publishing, ramblings, writing

WHY I WRITE IN ENGLISH

Spoiler alert: it’s not as romantic as one might think.

 

Last week, I shared a post on tips for writing in another language. This week I’m tackling why *I* chose to make the switch from my beloved Romanian to English.

I’m an idealist at heart, but my ambition’s molded me into a realist. The switch to writing in another language isn’t easy, instant, or certain, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s also not something everyone will agree with or think is worth pursuing. To each their own.

So why do I write in English?

 

I’m a fan

Back when I was young, I sucked at almost everything. Couldn’t play sports. Didn’t have money. Grandma used to dress me up like a doll. Had a lisp. Super prissy. I was super badass, you guys. I also had the shitty tendency of correcting people and…you get the picture.

The one thing I was good at? Speaking English. I’d learned it through watching cartoons and people started paying compliments, for the first time ever. It stuck. It stuck so much that although I was practically catatonic in class during college, too scared to raise my hand, once I got to my master’s classes, taught in English, people had a hard time shutting me up.

So there’s an emotional connection with this language. When I’m tense or feel uncomfortable in social situations, I notice I drop some English words mid-conversation. My cool factor hasn’t increased since kindergarten, in case you were wondering.

Speaking in English is almost like a safety blanket at this point. I saw people responded to it, so I did my best to learn it proficiently. And you bet your ass I bust out those four syllable words in an argument.

 

Publishing’s not exactly dead in my country, but…

It’s in a slump. The recession hit us hard, guys. The book market is down 40% from 2007 and only worth about 60 million Euros, according to the latest stats. The bulk of that market is taken up by coloring books and tearjerker novels. I write neither. Compare that to the 24 billion market in the US, and you get a (not so) pretty picture.

There’s also a very complex problem relating to distribution, retailers, and Romanians’ spending habits, which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say I did my research when I decided I wanted a writing career and found the national possibilities lacking for my particular goals.

Not to mention the fact that a large part of the novels written here aren’t my style. They veer a bit too close to the literary genre for me, and I knew I’d have a hard time selling my fun, upbeat novels on the Romanian market. The revenues are also abysmal.

Why am I sharing all these facts? Because if you, like me, want a writing career and you’re not from the US, you need to do your research, too. Don’t make a rash decision based on overseas success stories and the glitz and glamour of overnight bestsellers. Know your own market before even considering a new one.

 

My genres work best in a US market

Know thy writing style. Mine doesn’t have a literary bend, for example. I write fun and quirky YA contemporary, and have an obsession with SF, which are more commercial genres. At least the way I write them. I decided early on which market would be best for my preferences. Not that the US market is only made up of commercial books, but it is more forgiving than the market in my own country.

I know some of my friends and professors will stick up their noses at my genres, but I really, really don’t care. I save all of my pretentiousness for my films, and even then I try to tone it down. The idea that only highbrow art is worthwhile and valuable is something that I’ve fought against my entire life and will continue to do so even when I lose all my teeth and get that lisp back. A film or a book can make you think and change your paradigm while also being entertaining. End of discussion (for now, I feel a blog post on this coming in the near future).

 

That’s the short version of it, anyway. There are a TON of other facts that went into this decision, but, ultimately, I had to figure out early on what would work for me and my career goals. Like I said, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re like me and want to make the leap into writing in English, I’m always here to answer any questions.

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publishing, ramblings, writing

10 ROMANCE TROPES I LOVE

A shame-free zone.

  1. Enemies to lovers.

Excuse me, is there anything hotter? You’ve got tension right off the bat, it makes for ah-mazing chemistry, and you’ve got an emotional arc from the premise alone.

Best. Trope. Ever.

The downside is when you read a book and the hero is a jackass, while the heroine simply forgives him, ’cause he has a heart of gold tucked somewhere deep inside. No, thank you.

PS: the novel that got me my fabulous agent has this premise. Just sayin’.

  1. Badass women getting stuff done.

And getting the guy along the way. Because, yes, you can have everything.

  1. Nerd turning into hero/love interest.

Suck a sucker for this premise. I love it either way, nerd hero/heroine, both of them nerds, whatever. I root for the underdog (as long as said underdog isn’t a Mare Sue/ Gary Stu in disguise).

  1. The whole Hades-Persephone thing, which even Freud would’ve frowned upon.

Guilty pleasure, along with anything resembling Beauty and the Beast. Enough said. Hoping for a genderbent one someday.

  1. Star-crossed lovers/ Forbidden love.

As long as it doesn’t resemble Romeo and Juliet. Not a fan, sorry. But two people from different social classes struggling past social hurdles to find each other? Yes, please. Anytime.

  1. A bargain/some sort of deal (fake engagement, etc) turning into a love story.

Again, as long as the protagonists aren’t completely clueless about their developing feelings. It’s a really tough trope to pull off, which is why I always read it, but haven’t attempted to write it. But maybe in the future? *cackles*

  1. Guardian/ward dynamic (prince/princess and his/her general, etc.)

Sucker for power play if, and only if, both of the parties have some type of control. If one of them is completely helpless while the other rules the world, I’m not interested.

  1. Opposites attract.

Can go hand in hand with the ‘enemies to lovers’ premise, but not always. Packed with chemistry and tension. Loooove it.

9. Revenge.

The pay-off’s always good. Tension galore, plus a healthy dose of feels thrown in. Sherry Thomas incorporates this trope into her writing, but she gives it a very, very special spin. Did I mention I love her books?

10. Virgin

Yes, show me the tentative steps one takes when starting to explore his/her sexuality. Don’t make them an idiot, though. Inexperienced is one thing, naive (to the point of stupidity) is another.

What’s your favorite trope?

ramblings, writing, Writing Contests

MY 2015 #PITCHWARS EXPERIENCE

(Originally posted in 2015)

Note: Spoiler alert, I didn’t get in that year. 

So. Whether or not I get a mentor (though we all know what I’m crossing my fingers for, right?), I decided to make a little #PitchWars daily diary.

I. Thank the Twitter gods I remembered when this contest is being held. With everything going on in my life right now, losing the deadline was a very real probability. Buuuut I even managed to remember the contest before the mentors’ bios went up. Yey me, all adulting and stuff.

And the best part of it is that I managed to find an awesome CP. I have someone to critique my work AND go through the #PitchWars jitters with me.

Also, I got a bit of fabulous advice that I should change my NA into an A submission. I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets that also give me pause. What to do, what to do, and what ice cream to eat while deciding.

II. The mentors. My God, the mentors. So many to choose from. I think I have a list of about 20, but it largely depends on whether I submit my MS as A or NA. Some of my favorites accept both genres, but three of them don’t. And I thought writing the damn novel was the hard part.

III. Tweeting like mad on the #PitchWars thread. Got to talk with some amazing mentors and I even found out a potential mentee is visiting my country. So if anyone has any doubts about this contest being about community first and foremost, I’m the perfect example right here.

IV. I think I might have overtweeted my share and I’m starting to annoy some of the mentors I like. Time to scale it down and relax. Breathe.

On the plus side, my wonderful CP has sent me her notes on my query and first chapter. I can’t believe how many things I overlooked the first time. I’m still waiting to hear from my beta on the full MS (second round and all), but I don’t think the feedback will arrive in time.

I also participated in the #WWWriting live twitter chat. I’m going with A. Hope I’m not making a huge mistake.

And editing is kicking my butt. I now realize that the first edits I did were superficial at best. I guess I always knew, in the back of my mind, but being confronted with that reality is kind of hard to swallow. However, even if I don’t get picked, my MS is going to be stronger. That’s the point of the whole thing, isn’t it?

Also found out what a beat is. I’ve been using them for years but had no freaking idea what people were talking about. Hey, I’m already learning some new stuff.

V. Finally have my short list. So many amazing mentors had to be cut simply because my MS didn’t fit their wishlist. Once again, hope I’m not making a huge mistake. They all seem like amazing people to work with, but if they don’t want romantic suspense, well, they don’t want it. I hope I get to interact with some of them after the competition’s over.

VI. Starting to doubt my decision.

I don’t know if I should enter or not. I’ve been seeing a lot of #PitchWars games, like #firstline, #lastline, the song that embodies your MS. For the life of me, I can’t think of ONE song that’ll fit. I have about five that I keep using while editing, but none of them capture the entire feel of the MS. Does this mean mine’s fragmented? That it’s not cohesive enough? That I have this huge glaring problem that I just can’t see and that my CP is too kind to point out?

What.Is.It?

I’m also starting to doubt my voice. I checked my MS. None of my first and last lines seem strong enough. I know I have a few good turns of phrase here and there, but I don’t think it’s enough.

With that being said, I added a few new pages to my MS. Needed to hash out some things and I think they work.

VII. Reading other potential mentees’ first lines and realizing mine sucks.  Golly gee, ain’t I the smartest pea in the original pod?

VIII. Is it okay to freak out that I’m gonna miss the 12-hour submission window because I might miscalculate the time zone differences? No? Just me? Alrighty then.

IX. One of the scenes between my MCs is giving me a headache. I’ve edited it 5 times. I don’t know what’s not working. And for a romantic suspense, this is problematic.

X. Holy crap. The window opened earlier. That’s the best news an anxious writer can ever receive. I’ll wait a day and then buh-bye MS.

XI. Sent.

Time to start eating shitloads of chocolate and brainstorm the next WIP.

XII. Requests!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XIII. Okay. I kinda wanna interact with the mentors, but I’m afraid they’ll think I want to suck up or something. Decisions, decisions.

XIV. Interacted with some great writers. Possible CPs. Life’s good.

XV. Okay. Some of these teasers from potential mentors are so freaking far away from my MS that….I don’t think I’m getting in. But it’s fine. It was fun.

Got to meet some great people. Found some awesome books, films, and gifs.

XVI. *Sigh*

Next year it is.

ramblings, writing

“REAL WRITERS”

Current mood:

annoyed-dogSource: barkpost.com/shiba-proves-whining-everything-life

 

If you’re in the writing community–or got dragged into a conversation about Puşkin–you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “real writers”.

The elusive expression that leaves writers in silent tears and online bullies with a sense of purpose in their lackluster lives.

Well, I got dragged into such a conversation by accident. Video games led to films inspired by video games (anybody else excited for the Warcraft film?) which inevitably led to books. Right around this moment in our impromptu online discussion, a French gent proudly exclaimed that one can consider himself a “real writer” if, and only if, they reach the NYC* list.

First place.

At least two weeks in a row.

*And yes, he actually thought it was NYC, not NYT. In which case, maybe I misunderstood the whole ten minute monologue?

Now, when I meet ignorant people on the interwebs, my strategy is to either ignore the dormant troll in them, or to push back. I was getting ready for the second option when said gent mentioned he was actually writing a book (“or maybe memoir, je ne sais pas”) about his life–love life, I might add–and that he’d reach that list in the next five years.

Well, my good man, I wish you all the best. I do. That’s a kind of ambition I’m scared to encourage in myself.

But I realized that some writers have a very grave misunderstanding of what a writer is. I only have two rules, which seem to be echoed around the writing community.

Writers:

  • Write
  • Strive to get better at it

That’s it. If you only write for writing’s sake and you think you’re mankind’s gift to the ignorant masses, that’s a problem that needs to be taken down a peg or two. If you only want to get better without, you know, actually doing the work, that’s a problem you, and you alone, need to deal with.

If you manage to follow those two rules, you’re golden. You’re a writer. Can’t wait to read your work.

And please, please don’t let your worth be dictated by arbitrary goals. As a nifty Google search will tell you, the NYT bestseller list isn’t the most reliable. And never, ever forget that a lot of amazing books don’t get agented/published/millions of copies.

And just like I thought the gent’s opinion was pretentious crap, you’re free to view my take on this topic in the exact same way.

ramblings

Where Are You?

For some unknown reason, some of my earlier posts have vanished.

 

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Source: elcomercio.com/afull/origen-gif-johntravolta-confundido-pulpfiction.html

 

Now I don’t know if I did something wrong (most likely), my cat really is a super villain and hacked into my blog (he’s been too quiet lately to NOT be suspicious), or something’s gone wrong in the WordPress world.

 

Luckily, I still have most of them stashed away somewhere on my computer and I’ll be posting them again *sigh* in the following days (weeks?).

 

ramblings

CREATIVITY, WHY HAVE YOU FAILED ME?

Back in uni, I had a very – and I can’t stress this enough- very limited experience with Corel Draw. For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s the vectorial equivalent of Photoshop.

Past me didn’t think much about recounting the story of how I made a 2D butterfly to a bunch of my friends. I blame the tequila.

Long story short, one of said friends wasn’t buzzed enough to forget the conversation and asked me to help him design a logo. Me. The writer. Cause, like, that’s the way creativity works, doesn’t it?

Now, I’m usually one for free stuff, cause, you know, ‘I poor’ and all that. But a logo is an extremely important part of a brand’s image. That’s another little tidbit I learned in college. But I nodded, smiled, swallowed my doubts about my designing prowess and got to work.

More hours spent in front of the computer, yey.

That was three weeks ago, and while the product is done and looks nice enough, I wished I could’ve come up with the idea on the spot. It took too much for a simple black and white expensive-looking doodle.

He asked for something “insanely simple”. Well, honey, that takes a lot of effort.

ramblings, writing

BAD BLOGGER, DECENT WRITER

The past month has been beyond hectic. A new word needs to be invented (where art thou, Shakespeare?’) to fully describe how frantic I’ve been every waking hour trying to finish a project.

So I had a decision to make. Either I’d write a blog post every week, or I’d spend time working on my next novel.

Guess which one won?

As a writer, I have my priorities. As a former advertising student, I am ashamed of my lack of blogging. There, I said it. Past me is shaking her head and her chopped bangs are getting in the way of her glare.

And, unfortunately, the next month looks exactly the same. One good thing came out of this – I’ve been munching on almonds every day while I’ve been glued to my computer (eating normal meals is for the weak!!!) and my skin looks amazing. And the good news is that I won’t ever have to go through this again. Yey adult me!

‘Till next time.