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I haven’t given up on this blog. More to the point, I haven’t given up on writing. But I have learned a few things. Least of which is that this profession isn’t a kind one. Worse than the blank stares from people who don’t understand my wish to write for a living are the compliments and encouragement from friends and family that have led me here. Not to say that they were wrong to do so, their kindness simply left me so wildly unprepared for the scathing criticism that awaited me that I can’t help but be weary of it.

But it’s okay. I’m stronger for it. And as a result, I’m going to be switching gears a bit. Mixing things up. Novels are high risk investments. Between raising a family and working, time is more precious than ever. Because of this, I’ve decided to redirect my focus on smaller projects first, namely, children’s books. My brain needs the equivalent of a breath mint to wash the taste that writing—for all intents and purposes—a failed novel has left me with. I’ve also decided to make these books, and the new website dedicated to them, free. All of it. Buying my ebooks is a risk on the part of the consumer, and I’d like to reduce that risk in favor of gaining some fans.

So begins a new experiment. Visit Jaloma Books.com to watch it unfold, and stay tuned to Cafe Lopez to hear how it’s going!

And as always, keep writing!

Blink.

Last night the winter solstice coincided with a lunar eclipse. The first response to come out of my mouth when asked if I would stay up to see it was, why bother? A million pictures better than anything I could ever see on my own were sure to pop up the next day, so losing sleep just to say I saw it live seemed, well, pointless. Even so, I set my alarm, and at 2:31 am my cheek was pressed up against a window as I watched history unfold. Of all the emotions to experience, I felt something I haven’t felt for sometime now…

Fear.

The moon, an absolute that I take for granted, was cast in shadow by forces I couldn’t begin to understand. My problems, my neighborhood’s problems, my city’s, the state’s, the world’s, they all disappeared with the sunlight, their insignificance brighter to me in their absence than they ever were out in the open. Moment’s like these, when nature puts me firmly back in my place, remind me of my one and only fear: nonexistence. In the same time that it takes me to write this blog, I will cease to exist. Don’t believe me? Okay. Blink. If that seems familiar, it’s because it’s the first thing I asked you to do in this post. Yet even now, both blinks are a part of your past, no more so than the third time I’ll ask the same of you, even if you haven’t done it yet. The future is the past, we’ve all already slipped into nonexistence.

Us, those who loved us, the very memory of us, gone.

Still, I cling to the now that slips from my grasp, I claw at the present as though I might catch hold of it. If all I have are memories until I become one myself, I’ll be damned if I don’t fill them with as much love, friends, family, cooking, and writing as I can, while I can. So for those of you who missed the eclipse:

Blink.

See? It’s already a memory.

Well, it’s been a heck of a week. My daughter, Lucy Marie Lopez, was born Nov. 23, 2010, and it’s been a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I’ve been changing diapers, entertaining, cooking, changing diapers, and yes, even writing (but not much, to be sure)! Unfortunately, in that same passage of time we lost some notable celebrities, in particular, Irvin Kershner, director of, among others, The Empire Strikes Back. That’s right, for those of you who aren’t die hard fans of the Star Wars films (myself included), George Lucas only directed the first of the original trilogy, which probably has something to do with why they’re held in such higher regard than  the latest installments of the toy obsessed franchise. This seldom mentioned fact got me to thinking: here was a man who avoided the limelight for the sake of his craft, whose passion for his work overrode is desire for recognition, admirable qualities, no doubt, but should they be emulated by aspiring writers?

So often on blogs and Twitter I see writers tooting their own horns, speaking with such confidence that one can’t help but listen/read. I know that I should be doing the same thing, but knowing and executing are two very different things. I don’t care if I don’t have hundreds of followers or blog subscriptions, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot either. So the question is, can I effectively market myself and remain as humble and passionate about my work as Mr. Kershner, or should I jump on a podium and announce my presence from every outlet I can get my paws on? Probably the second, but I think I’ve come up with a viable alternative: the candy aisle.

Let me explain.

People are reluctant to invest in new writers. Lack of reviews, preponderance of alternatives, and general mistrust of so called “self-published authors” prevent consumers of digital media from shelling out money on little known authors. I don’t blame them. When I go the supermarket (which I try to avoid at all costs, as I much prefer farmers markets), I rarely, if ever, go with the intention of buying candy. But every so often, as I stand in line politely avoiding my bad habit of trying to figure out the lifestyle of the person standing in front of me based on what they’re buying, I’ll reach for whatever new twist on a classic candy has just come out. It’s cheap, and for all I know, I’ll discover a new favorite treat. The latest? Triple chocolate Kit Kats. Yum.

My writing needs a candy aisle. People should have access to a cheap taste of what I have to offer, and at $7.99, The Dead Don’t Cry isn’t going to cut it. So I’ve decided on running a series of short stories called Tales from Two Earths. Each one will feature different people, places, and events from the world of TDDC, and in so doing introduce readers to my writing for the bargain price of $.99 each. The first one is underway, and I couldn’t be more excited. At the very least, it’s better than beating my chest every chance I get. Unless I’m pretending to be Tarzan with the kids, in which case it isn’t nearly as exciting.

So our bathroom is being remodeled, and the time has finally come to paint. Being the obsessive compulsive that I can be (it once took me eight hours to mow a lawn, let alone four years to write a book), I’ve promptly taken over for our contractor, not trusting him to those perfectly symmetrical lines of color that I’ve come to love. As soon as I gave him the good news, the first thing he asked (after hugging me) was what color we were going to use. I told him brown (coffee bean), to which he promptly replied, in his thick Brooklyn accent:

“Brown? You kiddin me? Really? Brown? It’s going to make the room feel tiny, mo. Really? Brown?”

It gets better. Our (usually) supportive landlord’s response:

“No, I don’t mind. You going to paint it white before you leave?”

Where’s the trust? The vision? The support? No where! And you know what? I can’t blame them. Were they recently inspired by a trip to IKEA like Jen and I were? No. Where they (and are they ever) able to see outside of whites and creams? Nope. And could I have given the contractor advice on how to have done his job better? Hell no. But wait…what does that have to do with anything?

Some most people have opinions on things they really aren’t qualified to judge. A Northern New Jersey police officer and an unlicensed contractor should defer to a designer (best bud), retailer (wifey), and, well, me, but that didn’t stop them from speaking their mind, or from being wrong (it looks great!). Not convinced? Consider this anecdote:

When I was eight years old, I was actively drawing and writing stories. Dubious of my parents’ opinions regarding my work, I cooked up an experiment. After tracing an image of the comic book hero, Wolverine, I showed them the finished product, and after claiming to have made him up all on my own, asked if they thought he’d make for a cool superhero…

They didn’t like him.

So whether you’re writing a book, or pursuing a dream that no one seems to understand, do yourself a favor and learn to filter the constructive criticism from the bad. Just imagine where we’d be today if Marvel had consulted with my parents…

That’s right. Summers without Superhero movies!

I don’t know about where you live, but here in New Jersey we have the ubiquitous no left turn signal that seems to turn up wherever I really need to make a left turn. Once in the very bluest of moons the sign will be justified, but most of the time it seems to be posted for no other reason than to piss me off. Fortunately, like most rules in life, I regard them more like strong pieces of advice than anything else.

I strongly encourage you not to make that illegal left turn, but if you’d like to do the sensible thing anyway, then by all means, go for it.

This is what e-publishing is to me: a giant literary illegal left turn. I’m going to take flak for making it, and there’s a good chance that I could die (if not by car crash, then by starvation…somebody buy my book!), but dammit, if I make it out alive, I not only get to stick it to THE MAN, but I get to enjoy that special thrill of living life on the wild side!

So watch out! Because I think I see a yellow light about to turn red!

I am proud to announce The Dead Don’t Cry’s Official Launch Party!

We will be hosting the Event at The Shannon Rose Irish Pub in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Anyone who loves to read is welcome! From fans to industry professionals, we will have a broad spectrum of sci-fi lovers coming together to share their enthusiasm for the genre that dares to imagine the impossible!

For more information, and to sign the guest list, visit us here!


Last night I had my surrogate mom (my best friend’s mom…mine passed away years ago…sigh), her mother, and her brother over for dinner (wife’s birthday, Happy Birthday J-Lo!). What started as some simple mass cooking in the morning to carry us through the day quickly turned into my very own little proving grounds (grandma is a notoriously tough critic). With their being Irish and all, I decided on deep fried meat stuffed pastries (empanadas), spanish rice (a reliable hit), and what I like to call “sun-chips,” fried plantains, a potato-like banana sliced and flattened into chips. Grandma enjoyed everything very much, especially the empanadas, but described the chips as bizarre. Not satisfied, I decided to finish the night with a bang: home-made apple pancakes with hot-off-the oven candied raisin/apple/walnut syrup topped with a generous a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Verdict?

THEY LOVED IT!

I took a risk with a tough critic and knocked it out of the park. Woot.

The Dead Don’t Cry is my literary risk. It’s my four year home-made pancake, and I want the toughest critics to give it a taste. Does the time spent on it validate anything? No, because if I really spent that much time cooking a pancake, I’d end up with a charred, disgusting mess. But I believe the passion counts for something. So here’s hoping I find some book starved grandmas out there!

PS. I really should start photographing my culinary concoctions…the attached pic does not do dessert justice.

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