Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Serendipitous Find

Hemingway's studio at his house in Key West, Florida

When I choose books, I usually read the jacket and sometimes, the first few pages to see if I get hooked. I gravitate towards names, cities, or events that I consider somewhat meaningful (I guess because I secretly wish to be linked to the story). When this happens, I believe it’s a serendipitous find. It’s a Eureka moment, I tell myself, “I must have this book!”
I’ll give you a couple of examples. I read The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak, and I fell in love with two paradoxical characters that were not only beautifully developed but intriguing as well. I empathized with Asya, the rebellious and non-conformist daughter of a tattoo parlor owner. I envisioned myself being on the streets of Istanbul again as I read the rich description of the city. This was the same case with Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, a book that I couldn’t put down (literally!). I read this book in 1998 and I still remember some scenes and characters.

Last summer while browsing the sidewalk sales (commonly known in Montreal as vente de trottoir), I came across a book titled, Claudia. I flipped the pages to see if this was a serendipitous find or just “another” book on the sales table. Well, I was thrilled when I discovered one of the characters was born in the same month and year as me. The main character has lived and visited the same cities/countries I have, and even the cover of the book it’s meaningful to me. I bought it! How could I leave it behind? It was only $1.00 and it was in mint condition. I’m reading it now and so far, I’m enjoying it. Let’s see if I change my mind once I finish it.
Have you found books you regard as a serendipitous find? Have you come across books that you consider “a must have”?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by D.G. Hudson at Rainforest Writing

This is a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers and to highlight other wonderful blogs.

The Rules Are:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag eleven bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want. Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!
6. Have fun!

My Answers to D.G. Hudson:

1- How long have you blogged?I created my blog in March 2010 so I've been blogging since then.

2 -
Do you have a pet?
Yes! I have two very spoiled kitty cats (female).

3 -
Do you like film noir?
Yes. Citizen Kane is one of my favorite ones.

4 -
Do you pick male or female protagonists the most when you write?
I think I pick them equally. It depends on the mood or the storyline.

5 -
Which female actor in LOTR would you want to be if offered a part in the movie?
Neither. I'm not a fan of The Lord of the Rings. I don't dislike the film, it's just not my cup of tea.

6 -
Which male actor in LOTR would you want to be if offered a part in the movie? (this is assuming Makeup and Costume can do miracles. . .)
Same answer as #5.

7 - Where do you write? (which room, or place is most comfortable)
Sometimes in the office and sometimes in my bedroom (wherever it's quieter).

8 - What beverage is beside you while you're writing?
None. I usually don't eat or drink while I'm writing.

9 - Do you listen to Music while writing?
No, only when I'm editing.

10 -
What is your favorite city?
Positano, Italy. Runners up: Washington, D.C. and Istanbul.

11 - Is there a phone in your writing place?
No. My cell phone is always off. The landline phone is in the kitchen.

My Tagged Bloggers:

Jay Paoloni, Actor
Under the Tiki Hut

Maria Zannini

One Word Pundit

My 11 questions for those tagged are:
1) What's your favorite classic (book)?
2) Whose writing style would you like to emulate?
3) Have you taken workshops to hone your writing?
4) Do you have a mentor?
5) Which is your favorite cuisine?
6) Which is your favorite season?
7) Which genre do you write/read?
8) If you had the chance to run off with one of your favorite characters, who would it be?
9) Which song brings you to tears?
10) Have you used someone else's secret in one of your stories/books/poems?
11) Do you believe in soul mates?
Now go on and have fun! If you have any questions regarding this game, let me know.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How real are your characters?

Ernest Hemingway said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Do you agree with his statement?

I don’t want to be biased just because he’s one of my favorite authors but I concur. Real characters are beautiful. This post could be a follow-up to my previous one about compelling characters.

I am finishing up a story where my characters were inspired by real people. Although I changed their physical traits and names, their essence and emotions are still palpable. Their spirits continue to live on in the ink of my paper because their story needed to be told.

Are your protagonists the extension of someone you know?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Coffee + Facebook = Blogpost

Today we had a power outage in my neighborhood due to a gas leak. It has lasted close to eleven hours. It was serious since it was announced in the local news and four thousand people were evacuated. Fire trucks and police officers were standing by.

So here I am, at a downtown coffee shop typing up my latest post. Unfortunately, I cannot concentrate in this noisy environment.

When I logged in, the page that popped up said I needed to connect to my Facebook account
in order to access explorer.
 I'm surprised they didn't ask me to order coffee in order to use their free Wi-Fi.

So in honor of a mélange of caffeine and technology I am posting an excerpt from
the Book Marketing Expert's article about Facebook pages.

Understanding Facebook Content Interaction

Fan Pages now have a fabulous feature called Facebook Insights.

Head on over there for some really interesting information and
insightful (hence the name) data.
First, you can find Insights on the left side of your page.
Once you're there you can see all sorts of data on the information you post.
1) Reach: This is the number of unique people who have seen the post
for 28 days after publishing the post.
2) Engaged Users: These are people who have engaged with your post

in some way: i.e. clicked the link.
3) Talking about this: This is an interesting number and you've no doubt

seen this pop up right under your "Likes." These actions are: liking the post,
commenting, sharing the post, responding to a question, or RSVPing
to an event.
4) Virality: This is the number of people who have created a story from

your page post.
Watch these numbers for some great insight into what fires up your fans
and what leaves them cold.
It's not just about getting "Liked," it's about staying "Liked."
Creating insightful, helpful, and engaging content is one piece
to the puzzle; the other is timing
and receptiveness of your fans. Though I've outlined 'general' user
guidelines in this piece, be sure to check the Facebook Insights
for key data that will help your fan base thrive!
Quick Ways to Promote your Facebook Fan Page

* Put your Fan Page URL in your signature line
* Email your newsletter list
* Add a Facebook Fan widget to your blog and website
* Add your Fan Page URL to your biz cards
* Tweet the link to your followers
* Notify your "Friends" on your personal profile that you now

   have a Fan Page
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Good Cop / Bad Cop

We’ve all watched or read stories about good vs. evil, hero vs. villain, good cop vs. bad cop, and we usually tend to empathize with the most compelling character. Note that I didn’t say the good guy, I said compelling.

Today I was asked to describe what a compelling character meant to me. My answer was brief, yet to the point:
The most compelling characters are those who appear internally consistent and yet are capable of surprise. They have to be well-developed and reliable. They learn, and sometimes, change from experiences they have encountered and endured throughout the story. In order to create gripping characters, a good writer explores and finds what motivates these characters to do or say certain things. My mentor always told me that a believable character must have a driving need, desire, ambition or goal; a secret; a contradiction; and vulnerability. This will avoid crafting a flat or two-dimensional character. Whether these characters are the heroes or the villains, the reader will empathize with them. When reading, the characters seem to be in front of us. We get to know them so well that we feel a sense of loss by the time we finish reading the book. In other words, when we read, we are supposed to live vicariously through these characters.

What about you? Who do you usually empathize with? What’s your idea of a compelling character?