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. 

Muscle Memory: Trash

The first novel I ever read that wasn’t a classic like Black Beauty or Robinson Crusoe was Harold Robbins’ The Adventurers.  It was a book that was hidden in the topmost shelf of this bookshelf inside my bedroom.  I was about 12 when I read The Adventurers and let me tell you, the first chapter alone had rape and murder, things a 12-year old shouldn’t be reading about.  But what did I know?  I devoured that book from cover to cover (actually, it didn’t even have a cover) and fell in love with Diogenes Alejandro Xenos, or Dax.  I thought he was God’s gift to women.

The second novel I read was Shogun by James Clavell.  I was grounded for a week for returning home past curfew and so without TV privileges, I read that 800+ page book in a week.  And I fell in love with John Blackthorne, the English sailor who ends up stranded in 17th century Japan.  I was probably 13 or so then and I remember how my grandfather, a retired judge and mayor, was so proud of the fact that I was apparently reading literary fiction (he had no idea about The Adventurers though).

Then came Harlequin’s Mills & Boon books that were being passed around at school.  I still remember taking one home to read for the night and for some reason I ended up taking it with me to my grandparents’ house next door.  The moment my grandfather saw that book, he grabbed it from my hands and ripped it to shreds.  It was trash, he said, and I should never ever read trash.  He said he would rip every single romance book he would see me read and after that first and last book that he ripped – that I had to pay back my classmate for – I knew better than to bring one to his house.  Or read one out in public.

Fast forward so many decades later, and here I am writing trash.  I write about rich men and not-so-rich women, the damsel in distress and the damsel who’s not so in distress.  The drama, the melodrama, the love triangle, or not-so-love triangle, the tropes (oh, yes, those overused tropes) and cliches.

Funny though, because as long as no one says anything – that such things are over-used or cliche, I’m fine.  I can write 5000 words  a  day – who cares if I haven’t fed my kid his lunch yet?  I’ve got a story to write, damn it.

But have someone say, oh that’s so cliche, or that plot’s so over-used in my comments sectionand they just raised my grandfather from the dead, and here he is now, sitting right next to me, reminding me, no, yelling at me not to read trash, and what the hell am I doing, writing such trash?

It’s amazing, this thing called muscle memory, isn’t it? How simple things trigger them to come up and they won’t let go of you so easily.  Thank goodness for e-books because he has nothing to rip to shreds anymore.

Well, actually, he does.

And that’s the initial motivation to write a good story about identity (mistaken identity, apparently over-used) and relationships (way overused), because now that’s granddaddy’s up and about, I’m really just writing trash. Garbage. Basura (which is Filipino for, you guessed it, trash).

Plain. Old. Trash.


(I’m participating in some Harlequin sponsored writing contest called SYTYCW15 (So You Think You Can Write) and the winner gets a 2-book deal.  It’s not necessarily about good writing because in the end, the winner is the story with the MOST votes on designated voting days.  So why I’m bothering I have no idea.  But with a 14K word manuscript already, guess there’s not turning back – ghost or no ghost.  Trash or no trash.  And yes, this piece is written in response to comments in my story, just from the 100 word pitch alone that my story pitch, while “flawless” is using a plot that’s overused and so cliché.)

Distracting Myself

…and hoping for some inspiration!

So Wattpad is having this contest that’s in partnership with Harlequin and it’s called So You Think You Can Write. In this case it’s the next romance novel.  And the winner will have the chance for a 2-book publishing contract with Harlequin.

It took me some time to think about it, what with forum talk about how Harlequin is the worst there is for writers and something about a 2.6% payday per book sold once everything else is deducted. It’s disappointing to say the least and enough for me to just say, screw it! I’ll just self-pub.

But then it hit me! I’ve already self-pubbed! Now what else haven’t I tried? For one I haven’t even done the legwork to get myself an agent, neither have I shopped my novels around (so busy self-pubbing, that’s why). So what have I got to lose?

So as of yesterday I threw my hat in the ring with a new novel, and now I’m stumped. What do my characters want?

It’s one thing to write because you want to write. It’s one thing to write something that fits some sort of mold and in this case, a romance novel. 

So while I figure out how wealthy families can feud over inheritance and what can one carry as far as something valuable enough to go after, I’m drawing. And coloring. And kinda doing everything but write despite a looming deadline.

AKA getting those creative juices flowing…

Lessons Forgotten

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

He was a judge, a councilman,
my grandfather.
He taught me how much
the written word
that good books read
helped one’s spirit grow,
excellent books devoured
only strengthened what
the soul already knows.
But when he tore that
Harlequin romance paperback
in two,
he told me that among great books,
there would be trash, too,
that none of them would enhance
a brain that continued
to always grow,
so read only the best, he said,
that’s all you need to know.

But if grandfather
were still alive today
would he like what he’d see?
What would he say
of the Kindles and the iPads
with their trashy books within?
Would he gnash his teeth
knowing I’ve gone past
Harlequin –
when he’d find out that among
the hundreds of books in my e-readers –
even the best,
there’s a trashy tale hidden here
and there, tucked in
with all the rest,
of whips and chains
and sex and gore
He’s probably rolling in his grave
right now –
for there’s even more.

Daily Prompt