Tag Archives: Young Adult Novel


spotlightThis post is an invitation to self-published authors to be featured in my Shine on Self-Published Authors Series.
All you need is to:
– Have a web link to purchase your book/books.
– Have at least one digital photo of yourself (jpg, png, gif).
– Write your journey to becoming a self-published author and what you have experienced now that you have published. Give advice if you can and note any new projects you are working on. Also, include your contact information.
No less than 1000 words.
*Please have your work properly edited.

Only one feature will be posted per week.
If you would like to be a part of this series, please send the information requested to selimaandthemerfolk@gmail.com by July 20th, 2014.

Follow my blog for further information.


ingredientsAny person who is in command of a project, whether they be a chef, a project manager or a mom, will tell you that you need the right ingredients to have a favorable outcome and for the process to move along smoothly. Any project can be completed, but to have it executed with little to no mishaps or better than expected is where actual skill and knowledge are needed.

On Thursday, I cooked stewed beef, which I had cooked several times before. I added curry and coconut power, and it made a huge difference in the dish. It was my best stewed beef yet. My older sister had added those ingredients to some stewed pork she had cooked when she visited me a few months ago, and as little sisters do, I copied her.

My beef tasted good the way I use to cook it, but including my sisters ingredients enhanced the flavor of the beef significantly. The moral of my story is this:  most of us can do things on our own; however, the more knowledgeable you are, the better your projects will turn out. Connecting with the right people and freeing your mind to unfamiliar concepts can make a world of a difference in anything that you do. Never be afraid to learn something new.


New BookThis week we have two consecutive holidays in Trinidad and Tobago, today is Corpus Christi and tomorrow is Labour Day. Luckily, I do not work on weekends, so I’ll be home for four straight days. Among the projects I hope to begin/complete, I will start writing the second book to my Selima and the Merfolk series, which I have tentatively named Corallian. I won’t write every day, but I certainly intend to pen a few pages.

SATM is in production at this time, I see no reason to delay writing the sequel since I would like to have it completed or at least in the editing stage by Christmas. My ideas are fresh in my mind, and my fingers are ready to type, and quite frankly I need a distraction.

So, just as with SATM I invite you to join me in book II of my writing journey.


I thought this past post was a good companion for my ‘The Author’ post.

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…

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Hi everyone,

I have written a short ‘get to know me’ and later in the month I will add some photos.




As I mentioned on the weekend, I will be updating my blog this week. I will periodically alert you when new information is added, and within the next few weeks the release date of my first young adult novel, Selima and the Merfolk will be announced.

Changes to the blog thus far:
– Selima and the Merfolk page (with synopsis)
– Domain name is change to vanessasalazar.com
– New Theme

I invite you to read the synopsis, then take the poll below. Your participation will be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to comment and share this post if you like.


20140605_074311[1]I went back to work yesterday, after being on vacation for two and half weeks. Though my leave is recorded as vacation I didn’t do much relaxing. Nevertheless, what needed to be done was done.

It was so hard to get out of bed. I had stayed up late the night before to cook and get organized for work. I beat the traffic and got to my office by 7:30am. As I was walking towards my office, a random driver decided to shout out to me “Show some example!”

Firstly, I do not like people to shout at me, and a random person is even worse, but I had just finished saying my prayers, so I did not respond.  There is a school just before my office, and they play our national anthem every morning, followed by prayers. I of course, being a proud Trinidadian stand at attention for the anthem, but I do not do the same for the prayer. It’s not that I don’t respect prayer, prayer and faith is my foundation. However, as far as I know there is no rule or law that says you have to stand at attention when someone is praying.

20140605_074338[1]I assume this man saw the children standing and though I was walking while the anthem was playing. I thought to myself – what goes through someone’s mind before they do something so disrespectful and stupid? I would never consider doing anything so asinine.

I had brushed off that insult before I got to work. When I walked into my office, I found a big bunch of balloons and a teddy bear by my desk. A wonderful welcome back from my very good friend Wendy. Such a lovely gesture. I’m glad I didn’t let ‘who ever that fool was’ ruin my morning.


approvedYesterday I spent the entire day at home. I wrote a bit, early in the day, then about 9 pm I started working on my book Project which took me into Tuesday morning. I am happy to report that Selima and the Merfolk is finally in production. My assigned Design Consultant has confirmed that my artwork and manuscript have been approved. I expect the proofs in a week.

Writing has been a very long road. I’ve finally put down the manuscript and now putting the book together feels like ten times more work. Printing costs are outrageous, so I anticipate that the book will be available online in hardcover, paperback and Kindle before physical copies are on sale in my country. I have been hunting for affordable quotations for several weeks. There is one quotation outstanding that I hope will be a reasonable deal. Now I understand why so many people do their printing in Asia. However, I am skeptical about quality and legal protection. Also, if there are any problems, it will take forever to resolve them.

All in all this is a great learning experience that will make the second book project easier. Next on my list is to prepare the trailer, invitations, website and an advertisement. As I’ve said many times before, my main priority is quality and affordability so if it will take a little longer to get it right then so be it.



Does any of my fellow writers frustrate themselves about the placement of commas as much as I do?

As a soon to be self-published author, I am undecided about which punctuation standard to use: US, UK or Caribbean. I am an Island Girl, but most of the books I have read use the US standard. My books will be available online to anyone, anywhere in the world, and since I expect an audience from the US and UK as well, I wonder:

How much of a difference does punctuation style make, especially to the readers?

Today, punctuation is a clash between rules and style. I never underestimate the importance of rules because a comma in the wrong place can change the meaning or readability of a sentence.

It is a good practice to stick to the rules of one country. If a writer is fortunate to have their work published in a subsequent country (e.g. US author also published in the UK), the UK publisher may change the punctuation to suit their rules. This brings me to another question:

How should a self-published author choose a standard if they market mainly online?

In the Caribbean, we do not put commas before conjunctions, even if they separate two clauses. We follow the general rule of separating words in lists with commas. However, we do not put commas after the second-to-last item on a list, if a conjunction follows it. E.g. basketball, football, tennis and swimming.

Examples of other rules for commas

– Commas after sentence introductions. YES
E.g. As you are well aware,
On a beach in the Caribbean,

– Commas after transitional phrases. YES
E.g. Therefore,

– Commas before speech marks. YES
E.g. He told her, “Please leave me alone.”
Annie asked, “Could you be quiet?”

Good Writing

One attribute of good writing is that it should be easily understandable. A reader should not have to reread a sentence to understand what the writer meant. For this to happen, it is important to follow rules. On the other hand, a writer’s style is distinct by the words they choose, the length of their sentences and how they punctuate and structure their sentences. Their style is usually influenced by the genre or the purpose of their works.

Please comment on this post. I would greatly appreciate some advice.


connectingIt’s been six weeks since I have written a diary post. I’ve been working feverishly editing my novel, and I felt that I did not want to write another post if it was not an announcement of a release date. Well, I don’t have that announcement today.

Editing is one hundred times more work than I expected. Selima and the Merfolk is my first novel, and I have someone helping me edit, who has been an asset to the project. It has been an experience that has thought me that I have to take a different approach to editing, the next time around. Though I have been seriously editing for almost four months, I still stand by my promise that I will not publish until I am satisfied with my product, and right now I am not. The good news is that my book has improved tremendously, and I have learned lessons that would probably make the next project shorter.

Things I have learned along the way:

1. You have to be the hardest working person on your project.

2. If you are not meticulous by nature, learn to be.

3. Be open to advice. Listen to a different point of view but be true to the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.

4. Learn the business as much as you learn the craft.

5. Read, read, read and read some more.

6. Don’t neglect your platform.

7. For those of us who cannot afford professional ‘novel’ editors, compare the recommendations of two persons who have a combination of these characteristics:
• Proficient in English
• Avid reader
• Have some editing experience

8. Don’t have your work proofread until you are absolutely sure that you are finished editing and are satisfied with your product.

9. Most people don’t speak proper English. Sometimes trying to achieve that standard makes your dialogue sound unrealistic.

10. Set deadlines for yourself or you might be writing one book forever.

One of my favorite Joel Osteen messages is CONNECTING WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE (see video below). I’ve watched it maybe twenty times. In my life experience, I feel like I have been shielded from making some mistakes and have been rescued by what I call faith and some call coincidence; all because of crossing paths with the right people at the right time.

Five years ago I would have been frustrated with this project, even though I will fulfill a dream by publishing this book, I would have long got tired of the back-and-forth that comes with editing. Thank God I don’t think that way anymore. Every time there is a change to be made or an error is found I am grateful – Grateful that my self-published novel is going to be to the standard of one that was published by a big publishing house, grateful that I am willing to do the work and work with people who have the same work ethic, grateful that the discovery of one misspelling or grammatical error is like someone stopping you from skidding on a banana peel – it won’t kill you but who wants to fall if it can be avoided.