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, 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.

38135191_10156502134956649_5731352604873588736_n

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, Uncategorized, Writing Workshops

8Letters’ Indie Publishing The Write Way Online Workshop

C1161D29-28F0-48DD-8881-A86416FD1192About the same time as the #romanceclassYA workshop, I also joined Indie Publishing The Write Way. It is an online workshop by 8Letters , an amazing boutique bookstore which curates books written by Filipino authors and sells them in cafes and events, headed by Cindy dela Cruz.

I know what you must be thinking. Why join two workshops at the same time? But you see, there is no competition with these two. In fact, they complement each other. While #romanceclassYA pushed me to write a novella of 35,555 words in less than three months, 8Letters’ Indie Publishing The Write Way infused me with so much knowledge, information and motivation to self-publish.

I learned many things in 8Letters’ workshop. I learned how to make a better blurb for my novels. Blurb-making has always been hard for me but 8Letters showed me a much easier, detailed way to do it. (I’m still not that impressed about my own blurbs, but at least I’m working on it, having a pattern in mind.) 8Letters also gave ideas of useful templates in connection with publishing, which was what a pantser like me badly needed, providing me with a concise, professional schedule of what should be done in a matter of months.

This workshop, above all, made me feel inspired and motivated to continue self-publishing my stories. 8Letters’ cheery perk-me-up messages and follow-ups, even my fellow classmate’s motivational quotes and thumbs-ups never failed to arouse feelings of renewed self-worth and self-confidence in me, especially in days I needed them the most. It was so great being in the company of people who share and understand your dreams and insecurities, who do not judge but cheer you on as you grope your way into learning things, and who are happy for your achievements, wishing only more better things for you as a writer and an indie author.

All in all, I am extremely satisfied I joined this workshop. I not only acquired the wisdom and skills I needed to self-publish. I also gained a friend or two. And that, I think, is what made 8Letters’ Indie Publishing The Write Way workshop more rewarding.

Want to know more about 8Letters? Sign up for their newsletter HERE. You will not regret it.

Articles, Writing Workshops

Writing for #romanceclassYA

43ced2ea8f39c20f32cf6bb825f6edf7--fantasy-princess-royal-princessI wrote a novella of 35,555 words in 90 days. Repeat 100 times. 

Until now I find it hard to believe it myself. But thanks to #romanceclass YA mentors Mina Esguerra, Agay Llanera and Ines B. Yao, I was able to write and finish a novella in just three months!

I’ve always been more of a pantser than a plotter.  True, every story I have in mind has a beginning and an end already. But it really makes a difference to have a working outline put down into writing. It’s like setting yourself a map towards your destination (a finished book), instead of groping in the dark, or losing sight of your goal. Even though you end up taking different roads in your journey than the ones you first envisioned (characters do go Rambo, insisting on their own version of the story), what’s important is you arrive at your destination.

But a map is useless if you just look at it. You have to take that first step on that rocky road and continue walking, despite difficulties and stumbling blocks. There were times I suffered from writer’s block, when a scene did not seem to advance in my mind. This is where having a deadline can be a motivator. One time I got up at 2:30 in the morning and finished Act 2 in three hours, because deadline for that was just six hours away! Reading other books also helped. Listening to music, in my case, classical music, boosts up my imagination and gives me a clear perspective to where my story was going. I binged on movies too. What’s important is to not wallow in the lull in your brain and  break away from it by finding creative ideas everywhere.

In the end, it was all worth it when you get to type THE END.

I am so grateful for the discipline and motivation which #romanceclassYA taught me. My #romanceclassYA classmates’ posts also boosted me up. Now I am more inspired than ever to write more books and be a better writer.

My novella is tentatively titled, “And The Crown Goes To…” It’s about a high school beauty queen and the most popular guy in her school. Those who love Miss Congeniality and Pretty Little Liars will surely love this too!

Here’s the blurb of my #romanceclassYA (now #romanceclassFlicker as per Mina’s latest good news) novella:

“Beauty pageants are overrated, frivolous, and a total waste of time and money.”

Sophia Montano’s careless, cynical remark earned her teacher/former beauty queen’s ire and became the catalyst which sparked a new, unique concept of beauty contest in their school. Of course, Sophia herself was a contestant. She had to, or she will not graduate in high school.

The school pageant required the anti-social, introvert senior to work side by side with Mike Roman, the most popular guy in school, along with several students, in a community service project involving cancer-stricken children. Slowly, unexpectedly, she rediscovered herself and learned some valuable lessons on people, friendship, life, and love.

But Sophia has a well-kept, terrible secret which was in danger of being exposed to the whole school by the one person that knew about it—unless she backs out of the pageant. Torn between the need to save herself and the welfare of the children she has grown fond of, she has to make a stand: Will she be brave enough to right the wrong she committed, at the risk of losing the crown, and worse, the man she loves?