A Boy, A Scar and an Epic Fantasy

I also fell in love with the Harry Potter series during its infancy. My mom bought the two installations of the book during her London trip with her boss, but I did not pay it no mind. I was a college student interested in Mills & Boon, what was my mom thinking buying this children’s books for us? When I exhausted all the Penny Jordan and Carol Mortimer romances, I finally gave Harry Potter my full attention – almost a year after my mom bought it. And I was hooked. I regretted not reading it sooner. Even while re-reading it now, I am still drawn inside a magical world that no other book can do for me. Sadly, since I’ve read the series nearly a hundred times, watching it on screen is like watching a severely truncated movie. I have never watched a single Harry Potter movie from start to finish. And when the casts inevitability became adults, the last movie became painful because Harry was still a young adult in my head.

I have to admit that JK’s success should be an inspiration for us new writers as we have a high probability of getting rejected, not only by editors and publishers, but also by our target audience. What’s hard is convincing ourselves that self-doubt means poor work and productivity as we are already anticipating world-shattering rejection. So what if we got rejected? So what if we the world did not receive our beloved masterpiece with the same love and affection that we gave to our books? Shouldn’t we all be concerned of (heaven forbid) spending our twilight years regretting for the thousandth time that we did not write our book? Sure we may not be as successful as JK Rowling is, her stars are only hers and hers alone. But our stars already said that we should be writers, and that should give us all the push that we need to pick up a pen and paper (as with my case), or let our fingers dance over the keyboard and see our book through from start to finish.

Catching Fireflies

I would be remiss in talking about children’s book authors without mentioning J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. The first Harry Potter book was published when I was barely 30 years old. Still, I was drawn to the description and scooped it up without hesitation. This was long before the hype would begin – the midnight sales with thousands of people dressed as wizards, the movies, the awards. I didn’t know yet that it would be a series of books and that I would pre-order them months in advance and anxiously track the package as it made its way to my doorstep on release day. I didn’t yet know that I would read the first book and fall in love with the idea of writing all over again. I didn’t know that it would rekindle a dream.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone depending on which side…

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NaNoWriMo and Novel Writing Tips from the Pros

NaNoWriMo is here again, and you can see a lot of writers gearing up to write their drafts of 50,000+ words to beat the November 30 deadline. I would like to be able to proudly say that I am going to be one of them, but I am not. I am not that confident enough, and I know that I still have a lot to learn. Not to mention I do not have the right resources. We only have one PC in the house, and it’s currently being used as a tool for therapy by someone who is suffering from depression. However, that does not stop me from enjoying some writing tips designed for people to survive NaNoWriMo because these tips can actually be really helpful for someone like me who is writing a book for the first time.

I have been stuck in a pool of green light, seeing so many successful authors with so many followers in their blogs and great feedback on their books. They are doing what I love, and they have made a name for themselves by going after what they want to do. I’m still in the newbie stage, and most of the blogs I follow have already reached their master stage. As a result, I have avoided looking into these blogs, not realizing that these blog authors would want to extend a helping hand to those who would like to get started on writing. For letting my envy and jealousy get the better of me, I missed several posts that would have made me start my book painlessly and effortlessly. If I had been less inclined to listen to my green monster, I would have made some crucial changes in my book that would have lessened the need for editing later. The sad part is, since someone is using the PC, I am writing the book in the traditional way – through pen and paper. You guessed it, editing will be headache.

Getting Into It

So now, here I am, soaking up all the information that I could get for writing the book. I’ve already made a post on one aspect, which is the point of view, but that it something that should have come out later. I made it because it was at the top of my WordPress reader’s feed, and it got me into thinking that maybe there are many other tips that I could use for my book. True enough, there are several, and the one major thing that I’m kicking my self in the butt over is Kristen’s blog on how to write a novel for NaNo that will have less revisions and high probability of finishing and publishing. In context to her NaNo tips is Bob Mayer’s post about adding conflict to your story that centers character agenda.

What I Missed

Kristen talked about three key elements that a novel should have. They are:

  • The Protagonist – which is the main character of your story
  • Active Goal – something that makes the character tick, so to speak
  • The Antagonist – someone who will do everything in their power to make it hard for your protagonist to achieve her goal

All these three could be surmised in a synopsis of your book, something I totally skipped doing since I am itching to write. I neglected doing a synopsis because I was thinking, hell I already have a story in my head, what do I need a synopsis for. Now I know. Your synopsis will help you focus on these three key elements. As long as you have your synopsis, staying in track will be easy.
NaNoWriMo Survival Kit by Bob Mayer

Bob’s outstanding blog fully explained exactly what these three key elements should have, which are glued together through the introduction of a conflict. It’s easy for someone to create a book all Disneyfied and free of any problems. It’s a natural tendency for people to wish and live in a world that is without any problems and conflict. However, what makes a great movie and book interesting and exciting is the presence of a thing that can both destroy the lives as well as solidify the connection between a book’s characters. What we new writers need to figure out is how to introduce the conflict smoothly with a natural transition so that the story will stick to the synopsis and not sound so convoluted and confusing.

So far I have a solid protagonist, but my conflict is not exactly set so that in itself should warn me that my book is going to be slow and long-winded. Another nail in the coffin for me is the absence of the antagonist. If you do not have an antagonist, then how will you have a solid conflict? I already have formulated three antagonists in my head, but that’s the problem. They are just formulas in my head. They are not concrete, they are not well-thought off, and I have absolutely no idea how to push them into my story now that I am in my 7th chapter.

Can I do it without revisions? Like just insert them and then revise the beginning chapters again, making sure that I put a sticky note on the page where I want to put in my antagonist? So here’s the conflict for me, the writer. If I revise now, that would mean starting all over again, and probably dishing out other parts in the book that are (in my opinion so far) making my book come together. However, I have a feeling that the conflict is already there, but I just need to make it concrete and solid.

Getting My Point of Veiw

One of the things that will make a book stick to your mind and suck you in a story is how effectively a writer creates a P.O.V. or Point of View, something that can be difficult for me to employ since I started writing as a blogger who primarily gives information to my readers, mostly in an almost technical way. I can write something and address you directly, making sure that you know that I am talking to you, and wish to engage you in a conversation about what I just wrote.

Writing a book, however, is not the same thing for me. Instead of engaging you to participate in a thought or idea, I see a book as something that makes readers see what it’s like to live through another person – something that can be accomplished with a greatly executed P.O.V. I thought I got the general P.O.V. idea, but Kristen’s blog opened my eyes on several points that I didn’t think of.

First-Person Point of View

This is where the “I” becomes a good thing. 1st-person P.O.V. makes the novel more personal, more intimate. You have A front seat on what the main character is thinking about and , if done right, it can get you hooked in as if you’re the main character. It puts the spotlight solely on one person, diminishing other distractions from other casts in the book.

That being said, the fixation can be either very intense or very boring for some readers.

Third-Person Point of View

Two or more people get stage time in the book. The shifting from one perspective to another creates a complexity that adds depth to the story. The characters come alive because a writer can give you an inside look of every emotion and sensation of each character as they interact with one another.

Of course, the shifting can be very confusing, and the multiple perceptions can also be too overpowering.

Omniscient Point of View

This time, there is an “invisible narrator” in the story, someone who is telling you what a character should have felt, or must have felt on a given scene in the book. If you have a complex scene that is far too hard to express because of multiple occurrences, then this will be good.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of the first-person perspective. As Kristen points out, the many “I’s” can be too distracting. Since I am normally used to addressing my readers, it would be hard for me not to make the character feel like a modern-day Narcissus. Aside from that, I have an innate curiosity on what other people think about a current situation, which makes the third-person perspective appealing to me. What I need to figure out is how I will make this P.O.V. work easily so that my book will not turn out like a memoir of a schizophrenic. Omniscient does not appeal to me very much either, because having a character whose reactions and emotions told by a narrator is a tough act to follow through for an inexperienced writer like me. There is a huge risk of my book coming out like a thesis instead of a romance erotica. Imagine having to read through an genre like that with characters having no senses whatsoever. I shudder just thinking about it.

Now, aside from my grammar, I have to keep in mind that I stick to P.O.V. fundamentals… I hope I won’t get overwhelmed with too much information.

 

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Geiko Caveman. Geiko Caveman.

Monday, we talked about the Three Acts of a Writer’s Journey. The first hint we might be tipping into The Apprentice Phase is we hear the word P.O.V. and panic. What is THAT? Prisoners of Vietnam? Pets of Vegans? Pals of Viagra?

We ALL know writing a novel is FAR from easy. We just make it look that way 😉 .

Today, I’m putting on my editor’s hat. Many of you decided to become writers because you love to write. Duh. I’ll even bet most of you, back when you were in school, also made very good grades in English. Thus, you might assume that you naturally know how to write a novel that is fit for successful publication.

Maybe you do. But, if you are anything like me when I started out? You might not know as much as you think you do.

Why?

Our high…

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My First Doily

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I am currently on the road to recovery from my Menniere’s attack, so no writing for me, or anything that will give me stress. To keep myself occupied, I created this doily thru Crochet Geek’s tutorial. It’s the first doily that I’ve made since 1993,  and I am still on  the lookout for that gorgeous yet so elusive pattern.

I hope this will inspire you to take up, or renew your love affair with crocheting.

See you around.

My Singing Daughter

Okay, let’s take a break for a while. I am so upset because a blog that I spent two days composing using my tablet got trashed because I foolishly updated wirelessly after major adjustments on my pc. I have several posts drafted already, but I would like to get over this intense disappointment. I never did like it when everything I spent hours on went bust.

The kid singing is my daughter. We were on a trip for my husband’s birthday and she cannot swim yet because her bathing suit and sun block were with her cousin who hasn’t arrived yet. So, to take out the angst and whatnot, we let her sing her heart out.

Sorry for the jittery video. I was foolishly beating along with the song so that she can sing on time.

Filipinos can relate to this song, but for those who do not understand tagalog, it’s a song about a man who’s devastated when he found out that his girl left him for another man. He can’t eat, he can’t sleep, and he wishes that the next time he falls inlove, it will not be to someone who has the same heart of stone (pusong bato) as his ex.

Get A Hobby… Now!

Freelancing can be a challenging and exhausting profession, demanding more than just your time and skills in varying degrees of intensity and difficulty. Regardless, the rush that you will get from pushing yourself to the limit for a special or favorite client is as great (or almost as great) as a sugar high. And just like sugar high, a pet project leaves you drained and exhausted once it’s over. Thst is, if you were able to get the project done before burnout takes the wind out of your sail.

Burnout happens when:

You take in too much projects
When you take your projects too seriously
You don’t give yourself time to breathe in between projects
You have a project that is robotically repetitive
You do not allow yourself to take on variety in projects

There are so many ways for you to avoid and/or cure burnout, but nothing does it better than a hobby. Yes, a hobby. For me, it gives me a chance to reset my brain whenever I hit a snag in my projects. As I am writing this, I am already indulging on one hobby – which is writing.

But this is not my only hobby. I have so many hobbies, but there will always be one who will be on top, and that is gardening for me.

Gardening

It is a great hobby because there is an almost Zen-like experience whenever you go down on the dirt to till the soil with fertilizer and plant seeds. Depending on what kind of garden you have, your garden will give you fragrance, beauty, color, and even food on your table. The physical labor helps your brain relax, reboot, and refresh itself, and you can almost feel it breathing while you’re doing your gardening.

Band Looming

I can still remember the time I bought my daughter her very own Rainbow Loom. She got so excited, she made bracelets right away. It may have started in the US for a couple of years already, but looming started to launch here in the Philippines and I got the bug like crazy. You will be using rubber bands and use a loom to create bracelets, headbands, bags, and even clothing (if you’re brave enough). Rainbow Loom has a long detachable loom, a monster tail, and a new finger loom (coming out September).

Musical Instruments

Piano, guitar, violin, flute, drums, take your pick. There are so many scientific studies regarding the effects of playing your own musical instrument ranging from relaxation to improving your concentration, critical thinking, and creativity. It also requires total dedication, so you must think of it only as a hobby, and not a training for the biggest philharmonic concert. I tried the violin once, but failed miserably because I was so much into my dream of playing with an orchestra. I did it like I was off to a battlefield instead of something that should help me relax.

Cooking

Now, nothing is as delicious as preparing a meal that you have been craving for what seemed like ages, or cooking up a simple dish that your friends and family would enjoy. I forget almost everything when I am cooking, especially during prep work because my knife is ridiculously sharp (total concentration unless I plan to miss a finger or two). Every sizzle, every bubble, and every steam that comes out of the pot helps me relax in many ways. Start by trying out a simple recipe until you get the hang of your favorite chef’s techniques. Who knows, it might become a passion that can spruce up your blog or freelancing career. Or maybe even launch you into Masterchef!

Get Out Of That Chair

And start on that hobby. The world will not end if you take some time off from work. And besides, if your client values you, he or she will support your need for an occasional break every now and then when things get edgy. As with other responsibilities, your hobbies must be done in balance with your working hours so that you will be able to get the best of both worlds.

The Sad Truth

Hi, and thanks again for coming back.

For two days now I have been tending to my garden and updating my gardening blog’s content. I got spurred on because my mom gave me jalapeño and habanero seeds, and my husband loves chili. Yes, we do not have those seeds here in the Philippines, so I went totally ballistic. So, during the course of my blogging about jalapeños, I have discovered a sad truth. There are more people interested in cooking rather than gardening, and they prefer to engage in replying to blogs and sharing social media content on that niche as opposed to gardening.

That made me wish – for a short time – that I have a cooking blog instead of a gardening blog. However, I am just going stick to my garden because this average home cook is not Masterchef material.

So, why am I bothered by this?

For one thing, I would like to connect with people who share the same interests as I do. I would like to educate as well learn from my audience about the challenges of growing your own garden. As a freelance writer, gardening is one of my niche, and if I can entice readers to engage in a healthy discussion outside of a forum, then that would be a great accomplishment that I can proudly add to my resume. I had experienced teaching in the past, and I have learned that different students have different perspectives on how to solve an issue. And your readers can give you that same experience once you get them to come out of their shells.

That being said, I did not have enough material to use for my blog. Most of my audience come from overseas for purposes of affiliatons and marketing – opportunities that are close to nil here in my country. Not so much people talk about their gardening techniques on how to take care of crops while coping with four amazing seasons – something that I wish to know more about because my experience is limited to dry and wet climates only.

Sure there are sites that will expertly tell you how to take care of crops, and I am glad that they take the time to do so. But what I am after as a blogger is the experience of average gardeners like me. How do they take care of their plants? What problems do they face and at what stage do they notice them? And are their problems common or just isolated incidents? So they recover from the experience, or do they quit? Those are just a few of what I wish to know, and things will definitely snowball from there.

So, if there are average gardeners out there with a blog, give me a holler and let’s exchange some ideas on how to grow food right at our backyard, balcony, lawn, or veranda, or whatever.

Yes, I am that desperate for gardening blog buddies!

Until then, and cheers to you, my future garden blog buddy.

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