Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

FISH TANK AWARDED B.R.A.G. MEDALLION

Just received notification that my short story collection, The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories, has been awarded the B.R.A.G. medallion!!! Such good news to receive by e-mail:

Dear Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra,
We have completed the review process for your book “The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories” and I am pleased to inform you that it has been selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion. We would now like to assist you in gaining recognition of your fine work.

What an honor. Thank you, Indiebrag! I will post the page link at their website when it goes live. It's a WOW moment for me. What an honor.




Sunday, June 17, 2018

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW -- A SHORT EXAMPLE

The advice you hear out there as a beginning author is, "write what you know," as well as, "write something you'd like to read yourself." That advice is sometimes easier said than done, especially if both statements are in opposition to each other. For example, I may like reading about a Chinese family and how they survive under Communist rule, but I wouldn't write one since I'm not familiar with anything about the theme or the culture.
When I first got the idea to write The Coin, the first thing that came to mind was: What would happen to a woman like myself (who had found many coins on the mountain, by the way), if one particular coin would expose a very nasty man's secret? That simple question spawned the write what you know concept. My main character became Gabriela Martinez, Cuban-American woman living in Europe (like myself), familiar with the effects of exile and the vagaries of life (myself again), at the cusp of achieving the recognition for her career (my desire to achieve that as a writer), and what would happen if the person who is sent to protect you puts you in emotional peril (not me, but a great wrench thrown into the conflict). It was something I could tackle and explore. The type of novel I love to read, where a normal person is thrown into untenable circumstances, and whose inner strength helps them triumph and overcome.
But, how to make sure the bad and good guys know about her finding that coin? Well, the write what you know came to the rescue again. As every Cuban-born person knows, we love our bracelets, and every woman has one with a ton of big and heavy (and I mean big and heavy) gold charms. Charms galore. Some have Christian medal charms, ALL have the azabache - jet stone (a hard black semiprecious variety of lignite) - to ward the evil eye, and, you guessed it...coins! Problem solved. My character would place the coin on the bracelet she always wore and, Bingo, the inciting incident is off and running.
Here is a picture of my mother's bracelet (left), and my ex brother-in-law's mother's bracelet (right) and the excerpt from the novel where the conflict wheels are set in motion. Enjoy.
FROM THE COIN:
With past events still rancorously boiling in his mind, David diligently cleaned the coin, prepared the ancient camera equipment, and took close-ups of both sides of the small coin. Why didn't the old man get one of those instant cameras that cluttered the market nowadays? It was more modern, practical, and wouldn't keep wasting his time. But like everything else that pertained to these coins, David knew it was futile to complain.
As night closed in, David set about finishing his other tasks as quickly as possible. Once finished, he placed the photo roll inside a padded, stamped envelope, and meticulously closed the jewelry shop. On his way home, he dropped it off at La Poste and forgot about it.
Little did he know a discreet worldwide alert would be issued barely two weeks later.

My ex brother-in-law's mother's bracelet. He graciously let me borrow it for a signing event.

My mother's bracelet.


Monday, June 11, 2018

A BIT ABOUT SETTING

Setting, in thrillers like The Coin, can be a powerful tool. Since I was living in an area where the landscape could create a serious conflict to the already threatened main characters, I used it to enhance the car chase scene in the beginning of the novel, and throughout another climactic scene. The photo will give you an idea of the image my words were trying to paint for my readers and the danger it generated. 



Excerpt from The Coin:
They continued at a reckless speed down the narrow road where more private driveways branched out like river tributaries, some of them perilously concealed. Richard knew the hazards of not slowing down on this type of road, but he dared not. Gabriela's quick thinking had given them an advantage of two, maybe three minutes at most. Richard knew the stalking would continue, and he needed to widen the gap quickly. Their survival depended on his maintaining a healthy distance.
The winding road began a steep descent and was in some places so narrow, the car seemed to scrape the rough walls. They gathered momentum. Richard could sense Gabriela involuntarily tightening her arms and pressing her legs down hard on imaginary brakes. He could feel her rising panic and her attempt at controlling it. Even though he wanted to, he could not afford to slow down or be comforting. He expected the familiar black hulk to loom behind them, or worse still, try to intercept them further ahead where the main road merged with this one.
They came to a horseshoe turn and suddenly the Mercedes came into view behind them. Richard accelerated, knowing the battering ram would begin soon.
Gabriela gulped. "He's after us again, isn't he?"
The car jerked forward as her answer.

Monday, June 4, 2018

CAN FINDING A COIN GET YOU KILLED?

This is what began the mayhem in poor Gabriela's life. (The Coin: suspense, set in the French Riviera)

"He reached into his pocket and retrieved a ten franc 1945 French coin, no longer in circulation. His fingers lovingly caressed the etched image of Napoleon, and thought that his only regret was not finding the coins, his unique password. He'd keep this last one as his lucky charm, and start over again.
But that was for the future. For now, he was safe."
                                                                    - Excerpt from the prologue of The Coin




Thursday, May 10, 2018

RT READERS' CONVENTION - I'LL BE THERE!

Come join me and some wonderful authors to the Romantic Times Readers' Convention in Reno, Nevada, on May 15-19. It's going to be a ton of fun.