Tag Archives: Young Adult

DIARY POST 18: 2013 CONNECTIONS

World-flagsFrom time to time I like to look at my statistics. It fascinates me to see all the different countries/people who have visited my little blog. Trinidad and America are by far my most frequent visitors, but I have also been visited by many countries that I had not heard of. Call me unworldly. Geography was not my favourite subject. Oman, Latvia and Qatar are some of the new countries that I have discovered. It makes me think that we are all truly connected, if we want to be.

My blog has been visited over 3,000 times since I created it in February of this year. Although 3,319 hits is not a significant figure in the world of blogging, every view and visitor counts to me. I was fearful when I stared to blog. No one knows me, and I am blogging about writing a book about mermaids. Not the most popular topic. As this year comes to an end, I must say that I am glad that I tried. My only query with myself is that I should have blogged a lot more.

Before the end of 2013, I hope to give you a preview of my book cover or at least open the year with it. I was beyond excited when the artist, Mr. Jason Jarvis showed me his sketches. I am confident that I would love the finished product, and hope that you would too. Sure you can create a cover online, but I chose to invest a little more because I truly want to produce the best book that I can. That’s why I am forever editing, though I know I have to chillax and type ‘THE END’. (NB Haven’t decided if I am self-publishing so I might use the art work for other things).

Last month a few girls ages 12-21 read and review my manuscript. They all loved the story. Two of them pointed out that they wanted to see more development in a relationship. These girls do not know each other, and I too think I could do a little more work on that part. They didn’t expect the ending, and the girl who lives in the community where the story is based recognized the geography instantly. My supporting characters got some favour as well. Most importantly the girls were able to follow the story and understand the journey of my sometimes confused protagonist.

On Saturday I attended a meeting with a writers group I haven’t visited for a long time. They had a lot of new information and projects. It was very encouraging. I will be dedicating some of my time to support and work with them.

I feel positive and very grateful. It’s been a great year.

Expect Selima and the Merfolk the novel to be available in 2014.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support, and all the best for the new year.

DIARY POST 17: MY FIRST QUERY REJECTION

So far this week has been one of the most productive I’ve had for a long time. I am ready and willing to work, and best of all I am enjoying it. But sometimes things come along to test your faith, your patience, and your dedication. This week my test was a rejection email.

Yesterday I was rushing out of the office to meet with the Artist who will design my book cover. I was gathering my stuff when the email came through on my phone. Immediately, I recognized the name to be an agent I had queried. My heart skipped only one beat when I read that my request was declined. Very unlike my nature, I smiled. I knew with all my heart that that was not  a stumbling block in my way. I appreciate that he (the agent) replied to my email, because a lot of them do not. He was very respectful and encouraging. However, if I did not have a plan I might not have been able to receive his regards.

One thing I have learnt in my life is your attitude can delay your progress. I was certain that I would cry if I was rejected by an agent. When it happened  all I thought about was getting to my meeting on time.  I feel like I barely noticed that a door closed.

By this morning I was offered a wonderful opportunity pertaining to my novel, and I found $5.00, so what do I have to complain about.

A long time ago I decided that the only person that can hold me back is me. Of all the things I can do with myself right now, stressing makes the least sense.

This is a great message from Joel Osteen. http://www.joelosteen.com/Pages/MessageViewer.aspx?date=2013-11-14

DIARY POST 16: COMING SOON SELIMA AND THE MERFOLK, THE NOVEL

It’s been a while. I didn’t realize so much time had gone by until several of my subscribers asked if I had stopped writing for the blog. For weeks I couldn’t come up with anything worth writing about (pertaining to the diary). My manuscript was edited in August 2013 and I just stopped. I sent out a few queries, entered two competitions and that was it.

 About two weeks ago I was browsing Penguin.com and saw that they were affiliated with a few Print-on-Demand Publishers. That got me thinking … maybe self-publishing could be used as a stepping stone. I researched all of the associated publishers and a few others. At the end, I didn’t think it made sense for me to do anything more than print, get an ISBN number, and e-book format. I was hoping to be impressed or at least intrigued by their advertizing strategies, but none of them offered anything that I could not do for myself, or enlist one of my friends to do.

 Self-publishing is something I had hoped I would never have to consider. But the more I think about it the more I think I could make it work. Strategy is the key to any successful project, so that is what I am working on right now. I am excited with the ideas that I’ve come up with. I have also always been very open to taking advice, and so far it has proven to be helpful.

At this time four young readers ages 12-21 are reading Selima and the Merfolk. With their reviews I will move on to editing, again if necessary. For those of you who regularly read my post you might be saying ‘enough with the editing!’ I want my book to be mistake-free. I need to be a person of integrity. If I want people to buy my book I should do everything I can to produce the best product. It may not be the best of all but it should be the best that I can do.

 However good a writer is, they will always have critics. I know I will be criticized, but I do not want it to be because of silly errors. Not everyone would like mermaids, or the portrayal of the characters, and that is understandable. Millions of people think the concept of vampires is ridiculous, but that didn’t stop Stephanie Meyer from having one of the best-selling series of all time.

 As I revamp my journey I will be posting more frequently on:

https://selimaandthemerfolk.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/selimaandthemer

http://twitter.com/selimaandthemer

 Thanks for the support.

SELIMA AND THE MERFOLK REACHES 100 LIKES

100 LikesIt was so encouraging to get a notification that Selima and the Merfolk has reached 100 likes.

Thank you to –

All the bloggers who have liked my page.

Everyone who has taken the time to comment.

Everyone who has subscribed to the blog and my other social media platforms.

EVERY HIT, LIKE, TWEET, AND SUBSCRIPTION IS APPRECIATED

Smiley Thank You

SHAME ON MISSY

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A few months ago I wrote a post https://selimaandthemerfolk.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/theres-something-about-missy/ expressing love for my dog Missy. I’ve had her for over four years, and she is a joy most of the time.

Missy has full access to my house except for my bedroom. Although she is a very energetic dog, she doesn’t interfere with my stuff except for socks. She is a sock bandit. If I dare leave socks in my sneakers, she buries them under the mango tree.

On Sunday, I noticed that my first bedroom smelt pungent of dog odor. I was too lazy to mop, so I postponed it for later. Big mistake. What I smelt was actually dog urine. Missy peed on my mattress.

I keep a spare mattress in the front bedroom. I should have thrown it out early this year, when I bought a new one to replace it. I kept it so that I could throw it on the living room floor to sleep or watch TV (the new one is really heavy). Ever since I was a child, I liked sleeping on the living room floor. It was like camping to us kids. Now that I am an adult, I sleep in the living room almost as much as I sleep on my bed.

How do I discipline Missy for something like that? I won’t hit a dog, and I’d feel really stupid quarreling with her, after the fact.

Should I count this incident as isolated? She has not peed in the house for years.

What if she does it again? I can’t let her pee anywhere she pleases.

DIARY POST 15: ALL I COULD HAVE DONE WAS LAUGH

Laugh On Wednesday, I was on a role … or so I though. I found out about an opportunity to be published http://www.wednesdaypost.com.au/ For the better part of the day, my fingers were tap-dancing to the song ‘get your package together.’ Amen they only wanted a short synopsis and biography, along with chapters off course.

By lunch time, I was satisfied with what I had written, and my stomach had begun to demand sustenance. I am one of those people who cannot stay hungry. I bought myself a nice beef soup and came right back to work. All I needed to do was insert headers, page numbers and a cover page. Well, like my grandmother would say ‘the devil busy.’ It took almost an hour to get those three menial changed done. When I finally got everything looking nice and professional, I went to Harper Collins page and met this message:

Please return on Wednesday to make your submission

Have you ever heard a silent scream? Like when someone is paralyzed by fear, the sound doesn’t escape their mouth? That was my scream (I was in the library). I knew I was submitting to Australia, but I totally ignored that Australia is almost 13 hours ahead of Trinidad and Tobago.

At that point, there was nothing I could do but to submit next Wednesday. I was mad at myself because the time difference was a silly oversight. At the same time, I was excited to have started the submission process.

My mixed emotions resulted in me laughing myself out of the library. It was either that or grumble. At least I have everything ready, and will have a chance next Wednesday.

DIARY POST 14: WHICH IS SCARIER, SUCCESS OR FAILURE?

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Last Friday I wrote a post about querying literary agents. As I usually do, I read a number of posts similar to my topic. Many of these posts were about rejection. Rejection is a reality that any writer has to face. The first time I got a critique that did not pamper my ego, I was a mess. I could not separate my feelings from the words I had written.

Writing is personal. It is an extension of a subject matter you have made sense of; hence the reason writers and other artist are commonly emotionally attached to their work. But when you have done all you can do to write your best post, article, letter or novel, and you don’t submit it, are you afraid of success or failure?

When no one knows your work, you can live each day with the hope that if you were to submit that piece, everyone would love it. Some people rather that, like the store owner in The Alchemist who chose to dream of Mecca rather than to visit it. If your dream is safe in your heart, you can never fail or be disappointed. Failure is only possible when you attempt.

fearOn the other hand, if you send out your piece, you are exposing yourself to a chance to be ridiculed. A ‘No thank you’ is understandable, but not everyone can withstand a ‘This makes no sense. You have too many mistakes. That story would never sell.’

In submitting your work, you also open yourself to a Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling victory. Granted their level of victory is rare. It could happen. I read so many posts about authors whose manuscripts had been rejected 20-80-100 times before that one ‘yes.’ If you never get in the game, or you give up too soon, you take away your chances, and that’s an opportunity only you can give yourself.

The pressure of success is tremendous for a person who has a dream. When it comes, people expect stuff from you. They will judge you more closely. You have to be perfect or you’ll lose everything, right?

Whichever response you get, it is a response. We have no control over people, and just like you have written your thoughts they have given you theirs. Some people can be unnecessarily harsh, but if you believe in your work, you should be able to move on and to know the difference between constructive criticism and the rants of a miserable person.

We all want something, at least I do. Each day I wake, I thank God for putting a dream in my heart that I believe in. If no one else does I do. That does not say I don’t run through a million ‘what ifs’ or I don’t get my feelings hurt. However, it’s only so much time I’ll give myself to pout. One full day of being angry and not talking to anyone is quite enough. After that it is time to move on. Time is wasting. Girl

Of course, that mindset did not come after one disappointing interaction. Now that I am so far into my work, I realize that I’ve wasted too much time being scared. However, I am a firm believer that nothing happens before its time. Don’t waste your time and energy worrying about the value someone else puts on you or your work. You should always be your own biggest supporter. Trust that others would follow suit and the right ones will.

This article is like a therapy session for me. As soon as my manuscript has been edited (I should get it back in about three weeks) I’ll have no excuse. Confidence has to be a virtue for me. And really, after almost two years of writing, and spending money I don’t have, I would be a damn fool if I didn’t query it to the max. I know my ‘yes’ is soon to come. My deterrent is not a ‘No’ it could only be me, and I’m not going to do myself that wickedness.

GRANNY AKA FRANCES JOSEPH

Granny 8She is called Granny by everyone. She is known to make the best pelau you would ever taste. Frances Joseph is by far the most multidimensional person I have had the pleasure to know. Granny is a true Caribbean woman. She is a native of Grenada; her deceased husband was Antiguan, and they met and married in Trinidad.

At ninety-three, she considers it a privilege to have seen her nine children grow into respectable adults. One son and one daughter are deceased. She often proudly recites the names of her seventeen grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.

At any given time, any member of her family can rattle off a list of her saying:
“Friends carry you but they don’t bring you back.”
“Time waits on no man.”
“Don’t leave for tomorrow what you could do today.”
And if she cannot find something, you better believe its Satan’s fault lol.

Aside from being known for her tasty dishes, Granny is also an energetic story-teller. She will tell the same stories a hundred times, but the weird thing is that you always want to hear them again. One of my favorite stories is – When she was a girl a man put question to her (flirted). She put him in his place (rebuked him). He retaliated by telling her father that he saw her talking to a boy. In those days that warrant a beating for poor Granny. Granny was patient. She crept out of her house at midnight, and hid in the adjacent cemetery. She knew that the man would pass there to get home. With the precision of a ninja, Granny pelt (struck) him with a big stone (rock), and caught him in his head. The man saw her. He came to her house and told her father what she had done. When her father checked on her, she was in her bed, faking a deep sleep.

Granny never lost her spunky nature. To this day, she is known for her quick wit. I often compare her to Sophia Petrillo from the 80’s sitcom The Golden Girls. My grandmother is a blend of many temperaments. She is a very compassionate lady. She has taken care of three children other than her own, and has helped several people as long as I can remember.

In her better years, her grandchildren could expect a sponge cake on their birthdays. She taught me how to make sponge cake, black cake, curry crab and pelau. I remember her warning when she passed on the pelau recipe. “If you burn your pelau you would embarrass me, because my pelau don’t burn.” I think I have done her justice, but my food would never be as good as hers.

Curry Crab

Curry Crab

Making Cakes At Christmas Time

Making Cakes At Christmas Time

Black Cake

Black Cake

Of all her adventures, the strangest thing she has done was substitute for a priest. When granny was a girl, Catholic priests did not go to the cemeteries after funerals. On occasion, little Frances Joseph would commit the dead to the ground. It’s an odd thing for a child to do. However, to have lived next to a cemetery, must have eluded any anxiety a regular person might have of dead people.

Granny is a comedian, and an honorary musketeer (my sister, cousin and I). Everything is more fun when she is involved. It’s odd to us when grown children don’t like to spend time with their grandparents. Most of us are adults, and we would use any opportunity to stay at her house. We like to stay up at night, bundle into one room, and listen to her tell stories of her youth. She grew up around some eccentric people, and she was a cook by trade. By far our favorite story is the story of her first boyfriend, the Norwegian soldier. That is an epic love story waiting to be penned.

There is so much I could say about Frances Joseph. My words will never do her justice. She is someone you have to meet in person.

While writing my novel, I found that it needed a character that was wise. The character also needed to know how to love and support. I immediately thought of Granny. That is what she has done for me, from the time I came into her family at seven years old.

I have been told many nice things in my life, all of which I appreciate. The best compliment I ever got was from Granny AKA Frances Joseph. She told me that I didn’t come from her, but God sent me to her.

This article is a tribute to her life and the example she has set for me as well as many other people. She represents a life well lived, and a respectable woman who has earned her credits.

Love you granny.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MISSY

In my childhood home I enjoyed the love of two dogs. Lassie died a few years after we adopted her and Rambo, her brother, disappeared several years later. I did not mourn Rambo as I did Lassie. I saw Lassie die, and I guess I expected that Rambo would come back one day.

Playing Hide And Seek

Playing Hide And Seek

In 2009 I moved to a new home, and decided that I wanted to have a dog again. I was barely settled when a close family member unexpectedly died. Less than two weeks after I bought Missy from a pet shop. Though I was adamant that I did not want a female dog, when I saw Missy, there was no question that she was the pup for me. There was a male puppy with her, who seemed to be more of what I thought I wanted. He was shy and quiet. Missy stole the spotlight, and she’s been doing that ever since.

There are many organizations that use dogs to assist disabled and sick people. I’ve often been fascinated that dogs can be trained to be assistants. In my case, I had no ailments, but when I brought Missy home, I was very sad and depressed. To accept the death of a loved one is a challenge that I’ve always failed at. It is very hard for me, because the people I keep close are irreplaceable.

Missy had me from hello. She is full of personality. If she was a person, she would be an artist. The responsibility of caring for her was a new experience. I never babysat anyone. And when I had the first two dogs, I shared them with two siblings. From feeding her on time, to dealing with poop in my house, Missy was the distraction that I needed. She gave me a reason to smile every day.

The genuineness you get from a dog is unique among any other relationship. People change throughout their lives, but except for a traumatic experience animals are consistent. An animal does not judge or ridicule. That’s why I think pet lovers tend to treat their pets with the tenderness they would bestow on children.

Just A Few Months Old

Just A Few Months Old

Missy’s character in the book is similar to her in real life. She gives the feeling you get on a very hot day, when you hear the patter of rain on your roof. You get happy.

Missy took away my sadness. She never got tired of my cries or confessions. Without her, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to pull myself together. Those are some of the reasons why I’ll always love her just a little extra, and spoil her forever.

SPREADING MY WINGS … A LITTLE

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Last week I completed the fourth edit of my manuscript. I am taking a break from it, and as a result I will not post weekly updates in the Diary of a Writing Woman category. You can however expect articles, reviews, short stories and more.

Perfecting a query letter is my most important task for the next few weeks, and then I’ll check the manuscript for consistency, and any errors I have missed (I have completed the editing process with Writer’s Digest). This does not mean I will hold back on querying. I will do that as soon as I am satisfied with my letter, and I will keep you posted about any developments.

Thank you for your support.
I look forward to your continued visits and comments.

This is a great article on tips for editing http://www.lisatener.com/2010/12/how-to-edit-a-book-how-many-times-should-i-edit/