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August Goals aka Where the Heck Have I Been?

Aye-aye! Look who it is, mah peeps!

So it’s been a minute and apologies for anyone who’s been seeking my blog posts and left terribly disappointed (quit snickering, it could happen!). Well, I’m back with a new format and a new posting schedule. Part of the reason I’ve slacked off with this is because life has gotten so hectic and managing a blog post every Friday became too much especially in comparison with the other items on my list (more on that later).

But I’ve decided to adjust my blog to more of a newsletter style with monthly updates instead of weekly ones. That way, I can do the Nano thing like I always have but in more of a holistic review versus the typical blow-by-blow. Furthermore, I’ve established a more concrete format, with the information stated in specific categories: Writing updates; reading updates; nephew updates (can’t wait to share those!) and island updates. So, without further ado, here we go!

YA Anime Fantasy Book 1 – Completed the fifth draft and submitted a partial manuscript to an indie publisher on April 30th. On May 18th, I received an email requesting a full manuscript on June 29th. Currently, I’m awaiting word via email whether I’ll be accepted or rejected. Stay tuned.

YA Anime Fantasy Book 2 – Completed the first draft during April’s Camp Nano (after a horrendous laptop crash incident followed by a 3-month waiting time to be fixed due to the global pandemic). Currently, I’m letting the manuscript breathe and I hope to begin edits some time in October.

YA Anime Fantasy Book 3 – Completed 25K of the first draft during July’s Camp Nano (this book’s outline was also trapped with book 2 in the crashed laptop debacle). Currently, I’m working on completing the other 25K for the month of August.

Quarantined With Short Story Project – Completed the character profiles, backgrounds and plot outline. Drafted a few scenes and completed the romance beat sheet. Currently, I’m hoping to have the 1K completed by the end of August. Project must be ready for submission by September.

Middle Grade Contemporary Book 1 – Completed a new plot outline incorporating my betas’ feedback. However, the project will require major rewrites so it will be shelved indefinitely or at least until I complete the YA anime fantasy pentalogy series and can properly focus on this series.

Wiped Out: Murder is a Beach by Tamara Woods – Fraya Taylor moved to Hawai’i to get away from the drama of her hometown and to start fresh. With her zany writing group and her best friend, she’s carved out a quiet life for herself of writing her novels and soaking up the sun.

One day, she was talking story with her bestie in Kailua, HI, sipping her cold brew, and living her magical black girl life, when a scream split the air. Running toward that sound, catapulted her into a world of money, danger, and pro-surfing.

Wiped Out is a cosy mystery novella set in the tropics where friendships and family are just as important as solving the crime.

Midnight Murder by Tamara Woods – A cosy mystery novella set in the small town of Whisper Valley about a teenager named Isa; her cousins, Fraya and Nay-Nay and their eccentric Aunty Maybel.

Will post my reviews on Goodreads at the end of August.

Remember my nephew who was born during April’s Camp Nano in 2018? Well, that kid turned two this year. Yup, the terrible twos. A moment of silence for our peace of mind.

The thing is, nobody warns you about this phase. And we are praying it’s just a phase! I remember when I was younger, all my mother had to do was cast a look that could penetrate the walls and defy space and time to reach on my end and I knew—immediately—whatever I was planning to do; don’t do it! Well, that trait seems to have skipped my loving nephew. This Generation Alpha is something else…

Any kid born after 2018, seems to possess a type of determination that I’ve never witnessed. It’s actually quite admirable. I wished I was that brave and determined; to never give up until I got it right. When nephew was a few months old, he was trying to hold his neck up and you could see the frustration every time his head fell back because his little neck muscles weren’t strong enough. He looked as though he’d been betrayed by his own feeble body. But I digress.

Nobody warns of the terrible twos and those that do, withhold a lot of information. These “chip babies” can’t even formulate a sentence and yet have the ability to decode your password or get past your firewall despite being too short to see the laptop monitor. And let’s not forget there’s a global pandemic so where nephew would’ve gone off to daycare each morning; had other kids to play with and plenty of room to run around expelling his “warrior energy”, he has to do that in the animal house.

Sidenote: Why do I call it the animal house? Because my home is a revolving door for people. There’s always a neighbour, friend, or family member hanging out in our gallery till the wee hours of the morning. Furthermore, there are five people who permanently reside in our home: My mother, older brother, younger sister, my nephew (my sister’s son) and my uncle (who lives downstairs and is currently renovating). Our maternal grandmother lived with us until her passing in 2013. Plus, my aunt, uncle and cousin live two blocks away while my aunt lives one block away. This style of living might sound weird to American and Europeans but it’s perfectly normal in the Caribbean (more on that later). But the animal house analogy holds true especially for Sunday lunch “limes” (Trini slang for a party or gathering) and game nights.

Speaking of Caribbean tradition, I know that it’s typical in American culture (perhaps European too, I’m not sure) for the young adult to move out of their parents’ house and start “adulting” when they’re eighteen. They get a job, their own place and are able to exercise what their parents had taught them over the years while they were under the parental roof. Indeed a valuable lesson.

In the Caribbean, however, the moving out portion usually takes place when the young adult gets married. They’ll leave their mother and father and cleave to their new partner. But if they’re not married, what tends to happen is they remain at home and contribute towards the bills. For instance, my mother is retired so my brother, sister and I cover the utility bills and the groceries. It’s almost like living in a commune, I imagine. We grew up that way (since family was nearby, there was always an adult available) and now nephew will grow with that same “it takes a village” environment or as I like to call it the “She-Wolf Pack” (since my mother, sister and I do the lion’s share of that work).

But in some parts of Trinidad, even when they marry, they’ll build on their family’s land a separate home but still close enough for the parents to visit. This is especially great when the grandkids are born. I have to say that since the COVID outbreak, I’ve been so grateful to live in a house full of people (who granted, drive me crazy sometimes) but I can’t imagine dealing with this pandemic and having to socially distance myself if I was living alone in an apartment. I work remotely from home and write during my spare time; the isolation would’ve killed me—guaranteed. So, as weird as my animal house sounds, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Well, I’m babbling again, which usually means it’s time to sign off. Lemme buss it, for now. Remember to take the island breath and when the world gets crazy, keep calm and write on!

Till next time,

Plot Practice | April Camp Nano Prep 2019

Waddup Savi Crew!

Apologies once again for the uber late post (it’s seems like a running theme nowadays) and given these posting-late-for-two-weeks-in-a-row occurrences, I’m curious to see what will transpire once Camp Nano begins the following week.

But don’t assume for one minute that because I’m “slacking off” with my blog posts that means I’m “slacking off” with my writing projects. Hell-to-tha-nah-nah-nah! I’m more devoted than ever and ALWAYS make time for my writing. Because that’s the only way to make it.

Before I jump into the topic at hand, one major update: I’ll be switching projects for Camp Nano. I know, real shocker (damn you, indecisiveness) but I need to be real with myself and plotting a novel sequel while editing its predecessor is fairly ambitious—ahem—correction, exceedingly ambitious. So I’ll be just focusing on the first novel since it’s gonna be a MAJOR rewrite instead of edits.

Camp Nano is supposed to be fun and I couldn’t see myself having fun with all those commitments looming over my head. Not to mention working a full-time job and helping to look after my nephew. I’m getting winded just blogging about it! Also, I’ll be doing hourly count instead of word count. Rewrites are unpredictable enough as it is without the added pressure of putting in long hours towards my WIP with very little word count to show for it.

With all that context out of the way, onto the subject at hand. Plot practice. What the heck is it? And do you need it? Well, if plot is your weakest area—like me—then the answer to the second question is a resounding YES! Plot practice can help you build a unique story with a simple or complex plot. Essentially we’ll be recycling an already existing plot and making it our own.

Since we don’t need to come up with the plot, we can focus on other areas (you know, the two additional legs of the story tripod—character and setting). Which is where I tend to shine. I’ve been inventing characters since I could talk. Ever since I was little I liked to pretend to be someone else or live somewhere else. Hence my character and setting / world-building muscles are well-defined.

Let’s use a simple plot to demonstrate how you can do your plot practice exercises: Little Red Riding Hood. Feel free to use complex ones if you know that it won’t get away from you or perhaps plot is your strong suit (in which case, I hate you lolz). For plot practice, I like to do something we often do within my web design job scope, known as “A/B testing” where you don’t make all the changes at once, rather you change one thing at a time and compare the two versions to see which one performs better.

Quick disclaimer: The plot diagram I’ll be referencing was taken from this source: http://nextbook.co/editor/

Source: http://nextbook.co/editor/

Remember we’re keeping the plot the same. If we try to get all fancy it may get away from us and the purpose of plot practice is to make better stories and improve our plotting muscle.

So if we’re not messing with the original story what can we change to make it our own? Well, what if instead of humans, the characters in Little Red Riding Hood were automobiles. Different story, right?

Exposition – Little Red Riding Hood has prepared a basket of goodies for her grandmother. She begins walking through dangerous woods to deliver the basket.

A fiery red MINI Cooper, called Little Red Riding Hood has prepared a hitch wagon of fuel cans for her Grandmother, a silver BMW Classic Coupe. She begins driving through the dangerous wooded highway to deliver the wagon.

Rising Action – The Big Bad Wolf spots Little Red walking in the woods and asks her where she’s going with the basket of treats.

A black Hummer H2, a.k.a. the Big Bad Wolf, spots Little Red driving through the woods and asks her where she’s going with the wagon of auto goodies.

Rising Action – The Wolf runs to the grandmother’s house, eats her, puts on her bonnet, glasses, and night gown, and climbs into her bed.

The Wolf takes a shortcut drive to the Grandmother’s garage, hiding her in his car bonnet (make it work, folks), donning her own car bonnet, headlights and outer frame and parks in her garage.

Rising Action – Little Red arrives at her grandmother’s house and sits on a stool at the disguised wolf’s bedside.

Little Red arrives at her Grandmother’s garage and parks next to the disguised Wolf’s side.

Rising Action – Little Red questions all the things that appear different about her “grandmother”.

Little Red questions all the things that appear different about her “Grandmother”.

Climax – Little Red comments on the Wolf’s nose, eyes, ears, and teeth, and he responds by eating her in one gulp.

Little Red comments on the Wolf’s bumper, headlights, side mirrors and grill, and he responds by hiding her in his massive trunk (hey, it doesn’t have to be perfect, okay).

Falling Action – The Woodsman arrives on the scene to discover the wolf dressed as the grandmother, and quickly surmises what has transpired in the woman’s cottage.

A brown Dodge Ram, better known as the Woodsman arrives on the scene to discover the Wolf donning the Grandmother’s outer frame and quickly surmises what has transpired in the old vehicle’s garage.

Resolution – The Woodsman kills the wolf and out step the grandmother and Little Red, happy and safe.

The Woodsman overthrows the Wolf and out drive the Grandmother and Little Red, happy and safe. The End.

Don’t get caught up if some of the items don’t fit (heck, some of mine didn’t). The point of the exercise is the follow the plot diagram of events, take note of the pacing, etc. Comment below if you have any plot practice exercises that you like to use. I’d love to hear about them.

Anyways, I’m rambling again which means it’s time to sign off… Toodles for now. And remember, no matter where you live, take a little time to enjoy the island life! Happy Writing!

Series Bible | April Camp Nano Prep 2019

Waddup Savi Crew!

Apologies for the uber late post (it’s been that kind of week apparently) and as a matter of fact, I almost didn’t so I guess late post is better than no post. As promised, I’m gonna talk about my preparations for Camp Nano this year. And I know what some of you are thinking: “Didn’t she have a Character / Setting / Plot series going on?” Why, yes I did and if you any of missed those, feel free to check them out (after reading this one, of course lolz).

The rest of you are probably thinking: “Why didn’t she start these Nano Prep blogs at the beginning of March like regular aspiring writers?” Well, as of last week Thursday I had no intention of participating in Camp Nano this year. So these prep blogs are as much a surprise to me as it is to you guys.

Nephew is turning 1 on April 2nd and I’m betting that my sister has something planned for that milestone. Not to mention, I’m working now (was unemployed this time last year) so I’ll need to factor in working hours where I never had to before. All these things chip away at my writing time so I figured, maybe take a break this year. There’s always Camp Nano in July and of course—the OG—regular Nano in November. Lots of opportunities to get my writing mojo back.

So what gives? What’s with the sudden change of heart? I’m so glad you asked! Well, blame it on Kate Cavanaugh. She’s a YouTuber and fellow Authortube cabin mate (for both April and July Camp Nanos last year.

Anyway, she had a YT video talking about her Camp Nano prep and what she will be working on. By the time the video ended, I was halfway through updating my Camp Nano profile with my 2019 WIP. Damn that YouTube rabbithole!

So because I’ve already committed and will most likely be drafted into a cabin soon, there’s no going back now. I’m stuck. What can I say? Challenge accepted.

With all that context out of the way, onto the subject at hand. Series bible. What the heck is it? And do you need it? If you’re writing a series—like me—then the answer to the second question is a resounding YES! A series bible can help keep all your information in one place where it can be easily referenced instead of, oh I don’t know, maybe having to read your novel all over again. Even if you do, chances are you’ll probably still miss some stuff.

Your series bible information will vary depending on your genre. It can be simple, detailed or even complex. You can fill out your series bible as the series progresses, before you pen a single novel or—and this is not recommended at all—after you’ve finished the last book. Whatever you choose—for the love of God not the last one, please—personalise your bible to your preferences and style. After all, you’re the one who’s gonna be using it.

You can store your series bible in Word, Google Docs or Scrivener. Or—in my case—all three (writers are a paranoid bunch, aren’t they?) and it’s a delightful dumping ground for all my brainstorming ideas. So, let’s dig into the series bible for my WIP, which is the sequel to my YA anime-inspired fantasy, Keiji novels.

1 | Synopsis – Outline / Breakdown of each of the novels in the series. This is important as it enables an overarching thread that can be followed through each of the books. The last thing you want is to finish a series and realise there’s unresolved issues and unanswered questions, or worse, plot holes the size of Mount Everest. Yikes!

2 | Settings – All the areas of my world: North, South, East and West. There are maps, travel time and distance, calendar (since I use a timeline to keep my dates in order), history (my races have past issues with each other which will come up in the current story), language, religion, government, climate, festivals, etc. Basically any main areas of interest where your story would take place. You get the picture.

3 | Primary Characters – These characters should be fleshed out as though they’re real people. Don’t skimp on the details here. I have avatars, basic info, personality profiles, skills / abilities (my races practise martials arts and some even have magic).

4 | Secondary Characters – Not as important as the primary characters and they don’t need super detailed profiles—just enough to get an understanding of them and their effect on the main character(s). But don’t make them flat, 2D or archetypal. They need to feel as though they are the star of their own stories and not just planets that revolve around the main character(s).

5 | Tertiary / Other Characters – Not as important as the secondary characters and you can probably get away with creating flat, 2D or archetypal characters here. We don’t really care to learn the background for the coffee shop owner where our main character gets her cup of Java every morning. Unless that key information in the background is integral to the plot and affects our main character. Heck, we don’t even need to know his name. Haven’t you ever seen end credits with “Girl #3” or “Coffee Waitress”, those are tertiary characters! We need them but don’t really need to know about them. Get it?

6 | Fantasy Races – Because I’m writing a fantasy, I have characters that aren’t human. Therefore I’ll need a breakdown of the different races so I can keep track of things like their basic culture, notable customs, gender roles, etc. Every race is distinct so this section helps ensure that I keep them consistent throughout the series. If a race is typically docile but suddenly in book 3 they’re hostile, readers won’t buy it, unless there’s an underlying reason for this adverse reaction (apart from the fact that you forgot). This category can also work for science fiction.

7 | Magic Systems – Magic plays a huge role in my fantasy novel. It’s used as a political tactic and even practised as a form of picking the government. Thus I needed this section in my bible. Here I have the history of where my magic came from, levels of magic (all magic is not the same and levels depend on many different things), rules of magic (is your magic hard or soft), types of magic (different races have different types of magic), how magic works (again, each race has a different type and the mechanics of each races’ magic works differently). If your book doesn’t have magic, rejoice, this section’s not for you. If you’re writing sci-fi, then this might be replaced with technology (in which case the sub-categories can also work).

I have other categories as well but you get the idea and, depending on your genre, may not be relevant to your story.

Anyways, I’m rambling again which means it’s time to sign off… Toodles for now. And remember, no matter where you live, take a little time to enjoy the island life! Happy Writing!

Goals & Motivations // Intro | Character Series

Waddup Savi Crew!

Last week, I continued my Character series where I used the final four characters—from my own Episode story Manhattan Prep—to demonstrate the strength and weaknesses of the 16 different personality types utilising the 16Personalities profiles. If you missed that blog post, feel free to check it out here.

This week, as promised, I will be discussing character goals and motivations. I think this is what makes characters just like us and is the difference between a good character and a great character.

Now before I dive in to our topic at hand, I usually like to start with a definition. What is a goal? What is a motivation? Are they mutually exclusive? Can they be used interchangeably? Well, let’s see.

The definition of goal, according to Wikipedia:

“A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve.”

By that same token, the definition of motivation, according to Wikipedia:

Motivation is the reason for people’s actions, willingness and goals. Derived from the word motive, it is a need that requires satisfaction.”

So to answer the question, can they be used interchangeably, the short answer is no. Goal = desired future result. Motivation = reason or need. Clearly they don’t mean the same thing. But the bigger point is that your character needs both of these traits to feel real to a reader. Lemme explain.

If your character does not have a goal, what is the point of the entire story? Readers aren’t going to invest any time into reading a story where the character roams aimlessly on a train that has no destination or end. No Sir! No Ma’am!

Worse yet, if your character has zero motivation then their actions have no purpose. First they do this, then they do that and we aren’t really sure why. Sounds like a snoozefest, doesn’t it? Because if the character has no motivation—i.e. doesn’t care—why should we?

Let me demonstrate with a character that’s not from my Episode story. Rather she hails from my Catholic fiction WIP, The Magnum Empire. Her name is Ilanah and she is the servant to the new leader of the Empire. Ilanah’s goal is to keep herself and her baby brother, Eiran safe. It doesn’t change from the story’s beginning to its end which, by the way, is not a requirement—goals can change.

Ilanah’s motivation is survival. Her people are oppressed, live in abject poverty and all she wants to do is make it out on the other side (and yes, motivations can also change). Since her motivation is to survive, it drives all her actions. She is willing to serve the Empire as she feels it will help shield her family from the incumbent leader’s evil activities.

This works for a while until she ends up betraying them to the Sacred Circle since she feels that power will shift in the circle’s favour. Later on in the story, she betrays the circle when (let’s say, for the sake of not wading into spoiler territory) her situation changes and she needs to protect Eiran. Remember, survival drives her actions and the desired result is keeping her and her brother safe.

Because she had a clear goal and motivation, it wasn’t hard for me to write her character arc. It wasn’t just she did this, then did that; it was more cause-and-effect instead of random. Characters’ goals should be just as important to the character as it is to readers. Two different characters can have the same goal with different—and to make for better reading, opposite—motivations. Because opposite motivations means instant conflict.

Next week, I will be temporarily suspending my Character / Setting / Plot series in order to primarily focus on April Camp NaNoWriMo preparations. Be sure to look out for that blog post especially if you’re thinking about participating / have participated / don’t even know what I’m talking about, etc. After Camp Nano is over I will resume with Goals & Motivations using examples from my Episode story, Manhattan Prep.

Anyways, I’m rambling again which means it’s time to sign off… Toodles for now. And remember, no matter where you live, take a little time to enjoy the island life! Happy Writing!

The Final Four // Personality Types | Character Series

Waddup Savi Crew!

Last week, I continued my Character series where I used four more of my own characters—from my Episode story Manhattan Prep—to demonstrate the strength and weaknesses of the 16 different personality types utilising the 16Personalities profiles. If you missed that blog post, feel free to check it out here.

Sadly, this week is the final week where I will be featuring the final four characters who display the final four personality types. As mentioned in the previous weeks, these will be minor characters. Today’s minor characters: Kate’s overprotective father, Mr. Bishop; Manhattan Prep soccer drill sergeant, Coach Campbell; teacher’s pet and school genius, Adam; and Manhattan Prep school principal, Headmaster Lee.

You know the drill, a quick disclaimer: The personality profiles listed below were sourced from the official Myers-Briggs Foundation website: https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types

Mr. Kevin Bishop is Kate’s father who is a CPA for Spencer & Sons, a London-based firm and is extremely overprotective of his two children—sometimes to the point of being unreasonable. His late wife, Krystal—who died thirteen years ago—was a MENSA member; his daughter, Kate is a five-time Mathlete award winner and his son, Kyle is a budding scientist. He has a hard time letting Kate move to New York to attend Manhattan Prep. Mr. Bishop is an ISFJ.

ISFJ (Introverted + Sensing + Feeling + Judging) – “Defender” | Defenders need to know when to say no and stand up for themselves. | Strengths: Supportive; reliable and patient; imaginative and observant; enthusiastic; loyal and hard-working; good practical skills. | Weaknesses: Humble and shy; take things too personally; repress their feelings; overload themselves; reluctant to change; too altruistic

Coach Campbell is Manhattan Prep’s sports coach who is in charge of the school’s varsity football and soccer teams. He is an old-fashioned, male chauvinist who believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen—not the soccer field. He fails to put Leah in the soccer team despite her obvious talent. Later he seemingly reconsiders however it is later revealed that he is merely allowing the soccer players to victimize her. Coach Campbell is an ENFJ.

ENFJ (Extroverted + iNtuitive + Feeling + Judging) – “Protagonist” | Protagonists are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. | Strengths: Tolerant; reliable; charismatic; altruistic; natural leaders. | Weaknesses: Overly idealistic; too selfless; too sensitive; fluctuating self-esteem; struggle to make tough decisions.

Adam is a budding scientist and comic book enthusiast. He attends Comic Con every year with his fellow Mathletes. He mostly spends time by himself unless someone requires a favour from him, be it Science or Math-related. Although socially awkward, and the occasional teacher’s pet brown-noser, he ultimately becomes friends with Dario and Logan thus greatly improving his social status by their popular association. Adam is an INTP.

INTP (Introverted + iNtuitive + Thinking + Perceiving) – “Logician” | Logicians are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic. | Strengths: Great analysts and abstract thinkers; imaginative and original; open-minded; enthusiastic; objective; honest and straightforward. | Weaknesses: Very private and withdrawn; insensitive; absent-minded; condescending; loathe rules and guidelines; second-guess themselves.

Headmaster Masaru Lee is the school principal for Manhattan Prep. A man of few words, he runs a tight ship when it comes to his administration and demands the very best—damn near ultimate perfection and excellence—when it comes to his faculty and students. A former Lieutenant General for the Imperial Japanese Army, he enjoys doing taekwondo and archery in his, albeit little, spare time. Headmaster Lee is an ESFJ.

ESFJ (Extroverted + Sensing + Feeling + Judging) – “Consul” | Consuls are altruists, taking seriously their responsibility to do the right thing. | Strengths: Strong practical skills; strong sense of duty; very loyal; sensitive and warm; good at connecting with others. | Weaknesses: Worried about their social status; inflexible; reluctant to innovate or improvise; vulnerable to criticism; often too needy; too selfless.

Next week, we’ll be tackling another character trait—two actually, that go hand-in-hand: goals and motivations. Naturally I will be illustrating with my own characters from the Manhattan Prep series since I feel like you probably know them already (thus saving me from having to give backstory before sharing the said examples).

Anyways, I’m rambling again which means it’s time to sign off… Toodles for now. And remember, no matter where you live, take a little time to enjoy the island life! Happy Writing!