Whatever you dream to do, be sure to do it well.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Saying Yes is Fun! Or is it? P is for Planning.

Everyone has a word or phrase that slips out of his or her mouth easily whether it’s a curse word or an expression. Mine is, “Yes, (insert affirmative tag here)!” No one jumps at the chance to admit they have a problem or bad habit, especially when it’s something as embarrassing as saying yes to almost every favor, request, or invite. Hello, my name is CSS and I say yes to almost everything. 

But it feels goooood to say YES!
But why?

This may sound weird or maybe even disturbing, but I get a high saying yes to people; I become the good guy, the hero, and the fulfiller of dreams. It stems out of my desire to make people happy and see them smile. I draw energy from people’s smiles and laughter similar to how some people draw negative energy (and pleasure) from other people’s frowns and misfortunes. By the way, I hope I never meet a person of the latter persuasion. However, I soon end up as the bad guy, the breaker of promises, or worse, someone whose actions does not live up to the sweet sweet words spoken earlier. Let me clarify: Hello, my name is CSS and I say yes to almost everything, but there’s a fifty percent chance I might later contact you in the last minute to recant my yes and put in place a big disappointing no. Sigh. See what I mean? 

I said... Ah, forget it! -__-
However, no despair! There is a solution to every bad trait we want to rectify, and in my case I want to properly assess a favor, request, or invite and respond honestly instead of jumping at saying yes—all in the time frame of several seconds. I go into a mini-panic mode when I can’t respond to questions quickly because I’m a thinker. I believe it’s rude to leave this wide gap in the middle of a conversation, so that’s a second problem added to the mix.

First of all, I need stop this habit of drawing energy from people and redirect it to drawing energy from my own happiness, my own smile, and myself. It doesn’t mean I feel nothing or uninspired when goodness befalls people. It’s more about relationship dynamics where I don’t depend on pleasing others and making them feel good at the moment to make myself feel good. I should be confident enough to provide an answer based on reality in terms of what I can give and am willing to give. ALSO, commitments are important. When you break them, it sends people the message you don’t care about or value them, and that’s not the case at all. It’s like promising to give five little kids rock candy right away when you have only three Jolly Ranchers in your possession. You'll have two sour kids in your hand. Plan accordingly.

And that brings me to the P of ESPER. P is for planning. Now, I know I was supposed to share my writing process with the planning component, but I’m still working on this phase and won’t have anything to share until Monday.

Oh snap, I did it again!

Promise. Monday.
What? This face pays the bills.

Thanks for reading, ::-)


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Send Negativity to Hell! S is for Strategy.

When I was a kid, I used to be scared out of my wits by hitchhiker seeds: those brown, spiky little balls that resembled bugs with claws and hooks. Chills gave rise to goose bumps on my skin and exclamations of “Eww! Eww! Get if off!” whenever those pesky little seeds clung to my socks, pants legs, or sleeves. 

Annoying little buggers

Don’t ask me why, maybe I was slow, but I had a hard time getting those seeds off me. Now, I just brush the little suckers off, no problem. You know what’s like that? Negativity.

Negativity clings onto a person worse than a bear trap because sometimes we don’t do anything about it. I used to be that person that let negativity fester, grow, and get worse until it finally crushed me under its weight and invited its big brother depression to join in on the party to tear me apart and slow me down. The worse part? I let it happen. That was not cool.  Faith and prayer played key parts in uplifting my spirits, but one other essential component included making a decision: I refuse to live this way anymore.

I’ve learned to have more appreciation for attitude and the power of the mind. I sincerely believe despite whatever issue, big or small, manageable or terrifying, neutral or miserable, a person can wade through it all unscathed and stronger if she takes control over her mind and attitude.  A lot of negativity is delusional thinking anyway mixed with endless worry that leads you absolutely nowhere.  Who wants to live life feeling stuck? Progress is what it’s all about, especially the progress I want to see in my life. And even better, I have all the power to create and achieve that progress. Like Captain Planet used to say, “The power is yours!” That reminds me. I remember talking to this teenager about Captain Planet and she told me she didn’t know what I was talking about. Sheesh, kids make you feel old.

Can't believe she didn't know who I was! 
Anyway, moving on! Chucking negativity helped me because now I can go about achieving my goals without focusing heavily on my alleged limitations or external surroundings. I want to share with you some work I’ve done for the S in ESPER. S stands for strategy. You can learn more about all the guidelines for strategy by going here on the Personal Excellence site by Celestine Chua.


1.) What are the resources and information necessary to accomplish my goal?   
  • Homework on writing a book, plotting, characters, writing well, writing suspense, action scenes, descriptions, setting, cliffhangers, foreshadowing, rewards for readers, etc. 
  •  Homework on securing an agent, writing query letters, and pitching my book in the most effective way.
  • Homework on promoting myself as a writer through social media. How can I improve in this area? What are some resources available to help me that won’t hurt my wallet?
  • Anything else?

2.) What are the obstacles that stand in the way of my goal and how can I overcome them?
  •          Making time to write.
    •       Yes, I know I don’t have a full-time job and thus have the luxury of more available free time than most, but you’d be surprise what poor time management can do to a person with too much free time. I need to figure out how to manage my time in ways that will maximize my productivity.          
  •       Distractions from Daily Life: internet, low priority tasks, phone calls, food, basic needs (JK on those last two ^-^)
    •      Possible solutions is to disconnect from the internet when writing, but I love listening to Spotify when I write, and that requires the internet so what to do? Resist the urge to check my email? That doesn’t always work too well. When I really really want to get some writing done, I turn off my wi-fi and listen to tracks on my Itunes or listen to the Relax Melodies app. So, there is always a way to bypass the obstacles to overcoming your obstacles. Does that make sense?   
    •      Let people know that I’m working and not available so they don’t disturb me
    •      Convince myself that those low-priority tasks tugging at my cuff for attention like annoying little brats will get done when it’s their turn, but right now, it’s time to write.

3.) What can I do differently to achieve my goal?
  • I’ve had the goal to finish editing my novel numerous times before and failed. So whatever methods I used before isn’t going to give me the different output I desire. This begs the question how do you go about writing a book differently? Writing is writing, right? Well, I can change my settings. I usually write in my room, which contains many distractions: bed, video-game consoles, telephone, etc. I can also change the time that I write and see how that works in terms of output. I can stop listening to music altogether when I write. It might be a big distraction that I’m not even aware of yet. I can go on and play around with all the different ways that I can write until I find the methods that increase my output. Since I have yet to query agents, I can keep whatever strategy I have set-up and change it up when the silence proves to be deafening after three to four months. Or less. :)

Well, that’s all for today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the strategy for achieving goals.  

Thanks for reading! :)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Underemployment Sucks! So Make Your Own Path: E is for Establish.

Happy Tuesday, folks!

Nearly three months have passed since I returned home from Seoul, South Korea. I left behind a city that I would always remember for its gorgeous mountains; insane amount of coffee shops (one every single block—I kid you not); never ending talking saleswomen wearing oversized white knee socks and mini-skirts as they stood in front of beauty boutiques that blasted K-Pop music to passing pedestrians; the snappy dressers, the wild dressers, and the dressers that elicited the biggest WTF from me and my fellow teachers;

Oh, just another regular day in the subway

the businesses that used random English words mixed up to create the funniest, incoherent phrases or clever ones like the love motel named She'll or the coffee shop called Exorcist Coffee. 
Whaaaaat? That's a motel named She'll.

Have some coffee brewed by your friendly neighborhood exorcist.
I even miss those pesky delivery scooters ready to run me down on the sidewalk; the old ladies that pushed me aside better than any NFL quarterback to get a seat on the train; and hell, even those taxi drivers that drove past me dozens of times at 1:30AM because I stood on the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Ah, Korea. I miss you terribly. And of course, I miss my students most of all. The friendships I forged there will always remain in my heart, along with the adventures we took through the city and beyond. 
No matter where we are, we'll always be friends.

And who can forget those Saturday nights in the singing room, Noraebanging our hearts out (Karaoke in Korean—yes, I made it a verb)? This is only a snapshot of how I lived in Korea, but I hope it gave you a little sense of what I experienced. 

Back in America: Don't go away just yet, Fall! D:
NOW, I am back here in the ‘burbs, settled and readjusted to American life. (Was there always this many obese people here? We need to do something, country.) I’ve applied to more jobs than I care to count and tweaked cover letters to the point of ad nauseam. The results are a couple of part-time teaching gigs which I’m grateful for because money is money, and that's a whole lot better than a long day at home, being broke with nowhere to go. 

However, I see farther than the life I have now to a place where I have control over my career and achieve the goals and dreams harassing my mind. And this is where the E in ESPER comes in. Remember, ESPER is the goal setting/achieving model from the website Personal Excellence by Celestine Chua that I’m using to finish the edits and rewrites of COT and get it published through the difficult, hyper-competitive traditional publishing route. I’m not crazy; I have back-up plans A, B, C, and so on.

The E in ESPER stands for establishing your goal. 10 components make up this section but I’ll share five. You can find all them here:

1. Is your goal defined in the context of your life purpose?

I believe one of the key purposes in my life is to connect with as many people as possible to share joy, happiness, love, and care. I see writing as one of the ways I can carry out this purpose because it allows me to communicate with a wide audience. I hope that my books can not only entertain, but also inspire and bring joy and happiness to readers, and hell maybe even change the world for the better. No reason not to add that in the mix.

2. Ensure that your goal is a key goal with an 80/20 destination: part of the 20% of goals that will give you 80% happiness.

Hellz yes! I’d be very happy to be a published author. Not much to elaborate on here.

3. Plan for BHAG: Big Hairy Audacious Goals   

Nobel Prize in Literature. If you don’t go all the way, why go at all?

4. Start with Long Term, then break down into short term:
90,000 words in 2 months
45,000 words in 1 month
11, 250 words in 1 week
1,600 words in 1 day             

5. Use positive framing:

I will write a novel I love that is ready to publish. I believe I will finish a novel I love that is ready to publish. Forget my under-employment, pressure from parents to get a real job or go back to school, external environment, pressures from society, and from my own limitation, impatience, and delusions on the lack of ability or talent or whatever that negative voice in my head thinks up to put me down. Purge the negatives. Time will take care of itself. You take care of yourself and your goals. You are not wasting your life because this is your goal, your big effing dream. Life is rich and full of opportunities that you have to create. Continue to grow and take control over your life.

And, that is where I am now. And it feels good. 

Thanks for reading. :-)


Monday, November 26, 2012

Channeling Inner Desires to Motivate: ESPER, an Introduction

Hi There!

Are we stuffed with turkey? Or in my case, salmon? :-D I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving day and weekend. If your Thanksgiving was awful, I'm sorry about that. Just remember you can always make better days ahead. You can start with now! :-) 

Happy Happy Joy Joy! Wait, Wrong Cartoon.
Today, I want to talk a little about channeling inner desires to motivate. I mentioned several posts earlier about how I’d learn to overcome the serious writer’s block crippling my writing. I can’t believe that it was only a month ago that deep discouragement over my lackluster progress overwhelmed me. I didn’t think I’d ever produce something that would be published. 

Just replace "Bloggers" with "Writers". My parents reaction to my writing!
 At first, I thought the culprits behind my procrastination were laziness, lack of discipline, and boredom, but the truth had been fear of rejection and lack of faith in my writing abilities. Understanding these deeper meanings helped me progress to the next phase of achieving my goals and ultimately, my dreams: channeling my inner desires to motivate me to write productively on a daily basis. We all have our unique motivations for writing, and I’ve tapped into mine. It’s been driving me to action like I’ve never experience before in my life. I realized that my inspiration comes from within not from the outside, and I had to clearly identify my purpose.  I credit the website Personal Excellence by Celestine Chua for helping me unravel all these issues. If you struggle with procrastination, self-doubt, or goal setting, I highly recommend it.  Reading Celestine’s writing transformed my focus on life and my writing.

For the next several days, I’m going to share my experiences using the goal-setting/achieving model ESPER that Celestine explains on her website. ESPER stands for Establish, Strategy, Planning, Execution, and Review. I’ve decided to use ESPER to finish editing COT. As I’ve told you before, I made some big changes to COT (changing one of the female MCs to a male) so it’ll involve some rewriting and reworking. I’m very excited about the edits and rewrites I’ve made so far. My novel is bursting with vitality and new energy because I’m finally writing the book I want to read! Not the book that I think others would want. That’s just stifling. Letting go of all my inhibitions and loving the world I’m creating infuses COT with a freshness I didn’t think it could ever possess.

Attitude is key in all of this. Your writing reflects your attitude. If you’re unhappy, fearful or dissatisfied with yourself, then the prose won’t represent your highest potential as a writer. I’m not saying you have to be super high on life to write a great novel because history shows us a ton of amazing writers who suffered from difficult emotional issues. If you don’t believe in yourself and the words you’re putting down, then you won’t convince your readers that your writing matters. And that’s what I desire. For someone to read my book and think: it matters that I’m reading this or I’m not wasting my time reading this book.

I do the same thing.

If you checked out the link on ESPER, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for God, family, friends, shelter, and the opportunity to eat. What are you thankful for? :-)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loving My Side Characters (Don’t Neglect Us!)

Every hero needs an awesome sidekick

The COT universe has many side characters so I have to take special care of this bunch. I have main side characters and minor side characters. The main side characters pack a pretty heavy punch to the flow of events in the story and heavily influence the direction my three lovely MCs take. Sometimes it’s easy to neglect side characters when you’re focused on making the MCs the coolest and realest people on this side of the imaginary world. Therefore, it’s only fair that that I surround my MCs with a fascinating and sometimes twisted bunch of supporting characters.

Zackaria, Ryker, and Meliz share three best friends that make the siblings bizarre, confusing life so much easier. First, there’s Ezekial Rushil Battacharjee, aka Zeke, who is half-Indian (father), half-Jewish (mother). He is also Zackaria’s boyfriend. Tall, athletic, kind, possessing gorgeous green eyes speckled with red, it’s no surprise that the 16-year-old junior at Caber Daley Academy (the private school they all attend) has a strong band of followers and admirers. His parents are big shot Hollywood screenwriters who write for award-winning dramas on prime time television. They travel constantly (alone), leaving Zeke behind with the help and his thirteen-year-old bratty brother. He writes frequently, taking from his parents, and video records his friends whenever they hang out because he dreams of becoming a big time movie director a la vein of David Fincher. Zeke’s main problems are that his parents are getting a divorce, and he later discovers that his girlfriend, Zackaria, possesses some sort of freaky super human abilities. Who has a girlfriend who can possibly kill you before you blink? Zeik does.

Next is Zeke’s good childhood friend Faust Beckett. German born Faust is another wildly handsome junior at Caber Daley high school. Half-Black (father) and Half-Latino (mother), Faust has a reputation for being the class clown who takes no prisoners. His father is a punk rocker and his mother a poet. He has two older sisters in college—one is in Germany and the other England. Faust speaks fluent Spanish and German. He moved to the States at the age of nine and met Zeke shortly after in elementary school. Although he has the face piercings and tattoos of a punk, he doesn't want to go into music, but rather loves making graphic novels and comics. Faust is a talented artist and he and Zeke used to combine their creative energy to make comics that they would sell to their classmates. His main problem concerns his new girlfriend, Cielle Jeong, who happens to be the Kato siblings’ biggest pain in the ass. He loves Cielle, but she seems more preoccupied with his friends.

Their third friend is Fallon Nolan, the short but sweet Irish girl with the big, long curly mane of bright copper hair. Her tresses make her easily identifiable at Caber Daley. The junior is the daughter of a former-model-now-photographer (mother) for the nation’s top fashion magazines and a designer (father) who lives in Italy. Faust’s parents are divorced and she’s an only child. Her parents backgrounds have influenced her interests in fashion and photography. She runs a popular fashion blog whose high status has given her access to fashion shows in New York, Italy, and Paris. Her biggest problem right now is making a decision about whether to accept her father’s offer to study fashion in Italy and leave behind her dear friends. She cares a lot about Meliz and worries that her friend is sinking further into herself.

The Kato siblings' friends are two years older than they are but since the siblings have heightened intelligence, they take a mixture of the most advanced junior and senior classes at the school, sharing a few classes with their friends. The trio knows that they’re adopted and their adoptive parents (a Japanese couple who recently had a son—the trio’s newest sibling) revealed that the papers say the Kato siblings are fourteen-years-old. 

Anyway, Zackaria, Ryker and Meliz love their friends to death because these three are the only true friends they’ve ever had. Past attempts at friendship often failed because of rumors and fears circulating around Zackaria and an incident involving the serious injury of three students. That event belongs to the story only, however. Haha. Hope you enjoyed reading about some of my three main side characters.

Question: How do you take care of your side characters? 

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ryker and Cloud Atlas

Before I start I want to let you know that I’m writing from the Boston Public Library right on Copley Station. If you ever have a chance to visit Boston City, I highly recommend visiting this amazing public space. I posted some pictures!

The Boston Public Library

The Trinity Church across from BPL

John Hancock Building

Old South Church

SO! Reworking the opening scene with Ryker had not been as bad as I thought it would be. His personality burst through quite easily and I found myself very loosely basing his character on a friend of mine. Zackaria and Meliz responded well to him as well. In this scene, Ryker is the troublemaker that the girls have to give extra attention to or else he will kill himself unintentionally.

COT opens up with the Kato siblings engaged in a high risk activity because they all share a love for thrills now and then, not just Ryker. Ryker's problem is that he likes taking it several notches higher above the girls' comfort levels, which is exactly what happens in this scene. He performs a variety of stunts that flame the ire of his sisters, especially Zackaria. A mistake or rather freaky malfunction sends him plummeting to his death and Z desperately tries to save him.

Ryker's reaction to facing death was different than that of Chrisa's. While Chrisa screamed everything her life was worth, crying to Z to do everything she could to save her, Ryker told Z to stay away because she might be pulled into death with him. He accepts his imminent demise. The precarious situation presents the siblings with a horrifying truth: there is no way to save Ryker. Unless of course a supernatural event takes, which is what happens, except this supernatural event can be explained through COT's pseudo-science, but the siblings don't know that yet. COT doesn't have magic; anything super that happens is a result of science. I'll explain more of COT's universe in a later entry. :)

I want to shift gears and talk a little bit about the movie Cloud Atlas I saw yesterday with my best friend from high school. We missed a good twenty minutes of the movie's beginning because we were late. We didn't mind since the movie was 2 hours and 44 minutes long.

However, jumping in that point of the movie, we were confused by the multiple story lines taking place in six different eras, along with the same actors playing different people. Thankfully, I read a bit about the structure of the movie so I wasn't totally baffled but my friend was so I offered as much insight as I could without spoiling it. The most difficult part of the movie for me was the post-apocalyptic vernacular. I wish they had given us subtitles because although they spoke English, the accent and broken English made it almost a foreign language to me.

Overall, the movie had a grand, ambitious plot and delivered scenes, visually speaking, I would never forget (One scene made my stomach turn inside out; you'll know if you catch the movie). Other lines and scenes even got laughs out of my friend and me. I liked the whole Buddhist vibe of a character forever living from one life to another and so on; how all our lives are connected; and how our actions, however simple they may be, rippled through and across time and people. The movie collects itself rather nicely toward the end, making better sense. I found myself caring more for the characters and feeling satisfied once it finished. After some cautious pause, I decided it was a good, rather interesting movie that made me think. I’m not surprised the Wachowski siblings made it. This is just their kind of stuff. Haha

Well that’s all for today.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Good-bye Chrisa; Hello Ryker. Why Change is Good.

HI :)

I mentioned in my previous post that I had made a big change to COT. This single change means I'll have to do more work. Now, why on earth would I do something that would result in more hard work for me? Because it's refreshing, new, and just what COT needs to push it over the edge, and I'll admit, be more marketable. It's one of those executive decisions that I struggled with for a bit but ultimately decided was for the best. Now, I'm really excited about how this change can transform my book.

So what big change did I make? If you're not familiar with COT, it tells the sci-fi story of three adopted sisters who possess a terrifying secret that can not only destroy their world, but their minds as well. The girls live in a universe of intergalactic antagonists, beautiful but conniving dictators, former killers turned scientists, assassins, and more. The MCs' names are Zackaria, Meliz and Chrisa, and they each have their own quirk that makes them unique. Zackaria possesses a deadly temper that matches her bossy character; Meliz is an aloof, cold girl who is also intelligently manipulative; and Chrisa is a borderline suicidal thrill seeker. I love these girls. I've known them for seventeen years'; they're my daughters.

HOWEVER…dum dum dum…I've decided to release Chrisa into oblivion to have her become Ryker, a boy who embraces her thrill seeker personality except his will be two notches above hers. Their problems will be different as well. Chrisa suffered from the lack of normalcy and honesty in her life because of the bizarreness suffocating her. Ryker's problems are that he can't experience happiness despite this thrill seeker ways, along with the bizarreness of his life. They both are super cheerful on the outside, but deeply sad on the inside.

So, COT will no longer be about three sisters, but three siblings, Zackaria, Ryker, and Meliz. I think Ryker's personality will serve as a good counterbalance to Zackaria. As the leader of the group, Zackaria's  character often overshadowed that of her sisters. She will still remain the leader of this new group, but Ryker will add a new dynamic that equals things out. Meliz has always been withdrawn so I feel her character will also benefit from Ryker's appearance. She has two super hot-headed siblings, and is now more than ever their voice of reason and calmness.

It's very hard to say good-bye to Chrisa, but I know she will live on in Ryker. And now you understand what I meant about all the work I'll have to do. I'll need to rework all the scenes involving Chrisa and make sure that the character encompasses Ryker's personality and not just left over bits of Chrisa. It will be a challenge, but one that I embrace and ready for. Change is good.

thanks for reading,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Resuscitation is in Order!

HI :)

Never thought I'd update this blog, did you? It took more than a year, but I am back. This time I've dropped the pseudo-name Sammy Suzuhara. Call me CS. Severe is my real last name and I haven't given it enough credit for its radness. I am still working on Children of Tokua, the new name of this blog. This book has haunted me for seventeen years and finally, finally---no, I really mean it this time-- FINALLY, I am going to produce a finished product. I've made some serious changes that has revitalized the book, along with my interest in writing it.

Before I give you any details of what those major changes are, I want to share with you one essential process that I had to undergo to finish COT. Desire and motivation are very important when writing a book, without them, the thing never gets done. And this is true about any major project in our lives. I've been focused these past few weeks on raising my self-consciousness and performing some deep introspection. I had many obstacles to writing COT but I never dived deep into figuring out what they were. I assumed I was a chronic procrastinator, lazy, not disciplined, etc. And then sometime last week, I haphazardly visited this website called Personal Excellence after listening to a list of inspirational music which I arrived at through listening to Susan Boyle's rendition "I Dreamed a Dream" (Can't get enough of that song! Yes, I know it's a depressing song but it nonetheless inspires me, haha). I highly recommend the Personal Excellence website because it pretty much helped change my attitude toward COT.

I decided to read one of the articles on procrastination and did a self-introspection exercise to understand more deeply why I wasn't actively writing COT. My initial free writing produced some common answers such as: "I'm bored with the book. Hate seeing the same thing repeatedly. I'm lazy. Other things in life are getting in the way. Not enough time to truly write. I don't have enough discipline." I then steadily wrote things like: "I'm afraid of rejection. I'm afraid people will hate my book. I don't think I'm a great writer. I won't get anyone to represent the book. My writing isn't as great as I would want it to be." These were the real reasons why I wasn't finishing COT! In other words, I finally admitted to myself that I DIDN'T think I was a great enough writer for the book. This self-defeating thought and belief strangled my writing. I decided at that moment that I would no longer succumb to it. Taking this action breathed new life in my desire and motivation to write. I want to be a published author. I can clearly imagine myself as published author. I love the story of COT. I love the characters. They are my babies! I can't reject them just because of my own limiting thoughts.

So, I liberated myself from such negative thinking and instead embraced my capacity to write a story my heart desired.

And on the note of discipline, I realized from Personal Excellence, I didn't need discipline to write COT. Discipline is getting something you don't like doing done. I love COT so it should not feel like I'm having an uphill struggle writing it. Attitude is so important. Well, folks, that's all for now. I'll let you know how changed COT in my next post!

thanks for reading,