Articles, Poems, Uncategorized

We Are All WIPs

WIP stands for work in progress. For writers, this means a story that is being progressively modified and improved over time.

As a writer, we usually have outlines of our stories, a veritable road map of what should happen, and a clear vision of the ending. But there are times when certain characters run rampant. When the path, events, and pace of the story are set by them, instead of staying true to the writer’s outline.

Any writer would have experienced this. When this happens, we’re not in control of the characters anymore, much less the story. It is the characters who decide and develop their own version of their tale.

Yet as a writer, we are always by their side, hovering over them, guiding them – still – towards the ending we have in sight.

Like the characters in our stories, we are all WIPs under the hands of our God.

Here’s to writing more stories in 2019! 🦋

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Articles, Organizing, Uncategorized

FREE Writer’s Planner: Organizing my Writing a.k.a. Making my Own Writer’s Planner

Do you have a planner? I bet you do. Every writer should have one. Some planners nowadays, though, have become increasingly complicated. Lots of pages, lots of blanks to fill up, lots of dates to remember, and other such things. Some are even bulky and heavy to carry everywhere you go. They’re becoming harder and harder to keep and maintain. Of course, this is just me. I know many people who thrive in complexity and detailed intricacy of such planners, and I truly admire them.

{ Interested to have a FREE downloadable, printable Planner? I have two, not just one! Read on. }

But if I can do things in a simple and time-efficient way, why not? I believe organizing shouldn’t be complicated. Organizing is supposed to help uncomplicate things and give us extra time doing what we’re supposed to do, rather than spend precious time jotting it all down. I also don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed by the to-do lists, especially if you juggle writing, work, and managing a household. It defeats the very purpose of having a planner.

For 2019, I made a vow to be more organized in my writing, but without burdening myself too much with it. So I made myself my own simple, easy, focus-driven Planner. Here it is and its elements:

{ Do you want to have this too, for FREE? Continue reading to the end of this post! }
  • #writedrive Monthly Quote. The first thing that will catch my eyes when I pick this up will be a motivational quote about writing. Because I always need reminders to keep on writing, I’ve made a hashtag of it (tee-hee!) #writedrive should drive me to write and give me a boost every time I’d feel low, insecure, and uncertain of myself as a writer.
  • This Month’s Goal/s. Whether I need to finish a chapter or a whole book, I have to write it down to be focused on what must be done/finished within the month.
  • Calendar is self-explanatory. I could cross out or check days as needed.
  • Week by week List. Based on the calendar, I made out five (5) weeks for each month. Each week includes the dates covered in it. Seven (7) hollow square bullets are for seven days (can be less). I can check the squares if I’d accomplish the things I set for myself each day for every week.

You may wonder why my Planner is colorful. There’s a reason for that. I intentionally picked those colors to perk me up, stimulate my mind to work and to write. Positive, cheerful vibes to inspire productivity. The fonts are larger, too, because aside from liking them bigger, I have myopic vision. Hey, if can see better, I can write better as well.

This printable Planner can be printed on a 8″x 11″ (U.S. Letter size) paper, edge to edge. Below is a printout:

Isn’t it pretty and vibrant?

But wait, there’s more. I also made another Planner for non-writer tasks! Except for the color scheme and design, it’s basically the same with the first one. Here it is:

What do you think? It’s not much, but for me, it should do the trick for me as a writer. That is, make me focus on my writing goals and spur me to achieve them. The other one should help me with my other career: as the CEO of my household.

So, you want these too? As a New Year’s treat, I’m giving away these planners!

Just sign up HERE for my A-List, and they will be yours, FREE!

The months of January, February, and March 2019 are ready for download and for printing. Enjoy!

I’d also be interested in knowing if these helped you and how. Just comment below.

Here’s to a more organized, efficient, and productive 2019!

Articles, Books, News and Events, Reviews, Uncategorized

INJS is one of Favorite Reads of 2018!

When I checked Twitter this morning, it was a pleasant surprise to find that I was tagged in a tweet. The tweet? My romcom book, It’s Not Just Semantics, was picked by a book blogger/booktuber as one of her Favorite Reads of 2018! 🎉🎉🎉

In her previous post last December 18, 2018, I was so happy to read her blog where she wrote about my female protagonist:

I never thought my book would be included in her list of Favorite Reads of 2018. I am so honoured and humbled. Thank you so much! 😍

More than this, I commend this blogger for giving a chance to read the books of indie authors. In her blog, she said it was important for her to read diversely and to select books from up and coming authors or indie authors. Thank you for supporting us indie authors!

Her reviews were her participation in the #smutathon, a week long readathon where the focus is to read adult romance. Her personal criteria was, I quote:

“… the HEA is not the ultimate goal, but rather strong storytelling with a focus of how the relationship is actually handled. This distinction is important on whether or not I will like the book.”

https://www.bloglovin.com/@weekendreader/smutathon-wrap-up

For her full post on her Favorite Reads of 2018, click HERE. I urge you to follow her blog!

It’s Not Just Semantics is available here.


This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, News and Events, Uncategorized, Writing Workshops

Speaking before The Greatest Digital Creatives’ seminar on fiction-writing and self-publishing

Last December 15, 2018 at the YDG Coffee Shop in Shaw Blvd., a group of writers and freelancers gathered together for a free seminar on Freelancing and Self-Publishing. Cherrie Ann Balictar, the founder of The Greatest Digital Creatives, invited me to speak about self-publishing and writing fiction. 

Admittedly, I was hesitant at first to accept her invitation. I didn’t see myself as qualified to speak about the said topics because I consider myself a newbie and I still have so much to learn. Cherrie was quick to soothe my fears, though, by encouraging me to just share what I know to these young people who wanted to learn about those things.

And it got me thinking.

When I was starting to delve into self-publishing and rekindling my skills on fiction-writing, there were no free seminars locally (at least, none that I knew of or heard of). I had to research on my own about it through browsing the internet. I had no one to ask. I had to learn by trial and error. It was so frustrating. It was like swimming aimlessly in a vast, deep ocean without a shore in sight.

By speaking what I’d experienced so far, these people may have a chance to avoid committing the same mistakes that I did. They may have a chance to learn things that weren’t offered to me way back when I was starting. And so, though my College teaching days were a long time ago, the thought somehow gave me the initiative to accept the challenge and go for it.

I talked about some writing tips and the basic elements of writing fiction: Plot, Character, Setting, Point of View, Style, and Theme. I also shared what I knew and had experienced about self-publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. The audience, comprising of creative millenials and professionals, was very attentive.

I had a great time at the seminar, meeting new acquaintances and rekindling an old friendship. And despite being the speaker and teacher (sort of), I learned so much too. For one thing, I had to review everything that I knew so far, and it was enlightening. I also learned that given the chance, people of all walks of life, young and not-so-young, will take the time and effort to learn new things and new skills to better themselves. Better people makes for a better way of life that can be satisfyingly creative and financially-rewarding as well. And better people, of course, can make for a better world.

The Greatest Digital Creatives is a creative team specializing in digital marketing and aims to offer mentorship programs to aspiring writers. You can get in touch with Cherrie and The Greatest Digital Creatives HERE. You’ll not regret it!

Posing with some of the attendees of The Greatest Digital Creatives’ seminar on freelancing and self-publishing
Articles, Books, Uncategorized

My first Children’s Picture Book

(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure at the end of this post.)


Renzo’s Rainbow, my first Children’s Picture Book

After so much dilly-dallying, self-bashing, and numerous drafts, I finally completed the artwork of my first ever Children’s Picture Book, Renzo’s Rainbow. It’s now available digitally and in paperback on Amazon.

This book means so much to me. I wrote this at a very sad time, when I was depressed and thinking of my father who had passed away. But ironically, writing this became a source of comfort for me, lifted my spirits, and put a smile on my lips after I typed “The End.”

Here’s a trivia: While I named the main character after my youngest son, in truth, it was my middle son, Carlo, who pulled me out of my depression years ago. He was just a child then, but he sounded all grown-up when he asked me one morning, seeing me sad again: “Mommy…when are you gonna smile?” I will never forget how his eyes looked at me with loneliness and confusion, searching for my usual morning smile which disappeared some months before. That single question was a wake-up call which shook me to my core, reminding me that I have a family to take care of — a husband who patiently put up with my sorrowful silence, and my children who were bewildered by the changes that made me different from the caring, cheerful mother I had been. In that moment, when I heard my little one ask me that seemingly trivial question loaded with a message and a meaning that cannot be adequately defined by mere words, I snapped out of my desolation. I hugged him and told him how sorry I was, over and over again. And then I smiled, just like he asked.

I’ve been smiling ever since. Whenever life or people become too tough or too crazy, or when sorrow knocks at my door–as when my mother died this year–or any other moment I feel not smiling, I try to curl up my lips upward, and smile…still.

I smile for my husband. I smile for my children. I smile for myself. I smile because whatever happens, life has to go on. There are chores to do, family who depends on me, hearts whose love for me are my strength and comfort.

Because that’s how we should live life. With courage and hope that dark days will turn to joyful moments, trusting an omniscient, merciful God to work for the good of His people.

I hope that readers of Renzo’s Rainbow will also realise, like I had, that happiness can be found every day, and that if we’d only look hard enough, it’s just right in front of us. 🦋


Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, Books, Uncategorized, Writing

New book! It’s Not Just Semantics

(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure at the end of this post.)


It’s Not Just Semantics

Just popping in to announce the good news: IT’S NOT JUST SEMANTICS is now LIVE! Paperback edition will be out soon.

I had so much fun writing this book. It was originally a Wattpad story of mine with a different, angsty, tearful twist, a la telenovela style with a happy ending.

But writing it in book form turned it to become a lighter version without tears and with less angst. I can truly say this is a fun read!

It has Filipino characters, age 30s. Romantic pergola under the stars, blanketed by white curtains and fairy lights. A trail of tea light candles with sampaguita flowers. Oh, and there’s pandesal, taho, tinapang bangus, and bayawak! Set in a fictional island paradise. Did I mention this book’s got lots of tongues? Yep, from page one to the last (gasp!)

Intrigued? One-click it HERE.

This is the first book in a series of standalone romances set in an island paradise. Absolutely no cliffhangers and guaranteed happy ending!

 
 

Get ready for a delightful, heartwarming, tongue-filled (!) romantic comedy.

SYNOPSIS

Rome Alvez is a disgraced champion race car driver, a notorious playboy, and he’s her stoical Boss.   Alex Hernandez is his efficient but smart-mouth and willful Personal Assistant tasked to repackage his image and bring him back to glory.  

He’s sarcastic. She’s cynical.  

He’s a player. She’s a man-hater.  

From the first moment they met, it’s a battle of wit, wills, and principles. Their views and values on relationships are poles apart. They don’t hold them back from each other, expressing them in colorful language every chance they get.   But in reality, both are cowards in disguise, scared and scarred, ruined by people close to them.   So what do they do when they find themselves drawn to each other despite their differences? They run around in circles and chalk up that “something” between them to just plain desire. After all, desire, attraction, lust, chemistry—those are the same banana, aren’t they? It doesn’t matter how they word it.   It’s just semantics. Or is it?   What if that “something” between them masks a deeper feeling which they can’t refuse or deny?   What if fate brought them together to heal each other’s emotional wounds and give them the courage to take a risk on love?


Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, News and Events, Uncategorized, Writing Workshops

Writing for Heist Club PH x Sachet Novels

Update! A Time for Heists romantic suspense collection was formally launched last August 4, 2018 at the iAcademy Nexus campus in Makati, Philippines. Thoughts and photos posted HERE.

I always liked challenging myself when it comes to writing fiction. By challenge, I mean trying out new genres or blending them. One such challenge I decided to take up was the Heist Club PH x Sachet Novels writing workshop.

36812748_10156449959446649_7198456877057835008_nThis workshop is a tie-up between Heist Club PH, a group of talented Filipino authors writing about crime fiction, and Komikasi Publishing’s Sachet Novels, the Philippines’ mobile book brand available to Cherry Mobile subscribers.

Blurb: The Greatest Treasure by Mayumi Cruz

Joseph’s professional thieving business which he runs with his reclusive friend, Herman, is thriving, not lacking for internationally rich and famous clients from whom they accept “projects” and get sky-high commissions as reward for their “extraordinary skills.”

But this particular job gives him the creeps. He has to steal a rare Rizal bust wherein the national hero’s letters on the whereabouts of the richest gold deposit in the Philippines are said to be hidden. To make matters worse, the bust is located in a seemingly impregnable yacht fortress in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, guarded by dangerous creatures he prefers not to encounter.

The client also requires that one of her own people do the job with him, and Joseph always works alone. But okay, a beautiful, all-woman but equally skilled thief, Amanda, may not be a bad companion, after all. That is, until he learns that her marching orders are to dispose of him once the bust is secured.

Now why would an apparently insignificant piece of wood generate such homicidal act on the part of his client? Surely, those letters don’t hold the power to alter the course of history and change the world’s opinion about the great man who inspired the Philippine revolution—or do they?

As early as the first week of May 2018, the mentors, Maita Rue, Ria Lu, Yeyet Soriano, and Georgette Gonzales started the free writing workshop with the end in view of coming up with a romantic suspense anthology in time for this year’s Philippine Romance Convention sponsored by the Romance Writers of the Philippines.

37978474_2064570843613117_3117153389306183680_oEmails were sent, together with tips and learning resources to help us better understand the genres, and also the rules we have to stick to. The workshop required us to write a heist (robbery) story with romance involving a real or imagined valuable artifact belonging to a Philippine historical figure.  Word cap ranged from 5,000-8,000 words, and several significant words and characters should be present in our story.

Writing a heist story was certainly challenging for me. It was very educational. From the mentors who shared with us their knowledge and expertise, I learned more about a MacGuffin, magical realism, and romance, among other things. At first, I was dreading the research work I had to do about Philippine history. As a student, I abhorred history classes because I remember them to be boring, sleep-inducing, and uninteresting. But I was surprised to find myself enjoying learning about my chosen historical figure, Dr. Jose Rizal, and in the process, reading up on other historical persons as well.

I also found writing a heist story utterly enjoyable. I loved Danny Ocean’s movies franchise, The Italian Job, and The Inside Man. I watched them all again. I also read up on heist novels. All these helped me a lot in finding my voice and style, thus creating and finishing my story, The Greatest Treasure, which is included in the A Time for Heists Anthology. (Please see Blurb above) Funny, I actually am thinking of writing a sequel to it–a full-length novel!

A Time for Heists will be formally launched on August 4, 2018 at the Philippine Romance Convention, which will be held at the IAcademy campus in Makati, Metro Manila. It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon for international buyers.

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Aside from the book launch, there will be talks and panels on various interesting topics. There will also be an Indie Book Fair, where my other books will also be available for purchase.

Everyone is invited!

Articles, News and Events, Uncategorized

Bookbed’s Review of Chroma Hearts

C827F749-A98E-4D83-BF63-2788E87D1D61Nothing brings more joy to a writer than finding readers that not only appreciate your work, but, more importantly, are able to intellectually decipher, grasp, and be emotionally invested in what you have written. While writers accept that not every reader can be their target readers, it’s always a nice surprise to come upon people who really do get what you’ve been meaning to say in your story.

Bookbed is a vibrant, multifaceted creative community which actively promotes and supports Filipino readers, writers, and artists, with the main goal of developing a #ReadingNation. It is headed by KB Meniado and her team. I am honored that she read my book and shared her thoughts about it in the bookbed blog. Thanks, KB!

Here are some excerpts of KB’s review of my romantic psychological thriller book, Chroma Hearts. To read the full review, go to this link: Bookbed.org.

My heart was pounding the whole time I was reading this book because [expletive deleted]. It opened with a crime (stuff of nightmares, really), and I thought the writing style was nothing less than perfect—vivid and dramatic, because it situated me right away (and honestly, a bit carried away). The whole thing felt like following a crime movie or TV show, complete with mini cliffhangers, dramatic plot twists and flashbacks and wtf-worthy revelations. At the rate my investment was going, I was already practically begging to get to the bottom of it all even in just the first few chapters.

Chroma Hearts by Mayumi Cruz is a gripping and thought-provoking story about fighting for love against mental illness, with a side of crime solving. Strongly recommended for those who enjoy mind-stirring and heart-squeezing.

Chroma Hearts is available internationally on Amazon, both digitally and in print. For Philippine buyers, paperback edition can be purchased here.


This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, News and Events, Uncategorized, Writing Contests

Writing Contests and Learning Moments

Mermaid Princess

It was a nice surprise to be among the winners of 8Letters’ Summer Dreams Writing Contest. And exciting too, because my story, The Mermaid Princess, will be included in an Anthology that will be launched at the biggest book festival of the Philippines, the Manila International Book Fair. This year, the MIBF will be held on September 12-16, 2018 at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia Complex.

fullsizeoutput_522As a writer, I must say that joining writing contests are not all about winning prizes or accolades, or getting a chance to be published. For me, it’s also about (1) flexing your writing muscles, (2) honing your craft, and (3) gaining self-discipline.

Here’s how:

Flexing your writing muscles, because, you get to write–duh! ☺️ In joining a writing contest, you get into mandatory plotting, writing, editing a story. Beats doing nothing, or just letting yourself dream of writing. You write because you have to, with the deadline and all. But you get to write, and that’s the idea. Consider writing contests as writing exercises.

Honing your craft. This is where healthy competition becomes a stimulus to a writer. You are pitting against other writers who may or may not be more well-read, experienced, or eloquent than you. You may be clueless about the required genre or sub-genre. So what do you do? You read and research more, ask around, seek advice, and write to the best of your ability. You work hard to improve and perfect your skills to be able to produce the highest quality work you can come up with. Ergo, you become a more learned writer than you were before.

Gaining self-discipline because you have to stick to the required prompt and word count–not to mention beat the deadline. Sometimes you have to chop (delete) words, sometimes you have to wring your brains out to come up with additional words. At times you’d look at the calendar and count the hours and minutes until deadline. You’ll feel adrenaline kicking at you like a horse’s hooves. Your heart may gallop in excitement or dread, but it’s okay as long as you don’t get a nervous breakdown or a heart attack. But in the process, you gain discipline over yourself. You tame yourself to adapt to the contest rules.

In a nutshell, writing contests should be regarded as a writer’s learning or teachable moment. It’s not so much as the reward in winning one, although it’s a fantastic and humbling bonus, of course. But it’s the journey that makes it so fulfilling and gratifying, and you find yourself learning more, doing more, improving more–and finishing a story.

In other words, the writer evolves. 🦋
Articles, Uncategorized

One Word at a Time

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When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.’ ~ Stephen King

The King has spoken and it is true.

Long ago, I discovered this myself by accident. For days I wanted to write another chapter in a particular story of mine, spinning words and phrases and scenarios in my head. . . and I still didn’t feel it was even close to acceptable.

But when I started to tap on the keys of my iPad, the words flowed out from nowhere, creating a conflict here, murmuring dialogues there and making a fight scene in the middle of it all.

That’s when I believed The King.

Some writers out there make an outline before writing their craft, and I admire these creative people! I’ve always told myself I will. There were times I did, but in my actual writing, I find that I didn’t usually follow it, rendering it useless. So I gave up on making outlines and just write–for a time.

These days, though, I prefer to combine an assortment of methods that I learned from the writing workshops I joined, and from numerous articles on plotting novels. One of these which I find very useful is from Evernote’s blog, entitled, 12 Creative Writing Templates for Planning Your Novel.

I say a combination of methods because I realized not only one method works at any specific time or story. So, there is a time I would create a blurb first, then proceed to write down scenes or chapters until the end–or not. At times I would jot down dialogues and form them into a chapter, and thus, create a working outline. Or divide my story into three acts and put down “headlights” on each.

Almost always, I “brew” a full story in my head, that is, stories with a beginning and an ending. I may lack directional outlines, but I have plots in my head. Some already have characters, dialogues, conflicts; some do not. I let them braise and ferment inside my mind until I visualize the ending, jotting down dialogues and scenes as I envision them, like in a movie. I take down notes, scribble reminders to myself about a particular story. Stories without satisfactory endings yet but with starting dialogues, scenes and sometimes a blurb, I write in notebooks and tag them as WIP.  Then, whenever I have a stroke of inspiration, or a “eureka” moment, I go back to them, either adding up scenes or coming up with a good enough ending.

What I’m saying is, I’m neither a plotter (plans out novel before writing) nor a pantser (flies by seat of pants, or never plans or plans very little before writing). I’m both, and I’m neither, depending on the story I have in mind, and many other things, like the inclination to write, the timing of writing, and outside factors like adulting. (I’m not a very good model to follow, so don’t. Haha)

But one thing’s for sure: once I sit down and write (tap) on, the characters, the conflict, the twists come alive–outline or no outline.

Because I get what Stephen King said. You cannot write a story in and with your mind alone. You have to move: pick up a pen, grasp a keyboard, and write/tap on. You have to make the effort to put in a word, then another, and another, until you’ve got yourself a chapter, and chapters, until, voila!, you reach the end of the novel.

Unless, of course, the dreaded writer’s block looms its ugly head from time to time. But that’s for another article. 🦋