Everything You Need to Know About My 16th Book, “The Manager”

Well, it looks like once again I’ve fallen off the blog bandwagon for a while. While I may have stopped blogging frequently, writing is something I’ll never quit doing. I mean, I’ve already written 15. Why stop there? 

As I prepare to start writing, here’s some insights and sneak peeks when it comes to my “sweet 16” novel, The Manager! 

So our story takes a break from the action of my past novels and steers more towards comedic relief. It follows 20-year-old Carmen Rodriguez, a college student who works at a hardware store in her hometown of Miami. Carmen’s store, number 7711, (an homage to my hardware store which is number 1177 in the chain), has struggled for years. 

Carmen, although she is just a seasonal cashier at her local “DIY Depot,” nicknamed the “Double D,” loves her store and the people who work there. With another store manager being fired, the 5th in just three years, the store is in danger of closing. No one is willing to step up and save the store. Carmen, wanting to save the jobs of store 7711’s 100 employees, along with making sure the store she loves stays afloat, agrees to drop out of college and train as a manager. 

Although 7711’s employees love Carmen, they have serious doubts about her ability to manage a failing store. However, driven by her love for the employees of 7711, she searches for ways to cut costs that aren’t at the expense of employees, and finds new, yet original ways to create success for her store. Carmens strange and unconventional methods, from motivating her employees with expensive gifts to taking the store’s delivery truck on a road trip to hire the homeless, may actually turn out to be more effective than the store may have planned. 

But with managing a store comes more stress than Carmen originally thought she can handle. Carmen constantly battles with herself emotionally, trying to stay awake during 14 hour shifts and staying calm during all the customer complaints. As the youngest and first Latina manager in DIY Depot history, she also has to deal with pressures and judgement from the higher-ups at corporate. As time goes on, Carmen begins to wonder how long she can actually go on as 7711’s manager. Eventually she still wants to finish her degree, but if she leaves 7711, the store will end up closing. 

So there you have it! The full, non-spoiler details of my sweet 16 novel. More info on The Manager will be coming up soon! 

Life Goes On: Losing My Writing Job

Hello my fellow WordPress followers! It’s been a while since I posted because my life has been kind of upside down. So today I’m going to put a rare personal twist on my post, and share something that has changed the course of my life. 

On April 11th at 4:30, just 30 minutes before the end of the day, I was brought into a conference room with my boss’s assistant and the hr manager. After 4 months, they told me I was fired, wished me luck, and had me clean out my desk. Although it wasn’t a huge surprise, I was still upset. My first job in my field and I blew it. 

I left the office embarrassed and ashamed, but knew that I did my best, gave it everything I could, and that this would be a learning experience. A week later, I started back at the hardwear store where I’ve worked since I was 18. My life feels complete again. 

Even though right now I have crazy hours and no health insurance, I don’t regret leaving my permanent job at the store for the office job in my field. I knew from my college internship that offices weren’t right for me, and this job just reaffirms that–and that’s precfectly OKAY. Not everyone goes on to persue their degrees. I realized how passionate I was about my store, and although I wanted to get through this post without trash talking the company, I learned from my former supervisor what not to do if someday I move up into my new goal of becoming upper management at my store. 

Working at the office was extremely stressful. I really don’t know how people can sit at a computer all day every day for years. I was stressed from the minute I left on Fridays until I went back on Monday–not because I had to sit at a desk, but from other stresses within the company. It’s such a joy not to feel frightened and sick when I go into work anymore. 

Anyway, maybe I’ll work on another post sometime later on about my experience at the office. Although I’m tired after finishing my 15th book and taking a break from writing for now, I plan to keep updating regularly. 

Getting Close to Finishing a Book

So I realized rather late that it is a Sunday and I haven’t written anything for my lovely blog here. Instead of an advice piece, because I can’t come up with anything else, tonight I’ll go with a “Progress Piece,” or what I’m doing in my writing.

I’ve been working on my novel Fangs and Fortune for a while now (in my opinion, because I tend to finish books super fast). I started in early December, and now that the end of March is approaching, so is the end of my story…I think. I hope, at least. I’ve had a lot of different things going on within the book and every time I think that I’m getting closer to the ending, something else comes up.

But, I learned from all this that in my situation, all of these things coming up has been leading to a much greater word count. At 37k with a lot of stuff still to happen, I’d be glad to be at novel length, the 50k gem. Mostly because this book is a big deal for me. I’m pretty impressed with myself, being only 22 years old and a few weeks away from finishing my 15th book. Maybe even less than that, depending on how much I can get done this week.

I think the hardest part of being close to finishing a novel is knowing that you’re close and just wanting to hit that finish line. That was how I originally gave myself carpal tunnel. With Fangs and Fortune writing combined with writing all day at work, it’s a lot for my hands to hand-le. Back when I was in high school, I’d write 10-15 pages a day just to try and finish something.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, because I can’t just write a personal post without advice, is that if you’re close to finishing your novel, hang in there. Don’t overwork yourself to the point of carpal tunnel, or even ganglion cysts, like myself. If you think you can finish your book tonight, then that’s great. If you need a few more days or a week, then don’t sweat it. Stay focused and stay calm, because the finish line is in sight.

Diversity in Writing

Earlier this week was International Women’s Day. While using my incredibly bad artistic skills to draw a picture of all the main characters from my books celebrating, I noticed how different many of them were. All different heights and shapes, all with different personalities, but what stood out to me the most was the array of different colored faces.

Since I started writing novels at sixteen, I made a promise to myself that I’d have “something for everyone.” I wanted every person to like at least one of my books, so I set out doing all different genres, from comedy to horror, from fantasy to action. I also wanted to have characters with different backgrounds, from rich to homeless, from regular two-parent households to those with single parents or being raised by someone else. I’ve had characters that were adopted, characters that lost a sibling, and characters with up to five siblings.

Most importantly, my goal was to feature characters of different races and abilities. So far, I’ve made main characters that are Armenian, Native American, Asian, African American, Latina, and in my upcoming book, Indian.

Diverse doesn’t necessarily have to mean a different race, it can also be someone who goes through life differently than us, from a mental illness to reduced mobility. Two of my main characters suffer from a physical issue, like Lia who is blind and Violet who is a little person. I’ve also had characters with mental health issues, like Arabella with social anxiety and Freya with depression. Billions of people go through life with the same issues, and I want them to have relatable characters too.

I started thinking about famous modern novels, ones that you see or here about everywhere and have been adapted into movies. Most, if not all, of the main characters are similar. It makes me wonder why there aren’t more ultra-famous novels starring characters of different backgrounds. Mental health issues seem to be covered, but main characters with a physical disability are few and far between. When you think about it, our world is diverse. In a room full of people no one looks the same, so why should our characters?

How to Stay Interested in Your Book

Imagine having a great idea for a book, but not necessarily planning out the whole thing. You’ve got your setting and main character, you know what is going to happen to them throughout the book, but you start writing and just don’t feel that same passion. This happened to me once, and I hope it never happens again.

Writing a book you’re not passionate about can be a total drag. Of course, if you have OCD about finishing your books like I do, you can’t just stop writing it. After suffering through the writing process of a book I didn’t feel connected to, I devised a list of five ways to change your book so that you can not only make it to that last-chapter finish line, but have fun getting there!

1. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

There’s nothing more interesting than writing something you haven’t done before and have no idea about. It’s fun to research and then apply what you’ve learned into your book. In my current novel, Fangs and Fortune, my main character Taliah is an expectant mother. I chose to go this route because, well, I’ve never done it before! It’s helped me get excited about the book and learn about something I didn’t know much about.

2. Write About Something Close to You

Grief, loss, and trauma happens to everyone at some point in life. If you can’t think of a struggle for your character, try incorporating something that was difficult for you in life. Maybe they were bullied or had anxiety. Maybe they lost a loved one or were a victim of a crime. If your character shares the same experience, no one knows how they feel better than you.

3. It’s Okay to Change Course

My action story, Saving Flight 926, was originally going to be the thrilling tale of my main character Arabella, an aviation-obsessed 17-year-old, landing a plane full of people and becoming a hero. When the plane landed on page 30, I knew I had to have a different approach. The second half of the story describes her struggle with PTSD. If something isn’t working in your story, just try something else!

4. Bring Out Your Fun and Crazy Characters

Now I’m not talking actual characters here. I’m talking about real people. In high school, I loved incorporating people I knew into my stories (and sometimes still do). Bringing in people from your real life takes away the process of having to think of personalities for all your characters, and for me, was a ton of fun to write. I loved incorporating common things they said and their personality traits. Just be sure to have them go through a name change.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We all like to think of ourselves as novel-writing geniuses. And then we hit writer’s block. After the plane landed in Saving Flight 926 and Arabella was home with her family, I had no idea what to do! So, I reached out to some friends for help. One said, “Why don’t you have her struggle with PTSD?” It was the “eureka” moment for me. I never even thought of that! I truly believe that it would have taken me so much longer to finish that book if it weren’t for the help from my friend. Friends and family help us when we’re stuck in life. They also help when we get stuck on books, so reach out to them!

 

 

Never Giving Up on Your Blog

For this weeks entry, I chose to stick with a more personal topic instead of an advice post. Well, not really too personal, but just not an advice post. It’s fun to change things up, right?

Over four months ago I started consistently blogging again, sitting down and writing  a post every Sunday, usually in the afternoon or night because I can never think of what to write. In that time I’ve gotten maybe ten new followers, an okay amount of likes, and so on. I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t given up and stopped updating on Sundays. This is probably one of the most consistent things I’ve done in my life.

Looking at the stats page and seeing days with no views, seeing posts get no likes at all, sharing my blog over social media and seeing no improvement-it’s difficult, and sometimes I question whether or not I should stop writing on here.

But I definitely won’t until something literally inhibits me from doing so. Just like with our stories, some posts will be more successful than others. My most popular post doesn’t even have anything to do with my blog. I mean, it is technically writing advice because it warns everyone that they shouldn’t write for the scam website University Primetime. It’s just like how an unexpected story we write can become so popular.

Giving up is something that writers literally just can’t do. If we don’t market ourselves or finish our work, we’re never going to get published and achieve that dream of walking into a bookstore and taking a book off the shelf with our name on the cover.

No matter how little views or likes you have, never give up on your blog. Never give up on writing consistently, sharing it, or constantly trying to improve it. Someday, you are going to write that post that will get a lot of attention. Will today be that day?

How to be a Great Wattpad Critic (In 5 Easy Steps) 

For this weeks post I’ll be focusing on something that has been a big part of my Wattpad journey: critiques. They’ve helped me not only teach others, but gain friends, followers, and feedback for myself. While it is tons of fun, being a Wattpad critic isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are 5 steps to get your critic journey going, and going well.

1. Advertise! 

Wattpaders won’t know you’re a critic if you aren’t advertising! Head straight to the designated help thread and post an advertisement. Here’s mine, made from a simple photo editing app. Picture advertisements will help you stand out in a long thread. 


2. Ditch the Complicated Sign Ups

I’ve mentioned in past posts about how much I hate special forms when seeking help from other Wattpadders. Forget forms, special passwords, etc when having others request your service. Keep is short and sweet. Explain what you’re willing to help with and your payment. Don’t ask for story descriptions, titles, or say, “what you’re looking for help with” etc, either. I’m going to get real here. If you’re a critic, you should be helping with everything, not ignoring some things and pointing out others. 

3. Don’t Sugar Coat, but Don’t be Mean Either

ALWAYS be polite and honest when performing a critique. Even if the book is literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen and every sentence makes you want to rip your eyes out, don’t resort to saying things like, “this sucks.” But don’t only point out the positives either. Our job as critics is to help others improve their work. Even seasoned writers feel hurt when getting negative feedback. It’s part of the writing process. 

4. Always Re-Read Your Feedback

Having a sophisticated, grammatically correct feedback post or comment will not only improve your reputation with the author, but can even attract others to seek your feedback after seeing your post in the comments section. Always re-read your feedback before posting to make sure there are no errors, and to see that you’ve said everything you meant to. 

5. Respect the Author’s Feelings

Many times, authors will be very unhappy with even the slightest amount of negative feedback. They may say things like, “Thanks, but I disagree.” Or “Thanks for your feedback, but I’m not changing that.” And you know what, that’s OKAY. Never feel like you wasted your time doing a critique for someone who doesn’t want to listen right now. Eventually they may change their minds and fix their work, and your comment will still be there for reference.