The Japanese TV Drama, “The Many Faces of Ito” has it all and then some.
I binge-watched it when it debuted on Netflix and may mostly re-watch it. Why?
Unrequited love. Misunderstandings. Best Friends Forever Betrayal.
Oh. My. Goodies!
The series is mostly about Rio Yazaki, a jaded rom-com screenwriter who is struggling to make a comeback anda pretentious, self-centered, and obnoxious student who upstages her. Whoever could he be?
Fortunately, Rio isn’t necessarily an innocent by-stander or angel. That would be boring. And Japanese TV Dramas are rarely boring. Rio digs into the lives of four “love-sick” women, pretending to help them, but she’s really “mining” for the golden bits to aid her in writing.
I clearly loved watching this movie. If you’re a writer, a reader, a lover, a fighter, a naughty and challenging student, or even a mix of some, or all of the above, you might enjoy watching this series.
First, thank you for visiting! 🙂 It’s good to be back! Lately, I’ve been spending more time with my family, settling myself in a new-ish job, polishing a YA novel I’ve been working on for months (getting ready for #PitchWars), and writing the first draft of an adult fantasy with an erotic slant! Uh oh!
Yes, I still teach, but due to moving to a new school and teaching a new grade, I feel like a first-year teacher! Hee hee hee. Juggling! That’s what it’s kind of like, except I’m tossing around a flamethrower, a chainsaw, while trying to herd mosquitoes — with my toes! 😀
As most of you know, I’m a full-time school teacher, (part-time tutor — yes, I have more than one job to pay those bills– eeeeek!) and the proud dragon mommy of three sons. It’s no wonder that writing time often slips through my fists like water. If only juggling these tasks could be THIS easy:
Oh what FUN, FUN, FUN::grits teeth and bares a smile::
Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who understands what could befall the universe if I don’t write.
It’s absolutely necessary that I passionately pursue my writing goals!
Let’s order some wine, (red for me, please) get comfortable, and delve into some more . . .
So, in 2017 I had promised myself that 2018 would be better. And in several ways it has been. I’m grateful for my health and the accomplishments I’ve pursued and scored during this soon-to-be-over year. Regarding writing, I’ve noticed that some of my short stories are actually larvae-stage novellas! Luckily, there’s a growing market for novellas! And I have three in the cue that I need to share with Wordsmiths (my writing pals) to prepare these works for submissions!
I submitted a handful of short stories and poems to twenty different markets, grants, and/or contests for writers and sold . . . two stories.
Uh huh. You heard that right: just two stories.
I had initially sent Souls Within, a short story to a literary magazine and it had been rejected. So, I waited a couple months before trying another venue. It was for a writing contest. So, I decided to revise and edit the piece — molding it into a story-in-verse. Lo and behold — it was accepted and published in a lovingly made book of essays and poems edited by the fabulous Dr. Sarah L. Webb. Please do check it out!
The second story I sold is called Hide Your Love Away and you can read or listen to it here! Oh yes! Tonia Thompson is absolutely amazing at channeling different voices and accents! Her Nightlight Podcast is new, exciting, and creepy! Horror Fans rejoice, then hurry on over and enjoy! 🙂
Well, two stories may not seem like a lot, but the other markets that I submitted to, I’m pleased to say that most of the feedback I received wasn’t a “Dear John” form letter! And one short story was sooooo close to being accepted by Fireside! It had made a second round of consideration! Was I crushed that they didn’t finally buy it. You betcha! But, I’m so glad they took the time to email me the reasons why. And when they re-open for submissions, I’ll be ready!
Now, keep in mind, I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts that in order to be successful, you have to take risks. And boy, have I!
So, on to the . . .
Don’t laugh, but until this year, I hadn’t stepped foot on a plane in almost thirteen years. Being mommy often comes first and if my little ones couldn’t come with me, then I would stay at home. The last time I boarded a plane was when I traveled to Japan in 2006 as a Clearwater-Nagano Sister Cities Ambassador! Anyway, while I was spending time clicking around on Twitter, I noticed an opportunity that I had to try!
Our oldest son had just started attending University in the summer and was continuing his education through the fall. Money was, to say the least, tight. 😦 So, I did something I never did. I asked my friends and followers for help! Being an introvert is downright paralyzing, but I forced myself out of my shell and used crowdfunding to help spread the word.
I was both amazed and humbled by the incredible outpouring of love and support I received!
In August, I kissed my family and my students (yup, Florida starts school really early) good-bye and headed to Pennsylvania for writing, relaxing, reading, researching, studying, learning, talking, eating, networking, and more and more delicious eating! The chefs at Highlights are AMAZING!
I was able to meet Linda Camacho, Patrice Caldwell, Sona Charaipotra, and Linda Sue Park. Unfortunately, Dhonielle Clayton wasn’t able to attend. Buuut, she provided copies of her YA novel, The Belles! In fact, all of the authors provided copies of their most recent novels. I was able to get autographs, too! Woo hoo!
Here are some photos of my trip to Pennsylvania.
Something incredibly sweet happened yesterday! I received an email from Rivière Blanche, small publisher in France. They requested to reprint one of my short stories, Bondye Bon, in one of their anthologies. It’s to be translated into French, (duh — redundant, much, but I’m TOTALLY psyched — LOL) and published by the end of 2019! I’m especially surprised and delighted regarding this news and will keep you posted with anthology cover reveals and any other upcoming news!
Last year’s year-end reflection can be found here.
Haitian Creole — psst . . . which one of the headings is not like the others . . .
I love reading all kinds of genres. Whether it be poems, song lyrics, autobiographies, recipes, etc. I’m not a picky reader. In this post, I’ll discuss something few talk about.
The War of the Genres!
Publish America and the Hasty Generalization That Pissed Off the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community
Almost twenty years ago, a company called PublishAmerica asserted SF/F authors, “have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home,” are “not ashamed to be seen as literary parasites and plagiarists,” and believe that their preferred genres liberate them from such concepts as “believable storylines” or “believable every-day characters.”
Needless to say, this feud started by PublishAmerica’s needless criticisms of the science fiction and fantasy world didn’t end well for the company. Don’t they know this rule: when reputation is on the line NEVER, EVER go against a group of people that plays god for a living by weaving words into worlds.
A group of renowned authors got together and created a sting operation to show the world that PublishAmerica was indeed (at worst) a scam and (at best) a vanity press swindling naive writers out of their money while pretending to be a traditional publisher. They created an unpublishable and unreadable book called, “Atlanta Nights”. PublishAmerica being who PublishAmerica was or is (hey, is this company even around anymore?) published the book. You can read more about all of those juicy bits here.
On a personal note, I had almost fallen for the PublishAmerica scam. At that time, I may have been a teenager, but I sensed a disturbance in the force and stayed away. 🙂
I find it interesting that the way the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre has flowed in so many amazing directions that the hate would go away. Unfortunately, someone had posted this question on Quora: “What are the fatal flaws in writing fantasy?”
The responder, (whose name I won’t post) has his own opinions that for the most part I don’t agree with, but this gem . . . oh boy, this gem I found to be so untrue:
Fantasy for many writers is just a decoration. They don’t really need anything “fantastic” in their story, but they like it. It’s easier to write fantasy because it doesn’t really take that much research and you can explain a lot of things by how “this world is made”.
First of all, in order for fantasy writing to work, there needs to be the spirit of realism that not only breathes life into the author’s fantastically amazing world (setting), but also connects the reader so that the reader can then make connections. Second, fantasy does indeed take a heck of a lot of research. For instance, let’s say that your main character is a farm girl, and you, the darling author, know nothing about this profession. Well, you better start researching on agriculture. How are crops irrigated? What crops does your main character grow? You know, simple stuff like that to infuse realism into the story. Now, let’s say that your main character farm girl needs to travel for miles to reach the next plot point — how long will it take? How many hours are even in a day of this fantastical and fictitious world? Is she using a horse? Traveling by boat? How many miles? What, we don’t use miles in this world? Well, what are they even EQUIVALENT to?Oh Lord — bring forth the calculator!
Here are some basic questions most fantasy writers know to ask themselves when planning their worlds:
Do you know the general layout of your world? Do you have some sort of loose map of it in your head? Where do different places lie in relation to others?
How does the location of different landmarks and countries influence their trade?
How does the climate and terrain differ in different regions of your world?
What are the weather patterns like? Are certain locations more vulnerable to certain elements of nature?
What plants grow in which areas? Do any of them have any special properties?
What wildlife is common in which areas?
Are your names based upon certain cultures?
Do they translate to something?
Does the name fit the world and cultures you’ve built into it, or will it your reader find it jarring?
How are troops obtained? Through conscription or voluntary enlistment?
Who are the country’s allies? Why are they allied with them? Are the allies happy with the arrangement?
Is the country at war, or close to it? Why? With who?
What are the key military fighting techniques?
Are there any noteworthy weapons or transports?
What branch of the military excels? Do they have a particularly strong army, navy, etc.?
What about previous wars, alliances, and treaties? What prompted them? How did they influence interacting cultures, countries, and warfare?
Is there any sort of public education, or is schooling reserved for the wealthy?
How about books? Do “peasants” and the middle-class have access to them, or are they solely in libraries– at schools and in wealthy estates?
Is it common to know how to read?
What are the basic tasks and facts people learn as children? Does it differ between genders? How about between social classes?
Are studies valued, or looked down upon culturally (generally speaking)?
Is the government a monarchy? A democracy? A republic?
Who are some past noteworthy rulers or government officials? Who do the citizens remember now? And why are they remembered?
Is there an essential governing document (like the U.S.’s Constitution)?
Is it largely a patriarchal or matriarchal society? Or does it attempt equality?
What’s the currency?
How is incarceration determined? Is there any sort of court system?
What about capital punishment? Are people regularly executed– and what are the capital crimes? How about the method of execution?
What are the most important laws of the land? What laws are particularly unique to your world?
Related to the above topic of government, does religion have a place in the government or is there a separation between the two entities?
Are religious practices mandated by the state? Do those who don’t comply– or those who have a different belief system– face persecution?
What do people believe in this religion? What myths surround it?
Is the religion monotheistic? Polytheistic?
Are there holy texts? Scriptures?
What practices or services do worshippers attend? What’s entailed in them?
Who are the religious officials?
Are there particular holy days to note?
What denotes status in this world?
How does courting work?
What traditions are there surrounding life milestones (birthdays, weddings, births, deaths…)?
Are there particular superstitions?
What are the fashions like? The trends? What influences (modesty, climate, status) does it have?
What’s the architecture like?
What’s the food and drink like?
Are there any special festivals that people attend?
What are the typical gathering places for inhabitants of the world when they have spare time?
And that’s just scratching the surface! Click on this link (information provided by SFWA — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) to see how deeper one can go when they’re seriously planning their fantasy world. The above questions were provided by Jennifer Elision.
Here’s a diagram of what we readers experience as we (automatically — this skill sometimes has to be taught to young readers) interact with the text:
Most importantly, these three connections keep readers engaged from the beginning to the ending of a good book.
The Tortoise and the Hare
When you were little, you may have heard this fable and learned that the moral to the story is “slow and steady wins the race”, but I’m going to have to go with what Jacob Davenport deduced instead:
Success depends on using your talents, not just having them.
And when it comes to being slow, I mean reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy slow, three incredibly talented and fantastic authors come to mind and they’re making their fans lose their minds:
My husband introduced me to Jim Butcher and Patrick Rothfuss. My oldest brother introduced me to George R.R. Martin. These three amigos are talented authors and I hope to meet them someday at conventions. Not to bask in their glory, but to soak up their great literary wizardry through osmosis.
But I digress. Apologies.
The simplest conclusion one could come to is that authors like Butcher, Rothfuss, and Martin aren’t doing their jobs because books are taking too long to “come out”. But again, like I said, it’s the simplest conclusion that doesn’t take much thought or consideration for the fact that these authors are also people with lives other than their books. Lives that include families, hobbies, and other personal attributes that may get in the way of their writing. In one interview, Rothfuss mentioned that he hadn’t finished the third book in the KingKiller Chronicles because he had to deconstruct it first. He also expressed that he wanted it to be just right. You know, he cares about impressing his fans.
Jim Butcher has endured a lot lately: divorce, death of his beloved dog, and I’m sure a lot more that the public doesn’t need to know about.
Nevertheless, some George R.R. Martin fans be like: “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, return to your Cave of Ordeals and complete the final book and kill off another beloved character so that we may cry!”
George be like:
Binders Full of Research
I’m reading 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. The first day, I was able to crank out 1,964 words. I noticed that if I had all of my plans more detailed I could have written more. But every once in a while, I had to flip back to my notes, maps, character goals, fears, and so forth . . . or sometimes, I was quite naughty and chose to just keep writing even though I knew I’d have to go back and fix those wobbly bits during revision time.
Fantasy writers have so much to keep track of! In an interview, George R.R. Martin explained that he’s unable to write while he’s traveling to conventions and attending other meetings. He feels most comfortable at his home where he can easily access his notes.
I get it! Oh, do I get it and I empathize with both the readers that want the next book in the series, but I also understand how writers feel about the book being “just so”. After all, we are creating worlds from scratch. Now, I don’t personally know about other fantasy writers (besides those who have based their works off of medieval Europe), but I often base my worlds off of historical and current events that I find interesting. I even look to the geography and customs of real-life cultures and languages for inspiration. Not only am I learning more about the world I live in, but I’m able to create great plot twists and character sketches based off of historical places and people. Now, just because I may think that fantasy writers have it harder than a strictly mainstream fiction writer doesn’t mean that I have to demonize said mainstream fiction writers in order to lift up or edify the trials and tribulations of the fantasy genre. Unfortunately, writers of different genres sometimes treat one another poorly (even writers that belong in the same genre group — read about the sad puppies and rabid puppies to get an idea of what has happened and is still happening in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community).
“My Genre Brings All the Readers to the Checkout”
In Kelise’s Hip Hop R&B song, Milkshake she sings in a taunting and sensuous voice, “my milk shake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, ‘it’s better than yours’. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I can teach you, but I have to charge.” If the word milkshake is metaphorical for sex appeal, then when it comes to writers and their “literary appeal” it’s all about how well we craft words (and often worlds) in order to keep our readers spellbound page by page. There are so many different flavors of books! When I teach genre writing, I often compare the different genres to actual tastes. It’s like Baskin Robbins with all of those glorious 31 flavors. In other words, horror doesn’t have the same flavor to me as a space opera. Don’t ask me why, but horror stories have a medium-rare cheeseburger-ish quality to me while space operas make me think of popcorn and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and a side of pickles. Can’t forget the pickles.
Even when you’ve read a mystery novel, one book differs from another. Obviously because they’re written by two different people.
For example, The Julius House, by Charlaine Harris in comparison to Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods are worlds apart — not necessarily because one is a Caucasian-American woman and the other is an African man (he was born in Ghana) will be exceptionally different. Most importantly due to the settings. Quartey’s crime novel takes place in Ghana while Harris’ cozy mystery takes place in Georgia. Sometimes the settings of any good book (regardless of genre) becomes a character all on its own.
Now, back to the main debate. Critics of genre fiction, more specifically Science Fiction and Fantasy, believe that literary fiction is better because readers get a sense of “accomplishment” and “fulfillment” when they finish reading a book by authors like Haruki Murakami or Zadie Smith. While on the other hand, Science Fiction and Fantasy books are solely meant for escapism and entertainment.
Yes, Science Fiction and Fantasy stories can also be a commentary on society and a way of seeing the world and understanding it. Not escaping.
A fantastic example of an author writing stories that transcended this Tolkien idea of fantasy as a “glorious escape” is two-time Hugo Award Winner, N.K. Jemisin Her novel, The Fifth Season left me crying — not only because I wanted to read more — but because the book was so emotionally gripping! Before the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy even begins, Jemisin dedicates the book like this:
“For all those that have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.”
As I’ve said before it’s unnecessary to denigrate one group in order to protect and uplift another. We don’t need to demonize one to uplift the other. Whether you like Genre fiction or Literary fiction there’s plenty of room for both. 🙂 Or even better . . . a hybrid of the two.
Typically, rejection doesn’t hold a positive connotation. And why would it?
Rejection is painful.
When I was much younger writer, I often didn’t bother submitting my work because I didn’t think it would be accepted. Plenty of times while writing a query letter or a cover letter, the part that always froze me up was when I had to list previous publishing credentials. I was a teenager and feared that the writing contest I won as a seven-year-old would be laughed at or the poems and short stories I had published in the school newspaper were worthless. I didn’t know that not including any accolades was . . . okay.
This defeatist way of thinking ultimately trapped me in a fixed mindset.
I didn’t allow myself to be comforted with the fact that “sometimes, you’ve got to start from nowhere to get to somewhere” and “hey, you may not be there. Yet. You will get there if you don’t give up.”
That three-letter-word “yet” holds as much power as the two-letter-word “if”.
Also, I was unaware of problematic issues within the publishing world. For example, I didn’t know how systematically racist the publishing industry can be — especially when it comes to the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre. I feared rejection and ironically was surrendering to this practice by rejecting myself.
Self-rejection not only affected me, but it didn’t give others the opportunity to even take a chance on my work.
Thankfully, I know better and I choose to do better. For instance, I learned that magazines like Fireside aren’t only noticing that Black writers are vastly underrepresented in Science Fiction and Fantasy, but have actively taken a role in shedding light on this issue. The birth of FIYAH Literary Magazine was an answer to this problem and its staff didn’t need statistics to prove and add more weight to what most people of color already know: the stakes are often against us and these writers and editors bravely proclaim” . . . the future of genre is now. And the future ain’t going to write itself.” They too launched a survey and a report on Black Science Fiction and Fantasy writers. I look forward to learning more about these findings.
This year, I’m going to continue this new outlook focused on a Growth Mindset and my goal is to obtain at least 50 rejections (collectively) from agents, editors, and/or magazines by the end of the year.
Why? Well, the more I submit, the more likely I’ll be successful. 🙂 Likewise, one good sale is better than none!
And who knows, maybe I can play Rejection Bingo (originally found here — thank you, Chris!) while listening to one of my favorite songs, Prince’s (may he rest in peace) “Let’s Go Crazy!”
Writer’s Digest just completed their judging for the Popular Fiction Awards and even though I considered I wouldn’t win first place, I thought I’d at least get an honorable mention. 😦
Nope. Nada. Nothing.
I’m bummed right now.
I don’t know what to do with this story. I’ve sent it to so many places and no one seems to want it. I hope it’s not because of the narrator. The Publishing Industry says they want diverse books, but maybe our definitions of diverse aren’t the same?
I don’t know.
I’ve read this story at my critique group. It’s been revised, edited, and oh how I mercilessly murdered all of those little darlings to make the story sparkle! Everyone who has read the story (no, not just my mum and husband) think it’s great. And no, I didn’t bribe them with tea and cookies. And no, I didn’t offer pie or chocolates. Honest.
So, what’s wrong with the story? I wish they had offered some feedback, but with over 850 entries that was impossible. Despite this setback, I hope I find this gem a home.
What’s really sad is that this is only the second day of the New Year and I just want to give up. What if my dreams never come true? What if I’m just a statistic? What if I’m just wasting my time? What if —
So, I searched for some inspirational quotes and found one that’s totally relatable:
Well, I don’t want to be stuck in this Cave of Despair and Obscurity. 🙂 So, I’ll keep on going and take Naruto’s advice:
Soon, the year 2018 will roll on in. Looking back to all that I’ve accomplished, in spite of the struggle and medical hardships (yup, maybe I’ll share that someday), I can finally admit that I’m amazed and proud of myself.
Before I sat down to type this post, I had to think back on every single thing I did in order to own this feeling and not dismiss it. My mother and father raised me to always strive to be better. So, I blame them. Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. Thank you ever so much. Lol.
For most of you that know me on a more personal level, you know it’s hard for me to express such affirmations and truly, TRULY own them.
So, without further adieu, here are 10 Accomplishments in 2017 I’m MOST PROUD OF:
1. Attended various local author events at bookstores, libraries, and conventions.
2. Republished Forbidden as an e-book (now if only I can finish it up as a paperback)!
3. Independently published my first middle grade book (Waking Dream Series). Due to the fact that I struggle with marketing books like other Indie authors, I’ve decided that WHEN (not if) I become traditionally published, I’ll still put 100% into social media and marketing, but I hope that I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. Being an Indie author is HARD! And yes, the stigma of independently publishing books is slowly disappearing it isn’t completely extinct!
4. Celebrated my sons’ birthdays (17, 5, and 2).
5. Wedding Anniversary – 🙂
6. Submitted several manuscripts to agents and publishers! Sure, I received rejections! But if you don’t try, you won’t succeed!
7. Applied for artists grants.
8. Sold my FIRST PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” to FIYAH Literary Magazine. Learn more so you can purchase your copy in January here!
9. Created YouTube Channel that’s in need of some serious, serious attention! 😉
10. Connected with more bloggers, readers, writers, and friends all over the world!
With you and your stimulating social interactions, I’ve become a better writer!
Earlier today I visited my local Barnes & Noble to purchase The Book. This book shall remain a mystery until a future post. 🙂
Anyway, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with a grandmother who is also a writer. She popped into the bookstore to purchase the gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written picture book, “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon for her adorable granddaughter.
Picture books like “Come on Rain!” by Karen Hesse and Patricia Polacco’s “Chicken Sunday” are much longer in comparison to the picture books that are being published today. And it’s sad. I’ve drawn my own conclusions about why that might be.
There’s no doubt that editors and agents are paying close attention to their intended audiences. Perhaps, they’ve drawn conclusions that the kids of today have shorter attention spans and that they’re unable to listen through a ten minute read aloud (and fellow teachers, let’s not forget accountable turn and talk time, amiright)? Last year, I sent a survey home to parents asking about obstacles that keep their student from reading. Parents didn’t disappoint. One parent in particular explained that her daughter is distracted by so many “toys and gadgets” such as her cell phone, tablet (where she plays app games such as Candy Crush) and video games. Despite this parental feedback, I was still confused because even as a kid when I had my video games (Legend of Zelda, Ogre Battle, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy series — oh yes!) I made time for reading. My parents also instilled in me the importance of prioritizing.
Another reason why I think picture books have shrunk is because they aren’t made for cheap. Publishers have to pay the illustrator and the author (if they’re not working with an author-illustrator). One other favorite picture books is “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch. Reading Rainbow introduced this book to me. I love how the character-driven story shares a universal message about following your dreams despite resistance from others.
I miss the picture books of long ago! I miss the the graceful use of figurative language! And don’t get me wrong, I understand that publishers need to make money. Otherwise, they can’t feed their own families, pay their bills, and so on. According to Kidlit.com, picture books are a $50,000 investment for a publisher!
BUT, I do think that if a book is great and interesting, the length SHOULD be an afterthought! And if a reader is really engaged then they’ll just keep reading.
However, there have been times when I’ve relied on Quick Reads for my little ones. Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is a great solution when I’m cramped for time!