I still show up on television and radio every now and again, only today it’s most often as a guest author. I’ve really enjoyed my recent TV stint as guest host of the The Morning Blend talk show on Milwaukee’s NBC station, WTMJ. I was a reporter there and also gave news commentary. It was while working there that I began to write children’s fiction, which I now consider a great passion.
It’s true that journalists do quite a bit of traveling for stories. TODAY’S TMJ4 covers the state – and news in general – very, very well and is committed to broadcasting the news where it happens, so all of us press types have traveled at some point or another. Most of my reports were based out of somewhere in Wisconsin, although they were frequently sent via satellite feed around the country – even around the world.
So how did I find time to write? I used my off time well. Deadlines teach journalists to write whenever there’s available time, so even if I only had ten minutes, I’d take advantage of those ten minutes to write a few sentences or clean up a paragraph. We all do what we can. I’m also blessed with supportive family and friends who won’t let me quit. My biggest supporter is my husband, Jeff Miracola, who has been published hundreds of times already in the gaming and children’s book industries. He gives constant encouragement.
The most challenging aspect was freeing my imagination.
News doesn’t allow for anything but facts. Equally importantly, it doesn’t allow flowery prose. There are no long, descriptive passages setting the scene, parties are only minimally described, and the language is short and succinct. That was my training.
Fiction, by contrast, absolutely requires descriptive passages, along with varied depth, pacing, and intense character development. It has to; fiction writing is creating a new world rather than chronicling the events of the existing one.
That’s a toughie because we see ourselves differently than others might, so I’m not sure how many people would agree with my self-assessment, but here goes. I like to think I was outgoing, friendly, talkative, unconcerned with social or economic status. I was musically inclined, enjoyed sports, thirsted for knowledge. I loved reading, exploring, and horseback riding, which I could only do when I saved enough money for a short trot on the horses at a stable about 40 minutes from my house. I walked there or rode my bike and always wished the section where the horses flat out ran would stretch out forever. I loved every second I got to spend with my extended family in Puerto Rico, especially the summers. I valued travel.
Firefighter, fighter pilot, politician, whistleblower, writer, someone who somehow made a difference.
Not very. It’s personal in the sense that I write the stories I would have liked to read as a teenager (and still enjoy reading today). It’s personal in that I write in genres and for age groups that interest me. It’s also personal in that I’m proud of the act of writing itself because it’s no easy thing to see a novel through to completion. But it’s not personal in many other ways, and I think those aspects are what people most mean when they ask this question.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fiction writers pushing an agenda, but having said that, my stories are not manifestos on my belief system.
I create plotlines and characters that I believe make for a compelling story. By compelling, I don’t mean “pushing my agenda.” I mean “interesting.” I think all authors sample a bit from their life experiences to add detail, emotion, and intrigue to their stories. After all, how else could they write a story that resonates? How could they develop characters with depth? How could they create motivations to move the story along?
But I think that people who ask this question often want to hear anecdotes about how the author is just like the protagonist for this and that reason or that the author is pushing this certain theme because she feels strongly about it thanks to this particular moment in her life. Well, an author’s writing might mirror her personal life or beliefs, sure, but not necessarily.
Now, one of the reasons I write fiction is to experience new worlds. Writing about new places and different types of characters stretches me to put myself into others’ shoes – just as reading stretches readers to see life from others’ perspectives. Sometimes my story takes me places I hadn’t expected, but I can’t lessen the story for fear that someone who knows me might assign the story to my belief system. If that were the case, in God Awful Loser, every time I give Mars, the god of war, a paragraph of dialogue, am I advocating war? And, in God Awful Thief, by including Bacchus, the god of wine, am I pushing wine consumption? Of course not. Those are merely characters with distinguishing quirks. Those quirks make them who they are.
So I can say with certainty that, at least with my writing, samples of my experiences are sprinkled throughout, and I might have brought personality traits of acquaintances to the page, but no single character is wholly me or wholly reflective of the people in my life, nor are the themes I cover the sum total of what I deem worth writing about. In fact, even theme can’t be identified with certainty, as different readers see varying themes, depending on the experiences they bring to the book. And even that isn’t necessarily very personal; it may just happen to match a moment they remember.
It’s one of the genres I liked to read as a young adult. I found most of the stories to be rather clever mechanisms to explain the world as people of ancient times might have seen it. Some of the stories were silly, sure, but even the less-than-spectacular tales featured gods and/or beings with superhuman capabilities.
The gods were especially fun because, having specialties as they did, they themselves became concentrated passions. So the god of theater may purposely fail to solve a problem the easy way because the hard way promises much more drama. Writing these types of neurotic characters – and the humans with whom they interact – is hugely entertaining.
In any genre, I want to write engaging stories that give readers something to think about after they’ve closed the book, be it the theme, a scene they liked, a particular character, what have you.
In mythology particularly, I want the same as above but also an appreciation for the myths and characters of antiquity. They served the fascinating purpose of trying to explain the origins of life and nature. The myths were creative and provided an interesting glimpse into the value system of the past. Mythology is worth considering.
Manipulation is a strong theme in traditional mythology. The gods often kneaded and molded circumstances to create the outcomes they desired. And this could be very entertaining. I’ve created fresh scenes involving manipulation and also sampled some from ages past, one example being the story of the golden apple, which you can read about in the third book in the God Awful Series. Three goddesses, each seeking an advantage, manipulated a man over something we mortals would see as trivial. The manipulation resulted in a war, something definitely not trivial, but which again led to more mythological tales.
I allow the gods to manipulate and scheme in my modern mythology because, to my way of thinking, that’s the way these gods would react. The reader can look forward to it, sort of an, “Oh, boy! Cupid’s not gonna like this!” moment. It’s fun.
Yes. I’ve also written middle grade and picture books, which are not as easy as they look.
Ha! Without a doubt, it would be Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, theater, and drama – not that I’m into drama because I’m not sure my poor heart could handle how much drama he’d bring to my life, but Bacchus is cultured and worldly. He’d be a great companion for a night out on the town.
I’m guessing some people would be surprised that I wouldn’t choose Cupid. I’m confident he’d be a pro at wooing a date, but I’ve been so close to him for so long that I really feel he’s tailor made for Tamara, who’s all that he’s not and vice versa. I’d hate to break up a winning pair.
In the God Awful Series, I most relate to Tamara. She’s smart, loyal, and giving, and who wouldn’t like to believe they have some of those traits? I’d also like to think in my wildest fantasies that I’d behave the way she does in trying times. Realistically, though, I’m allergic to cats, and Tamara slept on Bacchus’ panther, so I must admit she’s made of tougher stuff than me.
I have a few other characters with whom I relate, but they’re in my unpublished works. Maybe someday those stories will see the light of day.
(Alert! Answer includes a spoiler.)
Again, limiting my answers to my published works, the most challenging scene to write was the duel scene in God Awful Loser. It was a pivotal scene with a lot riding on it.
The scene consists of a dashing, up-and-coming celestial who challenges Cupid to a duel for his crown. I had to make the duel riveting with rousing action and daring moves. Cupid had to lose spectacularly, and by that I mean he had to profoundly underperform against his own true skill. Having a funny moment or two thrown in would help. It was a tall order, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.
How easy it can be to write extensively in a genre you already love. There were sections in each story that wrote themselves; I was a conduit to how the characters reacted, and I was struck by how real they seemed. Of course, those were small sections of the whole manuscript. The rest required planning and work.
I’m not intimidated by it, as I’ve done it for decades. However, my standards for what I call “good writing” keep changing, and I’m constantly trying to stretch my abilities and take on new challenges, so there will always be times that I find writing exacting. For example, I’ve written a narrator speaking to more than one audience at a time. I’ve written an action scene with one character present at two separate locations. These scenes made the story a better read than had I shied away. Without challenges, I’d get bored and, I fear, so might readers.
I don’t write memoirs, so someone disagreeing with my writing is actually them disagreeing with a story element, like the subject matter or a character’s action or dialogue. Some people get upset with the mere existence of a book that doesn’t align with their worldview. We all have different tastes, and even those can vary from day to day, so a creative person has to keep in mind that they can’t please everyone. I will say that I haven’t come up against strong disagreement to my fiction work, although I certainly did with my journalism. Sometimes journalists are harangued just for covering a story, no matter how they do it. Writers need to have thick skins.
Somewhat. I write a general outline with chapter bullet points. I don’t detail getting from one point to another so that I can enjoy the spontaneity of my characters’ actions and reactions.
I don’t have a set routine. I’m still raising kids, so the family schedule can be chaotic. I’m also videographer for the Fantasy Art Workshop Video Series as well as for Jeff Miracola’s YouTube Channel. My husband and I travel for his illustration career and my writing conferences, so I write when I find (or make) the time.
I type directly into my computer when I feel like it. When I don’t want to be in front of a screen, I write longhand in a fancy, old-timey journal with rough, handmade paper, which is supremely satisfying because my rollerball pen makes a great scratching sound as I write, reassuring me of progress and making me feel like an author of a bygone age. Don’t laugh. We all have our quirks.
I most often write at a coffee shop or the library because:
I write at home mostly when:
Tea is nice. Cookies are, too.
Not at all. When I’m writing, I’m deep into the psyche of my characters and in the world I’ve created. It’s crowded in there, if not with characters then with thoughts. I’m very happy when I’m writing. I’m also pleased to meet other writers and readers, though. I guess the short answer is, I’m happy with my own thoughts and fine being alone, so I don’t often feel lonely.
Absolutely. I love meeting writers, who understand the journey, and readers who’ve found some value in the work. And I admit it feels good to be treated like a rock star.
Every author I’ve ever read, without their knowing it, inspired me to write, to go for it. As far as influences, it’s difficult to say. Many creative types say their influences are so many and varied that they become subconscious and unrecognizable. So I’ll just say that many people from many creative fields inspired my work.
If you want your hardcover signed or inscribed, buy direct from Three Points Publishing, where you can also find the eBook. That’s here:
You can also find the books on the shelves of (or for order at) your local bookstore:
Or you can order through Amazon, here:
More writing and meeting readers, always. The third and final book in the God Awful series happily consumed me the past few years, so now I’m out and about talking it up. I really do feel that God Awful Rebel perfectly highlights Cupid’s surprising transformation and was such a satisfying ending to his saga. My next projects are picture books.
I hope you’ve had some of your questions answered here. Thanks for visiting.
Want to know about me? Here’s a short bio:
Silvia Acevedo is a journalist and novelist. In her 20 years in news, she’s interviewed presidential candidates and covered national and international stories for CNN, local TV, and radio and newspapers around the country. She’s guest hosted a television morning talk show featuring the lighter side of news on Milwaukee’s NBC station. Silvia currently freelances at various news publications and performs voice-over work.
All her years reporting objective fact enticed her to delve into her imagination in her off time. Ms. Acevedo brought fiction — particularly mythology — back into her life. Once she did, the gods of old pestered her until she relented to write about one in particular. The result is the God Awful series of books, starting with God Awful Loser, followed by its sequel, God Awful Thief, and the final book in the trilogy, God Awful Rebel.
Silvia is the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Wisconsin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is also half of the leadership team of Fantasy Art Workshop‘s week-long Illustration Intensive.
Visit Silvia at www.silviaacevedo.com
And here’s a longer one:
Silvia Acevedo and her two brothers were the first generation of her family born in the continental United States, specifically in the great state of Wisconsin and even more specifically in Milwaukee, the city of festivals (or the beer capital of the world, or, if you prefer, “a great place by a great lake”). She spent a lot of her childhood exploring the area’s beauty, learning about its many ethnicities, and reading in the library. South Milwaukee had an especially large Polish community and a not-so-large Puerto Rican one, which made her a rarity in their suburban schools.
Silvia graduated high school with honors and continued her education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she triple-majored in Journalism (news editorial and broadcast), Spanish, and Latin American/Iberian Studies. During her college years, Silvia reported for The Badger Herald college newspaper, The Milwaukee Sentinel metro newspaper, WORT radio, and WKOW-TV, where she was honored with an Associated Press Award for her part in a documentary about migrant workers. Again Silvia graduated with honors, made the Dean’s List, and received the College of Letters and Science’s highest honor, the Dean’s Achievement Award for the Area of Humanities.
Silvia reported traffic for WISN-TV in Milwaukee, reported from and managed the Southern Bureau for KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, and reported and anchored at KTBC-TV in Austin, where she also offered news of Latino interest in her segment titled Neighborhood News. In Austin, she garnered another Associated Press Award, this time for Best Series for an in-depth look comparing Austin’s skyrocketing growth to that of Las Vegas’.
Silvia’s trip back home brought her to Wisconsin’s flagship station, WTMJ-TV, where her reporting earned her the Milwaukee Press Club’s “Wisconsin Excellence in Journalism” Award for Best Live Reporting. She’s also provided commentary at TODAY’S TMJ4, “the biggest stick in the state,” and even guest hosted their daily talk show, The Morning Blend.
Silvia currently freelances at various news publications and performs voice-over work.
Silvia feels her decades of reporting blessed her with the opportunity to talk with some of the nation’s most influential newsmakers, highly regarded experts, talented creators, dedicated athletes, passionate personalities, and fascinated observers. It’s provided a wealth of insight into human nature.
Feeling a growing desire to write fiction, Silvia began jotting down story ideas and interesting lines until she’d completed several manuscripts. She then fully allowed fiction – especially mythology – back into her life. The result was her debut novel, God Awful Loser, featuring Cupid, the Roman God of Love, in a comedic adventure for teens and adults. Silvia got to visit some of the book’s key scenes at Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe and Italy’s Roman Colosseum; she has yet to visit Death Valley, the site of another crucial scene.
The book’s sequel, God Awful Thief, continues Cupid’s misadventures. Silvia’s hoping The Fates are kind and send her to the places of which she’s written, this time Sicily’s Venus Tower and the Sydney Opera House.
The third and final book of the God Awful trilogy, God Awful Rebel, incorporates scenes from Moscow’s onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Mayan Tikal Temple in Guatemala.
Silvia’s been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for more than a decade and served as the Wisconsin chapter’s (and the nation’s) first Indie & Self-Publishing Coordinator, helping new authors and illustrators on their publishing journey. She’s now honored to be a part of the state’s leadership team as the Assistant Regional Advisor. She is also a member of the Council for Wisconsin Writers and the Wisconsin State Reading Association.
Silvia is videographer for the award-winning Fantasy Art Workshop Video Series and Jeff Miracola’s YouTube channel, which features nearly 80 videos and tallies more than 1.5 million views. Her husband is an accomplished fantasy illustrator and children’s book artist. Together they’ve traveled to many countries for their work and hope to visit many more.
When Silvia’s not writing, reading, or shooting video, she’s most likely working out. She’s a 13-time age-group national ice speedskating champion who has also coached, officiated, and served as meet announcer. Early 2018 saw Silvia call the play-by-play action at the US Speedskating Olympic Trials.
She and Jeff also dabble in running and cycling, trying to keep a good pace. They have three children.
Silvia enjoys meeting people from all walks of life and especially enjoys chatting with writers and readers at her many talks at bookstores, writing conferences, and schools. To see if she’s available for your next event, go to her In-Person Visits page.