Monthly Archives: January 2013

My Life As a Comedy: Mayhem

mayhemNot so much! Do you know the Mayhem guy from the Allstate commercials? Well he seems to have taken up residence around me, and a few friends have pointed it out.  Many have asked exactly why I am not sitting in a corner crying or banging my head against a wall, and I answer, “I don’t do crazy in public. Unless I’m holding a conversation with my characters, and that’s the exception.”

The past three years of my life have been filled with crazy, moronic, moral breaking things: divorce, child custody, troubled youth, watching our justice system epicly fail, rain coming from the ceiling of our 1st story bedroom in a two story house, a car accident, and now a burst pool pipe.

“Well hello Mayhem! Please be sure to pay first and last month’s rent. Oh, and can you please put the toilet seat down? There are women living in the house who don’t like their butt drowning in subfreezing toilet water.”

But do I cry about it? Do I raise my fist to the heavens and yell, “WHY? why? Why?” Nope!  I write about it.  While these stories rarely make it into novels, they do make it into journals or onto brown napkins from the hospital I work at. No,not a psychiatric hospital–though listening to the stories of those patients are sometimes inspiring and thought provoking–my true job lies in making sure people wake up from their surgery, and I’m thankful Mayhem is stopped at the door by security.

Where so many people have asked, why haven’t you just broken down? I answer, “Because it won’t stop the voices in my head.” I have more to deal with than late bills, the rising cost of electricity, and an increase in my car insurance because someone else had an accident; I have voices that talk all day and they don’t stop for my little crises.  They seem to really care less.

My outlet to life are my words.  Some write poetry, some draw, some garden, some drink.  I write.  I can escape by putting it down on paper, though I have chosen time and time again to never write it out as some Shakesperean tragedy, instead it is written in third person limited as a comedy.  Because when I look back at the dismal year of 2011, all I see is a black veil over my life … but I laugh at it because I am still here.

Mayhem may try to be my foe, but all he has done is given me reason to write.  My words for the day are: Don’t let life get in your way.  Get in life’s way and say, “nani nani nani boo boo.”

Tania L Ramos, Author

(you can follow Mayhem here: Facebook)

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Writing: If it Doesn’t Hurt …

In the past year, I have met many other authors and love it.  Only an author truly knows and empathizes with another author.  In this way I can only compare it to how people suffering migraines can relate to others with migraines, but those who have never had a migraine don’t have so much as a clue.

Many of my closest friends and acquaintances are non-writers.  In fact, everybody in my family are artists, not writers, so I work through it alone.  One question I am often asked when people discover I have written books is, “Is it hard?” To answer that question isn’t easy, and I have to ask them to be more specific: the actual writing, the publishing, the thought process …

One nurse I work with asked, “how do you come up with a story?” My answer: I don’t, my characters do.

This is where writers will relate, but for those non-writers here is some insight.

voicesI hear and see everything around me.  Somethings try to materialize into stories but never do.  Other times there is constant noise in my head, like being in a crowded train station.  The noises don’t make much sense, sometimes I get to eaves drop on conversations of the noises, but they are benign and again go nowhere.  But occasionally, two voices will come to the forefront and if I listen effectively I can hear their story.

The story isn’t always the beginning or the middle, sometimes it is the end and I’m left to ask them some pertinent questions.  When they respond with answers that make me smile and get all giddy, that’s when I know I have a story.

Once I have a story a new problem emerges: getting the characters to shut up.  These voices can talk all day and well into the long hours of the night.  They talk when I walk into the bathroom at 3 a.m. They talk while I’m driving. Worse of all, they talk when I’m trying to communicate with the living.  I’m sure I’ve had a blank stare a time or two while engaged in actual real people conversation.  The voices are loud and clear.  They have personalities, dialects, catch phrases and stories, and if I don’t write them down they unleash a relentless attack and sneak into my sleep.

It isn’t always easy to write these characters.  They have attitudes sometimes and want to go in a direction different than the one I had planned out on paper.  There in lies the problem: an author can not plan a character, because the character has their own agenda.  A good author will follow the character’s agenda and sometimes doing that hurts my ego.

So much goes into writing.  It is a thought that stays with me from conception to end, and sometimes even after the book is printed, I feel like it could have been better.  There comes a point during the process when I feel like this is going nowhere and want to give-up.  There are times the characters stop talking– usually when I try and move the story along in my own direction.  But when I stop and listen and agree to their demands, the story picks up again.

My favorite part is when I finally hit that climatic point.  It’s like fireworks in the sky.  Then the downhill part comes and it feels very surreal and bitter sweet.  Some writers have lived with these characters for years, some for months, but we have  lived with them.  They are our bestfriends, and sometimes the meanest most vile characters are the ones we love the most.  When a story starts wrapping up, this means it is time to say goodbye to people who have been with us in the foxhole.

These characters have been with us through thick and thin, sickness and health, the good times and the bad.  They have cried with us and we have cried with them.  We have felt their pain, shared in their darkest secrets, and celebrated their victories.  When a story ends, so does our relationship and we must say goodbye.  Those are the quiet days, the lonely days.

The question remains: Is writing hard?

The answer: It is the hardest, most challenging, grueling, and best job I have ever had.  I love it so much that when I’m not doing it, I’m lost in limbo.  One thing I know for certain, that when I’m writing, if it doesn’t hurt and tug at my soul, then I’m doing something wrong.

Tania L Ramos

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Tania L Ramos author of  When I thought I Was Tough, Be Stilland Surviving the Writing Apocalypse.  Also runs the website Writing Apocalypse which displays quality indie books.  She speaks to other authors about the top content errors new authors make.

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Influences We Are

I try and write on a daily basis, but this last week has been about as crazy as any. Then I did an iOS update to the iPad which wiped out four chapters of my scifi book. I didn’t complain, I put it on my things to panic over right after a crappy paycheck because I was sick and missed 24 hrs of work, after burst a pool pipe, after a car accident, but before unpaid bills.  See the priorities there?

The person who did have the biggest fit I have ever seen was my daughter who uses my writer pad app to jot down words.  I was unaware of her “future” book she had saved on there.  The kid is five yrs old  mind you.  So she told me (demanded?) that I sit at the computer to write her story again.

So I sat down and wrote it out for her verbatim.  I must say this: The kid is talented. Not only can she draw like a champ, but the kid has serious imagination. And not only does she have a creepy imagination (I’m so proud), but she gave her story a beginning, middle, climax, and cliffhanger end. She left it open for the “part two,” in her own words. Then she says, “Now put it on the internet and tell me my level (rank).”

Tear.

JORJA’S STORY: The Monster in the Window (copyright 2013, reproduced with permission from the author. yeah, I did ask.)

There were two kids, a boy and a girl, brother and sister. His name is River and her name is Jorja.  They were sleeping and it was dark, so they didn’t see the monster come into the window.  River heard a noise and woke-up his sister and they ran out of the house. Far away from the monster.  They got lost in the woods and cried, but they had each other so they were okay and ate berries.

Years later the mom, her name was Tania was had another kid.  When he turned 9 years-old, she tied him to the bed. He cried because he did not want to be tied to the bed, but she told him, “I am keeping you safe from the monster so he won’t take you.”

“What monster,” he said.

“The one that took your first brother and sister,” she said.

He told her to let him have one more day without being tied up, so she let him. That night he ran away to find his brother and sister.  He found them in the woods and they were still little kids.  The three of them found the monster and vanquished him [yeah, her word not mine]. They went back home to their mommy and she was crying.

“Don’t be sad,” River said.  “We are now home.”

She gave them a big hug, but she thought she saw a shadow moving outside the window.

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That was my daughter’s story. It was all her and those were her words.  Despite the fact that she used a little author intrusion, I think it was brilliant.  I told her I would publish it to my blog and she could follow her rank here. 😉

Jorja's 1st attempt at art (age 5)

Jorja’s 1st attempt at art (age 5)

The moral of the bigger picture is this: Influences we are! What are you teaching those that watch you even when you think they are watching Spongebob?

 

 

 

 

 

Tania L Ramos

Facebook.com/TaniaLRAmosbooks

Author Resources

The Writing Apocalypse team in gearing up for February and some new additions to our site.  We are trying to network through our busy schedule and have made some fantastic new friends through this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as through the Writing Apocalypse website.

We are proud to say the website has been a smashing success and we are receiving lots of inquiries to read books for review and inclusion onto the website.  The team is definitely busier than we expected, which is a great success in our beta phase.  The book Surviving the Writing Apocalypse has also been well received and we are getting ready to start having Blue Harvest Creative set us up for a physical book publication.

Back to the website.  We are looking for more author resources to add to the resources page. If you run a blog that offers reviews, blog tours, or author interviews we would like to feature you on our page.  We are also looking for graphic designers, marketers, editors, beta readers, book clubs, ghost writers, or any other category that deals with the writing process from conception to birth and beyond. We already have a few new names to add to our list.

During the month of February we will offer free advertising to the first entity in each category to contact us.  You will be permanently listed on our page free, until or unless you ask to be removed.  For more information please email author@tanialramos.com and put “ad opportunity” in the subject line.

We are proud to currently feature these companies:

Blue Harvest Creative

Blue Harvest Creative

Why Brainstorming Can Cause Harm

I’ve said it before, some of my best moments are brainstorming with my son.  Actually, for us it is more like casual conversation gone strangely awry.  And if we do it right, it can go on for hours.

This particular topic started as assassination versus murder:

Dasan: No mom, it is according to relevance of importance.

Me: So you have to be pretty impressive and up there to be considered assassinated?

Dasan: exactly.  But if you are nobody of importance then it is murder.

Me: So if someone killedYOU it is murder, buuuut, if someone killed ME it would be an assassination?

Dasan: Yes. (thinks) Are you threatening me?

Me: No.  But if I wanted to do it I think I could get away with it.

Dasan: Nobody gets away with it. What makes you so special.

Me: I write for a living kiddo, people get lost in my lies … er um, stories. People believe my lies … stories.

Dasan: I don’t buy it.

ncisMe: Okay, consider this: I have watched every episode of CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, and Miami Vice-

Dasan: Miami what?

Me: Shhhhh, just listen.  I have seen how all those people get caught. I can do better. I can get away with it.

Dasan: Okay, explain.

alien-abduction-mainMe: I’ve also seen X-Files and both movies, not only can I get away with it, but I can make it look like an alien abduction.

Dasan: You have issues.

Me: Are you afraid?

Dasan: Just a little, but keep in mind that as a gamer, I am a master assassin.

Me: If I was in a game I might be intimidated.

Dasan: If I was in your brain, I’d be afraid.

Me: If you were in my book, you would be dead.

Dasan: I’m not even sure where to go with that.

Me: I win.

Dasan: Same time tomorrow?

 

And so goes another perfectly normal conversation with my oldest son.  Watch out world, he wants to join the Air Force.  But these little conversations I cherish so much give me so much for my books.  Embrace your little moments and count every conversation as a win.  How do you brainstorm?

Tania

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www.BeStillNovel.com

www.writingapocalypse.com

Book Giveaway

My book giveaway is rapidly coming to an end.  Are you on goodreads? sign up to receive one of two signed copies of my paperback edition of Be Still.  Pass this along.

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/41518-be-still

Now Available

Now Available

Book Fair Season is Back: Do You Need a Rep?

Aloooooooha! As the skies clear up, I am reminded that all the fun and exciting book fairs are starting up again.  This year, I vow to attend at least three in state and one out-of-state, and at least one conference or seminar.  This isn’t to say I won’t attend more, but alas, I am still part of the employed by day, write by night lifestyle.

latimesfobSo with so many wonderful fairs coming up, will you be going? First on the list for sunny Southern California, where I hale from, is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  I am looking forward to being a participant in this event this year and not just a bystander.  Though, it was pretty amazing to be a bystander last year.  All those books (insert drool).

I met so many great new authors, received so much valuable information, and walked away with too many books.  Is there such a thing as too many books? There were well over 500 booths spread across the beautiful USC campus.  There were speakers, live entertainment, and specialty sections for comics, poetry, children’s books, and more.  It went on for as far as the eye could see.

This year I am teaming up with my publicist at Blackbird LSD to share a tent on April 20-21st, 2013 at the USC campus.  He will be representing several authors who are unable to attend the event themselves for various reasons: work and distance seem to be the biggest factors.  There are several companies out there offering to do this anywhere from $1500 to $3,500, from what I have seen so far, and many only place a copy of the book on the shelf.  And only a handful of books are cover out, while hundred of them are spine out.

I almost paid for this service last year through a major publicity house at $1850 to feature my book or $2500 if I wanted to set up a one hour book signing time. I’m so glad I didn’t do it.  I passed their tent and it was set up like a book store with several swivel book shelves in the middle and a bunch of shelves against the perimeter.  It truly resembled a bookstore and when I inquired about some books, the woman there simply read the back of the book.  It was so cold, and there weren’t very many people in that tent.  My guess is, people were intimidated by the countless books and didn’t know where to begin.  On the other hand, the tents with fewer books had droves of people walking through, and those tents with people knowledgeable about the books definitely had a small gathering at all times.

So what my friends (and book lovers) at Blackbird LSD are doing this year, is purchasing a large tent and featuring books for authors who can not be there.  How is this different from the big companies with racks and shelves of books? Simple: quantity and quality.

They will only take a limited amount of books and try to hit different genres so there aren’t twenty war books competing with each other.  They will also create posters to be placed above each person’s book and each book will be cover out in it’s own section of the tent.  There will also be a flyer circulating with the titles of each book being repped, an author website or fan page listed, and a synopsis of the book next to it.  All books will also be listed with links on the Blackbird LSD website and social media accounts which include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  They would also ask that each author also link some of the other authors at least once on their social media accounts to cross promote.

Blackbird LSD, we <3 books

Blackbird LSD, we

If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to show up to do a book signing of your book that is represented, you are more than welcome.  I will share more information as it is given to me.  I know the L.A. Festival of Books is a great event and one not to be missed.  For more information on having your book represented please contact Daniel at editor@blackbirdlsd.  See you there.

Tania L Ramos

For more information on the L.A. Times festival of Books, click here

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