20 Years ago Today…


Selena Quintanilla Perez was killed.

And if you think about that, then you realize I was only three at the time of her death. Everything I’ve learned and know about Selena came after her death.

Now I’d bet that most of you have no idea who I’m talking about. And I’m going to tell you why that is. Selena was shot by her fan club president and friend just two weeks before her 24th birthday. She was not a rising star, she was not up and coming…Selena was a superstar within the Latino community. Superstar. She brought tejano music to a more mainstream audience. But after accomplishing just about all she could accomplish, it was decided that she’d crossover into pop music with an English album.

See, Selena was Mexican-American. Just like me. She spoke perfect English and struggled a bit with her Spanish, but she’d always sang in Spanish. So her crossover was more about timing than about ability. She could sing. She could dance. She could perform with the best artists of her time, and she built up an enormous fan base that was ready for her to make the move.

But she never had that opportunity. Her crossover album was released just a couple of months after her death. But I want to tell you what I truly believe would have happened had she been able to continue an already extraordinary career.

You would absolutely know her name. She would have been one of the top selling artists of the 2000s. She would have dozens upon dozens of awards. And she’d have appeared on Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World lists several times.

Oh, and Jennifer Lopez may not exist as we know her. The coincidence is that Jennifer Lopez got her break by portraying Selena in the movie about her life. If there’s no movie, who knows what might have happened. I honestly think Selena would have been the Jennifer Lopez we know today. She would have had her hand in everything.

Selena Quintanilla Perez is a LEGEND within the Latino community and Texas. She was named the top selling Latin artist of the 90s and the overall top Latin artist of the same decade. Her crossover album Dreaming of You debuted at number 1 and topped the Latin Albums chart for nine consecutive months. I imagine that most of you are unfamiliar with her music, so here are her two pop songs that you might just happen to know.

If you’d like to know more about Selena, I encourage you to go here.

If you haven’t seen the movie about her life, you can stream it on YouTube or Amazon for $2.99.

Selena, rest in peace. You’re impacting more people every single day.

Turning to Google is not Research

There are so many writers on Twitter and WordPress and probably just about any social media site who talk about research for their writing. That no writer should cut corners during their research. That research is SO important. That readers will know if they read something that hasn’t been properly researched. And these same writers seem to think that a simple Google search is research. It isn’t.

My genre of choice is crime fiction. Think of all the things that can potentially happen in a crime novel. Physical confrontations. Gunfire. Policing. The list is endless. Let’s just say that just about anything can happen in a crime novel. And obviously one can’t possibly know all of these things off the top of their head. Which means it’s time to research.

Let’s say you want to know what it feels like to be tased. Are you going to find the Wikipedia page and see what it says or are you going to get yourself tased? Easy. Let’s say you want to know what it’s like to be pepper sprayed. Same thing, are you going to do a little Google search or are you going to get pepper sprayed? Another easy choice. But let’s say that you want to know what a particular bodily injury really feels like…maybe a broken arm. No one is going to break their own arm in the name of research, but one could speak with a doctor about the injury rather than read some article online that may or may not be accurate.

See, this can go on and on. You can either conduct actual research or you can play around on Google and label it as such. Just because you call it research doesn’t make it research. And quite frankly, I don’t care which you do. But I think it’s funny how so many writers seem to think they’ve become experts after Google searching something for their writing.

You Part 2 (poem)

You part 2
That smile of yours
Is just not fair
Stuck to the floor
I’d stop and stare

And also your eyes
I’d just get lost in
I’d reach new highs
I’d never been

Can’t forget your height
The size of a kid
But with more might
And simply perfect

Last but not least
Your sarcasm leads the way
I wish I could keep
Everything you say

This is a companion poem to this one. The first is meant to tell a story. This one is meant to tell you about the girl.

We’ve Brought About Change!

Remember just one week ago when I wrote about the new Clean Reader app that basically censors one’s books? If not, you can read that post here. And you’ll want to. Now back to today. The makers of the app have responded to widespread criticism by removing the ability to buy books directly from the app! And why is this a big deal? Because I think every commenter on that post didn’t like what was happening. That these people were buying books and then trying to change the language of said books.

Now I have to be honest here, I have no reason to believe that the makers of the app read my post. Or that anyone of great importance or influence read it. But many authors wrote blog posts and tweeted and made it very known that they didn’t like that the app’s aim was to censor books. And the makers of the app responded to all of those authors because if Margaret Atwood says something, you better listen. BUT I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that we had some teeny tiny role in what’s happened with this new app. Who knows? Maybe one of you told someone about it and they told someone about it and the cycle just kept going or perhaps no one saw it at all.

It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the app is struggling to find an audience and that is good for all authors and just about all readers. Because no one should be buying books and then changing what they say. No one. Give yourself a pat on the back if you’re one of the many who didn’t like the idea of an app censoring books.

On this day in 2014 I published World’s Ten Bestselling Authors Since 2001.

Sharing as you Write

Know what I’m talking about? Let’s say that you’re working on a draft of a piece of writing. Maybe it’s a short story or a book or whatever it may be, and you have a friend or sibling who’s interested in reading it. But that person doesn’t want to wait until everyone can read it, they want it as soon as you get the words on paper. And you don’t see any problem with it because someone is interested in your story. So you send off an email every time you write a new chapter. And your friend keeps encouraging you because your writing is perfect.

Have I done this before? Yes. Have I been the one on the receiving end? Yes. Do I think it helps anyone to do this? No. Let’s face it, your writing isn’t perfect. Your story probably has holes in it because you just rushed to write it and get it to your friend. But there’s no point in doing this. Because your friend is most likely telling you everything you’ve written is great and not providing you with any real feedback. So you just keep writing and writing and you have this idea that it’s SO great, and maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t, You’ll never really know from sharing your work as you write it.

Have you ever had a major writing project and done this? Or maybe you were the friend?

On this day in 2014 I published Novel Writing: How do you name your characters?.


On Writing Sprints

Do you know what these are? Quick explanation. The clock hits 12:30. You start writing and don’t stop until 1:00. Something like that. They’re just another tool that people use to force themselves to write. Which I think is stupid.

I’ve never participated in one of these, but when I used to follow some writers on Twitter I’d always see them on my TL. But I unfollowed those people long ago. Thankfully. Writing sprints remind me a little of NaNo. You know, that month in which people try writing 50,000 words of crap? These are just on a lower level.

I’ve said this more times than I can possibly remember, but I don’t understand why everyone is in such a rush. One guy told me before that he rushed to write and publish his book because he was already in his 70s. Okay. There’s someone with a valid reason, but all these other people have none. Yet they still take part in NaNo every year and probably do these stupid writing sprints every Friday. All while writing a below average book.

What’s your take on writing sprints?

Writing Pet Peeves #7: Lose/Loose

This is another of those mistakes that I’ve only seen since getting on WordPress. During my years in high school and college I never once heard of people mistaking these two words. Never. But the WordPress community has a life of its own and these two words seem to be a major part of it.

I don’t typically see “lose” written in place of “loose.” But I see the other way around ALL the time. And I just want to pull my hair out. I”m really starting to think that everyone on WordPress went to the same school and had the same teacher who never adequately explained some of the mistakes that I see made all the time. Because there are some mistakes that one would expect to be made every so often just as mistakes, but just about every post in this series is a mistake I would not expect to see made over and over again by bloggers who are constantly writing on their blogs. Sure not everyone writes well, but this isn’t about writing well. This is about elementary level mistakes that people seem to be completely unaware of.

I guess I’ll just have to keep “loosing” my mind about it to bring about some change and awareness. Do you ever see these two words used interchangeably?

On this day in 2014 I published Finally Overcoming the Inability to Write.