The Bubble

The Bubble

We never had to deal with the stress of food allergies before, so this is all new to us with Oliver. Mostly everything in our house is nut, egg and dairy free. There are some exceptions that we hide well in top cabinets for when he’s asleep. And we do order pizza every once in a while (after the kids are in bed and we feel guilty about it), but we wash our hands thoroughly afterwards and we clean every surface that came in contact with the pizza box.

We’re on constant alert every time we go anywhere. Sometimes we half-joke that we wish we could keep Oliver in a bubble in order to keep him safe. And this was the inspiration for this illustration in the book I’m working on:

little penguin in bubble

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Working on a Children’s Book

Working on a Children’s Book

My son Oliver has severe food allergies. He’s not even three years old and he’s had his fair share shots of Epinephrine. Of course, I pray everyday that he outgrows all of his food allergies, or at least one of them, but in the meantime, I want him to learn about them.

For his age, he already knows a lot about which foods are “safe” and which are not (and also how to label a food that he doesn’t like as “not safe”), but I also want him to know that he’s not alone, that although we can’t go to restaurants together as a family, there are other things he can eat.

I looked around for children’s books dealing with food allergies, but honestly, I didn’t see any that were meant for his age. Also, the ones I saw, while they may have had a great message, they were really old.

So, I decided to make one. I’ve been working on it for a while. I should’ve completed it by now, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t made the progress that I wanted to make.

I plan for this blog post to be the beginning of a series where not only do I share my book’s progress, but also my struggles. Frankly, I think one of my biggest fears is completing a project (like this book) and then have nothing happen, like no one buying it, no one reviewing it, no one loving it. And although I am making this book for Oliver, I also want other children and other parents out there who struggle with food allergies to embrace it, to find solace in it.

So, here we go. Stay tuned!

Being Honest with Yourself

Being Honest with Yourself

I love writing, but one of my biggest issues is fear. There, I said it. I lack the discipline to turn off Netflix and all the many other distractions and start writing because of fear. What do I fear exactly? I fear failure. I have this dream of becoming a best-selling author and as long as I keep putting it off as a dream (and not really work hard for it) then I can’t fail.

But as I write these words, I realize that not trying is the real failure. I should be afraid of that. I should be afraid of looking back and regretting not trying.

I have this unshakable belief that my books will be read by thousands if not millions of others. I just need to do the actual writing.

I need to kick the fear of failure in the butt.

What are you afraid of?

Ode to Things by Pablo Neruda

Ode to Things by Pablo Neruda

Neruda is my favorite poet. If you know Spanish, I suggest that you read this poem in its original language. But even if you don’t know it, it’s still a beautiful ode.

I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
cups,
rings,
and bowls –
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
also
the
infinite-
ly
small –
thimbles,
spurs,
plates,
and flower vases.
Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of pipes
weaving
hand-held
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers –
everything,
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
eyeglasses
carpenter’s nails,
brushes,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.
Mankind has
built
oh so many
perfect
things!
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
remarkable
tables,
ships, and stairways.
I love
all
things,
not because they are
passionate
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don’t know,
because
this ocean is yours,
and mine;
these buttons
and wheels
and little
forgotten
treasures,
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms
glasses, knives and
scissors –
all bear
the trace
of someone’s fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
lost
in the depths of forgetfulness.
I pause in houses,
streets and
elevators
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet;
this one because it rings,
that one because
it’s as soft
as the softness of a woman’s hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.
O irrevocable
river
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
only
fish,
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
only
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It’s not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.

The Mysterious Manuscript – Excerpt

The Mysterious Manuscript – Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6, from my novel The Mysterious Manuscript. Enjoy!

———

“The desk was cluttered with papers and there was an overflowing bookshelf to the right. The room had two small windows, but they brought in enough light that electricity wasn’t needed in the mornings. There was a computer sitting on the desk and a shelf behind it, which was filled with ancient relics and artifacts. Not much different than his home office, Jim thought. Since no one had touched anything, it seemed that Frank had just stepped out for lunch, but Jim knew this was not true. His father had been missing for a long time now.

On one wall, hung a reproduction of the painting The Marriage Feast at Cana, by Hyeronimus Bosch, which commemorates the miracle of Jesus turning water in to wine. Hanging on the opposite wall, there was a replica of the most famous triptych by Hieronymous Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting is so bizarre that there is no universally accepted interpretation. Religious and alchemical symbols are fused together with images of torture and torment.

“That painting always gave me the creeps,” Alexandra said.

Jim nodded, understanding her reaction, but like his father, he happened to like it.

“Jim,” John called. “Here’s what I really wanted to show you.”

He then handed Jim a familiar object. It was a canister, similar to the one where his note had been. This one also had a combination wheel of six letters.

“Now, I’m going to be honest with you,” John said. “Ever since I discovered this contraption I have tried to open it. I’ve tried all the logical terms and words that occurred to me, but nothing. But then again, there are millions of six letter word combinations, especially for a man like your father who spoke five languages.”

“Did you give it the old college try and tried to break it open?” Jim asked.

John laughed. “Oh believe me, I have thought about it. But on closer inspection I discovered that this mechanism is wired in such a way that if it experiences any sort of trauma, a corrosive agent will destroy its contents. Could be vinegar, or acid”

“Very clever,” Alexandra said. Then she turned to Jim. “Do you think you can open it?”

Jim studied the device. He held it up to the light and noticed the small vial with the corrosive liquid. His eyes then scanned the combination wheel. Six letters. He thought about the note. Could it be? There was only one way to find out. He carefully lined up the letters that in a way got him started on this journey. These letters formed the word that most closely described him.

S-E-E-K-E-R

All four of them stood silently for a very long second. There was a click. It had worked. The container was open. Another message from Frank Davis, another message that was apparently only intended for his son to receive.

“Well, what does it say?” John asked.

“I’m not really sure,” Jim responded. He then showed them the message.

3433442315311143442134312434

4323243315113124222344113314

4423151133435215424352243131

12154215511511311514

Out of all the things the note could have said, they were not expecting to find an assortment of seemingly random numbers. But if there ever was a group capable of deciphering this message, they were right in this room. Quickly, Jim and Alexandra grabbed pen and paper from the desk, while Boris took out a smartphone form his pocket to do his calculations.

Whatever this message said, it was important enough for Frank Davis to hide it inside of a canister and then encipher it. One thing was for sure though, no one was leaving the office until the message was decoded.”

———–

You can get the book on Amazon! If you own a Nook, Kobo or another reader, then please comment and let me know.

3 Marketing Lessons for Indie Authors

3 Marketing Lessons for Indie Authors

I’m still learning a lot, so I what I’m going to share is just the beginning of what I hope will be a series of blog posts. I recently released my adventure novel, The Mysterious Manuscript. While I’ve definitely sold some books, it is not doing nearly as well as I hope it would.

But why is that? Well, there are several things that I didn’t do before launching my book.

1-Build an Email List

This is probably the most important thing for an author. Platforms like Amazon and Kobo one day may fail, but if you have a list of fans who subscribed to your emails, then no one can take that from you.

2-Use that List to Establish a Relationship (and then sell)

You don’t want to start selling right away. No one likes those annoying people who send a bunch of emails asking for people to buy their product. Don’t be that guy. Offer your subscribers valuable content, like free items and contests, as well as telling them about bargain books by other writers. When appropriate, sell, don’t be afraid to do so.

3-Ask For Reviews

One of the most important things before you launch your book is to have at least 25-30 reviewers lined up. Go through your email list and ASK people if they would like a copy of your book in exchange for their honest review. If they say yes, then they will be more likely to follow through. If you want 25 reviews, email at list 75 people. This is something that I failed to do. My book has no reviews currently, but I’m hoping to change that.

I will go into detail in future posts about these three items, as well as other valuable marketing tips for indie authors.

Current state

Current state

As I write this, I’m 31 years old. I’ve always thought that by my 30th birthday I would be a best-selling author. When 30 came and went, I realized that nothing was further from the truth. I’m hoping this would be the year, but unless I become Stephen King and write 3,000 words a day, I don’t see how that’s going to happen.

What’s stopping me from writing 3,000 words a day? I would say that right now school is in the way. School is awesome, but I’ve been taking a full load of classes for the past two years, as well as working full-time. When you add to that a growing family, you can see why my time is limited.

When I do have free time at night, after the kids are asleep, it’s a lot easier to watch TV or just surf the net. I’m exhausted by the time I get home, both mentally and physically. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m making a bunch of excuses and maybe I am. I don’t know.

I am excited to soon finish a novel I’ve been working on. I should have known better than to write a novel as a class assignment, but here we are. I need to finish the novel this week. I’m not feeling very confident about it, and honestly, I will probably need to revise it after I publish it (Amazon is nice like that), but I know I’ll feel a lot better once that novel is out there. I think sometimes writing a novel can be the equivalent of a very long birthing process, where one can’t wait to get the baby out!

Once that one is finished, I have another one in progress, and then after that, I plan on expanding the world of Dead Space.

So yeah, despite by non-success as a best-selling author, I still haves hopes to become one soon. And by all the ideas that keep coming to me, I know that I’ll never stop writing.