Gone to Hollywood

I don’t even know how I got here, I really don’t. It’s like suddenly catching a glimpse of a dragon on the street- you either stare at it with your mouth open and then tell your friends all about it later, or you snatch hold of it by the tail and see where that sucker goes. I rode, or rather, drove it all the way to Hollywood. It looked like a silver Corolla with a bearded fella eating honey-roasted peanuts in the passenger seat. Dragons can look like anything, really.

Nobody made me stop writing and nothing happened. I mean that nothing happened WHEN I stopped writing just as much as nothing happened TO make me stop. People will tell you that life gets in the way, but I’ll be honest: you just turn into different people. Multiple people, all the time. I was once a bartender who didn’t write, and I was a librarian who did. I was a hipster who wrote sonnets and a math teacher who didn’t. I drove across eight states and didn’t write down a single word of it. I didn’t want to.

I always thought there would be some great longing- if you were born to write you couldn’t last a day without feeling the urge, like missing an old friend. That’s not true, and anybody who tells you that thinks way too highly of themselves. I mean, Netflix is a thing for real and so is Texas barbecue and two-for-one drink specials and indie wrestling and waterfalls. Sometimes you want to write and sometimes you don’t.

The thing about Hollywood is that almost everyone here is forcing themselves to write, all the time. Everybody’s on the grind- they charge you $300 a class to tell you the more you write the better you’ll get. Everyone here is shouting. And when they meet you they say, “So what do you do?” and you’re supposed to say what you’re TRYING to do- trying to act or write or produce or hold a boom mic or whatever. I guess I could get a lot of clout if I said, “Published Author” like some so-and-so. But I enjoy to just say I’m a teacher and watch their wheels spinning while they try to guess how the hell I ended up here.

I don’t even know how I got here, I really don’t. It beats being where I was, and there are a lot of interesting things going on at all hours, so I’m not unhappy here. People always need help with things and they’ll let you join in with little experience- I’ve been pulling lights for improv shows and recording sets and voting at screeners and editing comedy sketches. You can always tag along on somebody else’s dream, especially if your own dream is to stay in the shadows.

Or perhaps I’ll keep playing chameleon for a while, save myself the $300, and find a bigger dream. Who knows.

 

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Dearest

I have been to the beach again, I’m afraid.
I have been to the beach again.
I have been to the nude beach with strangers again
and I haven’t told you until now.

Nor did I tell about the party last week,
you were invited but I didn’t tell.
They asked where you were and I told them that you
were having surgery on your heart.

I’ve been speaking to my exes, too, I’m afraid,
about books that you haven’t read.
I’ve been waking up early and taking the train
to cities that you’ve never been.

I’ve been sitting on park benches thinking of ways
to tell you how I will not change,
all the maddening kicks of resistance to combat
all the ways I feel myself change.

I have never felt guilty, never owed anyone
an explanation, never gave myself up,
never felt such a pull to keep my beaches and trains
as though they were slipping away.

Dearest, I have been to the beach again,
and I haven’t told you until now.
I’ve been keeping my secrets and my safety,
but Dearest, I have told you now.

Radio Interview with The Magic Happens on Blog Talk Radio

I hope everyone had a great Christmas holiday yesterday- I know I did, and am now looking forward to a great new start in 2015!

I had a lovely chat today with blog reader Annette Rochelle Aben on her radio show The Magic Happens, chit-chatting about my book, Candy Pizza, this blog, and my perspective on writing, education, my job as a librarian, kids, my upcoming projects, etc. It was a lot of fun and, since I’ve never been on a radio show before, a check on my bucket list!

If you’ve got some extra time today while you’re relaxing off your Christmas-cookie coma, check out my interview and some of the other cool stuff at The Magic Happens.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/themagichappens/2014/12/26/charlotte-cuevas-and-candy-pizza-on-tell-me-a-story

Thanks to Annette for inviting me onto the show!

Blessings and happy reading,
Char

Year 2: Day 39 – A Peaceful Life

I suppose I could live a peaceful life
to the end of my grateful days;
I see no reason why this world
should cease.

There is nothing in this world
but storybooks and songs
to say anything is missing at all-
but they say it.

And what is missing is something
that I don’t understand
because there is no pain anymore,
there is no pain.

Isn’t that all we’re meant to live for,
isn’t that our happy end?
Isn’t that the bit of sanity
we seek?

Is peace something you gain
or something you fight not to lose;
or is it something else entirely
I can’t see?

Year 2: Day 1 – I’ll Start A Fire

I’ll start a fire in this little place
to match the one in my head
and keep me warm

and when the yearning pounds me out
I’ll let it loose
and set it far.

I’ll start a fire in this huddled town
to search for similar flames
to keep me warm

and when the ashes yield no fruit
I’ll stoke it on,
I’ll force it out.

I’ll spread the fire, I’ll burn down the world
to find through the smoke
a match like the one
in my head.

I’ll burn through the world
to find the arsonists
with the power to keep us warm

and when we’ve set the world ablaze
I’ll burn
all by myself.

 

Don’t forget to check out my first anthology, Candy Pizza: Poetry that’s Fun and Healthy, available on Amazon & Kindle.

52 Flashes of Fiction Week 1: The Trouble With It

The trouble with it seems to me that men always either don’t want to talk to me or they really want to talk to me. But what I really think is that it comes down to me. I’m always the one they do or do not want to talk to, and that’s always the trouble.

I’m somewhat of an introvert, which is true on days when I’m feeling particularly friendly and outgoing. I’m almost never feeling particularly friendly or outgoing, so it’s almost always true that I’m mostly an extreme introvert. The word introvert means almost the same thing as conceited except I really do sometimes feel awful about it. I mostly feel awful about not feeling awful.

Anyways, where men are concerned and where I am concerned is that we can never agree whether I am conceited or not. Men will concede that I am introverted but they will never get on my side about my being conceited. They never think I am conceited because I have a sort-of attractive face and some body parts they wouldn’t mind grabbing, and they think if I was conceited I wouldn’t bother to engage them in conversation about books or praying mantises or that juice that gathers at the top of the ketchup bottle. Also I think they don’t want to ruin their chances of ever getting to grab said body parts by calling me conceited and hurting my feelings. This doesn’t make any sense to me because all of my closest friends that are men and who do not want to grab my parts know full well that I am conceited, and every man I have ever let grab my parts also accepted that fact.

I can tell that I am conceited because it bothers me both when men do not want to talk to me and when they do want to talk to me. It bothers me even more when they do want to talk to me. This is because I have a lot of thoughts. My thoughts are like precious dolls or trinkets that you play with when you’re alone but must be hidden away when other children come over to play. When men do want to talk to me I think they know I have a lot of fun toys as well as grabbing-parts and I think that they must not have a lot of toys of their own and they want to come and roughhouse and break all of mine. If I wasn’t so conceited I think it would probably be easier for me to just share.

When men do not want to talk to me, I think it’s because they assume I have nothing they want to play with, or that their own toys are better. How can they know what kind of toys I have? This hurts my feelings of course because I think I would probably very much want to get along smashingly with someone who was just as conceited as me. But it doesn’t bother me so much because I just end up feeling sad for them because I know what it’s like to be just like me.

The reason I say that the trouble is me is because whether they talk to me or not, I cannot decide whether I really want them to or I really do not want them to. I think I want both and I think that is conceited, although I don’t think anyone else really thinks that. I think in the world of non-conceited people, the world I don’t know anything about, I would probably just be considered conceited because I don’t let anyone grab my parts. But that’s just a matter of flesh and stones; it’s the thoughts that really can break.

If you don’t like this piece, you DEFINITELY won’t like my new book, Candy Pizza: Poetry that’s Fun and Healthy, available on Amazon in print and e-book formats 😉

candy pizza

So You Want To Publish A Book? Part 3: Getting Started With The Self-Publishing Process

Ok, so you’ve figured out that you want to publish for all the right reasons and you’ve determined that self-publishing is probably the best option for you. Wonderful! So umm… where in the world do you start?!

It can seem incredibly daunting at first, when you don’t know what you’re doing. But the cool part is that it’s a learning experience- you basically get to teach yourself. For some people that’s nerve-wracking, but I like knowing that my success/eventual satisfaction is directly related to how much research and work I put into it, as opposed to waiting around for some arbitrary third party to finish proofreading or designing the cover or whatever, while I stand around helplessly hoping things turn out the way I’d like. As a self-admitted control freak, I can’t work that way.

The first thing I did and the first thing you need to do is get on the internet and research, research, research. A simple Google search of the word “self-publishing” will give you loads of useful information, including many of the most popular self-publishing services as well as a slew of blogs and articles with helpful hints and advice.

Don’t be afraid to allow yourself enough time to research. Take notes. Make sure you’re learning enough about the process before you even begin so you can know what to expect and so you can make an informed decision about which route to take. I can’t stress enough how important it is to let the process take as much time as necessary. You’re not gonna walk into a dealership and buy the first car you test drive, and you’re not gonna marry the first person who buys you dinner, so why hurry the process of something as important as publishing your first book?

From the time I first started seriously considering self-publishing to the final, finished product, the whole process took me about 4 months total. Mind you it was for a short collection of poetry, so my processing time was considerably faster than what you might expect for a novel or lengthier work. Still, whatever it is you’re thinking of publishing, don’t rush it. Give yourself more than enough time because believe me, you will hit unexpected snags that will make you crazy if you’re trying to adhere to a rigid schedule. Take your time and learn as much as you can.

While you’re doing your research you’ll be presented with several options for websites that will help guide you through the process: Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace, Nook Press, Blurb, Author House, Xlibris, etc. It’s hard to keep track of them all yet alone muddle through and figure out which one’s the best for you. That’s why it takes some time. I ended up choosing Createspace because it was easiest for me to understand, cheap, gave me a lot of control, and is well-respected among the self-publishing community. But what worked best for me may not be best for you; here are some important things you’ll need to look out for:

1) Cost. Some sites charge an upfront fee and some take a portion of the royalties. Some give you the option of purchasing services from their company professionals, such as cover designers or copy editors. But be aware that self-publishing will always cost you some money. Createspace doesn’t charge an upfront fee, but they do take a percentage of the royalties you earn. (Through a partnership with Amazon you have the option to earn up to 70% of the royalties if you agree to expanded distribution, which means anybody on the internet can sell your book. You still get the royalties from those sales but it makes it a bit harder to control the marketing.) Other than that, the only money I spent was the $12.00 it cost to buy and have two proof copies shipped to me for approval.

2) Ease of use. This is going to be specific to you and a personal preference. Whichever site is easier for you to understand and use, go for that one. Especially since this is your first time publishing, you’re going to want to use a site that lays it all out for you in black and white. Createspace’s format was very user-friendly for me. The ordered steps of the process are checked off as you complete them, and there are additional resources such as community forums and tutorials if you get stuck.

3) Perks. With so many sites out there wanting your business, each of them offers perks to get you to decide to use their services. Every site is different, but for example, Createspace gives authors a significant discount on ordering copies of their book. My list price is $9.99 but I can order as many copies as I want for $2.15 each plus shipping. This is especially useful since I want to fill up a bathtub with copies of my book. (Just kidding!) But if you’re into making the rounds around town on author tours, it’s pretty cheap to order a bunch of copies and then sell them to people at coffee shops. Also they give you the ISBN for free, which some sites make you pay for. And best of all, Createspace has the Amazon/Kindle partnership so it’s super easy to get your book (in printed and e-book format) on a selling platform that’s popular and familiar to customers.

Have I convinced you to go with Createspace yet?! That’s okay, I’m not suggesting it’s the best at everything or the best for everyone. But it is what I used, so if you want to use something else, then great! But I can’t give you any advice about that because I didn’t use it. So stay tuned for So You Want To Publish A Book? Part 4: The Ins And Outs Of Createspace.

And don’t forget to get your hands on a copy of Candy Pizza: Poetry that’s Fun and Healthy now available in paperback from Amazon and Kindle e-book!

candy pizza

 
Blessings and happy reading,
Char