Author Spotlight: Ismael Manzano

It’s funny. I do these author spotlights every now and then, and while the writers involved are often my friends, I have never done something like this for a person I know better than I know myself, about a book I read in its nascent stages, a story I’d heard about for years in various possible incarnations before it became what it is today. But here I am. My author spotlight today is for my husband, Ismael Manzano, and his novel, Soulless.

Now, below you will find a whole lot of press release type information, and I want you to read it and enjoy it, because it’s good stuff. But before I even get to that, I want to tell you the truth about this book.

I love this book. And not just because it’s my husband’s book. The story is imaginative, and I connected with the characters immediately, particularly the main character, Charlotte. Learning about this world through her eyes has been an exhilarating experience.

But more importantly, I love the writing, the way he weaves words together and takes you on a ride with them. I speak a lot about writing on this blog, but I rarely point out this fact – I am only a writer because I was inspired by Ismael. He not only told me I could, but he challenged me, and he showed me what dedication to the craft looked like, and without him I’d probably still be auditioning for acting jobs with my own stories dancing in my head. I got very lucky. I got to marry my favorite author. And I’m so very pleased to help create some of the fanfare surrounding this book.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about Ismael, and a little about Soulless.


Available Today!

Soulless
by Ismael Manzano

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Synopsis:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need bodies to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible, if you are the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and gives her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of other people. To help them as Trisha had helped her father.

This mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two: get her father’s soul back and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

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Excerpt:

I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger’s seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus.

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body’s reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon | Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Author Bio:

Ismael_Head shotIsmael Manzano was born and raised in New York City, and has lived his entire life in the Bronx, first with his parents, and then with his lovely and talented wife, Justine, and now with their kinetic maelstrom of a child, Logan.

Ismael is an avid reader of fantasy books, and knew at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. He worked his entire life to hone his craft to achieve the goal of removing the prefix, ‘aspiring,’ from his title, and referring to himself as a writer.

He has written many reviews and social commentaries for the web magazine, G-pop.net. Recently, Ismael has found success publishing his short stories, Playing in Shadows, at This Dark Matter and Cold, published in July 2015, at Grey Matter. In 2015, Fantasy Works Publishing signed his Urban Fantasy series, Soul Broker.

Ismael loves watching historical documentaries and listening to audio lectures about Medieval England, Ancient Rome, and Egypt. He considers himself an amateur historian, and has never met a BBC historical drama he didn’t like. One of his favorite things to do is to watch shows like the Tudors and movies like Elizabeth, and try to pick out the discrepancies between fact and fiction. He also hopes to one day solve a Rubix Cube puzzle, but that dream, sadly, seems to be the greatest fantasy of them all.

Website: IsmaelManzano.com

Twitter: @IsmaelManzano76

Facebook: Ismael Manzano – Author

 

Surprise! You’re One and Done!

10599613_10152369288983412_2106773918228127628_nWarning: This is not a writing related post – instead, this post is about some of the other pieces of my puzzle. I hope you enjoy it all the same!

The plan was simple. Wait until Baby #1 got out of daycare and into public school, and then consider it time for Baby #2! Funds would be freed up and we would be at different points in our career. Life would be different.

Well, that was certainly true.

The thing is, the plan is always simple. It was simple when Ismael and I got married and declared our intentions to have a baby in two years. We didn’t end up actually being in a financially and emotionally responsible place to have a baby until eight years after that self-imposed deadline.

About a year ago, as we began to poke around and ask questions about school registration, we had a quick discussion about the prospect for baby #2. Ismael was on the fence. Money was tight. Money was always tight. And that was just with the three of us. Would a fourth be pushing us over into negative income territory? I tried to maintain hope. You see, I had always had it in my head that I would have two to three kids, minimum. And when I have something in my head, I go for it. Relentlessly. So, I was sure we could find a way to make sense of things. I nodded and smiled through Ismael’s worries, sure that I would find the key to make this thing happen. The planner in me had already decided how this would go. I just had to figure out the particulars.

When Logan started school, Ismael and I started to reevaluate our finances. We started to reevaluate our schedules. We started to reevaluate our priorities. And we made a pretty heavy discovery.

There wasn’t anything more to go around. No money, no time, no attention. We had a full plate. Ismael and I both work full-time jobs and are full-time writers. We also have Logan, who is a regular powder keg of energy and our third musketeer. We do not have readily available babysitters in our family members and friends because they all work hard at full-time jobs themselves or live so far away, it isn’t feasible. Siblings live in another borough or another state. Parents have health issues. One of our best friends has three jobs. The other works double-shifts at times. But that isn’t even really an issue. It isn’t that we can’t get people to watch Logan while we take care of our other stuff. It’s that we don’t WANT to.

Logan is fun. Logan is our buddy. Logan is the light that makes our bad busy days happier. So we want to sit down and read with him, or watch a movie, or play a video game, or act out imaginary scenarios in which rolling across the bed is rolling down a hill to get away from the bad guys or Luke Skywalker comes to help Ariel with Ursula (we’ll make a writer out of him, yet – and probably a writer of fanfic).

As we journeyed through the first year of school, we realized that his school is a very good school and it is VERY parent inclusive. They have marches against bullying. They have fundraisers for Breast Cancer Research. They have bake sales and Mommy, Daddy, and Me reading nights, and movie nights, and school trips and art shows and a bunch of things that we wanted to be involved in. But we are already spread so thin. And managing three busy event calendars is a very different thing from managing two. So as we balanced this time off with that time off, as Ismael switched this work day and I took this half day, Ismael and I encountered a blinding moment of clarity.

We could have another child right now in these circumstances. But Logan would suffer for it. We wouldn’t have the money to take him places. We wouldn’t have the money to adhere to our “One Cool Adventure a Month” policy (we’re talking things like bowling or a movie, but we always try to do one cool thing). We wouldn’t have the time to go to his art shows or have dedicated time for silliness. I can barely make it to Logan’s events now, and I usually have to do some pretty efficient time gambling to make it pan out. But to do that for another kid? I’d cut my appearances in half.

Losing one of those things might be okay, but losing all of them? I could either make sure I was the kind of parent I wanted to be for Logan, or I could be a middling parent to two kids. And I’d much rather have the first.

As I said earlier, Ismael had probably already come to this conclusion, but didn’t know how to say it to me in such hard and fast terms. He’s always more of a realist than my dreamer self. So I know he was surprised when I told him I didn’t think we should have a second baby. “But that’s how things are right now,” he said, for me more than himself. “You never know where we’ll be in a few years.”

But the planner in me couldn’t take that. The planner in me would have kept trying to find a ‘how’. “I need to decide no. If a path to a yes shows up along the way, we’ll go ahead. But I need to decide no so I can get over it.” Because it was something I needed to get over. Because the idea of two children was so real in my head that it felt like something was missing and I needed to rethink my view of what my family should look like.

So that’s it. It looks like I’m a “One and Done” kind of parent. Because life happens. Because we are in constant states of flux. Because I once wrote a blog about writing dreams vs. reality and I know that applies to real life as well.

I think I have finally reached a point where I am okay with this decision. I may not be able to have all of the things I want. But sacrificing that to see the absolute perfection of all that I already HAVE may be the most important lesson I’ll ever learn.

Writing at a Write-In

 

IMG_0791Last summer, me, my husband, Ismael, his sister, Megan, and our friend Louis Santiago agreed that we would try to do some more writerly activities to try to boost our creativity. In some cases, it would be actually writing related. In others it would be some sort of research activity. The problem was making it work. We each had our work schedules. Ismael and I would have to find a babysitter for Logan. We would have to make this happen on dates we could actually make it to and that took awhile. Until March 13th, to be exact. As it turned out, when we finally found an activity, Megan couldn’t make it, due to a sudden school assignment fiasco. So it ended up just being me, Ismael, and Louis, on this particular mission.

Our first assignment? The Gotham Writers Write-In! In the beginning, nothing about this assignment went right. Aside from Megan having to drop out the day before, the trains we each had to take to arrive at the location on time, were behaving horribly. Louis was supposed to meet me at my job while Ismael was supposed to meet us at the location. After several minutes of Louis and I frantically calling and texting each other in an effort to communicate how we were going to handle the fact that he was trapped in the subway (which, for you non-New Yorkers, barely has any kind of cell phone reception), we decided that we would all meet at the location.

When I get out of the train and call Ismael to see where he is, he asks me if there is anything he had to bring.

“Did you bring paper? A pen?” I asked.

“No, I thought they probably give that to us. Don’t they?” Ismael asked.

“I can not [expletive deleted] believe you wouldn’t bring something to WRITE ON to a WRITE IN.” I was very stressed out about running late. Also…if you transcribed most of my life, there would be a lot of deleted expletives.

We rushed off to Duane Reade to buy a pad and pens for Ismael. When we finally met up with Louis, we all headed upstairs and guess what was waiting for us at the sign in table? Yes, you guessed right! We each got our own pen and pad. And maybe, just maybe, I’m a bit of an idiot.

No matter (or rather, no matter to me. My husband would go on to bring this up once every fifteen minutes or so, each time in it’s own hilarious way, which I certainly earned). The three of us headed to our seats, surrounded by other authors. At first it was very quiet. Except for the three of us, of course. We were chattering quite heartily. Then the teacher, Hasanthika Sisisena, a short story writer, entered the room and provided us with our prompt by writing it on the whiteboard in front of us.

 

THE BET

 

We had fifteen minutes to write on the topic, but I got NOTHING. I finally started to get some germ of an idea, continuing off the idea for my flash fiction, Tunneling, with Grayson’s friends betting on when he would fall back off the wagon. I didn’t like it as I was writing it. The characters seemed crass and cruel and I had already decided that, should I decide to continue that story, I would handle it delicately and with compassion. This felt like wasted writing time. I glanced over at Louis, who was writing on his tablet, just in time for his tablet’s word processor to crash. That’s what real wasted writing time looks like.

When it was finally time to break, I felt like I was in Calculus class again, praying nobody called on me to speak. Thankfully, reading aloud was voluntary here and the writers who did choose to share their work were all rather talented and fun. It was amazing how quickly we were sucked into the scenes they created.

After a few readers shared, we got up for some wine, cheese, snacks, and conversation. Once the wine started flowing, the hearts having already been bared, the writers became much more chatty. Even us. Ismael struck up a conversation on self-publishing with the writers beside him, while Louis and I chatted with a writer about the joys and sorrows (and mostly SORROWS) of revising. By the time we were called to order again, we were reluctant to end our conversations.

The next prompt?

CHARM

 

This, I could do. I’ve been working on a short story for an anthology. It is supposed to take place within the world of my Keys & Guardians series, so I crossed the theme of that anthology with the prompt and what I came up with can be found below.

*****

The trees in the forest behind the Estate had long since lost their leaves, bare branches pointing into the sky like long, bony fingers, blocking the view of the stars blinking in the night sky. My cheeks hurt, my fingers numb with the cold.

The crunch of Drew’s boots on the dry, frozen ground alerted me to his presence. He had found me.

“Gana, what are you doing?” Sometimes, he said things with a laugh on the end, even when he wasn’t joking. Sometimes, he said things like that when his words were most grave.

What was I doing? I didn’t know. I was lying, flat on my back, on the cold hard ground, my arms crossed over my notebook, the real reason he was out here. Not to spend time with me. To learn what I had learned.

“I’m lying on the ground.” I stated flatly.

He grinned, and it was adorable, and I brought my head up and back down, smacking it against the cold floor.

“We can sit by the tree, if you want.” He danced around me, trying to make me laugh. I was more little sister than anything. That’s why he played the goofball for me.

I glanced at the tree – the one my older sister, Jacklyn, and her awful boyfriend, Kyp, met near. God only knew what happened by that tree.

“Nah, I’m good.”

He laughed, that hoarse little laugh of his and it almost brought the feeling back to my fingertips. It was like he knew what I was thinking. When I didn’t laugh with him, he knelt down in front of me. “You know it’s cold outside. We could talk about this some other time.”

“I’m not cold.” Either my nose just grew or that was frostbite setting in.

“No? Then what’s wrong?” He frowned and sat down on the frigid ground beside me. His ass didn’t even touch the ground before he was right back up on his feet with a yelp. “Shit that’s cold! What’s wrong with you?” Little laugh at the end of every sentence.

“I wish I was more like Jacklyn.”

“Like…athletic?”

“Like her. Fun. Interesting.”

Drew punched me in the arm, all sibling love. “Nah kid. You’ve got your own brand of charm.”

Well, I supposed I’d have to take what I could get.

*****

Once we completed the second prompt, we read again. While the first time around, the group of us remained silent, this time, Ismael was the first to speak up. Emboldened by the strong reaction to his work and possibly by the wine (it doesn’t take much), I spoke up next and also received an uplifting reaction. Louis sat this one out, not particularly inspired by either of the prompts. This is bound to happen with any event like this, because prompts either trigger something or they don’t, and even when they do, it’s way more likely to be an odd little rambling thing you can’t get a handle on then an actual story seed.

When dismissed, we headed out of the building, joking with some of the other writers about how the fact that we would likely never see each other again helped make us more comfortable with sharing with each other. As our group split off from the rest, we discussed the changed experience of Ismael being able to share something in the fantasy genre with the group without having the strange reactions we sometimes encountered when sharing our work in college.

The conversation of the change in paradigm and the joy of having friends with shared interests followed us to dinner and all the way back home. The first adventure of our writing crew was a marked success.

 

New Years Resolutions

Before I begin, I would love to wish all of my readers Happy Holidays.  Whatever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy your time and as we approach that countdown to a fresh start, I hope you can look back at this year with happiness in your heart, and look forward to a year filled with new and interesting possibilities.

OK, so I lied last week and said that I’d be writing about Bad Guys this month, but I won’t.  We’ll get back to that next year.  In the meantime, I’d like to discuss something a little more on theme.  New Years Resolutions.  Which I hate.  When you sit around in December and look at your life over the last year, New Years Resolutions make you feel cranky.  They are rigid goal posts, planted in the ground to remind you of all the stuff you were supposed to do, but drove right on by.

So, I don’t make resolutions.  I make possibilities. I ask myself, “This time next year, where would you ideally like to be?”  And I remember that word, ideally.  Because it is important.  Life is usually far from ideal and a lot can happen in a year. As long as we don’t make resolutions, and list ideals, we can keep a clear eye on the list as potential goals, and not as failures when we don’t hit each of those goals within a twelve month period.

So, what are my goals for 2014?  I have a list.

1) Logan will be starting Kindergarten next fall, so I’d like to hope that, by the end of 2014, I will have a decent routine going after the great big change in the status quo.  Here’s hoping that by next December, I’m not still racing into my office late everyday because I still haven’t figured out how to get him to school on time.

2) I hope to be able to better manage my time.  I seem to have a real problem doing everything I want to do.  Which is not for lack of trying.  So, I’m trying to become better at procrastinating less, and staying more on schedule so I can have more time to see people and to get out and try new things.

3) I plan to manage my money better.  I went through quite the financial crisis this year, and I don’t intend for it to happen again.  So I’m trying to become smarter about how I manage funds, which means not spending extravagantly, and not offering to buy for everyone like I have a million dollars.  I don’t know why I do that!  But thankfully, nobody who loves me seems to allow me to anymore without a fight.  Thanks, supportive people!

4) I continue to shop out my short stories in the hopes of publication. I haven’t been getting any bites, but hopefully I will be celebrating another short story publication in the year 2014.

5) I would like to finish revisions on The Order of the Key and start shopping it out to agents/publishers by the end of 2014.

6) I want to get in better shape.  Do not read that as “lose weight.”  I just want to be more healthy, i.e. get my migraines under control, get my eating under control, exercise more.  Just generally become a more healthful person.

7) I would like to complete at least my first round of revisions on Legally Insane.  I do not expect to complete the revisions for this right away – the book turned out being about double the size it was meant to be, so I know this set of revisions is going to be extensive.

8) I have completed a prequel short story for the series I’m working on, Keys and Guardians (The Order of the Key is the intro book to that), and I would like to complete edits, begin shopping it out, and, preferably, have that published by the end of the year.

9) I have also recently started a new short story that I hope to have completed soon.

So that is my list of goals for next year.  This should probably give you a decent idea of what I will be babbling about over the next year.  Stay tuned for my end of year post, my year in review.  2013 was a sweet year.  2014, here I come!

Thanksgiving

Note to my readers: This blog is a little late.  That would be because I was suffering my last month with a computer that quit on me.  But I’m back now, with a working model, and a blog that was more timely two weeks ago.  Ah well…consider it the obligatory holiday post.

It’s that time of year!  The time where families try to put aside petty grievances to eat dinner together (and usually fail), the time where we forget our diets, forget how long that drive to _________’s house is and do it anyway, the time where we kiss the behinds of everyone who’s behinds we should have been kissing all year, but forgot to in the shuffle of things (and the above-mentioned petty grievances, which usually are far outweighed by the good things).

So here I go, telling you the things I give thanks for.  Be prepared.  One day there will be an acknowledgements page in the back of a novel that looks something like this, but as that hasn’t happened yet, I figured I’d give it a whirl now.

There are plenty of people to thank, after all. So, to the following, I would like to say thank you:

– My husband, Ismael – I’m pretty regularly vocal about how awesome my husband is and that’s a pretty good place to start.  Ismael deserves a pat on the back simply for putting up with me at my worst, which he does with grace and strength, but also for being my co-writer.  I almost feel guilty signing off on anything as purely my work when every single idea goes through an Ismael screener session.  If life was a romantic comedy with me as the lead, you would be my perfectly imperfect love interest and hero.

– My son, Logan – I couldn’t have created a more perfect comedic foil if I had tried.  Though you are only four years old, you already have the makings of an amazingly frustrating teenager and an amazingly lovely human being.  My little smart alec – I’m gonna enjoy every minute of raising you.  Love you!

– My parents, in good times and in bad times, thank you for teaching me to laugh at life and for making me exactly who I am today.  I like me, so that is very important.

– Mel and Jon aka big sis and bro – I could not have asked for a better pair of partners-in-crazy  than you two.  Thank you for taking me to a movie and to get ice cream on the days I decided I was running away from home.  Thank you Mel for planning fight scenes with me in all their ridiculousness and Jon for being my first critic – important lessons were learned.

– D and Kristy for not only being great significant others for my siblings, but for being great friends to me.

– Manny and Helen, Miriam and Luis – Ismael’s screwball family.  I was blessed with you guys.  Every one of you provide your own particular brand of inspiration.  You have no idea.

– Jeannie and Genaro (my sister-in-law and my nephew) – Your strength, determination and your ability to reinvent yourselves at a moments notice makes me realize what people can truly be capable of.  Genaro, even at 14, your physical tenacity is a sight to behold.  You keep chasing your dream like that, I’ll keep learning from you.

– My protege (and Ismael’s), Megan (aka little sis) – That’s right.  I’m going to call you my protege.  Feel free to argue against that, but I like to be dramatic, so that’s what I’m going to call you.  And despite the fact that you can probably kick my ass, I’m gonna keep it up.  (Yes, that IS a challenge.)

– My best friends, Joy and Allegra, who, each in their own way, provide me with support for all of my ills, a shoulder to cry on, someone to celebrate with, and generally act as my saviors in my daily life.  Without you and the boys I would be more of a mess than you think.  Really.

– My online crew.  Though you may rotate in and out of my life, and some of you were once real time friends, but we don’t get much time together anymore (Sean, I’m talkin’ to you!) but one thing remains consistent.  If you are someone who I share more than idle conversation with online, if we have discussed deeper topics, shared more about our families, about our lives, than you have impacted me and my writing world in ways you can not even begin to imagine.  I wish I could teleport to each of your houses and smish you all.  You know who you are.

– My actual work crew.  To Ulana and Karen, Lee and Heather, Carol and Gina, Kathleen, Nicole, and Stephen, to all of my bosses, and all of the people around the office who share with me and provide me with support each and every day.  I know it’s not perfect, but I have been blessed with a workplace where people care, really genuinely care, and that’s tough to come by.

– The rest of the Minners and Manzano families.  Though you are more distant, you guys are always providing me and my husband with love, support, and the occasional character studies. 😉

– Annamarie and Rino, who provide us with the house we live in.  Thanks for seriously being the best homeowners ever.  We owe a lot to you and we know it, and you provide us with a roof over our heads so we can continue doing all of the other stuff we love doing. Plus, your kids are adorable and awesome and you make pretty great friends too!

– Dawn, for taking flawless care of my pride and joy when we can’t be home with him.  You spend so much time with him and play such an important role in raising our son.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you so much, again, for everything you do, especially as we get him ready for school (GASP!) next year!

– Harvey for giving me my first chance, my first ever fiction publication.  Thank you for seeing the strengths in my story.

– Hannah and the Sucker team, for coaching me as a writer and for welcoming me to join the staff of Sucker Literary.  I love working for the magazine and look forward to next year’s promotion of Issue 3 (and the search for more stories for Issue 4, if you’ll have me).

– And finally, my readers, be it here, the people who retweet and favorite my Work In Progress Quotes on Twitter, the people who follow me on Facebook, the people who post feedback on my fanfiction, or anybody who has looked at my writing online.  You guys keep me doing what I love doing.

It’s been a tremendous year, with lots to appreciate and more than enough joys to be had.

Please pop by again next week for my mid-month post, where I discuss Bad Guys…and how to make them as important to your story as your Hero.

Until then, Happy Holidays!!!

You, Me, Doug, and Leah

Sometimes, I mutter under my breath while I do the dishes.  My husband, Ismael, always thinks I’m talking to him.  I’m not.  I clarify this.  And then it gets weird.  Who am I talking to?  Doug.  As Leah. Or Jacklyn.  As Kyp. You see, sometimes, when dialogue isn’t running correctly in my head, I need to talk through it.  Out loud.  And it makes me sound crazy.

Ismael never does this himself, but he doesn’t question it.  In my family unit, eccentricities like this, the occasional screamed “WAIT!  I need to write this down!”, the fact that our computers or at the very least, a notebook, must be packed everywhere we go, are deemed normal.  A popular mantra in our household could be, “Whatever it takes to keep writing.”

I wonder how Logan, my four year old son, will adapt to these oddities.  Will he pick up these little habits we’ve got, or will he just grow up thinking writers are crazy and do everything he can to avoid it?  I’m happy either way.

Apparently, my connection to my characters is a little strange, even to my husband.  I recently completed a manuscript that stars the aforementioned Doug and Leah.  Unlike the manuscript I’d been working on with Jacklyn and Kyp, this one has no sequel planned for it.  This is an actual end for characters I have been living with on and off since before the birth of my son. I seem to be having a difficult time with it.

So, a couple of days after Leah and I parted ways, I was laying on my couch, computer on my stomach as I often do once the baby is asleep and the chores are complete, with Ismael seated in a desk chair beside me.  I smiled, and Ismael noticed.

“What are you thinking?”

“I’m wondering what Doug’s Facebook status would be today.”  This was not the first thought I’d had that was similar.  I had also wondered about how Doug would present his relationship status changes (which I’m not going to explain because it could spoil the story).

I do that often.  Placing my characters into quirky real life settings that I would never write them into. Sometimes, they lead to quirky real life settings I actually do write them into.  I mentioned the dishes earlier for a reason.  My mind clears when I do dishes.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m always able to brainstorm while I do that particular chore.  One day, while brainstorming some dialogue between two characters, I realized they needed to be doing something while they talked, so the scene didn’t get bogged down with back and forth.  The main group of characters live in a large house together, so I decided the teens should be on dish duty.  This ended up becoming a motif in the story, to the point that when the pair is separated, one of the characters finds dishes to be a nerve wracking task because it reminds him of the other.

You may think I’m insane.  I feel very grateful to live with a writer because he doesn’t.  When I say something like, “I can imagine what Grayson would think about that,” in the middle of a conversation, he is unfazed – and not at all jealous of the many men, women and children that have taken up residence in my brain.  And as crazy as you may believe the both of us are – one thing is for sure.  I’ll never be lonely.

September Links

Welcome to another edition of stuff from around the web!

My husband’s birthday passed this week, so let’s all say a big happy birthday before we begin.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

So, what’s new on the web?  Let’s start here – my good friend Rana, who I met through Buffy-Boards.com, a Whedon themed message board, just posted a guest blog at The Happy Herbivore.  She took a challenge to go one month eating only from her pantry – which I think is crazy, but she makes it work!  Read about the adventure here.

Do you remember my discussion of revision in the blog post, Too Close for Comfort? This blog post on Positive Writer hits the nail right on the head when it comes to my feelings when revising that story.

This article says it better than I have – this is how I find time to write between a full time job and being a mommy.

This New York Times article is about one of my pet peeves, which I also share with my writer/hubby Ismael – don’t ask me what I’m writing about!  I can’t give you a well-formed answer!  It’s impossible!

An article that mixes writing, fandom, and one of my son’s favorite things?  Yes please! 

Check out this interesting new company, creating audio tales and earning money for literacy.

If you’ve ever wondered what revisions of a book feel like from start to finish, my favorite author, Kelley Armstrong, has got you covered in this fascinating play by play on her tumblr blog.  For updates to this step by step edit of book 2 of her Cainsville series, stay tuned to kelleyarmstrong.tumblr.com.  And, if you like mysteries with a bit of supernatural involved, check out the first book, Omens, which is already available for purchase.  I’m already flipping out waiting for the next installment.

Ready to start querying agents?  Here’s a collection of advice from literary agents on how to get published.

Here’s a little ditty on writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  The first question and answer involve something I discuss with people all the time.  Many people consider it impossible to complain that science fiction and fantasy are unrealistic, because isn’t that what they’re supposed to be?  But the truth is Sci-Fi and Fantasy can be unrealistic – if you don’t follow your own rules.  As a speculative fiction writer, you set up your own rules for your environment and you can’t later break them without a damn good reason.  Something as simple as being consistent in the rules of your world can bring realism to a novel about three-headed space goons from Snorg.  If all Snorgs are three headed, that two-headed one had better have a reason for being there that is better than, “Oh, I forgot Snorgs were supposed to be three-headed,” and it has to show.

And on that Snorg-filled note, I bid you adieu until the end of this month, when we will discuss politics and public image. See you then!