To Do or Not To Do

I was just about in panic mode when God showed me that I needed to slow down. What’s the hurry? He asked.

“I’ve got my book to launch and promote, vegetables to can or freeze, work, preparing for my daughter’s wedding this week, deep house cleaning, and all that goes along with everything I just listed.

“Take a deep breath,” He said.

“Okay?” deep breathing here…I took three deep breaths.

“Now, don’t you feel better?” He asked.

“Yes. Yes, I do.” In fact, while I was breathing deeply, God showed me that the sun will set every day, just as it will rise. The birds will be chirping, the vegetables will still be there, whether I pick them or not, whether I freeze them or not. The house isn’t going anywhere either. So, did my work go away? No. I still have a lot to do, but I’m not going to stress over it. What’s the point?

Stress can kill you. There, I said it. So, I will take one day at a time, doing what I can, and live for another day. I will enjoy each day, the best I can and move my to do list one more day into the future until it eventually gets done.

To Do List

  1. Dusting     (Lets me come up with story ideas)
  2. Cleaning Woodwork  (more story ideas)
  3. Laundry (easily done while doing above chores)
  4. Gardening (picking vegetables, pulling weeds, allow more story ideas to grow)
  5. Planting Outdoor Flowers (more story ideas)
  6. Arranging Outdoor Furniture (I see a pattern here)
  7. Washing Outdoor Furniture     (mindless chores)
  8. Sweeping, Vacuuming, Mopping Floors
  9. Cleaning Bathrooms   (I can think of more fun things)

Not To Do List

No complaining!  All of the above allow me more time to actually work on my stories in my head so that when I DO FIND TIME TO WRITE, the writing will come easy.

Okay, my rant is over, my mind refreshed and my chores done!

 

What if?

What if we had a space capable military that could protect us from outside visitors? What if we had active space programs that searched our solar system for life? What if we had probes that visited each planet in our solar system (like the Mars Rover) and reported back to us with videos and live feeds from these planets? What if we had our own space ships capable of intergalactic travel where we could visit these planets and begin colonies there?

What if we had aliens from other planets already living here? What if some of these alien races looked just like us? What if some of these alien races lived underground or under the ocean? What if some of these alien races have already bred with humans? What if some of those people who have been abducted are being used to carry alien babies? What if the humans who have been abducted and have found alien devices that were implanted in them, suddenly were forced to do something against their will (all at the same time)?

NASA IMAGE

What if we were approached by an alien race who happens to be human and they offer to teach us their technology in exchange for trade and commerce?

These are just some of the questions I came up with after watching UFOTV or documentaries I’ve seen about UFOs, abductions, aliens, and space ships. It helps me to create a story and a world where these things can happen.

I’ve sent off book 2, “Revenge,” of the “Vaedra Chronicles” series to my editor. Now I’m working on book 3, “The Return,” and book 1 of the “Angel Chronicles” series called “The Quest.”

In “The Return,” I answer some of these questions. If you’d like to read Chapter One of “The Abduction,” go to my website: www.esterlopez.com and join my Readers Group. There, you’ll be able to get a FREE copy of “The Vaedra Chronicles” which is the companion book to “The Abduction.” Happy reading!

 

“Revenge” Book 2 in “The Vaedra Chronicles” Series

As an update on my second book, “Revenge,” I’m working on edits I received from my editor.  Editing my own work makes it harder to see some of the obvious mistakes.  Even after waiting awhile before going over the manuscript the last time, I still missed some things. So, I have my work cut out for me.

This whole writing journey is a learning experience for me.  Although I have a book out, “The Abduction,” I often wonder if I can make it better some how.  I’m sure even the best authors may think about tweaking their “babies” after they’ve published them.

I look at it this way, after I get “Revenge” finally published, it will be the best I can make it.  I will work harder on book three, “The Return.”  I’m hoping to launch my paranormal series this year as well.  When I have time (and much later than this year) I will take another look at book one and maybe tweak it just a little, releasing it as a ‘new edition’ or ‘second edition.’  There’s always room for improvement and I know I will only get better as a writer as I continue to write more books.

The Return

While I’m still doing re-writes for “Revenge,” my second book in the Vaedra Chronicles Series, I am also working on “The Return.”  “The Return” is book three in the series and is Adam’s return to Earth to share technology that the Vaedra System has and Earth needs. Or does it?

There is a lot of talk about “the black government” or as  “The Men In Black” refer to themselves as a secret government agency that controls the alien population on the Earth.  I loved those movies until I realized that although they were funny sci-fi spoofs, they were about a real government agency.  This agency has made people “disappear” or have “fatal accidents” that on the surface looked that way, but if they had been investigated, would have shown them to not be accidents at all.  Those were people that would have exposed this agency to the public.  Why is this such a secret anyway, when so many people believe it is actually going on?

In my book, “The Return,” I plan to use some of these theories in a “what if…?” scenario and let you be the judge.

Some books along this line of thinking that you might want to read are:  “UFOs Exempt from Disclosure” (The Black World of UFOs) by Robert M. Collins with Richard C. Doty; “Millenial Hospitality,” by Charles James Hall; and “Area 51,” by Bob Mayer.  And a new one I just finished is “Exodus” by Andreas Christensen.  Christensen’s book is more about what would happen if we had to leave Earth because it was on a collision course with another planet.  That opened up a whole different set of ideas.

If you love sci-fi, check those books out.  It will be worth your time.

Romancing the Smokies

Those who follow me know I write sci-fi and paranormal romance.

My first book, “The Abduction,” has been out since last April as an ebook and last July as a print book.  

My second book, “Revenge,” was supposed to debut this month but it looks more like April before it’s ready.

With that being said, I will bring my sci-fi adventure romance book to the “Romancing the Smokies” event this Friday-Saturday (March 17th-18th) at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa, TN.  I went last year as a reader and had a blast.  I met lots of authors and other readers at this event.  There were parties, networking opportunities, great food, an auction for a pet shelter in Newport, and many other things I can’t even remember.  I know I spent over $100 in great books (all autographed by the authors).  This year, I will be attending as an author for the first time.

I’m bringing some goodies for the “goodie bags,” a special gift for each attendee for Friday night’s “Gathering on the Emerald Isle,” special goodies for people at my luncheon table, and a special basket for the  “Baskets for Bebo” segment which donates the money to the Newport Animal Shelter.

All the lettering on the glasses were hand-done by Nastausha at The Chest and Chair. www.thechestandchair.com 

Inside the basket, I have AVON products like bubble bath, shower gel, body lotion, sun tan lotion, nail products, a credit card case, water bottle, jewelry, the special wine glass, wine from The Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, TN, my book, “The Abduction,” and of course, chocolate.

I hope you can join us for a fun-filled event this weekend.  It’s not too late to get tickets.  Go to: www.romancingthesmokies.com.  If you can’t make it, I will be posting some images to this blog and my Facebook page.  You can follow me at www.facebook.com/esterlopez.1

Events

The Indie Writers Cooperative is hosting a Valentine’s Day event on February 11, 2017 all day.  Seventeen authors will take an hour spot to chat with readers and other authors about their books, or whatever inspires them at the time.  My time slot is from 4-5pm EST, so I hope you will join me.

I’m working on a game idea where readers can post the answer to questions and get their name in a drawing for a prize.  Or perhaps, everyone who participates will get a prize, but one lucky person will get a “grand prize.”

Coming up with questions will be the hardest part.  Should I post my first chapter of “The Abduction” so people can read the story and then ask questions about the chapter?  Should I ask general questions about sci-fi things and give prizes for those answers?

And what type of prizes do people want to earn?  Reading/writing related?  Or something completely different?

Join me Saturday, February 11, 2017 from 4-5pm EST and see what I come up with.

https://www.facebook.com/events/725381740968413/

Revenge!

Have you ever felt like getting even?  Have you ever been hurt enough by someone that you wanted them to suffer like you did?  Even though we are supposed to forgive one another, the thought of revenge has crossed my mind.  Not that I carried it out, but I had thought about it at least once.  Maybe everyone has, at least once.  Is it normal?  Maybe.

I based my second book on revenge.  When a reformed criminal decides to turn over a new leaf and fight on the side of the “law” instead against it, he feels like maybe his life would count for something.  Maybe he could make up for the bad things he did by doing good.  The only problem is he didn’t count on all the people who wanted revenge against him.

Here’s my back page blurb:

Living a life of crime to support himself and his baby sister, Berto takes the chance to turn his life around by working for the Interplanetary Space Patrol.

Keeping a dark secret and hiding his telekinetic powers, he manages to finally fit in.  Everything seems to be working out just fine until he discovers the woman he loves wants revenge against her brother’s murderer.  But she’s not the only one who wants him dead.

Sabotage and murder shake up the tiny Meta Base Station of the I.S.P., but the death of an agent and a compromised mission in space changes everything.

I would love to get some reviews for this book, “Revenge,” before it’s published, as well as for book number one, “The Abduction.”  Contact me at ester@esterlopez.com if you’re interested. Put “Review Revenge” in the subject area and I’ll send you the .doc file.  If you’d like to get a FREE copy of “The Abduction” and “Revenge,” join my launch team.  Start at www.esterlopez.com and I’ll send you an email on how to join my launch team.

Screenwriting Advice

Looking over some older interviews, I thought I would share some advice from screenwriters I have met. Some of these insights have helped me.  I hope they help you.  Enjoy!

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“The best advice, of course, is to write. Write all the time. Beyond that, get involved. Every community has their aspiring filmmakers and those filmmakers are generally always looking for scripts. Find out how you can work with them to get your name out there. With the opening up of the movie industry, there are so many possibilities. If you can’t find others to work with, make your own film. Just do it! Don’t let any mountain be an obstacle.” Screenwriter, Debra Doggett

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“Two things stand out in my learning process. First, screenwriting is hard but exhilarating. Second, it pays to write both the book and the script as well. James Dalessendro who was one of the speakers at our San Francisco mini-conference told me he does the same thing and encouraged me to continue that process.” Screenwriter, Evelyn Morgan

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“Identify your strengths and make those your mantras, and then persist.” Screenwriter Nancy Haddock

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“It takes a long time to hone your craft. I’ve been writing scripts for only four years and with every script I write, my writing skills get stronger, my structural skills get stronger, and my confidence builds.  I script doctor a little on the side as well.  One of my clients was frustrated with his lack of progress since he began writing two years ago and asked me if he should give up.  My answer was ‘Hell, no!’  It takes years to hone your skills.  I’m not there yet.  Sure, I’ve had some success at this, but you can’t just throw your hands up in the air if you don’t place in a contest or no one ever reads your synopsis on Inktip.  You just have to write a better story, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Get yourself into a writers’ group or form one yourself with other writers, and by writers, I mean screen-writers.  Don’t think for a moment that your family members, friends, or even your fiction writers’ group can give you the type of feedback you need on scripts.  I’ve been with the same group for two years now.  We call ourselves ‘The Strivers’ – we’re all striving for success in this business.  We meet every three weeks religiously, have strict guidelines for critiquing, and really try to help each other move the ball forward.  We talk about our frustrations, we talk about screenwriting in general, we talk about the industry, we celebrate each members’ achievements, and we provide the type of moral support screenwriters need, knowing the odds that face us.  Get yourself a posse.  It’s worked wonders for me.

The other advice I’d give to other writers is that writing the script is only half the job.  Once you write FADE OUT, your job isn’t over.  Phase One is over.  Phase Two, the marketing Phase, is just beginning.  You need to keep in mind that with every script you have, you need to have a business plan for that script, to get it sold or produced.  That’s the end game.  This means time spent with the Hollywood Creative Directory.  This means investing in contest entries.  This means sending out a really well-crafted query letter to multiple contacts.  This means sitting down and putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and creating a physical business plan for each script.”  Screenwriter, Karen Webb

 

Things I Would Do Differently

After launching my first book earlier this year, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Of course, I thought I knew all the steps before I took them, but I also knew I would learn something from this venture.

Even after self-editing, sending the book off to an editor, revising, and proof-reading, I still caught some things that I missed.

Lesson #1 – When self-editing, do a spell check, grammar check, eliminate passive words, check dialog by reading it out loud, then transfer the manuscript to something else (printed copy, ebook, PDF to proofread)

Lesson #2 – After self-editing, use a critique group or beta readers to catch extraneous or overused words, run-on sentences, redundancies, places to tighten dialog or paragraphs, unclear scenes or transitions, tonal shifts, or unnatural phrasing or pacing.

Lesson #3 – Make any corrections or revisions necessary.

Lesson #4 – Send to editor.

Lesson #5 – Revise, self-edit and let someone else proof-read.

Lesson #6 – Make any corrections necessary then send to different beta readers for content editing.

Lesson #7 – Self-edit one final time.

Lesson #8 – Create metadata (everything about your book that is not your book) and use this in the long blurb (back cover) and in the short blurb (used for marketing purposes). Create a text file of these keywords and update every 30 days.

Lesson #9 – Create finished document parts. This is something I wish I had done more thoroughly. I had some of this, but this list is more extensive. Some of these apply to non-fiction as well as fiction:
-about the author
-testimonials/endorsements
-acknowledgements
-dedication
-foreward
-afterward
-personal note
-reader’s guide
-translation key
-index
-bibliography
-maps/tables/illustrations
-disclaimer
-excerpts/previews
-more books
-links/QR codes

Lesson #10 – Notify contractors
-cover artists
-interior graphic designer
-layout draftsman/final formatter
1.formatting – title graphics, scene breaks, cover, drop caps, bleed

Lesson #11 – Notify Influencers
-for testimonials and endorsements
-street team members
-reviewers

Lesson #12 – Line up Marketing Efforts
-Facebook
-Google +
-Twitter
-Instagram
-LinkedIn
-Pinterest
-Press Releases
-Blog Tours
-Goodreads
-Library Thing
-Interviews
-Online Launch Party
-Facebook live streaming parties with giveaways
-Pay for Ads on Release Day

Lesson #13 – Write or Produce something NEW every 90 days!

I’m sure I can learn something with each new book, but this is enough to keep me busy for now. A special thanks to Hallee Bridgeman and Greg Bridgeman for their detailed information in their “Seven Steps to Successful Self-Publishing.” I got a lot of new information on the self-editing process from listening to their talk. If you ever have the chance to take one of their classes, jump on it. You will learn a lot!