5.29.2012

One Hit Wonder Giveaway

That's it! My book release is less than one week away!!!! (highly annoying multiple exclamation marks to show you how I can't contain myself)

To celebrate I want to give two lucky people e.copies of One Hit Wonder.


Just follow the prompts below for your chance to win. I'll contact you the day after the contest is over to send your brand spanking new e.copy of One Hit Wonder (Don't you love that? E.copy. Aw, the wonders of the digital world)

Meanwhile, you can read an excerpt here.

Good Luck.



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Good Company

Crimson Romance officially launches June 4th and with it 25 titles (Including One Hit Wonder—high fives everyone!) sure to make summer reading nothing short of interesting.
Becoming a Crimson Romance author has not come short of great perks, one of the best is being in such good company.
The ladies in red (the title of our collaborative blog) are a group of well-rounded, sassy, smart, and strong women who write well-rounded, sassy, smart, and strong stories for all tastes.
I've been lucky enough to be able to read ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of some of our wonderful authors:
 Irene Preston's Infamous, 
What happens when a Hollywood socialite falls for a conservative soccer dad?
 
Kristina Knight's What a Texas Girl Wants
Sometimes what happens in Mexico doesn't stay there...


and Peggy Bird's Beginning Again 
A story about starting over in love and life, finding happiness and fulfillment along the way.


While my reading list is continually growing, I've already learned so much from these ladies. One thing that I particularly love to hear about is how their muses have chosen to manifest themselves.

Kristina's love for music and the song 'stays in Mexico' by Toby Keith was the spark that set Kathleen and Jackson's story in motion. At that point, Kristina knew they'd done something very bad on vacation and "the story sprang to life from there."

I, too, find music very inspirational. (e.g. One Hit Wonder.)

But some people live with their characters in their head, so much so that they become split personalities or, as Peggy says "imaginary friends." And they even can influence our own lives as convincing Peggy a BlackBerry is better than an iPhone.

My character, Audrey, has an Iphone. I'm totally bias, but I'd just put this way—Iphone rocks!

Irene always has themes that inspire her. For Infamous it was masks - "it's about knowing what's real and what's not, especially in your own life."

So, as you see, I'm in good company. These ladies (and I mean ALL of them) are so interesting that, maybe, my third book will be about a group of romance authors that go to a writing retreat somewhere unexpected. (Um, this sounds promising.)

I hope you'll have the chance to check out Crimson Romance's titles this summer. I can assure you it'll be quite a ride.

 


5.21.2012

Audrey and John's Falling In love song

While I've always loved the band Lifehouse, it was only yesterday I really paid attention to the lyrics of "Falling In," and my goodness! They are perfect for Audrey and John.

No surprise songs are huge inspirations for writers. Wasn't Stephanie Meyer who dedicate one of her Twilight books to the band Muse? (Muse rocks! btw.)

I honestly can't name one single title (or band) that influenced "One Hit Wonder" but there were many I listened to get in the romance groove, the more "acky breaky" the better.

You can sample some of them in One Hit Wonder's playlist I've created, here.

I've tried to make Audrey and John's love real, even as it swept them off their feet shattering any skepticism or doubt. Still, when something feels so absolute, it tends to cause fear.

The lines below paint the perfect picture of what they felt and I can't get the song out of my mind, neither I want to.


"Falling In" by Lifehouse
As I treat, make a comment below—perhaps sharing your favorite love song? or tweet this blog post (or RT @denysecohen) and you'll be entered for a chance to win the song via Itunes. I'll pick the winner randomly tomorrow around 6p.m eastern and contact you, so I can send "Fallin In" your way.

And don't forget ONE HIT WONDER comes out June 4th at most e-books outlets or you can pre-order it on Amazon.

Cheers,

5.20.2012

Dialogue Nugget Sunday #3

“Matt, have you ever been afraid?” Audrey said, without looking at him.
“How much have you been drinking?” Matt reached for her glass and sniffed the liquid inside it.
“When you started the band. How did you know you were going to get along?”
“Well, I didn’t start the band. John did. I just joined in. I didn’t know if we were going to get along and we didn’t—all the time, he kept us together.”
“Hmm,” Audrey took a sip of her whiskey and pondered. “Weren’t you worried John wasn’t going to reciprocate your…efforts?” Audrey bit her lower lip, wishing she could stuff those words back into her mouth, because Matt’s expression was torn between amusement and incredulity.
There was a moment of silence, long enough for Audrey to knock back her drink and wish to burst in flames.
Matt’s expression turned contemplative, then he said, “I suppose we never know what other people will do, that’s why we can’t worry about it. What we can do is not let fear keep us from living the best life we can.” He paid for the beer the bartender had placed in front of him, then intertwined his long fingers on the bottles, two in each hand. “I can tell you one thing for sure, John is the best person to share your efforts with, because he always does what’s in his power to not let anyone down.”

Available for pre-order on Amazon and everywhere else on June 4th.



5.17.2012

10 Things I've learned about writing a novel

My novel "One Hit Wonder" will hit the ebook world in less than three weeks and I STILL can hardly believe it. I've been trying to tone down my excitement so I can keep my feet on the ground and focus on writing my next book. For me, writing is a craft/art that one can only improve upon doing it and, while "One Hit Wonder" happened organically (and you can read about my motivation here ) , I decided to list the things I've learned in the process of writing it so my next project will, uh, be easier more streamlined. (The word easy don't really mix with me and writing)

1- Writing a novel is not just writing a story - For me, writing a story meant writing what I wanted to tell without thinking too much about it, but to write a novel you have to worry about your readers. Is it engaging? Is it clear? Is there enough conflict?
2- Create a strong vocabulary - The vocabulary we use in our daily lives might be enough to communicate with our colleagues, children, friends, husband (barely), but is it enough to write a 80K-plus-word novel? is it? IS IT? IS IT? (P.S: DO. NOT. rely on Thesaurus only, see #4)
3- Develop a director's eye - I could say that since becoming a writer (can I say I am a writer before my book is actually released?) I have watched movies (and life) with new eyes. But honestly, I have always seen stuff with an aesthetic curiosity that is a few notches above the masses (Oh, goodness I feel like wonder woman) I'm not really special (in that sense, anyways *smile sheepishly*) but I'm a trained visual artist, that gives me special powers. Study the scenes of movies as if you're going to write them down (or have pen and paper and write them down). How the camera moves, the actors expressions, body language, etc. are things that can help you set up your own scenes.
4- Read, read, read - This is a no brainer, right? Most writers have become writers because they love to read. Stephen King says on his memoir, On Writing: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." Who am I to argue with the King? P.S: He also says a writer learns a lot from both good and bad books: with good writing you learn about style, plot developments, and graceful narration; with bad writing you learn not to do the same.
5- Set a schedule/Write everyday - Creating a schedule to write everyday helps you fall into a routine. My dog goes out in the backyard everyday at 5:30 p.m. It's his routine. When it gets close to that time he gets up from his favorite resting place (my husband's leather chair) and no matter what else is going on in the house, he's at the door restless waiting to do what he's supposed to do. If we write everyday at the same time with the same props (cup of coffee and/or shot of tequila) our brain will be conditioned to get to work. (Disclosure: I have no scientific data to back this up, but I'm pretty sure I've read it somewhere, AND it has worked for me.)
6- Don't revise it until you have finished the entire manuscript  - Revising before you finish the story is like being sucked into a black hole of self-doubt and loathing. Don't do that to yourself. The King has also said "first drafts are excrement," don't worry about the mess, don't flush. Keep on going, hold your nose if you have to, but leave clean up for later.
by MarsDorian
7- Action! - This was a huge one for me! I had to demolish everything I thought I knew about storytelling and start from ground zero. Keyword: telling. Readers don't want you to tell them a story, they want you to show them. Forget about "this happened" then "that happened" bullshit, throw the reader in the middle of the battleground. They'll survive.
8- Beware of the power of stories - Chuck Wendig said it better in his book 250 Things You Should Know About Writing: "Outside the air we breathe and the blood in our bodies, the one thing that connects us modern humans today with the shamans and emperors and serfs and alien astronauts of our past is a heritage -- a lineage -- of stories. Stories move the world at the same time they explain our place in it. They help us understand ourselves and those near to us. Never treat a story as a shallow, wan little thing. A good story is as powerful as the bullet fired from an assassin's gun."
9- Don't be in a hurry to publish - Take your time crafting your story to be the best story it can be. Nurture it and cherish it like a little seed, full of life and possibilities. Don't poison it with miracle grow because you can't wait to taste its fruits. They won't taste good.
10 - Have fun - If you're sitting in front of your computer regurgitating word after word because you heard of the 20-something-year-old new author who's just sold his book to a movie studio for a seven-figure price tag and thought: "Heck I can do that." Sorry to break it to you, but your probably can't. While there is a very high degree of luck permeating through some of the stories of "instant success" we hear about, don't judge anyone's talent just because it was (seemingly) recognized overnight. Most likely, they have worked on it for years and years. Can you really slay over something if you're not having fun, if you don't love it? I'm the farthest thing from success, but when I told some of the people I know about my book being picked up by Crimson Romance, I heard countless "OMG. How did it happen? How lucky!" And, while I agree I've been very lucky, I worked very hard for fifteen months, spending so many hours writing, researching, reading, rewriting, that often I had to take ibuprofen to easy the pain on my neck and back. Fortunately, I had so much fun doing it I had to remind (and force) myself to get up and stretch. Could I have done it otherwise? I don't think so.

5.13.2012

Dialogue Nugget Sunday #2

“You know…Matt asked me to go with them.” Megan gave her a witty grin.
“Really? Are you guys…why didn’t you tell me?”
Megan shrugged.

“How? When? It was at John’s party, wasn’t it?”
“We didn’t sleep together that night, so you know,” Megan said.
Audrey giggled at Megan’s newfound self-righteousness.
“We just talked and danced. He is so funny.” Megan’s eyes sparkled. “He asked if I wanted to go to the movies the next day. I said yes. We made out in his car when he dropped me off.”
“Oh, how sweet.”
“It really was.” Megan mused. “It had been a while since I had a proper date. Usually, you sleep with a guy and, if you like him, hope he’ll call the next day. If you don’t, just try to forget it ever happened.”
“You said a mouthful there, sister.” The waitress, bringing the dessert menu, winked at Megan.


Available for pre-order at Amazon and everywhere else June 4th.

Audrey was lucky to meet Megan in L.A. 
Nothing beats girlfriends.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Mother's Day.

5.11.2012

Forsaken Lives

It's so wonderful to be out and about in town, partying for a good cause. I don't know why I don't do it more often. Hmm…I wonder if it's because every free moment I have is to write my new book. Well, yesterday was different.
MIRCI's 52 Windows gala was fantastic. It was lovely to see what the artists did with each of the antique windows donated for the project. You can check some out on their facebook page and mine is below.
I commend MIRCI for giving local artists the chance to show their work, raising money for a great cause, and saving the vintage windows from a landfill.
Forsaken Lives, Mixed Media 33"x33" 2012
I used xerox transfer from a photograph I've taken in Brazil in 2002, a short story I've written around the same time, and acrylic painting to create my window.

Here's the unabridged—and edited (Imagine my fluency in English ten years ago, not good) version of Forsaken Lives (originally named Forgotten lives)

Dear Joana,
It has been many years since you left for the city looking for hope. I still remember when you used to tell me what you would do and how your life would be. And you did it. I want you to know I am very proud of you, my friend.
Here everything is the same, life in our arid area has never been easy; lately, it has been unbearable. Even for us, who have lived here since birth, each day is a test of fortitude and faith. I think these are the only things that keep us going. I pray God will have mercy, and I ask HIM why life has to be like this. Then, I stop, not wanting to be punished for my lack of conviction; but deep in my heart, I still hope to find an answer.
As you know, in this part of the country there are no seasons: only drought or rain. This year the drought has been harder than usual. It is depressing to look at the fields and see the soil cracking. You can’t see a green leaf anywhere, if any at all.
Sebastião, my husband, doesn't know what to do anymore. It hurts me to see so much anguish in his eyes, those for sure are not the eyes I met years ago. They used to have joy and hope, even dreams. He has always liked the life in the country and used to talk with joy about growing our own food and taking care of the soil.
He used to say, “Someday I will have my own land, and it will have a lot of banana trees.” It’s his favorite fruit. With time, he talked about it less often. Today, not a word.
When his parents died, they left us the house we live in today. It has a small backyard where we've tried to grow banana trees, but they died every year because of the drought. Sebastião used to replant them every time it started raining again. It has been two years since he has done that. It worries me.
Everyday he goes out looking for food; sometimes he comes back with nothing. When he brings back lizards the children get all excited and even want to help me with dinner. He will only have work when it starts raining again; so, we get excited about the lizards, too. Especially, because the sun still rises every morning brighter than the day before burning our skin and breaking our hearts.
 I wonder how many people in the world have to go through this? How many parents watch day after day their children faces getting skinnier and their little bodies emaciated? Sometimes, I think Brazil is a forsaken country. But then someone tells me about the politicians, soccer, and Carnival, I realize Brazil is not forsaken: we are. The government sends us a basket of food once a month, but they never send enough for everybody. We share the food among the village and it is over in a couple of weeks. And we have to spend the rest of the month praying and hunting lizards.

At the end of the day, I cook beans. The jug is almost empty and we still have two more months before the rainy season. Sebastião and I don't eat at every meal, we watch the kids eat and we feel relieved but worried about the next day. Our children are nine and six years old, they have never been to a school. It's too far from here. Besides, they have to help us in the fields because if we do not work hard while is raining, we will not have enough food or money to make it through the drought.
 I still want them to go to school someday, I wish they could have a better life—perhaps become teachers like I wanted to be. Then again, I had to help my parents, too, then my husband, and now I have to take care of my children. Being a woman never helped any. You know that, too, don’t you? My father always said: “You’re not leaving this house until you are married.” He always thought  women had to be under the supervision of their parents or their husbands.
 When you left, I was thirteen. You've told me when you arrive in the city, you would start studying again and work as a live-in maid. When you graduated, you would become a teacher and someday have your own home. My father never let me read the letters you wrote me. He tore them up and told me to forget you.
“If you ever think about doing something like that, I swear to God I will beat you to death.” He had hit me before and hearing him say it with so much anger stifled any thoughts I had about leaving.
When he died, I found one of your letters opened in his trunk. Maybe he had forgotten to throw it away, or perhaps he found himself not so sure anymore about having kept me here. The letter I found was the one you wrote me when you started your first job as a teacher.
I am sorry I read it almost ten years later.
My children always ask me things about the cities, the sea, and other things they hear other kids talking about in the fields. I make up stories to explain those things, telling them someday they will see everything for themselves because the rain will come every year and we will have money to go visit the city.
 “I don’t want them to dream about things we will never have.” Sebastião always interrupts me and sends them to bed.
  Maybe next year, if the rain comes early and the harvest is good, our dreams will start becoming true and my children can start school. To be honest, I fear that day. They will discover new things, learn new things, and they will be upset about our life. They still don’t know not everyone eat lizards.

God bless,
Maria



5.07.2012

One Hit Wonder's Playlist

Only 27 more days to the release of "One Hit Wonder!"  Yippee!

As you may have guessed, music plays a part in the book.

John is the guitarist of the band and the one who composes most of their songs; essentially, it's his band. But he doesn't care for titles or recognition, he only cares about doing what he loves.

Here's ten random songs from his playlist, I hope you'll enjoy them.

Leave a comment if you have a special attachment to any of these songs or to share your own favorites.
It's always interesting to learn what other people are listening to.

Cheers.


MusicPlaylistView Profile
Create a playlist at MixPod.com

5.06.2012

Dialogue Nugget Sunday

“Los Angeles will dismiss you as quickly as you do the poor girls you trick into sleeping with you.”
“God, I’ve missed you.”
“Seriously Kevin, get a grip, will you? Who do you think you are, Mick Jagger?”
“I could be.”
“Remember your career has just started. You have one CD, a couple hits, and a drinking problem. Hardly enough for one hour of True Hollywood Stories.”



Thanks for stopping by and come back for more as I continue the countdown for One Hit Wonder's release on June 4th.

Happy Sunday!

5.05.2012

Audrey's "pudim"

As I keep my month-long countdown to the release day of "One Hit Wonder", I thought it would be fun to share some fun-facts about my characters, and no better person to start than Audrey.

Audrey's mother is Brazilian (and so am I, what a coincidence!)

She has been to Brazil countless times while growing up and she loves Brazilian food, especially "farofa" (coarse yucca flour seasoned with bacon and herbs) and "pudim" (Brazilian version of flan)

Pudim is super easy to make and if you like custard, you must try it.

What you'll need:
-3 eggs
-1 can of condensed milk
-1 can of milk
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1 cup of sugar
-1/4 cup of water



  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt the sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar becomes a golden brown syrup after about 10 minutes, add a 1/4 cup of water and mix until blended. (careful because it'll produce a lot of steam when you pour the water into the syrup.) Pour it  into a round baking dish, swirling so that the syrup coats all sides of the dish. Set aside to cool. 
  3. Place the eggs, the condensed milk, milk, and vanilla extract into a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well combined. Gently pour egg mixture into the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. (Audrey knows a neat little trick to avoid the egg mixture from blending with the syrup: place a spoon just above the syrup line and pour the egg mixture over the spoon).
  4.  Place baking dish inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. The center of the pudim  will still be soft. Allow pudim to cool before unmolding onto a plate. Refrigerate before serving. 
 Although Audrey had been busy trying to protect her relationship and find her own professional success in L.A., she made time to prepare this easy recipe that brought back so many sweet memories from her childhood.







 

5.04.2012

30-DAY COUNTDOWN

Yes! Yes! Yes!
My book's release it's only one ( 1, um, uno) month away. I can hardly believe it! I feel more nervous than when I gave birth to my child. Giving birth to a book is so much harder! For one, it took way more than nine months to bake this bun. Two, I didn't care what anyone thought of my son. I knew he was perfect and nothing in the world could change the immensity of my love for him. Well, now a book…

As a visual artist, I should be used of having my work scrutinized. But I'm not. I don't think any artist really becomes used to that; at least, not artists that are compelled to create out of sheer love for an idea. For these artists, their work is a product of love as much as a child.

I've always been a story teller and this book is a product of lots of love and twice hard work. It all started with a dream (as many other stories do), the following morning I sat down to write it, two days later I had 20000 words.

From there, I thought the story could become a novel, and that was the moment the twice-hard-work began. Let me tell you, writing a book is not a serendipitous process (for most writers, I can assure you.)  The amount of research that goes into every aspect of the process: style, setting, structure, pacing, etc, is ginormous.

Do you think I worried about P.O.V (point of view) before? Heck, I didn't even know what was P.O.V.

But I believed the story of this girl, who is so similar to all of us (male and female) in the way that she feels lost and drained of dreams and will; exhausted and trapped by demands of society; and stumbling through her own life, was a story worth telling. Because I believe we often feel lost and trapped and, deep in my bones,  I believe it's okay to feel that way, as long as we don't lose sight of who we are.

And if you don't know who you are yet, then take the journey (as my character did) to find out, maybe you'll even come across a few surprises along the way. Such as someone who can see through you, within you, and will love you for the person you are without asking a thing in return.

Writing "One Hit Wonder" was a journey I didn't anticipate, but I feel there is no turning back. It's like I've been taken in to become a pupil of this powerful master: language, and everything I'll do in my path of learning will be not to let my master down. I hope I'll be strong enough!

I'll leave you today, the first day of my countdown, with the book trailer I've created for "One Hit Wonder," and I thank you for being here. I feel so privileged to be able to share my work of love with you.

video





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