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Becoming Human Again

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while but had my doubts (or maybe I was just going in circles about it in my head). I wanted to write it once I had something positive to say instead of just whining further than I’ve done on FB and Twitter.

Then my husband woke up saying “I hate waking up and feeling like I’m a 100 years old.”

Have you heard of Chikungunya? If not, here’s some info.

We’ve been dealing with it for a month now and it’s been a relentless attack on our bodies. While everyone’s freaking out about ebola, in the Caribbean we’ve been taken down by the thousands by this mosquito transmitted virus with symptoms that include fever, rash (and subsequent itch), and most of all: arthralgia (horrible horrible joint pain and swelling).

My rash got pretty nasty at one point; hubby’s not so much.

I’ve dealt with arthritis my whole life, Carpal Tunnel for most of it, but this shit feels like someone’s breaking your bones. For real. The first night my husband and I spent with fever and chills and pain (we got it both at the same time, isn’t that splendid) he says I kept screaming in my sleep. He might have been confusing my extreme whining with screams thanks to his fever-induced hallucinations (he spoke incoherently for a while) but all I was asking for in my head was for whomever was trying to break my legs to go ahead and do it already so we could be done with it.

That went on for two nights but the pain in the joints, mostly hands and feet, has stayed with us. And the best part? Scientific papers I’ve read around say this thing can last for 2-3 years with coming and going symptoms. I’ve spoken to people that have been suffering from sporadic bouts of the rash (which I still get whenever I stress my body being either getting super angry or exercising) and the swelling and pain for six months.

Of around 17 people we know personally around our neighborhood, 10 have gotten it. The rest are waiting patiently to get bitten since an epidemiologist said we’ll all get it sooner or later. Everywhere you go there are people talking about it or physically unable to do stuff because of it.

I still can’t close my hands in a fist, my fingers feel numb all the time, and even when I’ve gone back to doing mild crossfit, fatigue sets in pretty quickly and I have to take longer rests than before. To think the whole island population will be going through this at some point (since there’s no vaccine or treatment other than pain killers and lots of vitamin C) and that it can last for so long scares me to no end.

Local singer Glenn Monroig said on TV: this is a crash course on getting old. I’ll add it’s a crash course on feeling fucked up and unable to continue with even the most basic daily stuff.

As a writer I’ve always been afraid of losing the ability to use my hands. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Modigliani after he’s beaten up and keeps asking about his hands and I must say that after a long writing session it feels like someone’s stepped on them several times but I’m pushing through and almost done with that sci-fi fantasy manuscript I was supposed to send to my editor that same week this shit started. :P

So that’s it for me. If you live in the island please try not to get bitten by this evil mosquito. If you don’t live in the island then now you know there are thousands of Caribbeans suffering from this chickenshit that you’ve probably haven’t even heard about.

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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