Back to Writing

Last 2019, I took a loooong break from writing. I only submitted one book, The Mansion, which is still available to read for free on Wattpad, a translation job, and a couple of editing jobs. I managed to update my Wattpad stories a few times, and wrote a few journal entries every month, but mostly I just stepped back from writing.

That was probably a mistake.

Because it’s so hard to get my writing groove back! 😭

Why did I stop in the first place? It wasn’t a lack of things to write. I have five on-going Wattpad stories. Six if you include IB2, and I pretty much know where all the stories are going. I have three manuscripts that I asked my publisher to hold back because I was going to expand the stories. I have the next three books for that same series lined up, another four-book series, Alpha Squad 5 and 6, Unico Hijos Book 3… and those are only the books that have been on my to-write-like-right-now list because they’ve been in my to-write list for YEARS!

And I have a lot of other manuscripts lined up too. Paranormal romances, more military romances, YA, NA… so yeah, it wasn’t a matter of not having anything to write.

So what was it? Why did I stop?

The simple, honest answer is… I got tired. *gasp*

No, I didn’t get tired of telling stories, I just got tired of… typing. I’ve been writing professionally since 2007. (I’ve been writing sing 1988 but that’s beside the point.) I took an early break in 2008 and finished only two books that year, but I was employed then and barely had time to write. When I decided to write full time, I wrote for the next nine years, non-stop. I’m not as prolific as other writers but I averaged about 8 books a year. And really, I thought I *needed* that break.

I also kinda lost motivation for a while. Those are more personal reasons, and while I’m open about the state of my mental health, some things are better left unshared over the Internet. Especially if they involve other people who have no idea that they’re involved in my personal issues. Heh.

But I love writing. I love making up stories, telling stories, living in made up stories. I will NEVER give up writing though I know now that I do need to take breaks. So while I don’t regret my hiatus last year, I regret how long I took to get back to writing.

I’m slowly getting there. Or at least I think I am. I spent the first week of January writing journal entries, 2020 plans, plots and manuscript outlines, just so I can get used to writing again, especially writing manuscripts. I wrote on Wattpad last year and all of my stories there are written in the first person POV. Adjusting to the 3rd person POV proves a little more challenging than I expected.

But I’m on day 4 of manuscript writing today, and for the first time this year, I wrote more than 2K words for a manuscript written in the 3rd person POV, AND I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT SUCKS!

Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, just that I don’t feel like it sucks. I’ll get to the point where it actually doesn’t suck eventually, but for now, I’m contented.

Hopefully, I can finish this book tomorrow because I only have room for one more chapter (roughly 2,000 more words). Then off to the next book…

I did say I was going to take a break after every manuscript, but I can’t with this series because this was supposed to be released last 2018. My publisher has been really patient with me with this. Also, these manuscripts are not new. I only have to add scenes to them because I asked if they can be released as part of the Premium imprint rather than the regular 20K-word books. I didn’t have to start from scratch.

Also, I missed writing. I missed working. I missed getting lost in a story that I have no idea that the movie I’ve been playing in the background had looped, or what time it was when I surface, or that I haven’t had lunch or dinner because I was busy. I even miss the pagod, and the backache, and the aching wrists. I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of feeling all the aches and pains because I spent a minimum of four hours in front of the laptop.

At the moment, I’m cautiously happy that I’m getting back to it. I’m looking forward to that time when I can write The End at the last page of a manuscript again. I’ll do that soon, I promise.

Thank you to every one who has sent me words of encouragement and love on my social media accounts. I really appreciate the support. I’m motivated and made to feel confident, and it means a lot to me. Thank you!

Anyway, I’m going back to work. Maybe I can squeeze in a few more words (or a hundred) before I need to go to bed.

I hope you get to rest! Sleep well and good night! 🌙

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NaNoWriMo 2019

It’s Halloween! 🎃👻 But because I don’t celebrate Halloween like other people do, the end of October means something different to me. It means NaNoWriMo! 😱

I just signed into my NaNoWriMo account and it said that I’ve been NaNo-ing for the last 8 years. I’ve won a few times, lost a few times… but every time had been a fun experience that I wish I can do every month of the year.If you still don’t know what NaNoWriMo is it’s National Novel Writing Month which is every November. It’s when writers all over sit down with their computers, phones, typewriters, pens and papers, tablets (both electronic and stone if that works for you), and any and all writing instruments to write their hearts out to finish 50,000 words in 30 days.

The first time I tried NaNoWriMo, I wrote 50K words in a month. I didn’t finish the novel then, but that’s actually not the goal. The goal is the 50,000 words. I did, eventually, finish the book at 75,000+ words. It was a Harry Potter fanfic, if I remember my NaNoWriMo novels correctly.Last year, I also finished my NaNo project, The Mansion. It’s still up on Wattpad at the moment but it’s been accepted by my publisher so yay, me! I didn’t finish it in November either but I did finish the 50,000 words within the month. It ended up being an 80K-word novel that I finished a few months later.

This year, I’m excited to finally start a romantic historical fantasy novel that I’ve actually conceptualized a LOOOOONG time ago. Like more than twenty years ago. I found my old notebooks where I wrote plot ideas when I was a teenager, and when I read the plot idea for this, the story just reshaped itself in my head.The original story was supposed to be set in 15th century England. You know, with castles and knights and stuff? But while I sat there, notebook in hand, it just started to rewrite itself.

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I’ve decided to start the story in 18th century Pasig City instead… at least as of my planning stage. I’m calling it This World Where You Exist which is actually taken from my favorite SHINee song, 君がいる世界 (Kimi Ga Iru Sekai, The World Where You Exist).

I still consider myself a Pasiguena even though I haven’t lived there for more than half my life already. My father’s family is from Pasig. My great grandmother who was born in the 1800’s (She died at the age of 103. She was amazing.) had lived there all her life, and my relatives still live in Pasig. If I had a choice and a chance, I’d move back.Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but as of now, the main character is about eighteen years old, and the book will be written from her point of view.

I’ll be posting it on Wattpad anyway so if you want to read it, you can read it from there, but I have to warn you that my NaNoWriMo novels only get the barest edits in November. Again, my goal is to write 50,000 words. It doesn’t matter if they make much sense. So in this book… be prepared for fillers! Historical fillers! BUWAHAHAHA

I’m really excited to start this book, and really nervous as well, but I know I’m going to enjoy writing it. I’ll also be writing for me first. If you find any errors or something sounds wrong, please comment about it and I’d take note, but I’d come back to fix it in December… or if/when I finish the book.

I need to finish writing 1,667 words a day for the novel but I won’t post every day. I’d post after every chapter is finished. My chapters can be as long as 5,000 words so… Just don’t expect to read an update every day. Parang di n’yo naman ako kilala. 😅

I’d also have to remind you (and myself) that along with this novel, I still have to update Marlon’s, Lex’s, and Obie’s books, AND finish my Lees (tentatively title Soju Sessions Series) book. Tbis means I’m probably, hopefully, going to be offline a lot of times except for research. If you see me online please tell me to get off Twitter to write. 😅

Sooooo… wish me luck!

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Hello, My Loves

When I was in college, I’d commute to school from my dorm, hoping to hear a Westlife song on the radio. For me, a Westlife song meant I’d ace a quiz, or not get called by a professor when I didn’t know the answer to a question, or I’d know the answer to a question if a professor calls on me, or I’d see my crush during the course of the day. Back then, hearing a Westlife song meant I’d have a good day.

After I graduated and started job hunting, I’d still wait for a Westlife song to play on the radio during my commute to job interviews. It meant it was going to be okay.

When I was sad or I was going through a rough time, Westlife music was my comfort music long before I discovered SHINee. To me, it was like a hug, telling me that everything was going to be okay.

When they split up in 2012, I was devastated because I never got to see them live. I wasn’t a concert-goer so when they came to Manila at that time, I didn’t make an effort to watch their concert. I had no idea it was going to be their last. Maybe I cried a little. Konti lang. I said I would always have their music anyway, and their songs will always be that comforting hug that got me through tough times.

So when they announced their Twenty Tour, I was estatic! As in ‘yung tuwa ko, iba. Sabi ko hindi ko na talaga papalampasin ‘to because, hello! Okay lang ako?

Na-excite kami ni Rozz, one of my now-official concert buddies, who is also a Westlife fan. Unlike me, she did see them during their last concert in Manila. We talked about going to see the con together, and I volunteered to get our tickets for us sa Megamall when the selling period starts. Okay na di ba?

But on the day the tickets went on sale, na-late ako ng gising. I’ve been on the nightshift for forever so mga 4 or 5 AM na ako nakatulog n’un. If I want to get to Megamall before opening, I had to leave the house before 8:30 AM which means I have to be awake at 7 AM. Mga past nine na ako nagising. So I was at Megamall before 11 AM.

Chill pa ako kasi it was Westlife. All the kids were crazy for Kpop so I thougth di naman siguro gan’un kagulo ang ticket selling. I was thinking about the last EXO concert na talagang nag-iyakan sila kasi ang bilis na-sold out. This was Westlife. Titas like me were chill.

When I got to the customer service area in SM, I went to the counter to ask where I could get a queing number. The harried-looking ate looked at me and said, “D’un po sa dulo. Pero, ma’am, kung Westlife tickets po, sold out na po. Pa-isa-isa na lang po ang available.”

Huwaht?! Nawala ang chill ko!

I hurried to the ate guard to ask for a number (sixty-nine na ako) then I sat near the counter with a group of other titas waiting to see if we could still get tickets. Nagchikahan na kami about when we started becoming fans, where we wanted to sit, how surprised we were because there was a guy sitting with us who was probably only a baby when Westlife debuted but he was a really huge fan…

Medyo naging Bingo na ‘yung ticket selling because the ate at the counter would refresh the website, call out available seats–“VIP po, dalawang magkatabi!” or “Isa pong lower box! Meron pong may gusto?” or “Dalawa pong upper box pero magka-iba pong sections.”–‘tapos sisigaw ka ng BINGO! kung gusto mo ‘yung seat. Joke lang. But anyone who wanted the seat would go to the counter to grab it because the ates at the counter would only hold it for the branch for a few minutes before they refresh the page.

After a while I needed to go to the bathroom so I had to leave even if I wanted to stay in case two adjacent seats would suddenly be available pero mukhang malabo na kasi. I talked to Rozz at siyempre super disappointed kami kasi ticket na naging Bingo card pa! Nagpipigil ako ng iyak sa Snacks section ng SM. Nakita kong nilapitan na ako ni Manong Guard kasi baka akala niya iniiyakan ko ‘yung M&M’s sa harapan ko. Umatras lang siya kasi narinig niya ‘yung “sold out na” kaya naisip siguro niyang “ah, malungkot ‘to kaya mag-ho-hoard ‘to ng chocolate mamaya”.

I didn’t. But I wanted to.

Ayie and I met up that day, and she ended up wanting to go to so when they announced a day 2, ay sus! Ayie was online early in the morning and snagged our tickets for the July 29th, one day ahead, day 2 show!

So, this tita will get to see her boys who had been her source of comfort for nineteen years for the first time.

I’m so happeh!

•••

On the day of the concert, Ivy and I woke up late because we both slept at about 4 AM. We booked a Grab to Gateway, had coffee at Krispy Kreme, and dinner at Taco Bell while waiting for Rozz and Ayie. (I’m currently obsessed with tacos but that’s another blog post.)

It was raining so I was pleasantly surprised na mabilis ang mga biyahe naming lahat, although Ivy and I left the house at 5 PM for the 8 PM show. Everybody was at Taco Bell at 7:30, and we were at the Araneta Center at 8 PM on the dot.

I was really giddy, and nervous, and seriously, the tacos in my stomach wanted to come back out because of my excitement. Buti na lang at di sila nag-Hello, My Love bago ang show.

The concert started late but as soon as the lights were off, I was screaming! Nineteen years of my life flashed before my eyes, memories when I was listening to Westlife, talking about Westlife, writing fanfics about Westlife, specifically, Mark, my labs, collecting travel books about Ireland, trying to learn Gaelic (I really did. I have an Irish Gaelic-English dictionary), and generally just being happy because that was what Westlife meant to me, happy.

Then they were there on stage. Nicky. Kian. Mark. Shane.

And we were on our feet and I was singing ang screaming and crying and laughing and jumping ang laughing and crying again and dying because of their Irish accents and being resurrected because of their voices and singing and crying again.

Every song was familiar, something I sang in my head and in my heart hundreds of times in the last nineteen years. And I was with people I adore who were so obviously happy to be there, too. I rarely take videos during concerts so I took about four short ones during this one, and on all of them you can hear me and Ivy singing at the top of our lungs, not caring how we sound.

It still feels like a dream a week later.

In bullets…

• It felt like a huge karaoke party to me where everyone was happy.

• Mark’s voice, OMFG, Mark’s voice! I fell in love with him because of his voice (and his eyes in the Flying Without Wings MV), but holy sheet, hearing it live! Markus Michael Patrick Verdon Feehily’s voice!

• That Queen medley was amazing! I realized that I will cry at We are the Champions no matter who sings it.

• You Raise Me Up made me cry.

• I was waiting for Flying Without Wings because THAT is MY Westlife song. Yeah, it made me cry.

At the end of the concert, I just had to give Rozz, Ivy and Ayie a huge group hug, I was so emotional.

The boys said that they’re releasing a new album and that who knows, they might go on another tour next year. HELL, YES, I’d be there again! Hopefully mas maaga na ako magising for the ticket-selling (or hello, Ayie? Lam you!), hopefully with better, closer seats, and hopefully with the same people.

Thank you, Rozz, Ivy and Ayie! Until the next concert!

Thank you, Westlife, for an amazing, nostalgic, special night and for being a huge, positive part of my life. Grá go deo.

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Of Cats and Dogs

I got up at a little before 9 AM earlier and went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. I still had my eyes closed as I waited for my water to heat in the microwave when I suddenly heard a commotion outside. May nag-aaway! Nagising ang katawang-lupa ko kasi narinig ko ‘yung galit na sigaw ni Otap.

Now, in our house, we couldn’t care less if we hear neighbors shouting outside, but when we hear an angry cat cry, you bet we’d drop anything and everything to check which cat it is and what happened. So I hurried to the door, pulled it open, and saw… a concert?

We have our cat enclosure for Ikho and Cash just outside the front door. They stay there because they used to be indoor cats at my sister’s old place and they can’t be let out without supervision because they’d most likely end up being hit by tricycles if they go beyond the gate. We let them out as much as possible but we don’t let them out without being watched so that’s where they stay. Anyway, when I took a peek outside, our three strays were sitting on top of that enclosure, looking down at the side where I can’t see. All five cats were howling and growling and seemed pretty agitated. So I opened the door to go out and I finally saw why.

May stranger pala! May di ko kilalang barako cat na nanliligaw kay Cash!

When he saw me, he ran… straight into our dog… who is only a bit bigger than the cat.

Cat is almost as big as Munch.

I was actually more afraid for Munchie so I shooed the strange cat away who ran again… straight into Otap. In fairness to my big baby, he stood his ground. I guess the other cat was just too distracted by, I dunno, hormones? To fight Otap so he didn’t really attack. They just growled at each other on top of the washing machine, and the strange cat just jumped up to the roof of the garage when Otap took a swipe at him.

I’m just relieved that it was just that. I don’t know that cat. He’s not one of the cats that roam our street. Kanya-kanya kasi silang teritoryo rito. There’s a different male cat near the end of the street. About three houses down until our house is Otap’s territory, and there’s a different male cat who “owns” the territory further down the street. Our neighbors have adopted them too but I think Otap is the only stray here that’s actually neutered. Ikho is too but since he only stays in the enclosure (he’d go out to get hugs, then flop down at your feet because he’s too lazy and well, overweight, to go far), he doesn’t count. Ngayon ko lang nakita ‘tong barakong ‘to, and visions of fleas, parasites and, rabies came to mind.

Anyway, he’s gone now but I know why he was out there. We have two girl cats. And Cash is in heat, the poor baby. We haven’t had the chance to get her spayed yet, and aside from the fact that we can’t really afford more cats so we don’t want her to get pregnant, two of our boys are neutered and Tommy, the baby who, technically, can already mate, is more interested in food, so there’s no relief for her in that aspect unless, I don’t know, set up a cat Tinder or something. But really, getting her spayed is the next priority because that’s the responsible thing to do.

I gave them their second breakfast already and treats because I know it’d been a stressful morning. And because Otap and Munchie had been heroes, they get extra Whiskas and Pedigree pouches for lunch. And because he’s the bunso, Tommmy gets to stay with me until my allergic rhenitis kicks in.

It’s quiet now, and I can get back to my (already cold) coffee. But at least all my outside chores are done, and I’m getting kitty, tuna-scented kisses and everyone deserves tuna-scented kisses in the morning.

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Something Fishy

All my life, we’ve never not had pets. When I was born, we lived in a duplex with my grandparents, my uncle’s family and another uncle who loved animals so even back then, we had at least three dogs. We rarely had less than two dogs. Even now we have two (and five cats), At most we had thirteen dogs at the same time. We’ve had rabbits, love birds, salamanders, crayfish, chickens, mice, fishes, so yeah, I’ve always loved animals. But the very first pet I’ve actually ever had were fishes. I loved fishes. I still do. But the last time I’ve ever taken care of fishes was in high school when my HS best friend gave me a fishbowl with five small fishes for my birthday. I named them after the Backstreet Boys because we were both huge BSB fans back in the day.

The last few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with getting back into fish keeping. Back when I was a kid, I had no idea how to take care of fishes. I thought it only took feeding them and water changes and cleaning the fishbowl. We didn’t have Google back then or YouTube with tons of fish keeping videos to tell me what to do and what not to do so I always end up killing my fishes after a while. I didn’t know about ammonia, nitrates and nitrite levels back then, but I do now. I really did my research because I want to take care of fishes again.

So here is my fish keeping list.

1. I want to start small-ish. Maybe not a fish bowl but something small like a 5 gallon tank. I think they sell fish tank kits at the pet stotes and it comes with a tank and the filter… I think. I have to look into it. I want to go to Cartimar to look at fish tanks but I have no idea how to transport it home if I do get one. Makakatipid nga ako sa aquarium, gagastusin ko rin naman sa Grab na I’m sure mas mahal pa 😑 So I’ll look somewhere else first. Pero gusto ko pa rin talaga mag Cartimar so hello, Glanice! Samahan mo ako.

2. I want a planted tank BUT I may need more fish keeping experience to achieve that. I already also like taking care of plants but I’d really rather focus on one thing at a time. I *could* get a separate tank to “practice” taking care of aquatic plants and keep a fish in a different tank with fake plants first. That way if I start killing the plants, it won’t affect the fish. And when I’m finally confident enough about my aquatic plant-keeping skills, then I can introduce another fish into that tank 🤔 I know we have an old aquarium here somewhere. Baka puwedeng magamit na taniman. I’ve researched aquatic plants so I’d write about that some other time because it’s also really interesting.

3. I want a betta fish. I used to think that betta fishes, or the fighting fishes, were for advanced fish keepers because they look so… complicated. They’re so pretty, with their veil-like tails and different colors, ‘tapos malaman-laman ko lang na sila pala ‘yung isa sa mga best fishes for someone just starting out in fish keeping. Also, a betta fish is the ideal fish for a small tank. I read somewhere that you can keep them in at least 2.5 to 3 gallon tank, eh di ba 5 gallons ‘yung gusto ko? I also saw videos that these fishes were kept in freaking wine bottles! Okay lang kayo? Animal abusers! 😠 Pero ‘yun nga, they’re the best fishes to keep in smaller tanks daw. And they’re so pretty! I want any one of these: a black-and-SHINee (aqua)-colored one, a black-and-Super Junior (blue)-colored one, a purple one or a champagne gold one. I already have names! I know I can find them because these fishes do come in these colors. I really don’t mind the tail type but the rose-tailed and the veil-tailed ones are really pretty. I still need to do more research on the types though because I still can’t distinguish one from the other automatically.

Photo Credit: @bettafanclub, IG

Ay, meron palang black and white na parang panda! I like that too. But since I’m only going to get one tank, it means I can only get one betta fish. Hindi raw kasi advisable na dalawa sa isang fish tank because, well, they fight. Kaya nga fighting fish eh. Unless gawin kong ring ng MMA ‘yung decor n’ung fish tank…

4. Decorations! Ay na-excite? 😂 I found fish tank decorations in Shopee in the shape of the Krusty Krab, Spongebob’s pineapple house and Squidward’s house! Gusto ko na bilhin kahit wala pa akong fish tank! Natuwa lang ako 😅

I’m also going to need fake plants, ideally not plastic, and substrate, probably sand or pebbles.

Then, after getting all of those, I also need to cycle my tank for as long as it takes for the filter to effectively and quickly convert ammonia into… nitrates? Or is it nitrites? I have to get back to you on that because all I know is that they’re all bad for my future fish. So I have to buy my fish tank at least a month before I actually buy my fish. And I also need to get water conditioner, fish food (to help with the cycling because I don’t want to do an in-fish cycle) and an aquarium test kit.

Looking at the list nakikita ko nang mahal siya 😂 ‘Yung aquarium test kit pa lang, nasa P1,600+ na sa Shopee eh 💸

Gawin ko na lang kaya ‘yung pinag-usapan namin ni Lea sa IG? Maglagay na lang ako ng Scotchbrite sa isang baldeng tubig para instant Spongebob in a fish tank na? 😂

I really wish I can do this soon pero gusto ko talaga. One of my future heroes will give me this fish tank, promise.

🐟🐠🐡

Oh, in addition, if I get a bigger tank, I also like panda corydoras! They’re small, black and white fishes that look like pandas 🐼 but they need to be in groups of at least three (six is the ideal if I only want a small group), and that big a group needs at least a 10-gallon tank. So ‘yun. I’ll start with a betta fish first then I’ll go from there if I can 😊

🙏

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