The magic inside the writing process

By Nora Vasconcelos

I should say that I’ve written all my life, even before I knew how to write. I remember myself creating all sort of stories that I used to share with other little kids. Some years later, pen and paper came in handy to see what my stories would look like when expressed with written words.

It was from my teenager years that my first children’s book, Pequeñas Fantasías (Spanish for Small Fantasies) came to live. Of course, it took some time to put it together, and by then I had already become a journalist.

Writing the news became my everyday work, while creative writing remained as my ever faithful companion. Taking advantage of every spare moment, I kept on writing all sort of stories.

And it’s now that my writing brings me here, to this Blog Tour, a very interesting and dynamic way to interact with writers and bloggers from around the world. For this honor I want to thank Trish Nicholson, who invited me to be part of it.

Trish likes to share her traveling, reading and writing experiences in her blog:

Last week she answered these questions about her writing process, now it’s my turn:

1) What am I working on?

As a journalist, I’m always writing news related stories, which I find really interesting because it keeps me up to date with what’s happening around the world.

As a writer, I keep on creating short stories, some for children, some others closer to adventure and science fiction, this last one a genre I love both writing and reading. Mystery, on the other hand, keeps escaping from my pen (computer, I should say), although I truly love reading suspense and I keep juggling some mystery / suspense ideas for a couple of fictional stories.

Also, a long project has kept my attention for several years now, as my first romance novel is still “in the oven”, now much closer to be ready than some time ago. About this, I’d like to say that even though it’s taken a long time, I’ve enjoyed deeply the writing process, coming up with all sort of ideas and situations for my characters has been really enjoyable.

Writing about my traveling expiriences is also something I keep on doing, with the idea that one day it’ll become a book.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It never ceases to amaze me the magic that comes from words used in creative writing, this allows writers to create new worlds, lives and destinations, ideas that they share with their readers, who, have also the liberty of recreating such imaginary realms in their own minds.

What I admire about journalism is the immense reach that words can have, it’s thanks to them that both, difficult and fantastic true stories are discovered and shown to the world.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because I don’t picture my life without it. Writing just comes naturally to me, either if it’s a feature piece or a short story or if it’s in Spanish or in English, I just love doing it and I’m really happy when I’m doing it.

4) How does my writing process work?

This is quite an interesting question. Research and traveling are key parts of it. Either if it’s a feature piece or a short story, I like to create writing pieces that relate to my readers. To do it so, I like to capture moments that feel real.

Whether it’s fiction or non fiction, I keep working on the story even when I’m not physically writing. Of course, long hours in front of the computer are required, but taking breaks is also essential for me to go over the story in my head and see if the focus is the one I want to present and if I’m truly communicating what I want with my writing.

Exchanging points of view with family, friends and other writers, even if they are far away, is always something I enjoy deeply, as I’m always looking forward to learning from other people.

And, as part of this wonderful experience of exchanging ideas with people around the world, let me introduce you to these very talented writers:

Not tuscan pic
Nancy and John Petralia retired to the New Jersey shore and took Italian lessons. And they dreamed…of living in Italy. When they decided to make that dream a reality it was the start of the best year of their lives–and a story they wanted to share in a book the they titled Not in a Tuscan Villa.

Nancy Petralia grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will forever be a Steelers fan. Always moving eastward, she landed in Philadelphia where she met John. Born on Broad Street not far from where the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers play their trades, a graduate of three local schools, it’s hard to imagine anyone more Philadelphian than John. He taught her about good olives, opera, tennis and Italian cooking. She taught him about Irish stew and having a dog. Together they started a book club that’s met every month for 20 years.

Their blog:


Janet Webb
: I grew up reading and loving to write, although I could never have imagined being a blogger, as computers were the size of a room and Al Gore had yet to invent the internet. I enjoy the social part of blogging, too, and love meeting blogging friends in person. Travel is a favorite pastime and a book about the trip to New Zealand my husband and I are planning in late 2015 sounds as though it might be a good project.

My blog is “This, That and The Other Thing” at

William Rasoanaivo
has spent most of his life expressing himself in Malagasy, French and English, always through cartoons, a means of communication that “Pov” (his pen name) has mastered to tell stories through drawings and just a few words.

He illustrated the book The Story of Mauritius as told to my grandchildren, as well as my own book Pequeñas Fantasías. He also has been awarded with several international prices such as the third place in the World Press cartoon 2010 Award, and an honorable mention granted by the United Nations Correspondents Association Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award 2005.

His blog:

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Weekly Photo: Monument

By Nora Vasconcelos

Monument by NVS

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Flavours that make us happy

By Nora Vasconcelos

coverIf you love natural ingredients, but you also like fresh tasty food, Homemade Condiments is a book that will bring a whole new life to your table.

As it’s quoted in the introducción, “condiments are like old friends, highly thought of, but often taken for granted”, so, it’s almost impossible to picture our lives with out them, but we often think of them as products we always can get from the supermarket.

To change this, Jessica Harlan developed this book to offer the readers the chance to prepare their own ketchups, salad dressings, mayonnaises, and so many more delicious condiments, all prepared with fresh natural ingredients, some of which people usually already have in their own pantries.

“Making your own condiments is easy and fun”, says Jessica as she explains that some of the advantages of preparing them at home is that these can be customized with ingredients that create flavors according to different tastes and needs.

“It’s also fun“, she says, as there’s a special satisfaction on sharing them with family and friends, either they come home for a meal, or if you give them as presents.

To help everybody to prepare their own condiments, this book published by Ulysses Press, presents recipes that go from different kinds of ketchups, mustards and mayonnaises, to essential sauces for barbecues and other dishes, infused oils and vinegars and salad dressings.

chipotle 1
chipotle 2

It also presents different forms to prepare pickles and relishes, hot sauces and salsas, ethnic and specialty condiments, and sweet sauces and spreeds, for the ones who love desserts.

Tomato 1
Tomato 2

At the end of the book, the author offers advice on how to preserve and can the condiments, as well as how to prepare the containers as gifts.

* All images courtesy of Ulysses Press

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Weekly Photo: Street life

By Nora Vasconcelos

Street Life by NVS

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The evolution of books

By Nora Vasconcelos

LibraryA few months ago it was announce that the first bookless library had been opened in Texas, USA. This news find a place almost everywhere and it was showed as a spectacular innovation, a sign of the future, but what does it mean for the publishing industry and the printed editions?

Such library, is located in Bexar County, near the city of San Antonio, and it’s name says more about how it works than anything else: The BiblioTech serves the readers through computer screens and it contains no books at all.

The story about this bookless library brought immediately to my mind some of the articles written by the American author Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992), who predicted in his essay The Ultimate Library that at some point in the future “everything in libraries would be digitalized and people could reach any book just by connecting to a personal gadget”.

However, it’s the same Asimov who said that, even with all the advantages of a Global Computerized Library that will contain all the knowledge of books around the world, “this wouldn’t be end the publishing business, it only would transform it“.

It’s this last statement that made me think about the way libraries and bookstores have faced the changes in the book industry in the past 15 years, from the economical crises to the boom in sales of ebooks, issues that have made dealers and librarians rethink their strategies.

For the libraries the challenge is to acquire new equipments that allow them to offer visitor a digitalized experience as well as the regular one. The advantage of digital editions is that it reduces the damages that books suffer while being lent several times to different people, the disadvantage is that economical resources are not always available for libraries, specially because most of them are public and depend on governmental grants.

As for bookstores, the popularity of ebooks has leave them in a complete disadvantage as they’ve lost many customers, specially the younger ones who are more likely to buy e-books.

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), the total share of ebooks in the trade market increased from 0.6 percent in 2008 to 6.4 percent in 2010, this from a total market of 114 million units sold in 2010.

This combined with the problems in the economy, caused that many book dealers, small and big ones, had to close down their business or merge. So in the past decades we’ve seen cases like Borders disappearing under the Barnes and Noble umbrella.

As for the small or medium size bookstores, about 1% of them have closed down in the US during the first decade of this century, leaving the States with some 10,000 units, after over 1,000 have gone under in this country.

The disappearing of so many bookstores concerns not only the owners, it also worries authors such as James Patterson, who announced a few weeks ago that he would donate $1 million dollars of his personal fortune to 55 independent bookshop around the US.

In a statement, Patterson said that ‘bookstores are vital to communities and that they leave a lasting love of reading in children and adults‘.

Regarding the readers, they hold split opinions, from the ones who swear they never leave their printed editions to the ones who have e-readers with digital editions.

What holds the future for the book business is still an open question. Industry experts have also divided opinions, but the general consensus seems to be that the e-book publishing business will keep growing, but the printed editions will remain current.

Many readers benefit from both of them, as they still enjoy the experience of holding a printed book on their hands, turning the pages, smelling them, listening to them as they move, and keep the reading at their own pace without worrying if the e-reader will turn off or if it’ll run out of batteries.

These readers are the ones that remain faithful to bookstores where they can wander around, look at the shelves, and enjoy the experience of buying a book while having that relaxing experience that is only provided by bookstores.

On the other hand, some readers find in e-readers a useful tool which give them freedom, specially while traveling, because they can have at hand hundreds of e-books in a very light and small device.

For them the options are ample, either if they have a e-reader or a tablet, the access to the e-book market is easy and fast.

So, for all concerned, the challenge is in the air, bookstore owners keep looking for creative ways to adjust their business to this new era, either with café style additions and dedicated services according to the needs of their customers; the publishing industry keeps trying to attend the versatile demand of this two sectors, the same as public libraries.

However, in the end, it seems that the reader will have the last word once they’ve defined their preferences and have decided which world (the printed or the digital one) fits them better, or if they prefer, as many do, to navigate in both of them.

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Weekly Photo: Inside

By Nora Vasconcelos

Inside by NVS

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Words covered with chocolate

By Nora Vasconcelos

Chocolate by NVSBeing a chocolate lover, I always enjoy reading books and stories that talk about chocolate, either if they are fiction or talk about a real experience. This is the case of Food, glorious food, written by Trish Nicholson or her blog Words in the Tree House.

The post is a delightful piece that takes the readers to the streets of Petone, New Zeland, where several stores master the art of chocolate and tempt people to try their several creations.

After reading this story, I immediately started thinking about how the written word has the power to make our minds travel to different places and our senses perceive aromas and smells that are not actually there, but only in the realm of our memories.

In this case, the sweet smell of chocolate combined in my mind with the relaxing experience of being wondering in a foreign town while being amazed by the varieties of chocolates created by true artists.

It also came to my mind some of the posts I’ve written myself where I connect chocolate and books, and recall literary pieces that talk about the wonders of chocolate with historical, and sometimes fictional, stories about how much this brownish (and some times white or milky) delicatessen has transformed the world with its flavor, texture, smell and form.

After all, as Charles M. Shulz once said “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”.

White chocolate truffles by David Leggett

White_chocolate_truffles by David Leggett

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