Monday, February 8, 2016

Chamorro Language & Culture: Literature Spotlight: Tanya Taimanglo

Chamorro Language & Culture: Literature Spotlight: Tanya Taimanglo: In the Chamorro community, we're seeing an increased interest in writing, fine art, and other creative pursuits.  Tanya Taimanglo is...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tales From Pasifika's Generous Review of Secret Shopper

Humbled by this latest review of Secret Shopper. "We don’t wait for the big storm to happen – we just live. This may be the reason why the plot is so incredibly believable and easy to relate to – this is not a fairytale you dream of, but a story solidly anchored in reality." -Tales from Pasifika

Click here to read more. Thanks!

Click here to purchase your paperback or eBook from Amazon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 Finished.

I was motivated to get my 50K words out for NaNoWriMo in 20 days. Did it in 24 because, life. I was extra motivated because of Tae Kwon Do. Namely, the exam that awaits me on December 5th. I was additionally motivated to complete before Thanksgiving so I could watch Mockingjay 2. Whatever pushes you, right?

Wonder Fall, first draft, completed at 50,013 words. Thank you, NaNoWriMo. Can't wait for my winner's shirt!

Drops mic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Twyla Tharp. She's a Rock Star.

I was headed to my Tae Kwon Do Instructor's Training Camp in Bellingham last Saturday. It was raining, gray, the usual for PacNorWest. I was wondering why I was torturing my 41 year old body with extra martial arts training trying to achieve more levels than the black belt I already had. Why bother for more? I asked myself. Why do this extra training when I know that it will be two days of muscle aches (before recovery) and mind twisting to remember hundreds of moves I'm required to learn from white belt to danbo level? Self-doubt is normal for me.

I wasn't in the mood for music. I just wanted to hydrate, and counteract that hydration by sipping my coffee, and focus on my one hour drive. When I'm pensive, I prefer to listen to talk radio. Lucky for me, Twyla Tharp's interview was on. A 74 year old woman, doing what she loves. Dance. She described her journey so eloquently. She made me want to be better at the passion of my choice. I am thankful for hearing the interview, as it came at just the right time for me to be inspired. I had always known of Twyla and her association to dance, but nothing more. Now, I am a fan.

Here is the NPR interview I listened to, enjoyed, absorbed, and made mine. Please click here.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ChaNoWriMo about NaNoWriMo-Full Interview Here

My Name is Tanya.
I love NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.
I love ChaNoWriMo. They gave me an opportunity to share my strategies to surviving 30 days of writing to reach the goal of 50K words.

They've been sharing bits of the interview on their wonderful Facebook page. Be sure to like them by clicking here. In case you missed those tidbits, here's the full meal.

Thank you and good luck if you're taking on NaNoWriMo. Click here for more information about this wonderful writing challenge.

1. What first got you interested in NaNoWriMo / ChaNoWriMo?

With NaNoWriMo, I can’t pinpoint how it came to my attention, but I believe it was via Facebook, perhaps a post from an author I follow. We were new to Washington State, making a long journey up the Pacific Coast for about a week in October. Once we settled in the area, but before we found our home, I remember being at our lodge and deciding to go for it. I needed a distraction from the stress of our long journey. I liked the idea of challenging myself to write 50K words in 30 days. That was 2012, and I’ve participated ever since. For ChaNoWriMo, I learned about it in 2014 and love the idea.

2. What keeps you going through a whole month, day by day?

Most days, it’s the story that unfolds in my mind—the characters, the events, the dialogue. But, for less motivated days, I love that NaNoWriMo keeps tabs on your daily word average. I also keep up with other writers in my city as well as those on Guam.

3. How much time do you try to spend writing every day in November? What does an average November writing day look like, for you?

I try to carve out time in the morning, before the family rush, and in the evening after the home is tucked in and sleeping. If I get a solid hour or two a day, I can meet my goal.

4. What (if anything) do you do in advance to prepare for actually writing the novel during November (drafting, outlining, lists of scenes, etc.)?

I’m a girl scout in that I’m honest. Sometimes I wonder if other NaNoWriMo participants start writing long before the November start date. For now, I’m debating in my head about two story lines. I don’t actually start writing (again, because of my innate honesty), but I may begin an outline and I love having my character names settled. It helps propel the story and my writing efficiency.

5. Any tips and secrets you would like to share on building plot, character, etc.?

I love sharing. It helps get writers motivated and stories born.

I keep files on my computer for each book I write. I include drafts, outlines, scenes, and character profiles. In my profiles, I may have “journal” entries of the main characters, lists of my character’s likes, dislikes, quirks, and personality. I even go so far as finding celebrities I envision as my character (as if in a movie) and using their pictures as a visual guide. Some people like music when they write, and I’m in that group. I make a ‘soundtrack’ for my book and it helps with feeling and tone as I write. In addition, I print out my drafts and use index cards and stuff them into a journal or folder. If I find time away from home, I have things in front of me that I can work on in my car, or the library, or a coffee shop. As much as I love computers, I keep printed copies of everything I have, so the progression doesn’t need to be dependent on my accessibility to my laptop.

6. Who are the Chamorro or Micronesian, Oceanic, writers that you consider role models?

There are so many. I love that Craig Santos Perez is making waves as a poet. I’m a fan of Sieni A.M. and Lani Wendt Young. I’ve been able to bounce off ideas and information with Young. I’ve met the wonderful author, Kristiana Kahakauwila and her short story collection, ‘This is Paradise: Stories’ is read worthy. And, I appreciate the art and writings of Dr. Judy Selk Flores. She continues to be an inspiration to me.

7. Any Pacific novels in particular that really inspire you in terms of what literature can do?

I feel like my last novel, Secret Shopper was a blend of Guam meets Bridget Jones’s Diary. I like what Lani Wendt Young has done with her YA Telesa Series, and I’m pretty fervent about her dive into Contemporary Romance/Comedy with her Scarlet Series now. For Guam, I am not aware of any novels that are in my genre specifically, which is women’s literature/romantic comedy. I have a number of projects in the Young Adult genre, and again, would love to see a rise in Chamorro titles out there.

8. What inspired you to use Chamorro motifs and language in various pieces of writing (especially in your wonderful short-story collection Attitude 13)? What do you think that adds to your work?

The biggest inspiration is being Chamorro. It’s what I know and what I am. My father passed away in 2007 and that’s when the short stories started to build in me and burst onto paper. I feel like writing stories that reflect my island and upbringing brings a mirror up to those readers from the same heritage and a light to those not familiar with us. I wrote Attitude 13 with a conscious effort to include Chamorro themes and ideals. I’m working on a volume 2 of short stories that I want to be more wide ranged and organic. I have many influences that I would like to seep into the writing.

9. What does the Chamorro canon of literature look like, to you? What do you dream of it looking like in the future?

It’s misleading to say it’s burgeoning, because, it’s always been there, a constant, but gentle flow. With the rise of indie publishing, there is more out there than we realize. Sometimes, and I invite others to try it, I type in ‘Guam’ or ‘Chamorro’ in the search bar of Amazon, under books. You’ll be surprised by what’s being published. Some of them come from a genuine place and from Chamorro writers. My hope is that Chamorro writers, whether on Guam or other places in our great big world, continue to write, to hone the craft, and be bold and publish.

10. What advice might you give about publishing, promotion, etc.?

I’ve been doing self promotion since 2010. I’ve attended Chamorro Festivals up and down the west coast—selling my books, speaking on writing and publishing. Social media is a big help to authors, so as introverted as I may be, I utilize Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and my blog, Guam Goddess in Training, to my advantage. I used to carry business cards, but found them, at least for me, an uncomfortable tool.

In terms of publishing, indie publishing is great. I used Authorhouse in 2010 to publish Sirena and Attitude 13. I didn’t in 2013 when I self-published Secret Shopper. The difference, money. Amazon’s Createspace offers a free self-publishing program. I’ve done the traditional publishing route too and hold my numerous rejection letters as trophies of honor. I would travel that route again, once I’ve polished a manuscript I deem worthy enough to submit. Find yourself a publishing company, large or ‘boutique’ and follow their submission guidelines. Brace yourself for the sound of crickets, i.e. ‘no response’, or a cookie cutter rejection letter, but don’t stop, because what one publisher might turn their nose up to, another might love.

11. Are there any historical or current events that inspire you in terms of writing?

I can’t say that there are any specific events. I’m very inspired by people who are underdogs or wallflowers who rise to an occasion, even if it’s just discovering their own power. I’m inspired by other writers who keep trying. And, that’s why I love NaNoWriMo, because it gets me to wring that story out of my brain, which would otherwise not happen.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Let's Support Art and Writing! The Dark Reaches

Here's a Kickstarter Campaign that’s personal to me. My kid brother, awesome artist (HeroesandHeadkicks), Sonny Chargualaf is to be included in some major artist company and I couldn’t be more proud. Literally, I’m so proud, I’m blogging about this before my morning coffee and that’s a big deal.

The Dark Reaches is a horror anthology spearheaded by Rus Wooton (The Walking Dead). With your support, this project can take off.

Thanks in advance! Share and share and share. Link here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tae Kwon Do / About a Boy / Black Belt

I received my Tae Kwon Do black belt yesterday. It was the best thing I could do for myself. A twenty five year journey with stops and starts. Below is the 500 word essay I was required to submit for my testing criteria. I share it now...

My Tae Kwon Do Journey

February 2015

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”—Lao Tzu

My journey in Tae Kwon Do began 25 years ago when at the age of 16, I joined my first dojang in Guam. I had been familiar with this school for four years prior, but never had the courage to join the class. I sat in the back while my two younger brothers moved up in the ranks. During those four years of observation, many of the tenets of Tae Kwon Do seeped into my being. My father would nudge me to join from time to time, but not having the courage to do so, I declined, even when my father added, “You need to honor your Korean culture and mom by joining.”

My first Master, Hyung Ho Lee was young, skillful, and proud. Classes were on the second level of an old two story building. The hard wood floors were not pristine, but the wide windows brought in the fresh ocean air. For five years, I continued to move up slowly in belt rank, ending my time with Master Lee at a high blue belt. Belt testing happened only every six months, and with graduating from high school and beginning college, I advanced slowly, but surely.
I remember the day that would be my last with Master Lee. I was competing in an island wide Tae Kwon Do tournament. I was 21 at the time. Prior to that, I had some success with poomse and sparring competitions, gaining further confidence and trophies with each year. But, this day was different. I was unfocused, because I was transitioning socially. I had my first date that evening (in my entire life), which is late by today’s standards. I lost the tournament, already abandoning Tae Kwon Do for a boy. For six years, while I established my teaching career and hoped for marriage with the boy I had my first date with, I let my physical self deteriorate. At the age of 27, I found myself suddenly single, unhappy, and unhealthy.

My knee jerk response was to join Tae Kwon Do again. Master Lee no longer had a gym, and I found Master Chuuth Sekria. He welcomed me at my blue belt level, but I saw his disappointment when he realized that I lost much of my training. That first week in his class was frightening, with a weaker me struggling to not faint. I made it though and even got a few teacher friends to join with me. For the next three years, I flourished. Advancement came quicker and I realized that Master Sekria was both a teacher and a business man. At the age of 28, I reconnected with a childhood friend, who is now my husband. My husband was in the Navy, and I knew that after our wedding I would relocate to California. Master Sekria knew my time on Guam was limited. With an upcoming belt test, he told me, “I’m going to give you your junior black belt, then you’re getting married and leaving our gym.” It was true, once again, I was leaving Tae Kwon Do “for a boy.”
My new focus was marriage and starting a family. Fast forward ten years and another military move to Washington State. My son joined USTA after two years of proving his worthiness. His first class brought back many memories of sitting in the back with my father. I was filled with pride and at home with the familiar sights and sounds of the dojang.

When Master Ekle announced that parents would be invited to practice for free, my immediate reaction was YES. I’ve been with my new dojang and new Master now since October 2014. It has been the best reinvention of myself, even if my Korean mother thinks I’m “too old.” I’m proving that at age 40, it’s never too late to strive for a goal. My goal is my black belt.

My father passed away in 2007, but I’m certain that he would be proud to know that a black belt is in my grasp. I’m thankful for the opportunity to put my body and mind to the test. This time, I joined a dojang and embraced Tae Kwon Do again “for a boy”, my son.