So thankful that my poem, "early start" was accepted for Issue 2 of Querencia Magazine. This one was a journey, written during my training as a Patient Family Partner Certification for Momma's voices. There was a point in the training, were we had to do a 2 minute storytelling pitch. I was reliving memories and the guilt and anger washed over me. I had to remind myself that my kiddos are healthy. She is indeed fierce and NINE. Having a traumatic birth cannot let me just remember all the good....my body only remembers the tears, the closing in of itself, the endless bargaining.
Anyway, here it is, 'early start'
This was not how I planned the start
of motherhood. But here she is, encased in glass,
tubes and wires surrounding her and a machine that
voices her heartbeat. And there I am,
sitting beside her, bargaining to a god that I’ve
believed in all my life that this isn’t how its’
supposed to be and how could we both fail at the thing
we were supposed to be good at? ...
more over here: hiccups (page 32)
My poem "someone who looks like me" published in Marias at Sampaguitas Mahal issue (July 2021)! Join us for open mic night tonight!!
Feel free do download the pdf below OR follow here for issue two.
Years ago, I answered a call to submit a sweet, clean Christian novella. I wrote Letters to Lenora in a month. It would have been my second attempt at a novel but falling short - by thousands of words. I had just finished writing Storm of Hope and was in the midst of my postpartum depression healing. I don't know what I was aiming to write about exactly, but I like stories that have realistic endings and I've always gravitated towards the faithful.
I remember thinking about this girl who were on the cusps of leaving the nest and suddenly being given the chance to get to know her mother.
My own story bleed into the pages. In the storm of pregnancy anxiety and ptsd, I had, at the time, written 'goodbye' letters to my sweet girl. I was that afraid of Preeclampsia, and while the fear would spiral into something else later, I truly believed (and to a certain extent) that if lightning missed you the first time, it would not miss the second.
I remember wrestling with the what-ifs. And then of course, we were living in our nightmare. A second preeclampsia that hit me suddenly. Another stint at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a mama writer unable to discern her jumbled thoughts.
What if my girl found my letters years later? What would she think of me? Of these words that is supposed to bring comfort, but instead brings more heartache. While I get to wrap my arms around my babies, Lenora has to settle on words written by a mother who was afraid...who was in pain and in fear.....
So this novella, Letters to Lenora, was indeed published in this anthology. I forget since its' been a while, but the general consensus was that after 6 months of publication, we collectively unpublished this anthology.
And friends, let me tell you, I had forgotten all about this particular story. I went on to write poetry, 'not your token,' and began submitting to different literature magazines and presses.
The other day, I was cleaning up my google drive (as one does on a Wednesday) and happened upon this story. I read it. I cried. I remembered the pain and fear.
But I loved the hug and hope it brought me. I loved reading about Lenora's mom and her faith. I loved reading about Lenora's outlook on her future. If I could glimpse into my children's futures, I would hope they follow the path they forged and hope that they leave a trail of kindness and goodness in their wake.
Anyway, this is my book news! Letters to Lenora will be published very soon. I'm hoping for an early/mid June release!! I'm waiting on my cover, currently, and will be doing a cover real soon!!
For her 18th birthday, Lenora Grace Williams is given a box. Aside from trinkets and photographs, there are three handwritten letters from her mother, written before she died. While reading the letters, Lenora wrestles with finding her faith, following her heart, and forgiving the secrets and heartache her mother left behind.
I sometimes wonder why I keep hitting the send button to these press/lit mags when I know that rejections are more common than acceptances. But such is life, I suppose.
After months of rejections, it was wonderful to get a 'yes.' I submitted a poem that Marias at Sampaguitas were holding for National Poetry Month and my once rejected poem, "this is how I'm surviving," came in 3rd place!
Claustrophobia comes at me in moments between
dusk and nightfall. The world closes in, and when the last light goes,
so too, does mine; ... for more, click here.
Excited to announce my poem, "Echo," was accepted in Undivided Magazine.
"There is an echo of a shadow that follows me everywhere I go.
I catch her in glimpses; she’s bent over like a child,
a still statue on the floor." Click here for more.
So excited to announce that my book, Love, Defined, is now part of a romance collection! You get 1 price for 5 books to get your romance reading on.
When it comes to romance, trust and love go hand in hand…
Get ready to fall in love with these 5 full-length romance novels!
~ TOUCH ME NOT by Apryl Baker ~
A past tragedy has left Lily Holmes burdened with a devastating secret. Since the death of her twin sister, Lily can’t bear to be touched.
Enter Nikoli Kinkaid, the campus manwhore.
In an intricate dance of control and surrender, a reluctant friendship becomes something more.
Lily begins to crave things she never believed she could, and Nikoli realizes there is more at stake than his reputation.
~ TRUTH OR DARE by Aimee McNeil ~
Sophie Rogers has left her demons in the past and finally has her life under control. Until Ashton King saunters back into her life as a nude model for her art class…
Ashton’s body is made for sin, and his icy blue eyes scorch her with feelings too intense for a heart as scarred as Sophie’s to bear. Glimpses of another side of Ashton give her a flash of hope, but his deceptions run much deeper than she ever dreamed.
~ UNPREDICTABLE by CA Harms ~
Jett Jameson was the distraction Quinn needed, even if it was just for one night. A void-filler and a chance for a moment to allow herself to feel something other than emptiness.
He wasn’t what she expected, though. He was gentle. But her life didn’t have room for a man like Jett.
And now, it was too late. There was no turning back.
Nothing would ever be the same…
~ LEARNING TO TRUST by Cynthia P. O’Neill ~
When Garrett Andrews finds something that catches his eye, he goes after it, letting nothing stand in the way of what he wants to possess.
Laurel Hart was a swimming champion until a frightful event and unknown health issues derailed her career.
Once Garrett finds out about Laurel’s past, all rules are changed. He attempts to calm her nightmares and gain her trust so he can show her who he really is and the relationship he desires from her. Will they be able to overcome the damage their hearts have encountered?
~ LOVE DEFINED by Leila Tualla ~
In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do.
As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.
I am fully embracing living and sharing my story - whether that means that I get to retell the same thing over and over again like a broken record; or figuring out how to navigate this fire and put it into words.
I am pumped. I'm excited to do something MORE.
I started finding opportunities that I know I can handle and commit to and among them was to speak to someone from ACOG (Am College of Obs and Gyn) about my preeclampsia and postpartum depression story. We spoke for over an hour about how we absolutely adore the new life (infant) while simultaneously forgetting about the one that made it (mom). We pass her over. We don't see mom. We see the most adorable cherub that we can't wait to cuddle and hold. We look past mom's sometimes harried appearance and go straight for the questions that sting: "how's breastfeeding going?" - I can't tell you how many moms dread this question. Breastfeeding is hard and the picture we have are these lovely breastfeeding moments, bonding moments, and not the crying, cracked bleeding nipples of the before or the surrender of not measuring up.
"are you excited to no longer be pregnant?"
"how long is your maternity leave?" followed by, "too bad, you can't stay home," or "you're so lucky you get to stay home."
We are measured by how much we can handle.
And then guilted into believing that super moms exist and we are far far from holding our own.
The things that continue to strike me are the tears that find its way down my face, the way my voice breaks or changes in octave. I had hoped that almost four years later, my courage takes hold over me. I had prayed that I can look back in awe at my own strength and bravery.....instead of reminding myself of past fears. In order words, I had really hoped to be over all of it by now, but time hasn't softened or healed my wounds of having 2 traumatic births. I may not recall every small detail but my broken heart finds its way to paint my nightmare.
So I told her that I am in the midst of the "after." There was life before NICU, before preeclampsia, before anxiety......but I am no longer welcomed there. Life in the "after NICU, after preeclampsia, after postpartum depression," is slow and measured. My movements calculated to avoid potential triggers. Life in the "after" consists of giving daily thanks and hugs and a quick reminder that we are all here. All three of us, my daughter, my son and myself. We're present and not figments of my imagination.
what happens next?
What happens now is laying down the foundation of helping mamas feel less alone after their storms. If all I ever write about is poetry on motherhood, preeclampsia, postpartum depression...... then I am thankful for those moments and use those lived in experiences to tell my story. It's not over yet.
I'm told it's easier to break this list down.
1.) Read 2-3 books
(Currently listening to I am Malala and Handmaid's Tale is our book club pick for January).
2.) Visit 2 museums
(already met when we went to Lone Star Flight Museum and Play Street Museum)
3.) Submit to 2 - 3 different publications.
(As of now, I've printed out 2 lit magazines submission guidelines).
4.) Walk 20 miles this month!
5.) 1 thing that scares me: ask this moms' group if I can share my testimony.....I'll let you know how that goes!!
What are your goals this year? Do you break it down to a more manageable list?
Happy reading and writing, friends!
November is my favorite month, even more than my birthday month of July. It feels like time slows down just a little before we hit the fast forward button in December. The air is crisper. The Food! The company. I love everything about November.
Persona Non Grata is packed with exceptional poets writing on the theme of social exclusion.With interpretations exploring our refugee crises globally, physical and mental illness, homelessness, addiction and family estrangement, the anthology will fundraise for two important and vital charities: 'Shelter' and 'Crisis Aid UK'.
We are delighted that 'Fly on the Wall Poetry Press publishes charity anthologies- and anthology 'Persona Non Grata' is packed with poetry inspired by the concept of social exclusion. Without support such as this, we would not be able to support the people who reach out to us for help with housing issues and homelessness. Thank you so much to everyone involved."
- Lindsay Tilston Jones, Regional Community Fundraiser: Manchester
I submitted a poem entitled, "I pledge allegiance," to this lovely press called, Fly on the Wall Poetry Press. It's out now and she is taking poetry submissions, if you looking for places to submit!
I've been debating whether or not to share this.....but a few months ago, I wrote a poem about childhood trauma and #metoo movement for an anthology benefiting the prevention of child sexual abuse. I've buried this secret for so long and that one poem and one anthology call seemed like a small peeling of that wound....and then Christine Blasey Ford spoke - regardless if you believe her or not, the fact of that matter remains: there are those of us who have THIRTY YEAR OLD secrets. However far removed we may be from that day, that incident, that trauma, certain things can never leave us: smells, sounds, laughter, taunts..... those are imprinted in a survivor's dna. A memory that must be unraveled because the trauma was too much to bear.
So I happened upon this anthology call from Rhythm and Bone press.
I found survivors who never spoke up.
I discovered a community who are still grieving for an innocence taken, a trust stripped away..... a boundary that was crossed.
I dug up my secret and felt compelled to share.
In anger, I wrote.
In tears, I hashed out pieces.
In solidarity, I shared.
"I am not my rape
I tell myself today.
I am not my rape.
I told myself yesterday."
You are not your rape: an anthology coming soon.
A look back on those August goals 1.) Fine tune my "I am" chapbook and have it ready. I've been debating on turning into a full fledge poetry collection but I'm also getting bored with it. I am easily distracted and my flaky self has already deemed this project "done." I have my eye on Dancing Girl press that a few poets have recommended and they are currently open for submissions. Deadline is the end of the month, if you would like to enter. - fine tuned and sent! Here's hoping I get some feedback!!!
2.) Write and edit a piece for this motherhood submission call I was lovingly tagged on. - this is still a current work in progress! I have until 9/14 to finish and submit!
September 8th is coming and so is the 15th anniversary for this anthology. I'm so incredibly grateful to be a part of this huge Filipino writing community that I honestly never knew existed!! I wish I was in San Fran celebrating, but I send all my love and positive vibes to my fellow Asian poets!!
For a complete list of all the poets and table of contents, click here. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands!!
1.) I'd really like to finish National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November this year and I have a couple of ideas that's been brewing. I'm a plotter, of course and just started printing out maps, and buying Filipino folk tales. I was so inspired by Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone and Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians that I'd love to do something along those lines. Write a story based off of a story that I vaguely remembering listening to as a child. But I want to fall in love and laugh and be surprised at the tears. I have NO IDEA what it'll be but I'd love to try. Soooo research, read, and plot. That's the BIG goal for this month.
2.) I still need to turn in my motherhood essay and hope to get that finished by the end of the week!!
3.) I need to write out two poetry reviews for this month! I finished Vachaknavi (Hiya) Sarma's Wild Imagination this summer and it was beautiful!! Cheyenne Raine's new poetry collection drops on September 14th and I'm in the middle of her amazing words. Look for both reviews by next week!
4.) I found a couple of journals that I wanted to submit to but sadly, the deadline passed by the time I sat down with pen in hand. This month's goal would be to follow them and read from their works to support more poets and get a feel of what they seem to be looking for.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
As we are winding down from summer and looking towards fall and winter, please know that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is a reminder to be kind to yourself and to the people around you. You never know what someone is going through. We cover up all sorts of pain and madness to fit in.
Know that you are not alone.
**the following information below was taken from NAMI**
I'll be on vacation mode this Saturday, and probably won't "return" until July 8th. But before I go, I thought I'd share some exciting news!!
- I wrote a piece called, "if only," and submitted it below. I'm elated that it was accepted but anxious to have it out. I've never told anyone my #metoo story. You see, not only was I a victim, but a witness, as well. I cannot claim what happened to me without naming the others. Since it's a shared nightmare, I would need their blessings and their acceptance of what happened, before I can share. It sounds cryptic, and I apologize, but it is what it is, in order to protect those that I love, our stories will most likely die in the graves with us.
moving on to happier news
Matt Banks (author of the Lonely Heart Wanders) did a call for submissions recently for a "Blank Canvas" themed anthology. I managed to slip into it right before he closed it. I can't wait to share these with you. I'm rather proud of one!
Last but not least...
I belong to a Filipino Writers group on Facebook. Back in November, the prolific and esteemed poet, Eileen Tabios put out an anthology call for the 15th anniversary of a Filipino named poetry form called, "hay(na)ku. It's a take on the Japanese form, but instead of counting syllables, you do 1 word sentence, followed by 2 words, and then three.
(2) wrote my
(3) heritage in poems.
I can't tell you how proud I am that 2 of my hay(na)ku poems are in this. 127 poets are included in this anthology from around the world, including some poets from the Philippines!
This will be out sometime in September and I'll announce it the closer it gets!!
Aside from that, happy summer!!
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.