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When the sequel to “Year of the Chick” named “Last-Minute Love” said hello to the world on June 7th, whilst dripping in literary amniotic fluid and still attached to the thick corded noodle of my brain (gross imagery, I live for it), I felt so incredibly relieved. Obviously it was weird to have readers flipping through the pages of a slimy book that was still attached to my brain, but it was out there and my work was done…at last!
On the day of the release, I kept telling everyone how I would sleep like a baby for a while. Once our conversation faded out into everyday topics like whether or not gelato is the same as eating fruit (yes it is so we can have it always), I imagined how babies wake up often in the middle of the night, for seemingly endless bodily functions and boob-access.
I can’t remember when I last thought about having access to someone else’s boobs, because A: Growing out of “babyhood” means a plethora of meal options besides breast milk and B: last I checked, I wasn’t a lesbian (I check often via lingering stares towards females on the subway, just to make sure there’s nothing stirring inside—so far, status quo). As for bodily functions, I am accident-free until further notice.
So fine, I slept like an adult who’d been living two lives non-stop to get this sequel released, and who could finally exchange late nights and energy drinks for drool-heavy sleep and black tea (I know, I know, why not green tea? Everyone talks about the benefits of green tea, but let’s be honest, “once you go black, you never go back”—it took me years to finally realize that phrase is in reference to tea).
So here we are…day five of the sequel release, (officially day four and a half), and I’ve got great news to share so far!
First: I’ve sold 100 copies in only five days!
This is a big number for a “do-it-yourself” author like me, especially because it took me two and a half months to sell that many copies of book one! And so, even when sales slow down, I’m confident I’ll eventually out-sell book one, so hooray! I achieved my growth goal by putting on my marketing hat, and making book one free when the sequel came out. This worked out great for me exposure-wise, as well as ”I just finished reading book one and now I must read the second”-wise. Therefore, I encourage all self-published authors with a series to try out Amazon’s “KDP Select” program (where in exchange for three months of exclusivity, you can make your book free for five days).
The other great news is the incredible feedback I’ve received in just a few days. It’s amazing to hear from new fans on my Facebook page, as they describe how they stayed up late reading one or both of my books. It is also as intimidating as heck (I love how I say “heck” right now as if I never drop f-bombs in real life or in my books), because suddenly book three is supposed to magically appear….when I wasn’t even planning on writing it until 2013.
And I won’t start writing it sooner, dammit. Not until I move to Paris.
And so, as part of the Romi-out-reach program, please tell your friends about the series in-between your casual conversations about how healthy gelato is, because word-of-mouth is the difference between a nobody and a mommy-porn superstar like E L James!
PS: I don’t think I could write erotica if I tried, so DON’T ASK.
For new readers to my blog who don’t know: the “Year of the Chick” series is about a quest to find love to avoid arranged marriage. It’s full of awkward family moments, blunt conversations on dating, and forbidden love (especially book two!). It’s also *cough* loosely based on real life…
What romantic comedy WOULDN’T talk about pimp commissions from ho’s working overtime and dead-body smell that seeps from a corpse’s apartment?
Well…maybe all of them wouldn’t. But I don’t write typical rom-com’s, as loyal readers have by now gathered. Besides, AS IF I could post the normal, lovey-dovey, will-definitely-make-you-cry excerpts from the book on my borderline-insane blog? For that romance stuff you’ll have to pay, when the sequel comes out in June.
Meanwhile, after giving away over 13,000 free digital copies of “Year of the Chick” on Amazon last week (who needs money after all? Food stamps all the way), I figured I should probably post some progress from the editing I’ve been doing on the sequel.
Each of the free excerpts I post in the months leading up to the release (June!) will be ambiguous enough to avoid any true spoilers, but interesting enough to fondle the nerve-endings of your giant brain. Or so I hope.
Here, I give you an excerpt from Chapter One of the “Year of the Chick” sequel (and clearly I have yet to come up with a title for the book).
Coolness factor of main character: low to non-existent
Sexual references: one
Decomposing bodies references: two
When I opened the door to the Royal Ontario Museum’s foyer, street sounds were replaced with the excited chatter of museum revelers. The area was packed with school children wrapping up their field trips, and tourists just now piling in. I pushed past all of them, heading straight to the VIP queue.
A middle-aged woman with a long-forgotten grown-out perm (she’s obviously not getting bi-annual perms from her daughter like my mom), an oversized navy museum blazer, and a thin-lipped smile waited patiently, as I fumbled through my bulging wallet. Having a bulging wallet always made me feel important, like a pimp who couldn’t clip his stack of cash in a tidy bank roll, since his ho’s had been working so much overtime. Unlike a pimp’s commission though, my wallet was empty on cash and full of useless “points cards” instead, ones that would earn me a trip to Paris in approximately eighty years. I eventually filtered through the plastic, finding my membership card and handing it to the blazer-wearing lady.
“Most of our year-round members are seniors,” she mused, as her gaze switched from my photo to my not-so-senior face.
She handed back the card and nodded in approval.
It was unclear.
I shrugged my shoulders and smiled as I took in the possibilities. Dinosaurs to my left, South East Asia to my right, and my personal favourites up above (Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt).
I decided to skip the elevator, opting for a curvy stone staircase with a totem pole in the middle. I stared at each face on the totem pole as I climbed the steps, with the full curiosity of the history-book-reading nerd I used to be. At home I had a bookcase stacked with everything from an entire giant book on Van Gogh, to about twenty different books on Ancient Egypt. Meanwhile I’d completely forgotten they existed for the whole of last year, so obsessed I’d become with finding a man. Now that the man-search was kinda-sorta-over (let’s hope), I was finally getting back to my roots. Which apparently made me the only Torontonian under seventy with a museum membership.
I made it to the third floor and entered the hall of Ancient History. Everything smelled a bit dead, but it wasn’t the kind of “dead smell” that would emanate from the apartment of a single person who hadn’t been heard from in days. Instead it was a “dusty mummy linens” and “disintegrating ancient bones” kind of dead. It was basically my aphrodisiac, right up there with a medium-ripe mango.
These are the real-life accounts of a chick who tried writing 50,000 words in 5 days, a goal that could only be accomplished by sinking into the dark recesses of one’s mind, often bordering on the edges of: madness, sadness, and occasional maniacal laughter.
Sunday March 4th
6pm: I just washed my hair. Only the writing gods know when the follow-up washing will occur. It’s frightening and exhilarating all at once.
11pm: Since my writing week technically doesn’t start until tomorrow, I’m writing out plot points as I watch the “The Walking Dead” (this is how my writing voice sounds when I’m making excuses for myself out of laziness. Umm.)
Monday March 5th
10am: I just opened my writing document. As Borat would say, “Big success!”
10:45am: Writing the first few pages is always the hardest. I only wrote 400 words in 45 minutes, when I should be writing 1,500 words an hour to meet my goal. I don’t even know where 1,500 words an hour came from, do people even write that much?
I’m going to the gym.
1:30pm: The gym was packed, and silver hair was abundant. My observation: when you go to the gym on weeknights (like me and my demographic usually do), they play hip hop songs about guys jizzing on girls in night clubs and girls finding it amazing (‘cause yes, that’s every girl’s dream). When you go to the gym in the daytime however, they play songs like “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by Shania Twain. My conclusion: older women have more confidence.
PS: yes I showered after the gym, but no I did not wash my hair. Viva la resistance!
6:15pm: I’m at 5,000 words. My daily goal is 10,000 words so I’m halfway there, and it’s not like I have a bedtime. I may even watch an episode of “Smash” tonight AND still hit my goal. Who would’ve thought?!
12:35am: So I totally didn’t have time to watch “Smash.” Instead I distracted myself with doing laundry, then came to the conclusion that 1,000-calorie-meals would make me sleepy and inhibit my writing, so I had to end up eating THIS instead. So lame.
I also reached my goal of 10,000 words in the first day. I guess that’s kind of a big deal, but when you’re alone in a hermit writing-cave, there aren’t a lot of people to share it with.
Tuesday March 6th
3:00pm: I’ve written 3,500 words so far. At this point into the “Year of the Chick” sequel, I’m writing about the excitement and thrill of the discovery of yourself in another. That weird and crazy soul-mate thing. When I’m forced to write about less fun things later, like conflict and impossibilities, I will probably vomit (the price to pay for writing something that’s inspired by real life). But for now it’s fun.
Lyrics from my playlist: “I’m waiting, longing for you. One more, night and then I’m gone…I am your visitor, I’m on the other side of your wall.”—Head First by Goldfrapp
12:01am: Met the goal and surpassed it, with 11,000 words for the day. Things that helped: choosed meals with 30 seconds or less of prep time. Will I actually write 50,000 words this week? That would be a miracle…
Wednesday March 7th
7:30pm: a good friend with the day off work convinced me to brush off the hermit life and try to write in Starbucks. That venue is where I wrote the majority of my screenplay, so it seemed like a good idea, plus it would give me the chance to talk to another human being, since I’ve literally been talking to myself as I write out the dialogue. (Example: “You’re wearing a Snuggie…at two p.m…in the middle of summer?!” Okay that’ll work, then I’ll add “If I ever have a son, I’m gonna make him my monkey-butler. Shirtless with a bow-tie all the way…” Yep, that’ll work great, okay, good job, self, now high-five! (It’s alarming how comfortable I’ve become with talking to myself)).
Why I was productive at Starbucks: an elderly man decided to sit beside me on the couch. He spilled his coffee everywhere, smelled of stale urine, and kept leaning on me after he fell asleep with his sunglasses on. This made me write faster than I’ve ever written in my life so I could get the hell out of there. 3,500 words in 2 hours. A new record. I’m considering kidnapping him…
1:10am: I finished my daily quota, which in total amounts to 31,000 words in 3 days. This would’ve seemed insane to me last week, but if I can do that, maybe I can truly reach my goal, of 50,000 words by Friday.
On the down side, sinking deeper into the plot has made me realize that here I am, dedicating hours and hours of my life to writing about someone (loosely) who probably hasn’t thought of me in ages. His perfect little “society and family approved” life hums along, while I re-hash the past for the sake of creating art. And there’s a ninety-nine percent chance that this art will never make it big. It can be borderline-depressing, but if my only alternative is to be a normally-functioning human who doesn’t dwell on things, then it’s inescapable. I will never be normal.
Also, I cried today. Something tells me it’s not the last I’ll see of “Sad-Bags McGee”…
Lyrics from my playlist: “And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd, ’cause these words are my diary screaming out loud, and I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.”—Breathe by Anna Nalick
Thursday March 8th
5:15pm: 5,000 words in the bag and we’re still on track. It’s amazing that I haven’t run into writer’s block yet, probably because I know how much I’ll hate myself if I waste a paid vacation day. Hooray for the fear of self-loathing!
I can’t go to the gym, I can’t go grocery shopping, I actually can’t be around anyone. I’m all alone and it has to stay that way, because I’m writing about the hardest thing a person can write about (besides child-trafficking or serial-killing ): falling in love. I’ll have to go back later and inject in some humour, because non-stop cheese-ball romance I simply will not do; besides, Nicholas Sparks already has it covered (not that I didn’t love “The Notebook”…*sniff*). For now though, writing in the emotion is hard enough.
Oh, I washed my hair today. I don’t know if it makes me less “legit” as a writer to not stay greasy, but I have pretty long hair and it was getting to be ridiculous.
Lyrics from my playlist: “It must be your skin, I’m sinking in, it must be for real, ’cause now I can feel.”—Glycerine by Bush.
1:24am Another 11,000 words were written today, which means I only have to write 8,000 tomorrow to meet my goal of 50K in 5 days. On Sunday that goal seemed impossible, but now with burning eyeballs and crusted tears on my greasy face I’m almost there.
Lyrics from my playlist: “Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again.”—Lovesong by The Cure
Friday March 9th:
6pm: I only needed 8,000 words to meet the goal, but I was in the zone and wrote 9,000. I hadn’t written 9,000 words by 6pm all week, so I guess this was the most productive day.
51,000 words in 5 days….oh writing gods, I did it! And all I had to temporarily sacrifice was my sanity, my eye-sight, and my finally-repaired heart which is now all shredded once again,…for the glory of stupid art.
I would’ve rather sacrificed a baby at the altar.
Lyrics from my playlist: “Here I am, lost in the ashes of time, but who wants tomorrow? In between, the longing to hold you again, I’m caught in your shadow…I’m losing control.”—Afterglow by INXS
Saturday March 10th
10:45pm: I wrote another 7,000 words today, with the help of my cat on this spinster-like Saturday night. There was no need to write today but I wanted to, I guess that’s how badly I want to share this story with the world.
Lyrics from my playlist: “To find a way, to open up again, and learn to take, all the beauty that’s inside.”—Ring the Bells by Satellite
I need a few more thousand words next week and I’ll reach the end, with more colour to be added in later.
I’m so ahead of the game in fact, that I’m going to bump up the release date of the “Year of the Chick” sequel from September to late June. I just decided this now from the comfort of my bed. That’s the fun part of doing everything yourself: total control.
As a teaser, below are twelve lines from the sequel. I’ll post more teasers along the way at my Facebook Author Page, along with updates about the release, and general awkward thoughts.
From the “Year of the Chick” sequel (due out in June 2012)
“Suddenly he dropped my hair like it was a used up condom from “Motel 6.””
“Apparently it was illegal to open people’s mail…? That was something I never would’ve learned in the plastic bubble of my family, considering all my mail was opened by my parents, read, and summarized by the time I got home.”
“I need a long-distance boyfriend like I need genital warts.”
“I waited for the tears to form in my eyes, followed by a trip to the women’s bathroom where I’d hide in the stall and weep, then pretend I was vomiting if anyone came inside. Been there, done that.”
“At that exact moment, I heard two eager halves of a mouth snap shut on a ginger molasses cookie. “
“My mother was busy calling one relative after the next, convincing them to skip the hotel and stay with us for the wedding. Her hard sell was the enormous number of cots that could fit in the basement. Good god.”
“”Who works out that much? Seriously, his upper body is shaped like a pizza slice.” She pretended not to hear but I pressed on. “So El, did he take off his shirt? And if so, does he have greasy pepperoni nipples?””
“This cow is not for sale so he’s not gonna get any milk. Or something. I mean he already has a cow back home in his barn. Or a girl. Whatever. “
““You think you can waste six more months sitting in your room to write…BOOKS?” She made it sound like a book was a Playboy magazine.”
““Don’t tell me I’m the first person who’s ever used Super Nintendo in a lady-part analogy!””
“”Everybody wants to find love, but nobody wants to get screwed over. Shit’s bound to happen when those two collide.”"
“This was something more. This was the grand gesture I’d been waiting my whole life to make…”
Saturday February 25, 2012 will go down in history for two reasons:
1. It was the day I got my first paraffin wax treatment to make my “old lady hands” feel softer,
2. I had a book release party for book one in my trilogy, “Year of the Chick”!!!
The main reason I wanted to have a book release party (aside from how it would be a three-course meal for my narcissism) was to prove something. Every step of this self-published journey I’ve been trying to prove something.
First I was trying to prove that I can slowly find readers who aren’t my friends.
Then I wanted to prove that my book can be as enjoyable as chick-lit books with big publishers. This is something that’s highly subjective, but it also means there’s room for making it happen, since having a big publisher only means a group of decision-making people liked your book. So yeah, the slow build of reviews and ratings are proving this second one true. My book is not for everyone (due to profanities, sarcasm and awkward Indian moments), but strangers who aren’t my friends have been shown to like it. So: done.
As for this book release party, I wanted to prove that just because your books aren’t sold in a bookstore with a publisher who can secure a big event, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of having a big event.
So I, given my history of frequenting the odd nightclub, found a nightclub location and threw myself a party, a party rich with a chick-lit reading audience! I couldn’t have done it without the awesome event planning guys at 1neFLO entertainment who put it all together. I printed the stuff, they themed and set-up my party, and the club was absolutely packed that night..so it all worked out! It also couldn’t have been a more fitting venue, given the nights out that are chronicled in “Year of the Chick.”
I’ll leave the rest of the story to some pictures below, (with more at my Facebook author page), but one thing I’ll add is a summary of events from three a.m. onwards. It involves meeting slightly creepy guys in the street who say “Hey girl, how was your night?” followed by me opening my purse, and giving them a “Year of the Chick” button. This is followed by a series of questions and overall interest, which completely de-rails their original creepy pick-up lines. It’s a creep-combating win and it involves good business sense. So the moral of the story is: always get buttons printed and carry them around in your purse.
On a final note, I’m preparing to take a week’s vacation beginning March 4th, to roll up my sleeves and write the sequel of “Year of the Chick.” It will involve writing into the wee hours, it will involve sweat, forgetting to shower, and the odd weeping fest (this is what happens when your writing is inspired by real life). It will be amazing and it will be hell, but when the week is over, I hope to have an almost-done first draft. I’ve had this plan for the last month, but my mission was just injected with some extra power today, not unlike the steroid power that’s injected into a baseball player’s ass via syringe. It was a notification from the “Filmmakers’ International Screenwriting Awards”, telling me that my screenplay “Best Before” made it to the semifinals (after surviving three previous cuts). This now brings the total to eight international screenplay competitions where I made it to the semifinals or better, for the first screenplay I ever wrote. The reason this gives me steroid-in-the-butt power, is because this screenplay is the story of…
…the sequel I’m about to write.
Take that, Mark McGwire.
PS: if you’re new to my blog and interested in my books (whether in digital or print), feel free to visit my Amazon Author Page
The poster that everyone walked by before they entered the club
Books displayed up on the bar next to a bottle of vodka; how fitting, haha
Our VIP booth where another poster was located
Each VIP booth got a signed copy of the book…and PENS!
I will get to that image on your left in a moment, but first we must ease our way in…
…Remember when you were young, and how if you said words incorrectly like “ValentiMe’s,” everyone thought you were cute instead of an absolute moron?
Remember even earlier than that (probably not), when fat rolls on your wrists were revered as symbols of baby-prosperity? (I’m pretty sure it followed the same philosophy as those tribes in Africa, where the more brass rings you wore to elongate your neck, the higher your status amongst the tribe (replace brass neck-rings with baby wrist fat-rolls, and the analogy is complete)).
I don’t know why this post began with nostalgia in the realm of speech impediments and fat rolls, but having a crazy blog means you never have to answer why. And lately I don’t get to post here as often as I’d like! So you can imagine how my brain is brimming with pent-up insanity.
Like that dream I had Saturday night.
This is a true story (true within the dream anyway):
-I had to get my drivers’ license renewed, but for some reason I was in Buffalo, New York, even though as most regular readers know, I’m Canadian. Also it was eleven o’ clock at night, and I was waiting for the DMV to open (what?!). Meanwhile, an Indian man was running through the parking lot wielding a snowbrush. As a weapon. He tried breaking into cars with his snowbrush but…it was a plastic snowbrush. I ran him over with my car as he screamed.
And that’s the dream.
I have my own interpretation of that dream, but you should all be allowed to use your imaginations, so have fun with that.
Now, on to business.
And by business I mean my dream.
And by dream I mean the thing I’ve been slowly chipping away at night after night and weekend after weekend, and it’s actually turning into life (hooray!).
Item 1: I had a two-week blog tour hosted by ChickLitPlus, and let me just say that the woman running it is a tireless machine of awesome. There is NO WAY I could have corralled twelve book bloggers into reviewing my book and letting me do SEVEN guest posts within a two-week period all on my own. Not only that but she was friendly, kept me updated often, and took all the stress out of the entire thing. Also, she’s an author too (see here)…I’m uncertain as to how she does it all (alien?). Based on what I’ve said, I will definitely do a blog tour for the sequel if she’ll have me. Here’s a link to my blog tour page on her site, which includes all the links to the reviews and guest posts (yes, I was a busy guest blogger when I wasn’t here).
Item 2: Today I released a short story prequel to “Year of the Chick.” When I first thought about a short story, it was just for the sake of writing something new, but it turned out to serve a big purpose. The story provides great insight into what the character from “Year of the Chick” was like before the actual novel. It also provides some basis for what happens in the sequel. Best part: this short story of 10K words will be FREE on Amazon tomorrow! It’s my ValentiMe’s gift to you, so beginning at 2am Eastern time tonight, help yourself to a download!
Item 3: When I self-published, I knew it meant I wouldn’t be having big events in big bookstores. But did that really mean I couldn’t have a big event? HELL NO. Due to some clever brainstorming, networking, and an affinity for Carrie Bradshaw’s book launch parties, I’ll be having my own book party that’s hosted by a night club in Toronto! The flyer they made for me is the image to the right, and a link to the full-size version on the fan page is located here. I’m telling you all of this in case a writer or a dreamer happens upon this post; I’m telling you this to say: just because self-publishing starts off by making you the tiniest little sardine in an ocean of expansive whales (i.e. whales being the bestselling authors—holy analogies today!), it doesn’t mean you can’t have a big “Under the Sea” party, like how Sebastian did in “The Little Mermaid.” Ahem. So never stop dreaming of big giant things. Mmkay? Okay.
That’s all for today; I’m really glad I got the chance to blog again and be a little weird. It was needed.
I’m not sure how much I’ll blog in the next month, since I’m taking a week off in early March, to shut myself indoors and write as much of the sequel as I can. I have been waiting to write the sequel since I finished writing the screenplay (which the sequel is based on), so umm…I CAN’T FRICKIN’ WAIT!
I’ll resurface in March to let you know how it was; I may have gone completely mad by then.
In the meantime, hope your 2012s are going well so far!