Interview with Allison Garcia

Please join me in welcoming Allison Garcia, author of Vivir el Dream and Finding Amor.

N: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

In college I DJ’d a radio show with my roommate…It was called The Allison and Charlene Show, and we won DJs of the Year. We were very silly and had loads of fun!

N: What’s your favorite scene in “Finding Amor”, and what makes it a fave? Would you care to share an excerpt from the scene with us?

Sure! My favorite scene is…oh my…this is hard. I’ve been staring at the screen for five minutes. I can’t pick! Also I don’t want to pick a scene toooo far into the book and give anything away. I kind of like the scenes where Emanuel meets his grandmother, Mami Sandra. I know a lot more about the character than everyone at this point, so the way she connects with Emanuel is pretty miraculous and outside her normal character. Also it turns out she has a pretty good sense of humor. Who knew?! Here is a scene where they are eating breakfast together in Nashville. I apologize for the large amount of Spanish. There are footnotes in the book! J

Mami Sandra let out a sigh and took another swig of her coffee. “Regresemos al río.”

Emanuel nodded and walked alongside her until they got to the railing overlooking the flowing waters. The sunset was brighter and glowed with a mixture of orange and red, like mangos and jocotes.

Vamos a comer por allá. El puente tiene bancos.

They walked up the steep bridge until they got to the top, where they sat on a metal bench, looking out over the river below, its surface reflecting the changing colors of the sky.

Mami Sandra swallowed another gulp of coffee and passed Emanuel a warm wrapped sandwich from the paper bag. “Okay, I’m awake now. ¿Qué querés saber?” She checked her watch. “Tenés quince minutos para preguntarme todo lo que quieras.”

Emanuel stopped with his biscuit sandwich halfway to his mouth. “¿Por qué habla español con acento?”

“Out of practice,” she responded with a full mouth.

“Why?”

“I don’t like speaking Spanish.”

“Why?”

“Because.” She picked off a piece of her biscuit and threw it to a group of nearby pigeons.

“Because why?”

Mami Sandra narrowed her eyes but didn’t answer.

Me dijo ‘todo lo que yo quiera saber de usted,’” Emanuel reminded her, taking another sip of the flavorless juice.

She swallowed hard and looked out over the river. “Me recuerda a la Guerra.”

Emanuel sat back. “Oh. Por eso salió del país, ¿verdad?

She nodded and tossed another crumb to the birds. “It really messed me up.”

He had a million other questions floating around in his mind. Why had she abandoned Mamá? Why hadn’t she helped her get papers or waited so long to help Emanuel? Why did everyone seem to hate her so much?

He nibbled on his sandwich and studied her saddened face and her leg that restlessly shook the bench, deciding that la Guerra might be the answer to most of his questions. So he chose an easier one. “¿Por qué me está ayudando?”

Mami Sandra glanced at him, a strange far-off look in her eyes. “I don’t know.” She shook her head and finished off her biscuit and coffee, tossing the garbage into the trash. “Fifteen minutes are over.”

Emanuel laughed. “Ni llegué a cinco.”

“Oh, well. Son mis reglas.” Mami Sandra shrugged. “If I’d known you were so smart, I wouldn’t have let you ask me questions.” She ruffled his hair and stood up. “Let’s go.”

Emanuel swallowed his last dry bite of sandwich, gulped down the juice, and followed his grandmother down the hill. He smiled. Mami Sandra was strange, but for a moment, she’d reminded him of Mamita. Despite everything he’d heard about her his whole life, he couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere deep inside, she was actually a good person.

allison

N: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?

Emanuel, hands down. He is a cool kid. He is so strong and has been through so much, and yet the world hasn’t dragged him down. He has a good heart and a lot of love to give.

N: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?

Carlos. He is the worst. When my editor made me write scenes from his POV, I bucked back hard. But, alas, it helped grow the story. And, don’t worry, horrible things will happen to him. Mwahahaha

N: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre/sub-genre?

I’m a sucker for the classics. My fav book is Jane Eyre. But I also love Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and The Giver and And Then There Were None. My favorite recent book is The Hate U Give. I’d say I read whatever, as long as it has a good story and characters I care about.

N: What are your least and most favorite things about being an author?

I love writing. I haaaaate editing, though I love the final product. It is really awesome holding a book you wrote in your hands and seeing it on the shelves of a bookstore. Also I only have 2 books out, so next year I would looove to be in the black. J

N: Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?

Yes. There is one scene in Vivir el Dream, my book that has won 5 awards, where it talks about Juanita and her 3-yr old daughter Linda’s traumatic border crossing. So…I think the last line is the most powerful, but it needs context so here ya go!

Juanita had heard stories about people dying in the desert. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands. Searching for freedom and a better life for their families. She had heard other stories, too. Stories about what the coyotes did to women, stories she didn’t want to believe were true. She took a deep breath and looked ahead with determination. She wouldn’t be one of those bodies lying out for the vultures to find. They were going to make it.

All of a sudden, the old man in front of her stopped, swayed, and dropped onto the sand, dead. She made the sign of the cross over her chest and stepped around him, continuing on.

N:  When you sit down to start a new book, how do you decide whether it will best be told in the first or the third person?

I almost always write in 3rd person, and starting with Vivir el Dream, I have written stories from usually 3-4 POVs. I usually decide the main people I’d like the story to be about and go from there. I am a “pantser” so the story develops as I write.

N: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your faves?

I sort of hate tropes. I don’t like things to be predictable at all. Though…I suppose I would say that I am a sucker for the underdog or for surprise declarations of love.

N: Describe your ideal fantasy writing environment—the beach in Monaco, a sidewalk café in Paris, a thatched cottage in the English countryside—wherever you can dream of.

I have written some really good stuff while down visiting my in-laws in Guadalajara. But I’ve already been there and I’ve never been to Italy, so I think there!

N: If you could choose one of your books to be adapted for the silver screen, which would you choose? Why do you think it would translate well to film?

This is hard because I see all of them in my head like a movie, but people seem to really love Vivir el Dream. I think the characters are lovable (most of them!) and it is very poignant. Finding Amor would also be cool. I can see people falling in love with sweet little Emanuel.

N: If I were to interview Ana and Emanuel what would they say about you?

Give us a break, Allison! I think they’d be mad about the next shoe that is dropping in Finding Seguridad (book 2 of the Buscando Home series) and the following shoe in Finding Paz (book 3). I like to make people squirm and care and worry, because these are real things that happen in the real world. I hear stories like theirs every day as a counselor. I want it to be authentic and not a fake, happy, perfectly-tied-up-in-a-bow ending.

N: Thank you so much. Finding Amor sounds very interesting. I wish you all the best in your writing career and hope you visit us again soon.

 

Buy Links

finding amor

vivir

 

Advertisements

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.

But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eye shadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!).


We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!

The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open
internationally.

Schedule and list of authors and their stops on the Hop

Monday, Dec. 4th

Tracie Banister https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister

Beth Carter https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter

Whitney Dineen https://www.facebook.com/Whitney-Dineen-11687019412/

Karin Gillespie https://www.facebook.com/karingillespieauthor/

Kate O’Keeffe https://www.facebook.com/kateokeeffeauthor/

Tuesday, Dec. 5th

Annabelle Costa https://www.facebook.com/Annabelle-Costa-894496980704700/

Susan Hatler https://www.facebook.com/authorsusanhatler/

Kate Kisset https://www.facebook.com/KateKisset/

Kirsty McManus https://www.facebook.com/kirstymcmanusauthor

Robyn Neeley https://www.facebook.com/RobynNeeleyAuthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 6th

Sylvia Ashby https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/

Hannah Ellis https://www.facebook.com/novelisthannahellis

Cat Lavoie https://www.facebook.com/CatLavoieBooks

Becky Monson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeckyMonson/

Jennifer Peel https://www.facebook.com/jenniferpeelauthor/

Thursday, Dec. 7th

Michele Brouder https://www.facebook.com/MicheleBrouder/

Melinda Curtis https://www.facebook.com/MelindaCurtisAuthor/

Liz Durano https://www.facebook.com/Lizduranobooks/

Diane Michaels https://www.facebook.com/dianemichaelsauthor/

Holly Tierney-Bedord https://www.facebook.com/HollyRecommends/

Friday, Dec. 8th

Hilary Grossman https://www.facebook.com/HilaryGrossmanAuthor/

Beth Labonte https://www.facebook.com/bethlabontebooks/

Nikki LeClair https://www.facebook.com/NikkiLeClairBooks/

Heidi Renee Mason https://www.facebook.com/HeidiReneeMason/

Susan Murphy https://www.facebook.com/susanmurphyauthor/

Natalina Reis https://www.facebook.com/authornatalinareis/

Saturday, Dec. 9th

Amy Avanzino https://www.facebook.com/AmyAvanzino/

Susannah Nix https://www.facebook.com/susannahnix

Cassandra O’Leary https://www.facebook.com/cassandraolearyauthor

Michelle Jo Quinn https://www.facebook.com/MichelleJoQuinnAuthor/

Nicole Waggoner https://www.facebook.com/NicoleWaggonerAuthorCircusofWomen/

Sunday, Dec. 10th

Mary Frame https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryFrame/

Sarah-Jane Fraser https://www.facebook.com/sjfraserauthor/

Amy Gettinger https://www.facebook.com/Amy-Gettinger-Author-1412625005719904/

Lizzie Lamb https://www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter/

Joslyn Westbrook https://www.facebook.com/JoslynWestbrookOfficial

Monday, Dec. 11th

Jayne Denker https://www.facebook.com/JayneDenkerAuthor/

Angie Ellington https://www.facebook.com/angienellingtonbooks

C.L. Ogilvie https://www.facebook.com/CLOgilvie/

Meredith Schorr https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/

Stacey Wiedower https://www.facebook.com/StaceyWiedower.author/

Tuesday, Dec. 12th

Glynis Astie https://www.facebook.com/glynisastieauthor

Renee Conoulty https://www.facebook.com/ReneeConoultyAuthor/

Jenny Gardiner https://www.facebook.com/jennygardinerbooks

Stacy Juba https://www.facebook.com/Stacy-Juba-100155471301/

Tracy Krimmer https://www.facebook.com/krimmerauthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 13th

Traci Andrighetti https://www.facebook.com/traciandrighettiauthor/

Kathryn Biel https://www.facebook.com/kathrynrbiel

Monique McDonell https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMcDonellAuthor

Denise Stout https://www.facebook.com/DeniseStoutAuthor/

Melanie Summers https://www.facebook.com/MJSummersAuthorPage

Thursday, Dec. 14th

Anne John-Ligali https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

Colette Kebell https://www.facebook.com/ColetteKebellAuthor/

Jennie Marts https://www.facebook.com/JennieMartsBooks/

Clodagh Murphy https://www.facebook.com/clodaghmurphyauthor

Tess Thompson https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessThompson/

Friday, Dec. 15th

Melissa Baldwin https://www.facebook.com/authormelissabaldwin/

Aimee Brown https://www.facebook.com/authoraimeebrown

Karen M. Cox https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932/

Lindsay Detwiler https://www.facebook.com/lindsayanndetwiler

Barbara Valentin https://www.facebook.com/Platespinner/

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop 2017__ Ornaments

 

 

 

 

Offended & Bewildered

It’s not the first time I write a blog about the many frustrations of being a romance writer and not be taking seriously. This is one of them.

I recently attended a writing event as a panelist where I was once again reminded of what people (including or especially other writers) think a romance is. They conveniently forget that the great ones of literature such as Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, and even–gulp–the Great Bard were all romance writers.

book-bindings-books-cover-1204743

Yes, the genre has gone through some significant changes throughout the years (some good, some bad) and I’ll be the first one to admit that there are a lot of really bad romance novels out there. This, however, can be said about any other genre today. There are excellent high fantasy books just as there are some absolutely awful. Same can be said of mystery, science fiction, and everything in between. Even high-brow literature has its winners and losers. I can think of at least one Pulitzer Prize prize winner who wrote a book that made zero sense whatsoever.

So to bundle up every romance book and label it “porn” is not only offensive but totally incorrect.

beach-bikini-body-351127

Anyone who knows me well will tell you I abhor porn. To me, porn objectifies people of every gender (but especially women) and trivializes sex. Don’t get me wrong. There is sex in my romances, heat level depending on the plot and the characters. These are love stories and where there is love eventually, and in most cases, there will be a communion of bodies as much as of hearts. But a loving sex scene should not be confused with porn. If you think my love scenes are porn, then you must have led a very sheltered life.

When someone at this writing event insinuated (quite loudly in a  room full of people) that I wrote porn and therefore what I wrote would not make its way to the group online page or anthology, I was extremely offended. It’s been boiling just under the surface since then and I’ve considered posting something to the effect, because I feel that by not defending my writing is admitting that I do indeed write porn. Which I don’t.

This reminds me of when the Harry Potter books were first released. There was such a fuss made by certain religious groups about the evil nature of such stories. They called for boycotts of the books and other extreme reactions to a wonderful fictional world that depicted good against evil. I was shocked to find out that many of the people running their mouths about the books had never read as much as the first chapter. How can you judge something if you’ve never read, or at least sample parts of it?

This person who accused me of writing porn has never read any of my books, so how does she know what my writing is like? Why didn’t she refrain from making assumptions before sampling one of my books? All she did was show how ignorant she is about the genre. One silver lining though: I am now determined to show up to a book open mic event and show everybody that my books are well written and have depth. I want to prove to all who have sneered at my books that romance is not the sex fest they think it is. Not my type of romance and not a lot of romance I read and love. Let’s not judge a whole group of authors and their books by a few.

celebration-craft-creative-949586

What do you think? Are you a reader that believes romance to be a low-form of literature or are you willing to set your assumptions aside and give romance a chance? Or any other genre for that matter.

For those who still think romance is the black sheep of the literary family and a mere venue for pornographic voyeurism, here are some readings that may make you change your mind:

Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Hunt

Where Are Romance Novels Headed (Chicago Tribune)

Is Mystery Dead?

My wonderful publisher just opened a new imprint for mysteries and thrillers. That got me thinking. I’ve always loved mystery, even as a child, and quite a few of my favorite TV shows fall–or fell–in that category. I always add an element of mystery or suspense in my romances too. So why am I not reading more of it? Or watching it?

Bones, NCIS, The Closer, Rizzoli and Isles… I watched and loved them all. But more recently I noticed I’m not getting into those shows anymore. Some are off the air but others, including some new ones, have either made it out of my list of preferences or never made it there. For someone who used to devour Agatha Christie’s books, Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfell’s series, even lots of the extremely sexist gumshoe series of the 70s I sure am not paying much attention to the genre.

Detective

In recent years I have read very few mysteries, at least those who fall entirely in that category. I’ve read many books that included mystery in the plot but that’s it. Some of those I read were The Gone Girl (hated it–a story for another time), a couple of Dan Brown’s books (loved it), one or two cozies (fun) and not much more.

A lot of the shows I used to watch faithfully (Criminal Minds, CSI, etc) became more and more gory as if their popularity depended on how gross and despicable the crime scene was. The mystery itself looked like was taking a back seat. I lost interest. I like the puzzle-side of mystery, the putting all the pieces together to solve a conundrum. Some shows quit doing that and began focusing more on the shoot-outs, the car chases, the bizarre ways killers were choosing to murder people. Not that interesting.

bloody water

I’m not against a bit of gore if it’s necessary to show the horror of the situation (I’ve written it myself: there’s a torture scene in Lavender Fields for example), but do we really need to see a body shred to pieces by a wood chipper or another literally smashed to smithereens and glued to the tires of a car? Don’t think so.

I’m just sorry that real mysteries seem to be a thing of the past or maybe I’m just reading the wrong ones. On the other hand I have read some excellent books that incorporated good mysteries within the plot such as Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours.

What do you think? Do you know of good mysteries that do not rely on gore, shoot outs, or any other shock-factors? What about cozies? Have you read any good ones lately? I have a couple written by a writer friend on my TBR. I was fortunate enough to read a couple chapters and loved it, so I have high hopes. What do you suggest?

Untitled design (2)

Ignoring the Impostor Syndrome

We all felt it one time or another, the insidious whisper inside our head that says, “You’re an impostor“. “How dare you stand among the great ones? What right do you have to be here? What makes you qualified to dish out advice?” You know the whispers–or sometimes loud screams in your mind.

Writers are particularly vulnerable to this. How many of us have been part of a book event where you have big names in your genre at a table five feet away from yours? It’s both exhilarating and depressing because on one hand you’re excited you’re breathing the same air as some of your literary idols while at the same time being depressed for feeling you don’t measure up to them.

Measuring up

Recently I was invited to co-present at a local, small writer’s conference. My first reaction was to say yes, but then that nagging feeling came whispering again–what can you possibly say about writing that others would think interesting or helpful? I said yes anyway because I’ve promised myself a long time ago I’d take on more challenges.

I had been part of panels before, but this was different; this was the two of us running an informative session about the writing business, From Spark to Finish (my co-presenter, talented YA author, PM Hernandez, came up with the catchy title). Between the two of us we have thirteen books published and we have both learned quite a lot in our journey through this business. And yet that doubt, that nettling feeling, was still gnawing at the back of my mind.

WBTR Fall Workshop5

Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

In the end it was a great experience. Turns out we both have quite a bit of helpful information to impart with beginning or aspiring authors, and this was the perfect venue to do so. Hernandez and I have different experiences and perspectives but because of that we were the perfect combination; she’s self-published, I’m a hybrid; she’s a semi-pantser, I’m an all-in pantser. I think I speak for both of us when I say, we had a blast as you can tell by this picture.

WBTR Fall Workshop4

PM Hernandez and me – Photo Credit: Jan Rayl

I’m sure that irksome voice will rise again, but for the moment I’m on Cloud 9, feeling accomplished and worthy. Moral of the story is we all need to ignore those whispers and take risks. When you hear that inner voice again, stick a cork in it and move on. You’ll be so glad you did it.

*Many thanks to Jan Rayl, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, and Becks Sousa of Write by the Rails for organizing such a great event. And everyone who attended. It was a lot of fun.*

The Big Baddie

This blog post was first published in MM Good Book Reviews

People who know me personally would be very surprised if they knew that I love to write evil characters. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s because of how satisfying it is to beat them at the end of the book. Maybe I’m unconsciously taking my revenge on bad people that I either know personally or heard of. After all that’s how a writer fights—with words.

LFSamael

In Lavender Fields I wrote an evil angel who puts the two MCs through hell before getting defeated by the forces of good. In Infinite Blue I went with a more mortal version of antagonist. Even though not a supernatural being, this character wins the trophy for being the Most Wicked.

When I was a kid I loved watching scary movies, especially those with a paranormal or sci-fi background, but refused to watch movies where the big baddie was someone close to the MC—that scared the crap out of me and meant many sleepless nights. Because of this I have written Shahin’s mother as the antagonist—and not only because she doesn’t approve of his relationship with Cai. Her behavior from the beginning of the book is despicable for a mother. It starts with her refusal to accept Shahin the way he is and develops into something truly malevolent (don’t want to give any spoilers so you have to read the book to find out).

Depositphotos_89973092_l-2015

Is there anything viler than someone who’s supposed to love and take care of you but instead chooses to hurt you? It brings a sense of betrayal along with whatever wicked thing they did. If you were ever betrayed by someone you cared about, you know how it hurts in more ways than one. It hits you right in the heart, burns you from the inside out, and often makes you blame or even hate yourself. That’s why I picked someone close to Shahin to be the big baddie in Infinite Blue.

Who are your favorite types of antagonists and why?

 

 

Location, Location, Location

I tend to locate my stories in imaginary places. In fact, it had never occurred to me to set one of my romances in a real place until I started hearing about all the small-town romances that were becoming so popular. The first time I used a setting that really existed was in my first M/M paranormal, Lavender Fields, which I set in Wiscasset, Maine—a town I vacationed in a few times. With Infinite Blue, I was determined to have it take place in a more local setting. That’s how my characters ended up in Old Town Manassas, just a few miles from where I live and a place I visit often.

Old TownManassas, VA

I was surprised how much fun it was to use real places or those inspired by the real ones. Restaurants, coffeeshops, even the train station are all very real.

A friend’s sister’s place of work became the model and the location for Cai’s graphic studio. I had visited the studio once so I had a good feel for the layout. It’s a small place over a well-known restaurant by the old-fashion train station.

The coffeeshop they both frequent is also a real hub of artistic activity in Manassas. So is the ice cream shop they mention, Jitterbug. Even the hospital was inspired by a real one, not in Manassas but close by.

The most fun I had was “researching” the Mexican Taqueria they all meet one evening. I knew about the place but had never eaten there. I had to check their menu online and I was glad to find out that I had described the place and the food accurately. When I finally ate there, I ordered the same thing my characters did in the book and had the delicious (and not Mexican) zepolle for the first time ever.

One of the most romantic scenes is set in the parking lot of the station which means that now every time I go there (and that’s where I normally park my car) I have visions of Cai and Shahin involved in a kiss.

Station

Writing a Strong Broken Character

A couple months ago I finished writing a romantic comedy that is close to my heart for a few different reasons. If you have read any of my books you know they are not just about romance and happy endings (even though they definitely have both) but they normally touch on something a bit heavier, sometimes darker.

This one is no exception. I wanted to write a character who is being emotionally blackmailed. This was an important subject for me because it’s something I experienced personally. I had always considered myself a strong woman. Not the most assertive one, but emotionally strong. Until the day I discovered I had been manipulated by someone I considered my best friend at the time. Worse even this had been going on for years. I lived in a state of confusion and hurt without a clue of who or what was making me so miserable.

alone-bench-grass-66757

Emotional blackmailers use traits of your personality (good qualities more often than not) against you. In my case, she used the fact I would do just about anything to help and/or defend a friend and turned it into a weapon against me. She also used the fact I choose to believe the best about people to make herself believable in my eyes. She was the victim, the one that needed help, everyone was out to get her. And I ate it up even when my conscience and common sense told me there was something wrong with her stories and/or her attitude.

When I began writing this story I wanted my main male character (who in romance are kind of expected to be alpha males) to be a victim of emotional blackmail. As I wrote the story I had the suspicion I was making him look weak, which was not at all my intention. Strength has nothing to do with this. The most put together, emotionally stable person can be the victim of one of these predators. Because make no mistake, these are predators as ruthless as any other.

Depositphotos_160071752_xl-2015

I submitted the manuscript thinking that I would get it back with the comment, “he comes across as weak”. I was right. That’s exactly what happened. So now I’m faced with the challenge of portraying someone who has been “broken” by his girlfriend but still seems strong and capable–which he really is. Not an easy task but I have all confidence I’m on the right track. I agonized over it when I was writing it the first time, I’m agonizing over it now as I revise it. I want to be true and fair to my MMC and not make him look like the weakling he is not.

I’m hoping I can make my guy just as strong and awesome as he is broken and confused. Have you ever have to write a character like that? What did you do to balance his state of mind with his personal strengths?

 

The Insidious Impostor Syndrome

On my last blog I wrote about my experience at a book signing recently–an experience colored by many anxieties and doubts. I’m very happy to say that despite my irrational fears, I was indeed invited back for next year’s event.

Today I’d like to talk to you about something related, impostor syndrome. A lot of authors suffer from this condition and I’m no exception. Recently, I was reminded of how much this affects me as a writer and a human being.

As the majority of writers today, I struggle to make myself known and get people to buy my books. I work my butt off and sacrifice a lot to sell a handful of books a month if I’m lucky. One of my books, Desert Jewel, is part of a series I’m very proud of: The Jewel Chronicles, a fantasy with a strong romantic element which I wrote using a world I knew well in my past to create a parallel-type universe as my setting. Some of you know I spent a lot of my childhood and  young adult years in Africa. I used what I knew to create a speculative world where everything was the opposite of the real one. I buried deep personal beliefs about prejudice and superstition in the plot and colored it perhaps with a bit of anger against the power-hungry men who even today keep the people of many African nations poor and helpless.

angst-807726_1920

As I write the third and last book of the series, I find myself procrastinating, making excuses not to write. Because I very rarely do this, I began wondering why that is. Is it because my story is coming to an end and I want to hold on to it as long as I can? Is it because I’m afraid of not knowing how to further push the story forward? Or is it because I’m discouraged by the extremely low sales of the past two books?

I guess it is a little of all three above, but I also realized something else–I’m suffering from a serious bout of impostor’s syndrome. Let me explain.

In May of this year a young adult fantasy was released to almost instant success and critical acclaim. I didn’t know much about it, other than it was set in an African-like world. Being the African groupie that I am, I was curious and checked out its synopsis. I immediately found several parallels with Desert Jewel–not the same plot but many of the same elements. The story incorporates Afro-Brazilian mythology, the idea of a girl with a special gift who will save a repressed people, and a romantic attachment with someone on the “other side” of the rail tracks, so to speak. Being an expert at self-doubt, my first reaction was, “This was her first book and she sold thousands of copies already and is in every freaking bookstagrammer’s page. I’ve sold a handful of copies of my book in over two years. I suck at writing obviously.”

man-2127698_1920

Ever since then I’ve carrying this growing doubt with me–am I a good enough writer? Are my stories interesting enough? Am I tricking myself into believing I can write? A doubt that has been hampering the writing progress of my WIP. This, my friends, is what impostor syndrome is all about. I have a publisher that believes in me, a few readers that love my books, good–even if not tons of–reviews and yet I still doubt myself. Frequently.

How many of you suffers from this too? How do you fight this self-defeating feeling? I fight it by writing on, despite that little voice that tells me nobody wants to read what I write. I keep writing even when I’m scared people think I’m an old fool who has nothing interesting to say. I keep on writing because it’s where my voice is, the one thing that gives me wings.

You can read more about impostor syndrome here and here and here.

Heart’s Prey-The Journey

I’ve been an introvert all my life. Sometimes I feel that in spite of all my travelling, my life experiences, my education I’ve never been quite part of the whole. I’ve always felt much like an outcast of sorts, always on the outside looking in. Always afraid of voicing my strong opinions and beliefs, but feeling them deeply within my heart nevertheless.

All my novels reflect that in one form or another. But none so vividly as Heart’s Prey.

The world of Heart’s Prey is a world divided by prejudice, where society is parceled out between castes. When that world is attacked by monsters of their own creation, life as they know is crushed. My characters come from different castes and must somehow ignore the fact that they were brainwashed into hating each other and unite in order to survive.

As the plot develops the reader comes to find out that even within the castes there are divisions, prejudice, and cruelty. Nothing is what it seemed to be.They come to discover that the woman from a privileged caste was not very privileged after all, that she had been subjected to terrible things at the hands of her own people because of flaws in their system. They come to find out that in the end they were all outcasts and that if they are to survive, they must destroy those barriers of suspicion and fear, and learn to build a society that doesn’t judge, divide, or punish  those who are different.

I’m very passionate about this book, my only self-pub so far, and its message. I love the characters and the way they stick together even when faced with the horrors of the genetically-engineered creatures loose in their ravished world.

I’d love to hear from you and find out what you thought of my book.

2017-951 Natalina Reis b01

Blurb

The world Jia and Cees knew no longer exists. Amidst chaos and terror, they find each other and fall in love—a love that goes against all castes’s rules. As their civilization is ravaged by genetically-altered beasts, the caste system relied upon for ages crumbles. The privileged and wealthy are just as vulnerable to the onslaught as are the disadvantaged.

Faced with impossible odds and unsettling secrets about their society, Jia and Cees must decide which part of their dying world to take with them and what they should leave behind. As they travel in search of a safe haven, they face unspeakable horrors, which shake deep-rooted beliefs and their old way of life.

Will they look past prejudice and centuries-old traditions to join forces against annihilation? Or will they give in to society’s pressure and fight alone?

Buy Links

Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Kobo
B&N

 

HPVulnerable

BIO

Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of 13 in collaboration with her best friend, Susana. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes. She’s the author of seven romance novels that reflect the amazing diversity of humankind and the universal power of love.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she’s taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

Social Links

Instagram
FB

BookBub
Amazon
Newsletter
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Reader’s Page

HPSorryCees

HPHand