Saturday, May 29, 2021

Heidi's Interview with Capital Fund

Capital Fund had a sweet deal the other day... They sent out an email with interview questions. Just copy and paste, answer the questions, and send a photo in case your interview gets selected for their website. I thought, hey, I can do that. I tapped out my responses and sent it off, and they picked it! I love free marketing, and Capital Fund is a good company. ;)

Check it out!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

El Tiburon Research


Pastor Marvin Garcia, thank you for joining us today. Since writing El Tiburon (published by Vinspire), I’ve given many book talks and am astounded with the interest in the plight of the Guarejos—the people-group living in the Guatemalan garbage dump. At the time of writing El Tiburon, there were 11,000 people living there… 6,000 of which were children. Since that time the Guatemalan government changed the boundaries of the dump to place the Guarejos on the outside of the dump. Now they go through an opening in the fence. In response to their questions, I would like to return to you, my main source of information. In El Tiburon, the Guarejos play an important role in keeping the main character alive.

I will preface this with an introduction to our readers as to how I know you. About ten-fifteen years ago our church asked if anyone could house a visiting youth pastor from Guatemala for 6 months. We offered our spare room and now we consider you to be a member of our family, along with your sister, Karina (who came and stayed with us later).

Pastor Marvin, you were born and raised in Guatemala. When did you become a pastor?

Marvin and Karina

: Indeed, I was born in Guatemala City and all my life I have remained in the city. (I must confess I know very little about the rural area of Guatemala) Now I have tried to visit more of the rural area that definitely has beautiful places and views.

I was born in 1978 and when I was 9 years old I accepted Jesus into my heart in an American church (the pastor was an American named Charlotte Lindreng at Shekinah Church), I currently take the time to visit this church, every time I am there I feel I'm coming home. We were in this church for 6 years. Then we moved to another church closer to our home. When I was 20 years old, I was appointed youth pastor at the Iglesia Principe de Paz Central. We stayed there for 6 more years.

Then my dad received a call from God to open a church in the area we live in. And until today, Mission Maranatha has been an important part of our life. When I was 35 years old, I was appointed pastor at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala. And I have spent 5 years pastoring a Ministry that together with my wife we form, called Ekklesia Guatemala.

Heidi: When did you first hear of the Guajeros at the Guatemala City garbage dump?

Marvin: When we are at Shekinah Church, they had an evangelistic program. Every December 23, they would give food baskets to each family that lived in the Garbage. Also, every day that Children's Day is celebrated, they had programs with piƱatas, food, clothes and shoes for the children who lived there. I was probably 10 years old.

Marvin in California redwood forest

: What was your reaction when you learned about their needs? Were you shocked or did you not fully understand at that time what their lives were like?

Marvin: For a 10 year old boy, it was very difficult to understand the needs they had. I had a good childhood (to call it that) we had our needs at home, but when I asked mom about food, food would magically appear on the table. (That's how I saw it. Today I know we have to work so that there is food at home).

And when it was my first time visiting these places, it was creating in me a perspective that my needs, although for me they were enormous... they had many more enormous needs. And after my first visit, throughout the next year, I remember saving 5 cents every day, in those days with 5 cents you could buy a soda and a cookie. But I kept every day, (although there were days when I was hungry and spent those 5 cents for myself) but I remember that at the end of that year, I gave my shepherds an envelope with a 20-quetzales bill. ($ 3 USD) and so a need grew in me to see the gospel of Jesus reach those places.

: I know you’ve been involved in the ministry who helps the Guajeros… when did that start?

Marvin: When I was a youth pastor in the second church, one of the first projects was to create a program for the Guajeros. It was a difficult process because the churches were not knowledgeable in these areas of work. Since I was 10 years old, I had been gathering experiences that had marked my personal life and my ministerial life. And my wish was to transmit those emotions to others. Thank God the program that I founded, to this day continues to work for the Guajeros. Also to this day, I have been able to found 15 projects with different churches for the benefit of the Gaujeros. God has been good in every project and they are all working to this day.


: This is true, the ideas of my brother and a group of people provided projects that made it possible for the Guareros to have a job and they received God in their hearts.

Heidi: Have you ever been to see the community they live in? Is that community called La Limonada? Were you ever there when it was actually inside the dump?

Marvin: When I was working on projects for the Guajeros. within their community. I heard about another community called La Limonada. This community is in another area of Guatemala City, with a population of almost 3,000 families living in extreme poverty [60,00 people in a massive ravine]. At that time, I left people in charge of the main project we had and I began to visit this new community. At that time I had the possibility of arranging mission trips for American churches. And in both communities we were very blessed, new projects were created that continue to function to this day.

Karina: I was part of these projects together with my brother. It was my beginning to support him in the ministry. He met many missionary groups and it was the way to learn to speak English by translating, also I still have friends who continue to volunteer for the ministry of La Limonada.

Heidi: What is the community like? Give me good and bad examples of life for them.

Marvin: The city of the garbage is a community where garbage from all over Guatemala City arrives in trucks at all times. The smell is hard to get used to. Their life is literally about garbage, they eat, they sleep on other people's garbage. Although there are simple house projects for them, the common denominator is trash. An area of 5 hectares is used for garbage and for the families of the Guajeros.

Now, the La Limonada community is a garbage-free area, but it is a ravine, with a river of dirty waters at the bottom, and all around the ravine, small houses were built of cardboard, wood, and sheet metal. And it is an area where the gangs choose to live.

I believe that only a person with the passion of Jesus in his heart can see the bad in the community and turn it into an opportunity to bless. Good and bad experiences I have lived in each of the communities. But the passion for them makes you come back the next day, knowing that another experience will come. I remember that one day I was walking with boxes of medicine for the Guajeros, in an alley, a young man stole my cell phone and money that he had for my whole week. And when the Guajeros found out what happened, they got together and looked for this person who did not belong to the community, they found him and killed him. Then the community put together some money and a cell phone used for me. Crazy right?

Karina: It is a community that continues to need help, but the type of people that live around it is becoming very dangerous.

Heidi: Do you know anyone personally who lived/lives there?

Marvin: Yes, I have very good friends who live in both communities, people I trust who always have the opportunity to sit down and have a coffee and dream of new projects for the benefit of both communities

Karina: My brother still has communication and friendship with the Guajeros, they keep calling him and asking for prayer for their lives when they need it.

: Do you have a special story about your work there that you’d like to share?

Marvin: I remember that with a missionary group we went to the La Limonada community and built a small house for an 80-year-old woman. At that time I had two jobs, I was as national director of the Festival with Luis Palau, a very important evangelistic event in Guatemala. One day before handing over that little house, I had a meeting with very important people in the local government. We went to a very expensive restaurant in the city of Guatemala. I remember ordering shrimp, (my favorite food) it was an incredible meal moment.

The next day we went to deliver the little house to Grandma. It had rained very hard the night before. We were wet, dirty, but with a smile on our faces from the old woman's expression. The impressive thing was that she in gratitude, took some corn tortillas, (I think they were there for more than 2 weeks) and took a pan, a small piece of butter and put the tortillas on the pan and moistened the tortillas with the butter, and he gave us 2 tortillas each, ... and said (thank you very much) for me they were the best tortillas that I had never eaten in my life. I enjoyed them so much that I am satisfied. The day before I was in a nice restaurant, the day after I was sitting on the wet floor of this old woman, and I remembered what the Apostle Paul said... In abundance and scarcity, I thank God.

: Yes, I remember that moment. I was working on Luis Palau's project as a secretary and my brother was on both projects. I was not present at the old lady's house but I did know about that moment.

Heidi: Did my writing a crime novel set in Guatemala and the dump have any impact on you?

Marvin and his wife, Evelyn
Marvin: I think there is no better place to set a crime novel than Guatemala. But I also believe that if through this novel we can present a little of the needs that exist in our country and create awareness in people…I think it will be worth it.

Karina: It is worth continuing with that passion, my country continues to present these problems and no one does anything for them.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Save The Girls

What started out as a character-study of Sean McGee (the main dude in all of my political crime novels) turned into a novel... Why am I not surprised? I should've known better. He and Sport always take over my narrative. They're very strong characters and often surprise me, as Sean did in this book.

I wanted to explain what in his past had turned him into this noble and protective hero. I started with his enlisting in the Marine Corp, which led to his becoming Recon. He met Randy, Dan, and Craig in Recon. Dan was introduced in Counterpart just long enough to identify his body. In Save the girls, you get to meet him. These four young men go from boot-camp to special forces with the same intensity they pursue their respective careers in Secret Service and as a private bodyguard.

Sean decides to be become a Sacramento City Policeman. He loves it. He loves his training officer, Warrick. Remember that name? Janet Warrick--aka Sport... the woman who starts the series in Counterpart? This is her father.

Sean comes across the his first organized crime in his city--but the criminal lives outside of his jurisdiction. A prostitution ring run by a Russian named Boris. Sean doesn't like it. Boris can easily leave the city limits to the sprawling Greater Sacramento area and Sean can't follow. You all know Sean well enough to know that's not going to work for him. So he meets a guy named Becker (I won't spoil it for you if you haven't read Counterpart, but this is where he meets Sean).

Sean joins the CIA. No more city limits. He goes after Boris by stealing a prostitute. Boris is pissed. Sean is giddy with joy. He steals another one, this time a teen named Jazzy who looks just like the girl on the cover. Now Sean's obsession begins to shift from destroying Boris to saving the girls.

For paperback I'll send you over to Amazon.

Ebooks are available for any reader anywhere. An easy way to get it is through Smashwords.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Piratessa makes Quarterfinalist

I entered the highly competitive screenplay contest put on by TSL. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it's free. I enter contests all the time for both my screenplays. I do it for two reasons; First is it's a means of getting a producer or agent for a nobody like me. Secondly is the feedback, which I usually pay for. Especially in the beginning, this was critical to determine if I had what it takes as a writer to venture into this field. Just because about half the people who read my novels think they should be made into movies, doesn't mean I'm good at writing a screenplay.

So, you can imagine my excitement to have advanced to the quarterfinalist! Here's my email from them:

Good news: your script, Piratessa, is advancing to the Quarterfinalist round of the TSL Free Screenplay Contest. Out of over 13,000 submissions, your script was among the top 1,000! Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Susan Miura Book Review

Shards of Light by Susan Miura
Review by H. Schussman

Reader’s POV:
Miura pulls the reader through two young ladies’ lives… exciting adventure and heartbreaking tragedy. Each must learn from their situations.
Shilo has inherited her great-grandmother’s gift of healing. This gift is fragile and powerful. Shilo has to learn when to use it and how to make sure she gives credit where credit is due—God. Her time in Sicily is an opportunity to learn from Nonna Marie and to become embroiled in yet another life and death adventure.
Back home, Melody watches her most cherished dreams as a ballerina crash about her damaged body. Her struggle from anger and self pity to acceptance and new dreams is both painful and encouraging to read. Amidst this is her desire to learn who her biological mother is without hurting her sweet real mother.
Best friends, Shilo and Melody grow in maturity, faith, and womanhood. They both learn what true romance is with their respective boyfriends.

Writers POV:
This is a fast read… a page turner. The language of the young adults is modern and relevant, yet the writing is clean and almost poetic at times. Miura masterfully describes the scenery, action, and emotional angst. Here’s some random favorites:

*  “Can I go with you?” His [a little boy] hope-filled eyes stare as though a blink might ruin the possibility of a “yes.”
*  The green, earthy scent of rain-washed garden mixes with lemonade air.
*  My eyes remain closed. I refuse to acknowledge her perky existence.

At first I struggled with the changing POV between Shilo and Melody, but Miura clearly marked the shifts and I soon adapted. It’s especially tricky because Miura writes in first person for both characters. And present tense. It’s not an easy writing style, but she carries it off well.
Great mix of long and short sentences, with a few illegal ones thrown in for good measure. Well done and enjoyable young adult novel.

I received this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

EBook, Paperback, Book Cover Questions

How do you publish to so many eBook sites? How did you make your book into a paperback? How do you design a book cover? (I've answered the book cover question in more detail on a previous blog post) I've been asked this by so many people, I don't know who to attribute the question to :)
There’s basically two ways to get your book fully distributed. You can either go to each and every eBook website and download your document file to their library, or just download the document to I’m not getting paid by them to write this, but seriously Smashwords is by far the most comprehensive approach. That’s not to say it’s easy. The document must be prepared per their standards… stripped completely clean of any possible corruption. Fortunately, a step-by-step book is free at their website to ensure you can do it properly. Smashwords then takes your perfectly formatted Microsoft Word 97-2003 ‘doc’ (not docx) and formats it for all e-reader devices (each device is different). Believe it or not this is a free service up front. As the sales come in, then they get a portion of the profit. I tried a Fiverr formatter but the guy couldn’t do it right and I ended up doing it myself. Don’t be suckered into their re-assurances that they can do it. Make sure they can, and tell them you won’t pay them if Smashwords doesn’t place you in the premium catalogue.
I’m going to say it again because it’s that important. Follow the Smashwords guidelines exactly. It will probably take you a couple of days. BUT, if you do it right, you will be in their premium catalogue with maximum distribution.

There is only one place who doesn’t accept Smashwords. Can you guess who? Yep, Amazon! When you complete your work at Smashwords, you have to go over to Amazon and follow their instructions. Another couple of days to figure it out. But while you are at Amazon, check out the paperback option at KDP. You have to go to “Author Central” to publish paperback. The great news is they also don’t charge you for the process (which is good because you’re the one doing all the work). They will pay you a percentage. You can choose your price and it calculates your royalty. In the old days, when you had a book made into paperback, you had to purchase cases of books and pile them up in the spare room. Now it’s print on demand. When someone buys your book on Amazon, KDP prints it and then ships it directly to the reader.
Now let’s back up to the question of how to make a book cover. This actually needs to be done before you publish on any site. The easiest way is to go to Fiverr and choose from the hundreds of designers. It’s super cheap (less than $50 usually). At that point bundle your needs for eBook cover, paperback cover, and audio book cover. When you get your cover back you can then publish at Smashwords, Amazon eBook and Amazon paperback.
In my next post I’ll discuss how I got an audio book made…