Out of this World!

Have you heard about the recent discovery of seven earth-sized exoplanets orbiting a nearby star? The star is a dim one, but it’s only about 40 light years away, which makes it practically part of our neighborhood. What’s more, the planets seem to be made of rock (vs gas), and three of them are in the “habitable zone,” which means astronomers believe there could be liquid water, and possibly life, on them.

It’s exciting news and sometimes it just feels like the stars just align! That’s been my experience with The Laptev Virus. Without having given much thought to writing a hard sci-fi thriller, I woke up one morning and there was the plot, neatly laid out in my head. I wasn’t even at home—we had flown to Denver for my niece’s wedding—and it was 6 am. My husband was still asleep, but I crept out of bed and logged on to his laptop, and wrote the first 1500 words. The next day I wrote the next 1500 words and so on. I started writing the novel on November 1st, and by March 1st, just four months later, the book was published. Since then it has gone on to win the National Indie Excellence Award, attract the attention of a producer in LA, been translated into Spanish and sold upwards of 9000 copies around the world!

In another star-alignment moment, Tantor Media, the largest producer of audio books in the world, purchased the audio rights for The Laptev Virus. They were a lovely company to work with, and a renowned (and, dare I say, handsome) actor and audio book narrator, Vikas Adam, was hired to narrate the book.  An actual star, narrating my novel—what an honor!

If you click on the arrow on the audio strip below, you can hear for yourself how amazing he sounds!

And now I need your help: an Audible copy of The Laptev Virus (the link is embedded) makes a wonderful addition to the collection at your local library, so I’m asking you to please request that your library purchase a few copies for their readers. Here’s the info you’ll need:


Title: The Laptev Virus

Author/Performer: Christy Esmahan/Vikas Adam
Format: e-Audiobook or CD
Language: English
Targeted Age-level: Adult
ISBN: 978-1515969044
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publication Year: 2017
Comments: This novel won the National Indie Excellence Award and has sold 9000 copies world-wide. The actor who performs the narrative, Vikas Adam, is also an award-winning narrator. It would make a terrific addition to the audio book collection of our library.
I would really appreciate it if you would share this with all of your friends and family everywhere so I can have as many libraries as possible acquire the audio version. When you do so, please let me know which libraries have adopted it—I’m keeping a list! And if you need help with this task, just let me know.

Thanks—and may the stars shine down on you!



Share Button

The Cobra Effect is published!

I have woefully neglected my blog—my apologies! Let me begin catching you up on some of my writing: in late November, 2016, I published The Cobra Effect, sci-fi, kind of a sequel to The Laptev Virus, but also a stand-alone, so feel free to read it even if you haven’t read Laptev. Some people like it better because it’s sciency but no one gets ill with a horrible virus.

So what’s it about? The title, The Cobra Effect, is a real thing—you can look it up! It’s when you have a bad problem, and you take steps to mitigate it, and you end up making it worse. Often much worse. And that’s what happens to Cory in the novel. His whole life has been dedicated to cleaning up the oceans. In graduate school, he specializes in molecular biology and then takes a position at a lab in India, where he does research on a type of bacteria that will degrade plastics.

He and his team genetically engineer these bacteria and eventually get permission to release them in the ocean. And it works well, at first. But then disaster strikes and the bacteria mutate and, well, it’s not pretty. Useful plastics, such as in boats, life jackets, buoys, etc. start getting eaten up.

And it just keeps getting worse from there, as greedy corporations try to convince governments to kill the bacteria with brutal methods that will result in the deaths of many other sea creatures. The cobra effect. Cory tried to fix a bad problem and ended up making it worse! But fortunately, that’s just the beginning…

Here’s what some of the reviewers are saying:

“WOW! I love this author and her stories. I must say that the writing is so well done that I feel like the author is in the room telling the story herself. I hear the inflections and humor, the tension, and relief, the surprise, and even the intake of breath as the story is being told. I loved how the story developed and each character was so well drawn that I could visualize every aspect of them.

The detail of every room is amazing, from the entry to the floors, the equipment, the colors, the sounds, and even the way the atmosphere is in the room. I really felt like I was a fly on the wall listening in on the conversations and wanted to offer my opinions some of the time.

But I’m glad I didn’t and that no one was asking because my conclusions would have been so wrong. I loved how the plots twisted and came together in the end. I felt transported and as I was reading I wanted to keep on reading and not put the book down. I had to force myself to stop and must say that the story was so well written that I had no trouble coming back the next day to read one more chapter or two.

I love how the story was about real people and real events that could be happening and it wasn’t about romance or sex but about exploring real relationships with people that we came to know in the story.

There are real life lessons embedded in the book and I for one was reminded of myself and how I approach things.

I am recommending this book to everyone for an easy and exciting read. I loved it and am excited to be able to share my enjoyment of it.”—Reina Sher-Kraft

Here’s another comment:

“Seldom do I read science fiction, but the idea of plastics polluting our oceans really caught my attention. I decided to give this book a try and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I learned so much about this problem and possible solutions. Plus I found the characters to be very realistic. I got caught up in their professional and personal lives–their struggles and successes. In the end I found it hard to put the book down.”—Ruth Heeder

There are more reviews on the Amazon website—9/10 are five star reviews! The novel is only $10.99 in paperback or $0.99 on Kindle. Please check it out and I’ll be back next week with another update on my writing.





Share Button

Yet another pathogen found in the melting permafrost of Siberia

NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff reported in the news this morning that “an outbreak in Russia is thought to be a result of thawing permafrost.” This time it is a bacterial strain called Anthrax. You may remember that this microbial bad guy was als20140910_184642o associated with postal terrorism around the time of 9/11, in which several people received envelopes with deadly anthrax spores.

Let’s talk about bacteria. They come in several basic shapes: little round balls called “coccus” (pl. “cocci”), elongated hot-dog shapes called bacillus (not to be confused with the bacterial genus called Bacillus), wavy or cork-screw shaped ones called spirillum or spirochaete (respectively) and comma-shaped, called vibrio. If the bacteria naturally group themselves into clumps or clusters, we call them staph (it’s no surprise that Staphylococci look like a clump of grapes under the microscope) and if they are in chains, they are called strept.

But back to Anthrax. Its scientific name is Bacillus anthracis, and its natural environment is the soil. When the soil is moist and fertile, the bacteria grow and reproduce happily, causing no real harm to anyone. However, when there is a crisis in their environment and they don’t have enough nutrients or water to continue reproducing well, they form spores.  You can think of spores almost like very primitive seeds or time capsules. When the going gets rough, each bacterial cell makes several copies of its DNA and wraps them tightly in multiple layers of proteins that can protect them from harsh conditions such as drought, ice, heat, etc.

Many bacteria, especially bacillus-shaped ones, can create spores, but what makes anthrax unique is how much energy and time they dedicate to the process. According to Science Daily, Dr. Scott N. Peterson at The Institute of Genomic Research in Ann Arbor, MI, helped to discover many of the genes involved in this process and if you are interested, it’s fascinating reading.  But what it basically boils down to is that anthrax is really, really good at making spores that last a long time under harsh conditions.

The other advantage that spores have is that they are very, very tiny. A bacterial cell appears smaller than the period on this sentence when viewed under 1000 times magnification and spores are even tinier. Anthrax spores can easily be carried on the wind to (as the bacteria would wish if they could do such a thing) greener pastures where their offspring could live and grow happily.

When a spore senses that it is indeed in a friendlier environment, (a process that can take up to 60 days) it becomes activated and grows into new bacteria. Animals who put their faces down to the ground to eat (think cattle, sheep, deer, etc.) can become infected with anthrax spores. Anthrax bacteria are not always pathogens (making people or animals ill like Streptococcus or Vibrio genre of bacteria are) but they are opportunists. If given the chance to grow on a warm body, eating up its rich tissues, they take it. And they don’t much care whether that body belongs to a cow, a reindeer or a human.

Now, as grim as this all sounds, the incidence of humans becoming ill with “environmental” (i.e. non-terrorist released) anthrax is really not that common. That’s why the news of dozens of people hospitalized and one person dying from anthrax is a big deal. In this case, scientists found that several thousand reindeer had been infected first, and then they started investigating how those reindeer got sick. It looks like the culprit could be a reindeer that died from anthrax many decades ago and then got covered in frost. Its corpse (containing millions and millions of tiny anthrax spores) eventually became part of the permafrost.

Enter global climate change, permafrost melting and suddenly millions of little anthrax spores which are, once again, free to move into the environment where they can happily reproduce, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to Dr. Jean-Michel Claverie, a researcher who works at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, and who very kindly corresponded with me as I was preparing to publish The Laptev Virus, providing me with the photograph on the cover of the novel, this kind of thing is going to happen more and more often. He and his team have discovered at least two viruses which have spent thousands of years frozen and are still viable. In addition, he predicts that more human pathogens remain to be found.

So, stay tuned and if you see any dead reindeer, yeah, don’t go there!

If you liked this article, I hope you will pick up a copy of my award-winning novel, The Laptev Virus. It begins in the Arctic where an unsuspecting oil company accidentally discovers a virus that was frozen for 30,000 years in the permafrost, and turns out to be a viable pathogen. Researcher Sarah Spallanzani and her team work as medical detectives to try to find a way to stop the virus.

Share Button

The Laptev Virus is a Winner!

Created by Digital Micrograph, Gatan Inc.

Created by Digital Micrograph, Gatan Inc.

I’m thrilled to announce that The Laptev Virus is a winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award! It sold a thousand copies in the first 3 months of publication and is still going strong!

Please help me spread the news by recommending The Laptev Virus  to your friends, family and colleagues. And don’t forget that it makes a terrific gift for grads, dads and teachers and anyone who likes scifi/suspense novels.

Here’s what readers are saying:

5/5 star rating by Steven Ramirez, Author and Screenwriter in LA:

The Laptev Virus is a great read. For me, this is a solid sci-fi story rooted in actual science. As an author, I like to come up with some pretty bizarre situations myself. And usually I find myself making everything up—taking care to at least make the premise believable so as not to lose the reader. But it’s refreshing to read a story written by a scientist. This author not only has a wonderful imagination, but she has the scientific chops to back up what she’s selling. And trust me, when it comes to megaviruses, it ain’t pretty, folks.
Michael Crichton, an author who was also a physician and had a wicked imagination, was great at combining real-world science with entertaining fiction. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed “The Andromeda Strain” so much—both the book and the movie. To me, the key to any memorable story is that it must be plausible. And like Crichton’s work, “The Laptev Virus” challenges the reader. There’s a lot of technical jargon in the book, but it serves a purpose. As an example, I am now terrified of cats!
So if you like sci-fi backed by solid research, then I can heartily recommend this book.”

5/5 stars rating by Ipland

Kudos and thanks to the author for writing a medical thriller that is chock full of fascinating medical information! Engrossing storyline that kept me turning pages and only reluctantly putting the book down occasionally when real life needed my attention. I especially appreciated that no one was trying to kill the main character and that she wasn’t having a distracting clandestine affair with her nemesis, as has happened in most of the medical thrillers I’ve read lately. The concept of the Laptev Virus is a wonderfully frightening basis for a chilling story – a must read!

And a very short but heartfelt one from Heidi Johnson, also a 5/5 star rating:

“good book”

You can read many more reviews and/or order your own copy (paperback or Kindle version) on Amazon

Share Button

Laptev is Live!

Created by Digital Micrograph, Gatan Inc.(I mean the book, not the virus!)

In case you’ve missed it, THE LAPTEV VIRUS is now available in two different formats: Kindle (99 cents) and paperback. In my last blogpost I gave you a sneak peek of the first chapter and I hope you’re ready to read the rest now.

When you finish, I would love to have a discussion with you about your impressions. I’ve been fascinated by the reactions of my readers so far. While everyone seems taken by the ending, it’s interesting to see what people think about the rest of the book.  How would you have reacted under those circumstances? What parts were your favorite?  Please share your thoughts with me by commenting on this blog, on my FB page and on the Amazon review page.

Also, if you wouldn’t mind recommending my book to your friends and colleagues, I would very much appreciate it. Cheers!

Share Button

What is a Megavirus?

Canada pic for blogIn the last decade, scientists have discovered viruses that are much larger than any viruses ever known before. They are called Megaviruses, or more correctly, Megaviridae. They are being discovered in remote parts of the planet, such as very deep in the ocean or tucked under thousands of years of ice, up in Siberia.

In March, 2014, Drs. Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel and their team of researchers published a paper on their discovery of 30,000 year old virus in the scientific journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. This virus, named Pithovirus, was found in an ice core sample.

Why do we care about viruses frozen in the ice? Well, for one thing, people are actively digging up the ice. Many oil companies are drilling in the Arctic to access the rich petroleum reserves up there.

For another thing, the permafrost layers are melting.

All this digging and melting of the ice could free these viruses.

Viruses can be revived even after being frozen for thousands, perhaps millions of years. What would happen if one of these viruses was a human pathogen? Drs. Claverie and Abergel speculate that this scenario could occur.

And this is the premise of my latest novel, which, for now, I am calling THE LAPTEV VIRUS.

THE LAPTEV VIRUS is completely based in science, much like Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain or Jurassic Park. Some would say that more than science fiction, it could be called fictionalized science. Although I did not engineer it to be a thriller, it is definitely a page-turner and “in the suspense/thriller territory” as my editor and writing coach, Lauren Sapala put it.

Look for my novel to be published in the next month. When it becomes available, I will publish another blog post with the first part of the novel available for you to read. Meanwhile, you can read articles on the subject, such as this one from the LA Times  and follow announcements about the novel on my FaceBook page.

Share Button

The Genius of Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde speaking at Brazos Book Store in Houston. Image taken by Christy Esmahan.

This week I had not one, but two dreams come true! Dreams come in all sizes and shapes. Some are dreams that one works toward diligently, and others are more like passing wishes—it would be really awesome if I ever got a chance to… This week the stars aligned in the universe, and I found myself swirling in the everyday magic that comes from having experiences filled with joy and wonder. The first was a professional dream: I began writing in earnest in 2008, working on my series of novels which were ultimately published this year, Bueno, Sinco and Brujas. That in itself is a pretty big dream come true, but on Tuesday evening I was given the opportunity by the lovely folks at Katy Budget Books to do my first Book Signing ever, and on top of that, the event went swimmingly well. Many of my friends and neighbors showed up to support me, but I also had the chance to convince some nice strangers to try my novels, and that was very gratifying. I hope to have many more book signing events in the future, but this one will always have a special place in my heart.

My second dream was seeing one of my hero-authors in person: on Wednesday night I got to meet Jasper Fforde when he did a book talk and signing at Brazos Book Store in Houston. I have lots of authors I like—I can talk excitedly about books for hours on end—but there are only a handful of people that I call my hero-authors: Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman and Jasper Fforde.  That’s it. There’s no hope of meeting the first three, so you can imagine my delight when I found out by chance that Fforde would be in town! I live 30 miles from the store, and yes, I had other commitments, but this was a special dream so I cleared my schedule and got myself there, right smack in the front row.

I’ve admired Fforde since 2003, when I read his first novel, The Eyre Affair. Most of Fforde’s early published works are more enjoyable if the reader has read and remembers a broad spectrum of books by other authors in order to greater appreciate and thoroughly understand the hilarity of his plots. As he described his writing style in his talk, he said he liked to “move the furniture around in people’s brains–put a sofa on top of a hat stand and look at it from there.” And boy, does he have a creative and talented mind for doing this!

The Big Over-Easy was the next book I read, and my experience as a mother of young children, whom I doused in nursery rhymes, helped me to further enjoy his Nursery Crime narratives. The Fourth Bear was also extremely entertaining, and my training as a scientist primed me further for enjoying his questioning at the thermodynamic level of the temperature of Mama Bear’s porridge, which makes no sense if you consider that there is no way it should be colder than Baby Bear’s porrige unless some of its volume was reduced by interference from a hitherto undisclosed fourth bear. How awesome is that?

In his Last Dragonslayer series, Fforde also tickled my fancy when he described the “fact” that there were six different types of Quarkbeasts, (terribly frightening monsters with shark-like rows upon rows of teeth who eat cans of dog food as treats, can and all) and these beast come in six flavors: Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm. If you remember your high school physics, you can’t help but be amused!  I was listening to this book on audio and I found myself pounding the steering wheel and laughing out loud when the narrator got to this part.

That’s nice, you’re probably thinking, a very creative mind and entertaining books. Is that all it takes to be a hero-writer for you, Christy? Good question, and the answer is no. Where Fforde crosses the line from “very good writer” to “sheer genius” is in his Thursday Next books where he takes on the act of reading in a refreshing and altogether unusual and creative fashion. His explanation of the ImaginoTransference system is nothing short of brilliant, so let me quote a post on in his Phorum 5 

Book Operating Systems:The operating system that runs every book from within using a system of ImaginoTransference to project the author’s ideas into pictures within the reader’s head. The first system used was OralTrad, upgraded ten thousand years later by the rhyming (for easier recall) OralTradPlus. For thousands of years this was the only Story Operating System and is still in use today. The system branched in two about twenty thousand years ago; on one side with CaveDaubPro, (fore-runner of PaintPlusV2.3, GrecianUrnV1.2, SculptMarble V1.4, and the latest, all- encompassing SuperArtisticExpression-5). The other strand, the Picto-Phonetic Storytelling Systems, started with ClayTablet V2.1 and went through several competing systems (WaxTablet, Papyrus, VellumPlus) before merging into the award winning SCROLL, which was upgraded eight times to V3.5 before being swept aside by the all new and clearly superior BOOK V1. Stable, easy to store and transport, compact and with a workable index, BOOK is still the operating system of choice. Current System in use today: V8.3.

So basically, what he’s saying is that there is an operating system, a kind of computer program, if you will, that allows readers to take the little black marks that we see on a page and turn them into the full-blown mind-movies we get when we read. And like all systems, Fforde goes on to explain in his novels, it can sometimes go down. When this happens, steps must be taken to keep us, humans in the Outland, from finding out. The program therefore puts us to sleep so we don’t realize that the failure is occurring. Like most systems, it fails more often at the end of the day, when it’s been used continuously by humans all around the world, and that’s why we will often fall asleep reading at night. Like I said, the man is a genius!

I also love how he dives into the formation of characters, with varying depths of personalities and back stories–his explanations have affected the way I view other books and even the way I view my own writing. All of this is what makes him an author-hero in my mind.

If you like books that challenge you to use your imagination, and which are not afraid to step into several genres at once, mixing time-travel with Ms. Havisham,  a nice werewolf detective who will help with literary crimes, and Shakespeare, all the while teaching you about the dangers that “Adjectivores” and other “Grammasites” can and do cause to our language (if you text, you’ve seen the damage!) I encourage you to read, nay, devour all of his novels. I have, and am ready to re-read some as I wait impatiently for the next ones to be published.

And, if you ever get a chance to attend one of his speaking engagements, as I did this week, do yourself a favor and go. He is a dynamic, charismatic and entertaining speaker, every bit as fun and thought-provoking as his novels. Meanwhile, check out his website  and enjoy this genius who lives and walks among us.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like my series of novels, Bueno, Sinco and Brujas, which takes place in Santander, Spain.

Share Button

Harvey and Elul

Front cover Sinco26In Jewish tradition, this month before the High Holy Days is called Elul. It is a time of reflection, a time to think about the past year, ponder manners in which one may have “missed the mark” and which one now regrets. Harvey Jones, the main character in my debut series, the Cantabria American School novels, is a Jewish man, although he considers himself an ethnic Jew, i.e. not one to go to services regularly or follow all of the rules.

He is a complex, flawed and endearing character, one who is dealing with grief (his beloved brother Sammy was killed accidentally by the terrorist group, ETA) and with the anger and disapproval that his father laid heavily upon him as a child.

He is also struggling to manage the group of disgruntled employees, difficult teachers, at his present school in northern Spain, where he is a foreigner.

In the second book of the trilogy, Sinco, Harvey has made a bad mistake—he neglected (procrastinated to his detriment) telling his girlfriend, Carmen, about an important event from his past and she (quite understandably) feels betrayed when she finds out from others.

Under these trying circumstances, when Harvey is feeling anguished by the thought of possibly losing her, the love of his life, his Judaic teachings surface and his apology is rendered more solid as a result.

Here is an excerpt from the scene, after he had spent quite a bit of time telling her the entire story:

Carmen, it was so wrong of me not to tell you sooner,” he whispered.

     She nodded.

     “And I can see how, if you only heard part of the story, you must have thought me a monster…”

     She nodded again.

     “Do you…do you think you could ever forgive me?”

     Carmen looked up at him, but kept her arms folded. “Bueno, Harvey, I am not sure…relationships take trust, and you have not shown me that you trust me.”

     Harvey held her eyes. “It was really wrong of me not to trust you. I was frightened that I wouldn’t be able to explain it…but I really did mean to tell you, eventually. I thought about doing it several times but there never seemed to be a good time to talk about something so awful…but that’s not an excuse. Look, in Judaism, when someone makes a mistake, a really bad one like this one, they teach that you can only be truly forgiven once you are faced with a similar set of circumstances and then make a different and better decision the next time around.”

 Carmen looked at him doubtfully.

     “So, say for example,” said Harvey, rushing to make his point, “I walk by a fruit stand and there’s this beautiful apple and I’m hungry and I don’t happen to have any money on me and the shop keeper isn’t watching so I steal the apple. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t cut it. I can, and should, pay the shop owner for the apple that I stole, and that helps, but even then, I’m not truly forgiven. But if the next time and the time after that and so on, when I walk by the stand and I’m hungry and I don’t have money and he’s not watching, I still don’t steal the apple, then I’m forgiven.”

     Carmen nodded and continued looking at him.

     “What I stole, Carmen, was far more valuable than an apple,” said Harvey, his voice quavering. “I…I stole your trust in me, and it was a particularly bad thing to steal when your heart had already been broken by the circumstances of losing Javier. But please, Carmen, I’m begging you with all my heart, please give me another chance. I promise that I will never be this stupid about not telling you things that you should know in advance. Oh, Carmen, I love you so much, and these last several days, thinking I…that I had lost you, they’ve been the worst days of my life. It’s been absolute hell. My dearest, sweet Carmen. Please say you’ll give me another chance.”

I’ve not added any more of the scene as I don’t want to spoil the book. What do you think? Have you ever hurt anyone by omission? Are there people to whom you’d like to apologize and don’t know how or when to do so?

If you enjoyed this blog post you might also like my series of novels, Bueno, Sinco and Brujas, which takes place in Santander, Spain.

Share Button

Brujas newsflash

Wordle: Brujas WordleOne of the fun things you can do is play around using the words you’ve slaved over for so many years and plug them into a program called Wordle, which will mix them up and represent them in randomly colored shapes based on word-count. So, in honor of autumn, which is upon us with its lovely colors and cooler weather, and in commemoration of the start of a new school year, I created this Wordle using a chunk of text from Brujas. What do you think?

I also wanted to announce that Brujas, the third and final novel of the Cantabria American School trilogy, will be released in paperback form on September 1st and in Kindle (which is currently available to pre-order from the Kindle store) on September 8th, 2014. As you can see from this Wordle, Harvey plays a prominent role in the narrative, as do Tom, Sonia, Sherice and Cindy. Can you guess what else is going on from the words you see?

Preliminary reviews by early readers of this book are saying that they love the series and that Brujas is the best one yet. Let me know what you think!

This is a perfect book for any educators in your life!


If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like my series of novels, Bueno, Sinco and Brujas, which takes place in Santander, Spain.

Share Button

Thank you, Lauren Sapala!

Salamanca art

Salamanca art: Lauren often uses images of murals in her blog posts, so in her honor, here’s a mural in Salamanca, Spain.

Knock me over with a feather! I’ve got a wonderful success story to share with you today.

It begins late in 2013, during the final stages of writing The Cantabria American School series. The editor I had hired had sent me a huge list of issues that needed to be addressed, (rightly so), providing me with no less than 17 pages of comments and suggestions, and I had been slogging my way through them. In addition, I had decided to take my 700+page manuscript and break it into three books. That meant that each novel needed a separate story arc, characters needed to be developed more fully, and I needed to create more beginnings and endings than I had originally intended.

I was exhausted and discouraged, and even though I’d dedicated more than 5 1/2 years to writing this series, I felt like I was never going to be a published writer. Even more distressing was the fact that a friend of mine who is a successful writer gently suggested that I should go back to working in what I was trained to do and give up writing. The tasks ahead seemed completely unattainable and I was ready to walk away, throw in the towel, and forget about my dream of becoming a writer.

That’s when I stumbled upon Lauren Sapala’s blogs. Lauren is a writer and a writing coach based in San Francisco, and her posts were nothing short of a miracle for me. Posts such as “Why You Finishing Your Novel is Exactly What the World Needs” and a slew of others began to brighten my days. Lauren is a terrific writer and over the weeks and months as I continued to read her posts, hungrily digging through the archives, I became inspired to keep going and finish the task. Her blog is a treasure trove for writers: there are posts that address specific issues to do with characters or plot, and others more about life in general for writers and the special demons in the heads of all writers (not just mine!) Her blog is wealth of ideas and inspiration and I continue to greatly admire and benefit from her insightful writing.

I managed to complete Bueno and publish it, and then last month I published the second novel in the series, Sinco. Now, as I put the finishing touches on Brujas, the third one, I can honestly say that Lauren Sapala is a huge part of the reason I was able to keep going and finish writing these novels.

One day about a month ago I decided to reach out to her: I wrote to her, introducing myself and thanking her for inspiring me. I had been reading her posts constantly for six months now, and even though she didn’t know me, I was beginning to feel like she was a friend, always there with another cheerful and expertly presented blog post dealing with the craft of writing. In the middle of my e-mail, I became brave and decided to ask if she wouldn’t mind reviewing Bueno, a creation which she had been so instrumental in inspiring me to complete. I figured that most likely she wouldn’t answer me—after all, she has over 17,000 followers on Twitter, and over a thousand friends on Goodreads. Her whole life is about writers, all of whom are more well-known than me. Surely my little request would be one of a million and she would not have time to look at. I drafted my note to her about ten times, and read it to my husband over and over again before I finally pressed the “send” button.

And here’s the part where things began to turn surreal: first, she wrote back to me! It was a cheerful answer, much as her blog posts are.

Second, she agreed to read Bueno. I was over the moon just anticipating her taking a look at my creation, wringing my hands in worry that she’d not like it or find it sub-par, and wondering if I’d done the right thing in asking her to read it.

Then the third surprise came: she gave it five stars, calling it a “hidden gem”! It was a dream come true! And even If I do say so myself, it’s a terrific review, thoughtful, thorough and kind. Click here to read it.

So that’s my story of a miracle in my little corner of the universe! I hope that you too, dear reader, find miracles in the form of helpful souls like Lauren Sapala in your life, and if you do, please share your story–I’d love to read it!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like my series of novels, Bueno, Sinco and Brujas, which takes place in Santander, Spain.

Share Button

Load more