12 Dec

Interview by BooksOnTheRange.blogspot.com


http://booksontherange.blogspot.com/2013/12/author-interview-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

 

Author Interview – Arthur J. Gonzalez @arthurjgonzalez

 

 

What scares you the most? Dying prematurely and/or dying without leaving something meaningful behind. Something that I can be remembered by. And before I am able to set my family up for a worry/stress-free life. Everything I do is fueled by the ambition I have to one day call my mom and sisters and tell them, “Quit your job. I’ve made it. And so have you.” After my Pops died, I promised him I’d care for the family. And I can’t/won’t stop until I know I’ve accomplished that.

What makes you happiest? Being with family and friends.

What’s your greatest character strength? I would have to say that I am very thoughtful and genuine. I think this has allowed me to relate to the majority of people I come across. I always treat the other with respect and I make a concerted effort at making others feel appreciated and comfortable.

What’s your weakest character trait? I’m impatient as hell! I want results right away. Sometimes I have to take a breather and remember that a majority of the experience is in the journey.

Why do you write? It comes natural to me. I imagine all the different results that may generate from my stories.  Maybe I inspire one person, maybe I motivate another, or maybe I just help entertain someone’s boredom streak. All these reasons make me feel like I have a greater purpose to fill. And we all want to have a greater purpose.

Have you always enjoyed writing? Yeap! I’d write stories as a child and draw illustrations to match them up. During my middle school and high school years I focused more on songwriting and poetry. It was around my Freshman year of college at UF, where I started putting my ideas into story format. Then it became an obsession.

Who is your favorite author? I’m really enjoying John Green.  I love his style of writing and distinct voice he has.

What book should everybody read at least once? I think everyone should read the Hunger Games series and Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Is there any books you really don’t enjoy? Eek! I’ll sit this one out. I may not enjoy someone’s particular story, but I understand that they put tremendous effort into bringing it to life. I wouldn’t want to take from that. It becomes their baby – and I wouldn’t tell someone their baby is ugly!

 

Photo Traveler

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Arthur J. Gonzalez on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.arthurjgonzalez.com/



19 Sep

Author Spotlight Shines on Arthur Gonzalez


http://www.aspiringbook.com/2013/09/author-spotlight-shines-on-arthur.html

Author Spotlight Shines on Arthur Gonzalez

Tell us about your latest book.
THE PHOTO TRAVELER is about a 17-year-old teen, Gavin Hillstone, whom discovers his ability to time travel through photos and images.
THE PHOTO TRAVELER was created after one of the most important individuals in my life lost his grandmother. He was looking at an old black and white photo and said, “I would do anything to jump into this photo.” In that moment the idea came to me. I thought, Oh my god. What if we could?
Can you imagine having the ability to time travel to and revisit old memories or moments in time!?  AMAZING!
So I developed the story line for my main character, which ends up traveling to distinct periods in history (The Great Depression and The Salem Witch Trials) for certain answers, and has this fierce, radical group of European Photo Travelers after him (called The Peace Hunters).
What’s your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
We are each given a gift my God. It is up to us to determine what that is. What we do with this gift, is our gift back.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
There are no limits. There’s no right or wrong way. If you have a story to tell, no one can tell you that you are wrong. No idea is too over-the-top. On the contrary, the bigger the idea, the better!
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
They can go to my personal website: www.arthurjgonzalez.com.  They can also sign up to my mailing list under the CONTACT tab.  Also, any one can visit THE PHOTO TRAVELER official website: www.thephototravelerbook.com.
Twitter: ArthurJGonzalez
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m working on the sequel to The Photo Traveler, titled The Peace Hunter. I cannot express how excited I am about this book! This story takes off in directions I, myself, could not believe!
My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.
On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.
The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.
My young adult superhero series, tentatively titled LADY ELEMENT (a series meant to break passed the typical male superhero mold, by focusing on a female main character, Charlee, who has developed her abilities to summon the elements. She is on the hunt for her scientist parents whom she discovers have been kidnapped by an underground governmental program, designed to create new strands of diseases for population control.
Charlee suffers from body dysmorphia, has a hunky gay best friend, and in a matter of words…is quite fierce.).
The third novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.
They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization.  But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.
And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern
take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist.
What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world?
Photo Traveler
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author and the book
Connect with Arthur J. Gonzalez on Facebook & Twitter


09 Sep

Interview by www.writersandauthors.blogspot.com


http://writersandauthors.blogspot.com/2013/09/interview-with-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

Interview with Arthur J. Gonzalez

Posted by Jo Linsdell at 7:00 AM

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
You know, I think it’s something that I was always aware I’d love to do. I just never believed I could make a career out of it, so it was off of radar. I did it for the joy of the creation, and the peace it brought me. I would write songs and poetry even in the third grade.
But then, I decided to give it a shot. I thought, life is too short, and why can’t I do it? Why can’t that be me? I was the only person holding myself back.
Once I acknowledged that, I went for it. And I couldn’t be any more ecstatic by the feedback. I’m hooked!
What genre do you write and why?
I enjoy writing Young Adult novels the most. I think, deep inside, I’m still a teen at heart. But above all, I feel that I have certain perspective and voice to my writing that connects to the YA audience. It’s some of my favorite feedback coming from the YA community.

Tell us about your latest book.

THE PHOTO TRAVELER is about a 17-year-old teen, Gavin Hillstone, whom discovers his ability to time travel through photos and images.
THE PHOTO TRAVELER was created after one of the most important individuals in my life lost his grandmother. He was looking at an old black and white photo and said, “I would do anything to jump into this photo.” In that moment the idea came to me. I thought, Oh my god. What if we could?
 
Can you imagine having the ability to time travel to and revisit old memories or moments in time!?  AMAZING!
So I developed the story line for my main character, which ends up traveling to distinct periods in history (The Great Depression and The Salem Witch Trials) for certain answers, and has this fierce, radical group of European Photo Travelers after him (called The Peace Hunters). Click here for more details about the book.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I am involved in loads of social media. I am very active on certain platforms for authors, such as Wattpad, which is primarily geared towards the YA community. And I host as many giveaways as possible too!
What formats is the book available in?
Currently THE PHOTO TRAVELER is available in all eBook formats and paperback.
Arthur J. Gonzalez
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I’m pretty big of forming memories. 
 
Who are your favourite authors?
I’m really enjoying John Green.  I love his style of writing and distinct voice he has.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Success does not come overnight. It takes hard work. If you want it, you must first define your own interpretation of success and be willing to work relentlessly towards it.
What’s your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
We are each given a gift my God. It is up to us to determine what that is. What we do with this gift, is our gift back. 
 
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
There are no limits. There’s no right or wrong way. If you have a story to tell, no one can tell you that you are wrong. No idea is too over-the-top. On the contrary, the bigger the idea, the better!
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
They can go to my personal website: www.arthurjgonzalez.com.  They can also sign up to my mailing list under the CONTACT tab.  Also, any one can visit THE PHOTO TRAVELER official website: www.thephototravelerbook.com.
Twitter: ArthurJGonzalez
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m working on the sequel to The Photo Traveler, titled The Peace Hunter. I cannot express how excited I am about this book! This story takes off in directions I, myself, could not believe!
My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.
On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.
The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.
My young adult superhero series, tentatively titled LADY ELEMENT (a series meant to break passed the typical male superhero mold, by focusing on a female main character, Charlee, who has developed her abilities to summon the elements. She is on the hunt for her scientist parents whom she discovers have been kidnapped by an underground governmental program, designed to create new strands of diseases for population control. Charlee suffers from body dysmorphia, has a hunky gay best friend, and in a matter of words…is quite fierce).
The third novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.
They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization.  But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.
And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist.
What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world?


09 Sep

Interview by www.book-connoisseur.com


http://www.book-connoisseur.com/2013/09/author-interview-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? Dead: Walt Disney.  Alive: Beyonce (Only if she promised to perform though)

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? I love me my sleep. But if not, you’ll find me reading or going out for a run.

Do you have any tips on how writers can relax? Success does not come overnight. It takes hard work. If you want it, you must first define your own interpretation of success and be willing to work relentlessly towards it.

How often do you write? And when do you write? EVERY day. The time depends, but I prefer to in the morning or afternoon.

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it –

What keeps you going? There’s this little voice in my head that nags at me constantly; reminding me that every moment I’m not writing, is time I am wasting off a best sellers list. ;)

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? I hope they feel inspired or motivated. And if not, I’d at least like them to feel entertained and/or intrigued.

What movie do you love to watch? Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire – hands down! ::face in a pie:: “Heeeelllloooooo!!”

What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up? Human rights/Equality. I believe every human being should be afforded the right to live the life they feel they were meant to (so long as they are not inflicting harm on others!) It drives me crazy, the emphasis people place on what other’s do. WHO CARES!

Photo Traveler



02 Sep

Interviewed by Gentlemanreads.blogspot.com


http://gentlemanreads.blogspot.com/2013/08/author-interview-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

Author Interview – Arthur J. Gonzalez

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? For me I have a habit of writing multiple stories at the same time. So it’s easy for me to forget the small details. But these small details are just as important as the huge issues because they are essential to the character you create.  Even with real people, it’s the little details that make us who we are and differentiate one person from the other.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? It proved to me that I could do it. That I was capable of anything I genuinely pour my heart and soul into. That goes a long way.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I sure hope so!

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Oh yea. Its not that I go blank completely, it’s that sometimes I go nuts because I don’t think a certain idea is good enough. Usually, I go running outside and my mind becomes fluid and ideas come easily to me.

Can you tell us about your main character? Gavin is a character consumed by guilt and self-hate. But at the core of him is a naturally nurturing person who only wants to be a part of something.

Will you write others in this same genre? Yeap. I’m writing three separate YA series as we speak.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Never give up. Never ease your hope. At some point, we ALL find our way.

What contributes to making a writer successful? I think a successful writer needs to know their audience and connect with their readers. On a technical side, a writer should feel confident about their work, but also be flexible and open to suggestions.



28 Aug

Some Fun Q&A With ME!


http://unbiasedbooks.blogspot.com/2013/08/author-interview-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

 

Author Interview – Arthur J. Gonzalez

What movie do you love to watch? Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire – hands down! ::face in a pie:: “Heeeelllloooooo!!”

What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up? Human rights/Equality. I believe every human being should be afforded the right to live the life they feel they were meant to (so long as they are not inflicting harm on others!) It drives me crazy, the emphasis people place on what other’s do. WHO CARES!

What makes you angry? Ignorant people.

What’s your most embarrassing moment of your life? Ouch. I have so many. I am soooo clumsy and a major goofball.  Just the other day I was in the car singing my lungs off – but I mean, busting out –parked in my car. When I was done, I turned to catch a car full of teens laughing at me.

What does love mean to you? Everything I do is powered by love. Everything everyone does should be powered by love.

What social issues interest you the most? Human Rights

Who do you admire? Walt Disney

What is your favorite quality about yourself? Loyalty

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Paris (so far!)



23 Aug

Interview Time by Dreaming Pages


http://dreamingpages.blogspot.com/2013/08/author-interview-arthur-j-gonzalez.html

 

Author Interview – Arthur J. Gonzalez

Tell us a bit about your family. I have the most amazing family on the planet. I have amazing uncles, aunts, cousins, and step dad. But at the very core of what keeps me going, are my Pops, sisters (LeiLei and Stephy), my mom, and my grandparents (Mima and Pipo). These individuals have not only taught me what true family is, but they act on this very belief every second of every day. I do not know what I would do without them and I am bathing in the riches of the blessings we share together.

My Pops passed away from a sudden heart-attack when he was 48 years old (6 years ago). Yes – it forever changed my life. He is with me every day, and his passing is what inspired me to follow my dreams and never want to cease any attempt at it.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? This has been my biggest obstacle. I’ve had to really fight through my insecurities and not allow them to stop me in my quest for publishing success. There’re always the “This sounds like crap” or “this isn’t good enough” thoughts, but I’ve learned that a lot of times, the best thing to do is take a step back and then return to it. Often this has allowed me to return with a new, fresh perspective; and a lot of the time I find that what I wrote was actually pretty damn good.

We’ll always be our worst enemy when it comes to criticism.

What scares you the most? Dying prematurely and/or dying without leaving something meaningful behind. Something that I can be remembered by. And before I am able to set my family up for a worry/stress-free life. Everything I do is fueled by the ambition I have to one day call my mom and sisters and tell them, “Quit your job. I’ve made it. And so have you.” After my Pops died, I promised him I’d care for the family. And I can’t/won’t stop until I know I’ve accomplished that.

What makes you happiest? Being with family and friends.

What’s your greatest character strength? I would have to say that I am very thoughtful and genuine. I think this has allowed me to relate to the majority of people I come across. I always treat the other with respect and I make a concerted effort at making others feel appreciated and comfortable.

Photo Traveler

Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father.

Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.”

Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.

When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it.

He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!

His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.

For Gavin, life will never be the same.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Arthur J. Gonzalez on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.arthurjgonzalez.com/



17 Aug

Interview time: Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before


http://www.ravinaandreakurian.com/2013/08/arthur-j-gonzalez-things-i-wish-i-knew.html

Arthur J. Gonzalez – Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before

Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before

by Arthur J. Gonzalez

1. Editing takes up the bulk of the process

So… you finished your first draft. It appears to be nearly perfect. You send it over to your editor, anticipating some minor revisions.

WRONG!

A good editor will dig into the levels of your book you may have never thought of. This is an absolutely vital part to the writing process. You are challenged and because of it, you will evolve into a masterful writer.

This phase, for me, is the longest and most essential. So don’t get your hopes up and don’t get discouraged. It is for the better of your story (and longevity of your career), and your readers will love you for it.

2. The author is at the forefront of all marketing (Yes, even traditionally published authors – unless you have a Hunger Games).

You will read countless articles on how writers dread the marketing process, but it shouldn’t be. This is a vital step that allows you to connect and retain control over your fan base. Even traditionally published authors are the conductors of their marketing campaigns.

3.The Pros and Cons of all Print On Demand Companies

If you are a first time author, you will be very tempted to believe any gimmick thrown out you. And that’s okay. You want the best for your baby, and you are determined to get it on the market as soon as possible.

But take the time, beforehand, to research all the different companies. Learn the pros and cons of each. Research what others have experienced. There is a plethora of information on the internet by authors who have been in similar positions, who are voicing their wonderful or horrible experiences.

Along the way, we all learn from our past experiences, so take advantage of others’ journeys and use it to pave your own path.

4.Set Up a Mailing List BEFORE Your Book is Out

I do not know WHY I Didn’t think this was important before I released my first novel. I concentrated on everything social media platform, but completely bypassed a Mailing List – Which I have finally done.

This is a wonderful (and essential) way to compound your fan base and keep in contact with some of your very first fans.

Tip: I used MailChimp. Easy and FREE (unless you’d like to upgrade)

5. Set Up Giveaways where Interested Readers Must Sign Up to your Mailing List

Giveaways are an outstanding way (especially on Goodreads and Blog Tours) to attract visibility to your book. By using free online programs such as Rafflecopter, you can even assign mandatory actions (such as Liking your FB page, or signing up to your Mailing List) in order for someone to officially enter the giveaway.

Tip: Be creative with giveaways too. Don’t just give away eBooks. Give away signed copies with special gift bags and customized letters.

6.Don’t go Banner Ad Buying Happy

Pretty self -explanatory. I bought ad space on every website possible. And I’m not going to say that it wasn’t effective, but for my first novel, I think I could have been a bit more strategic and held out on all the money I shelled out on banner Ads. I don’t believe the value in the end result outweighed the amount of funds I put into it.

There’s a right time and a wrong time for these things. Same with a PR company. You may not necessarily need this the first time around. Wait until you have two or three published books under your belt, and capitalize on your investment.

7. Read as Much as You Can.

Read, read, read! Pick up on the things you like and dislike in other writers. See how certain author’s works are being reviewed. Is there something they’re doing that you may not be?

8. Grow Thick Skin. Not Everyone Will Love Your Book.

This is the jagged pill you will have to learn to swallow. BUT if you train yourself from now to be realistic, then not all is lost. We don’t live in a perfect world, and your story or writing style may not appeal to every reader it comes across. Don’t let this bring you down. Uncover the silver lining. Try and derive the message of that bad review. What was it they didn’t like? Is this something that you can learn from? Possibly use for your future works? Trust me, there is good in everything. There’s a grand, important message there if you allow yourself to see it.

9. CONTROL YOUR FATE. LEARN ALL YOU CAN:

Read Up on Self-Publishing/Conventional Publishing, but be organized about it, or you will go crazy. There is so much information out there. Enough that will literally lead you to a nervous breakdown. But fear not – You will get through this! Just stay organized.

I printed and highlighted almost everything I read. Then I organized it neatly in a binder, with tabs to categorize the topics. BIG HELP!

10. Become Very Involved in a Blog/Forum/Group Discussion Board/Website where your targeted reader group is heavily concentrated.

This is a great way to connect with your direct readers. When readers feel like they can actually interact with you, it goes a long way. They feel connected to you. This connection will lead to higher sales, because these readers will feel motivated to market you to their friends or followers.

11. Blog Tours are your Friend!

I cannot tell you how essential blogger are. Their websites are hubs for your direct readership base. Bloggers have become the heart of the publishing industry, with major publishers relying on their reviews and fan-base.

Find a blog tour company that has the resources to setup a tour for your book. They will design a banner to market your tour, and with this, several blog websites (that market to your reader demographic) will sign up (if they find your novel interesting). The bloggers will decide whether they’d like to review your book, interview you, host a giveaway, or have you draft a guest post for the day you are featured on their site. In my opinion, this is the BEST way to reach your core reader group.

And an FYI – these are probably the periods where you would want to strategically price your novel and couple your marketing efforts. Just sayin’! J

To find out even more, ask additional questions, and/or sign up to my mailing list for up-to-date information, exclusive reads, cover reveals, and special giveaways, go here:

www.arthurjgonzalez.com/contact

 

Photo Traveler

Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father.

Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.”

Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.

When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it.

He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!

His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.

For Gavin, life will never be the same.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Arthur J. Gonzalez on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.arthurjgonzalez.com/



15 Aug

‘Mom With A Kindle’ asks Me Some Interesting Questions . . .


http://momwithakindle.blogspot.com/2013/08/one-day-blitz-interview-excerpt-photo.html

Arthur
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
To photo travel, of course! 😉 Okay, okay! I would actually choose to teleport. If I could, I’d take us to do this interview in Paris of Greece.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I’ve had people all over the world tell me how much they’ve enjoyed The Photo Traveler, and how it’s become their favorite book. It was  something I could only dream of hearing.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. You will become infatuated by Gavin’s epic journey!
Favorite food?
 I loooooovvvee Mexican and Mediterranean food. AND CHOCOLATE!
What book are reading now?
YA novel, The 5th Wave
What’s your favorite season/weather?
I love California weather. When the sun is out, accompanied by a light breeze, and zero humidity.
What was your favorite children’s book?
 I really loved the ‘Frog and Toad are Friends’ book.
Beach or Pool?
Hm, that’s a tough one. Buuuuut, I was raised on beautiful Miami beaches, so I’ll always love the beach.
What is one book everyone should read?
 The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m working on the sequel to The Photo Traveler, titled The Peace Hunter. I cannot express how excited I am about this book! This story takes off in directions I, myself, could not believe!
  My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.
  On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.
  The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.
    My young adult superhero series, tentatively titled LADY ELEMENT (a series meant to break passed the typical male superhero mold, by focusing on a female main character, Charlee, who has developed her abilities to summon the elements. She is on the hunt for her scientist parents whom she discovers have been kidnapped by an underground governmental program, designed to create new strands of diseases for population control. Charlee suffers from body dysmorphia, has a hunky gay best friend, and in a matter of words…is quite fierce.).
  The third novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.
  They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization.  But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.
  And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist.
 What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world?
WOW!! You are a little busy! Can’t wait to read some of those. They sound great! Thanks for being here today and sharing a little about yourself and what you have planned for the future. :)

THE PHOTO TRAVELER is young adult author Arthur J. Gonzalez’s first novel. Arthur was born and raised in Miami surrounded by his loud Cuban family. He graduated from the University of Florida, where he acquired his coffee obsession and his chocolate hoarding antics. He’s the proud father of one baby girl, Sookie–his miniature schnoodle dog. Arthur is a self-professed goofball who spends 98% of his life laughing. He’s now working on his second novel.



15 Aug

5 Star Review by Deb Sanders! Wahoooo! ;)


http://debsanders.com/2013/08/15/the-photo-traveler-a-novel-youll-read-time-after-time/

REVIEW:

“The Photo Traveler” by Arthur J.Gonzalez takes a unique spin on time travel and wraps it up in a fast moving, action packed novel that hooks you from the first page.

I was a little off put by a YA novel but then I thought, “look how many mature women read and fell in love with the Twilight series.” The premise of time travel by looking at a photo was intriguing enough for me to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad this is Book One of a series because I’m primed and ready for Book Two!

Gonzalez sets the stage by introducing us to 17 year old Gaven Hillstone, a young man surviving an abusive foster home after his parents are suddenly killed. While the dialogue in the beginning seems a little short and disjointed, I quickly realized this is exactly how a teenager would think. It didn’t take long to morph from a critiquer into a fascinated reader and I stayed in that mode for the rest of the book.

There is so much action going on in the first few chapters that I found myself engrossed in the story line, turning pages as fast as i could read. As we learn more about Gavin, we discover that he’s not an orphan at all. His grandparents are alive and living in Washington D.C. Gavin hops a bus in search of his biological family. Once he arrives, he realizes they gave up rights after his parents were killed to protect him. Gavin comes from a long line of Photo Travelers and there are unsavory characters who believe he has something of importance. They’ll stop at nothing to get it. (I know it’s vague but I can’t bring myself to fill in too many details. This is a book you should read without knowing the plot. It will make it much more interesting.)

As Gavin hones his photo travelling skills, he meets his parents, visits different events throughout history and meets a girl he soon learns to care for.

Gonzalez nails the time periods with great research. Not just a gloss over, he provides intricate details that made me sure I was right there beside Gavin during the Great Depression and the Salem Witch trials. He applies the same care with developing his cast of characters, making them realistic and believable.

Gavin soon finds himself treading water in a new world that reminds me of the movie, “Jumper” but offers a much more intriguing tale. As he struggles to protect his new found family from “Peace Keepers”, two devious travelers who are determined to steal the family’s hidden crystal vials, Gavin sets out on a series of exciting and at times, heartbreaking adventures that sucked this reader in with each page.

This is truly a unique concept and wonderful story that blends many genres to provide something for everyone. Read it! I give it 5 stars.

The Photo Travler Button 300 x 225The Photo Traveler

The Photo Traveler Series

Book One

Arthur J. Gonzalez

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Publisher: Fahrenheit Publishing

Date of Publication: Feb 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988891630

ASIN: B00BI4KEQC

Number of pages: 420 pages

Word Count: 87K

Amazon Paperback  Amazon Kindle   Amazon UK 

BN  eBookpie.com  Kobo  Sony  Smashwords

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father. Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.” Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.

When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it. He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images.

But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want! His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials.

Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love. For Gavin, life will never be the same.



15 Aug

Interview by http://bookwormbridgette.blogspot.com


http://bookwormbridgette.blogspot.com/2013/08/blog-blitz-photo-traveler-by-arthur-j.html

Can you please share with us a little about yourself? 
I’m a 28-year-old Cuban-American goofball. Born and raised in Miami, FL. I love coffee, going out for runs, chocolate, and laughing.  I also have a soft spot for Human rights, and a deep love for my golden Schnoodle (miniature Schnauzer/miniature Poodle).
Have you always wanted to be an author? 
I always wanted to write. When I was younger, my focus was on poetry and songwriting. As I aged, I took on a different form of storytelling. I loved the idea of creating a character that unfolds over a singular book or a series. 
Can you share with us your typical writing day.  Is there anything you have to have while writing? 
I typically write during the day.
But no matter when I write, there are two non-negotiables:
1) Coffee
2) Music
What would you say is the most challenging or rewarding part of writing? 
The most challenging part of writing for me is the self-doubt.  Sometimes when I reread a chapter I’ve just written, those annoying, evil thoughts start taunting me.  “That sounds horrible.” “People will hate it.” “You can do better than that.”
  When that happens I step away and come back to it. A lot of the time I find it was actually pretty good, but sometimes our own insecurities detour reality.
  You want nothing more than for readers to fall in love with your story, so I suppose it’s natural for you to feel so pressured to produce the most enthralling piece of art.
Can you please tell us about your latest book?
 THE PHOTO TRAVELER follows 17-year-old Gavin Hillstone as he discovers his ability to time travel through photos and images.
The story takes you on an epic journey through periods of time that everyone will find fascinating, such as the Great Depression and The Salem Witch Trials.
How did you come with the idea for this story?
THE PHOTO TRAVELER was created after one of the most important individuals in my life lost his grandmother. He was looking at an old black and white photo and said, “I would do anything to jump into this photo.”
  In that moment the idea came to me.
  I thought, Oh my god. What if we could?
  Imagine having the ability to time travel to and revisit old memories or moments in time!?
  Quickly, I developed the story line with that very premise, living the experience vicariously through Gavin.
Can you share with us your current work in progress? 
I’m working on the sequel to The Photo Traveler, titled The Peace Hunter. I cannot express how excited I am about this book! This story takes off in directions I, myself, could not believe!
  My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.
  On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.
  The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.
    My young adult superhero series, tentatively titled LADY ELEMENT (a series meant to break passed the typical male superhero mold, by focusing on a female main character, Charlee, who has developed her abilities to summon the elements. She is on the hunt for her scientist parents whom she discovers have been kidnapped by an underground governmental program, designed to create new strands of diseases for population control. Charlee suffers from body dysmorphia, has a hunky gay best friend, and in a matter of words…is quite fierce.).
  The third novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.
  They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization.  But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.
  And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist.
 What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world?
Who are some of your favorite authors? 
Love me some John Green and Suzanne Collins.
Do you feel that any of your favorite authors have inspired your writing style? 
There was something after reading the Hunger Games that really gave me a different outlook on writing from a first person’s POV. The way Collins expressed emotion and pulled the reader into the mind of the characters really inspired me to want to do just that.
Open your book to a random page and please reads us a few lines.
I was four when my real parents died in a house fire while I was at daycare. I ended up in foster care because I had no other relatives to claim me.
            I’ve never quite known how Leyla and Jet took me on, but after a year of fostering they legally adopted me. And until I was about eight, I was a generally happy kid even though Mel and I never really got along. I think she always felt threatened by me, and my guess is that she was jealous because Leyla and Jet had brought this random kid into her home and she had to share their attention with me.
            I guess it would’ve bothered me, too, if I’d been in her place. But it’s not like it was my fault. I wasn’t intentionally trying to steal them from her or something. I would never do that.
            That day, Leyla took me and Mel to the convenience store two blocks from our place. I was whining nonstop because I wanted sour bear gummies, and I wasn’t going to let up until I had them. But while I was happily grabbing my bag of candy, two masked men with guns barged in and ordered the clerk to hand over all the cash in the register.
            I had no idea what was happening, but I was so scared that I started crying. One of the guys pointed his gun at me and shouted, “Shut up, kid!” That made me cry even louder and harder.
            “I said shut up!” he repeated, and took a step toward me.
            “Leave him alone!” Leyla shouted. She grabbed me and put me behind her, shielding me with her body. Mel was crouched in a corner near the Slurpee cooler with tears running down her cheeks.
            “Hey!” the guy said. “Whaddya got in that purse?” He made a grab for it. She backed away from him, but he grabbed her and threw her to the filthy, sawdust-covered floor. His buddy ran over, held her down, grabbed her purse, and tore it open.
            “You can’t take our money!” I yelled. I ran over and kicked him in the shin to try to get him away from her. He swung the gun around at me and Leyla sprang up from the floor and lunged in front of me as the gun went off.
            It hit her in the neck, and seconds later she was gone.
            Before I could even process what had happened, the gunmen ran out of the store. I’ll never forget leaning over Leyla’s body and staring at the pool of blood spreading over the floor. Her jungle-green eyes—Mel’s exact eye color—were wide open, but I somehow knew that she couldn’t see me even though her tears never seemed to stop.
            “MOM!” I screamed. “Mom! Mom! Mom, I’m sorry!”
            I kept calling her name over and over and over even though I knew she would never answer me again. Finally I knelt down in all the blood and laid my head on her stomach until Mariela, the Mexican clerk who’d been working at the store ever since I could remember, hurried over and peeled me away from Leyla’s body.
            “Dios Mio! Mijito!” she sobbed, “Ven conmigo.” And as I started to hear the police sirens in the distance but getting louder every second, she led me into the stockroom so I wouldn’t see any more. Then she went back out to Mel, who was still huddled on the floor rocking back and forth in shock. She didn’t talk for almost a month. I’ve never eaten sour bears again.
What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for? 
I’m anxiously awaiting the final books in the Divergent series and the Shatter Me series.
Have you ever used anyone from your real life encounters in any of your books? 
Oh yea. For me, one of the most genuine and intimate methods to writing is by drawing from your real world experiences.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while you were writing? 
On a technical level, I learned that I had a great sense for creating characters that were relatable. But on a personal level, I learned that I could do absolutely anything I put my heart and soul into.
 



15 Aug

Interview/Excerpt on www.andisyoungadult.blogspot.com


http://andisyoungadult.blogspot.com/2013/08/meet-arthur-j-gonzalez-author-of-photo.html

Meet Arthur J. Gonzalez, author of ‘The Photo Traveler’

Please extend a warm welcome to Arthur J. Gonzalez, the author of ‘The Photo Traveler.’ Can I just say how much I love this purple cover?

Congratulations on publishing your first novel! This sounds like a fun new twist in the YA sci-fi genre. How did you come up with the idea? 

Thank you! J

THE PHOTO TRAVELER was created after one of the most important individuals in my life lost his grandmother. He was looking at an old black and white photo and said, “I would do anything to jump into this photo.”

In that moment the idea came to me.

I thought, Oh my god. What if we could?

Imagine having the ability to time travel to and revisit old memories or moments in time!?

Quickly, I developed the story line with that very premise, living the experience vicariously through Gavin.

This is Book One in the Photo Traveler series. How many books do you anticipate? When can we expect the next installment?

I anticipate there being three books in the series. I am looking at an end of year release for the second installment, THE PEACE HUNTER.

How much do you have in common with Gavin?

I relate to Gavin in regards to him wanting to find his greater purpose. Actually, I think this is something everyone can relate to.

What kind of research did you need to do for this book? 

I researched countless books and websites so I can accurately depict the historical aspects of THE PHOTO TRAVELER. I wanted everyone to feel as though they were actually there.

Do you have any other book ideas in mind, outside of this series?

My children’s novel, Monty and the Monsters, will hopefully be ready by end of summer/end of year. The story is about a newborn human boy, Monty, who’s taken from his world and raised by monsters (in a hysterical monster world I created, called Gloomsbury). Monty is raised by monsters his entire life, carrying the burden of feeling different, but never knowing he is actually a human. His life is filled with isolation and loneliness, constantly being the target of heavy bullying.

On Monty’s 15th birthday, he is informed of the truth of his origin and given the opportunity to venture to his human world; where there, Monty will have to decide if he will stay in the world he was stripped of, or stay with the monster parents he has grown to love, in a world that has always shunned him.

The story is about love, blended family, acceptance, bullying, and finding your way.

My young adult superhero series, tentatively titled LADY ELEMENT (a series meant to break passed the typical male superhero mold, by focusing on a female main character, Charlee, who has developed her abilities to summon the elements. She is on the hunt for her scientist parents whom she discovers have been kidnapped by an underground governmental program, designed to create new strands of diseases for population control. Charlee suffers from body dysmorphia, has a hunky gay best friend, and in a matter of words…is quite fierce.).

The third novel is part one in a still untitled YA series surrounding the end of the world. This story, though, takes place ten years after the fact, where five 5 teens wake to an earth that has evolved into a completely different planet than they remember.

They are forced to resuscitate their kind and reestablish civilization. But they soon realize why their world ended and discover that earth is still at its mercy.

And then I’m also working on an adult Fiction series surrounding Greek Mythology, The Olympian Chronicles: Hades. Think True Blood with Greek Gods, rather than vampires and werewolves. It’s an edgy, sexy, and modern take on Greek Mythology, with a 21st century twist.

What would our favorite tales look like if they took place in today’s world?

Do you engage in any photography? 

I don’t necessarily engage in formal photography, but I’m constantly taking pictures on my iPhone. I love to capture memories.

What kinds of photographs attract you, making you want to dive into them?

I have several ‘Wonder of the World’ and ‘Landscapes’ coffee books. I love losing myself in how photographers capture the essence of our world. Have you seen some of these photos? They look like they’re apart of some mythical, fantastical world. It’s stunning! I also love the work by Peter Lik.

You were born and raised in Miami. What are some of your favorite things about that area? 

I love the fact that culturally, you can see it all in Miami. I was fortunate to be raised in a city that is comprised of all types of races, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, etc. I think it’s been a major contributor to my more liberal mindset and the deep respect I hold for others.

What are some travel destinations that are on your bucket list? 

Brazil, Greece, Monte Carlo, Tokyo, Dubai, Fiji, Hawaii, Sydney — Oh, I can keep on, trust me. 😉

What is something that readers may be surprised to learn about you? 

I went by myself to volunteer in Haiti, just two months after the 2010 disastrous earthquake. That trip changed everything I thought I knew about myself.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Thank you in advance for the support and love! Feel free to sign up for my mailing list for exclusive updates, cover reveals, first-look excerpts, and giveaways at: www.arthurjgonzalez.com

Thank you so much for your time!
 

About the Author:
THE PHOTO TRAVELER is young adult author Arthur J. Gonzalez’s first novel. Arthur was born and raised in Miami surrounded by his loud Cuban family. He graduated from the University of Florida, where he acquired his coffee obsession and his chocolate hoarding antics. He’s the proud father of one baby girl, Sookie–his miniature schnoodle dog. Arthur is a self-professed goofball who spends 98% of his life laughing. He’s now working on his second novel.
The Photo Traveler
The Photo Traveler Series
Book One
Arthur J. Gonzalez
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Publisher: Fahrenheit Publishing
Date of Publication: Feb 20, 2013
ISBN: 978-0988891630
ASIN: B00BI4KEQC
Number of pages: 420 pages
Word Count: 87K
Book Description:
Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father. Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.” Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.
When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it. He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images.
But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want! His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials.
Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love. For Gavin, life will never be the same.
Read an excerpt:
PROLOGUE

What do you do when a sudden gust of wind forces your boat totally off course and into the unknown? When from one moment to the next, the life that you thought you’d always be living morphs into one you’d never imagined?

Ever since I could remember, I believed there had to be something more to life than the one I’d been thrown into as a child. Even though I sometimes told myself I had to be crazy because just the idea seemed so hard to imagine—given how things had gone so far, anyway.
I would ask myself if it was wrong for me to feel this way. If I was being naïve to think there was something greater out there. Something that really belonged to me. But what do you if you feel an unknown force pulsating through your blood, constantly reminding you of it? Are you just supposed to ignore it?
I suppose that most of the time that’s what they teach us to do. You know, “Forget it. Take the easy way out.” Sure. Never the right one.
That’s what they kept telling me. “You’re kidding yourself if you think you can have a better life.¬ Learn to live with what you’ve got.” Things like that.
Maybe that’s why I started taking photos as soon as I got my hands on my first camera. It was a way I could distance myself from the life I was being forced to live. It let me create images of the world around me, finding life in the most ordinary moments…like when the sun makes a lonely tree sweat and it in turn gives water to a struggling, thirsty grasshopper below. Those things were real. Not the crappy life I’d always been trapped in.
And then, just a few weeks ago, my life took a turn for the unexpected. And now all I have to say to you is—believe in your gut instinct. Intuition is what kept me alive. It’s what made me believe. At the end of the day, it was all I really had that was mine. And you can find what’s really yours, too.
CHAPTER ONE:
The walk home is brutal. I was hoping that the sun would have begun its descent by now, but it’s still as blazing hot as ever. I remember them saying on the news that this was going to be one of the hottest summers ever. Though I feel like they’ve been saying that for the past five years. Global warming or something.
I know that nothing good is going to be waiting for me when I get to the house. For sure, Mel’s already gotten back and is showing Jet what I did to the car and batting her lashes and blaming it all on me. Equipped with her fake tears, she’s probably made up a lie about how I “blew up” on her and refused to go back with her even though she “begged” me to get in. It wouldn’t be the first time her lies have gotten me into trouble. And no doubt he’s now in a violent rage and shouting about how I’m going to “get my ass kicked” and how “useless” I am.
I trudge along trying to prepare myself for the tempest that’s going to hit me when I finally get back. I don’t even need to close my eyes to envision the fury in his bloodshot eyes and smell his liquor breath and see his large, flaring nostrils.
If only Leyla were still alive. God, I miss her. Because of her, Jet actually used to be a decent father. He always had a short fuse, but he wasn’t the angry, pathetic drunk he turned into after she died and he got serious about drinking. Looking at him today, with his beer belly lapping over his belt and the patches of thinning hair on his scalp, I find it hard to remember that he actually used to be a handsome, well-groomed guy. And not a bad foster father, either. I remember him getting home early from the construction site with a smile and he’d sometimes even have a toy for me. Things really do change, I guess.
I was four when my real parents died in a house fire while I was at daycare. I ended up in foster care because I had no other relatives to claim me.
I’ve never quite known how Leyla and Jet took me on, but after a year of fostering they legally adopted me. And until I was about eight, I was a generally happy kid even though Mel and I never really got along. I think she always felt threatened by me, and my guess is that she was jealous because Leyla and Jet had brought this random kid into her home and she had to share their attention with me.
I guess it would’ve bothered me, too, if I’d been in her place. But it’s not like it was my fault. I wasn’t intentionally trying to steal them from her or something. I would never do that.
That day, Leyla took me and Mel to the convenience store two blocks from our place. I was whining nonstop because I wanted sour bear gummies, and I wasn’t going to let up until I had them. But while I was happily grabbing my bag of candy, two masked men with guns barged in and ordered the clerk to hand over all the cash in the register.
I had no idea what was happening, but I was so scared that I started crying. One of the guys pointed his gun at me and shouted, “Shut up, kid!” That made me cry even louder and harder.
“I said shut up!” he repeated, and took a step toward me.
“Leave him alone!” Leyla shouted. She grabbed me and put me behind her, shielding me with her body. Mel was crouched in a corner near the Slurpee cooler with tears running down her cheeks.
“Hey!” the guy said. “Whaddya got in that purse?” He made a grab for it. She backed away from him, but he grabbed her and threw her to the filthy, sawdust-covered floor. His buddy ran over, held her down, grabbed her purse, and tore it open.
“You can’t take our money!” I yelled. I ran over and kicked him in the shin to try to get him away from her. He swung the gun around at me and Leyla sprang up from the floor and lunged in front of me as the gun went off.
It hit her in the neck, and seconds later she was gone.
Before I could even process what had happened, the gunmen ran out of the store. I’ll never forget leaning over Leyla’s body and staring at the pool of blood spreading over the floor. Her jungle-green eyes—Mel’s exact eye color—were wide open, but I somehow knew that she couldn’t see me even though her tears never seemed to stop.
“MOM!” I screamed. “Mom! Mom! Mom, I’m sorry!”
I kept calling her name over and over and over even though I knew she would never answer me again. Finally I knelt down in all the blood and laid my head on her stomach until Mariela, the Mexican clerk who’d been working at the store ever since I could remember, hurried over and peeled me away from Leyla’s body.
“Dios Mio! Mijito!” she sobbed, “Ven conmigo.” And as I started to hear the police sirens in the distance but getting louder every second, she led me into the stockroom so I wouldn’t see any more. Then she went back out to Mel, who was still huddled on the floor rocking back and forth in shock. She didn’t talk for almost a month. I’ve never eaten sour bears again.
Even worse, the next day Jet told us that Leyla was pregnant and that they’d been planning to surprise us with the news that night at dinner. So I’d been the cause of two deaths. A double loss. Go me.
Jet never stopped holding it against me. And Mel’s jealousy turned into outright hatred.
I’m not sure either of them hated me more than I hated myself.
Jet turned to alcohol. He spent his days binge-drinking on the couch that he and Leyla had chosen together. He stopped taking construction jobs and finally took a temporary leave of absence that somehow turned into a permanent one. Two years later he married Dina, who not only puts up with his brutal attacks and constant verbal assaults, but for some unknown reason actually defends him.
She’s as pathetic as he is, and that bothers me because she’s actually a sweet woman. It’s like she’s under some kind of spell. What kind of woman puts up with a man who bruises her constantly and hurls hateful remarks? Last night he called her a “filthy pig”. And he’s always calling her a “fat ass”, which I don’t understand because she’s not even pudgy in the least! And trust me—I know chunky. I was a size Hefty for most of my childhood.
In all honesty, I think she feels she has no choice. She doesn’t have enough education to get a good-paying job, so Jet supports her—although I’ve always wondered how, since he hasn’t really worked for years now. I figure that Leyla had some sort of insurance policy.
On top of everything else, Dina was Leyla’s best friend. Maybe she feels guilty about marrying Leyla’s husband and inheriting her family. I don’t know. From my understanding, Jet and Dina became each other’s “support” after Leyla died, and eventually the feelings “just happened”.
I call BS on the whole thing. I think they just found it convenient and used all the other stuff as excuses.
In any case, all three of them hold me accountable. It’s been almost ten years and they’re still holding it against me. They never let it rest. Not a week goes by that Jet doesn’t snarl at me. Usually while he’s beating me. “Adopting you was my biggest mistake! If it wasn’t for you, she’d still be alive!” The hate in his words when he says it…I know he means it every time.
The worst part is, I accept everything he says because I’m still pretty much blaming myself too. I know that if they hadn’t taken me in, Leyla probably would still be alive. And so would their second kid, the little brother or sister who never got a chance to be born.
That hurts to think about, because Leyla was a great mom. If more people had a mom like her, there’d probably be less crazies in the world. She read to me every morning. Sang to me every night. I can still hear her humming lullabies to me whenever I had nightmares about the fire. I remember drifting off to sleep with my fingers wrapped around a strand of her curly blonde hair. I loved her curls.
“Mom, they’re just like Slinkies!” I used to tell her. I would tug at them to straighten them out and then let them go to spring back into curls. Slinkies were my favorite childhood toy. Now I can’t stand the sight of them. Especially the neon-green ones, because they remind me of the one she brought me one day as a joke.
At night when I have trouble sleeping I can still hear her sweet voice reaching out to me and crooning, “Let the night take all your fear… Let my voice be all you hear…”