Dear February

Why do you have to be such a tough writing month?  With a deadline looming in five months (I know, five months is a long time), I’m facing a tough rewrite ahead for the sequel of my book, Loving Ashe.

I already wrote the sequel last year, all 110K words of it, so technically, I should be done.  And when I serialized it on Wattpad for five months, they even included it in their After Dark app, a curated list of stories suited for reading, well, after dark.  And I know, I know, it’s “only” Wattpad, but I think I wrote a good story, one that even left readers polarized.

After all, it’s not easy seeing your favorite character fall off his pedestal.  A leopard, after all, can’t hide its spots, so naturally a few readers were upset.  But who was it that said, kill your darlings?

So the rewrite is a tough one, because a part of me does NOT want to rewrite the damn thing.  I actually do like the way I’d written it – women’s fiction with elements of romance written from the male character’s point of view – but somehow, the business part of me thinks that I need to change it to fit the trends of the moment, putting more focus on the romance and the kink and the drama.

Who cares if it’s me selling out my characters and the story so that I can make it easier for the prospective reader to click the BUY button.  I am selling out, so who am I kidding?

But it’s fizzling, though I tell myself I probably just need more coffee at 9:30 pm and maybe the muse will start talking to me again.  But he probably isn’t thrilled to see his story rewritten and his writer selling him out, and all this while other muses and their storylines dance in my head, taunting me.

So I guess what I’m saying, February, is that for the first time in a long time, my muse and I aren’t on speaking terms and it’s driving me crazy.  I finished rewriting Chapter 2 and was feeling quite proud of myself; I even added a bit of a sex scene in there for that person who told me I should have just had Ashe and Riley have sex in the elevator (Chapter 2) and called the novel done.  So this development is definitely a win…right?

Only it doesn’t feel like one, not when there’s this huge struggle going on inside my head (or I need more caffeine at 9:30 pm) and the muse isn’t speaking to me at all.  Or maybe that’s my intuition telling me, NO! Don’t sell out!

Maybe I should just stop for a while and listen, and hear what the muse has to say.  I don’t want to write to market (which is what this rewrite is all about), at least not with this story, not when it consumed me half of last year to write it and the words were literally singing from my fingers, but now the thought of rewriting it is consuming me for all the wrong reasons.

So, yup, February, it’s a tough month for writer-me.  But I sure hope everyone else is having it a lot easier.

 

A Year of Muses To Come

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

– Ray Bradbury

This is SO my New Year’s resolution – which was the same resolution I had for 2015.

What’s yours?

Muses

What A Difference A Year Makes

On Christmas Day, my sister-in-law told me that I was the happiest she’d seen me in a very long time.

“You’re finally doing what you were meant to do,” she said as she reminded me that this time last year, we had talked about how I was going to start publishing my work for 2015.  And while I did the usual, aw, thank you, I’m still working on it, and I’ve got a long way to go stuff (a habit I have to quit doing because such attitude diminishes all the angst and hard work I’ve put in my writing and publishing journey), I had to admit, she was right.

Because a year ago, I hadn’t yet taken that big leap of faith into self-publishing – at least psychologically.  Sure, I went through the motions of clicking that Publish button and all that, but in my mind, I hadn’t yet embraced the idea that I was an author – a self-published author.  I still held on to some guilt and some shame and whatever else that probably plague many self-published authors when they start.  I just didn’t believe in myself.

But what a difference a year makes.

I no longer hold onto that burning shame that I held onto for being a “self-published author” versus a traditionally pubbed one.  I smile when someone callously jokes at the holiday party, “so how many of your 5-star reviews are from relatives?” (Answer: NONE) or when people ask me why I’m not traditionally published or have a literary agent (though if you’d like to represent me, I’m open to the possibilities).

I’m an author, and that’s what matters.

As a writer, a lot of people don’t realize just how much courage it takes to put words out there, whether one is trad or self-pubbed.  It actually feels worse for self-pubbed authors like me when it’s put out there for free (free writing/reading platforms or free downloads) – especially  when you have NO idea whether anyone will connect with your characters or your stories, or worse, wonder if they got their money’s worth paying for your book when they could have gotten themselves a Venti Starbucks Latte instead.

Still, what a difference a year makes – and I wouldn’t trade 2015 with its highs and lows for anything else.

Because, in the end, independent authors like me write because as creative souls, we have no choice.  We take risks and make tough decisions with our writing, from the art (process) to the product (book).  We give away more for free than we receive – something we’re sometimes expected to keep doing just to keep ourselves current and relevant.

Still, we do it because we have to.  We do it to feed the muse that lives in our hearts and our souls.  We do it to allow for that endless flow of creativity that nourishes us and gives us reason to wake up every morning – and because we fear that one day it will stop flowing because we chose to ignore it.

Source: What A Difference A Year Makes

NaNoWriMo Files: Day 1

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner

Well, it’s November 1st, and that means that NaNoWriMo has officially started. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a monthlong write-fest for people like me to write 50k words in 30 days.  It sounds crazy, but the whole point is to get the story down on paper. Don’t edit, don’t stop.  Just keep on going till you get to 50K and even higher.

It also stands for National Novel Writing Month and here’s the official information from their website:

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters.

Through all our programs, we work to empower and encourage writing and vibrant creativity around the world:

  • The Young Writers Program promotes writing fluency, creative education, and the sheer joy of novel-writing in K-12 classrooms. We provide free classroom kits, writing workbooks, Common Core-aligned curricula, and virtual class management tools to more than 2,000 educators from Dubai to Boston.
  • The Come Write In program provides free resources to libraries, community centers, and local bookstores to build writing havens in your neighborhood.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writing retreat, designed to provide the community, resources, and tools needed to complete any writing prompt, novel or not.

I’ve always been an advocate for literacy so this ticked all my buttons when I first heard about it three years ago. I totally failed the first year, churning out 16K words after ten years of not writing.  But the bug hit me then, because the following year, when Camp NaNoWriMo came along, I churned out 90K words of a novel whose character of Greg became the basis for Erik Maystrom in Finding Sam a year later.

That was a major accomplishment for me and I realized that even after churning out 140K words of fan fiction, I could also write just about as many words, even more, of original fiction.

For last year’s NaNoWriMo, I wrote Loving Ashe, and by the time I was done, I had 110K words done in a month and a half.  Then off to the editor followed by 8 months of percolating till I hit the publish button in August of this year.

This year, I’m rewriting the second book of the Loving Ashe Trilogy, Loving Riley, for my NaNoWriMo project.  With everything from the beginning to the clunky ending, the poor baby needs a major overhaul so instead of jumping into a whole new story, this month is devoted to Ashe and Riley (well, maybe Collateral‘s Heath and Billie, too, which is in editing phase) so I can get them through that awkward growing phase in any relationship.  It’s also Ashe’s story, which turned out to be more stressful to me as a writer because I had to rake my poor muse through the coals in this one.

If you’d like to see my rewriting progress, check out my Loving Riley page here and if you’d like to be updated of the latest chapters, opt in with your email address as well.  I think Leanpub has an option to integrate Mailchimp, which is an email software, but I’ve yet to even figure out my Mailchimp return address (oh the joys of having your own massage practice yet needing to get a PO box for your writing career).

Leanpub, which is where I’ll be hosting Loving Riley as I rewrite it, is an awesome platform for serialized fiction, with variable pay ranges for readers to choose, even more than the suggested retail price.  You see exactly how much my royalty will be, and because I’m choosing NaNoWriMo as the cause that I’m supporting, you’ll see just how much of my net proceeds will go to them.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 5.12.36 PM

I wrote about Leanpub last year but need to do a new one since they’ve done some major changes to their site, making it easier for writers to now upload finished work instead of having to write in markdown language.  While I already do write in markdown language, majority of people I know don’t.

It’s primarily populated by technical books and while it intimidated me last year, I realized how serialized books in technology works so well because coding wins and fails depends on open communication between readers/testers.  But its founder has always maintained that it’s a platform for fiction writers, too, and I was really impressed already with its output epub, mobi and pdf output.  This year, with its latest updates in the interface, I’m giving it another try with my novels. I also like that you can automatically allot a portion of your royalties to a cause you choose.

Alright, for Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, I sure am chatty, aren’t I?  Oh well, hope I didn’t bore you too much and I really need to get started with the rewriting.

What about you?  Are you dong NaNoWriMo this year?

Via Liz Madrid http://lizmadrid.com/2015/11/01/nanowrimo-files-day-1/

Remiss

I have been remiss with all my regular postings because I’m writing and researching for my writing. For someone who knows nothing about stocks and bonds and shares and margin calls, why on earth did I have to pick that as the background for my current book which is being written and submitted for Harlequin’s SYTYCW15 contest? And I’ve got less than 10 days left to go!

Oh well, I’m going to plot again.

 
Actually, maybe not. 

Plotting (Or Supposed To)

 
I’m pretty much a procrastinator
Still, knowing that, what do I do
when I’m supposed to be tying loose ends
yet here I am, killing time with you.

I really should be working
for I’ve got so many things to do –
Stories to write and plot away
instead of dreaming dreams with you.

The novel won’t write itself, I’m sure
though it may not have much choice
when I while away my time off the page
my poor characters find their voice,

and run off with the story
it’s the only thing they can do
as I finally chase after them with pen and pencil
and write their story the way I was meant to.

So I’m Supposed to Be A Writer

So I’m supposed to be a writer
though really, it’s no big deal
at least my family indulges me
with looks of pity it’s surreal

with no real books to carry
there’s nothing for me to show
but black print on some tablet
just strings of words that I know

It’s what I tell myself each morning
as I sit in front of a screen
that I really am a writer now
It’s all I’ve ever been

Since I was a little girl
spinning all my stories with glee
so let me tell myself I’m a writer again
hoping it’s the same thing everyone sees

Hook, Line and Twitter

Me and contests should really be banned, because somehow I just can’t stop myself from joining.  Well, some of them.

You see, Wattpad_Romance is holding this writing contest called Hook, Line and Twitter and the rules are to write a really good hook for a romance story using under 140 characters.  You’re really using less than 140 characters because you also have to include @wattpad_romance and #loveshot to qualify – yes, I actually thought about that really hard and went, how the hell can I write a hook in under 124 characters?

So of course, what do I do?  I came up with a hook and tweeted it.  It didn’t even matter that I had no idea what to make of the hook to begin with.  But it sounded pretty cool…

That was the first step of the contest.  Now if your tweet gets favorited by @Wattpad_Romance, then you move on to the next step, which is to write your story – romance – with the theme, Those Blue Eyes.  Limit is 4,000 words.

So of course I write  a story to match the hook I had just come up with and now I’ve got a 3900-word short story called Her Soul Place.  Whether I stuck to the theme of Those Blue Eyes is up for huge debate – I didn’t – but it doesn’t matter. I wrote 4K words and that’s not too shabby.  Deadline for the short story to be published on Wattpad is March 10, but the story’s already up.

SOULPLACE_final2

If you’d like to read it, you can click this link or the cover above.  If you’re a Wattpad member, please vote or comment. And if you’re not, what are you waiting for? 🙂  I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Winners get to be included in a collection of winning stories, and I’ve already decided that if I don’t win (I didn’t really stick to the theme of “those blue eyes”, so there’s that), it ends up expanded into a novella, at least.   I’m just so excited to see two new muses come up for me – and I love how they often crop up from prompts and challenges.

 

Happy Dance

I know this is my poetry and daily prompt blog but can I just say how happy I am to find out that my #NaNoWriMo novel Loving Ashe is #2 under Chicklit on Wattpad?!

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Though I completed 50K words in November, with the current novel at 66K words, I’m in Act III – which is actually quite hard to get right! But I’m keeping my fingers crossed I will, and #amwriting

The Playlist I Write To

Most songs that I like don’t usually play on pop radio stations.  I think it’s because my tastes lean more towards folk, alternative, acoustic and world music.

Inspired by the previous music post, I figured I’d share with you the songs that make up the current playlist that I write to, which inspires the story theme of the novel I’m currently working on.

Ho Hey by The Lumineers


Home by Phillip Phillips


Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips


I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons


Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men