Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover


I used to buy every New Adult novel to come out on the shelves but I quickly lost interest. There were a variety of reasons. I didn't agree with a lot of elements pushed in that genre. A lot of the stories read the same to me. There was too much focus on writing sex.

This is first New Adult book I've loved in a long time.

I've read Colleen Hoover's earlier books but I haven't picked up a new one from her in a while. Then this book came out and there was just such an outpouring of 'must-read-this' persistence in the book world that I had to do it. I knew it was going to be a heavy read based on reviews so it wasn't something I wanted to squeeze in between work and my house chores. I planned to read it on my Christmas break and I avoided spoiler reviews to make sure I go into it with an open mind.

This isn't a simple love story. Yes, love is in the book. In fact, you will meet several different people who will show you that there is no simple, straightforward way to love.

But romance is not the core message of the book. It's so much more.

This book is what NA should really be—a discovery of one's self as life and the world and the people in it make themselves known to you in full measure, and the evolution that must follow after it.

Lily lived through a lot in this story, and not just in the past. Even in the end, you knew there was still so much she would have to live through but you were reassured that she had the strength to carry herself forward. Some of it was strength the past had taught her to have, and the rest of it was strength from what she had to learn for herself in the present. I was proud of her when the story was done. She wouldn't be your kick-ass I'm-going-to-win-over-the-world kind of heroine but she's one that many of us can relate to. One who dreamed and hoped for the best and marshalled through the worst.

She wasn't just one main thing. There were so many layers and dimensions to her. She was naive but honest, sweet and funny but also fiercely protective and realistic when she had to be. She had compassion and understanding even in circumstances when no one would fault her for not feeling either. She didn't have the answer to everything a lot of times and I didn't think less of her because of that because isn't that us most of the time in real life? I love how Hoover was able to really sink us into Lily's psyche so much that we were spared none of everything she went through—the good, the bad, the ugly.

I won't spoil this book for anyone but I'll agree with everyone else out there who is telling you to read this. There's a lot to learn from this book. If anything, it'll let you see the grays that fill many pictures—the kind we don't see unless we're in one of them. Because as I strive to show in my own writing, there is not a lot of black and white. It's easy to speak to a black and white scenario—to categorize your answers and would-be-actions in two columns without being confused or torn. No matter the similarities, every situation is different and the people who are in the heart of it are different. Which is why there is no one-size-fits-all rule for loving someone.

I hope you give this book a try. And I hope you tell others to do the same because it's a story that more people need to read and learn from.

*image from Goodreads


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On Writing in 2016

Writing was a major part of this year for me.

It's a year when I really understood that this wasn't just a simple hobby anymore. I've found opportunities through it. I've made friends and seen places because of it. It's now something that I'm going to do my best to continue because while I'm not expecting miracles here, I know that I have readers somewhere out there enjoying every scene, loving every character and getting inspired with every story. And maybe that can be enough.

This year also brought on a lot of choices and changes for my writing.

Here are five of them:

  • Outline.  This is usually easier said than done but this has become such a critical part of my writing routine now. I start out with something pretty general in the beginning and as I write chapter after chapter, I streamline it. Towards the end, I'll write down all the scenes that definitely need to be included. This allows me to anticipate how much more will need to be written and when I'll be done. This way, I can tease my readers and build the lead up to the finale.
  • Waste no idea. I try to focus on one story but whenever an idea comes in, I take the ten or fifteen minutes I'll need to capture that idea along with whatever scenes or dialogue I come up with. I may let it sit for months or years but some of the stories I've recently come up with are from ideas I'd long ago written down. You just never know which one might turn into something.
  • Pre-write and stick to the schedule. With Wattpad's serialized method of posting stories, it's a good idea to have a schedule you can stick to. I get it—writers are creative people—but it's quite different when you have an audience that's trying to follow your story as you write it. I try now not to post a half-cooked story. I'll commit to writing a story that has a pretty completed plot in my head even if it's still quite general. At least I know that it's going to go somewhere. I also try to write a few chapters ahead, that way I'll always have content even when something comes up in the week or if I have to travel. My usual goal is to finish one chapter with each new one I post every week. I owe this to my readers. They're quite understanding but I try not to test their patience. You give them stories they love. They, in turn, support you.
  • Write what's necessary. Don't just fill a blank page. I'm notorious for my long stories but in the past year, I've tried to be more conscious about my word count. Sure, you can trim a story later but that can be painful especially when you've already invested time and brain power to write those scenes out. Also, reading other books and looking back on my own stories, I'm starting to see where I could've been simpler and more straightforward. So now, I just write what's necessary to the scene. Sure, I still try to capture what I can of emotions and general details but I try not to go on and on about something. I surprised myself with my current story. I thought, with the timeline, that I'd have way too many chapters but I don't. I picked my battles with which part of the story to tell. It'll serve you and your readers in the long run.
  • Take it easy on yourself. I can get something written under pressure and sometimes, it even turns out great. But I'm writing on the side and trying not to burn out. While I have a deadline every week both to finish a chapter and post one (these are often not the same), there are times when I just can't sit down and write anymore. Times when I have to live my life a little. So I walk away and do what I need to do for myself. The last thing I want is to resent writing so whenever I feel like I need a break, I try to listen to myself and take small doses of it here and there. That's better than burning out and needing to take a year off.

I hope these things help out other writers out there.

I look forward to even better writing habits in 2017 but these ones are probably going to stay with me long after this year is over.

*images from Pinterest


Sunday, October 23, 2016

#ladylike with H&M

It should be no secret to anyone who's followed me for some time that I love fall.

I love the cool weather, the rich colors, the dramatic makeup, the fashion.

So it was only appropriate that I jumped all over the opportunity to write a bonus chapter for The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield in collaboration with H&M that not only featured Charlotte being the embodiment of ladylike's modern definition but also some creative ideas on how to dress her for her first day in college.

So some of you may ask, what does it mean to be #ladylike nowadays?

My take on it is simple.

Being ladylike celebrates what every woman should be—smart and independent with a voice she knows how to use and with the confidence to embrace all her curves and edges.

This campaign wasn't around yet when I wrote Charlotte but I love how it defined her perfectly. Whether she's in pearls and pastels or jeans and sneaker, she's a woman who knows her worth.

My bonus chapter is in The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield book as well but you can find it in H&M's campaign below.


Writing Online Fiction with Wattpaders

The fact that there's so much we can learn through online classes and tutorials now makes me so happy.

When I was first started writing stories, I went with gut instinct and what I was familiar with from books I've read and loved. That was a lot of trial and error over the years and while I would say that it still works, there are some much easier ways nowadays.

So many people in the Wattpad community are always reaching out to me asking for advice and coaching on their writing and while I wish I could dedicate time to help out specific people, that's not always realistic so I was thrilled when Wattpad partnered with Skillshare to create some free online writing classes with some of the writers on the site.

The three ladies I'm with on the list are all extremely talented so I'm pretty proud to be in their company.

Click here to check out the classes from our group and see if it can help spark your writing!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Summer Storm

Just like any writer, I love a good story—whether it's in books or film... or both.

That's the case with The Light Between Oceans.

It started with M.L. Stedman's international bestseller which is now coming to the big screen with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander who are two of my current favorite actors.

I'm always drawn to the idea that love holds immense power over us. A power so strong it can lead us to make life-altering choices that will steer our fates.

In a collaborative project with Wattpad and The Light Between Oceans production, I wrote a story that explored that idea of love and the kind of choices it compels us to make sometimes.

A Summer Storm is a short, bittersweet romance—one that could've tuned the way the cliche typically would after you've read the first part. But I'm incredibly proud that despite the difficult and painful choices my characters make, they eventually choose the light.

The story is in the profile page of The Light Between Oceans in Wattpad.

The movie is coming out in theatres September 2, 2016.

I think I'm ready to be put through an emotional roller coaster just like my readers are when they read or watch something like this story...

Images from wattpad and imdb respectively


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Influencing at the Banff World Media Festival 2016

It's been almost a month since I had the amazing opportunity to sit on the panel for Wattpad at the Banff World Media Festival 2016. 

I was there with LD Crichton, a fellow Wattpad Star, and the head of Wattpad Studios, Aron Levitz. We were joined by Justin Williams from Turner Broadcasting and Damon Berger from Fullscreen. 

The morning of our panel, Wattpad made the headlines by partnering with Turner for a collaboration on the anticipated M. Night Shyamalan's Tales From The Crypt. It was a blazing sign of just how much influencers have penetrated the traditional entertainment models and this concept was reinforced over and over again through other panels in the festival.

The message is clear and simple: Influencers know their audience and that knowledge and rapport can open so many other doors that traditional media wouldn't normally have access to. 

There were a lot of great conversations during the festival with different industry people. It really opened my eyes to the inner workings of something so simple as your favorite primetime TV show or your mindless YouTube channel surfing. In the big picture, the audience is the pinnacle which we all aspire to reach and with the continuing shift in entertainment habits and growing accessibility to content whenever and wherever, the battlefield is starting to look different. The rules of the game are changing and strategy has to follow.

Overall, it was a lot of fun to be there both as an influencer and a spectator myself.  I look forward to what the new ideas and fresh perspectives will bring to the market. 

Building new bridges between industry giants and influencers

 Influencer content is largely due to audience feedback and it's as intimate a feedback as you can get which makes it solid gold.

Banff is just so lovely.

If there weren't panels, there were parties.

 Despite the hectic schedule, we managed to pose and snap pics. Brought my Macbook with me because there's no rest for the writer. 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Writing Workshop Session #1: A Writer's Voice

Just because it's in words doesn't mean it has no voice.

In a medium where the artistry is reflected in a vast collection of mostly plain words creatively strung together, it can be a challenge to make what you write stand out and seize a reader's attention.

This is where your Writing Voice can make or break your story.

Why is it important?

Your voice is your brand. Whether you're writing for yourself or for clients, it distinguishes your style and delivers consistent content to your readers.

Your style is often an indicator of what you're passionate about. Passion intensifies the quality of your output, brings a little bit of literary magic and gives you the stamina to not only start a story but also finish it.

Nothing sticks better than a consistent message or style. It's also what builds your readership. There should be something unique about your writing that they like, that they look for and somewhat expect in your story. Build a brand they can rely on to deliver a consistent quality of work.

What is my Writing Voice?

There is no exact answer to this because it's often a combination of many elements, most of them coming from reader feedback. As a creative, it's tough to listen to criticism but to see your work through a different set of eyes can really give you perspective you may not normally have. So ask for feedback whenever you can.

Below are some guide questions you can ask yourself to get to know your brand of writing:

  • What stories do you enjoy reading about? 
  • What are the top three things you get positive reader feedback on technique and style-wise?
  • What are your stories known for, whether it's good or bad?

What now?

Just like in any good relationship, the process continues even after getting to know each other. It's the same with writing. You may already have a very solid idea about your style of writing or not have written enough to come to a conclusion. Either way, here are some quick tips to build the momentum from here on.

  • Allow yourself to start a new story without too many parameters. Start with whatever creative trigger you have—a character name, a story title, a scene, an idea or a dialogue line. Something must've been compelling enough about it to make you want to seek out a pen and paper. You can take that trigger and map out a Creative Brief to whichever direction your inspiration points you to next. 
  • Write it down now and save it for later. Stories don't always come to us in a neatly-wrapped package. Sometimes, you don't have enough to take the idea and turn it into a full-fledged story. You don't always have to. Write it out with as much detail as your super-charged inspiration allows you to in that moment of pure creative rush. Use the Creative Brief to package the idea into something a little easier to use later on. Check your stack of ideas every now and then in case an old idea grabs on to you and gives you more to work with this time around.
  • Build the characters piece by piece. If you have trouble figuring out their personalities or character type, write them lines you imagine them saying or actions you imagine them doing. Sometimes, these can reveal more about your character than a simple laundry list of attributes.
Writing is a very personal thing but I hope the tips above help. 

Watch my free Skillshare class for a more in-depth discussion on Writing Voice. It's a powerful tool for a writer if you know how to use it well.

Till the next session!

Images other than the first one are property of their respective owners


Writing Workshop Sessions Start Now

I've withheld formal writing advice for so long thinking I wasn't an authority on it because I had no published book or writing awards to my name. But after writing on Wattpad for a few years now, I've learned a thing or two about writing in an even more challenging platform where your art is at the immediate mercy of millions of readers from all around the world. It's easy to get lost in its vast sea of writers and stories simply due to the sheer size of the community's population. Managing to steadily grow my readership and finding golden opportunities to partner up with brands despite all those challenges convinced me that I was doing something right and that I probably should share it with others.

I don't claim to be an expert by any means. This is one aspiring writer's advice to another.

It's free and hopefully, helpful.

So take what you can out of these Writing Workshop Sessions I'll be doing with a grain of salt and start telling your stories.

Image from Pinterest

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Free Skillshare Class is now live!

Hello everyone!

Today's a big day because my free class with Skillshare launched.

It's a short, fun class on your creative voice and how to use structure in organizing your story.

I really hope you check it out and learn something from it because whatever stage your writing may be, these tips apply.

I'll start posting some writing tips on my blog here soon for those who are always reaching out to me for writing advice. There will be more of that coming.

For now, enjoy this class! Find it here: http://skl.sh/ninya


Friday, June 3, 2016

Wattpad Stars Invade the WP Headquarters

I didn't really quite know what I was signing up for when I received the invite to tour the Wattpad HQ in Toronto but I knew it was something I couldn't possibly miss.

Clockwise: 1) HQ rooftop with everyone still recovering from their travels; 2) 'Nuff said. 3) Toronto has some of the best graffiti I've seen; 4) Wind-blown but happy at the top of CN Tower. 

 In my mind, I was coming for two things: 1) Meet the amazing team I've been working with the past couple years and 2) Get to know other Wattpad writers who know what it's like.

Clockwise: 1) Farewell dinner at Hawker Bar; 2) CN Tower during lunch 3) Farewell dinner again; 4) Family picture; 5) Farewell dinner again

There were maybe about sixteen of us, mostly from US and Canada and a couple others from the UK. It was as diverse a group of genre writers as you could imagine—contemporary young adult, teen fiction, horror, fan fiction, romance, sci-fi, and fantasy, to name a few. And while many of us have never seen or talked to each other our entire lives before, the love for stories and the Wattpad experience brought us a bond we never expected. This might sound cheesy but for me, it was a precious opportunity because I don't know any other writer present in some immediate, relevant manner in my life right now. My husband is an awesome cheerleader (*except he can't dance and I'm not so sure about those short shorts) but it's different talking to other people who, like you, have stories, characters and dialogues swirling in their heads all the time. They had stories and experiences that some of us have learned immensely from, especially in being in a unique platform like Wattpad.

Clockwise: 1) At the Blue Jays vs Red Sox game; 2) Still enjoying the baseball game; 3) Oops, a double; 4) Amazing tour of the Trinity Bellwoods Park by none other than Aron Levitz; 5) The WP stars at HQ's kitchen/dining area

I was also pretty pumped about meeting Anna Todd. Took me the whole weekend to work up the courage to ask for a picture. But she was so sweet and we really learned a lot from her—from handling criticisms, appreciating the readers and fans, writing what you love and so much more. Despite her success, she was very down-to-earth and had a smile for everyone.

Clockwise: 1) The whole gang; 2) Finally, fan-girling over Anna Todd and snapping a pic with her; 3) Will never drink this Coke; 4) I need this clock in my life

We didn't just hang out at WP's HQ, which, by the way, is probably the coolest and funnest office I've ever been in. There was the book-signing for the writers who participated in the Imagines anthology. It was a weird experience for me, in a good way. I'm usually very shy when it comes to book-signings. I would never approach an author. I would hang back and creep around. But there, I was so excited for the other Wattpad Stars as it was their first book signing. There was a huge line-up of fans waiting and it was so sweet to see the interactions, the shy nudges here and there between friends, parents and kids, trying to encourage each other to muster the guts to ask for a picture. I never saw it from that perspective but I was glad I was able to. It cured me of my nerves, that's for sure.

Clockwise: 1) Fans excited to get those autographs; 2) The Imagines squad led by Kfan; 3)Fans of the Imagines anthology lining up for signatures with the Stars

There was also the Wattpad Stars AMA (Ask Me Anything). I honestly thought it would go on for much longer but that hour was still a lot of fun for us. Watch it here.

L-R: 1) CN Tower; 2) TMMM on one of the leaves running down the front staircase; 3) Cupcakes to celebrate the birthdays of a couple of Stars; 4) Best pierogies ever

We went out for a little sight-seeing around downtown Toronto, went to the obligatory Blue Jays game (and they won, yes! and apparently there was a streaker), and walked around Trinity Bellwoods Park. It was just plain good times with such a vibrant, creative group.

L-R: 1) Rogers Centre/SkyDome and CN Tower; 2) View from the CN Tower; 3) My knees were getting wobbly in the five seconds it took me to do this shot and I only had my foot out

We were all sad to say goodbye but it wasn't really farewell. For many of us, it's the start of new friendships and a march into the future that's bright and brimming with stories still to be told.

Team pic with Caitlin (our WP fairy godmother), the wonderful Ashleigh, the goofy Aron, and Allan Lau and Ivan Yuen who founded the company. 

The WP Stars gang who came to Toronto:


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review: Dirty by Kylie Scott


I'm a big fan of Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series. I haven't finished Ben's book though. Something happened somewhere in the middle of it that just didn't motivate me to keep going. Eventually, I'll finish it but even if that fourth book didn't quite do it for me, I'm still a fan of the series, the characters and the writing. Scott is one of the best voices of New Adult out there—upbeat, blunt and funny. 

There are no famous rock stars in this new book (well, there might be but this books' not about them) and I would almost say that the whole scene's been a bit scaled down. We're not out in the spotlight like we were in the first series but music is still definitely a huge part of it. This is a bit more about average people falling in love which can be refreshing in a sea of books about rock stars and CEOs. But just because they're more regular Joes doesn't mean the male lead isn't as hot as hell. And like most of Scott's heroines, Lydia isn't physically perfect but has the attitude and smarts to make her irresistible. This is one of the things that I adore about her works.

I'm not going to spoil too much of the story but Lydia and Vaughn's fast friendship quickly turns into more and not before long, they find themselves questioning the decisions they'd made before they met and the dreams they'd dreamed without each other. They're two people in very shitty times in their lives, both struggling for something, both insisting they don't need more than what they're settling with. 

I enjoyed this story a lot. I read it during the flights to and from New York last month. The fact that I didn't finish this in one sitting signifies that I wasn't as obsessed with it as I was with the first three Stage Dive books but it was still a good, sexy, funny read and I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the series.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Never Forgetting New York City

I've always told myself that the first place I'd ever visit outside of the Philippines would be New York City.

Of course, that didn't happen because I first moved to Canada but nonetheless, it's always been on my bucket list.

It's hard not to be fascinated with the iconic city when you see so much of it in your beloved books, movies and TV shows. It's not just a place—it's a culture, a sense of identity, a catch in time where the old and new mix merrily, a world with its own beat.

I was lucky enough to have gotten the opportunity to visit with my hubby tagging along.

I'd already made him promise we'd go to New York when I hit the big 3-0 but since the opportunity came up, we thought we'd speed up the timeline just a little bit.

We only had a handful days there but we did our best to see and experience as much as we physically could. From pounding the pavement as we walked block after block to taking the subway everywhere and keeping pace with the hardworking locals, we tried to get a real feel of what it's like living in a place many people only dream about.

I would go back in a heartbeat because there's still so much to experience but even if the next opportunity isn't coming around anytime soon, I'm still happy we got to go.

Just as promised, New York City is unforgettable.

Its memories live in my heart forever.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Home of a Heart on AZN Modern

In case you guys missed it, check out this article about The Home of a Heart.

That book is close to my heart because so much of it comes from my origins, my own life, my own love story.

To Filipino readers out there, check out its Tagalog version also in Wattpad.

Check out the article here!

The Home of a Heart at AZN Modern

Check out the story here!

The Home of a Heart on Wattpad


Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Barrage of Updates

Hello everyone!

I know it's been forever since I've been here, thanks to some domain issues I wasn't technical enough to sort through.

The year 2015 has come and gone so we'll just start over in this new year where there are so many other exciting things to come!

Before we do, here are just some highlights from last year that might be worth checking out.

1. The Mischievous Mrs. Maxfield on cosmopolitan.com

I was so thrilled to be featured at one of the most popular magazine sites in the planet.

Check it out through the link here: TMMM on Cosmo

2. A Year of Short Stories

I was excited to work with several brands last year, creating short stories that take readers into different worlds. I know I'm notorious for lengthy books but I was surprised to realize that I enjoyed writing short stories. I used to write them a lot in high school and college when I was writing for the school paper but it's been a long time. There's something about highlighting a certain arch in a story and capturing the essence of the tale in those few short chapters.

You can find them all through their links below!

At The Crossing inspired by the Nicholas Sparks's book and movie

Designs of Destiny inspired by the movie Age of Adaline

Pitching Happy inspired by the the Lays Wavy experience

The Home of a Heart inspired by the CIBC's efforts to bridge the financial needs of family and friends worldwide.
Kahit Nasaan Ka Man is its Tagalog version which had been fun to write!

3. New On-Going Story - When Stars Burn

I was so happy to have been able to start posting this story. Star is quite different from a lot of my female leads and her story reaches deeper into the shadows of our heart. I'm about halfway through this story and I hope to complete it by end of May.

Check it out through the link here: When Stars Burn

© Ninya Tippett. All rights reserved.