Un-chickening with Wattpad

ReadinginBetween_Wattpad Logo

I’ve been on Wattpad for a while, but I’ve been too chicken to post any of my writing there so I mainly used it to find stuff to read.

ReadinginBetween_Wattpad Logo

And maybe stalk authors. The awesome Mina V. Esguerra writes on that particular platform, and that was the only place where I could find the third installment of her Interim Goddess of Love series when I couldn’t find it in bookstores.

ReadinginBetween_Interim Goddess of Love Jewelry
Fun fact: This necklace and bracelet design from http://www.damitnidyesebel.com was INSPIRED by Interim Love Goddess Hannah.

But I digress. Wattpad is a great place to find poems and stories, true. But it’s also meant to be a place where people can SHARE stories. It’s a space where budding (and not-so-budding) authors can get constructive feedback on their work, hone their writing, discover a community that loves their words.

And, like I said, I’ve still been too much of a coward to try posting my writing there. Thankfully, a bunch of stuff that happened over the last few months have made me a bit braver:

  • Discovering The Art of Work by Jeff Goins (everyone should read this!)
  • #StrangeLit (I proved to myself that I can write fiction on a deadline)
  • Meeting other, braver new writers
  • Being in the same room as authors who have given me feels over the years
  • Positive-ish reviews of my #StrangeLit short story (my favorite being from @jotheeful)
  • The surprising desire to continue writing in the same universe as my #StrangeLit story
  • The Skillshare Class Writing for Online Engagement: Fiction in a Digital World by the great Rebecca Sky
  • Being tagged in the 13daysofhalloween challenge on Wattpad (and being forced to write)
  • Being told by tamoja (an awesome poet) on Wattpad to not be afraid to hit publish
  • My growing obsession with PicMonkey, with which I create covers for stories I haven’t written/haven’t finished writing yet (might as well use them)

All these, and probably other stuff that I don’t consciously know, are telling me to stop making fear-based excuses when it comes to writing. They’re telling me to stop feeling guilty about writing stuff I like.

It’s time for my epic un-chickening with Wattpad.

Which is why I’ve started to upload my new/unfinished work on the site. So far (and by that I mean 11/04/2015), I have only two pieces of work on the profile:

  • The Air“, which is my microfiction entry to the #13daysofhalloween challenge
  • The Lost Champion“, which is a fantasy-ish story set in the same universe as my Incredible Truths short story “Shake-Ups”, and which I plan to update on a bi-weekly basis

But of course, I plan to post other stories I’ve been tinkering with over the years (often with my sister)—including but not limited to:

  • “Lost Boys”, the adventures of a former teen superheroine who finds herself playing psychiatrist to her former peers’ secret identities
  • “Blue Fairy” (Originally called “The Highways, The Low Ways“), a sci-fi/fantasy story involving a woman and a boy on the run from a war
  • “Damn Attractive”, when a glamorous contract-based romance-with-benefits goes sideways
  • “Egg”, in which a cat lover has to deal with the fact that one of her babies isn’t really a cat and actually has talent for superheroics (based on my sister’s characters in a LiveJournal RP)

All of these have been partially written already (though I’m sure they need some rewriting before they’re uploaded), but they’ll all definitely be up on Wattpad this month. I hope at least one person ASIDE from my family and myself will enjoy them.

LET THE UNCHICKENING COMMENCE! (oh help)

The Thing About My Romance Preferences

As you should all know by now, I’m a ridiculously big fan of romance stories.  I like reading about two very unique people who get to know each other and (this is the important part) find a way to make the relationship work WITHOUT compromising their principles and independence.  Hotness is a bonus factor that is very much appreciated, but not necessary.  The important part is the believable connection forged between the characters.  That doesn’t seem all that difficult, right?

Actually, I think it is.  Because as much as I love romantic stories, I also acknowledge that a good number of the ones I come across are…well, they’re disappointing.  It’s not about the plots being stagnant (seriously, EXACTLY HOW MANY Greek tycoons/Sheiks/Lords are out there falling in love with spunky American/Australian/British brides anyway?) or that they’re unbelievable.  It’s mostly about the falling in love process being unbelievable, the actual story of how one sort of person falls in love with another sort of person under certain circumstances.  The fact that many of these stories fall back on the OMG instant attraction tactic without following it up with, I don’t know, ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, is a little bit frustrating.  It may be just me, but in my experience stuff like that doesn’t typically end in a “happily ever after” kind of marriage – it culminates in something horrible like divorce or, at the very worst, marital abuse.

Assholes in Romance
Of course, the women fight this – but they stay anyway because…I ACTUALLY DON’T KNOW.

They sell remarkably well, of course, because who doesn’t like the idea of reforming a bad boy/asshole?  Nevertheless, I think there are some ways to go about this that won’t, essentially, piss me off.  For example, said reformation needs to be credible and not just “Oh wow the power of her love/vagina!”  And maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t involve an asshole whose only boon in his character is that he doesn’t hurt animals.

…if I think about it hard enough, maybe my MAJOR peeves about popular love stories is that they’ve become so LAZY.  Man meets woman and they clash, which apparently means or leads to attraction.  Then they have a bonding experience of some sort (a child, calamity, stalker, whatever) that reveals just how much they really care for each other – this typically involves one saving the other from some catastrophe.  After that, they have the cheesy confession time (sometimes, they are well-written, but they’re often overly-sentimental drivel that don’t even seem realistic given the context AND the characters).  Possibly, you get an epilogue in which they’re expecting their first child.

The worst ones for me are the ones in which the chemistry between the characters was not properly established AT ALL.  I mean yeah, physical attraction’s there, but what about the emotional and personal connection?  The exploration of HOW they can make the relationship work beyond their feelings in the bedroom?  See, I understand how personal conflicts between two characters can make a story interesting.  But unless you reveal some particular non-superficial values that these characters share, you will not be able to make ME believe that they will have happiness forever after.  Unless you can prove to me that the chemistry between these two people isn’t as volatile as you first implied, I cannot in good conscience buy into the story you just wrote.  And I realize just how terrible it is to have some standards when it comes to something as simple as love stories, if only because the sheer volume of these works means I will be disappointed again and again.

Of course, there are romance novels that I absolutely love.  One of them is this:

UK cover of Just Like Heaven
I think I read this every three months.

Not everyone is into Regency romance novels – and to be truthful, it’s rarely my cup of tea, too.  I tend to be picky with my Regency romance authors.  But Julia Quinn came into my life one day and just made things shiny with her Bridgerton series.  THEN she published Just Like Heaven, and pretty much nailed everything I wanted out of a good love story.

The main protagonists didn’t have the sudden and explosive physical attraction to each other at the beginning of the book, and the thing that brings them together is not necessarily the fact that one saved the other’s life – it’s the recognition, in each other, values that they themselves find important (in this case, it’s family, which is a theme I love in my romance).  Of course, it’s the utterly adorable fact that Marcus and Honoria both have a weakness for sweets.  Their love story is, with the exception of the sprained ankle, extremely undramatic but utterly believable in its quiet inevitability.  Marcus is his own person, as is Honoria, even though their are both shaped by their relationship with Daniel Smythe-Smith (friend to the former and brother to the latter who has his own, less satisfying, novel; it was only saved by Hugh Prentice).  Together, they are still themselves but more.

Of course, this book isn’t perfect – it had some continuity issues that I, as a fan of the entire Quinn universe, was a little disappointed by – but the error was not as important as the story of the relationship itself.

Happy Kitty
So maybe I’m no so hard to please with romance novels after all.

I guess my point is this:  while I don’t expect perfection in my romance novels (despite the fact that they’re supposed to be perfect escape fantasies), I still want them to make the relationship believable.  I need to believe that the happily ever after for the two characters I just “traveled” with can last long after  I’ve finished reading the final sentence.

Maybe I’m just that kind of person, and I’m hoping that there are more romance books out there that cater to people like me.

Is that crazy?

Stories that Give Me Hope

It’s a Tuesday here in the Philippines and, for many people, it’s the first day of work this week – yesterday was a national holiday.  As such, as a friend on Twitter pointed out, people might be feeling a wee bit grumpy right now – it’s so easy to have weekend hangover after a long weekend.  That’s why I think it’s wonderful that today (of all days) I ran across some feel-good readings that make me feel all wonderful about the human race.  Not only do they make me feel better (although to be honest my bitterness mostly comes from the fact that I didn’t get to enjoy the long weekend – my shift is from Tuesday to Saturday), but I’m sure that other people will find them uplifting as well.

That being said, there’s no rule stating that only people who are feeling grumpy deserve the benefits of stories filled with hope.  Which is why I’m posting them here, where other less grumpy people might be able to find them.

Stories you love to read
Or, at the very least, they’ll make you cry in all the best ways.

6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity – Cracked rarely does posts that I find truly touching (though I LOVE this site).  But when they do, oh MAN.  They are awesome.

The Route 29 Batman – Admittedly, I found this on the Cracked article.  But Cracked didn’t do this story justice.  And as a superhero nerd, I am especially vulnerable to stories like this.

A Father’s Love – Posted by somebody in one of my social networks, this turned me into a weeping mess.  More men should be like this.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! 🙂

A Promise is a Promise and Better Late than Never

About 4 months ago, I told Amanda of Amanda Meets Book that I will one day write about my kickfights with fat little Persian boys.  I suppose it could have been a short story, but when I sat down to get it written, it ended up being a VERY short rant piece.  Nevertheless, I think it’s entertaining enough for me to be able to offer it to the Internet without any semblance of shame.

So without further delay…

A Jerk is a Jerk, No Matter How Small

Let me preface this entire thing by saying that I am, in fact, no more racist than any other person (unless you’re a white supremacist or a less white equivalent, in which case – moving along).  But I simply have to say that the Persians who were living in our condominium building deserve to be struck down with their own god.  Hopefully, with a plague of rats in their toilets.  Siccing MY deity on them won’t be as satisfying.

I’d also like to make it clear that I rather like children, even if my limbs are far too weak to carry them, even when they’re babies.  But I recognize the fact that many kids can be unforgivably obnoxious.  And if they happen to be very spoiled or, in the case of this rather fat little Persian boy whose identity I will hide under the name of Abba (it’s the first Persian name the Internet spat out, ok?), come from a culture in which boys are treated like kings just by virtue of their penises, I tend to be very VERY intolerant.  I don’t care that their parents are raising them as they see fit; the moment some little overweight excuse for a little human lays claims ALL THE TOYS the other kids have just because his Mama and nanny can’t say no, the community has to step in.

Which is why, on a relatively quiet afternoon a little over a year ago, I kicked an entitled fat little Persian kid in the ankles.

In my defense:  he started it, I was wearing soft shoes, and I kick like a newborn kitten.  But it felt good and he learned a very important lesson – if you try to kick me while I’m trying to read I swear I will find a way to get back at you that you can’t whine to your mother or father about.  Just because I’m smaller than the other adults doesn’t mean that you can DEMAND that I get off that particular spot on the lobby couch so YOU can sit on it.  You ask.  You don’t kick at my knees and try to grab my book.  YOU ARE SIX YEARS OLD OR SOMETHING and you should know how to talk by now.

Also, I am not a Persian woman or somebody you parents pay to be nice to you.  So if I ruined your shoes?  TOUGH.  You were being a jerk, little boy, and the fact that the guards CLAPPED when I kicked you before leading me away.  Your youth should not excuse you, nor should your culture WHEN YOU ARE LIVING IN MINE.  If you want to live in my country, get used to females who tell you you are wrong.  Because you are.  I got to that spot first, and until I leave it’s mine.  That little girl OWNED that toy truck, and it will NEVER be yours.

Of course, you’ve been told that before.  You just didn’t listen until someone scuffed your shoes.  Holy crap, if we only knew that that’s what it took to get you to stop, we would have spilled shit on your shoe much earlier.

That being said, he still didn’t learn.  So we got into another quiet little kickfight a couple of weeks later (something about honor?  not sure).  After that, he and his family moved out – apparently, something about not following condo policies.  I think the kid tried to pull the same kicking shit with the landlords.  We’ll never know.

All I know is the place in general is now better, and fat little Chinese boys are incredibly polite.

What Are You Working on Right Now?

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, if only because it’s near the end of the month/quarter at work and that generally means that I have the fortune of having a fairly relaxed schedule.  And what I realized is that I’ve got a LOT of writing plans this year.  Among other things:

  • I’m working on what you might call a gaslamp fantasy novel (it MIGHT become a series somewhere down the road); I’m plotting it out right now and wondering if I should start writing it now or wait for NaNoWriMo.
  • I’m trying to improve my poetry, and (I am warning you right now) I’m contemplating participating in NaPoWriMo.  It’s probably ill-advised that I try it, but I can try.
  • At the same time, I’m tinkering with a short story idea for and end of the world anthology here in the Philippines.  Basically involving a love story and a library.
  • I realize I’m in way over my head, considering I have a day job (which I love so very much).
  • At which point, I barely resist crying because I want to do EVERYTHING I PLANNED, on time.
Written in Blood
I haven’t written anything yet and the paper’s ALREADY bloodied.

With that done, I’ve re-prioritized my goals based on urgency (advice of my poetically-inclined friend P).  So basically, I’m putting emphasis on that apocalypse story (because that one actually has a deadline) and celebrating NaPoWriMo by revising the one poem I posted so far in this blog.  Save for the one or two last tweaks I’m doing in the plotting of the novel, which I can finish in about two hours, I’ll work on nothing but that one story and that one poem this April.

But enough about me.  What are YOU guys working on right now?  A poem?  A short story?  A novel?  Are you writing within a genre or are you going for something more general?

And if you’re allowed to write that with any author or poet you want, who will it be?  (I’d like to write poems with Sylvia Plath and short stories with Jim Butcher, in case you’re wondering.)  I’d like to hear from you guys. 🙂