In Need of a Book Cover

I have this fear that 2021 will be worse than 2020. Everyone is holding on to hope for the next year even though we’re only halfway through 2020. Until today when I had an idea; what if the next year is going to be worse than this year and it kept getting progressively worse until some magical thing cures/stops it. The earth, one year at a time, progresses into a living Biblical hell. What if the Mayans had a dyslexic moment and they didn’t mean 2012… they meant 2021?!

Gambler Quail and the Big Horn Fire in Tucson, Arizona

I’m going to stop letting my fears run wild through the plains of my imagination for a moment and try to come back to the here and now. Besides the 110,000+ acre fire in my backyard and the global pandemic that we don’t have a cure for and everything, I’m blessed. I live in a comfortable home with people who love me, I have money for food, and my husband kicks ass. My daughter is a resilience-master and I’m free to live. I’m not going to stuff down and ignore my fears because they have a purpose, but taking a moment to feel grateful can do a lot of good. Also, the fire is currently 77% contained and they’re getting closer and closer to 100%!

FINALLY – no smoke on my side of the Santa Catalina mountains.

I am still trying to design my book cover using the Canva app. I’m appreciating the designs, but they aren’t hitting the “THAT’S IT!” reaction I’m looking for in my gut. While trying to create the right book cover on Canva, I’ve been also looking out for book cover designers. Fiverr makes me nervous because of the many warnings I’ve received from other authors regarding book cover artists. I DID find a great artist that I’d love to have design my book cover but she costs $500 for one cover and I cannot afford that right now. So… I’ll keep searching.

In my search I found some graphic designers on Instagram that intrigue me but something in my gut is feeling iffy. Also, at night I find myself waking up thinking of all the things I have yet to get done with my book. The process hasn’t moved the way I had imagined it would, which makes sense… this IS my first time ever writing a novel and this isn’t the most stable environment.

Me searching Instagram for graphic artists…

My writing experience in the past is mostly centered on writing commissioned research papers, blog articles, and recap news articles. For people who know writing, that type of writing is drastically different from the style used in any novel. Getting my brain to switch over has been a bit of a struggle. I must remind myself to describe more than tell, and avoid using that monotone instructional type of sentence structure.

My beta readers have responded positively to the first draft though, and gives me a great deal of hope. They enjoyed reading it and felt compelled to keep turning the page to learn what was next. That’s the exact type of response any writer wants from their readers and I feel blessed to have received it. There were a few spots in the story that needed work because it was either unbelievable or they felt the intensity and dramatization could have been dragged on a bit longer. So, I’m going to outline for myself what stuff needs work, go back through and work on it… and I HOPE that during that process I’ll either finalize on a Canva cover or find an artist that meets my needs.

I found out recently that Canva is Filipina owned; did you know that? I love supporting a fellow Filipina and purchasing the app subscription made me feel better. I carry a great deal of pride in the women that share my racial heritage… and representation means everything. We’re often underrepresented and our Indigenous roots are being smothered by political powers… anything I can do to contribute positively towards the Filipino people and its pre-colonial roots brings me pride.

T.V., Baked Goods, a Wildfire and Book Covers

The last two weeks have been full of smoke, desserts and too much t.v.. I fell off the walking-wagon, and fell away from working towards my goals, because I got sucked into watching 4 seasons of 90 Day Fiance. It’s no one else’s fault except my own. I WILL say that I am a huge Rosemarie Vega fan and BOO! on Big Ed! Did ya’ll see the Tell All? I spent the whole two hours gasping and screaming at the TV. HAHAHA!

Also during the last couple weeks while watching those four seasons of 90 Day Fiance, I baked an apple pie, quiche, brownies, muffins, and even a casserole. The food has been great but I gotta put myself back in check.

On the 5th of June, my husband and I watched a lightning storm move through our city and we literally witnessed a lightning bolt strike our mountain and caused it to catch on fire. Since the 5th of June, also the day of the Full Moon, the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona has been on fire. As of a couple of hours ago an evacuation order has been issued for the Catalina Foothills area. I’m not in the evacuation area (which is currently south of the fire) but my home allows me to see a lot of what is happening from the north.

The 5th of June was such a special day for me. It was the Strawberry Full Moon and I dedicated all my prayers that day to the wild and independent Goddess Artemis. I played my Tibetan Singing bowl on the back patio and allowed the humming and vibrating sound sink in to the valley below me. I repeated my prayer for Artemis at my altar throughout the day and was really looking forward to seeing the Full Moon before bed.

That evening clouds started sneaking into the neighborhood and eventually they built up so big that we found ourselves in darkness and being surprised by the brightness of lightning bolts every now and again. My husband and I watched the sky and as soon as we saw a lightning bolt we started counting until we heard the rolling roar of the thunder. Apparently, this process can tell you how far away the lightning bolts are.

At one point we saw a lightning bolt shoot and strike the side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. We counted, and by the time we heard the thunder we reached 23. The lightning bolt struck ground 23 miles away from us, was our guess. When we looked up the distance on our phones map, it was 20 miles away (very close to our count).

After an hour of lightning strikes and thunder the sky quickly cleared out and made space for the moon. In my opinion, Artemis and the full moon really put on a show!

The fire has been burning ever since we witnessed it. The news has since named it the “Big Horn Fire.” When we first saw the light on the side of the mountain we didn’t want to believe the lightning bolt started it. It felt surreal.

Regarding my writing, my beta readers have recently finished reading and we’ve completed our interviews. The feedback was fantastic – in general they loved the story, didn’t get bored and were very satisfied by the suspenseful moments and the way it was all resolved. There was really only one scene that everyone agreed needed work so I’m going to begin work on that before the end of the week.

I also created some book covers in the Canva app, but I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to use any of them. I’m wondering if I should create a book cover in some other way… Are there any writers out there with an opinion on using Canva or some other book cover creator? I would hire an artist to create the cover but I cannot afford that expense at the moment. Canva has a free trial and is $12.99 USD monthly after that, which is more affordable for me at the moment.

I have tried to cut myself off from watching any more 90 Day Fiance episodes and get back to crushing my goals and achieving my dreams. I’m getting there! Baking stuff has been fun but I’m ready to redirect my focus away from the sweets and T.V. shows. Time to get this first book done and published! My word of the week is “REFOCUS.”

Depression Holds On Sometimes

Depression and anxiety love sneaking in when you least expect it. I was on a roll for a few weeks there writing over 2,000 words per day and completing the first draft of my novel. Those pesky emotions snuck in and kept me glued to my bed. I’m lucky I get to keep having therapy despite the quarantine and COVID-19 situation – after analyzing my behavior with my therapist we realized I had very good reason for feeling depressed and anxious.

My yellow roses are starting to bloom this year.

My mothers birthday and the day she passed away was May 5th; I’m never in a terribly great mood on that day. It still breaks my heart that she died on her birthday. It hurts me more that for years she predicted it and I brushed it off asking her to enjoy her birthday instead of focusing on death. I was so selfish to ignore her predictions and feelings. I miss my Mom every day and I’ve never stopped grieving her death. Her influence on my life is being reflected in the book I’m writing. My passion for Filipino culture comes from her raising me!

My Filipina Mom in the early 70s. Look at that beehive hair! She’s so beautiful.

As a long-distance parent sometimes writing letters to my daughters cheers me up. I wrote her a letter to cope and luckily I got to hear from her on Mothers Day. She called me early in the morning and filled me full of love.

My artistic and independent daughter, whom I am so incredibly proud of.

By the end of Mothers Day I was feeling better than I had. My amazing husband did charcoal-facials with me and we pulled our tarot cards for the week. For myself I ended up pulling the four of cups – it represents retreat, withdrawn, rest and the need to check within oneself. The card harkened to me that I must get back to my writing and reminding myself of my goals and aspirations. I took over a week off to lounge in my depression, which I needed at the time, but now I need to tap back into my inner-grit and get back to living my life.

My husband took this photo on one of our walks around the neighborhood during sunset.

Yesterday and today I am happy to have edited over 20 pages and rewrote a couple of scenes for clarity. I also found that playing Betty Boop cartoons in the background keeps my mood up while I’m working. That’s another Denise-hack I can add to my self-care list.

GIF of Betty Boop and Pudget celebrating that they caught an annoying fly in some batter.

My original due date of May 12th (today) won’t be happening… but I am going to forgive myself, be kind to myself, and allow myself whatever time I need to get this done. My mental health is more important to me than getting the book published before the Venus Retrograde begins. I’m going to set a rough-goal of getting the editing and cover art completed by May 26th… but based on my mental health drop this last week we’ll see. One day at a time.

The talented Betty Boop with her puppy Pudgey.

What is my novels genre?

Today I tried something new. I wrote while laying in bed. I didn’t get up; I just laid there typing away on my phone with my thumbs. I didn’t write 3,000 yesterday like I wanted to, but today before even leaving my bed I managed to two-finger punch 1,700 words. Maybe I should write in bed more often.

Also, it just occurred to me that I need to let my daughter know I couldn’t get her hair ties. I’m a long distance parent which means if she asks me for something it will take around 3 days to arrive after I go purchase it or have made it. This corona virus situation has made it even HARDER than it already is. The other day when we spoke on the phone she had let me know that she couldn’t get hair ties and was using a long hairband to tie her hair up. I always keep a lot of hair ties on hand at home because I go through them as well. They get stretched out, they break and snap, or I lose them. It’s worse than bobby-pins!

So the other day when my husband and I went to WalMart to go buy food I stopped by hair care to get hair ties and guess what… there was NONE. I’m serious! I was going to take a picture but there was a WalMart worker restocking the bobby pins and I didn’t want to invade his privacy. I learned in the past strangers don’t want strangers taking their picture and people are even touchier now than ever because of COVID-19. So I just went on my way. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I asked him if he had hair ties and he said, “no, people are using them for homemade masks.” Ugh…. NOTE: I USED BULK ELASTIC INSTEAD OF HAIR TIES. So, the point I am making is I now have to let her know that I was unable to obtain hair ties and to be careful with the hair ties I sent her because I don’t know when I’m going to find more. Why? Because people are using the hair ties for their ears.

I feel ridiculous but I don’t care. This was me heading into WalMart.

Question about my book:

What is the books genre?

This has been difficult for me to answer for myself. There is a romantic element in the story between the protagonist and her husband but the story itself doesn’t focus on the romance as its main topic, so it isn’t a romance. There are elements of mystery where the protagonist is trying to reveal the ways in which her abilities work but mystery isn’t the main focus of the work.

The best answer I’ve come to is: it is a metaphysical/visionary fiction focusing on the healing abilities of the main character. The main character is a half-Filipina and half-Caucasian American who is struggling with her place in the world and her identity. Her deceased ancestor gives her the ability to heal people and is slowly re-introducing her to the shamanistic lifestyle her bloodline comes from. In the story she descends from the native Igorot peoples of the Philippines.

Today’s high is 96°F/35°C and the water is already 75°F/23°C – swimming is in my near future.

Mental Health is my #1 Priority during quarantine

Yesterday I got 3,000 words done and today I got zero, but I am going to give myself some leeway. It’s going to be alright.

My husband in his quarantine gear ready to get groceries at WalMart – Tucson, Az

Yesterday my husband and I did our run to the grocery store. Each time we go (approximately once a week) it becomes more familiar to wear our masks and nitrile gloves, but it makes my anxiety rise. I’ve been handling things well so far, but I’m starting to feel the fears catching up to me. I’m not getting restful deep sleep and my mood swings from depressed to okay every few hours throughout the day. The deep sleep guided meditations and sleep hypnosis tapes for creativity and motivation don’t seem to be working like they once had. I keep giving my fears and prayers away to my guides and ancestors hoping they’ll keep me and my loved ones safe. I’m thankful because they have lovingly kept us safe so far. I haven’t lost my gratitude for the blessings they’ve passed to me.

Yes – I tried EVERYTHING! 😄💤😴

Mental health is important to me, so if I don’t get many words or any words written today I’m going to send myself love and tell myself it’s okay. I did get some cleaning done and I managed to walk for a mile at the track with my husband. The day wasn’t a loss – a lot was gained and I now get to crawl into bed with fresh sheets. Maybe this is what I needed to get the rest I so desperately need? I’ll find out tonight I guess. Sleep well my internet friends and remember to take some time out for self-care and self-love.

A photo I took on my walk the other day… Tucson has gorgeous skies.

My Goal is 3,000 Words Per Day

My mood it shotty today. I woke up feeling amped that it was 4-20 but now its 2 p.m. and I feel undriven.

I decided to do some math and see if I can afford to give into my feeling undriven and call today a ‘zero-day’. Long story, short – nope. Cannot take today off.

Today is the 20th and ideally, I’d like to have the first draft finished on the 30th of April. To reach my goals I need to up my production from averaging around 2,000 words per day to 3,000 words per day. I lost time yesterday rewriting part of my Act Two/Part Two and Act Three to make more sense based on where my imagination has decided to take me recently in my writing.

Walking to clear the mind – Tucson, Az

I know I’m not the only one who creates an interesting plot, just to have your imagination shock you and take you elsewhere. Well, I’m there, but I’m gonna go with it.

Once I finish my first draft on the 30th, I’d like to finish editing by May 8th, have the cover finished by May 10th and published on KDP by May 12th. Of course, it might not go exactly as I’m hoping. If I’ve learned anything from COVID-19 it’s that nothing is promised and you never know what’s around the corner.

Another reason I chose the 12th to have this all done is that Venus is going into retrograde on the 13th. If you want to know more about Venus Retrogrades, I recommend this article: https://www.astrology.com/article/venus-retrograde-gemini-2020

My Tarot Card for week is “The Hermit” – time for introspection and MORE isolation.

So before I go write, I thought I’d answer a question about my book.

“What is your book about?”

My book is a metaphysical fiction about a thirty-year-old millennial struggling to identify her purpose in the world. It starts with her unable to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life. She encounters spirit in multiple ways and spirit guides her towards being a healer. This is the first book of a series. In this first book, she develops a relationship with her spirit guide and gets a crash course on how to use her gifts. Her spirit guide happens to be her Igorot ancestor from the Philippines. Her ancestor was an Indigenous Shaman, also known as a Babaylan or Anituwan. Some researched information about Igorot lifestyle is included in the storyline but the story is a fiction, so many things have been enhanced or exaggerated for the sake of storytelling.

Photograph of Indigenous Igorot People from the Philippines Islands

My Quarantine Writer Lifestyle

I usually wake up around 7 a.m. to use the restroom and then I go back to bed. I sleep until around 10 am. to 11 a.m. Being unemployed in quarantine means I have nowhere to be and I’ve always preferred staying up late and sleeping in late.

When I do finally drag my ass out of bed, the first thing I go for is the Keurig for a cup of coffee with creamer. I sit down and go through all the emails and messages that came to me while I slept and watch cartoons. I’m an adult with severe anxiety and so the safest thing for me to watch when I’m waking up is cartoons. It could be Tom & Jerry, Family Guy, Cleveland Show, Amazing World of Gumball, Adventure Time, Spongebob… almost anything on the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Comedy Central. I’m a 90s kid – I believe that’s why those cartoons soothe me. They create an ambiance of less responsibility.

I’m planting Phlox in a pot – Tucson, Az

I’m a stereotypical millenial and it’s not because I wanted to be one. Instead of fighting the stereotype I’m trying to find ways to be at peace with whatever my truth is.

But the day ended PERFECTLY when my daughter called me. She got the mask I made her and the flower necklace that says “You’re My Ohana”. We played with filters, tried on our masks, talked about hair and stories we have yet to write. I learned today that she likes writing stories too. She likes to write scary subjects and includes some magical phenomenon – she reminds me of me as a child. Is personality genetic?

In between the thinking and video bonding, I did manage to get over 2,000 words written and I planted some phlox seeds.

April 18th. 2020 Sunset in Tucson, Az

Contemporary Quarantine Lifestyle

This corona virus quarantine seems to be saving time by me not having to drive anywhere. This morning I finished a telemed doctor visit to discuss my back pain. Big PRO was I didn’t have to drive anywhere and within seconds a nurse was on the screen to take some information from me. I took my own temperature and weighed myself on a home scale. I didn’t tell them I have a home blood pressure monitor because I didn’t want to go unplug it and drag it over to the room I set up for my visit. Maybe I’ll have it ready for the next time; if there is a next time. Is this the way medical visits will be moving forward? I ask, even though I know no one knows the answer to that. The bad part is now I have to head into the chaos to pick up my prescription later – there is no drive thru window. So, I’ll be heading out with blue nitrile gloves, my homemade mask, and my hair pulled back tightly.

Most people around me have received their stimulus checks. The IRS website said they released it to be deposited in my account today, but when I checked my bank account, there was nothing there.

Just in case you don’t know, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you can review the status of your payment by going to: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment Click the blue button that says “Get My Payment” and it will load a new screen that will ask you some basic questions, like your DOB, name, address, and so on…

The puzzle company gave us a duplicate piece and took one away. The poor retriever’s heart has been crossed!

I also had my therapy session over telephone today. It was nice not going anywhere, but I realized the only space I have that is sound proof from any passer-by’s is my vehicle. The other plus to having my therapy session in my car is that I’m surrounded by windows.; no one can sneak up on me. While I don’t think anyone in my home is sneakily trying to listen to my conversations, I’m aware the walls are thin and I know I can get loud when passionately conversing with someone. Literally, right now, as I type I can hear the conversation between two police offers on the t.v. in the living room. I’m in my bedroom with the door closed. *Shrug* It also helps that I don’t care who see’s me crying. If you see my on the phone and crying hysterically in my car, DO NOT BE ALARMED, I’m in therapy. Haha! This is the modern quarantine lifestyle.

Also, regarding the novel in process, today my protagonist will have to deal with a direct attack by her antagonist. The protagonist is going to be attacked by the antagonist via Facebook Live. Sound harmless, but this is only the first step towards a series of maliciously handled events. I have so much writing to do and suspense to curate.

Leave a comment below, has anyone ever attacked you in a publicly shared space like at school, the mall, or even online outlets like Facebook Live or Twitter? How did it affect you and did you change anything because of it? I’m asking for “research” sake… maybe I’ll incorporate it into the story?

Tangerine sunset in Tucson, Az

Struggling to Flow

11 a.m. 4-14-2020 – The last few days I’ve been struggling to get into my imaginary land and let the words flow. I wrote the least amount of words the last two days of all the other days I worked on my novel. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I have the story plotted so I know the journey my protagonist is on, but describing and connecting the events suddenly became difficult.

I did a few things to try and alleviate the mental blockage. I went for a walk, I drank a glass of champagne, and cleaned. Cleaning feels like meditating to me, and I also meditated.

Everyone gets to pick a lane. -Tucson, Az

Today I’ll try again and see how far I can go. I’ve noticed many writers start with pen and paper to eventually move it onto the computer. I hand write too slowly to be happy with that method. I type 80 wpm and using pencil slows me down by a significant amount. Maybe I’m expecting information faster than my minds willing to give it to me? I don’t know, but today is a new day and I’m going to try and overcome this writing speed bump.

My husband and I after our visit to the track. -Tucson, Az

Also, another thing occurred to me. My daughter asked to get a copy when it’s all said and done and I just realized that the story includes some elements that aren’t age 11 appropriate. I have some re-writing to do. One side-character for example is a prostitute – I think I’m going to have to change this. What’s a job that is viewed as taboo but is still acceptable for an 11 year old to read about? Which brings me to my next thought, can you sell a novel to adults that is still age 11 appropriate? My daughter is my biggest cheerleader and the most curious about my work. I don’t want to tell her she can’t read it since she knows my time is consumed with it. Anyways… for now, I’m gonna get to it. Sit down, focus and write, write, write! I’ll edit later.

I’m so thankful this is where I get to write. -Tucson, Az

*****MANY HOURS LATER***** Today was much better. I got about 3,000 words so far today and I’ll probably have more done later tonight. My protagonist is about to go into her first head-to-head confrontation with her antagonist. I’m going to be gathering my fighting words for this next scene. 😉

My goal is to still get this novel done ENTIRELY by the end of the month. Cross your fingers with me!

The sun setting soon. -Tucson, Az

Letter Received

Today was a great day because I received a letter from my daughter. She had a picture she drew included in the envelope. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from her! The top had a picture of a teacher crying and the bottom of the page had runners running away from a mall. She is reflecting her perspective on paper and I wish I could comfort her, but to shelter her from the truth of the world would only lead to blind ignorance.

The letter signifies that she received the mask I sewed for her as well the long letter explaining the importance of washing her hands and keeping her mask on when in public near people. It was not the type of package I had ever hoped to send to my child but it was necessary. I felt compelled to not ignore the subject and proactively address it with her in some manner.

Despite the sad times (COVID-19 Quarantine) and the sad subject (sad teachers and a broken economy), feeling the paper she touched and sketched on with intention brought my heart warmth and happiness. She is a fighter and intensely resilient. That alone makes today a wonderfully great day.

I also wrote and worked on my fiction. At the moment my protagonist is learning how to use her abilities to heal people. She is headed towards conflict but not fully aware of it at the moment. She will be blindsided with this conflict but I have yet to write that in. So far, today alone, I have written 2,506 words but there are still a few hours left in my day so I know that number will go up before I lay my head down to rest.

I’ve said this a million times before to anyone who closely knows me, “If I don’t keep myself busy, I will go insane.” Right now my purpose is to create a literary world where people heal and grow. That is enough to keep me busy.

I pray, may my imagination be a reflection of a healed world that I hope will manifest out from under the heaviness of this pandemic.

I’m lucky to write in such a magical space. Tucson, AZ 2020