Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spooky Images to Spark the Imagination

As a horror lover, I'm fascinated by the idea of ghosts coexisting with us. The shadow I just caught moving on my peripheral vision, was it my imagination? A ghost maybe? That unnatural sound that echoed through the house at midnight, the dog barking when no one's around... During my teenage years my answer to every one of those questions would've been a ghost.

These days my desire to experience a paranormal event is nonexistent, but my interest in them hasn't decreased. Videos and pictures hold a special place in my heart. A few hours of indulging can leave me hiding under my bed in fetal position. But I'm no fool, I know some of those--too many--are fakes. A few times, though, the evidence shines with the possibility of truth.

I've visited several reputedly haunted places, only once in the company of ghost hunters, yet I have never managed to capture a ghostly image, nor I have been there when someone else does. Maybe someday I will. I hope not. For a horror writer, I'm quite a scaredy-cat.

Here I share with you my favorite pictures, the ones that gave me shivers; maybe tonight I'll have nightmares. No big monsters here, nor blood or gore. It is subtlety that makes these pics so unnerving.

This is a picture of a burning building. The girl you see there supposedly died in it. 

I don't really know the story behind this, but it is the image I'll remember the next time I go camping. *shivers*

A car accident on the Philippines where several people died. This picture was reputedly taken by one of the witnesses and only later the 'thing' under the bridge was discovered. A demon?

This one doesn't need a backstory. It's freaky as hell no matter what.

And this is why I won't get into a coffin until I actually need one.

So, what do you think? If you have a ghostly experience of your own or a pic that has troubled you some, please share. In the meantime, have sweet dreams!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG December

Well, hello there insecure writer fellow! Hope December finds you well and your fingers tired of bangin' that keyboard. Lately, I haven't been as riddled with insecurities since I've been blessed to a very positive second half of the year. Oh, I know they're there, waiting to jump on me at the first sight of trouble. But I'll have you, then. Right?  =)

Anyway, so I'm considering to start actively searching for an agent. It is a big endeavor. Oh, you see? My insecurities just flashed me a big smile from the dark corner, over there. (Shoo! Go away, now! She whispers.)

I know some of you have agents and I'm wondering how's your experience been. I don't mean if you get along with your agent, which I think is a basic, but in your experience getting published. Has having an agent opened doors for you? Does it make it any easier to get published? Would you recommend an already traditionally published author to get an agent as the next step? I'm just very curious about the whole thing, so just tell me about your experiences. Why you love your agent, or why you hate him/her. I'd like to hear the good and the bad, that way I won't expect rainbows when there will be storms.

As always, thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for making all this possible. Check the IWSG list of participating blogs here, or like their Facebook page.

Have a great Holiday Season, gang, and kick 2013 off in the best way possible. See ya in 2014!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Being Thankful

Source: Forgotten Love by Marcus Quigmire
Death affects me very deeply. I know, who is left without tears upon the death of someone close, right? It's human nature. You may shed tears, you may carry the scars on the inside, but we are all affected by the loss of life.

And then, there's me. . .

When I was in high school, a girl I disliked very much came to school crying. A friend of hers had died the previous night in an accident. I overheard her telling the story and I cried with her. We became close friends after that. That's the kind of person I am, I take death too hard. My family never shares those kinds of news with me unless they're right there to see me through. But just as I become depressed and saddened, I find a way to ease my pain. I like to pay some form of tribute to the deceased; then, with time, the sadness fades.

Death has twice changed me profoundly, affecting the way I live my life, but I won't go into details; at least not today. Today, I want to share with you a third occurrence that, in similar fashion to my high school story, has brought me a present.

About three years ago, I received news of the passing of a close uncle. He'd been sick for a very long time so it wasn't a surprise, maybe even a blessing. As always, I was left with a profound melancholy. As a way to work through the dark moments, and because I hadn't been able to say goodbye, I wrote a piece of flash fiction. Three paragraphs that acknowledged his suffering, a small token that said: I won't forget. When the pain went away, I worked on the piece. I edited and added details, some fictional, but always thinking of him. The story is called IN THE END. Today I signed a contract with Dark Moon Books; the story will be part of Dark Moon Digest, issue 14.

I am very happy, also thankful. I can't stop thinking this comes from him. My promise stands; I won't forget, his memory won't fade away. And now, he lives on in a piece of paper within the infinite confines of the written word.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Learning the Craft from the best: Ray Bradbury

All those who follow this blog know I'm an uneducated writer. By this I mean I majored in an unrelated area to Literature/Creative Writing/English. I do, however, believe in the power of education, and I do my best to learn from wherever I can. Hence my Creative Writing classes at my local college, and my stalking of writers that have the knowledge I crave. No body has complained so far. I guess we writers understand the need for an intensive study of personality...

Anyway, I've debated for a long time the pros and cons of going back to college and getting a Creative Writing Masters. On one side, I'm a mom of two and don't really have the kind of time I had at say, sixteen. I also don't know how much my career would benefit from it. I know I would be a better writer, but I don't think a diploma will get me any closer to a Big-Six-contract.

Anyhow, I know among you are those who belong to either side of this metaphorical fence. I would love to get your thoughts. Is it worth the time and effort? Or are the other ways (like informal classes and mentoring programs) to get the same knowledge just as effective?

Anywhoo, on a related note... A few days ago, Tim Waggoner (an excellent, successful speculative fiction writer, and Creative Writing teacher) shared on the internet the most fascinating story. It is a short story by the master Ray Bradbury, and it has no characters. At all. At least not in any way we are familiar.

THERE WILL COME SOFT RAIN is clearly Experimental Fiction, but unlike many other experimental pieces, it is logical, easy to follow, and it makes sense. Bradbury's rich vocabulary and expert weaving abilities conveys a complex story where there's no one left to tell it. A true delight for readers and writers alike.

Here, I share with you a version read by Burgess Meredith. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Hunger Games: Last Words

A long time ago I wrote a review of each book of the The Hunger Games saga. I also promised I would write a new post where everyone would be able to talk about every detail of the books openly. I know, I'm a slacker, but with the second movie about to open in theaters, I thought this to be as good time as ever.

So, readers beware: This is an open discussion about the saga, characters, and important plot points. All is fair here; we can talk spoilers all day long and enjoy getting out of our systems the nitty-gritty stuff about Katniss, Peeta, Collins, and The Hunger Games. If you are looking for a review of the saga without spoilers, click here, here, and here.

Now, let the Hunger Games discussion begin!

Out of the three books, the one I least enjoyed was the third. Not only we have Katniss hiding in closets for one third of the story (at least), but then Collins deals a terrible twist to Peeta that just ruins him. Prim dies--WTF! So all this for nothing!--and then there's the final chapter... But let's start slow.

How about your favorite character? From previous comments on my other posts, I gather Peeta is a fan favorite. He is the most likable of the whole, and the true hero of the story. Such a sweet boy that pays a high price for his closeness to Katniss. I could not stand to see him turned into a mutt. I confess I did not see that twist coming, him turned into a weapon against Katniss, and it broke my heart because I knew he could never recover from something like that. They damaged him for good and there's no turning back from it.

Prim's death is another horrible blow and makes the story go from sad to depressing. However, I got it. I may not have liked where the story was going, but I understood what Collins was doing. She was following the turn of events to their worst possible conclusion. She was also making a brave statement about war and violence without being preachy and I admired her for that. And then came the last chapter.

For me, that denouement was Collins attempt at bringing a peaceful and somewhat happy conclusion to the story. Through her treatment of the characters, it is clear that she feels bad for the damaged youths, but it is truly in that trying to fix things that she betrays the spirit of her own books. Like so many before her, Collins was unable to kill her darlings. She chose to write about an ugly reality without making it pretty, just to try and do just that with the ending. I mean, Katniss recovering from her crazy period to go on and have a family of her own. After killing the true head of the revolution. Really? In what messed up reality would such an act be pardoned 'due to reason of insanity'? Does Collins know the Che Guevara story?

Anyway, in my opinion the author was very conflicted about the kind of story she wanted and the story it turned out to be. But my biggest disagreement would be with all the fans out there who don't get tired of saying that Katniss is a strong leading role. Are you kidding me? She's manipulated throughout the whole story by anyone who knows a bit more than her. From Haymitch to Snow, passing through every other character in the books, even Peeta at some point. Everyone knows what they're doing and how to accomplish it except her. Sure, she knows how to shoot an arrow, but she lacks the confidence to take control of her life. And let's not even talk about how she does nothing but be the vulnerable, broken youngster incapable of taking care of herself for most of the third book. So annoying!

The quality of the books is not an issue at all. Collins is a good writer and the story--however annoying or incongruent--never fails to be interesting. She also managed to surprised me at least once per book, and I have to tell you: It doesn't happen that often. So, in case anyone reading this feels affronted by my comments, understand that this is simply my opinion. I'm not judging the writer herself, or her ability to write. I'm simply stating the plot points I feel missed the mark and let me down. We are all entitled to our own opinions and I'll be happy to receive all your comment as long as you are polite.

Now go ahead and shoot.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Coffin Hop Winners and IWSG

I want to start by thanking the amazing people who make possible the Coffin Hop: Axel Howerton and Julie Jansen. Their dedication to organizing and visiting everyone's blog shows in the success of the hop, year after year. To all of those who participated, reading your entries was a lot of fun, and the prizes were awesome. And finally, to all of you who kept coming back to read and comment, I owe you a debt of gratitude I cannot pay. I HAD A BLAST and hop you feel the same.

So, the winner of a digital copy of DEATH BY DRIVE-IN, the Coffin Hop anthology, is:


Please, leave your email in the comment section so we can get in contact to send you the file.

And like that October is gone and November is here. The year is coming to an end, can you believe it? For the penultimate Insecure Writers' Support meeting I don't have a sad story or a personal moment of self doubt. Instead I want to direct a message to all IWSGs participating in NaNoWriMo this year:

Source: Terrible Minds

Because I value my sanity and my marriage, I don't participate in NaNo. One day the girls will be grown up and I won't have PTO meetings, Girl Scouts duty, soccer, or swimming. Then I'll pound the heck off my computer keys and join you in the fun. But in the meantime, I'll live vicariously through you. 

Keep writing, guys. Don't worry about good writing, just write. You'll edit tomorrow. Go you!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

B-Movie Coolness

So Halloween is finally here and, as every year, I'm torn. I'm happy because I love going trick or treat, I also love the amount of movies I can watch on TV, but I'm sad that it has gone so fast! So, to go with a bang, the prize today will be a digital copy of the Coffin Hop anthology: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN. It is fantastic, and I'm sure who ever the lucky winner is, he/she will enjoy it. I'll announce the winner on Monday, so there's a chance for more people to participate.

But first, though, I must announce tuesday's winner. Drum roll, please... The winner of a 1st edition, signed PERPETUAL NIGHT paperback copy is:


Now, todays theme is: B-Horror movies, of course!

Tell me which was the B-horror movie that scared you the most. Does it still scare you? 

In 1986, I was a young kid--and admittedly a bit of a wuss--when my father's younger brother brought home a movie to watch. It's called The Creeps, and it gave me plenty sleepless nights. In fact, this was the flick that started my love/hate relationship with zombies. Don't ask. It's complicated. For one, they are a bit self-involved, but they are soooo driven!

Anyway, here you have the trailer for this jewel of the 80s. Now, tell me it doesn't sound awful-ly good?


Monday, October 28, 2013

History and Symbols in Dreams

Well, thank you all for your comments and interesting thoughts on our different places in history and how certain things can redefine our perception of what is truly important. Now, as I promised, I'll reveal the winner. The person who will take a digital copy of the GOTHIC BLUE BOOK III: THE GRAVEYARD EDITION is... *cue drumroll*

Lori Parker !!!!

I'll be contacting you within 24 hours to get you your prize. Congrats!

Now, back to our scheduled post. Today I'm also being hosted on M.C.V. Egan's A Day in the Spotlight where an excerpt from PERPETUAL NIGHT will be highlighted; so go ahead, check it out. I'll wait for you here.

Ready and spooked? Great!

In the spirit of that excerpt, I've decided to delve into the world of dreams. What do dreams mean? It is a question that has stump humanity for centuries. As far back as 7000 years ago, the Mesopotamians wrote the first compilation of dream symbols and their meanings. They viewed dreams as signs from their Gods and would go to "Dream Priests" to foretell the dreamer's future.

Later on Egyptians wrote their own Dream Book. This ancient culture celebrated rituals, gave sacrifices, and recited prayers in hopes that their dreams would reveal what was to come.

Dreams had a big influence directing the most important decisions of public Greek life, through the Oracle of Delphi, and sometimes even in the military. And even more influential, Hippocrates was the first man of science to associate dreams to physical and mental health.

In Rome, Julius Cesar promulgated an edict that required every citizen who had a dream about the empire to talk about it in the market of their town.

Freud, Jung, Faraday, they all defined in one way or another our present understanding of nighttime visitations. And yet, the definitive answer remains elusive. When you dream of a serial killer that's stalking you, is it caused by watching Halloween one too many times? Or perhaps it is your more deathly side, fighting to be acknowledged?

For a chance to win a signed paperback copy of PERPETUAL NIGHT's first edition, tell me about your most scary dream. If you have ever experienced a prophetic kind of vision, do share! As usual, the winner will be selected randomly and announced in my next post.

Don't forget to visit the rest of the participating Coffin Hop bloggers for more chances to win. Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Haunted Manhattan: The Algonquin Hotel. Coffin Hop 2013

Manhattan has its fair share of old, scary buildings; yet, in this town being old and scary doesn't mean  a place can't be glamorous. The Algonquin Hotel sits in the heart of the city, surrounded by Broadway, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center. Designated as a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust of Historic Preservation, from its earliest days in 1902, The Algonquin has been the preferred meeting site for celebrities and literary masters alike.

By the 1920s a group of literary luminaries met daily for lunch at The Algonquin's Round Table, among them Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin Pierce, Robert Sherwood, Harpo Marx, Alexander Woollcott, Harold Ross, George S. Kauffman, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, and Edna Ferber. This group, known as "The Vicious Circle", cemented the hotel's fame for centuries to come.

As the country sank into the difficult years of the Great Depression, the hotel owner, who'd always had a soft spot for celebrities, let struggling writers eat for free. The rumor got around, and soon big names like William Faulkner were adding to the place's mystique. It is said that Faulkner wrote the first draft of his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech while at the Algonquin.

And so, it is only logical that after so many fates where directed from the tables of the Hotel's restaurant, and so many golden days were spent within its wall, that some of its former visitors decided to stay. Forever.

Reports range from paranormal singing in the elevator, noises of furniture being dragged across the recently renovated room on the 13th floor, sightings of Dorothy Parker in the bar, and ghostly steps on the staircase.

So, what happened to me?

Well, nothing, besides a lovely lunch with my husband. We went there during the summer, enjoying of a rare change to go out by ourselves since the girls were in Mexico with my parents. I insisted on eating at the famous Round Table, asked the waiter about the story of the place, and snooped around.

The Algonquin Hotel is a place steeped in history and I felt a special connection to it since I'm myself a struggling writer. And even though no preternatural figures visited us, we couldn't avoid to feel under the shadow of some of the greatest minds ever.

For a chance to win a copy of DEATH BY DRIVE-IN, the Coffin Hop anthology, tell me about an experience that made you re-evaluate your position in history. The winner will be selected randomly from the comments, and announced here on my next post.

Don't forget to stop by the rest of the participating blogs!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coffin Hop 2013

So here we are again, time for a new Coffin Hop! For those who haven't been here before, this is an amazing even with more than 70 blogs celebrating the spookiest season. On previous years I've gone with real personal ghost stories and a series of themed posts. This year, however, I'm going to take a minimalist approach.

On Halloween day, Burial Day Books will release the GOTHIC BLUE BOOK III: The Graveyard Edition. My story A DIARY OF MADNESS is included, among AUNTIE GRAVE by best-seller author Jessica McHugh, SINS OF OUR MOTHER by Edward J. McFadden, and many more awesome authors.

On top of this radtacular release, the Coffin Hop will also be releasing their own anthology. DEATH BY DRIVE-IN is a collection with 21 of the best and brightest coffin hopers tapping on their scariest B-movie memories. And what's even better: All proceeds will go to to support literature around the globe.

As you see I have plenty of reason to be happy this All Hallows Eve, besides the candy and horror flicks. So, the deal is this: I'll write three posts for the hop, each one will prompt you to comment on the specific theme of the day. One visitors will be selected randomly and announced on the following post. The prizes are a copy of my novel PERPETUAL NIGHT, a copy of the Coffin Hop's anthology, and a surprise book that I'll announce later on (One book for each post/winner).

So boys and girls, drop by as frequently as you can during the next week, enjoy, comment, and maybe win a book!!

Now, remember there are several contests running through out the week, so you might want to visit the rest of the participating blogs. I assure you, you will not leave with empty hands.

Let the fun begin!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Haunted Manhattan: Washington Square Park

This time in the Haunted Manhattan series, we'll talk about a very non-creepy place and I'll do my best to ruin it forever for you. So, I'll considered a job well done if the next time you wander into a tranquil park considering where to have your picnic, you settle for a bench.

Washington Square Park came into existence in the 1820s; but before that, the land was used to entomb the yellow fever victims of the 1700s outbreak. Yep, more than 20,000 corpses still lie under the lush lawn where visitors gather to catch the sun. Digest that.

And now that you have decided to sit on the benches from now on, let me proceed with the story.

The area where the famed parked is now located has always been well liked, and 19th century New Yorkers came to watch people die. Oh yes, you read that right. Back in the 1820s, today's hot spot in popular Greenwich Village was a public gallows and execution site. And you can never be sure which trees they used...

And just because there is no better place to build a gathering site for the well-to-do than a Potter's field-turned-public-gallows, in 1826 the city leveled the ground and laid the square, turning it into the Washington Military Parade Ground. Only four years later, the streets surrounding the square became some of the most desirable areas to live (How could they not!), and the rest is history...

So, yeah, I'd think twice before telling my friends I just want to "hang" in the park.

Sweet dreams, my friends!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Can Bad Writers Get Better?

Like so many fellow writers, I strive to become better at my trade all the time. I'm always reading things and surrounding myself with people that will teach me new tricks. At this stage of my career, this is easy. Almost anyone knows more than I do and that's why it is so much fun to read other's blogs, participate in critique groups, attend Creative Writing classes, and simply hang out with people. Of course reading is one the most important tools to teach us the do's and don't's of writing.

In our never-ending quest, thousands of writers around the world have read Stephen King's On Writing. It is an excellent book that isn't scholarly but above the Writing for Dummy kind of books. However, there is a section in it that truly disturbed me. Mr. King classifies writers in the following range:

Bad Writers
Competent Writers
Good Writers
Great Writers
Genius Freaks

The classification is pretty easy to understand. We all know we are no Shakespeare or Faulkner, and we'll never be. Geniuses are born, never made. However, he contents that Bad Writers can never grow to become Competent Writers, and Good writers will never achieve Great Writer status. It is only possible, with huge amounts of work, dedication, and timely help, to make a Good Writer out of a merely Competent one.

Well, then I guess we know now why most kids in the King household are writers. When they came home from school saying math was just too difficult, their father must've said "Oh, foggedabouit!"

I say bullshit.

I believe that with determination and hard work, we can always improve. No matter how bad a writer, mathematician, or coroner you are. If you bust your ass off, you'll improve. I get that bad will hardly ever turn into great, but why discourage people? No, I refuse.

To all my IWSG inky cohorts, I tell you that to become a Better Writer, first you have to acknowledge your flaws. Do not let nay sayers change your path (including your self doubts), and charge ahead to make the changes. Remember that everything worth it takes time and effort. So,

Go for it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Haunted Manhattan: The Dakota Building

Located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in New York City, The Dakota Building is a well-fixed image of the Manhattan landscape. It is ingrained in our minds as the place where John Lennon exhaled his last breath. However, the building has a very long, haunting past that goes back to the very beginnings of the city. 

It was commissioned in 1881 by Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Its architecture has a bit of German Gothic, a lot of French Renaissance, and of course, a whiff of English Victorian. As the story goes, back in 1884 when the building opened its doors as an apartment co-op, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was as sparsely populated as the Dakota Territories, hence the name. In 1976, it was declared a National Historical Landmark.

The first reports of strangely apparitions came from a troop of painters in the 1960s and since then two main figures have been consistently seen in the premises. The first, and gentler spirit, is that of a girl dressed in turn of the century garb. She's usually smiling or playing with a rubber ball, then she disappears into thin air or walks into closed closets to never be seen again.

The second, and more violent apparition, is that of Mr. Clark himself. One of the porters reported being attacked by this ghost on the building's basement. He was thrown a shovel and several heavy objects. When the terrified man called a tenant for help, a piece of metal flew into the air toward the men.

There have been reports of a ghostly chandelier alight in one of the third floor apartments, and a worker was trapped inside a closet while doing reparations to Judy Holliday's appartment. When he found his way off the ladder he had been using, he tried to turn on the light. No luck there, so he went for the closet door... and felt a cold hand grabbing his arm. I'll go out on a limb here and say he never set foot inside the building again.

Then of course, is the story of John Lennon. I must confess that after all my wanderings about, of all the supposedly real ghost pictures I've seen, the one picture that makes me break in goosebumps doesn't even have a supernatural element to it. It is this picture, where Lennon is giving an autograph to Mark David Chapman mere hours before the crazy bastard shot Lennon at the entrance of the building. Seriously creepy...

John Lennon's ghost has been reported, too, despite the fact that a group of spiritualists tried guiding his soul to rest in peace at Yoko's request.

Finally, there are the many twisted coincidences that surround the filming of Rosemary's Baby. The film, directed by Roman Polanski, used the exteriors of the Dakota as well as limited interior locations. After its release in 1968, Krzysztof Komeda, who had worked on the movie soundtrack, died of a brain clot. The same way a supporting character died within the movie. Also, at the exact same time, William Castle, the movie producer, was admitted to the same hospital for renal problems. While being treated he yelled "Rosemary, for God's sake drop that knife!" Afterwards he would swear the movie was curse.

But for all the possible spooky coincidences, here's a truly mind-boggling one: Roman Polanski (married to Sharon Tate) shot Rosemary's Baby (A story about a pregnant woman besieged by a satanic cult) in the Dakota building. A few months after the movie's release, Charles Manson and his cult followers broke into Sharon Tate's house and murdered five people two weeks before her due date. They followed this heinous act with the murder of two more people, the following night. They called this rampage "Helter Skelter" after a The Beatles song. John Lennon was a member of The Beatles that would come to live at the Dakota several years later, where he would be murdered by Mark David Chapman.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG, Summer Wrap Up, and General Catch Up

That'd be me, cooling and writing. The hunk'd be my muse, ugly as a bitch but plenty helpful.
Well, hello everyone! Yeah, I know, I know. I've been away for quite some time but summer got me wrapped up in all kinds of exciting, writerly things. How was your summer? Busy? Horribly hot and humid? However you spent these months, I sure hope you enjoyed yourself.

As for me. Where to begin...

The girls were off to their grandparents for the whole time, which gave me full control over my days. I'm telling you, 24 hours hadn't felt that productive (and long) in nine years! I was committed to write two short stories for two different anthologies, was asked to contribute to a noir mag, had my Haunted Manhattan blog thing, attended my first-ever writer's retreat, and finally traveled to Mexico to bring the girls back home. Just got here over the long weekend... So whoo, was I busy!


  • I'm very happy to say Burial Day Books has officially accepted my gothic story A DIARY OF MADNESS for publication in their anthology GOTHIC BLUE BOOK 3, scheduled to be released for Halloween. Yipee!!

  • I also completed (and submitted) a story for an invite-only anthology. Since I haven't received an answer, we can't celebrate just yet nor will I reveal the name of the anthology. But please, do keep your fingers crossed. 

  • I'm still madly working in another story that the editor is waiting for the end of the month. It has given me a hard time because it is in a genre I don't usually write, but I said this would be a summer to go out of my comfort zone. So there.

  • About the Haunted Manhattan series... I did drag the hubby all over Manhattan, taking pictures of the places that were voted for you among the most haunted I could find. No experience was had, sadly, but it was a lot of fun. And I have great pics to show. Wait for them starting next week.

All in all this was an amazing time full of experiences that helped me grow as a writer, and this is where the IWSG comes in.

Today I don't have an insecurity to share but a smile and my experiences. Three months ago I was debating with myself, thinking maybe I should stop playing writer and do something real. So much time lapsed between my last publication and a new one that I though it'd been a fluke. Today I can't be happier or more fullfiled. I know tough times will come once more, but I have to feed off the good ones to make it to the other side.

During the writer's retreat, one of the things we talked about was positive advice. What was the best we'd ever gotten. The answer is: READ, WRITE, and SUBMIT. There is no secret to become a published writer, only infinite patience and pigheadedness.

READ to be better. Read classic books even if they're out of your genre. Read everything that falls in your hand and you will lear what works and what doesn't.

WRITE no matter how awful it may seem today. There is always tomorrow, you'll get better and your writing will do too. But you can't be better if you don't try it. The thing with a job well done is that it looks so easy... great literature seems so effortless! But it isn't and if you stop trying, you'll stop growing.

SUBMIT to small presses as well as big ones, you never know who you'll meet or where the next break will come from. A few months ago I submitted to an anthology. My story was rejected but two months later I got an invitation to participate in an anthology from one of the editors.

Success takes the combination of perseverance, luck, and maybe talent (there are plenty of untalented people shoving money out the window). Our job is to position ourselves so when luck comes knocking, we are within reach of that door.

I wish you a phenomenal end of the season. Happy second anniversary to the Insecure Writer's Support Group and may this year be the one your dream comes true. Don't forget to stop by the Amazing Ninja Alex Cavanaugh's blog to get more news!

See ya next week!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Haunted Manhattan: The House of Death

I thought opening the series with The House of Death was quite appropriate because of several factors. First, this is a private residence, therefore, there's no one to interview or anywhere to eat/drink to see what happens. Just a picture from the outside and a lot of stories to tell. Also because among the ghosts that purportedly inhabit the place is Mark Twain. Why would be that of any importance, you ask? Well, last night I attended Stephen King's event promoting Joyride at the Mark Twain house in Hartford. Expect a post about that experience coming soon, but in the meantime, I really felt like that was too sweet a coincidence to let it pass.

On the subject, now. The history of number 14 of West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, better known as the House of Death, is one of both mystique and horror that stretches for over 150 years. Built on the late 1850s, the mansion was home to a long list of the who-is-who of the day. Outstanding figures, such as the founder of the Metropolitan Underground Railroad and Broadway Underground Railroad, James Boorman Johnston; famous writer, Mark Twain; and the president of the North American Company, Charles W. Wetmore. 

In 1933, the house was sold to a company that quickly turned it to a ten apartment complex. By then, stories of ghostly apparitions were quietly shared among residents of the building. It was until 1957, when writer Jan Bryant Bartell moved in, that the haunting became famous. Her experiences in her apartment of the second floor would give place to the book SPINDRIFT: SPRAY FROM A MYSTIC SEA, published in 1974. In it, she recounts her many experiences in the house during the 15 years she lived there. Among the most memorable are her accounts of seeing a woman wearing a Victorian dress, and the apparition of a child. Perhaps more eerie is her story of a withered grape, constantly materializing in the center of a plate, even when no grapes were bought for weeks.

Not paranormal, but more horrifying is the story of Lisa Steinberg's death. In the morning hours of November 2, 1987, police came in the building answering a call about a child 'not breathing'. What they found in the apartment of 14 West 10th Street rocked the city to its core. Six year old Elizabeth, Lisa, Steinberg was found unconscious lying on the floor of the bathroom. An 18 month old baby boy was also found in the house, tied to his playpen with a rope to his waist. Severely beaten and neglected, Lisa slipped into a coma and later died. Lisa's adoptive mother, editor and writer of children books Hedda Nussbaum, told a story of unspeakable abuse at the hands of Joel Steinberg. Hedda, herself had several broken ribs, a shattered nose and cheekbones, and life-threatening lesions to her legs. After the first-ever televised trial, Joel Steinberg was found guilty of manslaughter. He spent 15 years in prison and was recently released. 

Many attribute the name of House of Death to this single incident. However the case, to this day, residents of the complex report hearing strange noises, seeing an elegant, ethereal lady traversing walls, and there are a few sightings of Mark Twain on the staircase. When a woman resident asked him who he was, he answered: "My name is Clemens, and I has a problem here I gotta settle."

Legend says 22 unnamed people died in the house, among them a murder/suicide in the 1900s, which isn't an incredibly high number when one considers the scores of people that have lived in it. There's also the fact that many of its residents were famous Victorians and Edwardians who customarily received medical care in-home, rather than attending hospitals.

This city landmark is not only beautiful, but steep in history. I recommend to everyone strolling through the city to pay it a visit.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pet Project: Haunted Manhattan

For this summer, and since I've been a bad blogger lately, I decided to try something new. I looked for something that involved my passion for ghost stories but took me out of the house, into new interesting investigations. I also thought that you deserved a little extra entertaining stories. So, giving that I live so close to the Big Apple, I decided to go search for the best known haunted locations in the city. I mean, how many can there be, right?

Can you say sucker?

Turnes out Manhattan has more than thirty buildings with a well spread reputation on the creepy side. Only Manhattan! Forget about Queens and Brooklyn.

Writing for a living here, remember? Not exactly the wealth generator one would think. And don't even get me started on my 'free time.'

So, where to go? I needed to cut the list to about four places max. Which took me to the realization that I'm completely incompetent when it comes to taking decisions. And come to think of it, I want you guys to enjoy this series, therefore, I'd love to know what YOU think. So here's the deal. I'll leave you here with a list of some of the places I found. All of them have interesting backstories and are of easy access to me. I'll go to those places that receive the most votes. (If no one votes, I'm visiting each one of you and leaving a voodoo doll under your beds. So, that.)

Just have in mind that I'm no paranormal researcher. I will not be carrying out EVP's, filming, or interviwing. I'll simply go into the place, have a bite/drink where possible, take pictures, and get the hell out of there. Okay, maybe I'll ask the bartender for his phone number if he's cute. But that's it. I'll also research what the ghost stories are, and what the actual history of the place is. Fine, I'll ask people working there if they have had any experiences. Happy, now?

Now, please vote here:

This is the first time I use pinopinion, so please, should you find any trouble voting, simply do it by commenting. I'll also try to add a voting site on my facebook page, which you all have already liked, right? If not, follow the link on the side bar to the right.

I'll keep the voting going for a week or two, depending on how many people vote, but my first post will be here next week. I'll tell you all about the famous House of Death near 5th ave. Catchy name, huh?

Take care, enjoy the weekend, and get a tan!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Inspiration and Summer Reflexion

Summer's here. There are kids to be entertained, pools to be jumped, beaches to be swam, drinks to be drunk, friends to be enjoyed, and work to be done. Will we have time to fit it all? I don't know, but what is life if you don't live it with a smile, right? So, while I will have to crunch a lot of writing time to meet all my deadlines, I know I have to make some time to have fun, bathe in the sun, and swim in the pool. I'm also trying to put together a summer project for the blog, going to NYC and visiting reputed haunted places to post pictures and experiences here.

So, my advice for all insecure writers out there would be to have fun. There is no way to fill the never-ending well of inspiration if we don't get out and live. Experience new things, laugh until you cry, watch a movie, find out you most definitively could've written it better, then go on and write it! Make new friends and tend to old ones. Spend time with the family. When the leaves make their little dance on the chilling air, you'll be fuller, happier, tanner, and maybe wiser. And you can only be a better writer because of it.

The Victor

~Charles Ghinga.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Liebster Award to Start an Awesome Week

The amazing Yolanda Renee at DEFENDING THE PEN just nominated this humble blog for a new Inspirational Liebster Blog Award and that's awesome. The best way to start a week, even if you are an extremely tired, overwhelmed writer like me. It made me smile and think that I'm moving in the right direction with this blog, and my writing life.

Yolanda is a great blogger with tons of amazing book suggestions and interesting context for everyone who likes to read. She also happens to be about to release not one, but two of her own books: MURDER, MADNESS, AND LOVE in August, and MEMORIES OF MURDER in September. You can learn all about them here.

So, the rules for this award are:

1. Display logo in your blog to show you've been nominated!
2. Link back to your nominator.
3. Share 7 things about yourself. 
4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award. 
5. Notify your nominees. 

I also have to answer to 11 questions. So, without further ado, here are my answers...

           Mexico City
           Warm Bodies
           THREE MILES PAST by Stephen Graham Jones
           Grab a book and read, while the girls are happy and self-entertained. If the hubby is close by, we'll just talk our heads off until we're sleepy, or the girls need us
           La Oreja de VanGogh (Spanish pop group)
          When to stop tweaking a story. It can always be better, right?
           If you like horror, you need to read Algernon Blackwood and Dracula. If you like fantasy, read Jules Verne. Whatever your genre, read the classics. They were the innovators, theirs were the original stories. The rest of us are just trying to not mess things up.
           I don't know much about Greek Gods, but how about Isis of the Egyptian pantheon? I like a strong matriarch who's not beneath cutting the balls off a jerk. And now you know why I write horror...
           Don't remember a single one of 'em. I don't put much stock in fortune, though


  1. I lack the span of attention necessary to knit. I started several scarfs through my youth. Never once did I finish.
  2. Egypt was the first place I went on vacation with my own money, which I earned working at a Starbucks for a year, and selling my car.
  3. I love horror everything and that's mostly what I read, yet the first novel I outlined was a Romance/Family Saga. I'm still working on it.
  4. I'm a Libra and my husband is a Libra. Making decisions in this family takes a long time, but we have plenty 'artistic outbursts' (read tantrums).
  5. I played with Barbies until I was fourteen years old.
  6. I'm in love with Vincent Price's voice. I mean, c'mon! Thriller, anyone?
  7. I used to read Tarot Cards when I was in my early twenties, but after a series of strange events I stopped. Never charged a dime. For years old 'clients' wrote to tell me how things I'd told them came to happen.

There you go. Fun, Fun, Fun! Now, for my nominees...

Lexa Cain

Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic

Nicole Singer at Write Me a Word

Elizabeth Twist -

These are all ladies with unique voices, amazing intellect, and a whole lot to say. Do not miss their blogs!

And for those reading this post, thank you for making my blogging life such an enriching experience. I treasure each of your comments. Most of the time you offer me great comfort and support. Here's to another hundred awards and a million publications!

Monday, June 3, 2013


Here we are once more, almost half way through the year and calling on all insecure writers to come together, to cheer each other up. How's been your 2013 so far? For me, it has been a year of ups and downs. Last year I was super motivated, writing 2 posts every month for the blog and reading like crazy. I started reviewing, discovered I was really good at it, and enjoyed it a lot.

This year, however, I've been mostly concentrated in writing fiction. I have many stories doing the rounds, but none has yet found a house. The snag? Well, I haven't been as active in the blog, and my reading is just not happening. I'm sad to say I may miss my goal of books read for the year by a long shot. And since I'm not reading, I've stopped reviewing. Still, writing is good, right?

I'm trying to keep positive, pick up my reading, and finding new bookish activities to ignite my fire, again. But I won't stop writing, and I won't stop trying to land a new publication.

I hope for the rest of you things are going well and you are facing the hot season with lots of plans and a great attitude. Tell me all about it! Best wishes to all. And remember to go to the IWSGroup page and get to know more amazing writers. There's hundreds now!

"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength." 

~Chris Jami.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inherently Weird. The puzzling Past of a Horror Writer

I've been attracted to death, ghostly visitors, and paranormal stories for as long as I can remember. Where does this fascination come, I have no idea, but while other kids played on their bikes or read funny comics, I was obsessed with witchcraft and read scary stories. The only way to entice me to read was to dangle in front of me stories of the sort, and so my mom introduced me to A CHRISTMAS CARROL and ghostly mystery stories for kids. 

Yeah, I know, I was weird. But before all that, my most distant memory and the way I was possibly introduced to the concept of horror was through a series of nightmares. I must have been about seven and had experienced nightmares before. This, however, was a totally different thing. Now, I know what you'll say, but my parents were not divorcing, I had no reason to feel stressed, and people didn't talk about horror themes with any of us children around. So no, there was no reason for my "Nightmare Attack."

It was only one nightmare, but it besieged me for eight months. It always started with me sitting alone in a small boat, drifting through a calm river. The water was so crystalline I could see colorful rocks on the bottom and the landscape was beautiful. But I was afraid, didn't know why, just simply afraid. Without any apparent reason, the water started to turn red, little by little until it was all the color of blood. I looked around for the cause and realized that at the bottom of the river laid severed hands. Completely terrorized, I jumped out of the boat and swam to land, running like crazy until I was facing a hill. I climbed it only to find a Roman soldier on the top that confronted me with a spear, threatening to kill me. The floor was littered with corpses and I knew I could not escape. Then I woke up, screaming and crying. Every night.

You can imagine that after a month, my mother could no longer dismiss the nightmares and became really worried. I don't remember much of what she told to me or the different remedies that we tried. All I know is that about six months in, she started to pray with me every night. The more we did, the calmer I felt when going to sleep, and the more the nightmares drifted away. Until one day, there were nightmares no more.

Now, I'm not saying it was prayer that took them away, at least not per se. I think it was the positive images and reassuring words that finally got to me. What intrigues me really is their origin and why then I became so intrigued by the unearthly. It is a passion that has always tugged on me, sometimes as a positive influence like in my writing, sometimes in a very negative way... but that is material for another post.

So, is it truly genetics all that pushes us? What amazing experiences shape us in all different ways and what brings them in the first place? Do you have one such amazing influence in your life? I can't wait to hear about it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Based on True Stories: A Nightmare on Elm Street

People in the writing business--and movie making--often say that there is nothing new under the sun. Every story is based on another story, on a real situation, on a century-old question. Everything that you can think of, someone has done before... talk about a downer. Truth is that original ideas are very hard to come by and after 2000 years of making up stuff, the well of new is not overflowing anymore.

But there is hope still. For those of us who like to create for a living, there are two possibilities: You are either one of those amazing minds that can still coop up the next best thing ever--Hello to all the Einsteins, Steve Jobs, and the like--or you can re-tell a known tale in an extraordinary way. And here is where Wes Craven and one of his master pieces, A Nightmare on Elm Street, come in.

For ages, males of Asian origin have been dying in their sleep. And I'm not talking about babies here but full grown, perfectly healthy men. Depending on the country, there are a series of legends and demons that have been blamed for such deaths. These countries' rich folklore has accounts as old as civilization and we westerners had no idea of how deeply rooted the fear of dying in your sleep was for the other side of the world. Until the late 1970s and early 1980s that refugees running away from their war-torn countries found their way into the USA.

As reported by the New York Times on May 9, 1981, The Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta conducted "... an intensive inquiry into the manner in which 18 apparently healthy Laotian refugees died mysteriously in their sleep in this country within the last four years. One possibility being explored is that they were frightened to death by nightmares."

Surprised? I know I was--and more than a bit freaked out.

In the end the deaths were attributed to the Brugada Syndrome, where an apparently healthy man's heart (it is much more common among Asian men) fibrillates during sleep, causing a fatal arrhythmia, and death. And even though today we can diagnose the disease with an ECG, not every Nightmare Death Syndrome case (or Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome, as it is known these days) can be explained in this way.

So, there you go, another freaky place where inspiration was found. But, if you're not Asian, or male, don't feel too relieved, yet. After all, Freddy might still be lurking under your bed.

Have nice dreams. =)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Call for help. IWSG to the rescue

April is gone and we are now facing our May IWSG meeting. It's been a long time since I gave credit to the awesome ninja writer Alex Cavanaugh for being the master mind behind this group. There are hundreds of great writers posting about their insecurities, successes, and experiences on this day. If you want to find out more, you can alway click on the page I have dedicated to the group, or you can go directly to the source and find out bout the Captain Ninja yourself.

So, yes, it's already May. The year is going so fast! And I think it has been a very busy, very interesting year so far. I'm making an effort to stray from my comfort zones, and grow as a writer. I tried my first ever Creative Writing class with success and a few tears (refer to this post); I'm also writing more thrillers and noir stories, which have been lots of fun; and I even learned a few things about writing poetry. That last one was a bit painful, though, and I don't think I feel inclined to try that road again, at least not any time soon.

In general, I'd say I'm feeling positive about my writing these days, although there are always doubts and it's been too long since I have received an acceptance. Of course, then, I'm having a hard time letting the rejections slip off me and I'm not jumping to write the next submission letter as soon as I can. Still, I have a short story and three flash fictions doing the rounds and I'm trying to keep my faith in myself up. How? By writing more. I'm currently working on three more short stories and a novel. So I'm busy, and kinda happy.

And where does the 'support group' part of the post come in? Well, I need to ask you a favor. One of those stories I'm working on is a gothic horror and I'm stuck. I've been told that the story 'told' to much and 'showed' little, so I worked on that. I was also told that it was a bit 'baroque', meaning I needed to pair down the narrative, which I also did. Sadly, by now I just don't see the story anymore. The details are too familiar for me and I like too much to be any objective. I would love for a few critical eyes used to gothic style to give their opinions, but I just don't know anyone willing to break my heart and be blunt. So, the question for you: do you, or do you know of anyone who would like to help me? I can always pay with the same token... And with chocolate. Lots of chocolate. =)

Well, then, that's it for me. Now to you: Tell me how do you feel about your year so far? Is it going like you expected? And what do you do to keep your morale high?

I hope you have an excellent an inky May. Cheers!

Friday, April 26, 2013

World War Z and Zombie Poultry. The Real Life Story of Mike, the Headless Chicken

Zombies have been on top of the wave of public interest for quite some time now; some may say that for too long. Truth is the genre is fascinating but you can only spin the end of the world by the hands of mindless eating machines so many times. It's getting repetitive and boring. There will always be the hard-core fans, but to the general public, the wave is approaching the beach. Or is it, really? When one of the most popular actors of these times--Hello there, Brad Pitt!--stars in the movie adaptation of one of the most iconic zombie books of recent times, one might be inclined to think the fun has just begun.

But not me. I do think this wave is about to reach the beach, and in true wave fashion, it'll go with a huge splash. World War Z, the movie--which, may I say, looks AWESOME!--will cause the biggest splash, filling theaters with over-excited fans--like me. We'll surely get a few other, smaller splashes and then the genre will fade out for a few years. Hopefully. Not another Romero remake in at least a decade, let's cross our fingers...

But will zombies be forgotten? I don't think so. The zombie figure is a predominant one in our unconscious mind, and then there are all the strange occurrences; like the guy in Miami who ate another man on a busy highway in the middle of the day. Turns out he was under the influence of some kind of drug--what a shocker. Still, for a moment there I feared I might had postponed my bunker buying for a little too long. And there have been more similar incidences. But if that wasn't giving you nightmares, then the CDC decides to post an official memo on Zombie Preparedness... Nop, I think the fear of the dead is quite alive.

Mind you, I haven't bought that bunker just yet. Mostly because I'm penniless. And my neighborhood doomsday prepper is not that friendly.

Come to think of it, I may know just the story to inject the genre with a bit of liveness. A 'real life story' is always welcome in Hollywood, isn't it? So I give you the story of Mike, the Headless Chicken.

It happened in 1945 in a Colorado farm, when one fine morning Lloyd Olsen went out to his yard to kill a chicken for dinner. Now, Olson must have followed the same procedure a hundred times, yet he did a lousy job on this one. Turns out, his machete had missed the jugular vein and left most of the chicken's brain stem intact. So what is the sensible thing to do under such strenuous circumstances? Why, you name your chicken and take it to the carnival! As part of the sideshow.

Mike, the Headless Chicken had almost all of his basic functions, like walking, breathing, and having a pulse. He even attempted to crow, which must've been fun... not. Since he couldn't eat himself--having no beak can do that to you--he was fed via eyedropper. He lived 18 whole months like that, and now there is a yearly festival in his hometown to commemorate this hard-to-kill rooster.

How is this story any scary? Well, granted, Mike wouldn't be able to eat us--being headless and all--but it is freaky. And then it got me thinking... What if the next avian flu does to us what the skillful Olsen did to Mike? Albeit without the actual cutting. What if a new virus just kills enough of our brain that we can actually walk and eat without conscious thought left? Even if we didn't feed on each other, it would mean the end of our race. And that's scary...

So what do you say? Who wants to write the script?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Burned. What to Do When Even Your Teachers Laugh at You

A few weeks ago I was visiting the blogs that I follow, which I don't do as often as I should. One of the posts was about a crit class where this girl felt cheated because the praise she was receiving wasn't deserved... or so she thought. We banded together claiming we rather hear a blunt truth with a nice "I know you can do better", than an undeserved compliment.

Well, I got my wish, alright.

For the past seven weeks I've attended my first ever Creative Writing class at my local college. The first class was kind of odd because everyone writes more literary stuff and there I was, just spilling blood and guts everywhere... Right. Not the warm reception I was expecting, but alright. With every week I learned to tone down the horror and they learned more of my style. I really enjoy the class and it is challenging me to explore different areas of my creativity.

Now, because I know my style isn't really their thing but keep getting rave comments anyway, I suspected they would always find something nice to say, no matter how bad I sucked. Which was kind of disappointing, but I get it. This is a class targeted to weekend writers, not to people actively pursuing a life as a full time writer. As such, the teacher is more lenient and doesn't try to squeeze out of us a master piece by the end of the course. The one positive is that it gives you the sense of a 'safe environment' to try and experiment in other literary forms or genres.

So, I did just that. I presented a 'poem' to the class. Did I tell you I know nothing of poetry? Yeah, and I mean NOTHING. I didn't study English in school because in Mexico they teach Latin-American Literature. Aside from rhythm and rime, there is nothing in common between Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Frost, which I should have taken as the first warning against trying it. But I'm an idiot, and what's worse, I was ignorant. And that is a bad combination.

I knew my 'poem' wasn't good but I thought I'd take the chance to learn something new, and learn I did. First I learned that that silence can be very loud. I also learned that my teacher is very much capable of annihilate your piece, burn your soul, and eat your heart without so much as a blink.

The first thing that happened after the silence was my teacher thoughtfully commenting on how the piece was not a poem, but prose with a few words that rhymed. It needed to be chopped and trimmed a whole lot. Which was true and, though it hurt, I understood. Then she laughed at my 'naiveté'. The pseudo-poem was about my kids and how much I hoped they remembered me forever. It seems that sentiment is cute but unrealistic, and worthy of a space in a shelf next to Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny.

Yeah, she laughed. OUCH

After the shock, the group took my side. Clearly unhappy with her way of putting down my feelings, the group opted to say nice things like they got the feeling behind it, or that they thought it was good for a first try. Another girl went so far as to say she would try my way to write a first poem, going from wordy to trimmer by editing. The teacher tried to coax me to rhyme right there and then, which I simply couldn't do. Not only was I too embarrassed and feeling inadequate, but there's also the fact that I knew nothing of Iambic Pentameters, or whatever the hell she was saying. So the class went on to read another person's work and the teacher told me she expected a re-write of my poem by mail in the course of the week.

I got home, kinda told something to my hubby, and shed a couple of tears. Then I started reading about meters, rhyming, rhythm, and what the fuck was an Iambic Pentameter. I'm way far from knowing everything there is about poetry, but sure as hell I learned more today than I did while I wrote that thing. I don't condone the laughter but I totally understand that I have to study more before attempting a style. I'm hell-bent on getting the best out of the situation, and though I won't be reading the new version to the class, I'll send it to my teacher and I'll try to squeeze whatever knowledge I can of her in the small amount of time I have left.

So, my message is this: Blunt criticism is very hard to take and the fact that you think you're ready for it, doesn't make it any easier. It is, however, one of the best opportunities you'll have to grow. Take it, learn from your mistakes, and don't loose faith in yourself. You may suck at 'x' now, but with every time you try, with every question you ask, with every burn you take, you know more. One day you will be just as good as the one who burned you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nature vs Nurture.

Hope everyone got a great long weekend to enjoy, celebrate (Easter, Passover, or simply the joy to be alive), and get a head start on your spring cleaning... which I did not. Clean, I mean. I mostly enjoyed the family and talked to friends. It was a breath of fresh air.

For my awesome friends at IWSG, it's April's time for a meeting and I hope you find yourselves welcoming a yet cold but still here spring. This time I'm taking a different approach to the meeting and instead of focusing on my insecurities, I want to share with you something a friend asked me over the past weekend.

She recently read my book, PERPETUAL NIGHT, and asked me about the protagonist, Lilibeth Royster. She wanted to know why I chose Lilibeth to be a teenager and if the story was really at its core about the age-old debate of Nature vs Nurture. Since this isn't the first time that a reader makes the conclusion that the story pitches in on the argument, I thought it'd be an interesting post to share.

Childhood is the period of time when our parents teach us everything we must know. When the building blocks are cemented in a firm foundation that'll carry our future. If we grow good or bad, at this point, depends on them. And here is where the Nurture vs Nature debate starts. 

I don't believe that one person is born evil or bad, in that sense I'm with the nurture side of the argument, but it is impossible to deny that there are genetics involved in most every psychological aspect of our personality. The depressive personality, the overachiever, the shy, the sociopath... genetics can't be set aside. But not every psychopath grows to be a killer. Not every shy person will be insecure. Where does the difference reside between your manipulating ex-boyfriend and Ted Bundy? Our environment, I think, makes a huge difference in what we do with the cards we were dealt.

For me, the trickiest part of growing up is surviving our adolescence. I made Lilibeth a teenager because that's the period of time when we become responsible of our own lives. Even with the best foundations and the best materials, a building can fail if badly built. In PERPETUAL NIGHT, Lilibeth is confronted with a world that treats her like a child, that is condescending and unforgiven. Gone are the years of fairies that'll give her money for her teeth. Santa is not real and Lilibeth, like every other teen, must accept that real life sucks and then move on.

Teens are neither kids nor adults, they feel isolated because they are. They don't know where the self begins and the parent ends.They are searching for themselves. They lash at a society that has no place for them. They oppose their parents because they need to assert themselves as individuals. 

I tell you, being a teen sucks. Then, at the risk of looking like a cruel god, what if the teen is put under extraneous circumstances? Can they be trusted to make the best decision? That's a question over which every parents looses sleep and that's where I put Lilibeth. I surrounded her with night terrors, visions, and the shadow of mental disease in the family. And a bad breakup, of course, since 90% of the worst decisions I ever took were made under the influence of a bad breakup.

So there you go, in my mind PERPETUAL NIGHT isn't a story about Nature vs Nurture. Lilibeth's neither a sociopath nor a psychopath. It is an analysis of ourselves, the 'normal' people. We all have within us a dash of egocentrism, a sense of entitlement, and can experience genuine moral conflict. And still none of us are free of making bad decisions that'll change the course of our lives. We are just lucky that our worst didn't impact our future. We are lucky to have survived our teens.

Share with me, were your teen years too hard? And where do you stand, nature, or nurture?

For more info on the book or to read an excerpt, go to Perpetual Night, ebook and don't forget to 'Look Inside'.