Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest: Antonio

Today my guest is first-time published author Antonio! I'm very excited to read Dueling Divas(An Avondale Story), and am happy to have Antonio as a guest today. 


I’d been writing on and off for years, but never really thought about getting anything published.  The idea of sitting at a desk and actually typing a story didn’t appeal to me until the stories started coming to me demanding to be written.  It’s at the point where you write— not because you want to or just feel like it, but because something inside you has to do it.
The funny thing is, when I sat down to write, it wasn’t the chore I thought it would be, but rather more of an organic process.  Just the very act of typing and writing fueled my creativity and the words just seemed to flow.

What’s it like getting my first novel Dueling Divas(An Avondale Story) published:
I felt very lucky having the first novel I’d ever submitted to Dreamspinner Press accepted.  Getting the e-mail from them saying they wanted my novel touched me more profoundly and deeply than I ever would’ve thought it would.  There was such a sense of having achieved something, that was recognized as being worthwhile, that was unlike anything else I’d ever felt in my life.

The nitty-gritty of getting ready to be published:
The editing process can be excruciating for a newbie.  My editors were all very nice, but the first time someone suggested a change in a story or word, I learned just how attached I was to my work.  You learn a lot about yourself when dealing with criticism and you also learn how much of yourself is actually in the story.  It’s definitely a growing process and you’re not just a better writer, but a better person by the end of it.
It can also be a fun experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with cover artist Reese Dante.

The biggest surprise to me happened during the editing process.  My story went through a couple of editors before I submitted it, and after I submitted it, which meant I was constantly rereading it.  As the writer I thought for sure there would be a point where I’d start getting tired of reading the story over and over.  Funnily enough, I never got to that point.  There were times it felt like I was reading a story written by someone else and I’d be completely drawn into it.  One moment I’d be laughing at something a character said and at times I would feel a tear or two roll down from my eyes.  That’s when I remembered something we’d discussed in my college literature class years ago.  A good story can be read many times and each time you read it you can find something new and interesting.

Things I learned during the writing process:
I learned that a writer collects characters that have surrounded him or her their entire life.  Bits and pieces of people we know well or those we meet and know for a brief moment in time combine to add the flavors of real life into our stories.  As a writer, the things I’ve seen and felt passionate about make their way into my stories and because they were meaningful to me; others have found them meaningful as well.  And, I was surprised by the people who came to me, interested in what I had to say as a writer.  It’s never who you think it will be.
There was another surprising thing I learned during the writing process.  I learned just how fun and satisfying it can be to play God.  You other writers, know what I mean.  It’s when you realize that a character’s fate lies solely in your hands, and their happiness or sadness all depends on you.  An editor reading one of the stories I’m currently working on was shocked by the fate of one of my characters.  The joy I felt in surprising the person, whose opinion I valued, was immense.
Having stated the above, I also have to take a step back and say that sometimes the characters in a story lead you where they want to go.  In one story I decided on a name for a female character but every time I typed it I would accidentally use a different name.  It was clear she wanted the second name and eventually I gave in to her.  Sounds crazy, I know, but it happens.  In another story I had planned for one couple to be together at the end, but was actually surprised when one of the men ended up with someone else.  Sometimes your characters surprise you, even though you’re the writer.

My advice for would-be-writers:
Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to go for it.  Before I submitted my novel I submitted two short stories (thinking that route would be easier)   and both were rejected for different reasons.  But I didn’t quit, instead I realized that my ideas worked better as full-length novels and I decided to just go for the big one and submit a novel.

Dueling Divas (an Avondale Story):
I think it’s a great story and I believe that a writer needs to like their work and feel good about it before anyone else can.  First and foremost, I want my stories to be about the characters above all else.  There have to be characters for people to root for, who they want to see succeed and be happy.  And like real life there also have to be the villains or the odd sort that you just don’t like.
Also like real, life Dueling Divas reflects the joys, sorrows and strange relationships that exist in our day to day lives.  But, it also thrusts people out of their comfort zones into new worlds to discover new things.  Dueling Divas is at times fun and campy, then at other points tragic and maybe even a little scary and of course sometimes in the middle of all that —true love rears its head demanding to be heard and acknowledged.

An excerpt, exclusive to this blog,  from Dueling Divas (an Avondale story)
In this scene one of the main characters named Bobby is helping take care of his nephews and niece while his sister Stacey shops for groceries.  Then out of nowhere something happens:

Excerpt from Dueling Divas chapter five:
They finished breakfast and loaded everyone into the van.  Stacey thought about how nice it was having Bobby to keep the children occupied with his clownish antics.  “I swear, Bobby, sometimes I think you’re just an overgrown kid, but I appreciate you,” Stacey said.
“Just because we get older doesn’t mean we have to act older,” Bobby said.  “Just call me Peter Pan.”
Outside of Publix, Bobby put Meggy and the other kids in one of the large shopping carts made to look like cars.
“Not too wild now,” Stacey said.
“Oh, come on, sis,” Bobby said before making car noises with his mouth and speeding off with the cart and kids into the grocery store.  They went down one aisle and then the other with Bobby swerving and turning fast with the cart much to the kid’s delight.
“Faster, Uncle Bobby!  Faster!”
“Vroom!  Vroom!” Bobby said as he picked up speed.
The kids were laughing as Bobby raced through the store.  As they turned a corner in front of the freezer section, something caught Bobby’s eye.  At the center of the aisle was “the perfect ass”, belonging to the man who was bent over putting up stock.  I’m in love, he thought.
“Wow!” Bobby said loud enough for Meggy to hear.
“Wow what, Uncle Bobby?  Wow what?”  Meggy said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Bobby said as he looked back at that ass and then promptly crashed his cart into the stocker’s cart in front of him, knocking some of the supplies over.
“Oops, sorry,” Bobby said back toward the stocker as he bent over to pick up the boxes of frozen vegetables.
When Bobby looked up, a gorgeous Mediterranean-looking man standing over six feet tall and brushing a dark curl away from his eye was looking down at him.  It was all he could do to keep his tongue from hanging out.  Here was the man of his dreams made flesh.  And here he was running through every clichéd phrase he’d ever known from every cliché romance ever created.  The crazy thing was suddenly they all made sense to him and felt very real.  God, he was even getting weak in the knees.  Seeing the man smiling at him made him feel like a complete idiot.  Then came his nervous laugh which he hoped didn’t come across more like a giggle.  He tried to regain control of the situation.  The one thing he never liked was the idea of not being in control.  “Again, so sorry.  I’ve got to watch who… I mean what I’m doing.”  He laughed again embarrassed by his blunder.
“That’s alright, Sir.”
“Wow,” Meggy said.
Stacey had caught up with them by then. “I had a feeling that crashing sound I heard would have something to do with you, Bobby,” she said.
The stocker stared at Stacey for a minute before exclaiming, “You!”
“Excuse me,” Stacey said.
“It’s you,” Nash said.


Link to novel Dueling Divas, (An Avondale Story) by Antonio on Dreamspinner site
Link to Dueling Divas e-book by Antonio on Dreamspinner Press site

Thank you and enjoy!


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