Friday, June 29, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 28

What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants?

This experience has been awesome! I'll stay tuned for the next challenge in December, I'm sure to participate.

The momentum will spill more into my writing, since I've been neglecting that area. Now I have more tools and I know I can write everyday and my life doesn't have to end because of it! In the time off from the challenge I want to go back and read the posts from other authors, especially the Aussies that posted earlier than we did (I was usually one of the last ones to post every day).

I also joined a spin-off group "Indie Authors Critiques", where I want to get to know more authors and read their books. For that purpose I just created a new blog "Ellie's Book Reviews" in which I plan to add not only reviews, but also interviews.

I'm sure I'll be making a lot of new friends!

Thanks for Everything!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 27

What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

This challenge has been one of the best things I've done! My page views went from 1,300+ views/month to 3,725 views/month as of this post.....the increase is HUGE!!! But that's not the best part of this experience, meeting so many authors and reading their blogs has been invaluable!

Some time ago I joined another challenge called 40 Days of Writing, it was not as structured so after the third day my writing consisted on text and chat messages! These are things I liked about the Author Blog Challenge:

  1. The Prompts!! It was easy having a guide I could use as a topic everyday, coming up with new subjects would have been very difficult to keep up for 28 days. 
  2. The Facebook Page. Adding my posts on Facebook gave me a sense of accountability and a way to have a check mark on each day.
  3. The Authors. Everyone has been very friendly, encouraging and informative.
  4. The Flexibility.  Even though after day 20th or so, it was not easy to write the posts since they focused more on published authors; it was good to have the option to write my own topics.
  5. The Length. One month was a good time frame to make this a real challenge!
As for improvements for the next challenge, the only thing I can think of is recruiting volunteers to help out with some tasks. I can't even imagine how much work Laura Orsini and Marcie Brock put in this challenge, but I am totally grateful they did!!


Author Blog Challenge - Day 26

What is/will be the subject of your next book?

My first fiction draft will remain a draft for now. My next project is a non-fiction book on how to do e-book formatting as a business. My goal for the book is that it should be useful for writers who can't hire an e-book formatting services, as well as for people who want to do it for extra cash or to become self-employed.

I'm on Chapter Three, I haven't worked on it because I wanted to get more experience and more clients under my belt. Now I have too much information and not sure what to do with it. My goal is to have the book published by the time the next blog challenge comes along!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 25

Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

I'd like to Thank the Academy and everyone who voted for me....I just had to say that!

I do have lots of friends that have helped me by bugging me to work on my book, my sister who has helped me notice huge plot holes and Mark O'Bannon, the guy who gave me the initial push to start writing and blogging. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't have met Mark if it wasn't for my friend Ryan who introduced me to him several years ago.

And I met Ryan after the coffee shop Lestat's was introduced to me by my ex-boyfriend Tito (not a Jackson). And I have to thank for helping me find Tito, he was one of my best relationships. Of course I'd like to thank my friend Francisco for telling me about Craigslist and last but not least, Thank You to Al Gore for creating the Internet!

How to Eat Cactus Fruit (Tunas)

Hey There:

The season for cactus fruits (tunas) is in full swing, in a previous post I showed one way of How to Cook Nopales, this time it's all about its sweet fruit.

They do look yummy, don't they? You can find them at Mexican grocery stores in the fresh produce section. They are sold already cleaned of the little thorns, they still need to be handled with care since some of the little thorns are almost invisible, but you'll feel them. This is how they look when you buy them:

The skin is very thick and needs to be peeled off to get to the juicy pulp. The way to do it is by cutting off both ends of the fruit and make a slit across the skin.

The skin peels off very smoothly from the pulp.

And now all you do is enjoy! This fruit can be an acquired taste, the flavor is sweet and very juicy, I prefer to chill them before eating. This is one of the few fruits I don't add chile, salt and lemon to it. The weird part about the tunas is the texture, since its full of seeds you can't chew, just swallow them.

My local produce store sells them already peeled! I can almost eat all of these at one sitting, they're so good! In this picture you can notice the seeds.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 24

If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

My main resource is an alarm clock!

I've always been organized, not being able to start my day without a to-do list, I even schedule my fun time! For the most part I do follow my list, the main problem is that I add too many things to it. And even though I love technology and at least 16 hours a day I have an electronic gadget in my hand, my lists are always made with pen and paper.....just love the feeling of crossing off things and when all is done tearing out the page.

In order to treat my book as a business, I schedule the time to write, have reminders about what I need to tweet, post or update in my social medias sites. With that said, why is the alarm clock so important? Because if I was left to my own schedule I would wake up at 1 PM, read until 3 PM, go out and do something fun just because and maybe start work by 9 PM at the coffee shop. Not a good way to be self-employed.

Now that I follow office hours, I'm more productive and focused, and things are moving along very nicely. I can still improve things by automating some posts, being more proactive when it comes to promotion and marketing my skills.

As I was browsing to find appropriate images to add to this post, I came across these from Nate's Cartoons, the cartoons are very witty, I'll be checking his blog a lot!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 23

If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film.

First thing would be to congratulate myself for signing that contract (who needs a soul anyway). Then I would demand Amy Heckerling (writer and director of Clueless, Look Who's Talking, Loser and many others). I admire the way she creates light-hearted movies with a serious theme underneath them and how she converted Jane Austen's Emma into Clueless was just perfect! So I would totally let her write the script based on my book.

There are no stars I can think off that could fill the roles of my characters, so I will want new actors who will do a brilliant job and later on when they win the Oscar talk about their first big break (my movie!)

So what would Roger Ebert say? I read several of his reviews (including the one he made for Clueless) to catch his review style, but in my mind, after watching my movie he would be speechless and just write:

Author Blog Challenge - Day 22

Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.

This blog post has been mercifully saved thanks to the host of this Blog Challenge Laura Orsini. When I thought about book signings, especially for a new author, all I could think were the horror stories from lonely book signings and I couldn't help but think I was doomed to the same fate!

I shudder to think about being looked at with pity from people avoiding eye contact and the aisle where my book signing desk would be. Now the vision of being alone (apart from my family and unemployed friends with time on their hands) at a book signing has been turned into a celebration of my book!

Something I never even thought about was having a Virtual Launch, many ideas are now in my head because of the blog post "A virtual event allows you to invite the world to your book launch" (click here for blog post). Laura Orsini describes step by step how to prepare for a virtual book launch, how to get people interested and what to do during the event. It's great information and I already have that post as a favorite....when it comes time I will certainly use her expertise.

Now my imagination is running wild with the possibilities and dare I book will become a Twitter Trending Topic!

Thanks Laura, this Blog Challenge is the Best!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 21

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?

When I was writing my fiction book, I had a consultation with Cathy Yardley, author of "Will Write for Shoes" and many other books. She knows a lot about structure and can pin-point exactly what you need to do to make your story better. Check her website Rock Your Writing to look at the services she offers.

When I had my consultation with her I had doubts about the genre. My writing style is more suited to chick lit but back then that genre was suffering from a backlash. I knew I couldn't write romance, so I was thinking of changing the style to women's fiction. 

During our consultation, after Cathy read a chapter summary and a sample of my story, she couldn't understand why a woman would stay in a marriage if the husband cheated. When I explained it was a cultural thing since my main character is Mexican-American with very strong ties to her Mexican culture and in a way "that's the way it is" (not 100%, of course, especially nowadays) and I mentioned several scenes where that custom was discussed between several characters, I could almost see her light up (the consultation was by phone). She told me to focus on the cultural aspect of my story and if I wanted to change the story to be more consistent with women's fiction, I had to give it my all when it came to the emotional conflicts: "Don't pull any punches!"

Her advice gave me new confidence, I have the notes from that consultation and when I get back to re-writing the story, I have a better idea as to how to make it better and I know who I want as my editor!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 20

How are you using social media to promote your book? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps?

Last week I read an article on Wired magazine regarding Klout "What Your Klout Score Really Means" (click here for article). 

I joined some time last year, back then I was at 200+ followers and a Klout score of 23. Now I have 800+ followers (I'm not very aggressive when it comes to getting followers), and though my Klout has increased I keep fluctuating between 27 - 30...which is dismal if I want to consider myself social media savvy! As the article mentions, if I wanted to get a job in social media I wouldn't even be considered.

Even though Klout can be linked to all different type of accounts like Facebook, Wordpress, Blogger, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. I know my best bet to increase my Klout will be to get better with my Tweeps. 

If I want to increase my score the next step is to use to add scheduled tweets. I also need to get on Twitter once or twice an hour to either tweet, re-tweet, reply and interact. It will take some getting used to since currently I may go days without looking at my Twitter feed...just thinking about it seems like an exhausting rat race but the rewards will be more Klout and Klout Perks are very cool too! 

My goal? Klout score of 40 by the end of summer!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 19

What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

No matter how big or small one is when it comes to the world of publishing, the three most important things to grow one's platform is to Network, Network, Network!

My favorite way of networking is online, mainly through Twitter (@EllieMendz), I have a better chance to be witty and chatty. So far I've met so many fascinating people and amazing indie writers. And for people not used to Twitter it's not enough to have an account and post quotes, in order to get the real feel for it, you interact by re-tweeting, replying and posting as much as you can. It can be a great tool if you know how to use it.

The other way I network is through, instead of belonging to writer's groups I prefer to join groups where I will meet all kinds of people - most likely writers will be there too! In person I'm a bit awkward, especially when it comes to a room full of strangers! Even though it takes me many Meetups before I develop friendships, these tend to be very interesting.

Finally, I blog therefore I am. While it may take me months to complete one chapter, I'm constantly thinking about what to post on my blog and about new ones I want to start. And talking about new ones, I plan to start one dedicated to indie writer's book reviews, I'm very excited about it. Because of this, when friends want to introduce me as a writer I make the correction and say I'm a blogger.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 18 (Guest Writer)

Once again, instead of the daily prompt I bring you a guest blog post by Virgil Moore, author of Demon Vampire. I just started reading his book and I can tell it's not a story to be read quickly, it's the type in which you need to take your time and enjoy it. This post gives some advice on how to deal with criticism:

My most memorable experience is easy to surmise, yet unrelenting to me while being a writer.


Two four letter words thrown together with an extra added just to ruin your day.

This has been both a hard and pleasurable task to handle in my little time as a published author. I know that with anything that is written, there will always be dissenting opinions. However, my affluent irritation towards unconstructive views has always been ironclad and overflowing with more primal instincts than I will admit.

For this reason, I have come up with three solutions for bad criticism.

The first is to learn from it. Analyze all of the talking points that are constructive and take them to heart. If one person saw a flaw in your writing, other might as well, and that's something that should be addressed.

 If there are no constructive perspectives given, behead the fucker. That's right. If they are voicing a negative opinion just to be mean, call them out on it. Respond to their name calling by asking them to define exactly what they found amiss in your novel. Force them to be detailed instead of being childish like their previous commentary was. Others that read this will see that you want to grow in your writing, but won't take vague shit that any word monkey might sling. Don't be cruel in your retort, just express that you would like a greater perspective on their view of your work so that it might further your career and help your future readers. As far as verbally gutting the bastard, you can leave that glimmer of anger where it belongs, the small twitch in the corner of your left eye.
The third option if there is no way to provoke a detailed and productive iota of thought from your critic, is to ignore it. You won't be able to please everyone and childish exchanges read over and over again by future readers of your little tiff will be turned off to learning more about your overall work. There is such thing as bad press, it's when your writing platform is bent out of shape by one or two heated comments you decided to pop in response to a bad review. Don't let it touch you. That's right, if you don't propogate it, it won't spread easily to the bulk of your readership. More over, your true fans will be galvanized by it and believe in you even more. Some of them will be just as pissed as you were after hearing about it and talk about your book in a good light more so.

Of course you will let the message get to you. You were the one that is affected the most. The good news is that through ignoring a childish review, you can focus on what actually matters, your writing.

Virgil Allen Moore

Author Blog Challenge - Day 17 (Guest Writer)

For today's blog post, instead of the daily prompt I asked a Virgil Moore, author of Demon Vampire to be a guest writer and I'm very glad to post the first of them. I just started reading Demon Vampire, and so far I think it's great, very reminiscent to Anne Rice's earlier work. OK, so here is Virgil's post:

Of all the things that might have developed from writing a book, I never imagined that I'd break my keyboard in doing so.

When I was young, I used to write poetry. Lovie-dovie whims of a reclusive teenager scrawled into a notepad with a certain inner satisfaction for it all. The length of which was no more than twenty lines a pop.
Transitioning into stories took a good decade. I always found it too hard to write for long periods of time due to my hands getting tired from gripping the pencil too hard. - A bad incident with a kitchen stove when I was eight. My first laptop changed all that. Within six months I had written fifty thousand words. The flow came to me after I realized that all that had been holding me back was the limitations of my fingers. It's from there that things became different. A grotesque urge to write filled my being, and the words poured as liquid iron from my mind, cast into beauty before my eyes.
The next year saw the creation of my first published novel, Demon Vampire. A story that had originally been slatted for about 120,000 words. - That goal however was a damning one.
Six months came to pass and I was well over my mark. I was less than halfway through with the plot and more words kept flowing. I found it hard to limit my output. I've heard well of writers having difficulty continuing their novels, but I had come to let my story walk itself instead. This is how I broke my keyboard in this process.

1.7 million keystrokes was the magic number at the time that two of the keys fell off. The right shift key and the enter tab popped off half way. I found it morbidly funny that I killed my keyboard by repetitively pressing and lifting my fingers against it. Exactly what it was designed to have done to it.

242,000+ words rounded out Demon Vampire. It was entirely due to my character dialogue. All of them had a lot to say. Other authors might force plot on their novels, pushing and bending the characters to fit a scenario. I do the opposite. I create my characters in a way that lets them react to a situation I provide. In that way, I only instigate a scene and let my creations play it out. In that it would be fair to say that I let my masterpiece runaway with itself a bit. Through that choice, my actions killed my keyboard and landed my writing permanently in the epic category. 

Virgil Allen Moore!/demongift/!/Demon_Vampire!/Virgil_A_Moore

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 16

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, or both? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing and distribution? How did you select them?

Since I haven't published a book I can at least give my perspective as a reader and my buying habits. More and more I purchase only eBooks, I bought a Sony eReader two years ago and I love it. The problem has been the lack of books on the Sony store, what I mean is that even though they have a good selection, most of the indie writers I meet only offer their books on Amazon.

For some time I did buy books from Amazon and they went to the Cloud Reader on my laptop, but reading from my computer is not the same. Eventually I gave in and bought a Kindle Touch, so now I won't miss all the book deals and will be able to support indie writers!

I haven't bought a physical book in some time (other than graphic novels), but according to one of my clients, her digital sales nearly doubled once she introduced her book in print. Our theory is that the book comes up in the regular Amazon book store and when a potential client clicks on it for more details, they see a digital book at a lower price and decide to buy that instead. Either way, she's happy she added the printed version.

As for books on author's websites, I would purchase their book if I was directed to a distributor store, such as or if they accepted Paypal. I would be wary of entering my information into an unknown website.

While I have less books on my bookshelf, my eReader hard drive is filling up with books! Keep them coming!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 15

Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits. 

For this question, I decided to interview myself. I read quite a bit, last year I started making a list of all the books I've read, these are my stats:

Total: 102 books
Type: Fiction 92, non-fiction 10
Format: Audiobook 74 - eBook 9 - Book 10 - Graphic Novel 9

Total: 75 books and counting
Type: Fiction 71, non-fiction 4
Format: Audiobook 29 - eBook 21 - Book 2 - Graphic Novel 23

How many books do you buy per month? Before getting a Kindle, I didn't buy too many books because of space concerns, while I still get most of my books from the public library, my purchasing habits have increased to about 3 books per month.
How many do you actually read? I only buy a book that I will read immediately, but I do have a small backlog of 5 books on my to-read list. I have a book next to my bed, refuse to leave home without my eReader, have an MP3 player dedicated only for audio books and sometimes I'll have an audio book in my car.
What do you read? While I prefer mysteries, thrillers and historical fiction, I will give any author a try and will  make it a point to post a review. If I don't like a book I will stop reading it, but I won't add a review, since I didn't finish the book, how could I judge it?
Where do you buy their books? Amazon, my local comic book store and I'm at the library at least twice a week. If there's a book I adore, I buy it from one of my local book stores
Who is your favorite author? Too many to mention, but right now I am obsessed with George R.R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and I wish he could write faster, even though I'm pacing myself (halfway on Book 3) I know I will finish them this year and then I will be in the bitter wait like the rest of the fans.
What do you like about the author? The depth of his characters, the amazing plots and his genius mind!
How often do you attend signings/readings? What do they enjoy about them? I haven't, other than an autograph signing at Comic-Con - I got one from Neil Gaiman!
If you could ask your favorite author any question, what would it be? "Could you write faster?"
Which book has most recently surprised or delighted you? It's one that I'm reading currently called Sign of the Times by Susan Buchanan. I'm enjoying it so much! I get hooked like this only with Marian Keyes or Maeve Binchy's books, I wish I had more time to read!
Of everything you’ve read so far this year, what would they most recommend? Game of Thrones...join us, 'cause Winter is coming...oh yeah...Support Indie Writers!!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 14

For today's blog post I decided to skip the prompt question and write something different:

It used to be that self-published authors had to spend thousands of dollars to print hundreds of books that would arrive at their homes all at once and then they would have to figure out how to sell them. Today self-published authors have more options to sell a book, now the headache-producing problem is how to promote it.

A book can be sold as a digital item or as a Print-on-Demand (POD) book from sites such as, Lulu, CreateSpace and Lightning Source. The concept is that a book will be printed only when a copy is sold, thus thousands of dollars for inventory are not required. The POD company takes its cut from the price of the book and the rest goes to the author.

There are so many topics about POD books, site comparisons, the initial costs for the author, cost-benefit analysis, tips to avoid expensive mistakes, etc. In this post I just want to show you how a POD book looks, I bought a book from three popular sites and in the video below you will be able to see the books I'm mentioning here:

Book: Running and Dancing
Author: Carol Fenner
Site: CreateSpace via Amazon
Format: 5 x 8, Paperback, white paper
Size: 423 pages
Notes: While the book is sturdy with a strong bonding, the cover tends to curl up a bit. You'll be able to see that on the video.

Book: Cog Stone Dreams
Author: Diane Schochet
Site: Lightning Source via Barnes & Noble
Format: 5 x 8, Paperback, cream paper
Size: 501 pages
Notes: Same as above, except the cover remains straight.

Book: I Am An Island
Author: Jonathan Culver
Site: Lulu via author's site
Format: 6 x 9, Paperback, cream paper
Size: 227 pages
Notes: Strong bonding and sturdy book. This book is full of experimental writing styles and while the page layouts may look unusual, it's exactly how the author wanted it to look.

Book: Windows to Adventure
Author: Claudia Alexander
Site: CreateSpace proofs
Format: 8 x 10, Paperback, white paper, color illustrations
Size: 40 - 50 pages
Notes: Windows to Adventure will be a series of 12 Children's books with an emphasis on science, this is still a work in process but stay tuned for their publication! You will see how color and black & white illustrations look. While these proofs are from CreateSpace I did not notice any curling on the book covers.

Additional notes:

  • In all cases I got the books within 5 - 8 business days, since I choose standard shipping the transit time took the longest; the printing itself was done within 1 - 3 business days.
  • The book covers for all books, except "I Am An Island", where made by Graphicz X Design.
  • While I worked on the layout for all books, except "I Am An Island", you will see my work only on the Windows to Adventure books. The layout I made for Running and Dancing, and Cog Stone Dreams have not been uploaded to the POD sites yet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 13

What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

My book is safe as a draft, gathering virtual dust, now comes the hard part....the re-write!

One of the reasons/excuses I have is that the story will need major re-write since I decided to change the structure of the story, the main plot stays the same but the characters and chapter flow needs to be re-directed.

I need to hire help if this book is to be as great as I want it to be. I've already had a consulation with Cathy Yardley, author of "Will Write for Shoes" and many other romance and chick lit stories. She would be the perfect editor for my story!

For anybody looking for an editor she is currently running a special of $1 per page (industry standard is $2 - $4 per page) Check out her website!

cathy yardley

Thanks to social media and from reading other author's blogs I think I won't have too much problems with the marketing, distribution, etc. But the actually writing I need someone to hold my hand and guide me. If I'm going to publish a book it should be the best book I can write!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 12

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

Whether it's physical or digital, a book will be judged by its cover, in some cases its an expense indie authors can't afford, but it will make a difference in the eyes of readers. The following are book covers from some of my clients (I do eBook formatting):

Frosted Shadow by Nancy Warren

This is a fun mystery chick-lit type book and the cover reflects that perfectly. In this case there was a change in the cover, it originally had a white tipped eye shadow applicator, I made the suggestion to change that since the white would be lost in e-ink screens. The cover that went in the eBook had better contrasts and the white tip was changed to a black tipped eyebrow brush.

These covers were done by Looks Good Creative.

Running and Dancing by Carol Fenner
Cog Stone Dreams by Diane Schochet

These two covers were done by Graphicz X Designs, I love these book covers, they look great on a Kindle and in print. The Running and Dancing cover tells the reader the story will be about two African-American girls from another time, the lettering will be important in the story and the colors give a sense of warmth. Such a good book!

Cog Stone Dreams, right in the cover you see an object - the cog stone - and the words "dream", "wish" and "magic". That's exactly what you'll get!

carol fenner

diane schochet

The Dream Crystal by Mark O'Bannon

On the other hand, this fantasy book cover implies romance or at least some steamy hanky-panky, but there's non in the book! It's very PG-13 with lots of action scenes in the fairy land, a more appropriate cover would have been a warrior fairy. In reviews and feedback, the author mentioned how readers thought the book was more of a romance, he is considering changing the cover.

So there you have it, some awesome covers to look at!

California Missions - San Diego de Alcala

Hey There:

Once upon a time I used to work at Michael's Craft store, I worked there right around the time kids had  to build models of the different Missions in California as a school project. I loved looking at the craft projects ready to be assembled, but my fascination with the Missions started many years before when I was a kid living in Huntington Beach and our school had a road trip to San Juan Capistrano. It was so magical, right around the time the swallows came back to the Mission, I never forgot it.

The California Missions were built in the late 1700's and early 1800's, so for California purposes these are some the oldest buildings we have. They were built back when California was part of Mexico and the Spanish Empire, so many wars and conflict happened in those years, but we are lucky to still have them with us. My goal is to visit all 21 Missions, I have 5 down, 16 to go.

This time I'll show the one nearest to me: San Diego de Alcala.

church front


  • 1769 - Founded by Padre Junipero Serra.
  • 1774 - Moved from Presidio Hill above Old Town to present site in Grantville.
  • 1775 - Burned in Natives attack.
  • 1780 - Rebuilt.
  • 1801 - Damaged by earthquake.
  • 1883 - Secularized (Missions disbanded by Mexican decree.)
  • 1845 - Sold.
  • 1862 - Returned to Catholic Church.
  • 1931 - Rebuilt.

This is a small Mission, the model below makes it look bigger than it is. The courtyard is small, and a tour can be completed in less than 20 minutes.

Among the things you can see in the courtyard are the living quarters, a Kumeyaay hut and a fountain in the middle of the Mission courtyard.

living quarters

kumeyaay hut

courtyard fountain

The current church is the fifth one on the site and they also have a beautiful chapel. The floor of the church is made with very old adobe bricks, the benches are solid knotty wood, everything is in earthy golden colors with crimson here and there. The sun comes through beautifully through the stained glass windows. They have several areas for votive candles and they are always burning. The candles and matches are provided, all you need to do is put in some money through a slotted hole in the candle structure, light your candle and say your prayer. Out of respect I just can't bring myself to take pictures inside the church or the chapel, but trust me, it's beautiful.

The church is still being used for Masses in English, and if you go on a Sunday the Mission is open to the public for free. If you want to take a tour any other day of the week, they are open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, anyone can go inside for a $3 donation fee, the gift shop is awesome!

Annually the Mission celebrates the Festival of Bells to commemorate the Mission's anniversary with food, dance, entertainment and the blessing of the bells and animals. All five Mission bells ring during the festivities, including an original bell dating back to 1802. This year, the festivities will be on July 13th, 14th and 15th.

The vegetation around the Mission is native and thick, which helps to drown out the sounds of the heavy traffic a few feet away. There are several areas where you will be compelled to sit down, relax and meditate.

native vegetation


  • California Missions - a Pictorial Tour (book)
  • Mission site
  • Wikipedia site

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes

Finally! The story of the last Walsh sister, Helen will be available later this year! I can't wait, Helen is my favorite sister...what kind of inner turmoil will Marian give her?

The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes:

'via Blog this'

Author Blog Challenge - Day 11

Describe your editing process. Who edited your book? What was your relationship with your editor like? What could each of you have done to improve it? What might you do differently in the future?

I haven't published a book, but I helped my friend Mark O'Bannon author of The Dream Crystal while he was writting his book.

mark o'bannon

I like to say I was his muse, but really, I was his task master. We met at my favorite coffee shop, he was half way writing his novel and I would go there to read. Mark is very generous with his work and would send it to anyone interested, he was writing a fantasy book focused on the fairy world - not my thing, but I agreed to read it. 

From that day on we had a dynamic, I would get the chapter he just finished, 30 - 35 pages, which I printed after I resized the chapter to single line. A few days later I would come back to the coffee shop with the pages and a ton of notes on them. He had mentioned the critiques on his writing group only focused on grammar and typos, he wanted real feedback and I gave it to him.

There were several things I told him needed clarification, gave him my impressions on the characters, and there was a point when I became completely fed up with the main character, Aisling. To remedy this he added a scene where Aisling had a confrontation with her best friend Genevieve, that put things back on track.

Mark is a regular guy and he was writing in a woman's voice, after the first few chapters I got the impression Genevieve had a lesbian crush on Aisling, but when I mentioned that he was very surprised, it was never his intention. I pointed out several instances where I saw that crush and puzzled Mark asked me "Isn't that what girls do?" Needless to say, I had a lot to teach him about how women interact with each other in real life.

Mark finished his book, did the re-write (which I didn't read) and now the book is published. There is one thing Mark refused to budge on and that was clothing description, Aisling is a fashion designer and he wanted to describe every piece of clothing each character in each scene was wearing, after awhile it was distracting and I kept skipping those parts. Now that the book is published that is the one thing he gets criticized on, but I never said "I told you so".

Now in his second book of the series, Mark will include a story line based on something I said. I was complaining about my dating life and mentioned how I felt I was cursed, since every guy I kissed immediately lost interest in me....he liked that concept and I think Aisling will have that curse....poor girl!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 10

Have you participated in a critique groups? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided them to this point?

Critique Groups?? Dear Lord, NO! Feedback and I don't have a good relationship; I fear it, even if I know I've done a good job I'm afraid of negative comments. I've been working on overcoming this fear, which is the main reason why I started blogging.

The way I saw it, blogging would allow me to move away from my comfort zone and allow anybody to read what I write. My blog growth has been decent considering I don't promote it too much, still at a consistent 1,300 views per month I like to think people are only there to copy and paste my pictures.

Now that I've joined this challenge, my blog views are over 2,000 (and it's only Day 10!!). Seriously, I almost hyperventilate every time I see the numbers because this time I know people are reading....and worse writers are reading!! Oh no, I'm gonna hyperventilate again!

And don't get me started on how my heart flutters when I see a comment, and it's so cool that all the comments are nice and encouraging. This blog challenge is one of the best things that has happened to me and my fledging career in writing.

Thanks to everyone!

Getting back to the original question...Critique Groups?? Not yet.

Author Blog Challenge - Day 9

If your book is fiction, how could you change it to make it a nonfiction book? If your book is nonfiction, what could you do to turn it into a story? Hollywood has done it, so how could you do the same thing?

My draft is fiction, a story that involves wedding dresses, cheating, Mexican-American family customs and way of life, and a small business. How could it be non-fiction? Here I couldn't help but have a picture of Abed from the TV show Community (fiction) and his evil twin (non-fiction)

Here are some non-fiction titles I think would work:

  • Evolution of Wedding Gowns - a coffee table book with beautiful pictures of wedding gowns from medieval times until now.
  • How to Make a Wedding Gown - a step-by-step guide on patterns, embroidery and dress-making techniques.
  • My Best Day Ever! - true stories from real brides.
  • My Worst Day Ever! - true stories from real brides.
  • Why People Cheat - a psychology type book focusing on personality traits of serial cheaters.
  • Tortilla Soup for the Soul - inspirational stories from the point of view of immigrants.
  • Tortilla Soup and more - Mexican food recipes, specifically from Mexico's Northern region.
  • How to Open a Business - Step by Step guide on opening a business.
  • How to Use Social Media for your Business - Step by step guide on social media marketing.

How could Hollywood make money of my book....this would definitely be a romantic comedy, which is ironic because I avoid those movies at all costs! Because of the nature of my book two things could happen:

  1. The movie is adapted faithfully from the book, which would make it sorta "ethnic" and would probably be a straight-to-Univision release.
  2. I could sell my soul to Hollywood and let them loosely base the movie on my book, thus making it more commercial and Ka-Ching!.....besides, I don't really need a soul, do I?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 8

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

My main character is a seamstress who initially made clothes only for herself and close family, but as the story progresses she finds a niche as a wedding dress designer. For this character I interviewed a few fashion designers and asked them for details about wedding dresses (fabrics, special tips, yardage, etc.); once my initial draft was done I sent the passages that had to do with fashion design to one of the interviewees. She gave me great comments that improved the scenes I wrote. I choose the character's name after browsing TV fashion shows online and reading famous names out loud to get a sort of feel for the rhythm of a 'fashion name'.

There's a bridal shop in the story, and for the location I drove around several neighborhoods in San Diego until I saw the perfect location for it. The information about opening the bridal shop came from a combination of my own personal experience from opening a business many years ago and from a friend that had just opened her own bridal shop in Tijuana, Mexico.

One of the sexy hunks is a photographer, so I asked a photographer friend for some inside information and lingo to make it real. Another of the sexy hunks came from Ireland, and he is very closely based on an ex-boyfriend (we're still super-friends) because he asked to be immortalized in my story. I got dialogue help from him....How would you respond to this? How would you say that?

Another one of my characters is an over-the-hill model (in her early 30's) turned entrepreneur. For her, I planned to wikipedia the lives of several super-models who've crossed the line from the runway into the business world.

You know what....I miss my story, the more I write about it, the more I want to get back writing it!

Author Blog Challenge - Day 7

Describe your outline process for your book. What do you do to stay organized?

My outline process consisted of three things: reading "The Anatomy of a Story" by John Truby, thinking about it during the week and going to my favorite Irish pub on a Tuesday to write my notes and outlines over a pint. Why Tuesday? That's the night they have live Irish musicians playing, the music provided inspiration and helped me think.

Anatomy of a Story, is geared more towards movies and screenplays, but the steps can be easily extrapolated for a fiction book. Chapter 2 had to do with the creation of the Premise, which had been something I had thought about for a long time, so it was easy. While I dutifully made my notes on the following chapters that had to do with Story Structure, Character, Moral Argument, Story World and Symbol Web; I rarely went back to look at those notes once I got going with the Plot.

Thanks to this book I avoided so many mistakes! For example, I was struggling to come up with professions for each character until I read that they should all be in the same story world, in my case, the wedding industry. If I didn't know this from the beginning it would have been so difficult to get my characters to meet and interact.

The chapters I spent more time on were #8 Plot and #9 Scene Weave. I'm a bit of a control freak and in order to be creative I need to know where the story is going in detail. So I hand wrote the outline chapter by chapter, noting what scenes should be in each chapter from beginning to end. Once I wrote the actual story I did deviate from my original outline but having the hand-written notes helped me to make the adjustments and keep control of my story.

The book consisted on three story-lines with three main characters in Part One converging in Part Two. Something similar to this would be "The Other Side of the Story" by Marian Keyes. I also grabbed inspiration from Pulp Fiction where Quentin Tarantino did the filming one story at a time and mashed them together in the editing process.

I finished the draft on two of the three story-lines following the same process and by the time I was getting ready for the third storyline I changed my mind and now want the story to be linear with the main character from storyline one. This draft needs major re-write!

As for the Irish Pub, since I went there so much I slowly started meeting other regulars and now I have so many friends to talk to that I can't get any writing done....ah well, it's still fun to go!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 6

Describe how the idea for your book first came to you. Where were you? Who was the first person you told? How did they respond?

A few years ago, I wanted to be a psychotic bride as a Halloween costume to be worn at my office. I looked in several thrifts shops for a cheap wedding dress that I would be smoothering in fake blood, I finally found it at the Salvation Army! I bought a wedding dress, complete with veil and small train for $2.75!

I got some props, put on scary make-up, went to work and won first place! The following year I used the wedding dress as the costume for a Zombie Walk.

The special thing about the dress is that it's hand-made, I could see it was made with a regular sewing machine, nothing pro about it. Someone out there poured her love and time into making this beautiful dress only to end up at the Salvation Army. What happened? Who was her? Something tragic must have happened!

For months I thought about the dress, imagined different stories and coupled with my personal experience of being jilted by my ex-fiancee, I came up with the story for my book. The original story was about three women and one wedding dress: the one who made it, the one who wore it as a Halloween costume and the one who wore it to her own wedding.

The first person I told was my sister, my #1 cheerleader. So far everyone I've told seemed interested in the concept, since then, the story has changed a bit but the original premise that something horrible happened to the bride-to-be is still there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 5

Who is your favorite literary character? With which literary character do you most relate?

There is a very close contest to my heart when it comes to favorite fictional characters, without a doubt the number one is and always will be Hannibal Lecter. Yeah, I know he's a psychopath who eats people, but what can I say? He's a charmer! I love the way he appreciates the absolute finest things in life, whether its art, music, wine, perfumes, fashion or the gourmet taste of an enemy's brains sauteed in butter and other yummy things. Not even Clarice can resist him....don't go by the movie "Hannibal", read the book!

anthony hopkins

The next ones are not really #2 and #3, they're both #2 since one was created based on the other. Sherlock Holmes came to life in 1887, that's 125 years ago! That's as close as immortality as any author can hope for...and Holmes' reign is not over yet, not as long as we keep watching movies based on him! And of course, there is House, what can I say? The man's a dick-ish genius!

house tv show

As for the characters I relate to, I wish I could be like Sookie Stackhouse (and I don't mean Anna Paquin). Sookie is fearless, smart, funny, cute, has a great rack and the literally undying love of every hunk out in Bon Temps.

sookie stackhouse

In reality, I'm more like Eleanor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Obey the rules, don't make waves but have the huge inner strength to take adversity like a woman! Eleanor is bad-ass!

emma thompson

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 4

How do the things you read impact your writing? What do you love to read? What do you avoid reading at all costs? How would your writing change if you read more of the things you typically avoid?

When I was only a reader I used to immerse myself into the story and didn't notice much, all I could tell you about a book is if I liked it or not. Now I tend to notice writing styles a lot more, plot/plot holes, character development, descriptions and so on. I don't think that my reading experience enhanced or diminished, it just changed. The main impact it's had on my writing is that now I don't feel like I need to be like this or that writer, my own words and voice are a part of me and can create great stories!

I love to read murder-mysteries, historical fiction, women's fiction and chick-lit. I'm not too fond of fantasy, but I will read the occasional book, and I avoid at all costs westerns and romance! The ironic thing is that my stories revolve around love, although love is not the main thing so my category falls more into chick-lit or woman's fiction.

So what would happen if I read more romance? Maybe I can come up with a very nice story of two gorgeous characters that hate each other at the beginning, end up in bed in the middle of the story and fall in love by the end of the book! I don't mean to mock romance writers, I am a sucker for love, happy endings and especially: Fabio covers.....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 3

Who are the writers you most admire? Who are your writing mentors?

This is a tough one, I thought about it most of the day and while I have favorite authors such as Marian Keyes, George R.R. Martin, Charlaine Harris, Neil Gaiman and several Indie authors the writer I admire the most is Maeve Binchy.

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy is an Irish novelist with 15 novels and many short stories to her credit. The first novel I read from her was "Evening Class", when I checked out the book the librarian made a comment about how great a storyteller she is and the librarian was so right!

My admiration for Binchy's style lies in her ability to transport the reader into a peaceful state of mind in which we can forget the world surrounding us and dive into her characters' world. Most of her characters are interconnected through out her novels, so when you read "Minding Frankie" (released 2010) you get to see what's going on with Ania whom you met in "Heart and Soul" (released 2008), the cute Fiona from "Nights of Rain and Stars" (released 2004) and even Nora and Aidan, the adorable couple you fell in love with in "Evening Class" (released 1996). It's like visiting old friends, it's really lovely!

As for mentors, I mainly have cheerleaders, other writers whom I've met at the coffee shop or online. I haven't joined writing groups because writers tend to think too much of themselves and want to talk only about their work. Of course, this rubs me the wrong way since I only want to talk about MY work and they should be fascinated by me, right?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Author Blog Challenge - Day 2

What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve your craft? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

My main source of education has been books, over the years I've read many books about writing, but three stand out:

On Writing by Stephen King

I'm a big Stephen King fan and when this book came out I was thrilled and immediately bought it. While it's a great book, it's not really a "how-to" guide, it's more like "how-he-writes" memoir. It's fascinating, but also intimidating since I realized I could never write like he does! Nowadays I truly grasp the concept that not everyone is or should be like Stephen King, but that particular book set me back a few years in my writing quest. For those who have self-confidence in their writing skills, this is a great book!

stephen king

Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley

I met Cathy at a talk she gave at the San Diego Public Library promoting her writing book. I enjoyed the way she spoke, how funny she was and I got a small epiphany that day. Around that time my business went bust, was bankrupt, my condo was close to foreclosure, my fiancee left me for someone else BUT after learning about the basic story-telling chick-lit formula I realized my life didn't suck, it was the beginning of a chick lit novel!

Another thing I realized that day was that I did have a writing style. I always thought I had a very simplistic style, I lacked the ability to write beautiful descriptions or metaphors, but that doesn't matter, my style fits perfectly in chick lit.....I was pumped! I felt awesome! I saw myself writing dozens of novels!.....of course that didn't happen, I did mention I was going through some things, right? Time later when wrote my first draft, Cathy's book helped a lot! And so did she!

cathy yardley

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

This book looks like my high-school textbooks with highlights, notes and a tattered cover. Truby focuses on film, but his lessons can be easily extrapolated to novels, the explanations are very clear and uses as examples popular movies which most people have watched. The major thing I got from this book is how to make the structure and I'm all about structure! Thanks to this book I wrote up the foundation for my book and following that foundation found it very easy to write the scene and dialogue, soon I'll be ready for the next scary

john truby

One time I took a Women's Fiction writing class at UCSD taught by a published author, can't remember her name, all day I've been thinking about the class and I just can't remember anything I learned from it. When she was critiquing our assignments in front of the class, she did mention how angry it made her feel when she read all the grammar mistakes, the good thing is that she didn't mention names! Up to that point I had no idea I had poor grammar, not being a native English speaker I thought I was fine, ah well. After the class I bought several books on grammar, which are still in my bookshelf...they will be opened soon!

I plan to take other courses this year and look forward in improving my writing skills.

Art Around Adams

Hey There:

It was 2 PM when I arrived home after a very hectic short out-of-town trip, my place was a mess, I had several blogs to post, two children's books to format, was beyond tired and a few blocks away the 9th annual Art Around Adams was just starting. I decided to miss the event, stay home, catch up on work and let my body rest....well, after a short nap the artwork called to me and by 5 PM I was out on Adams Avenue!

art around adams

Art Around Adams is an Annual event dedicated to arts and music, the exhibitions are all located on the sidewalk or inside business all over Adams Ave. starting from Idaho street on North Park, passing through Normal Heights and ending at Biona street in Kensington. There are several points where people can take Free Stand-Up Comedy Trolleys (yeah! you get comedy as you ride!), but its really easy to walk those two miles in a leisurely manner, stopping to eat, drink, listen to music and look at art.

These are some of the cool things I saw:

Electric Giraffe (aka 'Rave Raffe')

This is the coolest thing I've seen, a mechanical walking giraffe! It's 17 feet tall when its neck is raised and its so sturdy people can actually ride on it! It looked so gentle and cute, it's an amazing piece of mechanical engineering. To check out more about it or discover why in the world was it built check their website!

art around adams

art around adams

art around adams

Jeff Donndelinger

His paintings were displayed over a grassy area and as I checked out his work, one painting caught my eye and didn't let me go until I bought it. Don't know what it's called, but it looks awesome! The interesting part will be where will I place it in my apartment, most of my artwork is either Mexican folk or Goth-like, but I think this multi-colored quilt looking piece will fit right in, just need to figure out where.

art around adams
Jeff Donndelinger holding my new painting

art around adams

art around adams

This is a beautiful home turned into a ceramics studio, where potters, sculptors and students get together and create amazing pieces. One thing I immediately felt as I walked in the door and browsed at their ceramic pieces for sale was the sense of tranquility and beauty. I also liked that their prices are not exorbitant,  anyone can own an original piece of art. Great place!

art around adams

art around adams

True DeLorenzo

I noticed several people with small paintings that looked a lot like the people holding them. Eventually I found the artist responsible for these paintings and had a chance to see him finishing a portrait of the couple sitting in front of him. True DeLorenzo makes the portraits for tips as well as displays his many original paintings. This is an artist I'll be stalking over the next few months, I want several portraits by him!

art around adams
A TRUE portrait

art around adams
His Business Card....very cool!

A TRUE painting


Two walls got brand new murals! By the time I checked them out, the artists were just giving final touches. Both look very cool, combining the different artists styles without clashing and can be easily seen from the street.

Mural One

Mural One

Mural One

Mural Two

Mural Two

I think I mentioned something about music, every other block there was a band playing music and people enjoying the performance. I'm a bit weird when it comes to music, if its not metal I won't bother too much with no pics or video of the music side of this event...maybe next time.