Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Didn't Get The Job, What Does That Mean?? What Does It All Mean???

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting very often. The truth is I have been super busy, for a reason. In case you missed my Buzzfeed article where I explained that my husband has quit his job while I pursue a career in real estate you can read it here.  But that, coupled with the fact that I also interviewed for a full-time position at the community college where I've been teaching part-time has also kept me preoccupied and away from my writing and blogging.
When I get interviewed; put myself through the gauntlet of judgement and then embarked on the month long journey of waiting to hear back, I found myself (as I sure many of us do) in a world of second- guessing, doubt, and confusion. 

Did I get the job? Did the interview go well? Who else was interviewed for the same position? Did they like me? Do I like them? All of these questions followed me around for a month while I was still trying to function as a Realtor, instructor, wife and mom. So yes my creativity in terms of writing a fight scene for Harlow 3 was non-existent. I was full of too many of my own feelings to let Harlow in.
I know feelings can serve as inspiration but when you're not even able to decipher what it is you're experiencing it's rather difficult to channel them into your work.

Late Friday afternoon I received the phone call I had been longing for, but the voice on the other end didn't deliver the message I wanted to hear. I didn't get the job. Merry Christmas. As hard as I'd worked and as much as I wanted it, I have to say that working in real estate and writing my trilogy I have learned that my self-worth and validation come from me. So I patted myself on the back for making it that far in the process and got back to work. This was just a change in the plot, my life once again was going in different direction than I had planned.

A weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  No more anxiety about "what if" or "did I" or "didn't I," now I know and my wonderful life goes back to life as usual. And Harlow 3 can finally be completed.
Maybe I'm an optimist or maybe I'm a realists that understands that life happens and there is so much more at work behind the scenes that need we are unaware of or can't comprehend. So disappointment is for suckers because who knows what this "no" means for the future "yes's" in my future.

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Downside to Letting it all Hang Out #publishedauthorproblems

Earlier this month I wrote a post about having great friends.  And I am lucky to have people in my life that I would consider part of my "ride or die" crew.  Yet this month's SXSW Collaboration, with fellow author Shannon Barczak ,provides a twist to that same concept; The close friends that are now our readers/biggest fans.

As always my response while appear in orange, wherre as Shannon's will be white.

When I decided to publish my first novel, Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers.  A thousand thoughts entered my mind.  They all were along the lines of, "Are you crazy, now everyone is going to read it, or no one is going to read it."  I was actually so self-conscious about putting three years of my imagination in print, out there that I didn't really tell anyone until it was already done and over with.  The people that did know before I actually published it were on a need to know basis and even that small tight-nit group was enough to cause me mini-anxiety attacks.  

For those of you who don't write, but sing, or draw, or play music, you can relate.  It's like letting the public read your journal.  The only thing worse than that are your friends and family reading your journal because they will actually know what you're referring to.  And they all think that a particular character, or song verse is about them.  

More confusing is, how elated you are that someone has read your work, even if it is your mom, but then it's swiftly regrettable because they then have their own ideas and perceptions of how they think the book should have been or what your marketing move should be.  They all have their own ideas and as a writer you have to stay true to your characters.  I definitely think that writing the second book of the Harlow Whittaker Trilogy was much easier than the first because I already knew where my characters were going.  

In contrast however working on the third book is difficult because I already have readers who have envisioned an ending and I had to stop and release their influence from my mind in order to complete the final installment because I wanted something that would be true to Harlow, Larken, Hendrix, Fin, Elias, and even Ezequiel.  

So as much as I love that people are reading what I wrote it does create a new obstacle; staying true to the story.  It's not my vision of where I think the characters or even the story should go, but if you're doing it right, it's the characters leading the writer through the story-Just as they do with the reader. 

I love the input, I love that something that I wrote creates such strong opinions in others, and even when I hear criticism I relish in it because it means that they actually care enough to read it.  But once it's time to sit and write I have to ignore all of that and ask the characters what their plans are.  

I love you all, keep reading an critiquing-I can take it.  

Stay tuned for Shannon's take on this, 

  1. To ask for with proper authority, claim as a right.
  2. To ask for peremptorily or urgently.
  3. To call for or require as just, proper, or necessary.

There is a moment when you are writing a book when you feel an almost expeditious fear. These words which you have slaved over are going to be read by hundreds, even thousands, of people. The worst feeling though is when you realize that individuals you know are going to pore over your thoughts and you now have opened yourself up to either criticism or adulation.
I remember when I was almost finished writing Isle of Skye. I was sitting by the fire late at night and all of a sudden I had this slight panic attack at the thought of putting myself out there. It was not even a thought in my mind when I started my book but the wave of reality that washed over me was terrifying.
I got over my fear once I published, but then something else reared its ugly head. I now had fans. I actually had people who I was not related too or friends with that really enjoyed my book. I was elated, but put them out of my head as I wrote Isle of Night. I knew exactly how this book was going to be written and I had not a care in the world about other people’s opinions.
Isle of Dawn, the third book in my trilogy was different. I felt an overwhelming pressure to complete the story with an ending that my characters and my fans deserved. I know that I took readers through a bit of emotional hell, but I finished it with a fairytale ending. I wanted to stay true to myself and the fact is, if you want a depressing or thought provoking ending, read Hemingway.
I’m in final edits for The Cursed Charm and I have heard a bit of feedback. Some of it I have listened too but some I have not. It’s always hard to explain to people that even though they might have questions or feel I may have left a few loose ends, I know precisely how this series is going to progress through all four books. I am not revealing everything in book one and I now have no doubts about the cliffhanger ending that I fretted about over the past few months.
I love my fans. I love my family and my friends, who have read my books and have given me an amazing amount of support, but I will not cave into peer pressure nor have I ever been one to respond well to demands or ultimatums. I started writing because I wanted to read something that I loved and believed in with all my heart.
I will always write for one person and one person only…and that’s me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What Getting Rid of One Simple Phrase Says About You...

When you can have friends come over and the first thing out of your mouth isn't "Excuse the mess," you have accomplished two major things in life. 

  1.  You have found true friends. Real friends don't care what you or your kids look like. Or even what your house smells like they are stuck with you and you are stuck with them because the time for pleasantries has passed. You know that these people can watch you throw a grown up temper tantrum or have your credit card declined and they aren't going to turn up their nose. For whatever reason they love you and your quarks and just like you never feel the need to vacuum before they "pop in" they wouldn't even notice if you did. These are the folks you hang on to because without them you would sink.
  2.  You have reached a level of confidence just above I DGAF and Katy Perry's Roar. You are comfortable enough in your own skin that what material things you have and your attachment to said things is no longer the center of your universe. You know that you will be the same AWESOME version of yourself REGARDLESS of how much or little laundry you have done that week.

I love the moms that stand in front of me and say to my face how easy it is to keep their house spotless and their kid is in 5 extracurricular activities and they are pursuing a degree, working full time and still have hobbies I just smile with yesterday's soup in my hair and the same pajamas I went to bed in at 2pm and say, well my kids are alive and I read a book 2 years ago. 

It's not a competition and I'm happy for those moms that have it together. Does that mean I don't? No I just have different priorities. I would rather write a book or pursue another career rather than organize a kitchen that will soon have pots and pans scattered all over the floor once my toddler decides that he wants to explore his musically inclinations.

Be the happiest you can be, clean clothes, folded laundry optional, unless that is where you find your happy place of course. For instance I love to cook.  Baking makes me smile but if the very thought of putting a meal together fills you with anxiety and you're only doing it so that you come across in a positive light to someone else, then order take out. 
Just be you, that's all you should have to worry about, no more excuses.  Deal?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I had a great interview with a remarkable woman,

I had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow indie author, whose story I utterly fell in love with. Merjjena Hemp took the brave step of writing her memoirs and even though I went to college with her I had no idea! Don't let the smiling face on the cover fool you, Beyond The Shadow of 3000 Pairs of Shoes is a unique story that will have you reaching for your Kleenex, and I'm not a cry-er.
As always my comments/questions will appear in black, while Merj's will be in pink.

Tell us a little about yourself.  Did you always want to be an author?  What brought you to writing?

I have not changed a whole lot since leaving my little village in the Philippines and having the opportunity to learn valuable lessons of courage, resilience, and personal responsibility from the runaways on the streets of Manila. They taught me not to be afraid to dream big, not to hesitate to aim high, and never allow anyone to stop you from thinking “huge.”
I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be an author but I knew at some point I would be sharing my experiences growing up from a dictatorial regime, street life, and the long journey with hopelessness, persistence, and survival.
What is your favorite book? How has it influenced your writing?

My favorite book is Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir. Her story of courage and resilience taught me not to be apologetic of who and what we are. Her story inspired me not to be embarrassed to share even the ugliest and the most unpleasant things that happened in our lives because those experiences can help rebuild ourselves as the strongest people that others may learn from.
The title of your book is "3000 Pairs of Shoes," for those that don't immediately get the reference can you provide some context?
I feel that even the younger generation grasps that 3000 Pairs of Shoes symbolize more than just the ridiculous number of shoes but something deeper and significant. To a large number of the Filipinos who suffered during the Marcos Regime, the shoes (owned by Mrs. Imelda Marcos) symbolize wealth, extravagance, elegance, beauty, as well as oppression, poverty, hunger, hopelessness, and the extremely long period of suffering endured by the Filipino people.
I write fiction, and as much as I see myself in my characters, I able still able to hide behind the fact that it is fiction, was it very hard for you to tell your story and put it all out there?  Why was it so important to tell your story?
The hardest part of writing my memoir is not so much the agony of re-living my story because I have shared my experiences already many times since joining the doctoral program. I was more afraid that it might be hard for my son and my husband to read it because I have never shared my story around them in great detail.
Even though my experiences were not extremely brutal and horrific as many people, particularly women and children, have experienced and those who are currently suffering due to different circumstances and conditions, I felt impelled to share my experiences to show gratitude and appreciation to those people (good and bad) who made me the person I am today.
Do you prefer e-books or paper books?
I do prefer e-books because I can store and carry them all in one tiny device. However, I will always buy paper books that have touched and moved me for personal collection as well as to give away as gifts to friends and family.
Why did you choose to self-publish? Are you looking for a publishing deal?  Any advice for authors looking to publish?
I don’t have a publishing deal but to be honest, I am not looking for one right now because I strongly believe that it’s only a matter of time before self-published authors get the due respect and recognition as authors with publishing deals and contracts with major publishing companies.
My advice for authors looking to publish is to consider what is important to them as well as do some research on both self and traditional publishing. Some of my colleagues still roll their eyes at me because I self-published my memoir. What do I say to them? Wake up, the world is changing…
What do you want people to take away from your memoirs?
I am going to repeat my personal message that I want people to take away from my memoir: Don’t be afraid to dream big, not to hesitate to aim high, and never allow anyone stop you from thinking “huge.”
Any other books in the works?  

I am currently completing the second book in the Beyond the Shadow series, Beyond the Shadow of September.

You can find Merjjena's memoir, Beyond The Shadow of 3000 Pairs of Shoes here. Download the Ebook today!

Want more Merj?

Her website is and @merj on Twitter
Merjjena B. Hemp received her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with a Minor in Educational Learning Technologies at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has a passion for helping women and children, advocacy organizations that are supporting the abused, homeless, and runaways.  As the spouse of a military veteran and an educator, she uses her background to engage different communities that include the military as well as the Arab Muslim communities in hard conversations about our lives in the post-9/11 era. She is currently completing her second book, Beyond the Shadow of September: Exploring the Multiple Perspectives of Arab Muslim Women’s Experiences in the Post-9/11 Era. She plans to return to the academic setting where she can utilize her experiences, strengths, enthusiasm, and commitment to educate and empower students, so they too can empower and advocate for others who are left and forgotten as she once was, living under the shadow of 3000 pairs of shoes.