Author, Chicklit, Indie Author, life lessons, Uncategorized, writing

Don’t Waste Your Gift!

This week, we’re preparing to release the third book in our drama/romance/mystery/paranormal series The Body Hunters. Our book release goes hand in hand with the giddy Christmas Day feeling you get with any great accomplishment. The road has been paved with challenges, both personal and book related for myself, Von and our editor, but this is the payoff.

Writing is what we love. Conjuring up drama and putting our characters through hell is what we were born to do. It took us a while to discover our gifts, but when we found it, it flourished. Sometimes the writing process can be the most frustrating thing in the word, but I wouldn’t trade my gift for anything.

If you have a gift or that special talent, use it. No more procrastinating, lying to yourself that you’ll get started eventually. If you’re a runner, go do that marathon you’ve always put of running. If you’re a chef, what’s stopping you from submitting that recipe? Writers, stop killing time going over the same material over and over again. Get that book published.

Don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your dream.

Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, Mental Health, Uncategorized, writing

Passive Agressiveness and The Art of Writing Drama

The term passive-aggressive is defined as the “unassertive” expression of negative sentiments, feelings of anger and resentfulness. So instead of verbally or physically expressing frustration or anger — or even simply saying “no” when asked to complete a task — someone described as passive-aggressive might simply act agreeable but then not follow through with completing the task.


I am a classic passive aggressive. My entry into this world was filled with drama having been born early and with the umbilical cord around my throat. I joke and say I was trying to leave before I even arrived. Ok,  not really funny but that kind of humor is what has gotten me by all these umpteen yrs. I was supposed to be dead and if it weren’t for 1 pediatrician that had refused to give up I would have been. My drama doesn’t end there. My mother for reasons speculated but ultimately unknown killed herself in a most dramatic fashion 1 month before my 1st birthday. my brothers witnessed all the drama and aftermath that shaped their lives forever. My father could only mentioned it when he was drunk. In all my baby pictures and there are not a lot of them, she is never pictured holding me.

Now before you get out a tissue and give me a bunch of ‘awws’ please don’t. My aim in telling you all this was not for pity. I’m over it in a lot of ways except the eternal questions that will haunt me forever and even that’s ok, it’s supposed too. No, I told you this so you know how my passive aggressiveness started and why it is I think it makes for my love of writing drama.

My co-author Joi recently decided to write the drama of a 4 way argument of our characters in book 4 of our series we are writing now. She told me by the end of the day she was utterly exhausted having the arguments in her head and having it with each character telling her what they wanted to say. If you’re a drama writer I dare say you’ll understand that statement.

Now I am the one who usually handles this and even though, yes it is exhausting , it is also where I live. It gives me the ability to take out the hidden aggression buried deep in my psyche and release it on an unsuspecting audience. I want to tap into anger? I only have to look no farther than into a ready stream of memories of my childhood.

Here’s the weird part. I love to write drama, I want you to feel the thrill of the roller coaster ride of emotions that ensues when you know something big is going to take place. I want you talking back to the characters, yelling at them how mad you are at their actions and words. I want you to believe they and all their problems and triumphs really exist, but I can’t watch it neither on television or in the movies. I watch Scandal on the edge of my seat eating Tums. I recently saw an ad for a new movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney where they are in deep shit in deep space. I have to change the channel till it’s over. The ad also has the nerve to say you can enjoy the movie in 3D. Are they serious? I would have a heart attack!

Now if anyone reading this is a psychoanalyst or just psycho, please feel free to comment on the weirdness of that. Just keep it clean. I would also like comments on your feelings on writing drama. What do you tap into? Where do you go to bring it out and bring it to life on paper? How do you feel after writing a scene that is argumentative drama and what do you do to get yourself back to a normal emotional state?

Looking forward to your comments and here’s wishing you good mental health.

Author, Chicklit, Indie Author, life lessons

Writer’s Kryptonite

Chances are if you’re a writer you’ve been afflicted by it. No matter how well you write, you’ve got a weakness, your writer’s kryptonite.

Some writers have issues with the ‘there’ family. You know, there, their, and the distant cousin they’re. Others have issues with the it sisters, it’s and its. I know what mine is, though I try to get work through my problem. You see my issue is then and than.

I can put the definition of each word in front of me and I still get it wrong 75% of the time. Sometimes my Word program will catch it, sometimes not so much. My poor little brain just can’t get wrapped around the difference. I’m only human so oh well and I never said I was perfect.

My coauthor Von pointed that very fact out to me yesterday. She had a lengthy conversation with our editor, Reggie who’s working through Book 3 in our series. When Reggie came across a particularly hot scene, it had my sticky fingerprints all over it because of my misuse of than and then. Von laughed at me and I happened to point out her kryptonite which is wave and waive. When you’re coauthors with somebody and you’re reading and editing the other person’s work, you have a tendency to pick out their weaknesses.

I’m not worried about it, I’ll overcome my kryptonite someday. I did the same thing with the bought and brought boys not too long ago.

Author, Chicklit, Indie Author, indie authors, life lessons, Uncategorized

It Ain’t Easy

If you talk to anyone who blazed a new trail or started their own business, they’ll tell you how hard they had to work to get it off the ground. They can tell you stories about the nights where they got little sleep or the ulcers they got while working to make their dream a reality.  Having your own business is certainly not for the lazy or the faint of heart. Doing your own thing is hard.

My writing buddy and I have been on this journey for over a year; starting working on our first novel June of 2012, since that time we’ve released two projects with a third being edited right now and the fourth currently being written with a script for Amazon Studios also in the works. Not too soon after we started our endeavor, we discovered that the writing is the easy part.

One can not simply put their book on Amazon and wish it to sell, you’ve gotta hustle. Along with our day jobs, we have to write, and find time in our schedules to tweet, network, and blog. There are never enough hours in the day and any time you spend with trivial things can be time better spent building our brand.

Like crumbs to a starving person, we get our little signs that we’re headed in the right direction. Maybe while out in about we’ll see the exact make, model, and color car one of our character drives or maybe we’ll one across someone with the same name living in the same location that our characters are from. Or happen to be driving behind someone with a vanity plate that says ‘Author’. We don’t see these as coincidences, but as mile markers on our journey.

The challenges one faces while working their dreams are there to weed out the weak from the strong. Nobody ever said pursuing your dream would be easy; ask the people who’ve been through it.  If you keep your eyes on the prize than it will be yours. One day this will all pay off, until then we’ll just keep blogging, networking, and tweeting.

Author, biracial, cats, Chicklit, Chihuahua's, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, dogs, felines, Fiction, Guide Dogs, Indie Author, Labrador Retrievers, Labradors, Multicultural, Turkish Angoras, Uncategorized

Dogs by any other name….

Does my Labrador Retriever know that he is? do my Chihuahua’s know that they are just that?  At what point do we go from being proud of our culture and ethnicity to ethnocentrism? That we devalue all others and exclude people and other ways of life.

The line is fine and easily crossed. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in melting pot areas of the country like I am, that can find Arabic bakeries and Asian markets along with Polish and Italian meat markets, Soul food restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Indian food and everything in between (My taste buds should never get bored) have an opportunity to enjoy many cultures without ever having to get on a plane. Now you would think that with all these ethnicities I live in a utopia where everyone gets along. Yeah, no! I have heard phrases like ‘marry your own culture’ and witnessed people who will not talk to you because even though they are living in the land of a really humongous statue that says ‘Bring me your huddled masses’, huddle only with their own. Birds of a feather…….

My Labrador is yellow and weighs 80 pounds. He is a retired Guide Dog for the Blind. He is smart, playful and loves to…you guessed it….retrieve. He still tries to Guide on occasion forgetting that he is retired and I am not blind. So I wonder what is his culture? Guiding was taught to him so that is not part of his culture, that was his job. Maybe  retrieving, killing and destroying toys is part of his true culture. (hover your mouse over the pictures)

brooks (2)

Brooks the ex-Guide dog toy destroyer

My Chihuahua’s were there first and Brooks had to adjust to their way of life, much like the Chi’s had to adjust to feline culture when they arrived. The Turkish Angora’s (Yes we are a multiracial feline/canine household) showed the then 1lb puppies the ropes and how things were done in their feline Arab American household. They grew up speaking cat and had an overwhelming love of them even though cat was not in their DNA.

Cat culture

Cat culture

Brooks never got a chance to learn the ancient and honorable feline culture from the elder statesmen of the feline tribe since all the cats have passed on, but the Chi’s have done their best to educate and depart the time-honored feline knowledge and culture of their feline Arab American brothers and sisters to him. Sleeping anywhere he pleases is one of his favorite adopted cat culture activities he’s learned.

Now Chihuahua’s it’s been rumored are not descendants of wolves but from Fennec foxes from Mexico. An interesting theory because that would mean over the many years Chihuahua’s have been human’s pocket companions we have been forcing a domestic canine culture and silly clothes on a native desert animal. Sound familiar in human history? Do my Chi’s tolerate domesticated wolf culture, sparkly shirts that say grrrl power or tuxedo t-shirts for the boy Chi, or do they pine for the desert life of their ancestral homeland? That would explain the burrowing in blankets and sunning themselves in 90 degree temps while their much larger canine companion enjoys air conditioning. Labs are after all from Newfoundland not as the name might imply Labrador, where colder temps are normal.

bindi cheech

Psst! We’re actually foxes!

fennec fox 2

Yo no soy un perro! (I am not a dog!)

My 4 legged household companions can teach us all a lesson in diversity and getting along. Enjoying and learning from each other’s differences and recognizing that we all share in one universal culture, human culture. We all want ultimately the same things, family, faith, love, a nice place to live and enough to eat, a bright future for our children and to be able to carry on our legacy through them, plus small dogs to dress up. Be proud of who you are and the heritage you came from, take the positive lessons of your ancestors and the good things of your culture and move them forward, share them with others and enjoy the diversity and history of another. Mix it up a little, I’m a firm believer in once you learn about it, you end up respecting it and your world is a richer place for it.

Then again maybe I’m being Pollyanna. (an excessively or blindly optimistic person.)

Part of Chihuahua culture is staring, giving off subliminal messages till you give up the coveted object. Something they learned from their feline Arab American upbringing.

Indie Author

The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing

This post was originally posted on our Blogger account back on May 11th. I thought I’d share it with our friends on Word Press. Enjoy and be inspired!

This was a very eventful week, the release of the second novel, The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied in our series. It’s been an exciting week and I feel like a little kid who got what the wanted for Christmas. One of our Superfans is nearly done with the novel and she is loving every bit of it. She’s started a chain reaction with our other fans who are just as excited to get their hands on the book and I can’t wait for their reactions as well. There is nothing better as an author when someone loves your work and is as enthusiastic about the characters as you are.

Though we anticipated a release of maybe January or February 2013 initially, due to a few challenges, it was released a bit later then expected.

After our editor sent us her final changes, my co-author, Von did her final read through before sending it on to me last Thursday. I started on Thursday after work, with my personal deadline of Monday at the latest. I had a pretty normal weekend, all the while going on with my final edit. I was two-thirds of the way through in the wee hours of Monday morning, when I had the brilliant idea to close my laptop and move to another room.  Big mistake.

When I got to the other room and started my laptop again, the screen was completely black. No problem, I told myself, I had this little issue before. Like I learned when I had this issue over a year ago, you just hold down the power button, pop out the battery, pop it back in, turn on your computer again and voila! Wait a minute. Let me try it again. Hold the button down, take out battery, put it back in, hit the button, and….

Okay, what the heck is going on here?

Needless to say, my laptop monitor was completely dead to the world. Nearing panic mode, I decided to put my computer repair class knowledge to the test. I open up the thing, take a look around, and still can’t get the monitor to work. Ready to throw the dang thing out the window, I put all 1,099 screws back where they belong and decided to just hook the computer up to my tv and use that as my monitor. But I must have rearranged something when I put it back together because now the power button isn’t even working.

I’m tempted to text Von and rant to her, but I remember that it’s not even 8 o’clock and she has to work today. Borrowing my mother’s laptop which has none of my work stored on it, I start looking for computer repair places in my neighborhood. I can’t do anything until the computer place opens so I decide to take a nap.

My rest is kind of broken because the computer is on my mind and that’s what’s plaguing my dreams. How am I gonna get the book out without my computer?

I wake up a few hours later and text Von since it’s now a decent hour. I tell her the devil is messing with us, since when you’re close to your breakthrough, he has a tendency to throw a few road blocks and spike strips in your path. For some reason, someone was conspiring against us getting this book published. I call my mother and tell her the same thing, she tells me not to give the devil any power and put him under my feet.

I get to the computer store and whine about the issue I’m having and what I’m trying to do today. The clerk sells me a little box that holds my laptop’s hard drive and allows me to continue my work while my computer is in the shop. Ecstatic, I spend the rest of the day finishing my edit.

I did have some other internet issues, but late that evening or early the next morning, whichever you prefer, I was able to finally submit our book to Amazon. Exhausted and giddy at the same time, I finally crawl into bed while the digital book and paperback novel are being published by Amazon.

Whenever I decided to get out of bed the next day, the first thing I do is check on our books progress as far as Amazon. The first thing I notice is the size of the file. Take a wild guess as to how many KB made up our file. Go ahead, take a guess. No, go on and guess. Nope, you got it wrong.

Our book was exactly 666 KB. No, I’m not lying. A story this crazy you cannot make up. I told Von and she had the same reaction I did. Somehow weirdness has a way of following us. Knowing there was no way in the world I was going to live with that number, I republished the novel, throwing in a few of our blog short stories for good measure. Now our story is at a robust and healthy 706 KB.

When somebody throws road blocks and road hazards in front of you, just push on through. You never know what’s on the other side.

audience, Author, Chicklit, Fiction, Indie Author

Why Do I Feel Like a Drug Dealer?

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle … via

My customer gives me a barely perceptible nod across the room, like she’s a pitcher at a baseball game. She’s got that glazed look in her eye and I know she wants the ‘product’. She’s practically starving for it. The side effects are the same for all my customers; the sleepless nights, mood swings, and euphoria are what they want.

She leaves her desk and I make my move. With the ‘product’ in hand I pick up a notebook sitting on her desk and leave the merchandise up under it. I’m not worried about payment. She’s a returning customer and I know she’s good for it.

Like I predicted, she meets up with me at lunch and palms the money into my hand with out a second glance. Unless you were looking for it, you never would know that a transaction just took place.

This is how it is with all my customers at work who are begging for the ‘product’. I’ve set up clandestine transactions in the ladies bathroom, the lunch room, and the trunk of my car. Whatever it takes to get my merchandise out on the street. I’m a born hustler.

If you think I’m talking drugs you’re dead wrong. I’m talking about selling my book in the workplace. At some point someone at my job came up with this rule where you couldn’t did they put that? Distribute or solicit, whatever. It’s a pain in the butt when you’re an indie author.

So, I have my superfans who even now are waiting on me to bring contraband into the work place. It’s not that I’m breaking the rules. The customers who have internet access go ahead and buy the book online. For those that don’t have internet access and still want to support me, I purchase the book and give it to them at work. I’m pretty sure givesies backsies is legal. They’re just paying me back for money I spent on purchasing the book, but I want to be off the boss’s radar, so I’m stealthy with how I handle it.

One day when I’m sitting on Oprah’s couch, we’re going to laugh about this story. Until then, I’ll be smuggling books in my purse for my clients who badly need a dose of drama.