Release Day! (+ The “Woe is Me” Tale Behind this Story)

It’s release day for A Spoonful Of Spice! I may get tired of writing sometimes, but I never get tired of hitting the “publish” button on a story. 😀 So yay, please celebrate this momentous occasion with me! Here’s a pumpkin spice latte for you and one for me, too. Cheers!

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In case you haven’t figured it out by now, A Spoonful of Spice is the autumn story in my “Seasons of Love” series. When I was brainstorming for this book, the first thing that popped into my head was the word “pumpkin”. Then the words “chai latte” because I love putting those two together when I go to my favorite cafe, Peet’s (sorry, Starbucks lovers!). But since pumpkin spice lattes are more popular drinks, I decided to include them in this story. Oh, and also an IT guy and an IT girl because it’s a love story between the guy and the girl (and possibly, the girl and her pumpkin spice latte). 😉

So that’s how this office romance started … but the finished product is actually a major revision of my original story. Like a total rewrite of half of it (something I’ve never done before!). Yes, that’s when I had a “woe is me” moment as a writer. 😉 Looking back, however, I’m more than grateful that one of my early beta readers (a trusted author friend) gave me some honest and insightful feedback on the story. After picking myself up off the ground, I took a good look at it and tried my hardest to make it better. And to my delight, I like the story a lot more now after rewriting half of it. I think I keep repeating that I rewrote half of it because I still can’t believe I rewrote half of it! Oh, but rewriting half of it was only the first part of my “woe is me” story with this book. I also had to redo the cover after I already did the cover reveal (you can read about that in this post here).

Oh, I almost forgot—there’s a part 3, too. 😉 This was the first book I formatted myself (aka. turning a MS Word file into a .mobi file for Kindle) and that in itself was an adventure. It took 8+ hours to figure it all out, but I did save $80, and hopefully next time it’ll be a lot easier and faster.

So, yes, for a 10,000-word story, there was a lot of work involved. Let me repeat that—A LOT of work. 😉 But it’s all good. All the rewriting and redoing made me appreciate how stubborn I am (haha!) and how any good thing involves perseverance.

Anyhow, you can buy A Spoonful Of Spice for $0.99 or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.com here. I hope you’ll enjoy it, especially with a cup of pumpkin spice latte! 🙂

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And here’s my favorite song from the YouTube playlist I made for this book, Voctave’s cover of “Someone Like You”, featuring Jody McBrayer.

Tackling Challenges One “File” at a Time

Sometimes I wish life was easier, that things could just magically fall into place. Take potty training for example. Wouldn’t it be great if toddlers understood the whole process and got it right on the first try? Imagine how glorious it would be if your child could tap you on the shoulder and inform you oh so calmly, “It’s potty time. Don’t feel the need to rush because I’m letting you know a whole two minutes in advance. Just point me to my porcelain throne so I can do my business.” That would sure be a lot easier than having to hover over him all day, waiting for him to make “that face” and then clutching him like a football and sprinting down the hall to the bathroom, wouldn’t it?

But alas, this is not how life works. Things rarely go the way you’d like them to, especially on the first try. It usually takes more than one job interview to get a job offer. More than one scraped knee to learn how to ride a bike. More than one rough draft to produce a novel. More than one heart to heart talk to strengthen a relationship.

It often takes more than one disappointment, one struggle, one failure to get you to where you want to be.

(Yes, now’s the time to sigh if you’re feeling discouraged.)

But (here’s where you can start feeling encouraged), there’s an upside to all this. When we push through our disappointments, our struggles and our failures, we develop something inside us that makes us stronger, more resilient and more hopeful.

Let me introduce you to that something. It’s called…

per¡se¡ver¡ance

noun

1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Perseverance is like a friend who doesn’t cheer you on from the sidelines but actually runs alongside you. It reminds you that distance is measured not only in miles but in steps. It teaches you to focus not only on the finish line but to also consider how far you’ve already come.

My first test of perseverance (the first one to really make an impact on me) happened years ago when I worked in Human Resources at a biotech company. I started out as a “paper pusher”, typing out offer letters and putting employee files together. I remember being given a task at one point that completely overwhelmed me and had me questioning, “How in the world am I ever going to get this done?!” My task was to audit each and every one of the employee files for the entire company, which included branches in the east coast and also the UK. The total number of files came out to be around 1,400.

I spent weeks in a freezing cold file room, shivering and groaning as I pulled out file by file… by file. I started out working on file #1, made it to #376, then #599, then #819… had a small party when I hit #1,000, and finally, finally arrived at #1,400. It was a happy day when I finished my task and emerged triumphantly from the file room. I may have come out a bit blue and frostbitten, but I was also a lot more confident in my ability to persevere.

Image courtesy of krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

Is there something you are currently struggling through? I hope you will continue to persevere through it. Whether you feel like you are stuck in your own “file room” working on file #101 or #1,101, take heart and know you are that much farther from #1. Just take it one “file” at a time. 🙂

Take a listen to Miley Cyrus’, “The Climb“, a great song about perseverance.

What situations have you persevered through in your life, and how did they change you? 

Getting Punched

Yesterday, I got punched in the gut. Not literally, thank God (cause I’m no Rocky Balboa), but most definitely in a way I could feel in my heart.

Image courtesy of hin255/freedigitalphotos.net

The source of the punch? This email…

“We appreciated the opportunity to read your work and found much to enjoy in this essay. However, we are currently receiving more high-quality submissions than we are able to publish, and we are afraid we decided to pass on this one.”

Sigh. 🙁

Although this was not my first rejection letter from a publishing company (and I know it won’t be my last one either), it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. It’s times like these when I wish there was truth in the childhood saying, “I’m rubber and you’re glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. But the reality is that I’m human and each “No” I get has the power to pierce through my flesh and draw blood.

Okay, maybe I need to look on the bright side and stop being so melodramatic. 🙂 I know there are always two ways to look at a situation: positively or negatively. If I choose the former, I can tell myself there are other opportunities out there and I have heard “Yes” a couple of times, so don’t give up. If I choose the latter, I can stop writing and just drown my sorrows in Cherry Garcia ice-cream – which is a tempting thought considering how much I love the combination of cherries and chocolate!

But what keeps me going is the fact that I love to write and the belief that anything worth doing takes perseverance. And a reminder from hubby that J.K. Rowling (as did many successful writers) faced rejection numerous times, too.

So, I choose to keep on trying. I got back on the proverbial horse (or in my case, my laptop) last night and contacted another publisher. Sure, I risk facing rejection again, but I also may have opened the door to a potential acceptance.

A side note: Right after I received the rejection email and was feeling down, C took my hand and said, “Mom, sing with me. Things are going to get better.” She had made up the little tune on her own, not knowing how discouraged I was feeling at the time. I sang along with her, squeezing the words out past the lump in my throat, and thanked God for reminding me that things are going to get better.

Here is Pink’s song, “Try“, which is all about getting up and trying again.

What has helped you bounce back from rejection?