A Meeting In A Cyber Cafe

    Ruut: Interview and Album Review

ruut_1One of four daughters to classical musician parents, Ruut was born in Finland, and wrote her first song when she learned to play the piano at age 7. Ruut grew up living and traveling in Europe, until moving to the States at age 16.

Her various musical influences (including classical, gospel, jazz, Broadway, songwriters such as Carole King, Paul Simon, Elton John, and Tori Amos) shaped her piano-based story-telling approach to her own artistry.

Q: When did you know music is what you wanted to have in your life?

A: It sort of chose me. I started writing songs when I learned to play the piano at age 7, and I never stopped. But I made the decision to pursue it as a career in my early twenties, when I got offered a record deal.

Q: I see. Well it’s no surprise you were offered one. Your newest album, “Glimpse,” is very powerful. Rich and heartfelt, sometimes you can even sense a bit of pain within the lyrics. What was the inspiration behind it, if you don’t mind me asking?

A: Some big life changes prompted me to dig deeper than I ever had as a songwriter. We had just watched my Mother-in-law lose her battle against cancer, and soon after that I gave birth to my second daughter. I had also been away from the music scene for a few years, so Glimpse was the accumulation of every song I hadn’t written in that time.

Q: So you’ve been through a good bit from last album until now. Would you say you’ve embrace the events, good or bad, that happen in life?

A:Yes, for sure, though I feel like I have to keep relearning this lesson. When shit hits the fan, I don’t exactly say, “Awesome! Can’t wait to feel the pain and write another great song!” but it does seem that the good ones come out of the really dark times. I’ve paid a price for my best songs.

Q: So tell me, how was the journey to now for you? How has it shaped your musical style?

A: I’ve gone through many transformations as an artist in that time, from being signed to a Christian label, making a couple pop and dance albums and finally settling into being the songwriter I am today. I have no regrets in trying my hand in different projects. If anything, I got an education in the music industry. But when I have moments of self-doubt, I listen to Glimpse, my new album, from beginning to end. Its rawness, honesty, and simplicity center me every time and always provide the inspiration for me to move forward. This is something I’ve never been able to say about my own music. And that’s so much more than simply finding my own musical style. It feels like a new beginning.

Q: It’s certainly a amazing start to this new beginning. I have to ask, what, in your opinion, sets you apart from the rest?

A: That’s an excellent question I often ponder myself. It’s impossible not to feel intimidated by the sea of musicians out there – every minute someone writes a new song. So, I try to be great and really push myself to make the songs better. I edit my writing, and practice a lot. Also, the life I’ve lived and where I’ve been all makes me the artist I am, with a unique story and point of view. But, most importantly, I strive to be relevant and timeless as a songwriter, meaning, there will always be a need for songs that inspire, challenge, and unite us. I really believe that when we graduate from just sorting out our own lives to inspiring others, we start to stand out as artists. That’s when we begin to make our mark.

Q: That was beautifully true. Nobody ever knows when that it going to happen, but when it does, you just know. Thank you for that. So to wrap things up, what would be your advice to other singer/songwriters trying to make it?

A: Everyone’s journey is so unique, but I’ve found that the songs that I’ve written from the deepest place are always the ones people resonate with the most.

So I guess my advice would be to be honest, don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and your originality and emotional depth will set you apart from the rest.

Album review:

ruut glimpse

This is my first album review I have written, but I assure you, regardless of what justice or injustice I do the album through my words, you will not be disappointed with Ruut’s newest ‘Glimpse.’ I am a rookie writing for a seeming veteran in the music industry. Such talent I have to the honor to meet. It’s a funny sort of thing. You take a trip with some friends to the local reservoir and you never know who exactly you’re going to meet. Such is the story when the first time I met Ruut. A beautifully sweet woman who has passion burning in her eyes. We exchanged names, as strangers do, then parted ways. I approached her later down the road to see if she would be interested in doing an interview, for at the time an August issue, of Seven and she agreed. The August issue was passed by. She
continued to keep in touch with me despite the let down. Instead of disappointment, she was enthusiastic at the opinion of me personally writing a review for her, so here I am. My first album review on such a spectacular album. I feel honored.

The album, Glimpse, starts with her song aptly titled ‘Glimpse.’ It carries a richness in the harmonies and a tenderness in the vocals. The song evokes a lucidity within the listener that makes you just want to lean back and close your eyes to recall the memories of the times you almost had something good. It is a song with heart, with pain, with passion. Relatable, powerful, it’s the appropriate opener. This one will hook you and drag you along for the ride. At the same time, this is one of the standouts on the album for its lyrics and its tone that the instrumental portion sets. This song encompasses what the rest of the album is about in its own way.

The album continues its very lyrically heavy trend throughout, but Ruut doesn’t sacrifice her ability as a musician during the album. She makes pleasant exchanges between songs, jumping from the dreamscape of “Glimpse” to the popish “Make It Good” then leading it to a gentle piano accompaniment of “Unbeatable.” Another powerhouse of a song. It doesn’t give you the same emotion as in “Glimpse,” but it shows off Ruut’s maturity as an artist. She admits that there are rough patches, there is pain when growing, but even if things seem too hard, stay the course.

With the beautiful richness that comes with this album, it is hard to deny the fact that a mother of two has created this. Although she has had albums in the past, this is the one to put her one the map. This is a stunning, powerful, tear-jerking tale of her time off from music; of her struggles. It was created for her husband, for her children, for her mother-in-law, for those who are unsure of their futures. The motherly lyrics comfort and show through in the most subtle of ways. Ruut has surpassed, in my opinion, many mainstream female artist who are producing music today with her truthfulness, with her rawness, with her punch-in-the-guts lyrics. She touches base on the human condition, both our flaws and our excellencies, in a way that is seen rarely few and between. If you have yet to listen to ‘Glimpse’ then you are sorely missing out, my friend.

For more information about this artist and her latest album, check out http://www.ruutmusic.com

© Seven Magazine

June 2013 Issue

Welcome to another exciting, electrifying, eye-popping, mesmerizing edition of Seven Magazine. It is a pleasure to have you stop by. In order to make this a more gratifying experience for you, we have decided to add a table of contents, if you will, to help you navigate through our issue. The theme for this month is Aliens. From real aliens to the aliens that haunt our daily lives, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.

The Wanderer, a short story written by Coty Poynter, is guaranteed to take you to places you’ve never been or … ummm … maybe places you never really want to go. Stay tuned for a surprise ending that will definitely knock the air out of your lungs.

Scribe Is An Adjective takes a twist when Coty Poynter types the words. In Uncommon Ground, Coty illustrates that stepping out of the norm is a good thing. What do you think? We welcome feedback in all of our sections, why not start here?

American Jabberjay’s explores a drone policy that doesn’t seem well thought out. A recent speech by President Obama seems torn from a young adult dystopian novel. Do you agree with Ymelda Ramirez‘s take on the explanations from the White House ? What implementations of this new alien  device and policy are you comfortable with?

K.S. Pratt delves into the mind of alien expert Albert Rosales and the world of visual poetry in the new edition of The Pen Bleeds. Check out a variety of poetry pieces that will ignite a firestorm of creativity. Is it art? Is it poetry? What’s your take on visual poetry?

Tiffany creates a wonderful ad campaign to invite foreigners to the United States. When I say foreigners, I mean aliens. Why? Why not? Find out more by checking out Please. . . Come In Peace!

Sit back and enjoy Una Colada Porfavor with Ymelda Ramirez as she invites you to Miami and to explore new languages, with a Sip of Espresso…errr I mean una colada.

David Estes? Yup, we got him! Check out An Alien to Publishing With David Estes and find out what Tiffany learned from this amazing Author. Print out the article and use it as a check list. Definitely some good stuff there. =)

And there you have it folks….the June Issue of Seven Magazine. Is there anything you would like to see that we haven’t covered? Suggestions and submissions are always welcome. Find out more by visiting us here. Thanks for stopping by…. see you in July. =)

© 2013 Seven Magazine

An Alien to Publishing With David Estes

Publishing, regardless of whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, is a lot of hard work. While nothing is ever perfect readers tend to expect novels to be as close to it as possible. We expect the novel to have a good story line, no typos, well rounded characters, eye catching cover art is a big plus, and an attention grabbing blurb. The standards readers set for the books they read are pretty high and writers need to work hard to make their novel a masterpiece. I regress, publishing is a crucial part of getting your book into the reader’s hands and one made all the more difficult when self-publishing.

This month Seven has welcomed established indie author David Estes to break down what it means to self-publish. He was very generous in his advice and we have that all here for you. David Estes has self-published since 2011 and has four series (The Dwellers, The Country Saga, The Evolution Trilogy and Nikki Powergloves) a total of 13 books which include Young Adult and Children’s novels under his belt. He is an amazing writer who has made a lifelong fan out of me. 🙂

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of indie authors or self-publishing, the first platform that comes to mind is Amazon. It is a leader as a publishing platform and one of the biggest online retailers. However, for someone looking into selling their books on Amazon, knowing the facts is a must. I think that if I were to look into every reason that this selling giant has been dubbed a monopoly I would be here for weeks. Yet when sticking strictly to the publishing world, it can be spelled out in two words: KDP Select. Kindle Direct Publishing Select is a program where Amazon targets authors looking to publish their novel. In essence it asks for a three month exclusivity contract in exchange for higher royalties and ensures your novel will reach a new audience with the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. When Estes was asked, ‘In your opinion what is the best and worst thing about publishing on Amazon?’ This is what he had to say:

Now that’s a loaded question! But it’s also an easy one. There are a few things that are awesome about Amazon:

First, their reach can’t be beat. They are still in a dominant position in the online (ebook) book-selling market. The vast majority of authors will undoubtedly get the bulk of their sales from Amazon.

Second, if your books are selling and getting good reviews, Amazon will help you. They will recommend your books to readers who enjoy similar ones and they will actually generate sales FOR YOU. This is an amazing thing once it really gets going. It can make or break your book.
Third, it’s really, really easy to publish on Amazon and the royalty rates are awesome if you price your book at $2.99 or above.

However, there are always two sides to every coin. There are some really frustrating things about publishing with Amazon that I’ve recently made very clear to them in a customer satisfaction survey:

First, their KDP Select program is a blatant attempt to monopolize the market, which is totally uncool. They promise nice perks like making your books available in a lending library (which you get paid royalties for) and give you the opportunity to make your book available for free every so often. However, in exchange, you have to SELL YOUR SOUL. OK, I’m being dramatic, but for me, it’s almost that bad. You have to agree to EXCLUSIVELY publish your book on Amazon. Like I said, not cool. It alienates readers who don’t buy their books from Amazon which I’m not down with.

Second, they have very strict pricing compliance rules that have been a royal pain in the butt a few times. They insist that your book must be priced as low or lower than every other retailer out there. I’m all for having my book priced the same everywhere, but it prevents you from doing, say, a Barnes & Noble promotion where you make your book $.99 on B&N for a few days. Uh uh, Amazon won’t allow it. They cry and shake their fists and say you have to include them at the party and make your book $.99 for them too. Of course, they have NO problem with you pricing your book at $.99 for a few days on Amazon but NOT on B&N. Yeah, double standards.

Third, Amazon has really annoying royalty rates for books priced lower than $2.99. It’s all part of their attempt to force Indie authors to price their books at $2.99 or above. The way it works is that if you price at $2.99 or above, you get an incredible 70% royalty rate, but if you price below that, you get a pathetic 30%. That’s frustrating because if I want to do a promotion and drop the price on one of my $2.99 books to say $1.49, although my price has only changed by $1.50, my royalty has gone from $2.09 to a measly $.46. For the most part, I price all my books at $2.99 or above, even if I don’t really want to. Otherwise it’s just not worth my while.

The bottom line, however, is that I can complain about my three big negatives until I’m old and gray and red-faced, but Amazon is still the key to my success. I own a Kindle, I buy tons of books from them, and I will continue to use them as my primary publishing platform.

Estes does an amazing job at breaking down what Amazon is to a publishing author. Now that the truth has been put out there, which is that through their good and bad Amazon is still a boss and a force to be reckoned with, you decide to still publish with them. Again, they are too big in the publishing world to look over. Just be wary of KDP Select. As in STAY AWAY!!! 🙂 But what’s next? When publishing you definitely shouldn’t stop there. That being said, Estes definitely has a criteria for selecting platforms to sell his novels, “My main goal in picking the platforms to publish on is to make my books available to as many potential readers as possible. I don’t like the idea of being exclusive to one platform as it completely ignores the thousands of readers who don’t use that platform and promotes the monopolization of the industry.” His goal is one I think all authors can relate to. He continues on to share with us his publishing strategy:

As a self-published author, I can’t possibly publish on every platform that offers ebooks, it’s just not feasible. Every day there are more and more ebook-selling platforms popping up, each with its own business model. At the end of the day, I’m a writer and I don’t want to spend my every waking moment on the publishing process. Plus, because I publish a book every 2-3 months, I need the process to be as streamlined and efficient as possible.

All that being said, my approach to publishing also needs to ensure I get the highest possible royalties for all my hard work. At the end of the day, this is my career, how I make a living, and choosing the right platforms can have a major impact on my success. There are distribution platforms out there, like Smashwords, that can help a self-published author distribute to a number of other ebook distributors. Through Smashwords “premium distribution” it can distribute to B&N, iBooks, Sony, and Kobo, to name just a few. However, as a fee for their service, they’ll take an extra 15% of your royalty. So not only will B&N take a percentage of each book’s sale price, but Smashwords will too. This can really cut into your royalties in a hurry.

Thus, I highly recommend publishing direct to as many major platforms as you can within your time constraints. Because I sell most of my books on Kindle and Nook, I publish directly to each of those two platforms. Then I use Smashwords’ service to publish almost everywhere else, like iBooks, Kobo, and Sony. However, if you choose to use Smashwords to publish some places, but not others, be sure to “Opt-Out” of distribution to the platforms you’re publishing to directly. Otherwise your book may be listed twice. So I lose a little bit of my royalty by not publishing directly to iBooks or Kobo, but it’s a minimal loss as my sales from those distributors isn’t a significant portion of my overall revenue. For me the trade-off between minor loss of revenue and the time it would take me to publish to iBooks and Kobo myself, is worth what Smashwords takes as the middle man. But if I had more time, I’d definitely consider publishing to a few other platforms directly. Finally, I publish to up and coming Google Books on my own through their Partner Program. It’s incredibly easy and already I’m seeing my sales from Google increasing each and every month.

That covers ebooks, but I also recommend publishing a paperback version in at least one place. That way your readers who don’t have ereaders can still access your books. Personally, I publish my paperbacks through Createspace, which is an Amazon company. That makes all my books available through Amazon as print-on-demand with no upfront cost to me.

The last question I asked of Estes was, “To a writer who doesn’t know their way around the selling platforms what advice would you give?”

There are a few key pieces of advice I would give to writers who are new to navigating the many selling platforms that are out there:

1. Focus on ebooks! That is the place to be, especially for Indie authors. You can offer your books at a better price than big published books and reach a growing market. You’ll also receive MUCH higher royalty rates than by publishing through print.

2. Focus on the biggest platforms because that’s where you’ll get most of your revenue. Amazon and B&N still have a stranglehold on the ebook industry. Although they will both inevitably lose some market share over time, the market is growing rapidly, so the overall pie will be getting bigger too.

3. Be aware of trends in the market. Do your research. For example, Apple and Google have both been pushing resources into their book-selling platforms, which will likely mean growth from them.

4. Take advantage of a worldwide market! Amazon and Barnes & Noble are only available in some countries. Use platforms like Smashwords.com to reach almost EVERY country. I’m selling more and more books in places like Asia, Africa, and Europe through Smashwords.

5. Use the templates provided by the platforms you choose. You absolutely need your book to be formatted nicely for each of your platforms. Otherwise readers will get frustrated with how hard it is to read your books and they won’t come back for the next one or recommend it to others.

When you are new to the publishing world and it is alien to you, there is always someone out there who has done what you are trying to do and is honest, open and giving with their advice. So ask questions. Also, be sure to let us know what part of the publishing process has you stomped and we will tackle it to the best of our and an experienced professional’s ability.

David once again, thank you so much for allowing me the pleasure of working with you and giving aspiring authors all this great advice. As per his words from the guest post listed below, “Read, read, read! Be a reader and a lover of books first.” So readers and writers out there, be sure to check out his novels which can be found on Goodreads and Amazon (and all the selling platforms listed above). To hear more on what Estes has to say about writing, publishing and promoting be sure to click on these sites: Advice For Writers That Are Just Starting by David Estes
Indie Author Advice Series #2 by David Estes

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Una Colada Porfavor!

Out of this world

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.

HorseHead2
Photo Credit: NASA

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!

Coffee
Photo Credit: Seven Magazine

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?

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Uncommon Grounds

I place the final period and smile at the screen in approval. Staring at the new age typewriter I reassure myself, “this one is good,” as I finish the outline for a short story. Written with care and confidence; this is how I write many of my short stories. I’ve created my own formula for writing them, it’s become a secondhand nature. Whether they’ll be good or not is up for debate, but I know how I like to write them. This allows me to share these stories with friends and followers. It’s all about a comfort I have in knowing what works for me when writing.

Now. As for this piece I’m currently writing, that you are now currently reading, not so much. I feel a slight uneasiness about putting words, non-fictitious words, words of advice, into this new age typewriter. It’s unsettling to think that someone may take the things I say to heart and I can’t simply defend my words with “it’s fiction.” This rather scares me a little. It’s a new experience that I’m unfamiliar with. A discomfort zone, if you will. I don’t like it, but I also don’t dislike it.

Photo Credit: Girls
Photo Credit: HBO series Girls

A year ago, I would have fled from the discomfort. I didn’t like the lack of confidence that came with the first times. This scared me away from many opportunities growing up. The dastardly fear of the unknown tormented me. It ruined my words. It was a tiresome battle with myself to overcome my fear. I had to change things, to climb the wall of discomfort and try something new.

It wasn’t until I was asked by SEVEN to submit a short story that I decided to make my move. My climb began with “Charley Parkins.” That was the spark I needed. The key in the ignition. The kick in the…you get my point. As I became more confident, I began sharing more of my work. I founded my writing formula and found comfort in my short stories. I was always willing to share with others my work. I loved the ecstasy of confidence that filled me. I decided then, “I don’t want this feeling to end.”

So here I am, typing unfamiliar words, full of chattering nerves. Doubt floats around in my head, but I write on. You see, writing aside, I’ve learned that there is nothing to be gained by remaining in your comfort zone. Life can’t happen if you stay in bed. The past year I’ve made numerous new friends, found solace in poetry, and even made a big change by moving to Ocean City from Baltimore (about three hours away) after living at home for almost 21 years. These experiences I’ve had with my friends, new and old, have inspired me; giving me new subjects to write about. The reason I don’t dislike the discomfort is for the simple learned fact that new experiences are uncomfortable, but also unforgettable. You must embrace the unknown. Never fear the new. I’ve wasted too much time hiding from that first time fear. It’s a lesson I learned by taking one chance, affecting my person and my writing.

Go out and try something new. Leave your comfort zone behind. Whether it be trying a new restaurant, talking to someone new, or even attempting to write something inspiring and filled with a little bit of advice. Get out of your comfort zone and enter your discomfort zone, for this is the place we can truly grow.

© 2013 Seven Magazine

A Procrastinator’s Improvement Guide

Click on the pic to check out this amazing site!
© 2010 Hyperbole and a Half

As the self proclaimed ‘accomplished’ procrastinator, I know a thing or two about the art of procrastination. Here’s what I have to say: it is amazing. I love wasting all of my valuable time on video games, soap operas and books instead of being productive. There is just a peace that envelopes me when I leave everything for the last minute. Can you blame me? I mean you guys know what I’m talking about right? No? No? Really? Any takers?

Oh, OK. Let me try a new angle. Procrastination is simply something I excel in. I’m great at leaving everything for last minute and then pulling out my hair in frustration for having done it again. You know- the P word. So it’s really not as amazing as I tend to euphamise. But as they say, those that can’t do teach. Yep, we will be trying that saying out for size.

So you there, established procrastinator that is reading this and while you don’t really care to give up this amazing skill I’m here to give you some advice. For the record- yes, I did say skill. It is no easy feat to go against all of your instincts and nagging conscience to be lazy. Well lazy in my case. But I regress. Back to the P word. Procrastination isn’t always great- usually in the last minutes while you’re trying to meet a deadline that you had weeks to fulfill and you only give yourself an hour to complete. So what can you do?

First, it is important to develop precedent. Warn everyone people. ‘I am a procrastinator.’ Well not like that. It’s important to use positive adjectives like amazing, artful, impressive, dedicated… You know words that tend to describe a positive trait. So when you know that this person expects you to meet a deadline or has some form of expectation in time- like, let’s say a date- set precedent. ‘Hey Billy, I feel very strongly about procrastination. I think it’s pretty impressive how people can just leave everything for last minute.’ Yes, you can say that in your most sarcastic voice, but hey you warned him. When your 20 minutes late to your date and he wants an explanation, be sure to tell him that you excel in procrastination. People will come to not expect punctuality from you and you will deal with less guilt and less pressure from expectations.

Next, make a list. Everyday take out five minutes to write down everything that is absolutely important that you get done that day. This is honestly the best and most effective way to deal with procrastination. Keep your list near you all day. Even when you’re too busy lounging on the couch scrolling through iFunny on your phone or on your computer checking out Youtube for nigahiga‘s newest videos, be sure to have your list nearby. A pen or pencil is also a good idea. It will make it easier to revise and add things to your list you forgot in the first go round. Don’t waste your time writing things you know you have no intention of doing. That night when you have exhausted your usual list of time exhausting distractions, your P list will ensure that you don’t forget to go half assed on everything important enough to write down.

What did I say this article was meant to do? Oh, I really don’t think it matters. However, I do hope that this has made you a better procrastinator and that you will soon achieve a master level of it.

Second Cup. . . why yes please.

Not one cup, but a Second Cup

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!

2ndCup
© 2013 Seven Magazine

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?

CotyCoty Poynter:

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.

YmeldaYmelda Ramirez:

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! =)

Water Angel(Signed)_ Raymond Hernandez:

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.

TiffTiffany:

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.


*This months Header photo is Angel Of The Park by Ray Hernandez

© 2013 Seven Magazine