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?????

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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.

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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.

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Trying to look legit

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Whoa this book buying line

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WHOA the book signing lines

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

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All the agent sis/Team Thao love!

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The LOVELIEST group of writers to ever take over Daedalus

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Post-fest recharge/writing retreat in the Cape

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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.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! I’m still waddling around from the post-holiday high, my body probably made up of 80% Cadbury chocolate at this point and now suffering from it.

Chocolate comas aside, I just want to give another HUGE thank you to everyone for all the overwhelming support and congratulations to me on landing my agent! The responses to my ‘How I Got My Agent’ post were even more tear-inducing and overwhelming (my blog was actually shaking at one point from the tidal wave of new visitors—hello new peeps! *waves*). I was immensely happy to hear from so many people who could relate to it, and those who said it was just the sort of post they needed to read at that point in their writing journey. Overall, I’m just extremely grateful for the loveliness of the writing community, and everyone in it. ❤

Now that the celebrations and social media-isms have been said and done, we all know what the next step is.

GET. TO. WORK.

My family and a lot of people have been wondering how I’ve spent the past week celebrating, and nothing surprises them more than when I tell them how the inner-workings of my mind have come to resemble a hamster wheel in constant, furious motion. I like to call this hectic mental period my warm welcome back to the wonderful world of revisions.

Here’s a rundown on how it all started (accompanied by my constantly interfering and incoherent inner-thoughts):

-sign with Agent Wonderful

(*cue confetti canon*)

-to my utter shock and delight, receive edit letter faster than expected because she is super on top of things

-freak out because I actually have an edit letter

(*It was kind of like a myth to me up until that point)

-proceed to freak out even further because ohmygoodness I love my MS, but I haven’t looked at it in a while!

(*Let me clarify: to keep me from getting too down in the querying trenches, I started my new WIP, Phantom Fantasy, which I’m soooo excited about! No surprise, it took me a while to get out of Pirate Fantasy world in order to draft Phantom Fantasy. And because the universe likes to pick on me, it soon became the other way around)

-calmly leave the edit letter alone in my inbox until I can get my story worlds sorted and feel comfortably back in Pirate Fantasy Land

(*Battle Plan of Story Immersion: listen to the old epic playlists, watch Pirates of the Caribbean, attempt to catch up on Black Sails, go through old journals, upload MS to e-reader to reread without the temptation of editing every other sentence…)

-still semi-celebrating, still fully feeling the weight of the editorial elephant in my inbox

(*Stop looking at me like that, you unread email)

-because I just can’t celebrate any longer, start reading MS again with the fear that it’s awful

(*You know how sometimes you hate watching yourself on home videos because the sound of your own voice makes you cringe? It’s a little like that)

-sheepishly come to the realization that the experience is not as awful as I’d anticipated, and breathe a sigh of relief

(*Hooray! I’m not terrible!)

-FINALLY read edit letter right after not-so-bad read through so that I could let the ideas simmer and sleep on it

(*Literally. I finished it super late at night and actually had no choice but to go to sleep right after)

-print out letter the next morning for the purpose of reading through it again, this time with a highlighter and pen in hand to ruthlessly mark up the pages

(*highlighter and pen = revision weapons of choice)

-the notes start to sink in, which brings on a wave of panic over all of the things I’ll have to change and I’m not sure if I can do it

(*OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS BROKEN)

-panic attack averted when I realize that I can definitely do this, and remain super floored by all the brilliant and spot-on comments that will make this MS strong as hell

(*Chill. You may have encountered a high mountain, but you can climb it)

-start going through MS document to see other minor comments in track changes, then proceed to blush at all of my embarrassing typos/awkward sentences

(*You had ONE job, writer of things that should at least be readable…)

-shake off mortification and go through the MS document comments once again, taking notes by hand on piles of loose leaf paper that have been separated into categories

(*Yes, this is me taking notes on notes. In order to get ideas to thoroughly sink in during revisions, I have to write them out an excessive amount of times)

-fan myself proudly with large stack of notes before reading through them all over again to process and start brainstorming solutions

(*IT’S GO TIME)

-slightly fail, only because I’m still halfway in Phantom Fantasy when I just want to situate myself in Pirate Fantasy

(*OK, IT’S NOT GO TIME)

-make character sheets as suggested and wonder if I should give Scrivener a try…

(*cue creepy horror music*)

-immediately regret everything because Scrivener is terrifying and pretty much a different language to me

(*OH GOD IT’S LIKE OPENING PANDORA’S BOX)

-by some miracle, I manage to get down the basics of Scrivener’s cork board feature

(*Huzzah! I’ve finally done something right!)

-continues the aggressive note-taking tango by writing up more notes on my notes on my agent’s notes in the not-so-scary Scrivener cork board

(*On virtual index cards this time!)

-FINALLY, finally, finally—out of the blue—I hear my characters talking back to me in my head and could just cry from happiness right now

(*Otherwise known as the period when nobody approaches me because I look like a crazy person)

-Characters talking back to me means I’m on the right track, so I dig back into my mountain of notes and add alllllll the new ideas

(*Thank the writing gods)

So it took a rocky start to get me back on the path, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes you need those moments of doubt to remember that they’ll never be as strong as your overarching enthusiasm and motivation to get back in that chair so you can write.

With that being said, HUGE changes are afoot within this round of revisions. Changes can be scary, but they are necessary. They can also be very exciting, which is where I’m at right now. Hopefully I can get a lot done before I head off to Las Vegas for this year’s RT with my lovely CPs Erin, Katy, Akshaya, and Maddy! But until then, cheers to all the changes that are happening—and may they always be for the better 😀

Happy Birthday to the Queen, J.K. Rowling!

A huge happy birthday to my writing queen J.K. Rowling, one of the best literary heroes of all time Harry Potter—and of course, a day-late happy birthday to my favorite underdog-turned-top dog Neville Longbottom!

    

My last post already detailed why this author, her characters, and series are all so important in my life so I’ll skip the mushy stuff. Long story short, J.K. Rowling was the author who first inspired me to want to be a writer—and her stories, characters, and world are what helped foster my own love for storytelling in every way possible. I cannot say thanks enough.

So in celebration of these birthdays, I thought it would be fun to post a few Harry Potter pictures from my past trip to London. I went for academic reasons, but let’s be real: I went for all of the Harry Potter fangirling and sights. And boy, did I find them. It was like Harry Potter heaven.

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Obligatory Platform 9 3/4 shot a.k.a so many dreams coming true

 

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For reals, this is the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron

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London’s very own Goblet of Fire to remember the Great Fire of 1666

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Ten points to Gryffindor to whoever can recognize where this was from

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This place is what dreams are made of

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Ah man, how did they guess my diabolical plan?

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Mirror of Erised where I saw everything that I desired: me, in the Harry Potter Warner Bros. studios

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Original wands on wands on wands

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It’s a knitting ghost!

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Harry’s Got Mail

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Hogwarts

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Thank you, Queen

I have sooooo many other pictures from this trip, but that would make one monster of a post which would probably break my blog from the sheer weight of fangirling-overload. Nevertheless, I hope you all have a magical rest of the day! ~*

Happy Birthday to the Bard!

And a happy/morbid death day as well, but regardless–HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!!!

For those who don’t know, I LOVE Shakespeare. There are some people out there who think appreciating Shakespeare is more of a clichéd interest of pretentious readers/writers (insert eye roll), which I actually have major beef with (and I do bite my thumb at you, sirs). Throughout high school and college, I’ve spent my fair share of time with the Bard in all of my lit classes. I’ve written many an essay on him. Heck, I even studied abroad in London just to, you guessed it, take a class on Shakespeare–and actually saw one of his plays performed at the beautiful Globe Theatre!

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IMG_0736IMG_0738 setting up for Macbeth, which was such a GLORIOUS show (even through the rain and hours of groundling-status viewing)

Learning more about Shakespeare on his own turf completely changed the way I experienced the literature. And even though there is a crap-ton of murkiness behind his authorship and identity and whatnot, I have absolutely no shame in fangirling over his work. My absolute favorite would have to be The Merchant of Venice (‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’–ughh, I LIVE for that speech and the moral debate over Shylock), along with The Tempest right after (I’m a fan of revenge, clearly), Macbeth (yup, revenge, though Lady Macbeth steals the show), Much Ado About Nothing (I live for the love-hate and the banter), and I actually really enjoyed Measure for Measure even though everyone in my class seemed to hate it. Boo.

My favorites usually change depending on my mood, but those top two are solid. So along with my favorite works, here are some of my other Shakespeare-related favorites and fun things to keep up the celebration:

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (of course)

A gorgeous medley of Shakespeare’s works (starring a hunky Will Shakespeare!) with way too many familiar faces and a whole lot of love.

GET OVER IT

A loose retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school starring, yet again, way too many familiar faces in all of their early-2000s glory. Complete with a whacky musical I would actually put down good money to see in person.

ROMEO AND JULIET (1968)

While R&J is not my favorite Shakespeare work by a long shot, this is one of the films I grew up on during my childhood because my parents loved/still love it so much (yup, weird). Hence, it’s always held a special place in my heart. Plus, it’s kind of freaky how much Romeo looks like Zac Efron á la High School Musical. The resemblance will distract you the whole entire movie.

THE LION KING

This is the King of Disney Movies and Feels, which was also influenced by biblical tales of Jesus and Moses, as well as Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

SHE’S THE MAN

Of course. Anything starring a cross-dressing Amanda Bynes is hard to miss, especially when it’s a retelling of Twelfth Night that stars Channing Tatum, soccer dilemmas, and Gouda cheese.

NOTHING MUCH TO DO

In a fashion similar to the amazing Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this vlog series is a modern high school retelling of Much Ado About Nothing set in New Zealand. Discovered it earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised by it.

WARM BODIES

Yet another work I was pleasantly surprised by, and also based on a book by Isaac Marion, this film is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet as a zombie comedy. I know, sounds so random but works SO well.

 

And there are WAY too many more to add to the list, but clearly one can see the influence Shakespeare has had, and continues to have after all this time, on our world, media, and stories we create. Also, he coined SO many words in our dictionary, ‘swagger’ being the best gift of all. So Happy 451st, Shakespeare! Still killin’ it and touching lives everywhere, even in the grave.