A Life in Mexico: Being Dead

Banda music, the Latin-flavored polka music, played from the center of town.

Lupé was thinking about Maria. Maria lived down the path from Lupé. She walked by the lower part of his yard every morning about 7:00 AM. She worked at the small tortilla shop on the main block in town. Tortillas were one thing the little rancho made that could always be counted on to produce an income for those who worked there. It wasn’t a big income, but any income in this rancho was a good income. The money is why he thought of Maria. She hadn’t been going to work.

Lupé thought maybe her hours changed when he stopped seeing her walk to work. Lupé began to notice a few strangers walk from the main road down the path toward Maria’s house after a few weeks. By the time he identified the strangers as a doctor and a few family members the rumors about Maria had spread. Some said she had cancer. Others said she had fallen prey to demons. Others say a curse had been cast.

Whatever the story was about Maria’s illness, he was shocked to see the doctor and Maria’s husband help her out to the main road. She was so thin. Lupé didn’t recognize her. She’d always been a pudgy, matronly figure. Now her dress hung on her. There was a man on each of her arm directing her down the path to her husband’s truck. Finally, her husband had to pick her up and carry her the remaining distance to the truck. She placed her head against his chest and almost disappeared in his arms.

Even though he wasn’t religious, Lupé crossed himself. He heard his mother’s voice say a prayer as she too watched with concern as this shell of a woman walk down the path.

“She doesn’t look good,” Lupé said to his mother.

“She is dying,” his mother said.

“How do you know that mother?” Lupé asked.

“I just do,” she said. “Old women know these things. As you get close to death, you recognize your fellow travelers.”

“Mother,” he said. “Be quiet, you will live to be a hundred.”

“That is not far off my dear,” his mother said.

Lupé knew his mother was right about her age and time on this Earth. He shuddered at the thought of having to care for his brother alone.

“Are you scared of dying mother?” The question came as a shock to both of them. Lupé was not one to ask probing questions and his mother was not one to dwell on her own mortality, even though it consumed most of her thinking.

“I’m not scared of dying, mijo” she said with assurity. “Being dead will be good.”

“Good?” he asked with some alarm in his voice.

“Yes,” she said with simplicity. “I’m tired.”

Lupé ignored the response.

The truck with Maria and her husband sputtered to life. He heard it complain as it chugged uphill the two blocks until he could turn left and descend the long road down the mountain.

“We will not see Maria again,” his mother said.

“How do you know that?” Lupé snapped.

“She told me,” his mother said matter-of-factly.

“When did she tell you this?” he said slowly, watching his mother at the stove.

“Just now,” she said.

The hair on Lupé’s arms tingled. “What do you mean, ‘just now’?”

“Just now on the way down the road. In the truck,” she said softly.

Lupé didn’t know what to say.

“Being dead isn’t the end, mijo,” she said. “She’s free now. She’s home.”

“But how do you know?” Lupé asked a bit at a loss for words.

“My dear boy,” his mother said, still stirring the beans and lard. “I am near that occasion myself, and as you get closer you see things and hear things from beyond the veil.”

Lupé stood there consuming what his mother had said.

The banda music in town stopped, almost as if to give him time to digest what his mother had said. The silence rang through the streets in the absence of the music. The wind came down from the mountain, warm and humid. His mother turned her head into the breeze.

“Adios, Maria…mi amiga. Vaya con Dios,” his mother whispered to the wind.

Friday Author Review: Rob Cooke

Rob Cooke’s Author Spotlight on IntrovertPRESS

Moonshiner’s Legacy     Sara’s Swamp Blues

Coming soon: The Lost Song of Miriam Landry

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Rob Cooke wrote early scenes of Moonshiner’s Legacy while undergoing treatment for cancer. He took his kids to the library, checked every book about the era in his novels and built the story one page at a time. The whole family was involved. From those research adventures with his kids, his series began. Moonshiner’s Legacy starts with Bo Barnum and his pursuits of handling the family moonshine business. Sara, his daughter, and granddaughter to a Creole Indian, is the focus of Sarah’s Swamp Blues.

Rob’s stories unfold with dynamic roots growing into the deep Southern culture of 1920’s Arkansas and Louisiana. Receiving 5-star reviews, Sara’s Swamp Blues continues the legacy into the violence and tumult of the 1950’s. Rob himself is from Nebraska and has a passion for Depression Era themes, especially the music of that time period. He is also a budding guitar, banjo and harmonica player.

Connect with Rob here. Please re-post and re-tweet to support Rob!

Thanks for visiting the IntrovertPRESS site. We are pleased to spotlight our authors and their literary ventures. If you would like to see the authors supported by IntrovertPRESS click here.

Writing Genre Series: Becky Kapjon

This is a series focused on showing emerging writers that genre is a personal choice…

I’m Becky Kapjon and I am a contemporary romance writer.  Since I am an avid romance reader, I decided why not tell my own stories.  I take my stories one step further, my stories are not a typical romance novel.  They are a little smuttier than a typical romance novel.  My characters come to the life on the page, with everyday problems with everyday situations.  They don’t always have a happy ending.  I enjoy writing about strong female characters who take charge of their life where sometimes it works for them and sometimes it doesn’t.  I’m hoping to publish my first novel soon.

Becky’s Author Page

Introvert Press began this series to give new authors insight into why writers pick their genre of writing. If you would like to contribute a short paragraph to this series, send us an email!

Black Swan Planet by James Peters

Hello folks.

So I only share reviews on books that I rate personally with 5 stars, we don’t have time to waste with anything else, right?

I had the privilege of reviewing Black Swan Planet by James Peters.

This book is the typical boy meets girl meets chimpanzee meets a time jumping space Queen meets Galactic armies meets Barbarians meets the Tonton Macoute. I’m not sure which impressed me more: the crassness of the wit, the depth of the science, the expanse of the galactic landscape or the plot which never failed to keep me glued to the page. After finishing the book, I’m  left recalling, simultaneously, the hilarity of the crazy antics and the poignancy of the message. It’s a sci-fi book for sure, but it is so much more. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is however for anyone wanting to blush from adult humor while really pondering the circumstance of humanity. It’s like no book I’ve ever read, which is why I think I’m left with this wonderful feeling after reading it.

I wish it went on longer.

GO. Buy it!

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New Years’ Eve 24-Hour Flash Fiction Horror Contest

While most of the world raise glasses of champagne, we writers are at home putting words to the page. I.P. hosts a flash fiction contest in honor of Mary Shelley and her classic novel Frankenstein. Her novel, written in 1818 London, was the result of a friendly competition in an old castle during a fierce storm. The competition is what inspired I.P.s New Year’s Eve contest. The theme for the contest will be posted on the I.P. website at 9:00 pm on New Year’s Eve. The contest will end at 9:00 pm on New Year’s Day.  Follow our Facebook page or our blog to get updates and theme.

Something All New Authors Should Read

I’m not the type of person to tell people what to do or what they should read.

Two weeks ago, I had come across a blog post by an author I follow had posted relating to new authors.  I thought there were plenty of valid points all new authors should know when they are starting out in the industry.

The author I am talking about is Kristy Bromberg.  She is a New York Times Best Selling author of 13 novels.  She is a contemporary romance author who knows what it is like to have to market herself.  She is an indie author and knows the business very well.  I had asked her permission to post her blog post for our group.  I hope everyone reads the post and takes away from it all of the points I did.

Thank you to Kristy for letting me share your blog post.

We can’t do this alone.  We need to help each other if we are going to become successful.  Kristy’s blog post…..

It’s tough love time. Seriously. You need to get organized and realize it takes so much more than a great book to make it these days. If you’re confused on what to do, please feel free to keep reading.
The market is inundated with books right now. It’s not just affecting you as a new author trying to break through in this chaotic world, but it’s also affecting us ‘oldies’ who have been doing it for the last five – eight years.
I’m not posting this from a stance of ‘holier than thou’ but rather a ‘tough love’ one. I recently offered my Facebook page up to 180 new authors. I would do a party and give them each a post to showcase their release to my readers. A small hand that might not do anything but was worth helping them get some extra visibility. Like I said, this world is tough now and every little bit helps.
In the course of gathering their information, I realized that a majority of them didn’t know the following (please note: I am saying some, not all):
They didn’t know what I mean by ‘write me a post’ for Facebook
They didn’t know what I meant when I asked for their ‘links’
Some emailed me upwards of ten times asking ‘is this what you mean’ or ‘what what is xyz’
I don’t mind answering questions for new authors. I never do. But there comes a fine line between asking questions and the you being too lazy to figure it out yourself. As a new author, when a blog or fellow author or a reader offers to give you help, you need to be professional. I can’t stress this enough. This is a business. You may be the most talented author in the world, but if you don’t have a business sense and approach it as such, you are going to miss A LOT of opportunities. You need to come with your best foot forward on the first try because we (us, as authors and our books) are all a dime a dozen these days. If you don’t have your shit together, a blogger might not want to wait for you to get it together and will move on to the next author waiting in line. Because believe me, there is a line.
Another thing (and this may just be a personal pet peeve): You are new, so that means you are in the stage of building relationships. And believe me, your relationship with other authors and bloggers is just as crucial to your success as your relationship with readers… so please, email me yourself. If you’re trying to create those relationships, don’t have your ‘PA’ make the initial/introductory email. To many, that says you think you’re too important to reach out and make the connections yourself. It tells the recipient that you just want ‘something’ (i.e. posting your links) from them for free. They want to get to know you, not your PA. You are the creator of your product and therefore your best sales tool.  I’m not saying once there is initial contact, your PA can’t intervene, but for the introduction, being personable, being you, is what is going to get the best response from me or another blog/author. I get that we’re all busy and you might have a PA to help you market your first book . . . That’s perfectly okay and understandable, but remember, this is about building long-term relationships. And if you don’t take the time to talk with the author/blogger, their relationship is being built with your PA, not with  you. So when your PA moves on to the next author or becomes an author themselves (which often happens), their loyalty and relationship is with the PA, since you didn’t invest the time…so guess who they move on with? Yep, your PA.
So I’ve said all that and you’re nodding your head agreeing that you don’t know some of these things, but you’re new, so how do you learn? Here’s a few pointers and suggestions:
-Act like this is a business. First and foremost. Be professional at all times.
-Study those authors you like or want to be like. Stalk their social media. See how they construct posts. Notice how often the author you are following posts.
-Notice their teasers are not pirated pictures with text slapped on them (because the last thing you want is to be sued by a photographer).
-Notice their interaction with their readers.
-Learn how to shorten links. This sounds somewhat silly, but no one likes seeing a three line URL link. The short links are more professional. And if the blogger/author wants to add their own affiliate links, they can do so whether the links are long or short (See Bitly. Owly. Smarturl, etc. to shorten links).
-When you reach out to blogs or authors, you make sure you know their name, and don’t just cut and paste the same damn form letter 100 times without changing a thing. You act like you care to know them even if you really don’t. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from new authors in this promotion I’m doing, where they have called me Katy, Kathy, Karen, and Kristen. . . I get it, I use my initial K. so it can happen. Personally, I’m not offended by it, but if you’re emailing a blogger to read an ARC (i.e. an advanced copy) and don’t know their name when their name is part of their blog title, I assure you they won’t give you the time of day. Research the blog beforehand and make sure you personalize your correspondence instead of using ‘Hey babe’ or “Hey chick!’
-Create relationships with other up and coming authors and/or bloggers. Band together and cross promote with them. Make them your tribe because they are the ones who are going to help push and promote you long term.
–YOU put the leg work in and don’t expect an email asking an author/blogger you’ve never communicated with before to post the links for you. We’re asked daily to do that. Besides, it’s going to take a lot more than another author/blogger posting your book to find success.
-This is YOUR DREAM. You are the one who is going to make it for yourself. Not someone else.
-Communication is key. Think before you hit send. Make sure your emails and messages are well thought out so that you don’t have to send ten more to explain each subsequent one. Just like you, we are all crazy busy…and so trying to piece together ten emails and what you mean from one to the next is not always our priority. A blog gets a hundred emails a day asking about reviews and ARCS. They like all the information in one place. Not ten emails. Believe me, they favor authors who make their lives easier, not harder.
-No one owes you anything. Just like no one owes me anything. I don’t care if you’ve been doing this ten years, ten months, or ten days – no one owes us anything. Not a sale. Not a page read. Not a review. Is that what you’re striving for? Of course. But at the end of the day, no one owes it to you. Regardless if you are a new or an ‘old’ author, entitlement in any form is ugly and a major turn off.
-A simple THANK YOU goes a long way. Sure you’re busting your butt and are tired as hell, but when someone helps you, a simple thank you is appreciated. It’s sad that they are so few and far between these days that it gets noticed when you give one, but it does. It truly does.
-Treat readers with respect. Treat bloggers with respect. Treat reviews –both good and bad – with respect. Treat other authors with respect. I can’t stress this enough.
-If you don’t succeed, try again. Lame? Yes. But I’ve failed a hundred times doing this writing thing. You need to learn from your mistakes. Move on. Better yourself and your writing with the knowledge you gain.
-Mistakes happen. I’ve published a book with errors in it before. We all have. To err is human and you will NEVER catch all the mistakes… but heed this warning: It is not your editor’s fault. It is not your proofer’s fault. It is not your beta’s fault. There is nothing uglier than an author going on social media blaming others for something wrong with their book. Remember what I said before – be professional at all times.
-Don’t ask other authors about lists (i.e. NYT, USA Today, etc) . I get emails all the time from new authors who have yet to publish their first book, asking me how many sales they need to hit the lists. So . . . if you’re publishing to hit a list, then your writing for the wrong reasons. Yes, it’s easy for me to say when I have hit the lists . . . but they were never even a thought when I first published Driven. I would have laughed at anyone who had even mentioned the possibility because it wasn’t even on my radar. So please, don’t publish to hit a list. Publish because you love to write, you love what you’ve written, and you want others to fall in love with it as well.
Is this the holy grail of what to do? Hell, no. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. I’m still learning every day. I’m still listening to my tribe and learning from them. I’m still putting the time in to watch trends, adjust, change, and reinvent. That’s how this industry works – but I know it is not a measure of my success. Have my last books been as successful as the Driven Trilogy? No. And they probably never will be. The times have changed. The market has more choices for readers. The competition is more abundant. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying. If this is your dream, you learn every day, with every chat you have, with every post you read, with every new thing you write.
I’m far from perfect. I struggled at the beginning and still do in some aspects right along with you. I knew no one when I started, but I knew how to hustle and work hard and studied other authors. I didn’t copy them but rather took in the things they did and reinvented them to work for me. And yes, a little luck meeting opportunity at the perfect time helped as well.
So read this, take what you want from it, or completely ignore it and forge your own path… but after trying to organize this party for new authors, I realized how many people were struggling with knowing what to do or where to go after typing THE END.
So congrats, your book has been written. The easy part is over. Now the hard part begins.
I wish you luck!
K.
(aka Kristy. It’s Kristy. Not Karen. or Kathy. or Kristen. )
And if you’d like to meet some of these new authors and find a new book to read, make sure to head over to my Facebook page this Friday, July 21st starting at 9 am EST to check them out. A new book/author will be posted every 10 minutes throughout the day.