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!

I’m Feeling 32

I’m Feeling 32

Sorry about they T-Swift reference. I couldn’t help myself.

Two days ago I turned 32 years old. Having my birthday at the end of a year allows for a long introspection. This year has been challenging in many ways, but it has also been very rewarding.

I’m beyond thankful to God for my wife and my two children. They give me the strength and the drive to become a better man every day.  A large part of why I want to become a successful bestselling author is to be able to better provide for them.

I’m also really excited to start a brand new job next week. I’m a bit nervous, naturally, but I’m really looking forward to it.

I began working on my children’s book with a brand new Wacom tablet, thanks to a VERY generous and kind investor.  I also began writing the sequel to The Mysterious Manuscript and I’m really excited about it. Also, I worked on another book, which I haven’t really publicly talked about, but I’m very excited to share in the future.

On the other hand, every year that passes without me achieving my dreams of becoming a bestselling author does bring me down a bit. In all honesty, I have only myself to blame. I haven’t put the time and effort necessary to work on my writing as much as I should have, but I plan on remedying that in 2016.

I know that I can’t control how my book sales will do, but I can control my work ethic and dedication and it certainly needs to improve.

All in all, 2015 was a good year, but 2016 and being 32 is looking a lot better.

Happy New Year everyone!

The Children of Jules Verne

The Children of Jules Verne

If you haven’t clicked on my “books” tab, then I must let you know that I love adventure novels. As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, although I didn’t know the word for it yet. So, when someone asked me what I wanted to be, I would say a “scientist.”

Of course, that was a lofty idea since I was born in Cuba and leaving the country was hard enough, let alone the planet.

But looking up at the stars every night instilled in me a sense of wonder. Even today, when I do something as mundane as taking out the trash in the evening, I look up and take a quick second to let the beauty of a starry night envelop me.

Thanks to my mother, I’ve always loved to read and as I got older, she started to buy me adventure novels.

I had a lot of friends growing up, but I would say that my true best friends were my books. I remember reading “From the Earth to the Moon,” and reliving my boyish wonder about space travel. I remember reading “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and wanting to travel and explore, even if it was only through my imagination.

And that’s what I began to do. I began to write stories, plays, poems and draw comics, most of it dealing with adventure.

I love to travel, despite the fact that I haven’t done much of it because I’ve never had the money to do it. But one day (while I’m still young), I hope to travel to Paris, Rome, Florence and so many other beautiful cities that are filled with history. I want to absorb the history of those places and let it fill my soul.

From The Mysterious Manuscript, to the sequel I hope to finish soon, to even the children’s book I’m working on, there’s always a theme of adventure in my work.

A lot of it has to do with reading Jules Verne early on. While I may have physically been in Cuba, my mind traveled to far and exotic places thanks to his prose. Every book is an adventure, especially when that book has an adventure theme to it.

My Mysterious Manuscript is not perfect. I didn’t have money to hire an editor, but the story is there, the heart and the passion are there. (For its sequel, I do plan to hire someone professional to take a look at it) And although it’s not perfect when it comes to things like punctuation and whatnot, I do hope that my passion for telling a good story is there. I hope that my sense of awe and wonder translate to the page.

As Ray Bradbury once said, “We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne.”

I know I am.

Being Different

Being Different

A couple of days ago I was at the checkout counter at my local grocery store when the young cashier looked at me and asked, “What did you do to your face?!” It wasn’t really a question. It was more of a demand in the tone of, “How dare you do that?!”

This caught me off-guard, so I asked her to repeat the question.

She pointed to her eyebrow with the same look of disgust. “There, what did you do to your face?”

I smiled, but I sensed my face go red. “I was in a car accident over 15 years ago.”

She said, “Oh.” And then I saw her face go red and avoided eye-contact and any further conversation for the rest of our forced awkward interaction.

Was she wrong in asking me this? I don’t know if it was wrong, but it was certainly inappropriate and her tone was in bad taste. It reminded of being in high school, fresh after my car accident, when I had to wear a patch covering my left eyebrow and part of my forehead. Strangers would stop and ask me with the same expression and look of morbid curiosity in their eyes.

I sometimes wonder if people look at me and form an idea about me, about the kind of man that I am because of my scar. Before going to job interviews, I always think about this. Would they think I was part of some gang where their members shave their left eyebrows? Would they think that I was in a bar fight or something like that?

Thanks to this blunt cashier, at least I know that people do wonder.

Sometimes I tell people about it without them asking just to get it out of the way. I just want to get the elephant out of the room as quickly as possible.

Next October, it’ll be 16 years of having this scar. That means that I will have lived the same number of years with and without the scar. Sometimes when I look in the mirror that’s all that I notice. Sometimes I try to ignore it. But as my wife likes to point out, it’s a symbol that God saved my life that day. And for that, I am thankful.

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?

The Collector

The Collector

This is a series I’m starting about growing up in Cuba.

Now that I have kids, I understand how heartbreaking it can be to not be able to give them something they really want. Does my daughter really need another stuffed animal? No, she has over 20 stuffed animals she sleeps with in her bed, but sometimes it breaks my heart to say no.

Maybe it has something to do with where I came from. By any standards, me and my wife are poor. I make just enough to pay rent, while my wife’s photography business fluctuates between really awesome, to really poor months. That’s the nature of the business. (By the way, if anyone is hiring a graphic designer, video editor, copy editor, or public relations person, let me know. Just some of the many creative hats I can wear.)

There are some tough months, lots of them. Months where we just make it by God’s grace. And not for lack of trying. Now that I have my degree, I have applied to at least 30 jobs in the past three weeks. I’ve gotten about three or four rejections, but no interview calls from the rest.

And yet, despite our current situation, I’ve come from worse. From much worse.

The Collector

I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but if I had to guess, I was around eight years old when I began collecting discarded candy wrappers.

I wasn’t the only one. This was a thing, a huge thing in my school and probably with most kids in Havana. Instead of baseball cards (never even saw one of those in Cuba), we collected and traded candy wrappers we found on the street.

That’s the real cruelty in all of this. We didn’t even get to enjoy the candy. We couldn’t afford to buy Skittles or anything else, so like all other kids in my school, I would keep my eyes peel to the street for the wrappers.

I would pick them up and smell them because the ones with the freshest smell were the most “valuable” ones. You could trade a “fresh” one for another one with cool colors and whatnot. I realize now how unsanitary and insane that was, but that’s what we had. I had hundreds of candy wrappers and so did my friends. I would find the best ones in places where a lot of tourists would visit. So yes, littering tourists helped Cuban kids grow their peculiar collection.

I haven’t asked my mom, but I’m sure that it couldn’t have been easy to watch your kid collect another person’s trash (literally) and see that as a valuable thing. However, as a kid, it didn’t seem that weird. But if my kids were the ones doing that, not only would I be heartbroken, but I would be so angry at the government that has kept Cubans as second class citizens in their own country for almost 60 years.

Ignorant people say, “oh, let’s visit Cuba now before American capitalism destroys it.” Let me tell you something, the imported Russian communism hasn’t been any good to us.

I’m still apprehensive about all of these changes because it’s not a sure thing that democracy will follow all of this American influx of cash. The one thing that is for sure is that the same cowards that have ruled Cuba for 56 yeas will be getting a lot of money and that can’t be good.

If President Obama really wants to help and cares about Cubans (and not about his legacy), then only make these changes by demanding that the Castro’s hold free and open elections. Wasn’t he the president who ran on change after all?


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J.K. Rowling is working on a Harry Potter prequel! Well, sort of. It’s actually a play, not a new novel, but it does take place before the events of the first book.

“The Cursed Child would ‘delve into what happened to Harry’s parents before they were killed by Lord Voldemort, forcing an infant Harry to be raised in miserable circumstances by his mother’s sister, Petunia, her horrid husband Vernon and their spoiled son Dudley.'”

Read more here