Tag Archives: personal

Trying to get back in the rhythm of things… again

Do I even have to say ‘ARGH!‘ I mean, first I go on vacation (okay, so I definitely needed that), then I have a mad dash to finish last years projects. I get them done, but then, just as I’m starting to get back into my projects and things begin moving in the right direction, I get sick and spend a month basically out of commission (what can I say, writing is one of those things you really shouldn’t attempt when your brain seems to have been reduced to some sort of a bloody goo that threatens to leak out of your ears). Now that I’m finally almost back to normal I am trying to get reacquainted with my projects, but the truth is that it’s been something of a struggle. I think part of the problem is that, even though I’m doing better, I’m still in no shape to work as many hours as I usually do, but at the same time I am reluctant to cut back in my number of hours for fear of losing my rhythm, that leaves me pretending to work on one of those projects, and that in turn feels like cheating, something that annoys me to no end.

Oh, well, next week I’ll probably try to rearrange things so that a book that is being revised, rather than one that is currently being written, will wind up with that last position of the day, and hopefully that will make it possible for me to get back on track, but somehow I get the feeling that my schedule for 2014 is effectively shot.


Today I called my dad on Skype. It’s something I do often, but this time around it got me thinking… and trying to imagine what my life would have been like if such a service had been an option back when I was growing up. You see, I grew up basically half a world away from most of my family. In those days even an international phone call was a luxury, and I remember that almost as soon as I was old enough to write, writing a letter to my grandparents became an integral part of my Sunday routine. I would write a letter, have one of my parents proof it to make sure I wasn’t mentioning anything I wasn’t supposed to, and then I would write the envelope (the hope was that the fact that it was a child’s scrawl would get the letter past the post office unopened… let’s just say that there was a reason I was living half a world away from my grandparents, and leave it at that). In time phone calls became less expensive and the letter-writing fell by the wayside, but the thing is that in a way my grandparents, to say nothing of some of my aunts, uncles and cousins, remained virtual strangers (a phone call to my grandparents was a luxury, a phone call to my cousins was unthinkable).

My grandparents are gone now, and none of them ever got to use a computer at all. As for the rest of my family, we have made some efforts to reconnect over the years, but the truth is that (at least as far as I was concerned) by the time computers came along, too long had passed. Most of them were (and some of them still are) names without faces, so I wonder what Skype would have meant for my family back then. I don’t know, I can only imagine.

A nameless kitten’s story

Back in March, a couple of blocks from home, I saw a kitten sitting outside of a vacant lot. It was about six weeks old and absolutely adorable. I tried to approach it but it scrambled under the fence and there was no way I could follow. A couple of days later I saw it again, and I asked a shopkeeper whether or not that kitten had a human. The man told me that, as far as he knew, it had been abandoned. A few more days went by and I saw it again. This time I tried to catch it, but again it managed to slip away from me. I was about to go away for a couple of weeks, and I didn’t have anyone lines up to look after such a kitten, plus I knew that bringing it home would make my dog jealous and I knew she was going to have enough trouble dealing with the fact that I was going to be gone for two weeks anyway, so I reluctantly walked away.

Anyway, I figured that the kitten was so adorable that someone was bound to adopt it in my absence, but I was determined that, if the kitten was still there by the time I came back, I was going to adopt it myself. Sure enough, when I came back two weeks later the kitten was still there… dead just inside that fence. That day I learned a pretty harsh lesson about taking action and doing the right thing when the opportunity presents itself and not when it suits my schedule. I guess that was one of the reasons why, when a dog that was either lost or abandoned followed me home a few weeks ago, I didn’t hesitate to take him in. In the two blocks he had followed me it had become painfully obvious that that dog didn’t have a clue of how to cross a street and after what had happened with that kitten I dreaded the idea that the next time I walked out the door I would find that he had been run over by a car or something like that. So here he is, in part because of that nameless kitten, a kitten I failed to help, but one that taught me a lesson I hope never to forget.

Updates, updates, updates

As you may have noticed, we have (the beginning of) a new look.

Anyway, the truth is that I’ve been working behind the scenes to shake things up and in the next couple of days those changes will gradually be going live. One of those changes is that this blog now serves as the homepage. A series of links that will get you to the older parts of this site are available via the menu above.

Also, my new books have been officially released. As soon as they are added to the amazon database I’ll be uploading the excerpts.

I hope you’ll like them, and sorry if things are a bit chaotic for the time being!

Er… update? Okay, the books are now live and the updates are done. Phew, I’m so glad that one’s over!

When the mind gets stubborn

Okay, I seem to have hit something of a brick wall. I am still working on book three of Citlalli, but somehow I have this idea that seems to be like a mosquito between my ears that insists that I should write it first. Seeing how it looks like it’s going to be a short story I decided not to fight it (and I have to admit that now that I’ve decided to just run with it I feel much better).

Well, on the bright side we have that, if I can finish a first draft within a reasonable amount of time, it will probably do nicely as a secondary project. That is something I’ve been struggling for a while, as I like to write one book while I review or translate another, but all of a sudden I had found myself with three projects in the ‘to write’ category, and none in the ‘to review’ one (as for the ‘to translate’ thing, I admit that I find both Soulless and Citlalli a little too daunting).

News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

Well it looks like I am going to wind up with two versions of these two books. It may not be what I intended, but in a really twisted kind of way I think it may end up being for the best.

What happened was that while I was working on the interior layout of Citlalli and the Shards of Light I decided to go for a different font and a bit more space between the lines than the one I had used in book one (in fact I decided to go for what was basically the same layout I had used for Laira). The obsessive in me wasn’t particularly happy at the thought that I was going to wind up with two different layouts in two books that were part of the same series, so I decided to update the layout of the first book while I was at it… and then I was made aware of the  fact that not only was there a fee for updating the files of a book that had been signed up for CreateSpace’s expanded distribution package, but also that if the page count changed by more than 10% I was going to need different new ISBN anyway (and seeing how that page count was going to jump from something like 372 to 436, that was definitely me). That was not a happy thought, and then the situation was compounded by the fact that I was going to have to increase the price of Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind from $17.95 to $19.95 just to keep the title commercially viable using the expanded distribution. Things were not looking good, and I was seriously considering the possibility of scraping the whole thing and just learning to live with those two different layout, but then I decided to turn CreateSpace’s update policy to my (and hopefully your) advantage. Continue reading News about Soulless and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind

Dulling the world

Yesterday I came across an article in Yahoo that really bothered me.  It was called ‘Don’t Let Your Kids Study These Majors’, and as you can probably tell it tells parents to despair if their children dare to dream of becoming something as despicable as an architect, an artist, a philosopher, an archaeologist, an anthropologist or a film-maker… scratch that, it tells parents to despair if their children dare to dream, period.

So what wonderful alternative majors does this article have in mind  as  being a far more sensible choice for these misinformed youths who dream of pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge, or who love beauty. Well, there is accounting, elementary  education, finance, business and healthcare administration.

Now, these are all fine majors if you are passionate about those fields, but while it is true that you have to choose a major with an eye on you professional future, there is more to life that dollars and cents, and pushing kids into fields they hate because it is more ‘sensible’ seems like a terrible idea to me.

Let’s face it, a budding philosopher who despises math would probably make a terrible accountant anyway. Continue reading Dulling the world

As if I didn’t have enough to do already

ARGH! Okay, so here I am, barely keeping up with my active projects as it is, when my brain has the bright idea of coming up with… another idea. In other words, to the release of four new titles and the two books that were currently being written (plus this blog and maybe a side order of, you know, LIFE) I have now added a novella. I’m not sure when/if it will ever be published, but it was one of those concepts wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down, and the truth is that I am having a lot of fun with it, so I’m not really complaining about that. It’s not that I don’t love what I’m doing, it’s just that there’s a fixed number of hours per day, and there’s a limit as to how far I can cut back in such trifles as sleep.

CreateSpace, an update

Almost a year ago, as I was getting ready to release Soulless, Laira, and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, I wrote a post in which I tried to explain my decision to switch from Vitrual Bookworm to CreateSpace.  I admit that at the time I was somewhat worried about how that one was going to turn out. Now, as I prepare to release the next batch of titles, I am happy to say that for the most part my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one.

Yes, I still feel that if you don’t know what you are getting into, have never had anything to do with the publishing business before, and you want to have the comfort of knowing that there is someone in charge you can talk to, who will listen to your concerns, know your name, take care of the details, and who will actually be in a position to help you out if you run into trouble,  you may well be better off with a well-established, small to mid sized publisher that charges a reasonable fee, even if the they can’t match what CreateSpace  has to offer in terms of royalties. Of course, the key words in that statement are ‘well-established’ and ‘reasonable fee’ because this is one field in which there are way too many scam artists. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is one instance in which the belief that ‘you get what you pay for’ will probably come back to bite you. Remember that if your setup fee is more than five hundred times your royalties per copy sold via external channels chances are seriously against you ever breaking even.

Anyway, and getting back to the subject of CreateSpace,  I have to say that, in addition to the fact that you don’t get as much support as you would with a (good) smaller outfit,  I also remain convinced that the issues with CreateSpace‘s TOS (namely the fact that they reserve the right to make any changes they see fit) are a problem. In spite of that, at least for experienced authors who can supply their own cover and their own interior layout (and who are not above playing a round or two of contractual Russian roulette), they offer what is by far the best deal out there. They provide a very efficient service, and a finished product that has a reasonable quality (thought there may be some minor issues with curling covers under certain condition, and with the printing of interior images).  I can also say that, for the most part, the system works as advertised.

BTW, while I mentioned above that a personalized customer support is one of the big advantages of a more traditional publisher, that doesn’t mean that you have no recourse when dealing with CreateSpace. Their customer support is pretty reliable (for the most part), and they will (usually) do their best to help you if you run into trouble, so you are not entirely on your own. It’s just that you don’t have a specific contact you can address your concerns to, and that precisely because they have a such a large staff, you never know what you are going to get.

And finally, in the comparison I gave CreateSpace three stars out of four, but that was based on how they compared to other the other publishers, and it did include their layout and cover design packages, which may have distorted things a bit. If I were to evaluate CreateSpace based only the company’s own merits, without the design extras, and using a one to five scale, I would probably give it four stars for experienced authors, and three for newbies who are at least somewhat familiar with the basics of the publishing business.

Life is slowly going back to normal!

At last, my life seems to be returning to some semblance of normalcy. No, I’m not quite done with all those projects yet, but almost… now I just have to get back in the rhythm of things!

I’ll try to post something about what I’m reading in the next couple of days, but right now I just want to SLEEEEEEPP! (not likely to happen though, not seeing how it’s the middle of the morning and the big lightbulb in the sky doesn’t exactly have an on and off switch).

Thoughts on amazon’s purchase of goodreads

NOOOOO!!! That about sums up my first reaction when I heard that amazon had purchased goodreads… at least as a reader. As a writer, and as an author that is actually published by CreateSpace, I know this may actually turn out to be a good thing, but the truth is that I was there mostly as a reader. In fact goodreads was the only social network I was sort of active in, now I am left to try to figure out what am I going to do about it all because the keyword in that statement is ‘was’.

As far as I am concerned there is a pretty big difference between connecting over books with other readers via a relatively small, independent network, and opening my reading nook to a large corporation. To me that’s a game-changer… and on top of that I have to admit that my experiences dealing with amazon properties have been decidedly mixed. As a customer I admit they are extremely effective, as a writer my experiences with CreateSpace have been great, but when it comes to their AuthorCentral, the property that most resembles goodreads itself, my experience was a total nightmare, so much so that I decided to end my affiliation with that service… only to be told that I was not allowed to do that, that once I had signed up, so I was basically screwed. It is that experience, that inability to terminate my affiliation with their program, that now makes me so wary of continuing my affiliation with goodreads.

So what am I going to do? The truth is that I’m not sure. For now I guess I’m going to be moving mostly to lurker mode, I may also choose to delete some of my personal information, not that that’s going to do me much good at this stage, and I will abandon the reading challenge. Yes, I will go on reading, and I would love to be able to keep sharing my thoughts on what I read, but I would much rather do this without the mighty amazon looking over my shoulder, so any comments I write will be now restricted to my own blog, where I can be certain I will remain in control of my content.

Still, in spite of everything, and of the fact that I am mourning the death of the goodreads I used to love, I consider this a lesson learned: small private networks may seem like a great alternative to behemoths such as facebook, Google and company, but successful, small. independent networks are also attractive targets for takeovers by large, greedy corporations, and that means that choosing to participate in a small network doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself suddenly in the clutches of a large one… whether you want to or not.


The past twelve months have been fairly productive ones –in fact they were great in that regard, so I’m most definitely no complaining about that– but today is one of those days in which I feel like I am being pulled in a dozen different directions. Right now I’m trying to put the finishing touches on last year’s projects. There are four of them. There is the sequel to Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, a fully revised version of Scales at a Glance, and two translations (Laira and Scales… are about to be released in Spanish). Anyway, each one of these four books must be proof-read one last time, formatted (and believe me when I say that that is not and easy task when it comes to the two versions of Scales, which feature about a gazillion figures each) and then there is the whole cover design thing. Oh, and if that weren’t enough there is also a blog that has to be updated, not to mention that I’m already working on two new projects and those too demand their share of time (those would be the third part of Citlalli and a sort of history book). I know this is just the final push and that it will be over in a couple of weeks, but I freely admit that at times the balancing act gets to be a little too much for me… I mean, right now I feel like I could really use a twenty-eight hour day! That wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t because today I got so overwhelmed that I would up getting distracted and didn’t even do the things I was supposed to do. That is one of my problems. As soon as I realize that there’s no way I’m going to get everything done I tend to get disorganized.

Well, there are worse things in this world. Here’s hoping that tomorrow things will work out a little better!

The last generation

I have been reading quite a bit lately about a book called What to Expect When No One Is Expecting about the coming demographic collapse and why the fact that since the end of the much-hyped baby-boom more than forty years ago fertility has taken a nosedive. Now, I freely admit that I haven’t read the book, in fact I have no intention of reading it either, but I have gone over the list of contributing factors (contraception, abortion, women daring to work and have interests of their own, and the costs involved in bringing up a single little bundle of snot)… and the truth is that I have found it highly entertaining.

Sorry, I know I should be taking this seriously, and I agree that the whole cost thing probably does play a role, but I suspect that even there the book is coming at it from a different angle. Anyway, the thing is that most of the commentaries I’ve encountered (okay, let’s be honest, what I’ve read are mostly criticisms) focus primarily either on explaining why the data is flawed and the demographic decline is not really such a big deal, or on explaining why arguing that women should just shut up, shelve their ambitions, and go back to making babies is wrong. As a college educated, middle-class woman with no kids I would like to offer my own perspective (and I must say that this list in unlikely to make anyone happy):

Continue reading The last generation