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Archive for the ‘On Writing’ Category

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!

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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.

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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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Two nights ago my good friend and I spent some time working on the new cover to The Dead Don’t Cry. After several hours, we came up with two covers: the first was generic but typical for the genre, while the second presented a more literary aesthetic (or trashy romance, if you were to ask the bartender who served us later on that night). Neither blew our mind, although the more we looked at the sleazy romance cover, the more we rationalized it working. That was until my girlfriend came home.

Can you try blending the roots with the artwork?” she asked, innocently.

And just like that, she jump-started a burst of creativity that lead to our best book-cover yet. Let this story serve as a warning to all you writers out there: if you’re not jumping for joy over your book cover, let alone the content of your book, don’t stop tweaking until you are. It’s dangerously easy to give the green-light to mediocrity, especially when you’ve been burning the candle. If in doubt, send it over and we’ll check it out (gladly, I might add). And that reminds me (don’t ask me how). I have an idea for a new column, but I need your input/contributions for it to work. Check it out:

As in all Cafés, people do more than read while visiting Café Lopez. They also like to eavesdrop. That’s why we would like to feature a new column dedicated to the idea of listening in on other people’s conversations. Have you recently had a debate/discussion (over AIM, Google Chat, etc, related to writing of course) that others might benefit from reading? Send it over to Cafe Lopez and we’ll post it for review.  I have one terrific conversation ready to go—I just need a few more to get it started. So, what are you waiting for? Submit!

(Please?)

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Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places. Consider this week’s “In the Biz.” As I was visiting one of a handful of my regular internet stops, I came across a Q & A with none other than Sylvester Stallone, the star and director of the upcoming film The Expendables. I’m a big fan of his, and not just because he’s an action icon. The man is brilliant. Don’t believe me? Listen to the director’s commentary included in the DVD to his latest Rocky film, Rocky Balboa. The man is passionate about filmmaking, and it goes without saying that we might just learn a thing or two from someone as passionate as him. So – on with the interview! I’ve taken some of his more pertinent responses and matched them with paraphrased questions, but the original interview in its entirety can be seen here. Enjoy! (more…)

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Come back to check it out! It’s different from the last few, and stars a certain “Italian Stallion” known for going the distance 😉

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Café Lopez is a place devoted to writing and creativity. We avoid movie reviews because they’re a dime a dozen, but sometimes a movie deserves praise no matter how many people have reviewed it. Inception is one of those movies. It’s complex yet simple, layered just enough to be a thrilling heist or an existential thought provoker. And it’s been wildly successful. A $60 million opening for an original property? Incredible. And you know what’s even better? This is a film that challenges its audiences, and people are responding. I know of at least one other soon to be released property that expects the same from its audience. So in the hopes that I can one day repeat Nolan’s success, allow me to plant an idea into your head…

GO WATCH INCEPTION.

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