Author Archives for Vanessa Salazar

About Vanessa Salazar

I am an aspiring writer. Once upon a time I convinced myself that I loved Information Technology. Years later, I admitted that I only pursued a degree in Computer Science because it was safe. Two years ago, I decided to try to write something, anything. I joined a writers group and wrote my first short story, and people liked it. I tried another, and that one was well received too. So, one quiet day at home I began doing what I’ve always wanted to do and that was to write a novel. Writing has been the best part of the last two years of my life. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about mermaids, but was too much of a coward to try. If I hadn’t been writing, it scares me to think that I would have continued doing classes that I had no interest in. Amen for courage.

DIARY POST 1: EDITING TAKE THREE

Clapper BoardMy first week of recording progress or lack thereof began last Friday. I tried to take a day off, to write, but by nine o’clock, I was forced to rush to work. Maybe it’s true, everyone says when I am not at work, technical issues cripple the company. Needless to say, I didn’t have time to write anything, except a reminder to my supervisor, to purchase replacements for our infrastructure.

The weekend was successful, though unbalanced. I decided to do ‘Diary of a Writing Woman,’ and spent significantly more time working on my platform than on my novel. I did go over part of chapter one (for the hundredth time), but I am not at the level of perseverance I should to be.

For my platform, I wrote this, as well as ‘The Road’ post. I updated my blog interface, and did a lot of research. Also, I joined some great websites, which will be in another post. As I often do, I promised myself a reward – a pair of skinny Levi’s jeans, if I maintain this feature until chapter twenty.

To ensure that I make my jeans look good, I joined a gym. My enthusiasm was a dangerous, somewhat comical thing for me. I went to the gym once, before I took an intense fitness class. Does anyone remember the ‘Tin Man’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz?’ For days I walked like he did, before ‘Dorothy’ oiled his knees. This week, I was more sensible than excited. Spin Classes proved to be more my speed.

When I decided to do this weekly feature, I promised myself that whichever direction my progress went, I was going to be honest.

I will do better this coming week.

Thanks for the support!

Feel free to follow me by email or on Twitter.
You can also like my Facebook page.
(Links provided)

THE ROAD

Selima and the Merfolk is my first attempt at writing a novel. I began in September 2011, and completed a first person draft on January 1st 2012. Round one of editing left me disappointed. I had only edited a few pages, when I decided that my novel would engross readers more, if it were written in third person narrative. Although it was a lot of additional work, I feel confident that I made the better choice.

My second draft was finished in June. I then commissioned an editor, and after two months I confidently had my manuscript bound. Four very different people read it. One review was negative. Relatively new to straightforward criticism, I did not revisit the manuscript until January 2013. It took months, but I realized, that what I received as negative was actually necessary and good advice. He was absolutely right. Every suggestion improved the diction, as well as the flow of my novel.

Writing a novel is much more work than I anticipated. Even so, it is the most enjoyable, fulfilling thing I have done thus far. People views are subjective. Your feelings can, and will get hurt. However, there is a difference between cruel and supportive critiques, though they may have the same points. To know the difference is paramount. You might miss out on some good advice.

INTRODUCING DIARY OF A WRITING WOMAN

Hello everyone!

I am introducing a weekly feature on my blog. Every Friday I will post a diary of my progress in writing my novel – Selima and the Merfolk. I am constantly surfing the Internet, seeking new information about blogging, the business of writing and writer’s platforms. From time to time, I will share what I have learnt. In addition, if I am going to summarize my week, it’s going to be funny. I laugh a lot. It doesn’t matter if there is a crisis at work, or I forgot to take taxi fare, again.

The posts will be in the ‘Diary of a Writing Woman’ category. Feel free to leave comments, suggestions or just say hello.

If you want me to support you/something, leave the links in your comment.

I look forward to your company in this journey.

WHAT’S UP WITH ME AND MERMAIDS?

The Fairy - Quiet and Beautiful.

The Fairy – Quiet and Beautiful.

Until I was seven years old, I lived in a small fishing village. They were the happiest years of my life.

I first learned what mermaids were when my grandfather told me a story about them. He said that there was a river at the end of Las Cuevas beach that the locals dubbed ‘The Ferry.’ Many years ago, people claimed to have seen mermaids when they sailed through in fishing boats or ferries.

According to the locals, the river was named ‘The Ferry’ because ferries frequently sailed through it. Papa called it ‘The Fairy’ and it became a fairytale for me.

My grandmother told me my second mermaid story. She said that in the forest, there was a river where a girl found a beautiful comb. When she combed her hair, she got terrible migraines. As soon as her grandmother saw the comb, she told her that it belonged to a mermaid, and that she must take it back. She did, and the headaches stopped. When she went back to the river, the comb was gone.

Another significant person in my life, my favorite teacher, took me to spend a weekend at her home when I was about six years old. There I saw the movie ‘Splash.’ She gave me a pink sweater with ‘Splash’ written in glitter, and the ‘S’ was a mermaid’s tail. I don’t have to say how much I loved that sweater.

Children having fun in The Fairy.

Children having fun in The Fairy.

My father was unaware that mermaids dominated my fantasies. He rented ‘Splash’ so often that my siblings came to love it almost as much I did. We were all fascinated by how real Madison’s tail appeared to be.

Hopefully, everyone has a childhood fantasy. Mermaids are mine. I am working on a novel that incorporates mermaids, but they are not the only focus. Like I said, it’s not going to be ‘The Little Mermaid.’

ONE MORE CHANCE

A crackling noise woke Jenny. She fluttered her burning eyes and scrambled to her bare feet. Mud had stiffened her profile, and with no other alternative she used the hem of her dress to wipe it away. Timidly she scanned the dimly lit unfurnished room, a total disparity to the pristine apartment she had expected to rise in. Abduction was the only explanation she could consider, though she could not fathom a reason. Tremors overwhelmed her frail frame. Her body involuntarily jerked her almost off balance, and made her bite her tongue. Beads of light danced sporadically across the dark room. She peered through each reachable crack, none wide enough to suggest a possible location. With no visible exits, Jenny blindly dragged her palms across the walls, and found grooves outlining a door, discreetly harmonized with the material of the room. She knocked forcefully, incessantly and screamed for a savior to no avail.

Adrenalin overwhelmed her. Though dizzy and a bit disoriented, she drove her shoulder against the door with the confidence of a bull. Every impact fatigued her more, but she was persistent and eventually pitched herself out of the room. She struggled for a breath, coughing and choking. She rubbed her bruised shoulder. Mental anguish superseded her physical pains after she composed herself, and became conscious that she had not rescued herself, but in fact, entered into a forest filled with trees completely engulfed in bright yellow-orange flames. She could not put her thoughts together to answer all the questions that filled her mind. She had never been in a forest, or knew how to find one, and why were the trees on fire? A panoramic view further alerted her that the trees were merged together, and had formed a complete loop around her. There was no way out.

The scenery resembled the set of a horror movie, or she had to be dreaming the most realistic dream she had ever dreamt. Trees randomly released branches that could no longer hang on to their trunks. Leaves turned to ash before they touch the ground. Smoke jeopardized her oxygen supply. She grew weaker and weaker. In spite of her dilemma, Jenny knew panicking would threaten any chance she had for survival. She disciplined her thoughts, shielded her nose and mouth with her sleeve and wandered around her prison calling for help, looking for anything, or anyone. As she searched, she peeked at the sky, ashamed of her awareness of what it symbolized. To her horror it was deep red, so deep it almost seemed black except for the orange illumination it projected. The sinister ambience of her prison increased her fear, she speculated that her circumstances might be the result of something supernatural, but she focused on her escape.

She shuffled through grass and ash, trying to ignore the crackling of burning trees, and the howling of wild animals she did not see. Perspiration invaded her bloodshot eyes, the soles of her feet were grossly blistered, but she was afraid to stop or fall asleep. She continued walking until she accidentally stepped on a scorching branch, causing her to lose her balance, and fall into an open pit. It seemed as though she was lying there forever. Jenny was in such grave pain she was afraid to move, if she even could. Her right arm hurt the worse. She had used it to try to brace her fall. Wind blew, gently circulating a scent she could only compare to a mortuary she had reluctantly visited.

Jenny groped and pulled herself upright. She cuddled her injured arm and surveyed how far she had fallen. At the rim of the pit stood a man tall, thin, and completely concealed by a black gown except for his hands that exposed raw skin with veins protruding and seemingly infested by tiny insects. He wore an elaborate cryptic headpiece that covered his face, and he stood as straight as a soldier on parade. The chilling sensation of his presence crippled her. Her lanky legs struggled to keep upright.
“Do you know who I am?” he growled.
His voice was icy cold and venomous.
“No,” Jenny replied.
“I am Apollyon. I am here to execute your transition to hell.”
“What?”
“You are dead!”
“What! I am not dead, and even if I were I won’t go to hell!”

Apollyon didn’t argue. He threw a thick scroll to her, smacking her accurately on her forehead. She staggered to maintain her stance. A vein pitched out vertically on her bruised forehead. Her nose flared, her teeth clenched, but she picked up the scroll without verbal complaint. She unrolled the scroll with her fingertips. Her tears ran freely when she saw that it chronicled every sin she had ever committed. Even though she had never killed or committed adultery, she had never valued spirituality, and had only committed what she considered to be ‘little sins.’

“But these are all little things. I’ve never really done anything that bad,” she said.
“I’ve heard this all before. Your choices and deeds have brought you here. This is your consequence.”
“No! Please, this can’t be the end! Can’t I get another chance?”
“Do I look like I could give you another chance? To do what – go to heaven, repent? Actually, He gave you many chances, but you’ve built your life around your selfish manipulative behavior, causing havoc to anyone who did not submit to you. You even destroyed your sister’s marriage! What did you think sin was?”

Jenny could not believe this was her reality. Usually her father’s influence safeguarded her from any retribution she might have deserved.
“I will say one thing to you. Most people including the worst of the worst try to pray their way out of here, sometimes it actually works. Though you thought of God, still you would not call His name.”
Apollyon glided away allowing loose dirt to fill the pit. As dirt fell, she was accosted by memories of the people she had hurt, and the outcome of her actions. Jenny clawed at the walls as she begged Apollyon for help, but he was apathetic.

Completely submerged but alive, Jenny did something she had never done before. Instinctively vain she had shielded her face, but in retrospect, it enabled her to move her mouth. She prayed!
“Dear God, please forgive me for the horrible life I’ve lived, and for ignoring You. I know now there are consequences for sins. Please give me one more chance.”
Jenny did not panic. She was as still in her mind, as she was forced to be with her body. Remaining hopeful, she eventually become unconscious.

Whack! Whack! Suddenly a rush of raging water engulfed Jenny. Someone grabbed her shirt, and frantically began dragging her out of her car. Completely in shock that she and her car were under water, she wrestled with her rescuer, but he held her firmly, swimming upwards. Shortly they both emerged to the surface. She spluttered, coughed and fought to catch her breath.
“You’re going to be OK. Just breathe, breathe.”

SOUL FOR SALE

Selling a million albums had brought me an avalanche of attention, even Klaus finally acknowledged me. I didn’t think he knew who I was until he summoned me to an impromptu meeting, with instructions to attend alone, tactfully not inviting my manager Leroy. Though confused about his restriction, he was the CEO, and I had wanted an audience with him in any capacity. I was already in the building, grateful that I was suitably spruce, so I went to his office without delay.

As I stepped out of the elevator, I took a deep breath, and smiled at the receptionist who did not make eye contact or offer any pleasantries. She pointed to a brass plated arrow and continued to type. Sweaty palms and a knotted stomach ceased my need to confront her sketchy attitude. The arrow led to a single mahogany door, and before I could knock Klaus opened it zealously.

“Welcome Natalie, can I call you by your government name?” he joked.
“Sure, I’d actually rather that,” I replied.
He led me like a father-giver to one of the two polished winged-back leather chairs in front of his desk. Faithful to her disposition, the same receptionist dropped a binder on the desk and shoved what I thought was champagne in my hand. Klaus’ thick eyebrows connected and he glared at her with contempt, but he did not reprimand her. I pretended not to notice and continued our dialogue.

“Champagne?” I questioned.
“This is a celebration and relax, it’s just apple juice,” Klaus assured.
I wondered how he knew I had been pretending to be a lover of ‘bubbly’.
“Are you comfortable? Do you need anything?” he pampered.
I started to feel like I was on a date.
I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I cautiously asked why my manager was not invited.

Klaus evaded my question. He walked to my side of the desk and sat on its edge. He was very masculine. His attention made me feel safe. Slyly he smiled and cradled both my hands in his making me blush, and mitigating any concerns I had of attending alone.
“I want to make you a star. I want to give you successes you couldn’t dream off. You’ve just begun, but you could have much more.”
“What do you …” I began before he interrupted.
“Please let me finish. We have been watching you, and you have what it takes to dominate this industry. Very few seasoned artists sell that many records so quickly, let alone someone brand new. What I am trying to say is … paint the prettiest picture of a life you hope for, exaggerate it, and still it would be nothing compared to what I could give you. Anything you could imagine, I could trump it.”

Klaus made his proposal with a confidence I perceived to be genuine. He had been very successful. I had every reason to believe he could do what he proposed. However I was a bit confused, because I was already on his label.
“So what are we talking about, some more promotions, bigger budgets – what?” I questioned.
“No, you do not understand. Let me try again. Dillon, Andrew,” he called.
Two men came through a side door as though they had been waiting for their cue. I knew Dillon by his credits; he was a very successful solo R&B artist. Andrew was a creepy albino man I had only known as Casper. You never saw him coming, he just appeared, and never said a word.

The men walked towards me while Klaus introduced them as brothers in his fraternity. I was elated to meet Dillon. Doing a duet with him could really catapult my career. Now I understood this meeting.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” I greeted.
Dillon began speaking while Andrew stood aside and looked on.
“What Klaus was trying to explain is that we want you to be a part of our fraternity, be a part of us. What we do is take the most talented of the lot and make them … better.” They all laughed.
“Where do I sign up?” I asked.
“I like your enthusiasm, but one thing. Do you know what a nephilim spirit is?” Klaus asked.
“No.” I answered.
Dillon took over.
“A nephilim spirit makes you better. It shares your body and makes your performances, your albums, anything you do incredible. People will camp out to get your concert tickets, do anything to get a glimpse of you. You will be like a goddess.”

Aghast, I sat back in the chair, more confused than ever.
“I don’t understand. Are you talking about a spirit like a ghost?” I prayed they would say no, but somehow I knew they wouldn’t.
“You could say that, but better. Don’t be afraid, this is a normal passage for artists. Do you think talent alone can make you famous? How many artists sell millions of records every year even though they can’t sing?”
I did not answer.
“This is a good thing, and I hate to break it to you, but this is your only choice,” Dillon said.
“This is crazy, what the hell are you talking about. Do you worship the devil or something?” I questioned, and began walking backwards towards the door.
“Sit down Natalie,” Klaus instructed. I turned around ready to run, but Andrew was blocking the doorway. Somehow I didn’t remember his being behind me. Physical symptoms of fear manifested. I had hoped to conceal my trembles at least until I left the room, but my situation was progressing into a chapter from a dark fiction novel, and I was the poor sap thinking she hit the jackpot.

“Look at this,” Klaus said.
He handed me the binder from the table. It was filled with pictures of famous people – singers, politicians, even religious leaders. I perused the photos that shared a similar background, made evident by a recurring emblem of a pentagram with what looked like a hand holding a ripped-off goat’s head in the centre.
“All these people are with us. They will help you. We all have a spirit and it’s just what you have to do, or else!” he punctuated.
“Or else what?” I questioned.
The morose albino interjected “Or else you will lose everything. Oh yes, we can take away as well.”

“What’s the verdict? Have everything your third world little heart desires or … well let’s just see what your answer is,” Klaus said.
Silently I recited ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ as I stood up again.
Dillon moved menacingly towards me. Andrew held me in a headlock allowing Klaus to comfortably speak in my face. “Release your soul! Say it!” Klaus’ voice defined evil.
“No! Leave me alone!” I retaliated.
“Release your soul!” he repeated.
This time he pulled out a dagger as long as his forearm. Klaus knew my greatest fears as well as my secrets. My grandmother always made me ask Jesus to protect my soul when she taught me to pray. I never in the most remote capacity expected to be a victim of anything like this. He put the dagger under my throat, forcing me to look up at his mindboggling transformation. His head shape-shifted into a cloud of blackness. His eyes illuminated white. Again he said, “Release your soul!” This time he ran the blade stiffly under my throat cutting my warm flesh. The escalation of my predicament became too strenuous. I fought and screamed like a banshee, but this only seemed to enrage him more. I could not perceive a way out. I gave in.

“I release my soul,” I whispered.
“Say it again,” he instructed.
Clenching my teeth I repeated, “I release my soul.”
Klaus stepped away, allowing me to see the blood-stained dagger. His smile lasted for a minute, then he said, “Something’s wrong, nothing is happening!”
I wondered what was supposed to happen. The three of them circled me, staring at me in bewilderment. I cried hysterically while still under surveillance. I knew they were distracted. I darted out the room with urgency, focused only on my escape. Repeatedly I pressed both down buttons on the elevators, pacing until one opened. I barely let the door open before I rushed in. Unexpectedly they did not follow me, and I didn’t see anyone along the way to the basement parking lot.

‘NASCAR’ skills manoeuvred me through a bustling highway. Tranquillity was not an option. Rapid heartbeats ricocheted off my skin-tight blouse. Gripping the wheel did not help control my trembles. Hallucinations plagued my journey. At one time I was sure I saw Klaus driving a Rolls Royce beside me, but when I blinked he vanished. Given my experience, I was able to control my nerves and my car quite well, until I crashed into the perimeter wall of my apartment compound.

Relief seeped into my consciousness. Crashing into a wall was actually a minor issue. A soft-spoken security guard came to my aid, mistakenly assuming my disarray was because of the accident. Quickly I assured him I was fine, and to let management forward me the bill. He did not press me. After all, he knew who I was and where I lived. I raced past the elevator senselessly climbing three flights of stairs. As I approached my apartment, physical and mental tiredness conquered me. I could not run anymore. My elderly neighbour stood outside her door as was her usual position, and for the first time I ignored her. I had always made an effort to be cordial, even though she never reciprocated the sentiment. She was so uncouth. She grunted at me “good night doesn’t cost anything, you know!” I didn’t acknowledge her.

As I staggered into my apartment, my shoulders finally relaxed. Home was home. I wanted nothing more than a cup of herbal tea and a hot shower. I feared the wound my mirrors would reveal, but there was not even a scrape. How could that be? I knew I was cut. I saw the blood. Exhaustion decided I would accept it. Who owned the rights to my soul dominated my concerns. I called the only person who would believe me, my grandmother. She was still up as expected. I related the story to her in vivid detail, though I expected her to be disappointed that my faith was weak, and she was!

“Natalie, I warned you about that America. Bad things happen there. People do bad things to get what they think is success. What does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?”
“But granny, I didn’t want what he was offering.”
“Yes, you did Natalie, that’s why he approached you. You’re lucky you are a twin!”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I questioned, not appreciating her straying from the subject.
“Oh child, you are one in the same, her spirit will always protect you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I was hoping I would never have to discuss this, but now I have no choice. You are weary, get some rest. Nothing could harm you in your own home, I took care of that. We will speak tomorrow, but you will have to visit me soon.”
“Okay granny. Thanks for everything. Please promise me that you will not hold back anything from me.”
“I won’t, as long as you promise to have an open mind.”
“I will granny. I promise.”
“Okay then, goodnight my love.”
“Goodnight granny, I love you.”

As I laid my head on my pillow I knew I had to listen and accept whatever she told me. If ever I needed my grandmother’s superstitions to be accurate, it was now! My eyes burned with exhaustion, my eyelids were heavy, but fought to stay open. Between sleep and wake I caught a glimpse of the wind chime granny had hung in my room when I was three years old. I had kept it all these years because it was so beautiful. It was elegantly crafted of pure silver, with six tubes of different lengths, each engraved with prayers written in brass, and in the middle hung a crystal globe. She told me she had it made because I had trouble sleeping. Now I was sure it had something to do with the safety my home always exuded.

Staring at the wind chime, I comforted myself with the confidence I had in my grandmother. Worry still plagued me, but I didn’t think things could get worse.

WELCOME

Hello everyone! My name is Vanessa. I am an amateur writer and brand new blogger. I have a special liking for folklore, especially merfolk. No doubt I have seen the movie Splash a hundred times, and have pretty much read and seen everything that relates to mermaids. If you know of any videos, articles or websites, you think may interest the persons that visit this site, please feel free to share them.

I most recently saw the Animal Planet documentary Mermaids – The Body Found, and there is much speculation surrounding the validity of the claims made by the Biologists and Scientists on the web.
Let’s discuss this and anything else you may like.

PS I will also be posting some of my short stories.

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