All posts by ismaelmanzano76

Ismael Manzano resides in the Bronx with his wonderful wife (also a published writer) and his amazing son. He's a fan of history--specifically Roman and Tudor England--and loves all forms of fantasy and science fiction. His short fiction has been accepted for publication at Grey Matter and This Dark Matter. His fantasy novel, Soulless (Book one of the Soul Broker Series) has been contracted for publication up by Fantasy Works Publishing.

My Toolbox is Empty

Hello everyone. Welcome back. I’d like to start off by saying that despite this blog’s title, it is not some woe-is-me lament about my life, but an example to others that sometimes life will throw some curve balls your way, and you will inevitable have to overcome them if you want to progress in your life. I’ve been lucky to only have had some minor obstructions in my life, and hope that, if I’ve done anything with them, it’s learn from them. After all, all good things in life worth having are worth fighting for.

Well, with that said, let’s get to it.

Way back when I was a young child and I decided, quite against my will and at the prompting of a grand celestial muse, that I wanted to be a writer, I did so fully confident that I had everything it took to succeed. In my adolescent mind, I was a star on the rise, I had the tools, the ideas, and the drive to conquer my chosen profession. It didn’t hurt that not a single person I knew at the time showed much interest in reading, let alone writing. It was a foregone conclusion that whatever I showed my friends, would be seen as ‘amazing,’ more because they were surprised I’d actually manage to crank out a two-hundred page novel, than because of anything of merit in said novel.

It took me nearly two decades to realize, to my chagrin, that my literary toolbox was filled with silly putty. Think I’m being too harsh on myself? Too easy? Well, either way, I shall endeavor to explain. First off, the very fact that I had no writing peers during those early years ensured that all of my prose was bright, shiny, and completely nonfunctional—like an outfit in a fashion show. Sure it looked interesting, but would you really want to walk outside wearing a big copper coil as a skirt? My early writing was plagued with purple prose from here to eternity, and I had no clue. It took me finding other writers whose work I respected before I finally listened to criticism about my style. And by then, it was so hard to put down my flashy, electric hammer in lieu of a more practical, standard one.

But literary idiosyncrasy aren’t my only problems. I’m also blessed with a couple of fun medical problems that make writing—and reading—more difficult for me than for other people. For one, I have a horrible memory. Like, horrendously bad. Like if my life depended on recalling five words in specific order…

Another problem I have is a very short attention span, which prompts me to shift trains of thoughts midway through. I don’t know if I have ADD or I’m just easily distracted by sparkly things, but more often than not, I have trouble staying focused on one thing for more than a few minutes at a time without some serious effort.

These are really minor issues that I’m sure all people have to some degree or another; a more serious problem that has developed over the years involves my vision. When I was about sixteen, I lost some vision in my right eye. The loss literally hit overnight. One day all was well, the next, I couldn’t see someone’s nose if I covered my good eye. The doctors saw nothing to explain it, and just told me it would get better in time. It never did. Almost fifteen years later, I woke up with more blurs over my other eye. These came and went, and I was able to go to the doctor in time for them to find out that I had a blockage one of the veins behind my eye. They cleared it up, before I lost too much of my vision, and they finally discovered the cause of my problem. Which is to say, they can keep the damage from spreading, but not reverse it.

Hip-hip-hooray, that’s something, but there’s a downside to that as well. The medicine I have to take to keep me from losing more of my vision causes me to get extremely tired. And since I did manage to lose some vision in my left eye as well, I now have blurs that I have to read around, which means I have a hell of a time, getting through a novel without nodding off, or misreading every other word. Recreational reading has become anything but recreational, as it can be frustrating, tedious and annoying long to get through a full-length novel.  Needless to say, spell checking my own work is quite troublesome and sometimes hilarious, because I’ll often not see smaller words that fall into my blind spots, so I’ll have a lot of ‘ofs’ and ‘its,’ that I should have erased all over my manuscript–apologies to my editor for all the extra work this gives them.

But don’t feel too bad for me. I’m getting by, and still writing away, albeit, at a much slower pace than I used to be capable of. Plus, falling asleep has never been easier. My wife isn’t too thrilled about me always nodding off in the middle of a conversation—even if I’m the one talking—but hey, it makes for some funny stories to tell our friends.

Like with all things in life, you have to adjust. So I got a text reader to read back my story to me so I can have a better chance of catching my mistakes. So I learn to read standing up or while doing some other activity, to make sleeping less likely. So I learn to accept that no matter how many times I reread something, I’m going tod leb typoos in them. And in the end, I find it more ironic that all of these little annoyances are made more annoying only because I decided to be a writer. If I’d chosen to be a male stripper, none of these issues would have factored into the success of my career.
But as it stands—and until I can completely P90X—I’m stuck in my career and will not be able to transition into another field just yet. Which is fine with me, because I like writing far more than I like dancing anyway.


First Edits

Hello people, just me swinging in to remind you,that I’m still here, much to everyone’s chagrin, and my own surprise. And since I’m here, I’d like to share with you a little slice of comedy that is the chocolate pie of my life. As you may know, I’ve recently been granted a stay of execution from the monotony of being an unpublished writer, and have signed with Fantasy Works Publishing for my book series, Soul Broker. Naturally, I was excited by this news, and have been doing a happy jig ever since—which makes walking to work a little awkward, but I don’t care. It’s only been a month, and already, I’ve been given my first set of edits for the my upcoming book, Soulless. While I’m still doing a jig with every step I take, that jig is now clumsy and lethargic, and full of more face-plants than I have words in my novel.

Why, you might ask? Well, you might as well ask because I’m going to tell you. Because after having read and reread my manuscript, having someone beta-read it, and then converting it to an audio file so I could listen to it, I apparently left a graveyard full of debris in my story that my poor editors must now comb through and point out to me. I’m sure this makes them feel like third grade teachers pointing out when to use ‘affect’ and ‘effect,’ to children, but there’s little I can do about it now. I would say that this dose of reality has been a humbling experience, but I have had years of rejection letters to humble me good and proper. Still, I was surprised, and somewhat amused, because even at my age, I am still learning about the trade.

Well, it doesn’t help that the acceptable rules keep changing. One of the biggest changes I found out about was that it is no longer proper to double space in between sentences. When I saw that I instantly felt like an old man on a rocking chair, belligerently shaking a fist at a group of literary teenagers, shouting, “When I was your age, punctuation marks and capital letters stayed two spaces apart! Show some respect for your serif! You’re practically dry-humping your words together!”

So, needless to say, it’s been a rough but education week of editing. The downside of which is, I find it difficult to work on any other projects because I’m almost always working on edits. And that’s just one fourth of the edits. I have lots more to go, and when I’m done with that round, they’ll be another round waiting in the wings like an overzealous ballerina chomping at the bit for her cue to come so she can make her grand entrance.

But you shouldn’t write if you’re not ready to rewrite. It’s a fundamental truth about this craft that you have to learn to swallow your pride and take criticism. Other people’s opinions of your work help to show you what parts of your narrative convey the proper message, and what parts don’t. So, I will read my edits, take stock of my manuscript, and do my best to make the best product I can. And along the way, I’ll try not to smash my head into a wall while I partake in this educational experience.

Logan’s World

Hello everyone.  Just wanted to share a little bit of adorableness with you all.  It appears that my five year old son, Logan wants to write stories too, just like mommy and daddy do.  So in an effort to encourage this, I asked him to tell me a story so I could transcribe it.  What I have below are his free-floating thoughts, written exactly as he said them to me.  If he continues to show an interest in writing, there will be more of these in the future.  If not, well, it made me smile and I hope it does the same for you.

The hunt for the braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain

by Loooooooooogan

Chapter 1

In a planet called, the Truth of the Monsters, an alien named Logan fought four monsters. He lived in the sun because he was a really hot alien. Everyone who lived in the sun was really smart. The monster, however, were green and scary and they also liked to eat brains. They also liked to eat hair. The monsters wanted to eat his brains because they were not smart and he was. They wanted to be smart like him. So Logan, the good guy, tried to protect his brain by fighting the monsters. He fought them with a sword. It was a weak sword because somebody had ripped the armor off of it.

The four monsters looked the same, but they were all dressed in different types of armor. They were called Iron, Mr. Iron, and Mrs. Iron. Those three got destroyed, and one defeated Logan. He was called Bigger Armor, and he grabbed Logan really tight and ate his brain.

But Mr. Fish saved Logan by giving him a know-everything brain that was really a computer that they made in the sun.

The monster who ate his brain was caught by a really good police captain called The Earth Guy and locked up with Logan’s original brain.

But after Bigger Armor was in jail, The Earth Guy found out why Bigger Armor attacked Logan,after he saw what had happened in progress.

Bigger Armor finally said he was sorry and Logan said it was okay after they found out that Bigger Armor was being controlled by Master Armor. Master Armor is Bigger Armor’s brother , but Bigger Armor was the King and Master Armor was furious because he wanted to be the King, and he wanted Bigger Armor to be in jail forever so he made Bigger Armor do all those bad things. But they still didn’t let him be the King. The Kingdom was called the Place of the Power.

The Earth Guy told him that if someone’s in trouble and someone trying to control you, you can eat their brain, so Bigger Armor ate Master Armor’s brain.

Bigger Armor gave Logan back his brain and Logan gave him the know-everything computer brain and they had a dance party.

Then Earth Guy used his mind control power for good and, with Logan and Bigger Armor, saved the whole world, except for bad guys.

Best Friend/Worst Friend: My Brain

When you do anything with any degree of success—or just sometimes when you manage to get your lazy butt out of bed in the morning—someone is bound to ask you what in your life helped to facilitate this and what in your life worked to hinder it. In terms of my writing, the answer for me is the same: my brain. Yes, my friends, gray and wrinkly and trapped inside a calcified prison, my brain—I call him Mr. Brain Fourlobes or just Brain—loves and needs me with all of its lobes and yet secretly wants to wrap its cerebellum around my throat and crush my windpipe until all of its synapses stop firing. In short, my brain is the frenemy that lives behind my face—and I bet you thought you and your frenemy were close.

Why this is so, I can’t begin to explain, and that’s probably due to the fact that my reasoning in these matters is controlled and regulated by Mr. Brain himself. So I’m only allotted a few spare seconds every other third day to ponder this dichotomy. However, even though I do not know why it does this, I am certain that it does because of the clues it leaves behind. What clues? Well, for one, my brain comes up with these wonderful ideas that just beg to be put down in print; it helps me to craft worlds and magical systems and inserts dialogues and plot points wherever they’re needed. It can take something mundane and tedious like tax collecting and spark something within me that has me feverishly writing the start of a brand new supernatural novel. That’s my favorite Brain. That’s the Brain I love, the one I remember from my childhood, where anything was possible and imagination was a limitless and free resource.

But Brain is also jealous of all the spare time I spend thinking about these wonderful stories; so occasionally, right when I’m in the middle of a very juicy part in the story, Brain will suddenly whisper to me that this story isn’t that good, and I should start writing this new and more exciting story that it just gave me. Thanks Brain! This idea is better and more exciting…except…what’s that, Brain? No, it sucks and I should burn it all before anyone sees it and chases me into writing oblivion with literary pitchforks? But you said it was good Brain, what happened? What should I write now? Oh, that first idea that you told me not to waste my time on? Okay. If you insist…You’re the brain after all and I’m just the meat suit that carries you around.

So Brain and I are back on good terms again, and I’m back to what we both agree is the better story, and all’s right with the world…except! Brain gives me this great idea, while I’m at work and unable to reach a computer or get away to write anything down. Still, Brain keeps everything going behind the scenes. The ideas swirl in my head, getting better and better with each turnaround. Then lunch hits and I run to the break room to write every word of this masterpiece down…and Brain suddenly shuts off and I find myself unable to think of a single line or plot point of this brilliant idea; instead all I can think about are penguins. If they’re birds, why can’t they fly? Shouldn’t they be classified under a different species then? Are they actually a different species and I’m just ignorant of this fact? And do they feel shame over their status as non-flight birds or do they ignore it by making glib remarks about ostriches?

That’s what Brain does to me. It teases me with a promise of an evening of wild, unbridled story creation, then turns over and burps loudly in my face. What’s even worse than that, however, are those times when Brain decides to seed an incredibly awesome idea in me just as I hover on the precipice of sleep, so that the brilliant solution to the plot dilemma I’d been obsessed with is mixed together with some inane bit of memory flotsam. The result? A dream in which my main character is skillfully debating with his antagonist when Ryu of Street Fighter fame comes up and Hadokens them both to death. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if I could remember anything from that very pivotal conversation that I’d been toiling to get just right; now the scene doesn’t feel right unless a sleeveless vagabond interjects with a fireball to the face.

Wait…Brain just had a great idea…He says that since this is a fantasy story, maybe I could get away with it. I’ll just need to change Ryu into an outcast Druid from a part of the country that has a heavy embargo placed upon it to control the strange mystics that dwell within and…damn it, Brain! Stop trying to talk me into actually making this a part of my story!!

With that, I’m going to sign off before Brain whispers anymore nonsense in my ear. Goodnight everyone. Goodnight Ryu.

I Have No Idea What Im Doing!

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing!!!

Hello again, people. I didn’t expect to have this next post up so soon, because I literally had no idea what I would write about, but decide it might be fun for you all to follow along as I crumple into a corner and rock with anxiety over the newfound responsibility that I’ve manage to foolishly heap upon myself. That’s not to say that I’m not immensely grateful or happy about the turn my life has taken, nor am I suggesting that I have more on my plate than the average person might have. But for me, a social zombie who runs from any public or even semi-public interactions like I am being chased by the Cloverfield monster, stepping out into the light and talking about myself is daunting. That I have to do so in more than one site and in more than one way, to me, is overwhelming and confusing. In short, as the title stated, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Two months ago when I found out I was going to have one of my short stories, “Cold,” published on the website, Grey Matter, I was happy and hopeful for my writing career. A few weeks later when I found out that another short story, “Playing in Shadows” was going to be published on another website, This Dark Matter, I was even more excited. Until the editor asked for a headshot. Then I groaned, complained, gritted my teeth, told myself it would just be this one time, took a few pictures, tried to convince my wife to allow me to hire a stand-in to pretend to be me, argued that each picture had too much of my face in it to be sent, revisited my brilliant idea to hire a stand-in, and finally gave in and sent the picture, while silently praying that a digital Mack truck would demolish the 1 megabyte picture and leave its pieces strewn across the information super highway. It was a good plan, but alas, the picture arrived safely. But I consoled myself with the knowledge that I’d probably never have to do that again. Right?

Well, the next week I received an email from Jen Leigh of Fantasy Works Publishing about a manuscript I’d sent to her. She wanted to sign that book and any potential sequels. Jackpot!! Dream come true! I did some back-flips in celebration. Okay, I didn’t actually do physical, corporeal, in-this-plain-of-existence back-flips, but inside my head I was tumbling around like a hairy Mary Lou Retton.

And then I received an email from the Marketing Director of FWP and I face planted like a sack of cement-filled potatoes. They had a very detailed marketing plan that necessitated my participation in many forms of social media. This might not be hard for some, but for someone who only has a Facebook page and rarely even posts, comments or likes anything on it, I felt as if I’d been dropped into the middle of the ocean. So I was suddenly scrambling to create a Twitter account, a Google+ account, a Facebook Author Page, and a personal blog. Worse yet, I had to…(cringing)…talk about myself in each of these forums, write a bio, a description of myself, my likes—all stuff I’m sure nobody but my mother would care to read about. Then I started panicking that my mother would read them all and start posting well-meaning but ultimately embarrassing comments about how that picture reminded her of when I was a chubby little baby or about how I don’t call her enough and should come visit more often.

I know if anyone besides my mother is reading this, you probably already have a voice on some or all of these social media platforms and, to you, it’s all second nature. To me, the whole process, top to bottom, is so far removed from second nature it’s technology—specifically an alien technology requiring three-fingered alien palm prints to activate and a one-eyed alien retinal scan to navigate through. I spent all of yesterday and much of today, dumbfoundedly staring at my computer screen, trying to set up these platforms; trying to figure out why after only posting one picture on my FB Author Page, four popped up; trying to figure out what button to press to add a new post to my blog; trying to understand how Twitter even works, who to follow, when, and for how long; trying to change a color on a background; trying to pretend I didn’t have a moment where I thought I’d suddenly gotten a hundred likes on my page when I saw a button with the number one hundred on it; trying to wrap my head around who to favorite, retweet, like, and why, and what any of it even means; and trying not to sound like I’m full of myself every time I have to write a bio for one of these sites.

All in all, it’s been a crazy, sleepless, whirlwind experience that has left me bald from pulling out what little hair nature has allowed me to keep, blind from searching each webpage for an edit button, and hypertensive from worrying that I was going to make a fool of myself. And I’m loving every ungodly minute of it. Worse yet, I’m looking forward to seeing where this ride takes me.

Just more proof that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Playing In Shadows

Hello everyone out there.  I have a piece of good news for those of you that are interested.  My short story ‘Playing in Shadows’ has found a home in the website, This Dark Matter.  It’s a supernatural story about a young man who is visited by the ghost of a young woman he once loved.

Of course it wouldn’t be one of my stories if there wasn’t more to it than that.

Please check it out by clicking the link below, and feel free to comment on it, either here or on Dark Matter website.

“You play cards better dead than when you were alive.”…/black-friday-fiction/…


Hello wayward traveler.  If you’ve found this page, you’ve either searched my name for god knows what reason or you took a wrong click somewhere along the web and are desperately hoping this isn’t some weirdo’s page.  Either way, welcome.  My name is Ismael Manzano and I’ve set up this page to help promote–of all things–myself, and my upcoming works of fiction.  You see, I’ve recently stumbled across a few strings of very good luck writing wise and I now find myself in need of a platform from which to shout nonsensical things at the internet void (my equivalent of throwing pasta at a wall to see if it sticks).  Congratulations, viewer; you’re the wall against which I will throw the pasta of my mind. Don’t blame me if something sticks to your face.  If you couldn’t tell, this is all new to me, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I endeavor to imitate a professional author. I will keep this first post short but I hope to update as often as possible with my random thoughts as I navigate this new and frightening experience of publishing my first novel.