Twas the night of New Years Eve…

Sooo, how about that hiatus?

It has been SO long since I last updated. Like no-post-since-February long, which is super embarrassing considering how that last post was all about my productive 2017 goals which was then followed by a massive, impromptu silence.

But as the year is coming to a close (literally…in an hour), it had me thinking of 2017 as a whole. In so many ways, it was a most challenging year (and for sooo many other people, understandably), but it was also the most surprising and rewarding in many ways. It can be so easy to get hung up on all the lows that we often forget to remember the good that also happened.

And clearly, I have not been doing absolutely nothing since February, so to reorient myself back to this blog-o-sphere, here are some wonderful things that have happened in 2017:

  1. Earlier this year, I traveled to Jordan! Usually I’m not big on travel (I’m honestly the BIGGEST homebody you’ll ever meet and I am not ashamed of it), but I went with my dad to visit my sister who was conducting research there at the time. It was my second time going, and to be honest, it was the best trip of the two. I saw so many more places, ate lots of good food, and was able to savor the experience far more than the last time.
  2. I went to ALA in Chicago with my writing group, and witnessed my dear Axie Oh’s first signing of Rebel Seoul ARCS! (Unsurprisingly, I cried.)
  3. While I was there, I got to be in the Room Where It Happens and watched Hamilton! A few months later, I also got to watch The Phantom of the Opera for the first time which was also incredible. (Unsurprisingly, I cried again. At both shows.)
  4. Over the summer, I finally got a full-time job in publishing! This, honestly, has been the biggest life-changer for me. It took me so long to find it, and for so long, I was in despair that all the jobs I thought were for me would continue passing me by. But after countless rejections and interviews that ended up going nowhere, I applied to a company that for once wanted me back, this time. It still doesn’t feel real, and I know I’m enormously lucky to be where I am. Publishing, like many businesses, is a hard as hell industry to break into from that other side of the desk; but just like with writing, all it takes is one yes from the right person/place.
  5. As a result, I also learned to restructure my writing routine around aforementioned job. This was truly no easy task (especially in the beginning months…boy, those were rough), but there’s no other way around it. I’m thankful that even though my writing time is more limited now, the ability to still prioritize it in whatever chunk of time I can carve out during the day remains.
  6. I went to Disney World! After just getting my Very Adult Job, there’s no better way to celebrate than to go to the place where you turn into an absolute child again.
  7.  For the first time in a long time, I actually completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I’ve failed so badly on this front over the past few years, but I found the joy in reading again. The commute to my job allows for prime reading time, so I’m hoping to continue crushing it book-wise in the new year!
  8. I finished revisions with Pirate Fantasy. No exaggeration, this is perhaps one of my biggest life accomplishments ever, and maybe I’ll write about it when I’m brave enough to tell that story in full. For now, I’m just grateful for what that long period of revising has taught me, and am happy with how the story has ended 🙂
  9. I finished drafting Phantom Fantasy. I clocked in the first draft at 140k words, and honestly don’t know where half of them came from. But all that matters is that I love this book so much, the first draft is done, and there’s SO much work ahead of me—but I am excited for it all.
  10. Most importantly, I rediscovered the joy in writing. I think 2017 was a creatively-difficult year for most people, which made even getting ten words on the page an enormous struggle sometimes. And as a writer, to feel like you can’t write anymore is just the most crushing feeling ever. It still almost feels like a miracle that I was able to finish Pirate Fantasy revisions and the first draft of Phantom Fantasy, but they did not come easy at all. It took a lot of forcing myself to sit at a computer, early wake up calls, and less hours of sleep to get back into the habit—but then, gradually, forced habit became the need to write again. I found joy in what I was writing again during a time where it felt like all the joy was sucked out of the world, and that I count as my proudest achievement of 2017.

Whew, that was a lot. Now that the obligatory where-was-I-in-2017 recap is over, time to start setting my sights on resolutions for 2018! Normally, I have very similar resolutions from the years before, but this time, I think some may be a bit different.

Goal #1: Be a better CP. While this year was super loaded for me, I am not proud of the way I’ve let CP-ing fall to the wayside as a result. I was able to read two AMAZING manuscripts from two of my friends this year (shout out to Erin and Amanda), but I wish I could’ve offered more. Not because it’s a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” sort of deal (though these relationships should NEVER at all be one-sided/one person is left doing all the work), but because there is no greater joy than to see my CPs/friends growing as writers before my eyes, and to read the evidence of that. I feel like my CPs only make me a better writer, and that the act of being a CP adds to that as well.

Goal #2: Writing is priority, but so is being there for the ones you love. I’m usually the kind of writer who can magically shut out everything and just hunker down to work for hours/weeks on end. However, this doesn’t bode well for times when I’m with my family or hanging out with friends. This year, I want to find a better balance, to be able to work when I have time but also enjoy that time by being there for the people who matter most to me. To focus on my work, but not be consumed by it.

Goal #3: Read more, read widely, and recommend frequently. I’m always aiming to read more with each passing year, and to read widely at that. But this time, I truly want to do all of that on top of boosting books/authors I love. Especially diverse books and voices. Our voices are needed now more than ever, and it’s imperative to shine as much light and raise each other up as often as we can.

Goal #4: Embrace every low as you do every high. My go-to motto is “Failure is the best teacher” which I’ve firmly believed in even before Yoda said it. As such, I know that lows feel a little less low when you glean the lessons from them, and that everything happens for a reason. To make it in this business, we all have to be prepared for every step. Might as well meet each one with the willingness to learn what they have to teach us.

Goal #5: Whatever you do, keep writing. I took lots of breaks this year as a result of burn out and just not feeling up to it due to the darkness that seemed to consume the world, but the best thing I ever did for myself was to keep returning to writing and never stopping. Even if the words don’t flow, I feel much more like myself writing than if I weren’t. So this is not to say that I’m going to literally write every single day because even I don’t possess that sort of magic—but to never stop/give up, because I know I’m my best self when I have stories to tell.

Happy New Years y’all, and wishing everyone the best in 2018 ❤





2016: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Oh Charles Dickens.

Now that it’s February, I know I’m sooooo late on looking back on 2016, but better late than never. The nature of how 2016 ended keeps coming back to me, even as we’re already in 2017. I keep thinking back on how I was talking to my sister about this a few weeks ago, on of how people jokingly (let’s be real, seriously) talk about 2016 being the worst year EVER. And I think we all know why without me having to spell it out, since the darkness still follows us everywhere we go.

But what my sister said really resonated with me. She said, “You know what, 2016 was the year I peaked. I ran a marathon, got out of a bad relationship, became a Fulbright scholar, etc.” But then the world completely shifted toward the dark, which seemed to shadow every good thing that came before, every moment of light that filtered in between.

In many ways, I sort of agreed with my sister. For me, 2016 was the year I achieved more than I thought I ever could—I signed with my dream agent, I tackled THE hardest revisions I’ve ever had to complete and came out with a stronger story, I traveled around to conferences and met so many other wonderful writers, I mentored another writer who I’m so proud to see is now agented and progressing along her path to publication.

I don’t want to discount the very dark direction 2016 went down, and I also don’t want to overshadow it by raising my own personal silver-linings that came out of it. Ultimately, I do think what I’m most at peace with, coming out of 2016, was that I felt so much stronger by the end. Beaten, but not defeated. Down, but always rising back up. Wonderful things happened, yes, but nothing made them greater to me than being challenged by what those good things brought (and the bad as well), and feeling like I learned so much more about myself, about how to proceed from here on out as someone who’s more aware, active, and prepared for what’s to come.

And to start 2017, I also want to look back on my 2016 resolutions—to see how I did, and keep them strong in this new year as well:

  • Finish a book.

Sooooooo, I think I cheated a little bit because while most of 2016 was spent revising Pirate Fantasy, I felt like my process of revision and rewriting turned it into a completely new book. The story I wrote before is SO different from the story it is now, but I absolutely love the new monster it’s become, the way it’s evolved and grown even closer to my heart. The sheer amount I’ve rewritten (and rewritten and rewritten and ughhh) and the new additions I’ve made feel like I did finish a brand new book, and I honestly couldn’t be prouder of it. But for this year, I do hope to finish another book which I feel is totally doable. And necessary. My urge to explore new worlds and characters is itching at me!

  • Revise Pirate Fantasy, while working on something else.

I feel like I can say I actually fulfilled this!! *confetti* While I wasn’t always working in tandem with revising (my brain was already close to exploding enough times on just Pirate Fantasy), I did manage to beast out over 90k of Phantom Fantasy in 2016! However, the pantsing is still going strong and the story is far from over, which means this first draft is going to be one HUGE baby. Along with drafting this project, I also want to tend to my garden of other ideas and projects–which surprisingly grew a lot last year!–and see what other stories are leaping for my attention.

  • Read, read, read.

I’m just going to be flat-out honest and say 2016 was not a great reading year for me. AGAIN. I have a hard time reading when I’m revising, and since I was on the revision train so often, that meant pushing back reading as a priority. Yikes. The good thing about 2017, however, is that I’ve been back to reading like an absolute FIEND. I think because I’m desperate for even the briefest escape from the world, I’ve turned to books—and they’ve embraced me back with open arms and provided me comfort like nothing else. I’m actually 7 books ahead in my Goodreads challenge which is unheard of for me, so I’m hoping to keep up the reading momentum, as well as reading widely and more out of my usual comfort zones 🙂

  • Progress as much as you can on the writing journey and never lose sight of why you’re on the path in the first place.

2016 was a huge year for my writing and me, and sometimes I still can’t even believe what’s happened has actually happened. But for me, progress also comes in so many other forms that aren’t just those milestones on the journey to publication. My ultimate show of progress, I feel, was going from feeling like I was constantly ten steps backwards with my story, to fighting and revising my way through draft after draft until I overcame all of those missteps. 2016 was the year I learned the art of creative patience and honoring the story—of feeling like no matter what, the fact that I’ve produced something I love, that I know I’ve worked hard on, and that I’m proud of by the end of the day will be enough. With no guarantees in this industry, it’s especially important to feel fulfilled by the work that you put forth and pour from your heart, not what you get in return for it. This is one lesson of many I know I’ll always treasure.

To add to this ever-growing list of resolutions I seek to meet however I can every year, here’s a new one that I also want to uphold:

  • Prioritize being a support to others who need it, providing the encouragement and listening ear I wish I had when I first started writing.

Before I found my wonderful group of writing friends and critique partners, I was every bit that sad picture of a lonely, young writer who didn’t know how to put herself out there, how to be confident with her writing, or how to go about advancing her writing career. When I think about it, it really wasn’t that long ago (like 3 years ago haha), but SO much has changed since then. The writer I was back then would not have believed how much luck was coming her way in the form of friends, a sense of community, and opportunities she would soon be encountering. Last year, I mentored in Pitch Wars and had the BEST time helping a writer along her journey. I’m already mentoring again this year for Author Mentor Match (HI TANVI, IF YOU’RE READING!!! Guys, Tanvi is my mentee match from this program and has breathtaking prose for days ❤ ), and I want to keep lending a hand to other writers whenever I can, and however I can.

OKAY. Done with resolutions, and now it’s time to stick to them and see them through! Last but not least in this post, I’ve once again dipped into my collection of fortune cookie fortunes and am tacking up some brand new ones onto my cork board to reflect the new year!

“Treasure your good memories and you need not worry about ending a banquet.”

“Happiness is around the next corner, wealth down the street.”

“Welcome the good change coming soon into your life.”

Wishing everyone a positive new year with lots of good luck and happiness 😀

10 Things About My Writing

Thank you to my lovely and hilarious CO-G Erin who tagged me to do this post, which was honestly wayyyy harder than I thought it would be because 10 THINGS ARE A LOT OF THINGS. Okay. Here goes.

1. I’m a pantser. I’ve honestly tried not to be—meaning, I’ve attempted plotting, character graphs, outlining, story bibles, and whatnot, but they all fizzle out. Which SUCKS because that sort of organization would be enormously helpful for the hot mess that is my brain. But for some reason, the minute any sort of formal organization enters the scene, my brain riots with cries of “THOU SHALT NOT ORGANIZETH” and sabotages my attempts. But to be fair, I’ve embraced pantsing. I just love that freedom and unpredictability with writing, since it can produce some of the best scenes, characters, and turning points of a story. I’m still trying to assume a more organized method (aka slightly less messy), but at heart, I am a panster.

2. I’m a loose mental plotter to a point. I think this is the only reason I can pants as successfully as I’ve been able to (is it successful? The jury’s still out on that one….). Being a mental plotter for me means without having to write it all down, I already somewhat have a loose string of events I know HAVE to happen to jumpstart the story. The overall plot isn’t completely figured out, but it’s enough to keep me excited to keep writing and discover what comes next. With all the characters and plot points jumping around in my head, it definitely makes my mind an even more crowded place, that’s for sure. And scary.

Mental plotting yayyy *sobs* source

3. Music is my guide. Music plays a HUGE part in my life—not only because of my musical background, but also because some of my first memories are of hearing my dad singing, as well as Lea Salonga cassette tapes on repeat (hello throwback). As such, I’ve always tied music to memories and emotions—and when I tie emotions and memories to writing, music naturally falls into the equation. I listen to ALL sorts of music and build my story playlists like no other. Not only is music helpful for tone/mood research or getting re-inspired when in a writing slump, but it’s a great way of giving your story some structure without having to outline a single thing  🙂 Except most times when I’m listening to my playlists as I’m writing, I look like I’m possessed as I’m typing. Lots of swaying, head bobbing, and more movement than is required for actual sitting.

And this is why I rarely write in public

4. Inspiration-wise, I am a mean fuser. I like to fuse ideas with each other and see what comes of it. Thus, the “This meets That” high-concept pitch has been my friend with lots of projects. I do this with movies, books, TV, and musicals, and sometimes it’s not even the literal “This Story meets That Story.” Sometimes it can be as simple as a flash moment of inspiration, colliding with another, that gives me a snapshot of what a story could be. There’s just something I really love about taking two extremes and letting them settle into each other, seeing the vibe/mood of what I love while carving out my own story from within. Obviously it’s not copy-cut-paste of the two ideas (because hello, plagiarism), but for the most part, I see my fusions as a tribute to two things I really love. And also my excuse to indulge in them as much as possible for “writing research.”

This Unicorn meets That Unicorn = all the yay (source)

5. I’m also an eager idea gatherer. Unfortunately, aforementioned fusion does not happen instantly (boo). Sometimes I get an idea I realllllly like, but it’s just not ready to be a story yet. I’ve gathered the “This” but not the “That,” and so patiently I wait until that last piece of the puzzle falls into place. Sometimes it’ll take years to find the “That,” but in between that time, I’m gathering ideas for the story and letting it take up residence in my head. But when the times comes when the “This” finally meets its “That” in my head, it is the BIGGEST aha! moment in the world. For Phantom Fantasy, it was reading a book and then finally listening to the right piece of music years later.

gimme all those ideas source

6. Lastly, I’m a steadfast incubator. This leads into why I can pants and mental-plot—I capture these ideas with this method I’ve laid out above, and do the tedious, tiresome task of . . . letting them sit. For a while. Like when a baker instinctively knows when the cake is ready without keeping time, I know it’s time to write. Especially if the story is quite literally DRIVING ME CRAZY. I incubate these ideas until they’re begging to come alive, haunting me every day to a point where it’s painful not to be writing it all down. Now that I say this, it all sounds super punishing and weird BUT it’s how I remain super excited about my stories and characters even during the really low writing times. I’ve waited this long to write the story, so you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to finish and love every moment.

Welcome to the world, dino-story, YOU ARE READY TO BE WRITTEN source

7. I hear voices in my head. Yes, I hear the voices of my characters, lines that spark scenes and interactions, and swells of music in my head—which can get overwhelming, but hey, it’s a sign that I’m feeling extremely inspired by my story (enough to hear it pretty much wherever I go). This stems a lot from tons of day dreaming when I step away from the computer (because really, do writers EVER stop thinking about their stories?) and can drive me crazy most times, but I like that feeling of a story following me around. I’m not done with it, and it’s not done with me, so it will keep stalking me until I go back to writing.

8. I paint my nails the color I feel best captures the story! People who know me know that I like to keep my nails fresh….mostly because before, my nails looked like crap from so much nail-biting. To break that high anxiety-driven habit, I decided to do my own nails as a brand of therapy (taking control of even the smallest things really helps!), and tie it in with my writing by assigning colors to my stories! Nothing is better than looking down at my keyboard and seeing an awesome pop of color on not-too-shabby nails beasting those words out. For Pirate Fantasy, dark purple/night-esque shades are my go-to colors, and my CO-G Erin sent me the BEST nail polish ever (Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish—quite possibly the fanciest nail polish to grace my fingers) which I’m now currently wearing and loving!

ALL the Sailor Scouts know the power of having strong nail game

ALL the Sailor Scouts know the power of having a strong nail game   source

9. I’m an emotional writer. Another reason I don’t like writing in public is that I cry when I write (no surprise since I cry over almost anything). I get really into the emotions of my story and my characters, and there’s something about crying while writing that adds a rawness to the character’s voice. It’s feeling words rather than trying to phrase them the right way. It’s in those powerful moments when I feel like I’m truly connecting with the heartbeat of the story, and makes me fall in love with the book all over again (even when I’m knee-deep in Revision Draft #29384782).


It me, all day every day   source

10. There are random things I love which I always must include in my stories. This ranges from loads of fire metaphors (I love fire), nods to the color red (my fave color), foxes (fave animal!), birds (so beautiful! And they remind me of my parents!), music (see #3), masks (PHANTOM! TUXEDO MASK! ZORRO! ETC!), and dancing (dancing shows are hands down the best). There are definitely so many other random things to add to this list, but for now, these are the ones I’m not entirely embarrassed to admit  🙂



Wow, that was a lot of things. For anyone else who wants to join in on this, do it and have fun reflecting on all the quirks that make you the writer you are!!!

Remember, Remember to Give Thanks in November

First off, how many here feel personally victimized by November?

Yup. It was a hard month. Not just for me, but for the many, many people who were affected post-election. Like so many others, I had a difficult time processing and writing because to me it felt like, in Hamilton terms, the world turned upside down. And not in a good way, but in the way that feels like all of what’s surrounding you has become so topsy-turvy that you hardly recognize the home you’ve been living in for your entire life.

At heart, I’m a happy, positive, and optimistic person—and November really challenged that side of me, the one that strives to always find the silver-linings that help me accept and process the hardest of times. But even though it was challenging, I’m happy to report that as we welcome in December, November never beat us. Though we were struck hard, we got back up with a fury. We continue to fight, even as we still heal.

I just wanted to write that all out first because it’s been weighing heavily on my mind for a while, and it would be a flat-out lie in my heart to gloss over November and say it was amazing. Some parts were (like family! Food! Thanksgiving! Becoming a godmother! Writing!), but there was a dark cloud hanging over it that could not be ignored. To push it aside would be to push aside your pain and the pain of so many others, when in reality, I confront pain because it pushes me to act. Grief over a hard loss pushed me to bring a story to life, just like an intense bout of hopelessness has now pushed me to keep working on the story that I wish can bring hope to others.

From all the artists and writers I follow, it’s been uplifting to see such amazing responses of encouragement, solidarity, and above all, creating important and powerful stories in this time of need. I’ve definitely been taking to heart the inspiration that’s risen from these times, and I’m hearing loud and clear the call for more diverse books and voices. It’s prompted me to tackle my revisions with a vengeance, and the work I’ve put down feels stronger than ever with an emotional heartbeat that just keeps pounding louder and louder.

Though lots of emotional head space in November was occupied by everything above, there were also so many positive highlights. I’m now an official fairy godmother to my BEAUTIFUL nephew, saw lots of my family, had tons of puppy therapy with Master Skywalker, aaaaaaand ate all the food during Thanksgiving.


GODSON, I am your crazy fairy godmother


THE TURKEYS HAVE THEIR REVENGE: In which a flock of turkeys aggressively invaded the front lawn on Thanksgiving morning


Master Skywalker’s “please let me cuddle on the couch” pouty face


Dat Thanksgiving spread


Thank you snapchat for giving me the ability to make a fried turkey terrified


Our other turkey baby ❤ (who we definitely did not eat)

Along with cool family and food shenanigans, more updates and good news were what kept my spirits up during November. First off, MY PITCH WARS MENTEE HAS AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-2-03-50-pmI am so, so, SOOOOO proud of Judy. It was an honor to co-mentor her in Pitch Wars with Axie, and nothing has made me happier than to see her rise like a star from our slush pile four months ago to becoming an agented writer this week. She rocked the agent round, and it’s been nothing but constant cheerleading and hip-hip-hooraying for all the awesomeness that Pitch Wars has brought. Oh Judy. If you’re reading this, sorry for gushing so hard BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. You’re an amazing storyteller with such a great heart, and I can’t WAIT to see you take the publishing world by storm….and also to get my copy of HUNGRY GHOSTS in hardcover soon in the future ❤

Mentoring a writer has been one of the biggest highlights for me this year. To help other writers on their journey is so rewarding, but finding life-long friends makes the mentee-mentor experience even greater. With that said, because I just can’t get enough, I’m part of ANOTHER mentoring program called Author Mentor Match, spearheaded by the lovely Alexa Donne and Heather Kaczynski!


It’s a new program that’s just launched this year, and the submission period opened recently enough that you can STILL submit if you have a polished MS ready and are interested in a mentor to help you brave the next steps of the publishing journey! Deadline to submit by is December 6th, and there are SO many fantastic authors and agented writers who are offering to mentor (whaddup Axie, Kat, Katy, and Mara) so you really can’t go wrong  😉 For insights on my mentoring style, check out my profile where I basically am just begging for friendship and fun!!

All in all, November was tough, but toward the end when Thanksgiving hit, you can’t help but also reflect on the things that bring you light and that you’re grateful for. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities this year has presented, for the friends who always keep me sane and inspired, for the new people who’ve come into my life and have helped me grow, for the family that’s always supported and believed in me, and last but not least, for writing—for the stamina to keep at it, the endurance to push through the frustrating times, and the passion to love every single second of it.

Guess Who’s Back/Remembered To Blog

Hello world, I’M STILL ALIVE. For some reason, it escaped me that I hadn’t updated my blog in 3 MONTHS which is seriously a problem. Like . . . where was I? WHERE WAS I?????

Favorite overreaction gif

Accurate portrayal of me overreacting, source

Oh yeah, I was off doing things—LIKE BECOMING AN AUNT!!!!! I won’t go into all the details of how I officially earned that title (because that entire hectic night/day in August is now more like a sleep-deprived blur in my head), but rest assured, I have the most beautiful, wide-eyed nephew who will be victim to ALL of my storytelling and funny face-making. And humming. I remember holding him one morning, trying to ease him away from one of his crying spells, and started humming the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song which actually calmed him down enormously. Needless to say, this kid and I are already getting along just GREAT.

Also, I was off being a Pitch Wars mentor with my very favorite co-boo Axie Oh! For the longest time, we labored over our wish list (especially choosing those snaps and gifs. Man, that was a trial), just hoping we would cover enough ground to spark interest in some hopeful mentees—and we ended up with a gloriously full slush inbox that simply floored us during the submission period. Words cannot express how grateful we were to read and receive all those entries, and I’m not even joking when I say the talent out there is RIDICULOUS.

me during PW, source

It killed us that we could pick only one, but Team Rocket ended up with our dream Meowth mentee Judy Lin, whose YA horror blew us away. I think the best thing about the choosing process was that Axie and I certainly didn’t expect it would fall into our inboxes just based on our wishlist . . . but we were SO glad it did. Now, I completely understand when agents says “I want something I didn’t know I was looking for” because that was Judy’s MS for us. It’s a FABULOUS horror story told in a voice as funny and spunky as Veronica Mars, takes place on Taiwan during the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival, incorporates the most chilling Chinese ghost stories, features the cutest romance EVER, and has the most drool-inducing descriptions of food I’ve ever read. Seriously. Once this novel is unleashed upon the world, I dare you not to be aggressively hangry by the end of every chapter.


No joke. SO hangry. (source)

And then along with Pitch Wars, there was the Boston Teen Author Festival in September! I was SUPER stoked for this because not only was it wonderful being a part of all the year-long, behind-the-scenes organizing as an official BTAF team member for the first year (!), but it was also amazing seeing my true loves, Maddy and Akshaya, as well as seeing the loveliest of friends both old and new. Of course, it was a crazy hectic day that resulted in many a blister, but was ultimately SO rewarding just to be a part of an exciting celebration of YA, readers, and writers. Reunions seriously can’t get any better than that.


Trying to look legit


Whoa this book buying line


WHOA the book signing lines


I can’t even remember WHAT this drink was, only that it was so necessary post-fest


All the agent sis/Team Thao love!


The LOVELIEST group of writers to ever take over Daedalus


Post-fest recharge/writing retreat in the Cape


Blood orange mimosas are heaven’s tears

And soooooo, along with other short family trips in between that would probably bore everyone on here to tears, this has been where my head is at. And then of course, there’s revisions—which in itself has been a wild adventure all on its own! But rather than ending on the nitty-gritty of that note, I’m offering up an inspirational image instead. Because I’m sappy.

While at the Cape, I took the best walk ever just around the neighborhood to explore the beachy areas surrounding us. Nothing clears your head more than smelling the sea, feeling the wind whisper through your hair with the sun still warming your skin. I remember sitting on a rock, observing the tiniest crabs crawling stealthily beneath the sand. And then as the breeze picked up, I looked up at the sea streaming along the shore to see a lone, small seagull swimming against the water’s current.

All the birds had flapped away once the wind blew, but not this one. This one kept paddling in the opposite direction of where the water flowed, making it harder on itself. I kept wondering, why don’t you just leave like the rest? Or even, why don’t you just relax and let the water take you? Why resist and throw so much energy against a current working against you?

But the more I stared at this bird still going against wherever the wind blew as if to spite it, the more my questioning reflection became an epiphany. I felt like this bird. And I knew I’d seen so many people I admire be this bird as well, pushing against something that seems unconquerable and resisting the urge to let it define your course. You set your own course, despite what others do or what the wind says. And if you can maintain that sense of self-direction no matter how hard the breeze tries to throw you the other way, then that is wonderful.

Of course, the seagull probably had NO idea I was pretty much stalking its progress with all of these crazy, spiritual, bird-lady thoughts. If it noticed me, it didn’t scatter like most birds usually do. Instead, it eventually gained dominion over the majority of the stream because it didn’t fly away. It stayed, it kept going. It became quite a sight to behold, because the boldest birds don’t always have to fly to be seen. Sometimes all it takes to be acknowledged is just maintaining your own course, tireless and fearless.


Pitch Wars Wish List: Team Rocket Edition

WARNING: Ridiculously awesome gifs and pictures ahead! Beware all ye who enter here!

Janella is Jessie because she has great hair. And Axie is James because she has a sexy voice.

Check out Axie/James on her blog HERE!


Whenever we meet up, snapchatting madness ensues!

Once upon a time, two newly agented writers met in an agented author hook-up and decided TO BE FRIENDS FOREVER! No, but seriously, after meeting in person for the first time in Las Vegas at the 2016 RT Convention, we realized we had a lot more in common than we thought. We both read and write YA SFF. We both love the writing community. And most importantly, we both support and write diverse stories!

Enter Pitch Wars.

Same as us, Brenda Drake attended RT—and after meeting her, we had a light bulb moment. Despite neither of us having made it into Pitch Wars (though not without trying!), we’ve both always admired the contest for its supportive presence in the writing community, and how it’s helped so many writers and manuscripts throughout the years. Having recently gone through the querying process ourselves and signed with our agents, we thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to the writing community as mentors in Pitch Wars!


If you join our team, you’ll receive lots of snaps!

We’re excited to embark on our first Pitch Wars adventure together, and we hope that YOU will join us! Since we call ourselves Team Rocket, we won’t be complete until we have our very own Meowth mentee.




Fantasy (including all sub-genres: urban, contemporary, historical, etc.)

Science Fiction


Diverse stories and perspectives

Unique settings


Is this not the best gif ever? (Orig posted: argynw)


Beautiful and unique storytelling; we have a weakness for lyrical and atmospheric writing

Strong relationships across the whole spectrum (romantic, family, friendship, enemies)

Enemies to lovers or friends to lovers; basically, ANYTHING to lovers ❤

Slow burn romances or complicated romances as seen in the tension-filled WINNER’S CURSE trilogy and CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy (esp PRINCE’S GAMBIT)

Unlikely allies, friendships, and unbeatable group dynamics

Anything to do with music or the arts

Villains and antiheroes a la the Darkling, Klaus Mikaelson (everyone on The Originals), Phantom of the Opera, etc.

Complex characters (they can even be unlikable!)

Masked crusaders or vigilantes LIKE TUXEDO MASK!!!!! (We’re not kidding)

Lush worlds that have an edge of darkness to them like the Grisha trilogy

Non-western settings a la THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN

Characters in unique roles (thieves, pirates, gangsters, femme fatales)


Our rendition of “characters in unique roles”


Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), The Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo), The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Chokshi), Fire (Kristin Cashore), Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead), Vengeance Road (Erin Bowman), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Tiny Pretty Things (Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton), Enter Title Here (Rahul Kanakia), Captive Prince trilogy (C.S. Pacat), The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh), The Lumatere Chronicles (Melina Marchetta), Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor), Truthwitch (Susan Dennard)


Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones), His Dark Materials trilogy (Philip Pullman), The Winner’s Curse series (Marie Rutkoski), Chime (Franny Billingsley), For Darkness Shows the Stars (Diana Peterfreund), The Queen’s Thief series (Megan Whalen Turner), Dragon Sword and Wind Child (Noriko Ogiwara), Wildwood Dancing (Juliet Mariller), Under a Painted Sky (Stacey Lee), The Changeling Sea (Patricia McKillip), Sabriel and Shade’s Children (Garth Nix), Serpentine (Cindy Pon), The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (N.K. Jemisin)


Sci-fi movies with great worldbuilding & characterizations like PACIFIC RIM, The Edge of Tomorrow, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park

Hayao Miyazaki films (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke)

Korean dramas (love the tone & atmosphere of School 2013 and Shut Up Flower Boy Band; also BROMANCE)

Girl power and friendship a la SAILOR MOON

Epic, adventure-filled stories such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy, Mad Max: Fury Road, the Dark Knight Trilogy, X-Men

Classics such as Jane Austen (EMMA), Anne of Green Gables, The Scarlet Pimpernel, etc

DISNEY (Mulan, Pocahontas, VERY excited for the upcoming Moana)

Strong worldbuilding, group dynamic, and character development as seen on Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra

MUSICALS!! Les Miserables! The Phantom of the Opera! Hamilton! Wicked! Rent! The Lion King! Grease! Moulin Rouge! Razia’s Shadow! Anastasia the Musical! All in all, music/musicals are our JAM! (pun FULLY intended)


We are slightly random


Our style is very collaborative, communicative, and slightly crazy, but ultimately and most importantly, constructive! We are always on board to fangirl and cheerlead our mentee on, but we are also there to first and foremost offer critique and whip that manuscript into the best shape it can be. Our game plan is to ensure our mentee has as much editorial support and back-and-forth communication as needed from both of us throughout the revising stage. Aside from collaborative edit letters, we would also love to schedule Skype calls to discuss editorial notes, brainstorm, and answer any questions the mentee may have so we can all be on the same page. From big picture edits to smaller details to everything in between, we want to make sure our mentee comes out of Pitch Wars with an awesome experience, as well as a polished manuscript to take into the agent round.


Axie is the author of the YA Sci-Fi novel, THE AMATERASU PROJECT (title subject to change), scheduled to be released in Fall 2017 from Lee & Low Books/Tu Books. She is represented by the fabulous Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She is currently pursuing an MFA (in Writing for Young People) at Lesley University. Her knowledge of the publishing world has come through internships at Writer’s House and Folio Literary Management.

Janella is a YA writer represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She recently graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. Along with her coursework, she’s completed various publishing and editorial internships, and was most recently a YA/MG intern for the Bent Agency. She’s also currently a team member of the Boston Teen Author Festival.



Axie’s website:






Janella’s website:






For more info about Pitch Wars, check out Brenda Drake’s site!

If you join our team, you will have TWO mentors, two cheerleaders, two sets of eyes, two motivators, two snapchat fiends who will champion your work in this year’s Pitch Wars and beyond!

IMG_6078Best of luck to you all, and be sure to check out all of the other amazing Pitch Wars mentors!!



































































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It’s Levi-OH-sa

I just got back from Vegas/SLC a couple days ago, and I’m FINALLY starting to feel like a human again.



But hey, I think the amount of post-con exhaustion is very telling about the amount of fun one had at said con, and I for sure had TONS of it at Leviosa Con! Once more, I got to hang out with my glorious CPs (you’d think at this point we’d be sick of each other, but huge nahhh), meet extremely wonderful people, and actually speak (and moderate!) at panels for the first time. Also, food. There was a lot of incredible food, too.


Brunch for days


Taking advantage of the poor HP cut-outs. Sorry Snape.


Pantsing vs. Plotting panel! The brilliant term “plotypus” may have been coined here


Draco Mouse-foy #snapchatfiltersgivemelife


The hugest pancakes + bottomless mimosas = HEAVEN


My buddy Erin and me, CO-Gs for life


All the lovely agents on the How to Pitch panel!

What was perhaps the most rewarding part of this con had to be finally meeting my agent for the first time in person! Weirdly enough, having that meeting was probably akin to online daters meeting for the first time and having that flood of first date jitters. Oh no, I’m not online where charisma can be edited and inserted! What if I say something awkward? What if I look nothing like my picture and that freaks them out? What if we actually do not mesh well in person? What if, what if, what if . . .

Suffice to say, those worries were SO ridiculous. Thao really is as wonderful in person as she is online, and after spending time with her and seeing her rock it out on panels, I can’t even properly say how lucky I feel to have her as my agent warrior. Also, I may or may not have squealed too hard when she said that she totally pictured Roan from The 100 as one of my characters!!!


Heart eyes heart eyes heart eyes (source)

Not only was meeting Thao wonderful, but also being on panel with her—along with a whole crew of equally amazing, super accomplished people. I have to say, for my first time on panels, I had MAJOR imposter syndrome beforehand. Definitely from the uncertainty that my words wouldn’t carry much weight since I still see myself as a more or less a newb in this industry. But you know what, what eased me soon enough was the fact that EVERYONE has something to say, and every stage—wherever you’re in—carries truths and values that people are always eager to listen to.

After that epiphany, I felt like I could finally breathe on panel. I spoke about what it meant to read YA and how diversity impacts my writing. There may have been a tangent about my previous fanfiction days (THANKS ERIN). I also moderated a panel on rejection, and the stories which came from that were so inspiring. Needless to say, my fear of public speaking is definitely diminishing, and I have nothing but thanks for ALL the people I spoke with for being the best and most encouraging panelists ever, and gratitude for this amazing opportunity!


Adults Reading YA!


Babies First Panel: An Axie and Janella saga


Moderating the Dealing with Rejection panel meeeeep


Diversity in YA Lit Panel was AMAZING


My bud Katelyn to the right also moderated like SUCH a boss


Axie being a scifi queen on her panel!

IMG_6108 2

Panel Survivors

Nothing was better than having my Pitch Wars co-mentor Axie by my side (attached at the hip, more precisely), and to be able to hang with all my CPs Erin, Amanda, Maddy, and Akshaya. In fact, being able to hang with ALL the lovely people at this con in general was the biggest highlight of all. Since we all stayed at the same resort, each day was pretty much like living in a small world where you saw everyone all the time and had the perfect opportunities to just mingle, catch up on life stuff, and gush about all the bookish things.


Dat sunset tho


I think we all can agree that Susan Dennard is SUCH an amazing person. Seriously.


Cult Love


Me and my agent sister Roshani Chokshi, aka quite possibly the KINDEST human being ever

Leviosa passed by in such a whirlwind, it still doesn’t feel real that we crammed in so much in so little time. But soon enough, we had to say goodbye to the lovely resort, and were back on the road to SLC aka a glorious 6-hour road trip with Erin and Maddy. Aka 6 hours of randomness, Disney sing-alongs, and gorgeous, epic scenery.




Who else is getting Thunder Mountain feels?!

Post-Leviosa was a blur of more amazing food (priorities, because clearly I’m a very hungry person), hiking adventures, bookstore shenanigans, puppy cuddling, puzzle piecing, and just more fun times with CPs before it was time to return to the East Coast for what I suspect will be a very long time. Because it’s been a year full of traveling and con-going for me (aka a year filled with the sobs of my hollowing bank account), Leviosa was the best last hurrah a writer could ask for. I’m not sure where I’ll go next, or even when, but I am so grateful for all the experiences and memories and friends I’ve made throughout my travels so far.

At the moment, though, it’s so nice to be back home—to get back to work, and gear up for whatever is looming on the horizon next.