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Why you must read Astrid ‘Artistikem’ Cruz’s The Caregiver @ Indie Author Land

I was lazily reading my Twitter timeline when I stumbled upon a tweet from Indie Author Land about their author interviews and thought, why not give it a try?

It was super easy to fill the interview form (it’s not one of those super long ones I tend to avoid because they overwhelm me midway) and I love what they did with it. And the best part? It was FREE!

Check out the interview here: www.indieauthorland.com/archives/7299

And go give them some love!

Their website: www.indieauthorland.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/indieauthorland

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IndieAuthorLand

The day I became the protagonist of my own book

These have been some very weird days for me. Since the 6th my life has taken a turn I never foresaw. My sister suffered a stroke that day and died on the 14th. It’s been really hard for me and my parents (we were their only two daughters). Add to that another friend in the hospital and a close friend of my husband dying on the 21st and you get the picture.

However, what’s been even weirder is how all of a sudden I found myself inside my protagonist’s skin. The Beast (Book 3 of The Caregiver Series) will come out this month and the situation with my sister felt as if taken from the first chapters of that book. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but it all begins in a hospital during Christmas time. Exactly like it was for me and my family. The long corridors, the uncertainty, even the Christmas tree I, like Scarlett, wanted to rip off the wall.

There’s a point in the story where Armand, sensing Scarlett’s distress, brings her a pint of chocolate ice cream. My husband hasn’t read the manuscript, so he had no idea about it when he came home during my sister’s hospital ordeal with a pint of chocolate ice cream in an effort to cheer me up. It was a shock, to say the least, but I like to think it prepared me for what it was to come. It was a confirmation that I was, indeed, living my own writing.

I like to think it gave me the courage to tell my sister to let go if she had to while she was under an induced coma, that everything would be all right, that there was nothing she should worry about.

They say one should write about stuff one knows. When I wrote those first chapters of Book 3 I hadn’t been through anything like it. Now that I have and have reread them, I can’t help but feel the sudden chills running through my system because I recognize myself in those words, in those paragraphs, and in those conflicted feelings.

Now I feel closer to Scarlett than ever before and that can only mean that writing Book 4 will be even a wilder roller coaster than Book 3 was. And that’s a lot to say.

The Caregiver Series new covers and unveiling of Book 3′s.

The Caregiver Series new covers and unveiling of Book 3's.

What started as a standalone short story grew into a series. Now that the release of Book 3, THE BEAST, is only months away and book 4 is in the brainstorming phase, I believe the series needed a design overhaul and here’s the result.

Check out the covers of THE CAREGIVER and TORN live at the Kindle Store by clicking on the picture.

Book 2 is coming!

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We all know Scarlett’s choice will be her trusty rifle, or maybe her knife, or her Glock 17… Thing is, whatever you have in hand, hold on to it because Book 2 is on its way! A forced trip to the Caribbean will make Scarlett face the demons of her past while trying to keep her present and future together. Lots of action, new characters, and the dis-pleasure of meeting some downright mofo villains, oh, and don’t forget the famous grandfather, Adrian Lang. Revelations, explanations, confrontations. You don’t want to miss this.

I’ll start posting chapters soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

TLM Blog Tour 2013: Todd Keisling’s The Liminal Man or My Valentine’s Date

Years ago I used to do something that, deep inside, felt a little weird from my part. I’d be walking around a mall or a street full of people just looking into their faces, looking hard for signs of something else, maybe something grand. I don’t really know what I was looking for, but I do know what I found in almost all of them: conformity. And I had to ask myself “do these people have no aspirations? How can they go on with a dull existence?”

It must sound like an arrogant thing to think or say, however, when I read the first book in Todd Keisling’s Monochrome Trilogy, A Life Transparent (go get it while it’s free!! It even hit the Top 10 in Horror for the Kindle this week!) I realized I wasn’t alone and, furthermore, that those thoughts and those questions could save my life.

I’m not much of a horror reader, actually, I’m pretty easy to scare, so I often walk away from this genre. But Todd’s writing isn’t the senseless kind of horror that just gives you the creeps without an underlying message. His writing is neat, full of detail and, I must say, beautiful. It’s a pleasure to read what he writes, even if it’s about the Yawning (these huge monsters that can swallow you whole) or the Cretins (these little white dudes that speak in a reverse language and have attitude problems).

In the first book the protagonist, Donovan Candle, had a nice scare and a second chance to change his path and not flicker out of existence (The Spectrum) and into The Monochrome. Thing is, second chances don’t always go as planned and, even though he did change his ways and started to live a more fulfilling existence, he did give up on his dreams. And that’s a big No-No!

The Liminal Man, second book of the trilogy, takes us on a journey where Donovan is standing right in the middle of it. He’s changed, but not enough. In Aleister Dullington and Dr. Sparrow’s words: “You’re the insane one, Mr. Candle. You’re the cause of your own failure. The question is, what will you do about it when the time comes? Well, I will give you a hint –you need to act. [...] You have been charged with the sin of inaction.” Ouch.  “You replaced mediocrity with a new addiction: complacency.” Double ouch.

What I loved about this second book was the addition of insights into other victims of The Monochrome, especially young ones. We all think conformity comes from years and years of that “inaction” and it was nice to see that it’s not so. Conformity can come at any age, just follow all those rules we’re imposed by society, give up on doing whatever fancies your creativity, and you’ll hit it face first.

Don’t, just don’t. Repeat after Donovan: “I WAS MEANT FOR MORE THAN THIS!”

Now don’t be dull and get Todd’s books on Amazon, you’ll thank him, believe me. Or better yet, he’s having a Rafflecopter giveaway where you can win his books and other goodies!

P.S. Read about his character development process at the Meta-Writing blog.

Originally posted on Darlene Craviotto:

Astrid’s first question that she emailed me was a good one.

How do you write a screenplay?

“I took only one screenwriting class during my BA and, to this day, I’ve only managed to complete very short scripts,” she wrote.  “Every time I sit down to write a screenplay I find that I want to write all sorts of stuff (thoughts and philosophical pondering) that will never be transformed into action.”

She’s right – It won’t.

“How do you deal with the economic language supposed to reign in scripts?” Astrid wanted to know.

If you write books, short stories, or anything other than screenplays, you’re going to have to  change your writing style.  Here’s what you need to remember – Always think of writing for film as utilizing only two elements:

1) Action (Show it, don’t tell us about it).

2) Dialogue (Skip the long speeches unless it’s an Oscar…

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Originally posted on Darlene Craviotto:

(This is the first post of an ongoing series, Emails to a Young Screenwriter.  If you haven’t read the introduction to the series, you’ll find it at So You Want To Be A Screenwriter?)

A script is a dream that’s been captured on paper – by a screenwriter.

We take that dream and give it structure, inhabit it with people, give it motion, and make it into a story.  We shape that story into a script.  And it’s our script that captures the imagination, the talents, and the hard work of a few hundred people working together to make that dream into something real – a film.

Astrid Cruz knows all about dreams – she’s a writer, a filmmaker, a student.  Each one of those roles finds its raison d’être in chasing dreams.  She’s not new to the craft of stringing words together and using those words to…

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Artistikem:

I almost never enter contests because I’ve never been as lucky as some other people. This time, something in my gut told me to give it a shot and I’m glad I did, because it gave me the opportunity of a lifetime: a Q&A with a professional screenwriter! Don’t miss this, you’ll regret it (as I would’ve regretted not entering the contest in the first place!).

Originally posted on Darlene Craviotto:

Darlene the Tour GuideA couple of months ago a wonderful blogger named Jen Owenby emailed me and asked if she could do a contest involving my book, An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood.  She had read it earlier in the year and really enjoyed it.  She also discovered my website, contacted me, and we started exchanging emails. I was honored that she had chosen my book as one that she wanted to talk about on her website, so I said yes.

Astrid

Astrid “Artistikem” Cruz

I was a little embarrassed when Jen wrote her post about the book and me,  but I liked the idea that six people would get a chance to read my book.  After all, that’s why I wrote it – for people to read.  Jen randomly was going to choose five lucky winners who would win a copy of the book, and one extra lucky person also would have…

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On Aaron Swartz and Academic Publishing

I will say this from the bottom of my heart because, even though I didn’t know about Swartz until his death, the whole thing has moved me greatly. Especially after reading about Anonymous’s attack on MIT’s websites.

I’ve worked in the academia, now a grad student, I know how much pressure is put on students and professors to get published in academic journals. There’s a sense of validation in seeing your name in one of those. All of a sudden you’re one of THEM, the academics.

But when you think deep about it, there’s something they aren’t telling you. It was something a professor brought to my mind during a conversation about self-publishing: “academic journals don’t use crowdsourcing, they use free slave labor.” Of course, some people might say nobody is pointing a gun at you to publish there, but, in a sense, there is one and you can feel its cold metal pressing on your temple every time a little more. Because if you’re a professor under a contract you’re evaluated on how much you publish and where you publish it, and when the accreditation council comes they want to see those numbers and they better be some pretty darn big ones.

What happens to that article you put your sweat and tears into then? It goes off to be part of the giant databases that are then sold to libraries. Who makes the money? The publisher and the database, not you. You sent it over, willingly, for free. Those hours you spent researching? Writing? Going through the corrections the peer review team sent you? Hey, you’re name will be shown there, come on, that’s all you want, right?

Then a student logs into the database from his/her university’s library and, oh wait, the exact article he/she wants has another fee that must be paid to access it. Where’s that democratization the Web 2.0 preaches about now?

I’m not saying that what Aaron Swartz did wasn’t stealing. But who’s stealing from who? I don’t know you, but when someone takes something someone else made and makes a profit out of it, it’s ground to piss off whoever was the original author. You write those articles so they be read, not kept hidden where only few can access them.

“Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for – freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it – enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing – an ideal that we should all support. ” (Anonymous on MIT’s website, taken from article linked above)

Collective betterment is what we all, inside and outside the academia, should strive for and that can only come from a true democratization of information through the Internet.

“We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all” (Anonymous on MIT’s website, taken from article linked above)

Thank you, Aaron, for trying to make the world a better place by feeding it, so sorry it bit your hand.

Read more:

Prosecutor as bully by Lawrence Lessig

RIP, Aaron Swartz by Cory Doctorow

10 years ago he even planned for his hard drives to go public if he died

Oh, hai 2013!

2012 is almost over here in Puerto Rico and I thought I’d write an end of the year post since I’ve been silent for quite a while.

On my 27th birthday my husband said this exact words to me: “Now you’ve got only 3 years to become someone.”

Some people think it sounds harsh but, to me, they were an eyeopener. Since then, I’ve been climbing up that mountain and not letting anyone stop me.

Self-publishing a book, being a semester away from finishing my Masters, cutting my hair to donate it to Locks of Love encouraged by my good friend Sheena Ashby (for whom I kindly ask you to donate here), and a super exciting project that is already in production: a short film with actors from around the world reading my poem ‘A Study on Character Development‘.

12 countries already confirmed, video submissions trickling in, this will be one project to watch.

I’ve knocked on a lot of doors and, slowly but surely, they’re opening for me. Met some wonderful people, reconnected with others I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Going back, 2012 hasn’t sucked at all. And, even if we all fall down the fiscal cliff, I know 2013 will bring, if not money, many other wonderful things.

May we all fight the good fight.

Have a safe New Year’s Eve!