ARTICLE: 4 Stages of Life

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It has been the alpha and omega of writing ruts for me. Looking back, I posted my last article on February 1…of 2016! Starting 2016 off, I had just released Kalcyon, the second installment in The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy, and planned to complete the last book by the end of the year. Quite ambitious, even for me, but I always work better under pressure. Deadlines push me forward because of my resolute belief that failure is a result of your own laziness, at least 90% of the time.

It has been a little over a year since I have touched my trilogy, not because I didn’t want to write but because it was one of the busiest years for me. If you are the type of person who cannot stay idle for too long without wanting to pull your hair out, then you and I are in the same boat. If I find there is extra time in my schedule, I always find something new to fill it with.

As the saying goes, “idleness is the enemy of the soul.”

When I had first started writing, I was going through a transition of “professions.” This allowed me more flexibility and free time than most people, since my job did not revolve around the cookie cutter 9 to 5 office job. I was by no means making any financial progress, but I was also in my mid-20’s and decided that this was the perfect time to pursue my passions and discover new ones. And when I start something I take it as far as I can.

Anyways, I watched a Korean drama that gained instant popularity from its unique story line and perfect cast. Goblin was a fantasy take on an old Korean tale about goblins–it is nothing like the goblins American’s would picture. Read the synopsis of the drama here. Watching this drama made my creative nerve itch; this always happens whenever I read or watch something that piques my interest. There was a specific belief that was introduced and woven through the drama and its characters.

Each person has four lives:

one that sows

one that waters

one that reaps

one that consumes

While, I will not take this time to go into a debate of reincarnation, I will say that I see my current life going through these stages.

1990-2015: Season of Sowing. From the moment I was born, until the end of 2015, I had been preparing the land and sowing my seeds. Though there were times I stumbled and lost my way, it brought me to where I needed to be.

2016: Season of Watering. All the hard work in 2015 was beginning to give life to a few sprouts of hope. It was tedious and trying, but my anticipation grew…

2017-?: Season of Reaping. If all goes as planned, the crops are going to be in full bloom. Even though my workload would be increasing, it would be the best thing that has ever happened. The downside is that the growing of one business means the draining of another part of my life.

But, it is funny how the world works. The slightest change or single conversation can switch your gears to turn in the opposite direction; it can remind you of where you were two years ago. 2014 me and 2016 me were two totally different beings. Despite advancing into a new stage of your life, remembering how you were before will renew you in a way that will propel you forward.

The biggest failure in life is not finishing something you started. And today I had an unexpected reminder of that. An innocent conversation with a few kids made me remember my passions for writing. Money and fame do not define a passion.

The passion exists because you love and will do it no matter what anybody says, no matter the benefits or consequences, and no matter how little time you may have to accomplish it.

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ARTICLE: So, what do you do?

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So, what do you do?

What have you been up to?

 Did you find a job?

As a millennial in her mid-20’s, this question has easily become the bane of my existence. My life in regards to employment is unconventional to say the least. I’m ridiculous busy, yet not busy at all. If you don’t know me personally, let me give you a brief overview of the things I do (in order of importance).

  1. Club. I own a volleyball club that runs year around because there is a girls and a boys season. My responsibilities include all bookkeeping, ordering equipment/gear, coaching at practices and tournaments, and general admin work. (aka it’s almost tax season and I’m kind of stressed.)
  2. Coaching. In addition to owning a volleyball club, I’m also the head coach at a high school for a boys volleyball team. This is a lot of work as well because I have to invest more time into it. I practice 2-3 hours every week day and two of the days there are travel games, not to mention weekend tournaments. Once March rolls around, until the end of May, my scheduled is BOOKED.
  3. Weddings. I also started my own wedding videography business a couple years ago. So whenever I don’t have a tournament on a weekend, I book weddings to film. Usually this is an all-day affair for filming and consists of about one month of editing.
  4. Writing. While I would love to dedicate more time to writing it is more of a hobby as of now. I just finished Kalcyon (The Phoenix Ashes, #2) and I should probably start on the last installment of the trilogy soon.

Anyway, you’ll notice I’m not the traditional 9-5 type of person at all. I dabble into a lot of different things and so organizing my life is kind of a nightmare sometimes because I have to make sure to meet deadlines for each “job.” Which brings me back to the original dreaded questions. “So, what do you do?” People/family always ask this; it’s the question to fill silence with an answer that may or may not be interesting. The real question is, “What don’t I do?”

Typically, I’ll answer depending on my mood at that given moment. I hate to list the things I do because it usually leads to a lot of questions, so I stick with one and don’t mention the others. I have the luxury of trying new things at this moment in my life and I’m always thankful for the chance to discover what it is I want to dedicate my life to. I think it’s easy enough for me to find an office job and work a 40-hr week, but that’s just not me and I would probably go insane. (I’ve worked in an office for a fashion company before and when month three hit, I just couldn’t take it anymore).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though the road is tough and may not yield immediate spoils, seek your dream job or passion if you have the opportunity. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to put in hours and hours of your time without it feeling like work at all. Most of the times, you won’t end up where you thought you would five years ago. I never imagined I’d be where I am today and I’m ecstatic with what I’ve accomplished in my 25 years of life. I might not be rolling in the dough, but I can confidently say that I am more than satisfied with where I am right at this moment. I can just feel that this year will be an incredible milestone for me. Keep reaching for the stars, they’re closer than you think.

Stop asking, “So, what do you do?”

It’s time to be asking, “So, what do you want to do and what are you going to do about it?”

ARTICLE POST: Planner or Spontaneous

Are you a planner or the spontaneous type? I rest somewhere in-between the two. On one side, I love to plan–I spent $14.99 on a calendar app, yes, a CALENDAR APP. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself, but then again it’s probably the only app I haven’t regretted buying, and literally use it to list day-to-day tasks and events (It even color-codes! yaaaas). Then on the opposite spectrum, I am so spontaneous–I love surprises and surprising, and trying new things. If you’re my friend, I’ve surprised you once or twice, just for the heck of it.

The type of person and my personality is reflected in my methods as a writer. Every idea has been a result from a spontaneous actions I’ve taken, but if I wasn’t a planner, I would NEVER finish a book. Why you ask? Because behind spontaneity, there is no real sense, it’s purely force of will and desire–a rush of adrenaline. I have this general surge of excitement about an idea, but it’s only a matter of time when I run out of gas, and that’s where my planning side comes into play. Drawing up maps of connections between the characters, listing personality traits and physical appearances, accounting the pasts of each character until they’re real-life people to me, timelining all the events of the world, and outlining a whole series is ridiculously fun to me. It might be because I’m a bit of a controlling, methodical person, and as the holder of the pen, I possess all the power–to kill, to resurrect, to bring together, to separate forever.

But I think every writer needs to be spontaneous. Not only does it open new avenues into your writing, it’ll also reveal hidden doors to amazing discoveries. A writer needs to be open-minded to the outrageous. But they also need to know how to rein in the crazy so that they can get the most out of it.

As you might know, my first published book, KARNAGE, was a self-published book and also a baby of a seventeen-year-old’s spontaneous idea. It some ways, I may have rushed the publishing of this first book. There wasn’t much planning involved and it ended up just being straight doing. I’ve definitely slowed down the pace with the second installment of the series, KALCYON, which is scheduled to release late January, as I am taking the steps of marketing it before its release.

I’m also writing a new manuscript for a new series, titled DEATH WISH UNDONE. I’m hoping to get this series published through traditional methods. I’ve already pitched it to two agents who both found the idea intriguing and asked me to send the first 50 pages of the manuscript. I haven’t sent it to them yet, but I’m hoping to send it out soon. This manuscript was a product of much planning and not much spontaneity. In my opinion, while the world building is much more solid, I feel the story still lacks a spicy kick of sorts and I’m trying to figure it out before I send it.

Anyway, when all is said and done. If you’re the planning type, go out and do something spontaneous. If you’re the spontaneous type, sit down and write down a plan or outline. Either way, you’ll be surprised with the results you get and the ideas that will form!

Check out my young adult fantasy book Karnage (The Phoenix Ashes Book 1)! If you love special powers, dragons, and fantastical worlds then you’ll enjoy it!

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ARTICLE POST: Book Reviews, an Author’s Favorite Gift

As both a writer and a reader, I have come to realize the importance of book reviews. I want to emphasize reviews–I am not referring to a book’s ratings. While ratings are important, the review is much more precious. Ratings are subjective because there will always be someone who absolutely hates it and wants to spit on it, but then across the world there is someone who adores it and will reread it until the pages are falling out.

No book will ever please every single reader who reads it. And I would bet my life savings on that statement.

Ratings will show how the majority of the readers feel about the book. Is it popular? Is it mainstream? Whether a book receives a 1-star rating or a 5-star rating, you’ll never know if you’ll like it or not until you read it. That’s why as a reader, I don’t look at the star ratings of a book. First, I look at the summary. Am I interested? Yes. Then, I read some of the reviews (1-star & 5-star reviews). I choose the extremes because I like to read what readers really hated about the book and loved about it. I never read reviews consisting of spoilers though–I hate if I know what happens.

Reviews. What do I look for? I’m mainly searching for red flags of a book’s characteristic in the plot that I know I’ll hate. These red flags are purely personal, so while I might hate something, another reader may love it. For example, there are thousands of readers who love the “The Selection” series by Kierra Cass. However, many of the reviews (good and bad) I’ve read for these books state the main character is extremely annoying because she is an indecisive protagonist. If there is one thing I hate, it’s an irritating main character who can’t make up her mind. So, for this reason, I will not be buying this series anytime soon. Not to say, if I did stumble upon it somewhere for free, I might pick it up to read to see for myself. But, as of now, I have books on my TBR pile that are more appealing with characters I’d enjoy reading about.

Authors live on book reviews. I love reading reviews about my books and to talk to readers to see what they expected, what they were surprised from, and what they were disappointed about. I don’t take anything personally, because I understand that I can’t and will never please every single reader. That’s the human condition in life. No matter how hard you try, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it for some reason. How boring would it be if everyone loved every single thing about the book? There has to be some tug and pull to keep it interesting. A little debate never hurt anyone!

However, there are many times where I have seen readers get unfairly treated for leaving negative reviews of a book they read from other readers who loved it, and vice versa. READERS, RESPECT OPINIONS. Everyone is subject to their own opinions about the books they read. Whether they loved it or hated it, doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack them for their opinions. Agree to disagree.

So readers, I really encourage you to leave ratings and especially reviews of the books you read. Even if it’s only a sentence or two, let the author know what you loved about it or what you absolutely hated about it. Authors love to hear what readers feel about the stories that consumed hours, days, weeks, months, and years of their lives whether it’s praise or criticism.

Check out my young adult fantasy book Karnage (The Phoenix Ashes Book 1)! If you love special powers, dragons, and fantastical worlds then you’ll enjoy it!

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ARTICLE POST: Two Types of Writers

Writers write because they have something to share. Whether they get something back in return is entirely out of their control, so they should focus on what they can control, and that’s their writing.

Some writers will write for their reading audience. They want readers to like their stories (I mean, who doesn’t?) so they end up catering the plot to what they believe will bode well for their audience; books like this are referred to as commercial lit. These writers may twist the plot so that everything works out and nobody important dies and there is a happy ending.

Then, there are the writers who don’t really care whether the readers will like it or not. These writers focus on how they want the plot to progress. If they kill off a reader’s favorite character, so be it. If the heroine ends up dumping every guy and spends life alone at the end of a seven book series, that’s that. Readers can throw the book across the room or cry their eyes out, but that’s how this author wanted it and maybe it was their intention all along. Basically, these writers have a vision for their novel and that’s what they focus on during their entire writing process.

I’m not saying there is a right or wrong to either types of writer. I’m sure there are even some writers who fall somewhere in between the spectrum of the two. In the end, the writer needs to be passionate about his or her story for it to really touch those who are reading it. If readers can feel the passion and toils it took for a writer to complete their story, it’ll be a success whether it receives a 1-star review or a 5-star review.

Most writers don’t write to get rich. They actually assume they’ll be broke. And most writers never get rich off their writing. Even if their book is a literary goldmine, it’s all about the market, and the market is a fickle son of a b****. Writers can try to “read” the market and guess what the next big thing is going to be, but that’s like picking a needle out of a haystack, and finishing a novel is hard enough. First it was vampires, followed by risque erotica, and the current fad dystopian worlds. Who’s to say, maybe the next thing to blow the literary market off its feet will be talking animals who have humans as pets! (You read it here first!)

So, with a market that’s always flopping around as quick as readers turn a page in a book, writers need to focus on the one thing they can control, their writing. Write what you love and never lose your passion, because at the end of the day, whether ten people read it or 10,000 people read it, it’ll be a good day.

 

 

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ARTICLE POST: The Indie Book Stigma

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There are two types of authors: self-published authors and traditionally published authors. But at the end of the day, both authors are still just writers who want to share their story to readers around the world. There are benefit and consequences to both methods of publishing. I haven’t been traditionally published (yet) and decided to go the self-publishing route for my first novel.

Why?

Main reason was that I’m insanely impatient. The second, I’m a do-it-yourself type of girl in the first place and I wanted to try my hand at it. From the moment I started writing my book, I had the cover drawn in my head. When I finally hired someone to create it was a surreal moment for me and I may have squealed once or twice. Formatting the book was a complete nightmare. There were nights that I wanted to tear my hair out because I was struggling to get the correct page numbering format on Word. But when it was all done and ready, the moment I held my book in my hands for the first time was guaranteed one of the best days of my life.

Sometimes I think I should have pursued traditional publishing with a little more kick in my step, but other days I’m happy about my decision to self-publish. Self-publishing is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Luckily, I’m made of steel, or maybe I’m just stubborn and resilient. You have to be committed to the process and know that you’re in it alone and have to rely on your own resourcefulness with no guarantee of a return.

The biggest consequence for self-publishing that I have faced is EXPOSURE. It is near impossible to get an indie book into the hands of the readers. Print on Demand companies have made it a much user-friendly process compared to years before, but still it is near impossible to get it into brick-and-mortar aka Barnes and Noble (THE DREAM!…I’m still in the process of trying to get it on the shelves). There is a stigma in the book publishing industry about self-published books, and it is that the majority stinks; it is not as polished as traditionally published books and come off as amateurish. I agree to a certain extent. While there is a plethora of duds in the growing pile of slush, there are definitely hidden treasures mixed in.

How do I find these hidden gems, you ask?

Book reviewers and bloggers. Trust fellow readers. Especially if you have a book blogger you follow and find their reviews are similar to your own thoughts of the same books, then you’ll find that your reading taste is similar. It’s a chain reaction in the book world, so I guarantee that even if a book was absolutely trash but everyone was reading it, you would end up reading it too.

I’ve sent many copies of my books to book bloggers for a review and many of them enjoyed it very much. So, even though I’m not the most objective person on this topic, I do believe readers should give self-published authors a chance. They work just as hard as traditionally published authors to create stories for you to enjoy and even if you end up hating it, most authors are glad that you took the time to read it. I’ve been blessed with ten 5-star reviews on Amazon, and twelve on Goodreads (not necessarily from the same readers) for my first book KARNAGE (The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy Book 1). However, I wouldn’t mind an extra review that was even 1-star, why? Because at least someone took their time to read it and tell me what they didn’t like about it. I’m always curious to see what readers didn’t particularly like in my books, because it makes me take note of it for my next books.

PS. I’M RUNNING A GIVEAWAY FOR 15 EBOOK AND 15 PAPERBACK  ADVANCED READER COPIES (ARCs) OF KALCYON! Click the picture below to check out my instagram for more info!

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ARTICLE POST: Writing Convention

So I recently went to my first writing convention this past Saturday. It was a one-day affair and about an hour away from my home, so I wasn’t forced to dish out an obscene amount of money to attend it. At the convention, they allowed writers to purchase 10-min pitch times with agents. I decided I would pitch a new trilogy I started writing to two agents, Nephele Tempest and Sara Sciuto.

Before attending, I had no idea what to expect and I was ridiculously nervous about the pitch. I memorized my 1-2 minute blurb and ran it through my head repeatedly the night before, on the drive there, and even during the event. Both my pitches were scheduled early in the day, so I wasn’t pacing throughout the event.

My first pitch was to Sara Sciuto. She represents a variety of works ranging from picture books to young adult books. Which is perfect, because I have a young adult fantasy and a middle grade idea that I’ve been tinkering around with. The beginning of my pitch sounded rehearsed, but it became a more colloquial toward the end (at least I hope it did). She asked me a few questions about it and I answered with more in-depth explanations of the different fantasy concepts woven into it and she said she was intrigued! She handed me her business card and asked me to send the first 50-pgs of my manuscript. I was downright giddy at this point, but I still had about 5 minutes left from my 10 minutes. I didn’t want to just get up and waste half my time, so instead I asked her questions (because from the articles I read about pitches at writing conventions, that’s what you’re supposed to do). I asked her what other fantasy books she’s representing and what style of writing she most particularly enjoyed so I could get to know her better. Overall it was a successful pitch and if she does like my manuscript, I know I would really enjoy working with her!

My second pitch was with Nephele Tempest. By this time, my head was still bobbling from my first pitch, so I was a bit more relaxed and natural. Since I got Sara’s card and interest, I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. (Of course I wanted it to be a success, who wouldn’t want the interest of two agents instead of one?) My second pitch was more natural and conversational and Nephele made a few ooh’s and ahh’s during it that made me smile. She was also very intrigued by it and gave me her business card to send her the first 50pgs of my manuscript as well. I was ecstatic.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if maybe the agents were just giving their cards to all the authors who pitched to them out of good measure since they went out of their way to pay for those short, precious 10 minutes, but it really didn’t matter to me. I felt that in a way, we skipped the first part of querying agents, the part that has them opening the initial email to read your query to ask for a longer sample. And to me, that’s worth every penny. Plus, now the agents are able to put a face to the query/manuscript, which humanizes the process. There’s no guarantee they’ll like my manuscript. They might have enjoyed the idea of it, but writing style is a whole other beast.

I’ve been working on finishing and refining my manuscript in order to send it to them. (Although, I did learn that an agent’s request for a longer sample has no deadline) Therefore, I’m trying not to rush myself because I really want to send my best work. But I have made a self-induced deadline of October 31 to get the first draft completed and the first 50-pgs refined to send out. I figure that I’ll have another 1-2 months after submitting the first 50-pgs to polish the rest of my manuscript while they read my longer sample.

I’m glad I registered for the Los Angeles Writing Workshop 2015 (#LAWW15). It was a very positive experience and I learned a lot. I think the only thing that I might have enjoyed would have been to connect with other writers more. Because the convention was so short, you didn’t really have much time to get to know that many people. I’m thinking it would be great to attend a writing retreat or even a longer writing convention in the future.

This is the first sentence of my new trilogy!

“A wish made was a price paid, and no power could undo it.”
-Death Life Taken

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