Book news coming soon
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 I forget since its' been a while, but the general consensus was that after 6 months of publication, we collectively unpublished this anthology.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.
The story of ours began like most; I heard your heartbeat and joy propelled me from dreamlike stupor to scheduling baby shower and maternity photography sessions, deciding on nursery decor and what names would match you.
When I received my preeclampsia diagnosis, my heart sank and everything on my carefully crafted to-do list dissipated, along with the idea that this story of ours would be easy.
Motherhood welcomed us at 31 weeks.
It also welcomed strength, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. There would be no crying at our reality or our missed bonding time as you were wheeled away into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) over an hour away. Instead, I had to summon whatever will and adrenaline coursing through my body and demanded it heal so I can be closer to my heart. Tears would come later. And as I sadly learned, tears would come in waves that crippled and made me wonder where that strength went all those days and weeks I spent by your isolate in the NICU.
The story of ours paralyzed me.
I don’t know for sure how I lived to see you celebrate your first birthday, when every image I’d see, you were surrounded by tubes and wires and your heart monitor constantly beeping.
Somehow I did learn to move freely. I learned to save my tears in the shower. I learned to whisper prayers of gratitude every night as I watched you sleep.
As I started to accept the idea that there would only be the three of us - you, me and your dad - I learned I was again expecting.
This did not bring me joy. I met this news with anger and I tried for a long time to be happy. You were a beautiful four year old. I survived our first year and I was becoming less afraid of your future.
When I heard the heartbeat, I didn’t want to know the sex. I couldn’t give this heart a name.
I didn’t want to write to-do lists and there was no dream like stupor, either. I was a mom on a mission and my mission was to live so I could go home to you and our life.
A history of preeclampsia could mean I was a ticking time bomb again.
A history of premature birth meant I would be revisiting my nightmare in an enclosed NICU space.
A history of traumatic birth meant the possibility of not surviving.
And history usually repeated itself.
I packed my bags at 30 weeks and waited anxiously for 31 weeks.
It came and went. I wept and almost believed we were going to make it to ‘full term,’ at 38 weeks.
When I woke up with a headache and felt nauseous at 34 weeks, I knew it was time. My vision blurred and my blood pressure was elevated. My heart had already shattered when I was told I’d be welcoming another bundle in a few hours.
I thought I welcomed him in my arms. I thought I kissed his head as he was wheeled to the NICU. I thought I was doing okay until I wasn’t.
Until I didn’t hear him crying even when he was next to me.
Until suddenly, the idea of leaving you and him seemed like a rational action.
Motherhood has defined me in ways I never knew I'd be defined by.
While I knew motherhood gives you a different identity and purpose. Mine came with a two time Preeclampsia survivor, a parent to premature babies, and NICU graduates. I also had to include on postpartum depression survivor - an identity that I didn’t know I’d endure and survive.
And while the story of ours is still writing itself, I am hopeful that you and your brother can overcome any obstacles in life. After all, the strength I had to push through my storms were reflected in your eyes. You gave me courage. I choose to live bravely because of you. My purpose isn’t to understand why the story of ours began the way it did but how our story could give a voice and comfort to another.
My purpose in advocating for maternal mental health came because of the way our story began.
For more of my preeclampsia and postpartum depression story, please see here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073MVG4R4/
Poetry News: Marias at Sampaguitas
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.
A little help
I don't do this but I'm torn between continuing with my YA paranormal/folktale retelling OR rearranging them to make it as a novel in verse. Hmmm, what do you think? Here is the first part.
It is 2:30 am when I am jolted awake.
I cannot tell whether it was the nightmare or the
turbulence that woke me. I blink rapidly a few times to adjust
to the dimness of the cabin. The low hum of whispers, the
soft snores from the family next to me seemed to settle
the apprehension I felt.
This uneasiness that something wasn’t quite
right with me.
With my family.
The situation I find myself in.
2:30 am. I am only 15 hours of my 19 hour flight,
from the home I’ve ever known to California.
United States of America;
a place where I, with black curls and brown skin
will never be welcomed.
I wonder if they already know what I am?
SIGH. I don't feel like I've accomplished anything AT all this March. April is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder) Awareness Month AND National Poetry Month and I had PLANS.
But the news of Anti-Asian hate has been staggering. Homeschooling has been a mental struggle. I feel so drained from doing so much, and yet, have nothing to show for any of my efforts.
That's not quite true. In the month of March, I managed to write almost 50 poems. My goal is to double that for a full length collection...I'm just trying not to sound too much like an angry, tired, heartbroken and scared Asian. Most of my poems in it have been a combination of these emotions I visit on a daily basis.
And I've received 3 rejections back to back - within a span of a week - and as much as the emails were positive and kind....rejections, SUCK. It makes me wonder what am I doing wrong? But also....how can I tweak my voice in my poems to be more accepted?
I know I'm going to keep doing and writing and using my voice. This has just been a hard week. March is over and here we are. April.
I will continue to stay focused on use the same goals and parameters. Nothing else to add but that.
just another day
Tuesday morning, I was reading about and cheering on the first Asian American man (Steven Yeun) get nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. And by night fall.......Atlanta happened.
To guard my heart, I try not to read about the rise in Anti-Asian violence. The story about Noel Quintana, a Filipino American man who was attacked while in an NYC subway, or a Fil-Am vet, Angelo Quinto, who was killed while in police custody. The stories upon stories, seemingly not deemed "news worthy" but shared among the AAPI community.
There was a lot before covid; the microaggressions here and there (examples heard in my life: I hear Asians are good in bed. “Me love you long time,” “where are you really from?)” the "tokenism," the "fetishization of Asian women," and brazenly more in its wake.
So when Atlanta happened, suddenly it wasn't just the community that was talking, it was (is) everywhere. Suddenly, it's a "surprise," and someone's "bad day."
But then, how could you know something was wrong with the picture when the narrative has always been about the model minority myth and how racism towards Asian Americans isn't as "bad" -
When people “talk” about racism, it is both literally and figuratively a ‘black and white’ issue. How can we make space for people who look like me when we aren’t getting killed while sleeping *Breonna Taylor, or out on a jog? *Ahmaud Arbery
But as I write these words, I think about my elders, like my dad, who were innocently going on a walk in their neighborhood and being attacked. I think about storefronts vandalized; about leadership calling it the “China virus.”
Worse, I think about the Filipino nurses around the world who must endure the hate spewed on them, while treating those that hate them with the care. I think about this startling statistic "Filipino and Filipino American nurses are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, accounting for more than 30 percent of the 205 U.S. nurses who have died, though the group makes up just 4 percent of the total nurse workforce, reports The Mercury News."
The Model Minority Myth - that Asians are hard working, keep your head down, and follow orders - tells me to keep silent.
To not stir the pot of discord.
To not stand out.
But how many more stories do I need to read?
How many stories do I need to tell?
I don't pretend to be an activist of any sort.
But I am a Mother advocate. And one of the victims was probably a mother.
All were someone’s daughter.
I am a Filipina - an immigrant - and I am raising an Asian daughter.
I am cringing about the words and innuendos, tokenism, and microaggressions that I know will come. I am praying for the hope that when she gets older, it'll be "different." But for it to be different, I must accept this heartache.
For it to be different, the landscape and narrative must change.
And I don't quite know where to start.
I have no words. I’m just tired of keeping my head down, tired of the noise that I know will disappear and return to silence.
I will be heartbroken and not be surprised when this all fades. Because it will.
They all do, eventually.
To me and I'm sure for all my Asian American Pacific Islander, and my black brothers and sisters, it feels like a lifetime of fighting that goes absolutely nowhere.
And for some, it’s just another day.
The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is doing direct support and advocacy work for AAPI women and girls.
AAPI Women Lead which is an organization looking at the intersections between race and gender and focusing on gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Follow Stop AAPI Hate to help find other ways to support AAPI people facing horrific violence and relentless racism. Look for local organizations near you doing similar work.
Anti-Asian xenophobia and violence has had a long history in the United States, and is still enacted by the US government. Check out VietRISE
and the Asian Prisoner Support Committee - APSC to learn more.
WIPs: an aswang project #1
I am in the midst of a creative thunderstorm. And have been bouncing ideas with my sister, a lover of horror.
While I prefer the softer reads and happy ever afters of romance, she delights in collecting not just 1 but 2 edition of any and all Stephen King's novels.
Naturally, when I started on this project, I asked for her input. I'm going to make this my inspiration board of sorts. Bear with me.
An Aswang project: Book 1
The aswang project finds Chesa, whose parents died in a fire, uprooted from the Philippines and on her way to live with her aunt's family in Texas. Along her journey, strange coincidences marred with death occur.
.....I haven't figured out what else occurs. I wrote out my entire outline for my second WIP, a romcom called, Love & Lumpia. But horror - this strange genre I've never read or written - has me developing the characters first, getting their arc and redemption, all the while researching folklores and colonialism's effects on Filipino folklore. Speaking of which, one of the characters is Chesa's cousin who happen to be writing an essay on this topic and I've decided I will research this topic ad nauseum and THEN share her essay somewhere in the book! I have no idea where these characters are going to go and who is going to die (its not a spoiler - death is inevitable in ya horror/sci-fi).
What I DO know:
Chesa - is my main protag. 1st person in this duology.
Darna, Chesa's cousin - has to survive in the end for her to go back to the Philippines where it all started...whatever "it" is they are trying to find/solve. This is book 2 fermenting.
What I DON'T know:
Chesa - is she also bad/evil/the bearer of this curse?
Also, I don't know the middle....but I have a vague idea of how I want the ending to go.
LONGEST MONTH EVER! But then again, after the holidays, the highs of starting "fresh" and then the mediocre start..... it feels like this month has just been dragging. Anyway, going to adjust my needs/wants and make an effort into a more realistic goal for me.
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology. I did submit a poem that was rejected once to a second chance press....who then rejected the same poem. SIGH. Such is the life of a poet whos work is very much subjective and objectified. I am forever grateful for each "rejection" however, as each one simultaenously deflated my heart but gave me just enough hope to try again another day. I also submitted a 'PMDD themed' chapbook to 2 different chapbook press. Still waiting on word.
2.) Write 1 chapter/1 hour of current work in progress (WIP) a day. Eh, I began this year having written 1 chapter...... I'm in Chapter 4. BUT I finished my outline of my WIP, a Filipino romcom..... and I wholly believe that progress is progress, no matter how small.
3.) January Whole30 starts on 1/04. I would like to say I had every intention of starting strong, but that would be a lie. Because my husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes, I've been cooking (and subsequently) eating more keto styled recipes. I do indulge in carbs because CARBS = LIFE. Soooo not going to start on Whole30 anytime soon.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator). 16/20...not too bad but gah, didn't realize how CLOSE I was to completing this!
5.) Spend a day outside with kids at least once a week (nature walk, park, school outdoors). Goal met! We've played with our friends who are in our pod every Sunday... this started in November and its' done wonders for all of our morale. Hiking to 3 different state parks has been an incredible experience. I'm thinking of adding yet another site on this recent bucket list addition of ours.
~ February Goals ~
"Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
For February, I will:
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology (repeating every month).
2.) Read and Review 4 romance reads by women of color (WOC), featuring protags that are WOC.
3.) WIP: Get to the 'middle of the story,' ie Chapter 10.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator). I mean, come on, I was *this close!
5.) Learn 1 new thing/activity/hobby with my family.
BLOG: PMDD and me
I use to run for fun. I was never in any competitive running teams nor would I ever join but, I know enough about running that you don't sprint in the beginning.
You start slow, build your pace, keep that pace, and
run like hell at the end to the finish line.
Even knowing this, I fail to remember that
I'm bearing the weight of mental illness on my race.
I sprinted right out of the gate and I've exhausted myself.
I had every good intention.
Got a shiny new planner.
Listed all the resolutions and all the things that I promised I would do/accomplish.
I was pumped and sat down and managed to write four chapters of a romance novel.
But that was a few days ago.
Today, I'm feeling the shadow of PMDD looming over me.
And I'm finding it hard to concentrate, harder to "keep calm."
I want off this track.
In a few days, I'll walk out of this fog and feel whole again.
I'll probably more than likely forget about this feeling of impending doom.
I'll forget about this pressure that is sitting above my chest.
I'll feel whole again.
And then be ready to write swoon worthy moments between my MC (main character) and her friend-turned-lover.
But in all honesty, it sucks to be here.
This truth that I feel myself slipping away.
This cycle is vicious.
BLOG: 2021 Resolutions
Resolution (noun): a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Okay, so it's a lot harder to make a vision board using this technique. I'll probably spend some time trying to make a vision board at a later time.
So, breaking this down, my 2021 Resolutions are
1.) Learn something new and I choose cross-stitching. I see so many cute and lovely designs on Etsy and on friend's pages....it makes me want to try it. I usually try to find one new thing to learn or try every year and this will be it for me.
2.) I came across an old "bucket list" of mine. I can't tell you when I wrote it, as sadly, I didn't date it. However, yoga teacher was an interesting one. I signed up for a course called "Kidding Around Yoga" (KAY) online certification. I'm not quite sure how this will pan out in the future but it's a step. I have kids. I'm currently homeschooling. So why not incorporate what I am learning to my kiddos and maybe when the pandemic slowly lessens its toll on us, I can share and teach yoga to other kiddos.
3.) Write more poetry. Write more of my story. Write more romance. Just Write. (I'll break this goal down later).
4.) As a family, we have 2 goals for ourselves. They are to spend more time outdoors. We are challenging ourselves to 1000 hours outside AND to visit as many state parks as we can for the year! We began our first hike yesterday and already crossed one state park off!
5.) I need to be more intentional on sharing my culture with my kids. At some point in their lifetime, I'd love to visit and show them the Philippines! I want them to learn my language, know their roots and family history.
6.) I would love to be more involved in the organizations I believe in. Mom Congress, 2020Mom, Momma's Voices. But, for the most part, it's the continuation of doing the work of advocacy for moms, babies and maternal mental health. This past year, the Champions for Change summit was held virtually and while I could still feel the fire and passion from the virtual meet ups, I missed the tangible part of seeing advocacy in action. I hope this fall, I'll get to actual embrace the women I met and are inspired by!
7.) Well it wouldn't be a "complete" resolution list without my mentioning healthy eating and or workouts. HOWEVER, I have been making an effort in changing our lifestyles. My husband was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in November. We started doing a bit of keto - more lazy on my part and we've resolved to workout out more. Luckily, virtual workouts are a thing and I've signed up for Camp Gladiator before! My old boot camp crew is starting on January Whole30 and I'll be joining her to "jump start" my sugar addiction habit.
~ January Goals ~
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ―Aristotle.
The thing I know about myself is that I need to break down these resolutions....otherwise, it's truly overwhelming and either I don't know where to start or I do all of them at once and give up.
For January, I will:
1.) Write and Submit a poem to a lit mag/anthology.
2.) Write 1 chapter/1 hour of current work in progress (WIP) a day.
3.) January Whole30 starts on 1/04.
4.) Do 20 workouts for the month (combination of walking, boot camp, camp gladiator).
5.) Spend a day outside with kids at least once a week (nature walk, park, school outdoors).
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.
Hi there! Here's a quick bio