyment, discovery, being, creation, union … to each its own journey, One as Many

Time/Space – Now (always Now, other measure of time is irrelevant)

Report – Ongoing

 

Although life might seem a weird experiment at times, it is a journey, a destination in itself, and a different experience for every person. It presents its challenges as a way to keep the journey going in the now. Without challenge, conflict, unfortunate events, fortunate events … without change, there cannot be movement, journey, growth. It is necessary as fuel to keep us going. Imagine a life of perfect harmony, everything goes one way – perfect, and nothing happens that will let you have/create a frame of reference that serves as a compass to evaluate your journey. If everything is as perfect as it can be, how would you know the difference? Simply put, without a compass/navigator you might be lost.

Many times, change (fuel) will present itself in various degrees of difficulty, as much fuel as we might need to propel us to the next level. I truly believe that. Sometimes, the size of a pebble, other times as a rock, or even a giant boulder. Sometimes even as the entire quarry. However, if growth is the goal, the natural way would be to keep walking the path, pick up the pebbles, carry the rocks, and even embrace the boulders, and if we have to go inside the quarry, may we find the message in its walls. And when we do, evolution continues.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

 

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

 

Introvert of Introverts

Lately, I read or hear an increasing amount of information on the topic of being and introvert, and wonder if the people who call themselves introverts have mislabeled themselves. Introvert is not synonym of shy. According to the popular definition now, an introvert is a person who recharges or gets his/her energy from enjoying moments of solitude, working alone, as opposed to an extrovert who energizes by having people around, spending time with others and socializing in more live environments. An introvert would feel drained in this environment, and would need “quiet time” to recover. That does not make him/her a loner, socialization/interaction is enjoyed in moderation. This definition sounds good to me.

Another topic that goes hand in hand with this one is book marketing. Indie authors who consider themselves introverts might have a hard time grasping the now popular concept of indie book marketing, which just as the indie publishing movement, has gained momentum, hence all the bombarding with Must Dos, Nevers, and Don’ts related to self-publishing and book marketing. For an Introvert of Introverts, all this advice may be confusing, overwhelming, exhausting, and frightening. Why?

Most likely, when a movement starts and gains momentum, by default it gains followers, and originates experts, teachers, gurus … and so on, and where there are leaders, there must be followers, and followers sometimes forget that they are the leaders of their own movements, life, and or projects. Introverts who are also followers may feel/think that they have to follow or catch up with all the advice that there is about self-publishing/book marketing and end up feeling so overwhelmed that they might end up frozen or unable to decide, frustrated, and in despair because they cannot follow all the advice. As an example, I will use my dislike of making videos or vlogs, and yes, I consider myself an introvert in the sense of the above mentioned definition. What I’m trying to convey is that introversion is not a black and white topic, it has shade areas or degrees, and as so, introverts should assess what their likes and dislikes are, their level of comfort, and decide which activities fit better with their personalities, and focus on those. Just because everyone is Vlogging does not mean that you have to, and if you love blogging but dislike being in too many social networks at once because you become overwhelmed with too much interaction, then focus on one or two that you love most. Tailor your book marketing activity to your personality and level of comfort and enjoy yourself, otherwise, if you try to catch up with everyone else, introverts who enjoy a higher level of interaction, or the extroverts, you may end up frustrated and angry at yourself. People grow and evolve, and what I dislike at a particular moment, I may end up embracing in the future – it is evolution, and introverts evolve as well.

It is not a race, it is a journey, your journey, so choose wise, and enjoy every minute of it. Journey

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

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