All Aboard for a Tour of Unity!

I wrote a fun blog for Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning. Alision’s idea was very clever. Instead of a typical book tour, she envisioned a vacation aboard a cruise ship. Each stop would describe the setting and characters of the novel.  I thought it was a very effective way of revealing the mood and tone of Unison.   Alison even wrote a cute introduction that worked with the ending of my post.

You can read it here.

Have a happy and healthy new year!

‘Tis the Season For a Manuscript Folly

I finished my final edit of Unison and felt relieved that this part of my journey was finally over. I started the screenplay version in October 2010 and began work on the novel in December of the same year. It still amazes me that what began as a two-character crucible evolved into a full-blown epic.

My previous edit was supposed to be the last, but on the night I uploaded it to Create Space, my husband took issue with the size of New Athenia, one of my cities in the story. He insisted it was too large. I went to Google Maps and realized he was correct and was glad he caught it. It would’ve been embarrassing to have a city that was too big for the land it was built upon!  After I made the necessary corrections, I contacted Create Space. It was after business hours,  but I wanted to catch the file before it went to the project team. The clerk who answered told me since my manuscript hadn’t been looked at yet, I could call back the next day and tell them I want to upload a new version. It turned out he gave me the wrong  information, and I had to wait for the layout to be completed.

I viewed the delay as happening for a reason, and sure enough it did. While waiting to reject the proof, I found a few spots in my book that had room for more tweaking. One entailed closing up a minor thread, and the other dealt with strengthening the emotional response of the protagonist in the first act. Neither was necessary but added more depth and gave me a deeper sense of completion. The way I closed the thread also opened up a new possibility for the next book in the series.

By the time I finished going over the new text, I knew I was finally finished. I next went to work on the blurb and then headed to Starbucks with my daughters to use the internet. Our service will be down until the 30th. The pace here in Hawaii tends to be a little slow. It’s one of the cons about living here. Nevertheless, the environment more than makes up for the minor inconveniences. Additionally, I have no trouble working in a noisy atmosphere, and I like doing so. I feel more engaged in my writing when I’m around people and consider myself an extroverted introvert in this regard. I do a lot of my writing at Starbucks and other locations where I cart my daughters for extra-curricular activities. When you have young kids, you either adjust to their schedule or wait until they’re grown up to write.  I didn’t want to wait that long.

After I got my cup of Christmas blend and fired up my Macbook, I went through my blurb again and didn’t like how one of the sentences flowed. I worked on it until I got annoyed enough to take a break. Why is it always one sentence? I decided to upload my manuscript…only after I selected the file, I pressed, “submit” before uploading. On Create Space if you do that, it takes you to a page that thanks you for uploading your file…even if you didn’t. I must’ve expressed my stupidity louder than my girls were talking  as a customer walked over and asked if he could help me in any way. After I explained my situation, he said, “Everything will be all right.” We wished each other a Merry Christmas, and he returned to reading his newspaper. Incredible. My mother would’ve said the same thing if she were with me.

Once again, I took my blunder as a sign that I had more work to do on my blurb.  I continued working on it until the end of the night and went to bed thinking I finished. When I hit Starbucks the next day, I decided I still didn’t like the blurb and worked on it some more. I finally got the offending sentence to flow and fixed the blurb on my book cover. I had no problems uploading my manuscript, but I found a typo in my blurb. Since I started playing editor, I’ve become more sensitive to the unreliability of the human brain. I read through the blurb four more times—twice backwards. Only then did I have the courage to upload. So now, as I type this, I’m finished. Christmas turned  out to be a relaxing day for me because I earned it.  We hit an Indian restaurant for an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner. The food was great, but the price…not so much.  But at least my book is finally finished. Right?

I went to the library last night for movie night. They were playing Madagascar 2, and my girls wanted to see it. While they were watching I checked my email. I received an update from CreateSpace, telling me if I want another image in my book, I have to pay extra. The thing is, I didn’t put in any extra images. I looked at the file I uploaded and noticed an empty image box with a question mark in the middle. It was a glitch that happened when I saved my Mac Pages file as a Word Doc.  Each time I tried to re-save, the same thing happened, and I couldn’t figure out why. After I scrolled through the whole file, I found no other empty image boxes and re-uploaded my manuscript. I felt uneasy and looked through it again when I got home and found no errors. Hopefully, things will turn out all right. At least this mistake wasn’t of my own doing. The only thing I have to say now is, “Phew! I’m finally finished.” I have a feeling 2013 will be my lucky year as it will be the year where my first book will be published.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

Love and light,


Synchronicity in Writing and the Great Hen Escapade

I was working on a scene about how our silence keeps us prisoner, and as this is my final edit before publication, I scrutinized a passage and concluded my protagonist, Damon, came off a bit preachy. By grounding his dialogue to his own experiences, the scene packed a more powerful punch. As I don’t want to give the plot away, I’ll only mention that I use a dungeon symbolically throughout the book as a metaphor.  The context related to how some people voluntarily imprison themselves by handing over the key to their oppressors. The key symbolizes fear and how oppressors are given permission to draw it out of their victims as a method of control.

Fast-forward to lunchtime. I went downstairs to eat, and my daughters excitedly told me the hens escaped from the coop. My landlord keeps ten hens for eggs, and the girls have grown fond of them. Apparently, the hens figured out how to open the gate and liberated themselves. With the help of my husband, my daughters proceeded to chased the hens until they were able to lead them back to the coop. During the whole debacle, the cleverest of the hens, managed to make her escape. I cheered when I heard about it.

Being a writer, the slapstick scene played in my head. Imagining my girls running after hens made me laugh, and I wondered why my husband didn’t get out my Iflip and film this screwball moment. As my eldest daughter recounted the event,  my attention went outside, where lo and behold,  a hen was flying outside of the cage.

My husband and youngest daughter ran out to lead her back inside. Meanwhile, I expressed to my eldest how if it were me who saw the hens escape, I probably would’ve turned a blind eye and let them on their way. Much as I don’t judge people for caging hens, I don’t judge a hen’s decision to escape from her prison. If I sound like I’m personifying the situation, that could very well be true. I recently completed my first draft of Forever Valley, in which a hen is one of the main characters. I know what happened will eventually end up in my book.

Coincidence or   synchronicity ushered into my consciousness from the Divine?

I see it as the latter because incidents like this happen too often for me to discount it as mere coincidence.

While the outside chase continued, I recounted to my eldest how the scene I worked on moments before paralleled the hens’ ordeal. My sweet nine-year-old then went on to say, “That’s so weird. It happened at the same time. Just as you were writing about it, we were outside getting the hens back inside.”

“Weird, indeed,” I said as my youngest daughter entered and told me the hen I saw was the one that escaped. They managed to get the hen back in her cage.

I had an eerie feeling as I recounted Damon’s message over how we willingly enslave ourselves by giving the key to our oppressors.  The closing of our real life escapade ended with the hen giving up her own freedom voluntarily.

“She came back because she missed her friends,” my youngest surmised.

She was probably right—that and along with a free meal.  I’ve come to see hens as very social and affectionate. Here, in Hawaii, we have ferrel hens, and the escaped hen would’ve been all right on the outside, but she decided to return to the place where she was most familiar. This was another aspect of the scene I was focusing on; some of us become imprisoned by the comfort of familiarity and security. Of course, that’s not necessarily bad; however, with the wrong person, religion or political ideology it most certainly can be viewed as a weakness and used against us. In the case of the hen, one of her friends ended up on someone’s plate during a Thanksgiving dinner. I leave it up to you to decide whether or not the hen should’ve stayed away.

When synchronous moments in writing happen to me, I ruminate over what I’m supposed to take from the experience.

Did what happen justify or challenge an opinion I hold  dear to me?

 Did it lead me to accept there are some aspects of the human condition that still have a long way to go before evolving…and the changes that will move us forward will happen long after I die?

That last one is the most difficult for me to ponder over, and I’m glad I have my writing to help me express my frustrations. Writing visionary fiction helps me view stories through a holistic and positive lens. In the process of healing my ideal version of the world, I heal myself.