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My Books With Links update 12/11/12

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Alter Egos get a Pen name

When I first started writing semi-professionally, I was in the 9th grade. I’ve told the story before, so I won’t rehash it in this post. In 9th grade I knew nothing of love, nothing east of the 605 Fwy or west of the 710 fwy. I was bound in an inner city with little knowledge of anything beyond my ten square miles. That was my world, what little there was, and I had no doubt in my mind that my geographical knowledge was little.

So when a wise teacher discovered an introvert roaming the halls talking to herself, she opened a whole new world. My imagination basically encompassed steamy kisses with Han Solo, and idealistic snippits of stolen romance with Indiana Jones … okay, I had a thing for a young Harrison Ford. But when Ms. Ruben penned me behind an old green screened computer, my ten square miles of life grew into an infinite world that only ended where I told it to.

My first stories were built up around the unknown, around falling through mirrors into deserts where other students had mysteriously disappeared into. The winds spoke of being the Alpha and the Omega, leaving young teenagers to survive in a world of horror. My first stories delved into the unknown, because in 9th grade the unknown was the only tangible thing I could write about. By the end of middle school, I had written five full length horror stories, and my mom tended to pray over me a lot more, though she always supported my talent.

a2As I grew older, my horizons broadened and I dipped into the world of romance, but I never found particular accomplishment in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a tragic romance; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl finds new guy but secretly hopes her true love will return. The sappy stuff. Where I found my true talent was in subjective fiction, or speculative fiction as it is also called. In the Benjamin Button stories of “what if.” I’ve made a name for myself in my genre of the dark story with the light at the end of the tunnel, but along the way I missed those good horror stories, the ability to invent terror and shock.

A few months ago, I entered a horror story contest to be placed into an anthology. The reviews were magnificent, however I was graciously asked to change the perspective of the story to third person omniscient, and the story would be published, in which I respectfully declined. After talking among family and friends, I decided to publish this short story on my own. And with that grew a new dilemma. My name is my brand, and hopefully synonymous with subjective fiction. But what happens when I publish in a different genre all together? Should my name and brand follow me into the new genre?

In the end, I have decided to use a pen name. I feel it is important to separate subjective fiction me from horror story me, and to keep the brands and identities apart. The way I see it, if I enjoyed reading Jane Smith’s historical romance, then blindly purchased a Jane Smith book based solely on the knowledge that I like her genre, only to start reading and discover it is extreme erotica … well I might be upset. So in the spirit of creative writing and fiction, I will invent my own persona, and thusly birth a new alter ego.

Congratulations, it’s a girl!

Think it’s difficult to come up with a character name? Try coming up with a name you’ll have to live with. By the way, there is a process, and I will further explore this in my next post. Please chime in on your thoughts of using pen names for different writing styles.

Tania L Ramos, RN, BSN, Author
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Bernie Sanders Marshmallow Incident

For those people who have pets, you may be able to empathize. There is usually one pet who is generally smarter than the other. That one pet that “gets it.” Well here is a story of how the ugly face of politics crept into my home by way of marshmallow eating dogs.

The scene: The junk food drawer in the kitchen

The perps: Snookie, a cute, somewhat intelligent Husky looking dog that is anything but Husky.  Ruckus, just picture why this dog is named Ruckus, and add a short wiry haired part terrier with Miniture Pincher coloring.

The victim: Me.

marshmallowI go into the junk food drawer to grab some marshmallows, because I’m quite frankly to lazy to open the fridge and grab fruit. As I look down, both dogs are sitting in front of me with puppy eyes, waiting for a marshmallowy treat. My kids are sitting around watching me, no doubt wishing they had some marshmallows too. So, I hold one marshmallow in my hand and tell Snookie to sit, and she does. I hold the treat to her nose and tell her “no.” She sits politely and waits. After a moment I put the treat closer and tell her, “no.” She continues to politely wait. After another a moment, I tell her, “okay.” She takes the treat. Then I toss a marshmallow at Ruckus and he snaps at it.

My kid looks at me and says, “Why did you make Snookie work for the marshmallow and not Ruckus.” He asks this more because of the unfair treatment toward the favorite dog.

I respond, “Snookie is smarter. She’ll actually work for it. Ruckus will just try to bite my hand off.”

My kid scoffs and says, “okay, Bernie.”

You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson. But, no. A few days later my youngest sees me do the same thing and she asks the exact same question, only to receive the exact same reply. Her response, “voting for Bernie?”

And this, my friends, is why we aren’t allowed to talk politics or religion in my home. Every person in my house  has a different political view, different view on gun laws, and on a million other things. All I know is it’s satire, so I hope this doesn’t turn into a political rant. I found it extremely hilarious how quick witted my children can be over a couple of marshmallow treats. I truly enjoy the humor of my children. To each their own. Snookie now gets an extra treat, and Ruckus … well, I haven’t lost a finger yet.

Tania L Ramos, Author, Dog lover

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Life is Longing For You

I still say I’m not much for being a poet. That being said, this song came to me in a dream. One of those vivid dreams where even when you wake you’re left to wonder if it was real; some kind of deja vu. I was walking through an alley on a rainy afternoon, everything was tinged under a blue filter. A soft, almost jazz like sound filled the air, and I was inclined to find the source. The tune was romantic, yet heartbreaking, reminiscent of a lover in sorrow. I wasn’t running, yet I moved quickly to find the music. As I grew closer, the sound of words became clear and the alley ways shifted from blue to subtle red. Not an eerie kind of red, but red like the sunset and soft. Finally, the words became clear and resounded so beautifully that I stopped in place and closed my eyes to sway in the painful loss of the lyrics. A moment later I stepped out of the alley to find traffic speeding by on a busy street, with a woman standing in the middle of the road, singing without a care as delicate droplet of rain drenched her body. I caught the very end of her song, and watched in aw. When her song ended, she looked up at me and I could decipher the tears from the rain. I couldn’t help but begin to sing the words, and she smiled, happy that someone heard her.

When I opened my eyes the song was still playing in my ears. I grabbed my cell phone and quickly jotted down the only lyrics I could remember. To this day, I hear that song as clear as drops of rain.

Life is Longing For Youlife is longing for you

My life is longing for kisses

Longing for misses

My life is for seeing us through

Bring back your smile

Bring back your style

Bring back the silvery moon

Then shower my heart

It’s yours from the start

And tell me I’ll see you real soon

Because life is for kissing

You’re all that I’m missing

My life is longing for you

Fueling the Writer

I don’t know what to do. Life, as it does, managed to throw a wrench in my plans again. My entire, albeit, short writing career, I vowed not to fall into the stereotypical idea of what drives a writer. We all know the widely held theories of writer’s fueling off anger, angst, Absynthe, and depression. What makes a writer great? Loss, despair?

Thomas Wolfe posed great discussions of his novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. Many writer’s struggle in a conflict of early life and later learn you can’t go home again. F. Scott Fitzgerald, as with many other authors, leave a legacy of alcoholism shadowing their genius. Tennesse Williams, a playwright prodigy, said he could only write of what he knew. Reading A Street Car Named Desire was almost a mirror reflection into his struggle with family.

How many writers and artists fall by the wayside of the stereotype? If there was one thing I was ever able to claim it was that I never fit neatly into the category of pained writers. Now, surrounded by loss, grief, and sometimes guilt, I find that my writing suffers. My words and thoughts were never propelled by anger, angst, despair, or alcohol, yet readers who have read my writings might be inclined to think otherwise. My words are dark, sometimes lost in sorrow, but always seeking out the light. They are in no way a reflection of my life.

Now, sitting in the dark at 3am, suffering from a raging fever, weighed down by a million my words are not a reflection of lifestressors, I find that my writing is not any better. If the loss of a parent brought me anything more than just a hole in my life and silence in my home, I had hoped it would make me a better writer. How’s that for selfish? Fortunately for me, I don’t struggle with conflicts of my childhood, parents, family, alcoholism, loss, or depression. I know we only live to someday die. And that the in between is where the stories are. Life hasn’t thrown a wrench in my plans to ruin my life. . . it’s only allowed me to pause and evaluate what I have. I have stories. Sometimes a wrench in your plans is the best plan.

I still don’t know what to do. Well, that’s a start.

Tania L Ramos, BSN RN

Petals on a Rose

The poem my mom asked for only days before her passing. She said, “You need to write a poem about not being able to fix petals falling off a rose.” Maybe she knew her time was short. I never got the chance to read it to her.

Petals on a Rose

moms roses2

Rose petals from mom’s casket spray in her favorite green vase

If you were here with me you would see
A million memories of us drifting free

The days we laughed and days we cried
The years we spent together side by side

Those days are now remnants on weary dreams
And yet I hear your voice in all I see

Your scent has left, but your smile not lost
Those days we owned were worth the cost

I want you back, but my heart now knows
You can’t put petals back on a rose

 

Tania L Ramos, BSN RN

Mom Knew

Since the time I put two paragraphs together my mother was always there coaching me on. I can’t remember a single time she wasn’t bragging about even the tiniest of my achievements. There is a lot to be said of a mother’s pride. No matter the venture, no matter the crazy idea, mom was always there to be the ultimate cheerleader.

January 12, 2016 at 0200 in Victorville, CA, my cheerleader left the game. The event was sudden and without warning, though part of me looks back and feels that she knew all along. As a nurse I’ve heard stories of patients who could pinpoint the date of their death; some seemed fairly healthy and would simply exclaim, “I’m going to die tonight.” And they would.

Though mom did not make a big announcement of her impending doom, I’m still convinced she knew. The signs were there, I just didn’t see them. On her Facebook page, only two days before, she posted a link on how women perceive heart attacks differently than men; the biggest clue was women said they have heart burn. Well guess what mom complained of the next two days? She begged and begged and begged me to write a story about The Girl Who Danced for the Man on the Moon. Of course I complained that the title was too damn long. But I asked her why she was so emphatic about that story and she replied, “I envision a woman who just regained her strength, dancing for a man who is on the moon. She knows he’s there, and he watches her from a large telescope, but she doesn’t know he’s watching.” I asked if there was religious implications, given mom was one the best Christian women I knew, and she said, “I see myself dancing for God, and I know he’s there, but I don’t always know if he’s watching.” Unfortunately, I never got around to writing that story for her.

However, mom asked for a poem, and I explained that I wasn’t much of a poet. Three days before her passing she said, “Write a poem about not being able to put the rose petals back on a rose.” Weary of her constant requests I told her I would give it a try, but not to expect miracles. As I looked at my phone today, I realized I had written that poem for her only hours before she had passed. I was going to have it printed out on a picture and frame it for her . . .  that time will never come, but mom got her poem out of me. I’ll post it as a stand alone blog. Again, I looked at the words behind the poem, about the loss, the memories, and about beautiful things in life that cannot fixed, and I think of mom. I think how she loved everything I did even when I hated them. I think how her own death has given me the opportunity to write about loss in my fiction, and be able to pour my heart and soul into the words.

The end has not found my mother yet. She will continue to live on so long as I write. My experience in saying goodbye will be her legacy in print.

mom

Tania L Ramos, BSN RN

Do Text Messages Count?

NaNo Date 24
Time 1013 PST
Location: Breezy California desert oasis
Companions: Felines, Voices in my head

Nano, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the USS Have I Lost My Damn Mind. My mission: To create conflict and resolution while integrating plausible story lines and fulfilling character development. My nemesis: the romance genre, combined with the wicked forces of cruel daily word counts. Together, with voices in my head and furry feline companions, we boldly go where my word count has never gone before. 50,000 words in 30 days!

My journey began strong 24 NaNo days ago. Hope filled the tips of my fingers as they plucked at the back lit letters on my Sony Vaio keyboard. We were hopeful. We were bright-eyed with ideas, even though we only knew the beginning and the end. We strove for success one word at a time.

We were naive.

NaNo date 24. We are exhausted, fingers calloused, wrists aching. Our once bright eyes now scream out for daily doses of Visine, searching blindly for reading glasses tucked away last Christmas. The beginning has passed, while the middle is seemingly endless in its pursuit of a climax. One plot twist!!! The voices in my head scream for one miserable plot twist. They bicker now and conspire to side with a lesser word count.

Why did I take on this task? I was naive.

But I plow forward, wondering if I could somehow fit this blog into my story to increase my word count. Does that signature I wrote on my check count? How about text messages? I write a lot of those. Facebook updates? Tweets? So many words wasted away from my daily goal. Alas, there are only 6 NaNo days left in this journey. I beg my characters to stay with me, to keep the journey just six more days. Together we will carve our way passed the middle, run to the top of the climax, and dance around the plot twist, sprinting through bubbles and rainbows toward the end.

Until then, send words … I am afraid we are losing hope.

hemingway