Reno's blog.

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available in 2018!

Detours

Life sent me on a detour the last 6 months. I ran for political office and the results didn’t go my way. You can see this journey at http://renoursalforassessor.com.

What. A. Ride.

With the results determined, I can finish the revisions my editor has been waiting patiently for me to submit.

Enlightenment will no longer be ignored. My writing swag is now back on.

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Filed under: Writing

Thanksgiving 2017

Spending Thanksgiving in Washington State gives me a chance to reflect on the blessings in my life.

My kids. My wife. My family. I am a very fortunate soul.

Family. Everyone uses this word to describes those close to them. Perhaps some use “framily” to be inclusive of both family and friends. Many people have more than one framily based on work or hobbies one is interested in.

The harsh reality of using the word “family” for blood relatives doesn’t translate in how close you are in spirit and mind. You hear about sibling rivalries and parent/child conflicts all the time. What is family? It means different things to different people.

For me, it’s confusing. There are so many relatives I don’t know around the world. I have many relatives I’ve grown close to, only to grow apart. Hardly any family calls or texts just to check up on how I’m doing, yet have friends who do. I’m sure I also need to reach out more. Life relationships are a two way street.

There have been times where I feel I’ve reached out to family but didn’t receive any reciprocation. Then we drift… but I guess we are all drifting through time, only allowing time to briefly stop during birthdays, graduations, childbirths, weddings, funerals and holidays.

So here it is. Thanksgiving 2017. And I feel thankful. Happy. Sad.

Whatever your definition for family or framily, I hope you’re with people you can be yourself and not feel like you’re being judged. I hope you don’t get caught up in Black Friday!

Be safe and look out for more updates on “Enlightenment!”

Filed under: Writing

The Last Remaining

The first working title for “Enlightenment” was “The Last Remaining.” The evolution of a novel.

Filed under: Writing,

Tell your story

I’ve learned it’s okay to tell your story. Although this seems like a simple concept, it never was for me. I had to be silent most of my life in order to fit in to the environment I was surrounded by. I felt no one would understand how important it was to me to be both Filipino and American.

I was never quite American enough. Or Filipino enough. I was in between. Midwest Americans didn’t see me as a Midwesterner. Filipinos silently disapproved I didn’t speak Tagalog.

I’m still in between, but more creative types are coming out of the woodwork who have experienced this “feeling.” I can tell by their art. I attended my first Fil Am Creative Event on Friday 11/10/2017 and saw short films with Filipino American perspectives.

I was laughing, crying and covering my eyes during the screenings. Mostly, I sighed in relief for the first time since I was on set of “The Debut” film years ago, a film that focused on 1st generation vs. 2nd generational conflict. To see a slew of short films from all these talented Filipino American filmmakers and actors who are expressing themselves through art is what should have happened years ago. What happened after the Debut? Everyone has an opinion, but now…finally…there is a valid literary and theatrical Filipino American movement.

This year, the novel by Melissa De La Cruz “Somewhere in Between” gives credence to identifying as both Filipino and American. More Filipino American novels are being released by Arkipelago Books in SF. And my novel “Enlightenment” is being released in 2018.

“Enlightenment is a Filipino American novel tied to the history of our people prior to the Spanish arrival in the Philippines. This is a story I was afraid of while I was writing it. I was afraid of people’s reactions to the novel’s inclusion of both Christian and Islamic historical ties to the islands. I was afraid my Filipino American writing perspective would be considered invalid.

But now all these years after first penning this novel and literally burning the midnight oil while working a full time job, starting and running a 501c3 youth basketball program and raising a family, the novel is at its final edits. And hopefully, this is the first of many stories I’m no longer afraid to tell.

Thank you to all the Filipino American writers, directors, actors and organizers who are telling their stories.

You inspire me.

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, , , ,

Humabon vs. Lapu Lapu

On our most recent trip to the Philippines, we visited Magellan’s cross in Cebu City. That’s my beautiful mother and daughters in front of the cross.

The Philippines is the only Christian majority country in SE Asia. The Spanish expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu in 1521. He successfully converted King Humabon to Christianity, but was killed by Lapu Lapu’s tribe who refused to convert. But convert from what? Buddhism? Islam?

Upon visits and research, I believe Lapu Lapu was Muslim. Why? The Philippines wasn’t called the Philippines prior to the Spanish. Islam kingdoms in Brunei and China had trade with these islands later called the Philippines. Safe to say, history prior to the Spanish is hard to decipher.

My series The Bathala Series is a fictional series predicated on the history of the Philippines prior to Spanish colonization. The first book “Enlightenment” is told from the perspective of Dorothy and Adrian in modern-day Las Vegas. We start with the modern-day Filipino American and work back in time as Dorothy backtracks through Filipino history to answer questions about Adrian and her family.

“Enlightenment” to be released in 2018. #nohistorynoself #knowhistoryknowself #filipinoamericanmonth

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing

Enlightenment

I can’t think of a better time to announce this than during #filipinoamericanmonth!

Introducing the book cover for my debut novel “Enlightenment: Book One of the Bathala Series”.

Set in modern day Las Vegas, 18 year old Dorothy Dizon’s life takes an exciting turn when the alluring Adrian Rosario peaks her curiosity with knowledge of obscure Filipino folklore. Adrian keeps his identity and the truth of Dorothy’s father’s disappearance hidden knowing she has already embarked on a supernatural journey tied to her Filipino ancestry. Together, they struggle through an emotional ride that only their heritage can explain.

After years of burning the midnight oil, it’s finally going to be released to the world. I hope this will be considered a meaningful contribution to #filipinoamericanliterature #filipinoamericanlit #youngadultbooks #youngadultfiction #youngadult #yabooks

I’m humbled and excited to announce this novel will be released as an ebook and in print in 2018. Exact format release dates to be announced soon! Any forthcoming book events also to be announced soon.

Filed under: Writing, , ,

Filipino American representation

Love this blog post about Filipino American representation in media! Check out Racheywrites!

Filed under: Writing

Las Vegas

I was supposed to start October with an enthusiastic post about Filipino American Month. Then Las Vegas happened. It would be wrong to post anything joyous when so many people were killed for no reason other than madness. It’s been a week and only now do I feel it’s appropriate.

Las Vegas affected us all and it will take a while to heal. For me, I’m starting to transition into things that serve as a diversion from the reality of the world we live in. Although October is Filipino American Month, it’s a celebration that flies so below the radar, not all Filipinos recognize it. Those entrenched in the movement always do, but most high school kids don’t even know. It’s so very sad to me, but it’s up to us to change it.

I plan to post more Filipino American Month appropriate content in the next few days, including the cover of my debut novel to be released in January 2018. More to follow…

…and remember to #prayforVegas.

 

Filed under: Writing

Being Enlightened

Why is my debut novel entitled “Enlightenment?”

The word “Enlightenment” conjures up images of 17th and 18th century Europe when philosophers of that time used rationale thought in interpreting human beings relationship with God. Deism took hold which encompassed a diversity of people from various religious beliefs.

Translate this Age of Enlightenment to modern times, I feel we are at a similar crossroads. In my opinion, the world is in another Age of Enlightenment where social media has emboldened people to give their opinions on all things celebrity, religion and politics. Each community uses technology to organize, using their sense of reason to accomplish their common goal. But within this new age of enlightenment, there is sometimes confusion behind the rhetoric of leaders in our communities, religious faiths and countries.

In this new Age of Enlightenment, individuals look for a connection to their past to help rationalize who they are today. As a Filipino American writer, I’ve looked to see how my homeland, the Philippines, has shaped who I am. Within this personal journey, I’ve come across revelations about the history of the Philippines that has been nearly forgotten.

Pre-Hispanic Philippines.

There is a resurgence of educators around the world who have looked at this ambiguous time period. The Spanish colonized in the Philippines in 1565 after native Cebuanos fought off Magellan in 1521. Many natives beliefs were transformed into Christian beliefs which over time, has made the Philippines (named after King Phillip of Spain) a predominantly Christian nation. These are things many people know already.

But many historian and educators are still assembling historical pieces of the Philippines prior to the Spanish arrival. What was the Philippines like in the 1100’s? 1200’s? 1300’s?

It is educated conjecture.

My Bathala Series delves into this setting in a hopefully entertaining story centered around a Filipino American eighteen year-old girl in modern times unaware of her homeland family lineage. The first book, Enlightenment, is told from her very American perspective as she connects the dots to extraordinary and supernatural realities of the past.

And I am so excited to announce it will be released in January 2018. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for its success.

 

Filed under: Writing

Enlightenment

I ask this question to any debut novelist: Is traditional publishing worth it if you are not a celebrity or established writer?  My experience has proven having stories built around Filipino American protagonists is not supported by the Big 5 publishers and not compelling for the majority of literary agents. I understand agents approach any new author with skepticism, yet sometimes I wonder if the ancestry of my characters plays a role. Perhaps it’s my writing…duh! But then I wonder if there’s something else.

There are exceptions such as “Somewhere In Between” by Melissa de la Cruz, yet I wonder if this title is considered a big seller compared to the Descendent books? There are other Filipino writers published by traditional publishers; Mia Alvar. Jessica Hagedorn. Tess Uriza Holthe. I admire them beyond imagination!

Perhaps I don’t see the full landscape. I’m a minnow swimming in the dark seas of the world of publishing, but I notice anytime I state my characters are Filipino American, the agents and fellow writers I talk to seem uncomfortable. As in the excitement dissipates and I’m left wondering  if I should follow the numerous suggestions by the literary “professionals” to change my characters to white, black or Hispanic.

Yet I refuse because being Filipino American is my voice, my being, the only perspective I know. Yes, I want to sell to a mainstream audience, but I’m hoping my stories themes are universal enough to attract readers of all backgrounds.

I guess I’ll find out shortly. My debut novel “Enlightenment” will be released at the start of 2018.  The book’s cover is complete and will debut on my Instagram renowrites during Filipino American month.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

 

 

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, ,