This book review made my week! Follow Daniel Roche. He supports indie writers like us. #WritingCommunity #WriterLift
I am doing a paperback giveaway of not your Not Your Abuelita's Folktales! You can enter here.
I also want to thank my writer sister Carmen Baca for helping me design that awesome video above.
YOU HAVE LIVED SUCH A FASCINATING LIFE, STEVE. TELL MY READERS ABOUT YOURSELF.
I'm not certain how fascinating it is. I was born in poverty and raised with four siblings by a single mother who had an eighth grade education. The only books we had in the house for most of my childhood was the Bible and a set of encyclopedias, so I read both the Bible and encyclopedias from cover to cover a few times. I make up what I lack in intelligence with sheer will and determination. Thanks to a high school English teacher who told me I could write, I joined the Army right out of high school to become a military journalist during the Vietnam War era. I didn't go to Vietnam, but instead was given plush duty at the Jacksonville, Florida District Recruiting Command where for about three years I wrote articles for newspapers all over Florida. That launched my career as a writer, although I went years, and traveled extensively, without writing to pursue other means of making a living and to see the world. In college I majored in English/Theater which fed my interests in playwriting, so I went that direction for a few years and had my own stage production company. It wasn't until June, 2016 that I took up writing short stories and since then I've been very lucky to find editors and readers who seem to like my work.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY ABOUT?
I write, but I still haven't fully embraced that I'm a writer. I lack any gravitas at all as a writer. In middle school I wrote a short story that was about thirty handwritten pages long that had something to do with knights and battles. I'm pretty sure that was my first serious short story.
I AM ALWAYS IMPRESSED BY THE BREADTH AND DEPTH OF YOUR WORK. YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC WRITERS I KNOW, AND I LOVE YOUR WRITING. CAN YOU OFFER A GLIMPSE OF HOW YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORKS?
The word “process” always freaks me out because I have a very clear process for submitting stories (as outlined in my Guidebook: How To Get Your Short Stories Published) but no real process for how I manage the activity of writing. I write when I want to write without feeling guilty when I don't. The number of words I write per day really depends on when I have a story scheduled to be submitted by. If I have a real process its an organizational process, knowing what publication I'm writing a story for based on what they want, following their prompt and guidelines, not writing just to put words on paper.
AS IS STATED EARLIER, YOUR WRITING BREADTH IS AMAZING AS IS YOUR CHOICE IN GENRES. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ONE?
I love the many forms of the fantasy genre. There's a bit of that in so many of my stories and often it goes unnoticed. Fiction is fantasy, after all.
WHAT GENRE(S) WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN?
I'm not sure I want to be more effective in writing it, but I wish I could grow to like writing romance stories. It's a very popular genre that I'd like to be able to write with some conviction, but it's a genre that I have a very hard time taking seriously, so therefore I mostly stay away from it.
EVERY NOW AND THEN I SEE YOUR GORGEOUS WORK THAT DEALS WITH GENDER AND SEXUALITY. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT SUBJECT WITHOUT BEING OVERLY POLITICAL?
That's an amazingly great question that no interviewer has asked me before. I have never hidden that I'm gay and amazingly in my entire life I have never had one single negative word said to my face, or attacked online, because of my sexuality. I wish I could say that was the same for all LGBTQ+ individuals. The world can be an ugly place for almost anyone in many, many circumstances, so I don't have the right to complain about life being unfair simply because I'm gay. Gender politics is unavoidable when writing about men and women, gay or straight, or any variation in between. My only real political axe to grind is with those that harm others emotionally or physically.
WHAT THREE KERNELS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER? A SEASONED WRITER?
So you're asking for six kernels of advice. For the new writer: (1) Learn grammar, (2) Learn how to self-edit your work, (3) Don't take advice from anyone who knows less about writing than you do. For the seasoned writer: (1, 2 &3) Follow the same advice I give to the new writer.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED TO WRITE?
There will be a time when I will stop writing. I want to make sure I've said as much as I wanted to say by the time I reach that point which motivates me to continue to pound on the computer keys in hopes that I'm getting it all out.
IF YOU WERE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND (WITH YOUR PARTNER) WHAT THREE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE WITH YOU?
(1) How To Catch Fish. (2) How To Cook Fish. (3) Things To Do With Fish Bones.
HAVE THESE BEEN LITERARY INFLUENCES? IF NOT, WHICH AUTHORS HAVE BEEN?
The books and short stories by W. Somerset Maugham taught me everything I needed to know about writing short stories. The plays by Tennessee Williams taught me how to write dialogue.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS.
I have about thirty publications on my schedule to submit new stories to in the next few months. As always, the projects cover almost all genres, and some I have an idea of what story I'm going to write for it, and some I don't. I wish I could be more specific, but being too specific would hem me in. I allow myself the freedom to be non-specific until the very last moment. It's not a writing project per se, but I have a new collection of short stories coming out in October, titled The Very Best of Steve Carr: 50 Short Stories, that is being published as a hardback to be available on Lulu and on Amazon kindle by Clarendon House Books. It contains 50 stories that were written and published prior to March of 2019. I'm particularly proud of this collection because it includes commentaries on the stories by over 85 writers, editors, educators, poets, artists, and friends worldwide.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
The real world and the writing world have a very uneasy relationship, both fearful of being overly controlled by one another. I don't think writing can transform the world, but a world without writing would be transformed almost overnight.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Twitter is @carrsteven960.
My Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/steven.carr.35977
STEVE, IT IS A REAL PLEASURE AND HONOR. I HOPE WE DO THIS AGAIN SOON.
Thank you, Jesú. I hope so too.
Cover Reveal: Wolf Trek, Second Edition and Upcoming Awesomeness #barrioblues #WritingCommunity #Iamwriting
Happy Labor Day Fans and Friends,
First of all, I haven't bee blogging as much because I have been revising my novel, and that is a near-meditative state. Productive, but very introspective. I also just started teaching and that takes a lot of time and energy. Nevertheless, some exciting writing things are happening!
The second edition of my novelette Wolf Trek is coming out in a few months. I am really happy with the cover, and after going back and forth with the designer, settled on the cover you see below. I am genuinely rewriting a second edition, not just reprinting the original text with a new introduction. Stay tuned!
In a week or so, I am having a new Amazon giveaway. For that one, I am giving away a couple of paperbacks of Not Your Abuelita's Folktales. The book is getting decent four to five star reviews. I am as ever intrigued by the four star reviews, but I am happy the book is being reviewed! (You know sometimes these reviews take blood sacrifices.)
In the next few weeks, I will also be interviewing some amazing writers. Steve L. Carr and Mehreen Ahmend, both amazing writers. That is actually the highlight of this post! I am also reviewing The Pacifist by Mehreen in a few weeks.
Finally, I am nearing 2,000 Twitter followers. I will be giving away one or two copies of my novelettes. So, follow me @drmariajestrada if you haven't done so and join the fun.
I hope you are all having an amazing day. My husband is luring me with sushi for lunch, and we are still doing some back to school shopping, so I'm off.
Keep living that writing dream. #barrioblues
My First-Ever Author Interview and Mona's Return Rolling Giveaway #WritingCommunity #WriterLift #barrioblues
Dear Friends, I am so proud to share my first-ever author interview! I enjoyed it so much and loved the questions.
I also want to give Aditya Deshmukh a heartfelt thank you for the chance to speak my truth. Muchas gracias, hermano.
You can read it at "Interview with María J. Estrada".
A lot of wonderful writer things have been happening. I have gotten great reviews for both of my summer releases Mona's Return and Not Your Abuelita's Folktales. Writers, you know how hard it is to get these.
Thank you reviewers! You brighten my month.
I am also celebrating my 1,000+ followers on Twitter and getting to know a huge number of amazing writers. In celebration, I am giving away two books today, Friday, August 16, and will have a benchmark giveaway every 1,000 followers. (You can follower me @drmariajestrada; I follow back and continue to follow, unless you are a troll or harassing me for a date.) That has been one of the greatest discoveries: These authors are supportive and uplifting and making me buy a bunch of great books.
What an amazing time we live in to be exposed to so many great writers because of technology. Now, let's make literacy a dream for everybody and provide the space and time for them to read.
Secondly, I am having a rolling giveaway of Mona's Return on my FB Author page. Each giveaway only lasts a week, and last time, the winner didn't even claim the prize, which made me quite sad. The new giveaway is linked here and runs through, August 20th: https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/34726f519a6522c0
May you experience joy as you experiment with writing and marketing. #barrioblues
Giveaway of Mona's Return on Amazon! Try and Win Your E-book Today! #WritingCommunity #iamwriting #amwriting #giveaway #free #book #promo #amazongiveaway #giveawayalert @Amazon
Want to win a free copy of Mona's Return kindle edition? It's free to try!
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/6961b6ae93a74c22 #WritingCommunity #iamwriting #amwriting #giveaway #free #book #promo #amazongiveaway #giveawayalert @Amazon
WHAT GOT YOU STARTED AS A WRITER?
I remember as a child, although I had severe reading abilities, using a system called ITA, reading a lot of classic children’s books, leading to my spending a great deal of my childhood volunteering in the local public library, stacking books and issuing them in my later formative years. Hell, it was better than fighting or being at home! The main two books in my life were in 1986, both connected by sheer chance, and the ones that shaped my life from that point. Dracula (1897, Bram Stoker) and it’s protégé, Salem’s Lot (1975, Stephen King). Although the Stoker classic I had read in ‘children book’ format, I soon after read the unabridged adult version, which blew me away. But, it was the slow-burning, insidious drive of King’s second novel that made me love the written word so much that it made me a writer then and there.
DO YOU RECALL YOUR FIRST ATTEMPTS AT WRITING?
Like it was only yesterday. I was in my High School Library, and in the store room sat a heavy, metal manual typewriter from the 70’s or 80’s – the kind you could probably kill someone with should you need to throw it at them! I asked to try it out, and what followed still freaks me out to this day, 30 years on. It was run off like a demon in around 20 minutes, set in Hong Kong – somewhere I’d had only images of from movies – and used a lot of cinematic imagery, even then, at 12 years old, being very unusual. It was called Heart of the Orient. In more recent years, I used it as a scene in a screenplay called Gaijin. It remains unwritten as yet. The other key story was a mock preliminary English exam, called “The Night the House Fell Down”, based on only a photograph of a large farmhouse and a crumbled brick perimeter wall. I wrote my way to the best grade I had ever had in those days. Shame I didn’t think to repeat the feat for the actual exam held soon – not wasn't sure I was allowed to.
WHAT GENRES DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR STRONGEST, AND WHY?
If I’m going to be honest, I stick with what I know best, that being Suspense-Thriller and Suspense-Horror. They’re more fun to write and I get a kick out of scaring the crap out of people or giving them something to think about for the next few weeks.
As to the “why” part, most assume I have a choice in it. It’s just the way it is, I guess. I do expand into other areas, but these two are where I do the most damage to my readers’ psychoses.
I would honestly have to cite Science-Fiction. Not that I don’t like it, but simply the fact that it never really bit me like Suspense and Horror did. No gifts in that area have made themselves apparent as yet.
I’ll get there, though. I’m open to trying most things but my confidence lies in Suspense with occasional horror elements.
WHAT GENRES WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN?
I’m a huge fan of James Clavell! Historical fiction is amazingly detailed and vast, and it’s an area I delve into now and then. His two novels – Shogun and Tai-Pan – were almost Victorian in diction, and the universes he placed his creations were rich and consuming.
AS A WRITER, WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
This one’s fairly easy to nail. My best feature is my atmospheric description, maybe the general narrative flow (so I’m told, at least). My hopes are that my work imprints itself on my readers’ minds.
As for weaknesses, I think I would have to say dialogue and complex grammatical issues. My English education at school was hopeless. We didn’t get grammar, composition, or what the hell a “floating gerundive” or a “split infinitive” is. I learned to write through reading novels from 11 years old and never looked back since. I feel that God has blessed me with an instinctual gift in writing, as the consolation prize for the less than harmonious childhood and adolescence I’ve had to endure all these years . . . but it’s [writing] always been there when I needed it to lose myself in. I owe it a great deal.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU WRITE AS A RULE?
I write every day, even if it’s only 2,000 words to get the feel for a new story. I work my way through it on an electric typewriter as I rattle it out as stream-of-consciousness or free-writing, getting my bearings. Then I transfer it to Word on my phone, and continue from there, if I feel it has legs to spend time on. I’ll generally work at night, into the small hours, as the kids are asleep and I can focus, but I often write at various stages through my day while kids are at school, when possible.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING ABOUT THE PROCESS?
I love the rush of getting a new idea, and rattling it out, destroying the smugness of the blank sheet of paper, infusing it with life. The worst part is not having my work be rejected – I couldn’t care less! The waiting is the worst part – both waiting for acceptance/rejection or for the publication date so I can get my hands on my copy (Laughs). When it’s accepted, it’s a sweeter feeling of achievement.
I see you have a book of fiction coming out soon. Is that your first book? Tell us more about that publication.
It’s a collection of short stories, titled Out of the Ashes, mainly, with a scattering of flash fiction pieces that I thought might be interesting sidelines on the human darkness aspect of our own duality, a much-secreted factor in our ‘make-up’ and themes which we enjoy in private in direct opposition to the carefully-packaged image we present to our peers. Sadly, concern for others’ perception of us limits our own development, and draws us further into the shadows. These stories, I believe, will cause people to re-examine themselves and look at life from a different vantage point. I’ve also included a small amount of extra bonus features for the readers to enjoy at the end.
WHAT, IF ANY ADVICE, WOULD YOU OFFER A NEW WRITER?
I don’t feel right offering advice at this juncture, but I will offer that writing can provide a deep satisfaction to your mental well-being, and it’s a lot of fun creating something out of nothing, even just a title. Grow a thick skin – you’re gonna need it! Don’t listen to anyone saying, “Get a real job!” If you’re getting withdrawal symptoms from not writing, you’re on the right track.
With us, there is no choice. We have to write.
Thank you for doing an interview with me! I hope to interview you in the future.
Readers, you can learn more about Martin Eastland @ https://www.facebook.com/martin.eastlandking.
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 #barrioblues
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 #barriobooks
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
Dr. Jesú Estrada,
|Barrio Blues and Other Totally True Stories||