Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Born on Christmas Day



He was born on this day. 
Seventy-seven years ago. 

Christmas day was always a day of celebration in my house: A day to give thanks for the gift of my father’s birth, a day to wrap presents and cook special meals, a day to bake black forest cake with cherries. We used to say the whole world celebrated his birth, and I always believed it.

There will be no celebration this year. No pictures taken by the fireplace. No hugs. No kisses. No shrimp in garlic sauce for dinner, no sweet potatoes, no almonds covered in dark chocolate with green tea. No returns the following day for the sweaters that didn’t fit, or the pants that where too long.

Six months have passed since he left us, and he keeps visiting me in my dreams on a daily basis. Does my subconscious refuse his passing? Of course it does! Do I cry out of the blue sometimes? No doubt I do! Does the belief that he is in a better place make it easier? No, it does not!

There will be silence in my house this year. Prayers and reflections, memories told and old pictures shared. There will be fasting, too.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Keeping Austin Weird

Copies of SHADOWS OF DAMASCUS hit the shelves at the leading independent book store in Texas: BookPeople bookstore in Austin.It is available in 3 sections of the store: General Fiction, Romance Fiction, and Local Author Fiction.
My contribution to Keep Austin Weird!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Writing Fiction

Writing fiction requires not just an active imagination, but also a decent ability to tell a lie. Lie with conviction, with complete abandonment of the truth, and create a web to support the fabrication. A fictional story has to be complete, in all its angles, worlds, twists and turns for it to resonate with a reader. As a writer, I would advise other writers to believe the lie themselves. Live the lie if need be, and keep learning.

No matter how good a writer may be, there is always room for improvement. And if someone were gracious enough to point out shortcomings, that would be the chance to open up and accept. I am not saying all criticism is valid, but I have come across excellent writers who get offended when someone shines a light on a weak point in their work. In the writing world, and specifically in the publishing world, there is very little room for ego. A writer can always reject or accept suggestions, but a writer who wastes time and energy defending his or her work to a critiquing eye is someone who will remain at a standstill.

Make it better, bring it home for the person who found it lacking in one area or another during the editing process, and be grateful someone took the time to give you feedback. But above all, trust your instinct. Like anything else we do in life, we tend to have that nagging voice in our heads telling us when something just isn’t right. If it is a plot issue, and you feel the strings are not knotted tight enough, someone will pick up on that. So do your research, tighten the knots yourself, and make the plot as plausible as possible. If that little voice in your head raises questions about a certain character’s behavior that is not consistent with the kind of person you created, fix it. Characters don’t have to be predictable and consistent. Real people are not. But if you took the time to paint a character in a meaningful way, then his or her behavior must match. Redo the scene that bothers you deep down, it will bother your reader too.