Back in October, I was the featured presenter at Wordier Than Thou in Saint Petersburg. The chapters I read were those that immediately followed Johnny’s unintended, yet catastrophic, destruction of the city of Juarez. Hope you like curse words; there’s a lot of ’em. For contextual use, of course! Listen to my not-so-soothing voice as I read from my upcoming action fiction novel:
Just in time for the holidays! My gift to you, my sweet darling blog follower. I LOVE YOU!
My novel, I Blew Up Juarez, is still on track to be released end of February, which I am sure by title alone, you’re ready to pick it up and peel through it! This presentation was done in October for a local writer’s group in Saint Petersburg. The chapters I am reading in the video are the immediate events after Johnny Saucedo blows up Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. We meet Phoebe, her best friend since childhood, her husband Iwan, an Army Sergeant Major, and Mimi, a hapless college student who happens to be related to Johnny’s gun running partner.
So much going on in just 15 minutes! Are you ready to escape into the hard slap, fast moving story? Just hit Play:
The author collects her dreams as resources for story and character development.
Recently entered in my morning pages:
I had been dreaming. Argument between people, and I had to come between. We were a space colony, and the isolation was getting to people. But it was a fight between an adult and a young teen, the kid angry with the adult to the point of shoving. I snatched at them both and sent them in opposite ways. Later, I was slicing up a large, red, boiled egg. As I buried the blade of my spoon in its mass, a bit of boiled yellow would draw up and I began to make sort of a Fabergé pattern with the yellow yolk along the red skin of the egg. ‘I was trying to keep the peace around here,’ I lamented to someone in the room, unseen. I suppose the topic in the colony was I shouldn’t have gotten involved. But I had to. I was there to maintain order. And they were fighting over some dumb [expletive deleted].
This was an actual dream sequence I had, prior to waking up at the sound of something dropping into the kitchen sink.
I can use it as a writing prompt to develop a scenario where a recently arrived colony on Mars has to learn how to be a community in isolation. It could be the story of the person who broke up the fight. Why was he/she/it put in charge? Could explore the perspective of the boy who started shoving the adult. And what about that egg? Was he/she/it going to eat it? Or was he/she/it performing an experiment? The room he/she/it was in was dark except for the space at the table. The red was really red. The yellow, very yellow. But everything around it, including the spoon, was grey.
It does help to capture these dreams in my morning pages, just in case I’m feeling uninspired or blocked. Been dreamcatching since a child, but not until recently did I find it good practice to note these dreams in journals or my morning pages. I’ve got pages and pages to refer to. In that aspect, I’ll never be without a writing prompt or a possible storyline.
I Blew Up Juarez includes actual dream sequences that I took straight from Dreamland and stitched into the storyline. I love these dreams and where they take me. And before you suggest there is induction to these sci-fi like sequences, no, I don’t medicate on, imbibe, or ingest anything prior to bed! I merely relax, I embrace the silence, and I whisk away.
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My publisher and I have made significant progress in bringing my action-packed story to a completed state. I thought I’d introduce a bit of the novel to all you awesome people. If you’re in the Saint Petersburg area on June 12th, I’ll be reading from I Blew Up Juarez at Irene’s Poetry Night and Open Mic, located at 3747 34thSt South, behind St. Bart’s in the thrift store. You read that right, and it’s an amazing venue. Come check it out!
The author reads her protagonist’s future in Tarot cards, and realizes the Voodoo henchmen of Fleming’s book were in her backyard.
In previous blogs, I’ve demonstrated various, out-of-the-MFA tactics to develop my novel. Yodeling along with country music legends, watching Ahhnuld fight Wilt Chamberlain, interrupting random people’s lives in other states. So of course it should come to no surprise that I would use mysticism to conjure up a scene.
You never want to give up the entire story too early, so you gotta lay treats along the way, to build up to The Big Reveal. This is foreshadowing. And I thought, instead of planting dialogue or narrative, why not have two characters do a tarot reading on my protagonist?
For my practiced readers, I used the Modified Celtic Cross spread, because I wanted to convey a big picture foretelling. For those that have yet to dabble in Tarot (and I totally recommend you should!) this reading allows for an interpretation of the conscious and unconscious state of being, and the limitations and outcomes that may develop, depending on how the issue in question is played out. For the foreshadowing subplot, I powwowed with my spiritual companions, and we came up with the spread in the photo gallery above. Pretty cool right? If you’re interested in how Tarot readings work, and what the pictures on the cards mean, visit Psychic Revelation or Aeclectic Tarot or even better, go to your nearest mystic. Heck, Gulfport alone, you can’t throw a pebble without hitting at least two practiced Tarot card readers!
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Continuing to the summer book challenge, I completed Casino Royale a couple of weeks ago. My favorite paragraph of the entire book is in Chapter 15, and the dialogue in all of Chapter 20 reminded me of a novella I wrote a year ago. Now, I am in the throes of Live and Let Die. I chose Fleming’s Bond series because I’ve been a fan of the 007 movies since childhood, and as a writer, thought I’d explore the source of my favorite films. This is me late to the party I realize, but I did not know that Fleming wrote about Pinellas County! His characters have connections with sponge divers in Tarpon Springs, marina henchmen in Saint Petersburg, blue haired women in Treasure Island. This wasn’t highlighted in the film version, at least, for what I recall at the time of blogging. So I find it rather cool that Fleming and I, for a moment along the time-space continuum, are sharing the same view.
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Last night was another fun venture at Crum’s Bar and Grill. I performed Stopping By The Masters Grave and an untitled work. Have to give a heartfelt shout out to those who came to support us performers! It’s enjoyable to emote in good company. Salutations to Tony Gaud, TJ from Broken Stars, and my new friend Pedro el Poeta. A warm thanks to the lovely emcee,Maureen McDole, for letting us loose. I think I’ll check out Ruby’s Elixir in June. They are hosting an open mic every Monday throughout the month.
The author celebrates National Poetry Month. This week’s post is part one of a three part installment. The freeing energy that is the Open Mic experience. Snaps, snaps, snaps!
The Academy of American Poets recognizes April as National Poetry Month.This blog will celebrate poets and poetry this month in a three part series.
Imagine walking onto a stage, facing a sea of discontented, uninterested faces. Some are attached to bodies with ambivalent arms folded tightly across their chests. When you announce your name into the microphone, you’re greeted with a sea of disdainful groans. You spend the next five excruciating minutes of your life trying to convince these people you are not the enemy, but for every second you appear before them, you increasingly are. You’re not allowed to depart the stage until loaded questions are hurled upon you, harpoons of cynicism pierce you, and the unflattering photograph is taken.
Imagine waking up the next day, to find your unflattering photo captioned with a misinterpreted soundbite as first page news, and your supervisor blowing up your phone, prepared for a discussion on “best practices.”
Yup. That was me not too long ago. Days like that would keep any sane person away from a microphone, a stage, heck, from people altogether!
I poet. I speak words that are loosely formatted but convey a thought, an emotion, an image. I express myself in a manner that makes me feel whole. Poetry does that for many people. And many people here in the Saint Petersburg area are really, really good at expressing themselves.
My writing partner and I have been open mic’ing (if that’s the verb?) and are pleasantly experiencing dynamic synergy amongst local artists. Open mics aren’t just for poets. There are musicians, comedians, storytellers, and even interpretive dancers. It’s a do-what-you-like-and-be-adored-for-it kind of atmosphere. For me, it’s healing and it’s great practice for the upcoming book readings. And you know what? It’s getting to be a bit addictive too.
Whatever inhibitions you think you may have about performing your art in front of an audience, toss them aside and join in on the fun. When you say your name into the mic, everyone cheers. When you perform your set, you’ll be encouraged by smiles. And when you leave the stage, people will look forward to hearing from you again. Ready to get started? Here’s two venues with upcoming events:
APRIL 17 7pm-9pm: Open Mic Night at Irene’s – St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, 3747 34th St S, St Pete, 33711
This blog will chronicle the adventures of becoming a published author in Saint Petersburg.
Two years ago I said “toodles” to the workforce, packed up my car and drove from Texas to retire in lovely, coastal Florida.
Six novels later, I am venturing into the realm of publication. This year I’ll be releasing “Book One” in the hopes that more than two people find my inner musings as entertaining as I do.
Just this past week, I teamed with the amazing Trace Taylorhttp://gulfportareachamberofcommerce.org/professional-services/item/trace-taylor-author of Trace Taylor Publishing. She’s going to help me achieve my vision of holding a paperback copy of my first fiction work, ISBN number and everything. Trace is a wonderful source of positive energy and is a persistent mentor; I certainly look forward to leaning on her these next few months.
Do I aspire to be the next JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins? Um, yeah. Am I deluded? Not at all. I had a genuinely cathartic and, I can’t emphasize enough, entertaining, experience producing the rowdy, misguided ventures of a seasoned criminal coming to grips with her destiny.
Did you say “criminal” and “her” in the same sentence? Yes. Yes I did.
“Book One,” not the actual title but will be announced soon, is about a criminal who wreaks supernatural havoc on a military base and drug cartel territory simultaneously, and develops a dysfunctional partnership with a renegade Army criminal investigator. It’s a fast moving, heavily layered parable that should keep you pleasantly intrigued on the beach, bench or bed you enjoy reading at.
This blog shares social experimentation techniques that can help an author hone a more authentic storyline towards potential readers. No probes or electrodes necessary.
Last Wednesday I left St. Petersburg for a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I hadn’t left St. Pete since May 2012. Leaving the Treehouse, the name of my rented estate nestled amongst tall trees overlooking a lake, was easy as my writing partner shifted into doggie sitter. What gave my heart staggering palpitations was knowing my edited manuscript was sitting in a wooden cupboard. Not that Marie is a pyromaniac but I was worried about losing my editor’s notes. Extremist, yes, I know.
This trip was arranged by my talented business partner. She and another woman, a gifted singer, were attending a conference at the Grand Ole Opry Gaylord Hotel for their day job. I, like tick bird to a rhino’s hide, eagerly tagged along.
I took the first shift, oh dark thirty to noon. It was no coincidence that the Universe selected “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys as my launch music out of the parking lot. The sleepy ladies bemoaned my punk love, but what they didn’t know is how significant this particular song is to Book One. I was listening to this song as I wrote a very crucial fight scenario. I felt the Universe wanted me to keep my manuscript in my field of consciousness even though I was driving.
I internalized the process of revision when I realized, hello, why not ask people what they find interesting? What do they read? What attracts them to a certain book or movie? It’s focus group time! Time to put my MS to use.
And so while my Nashville cohorts reinforced their product commitments, I made certain to small talk, mingle and yes, even eavesdrop on people.
Friday I spent the day at Vanderbilt University with young and progressive people. Not only did I get good feedback on what the kids are into these days, but they’re willing to help host an event on campus to promote Book One! Awesome sauce.
Good feedback came from individuals that reflected some of my characters. One gentleman I chatted up Saturday night was ex-military and very technically minded. Some concepts sparked intrigue while others he glazed over indifferently. Reading faces is a helpful tool in determining what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, I employed an open questioning technique on the ride home to experience how my road trip buddies respond. What I wanted to garner was what these women valued, what was ethical to them and what disgusted them. My protagonist is not a decent person but I have no doubt she’ll be likeable. So if I know what soft spots to push on actual people, I can have my character do that in her world.
I did all of this to keep the interactions in Book One as authentic as possible. I did not tell anyone that I was deliberately studying their reactions. It would’ve tainted the study. Thank you for participating in my social experiment road trip buddies and Nashville! Now to get back to work.
Micah Nicole, Gina Sotomayor, and me at the Grand Ole Opry Gayloard
Kicking in on the Nerium International advertising.
The definition of author proofed by superhuman attributes.
“And what is your occupation?”
“I’m an author.”
The words tumbled out of my mouth like house keys in front of the door from an errant hand. As subconscious as the reflex which captured the keys before they hit the floor.
I am an author.
Granted, I was speaking to someone gathering information to assess an insurance quote, but the exchange held significance.
We are conditioned to announce titles only if bestowed by society. I am not big on waiting for social acknowledgement.
I write, therefore I am.
If you would have asked me a year ago this month, I would have entered into some haphazard diatribe about a dream deferred and coming out of the darkness and other sad cliches, then have petered out with a disillusioned whimper. The curse of the shadow artist. The artist lives, but we’re too afraid to admit it. Why?
This comes natural to me.
In November 2012, I participated in National Novel Writing Monthhttp://nanowrimo.org/en and won! The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words – think “The Great Gatsby” – in thirty days. I did it in nineteen.
I didn’t write poppycock either. I had colleagues read my rough and their critiques were in the neighborhood of repairable grammar. Bragging? Might as well. I’ve never had an issue producing written works. Which is why I don’t understand how college students can’t hammer out a simple 200-word essay. I can be drunk, high, with a hand tied to a foot, and it would be cherry!
Longhand used to be my preferred method, but like most cyborgs, overuse of a particular assembly results in ugly wear and tear. Adamantium arm in backorder. Before my hand literally curls shut, I can compose on average twenty pages front and back on college ruled paper, about 5,000 words in one session.
To counter my withering instrument, I work in a sweet wireless setup on my couch opposite a 50″ screen. This allows me stellar witching hour compositions in my jimmy jams.
As any warrior poet knows, a pen and notebook should always be at the ready, at the waist or to the back. You never know when inspiration strikes. This particular entry was drafted under a clear blue Saint Petersburg sky and proofed at Taco Bus.
No, I did not buy that insurance policy. But she hung up the phone noting she completed a conversation with Ivonne, the author. She probably slept peacefully that night.
This is my station in life. I am quite comfortable here.