To self-publish or not to self-publish?

Hello & welcome! I am an aspiring author, blogger, and addicted to writing in my journals. I am discovering the ins and outs of the writing/publishing world, and can use all the help I can get. Let's connect! I would love to hear from you!

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I've been beta reading for quite some time, but recently had to write some very unpleasant remarks for a fellow author. I didn't like doing it, but it was a necessary evil. If you're unware of what beta reading means, please read the explanation below (courtesy of Google):

"Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterization or believability; in fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking."

OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to the story. I've been working on my debut novel for quite some time now. At the moment I can't say for sure how long it's been, but I'm pretty sure it's been over ten years. I started writing this book because I had an obsession with all things B2K. I was convinced I was going to marry Fizz, but sadly, that never happened, LOL!

I was a member of this MSN Group called B2KFantasy. There were these message boards STANS write stories on about marrying and sleeping with their favorite band member. Mine was about falling in love with my best friend, Fizz. I do love ratchet reality TV, but watching my ex-future-husband on reality TV getting caught up in drama just to make a buck... it hurts me to the core. Oh well, we all have to make a living, don't we? The crazy shit we do for the dollar bill. Can't judge because his way of earning a living is different than mine.

If you've read my About Me page, you'll know that I love reading. I love the written word. I love the emotions one can stir up in a person by putting their creativity on paper in the form of words. The human brain is truly amazing. Beta Reading is something I recently got into. It can go really well, but there are times when beta reading goes wrong... and I mean really, really wrong.

Beta reading is something I do in my free time, which I have a lot of at the moment. None of the comments I make while beta reading are a personal attack on the author(s). I am trying to become a published author myself, so it is never my intention to break another author's spirit.

I came across an aspiring author who has been working on her debut novel for three years. She finally finished it, I saw that she was looking for beta readers, so I offered her my beta reading services free of charge. After reading two chapters of the manuscript, it really bothered me that she used the word AND so much. I really think it makes reading the manuscript very unpleasant. I highlighted the word so she could see how much she uses it. I didn't like her characters and I made it clear that I didn't like them: they weren't relatable.

I'm not going to defend myself, I didn't do anything wrong (I think not). But guess what? She wrote a blog about me! I checked up on her to see how she was doing, since she took my feedback so personally. The only reason she popped back into my head, is because a friend of hers contacted me for beta reading services. Apparently he understands where I'm coming from, even if I am a little harsh. I asked him to beta read my manuscript. Wonder if he'll rip me a new one just to get back at me for being mean to his BFF, LOL!

Oh, and she forgot to say that after I sent her the first two chapters with the word AND highlighted, she actually was interested in what I had to say about the entire manuscript. I guess my scathing remarks are valuable after all. I love how people get off on playing "The Victim." I understand an artist's work is their baby, but sometimes we have to be able to look at our babies objectively. Reading her blog, I'm convinced not everyone is capable of that.

Happy Weekend to all of you!

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在来中国之前,我就常常与在中国留学的苏里南朋友聊天,因为这样能提前更好地了解中国。根据他们所说的,他们在中国并没有太好的经历,他们跟我说他们的很糟糕的经历:

  • “中国人不喜欢洗澡,尤其夏天的时候!”
  • “中国人不会用防臭剂。”
  • “中国人很无礼。”
  • “中国大多是种族主义者。”
  • “中国人到哪都吐痰。”
  • “中国人都只喜欢白肤金发。”
别人的糟糕的偏见

别人的糟糕的偏见- 外星人

此外,他们就没有说更多的好话。当然,对此我并不是完全相信。为什么?因为每个人都有自己的家庭背景和经历,所以看法自然会有偏差。我认为我们对待别人的方式,正是他们对待我们的方式,而他们告诉我的关于中国的一切,也是别人告诉他们的。

如果中国真的是世上最糟糕的地方,为什么他们还要在那个坏的地方生活?”

他们刚来中国的时候,对中国人已经有不好的印象了,这当然会影响他们的行为。我的想法是这样的:如果两个人有问题,他们俩都有错。 世界上任何一个地方肯定都有好人跟坏人,但是我不会让别人的看法和经历影响我的思维方式,我要自己去体会这一切。听了他们对中国的评价以后,我是这么想的: 这让我觉得很好笑。不过,我刚来中国的时候,确实感觉有点不安。我在逛街的时候,有些中国人看到我,就好像我是外星人一样。我真的不舒服,也喜欢走路 。来中国之前,我只知道我是一个女人。在苏里南有不同的民族。我从来觉得自己是少数民族。 在这儿我也是我第一次发觉我不仅是个女人,而且还是黑女人。在那时候,华文学院的苏里南朋友总是陪着我,如果遇到其他人的,他就会特意告诉别人我是苏里南人。我不了解为什么他要这样做。后来,他告诉我:

“因为你是黑人,所以别人会认为你是非洲人。在中国非洲人的名声不太好。” 很糟糕的看法,对不对?

现在我在中国有八个月了,这八个月的经历经历,使我跟其他苏里南朋友的意见产生了分歧。中国人并不都是种族主义者;他们也不乱吐痰;也不都喜欢白肤金发的人。而我发现:有些中国人想跟外国人交朋友,是因为他们知道外国人大部分会说英语,而他们想要练习说英语。还有些中国人未经你的允许就随意给你拍照,这样做很无礼,我就经常被拍照,但我不知道为什么。此外,在中国有些饭馆不太卫生,厨房甚至很脏。我刚来时,每天都拉肚子,现在我已经习惯了,只是时不时还有小的问题。总之,我很高兴来到中国,也很庆辛来到这个美丽的地方。我觉得,如果我的朋友还觉得中国是上最糟糕的地方,他们可以去加勒比留学。我们护照是加勒比的, 我们不需要办签证。 每个地方都有坏事,也有好事,其实中国的经济比苏里南的好得多。苏里南人现在的生活非常糟糕。我希望我能继续学下去, 这样,我的父母以后就能依靠我了。      

My Life in China - Chinese Version
再见苏里南

子啊见苏里南

凤凰的晚会

凤凰对苏里南高高兴的说: “再见苏里南!”

说“再见苏里南” 真的不容易。我舍不得离开妈妈,舍不得离开爸爸,我姐姐和她的孩子。2015 年初的时候,我知道这一年我的生活会有所改变。但是,我并不知道会有这么大 的变化。这一年,我收获了很多,我学会了怎么去体谅别人。在此之前,我犯了很多错,因为我不会体谅别人,这种性格真的不好。有的时候,我们应该离开我们熟悉的环境。每个家庭都有自己的问题,每个人也在跟自己斗争中成长,这是一件很艰难的事。你的家人也许并不真正了解你,他们对你的判断也可能是错的。这时,我们应该离开他们,去一个陌生的地方。来到中国是我认为,我做得最好的一件事情。因为在这儿我开始了解自己,认识自己。我做了很多的改变。在离开苏里南的时候,我知道不可能就这么快回去 。我的晚会跟我的家庭真的很好玩儿。 那天我不知道我的表妹多在我们的阿姨的家。他们送给我蛋糕,他们都很高兴我能渠道中国学习中文。我真的很惊讶! 因为我不太喜欢蛋糕,所以我只吃了一小小的口蛋糕。我不知道如果那个蛋糕好吃,我不喜欢那样儿的蛋糕。今年九月我又再说这句话。

再见苏里南

 

如果你们看有些东西我写了不对了,请你们告诉我!

   

My Life in China - Chinese Version

The past couple of months have been very interesting. I have met some interesting people... I wish you could hear me laughing while writing this, or at least see the very amused smile on my face. Starting with the latest updates...
 
The opportunity to work with commercial sex workers presented itself again. I participated in this project over two years ago where a study was being conducted among commercial sex workers to find out how much they know about HIV and other STD's and to see what type of safety gear they use. I mean, if you're a miner, you have to have your safety hat, the boots and what-have-you, so as a commercial sex worker, do you have your condoms, lubricants or whatever other devices or products can be used to guarantee (is it ever guaranteed?) safety. I had a lot of fun.
 
As expected, the women I interviewed opened a whole other side of life to me. I didn't grow up in a cookie cutter world, far from it, but my immediate environment is still very protected. I grew up in a loving family, both parents, I could eat every day, go on vacations, go to the movies, what-have-you... stuff I thought were simple, ordinary and normal. I thought everyone's life was like mine. Then I grew older and met kids my age whose parents were divorced and the fights between the parents were far worse than those in the Middle East.
 

I am grateful for this amazing opportunity. Through this experience, I'm learning so much more about life and how different people choose to spend their 24 hours they're given. Conversations I've had with commercial sex workers are some of the most memorable.

Two years ago when I got presented the opportunity to interview commercial sex workers, it seemed like an adventure, a great way to see another side of life that I never actually would see. I realized at that time, while conducting the interviews, that there are far too many misconceptions around prostitutes. Each of them has their own unique story how and why they ended up the way the way they are and where they are in life. Some of the tales were horrific and I don't feel like repeating them ever again, but then there were other tails where the women just said:
"It's good money. I don't like to work and I love sex. I love my job. Actors get paid for what they're good at, and I'm good at giving blowjobs and taking it up the ass."
If you have a weak heart and your ears burn easily, don't talk to them, hahahaha. They're very open about their life and their job, and I like it very much. I met three extraordinary women over the weekend. One of them is an ex-street worker who runs an eatery in Albina, the place we went to interview the sex workers, one is a Brazilian woman with a heart of gold who has had a very hard life, but is still optimistic and the other is a Dominican girl who's trying to better her life. All of them with extraordinary tales and so much strength. WOW! I thought my life sucked!
We all throw ourselves the occasional pity parties now and then... "Why me?!" or sometimes it can be "Why NOT ME?!" When I heard what these women had been through, I counted all of my blessings. My life is a dream compared to theirs. Frankly, my life really is a dream. Aside from the fact that I pretty much live in my own world for 90% of the day, I have nothing to complain about. I am truly blessed.
The drive up to Albina was an adventure. Repairs are being done on the road, so some parts of the road are covered with these irritatingly small stones that are soooo bad for your tires. I was in the car with two other women; it was just the three of us, no men. I was a little worried, because none of us know how to change a tire and rumor had it that Albina is a pretty dangerous place, but I was still looking forward to the adventure. We had to stop along the road so that a worker could guide the traffic along, and all of a sudden these guys pull up next to us in a car, demonstratively holding up a hub cap that looked a lot like the one we had on our car. Lowering the window on his side of the car, he said to us:
"Lady, here's your hub cap. You've been driving on a flat tire for quite some time now."
 
We got out, inspected the car and the tire was DEAD! No saving it! At the speed we were traveling we were very lucky that we didn't end up in ditch somewhere. The guys handed us the hub cap and drove off. The three of us just stood there looking at each other, thinking, "What now?!" Luckily for us, three men were working on the road and they asked us if we could assist. Thank GOD! We were on our way in less than 30 minutes. It was a very fun experience and I am happy to have met those wonderful women.
 

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a new door tiara ray

I know I have been MIA for almost two months. My job as a Freelance Interpreter left little time for me to write. Literally. I haven't written in my journal for a couple of weeks as well. Anyway, I wrote about looking for a good book cover designer in May. I received a lot of help from a lot of people, and I thank you all for that. I made my choice and decided to go with Deranged Doctor Design. I am very happy with the end result. I have to say that they also provide excellent service. My contact person there, Kim D, was a delight to work with. Very professional service. In this case we do judge a book by its cover.

I have received various other websites of other book cover designers. Plan to have a look at them for another project I will start working on shortly.

Don't you just love it?  
book cover

I LOVE IT!

Writing
blogging

blogging

This post is to inform you about 5 important things I hadn't considered when I decided to self-host a blog. Blogging is as normal as breathing. Practically everyone has a blog nowadays. Blogging is absolutely nothing new. I'd had one on Xanga for more than seven years, but then they introduced Xanga 2.0 and messed it all up. Everyone has their own reason for starting blogs; some blog about important changes in their lives, like pregnancies, changing jobs, changing careers, renovating ones house, what-have-you. I know that there are a lot of blogs out there, and I often wondered if adding mine was necessary. Then I realized that it is, because I live a different life.

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book cover

I've been working on my debut novel since forever, and now it's really time to wrap it up. The past couple of days, I have been reading an ARC by author Willow A. Renner. My feedback on her project is a week overdue, but I will mail it tonight. I just hope she forgives me for mailing it this late. I've been rather busy the past couple of weeks. Now that I've give myself until the last week of May to finish my novel, I started to think about the book cover... I need to find out who the best book cover designers are. I've read a lot of books; some of them with great covers, other not so great. I have to admit that the cover played a part in my purchasing it or not. Unfortunately books really are judged by their cover. That's why I spent almost two hours today looking for the best book cover designer on the Internet.

I came across this picture when I googled 'bad book cover design' and stumbled upon a website. The blogger really tore up those book covers. I seriously didn't see anything wrong with some of them, but the blogger is an expert, so he/she knows what to look for. This is one of the book covers I saw absolutely nothing wrong with, but then again, I'm not the expert.

Thus began my hunt for the best book cover designers on Twitter. I came across EbookLaunch, Deranged Doctor Designs and Willow Raven.

I really loved the covers EbookLaunch makes, but Deranged Doctor Designs is also very good. I actually saw some covers from author Peiri Ann, and I loved them! I compared the prices of both EbookLaunch and Deranged Doctor; I will get more for my money if I go with Deranged Doctor. Since I am still on a budget, Deranged Doctor it is!  If EbookLaunch also starts to offer Facebook headers, blogging headers, Twitter headers, and banners for the same price, I'll definitely want to work with them in the near future! I didn't consider Willow Raven, because I feel like playing her covers; they remind me of The Sims. Not being mean, Willow. I love the game, just not on a book cover. Got me thinking about the Sookie Stackhouse covers; I LOVE the books, but I HATE the covers!

Do you know of any other good book cover designers? I would love to see if there's another out there that offers the same services as Deranged Doctor.

Take care! :D

Writing

It's is the third day of the new year. This day will also go down in (my) history as "Moving Day".
What do I mean by that? I mean that I will leave all that is negative behind me. Every single bad habit, like throwing pity parties and constantly telling myself that it's "me against the world," those days are over. Well, let's say that I'll try to put them behind me as best as possible.
Question... "Why?" Well, because it's a new day, a new year. I think it is due time to leave all the negativity in 2014. Furthermore, it is time to start living.
Can you live if there is this constant weight pulling you down? No. Life is like a ship on water... there will be storms and enormous waves, some people might fall overboard, but you'll always get new crew. There were will periods of smooth sailing, excellent weather and just fun times at sea. There could also be times where you hit an iceberg (Titanic) and a lot of people fall overboard. A lot survived as well and lived to tell the tale. They came out. Doesn't matter how they came out of it, they came out. When you're at the harbor in Madrid and the next stop is supposed to be The Netherlands, as long as you still got that anker in the water, the ship isn't going anywhere. You have to pull that anker up in order for the ship to move.
Pulling up your baggage might not be such a good idea, but you can stuff it in boxes and suitcases and get ready for your trip. When in boxes, you can put any label you desire on it. "Junk", "Books", "Fragile" or even "Stuff to be used later". With suitcases you have to be more careful. A few ounces over the allowed weight limit and you can pay a penalty. You have to choose what you put in your suitcase. Pick whichever method works best for you.
So, today is my moving day.
When is yours?

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learning about blogging

I've been blogging for more than twelve years. The first three years I blogged anonymously on XangaThen I discovered Blogger & abandoned Xanga for a couple of years. When I did return back to Xanga, it was all messed up by the 'new and improved' Xanga 2.0. Just completely messed it up. Have a blog on Blogger, but haven't added anything new since November 2014. I started this one in December. Why? Well, I would like to establish an online platform. I am an aspiring author. One of the things an author needs, is an established platform. So, here I am blogging & learning about blogging because Wordpress is a little different than Blogger, and I don't know much about SEO and driving traffic. Two things I am so excited to discover and report back to you along the way.

When I decided to self-host a blog to build a platform, I had no idea what I would blog about. I have no knowledge of the craft like The Creative Penn and don't have any experience whatsoever. The only thing I can do is blog about the whole process, learning about blogging, learning about writing, and sharing it here.  Maybe there are others like me, trying to find it all out. If so, welcome to the club. I hope these post will be of help.

"I looked at your theme, and I can't make out who your target audience is," a friend of mine said. Well, to be honest, my target audience is anyone who likes reading about various topics. Though this is a website dedicated to establishing a platform, I love blogging about other things as well, as you can see in my categories. I blog mainly because I love to share my thoughts and experiences with people. If people happen to like the content and come back for more, then that's amazing. Don't forget to subscribe :D. But hey, that's also what the comment section is for; leave a comment so we can discuss the content, or you can tell me what you'd like me to write about. If it's something I'm not familiar with, I'll research it and blog about it later. I love learning new things, so feel free to challenge me.

I am still learning about blogging, learning about SEO and whatnot. For instance, I learned last month that a post should have between 250-500 words. I had no idea. I wrote really long posts on my Xanga blog. All of it has changed now that I am trying to build a platform; I have to abide by certain rules if I want my blog to gain traffic.

So, I started the journey of blogging & learning about blogging last month, and I will continue it for a while. If you know more than I do, please feel free to leave me a comment so that we can get a conversation going. I am really looking forward to this journey of discovery. :D :D

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My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy

This post is both an introduction of a very talented blogger, and now published author (CONGRATS! :D), Grace Buchele Mineta, the creator of the blog Texan in Tokyo, and a review of her first published book, My Japanse Husband Thinks I'm Crazy.

Since I'm moving to Asia in a couple of  months, I've been researching the Internet to find bloggers living in that part of the world to communicate with. English-speaking bloggers, for clarification. I don't know how, but I came across this funny blog called Texan in Tokyo by Texan Grace Buchele Mineta. If you ever have time, please check out her blog. It's well-written, hilarious & allows you to see Tokyo through Grace's zany eyes.  I love her quirkiness! I embrace diversity, especially if it makes me laugh.

On her blog, Grace talks about her life in Japan with her Japanese husband, Ryosuke. Long story short: they met when he was studying in America, fell in love, got married, now she's living with him in Japan. What intrigues me about this young woman, is that she is a very talented artists as well. She draws comics about how she experiences life in Japan and the oh-so hilarious conversations with her imaginary friend: a bunny named Marvin. Her comics took off last year, so she published a comic book on Amazon called: My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy. I LOVE reading her comics; she is absolutely HILARIOUS! I contacted Grace and she was kind enough to send me a copy of the book.

grace & ryosuke

Ryosuke & Grace Mineta

What's the verdict? I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I love that she doesn't take herself seriously, that she is able to laugh at herself. That is an absolute MUST (in my book) if you really want to enjoy life. I also love that there are pages of text in between where she explains certain words and tells a little about Japanese culture. What I absolutely adore are the interactions between Grace and Ryosuke. They are very adorable and I wish them lots of happiness. I know it's a giveaway, but my favorite part of the book was The Earthquake Game Comic. My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy is such a smooth read; I read it in less than two hours. Once you start turning the pages you just can't stop. When you flip to the last page and realize there's nothing left to read, the first reaction is, "ARGH! I'm bummed out." If you would love to read a funny book about a Texan married to a Japanese man & living in Japan, then look no further. Support Grace and buy her book! Her second book, My Japanese Husband Still Thinks I'm Crazy is coming out next month. I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it (breaking out into an 80's dance move)!

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