Day 3 – An incomplete outline…

It’s really late. I haven’t written much today.  Been busy doing chores and catching up with sleep.

I wrote a little in the afternoon. I wasn’t satisfied with the results. It felt like I was just writing to write with no real direction. So I went back and looked through my old files and came across an incomplete outline I wrote a year ago. It only covered chapters 1 through 8, but it was enough to get me back on track with my story.

I’ve mentioned before that it took me a while to finish my first book because I was distracted and I didn’t set a deadline. But now I wonder, could it also be because I didn’t have an outline?

An outline never crossed my mind when I wrote my first novel. I simply typed as ideas flowed. I knew how I wanted the story to begin, the conflict and the resolution, but that was all I had. The rest of the story created itself as I wrote. It was exciting that way. I surprised myself. But now that I’m writing my second book and have a set deadline, it feels appropriate to have an outline. A guide. A map. Something to keep me focused and organized.

I’m beginning to think outlines and deadlines have to go together. But does having no deadline necessarily mean you don’t need an outline? I guess it all depends.

I think I will spend the rest of the night completing my incomplete outline. I hope following one will not make it less exciting to write. I hope to still surprise myself in the process.

What about you? Do you believe in outlines?

Day 2 – Defining my protagonist

It took me a while to fall asleep last night because I kept thinking about my protagonist. I knew what I wanted the story to be about, but I knew so little about my main character. What is she like and what makes her unique? After contemplating for hours, I fell asleep and woke up with the same question. It was really bugging me, so I decided to revisit what I had written yesterday. Hoping for something to come to me.

I always write and edit as I go along. It makes it easier for me to move forward when I know what I had just written worked and made sense.

In the middle of editing, my protagonist came to life. It was suddenly clear—what she looked like, who she was and why she was the way she was. I defined her. Because of this, I was able to rewrite and edit my quick draft from yesterday. And because of that, I can move forward.

Now back to writing…

Day 1b – Writing my next novel in 100 days…

Day 1 is about to end and I’m still trying to write as much as I can. Before it goes into day 2, I wanted to blog about what I have so far.

While making lunch today, I had all these thoughts about how I wanted the first chapter to begin. I didn’t jot anything down, so by the time I started writing, which was not until 6 pm, things were a bit scattered. I was able to squeeze in about 700 words right before dinner. I haven’t had a chance to edit anything yet, but I really need to. There are quite a few things I need to revisit.

Today felt a bit like rushed writing. Hope to squeeze in more time tomorrow so I can carefully craft the story.

Despite the mess, I’m glad I started writing.

Day 1 – Writing my next novel in 100 days…

Last night, I dug through my old notes. It was amazing reading bits and pieces of dialogues and unfinished chapters that I’ve written through the years for random book ideas. What a waste to just let them sit there and never tell their story. I’m so glad I’ve decided to challenge myself with this commitment of writing with a set deadline.

One of my ideas will come to fruition in 100 days.

I am so in love with the story I’m about to write. I hope to write it in a way that you too could fall in love with.

Be back in a few hours…

Writing my next novel in 100 days…

If you read my last blog, you know that I just made a commitment to write the first draft of my second novel in 100 days. Yikes.

My first book was written with no real deadline. I wrote it in the midst of full time work, trying to be a professional poker player, getting married, being pregnant, having a baby and finally becoming a full time mom.

This time, I’m setting a deadline: First draft in 100 days.

My goal is to end with about 85,000 words, which means I would have to write approximately 850 words a day. I’ll do this in the midst of dealing with my Trigeminal Neuralgia, my upcoming Radiosurgery in April, and while taking care of my 2-year old daughter.

Through the years, I’ve jotted down other book ideas. I guess it’s time to look back at those notes.

Today, I decide on a story. Tomorrow, day 1 begins.

Doable? We’ll see.

How long did it take you to write your book?

The answer always varies. It all depends on what you’re writing, your commitment to writing and a lot of other things.

My first novel took a few years to write, for many different reasons. After I came up with the idea, I started writing it little by little. The original version was actually a novella. I sent out queries to Literary Agents and got the attention of one in L.A., who requested for my full manuscript. About a month after I sent it out, I received a letter from the agent saying how much she loved the story and the characters, but unfortunately, there is no market for novellas.

I was thankful she gave me as much feedback as she did because that pushed me to rewrite my book and turn it into a novel. It took me a while to do it because of many distractions. Through it all, I squeezed in a few months here and there and did what I could to finish writing it. The whole process was stressful, fun and challenging. It taught me a lot about being a better writer. As I rewrote it, I realized how much more I had to say. There were more dialogues to be said and more chapters to be written. It felt more complete when I was done. My book was never meant to be a novella, it was always meant to be a novel.

In anything we do, there will always be distractions. The key is to not be distracted. Live life and party, but make time to work towards our goals. It’s easy to make excuses, but it won’t get us anywhere.

On that note, I’m challenging myself. I will make a commitment and write the first draft of my next book in 100 days. I’m not doing it to rush it. I’m simply setting a deadline—something I didn’t do last time.

Follow my blogs and I’ll take you through the writing process of my next novel.


Chick Lit or Upbeat Women’s Fiction?

As a writer, one of the questions I get a lot is, “What’s your genre?”

I actually wrote my first book with no genre in mind. All I knew was I wanted to write fiction. I created my story the way I felt I should—using my own style and voice. While researching on Literary Agents and query letters, I realized I needed to figure out what specific genre I belonged to, as each agent specializes in different ones. The last thing I want is to send queries out to agents who can’t represent me.

After studying the different kinds of genres and subgenres, I came up with the conclusion that my book belonged to Women’s Fiction, specifically Chick Lit.

So before attending the Writers Conference in February, I took a closer look at chick lit novels. According to what I dug up, it continues to have a pretty big market. Sure, there is a lot of competition, but I was happy to know my book belonged to a pretty successful subgenre. I went ahead and had my business cards printed with chick lit under my name. I was ready to go.

At the conference, as expected, I was asked about what genre I wrote. I’m glad I did my homework. When I asked the same question to my fellow writers, there were quite a few who didn’t know what genre their book belonged to. Not surprising, because based on my experience, it can be pretty tricky.

Just when I was getting comfortable telling people about my book and genre, I met an Agent who gave me some not-so-good-news. After pitching my story, she politely tells me the publishing world is phasing out chick lit. My heart sunk. Crap. Really? What do I do now? Do I rewrite my story? What about all my business cards? Fortunately, she liked my pitch and asked for the first 50 pages. Whew.

Coincidentally, the next session I attended was about women’s fiction. During the session, I asked:
“I was just told chick lit is being phased out. If my book belonged to this subgenre, what should I call it now? Just women’s fiction?”

After nodding her head, the speaker on stage replied, “Yes. Just call it women’s fiction.”

I sat back down, not quite satisfied with the answer. Women’s fiction is so broad. The one thing that makes chick lit so different from other women’s fiction is its fun tone. Simply saying my book belongs to women’s fiction didn’t seem right to me.

During another session, I sat with 2 Literary Agents who gave me a slightly different answer. After telling them about my novel and my genre dilemma, they told me to categorize my book as an upbeat women’s fiction. Interestingly enough, one of the agents expressed her feelings about how chick lit should remain being called chick lit, especially if books like these still exist.

So is chick lit really dying? I did a quick search on and and typed chick lit. A bunch of titles came up. Next, I checked google and found a plethora of sites that reviewed and talked about chick lit.

I guess it all depends on who you talk to. To some, chick lit has been successful and over published the past few years and is now taking a backseat. But to others, it’s still very much alive. If there is still a market for it, why get rid of it?

Chick lit or upbeat women’s fiction? What do you think?

Getting published…

So you have an idea for a book. You fill sheets of paper with random notes about what it will be about. The dialogue. The characters. The story. Your thoughts start piling up in your head and you finally begin to write. You do what it takes to get your words down, so you type, type, type. Each word carefully picked and combined to make a sentence, a paragraph—used to describe a feeling, a scene, a dialogue and a character. Chapter by chapter, you lay out your story. You wake up early and stay up late. Before you know it, you actually finished your novel…or so you think. So you read it over and over and realize that you want to add something, or take something out and possibly even rewrite it. So you do. And then you find yourself doing this fifty more times. Days, weeks, months, even years later, you finally feel it’s done and you’re ready to get your book published. Your precious creation is ready to be released into the world for all to see.

But wait…there’s more. As if writing your novel wasn’t hard enough, now you realize you need a Literary Agent. So you spend a lot of time researching on how to get one and then you’re quickly introduced to the Query Letter. The special tool that gets you discovered. You read hundreds of samples of successful queries, trying to figure out how to perfect yours. You eventually get started and write one. You read it over and over and realize that you want to add something, or take something out and possibly even rewrite it. So you do. And then you find yourself doing this fifty more times. Hours, days, weeks, even months later, and you’re finally ready to send it out. You carefully edit your query letter one last time and mail it via snail mail or email, along with a prayer.

Nervous and anxious, you wait to get a reply, but understand it may take days, weeks, even months to get one. And it might not even be a yes. But you wait anyway, and check your mailbox or inbox twenty times a day. And then you finally receive a reply! You can’t believe it. You’re so excited. With your heart pounding, your hands sweating, you take a deep breath and read the letter…it happens to be a rejection. Aaaahhh! You feel like someone just punched you on the chest, stepped all over your dream and crushed it. You feel insulted and even embarrassed. You may curse, scream, cry or even want to give up. Or you can just snap out of it and simply accept the rejection for what it is, and admit that your chest was untouched, your dream is still alive and no one insulted you. The agent is not in charge of your destiny. You are. So you move on and mail out a few more query letters and know that sooner or later, the right agent will believe in your book, just as much as you do.

Sure, it will be the beginning of another long process because there will be more writing and editing to come. It may take days, weeks, or even months before it actually gets published, but it will happen.

We write because we love to. We do it because it’s our form of expression, our release, and our passion. We write for those who appreciate and understand us. And regardless of the many rejections we may or may not get, we will always be writers and no one can ever take that away from us.

Getting published may be a long process, but just like writing a book, it’s all worth it in the end.

Why I write fiction

I met a biographer at the Writers Conference who asked me what genre I wrote. I proudly said women’s fiction. With a wondering look, he said, “I don’t know how people can write fiction. As a biographer, everything is already there, the character and the story. I don’t know how fiction writers come up with their stories.”

I quickly replied, “I write fiction because it’s liberating. To have the power to create your own characters, your own dialogue, your own story is just an amazing experience.”

He simply shrugged his shoulders.

They say to write fiction, you need to experience life, and I agree. But I believe you also have to have a creative imagination. For me, writing fiction is like traveling. After coming up with the idea of where to go, I research on the culture, the food, the language and the people and then I take the trip. And while I’m there, I explore and make it one big adventure.

Fiction can be anything you want it to be. So go crazy.

Why it is right to write

I just finished attending the 3-day San Francisco Writers Conference. It was amazing. Everything was very organized and the sessions I attended were well presented and definitely worth going to. It felt great being surrounded by people who do what I do and dream what I dream. I met a bunch of fiction and non-fiction writers. Some published and some unpublished. Everyone seemed really friendly and eager to tell their story.

I had the pleasure of meeting a few literary agents and editors who I learned a lot from. This experience made me realize why I love what I do and why I was meant to write.

Here’s to writing more books.