Thursday, August 4, 2011

When Writer's Block Wants to Come Out and Play

"Care for a quick game of tennis?"

    The infamous block. It has ruined the careers and lives of many men! OK, I'm being dramatic, but I'm a writer what do you expect? The truth is, writer's block will ask every writer to come out and play. What is with it anyway? Does it think that I want to do a little dance with it and have lunch?
  Writer's block is almost always about fear. Afraid that we don't have anything good enough or afraid that our idea will be rejected. Or maybe you have the fear of being great and so you are afraid to write the story that will make others start to take notice. Whatever the reason is, it's not something that we look forward to.
   So is there a cure for this infamous block? Well, no, not really. But I think if we can pinpoint what we are afraid of we are on a path to unblocking whatever is blocking us. Writing is about expressing something that you have inside of you. When you are writing, it's not about the reviews, or the critics, or the sales numbers--it's about the story that you were born to tell. A story that only you could tell. Because, one day when you are long gone your writing will still be around. And if your not writing from this place then I would question whether you should be writing whatever it is your writing at all.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Immortal Treats

Enough said. I told you guys I like to doodle.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What Book Are You?

Click to see larger image.

In celebration of Nalia and the Potion Maker coming out in paperback, I have created this little comic. Feel free to share.

What book are you? Comment below :o)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Understanding Negative Reviews and Target Audiences

Negative reviews: this is something that ever author will have to deal with. There are many writers who are afraid to put their stuff out their simply because they are afraid of negative reviews (I was like this.) But I believe if authors can understand target audiences then this will help soothe the blow of negative reviews. It has always baffled me how books that I absolutely loved got negative reviews. The reviewers seemed to hate everything that I love about the book. How could this be?
I will present you with the following scenario. 

New author Jane Smith has just written her first Romantic-Comedy book with a paranormal twist. She has chosen first person narrative because she really wants to convey the thoughts and emotions of the main character. The book is about 350 pages long. Jane likes to use fast descriptions and loves developing her characters more than the scenery. There is some action in the book, but it is mainly towards the end for climatic effects. The romance between the main two characters is electric and their mishaps and love for each other carry most of the book. Jane wants her readers to be entertained, she isn't trying to give them a philosophical explanation on the origins of life or question morality. She wants her readers to be able to escape from their everyday busy lives and she hopes that her books will do that. So Jane puts her book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Within 6 months her book is flying off the e-shelves! But as her book becomes more popular the most atrocious, most unspeakable thing happens: she gets the dread 1 star review. How can this be? So many people loved it. Every one said how well written it was. Then here comes  the 1 star reviewer that has labeled her as a poor writer and vows to never read her books again. Of course Jane is devastated. This is her first book and she hasn't grown the author's thick skin just yet. Jane has failed to understand target audiences and the vast nuances of readers in the literary world. But in time she will.
    I have put up 2 diagram charts to better illustrate this. I have described 8 aspects of a novel that readers look for and their preferences. You may find yourself in one, both, or none of these preference. Personally I see myself in both of these.

This diagram IS NOT saying:
-that all people who love paranormal/romance/comedy books will have the same preferences listed in the categories below. This merely describes ONE person in the author's target audience. There are many types of readers who take into account many factors when rating a book.
-that these preferences are glued to only one genre. For example just because you like sci-fi that doesn't mean you love only 500+ page books. Once again it describes ONE reader.

This diagram IS saying:
-that readers are unique and that people look for different things in a book.
-you can't please everyone. What one person loves about a book is what another person hates.

Now that we have taken into account that readers can be so different, negative reviews make a lot more sense.

Now with that being said, there is no target audience for poor grammar and typos. If your book is overridden with these then it doesn't matter how good of a story you have. I'm not saying my books are perfect in this area, but I am going to try and get them as close to this as possible. I am also not suggesting that we throw every negative review out the window. We can learn a lot from constructive criticism. And a lot of times bad reviews help us see how we can improve our story and how we can become better writers. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing Heroes

     I have been on Goodreads quite a lot lately, and something I like to do is read reviews of well known books. Some that I've read and others that I want to. I always go to the negative reviews because I am fascinated to find out what people didn't like about books that I think are amazing(this has a lot to do with target audiences which I will talk about in an upcoming post). 
     I was reading a review of J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, something the reviewer said regarding heroes really stuck with me. He was basically saying that writer's notions of a hero, particularly in the fantasy genre, have changed dramatically since The Lord of the Rings was written. Frodo is considered the hero, but what is striking is that the things that classify him as a hero are his internal qualities, i.e. his bravery, courage, and selflessness. This is a stark contrast from what many writers use to define their heroes now, i.e. powerful abilities, strength and intelligence. Frodo was an average hobbit and it wasn't his abilities that made him heroic but rather what he was able to do with the courage inside him and his willingness to stand up for something, even if it was bigger than him (no pun intended). However the similarities between Frodo and many other hero stories is that he is the one who is chosen to save the day. 
     As with Harry Potter, Harry is clearly the hero, but what I like about Harry is that he has flaws. Yes he is powerful, but he couldn't have done anything without the help of his friends and of course Dumbledore. 
    This made me think of what sort of character I want to build in my own novels. I'm not sure if I would classify Nalia as the hero. She has countless flaws (her dangerous inquisitive nature, her disregard for rules, her impulsiveness and inability to control her emotions). But then I remind myself that she is a teenager and of course she has these flaws.  I had many of these when I was an adolescent. But I don't write Nalia as the one who is required to save it all. She will need those around her just as they will need her. It is definitely her story, but it is about how she will overcome the challenges in her life and how she will use her gifts in the process. And this to me is the theme that I hope to carry. We all have shooting arrows in our lives but we also have a natural ability inside us (whatever it may be) that helps us to some how overcome them. And of course we would be silly to think we can do it all on our own and without the help of those who love us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Favorite Quotes from NPM

I have added some of my favorite quotes from the first book. Enjoy!

"From Nalia and the Potion Maker 

"It is great for sure and terrible to hold. 
A dreadful fiery substance, truth be told. 
It has brought down kingdoms; it has brought down men. 
It has the same power over twenty or ten. 
Though it starts out small when most easy to quench, 
As it grows in form, it is a most foul stench. 
Though many men have tried foolishly to guise, 
It is those who can tame it who are truly wise." 

“One by one, Agithara poisoned the gravelims with the fruit of the cursed trees, after she had wiped their memories away. And when they were empty of their past joy and kindness, the fruits filled them with every kind of festering evil and treachery.” 

"You cannot understand what she did, what it took. No," Poto was trembling as he said this. His eyes were filled with tears, but he was fighting back the urge to let them loose. "Only one who lost all that is good inside him could truly understand how she became what she is today." 

"You feel it, don't you? All those silly emotions will soon drift away. Once the pain of love is gone, you will start to see things as clearly as I do." She stroked Nalia's face, sending a deep chill down her spine. 

"Are we not wise enough to handle such a powerful gift? We will be careful, then, to use it only when the situation is dire. It could prove most necessary in times of war or danger," Avrem exclaimed. 

He had to let it all go. He let go of the fear that he would never see his family again, that he would never see Nalia again. He let go of the fear that he would never know what it would feel like to be an old man or have a family. He let go of the fear that this was the end. 

"The desperation in his eyes ignited a fire inside her, and in that moment, she realized that she needed him more than she needed anything else. For the first time in a month, she thought that maybe she could go on, with him by her side. And for the first time in her life, she desired something more than she had desired getting her gift." 

"I want to hear you say it. Memories can only show me the action, but they can't show motive." 

"Nalia knew how losing someone could change you and how it could make every fiber of your being hurt so much that you never wanted to go back to that feeling. Nalia had pushed those feelings down for so long so that she wouldn't feel anything. Only now, did she realize what such an act could cost her." 

"But don't you see? You are just like me: the same restless anger, the same need for acceptance and love, the same shattered heart. You will end up the same, no matter what happens. The darkness finds us all eventually, once we stop stumbling foolishly in the light," Agithara said callously. 

"A dream invader. At worst, they can kill you in your sleep, and at best, they haunt you. It's said to be one of the most brutal ways to kill someone. You are being murdered without even knowing it, so you can't fight back," Lyris said." 

Nalia and the Potion Maker Revamping

Well after reading through the book and going over some of the reviews, I feel that I could make Nalia's first story slightly better. I'm not going to change plots, scenes or characters. But as I read through there are a lot of things that I left in my head and failed to put on the page. With that said, Nalia and the Potion Maker will be getting a slight make-over. Don't worry nothing too dramatic though.

I will update everyone when the changes go up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review for Nalia and the Potion Maker

Thanks so much to Nathiel for reviewing Nalia and the Potion Maker. You can read the review here.
Nathiel is a blogger from Spain! I am so excited to have readers in countries all over. I am grateful to everyone one of them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Check out the Preview for Book 2 Nalia and the Rise of the Marés!

Book 2 Preview is now up!

Is My Book For You?

If you find yourself wondering if Nalia is the sort of book for you then this post will help you. If after reading this you feel this may be you then Nalia may be the book you have been waiting for.

     My books are for people who enjoy wild imagination and fantasy. This isn't to say that if you don't like fantasy you won't like this book as there are a lot of themes that ring true for whatever genre. There isn't just one category for themes of love, bravery, death, betrayal and self discovery. It is something that is true for all people and is part of the human existence.  
     Although you may wish for more aspects of love in your life than betrayal or may have experienced one more than the other, the truth is you understand them both and you can relate to them both. You like to be taken to a world that is both beautiful and dangerous. You are lovers of romance and you love the idea of a love that can freeze time. A love that will fight to the death and protect above all else. You don’t mind a character with flaws as long as you get to see them grow and overcome them. This helps you believe that you can overcome your fears and flaws as well. You love the classic tale of good triumphing over evil. You want to believe that you can triumph over the evils in you own life (whatever they may be)—and trust me, you can. You want something to believe in, a cause to fight for—something that makes the world feel worth while or even for a moment seem like a better place. You want to believe that somewhere, deep down there is good in this world. 
Who knows, you may end up seeing yourself in these pages. I sure did.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Journey Into Nalia's World: My Guest Blog Post for

It was around late November, I was in my room staring at my computer as I usually do when I decided that I would write the story I was going to wait several years to write. It had only been a few months since I had moved back to Los Angeles after spending a year in London in grad school and a year in Turkey teaching English. Even though I was back in my home town, it felt strange.
    When you move you have this notion that the place you call home will somehow stand still. That time will wait just for you. It won’t leave or abandon you the way you have done it. But as many people who move abroad and then return home discover everything feels different. Suddenly, you are in culture shock over a culture you once called your own.
    The bad state of the economy, the desperation of failed job searches and the reality that I was different from everything around me quickly brought upon what I call the “dark days”. It would be the breeding ground for the world that I would create for Nalia. It is a place where you could be and do anything all with your imagination. The development of Nalia’s world was a chance to enter a place very far from the one that I was in. It was my escape. My faded light at the end of a very long tunnel.
    It’s not like it was my first attempt at a novel or even a screenplay. As with most writers, I had my many failed attempts. Mostly because the stories I was writing weren’t really my own. They weren’t coming from a place that I was afraid to show anyone else. All my fears, desires and hopes I gave to Nalia. Although the first few chapters of the book are highly autobiographical (my father’s passing, my distant mother, my many hospital visits and the incessant bullying), Nalia is still her own person, and maybe a person that only those closest to me truly understand.
    I needed to give her the footstool of my own experiences before I could let her grow into her own. Even so, I must admit that she as a character will not truly develop until the second book. Perhaps this is because the beginning was an exploration. A way for me to discover where I could take the story and what I was burring deep inside. Whatever it was, it was waiting, clawing, scratching, and fighting to get out.
    There was a strange freedom once the book was done. It is something that I can’t quite describe and any words I give would all seem to do it no justice. I can say, for the first time in a while, the days aren’t so dark and the tunnels don’t seem so long.
    There is something I like to do in my writing which I call my subtle hints and foreshadowing. There is a part in chapter 2 where it says  “[Nalia] was going to have to stumble a bit in the dark to make it to the light...” There is a literal meaning to this as she was trying to get to the light switch in the back of a dark attic but it is also apropos to the journey that Nalia will take as she gets older.
    In all this I have learned that writing requires all you have. If you hold back your readers will know. Putting yourself out there for the whole world to critique and judge is no easy task, but it must be what every aspiring great writer is willing to do. My motto for myself as the pesky nuisance of writer’s block attempts to slither in: the story is there, if you have the courage to write it.

Interview with Annabell Cadiz at Open Book Society

Open Book Society recently did a review for Nalia and the Potion Maker, which you can read here.

Here are my response to the interview questions.

Interview Questions:

1. Why did you choose to venture into the fantasy genre? What attracted you to the genre?
I chose to do fantasy because I believe there is a lot of room to explore with the characters, plot and setting. You are less restricted when you are writing fantasy because you have the freedom to create your own world. In a sense you can come up with a lot of the rules and I love that.

2. Did you have to do a lot of research before writing Nalia and the Potion Maker?
I did my fair amount of research. An English-Latin dictionary was my constant companion. I used other fantasy novels as references for formatting and grammatical rules. 

3. The various potions was one of my favorite aspects to the novel, what inspired you to create that concept of Poto’s character? What type of potion would you make if you had his power?
 Well Poto comes from the Latin word "to drink" so his name was very important to me. I wanted him to be kind and loveable but also incredibly smart and brave- so his character had some big shoes to fill. If I could try any potion it would have to be Witful Wonder. I wouldn't mind having the solution to my problems quicker than usual.  

4. Nalia’s ability to create anything from her imagination was a terrific gift. If you had her powers, what would be five of the top things you would create?
A collection of my "to read" books.
Art supplies.
An ipad (lol).
A car that doesn't make noise when it runs.
My dream home.

5. What can readers expect in the sequel to Nalia and the Potion Maker?
  The second book is called Rise of the Marés--so Nalia will find herself battling the deadly dream invaders. It's definitely a faster pace. A lot more abilities will be introduced in the second book. More twists and more turns. A possible love triangle! I go a lot deeper in the world of Aetheria and explain how things work. The first book I feel was a bit of a taster of Aetheria and hopefully by the second book readers will be ready for more. 

6. What made you decide to become a writer? Are there any authors who inspire you?
I've been writing since I was a child. I have always used it as a way to express whatever I was going through. I also have an overly active imagination! I started the book as a way to deal with the hard time I was going through. I am definitely inspired by J.K. Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien and Dr. Seuss.  

7. The cover is beautiful and mysterious. How did you come up with the idea behind it? Who is the designer?
I designed the cover myself. I really wanted it to be simplistic, and the book centers a lot around potions so I only thought it was fitting for a potion bottle to be on the cover. 

8. You had moved to Turkey to teach English. What made you decide to move so far away and what was the experience like?
Well I had friends who were living there after college and kept encouraging me to go. I really wanted to experience something new and completely different from Los Angeles. Turkey is a beautiful country filled with warm people and I loved working with the children there.  

9. You have lived in London, Turkey, and now live in L.A. Where have you enjoyed living the most and where would be your ideal place to live?
I would have to say England as a child and Turkey as and adult. 

10. Outside of writing, what are some other things you enjoy doing?
I love to paint, watch movies, go to museums and travel. 

11. What is your writing routine like? Do you like to listen to music while you write? If yes, what kind? Do you have any favorite snacks?
I tend to not have music in the background as it will easily distract me. I usually have to be alone to write because that's the best way for me to focus. I discovered Angry Birds. I thought it would be the end of my novel, but it would help me focus, strange I know. I'm not a huge snack person, but I drank a lot of Twinings lemon and ginger tea.

12. Any new projects you are working on now?
Well I am currently working on Nalia and the Rise of the Marés and sketching out book three Nalia and the Time Keeper's Clock.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Preview of NPM In Paperback

The proof/preview copy of Nalia and the Potion Maker in paperback. I'm not happy with how the green smoke came out as you can barely see it. I went back into photoshop to fix some things. Hopefully it will come out better the next time around.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nalia and the Potion Maker Book Trailer!!!

After much toil and sweat (not really), I have produced the trailer for Nalia and the Potion Maker!
Enjoy :o)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Random Thoughts

You know that feeling when you think your life should have turned out differently or that you don't seem to fit in your current situation? Well I feel like that all the time. I wonder when I will stop feeling like that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wattpad and I are fast friends.

I recently joined Wattpad where I uploaded the first half of the book. It has been less than 48 hours and well...whoa.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Book 1 is currently in book review. I still feel that it needs to be checked over for spelling and grammatical errors. My goal is to have none, but even with all the people looking through it there still could be things that are missed. I have started book 2. I find myself apprehensive about writing it as I worry about how the first one will be received. But I can't write with that in the back of my mind. I have to write because it's what I love to do and it makes me happy. The rest is just a bonus.

Nalia Book Cover

Click to see full size.

Writers Who Write About Death

   I have noticed a trend in a lot of children's books out there (Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson to name the most popular). A lot of fantasy books feature the main character that has a parent  that has deceased or gone missing. Some just have characters where their parent is absentee.
As I was driving down the freeway I thought about this some more. I wondered why many authors have this in their story. Is it for dramatic effect? Is it to gain our trust and devotion to the character? Perhaps it comes from their own personal experiences.
    I wonder how many of these authors have actually stood in the face of death. I'm not sure how well you can write about death unless you've really felt the sting of it youself. I wonder how many of these authors have ever had to hold a dying loved one in their arms.
    When I started writing about Nalia it wasn't to write a series of novels. I didn't have anyone to impress or win over. I wrote because I had to get out what I kept hidden inside. I wrote because it was killing me not to.
    I was only 10 when my mother, my brother and I found my father's body in our apartment floor. He died alone of a heart attack. I remember the feeling of holding his body and touching his face praying for warmth because to me warmth meant the chance that he was still alive.
    I think it's good that there are several children's and young adult books that feature this aspect of loss because there are so many children who like me needed to feel that they weren't alone in what they were going through.
   Perhaps that's the only reason I began writing at a young age. I was just fighting for ways to get it all out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Comic: How Angry Birds Saved My Book

While I was writing my book I was introduced to the game Angry Birds. At first I thought it would be the end of my novel. Then I discovered something. Each time I played I came up with story lines and plot developments for the characters.
So I kept playing.
And I kept writing.
It sounds crazy I know, but what can I say? The game helps me focus.
Here is a comic that illustrates how the events occurred.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Realist or Dreamist?

The everyday struggle of a writer.

Everyone at some point must make the decision whether they are going to live in their real lives or their dream lives. In my dream life, I am writing in a cafe next to the Eiffel Tower. In my real life, I am stuck in traffic watching the birds fly by. In my dream life, I live in a big house on the hills with my happy family. In my real life, I am writing in my room, by myself mostly. In my dream life, I am eating Steak Diane, shrimp and mashed potatoes. In my real life, I am eating peanut butter toast.

I would venture to say that most writers live in their dream worlds. And most people live in other people's dream worlds. For example, every time you read a book, watch a movie or a T.V. show, you are diving into a world that someone else has created.

I would label myself what I call a dreamist, someone who chooses to believe that their dream world can become their real world. Some may call this idealism but I think dreamists world's are highly fantasized and far more romanticized. I am also a realist however and so there is a war going on inside my head as to which world wins.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chapter 1: Background

The shattered mirror in Nalia's room.


This chapter is somewhat based on my own experiences. I remember being Nalia's age and trying to understand my father's sudden absence. He was a business man and traveled frequently before I was born. Then he got sick. Most of his absences were due to his illness and having to be away in the hospital. I wish someone would have told me what in the world was happening. Instead I had to wonder in secret.

 I guess that's when all the writing started. My mother said I was always writing stories. It was my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Jefferey who told me I may have a knack for it. She changed my world. I know this because she is, out of the many teacher's I've had, the one whose name I can remember.

People ask me where I come up with all the ideas for my book. When you have been living inside your head for as long as I have, it's not that far fetched. I was definitely one of those weird kids who got teased (A LOT) and found it difficult to make friends.  Hence I just made up my own friends and my own stories. I am twenty-six now and not much has really changed.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Writer's Drink

Me gulping down tea. I like to keep it classy.

I moved back to Los Angeles from London (moved there for grad school) last year, and whilst I was there all I drank was Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea. At first I would only drink it when I was sick (I was still highly opposed to tea at this point). Then I found myself drinking it even when I wasn't sick.

I have come to the conclusion that every writer needs a good 'writer's drink'.
This is my weapon of choice.
Try it, it will change your life.

You Know You're A Writer When...

Click on book images to read the text. It's good.

I must have it. 
I was in a book store several weeks ago at Venice Beach and came across this book. It was like a great big giant light bulb went off. I was about to get it, but the $9.95 price tag was a bit too high at the time.
I shall cradle you in my arms one day.
On a curious note, are there really 10 ways to say the color blue?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nalia's World

Nalia has been swimming in my head for many years. I just had to stop being so scared about failing and just write. I write because it keeps away the tears. I write because it makes me feel that all is right with the world. Perhaps this is all I can really ask for.
I would love to be able to support myself, but maybe this is asking too much.

When I look around I see aspects of Nalia's world all around me. I see the characters, the themes and the inspirations.

I will try to stick to themes and characters surrounding the book, but I won't promise anything. I may peer my head in scratching and fighting to get in, but that's just how I am.


Unemployment can do lot's of things. It can make you take jobs you wouldn't normally, it can make you utterly depressed or it can make you do things you never thought you could do (things you weren't brave enough to do because you had the comfort of a job). My situation is a combination of the last two.

    Well technically I'm not unemployed, I have a part-time job working at a high school. This does not pay nearly enough for all the bills that come along with living in Los Angeles. I have a grad degree in teaching. That was the plan, to become a teacher. I was going to have my own classroom and set up educational learning posters and tell all the children to sit quietly in their seats.
Yea that didn't happen.
Apparently we like to spend more money on war than we do on education, hence there are no jobs for new teachers (and older ones).

     So I got a job working for an after school program, running the computer lab and detention. I was scared at first, working in a high school, I was used to working with preschoolers and 1st graders. They won me over though and I love the kids I work with, I just wish I could do it full time.

      So all this free time allowed me to do what I was going to do later in my career: write.

 I always knew I wanted to write children's books so this just happened sooner rather than later.

This blog will venture into the crazy world that I created in my first novel Nalia and the Potion Maker.