Alternate Choices and the Roads Not Taken

4 Sep

Have you ever thought about the crossroads in your life, and what would have happened if you made the other choice? How different do you think things would have been for you? What would you be like? Your friends? Your relationships?

Joie and I were musing about that around this time last year. We identified a decision point in our respective lives and made up stories about what we thought our alternate selves would have become based on those alternate choices. Would we have even met and become best of friends?

And that discussion inspired The Road Not Taken. It’s about a young careerwoman who finds herself living a different life – a life on the road not taken – after her 25th birthday. I think it’s fun to explore such themes, even if it’s definitely messy.

How about you guys? Ever had those kind of bumps in the road? Do you sometimes think about travelling (if it was possible) on those roads not taken? 🙂

Spanish Language Misadventures, Part I: I Don’t Know If This Will Work, But I’ll Try To Read A Book

30 May

Before this year began I’d already decided to brush up on my Spanish, but I haven’t had the time until today to browse through online lessons and whatnot. Then I thought of how it’s always been easier for me to retain something I’ve learned by putting it into use, and how I’ve been debating on rereading a certain series, so… call me crazy, but I’m doing this! Hahaha.

The book in question?

El ladrón del rayo
Percy Jackson y los dioses del Olimpo – 1

Ah, nothing like a book I’ve already read (in English) and also one of my favorites. And I’d figured that, with its writing style, it should be a little easier to comprehend compared to other more “adult” novels.

A brief history on my Spanish: I’m not a native speaker, but our native dialect draws a lot from Spanish, given that our country was under Spanish rule for 300 years. The only formal lesson I’ve had, however, was a 3-unit course in college, around 6 years ago. I’ve had previous attempts to get back to studying the language, but I haven’t been as serious as I am now.

So anyway, I flipped to the first chapter, and this was what greeted me:

Capitulo 1
Pulverizo accidentalmente a mi profesora de introducción al álgebra

Okay. Hmm. “Chapter 1, I accidentally pulverize my professor in introductory algebra.” Maybe I’m doing this too literally. Haha.

Mira, yo no quería ser mestizo.

Oh, boy. This is going to take me a long time to finish.

Studio Adventures: Recording A Demo

27 Feb

It wasn’t the first time for me to sing for a demo. And it wasn’t the first time for me to come into the studio unconvinced that the song was going to work.

The song had its merits, but it didn’t seem to be the kind of song I could deliver. As much as I’ve tried to be as versatile as possible, there are just certain genres that I’m not comfortable with, and the song started as that. How was I to give the song a heart and a soul with that roadblock to begin with?

Then I heard the arranged version… and it was beautiful. The arranger had managed to come up with all these catchy bits that the melody had stuck to my head after one listen. Even better, we went to the arranger’s house to record it. He didn’t have a big recording studio, but it was more than good enough.

The first thing they did was to set the key right. And I almost jumped for joy. Usually, the composers I’d agree to demo for would ask me if I’m okay with the song’s key, but all too often it’s set at a certain key that they actually prefer, which is oftentimes a little too low for my natural range. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised at how they didn’t only agree to change the key, they made me decide how low or high I wanted it. So the song ended up at the range I’m most comfortable with.

Next, lyrics. Now, the lyrics were my biggest problem. I didn’t exactly agree with the lyrics. Like if I’d write a love song for my special someone, those wouldn’t be the lyrics. But I also understood that the lyrics meant something personal to the composer, so I just tried to make the most out of what he wanted. (Fortunately, he agreed to let me edit some glaring grammar slips. I’m not a grammar nazi, but obvious tense misdemeanors bother me. Especially when they’re in the choruses that repeat a good number of times for the duration of the song.)

That left the part that was entirely in my control: the delivery.

Just because I’m not going to be the artist releasing the song doesn’t mean I have to sing it all flat and lifeless. That’s not how I work. So I did our theatre trick, internalizing the song, feeling it, letting the music tug my heartstrings. Sure, some of the lines didn’t make a lot of sense, but I got the point of the whole thing. She was still hopelessly in love with the man who broke her heart, and wanted him back.

That kind of scenario’s fairly easy. Who’s never been heartbroken, anyway?

We did a few takes. The arranger had his own inputs; he suggested changing some notes and on how to deliver some of the parts. He even layered in some instruments to give the material more “oomf,” and he gently argued with the composer on his original idea to have the last chorus come up with backing vocals, as he was convinced that the song was best done solo. Amazingly, it was the most control I’ve ever had on a song. They actually let me do what I wanted, and even kept most of what I decided to do. It was great.

So I have a copy of the song’s rough mix on a CD, and I’ve listened to it several times after leaving the studio. And that, too, is a first; I don’t really like listening to my finished demos, as I find my singing bad. If I ever play the CD, it’s only going to be one time, and for the benefit of my curious family and boyfriend. Not that I think my singing’s stellar or anything now, but it wasn’t too bad, and I’m proud at how it all came together with our collaborative efforts.

If the song ever gets picked up by some label for an artist’s album, I hope they’d let the singer have as much fun as I did, and not just copy off my style down to the last note. Not because she’d be a copycat or what-have-you, but I feel it’ll kind of defeat the purpose of doing a song in the first place. Don’t people always say to “take a song and make it your own”?

When The Lady Tries To Be A Dude

30 Jan

I know it’s a huge risk to write from a guy’s perspective if you’re a girl.

There’s a part of my novel that presents the story from the other side, and while I’ve finished the draft and I’m pretty satisfied by how it went so far (not too dramatic, considering, you know, it’s the guy POV)… I’m still having doubts if I should continue with it, or just revamp the entire part and shift it to some other girl. (Yes, I obviously can’t write that certain part in the female protagonist’s perspective.)

Incidentally – and this might help me make up my mind – I’ve started reading novel #8, Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown, and I’m elated to see the first chapter in the guy protagonist’s perspective. That’s something I’ve been looking for, and I’m glad to have come across this book. We’ll see. (And I blame my novel for my recent chick lit spree. I’d say I’m not quite turning into a sap yet, but on the contrary, I’ve always been a sap. Haha.)

Thoughts on “Other” Perspectives in Chick Lit

25 Jan

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is my #5 finish for this year’s self-imposed reading challenge. I’m not here to give a full, blow-by-blow review, although I have to say it was a fun read. I didn’t like it as much as Flat Out Love by Jessica Park, but still. 🙂

It just so happened that, along the way, I had two thoughts.

  1. Chick lit in the guy’s perspective, anyone? I mean, I know it’s called “chick” lit for a reason, but I just also happened to remember this little side story to Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, which was in the point of view of the male protagonist. It would be kind of interesting, I think. (I wouldn’t really know if there’s ever been one written, because I’m not the chick lit type, although I do dabble in the genre on occasion.)
  2. How about the perspective of the other person in a love triangle? You see, Anna and the French Kiss is about a girl who is sent to a boarding school in Paris for American kids for her senior year in high school. There she meets with an American guy who knows a great deal of French but has a British accent, and they fall in love along the year. But the catch is, the said guy has a girlfriend. So I was brought to the thought. I mean, there’s a side to every story, right? What if we get to see that other side? (In this case it’s the third, since it’s a triangle.)

Just thinking out loud, that’s all. 🙂

At Rainbow’s End: First Draft Highlights

16 Jan

It’s not a 50k NaNo feat or anything, but I finished something, at least? 😉 Now I’m starting on the revisions, hurray. Like, for starters, adding a prologue – which seemed oddly missing now that I’ve read the entire first draft.

Some statistics…

First Draft Completion Date: 13 January 2013

Word Count: 16,995

Chapters: 18

Pages: 64 (in MS Word, Times New Roman size 12, only 5% formatted)

And now it’s time for some quotes. I mean, it’s obligatory, right? Haha.

Here’s something from Part I:

Odie: ‘Coz you’re mostly quiet and keep your thoughts to yourself. Not that it’s a bad thing. Some girls find mystery attractive.

Aaron: You know me. I just… don’t really like opening up.

Odie: I know. Polar opposite to me. I cry in front of strangers. You don’t see me for more than a year and the first thing I do is be an audiobook on a failed romance.

And a slightly spoilerish (but well-intentioned!) bit, from Part II:

“There is a fine line,” the man started to explain, “between life and death.”

He introduced himself as Daniel, and proceeded to tell Aaron the most ridiculous story he’d ever heard.

They were in Dormindo Cidade, the Sleeping City. The “fine line” between life and death. The domain for those who had died but yet to pass on.

In Aaron’s case, for those who should have died.

And something light, from Part III:

Clark, that evening, brought her dinner.

“You might want to know,” he started, “that Renard called a couple of times to check on you.”

Odie, who’d been angry at her ex, softened somewhat. “And?”

“We slammed the phone on him.” Clark grinned. “All nine times.”


He was confused. “What? I thought you hated the guy?”

Revisions are ongoing, but I’ll be sure to pitch in an update every now and then. 🙂

Of Sinulog, Thanksgiving and Holding Hands

11 Jan

Important: This post is pretty personal and touches slightly on religion-related things, so read at your own risk, I guess? I don’t want to offend anyone.


[Photo courtesy of my friend, Jerry. First day novena mass crowd! :D]

I’m not someone who’s considered to be “religious.” Yes, I attend mass regularly, read the Bible, pray and sing praises, but I’m not too big on the devotion part. Like, I don’t know most of the saints and their feast dates, I don’t know a lot of standardized prayers (I mean, those that have specific words, like the Lord’s Prayer) and what they’re really called, and I’ve never tried simbang gabi.

I guess it’s because of how I grew up. I didn’t go to a Catholic school until college, so we had Values Ed classes instead of Religion, where we talked about God in general and I had classmates of different faiths. I learned that prayers were conversations with Him, so personal messages from the heart were better than formulaic prayers (like writing a love letter to your special someone versus forwarding a text quote). I learned that it wasn’t the amount of time you spend in church or how many Bible verses you can quote that really mattered, but how you share your blessings and attend to those in need. I learned that it’s better to give than to receive, to thank rather than ask, and that without love, anything you do or say would be meaningless.

So for all the years that I went to school and worked very close to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, I, admittedly, rarely attended the novena masses. When I did attend, it hadn’t been voluntary; we had to go as a class because our teacher said so, etcetera etcetera. I don’t remember participating in the procession (though I might have when I was a kid, with my parents), and on those times I went out to join the Sunday festivities, it was all in the name of fun and partying.

Not until last year, anyway. But even that wasn’t really my idea; my (not yet) bf had invited me to go with him one night, after we had play rehearsals. I found out that he wasn’t the “religious” type, either, but he did it as a way of giving thanks. So I ended up joining him some nights, and ultimately at the procession. It was an extremely long walk and there were so many people… well, you get the drift.

And now January’s rolled around and it’s Sinulog time again, with today (well, yesterday technically since it’s, gasp, past midnight, so let’s specify that as January 10th) as the beginning of the novena masses. Having received so many blessings in the year that passed, I’m really thankful for a lot of things, and while I’ve said my thank yous again and again in various ways, there’s always room for more thanks. So I resolved to attend the novena masses this 2013, even though I hate crowds, even though it always seems to be raining this time of the year and I’m not a fan of the rain either… because what better way to show love and thanksgiving, right? I’ve just got so much to be thankful for, really.

(Starting with the guy you might see me holding hands with at church. 😉 But don’t tell him I said that. Haha. :P)

A Novel I Might Actually Finish Writing

7 Jan


I’m writing again. Seriously, now. (Yey?)

It all started as part of the “do it all in 2012” thing we had with my friends. To write something, anything, and actually finish it. I’ve always had a lot of story ideas but I’ve never, ever gotten around to finishing a single thing. Well, except for fanfics (that I shall not name), roleplaying logs (that are somewhere around LiveJournal) and school projects.

So off I went, writing down my ideas, trying to figure out which one to write, brainstorming and making notes. Endgame came out in first place, and it’s still a piece I’d like to work on someday as I really like how I’d put it all together, but I just somehow could not get started in writing the actual story. It was unusually hard, just like all the other novels I’d tried starting.

Sometime in the third quarter of last year (August, I think?) while I was lurking in Goodreads, I decided to check out Rick Riordan’s blog entries (Percy Jackson, how I love thee). I eventually came across one that wasn’t about updates for the then-unreleased The Mark of Athena, an entry entitled Why Write Novels? (redux). And there, I unexpectedly found my inspiration.

We write, I hope, because we have a story to tell. How easy it is to lose sight of that, but the goal of writing is telling a good story. To be a writer, it’s not enough simply to love the idea of writing, or to dream of being published. You have to forget that. You have to find the story you must tell – the story so important to you personally that you have no choice but to write it.

The next lightning strike of inspiration came almost a second after that first one. It was like having an epiphany; I just knew what story I wanted to tell. It was then just a matter of presentation… but the idea for that came fairly quickly, too. An old plot (college-old, I think I was in my final year when I came up with it) but with the story I wanted to tell.

Eureka! I had something! (Insert celebratory dance here.)

Surprising even myself, the genre of what I was about to write was, dun dun dun… chick lit. Which is so not me! (Note the exclamation point.) I mean, as a reader/writer, I’ve always been into epic adventures and big stories with gazillion chapters on wars and prophecies and fight scenes and conspiracies and super powers and strong heroines in fantastic kingdoms and massive worlds not on the Earth as we know it. But what I had was essentially a romance novel. Uh-oh.

I truthfully feared (and still fear) that I might just end up failing in the genre because of my lack of writing experience. Even in fics and RP, I rarely wrote “normal” love stories; it was always about a princess and a knight, a leader of an intergalactic rebel group and a prince of a backwater planet… you get the drift. But the story was itching to be written, so I kept on. Outlined, brainstormed, started with the chapters. For some reason, I write drafts best by hand, with an actual pen and paper, and that’s how I’ve been doing it.

Anyway, the third strike came in November. I was at the airport when I ran into a college classmate who used to read my fanfics. Surprisingly, she brought it up – that she’d been waiting for me to update a certain fic, and that I should get on with it and get back to writing. I was a bit flabbergasted at the thought that someone (other than my best friend) was actually interested in my stuff, even though I think they suck.

So I’m now two-thirds through At Rainbow’s End, my baby.

And, well, since I’ve started talking about it anyway, here’s the synopsis. Cheesy, I know. But I have no choice but to write it. 😉

Odie has always known what to do with her life – until she gambled on love, and lost. Overwhelmed by her heartbreak, she decides to go on a trip, with the hope of leaving the past behind and finding herself again.

On her way to Hong Kong, she unexpectedly runs into Aaron, an old friend… and an old flame. A photographer and former partner to Odie (who is a writer), he’s off to Macau for a prenup shoot, and he ends up inviting her to come along.

Odie has never been much of a risk-taker, but now she’s got to decide. When fate comes knocking on your door and offers you a second chance, how do you answer?