Monthly Archives: December 2011

What’s Blog got to do with it

     I just read this website for new, up-and-coming writers, and one person says, “blogging is for sell-outs.” He also goes on to say that using any form of social media is selling out, and that self publishing of any form is a cop out to not being able to get recognition from a formidable publishing house.  I look at his bio and see he has no books published by said, “formidable,” publishing house, but publishes under another company which is still considered in the literary world to be an indie company (meaning he is self-published).  For kicks and giggles, and because we can all stand to elevate our blood pressure once in awhile, I keep reading.  This man slams, and mean slams with vibrant words that could only be aqcuired using thesaurus.com’s word of the day tool (i’m a subscriber, I know this), blogs in particular.  He seems to hate blogs and calls them a shameless tool used to self promote for people who can not otherwise afford a decent PR person.  After that he links to his “BLOG.” Seriously dude, put down the reefer and give your alter ego a Xanax, which is what I so eloquently commented.

    Here is my position: use the tools you have at your disposal.  the thing about blogging is that it is not an in your face thing.  My blog will not appear on your screen unless you asked it to.  it’s purely opt in, unlike that harassing sales call I received last night on my cell phone.  I say, use all the social media you can..it’s free.  Oh, and by the way, even you could afford a PR person of Jerry Maguire status, the first thing they would do is create several social media accounts. It has been proven to be one of the fastest, easiest, and most cost effective methods of marketing and publicity.  why anyone would scoff at this is beyond me, and I didn’t have to take a percocet to come to that notion.

     I further delve into this man’s google-search-abilitiness, and find he has a twitter, facebook, youtube, and blogspot account along with google something or other and a home page which over glorifies his self-indulgence, which shamelessly links to every single one of his media outlets.  Geesh, at least I’m forward about my intention to plug my books, “Be Still,” and “When I Thought I was Tough,” which is available for a free read using the link 😉  See how that works? Why knock a gift horse in the mouth.  If you were offered a free car would you saunter away and call it selling out.

     Okay, this is where I get all up on that ten foot soapbox, but hey, I’m not trying to sell tapeworms as a form of curing ulcers and obesity.  I’m giving my honest opinion and essentially selling myself, which I’m proud to do because I’m quite a catch when it comes to my writing (biased?).  So, yes, I will use all forms of social media available because it is available.  However, in the light of it being New Year’s Eve, I will make this firm resolution: I will not spam my friends Facebook pages.  That’s all I have.  If you have gift or talent and that is in blogging and getting your voice out there then I say go for it.  “Atika!” Burn bras (not books).  Fight the power…etc etc.  Most of all, have a safe and wonderful New Year and make sure one of those resolutions is to follow a dream and see it through (not if it includes stalking Brittany Spears…Just leave her alone people!!!) My next post will be an ode to Prozac, where I can combine my nursing and writing skills.  Happy New Year bloggers!!

Setting Goals

     Today is the start of my developmental editing.  Iam hitting the gates running…NOT! This is awful.  I have to sit and wait for someone to read my manuscript, make his notes, then send them back to me. That could take 3-4 weeks.  Eee gads, what am I supposed to do during that time? This is frustrating.  I suppose I will continue to work on book #3, but I forsee that I’ll have to stop that book when I do the revisions in, “Be Still.” It’s so hard to go between the two.  It’s like switching from forward to reverse.

    But, I am excited.  Very excited.  I can hardly wait to get it all done and out on the market.  It’s like being a kid again and waiting for Christmas.  I wish I could adequately explain what it is like to wait for a book to be published.  It’s like waiting to be cleared for escrow; waiting to save up for a car; waiting to take that dream vacation.  There’s anticipation, longing, daydreaming, preparing, and a little flutter in your heart at the thought.  Mostly, there’s anxiety, and I have to wonder if the mainstream big-names have this same anxiety for every book, or was it just the first?

     I can say it’s like finishing nursing school then training then being put on my own.  i was so nervous with my very first patient, but it was exciting, too.  I wanted everything to be perfect, just like with the book.  Of course, now, I am hit with a new roadblock, because nothing could ever be a soft path: I am no longer on state disability after the end of January, and not only do I now have to start looking for work, but I will have to stop writing full time, which is what I have done the past year.  It is saddens me to have to put my passion on the backburner to keep up with the needs of my life and the life of my family. Not that taking care of my family saddens me, its the part that I have to stop writing or give up a great majority of my writing time to do it.  It’s like losing a love.

     Well, until that day actually comes, I will pour my heart and soul into book #3 or the revision of, “Be Still.”  I also received a one year free membership to some website which holds seminars for writers, and gives me some tools to track my progression.  It’s part of my publishing package.  I haven’t had a chance to really go through it, but it’s a nice edition.  So far my evaluation of iuniverse is still right up there.  They have been great in answering questions, keeping me updated, and being excited with me.  I believe for the price of the package, you get more than you are paying for.  I have self-published through Bookemon, which was easy to do, but it was just what it advertised: self published.  You upload the manuscript, do your own cover, hope you did the tabs correct, and publish.  You purchase each book you want, and must do all the work after that yourself.  Now, I would recommend Bookemon if all you were going to do was create a book for family and friends.  They do nothing beyond create a print-on-demand book for you.  Not a bad gig for the right reason.  However, payin for the Iuniverse package is well worth it, even if only for the review, cover copy, and adaptation into e-book versions and placement on most major bookstore websites, along with other perks depending on the package.  I say go for it!

     I was told today by my ex-husband (we are cordial) that I should follow my dreams.  My response, someday I would like to live my dreams.  My dream would be to write full time and be able to live comfortably.  I’m not looking for wealth, just a comfortable lifestyle, where I could send my kids to college and pay all my bills without juggling the money.  I’ve told most my friends that when the book comes out I am sending them all a publicity care package of things to distribute to family and friends.  I’m recruting, too, so if you want to do some publicity let me know, I’ll send you a care package, too.  😉  Serious offer despite winky emotican.  My goal is to sell 500 books, at least that is my happiness goal.  My elated goal is to sell 1,000.  And my bucket list goal is to be on New York Times Best Sellers list.  It’s good to have goals.

     My food for thought for today is: set goals, even small ones.  Baby steps.  But always have a goal after that one.  When you always have something to strive for, then you are always in motion, always pushing forward and never stagnant in life.  you’ll be better for it.

An Unfamiliar Place

     Today I am reading a book by Chuck Palahniuk, titled, “Damned.” I have tried to read his other books (Fight Club and Choke, amongst his more well known), but I always had a problem following his mind.  Now that I am on the otherside of the pages,I am realizing that it’s not my job to get inside the mind of the writer, but his/her job to get into mine.  So in this new Palahniuk book I am trying to stay focused, but there are still some parts where I peek at the back inside cover to see his picture and think to myself, “what were you smoking, Dude?”

     Albeit a very interesting book about a self-proclaimed, “fat-girl” who overdoses on marijuana and winds up in hell, he does have some interesting opinons on the concept, development, and over all design of hell.  To this, I say, “Kudos, Mr. Palahniuk, for making me laugh, feel vomitus, and blush all in the same chapter.” You may ask what this has to do with my blog title, “An Unfamilar Place” This is because in his book he talks about many far off and exotic destinations that only the daughter of a movie-star billionaire would know about.  I’m left to wonder if Chuck has been to these places, name dropping, or if they were spots on a map he threw a dart at.  Being that he’s sold over 5 million books, I would assume he has visited these places at least once…but that is a wild assumption without any basis.

     I wrote in a previous blog that I could only write about places i’ve been, things i’ve done, senses i’ve experienced.  This has created quite a conundrum in my new book as the charcter, Evan, is deaf.  I tried working through this last night and discovered something fascinating that I have taken for granted for years, as most people probably have: Did you know you can hear your own voice in your head? I mean, we have thoughts, but imagine if you will (or try) that you can not speak.  You have no use of your mouth to produce words.  Do you still hear those words in your in head? How did you know what th words wwere supposed to sound like?  Answer this, without speaking out loud: What is your theory on evolution? Okay, do you hear the sound of your own voice in your head? Myself, I found it fascinating, because all though I have heard it before, I have taken it for granted.

     What’s the point? The point is this.  As a writer I have to get into the heads of my character so they can get into your head and you can feel their emotions.  Ride the rollercoaster with them.  Be someone else with every documented word.  Escape.  So my job in the new book is to make you, the reader, connect with a young deaf girl who is caught up in a triangle custody battle between a ditzy, emotionally lazy mother; an uncaring, loafer father; and a man who loves her as his own child.  Being caught up in that is hard enough, but I’m left to write every tangible sense of a girl who hasn’t ever heard a sound.  You look at a door and say, “it’s a door.” In spanish, “la puerta.” In german, “die Tur.” But how do you explain sound to someone who can’t hear it? It’s like explaining the color teal to a blind person.

     I am taking on a task similar to writing about a place I have not been.  I can not write about Harlem since I’ve never been there.  I can stare at pictures all day, but until I have been there I could not give you every sense of the place: taste, smell, sight, sound, touch.  Think those don’t all play into the factor? Well, I’ve lived in beautiul California my entire life, and when people come to visit they all want to go to Hollywood.  I try and detour them, but usually can’t because they already have a preconceived idea.  Many people outisde of Los Angeles think of it as star central, full of glitz and shimmering sparkles, streetsof gold and stars.  Not so.  Here are the senses of hollywood: As I walked into the city of stars I was immediatley met by the pungent, stale scent of fresh and stagnant urine.  It was thick, making me feel dirty under its weight, which lingered on the humid air, and sank into my skin.  I saw a homeless man sitting beside a trash can, chasing away rats and other pestulence, while the din sound of helicopters and airplanes consumed the dingy skyline.  The place corrupted every sense, including my ideas of what Hollywood would be.

     Now, not to knock Hollywood, but there are better places to visit in California.  After reading about all five senses being used to describe it, you should be left with a yucky taste in your mouth.  Here’s a free pointer: when writing a creative paper be sure to include,: who, what, when, where, how, but don’t forget: sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing.  It makes it more personable.  So my cross to bear is not to write what Evan hears, but to write what she doesn’t hear.  In order to do this I will have to heighten my own senses…not so great so far.  I am going to take on the task of teaching a deaf girl, English.  This is a very unfamilir place.

     For those keeping up with my publishing status; I call my editor tomorrow and set up payment, then it will go into a month of editing while I, at the same time, look for work.  I am hopeful this will all work out, but please keep following me to see where I end up next year in November, my year anniversary into this uncharted territory.  I may be rich and famous, working on a movie deal…or pulling out a loan to publish my next book.  Either way, I am proud of my accomplishments and hope you all fulfill your dreams.

tania l ramos

Emotional Writing

     In my book waiting to be published, “Be Still,” I mentioned before that I went through a hard day and added in two pages of my own personal emotions expressed through Travis Silver, the character.  I found that to be rather therapeutic, but also chalked it up to needing to express myself and nothing more.  So, today I will discuss how emotions play into writing, because, although I may not have noticed it before, it became a raging, blaring, red, flashing light this past weekend for me. 

     Let me start with something funny, or what I perceive as funny.  My son pointed out a shirt he wanted to buy me online which read, “don’t make me mad or I’ll kill you in my book.” We laughed so hard, because that has so much meaning in its hilarity.  I told my ex-husband the same thing once; he made me so upset thatI killed off the main character that night.  Of course it didn’t follow my story line so I revived the character the next day: No harm, no foul.  Do I have a cemetary of  “offed” characters? Abso-freaking-lutely.  W actually have a make shift small pet cemetary in my back yard: the turtle that died, a baby kitten that didn’t make it past the first few hours of life, a few finches, and a smaller red-eared glider turtle that had pneumonia.  Lots of popsicle stick crosses out back, but the roses sure do grow up nice and pretty.  So after many unfinished and finished stories, I realized I grew so close to my characters that I was going to have to start a memorial wall for the fallen hero’s and heroines of my imagination.  That’s how close they are to me, plus the fact that they lived inside my head for months.

     How does this come down to emotions and writing? I don’t know, I got off track.  Let me get back.  When I write I have to drown out the white noise around me, so I play my Itunes lists.  Usually, I listen to slow music on low volume which keeps me very zen and focused.  I tried writing to Metallica once … those poor baby bunnies never stood a chance in that chapter.  Two more popsicle crosses popped up in the backyard that night.  So for me to stay focused I must have certain things: peace, slow music, no outside distractions.  This is my harmony (homeostasis to us science nerds).  What I don’t need to is to be upset with my boyfriend, like I was this past Friday.

     Okay, so without giving details into my romantic life, let’s just say the boyfriend was, “wrong,” and I was, “right.” For the sake of the rest of my existence, lets just assume this will always be a permanent fact.  So, I came home and started pounding on the keyboard (writing with tenacity sonds better, yeah?), trying to build the back storyline of my character Ben, in the new book.  Now this is my hero, mind you.  He’s a good guy.  He survives the book, the zombie apocalypse, revelations, Dec 21, 2012…you throw it at him and Ben is a survivor.  He sings the Bionce song until the end of time.  Except for one thing… after being slightly miffed at my boyfriend, Benjamin ends up with a spork jabbed into his eye by the end of chapter two.  Yes, a spork (plastic spoon/fork combination).  Why a spork, you ask? So he can be stabbed with the pointy nubs of the fork part in the eye, but still have a spoon to actually scoop out the eyeball from it’s socket.  By the way, my very first genre of writing was scifi, horror.  It’s hard to break old habits, especially when writing under the influence of emotions.  That’s right, I am guilty of WUIE.

     Rest assured, the next day I revived Ben and his boo boo face and set things straight.  The moral of the story is, “don’t make me mad or i’ll kill you in my book.”  Happy writing people, and keep those emotions in check.

When I Thought I Was Tough

When I Thought I was ToughWhen I Thought I Was Tough 

This is my first book.  It is very raw in that there is no editing.  I wrote it to prove that I could start something and finish it, but I still believe it is quite poignant in dealing with family and the behind the scenes stuff we keep hidden.  It’s a free read on the internet or you can buy it and support the cause (mine **wink), but please read and leave me feedback.  Sadly, the external hard drive this book was on crashed and was too  much to recover, so I will not re-edit unless someday I choose to sit and write the entire thing all over again.  Not likely, but I do think about it.  So please read it.  This is the book that started it all…

Tania L Ramos

If your going through hell

     I was finally able to send in for my loan, so I should receive funding today, which I should already be aware means trouble will follow.  I mean that has pretty much been the story line of my life this year; everytime I see the light at the end of the tunnel, turns out it was the headlight on a train careening at me at full locomotive speed.  Sigh.  Well, this minor setback isn’t as bad as a locomotice impaling my body.  I called my editor and turns he started vacation today and won’t be back until the 29th.  This mean my book is on a one week hold.

     I am takin this news in stride, because I firmly believe everything has a time and place.  I have learned so much this year: keep the faith, hold family close, and when life hands you lemons make lemonade and then learn how to sell it for $5 a cup (my son’s senior year quote)…I think The Donald would appreciate that one.  This has been a year of up’s and downs and they still aren’t over for me.  This Christmas I will spend it in my home with my daughter, while my other children and mom go to Los Angeles to spend it with my other family.  I’m firmly thinking of starting a blog of what that ordeal is about so others in my situation can have someone to talk to.  But, needless to say, my daughter and I will have Chrsitmas dinner at John’s Incredible Pizza.  On Christmas day we will go visit my grandmother and wait until ten pm to make the child exchange with er dad.  Then do it all again for New Year’s eve.  John’s pizza will make some money off of us in the next two weeks.

     My point, because I think I have one, is this: If your going through hell, keep on moving (courtesy of Rodney Atkins). I can’t quote more than that due to copyright infringements that I do not wish to contend with.  But look up the song and that is my mantra for the year.  It is so true.  You can keep moving and get passed the bad things, or slow down, wallow in misery and be stuck there indefinitely.  I have seen people do the latter and it’s not a pretty sight.  Keep moving people. Run. Sprint. Dash!!! Go forward. Do not become stagnant in life, even when you want to drop to the ground, curl up and go fetal…it doesn’t get you anywhere but crooked and cramped.  I’m speaking from experience.  I honestly feel after my horrible year that I can be a motivational speaker, BUT, I’ve chosen to write.  It’s so much more artsy, don’t you think?

     You know many famous artists have their blue periods or dark years? I think in a few years when I reread my novels I may just say, “that was my blue year.” Not that they are all dark, morbid, and bleak.  I find the down side, or what people feel as a “blue” moment, and try to bring some light to it.  Like I said, it’s my own therapy. Hmmm, I think I lost my train of thought and veered of course.  Oh yeah, everything has a purpose.  So this year I could have fallen into a deep horrible depression ( i had every right to), but instead, I chose to spend my hours writing and fulfilling a dream.  My youngest son was very surprised when in my first book, “When I Thought I Was Tough,” had a dedication to  him, which said (and I’m paraphrasing), without all your drama I would have never had the chance to write this book.  You see, I took a bad thing and made it good, then ran with it.  I’m still running through hell, and even though the bad things sometimes manage to get a quick hold of me, I do my best evasion maneuver and keep on running. 

     So I’m taking this one week break from the, “BeStill,” book, and continuing on my next book which I think I will title, “A man who didn’t have to be.”  I tend to get titles and sometimes ideas, from music, so this would be from a Brad Paisley song called, “He Didn’t Have to be.” It is an awesome video and runs along my storyline, but I didn’t take the story from this song.  In fact, two days ago was the first time I had heard it, which is unheard of because I am a huge Brad Paisley fan (he’s my one cheat day: if I ever had the chance to cheat on my boyfriend, he has approved that it can be with Brad Paisley…I gave my boyfriend a day with Drew Barrymore).  So,  I was listening to my Sirius satellite radio and heard this song play, and after wiping away the tears, knew this was my title.  I know, I skewed the title, because I don’t want to infringe on rights, nor do I want to take away from Mr. Paisley’s wonderful song.  I hope my book will bring as much emotion as the music video does.

     To sum it all, don’t dawdle in self pity.  You get nowhere but deeper in self-pity.  Make that dash and jump those hurdles because only you can get yourself out of that place.  Okay, now here is my disclaimer: I fully believe that depression is a disease that may be caused by a hormonal imblanace that may occur by no effort of our own.  Sometimes fighting our own body is the hell we must struggle to go through, so I say: if you are so bad off and so deep into your own sadness, it is okay to seek professionl help.  We all need someone to talk to sometime, and sometimes a simple littl pill can put the out-of-whacks back in whack.  BUT, if this is a case of having a bad hair day, embrace your bad hair and make it a fashion statement.  If it’s a bad year, like mine, which started with being serve divorce papers on New Year’s day, to thatI say: hug your kids, hug your wife/husband, call a friend, write a book, work in your garden, paint, teach the dog to fetch the newspaper, or teach the cat to smile and not have multiple personalities…do something! Keep moving.  Pursue your dreams (it’s your right).  Sometimes you just wanna go where everybody knows your name…trust me…somebody is this gigantc world has been through it and you are not alone.  My offer still holds, you can vent to me, or tell me your accomplishments, and I’ll listen…until i’m some big wig, snob, accomplished, world renowned author with a Pulitzer Prize…get me while you can (insert sarcasm and rolly eyes).  😉  

     Wow, where did that stupid soapbox come from? Haha.  Okay, I’m going to go write the back storyline of Benjamin Bennet, my hero in the new book.

Find your niche

     I received news today that my loan was approved at 11.99% interest rate over 36 months through my credit union.  In some ways it is better than using my credit card in that it will be paid off in three years.  However, putting that same amount in my credit card will only yield a monthly payment of $100, significantly lower than the credit union.  But that has faults too, because making a minimum payment will mean I’m paying for 20 yrs and will end up paying double by the end of the term.  BUT, I get my cash bonus on the card which will return me $180 at the end of the year, which is a payment to the card.  Whatever, I went with the loan in the end and plan to pay it off in two years anyway, if not sooner.  I figure whatever royalty I make on my book will go straight toward the payment, and fingers crossed that I might just make enough to stipend the loan.  Fingers crossed very tight, losing blood circulation, nail bed looking kinda blue.

     I was also informed, not by a real tax person, but thinks he is, that if I generate revenue from book sales that I can consider myself self-employed or a consultant or something, and that I can write off many things I spend on promoting my book.  This is awesome, and I made an appointment to speak with my tax consultant tomorrow in this matter.  if this is the case then I will hold off paying for the developmental edit until January 1st, because I have too many write offs already this year as it is.  We’ll see, but that would be terrific if it is indeed true.

     So I spent last night updating my LinkedIn account and joined a few groups for nurses and writers.  I laughed because there are a few right-wing writers who have strong opinions on self-publishing.  They aren’t my opinions and I made no response because I would have to climb my skyscraper of an ivory tower to give my opinion, which is the exact opposite.  Some people say you should write for the accomplishment of writing, and I whole-heartedly agree.  To start and a finish a book is a wonderful and self-fulfilling achievement not to be frowned upon.  But the other part of that idea was that if you self publish it shouldn’t be through a third-party firm such as iuniverse or Xlibris.  The words double dipped were thrown around.  My opinion: I am getting more from using a third-party than I could ever get on my own, because I don’t have the time, knowledge, skills, and connections the third-party does.  Case and point: I write.  I am a much better writer than I am public speaker, so having to do PR and marketing just aren’t my forte.  Not that I couldn’t do it to some degree, but hey, I’ve seen surgeries and aided in procedures, it doesn’t mean I am qualified to do them.  Then they say, painters and sculptors do their work even if they never sell a piece of work.  And to that I say: I will continue writing even if I never sell a book, BUT wouldn’t it be a grand notion if I could be paid to do what I love.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if a painter or sculptor sold their work so they could quit their day job and only paint/sculpt.  That is not selling out! It is called making a living doing what you love to do, and I wish that for everyone whether it be writing, painting, building houses, cutting hair, or teaching calculus.

     We all have a niche.  Everybody has some calling.  Mine is writing and nursing; it is not marketing or public relations.  I will gladly pay the middle man to do that for me, because it is their niche and they have the contacts.  Not to mention, I do not want to spend all of my time caught up marketing, advertising, and relations.  I want to use my time to write my next bestseller.  Is this wrong? I mean, I would love to do signings and even speaking at high schools to motivate other young aspiring writers, but to spend two years in marketing? Wow.  I am not independently wealthy and have to work at some point so when will I market? See, you all got me in my ivory tower that balances precariously on my soapbox.   (taking a deep breath)

     Okay … so I have my funding and January 1st will send it in and begin the process.  Until then I have decided to go ahead and start on my next book because my characters are reeking havoc in my brain.  They won’t stop talking, it’s maddening, so I have to get the words out on paper.  I am also proud to be a self-publisher even if i am using a middle man.  And I am thrilled to be pursuing my dreams.  Find your dream and follow it, even if you don’t get paid or recognized publicly.  Chances are there is someone in your life who will be proud of you, and if there isn’t anybody then shoot me a message and I will give you an, “atta boy/girl.” Find your niche, pursue your dream…it was given to you for a reason so don’t waste it.

Thank you for following my blog.