Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Life as a Spy....Secret Shopper, Actually.

I was agent 213.

When I was a wee lass, at the age of 32, ahem. I was busy with a new baby and living a life in San Diego away from Guam. One day, my wonderful husband came home and said, “How would you like to eat sandwiches for free AND get paid?”

It was the most romantic thing he had ever said to me. (I kid).

So, I did a quick, over the phone interview, sounding as eloquent as I could. Guaranteeing my 1 ½ year old would behave when I would evaluate restaurants, and that I could speak and write ‘good’. (I kid).

So, I did this for almost 4 years. Secret Shopping. A shoppers dream come true, right?
Except, I wasn’t a shopper by nature. I would rather be sitting on those benches in department stores with the weary husbands, resting my feet while my spouse hunted and gathered. What I did have going for me were my powers of observation and the great skill of writing quick, dull-only the facts, ma’am write ups. I was paid between $8.00 and $12.00 a report, mileage sometimes included. I made over $800.00 one month and was over the moon. I expanded from popular sub-sandwich shops to tacos. Then as they trusted my skills more, I was given banks and credit unions. Oh, joy! So, with about a hundred bucks per institution (never my own money) I opened nearly ten bank accounts in a two week span. I asked my boss, “Are you sure I won’t get flagged by the authorities?” I used my real name at each institution, and I was nervous at first having so many bank books to juggle. But, I became better at looking like just a regular customer.

My targets then expanded to phone calls, which was a relief as I birthed my second child during my stint as a spy secret shopper.

I enjoyed these because my spy lying skills were flexed. When the representative would ask for my name, I could be anyone! So, during the height of the Twilight obsession, I was every female character, except for Renesme.

“Hi, I’m Bella.”

“Hi, I’m Alice.”

“Hi, I’m Rosalie.”

Being half-Korean, I was given all the overseas banks at military bases in Japan and Korea. The mere mortals found it hard speaking to representatives who spoke English as a second language. I, on the other hand, was raised by a beautiful Korean mom who also spoke and sometimes slaughtered the English language. (Think of Margaret Cho’s comedic imitations of her Korean mom’s accent-snippet below). I had those special powers and those calls paid well.

Last week, I decluttered my new office, making it more conducive and feng shui-ish for my writing flow. I found a huge stack of evaluations from my secret shopping days. I was glad for the experience and the opportunity to write, but I was also glad to shred and recycle this 100 pound stack of paper.

Moving forward. When I told the company I worked for that I was no longer going to do evaluations so I can pursue writing full time (this was just before Attitude 13 and Sirena were released), my handler said, “Oh, well, good luck with that. But in case that doesn’t pan out, you can always come back to us." Them fighting words! I thought to myself. So, today I announced on Facebook and here that I will be moving forward. I’m thankful for the literary guidance of other authors like Lani Wendt Young and Carlene Rae Dater. I’m thankful for the self-publishing opportunity Amazon’s Createspace provides. I’m thankful for the many beta-writers I’ve had for the first novel I’m releasing soon.

In addition, I’m thankful for the wealth of experience that espionage secret shopping gave me, since it is a highlight in the novel, aptly entitled, Secret Shopper.

I’m working on a kick ass cover, drafts actually, drawing and coloring really, with my children, but I’m excited. Doing final edits of this manuscript that is almost three years old and in it’s fourth draft. Secret Shopper by Tanya Taimanglo is ripe and about ready for the pickings. I hope the world is ready for the strong Chamorrita lead this novel offers. More to come!

Thank you for the support.
Esta Later!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

CHE'LU's 4th Annual Chamorro Cultural Fest in San Diego

If you plan to be in San Diego in March, celebrate with CHE'LU at the 4th Annual Chamorro Cultural Fest, March 23, 2013. Tell 'em Guam Goddess in Training sent ya'!

Video by Bryson Kim. *Link to his Photography website*

*Like them Facebook by clicking here!
Esta Later!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Smile from Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)

When you're a Geek Girl and something you post on Lynda Carter's Facebook fan page gets attention, what do you do? You blog about it.

Yes, it could be an assistant responding, but let me relish in the fact that it might have been the Wonder Woman, my childhood (ahem, and adulthood) hero who typed the simple smiley face for a Justice League coloring page I posted.

In September 2012, I posted like a real Geek Girl should, a photo of me in a WW cape. When 'Lynda Carter' liked it...whew, I was excited, only to find out that it was a lovely Latina who looks like her, loves Wonder Woman like me, but not the real deal. It was still nice....

Off my little Wonder Woman podium. Thanks for letting me share.

Here's a link to her fan page. Lynda Carter Facebook
Esta Later!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kevin Smith, McFly and Writing Constipation

When I was 19, I took my first strides to being a writer. I was a sophomore at the University of Guam on a clear path to getting my degree in English and Secondary Education. My calling was literature, the beacon that took any spare moment of my time. I was reading and appreciating poetry and literature.

So, at 19, I pulled out my yellow notebook, wire ring and all, and outlined the story I was eager to flesh out. In my head, the entire book played out, the beginning scenes solidified on paper. I still have that notebook and the story is still swimming in my head. Its relevance and marketability now are questionable since I concocted it in the 90s. Jet City Woman. That was the title (I listened to Queensryche). Lynn Crow. The main character.

Aside from domestic goddess duties, Navy wife duties and weaving through our new Washingtonian status in Pac NorWest, I wake up every morning with the intent and sometimes a plan to write. Yesterday, I edited two chapters of my 2/3 finished novel.

I am impatient and distracted and with each full moon, hormonal.

My daughter and I just feasted on s’mores, so now I’m energized and feeling guilty about being sidetracked. I’ve also spent part of my morning watching Kevin Smith’s Too Fat for Forty. I folded clothes and enjoyed the first of three hours, saving the rest for later. I also ordered his book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. I’m all about him right now, trying to squeeze out wisdom from his comedic and vulgar delivery.

In addition, thanks to CNN’s coverage of hot right now on YouTube videos, I came across Tom Fletcher. He’s a singer with the British group, McFly. His wedding speech, all 14.41 minutes of it was charming, engaging, entertaining and romantic. When I stumble upon a lead, I investigate everything encompassing that subject, so I’ve watched a number of McFly’s music videos, loving some of their catchy tunes.

So, Kevin Smith and McFly factor into this whole crazy process of writing. Sure, experts tell you to treat it like a job, sit for an hour or whatever prescribed time and just write. I did that with NaNoWriMo in November and I know I can sit and crank it out, but the creative process can be complicated. My interest in Kevin Smith and McFly right now will color my writing in some way, I’m sure. The creative process for me is more than just sitting my butt down in front of my laptop and pounding away.

I am suffering from literary constipation if you must. Something is brewing and when it’s ripe, the words will flow easier. (Like the visual in your head? Yep, that's what writers do)...

My first draft of a romantic comedy flowed easily. This was 2009. I was excited to share with two women who were part of a free writing group I joined at my local library. I printed them each a copy and we even met over coffee to discuss. I felt vulnerable since these women didn’t really know me as a person, but was honored that they had taken the time to read my crap. I call it crap endearingly, because the first drafts, let alone the first book you write are just that. I voiced this to the women when they didn’t give me a solid critique like I hoped. One lady only read the first 20 pages and the other, although she wrote notes, said “I only skimmed, sorry.” In my self-deprecating ways, I remembered walking back to the library, carrying the returned manuscripts, and said, “Well, writing is like taking a big dump. Once it’s out, you have to figure out what to do with it.”

I recall the two ladies looking at each other, laughing, “Did you really say that?”

Anyone who knows me truly knows I make the weirdest, sometimes vulgar analogies. It’s how I roll.

The only thing of value I have in this life is my ability to tell a story, whether in print, orating, writing it down or having people acting it out. That's why I'm always hoping society never collapses because the first ones to go will be entertainers. --Kevin Smith
Anyway, I’m experiencing writing/literary constipation. I walk around my domestic life hoping for a sliver of time to write. Yeah, yeah, I’m blogging right now, but it’s all part of the grander creative process. I’m figuring out what project to tackle, taking in Kevin Smith and McFly’s music in the background to get my gears going again. I’m doing the warm up to the marathon writing session I know is around the corner.

Needless to say, I’ll be 39 in a few months. Twenty years after I made a conscious choice to be a writer. I am one. But, I’m hoping the cumulative effect of my life will help me produce literary nuggets I can be proud of.


A Story of a Stolen Mermaid--(and the Infringement of an Artist)

Fact: I wrote Sirena: A Mermaid Legend from Guam in 2010. Fact: My brother, Sonny Chargualaf is the talented artist behind the imagery. ...