Tag Archives: Zeece Lugo

Reflections On Our Times

I just took this picture. It’s the view I have from my terrace at the moment. What is normally a beautiful sweep of mountains in the distance,  has been reduced to a film of white dust which totally  eclipses the mountains. It looks like a shot of southern Florida when you’re away from the water.

The phenomenon is caused by Sahara dust. You might be wondering what does Puerto Rico, a small island in the Caribbean, have to do with anything in the Sahara, especially its dust. The answer lies with the whims of climate.

Now, I must  emphasize at this point, that never  until I returned to the island ten years ago, had I heard of Sahara dust. My mother, who taught me everything I learned about the island and my ancestry, never mentioned it. She did talk at length of the terrifying thunderstorms of summer and of the northerly spring showers named for the “Pigeon Peas.” She also mentioned often the great killer hurricanes of her father’s youth and the earthquake of 1918.


Yet, never did she mention any Sahara dust. During the few years I spent in the island as a child and the many times I visited over the years, I never saw or heard of Sahara dust.  Baffled by this, I asked several of my neighbors and most of my cousins and friends about it.  All of them claim that the phenomenon was not seen in their youth, but began appearing a few decades ago.


It turns out this is not true. These Sahara dust  episodes have been happening for thousands of years,  but they were light, and no one noticed. Now they are really heavy and  strongly visible.  This week’s episode is expected to reach the southern USA.


What exactly is it? As I understand the issue, dust from the sandy Sahara is lifted into the upper wind currents of the atmosphere and is carried halfway across the world where if finally falls to blanket our island. Obviously, our island is only a small part of the recipient lands.


We, Puerto Ricans, see this as insult added to injury. In the recent past (last three years,) we have been assaulted by a category 5 killer hurricane,  the Financial Oversight and Management Board, a series of earthquakes which began last Christmas season and are still being felt, the overthrow of the previous republican governor under a juicy scandal,  and the Covid 19 pandemic which brought about a complete shutdown of the island.

Now, Puerto Ricans are, as a people, deeply optimistic and resilient, but there are limits. Many tend to see every little misfortune as a precursor to the end of the world. One of my closest neighbors and dearest friend is fully convinced that the end of the world is here. She preaches to me daily, wearing her mask, of course.


She watches the news of the mainland (USA) and points to the news coverage of race riots and rising pandemic numbers, and crumbling economy as proof that the end of the world is near. She might have a point.  I believe I can identify the anti-Christ. I refrain from telling her my suspicions because she is a staunch republican, and I’d hate to lose her friendship.


As an author, this is all very depressing to me. If the world comes to an end, who will read my books? Should I keep writing? Should I leave out all the sex, violence, and supernatural characters that I may be judged more kindly? I have tough decisions to make.


I hope you read between my lines and grasp the underlying humor.  I am attempting to prove that I am optimistic and resilient. I spit in the face of adversity.  It could be worse: we can still get a volcanic eruption or a meteor strike. We should count our blessings!


If you have not read my Vampires in the Mist series, now is the time. The 5th volume, Bloodstone, is now available.


Living Alone During Corona Virus

Dear Friends and Readers:
I am, like many of you, living isolated.  When I retired and moved to my beautiful little place in the mountains of Puerto Rico, it was the achievement of a long-cherished dream.  I saw myself rising to a breath-taking view every morning, drinking my morning cup of coffee in bliss, and writing for hours without distractions or time-consuming responsibilities. It was exactly like that for several years.
My grown children, grandchildren, and brothers stayed in Florida, living their lives, managing their careers, and enjoying their retirements. I did not see living away from them as an obstacle to closeness. After all, I flew to Florida several times a year, and if there was a family emergency, I stayed there to help as long as they needed me. We always keep in touch with calls and text messaging, etc. Sometimes, I talk to my children more in one day than I ever did in one month when I lived fifteen minutes away from them.
The last month, however, has been one I never thought I’d live through. In Puerto Rico, we’ve managed to keep the Corona virus under control with very strict measures. You must understand that we’re one of the highest populated areas in the world. We have over three million inhabitants squeezed into an island measuring thirty-five miles wide by ninety miles long. We had, at one point, over four million people, but many moved to the mainland in the last ten years.
Since a large part of the island is mountainous, most of the three million people live in the highly populated metro areas where work is more likely to be found. A virus can rip through these areas like a bullet through paper, as we’ve seen in New York City. Our governor, fresh from the earthquakes of last January, took immediate action. We’ve been on lockdown for a month now, and we take it seriously.
There are close to fifty houses on the street where I live. If you sit at my veranda, with a wide view of the entire countryside and network of roads, you might see a car moving in the distance once every fifteen minutes. My neighbors stay home. They put out their trash and wave at me from afar. Only essential businesses can open: hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and banks. Hardware stores can open two days a week, as well as auto repair shops.
For the last week, only cars with license plates ending in even numbers could be out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: odd numbers were allowed on the road on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. All vehicles are grounded on Sundays, and all businesses closed. A driver caught breaking the rule, will have his or her car impounded and must pay a pretty steep fine to recover it.
I have not been out of my house for a month. I have not had a visitor for a month. I stocked food and supplies before the lockdown began. I made an online-shopping order at the local supermarket to be delivered in the next few days. I have a mask and gloves and plenty of disinfectant.
How do I spend my days? I am physically alone every day and night. I rise, as usual, by eight o’clock. I make it a point to put on makeup and make myself presentable as I always did before the pandemic. I go through the daily rite of “opening” the house. I open all curtains, turn on the computer, the coffeemaker, the local tv news. I drink a cup or two of coffee while watching the latest on the virus around the world. Then, I put on some gloves and go outside to water my plants and do some pottering outside. I wave or talk across the distance to my neighbors.
My phone rings often because I have a large family about half of which lives here also, mostly first and second cousins. My Florida family calls as well. My granddaughter, eight-year-old Jasmine, calls me daily. She loves to Facetime. I sometimes spend twenty minutes watching her do her school work! I guess she feels she has company if I’m watching.
I spend hours at my writing and a few more hours also reading. I try not to read drama or anything depressing. I stay with authors and series I love. For example, I am now reading Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series- again.
I have also made a commitment to spending forty-five minutes on my elliptical exercise machine on a daily basis. I go to the Accuradio website and play the K-Pop station. I find that K-Pop music is excellent for working out. As a result, I’ve fallen in love with 2PM and EXO and lost ten pounds.
I downloaded an app on my iPad to teach me German. I lived in Germany for three years back in the eighties, but I forgot all the German I learned back then. I spend thirty minutes each day listening and repeating. I find the language app is very relaxing. I play Solitaire and Temple Run on my iPad. Today, I mopped my entire house after Gigi, my Roomba sweeper, finished sweeping. Gigi is my make-believe pet. 
As you can see, I have no problem being alone or keeping busy. At first, I fought the idea that social isolation was needed. I doubted the extreme measures the island was facing were necessary. I did not want my personal rights curtailed. I worried about the economy. I thought it was all a media ploy. After watching images from Italy, Spain, and New York, I am now grateful and willing to make the sacrifice. I feel healthy, safe, and luckier than most. I have absolutely no worries about myself or my neighbors.
I am, however, terrified about my family in Florida. I don’t get a sense of urgency from them. I get the impression they don’t see the incredible seriousness of the situation. Is it because they’re young and do not feel vulnerable? Yesterday, my son was cooking on his new, state-of-the-art grill. It was his anniversary present from his wife. She got it at Walmart the day before!
Four days earlier, my grandchildren and an older cousin were also at Walmart, and then they went to pick up food at McDonald’s. My son works for the government, and he says several of the workers in his building have tested positive for Corona virus. My daughter works at a prison. She says no visitors are allowed, but the workers coming in daily are a hazard. Neither she nor he has been tested.
I hear these stories, and my stomach turns into a knot. I live in terror of losing one of my children or their spouses or my grandchildren. The worst part is that when I try to get them to understand my worries, they get annoyed at me and brush me off. They don’t seem to realize that if they died, I’d want to go with them too. 
You must be wondering about the point of my rambling. My point is that if you have someone you love, do the right thing for them, to save them heartache and worry. Stay home for them. Take precautions for them. Social distancing is one step, but it’s not enough. Stay away from crowds and groups. Go out only when absolutely necessary. That’s the best way to say I love you.


Are you a lover of classic literature? If you are, you can read to your heart’s content for FREE!  No, you don’t have to borrow from a library. You can own books by authors such as Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad, etc. totally for free.  

You will need a wifi connection and the time to peruse Amazon’s list of free classics. Of course, you’ll also need a reading app for your phone or tablet, but those are also free and widely available. I use the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone. 

No, I am not talking about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, for which you have to pay. I am referring to the immense list of totally free books available which are out of copyright protection and part of the public domain. Of course, you can traipse over to Project Gutenberg and spend hours sifting through their complex listings. You can also head over to Amazon and check out the Free Classics.

The Amazon listing is a lot easier to search and most importantly, to download.  Plus, many of the books have nice covers. Of course, a few will have the generic Gutenberg cover.

There are also works which are not free, but which are sold for as little as $0.99 for an entire collection. I happen to be a lover of P.G. Wodehouse’s work. I’ve collected most of his works at very little cost.

The same for John Carter! I love those books.



Blood and Magic, the 4th exciting volume of Vampires in the Mist, has been released! Don’t miss this next installment, as Rose once again is swept away in a brand-new, terrifying adventure.

Vampires in the Mist is a novella serial. It  features heroine Rose from Miami, young but not too young, spunky, and clueless at first. Lured, seduced, and stolen at a plush South Beach party, Rose finds herself trapped in a world she imagined only existed in books.

Surrounded by powerful, seductive vampires vying for her rare blood, she is forced to accept her destiny as a companion of the blood. These are rare, gifted  females whose special  blood is precious to the covens. But Rose’s road in her new world is one of danger and adventure as different factions  scheme and fight for the right to acquire the most powerful and only companion to appear in seventy years.

Does this plot seem common? Surely, amongst the dozens of urban fantasy stories, many similarly themed series can be found. But Vampires in the Mist is different in profound ways. First, it is not a YA read! Vampires in the Mist is for adult readers.

There is no teenage angst here or “he’s so hot” lines. While the heroine is young, she is not in her teens. Rose is a woman, and  she grows and evolves with each new story. There are scenes of strong sexual content as well. Rose will find her way and grow into a powerful, wise character in time.

Next,  the author always strives for strong characterization. Of course, the story is what grabs the reader, but characters move the story. They must be more than just black and white. They must delight and surprise, and in this series, they do all that and more. They are not stock characters.

There are also important themes running through the series which will appeal to the better reader. The nature of love in its different aspects, the changing face of sexual roles in our times, the influence of mythology and legends in our fiction, and the politics of power as it pertains to women, are all themes woven into this series.

Of course, you will also find all the elements which make urban fantasy so popular today. There are steamy sex scenes, gorgeous vampires and beautiful witches, lots of action, evil characters, and no shortage of perils for our heroine to face and conquer!

The fourth volume, Blood and Magic, is now available. If you want a fresh, fast-paced, addictive reading experience, give this series a try. Remember: No calories, fat, or glutten here. 100% Fiction. You can have all you want!

How to Write a Book Review

It’s a mystery to me why readers are so resistant to writing reviews. I am referring to reviews in Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc. Sharing our opinions on things we either love or hate is intrinsic to us. We love to tell our friends about a great movie we just saw or a brand-new song we just heard or a fantastic restaurant we discovered.
We love to “tell.” Everything changes when we have to “write.” There seems to be an innate fear of that five-letter word, even when the writing involves only a paragraph. This creates a problem for authors because reviews are so intrinsic to our success.
I have friends who will not read a book which has less than fifty reviews on Amazon. At the rate of one review per month, (the average number for a non-bestseller) it will take a book several years to reach fifty reviews. This is especially frustrating to those of us trying to climb the ladder of reviews.
In asking individual readers, I found that most of them don’t like writing book reviews but have no problem writing reviews for other products. Ask them to review the thumb drive or the Ninja blender they just bought, and they go to it with gusto, pictures included.
Why then the reticence to review a book? The answer possibly lies in the preconception that a reader is expected to write a literary review. You know, those your English teacher made you write.
Authors themselves, when they write reviews for other authors, write such reviews. It’s sad because by example, they discourage regular readers from reviewing. Often, readers tell me they don’t write reviews because they don’t know how. I really must stress that there is no set “how” in reviewing.
First, I’m grateful for any review that seems heartfelt and honest, no matter the length. You don’t have to write a literary criticism because my books are not literary wonders written for college professors. No one is grading you.
Next, there is no magic formula to follow. Write as if you were speaking to a friend or to someone sitting next to you at the hair salon. The important thing is to zoom-in on what you found most noticeable about the book.
A review should be appropriate to the work. I would never give a Christian book a bad review because it sells religion. To give a book a negative review because it has sex scenes, and you happen to be totally against sex in books, is in rather bad form too.
Any book with explicit content is required to have a warning. If you don’t like sex in your content, then don’t choose such books. In a fair review, you may mention that the book has sex scenes; however, many readers like sex scenes and would rather know if they were well written. The point: you should review fairly.
Finally, a review need not be a composition-length work. A simple, heart-felt paragraph is often worth a thousand words.  The following is a copy of a review written for my book Angel’s Guardian by an Amazon customer. Notice the casual, informal tone, the missing caps, etc. The reader wrote a few lines only, but she leaves no doubt as to how she feels about the book. I loved this review!
Review at Amazon from Aliciaann
Definitely not your twilight vampire. More like Brick in the Black series, by ms. Andrujiski. This series seems to be comparable to it. I’m hooked already. I expect to be up most of the night reading. Oh darn. I’m suffering from sleep deprivation again. Glad I’m retired and can sleep till 10am
If you are nervous about putting your thoughts in writing, try the following formula. Take the last book you read, and write your review following my simple guidelines.
If you address these simple points in your review, you can’t go wrong.
1.       This book is (really great, really bad, ok, not my cup of tea, not for everyone).
2.      I really liked or disliked (describe something you really liked or disliked about the book.
3.      I would highly recommend this book (or not) and will definitely read (or not) this author’s books in the future.
The following are things some reviewers mention, but most don’t. Your review is yours and you decide what to include.
***The book has explicit scenes of sex and violence
***There are many grammatic and spelling errors or the writing is flawless.
***The English used is British English
***There was humor in the book.
***There was too much dialogue and not enough description (or the opposite).
***The characters were believable and likeable (or not.)
Remember: I’d rather have a short, honest review with misspellings and bad punctuation, that speaks from the heart, than no review at all.