How Jessie’s Song Awakened the Music Within Me

Those of us who write visionary fiction oftentimes transcend alongside our characters. I’d like to share with you the most recent evolution within my life that I owe to Jessie’s Song. Little did I know that the protagonist’s journey to find himself in jazz would lead me on my own journey to rediscover my love for singing after a long hiatus.

I’d given up singing jazz right after college, convincing myself it wasn’t really what I wanted. The details behind it are enough for a full length book. Perhaps I’ll write it one day. Suffice it to say, several other musical projects followed but nothing captured my heart and soul until I started to chant. As much as I enjoyed doing it, I eventually gave that up as well. I tried to find inspiration again and returned to writing. Jessie’s Songwas born during a high concept screenwriting class I took back in 2007. When I first set out to write the story, it had a very dark theme. Markos Adams, the protagonist, began as Remus Caruso, a hit man. He evolved into a police officer in my second draft. It still didn’t work for me as there was a child molestation backstory that I thought would turn people off. I’m not the type to change a story around for the sake of getting readers, but my instincts told me I needed to change it. Not having the will or energy to continue, I laid it aside and moved on to other projects, then stopped writing all together as I’d lost my inspiration.  Continue reading here.

Readers’ Favorite Awards Ceremony 2013

I just got back from the Readers’ Favorite Awards Ceremony in Miami. It was a dazzling experience, and I got to meet some great people. Debra Gaynor, the founder of Reader’s Favorite, was very personable and kind. She called up my daughter to have her picture taken  with us, and also when I went up to get my award.

Speaking of my daughter, she was well behaved during the whole trip. She never even complained once, aside from the beginning of the ceremony. The speeches bored her. I can’t fault her as I had been a fidgety child. And I’m a fidgety adult! But not during this ceremony. I think it was done very well, and if I win another Readers’ Favorite Award, I’ll definitely be in attendance again. The opportunity to network was worth the expensive air fair and jet lag that lingered with me until my departure date!

My daughter kept me running around each day. We went on a fan-boat ride in the Everglades and visited Jungle Island where my daughter had an interesting conversation with a cockatoo. We also went to the Miami Children’s Museum which she deemed to be too childish. Thankfully, I had the Go Miami card, which gave us over thirty-five attractions to choose from in a three day period. We left and went to the more mature Miami Science Museum.

It was an all around great time and nice to get recognition as an author. I’m proud to be a recipient of the bronze medal for Jessie’s Song. Thanks Markos Adamidis! You deserve a sequel for this one! And also for inspiring me to sing jazz again.

As a participant of National Novel Writing month, I remained faithful to my writing schedule throughout my stay in Miami. And today, I made it to 50,000 words, for my eighth book, The True Vanessa! However, I have at least another 15,000 words to go with this one!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Love and light,

Eleni

Great Review For Unison

I received feedback for Unison by a judge from the Writer’s Digest Self-Pulished Book Awards. I didn’t win this one, but it’s rewarding to be a contender!

“Unison’s first impression is quite good, with a cover design that may be a bit heavy on the “New Age” feel but is, in fact, appropriate to this fascinating hybrid’s content. The interior design is exceptional and of a quality that even the bigger publishing houses don’t usually meet. Proving that beauty is not just skin deep, author Eleni Papanou has created a unique story that’s equal parts post-apocalyptic science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, and New Age spiritualism with neither of these often competing or mutually exclusive genres overwhelming the others. This is an author with something to say and both the writing and design chops to say it well. The evocative writing has a poetic quality appropriate to the content but remains readable and welcoming, aided by a clean edit. The worldbuilding includes some fresh ideas, including the concept of “faith design,” but that worldbuilding is, as it should be, there to serve the characters, not the other way around. Unison is definitely a contender!”  “Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards”

Thanks Writer’s Digest!

Damon’s Invention From Unison Now Seems Possible!

I just released the 2nd edition of Unison, and the timing is uncanny:

“A group of US researchers believe they have found the gene which performs the role of memory extinction.

The process, which occurs when new memories overwrite old ones, is being treated as the key to eventually being able completely to delete painful memories.” Source: Sky News

My lead character, Damon, invents a signal that destroys unpleasant memories. Apparently, we’re one step closer to making that a reality. I knew it would eventually happen, but not so soon. While some people might think erasing unpleasant memories is a good idea, I see it as dangerous. Judging by the comments left below the article, I’m not alone.

Read Unison and see what happens when Damon tries to make people happy by erasing their painful memories. It’s  free for download until September 29th. As this is a timely topic, the price will remain at 99¢ until October 5th.

Lexicon, cast sheet and behind the scenes look at what inspired me to write the book is included.

The Flow of Life, the Flow of Story Structure

Before I begin this post, I’d like to announce that I’ll soon be releasing the 2nd edition of Unison that will include a lexicon, cast sheet and behind the scenes look at what inspired me to write this novel.

Life has been very busy as of late. In addition to my writing, I homeschool and have become a soccer mom, girl scout mom and dance class mom. All the running around stressed me out a little, and I grounded myself with mindful awareness meditation. Little did I know that I was about to enter the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey when I was reminded how there are people who will attack you for reasons you may never know. It happened three times in one week! I didn’t respond to these people as I didn’t want to be pulled into their drama, which is what they subconsciously crave. Instead, I offered the individuals who challenged me love and kindness. I meditated until I felt it sincerely in my heart. By not reacting to the negativity, I uncover  lessons I need to learn, and I emerge stronger and more resolute that I’m on the right path. It never ceases to amaze me how negative people can help us grow positively! To quote the message my Higher Self sent me while meditating:

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

That one little message from my meditation has saved me so many times and continues to help me grow. It’s the only way to live a happy and fulfilling life. It’s also something I teach my children. There will always be nasty and vindictive people in the world, and you’ll come out on top if you handle it with grace. You do that by continuing to do what you’re doing. If you’re on the right path, no one can knock you off of it, even with a mack truck!

Now on to the writing stuff!

Throughout these last few difficult weeks, I continued with my editing of The Sixth, which is the second book in the Spheral Series.  As with all my other novels, I plotted it using the hero’s journey and then fine tuned it with Dramatica, which helps me to detect plot holes, even before I begin writing.  The main reason I appreciate Dramatica is it presents the story as a grand argument. It taps into my inner-geek. I find that the emotional hero’s journey, and the intellectual Dramatica have almost a yin-yang quality when used together.  Interestingly, I was focusing on the ordeal stage of the hero’s journey for my story. Talk about synchronicity!

When Art Imitates Life

The ordeal is the eighth plot point in the hero’s journey. Ideally, it should fall at the halfway point of a novel. For some reason, which I’ve yet to figure out, this plot point always gives me the most trouble and is typically the last one to come together for me. And it usually does so when I edit. As I’m an organic writer, I don’t like to force a scene. I know that it will come to me when it’s ready to reveal itself. I was also reserved to the possibility that this story might not need a physical life/death ordeal. I had accomplished that symbolically and emotionally. In Unison, the shift was similar. My protagonist’s old way of thinking was forced out by a revelation that revealed a hidden aspect of himself. However, The Sixth is more of a straight-forward adventure. My intuition told me I needed a more active scene.

Before I went to bed, I’d asked for an ordeal scene to come to me.  I knew where it would most likely happen and envisioned the scene as I’d written it. Moments later, it expanded and played out before me, without words. (Verbal cues typically come to me in the morning, when I’m first waking up).  The next morning I wrote the scene while I sipped my morning Starbucks coffee. I’ll just state here that Stephen King was spot on when he said that if you have a great scene, you don’t have to write it down because you won’t forget it. Phrases are entirely different. I write them down as soon as they come to me.

I was a truly happy writer after I’d completed the scene. It added more intensity, deepened the characterization and foreshadowed the return of the elixir, the last plot point, in part three.

The best stories have constant motion. They keep moving even during lulls, and the goal should always be obvious, even when it isn’t outwardly mentioned. My writer’s intuition has strengthened to the point where I can tell when something is missing. Understanding structure keeps me from having to do many rewrites and gives me the confidence to know my story works before I write the first draft.

Love and light,

Eleni

Jessie’s Song Awarded Bronze Medal

August has been a rewarding month for Visionary Fiction, first with Jodine Turner winning  Honorable Mention in the Global eBook Awards and now with my book, Jessie’s Song,  taking home the  bronze medal in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. My hope is that more visionary fiction authors win awards and bring recognition to this uplifting and thought provoking genre.

I’m pleased that Jessie’s Song has been well received, and my hope is for Unison to meet with similar success. I’m blessed to have found a career that makes me feel complete and is part of my spiritual practice. The biggest reward is that my win helps demonstrate to my daughters the value of hard work. They’re witnesses to the many hours I spend plotting and writing my books. It’s important that I practice what I preach in order for them to see that hard work pays off. It really does!

Love and light,

Eleni

On My Own Hero’s Journey

It’s been a tough month for me as a writer.  I don’t need to get into the details here, but what I will say is that my psychological resolve has been tested, and I’ve come out of it stronger. As usual, mindful awareness meditation saved me.

I’m currently plotting my new novel, The True Vanessa and editing The Sixth, the second book of The Spheral Series. I’ll also be re-releasing Unison sometime in September. It’s going through another edit. There’s nothing wrong with the book. There aren’t any typos, structural problems or anything that would come back and embarrass me. I felt it needed a formal edit to make it the best it could be. And since I’m working on the second book, I see the potential for this series to turn into something big.

I’ve been asked which of my books is my favorite. After two published books, five first drafts and two screenplays that I’ll be turning into novels, I view Unison as my Magnus Opus. It’s the most involved story I’ve ever written, and I still can’t believe I’m its author. I didn’t think I was good enough to pull it off when it unexpectedly blew up into an epic. I had to make charts, graphs, create new worlds and cultures and come up with a scientific concept that connected to my visions. It took lots of research for me to explain it clearly. And even after that, I thought it was too crazy of a concept to present to readers. Being that I was always on the eccentric side, I continued on.

Getting the book to publication took almost everything out of me. I wondered if it was worth all the energy—and money—that I was investing in it. Upon completion, I knew that it was. The characters and story won me over. And now that I’m editing the second book in the series, I’m even more determined. The characters feel so real to me.

Damon, the protagonist, stands for a personal ideal I’m continuously striving for. He’s my hero, epitomizing the power and meaning behind the hero’s journey. Becoming Damon was my own call to adventure, his challenges forced me to jump out of the proverbial box. Each time I wanted to jump back in, he’d throw me another challenge to keep me going. When I felt like giving up, I’d take a day off to rest. A new scene would then come to me, and I’d rush over to my computer to get it down.

I’ve grown both spiritually and as a writer. I learned that the story isn’t about me. It’s about the characters and their journeys as presented to me. It’s about letting go and allowing them to develop organically. I heard a Stephen King interview yesterday where he discussed how he created his characters. He allows them to develop on their own. Although I’m a plotter, it works the same way for me. Inspiration comes from the same place, irrespective of one’s writing style. In Unison, Sephroy, the dingy innkeeper with rotting teeth, was supposed to be a minor character. He now has a starring role because I let him speak for himself. I’ll never forget the day it happened. I jumped out of my chair in disbelief. Sephroy will speak even more in the second book as he shares the narration with Damon and Flora.

A major lesson I’ve learned through all of my writing experiences is that writing to the best of my ability requires faith. It requires that I humble myself and  surrender to inspiration. I  trust that it will give me a better story than anything I can come up with. It always has in the past, which is why I have faith that it will continue to do so.

Book Blog Tour

I’d like to thank everyone who came by for the Summer Splash Blog Hop. It was a successful event, and I enjoyed participating. I’m fortunate to have found Indie Writers Unite. They’ve been a friendly and supportive group, and I’ll definitely participate in their next hop.

My book blog tour for Jessie’s Song officially begins on August 1st. Click here for updates. The page lists all the dates and sites where my posts will be appearing. The tour will be running until October 9th.

Love and light,

Eleni

Interview at The Bookcast

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Bill Thompson over at The Bookcast.  He really is as friendly as he sounds, and he made my first author interview an enjoyable experience. I appreciate how Bill mentioned visionary fiction during the interview and how he also included the genre in the listing. The introduction music he read the synopsis over was very atmospheric. It has a Greek/Arabic goth rock flavor, something Markos would’ve been influenced by during his time spent hanging out at the Limelight. And the same goes for me!

To listen to the interview, click here.

What Bill Thompson is doing with The Bookcast is beneficial for indie authors.  To show your support, please take the time to listen to some of the other interviews on the site and check back often.

Love and light,

Eleni

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jessie's Song by Eleni Papanou

Jessie’s Song

by Eleni Papanou

Giveaway ends August 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Creatives Next on the Pop Psychology Hit List

The war against the individual is moving forward at full speed, and the creatives are next on the list of being targeted for having a mental deficit. As a creative, I see this as dangerous. Equating creative people as having any kind of deficit is the first step to inventing a new mental illness.

A study was conducted on creatives who were put through a series of tests. The creatives scored lower at identifying a large letter that was composed of   smaller ones that were  of a different letter. Creatives were deemed as having a deficit because there was no difference in the way both creatives and non-creatives shifted their focus from tree to forest level focus. The test doesn’t demonstrate any deficit. All it shows is that we’re all different in how we act and perceive things. Technically, the way I see it is that either letter answered would be correct as both are present. I can clearly now see why being  a big picture thinker made it harder for me to take tests at school. I saw too many variables at getting to the answer. This is a major reason why outlining and plotting is so important to me as a writer. I’d be all over the place without them!

I hyper-focus, easily missing things that are happening around me when I’m writing, including a very loud hurricane alarm! This actually happened during the last tsunami warning when I lived in Oahu. I heard it in the back of my mind. I knew what it was, but I didn’t process the information. The next morning, I told my family about it, and I was concerned as to how shut off I was from the outside world. After some reflection, I concluded that on a sub-conscious level, I must’ve known we weren’t in any immediate danger as we lived in an area that was not in the evacuation zone. Not that I trust human calculations and planning when it comes to surviving a natural catastrophe, but that’s a whole other topic, so I’ll end my digression here.

Just how intense is my hyper-focus? My husband told me when I work, I remind him of his autistic friend. Interestingly, the article states something similar by mentioning ADHD and autism.

“The general idea is that [people with ADHD] are not able to focus on anything. But really there are two different parts of the disorder, and one is that if they really get interested in something, they become almost like autistic people: really focused, so much so that they are not able to practice anything else.” 

I find it revealing that they’d mention ADHD and Autism in an article about creatives who supposedly have a mental deficit. The article also states that creatives achieve success by “stubbornly clinging to ideas.”

“The research may help explain why autistic people, who tend to focus obsessively, can often be highly creative. Paradoxically, it may also help explain the link between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and creative success.” Maia Szalavitz (from the linked article)

Apparently having drive and focusing on something until you find success is now a stubborn trait and a mental deficit. If that’s the case, I say, stubborn is great—which I did happen to tell my daughters a while back. I told them that if you’re going to be stubborn, be stubborn where it counts. Be stubborn when it comes to your art and to your interests because that’s what it will take to produce your best work.

From Quirky to ADHD

Before I even clicked on the article, I had a strong suspicion that ADHD was going to be mentioned. There was a book I read that was first printed in the seventies, The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People. Most of the ADHD traits were listed in there:

“Again and Again, the findings from psychological and vocational studies indicate interests in art, music and literature are associated with more neurotic problems.” Carol Eikleberry

If you’d like to read the review I wrote for the book at Amazon way back in 2007, click here. Flash forward to 2013, and we find the article like the one I linked to above. What does all this say about ADHD? Personally, I don’t believe it’s a disease. I’m not here to start a war against those who think it’s real. That’s my personal opinion, and as a person that would’ve been drugged to the max had I grown up at this time, I can state it with authority. I just choose not to label myself as having a mental deficit as I don’t feel that I have one. I prefer to say I have an over-abundance of creative energy, and when I’m not spending it, I certainly exhibit neurotic characteristics. I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in my teens, and that’s another label I ignore now.

ADHD Characters in My Writing

In my stories, I champion the ADHD personality-type. My protagonist in Jessie’s Song deals with his creative energy through music. In Six Pack, which will be released in 2015, my protagonist, finds her focus through bodybuilding. That particular book is semi-autobiographical, and I hope that it will inspire women to nurture their own quirkiness. I struggled to fit in most of my life, but now I appreciate my quirkiness. I told my landlord that when I was a child, I felt like a freak. As an adult, I’m glad to exist outside of the fringe of perceived normality.No. I’m not “normal,” and I say that with pride. We’re all different, and that’s something to celebrate.

Love and light,

Eleni