Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Won't Break Cover Reveal

The sequel to My Lea is here.
Well. Okay. Not really 'here' here yet because its release date is February 2nd, 2016, but the cover is here. Designed by the talented bertodesign.com

Heads out to Instagram for Cover Reveal Giveaway starting now until Nov 10. Find us using hashtag #IWontBreakCoverReveal

Find more about I Won't Break here.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MY LEA Review

This is probably the best review I've ever had *dances*

Click here for more of Cassandra's review

Amazon paperback

After nearly a year since I published the ebook version of MY LEA, I finally did its Amazon paperback version. Woot!

The process is not as scary as I thought it would be. I encountered a few minor problems which were resolved right away by the Createspace team. Phew!

MY LEA paperback is now available through Amazon. Go check it out :)


Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Dream, His Dream

This weekend, one of my close friends sent her eldest son off to college. She’s not the first one to do so among my friends and family, and surely there’s nothing out of ordinary in sending our kids to college, but hers is the first one that made me think and feel. 

My friend's dream was for her son to pursue a career in medicine, to become a doctor or something in this line of business. Her son wanted to be a pilot. He was accepted in both faculties, which made things more interesting, as well as difficult. 
To have a choice is a gift, to choose is a battle.

We’ve heard phrases like it’s their life, not yours more often than not. I’ve preached those words to others too. It’s easy to say them with only logic as the foundation of our thoughts; it’s not easy when our heart weighs in. It’s easy to dismiss the struggle when it happened to some strangers, it’s not so when it happened to a person we know, to a kid we know. 

I can so imagine, if it were my kids, I would have definitely argued with them about their choices, pestering and brainwashing them, because letting go of my dream I have for them is hard, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. I didn’t have this choice when I grew up, and as much as I vow not to take away those choices from my kids, I can’t shake this old-fashion parenting control off my brain. 
That’s why what my friend did for her son is admirable and so inspiring.

At the end, she and her husband support their son’s decision to join the pilot school. 

This is a HUGE deal. 
Not only our society has a tendency to think that becoming a doctor or a banker is more prestigious than any other careers, but for a parent who has a reservation to flying, my friend’s blessing speaks VOLUME.

In her one single sentence, “This is the time to let him go so that he can catch his dream” my friend has won three battles:        
  1.       It’s a day-to-day battle to let our children go and be an adult. It’s especially hard when what we want is not the same as what they want, because it’s not just our kid we need to let go, but also our dream we have for them. It’s a constant battle to trust their choices and respect their decision without judgment or harassment because our instinct to take over and protect them is so strong, it’s nearly impossible to just sit and watch and nod. 
  2.         It’s a real battle to overcome our own fear and reservation.
  3.         It’s a battle to accept and live our children’s dream as our own. It's the right thing to do, but it doesn't always come easy.

Which mother would not cry when her son said, “Please don’t cry. If God’s will is for me to become a pilot, then He will show me the way.” I can’t believe this was coming from an eighteen-year-old boy. I’m sure my friend’s tears have created another ocean in our planet no matter how many times her son told her not to cry.
      
    I’m so proud of my friend. Believe me, not everyone is strong enough to do what she does, passing those three battles in flying colors and with an open heart.
      
    I’m so proud of the boy, our future pilot, because not every kid is strong enough to know what they want and be able to stand there and comfort (not confront) his parents.

    Good luck, boy. This is no longer your dream you’re carrying, but the dream of many young people out there who, I hope, would see your choice in life as an inspiration. Your dream is also the dream of every mother and father (not just your parents) who has put aside their egos and wants so that their children can live theirs.

Monday, July 6, 2015

MY LEA paperback

I stil can't believe that the first printing batch that I did for fun and without any proper sales plan has SOLD OUT, and that I'm currently looking at the second printing edition of my book 🙆🙆.

Thank you so much, guys, for supporting Lea and Andrew. It means so much for a debut indie author like me. (It means the stars and the moon and the sun and everyhting else)

*takes a deep breath**

Okay. Here we go 😀.

For signed copies, please drop me an email at themellyberry@gmail.com

Thank youuuuu....

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't Copy, Don't Steal

Artists create. It's not just our job, it's who we are: authors write, performers perform, illustrators illustrate, painters paint, singers sing... it's who we are.

If you love our creation, thank you. You have given us the greatest joy ever.
If we manage to inspire you through our works, then it's a triple plus, a bonus. It's the thing that makes what we do worth it.

But please don't copy. It's not inspiration, it's stealing.
Don't copy, then claim it yours, and then sell it for money. It's worse than stealing.

We want you to be inspired, yes.
Be original, be loud, be brave.
Be yourself.
Don't steal other people’s work.
You are better than that.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

How To Survive Editing

Very simple.

1. Leave your ego at the door. As matter of fact, divorce your ego. Trust me. Your work will THANK YOU.

2. Break it up into parts. Don't count the red marks all at once. Unless you're a  masochist.

3. Whenever you feel like it is too much, always allow yourself to focus more on the good part of the editing (example in the picture).

4. Author is the creator. Author is the boss. We make the final decision. But we are not perfect; we make mistakes. That's why we need help from others to edit our work. I don't believe in self-editing. It's not a matter of "can or cannot", I'm pretty sure a lot of authors are capable of editing their own work. I just don't recommend it.

5. Always, and I mean always, treat yourself to something awesome and fancy once you've passed (and survived) the whole editing process! You earn it. Big time.


Picture is taken from "I WON'T BREAK" first draft, a My Lea sequel by e. mellyberry.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Thank You Diorama

When my 8-year-old wanted to give her teachers something as a thank-you gift, she didn't go for card or chocolates and flowers.

She made them dioramas "Thank You for Helping Me Grow."

The first one shows a green caterpillar that transforms herself into a beautiful  (featherly) butterfly.

The next one shows seed in a garden that transform into a tall tree. She used real leaves to make that tree.

I helped!  Cutting and pasting mostly.

What do you think?
You think her teachers would love these gifts?


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MG Fantasy : A Dare

I have one particular story idea that's been living inside my head since I was in high school (so yeah, it's been there for like 300 years already).
It's an MG Fantasy thing, you know, with magic, funny creatures, a war between good and evil kind of stuff...

The story has obviously evolved through time, one of the perks of having it undeveloped for so long. This time, I dare myself to 'develop' it into real words and papers and such *cross fingers*

We will get into the head of a fourteen-year-old boy who's pretty confident about who he is, only to find out later that, well, he is not who he think he is. 

Here's one of my favorite scenes when our hero (I haven't found him a suitable name yet) meets an ancient priest after he accidentally set his power off in a battle against the bad guy. Let's just say that the battle didn't end well... thus the meeting.

Hope you enjoy this little sneak peek of THE KORRS :)

The skeleton-look-alike guy didn't open his eyes, which I thought was a bit rude, considering what I'd been through to get here. At least he spoke though. And in a language I understood.
"You must learn your root before you can lead."

"Lead who?"

"Your brothers and sisters."

I corrected him. "Two brothers and a sister." Make it two bullying brothers and one bossy sister. 

He spoke again as though he didn't hear me. "Your other brothers and sisters."

A wave of relief surged through me, and with that, a tinge of disappointment. I had made this journey for nothing. I was not the one they were seeking. "No, I have--" I stopped just as a new dread settled in. "Wait. How many more brothers and sisters I don't know about?" Because three didn't seem to be enough apparently.

The man smiled, showing a row of blackened gum and nothing else. "Deera di paretto."

An ancient language that had long been forgotten. The language of the sky. Scary part was, I understood it well as if it was my own. 

by e. mellyberry 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't Quit Yet


Alright.
I'm blogging about praises I've received for MY LEA. Yup, you're right, this is me showing off, not gonna deny it.
I have every right to, I guess. Who wouldn't be proud of their own children, right? Our creation is our kid.

My Lea is special to me because of many things :
- it was my debut novel.
- it was written in English, and English is not my first language.
-  I've written it with blood, tears, frustration, fear, rejection, insecurities, also love and pride for three long years.
- I taught myself how to write by reading lots and lots of books, articles, reviews, blogs, anything I can get my hands on, and following authors I admire. I never had any formal education in writing. My background is faaaar from writing. Far, far from it.
- My Lea's rating is not so bad for a first-timer. Teehee!

So please excuse me while I dance for me. I kinda need that, because as you know, writing is a lonely business. And it's a tough business. If I don't stop once in a while to smell the roses, it'd be too easy for me to forget why I write in the first place.

Also, this showing-off post is for you - aspiring writers, dreamers, beginners... 

Don't quit just yet. The journey is complex. I remember whenever I was thisclosetogiveup, I would stop, distract myself from my writing and find something else that could inspire me.
So I'm paying this forward. I hope this post inspires you. I hope My Lea inspires you.

Don't quit just yet. Break down the goal and deadlines into smaller portions. It's easier to manage that way.

Don't quit just yet. Don't let others define - or worse, belittle - you, your passion, or your creation. You are not competing against other people. You're competing against yourself.

Don't quit, okay. Because if I can do this, writing a bloody 90K words worth of a novel in foreign language, so can you.

And now... have you read My Lea ?

Amazon  Kobo  B&N  iBook

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Raising Teens

Raising teens is HARD HARD HARD. Don't look at me. I'm not here to give you answers. I don't know how to do it either because, hey, I'm here for the first time too and I'm still learning. Surprisingly, or not, the only thing I've learned so far is that these teens could surprise me, humble me even, if only I ... listen.
Seriously. It’s that simple.
If they feel comfortable confiding in you, that's a big fat bonus. Use that trust well.

Raising teen means we need to put on our coaching jersey. You don't get to play the game with them every time, but you can still watch them play and yell out a few pointers from the side field every now and then.

We need to be more their friend and less their dictator. Putting an arm around their shoulders works much better than putting chains around their ankles.

I remember a saying from Buddha. It goes like this : If you hold them too tight, they'll choke. You hold them too loose, they'll run wild without direction.

A good wisdom 😊

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kartini Day

Being a Kartini means I can be myself. 

I can be a girl and a lot more. 

I'm good at what I do, and I do what I love. 

Skirts and kebaya are not there to confine me, they're a part of who I am. 

I respect everyone, but most of all, I respect myself.

This is me and I love every moment of it.

Selamat hari Kartini, sisters.

*Kartini was an Indonesian heroine. She was a pioneer in the area of women's rights for Indonesians.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reading Control

First, lemme share with you what I know so far.

I know parents who let their fourteen-year-old daughter read FSOG.

I know parents who let their young kids read violent manga because they think manga equals comic and that all picture books and comics are harmless.

I know parents who ban YA books that have pre-marital sex scene in it. They also black-list the authors who write those scenes (bye-bye John Green and pretty much all YA writers out there).

I know parents who won’t allow their children go near—let alone read—LGBT books.

I know a lot of parents who give total freedom to their teens to buy any books they want because they think reading books is better than let’s say, playing video games or browsing porn, without ever checking the genres of the books their kids bought. Reading is good, yeah, just make sure you know what they read.

I know parents who turn to bookcray like me for book recommendations and ask questions about the books their children want to read (yay for booknerds and yay for these parents).

How far do you think our involvement should be when we notice kids read books that are not intended for them?

My biggest dilemma so far is whether or not I should notify parents whose daughter has been reading FSOG

While we're on the subject of book genre, I'd like to explain more about YA characteristics to some people. While YA books are relatively clean as opposed to New Adult, YA is a story about the life of teens. And with that, good realistic YA would deal with issues most teenagers face each day: curiosity, angst, depression, the urge to rebel against authority, physical changes, hormonal mood swings, crushes, and certain degree of sexual attraction and tension. Banning them won't make the issues go away.

We should read beyond the attributes of the characters. For me, the most important aspect in a story is the humanity behind it and the real emotions we as human being feel as they’re being portrayed by the characters in the books. LGBT or not, if the book tells a great story, it’s a great book. Period.

Not all parents are bookworms, and that's okay. We don't have to transform ourselves into a librarian to know what we're doing. We don't need to read the whole book before our kids to know what the story is all about. Synopsis and book reviews will help us with that. 
As parents, we just need to be present, aware, and open-minded. And before we decide whether or not our kids are ready to read books with more mature content, maybe we can all sit down together with them and discuss this? See, having a dialogue means being present and open-minded, right?  
Just saying :)

Do Fun Like A Boss

My seven-year-old daughter just finished making a full diorama based on a short story she previously wrote and read on YouTube called "Sweaty Yeti". 

My daughter has been 'famous' for her love for creating knick-knacks from junks. Anything she can get her hands on, she would turn them into some craft.

Some of my friends asked whether this diorama was a part of Nina's school project. The answer is no, it's not. She's doing it purely for fun. 
As expected, they didn't believe me. "But whyyyy?"
"Because she loves doing it and she's doing it without any burden."
Pause. 
"Yeah... but why?"

It makes me think.

How often do we, adults, do something we love for fun? Most of the time we only do something because we're under an obligation to do it, or there's monetary reward behind it. Definitely not for fun.

Well. Maybe we should all learn to be more like our children. 
Let our wonder takes our breath away and let our curiosity whispers life into our soul.

Maybe we should nurture our talent once in a while, even if it’s only for temporary.

Maybe we should all do what we're good at doing and have fun while doing it. You know, do it like a boss.

Yeah?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ten YA Books that Could Use an Extended Ending

Have you ever read a book, loved it with your heart and soul, then left dumbfounded when you’ve reached the end? It’s like, did something happen during my downloading, or did Amazon send me the broken copy because there’s no way the story ends here. 
There should be something more, one more paragraph maybe, one more chapter, heck, one more book even.

Sound familiar? Been there before?

Yeah. I’ve been there before. Many, many I-don’t-wish-to-acknowledge-it times. 

Don’t get me wrong. The authors did a great job in writing the whole book—the ending included—but I’m a fangirl, and by default that means I know everything about the book better than anyone. Especially when it comes to how to write a more satisfying ending.

I’ve listed ten Young Adult books which in my opinion could use some extended ending.

My list is based on YA books I’ve read until March 2015.(Warning: some minor spoilers ahead)

#10 Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Eli is my number one favorite among Dessen’s boys. At the end of the book, Eli wore a dress shirt and dress shoes. It's written right there in one sentence. This was Eli, guys, and he’d never dressed up. I believe this calls for an extra paragraph or two.

#9 Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
After everything they’ve been through in two lifetimes, it’s only natural that I expected Akiva and Karou to get their epic ending. I guess I was disappointed.

#8 Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I want more awww moments before reaching the last page. More kissing. More dancing. More, more, more… 

#7 Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
No, no, no, no, no. I refuse that postcard, Park. Send it back and do something else instead.

#6 Where She Went by Gayle Forman
It was such a bittersweet ending: the song, the feels, the final stage. I don't want the magic to end. I’d feel much more sated if Gayle decided to write the third book about Adam and Mia. I need another closure badly.

#5 All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I can’t … It’s just … I’m still too emotional to talk about this book and its bright places.

#4 I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I’m satisfied with Jude’s part. Cannot say the same thing for Noah’s though. I kept on turning the last few pages, but nope. Nothing more about Noah and his charismatic boy next door. 
Me sad. 

#3 The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
This is the most painful love triangle in the history of modern fiction. How did you end a book that had the most painful love triangle story ever? The answer is you cannot.

#2 Champion by Marie Lu
A handshake is not a proper way to end a trilogy, not in dystopian, not in contemporary, not anywhere ever. I demand a rewrite on that last chapter! And please make it longer. And hotter, because, my god, Day is twenty-seven for crying out loud. He’s hot, broken, and available. What can be more perfect than that?

#1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
No, I don’t think I need more Harry, Ron, and Hermione. What I desperately need is seven books of Snape.


What’s your list, people? 
Tell me, and let’s compare notes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

#amwriting


Just the other day, I’ve overwhelmed myself with the stress of having launched a book.

What kind of promotion I should do next, how to maximize sales, what to do with negative reviews, why my brain seems to stop functioning when it comes to writing, where the hell is my royalty payment, what to do with my backlog titles, whether or not I should keep writing children’s books or branch out to other genres, traditional publishing vs. self pub, why can't I shake off this writers block WTH, it’s so difficult to write a sequel, my daily life is stealing away my writing time, my writing cave looks totally uninspiring, I have no idea what to write for my next books, what should I write for my social media, how to run a successful social media, what the other bestselling authors are doing and whether or not I should copy their moves, where the hell is my writing muse when I need her the most, what if my book sales stops, what if I run out of promotion ideas, why this blogger and that blogger haven’t replied me, how to reach more reviewers, how to edit my work, what to write, what to write, and so on, so on, so on….

I drove myself mental. I burned myself and everything around me. If someone told me that writing was a blissful profession, I would strangle that person with my teeth, claws, sword, and would so expelliarmus that person into the next century.

Writing and its yada-yada business is NOT blissful. Not even close. It’s the total opposite of blissful.

Then my husband, who has gone extremely tired with my rants and enormous self-pity, snapped at me. “My God, you’re unbelievable,” he said in his most charming tone ever. “You know how many people out there wish they could have your talent and the opportunity to share their works with the world?”

I’m glad he thinks—and believes--that my talent is a ‘real talent’. Not gonna argue with him on this. But I’m gonna argue with everything else he said.

“But, but…,” I argued with the intention to burn down the world of writers with me, “You have no idea how exhausting it is to deal with the business plan and the aftermath of creating a book. You wouldn’t know. You work in a financial institution; all you do is buy and sell and calculate a simple math equation with your calculator.”

In which he replied, “Since when your number one hobby, the one that makes you smile and fly over the rainbow, makes you this bitter? Why are you so stress over writing?”

Before I could even order my tongue to shoot acid reply at him, he added, and what he said stopped my fury dead, “Write for fun. Please, I beg you. Don’t worry too much about what to do after you finish writing it, just keep writing, good or bad, funny or suck-ass, just write for yourself.”

And it strikes me. One of the greatest authors in the world once said the same thing, too. “Write for yourself,” said J. K. Rowling.
My husband, a non-artistic person, shares the same thought as J. K. Effing Rowling. Who is the writer in da house, really, me or him?

So I force myself to calm down.

Of course my husband is right.

Write for yourself.

Write for fun. Don’t worry, the rest would follow.

Write for fun, guys, #amwritingforfun!
Are you?
*****

My New Adult Contemporary novel MY LEA is availabe at  
Amazon
Kobo
B&N
iBooks
 
Psst. Now, that we establish that ground #amwritingforfun rule, would you add my book to your TBR pile? 
*winks, bats eyelashes, smiles angelically*
I run a goodreads giveaway from now until April 24th, 2015. You can enter here

 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I think of Clean Reader App

I first learned about Clean Reader App when I read Chuck Wendig’s blogpost last night. The next thing I did was to check the app myself.

It’s true! It’s really there, this Clean Reader App with its tag “Read books, not profanity”.

I didn’t download it though. I tell you why. I separate my explanation into three parts: from an author’s point of view, from a reader’s, and from a mother’s.

I’m an author

My novel, My Lea, falls into new adult contemporary genre. Though not as scorching hot as, let’s say Katy Evans’s or Abbi Glines’ books, My Lea deals with darker issues and emotions. One of the characters, who is in his early 20s, is full of anger and frustration, it’s hard to imagine him talks and thinks differently than the way he talks and thinks in the book. I didn’t throw in profanity because I felt badass writing it. It’s there because the character I create demands it. It’s a part of him. Besides, clearing up the bad words won’t make my book instantly suitable for younger readers anyway, because even if it’s squeaky clean, the message I’m painting through my story is not for their consumption. In this regard, I kind of fail to see why cleaning up a book would make it different, because for me, the book’s content as a whole—its message, its story, its honesty—is more important. Seriously, profanity is nothing as long as it suits the character and within context. If you're so bothered with profanities, then maybe you don't get the big picture here. 

My books are my kids. I gave birth to them. I’m proud of them just the way they are. I’m not asking everyone to adore my kids, let’s be honest, there’s no rule that forces us to love everyone’s kids. If you love them, thank you, if you don’t, well, okay then. I love the way my book-kids turn out. If someone out there decides that they don’t like my kid’s green eyes, please don’t ask my kid to wear sunglasses to cover the eyes they happen not to like. Or to change my kid’s hairstyle, or the way my kid dresses. Or the way they curse.

I’m a reader

When I read, I like to be able to feel and think. I need to connect to the characters. To be able to connect is to be able to understand the way these people think and speak, bare and honest. If I think I can’t stand a certain type of genre, or story, or words, I’d stay away. I can never digest horror, so I avoid those. I wouldn’t want to read it and have the words like blood and torn flesh (for example) cleaned up because they offend me. It doesn’t work that way, I guess.

I don’t have a master degree in psychology, but I learn enough to know how weird our brain thinks. The more we cover up, the more curious we get, the more our brain will think about those hidden words. Sure, the app changes bad word into something else, but we know the actual word behind those blurry lines now, don’t we? And it will make us think about it more than if we just let our eyes read the actual word. Well, I could be wrong, but… 

"Ha! I know it's not darn. It's this ____ word, right? RIGHT?"

I’m a mother

I’m very picky when it comes to my kids' reading choice. I’m glad I have many bookworm friends who occasionally recommend books for my kids, but I still screen the recommendation myself before handing them over to my children. As a parent to young kids (12 and 7 respectively), it’s my responsibility to set boundaries. Agreed, I wouldn’t want my kids to read books that are not suitable for their age. Agreed, I’d prefer my kids to read books that are clean. Responsibility falls in my hand as their mother. We can’t delegate it to some app. If I think a book is not suitable for my kids, either the content is too mature or they are not my kids’ preference, I would cross it off my list and ask my kids to wait until they’re ready/mature enough to read it. I would not let them read that book with the help of a clean reader app.

There you go, people, my humble two cents.


Keep writing, keep reading, and be yourself!

Add My Lea in Goodreads

My Lea is available in all sites that sell ebooks:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway

Hey you, guys.

So excited to tell you that I'm having an International Goodreads Giveaway from now until April 24, 2015.

click here to enter!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Cinderella

I took my family to watch Cinderella movie last night. I left the theater with more than just a big smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Cinderella is the first fairy tale I've come to know growing up. For years to come, it stayed at the top of the list as the best Disney Princess story for me (Sorry, Frozen). Until Beauty and The Beast animated movie with its iconic song came along. Then, I have two favorite Disney Princess stories. Imagine my excitement when I learned Beauty and The Beast is currently in production. 


Yeah. Cray excited!

Cinderella, being my first love, has always had that unbreakable magical effect on me. Watching the movie last night brought back so many happy, giddy, wonderous memories from my childhood. Watching my now 7-year-old daughter blown away with the story is an experience I would cherish til the end of time. In her, I relive my own magical moments when Cinderella met Prince Charming, when the mice helped sewing the dress, when the Fairy Godmother appeared for the first time. 

Disney has once again proved themselves to be the best creator of anything magic. 

The movie is beautiful. The acting is flawless. The message is modern without sacrificing its originality.

What set this Cinderella movie apart from its predecessors is the message it's sending to the audience. 
"Have courage and be kind."

I love that. 

I didn't remember it was there in my old version of Cinderella. Sure, it talked about dreams and hope and kindness, but in this new version, it pointedly reminds us that in life, magic or not magic, everything starts with you. You rule your own destiny, because at the end, it's not the Fairy Godmother's magic that wins Prince Kit's heart. It's not Fairy Godmother's magic that makes Cinderella beautiful because she is already beautiful by being herself, a simple country girl with a big heart.


"Have courage and be kind" as opposed to Cinderella's stepmother's "have jealousy and be bitter".

Many of you have asked me how good this Cinderella movie is. 

Here is my answer:
If it can make my 12-year-old brooding teenage boy said WOW at the of the movie, then it is THAT good.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Depression (and book reviews of All the Bright Places and I Was Here)

This is the first time I’m combining book reviews and a blog post.
The first time I’m reviewing two books in one go.
The first time I’m writing an article about suicide and mental health issues.

I’m glad I’m doing this.
Let’s start with the reviews.


Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places has blown me to pieces. The middle is a bit slow, but I love the way the author dropped a bit of information here and there when I least expected it; things about Finch’s childhood, Finch’s dad, Finch’s ex-buddy. We get a close-and-personal look at a charming boy who suffers so much inside and doesn’t know how to save him from himself that he constantly sabotages his own happiness. A heart-wrenching potrayal of a boy who wanted so much to be normal, to be bright, but could not. No matter how hard he tried.

I was carried away with Finch’s charming and fearless personalities on the outside. When he folded himself in the darkness afterward, I was left speechless. It came at such a shocking slap to me. How can he disappear from all of that brightness, is a question I keep asking myself. What triggers it? What happened? He looked so damn happy before. So why, why?

We, the readers, got to see Finch from Violet’s eyes. We’re as charmed as she is. We’re as confused as she is, as angry as she is, as scared, loved, sad, happy as she is. The way Violet looks at Finch, I understand. The way Finch breathes life back to Violet after her traumatic accident, I understand. Sadly, unfortunately, I also understand—and hate—the way Finch’s parents and his bully friends treat him.

This book would cut your heart in two, glue them back together in the next page or so, then crack it open a bit, crack it some more, and glue the pieces back together again. The emotions I’ve experienced are all raw. Roller-coaster is not enough word to describe what I felt. I can still feel how the hair on the back of my neck stood, how my heart dropped to my stomach, and how bitter my mouth tasted.

The strongest part of this book is actually the Author’s Note’s page. I quote “Every forty seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. Every forty seconds, someone is left behind to cope with the loss.”

Rating:  5/5

I read Gayle Forman’s I was Here next. As usual, Gayle’s words are beautiful and the way she tells the story is flawless. However, the emotions, the romance, and the logic in this story are questionable. Cody is a girl who has to deal with the aftermath of her best friend’s suicide. Cody couldn’t save Meg’s life, but she tried to save Meg in death. Thus began her journey to the past, to revisit Meg’s life, trying to understand what made Meg did what she did. This book, though carrying a heavy and important message, felt more like a school’s textbook, a nonfiction, rather than a YA novel. I’m disappointed but it doesn’t mean I underestimate the importance of her message.  

Depression is real, depression is deadly, and depression is not always detectable.

Rate 2.5/5

What makes a person depressed, bipolar, suffers panic attacks?

I didn’t study psychology, so I can’t state a definite answer. I only know that depression and other mental health issues are real, as real as the sun in our morning sky. It could happen to anyone, from celebrities like Robin Williams to people who we thought we knew all of our life.

In both books, people who are close to Finch and Meg fail to detect the early signs—the off vibe—from the characters. Or if they know or suspect something, they quickly dismiss it as nothing but harmless and annoying habit. Even when someone decides to do something about it—speak up, urge the person to seek help—their efforts got crushed as the person they try to help push them away. And those good-kind-hearted helpers arrive at a place that says I’ve tried. It’s not my problem anymore. Maybe I should just leave him/her alone.

As illustrated brilliantly by these two books, we will find statements like these:

“We were not friends.” “We were not close.” “That’s the way he/she was.” “He/she wouldn’t listen.” “He/she refused help.” “There’s nothing more we can do.” “He’s a freak.” “She looks so strong and happy. She doesn’t look depressed.”

And we think we do enough by those excuses. We (almost always) expect the person who needs help be the first person who come and ask for help. You know that the chance of that happening is small, right? Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Imagine how many lives we could’ve saved by being aware, by being persistent and consistent. I grew up in a family culture that doesn’t necessarily respect personal’s boundary the way normal family does. We weren’t taught to leave our family alone, or tiptoe around them. If we notice something is not right, we talk about it—to the person or to his/her closest relatives. For example, if my brother detected some weirdness in me, he would’ve come and talked to me, then to my parents, who would’ve then talked to me and my husband, and basically to everybody else in our family. Yeah, yeah, you’re right. It sounds like hellish torture, but listen. Listen beyond that annoying buzz of people talking.

My point is, at least we talk about IT. We put IT in the open. We attack IT until IT disappears.

By doing this, we force ourselves to be aware. The point is to not leave the person who needs help alone. The point is to show that he/she is not alone in whatever struggle he/she faces.

Awareness is a word with life-and-death changing impact.

Aware = not ignorance = care = not alone = help = not giving up = save lives.

Start small. Start with our family, our best friend, our spouse, our children, our coworkers. Being aware in our small, private circle sometimes is the only thing that could save the life of those we love. Because if we don’t, someone else will, and reading these books, I was stunned—though not entirely surprised—to learn about internet help sites that are ready to help people to commit suicide. Not to prevent it, but to ASSIST suicide.  
How many times we heard people said "I didn't know" when it was too late?

I’m a nobody—certainly not a president, or Oprah or Ellen—so I used to think that whatever I say or think would not make much difference.

No, that’s wrong. I’m gonna change that.

I may not be Oprah or Ellen or a famous Youtuber, but I’m not gonna wait until I am one to speak my thoughts. You’re reading this, aren’t you? If you agree with me, if you think it’s important to create more awareness and act more aware, then let’s go. Let’s share the sentiment.

Be aware, be knowledgeable, be consistent.

Your voice matters.

We don’t need to change the whole world. We just need to be strong enough to change the world of that one person who matters to us.

#SayNotoIgnorance #SaveLives

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Haters Gonna Hate; Frauds Gonna Cheat


You know that saying If someone betrays you once it’s their fault; if they betray you second it’s your fault?

If I were to be judged by that saying alone, I would obviously qualified as an idiot. A certified ISO10000 idiot.

I’ve been making the same mistake and having the same problem with people whom I worked with. Not all, a few of them only. Different set of people, but more or less the same problem. Let’s face it, there are people out there who would not play fair, who would not play nice, who would deceive you, who would only come to you when they need you to do (free) favors for them—or worse, trick you to make you work for them for nothing, who would cheat, who would run away (by not answering your messages, ignoring you, giving you excuses, playing dumb, acting immature) when it was their turn to fulfill their obligation, who would disappear from the face of the earth when it was time for them to pay you. 

First time: learning experience.

Second time: still learning experience.

Third time: WTH?! WTF?! WTFF?!

Then I stumbled into this picture.


When we say we need to prioritize our goals, it also means prioritizing our battles. We need to be choosy, selective, because most of the battles with the haters, unprofessional, immature people will only slow our journey down. But it doesn’t mean we walk away and forget, guys. Experience is there to teach us something, to make us a better person.

My husband told me that every time he crossed path with haters or fraud people, he would Like their hate post on Facebook, would RT their hate tweets. He said it drove them crazy because, what the hell, man? I’m trying to insult/trick/take advantage of you and you, what, like me?

Ha. Ha.

Anyway, I get what he was saying. I get what the picture was saying. I get what everyone else was saying…

Prioritize, learn, prioritize, learn. 
Repeat as long as you live. It’s okay to be an idiot once in a while, as long as it's not a permanent disease that can’t be cured.

March on, people. 
Your journey is way more important than a few barking—or disappearing, deceitful—dogs.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey Valentine's Day

I'm in the middle of writing the sequel to my novel MY LEA, and because it's Valentine's week, and because I'm so enamored with this Fifty Shades movie phenomenon, I decided to make my fictional characters a part of this too. 
Here's what happened when Lea and Andrew meet Christian Grey :)

Andrew picked up the Fifty Shades book Lea had left on the coffee table. He turned it over and read the synopsis. Then he flipped the pages the way a guy would flip a Playboy magazine looking for pictures. 
Lea counted mentally. One, two, thr--
"How come a twenty something guy became a billionaire in such a short time?" he asked, raising his eyebrows mockingly at her as if she was the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yeah, she wished.
More flipping ensued. "Does this author know anything about business?" 
Lea shrugged. "She does know a lot about sex. Last time I checked, sex outsells business books."
There was a pause. 
Lea lifted her head. 
Andrew's shoulders shook with silent laughter. 

***

My friend: You really believe life is unfair?
Me: Of course I do. 
My friend: Give me an example.
Me: Fifty Shades of Grey. Average writing, bad prose, one-dimensional characters, no story plot, bestsellers.
My friend: You forgot hot sex.
Me: Yes. Hot sex. Lots of it.
My friend: Then it's fair. 

Moral of the conversation : hot sex = bestsellers = life is fair.

***

A rare Valentine's Day conversation I have with my husband this week :

Hubby: Wow. This Fifty Shades thing really kicks ass, huh? I mean... look at this.
(he shows me ads from Amazon and other medias) They offer a set of Fifty Shades handcuffs and flogger as a Valentine's gift as opposed to the usual flowers and chocolate.
Me: (impassive)
Hubby: It's a big deal, honey. Not many people has the ability to rewrite a (Valentine's Day) history.

***

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY, GUYS.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU. 

XOXO,  mellyberry

Monday, February 9, 2015

Start

Everyone has to start somewhere, and three years ago I've started somewhere with these babies. Now I'm standing with a new adult novel MY LEA, and nine children’s books  (one is on its way soon).
Still a long way to go, I know, but I will stop now and then and just be grateful 😇...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Editing, anyone?


Taken from MY LEA edited manuscript
Q: Is editing hard?

My-brilliant-answer: Of course not. Not at all. It’s only super-blowing-my-mind kinda hard.

Q : Can we self-edit?

My-so-not-intelligent-answer: Well. I suppose if we can take selfie, we can do pretty much everything self-related.

Truth is, it differs from author to author. In my case where English is not my first language, my capability of editing my own work is as credible as my capability of piloting a space rocket. So yeah. I don't need editors.

I’ve been asked a lot of self-pub-related questions since I published my first novel MY LEA last November. I thought why not start with editing topic today.

We’re so fortunate to have my friend, Mickey Reed, who would take us deeper into the world of editing. Mickey is a full time editor and has been working with many authors; some of them are bestselling ones.

So without further ado, here she is!

Hey, everyone! As Melly said, my name is Mickey Reed, and I am a freelance copyeditor for self-published authors. Today, I’m going to explain why I believe editing is important—very important—to the publishing process, talk about why I think everyone should hire an editor, go over the major different types of editing, and discuss how to choose an editor for your project. It sounds a little dry or intimidating, but it’s imperative to putting your best work out there.

Just about every author will give you their advice about publishing. They’ve been there, so they have learned from mistakes and celebrated successes. Guess what almost every one of them will tell newbie authors not to skimp on? Editing! Why? Because it’s the process that makes your already amazing words shine a little brighter. It helps you look professional and serious about writing books as a business. It puts your best foot forward, because readers don’t want to wade through missing words and typos to get to the end of your incredible story. They want a clean copy that doesn’t distract them. For me, nothing is worse than getting pulled out of the story by incorrect word choices, bad punctuation, or dangling participles.

Aren’t familiar with that last one? Then you probably need an editor. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we all do. Self-editing only takes us so far before we need another set of eyes to make sure we’ve dotted every I and crossed every T. Our brains fill in the holes and gaps, but a different brain might catch the things we’ve missed. And when they’re your own words, it’s hard to see the mistakes. Not to mention, no one knows and follows every single grammar rule out there. I’ve written a book, and I ran it through two rounds of editing. They each found different things I didn’t see when reading my own work back, and they errors things the other didn’t fix, too. Bottom line: even editors have editors. We all need them.

But what type of editing do you need? Likely, a few different kinds. There are four major editing rounds, and if you choose multiple rounds, you’ll want to do them in this order. Content editing (or substantive editing) is the big one. It rips your story apart for plot holes, character development and likability, story plausibility and accuracy, pacing, consistency, and overall feel and tone. Basically, it makes your manuscript bleed and points out everything wrong with it so you can fix it. Wrong is sometimes subjective, though, so separate opinion from fact and go with your gut. Line editing is the next step, which checks for sentence structure, transitions, paragraph-to-paragraph pacing and continuity, and writing style. It makes things consistent and grammatically correct, but it still might require rewrites and self-editing, so move on to copyediting after that. Copyediting deals with reference and fact-checking as well as word choice and POV consistency. Proofreading is the final line of defense, so it cleans up and polishes punctuation, spelling, homophones, missing and extra words, and syntax. Like I said, your manuscript might need multiple types of editing, and that’s okay.

So how do you choose an editor for your project? Do your research. Google for editors, ask your writing buddies, read a well-edited book and check to see who worked on it, or browse freelancing websites to find options. Then get samples edited (preferably the same chapter from each editor for comparison) and see what you find. Most importantly, learn about editing too. Take a class or brush up on some grammar rules so you can decide if the editors on your list actually know their stuff. Don’t get duped into hiring someone who says that they will line edit for you but can only catch when you use their and there incorrectly. Always make sure you know what you’re getting into before the process starts or a contract is signed. And work with critique partners who will read your work and give you honest feedback about what they think you need. In the end, trust your gut.

Sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? It certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Empower yourself to know the differences of what people offer, get samples from many potential editors, and make comparisons. Ask questions. Request more information. Don’t be shy. This is business, and anyone worth their salt will sit down with you and go over everything about their editing process. Know that you’ll make mistakes you can learn from, and realize that there are many options out there. You’ll find the right editor for your work eventually, and your readers will be so happy you did.

Bio:

Mickey Reed is a full-time freelance editor who works on manuscripts from multiple genres. Throughout her career, she has worked on over two hundred fifty projects, several of which are USA Today, New York Times, and Amazon bestselling novels and novellas. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and a houseful of pets, and when she’s not editing, she’s writing her own books and short stories. You can find her online atmickeyreedediting.com.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rough Day

My teen had a rough day at school today. This time, it was a situation I couldn't fix for him.

Later on he found peace reading this "365 Days of Wonder", a book that never left his bedside table, and listening to his favorite music.

Sometimes we forget that kids need some alone-time too, just like us, to unwind. No need to hover, no need to push, no need to worry excessively.
They will find a way to settle their own problems without us interfering...

Luv ya, Kiddo 😙

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gone Girl Movie

Guys.
Meet my brand new, still wrapped in plastic, Gone Girl novel that I bought in... well.... 2012. Don't pay attention to the Darth Vader next to it. I need something to hold the book when I took its picture.

Anywaaaay.... I cheated. I chose to watch the movie first before I read the book. Shame, shame, I know.
So I watched it and -- whoa! My husband and I were glued like helpless dolls in our seat because whoa! WHOA HO HO!
It was freaking awesome. Creepy. Awesome. Creepy. And WHOA!!!

If you haven't read or watched Gone Girl, go run to bookstores or wherever now.

I will definitely read the book even when I've already known the ending.
I can't imagine how powerful it would be, seeing the scenes through words 😍

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MY LEA BLOG TOUR HAS STARTED

MY LEA Blog Tour has kicked off Monday 19 January 2015 and will continue till 23 January!

I'm super thrilled. Can't sleep. Can't eat. Can't talk. Can't write. I hope I didn't make tons of typo writing this post because holy shoooot woooot, Lea and Andrew are on the tour!

Come and join us. Enter to win prizes 😀.
You can find the blog tour link here :

http://xpressobooktours.com/2014/11/13/tour-sign-up-my-lea-by-e-mellyberry/

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mommy's Journal: Get Well Soon, Princess

My little girl is sick with bad cold. It's the combo of fever, dry cough, sore throat, and runny nose. It's very uncomfortable, poor girl, but she's trying to be brave by not complaining. She stacks tissue next to her bed, she got herself a damp cloth everytime she feels her eyes are burning, and she doesn't whine everytime she swallows the medicine.
Love you, little Princess 😙.
Get well soon...