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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


At the end of June, I embarked in an adventure to pursue two professional certifications (CompTIA's A+ and Network+). I succeeded at both and am now a fully certified PC technician and networking information technology expert. So, if you need help in that area, feel free to contact me through the Amapola Press site.

In that time, I knew I would have to put my writing aside because my whole focus needed to be on studying and capturing these certifications.

My Muse understood my need to set her aside. She never feels abandoned, she asserts herself and while I commuted daily from Brooklyn to the South Bronx, it gave me glimpses of what was to come. And I dutifully took notes on my iPod so that I could document these ideas – I am no fool!

I saw scenes play out in my sleep deprived mind. I saw character faces develop and smile back at me. I heard their voices. I even heard opening lines to chapters that simply demanded to be heard because they were so perfect they willed themselves into existence!

It wasn't all motherboards and routers and operating systems. Sure, all that enveloped me, but underneath that frantic search for knowledge there was love and happiness and friendship and unconditional moral support and sexy, soothing voice in the distance that reminded me, “You are still a writer...”

So here we are, hours rather than days (in Protocol Data Unit parlance were are bits rather than frames away) from NaNoWriMo. A decision must be made. Do I participate this year? I am in deep job-search mode at the moment, but that does not exclude my creative drive. So yes! Yes, I will participate.

But how do I go? Do I write my story about life in the space station that uses the Bronx as inspiration for part of it (and it would be a fitting and poetic way to close out my experience)? Or do I succumb to the silliness, and a much needed mental break, of the magic stilettos?

I have almost two days to decide. Ah, but the excitement . . . it mounts! And I hear my Muse gently singing and calling me over. It's sexy and alluring. It's a whisper and nothing but an ethereal glimpse in sound and taste and smell and joy of falling in love and surrender.

I am back and I surrender to the whispers. I am writer. 

“Once upon a time...”

(In the midst of that decision, I review unfinished projects that need my attention as well, and I love rediscovering these stories and these characters as they welcome me back into their world.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Calliope will Always Find a Way

I am about to embark on a wonderful adventure. For fifteen weeks, I will be deeply immersed in technical training that will result in at least two professional certifications. I put myself through all sort of fun hurdles to get into this training program because I truly believe at that the end of the process, I will benefit greatly, not only in terms of knowledge but in terms of a day job.

But this blog isn’t about my day job and you wonder why I bother to allow Real Life to intrude here… I’ll tell you why.

As I got deeper into the process to get into the training program, I became hypersensitive to my environment -- partly because my opinion of the Bronx has been tarnished since my last foray into the borough decades ago.

Of course, I am vigilant of my environs whenever I find myself in places I do not know well. You should always have an idea what is happening around you, in case you have to make a quick getaway!

What I saw inspired what has become a series of notes on my iPod to supplement the back story of Love and the Android.

I have a character back story. I have a setting on earth. I have the motivation for my heroine to ascend to the heavens and live there…

And despite the very real, very contemporary setting, I saw the vestiges of it with a futuristic city built upon it – not masking a broken past, but solidifying what was strong about it and taking it to a whole new level.

In short, the Bronx, in a scant few days, has become another character in what will be the Act I of my novella.

A place that inspires the level of euphoric creativity that I have experienced in the last week needs to be reconsidered and forgiven for its past sins.

The reason I bring up Real Life here is because the Muse found a way to squeeze past all the vicissitudes and create fiction that sticks to the page.

This is exactly the point I had been trying to make earlier. Don’t despair when the Muse falls silent for a moment, she is looking out for you. Relax and let her do her thing. When she is refueled, Calliope will whisper the most wonderful things in your inner ear.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Writer's Block Isn't

Somehow I have been extremely lucky in the last two years and any time I found myself stuck in park and unable to propel a story forward, others manifested themselves and I was in a perpetual state of creative fusion and fission.

This is what allowed me to put together a back catalogue.

I allowed the writing to come to a halt because my priorities had to change as Real Life needed to take precedence for a bit.

For whatever reason, I’ve picked up my mechanical pencil and started writing during breaks. I never regretted putting May You Grow Old and Fat aside because I understand that trying to force a story never works.

When you try to manipulate output for no other purpose than to be done, only horrific things can happen… For one thing, your characters lose their voice and the narrative thread unravels.

But when a character drives the action forward and you hear their voice, you must answer by documenting what they are telling you. Right now, a scene I was not anticipating has opened up before me and added an additional dimension I had not planned. A character whom I thought was central to the story has taken a journey that surprised me. Shocked me even! A character I thought of simply as an accessory has suddenly turned into a catalyst for change.

At the same time, a few days ago as I walked to the train station a funny story insinuated itself into my psyche and by the time I was downstairs in the subway, I’d drafted a synopsis that I believe will be the next NaNoWriMo project. I have two choices now: the android story that explores sexuality and artificial intelligence in space or the story of a woman possessed by a pair of stilettos bought at a thrift store that present her with superpowers and an interesting set of problems. One is humorous. Maybe they both are . . . I don’t know yet.

The fact is I need more laughs because there has been too much drama and too many tears shed lately. But ultimately what I wanted to say was this:

  1. Never rush creativity, trust your inner voice to find its way in and out of story.
  2. Be patient because this small virtue will reward you with magnificent surprises that spring forth even more creativity.
  3. Do not despair when the voices of your characters are muted because you must focus on priorities – this will make you stronger and it will show in your writing when you return to it.
  4. Never, ever, assume the Muse has left you. Even a Muse needs to rest sometimes. She’ll come back, you just have to be alert and recognize her when she comes back to you.
This experiment has not disappointed me yet and it keeps getting more and more interesting. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

Writer's block often isn't, it's just a necessary break to gather impulse.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Touch of Reality

One of the advantages of self-publishing is that you get to call your own production schedule. You decide when and how to market and promote and how often to release titles.

I seem to be stuck on park and this creative car is not going anywhere at the moment.

This doesn’t mean that because I have not been writing that I am been completely idle. I have been gathering research materials for one project and slowly working towards a translation of another.

Of course, it occurred to me as I gently evoked a scene I’d witnessed – that must become a scene of something, a short or a larger work that is as yet undefined – that being stuck in a rut depends on the living situation. I am living in limbo, surrounded by uncertainty, and that is what fuels creativity (the living, I mean).

I walked about a mile last Friday, something I have not done in quite some time. In that stroll I caught smells and sights and three weather changes that made me hyper-vigilant of the details that framed the experience.

When I sat at the crack of dawn, with iPod in hand, and dictated the story, it occurred to me that only in this specific time would it be possible to carry an enormous library in a device that weights less than a pound, including audiobooks, my own works and now files for new works – I can research in this tiny thing and even edit as I wish.

But there was another realization made a week ago as I interviewed for a very interesting job: if I have to rearrange my priorities because my schedule changes, it just means that the next project that gets released may well be the Latin American cookbook! (Especially because the job is physically just blocks from Little Brazil and I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to research that cuisine… Oh, the things I am willing to do for my art!)

There is no lose feature to this, it’s all win-win.

Self-publishing makes me a better person because it allows me to look at any situation, reach a compromise or a new commitment that always opens the door to the silver lining in every opportunity that presents itself.

 Life is a tool for creativity. So is the iPod Touch!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Watching NASA-TV is Research

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am listening to the kids racing up and down the block – frolicking is evident as merry squealing and giggling appears to accompany the running. The English bulldog, half deaf and half blind as he is, barks as they dare run through his gate and disharmonize his turf.

In the kitchen, Mom is making a giant apple pancake and in the bedroom, I sit back and watch NASA-TV on my big screen. Thankfully the budget crunch has not completely eliminated the streaming of some of NASA’s programming.

I’m watching the Antares rocket launch. Of course, under normal circumstances I’d watch the opening of a soda can if NASA was involved – I am a space agency groupie and have always been!

I am watching this launch though for research, though.

I may not be writing at the moment (distracted by regular life slapping me around). I can, however, still perform other activities to support my writing… The story for Love and the Android will require a thorough understanding of commercial payloads making their way to the ISS, where our protagonist lives.


I have drafted scenes for a couple of the ongoing projects, though none have been fleshed out yet. I’m trying to get through this moment as unscathed as possible (and, if not, take notes for later). The important thing here is that writing and servicing these stories is never too far from my mind. It’s the best I can do until life straightens itself out at my end.

I wonder if this will eventually turn into a celebration of Kubrick, a sort of Eyes Wide Shut meets 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Whatever the case, I like the idea of the story developing in the same way I may put together a stew: I know the elements that I want in it and I am tweaking the condiments and adjusting the quantities.

The question, I suppose, is how I’ll ultimately describe images that are already embedded in people’s minds. Then it occurs to me, not everyone is a NASA Junkie – so that describing launch images can become a challenge in itself.

Non-science geeks always complain that they find the long silent bits in 2001 “boring” and my goal would be to recreate those, in writing, but make it interesting (if not downright exciting). 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Veronica Mars Spells Progress

Last month, a Kickstarter project went up to fund Veronica Mars movie. There was plenty of eye-rolling and derision (“RLY? Who asked for this?” “Veronica Who?!”)

In five hours, fans had pledged $1 million (half of the projected budget). The project page just closed about half an hour ago from the time I write this and they’d collected almost $6 million from over 91,000 backers.

This ought to be quite an education to network executives (those willing to learn and those not living in a bubble). Yes, the show had a relatively small audience but that small audience can drop $5.7 million for a movie the studio would have never greenlit.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo have given power back to the content creators and fans, and this will revolutionize the way people consume their art and entertainment. It has already changed things, but big business has taken little notice…

The news of the Veronica Mars movie project will put a giant magnifying glass over this trend because of the amount of money raised.

Combined with the final take (box office, if released wide), DVD-sales and streaming distribution, and promotional sales this will likely become a profitable endeavor. Soon the studios will be used mainly for distribution deals, and if a streaming world that is not even needed for all projects.

This is putting ideas in my head and I am thinking of scripting short animated pieces to match the stories on Because She Was a Woman, for instance. It democratizes the delivery of art and entertainment by attracting the people sooner into the process. Everyone can become a patron and it is neither prostitution nor content creation by committee – there is no need for the creator to compromise her vision.

I keep seeing new media jobs going to entry level prospects because the old guard, not knowing what knowledge is needed, rely on the idea that kids can figure it out and they won’t have to pay them a king’s ransom for their service. I believe they also feel that they can train these young ’uns into doing business as usual – which completely misses the point.

All this does is delay progress by slowly adopting new technologies but adhering to marketing strategies that have yet to catch up and in doing so adding poorly scripted analyses and showing no to little profit in adopting new ways. It’s a vicious cycle!

Some book projects have been created this way and I predict that authors will soon take over auxiliary projects by repurposing their own writing (short films, music, graphic novels, based on their writings).

Will we all command a $5.7 million payday to create our content? Probably not, but it frees us to dream and propose the dream to others who may partake in sharing that dream. It evens the odds for the truly talented. This is a very good thing indeed, don’t you think?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Por Ser Mujer: en español

I’m slow on the intake, as it were. Creatively speaking, I seem to be hovering over ideas but not executing. I wouldn’t call this a period of writer’s block so much as a break.

Stress and real life issues get in the way, and this is a real test but not one I’m willing to take sitting down.

Instead of waiting for it to go away (it will not), the next project simply suggested itself. How Nadine and Libby Escaped Destiny was born during March Madness, and from it came its Big Sister: Because She Was a Woman.

If I can’t take a stand to finish ongoing projects, then I can do the next best thing (which I intended to do anyway): translate BSWaW into Spanish.

The Spanish version will differ only in that the last story (The Last “It” Couple) may not make the final product and might be replaced with a story I rejected for the original book – not because its quality was subpar but because it was too painful to read and reread.

Of course, this translation will be different from the other two because even when I was translating dreams or fictionalized accounts of life, the words conveyed facts; whereas this tome, tentatively tiled Por Ser Mujer will be all fiction. I can allow some poetic license and even change a few details to suit the translation.

Is this cheating? It might be, but then the audience for the Spanish versions is likely to be different to those who read the English versions.

It gives me something to do (and don’t think this is a simple thing, you are likely to agonize over words in as much the same way as when you are creating the work). This is an act of recreation and, yet, it is also a transformation. You have to strike a delicate balance so that you don’t effect change so striking that you end up with a whole new story. Also, you do not want to make changes that will affect the characters and their motivations.

Ridiculously enough, in some instances it feels perfectly okay to change the characters’ names and give them Spanish names, but in other cases it seems like absolute sacrilege: it’s all in the balance.

Ultimately, it might take a few months to release Por Ser Mujer—if for no other reason than making sure it doesn’t read too choppily in translation. But life, in all its tribulations, will not prevent me from getting it done. Life may put hurdles in my way, but I dictate how the race goes.

Any comments on the two covers?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Marketing Images

My mind has been occupied with real life concerns. The writing has suffered. I am not hopelessly blocked, but the output has been more akin to a trickle than a deluge of words.

The consolation comes in the form of tiny royalty returns that remind me that this dream is possible because some readers find the idea of reading my work fun, intriguing, pleasant, or at least worth the money and time.

It’s hard to focus when things are not going your way, though there is the whole struggling artist mystique… Of course, a bohemian existence sounds very romantic on paper as long as you poetically disguise that it is not much more than trying to decide which bill doesn’t get paid this month while wishing you could afford better booze to get through it.

If I can’t write to close out stories and put more books out to catalogue, at least I need to concentrate a bit of effort on marketing and the goal is to have at least one or two images for each title before week’s end.

I started the ball rolling with a poster for Justified that seems tailor-made for a Twitter world. I'm not entirely sure that they are all equally good or that they all convey the same level of enthusiasm or "talent" -- but if any of these speak more to you than others, please let me know. 

At any rate, these are the flyers I drafted today. Whattathink?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Program Notes

A few program notes, as it were. The back catalogue/online portal has changed URL to An international committee of lovely investors gave me a hand in purchasing the domain name and giving a cohesive persona to my self-publishing endeavor.

Writing on May You Grow Old and Fat has halted for the time being, as I try to decide the fate of a few characters – each alternative moves the story forward differently. Each ending, for its part, proposes distinctly different morals to the story.

No writing has begun on the new projects suggested earlier, although a placeholder cover for Love and the Android was uploaded to the Hopper page at the portal. The catalogue description reads: “A study in loneliness and sexuality, a compendium on the civil rights of artificial intelligence, and life in space… [It] will explore the ethics and consequences of using artificial intelligence as surrogates in a not-so-distant future.”

My favorite discussion of this included a comment from a friend whom is concerned the image speaks more of horror than sci-fi (in his opinion). My reply was that the only difference between romance and horror was "the tone of the screams involved." If I can maintain that level of humor as I write it, there is hope for this project!

Research for that is ongoing and right now I know of two main characters and the android. I have not done character studies yet, but I have very specific archetypes in mind. It is imperative that these characters stand on their own as three-dimensional people, if flawed, because otherwise the story is useless.

The bigger challenge, I think, will be trying to depict the loneliness of living in space without making it boring—and without making it sound like a 2001 rip-off, though any comparison to Arthur C. Clarke would be a cause for joy.

I’m also wondering if the project will benefit from a short story treatment rather than a narrative that has a linear thread from beginning, middle, and end. I haven’t decided this and it can wait…
For those of you who have been with me for some time, you realize that I detest February with a passion – and this year it promises to be crueler than usual – so instead of new projects, I will begin transcribing the six or seven chapters I wrote longhand for Poetic Justice. There remain at least three more chapters and assorted details of cultural relativism to sprinkle across the pages, but it will bring me closer to the conclusion.

Real Life concerns will probably derail any plans I make, so instead I make notes until I can peacefully devote life and love to it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fun Things to Come

Happy New Year from the Big Apple!

I’ve allowed several distractions to keep me from writing and the business of being a writer. To be fair, some distractions can be defined as Real Life Concerns and should not be ignored – though they tend to harsh my writer’s mellow…

Then again, one of my superpowers is the ability to give up vices without a second thought. I gave up recreational fun substances, alcohol, strange men, and even smoking without any bellyaching. The time came to put those things aside, and that was that!

Just as well, I decided it was time to stop playing around – and it is granted that some of those concerns will have to be addressed but without interfering with my writing. I will have none of that.

To that end, I finished a chapter of the NaNoWriMo novel and began a new chapter that brings the story closer to a climax.

Recently I’ve become curious about robot rights and sexuality and it may result in a novella, though I am not entirely sure where that is going just yet. I know there is a woman manning a space station and I am not yet sure whether it will be a study in loneliness, a study in sexuality, or a compendium on the civil rights of artificial intelligence… It ain’t gonna be 50 Shades of I, Robot!

There are still two other titles that need to be released: a crime novella set in a speculative political reality and one of the books in the steampunk series that introduces the alternate universe.

There is real life drama and humiliation, misery and frailty to be observed in the next few weeks that will surely become part of the journals that will soon make their way to another collection of stories. I may not be looking forward to the experience on a personal level but appreciate the opportunity for new material and hands-on research. (Things are about to get very real at my end, but as long as I can grab on to a silver lining, I know I will survive.)

While I am very happy to get back to work, I also realize that I need to sit down and work out a plan for the year – including a marketing plan (which I’ve been neglecting lately, despite growing sales in India, Brazil and Mexico).

I am thinking that I ought to do another short story collection, a sister companion to Because She Was a Woman. The first collection revolved around women and I was wondering if the second ought to revolve around something like a house, a locale, apiece of music, a dish…

What do you guys think?