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My Books With Links update 12/11/12

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Choosing an Editor

I’ve sought out several editors and received a few sample reviews. As an author you either feel elated to get some feedback or dread any kind of feedback. After my first book, I was dreading any kind of feedback. Imagine building something tangible, something that you think is the most fantastic thing to ever brew forth from your imagination, and then imagine someone comes by and tells you what could be better. That’s how it feels to send a manuscript to editing.

But there’s more. Perhaps you have heard of the author’s voice. This is the mannerism in which an author writes: short sentences, long sentences, lots of detail, lots of dialogue, minimal dialogue, to the point, and so much more. This way of telling a story is an extension of the author. It is a creative process built on blood, sweat, tears, and lots and lots of hallucinations and voices. We tell a story the way we see fit . . .

Then enter the editor to tell us what we saw fit isn’t what the reader sees fit. And so ensues a battle of the creative process. There are things to consider when getting an editor, here is my list:

  • Get a sample edit of at least 1,000 words
  • Explain your voice
  • Give a small synopsis of your story
  • Explain what you expect: line editing, review, developmental, copy editing, etc
  • Know the cost up front. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
  • Ask for references
  • Be leery of all cash up front services. Ask if there is a payment plan, and ask for an invoice of services.
  • Be sure they work in your genre
  • Ask what the ETA of editing is

There are things an author needs to be prepared for:

  • The cold hard truth
  • Lots of red marks
  • Changes to your words
  • Changes of entire sentences
  • Lots and lots of advise

Before you submit a manuscript to editing be sure you are mentally prepared. Limber up. Eat healthy. Watch funny movies. Do anything that gets you in a good frame of mind. When your manuscript comes back, you may want to do that all over again. Take a deep breath, hug a kitty, then send the kitty away because you don’t want to harm anyone of anything when you open the file.

Above all, remember you own creative rights. You don’t have to change a damn thing. That being said, after you read it the first time, walk away for a day or two and then come back after the dust has settled. Keep an open mind always.

As for me, its time to choose my editor.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Reading the Red Stuff

The Antibiotic Trial

Ever hear the phrase, if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all? Man oh man  has that been my week. How about the expression, when it rains it pours? Add that to my week and you get some fun, sad, and interesting tales. All of which will be incorporated into my writings for public musings.

First off: Last week I woke up feeling not quite right. I figured it was stress from not having steady hours at work and losing lots of pay. So I wake up with that, “something’s not quite right” feeling. The one where nothing is really wrong, but you just have this inkling…maybe its women’s intuition, but whatever it was landed me on my butt, back down on jagged rocks, sun trying to melt my face, as I vomited then proceeded to pass out. It felt like my heart was racing at a thousand miles a minute, but when the boyfriend (EMT/Firefighter) took my pulse it was slow and irregular. BLAH!! I don’t have time for that crap.

Second off: I went from having zero hours at work (as in: zip, zilch, nada, time to sell the farm) last week, to being triple booked this week. Pssst…that’s the when it rains it pours part. I took a new job, which makes this position #4 (ED nurse, PACU nurse, GI nurse, and ED nurse at a new facility). I was also offered a position at a place I was at before. Can you say, “Feast or famine?”

My life has become one big giant cliche of sayings.

Third off: After speaking with a doctor, he says, “Did you know if you had some kind of infection that you didn’t know about (given I had a high leukocyte count), that it can affect your heart?” Um, yeppers, I’m a nurse. Hello? I knew this . . . I just chose to put it somewhere in the back of my head. And so comes to next saying: Nurses and doctors make the worst patients. To that, I digress! I’m a freaking amazing patient. The best patient ever. I’m so stupendously amazing that I voluntarily stay out of the ER and doctor’s offices–even after passing out and having some phantom arrhythmia.

I’m living the cliches. I love my life. Because there are few Nurses and doctors who make the worst patients, especially during a time when it rains it pours, and still survive during the feast or famine, because–after all–if wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

On a side note: Always read the warnings on your antibiotics! Mine have basically given me permission to have visual and audio hallucinations (as if I needed antibiotics for that little talent), but it also gives me permission to essentially go postal and be able to ride the Antibiotic Defense all the way to trial. Just saying, if the Twinkie defense stands up, so does the Antibiotic one.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author on Day #2 of Cootie Killers.

medicated

 

Question: If I already have voices in my head, does the medication give my voices the ability to hear voices in their head?

Finding a Muse: Contest

Most of my characters are very clear to me before I ever start to write them. I take a little bit of something from every where and every one I know and concoct a new person. Its a bit of a mad scientist, Frankenstein process but works very well for me. Sometimes, after already having written my character out, I may see someone on television, the news, or someone I already know and think, “Hey, that’s my character!” It’s always nice to put a real face on a fictional character–at least for me.

In a previous post about Guns & Lightsabers, I gave an excerpt of a conversation between Huck and Maggie. To this day, I have all of my ducks in a row for each character in the book Blackbirds; there is a bio of their physical appearance, and I can see them plain as day. All except for Huck. I’ve been writing him but avoiding anything physical because he isn’t in my head yet. This character is very important me, as are most of my lead male characters, because I tend to enjoy writing in the point of view of men. Maybe its just me, but I find it fascinating to write men more than women.

Huck’s Bio:
Mid to late 30′s, tall and rugged, has piercing eyes that can be spotted a mile away. Witnessed something in his youth that set him off on a road of anger and rage, until he met Jenny. That romance and marriage was short lived when Jenny passed away suddenly. Huck was then infuriated at life, family, God, and anything else that crossed his path. He’s filled with sarcasm, cynicism, and believes he still sees and can talk to his dead wife…he thinks he’s gone crazy. Then a young woman (16 yrs old), just about as broken as him and matching his wit, sarcasm, and stubborness enters his life. She has nothing to give and he has nothing to offer, but they find a way, and his rugged exterior is peeled away a little at a time, until he goes into an all out rage when he discovers her secret. Huck is the epitome of country strong, stubborn, and at times a real ass…but he has a heart, especially for Maggie.

That is my character without a face. A complex man, as most characters are–as most people are. But I was watching a program on television the other night and saw this face, and my world lit up. I had my daughter and shouted to her, “That’s him. That’s him. That’s my character, Huck.” She was very happy, because she said one day she will sing for him and he’ll turn around. So here he is, my new muse for Charles “Huck” Roon. Drum roll please…

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The first five people to respond and tell me who this is will receive a free copy of my last book, “Be Still,” via Nook or Kindle download.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author with a Muse

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Someone’s At the Door: Choose Your Weapon

My latest WIP (work in progress) is a big drift from my normal style of dark writing. This new book still has its dark subject, still has its subjective point of view, and as always, has some dim undertones within the aspects of the characters. What makes this book different is that the scenery isn’t always so dreary, and even when life is dreary, their mannerisms build up to a kind of comedy through it all.

Now, I take much of what I write from over heard conversations and/or discussions I’ve had at home. I take those little snip its and add the voice of the character to make it their own. Sometimes I get the exact same conversation, and those usually don’t make the final cut. But, sometimes the conversation takes an interesting spin within the mind of a character and I get something fabulous.

The scene: Huck and Maggie are sitting at the dinner table. Huck is in his mid thirties while Maggie is all of sixteen. They are practically strangers who have been thrust together by fate, and have two completely different ways of thinking. There’s a loud banging at the door, one that sounds like someone is trying to break the door down. Huck pulls a shotgun out from the side of the fireplace.

Maggie jumps from her seat, her eyes filled with concerned more than worry. “Huck? What the hell are you doing?”

Looking over his shoulder, the shotgun already in position by his right shoulder, he replies, “I’m hunting wabbit! What the hell does it look like I’m doing?”

“You aren’t going to shoot whoever’s out there, are you?”

In a fit a confusion, he rattles his head about then aim at the door while creeping closer. Maggie gives a hushed shout at how ridiculous this is. He stops and looks over his shoulder again, “I don’t have any plans on shooting, unless absolutely necessary. Okay? Hippie?”

“So what? Then you just planning on scaring whoever runs through that door? And when he’s sees your cannon he’ll stop and cower, right?”

Huck was growing weary of the conversation, and the banging at the door wasn’t letting up. Didn’t she understand he was trying to protect her? Was she really having a debate on guns while someone was trying to break in? It was clear she didn’t care, so he decided he wouldn’t care back and put the butt of the gun down on his right toe while holding the barrel with his right hand. “You have a better idea?” he asked.

Their eyes met, and he wondered how many of these visual standoffs they would continue to have. She was stubborn, cocky, and the biggest pain in the ass he had ever met, and all of that paled besides her wit. He stood there, eagerly anticipating some smart remark.

“Lightsaber,” she said.

“Lightsaber?” he practically dropped the gun from his hearty laughter.

“Think about? We’re in the middle of shotgun, handgun, Glock, 9mm, hillbilly hell, right? Everybody has a gun next to the fireplace, everybody has a rifle rack in the truck? And this crazy bastard is still trying to get into the house.” She points at the door that is still taking a beating. “That guy knows you have a gun of some sort, and odds are so does he. Probably bigger by the sounds of it.”

“You can tell he has a big gun by the sound of the banging on the door? Oh, you’re good,” he chuckled. Then he put his finger on his chin stubble and asked her to go on.

“That guy isn’t going to be surprised to see a gun. But, he swoops through that door and you’re holding a lightsaber . . . well, now its game on. You don’t need perfect aim, just one big swoosh,” she motions as if holding a lightsaber and striking, including the sound effects. “Whala! Dead.”

“You think a lightsaber is better than a gun?”

“Have you even seen the movies? How many people actually die by way of guns? Like one to every thirty people who died by lightsaber. There are red blasts all over the place and once in a while someone actually gets hit, but the lightsaber death toll was in the kazillions. I mean, if you gotta be a Neanderthal killer then at least do it with finesse and with a weapon that has a proven kill rate.”

At that moment the door burst open and Huck was instantly mowed over by the three-legged goat before he was able to get his shotgun up. As he looked up he saw Maggie standing over him, hands on her shifted hips saying, “if you woulda had a lightsaber you might’ve stood a chance.”

“You haven’t won this argument,” he said.

“Then answer this: if you busted through someone’s front door, would you be more petrified to see you holding a gun or Qui Gon Jinn with a lightsaber?”

His inability to answer caused her to throw her hands up in victory and do a little happy dance. It became quite clear he might just be the student and not the master. “Yeah, well . . .  you need to work on your sound effects,” he mumbled.

End scene.

So that little conversation came about from the topic of gun control I had with a friend on Facebook. I was pleasantly pleased with the changes Maggie made, and how fiction mimics real life yet gives it its own little spin.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Shopping for a Lightsaber
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lightsaber

Visual Novels

I picked up my son from his friend’s house and he looked kind of morose. He turns to me and says, “I’m depressed.” This is my ninja assassin child. My child that thinks if you can’t fix it blow it up. He’s all balls to the walls; going down in a raging flame of glory; hell hath no fury like my son scorned. I love that kid, chip off the old block {tear}.

So why is this kid depressed? After all, he has two main reasons for going to his friend’s house: better internet connection for homework and video games. So I asked him what was wrong and he said a game he was playing had him up for fourteen hours straight. Not so unusual for this kid. Turns out it was a type of game I had never heard of called a visual novel.

visual novelWhat are visual novels? These are much like the old books often called “choose your adventure books,” where a reader would be given a choice of paths to take at the end of the chapters. Exact same concept here, except these games are visual, donning bright anime graphics and theatrical music throughout the story line. There are several styles ranging from adult (Eroge), science fiction, and emotional (Nakige), to horror. Each type is designed to instill a specific type of reaction within the game player.

Of course, I did my own homework to find many of these games are based on Japanese novels, or were so popular they were eventually turned into novels. I asked my son (19 years old) if he cried, as he said he was playing the emotional games (Nakige) games. He said he didn’t, but he did get choked up because the characters completely draw the player in.visual novel2

 

 

What I’ve learned:
The game is played in first person, a change from the typical choose your adventure novel. Because it is first person, the player is deeply embedded not only within the story but with all the emotion of the character. These characters have such in depth stories and intricate emotions that it is near impossible not to get caught up in the moment. The games are growing in popularity and generally take 10-16 hours to complete one story. They are playable on PC and some are occasionally ported to game consoles. Most recently they have been adopted to Android applications, although they aren’t as in depth due to memory limitations. Also, only one character story takes 10-16 hours, and there are several characters, plus you can replay the same character and choose different outcomes.

So what’s the big deal? As these games suggest, they are visual novels, which should be of interest to any author out there. The entire game is reading. READING! So I’m already excited at the prospect that this avenue has brought a new generation of non-readers to reading. Plus, these games take limitations off the story line. The bigger the book, the more it costs. As such, authors create trilogies or more. With Visual Novels, the book is only limited to memory space.

The catch: Before running off and using a free program to create your own Visual Novel you must know this: you will need graphics, typically anime with a range of emotion. And you will need an orchestra for the theatrical music aspect. Visual Novels are wonderful mixed-media avenues, so if you know an artist and an orchestra, this is a perfect opportunity to cross promote each other.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Looking for an Orchestra

“What You Do For a Living” Living?

Among my many titles are: mother, nurse, It Works! distributor, chauffeur, grammar Nazi, water pitcher refiller, travel liason, pillow, ATM machine, grocer, and keeper of the electricity (AKA: light Nazi). And those are only the top listed ones. As such, when I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living I’ve always answered, “I’m a registered nurse.” But a few days ago, in a Tums overdose, someone online asked what I did for a living, and my calcium carbonated mind decided to analyze the question?

I carry many roles, yes, but what do I do for a living? was the question. I decided to look it up and here is what I got.

liv·ing

  [liv-ing]  
noun
11. the act or condition of a person or thing that lives
12. the means of maintaining life; livelihood
13. a particular manner, state, or status of life

The one that really stood out was under noun #12. The means of maintaining life. So I thusly looked up life. There are innumerable entries for that one (25 under noun).  The one that stood out was bibliography.
So to rephrase the question; what do you do for a living, I give you this question: What is your means of maintaining your bibliography?

I write!

Live_To_Write_by_BakingSkoda
Ummm . . . and think too much sometimes.
Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Maintaining her Bibliogrpahy
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The Pee Factor

Its happened to us all; at least from the stories I’ve heard, but this is my story. So sit back and drink a tall cup of water while listening to the glorious sounds of water trickling down that little zen fountain . . .

It was a particularly warm day, even for a Southern California winter. The temperature in the High Desert was an astounding seventy-five degrees, which made me quite parched. I proceeded to drink two glasses of my alkaline water before hitting Baja Fresh for a taco and  more water before trekking down to Los Angeles. I ensured I had emptied my bladder before the trip, as having three kids has destroyed any competency to be able to hold more than a Dixie Cup full of liquid.

The drive to L.A. was rather nice. Great music played on the radio, the temperature continued to rise to a staggering eighty-four degrees–mid-February mind you. When I arrived at my daughter’s school I proceeded to use the bathroom again: a safety measure more than actually having to go. Once we were all set and ready to go, I felt confident that we would make it home without incident.

What I didn’t plan for was heavy traffic on–what I forgot–was a four day weekend and Valentine’s Day friday. It seemed every few miles there was a broken down car, vehicle accident, or unexplained jam up. The CHP was in full force, and all I could think was, “thank God, I went to the bathroom before getting on this mess.”

One hour later, and not much closer to home, my belly began to fill full. Damn! I knew the feeling and knew it wasn’t good. I began to drive a bit more defensively and maneuver around traffic. This didn’t help with progression, but I was still okay so long as traffic eventually opened up. There was a light coming into view: my transition freeway was just up ahead and meant only thirty minutes to home. I was excited since my belly was now bulging over my low rise pants and a sharp pain was stinging at my side.

Of course, life isn’t always fair. A motorcycle accident occurred and slowed the on ramp. My phone rang with my oldest son scolding me for being late, as he had to get to school. Deja vu! I yelled back, a quick reflex from the urine burning in my bladder. I had no tolerance as sweat began to bead on my forehead. There was an exit up ahead, but I couldn’t get over in time to make it. The next exit was blocked with yet another accident, and I gazed up the long stretch of highway that split straight up  the San Bernardino Forrest. I was in for the long haul.

We inched our way up, and noted it was three hours passed the time I originally realized I had to pee. Urine began to bead on my brow as sweat. It was now looking for any avenue out of my system, and my heart began to race at the prospect of having to pee in my pants. My eyes searched the van for anything that would afford me the opportunity to pee in, but all I found was a small bowl from the Baskin Robbins and a water bottle. I knew I wouldn’t hit the small targeted opening of the water bottle, and the small bowl wasn’t going to cut it either. I figured I could pee in the bowl, stop mid pee, and then empty the contents into the water bottle, and rinse and repeat, but I passed at the thought,knowing home was only fifteen minutes away–in theory.

Another accident! I made some evasive move and swerved around the cruel vehicles, all the while noting the look on the woman’s face as she exited her vehicle; looked like she had to pee too!

Finally! I made it out of the dreaded snail race only to hit a stop sign. For real? When did that stop sign get there? I got passed that and hit my second stop sign, and I recall feeling like my body was ready to shrivel up and go fetal. The pain in  my side soon felt like a thousand double serrated daggers were digging into my flanks, while some alien being was reaching into my bladder and filling it with more fluid; a torturous burning, acidic fluid!

Next came the train tracks and the warning to slow to 35 MPH. But my brain was starting to turn on me, and before hitting the tracks I saw a fluffy jackalope taunting me. There was no slowing down! I hit the gas and yelled for the kid to hold on tight as the van put the General Lee to shame in its plight to reach new launching heights. The landing was rough and caused the fluid in my belly to press harder into its full line sensors.

Another stop sign! Is that three? Was that there? Oh my God! Is that a detour? I was detoured and trying to see passed the yellow fluid that had now risen to my eyeballs caused me to turn into the wrong lane. Some smart guy had moved the detour sign to point into oncoming traffic but I had to pee so a game of chicken ensued until I was able to get back into my lane through the cone. I looked in my rearview mirror to see others had also made the wrong turn. All the while, outside my driver’s side window the jackalope continued to taunt me.

Stop sign number four came and I felt a California roll was in order. I prayed there was no cop, knowing peeing in my pants would either get me put in jail or placed on a psychiatric hold. Petal to the metal, I hit the last stop sign and came to a complete stop, knowing home was only feet away. I made the left and California drifted a VW Routtan family van onto my small cul-de-sac while yelling at my daughter, “when the doors open, you run out. You run like the wind because mamma has to pee and she isn’t waiting for stragglers.”

Sure enough, we skid into the driveway, and I hit park, shut off engine, and her sliding door all at once. I yelled, “Go! Go! Go! This isn’t a drill. We are at defcon Yellow!” Of course she fell behind, conveniently distracted by some cuddly cute domestic. And I ran through the door, legs crossed the entire way, holding my nether regions like some Michael Jackson music video, bypassing hugs and hellos, straight to the sweet bladder salvation of the toilet. Except, by that point, I had to go so bad that my bladder quit on me and decided to punish me by holding out–or holding in. I cried a little. Then the strain and spasms of peeing came forth and my tears flowed just a little easier.

“Thank you, Jesus,” escaped my lips as a micro tremor of relief coursed through each nerve. So the next time I drive down to L.A.–next Friday–I will ensure there is a large bucket in which to pee, and I will not drink anything prior to my trip–or maybe the day before. Now to find out where those domestics took my daughter to…

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author with the World’s Smallest Bladder!

Maybe this will help

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