Toxic Relationships

A while back, I wrote about toxic friendships and how to detect it on my blog and I’ve always wanted to touch on the topic of toxic relationships. Sometimes we tend to overlook some serious damage being done underneath the surface in hopes of things changing for the better. As usual I have to insert a disclaimer saying this post doesn’t speak for all relationships as many relationships survive its daily ups and downs.

 

Like toxic friendships, the toxicity in relationships aren’t always seen in black or white. A toxic partner wouldn’t necessarily harm you in a direct way such as abuse, cheating etc. There are grayed out areas in a relationship that you know and feel is not correct for you yet it’s hard to cut ties and move on. You may feel an intense love for your partner, and generally you both have a great time together. A few arguments here and there won’t raise any red flags so you continue to pursue this relationship even though deep inside you feel like an absolute wreck.

  1. Feeling Alone. Despite a relationship being a sort of partnership, one partner feels alone, insecure or even unwanted. A relationship is meant to make one feel fulfilled and add to one’s life. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  2. You’re a lesser half. When you constantly conform to your partner’s wants and needs, his/her opinions and your voice is never heard you tend to feel unimportant. Eventually this feeling of inferiority will lead towards you pleasing the other person through hell or high water yet the same won’t be done for you because you are always taken for granted.
  3. Controlling Partner. A controlling partner can act on a simple bout of jealousy or need for control and make you cut ties with your friends and families. It sounds silly writing it but I have seen it time and time again. I’ve even experienced a relationship like this. To be manipulated by your significant other and ignore everyone around you is unhealthy. Then you are truly alone.
  4. Jealousy. We all are flattered when our significant others express a form of jealousy but when does jealousy become too much? I personally think it’s absurd to have someone in your phone, emails, social media around the clock. If you can’t share trust, then what kind of relationship do you really have? And if you can’t trust the person you’re with, then why continue to pursue it?
  5. Dwelling on the past. We often joke about this and make memes about it when people conjure old arguments during a new one to turn tables on the other person. To be able to move forward in a relationship, there is need for forgive and forget. Dwelling on ancient petty matters won’t help the situation.
  6. Communication. If you can’t communicate yourself well in a relationship and establish your half of the partnership then you will eventually bottle up your feelings until you start resenting your significant other. This leads to treating your significant other sourly. So don’t brush the problem over with a brand new gift, deal with it. Find common ground and put yourself in the other person’s shoe.
  7. Lack of Respect. Last but not least I want to talk about respect. I feel like it’s something that’s overlooked in relationships nowadays. We think attraction and common interests will lead us down the road to love. Respect is a key factor in tying love, trust and communication together. Embarrassing your other half in front of people is disrespectful. If you have problems talk with each other and not about each other. Be mindful and respectful that this other person brings some sort of fulfillment in your life and appreciate that.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

 

 

The Cilantro in Apple Pie by Kimberly Knights|Book Review

When it comes to YA fiction I’ll probably gravitate towards dystopian or apocalyptic so I was hugely surprised that I actually enjoyed this coming of age story about friendship and loss.

Just to give a brief synopsis, the book starts out with Ruby a bi-racial sixteen year old from the Caribbean who’s moving to the US with her sister who recently got married. Ruby is a bit of a loner at school and is having trouble fitting in because of her different background and culture. She eventually befriends Gil who belongs to a rich and snobby family. Here is where Ruby’s and Gil’s world collide. There is a bit of a culture clash and the author does a beautiful representation of Caribbean language and slang. The book was written in first person narrative so I quite enjoyed the voice of the story. Without giving away spoilers, Gil basically proves that he can be a true friend to Ruby, and he does care about her even though she doesn’t fit into his world and lifestyle. The second part of this book was emotional but like I said, I’m not spoiling this one. It’ll definitely ruin the story if you decide to pick this one up. Ruby’s fight was to become a resident of her community, finally feeling at home despite being away from home. A nice quick read about friendship and family.

Thanks for reading and happy Saturday!

xo Coffee Doll

Outlining Your Story Helps You Write Better

Last year, I’d managed to finish two novellas without a particular process or schedule and since then I have been struggling with planning and completing stories. Every time I’d sit down and try to write complete mayhem broke out. In between normal life and daily duties, I could not utilize whatever spare time I had to write something of significance. I’m still struggling but I took time out to really study the writing process before jumping back into writing. So far, it’s been effective. I’m happy for myself, that I’ve recently started writing again, something that I just need to do.

I was under the impression that to be an author you had to be beyond intelligent and just know everything, that one can just sit down and write a perfect novel in one shot. When I started experiencing writer’s block despite knowing where I wanted my stories to go I realized that I needed to halt and revamp the way I approached writing. Dialogues are easy for me as I’ve always wanted to be a screenwriter since my tween days but it’s the details, descriptions and making my characters emote that I have the most trouble with. As my research progressed I learned that extensive research and planning goes into a story. At least for me, it was a new and different approach and one I decided to try out.

I did plan before but there were always holes in my story. I had the core idea, knew who my characters were and what was going to happen but it’s the how that hindered my progress. After trying to outline my story, I realized why I should’ve done this a long time ago. I consider myself very novice at writing but it’s something I love and I want to pursue so I had to get it right. I am still trying to get it right. So instead of just writing based on small notes I’ve made, I outlined an entire story from beginning to end and it felt almost as satisfying as completing a book. Bear in mind this is just the beginning. After completing a first draft, there’s lots of edits, formatting and modifying that needs to be done but I’ll elaborate on that more in another post.

Here’s how I outlined the story that I’m currently working on…

  1. OneNote. I came across this program, that’s free on all platforms by the way, called OneNote. It doesn’t save like a word document, it syncs and you’ll be able to access your work on multiple devices. Sometimes a thought might hit you and all you have is your phone on hand so I find this very useful if I quickly need to make a note or addition to anything. (I will create an entire post how I use OneNote for outlining and writing with pictures.)
  2. Writing Chapter Summaries. I used to write one entire synopsis and a few details here and there about scenes and dialogues that I already know I want in my story. I’ve started writing one liners about each chapter and it didn’t start in order. By the time I kept adding paragraphs to the one liners, I noticed my story tying together to make sense. (Note: If at this point your story sounds chaotic, worry not. It will tie together. Remember that this is just the beginning of it and your work will always be tweaked as fast as your ideas come along.) This is one thing I like about chapter summaries, if you feel like adding something different, it gives you room to work. Unlike just writing your book and half way through you realize that you need to redo the entire thing. So outlining your sub plots save you all of that. Once you’re satisfied with the outline, you can then begin to write.
  3. Character Profiles. Previously I would make a brief description of my characters such as dark hair, green eyes, tall, short…whatever their job was, who their family was. Sometimes I’d add new characters as I wrote and sometimes I’d want to take out a character that wasn’t making sense anymore but I couldn’t. So planning out my characters well and outlining the entire story, helps me know from the beginning which characters should be omitted as well as if I need to add a character somewhere down the line. I also ran into problems when I called my characters doctor or accountant and in the middle of the story I had to research details of their job descriptions. My advice is to research these details and any information about their jobs…note their likes, dislikes, behavior, families previous to writing. It has helped me in a big way so far.
  4. General Research. As much as us fiction writers make up a lot of details we still need extensive knowledge on how things in our stories function. For example a hospital…if a lot of our story is set in a hospital revolving around the people that work there, we’d have to know what goes there, who is in charge, their responsibilities, what equipment is placed in what department…things like that. You get the idea.
  5. Don’t leave holes. One of my biggest mistakes when planning a story, I’d leave out a lot of details thinking I’d polish it during the editing process. This causes more chaos that you’d think. Plan your scenes, and elaborate as much as you can before even beginning to write. It helps you write with a flow as you have noted exactly what you want to convey in that chapter.
  6. Sketch your Plot and Climax well. All stories have some sort of issue that needs to be dealt with which can either break or make your story. Make sure it’s a convincing and sensible one as well as your climax. I’ve read many books where the entire build up was brilliant only to have a rushed ending with an unconvincing plot. I’ve also written stories like this, sadly. So that’s why I feel it’s important to pay attention to your plots and sub plots along with the climax.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

April 2017 TBR List

These are what I’m going to try to complete by the end of April if I get my hands on all of them. Comment down below what’s on your TBR list currently or even your most recent book haul. I’d love to know.

  • The King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston (currently reading) – Historical Romance/Adventure
  • The City of Thieves by David Benioff (historical fiction)
  • The Cilantro in Apple Pie by Kimberly Nadine Knights
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Contemporary)
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Science Fiction)
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles #3 (YA)

There are much more on my TBR List but these are what I intend to complete in April.

Happy Saturday folks! xo Coffee Doll

 

 

Fifty Shades Darker Movie Review

It took me over a year to actually look at the first movie, that’s how not excited I was by this franchise. Jamie Dornan made a fine Christian Grey but I wasn’t too enthusiastic on the other casting. I read the book a long time ago so I’ve definitely forgotten all of the details. I drew the parallels to The Twilight Saga before I even realized this series was based on it and started out as fan-fiction. Fifty Shades is meant to be a romance told in its own way and I can respect that as an individual who appreciates writing as an intense art form. That being said, this was no literary piece of work.

I’m not going to focus on summarizing the movie or the books but I do have my own opinions on the trilogy that I haven’t shared anywhere before. Facebook is so controversial these days. Most people think it’s about abuse and rape. Now Christian’s and Ana’s relationship is no perfect example of how a relationship should be. I myself wouldn’t want to be in such a union, however, it’s a book. It is just a book…just a story. No need to get worked up when there’s worse things written and portrayed out there. I myself looked at the movies because of Jamie Dornan…I’ve liked the actor ever since I saw him as Sheriff Graham in Once Upon A Time TV Series.

My actual take on this second movie is that I don’t have one. Just putting it out there I looked at a censored version of it, so no I was not there for the steamy scenes. (LOL) The first movie, boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girls likes boy then we find out boy has a problem and girl can’t be in such a relationship then it ends because it’s a trilogy. All this time I thought, well maybe the series has something to carry it to the heights of which it went. Until I saw Fifty Shades Darker. I’m still at a lost as to what the plot was. It feels dragged out. Not a strong enough story that it needs to be split into three books. Ana is bland and boring. There really is nothing about her specifically that’s suppose to drive Christian Grey to change, other than the fact that he wanted to control her from day one. I felt like if the female lead was thought out differently, it could’ve be more convincing. The fact that he owns everything in the books turns me of to no end…when would someone write about a poor guy that a woman falls head over heels with?

As usual I have to remind my readers that this is just my opinion not a verdict on any author or director. It’s an entertaining series on days when you don’t feel like focusing on an intense piece of literary work but it’s not something that I would re-read either.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

Why I Hate Giving Presents

I really hate giving gifts…no I despise giving gifts. It stresses me out to no end and it’s not because I don’t know how to think unique or read a person well enough to know what they’d like, it’s because the receiving parties can be somewhat of a b*tch. This has literally been my experience most of my life from my prepubescent period well into adulthood.

Doing gift exchanges at school were horrible because kids are mean and didn’t hold back when it came to insulting you. Not that they bought better gifts but they weren’t taught to appreciate and be grateful when receiving something. I however would’ve gotten a book on my head if I had shown any facial expressions that betrayed my gratitude when I received a gift. It’s just how I was raised.

I’d simply like to advise anyone who has a hard time giving gifts to difficult people to just not buy anything at all. A better option to go with is a bottle of wine around the holidays(if you do drink, I don’t) or something baked, or a board game for the entire family. Hell for birthdays give ’em a darn card. You might think me crass but I have good reason. I still do try to give gifts but it wrecks on my nerve thinking of how the person will receive it.

My reasons to hold this anti-gift giving campaign are shared below.

  1. Some people are just critical of everything. Even if they loved the gift, they don’t want to seem too enthusiastic so they’ll knock it a little bit. I am yet to understand everything about the way a human mind processes things.
  2. My gift didn’t cost enough. When I was in high school obviously I didn’t have a job and in the nineties and early 2000s things didn’t cost a lot so my allowance was near nil. They used to have these $10-$20 stores that sold a variety of gift items so I utilized what little I had tried to buy something small for everyone and by everyone I mean my closest family. I think that year, one cousin along with my siblings had something to say about the cost of their gifts. One gift even got left in my house because the person really didn’t care for it, or for my feelings. In my mid-teens it soiled whatever zeal I had for giving gifts out of the goodness of my heart.
  3. My gift wasn’t cool enough. Well obviously if you’re not super close to someone, you won’t know how to personalize a gift so you’ll generalize it. For example, socks or perfume. Well I saw the message loud and clear on their faces so I crossed them off my list. 🙂
  4. One gift isn’t enough. That sentence speaks for itself.
  5. My gift was given away. Can I just say that this happened more than once? Yes, it did. A decade and a half ago, I tried to save up to buy a silver bracelet for my friend. I wasn’t working and it was indeed difficult to ask my parents for it. I was excited that for the first time I was buying jewelry for someone and a bit costly so maybe they’d appreciate it. Well I was met by a nonchalant demeanor. The person wasn’t in the least bit enthusiastic or grateful. They just acted like they were too cool to receive a gift…..a gift that was hard to afford. A few weeks later, I saw my friend’s brother wearing it. Imagine my teenage heart being crushed!

Some people have a difficult time showing appreciation and gratitude as they feel it will make them somewhat less strong. I’ve also observed that some people wield large quantities of pride, and sometimes their ago might get in the way. All of this affects the way a person responds to receiving anything, not just presents but help or advice.

Thank you for reading!

xo Coffee Doll.

Having Your Kids Close In Age

Let me just start by saying I am in no way qualified to advise anyone on how to plan their lives. Whatever I post on my blog is either taken from experiences or my bottomless brain. In no shape or form is my opinion meant to disrespect anyone.

Now that we’ve got that covered…

This morning I saw a post somewhere on social media(I choose not to name or specify) about reasons to have your kids close in age and it was of a sarcastic and entertaining nature albeit some truth bombs were dropped. I’ve been planning to write about the downside of having kids close in age and by downside I don’t mean anything bad towards our little ones. It’s just overwhelming for people in different situations. This post is focused on the plus side of having kids close in age.

  1. They play together. I think this is the one we all look forward too. We want to get some things around the house done or cook a meal, even drink a cup of coffee in peace. When they enjoy each other’s company, you can get a minute or two to function elsewhere. It’s also a beautiful thing for me to experience because the age gaps between me and my siblings are a decade plus. Although my kids get into little fights over this or that I truly see and enjoy the camaraderie between them.
  2. They go to school together. When they are around the same age bracket eventually everyone will be in school within a few years of each other. If you plan on going back to work after all of your children are in school this might be easier than having to take leave from your job during the larger age gaps.
  3. They enjoy similar things. Both my kids think Chuck-e-Cheese is the greatest place on Earth (It’s really Target btw) and I’ve often felt like we hit two birds with one stone going there. Both kids have the time of their lives. I remember being dragged somewhere that wasn’t interesting to me when I was younger and I do feel like it’s something that’ll probably drive me crazy having to choose which kid to please on a particular day.
  4. I want to date my husband. My husband and I are the only caretakers that our children have and because of this, it’s hard to go on a date or get some alone time. I do feel like when the kids grow up together, we’ll eventually be able to do couple things again without having to worry about a younger child at home.
  5. I want to get rid of the baby stuff. After I had my first child, I knew right away I wanted another one, it was just a matter of time. After the second one, however, I didn’t feel the same. I knew that I was done having kids for the most part. My youngest is just shy of two and I cannot wait for her to be potty trained, I cannot wait to get rid of the last set of baby toys, items and clothes. One thing I had to do after the first baby was clutter my life to hold onto things that I’d have to use with a second child.

As always, thank you for reading and if you share any thoughts on the topic, feel free to drop me a line in the comments. Also, Have a great weekend 🙂

xo Coffee Doll

The Challenges of Writing Romance

I enjoy both reading, and writing in the romantic genre. I think my obsessions with a good romance started at an early age. The first trigger was Indian movies which I looked at quite a bit because of my mother and most of them were centered around romances. For some reason the library at my high school carried Mills and Boon novels and I fell into that very quickly. My fifteen year-old mind went places, if you know what I mean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mills and Boons, they are a set of romantic books published by it’s parent company, Harlequin Enterprises. Most of what I read was set in a historical period and till date I enjoy reading romances set in the far past. Not everyone enjoys romances or its sub genres but I do. I love a happy ending, flawed characters that grow, the essence of drama and love. I love it all. One of my favorite authors as an adult is actually Nora Roberts. She’s my hero when it comes to reading romance. Her books usually have strong characters and suspense or a little mystery so it dramatizes very well.

And because I enjoy this genre so much, a lot of ideas or plots that take birth in my head end up materializing into a romantic story. I have plotted and outlined so many of these romantic story lines and even though I can almost always see the ending, it’s hard to complete. It may seem like an easier genre to write compared to sci-fi, fantasy or crime fiction but it comes with it’s own challenges. If you run into similar problems or have any input, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments.

  1. Creating subplots. The template for most romance stories are similar. Boy meets girl or girl meets boy and they instantly click or click over time. The thing that would separate your story from another writer’s story is your subplots. Both or one of the main characters will need an issue to resolve.
  2. Repetition. Romances are a difficult genre to write because much of what we fantasize or dream about has already been written. It’s unnerving when you question every dialogue, every scene.
  3. Creating Interesting Characters. The earlier romances that I read had weaker female characters who suddenly came into thier own after finding love. In more recent times we see stronger female characters. I often find I write bland characters and need to make them do something drastic or have an annoying quality to appear more engaging to a reader.
  4. The Problem & Climax. Every book, romance or not needs a problem in order to reach the climax. The problem needs to be engaging and convincing enough for readers to want to get to the climax. I’m left doubting my work more than I would like to. The climax also has to be a suiting one. For example, not all love stories have a happily ever after ending. It all comes down to the fear I have of disappointing readers. I’ll talk more about that in a separate post why that’s not a great idea.
  5. Simple love or sexy love. When it comes to writing erotica, I’m still having a hard time. I am uncomfortable with writing intimate details, for the fact that I won’t allow my parents to read something with adult content. I’m also a sucker for back in the day romances…you know the kind with love letters and chivalry. It’s difficult when I sit down to write and all that’s playing in my head is “Clean or dirty.” I wish so many stories didn’t call for it, unfortunately it does.

Thank you for reading! xo Coffee Doll

Why I Started Blogging?

I’ve transferred my blog to WordPress in January of this year and started uploading content on it a bit more frequently than I did in the last three years. Yesterday I saw that I had reached fifty subscribers and I was completely bowled over. Fifty subscribers may not seem like much to a successful blogger but it means a great deal to me. When I had my first view, first subscriber and first comment, I felt the same…and that’s a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Why, you may ask. It’s simple. Writing is my passion…writing anything, and I am grateful even if I have one reader. I initially started blogging as a way to express myself freely, something I cannot do on social media. My opinions, thoughts and personality is always misconstrued on social media. Everyone gets offended by something even though it has nothing to do with them. Nobody respects anyone’s right to believe or think what they want anymore.

Blogging also gives my writing the longevity and archiving that it needs. I really wanted to write self-helping posts for people who were mainly dealing with depression, loneliness. I’ve dealt a great deal with depression and unhappiness when I was younger and I felt that maybe if I told my stories or shed light on the topic it might help someone else in the same situation.

As time progressed I wanted to write more…about relationships, parenting, lifestyle, books and all of that good stuff and I’m particularly better at writing down my thoughts than saying them to someone so I incorporated all of that into my blog. About two years ago, I started writing again. This time I went for constructed stories written in a novel format instead of poetry here and there, and shorter stories. So now writing is a big portion of what I have planned for my blog as well.

My main goal in taking this blog further is to help people, even if only to bring a smile to their faces. It’s similar to video blogging your life. In this case scenario I write about my journey…

XO

Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block

macbook-336704_1920Let me just start by saying these tips are what works for me and it may not work for you. I’m not going to use a textbook approach for writer’s block as you can find that almost anywhere on the web. This is what works for me and my lifestyle and I’m sharing it because it may be found to be useful at some point.

As I was ranting in my previous post about experiencing bouts of writer’s block, it dawned on me that I do have little ways of dealing with it.

Sleep. First and foremost sleep is essential. My days are so busy that when all is said and done, I can’t even manage to sit down and function in front of my laptop. I feel like I do write better when I get a good night’s rest, however far and few that may be.

Coffee. You know of coffee breaks, don’t you? Well I have coffee starts. A piping hot cup of energy elixir is what I need to put me in the right mind frame. It gives a burst of energy, a satisfied stomach and helps me to collect my thoughts.

Physical Activity. This is a given. Any form of physical activity whether it be walking, yoga or going to the gym will be beneficial. Getting your body worked up releases endorphins, that happy hormone. It reduces stress and you feel better about your life. I simply do walking, I just do a lot of it and random dancing in the kitchen with my kids.

Do not worry about the end product. This is a problem I faced early on. I felt like everything had to be perfect in one shot and then I ended up proof reading for a longer period that it took me writing the actual story. Just write, don’t worry about grammar or perfecting your format. You’ll get to that later. It’s important to just finish your first draft.

Leave the introduction until later. This is one of the bigger contributions to my writer’s block. I know what I want the story to be about and by the time I’ve figured out the ending, almost all of the book is completed in my head. But I do have issues with my introductions. I always feel like it’s not sounding right, nobody will be interested in reading the rest and I get stuck. I can get stuck for months at a time so I tried a different approach. Whatever I’m already sure of, I write. And leave the rest for later.

Write freely. This is similar to what I’ve said earlier. Just write without worrying about grammar, spelling or the story you’re working on. You’ll be able to produce raw material that’d be useful later on as well as gear yourself up for continuing to write your book. I write freely on this blog. Much of it makes no sense, it’s like a journal. It’s like a little break in between life to offload thoughts an ideas.

Do not write for readers. I am still struggling with this one. I read reviews of other books in my genre of writing, looking for ways that readers criticize stories. Whenever I write an organic piece, I sometimes feel as if a reader might not appreciate it, maybe laugh about it and I tend to rewrite a lot and get stuck of course. This takes away from your creativity, your uniqueness. Just write what you know, what you feel. It doesn’t matter if people aren’t hopping to get to your work. Self satisfaction is key. Getting your story done according to your eyes is key.

Get rid of distractions. In other words, get rid of your kids. Just kidding! On a serious note, when you do decide to sit and write, do not be distracted. If your thoughts are elsewhere, you won’t do your best work. You need to stay focused. My children distract me a lot hence I mostly write when they’re asleep at night. Another distraction is social media. The time really flies when you’re scrolling and scrolling, losing all thoughts, just looking at memes and laughing. So when you’re about to write, stay away from your phone.

Write on pen and paper. I can really stare at a screen and get nothing done, for hours. What helps sometimes is to revert to our traditional methods of pen and paper. You’d be surprised at how your thoughts flow.

Timing. Some of us think better on mornings, some at night. Figure out when you write at your best and utilize it.

Don’t over plan. I thrive on not over planning. It creates pressure and I cave. I never get anything done on time anyway. Your story speaks to you. Write it with flow as it comes.

Leave it. When you’re stuck, just get up and walk away for a minute. I can walk away for weeks at a time to catch my bearings. Sometimes you need to reconnect with what inspired the story initially to be able to write it in a flow.

Sleep/Dream Writing. So this is something I do. Before I sleep is one of the times I really plot my story and put together dialogues for my characters. I often dream of my characters and even if I don’t, I wake up with a refreshing realization of where my story should go next.

Read. Not reviews as I mentioned before. Every writer is a reader first. It’s where we first connected with our passion to tell stories. So read. The language of different authors helps your words to flow freely.

xo Coffee Doll

Image: Pixabay.com