Friday, April 12, 2019

Do your books have social commentary? 🧐

The world is a hot mess right now so if there ever was a time for social commentary in the arts, this would be it!

I've always been a fan of social commentary in books, movies, television, and music. In fact, for me its an important part of the writing process. I love the idea of planting a few seeds for readers to ponder. I'm not doing so to change their mind but rather, to give them some food for thought. Quite often we get locked in our opinions and stubbornly refuse to see the other side but can we make a fair decision if we don't? 

When it comes to the arts, books, movies, and television are sometimes a more tangible way to process information. News stories and documentaries are often slanted, possibly more with the concern of capturing ratings. However, fictional works show the emotional side of some difficult subjects. The human being behind societal problems has a face. As they say, before you judge, walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Books, movies, and television allow you to do so.

Having said that, there are various topics and questions that writers will bring to light for the reader's consideration. For example, in my book The Devil May Lie, Paige NoΓ«l-Hernandez has concerns about her weight and references a recent magazine article that suggests women 'her age' have to work twice as hard to slip back into those favorite pair of jeans. Her husband Jorge is quick to ask if this specific article was followed by a page of ads for weight loss products. Of course, we know that advertising is often targeted and in some cases, created to make potential customers more insecure about a problem that they may not have previously considered. Welcome to the world of consumerism!

As a writer, I want my readers to think. Ideally, I would love to believe that they read my books with an open mind and heart, that their ideas may be challenged or perhaps they are relating to specific comments or chapters. I hope that the characters stay with them long after finishing the book and maybe even inspired them. I guess I want to believe that my books shake things up a bit; whether it be the reader's ideology, imagination or how they see themselves. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Devil May Lie - Let's talk about a pivotal moment in the book 😱

Up until about the halfway point of  The Devil May Lie, the format was quite similar to the previous books in the series. Not to suggest that the story was predictable however, fans have an understanding of how my characters tend to react to any given situation. For that reason, I instinctively threw a monkey wrench in the halfway point of the book, intrigued to see how things would fall into place.

I specifically chose to have a tragedy take place in an indigenous community then show a combination of racism and government neglect to demonstrate, to a more intense degree, what is actually happening with Native Canadians. The event was very difficult to write about and didn't get easier with each set of edits however, I felt it was necessary to make a point. In the story, it's this straw that broke the camels back and causes outrage throughout the country that quickly spills over to the demographic of Canadians who simply feel neglected by the government; those living in poverty, immigrants and essentially anyone who seems to have slipped off the radar. In turn, this pushes the government to do something drastic; they approach a charismatic Canadian named Jorge Hernandez to join their team.

Now, I don't have to point out the irony of dangerous criminal with blood on his hands being asked to join a political team. But you have to remember, nothing is officially 'known' by the public and therefore, they simply see a strong candidate who isn't afraid to say what he thinks on the platform. They see an immigrant, someone who calls out his own government and has risen from rags to riches, making him both relatable and inspiring at the same time. However, I feel it demonstrates how low many political parties are willing to sink in order to find a winning candidate. Perhaps it is not such a stretch to say that they would nominate the devil himself, if they thought it would result in them winning.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Does everyone have a creative side? 🎨

Let's face it. If you're 17 years old and talk about your dreams of becoming a writer, a rock star or a painter, chances are you may not be taken as seriously as someone who talks about college, degrees and any profession that requires an intense science program. In fact, most creative professions are kind of pushed in the same category as psychics, witchcraft, meditation, and anything spiritual as being a little woo-woo. You know, it's interesting but can you make money with it?

The interesting thing is that if you're really good at any of those things, you probably can make a lot of money once you have a following. People are intrigued by psychics, artists and yes, even witchcraft, however, most people don't take them seriously and one of the reasons is because many people pursuing these areas don't either. We all know people who talked of writing a book, joining a band or studying herbs, only to flake out as soon as they realized that it takes much more time and effort than they had assumed. After all, I don't get up at 6 a.m. for the hell of it.

Believe it or not, creative pursuits require a lot of blood, sweat, and tears so overnight success is rare. There's no easy formula. If you want to be a nurse, for example, teachers can help point you in the direction of doing so. If you want to be a rock star...not so much.

For that reason, many people are discouraged to chase their creative dreams. It just seems like a long shot and unstable. It causes people to often bury their creative side with the belief that it's silly and useless. However, be reassured it's there. If you were ever a child πŸ‘Ά (and I'm guessing, you might have been ☺️) you are creative. When you were five, chances are you weren't talking about the stock market or politics but most likely were ass deep in paints, Lego or toys. There was no structure. Coloring inside the lines? What? That was crazy talk!

Coloring outside the lines as an adult is a whole other story but does it have to be? Maybe it's time to explore that creative side because it's there. I promise. Underneath criticisms you once heard for not being serious enough, not following the rules and of course, not sitting quietly, your creative side is waiting to be dug out.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Devil May Lie - book 6 in the Hernandez crime family series 😈

The Devil May Lie is Mima's 11th book and the 6th book in the Hernandez crime family series. In this book, Jorge Hernandez, former cartel kingpin is groomed for Canadian politics. Will the Canadian political landscape ever be the same again?

The sixth book in the Hernandez crime family series is a continuation of the murder and mayhem. Here is the summary:

With blood on his hands, Jorge Hernandez has enforced a brutal takeover of the Canadian legalized marijuana industry. Now facing opponents who want to challenge the existing laws, the former Mexican crime lord has no intentions of backing down. His brash style and sharp tongue captivate the media while behind the scenes, those who oppose him are often met by his crime family’s ruthless style of justice.

When a heartbreaking tragedy tears through the country and whispers of racism and government neglect dominates the news, Canada’s latest media darling finds himself courted by the nationally disgraced party. He has murdered, terrorized and tortured to get to the top and now he’s being groomed to lead one of the country’s political parties.

In the latest book in this brutal series, Jorge Hernandez insists that nothing is more important than the truth…and yet, the devil may lie….

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Does a weak moment make a weak character?

Just like real people, even the strongest of characters have their weak moments. Why is it important for the reader to see this contrast and as a writer, how do you demonstrate it?

First of all, the best characters are often complicated and full of contradictions. This gives them many layers and makes them seem much more 3-dimensional and realistic. After all, most of us are also complicated and full of contradictions too which leads to my second point, which is that this helps to make characters relatable to the reader. We like seeing that we aren't the only ones who are kind of messed up. Also, seeing a normally strong, larger than life character occasionally fall apart makes them much more humble. We like that. 

A perfect example would be Jolene Silva, who is my current series. In the majority of books, she's featured in, Jolene is strong, confident, powerful and someone I would describe as a femme fatale. However, at one point in this series, the Colombian bombshell reveals a very weak side to her personality that no one saw coming. She makes a series of bad decisions that places her in a very dangerous position with Jorge Hernandez and his crew. After a long, difficult road, she finally is trusted by la familia again and comes back stronger than ever. 

I love this because it shows how a character, even one who always shown a great deal of strength, can fall apart but is able to bounce back under some of the worst circumstances that life puts them in. There's something very reassuring and comforting about that fact. 

Never assume a weak moment makes a weak character. In fact, it actually makes them more human. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Animals and Devils 🐺😈

If you're familiar with my series, you probably already noticed that the books have an animal and devil theme in the titles. But why is that?

As I talked about in previous videos, this became the series that was never meant to be a series. It started out with a book called We're All Animals in 2016 and took off with the follow-up, Always be a Wolf a few months later. This portion of the series follows protagonist Chase Jacobs who's a naive, small-town boy who has a tendency of trying to do the right thing.

And that's when things take a bit of a turn.

In the fall of 2017, the devil-themed titles start appropriately with the blood-thirsty thug Jorge Hernandez as the protagonist. The Devil is Smooth Like Honey followed the life of the Mexican narco who's about to take over the legalized pot industry in Canada. While Chase was very much the boy-next-door, Jorge is the complete opposite, demonstrating the vast differences in characters. Having Chase as an employee, both men tend to have an influence on one another as the series continues with A Devil Named Hernandez and And the Devil Will Laugh.

I've always said that I love character contrasts in books and feel that extremes have a way of balancing each other out. I'm really curious where this is going to go in the future because I see an interesting shift in both of these characters in my next book. Will Jorge bring out the bad in Chase and Chase bring out the good in Jorge or are certain aspects in their DNA to stay? What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Should characters ever be based on people you know? πŸ€”

I recently stumbled across a video where someone was recommending that writers base characters on people they know. I cringed.

I never pretend to be the expert on writing but I do feel that after a few books, I've learned a couple things along the way. Although to be honest, basing characters on people I actually know never seemed like a good idea and therefore, I never did it. To begin with, I'm assuming there would always be a paranoia of someone 'discovering' that a character was strangely like them not to mention hurt feelings, potential arguments and maybe even a few Facebook much as we all love those.

Most importantly, I feel that characters create themselves. You might have a few ideas of who they are or what they're about but in the end, characters have a tendency to form naturally as you write the story. It's kind of like having a child and deciding on the kind of personality you think they'll have; chances are, they'll soon show you that you never had a say in the first place.

Characters are complex. As a writer, you'll probably have a deeper understanding of your characters than most people in your life. You have the special ability to see inside their heart and understand what makes them tick and it makes sense because after all, you're on a long journey together.

The most interesting thing about characters is that they often are a piece of you. Just like every songwriter inserts a piece of who they are in their songs, every author tends to do the same with their characters. It's not something you think about but rather it just happens. Maybe one of your characters shares one of your biggest fears in life or your fixation for a 90s HBO series. The characters are unique but they're also you.

And really, isn't that what makes the writing process so amazing?