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You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
I was thinking of starting this blog post with the ol’ …holy crap I haven’t blogged in three months and this is what I’ve been doing and isn’t it interesting and here are some links for you to click on and AHHHHHHHHH!
That would be as bad as me asking a co-worker in the elevator how their weekend was, followed by us dying of the most boring conversation ever.
Oh wait…I AM going to tell you how my weekend was, because it’s pertinent, highly pertinent!
It starts with a vision of how I’ll be in Paris in 2013, and ends with me shedding a single manly tear, because I never take the time to appreciate the city that’s influenced so much of my writing.
And that leads me to my Toronto List. This is not exactly a bucket list and I’m not exactly a large-foreheaded man with a crazy smile who starred in a movie called “The Bucket List.” This is about a woman who spent so many hours inside a Starbucks WRITING about the Toronto she used to experience, she kind of got too busy to stop and enjoy it in the last year or so.
And so, armed with two BFFs and a pair of ear muffs (it was cold outside), off we went!
First we needed to have breakfast at one of the best (if not best) breakfast places in Toronto. I had been here once before, but only this weekend did I realize it was voted the best breakfast place in Toronto. It’s called Auntie and Uncle’s, and boy does it give you that down-home feeling. I loved the vintage feeling of old signs on the wall, but what I loved even more were the oatmeal and banana pancakes which are the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my life! You must go.
I just remembered the coffee place we went to before breakfast (this is what happens when I write my blog posts on the fly, it’s like a real conversation..what fun!). This place was called “Manic Coffee and Gelato,” and it was so NOT a Starbucks! They make a mean cappuccino and people play intense chess at the back table. I think the guy with the beard was winning.
Another thing I’ve always wanted to do was ride a streetcar to a bunch of different places. I know that sounds weird, but I always take the subway underground, so going off the beaten path and taking an above-ground streetcar was an adventure! What I learned from that adventure is that crazy people have crazy-loud conversations on their cellphones. Like YELLING conversations about paying child support to your various bastard children and about how can this chick not afford to buy a couch with her welfare check?! Couches are not that expensive. And some instances of “DAMNNN girl” thrown in. I guess this is the difference between not having cell phone reception on a subway, and…madness .
After that we headed to the famous Christmas Market in Toronto’s Distillery District. I hadn’t been here in the longest time, and had never before seen the Christmas Market. This place is full of old-school charm which makes me happy, and it’s one of the few big areas where no cars are allowed. My highlights here were riding a ferris wheel as a grown up, singing along as Toronto tried to break the world record for most people caroling at once (if I figure out how to post the video on WordPress I’ll add it here), and trying what was voted Toronto’s best hot chocolate at Soma Chocolate (it was divine!). There was also a big outdoor beer garden with outdoor couches and fire bowls, the perfect place to snuggle up with a first date (or a fiftieth date if you’re trying to re-kindle the flame, everyone has different needs).
After that my most awesome friend cooked a bunch of us girls a fabulous dinner, and with our bellies full of fat we did the most magical Canadian thing of all…
…We went ice-skating!
I’d been ice-skating at city hall before, but never at the Harbourfront Centre by the water, so this was a new experience for me. I was starting to catch a cold that day, but it didn’t matter, because as soon as I got on the ice I felt like an Indian kid discovering ice for the first time…what magic! I wasn’t that great, but I didn’t wipe out even once, and sometimes I skated at speeds that scared the hell out of me; it’s good to get scared sometimes.
Speaking of being scared, my intentions on appreciating Toronto in the present have a lot to do with how huge and crazy my dreams for the future really are. YES, I want to go to Paris in 2013 for some undetermined amount of time, and YES I need to keep writing new things to be challenged. When I thought about that, I realized I hadn’t written anything since “Last-Minute Love” came out, and that made me feel uncomfortably…comfortable. I got so caught up in promoting the book and the business side of things, that I forgot about spending time writing and wondering if it’ll turn out as crap and did I waste all this time and what if nothing I write is ever funny again and ahhhhhhh….I LOVE that fear! I sort of lost my connection with that when I focused on being “finished” with a project, but now that I’m coming up to 5,000 sales (around 4,900 now…can I round up?) I realize that this milestone means something. It means that I’m a writer for LIFE. I mean last December I was celebrating 1,000 sales, so coming up on 5,000 a year later is a big deal for little ol’ self-published me.
But I’m not ready to make myself a cocktail and bask in it. I’m ready to be proud of myself and forge ahead, to the next thing that people will secretly laugh at when they realize it’s my dream:
-I’m adapting “Year of the Chick” into a screenplay
People always told me the first book felt like a movie, and now I’m going to see if that’s right. Even though I wrote a screenplay last year and it advanced in several contests, I’m still a real novice, but will that stop me? NO! I say this out-loud to myself, whenever I think about how all the big publishers rejected me, and now I’ve reached almost 5,000 sales on my own. It was just as impossible a goal, so this is my next impossible goal. Once I get feedback on my screenplay and edit it, I’m going to submit it to The Black List, where your screenplay gets rated for potential reading by one (or a few) of the 1,000 industry professionals that use the site. Even though the average rating is 5.23 out of 10, and even though every website and every screenwriting guru and every successful screenwriter and every other hopeful will temper your enthusiasm with the cold hard facts that you’ll probably never make it…that’s okay. There’s a certain part of being a dreamer where you take in all that info and all the realism, but you STILL practice your Golden Globe award speech in the shower with the shampoo bottle playing the part of the trophy. That’s really strange for me since my shampoo bottle is round and doesn’t look like an Oscar or Golden Globe, but I have a pretty good imagination (and now you know what shampoo I use…why don’t I just give you my address and phone number too?). I guess what I’m trying to say is…if you never take the time to imagine your impossible dreams, you’ll only ever get what you already have.
And I’m not a 5.23 out of 10.
So do the hard work and learn all the rules, but remember to make the most of your time in the shower (feel free to interpret that in the usual gross ways).
Keep smiling and keep making people feel uncomfortable by pretending you’re the first all-female pairs figure skating team in the Olympics….see you in 2013!
As bestselling author Jodi Picoult was quoted as saying in an article last week: “DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.”
As my mother was quoted as saying right after my birthday last year: “DO NOT WAIT PAST THIRTY TO FIND A BOY.”
I would like to clarify that my mother does not encourage pedophilia, she is merely referring to the menu of grown Indian men, one of which should become my husband. They are not underage men by any means, but you see, unmarried Indian adults are always referred to as “boys” and “girls” by matchmaking Indian ladies far and wide. I believe this title helps fuel the precious lie that unmarried Indian adults are like untouched innocent babes, until their hands first meet in that awkward first dance at their wedding reception.
Back to my original statement: I broke Jodi Picoult’s rule in these past twelve months, and, unless I get engaged in these final four hours before my birthday (anyone?…anyone?) , I broke my mother’s age-ist rule as well.
Here’s what happened this year instead:
-First I said goodbye to my twenties, not long after I’d said goodbye to the greatest inspiration, muse, and romantic adventure of my life. There was no death involved in this goodbye (unless you count the dying of a soul—emo!), but it was more the eventual return to reality, and all that society expects. I was not in agreement with this ”convenient path” cop-out, but would I spend age thirty keeled over from the loss of something? Or would I stand up straight and have the best year ever? Let’s see…
-A week after saying hello to age thirty, I self-published. This was a month after saying “bye bye!” to my literary agent. It wasn’t the original book I’d submitted to her that I published, but instead a crazy parody, because…I’m crazy. This is the thing about self-publishing. You can publish crazy parodies that a “Random House” or any other publisher would never even sniff at, because…it’s crazy. Yet still you can carve out your own little space in “reader world” and find an audience, as long as you’re tough enough to know that for all the people who love it, some people will truly despise it. I am tough enough, and so finding an audience was and is…a glorious feeling. And to sell over a thousand copies of this title alone? Entirely unexpected and a bonus, since writing humorous essays is actually my side-note to the novelist dream.
-Two weeks after I self-published, I went to Florida and got a wicked tan. This was a true act of rebellion, when Indian mothers raise you to stay out of the sun so you can look as white as possible (but you’re not allowed to date white dudes…irony?). Once I returned all toasty and brown, my value on the marriageable market plummeted to almost zero. I was pleased.
-In an effort to avoid the burning of my glorious tan, I spent the next few weeks indoors, reading free screenplays online, as well as a couple of very helpful how-to books (Your Screenplay Sucks! and Coffee Break Screenwriter). A few short weeks after that, I’d written my very first screenplay, because sometimes, when something pretty epic happens in your life…you simply have to make a story out of it (spoken like a true melodramatic artist). Over the next eight months, this screenplay would advance to the semi-finals or higher in eight screenplay competitions. I did this for no other reason than to say “haha, I can,” and the results that followed proved “check it out, I did.“
Feeling rather confident after the initial screenplay results, I dusted off the first novel I ever wrote, the one that had been rejected by all the major publishers. To me it was a blessing in disguise to wait a year and a half before reviewing this novel once again. A blessing because…anyone who studies the craft of writing understands that you only get better with time and practice, so to revise that novel with fresh eyes after all the things I’d learned was the right approach. This book, “Year of the Chick” has been out now for over five months, and as it slowly finds its audience, the response has been incredible. It never gets old to read a new person’s reaction on my Facebook author page, and every time that happens, I think about how that NEVER would’ve happened, if I’d kept on waiting and hoping for a traditional publisher to pick me. And THAT…is glorious feeling number two .
-In January I was in-between projects, so I thought I should write a short story, a prequel to “Year of the Chick.” I published that story on Valentine’s Day, and to have readers buy it and enjoy it before or after picking up my full-length book has been…glorious (this is the post of the over-used adjective). In a world without self-publishing, how on earth would we be able to sell 10,000-word short stories for 99 cents, that readers could enjoy on various devices during a coffee break or commute ride home? We are in the midst of a revolution, and I’m sorry Jodi Picoult, but you should not be telling authors not to do something in ALL-CAPS without the logic to back it up, because that only means we will do it harder.
-In March, after almost a year of self-publishing, I didn’t want to lose my thunder, so I needed to buckle down and write a sequel to “Year of the Chick.” So…I took a week off work and wrote 58,000 words in six days. That was a crazy experience that I wrote about here, and because I focused everything on making that draft, I am now in the comfortable first-revision mode, and right on track with my deadline to release the sequel (June 7th! ).
-Also in March, I got hit on by a young barista at Starbucks, to the tune of an extra shot of espresso free of charge, proving that I may be thirty, but I’ve stilllll got it.
-As the first year of self-publishing draws to a close, I can easily say it was the best year ever. Each individual thing builds upon the other, and if not for that first scary step of self-publishing last April, I would have never followed it with a full-length novel, a crazy poetry collection, a short story, and an upcoming sequel. And all with a full-time job. People think I’m nuts when I describe this, and yes, I actually am.
-As for age thirty almost drawing to a close, earlier today, after my father yet again asked to put my ad in the “arranged marriage classifeds,” I, for the first time ever, stated that I don’t believe in arranged marriage, and that I’m never going to take this approach. I have never seen both my parents look so disappointed and disgusted in me….ever. Something tells me I won’t be getting a birthday card tomorrow, but that’s okay, because my biggest goal of age thirty was to stop living a lie, and like a true procrastinator, I waited until eight hours before the deadline to do it…but I finally did.
-So… how am I going to make the next year even more epic? Well here’s a short summary of my to-do list: release the sequel of “Year of the Chick on June 7th, have another blog tour, have another book-release party in the fall (Grey Goose and books, anyone?), learn how the eff one does audiobooks, record audiobooks, learn about podcasting (would you guys like to hear a podcast done by crazy me?), and have some more adventures that can inspire my future writing.
If there’s a final note I can add to any writers who stumble upon this: self-publishing is amazing but if you do go that route, be amazing to IT in return. What I mean is, the only way to silence people like Jodi Picoult or to get new readers to support you, is to write the best damn books possible with the best damn editing possible. Otherwise, we’re screwing readers over, and they’ll screw us back by telling everyone we suck and with good reason. Think about it. And ahem…that doesn’t mean you still won’t get bad reviews or be called a “bitch” in a review (yes, it happened to me…what fun!), but it means you can fix all the non-subjective reasons for people disliking your book.
PS: I’m trying to bring back the word “wicked” (used it once in the title and once in the post). Is it working?…
The dawn of a new year. This is the time when people either glow with possibility, slip a stranger the tongue ’cause hey, it’s not slutty if it’s New Year’s Eve, or wallow in the chill of past mistakes and regret.
Or a maximum of two out of three.
It’s polarizing, to say the least.
I’ve blogged about my path to publishing now and then, but it’s only as the year soon comes to a close, that I realize its true significance.
If a picture could say a thousand words (or however many words this blog post will last), this picture of me would tell a story that goes like this…
…2011 began, and it was truly “the best of times and the worst of times.” Every day in January was either the euphoria of giving my heart away in the face of tough circumstances, or the fear of having it broken. It would’ve been a roller-coaster of adventure for people addicted to drama, but that’s not my addiction. I, as the years have shown, am addicted to happy endings.
As the year moved a little bit forward, I made the grandest of gestures, one that only a foolish main character in a chick-flick would do, because only on the precious reel of film, could a chance meeting and six months of addictive contact lead to hopping on a plane for one last whirlwind weekend, in the hopes of a happy ending.
That weekend remains, by far the biggest “up” of 2011.
But life’s not a movie, motherfuckers.
So then came the “down.”
In situations where one knows something is doomed but chases it anyway, one is left with two conflicting emotions:
If one was in her early-to-mid twenties and hadn’t walked such a road before, one may have turned to the tempting comfort of chocolate, and the giant ass that would inevitably result.
But when one’s thirtieth birthday loomed near at the time of these two emotions, one instead said: “I will NOT force myself to buy a brand new wardrobe to prepare for my giant ass. I feel ACCOMPLISHED for laying it on the line, so I will go and make some art now, thank you very much.“
And that was April and May.
First it was “The Book of Awful”, which finally stopped being a half-finished thing that an agent didn’t like ’cause it was “weird,” and instead became a self-published book, on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.
Then came May and June (yes, I overlap in inspiration).
First it was the purchase of two books on screenwriting ( “Your Screenplay Sucks!”, “The Coffee-Break Screenwriter”), and then it was the creation of a screenplay, one that took its inspiration from a period of my life that felt so very much like a movie.
When my screenplay started advancing in competitions, I knew this special story wasn’t a fluke. It was more like a sign, and a story that seemed so perfect as the sequel to “Year of the Chick.”
And then came October.
After making a print version of “The Book of Awful,” and dusting off the first full-length novel I ever wrote (the one I’d given up on when an agent couldn’t sell it), I edited it for a month, and changed some things based on what I’d learned about writing in the last couple of years.
I sent this book called “Year of the Chick” into the world in late November.
Around the same time, I was hard at work creating a print version of “Year of the Chick,” a version I’ve now submitted for a blog tour in January, and a version that I’ve started selling locally, out of the back of a van in an alley (or more accurately, out of a cardboard box from underneath my desk).
Now we’re at the end of the year, and my grassroots marketing is only just beginning. I will sell my book in independent bookstores, I will leave random copies around town, and I will read out passages to anyone who will listen.
And the thought of all these things feels GREAT, so we’re back to the “up.”
What I won’t do now is give up. Ever. It’s a long and prickly and EXTREMELY UNLIKELY road to ever finding big success, but as I always say, small probabilities are no reason to quit. Especially when random readers from Australia or Texas or wherever buy my book and let me know they simply loved it. That’s enough reason to never give up, and it warms my heart like few other things (another “up”).
The only thing that concerns me as a new year looms is writing even more. I’m not short on ideas, but adapting my screenplay into the “Year of the Chick” sequel has implications, for how I’m viewed by the people in my life. What I mean is…when you make something artistic and you want people to care about it, at least some percentage of that art comes from a real place. If you risk nothing, it could mean nothing, and vice versa. My screenplay is rooted in the past, so to write a fresh novel out of THAT, means clinging to the past in some small way, for however long it takes to make some brand new art.
And that’s when your friends start to think you’re fucking crazy.
I’ve already felt it this year and will feel it even more in 2012. Their gentle urges to distract you from the long gone past, their nervous encouragement as they fear for your overall sanity…
This is the part of writing no one tells you about. The part where your dearest friends might quietly think you’re a lunatic.
So with one foot in the present and one foot in the past, I will look to the future and honour the name of my blog in my everyday life, with way more borderline “crazy” in 2012. As for the blog itself, writing another novel with a full-time job will be draining, especially word-count wise, so I may just come here for video blog updates (IF I can muster up the courage to be on screen…to be determined).
As a final note: a goal I’ve had my eye on for purely symbolic reasons, is to sell 1,000 copies of my book by the end of 2011. Sales are slowing down with Christmas preparations upon us, but with 13 days left and 996 sales, I’d say I have a very good shot. If it happens, you’ll hear me screaming about it from my Facebook Page…
[UPDATE: I reached the goal on December 19th by 7pm and YES I screamed about it on my Facebook Page!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1,004 books sold in 2011 and counting... ]
And see you in 2012.
Three years, ten months, and twenty-eight days from when the Year of the Chick blog began…the full-length novel spin-off is actually…officially…FOR SALE!
I don’t have much to add to this post except an Internet smile and my own giddiness. I don’t even care if anyone buys it (well…a few of you can buy it, that would be cool). What I care about is that in 2008, when I was blogging about a quest to find a man (jokingly of course, I’m not desperate or anything…HAHAHA!), I only thought about turning it into a book as a far off, unicorn-like notion.
Well now I’m going to ride this unicorn bitch into the sunset.
The fictional tale of “Year of the Chick” is ideal for anybody who’s ever felt out of place, or ever met a creep-face at a bar, or ever tried searching for love. In other words it’s mass appeal, but with never-before-seen kind of moments (like a tea-time family set up for arranged marriage doom). The story also includes some facts of life from the modern world we live in (like talking to a stranger on the Internet…and hoping he’s not a pedophile).
Now that this monster of a project is released, it feels like I just had a baby, except it’s measured in kilobytes instead of kilograms (PS: it will be measured in pages by December 1st, when the paperback version is released!). Unlike a real baby though, my e-book hasn’t triggered a never-ending flow of lactation (or any lactation at all, to be clear—is this making you uncomfortable?).
So yeah, this diapered e-book baby is MINE, but if you want, it can also be yours as well.
“Year of the Chick” is book one in a trilogy. Book two is already complete in the form of a screenplay, which in the 2011 season has made it to the semi-finals or better in FIVE different screenplay competitions! (more details in the info section of my Facebook Author Page). All of this means that 2012 will be the year of: turning a screenplay into a novel, releasing book two, and writing book three. Completion of these tasks will require a shit-ton of hours dedicated to writing in 2012. With a full-time job. No biggie.
Please wish me luck in my continued quest to live two lives, for as long as I have to keep doing that!
Important shout-out: I’d like to plant an open-mouthed kiss of gratitude on my Toshiba Satellite A100 laptop. This old clunker got me through two hundred (and one) blog posts, two separate book attempts I eventually shelved, the creation and completion of a full-length novel, the creation and completion of a humor essays novel, and one full screenplay (and lots of porn…just kidding). I’m not even annoyed that in the last two months my laptop took it upon itself to randomly die repeatedly at least three times a week, forcing me to save my novel every thirty seconds in the final stages of completion. Not to mention that the battery is completely fried. I’m not pissed at you at all, Toshiba A100, but I will throw you out the window in the very near future, paying no mind to the bystander’s head you smash into.
Which brings me to my other important quest for 2012: save up my pennies for a MacBook Pro!
PS: thank you to anyone who ever read the various versions of my blog since 2007, and anyone who ever encouraged me on this path to publication!
Details for “Year of the Chick:”
E-book will be available by December 1st for: iTunes, Barnes & Noble Nook, & Sony Reader
Paperback (!!!) will be available by December 1st
The “what the eff is wrong with me” train has just made another delivery.
This time around, the funny idea I had whilst in the shower has been converted into thirty poems of awkward hot messes, in “NOT Love Poems For Real Life” (available in ebook format on Amazon for 99 cents; if you don’t have a Kindle, google “Kindle for PC or Mac,” it’s free). I initially envisioned fifty poems, but once I gassed up my editing chainsaw (whilst wearing a scary “Jason” mask and flannel), it was evident that I didn’t connect to some of the poems on a personal level. Not embarrassing enough, not revealing enough, and therefore a little bit flat.
And so, much to my chagrin, I put my reputation on the line in the name of art….yay.
To the people who know me, this collection is a fun little exercise in figuring out which poems are about whom…ohhh the scandal! After which I’ll confirm it’s about no one, since something so vague with so much fiction mixed in could never be proven as fact. Besides, the only person who should be hiding in a corner is me, ’cause nobody gets an ego beating in this publication like yours truly. But I’m not exactly the hide-in-the-corner type.
To the people who DON’T know me, this collection is vindication, for every real and epic poet who forgot about the not-so-epic experiences; all the frogs you had to kiss, all the times you were someone else’s frog bitch, you know, the mistake that made him/her run to someone else (hooray!…umm). The teenage pursuits, the hot men in suits, the constant rejection, the creepy-ass stalkers…where are OUR stanzas?!
Back to putting my reputation on the line, this isn’t a publication with a frame of reference; this can’t be compared to Twilight or Harry Potter or actually to any other “something” in existence, and that equals risk. “Shocked, appalled and offended” will probably happen as reactions. It was simply one of those things I had to do, before my brain would let me work on something else. I guess I just couldn’t face the thought of line-editing a book about finding love and blah, blah (i.e. Year of the Chick—which is not “blah”, I assure you!) before wrestling with some issues and being a little reckless. I guess it’s a side-project, like when Britney Spears tried out acting in the movie Crossroads. I have no further comment on that cinematic effort.
And so, if you read my blog and nothing I’ve said has offended you up until now, download away and have fun!
If you’re anybody else, I offer you this disclaimer: This work is not intended for young audiences, due to strong language and mature themes. These mature themes include: sexy time, rejection, humiliation, and the fear of dying alone.
That will be all for today, and as a final note: if you read my work and like it, I encourage you to interact in the following ways, each of which assists “independents” like me; thanks!
Facebook Author Page
A review on Amazon or Goodreads
Coming up next month…the one that started it all: based on the blog of the same name, one woman’s quest to find love in a year, all to avoid arranged marriage (cue dramatic music)…Year of the Chick! (I was trying to make that sound like a movie trailer, but it would’ve been more compelling if it randomly mentioned an epidemic, natural disaster or zombie attack…)