Category Archives: Healers

This Girl Is On Fire

The latest addition to my Karina Vega play list…


The Kindness Of Strangers And Friends In Need

Two days.

That’s how long it took for Healers to make it to #4 on the Kindle Science Fiction High-Tech list, #22 on the Kindle Science Fiction list, and #432 on the overall Kindle free list (from #390,000ish the previous day).

Healers entered a five-day free promotion on Friday at 00:00. I had hoped the free promotion would get the book a little closer to the surface, because a book ranked in the 390,000s technically doesn’t exist (I can attest to that, as I couldn’t find my book in search results on Amazon, including when I searched for “Healers” specifically–no kidding). And when you hope to someday make a living as a “real” author, that can be a little disheartening. Though, in all fairness, I didn’t make any significant efforts to market Healers — and I’m still not, as I’d like the full Carpe Terram Trilogy to be on the market before I give marketing a real shot.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up on Friday to find my book had climbed the ranks over night to make it to #19 on the Science Fiction / High Tech list and #3,384 on the overall Kindle free list. I had a flight to catch that morning and I almost missed it because I couldn’t un-glue myself from my computer screen. By the time I made it to my hotel in Salt Lake City in the afternoon, the book had climbed further, and by Saturday morning it made it to the numbers I shared in the first paragraph.

So what happened?

Well, the first happening was the lovely editor at Free Ebooks Daily, who agreed to feature Healers on her Friday free list after I submitted it on the site. No charge, no begging. She responded shortly after I submitted the book and told me she was going to run the book on Friday.

She is the kind stranger in the title. I’m always amazed at all the angels scattered around the world who help others out of sheer kindness, or conviction, or desire to make a difference. Sharrel — and others like her — helps authors spread word about their books, and readers learn about new authors. For me that’s an angel.

As for friends, there’s no better way to determine who is one than to be in the vulnerable position of asking them to support your dream. It’s not a “can you take care of my dog for the weekend” or “can you give me a lift to the airport?” It’s a “I need you to market my work regardless of what you think of it.” But I’m lucky to have some great friends. All the ones I was counting on shared my book with their networks right away, and were excited to do it too. My amazing friend Jeff actually took the time to create a banner for my book on his heavily-trafficked music site, and asked his audience to download the book. I was moved to tears.

All of this resulted in my book breaking the top 25 on the Science Fiction free Kindle list. A-MA-ZING.

The book started sliding today, but only a couple of spots. I imagine it will continue to slide, unless the hundreds of readers who downloaded the book read it, like it, and tell their friends. I guess I’ll just wait and see. Or better yet, I’ll keep working on Rebels, the second Carpe Terram installment,  and let everything else work itself out.

Thank you for the support!


Free, In More Ways Than One

Healers is free. Free because it’s published. Free because my thoughts ran wild in it. Free because it’s on a free market. And FREE for the next five days on Amazon.

Please do me a huge kindness of great karmic consequence: download Healers. You may end up liking it, or it may not be your cup of tea (or, dare I say it, you may end up really disliking… though I hope it won’t come to that).

But you’ve got nothing to lose, literally, because it’s FREE! So hit that download button, I’ll be forever grateful and will pay it forward to all struggling writers with books on promotion. 🙂

http://bit.ly/HealersFREE



Meet Karina Vega

She saves lives and then jumps off buildings. She’s a rock on the outside yet plagued by secret insecurities. She’s beautiful but she doesn’t really know it. She wants to be loved but she won’t allow it to happen.

And she thinks she’s reached the peak of her existence at the age of thirty.

But the Universe has other plans for Karina Vega. Bigger, bolder plans, that will turn her life upside down in a matter of seconds. It’s nothing supernatural, mind you. No lightning flash, no witch’s curse, no alien intervention. It’s just science; a gene she’s always carried finally comes into play. And now she’s able to perform miracles outside the operating room. Miracles that put her in danger’s way, make her question her sanity, and push her heart’s limits.

Genetics favor some and punish others. Karina Vega still doesn’t know which end of the stick she’s got. But she’s willing to find out.

And Nicolas Aragon is willing to teach her. If only he could do it on his terms. But even he cannot control the wheel of destiny. And when destiny brings Peter King to Karina’s proverbial doorstep, there’s just so much Nicolas can do to stop its plan. And so their journey begins. Tanzania, India, China, Cuba, and beyond. At each step another decision, another lesson, another piece of the puzzle.

But ultimately, it boils down to this: Karina Vega saves other people’s lives. Now she needs to decide if her own life is worth saving. But why save it, if the only option she’ll have is to give it right back to the world?

Karina Vega is the heroine of Healers, the first installment in the Carpe Terram Trilogy. Healers will be available as a free download on Amazon between Friday, August 24, and Tuesday August 28. Please download it and give it a shot!


Honesty

I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been spending every spare minute I had on my books. This writing journey is fascinating–that is, when I’m able to detach from myself and look at it with clinical eyes (the rest of the time is very emotional, as you might expect). Here are some things I’ve learned recently.

1. There’s definite value in traditional publishing. I’ve been going through some stuff lately at my “other job,” where everyone thinks they can do my job (instead of doing theirs). Because it must be so easy. Well, it’s not. What I do is a combination of art and science, and while you may think you can get the art down, it’s the science that will make the difference. I think it’s the same with publishing: anyone can write some words down, but do they have the science behind it to know if those are the best words they can be, and most importantly, if those words have a shot at standing out? Traditional publishing is not the purveyor of art in writing, but the gatekeeper of writing science, which is what will often make the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

2. Traditional publishing is an old, slow scientist enamored with her own legend. If they were able to fix the part that keeps a book stuck in their process for over a year, if not longer, and if they un-stiffed their frozen upper lip to expand their content pool to writers who are not whores to the process (query letter rules, manuscript rules, email rules, call rules, agent rules, networking rules, associations rules, etc. etc. etc.), but simply honest people dedicated to the act of writing, they’d probably come out on top at the end of this storm. Alas, they’re too stuck up to do that, so the spiraling will continue. And I tend to avoid torture, so I probably won’t try my chances at traditional publishing any time soon — life is short, and I can’t bear the thought of wasting another minute on bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a mistake, but I’m owning it. Or maybe I wouldn’t be good enough for them anyway.

3. I’m an impatient fool. My most important lesson from this past month: just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. I’m a down-to-earth, cerebral writer with lots of self-awareness. You won’t see me throw tantrums, and act like I’m God’s gift to the world (though sometimes I think that would serve me much better). But that doesn’t mean I don’t love writing from all my heart, or that I don’t believe in my ability to break through. But I got so caught-up in the “traditional publishing” “science” of it, that I forgot to listen to my heart. “I have a deadline,” I said to myself. “And I keep my deadlines, damn it!” So I published Healers a month earlier than I should have. And then I downloaded my own book, and started reading it for the fortieth time, and discovered that it wasn’t exactly what I had intended it to be. (Regardless of the fact that my beta readers had great feedback on the story.) So I made a hard decision: re-write it once more. What I didn’t expect was how fast that was going to be. Because this time I listened to my heart instead of the rules (You should never write a book in first person present tense!!! And especially if it’s a suspense science-fiction novel!!! Only great writers can pull that off!!! You know nothing!!! Be afraid, be very afraid!!!) and it took me ten days to do the re-write that ignored the rules and made me happy. Maybe I was wrong, and maybe it’s not as good as I think it is. But at least I LOVE IT. And that means I can promote it, and talk about it, and be proud of it without worrying that I didn’t give it my best shot.

4. Impatient fools learn the most. Should I have waited a little longer before hitting the publish button the first time around? Maybe. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t have learned any of this. And I’m that much better for it. I’d rather screw up and come out better, then play it safe and bury myself in worry and guilt.

5. And lastly, when it comes to writing, the only way is up. I’ve learned so much this time around, and I know that will happen again next time, and the time after, until I’m gone. And it’s a great feeling to know that every word you put down on paper will make you a better writer. That is a great reward.

So, hey, if you’re reading this, give Healers a chance. I stand behind it, and I’m ready to take on any criticism that comes my way, because I wrote it from the heart and I believe in it. You don’t have to buy it, you can download the free preview — you’re bound to know if it’s your cup of tea by the end of it.


Machine Gun Preacher

I just finished watching “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie in which Gerard Butler portrays Sam Childers, a man who turned his life around and is now running a charity in Sudan and Uganda.

A few thoughts:

– Devastating. What’s happening in the African war zones comes to my mind frequently, but I have to admit that at times it all becomes a little bit of a philosophical concept than an on-the-ground reality. Movies and documentaries are good reminders to keep the reality top of mind.

– I wish it didn’t take movies to remind us of these atrocities, but I’m grateful that they exist and someone realizes the importance of making them.

– It’s hard not to feel guilty; I try to remind myself that feeling guilty doesn’t solve the problem. And that compassion is completely different than guilt. So I donate what I can, and I hope that one of these days I’ll be able to get involved in more significant ways.

– It’s also hard not to feel disgusted by everything that’s happening around you, by all the trivial pursuits and petty complaints; unlike guilt, I wish everyone realized how few things in this life, in this world, truly matter, and we all started behaving more like human beings and less like rabid wolves. I know I engage in stupid, petty things all the time, especially during my work day. I’ll make a much more conscious effort to not do that anymore and this time I won’t need another movie to remind me of what really matters.

– What an amazing spirit Sam Childers seems to possess. What he’s doing is outstanding. And I bet that the reality is a lot more harrowing than even the movie portrayed. It also turns the idea of individual transformation on its head and provides an example of how one person living on the fringe of humanity, where little hope ever exists, can end up changing and making a massive difference in the world if they put their mind to it.

– I hope that Carpe Terram will someday become a beacon of life for those in need. I realized that what I described in Healers is much too timid. I am going to be a lot bolder in Rebels, and make sure the message of freedom and food for all is much clearer and more vividly illustrated (even if it’s still fiction).

– Everyone should watch this movie. Because I think collectively we can make a difference, even if it is simply by donating. Everyone can make a difference if they want to.

You can find the Machine Gun Preacher site here. You can donate to their charity here. And this is the movie trailer:

 

 

Carpe Terram!

Kai


A Book Is Never Finished

I worked on Healers for a very long time, and went through so many drafts that I stopped counting. Every time I went to bed thinking “this is the one,” I woke up the next morning and realized the work was far from over. When I finally recognized that there wasn’t much left for me to do without the help of others, I gave it to my reader friends and told them to have at it.

That moment, when I realized I had just submitted myself to an emotional public flagellation, was a major milestone. It’s nerve-wracking, especially if your first instinct is never “look at me, I’m so great.” My readers came back with comments and I breathed once more: they didn’t say “this sucks,” as I was sure they would, but they actually enjoyed it very much. And most importantly, the feedback they gave me was incredibly valuable because it opened up my eyes to many details that would have escaped me otherwise.

So I went through the book again, after each piece of feedback, and then again, because I ended up building on the feedback myself. But each time, there was a very clear, tangible improvement in the book. That’s always such a moment of wonder–just when you think it’s done and you have nothing left to give, you realize you’re still very far from reaching the limit of your creativity.

But there does comes a time when you have to say, “it’s done.” And that time is difficult to recognize and acknowledge. Because the truth is, the work is never done. You could spend a lifetime re-reading the book and finding things to change, language to edit, and details to fix. And even then, you will still find readers who aren’t quite pleased with the outcome. And then, it’s never done because the characters have already taken a life of their own, and they continue to live in your mind. You end up knowing them so well that you realize no book you can write will ever do them justice.

Finally setting a book free is an empowering thing. Because you’re making a conscious decision to let go of your insecurities–and boy, what a load of insecurities!–and let others enjoy the fruits of your labor, in the hope that most of them will say “Yeah, this book IS ready and I loved it. Where’s the next one?”


World Map of Hunger



Dreams

I have a lot of dreams. I don’t mean the figurative kind–of which I also have plenty–but the literal kind, that come at night. I have a lot of nightmares too, depending on the day. And I find them all fascinating.

The things our minds can conjure up are nothing short of extraordinary. We bring together details that our conscious mind would never think of. We build worlds that reveal to us what we’re afraid of and what we yearn for. (That’s why I thought Inception was a really smart movie.) And we have the most vivid feelings possible. At least for me, there are feelings I get in my unconscious journeys that stick with me for days, sometimes weeks. I even have a few that have stuck with me for years and I can still remember instantly.

Karina Vega, the heroine in Healers, has a dream that’s been haunting her for years. A dream without an ending. The ending will come when she’s ready (and I won’t tell you when that is, you’ll have to read the book). Here is the dream that always leaves her anxious:

I am tiny, maybe four years old. I come out of the mansion and walk toward the vineyard, the green, damp grass tickling my bare feet. I see Grandpa Demetrio inspecting the vines with his friend Anton. If the rain doesn’t come soon, this crop is gone. We’ll have a hard time this fall. The fruit won’t be rich enough for a new Puertas vintage. If we settle for a cheaper blend and bring in grapes from the outside it will be hard to do any business; we’ll lose this year’s contracts. I can feel the sadness in my Grandpa’s voice. This vineyard is his life and legacy, the keeper of his dreams. Why wouldn’t rain come if he needs it? I lift my arms to the sky, look up at the snowy peaks, and think of big drops of fresh water pouring down and drenching everything and everyone. I remember the times when my older brother Jorge and I would run around in the rain, laughing and jumping in all the puddles. My grandparents would watch us from the porch, smiling, their love surrounding us like a bubble of warm light. Thunder and massive clouds break over the land. Somewhere between imagination and reality, the rain comes pouring down. My grandpa throws his hat high in the air and starts cheering. He turns around, sees me standing there with my arms lifted to the sky, and runs toward me, the happiest I’ve ever seen him. He twirls me in his arms and says… Nothing.


The World’s Greatest Solvable Problem

Nobody on this Earth should die of hunger. I think we have enough for all. If only we were willing to share…


Love The Light

One of the messages in Healers is a universal one that has been expressed in countless ways already: life can change in a second, and if you’re not paying attention, you may realize too late that what you had was already what you were looking for. Our heroine, Karina Vega, is faced with such a realization at a crucial time in her life:

(…) The light above resembled natural sunlight, which, after the weeks Karina had spent in her prison, was the most beautiful thing she had seen in her life. It dawned on her then that what she had thought was a cage only a few months before, was the whole wide world lying at her feet. And she had always taken the light of the shining sun for granted. (…)

If you were to ask yourself right now, “am I happy with what I have?,” what would be your answer? And if you lost what you have right now, how would you feel?

I know I have to make a conscious effort to always be grateful for everything I have. Forgetting who you really are, and what’s really important, is the easiest thing in the world.