Friday, March 22, 2019

Beta Cover Time!!! #barrioblues

I am really excited about the beta cover above, not because it's a masterpiece, but because I finally bought Photo Shop!  Actually, I bought the whole suite with a monthly subscription.  Well, as it turns out, I haven't completely lost my skills.  I was pretty good with the software over ten years ago, when I was a web designer.  Yeah, that too.  The program is a lot easier to use, but a class in graphic design wouldn't hurt.  I can take one for free this summer.  In any case, I can vastly improve all of the covers on my books, even with the skills I have. 

Enough of that.  About the cover design.  I decided to have the word Zona placed vertically because it’s more visually appealing.  The photo by lalesh aldarwish also has a macabre feel to it, which I like; I gave the artist a small donation because we artists have to stick together.  For the first time, I am incorporating a pull quote, but it needs more edge.  Would “A hero junkie will rise from the streets” draw you in as a reader?  I am not 100% sold on it, but I like where it is placed.

So, it's down to the wire, and I am going over my story "Zona 5" like a boss!  I also got great feedback regarding the dialogue of my characters and other aspects of the story.  I was told to have the narrator curse less, and I remembered the piece "Cold Little Bird."  The narrator can have edge and not curse like a sailor; the occasional expletive was enough.  I also decided to remove the swearing from the narration because it is not first-person point of view.  Anyway, I still love the story, which is why I need beta readers.  It's like dating someone for the first time, and everything is wonderful, wonderful. Ha ha ha.

Finally, I invite you once again to my first-ever virtual book-release party where I will be reading part of my story. The April 1 party will be Live Streamed via Facebook.  I also have author Todd Heldt lined up to speak at this first or my larger book party, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 13.  (It really depends on who is taking care of the kids, I think, as we both have small children.)  The second, April 13, party will be a hybrid face-to-face Live Streamed party because I am going to imbibe spirits after I read and really celebrate my book Not Your Abuelita's Folktales.  That is a book I plan to publish through Ingram and Amazon in the hopes that libraries will take it.

Well, have a great day getting perspective on your writing, even if it hurts.

Write, write, write and thank your support team!  #barrioblues.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Zoé - Azul

Friday, February 08, 2019

Dialogue and Birthday Weekend Writing Goal #barrioblues

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about yesterday's dialogue lecture I gave to my creative writing students.  There was a lot of great advice in that lecture that I need to take or reaffirm.  Like, remember that less is more.  Dialogue should move the story along.  And of course, analyze the dialogue from favorite stories and novels (like Misery).  Sometimes going back to the basics is a great idea, especially when you are in a writing funk, which apparently I am in right now.  Again.

Regardless, this weekend, I have the grandiose goal of finishing my short story collection.  It's become grandiose because I have been making a big mountain out of my writing, instead of putting hard work into it and enjoying the process.

One of the issues with the last story is that the main character's overall desire is not clear.  She wants to go to college, but she is struggling financially, since her father abandoned her.  Maybe that could be her goal, getting to college.  She is also dealing with the bullshit of being a teenager and social pressures to lose her virginity.

Anyway, I'm going to write through the muck because it's not a word vomit sort of day.  I am also going to evaluate my writing schedule; I haven't been getting up to write at 3a.m. like I have in the past, and when I was getting up, I was too tired to write because of my regular job.  Evening writing is out of the question, so I may have to start getting up at 5a.m. and just work for an hour because evenings are almost impossible, since I make dinner for the kids and grade papers or read.  We will see.

(And just like that I produced about five more pages.  Thank God!)

Write through the muck or migraines or children making noise like you have 20 instead of 2. #barrioblues

Follow My Goodreads Author Site for My Birthday #barrioblues

Do you Goodreads?  It's the day before I level up!  Follow my Goodreads author site.

I'm shooting for 20 followers this month.  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18132635.Maria_J_Estrada

I follow back.  Thank you!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

When Do You Reveal Your Main Character's Identity? #barrioblues

 The question hit home for me as I was reading Misery for the first time. In that story, you don't know the main character's full name until chapter 3 or so. You find out more about his identity in later chapters, an identity which of course is central to the story.  Obviously, a short story is, well, shorter, but I was looking through my own introductions, and sure enough, often I start with the main character's name.  


So, I started tweaking the introduction of the third story in my collection Not Your Abuelita's Folktales.  I do think the introduction below reads better, although I introduced two main characters in the same paragraph, which I will have to revise later.  There are so many elements to consider, but first thing's first.

I have to finish all the stories before I take them apart and put them back together like a gorgeous puzzle.  The work has to develop in the right stages, with time, and I have this vision of a nestling that has already hatched, has grown but should not be set off to fly too soon.  Or else, it will crash and die.

Well, I'm off to write and write and write some more.

Analyze to improve, but don't rip your work apart.  #barrioblues
   

*****************
"El Encantado" (The Enchanted One)


He spied her in the mirror’s reflection. She had gorgeous golden hair and almost silver eyes. Her face had what the gueros called a sweet heart shape, though a bit elongated, with a perfect nose and kissable lips. Her eyes are what had attracted him the most; she had enormous, kind eyes that never judged anyone. Her skin was flawless, and he swore glowed. She was slender like an alfalfa stalk, and when she smiled and eyes sparkled, his heart would melt. If her father could see him spying from the window, he would shoot him on the spot. He peeked over the expansive ranch-style window, with imprisoning bars, but she was so absorbed with her primping and beautifying that she paid no mind to him. It was a hot July summer day, in Yuma, Arizona, and despite the heat she looked fresh. How did she manage to keep her hair so bouncy when he was sweating like a pig? “Girl, you’re perfect. You don’t need all of that on your face,” he whispered, tracing a circle around his own face.
            An acidic hiss startled him out of his adoration. There was the ugly black mangy cat she loved so much, Nightling. It hissed again with all of its hair standing on end.
            “Mind your own business!” he hissed back. He peeked one more time through the window, and she looked up, but he ducked before she saw him. Beto crept back towards the desert. The ugly trailer he called home was just over the wall, just a five-minute walk away. As he neared the property's end, he felt the hot breath of Mr. Stan’s hideous Rottweiler on his backside. It snarled and snapped sending spittle at his face. Beto screamed and ran so fast, he didn’t hear the cacophony of barks that followed his trail. The ugly beast neared and nipped so many times, but each time, Beto managed to avoid getting mangled or killed and practically leaped over the adobe wall that surrounded her property.
            The dog only stopped and spun around when Sarah Isabelle Stan’s dulcet cries called him back. He wished with all of his heart she would someday call out to him like that. “Beto,” he whispered sweetly, imitating her voice in a high tone, “Oh, Beto, you’re so amazing! Damn, no one plays ball like you.” He took off his baseball shirt and mopped his brow.  A. Andrades it read in embroidered black letters in the back, but he didn’t go by Alberto, but Beto for short. He took a deep breath, put his jersey back on, and left.
*****************

Monday, October 22, 2018

Signs of Life a.k.a. Don't Let Sales Bring You Down #barrioblues

I'm going to write about something taboo, I suspect. But, screw it.  It happens to everybody who self-publishes, I suspect.  Maybe even folks who publish traditionally get these blues.  You stare at your sales and wonder why they have flat lined.  Surely your book merits a download or two.  What is wrong with people?

Well, like the amateur that I am, I started to let the lack of sales bum me out.  Then, I sold four copies!  All is well in the Jesú universe again.

What really troubles me, of course, is when I find a gem like Jukebox Loser that hasn't gotten much exposure.  How can that happen to such a great book?  I have my books being advertised on at least four independent sites and Amazon, and  I know more needs to be done.

Anyway, I also uplifted my own spirits because I had been complaining that I can't get up in the mornings to write.  So, I decided to sit my butt on the chair and just go.  I am currently working on The Awakening (#3 in La Bruja del Barrio Loco Series).  It is another speculative fiction piece about witchcraft, but it takes place in the future.  Stay tuned.  I'm not giving myself arbitrary deadlines, just putting books out in their due time.

Well, I am about to pester the designer of my last book because even though it looks cool in print, the e-book cover is hard to read digitally.  I may have to go with the white font color altogether.  I also am working with my friend who took the author photos.  He is going to do me a solid and design the cover of my short story collection for free because my union could go on strike, and I did invest way too much money on the last four books.  (Don't ask me how much.)

Uplift yourself and keep writing!  #barrioblues