Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Read Horror and Survive Unscathed

Lately life hasn't gone quite as I wanted to. Things aren't bad, per se, though today is a big day for my family and, depending on the outcome, it'll mean if all this mess was worth it or not. I'm in for a super happy year, or a super depressing month...

Anyway, nothing like a little of humor to lighten the spirit, right? So, it was with this in mind that I wrote the following rules on How to Read a Horror Novel and Survive Unscathed. Now, unscathed may not be a realistic expectation. Every good horror author would hate to know you are not sleeping with your lights on after reading their work, but we'll shoot for nightmare-clear nights. Okay? Then, fasten your seat belts 'cause here we go.

General Amusement Safety Tips When Reading a Horror 

  • Read posted rules thoroughly and follow all restrictions issued by ride's operator (read author).
  • Keep all body parts (hands, arms, legs, long hair, etc.) inside ride at all times. If you have long hair, put it up. Ride's operator is not responsible for feelings of being observed, getting the heebie-jeebies, or getting your hair pulled by an unseen hand.
  • Always use safety equipment (sign of the cross, praying of your selection, rent a comedy to watch before bedtime). Safety equipment not provided by ride's operator.
  • Hold onto hand rails (read comic relief/romance scenes). These are part of the safety equipment designed to keep you from flipping out, and the appointed moment to go grab a sandwich.
  • Remain in the ride until it comes to a full stop at the unloading point. If a ride stops temporarily due to mechanical failure, say a blackout, do not panic. Stay seated and wait for the lights to come up again. It's not like a monster is living under your bed. Though I would keep my feet inside the covers.
  • Stop riding before you get excessively tired to avoid nightmares. Then come back first thing in the morning.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Hallucinations have an acute murderous tendency when under the influence of horror.
  • Participate responsibly; you should be in good health to ride safely. If you suspect your health could be at risk or aggravated by riding, DO NOT READ!

I hope you have as much fun reading these as I had writing them. Remember, horror is safe, as long as you don't read out loud those incantations.

Now, go read something!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Beginning

It's been quite some time since I shared with you where I'm standing at in my career as a writer, but I'm here to change that. For a little over a year, I've been very focused on writing short stories. My idea was to gain knowledge of how the industry works, and of my own creative process before tackling the mammoth task of wringing a novel.

Up to two weeks ago, I felt my efforts had given very few results and, given my very hectic, unpredictable life, I hadn't really accomplished much. I refused to start writing a new novel or revisit my research for my first project because of this, and I felt very disillusioned. But upon further analysis I came to realize that through all this time I've been writing many stories that I've posted in here, more than ten, that is. I just use this blog to let my thoughts flow and didn't consider it like 'writing' though it is!

So, with this in mind, I've decided to polish up each and everyone of the stories I've shared with you and then try to find a proper home for them. In the mean time, I'm already submitting FEAST DAY and I'll take the jump, trying to follow my heart into a new story that could be my first Mystery/Suspense, and maybe, my pass to get into the big leagues. A girl can dream, right?

This is how it happened. My husband was recently transferred to Connecticut from Montreal and we've been driving up and down for almost a month, now. It's a six hours drive that feels like a hundred. My husband is the one that drives, so the girls play in the back, draw, watch movies, and fight. You know, just generally annoy us the whole time. For me, I love to spin stories in my mind while watching through the window, observing the landscape and trying to imagine how people live in those pretty, and not so pretty, houses that line the highway.

During our most recent trip, and hopefully the last one, we took a different route and wound up in a very solitary road. Most houses were quite far one from the other and surrounded by heavily wooded areas. From our spot on the road, I saw a small cemetery plot with just four markers. The tombstones were very old, clear by the greenish tones of the stone and by the fact that none of them stood straight, but inclined in every which way. The plot was fenced with a black iron rod, the kind you see in the museums to stop people from getting too close to the art, and across a few yards from it stood a classic English colonial house.

It just hit me. An idea so strong and clear it can only be called a vision filled my mind. I had to get it on paper, so right there and then, I grabbed my handy dandy iPad and stroked with passion. Blessed be the person who created the Pages app.

This time, the creative juices are flowing in a different way, though. I usually start with a final scene clear in my mind and work my way back to the beginning. With this story, I have a clear understanding of the characters, the main story, and the back story, but that's it. That was ok when I began pounding the keyboard because I was thinking about a short story, but there's so much more I can tell, so many places it could go; I feel compelled to make it a novel.

I think it is time for me to move forward, to a territory where I don't feel as comfortable and it's kinda scary, to be truthful. I'm worried and nervous, not knowing which is the best approach, and riddled of self-doubt.

I know I will succeed and I know this can be a great novel. I just have to find the courage to begin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

When I started this blog in late 2009, I had no idea of what I was going to write about or if someone might be interested in reading. I started, nonetheless. Since then I've learned a lot, I've become a true fan of many other blogs, and I've worked very hard to build this place as a blog where other authors can get interesting advise, share their own ideas and problems, and readers can find all kinds of stories and news from their favorite authors.

I wouldn't say, by all means, that the site is exactly where I want it to be, nor I am done learning all there is to know about blogging or writing. It is all a process but when you receive the acknowledgement from exactly those you were thinking about when creating something, it's always a sweet moment and a sign that you must be doing something right.

A week ago I received the wonderful news that this blog was the proud recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award. I feel very happy and inspired to keep moving forward and grow in which ever direction life takes me. Now, it's time to tell you about the rules of the award.

Thank and link to the blogger who bestowed the award.
Share seven random facts about yourself.
Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers.

In my case, I sincerely thank Roberta Goodman and her inspiring blog Ro-alwaysinspired for thinking about me and making the start of my 2012 all the more positive. You have to check down her place. Awesome!

Now, about selecting just five deserving blogs... it was a hard call but, alas, here are my five:

  • The Krazy Book Lady blog by Tami for all its great reviews, initiatives, and interviews.
  • The Christopher Godsoe blog for his awesome writerly advise and reviews.
  • The D. Robert Pease blog for always having something new and interesting for young readers.
  • The DL Fowler blog for having such a great mix of inspiring advise, excellent reviews, and engrossing historic facts.
  • The Axel Howerton blog for always creeping me out with terrifying stories, new reads, and just all around hair-raising content.

 And finally, seven random facts about myself:

1. I have two daughters whom I adore. They revealed to me my true vocation: Being a mother. Everything falls behind it. Even writing.

2. I'm terrified of spiders and that is the only fear I won't be exploring in my books. Ever.

3. All of my books and stories are interconnected by a character they have in common, the name of the town, or some other small detail that I leave as a clue.

4. I love traveling, small quaint towns are my favorite. I hope one day I'll have visited at least one or two towns per state in Mexico, and when I'm older and richer, I'll go around the world.

5. As a child, I lived in Madrid for a year. I attended school there, second grade, and being introduced to medieval European literature at that early age had a lasting effect on me. That's when books became a works of art in my mind.

6. I used to terrorize one of my mother's sisters by spinning tales about my neighbors, who made lots of noise at night but were really quiet during the day. I'd tell her they were vampires and fed on young children and homeless people. She hated staying overnight. =)

7. I always start imaging a story from the ending and then work backwards. When I'm finally ready to write, I'll have a general idea of how it'll begin, but I have it clear how it'll end.

Well boys and girls, I hope you take a look at those amazing blogs I mentioned before, you never know what you might find. Thanks for sticking up with me and this crazy trip I call life, you've made it a lot more interesting and complete. Will be seeing you soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why do I Blog and Why You Might Want to Think About It Again

Well, happy New Year to you, too!

I hope you had a chance to get party out of your system, had a great time doing so, and that 2012 brings lots of awesome twists for you and yours.

As for me, 2012 started in a complicated but very positive note with many changes going on in my life right now, but like every year, when I think about what might await me down the road, I see a very promising year, though on a very different stroke than last year. In my career, I'd call 2011 the year of the written word, and for 2012 I foresee a year seriously dedicated to the electronic word and social media.

It was about this time of year on 2011 when I first realized my debut novel would be published and I jumped out of bed, half crazed with joy. Very soon after that, it became clear to me that just because there is a book with my name on it, it doesn't mean anyone knows anything about it or about me. I wasn't going to fly to the top of the Bestseller's List. The obvious next question was: What can I do to help change that?

I read every article that crossed my path, printed or on the Internet, and here's were things got complicated. I found a huge argument between the two strongest game plans. A big group of people say that the best way to get your name to consumers is to hit the road. Based on their experiences, going to as many book fairs, conventions, libraries, and any other personal appearances as you can cram into your schedule is a slow but safe bet. You know, let your work speak for you.

The other half argues that given the nature of social media, it can represent a great asset as a promoting tool. Based on their experience, social media is the secret weapon that'll give your career a head-start.

So, what to do?

Like many others before me, I decided in favor of the electronic world and, reluctantly, started to build my social e-life. It was hard for me to feel comfortable spilling my guts in such an impersonal media, but eventually found my way. I still refuse to open a Twitter account but I have to own up to a decently active Facebook page, Book Blogs, and Goodreads accounts. I'm experimenting with Shelfari, and my blog has grown up to have more than a hundred followers and being the proud recipient of two awards, the latest of them being the Versatile Blog Award. The cherry on top of my very busy e-life is my most recent endeavor as a book reviewer for Dark River Press.

To say I spend at least 60% of my writing time connected to the internet might be an understatement. It has been a long road built on arduous, albeit fulfilling, work. Has it done anything to help me reach a bestselling status? No. Would I do it all over again? Hell yes! You see, I've connected with many great authors that have taught me valuable lessons and I have now a richer and broader group to reach to when in need of advise and/or --God forbid-- help.

If you are a writer pondering the existential question of weather investing so much time and effort on the net is worth it, my advise to you would be to do it only if what you are expecting from it is to branch out and find others like you. I don't think that social media alone has the power to make your sales soar, or to take you out of the darkness of being an unknown.

In my experience, which admittedly is limited, if you want to connect with readers, you are better off going to book fairs and personal presentations of every kind. At some point I will definitively start to sell my work wherever they accept having me and I'll let you know how that goes; until then I can only speak as a reader. I feel much more inclined to try the work of an author that I feel I have a connection with, like meeting him in a convention and crossing a word or two with him/her. If he/she is particularly nice, I might even recommend his work before I ever read a word of his/her book.

Since the Insecure Writer's Support Group is all about advise, I hope you find this advise helpful. And talking about helpful... I also hope you find it in your heart to vote for Dark River Press Magazine in the Preditors and Editors Readers Polls; following are the links to the categories we'd love to win the most. If you do decide to vote, you'll receive an email that you have to open and click on the link there in order to confirm your vote, otherwise it won't count. Five minutes can mean the world to us, thanks so much in advance.

You see? Told you the net had its perks. =)

Happy 2012! And remember to visit all the other blogs part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to get more awesome advise.

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