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?



Her Name is Mariah πŸ§›‍♀️

Her Name is Mariah is the second of my two vampire books. The first one was The Rock Star of Vampires and it received such a warm reception, I was inspired to follow up with one of the more prominent characters, Mariah Nichols. 

Mariah Nichols was adaptable. She lived through her parent's bitter divorce, a childhood of neglect and the discovery that her only sibling was transgender – so the concept of turning into a mortal vampire was just one more adjustment in an already chaotic life.
But when tragedy rips through Mariah's heart, she realizes what it takes to survive in the world. She must become like an animal and run on instincts not emotions, or so she thought.
Her name is Mariah, and this is her story.









Saturday, September 22, 2018

Different Shades of the Same Color πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’œ❤️

Different Shades of the Same Color was my 5th book.


It all started when Natasha Parsons hit her head - in a very undignified manner- at her uncle's political fundraiser. Suddenly, she finds herself exiled to the country and discovers some surprising truths about both her family and her own life. In a world of prejudice and judgment, Natasha quickly learns that we are all different shades of the same color, but is she ready to accept the darkness that lurks around the corner?  

The story was a slight diversion from my other books. A young woman who came across as whimsical and possibly flighty fluttered through the book in a series of crazy adventures until the shocking end. 


Although the character of Chase Jacobs made a brief appearance in this book, he would turn up again in We're All Animals, with an explanation for his unusual predicament. 

This was a bit of an unusual book that captured a lot of attention when it came out in both the media and with fans. 










We're All Animals πŸ₯Š

We’re all animals; led by our desires, ready to fight in the light of fear yet with a soul that leads us on a path to wherever we must go.


It started with a broken heart and it took no time for Chase Jacob’s world to spin out of control. An unwanted pregnancy allows his mother and obsessive future bride to manipulate and control his life, turning him bitter and resentful. His destiny becomes a dark road to misery and whenever he tries to take the wheel, temptation only leads him further astray.
When a provocative and sinister side of life introduces itself, Chase discovers there’s an animal lurking inside each of us; a powerful creature that wants to take over. But will he let it win?

It became the series that wasn’t meant to be a series! Starting with We’re All Animals we follow Chase Jacobs from his days in small-town Alberta to the big city, where he connects with a group of sinister characters in the follow-up, Always be a Wolf.   
The books are then taken over by a new protagonist, Jorge Hernandez. Mima’s most loved character, Hernandez is bold, abrupt and always gets what he wants. Part of the Mexican drug cartel, by the time we reach The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, it’s very clear that Chase Jacbos has stepped into a world of organized crime. We follow the group along in A Devil Named Hernandez where they start to get involved in politics and the legal pot industry…but don’t worry, the murder and mayhem continue right through to And the Devil Will Laugh


How Do I Start my Book? πŸ“š

I will admit that there is a lot of time and effort involved in writing a book. However, once broken down into small, manageable tasks, it actually isn't bad. Of course, it also has to be something you enjoy, otherwise, you will be struck with writer's block, find excuses not to work on it or probably toss it aside altogether.

So let's begin!

Your tenth-grade creative writing teacher probably told you to outline everything before you start writing. I disagree. For me, this would never work. There has to be a certain amount of spontaneity involved to keep it fresh and interesting. If you can easily plot out the chapters and figure out the ending before getting past chapter one, chances are your reader will too. Remember, readers are very savvy and automatically try to figure things out as soon as they pick up a book. If you have no idea what is going to happen until you're typing it, chances are they will be just as surprised.

Not to say you shouldn't jot down ideas but I wouldn't bother organizing right away. You can picture specific scenes, conversations, events and know they're going to fit in somewhere, you just don't have to know where yet. Also, you must follow the natural flow of the story and take the characters into consideration; how will each action affect them? What is their own unique path or struggle? How does it fit in with the rest of the story?

Of course, I'm talking about fiction but what about non-fiction? Are the rules the same?

I probably would have an outline for something that falls under non-fiction, but with room to breathe so that you can see how the story flows and which angle it takes. Make sure it is factual and be ready to list any sources you might be using. Remember, you don't want to get sued.

Regardless of what you write, the first draft should be fun. Editing is another story. Let's not go there today. ☺️





Thinking about doing a video blog and actually doing it! 🎬

I wasn't exactly comfortable recording my first video blogs. In fact, I barely breathed while recording the first several videos but I also recognized that this was a challenge I had to take on. It was for my writing and therefore, necessary that I get comfortable talking about my writing.

Over 80 videos later, I'm probably a little too comfortable since recording the video below, however, there are still things to learn. With each video, I see what I can improve. It's really the best way to learn.

The beauty of recording a video is that people can see who you really are and if you do so without editing or overproducing, it looks much more authentic. The idea of perfecting my makeup, figuring out perfect lighting and all these other things seems like a waste of time for a short video that really, is just a way to communicate about my writing to those who are interested. I'm not trying to become a television or Internet star. This is simply to talk about my books and answer some questions that I'm regularly asked.

Having said that, I know people talk about doing videos and it never gets beyond the talking stage. I think most of the time it's a lack of confidence or maybe even not any real interest in doing the work. Doing these videos is relatively easy, however, you have to be ready to jump in front of the webcam and not overthink every detail. You have to consider your content; not which shirt to wear. If anyone is watching your videos and are more concerned with your appearance, chances are they aren't really interested in the topic you're discussing anyway. (unless you're actually talking about fashion, makeup or hair)

The best tip I can give anyone interested in recording a video is to simply do it. It doesn't matter if it's perfect or if you even share it with the world, you just have to try.


Friday, September 21, 2018

The Authors that Inspire Me! πŸ“š

Although I don't have a 'favorite' author, I certainly have a few that have greatly inspired and amazed me along the way. Here's a quick list of who they are, why they inspired me and how this reflects in my writing.


  1. Douglas Coupland. A few years ago I read Worst. Person. Ever. and was shocked...in a good way. I had never read anything so brutal, so blunt and cutting. It was awesome! Few books shock me so when one does, it definitely has my attention. Coupland's work definitely inspires me because through him I've learned to color outside the lines, to not worry about having characters that were less....pleasant and that sometimes people enjoy the shock, a surprise that grabs them by the throat in the middle of a page.
  2. George Orwell. Pretty famous guy. Wrote a book called 1984 and Animal Farm. Both remind me a lot of....well, we won't get into that but trust me, if you watched the news anytime after November 2016, you probably already know. At any rate, I loved his insightfulness, his observations and the beautiful way he demonstrates it throughout his books. This inspires my writing because rather than simply writing about what is happening, I allow my imagination to wander and write about what could happen.
  3. Gabby Bernstein. The only author (other than myself) who I own every book of, simply because she is amazing. Unlike the first two, her books are spiritual but I take so much from her words and find that her philosophies sometimes have a way of working into my stories and characters. It might seem hard to believe considering my characters are...shall we say, less than moral but you know, even dark souls sometimes see the light. 
There are just three amazing authors that inspired me along the way. There have been others and there will be more in the future. 


How do I pick out my book titles?? πŸ€“

People often ask me how I come up with book titles. The key is to come up with something that is catchy, demands attention and is sharp. That's not to say that all my titles fall under these categories, however, I like to think I'm getting better at naming my books.

With my first book Fire, it was pretty straightforward. The story was about a fictional band in the 90s called 'Fire' and that was as creative as I got with that title. The follow up was A Spark before the Fire, which was pretty much an attempt to connect the two titles, letting people know that this book was kind of the prequel to my original book. Also, there is a line in the book where someone referred to the protagonist as 'a spark in the sky'.

I thought my third book, The Rock Star of Vampires, was a pretty catchy title. This was in reference to 'the rock star of vampires' that Ava was attempting to learn the identity of throughout the book.

From that point on, most of my titles come from a line from the books themselves. For example, Her Name is Mariah is a line from the book. This is also the case in Different Shades of the Same Color, We're All Animals, Always be a Wolf The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, A Devil Named Hernandez and And the Devil Will Laugh

Having said that, here are some interesting notes. In Different Shades of the Same Color, the title comes from a comment that suggests that we, as humans are pretty much the same regardless of race, religion or any other trait that supposedly makes us different, we're just 'different shades of the same color'.

We're All Animals references a conversation in that particular book where it is suggested that regardless of how soft or fierce we are as human beings, we're essentially all animals led by desires.

Always be a Wolf comes from a line Diego Silva says throughout my last few books, which is that many people choose to be sheep but given a choice, one should always be the wolf.

All my 'devil' titles are in reference to Jorge Hernandez and are books where he's the protagonist.

A title should capture the essence of a book and give readers a sense of the overall theme that awaits them.







Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why do authors bug the shit out of you for a review! πŸ™„

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not shy to ask for a book review.  It doesn't have to be a long review, it doesn't have to have a lot of detail, it just has to be some reflection on what the reader thought of the book. A simple 'I enjoyed this book' would be sufficient.

And it's not about ego. Authors don't chase down reviews to feel good about themselves but because it gives new and potential readers some insight into what kind of books you write. I can say whatever I wish in my YouTube videos or blogs, put what I want on social media or create a terrific description for the back cover but sometimes what people really want is an outside party's point of view. What kind of book is it? Was it a fast read? Did it keep you hanging on? Was it exciting? Did it leave you wanting more?

Not that authors don't appreciate positive comments outside of reviews. In fact, we love them!! Like, with all the big hearts in the world ❤️❤️❤️we totally love them but unfortunately, people who aren't familiar with us or our work might be skeptical. Many readers stick with the tried and true authors, the ones everyone is raving about online and whoever is on Oprah's reading list and that's understandable but it makes our job finding readers a bit more difficult.

A review can make a difference. I know I've certainly hesitated to purchase a product (especially online) unless I was able to compare reviews to see what other people think. I've also heard it can affect your ratings on Amazon too but I'm not really sure if that is true. I'm guessing it can't hurt though. ☺️

So that's why authors bug the shit out of you for reviews.


Switch away from the protagonist?? Don't mind if I do! πŸ˜ƒ

Something I started doing a few books ago is to switching away from the protagonist for one chapter. So essentially, I have another secondary character take over the story for one chapter, usually around the middle of the book, in order to give the reader another perspective. It also gives me an opportunity to shake things up a bit. It adds another layer to the book.

The beauty of it is that you can have a better overall view of the protagonist. For example, if your protagonist has a specific point of view about themselves, you might swing around to another character who draws a completely different picture. It gives the reader food for thought. Maybe the impression that the protagonist is giving isn't completely accurate. Then again, it might also change your opinion of the secondary character as well, since you will be seeing them up close and personal.

I do this with almost every one of my books and find that it really gives me a different perspective too. Sometimes the only way to really understand where a secondary character is coming from is to climb inside of their mind. It's really fascinating.


Always be a Wolf 🐺

Always be a Wolf is my seventh book  and the second in my current series. It follows We're All Animals and follows the lives of a group of people heavily involved in organized crime. Here's a quick synopsis of the book:

In the gripping sequel to We're All Animals, Chase Jacobs moves to Toronto with his Colombian bosses, Diego and Jolene Silva, where they expand their elite sex party business. The underground's best-kept secret is going legit, but just as Chase starts a brand new life, tragedy strikes.
The heartbreaking lessons ahead of him are the most difficult he's ever had to face, and Chase must rely on his new family to help him through. But will his blind faith in Diego and Jolene prove to be a mistake, and has he underestimated just how far they are willing to go to prove their loyalty?
He learns there are times when passion and anger cause you to throw away the rule book even in the face of deadly consequences. He learns that words have a great deal of power but not as much power as silence. But most of all, Chase learns that in a world full of sheep, one should always be a wolf.




Let's talk about Chase Jacobs - SPOILER ALERT! πŸ₯Š

Chase Jacobs is a fan favorite because he is gentle, kind and very much the boy next door. He tries to do the right thing in most situations and is known overall as a salt of the earth kind of guy.

Chase came along in the first book for this series, We're All Animals and has stuck around for the entire series. When we first met him, Chase was 18 years old and just graduating high school. Suddenly dumped by his first girlfriend, he was confused about what had gone wrong as he hung out at a house party. After one of the guests sets her sights on him, she slips something in his drink to 'loosen him up' and the two end up hitting the sheets. Although it was automatically a regrettable mistake for Chase, it quickly becomes more regrettable in the weeks that follow when he learns that the girl is pregnant. From this point on, Chase's life starts to spin out of control.

We continue to follow along with Chase at the protagonist in Always be a Wolf and we later switch gears, when Jorge Hernandez takes over as the protagonist in The Devil is Smooth like Honey, A Devil Named Hernandez and And the Devil Will Laugh.

Chase is also half indigenous, young, attractive and an overall sweetheart. ❤️This is why so many of the other characters are so drawn to him. In one of the books, Jorge Hernandez even jokes, " Why does everyone fall in love with Chase Jacobs?"




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Let's Help One Another! 🀝

Independent artists and small business owners have a lot in common. They're both working hard to get noticed (often as a side project along with a job) and don't really have much money to invest in advertising. It's a struggle - but it's a struggle that's filled with passion. Anyone who has a side project probably isn't doing it for money alone because as any new business owner or indie artist will tell you, it takes time to show a profit. They'll probably also tell you that they wouldn't be doing it if they didn't love it.

Somewhere between the time I published my first and second book, I had a friend insist I was crazy. Not to suggest she wasn't totally wrong but her specific reason was that I invested in a book and advertising and wasn't making stacks of cash back. To her, I was wasting my time. Here's a spoiler alert; we weren't friends much longer. πŸ˜„

We have to follow our passion. It's not just for potential financial gains but the personal growth stemming from the challenges and the many learning opportunities along the way. Had I never written a book, would I even be the same person? Where would I be now? Would I still be friends with that imbecile I mentioned in the last paragraph? I can't even imagine.

Artists and small business owners need to work together and try to help one another out. Be open-minded and know that by helping someone else, you're indirectly helping yourself too. To a degree, it is an unselfish act but it also makes you feel pretty good to give a hand to someone you know has been working hard to get ahead. Always be open to new ideas. Maybe you never considered (or wanted to consider) having a YouTube channel but another artist suggests you start a project together. Maybe another business owner wants to collaborate together on a promotion. Hear people out and consider their ideas. You never know where it might lead.

Another great tip is to look into Buy Me a Coffee. This is a great way for people to 'buy you a coffee' through a donation in order to help you have a slightly smoother ride on the road to success.

Follow your dreams because without them, what do we really have?


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What are my books about? πŸ€”

One of the most commons questions I'm asked is what my books are about. You would think this would be one of the easiest questions to answers however, it is somewhat complex to tackle.

As it turns out, there are a lot of subjects that I cover in each book. For example, my first two books are about rock stars...but they are about so much more. For example, Fire is about the commercialization of the music industry, the unexpected stress and pressures of fame and the reality of our obsession with celebrity.

I later wrote two books about vampires. Just as with the last example, the books weren't just about vampires.  In The Rock Star of Vampires, for example, I talk about how this group of people is essentially like the rest of us except that they need to drink blood in order to live. It is like a vitamin to them. You discover their challenges and attributes that aren't always so glamorous. I also discuss their struggle with these sudden changes in their body and how they view the world. There's so much more going on than just being vampires; issues with family, friends and life. As it turns out, being a vampire doesn't automatically solve all your problems.

My last series is about organized crime/narcos. As with the other examples, these books are also about many other things; loyalty, family, health, social issues like racism and so much more.

No book is ever just about one thing and in fact, most books are vastly complex when you really try to break them down.




Always be a Wolf 🐺

Always be a Wolf is the follow up to We're All Animals and is the second book in Mima's current suspense/thriller series following the dark world of organized crime.

In the gripping sequel to We're All Animals, Chase Jacobs moves to Toronto with his Colombian bosses, Diego and Jolene Silva, where they expand their elite sex party business. The underground's best-kept secret is going legit, but just as Chase starts a brand new life, tragedy strikes.

The heartbreaking lessons ahead of him are the most difficult he's ever had to face, and Chase must rely on his new family to help him through. But will his blind faith in Diego and Jolene prove to be a mistake, and has he underestimated just how far they are willing to go to prove their loyalty?
He learns there are times when passion and anger cause you to throw away the rule book even in the face of deadly consequences. He learns that words have a great deal of power but not as much power as silence. But most of all, Chase learns that in a world full of sheep, one should always be a wolf. 




It's all about energy! ⚡️

How important is the balance of energy between characters in a book?

Some characters have a high energy level whereas, other characters are a more low energy. The key is to have the right mix in order to balance everything out.

I learned this lesson after writing my first book, Fire in 2009. The book was about a band and right off the bat, there was an obvious imbalance of power between the characters. The protagonist, Tarah appeared to be on her own against two other band members whereas, a fourth band member wouldn't get involved in the dispute. In comes a fifth character that automatically jumps on Tarah's side and causes a more balanced playing field within the book. This doesn't mean there has to be one side against another but a general balance of energy.

Another example would be the couple in my latest book, And the Devil Will Laugh. Jorge and Paige Hernandez are very similar in some ways, yet vastly different in others. Personality wise, they are worlds apart. Jorge is loud, blunt, abrupt and aggressive whereas his wife Paige is quiet, soft, calm and fair. The two balance each other out in many ways which works in their various scenes together.

When you think about it, real life isn't so different. There is always an energy dynamic.



Passion and Writing 😍

Why is passion so important in writing? Why are we drawn to explosive arguments, passionate scenes and violence on television and in books? Why do we enjoy a fight in the middle of a hockey game?

We love it because it's in our nature. There's something exciting about people who are passionate in love or anger. We love a character that isn't afraid to show their emotions. This is because we're often encouraged to hide our own feelings, especially those that make other people uncomfortable. So maybe watching others express themselves gives us a bit of satisfaction.

Human nature is interesting. As much as we hate it when a fight breaks out in the middle of a wedding or during a family event, don't we also kind of move a little closer to the action? It's because we get a little jolt of energy watching people when they show such intense emotions. Why do you think dramas and thrillers are such popular genres?

A great example would be if you're watching a hockey game and your team is losing. You're kind of discouraged and suddenly, a fight breaks out! Someone on your team is really giving it to an opponent and this causes your interest to soar. This is because even though your team is still losing the game, at least you see that they are passionate about it. And there's something about that makes you feel a little bit better.



Monday, September 17, 2018

How did I get started writing? πŸ’»

People often ask me how I started writing. My story probably that original but here goes...

I was a huge fiction fan as a child (Oh! Those days at the Bookmobile back in the 80s!) and eventually began to jot down some of my own stories. Not to suggest they were elegantly written by any stretch of the imagination but the point is that I let my creative side out because I thought it was fun. Eventually, I started to write little 'newspapers' called 'M News' which featured cutout images from magazines and various flyers to accompany some zany story that I would throw together. I can't remember any of the stories now just the basic format.

Later I moved on to writing longer stories but I think I was just dabbling in writing. My imagination was pretty big but I wasn't great at putting it all together yet. I think I simply enjoyed daydreaming.

At 16 I wrote my first full-length manuscript, a teenage drama that seemed more scandalous and fun than anything I was reading at the time. I feel like I may have sent it off to publishers but I don't recall if I heard anything back. If I did, it was definitely a rejection. 

I stopped writing after that point for a number of years. In fact, it was well into my adulthood that I decided to return to college to take business (why? Don't ask!) and within a very short period of time realized that it simply wasn't for me. I also realized that what I really wanted to do was write.

I ended up taking a creative writing course and then starting my first book, Fire, which was published in 2010. 


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Support an indie author and they will love you forever ❤️

How can you help out an indie author? Here are a few suggestions:


1. Write a book review. It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't have to be long either. Just something to      let others know that you loved their book!

2. Social media!! You got to socialize. ☺️Share, retweet, post a comment, like, share the author's
    book cover on your wall. Be creative.

3. Suggest the book to your library. It gives the author a sale plus puts their book in more people's
    hands.

4. Word of mouth! Talk about the books. Tell people.

These are just a few simple ideas. Thanks for the love.


We need more diversity in books πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡²πŸ‡½πŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­πŸ³️‍🌈

More than ever, I believe diversity is important in books. Having said that, when I started writing back in 2009, it hadn't even crossed my mind. Much has changed since those days; my most recent books featuring characters of various ethnicities, some of which from the LGBTQ community and although I don't bring up religion often, the topic has come up a few times in my books.

As a child growing up in Canada, I don't recall reading many books about characters that weren't white, which seems unusual for a multicultural country. In fact, when considering many of the books I've read over the years - including bestsellers - I believe the majority featured mainly Caucasian characters. Interesting.

Now, I go out of my way to both read and write books with diversity because it's important. Why is it important? Well because it's realistic. That's our world. Why do we need it now more than ever? Turn on the news and you might get an idea. Governments and narrow-minded groups are attempting to divide us but the beauty of books, movies, and television is that we have the ability to bring us together and show that we really aren't so different after all.

And that's why diversity matters. I challenge other writers to include it in their books.



BOO!! Let's talk about Ghostwriters! πŸ‘»

Until recently, I always thought a ghostwriter was someone who assisted a less experienced person in authoring a book. For example, maybe a celebrity or some other public figure wants to write an autobiography and needs some help putting it together. Of course, I also didn't give the topic a lot of thought one way or another. It was no big deal.

And then - get this - I spoke to someone who told me that it was actually quite common for famous writers to have someone else do the work. He specified romance novelists however, I got the impression that it didn't start and stop there. In fact, I believe some pretty famous authors also use ghostwriters.

Why do I care?

Well, like most of us, I never really respect anyone who allows another person to do the work and then take the credit themselves. That's not cool. Furthermore, if I buy your book, I want YOUR book. I don't want a book with your smiling face on the back cover and someone else's words in the pages. Isn't that kind of like buying a knockoff purse? Sure, it might say Louis Vuitton on the bag but if you paid $20 to a guy selling purses in the back of his van, you're actually purchased a counterfeit purse. Except, of course, ghostwriting is legal. Also, you're going to pay the same price for the book authored by the ghostwriter as you would if you bought the same book authored by...well, the person it's supposed to be authored by in the first place.

Some argue that writers run out of ideas, don't have the time to write etc and I have to tell you, I have no compassion. I work and squeeze in writing, social media and all marketing for my book in my spare time, so you really aren't going to get any sympathy here. Furthermore, when did an author's name merely become a trademark rather than something that represents integrity?

And what about the ghostwriters? I realize that they're getting paid but if they write a best-selling book with someone else's name on it, why aren't they also getting the credit? I sincerely doubt the super famous author is going to publicly acknowledge that someone else did the work for them, nor give them credit for their 'brand' becoming more successful as a result. However, I could be wrong.

What do you think? How do you feel about ghostwriters? Does it matter? Would you feel differently about your favorite writer if you learned that they had someone else write their books?




The Devil is Smooth Like Honey 😈

The Devil is Smooth Like Honey is the 3rd books in the current series by Mima. It follows We're All Animals and Always be a Wolf. Here's a quick overview of the book.

El narco. A monster. Un diablo. Jorge Hernandez had been called many things, and it always made him laugh. If there was one word that could be used to describe him, it would be untouchable. Corrupt politicians combined with his charming disposition had contributed to Jorge’s success, but it was often the underlying threats behind his handsome smile that sealed the deal. He was unstoppable.
In Paige NoΓ«l, he had met his match. She was a woman as dangerous and sadistic as she was soft and gentle. The last thing he expected was to propose after an explosive first meeting, but the intense fire between them was as addictive as the thrill of violence and power.
When some of his personal enemies turn up dead, Jorge shuffles his daughter into a Canadian school, deciding that things are getting a little too hot in Mexico; but does life ever slow down in this dark underground world?  

The good news is if you love the books, there are more following Hernandez and his crew:

Check out the CBC interviews, local articles and more at www.mimaonfire.com



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why do we love the anti-hero? πŸ”ͺ

Oh, those bad boys and girls! Don't we love them?

There's just something about the rebellion and going against the grain character that we love. Perhaps it is the fact that these characters sometimes do what we wish we could in real life? Is it because we get a small thrill about 'sticking it to the man'? Is there something attractive or sexy about the character that thumbs their nose at the world? What is the draw to this character?

When most of us were children, we were often given the impression that there were 'good' and 'bad' guys in life. The good guys could be trusted. The bad guys should be avoided. It was pretty simple and to the point. Bad guys always had mustaches and looked shady, while good guys wore a suit of some kind of 'respectable' uniform (so, like, not the one from when you flipped burgers in college).

However, if life teaches us anything (especially now that the Internet sheds light on a lot of dark corners) it is that the lines in the sand aren't always so clear. Maybe the religious figure from your youth turned out to be a pedophile or you witnessed a cop beat the crap out of an innocent citizen. Whatever it was, you may now have a slight aversion to what you once viewed as the 'good guy' and find yourself slightly intrigued by the 'bad guy', therefore making you drawn to characters who don't exactly play by the rules.

Of course, I could be overanalyzing. Maybe we just like watching bombs blowing up everywhere and some devilish character pushing the button. What do you think? Why do you love the antihero (assuming you do)? Maybe the answer might surprise you.


Friday, September 14, 2018

The Curse of Chapter Two! ✌🏼

For some reason, I often have issues writing chapter two. I guess it's because there is so much drama in chapter one that it seems to kind of fall flat in comparison. Also, I'm responsible for setting up the story and introducing the characters in the first couple of chapters and after all the crazy events (hopefully!) in chapter one, suddenly I'm left to pull it all together.

At least, that's what I try to tell myself.

In honesty, since recording this specific YouTube video talking about the issue, I've been going out of my way to make chapter two as dynamic as chapter one. I learned that it was important to keep up the same energy For example, in my book The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, I have a very interesting scene between Jorge Hernandez and Paige NoΓ«l after they meet under unusual circumstances. In fact, this is probably one of my better chapter twos.

Is there a curse of chapter two? Perhaps it was a challenge I merely had to take on.


What is the best order to read your series? πŸ“š

It was the series that wasn't mean to be a series! 🀦🏼‍♀️However, that's fine because some of the coolest things in life happen when they aren't planned and this would be one of them.

In 2016 I wrote a book called We're All Animals with no intention of making it the first book in my current series. It was about a boy next door, very salt of the earth type guy who has his heart broken right out of high school, hooks up with a girl he's not really interested in at a party, she gets pregnant and his life suddenly takes an unexpected turn. There's a lot of drama in this book and it can get pretty dark however close to the end, a character named Diego Silva pops in and he was so intriguing, I felt the need to write another book about these characters.

Always be a Wolf came out in 2017 and continues to follow Chase and his journey after he moves to the city and starts a new life. We kind of touch on this a bit in the last book but things really take off in this second book. Unfortunately, he struggles with an unthinkable situation that tears his world apart. Toward the end of the book, Jorge Hernandez comes in like a hurricane and takes over as the protagonist.

The Devil is Smooth Like Honey came out in the latter part of 2017, giving us a proper introduction to Jorge Hernandez and his twisted world. New characters continue to be introduced, the series moves forward with murder and mayhem that will knock your socks off.

A Devil Named Hernandez was released in early 2018 and continues Jorge's journey through his dark world. In this book he is focusing on overtaking the Canadian pot industry, working his way through each province and not allowing anyone or anything to stand in his way. Just like the first book with Hernandez as the protagonist, you're taken on a crazy ride that never stops when learning about his day to day life that is anything but ordinary.

And the Devil will Laugh is the most recent book in the series, released in summer of 2018. Jorge continues to work to take over the pot industry, one province at a time while getting deeper into the political world with the goal of making his own rules. Murder and mayhem continue to be a theme as is racism and his fight against white supremacists.

I like to think this series has a bit of everything; romance, suspense, murder, comedy (although, dark comedy to be fair) and an unexpected family connection that you wouldn't expect. This group of people believes that loyalty is the most important thing and that you make the family you want.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Why Women Rule the World (or at least, why they should) πŸ‘ΈπŸΌ

Do women rule the world? Maybe not quite yet but there's something to be said about a strong female character, whether it be in books, television or movies.

Now, I'm not saying that females have to be tough as nails all the time. I'm not even sure if that is realistic when talking about any characters; male or female. However, I think there is a happy medium somewhere between Cruella de Vil and Snow White. I don't think women find soft, weak characters a fair representation of who we are as a gender.

I think it's important that female are neck and neck with male characters. They should be confident, have self-esteem and be intelligent. They should be independent and empowered. Most of all, they shouldn't feel any guilt or shame for showing strength. 

I recently watched a television show that portrays women as weak. I know that for this particular program, it makes sense and serves as more of a warning than an accurate portrayal however, it was hard to watch. Actually, it was somewhat infuriating. It's not something I could ever do as a writer. Then again, maybe this would be a good challenge for me. 



What do I learn from characters? 🀨

What do we learn from characters and how does this connect with our own lives? Do I always agree with my character's decisions? Why is it important to follow them along on their journey with no judgment?

To begin with, characters can teach us a lot about life. Just as with life, sometimes you have to let go of the wheel and let the characters take over and see where it takes you. In everyday life, it's usually a lot easier if we do the same. Not to say that you should be lying around on your couch waiting for an opportunity to come to the door but rather, that sometimes it is better to not be overly controlling about your day. We often have a 'to do' list that is unreasonably long and then get discouraged when we can't check everything off. To a degree, the same thing can be said of characters and plots. You can't force them ahead but rather, let them move at their own speed.

Having said that, my books tend to move very fast. Of course, they don't always go in the direction that I had expected but if a character surprises me along the way, that also means that my reader will most likely be surprised too and isn't that we all kind of want?