Don’t Wait to Get Picked, Pick Yourself

It’s been two years since I last blogged. But I haven’t stopped writing.

For the last few years, I have worked on my craft—grinding it out, finishing one new novel after another, editing each manuscript—toiling over every sentence until I was satisfied. Then I would send out queries and wait for literary agents to get back to me—hoping for one of them to believe in my stories as much as I, and my beta readers, believe in them. With every few rejections I would receive, there would be a spark of hope—agents asking for a partial or a full manuscript. And while I held my breath, I would fulfill each request with my fingers crossed. Soon, the replies would filter in, some automated and generic, some even complimenting my writing and my stories—yet all would end with different variations of saying no.

Despite all the hard work I had put into each manuscript, I was back to square one.

Feeling defeated once more, I would take a deep breath and accept the fact—as discouraging as it was, that this was all part of the process of finding an agent. At least based on my research, other people’s experiences, and the information I had gained from writing workshops and conferences. It wouldn’t take long until I would start working on a new story, while emotionally and mentally preparing myself for the next round of writing, editing, and querying.

A few weeks ago, while scanning thumbnails on YouTube, I noticed an interview from Behind the Brand with Brian Elliott called, Seth Godin: Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself.

I was intrigued. So, I clicked on it. Minutes later, everything made sense.

Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself. A line that lingered in my head for the rest of the day.

It was clear. By me following the same paradigm year after year, I was no longer pursuing my own goals. I was simply following someone else’s path—hoping and expecting for the same results.

Without me noticing—this way of thinking and pursuing had caused me to forget the one thing I had set out to do: Write my stories and share them with you.

While I stayed cooped up inside my writing box—with one click, people all over the world were sharing their craft, product, or idea through social media and other platforms—finding their audience, building their careers, joining communities, changing their lives and others, and never looking back. People who believe and trust in their dream or idea—enough to let it drive them forward, regardless if they would fail or not.

Seth Godin is right. Don’t wait to get picked, pick yourself.

Follow your own path. Because just as we are all unique, each of our dreams are, too. There is no wrong or right way to achieve your dream. If one path does not work, do not give up.

Instead, move on and create your own opportunities.

I would love to get a literary agent. But it might not be in the cards right now. It’s time I fold this hand so I could get dealt a new one.

In 2012, I self-published my first novel, HIGH (A Caffeinated Love Story). To my loyal readers who have asked me through the years when my next novel is coming out—thank you for patiently waiting. I finally have an answer for you.

HEARTS AND ERRORS will release on January 19, 2019!

Beginning this week, excerpts from my upcoming novel and updates will be posted here and on my other social media accounts.

After all, this is all I ever wanted to do. To write my stories and share them with you.



Word Count

I recently shared with you that I’m working on a short story. Well, after checking my final word count, I realized it’s actually a novelette.

When I wrote the first draft of Paper Airplane, the word count was around 6,000 words. I continued to write and edit and didn’t pay close attention to the word count after that. I wanted to focus on developing the story and writing it until I felt the story was complete. Then I sent it to a couple of my beta readers. After I got their feedback, I did a few minor edits and checked my word count again. I was surprised to see it was now a little over 10,000 words. My short story was no longer a short story. It was now a novelette.

What is a novelette?
A novelette is basically too long to be a short story, but too short to be a novella. In terms of word count, a novelette has about 7,500 to 17,500 words.

So, will I cut my word count to stay in the short story category? No, I won’t. I wrote Paper Airplane for the story, not the word count. If it happens to be a novelette, then that’s what it’ll be.

In case you’d like to know more about word counts for fiction, check out the list below.

Flash fiction/short short stories: under 1,000 words
Short story: 1,000-7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel: over 40,000 words

Here are a few helpful and interesting posts on word count.

12 Helpful Tips When Writing a Book

There are a lot of tips to keep in mind when writing a book. One of my favorites is show—don’t tell. Here are a few other helpful tips I’ve learned along the way.

12 Helpful Tips When Writing a Book

  1. When an idea comes along—jot it down.
  2. Make time to write. Create a writing schedule that works for you.
  3. Set and meet your deadlines.
  4. Save your first draft. It can help you stay on path when you accidentally stray from your original idea.
  5. Edit. A LOT.
  6. Read what you’ve written out loud. Hearing your own words will help you in the editing process.
  7. Write—even when you don’t feel like writing. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.
  8. Get beta readers you trust.
  9. Pick your editor carefully. (My first editor missed a few things on my manuscript. Thankfully, I caught and corrected the mistakes before my final draft was published.)
  10. Pay attention to constructive criticism, but do what you feel is best for your story.
  11. Keep your book title short and memorable.
  12. Endings need to close the story—not ruin it. Write it carefully.

What’s your favorite  tip when writing a book?


Promoting Your Book on a Budget

Since I am in the process of doing my HIGH Blog Tour, I have been spending a lot of time researching on how to promote my book. Recently, I came across a great article on how to market your book—on a budget.

Click here to check out the article.

Do you have a marketing tip you’d like to share?

A Happy Holiday Book Release

I am in the midst of preparing a nice holiday dinner for family tonight. Still have a lot to do, but I thought I’d take a quick break and update you on my novel.

Trying to release a book during the holidays is probably an insane idea, which was why I originally planned on releasing my novel last month. Unfortunately, editing took longer than I expected.

My manuscript sat with my editor for three long weeks. When I got my manuscript back, I was thrilled to find only a few markups, which I immediately worked on. After that, I set up my files then sent them to print. Once the files were approved, I ordered a printed proof. My proof arrived a few days later, and I was excited to read my book in print format. I had no idea I was in for a big surprise. I found mistakes I didn’t catch on screen, but more importantly, I found mistakes my editor completely missed. Most of the mistakes were minor, but there were a few that made me cringe. It was disappointing and very frustrating.

Quick writing tip: Don’t just proof your manuscript on screen. Print it out. You will be amazed at what you can find.

I finished doing my edits last Saturday, and I received the online proof last night. I’m getting ready to review it—hopefully, one last time.

I know that I could easily postpone my release date to next year, but I won’t. I can’t. 2012 has been a productive and good year for me. It just feels right to release HIGH this year.

So after tonight’s celebration, I will make time to review my book one last time. I’m hoping that by Christmas morning, the eBook version of HIGH will be available for everyone to view.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with good company and good food. I wish you all happiness and success in the coming New Year.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Tips I Learned from My Editor

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I overate, as usual.

Now that I’ve gone through my whole manuscript and read all the markups (a dozen times) from my editor, I thought I’d share what I learned with all of you. I think these are helpful tips we can all use the next time we write.

Let me preface by saying that most of the edits I got were focused on making sure my manuscript aligns with the guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style and that the spelling choices of certain words match Merriam-Webster’s.

Okay vs. OK:
Per Merriam-Webster’s, use OK.

Toward vs. towards:
Use toward. (Both are acceptable, but toward is preferred in American and Canadian English.)

• As a general rule, all numbers at the beginning of a sentence should be spelled out.
• Spell out whole numbers one through one hundred.
• Spell out numbers in dialogues.

• When using o’clock, the time should be spelled out (e.g., The meeting starts at five o’clock in the morning).
• To show exact times, use numerals (e.g., The last bus leaves at 11:30 p.m.).

In direct address, use commas (e.g., Thank you, Adam.), and after yes and no (e.g., Yes, I will be there.).

Per Chicago professional titles are generally only capitalized when used with a name.

Foreign words:
Foreign words and phrases are usually italicized unless used commonly.

Watch out for overused words:
Turns out I used “deep breath” more than a dozen times. Yikes.

Well that’s it. I hope you guys find these tips helpful.

Have a great weekend!

Novel Endings: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

After going through my beta readers’ critiques, I noticed that each one felt differently about my novel ending. Two liked it as is and two had very different comments. I read their notes over and over, making sure I wasn’t missing something valuable that I needed to see. I read my novel ending a few more times and went back to my beta readers’ notes again and again. Then I read articles online about novel endings and about what to avoid and that’s when it hit me—my novel ending wasn’t strong enough. I thought that if I carefully combine the last two chapters of my book, I could come up with a stronger ending. So I did just that, along with rewriting and simplifying a few things. Now I feel more confident about my new ending for HIGH.

Here are a few helpful articles I found online about novel endings.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Novel Endings
Spoiler alert! What makes a great ending?

I think a great novel ending should sum up everything in the story. It should answer all the questions, connect all the dots and and most of all, it should leave the reader satisfied. I think the simpler the ending—the more powerful it is.

What about you? What do you think makes a great novel ending?


Quote of the Day

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
-Sylvia Plath