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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birthday Lesson

The last coupe of weeks I have been distracted on a personal project: a virtual birthday bash. The plan was to try to sustain a week-long celebration. I was not exactly sure how this would work, but it sounded like an interesting experiment.

You all know how I love to experiment! There was a lesson to be learned here…

Others have done this and I suppose if I look, there probably is data being collected on such things. But I wanted to document some of the experience and adapt the parameters of it to a book launch.

When Google Plus first appeared in the ether, I said that hangouts had a great potential for book launches. I admit that I did not go ahead with the planned virtual launch of One Night with B.B. because I panicked: What if I throw a hangout and nobody comes? What if they hate the story? What if nobody wants to buy your silly little e-book?

Tortured by my own doubts, I denied myself the experience.

Granted, the virtual birthday bash lasted well over a week and it was such a smashing success, we kept the group (it is private) and continued the conversations. A book launch is likely to last a very limited period of time. But I think I have learned a few things…

Here are the details that I wish to translate to a book-related event. The group was international, comprising three continents. It was balanced along gender lines. Involved were three distinct generations.

Obviously the majority had two people in common, the minority at last one of the two birthday girls. Some of them were familiar with my work but not all, but that was hardly important because it was not a publishing event.

There were no rules as such, but we did define what the virtual gathering should look like.

Music: Parties should have music! Dancing music, make out music... Bring us a good song!

Party Games: What's a birthday party without a game or two? Run your own trivia threads, if you'd like. I will give away a few books as prizes.

Food: Of course, you can link up some good food porn. And drinks! I even got you started in the cocktail department.

Gifts: No purchase necessary! But you can bring all those wonderfully weird, conversation pieces you haven't shared on your wall because . . . well, just because. If you get stuck, K and L enjoy looking at sexy boots neither can afford.

Stories: We like words! Stories, poems, songs, jokes. You got some? Share!

Video: Seen something interesting or funny and want to share or just discuss? Throw it in the mix. Especially if there's cute kittens in it!

The only thing that did not go as planned were the games and we did not need them as such (they were referenced). The conversations pretty much extended 24 hours as the group spanned several time zones.

What transpired was an exchange of ideas, philosophies, jokes, stories and ephemera that defined each of us, the group, cliques within it, the times in a much larger sense and the event itself.

I had a fantastic time and was left with ideas for more writing projects; a deeper bond with some and a deeper appreciation of the whole; a new hangout place simply called The Lounge; and a playlist of over 200 videos and 18 hours of sheer entertainment (which you are free to peruse and amuse, explore and use as a muse).

So it was an epic birthday, but also it expanded my idea of how to present my work and market it online. Plus I got to explain kinky boots. Like other defining experiences in life, it’s always best to try them out with friends you trust before taking the plunge…

I am ready to do this! And I am already working out the details in my head for a fantastic virtual book party (and I'm dying to try out the technology to include a virtual signing as well). O brave new world!

Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo: FTW!

This one was interesting. It started with a glimmer of an idea and although I planned out a few scenes I pretty much wrote straight through. This, of course, is a crazy way to write!

At any given point, you my run out of steam or (gasp!) words… It didn’t happen. I managed to reach those 50,000 words, with days to spare. There is still story left to finish the book, probably two or three more chapters.

What I did on this book was to write each chapter pretty much as a scene. Some are more self-contained than others, but these scenes that extend beyond a moment are linked by it.

I’m not done yet, but as I write this I wonder if it was at all what I intended to begin with and realize that it was always a work in flux. I don’t recommend doing it this way on a deadline but it was still quite a rush!

The ending that I envisioned when the idea took hold of me is probably only going to be hinted at – a literary big tease? The part I thought would be the most interesting, once I began to write it, became the most boring and ended being nothing more than a few sentences to segue into action scenes.

What of the gravitas of politics, religion, and a cultural revolution? Some of it is in there. I am sure that it is not as originally intended. Will it be glaringly offensive, shocking, or even daring? I don’t know. Some of it was awfully uncomfortable to write and some scenes suggested themselves that made me cringe. Will it be easier to read that it was to write? We shall see.

Some characters emerged that I had not planned but it was they who dictated their fate. I just wrote what the voices told me…

Despite certain trepidation about some of the content in this project, I never fell behind this year. There were a few times when I was not sure where I was going because I had not planned that far ahead. This did not affect output as much as I feared it might.

And the research was fascinating. Not all of it made it in the book, but there’s some fun Hawai’ian trivia floating in my head, some sustainability data, and lots of very colorful reef creatures!

For those who asked: Yes, I will finish it. I will edit. I will publish.

I hope that May You Grow Old and Fat has its own voice (not necessarily mine), and that there are at least a dozen moments that are strong and colorful and emotionally cathartic enough to ingrain themselves in the readers’ souls. But that part is not up to me.

Finally, there were some lovely people whose support was very palpable and I thank them for it. Y’all know who you are: feel the virtual hugs and occasional kisses (some with tongue!).  

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo Blues

NaNoWriMo has been interesting this year. I seem to be fighting either a bout of tendonitis or carpal tunnel. The city and state seem to be under a barrage of natural disasters, though none seem to be touching me much (it’s as if we are being cocooned in a protective bubble).

So far, I’ve stuck to the original idea and just finished 23,399 words and 12 chapters – or the entire first act.

I am almost halfway done. Now I’ve reached the point of the story I do not really know. So I am really making it up as I move forward…

Next: hippies take over Lanai (may Larry Ellison forgive me!).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Available on iBookstore

There is something very exciting about the e-book markets going international in just the blink of an eye. The iBookstore in iTunes now carries all my titles, including The Scent of Honeysuckle. More importantly, this is true in the US, the UK, Italy, France, Panama, what-have-you. I suspect that the iBookstore will overtake my Nook sales within the next couple of weeks.

I’d sell more if I weren’t slacking on marketing, but there is so much I can manage at once. I have to work on it.

In the meantime, I am plugging away at the NaNoWriMo novel (12,151 words and 8 chapters so far).  I’m hoping that I can thread the narrative later, because although I am writing it in chronological order, I am not entirely sure how much of what I’ve written stays in…

This time around I have less of an outline and more of a general idea of where it is going and I will run out of stuff in about three chapters.

The challenge will be not so much getting May You Grow Old and Fat to market for the holidays, but the other two novels I’ve put aside for the moment (Volume One of Chronicles of Ash and Poetic Justice). If not, then I need to step up the marketing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pubit! Disappoints Again...

In the last year and a half since I began this experiment in self-publishing, I have put the best effort I could at every step. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done more, mind you, or that it was the smartest course. I parent my babies by the seat of the pants…

I have been watching for patterns in my reports and I have come to the conclusion that I can safely drop Pubit! It isn’t an extraordinary effort to publish for Nook, not anymore than it is to publish for the Kindle.

The problem is that Barnes & Noble makes me feel like a complete loser!

This is how my sales broke down for Period X:

Smashwords Premium CatalogueBarnes & Noble 19
Kindle 469
Pubit! 7

Yeah, so there’s that.

I’ll still sell out of B&N for Nook buyers, but what few royalties I get from that distribution channel simply do not seem to validate the work. Smashwords can handle that for me. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Let Me Creep You Out

Mike and Jess Morgan are a relatively happy married couple who, after winning a large lottery jackpot, purchase a lighthouse in an idyllic north eastern town to pursue their true passions. Soon the quaint and beautiful setting is marred by a series of increasingly unsettling and mystifying experiences . . . including the intoxicating sweet scent of honeysuckle. 

Just in time for All Hallow’s Read comes The Scent of Honeysuckle a simple tale, moody and creepy, isolated in a lighthouse.

I gave it a minimalist treatment and it lacks the gore of most contemporary horror porn.

I wondered, as I wrote this one, how exactly would unexplained phenomena really affects a couple in their relationship to each other and the world at large (one a skeptic and the other a lapsed Catholic).

Of course, the biggest question is whether there are unexplained phenomena or do we simply not have access to the right answers at the moment. Are we even asking the right questions?

I left many things unsaid because I want the reader to do a little work here. This ghost story should be a collaboration; so that in effect the reader brings in their prejudice to bear and run the story.

My first foray into the genre, I look forward to reviews (good and bad) of this work. As my first attempt, I wonder if I was able to hit the right notes at the right angles… Sure, Stephen King makes it look easy (and I do realize his work is not everyone’s cuppa).

As my experiment progresses, trying to publish in a variety of genres, of course one of the goals is t be able to accomplish it adeptly. The point of self-publishing is not to mimic the traditional publisher agenda to print just because there are enough words to hold a book together. It has to be of some artistic value as well.

Mostly, beyond the ghost story itself, I wanted to create moments that feel authentic. Will that be enough, I wonder…

You can download a sample or purchase a copy at Smashwords right now. E-book and paperback versions will become available at Amazon and Kindle Store this weekend. Other online retail outlets will follow in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giving Good Tongue

Multitasking is not for everyone and certainly not for every writer. I do not recommend it for the novice because besides the time-consuming aspect, it can be an insane roller coaster of emotions and mixed metaphors (literally).

By intervals, I am finishing a contemporary ghost story, a thriller, and a steampunk fantasy. Plus, I started to outline the NaNoWriMo novel.

Sometimes it feels like there’s an editorial director/ringmaster saying, “Immaletyoufinishbut…”

The next challenge I am immersing myself in is dialect. Dialogue needs to ring to true and that means that characters must use the exactly right words. You wouldn’t have a hippie character in a 1972 story say, “Dude, WTF?” simply because that phrase didn’t exist colloquially yet. If a contemporary character found herself in the middle of 1972, she might think exactly these words to herself – that would make the dialogue (internal in this case) perfectly reasonable.

The steampunk series includes a contemporary character transplanted to a world that includes a class system that very much resembles Victorian England. I’ve determined that the “upper class” will have a Regency feel to it – because they’d be the established “old money” types in the story. And this rule makes me happy.

I could go a little grittier Dickensian for other characters, and develop a colonial dialect for yet another set of characters. Once this is established though, it is important to stick to it for consistency and to lend credence to that particular aspect of realism within the story.

Of course, I love research (because I’m a dork). To prepare for this I’ve engaged in several different activities. The authenticity of individual moments -- scenes, images, and bits of dialogue -- is what attracts me to the process in the steampunk series.

The Internet offers a fantastic resource at Joanna Waugh’s blog (including a book of names, panoramic images and maps, a dictionary of the vulgar tongue, fashion, food, climate, and traveling facts).

Netflix gives me such gems as Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs, and a host of beautiful period dramas for my inner girlie need for drag. My own collection of dramas gives me access to the full Merchant-Ivory collection.

The Kindle Store and the Guttenberg Project bestow the words of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Oscar Wilde.

From Audible I feast on the auditory joys of listening to Richard Armitage read two of Georgette Heyer’s novels – and believe me I have listened to them to death! Shut up, it’s for research. Yes, yes, I love the sound of his velvety voice* and melt just thinking of it, but I keep listening because when I start writing and fleshing out some of the scenes necessary to finish volume 1 in The Chronicles of Ash, I need to have the right words, slang and cadence already in my head.

The work is not a romance, I'll never master that; but the romances do several things: they establish a very specific time frame, they combine peerage and rank, they move comfortably between city and country, they quickly paint the political picture of the moment. More importantly, the romance lives and dies by dialogue because unless the story specifically covers the underbelly of polite society with all its twisted perversions, the period folks (at least on paper) gave good tongue.

Right now, I’m all about giving good tongue. It’s all about the words: the right words. Therefore, I curtsy to the music of the spoken word in order to write it better.

(I may also walk around the house with a period head piece, but you need not incorporate cosplay into your research. Still, I hear that if you wear the right costume, the part plays itself...)

* I have Sylvester, aka The Wicked Uncle and The Convenient Marriage. Eventually I'll add Venetia to my collection. I'd kill for Bernard Cornwell's The Lords of the North, but the prices for it are freaking insane. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

There's a Crisp in the Air

October always begins a happy reawakening in me. Autumn to me clears the way for soups and stews and unobstructed creativity.

This year it also includes the beginning of the end as we enter the danger zone of this prolonged period of unemployment; but I can’t despair . . . only excitedly await the transformation at the end of this journey.

Then there’s Halloween!

Speaking of Samhain, my fiend Eliseo has written an e-book about The Celtic Moon Goddess that draws on a multitude of sources and makes way for his own personal discovery on the scholarship of Celtic mythology (which is faith or origin, depending on where you stand). Download a sample of the first few chapters at Smashwords.

Then there’s NaNoWriMo!

I already have the beginning synopsis, part of the outline and started the character study for my novella, May You Grow Old and Fat (click for details published at Kali’s Temple of Doom).

There are going to be large themes to tackle here: from religion to education; from civil rights and responsibilities; greed and power and how they intermarry to create a whole new monster that eats away not only at the souls of the afflicted but also poisons the society that draws from that well.

Of course, my state of mind pretty much guarantees that because I can’t punch someone in the face right now, some characters are going to get quite a beating.

Clarity through literary atrocities: it’s cheaper than therapy.

Then it’s December! 

That means several things from my birthday to Jesus’ own, but to me it means Armitage in The Hobbit.

Somewhere between now and year’s end, I want to release The Scent of Honeysuckle (ghost story =>  Halloween: seems like a natural), finish Poetic Justice or the first installment of Chronicles of Ash. Details can be found here.

The rest is life and I’ll do as I must until it self-corrects and I can overcome.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Inspiration for Independence Day

Go to your room or, so help me, by the Macaroni Monster, 
I'll kill you where you stand!

Independence Day is a modern day fantasy about motherhood in which a woman makes one last ditch effort to bond with her teenager, and one of the vignettes in Because She Was a Woman.

* ~*~ *

We had a friend who after an acrimonious matrimony and a contentious divorce, moved cross-country to be closer to her family and raise her children with a support system. She had not intended on becoming a single mother, but then few people dream of that particular circumstance.

As with parenthood in all its forms, there were good days and bad days and days when infanticide seemed like a viable solution.

We were visiting them once, probably around Thanksgiving, and the kids had been fighting for days before our arrival and the war continued after we were settled. Finally at her wits’ end, she screamed threateningly, “If you two can’t live together in peace, I’ll just have to separate you and ship one of you off to live with your father!”

We fell silent, horrified at the severity of that statement.

The boy understood immediately that they’d crossed a line with mom and quietly retreated to his room (to think about what he had done).

The girl though, she was different. Daddy’s girl, she resented her mother for being. First she had to compete for his attention with her, but then after the divorce, that woman took her away from the love of her life. And obviously, as any Daddy’s Girl will assert, he didn’t do anything wrong. He could do no wrong!

She too retreated to her own corner room and came back out some 20 minutes later with a well rehearsed message.

“Mommy,” she said. “I believe that because I am eldest, if you are going to separate us and send one of us to live with daddy, it should be me.”

Her brother looked shell shocked. I looked from her mother to my own mother and I saw heartbreak – pure and unadulterated heartbreak. The girl, for her tweenie part, looked at her mother defiantly, ready to argue her position and unaware of the hurt she’d caused.

How could she know? In her mind she was still the center of the universe. But her universe was out of whack, because her universe was her daddy. Children are infuriating that way; sometimes well into their mid-30s…

I wonder though, how many mothers fantasize about the ultimate comeuppance for their ungrateful children. Most would never act on it, I realize. Most, in fact, despite the overwhelming urge to kill their young, simply love us and try to set us straight without committing felonies.

There are felonies in Independence Day, but not the ones you presume.

Because She Was a Woman is available at Amazon and the Kindle Store, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reviving the Literary Vignette

“Life is comprised of thousands of fleeting moments. These are fleeting moments in the lives of a dozen women…” Thus begins a collection of vignettes Because She Was a Woman.

The goal of the vignettes is to have the characters and a detail or two of their day or their lives seep into the consciousness of the reader – in the way that the details come alive in the readers’ own imagination. Some of the stories and characters are there to make the reader question the status quo, to turn stereotypes on their heads, to dare to suggest that women often are far more than what they appear to be skin deep.

In How Nadine and Libby Escaped Destiny, the original story that was the seed of the collection, a child is playing outside an old trailer and her mother watches her from within as the essence of the moment unfolds. It is a sad tale with haunting images; a tragedy that aspires to a happy ending.

In Rebirth a woman discovers the joys of starting anew with the help of a friend and has a moment of complete abandon.

In Imbroglio Royale, Lana goes through the motions and keeps on going desperately trying to find “normal” after wondering when her life turned into an episode of reality television.

The Proposal explores a moment of victory in a stifling situation for Lenora.

Fair Game, based on a true story, follows Rosa as she goes on a job interview that turns out much differently than expected.

Independence Day is a modern day fantasy about motherhood in which a woman makes one last ditch effort to bond with her teenager.

The Poet is the heartbreaking tale of a woman contemplating the true meaning of ‘masterpiece’ in the middle of the apocalypse.

Not Gwen is the tale of a woman living a masked existence for one last day, an exploration of cultural identity and survival. (Click here to read my inspiration for this story.)

Promises and Expectations is the transcript of a woman’s video essay explaining why she should be approved for a special program she believes will bring her true happiness.

In Is This Love? a woman visits her mother in a convalescent home and contemplates her history, happiness, and dementia.

Child of God finds Nino dispossessed because her neighbors disapprove of her lifestyle choices.

The Next ‘It’ Couple is a study of a woman of humble beginnings reaches the pinnacle of glamour and success and meets the love of her life, but does it matter at all?

The collection is available at Smashwords and Kindle Store now. The paperback is available at CreateSpace and will soon follow at Amazon. Additional online retailers like Apple, Diesel, Kobo and Sony will follow in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Embracing Freelancing

I’ve just added a professional services page at the Amapola Press website including rates for e-book formatting services to insure inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. As an Smashwords author with a dozen fiction titles (some with images) and three non-fiction titles with linked tables of content, all in the Premium Catalog, I think I’ve proven myself quite adept at e-book formatting for Smashwords Editions.

Apparently, some authors find e-book formatting nightmarish. Personally, I think most writers complicate matters because they insist on formatting documents in ways they can read on their computers and some are still thinking about the way print books look and try to emulate that. This doesn’t work…

I have seen the endless threads on Kindleboards with new authors who after numerous attempts still have autovetter errors and simply cannot get into the Premium Catalog. I understand their frustration and I can alleviate it.

Of course, inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog allows distribution to Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites and; and Android e-book store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus).

Rates start at $35, with additional charges for linked TOCs/footnotes/endnotes and images.
A deposit, payable by PayPal, can be made at the Amapola Press website after project acceptance and delivery generally takes less than four days.

Indie authors may contact us through the Amapola Press website with details (contact form in Home Page). E-book manuscripts can be accepted in PDF, Word and Open Office documents – which may be uploaded to Google documents or instruction will be sent to e-mail. Final formatted e-books will then be returned by e-mail so indie authors can upload their files.

If the project requires more than one attempted submission, no additional charges will be incurred. Charges are for formatting only, and the goal is inclusion to the Premium Catalog. I guarantee it.

Be warned: If your book is filled with gross typographic errors, Smashwords will not accept into the Premium Catalog, even if the formatting is perfect. E-book formatting service does not include editing, copy editing or proofreading.

I had not intended on doing this long-term, but it looks like it’s beyond a hobby now and I have immersed myself deeply into this “experiment”. So this is me embracing it fully.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Penetrating the Formula

source: iclipart

A few years ago, a friend of mine turned me on to these sci-fi novels that shall remain nameless here. Set in space and with a female protagonist, I threw myself into the series with fervor and glee.

Soon a romantic element was introduced, and although romance is not my thing I was willing to tolerate its intrusion as long as that did not dominate the story.

To my surprise, “romance” was hardly the correct label for what passed as a relationship between these characters – especially because their carnal relations more closely resembled the legal definition of rape.

I want to blame Ayn Rand for this trend but I don’t know that she was the first to write in a rape scene and pass it off as some sort of relationship. It certainly was the first time I read such a thing. I chose to disassociate the rape scene from my reading experience and I cannot say that it ruined The Fountainhead for me, but the shock of it has stayed with me my entire adult life.

As far as the writer of the sci-fi series, I also read another of her fantasy series and she repeated this habit.

I was horrified. (And no, I will not add to the ridiculous discussion on the subject of sexual assault that passes for political discourse these days.)

Yet, as offensive and baffling as this idea was to me, what turned me off to her writing eventually was the increasingly annoying and ever more frequent and glaring typos in her books. It was like she couldn’t write that drivel fast enough for her publisher to actually copy edit the shit!

Don’t get me wrong, the stories were fun. And I suspect that they sold precisely because they were quick and fun reads. Who doesn’t love a quickie?

I bring it up because there is an ongoing conversation at Kindleboards and at countless blogs about the success of 50 Shades of Gray.

Craig Ferguson summed it up perfectly. He said he doesn’t mind sexy bits in his literature as long as what precedes it includes clever words.

The Shades of Gray series is notoriously badly written, by all accounts, and yet remains in the bestseller lists for print and e-books alike (with no signs of going limp, if you’d pardon the vulgarity).

It turns out that most readers don’t give a flying fuck. Apparently this Reading Elite that constantly complains about the quality of e-books are not the same majority who actually buys them, because only the Grammar Nazis and other writers seem to be offended by the spanking E.L. James gives the English language.

This makes me wonder whether I should deliberately allow typos and run-on sentences to remain in my work; throw in a bitch slap and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, and KA-CHING!

If only life were as easy and submissive as Anastasia Steele. Actually, that wouldn't work for me... I prefer my life to come with a little more kick. Sigh, I'll stop now.

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Brain Has Gone All Euro!

August has hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t really have an explanation for it other than I have been stunned into inaction.

All creativity has not exactly stopped but rather slowed to a quantum level. Ideas are not roiling so much as simmering.

It’s not exactly a matter of staring blankly at a white page with nothing to say but more a matter of having no desire to open the page and get started. There’s a to-do list foremost in my mind. What is missing is the drive to start checking things off.

It feels as if my brain has simply sent itself off on a late summer holiday, given up on the idea of getting anything else done and left the rest of me to hold the fort.

That’s right: my brain has gone fishin’ till autumn arrives!

In the meantime, I doodle the imagined faces of the heroines of the upcoming Because She Was A Woman, my volume of a dozen vignettes. Pictured above is my first try at The Poet, the lead character in a heartbreaking piece about love, life and poetry. I’m thinking of including the art work in the paperback version.

That’s probably the most I can manage until September arrives and my brain returns…

Friday, August 10, 2012

Expanding Horizons

One of my goals in this self-publishing experiment is to write in as many genres as I can. Of course, I realize that I will not achieve success in all genres – not for lack of trying, but because I have no frame of reference for some things, like romance (unless it is tragically comedic in nature).

The latest experiment, of course, is Chronicles of Ash – a steampunk-inspired fantasy. Why steampunk? It is not the most popular genre but it is an interesting amalgamation of sci-fi, speculative fiction, and fantasy.

It’s not just robots and steam-powered gadgets; it’s also the Victorian/Edwardian politics and mores – the glitzy exterior and its dark underbelly. It’s about turning history on its head and having your way with it. It gives you the opportunity to release esoteric characters that get minor play in the history books and give them a starring role. It’s about making the familiar strange and the strange oddly familiar. It’s a play on words based on a play on your perception of reality.

On the logo for Amapola Press, the words “Expand your Horizons” appears as the motto for the small press. This is meant to be true for my readers as it is for me. I want to be able to discover new things as I embark on all these fantastic journeys.

Another one of my goals is to include at least some Latino flavor in my writings, simply because it is largely what defines me and I think everything is better with a little Latino flavor.

For this reason, one of the characters in Chronicles of Ash is a Latina. You can get a feel for her sassiness in an excerpt now running at Tiki Tiki blog (with a special offer for readers). In it, Pilar is the longtime housekeeper, companion and nanny for Ashleigh’s family on Earth before Ash is transported to the strange new world, and she is having a conversation made up entirely of facial expressions and what we refer to as The Look.

The Look is something most Latinos are familiar with, and while most married couples of all racial make-ups have a similar shorthand; Latina mother figures have perfected it to a whole new level and an art form.

I am not at all concerned about perpetuating the stereotype as Latinas as servants. Pilar is an intelligent, dedicated professional, and an independent and strong-willed woman who has never lost her identity to her duties but who has a passion to perform her responsibilities in the best way God allows her because she knows the influence she yields.

So how do I ensure that Pilar doesn’t become a stock sit-com character? Her planned role during the nine-book series will change too, as Pilar has big things coming for her as does our heroine. More importantly, she needs to be a whole character, three-dimensional.

Of course, you want this of all your characters, but I feel a great responsibility for the Latino characters I introduce because it is imperative that I show them in all their glory, which varied and delicious, just as in real life (but bigger and more fantastic). 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A New Fantasy


The e-book is now available at Smashwords here:
A free excerpt can be found here:
The title will roll out to other online retailers during August 2012, and Amazon will carry both e-book and paperback versions.


The introductory volume of Chronicles of Ash is almost ready to be set free into the world of e-books!

Planned as a nine-book series, the fantasy is a steampunk-inspired series of stories of Ashleigh Peters, a young woman from Brooklyn that finds herself sucked into another world.

This New World is both strange and awfully familiar, and Ashleigh often wonders if she is in some sort of coma, the victim of drug-induced dreams.

While the series introduces some familiar characters, they turn out to be not what we assume them to be, and to Ashleigh it all feels like some sort of extended “masquerade-slash-operetta.”

In Vol. 0 – Ash to Ashes, the action begins well into our story as Ash, her attendant and an old lunatic simply known as the Maestro test a human flying machine from a cliff in Eleusis. The chronicles then flashes back to Ashleigh’s last days on Earth and we meet her family, learn of her life in Brooklyn and what she leaves behind as she is transported to this new world.

As the story begins, we get the hint that Ashleigh’s travels may not have been a fluke of nature, that there is a reason, a force guiding it. This fact is what propels the series forward, and as her chronicler points out, puts into question whether Ashleigh is some sort of savior or an agent of nefarious forces.

The series is both a travelogue and diary of Ashleigh’s life as she unravels the mysteries of Eleusis and how she came to it. Will she ever learn how or why she was brought to this New World? Will Ash be accepted or condemned? More importantly, will she ever find her way back home?

Chronicles of Ash is the continued experiment in trying to publish in a variety of genres. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shades of Sexy without Sex

Image: "Sunbathing" by Graeme Weatherston

New Yorkers have been hit with four consecutive heat waves that have been absolutely brutal – especially at our house because we don’t enjoy the lovely luxury that is air conditioning. In my next life, I will *demand* central air or I’m not coming back. It’s just not worth it, screw psychic growth without AC!

I used to love the heat. I grew up in the Tropics; heat it came with the territory, literally. I worshipped the sun. Now not so much, I’m an Indian summer kinda girl now… where a bikini was sexy to me once, a shawl makes me hot now.

Sadly, these infernally hot days were full of idle haze because I was barely capable of reading or writing as my brain wilted and shrunk. I was vaguely coherent. So I am behind on a lot of things but even as I slowed down to an epic crawl, there is a lot of exciting things going on, many satisfying on very deep levels.

eFiction Magazine has splintered into genre categories (see Doug’s Kickstarter and lend him a hand, it’s a worth project). I’m helping out as a reader, reviewing submissions for the fantasy, noir and horror online magazines and some of the stories – which I expect we’ll publish in up coming issues – are fantastic! Some are really promising new talent and some expert word weavers are keeping the short story alive. If literature is sexy to you, you might want to get in on this (there's a link to the right to subscribe).

I believe the Tiki Tiki book project (Latinos at the Beach) might be expanded into something grander and I am really looking forward to confab with the blog’s publisher this weekend and plan out a far more fabulous thing than we intended. How sweet is that? Oh yes!!! It’s always great when plans work out exactly as you hoped, but an even better thing when they open the opportunity to greater things – that is providence. Kismet  is sexy.

Next week, we are going on a party cruise around Manhattan and it’ll be documented in the blog with photos and possibly some video. Dancing, darkness, the skyline: floating sexy!

I added a new short story to the manuscript for Because She was a Woman. I thought I was done, but after several days without actual writing I felt both an urge and a surge. I was pure release. I needed a cigarette after a furious session of absolute abandon. Creativity is very sexy.

The timetable for all new releases starts in mid August.

The next food column is shaping up around tropical fruits. It’s not all bananas and mango. Sex for the palate. (go with it...)

Now if the weather cooperates a little bit and allows my brain continued use for a few consecutive days a week, I’d get so much more done! Fulfilling your passions, now that is awfully sexy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

So Exactly Idle

Not much writing going on lately. It has been a relatively quiet (and at times hot, sticky and painful). I’d write about that but I was barely conscious for the two heat waves… 

I dreamed about ice cream once. That was awesome, but also fleeting.

I also dreamed about skiing: felt the bits of ice dislodge and hit my face, a shocking delight.

Woke up in mid cackle. (I tense up when I see a dusting of snow, imagine the absolute horror of an entire field of the stuff and me propelled to inhuman speeds atop two fragile sticks.)

I enjoyed the momentary feel of brisk coldness, but I was also laughing so hard it took me right out of the dream and back to the infernal reality.

It wasn’t all torturous moans. I made notes to finish The Scent of Honeysuckle. The next project is editing Because She Was a Woman and probably releasing it in the next month or two. Before all that, I’m planning on releasing the intro volume to the steampunk-influenced series.

There’s an end of summer whirlwind coming!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Food Porn Aficionado

I love food.

My friends love food.

Sometimes, for no reason at all, we’ll post a photo of food and pass it around in some mass exercise of giddy fantasy. Food becomes a topic of conversation often, and not just because I’m hawking my cookbooks.

I may get the ball rolling by posting dinner plans, questions regarding ingredients for the next food column, or as a response to the Twitter feed with links to easy and awfully alluring recipes for weekend chefs and brown bagging.

My friends will be the catalyst sometimes as they too post their dinner and dessert creations or particularly good restaurant far. In fact, we’ve been known to even host Food Porn Thursdays were we compulsively post deliriously tantalizing photographs to see who faints first.

More than a few times, one friend has mentioned that I need to be put in touch with another of their friends and I’ll joke that we could form a food porn club.

It happened again yesterday. It started because I decided to write a new food column about chicken livers. I posted the question, “Chicken livers: love them, hate them, no freaking way?” The ensuing conversation included favorite dishes and a mention of folks that ought to be brought together just to discuss food.

It was time to take the bull by the horns and I created Food Porn Aficionado. I added people from my friends’ list and gave them the option to remain or go, as they wish, but knowing that most would love a place to focus their passion for food.

Are we foodies? Gourmets? Some probably would answer to that. Some are home cooks. Some are enthusiastic and adventurous eaters. Some use their oven as storage area and have not boiled an egg in their lives.

What I really love is that we have an international roster of members to start and the discussions promise to be not only interesting but I am sure we are all likely to learn new tricks and expand our horizons, making our palates the happy recipients of the gift that truly keeps on giving.

It is an open group and will remain so for as long as I can manage it. Everyone will be approved. The only rule is to be civil to your fellow members and to enjoy the ride.

Our maiden voyage included a recipe for a beet and feta salad, two beautiful desserts, and dinner menus from both sides of the pond. Members identified their favorite cuisines and this promises to help us all new and exciting items to our repertoire.

I love food porn. If you do too, come join us!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Latest Addition

Kali, The Food Goddess: Vols. 1 & 2 is now available in e-book form. Like its print counterpart, it combines the first cookbook (A Compilation of Delightful Recipes and Memories of Food) with a selection of entries from the online column; and the second book, Fruits of the Family Tree. Also, a few new recipes have been added for this edition.

I linked and bookmarked the sections for easy maneuvering within the book. I was going to create a hyperlinked index but my level of sadomasochism was relatively low this week… But more importantly, this is hardly necessary given the search capabilities of most e-readers. It’s just not necessary.

Each version requires a different kind of formatting and I want to suggest to all those starting at this self-publishing thing never to do formatting when sleep-deprived. You tend to forget simple things and commit the same silly mistakes again and again.

The book is available at Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It will roll out to international online retailers in the next few weeks.

This ends the repurposing project and sets me free for new projects -- except for the damned press release. For some reason writing a press release for the cookbook seems like an impossible ordeal. I’m sure if I stop fretting about it some brilliant idea will occur to me.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In other news, I was inspired recently to add another story for Because She Was a Woman and there’s some cage dancing involved. It’s not what you think, though.

I have an end for The Scent of Honeysuckle so that I may have it ready by Halloween after all.

There is a project in the works to encourage memoirs writing and I will share details once that gets going.

The intro to the steampunk-inspired series is ready to go and I am not entirely sure what I am waiting for, except that I wanted to finish the other projects first. I also want to finish the first installment so that there is only a short wait between the intro and the first full length book.

As things tighten at my end, I hope the royalties increase, though that is still not the sole or even the most important goal in my experiment. Now I can concentrate on some promotion and editing, and ideas to conquer a few new genres I have not yet tackled.