Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Free Sample Sonnets - brand new readings

Picture Click on the following link to access a short presentation featuring a sampling of sonnets from my Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems collection. After clicking on the "click here" link below, hear my message and advance on the right arrow at the bottom right of each screen to access the next sonnet and to hear my reading of it.  Enjoy!
Click here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Smashwords Author Interview (Question #12): What motivated you to become an indie author?

Smashwords: What motivated you to become an indie author?
There are a number of factors that led me to explore the indie route after publishing two trade books and five textbooks with traditional publishers (Irwin/Mirror Press, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, McFarland & Co. and Textbook Media Publishing).

First, I wanted to publish a typically short book of poems for which there is essentially no significant market and which no traditional publisher would be likely to consider. Along the same lines, I wanted to publish a short story collection. Because I am not known for my fiction or poetry, I knew that finding a traditional publisher to take on either project would be a very difficult task, if not an impossible one. Most traditional publishers these days won't even read manuscripts from unagented authors, and I was not likely to find a good agent to handle my fiction and poetry without a past track record of success in these fields. Agents that charge up front reading fees (or any fees, for that matter, other than a percentage of the book's royalties/advances) are not agents I would consider in any case, any more than I would consider publishing through a vanity press masquerading as a small press. (Any publisher that requires an author to purchase a minimum number of books at a "discount" is a vanity press by any other name.) I could easily find an agent to represent me as to my non-fiction, especially my textbooks or law-related trade books. But I do not need representation as to these since I've never had difficulty interesting traditional publishers in such projects. When I complete my first novel, I will very likely search for a literary agent as it is a prerequisite for submitting it to most of the leading publishers today. For other projects, I'll go it alone or self-publish. But I digress. During the summer of 2011, I needed a break from my heavy research agenda that included research for a scholarly article and work on the instructor's manual and test bank for one of my new textbooks. So I decided to collect selected samples of my poetry spanning some 40 years and my favorite short stories written during the same time period and self-publish two books. I used CreateSpace to produce the paperback versions of my first two indie books and Kindle Direct Publishing for the Kindle version of these, later also ported to Barnes & Noble and still later to Smashwords for even wider distribution.

Second, I wanted to experience complete freedom to publish precisely what I wanted and charge a low price to encourage as wide a distribution as possible. I also wanted to offer the book in both paperback and eBook formats. That was a particularly important consideration for another work that I was working on that summer, my intellectual property general reference work. Ultimately, I published all three books.

Third, I wanted to experience publishing on my timetable with complete editorial control for the first time. There is no question that all three books would be better had they undergone the vetting of the traditional editorial process; I am not the best editor of my own work and without question each work is less perfect than it would have been with an editor to help guide and rein me in when needed.

Although it is equally true that at times even the best editors can be difficult to work with, especially when their preferences conflict with a writer's style and voice. The perfect is indeed too often the enemy of the good.

(You can view the entire interview here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/VictorDLopez.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Smashwords Author Interview (Question 8): When did you start writing?

Smashwords: When did you first start writing? 
Almost as soon as I learned to write. I was writing (bad) poetry when I was eight years old, and "stories" before that. I kept a journal before I knew what a journal was--and burned it when what it contained was too painful, troubling, embarrassing, or simply too real to deal with at a tender age. I wish I had not for I can't remember what that precocious child found too troubling to keep around. This (no longer precocious) adult would like to know--and smile (mostly) and perhaps shed a tear or two for the unrequited love, frustrations or deep truths learned too young in life to process in a more productive way. I wrote a lot back then. Doubtless it was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (apologies to The Bard). Some things don't much change.

Smashwords Interview (Question 7): Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

Smashwords: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Queens, New York mostly. Working class neighborhoods exuding the incredible diversity (ethnic, racial, lingual, political, cultural) that exists everywhere in New York City have enriched my life and broadened my perceptions beyond anything that would have been possible had my parents raised me in their native homogeneous Galicia (Spain) of the 1960s and '70s. My writing reflects the vast multicultural soup in which I was thoroughly steeped and slow-cooked. So does my trilingual upbringing (Spanish, Galician, English) with their separate rich roots and very different cadences, sensibilities and predilections. These have informed my poetry, fiction, non-fiction and life in indelible ways at levels beyond conscious thought.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Smashwords Author Interview: Question 6: What do you read for pleasure?

Smashwords: What do you read for pleasure?
Everything. But mostly science fiction and fantasy--classic and new. I also enjoy non fiction, of course. Just finished Killing Patton by Bill O'reilly, and Charles Krauthammer's Things That Matter. (Krauthammer is a national treasure. All of O'reilly's books are good reads and his Killing Lincoln, Jesus, Kennedy and Patton books are really terrific.) Now I'm working through a couple of anthologies and listening to the audiobook version of Dean Koontz's "Tick-Tock."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Smashwords Author Question #5: What are your five favorite books and why?

Smashwords: What are your five favorite books, and why?
It is impossible for me to answer this. So I'll just list the first five that come to mind that have had a significant impact.

1, Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth. I love Wordsworth above all other poets of all times--even more than Shakespeare and Milton. This lengthy Ode encapsulates him for me, and links him to my favorite philosopher, Plato. It has had a profound influence as the first among my beloved Romantic poems.
2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens. "If that is the law, the law is a ass." What more need I say? (A case that drags out for generations until the last farthing is spent and then is finally resolved. That's not fiction. That's an ETERNAL TRUTH! And yet I still went to law school. Maybe I should list Freud next.)
3. Plato's Republic. (And the Socratic Dialogues.) There is Plato's idealism, Aristotle's realism and the rest is largely a historical footnote.
4. Shakespeare's complete works. The comedies. The tragedies. The sonnets. The inferiority complex for the rest of us who dare write anything at all after reading him.
5. Roger Zelazny's Amber series. I know, I know. It's absurd to list it here but it is still my favorite fantasy series of books from one of my favorite writers. I've read thousands upon thousands of pages in favorite fantasy series, including every word in the trillion page (it seems) absurdly long "Sword of Truth" series of books by Terry Goodkind (whom I love). At times I literally screamed in frustration at the repetitiveness GET TO THE F*^%$*#G POINT! George RR Martin (another favorite writer) in his lengthy Game of Thrones series of books (all eagerly digested--likewise the HBO series) also made me squirm and/or skip ahead from time to time lest I tear out the few remaining hairs on my head. I will buy the next long-overdue installment as soon as it is available, though. Likewise many other favorite authors like Stephen King (I almost died of boredom on my way to the Dark Tower on many occasions) -- and on very, very rare occasion even Dean Koontz whom were I pagan I would worship as a demigod. But Zelazny never had that effect on me, especially in his Amber series. Not a single skipped word. Not a single needless, redundant description. Were it not nearly 2:00 a.m. and need I not get up in less than six hours to attend Commencement ceremonies I'd probably rummage through my library for my Book Club two-volume Chronicles of Amber right now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"End of Days" -- Free complete SF short story this month only

"End of Days"  is for me both the most disturbing and perhaps the most interesting short story from my Mindscapes  short story collection for two reasons: first, it poses what I believe to be a novel theory of cosmology that expresses my actual belief about the relationship of black holes to the creation and extinction of an endless number of universes, including our own; and second, it poses a terrifying scenario that is all too plausible given today's headlines and could well form the basis of the most tragic of headlines in every newspaper on Earth in a month, in a week or tomorrow morning. It is the only dark fiction I've ever written that actually scares me precisely because it rings true. For someone whose fiction almost always probes reality  from a different perspective that is always grounded in what is plausible, it is also the only thing I've written that worries me at a visceral level, and the only thing I am ever likely to write that is ultimately devoid of even the possibility of hope from someone who is always at worst a disappointed optimist.

The short story is one of ten from my Mindscapes collection which is now also available as an audiobook from Audible, iTunes and Amazon. You can check the Audible version of the audiobook here and download it free of charge with a new, no risk free one month trial membership to Audible. Paperback, eBook and audiobook versions are also available from other leading retailers, including Amazon.

To download the complete short story free of charge through the end of March, please visit my Smashwords page here then scroll down to the short story's link.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Smashwords Author Interview (Question #3): Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Smashwords: Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

I'm not sure what the first story was but it was certainly Disney and about Donald Duck. (In my native Spanish--just like my first Superman comic books and child's version of Homer's Odyssey. I still love these, though I have not read a Superman comic since I was 12 or 13.) My love of fiction was inspired by Disney, Homer, Hans Christian Anderson, Aesop, and blossomed into an even greater love of Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Poe, Wordsworth, Keats, Blake, Niven, Zalazny, Koontz, King, Clarke . . . in a gloriously meandering line that is the only yellow brick road I ever need to walk.

Smashwords Author Interview (Question #2): What is your writing process?

Smashwords: What is your writing process?
For both my fiction and non-fiction I tend to compose at the keyboard. I do no outlining and seldom work on plot lines ahead of time. Also, my first draft is usually also my final draft with only minor changes. During the day, I almost always have a cup of coffee on hand as I write. At night, it may be tea, diet Coke or Pepsi or a glass of wine. Less often, when writing late into the morning, especially after a particularly good or bad day, the glass of wine may be replaced by a snifter of brandy or an Absolut vodka martini with olives. (No more than 2 drinks a day on average as a rule, though.) I like to work in significant blocks of time without interruption other than fetching coffee or pestering my wife during very brief breaks until she yells at me and I slink back to work.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Smashwords Author Interview (Question 1): Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Smashwords: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. Alas, it is lost along with much of my early work done on typewriters with no backups. I will rewrite it some day as it still speaks to me and, like many of my later stories, it delved into the interplay between the conscious and subconscious mind, life lessons and redemption. My second short story, Eternal Quest, survives in my latest short story collection, Mindscapes, and is still a favorite that is little changed from the one written by a young old man of 19 who had already learned some of the most vital lessons about the things that matter that he would ever learn. My philosophy, too, has changed little over the intervening decades.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Goodreads question #6: Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Victor D. Lopez My short story collection, Mindscapes, contains an eclectic mix of stories most of which touch in some way on the nature of knowledge and the interplay between the conscious and subconscious minds. At least two of the stories are inspired by dreams ("Mergs or Why Godot Can't Come" and "Earth Mother") but most are the product of my fertile imagination and reflect my interest in both the natural sciences and social sciences. As with most science fiction, I usually begin with a simple premise (what if . . .) and allow the story to evolve as I write it--sometimes leading into places I did not mean or expect to go. "What if our subconscious minds contain the collective consciousness of our ancestors?" "What if we could communicate with other intelligent life on our planet?" "What if black holes hold the secret to the creation and destruction of an unlimited number of universes?" "What if an alien from another planet made you an offer too good to pass up?" And so on.