Thursday, October 18, 2018

Should we allow readers to be our censorship police? πŸš“

I always tell the story about a woman who criticized my first book, Fire. She said 'If I took out all the F-words, your book would be half the size'. Of course, she was kind of a bitch on a good day, so I wasn't surprised when she made this snarly remark to me back in 2010. If you've read any of my books since that time, you already know that her thoughts did little to sway me and I continue to use a lot of profanity and graphic content in my books.

I don't do this for shock value (which has also been suggested by one particularly gnarly reviewer back in the day) but because it is my style. This is how I choose to write. I don't exactly sit down in front of my laptop and think 'what can I write that will shock people the most' but I do follow my writing instinct and admittedly, it sometimes takes me down a dark, twisted and even questionable road but one thing can be assured, I'm never bored. To me, this is a good sign. If the writer isn't bored, chances are good the reader won't be either.

The truth is that only in very extreme situations is a writer going 'too far'. There are 'how to' books out there that would make the most insensitive person a little ill 🀒and although there are some that definitely cross the line, for the most part, we have to consider freedom of expression. And the really beautiful thing about freedom is that it kind of goes both ways. I'm free to write what I want and you're free to not read it if you believe it's too offensive. πŸ˜‰


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Why words matter

If you've ever been in an argument or had a misunderstanding with another person, chances are you're already aware of why words matter. We often find ourselves in situations where words should be picked carefully especially when there's a risk of being misinterpreted.

Not to suggest that we're already great when picking our words. If you're like me, during particularly rushed or stressful times, an entire sentence can fly out of my mouth and not make any sense at all. It happens. We're human.

So how important are words in writing?

When we create a scene, a conversation or show what characters are doing, it's important that the best words are selected for creating the mood. For example, in And the Devil Will Laugh, I had help preparing the back cover because I wanted to be certain that I chose the best words that summed up my book. I wanted to show the intensity, the fierceness of the characters, to create a sense of what to expect....

...he and his loyal foot soldiers will muscle in and tear off a big chunk of it for themselves. 

This, of course, creates a pretty strong impression of what kind of characters can be found within the pages of the book. If I had chosen instead to simply say that Jorge planned to 'move in and with the help of his associates, would take over' it simply wouldn't have the same impact.

Also, keep in mind that each character has their own kind of dialogue. For example, Jorge Hernandez, the protagonist in my last few books, is known for often saying "I don't got time." When he says this, it's usually a sign he's aggravated and is about 5 seconds from rushing out the door and he wants a situation resolved now. Each of my characters has their own, unique dialogue patterns and expressions.

With dialogue, its also important to remember that it can vary according to a character's education, age, ethnicity, experiences, and even attitudes.

Words do matter. Pick yours carefully.






Friday, September 28, 2018

Start your book with a bang! The importance of chapter one 🀩

Chapter one is your chance to grab readers by the throat and make them want more!

We see it all the time in television show pilots. It's up to that original episode to captivate its audience and make them coming back for another week. Something has to shake things up in order to create an interest with the viewer and books are no different. 

So what do people want to see? It really depends. Some people are drawn in by action, adventure, drama, violence, and sex, while others might be intrigued by a unique character, an unexpected action or perhaps the protagonist is going through something that connects with the audience. The main point is that the start of anything, whether it be a movie, book or television show must make the reader or viewer want more. 

I always say that you should start chapter one in the middle of something relevant to the rest of the book. For example, in my last book And the Devil Will Laugh, the protagonist and his associate are visiting the (soon to be) editor of a large newspaper in hopes of swaying him to write articles in favor of both himself and a political candidate he is backing. Meanwhile, across town, the protagonist's wife is murdering the current editor, who didn't go along with his previous wishes. This ties in with the rest of the book because violence and media manipulation are a huge part of the entire book. Also, this is in the middle of the action. I didn't start chapter one with the characters discussing their plan to bully the media or the protagonist having breakfast before he left the house, I jump right into the action. 

Catching a reader's attention is very important. With so many other books, the Internet and of course, Netflix as ways to be entertained, readers can easily pass up on your novel and move on to something else; so give them a good reason to not want to put it down.




Monday, September 24, 2018

Why L. M. Montgomery Rocks! πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

So why does L. M. Montgomery rock? I'm going to tell you....

To begin with, she wrote and published books in the early 1900s, which was a time that I somehow doubt many women had careers let alone authoring books. I'm no history expert but I'm pretty sure that the usual career for women in those times involved pots, pans and a lot of screaming babies but as I said, I'm no expert.

Furthermore, she wrote about a feisty character named Anne - with an 'e', by the way - who was quite assertive, occasionally bold and didn't have an issue with breaking a slate over a boy's head on occasion, if you know what I mean. In fact, she probably has a lot in common with my character Diego who also likes hitting people with inanimate objects (except he prefers a baseball bat 🀭) and also has a feisty streak.

That aside we're talking a female character in the early 1900s when children were to be seen and not heard and little girls were supposed to be ladylike and obedient. Anne was a strong little girl, which is quite admirable and something I have a lot of respect for as a writer. As a woman, I think this is important and I believe L.M. Montgomery felt it was important too.

How amazing it is to be from the same province as this legendary author. 🀩




Fire πŸ”₯

Fire was my first book, published in 2010. The story follows protagonist Tarah Kiersey as she set her sights on the music world, joining a band that quickly gets signed. She learns the many ups and downs of working in the industry, how her life vastly changes (not always for the better) and how conflicts within the band can make everything just a little more difficult. Did I mention she has an affair with two of her bandmates?

First, there was a match.
In 1992, Tarah Kiersey wasn't feeling very optimistic about her life. From dead-end jobs to dead-end relationships, she failed to see how anything could ever improve. But at least, she had her music.
Then, there was a spark.
There was something about holding a microphone that made Tarah feel alive. And there was something about how she sang that made people listen. One of those people included William Stacy, a young musician who invited Tarah to join his band, Fire. She said yes and her entire life changed overnight.
And now there s FIRE!


The book was quite popular and later followed up by A Spark before the Fire featuring a secondary character, Jimmy Groome. The books overlap slightly, however, each has their own unique perspective. 



A Spark Before the Fire 🎸

The character Jimmy Groome originally showed up in my first book Fire in 2010 and later became the protagonist in A Spark Before the Fire, a few years later. Although the two books are connected, they overlap more than one being the continuation of the other. For example, in A Spark before the Fire, Jimmy's story starts at age 10, when something traumatic happens to his character. However, the book follows him through his teenage years and into his early twenties, when he meets Tarah, the protagonist from Fire.

The really cool thing is that you are able to see Jimmy's point of view to a few things mentioned in Fire, where the protagonist is a woman. As you can imagine, they often see things from vastly different perspectives.

Here's a brief summary of the book:

Jimmy Groome never really believed that his life was worth anything. An overweight and unpopular teen, it takes a suicide attempt to bring a traumatic childhood experience into sharp focus. With some encouragement from family and a counselor, Jimmy picks up a guitar and it quickly becomes obvious that he has a natural talent. After losing weight and joining a band, Jimmy goes from being a shy and insecure child to an outgoing and self-destructive young adult. In a world where sex, drugs and rock n' roll goes hand in hand Jimmy’s future is uncertain.
In this prequel to Fire, we follow Jimmy Groome on his dark path, where he decides if he'll ignite the fire inside - or if he’ll let it burn out and fade away.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Rock Star of Vampires πŸ§›‍♀️

The Rock Star of Vampires was my third book and my first time I tackled the topic of vampires. I would later follow it up with Her Name is Mariah. 


With this book, I explored the idea that perhaps vampires weren't so different from everyday people; with only a few exceptions, one of which was their need to drink blood. I compared it to most people's need for specific vitamins in order to maintain a balance. Also, my vampires had heightened senses. For example, they would be able to see the pollution on trees, have enhanced taste buds and the ability to hear sounds from miles away.

Here is a quick synopsis of the book:

Did Hollywood get it wrong? A year after transforming into a mortal vampire, Ava Lilith continues to have a lackluster life. The new dietary requirements and the intensifying of her senses aside, she continues to face unhappiness rather than the glamorous and provocative lifestyle that television and movies would suggest. She then learns of an underground society of immortal vampires, led by the mysterious 'rock star of vampires' Cloaked in shadow, this Immortal sect controls the major powers of the world - from business and finance to science and politics - all manipulated for personal gain and to keep their existence concealed. Ava finds herself drawn to this secret world where she could live forever and pursue all her dreams. But what will she lose, in order to gain immortality?