My Best Work Yet . . . The Amazing Editor . . . And a Bit of Wisdom from Author Carmen Baca #Witches #preorder #HispanicLiterature #SpeculativeFiction #WritingCommunity #Writer #amwriting #kindle #barrioblues #border #Amazon #barriobluesRead Now
I know I tried giving this book away a few months back, and the work was great. Since then, people requested it on Amazon. They also wanted a printed version, so I decided to have it edited.
Mona's Return is my best work yet. Part of this breakthrough is that I got to sit with the story and make changes that it needed.
You know when your story just sings and is a page turner. I think this novelette does just that. I read this story three times after final edits, and I loved it more each time. That is the level I want to hit every time.
The other reason the work is so amazing is that I found an excellent editor to help me fine tune the piece:
Aditya Deshmukh @adityadeshmukhwrites
He read it three times and took his time making corrections. Then, after I went over it and made the changes. He went over it again. For once, in the final stages, I wasn't reading a proof, agonizing over missed errors. I also learned a great deal from his feedback and will carry that advice as I revise my novel and write new work. I highly recommend his services. In fact, he doesn't know it yet, but I am having him go over my past publications. I am rolling out a second edition of La Bruja in the Orchard and revising past novelettes.
I always say, treat your editors like God (as Stephen King says), but I can honestly say Aditya is a champion. And friend.
I am also very blessed to have amazing writer friends around me. One of them is Carmen Baca, author of El Hermano and most recently Viajes con Fatasmas. I was chatting with her via Messenger, and she said something about writing that . . . well, let's just say I had a mental explosion. She said about writing, "It’s not a struggle if you know and love the craft, only when you’re forcing it." I hit home with me because I've been complaining about my novel revision. Hell, I always complain about revising. I also just finished listening to Stephen King's On Writing and in that book, he swears he loves all aspects of writing. Of course he does.
That bit of advice though is so true. We may love the craft, but if we don't know what we are doing or if we are forcing it, we are going to fundamentally fuck up the writing process and our books, stories, our writing.
My perspective on revising has changed because I love writing, and I know more about it than I give myself credit for. (Plus, I reached out to a bunch of experienced writers who gave really great advice.) That doesn't mean there won't be struggle or a learning curve as I, or you, write, but if we don't know, we should study to get to know what we need to. And have faith.
Well, I hope you are having a productive writing week. Stay tuned because this week, I am going to send interview questions to Martin Eastland-King! Then, I have a few more writers lined up.
Love every aspect of writing. Don't struggle stupidly. #barrioblues
It has been like that this month: Exaggerated expectation and then sadness regarding the revision of my novel. In the past, once I set a schedule, it took me over two years to write The Harvest (which I am re-titling because someone already used the titles I was planning for my series). I have no idea why I thought I could revise it in a few months. The funny thing is I was giving a reading of Not Your Abuelita's Folktales, and I got asked by a friend what happened to that story. I said, "I'm revising it this summer and hope to pitch it in September for Pitch Wars." You know that sound a deflating balloon makes? Insert it here.
One thing I am sure about, once I revise this one, the next one will be easier. At least that is the hope and prayer.
This week, I put my big girl panties on and decided to outline a novel revision plan--like I would for a short story revision. I set an outline for issues I am going to work on, issue by issue. This list, of course, may make no sense to you, but it does for me. My characters are well-developed, I think, but here is what I landed on.
This week, I am also finalizing Mona's Return. I have a great editor going over that piece, so the Kindle book will be out August 1. The printed version, probably a little after that.
So frowny face, smiley face.
You have any advice for successfully revising a novel? By all means, share some useful comments.
July Writing Hangover, Next Live Reading Event, and My Second Book This Summer, Mona's Return #RevisionsDoNotHavetoSuck #SupportIndieAuthors #ReviewMyBooks #barriobooksRead Now
For many Americans, July is the summer of fireworks, picnics, and family outings. July has been all of these magical things, along with road trips and time with wonderful friends. This month has also been the perpetual writing hangover. Yes, folks, I'm 20% done revising The Harvest, and it has been incredibly hard to stay disciplined and not start any new writing projects. But, that is how the work has to be or else I won't reach my July deadline. I know, yes, I know the editor is going to ask me to make many changes. I also know I will have to rewrite this novel draft one or two times before the September Pitch Wars deadline. This is hard, but I can do it. Besides, I need to finish this novel, so I can move onto the next one. You can read the first chapter in The Harvest tab, but stay tuned because I plan on adding an epilogue. I wasn't going to, but I believe I am going to add some context in that epilogue. I am not sure yet, just that there will be one.
Secondly, I invite you to my next live event in Chicago Tuesday, July 16th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Uptown Branch Public Library @ 929 West Buena Avenue, near the Sheraton Red Line. There is free parking. See the Facebook events page for more details or post questions in the comments. This is a public event.
Fans of La Bruja in the Orchard will be pleased with my pre-sale of Mona's Return, available now in Kindle for only $.99. The hard copy will also be released August 1. I have also heard your demands, readers, and thus, I will make sure to have printed copies of all my books. Zona 5 in print is coming soon. I just have this ideal of not having anything shorter than 150 pages, so my readers can get their bang for their buck, but I respect your requests. Besides, La Bruja in the Orchard, which is my shortest pub has the most 5 star reviews.
Finally, the newsletter. It has been a great experiment, but I think that is going to change to an updates and occasional freebies for subscribers. The first of the month has been difficult for me to achieve this summer. However, I have events coming up that I could announce on a monthly basis. That's all part of the learning curve, and the point is to not drive myself insane. So, be patient. The next newsletter should come out tomorrow with a nice free story for subscribers as well as an events flyer.
Change is good, am I right? I hope you all are having a magnificent day, filled with creativity and new ideas! Maybe even the writing hangover, I dread, but am learning to appreciate. Bleh.
Keep dreaming and reaching your goals. #barrioblues
An Amazing Interview with Author Pagan Malcolm #BuyLanternsintheSky #SupportIndieAuthors #barriobluesRead Now
Pagan, first of all thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! It’s a real honor.
I want to begin by asking some background information about you. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
Hi Jesú I'm so happy to be interviewed!
Okay, so am actually from Australia, born in North Queensland in a small country town 20 minutes from the Great Barrier Reef (it's quite literally on our doorstep). But ironically enough, I'm not really a fan of the ocean or swimming—so I suppose that's why I chose to be a writer instead!
I've been writing since I can remember. I actually used to draw pictures before I learned how to write, and mind you, those pictures were just scribbles. I would explain each picture as if I were telling a story. So, I guess I've been telling stories long before I was even writing!
Tell us about your current book Lanterns in the Sky?
Lanterns In The Sky is the first book in my 7 book fantasy series.
It's about a reincarnated starlight princess who must stop a war from her past. You'll follow Lucy Maisfer as she seeks to protect her best friend from a mysterious boy and unravel the secrets of her past—only to discover how all three of them are connected in the grand scheme of things.
I really wanted to write an unpredictable story where everything you think you know can’t be truly trusted—so if you love twists, magic, royalty, romance and complicated relationships, you'll likely devour this book. The book is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Lanterns-Sky-Starlight-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07NZXTMQ4/
(P.S: The next book is coming in December, 2019!)
Pagan, I loved the world building in Lanterns in the Sky, and I was totally surprised by the inclusion of angels. Could you tell my readers more about that world you built? What inspired it?
I've been working on this series for the past 7 years and it started out as something else entirely—a horror story. Thankfully, the idea quickly adapted when I realized horror wasn't my forte and I got inspired to write about a world full of magic and starlight. However, the original concept always remained the same: "What if the stars were lanterns in the sky?"
Even in the original book, these lanterns were lit by a source of magic, which ended up being angels. They aren't your typical 'religion' angels though—they have their own lore, backstory and purposes which gets explored in more detail in the sequel novel and help to support the overarching plot of the entire series. I can confidently say that each world in the series stemmed from the angel lore I created.
(BTW, if you've read Lanterns In The Sky—yes, there are more worlds coming! Grab your popcorn *wink*).
I know at one point you told me you had done the best writing in that book, how have you grown as writer?
Once upon a time, I knew how to write well but developing a plot that resonated with readers seemed to always fall short for me. Over the years, I've gotten a better grasp on writing character conflict and emotions, exploring deeper issues through my writing, and finding that hook that captures reader's attention. It's more than just having an exciting plot with a number of twists thrown in—the story has to mean something to find a place in a reader's heart for a long time. It's not always easy to pin-point what that something is going to be for various people.
I would definitely consider Lanterns In The Sky better in many ways that my previous book, Stuck On Vacation With Ryan Rupert, because everything from the character development, to the plot, to the world-building is the result of my evolved real-life experiences and nurtured writing skill.
Finally, a number of emerging writers visit my blog. What three kernels of advice would you give a beginning writer?
I love this question! *rubs hands together in delight*
Are there future projects in the horizon?
Oh my yes!
I need to finish the next two Ryan Rupert books, and I'm currently buried in deadlines for the remaining Starlight Chronicles books. Once all of that is out of the way, I have two other stories that have been waiting patiently in the back of my mind. I won't reveal anything about them yet though.
I know you run a successful business and manage a fantastic Facebook group, could you tell my readers about both?
It would be my pleasure!
As well as writing full time, I run a business called Paperback Kingdom which helps authors to tell and sell their stories through copywriting and coaching.
Whether you aspire to finally write (or just polish) your manuscript, you need help with selling your book, or you simply seek knowledge about publishing, promotion, branding and authorship, I have a range of courses and services that can help: https://paperbackkingdom.com/
To get a taste of what working with me is like (and to join a super engaged and supportive community of ambitious writers), I invite you to come join Happily Ever Author.
It's a completely free Facebook group where you can hang out, ask questions, share wins, and show off your writerly merch (because yes, we are so cool that we have our own merch store!)
Happily Ever Author: https://www.facebook.com/groups/179870559244922/
Where can future fans follow you on social media?
Thank you for an amazing interview! I hope we do this again in December for the launch of your next book.
The questions below are for Pagan's fans. Also, at the beginning, we added a fun question where Pagan answered something I was very curious about.
Pagan, where does your name come from?
My dad’s parents were SUPER religious. Like, controlling religious. They would force my parents to go to church and do all sorts of religious stuff and the only thing that my dad’s parents couldn’t have control over was what they named me. So, they named me Pagan!
(Just in case you don’t know—Pagan means “non believer in God”.)
Anyway, once I was born and they revealed the name they SHAT themselves. They were like “you can’t name her that!”
They would call me “Paige” or “the Baby” and they would insist they need to change my name. They died when I was really young so I don’t know what things would have been like now. I was told that despite my name they absolutely adored me and would hold me in their arms for hours—but the name thing cracks me up every time.
Pagan: Where does your name come from?
Jesú: My parents like your grandparents are very religious. Mexicans often do this thing where they will name kids after a saint for celestial succor or a miracle. When I was born, I was three months premature and needed open heart surgery. They named me Mary of Jesus or Maria de Jesus. Can’t get holier than that. Well, I lived. Thank God.
However, Jesú is my nickname, given to me by Japanese exchange workers my dad used to train in the citrus orchards. They couldn't pronounce the second -s in Jesus, so they would call me Jesú.
The truth is, I wanted to be special and didn’t want to be called Maria like the twenty other Marias in kindergarten, so my nickname stuck. I only answer to Jesú.
[Back to Pagan.]
How did you know you wanted to a writer/be an entrepreneur?
So I am absolutely shocking at math and I legitimately thought business was all about math until I left high school. If you had pulled me aside back then and said:
"Yo Pagan, in three years from now you're going to be running your own business as an entrepreneur."
I would have been like:
And probably would have run for the hills.
As it turns out, I love being a business owner and entrepreneur. I never would have considered it but I sort of fell into it when I realized that I wanted to make money doing what I loved and what I was good at (writing), and that the best way to do that seemed to be by freelancing/working for myself. I always knew I wanted to be an author, but I also didn't believe I could make a full salary from just penning fiction novels (or at least, not for a long, long time). I knew I needed something else to sustain me along the way.
So I finally quit my job, experimented a ton, and I ended up here somehow. That being said, I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe I'm on the right path and wish someone had told me I could be doing this kind of thing a lot sooner.
How do you do it all?
I'm not going to lie—I have a lot of support around me. I currently still live with my dad so when things go to shit (which is more often than you might think), I have help. Building a business for the first time (and being in my second year of it) is very difficult. I can do a lot because I have the time, the flexibility, and I've lined up my priorities. But that being said, I still struggle financially every now and then which causes major setbacks.
I'm sharing this because I want both aspiring authors and aspiring business owners to understand that even when everything looks great on the outside—it's not always. I'm human, just like you! I fall down and I get back up.
Don't feel discouraged if you wish you had more time or money and you're enviously admiring someone else—I bet they don’t have it as together as you may think. You just gotta do your best anyway, and find your own strengths!
Dr. Jesú Estrada,