One chapter a day

At my desk

A couple of days ago I decided to write one chapter a day. Let me be clear that in the almost two years that I have been working on my manuscript I have never written one whole chapter in an entire day. Really! I’ve taken some time in between writing sometimes mid-chapter to think things through. Like really think things through. This usually includes research on craft like how to plant foreshadowing clues, how to avoid run-on sentences (yes, I admit run-ons happen among other grammar things), working on character arcs, what type of flowers grow in cold weather, you know things like that. I also look through my notes, make more notes, do writing exercises and read.

Even though I step away I’ve always come back with a solution for whatever conflict I was trying to solve. Yet sometimes I step away because I want to make more sense of the characters motives and how that’s going to play out throughout this book and possibly others. Gotta think ahead. The longest I have been on chapter hiatus has probably been a month. A good four weeks lets me breathe and mull things over, kind of chill and come back refreshed.

So since I don’t have a deadline I’ve been quite comfortable letting the story breathe and percolate as it pleases. But I really want to push through and work strategically and realistically. Someday I will have a deadline that won’t just be my own. So I proposed sometime last week that if I wrote/edited/revised a chapter a day I would be done in a matter of days with my current draft. Note that I am doing a combination of these or just one for a specific chapter. Has it worked? Yes, it has. I worked on and completed four chapters, of course, there’s life that happens and holidays and such. During the long Labor Day weekend, I focused on organizing the following chapters by rough outlining them. It took two days to do that and then I sort of rested on Monday. Since I took some time to get organized I’m not wondering what to work on on the day of, I just start working on what I’ve already set up for myself.

How do you get organized with your writing? I’m interested to know what works for you!

Review: KIN

KIN -Movie poster

Here’s why you have to go watch KIN this weekend. First, let me start by saying that this is not your typical film and that’s a good thing. The title tells you pretty much what the main plot involves: family. Families come in many different ways and this movie celebrates that. It starts with Eli (Myles Truitt) a fourteen-year-old boy, who’s been having a tough time since his mom died. His ex-con brother Jimmy (Jack Reynor) returns home from prison and from there all hell breaks loose. As it would right? Only Eli has been hiding a secret, a weapon he found in an abandoned warehouse. A weapon that does not belong on Earth. The genre of this film is undefined it has young adult sci-fi vibes with tech-noir undertones. It’s dark and gritty it’s the perfect antidote for anyone in search of a palette cleanser this summer. KIN is the type of film that I am so often searching for and you’ll realize that too. It’s got great fresh talented faces and some familiar ones too. The chemistry among the cast really transcends across the screen to the audience. One of the reasons I enjoyed this film is that the story is solid about family. You have a story of a family living on this Earth and all the conflict that can entail in the forefront and then you have in the background the mysterious otherworldly weapon. The story not only focuses on what the main plot is and what you’ll discover along the way until the ending, but it also brings out the complexities of families, the dangers that exist for all of us in this world or another.

Gosh, I hope there is a sequel.

KIN is directed by twin brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker it is out Friday, August 31st

Writing Life Outside of Fiction

Hello again! It’s been a few sleeps since I’ve written a post. The last couple of weeks have gone by so fast I can’t believe September is upon us already. Since my last post I’ve taken a couple of writing classes online, read an amazing some amazing books and learned a lot about my writing. I am going all in as a writer. So I enrolled in a non-fiction class through Catapult and I have learned so much about myself, my writing and my process. Before this class, I hadn’t really written anything that was about me specifically. Never. I wrote poetry and still do but there are ways to easily disguise words and actions within the poetic boundaries. I mean you don’t want your fifth-grade crush to know you wrote about him. So this class you guys have helped me unpack and explore my own story as a person. Writing about my life has given me the opportunity to see beyond what I have experienced and reflect on it.

Writing about my experiences was hard in the beginning and still is because it’s a part of you that’s going on the page. I didn’t know where to start, did I have to start in chronological order, what if I ended up repeating myself, what if no one read what I had to say, I had all these questions. I think I was having a hard time because I hadn’t dedicated some time to think about a certain subject or event in a long time, I hadn’t talked about some of the things I wrote. But once I dedicated some time to think about my life and experiences in terms of ‘story’ such as “this happened, this is how I felt, and I think this”. Lightly connecting one thing with another hoping the reader will notice. Doing this required me to slow down a lot in order to get the event/topic down on paper just as I remembered it with detail and perspective. I’m still learning.

One of the first things I thought was how I was able to think of plot lines, dialogue and backstory for a world I created, but I couldn’t write about what’s happened to me already or my opinion on a certain topic.  A lot of it has to do with being comfortable writing about yourself and experience. I felt ready to take that step so I took the class.

Currently, I am still learning my style and my approach although I have noticed that everything I’ve written so far has been approached differently. A lot of patience has been necessary as I learn to focus on a specific topic and experience(s), memories and then carefully string them together for the piece. A personal essay requires you to give your heart to the piece to go to places that you might not have thought you wanted to go and explore once more. It’s been heartbreaking and relieving to write about my experiences about being an immigrant, a Latinx writer and living with type one diabetes.

Maybe you might not have known that about me.

Hi there nice to meet you!

 

 

 

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018

Camp-2018-Writer-Twitter-Header

It’s that time of year again. Yup, you know that one where we prepare to write 50,000 words in a month. Can you believe June is almost over? I can’t believe we are halfway through 2018 already. It’s been quite a year so far. I can’t wait until this year is over–then again I think I’ve been saying that for the past two years so…

As you guys may already be in the know every year writers from all over the world gather (online or at cafés) during the month of November to write their story. However, during the year there are two prep opportunities to get those creative ideas flowing.

There are writing camps in April and July that are built to prepare you for November. These two usually catch people by surprise. For some reason, I always miss the one in April. Don’t worry though if you can’t join in April or July it’s okay you can still join in come November.

What do you need to do?

Head on over to Camp NaNo website. Keep in mind that if you already have a NaNoWriMo login you can use it to log into the camp. Fill in your bio info, let people know a little about yourself and your project. Up next, create your project by giving it a title or if you don’t have a title yet a nickname and a genre. Here’s the interesting part that is my FAVORITE part of the camp. You can join a cabin! You can choose to be sorted (think sorting hat) into a public cabin with others. I did this last year and it was a blast. You can also create a cabin and have others join. If there’s already a cabin that you know about that you’d like to join you can do that too by requesting an invite. Now if you’d rather work steadily on your own, there is that option as well, I did this back in 2016.

How do you find existing cabins? Get on Twitter and ask the writing community. Join a writing group in your local area. Make a Facebook/Instagram announcement. Basically, let others know about it and who knows you might end up with a full cabin.

Ten days to go! Get ready!

When a scene isn’t working

sunrise

What do you do when a scene isn’t working? Why you delete it of course. And start over. Not ready to delete it? Think you can salvage it? But ‘I’m so close’ to fixing it. Nope. Delete it. If you don’t it will drag you down.

But if you feel so inclined you can remove it from your manuscript and place in a folder just in case you might want to look at it later.

You might remember my woes about act two/ entering the middle of the novel as being hard because I had a big mess of shh–things that needed to be addressed and sorted. While this was my particular situation, a lot of writers are in this position when entering the middle. I knew several things going into this self-directed revision and one of them was too much info/unnecessary scenes that slowed down the action. How did I come to that conclusion you might ask? Well, I had 40,000 extra words and a lot of things happening that would make the novel longer. A lot of those things were not really doing anything. Now, I know there are long books out there, but I’m trying to find an agent in due time so cutting the necessary 40,000 words maybe more is a must. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I read up on how to revise and while I am still learning I thought I would share what has helped me.

Here we go.

Recognizing that you have certain types of issues is the first step though. You won’t be able to fix anything or do anything to make your story better if you’re not willing to admit that there is something wrong with it from the beginning and along the way. I believe there’s always a way to make the story better.

Okay, so now that you’ve recognized that there are issues that need to be addressed you must make a list of points you’d like to make, places you’d like to focus, characters you’d like to rework in the story in order to make the rewrite tighter. I am still working on this and hope to get a better understanding once I’m through this draft.

Here’s what happened in my case: I was able to identify that this one particular scene wasn’t working for the story because of the discovery I made while fleshing out the part before that moment. I know, it sucks I can’t give examples, but I promise I will go back and refer to this when this story is published. Just remind me in case I forget. 😉

By fleshing out a previous point in the story, the scene that I really, really thought I needed to go after it didn’t fit anymore–at least not at the capacity that I wanted it. So I removed it and any mention of it place it in my ‘deleted scenes’ folder. I went back and reread it this particular chapter for fluency and continuity. (That had been one of the issues that I spotted when I did a complete read-through of my manuscript). Rereading keeps things fresh and on your mind as you’re working through the kinks of what comes next. As a result that chapter is now finished!! Yay!

Was I attached to that scene? Yes. I really wanted to make it work. But getting rid of it was the best thing I did.

Tell me about your work in progress. What have been some approaches you’ve taken?

Writing on the hard days

storybook

It’s no lie that writing is, in fact, a lonely profession. Most of the time you’re alone writing or thinking about writing or researching something you’re going to write. You spend a lot of time inside your head, churching over information that might make it to your work in progress. You spend time shuffling other projects and life around so that you are able to write this project of yours. And then in the dark of night just before you go to sleep you start wondering what if this never happens. So now you can’t sleep and all you can think about is how much you suck. I wanted to take some time to write this post because this topic deserves to be talked about: the dark days we have as writers. It’s not about being depressed although sometimes it is, it’s not about being anxious although most of the time it is. it’s about this negative thinking that lurks in the back of your mind and shakes you whenever it can with its foulness.

I went down that dark path. For a short couple of days that seemed like forever, I almost believed it. I almost believed that I was a fraud and that I should get back to whatever it was I did before I wrote. I struggled every day with it but a part of me knew I was wrong. So this ‘rut’ as I’m going to call it plagued me over the last month. It was hard to move past, and while it was hard to write, I still wrote–that part of me not wanting to just give up and let it go pulled through. Today is the first day that I’m back with full force probably since my last post. I do think it had somewhat to do with

Today is the first day that I’m back with full force in awhile. I do think it had somewhat to do with that ACT II struggle I had back in March. Ugh. But I’ll have you know that while it was hard and I totally felt defeated. I got through it. And if you’re reading this and have felt this way, you can too. I hope to tell you guys once this book is published the story behind the ACT II revelation that made everything click.

But for now, know that you can do this.

 

 

 

Review: Lygia Day Peñaflor’s All of This Is True

allofthisistrue

 

Don’t you just want to read a book that will take you down the most unexpected path in terms of story, plot, and twists? I do. I am always looking for a book like that. Well, look no further because all of that can be found in Lygia Day Peñaflor’s All of This Is True.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of mixed media storytelling in books. In All of This Is True the plot unravels through a series of interviews, excerpts from the book the main character wrote (think book within a book), texts and emails as well. This type of storytelling is fascinating it keeps the story moving and the reader intrigued at what could possibly happen next. I could not put it down.

The story begins with four teens, Miri, Soleil, Penny and Jonah who have been majorly obsessed with a particular YA author, Fatima Ro, who seems to have the pull and charisma of a cult leader. Her debut was a hit and she is riding that wave to her next success–at any cost. Or at least it seems that way–right? I suggest you keep reading. Each teen has been keeping secrets from each other as expected, but they seem to be quite honest with Fatima Ro who is keeping them suspiciously close.

One lie after another they discover things about each other that should have remained hidden. But what happens when those lies are exposed for all to see? I thought I knew where the book was heading until I realized I was wrong. I absolutely love what Lygia has done. She takes the reader down a tunnel of so many twists and just when you think you see the truth she pulls a fast one right from under your nose. I’m one of those people that usually ‘call it’. Why, yes people still want to go to the movies with me. Regardless, I did not expect what really happened to have happened. Trippy right? You have to check it out!

All of This Is True is out now.

Review: Jessica Knoll’s The Favorite Sister

thefavoritesister

The web of lies and twists that are in this book are going to have you hooked. The story takes place as the characters are returning to their reality tv show “Goal Diggers”. As you can probably guess you cannot have reality tv without drama. I was drawn to this book because I absolutely love Jessica’s writing style and reality tv. However, even if you haven’t read her debut “Luckiest Girl Alive” (which you should) or don’t watch much reality tv, the complexity and darkness of each character will keep you turning the page. There’s intrigue, gossip, scandal, twists, an original conversation starter on today’s topics.

If you think relationships are hard. Female relationships are worse. They can be the best of the best or the worst of the worst. Even between good friends, fake friends, and sometimes friends lines can get blurred and we make mistakes. While reading this book you’ll identify some part of yourself, the frank, blasé part you barely let through to others. Frankly, I think there’s a Regina George in all of us and Jessica weaves a story that lets us into the lives of women who will do anything to get what they want.

This book involves a large cast of characters each with a very distinct voice so pay close attention.  Its pace is just right, making the reading experience nearly cinematic, moving steadily as the action rises. Also, I recommend trying to get into the frame of mind of how a reality tv show is presented for tv. For example, you have the story play out then you get the character’s perspective and then you get commentary responses from others. I really enjoyed this book, it’s scandalous and out for revenge. It is a must read!!

Crossing the threshold into Act II

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You might remember that a couple months ago–more like a little over a year ago I was writing chapter 10. I was also having a difficult time writing chapter 10 because my inciting incident happened in that chapter. You can check out that post here.

Now, I know it’s a bit much to have inciting incident happen at chapter 10 because it usually appears to happen in other works much earlier at least by two chapters. That was draft one. After going through the whole manuscript, reshaping the outline, I again ended up with lucky chapter 10 as the one to carry in the event. I have a feeling that might change in other drafts and I am prepared, it’s okay for now. So, once again I am trying to shape it so it makes a flow-y transition into ACT II.

Seriously what is it about going over to ACT II that makes us a little anxious? I’ve heard from other writers that going into ACT II can be challenging and often more work is put into the story for the purpose of this part of the story alone. Generally Act II is the bulk of the story, events happen that will test the hero, conflicts occur, etc. I mean it’s a pretty big chunk of stuff that happens in ACT II often called the ‘wonky middle’ during drafting. I’m trying so hard to avoid that ‘wonky middle’ in further drafts so starting strong and staying strong is my goal.

How can we make a smooth transition from ACT I into ACT II?

Here’s what I’ve found that has so far worked for me.

I broke the story apart, beat by beat, scene by scene. Which come to think of it that’s probably why I’m still revising. Anyways, be prepared to spend a good chunk of time doing this. Doing this requires you to look at the structure of what you have AND where it’s placed in the story. It helps spot things like characters doing things that don’t make sense and redundancy. Below is just a bare bones explanation.

ACT I should consist of a few obvious things like:

  • Introducing your main character, as well as other characters
  • Intro to the world and setting
  • A ‘call to adventure’ or a disturbance that interrupts the hero’s world ie. inciting incident
  • Hero ‘crosses the threshold’

Easy peasy right? Ugh.

The so called disturbance refers to where the hero/heroine will stay unless something forces them to change.

ACT II should then contain

  • The journey that results from the hero/heroine’s call to action

And really, that includes all the things: conflict (internal and external), battles, heroic acts, love interests, hero/heroine darkest moments, confrontations, info about what’s to come, consequences–(every action requires consequences).

You can see ACT II is quite where it’s at.

ACT III should contain

  • Final battle is fought
  • Resolution

So what you need to do is have a clear answer to what are the conflicts in the story (internal and external) for at least the main character. Identify the issues that will build up the stakes in the story. That is what helped me get through ACT II. Make sure that you organize how you’re working off from each draft–you don’t want to end up with two of the same chapters each one containing different things. I know, this happened to me and boy I was glad I had notes to go back to and differentiate one from the other.

Breathe. Work chapter by chapter, break it apart until you reach an understanding of your story. Don’t assume, make it clear until you reach the end.

How do you get through into the second act?

-Rosario

Review: Gemini

Gemini-movieposter

This is the reason why you need to go watch Gemini this week/weekend!

From the moment the movie begins you get the feeling that you are indeed in the beachy parts of Los Angeles that hide in plain sight. The palm trees and purple chrome tinge in the film give us a clue that not all is what it seems in a town that reports 24/7 on the ongoings of most of its citizens. The first scene is perfect taking it’s audience into the world of celebrity that we don’t get to see, but only read about in the tabloids or on TMZ. We meet Heather (Zoë Kravitz), an actress and Jill (Lola Kirke), her assistant. From the get-go it is understood that they have been working together for quite some time, with Jill often covering for Heather, who is wanting a change of pace and wants to just chill for awhile. There’s nothing wrong with a rather busy person wanting to take some time off from work from time to time. Heather refuses to carry on with her commitments so you can imagine the response from the people involved–they hate her–they threaten her. Heather’s just a movie star that has fallen victim of her profession, she wants the simpler things in life–friendship, close relationships, people she can trust. At some point you feel sorry for her for what she possibly has had to endure to get to where she is–fed up with her life being so public. Zoe Kravitz performance is a testament to what is not said but shown. She nails her characters likability with other characters–and communicates the other side of that to the audience.

The writing is where it’s at with Gemini. Aaron Katz who wrote and directed gives the audience exactly what they need to know for this thriller. Every scene has a purpose, the transitions between each are direct, the score pulls you into these characters lives and resonates an eerie kind of loneliness that springs from the screen. As does the choice of film and color which complement the story very well. Every turning point brings you closer to the truth. So pay attention. Lola Kirke’s performance is captivating as her character Jill is left to make sense of Heather’s mysterious murder. You have to listen and take cue again, to what is and isn’t said to get that Jill may have something to hide–from her past. That’s one of the reasons why this movie is so precisely written, you have a great balance of backstory that’s sprinkled throughout the movie that gives off this sticky feeling of fresh and dreamy mystery that plays with what you may have gathered to be true. The only thing I can say is that there were not enough John Cho scenes. However, he too nails the push-hard, play -hard detective role to a tee. Leaves you wondering whether he’s got a motive of his own.

As the end approaches we’re left indeed with a lingering feeling of uneasiness that borders both on having found the answer to having barely touched the surface to a murder that may not be what it seems. This I think was intentional on Katz part. Perhaps the answer we got wasn’t to the right question or person.

Gemini is out in theaters now.