Tag Archives: author

Word Loss: A Great Fear

Since I was a wee child words have been my greatest asset. Word games? All me. Bring it on: Scrabble, Boggle, Words with Friends, even the ever fun family game of Words. I could out talk, and out verbally wit for that matter, just about anyone looking to verbally rumble. Ah, the good ol’ days when the words flowed like a Hawaiian volcano.

Flash forward to 2017 and a 43-year-old writer. A person of words. A person who was  a walking dictionary and thesaurus. Now I struggle for familiar words. The simple everyday words at that. In one story I struggled to recall the word charming. Imagine that. Not some crazy twelve letter twenty-dollar word. I was scrambling in my mind. It sounds like “C’,” like chair, like something yellow-orange (okay, I relate things to colors). It’s a man, like tall man, like that guy from that movie and a chair.

“Loss of words is actually part of the aging process …”

I’m not saying the thought processes of my mind are fluid, but there’s a method to my madness. After finally looking up the name of Cinderella’s dream man, I was able to get the word. Then for ten minutes I shook my head and wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I was worried to the point I was almost physically ill.

This isn’t something new. About five years ago I realized the words were escaping me. A real nightmare for any writer. Since I was twelve I suffered debilitating migraines and was once told, after a brain study, that I had lesions on my brain from the severity of the migraines. My personal research proves this is a possibility, which is why migraine sufferers have a greater chance of having a stroke (sorry, interjecting my medical career there). Back to the point: I wondered if perhaps lesions had anything to do with memory loss.

blurRecently, I spoke with a few other men and women my age and took note that they all searched the vast blue sky for certain words that were “at the tip of their tongue.” After asking if they had more of a difficult time remembering simple words, they all said they did, that sometimes even simple words were a blur. Great!! I mean, not great, but yes. Loss of words is actually a part of the aging process, which is why verbal engagement and mental stimulation is so key as we get older.

I have Thesauraus.com as a favorite on my computer, and such a lifesaver. I try to use new words everyday. I also work to recall a word using any kind of cue I can before looking it up. The computer is  my last resort, though I’ve called in a life line or two.

Me: Dasan, what is that thingy called?
Dasan: What thingy?
Me: You know. You go to someone’s house and you push the thingy so they answer the door. The pushy button thingy?
Dasan: You mean a doorbell?
Me: Awesome. Thanks.

It’s pretty much like that. So when my various writing groups pose the question, “What scares you most as a writer?” My answer is always the same: Losing the words.

What scares you most as a writer? As a writer do you get a little worried about losing words?

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
Follow me on FB, Twitter, or visit my WEBSITE for book info

The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
Follow me on Twitter, FB, and visit my website

NaNoWriMo Hangover

This is the 2nd year of my participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I am pleased to report this is my nine-year-old daughter’s first participation in the Young Writer’s NaNoWriMo, and her 1st win. This year we have won together.

Thousands of writers, young and seasoned, participate in NaNoWriMo every November. The quest for adult writers is to hit 50,000 words in 30 days. 50,000 has been deemed the minimal number of words to consider a novel, as opposed to a novelette or a novella. Authors from across the globe do this one month marathon for many reason, and to each their own.

For myself, I’m one of those people who loves a good challenge, but put accolades to be won in front of my nose and the competitor in me grunts and growls all the way to the finish line. I love trinkets, little charms, even digital, that show my accomplishments. A trophy for starting. A trophy for hitting 10,000 words. A little digital sticker for writing a specified amount of days in a row. Yep, those are my motivators. I should’ve been a Girl Scout, I would’ve been awesome.

nano-2016-winner

50,000 words, although technically a novel, has never been enough words for me. I’m usually fetal and crying on the cutting room floor when an editor says 118,000 words is just too much. “B-b-b-but, they are my babies. I can’t just cut 10 to 18 thousand words!” Well, with that bit of information, my NaNoWriMo marathon is only the beginning. But after one month of prep, one month if strict writing and focus, an awful lot of inappropriate words, and sheer seclusion from anything other than fictional characters, I am spent.

Plain and simple, the marathon for two years in a row has turned into the death of two stories. I’m just not fit to go on for another 50,000 (at least) words. Oye vay. Yet, there are those finish liners, those gold medal winners who go on and push forward through to completion. I salute you, and think there should be a digital NaNoWriMo golden book sticker for those writers whom complete NaNoWriMo AND actually keep writing their book to completion. Maybe then I would finish a marathon book. I do love my accomplishment awards.

Am I the only writer out there that suffers NaNoWriMo hangover? I’d love to hear your comments.

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

Follow me on TWITTER & FACEBOOK or visit my WEBPAGE for more

Why Giveaway Your Talent?

Many authors, painters, and sculptors get asked this question: Why is it so much? Newbies, you will want to read this.

Coming from a very artistic family, my brother was often asked why his paintings cost so much? I have been asked to give books away for free.There are several ways to gauge a cost: How famous is the creator? How much time went into creating this work? How much were the materials to create this work?

The one people most commonly will understand is how much material went into the work. They are more apt to understand a higher cost of something if, say a sculpture, was made of copper. The one people don’t usually understand is the value of time.

Almost all people are paid by time;  by the hour. You put in 8 hours at work and you are paid for those 8 hours. Of course, the hourly wage will depend on the type of work. Let’s just say that any indie artist is paid minimum wage (in CA that’s $10). As an independent author, writing a novel may take me 300 hours (that’s being generous). In theory, I should make $3,000. But nobody is paying me. My income comes from sales of books.

On average, an independent author receives about $2.00 from the sale of a physical book and $1.75 from the sale of an e-book. Those prices fluctuate depending on how they went about publishing, so +-$1.00 in either direction.

Here’s the math:

At a $15 dollar book, making only $2.00 royalty per book, I need to sell 1,500 books to earn minimum wage for my 300 hours. the average indie author sells 10 books. It’s a labor of love.

Here’s some more math:

I pay an editor $1500 to edit my book. I pay $100 to buy an ISBN for my book to be sold. I pay $500-$1500 to have someone professionally format that book. Then, I either publish on my own (Amazon) or go through a vanity press, in which you can tack on another $1,000 to $5,000 dollars. So recoup those costs, I’ve got to sell another 3,ooo+ books.

But wait! There’s more.

A book lost in cyberspace is just that: Lost. Now I’ve got to let people know this book is alive. As an independent author, I’ve got a few devote friends and family, a loyal stalker or two, but no huge fan base that jumps for joy whenever a new book comes out. So I have to start marketing. My latest Facebook ad cost $38.83 to reach 2,300 people total. But that’s just reach. I need clicks. I need purchases!! Of those 2,300 reach 171 clicked through to see what I’m selling and about 7 downloaded the e-book. I spent $38.83 for 7 sales and made about $10.

The question again: why does a book, painting, piece of art cost so much? Why can’t you float me a book for free?

Because it cost more than I may ever recoup and nothing is ever really free. Even if I gave the book for free, it actually cost me my soul. See below for my October royalties. In total there were 9 books or e-books sold (ignore the 19 I had an author order of 10 books in there). Total gross sales were $68.83 and royalties paid to me were $15.40. I made about a quarter of the gross or $1.71 average per book. Who else would work for that?

october-royalties

 

So why do it? I get asked that quite a bit. Why? Because writing is in my soul. This is what brings me comfort and peace. And if i could write for a living, I would absolutely do it. Once a year, maybe twice, I’ll get a great review, or someone who says that my story touched them or made them think. One person said she picked up the phone and called her father after ten years of being estranged from him, after reading my book Be Still. Yeah. That’s why. Happy reading and happy writing.

Follow me at Facebook and Twitter. For more information on my books visit the author webpage HERE

Tania L Ramos RN BSN

The Darkness Paved my Road

What a wild ride this summer has been. Turns out a little love triangle was actually a love octagon … fitting given the octagon is a battle arena. My son asked how I was doing, and I casually responded, “It’s not all bad. I mean, the gray skies have changed to silver, so there’s some glimmer and shine to the dull.”

All-in-all, I won’t be held down. But, my feet are in this running motion now. Every few years I get the itch to hit foot to ground and see how far I can get. That feeling has been coming in waves so high I may drown. Lately these memes keep popping up around me; these opportunities consistently present themselves, and for one who believes in divine signs, I gotta listen to the world around me.

The world will not change; only I can change my world. So i’m doing it. Taking the plunge and running away to a fresh new start. New city. New home. New life. New love. The evil, the darkness, the madness, the psychotics will all be left behind to figure themselves out and wallow in the shallow misery they created for themselves; one they will never escape unless they never look in a mirror again. One day I’ll look back at that one picture I saved, and only because my daughter was so darn cute in it, and I’ll know that five years of my life was a lie. What a wild ride. A ride that drove me to a peaceful plot of land overlooking vast mountains and a tiny sleepy city below. Maybe, just maybe, the psychotic darkness paved the road for my happily ever after.

Maybe, I have a best seller.

Video

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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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