My name is Margarita (oh, the jokes I heard in middle school), but you can call me Maggie. I love writing, and I guess I've been writing most of my life. I remember being really little and recording stories into a tape recorder. That's how obsessed I was!

I have an English degree from UCLA, and I've written for a bunch of magazines and websites. You can find almost all of my articles here: Note how I said almost, because I've written a bunch of articles under a pen name. Which shall remain a secret. *smirk*

I'm currently a freelance writer and private tutor who is working on several YA novels, including an urban fantasy and two contemporaries. I hope to be published by the time I'm thirty, and I can really hear that clock ticking! Seriously, I'm sitting next to a clock right now, and it is LOUD. 

Anywho, this is my blog where I will talk about my journey on the dark and lonely (kidding! Or am I?) road to publication. I love to meet and talk to other aspiring writers so feel free to friend me or send me a private message. 

Happy writing!

The fear of sucking is back

I haven't really worked on my novel in a few weeks. It feels like I haven't worked on it in years. I wrote a few sentences today, but I feel like that doesn't count. I WANT to work on it; I have that desire still, but it won't translate into actual writing. I don't think I have writer's block. I actually do have plenty of ideas, but there's this weird anxiety keeping me from writing. I just feel like it's going to suck, and I've battled this fear before but just because you've battled it before doesn't mean it won't come back.

The fear of sucking is definitely the most crippling thing a writer can face, in my opinion. I'm definitely done with giving myself deadlines--that just doesn't work for me. Sometimes I think deadlines make me work even more slowly. 

I don't know if I should force myself to write, or if I should just wait and let it come to me naturally.

I also recently started using Scrivener to organize my writing, and I realized that my climax comes around chapter 20, which just seems like it's way too late. I either have to shorten some of the earlier chapters, or move the climactic part closer to the middle part of the book. I have 70,000 words written before anything really major happens. That's crazy! I don't know if there's a rule for this but I feel like it shouldn't take you more than 50,000 words to get to the exciting stuff. I don't know. It just feels like I'm making the reader wait too long. 

I wish I could take that little pill that the guy in the movie Limitless takes and just finish my novel in less than a week.


I got a new job!

I got a new job writing for a very popular celebrity blog (I can't tell you which one. It's not that I'd have to kill you if I did; it's just that I might be the one getting killed). 

ANYWAY, I'm super psyched! Today was my first day, and I'm so grateful that I'm going to be writing every single day (I wrote in my last job as well, but it was more of a technical type of writing, although I did learn a lot and am grateful for it), and getting paid! 

I joked to my friend that sometimes it seems like I was born to write about celebrities. I love low-brow stuff! I love gossip and scandal and pictures of celebrities walking around with giant sunglasses on their faces. (I also love high-brow stuff, but that's a different post). 

I also finally figured out how to fix this short story I'd been sort of struggling with for the last few months. I scrapped the entire first draft and started anew. Just yesterday alone I wrote almost 1,600 new words (1,598 to be exact). It's weird because even though writing can be stressful sometimes, it also somehow manages to calm me down. It's both stressful and soothing at the same time, and that's probably why I love it so much.



I am the slowest writer in the world

August 2009 -- I began working on my WIP Tainted Frost (though it didn't have a title yet)
March 2010 -- Finished the first draft; hated it and started rewriting the whole thing from scratch.
August 2011 -- Finished the second draft; began working on third draft.
Present day -- Still working on third draft. It's been over a year now. 

The hilarious thing is that I expected to give my third draft to beta readers last year because I thought I would only have a few things to tweak and change. But once I started the tweaking, I made so many changes that I'm still about five chapters away from finishing the third draft. And I bet that when I'm "done" I still won't be done-done, because there will be new ideas I want to add and dialogue to tweak and blah blah blah just shoot me already.

Will I ever be finished?

One good and sort of weird thing is that I'm still not sick of my novel. But, still! I wish I was a bit faster. I feel like any other writer could've written three books in the time that it's taking me to write this one. How do they do that? I can't even begin to imagine.

To be honest, I don't write every single day, but I write most days. However, even on those days I might only get a few hundred words down. Most of my writing time is spent staring off into space and thinking, which may or may not result in one sentence that I actually want to keep. Then the next day I wake up and have new ideas and want to completely change the last scene I wrote. Gah.

You'd think that after spending all this time on my WIP that it's perfectly polished and awesome and masterful, but it's not! It's probably still kind of mediocre. That's the one thing that bothers me most, because I wonder if I'm even improving. The whole situation is giving me so much angst that I decided not to think about publication as an end-goal anymore and to just write because I enjoy it. 

My new deadline (and I've had like 10 deadlines already this year) is to finish the third draft by the end of the year. Fingers crossed, but don't be surprised if I write another entry like this one in January. 

This is what it feels like when a dream comes true

I got back from my Alaska trip a week ago, and I have to say, the trip really exceeded my expectations. Maybe it helps that I had rather low expectations, because my anxiety prevents me from ever thinking that something is going to be great. Nevertheless, I had such a magical time that I can't stop thinking about it, and every time I do think about it, I smile to myself. Like a crazy person.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I went on this trip by myself. I was completely alone in a place I had never been and it was both frightening and exhilarating. Originally, I had planned to go with my cousin, but she had to cancel. Then, my best friend said she would love to come, but she ended up having other plans. I was depressed for about a week. My mom felt sorry for me and said that she would come with me. I tried to bribe everyone I knew to come. And then I just decided that I was going to go by myself, and screw everybody else. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. 

A few days before my trip I was pretty terrified, but it was too late to get a refund and I wasn't about to lose $1,500, so I sucked it up and got on the plane and flew to Alaska and then I was just like: OH. MY GOD. !@#$%^&

I arrived in Sitka, a small town of approx. 8,800 inhabitants, that is actually an island, surrounded by a bunch of really tiny islands. It is gorgeous and quaint and cozy and just spectacular. I don't even have words for how awesome it is. I remember walking around and looking at all the pastel-colored wooden houses and the gray water of the harbor and the red and white lighthouse and thinking: This is what it feels like when a dream comes true. 

I had dreamt of going to Alaska for so long, and I was finally there, and it was a bajillion times better than I imagined. I did a bunch of stuff I had never done before, and I did them all alone. I was actually amazed at my ability to just go for it. I've always traveled with other people, and I think that you never really know what you're made of, and what you're capable of, until you travel alone. I had to conquer a lot of fears, like just going up to strangers and asking them stuff, or eating alone like a loser (eating alone is actually really great and I never felt like a loser; after a few days I actually preferred it), or looking like a lonely, pathetic creature who couldn't find anybody to travel with. But I prevailed. For the first time in a long time, I didn't care what people thought of me, and I ended up doing so much more than I've ever done when I've traveled with friends or family. I went hiking and kayaking for the first time. I explored the whole city on my own. I struck up conversations with locals and tourists. It honestly felt like a life-changing experience. I don't know that I actually "found myself" on this trip, like a character out of a novel, but I can honestly say that I returned from that trip a little different than before I'd left. I just feel a lot more fearless now. 

Okay, without further ado, here are some pictures:


I'm going to Alaska!!!!

In a month! Yay!!

If you read this blog at all, then you probably know that my current WIP, Tainted Frost, is set in a small town in Alaska. Why? Several reasons...

1) I've always been fascinated by Alaska. It's gorgeous, it's wild, it's scary, it's awesome. It's basically the last frontier after Antarctica, and I've always wanted to explore it.

2) My story is a fantasy, and because so much is unknown about Alaska, it seemed like the perfect setting for a story in which weird and sort of spooky things happen.

3) I needed a cold and remote setting for my story, and voila, Alaska!

4) I needed a place with some Russian influence that wasn't actually Russia...Alaska!

5) Not a lot of YA novels are set in Alaska so that's cool. Alaska!!!!

Anyway, I'm really excited because I'll get to have an awesome vacation, go to a place I've always wanted to visit, AND do research for my WIP. It's win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say. So far all I've done to prepare is buy a Polaroid camera. You probably think that's weird, but I got so tired of storing all my digital photos on my laptop and never looking at them that I decided to buy a camera that instantly printed all the pictures you took. Hence, the Polaroid purchase. The pictures are the size of a credit card and they're so fun! I plan on making a collage of all the pictures I take in Alaska and putting it up on my wall for inspiration. 

As for my research, I plan on taking a bunch of tours and wandering around and just absorbing everything. I might even go hiking. I've never actually been hiking in my life. I don't even own a pair of sneakers, or whatever kind of footwear people usually hike in. I'm not at all an outdoorsy person so I hope I don't die. Not dying is definitely high on my list of things to do in Alaska. 

I also plan on talking to the local librarians because I recently read somewhere that if you have questions about a particular city, your best bet is to ask the local librarian. Not sure how true that is, but I intend to find out. I would also love to have some conversations with local teenagers to get an idea of what their lives are like, but I hope they don't get freaked out by the weirdo with a Polaroid asking them what they do for fun. 

I probably won't tell people that I'm doing research for a book because then they'll undoubtedly ask me what my book is about, and I still can't quite articulate what my book is about without sounding like a huge, stuttering dork. 

No matter what though, I know it's going to be a great adventure. 

No regrets

I wrote a short piece for this online magazine that I love a few months ago. After I submitted it, I felt giddy with confidence. Of course they would love this piece. How could they not? It was magical. 

I waited patiently for the response, already envisioning what they would say and how enthusiastically they would praise my piece. I checked my email obsessively for the next two weeks. After a month had passed, I stopped expecting anything. It's been about three months now and I'm sure I'll never hear from them. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that my piece was rejected. 

The thing is, though, I really don't care! I mean, I do care, obviously. I wish they had loved it and published it, but I don't regret spending three days working on my piece, making it as perfect as possible. I don't regret all the time I spent on it, I don't regret submitting it and I would do it all again in a heartbeat even knowing they wouldn't publish it. I enjoyed writing it, and I don't think of the time I spent on it as time wasted. I believe that I learn something from every sentence that I write, and that I improve my writing skills each time, even if it's by such a small degree that it's not even noticeable. 

I hear people often lamenting the time that they "wasted" on something. Mostly it has to do with relationships, like: I can't believe I wasted four years of my life on that jerk! And variations thereof. I always want to say, "It's not a waste!" Just because something doesn't turn out exactly the way you wanted it to does not mean that you wasted your time. I've been working on my WIP for almost three years, and I never feel that if I don't get published that I will have wasted years of my life. I'm growing and learning every day as a writer and that's nothing to regret at all.
marilyn reading

Please help spread the word!

I've been reading Francesca Lia Block's work since I was 12 years old. No other author has ever been able to capture the light and darkness, the magic and gritty realism of my hometown, Los Angeles, so perfectly. Weetzie Bat and I Was A Teenage Fairy were the first books I ever bought of hers and I still have the original (they're about 15 years old now) copies in my bookcase. I know that I will treasure them forever. About two years ago I had the honor of meeting Francesca during a one-day writing retreat in her home, The Faerie Cottage, as it is known to many. It's not always a good experience when you meet your heroes, but Francesca was as sweet, humble, intelligent and generous as I had imagined her to be. 

Just a few days ago I found out that she is having trouble refinancing her home, and is in danger of losing it, despite never having missed a payment. You can help spread the word and put pressure on Bank of America to refinance the Faerie Cottage by signing this petition:

It will only take a few seconds. Please help Francesca keep her home, and if you've never read her work before, I highly recommend you check out some of her books immediately. My top two favorites are I Was A Teenage Fairy and Wasteland.