Category Archives: Truth

The Perfect Man

It was love at first sight. When he saw me, it was like heaven finally sent him an angel. And I was only wearing sweats, no makeup, and I hadn’t taken a shower in two days. My hair was a complete mess. Plus I stumbled on thin air and almost fell on my face. But he didn’t care. In fact, it only made him love me more. Because his love for me transcended time and space.

And he… HE is perfection personified. He’s Adonis, Hercules, and Zeus combined. He’s endowed with the power to get anything he wants. He’s smart, and witty, and incredibly romantic. He’s the greatest lover there ever was. He’s a millionaire. And I still can’t believe that he would be so head-over-heels in love with me. Lil’ ol’ plagued-by-mediocrity me.

Of course, this man doesn’t exist. And I like to think I’m not plagued by mediocrity. I hardly ever wear sweats, I shower daily, I’m not a klutz, and I appreciate makeup. So is that why this man doesn’t exist?

Here is why I dare ask such a… umm… “profound” question. Because if you look at most of the mega-bestselling mass market fiction published in the past decade, this is the man that sells books. Off the top…

Twilight’s Edward Cullen — a perfect man, with the experience of a hundred-some years, but in the body of a seventeen-year-old. He’s ridiculously handsome, rich, and romantic, and he’s in love beyond words with miss mediocrity. (I’m ignoring for the purpose of this rant that he’s a vampire.)

Fifty Shades of Gray’s Christian Gray — a perfect man, super handsome, incredibly well-endowed, millionaire, owner of his own business, helicopter and chauffeured cars. He’s also madly in love with yet another laughable miss mediocrity. (I’m ignoring for the purpose of this rant that he’s a sadist.)

In Death series’ Roarke — a perfect man, also super handsome and incredibly virile, blah blah. He owns half the Universe. In a somewhat refreshing twist, however, he’s in love with a tough, smart lady cop (her hair is sh*t and she doesn’t care about her appearance that much, but otherwise she’s pretty great). (Nothing to ignore for the purpose of this rant.)

(Nora Roberts’s) The Witness’s Brooks Gleason — he’s not entirely perfect, I’ll give you that, but he’s not too shabby. He, too, is handsome, great in bed, persistent and romantic. He is in love with a woman who’s not precisely mediocre, but is plagued by a complete lack of social intelligence (a  tragic effect of misguided nurture) and lack of a sense of humor (in my opinion, a fatal trait).

Fill in the blanks with any hero of a mega-bestselling novel — perfect this, perfect that, perfect the other; you get my point. (I’m also ignoring for the purpose of this rant the writing quality of my first two examples–first two because what can I say, I happen to like JD/Nora.)

How does one reconcile the fictional Roarkes of the written universe with the men of real life? How does one keep from comparing every man she meets with that perfect, fictional man? Because he may be fictional, but when you keep reading about “him” in every book, you fall for it–he must exist if every book is about “him.” Story blends with reality and eventually you can’t tell them apart anymore. The next thing you know, you’re looking for the perfect wrong man while life passes you by. (Not I, of course; I just imagine that’s what happens.)

Also, why do most of the women these fictional men fall in love with always have to be mediocre, or one step shy of being so? Are the authors’ self-esteems so low that they can only relate with that kind of woman? Is the ultimate female fantasy a man who doesn’t have many standards? Or perhaps, is the ultimate fantasy a world where women need not make a single effort in order to get the love of the perfect man? Is it because love is supposed to be blind?

Really, what is it that makes the “love” story between a perfect man and an uber-mediocre woman so incredibly appealing and bankable?


The Pace Of Nature

I wonder how many people have true patience. And most importantly, what true patience feels like.

I feel like I’m confusing patience with fear sometimes — as in, “yeah, of course [insert thing you desire most] isn’t going to happen just yet, I have patience” when in fact, what you really mean is “I’m so crazy scared that [insert thing you desire most] isn’t going to happen, that I’m going to shield myself from the avalanche of pain by trying to want it less.”

Sometimes I feel like I can be patient. But it’s always with things that I don’t hang my spiritual hat on. Because when it comes to things I most desire, I find it very hard to be patient. And that’s why I wonder how many people truly know what patience is, and how many are just using the word patience to describe fear, laziness, cowardice, lack of focus, lack of passion, false wisdom…

Today I’m trying to be truly patient.

 

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen. — Ralph Marston

For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service. — John Burroughs

Abused patience turns to fury. — Thomas Fuller (or Francis Quarles?)

A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else. — George Savile

He that can have patience can have what he will. — Benjamin Franklin

Genius is eternal patience. — Michelangelo

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. — Lev Tolstoy

Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue. — Ambrose Bierce

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice. — George Jackson

Patience is the support of weakness; impatience the ruin of strength. — Charles Colton

Patience is the art of hoping. — Luc de Clapiers

Patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity. — Thomas Hardy

Patience is the best remedy for every trouble. — Plautus

 


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!


Wrong Words = Wrong Thoughts = Wrong Actions

There are words that once uttered cannot be taken back. Because they’re such a crystal-clear reflection of who you are spiritually, that no explanation in the whole wide world can erase them, other than, perhaps, “I was held at gunpoint and coerced to say it.”

I am a lover of words. I feel words deeply. I think about the meaning of words constantly. I lose myself in nuances. I use words consciously. Words tell me what I need to know about the person in front of me. So when I hear claims that “wrong words” were used, and one’s deeply disturbing remarks were not a reflection of that person’s beliefs, but mere semantics, I call bullshit. And that’s a mild word.

I am a survivor of rape and domestic abuse. I wasn’t kidnapped and held at gunpoint, but I was repeatedly abused by a man I chose to be with, and lost several years of my early youth recovering from that abuse. So when I hear an old, self-righteous, privileged jackass, with primitive views of the world, classify rape as “legitimate” (which means there’s also “illegitimate” rape–attention survivors, you should get a stamp of approval on that rape and get your rapist to sign a certificate of authenticity, just to make sure it’s legitimate and you’re not just crying wolf) and spew nonsense about what a woman’s body does when she’s raped, I burst into flames of rage. My blood boils. I clench my jaw so hard I’m afraid I’ll break it. And I curse a storm in my head in the hope that the rage will stop.

And in that rage, I can tell you exactly how it feels to be raped. How your heart beats so hard you’re sure it will burst any second; and how after a while, you will it to break. How your skin crawls and every inch of your body is a massive, raw nerve ending that you just want to scratch off. How your soul struggles to stay alive as it drowns in a stormy ocean of shame, humiliation, self-hate and despair. How you suffocate as you try to not throw up your internal organs. How you ask yourself over and over what it is that you’ve done to deserve this. How you feel like garbage when he’s done with you, and you wish you were dead, because being alive hurts too much. How you know your life will never again be emotionally intact.

But I know the rage won’t stop. Not until men who believe they have the right to make choices for women die out, women who defend those men die out, politicians who think they own women’s bodies die out, religious fanatics who claim moral superiority die out, and debates about absurd claims that should be dismissed with a smirk and an eye-roll no longer exist and those who make the claims are rapidly shipped off to get treatment.

Which means the rage will never truly stop. It makes me sad that I will not live long enough to see a spiritually-illuminated world; that humanity will continue to roll in the refuse of small minds well beyond my passing.

Despite all the words I’ve just shared, despite the rage brought on by other people’s words, I’m not bitter. I can still love and be emotionally present. Philosophical sadness does not equal bitterness; it’s not synonymous with the inability to enjoy life. I’m lucky enough to have healed, grown, and learned from my past, and I can tell you that these old words are truer than true: what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. Just the way scar tissue protects an old wound: it’s not always pretty to look at, but when you poke at it again, it no longer gives in as easily as the first time.

P.S.: If you’re looking for rage explained in more vivid detail, read Eve Ensler’s words. 


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.


Imagine A World

This reminded me of the message in Healers… (Especially the final words: Do Epic Sh*t :))

(Source: http://www.highexistence.com/images/view/imagine-a-world/)


True To Who You Are

A while back I shared Jessie J.’s Who You Are. A friend sent me another version, filmed in NYC in the subway, from what the singer calls “The Boombox Series.” It’s cool to see, because it’s such a powerful “I am who I am and I’m not afraid to show it” message.


World Map of Hunger



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.