Millennial Stella – A Poem

My state of mind is odd these days; we live in such interesting times. Thus, this poem.

Make of it what you’ll make of it.

Millennial Stella - Because my parents had to die / for I / I could only think of them as sky / and gas and dust / and last goodbyes / that cling to my insides / that turn to coal, which I ignite / that cling to my outsides, then / catching light / become the planets taking flight / my gravity / my pride

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Exercises In Mindful Reading

Will It Blend Writer Edition

I’m trying to be more mindful when I’m reading again.

Over the last few years, I’d fallen into the habit of reading purely for pleasure (losing myself in fiction, poetry, and memes) or reading to learn new things and improve my skills for my day job (also enjoyable, in a different way). I’d find myself just sailing through narratives or reducing pieces to bite-sized pieces of facts I can incorporate into my thought processes.

And while my brain thinks just the same when I do these things, it’s stopped chewing and savoring the significance of the stuff I read. It’s not bad that I do it. It’s just that it’s made me impatient for the next thing, the future that always looks better before you get to it.

What I mean to say is I rarely stay present for the present anymore, especially when it comes to reading.

I really suck
I really do.

It’s part of the reason why I signed up to be a beta reader for BookBed Fictory. One of the things I used to do as a teen (about 15 years or so ago, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!) was read other people’s work and really take the time to evaluate them:

  • Did I enjoy it? (Important question)
  • Why? (REALLY important question)
  • How could it improve? (Helpful AF question)

Beta reading stories for Fictory will push me back into the mindful reading state of mind that I used to really get into. Its added bonus, of course, is that it forces me to really think about the stuff I write too. Will readers enjoy this? Why will they enjoy it? Can I write this in a way that will make them enjoy it MORE?

Will It Blend Writer Edition

The long and short of it is it’s a great mental exercise if you want to be more present, which in turn is absolutely helpful if you want to be a better writer than you were before.

It’s also great when you’re a die-hard reader who wants to find more books to read without having to rely on “if you liked this, try reading this” types of articles on the internet. If you pay attention to what you like and dislike, it’ll be much easier to shortlist stuff for your TBR list and minimize the risk of getting a book you’ll regret spending money on.

It’s happened to me so many times, guys. So many, many times.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered this, by the way. I, like most bookworms, am easily distracted by shiny new things, which is why I’m still waffling over whether I’ll go to the MIBF this weekend (are you guys going? I hope you have fun!). I just know there will be books over there that I’ll want to buy for the sake of buying, without taking my established preferences into consideration. But then there are folks I want to support at the event, so…

Anyway, my real point is that I’m trying to re-establish an old reading habit I’d lost when the years piled on so I can be reacquainted with myself, and I believe it’s a habit that can help anyone. All it takes to read mindfully, after all, are a few simple questions.

What are you guys reading right now? Are you enjoying it? What parts do you like? What elements or tropes are a must-have for your reading material? What do you avoid reading? Let me know!

The #SummerFeels Experience: A Reflection Paper

It’s certainly not the first time I’d done this: I’d submitted my work for collections before. Some of them even got published. But none of those projects had ebook versions on AMAZON.

Now, after almost a month since launch, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I’m part of this thing. It’s a pretty great thing. How the hell did I get here?!

I mean, I obviously volunteered. When the wonderful Kate Sebastian put out a call for submissions for summer love stories, I signed up for it because I hadn’t really written a love story for a year or so at that point. I wanted to challenge myself.

And boy was I challenged. Because while I did in fact have an outline, one side character didn’t care and kept mugging for attention.

ReadinginBetween_Lion King Overact
Dammit, Teo. Stop quoting Lion King! (photo by Matthew Murphy, from The Lion King tour)

Sure, you can argue I could’ve written about him instead. But with an established word count and the deadline looming, I didn’t really have time to do that. Especially with a character who’s such a wild card. So I pushed on with my original plot.

It was like giving birth to a cactus. The only thing that got me through the whole process was the rum Coke I fortunately had access to (because we have a mini-bar at home) and the support of my family—my siblings in particular, who kept checking on my progress and agreed to read my work as I crammed on D-Day. My brother was pretty good at calling me out (gently) when he caught me slacking off, and my sister was a superb sounding board. They even tried to stay up with me as I chased the deadline.

I wouldn’t have made the cutoff without them. I love my family for the support. And the alcohol.

ReadinginBetween_Sibs and Mom
Me with my sib squad and my Mom (who provided the necessary alcohol).

The writing/submitting experience alone taught me so much! Some of the things I’d learned:

  1. I really need to cultivate more discipline when it comes to writing my own work. When I work on projects for other people, I find it easy to work on a schedule. But for some reason, I can’t do that with my own work (I’d rather sleep or read other people’s books. LOL). I should’ve up come up with a stricter schedule.
  2. I need to find ways to get past the idea of failure. I have days—weeks even!—when I just get overwhelmed by setbacks. I start thinking I shouldn’t bother doing this because I’ll just let people down with my crappy work, and end up clinging to a bed or couch unable to touch my manuscript for at least two days. I should’ve pushed harder.
  3. I should have just let that side character go wild. I could’ve just taken out those sequences and put them in another story. That way, Teo wouldn’t have tried with all his might to take over the piece. Because apparently, my characters fight me when I try to make plans for them.

It’ll be difficult to translate this into action, because I’d already established habits I find hard to break. But I’ll definitely keep trying.

At this point, I’d like to thank not just my supportive family but also everyone in the Summer Feels group and my long-time friends. The Summer Feels gang didn’t just encourage each other, they also shared their progress and some tips to motivate the participants. My long-time friends cheered me on, reminding me that even if I didn’t believe I was any good, they certainly thought I had potential. They even shared my Summer Feels promotions (K, I’m especially grateful for your mad sharing skills).

I know I have a long way to go. I need to work harder on my romance/kilig writing (I’m a little rusty when it comes to that), and I definitely need to have a more efficient process! This experience taught me I was capable of surviving it. I’m super grateful for that, and I hope you guys keep reading.

Now on to the next projects (which include a prequel to “At the Bermuda Triangle”, a collection of my poetry, and more stories from the Bermudaverse)!

April Feels Day 2017 Feels!

a.k.a. My Wallet and I Barely Survived April Feels Day

People who know me know I’ve been a hermit for the last half-decade or so. I usually don’t go out for events unless it’s Komikon or work-related (and even then, the event needs to be accessible). But it was different last Sunday.

Last Sunday was April Feels Day, and a book I’d contributed to was launching that day.

ReadinginBetween_April Feels Day Banner
Image taken from https://www.facebook.com/events/248843262242162/

April Feels Day is an annual feels extravaganza for the #romanceclass community writers and readers. It’s basically the event for local romance readers to get their kilig on.

It’s my first time participating in the event on top of being my first time being an author who had to sign actual books. There were so many copies of our book “Summer Feels”, and it was overwhelming. So much so that I seriously messed up the autographs on some books. If you happened to get one of those copies, I truly do apologize. Please feel free to email me at ealmazora@gmail.com, and I will send you a poem or a short scene (50 words or under) with a prompt of your choice.

Group signing
Photo of a bunch of us signing books c/o co-author Bentham Hurtado

That said, I still had fun signing books with my fellow Summer Feels authors—especially my signing batchmate Irene Jurado (she wrote “Love After Summer”; if you have our book already, you can jump straight to her story). As we signed the books, the program started with book presentations (including ours).

After we finished signing all the books, I finally found time to shop for other people’s books. Look how glorious the shelves were:

ReadinginBetween_Feels_Day_Shelf_1

ReadinginBetween_Feels_Day_Shelf_2

ReadinginBetween_Feels_Day_Shelf_3

I eventually had to stop because I forgot to bring an extra bag for all the books I wanted to buy. XD Also, I was hungry since I hadn’t had lunch. So I wandered over to a nearby shawarma place, re-energized myself with soda, and went to Hey Kessy to buy a canvas bag so I can get more books later (I also got a print copy of “All’s Fair in Blog and War” by Chrissie Peria from them because it was there and I wanted it).

Had a bit of a breather before the readings started.

That’s a good thing because THOSE READINGS ALMOST KILLED ME.

I’m not kidding. I had to use my inhaler like five times through several readings because I almost stopped breathing. My uterus definitely was destroyed and revived repeatedly. I now worship the wonderful theater actors and actresses who graced us with their stellar performances.

My phone battery was running low at that point on account of me forgetting to bring a power bank, so I didn’t get photos or videos. Thankfully, you can find recordings of the #romanceclass readings here.

Following the reading was a photo op session—mainly so folks can take photos with the crazy talented readers, but also to take pics with each other. The Summer Feels folks got a chance to get a class photo of sorts.

ReadinginBetween_Summer_Feels_Class_Photo
Photo care of our co-author/editor Kate Sebastian

And then I bought more books right before the rest of the book launches, because why not? These are all the books I ended up with at the end of the day:

ReadinginBetween_Book_Haul_Feels_Day_2017
Aren’t they beautiful?

It was AMAZING. So many great people. So many good books. And I learned a few things too, like:

  • I literally get starstruck around authors whose work I recently read; unless they approach me first, I tend to just hide in a corner watching them in awe (the hiding applies to Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes, and Tara Frejas, whose books I’d devoured the week before) no matter how nice they actually are
  • I also alternate between friendly and shy/awkward around new people in general, so if we met last Sunday and I seemed off/weird, I apologize
  • I mustn’t forget to bring a canvas bag, power bank, and extra inhaler for stuff like this

I’m so grateful for this event, and I can’t wait for the next one!