Category: Blog

Living As An Aspiring Author: Writer Self-Care

Living As An Aspiring Author: Writer Self-Care

The countdown has begun. I officially have twenty-two weeks and a day until my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” releases. To sum it up, that’s five months and fifteen days. Needless to say, I am feeling the pressure and I am completely exhausted. All I really want to do is crawl into my bed and sleep through all the madness that is to come. Sadly, I do not have that luxury nor is my sleeping skill at that level (I’m still training).

Still, this got me thinking. Being a writer is a stressful job. Whether you write full-time, part-time or whenever you can manage to find the time, this is not a road for the faint of heart. However, like anyone, we writers sometimes need to take a break. We need to refuel our creative chi and show ourselves a little bit of that TLC. If you don’t, you’re likely to have a complete shutdown, hit writer’s block, have a general freak out or maybe all three.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with a short list detailing some of the ways I relax when the writer’s life just becomes too much.

First, sometimes you’re going to have to take a break from your writing. I know that sounds like terrible advice. You want to finish your novel. You want to publish it, so, the world can see your genius and you can finally kick your feet up and let the royalties pour in, right?

Well, not to be a downer but the publishing process is so much more than writing. Honestly, writing is just the first step among many. So, even though you think taking a short break from your work-in-progress is going to set you back by a lot, it won’t. After the writing, there’s the querying (if you’re taking the traditional route), the editing, the betas, the marketing, and etc. Therefore, it’s not as big a loss as you think.

Not to mention, that taking a break can make your writing better. Have you ever read anything you wrote when your mind was a cloudy mess? It’s not pretty, is it? So, this means step away from the keyboard and breathe. It makes your writing better when you can approach then manuscript with a clear head and it’s just good for your health. Stress attacks are not fun.

Another way to show your writing-self some TLC, is by watching inspirational movies. Specifically, inspirational movies related to writing or literature are really helpful. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. It’s the same logic that makes us seek out inspirational quotes to read on all our social media. We need a reminder that there are those who came before us, struggled, and succeeded.

Personally, I am inclined toward the movies “Magic Beyond Words: The  J.K. Rowling Story” (it’s no longer available on Netflix sadly)  and “The Dead Poet’s Society.” If you know anything about J.K. Rowling, you’ll be familiar with her backstory and how she went from rags to riches. Seriously. The movie depicts her struggles with writing, as well as some of her more personal challenges in life. Every time I watch this movie, I get geared up to take on the world. Honestly, by the end of the movie, I feel so unstoppable and so moved. Highly recommended.

Now, “The Dead Poets Society” may be a bit of a shocker. I’m not sure if many will consider it inspirational and it does get pretty dark at several points. However, the movie is about comradery, love of writing and reading, it’s about the classics, and leaving an impression on the people you meet. Basically, I am a total fangirl for this movie and it’s one of the reasons I decided to pursue my dreams of writing. I want to inspire people the same way Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) inspired his students.

My third tip is to hang out with other writers. Of course, this one can be a bit challenging because when you hang out with other writers, you want to talk about writing. There’s nothing wrong with talking a bit of shop but here are some suggestions on what you could do instead.

  • Take a short writing trip to reconnect with your muses: Nothing inspires like travel my friends.
  • Book Conference: At his/her core, every writer is a lover of books.
  • Movie Night: Suggestions above.

Okay, here are my last two pieces of advice. They’re very simple. For some writer TLC, you need to go outside. Writing can sometimes be a very lonely job and you’re often cooped up indoors all day. As lame as it may sound, fresh air really will do you some good. And if you’re an introvert, you don’t necessarily have to go outside with people. Lone hikes are a great way to clear your mind.

Lastly, reading! Sometimes you write so much, you forget why you started writing in the first place: Because you love to read. ‘Nough said.

 

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me how you lovelies relax after a long day of writing? What writing/literary movies inspire you?

Living As An Aspiring Author: Time Management Is Key

Living As An Aspiring Author: Time Management Is Key

Time management is probably a skill listed on every college graduates resume in the last three decades. It’s something we all have to do but we’re all not necessarily good at. For writers (aspiring, traditionally published, self-published, etc), being mediocre at managing your time isn’t really an option. I think this skill is even more crucial when you’re self-publishing but I’m going to try to speak generally here.

Currently, I’m planning for my novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” to come out in the next five to six months. This deadline essentially means that I’m in crunch time! And what I’ve realized since entering crunch time is that I’m already so far behind where I need to be. I seriously had no clue how many steps behind I was and now I’m racing to catch up.

My social media interaction isn’t where it needs to be, so, I’ve been really pushing it. I’ve outlined optimal posting times for my different accounts and have started planning specific content that needs to be posted. Additionally, I plan on hosting a blog tour and Facebook release party as part of my publication process. Oh, how lovely it would be if these things could magically plan themselves but sadly I still haven’t received my Hogwarts letter, so, I’m stuck handling things the muggle way.

Now, like any aspiring author I have to eat! So, that means I need to work. A few weeks ago, I did a video on my YouTube channel about the different ways aspiring authors can earn money. Since returning from visiting friends across the pond, I’ve been putting these resources to work. Sometimes I’ve applied to eight or more jobs on the freelance website I use, several on Wyzant and I’m hoping to get another request on Rover soon, too.

The good news is that my work’s paying off. I’ve found two steady freelance jobs that don’t take up too much of my writing time. However, when you’re in crunch time, you don’t really have any extra time to give. Each day is another step in my marketing strategy. I’ve set up monthly goals for myself that I check on regularly to complete. I’m still working with betas and am prepping myself to make the necessary edits. I’m also working on my second work-in-progress “The Woman in the Tree” which I’m planning to complete with the Chance Challenge writing challenge. Oh, and did I mention the outline for “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” sequel needs to get done?

Yeah, it’s pretty much a crap show right now. A pretty, bookish crap show but still a crap show. 🙂

Through all of this, two things have been keeping me together: (1) Self-care. Gotta know when enough is enough and when it’s time to take a breather. (2) Time management –hence the title–because my type A personality needs order to get things done. I have found the beauty in Google calendar; I have been re-energized by my new white board. I can’t even remember what life was like before my smart phone was synced to all my calendars and “to-do” lists.

And thought I’d like to think I’ll be able to let time management fall to the wayside once “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” (#PCEGS) is published, I now realize this is a never-ending journey. Sure, I’ll have more time to relax between novels but as an author who wants to one day live off her writing, my mind, your mind, always has to be on the next steps. Readers need to stay excited about your work and that’s done through social media meaning we need to be active on said social media. We need to constantly build connections with bloggers, reviewers, and booktubers. We need to always be writing, planning, and marketing.

So, this crazy train never stops and it’s usually bumpy but damn isn’t it fun. 🙂

If you want to follow me as I take up the writing challenge #ChanceChallenge, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. 50,000 words in one month? Can I do it?

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Essentials for Author Websites

Essentials for Author Websites

Essentials for Newbie Author Sites:

The saying  is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” yet we do. In that same sentiment, it would be great if readers didn’t judge authors by their websites (or lack thereof) but they do. Not to sound all preachy but an author’s site is the impression they give to the world. Like all social media, an author’s site is representative of the author. Unlike other social media, a website is more stagnant. It’s like the home base to all your branding. But why am I harping on about author’s websites?

Recently, after a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of hair pulling, I’ve got my author website up and running properly. I’d like to say I feel happy at this moment but, honestly, I feel relief more than anything else.

While getting my site together I did a little research into what makes a “good author site.” I also looked at the sites of several successful authors I know and even reached out to one author because her site was so beautiful. Long story short, I’ve got some second-hand information, firsthand information and some lessons I’ve learned from my own mistakes.

After all that here are a few things I think all authors (aspiring, newbie or otherwise) should include on their website.

1. Books Page

The Books Page or tab on an author’s site lists all the books (stand alone or series) they’ve written and usually offers a short description with the cover. This page is essential because it lists everything you’ve ever written, including your old work that you aren’t currently promoting. If a reader falls in love with your fifth book and they check out your site, they’ll know you have other work available and may decide to purchase those books, as well.

Also, I think this page is a necessity even for aspiring authors. Why? Because you can list your works-in-progress here. Basically, it’s another form of promotion. If you’re marketing yourself like a boss on twitter and someone decides to check out your site, they’ll see all your WIPs (works in progress) and the name recognition will continue from there.

2. About Me

 Has anything ever been harder to write? The About Me section is equivalent to the “Tell me about yourself” question in a job interview. Initially, your mind goes totally blank and you probably stumble or stutter for a moment. Well, I did, at least.

Here are a few tips about this section. First, don’t put too much personal information in your response. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you’re from (insert city name) but going into which neighborhood you live in or giving away too many landmarks can be dangerous. I mean, no one likes stalkers, right?

Okay, next. The About Me section should let visitors know what genres you write. Of course, your site as a whole should give insight into that but this section should make it very clear. You don’t have to list the genres but somewhere in your description it should be made apparent if you write Christian romance or horror.

Lastly, try to keep this section short while still telling you story (how you became interested in writing, why you write in your genres, etc) and make sure to intertwine some interesting facts about yourself in here, too or you can list additional facts at the bottom of the page. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why? What a silly habit did you have as a kid? I want to know.

You can check out my About Me here. As you’ll see, I kept the section pretty short and left any additional “fun facts” for the bottom

3. Contact Me Page

Initially, I didn’t understand why I needed a Contact Me page when I could just post my social media links. Then, I set up one and I realized how convenient these pages can be. First, they should be connected to your professional author email which makes messages easier to manage. Instead of getting a Facebook message, a Tweet, a message on Instagram and etc, all of the communications are coming via one channel.

Also, even though social media is supposed to be social, introverts use it, too (Yay, introverts!). So, some people may feel tweeting at you or tagging you in a Facebook post is too public. In these situations, Contact Me pages are problem solvers.

4. Banner

 A banner or cover image is going to be the first thing visitors see when they stop by your website. Whatever this image is it should be representative of you, your brand, your work, etc. Check out Terry Maggert’s website. He has a changing image but what matters here is that Terry writes fantasy and he’s known for having strong female characters. Every image in his slide, especially the first one is representative of these aspects of his writing.

My banner (which isn’t as nice as Terry’s) combines my two favorite colors that are also present throughout the site. Both the colors are dark and the font is a sort of Gothic-like script that speaks to the fact I write dark fantasy. Finally, the “Write your way through life” is a sort of tag I use on all my social media.

What’s great about banners is they don’t have to be fancy (just professional) and they can be done before you publish your first book. I’d check out Kim Chance’s site for a great example of a banner.

5. Photos

 Even if you don’t have cover images yet, you need photos on your site. Photos not only help break down the longer portions of text on your site but they let your visitors actually see you. What I mean is that photos make you more of a real person to readers, despite the computer or phone screen separating you. Does that make sense?

If you’re also an artist, you can include cover sketches on your Books Page. Just a thought.

With photos, the important thing to remember is that they’re clear, not too cluttered, have a good background and are symbolic of you. 🙂

 

What other questions do you peeps have about author sites? Better yet, what do you all think about my website? I’m always looking for feedback.

 

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Cover Artists: Tips On Finding The One

Cover Artists: Tips On Finding The One

I am ecstatic to announce I’ve found a cover artist! After reaching out to almost twenty (maybe more) artists, I have finally found the one. Benlin Alexander.

He’s experienced, has a great portfolio and is totally invested in bringing my characters to life.

But before finding Benlin, I had to do several rounds of– what felt like–cover artist speed-dating. There were even a few times I came close to sealing the deal, only to change my mind at the last minute, deciding to listen to my gut.

Needless to say, this was a lot of extra stress and, in hindsight; the process could have been easier if I had done a few things differently. Still, I learned from my mistakes and I want you to, as well. Here are some tips on finding the right cover artist.

1) Ask yourself if you want an illustrated cover or a photographed cover

Knowing if you want an illustrated cover or to use photographs, helps to narrow down the list of candidates. If you googled “cover artists” right now, you’d be overwhelmed with the results.  Setting up specifications in advance makes the selection process easier.

Now, you’re probably wondering how to pick between the two? I feel your pain. I’ve seen amazing covers done in both mediums. What it really comes down to is the skill of the artist but there are a few other factors to consider, as well.

If you’re writing a middle grade or lower young adult novel, chances are you’ll do best with an illustrated cover. Your target audience is probably going to range from eight to seventeen (general MG/YA age range because kids read up), so, you’re going to want a design that gets the young ones grabbing at your book.

You need to think about pricing, too. Illustrated covers are more expensive than photographs. Premade photo covers are the cheapest. Custom photo covers are more expensive but, also, more original because you get to actually talk with the artist about what you want. A lot of artists who make photo covers use stock images. Nothing’s wrong with that, as long as they disguise it well. The alternative option is to hire models. Just remember that can get pricey.

2) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

I briefly commented on this above. What I’m saying here is that you should talk to several artists, not just one. Narrowing down your list of options is key and even ranking the artists in terms of who you want the most is fine. However, don’t shrink your list until there are only a few candidates left.

Sometimes artists are too busy to take on new projects, they’re not interested in your particular project, they may have a personal leave or they may be out of your price range. Basically, there are a lot of reasons they could tell you “no.” Therefore, you need to keep your options open and plan to contact many artists.

It may feel kind of like “cheating” but at this stage in the process you haven’t made any commitments and neither have they. You’re just trying to get the best deal and if you have to turn a few artists down, I think they’ll appreciate your honesty vs. dragging them along.

3) Reach Out to Other Authors for Advice

I’m not suggesting you message random authors. Random DMs are always a bad idea. Instead, if it’s an author you don’t know personally, do a little digging and see who designed their covers. Of course, you want to make sure you actually like their covers before doing this part.

If you have a group of authors you know personally and can turn to, this is the time!!! Ask them any and everything about finding the right cover artist. Inquire into what sources they used.

I have several friends who are authors, too, but there are three that I call my “Author Trifecta.” I turn to these ladies for almost any writing or publishing question I have. They have several more years’ experience than me, so, their advice is solid. Actually, during my search for the right artist, they helped me snuff out a few who were trying to get over on me or were giving me a bad deal.

4) Do Your Own Sketches First

When you come with a plan, the process itself is much easier. As the author, you know your book better than anyone and it’s likely you have a few ideas racing around anyway, so, why not put them on paper? They don’t even have to be good. They just need to convey a concept or mood.

Now, my designer is actually going to read my book before doing the design because he wants to fully understand the story prior to starting. However, I don’t know if this is the norm with most cover artists. I think most just go based on what the author says, what’s trending currently or what they’ve seen in the industry.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with this route. All I’m saying is that every author wants that personal touch to their cover. Because each artist is different with a different schedule, it’s really up to us authors to give them as much as we can about our story in order for them to draw it out.

5) Have A Completion Date In Mind

Artists need to know when you want the cover done by because they’re likely to have several projects at once. Having a deadline in mind not only makes the artist more likely to accept the job but it actually ensures your work will get done in a reasonable amount of time.

Imagine if you were a cover artist and a client said you could complete their cover whenever. If you have several other deadlines and clients, aren’t you more likely to push the no-deadline project to the back burner?

Make sense, right?

Well, that’s all I have right now. Honestly, I could talk about this in even more detail than I am now but the post is getting long.

If you have any extra tips or questions, let me know in the comments or message me. I’m always up for some conversation.

A Writer’s Anxiety–What the Heck Have I Done?

A Writer’s Anxiety–What the Heck Have I Done?

Like most people, I question myself. I question if my bachelor’s degree was really worth the debt I acquired, I question if I actually need my master’s degree and, more recently, I question if I should toss my writing dreams aside and just become a cog in the corporate machine.

Honestly, the thought of giving up makes the world around me fade a bit. When I picture working in a cubicle, sitting at a desk with my computer background image as the cat swinging on a branch saying “Hang in there,” it’s like I’ve stepped into a black & white cartoon. All the color’s gone out of life and everything, eventually, becomes a dull gray.

Then, the anxiety kicks in and my mind travels several years into the future where I’m either homeless or a complete failure in terms of my writing. Friends have gone on with their careers to be successful. They’ve built families, been promoted and don’t have to take deep breaths every time a bill comes in the mail. And I’m just there, an aspiring writer, still holding on to a dream that has turned its back to me, proving that writing wasn’t my path and I wasted my life…

Dark, right? Welcome to my world. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who’s had these feelings. I’m also sure I won’t be the last writer to have them either. As horrible as it may sound, I think self-doubt and anxiety come with our territory, guys.

Now, looking at my last post, you may think what could have happened in those two weeks to today to make me go all gloom and glum on you. Well, there are several things but one BIG thing: All the little blocks I had in place two weeks ago…well not all of them are in place now. Actually, many of them are more like rubble than blocks at the moment.

To be honest, I think the only things that’s kept me from tossing my computer and all its content out the window are friends and travel.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been traveling in Germany for the past few weeks. My friends have been housing me at their apartment basically free of charge, so, I’ve been able to keep my expenses low. What I haven’t been able to tamper down is how wonderful it feels to travel again.

Traveling invigorates the soul, it gives me a new outlook, it makes me remember there’s always another adventure around the corner. I just have to be willing to look for it.

Not to mention that writing is essentially an adventure, right?

Benjamin Franklin said it first: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

So, I’m writing and doing. On this blog, I’m writing about my publication journey and all the fears of working as a full-time writer. And I’m also doing. I’m traveling. I’m trying to learn another language. I’m putting myself out there and working as an independent journalist. I’m opening myself up to new people and waiting to see if they become part of my net or if they fade out of my life. Whatever happens, I know I’m both writing and I’m doing.


And you should be, too. If you’re in a rut or some sort of downward spiral, go write, go do! The idea of we writers always being locked up in our room with a gray cloud over us, banging away at a type writer is ridiculous. We’re brave, we’re adventurers and we’re on a journey that so few are strong enough to take up.

So, let me know where you’re at in your writing. What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how did you overcome them?

What writing or doing did you do today? There are no wrong answers. Just know you’re not in this alone.  🙂

Cover Designs, Negotiations & Other Writing Stress

Cover Designs, Negotiations & Other Writing Stress

Whoever said “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” hit the nail right on the head. Currently, where I’m at in my writing journey, I feel like lots of things are going right. The novel is completely edited, betas are reading my story, I finally found a dependable critique partner and I’m even in negotiations with a cover designer. Woot woot!

So, yeah, a few things are going great. That’s not to say everything is wonderful and amazing over here but we’ll save that for a little later. 🙂

What I’ve noticed is that as many great doors open up for me, I find myself spending less time writing. Not to mention, my stress level is sky rocketing, as well but let’s start with writing.

Honestly, it’s kinda been pushed to the back burner which is frustrating because , like I said in my last post, writing is the reason I’m putting myself through all this craziness. Craziness meaning spirals of self-doubt, three side jobs to pay the bills, savings to pay the bills, trial-and-error marketing attempts, and lots more. I mean I’m technically “vacationing” right now but I’m still working online and the main point of my trip to Germany is to look at graduate schools.

Now, obviously, these are good problems to have. Beta readers are like holy beings to we aspiring writers. Not to mention, the idea of finally seeing your story presented as a cover gives every writer the happy tingles in their tummy…or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, what I’m trying to get across is that even though I’m blessed to have more “good” problems than bad” problems, they’re still problems.

But if I sound like a whiny baby here (#firstworldproblems), let’s take a gander at the “bad” problems…

So, first, my lovely betas who I adore because they’re the best? I need more of them. I thought getting betas would be so easy. I mean, you’re basically giving people the chance to read a book for free. Who wouldn’t take that opportunity? Apparently, a lot of people because, let me tell you, getting the seven betas I have was no easy picnic.

I had to do more asking than actually having people seek me out to be a beta reader which is a bit embarrassing but, hey, I’m supposed to be 100 with you peeps.

Beyond betas, marketing is a pain in the badonkadonk (the butt). I’ve had a revelation about my previous marketing strategy that I now realize is completely flawed. By setting up social media accounts ahead of PC&EGS’ completion, I thought I was ahead of the curve. What I’ve realized is that while I’ve networked like a boss with other writers, I can’t say the same about readers.

Yeah, that was real dumb on my part.

So, here I stand. Happy, questioning, hating myself for my bad marketing, over-worked and full of that lovely feeling we writers call self-doubt. But, hey, at least I’m not there alone.

Where are you peeps in your writing journey? You ready to pull your hair out like me?

I’ll Never Be As Good As (Insert Other Writer’s Name): Why Comparing Yourself to Others Is One of the Worst Things A Writer Can Do

I’ll Never Be As Good As (Insert Other Writer’s Name): Why Comparing Yourself to Others Is One of the Worst Things A Writer Can Do

Sometimes I really feel like banging my head into a wall. Seriously. I just want to hit it until all the negativity stops and I transform into a magical, positive butterfly. Because, like many writers, I have days where I think everything I’ve ever written and will write is complete garbage. This feeling is further intensified when I venture onto social media and see the success of other authors, especially those who are around the same age as me.

Now, don’t think I’m some hateful, jealous, bitter individual. I’m not. There are just days when I can’t stand to see another author post about how they’ve gotten whatever number of reviews, had another thousand people subscribe to their channelor received a jaw-dropping book deal. Because as I’m seeing their success, all I see is my own failure.

Sounds like I’m putting myself down, right? Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing which is why it’s totally pointless. The same days I go on these downward spirals of comparison and “why can’t I,” tend to be my least productive writing days, as well. Since I’m so busy beating myself down and foaming at the mouth at others’ successes, I forget about what I really need to be doing: Writing.

I mean, after all, writing is the reason I put myself through a ton of mess in my life. I could be like one of those non-writer peeps and go to the typical 9 to 5 where I get paid consistently and with a good amount of money but I opted out of that self-inflicted torture for this one instead.

But I’m getting off topic. What I’m trying to say is that comparing yourself to another writer is a waste of time. While you’re doing that self-harming nonsense, you could be writing or working–if you’re not writing full-time–and you could be marketing or at least learning how to because that skill comes in handy in the industry. Trust me.

And I know what I’m saying is easier said than done. I haven’t completely mastered it myself but what I do know is that every moment I waste foaming at the mouth, is a moment I’m pushed a step further from becoming the writer I want to be and being able to help other writers.


Not to mention that writing isn’t a spontaneous act. Writing is all about growth and development. I’m sure who Stephen King was when “Carrie” released is not the same writer he is now. As writers, we’re on a constant path of development because things change in our lives and those changes affect our writing. Through time, practice and patience (which I lack more often than not) we hone our skills and we’re always a bit better than we were before.

In the words of David Schlosser, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”

So, let’s all take a vow. Let’s promise to minimize how often and how long we get the “I’ll never be as good a writer as (Insert Name)” thoughts and recognize that we’re better than the writer we were yesterday and that’s worth something. Let’s give those negative thoughts a tenth of our attention before we turn to our keyboard or notepads and get lost in our own worlds.

I don’t think I’m alone in my aspiring writer struggles. What other challenges do you peeps go through?

What I Learned from “When Dimple Met Rishi”

What I Learned from “When Dimple Met Rishi”

I’ve been reading more young-adult contemporary lately and the more I read the more I drool over this literary category. Maybe because it takes me back to my teen years and ignites those feelings of uncertainty but longing expectation of the first love. Maybe I’ve just been reading some really good writing because with every YA contemporary I read; I find myself fangirling out over the author. Similar to how I reacted after reading “Elanor & Park”, I find myself wanting to learn any and everything about Sandhya Menon, author of “When Dimple Met Rishi.”
If you’re a big reader of YA contemporary you’ve probably heard of this book and maybe even read it already. For me, this novel was introduced via a Booktuber book club I’m a part of on GoodReads. It was the June pick for the club and based on my pre-reading “research” the text had a lot of hype around it. I try to avoid hype like the plague but when I saw the cover my interest peeked. Then, when I read the short blurb informing me the two main characters were Indian youth who were first-generation Americans, I knew I had to read it.
I’m a total advocate for more minorities in media (I have a few essays I should probably look into getting published), especially as the main characters. Additionally, I love cross-cultural reading and my college study abroad experience was in India, so, you could say I have a soft spot.
Like any reader, you go in with a few expectations based on the blurb. I knew there was going to be a little romance, some teen angst and the like. What I didn’t expect is to find myself laughing out loud in public as I devoured the novel like it was last Snickers Bar on earth. I didn’t expect to become so invested in the characters either but the fact that I did is a nod to the author’s ability to write characters readers actually care about. However, what was most unexpected was the lesson I learned after reading this novel…
“When Dimple Met Rishi” is not for me nor is it for “us”, meaning people who are outside of the Indian community. Now, when I say “not for me” I don’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the novel or that all the praise I gave above is false. What I mean is I feel like the story was written for all to enjoy with a special laser focus on American teenagers who are of Indian descent. The same way Beyonce’s “Formation” was written for black women but can be appreciated by all people; “When Dimple Met Rishi” was written for Indian teens but can be enjoyed by all.
As a black woman, this realization was both odd and interesting to me. So often in America race is talked about in terms of black and white.
Dominance and oppression are talked about in terms of black and white. And even though I’m a traveled person, have had friends of varying backgrounds, have stood in alliance with friends who are part of other marginalized communities, this book made opened my eyes even wider. In a way, it was a little humbling actually.
“When Dimple Met Rishi” isn’t for me and that’s okay! I still loved the novel, still followed Sandhya Menon on all her social media (I promise I’m not a stalker) and I still want to buy some WDMR merchandise. Because in the end, the biggest win here is that a minority story is being told by an author who is a part of that minority and she’s introducing groups of people to a culture they may have never encountered. In the process of doing this, she’s also humanizing people of color, particularly brown people, to readers who may not fit that description.
All I can say is I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Breaking Up With Characters

Breaking Up With Characters

Like many authors, life experiences inspire me. I draw from these experiences and write them into my work as a way of trying to understand them. Many of the characters you find in my work are similar to people I’ve met in real life. These are people that have influenced or affected me…just not consistently in a positive way.

Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw that a guy I once had feelings for was getting married. To be honest, I wasn’t shocked. Marriage and living a clean, wholesome life were on his to-do list. I expected this. More importantly, I’m in my own relationship. Still, I had to stop and stare at the photo of him and his fiance. Like we all do when Facebook stalking someone (he and I actually never dated, mind you), I put most of my eyeball focus on the new, lucky lady. Immediately, I begin to analyze her for her secret. How did she get him to fall in love with her, even start liking her? This was a task I could never achieve.

No matter how much I listened to him, sought him out for advice, tried to alter my views to fit his world perspective, we just never clicked. Some would say I should have told him about my feelings and maybe I should have. But we were working at a religious summer camp and he was “reborn.” If memory serves me correctly, he wasn’t even open to dating and was on some sort of cleanse which, of course, was his own right.

When the camp ended, months passed before I decided to check in on him to see how his new life was going. I had wanted to wait, hoped he would check in on me and the conversation could go from there with us eventually messaging one another constantly. Of course, that didn’t happen. What made it worse is that after I messaged him and we chatted for a bit, he never messaged me again. Like it was a one-time deal that I had initiated and he had no interest in reciprocating.

Now, I think it should be mentioned that this guy is the nicest person ever. Don’t let this post fool you. He’s not some stuck up jerk who played me which makes it even harder admitting this. The truth is that whatever I was, am, no matter how much I tried to mesh into his world, well, I didn’t fit and he saw that. Honestly, he was probably aware of it from the beginning. I was the dummy walking around in a fantasy.


So, yes, I was delusional but not blind. Looking at him now, I see that even after we stopped talking, he made an appearance in some of my writing. Sometimes he was the unachievable nice guy, other times the misunderstood bad boy that I had to work hard for and he even made an appearance as my boyfriend a few times. It blows my mind how after all this time he’s popping into my work. I didn’t even realize it at first. And he’s definitely not alone.

Family and friends I love or hate have made their appearances, as well. If anyone thinks using writing as a therapy is bull, just read some of my stuff and you’ll see it isn’t. The fact is what I live is what I write and what I write is what I’ve lived. And there’s no way of denying that. 🙂

Write Your Way Through Life???

Write Your Way Through Life???

When I was trying to come up with a slogan for my author platform I wracked my brain for days. I wanted something that was easily remembered, unique, and representative of me, as well as my writing. However, my first few attempts either felt forced or were too dramatic. I don’t even want to list them here because that’s how embarrassing they are. Let’s just say my early slogans came off like something from a bad self-help book you find in the dollar store–catchy, corny and questionable.

Anyway, at some point, I eventually reverted to the basics. I’m talking about the five w’s: who, what, when, where, why, and how. I started asking myself the following questions:

Who did I want to reach?
Readers and aspiring writers.

What was I going to reach them with?
My writing, fingers crossed.

When was I going to do this?
ASAP!!!!!

Where was I going to do this?
Since it’s 2017, online, of course.

How was I going to do this?
Through my writing with an organized online platform.

Why was I doing this?
Many reasons! The two biggest ones being I want to entertain and inspire people. The same way so many authors are responsible for kindling the fire inside of me, I wanted to do that for others, too. And if in the process of sparking all these soul fires, a few people chose the path of writing with the same goal as mine at their forefront, well the more the merrier!

What I believe is the more writers we have the more souls we can spark. Writing isn’t simply a job or a chore. It’s an art form and art breathes life into those who aren’t sure if they have any left.

Now don’t get me wrong. I dream of the day I can live off my writing. However, I am sure if that day never comes, I’ll still be writing because writing has always been there. Just like books, it’s a constant companion, a never-moving shoulder for me to cry on, and an always-open-ear for me to blab into. Here’s an example.


Once, when I was still a naive preteen, my oh-so-perfect cousin questioned my decision to wear leggings. According to her, my thighs weren’t the right size for them. I remember feeling kind of like an emptying shock at her words. The words came from her mouth but I didn’t understand their purpose. Did she really think my thighs were that big? Was she just trying to be mean?

I didn’t know and don’t know the answer to either of those questions. What I do know is that after her words, I went in my room and sat quietly on my bed. After some time, that numb shocking feeling dissolved and was replaced by a tsunami of anger. I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and oh, damn, I wanted to hit her! I wanted to knock all her teeth out of her perfect little face but that was sure to get me a smack from my grandmother.

Still, I needed to get it out. I needed to let the storm rage or it was going to tear me up inside. So, I turned to the best medium I had: writing, specifically blogging. I logged into my crappy Blogspot account and wrote a raw, fiery condemnation of her and the world’s lopsided beauty standards. I was pissed! I’m not sure how long I wrote. I only know I wrote until I wasn’t angry anymore, until I felt I had proven my point and could nod happily at the stretch of text I had created. In addition to that simple gratification, a few people even commented on the post backing me up.

I wasn’t alone in my fight.

Of course, this wasn’t the only time I puked my feelings onto the page or screen. Often, I would create characters much braver than me who could do the things I couldn’t. After a few years, I realized I had become these characters, at least a little bit.

So, when I say write your way through  life, I mean it. Write your way through the pain, the tears, the fears and yes,the smiles, too, because where there is the bad, there is the good. Writing is a healthy expression of the self, a way to inspire others and a great way to deal with, sometimes, uncontrollable emotions.

It’s also way more fun than prison. So that’s a perk! 😉

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