Archive | March, 2014

Writing a Trilogy

24 Mar

I’m about to start the final book in my trilogy, and I must admit…it’s bittersweet. Writing the first book was an adventure, it was an introduction to my world and my characters. At this point, I feel like my characters have a life of their own. The story has the potential to go on forever.

While I must admit, when I realized this- I was terrified. What if they never let me end it? What if they take over, and just want to keep on going? Keep living? Keep surviving? What if there is no end? Only more and more beginnings?

It’s a good position to be in. It’s both scary and beautiful at the same time.

On a few legs of this journey, I found myself frightened. Frightened of the possibilities. Frightened of the reality that strange things have occurred while I was writing the tale. Frightened of the divine intervention that took place. Frightened when an agent asked for the full manuscript for the first book. Frightened when more rejected it.

Sometimes I wonder, am I more afraid of failure or success? Am I afraid that the world I created is alive? Am I frightened that my characters are so real? So deep? Am I afraid that I won’t do their story justice?

Where does the underlying fear come from? Fear of hard work? Fear of hours and hours into one whole piece of work? Fear of it finally coming to an end?

I know one thing. The first book is a baby, the second book is a greedy teenager, and the third book is an elder. But in the realm of fantasy, sometimes, creatures are immortal.

That’s just the way it goes.

I hope one day I can share the trilogy with you all. I hope you can come to know and love my characters as much as I have. I know one thing- I’m not frightened to set them free from my hands. I only wish them luck on their journey into your realm.

A Foreclosure Story: White Desk Stuff: (3) The Death of a Loved One

16 Mar

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White Desk Stuff, Chapter Three

The Death of a Loved One 

During the time just before the foreclosure process began, a few things were happening. As I look back on it, all the events seem to be connected in one way or another. My mom started having health problems. My Great Oma passed away. The death of a loved one is more important than anything else. You need to be with family. You need to grieve. You need to mourn the end of a great life on this realm or celebrate the beginning of their afterlife in another.

                It may seem odd, but when my Great Oma passed away, it was the only time I never cried when faced with death. This was the one instance where it didn’t feel sad or unfair. She was 97 years old. She married the love of her life and didn’t date anyone after he passed away. She had children she loved, and children that loved her. She had a full life of love, family, books and cards. She got to see her great grandchildren born and raised. She was walking until the time she never woke up.

                She passed away, peacefully, in her sleep. I like to think of it as if she were dreaming of going to the other realm, to be with the love of her life. She just ran into his arms and it was just that easy. She never woke up.

                How can you be sad about that? I think dying in your sleep is the most peaceful way to go. There is no heartache, no anger. There is only warmth and comfort. I couldn’t be upset. A sweet woman died the way she lived; in peace, with a smile on her face.

                She left behind a legacy. She carried on her family line. Because of her, many were born and many will live beyond her death. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be alive. It’s all connected.

                And despite the fact that this was part of what caused my mother to fall behind in the mortgage payments, because she went down to be with her family for almost a month, I’m happy she got to see my Great Oma before she passed away. I’m happy my mom got to spend those last days with her mother, and her Oma. She needed to be there.

                There are certain things in life that are more important than other things. We all may get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and its seemingly meaningless things, but at times like these, when someone you love is on the verge of death, you realize what actually matters. You realize that money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That life is something to celebrate. That death is something that is inevitable. It makes you appreciate the loved ones you still have with you.

                Looking back on it now, missing that damn mortgage payment was the beginning of the end, but it was also the end of a beautiful life. And what’s more important? I say life.

                While that house was our home, that woman was a vital matriarch who we all are indebted to for giving us life. Banks are an institute that need to keep up with their business in order to thrive. I understand that. Mortgages need to be paid. It’s not up to them to be understanding of our individual circumstances, though it would be nice. I don’t blame them anymore. The anger has faded but only in retrospect.

                During those first few months of the foreclosure process, it seemed like it were all a dream. It seemed unrealistic to think that we would lose our home. We did everything we needed to do to save it, it just wasn’t enough. 

**If you want to read the rest of this book as I write it, just follow my blog and sign up for e-mail notifications of a new post. I’m putting this up here for free in hopes that it will reach even just one person and let you know you’re not alone.

A Foreclosure Story: White Desk Stuff: (2) Beginnings & Ends

13 Mar

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White Desk Stuff, Chapter Two

Beginnings & Ends

Let’s start in the near beginning, which I hadn’t known was the beginning. I was twenty one when I first moved out of my parents’ house. My little brother was a young seventeen years old. We were going to move in together. We had bright ideas and hopeful eyes. The promise of a future was laid out before us in dreams and vodka shots. We’d have it all.

Rats had infested our old house. They lit a fire under my ass. Time to get the hell out of here. Waking up with rat shit in my bed under my covers: that was my incentive. It was a sudden decision. Our grandfather’s house was empty. He had died years ago. F#%@ it, let’s move in there and take over the responsibility of the bills before we lose it to the bank. It meant something to me to save it. It was my grandpa’s. He died Christmas Eve when I was twelve years old. I still remember. The pain is something that can fade like a dimming light, only it never goes out. It burns deep inside you and you don’t forget, you only remember when you choose to, and sometimes when you don’t choose to.

We packed our sh#t and got out and moved into the house. Living with him were some of the best years of my life, and I still wish my other brother had been with us. Although, the sudden responsibility of having to buy oil and pay other bills on top of my own bills was weighing on me. We were living off ramon noodles and pasta, but still, we were having fun. The glory of the ramon noodle chicken flavor didn’t taste cheap. It tasted like freedom. We tasted our first bite of life on our own, without our parents.

Looking back, I don’t know how we both afforded to smoke cigarettes. We realized we needed a roommate and we did just that; inviting someone else to join in on the crazy. While the three of us (plus friends & my other brother) were having fun and going bat sh#t crazy, I didn’t realize my mother was struggling to pay her own bills.

At the time, she was dealing with health issues having to do with brain atrophy and confusion. Since I wasn’t living with her, I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Long story short, it didn’t work out. We were having issues with family in regards to us staying in the house vs. them wanting to sell it. After about two years of us living out of the nest, almost as quickly as we moved in, we moved out. My little brother moved to Jersey City and I moved back in to the nest with my mom and other brother.

Once I moved back in, the foreclosure process had already just about began. My Great Oma passed away, and my mom went down to Florida to visit her mother and brothers. She was there for almost a month and due to the fact that she wasn’t home or working, she missed a month’s payment for the mortgage. When she came back, the next month, she sent them about half the monthly mortgage payment, but they sent it back; saying they needed the two months paid in full. Of course, if she couldn’t afford to pay the one month in full, how could she pay both?

This logic didn’t apply to the mortgage company, as they don’t see individual complications or family issues as something to do with paying your dues. And so, the foreclosure process began. We saw a light at the end of the tunnel. We didn’t think we’d actually lose the home we lived in for over twenty years. Our home. But we did.

***This is chapter two. If you want to read the rest of this book as I write it, just follow my blog and sign up for e-mail notifications for a new post. I’m putting this up here for free in hopes that it will reach even just one person whose house foreclosed and let you know you’re not alone.You can find the introduction and chapter one in the category ‘White Desk Stuff’ or ‘Non-fiction’. Thank you for reading. If you’ve been through this, or know someone who has lost their home, please comment. I will be self-publishing this book.

Reading and Writing: Simultaneously

13 Mar

Today, while I was at work, I had a pile of five books. I was reading one. My laptop was open on something I was writing. And I was answering phone calls in-between.

“What are you doing?” a co-worker asked.

“Oh, just reading five books and writing two.” I said.

She looked at me with a look of surprise, curiosity, and bewilderment all at the same time.

“What?” I laughed. “Is that not normal?”

It led me to begin to think about multitasking. And writing in general. How many of us have ever found ourselves writing a novel while wanting to read other books at the same time? I used to be a firm believer in not reading any other books while writing my own. I was afraid of outside influence sneaking in. I was afraid another author’s ideas would somehow interact with my own and confuse my own ideas.

Now, I’ve just given in. I’ve succumbed to the desire of reading while writing my novels. Why? Because, I’m constantly writing my next novel. If I keep putting down books to write, it’ll not only stump my intellectual growth, but it’ll make me hurry to finish my book just so I can read again.

After I gave in and started reading, I realized I was false in my assumptions. I realized that my story is completely separate from the others. In no way, shape, or form did another author’s thoughts sneak into my own. There are also benefits. While you’re reading, you’re seeing what works in a story and what doesn’t. You see patterns you either like or dislike. It doesn’t affect your own style, but it does make you realize a certain rhythm is necessary. It makes you understand even greater just how vital it is to have a good narration and an endearing main character.

You walk away after reading a good book with the realization of how necessary it is to end a story well. It keeps it bright in your mind so you don’t forget it. It helps you write your story along so that it all makes sense. So everything you think is important is there.

Of course, this might not work for everyone. I used to strictly write until I was finished and not read any books until mine was over. But, also, it used to be a lot more difficult for me to actually finish a book. Now that I know I can, it’s easier. I’m more comfortable reading now. I know my style and my voice will always be there, regardless of what else I read in the meantime. And anyway, isn’t everything an influence on our thoughts and ideas in one way or another? Our past? Our education? Films we’ve seen? Books we’ve loved? People we’ve loved? Things we’ve hated? Everything.

So I say, gather up your influences. Gather them all up and mix them in a giant pot with fresh concepts and new ideas. Make a delicious soup full of interesting characters, driven plots, and rhythmic prose.

But no matter what you do, just write god damn it. Whether it’s great or not. Lower your expectations of yourself. Set the bar low, and you can’t disappoint yourself. Tell yourself you’re going to write a piece of crap today. But who knows- maybe it will come out smelling like roses.

Guest Post: “Writing Cramps” by Christina Hart

11 Mar

Check out my guest blog post for one of my personal favorites, Gus Sanchez from Out Where the Buses Don’t Run. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with his blog, I suggest you do so!

Out Where the Buses Don't Run

Hey everyone,

Busy, busy, busy, as the good people of Bokonon would say. Yeah, it’s been a hellacious busy time here at Out Where the Buses Don’t Run. Work (real work), writing, reading, life, things have been hectic, but in a good way. Unfortunately, my blog’s taken a hit. Hence the reason why there have been no new posts lately. Some new posts will be coming soon, I promise.

In the meantime, here’s a terrific guest post from Christina Hart. You may know her from her insightful and funny blog, Daily Rants with the Bitch Next Door. Christina’s been kind enough to share with us a guest post, entitled “Writing Cramps.” In her words, “it’s 463 words, and summarizes the joys and difficulties of the writing process. It explains how characters can lead you through the process, how you can teach them to stop bitching about the…

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A Foreclosure Story: White Desk Stuff: Intro

11 Mar

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Hey bloggers out there. I know, I know. I typically write fiction. But recently, I went through a foreclosure and I started working on a non-fiction piece. Perhaps no one cares, but perhaps some of you went through something similar. I was originally planning on finishing it, and then most likely self-publishing it (because I’m no expert on how to cope effectively), but I’ve decided to share it with you all out here on the blogosphere instead. Enjoy.

White Desk Stuff

Introduction

The idea for this collection of short stories and essays came from a divine daydream. I hardly believe in ‘ideas’ themselves. And I think writers (or at least me) have multiple personalities, or perhaps just while we’re in different characters’ heads. I chose the title White Desk Stuff because my parents’ home recently foreclosed. A few days before Christmas, to make it worse. We packed everything up and cleaned the entire house from top to bottom in a week and a half. The entire experience was…stressful isn’t even the word. I had hardly started my Christmas shopping and was in the midst of a total devastating tornado of emotions and guilt from all parties involved, including my dog, and the way it happened was so fast that we didn’t really have time to process it, let alone cry.

We moved into the new house, which was half the size of the one we had just lost, and there was so much furniture, boxes, and garbage bags everywhere that it felt like we didn’t really have a home. I started unpacking, carrying boxes and things up to my new room. I have a vintage, white drop-top desk with flowers hand-painted on it. It’s usually where I sit and write. So, most importantly, I wanted to find the box marked ‘White Desk Stuff’ first and foremost. I went crazy trying to find it, climbing on top of heaps of boxes and bags and furniture, but I found it.

I was laying in my bed one night, after it collapsed due to the lack of a box spring and not enough wood slats, and I just kept staring at the box. White Desk Stuff. All of the instances and thoughts and memories hit me all at once and I just kept thinking of the severity of the blow we had just been dealt. My childhood home, the one my parents owned for twenty two years, was taken from us. Just like that. No second chance, no opportunity to keep it. It was gone. I started crying, for the first time, about the house and everything we had just been through. The whirlwind of emotions and thoughts that flooded through my mind and body was so overwhelming that I suddenly got an “idea”.

White Desk Stuff. The ‘stuff’ you keep in your desk. The emotions. The experiences. The crumpled papers that mean nothing to you now but might mean something to your grandchildren decades from now. The things you throw away and the things that you keep. The memories. The break ups. The laughter. The tears. The people. The past. The present. The future. Desk stuff doesn’t hold only material items, but memories and hopes as well.

I realized in that split moment just how devastating this experience was. How stressful it all had been. And how many people experienced it in this day and age. Just at my job alone, two of the women I work with and one man have lost their homes. At my mom’s job, four people have as well. So many people I have spoken to and encountered in the last year alone have been affected by the foreclosure process. Hell, even the realtor who came to give us our relocation check had lost his home. How many people must go through this? How many families must suffer?

This book is not about whining or complaining that life isn’t fair. It’s about the process of dealing with the hand that life deals you. It’s about staying strong while you’re being beat down and losing everything. It’s about survival. My mother and I heard a quote during this time that may have saved us. “It can’t rain forever.”

If you want to read the rest of this book as I write it, just follow my blog and sign up for e-mail notifications of a new post. I’m putting this up here for free in hopes that it will reach even just one person and let you know you’re not alone.