Monday, March 30, 2015


Just the other day, I’ve overwhelmed myself with the stress of having launched a book.

What kind of promotion I should do next, how to maximize sales, what to do with negative reviews, why my brain seems to stop functioning when it comes to writing, where the hell is my royalty payment, what to do with my backlog titles, whether or not I should keep writing children’s books or branch out to other genres, traditional publishing vs. self pub, why can't I shake off this writers block WTH, it’s so difficult to write a sequel, my daily life is stealing away my writing time, my writing cave looks totally uninspiring, I have no idea what to write for my next books, what should I write for my social media, how to run a successful social media, what the other bestselling authors are doing and whether or not I should copy their moves, where the hell is my writing muse when I need her the most, what if my book sales stops, what if I run out of promotion ideas, why this blogger and that blogger haven’t replied me, how to reach more reviewers, how to edit my work, what to write, what to write, and so on, so on, so on….

I drove myself mental. I burned myself and everything around me. If someone told me that writing was a blissful profession, I would strangle that person with my teeth, claws, sword, and would so expelliarmus that person into the next century.

Writing and its yada-yada business is NOT blissful. Not even close. It’s the total opposite of blissful.

Then my husband, who has gone extremely tired with my rants and enormous self-pity, snapped at me. “My God, you’re unbelievable,” he said in his most charming tone ever. “You know how many people out there wish they could have your talent and the opportunity to share their works with the world?”

I’m glad he thinks—and believes--that my talent is a ‘real talent’. Not gonna argue with him on this. But I’m gonna argue with everything else he said.

“But, but…,” I argued with the intention to burn down the world of writers with me, “You have no idea how exhausting it is to deal with the business plan and the aftermath of creating a book. You wouldn’t know. You work in a financial institution; all you do is buy and sell and calculate a simple math equation with your calculator.”

In which he replied, “Since when your number one hobby, the one that makes you smile and fly over the rainbow, makes you this bitter? Why are you so stress over writing?”

Before I could even order my tongue to shoot acid reply at him, he added, and what he said stopped my fury dead, “Write for fun. Please, I beg you. Don’t worry too much about what to do after you finish writing it, just keep writing, good or bad, funny or suck-ass, just write for yourself.”

And it strikes me. One of the greatest authors in the world once said the same thing, too. “Write for yourself,” said J. K. Rowling.
My husband, a non-artistic person, shares the same thought as J. K. Effing Rowling. Who is the writer in da house, really, me or him?

So I force myself to calm down.

Of course my husband is right.

Write for yourself.

Write for fun. Don’t worry, the rest would follow.

Write for fun, guys, #amwritingforfun!
Are you?

My New Adult Contemporary novel MY LEA is availabe at  
Psst. Now, that we establish that ground #amwritingforfun rule, would you add my book to your TBR pile? 
*winks, bats eyelashes, smiles angelically*
I run a goodreads giveaway from now until April 24th, 2015. You can enter here


Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I think of Clean Reader App

I first learned about Clean Reader App when I read Chuck Wendig’s blogpost last night. The next thing I did was to check the app myself.

It’s true! It’s really there, this Clean Reader App with its tag “Read books, not profanity”.

I didn’t download it though. I tell you why. I separate my explanation into three parts: from an author’s point of view, from a reader’s, and from a mother’s.

I’m an author

My novel, My Lea, falls into new adult contemporary genre. Though not as scorching hot as, let’s say Katy Evans’s or Abbi Glines’ books, My Lea deals with darker issues and emotions. One of the characters, who is in his early 20s, is full of anger and frustration, it’s hard to imagine him talks and thinks differently than the way he talks and thinks in the book. I didn’t throw in profanity because I felt badass writing it. It’s there because the character I create demands it. It’s a part of him. Besides, clearing up the bad words won’t make my book instantly suitable for younger readers anyway, because even if it’s squeaky clean, the message I’m painting through my story is not for their consumption. In this regard, I kind of fail to see why cleaning up a book would make it different, because for me, the book’s content as a whole—its message, its story, its honesty—is more important. Seriously, profanity is nothing as long as it suits the character and within context. If you're so bothered with profanities, then maybe you don't get the big picture here. 

My books are my kids. I gave birth to them. I’m proud of them just the way they are. I’m not asking everyone to adore my kids, let’s be honest, there’s no rule that forces us to love everyone’s kids. If you love them, thank you, if you don’t, well, okay then. I love the way my book-kids turn out. If someone out there decides that they don’t like my kid’s green eyes, please don’t ask my kid to wear sunglasses to cover the eyes they happen not to like. Or to change my kid’s hairstyle, or the way my kid dresses. Or the way they curse.

I’m a reader

When I read, I like to be able to feel and think. I need to connect to the characters. To be able to connect is to be able to understand the way these people think and speak, bare and honest. If I think I can’t stand a certain type of genre, or story, or words, I’d stay away. I can never digest horror, so I avoid those. I wouldn’t want to read it and have the words like blood and torn flesh (for example) cleaned up because they offend me. It doesn’t work that way, I guess.

I don’t have a master degree in psychology, but I learn enough to know how weird our brain thinks. The more we cover up, the more curious we get, the more our brain will think about those hidden words. Sure, the app changes bad word into something else, but we know the actual word behind those blurry lines now, don’t we? And it will make us think about it more than if we just let our eyes read the actual word. Well, I could be wrong, but… 

"Ha! I know it's not darn. It's this ____ word, right? RIGHT?"

I’m a mother

I’m very picky when it comes to my kids' reading choice. I’m glad I have many bookworm friends who occasionally recommend books for my kids, but I still screen the recommendation myself before handing them over to my children. As a parent to young kids (12 and 7 respectively), it’s my responsibility to set boundaries. Agreed, I wouldn’t want my kids to read books that are not suitable for their age. Agreed, I’d prefer my kids to read books that are clean. Responsibility falls in my hand as their mother. We can’t delegate it to some app. If I think a book is not suitable for my kids, either the content is too mature or they are not my kids’ preference, I would cross it off my list and ask my kids to wait until they’re ready/mature enough to read it. I would not let them read that book with the help of a clean reader app.

There you go, people, my humble two cents.

Keep writing, keep reading, and be yourself!

Add My Lea in Goodreads

My Lea is available in all sites that sell ebooks:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway

Hey you, guys.

So excited to tell you that I'm having an International Goodreads Giveaway from now until April 24, 2015.

click here to enter!

Friday, March 13, 2015


I took my family to watch Cinderella movie last night. I left the theater with more than just a big smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Cinderella is the first fairy tale I've come to know growing up. For years to come, it stayed at the top of the list as the best Disney Princess story for me (Sorry, Frozen). Until Beauty and The Beast animated movie with its iconic song came along. Then, I have two favorite Disney Princess stories. Imagine my excitement when I learned Beauty and The Beast is currently in production. 

Yeah. Cray excited!

Cinderella, being my first love, has always had that unbreakable magical effect on me. Watching the movie last night brought back so many happy, giddy, wonderous memories from my childhood. Watching my now 7-year-old daughter blown away with the story is an experience I would cherish til the end of time. In her, I relive my own magical moments when Cinderella met Prince Charming, when the mice helped sewing the dress, when the Fairy Godmother appeared for the first time. 

Disney has once again proved themselves to be the best creator of anything magic. 

The movie is beautiful. The acting is flawless. The message is modern without sacrificing its originality.

What set this Cinderella movie apart from its predecessors is the message it's sending to the audience. 
"Have courage and be kind."

I love that. 

I didn't remember it was there in my old version of Cinderella. Sure, it talked about dreams and hope and kindness, but in this new version, it pointedly reminds us that in life, magic or not magic, everything starts with you. You rule your own destiny, because at the end, it's not the Fairy Godmother's magic that wins Prince Kit's heart. It's not Fairy Godmother's magic that makes Cinderella beautiful because she is already beautiful by being herself, a simple country girl with a big heart.

"Have courage and be kind" as opposed to Cinderella's stepmother's "have jealousy and be bitter".

Many of you have asked me how good this Cinderella movie is. 

Here is my answer:
If it can make my 12-year-old brooding teenage boy said WOW at the of the movie, then it is THAT good.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Depression (and book reviews of All the Bright Places and I Was Here)

This is the first time I’m combining book reviews and a blog post.
The first time I’m reviewing two books in one go.
The first time I’m writing an article about suicide and mental health issues.

I’m glad I’m doing this.
Let’s start with the reviews.

Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places has blown me to pieces. The middle is a bit slow, but I love the way the author dropped a bit of information here and there when I least expected it; things about Finch’s childhood, Finch’s dad, Finch’s ex-buddy. We get a close-and-personal look at a charming boy who suffers so much inside and doesn’t know how to save him from himself that he constantly sabotages his own happiness. A heart-wrenching potrayal of a boy who wanted so much to be normal, to be bright, but could not. No matter how hard he tried.

I was carried away with Finch’s charming and fearless personalities on the outside. When he folded himself in the darkness afterward, I was left speechless. It came at such a shocking slap to me. How can he disappear from all of that brightness, is a question I keep asking myself. What triggers it? What happened? He looked so damn happy before. So why, why?

We, the readers, got to see Finch from Violet’s eyes. We’re as charmed as she is. We’re as confused as she is, as angry as she is, as scared, loved, sad, happy as she is. The way Violet looks at Finch, I understand. The way Finch breathes life back to Violet after her traumatic accident, I understand. Sadly, unfortunately, I also understand—and hate—the way Finch’s parents and his bully friends treat him.

This book would cut your heart in two, glue them back together in the next page or so, then crack it open a bit, crack it some more, and glue the pieces back together again. The emotions I’ve experienced are all raw. Roller-coaster is not enough word to describe what I felt. I can still feel how the hair on the back of my neck stood, how my heart dropped to my stomach, and how bitter my mouth tasted.

The strongest part of this book is actually the Author’s Note’s page. I quote “Every forty seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. Every forty seconds, someone is left behind to cope with the loss.”

Rating:  5/5

I read Gayle Forman’s I was Here next. As usual, Gayle’s words are beautiful and the way she tells the story is flawless. However, the emotions, the romance, and the logic in this story are questionable. Cody is a girl who has to deal with the aftermath of her best friend’s suicide. Cody couldn’t save Meg’s life, but she tried to save Meg in death. Thus began her journey to the past, to revisit Meg’s life, trying to understand what made Meg did what she did. This book, though carrying a heavy and important message, felt more like a school’s textbook, a nonfiction, rather than a YA novel. I’m disappointed but it doesn’t mean I underestimate the importance of her message.  

Depression is real, depression is deadly, and depression is not always detectable.

Rate 2.5/5

What makes a person depressed, bipolar, suffers panic attacks?

I didn’t study psychology, so I can’t state a definite answer. I only know that depression and other mental health issues are real, as real as the sun in our morning sky. It could happen to anyone, from celebrities like Robin Williams to people who we thought we knew all of our life.

In both books, people who are close to Finch and Meg fail to detect the early signs—the off vibe—from the characters. Or if they know or suspect something, they quickly dismiss it as nothing but harmless and annoying habit. Even when someone decides to do something about it—speak up, urge the person to seek help—their efforts got crushed as the person they try to help push them away. And those good-kind-hearted helpers arrive at a place that says I’ve tried. It’s not my problem anymore. Maybe I should just leave him/her alone.

As illustrated brilliantly by these two books, we will find statements like these:

“We were not friends.” “We were not close.” “That’s the way he/she was.” “He/she wouldn’t listen.” “He/she refused help.” “There’s nothing more we can do.” “He’s a freak.” “She looks so strong and happy. She doesn’t look depressed.”

And we think we do enough by those excuses. We (almost always) expect the person who needs help be the first person who come and ask for help. You know that the chance of that happening is small, right? Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Imagine how many lives we could’ve saved by being aware, by being persistent and consistent. I grew up in a family culture that doesn’t necessarily respect personal’s boundary the way normal family does. We weren’t taught to leave our family alone, or tiptoe around them. If we notice something is not right, we talk about it—to the person or to his/her closest relatives. For example, if my brother detected some weirdness in me, he would’ve come and talked to me, then to my parents, who would’ve then talked to me and my husband, and basically to everybody else in our family. Yeah, yeah, you’re right. It sounds like hellish torture, but listen. Listen beyond that annoying buzz of people talking.

My point is, at least we talk about IT. We put IT in the open. We attack IT until IT disappears.

By doing this, we force ourselves to be aware. The point is to not leave the person who needs help alone. The point is to show that he/she is not alone in whatever struggle he/she faces.

Awareness is a word with life-and-death changing impact.

Aware = not ignorance = care = not alone = help = not giving up = save lives.

Start small. Start with our family, our best friend, our spouse, our children, our coworkers. Being aware in our small, private circle sometimes is the only thing that could save the life of those we love. Because if we don’t, someone else will, and reading these books, I was stunned—though not entirely surprised—to learn about internet help sites that are ready to help people to commit suicide. Not to prevent it, but to ASSIST suicide.  
How many times we heard people said "I didn't know" when it was too late?

I’m a nobody—certainly not a president, or Oprah or Ellen—so I used to think that whatever I say or think would not make much difference.

No, that’s wrong. I’m gonna change that.

I may not be Oprah or Ellen or a famous Youtuber, but I’m not gonna wait until I am one to speak my thoughts. You’re reading this, aren’t you? If you agree with me, if you think it’s important to create more awareness and act more aware, then let’s go. Let’s share the sentiment.

Be aware, be knowledgeable, be consistent.

Your voice matters.

We don’t need to change the whole world. We just need to be strong enough to change the world of that one person who matters to us.

#SayNotoIgnorance #SaveLives