Saturday, January 16, 2021

How Chadwick Boseman changed my 2020

Truth be told, I like quarantine. I didn't anticipate it to last for 10 months (and counting) but being an introvert and an overwhelmed mommy, staying indoors is a relief. I didn't have to rush rush rush anymore. My rushing about wasn't pointless, even though I seemed like a headless chicken most days. There are always errands and chores and deadlines for a working mama. There is always something urgent. Always something to do. There were so many days I would slowly sink into a chair and realize this was the first time I sat down that day.

So when quarantine happened, I was determined to sit down and even lie down for as long as possible. For once, I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to stay put and enjoy staying put. I wanted to do nothing and be nothing. 

If that sounded lazy and selfish, well, maybe it was. But I had spent the last 10 years getting pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, teaching, feeding, caring, giving and giving and giving, you know? I just wanted to rest. And from out of nowhere, a pandemic happened and I can finally get the rest I wanted.

I was actually quite happy. Then Chadwick Boseman died. Black Panther. King of Wakanda. And apparently one of the wisest, most beloved and admired in Hollywood. I wasn't really a fan. I liked Black Panther, sure. I think it and the first Iron Man movies are the best in that Marvel movieverse. Otherwise, I didn't really have any reason to mourn his passing. But people kept sharing his words and this one hit me in the chest:


"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything You gave me.'"

I used everything You gave me. 

It made me want to stop lazing about! I thought of what my talents and skills are and if I'm using them well. I realized very quickly that I wasn't. I was in a selfish, lazy mode. I was also in insecure, I'm-a-nobody-anyway, I'm-just-a-mom, poor-me mode. 

But Chadwick's words stirred awake that little girl who dreamed of changing the world. And yes I may be no one important but that's just my ego talking. Anyone - big or small - can make a difference, big or small. God gave all of us talents and skills. Some seem to have gotten a big chunk, sure, but what matters is what we do with what God gave us. And I've learned that when you put yourself out there and use what you got, people will pay attention, they will help, and you will learn more and gain more. So even if God gave you maybe one little talent, it will help you gain more skills and opportunities just as long as you keep using your talent!

The Bible literally has a story on talents working this way, except that in that parable, a talent is a form of currency worth 16 years of daily wages. In Matthew 25:14-30, the story goes that a rich man was going off on a trip. He gave one of his servants 5 talents, a second one 2 talents, and a third servant just 1 talent. Why the unfair distribution of talents? Well, his criteria were he'd give according to their ability to do what they can with the money. Well, the first two servants used the money given them for business and their investments grew. The last guy was too scared he'd lose the money so he just hid it. Of course, when they had to give an accounting of the money, the rich boss got mad at the servant who didn't do anything with the talent.

So there I was, on my butt, hiding my talent because I was feeling boo-hoo, I'm a nobody, why write when no one cares about what I have to say. But Chadwick, my man, you may not know me but what you said made me sit up and stand up. And I decided then and there that I'm going to write and teach and fight and sing (lost that talent already actually) and discover all the good things God gave me and use them all for the good of mankind and for His glory. 

And that's why I'm writing thought pieces for Project Vanity, why I decided to blog mindfully, why I'm being more mindful of my decisions this year, and why I wrote a book. Life is so unsure now, what with that COVID-19 threatening our every breath. So we'd better do what we have to do with whatever time that's given us. 

I hope this story galvanizes you, too! Let's get off our ass, stop feeling insecure, and just use whatever God gave us and make a good change in this brokenhearted world. We all need to make life just a bit better, just a bit kinder, softer, sweeter, wiser. Let's use everything He gave us. God bless you, my friend! 

P.S. Taylor Swift was an inspiration, too! Two albums within months. If she could do something productive in lockdown, I was determined to do the same!


Friday, January 15, 2021

Dream come true! Not Invisible: A Memoir

 Way back in 2006, I blogged about a little dream in this post: What I think about on a slow Sunday evening. Six years later, I brought it up again in  My bookstore haul and mentioned it very quickly in Photo dump!. I dreamed of coming out with my own book, it will be published, of course, and hopefully loved by people enough to buy it and tell others about it.

This week, that dream came true. Please check out my new book, Not Invisible: A Memoir!!!


I shared the good news yesterday over at my social media that it's real - I am now a book author!


Okay, I don't know why my book came out in the Educator Biography category. It's not entirely inaccurate, given that I used to be a preschool teacher and I'm homeschooling now hahaha. But it should be under Parenting and Relationships. I'll ask my publisher, Ukiyoto, about that. 

And today, this happened:

#1 New Release

#8 Best Seller in Biographies of Educators

#13 in Two-Hour Biography and Memoir Short Reads

I am thrilled beyond words! All the words that I can manage now are "Thank you!", "Thank you so much!", "I'm crying!" and "God bless you!" Everyone's been so kind and encouraging, thrilled with me and for me. I am so grateful.

Not Invisible: A Memoir is a collection of the best posts from Topaz Horizon and Topaz Mommy. The latter is not accessible to the public anymore but for this book, I went back to that beloved blog and picked out a few essays. So if you've never read Topaz Mommy or you did and you miss it, please buy my book!

After selecting the best posts on marriage and motherhood, I realized that it wasn't a simple task to just put them all together. They had to make sense together, to have a consistent thread, and to flow well. That was not easy. I took out half of the text! From 40,000 words, I went down to 22,000. I edited and rewrote it all for print. Online writing is different, you see. I wanted the print version to read like a book, not a blog. So now many of the posts chosen for the book read like entirely new essays! 

I was also aware that readers of the book will be people who may never have heard of me. So I had to pay attention and make sure there was no reference that only made sense to Loyal Readers or people who know me. And while it's still very much about my life as a Pinay mommy, it also had to appeal to an international audience. Making this book wasn't easy (check out a behind-the-scenes scene)

So I assure you, if you are a Loyal Reader, that you may have read many of the posts on the blog but they are quite different in the book. Much better actually because now they're edited mercilessly! I want you to know that Not Invisible is a wonderful collection! Look at what my editor said:


I also had the help of my most favorite editors, Kat Dy Peters, Nicole Romero Vagner, and my most favorite editor of all, my husband, the Vincent Sales! Having four published books under his belt (fiction), his opinion was valued. In fact, I was a little scared to show him my work haha. On one hand, he's my husband so I'm sure he'll be kind. On the other hand, he's one of the best writers, editors, and authors I know so I was intimidated. 

I also asked my Loyal Readers to help me out! I sent out a few "help me!" messages and the response of encouragement and excitement wowed me. They were even more excited than I was! It was crazy haha Their excitement was what I needed to keep working on the book even though I was plagued with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Ugh. I hate that imposter syndrome. So thank you, dear Loyal Readers, for helping me get rid of it! 

A dream only comes true with the help of others. I am so grateful to everyone who's helped me out, especially my friends and readers who asked me every year, "When are you coming out with your book?" That constant faith means the world! Look at where their faith got me!

And since we're on the topic of faith, I do want to share that last year, I was praying to God, "What do you want me to do? I feel like I have a book inside me but I don't know how that's going to happen and if it will ever get published." I kept praying about it and then, out of the blue, Ukiyoto Publishing, a traditional publisher in Canada, sent me an email, said they loved my blog, and asked me to submit a manuscript. Ukiyoto had just set shop in South East Asia and wanted to publish regional authors. And the rest of the story is above!

So I need to end this happy post with words that aren't my own but ring true now more than ever:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

"I will give thanks to You, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 9:1

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever." Psalms 118:29

* * * * * * *

Not Invisible: A Memoir is available as an ebook on Amazon/Kindle for USD 2.99. (Click here to buy!). It's also available as a paperback for USD 7. If you're from Manila, Amazon's shipping fee is crazy. I'm working out a pre-order plan from the Ukiyoto Singapore office. If you'd like to pre-order, please send an email to frances@topazhorizon.com with "Pre-order: Not Invisible" on the subject line. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Who's the best match for Daphne Bridgerton: Duke of Hastings, Prince of Prussia, or Baron Berbrooke?

Sorry sorry! I know I have a 30-Day Blogging Challenge but I was derailed by Netflix's Bridgerton. Who's watching??? 


Such a fun show. It's like Gossip Girl. I hear it's right down Downton Abbey alley, too, but I haven't watched that show so I won't know. I love the modern touches. The Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish songs in 19th century settings. The obviously modern high heels with sumptuous gowns. 

Anyway! This isn't going to be a review haha. I'm an absolute royalty nerd so I was a little annoyed at one thing. The issue of peerage. 

Just a note on peerage. There was a scene where Lady Gossip Girl said Daphne traded up by choosing the Prince from Prussia vs the Duke of Hastings. Not quite.

A duke is a title just under king. The peerage goes like so:

1. King or Queen

2. Duke or Duchess

3. Marquess or Marchioness

4. Earl or Countess

5. Viscount or Viscountess

6. Baron or Baroness

A prince, meanwhile, is a title that simply means the son of a king. So unless Prince from Prussia is the heir to the throne, he's basically just a rich brat with no future and no real money of his own (think Prince Harry, Andrew, Edward). If you're a prince, you want to be a duke! That's why on their wedding day,  Queen Elizabeth II gifted William the Duke of Cambridge title and Harry the Duke of Sussex title. Before their dukedoms, they were literally just COOs or "child of the owner".


So again, the only prince who matters is the heir to the throne. And since Prince of Prussia said he planned to stay in London to raise his family, he is obviously not the heir.

Also, side note on Daphne's brother, Anthony, marrying her off to Nigel Berbrooke. That made no sense at all. Anthony is Viscount Bridgerton. Berbrooke is just a baron, a title lower than theirs. It's a terrible match because Daphne would've married below their status. So ridiculous. 


Which means the Duke of Hastings is the best choice. He has the better title, his own land, his own money, and - with no siblings - absolutely no one else to share all that fortune with. And if the Queen in the show has no children (and it doesn't look like she does), Hastings has a chance at the throne. Well, all the dukes in the kingdom will, er, duke it out first but he definitely has a chance. Which means Daphne has a chance to be Queen. So Hastings is the right choice.

That's all!