March 2017 RECAP #MonthlyRecap

I missed doing my March 2017 recap. To be honest, it feels so long ago now that I can’t even remember the stuff I wrote about. My revisiting the posts now will take me back, definitely. From what I know, I was really hyped up for the then-upcoming A to Z Challenge. I hardly really checked out Facebook even.

Here’s a recap of my March 2017:

Blog-wise:

(1) Hash potatoes!!!

#MondayMemoirs (none)

#MondayReviews (none)

#TuesdayTunes (see Wishes and Songs Part 1)

#TVTuesday (none)

#AskWednesday (see “As writers, have you ever had ideas only to find out later that others beat you to them? What were they?”)

#WhatsupWednesday (see The Guy Google)

#ThursdayTips (none)

#FeatureFriday (see The BRF and New Society with its New Technologies)

#FridayFlashdance (none)

#AnythingDay (see JAMIE PART 4: DEAR JAMIEThe A-to-Z Challenge theme Reveal 2017 and JAMIE PART 5: JAMIE AND THE GOSSIP BOYS)  –  Any day could be about anything.

Judging from my results, I was semi-active, which was better than hardly active or, worse, inactive. I was gearing up for April anyway.

(3) My Trending Stories. I still put it off because of certain hindrances, but I decided to finally restart it sometime in May (which is NOW).

(4) A to Z ChallengeWait till I’m done.

Social Media Reach-out:

 

I’m getting followers slowly but steadily, at least. I don’t really expect to get many, I’m just surprised there are those who decide to FOLLOW me on Facebook (even Twitter, which still confuses me at times) when they don’t really know me personally. It’s so nice to get followers who think that what I post are interesting enough.

A few months back, I started sending thank-you messages to FB followers. Unfortunately, it could be so time-consuming that I had to stop. What I normally do when I have the time is to visit bloggers who decide to follow my blog. I get email notifications everytime, so I just filter to see followers and go from there.

I’ve been somehow more active than I’ve ever been on Twitter (just a tad more). And, oh, I should give special shout-outs to both Annette (@YouAreTheExpert) and Debbie (@DebbieDogLady). Whenever I post anything here, it gets posted on their Twitter pages. That’s free promotion for me through RSS Feed-ing. Thank you, ladies 🙂

Fiction/Story- and Poetry-writing:

Restarted being a bit more active. See, I posted two Jamie Tales shorts (see #AnythingDay).

Literature:

No book-reading happened whatsoever. I am so ashamed.

Personal:

  • I have become a Wish 107.5 FM fanatic, ergo, my #TuesdayTunes post. It honestly helped me overcome a sort of tough time then. Music is great therapy.
  • I have become an active Quora adviser, but I am very curious why 98% of questions I am asked has to do with handling relationships. I suddenly feel like a relationship guru. But I suppose, the key is to put myself in their shoes.
  • I declared self-imposed hiatus on Facebook and was away for more than two weeks, I think. It was due to a mix of avoiding things/people that make me feel a bit depressed and trying to write more.

 

Your thoughts? 😉

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The Truth in Your Make-believe #atozchallenge2017

Many people, I believe, think that writing fiction is all about the imagination. After all, you cannot write a fictional story without making up something that did not really happen. That’s creative writing, So they’re right, right?

NOT SO MUCH. The fact about creating fiction is you add truth to the make-believe.

Sure, imagination is the major tool to use, but even make-believe needs to be somewhat, well, believable. Say you are working on a science fiction story. Do you simply say the aliens have arrived and then every person or thing on earth starts to float or elevate and you just leave it at that? I think not.

“The world of your story must have its own internal logic, rules and constraints.” (Writers & Artists)

You do not simply assume that readers will assume for themselves that the loss of gravitational pull is mainly due to the alien invasion. Maybe some won’t mind, those who are in it for the sole entertainment. But there are the thinking audience/readers who would mind, whom you could lose as readers because of that. There has to be some kind of scientific way to explain how the aliens do it somehow.

Since we’re on the subject of aliens, anyway, I am reminded of a movie I saw a long time ago, and which book version I got to own and read. It’s called Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear.

In it is an alien nicknamed Jerry, who we naturally assume as male based on appearance, voice (in the film), and how the Narrator begins telling the story. Then the earthling (Narrator) Willis Davidge gets a shocking surprise when Jerry announces he/she/it is pregnant. The alien soon gives birth.

Now the writer may have known about asexual reproduction from way back gradeschool, but if he hadn’t, then research certainly helped him use the concept and make the scenario logical enough. If he just left it to readers/viewers to figure out the gender of the alien–and whether hanky-panky between two inter-galactic species was involved–then the readers would most probably be lost. And the writer would have probably lost his patrons.

“Research is the elixir that reinvigorates your storyline, opens your chapters, and liberates you when you’ve written yourself into a suffocating closet. It makes you an expert in things you know diddley about, and elevates you from a wannabee to an author.” (Writers Write)

Ever wondered how Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park would have fared if he hadn’t done research to somehow make readers take into consideration the possibility of dinosaurs in the modern world?

It’s good to make your readers think. However, if it involves neglect on your part to provide more details, that’s where you’re doing it wrong. And we are not talking about sci-fi alone.

Historical fiction definitely requires research that maybe incorporated in your story to make it seem more credible and plausible. You cannot write about the early ’40s without mentioning anything about WWII, no matter how brief. Certainly, you cannot write about WWII itself based on assumptions or hearsay only. You need to add a few hard facts.

Detective stories nowadays seem more interesting when writers include what happens in a crime lab, for instance, or how certain test results lead to solving the mystery. Your detective cannot send the skull of a Jane/John Doe’s severed head to the lab and then have him say later, “Oh, s/he’s been identified as this person or that” without explaining how it is possible through examining dental records. Not all readers may get it.

Meanwhile, well-researched information can help explain how the past can lead someone down the psycho-killer path in suspense-thrillers. Even in fantasy, this could come in handy. If you want to write about creatures in the area where your setting is, research won’t hurt unless you are creating a whole new fictional beast.

All I’m saying is, while there is no limit to the imagination, research can help fuel that imagination and make readers believe you or, at least, your capability as a writer.

“Research, factual accuracy, lays the base for plausible fiction, for it actually enables suspension of disbelief in readers by building their trust.” (The Center for Fiction)

I am not talking about bombarding them with facts after facts to the point of information overload. I’m not talking about spoon-feeding your readers, either. They, too, need to make use of their own imagination. In fact, the main reason people read fiction is it allows them to use this often-neglected ability to imagine in the real world.

The main role of the writer is to tell the story and guide the reader.

“Thorough research instills in the writer enough knowledge to give her real confidence in her material—the kind of confidence that releases her from a need to show off or twist her plots, and frees her to finally sit down and write.” (The Center for Fiction)

 

Do not underestimate the power of research. Consider this advice the next time you write your fiction.

 

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What is your opinion on this? Does research matter? Let’s talk!

R is for “Research”

This piece serves as my Letter R post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

I am creating a page for my A to Z Challenge 2017 posts. Wait for it 😉

February 2017 RECAP #MonthlyRecap

After my January recap, I don’t know what to say of my February either. I think it flew by so fast!

Here’s a recap of my Febuary 2017:

Blog-wise:

(1) Hash potatoes!!!

#MondayMemoirs (see Effanineffable 1: The Brain and The Unofficial Translation)

#MondayReviews (none)

#TuesdayTunes (none)

#TVTuesday (see Love in the Time of Forensics)

#AskWednesday (see “What was the strangest thing you found cleaning out your parents’ house after they died?”)

#WhatsupWednesday (none)

#ThursdayTips (see Advice for the Supposed Lovelorn)

#FeatureFriday (none)

#FridayFlashdance (none)

#AnythingDay (see JAMIE PART 3: CAUGHT IN NEW YORK CITY)  –  Any day could be about anything.

“I do need to come up with an actual system when it comes to handling blog-related emails, blog visits, and social media accounts, and actually WRITING.” That’s what I said the last time. It still holds true.

I’ve realized I’m not a lazy writer. It’s really all these ideas swimming in my head and all these real-life distractions. Very recently, one writer on Quora said in nicer terms that people who say they have writer’s block are just plain lazy. I agree that writers need to keep writing, but as some other writers explained, sometimes you need a breather or to do other things to get more ideas and be more inspired.

(3) My Trending Stories. I’ve started re-orienting my self a teeny bit. Will see if I can start posting soon.

(4) A to Z Challenge. Decided on Plan D. Yes, that’s how many times I changed my mind. I’m starting with the letters.

Social Media Reach-out:

More bloggers to share, yay!!! If you’re not here, chances are, I’ve already mentioned you in past recaps. But if I haven’t mentioned you yet, nothing personal, okay? Will get to you. This is a mix of regular followers, new followers, and bloggers I follow though they don’t follow me, WordPress or not. I tell you, the way I do things sometimes…

I’m not exactly following a system here. It’s all random. I want to give opportunity to everyone so I mix them all up. Here are my awesome online friends, would-be friends, some wish-I-were-friends-with-but-I follow-them-anyway peeps, and actual peeps that I know, in alphabetical order:

 Alli,      Carl,    Colleen,    Joseph,    Kendall,    Lora,    Liberty,    Needull,    Phil,    SWO8

More bloggers to come.

Fiction/Story- and Poetry-writing:

Restarted being a bit more active. But until I get a proper laptop again,…

Literature:

Aw, c’mon folks! Still a tie! Really??? Well, these were the results:

No automatic alt text available.

While waiting for the results, I came to read a supposed novel online that I just happened to find. Thought I’d give it a chance. Ugh. One of those romance novels where all the men are supposed to be buffed and forever virile and it’s supposed to be okay that they treat women like trash. I’m not making this up or just stereotyping! You’ll have to read to believe it. To make the long story short, I stopped reading. They’re not exactly protagonists I’d grow to like. There was not much plot to speak of.

Anyway, I’m putting off my decision on what to do with the poll and I’m actually going to pick up an actual novel I can hold. Or at least read a couple of free ebooks I’ve downloaded.

Personal:

I have:

  • become an addict to  The Walking Dead. I’ve been mentioning it here a lot and reading stuff about it.
  • become a Quora-person because I love to share my thoughts, give advice and getting information from other writers.
  • been dealing with various things, my brain wants to explode…

 

Your thoughts? 😉

“As writers, have you ever had ideas only to find out later that others beat you to them? What were they?” #AskWednesday

Well, despite me saying last week that I wasn’t planning on joining Quora, I went ahead and actually started answering and answering questions! And I decided to join because I realized what it could do for my blogging, for #AskWednesday, for instance. It’s easier to interview this way. You will usually get immediate feedback.

So I posted my first and so-far-only question:

“As writers, have you ever had ideas only to find out later that others beat you to them? What were they?”

I kind of knew there would be yes answers, but I thought it would be interesting to find out writers’ personal experiences. Well, so far, I’ve only had several replies (I’m popular like that), from four published authors, but they are good answers. 

First, we have Jesse Frankel a.k.a. J.S. Frankel, a Young Adult Fantasy writer. His works include Twisted, Star Maps, Picture (Im)perfect, The Catnip series, and The Nightmare Crew trilogy.

quoraq1Mr. Frankel went on to enumerate his novels and describe what they are about, to emphasize his point (click on the image to read them). I am admittedly an adult who enjoys YA literature, so I think these are quite interesting, based on the backgrounds he gave.

Lastly, he said, “Now, are any of those ideas new or revolutionary? Nope, it’s the way you write about the characters and the situations that makes them special.”

To this, I agree. No one has complete intellectual rights over an idea unless it is very unique, which is, as implied, very rare. And until you’ve had it recorded in audio or print or some other way, you’ll have nothing to prove it’s yours.

Next is a short but sweet answer from Crissy Moss, author of Witch’s Sacrifice, Small Bites, and many novels and short stories.

quoraq1b

I realized that’s true. I mean I’ve known it before, but this really emphasizes it. I told her, “Yes, you’re right! Even before Shakespeare ever thought of R&J, folk lores were already rich in many love stories resembling R&J’s. So in that respect, even William’s story isn’t so unique…”

Elaine Calloway follows. She is the best-selling author of the Southern Ghosts series. I’m posting her whole reply.

quoraq1c

Good insight about being aware that you’re idea is not unique. And I think that’s the challenge, to still make it your own by adding in your own unique treatment and twists. She also mentioned about writing prompts, which a lot of blogger-writers are all too familiar with. Her example sure is interesting. And I love what she said at the end!

Note to Self: Read on those 7 plots…

Now, I saved this for last. I really love her specific answer! Classic!

Deborah Ross a.k.a Deborah Wheeler wrote the sci-fi novels Jadium and Northlight, various short stories, the Sword & Sorceress and Darkover anthologies, The Seven-Petaled Shield, and many others. I’m posting the complete answer as well.quoraq1dMy reply: “Your account about someone having a very similar story is quite interesting. I mean, who would think anyone else would have a similar idea about a mother-daughter-octopi relationship??? I can imagine that you probably felt like a pale of icy-cold water hit you when you heard the editor. I do hope he didn’t think you stole somebody else’s idea…”

I certainly would hate it if anyone accuses me of stealing ideas! I do love the last bit that she said. I guess that’s really the mature way to handle it.

 

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So, did you like this one? Many more to come! And how about you, fellow-writers, can you share some information from your own experiences?

January 2017 RECAP #MonthlyRecap

Don’t know what to make of my first month of blogging in 2017, but here is the recap. I think I did okay enough. I chilled, but I never forgot to post at least once a week. Give me a new laptop and unlimited access to the Internet and you can bet I can do this more regularly. So until then….

Here’s a recap of my January 2017:

Blog-wise:

(1) Hash potatoes!!!

#MondayMemoirs – (see GASP! I Cook?!!!)

#MondayReviews (none)

#TuesdayTunes (none)

#TVTuesday (see “I am Wonder Woman”) – New hash potato, yay!!! I surprised you with this new hash; surprised myself, too.

#AskWednesday (see (Not My) Interview with Neil Gaiman and Oh, My 2016! (Not My) Interview with Myself) – Still waiting for my friend’s answers to my questions, but I’ve got a lineup and it now includes an event organizer/host.

#WhatsupWednesday (see Best of the Best Philippine Comic Books)

#ThursdayTips (see 5 Ways to Make Use of Google AdWords)

#FeatureFriday (none) – I am honestly annoyed with myself because I don’t have anything for this, GRRR!!!

#FridayFlashdance ( see Bleedin’ Love & Single Ladies)  – As mentioned some months ago, I was going to allot a day featuring dance, so here it is, the first one 🙂

#AnythingDay (see HAPPY 2017!!!!!, Sorry, Augie…, and The A to Z Challenge Announcement)  –  Any day could be about anything. The first one was my first-ever actual video where I spoke directly to the camera just to greet you all a “HAPPY 2017!!!!!” It was a happy post. Unfortunately, what followed was my post saying sorry to our dog, Augie (+RIP)…I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling sorry…The third’s about, well, it’s kind of self-explanatory already, don’t you think?

Considering how many blues I’m seeing above, I think I should be happy as I had been enough of an active blogger. The stats go up and down, but I’m not beating myself up over it as this blog is not a business. I do need to come up with an actual system when it comes to handling blog-related emails, blog visits, and social media accounts, and actually WRITING. If I had all day, I could do all really well. But I don’t.

(3) My Trending Stories. Nothing much to share for now. I mentioned in my imagined self-interview that I’m trying to find my mojo again. That is totally true. I am re-orienting myself again with writing on paper. I restart this month.

(4) A to Z Challenge. I thought of a theme already and have planned out what/who to feature for each letter. But until I am sure I can deliver, I am not revealing anything or giving any clues. And as Plan B, I am also actually listing down ideas for another theme. Aren’t I so focused? ~L~”

Social Media Reach-out:

More bloggers to share, yay!!! If you’re not here, chances are, I’ve already mentioned you in past recaps. But if I haven’t mentioned you yet, nothing personal, okay? Will get to you. This is a mix of regular followers, new followers, and bloggers I follow though they don’t follow me, WordPress or not. I tell you, the way I do things sometimes…

I’m not exactly following a system here. It’s all random. I want to give opportunity to everyone so I mix them all up. Here are my awesome online friends, would-be friends and some wish-I-were-friends-with-but-I follow-them-anyway peeps, in alphabetical order:

 Alice,     Annette,     Anamika,     Basil,     Dee,     Gerry,     John,     Lesley,     Sally,     Sarah

More bloggers to come.

Fiction/Story- and Poetry-writing:

We’ll see what happens.

Literature:

I shared a poll last time, unfortunately, it’s still a tie. Please break the tie and kindly take the poll. Whatever the result after this, I will follow. Cast your vote for me?

Personal:

I said it last time and I’ll say it again: We really wish to have a much better year this year. Had to repeat it because so far, we’ve had two to three negatives to count. We hope for more of the positives this time.

Once Upon a Time, there lived…

I am done talking about The Walking Dead here, but that’s mainly because I now have a hash potato to take care of that,  he he. Meanwhile, again, can you recommend any good series? It doesn’t require a poll, just your contribution in the comments section below. I read somewhere that Once Upon a Time is good. And one blogger I follow actually posts updates on it.

Your thoughts? 😉

(Not My) Interview with Neil Gaiman #AskWednesday

I wanted to post something on Monday. Didn’t happen. I decided to post on Tuesday. Didn’t happen, too. So now, I’m making THIS happen!

When I started #AskWednesday, I did say that aside from doing interviews myself, I also was going to share interesting interviews from the Net. And here it is!!! This interview with THE Neil Gaiman is too good to pass up.  I admit, I have yet to know more about him and read more of his stuff, but you know of one’s brilliance by how his followers adore him. In fact, I intend to know more. Research, research, research!

It isn’t really an interview, but the contributor collected Q&A exchanges from him and fans from his Tumblr account. This could be could for #ThursdayTips, too, but I’m so into posting mode!

As writers, I think all can learn a thing or two from him. I think I even learned more.

Neil Gaiman Shares Writing Advice To Fans On Tumblr

neil-gaiman-advice

Plenty of stuff to share! Till tomorrow, my friends!

July 2016 RECAP #MonthlyRecap

Oh, July! How fast you went by! But at least, you kept me pretty busy and I hope I can keep it up. How did I fare? I think I did well enough.

serious-blogger

Blog-wise:

(1) I started my Hashes — that’s what I’m calling my hashtagged posts (e.g. #TuesdayTips, #FeatureFriday). These kept my blog busy. Not sure if they work to my advantage in terms of actual readership, but they give me more focus. July was trial-and-error month, though, so I’ll be trying a more workable scheme.

For August, I’ve started trying to see what works best, what combo days, etc. The stats page does tell my current best days and best times, but since I’m not a business anyway, I am not going to sweat on those. It’s not really just about what brings in the visitors, but about how I can work on my posts efficiently and regularly. If anything, I maybe adding one or two more hashes.

BTW, this post replaces #MondayMemoirs for now.

cherished-blog-fest(2) I joined and finished a challenge! It was the Cherished Blog Festival (#CBF16, #CherishedBlogFest) that was held last July 29-31. Instead of just one post for the whole challenge, I made one for each day. I will try to join this again next year.

Through this, I met more bloggers, followed more, got more followers–win-win situation, right? However, considering what I thought of sharing as cherished “item” (FAMILY) and my own feelings at the time I created the posts, they became therapeutic for me. I do want to keep it more jolly next time.

Post titles: ‘My Family’, ‘How do I Love Thee’, ‘Inspirations’

(3) I continued “re-updating” Memoirs of a Coffee Cat. Was actively doing it first half of July, not-so-much the next. I’m not really in a hurry. This is how it’s going to run.

(4) I got interviewed about life as an “N.B.S.B.” or, at least, former. It was fun to share my story, in a sort of way. In hindsight, because I didn’t realize at the time that since I’d be sharing it to you all, who are mostly non-Filipinos, I should have stuck with an all-English interview. Most of Dr. Eamer’s blog’s Filipino readers understand English anyway. Nevertheless, you can still get a lot from what I shared.

(5) Last time, I mentioned about the Awards Gallery. Happy to report I did add the newer certification badge. Currently trying to find time to get certified for yet another online training. Meanwhile, sorry to announce I haven’t answered three blog awards still, especially one that I told my blogger-friend Christine a.k.a. C.E. I was going to answer (honestly, I began, but answering it proved to be harder than it sounds).

Social Media Reach-out:

(1) As usual, I try to say thank you to new blog followers, even post-likers. It’s just right to show my appreciation and let them know they’re not just statistics to me. I make sure to visit their blogs, say something, have a look around.

If I haven’t told you yet, I have been visiting those who have clicked on FOLLOW even many, many, many months ago, been doing that since last year. I feel ashamed for not having said my thanks before. Understandably, many of them probably felt unappreciated and did not come back, so I’m reaching out. I’ve begun doing the same thing with my Facebook page. It’s just funny when I message them and they ask “who are you?”

(2) My Facebook page, J.GiOFFICIAL, just turned one last Friday, Yaaaayyyy!!!!!

Fiction/Story-writing:

I mentioned about having created my Wattpad account. Well, after my first fiction post, my posting itself became fiction, sadly. Haven’t had the time and that should be what I have to really work hard on, having the time. Haven’t even updated parts of stories.

Again, I will try. Maybe I should integrate my writing with my hashes. Will let you know soon. Planning two other things. Not telling yet. You’ll know it once something comes out of them.

Personal:

Honestly, if I start telling you what’s been happening now and what’s been happening in the past years of my life, you’re going to get much more entertained with  my true stories rather than with my fiction. These recent weeks weren’t that kind and were particularly stressful. I just try to take things in stride, keep calm and keep the peace. Just don’t make me promise to stay like that as that will depend on other people. When you keep getting pushed to the brink, eventually, you’ll push back, right? I just try to balance things. For now.

On a less serious note, I finished Gregory Maguire‘s Son of a Witch like I said I would 😉 Currently finishing Anne Rice‘s Interview with the Vampire that I long-started and kept long-abandoned till now. Don’t ask me yet what’s next on the list.

 

Alright, August 2016, let’s get to work!!!

June 2016 RECAP #MonthlyRecap

Thought I’d do a recap thing, why not? So how was my June 2016?

busy-bloggerBlog-wise. It seems June was so far one of my most active months as a blogger. I’m even surprised at my stats lately (must be something different I did that I didn’t exactly do intentionally?). I actually have several guesses why, based on what I know about blogging, and maybe I’ll keep on doing them. Hopefully.

Anyway, I have been widgeting (fidgeting with widgets…sorry, I just love playing with words). I have also been messing with the settings so y’all who’ve been following me (bless your good souls!) would’ve noticed some things. Maybe. Aside from the change in the landing page, the other changes aren’t exactly noticeable so I’m probably just making myself believe you’ve noticed, he he. Oh, but I’m not really done yet exploring and changing stuff.

awards-and-certificationdid add a new page, the Awards Gallery. I gave in to the temptation (sorry). Just wanted/want to show how much I appreciate fellow bloggers who appreciate blogger me. Meanwhile, it’s an opportunity to also share my shiny new badges (one more to add, hopefully soon). Currently not sure how doing that is going to help me, it’s just I like them, okay? Makes me feel that I’ve achieved something worthwhile as a professional. Goodness, I haven’t studied this hard since I graduated from college, which was eons ago. Tremendous blow to my self-esteem if I didn’t pass, to be honest.

Fiction-writing.  I gave in to Wattpad. Technically, that was in late May, but that’s as good as June. I posted my story Obsession but haven’t posted anything new since then.

wattpad-logo

Joined that writing community for three major reasons:

  1. My stories might have more chance of getting read there by more people who actually like to read stories. I’m just being honest here. We’re all bloggers in WordPress, but not all have the patience to read fiction. This other “WP” is currently the It place to be if you want to be read. I’m still trying it on for size, you know?
  2. I really would like to push myself to write fiction again. I’ve been in quite a lull, it’s not even funny. I am going to develop my novel there, plus, I am going back to stories I did or started many years ago and rewrite them. Of course, I will be updating you guys.
  3. It’s…a bit personal.

After this, I’m gonna be heading over there to post something again.

Personal. Hmnnn…J.Gi has it better than Jennifer, I can tell you that. Lots of problems that never seem to stop. But we always move on, right? For now, I’d rather concentrate on that. My blog has been a bit sad these past 15 months, more or less. So I’d like to focus on the happy parts.

I got to finish another Sue Monk Kidd book, The Mermaid Chair. I’ve just started around 12 hours ago with Son of a Witch. I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be reading. Not as fast as I’d like to go, but at least, I’m going 🙂

fathers-day

Well, the highlight of June was our family’s first actual celebration of Father’s Day. The hubby works hard in his own way, but he has been feeling down a lot these past months due to “outside forces” who never seem to tire at focusing on his supposed inadequacies and not looking at another direction, such as in front of them where a mirror should be. I never tire of telling him I appreciate all that he does for the family and that things are bound to be better…

I decided to cheer him up and our little family went to the arcade for some fun and games then we gobbled on some pasta, pizza and ice cream at Pizza Hut. That was the first milestone for us, celebrating Father’s Day. The second milestone was I was finally able to have some pics developed, including our family photo, and put them on the empty frame that has been hanging on display in our living room for months! We’ve got no real albums (online ones only) yet so that’s gonna be one of my many projects. Heck, I have been at it even when my parents were still here.

 

Alright, I’m done with June 2016. Do expect more changes within July. Thanksies!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAYA [CHAPTER 3: REUNIONS, Scene 6] #atozchallenge2015

“C” is for CHAPTER and for today’s A to Z Challenge, I present the long-overdue  next scene of my story’s third CHAPTER. I will need to alter the look of the texts some other day. A few translations to follow soon.

C of A to Z

For past chapter pages, CLICK HERE

CHAPTER THREE: REUNIONS (Scene 6)

SHE was blabbering, Maya knew she was, as they settled at a table near the windows of the deli. She was well aware of this, very nervous that she even had a moment of dilemma simply deciding with whom to sit (she chose Santi who happened to be nearer). She knew, too, that they knew she was agitated. It could not be helped for their souls were too connected to hers. Whether that was an unfortunate thing or not, it was not helping at the moment.

…and I remembered you once told me to take culinary lessons so that I could be a chef since I wanted to learn, so I took your advice—well, almost, because I decided to do my own stuff and create anything I wanted, so since Santi, here, didn’t want to join their family business, I decided maybe I could be a secret business partner of the family—”

This is yours?” Gabriel addressed Santi from across the table.

Maya answered for the doctor with “I just told you, he didn’t want to be a part of the family business, so technically, it’s not really his. Mine would be a better way to put it, although,” she suddenly realized she was not supposed to talk aloud about it and whispered, “it’s a secret, really. Santi is the only one who knows and he coordinates with his lawyer for me and the lawyer coordinates with the Rivases. And when there are meetings, I need only log in to Skype for a voice chat.” She looked around the place to make sure no one had heard her careless storytelling. It was a good thing peak hours were not there yet.

Congratulations then, I’m happy for you.” He really did not sound like it. “I just wonder, if you’re not business associates,…?” The unfinished question still sounded malicious.

We’re really just friends, like she said” Santi replied coldly, matching Gabriel’s forced smile. “As I suppose you two are, correct?”

Hmnnn….” was the response coupled with a little sneer that seemed designed to annoy.

Mga loko!” she exclaimed. “You’re both not my type!”

That’s not how I remember it,” Gabriel added with a wink at her then a glance at Santi that he made sure was not missed.

Santi took the bait, saying, “Maybe that’s not how she remembers whatever it is you’re remembering.”

Is that so?” her old friend asked, now addressing her with raised brows and the sneer still pasted on his face.

Maya pretended to be unaffected. “Ay, ewan ko sa iyo! Anyway, we’re here to eat so why don’t we order? I know! I’ll order your favorite for you, Gabi—“ she caught herself, “—Gabriel. I’ll order for you the Puto Bomb! That’s my own style of puto bumbong. Isn’t that funny?”

Isn’t that supposed to be available only during the Christmas season?”

Not this one. And that’s a silly idea to get stuck with, anyway, when we can have it all-year round. Ours come with syrup that you can pour on it or dip into, if you don’t want it the regular way. We’ve got caramel, choco and honey to choose from.” She was blabbering again. “Then how about coffee? We’ve got barako, obviously. But maybe you’d like to have a taste of our rice coffee or corn coffee? We’re the first coffee shop to offer those, as far as I know. Or how about hot choco? Ours are made from actual tablia.” Mentioning those things somehow gave Maya a sense of calm, like they were familiar territory where both she and Gabriel belonged.

Without waiting for his approval, Maya stood up and went to the bar to give their orders. She realized she forgot to ask for Santi’s, but she knew he would eat anything she gave anyway, he would not mind. He would understand how preoccupied she would be with Gabriel as there would be a lot of catching up to do. He knew she missed her old friend very much for she had told him this time and again, like a broken record.

She took a look at their table and saw the two men barely talking, seeming to be eyeing each other intently like competitors would. Ah! This was not what Maya wanted, not how she wanted to introduce them, and very much not how she wanted them to react. Why she expected things to be different this time, she did not know. All she knew was that she was not ready, and surely, Maya would have a lot of explaining to do.

But not this soon!, she almost said out loud when Santi approached her to say he had to go as she received her change from the barista. Instead, she said, “Going? But we just got here!”

I’ve got work to do, you know that. I just got a text.” He produced his phone from his pocket as a way of showing that he did get a text, except he put it back almost as immediately. Maya supposed there wasn’t any text to actually show. “And I’d like to use your potion on the bones already, which I couldn’t do with him around.”

Aaaw…I really wanted you and Gabriel to get to know each other more. I want my bestfriends to be bestfriends, too.”

Santi had a serious, unrelenting look. “Sorry, Maya. It doesn’t seem likely to happen. I don’t think he likes me.”

Or maybe you just don’t like him?”

He ignored what she said. “Besides, I know he’ll be more interested in finding out what you have been up to all these years and perhaps, you know, rekindle old memories that he remembers with you…”

You don’t believe that, do you?” Maya took his left hand in hers and squeezed it to give him reassurance.

Santi gave a little laugh. “I was just joking. It doesn’t matter what I think, really. Also, who am I, anyway? He’s been your bestfriend since forever, like you said. Compared to how long you’ve known each other, it’s like you and I just met…” She could not think of anything immediate to say to that as memories flooded her thoughts. Santi pulled his hand back and checked his watch. “I do need to get back. I’m honestly sorry I can’t stay long, but I’m also glad to give you more time to be with your friend. I am sure you’ll have many things to talk about.” With that, he gave her a little wave, nodded to Gabriel who was watching them, and got out of the place.

Maya gave out a silent, exasperated sigh. There was just no way to avoid the inevitable, she might as well brace herself. She arranged for a takeout of the orders she made for Santi instead, then Maya went back to her seat to wait for orders she made for herself and Gabriel.

Now that they were alone, neither of them spoke. A certain awkwardness hung in the air. The surprise brought by them meeting again was initially a pleasant experience for her until realization began to sink in. Nothing was pleasant the last time they were together. Would it be worth delving into? Would he even want to discuss it? She was not sure if she did.

Fearing a confrontation, she decided to break the silence, anyway. “Wow, it’s been—what?—ten, fifteen years?”

Twelve,” he said. She knew that, but the idle talk was supposed to break the ice.

Can’t believe you’re an NBI agent, of all things. That’s good. A very productive way to spend the years. I’m sure they have made full use of your warrior skills.”

Not quite the way you put it. The work is very well-tamed.” He looked straight into her eyes. “You’ve been busy as well. I see you’ve reconnected with old company.”

And so we start. Can’t we just talk about my new car and the fact that I’m actually driving??? “Well, you’ve lived this life as long as I have, so you know that’s bound to happen in every generation, whether we like it or not. It’s not going to stop unless our breaths do. I’ve learned to live with it and accept it, no matter how people turn out to be.”

Oh, really?”

Sure! Did you see the receptionist?”

Sanwani.”

Yes. She is Cleo now. Looks different, but still very pretty, as she always has been the family beauty. People change face, but we recognize them just the same like it was yesterday. Every reincarnation, though, Sanwani is mean to me. It’s like she has decided to hate me for eternity.” Maya genuinely gave a little laugh.

Sounds exactly like your sister.”

Well, I don’t know how to break that cycle so I deal with it by just being happy to be with my sister in this certain Sanwani-lifetime. Now, Tilsa, guess where that kind sister of mine is. A convent! The habit suits her well.”

The talk was interrupted when their orders arrived: barako coffee and puto bumbong with all the syrups for him, just a simple cup of corn coffee for her.

Gabriel was still not in the mood she wanted him to be in, unfortunately, and had been thinking of something else. “What’s between the two of you?” he asked once the waiter left the table.

Tilsa?” she asked back, taking a sip of her coffee.

You and that guy.”

That guy…Santi…?”

Your Dr. Santi.” If looks could kill, Gabriel’s could have already killed her.

Nothing!” To her own ears, she sounded defensive. “You should know that.”

Do I really know that?”

Why, don’t you know me by now?”

That’s just the problem. You are like an enigma to me. I don’t know who I’m really looking at right now, his Maya or the Asyama’iya I knew?”

There’s a difference?”

Definitely. For one thing, you were a suicidal wreck when I left you and now, you’re this bubbly, talkative girl with her high-tech gadgets, a driving license and a new boyfriend.”

He’s not—!” she snapped and caught herself. Maya took a moment to calm down then told him to eat his food before it got cold. Gabriel picked up his fork but absent-mindedly poked at his food. “If you’re not eating that, then I will.”

So what are you two, really?”

Does it matter?” she snapped again. She expected this, but hated it just the same.

I think you owe me an explanation.”

Why? You’re not my lover, either. If I remember it correctly, you said you could never love me.”

That was not how I said it. Besides, I am not the issue here.”

Why should there even have to be an issue with Santi then?”

You know very well why!”

“Don’t snarl at me. Can’t we just enjoy each other’s company like old friends should?” Gabriel seemed to want to say something more then decided not to. Instead, he decided to eat his food.

Maya took that as another opportunity to restart the conversation, to clear things up. “Santi…Well, we met when I saved his life from…you-know-what. To make things short, I found out about his work and thought he could help me in catching ‘them’ through that.”

“And you catch them because…?” Gabriel did not even look up from his food. She did not answer. “I see you are still on the same destructive path.”

“How is that destructive? Isn’t it your job as an agent to catch bad elements? Me, too, just other kinds of bad elements.”

Gabriel stopped eating altogether and stared her in the eye. “How is it your job exactly?” She did not reply again. She knew where this was going. “The problem with you, Maya, is you never learn. And you’ll never learn until you let go of the past. You let it keep haunting you, and you keep hunting, and now, you’ve let another past back in your life…Good luck on your future, that’s all I can say.”

And with that, Gabriel put down his fork, stood up and left Maya half-regretting seeing him again.

****************************************************************

*“Mga loko! “Crazies!”

*“Ay, ewan ko sa iyo!” – “Whatever!” or to be more literal, “I don’t know about you!”

*puto bumbong – steamed, violet-colored Filipino rice cake

*tablia – cocoa tablets

 

Contest, Contest, Contest!!!

Thought I’d share Ms. Deborah Owen’s recent post:

Creative Writing Institute Announces Annual Short Story Contest

* 1st prize – $200 USD or a FREE Writing Course Valued at $260
* 2nd prize – $100 USD or a Credit of $150 toward a Writing Course
*3rd prize – $50 USD or a Credit of $100 toward a Writing Course
* Plus 7 honorable mentions!

* When does it start? NOW!
* When does it end? Aug. 9, 2014 Midnight, EST
Creative Writing Institute’s Annual Short Story Contest

No Entry Fee

This is a themed contest. Word limit: between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Your story may be any genre, but this exact sentence must appear in the story:

I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?

Read ALL the guidelines at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com/