Ymelda Ramirez enjoys lounging on the beach while sipping a Margarita, enjoying the waves crash and feeling the warm sun gently kiss her skin . . . with a composition notebook, lap top or a good book in tow (sometimes the Kindle)... she lives life one word at a time. Always remembering to laugh along the way!
In the trilogy, The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, we are introduced to a world where government goes wrong. Not that I want to get into the decline of human nature, but there is one aspect of the novel that I would like to focus on. It’s the Jabberjays. According to the Wikipedia definition, a Jabberjay was “engineered to be able to remember human conversations and repeat them verbatim with human voices, and thus to be able to spy on the rebels with small likelihood of arousing suspicion.” In essence these little birds were bred with the intention of floating above the human population, undetected, only to report back to the government the movement of the people and anyone that was plotting against them.
If you’ve read the series (if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you do) you’ll see how this bird in the sky back fired on the Capitol (their government) and how eventually, in conjunction with other government strong holds, the people united against the evil of the Capitol and triumphed. Fast forward to the real world and I can’t help but to be reminded of the Jabberjays when I think of the current administrations use of drones. A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot, or as more commonly referred to as, an unmanned aerial vehicle. The idea behind them is that they can be placed over enemy territory and spy on their target. Just as the Jabberjays, they are used for intelligence purposes. Unlike the Jabberjays, they can be armed with weapons and with pinpoint accuracy take out a target without the use of military personnel on the ground.
In an attempt to bring combat missions to an end, thereby securing the safety of our troops, these drones are constantly being used on the war against terror. To date, 3,540 people have been reported killed by these drone attacks. Where they all terrorist who want nothing more than to hurt the American people? Nope! It’s been reported that anywhere between 411 to 884 were civilians and 168 to 197 were children. (Click here for the source). Now, do those numbers sound accurate to you? I mean there is a huge difference in those calculations. I am not good in math, but last time I checked there was a big difference between 411 and 884. Who exactly is taking down these stats? I wonder. . . what color crayon did they use? I hope it was pink.
According to a speech by President Obama dated May 23, 2013, he stated that drone attacks are precise. Precise? Really? How on earth can they be precise when you have so many civilians and children injured in the process? Did the calculating pink crayon smear in the fit of joy of nailing that one terrorist, thereby fudging the precise number of casualties? The President further stated that “putting U.S. boots on the ground may trigger a major international crisis.” Now forgive me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the injury of so many civilians and children harm our international standing, anyway?
I’m pretty sure that I don’t stand alone when, if, confronted with the horrible situation of standing next to some terrorist who was about to be taken out by our military; I would prefer a soldier, who has discretion, to walk up with an M-16 and take out the terrorist they are looking for instead of a drone dropping a bomb into the “general area.” I don’t want to suffer for the hate that someone else has in their heart, just because I had the misfortune of shopping in the same supermarket they do. When this administration is confronted with the number of civilian casualties, the American people are reminded that no war is without casualties. The people are also told that the terrorist death toll to date dwarfs the amount of casualties in the drone attacks. In other words. . . . its OK, the American government isn’t as bad as the terrorist. When would any American want to be in the same ball park as a terrorist anyway? Both literally and figuratively.
According to the President, congress is briefed on all strikes and they do not intend on having armed drones fly anywhere over the United States. The goal of the American government is to “detain, interrogate and prosecute” all terrorist. Americans do not have to deal with the horrific humming of drones following us to the nearest Starbucks in the morning. Ummm, well, that might soon be a wrong statement. First of all, there were American citizens who were targeted in the drone attacks. Four to be exact. Hey remember this little thing called The Constitution? What happened to due process? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment “prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.” Let me reiterate that for you, PROHIBITS ALLLLL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT FROM DEPRIVING INDIVIDUALS OF THEIR BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO LIFE!! However, when any American citizen plots war against America and is unable to be captured, then according to President Obama, “citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected by a SWAT team.” They have used this fear of terror in order to deny these rights to U.S citizens abroad. How far can this fear of terror extend?
This raises the alert flag to red. Laws and rules were put in place for a reason. If basic constitutional rights are denied to citizens who are outside of the country, what’s going to stop these same rights to be denied to a citizen who is at home? Whose to say that a sly comment or a disagreement with a policy or a person isn’t enough to claim that YOU TOO have raged war against the U. S of A and don’t deserve the right of due process and being tried in front of a jury of your peers. What happens when the First Amendment is used against you?
If being an American citizen is not enough to shield one from the ideals of a free nation, don’t be surprised when the next speech that comes from the White House is closed out with “may the odds be ever in your favor.”
Before jumping into the delicious beverage that we will enjoy as we talk in the native language of WRITER, lets take a second to acknowledge the wonderful midnight sky. Don’t be afraid. Step outside for a second . . . what? Night hasn’t fallen yet. I’ll wait here while it does. No rush.
Well, did you see that? Beautiful, isn’t it? Imagine being somewhere surrounded by nothing but stars. Infinite places to go, with no restraint. Sure, it’s just a ball of gas burning, somewhere . . . but what if that gas formed something AMAZING. This is what I recently came across. Something that I just fell in love with. A unique blend of gas that is suspended in space. I just had to feature this photograph as our June header. It’s called the Horsehead Nebula.
It’s something about the colors (PINK!!! It’s my fav), to the shapes, to the numerous stars surrounding it; I am just mesmerized by this photo. It makes me want to jump onto a Virgin Galactic flight and carry my own portable Hubble camera and photograph the bejeezus out of it. Now, it would be awesome if one could own a Hubble camera or if the government would once again support our space program so that NASA can properly update the Hubble telescope, but that’s neither here nor there. Gladly, it works well enough to travel 1,500 light years away and take this amazing shot.
Señor una colada porfavor!
I have a secret to tell you. I’m from Miami. Yes, Miami… Miami, Florida. Home to beautiful beaches, wonderful palm trees, destructive hurricanes and scandalous female drama. It’s also known as an extension of Cuba. I must say that I do enjoy most of the Cuban cuisine. Pastelitos, Vaca Frita, Tostadas, Empanada de picadillo and most of all… OH MYYYLAAANNTTAA I love that Cuban coffee. Señor!!! Oye! Ven aca!
If you’ve never had it before, then you are seriously missing out. I recently learned how to make it at home and it just doesn’t compare to flavor and texture unless a genuine Cuban makes it. Mas azucar porfavor. It’s the best wake up juice in the morning and a quick fire pick me up in the afternoon. I honestly think that the reason that there is sooo much drama in Miami is because of the caffeine that flows through the majority of the folks veins.
The smell smacks your senses into attention and once you feel that hot liquid touch your lips, the warmth flows through your body. It brings an alertness to every crevice in your body. If every writer has a muse, then I’m guessing that this is mine. Instantly, I am transformed into una escritora divina. I start thinking in another language and sometimes, the words are transferred onto pink and black. (I have pink paper…I told you I love the color!!) Muchas gracias Señor.
This got me thinking. What exactly is a writer other than a master of vocabulary? If in fact, you don’t feel that you have conquered your language, then read some more. Grab that dictionary and get to it! The great desideratum of a writer is to form a a fructuous collaboration with the written word. Fear not a verbose carom of providential serendipity, just ambuscade the nearest dictionary and figure out what this verbal judo is all about! (I used dictionary.com)
Not only would a big vocabulary affect the level of your writing. PAUSE for a second. If you have a large vocabulary, it helps the writer create a vast level of characters. It creates dimensions. PLAY. Now imagine the world you can create in another language.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a bilingual home. Spanish being my first language, even though now I don’t speak it so well. However, I can still read it. It has given me the opportunity to meet a variety of writers and really experience the world they were trying to create. Trust me when I tell you that the majority of the time, even the most academic translations DO NOT do an original piece justice. Just think of the transition of a book to a movie. Yeah… a lot like that!
I have promised myself to become some what fluent in a different language for each year that I am alive, starting this year. (I haven’t decided on the language yet, but I do see Rosetta Stone in my future.) As a writer, I owe the many characters that live in my head, the honor of living their lives to the fullest. The only way to do that, is for me to live vicariously for them. I can’t do that with all of them if I don’t speak their language. It is my duty to experience as much as I can in my lifetime in order to make each character believable to my readers. I strongly believe that diversity is what makes a good writer. What do you believe?
I have an admission. First of all, let me say, that I had no intention of purposely walking into this location. Seriously! Do not doubt my dedication to my first love!?! This visit was purely consequential with what I was doing at the time and not that I wanted to step out on her, she means the world to me, but it was all about convenience. I know, it’s a horrible excuse. However she was there when I needed her, where as Starbucks was no where to be found. It meant nothing. Like, I understand this is not an excuse, but I needed a fix and Second Cup was there to quench my thirst. It seriously meant nothing!
I was lost. Desperately needing a caffeine fix and well, I stumbled upon her. I decided, why not. It’s just a cup of coffee. Think of the moments when you need Starbucks, but the nearest place next to you is a Dunkin Donuts. What does an addict do? Do you go without caffeine for the next couple of hours and possibly kill someone one in traffic because you were missing your caffeine fix?? I think not!! You make a sane decision and save a life by drinking Dunkin until you find a Starbucks. America Runs on Dunkin is a horrible slogan. It should be America Accepts Dunkin as a Starbucks Replacement in Order to Save Lives!
Keeping this mentality, I hope that you understand my reluctance in possibly committing vehicular homicide. I was a responsible adult and I stopped at the first available caffeine source. I parked my car, walked up to the building and opened the door. Caffeine scent smacked my receptors and drew me in without hesitation. My eyes checked out the decor that reminded me of Central Perk from Friends, while my mouth savored in anticipation. The mood was LATTE! Now, you think that Starbucks has a complicated menu, THINK AGAIN MY FRIEND! Second Cup has an intricate menu ranging from coffees, lattes and others. I decided to go with a Vanilla Bean Latte AND OMG was it amazing. If you have one near you, check them out. You won’t be disappointed. Did I mention the price was right? It was about half the price of a Starbucks beverage and probably more delish! I still heart you Starbucks!
How Do I Kill You?
I was writing my first novel. As the story progressed, I realized that I hated my main character. Like, stick-a-rusted-razor-tooth-dagger-repeatedly-hacksaw-your-eye truly fully hated her. I then realized that I needed to get rid of her. It was time to plot her murder. It was then time to sit back and wonder, exactly how would she die?
How often have you found yourself in this conundrum? Exactly how do you kill a character? I thought about this almost obsessively. Let me clarify first, that these are ONLY ideas to help you murder a fictitious character and NOT a real human. I do not want this blog post to be evidence in a murder trial NOR do I want my name to flash on the screen and cause a Fox News exclusive on why blogs shouldn’t discuss character killings. I don’t want to spark a national debate on the infringement of the First Amendment and all that jazz. NO, I am merely sharing with you, my personal favs on how to get rid of FICTITIOUS characters that I cannot stand.
1) Poison – Think of Snow White and the apple, but not the coma apple. Make it a deadly apple, or a deadly cup of Starbucks. You can use a real poison (Google it) if your are writing a murder mystery or just make up some random concoction. Hucklevisa Mumble Berry is a good one. Make sure to mix with honey first, to get rid of that sour taste.
2) Fall – Nothing is better than making that pain in the butt character than to cause them pain. Stumbling to their death is the best. Maybe upon walking to the store, they trip on their shoe lace, stumble a couple of paces only to fall backward and then land on a upside down razor sharp ice skating boot that slices into their head and down the back of the neck until it severs their spinal cord killing them within minutes letting them reflect on all the misery they caused. So what if your story is centered in the summer? Maybe the ice skater was cleaning out the closet and the boot fell out into the street.
3) Car – Hit by a car, dragged by a car, rolled over by a car, car fell on their head, and even had a heart attack in the car. The possibilities are endless. Explore this one.
4) Eaten – Works very well if your working on a Sci Fi…but can be made real if you use a parasite or bug or a zombie. God I love zombies! OMG…what if you have a rabid zombie pink haired leprechaun who is high on bath salts??? Picture it for a second…. yup, hilarious!
5) Gun – Get more creative than this. I know you can. This is just sooo blah! Same as using a knife. Gun/knives are just a little over done. Nunchucks now THAT is a murder weapon! Have your character assassin randomly pop into a scene, cartwheel over to the pain in the butt character and nunchuck him/her to death! This also serves as reflection for you character to finally repent for his/her malicious ways as the rabid zombie pink haired leprechaun nunchucks chucks the life outta him/her. Sorry… I still think it’s hilarious! PICTURE IT!!
6) Turkey Leg – Picture this… Your characters are sitting down for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, Pop Pop is about to do the honors of slicing the turkey, when drunk Uncle Ted starts complaining about how he wanted do the honors and Pop Pop is too old to do it. Pop Pop looses his marbles, slices off the turkey leg and proceeds to beat Uncle Ted in the head chanting over and over again ‘Viagra is for duration not necessitation!”
7) Eye Pop – A what? Exactly! Make something up. It’s your world. It doesn’t have to be real, as long as you can verify it’s validity through your writing. This could be the most rare form of a venereal disease that your character contracted while being a jerk. Make it painful!
Whatever you come up with to kill your characters, remember to make it creative. You want something dramatic, something to make your reader go WTH just happened?? I say omit anything that you’ve ever read before and add your own demented idea. There’s nothing unbelievable about how you create your world, as long as you have the supporting words to invite the reader to the places you want to lead them.
May 12 is Mother’s Day, but you knew that already. What sort of things remind you of your Mom?
We’ve been ask to write about the things that remind us of our mothers for May, yet the more I think on the matter, the harder it is to choose just one thing. Even five things is a tough call. My mother has been one of the few reliable people throughout my life thus far. Between her and my grandmother, they both constantly surround me. Whether it is a certain country song that plays over a radio in some foreign location or a just a simple chocolate milkshake, I’m reminded of these woman in some way. Growing up, my grandma would pick my sister and I up from school while my mom and father were at work. When my mom got off she would come to pick us up, but not before grandma prepared me a chocolate milkshake, or two, paired with an egg sandwich just for being her grandson. Breakfast to dessert, she is with me. As for my mom, there are numerous things I can link her to. The amount thinking about it is almost overwhelming. Her and I went through some awful times together, but in those awful times we still laughed with each other. She has shown me what it takes to be strong, and unbeknownst to her, shown me how to use pen and paper. My mom is with me from sun up till sun down. I couldn’t think myself any luckier to have that. So here’s to you mom, the fights we’ve had, the tears we’ve shared, and to the laughs we loved. You’re greater than you’ll ever know.
Once upon a time, I took a creative writing class in college. The teacher wanted us to select a poem and use it as inspiration for our own piece. It had to resemble the style and format of the original. I wanted to choose a poet that no one else in my class was going to pick. Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman were a few of the poets that were out of the question. A friend of mine suggested Pablo Neruda. I had NO CLUE who this guy was. He was from Chile and was a Spanish Poet so I knew that no one else would use him in our class. SOLD!
One night, I was writing in the kitchen, with my borrowed library book by Pablo Neruda and my mom walked by. She started reciting the poem that I was working on. “Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.” I was in shock. I didn’t know my mom could read!!! I asked her how she knew that. She sat down and flipped through the book and started telling me how he was her teenage crush. She would stay up late reading his poetry and followed him the way I would stalk …um I mean… admire NYY Shortstop Derek Jeter. It turns out that she was a huge fan of Pablo Neruda and knew a lot of his poetry by heart. She even helped me with my assignment. We connected that night, like no other. My mother’s first language was Spanish and English never became a second for her. We always had a separation when it came to anything literary that I was interested in, until that night. A couple of years later, we went to a bookstore and I bought the book pictured above. On the subway ride home, we flipped through the book and read some of the pieces. I knew that there had to be a connection to my reading and writing, but I never thought it could be her. My mom is just as much of a fan of the literary world as I am. Now we share books back and forth and have conversations about it all the time. WHOO HOO MOM! =)
This is my first contribution to 7TheMag. This month is a very special one for a lot of people for we celebrate Mothers Day in a couple of days. To commemorate this month I present you with this picture of The Angel Of The Waters located in Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, NY. Mothers day for me always comes on a sour note. Sadly, I lost my mother on Mothers Day Sunday May 11th, 2003. To me she was my entire world, just as this photo is entitled, she was my “Protector”. I tell all my friends and family members or just anyone I’ve met that if you’re still lucky enough to have that wonderful person in your life known as your “Mother, Mom, Mami, …” or any other name you’d like to call her, you should cherish those moments every day. Don’t just take one day a year to show them how much you care for them and how much they mean to you, because TRUST ME, one day, when you least expect it, they may no longer be with you.
K. S. Pratt:
Writing about the woman who was one of my greatest friends and inspirations is a bit of a challenge for me. See, it’s been nearly ten years since she’s passed, every particle of life I experience reminds me of her in some way. Although her gracious presence no longer stalks the earth, I carry with me daily the many life lessons and values she’s ingrained in me. My mother taught me that in the middle of life’s storms, pain and suffering, to find solace in the little things. Because of her I find comfort in a stranger’s crooked smile, joy in a tranquil ocean gently washing over delicate sands, and a sense of peace gazing into the darkness at an enchanting star lit sky. I often miss her at times, but she is always with me. I am the fabric, and her spirit is intricately intertwined in the seams of my daily life, which helps me to keep it all together. As a child, I often wondered why people would stop and stare when she entered a room. It wasn’t because she was famous or a super model, she possessed what the French call “Je ne sais quoi”, an elusive quality no human being could touch. I’m convinced she was of another world, sent to earth to spread light by making it a better place. My mother was a peacemaking, funny, kind hearted, and loving angel. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to know her. She was my everything.
My mother has always had a playful spirit. She’s the one who always laughs the hardest and has this underlying sense of humor that you always find yourself laughing along with her. In my childhood, my siblings and I got into the habit of playing hide and seek in the dark. After my brother scaring me one to many times, my mom set me up in a white sheet with eye holes in it and coached me in what to do to scare him. Well that yelp of fear he gave upon seeing me helped mold one of my favorite childhood memories. That’s who my mom has always been for me. She’s supportive and creative and there to fight battles in her own unique ways. My mother has always played so many roles in my life. Mother, mentor, protecter, friend, doctor, therapist, cheerleader, travel agent, and so much more. She’s always been there for me and I grew up idolizing her. I’ve always admired her strength and ability to pull us through despite adversity. She’s always been a hero in my eyes. Now that my I’ve donned the cap of mother, I’ve learned to further appreciate her. As I raise my children I reflect on the mother she was for me. Everyday I strive to be the same type of mother for my children that she’s been for me. She’s always been there and is the biggest constant I’ve had in my life.
As I sit in this coffee house writing the New York Times Bestseller The Definition of Love, (ok, it might be a bestseller in my head, but that’s where it starts). I begin to run out of ideas. What does a writer do in a crowded coffee house when in need of some inspiration? Well you begin to look around and analyze the people around you. I stare off into the distance and come across an unlikely couple. Their hair doesn’t match. One is blonde, the other a brunette. I laugh to myself and jot this difference in my mental notebook. Then I notice the exchanges between them. The lingering stares filled with pure adoration and comfort. The gentle lip curls as they exchange words barely audible, but easily understood between them. The passionate caresses that marks a sigh of relief on each others face. They have found something so pure, something that the heart desperately desires. A thing that is intangible to some. They have found true love. I stare for inspiration. Others stare because the couple I have been observing are of the same sex.
Love is love. No matter how you look at it. Just as a plant needs water and sun to grow, so does a human need love to flourish. Each human was born with the desire to love and be loved. It isn’t something to be hated or ignored. Love is what makes the world go ’round. If we didn’t love anything then this world would be chaos. Think about it for a second. Without the environmentalist, we would never know what the beach is supposed to look like, what the air is supposed to smell like and what water is really supposed to taste like. This world would be in shambles and you wouldn’t care. Actually, you wouldn’t be around to care, because there would be no one to nourish you and look out for your well being as a child because no one loved you enough to look out for you as an infant.
I know. I know. You don’t want to hear it. However, what exactly is the, dare I say it, hatred with the LGBT community? Lets set aside the religious or scientific aspect of it. Face it, it’s a tired argument. So over it! God made Adam & Eve not Eve & Eva..etc etc. From hormones to brain waves and all the other eclectic things, no one really dives into the issue at hand. The heart wants what the heart wants. Its a fact that falling in love causes a chemical reaction. One cannot control what the heart demands.
There are certain desires that the heart craves that cannot be explained logically. Love. It’s a feeling. Its an emotion that overcomes every inch of reason and all one is left with is an unaltered pure devotion to the person that caused this madness within you. There’s a saying that you can’t control who you love. I believe this. There are many odd couples out there where you wonder, how is it that she’s sooo hot and he’s sooo not? Regardless of what you think, what you say… she looks at him as he is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to her. Why is it wrong when this look is shared between a woman and a woman or a man and a man? Isn’t it enough that they found someone to share their lives with?
The tides are shifting all over the world and no matter what you believe, this issue is not going to go away. People are fighting for their right to marry who they deem fit and to share a life together without prejudice and without restraint. Laws are being changed all over the place. I was always taught as a child that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Stand firm in your beliefs, it’s your God given right to do so. It is not, however, your right to judge and to attempt to tarnish a heart desire that someone else has. If it’s not for you, then GREAT! Live your life accordingly. Allow each person to explore their own happiness and wish them the best. Life isn’t about whose wrong or right. It’s about fulfilling the desires of the heart in a safe environment. After all, that is the true meaning of love, isn’t it?
I know what your thinking? NON FAT LATTE at STARBUCKS!! I know! I know! I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gained a couple of pounds (I stopped counting at 7 over) and I’m inspired now to do something about it. (calorie counting S U C K S!) Or it’s the fact that I think I have tried every single possible combination for delishishness at Starbucks and have run out of ideas. I guess what I’m trying to say is that… well…. I think that…. I’m just plain bored of the drinks at Starbucks… wait… did I just say that out loud? **Clears throat** Is it hot in here… It feels kind of hot. Oh boy.. Mermaid… Starbucks Mermaid person… COME BACK HERE!!!
I didn’t mean that. Crap…FIX IT! FIX IT!!
I didn’t mean that. I love you forever.
That’s right. Come back here. . . Now that that’s settled (or so I hope). This got me thinking…
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE?
I’m not sure where he said this, as I have not read this for myself. However, one of my favorite quotes by my ageless pen role model is “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” That was Ernest Hemingway by the way.
This screams at me. Simply because I think the act of living, on its own, is inspiration to write. When you are infected with the disease of writing, it has a tendency to take on a life of its own. It’s not something that you control. It’s something that flows. One of the Pastors from my church said “You cannot illustrate a story that hasn’t been written in your heart first.” (Pastor Brian Vasil). I believe this holds true, not only in a spiritual life, but also in the writer’s life.
I can think of a story just as thoroughly when I am standing in line at the grocery store, to when I’m having a discussion with a co-worker, to the times where I am sitting around the dinner table with my family. I carry a small notebook in my purse for the JUST-IN-CASE-I-FORGET story ideas. There are times that I plan a bank robbery as I wait for my turn at the teller or plot a murder as I wait at the doctor’s office. Does it mean that I’m crazy? Probably. But, no one truly understands a writer, like another writer. No one else will get it. No one else can understand the sense of accomplishment that flows through your veins when you read something you wrote and see this story that you created in your head solidified in black and white. NO ONE can understand the joy of having someone read your masterpiece and you see the emotions run through their face of awe/disbelief/hatred/love/happiness.. etc.
So, in closing, what inspires me to write? Life. Books. Pens. Paper. That is all.
I’m encouraged to write by simply experiencing life or being in a certain element. I discovered the best ideas are sparked by events that cause me to confront my deepest feelings; sometimes it’s emotional, at times it’s spiritual, and at other times inspiration is coaxed by a glass or two of sauvignon blanc. Lol! Truthfully, I am stimulated by everything around me so I never run out of things to write about. The funny thing about writing is it strikes me at the most peculiar and inopportune moments. Anything ( a song, a sound, a smell, a conversation) can trigger a bout of inspiration which leads me to write. Because this happens quite often, I try to keep a notepad and pen in tow or download an app where I jot down notes on my smart device.
Inspiration for me tends to be a very fleeting thing. It is illusive and I am constantly searching high and low for it. However, I have come to find that there is a constant. The things I draw inspiration from most are nature and music. I have come to always find myself with paper and pen handy. I am one who will be walking down the street, minding my own business and usually looking the part of a sane, respectable member of the community. When inspiration strikes, usually with the subtlety of a wrecking ball, I stop everything I’m doing and looking crazed going into a writing frenzy. Yep, I pull out my handy pen and paper and write. I write as much as I can, regardless of where I am, while the thought is present and fresh. When I’m at home later, with some time on my hands, I pick up where I left off. This is where music comes in. Music keeps the flow going.
SIGN HERE PLEASE
It was a typical South Florida afternoon. Muggy, warm, humid…definitely not a curly to straight hair day. I decided to go natural. The curls were set, no make-up, a tank top with skinny jeans and a decent pair of converse sneaks. I decided to take my sweater knowing that the auditorium was going to be freakin freezin. I knew this, not only because I was a student at the school, but also because this wasn’t my first Author speaking/book signing deal. Besides, everyone knows that Global Warming is caused by the excessive air conditioning units in South Florida. I mean… we crank up the A/C to 69° when it’s hot out and turn the heaters on to 80° when it’s “cold” out. A proper Miamian always has a sweater and umbrella in tow. Anyway, yeah…book signing with Junot Diaz!
Have you ever been? Not to a Junot Diaz event, but any author speaking/signing gig. I have never been to a Barnes and Noble type deal, but I have attended the eagerly anticipated Miami Dade College Book Fair. Last year the stage was blessed with the presence of Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Diaz. Did I mention it was Junot Diaz? I have a word woody whenever I think of the man. Not only is he Dominican (I am too…I mean not really because I wasn’t born there, but my mom was and since I was conceived in her Dominican Womb with Dominican Juices; I believe I have some sense of entitlement and bragging rights), but he’s from New Jersey too! (Ok, I’m from next door NYC but it’s the same thing) I am also a huge fan and I love/admire his writing style! It’s very rare, especially this day in age, where one can find a book that changes the way you view language and the written word. He does this for me.
However, this piece isn’t about Junot and all of his amazingness. It’s actually about the fact that he signed my book. It wasn’t just that he signed my book and I got to have a totally inappropriate, words didn’t flow the way I planned in my head, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was hearing some kind of background noise that wasn’t really in the room, my face was beat red, I was rambling and I may have called him a nerd, my hands were flying about and I was doing that typical talking with your hands thing, It’s a miracle I didn’t smack the man….. OMG! I hope that he totally never remembers that conversation if I ever get to see/hang/talk to him again! Anyway, it was all about his signature.
I kept staring at this on the way home. (No, I was not driving and yes I did stare at my hand too because I have touched published genius hands!!!) I looked at it and looked at it and stared at it some more. Then it hit me. If the combination of our touch created this über Pulitzer synergy; it was only a matter of time before I would be signing books in my jeans and t-shirt. I wondered what my own author signature would look like. I tried a couple of them once I got home and none of them actually looked cool to me.
This got me thinking… have you worked on an autograph? What’s the best way to come up with one? I mean, do you really want something that is elaborate and long winded. Just think if you make it to JK Rowling status, do you really want to sign your entire name over and over and over again. I mean, Diaz has a short squiggly line kind of deal and I love it, but let’s face it. I’m not the artistic type. So, I thought what better way to find my author signature, than to actually do some research. I decided to first look into what the greats have done…
These are a couple of my favorite authors. I started checking out their signatures and for the most part they sign the entire name. They aren’t ridiculously creative. It’s just a name, right?
Have you thought of your author signature? What would yours look like? We want to know! Post a copy of it on Instagram and hashtag #7themag. While there you can check out what our developing signatures look like by following us on Instagram @7themag.
**All pictures of Author signatures (except Junot Diaz) were borrowed from www.purplehousepress.com/sig.htm They have an amazing collection, check out more by visiting their website.**
His Name is Ray. . . Ray Hernandez
Ladies and Gentleman, we would like to formally introduce you to our new addition to the family. His name is Ray Hernandez (I know… I know, overkill) and if you entered the contest last month to win this photo. . .
Then (hopefully) you have already have checked out his FB Page and have since become a fan of his work. If not, check it out now and like his page (he likes that kind of stuff). Check out his bio on our This is Seven page and make him feel welcome. We are glad to have him on board and can’t wait to exploite…uh.. I mean feature his AMAZING work! This months header photo is Torched. See the full photo by clicking here.
Welcome to Seven Ray! WHOO HOO!!! *Enter the band playing ridiculously loud music, streamers, the people with the sticks, fire breathers etc. . . we go all out here at Seven* We are glad to have you a part of our team.
BTW THE WINNER OF LA PLAYA GIVEAWAY IS:
CONGRATULATIONS SANDRA!!!!! YAAAY!!! Thank you for participating!! =)
Benvenuto a Sip of Espresso! Today’s beverage is an original Blend of Dunkin Donuts coffee with a kiss of Baileys French Vanilla delishishness…courtesy of Kitchen Ymelda (it’s my actual kitchen…due to the dooming sequester one has to cautiously spend those hard earned dollars, SOMEONE HAS TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE ijs). We will be exploring a couple of things you were probably thinking about and some that maybe are a little outdated, but come up in conversation nonetheless. What’s your coffee say?
Where do you like to read?
Picture this… it’s a lazy Sunday morning. If you are up north, it’s probably snowing/raining/icicles are probably cascading on your head as you try to find cover and crack open the pages of that new book you received in the mail (WHOO HOO AMAZON!!). If you’re lucky enough to be in South Florida (or unlucky), then it’s probably a sunny breezy day. It’s not warm enough for the beach, but cool enough to finally sit down and read that new Kindle book you bought a couple of weeks ago, while warming up with some hot Green Tea (Namaste). So, where do you like to read? Follow us on Instagram 7themag hashtag us at #7themag or tag us in the photo and let us know all about your favorite place to read. We will re-post our favs on our Instagram account and select one (our staff will take a vote) and publish it in our next issue.
Ok, maybe this isn’t my ideal spot. I would rather be laying out on the beach, with my Kindle, feeling the breeze on my skin and the burn of the sun. HOWEVER…it’s been cold recently (Miami winter averaging about 65-75 degrees, don’t judge me) and I couldn’t make it to the beach, like I had planned, for my very cute self photo shoot. Soooo, my favorite next best place is at home. I love lounging on the couch and facing my balcony. There’s something about the palm trees and the sun that I find relaxing. As soon as I can afford patio furniture (again with these horrific budget cuts) I’ll be moving out onto the balcony and making that the fun place to read/write. I just love LOVE LOVE the outdoors. Don’t you?
Like J.K. Rowling’s boggart, find me in any “dark, enclosed spaces.” My usual haunts tend to be “wardrobes, the gap beneath beds, the cupboard under sinks” among other things. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to places to read…
Ok, seriously, I absolutely love to read and would love to spend more time reading than I do sleeping. But life doesn’t often work out the way we want it to, so I do the next best thing. I read whenever I can, where ever I can. On the couch, bed, floor, toilet, on a train, bus, in the car, in waiting rooms, in the cupboard under the sink… 🙂 The truth is that with my life is pretty hectic and I have to make my spare moments count. So in truth I don’t have a favorite place to read- any place that allows me the opportunity to read is a great place. After all, reading is one of my greatest pleasures.
One of my favorite places to read is at Hawks Cay (a private island) a small community in Duck Key, Florida. I enjoy lounging on the dock by the water, being caressed by the intoxicating ocean breeze, while the sun playfully warms my skin. I enjoy being by the ocean for it’s calming effect on the mind, body and spirit.
There was a time that if you wrote a book and wanted to publish it you had to find an agent. Back in the day, publishing houses would not accept book proposals directly from writers and where then forced to shop for an agent. Once said author found an agent that didn’t reject him, the same game would begin anew with the agent and publishing houses. Not only did this mean twice as many rejections but it also meant less money from the pie being given to the writer.
However, in the past few years, another scene has been playing out called SELF PUBLISHING. A writer writes a book, says what the heck- maybe they don’t want to deal with rejection, maybe they want the biggest piece of the pie available or maybe they know they have what it takes to be successful and want to be successful on their own. All likely possibilities but what is self publishing? Because of websites like Amazon, Smashwords and lulu; authors can publish a book within days of finishing it. Yet, with self publishing everything is left on the writer’s shoulders. Editing, making the cover, deciding on blurbs, advertisement and finding the way to get your book out there and into the reader’s hands. It’s all tough work.
A funny thing has been happening out there in the self publishing world. Successful indie writers, those that are among the highest grossing self published authors are being approached by publishing houses. At the end of the day, when a publisher picks a novel to be published the general idea is to pick the novels they believe will meet the most success. If an author is already a known success, where is the risk for the publishing house to pick up this novel? Not only are times changing where self publishing is a growing trend and a great possibility for authors but publishing houses, like Random House, no longer obligates writers to have an agent. Authors can go directly to them with no middle man.
A lot is changing in the world of the published word. What are your opinions on this? Do you think that self publishing is the way to go? Or do you believe that the traditional way is always the best way? Next issue we will be looking into this: The beauty and logistics of self publishing versus the route of traditional publishing. As always, we are curious about what you think…Let us know. =)
Have you ever heard of wattpad? Recently, I was on the hunt for an online community of writers where I could have my work reviewed by like minds and also to have that extra push that I need to write (where my procrastinators at?). I discovered this site by means of another site (to be reviewed at a later date) and fell in love instantly. Wattpad is a healthy place to post and read everything from stories to poetry. The community is alive with variety and, with what many of us enjoy, free books!!
Upon visiting the site, you will learn that you have to create a user name and password in order to read/share stories. They send you an activation email (provide them with your real email address) and once you respond, you are free to read and post. It took a while for me to get the activation email, so don’t become discouraged if it takes over four hours to get yours. Trust me, it’s worth the wait! You can read other writers work and comment directly to the writer. They have a couple of mainstream writers that post their work on the site as well.
I don’t believe that you can download them, but they do have an app for the Kindle and the iPad. The Kindle app (Android version) allows you to read and comment on what you’ve read. However, you are not able to post directly to the site. The ipad version DOES let you post directly and you can pretty much do what you would normally do from the computer.
If you are looking for a place to share your writing and get some encouragement, this is a good place to start. **enter shameless plug** If your curious about what it’s like or need a friend, look for me on wattpad! For suresies I will be posting on a weekly basis.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. This even occurs every November where writers from around the world abandon everything and everyone they know and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel a month. Sounds difficult? Well, it is. However, it’s a month that will change your writing life for ever. Twice a year they host a crash course in preparation for the November event. April happens to be the first session, or as it’s referred to Camp NaNo Wrimo.
Part of the NaNo organization was also Script Frenzy. Unfortunately, due to budget restraints AND the fact that they are a non-profit organization, they had to cut one of the programs. So, I have been a Wrimo for two years now. The first year, I lost by 38 words. The second year, I gave up half way. This year, I plan on finishing my second novel in November and thought that in the mean time, I will participate in both Camp Sessions.
The new features are that you can set your own person word count and you choose what would you like to write…from a script to a novel. It’s a fun event. If you have some extra dollars collecting dust, send it their way. They are very appreciative and do a lot to keep the love of words around. Also check out their online store. Tons of word inspired swag there.
Hey Tiff, books or e-readers?
I believe e-books are pretty awesome. They are affordable, easy to carry, take up little memory on your device and you can get within seconds from the convenience of your home. Pretty amazing, I know. In truth it is for these reasons that my Kindle library grows so swiftly. However, for me there is just something about a physical book that can’t be beat. I’m a big advocate of investing in an e-reader but at the end of the day, I’d love nothing more that to be able to cuddle up with a paperback.
What do you guys prefer? Leave us a comment below and let us know =)
Each writer has it’s own motivator or person, place or thing that inspires them to pick up a pen (or grab a laptop) and start writing. One of my main inspirational places is the beach. This photo taken by Ray Hernandez symbolizes one of my favorite places in the world to clear my head and reconnect with myself. There’s something about this photo that allows me to hear the waves, feel the sun, and to redirect my fateful step to make luck work in my favor. Ray, generously agreed, to give away a 10×20 copy of this photo. Make sure you visit and like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/RayFineArt and click on this link:A Rafflecopter Giveaway for your chance to win! Good Luck! =)
Do you believe in LUCK or FATE and can either be manipulated?
We manifest our own destiny through the power of our focus, language and physiology; and in doing so we create our own luck and affect the direction of our fate.
The Bible says that man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. That’s what I believe. I may use the words “luck” or even “coincidence,” but I don’t believe in them when it comes to life events. I believe one can do their best to achieve their goals, passions, and desires. However, the part that is out of one’s control, it comes as a result of God breathing in that direction. “Luck” and “fate” is simply defined as the Lord showing favor in one’s life.
I believe in fate. Luck can be manipulated. In luck you succeed through chance. Fate can not be manipulated. It is the outcome of what is meant to be. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. It’s destiny.
Javelis – Florida
(No picture provided)
Such abstract words tagged to a seemly simple concept concerning predetermining the outcome of future event. Fate speaks more towards a definite future where as luck leans more toward chance of possibilities leaving room for inconsistencies. To cut down on inconsistencies and better our “luck”/ possibilities we limit the amount influence of other factors. Thus making our future or “fate” more definite.
There is something to be said about book based films. It’s usually pretty amazing to see something in real life that you’ve only visualized in your mind. There tends to be something surreal and kind of magical about it. Seeing if things are done as you visualized, how the casted characters compare to what you had imagined and overall if the essence of the novel is captured.
In a novel the author has to use so many details to create a visual for the reader- to make it real. So when it comes to a fan of a book watching the film- I think the status quo is to find it lacking. After all, the author has already set the bar and us readers, we have standards. So you read a book you enjoy, find out it’ll be in your local theater soon, you finally find yourself watching it and…. How often are thrilled by it? In an: that was amazing, couldn’t have been better and met/exceeded my expectations kind of way. How often are you disappointed? In an that movie sucked, I should send that screen writer hate mail, the story was so butchered I think I just sat in the wrong theatre kind of way. Usually it’s a gamble and there is rarely a way to tell if you’ll leave feeling satisfied. I will be looking into one of many novel based films and sharing my thoughts on it.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
First off, I LOVED this book. It is amazing and manages to appeal to readers of any age group and has set the bar for dystopian novels. Hearing that a movie was being made for it was truly exciting for me. To be honest I went all third degree stalker on it and was constantly seeking out news releases or details of the progress of the film- like scene locations or character appointments. And at the end of the day, through its good and bad I found this film to be lacking.
My brother, he’s a really big movie buff. He’s the type to go to the movies every weekend and although he’s not at all a Jim Carey fan (I really don’t get it!) he’s the go to guy for honest reviews of movies. Well he beat me to the theater and saw Hunger Games before me. His opinion of this highly advertised and anticipated movie was something along the lines of ‘Eh! I don’t really see why (the movie) it’s a big deal.’ My answer was like ‘What!?!? That’s just because he hasn’t read the book.’ And to my disappointment it was the truth. The movie does not tend to cater to people who have not read the book. A lot in the movie goes unexplained, like the importance of the Katniss’ memorial service for Rue (if we can call it that). Why the song was important and how rebellious that act was. So if you read the Hunger Games you could see, enjoy and understand everything and afterwards are forced to explain to the person who joined you to watch the movie what it all meant- “because apparently making a movie with a little more details is too hard a task”. And yes those are air quotes intended to show words laced with sarcasm.
Then there is the fact of the casting. I followed this thoroughly and for the most part couldn’t really complain as I didn’t know who these actors where to complain about them. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were totally unknown to me but they looked the part so no complaint from me. Then when Lenny Kravitz was casted as Cinna boy did I criticize that. However, it only took the first ten seconds of me seeing him playing the role and I have to say he and Elizabeth Banks were awesome. The casting done by Debra Zane was amazing. In truth seeing the cast was my biggest like in the movie.
The Hunger Games movie found itself in a gray zone for me. I neither loved or hated it. I enjoyed seeing it and loved the cast. Yet I did not love it and found myself with quite a few disappointments. How often does the transition from novel to film leave you satisfied? What transition would you consider to be an epic fail? Are there any transitions your scared to take too close of a look at and want someone else to do it for you? We would love to read your comments.
LOVE is in the heart
PEACE is in the mind
TRUST is in the soul
HUGS are in the arms
Written by: Lauren
April’s question of the month: Should the government dictate what is appropriate to withhold from the people in order to protect the people? Leave your comments below for a chance to be featured in next month’s issue.