Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reflection, Introspection and Contemplation

The Holidays tends to bring joy to the hopeful and to the content. But sadly, for the forgotten or hurting soul, it simply represents a lonely sorrow and lost opportunities. This year, take a moment to reflect upon the lessons you have learned and to recognize the goodness in your lives.

You do have something to be grateful for you know? You wouldn’t have to look that hard. Are you alive? Do you have breath in your body? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have someone in your life who loves you simply for being you (a friend, a parent, a sister, a brother, a lover)? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you DO have something to be thankful for.
If you’re feeling blue this season, try doing something unexpected for someone else in need to remind them that they aren’t forgotten. Even if you have limited resources as well, you can send a card or simply tell someone Merry Christmas – and mean it. Doing something for others will lift your spirit and bring you a small piece of joy. Selflessness always comes with a reward.

As I look back on this year, I recognize the many blessings that have come about. I believe that they are all gifts from God. With each blessing has come change and has required growth from me that has been challenging, satisfying and positive. My life is better because of them and I am grateful.

 Please remember that despite the evil that is proven to still exist in our world with the horrific events that have taken place, there is still hope. The evil and selfish nature in the hearts of some people do not represent us all. We do not have to succumb to degradation of social morals and ethics.

We all have contributed to the sorrow in the world in some small way. Whether it is unintentional through the water we waste, the exhaust our cars emit or by turning our backs on the person hurting beside us out of fear of intruding upon their privacy, we have all added to it. Though we are not perfect and will never be so, we have been given grace and forgiveness by our Lord Jesus Christ, who’s birthday we celebrate this holiday season. No one can earn grace and believe me, no one deserves it. That’s why it’s called grace. It is a gift that we don’t deserve and is given from the Father’s heart.

But just think for a moment: If we show that same grace and forgiveness to one another, image the change that would take place. If not in the world, in our own lives. When we forgive, be become no one’s slave. We may not be able to change the hearts of others but we can take responsibility for ourselves and do better. We can choose to be better people.
I pray that you and your families have peace and joy in your lives and that you truly have a very Merry Christmas.

 R.J. Machado De Quevedo

(Follow me on Twitter @TheDeceiverBook )

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Prayer of Blessing

I just wanted to send a little note out there to all my readers this holiday season to say that I’m praying that our Lord, Jesus Christ, bless you abundantly this coming year more than you could ever ask or even think.

I pray that you would be filled with contentment for those things that you have, but are blessed with prosperity and increased wealth.
I pray that your heart is filled with gratitude for your family and friends and also for the freedoms you have in this country.

I pray that you will be successful at everything you put your hands to be it a small task or a large endeavor.
I pray that you will have God’s divine favor everywhere that you go and with those in authority over you.

I pray that you have health and increased fitness. I pray that you would not cause pain to others but be compassionate and full of self-control.
I pray that your home and hearts be full of Joy, Peace, and laughter.

And I especially pray that you and your family will be protected from all forms of harm. 
May your Christmas Day and the coming New Year be filled with family, friends and unconditional love!

God Bless you all!

R.J. Machado De Quevedo
(Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook )

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tips on Reading to a Crowd

Tonight I thought I'd recount for you my first experience giving a book reading to a crowd as a new author. As many of you know, my first book isn’t scheduled to be released until spring 2013 through Tate Publishing Enterprises, LLC . However, I had the privilege to read an excerpt from book 1 at my writers club on Monday night.
At last month’s meeting, the club members were invited to volunteer to read some of their work for up to five minutes at this Monday’s holiday potluck. Attendees to the potluck included the writer’s club members, their guests and their families.

I volunteered to read with some encouragement. So I’ve known for a month that I had to pick something to read. After weeks of back and forth I managed to narrow it down to three choices.

1)  A dementedly scary and violent encounter my main character, Melanie, experiences.

2) A deeply heartfelt moment of internal reflection from the mind of a love interest.
3)  Or a lighthearted and sarcastic moment between my main character Melanie and her best friend Elisabeth while they are out on a shopping spree.

I read all the options to my husband, the poor man…He suggested the light hearted excerpt given that it was going to be read during a festive event. Good advice I think. After all, I didn’t want to scare any kiddies if someone brought their cubs, or give the gentle spirited souls present possible nightmares with the violent scene, so lighthearted sarcastic humor it was.

I was more nervous reading a five page excerpt from Book 1 then I was reading to my entire class in 2nd grade! And in second grade, I could barely read which forced me to have to make up most of the book up as I went along based intuitively from my interpretation of the pictures! Hmm…maybe that’s where the whole writing a book thing started…more on that later.

Anyway, getting nervous in front of people was sort of a new experience for me. Normally I’m all for it and handle it just fine being that I’m a socialite and tend to enjoy myself once I’m up there. However, I’ve never had to read something that has been kept so close and personal to me. I was about to share to a group of people part of my book! Yikes!

I’ve been so secretive about my books and even writing up until I got a publishing contract. Only two other living souls have read it. Well, other than those individuals who work for my publisher being that it’s their job to review it. So reading it out loud to a group of new acquaintances and strangers to hear made my heart race, my face turn bright red, and my body jitter with unbridled nerves and adrenaline.

Adding to my mental battle, was the knowledge that I was reading to a room full of published authors, aspiring authors and members of the club’s critique group. My fears were unfounded…they were all very kind, laughed at the humor and sarcasm, and gave me positive feedback such as, “great descriptions” or “that was wonderful!”

I had all the speech tips bouncing around in my memory from college but it all went shooting out of my head like mental diarrhea as soon as I got up there. I tried to read slowly and look up at the crowd from time to time, but I was so nervous I just barged ahead like the newbie author I am.

I tried not to run back to my seat when it was over. My face was hot, burning red, oh yes, I could feel my red skin betraying me, and I was almost trembling internally. Auh! I hate it when I turn red…the bane of my existence!

A dear friend and fellow author, John Marchel, who is also a member of my writers club, gave me 5 helpful little tips when I sat back down. He’d been writing them down on a little piece of yellow paper for me while I was up there reading. He slipped it to me after I sat down.

Below are John’s words of wisdom. I’ve heard them before, but it’s worth noting and heeding if you plan on making a speech or reading to a crowd anytime soon. Practice makes perfect, and practice in front of a mirror might do me some good the next time around.

Tips for Reading In Front of a Crowd

1. Slow Down
2. Pause to let people laugh or wonder
3. Pause between paragraphs. Don’t barge on ahead – my bad
4. Emphasize certain words with a mimic. For example: “She smiled mischievously”
5. Look up and work the room. Make eye contact at one end and each time you look up, move across the room and then back.

I hope that helps someone out there. I’m definitely going to try and keep these tips in my brain the next time I read in front of a room. And there will be a next time!

R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are Trippy Confirmations Signs of Discernment?

Welcome Dear Reader. I'm glad you stopped by. 

A few blogs ago I mentioned that I would share some examples with you of some of the strange and often trippy coincidences that kept taking place as I was writing the first couple of books in The Deceiver series. So, at great risk of creating a couple of spoiler alerts, I’ll go ahead and tell you about a few that stick out in my beady little brain.  

As a preface, let me say that there were numerous times while I was writing when ideas would pop into my head that I hadn’t previously thought of or mapped out. I had many nights where I was wide awake, unable to sleep as the story would flip through my mind taking twists and turns I couldn’t foresee and shooting up an over mental barriers I didn’t know I had.
I would see the story shift and evolve in my mine almost like watching a movie; the scenes in colorful details. Imagination and creativity really are an amazing human experience – if you haven’t tried to be creative, I strongly suggest doing something like writing, painting, playing an instrument or even dancing to express your hidden creative nature. It feels amazing.

Sorry, got off track there… Anyway, for some of the scenes that seemed to write themselves, I found out months or even a year or two later, that they were very close to real life events that took place after the fact, and in some cases, decades before I was even born.
For example, a certain nasty villain in my book gets his paws on a smuggled cell phone during his “stay” at Folsom Prison. A few months after writing this, I was watching the local news and when a story breaks about cell phones being smuggled into Folsom Prison through illegal channels. It was probably a coincidence, but it still tripped me out a bit. Especially since the method of delivery was how I had “seen” it in my head.

Then, there was what I like to refer to as “the trip to the bathroom”. It’ll make sense in a minute, I swear.
So, a month and a half ago I looked up the town where part of the story takes place in my books on Google Maps. I was scouting for locations that might match up with places I'd made up in my mind when writing the books. I wanted to find real locations to visit and see them with my own eyes as well as to feel them out. I’ve never lived in this town or anywhere near it, nor have I ever explored that area other than just driving straight through on the highway. I had no way of knowing until I got there if the locations I had picked from Google Maps would be right or not. I was basically seeking a 3D visual from which to extrapolate more authentic details.

I had in my mind what I wanted things to look like and what kind of locations some pretty brutal events take place in my books. I had a certain park on my list of places to visit that day and went into the ladies bathroom where this terrible event occurs in book 1. No one was inside, so I walked down the aisle and into the last stall, it gave me the absolute willies as in the major creeps! There were four stalls and the last was the larger handicap stall, a perfect place to corner someone. It was cold, dark, smelly and nastily perfect.

The bathroom itself was set far away from the road where traffic wouldn’t be able to hear anyone inside should they need to scream. There was a wire barrier above the walls and beneath the ceiling to let in fresh air from the outside. It could act as a cage to keep the occupants trapped inside if cornered. Oh, and there was crap – no really – there was literally crap on the toilet paper roll. I know, I know. Gross! Yes, like I said, it was perfect.
I could feel as well as see in my mind all the terrible things I had already written taking place there. It gave me the shivers. I took pictures of the bathroom and was about to leave when I noticed that the door to the bathroom was solid medal and had a deadbolt. Again, perfect for the story. It was just what I needed to make the scene even creepier! But then… I looked down and I saw a name. Just one name, scratched into the grey blue paint on the door. It was the name of the victim in my book who had this horrible thing happen to them in the bathroom.

As you can imagine, I was tripping out. Of all the bathrooms, in all the world, and I picked out and walked into that one? I called my husband to look at the name on the door and he tripped out too. So it has me wondering, was it just a coincidence or had I already written by discernment about a real life event? God, I hope not. Once you read book 1, you’ll understand why I re-e-e-ally hope not.
On that same location scouting trip, I was driving to another location to check out the surrounding areas to take pictures, see with my own eyes, feel out, and take down notes of my impressions to later incorporate those details into the books. As I was driving around, I had thoughts repeatedly race through my mind that this back road I was on seemed like it was infested with a lot of places to dump a body. I could feel the atmosphere shift and darken as I drove down that stretch of road, or perhaps I was just creeping myself out. Either way, it turned out to be an accurate impression.

I found out from a local, that the stretch of road I was on was actually where a serial killer in the 70s used to dump his victims when he was done with them. He had done horrible things to children before murdering them and dumping their little bodies along this stretch of road. I was sickened and then tripp’in. I had no idea.
I wish I still had the luxury of hoping that the terrible things I wrote about two years before hadn’t happened in the real world in this instance. But realistically, it most likely may have been pretty close, all without having a clue!

So, let me state that for the record right now: These types of trippy coincidences flooded into my brain and came out of my fingertips before I was any the wiser to their real life connections. As they say, nothing new is under the sun, so maybe my books will just help shine a spot of blinding light on the nastiness in the world that isn’t so new, but is definitely amongst us.
So what do you think? Was it Coincidence or Discernment? I choose to accept all these strange little twists of fate as further confirmation that my story was on track with what needed to be told. Hopefully when you read the books, you find something in it for you, other than of course, a good mystery twisted up in the delivery of a thriller.

R. J. Machado De Quevedo
(Follow me on Twitter @TheDeceiverBook )

Thank You!

Good evening! If you’re out there following my blog or reading this for the first time out of curiosity, I just wanted to say thank you to all of my readers out there! No, really. THANK YOU! It means a lot to me and I sincerely appreciate you.

To those of you who have posted my blog on your Web pages, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am sending you virtual hug right now….squeeeeze. Did you feel it?

Please feel free to leave your comments or thoughts after reading my blogs should I stir your minds in any way. I welcome the feedback!

R. J. Machado De Quevedo

(Follow me on Twitter @TheDeceiverBook )