Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

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.


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, 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?


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Why words matter πŸ—£

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.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

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. ☺️





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.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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.



Sunday, September 16, 2018

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?




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.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

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.



Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It's All About Perception πŸ€”

We all have our own unique perception. Two people can look at the same picture, watch a movie or read a book and interpret it differently and that's ok. We all judge or see things according to our own, individual experiences and opinions. For example, someone who's had a violent past may cringe at the idea of watching a movie filled with bloodshed while someone else might thrive on the same film.

For that reason, I don't think authors should be offended when people don't like their writing. In fact, it doesn't matter if you're a bestseller or a new author, fresh off the presses, there's going to people who connect with your work and others who simply aren't interested. It depends on your choice of topics, your style of writing and as I said in the last paragraph,  even their own experiences in life that color how they view the world. And that's ok. You don't have to be for everyone.

It's just a matter of perception.

I've also had people read my books and interpret them very differently than how I had intended. I've had readers miss crucial points and others still who didn't like certain characters. Of course, on the flip side, I've had readers that totally understood and connected with the plot, noticed things that even I had overlooked and had a fascination with specific characters.

Unfortunately, many writers (and artists in general) spend more time focusing on the negative and unpleasant rather than the positive. I guess that's human nature. We zero in on the criticisms and to a point, that's a good thing because it's sometimes a learning curve or a lesson for us. Other times it's irrelevant and not something we should spend any time overthinking.


Why Editing Almost Made me Quit Writing 😩

I think every writer goes through a phase where they want to quit writing. There are numerous reasons for this but for me, it was editing.

With my first book, I hired a professional editor. I paid a lot of money to have my work fine-tuned and, I thought, perfected. How did that work out?

Actually, I had readers complain about the errors and grammar. I was not pleased.

With my second book, rather than hire a professional editor, I had a few people with a good eye to edit my book for me. One of these people actually complained about how my first book had many 'distracting' errors, so I thought this would be the perfect person to help. How did that go?

People complained about the errors and grammar.

By this point, I wanted to quit writing. I tried the two logical ways to resolve this issue only to get shit on regardless, so clearly I was hesitant to try again.

Did I mention that most of my biggest critics were other writers?

At any rate, I feel I've since worked out the kinks. Now that I decided to not allow these criticisms from holding me back from doing what I love, this seems to be less and less of a problem. Having said that, I will make a few suggestions for other writers about to start the editing process.


  1. Check grammar, punctuation, spelling...you know the routine. I would suggest you also use something like Grammarly and I've also used Polishmywriting.com. Sometimes these sites catch things you might miss. 
  2. Check for any unnecessary words. For example, I have a tendency to overuse the word 'just'; so I will go through my manuscript to see when it can get deleted. There are many other words like 'really' and I think 'always' is another one. I would do a Google search to see what other overused or unnecessary words you can cut out. 
  3. Does everything make sense? Does your character's reaction fit his/her personality? Is that a normal reaction? I once read a well-known book where a character couldn't perform a very important task due to illness and had her (clearly) less mature and inexperienced friend take it on. Who does that? Most people would either keep looking or drag themselves from their death bed. 
  4. Do things line up? Did your character schedule a party for next week and suddenly it's taking place a month later? Did she leave the house wearing a red dress and come home to remove a black one? Is she blonde in chapter one and suddenly a brunette in chapter two? These are errors that easily be made especially when you have a lot going on in your manuscript and many characters to keep track of.
  5. Not only do you need to worry about typos for regular words, what about very common names, places etc? Your character may live in 'Lonemon apartment buildings' in chapter three and  'Lomemon apartment buildings' in chapter twenty. It's easy to make this kind of mistake. I have a 'Maria' in my books but have checked through the final manuscript for 'Marie' just in case. It's so easy for your eye to miss this kind of error and even easier to do so when typing fast.
  6. It doesn't hurt to fact check if you aren't 100% sure of something. I have a lot of Spanish in my books so I often research to make sure I have the correct spelling and meaning. Sometimes I will check other things I'm iffy on; for example, is it 'toe the line' or 'tow the line'. 
  7. Always have help. If you can't afford a super expensive editor, find some reliable friends and family members with a good eye. They may catch things you've missed along the way. 
  8. You're not perfect and chances are some errors will still slip through. Don't hate yourself for it and certainly don't quit writing if it's your passion. No one is perfect. Not even other writers (or your critics)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Do we judge people by what they read? πŸ‘©πŸΌ‍⚖️

Let's be fair. We all judge. Whether it be other people's life choices, taste in music or clothing, we all kind of judge from time to time. It's actually none of our business but it doesn't stop us from occasionally turning up our noses when noting other people's decisions. 

Books, as it turns out, are no different. This was something I discovered while in my 20s. A date dropped by my apartment to pick me up and immediately mocked me for reading fiction πŸ€­(I wonder what he would think he if he knew I now wrote it πŸ˜†) He immediately turned up his elitist nose at me and attempted to shame my decision to enjoy a VC Andrews book because it was merely 'fluff', especially compared to his non-fiction library. Needless to say, he's not on my Christmas card list.

The point is that there are some people who judge others by what they read and I'm sure, also by what they write. I've had people giggle at the fact that I wrote a couple vampire books but sit up a bit straighter when I describe my recent series of blood-thirsty gangsters. It's interesting to see just what is taken a bit more seriously. 

When I put the question out (with this original YouTube video πŸ‘‡πŸΌ) whether people judged what others read, I got a very candid yes in reply. What do you think? 



Why did I start writing? 🀨

Probably one of the most common questions that I'm asked is why I started writing. After all, I was in college studying business in 2008 when I suddenly dropped out to pursue my dream. It was definitely the road less traveled and to some, it probably seemed stupid to return to a dead-end job while I wrote my first book but to me, it was what I had to do.

There are a few reasons why writing quickly became my passion.

  1.  I wasn't finding the kind of books that I wanted to read so I wrote them. Not to suggest there's nothing out there that I enjoy reading but it was more to the point that there was just something missing. 
  2. I wanted to make people see another point of view. Let's explore the other side of things. For example, in my first book Fire, I talk about a rock band's rise to fame and the unexpected negative side that came with instant fame. In my vampire books, I question whether these mystical creatures of fantasy are actually everyday people who happen have some fascinating strengths. And in my recent series about gangsters, I ask whether or not we are clear who the 'good' and 'bad' guys are anymore. There are sometimes some very grey areas.
  3. I wanted to make people think. Corruption, collusion, racism, white supremacy, Big Pharma, celebrity, untrustworthy corporations....you will see many topics and issues brought up in my books, even if it's merely a passing comment by a character. My goal is to make people think and look at things from a character's perspective rather than the often, black and white version we see on the news. 
  4. To discover a magical world. Sometimes I'm shocked by what my character's do. In fact, I'm always fascinated where the story will take me and just like many of my readers, I can't wait to see what they will do next!