Chasing the Muse

Hello everyone, it is I, your friendly, anti-social, media hermit. You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything—you may also have noticed that I’ve said something similar to this before. Well, it was true then and truer now, and the reason for it remains the same: there’s very little to write about—oh—and I feel about as comfortable interacting socially with people as I do in those nightmares where I’m naked in school, giving a presentation I cannot remember in front of the entire school and its three neighboring schools. Those two things combined, usually keep me too busy fighting low-grade anxiety attacks to remember to write a blog. But a notification that my wordpress subscription was up for renewal, reminded me that, “Oh, crap, I have a blog,” and so, I decided to reach out and touch base with you all.

As previously stated, nothing has changed. I’ve been trying to work on a revamped version of an old story idea for the last couple of months and have been running into several problems with it that have left me baffled and highly frustrated. Both emotions come from my inability to figure out what is wrong with the story. I was very excited about it at first; the muse had swept over me fervently, and I had been eager to delve into the new story. However, that enthusiasm fizzled rather quickly, despite my desire and eagerness to write. I spent more time mulling over the dilemma, trying to reason out what was wrong with this new story, than actually writing. Was it the characters? The plot? The writing? The tense? The genre? The worldbuilding? Something was wrong, that much was obvious, but since I couldn’t understand what, I moved on to something different.

Three different things, to be exact. I opened an old, unpublished story and set to work rereading it with the hope of finding plot holes to fix and places where I could strengthen the prose. On top of that, I started writing two other stories, one for which I had a moderately detailed but not yet finished outline and one for which I had no outline at all. My thought here was that I could use the old novel as busy work, kickstarting the old imagination while I essentially did some free writing with the other ideas, allowing my mind to roam in a far less restricted environment. And it worked.

For about a chapter each. Then it all fell apart. I didn’t just get hit with writer’s block, I got hockey checked by Thor’s hammer with writer’s block. Again, I was stuck trying to figure out why.

And it took me a while, but I think I finally figured it out. After some soul searching, I realized the problem is me. You see, I never wanted to write a story with magic or powers or supernatural things. I wanted to write a story about an unhappy kid who was given his opportunity to rise to greatness, wrapped in a fantasy story with magic and powers and all sort of amazing supernatural things. Almost every story I’ve ever written has been some variation of that—the wrapping was different, but at its heart, it was the same story.

It’s a story that’s been done to death, but more importantly, it’s a story that’s been done to death brilliantly and in many, many, many, many incarnations by already established writers: Terry Brooks, Karen Miller, Brandon Sanderson, just to name a few. Under the shadow of these literary giants, I struggle to find a version of the story that is uniquely my own. The problem is, I’m not sure that’s the story I want to write anymore. That was the story of an unpopular kid, fighting depression through fantasy stories, wistfully hoping that someday in the future, he’d become someone better than he felt he was. I’m not that kid anymore, and hence, that’s not my story; I know that. What I don’t know is, what my new story is.

So that’s my problem. Because I can’t just write any old story with an interesting plot, that’s never been how I write. Every story has to have something personal, something of me in it. Until then, Thor’s hammer continues to knock my imagination unconscious, and I am left wading through my soul, searching for that story that defines me, so that I might find the path to inspiration again. Until then, I guess it’s trial and error for me.

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Inkwell Council (The Inaugural Treatment)

Hello everyone! You can’t tell by what you’re reading because printed words do not clearly convey emotions on their own. But if you heard me speaking my greeting it would have sounded something like this: HELLLLLLLLOOOOOOO EVERYONE!!! *confetiti cannons going off in the background.*

Why am so excited, you ask? You didn’t? Can you ask, please? I’ll wait.

Still waiting. What was that? Oh…bless you. Now, can you ask? Cool.I’m glad you asked (finally). I’m excited because the Inkwell Council has wrapped up its first treatment and I couldn’t be happier about it. I would have been excited no matter what our first submission turned out to be, but what we got was truly a pleasure to work with.

I don’t want to give away too much here, so I’ll just add a link to the Inkwell Council’s website, where we discussed our thoughts about our first submission.  Please read, learn and enjoy.  We sure did.

 

Inkwell Council Round table

 

Two New Ventures: (Gulp/Double Gulp)

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time since my last blog, I know, but there’s a very good reason for that: career-wise, absolutely nothing worth talking about  has happened since my last post. My first book, Soulless, is still available on Amazon, book two, Soul Search, is being shopped out for consideration by another publishing company (fingers crossed), and I’m still working on another project that is proving more difficult than I originally imagined–but I’m still plugging away at it. Overall, I’m in a sort of holding pattern, although I am having fun delving into this new story, despite its problems.

When I created this blog last year, I was not shy in expounding just how shy I was in social situations, digital or otherwise. It should have been clear to everyone that I was not going to be someone who could crank out a blog or more a week. In my mind, no one really wanted to hear anything I had to say. At this point in my writing career, I don’t consider myself to be a fount of knowledge and advice for other writers. I struggle with the same writing problems most writers have, and I haven’t solved any great mysteries about the craft, so what’s there really to talk about?

Well, that’s about to change (maybe). A new year is almost upon us and with it comes new adventures. Two, in fact. Both were the brainchildren of my wife, and both require me to leave my comfort zone and attempt to expand my social media presence. *cringes in a corner for several hours and then breathes*

The first is a YouTube/blog site called Geektastic. This started with our son, Logan, who wanted to do his own YouTube review channel like the ones he watches. The goal of this channel is to show our family (Logan, my wife, myself, and my sister, Megan) and all of our Geek interests. We hope to do book, movie, toy, and game reviews, unboxings, and other assorted displays of our Geekness. For my part, I will probably be represented the way criminals are in cop shows, with my face blurred and my voice altered, until I can afford to hire an actor to play me on the channel. I’m still holding out hope for Jared Leto, but I’ll take an unknown if it comes to that. So check us out at  https://geektastic-manzanos.com/ if you’re interested.

The second one, thankfully, does not require me to hire an actor to portray me, but it still requires me to interact with more people than my allotted number of two and a half per day, as dictated the Manzano Code of Avoidance and Social Invisibility (Article 12, subsection 6). It’s called–wait for it–The Inkwell Council!! Okay, so this one is a special little nugget that me and the wife have been kicking around for a while now. One of the things we missed about going to college were the writing workshops. There was something about that environment that always resonated with us. We just loved reading the work of our peers and having our work evaluated by them. We found it both helpful and enjoyable, and it was something that we kept trying to get involved in again. Several attempts to join workshops in the past have ended with mixed or poor results.

So, once again, The Manzanos (me, the wife, and the sister)  rallied together to work on this new venture. The rundown is this, we the Manzanos, want to help other up and coming writers polish their craft, while immersing ourselves deeper into the writing world. We will ask for the first three chapters of a writer’s manuscript, and we three will offer our nonprofessional, but well seasoned, opinions on the work. We will provide our critiques and suggestions for how we feel the writer could improve their work. As stated, we are not professionals, we don’t charge and we don’t guarantee anything but our honest thoughts about their stories. We just want to give a little back to the community, and if we can help to give a writer some pointers that might improve their work and get them a step closer to making their book the best it can be, then we all benefit from it. All the details are listed on the website, http://www.theinkwellcouncil.com/ so be sure to check it out and stay tuned.

Both ventures will begin in January of 2017, and I hope to have some more blogs chronicling their progress in the near future.

We hope to see you soon.

 

 

 

First Date: A Brainstorming Love Story

Think back to the first time you asked out a girl or boy you really liked. Remember that feeling of anticipation and excitement, as you got ready to begin a journey with someone. Remember that nervous feeling in your stomach that warned you things might end disastrously for both of you. Well, every time I embark on a new writing endeavor, I–and most likely other writers at large–experience a similar mixture of elation, fear, concern and hopefulness.

So while I have not had to dive in the the real life dating world since I met my wonderful wife, I am currently–and have done so many times in the past–dating a new story idea. And like all first dates, the emotions are running high and I am very excited about all the possibilities that are presented before me. I imagine a future in which me and my idea grow so close that I know its thoughts like my own, can sense its moods and guide it, effortlessly, toward mutual satisfaction. Maybe, if I’m very lucky, the two of us will make the decision to produce sequels, smaller, little version of our first coupling, that will keep our love and our story growing, ensuring that we stay together longer.

That’s one possible future. But like real first dates–as least as of the last time I engaged in one almost two decades ago–there’s also the potential for disaster. The excitement could turn to anxiety, the connection felt could shrivel up and become toxic, or the flow of communication could degrade into a bramble-infested, broken cobblestone road of frustration. It could produce nothing but stress, a gnawing sense of failure and a lack of self-worth.

And then there’s the small problem of cheating. At this point, I feel it necessary to separate the analogy from the subject at hand, for I do not advocate cheating on one’s spouse or significant other. However, when speaking of the creative process, it is not always easy for every artist to stay on the straight and narrow with their craft. Each artist thrives in a different environment, and this is just my opinion.

When a you start a romantic attachment to one story it’s usually customary to stay focused on that story. After all, you don’t want to take the attention away from the first story so you can canoodle with a newer, shinier story, sneaking brainstorm sessions, jotting little notes in between chapters of your older, more established story. It’s important to stay virtuous and true to that first story…but the new story is so appealing and fun, and it gets you like no other story ever got you before.

When faced with that situation, you must sit down with your first story and do some honest evaluating of your relationship. Does it need constant attention, or is it okay with a scaling down that time?  Can you satisfy both stories properly or will one have to fade into the background? In some cases, and I hope it is true in this case, spending time with a new story can be a great pallet cleanser, washing away old literary habits and the staleness of one’s relationship in order to come back to it with a new prospective.

Ultimately, only time with tell, but until I find out, I intend to treat both stories with the dignity and respect they deserve, and hope they’ll take good care of me in return.

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Brandon W Lawson

Hello everyone, recently I had the pleasure of speaking with an up and coming new writer, Brandon W. Lawson about his soon to be released book Temporal.

If you’re interested in learning more about Brandon and keeping appraised of the status of Temporal, you can follow him his website, on twitter and facebook.

Brandon is an 18 year old San Francisco, Bay Area, native. He studies accounting at a community college, but is a passionate  writer, with many short stories and analytical movie reviews posted to his website . His short story works run the gambit of genres, encompassing  mysteries,  thrillers, crimes,  fantasies, and science fiction.

He has also written a science fiction thriller titled, Temporal, which he hopes to have released by the year’s end. Temporal tells the story of a detective looking for a criminal and an assassin looking for the man who killed his mother. Both of their lives are connected and will come together by the uses of teleportation and time traveling.

Now that your appetite is whet, let’s get to know Brandon W. Lawson a little better, shall we?

Questions:

What drew you to writing?
What really drawn me to writing was wanting to show people what was inside of my mind.  I wanted people to know what I thought, and how I viewed the world, and through writing, people can find out how I see things. When I was young, I didn’t really get the chance to tell my peers exactly what was on my mind, so all of my thoughts were held inside.  Now with I am able to release all of it, through my writing. Of course I spoke up, and told people how I felt eventually, but to go deep inside of my mind, only writing allows me to do it.
Do you have a degree in writing? Do you believe that matters? Why/Why not?
I do not have a degree in writing, and I don’t plan on ever getting one. Nevertheless, I don’t think that matters with writing. I personally feel like the only thing a one needs is the creativity to put down content on their platform. Of course you can learn so much through years of education. You can learn how to write, structures, how to put a story together, etc, but to actually have a story to which you are connected, and feel like you are inside of as you write, that is something that cannot be taught.

Do you prefer creating short stories, or novels?
I actually like doing both. I know I like writing short stories because they’re quick and convenient. If I have a thought I want to put into a story without having to have a lot of content and ways to bring it together, I can put it into a short story. They let me focus entirely on one part of the story, on one plot. They are like a tv episode, you like them, but they’re short, so when they’re over, you forget about them and move onto the next one. I also like writing novels. I know I only wrote one, but I loved writing it just as much as I did my short stories. With the novel it was more like a movie. It was something that could stick with me for a long time.Not only does it have more pages, but more content. The longer I write something the more I am connected to it, and it becomes more part of my life. The short stories are for a quick fixes, to get a little entertainment and satisfaction high, but the novel is something to be part of me for a long time. I enjoyed writing it, and I loved the experience. I hope my next novels will have that feeling to them.

What Genre do you write and why?
I write all kinds of genres. For my short stories I have written mysteries, suspense, thrillers, sci fi such as time traveling, and horrors. For my novel I wrote a sci fi book about time traveling, and I want to try to keep my novels about science fiction whether it’s time traveling again, or something else. The reason why I write in lots of genres and not just one is because all that I write is a reflection of what I see in movies and tv. I watch all kind of genres of tv and movies, so I put it into my writing. The reason why I want to stay with sci fi in novels, is because sci fi is my favorite genre in film.

What about your life influenced your drive to create?
What drove me to actually create was movies. I would watch movies, and I would love what I saw on tv or in the theaters. I would then want to have my imagination on a big screen for people to see, but I was a kid. It takes a lot to become a director, and it wasn’t like I could start on it from a child. I would have ideas about what would be a great movie, and tell my dad. He would always tell me to write about it, that everything in your mind you think of for the future, write about it so you won’t forget. He also said many movies start from books, and that’s a good way to go. At first I didn’t do anything about it, but after taking a creative writing class in the 12th grade, I decided to keep writing. Not everything I write, I want to see on the big screen, but everything I write, I imagine it in my mind on as if it was. That is how I write all of my stories, as if they were movies, because visuals to me is everything. You have to see it to believe it. The want to actually create comes from wanting people to see how I see things because I feel like I have a lot of interesting things to say, and what better way to put it out than writing. I believe what we create gives us a bridge to a more interesting world. We watch these movies, tv shows, listen to all this music, and imagine, but when we go home, life is nothing like we see on tv. I mean our lives can be fun and interesting in many ways. People travel, buy things, whatever it is, people take pride and joy in doing certain things. I on the other hand, find joy in creating because when I create I feel like I open up another world. With that, it feels like nothing is impossible. So that’s why I create and choose to write, because it allows me to discover different worlds.

What is next on your current writing agenda?
I’m looking forward to finishing the book I have right now. Once I finish editing it, I will make a press release that I will send off to many newspapers, publishers, and other media outlets. I plan on putting my book on Amazon and google books towards the near future, at the end of the year or beginning of next year; there’s no specific date yet.

What do you see as your greatest strength as a person?
I feel like my greatest strength as a person is being able to observe and study something, and then giving my analysis or opinion on it. What I mean is I don’t just jump into something. I treat a lot of things that come my way like a project or a science research project. I have to observe it, make a hypothesis on it, come up with my theories, test it out, and then form a law on it. Not literally but that’s just how strategical I am in dealing with things in my life. I try to observe more than I act, or speak. Listen and observe first, and I try not to show my hand.

Are you a positive person, negative, or realistic?
I am a positive and realistic person. I always want to shoot high and have an optimistic view, but I only get that view base on the realities around me. In other words, if I believe I will become a billionaire, and go to Mars, I would use the realities around me to get to my optimistic views such as going to college, getting a degree, and starting a business. Then I would use that money to research space programs, so that I can somehow get to Mars.

What inspires you?
What inspires and motivates me is basically life. We only have one life, and it may sound cliché, but it’s the truth. We only have one life, and people really take it for granted. I understand, we’re going to have our bad days, everyone does, but to not be happy for living and having opportunity is not right. Many people don’t appreciate what they have until they lose it, and when we die, we’re going to have regrets, but I want to make sure that I did the most I could in my life. I want to make sure I live a good life.

What’s most important in your life?
My family. Again it may sound cliché, but it’s the truth. I love to love, and I love to love my family especially my mother. We may have all of the material things around us, but everything comes back to family because that revolves around what comes from the heart, and that’s nature, it’s love.

When you were a child, what did you always want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be a lot of things when I grew up. I remember in the 2nd grade we had to pick out things from a magazine that showed what we wanted to be when we grew up. I found a football player from the 49ers so I just went with being a football player on the 49ers. Then I wanted to own my own car dealership like my uncle did. In 5th grade and throughout middle school I wanted to be a rapper. In 8th grade up to 9th I wanted to be an inventor of some type of crazy new invention such as a hover car. In 10th and 11th grade I wanted to be a civil engineer. In 12th grade I decided to be an accountant, and then once I graduated, I decided I want to still be an accountant, but also be an author, so both. It’s just funny how when we dream of what we want to be as kids, even when we do it, as we get older it is not like we thought it would be. Even for the ones who end up doing it such as being a football player, rapper, or other things, we’re like “there’s actually hard parts to this job, I thought it was all fun.” Or how I wanted to be a CEO of a major business. If I end up having my book published in stores across the country, and other parts of the world, that would make me a CEO of that business, but it wouldn’t be how I pictured it. As a child I pictured me being in a suit just walking into a skyscraper with my name on it, and going into a big room with other board members as our company creates industrial products. In reality I could own a publishing company, and put out books. Same job, just different way in doing it.

Quick Update

 

Hello there. As the title suggests, this is just a quick update. Last week, I wrote a blog entitled Radio GaGa in which I spoke about my experience  doing my first online radio show to promote my book (Soulless).

Well, good news. It’s up online now and will be until midnight tonight at The Authors Show. To listen to it, simply click on this link, and then find my name and click. That’s it. I hope you enjoy it and click around to hear other author interviews.

Thank you very much for your time.

 

 

Radio GaGa

Hello everyone out there. It’s official. I have become the new and undisputed Prince of All Promoting, excelling in phone interviews, web interviews, newspaper interviews, and now, I have conquered the world of internet radio. Well…maybe, conquered is too strong a word. Actually, ‘excelling in,’ may also be a bit of an exaggeration–by that I mean I’m surprised there was any usable material between all four types of interviews to write a decent tweet. #nervous_interviewee.

In an ever-expanding quest to promote my first novel, Soulless, my publisher suggested an internet radio show called, The Authors Show. I made contact and received my scheduled interview time, which was to be conducted via Skype. I spoke with a wonderful woman named Linda Thompson who ran through what the interview would be like and did her best to put me at ease. I was not at ease.

When the interview time came, I readied myself to sound like a complete buffoon, and dug a little hole next to the computer so I could promptly bury my head in it at the conclusion of what I was sure would be a monumentus–and recorded for prosperity–fail. The interview started out great. Linda was very welcoming. We chatted for a few minutes to break the ice and get to know one another, and just as we were about to start, the internet cut out on me. Once. Twice. Three times. Now I panicked. I hid it well, but probably only because this was an audio only interview. Had it been a video chat, Linda would have seen me pulling what little hair nature has deigned to allow me to maintain, right out of my head.

Unlike my first phone interview with the Bronx Times, I actually remember every  agonizing minute of my conversation. That Linda did not immediately call off the interview and pronounce me a blight on society was a miracle in my mind. She said it went well, and so did my wife who was in the room keeping our son busy while I mimed hanging myself as I stuttered through each answer.

When the interview was over, Linda Thompson did not inform me that I was now added to an infamous blooper reel on their program, but instead went on to tell me more about what her show does and what it offers, and once again thanked me for the interview. I was shocked. Even my son said he liked it, and he’s six, so you know he doesn’t know how to lie without getting caught yet. I guess I had to accept that it was an okay interview.

Later on that week, I received an email informing me that my interview will air on The Authors Show, on May 23rd, 2016. It was yet another sign that the interview went well, as two weeks in not nearly enough time to call my understudy, Jared Leto, to redo the interview as me.

Overall, my first radio interview to promote my book, Soulless, was a pleasant one. I might even try it again with someone else soon; even if two successful Ismael Manzano interviews in a row is one of the most known and often feared signs of the coming of Ragnarok (that’s the old Norse version of the end of the world). So for now, I’ll cross my fingers, pray to Odin, and wait for May 23rd for The Authors Show to air my interview all day long.

Oh, no, that’s not a typo. They said for debut authors, they air the interview all day long on their channel so that no one misses it. Let’s let that sink in a minute. All day. 24 hours. Of me. Holy, Hammer of Thor, we’re all doomed.