Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome Estevan Vega to the First Annual Virtual Book Tour

I want to welcome Estevan Vega to this stop on the First Annual BronzeWord Latino Virtual Book Tour. The Book Tour is designed to give exposure to wonderful authors like Estevan. Please feel free to ask Estevan questions or leave a comment for him today. He will be visiting and talking with you. I am also happy to say that a random comment on one of these blogs will receive a signed copy of his latest book.

As a young boy, Estevan Vega wasn't interested writing. He world was filled with comic books and sketching. In 5th grade he found his love of writing. At the age of 15, Estevan became a published author with his first book Servant of the Realm. The book is a story about a teenager who sees the future deaths of those he loves and tries to change it. "There is something therapeutic and natural about breathing life into the mundane, or finding escape through odd characters and strange concepts," says Vega.

The Sacred Sin, his second book, was published when he was 18. From his website: The Sacred Sin tells the story of detective Jude Foster assigned to bring down a serial killer capable of stealing victim's souls without ever touching them. Stopping this ghost killer, fighting against his demons, his inner darkness, may be the only path toward sanity and a new beginning.

Estevan lives in Connecticut and will have a new book, Arson, coming out this year. So I want to welcome Estevan to Carolyn in Carolina and The Art of Random Willynillyness. I am amazed that he is so young and so talented. If you would like to buy a copy of his book, click on the Amazon widget on my sidebar!

Estevan was kind enough to submit this wonderful story. Read between the lines and you will see his process, his art and his talent come to life! Please enjoy. Once again, welcome Estevan to my blog(s) and am thrilled you are taking part in this wonderful event! Thank you. Please feel free to add any comments!!

A Picture and its Words
by Estevan Vega

A procrastinating eleven year old boy sits glued to the light glowing bright enough to give any normal kid a seizure. The light ushers forth from a television set, a big, boxy, archaic reminder of why everyone went to flat panels. He’s watching Money Train, a Thursday night special on Fox, featuring the always butt-kicking, very dark and usually pissed off Wesley Snipes, and a cocky, almost obnoxious Woody Harrelson. (He’s the one with an Owen Wilson face before Owen Wilson was put on the map. ) The tension in the film is building and the action peaks, just in time for a loud call to echo in from the other room.

“Did you finish that paper you were assigned?” comes the voice of a man whose tone clearly indicated he was busy with paperwork.

Ummm,” the boy replies, “not exactly, Pop, but it’s a cinch. Get to it after this.” A scoop of ice cream finds its way to his lips and the film runs to a commercial break.

“You better get in here and work on it, then, or it’s bed time.”
Ahhh, bed time. The two words that can make any small child obey your every command. The boy reluctantly checks the clock, shuffles his position on the green rug, shoves another spoonful of mint chocolate chip ice cream down his throat, and finally turns off the tube. Dragging his feet into the adjacent room, he plops down at the dining room table, faces a blocky-looking machine known as a desktop computer, and pushes out a forceful sigh. At this point, it’s his job to make sure everyone around him—mainly his father—knows he’s unhappy.

“What’s the paper on?” his father asks.

He shrugs, finishing the bowl of ice cream.

His father shrugs back, putting his pencil behind his ear. His father, a hard-working businessman fit the role of a once-carpenter well, and the whole pencil-in-ear thing worked for him. The boy has tried to pull the look off many times, but it never seems to work. As he finds excuses to escape his father’s soul-piercing glare, he finally replies, “I don’t feel like writing. I want to watch the movie.”

“Yeah, well, your mother and I don’t want to do paperwork, either…but. Well, that’s probably why she bailed on me tonight.” The boy’s father takes a moment to acknowledge his own joke and the painful reality of it. “Nevertheless, we do it. You gotta do whatcha gotta do, son, whether you like it or not.”

The boy shoves his bowl to the side and hops into a seat by the computer.

Suddenly, his father turns his chair, and looks him square in the face. “Ah-ah, no you don’t. Not yet. I’m gonna help you with this assignment. But first, we practice,” he says, cracking his knuckles. “Close your eyes.”

The boy, slightly confused and mostly frustrated, acquiesces, though he can’t imagine why. After a grunt, a shrug, and a long-winded sigh, he scratches his nose and begins to gets curious.

“What’s this for, anyway?”

“When you’re drawing a picture, first you have to see it, right?”

“Yeah. But, Pop, this is an essay, not some sketch. Miss what’s-her-face doesn’t let us do anything as fun as sketching comic book characters or—”

“Miss what’s-her-face? Does your teacher know you call her that?”


“Look, just listen to the sound of my voice. It’s just like drawing a picture. First, you allow me to paint an image in your mind, and then we take that image and turn it into a story. Understand? That’s how we can have fun with this.”

“Miss what’s-her…my teacher doesn’t know the meaning of fun.”

“She was a kid once, too, I’m sure. So, just sit back and listen. You talk too much.”

“Whatever. But it’s not going to be fun.”

The boy’s father can tell he’s rolling his eyes underneath those pale lids, but he continues dictating a brief anecdote anyway. Something to jog the child’s mind. Something to take his mind off Money Train. With every scene and character created, the boy’s enthusiasm increases and a smile crawls across his lips. The boy’s father paints beautiful trees and unheard-of accents and scenery inside the boy’s mind, and each piece becomes more real, more a part of the story.

Like a dream, it comes and goes, sometimes distorted, other times as clear as crystal. Every image a part of a mental photograph, an image impossible to erase. He can see them, touch them, learn their likes and dislikes, who they are and what they’ve done. They’re living, breathing people, scenes turned alive and ready to be explored. A gasp awakens quiet lungs and a deep breath.

“Can you see it now?” my father asks, blinking with anticipation.

It was the most incredible thing. My father wasn’t lying about writing, or about what it can do to a person, what worlds can be created in just a few moments. He wasn’t just a businessman or a dad; he was a writer. He knew what kind of fun someone could have if only they shut their eyes from the crazy, busy world for a moment and let the words form themselves. It really was like drawing a character. Every sound and word was a piece, a shape of a larger thing forming in my mind. All I had to do was picture it first.

He leans back in his chair, as I nod with a grin on my face. “Yeah, I can see it. I can see everything.”

“Good,” he says, patting my shoulder. “Now we can write.”


  1. Welcome Estevan! Remember if you have any comments or questions for Estevan, please comment.

    I wanted to start off and ask what made you write about the supernatural? Were you influenced by the comincs etc. or have you ever had supernatural experiences etc.?

  2. Hi Estevan! I've always had an interest in the supernatural myself.

    Along the lines of Carolyn's question, where do you go for inspiration for your stories? Do you do something similar to what you describe in the piece you posted here?

    Also, do you do short stories?

  3. I'm impressed by how much you've accomplished already in life. Awed and just a tad jealous; you're doing what I've always dreamed of doing and doing it well. When someone asks me "What did you want to be when you grew up?", my mouth says "a lawyer" but my heart screams "a writer". And I didn't do either. Unless you count my blog or the log sheets I write at work (I'm a police dispatcher), but those are fact and I'm talking fiction, which seems much more difficult to do. It's breathing life into something that hasn't been born yet; making something solid out of the things that lurk in your mind so everyone else can "see" them too.

    I loved your excerpt, it's exactly that way I write when I write something with "teeth". There's at least a week of planning that goes on entirely in my head. While I'm washing dishes or watching tv, I'm thinking up sentences I want to use and reordering words in them. Sometimes I jot down a word or phrase, in case I forget. I once wrote a $5,000 winning essay for a contest. The actual sit-down writing took an hour; the planning took weeks.

    During that time my husband would catch me staring off into space and ask me what I was thinking about. "I'm writing" was my answer. And when it was done, I knew it was good. Did you ever have that feeling? That "Damn, this is good." feeling? I think if I wouldn't have won, I'd have been crushed because there was so much of me in that essay and I was so proud of it.

    Since I've already penned a short novel-comment, I do have some questions.
    1) How do you get started? Do you write the novel, find an agent and work from there? Or do you just start the novel/concept and then send that out into the writing world before the book is finished? Did you start with short stories sent to publications or just a novel right out of the gate?

    2) Do you use a software for writers? If so, which one? I'd imagine trying to write with Word would be difficult if you needed to go back and look at a prior chapter you'd written, unless each chapter was a separate document. Even then, it would be easier if there was software with keyword search capabilities.

  4. If you weren't writing, what would you do?

  5. What a great Father's Day tribute! So, Estevan, how are you able to crank out so many books so fast? Some authors say there is no way they can do more than one every five or so years.

    How many stories do you have to share with us?

  6. Thank you Carolyn for having The Latino VBT on your site. I guess I'll have to go wake up our new young star! ha ha I'll get back to you in just a minute.
    Jo Ann Hernandez

  7. Hi, this is Estevan Vega.

    Hmmm...the supernatural. I love this stuff. As a kid, I was fascinated with comic books and superhero cartoons, so it seemed only natural that as I grew older, my mind would gravitate to material like this. I love the stuff that doesn'[t always fit nicely into a bow and stuff that can be wrapped into a good answer for somebody, because that's not what life is like. So, what I find great pleasure in is taking something ordinary and seemingly usual and flipping it on itself by adding a whole supernatural element to it. It's wild and adds a whole lot of crazy to an otherwise average story.

  8. To answer your question, Babba, I try to get my inspiration from anywhere and anyone. I've been sitting in one of my professor's classes and an idea just comes; I';; sometimes get something while watching a movie or listening to music or taking a walk. It really just comes when it wants to.

    The supernatural stuff comes and goes. Some stories, whether novel or short story, do not have the whole supernatural bent to them, but I love it so much that I try to find a place for it if it belongs or if I can. It's really whatever the story needs.

    My dad is also a great place for me to go for inspiration, but he was more influential in my growing up with writing, now we talk about writing when we can or I read him something when he's available; although when we do go out, he always seems to get some out of this world idea and we chat about it. This happened twice in the last month...got a lot of writing to do. haha

    Yes, I do write short stories. In fact, during this tour, I will be posting one. Which one? You will just have to keep following to read it.

  9. I know as a Latina, I grew hearing weird stories from my grandmother about ghosts and dead people and supernatural occurances when she was a child in Costa Rica. Did your family ever tell those type of stories or did you find this theme on your own?

    p.s I hope JoAnn didn't have to wake you up!!

  10. I called Estevan and he'll be here in a few. I'd like to address some of the comments here too. I don't write about the supernatural but Estevan has said in other venues that the more he thinks about his life and watching others he sees a dark side. A part of each person they are trying to hide from everyone else.
    Also as a YA author and watching my sons, there was a time when my youngest lived dressed in all black. I think it would appear to me that they are in a very mixed up world with a lot of temptations around them. Life must really seems scary to them with the choices they have to make each day. Do i do drugs to be popular? Do i have sex to be popular? Do i pretend to have it all to look good? What is having it all?
    I know I wouldn't want to be a teen in this day and age.
    What about you Babba and Shel? Do you have teens in your life right now or had? what did their woes revolve around?
    Thanks Jo Ann

  11. Okay Shel. You and I have something in common. I don't know how to write a short note to save my life. I only write novels. ha ha
    First I think that you recognize that your "staring into space" times are also writing times. Many people don't get that and that is an important time of writing. Many people will write and have various drafts before they feel comfortable with what they are writing. They did what you do in your head. You just saved a few trees in your process. ha ha

    And that is one of the important things as writers we have to do. Is recognize our style. how do we write? Do we write drafts? Do we day dream? do we talk about the plot first? And in fact I know that is Estevan's way of writing. He talks wiht his father who keeps asking him questions to make the young man look further deep into the plot and characterizations. Once as writer, we know how we work, then we can take the time to concentrate on other things that need to be done.

  12. Wow, Shel,

    See, you can write! Haha. Very interesting story. I think so far you've made more cash in one short story contest than I've earned total in royalty checks. Well, you can imagine when you get less than 10 percent of each book...it can take awhile to get up there.

    Congrats, though! You have a foundation to start from, a place of origin. My father always says, "Do not forget the days of small beginnings," and I think he's got a point. If writing is inside you, then I doubt it will ever leave you. It's part of your essence. So write. Whenever you can. Kick butt and use your cuffs during the day, ad use your pen/computer during the night. You can be like an ambitious little vampire...oooh, there's a concept...crazy cop turned into a sadistic vampire writer who lives in her basement. Pulitzer written all over it.

    For me, the science of it is kind of just writing the thing, getting it out of my brain. The hard stuff comes when it's done...or when I think it's done. When I sent out the first book Servant of the Realm, I had no idea what I was doing. With The Sacred Sin, I knew a little, got a bunch of rejections, and decided to go with a publisher no one can say a nice thing about. But whatever...I just saw my book in Barnes and Noble and I had to have a little celebratory dance. With Arson, my forthcoming novel, I must've gotten over fifty rejection letters, before one bit. It took a bunch of e-mailing between the head of the company and myself, but he eventually budged and offered me a contract. Sometimes you gotta just push through the wall...and I'm still hoping this one's better than the one before, cause that's always something you gotta wonder.

    So, yeah...I work backwards, I guess. My main focus is writing the book and then getting very upset when the rejections come in for the next year.

    No, I use Word. I've heard about a ton of programs, but never tried any of them. I've used Celtx for a screenplay I was working on this semester (before my computer decided to crash, and I lost almost everything...back your stuff up). But for writing my novels, I've been kind of old-fashioned. It's not that difficult to use, because I number the pages and have chapter headings. But yeah, there are sometimes where I'm trying to find a passage and can't. I just deal with it, being the pacifist, I just write about that frustration, I guess. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Hi, at #1 still.
    The way to build a career as a writer is to get published small first. You write your story stories or essays and send them off to magazines, literary journals (which is a fancy name for journals that a bunch of students do in a writing class in college), and any other place that you can say you were published. a local newspaper handout.

    This system is like the stepping blocks kids make to go higher and higher.

    You take a year to write and be publised in these journals and mags. And it will take a year. You will also learn so much about formating, the submission process; it's like an apprentice program.

    Of course all doing this short story writing and submitting time, you've been writing the Great American Novel. Then you go to conference, writer's workshops, network and learn how to talk to agents and editors and book people. You do this so when you finally have your own agent, you will be knowledgable enough to carry a conversation.

    I am the type of person I need to know everything. I love research. I have taught myself everything there is to know about the book industry: printing, marketing, promotion, agents in and outs, what who wants and how. If there are any surprises out there, I'm going to know them first.

  14. My favorite genre to read! (Stephen King, Ann Rice, Robert McCammon, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Fritz Leiber etc).
    My son has been writing stories since he was about 9 years old. He is going to be a Senior in High School this year and has already started to apply to Colleges that are strong in creative writing courses. His dream is to be able to support himself writing books, but is willing to settle for a career in Photo-Journalism.
    Do you have any advice to him?

  15. I like how you said "weren't". A lot of people use "wasn't". Although, honestly, sometimes I get confused which witch is whom? I mean, which. But whatever, I no grammer good and its awsome, huh?

    If I "weren't" writing, I'd probably be thinking about writing. Maybe a rock star. They're pretty dope. And they get to do cool stuff on stage. Although, getting up and talking into a mike in front of people does kinda freak me out. I used to want to be a hair stylist, because that's what my dad is, then I wanted to be a professional artist, but I stopped drawing ever since I began writing. Maybe I should've stuck with both.

    The simple answer is: I don't know. I'm still in college, so I've got a little bit of time before real-life sneaks up on me. So...new goal: get famous before 22. We'll see if this one happens. Published at 15...successful at 22. I can live with that?

  16. I have had writers block for years. You get busy with your life and have notime to write. Now I know my blog is small but it has actually helped me start writing again. I just finished a short story and I find when I sit down to write, even if it's about my radishes, I end up writing memories from childhood and it flows.

    I always heard you just have to write everyday and I am trying to get back into that groove. JoAnn/Estevan what do you do to get rid of the writers block? That is if you have it sometimes.

  17. Hi After the journals, the mags, the writer's conferences, and you have revised the revision right off the page of your mss, then you query an agent. Of course writing that query letter could take a year or so. Just joking. Almost.

    Then you query agents with your cover letter and the first chapter and that's all. At least now they are letting authors do it by email. Saves tons on postage.

    I consider searching for an agent the same as searching for a job. Every interview you pour your heart out on how good you will perform, the research you did to speak knowledgly about the industry and you are rejected. Your self-esteem is battered and beaten. The more rejections the more your self-esteem sweeps the floor. I don't know of anyone who hasn't had doubts while querying for an agent.

    That is why faith in yourself and in your craft is paramount to staying in this career. That is why the writing lessons and practice is important because you can say to yourself that you've done all that there is to do to be the best at what you do.

    oh you never, no, none, ever ever, send out a query before your manuscript is done. Any agent will not look pass the first line if it doesn't say I have a completed manuscript. The manuscript has to be completing written before you querying.

  18. You lovely people are very cool, and you all have some good questions. Tammigirl, I know what you mean. I can see how some writers take five or so years before coming out with another book. They take a LONG TIME. The writing is one thing...and that can take anywhere from a few months for a draft to a couple years after editing, sending it out to agents and publishers to actual feel-it, touch-it finished product. Plus, it's tiresome, but here I am...approaching book three, and I still love this.

    For me, it's taken three years. Not sure why, but it seems that from the moment I get the idea for the book to when it actually comes out is about three years. Maybe that's my magic number. The plan is to write the next one in less time. But honestly, I've been working on some short stories and this blog tour, and who's graduating and getting married, and so I'm chillin for the moment. But, don't worry...there's plenty. In fact, there's a book I started about five years ago, went back to last fall, made some edits, but I still kinda feel like it's not meant to be written yet or at all, so it's once again been shelved. I think I know which one's gotta come next. We'll see if it wants to.

    Thanks so much for your input. Do you write?

  19. Tammigirl,
    who said they can only write a book every five years? Are they bestsellers?

    I think I heard Junot Diaz say that. I can't imagine how one would survive. They must have a day job to be able only to write a book every five years.

    My other question would be do they do intense research for the setting or plot of their book? Do they edit each page as they go? There are so many details that go into style that has to be addressed that taking five years is sometimes necessary.

    I do writing groups and I'll put my manuscript through the critiques several times before I am satisfied.

    Also ifyou have noticed in my replies I can' spell worth a darn so I have to be extra sure that all the words are spelled correctly in my mss. ha ha

  20. Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing that tidbit about your grandparents, and for taking in a young punk for your blog. You're awesome!

    For me, I didn't really get to grow up with my grandparents. Both grandmothers died before my birth, and one grandfather lives a few hours away, and the other lives about twenty minutes away, but he doesn't like to socialize a lot. So, the fascination, I think, just stemmed from being a boy. Plus, I'm sure my faith has something to do with it. The war between light and dark is always something that's up for discussion, debate or fist-to-cuffs. Haha. But otherworldly things are just so much fun. I love movies like Constantine, Fallen, Se7en, The Order, Stephen King stuff. It just appeals to me. Perhaps it's the music also or maybe it's because I'm into these elements in writing and film that I listen to certain artists. But Edgar Allen Poe was definitely a writer I was attracted to growing up, too. I guess it's the child still in me that thinks maybe, just maybe, stuff like this might actually happen; and if they can't...it's still fun and creepy to think about.

    We vampires are most alive during the night...so daylight is like garlic. Don't vurry...Dracoolia is happy now. Fang-teeth hiss accordingly.

  21. Deadwriter340 and BronzeWord, I have been inspired to try writing again. It may never get me anything worth talking about, but I sure do enjoy it. Thank you!

  22. Firstly, I have to say that I am thrilled to have you on here. And you are welcome anytime!!

    Secondly, can I assume you were raised Catholic? I was and although I am no longer religious, those beliefs really shaped the way I see things. I had those same feelings of good vs. bad and adore anything (movies, books, stories) that involve the fight between good and evil.

    I am all about Stephen King and I love the exorcist, the omen, the Seventh sign and apocolypse stuff. And don't get me started on vampires.

  23. Jo Ann's process for writing does seem very accurate, but I still haven't mastered how the H to approach an agent or editor correctly. Especially when they can so politely say, "Go blank yourself with this thing." The common response is, "Not what we're looking for." But it only makes success that much sweeter when you make it.

  24. Vampires!
    OMG! I have fallen in love with True Blood!
    I have been a Lestat fang for a long time, and now I am a fang of Bill's as well.
    Who is your favorite Vampire?

  25. ah writer's block. I say I've never had writer's block because I don't want to admit that it is happening.

    I think that as mothers and fathers we have to admit that our lives/reality gets in the way of our writing. Not to be sexist here and women have a hard time justiying time away from cleaning the house, taking care of kids and spouse. BUT that is what has to happen. If you went out to a job no one would say you can do that later, go with us now. Your writing is like a job. You have to make time for it even if it feels like nothing is coming.

    There is place where you have to stand up for yourself and say these two hours every day are mine and I am not to be disturbed. Then don't answer the door to your room even if they are crying outside the door. Even if you are sitting there with your hands over your ears trying not to hear the crying. The ones around you that love you and want to support you will learn how to support you better. You teach them that this time is your writing time and as important as their play time or spouse's talking time. They will learn. If you value yourself, they will learn to value your time too.

    not to say that anyone here doesn't value themselves. Just saying that as adult we learn to scarifice our time for everyone else. There is a place that has to stop. Our writing is that place.

  26. Babba, like i tell my cousin, you wrote something and it was published in the free local newspaper in the neighborhood. Darn it, you're a published author. period.

    go for it!!
    Jo Ann

  27. Okay folks if we are going to get into vampires and supernatural things that go bump in the night I'm history.

    I am the biggest wimp and scardy cat ever. I'll be back in a while to check in for any other Writing realted questions. ha ha
    Jo Ann

  28. Hey, Doubting Thomas,

    That's great news about your son. You must be proud. He's about to reach a milestone in his life, and he's a writer, so that's sweet, too. What colleges has he applied to? He does have a lot to learn, I'm sure, as I did and still do. It will be a great time for him and for you. Be there to encourage him, because every writer could use some encouragement; it's hard enough without it.

    Has your son tried to get anything published? What style does he write?

    Yes, that is my goal as well. To write and support myself that way. People tend to look at me with this strange, gawking look in their eye that seems to say "weirdo". But it's who I am. I'm either gonna make it or not. I choose to think of the former. If he's got any questions, send him on here and I'll answer them if I can.

    Photo-journalism. There's a certain lady in my life who wants to do that. That's interesting...we were just talking about it the other day.

  29. LOL! BronzeWord, I never thought about it that way. Of course, the only thing I've ever had published is Letters to the Editor in our local paper. But that's something!

  30. Carolyn, writer's block is something every writer faces. I have to admit that I don't get it too, too often. I mean, sometimes when I write, I already know basically where I want it to go...but there are a very many other times when I don't have a clue, or I think I do...until it writes itself. That's great, though, that your childhood comes out...probably because your mind wants to go there again, and it's good to bring your readers along for the journey.

    It's funny you mention the simple things in life, because my father and I were literally talking about this the other day. About writing something impressive or meaningful or just picking a topic and making it that way.

    The best way to get rid of writer's block is to grunt, stomp your foot, try to rip out your hair, and then just keep typing. Maybe turn on your favorite band for awhile or watch a flick, then get back to it. Sometimes the story is there, but we're not ready for it. There's a book/story I've been meaning to write for a few years now about writer's block. Really cool and creepy, but it hasn't decided to be written yet, plus I've got so many other stories floating around in there that it's tough. I'm blocked. Kind of like reverse writer's block BLOCK! aha

  31. Listen to Jo Ann, people, she's a wise cookie.

  32. The creepy book about writers block sounds fascinating, Deadwriter340! I hope you manage to get it out some day.

  33. Hmmmm, Doubting Thomas...I did watch Interview with the Vampire, which I thought was a pretty cool movie. But my favorite vampires would probably have to be the ones from I am Legend. Not the film, the book. The good one. I think it might be because they were so creepy, and they didn't talk a whole lot. I think the whole idea of Richard Matheson's book just creeped me out.

    I've been meaning to check out True Blood...I've heard it's bloody good.

    Oh, have you felt the holes in his hands and feet yet? haha...

  34. Yeah, Carolyn, those movies are fun. But they do freak me out...because I believe some of them. I was raised in Christian home, and went to a Catholic high school. The whole idea and dimension of a God and a Devil and their opposing forces is so incredible. It fascinates me and makes me kinda jealous that some have said they've seen them. I'm like, "I want one!"

  35. Babba,

    Like I said, "Do not forget the days of small beginnings." Today, the Letters to the Editor. Tomorrow...the world...moohaha. Keep writing. Keep burning with passion for it, and it will love you back, with words instead of kisses. Shucks.

  36. Spouse's talking time. Funny, Jo Ann

  37. It just shows how your childhood will influence what you do and what you write. I honestly believe that if i had been raised Baptist or Buddhist, I wouldn't have such a fascination with the concept of good vs. evil and the devil vs. god. Or maybe it would but it would be different. I have to admit, I still get freaked out about all that. I do believe that there are spirits and forces that we don't see in this realm but are still here.

    Also, the idea that people themselves are always fighting the evil in themselves fascinates me. That's why I love reading about serial killers etc.

  38. Funny thing: I just got an e-mail from an agent saying that she wanted to read the first 50 pages of A Boy Called Arson. I must have sent out the query letter months...months ago, and she's replying now. Man, it takes them a long time to get back. In that time, I have shortened the title, edited the crap out of it, and signed with a publisher. Sometimes nothing...sometimes it comes in like a rain storm.

    And yeah, I hope Writer's Block comes out eventually, too, Babba, you published author, you.

  39. Estevan, my son started off with short stories, and is now working on his third novel. He started off in the Fantasy Genre (Dragons, swords, knights etc) and has moved onto Sci-Fi/Supernatural (werewolves, vampires, ghosts etc).
    He has a couple of short stories published in his school paper, a local newspaper, and has submitted a few stories online. Nothing that has made him any money (so far).
    He is seeking a publisher (no bites), and agent (No bites yet).
    He has decided to try and incorporate two of his passions (writing and photography) into a photo-journalism degree, as that seems to be the most financially stable for a want-to-be-published writer.
    He has applied to the University of Wisconsin (Madison) as I am a Service Connected Disabled Veteran, and in the state of Wisconsin, any child of a Disabled Service Connected Disabled Veteran can get two years of free tuition (we still have to pay for books, food and housing.)

  40. Thanks Jo Ann and Estevan for the answers.

    I grew up with a love of horror and was fortunate enough to have a mother that didn't follow parenting manuals. I was the little girl at 10 years old sitting in the movie theater with my uncle watching "The Omen". When he got ill during the beginning of the show, I stayed and watched it by myself with the usher occasionally coming to check on me.

    I was also blessed with a grandmother who loves to read. She's 86 years old now and claims to be the longest subscriber to Reader's Digest. She dragged my sister and I to the library countless times during the summers when she watched us. I was the one checking out the King, Koontz and Robert McCammon books. No book was ever off limits and for that I love them both beyond measure.

    I raised my four children the same way. My oldest is 26 and my youngest turns 13 in a few weeks. I've managed to survive the teen years three times so far, Jo Ann. Those were easy, I think, because they were boys. My youngest is a girl and I may not make it through this time around, at least not without prescription narcotics ;)

    So who are your favorite writers? Beyond the bigs, that is. I recently found Scott Sigler (he was behind the couch the whole time!) and I really like his writing style. I think because he used the word "F&C%-stain" in a sentence and that appeals to my potty-mouthed sense of humor.

    And by the way Estevan, look for another royalty check coming your way; I'll be purchasing your books shortly.

  41. Yeah, Carolyn, I have definitely thought about that. A kid in my philosophy class posed that question to me this semester. Like, if I were born in another country, a country where Christianity wasn't as dare-I-say popular, or convenient as the US, if I'd still associate with that religious group. I've since thought a lot about that.

    But yeah, there's gotta be more than meets the eye. If this were all there was, how boring would that be. That's why I took the whole serial killer aspect and added a demonic presence to it, to make it more realistic in its fantastical dimension. We've all got demons.

  42. Thanks for all of the encouragement you guys! This has been a great chat. And thank you for hosting this and inviting me, Carolyn! I've really enjoyed this.

  43. Babba I am glad you enjoyed it. This was the first time I ever did this and I loved it!

  44. Wow, Doubting Thomas,

    That's great about schooling. I'm glad he's doing something he loves while being smart about a career. Great. Plus, the new genre's more fun, too. Tell him I said so.

    If he keeps at it, he'll make it. In time. That's what my dad tells me. And I guess it's true. I wish him all the best. From one writer to another: Good Luck, Dude! If he ever wants to chat, me e-mail's on my website.

  45. Estevan so true. And that's why although I love the whole Omen/Exorcist themes, I am fascinated by serial killers because I often wonder what sort of demons they do have and what made those demons come out.

  46. Thank You Estevan! He will be thrilled to hear about your kind and VERY generous offer to email you!
    I am sure he is filled with lots of questions for you!

  47. Haha, thanks Shel. The Sacred Sin has just been made available in hardcover, so you should probably order it directly from the publisher PublishAmerica, since they are both the same ridiculous price. (Sorry, I have no control over what they charge. Believe me, I've tried to have it lowered.)

    You've had a very interesting life. I can totally picture myself, as you were, at ten in a movie I wasn't supposed to be watching. I always had fights with my mom about what I could and couldn't watch. But I'm glad nothing's off limits, because it would appear I've gained another reader. Thanks for chatting with me today.

    Oh, and P.S. I'm the second of four sons. All boys. I've heard raising girls is tougher...especially at that age. She'll be bringing boys over soon enough. Good luck!

  48. Estevan,
    you may be young and i'm really really very old but i can still beat your butt.

    as El Guapo would say Chocino take your mind out of there.

    I meant talking time, as in catching up with each other. If i had meant SEX I would have said "doing the nasty"!!!! ha ha ha
    Jo Ann

  49. Doubting Thomas, I hope your name doesn't imply how you feel about writing as a career. Estevan is right. Your son needs encourage by the barrelfull. My parents aren't speaking to me because they believe that I just don't want a "real" job. And my poor aunt says that "All I want to do is type, type, type. And no time to find a man." ha ha

    As you can see, as Estevan said, deciding on writing as a career is a scary idea to a lot of people.

    Also have your son email Estevan and have Estevan read his stories. But go someplace else for editing. ha ha However you Mr. DT write me and I'll head you to some good books so you can learn the industry so you can encourage and direct your son in the correct way to pursue his career. There are right ways and wrong ways of doing everything. If you do it the wrong way, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Also the book industry is a small world. You mess up with one agent, the others will know.
    Jo Ann

  50. So if you've written something do you look for an agent first or do you just start sending it out to different publishers?

  51. ok all this dark side stuff. I don't think it has all that much to do with religion only. Look what Star Wars did with the concept. Mucho dinero!!! And there is something in psychology that involves a person seeing their death often. That it is commonplace among us.

    I think the dark side and the concept of how easy it would be to go over is what is intriguing. I mean if you could get away with something and suffer no consequences would you do it? Interesting.

    Also Chesterfield wrote in one of his books and believe it or not it was fiction. "I can write about murder and atrocities because the line that seperates all of us is very thin. It doesn't take much for us to be able to think like a madman. For a madman creeps around inside of each of us. It is only in the choices you make each day that keeps him pinned up. For in each of us there is a murderer and a madman wanting to kill."

    now that is scary stuff and i think that is what is triggers when we watch movies or read books about killers or "others".
    Jo Ann

  52. Well, Babba,

    Ideally, you want an agent, but if no agents are biting, feel free to EDIT it again, then read the publisher's guidelines and send it out to them as well. But some agents do e-mail you back quicker than a publisher will. Use discretion.

  53. Man, Jo Ann,

    That be some scary ish. But oh, so true.

  54. ROFLMAO! No my name (Doubting Thomas) has nothing to do with how I view writing/writers or my Son's Career! It has to do with another website, but is now associated with my email address (thank You Blogger...). I also happen to be a women (I know, confusing with the blogger name...).

    I support my son 1000%!! I support all four of my son's, regardless of the field they want to be in. (One wants to be a writer, one wants to be a Dentist, one wants to be a Mechanic and one wants to run a Dairy Farm).

    I will take you up on your offer to email you as well Bronzeword! I have a million questions on how to help my son get a start in his lifelong pursuit.

    The writer started reading Micheal Crichton when he was just 7 years old!! Jurassic Park seemed to open eyes and from that point forward he started to write stories. In the beginning they were rough, as he was young and just starting to write. In comparison, the writing of today is comparable to most of the books I have read that are coming out on the market today.

  55. Thanks for advice, BronzeWord.

  56. Wow, doubting Thomas...a woman? You had me fooled. Now I must doubt you, huh? Never assume.

    No, that's great, though. I love milk, nice teeth, am gonna need someone to work on the car, and writing just rocks, so your kids are okay in my book!

  57. Here's a question for you fine blog followers.

    What do you like most in a book/writer? Is it the way he/she describes something? The way he writes dialog? The pace, the length of chapters? And what makes you put a book down the fastest? Let me know. I'd like to know.

  58. For me, the main thing is the story. I don't care what it's about. Superheroes, serial killers, the gardening club, the family anything as long as it is a story. So many writers make the mistake of creating just characters or describing things without a story. Secondly, characters. If I can't care about the people in the story, forget it. I think that goes for movies as well. I don't even care if the main protagonist is a villian, if I care about him, I am interested.

  59. For me the most important thing is the characters.
    Are the characters believable? Have they been brought to life in my imagination? (Can I picture them in my mind?)
    If I believe the characters, then I can believe the story line....
    I like a book to be a door in my mind. I have no idea what is behind that door until I open it. But once it is opened. I should be looking out through the eyes of the writer, seeing everything he/she sees, hearing what he/she hears etc.

    There is nothing more boring than a book that writes about every object in the room and nothing that really progresses the plot.

    Some books read like a black and white movie (everything thing is there, but it is just missing something), vs a book that reads like a techni-color movie.

  60. Sorry Estevan but my 20 yrs in publsihing to your 6. You need an agent. No and, ifs, or buts about it. I think it's S&S send out a 27 page contract. If you are good at reading legalize then by all means go for it. I have article that I can send you that describes what agents do for you. But you are talking about anthonology rights, overseas rights, movie rights and even basic permission as to looking at your cover before they decide on it. did you know that an author has no say on the cover of the book. None at all.

    Estevan is self-published so that's a different ball game.

    In my understanding of the writing world, an agent can keep you out of harms way in so many different ways it's foolish not to go with an agent. It's like steering a boat in a fog in a busy harbor without radar.
    Jo Ann

  61. Carolyn, sometimes what you are reading is the writer's strength. There are five elements: plot, charaterization, action, scene and description. And if you're good at psychology you'll know that i put my two weaknesses at the end of the list. Some writers can create people like you've known them forever. Other people can create setting/scenes like if you grew up there. Always a writer will struggle with one or two of the lot. I've seldom seen anyone good at everything. Of course I've read some that sounded like they were good at everything but that means they did revision a 1001 times before they even submitted it to an agent/much less the revision times with the editor of the publishing house.

    To get the reader engross you may say that the character has to be real for you to care. yet if that character didn't react to their surrounding you wouldn't have a feel for the character. Goes hand in hand.
    Jo Ann

  62. DT, have you ever read a book and had an image of the character in your mind then the author describes the character and you are all off. Does that ruin the book/story for you? There is a big debate as to whether describe each character or leave it up to the imagination of the reader?
    what are you thoughts on this Estevan?
    Jo Ann

  63. Also DT, you said you wanted to see through the eyes of the writer and the real test of a great book is if the reader gets lost in the story and characters and sees the story through the eyes of the narrator. The writer disappears off the page is the ultimate goal of a good writer.

    I have had people say this book sounds just like you as if that was a compliment. I smile and groan inwardly and think "Back to the drawing board." ha ha

    Barbara Kingsolver wrote once that she rewrites each sentence in her books 50 times.

    Mark Twain quoted says: "The choice between the right word is like the difference between a lighting bug and lightening.

    yah all i do is sit at home and type type type. I don't do anything really hard. ha ha
    Jo Ann

  64. Hello I stopped by to check how are you doing, wow! I will need some time to read all the great comments. Answering to your question Estevan, I love to read and I read pretty much everything as long as the story is interesting and the pace is not to slow, the first chapter is always the most important to me, there are a couple of books that I've tried to read and I never pass the first chapter, if it is confusing or too slow I put the book down. Another important thing for me is how believable the characters are and how they develop in the story.

  65. Estevan, as to your question, (a great one BTW), as others have pointed out, I need to be grabbed in the first chapter. I don't mean that the most sensational thing in the book has to happen in the first chapter, I'm saying I want to feel a need to keep reading. And that happens through a combination of things. It's character development, it's scene setting, it's suspense about something. Even in the most benign stories, something interesting has to have happened by the end of it. The journey in between the beginning and the end has to be interesting as well as the characters. IMHO that's the balance a good story has to reach.

    Thanks for your time today, Estevan. And Jo Ann.

  66. Sorry, I've been away for a bit. Babysitting my little bro. I like the responses you have all given. I, personally, believe in the characters. For me, writing a character is the most fun and challenging part. The characters really do need to come alive on the page. I prefer to write stories for my characters, so that the plot and everything that happens in the book is for their growth, a reflection on them, rather than writing paper-thin characters. A writer who is notorious for doing this is Dan Brown. But I will give him props, because he can write a mean story, even if his characters have little to no development.

    As for Jo Ann's question, I can relate to picturing a character in my mind, and then the movie version comes out, and I'm scratching my head. The one that upset me the most is I am Legend. Even though I like Will Smith, he wasn't right for the role.

  67. I also agree that the first chapter needs to grab the attention of the reader. I know this, because I have spent countless hours, days and nights writing and re-writing the first chapter of my newest book Arson. I even wrote an entire first chapter, and decided to can the whole thing, have switched around a bunch of scenes and so on. It really is important, not only for readers, but for yourself and for agents/publishers. Grab them the first chance you got.

    Thanks so much, Carolyn for hosting us during this tour. I have really enjoyed talking to all you fine people. Be well. And I'd love to work with you again.

  68. Thank you Estevan. It's been wonderful hosting you on my blog today. It was great talking with you and hearing how you write and what motivates you etc. Please feel free to come back anytime and I will be happy to do this for your next book even if it's not on a book tour!!

    Thank you Jo Ann and BronzeWord for the Latino Book Tour. I hope you continue doing this and remember my blog is always open. Thank you for sharing your process as well.

    And lastly, thank you to all my great friends who came here today and participated in this wonderful event. I love you guys!! And I know there were a lot of my lookie loo readers here as well. This wouldn't have been as fun if you guys ahdn't come on to ask questions and make comments. I totally appreciate it!!

    You can still make comments or ask questions but I don't want to keep Estevan here until 12 midnight!

    Again, thanks to everyone who made this event a success!!!!

  69. I figured one last post. I just got back from seeing Drag Me to Hell. In three words...FREAKED ME OUT!

    Goodnight, world...and Carolyn. You have been a wonderful host!

  70. I have to see that! I love Horror flicks.

    You were a wonderful guest and come back anytime!! Thanks again.

  71. To answer the question about what keeps me reading. I have to say it's the author's voice. For expample, the first thing of Stephen King's I ever read was his book on writing. I picked it up in an airport thinking it would be one of the best books I would ever read. I trashed it before the first chapter was done. I thought he came across as an idiot. He dropped the F bomb about a hundred times. I'm no purist, but what? A supposedly great author writing a book about writing and he can't be any more creatively expressive than this?

    Not interested, thank you very much. Because of this I've read nothing of his.

    It might be sad to say so, but I would rather read a less fabulous story written in a way I can appreciate than a best-selling author who just doesn't do it for me.

    I love reading what Shel writes because she always tickles my funny bone. That woman can EXPRESS herself. Every time. It makes me jealous.

    I can only do that part of the time. When I do I just sit down and start writing and it flows. The more I think about things beforehand the worse my writing is.

    I think it's very interesting to see how different people have such different processes.