Happy Book Birthday (to me).

HudI can go into this whole thing about what the book is about and how I spent hours upon hours of writing. I can tell stories about how I went through three drafts and had to re-write the ending. I can talk about isbns, self publishing, and the creation of the cover. The thing is, I just don’t want to. I feel that all these things are just to get people excited about a book that came out a year ago.

Instead, I will talk about what it means to be an author. I was having a discussion the other day with a friend a mine and she was telling me that she felt that blogging has become flooded. Everyone wants to blog and if that is the case, does that mean everyone is a writer? I’m not sure I can answer that. I don’t have an MFA. I don’t run writing workshops.

What I do know is that being a writer is something that has defined who I am. I’ve always done it. I’ve always written stories, I just never followed through. Hanging Upside Down is the first real literary work that I’ve followed through on. This does not include research papers, essays, old and new blogs, poems, or short stories that I’ve codified in a nice little folder. The act of following through for me is what changed my status from a writer to an author. It is that act of follow through that has gotten me to finish the second book. I never wanted to be an author of just ONE book.

I’ve enjoyed my rookie year as author. I’ve learned a lot about the industry, about how book sales and royalties work, and I’ve learned how to handle the various amounts of bullshit that comes across my way. I’ve come to respect those who have come before me and those who come out with books almost every year. I find myself enjoying other people’s work a lot more because I can see the little nuances in every chapter while questioning if I would have written some passages differently.

I’ve learned to soak in the successes and deal with the failures and to be honest, there enough on both sides to cancel things out. My measure of success is based on the goals I’ve set for myself. I have never, nor will I ever, base my success on money or fame. Consistency is the only way I can continue to make strides. If I’m constant in what I’m doing the rewards will be far more than I can imagine.

There are some rewards to this. I’ve never said no to anyone who needs advice about writing a book. I feel it is my duty as an author to help writers with their goals. I have a particular interest in writers of color so much so that I have really thought about doing some drastic things. The problem is that I have no time to do anything more than just be a guide.

Lastly, I feel that I need to address a perception that I think people have of authors from my limited point of view in this space. I think there is the perception that because I have a book out that I’m automatically a success in the field. I get the feeling that many people who have not read or bought the book think, I will get to it sometime, he is fine. I say this as a writer of color and not just some self published writer, you cannot simply bypass a product simply because you assume our work is doing well. At the same time, you cannot assume something is not good if we are not mainstream.

Being an author means I’ve joined a community of folks who followed through on their writing goals. I look forward to sharing this journey each step of the way. I still can’t believe it has been a year but pretty soon I will be saying, I can’t believe I wrote a second book.

Fall Free Write One


I need to pick this up. It’s hard to consider lack of post entries slacking when the majority of the time, I’m writing a second book. Yet, I feel that I’m a bit of slump now that the book has gone to edits. Almost like I don’t know what to right or say because parts of my mind is still left on those chapters I gave to someone else to look at.

So I free write so that I can get the engine started again. I free write so I can get my thoughts back together, so I can become familiar with this space again. While, you the reader (if you’re indeed still reading) see a black background with grey lettering, I see a white page being slowly filled with black lettering all because I need to get back into motion.

The thing is that I feel like I’m being too technical with my blogs. It almost started to feel like work which is not a good thing because I have enough work to as it is. I want to get back to those days when the words poured out of me, when I wrote because I wanted to say things that I felt. Now, things feel cold and technical. I’ve left all the passion on the page and not on the blog. I feel like have to explain what I mean and how the world works (because black lives matter, and no one is illegal, and stop mansplaining to women). I remember a time when I wasn’t worried about book sales and writing workshops. I remember a time when I could write more than fifty effing blogs post a year but those times seem to have past.

Those where the times when I just talked for the sake of talking and not the sake of doing. I would talk all the shit in the world about how I wanted to publish a book and never took two steps to do anything about it. Those were the times when I was in great pain with love and live. When work was a chore and sex was a dry desert. I don’t want to go back to those days long gone so I have to keep moving forward.

Moving forward means working hard and playing hard. Moving forward means saying good bye to friends that were once brothers. Moving forward is posting book quotes and booking information so I can speak about a book that no one has heard of… yet.

I free write because I want to be free. I want to move out of this box that I’ve been put in. I want to escape, break out, no… transcend whatever this thing I’m currently in. Is it a box of expectations? Is a box of false promises? I think it’s a box that writers of color automatically find themselves in. I think it’s a box that self published authors put themselves in. I want to get out of that and connect with the world through the words that I place on the page.

I free write because I refuse to go away.

The Book of Isabel – Draft One

IMG_1289 Last night I completed the first draft of my second book. I’ve been very intentional this year about getting this done. I wanted to finish this book before the summer was over and I’m happy to have completed the final touches a few days after Labor Day.

I was thinking about formally announcing the title at an earlier time but I wanted to wait until I had something to present. Also, I’m thinking that I’ve probably mentioned this title at least once or twice over the last year, so to some people this not a revelation.

Anyway, the real work now begins with editing. I want to take my time and work with several people on this. I’m determined not to make the same mistakes I did with Hanging Upside Down. I anticipate a few more test readers and some proofers to finalize the book edits.

The other thing I’ve done differently is working on the book cover (which I wont release for another month) much earlier than I did with my first book. I know the type of feeling I want to give off when people see the cover and I’m sure that I was able to succeed at that goal as well. I’m working with an artist on some final touches with it.

I say all this because I feel bad that I’ve not been able to blog more. There was time when I would blog about things that I claim to be doing but I’ve moved on passed that. I want to focus on this book so that I can finally talk about something I’ve done and not something I’m doing (does that make sense?).

So over the next few months I will be really getting into this book and formulating a synopsis. The thing about self publishing is that the author has to think beyond the text. I have to think about the business side. While there was a time when I was nervous during the first time I did this, I am now looking forward to rocking this out. I know whom to contact and what the process is to get this book off the ground.

I’m excited.

A Fine Line

IMG_1254 …at the end of the day I just want to write something.
…at the end of the day I just want to create something.

the question really is, does it matter if anyone reads?
there is a fine line between recognition and comprehension
there is a fine line between love and hate
there is a line between genius and madness

how do I codify the drivel people love?
how does anyone move passed it?

at the end of the day I just want to create something
like an uncommon codex
but does it matter if people read?

the best manuscripts collect dust somewhere
the best minds un-apologetically discuss it
in programs and workshops
but reading is a rainbowed art form that people pretend to like

writing is a pot of lucky charms
that people delve into
in order to get gold marshmallows
that fade a way into the arms of the Amazonian drones

meanwhile, dewey decimals are covered in dust kicked up by
twerking appropriations,
140 characters messages,
64GB must have devices,
pictures of words posted on social media,
and 200-word click bait articles.

at the end of the day I just want to write something
but does it matter if people read?

Stephen’s Ghost


This past weekend in Los Angeles, a Zine came out called “The Worlds Tallest Tales” by ITSWOLF. Within this sleek booklet is a 500 word story that I wrote specifically for this publication. A Big thank you to a former student, Renee Reizman for talking me into do this.

Without further ado…

It’s a hot Saturday afternoon and the block is unusually quiet. My cousin and I are spending another slow summer day wishing high school never starts up again. We’re sitting on the stoop enjoying the summer breeze while eating ham & cheese heroes, and drinking malta since there’s no AC in the house. My father thinks that living in a house without air conditioning builds character. I think he doesn’t want to give Con-Ed any more money than he has to, otherwise we’d be in my room playing yet another game of Contra on my Nintendo.

Our house sits on the corner of Gildersleeve, so our stoop overlooks much of this area. Our neighborhood is a nine block radius connected by Gildersleeve that starts from Pugsley Creek and ends at Harding Park.

We see my buddy Stephen and his two sisters walking down the block abnormally fast. I call out to him before he can pass my house. They look totally spooked, so I walk down the stairs to stop them.

“Hey man, you look bugged out,” I say as I look at them. The girls look like they want to cry. My cousin comes up behind me because he’s as curious as I am.

“Oh man, we just came from Kirk’s house. You won’t believe what happened,” Stephen says. His voice sounds a bit shaky. Kirk is one of the kids we hang out with, he lives right up the street on Gildersleeve.

“So what’s up with Kirk?”

“He invited us over so we can play with his Ouija board.”

“Well, why the hell would you do that?”

“I don’t know! He said we could talk to this friendly ghost in his house, so I felt compelled. I didn’t believe him at first, but then we started playing around and asking questions. Everything was cool until the lights flickered. Then the only word the board started spelling was, die!”

“Holy shit,” I say looking at my cousin.

“The friendly ghost took over and said he would get rid of the evil spirit tonight. He said when you hear a loud bang, you know the deed is done.”

“Get the fuck outta here. I don’t believe that,” I say.

I’m a little freaked out, but I know this isn’t real. We watch Stephen and the girls walk away. My cousin and I laugh, then go inside the house to play Contra.

Hours later we’re on the stoop again, eating ice cream cones from Mr. Softee when we hear a loud blast coming from the direction of Kirk’s house. My cousin looks at me, wide eyed.

“You don’t think…?” He asks.

We walk slowly down the stairs and then up the block when we see it, a raging inferno coming from Kirk’s house. I’m paralyzed with fear, not knowing what to do. It must’ve been an explosion!

I hear Stephen walk up behind us. He stares at the fire and smiles. He says, calmly in a deeper voice, “The deed is done.”


Too see other stories I’ve written, please check out my Goodreads page.

Book Two – Legitimacy & Beyond

IMG_0707The last time I counted, I am passed 70k in words for my current novel. The significance in this is that I’m way ahead of schedule on where I thought I would be. I promised that I would finish draft one by the end of this summer and it may jut be that I will finish it sometime really soon.

By my estimates of what I’ve already written and what I have left, leads me to believe that I have about 15 to 20k words left in this story and that is being generous. So I’m three quarters done with the book. Of course, we go into a different phase once actual editing begins, but its safe to say that I can make some short term projections based on where I am right. I foresee the book being released summer of next year. But things can change.

The other thing that is freaking me out is how easy the transitions from book 2 to book 3 will be. I can literally start book three while the second one is being edited. At this moment, I’m not sure I will do that, but I can. At this time, I’m in a pretty good groove. I’ve refined my writing habits to the point where I may not want to stop writing even when I’m done with draft one. While I could write more blogs, I may just continue on to the next book because the drive and inspiration may still be there when the time comes. It will take months to edit and when I get bogged down with that, I have another outlet.

batman-beginsRight now, all this stuff feels like yammering but the point I’m trying to make is that I didn’t realize how fast I’ve been writing all this time. It’s almost like Interstellar where time moves slower in some places and faster in others. There are times where I feel like I’m taking too long of a break and before I know it, I’m at like 70k in words.

The reality is that the number of words do matter to me because I don’t want any of my books to feel too long or too short. I know that stories will be as long as they have to but as a self published author, I feel that there is also a struggle for legitimacy. That struggle is strictly based on where I see myself in 10 years. I can parade Hanging Upside Down all day, but if I just stop there what does that make me?

In 10 years, I want someone to look at my author profile and see 4 – 5 books listed. That is what makes me legitimate in my mind. I need to put in the work and that work never ends. So if my current book does not do well and becomes the book that time forgot, I will have a list of other books that people, more importantly my progeny, can see and realize that I am more than the sum of books.

Right now, what I am is an author who is 2/3 done with his second book.

How I Lost 20 effing Pounds

IMG_0478It’s crazy actually, but I don’t think I did anything amazing. I just did a few things that I said I was going to do and the results have been more than I could’ve hoped for. I lost 20 pounds in about 45 days and weight loss was not even my goal, it was a result of me just trying to be healthier.

I may have explained this before but there have been 5 people in my life that have gotten cancer. 4 of those are relatives. 2 of those 5 are my age. The thing that doctors tell cancer patients and survivors is that they need to change their diet. So I started thinking, why wait for that to happen? I should just start now.

I stated last month that I was going to stop eating meat. There were some jokes and some looks that I got. The comments were interesting both on Facebook and on Twitter. Most were supportive, of course, but I had to convince some family members that I was not going to force my beliefs on anyone. They can have all the meat they want but I will still continue to this lifestyle.

That is the key to this. This is not a diet, this is lifestyle. I run 2-3 times a week and I changed my eating habits. There is no special pill, no green ring that works on will power, and no formula to any of this, just motivation. However, I write about this because people do asking me what am I doing that has allowed me to be this way.

Well first, I eat Fish which technically means I’m a Pescatarian so that does help because, depending on the fish, it is generally healthier. I stay way from fast foods and, of course, I drink tons of water. However, the most important thing that I have changed in my life has been the decrease of sugar intake. I believe this is the number one reason for my weight loss. The reason I added this along with giving up meat is because outside the threat of cancer is diabetes, which is way too common in my family.

My daily intake of sugar is from 5g – 20gs a day. I do strive for the lower end of the spectrum and I know there are days when I don’t consume sugar at all. I’ve gotten very used to not putting sugar in my coffee. That is something that I did every day without fail. Now, I don’t even miss it and in fact, I don’t even put milk in my coffee anymore.

Here is some example of what I do for meals each day. I don’t do these all at once or even every day but these are my options:

9e2cV5ZBreakfast: Eggs. Cheerios (1g of sugar) with milk. Banana. Black Coffee. Croissant (6g of sugar). Pancakes and French Toast are a rarity because syrup is high in sugar.

Lunch: I have salad everyday for lunch. When I don’t, it is generally a veggie burrito. If I’m slumming it, peanut butter & banana sandwich (Multi-grain Bread)

Dinner: Fish (Salmon, Sushi, etc), veggies, pasta, rice, quinoa, beans,

Snacks: Fruits, walnuts, peanuts, cheese, crackers.

These are samples of what I do. Sometimes I will have tuna fish sandwich for lunch or a slice of cheese pizza. The most important thing is that I do not have too much of the guilty pleasures like ice cream, cookies, and chocolate. Trust me, I can kill those, but I do have them in moderation.

Speaking of moderation, I have eaten meat a small number of times in the past 45 days. I would say no more than 6 times. I’ve come to realize that I cannot go over board when it comes to the consumption of meat because it actually has been making me sick and that was just one hot dog. So, for me, if I’m going to eat meat or poultry (because, after all I am Latino) then it will be on my terms.

That is also the key everything. I’m doing all lifestyle change on my terms and it feels great.

Ant-Man and the Hombre Pequeño

Ant-Man-Character-Poster-Michael-PenaThis is not a review of Ant-Man. Let’s get that out of the way so you know that very few thing in this article contains spoilers. However, I need for you to be on the same page with me so I’m going to assume you’ve either seen it or you don’t care about things being slightly spoiled for you.

I want to go on record by saying that Ant-Man gets a B+ because it has all the elements of a typical fun loving super hero movie that you can expect from Marvel. But again, this is not a review of Ant-Man. But what do we really come to expect from a Marvel movie? A fast paced movie, humor, poorly written women characters, mid credit scenes, black side kicks, end of credit scenes, and a Stan Lee appearance. Right?

So let’s add something to the list, Latino coonery. I mean let’s be real about this. People of color have been relegated to side kick roles in all of Marvel’s films thus far. We all know who they are: Nick Fury, Iron Patriot, Falcon, and Hiemdall. None of these are black women, in fact, are there any black women in the Marvel Cinematic universe? Don’t say Storm because that is not the same “universe” we are talking about. Before you wrack your brain and say Zoe Saldana (who is Afro-Latino) understand that she is not portrayed as a woman of color in Guardians of the Galaxy but as an Alien woman which is the a big difference (just like Lupita in Star Wars, who you wont really see) because Gamora is no Amanda Waller.

So now that you know what to expect and what’s been added to the list, lets talk about Ant-Man. Scott Lang is a former criminal looking to change his ways so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that out of his three “friends”, one is Latino and the other is T.I.. Please understand that when I saw that Michael Peña was in this movie, it was sort of big deal because I love this guy. He’s one of those actors that I feel needs more roles especially after seeing his performance in Crash. His character, Luis (which is kinda messed up since that is the name of the protagonist in my book, Hanging Upside Down – shameless plug), is supposed be the muscle of the group from what I gather. But he comes across as a hipster like gang-banger that sounds like Joey from Friends in SAP.

There is no question that he plays this role well. He is indeed funny but, I believe the dotted line between being laughed with and laughed at was crossed. I call it Latino coonery because it was just too much yapping younahwatIissayin? Luis was so just so extra in his words and verbal expressions that I cringed at certain parts. The same exact jokes could have been done without the need to make the only prominent Latino person in the film seem so ridiculous. Yes, it is a good thing that he does have a prominent speaking role and is very useful in his relegated side kick role but he is no where near Cisco from The Flash who is intelligent, witty, in addition to being funny.

What is really strange is the very few people have mentioned this about the film. I know some pretty opinionated people who gloss over this fact and that is alarming to me. I’m hoping that we’re not getting so comfortable seeing these big superhero films that we forget to be socially aware when it comes to pandering, cultural appropriations, and coonish portrayals of people of color in mainstream film.

So if you do see Ant-Man for the first or second time, take notice to what I’m saying. We should expect better from films we freely give our money to. While it is great to see Luis in this film he ends being much smaller than the hero.

Sunset to Sunrise: We’re connected

IMG_0667I have a basic belief. This belief has come to shape me as a person, as a professional, and as a writer. I believe we are all connected. Despite our issues that revolve and evolve around social constructs such as race, gender, and sexuality, I believe we’re all connected at the basic levels of humanity. Perhaps we may not see it so profoundly but it’s there. History tells us that it’s there.

Maybe it was the close proximity to the water from the San Francisco Bay, or the sand from the beach looking out into the Pacific Ocean, or if it crisp air swirling around AT&T park, but I realized that I must travel more in order to become a better writer. The knowledge that instead of seeing the the sunrise from the Atlantic Ocean, I’m seeing it set from the Pacific just gave me the sense that we are not alone and they we experience and perceive the same things differently.

This sense of connectivity was brought home when I read The New Yorker Article about the Cascadia subduction zone. The richly dense article goes into horrifying detail about a earthquake that is likely to happen in the Pacific Northwest. The whole article goes into detail about how this will happen and how scientists were able to discover the history behind the subduction zone. It’s this history that makes this entire thing so very interesting.

The Cascadia fault line was discovered only 50 years ago, which was news to everyone there considering that no earthquakes were ever reported in that area. I wont go into specifics about the Ring of Fire, but I will say that massive research has been done to show that two plates (the Juan de Fuca oceanic plate and the North American tectonic plate) have been stuck together for far too long and it’s only a matter of time before it snaps like a rubber band. How is the connectivity? The history of how this was discovered.

image01It all starts with scientist trying to figure out what happened to the Ghost Forest in Washington. Here are a bunch of dead trees that look really creepy but how did they get they way? In short, they discovered a massive earthquake took place here before America was born. They figure roughly around 1700 this massive quake cause the land around the trees to drop thus killing all them at the same time, which is pretty spooky. But it gets even spookier when they figured out the this date coincides with something called the “orphan tsunami” in Japan.

The article beautifully explains that the Japanese have records of earthquakes and tsunamis for centuries. They understood the correlation between the two so when this random tsunami hit one year without an earthquake, it caused a bit of alarm. This orphan was one of a kind until scientists were able to connect where it came from:

At approximately nine o’ clock at night on January 26, 1700, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest, causing sudden land subsidence, drowning coastal forests, and, out in the ocean, lifting up a wave half the length of a continent. It took roughly fifteen minutes for the Eastern half of that wave to strike the Northwest coast. It took ten hours for the other half to cross the ocean. It reached Japan on January 27, 1700.

That’s some shit right? Well it gets stranger than that and before I get into how, I want to point out that we, as a society, seem to put so little faith into oral histories of other cultures. I think historians tend to be judgmental about people who don’t have a written account of their history. Welp, oral history has a place in this:

In 1964, Chief Louis Nookmis, of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, in British Columbia, told a story, passed down through seven generations, about the eradication of Vancouver Island’s Pachena Bay people. “I think it was at nighttime that the land shook,” Nookmis recalled. According to another tribal history, “They sank at once, were all drowned; not one survived.” A hundred years earlier, Billy Balch, a leader of the Makah tribe, recounted a similar story. Before his own time, he said, all the water had receded from Washington State’s Neah Bay, then suddenly poured back in, inundating the entire region. Those who survived later found canoes hanging from the trees. In a 2005 study, Ruth Ludwin, then a seismologist at the University of Washington, together with nine colleagues, collected and analyzed Native American reports of earthquakes and saltwater floods. Some of those reports contained enough information to estimate a date range for the events they described. On average, the midpoint of that range was 1701.

Damn son, are we not connected? Does this not tell a global history about a cataclysmic event that literally spans the world? Two different types of recorded history from two different civilizations help piece together a modern mystery of the Cascadia subduction zone. A horrible event that shows the destructive force of our planet while at the same times showing that what happens on one side of the world effects the other.

When I was sitting the beach last week out in California, all I could think about is why are we so cruel to other people when the world is so beautiful? I don’t have all the answers but I do know that search for the meaning of everything that happens maybe beyond our horizon.

I think we should all take time to enjoy the beauty of this world and realize that our sunset is someone’s sunrise and that is a blessing.

Fighting the Network of Distraction

2000px-SMPTE_Color_Bars.svgDistractions play a big part in my life. They keep me from doing the things that I need to do which is why I avoid them the best way I can. This is the only way I’m ever going to finish book two.

The other night I was asked how I stay focused. I will admit, It takes practice. The thing is, I know exactly what can distract me enough to take away my focus. My goal is to write everyday so I can get into that zone. My zone is when everything clicks and it gets to the point where the only thing I’m doing is typing and words appear on the screen almost as if my mind has direct access to the page. This is when I become in touch with myself.

What’s really difficult is the events happening around me. The news, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, family, and friends all play a role in this network of distractions. This doesn’t mean that I don’t welcome it but some distractions are worse than others. I can still continue to write in all those cases. I’ve been known to write with the television on or with company over but the quality of focus goes down.

However, they’re are times when having that television on or texting that friend does help in the process. Just because I haven’t written a blog about the 9 people murdered in a church in South Carolina doesn’t mean I’m not feeling it. Things like this just serve as a reminder to me why I must continue to do what I do. Talking to friends and fellow writers has also helped me remember certain themes in the book that I’m trying to maintain.

I really feel that I need to be writing always and I’ve trained myself to continue the process by giving myself soft and hard deadlines. My first book, Hanging Upside Down, gave me the awareness I need to write a novel but it many ways I had no clue what I was doing. Writing book two has given me the ability to train myself to write when I want to. What that means is that, when I was younger, I would write when the mood hit me but now I’m dictating that mood and making those sudden spurts of inspiration last over a longer amount of time.

The thing about distractions is that they can feed into any type of writer’s block I may have.The best way I’ve counteracted this is by reading, which is not a distraction but a part of being a writer. I wont get into any of the new Netflix shows or play video games until I’m satisfied with my process with this first draft.