Category Archives: writing

Be Superior to Your Circumstances

I feel like a fraud because I haven’t been living up to the standard I set for others. I know I can talk until I’m circumstancesblue in the face but unless I act on my own advice I feel like a phony.

The truth is if you want to be a writer it is damn hard work. Day in and day out you have to put in your words and even then there is no guarantee you’ll make it, but you have to persevere and continue writing the best work you can.

You have to be stronger than the cynics, critics, and naysayers, because there will always be negative people who seek to bring you down for following your dream. Be on your guard for self doubt and its insidious hold on you.

Remember why you’re writing and hold on to that when things get tough. And trust me they will. There will be days you want to give up, but don’t. There will be days when the words just won’t come but carry on anyways because you’re better than that.

Yes sometimes it will feel like you’re screaming in a crowded room and no one is listening, but you have to continue anyways. You have to have faith in yourself and the process. Yes this can be hard when writing is the lat thing you want to do but do it anyways because it’s what you’re called to do.

You have a message and never lose sight of that fact. Like anything else you do it will take practice to find your voice and your tribe but it’s worth it in the end. Because it’s only when we stop writing that we have failed.

But don’t let that get you down. Trust me I have gone months where I don’t write anything at all, but eventually it will pass and I get back in the habit of writing everyday.

Why Dystopian

Introduction
From the Hunger Games, to The Divergent Series and shows like The Walking Dead, dystopian fiction

image by Piotr Pawel via sxc.hu
image by Piotr Pawel via sxc.hu

is riding a wave of popularity, but what is it about this genre that draws people to it?

Uncertainty 

Given the times we live in it’s easy to picture how things could go wrong. While the US economy has recovered from the crash in ’08 many people still struggle to make ends meet, and fears abound about the implications of the Chinese economy slowing down, as well as the possible exit of the UK from the EU.

Moreover, the cost of going to college continues to rise, saddling students with thousands of dollars in debt that must repaid after graduating into a ever fierce job market. It’s gotten so bad some people forego college all together and instead go into the skilled trades. And it seems everyone is fed up with the state of American politics and the direction the country is going  in to becoming a plutocracy.

Where There is Life There is Hope
Given all these issues it’s no wonder people turn to stories about how bleak the future will, but at their core dystopian stories are about the strength of the human will to endure the darkest time and fight for a better future. Even in the most crap sack world there is hope for the future otherwise there would be no point to the story. It’s this hope for a better tomorrow that people find comfort in and gives them a renewed outlook on life.

Viva La Revolucion
Often times in these stories it falls on the protagonist and his/her cohorts to take on the powers that be and reform the society. And we root for these underdogs because secretly we wish we could too take on the status quo and shake things up, but we’re afraid of the consequences. History has shown revolutionaries have short lives. But still we wish to have the power to change the world, which is another reason we turn to dystopian stories.

Conclusion
While dystopian stories appeal to readers for different reasons, at their core they celebrate the endurance of the human spirit and the will to find hope in the darkest of times, and fight for what you believe is right.

The Box

Introduction

The following piece came about due to a particularly bad bout with depression about three years ago. I’ve had other depressive episodes since then but am doing much better now thanks to  medication and therapy .

One again I sit here, some procedural cop drama or reality show blares on the TV, but it’s just white noise to fill the void. I tried sleeping but the chaotic energy coursing through me won’t let my brain shut off. Three years have gone past in an instant, but what do I have to show for it?    Hour after hour I wait. For what, I don’t know.

Another night spent at a bar downing cheap beer just so I can feel normal for awhile, but in the end I wound up  in the corner, as everyone else had fun. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I bother going out when I could be surrounded by a million people, but still feel as if I’m an alien.

It’s 3AM and I click on another profile. Why bother, girl or guy it makes no difference. Sorry not interested; sorry not into chubby guys; sorry, insert excuse here. Not smooth enough, young enough, hung enough, or the right hue for you to screw—oh go spew. Here’s something new: I want more than a paramour or to be your whore. Sex is great, but how about a date? How about a life mate?  Who am I shitting?  It’s my wrists I should be slitting.

Not like I haven’t thought about it before, not like anyone would care. Sure, they would be sad, but no one would miss me. What’s the point of living if I never participate, but then why do I hesitate?

I look down at the scare along my arm and the answer is clear. Fear of everything: being different, rejected, alone, and being a failure.  A brief moment of pain and it’ll all go away, but no. I trace the scar and remember the operation: thirty seven stitches, no anesthesia or pain killers, and too many blackouts to recall.

But I survived it and countless other operations. Six months in a comma, months more learning how to walk and talk again. Through it all I survived. Even when every breath was a battle I never gave in and if I do now then it was all for nothing. I can’t, I won’t. Because then they’d win and I won’t allow that.

I will stand and fight for a place of my own. And if I’m the only in it then so be it. I’m so much more than the characters in a box, then my stats or pictures. They can try to label me, but I’m done caring what anyone thinks, I’m going to be me.

If I fail then it won’t be because I didn’t give it my best. If no one ever reads a word I write then so what. I still wrote them and they will always be a reminder that I existed and, Goddamn it, I mattered. Yes it’ll be hard and I won’t always know what to do, but I’ve spent too long in this box already. Yeah I’m scared, but I’ll take one step and then another until I get to where I’m going.

If you or someone you know is contemplating hurting themselves contact the National suicide  prevention lifeline at 18002738255 or on the web at suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

 

 

Review The Last Suvivors

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction

The Last Survivors: A Dystopian Society in a Post Apocalyptic World is book one of a pentalogy by Bobby Adair and T.W. Piperbrook. Set in the three cities of Brighton, Davenport and Coventry the story centers around the various people as they struggle to live in a society reduced back to medieval times in terms of technology and knowledge(most people don’t know who to count higher than they have fingers), and plagued by demons(zombies) created when people are exposed to plant spores that bloom in the fall.

The story primarily centers around Ella and her son William who has been exposed to the plant spore and has the characteristic smudges that identify the afflicted from the general populous.

Every year the three cities hold the Cleansing, a mandatory public ceremony where people disrobe and have their bodies examined for smudges. Having already lost her husband to the previous year’s Cleansing Ella is distraught when she discovers her eleven year old son, William, is infected by the spores . Rather than lose him too she plots an escape to her aunt and uncle’s farm in Davenport.

The good
I couldn’t put this book down. Even though it lacked diversity in characters I still found it a good read. Ella’s fears were real and palpable and I readily identified with her struggles.

For essentially a zombie story the authors found a believable way to present the demons without falling into the stale tropes, such as being infected by their bite.

Also I thought it was a good call of their part not to have the people killed by the demons to come back as ones themselves. In this way the demons were made a potent threat without overdoing it and breaking suspension of disbelief.

The bad
Aside from a few typos the book was otherwise flawless, however I did have issues with the story. For example Father Wintrope was the cliched lecherous priest and only believed in the Word, the in universe dominant religion, so far as it enabled him to live the good life while the masses slaved away just to scrape by.

Also General Blackthorn was the trite blood thirsty soldier and his actions made little sense given that people were barely getting by and should have revolted given Blackthorn’s heavy hand. Yet you’d be hard pressed to see anyone brave, or stupid enough to go against either Wintrope or Blackthorn.

I also take umbrage with the lack of diversity in the characters. It wouldn’t have killed them to have a few people of color in there instead of the wall to wall white characters.

I also didn’t like how the book just abruptly ends once they arrive arrive in Davenport. Without spoiling the ending for you i’ll just say it could have been handled better after all that build up it just stops.

The Verdict
Overall this book was a fun read and if you’re looking for a good read to tide you over get it. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and will review them as I finish them.

Review Like, Cmment, Share: Life in the age of Social Media

Introduction
“Like, Comment, Share: Life in the age of Social Media” is the debut novel from Paulo Ramos and follows the trials and tribulations of Luis Ventura as he navigates life, friendships and love in the 21 century. Luis is Portuguese and works as a translator for magazines and companies in Lisbon.

The story opens with the revelation Luis’s long term girlfriend Teresa has broken up with him and he’s distraught. He seeks solace in his friend Afonso, who introduces him to the world of Facebook. What starts out as just a way to kill time and forget about Teresa, turns into a tool for meeting new friends, starting new relationships, and traveling the globe for Luis.

The Good
Overall I found the book to be a fun read. It was well paced and at times I found myself turning the pages to see what happens next. Usually I detest first person point of view, but it worked well for this book. Ramos’s voice was welcoming, smart, and at times funny and yet philosophical.

The device of Facebook posts and blog posts were well handled and didn’t break the forth wall at all. The pace as quick without being too fast and mirrored the ever present changes in Luis as he engaged social media.

I also liked how Ramos showed the downside to social media such as how addictive it can be and how it can simultaneously separate us while also bringing people from across the world together.

The Bad
My one major complaint is that the dialogue was a bit unrealistic, so much so that it almost put me off the book from the start, but once I got into the story it became less off putting. All in all aside from a few minor grammatical mistakes and typos the book was great.

Story wise my only complaint is the whole section on Richtown when Luis wins 500,000 euros in the lottery and proceeds to go on a spending spree and lose contact with his real friends in favor of hangers on, who are only around him because of his fat wallet.

As someone who has dealt with a similar situation in life it struck me as odd Luis would abandon his friends for these bums. Overall the resolution of this period in the book was satisfying to see him realize the error of his ways.

The Verdict
All in all “Like, Comment, Share: Life in the age of Social Media” was a fun and engrossing read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for postmodern take of life, relationships and the pursuit of happiness in the modern age.

How to Stay Positive on the Road to Publication

If you want to make it in the writing world then you must be kept abreast of the ever changing landscape

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

 and who’s who of agents, writers, and publishers. Sure this can a little overwhelming to the novice writer but you need to stay in the loop if you hope to market your book.

Yes, I’m not going to lie sometimes reading about other authors’ success can discourage you if you let it, or it can light a fire under you to get your work out there. The choice is yours.

Yeah it sucks when mommy porn and books by celebrities top the charts but you have to persevere anyways. Yes publishers are putting out fewer books each year and are less likely to take on unknown writers, and the self publishing market becomes more saturated with each passing day. But keep writing anyways.

The truth is the path to success looks different for every writer and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. We’re all at different points on our journey and ultimately what worked for someone else might not be right for you.

Chasing fame is a fool’s errand. No one can predict who will make it on to the best seller’s list or become the next King, Rowling, or Grisham, and it will drive you insane if you let it. Instead keep a positive attitude and carry on working, because it is only when we stop writing that we have failed.

Pour your hear in soul into writing the best book you can and that way even if it doesn’t sell well, it won’t be because you half-assed it. If it takes years to write so be it, but don’t give up. If you’re persistent your work will find an audience, and though it may not be what you had in mind, having people read your work is what matters

What’s Your Why?

Introduction
Life is full of hard work, but we must persevere if we are to live it to the fullest. Sure we can let every little thing get to us or ldont let life get you downearn to deal with it and roll with the punches. So often in life we get caught up in the petty minutia of things.

It’s like there is a new thing to be outraged against, but the truth is while there are legitimate things o get worked up over we have to realize we aren’t superman and can only do our part to fix the small corner of the world we inhabit. That’s on of the reasons I became a writer.

Yes while one person can’t change the world many people working in concert with each other can. Yet some people are so quick to throw up theirs hands and say fuck it at the first sign of trouble and give up without a fight. But if want to make it in life sometimes to have to fight for your happiness.

Trust me , dealing with depression has taught me that while life has its hardships, you can either let it get to you or pick yourself up and get busy living.

Whatever you’re dealing with it can be overcome if you give it your all and follow through on doing what you need to reach your goals. Don’t compare yourself to others, that’s an exercise in futility. Everyone is at a different point on the path and everyone’s experience isn’t the same.

Conclusion
The thing that gets me up in the morning and keeps me going throughout the day is knowing I have a message that resonates with others and it’s up to me get it out. Some of might not yet know your why, but if you keep at it day in and day it will reveal itself to you.

Review: Elements of a Broken Mind

Introduction
Elements of a Bro

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

ken Mind is book one of the Clear Angel Chronicles by Heidi Angell. Set in small town America the plot revolves around a serial killer targeting women in the area. In charge of the case is Grant Anderson. Formerly from the city he moved to town to get away from the craziness only to have it find him in the end.

With no leads to the case Detective Anderson gets help in the form of the eponymous Clear Angel, resident horse trainer and psychic. She is drawn to the case by visions of the missing girls which she can’t control.

Grant is reluctant to believe in her abilities until she proves it to him by predicting his promotion to lieutenant.

The Good
Overall the book was enjoyable, the plot engaging and the characters well rounded. Once I was able to turn off my inner editor(more on that later) I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

I found Grant to be very likable and related with his longing to see his daughter again. As for Clear she was strong willed and independent, yet I could relate to her fear of being used and ridiculed for her gift.

It was refreshing that she didn’t have full control of her abilities, unlike in most stories where the psychic has no problems with their abilities and are never shown struggling to use them like Clear does.

The chemistry between Clear and Grant was there from the beginning and was a natural part of the story without overshadowing the plot like in some books.

The Bad
In all honesty the book could have used another pass with the editor. I found a few typos and the sentences were a bit on the wordy side for my tastes, but overall nothing that impeded me from enjoying the story.

I also found some of the plot twists predictable, like how the killer was also psychic, or how Clear would go after him and wind up being the last sacrifice.

I found the killer’s motive to be on the vague side and really didn’t get why he’d go through all the trouble of kidnapping the girls just because he was crazy.

Conclusions
Overall I’d recommend this book to fans of thrillers, cop procedural shows, and anyone else looking for a good read. Check out Heidi Angell’s site here

for more information.

Coming Out As a Writer

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction

Coming out is a continuing process, whether it be your sexuality, gender identity, or mental health. Yes it can be a scary, but also liberating process. But today I want to talk about another coming out that is often over looked. That being coming out as a writer.

Coming out to yourself

When I first started to write I always called myself an aspiring writer as I had all these preconceived notions about what it meant to be to be a real writer. But I’ve since learned that the only qualification to be a writer is to write.

Once I started taking things serious by writing every day and commenting on blogs I found that the more I wrote and engaged people, the easier it became to call myself a writer and mean it.

Going Pro

This is what author Jeff Goins calls going pro. It’s when you clam your identity as a writer and take action by writing without fear of trying to please everyone. You instead focus on your ideal reader and pleasing him/her by producing the best work you can.

Coming out to others
Sure once you’ve gotten comfortable calling yourself a writer, you next need to own that title when interacting with others. When someone asks you what you do, don’t hesitate to say you’re a writer. Say it loud and proud and don’t qualify it either.

Yes people have a million preconceived notions of what it means to be a writer, but don’t let them pidgin hole you. If they ask you if you’re published, answer honestly and don’t feel bad if you haven’t, or if you’re self published. Not all writers are at the same place on their journey and there’s no shame in that.

Dealing with Negative People

You can’t control how people will respond when you come out to them. Sure some of them will be in awe that you’ve followed your dreams and become a writer, but there will be people who think you’re wasting your time and will never make it. Don’t let them shake your confidence. Kill them with kindness and move on.

Conclusion

You know you’re a writer and no matter what others think you know the path you’ve chosen is the right one for you. And whether traditionally published or self published you’re a writer. So embrace that and go forward into the world secure in the knowledge of your talents. For more tips on writing click here

The Dirty Little Secret About Writing

Introduction
There a million programs out there promising to teach you the shortcut to success and fame overnight. Sure the

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

re are great programs out there that will teach you a lot about the craft, but the truth is there are no shortcuts when it comes to writing.

It’s just you and a pen or laptop pounding away at your work in progress day in and day out, only to realize an even better idea on page fifty. It takes a ton of commitment and hard work to produce a readable book or blog post and even then there’s no guarantee anyone will read your work.

Dedication
Some 80% of American say they want to write a book but not many of them follow through on it. The truth is writing a book is damn hard work. It takes years of honing your craft to produce a publishable manuscript. And even if you are the one in a million who writes a book, you still have to contend with thousands of other books both traditionally published and indie/self published.

In order to stand out you need to produce the best book you can and that takes time. If you try and half-ass it this will show to readers and taint their view of our work going forward.

If you want to make it in the writing world take Stephen Kin’s advice and read a lot, and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read you don’t have the time or tools to write.

Sure it’d be nice if you were the next J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, or Stephen King, but in order to get where they are it took a ton of work, perseverance and a bit of luck. Rejection is par for the course so you need to develop a thick skin if you want to make it.

What Does Success Look Like
Say you’re the exception to the rule and your book sells well. What does this mean? Most books only sell a few hundred copies and never make back their advances.

While making it on the best seller’s list is a lofty goal, is it realistic? In 2011 alone an estimated 340,000 books were published, with 80% of them being either self published or published by small presses.

Why Write
With so much market saturation it’s no wonder many writers need day jobs to pay the bills. The truth is most writer don’t make enough to live on alone, so why write? The answer is you write for the love of it, because if you’re dreaming of making it big you may be in for a huge disappointment.

Write because it’s all you can think about. Write because a story is inside you and you can’t keep it in any longer. Write because it’s what you were born to do and nothing else will make you as happy or be as fulfilling. If you can stop writing and not miss it, then odds are writing is not for you.

Conclusions
Sure there are tips and trick to hacking headlines and producing engaging content, but it still boils down to

you sitting at your computer and getting the words on the page as often as possible. If you can’t do that then maybe you should be doing something else with your time.