Monday, June 26, 2017

Why I don’t believe in celebrating Pride Day

Pride is not a one-day thing. Pride as defined by means: “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” Pride as is being expressed during the month of June is more closely aligned to the love and support for people who identify themselves as being part of the LGBTQ community.

And that’s the thing.

I also don’t believe in the LGBTQ community.

I believe in community.

I don’t want labels to describe my friends even if they want to use them as part of their identity. That’s their right but I refuse to see gender even if I do recognize and respect it. I don’t like, follow, interact, help, love, or even tolerate people based on demographics.

That said, I have a lot of gay friends. I have a lot of lesbian friends. I have friends who’d rather be gender neutral. The only thing I don’t have close to me is someone who is fully transgender, and that’s mainly because life hasn’t put someone on my path to get close to. I know same sex couples who are parents, and they do a wonderful job raising their children. I find no issue with them doing as such but I do find issue with having to say that as if it’s some kind of miracle.

Unfortunately, life is full of different measuring sticks and some are grossly unfair. People are measured, considered, and judged for who and how they are. What also bothers me is that gender dominates the identity of many people where everything they read is LGBTQ oriented and if you don’t read LGBTQ authors, you’re in the wrong. Writing diversely because you’re interested in exploring that is wonderful, but including diverse characters and topics to cater to the market harms stories because it feels and comes off as disingenuous. That said, I do believe more variety will lead to good things and we should embrace diversity rather than demand it.

During pride parades you can see a lot of people who are very flamboyant and that also causes backlash and disgust from conservative people. It sounds awful to write, but rather than pander and cover the sun with our hands, let’s recognize that there are people that aren’t equipped to have that conversation. I’m not saying it makes sense, I’m saying that some people are incapable of acceptance or even tolerance. It’s sad to see that in the 21st century, this still happens. It’s very worrying to know that in Russia being gay might earn you a disappearance or a mugging. It’s scary to know that friends of mine who live in very conservative circles are at risk of physical harm and emotional abuse just because of who they’re attracted to.

“It goes against the Bible.”

“It’s unnatural!”

“God hates fags.”

These are three awful statements people use to somehow justify hate crimes, intolerance, and beyond. Being gay can get you fired in some states. It can get you killed in some countries. This is not hearsay, this is reality… and it makes no sense.

To me, I am proud of my LGBTQ friends for having the audacity to be who they are, to embrace who they are, to love freely, to not judge, to have an open mind, for being made of strong fiber, for insisting on truth rather than comforting others, for standing up for what they believe in, and for loving and making love to whomever the hell they want.

Conservatives are disgusted by homosexuals? No worries. I’m disgusted by conservatives who are disgusted by homosexuals so we’re even… but more important than that, we’re equal. I know a lot of people think otherwise, but if homosexuality is the worst crime a person does in their life versus god fearing heterosexuals that cheat taxes, rape college students, catcall women, shame people, discriminate based on religion, skin color, race, AND gender, then guess what, I’d rather a gay friend who offers kindness with no strings attached than other people who offer support but with a condition.

Which brings me to the title. Why don’t I believe in celebrating Pride Day?


Because I believe in celebrating a Proud Life.

Peace, love, and maki rolls to all.

Ps.: That's a rainbow roll and I'll gladly share it with anyone I care for :)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What have you done for your fav indie writer lately?

When you’re an indie writer it is quite usual to run everything solo in one way or another. For me it goes a little something like this:

Write, plan, organize.
Write, edit, proofread, read again.
Write, edit, add, subtract.
Market, contact, design or work with a designer.
Format, edit again, adjust, format.
Sacrifice a chicken to the writer gods to get the manuscript done.
Clarify that I was just joking and that no chickens were harmed in the writing of the manuscript or this post.
And eventually,
I publish.

The freedom to produce what we want is liberating but it goes beyond the writing. It is also about how we connect with our audience and how they connect with us. We want to be accessible to our readers. We want to contact them on a more intimate level rather than a commercial one. In the end, every single result we have and goal we reach or fail to reach is on us. But with a little help and support, the chances of us being able to continue on this path and not sell out increases exponentially.

Which does bring me to the title question: What have you done for your fav indie writers lately?

Have you followed them on social media? You know some of us do some snazzy things online, and amazingly, we’re not constantly shoving our books down your throat (Socks and bananas anyone?) Maybe you told some other readers about those indie writers? Have you shared any of their posts? Maybe you left a comment? Maybe you clicked like and subscribe? Maybe you even dropped a review?

Authors supported by big name publishing houses get a lot of buzz and although the majority of the time it’s completely justifiable, other times it’s just a lot of hype. But wayyyy beneath those best sellers there’s a group of people gunning for it, going for broke with some of the best books I have ever read. Here’s the thing, like it or not, these writers need the buzz a LOT more than a New York Time’s Best Seller. There is no marketing department behind their success. There’s just them and their readers.

When you’re an indie anything, odds are high you have a job to pay the bills. Writing is our passion but it’s hard to make a living with it. Some people do, and I’m thrilled to see when a great indie writer makes it. But for a lot of us, being sustainable is a goal; hell, even just breaking even is a goal.

Luckily, there’s always the writing and many of us do find some sort of salvation in what we create. I know I have… and on plenty of occasions at that.

Still; every sale, every media share, every referral, and every review fuels us more than you know.

I don’t pay for advertising. I know I should, but working in advertising, I often ask myself if a company wouldn’t do better to invest time and money and effort into what they make. So I apply this to myself. Rather than pay for an advert, I send money to an artist, I buy a banner, I put in the time and effort to connect with people online.

That’s why every mention is a blessing. That’s why we are so thankful and even surprised by every review we receive. Because we didn’t pay for it. Because we didn’t force anyone to do it. So maybe I don’t get the numbers I wish for because I don’t invest in advertising. I’m not saying there isn’t truth to that, I’m saying I’d rather grow organically, through grass roots efforts more than a full blown marketing plan. I’m clear I need to promote my work better and I will be doing that in the coming months. I have 10 books out and more coming soon, so it’s up to me to make it fun and memorable and not too advertising-minded. I have a couple of ideas and I’ll be doing them, but this brings me back to the original question: what have you done for your fav indie writer lately?

I’m blessed to say that some people have quoted me, done reviews, shared on social media, bought my book, gifted my book, promoted my work, taken pictures with my works, done fan art and supported in so many ways… so although I’m far from being able to make a living off my writing, apparently I’m doing something right… and for now, that’s good enough :D

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Lovers Tag

I recently read this tag on one of my favorite blogs, Lemon Shark (one of two blogs from the highly talented and doubly kind Sarah Brentyn). I’ve done countless tags on BookTube but now that I’m focused on getting back to blogging, I thought I’d give this one a go.

To read her post, click here.

Do you have a specific place for reading?
I honestly don’t. I try to make the most of any situation to get my read on, regardless of where that is. It could be in the park, the beach, in bed, or in the sofa. One of my fav places is the sofa (that is still in PR damn it!). That couch is perfect for lounging… as is a yellow chair (that is still in PR damn it!). I have also been known to get all pruney from reading for hours in the bathtub. I dunno, something about soaking in my own filth inspires me to read.

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?
Both, I have my trusty (albeit not the most functional) magnetic Ravenclaw bookmark. I have used receipts, pieces of paper, business cards, Joker playing cards (long story), and anything that serves as a place holder. But NOT a fan of dog earing pages.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?
I hate not finishing a sentence, paragraph, and chapter. But with age comes reason and knowledge and I’ve realized that crawling to the end of a chapter with one eye closed means I’ll have to re-read, so I cut my losses and shut it down… at the end of the paragraph at least.

Do you eat or drink while reading?
At times I do and I really enjoy it. Beer, wine, tea, and some weird soda have all kept me company. As for food, preferably something that’s not finger staining, i.e. pretzels, grapes, or chocolate (chocolate stains, true, but it’s chocolate and there are dementors out there people).

Music or TV while reading?
Big fan of reading with music on. I’m listening to music most of the day and often times I range about 3-4 hours of music a day at least (probably more). Case in point, right now I’m listening to Ani Di Franco as I write this. I use music to enhance my reading and I recently finished American Gods and was listening to a lot of Soundgarden while reading it.

One book at a time or several?
I’ve known to do way too many at the same time and I’m focusing on single reads this year. Slower going, but I am enjoying it more and definitely offers me a better chance to absorb what I’m reading. That said, I’ve been known to read 12 books at a time. This was last year. So you see why I’m trying something different.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
Whenever and wherever there is time. I love reading at home but read during lunch, waiting in line, in doctor’s appointments, etc.

Read out loud or silently?
If it’s a REALLY good line or passage, I read out loud. Poetry I often like to read about loud to really feel the line. For the most part, I do read silently.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I see no point in this. It’s like me offering myself a spoiler. What I do often is check how long I have to go in a section/part/chapter.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I used to be real anal about my books. Now I don’t mind them having wear and tear though will try and take care of them to offer them up for donation. I am not one to continue with clutter and I also got my library card, so woohoo!!! :D

Do you write in your books?
Only way to write in books is if I’m using them for research. Otherwise, pens have no place near my books :D

* * * *

Now to take a page out of my BookTube channel, I’m tagging the amazingly talented Larysia Woropay, the super kind Stephen Cleath, the incomparable Cate Evans, and the enchantingly articulate Eric Syrdal to do this tag :D

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Just an indie author at the 2017 Puerto Rico Comic Con

It’s official, that makes it four years in a row where we go to the Puerto Rico Comic Con and it was as fun and as unpredictable as it could have gotten. Here’s the thing, if you think you’re ready for an event, if you’re sure you know how it’s going to flow, THAT’S when surprises come.

Being in the Artist Alley, you get to see some amazingly talented people during the convention, artists, writers, cosplayers, and beyond. It is a huge melting pot of geekiness and everyone is there to have a good time, and a good time we had.

I was able to take my two new poetry collections Black Tie Affair and Roulette ofRhymes and reaction even during the PRCC was extremely positive. While some people wonder why I take poetry to a Comic Con, plenty of other people were more than happy to snatch up a copy of something very different that they can’t find anywhere else. That’s what some people said about my booth and I take that as a huge compliment.

It was curious because actually quite a few people wrote me to apologize because they couldn’t make it to the Con. That these people felt inclined to write and say that is beyond sweet and I just want people to be Ok and to have a good time wherever they are. One reader even asked me what was new to purchase via Amazon. I can’t even begin to thank this person and everyone who swung by my booth and there were plenty of visitors. People of all ages, all genders, and all walks of life. People who wanted to get a book and many who just wanted to chat and ask how they could publish.

From the Con there are some wonderful stories which I’d like to share:

“The future writer” – One young future writer came by on Saturday, we talked for about 35 minutes and I told her how I got into writing, what it takes, and to go for it. I showed her a copy of the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore and then one of the hand stitched daydreams from my first Comic Con. I told her that it took a lot of effort and money and sacrifice, but that I took a story on a piece of paper, and helped make it into my first collection of middle grade short stories. She asked if she could have the printed daydream and I said yes, if she insists on writing and sharing her work with us.

“One of each” – Carlos had come before to my booth in other cons. He came specifically to buy books and the only two books he didn’t buy were Only Human and Shadow of a Human… because he already owned them. To quote him, he said: “Give me one of each of everything.” I ended up gifting him 3 of the 7 Blanc Comics as a small thank you but to hear someone tell me that my work is different and is worth sharing means a lot.

"My dog ate my homework.... and your book" - a lovely fellow artist in the Artist Alley brought me the copy of Only Human his dog chewed on. After laughing subsided, I dedicated what was left of the cover and also signed him a copy of Shadow of a Human. Always happy to hear when someone devours my book, I must admit. :D:D:D 

“The Box” – One reader came by, pointed at Dark Strands and said “this is one of my favorite poetry collections and this poem means a lot.” She signaled the poem The Box and said it reminded her of her dad. I told her I wrote it thinking of when dad passed away and his funeral. She said it was the first time she read something that showed someone understood. Misty eyes ensued, she bought a book, and I gave her a big hug and huge thanks for sharing that.

“Frands and family” – To know that I’m a must see stop for certain people touches the heart and soul more than I can effectively communicate. It’s a beautiful thing to get to see people and know that a random indie writer from the Island is a must stop. My framily also came to visit, a select crew of Geek Ricans who have been coming to see my booth since the first time I decided to go for it. Their year round support is a beautiful thing to witness and they along with all the people who support me mean the world to me. I also got to touch base with people I hadn’t seen since like last year and at times, the Con definitely had that summer camp feel to it. My middle brother also went with my nephews and it was awesome to see them have such an epic time. I also got to meet several other Puerto Rican authors and buy some must get books from the Con.

All in all, it was a beautiful time shared amongst friends and geeks and it just makes me even prouder to say I’m a Geek Rican. So til next we catch up…

Peace, love, and maki rolls 

PS.: Here are some more pics from the epic experience.