Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Will write for reviews

One of the biggest challenges as an independent writer is to get reviews. It might sound like something trivial or superficial, but awareness and word of mouth are two things that are immensely hard because they are out of our control. Sure, I could pay to be reviewed or pay for followes, but that’s not the idea.

It never is for me.

People have asked why a review 
is so important and there’s actually several reasons. 

1. Validation: That someone takes the time to leave a review is one of the biggest rewards because someone not only invested time in reading you, but felt the urge to tell others why what was written is worthwhile.

2. Other people notice: Every single time I’ve gotten a review or posted a picture of a review, I’ve gotten a sale or several. This is not me speculating. This is seeing the trends of my books and seeing the link, time and time again.

3. Encouragement: Be it a good review or a bad one, any review can be motivation. I’ve been told by some people that they don’t like what I’ve written and instead of angering or saddening me, it’s inspired me it explore other interests and other genres in hopes that eventually I write something, at least one thing, that resonates with that person.

4. Motivation: I will make a confession, on days when I doubt my work or my abilities, I read the reviews I’ve gotten and they have on more than one occasion gotten me back on track to forge on.

So next time you see, read, listen to or experience anything of worth, let yourself be heard. There will be plenty of people thanking you, especially those whom you reviewed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I am the Anti Axl Rose

Before you think I’m against Guns N’ Roses or Mr. Rose, let me start off by saying this, I actually really, really like GNR. My favorite are the Use your Illusion albums, though I’m a big fan of Appetite and Lies. Hell, I even like Chinese Democracy (for real!)… the Spaghetti Incident, not so much.

Still, I’m am the Anti Axl Rose… according to one of my best friends.

You see, while people may debate whether they like Rose and his music, what no one can deny is that he takes a ridiculously long time to pump out a record. Seriously, Rose makes Tool look prolific in comparison and I’m certain fans are like what the hell, asking and begging for more music.

When I told my friend about my lineup for 2015, and seeing what I’ve done in the last two years, his answer was simple: “You’re the antithesis of Axl Rose.”

From 2013, I’ve published Only Human, Between the Tides, Dark Strands, posted over 200 blog posts, done ten interviews, launched my Facebook author page, participated in the Puerto Rico Comic Con, launched Blanc Comics and I continue to work on about 6 other projects. By the end of the year, at least 4 more books will be published. I will participate in the Puerto Rico Comic Con again and in the summer I plan to do at least two book activities.

And I still feel like I could be doing so much more. I’m currently drafting ideas for future projects, reading multiple books, doing research and planning two highly ambitious projects, one to be completed within the next five years and another that will probably take me a decade, all while working on other things.

I’m sharing this not in search of people thinking me wonderful, magnanimous or anything really. I’m sharing this because I want to do things, I don’t want to wonder, I don’t want to see when I have time to do something, I want to do it. If sharing this can inspire even one person to throw caution to the wind, to go for it, to dream big and swing for the fences, it is worth it. At the beginning of the year I said I’d do various things and I’m on track to keeping with each of those promises. I do this for several reasons:
  1. Since I already said it, that was the equivalent of me giving my word, and I have always done my utmost to be a man of my word. 
  2. There are people who are actually looking fwd to these projects and are asking me about them. I have a weird time calling readers my fans though I’ll go more into this in future blog posts. The fact remains, people are actually saying so when will you be done? And I want them AND myself to be pleased. 
  3. That list helps me keep focused and on track. I know what I said what I would do… now it’s my turn to do it. 
  4. To show that anyone who commits to their dream, can have their cake and eat it too. 
Here’s hoping you get the ridiculous idea of pursuing your dreams… and to prove to anyone, especially yourself that you can do it.

Peace, love and maki rolls

The Anti Axl Rose

Ps.: No Axls were hurt in the drafting of this blog post.

Photo by GunsN'RosesWorldTour2010. Connormah

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I’m praying for the end of the world

If you take a snap shot of today’s world, there may be rays of light but there are also plenty of things to not be proud of. We live in a world where profit outweighs morals, common sense, and justice. We live in a world where men and women are not treated equally. We live in a world filled to the brim of technology and whose inhabitants insist on continuing conflicts. We live in a world where being a politician has purely become a career choice instead of public service. A world where pollution has created two new continents in both our major oceans made of garbage. A world where people hunt and exterminate species in the interest of a thrill. A world where young women disappear and nothing happens but if taxes are evaded the stiff arm of justice is there to blindly carry out the priorities of systems that don’t care for people.

Today’s world could be glorious, it could be magnificent, it could run on solar, wind, seismic and water power. Instead, we live in a world where one side of the population is dying of hunger while the other is dying from being overweight. We live in a world flooded by options and denied quality.

I pray for the end of this world. I pray for it every single day.

Let me clarify though: I’m not praying for an asteroid. I’m not praying for Armageddon or Ragnarok. I’m not praying for alien invasions, a huge tsunami that wipes out half of mankind or the zombie apocalypse.

I just want this world to end and to be replaced by something that doesn’t need to be a dystopia. I’m praying for a world where people take care of their own. A world that practices what it preaches. A world where religion is a language and not an excuse to justify our tacit racisms. A world where women are treated fairly, equally and who don’t run the risk of violence just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A world where the justice system is focused on justice rather than winning or losing. A world where governments are not self-serving, where lobbyists are not needed and where war is but a memory.

I have a dream and I pray for it every single day… but I don’t stop there. I’m kind to strangers, I smile for no reason, I say good morning, good evening, excuse me, please and thank you. I donate to worthy causes, I try to be cleaner, leaner and more carbon neutral, not because I’m participating in the global warming debate but because I think it’s the right thing to do and at the very least I'd like to live in a cleaner world and do something for that. I pray for people, but I also drop a message, I pray for change but I also try to bring change with my actions. I do as much as I wish.

I pray for the end of the world…. And I’m also doing my best to bring that end, with kindness, with love, with understanding and with faith that refuses to be boxed into a specific religion.

I pray for the end of the world… and that’s not a bad thing.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Women never ask for “it”

Cat calling, prolonged stares, physical touch. As a man I am not subjected to any of these things. I don’t know the sensation of trying clothes on, feeling fantastic and then regretting what I wore the moment someone makes an uncomfortable advance. 

When it comes to violence against women, it is worrying to see how many times I’ve heard five words that revolt my stomach:

“She was asking for it.”
The justification of violence and deflecting blame onto a victim is all too common and still happens to this day. When I lived in NYC, I walked all over the city and although I kept an eye out, I’m happy to report that even walking alone at 2:00 AM, I never felt threatened.

When it comes to women, if something awful happens, a series of questions start sounding off:

“What was she doing alone at night?”

“What was she wearing?”

And I’ll stop there because we can all think of countless others that we’ve heard. I instead pose one question to all those you can think of: “does any of that matter?”

I’ve seen countless articles talking about how colleges educate women to prevent rape. The thought pattern there is a little scary: since men are prone to rape, we must educate women to avoid rape. There is no single tutorial talking to men about rape or to provide tools for people to call in an anonymous tip, regardless of the faults such a system could have.

The fact remains, sexual assault is not something whose blame you can pass onto the victim. I don’t care if a woman is a harlot, dressed like a hooker or even if she IS a prostitute, violence should not be justified in any context.

The thing is that the largest hurdle to jump in regards to this issue is silence. People often don’t say anything even when it’s clear there’s abuse going on and an experiment shows just how indifferent we can be.

What hurts here is that people feel bad about the situation but don’t do anything about it. And please, let’s call violence for what it is. A domestic dispute sounds almost pleasant and cat calling for however trendy it sounds is a form of harassment.

So what can we do?

There are various options:

Educate: at all levels of schooling and in the work place.

Speak: for yourself or someone else. Silence IS the enemy.

Support: as painful as the act of violence is, the stigma people attach to male and female victims of abuse needs to be remedied.

I write this post not as a feminist but as a human doing if only a fraction to promote values that ring true across any race, every religion, all genders and each social strata.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Healing through metaphor

When it comes to writing, it has often been a huge therapy for me. It allows me to flesh emotions and better understand what I feel because let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to understand much less describe what we feel.

That’s where poetry comes into play for me. While blog posts and essays communicate thoughts with feeling, poetry often affords me the opportunity to communicate feelings with an overall concept or ideas just barely keeping things together. That's because creative writing has always allowed me to express how I feel better than a specific description. 

It’s not the same to say you feel extremely sad than it is to say that your happiness is a piece of paper that’s been crushed,  straightened then torn one piece at a time, having each strand fall into the lukewarm puddle of a clogged gutter of emotions.

By getting into particulars you can come to grips with what you feel and if you’re a writer, you can bet others feel what’s burning within. But by saying what you feel and how you feel... that's when others feel along with you. In short, you don't have to understand something to get it.

The great thing about a metaphor is that there’s no right or wrong way to construct a metaphor as long as it makes sense to you. There’s just what you feel. So cast you net of words into the your sea of feelings and see what comes up.

Peace, love and maki rolls.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Charge your compliments

When people say something nice about someone else, many times they fall into a pattern of empty compliments. Positive things that are so flimsy that they won’t withstand even the slightest gust of wind. 

If someone completes a job, well done even, tell them why it’s good and how it’s helped the team. Did someone do something ultra nice? Send them a hand-written note.

Too often people fall into the traps of empty compliments that can even on occasion be disheartening, which is the opposite of what we want to do, especially if we’re talking about praise. When you go above and beyond and tell people why what they did mattered, it makes all the difference. 

Just one thing: let it come from deep within. DON’T recite a script. Show that person that you can be real and appreciative and that what they do matters.

When it comes to criticism and areas of opportunity, people are often too generous with what they share. Maybe it’s time to be equally generous with praise if only to see if it has any impact. 

Who knows? Some people might thank you for it... and maybe even praise you while they're at it. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What’s your time worth?

Being a copywriter by trade and a writer by passion, taking a freelance job is something that comes with the territory. This is work you do on your free time to make ends meet or get some extra cash.

But everything comes with a price, ESPECIALLY work.

You are called for that job. You say you’ll do it for a set fee or you’ll work per hour. The choice is yours.

Now after you invest one hour in this, it’s gone. Once you spend a full day working on a special project, that day is gone.
Time is the one thing in your life that is non-rechargeable.

Money comes and goes. So do good times and bad times. But time in itself? Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

A lot of people don’t realize this until it has actually vanished. I’ve spent many a minute, hour, day and week tackling extra work for countless reasons. Thanks to this time I’ve invested, I’ve always kept my bills up to date, I’ve always been able to help my family and it’s often given me ample peace of mind.

But times change, so do people and so do circumstances.

Freelance jobs have served me well… but I have to think of my work… and my life.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Power of Momentum

It doesn’t take much force to keep a three ton block from going down a hill. It’s also pretty impossible to stop a six pound bowling ball if it’s been rolling down that same hill.

The difference?


People are the same.

A single person can move a mountain with enough momentum while an army can halt to a standstill without it. Inertia is as much a mindset as it is a physical characteristic.

That’s why I always write and don’t take a day off. More than my passion and a basic part of who I am, I have been swept up by the enthusiasm of momentum.

Why don’t I take a break? Because it makes me happy to be working on my stories, because although I’m thrilled with my finished projects, I’m eager to continue creating. I have dozens of ideas for projects and am currently finalizing several. I get a new idea and I write it down.

By putting it to paper, that’s me saying one thing:

“I’ll be with you soon.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Back it up People

Back up your files.

Let there be no question what the takeaway of this blog post should be.


Quite recently my computer had itself a fit and the hard drive died on me. Kaput, dead, 86d. Since there is a God or I’m incredibly lucky, a pious technological angel was able to rescue the data.

I was lucky.

It’s the second close call I’ve gotten regarding my files. From final versions of my work, to pictures that exist in no other place. My data was recoverable, my work and my memories were not lost.


Don’t push your luck like I did. Don’t fully trust in technology. Prepare for any eventuality and stop postponing your backup. Every time you turn your computer on, you’re playing roulette. Your system is expected to work flawlessly for years. We should know better. Actually, we DO know better, we just love pushing our luck.


Back up your files.

Do it by the end of this week.

You can thank me later.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

So you want to write a book Part 3: Plot the course

Where do you want your story to go?

For me, I went from writing one book to working on a series. At one point it was going to even be a tetralogy, but when I got a hold to the story, lo and behold, I saw that four books was too much for the Human Cycle. So a trilogy it was to be.

When was I able to see this? When I wrote down the major plot points. And yes, it was as complicated a process as writing itself. For Only Human, I took a world Atlas and literally plotted the map and where I was going.

History, geography, topography and folklore then allowed me to flesh everything out but seeing that line on a world map helped me see where we were going, literally. The research filled in the blanks of several whys about why we were going there.

Every project is its own beast and I tackle each plot very differently. Sometimes I include notes, dialogue and other tidbits because there are plenty of lighting-in-a-bottle moments that you NEED to capture. Some chapters I have tons of notes. Other times, a word or two is all I require to know what I need to do. The thing is that I plot the course so I have a direction which often allows me to avoid contradictions, plotholes and other literary complications.

Still the most important lesson I’ve learned from writing plot points is comparable to one of the truths stated in the Whovian universe: some points are non negotiable, they cannot shift, they cannot be altered. They must endure.

For me, some plot points cannot and most likely will not be changed from the beginning of a project to its end. But I’m flexible with the rest. I do so because in that freedom I find my story while those anchors keep me focused and on my way.

So here’s to sailing on in the seas of our stories and knowing when to flow, and when to remain.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So you want to write a book Part 2: Get to know your characters

Now that you know for sure that you want to write a book, here comes the fun part, writing it.
Writing is one of the things I most enjoy doing in my life. It is equally challenging and liberating.

So why did I take seven years to write Only Human. Ok, here’s the thing, I had the concept down and had begun writing but it took me the longest time to shift from focusing on the craft of writing in favor of allowing myself to be swept by the story.

This sounds simple… it isn’t.

It took me years to have this breakthrough.

I can still remember that moment when providence arrived. I couldn’t stop writing and it is one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy.

Being frank, this is something that happens; it’s not something you can induce but you can make it a whole lot easier on yourself.

First off, get at least two notebooks (or word documents for you digital folk). One is for your work and the other one is for ideas and notes. They are BOTH capture tools but their purpose is endlessly different.

If you’re going for a novel, write down character names and then find out who they are, what do they have to say, why do they do what they do… in essence, what drives them. Do this for heroes and baddies alike. Really DIG into what makes them do the things they do.

In Only Human, Nathaniel Runnels is a jaded average Joe reporter who dreams of writing a novel. He hates his job but there’s reason behind that hate. He found out that he would not do what he wanted to do the most: seek out truth. He likes wine, he’s switched to gin and it’s a wonder he makes ends meet. Both his parents died, he has two brothers, he is agnostic and does tend to go with the flow even though that often means settling. He also always keeps his manners, something that saves his tuckus on more than one occasion.

Daniel of Montacre is a vampire who is over 400 years old. He’s a smartass, plays the violin and isn’t keen on being tied to any stereotype regarding vampires. He has been in love with Captain Jane Rivers for over half his existence and is driven by his need to save humanity so the entire world doesn’t collapse. He trusts very few people, always prepares in advance and a long life has given him the skill of supreme foresight, farther reaching than anyone could imagine.

You could say I fleshed out these characters but the reality is actually more organic. On more than one occasion I’ve crossed something off a page because Daniel would never say something like that. You know these people because although they might be characters captured in words… they’re alive. They have feelings. They have fears. They exist within.

On more than one occasion, I’ve meditated and tried to channel Daniel, to know him more in depth. It also goes deeper than just knowing a character…. It’s having a relationship with them. I’ve done the same with other characters and when in doubt, I’ve audibly asked them questions only to have my hand jot down the answer.

Spooky? You bet. But that’s how writing works sometimes; you just have to let your hand go sometimes.

By fully appreciating the nuances of each character, you get to write something that feels that much more real…. And you know why it feels that much more real?

Because it is.