It’s no secret: I’m a rambler, I love long stories, and if you’d let me narrate all the good things that happened in 2017, this keyboard is going to burn and I’d lose my fingers. And so, in order to save the economy of words, I’d like to keep it short and sweet.

→ Read my monthly posts instead:

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember

I have 17 Things in 2017, a list of nice little victories I celebrated all throughout the year. And no, it doesn’t have to be just me. If you’re ready to take the dive, I’m ready to babble away; in no particular order, my favorite 2017 things are:

#1: Finished (a nearest-to-perfect version of) SALTFOLK

Ah, SALTFOLK — the pride of my heart, the (silly, cheesy) story I have been attempting to write for years without direction, without motivation. on 2016, I embarked on this project just for fun, just to have it finished. On 2017, I was writing intentionally. I want it published. I want it out in the world. And today, after many heartbreaking revelations and revisions, I am finally on solid ground. This current version is full Filipino with musical and historical lineage, and despite it less magic and more slice-of-life, I am looking forward to inviting readers to my world, our world, the Philippines, and hope they like what they see.

 #2: Courageous & Meek on the web

That’s right, folks! I have ANOTHER website! And I bought it out of impulse, just because of one sleepless night when a thought — and a couple of words — kept turning in my head. I do regret not taking care of it, but I do not regret buying it. For one, Jedrek Rodriguez had his wonderful authorial debut here, and two, I’m thinking of rebranding it next year to be a creative studio!

#3: 1001 Knights books are printed!

Remember 1001 Knights? The amazing feminist anthology made by botanical-illustrating-wonder Kevin Jay Stanton and Sony art director Annie Stoll? IT’S PRINTED. And my box is heading this way, to the Philippines, where a few people will get hold of these very rare books. I already know what book I’m in: TEAM COURAGE, baby! And I am so, so honored to have two of my poems included in the volume.

#4: Improved on my art

I just realized that if you keep drawing and drawing, and looking and looking, your art will improve. Mine did. You could see that on Caris Creates, my Instagram art account. I don’t know about you, but I think my calligraphy improved, and I made better color choices. Oops! Some of the art are archived, so I guess it’s not that obvious?

Also: I’ve made FREE PHONE WALLPAPERS! Yes! You can download a bunch on this page,

#5: Spoke to at least 3 events this year

Those three events are SIUMC’s Sunday afternoon Youth Service, AUMC’s U-Turn, and our local church’s Simbang Gabi.

#6: Got more clients for my freelance copywriting stint

When your old clients vouch for you to work for their friend’s copywriting needs, you must have done something good. That’s what happened to me this year. I got to work with some amazing brands, including KydraPaddle & Dabble, Australian Lifestyle Brands, Affnyt and Radice. I also got to make author accounts on Tales by Trees, The Vacationeur and World Without Horizon.

#7: I made a lot of old people smile (randomly)!

Yikes! I have been found out. My brother can attest to this: I have a soft spot for old people, and whenever I meet one that stirs my heart, one way or another, I’d bless them. I think those random encounters were mostly in the jeep; at the back of my head, I want to give them a miracle out of nowhere so that they’d believe that kindness still exists, and that there’s God looking after their needs. I’m thankful to be a channel of blessings.

#8: Kept track of my dreams (and hope the good ones will come true)

This Twitter Moment is an archive of this year’s weird dreams.

#9: Wrote the draft of SALAMANCA ZERO for NaNoWriMo

Just for the fun of it, and since every writer is doing it, I wrote a story for NaNoWriMo. Of course, I cheated. No way am I going to finish 40k words in a month just for the sake of it! But I drafted the main plot, enjoyed the characters, and I think this is going to be a lovely pitch, for it has The Secret Garden + Howl’s Moving Castle + Harry Potter elements in it. My hero is a PWD! And yes, I’ve got talking animal guardians here. Stay tuned.

#10: Joined 3 pitching events this year

I learned about pitching events on Twitter just this April, when#DVPit magically appeared on my timeline, and I got out of my bed and submitted a pitch right then and there. Yes, folks, that’s me. And I got 11 likes and a few comments for my manuscript. It wasn’t ripe then, but that’s when I decided to learn more about the goings-on, and intentionally revised my story for the next DVPit, whenever it comes. Luckily, the organizers had a fall pitching event, where I got less likes, but those likes led me to my first full request (more on that later). I also joined PitMad, which happened this December, and even though I didn’t get as many hearts as I would have loved, I used those likes for good and sent my query.

#11: I wrote a short story for a diverse MG anthology

On October, I saw a promo for a short story contest for diverse writers, and I knew I had to join. My piece, inspired from my NV9 kids Wakwak and Tisoy, tells a story about the kids who mistakes a constellation for a mission. I submitted it still rough on the edges (which is how I always do), but I am proud to have editors read it, even though it would not win. I’d probably be polishing it to submit to other magazines next year, if given the chance.

#12: Launched Caris Creates on Society6

Guys! I opened my own prints shop! I am an illustrator! Okay, so let’s not get overly hyped in this one, but I am happy to say that I’ve got some of my artworks posted on Society6, and the framed ones are really nice. I still have to work on the size though; maybe this 2018, I can invest on a gadget so I can make high-resolution prints for sale.

#13: Revived the kids’ Sunday School & Choir at SIUMC

When we got to SIUMC, everything was done by exactly three people. As it slowly got back to its feet, I jumped in and contributed the thing I loved doing: handle the kids. Since August, I’ve led the kids’ choir and Sunday School. I’ve told Bible stories past Genesis — YAY! And we’ve sung new songs that made some kids volunteer for their solo parts. I know, kids are such a riot, and most of the times, they get in my nerves, but I love them so much and I only pray these efforts for them will result to tiny seeds of God’s grace planted in their hearts.

#14: Received my first full request!

DO YOU KNOW HOW CRAZY IT FELT when I got my one foot inside an agent’s door when she asked for a full? Unfortunately, that door got slammed on my face — she said a pass. But the good thing was, someone else in this world knew what’s going to happen to the story, and I have polished my manuscript since then. I’m ready to query with a brand new letter + synopsis this 2018, and I pray for one step closer to my dream.

#15: Wrote 4+ songs and repaired 3 more

SALTFOLK is a platform where I got to use two of my talents: to write a story, and to write a song. Since it’s a “musical” manuscript, I had to write songs (yes, lyrics and melody included) necessary for the backstories. If this gets published, you’d be seeing Sometimes Strangers, The Kite Song, Where the Road Bends and Hijo. It also gave me a chance to look back at my old songs and check their grammar OR change their melodies. Three songs I revised: Hope Song, Miracle Each Day and Pages.

I think I may have done more.

#16: My poem was quoted on 365 Wonders

#17: Started Awakenings for 2018

Okay, rub your hands and get ready for this wonderful thing about to come your way this 2018. Conception of this project started in September, and it started with a small wheedling to remake old songs. We’re making songs, alright. And much more. Hopefully, much more.

That’s it, people. My 17 things this 2017.

They say count your blessings, and even though these things involved struggles and heartbreaks, I am proud to have them as medals. I had mountains conquered, giants slayed, and though many more are about to come, I’m proud to be a conqueror; I’ll be slaying, creating, loving and persevering in the coming year. x