Back on BetaBooks

Hi guys! I have uploaded the newest version of my novel on BetaBooks here. The previous one is disabled (not deleted, so I can go back and reread readers’ comments), so if you’ve signed up to read the old one and can no longer access the link, this is the new one.

I know that I have been negligent in giving updates, but part of that is because I’ve been focusing on working on the product, and I’m unsure what would be of interest for me to share. Not to mention, I have been incredibly distracted lately by… of all things, Idol Philippines, hahaha! Oh man, what a poor excuse.

To get me back on track, I have picked up several books that will hopefully allow me to focus on building a brand surrounding my novel, and to a certain extent, my author persona. I think the main reason I can never get traction in making official artwork and setting up that website I’ve been planning for many months, is because I don’t really know how to present this product yet. I don’t know how to design my site, or what feel the artwork should give that will be consistent from piece to piece.

For a long time, I’ve been intimidated by the marketing and branding field, feeling like I know too little for a bit of reading to help me get better. Now I feel bad that I didn’t pick up this book sooner. How to Style your Brand lays down the basics of branding in such a straightforward way that is incredibly helpful for newbies like me. Certain sections are formatted like worksheets, designed to really get you into the right mindset. Working my way through this book, I already feel incredibly inspired.

Another thing I’m struggling with is just writing posts on my blogs (which you can all probably tell, considering how infrequently I do it, heh). When I learned of this book, I bought it right away, because I really need help figuring out how to leverage my blogs into something that will be helpful for me as an author.

So hopefully these books will help, and during the next few weeks, I will really try my best to polish up my online presence.

Advertisements

Draft 5: Week 8 Update

Right, I know that I haven’t actually made an update in weeks, but this one is pretty important. Because *drumroll*

I AM FINISHED!!

Ahh, I feel relieved! I mean, I know there’s more work to do. I literally just finished typing the ending a few minutes ago, and I still have to go over the entire draft to polish it up a little. I was supposed to trim it down from draft 4, but I somehow ended up with 4K more words, haha!

I am really surprised that I was able to finish this draft in 8 weeks, considering the past couple of months have been quite difficult for me. I was stressed about a lot of things happening in real life, and I got distracted by so many other things too (*ahem* books *ahem* Philippine Idol).

Draft 5 is important too because this is the draft that I’m planning to send out to editors. I’ll also replace the version on my BetaBooks account to this draft instead, so anyone who wants to read the novel can get what I hope is an improved experience, hehe.

I will make a new post soon to say what my next steps and plans are. I only have a vague idea at this point, so it’s probably a good idea for me to figure that out first.

Draft 5: Week 2 Update

I really wish I had something quite significant to put on this update, but believe it or not, I managed to finish reading 2 whole books this week, which didn’t leave much for writing.

What happened? I don’t even know. It’s just one of those rare occasions where I happened to pick up books that I just couldn’t put down, and well… there went my time. Yikes.

Writing Update

Well, this *is* a post about my 5th draft, so I’ll start off with that. I am now on Chapter 7, which is about 1/4 way through my book. I’m glad to say that about 75% of the previous draft has remained intact so far, apart from a few grammar and stylistic changes. I’m trying to prune down words as well, so I’m shaving those off whenever I get the opportunity. The other 25% is rewriting. Overall, not bad. I wish I were faster though, and I think if I hadn’t been so distracted with reading, I would be further along.

What was I reading?

I finished Swift and The Weight of Our Sky this week. Both were page-turners, and I highly recommend. I’m still making my way through Red Seas under Red Skies. I remember going into Lies of Locke Lamora two years ago and being somewhat impatient with it (though I enjoyed it a lot), and I’m just reading RSURS with the mindset that these books are meant to be savoured and not rushed.

Draft 5: Week 1 Update

This week, I began Draft 5 of my story.

I spent the last week of April and first week of May poring over the feedback I received from the beta readers who were able to make it through the entirety of the previous draft. Then I brushed up a few things, wrote a tighter outline for the character arcs, figured out a few plot holes, and then I decided I might as well take the dive and start the next draft.

There’s always a moment’s hesitance whenever I start a new draft. I always feel like I could plan just a little better, I could answer a few more questions, or maybe wait for my writing “flow” to come. But I understand that’s just a little bit of anxiety caused by a blank page. After you’ve been writing 100K words, it’s hard to go back to the beginning. And I’m also the type of writer who finds momentum in the previous sections of my story. That’s why the beginning is so important to me, because the tone I set there, the voice I begin with, will permeate the rest of the novel.

So I really took my time this week to begin with a good note.

Read More »

Writing Update

I was going through my blog and I realized I never gave a dedicated update about my novel. In the general update I posted a while back, I passingly mentioned that I finished my novel in February and it was now up on BetaBooks.

Ah, yeah, it’s up on BetaBooks, guys! Complete with a better summary and all. You can follow that link and sign up to read it. Mind you, this is a beta, and I’m just looking for feedback for my next draft. This is by no means anywhere near finished.

In hindsight, I feel like I did myself a disservice there. It’s an accomplishment to have finished a story, considering that it took me 3 years to write a draft that I felt comfortable sharing. Then I just bury the news in a post that was about four other things. I mean, to be fair, I did post a lot about it on Tumblr, where I am more active and have more followers. I think there was just a point after finishing the novel where I just didn’t want to write any more, including things like self-congratulatory blog posts, haha. I was so tired. Also, I guess for me and more introverted writers, trying to hype up your book to get readers interested in it doesn’t come so naturally, and hence, requires a lot of energy that I just didn’t have at that time.

Read More »

General Update

Hey guys! It’s been a little more than a month since my last post. Sorry about that, but lately, I’ve been trying to re-examine this blog’s purpose. I’m a little less into writing book reviews, and since posting my latest draft up on BetaBooks I don’t really have anything to say about writing. I mostly post my artwork on Tumblr or DeviantArt, and I suppose I can post them here as well, but I don’t know if WordPress is really the best medium for art. I know it supports “portfolio” style posts, but I don’t know if it’s going to help me much.

Reading

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, February was a great month for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I finished 5 books!!

I finished the entire Percy Jackson series (read the first one some years back). I also read the newest from one of my favourite authors of all time, Frances Hardinge. I tend to write short snippets of my thoughts on Goodreads now, because I can control the privacy settings there. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be open and honest about my opinions, but like I said in my previous post, I’m trying to tone things down a bit. Trying to write my own story has given me a bit of perspective on the difficult, tooth-pulling process, and I don’t think I can write book reviews with as much hyperbolic expression as I used to do.

And I mean, like, you guys already know what I tend to rant about most anyway. Love triangles. And I’ve gotten better over the years in avoiding that, so there’s really not much passionate teeth-grinding to do. (Teeth-grinding that happened while I read the last 2 books of Percy Jackson, but like I said, I promise to tone things down, so let’s not get into it…) I also have less time for books I don’t like or get into, so I just move on to something I like.

Writing

I am currently on hiatus. I have posted the entire draft of my story on BetaBooks. A few people have signed up and are reading it. Once I get some more feedback on the entire story as a whole, I will rewrite again, and then hopefully will be able to send to a professional editor.

My goal is to get this released in some way, shape or form by the fall of this year. I think I’m in a good place to say that’s a reasonable goal. The only thing that’s holding me back is marketing. Like, it’s easy to post this on a personal website, or on Wattpad, but how I’m going to get people to read it, I don’t know yet.

Art

I breezed through Victoria Ying’s Visual Development course in Schoolism. I signed up as soon as the class was available. I never knew that the kind of artwork I really enjoy seeing on Tumblr and DA, and the kind I strive for in my usual posts, fall under the category of “visual development.” For some reason I always thought that term referred to something else. I’ll be doing a couple of the assignments from my favourite lectures. I wish I had time to just focus on art and really get better at it, but between work, real life, reading, and writing, my attention is quite split.

While I’m on writing hiatus though, I’m focusing on just churning out more artwork. I’m currently active in the Lockwood and Co. fandom, so expect some fanarts from there.

A hip hop AU hehe

Some of these are from a few months back.

I’m also trying to make more original artwork, because most of the art I had done for my story is now outdated, sadly. Also, I want to get a site up and running and I need some graphics for that.

I discovered a problem with my new laptop screen while working on these. It emits a blue hue that makes all my drawings look garrishly yellow/bright on other, normally tinted computers. I’ve tried a lot of things, but I think this is just a result of me getting a cheaper laptop with an otherwise top-notch CPU/GPU specs.

Anyway, this is getting quite long, but I’ll leave with some colour practice I was doing this weekend. Each one of these is a 10-min render of a landscape image from Google.

Up on BetaBooks!

Guys! Guess what? The first quarter of my story, the entire first act, is up on BetaBooks, and I’m now looking for readers to start beta-ing. Ah, I’m so nervous, but here goes.

What’s it about?

Sano dreams to explore the world and to be a hero, which is a little difficult considering nobody’s supposed to know he exists. When his mother leaves him for a few days, a careless display of magic catapults Sano out of his reclusion, and he finds himself pursued by the king’s warriors. Thrust into the world he knows next to nothing about, aided only by a superstitious girl who wants stronger magic, he must find a way to reunite with his mother.

But it’s a dangerous time to be a fugitive in the Kingdom of Dayung. Friction among the regions is getting palpable. A shameful, shadowy past is creeping back to haunt its people. The greedy, ruthless king is desperate to eliminate any threats to his power. And to top it all, a mysterious wind is plaguing the kingdom, turning all wrongdoers into wood.

As Sano navigates the world for the first time, he must make choices that challenge his dreams and force him to confront what it truly means to be a part of the world.

What’s it called?

I don’t know! T__T I’m hoping some of my beta readers will help me brainstorm a title.

But is there anything interesting in it?

Okay, themes that it explores:

  • family, friendship, community
  • languages
  • erasure of history
  • importance of stories

Um, what else? Oh, the protagonists fall under the red oni, blue oni trope, which personally, I quite like.

Oh! It has a magic system based on programming. (‘Cuz that’s the only magic I know, haha)

And the world is inspired by precolonial Philippines! I really hate to make it seem like I want cookie points for that, but on the other hand, if you’re interested in seeing a different culture in a fantasy setting, well, here’s a story for ya. Also, I spent a lot of time doing research so if you can provide guidance on that regard, I will honour you forever.

Are there things you should be wary of?

This story is meant to be MG-level. Violence is kept to a minimum; no gory details. No romance maybe if you squint.There’s polytheism and animism, so a warning if that’s not something you’re comfortable seeing.

Where can you see my novel?

Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll send you a link! You’ll have to sign up to BetaBooks, I believe, but it’s completely free if you’re just reading. I have a monthly subscription that allows me up to 20 beta readers. I’ve outlined some guidelines for the critique, and hopefully it’s self-explanatory.

PSF11 Launch, 07/18 Camp NaNoWriMo Overview and Other Updates

This post is a month overdue, but I was too busy crunching in my word counts for Camp NaNoWriMo to write this.

Without further ado, Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 11 is out now!

philippine-speculative-fiction-volume-11

It’s been a long time coming. This volume has been in the works for almost 2 years, and I am so, so honoured that the piece I submitted was accepted. My short story is called The Goddess of Debt and it’s about a young woman who is unexpectedly chosen to be a human sacrifice. Yikes, I know that sounds a little morbid, but the story isn’t really about the sacrifice, as it is about the Goddess who offers her a way out, and about whether she will take it or not.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the PSF series, it is an annual anthology that celebrates speculative fiction written by Filipinos about Filipinos for anyone at all who is interested in the genre. It’s one of the few avenues out there that brings Filipino stories out to the world. The good news for you is that all the stories in the anthologies are written in English. So please support it if you can! It would mean a lot to me, whose piece is the first original fiction I’ve written that has ever been published, and to the producers of the anthology who work tirelessly year after year to serve an underserved area of fiction.


And on to Camp NaNoWriMo…

For those of you who have followed my blog for at least a year now, you probably noticed that I try to participate in as many as NaNoWriMos as I can. It’s because it really motivates me to just write down my story. Another reason why I join is because I get an excuse to write about my writing! Writing is such a solitary process, but when you’re part of a program that you know hundreds of thousands of other people are also doing, it makes the experience a little more social.

This month, as I tried to churn out those 50K words while real life was trying its hardest to prevent me from doing so (I swear, it really seemed like it was), I’ve come to realize how much I appreciated the messages written by the camp counsellors. These are real writers who take the time out of their lives to give us newbies (or seasoned — depending on where you are in your career during NaNo) some tips and tricks, as well as kind words to keep us going. Sometimes, I would come home and feel like I don’t even want to open up my word document, or I’d start to lose heart in my story (again), but I would see one of these messages in my inbox, and I’d have the strength to just put down maybe a few hundred words.

So I would like to share with you some of the messages that really helped me this month.

From author Claire Kann:

One of the hardest parts of drafting is getting to The End! While drafting do you prefer to revise as you go, rereading and polishing your previous day’s work before moving on? Or do you prefer to write out of order as the scenes come to you and connect the dots later? Personally, I am a zero drafter. I word-vomit the entire story in chronological order, not stopping to fix anything. There are multiple ways to draft, and no one way is going to work for everyone. It’s important to find a method that works best for you.

And what do you know, I’m a “word-vomiter” too!

From author Kristin Chen:

Just as important as writing every day (or as close to it as you can manage) is reading every day. I read as much as I can, and broadly, too, not just research for my work-in-progress. In my experience, it’s often the books that resemble yours the least that end up unlocking something in your writing. And when this happens, it’s a wonderful reminder of how mysterious and magical this whole process is—and how lucky we are to be writers.

I don’t read every day, nor do I write every day when it’s not NaNoWriMo. (Can you imagine? I have a full-time programming job, and my hobbies include reading, writing and drawing. Practitioners of all 4 of these get told to do these things everyday! I’d be dead if I were to try that!) But I do appreciate Kristin Chen’s advice that we shouldn’t avoid reading when we’re writing, because it’s food for your creativity!

Here’s a bit from Gloria Chao:

Everyone’s process is different so listen to your gut: if you’re not feeling it today, it’s okay if you don’t hit your word count. Take a break, read, relax, and come back when you’re refreshed. You can make up for these days later when you’re more on a roll. And remember: it’s not about the number but the work you’ve put in, which sometimes can’t be easily quantified.

I always have an equivalent metric for the word count, like number of chapters or the part of the story that I should reach by a certain date. It helps me contextualize that this isn’t about the word count, but about helping you reach the milestones in your story.

And finally, from Jessica Strawser:

I once had the privilege of interviewing Patricia Cornwell—who was adamant that insecurity can be good for a writer. “I’ll be honest,” she said. “When somebody has written their first novel and they tell me how fantastic it is, I know it’s probably not very good. It’s usually the person who says, ‘I’m not sure what I think…’ and then you look at the thing and go, ‘Now that is really special.’ So it’s not bad to be a little insecure. It makes you work harder and pay attention.” When I’m pushing through a draft and that hopeless feeling creeps in, I remember this. Feeling uncertain could be a sign of real magic! You’ll never know if you don’t see it through.

You guys know me. Y’all have seen all my Writing Woes posts. I have major angst about my novel. Knowing that it’s okay to feel uncertain about your story makes me more hopeful that it’s probably not as bad as it might seem.


So where does this get me?

This camp helped me get to the midpoint of my 3rd draft. I really want to finished the 3rd draft before fall, so I will take a few days break, write the outline for the rest of the story, and use August to finish it off. I am hoping that after a little bit of tidying up and editing, I can start letting other people read my story to get some feedback.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on my online presence. I usually drop off the face of the earth when I’m doing NaNoWriMo, but I know I need to improve my reach if I want to get some feedback for my story. I’ll be reworking my website, probably spend a bit more time blogging, and of course, there’s always my Schoolism assignments to help me generate original artwork to post.

Here’s a question for you guys. What are you more interested in seeing? Do you want to see more posts about my story? About the writing process? What I’m reading? The research? How about posts that are more collaborative, you know, something that doesn’t scream ‘Me, Me, Me’ like all my posts do? Lol. Let me know, because I have a hard time gauging the interests of people. If it were left up to me, I’d just talk about my story. But I know that there are people who don’t like that, because the story should speak for itself, and once the story is out there, nothing the author says about it that isn’t written as canon ever really matters.

So, yup, let me know!

Blanking Out on Titles

sanino_comp

Hey guys! I know I haven’t updated very often lately, but it doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking off! On the contrary, I’ve signed up for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo next month, and during the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing extensively for it.

First of all, do you guys like the new artwork? =P As I mentioned in my last blog post, I decided not to do my Schoolism assignments one by one, but rather, take note of each lesson and apply it to whatever I’m working on. I haven’t drawn Anina and Sano in so long, and I was in need of some new official art. I really tried to apply the things I learned about pictorial composition here. (On that note, does anyone know how to properly assign resolution to web images? I heard 1200px is the best, but my images still turn out oddly low-res.)

Anyway, I’ve spent the last few weeks restructuring my story. When I finished draft 2, I was convinced that it needed further leaning down and I was prepared to take it apart and put it back together in an entirely new way. As things turned out, the outline I have now is actually not that far from the previous version, which is great because it means I get to use some of the material from draft 2. Even though I tried to approach the story in an entirely different way, I still ended up coming with the same general flow — I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing though. It could mean that I’ve already nailed down the things that make the most sense for my characters, or it could mean I’ve gotten stuck into a single frame of mind. =/

One big change though is the names. I was never truly satisfied with the names of the places I’ve been using, so before I begin this new draft, I chose better-fitting names. One downside (or possibly upside) to this is that while I was browsing my Tagalog-English dictionary, I discovered that the word “aplaya” was actually derived from Spanish. I had intended to name the setting of the story “Alaya” from “aplaya,” fashioning it after the pattern of naming Filipino provinces after places near water. “Aplaya,” or the Spanish original, “playa” means beach. See, this is what I get for using Google Translate! Good thing I bought the dictionary. Needless to say, as this story is inspired by precolonial Tagalog culture, I can no longer use “Alaya.”

And because I’ve been using “Tales of Alaya” as the title for my work, I can no longer use that title either. I’m wary now of including names in my title just in case I make another goof-up, and end up changing names later. So now, I’m in desperate need for a title. Any suggestions? If you’re a writer, how do you usually come up with names for your works?