This will be my last blog for 2015, before we set sail on the "Slow Boat to China", also know as, the Manila-Occidental Mindoro roro ferry, for a much needed and perhaps even deserved break for Christmas in the tiny, little village of Rizal - the ancestral home of my wife.
If you have read any of my books (and if you haven't why the hell not! They're not too bad!) you will have already come across Rizal, a sleepy, little town in the hinterland of Occidental Mindoro, where the closest thing to excitement is relaxing on a hammock on the front porch, listening to the multifarious insect and bird noises - sheer bliss in my book.
It hasn't escaped my attention that many of my writer friends are domiciled in the dark, stormy, depths of the U.K. and U.S.A.winter, so at this time of year will be hunkering down for a cold, wet and perhaps even a "white" Christmas.
Fear not my dear friends, I shall think of you as I luxuriate in the warm, gentle, waters, of the West Philippine sea. (Truly I will!!!!)
So, it being my last blog for 2015, it is entirely appropriate to indulge in some retrospection and navel-gazing! Have I achieved anything in 2015? What have I learned in 2015? and perhaps most importantly of all What is the meaning of life? Nah! Seriously, I'll leave that last one for the first blog of 2016 - it's sort of a biggie and deserves all my attention.
I've published three books in 2015 - that seems like some sort of achievement in itself, right? It could have been four, but the sequel to The Second Coming is going the slightly more traditional route, through a publisher, albeit a crowd-funding publisher and we all know how long that takes. Still, Rise of the AntiChrist should be out in early 2016, so that's an exciting start to the new year.
My first book, The Second Coming, like our first-born child, will always hold a special place in my heart, despite a few shortcomings in the book.
I used a punctuation, style technique, in The Second Coming that hasn't resonated with everyone, but nevertheless, I'm immensely proud of my little, baby and still hold high hopes for it to be a big success. It's a great story and that's more important to me than the style quibbles. More important to me, anyway, are the twenty-two positive reviews received thus far and of course the Readers' Favorite 5-Star rating it received toward the end of the year.
What I particularly love about The Second Coming is that it reaffirms our belief in humanity. As a species we are imperfect and often ruthless and callous toward each, but like JC in the book, I have great faith in the inherent power and good of the human heart. We shall survive.
Check out The Second Coming here: http://bit.ly/1J1gkdz
Just a Drop is a romance that transcends time and distance. It reaffirms, for me, that love truly can conquer all. I am a romantic at heart and this story is very personal and very close to my heart.
One of the most satisfying things I've experienced this year is the feedback I've had thus far on Just A Drop. One person who read it even said it was one of the top two books they read this year! You have no idea what that does for an author who. like most authors, has a morass of self-doubt over their works.
Thank you for the wonderful reception you have all given Just A Drop, it means so much to me.
In this book we see exposed the very human frailties that The Second Coming talks about, but we also see the indomitable power of love and redemption, shining through. This book truly is an inspirational and heart-warming read - If you haven't already guessed, I love this book!
Check out Just A Drop in the Ocean here: http://bit.ly/1QA7eaz
He was bemoaning the fact, one day, that he didn't have time to write a full novel, just short-stories, so I gave him a challenge. I told him if he produced seven short stories on horror and the paranormal (his genre), then I would match it with seven stories of my own and edit and publish the resultant book.
I was thrilled that he accepted the challenge and then put me under immense pressure to fulfill my end of the deal, until early this month when we proudly published Paranormal Alley
This was the first time I had even attempted to write short stories, let alone in the horror/paranormal genre, so it was a steep learning curve for me that stretched me, as a writer and ultimately improved my work, no end.
We have no idea how this book will be received, although we are waiting with bated breath for the first reviews to come in. Regardless of the reception, I am just so thrilled to be able to do a project with my incredibly talented son and assist him to fulfill one of his dreams - to be a published author.
I think sometimes, in the hurly-burly of daily life, we can easily forget what we are placed on this earth for - to be happy and to follow our dreams. We should never lose sight of that.
Please do check out Paranormal Alley here: http://amzn.to/1NxbLXe
Well, to be honest, I've learnt so, so much, but today I'll just focus on three revelations that have come to me during the course of this year.
1/ I AM NOT ALONE!
Writing, by its very nature, is a solitary and at times lonely occupation. Unless your spouse and/or family are writers themselves, they just don't get it. They are incredibly supportive and in my case wonderfully, loving, caring and everything I could ever ask for, but the fact remains, they really don't understand what it is we do and how it affects us sometimes.
Thank God for my writing friends on Social Media. The biggest thing I've realised this past year is that "indie" authors are the most amazing, supportive, and helpful people on this planet. We're all in the same boat, struggling for recognition, struggling to be seen in the morass of printed words and without the affirmations and help from our fellow "indies", this writing lark could be extremely fraught and at times desolate. I am so grateful and blessed by the authors I've come into contact with this past year.
I want to mention names, but the minute I do, I know I'll miss someone out and that's just not acceptable to me because each and every one of them is a wonderful support and an amazing author in their own right. They know who they are and I give my unreserved thanks and sincerest pleasure at being counted among their colleagues.
So, my biggest take from 2015 is this simple message to all my wonderful author friends: "Your success does not diminish me in any way, shape or form; rather, it inspires me to achieve the same standards and greatness you have achieved. Maraming, Maraming, Salamat Po!"
If you are going to have the temerity to put your work out into the public arena, ask people to pay their hard-earned shekels for it and ask them to pass judgement on your effort, don't be upset if they don't like it.
I know it hurts - God, it hurts!
I well remember the first time I got a message from someone advising me they wouldn't be reading any more of The Second Coming because it was blasphemous. I was two-thirds of the way through my scathing reply, before I managed to rip my hands away from the keyboard, take a deep breath and consider exactly what that person had said. After some introspection, I erased my initial response and thanked the reader for her comments and expressed regret that she didn't enjoy my book. Seriously guys, that was possibly the hardest message I've ever had to write, but it was and is the only sensible response to criticism.
Criticism of your work really is part of the process of becoming an author, an artist, or any creative person. Not everyone is going to like your work! Get that through your head early on and you will have a much more peaceful, less stressful and ultimately more productive existence.
When someone makes a critical comment in a review I look dispassionately at what they've said and if I think there's merit in their comment, I will take it on board and try and improve my writing next time. If, and this does happen, I think the person is talking a load of bollocks, I'll just smile secretly to myself and say; "ah well, they just didn't get where I'm coming from, did they? Their loss!"
The most important thing is to learn from the feedback (its not usually criticism) and use it to develop and stretch your talents even further. None of us was born with a pen or a laptop in our hands. Being a "good" author is just like any other profession, you have to learn your craft.
The most important take from all this is: "Learn from the positive feedback and ignore the barbed, negative, feedback; it's simply not important enough to get your "knickers in a knot" about. Be Zen!"
My third and final takeaway from 2015 is just that; I was born to write. It is what fulfills me more than anything I've ever attempted to do before.
The startling revelation for me, is that I have found that place on this earth that I truly belong; in front of a computer screen, typing my thoughts and ideas. How many of us can reach that point in our lives where we can say we are completely happy with where we are? I can honestly say that.
I was actually thinking about this the other day and rueing the fact that it took me so long, in my life, to come to that startling conclusion...and then the epiphany hit!
If I hadn't been through all those experiences, trials, tribulations, highs & lows of my life, my writing wouldn't be what it is today. I write what I write because of who I am and what I've experienced.
I am, I hope, a much better person for this revelation and also I know, a much better writer. I would not trade where I am today for anything. I truly am "living the dream" and living it joyfully and happily.
So, my final take for 2015 is simply this: The past has shaped and formed who we are today, but it has no relevance at all to what we do today. Let the past go and embrace the wonderful, creative, joyful, present!
All that remains for me now is to wish each and every one of you the very best Christmas Season you can possibly have. Please remember, if Christmas isn't your thing and I do understand that not all the world celebrates Christmas, also remember that it is my thing, so don't be offended please.
To be on the safe side I will just wish you all:
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!
I hope that covers all my bases and I hope will see you right back here in 2016; same bat-time, same bat-channel, refreshed, enlightened and ready for an incredibly, awesome, year.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my ramblings in 2015, especially those who have made the extra effort to comment or contact me on social media. It means so, so much to me and all my fellow authors to have that contact and know we are making a small, but important difference in people's lives.
Till next year, thank you for reading and have a peace-filled day!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
Have a great life and spread the love!
Changing the world – one reader at a time!