Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts

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.


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.




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˜‰


Monday, September 24, 2018

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.


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. 










Friday, September 21, 2018

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

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.




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.




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

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?





Characters, Characters, Characters! Why we love Awesome Characters! πŸ˜‡πŸ˜ˆ

Is there a character that you love? It doesn't matter if it's on television or in your favorite book; is there someone that stands out and is exciting to watch or read about? Why is character development so important??

If there's one thing that stands out to me in a great book or television show it is awesome characters. In my mind, these personalities (or lack there of...) can make or break a show. You can have awesome plot twists, terrific writing but if you don't have characters that people connect with, it falls flat.

We like variety, diverse and dynamic characters. As I've said before, personalities that jump off the page because they seem so real, so interesting; they're the people you want to learn more about with every chapter or in the case of a television show, each episode.

Characters should grow especially if you have them in a series. Just like everyday people, it seems a bit unusual to not see growth or at the very least, a change in opinion over time. As you learn about the characters, they're often learning about themselves. Even more interestingly, the characters you're drawn to might also be telling you something about yourself.