Thursday, January 17, 2019

Join us in saying #CheersMamaEstrada

Life has a way of giving you some amazing friends throughout your time on this world… so how lucky am I that I was born from one of my best friends? 


Today is the beautiful Mama Estrada’s birthday. 70 years young. 3 sons raised. 4 grandchildren. 8 fur babies that have gone through our home and now for the first time ever, a feline friend. She’s seen and done many things, lived in Cuba, Miami, Puerto Rico, and even Trinidad and Tobago. She’s also the best example of resilience, patience, and perseverance I know. If you’ve read this blog, follow me on social media, read my books, or just know me, you know I love my Mom to infinity and back.

I’m writing this because although I want to celebrate her, I want you all to know how much it means to her every time she sees a #CheersMamaEstrada to toast to her good health. Some people respond best to thoughts and prayers, but Mom responds better to people having a good time and toasting to her, with a smile, a cheeky inappropriate joke, and having a good time. If you get a bit tipsy, that's just a bonus for her.

When it comes to my writing, people have asked me where my inspiration comes from and a lot of what I write about is inspired by life in some point or another. When it comes to Mom, she is the inspiration for Mrs. Fawn a recurring character in the Human Cycle, the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore, and most recently in Given to Fly. She was also a huge inspiration for my Spanish poetry collection, Pensando en Metáforas, where I poured my feelings out about a lot of my experience while she was getting treatment or undergoing surgery. 

I’ve learned a lot from her but one of the biggest things is that regardless of how tough things are, you always have the choice to smile… and trust me, life has put her resolve to the test. She has recently started her third round of chemo, but even with that and all the other things she’s had to face, she continues being true to herself. She has style, grace, cheek, and has often offered some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten… and it’s been because she offers it as my Mom AND as my friend, because she is both.

It’s taken 2 things for me to not talk to her every day. One was a category 5 hurricane that devastated my home and knocked out communications with Puerto Rico for months. The other one was when she went on a cruise two weeks ago. I don't mind the second reason that much :) Still, every day we talk 2 or 3 times a day and to me, it’s a soul supplement to talk with Mom and that’s been the case so often in my life that there’s no point in keeping count. I include her in my stories because although it’s easy to want to keep her for myself, I’d rather share a slice of her with the world. Too often, men feel shy about expressing love for their mom, but often there are guys who wear their hearts on their sleeve, regardless of what sport or profession they work in. I am of that second group and shall always feel completely at ease saying how much I love my Mom.

I share all the good vibes we receive for her and this is another chance for you to join in the fun. If you want to leave a message for Mama Estrada and maybe even say cheers, go to my Facebook Author page and share some love with my Mama.

Much love, and til next time.

Peace, Love, and Mama Estrada


Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 - A breakthrough year


After I put up my report card for the year that’s closed, I always do a blog of what I expect for the new year. Last year I also wrote a mantra that though I didn’t repeat it every day, I did put it into practice. 

For this year, I have a new mantra:

“I believe in me. 
I believe in my work.
I am successful. 
I am grateful for every lesson.
I am paying attention. 
I am growing every day.
More and more people join me on my Writer Journey every day.
Forward is the way to go.
Now enjoy the ride.”

For some reason, I’ve always found it tricky to accept I am successful. It's always sounded kinda douchey and conceited in a way, but the reality is that success is defined by the individual and progress means there is some sort of success. So I may not be a NYT Best Seller… but for the first time I feel comfortable adding the word yet to that sentence above. As time passes and different types of people read my work, I realize I’m not half bad… and if people who kinda suck can be successful, then there’s no reason why I can’t breakthrough… and I honestly think this year will mean I have several types of breakthroughs… 

The plan shall be more concentrated this year as well and you’ll see with my goals below. Last year I nailed several goals even when circumstances weren’t ideal. It was a good reminder that sometimes you just need to stop paying attention to the ideal conditions you'd like to have and just do the thing. So here are my goals for 2019: 


PUBLISHING GOALS

1.Book 3 of the Human Cycle. Top of the list. Front and center. And get ready… it’s going to be intense. 

2. Collaboration with UK author Cate Evans– Cate is a good friend who has offered support a lot throughout the last several years. We hit upon a concept we thought could be fun to write and we got to writing a novel. It’s a dark comedy and a delight to write. 

3. Daydreams Vol 2. – I’ve mucked about this one for long enough. 2019 is the year.

4. Blanc Comics in book form– I am tweaking and adjusting this, but it is progressing and a project I believe in a lot. 

5. Philosophy coffee table book – text is written. Now I just need the artist to get his neurons ignited ;)


WRITING GOALS

1. Poetry. Continue working on my collections. Several in the works and enjoying the process. No due date. Only goal is for these to grow… and last I checked it’s 5 collections running at the same time, because that’s how I write. 

2. More consistent blog writing. I do enjoy blogging and it’s part of my efforts to have a positive impact with what I do, so why not more of what makes me happy? 

3. Story arc for 3 series. I do enjoy doing research and there are 3 series I will be working in the future and want to work on world building for each of them. No specific goals, just want progress for all three.

4. Historical paranormal fantasy story. I had originally wanted this for Wattpad, but I will be tweaking this concept to do something different with it. This will include plotting, organization, character development, and world building. 

5. Concepts for Spanish fantasy middle grade books. I have been meaning to write more in Spanish and have 3 ideas in the works. Will begin organizing these as well. 

6. Contemporary comedy set within the advertising industry. Continue jotting down ideas and finalize the story arc. 

7. A special project with mom. Still pending but still in my mind.

8. My Noir Novel. Begin it.

9. Greek mythology project. Begin it.

10. More songs. Already have 2 new songs plus a couple of older ones I haven’t gotten to recording. 

11. Book Events. Have sent emails to participate in 3 events: Jordan Con, Atlanta Comic Con, and Puerto Rico Comic Con. Emailed Barnes and Noble to see if I can do an event. Will email 3 bookstores to get events. Wish me luck.


OTHER Goals

Get more reviews. I REALLY need your help here. Be it good or bad, please leave a review. It promotes sales, gives visibility, and helps out immensely. 

Website… progress will be made. 

Be on the best of year list of at least 10 people. ANY suggestion to get on this list is welcome.

Get nominated for somethinglol. Any help will also be accepted for this one. :D 

Estrada Crates. Sell 12 Estrada Crates in the year. That’s one per month. 
Humans 4 Humans. Organize my #Humans4Humans efforts more to have less activities and a more focused impact.

Release electronic music EP. Already have the first version of the tracks. Will tinker more with them soon… and a cover.

Record and release music. I have a pretty good bank of songs… wouldn’t mind recording and releasing, because why not? 

Social Media. Organize myself more to be more organized and also schedule social media breaks.  

So there you go, fellow humans. What do you think of these goals? Which are you looking forward to the most? What are YOUR goals? What do you think of the mantra? Any and all thoughts welcome. Wishing you a cracking 2019 with health, happiness, and success… because why not? 


Peace, love, and maki rolls.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Report Card

So another year down and another report card coming up. I had mentioned in my 2018 goals post that this would be a year of focus and that was the intention, but intention and results rarely stay on the same page. Coming after Hurricane Maria, life threw me plenty of challenges. The lesser one was a change in my day job. Better pay, but more responsibilities and plenty of changes that brought forth a lot of challenges to stay focused and find time for what matters to me. It’s not that I neglected them, but finding time was ever more challenging, that’s for sure. The big challenge came in the form of Mom being diagnosed with cancer again. It was a hellishly rough year for her, but she gave such an amazing example of perseverance and of maintaining a bright attitude regardless of what life threw at her. 

(I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone who helped me keep Mom in the positive with #CheersMamaEstrada efforts where we toasted to her good health. This was an idea from an amazing friend and also a very talented writer, Larysia Woropay. She has always been a stellar friend and offered me and my loved ones constant support and I’m happy to return the favor for all of her writing goals and life in general.)

On so many occasions people offered great support and I was able to push through for many of my goals. If you know me, you’ll know I’ll say I could have done more and I honestly think that’s always the case. I had a mantra I started the year repeating daily but I dropped this habit and I’d like to stick to it for this year. 

My 2018 mantra was: “I practice discipline and focus to always pursue relentlessly that which matters to me. I smile at my path and walk it grateful of the journey, the lessons, and the progress I make daily.” 

Even if I did stick to it, I think I could have read it more often and it could have served as a reminder at times to stay on the path. Also, I do these posts in part for motivation and in part to maintain accountability and see what I did from the things I said I would do. I’m not a fan of talking much and instead doing… so let’s see how I did. 


PUBLISHING GOALS

1. For Writing Out LoudDone. I will be doing For Writing Out Loud books every 4 years curating, editing, and formatting entries from my blog to make a non-fiction book. My non-fiction work is focused on making a positive impact and I know this book helped out at least one person this year, my very good friend Christie Stratos (click here for her review of the book). 

2. Given to Fly – Getting the right cover was an adventure in and of itself but GTF got the cover it deserves. Raphael Tanghal did a brilliant job and I was also able to enjoy getting some invaluable feedback from beta readers. It has been a very gratifying experience and possibly my most successful book release yet. I did videos, podcast interviews, guest blog posts, teasers, a playlist on Spotify, and more. 5 reviews in its first month might not seem like a lot to many people, but that’s a truckload for an indie author, so my thanks to everyone who has let their thoughts known on my 13thbook. 

3. Peace, Love, and Maki Rolls – My second non-fiction book release also did pretty well and has also connected with a couple of people. It was the second of three books I released and I designed the cover myself from scratch. 

4. Method to Madness – I was not able to work much on Method to Madness because of other challenges and goals I was meeting but I was able to contribute to two non-fiction releases that will be forthcoming this year from friends in the UK and Australia. I still have to give this more structure to feel I have something worthy to share. 

5. Daydreams Vol 2. – another project I wasn’t able to finish but I suspect 2019 might be the year. Will talk more about this when there’s more to tell :) 

6. Natural Intelligence– I halted work on this project because two people whose opinion I value had some issues with where the manuscript was and BOTH recommended I read the Martian by Andy Weir. Will be reading that book and revisiting this project later in the year. 


WRITING GOALS

1. Write 3 new poetry collections beginning in January. I honestly do think I set goals a bit too high and ambitious because I was taking into account how my job normally was. That changed drastically and poetry didn’t came uniform but I have grown two of those collections a lot and do believe more progress shall be done. The new challenge is to ensure 100+ pages to have a spine for future collections, because why not? 

2. Organize, write, edit, and publish a book with writing tips and techniques. Will be organizing this a lot more to get it to where it has to get before release. 

3. Bilingual poetry collection. Worked a lot on a Puerto Rican collection and a bit on this one. It’s been an interesting process and since I have several collections out, I think I’ll focus on really dialing into these collections and editing poetry for a different challenge and approach.  

4. Puerto Rican Haiku collection. Didn’t get one haiku done, but do have the titles so that’s something lol. 

5. Make a print version of my Blanc Comicsto push this project to the next level. Working on this and still tweaking. We’ll see the end result sooner rather than later I hope. :D

6. Begin work on a historical paranormal fantasy story exclusive for my Wattpad page. Again, ambition got the best of me and didn’t even make a dent on this goal. Hell, I didn't even open Wattpad last year I think lol.

7. Write a Spanish fantasy middle grade novel set in Puerto Rico. Something I’m still mulling over in my head and until I have the right idea, I won’t dive head first. 

8. Begin work on a contemporary comedy set within the advertising industry. Have actually jotted down a LOT of ideas for this project. Let’s call it inspiration courtesy of life. :D

9. A special project with mom. Still pending but still in my mind. 

10. My Noir Novel. Still no progress… grrr.  

11. Greek mythology project. Still no progress… grrr Pt 2.  

12. Begin work on Book 3 of the Human Cycle. Did manage to get some work done on Book 3… expect more news and calls for beta readers soon :D 

13. More songs. Didn’t do a ton of songs but did enough to feel happy about. Have more songs to do so shall continue doing this. 

14. More interviews. I was in a bunch of  interviews and panels, did new appearances on YouTube shows (Beautiful Bookish Geeks podcast, Spilling Ink, guest video on Lily Bloom’s BookTube channel). I also did a LOT of interviews and am happy with how those turned out. 

15. Book Events. I was very determined to change this drastically… I only managed one appearance in a panel on Dragon Con but that’s a start. Pity coverage was negligible; I think we had a fantastic discussion.  

16. Puerto Rico Comic Con. Didn’t go last year as reported… but we’ll see what replies I get for 2019…….. stay tuned for my goals post. 


OTHER Goals

Get more reviews. I did get a couple of more reviews, but this continues to be a huge hurdle. We’ll see how we can tackle this. All ideas welcome :D

Website… it wasn’t finished…….. but progress :) 

Be on the best of year list of at least 10 people. I have NO idea if I was on anyone’s best of 2018 list… we’ll see if that changes :D

Get nominated for something lol. Still clueless AF when it comes to this. Oh well.  

I compared my year to a boxing match and it definitely did feel that way. I got tagged a couple of times by life and did hit the canvas, but I always got the hell up and kept pushing. That’s what it’s all about for me. Always forwards. Have to give it all for an inch of progress? Then so be it. I got a couple of inches in last year and I’ll take that to the bank. 

So I scored myself B- for 2017. Some people said I was too harsh with my judgment and maybe they’re right, but in the end, you have to feel comfortable with your progress and I wasn’t comfortable with mine for 2017 because I didn’t believe I’d maximized opportunities and my results weren’t what I wanted anywhere. Didn't publish what I wanted, sales were low, Puerto Rico Comic Con I broke even, no book events stateside, and honestly felt as if I didn't make the most of what I could have. 

2018 was a different beast altogether and it packed one hell of a punch. It brought the fire to so many people I care about and along the way, we lost some people, some were afflicted with some sort of illness or injury, relationships years deep went the wayside, and overall, I think most of the important people in my life faced a deep challenge or another. That said, I’m proud of so many people with how they’ve pushed on and if 2018 was a year of focus, I think it showed that although we didn’t win that marathon of a year, we finished it. We pushed through. We persevered and damn it, that’s a huge victory. Throughout the year I also did a LOT of efforts to do my part to promoting my #Humans4Humans effort and I think it was a great first year for that and a lot of my energy did go into that. The support throughout was amazing and I am humbled by every person that helped me help other causes, be they localized like getting school supplies to kids in Yabucoa, to supporting EB Awareness as my thanks to Eddie Vedder and the Pearl Jam family for a lifetime of inspiration, to helping friends get enough money to pay the rent or pay for medical treatment and keep pushing. I am a big believer that if you can help and even a bit of you wants to help, you such indulge in that feeling. 

For this year, I shall be contacting several people to do less but more concentrated efforts to help people. But off the bat, thank you for helping others and helping me help others. These are crazy and tough times and I think it’s an invitation to offer the best we can and show that we have more that brings us together than what divides us. I know the times we live in but I refuse to believe kindness is beyond our reach. 

So all in all, I think I got a B+ for 2018. 

If you’re wondering what it takes to get an A… then let’s see what we can do this new year. I don’t believe I deserve an A for last year but I do think I did way better than circumstances invited, and that’s a win for me. A big win. 

Thank you for the support, the inspiration, the light, the kindness, the generosity, and for so many of you offering such a beautiful example of going for it, of perseverance, and of sharing the better things humanity has to offer.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.