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Week 2: Reading and Writing

Welcome to week 2 of my HOW-TO blog series for writers!

Today, we’re talking about How-To be a better Writer:

Last week, we covered the workspace. This weeks issue is a quick and easy post on one of the most basic and most overlooked necessities for any writer, no matter the genre.

All Writers Must Be Readers

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. See, reading for pleasure will make you a better writer. It’s a fact. Ask any successful author.

And still, you’d be surprised how many wanna-be writers I have met who don’t read for pleasure. Ever. It’s appalling really. And yet they are trying to put their work out into the universe and expecting the masses to do the thing that they do not. Which is to Read.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it is impossible to become a successful writer without being a Reader. It is definitely possible, but HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

Writing is hard work.

And the odds are hardly ever in your favor. Consider that we live in an age where any yahoo can post basically anything they want on Smashwords and KDP (Amazon), and call it a book. Most people don’t do that. I mean, A LOT of them are really GOOD, but some of them aren’t.

So when you and I spend a year of our lives creating a plot, characters, and storyline that we are sure will change the world, it can be difficult to get your book-baby to rise above the masses when it has to wade through all the crud.

For me, writing is the most fun I will ever have in my life on any given day. That is why I do it: because I love disappearing into the worlds I create, into the lives of the characters whose existence is so much more exciting than mine. But the time it takes, the devotion it requires to find critique partners, to self-edit, to take the criticisms, and more editing, the marketing, and cover design … It’s not always fun to reread the same manuscript a ba-jillion times.

But I do it. We Writers do it.

And since the mere task of writing a book that someone else may actually want to read can be so daunting, and the odds of getting our work into the hands of the right people with the power to make our collective Best-Selling dreams come true are slim, we have to put in the effort to make ourselves good writers. So there’s less work overall. And being a Reader is one small way to make sure that you don’t have so much POST-writing work to do.

Reading someone elses work can help in SO many ways. Like enlarging your vocabulary– other authors won’t describe things the same way you would. Some of them are very crafty with their “gymnastic linguistics.”

Some of them are better at transitions than we are.

Some of them can say a lot more with a lot fewer words.

Reading can make you see the bigger picture– authors with major publishing houses have a team of people around them to help make their books better than they ever could have on their own. So when you read their books it can help you get a better idea of what a well-structured story should look like. This also helps if you are looking to land a major publisher.

And reading is FUN! It’s exercise for your brain.

It does what nothing else on earth can do: it lifts your imagination, takes you out of your own head, and puts you inside someonelse’s. You can learn about places you’ve never been, meet people you never would have dreamed of. You can travel through time and have the adventure of a lifetime.

No one in their right mind should want to say “No” to that. (Judgy, I know, but it’s true)

So, dear Writers, do yourself a favor and Read.


That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to do so. And when you’re finished with that book, help an author out and leave a review. Afterall, word of mouth is how most Readers decide to what to read next

 

Big News!

As some of you may know, I’ve been pretty ‘blogga-non-grata’ since I started college last summer. I’ve been trying to keep up with life and all the promotional stuff that goes with being an Indie author, while keeping up with my homework, writing new books, and still doing all that stuff that daily life demands that I do.

Basically, I have learned that suck at doing all of it. Well, at the ‘keeping up’ part. The only thing I have really kept up with is my school work.

I have been thinking lately, about how much I have learned …

When I first started thinking about putting my first novel, Between Octobers, out into the universe I found the whole idea daunting.

I was scared of what people would say about this thing  I had spent years secretly pouring my heart into. I had no idea what to do or how to go about getting a book deal.

I had no idea all the work that came after typing “The End.”

The questions were overwhelming:

How does one go about getting a book deal? What is the process like?

Where can I find free resources to help me with the things I don’t know how to do?

As a new writer with no experience, I had no idea all the aspects of writing that came after the words, “The End.” And, honest to God, I wouldn’t have learned a thing if there weren’t so many talented writers and authors out there giving their own little nuggets of wisdom through their own blogs.

And you what they say, “those who can’t DO, teach.” 

So, I have decided to start a How-To blog series on how to do all of the things a new author needs to do. Starting from scratch.

Developing a story. Taking your story from idea to the page. Perfecting that manuscript, building your social media platform, writing the perfect blurb, landing a literary agent–if you think you need one, and hopefully sealing a publishing deal. And all the scary steps in between!

The series begins on Monday, so stay tuned! 

 

Week 8: Summer Audiobook Giveaway

Happy Thursday!

Below are the week 8 audiobook selections. This week’s audiobooks look very interesting to me, specifically the selection by W.E.B. DuBios, as I took a Sociology class last fall and found him fascinating.

Free from SYNC Summer Reading program:

 

By Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Read by Kyla Garcia

The Red Umbrella is a moving tale of a 14-year-old girl’s journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro’s revolution.

In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. And soon, Lucía’s parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own.

Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?

The Red Umbrella is a touching story of country, culture, family, and the true meaning of home.


By W.E.B. Du Bois

Read by Rodney Gardiner

A cornerstone of African-American literary history, The Souls of Black Folk is a classic work by W. E. B. Du Bois. Originally published in 1903, it contains many essays on race and equality, but is also a piece of seminal history as laying the groundwork for the field of sociology. Some of the essays in the novel were even previously published by the Atlantic Monthly magazine. When writing, Du Bois drew from his personal experiences as an African-American in America to highlight the issues of prejudice that were still going on into the 20th century.

Summer Giveaway! Free Audio Books!

 

So you’ve heard me go on and on about the SYNC Audiobooks Summer Reading Program, right?  If you remember, every week in the summer, they give away a pair of audiobooks. Usually fiction and non. Mostly YA, but it’s really great YA.

All you need is a working pair of ears (or just one) and the Overdrive Media App, that you can get absolutely free here.

Well, I have been very behind in my blogging for several months now, and I haven’t talked at all about the audiobooks being given away this summer. So, you’ll find all the info you need below. And since the giveaway for the first two books ends tomorrow, I’m posting Week 7’s Giveaway below, so be sure to read all the way down!

SYNC Selections for week 6 (June 1-6):

 

Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli | Read by Robert Ramirez
Published by Recorded Books
Young Persian Prince Orasmyn lives a peaceful life of quiet duty and thoughtful obedience. Tending his fragrance garden gives him much more pleasure than the bloody royal hunts staged by his father. But a single wrong decision sets in motion an ancient curse that changes Orasmyn’s fate forever. Told he will be killed by his own father, he is transformed into a lion on the day of a great hunt. The prince has no choice but to flee beloved Persia and his precious family. Balancing his fading human memories with his new beastly impulses, he makes his way to Europe-where his destiny awaits in the person of a French beauty named Belle. Donna Jo Napoli once again weaves the magic she has shown in books like Crazy Jack and Zel, transforming a well-known fairy tale into an unforgettable epic of duty, love, and redemption. Robert Ramirez’s narration captures all the anguish and struggle of Orasmyn’s quest to regain his humanity.

 

Of Beast And Beauty, by Stacey Jay | Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Tantor Media
It’s pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren’t afraid of me, we’ll always be enemies at the core . . .

In the city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice. Her death will ensure her city’s vitality.

In the desert, a mutant beast named Gem fights to save his people, known as the Monstrous, from starvation.

Neither dreams that, together, they can return balance to their worlds. When Gem is captured for trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, he becomes a prisoner of the city. Isra enlists his help, and soon begins to care for him—and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

She’s a queen; I’m her prisoner. I am her monster and she is mine.


SYNC Selections for week 7 (June 8-15):

If I Run, by Terri Blackstock | Read by Nan Gurley

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore. But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run? Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Plus One, by Elizabeth Fama | Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Elizabeth Fama
A dying wish. A family divided. A love that defies the law. Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays, who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol concocts a plan to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to take the baby to visit her dying grandfather. Sol’s violation of the day/night curfew is already a serious crime, but when her kidnap attempt goes awry, she stumbles on a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population. Sol escapes the authorities with an unexpected ally: a Ray who gets in her way, a boy she might have hated if fate hadn’t forced them on the run together—a boy the world now tells her she can’t love. Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day/night divide, Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.


Hope you enjoy the audiobooks. But if audiobooks aren’t your thing, you can always try finding them at your local library or on Kindle Unlimited.
Reading is exercise for the brain!
Until next week …

Back in The Saddle

Well, technically, the saddle is a chair.

 

At my desk inside the master bedroom. That’s where I keep my laptop.

The Fall Semester has ended and the Holidays have passed, (Thank God! They were exhausting, weren’t they?)

While I am awaiting the start of Spring classes at my local Community College, I’ve been trying to make use of the downtime with WRITING!

And just in case you’re interested, I am working on the third and final book in my thrilling Sci-Fi trilogy!

The book is called REACTION and I’m planning on releasing late this year.

Still tinkering with the cover

INERTIA  and …

*free with Kindle Unlimited!

*free with Kindle Unlimited!

FORCE

*also FREE with Kinlde Unlimited

*also FREE with Kindle Unlimited

were the first two, and as exciting as those plots were, this last one is going to blow them both out of the water. AtomicBomb

I’m just over 20k words so far, but the book is already plotted out in my head! The final, BIG ending is going to be SO much FUN to write. I can’t wait for you all to read it.

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Sneak Peek at Force, Releasing 10/10!

Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Force, the sequel to last years, Inertia … this is from the non-copy-edited version, but it’s still awesome!

Enjoy!!


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A massive blue funnel stretches up from the ground. It’s at least five times the size of the one in Ivanhoe. As it materializes, stretching up to the clouds with its heat and wind, snaking gracefully between the buildings, coating the bricks in heat and soot, I’m mesmerized.

The firm lines of the buildings beyond it bend from the heat. The mouth of the burning cone doesn’t face the ground like it did in Ivanhoe. It faces upward like it’s waiting for Daemon who’s still drifting in free-fall.

Are you really going to jump off a building? I ask myself as I take in the scene, trying to recall how many flights of stairs I climbed chasing Daemon. How many stories? Couldn’t have been more than seven. Maybe eight.

That’s survivable. Right?

“Sack up,” I tell myself and then take a gulp of air and hold it. He’s got my stones, not my balls.

Daemon blurs into the rainbow interior of the gateway. And I leap, just like he did, only less dramatic. I dive headlong after him rather than placing my arms out at each side like a moron.

After I’ve flung myself into the scorching storm, as I’m sailing through the blazing wind, that’s the moment I realize how stupid this is.

The rocks are what protected me from the gateway. I’m not in their protective bubble. I’m outside the funnel, contorted by the violent blue fog that burns and pushes me back from the upturned opening instead of suctioning me inside.

I’m not falling, but twisting and thrashing through the wind, making for the window that hovers high above the ground. Moving my arms and legs like I’m swimming against the current.

Hope rises as the rainbow wheel looms closer. I’m going to make it!

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I’m screaming on the inside as I fly through the mouth of the vortex just as it starts shrinking. My skin feels too thin, but the rainbow wheel inside the tunnel is beautiful as ever.

And then it’s gone. I’m surrounded by darkness, folding into a forgiving surface that feels moist and smells of wet earth. I splatter like a pile of laundry hitting the end of the chute.

There’s no sound except the shuffling of feet as I get up.
My eyes adjust quickly and I don’t feel sick. This is good, makes it easier to keep pace with Daemon. And I do keep the pace right behind him, kicking my legs high.

Reaching for the tails of that damn jacket, I’m glad he’s still wearing it. I’m about to close-in on the fabric, about to feel it sweeping against my fingertips… and then the tell-tale blue fog appears again, with the crashing sound of the gateway opening.

The rainbow wheel illuminates the night ahead. I leap inside right after Daemon.

The next world is bright. Warm rays of sun are blinding. I shade my eyes and keep kicking, noticing that everything looks normal, older than the 1990’s, but normal.

My legs are stiffening from all the running while Daemon’s stride is still vigorous and quick. When I trip over a surprised kid on a huge skateboard and fall a half-block behind while getting up, I know that without a huge stroke of luck there’s a good chance he’ll get away.

A black Saab pulls up to the curb just ahead of me. A woman wearing a wide-collared power suit hops out of the drivers’ seat and casually walks around the other side of her idling car to pop a stack of mail into blue drop-off box on the curb.

My father used to say that luck is there for those that need it. He also used to say that success was for those who recognize opportunities. The empty Saab looks like both to me.

The engine purrs, smoothly shifting into fourth as I hit the intersection, taking my chances at the red light. I can see Daemon up ahead; hard not to notice a huge bald guy with a snake head tattooed on his bare scalp. He’s still on the move but looks to have slowed a little, assuming that he’s lost his tail.

He spots me at the perfect moment. Right as he comes up to the next intersection, when there’s a break in foot traffic on the sidewalk. I see the way his eyes widen when the Saab jumps the curb.

The victorious thunk of the tires hitting their target is short-lived. I don’t know how, but instead of thrashing over him, Daemon somehow ends up on top of the hood.  His big ugly beard blocks my view of the road as I veer off the sidewalk and back into traffic, nicking at least one other car.

A few screams. More horns. And a black stare from the man that killed my father. I make sure to look him directly into those beads of emptiness as I make for the side of the nearest building and give my parting words.

“See you in hell.”

He glances behind him, sees the wall he’s about to munch, then turns back to say something that sounds like he’s asking if I can swim. But that can’t be right. I mean, I can swim, but what does water have to do with—

A huge vortex opens and I’m going too fast. It’s all there: the bustling city, then rainbow colors, the heat, and blue fog.

In a heartbeat it’s gone, replaced by water. Lots of water. Everywhere. Gushing in through the doors and windows.

Shit.

The car is completely submerged and filling fast. I take a deep breath and brace myself, trying to think through the surprised panic.

It’s just water. Rushing into the car through open half-open windows. It’s filling with bubbling cold and Daemon is gone. Through the windshield, I make out his wavy form getting smaller and higher as the car sinks and he swims away.

#FlashFiction Even though it’s not Friday

Hello, fellow bloggers and faithful readers!

I’ve had my head buried in school books and am putting the final touches on my latest book (which I am SO ridiculously behind on) that I literally have zero time to blog.

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But I don’t want to leave anybody hanging, or make you all think that I forgot about my readers the same way I forgot all about this flash fiction thing I started doing last year.

Truly, I came across it on my Wattpad page and was like, “When did I write this!?”

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So, I reread it. A fell in like with it all over again, and decided it was worth sharing here. Again.

(there’s a smidge of strong language, so reader beware)


1
A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis.

“A what?” Layla stared at the laptop and shook her head. “I don’t get it. Sorry, Dee.”
Dee sighed, letting her shoulders drop. “I couldn’t call it ‘Dick Magnet.’ No one would want to read it.”
Layla laughed. “Or everyone would.”
“For all the wrong reasons.”
“Okay. So what’s it’s supposed to be about?”
Dee sighed again. It was about everything in her life turning out wrong. It was about being thirty-one and still single. It was about still losing her job after all the crap she put up with to keep it. Like unpaid overtime; they wanted the work done, but they didn’t want her to charge them for it—and she was stupid enough to believe her selfish boss would remember her dedication when the next editing position opened up.
“Generally, it’s about how independent, intelligent women in this age have no taste in men.”
“So it’s a biography.” Layla’s face was dead-pan.
Dee was the one laughing now. She should have known better than to try and fool her best friend. “Yes. But no. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, now I’m finally putting it to paper. Metaphorically, since it’s digital.” She shrugged, crossing her arms.
“It sounds good, but since when did you become a blogger?”
“I’m out of book ideas.” Dee plopped on the short sofa beside her friend and grabbed the laptop—saving and closing the document file.
“So…Dick Magnet? Are you going to feed the stereotypes about men wanting nothing more than to get into a womans pants?”
“You mean tell it like it is? Yes.”
Layla rolled her eyes. She wasn’t as cynical as her lifelong friend. But she had no reason to be. She married the man who took her virginity a month after high school graduation. And amazingly, they were still married. And happy. They still had sex. Regularly.
Dee shook off the image. “Not all of us are lucky enough to find a guy like your Steve.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it. Love is an investment, Dee. The wedding is like a down payment that gets you the house. But marriage is what you live in. It takes time to repaint and remodel. It’s a lot of work.”
Dee’s eyes nearly crossed. How many times had she heard this metaphor? Ten, twenty, a hundred-thousand times?
“Alright-awright. I get it. The secret is in real-estate research.”
“Metaphorically.”


Dee didn’t like the name she chose for her new, fabulous website. Yeah, it was only to keep her busy as she searched for another job. It was a part-time thing. A hobby. There were millions of bloggers out there, but none of them—at least the ones Dee came across—were filling the gap between what you learn and applying that knowledge in everyday life and situations.
For instance, Dee now knew, from past experience that it was important to see your potential date in a well-lit space before agreeing to any outings. The typically soft lighting of a night club does not lend itself to inspection. To search, to make absolutely sure there was no slightly lighter strip of skin on the left ring finger.
She learned this one night—well several nights after—a few fuzzy navels and a screwdriver, compliments a la Asshole. The haze of alcohol eased her into accepting his phone number scribbled on a napkin. The man had paid for two of her four drinks that night and she was reduced to thinking that somehow indebted her. But all he wanted was the chance at a phone call. And Dee was not going to call. But he hadn’t demanded Dee’s phone number. He’d left it up to her to make the next move.
And in that simple act of letting her think she was in a higher position made her fall.
The high-point of the first date was the conversation and the sweet, boyish peck on the cheek that followed. Boy, did he reel her in. Slowly, like a fat, stupid tuna. He let her thrash about on the baited hook like one of the giant marlin her father used to catch when he took her deep sea fishing.
The second date was where Dee learned her lesson. It was right after she let him talk her into seeing a terrible movie. A major motion picture, expected to be a box office block-buster.
Well, it was shit. Dee knew it would be. She rarely agreed with film critics and never agreed with pop-culture’s ideas of ‘good’ on anything. Film or otherwise. Except maybe Green Mile and Forrest Gump, but that was more a Tom Hanks anomaly.
Neither one really watched the movie, but they made good use of the dark. They were all over eachother. Dee was going to take him to her apartment. As the two left the theater, walking hand in hand, it happened.
A beautiful woman with bright strawberry curls was blocking their path on the crowded sidewalk. Asshole threw her hand away and stuttered something to the woman. Dee was confused at first. But then she took in the womans tired, hurt expression, her thin arms that held an impossibly tiny infant, and her slightly doughy middle. Then the womans thin hand and the large stone that rested over her fourth finger.
Automatically, Dee checked her dates’ fingers. Low and behold—there was a thin, slightly lighter line around his ring finger.
Dee did the only thing she could think of; listened and watched the screaming match. The poor woman cried at the unfairness; it wasn’t her fault she had to wait six weeks to have sex. She’d just had his baby! And her husband of less than two years was an unfaithful bastard!
Bastard was right. Who the hell was he to make Dee the slut, to turn her into the other woman?
Dee’s knee swung up into his groin before she had a chance to think it through. “There! Now he can’t have sex either!”
She charged through the watching crowd on her way home to meet her second dates for that evening, Ben and Jerry.
It was a tough lesson. But one Dee was glad to have learned. Thanks to that experience, she could relay the importance of good lighting at a first meeting.


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You are welcome, World.

Rivera–out.

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