Saturday, December 8, 2018

Some of your questions answered πŸ‘

I was recently invited to a library to talk about my writing but unfortunately, bad weather caused the event to be postponed. Since I didn't get an opportunity to speak, I decided to answer the questions here! 🀩

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I remember writing as a child and in fact, I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, due to lack of confidence and guidance, I didn't pursue my dream of becoming a writer until around 2007-2008. I published my first book in 2010.

When did you write your first book?

Fire was published in 2010. 

What inspired you to start writing?

Throughout the years, I've always hoped that my writing has caused people to think, to be empathetic and to see various perspectives. I enjoy provoking people because they are more likely to get involved in the story if they feel an emotional connection. 

How long does it take you to write a book?

I write a chapter a day and have 50 chapters in my books, so in essence, 50 days to complete the first draft. Editing and figuring out details such as a synopsis and cover image also take some time but it can vary. For the last few years, I've published two books a year. 

What is your genre and who is your main audience?

I always talk about how I hate being stuck in a genre because I like to think my writing falls into many categories: suspense, thriller, murder, crime, romance and so on. I even have a couple of books that fall into the fantasy category. 

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I gain information from simply reading about and watching documentaries and interviews about topics that interest me. Many of the topics end up becoming a part of my books. For example, I often read about cartels, violence and the psychology of a criminal, which ends up making it in my books. 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Check out this answer πŸ–•πŸΌand research time varies. I don't really pay attention to how long it takes. 

Do you write using a pen or computer?

Computer. However, I do write notes on characters and each chapter in a journal in order to keep organized and for reference.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Editing because it's very tedious and it requires extreme focus. Writing the back cover synopsis is always a challenge too but I usually have some help from other writer friends. 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Ten so far and my latest, And The Devil Will Laugh is my favorite to date. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? ( if you have any?)

I only write chapters early (like 6 AM) in the morning and I do so with no interruptions, unless necessary. I don't get up to eat, take out the garbage or anything else when I'm writing. I try to stay focused and not divert my attention because it's very difficult to get back once I do. 

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

It tends to be the other way around. I usually write around my work schedule. On mornings that I'm not working, I get up and write. On mornings I'm working, depending on how much time I have, I might do some light editing on previous work, work on social media, upload or record a video for YouTube or any other task that requires my attention. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I recently read a quote that said that writers aren't playing God when writing a book but are merely the secretaries. This is completely accurate. You cannot force a character to do what they don't want to do unless you enjoy getting writer's block. 

What is your favorite type of books to read?

Non-fiction about topics that interest me. 

Were there any authors of books that had a particular influence on you or your writing?

George Orwell. He was a genius. Orwell had the ability to observe and analyze human nature and create works of fiction that reflected how he viewed the world in a way that was served as much as a warning as an entertaining tale.


How do the books get published?

This could be a rather long answer but essentially, you can self-publish, seek out a smaller publisher who is interested in your specific genre or seek out an agent, who will, in turn, proposition larger publishing houses. Large houses generally only deal with agented writers. Always do your research when doing any of the above. There are a lot of scumbags out there. 

Do you design your book covers or how do they come about?

My publisher designs the cover but I pick out the image I would like them to work with and perhaps make suggestions such as, darken the image, colors I prefer etc. 

How do you market your books? 

I mainly use social media but I also use my website, send press releases when new books come out and give out bookmarks with all my covers. I'm always trying to think of new, creative ways but social media is my first stop.

Where can we get your books, other than here?

Everywhere online!! Check out my site for more details. 





Tuesday, December 4, 2018

All my books have a hidden theme 🀫

Did you know that all my books have a theme? This is the message that takes the driver's seat and creates a direction for the entire book or in some cases, the entire series. But why are themes important?

In a nutshell, themes are sort of the 'point' of everything you do. For example, when you pick a career, there's probably an underlying reason that goes much deeper than a paycheque and what areas you feel there are jobs. As a writer, I like making people think about things that perhaps wouldn't normally cross their mind. There are tons of other reasons but that would be the 'theme' of why I choose to write.

In my books, themes are essential because they are the lifeblood of the story. I think the best way to demonstrate this is to give some examples.

In my first two books, Fire and A Spark before the Fire, my theme was how our culture often doesn't see entertainers as real people but rather machines who's every move is meant to entertain us, their lives on constant display, kind of like an animal in the zoo. This was brought on when I watched as a celebrity had a very public meltdown and people were essentially laughing at her, rather than having any concern for her mental state. It frustrates me that we have tabloids and silly shows that focus on everything the stars are doing and actually, this has only grown worse since writing these two books. Of course, this wouldn't exist if there wasn't a demand.

My third and fourth book had a vampire theme, which is something I didn't want to explore but felt compelled to write about. Not surprisingly, the vampires in my books represent the 'bloodsuckers' or 'vampires' in our lives. Around the time I wrote these books, I felt that I was seeing an increasing number of people who fell in this category, not even in my own life but the world in general. We view it in the news pretty regularly as many of these questionable people are floating to the surface, in clear view. The Rock Star of Vampires is my first of two books that dive into this area and in it, we discover that the protagonist, although she's a vampire, is probably less of a vulture than other characters in her life. In Her Name is Mariah, we learn about a young, troubled woman who preys on others because it's the only way she knows to survive, therefore, showing both sides of the same situation.

My final books turned into an extended series that easing the reader into the whole world of organized crime, criminals and an underground world that most perhaps assume is a rarity, if they even believe it exists at all. The central theme is corruption, crime, collusion and the belief that sometimes it's hard to be certain who the 'good' and 'bad' guy really is; although my books follow a group of criminals, there is a point where readers see that the lines are often blurred. My goal was to make readers think and perhaps ask some questions, if only to themselves. Who really runs the world? Politicians, corporations, religious leaders....or is it you? Who controls what we see and what we know? Is it manipulated? These are the questions that I've explored as the series unfolded a couple of years ago and I continue to ask myself.

I think themes are as important for the writer as they are the reader. It gives us a focus that is bigger than simply telling an entertaining story but something that might have a bigger message.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Why readers love to be shocked? πŸ™€

I'm sure there's a part of our brains that light up like a Christmas tree when we read something shocking in a book. Let's talk about why. 

It's interesting how we're iffy on shocks and surprises in our everyday lives but we do love it in our entertainment. There's something about the unexpected that is alluring; I've often said that I'm sure there's a part of our brain lights up when something exciting or stunning happens to our favorite character (in books or television) that we never saw coming. It's called being entertained.

As I'm writing a book, I tend to be very conscious of when the story is starting to take a low point. It doesn't mean it's not crucial, however, I don't like to have things go an even course for too long. My rule is if I'm feeling a little bored, so is my reader and therefore, it's time to shake things up.

Shocks can come in many forms. It could as simple as a character's comment or reaction to a situation or something more alarming, like violence, an impromptu sex scene, an argument, unexpected news, sudden death, illness or when unexpected characters show up. Of course, there are many other options but the main idea is to add something that readers didn't see coming; and ideally, neither do you, as the writer.

Shocking twists keep the story alive. Remember, readers, want to be entertained, so entertain them.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Why do you have to be as much a marketer as a writer? ✍️

If you're about to publish your first book, it's time to sharpen those marketing skills! Let people know about your book, what it's about and most important of all, why they should read it.


  1. Make your front cover pop! Realistically, marketing begins with the cover. Make it eye-catching. If it grabs the reader, they're more likely to investigate further and see what the book is about, which brings me to...
  2. Create freakin' awesome description on the back cover. Your job is to make them want more! Choose passionate words and descriptions to captivate them. I always have difficulty with the back cover summary so often ask other writers for their help in order to capture what I'm trying to say in a couple short paragraphs. 
  3. Send out a press release with a cover photo. Start with your local media, smaller newspapers, free newspapers, radio, and televisions stations, send it everywhere! Not everyone will respond but at worst, you're creating awareness of your book. 
  4. Change your signature at the bottom of your emails. This allows anyone you send an email to know that you're an author, what your book is called and even add an image of the cover if you can.
  5. Post it on social media. This is one of the best tools in your toolbox. Social media is a FREE and outstanding way to let people know about your new book. Be creative. Present the cover, share reviews, events etc with your readers and friends. Have a page or account dedicated to your writing life so people can find you and learn about your book.
  6. Videos are nice. Not everyone is crazy about recording videos but I find it helps to let people learn about you, your books and it's another way to capture attention. It also gives you an opportunity to discuss your books, increase your confidence and make you more comfortable talking about your writing in interviews and events. 
  7. Ads are doable but expensive - so look for deals. You can pay next to nothing for ads or you can pay through the nose. Be careful who you're dealing with too. There are a lot of scammy, suspicious people out there. I receive an email from sketchy companies attempting to sell me marketing packages every week. 
  8. Bookmarks are the best! I have bookmarks made with all my covers on them and where to find me online. Remember, bookmarks travel, can be shared and are just fun to give out. 
Of course, there are many other things you can do, such as have book signings, speak at your local library and have book launches but these were just a few quick ideas. 

The important thing to note is that marketing will be a big part of selling your book. It doesn't matter if you're the most famous author in the world or an indie author who has just written their first book, this is as essential as turning on your laptop to write the first chapter. If you aren't sure, research online, see what other authors are doing and check out books on the subject. Good luck! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How do you write books so fast? πŸ™€

One of the most common questions I get asked is how I write my books so fast. This is probably because I'm averaging a couple books a year for the last 2-3 years. Of course, there are a few contributing factors such as more time and the fact that I'm writing a series where I already know the characters which make it easy to pick up where I left off.

To begin with, I have made writing a priority. Currently, my living situation allows me to work part-time so I can focus on my books. This isn't by accident but a decision I have made for this point in my life. This allows me to provide an appropriate amount of time not just on the writing itself but on social media and other forms of marketing for my books. This won't be forever but it's for now so it's up to me to make the best of it.

That aside, I schedule very carefully. Depending on my work schedule or what I have to do, I tend to organize my time so that I accomplish something every day. I get up early to write (6 a.m) on my days off or when I have later shifts. Scheduling the time is very important because if I waited until I 'felt like it' or when I'm 'inspired', there's a chance I would take a long time to write my books. Inspiration is when I jot down notes but writing time has to be planned around my schedule.

I write one chapter per day. I try to avoid stopping halfway through the chapter because it's very difficult to get back into the same headspace if I walk away and return later. Editing takes longer and is much harder to schedule because some chapters are easier to get through than others and of course, there are many rounds of editing before the book is sent off to the publisher. Meanwhile, when I'm finishing a book, I also have to start thinking about what I want on the back cover for a synopsis (I usually have a couple people assist me on this one) and of course, the front cover; what kind of image do I want? What colors work best? What will grab attention?

On days that I'm working or busy, I plan other things that are also relevant to my writing. For example, I might record or upload a video on a morning before going to work (depending on the time) or, at the very least, prepare and check social media.

Social media in itself is time-consuming. I'm on a few platforms so I must keep it up to date, check notifications and always be thinking of new things to add to keep things fresh. I'm on social media every day. There are some places that I focus more on but unless I have no internet access or am physically unable to do it, I'm on there every day working up a storm.

It's essentially up to me how much time I want to dedicate to my writing and therefore, it's also up to me to make the best of the time I have each day.






Friday, November 2, 2018

Knowing the ending first 🀭

I know it is common practice for many authors to 'write the ending first' when outlining a book. However, I don't. In fact, there are two things in that sentence that I don't do. I don't outline and I don't know the ending when I start writing a book. I like the surprise element and always figured that if I was shocked by the ending, then the reader would be too.

But then...I geared up to writing my 11th book and something very strange happened. I knew the ending first. 

I fought it. I tried to push it aside but the final scene was much too strong for me to ignore. This forced me of getting out of my comfort zone and although it did make me hesitate for a short time, I eventually started the book with the ending crystal clear in my mind. 

I won't lie. This freaked me out. 

Of course, we're always a little freaked out when we go out of our comfort zone. That's just human nature. I'm now 13 chapters into the book (as opposed to the accompanying video that says 5; This was recorded a week or two before writing this blog) and so far, it's going pretty smoothly. For now, I'm just along for the ride and who knows, maybe things will still end up differently than I expect after writing the next 37 chapters. πŸ˜„After all, characters have an incredible way of surprising us.




Friday, October 26, 2018

Do writers need a high word count per day? πŸ’»

Something I've noticed a lot of author's comment about is their word count per day and often, their stress to meet a certain target in order to be successful. But should they be worrying at all?

I guess it's really a matter of opinion. Word count has never been a concern to me, other than whether or not I have too many words when I finish a book. It's not something I think about each time I sit down to write and I certainly don't check my word count per day - ever.

Having said that, we all need a way to measure ourselves when it comes to a successful day. I simply like to write a chapter with each sitting (note I said 'sitting' not per day. I firmly believe that it should be done in one shot in order to not lose your momentum or train of thought) and with that I'm happy. I don't feel like a failure if I don't reach a certain amount of words and in my opinion, neither should you.

The problem is that if you set your sights on so many words per day, what ends up happening is it can become your focus more than the actual writing itself. It also might end up that you create a 'wordy' piece of writing that you'll have to cut from later on. Also, a lot of words doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be pure gold. It's kind of like the girl who wears a lot of makeup; sure, some women will do it to perfection and walk away looking like a model, but most of us will end up wiping half of it off because we don't want people to think we have the makeup gun stuck on 'whore' (and yes, this is a Simpson's reference πŸ˜‰)

The bottom line is that I don't like to see any writer put stress on themselves to meet some crazy target because it actually can make writing feel more like work than a project that they love. And if that's the case, what's the fucking point?