Writer friends…how do you decide what tense to write in?

past to present

My natural state of writing is past tense. It’s what I’ve written all of my books in.

I’ve been working with a writing professional on really nailing my first chapter in one of my manuscripts. She suggested I consider re-writing it from past tense to present tense.

home aloneYeah, it really scares me. But…I have noticed that most YA in particular is written in present tense. Really, the only one I’ve read relatively recently that is written in past tense is Eleanor & Park. I’m not opposed to re-writing in present, or even the amount of work it might take, but what a brain shift that would be.

mind blowSo my question is this…writer friends how do you decide what tense to write in? Do you tend to prefer a tense or a particular POV?

On being the token yank: More American than apple pie


So I’ve been waiting all year for the item featured below to reappear in Cold Storage, a grocery store that carries lots of Western food. Then found out that select ones have had it all along, haha. Anyway, it FINALLY happened.

photo-15I was so, so excited. The price was a bit scary–like $6 a can. My lovely little sister just had to point out that she bought a can for $.88…. Us expats always get excited when our things randomly appear in stores. Besides canned pumpkin, my most recent happy discovery was Peanut Butter Captain Crunch.

So I’ve been baking lots of pumpkin things lol.

photo-16 (2)(Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. The one English friend who had the privaledge of trying them was a bit surprised by the mix of ginger and chocolate but liked it with “a bit of tea.”)

Non-American friends, the traditional way my family prepares it is to buy a can of pureed pumpkin, mix in two eggs, sugar, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and condensed milk, then pour it into a pie crust. Super easy. I’ve never made the pumpkin part from an actual pumpkin, but I’ve heard it takes, um, skill. You use a pie pumpkin, which is smaller than the kind we Muricans like to carve.

969158_10100356824633105_1454008998_n(No, I did not carve this one in Singapore. Not only would it rot in like three hours, carving pumpkins cost more than $20 last year…)

(North) American friends, you may not realize this, but we are pretty much the only ones that eat pumpkin pie or pumpkin desserts really. Non-Americans have heard of pumpkin pie in relation to Thanksgiving, a few may have tried it, but it’s not really a thing outside the US. One of my American expat friends used to live in London and she had a really tough time even finding pumpkin pie mix. To get to the bottom of North America’s general ownership of all things pumpkin, I googled “why do Americans eat pumpkin pie”. Apparently pumpkin is native to North America. Obviously, they finish growing around October/harvest time, which is why we eat these pies in the fall/winter. (Perhaps while watching NFL football haha) It didn’t become associated with Thanksgiving until the 1800’s.

So yesterday I made a pumpkin pie for my British friends. I even went out and bought the canned spray whip cream stuff–“dessert topping” with Chinese writing all over it but allegedly made in the good ol’ USA. It tasted fine, despite the general sketchiness of the whole thing.

So back to my friends. Once they figured out how to operate the “dessert topping” can (which apparently has a different spraying mechanism than in the UK), the pumpkin pie was a big hit. Or at least they said it was to make me feel good, lol. One friend suggested having it with a bit of tea (again) :P

Bonus additional “more American than apple pie” food item: S’Mores. Yup. American. Made those for a few of my friends, too. They did not approve of using Hershey’s chocolate, but really it’s the only one that works. You have to have thin chocolate! So I think the pumpkin pie was better received.

…and all my friends back home are posting pictures of their seasonal pumpkin ales and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Jealous. We Americans love our pumpkin.

So pumpkin pie, more American than apple pie because apples grow e’erwhere. Pumpkins are our thang. :P.

Non-writers just don’t understand: The pain of having to sit on your hands while others work on your WIP

cnpcqYup. So I’ve got two works in progress right now, in case you haven’t read some of my previous blog entries. Hooligans is set in Northern Ireland, that one’s pretty much done and dusted…apart from the first chapter intervention I’ve got someone helping me with. The second, tentatively called Rafa & Rose, is set in rural Wisconsin. I just sent fifty pages to my co-author, whose job is to A) add Spanish language and Mexican culture references for Rafa’s POV chapters and help write family dynamics B) help me with everything else, from capturing awkward teenage puppy love to describing high school life (ranging from Homecoming competitions to English Lit curriculum :P ).

homecomingAs a full-time, unpaid writer, WHAT DO I DO with myself while I wait? Hooligans I really just need that first chapter. Once that’s on lockdown, I’m querying. Rafa & Rose…I really can’t proceed until I get my good, great friend Ana’s feedback. We have to plan a turning point scene that’s of critical importance. Nothing I can do with that one. Which means I’m stuck on both my manuscripts. Non-writers be like read a book or watch a movie or something like normal people do. But my brain is still in the writing zone, you know that creative buzz that fuels all your best writing. The writer’s high, as I call it. I feel it in my brain, but I can’t use it!  It’s driving me crazy!

tumblr_inline_mqbuizV6Sb1qz4rgp“Hi, my name is SJC and I’m an (writing) addict….”

Hmm maybe I should paint. Rafa & Rose does feature a Homecoming window painting competition. My MCs get forced to work on it together and that’s what starts their relationship. I could try to recreate their painting…. Though I don’t know if I have the skill haha. Or I could bust out my first novel, the one I made fun of on my blog a few weeks back. I actually have a later draft that’s much better…

Writer friends, whether it’s at the editor’s or with a critique partner or you’re just stuck, what do you do when you can’t work on your MS? Do you ever feel like this? (or am I the weird writer here :P )

Non-Writers Just Don’t Understand: The brain gymnastics it takes to work on two completely different manuscripts at once

ci6co(side note: it’s kind of sad how long I spent finding the image for this meme. Time that could have been spend working on said manuscripts)

Both of my manuscripts are first person POV, with two characters each. So here’s me, trying to edit a story set in Northern Ireland with a character from Belfast like basically. Then switchin’ to a WIP set in rural Wisconsin starring a girl from a poor, white trashy background and a Latino boy. For Chrissake, it’s mental gymnastics, so it is! Crap, why do I do this to myself? This is kind of what it’s doing to my brain.

bunny-catapult¡Gracias a Dios! for my Latina co-writer, who’s handling language and culture for the Wisconsin WIP, but I still have to get myself into the head of Latino boy fighting to overcome racism and all kinds of barriers to get to college. Which is a wee bit different from my Belfast paramilitary hooligan with a heart of gold.

The girls are a bit easier at least, as their brains are more in line with my own. But still, I’ve got a highly motivated, straight-laced girl who’s involved at school contrasted with an underachieving loner in an unhealthy relationship with a scrubby older guy and a meth head mother. So there’s that. At least the setting for the Wisconsin one is easy for me and fun to explore from Singapore. Though I did have to face down a few inner baddies… And slay them :D

622788__safe_twilight+sparkle_animated_screencap_princess+twilight_magic_hub+logo_flying_angry_fightI love both my manuscripts. Life will be easier when i finally finalize Hooligans (it is SO close, I swear), and I’ll have Rafa & Rose to focus on while I query.

Have you ever found yourself working on two completely different manuscripts at once? What was that experience like?

Writer friends, where do you like to write when you cannot sit at your desk/table/couch/bed/wherever for one second longer without losing your brain??

i heart writingSo I spend a lot of time with at my dining room table typing away. Thank God for my understanding husband that doesn’t get too bothered by all my writing crap spread all over it. Here’s my view…

photo-14 (2)It’s not a bad view by any means, but after you know like 8+ hours a day, everyday, writing, I start to feel like this….

Dexter-GIFs-14(I love you Dexter and I miss you. Maybe I should read the books….)

Yeah, sometimes I absolutely need a change of scenery or I just might lose it lol. It’s amazing how just the bus ride over can refresh my brain, the forced break from writing. Plus I can people watch. Lately, I’ve been spying on young couples engaging in PDA on the bus.

Peeking 2NOT BEING CREEPY I swear!!! Just looking to incorporate more body language into my teen lovey WIP.

Anyway, being in a new setting shifts my mental state and gives me a creative boost. It refreshes me so I can keep going. Sometimes I meet with other writer friends and we write together, hopefully without too much chatting. I’ve found a few coffee shops in Singapore that have become my go-to escape from my dining room table. One even knows my order! Yay! It’s Blue Orange Mocha, which tastes like those chocolate orange things wrapped in orange foil that you can get a Christmas in the U.S.. It is kind of amazing.

Do you have a favorite place to escape and write in when your brain’s about to leak out of your ears? What about it helps you write?

My English friend just took the piss out of the NFL so hilariously I can’t even….


(I’m blue text bubbles, he’s gray)

So my husband and I have been teaching our English friend the ways of NFL Fantasy Football, which is apparently is much more complicated than like English Premiere League Fantasy Football. He’s come a long way since he auto-drafted, after which I sat him down and said, “Friend, you don’t need four defenses and two kickers.” That Englishman is 3-0! I should really stop helping him, especially since I’m 0-3 :(….


I feel like a disgrace to America. And the Packers lost last week, so it was a rough, rough week for SJC in the world of football. But my good, good English friend sent me this to cheer me up, which really does help a lot (though I hope it wasn’t a serious injury, I am a nice person, I swear).

JadedNaiveAndeancockoftherockSo anyway, this Facebook message exchange was prompted by my reminder to check his line-up since regular season Bye weeks start this week. Please excuse my ignorance about the actual reason for Bye weeks, lol, I googled it and apparently it’s done to extend the regular season. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

It was just so hilarious, I had to share. It’s so fun teaching our friend the very, very complicated ways of the NFL.