Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One Last Thing

Here's to 2013...and 2014

You know, on any other normal New Year's Eve I would go to sleep, or stay up to see the ball drop, or whatever. I wouldn't feel too keen on blogging as the last hours of 2013 slide by.

But this year...is different. Important.

First of all, I've been blogging on this thing for a year. A year. I thought, last year when I first started up the blog, that I was doing it because...everyone else had been doing it, I guess, because it was a Publishing Key Marketing Move and I wanted something to remember my writing process by, something to look back on in the future maybe when I was successful or something. 

Right now? I've been blogging for a year. And I don't have much readers, but I love blogging. I love typing my thoughts out and ranting when the times get hard and gushing when I read a lovely book. It's like shouting into a nearly empty canyon. It's quite liberating, actually. 

Also...I grew. I learned. A lot. A. LOT.

I remember last year, when I was tucked into my little corner, worrying my heart and brain out over TeaNovel. I had just discovered the platform of YA authors. My dreams were naive and big; I was slowly, slowly finding myself through the writing world.

In 2013, I made writing a Serious Job. I'm still a student, and during the day, I still go to school and geek out with friends. But this year, I set goals for myself. I let myself peek at a chance of publication for TeaNovel. I discovered what it meant to rewrite and rewrite a novel. I discovered what a query was and what it meant to get a literary agent. (Which I really, really hope can happen to me someday!) 

In 2013, I set a foot in the publishing business. The day after my 8th grade graduation, I flew to New York, where I attended BEA in New York City. I had never been in a more inspiring convention center, surrounded by authors with their stacks of ARCs and watching, awe-struck, as the role models I admired from afar were literally standing ten feet away. I remember the first picture I took at BEA was a random snapshot of Sarah J. Maas standing next to Susan Dennard's autographing station and I was sort of having an internal mini-breakdown. The fangirl kind, of course. It was like seeing your favorite movie stars on the red carpet, except the carpet was blue and they weren't swirled up in some fancy Dior gown, but cardigans and dresses and All Things Authorly. 

I also attended my first three author events; Rae Carson & CJ Redwine, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu. Rae and CJ were lovely ladies; when I approached them after the event, they both gave me great writing encouragement. Sarah...well, I did a whole post on her back in September and she is just so amazing and inspiring and kickass and so so KIND. As for Marie--I remember going up to her in the signing line and just spilling--literally ranting--everything I've wanted to tell her in the past 2 years. Because Legend was the book that changed my life, and I am so, so grateful that it did. 

2013 was the year many stunning sequels came out (Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard were my two favorites), and the year that stunning trilogies came to an end. (And YES, I absolutely loved the ending to Allegiant.)

In November 2013, I wrote an 80K novel from scratch, in 30 days, and by near-pantsing, I crafted a story that I am very, very excited to work on in the new year. 

I know this sounds so silly, but 2013 has, in so many ways, bridged that enormous gap between 2012 and 2014. Sure, there was a lor of angst and frustration, and there were many times I thought I was never going to get anywhere in my writing, but when I look back, I see everything. It's been such a developmental year and I am sure I am a different person today than I was back in 2012.

I'm so glad this year happened.

And I can't wait for 2014. Now my eye is on Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (and Sarah J. Maas's untitled Book 3 of the Throne of Glass series!). 

As for the New Year...

In 2014, I have only two resolutions;

1. To Grow.

2. To Do Epic Shit. 

It sounds so vague, but in my heart, I know what those resolutions mean to me, very, very clearly. 

Okay. Fine. A specific resolution. 

I want to start querying agents. (Which really branches under the To Grow category, but I think announcing things give it some validity.)


I want to read more books. See more. Experience things that surprise me. 

In 2014, I want to grow, to love, and to do epic shit. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I love Frozen.


A week ago, i saw Frozen.

If you haven't seen it, go see it. Now. It's amazing.

And now I can't get this song out of my head.

Behold the cutest, saddest, most heartbreaking love story in a Disney movie.

All in three minutes.

*sniffles* <3

Friday, December 27, 2013

Making it right.

I hope everyone had a beautiful, happy, healthy Christmas! Wow, 2014 is coming in about 4 days. I still can't quite wrap my mind around 2013...hahaha.

Anyways...here is a writing post.

So this post's title was actually something coherent this time (instead of me being all like, "ehhh....I'm too lazy to think so I'll just title it something creative like "cool stuff" or something specific along those lines). And...it's about me thinking about, ha, TeaNovel.

So...a few days ago (Christmas Eve, I believe) I wrote a blog post/review of Days of Blood and Starlight. Wasn't really a review--more like a rant/fangirl gush of me discovering Laini Taylor's genius. (I know, I'm quite late. But Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the third book, is only about 4 months away...which is still not really okay because LAINI, I NEED IT NOW.)

So of course, I want to know the genius behind the masterpiece, you know?

A writing friend recommended her blog to me a while ago during NaNo, but after reading her books, I did some more in-depth browsing and came across this blog post:


It's a very, very good post.

Hilarious pictures aside, Laini talks about the writing process and getting it right, not getting it fast. She quotes advice from Patrick Rothfuss, "It will only be late once, but it will suck forever."

Here, she put it in caps and big font, so I will too.


There? Okay. We can go on. I'll explain.

So basically, I was a teen when I wrote the TeaNovel. I still am a teen. Coming off multiple successes and bounties from NaNoWriMo, I always had the solid mentality of "Get it down, you can fix it later. Blindly throw crap at the wall and hope it sticks."

Which was good advice...for the first draft.

But numerous rewrites later, I still had the "Get it down, you can fix it later" mentality. I wanted to get it done. I was being so smug and everything, telling the few people I trusted, "Yeah. I rewrote the entire thing in a month."

Okay, so I still continued some of my successes. The plot improved drastically. Huge improvements and developments.

But the writing...not so much. I thought I was making so much progress, rewriting a scene over and over without slowing down, and when I got the plot down and it came down to the writing, I passed it off and I vowed that I would fix it later.

Without slowing down and paying attention to the writing, I thought I was finishing the story, but I was so focused on getting it down rather than getting it right, that the gap in the writing that I ignored came back to bite me in the ass, and I faced mountain after mountain of rewrites.

Let me rephrase it, in big font.

Because I was so focused on racing through it and getting it down, I thought I was finishing the story faster, but in reality I was setting myself up for more work in the end. 

This time, I'm doing my last edits on it. Plot is okay, but the writing needs a LOT of work.


But this time, I'll give it the time it needs. Maybe I'll take more than a month. Now as I'm getting nearer and nearer to the finish line I have set up for myself, it all comes down to the writing.

I will be careful. I will be meticulous and I will be gentle and delicate and intricate.

This time, I know I have it down. This time, I want to get it right. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Days of Blood and Starlight

Hahahaha I lied.

I didn't completely disappear of the face of this blog.

Not yet.

Blog, I am completely, utterly, fairytale-swoon-esque, glitter and fairies, absolutely starstruck with Laini Taylor and her writing.

I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone about one or two months ago, and I remember being interested in it, even though that cover flap summary did fall a bit flat. But at urging of Samantha Shannon on Twitter, I decided to give it a go.

I liked Daughter. I love how it painted a slow romance and intrigue, how Laini handled everything so smoothly, so effortlessly. There was humor, there was magic, there was blood and a semi-apocalypse that grew into a bigger apocalypse in Book 2.

But I LOVED Days of Blood and Starlight. Laini Taylor said in an interview that Daughter and Days were very different book, with Daughter being a romance and Days being a war book. And it was so, so true. Daughter revealed Laini's grace and talent, like a singer coming up as a contestant in a show with a simple, glittering dress, singing a sweet, beautiful ballad or something. I could sense something new. Something else. But Days---oh my goodness--it was like the singer coming back on stage and lighting it on fire and smoke while dancing in Katniss's burning dress and belting out Idina Menzel's "Defying Gravity."

It was electric. Emotions were amplified and brought out with her expert prose. There was indeed violence and gore, and sex, but it was so well-handled that it was essential to the plot, and nothing seemed strained or overplayed. Themes resurfaced and I remember crying--literally crying during the scene when Akiva and Karou met again after the awful truth--it was full of stakes and tension and such raw emotion. I could sense every bit of sadness and betrayal and oh, oh my God. It wrote of a pure love that was the double-edged sword that hinted at hope and redemption, but also brought upon consequences of a deadly war between the seraphim (angels) and the chimaera (devils).

Laini Taylor does it perfectly. Even the humor is subtle and incredibly nuanced. It was heavily fantasy, but it also had a fairytale folklore element that made it so it wasn't a cliche, archetypal high fantasy. The world of Eretz, where the seraphim and the chimaera dwelled, was so, so real. It was magical and ethereal and heartbreaking and a work of art.

Now I am eyeing the release date for Dreams of Gods and Monsters...

April 8, 2014.

Dear God, can I wait that long?

*grabby hands*

Okay, back to my writing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Princess makeovers. And, uh, other stuff.

My blog post titles are getting atrocious. Apologies.

I have been slowly, slowly coming to a realization.

So these posts of distress I have been putting on the blog? I have been reading over my TeaNovel.

To put it in a brief summary; It was a little rougher than I thought.

Plot is solid. I can see the potential in the story.

The problem lies in the prose, and the pacing--my writing is very odd and fast-paced in all the wrong places and it sounds so undoubtedly juvenile.

So basically, if I may make the comparison, it's like Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries.

This is what my novel is like right now:

This is what I want it to be like:

And sometimes I read the amazing, brilliant novels of the YA genre and they're so awesome and beautiful and gorgeous like this:


I realize that I have lots to do, on the small-scale level. Right now, I see some good parts of my novel, but the writing, when I'm being critical (as I should be), is a bit of a mess. Nowhere near the status of good. It will need a lot of changing.

The good news? I don't need to break every bone in the plot anymore to make it work.

Bad news? I need a curling iron. And some contacts. And makeup. My novel needs a makeover.

I have already disbanded from Twitter for a short while, and though I may blog sometime this Winter Break, my time will pretty much be fully devoted to writing and studying for Finals. Oh, and I also have a pile of projects that my classes decided to throw in at the last minute.

That GIF is a work of art.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Yes, a mountain is staring me in the face.

This winter break will be completely hectic.

Not only do I have finals to study for (my school's finals are in the second week of January! Euhh!) I also have about fifty projects to start and complete. Oh, right, I almost forgot. I also have a novel to edit.


This week has been so busy. Because of the aforementioned sadism above, the week before winter break is cleared for teachers to squeeze in tests and throw in a project or two.

So the plan is this, friends; this Winter Break, I'm going to be disbanding from my good friend the Internet and go hermit in my library and edit and eat chocolate and possibly cry.

I have so, so much to do.

But I will do it.

But here is a song for you, though. I swear to God, if I get through the next two weeks alive...

Beyonce will make it happen.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some things I'm thinking about

This is going to be quite an honest post.

Right now I'm sitting in sweats, listening to Skinny Love, sung by Birdy. Cheap earbud inserted into my ear. Procrastinating on my English and World Civ. homework.

But it's rather funny, isn't it? These times when you're in the most normal of situations, but this feeling rises in you that you can't quite explain, like everything inside you is radically shifting, changing, when all you are doing is tapping away at a keyboard, pouring your thoughts into a blog post.

This past weekend, on Friday the 13th specifically, a lot of seniors from my school got accepted to the college of their dreams.

I'm a freshman in high school right now. And I'm not going to lie; there's a lot of college talk. Not just from my parents--it's been discussed lightly in halls, words passed off as casual banter.

I've been wondering about this a lot and I feel like today, I'm going to finally open up about my thoughts.

College has always been the gold standard of education. I totally do want to go to college, get a good education, and move into what is supposed to be the beginning of an accomplished adult life. College is a privilege, not a right, and I respect that.

But I'm wondering--and please don't blame me for this--can college make you blindsided?

My parents, my friends, some teachers put the goalpost of COLLEGE firmly planted in my sight. I should be getting serious about college. Do things to get into college. Get good grades. On and on. It has never been explicitly told to me, but the presence of college pops up freshman year, and then throughout the years, it intensifies.  

I have aspirations to publish a novel. Nowhere is "publish a novel" in the proverbial checklist to get into college. Writing is indeed very personal to me, and publishing is a hard world to break into, and even harder to become successful in.

Is it wild of me to have aspirations that are beyond getting into college? To dream of something that most adults would frown off? I have looked up so many author blogs, done research on agents. I have read about the entire publishing process. I have goals set for me and my novels. I know that if I fail one time, I try another. I may not be good at writing, but I know this; I do truly aspire.

Should the fact that I'm a high school student and that I should be focusing on schoolwork and extracurricular activities deter my writing? I have been told that I can always do my writing "later" but I don't want to start writing seriously "later" because why not start now? I'm fourteen--by the time I am twenty-four, I will surely write better than I do now.

And I've always had this little anarchist side to me, this urge to express my thoughts and honesty. The point I'm making is; I want to get into college, and I will definitely try hard to get into college, but I really, really don't want predetermined assumptions and generic expectations to get in the way of doing what I want to do at my age.

Whew. I hope I got my scattered thoughts into one coherent post. I'll be back.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I have just realized

The second part of my novel is the part that makes me cringe.

Its like--like seeing a childhood friend of yours and it's waving enthusiastically at you but you're standing there, thinking, "Uh. The clothes she wears...and she hasn't brushed her hair..."

Inside, my novel's middle part has a good core, I believe. And if I told it to brush its hair and put on a respectable t-shirt and stop wearing mismatched socks on purpose, it would be much, much better.

Thing is, right now I'm afraid, embarassed to even stare it in the face.

Means only one thing.


That old, dear friend has come back again.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On embracing fears and being willing to work hard.

It's been a transformative few weeks. 

Right after NaNo, I jumped back into my old TeaNovel. I posted that lovely calendar for myself in a burst of energy. 

And then I reread TeaNovel.

It was...not as good as I expected. 

I began to see some of the flaws that I hadn't seen before. I saw that though the pacing was good, the mood wasn't set, and it was all a bit shallow. It didn't have enough depth. 

And I was moaning and groaning to myself, whining that I had already rewritten TeaNovel 3 times, that I thought that I had mostly untangled knots that weren't supposed to be there. 

I was afraid, really afraid that I would spend so much effort to do this, but in the end, it would all be for nothing. The publishing world really is fair. I believe in that strongly. 

Today I realized something. 

Now, I have to be willing to work. 

This isn't the school world, where you write snippets of essays and turn them in for a grade, and if it was long and well-thought, it got high marks. Not to mention that the teachers are obligated to read the papers. 

The publishing world isn't like that.

It is real. I am on the real arena, the real stage, being evaluated. In short, I have to ask myself: would someone spend potentially hours, weeks reading this? 

I was used to half-ass my way through school and get good grades. Now that I'm in high school, it's considerably more challenging, but still I'm not walking along the edge, completely focused, my stakes hanging on the tightrope.  

But for writing, I finally realize what it means to completely devote yourself to something that you love, to be willing to put in hours and days and potentially months and years to dedicate yourself to this one story that could potentially fall short.

I have to try anyways. 

The fear is there, real and ever-present. It resembles a small house-elf, staring at me with its spiteful little eyes. "You can't do it," it says. "Go back and do legitimate things. You're not good enough."

I try to be patient with the little monster. Give it cake and listen to the sharp, brutal words. 

And I try really, really hard to take in the fear. 

It still is difficult. 

But what else can I do?

Because in moments like these, there is no choice other than to pour your heart into something like this. 

Don't complain, Christina. You're doing what you love and in the end, you have to work as hard as you wish for it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Also: must-watch for teens/fans of Maggie Stiefvater

This is a TED Talk she gave a while ago.

I actually watched it for the tenth time when this message finally sank into me, but she gives great points and charming anecdotes, with that dry, Maggie humor of hers.

The point of the video? Don't blindly believe in the labels others stick onto you. Stay true to your own self.

It's a great talk.Watch it.

stuff to do

Okay, so today I played at my last piano competition.

*whew* That's out of the way.

(After a hugely stressful week, you have no idea how much joy it brings me to sit in sweats and type out a blog post.)

So after these few crazy weeks, I will have the entirety of Winter Break to study for final...and revise!!!


I have tests, projects, stuffs and stuffs to do, so for this week and the next, well...I hope it passes fast.

Right now, here are my goals:

-Dec-Jan 2013/2014: Finish last edits on TeaNovel, and then start querying/sending it out.

-Rest of Jan 2014: Plan out my SuperShinyNovel.

-Feb-April 2014: 2nd draft overhaul/rewrite of SuperShinyNovel.

-Nebulous time in the summer/fall of 2014: Query SuperShinyNovel.

That makes me a tiny bit nervous to type out. But my plan is to wrap TeaNovel up, and then while I'm querying it, I'll take my mind off of it by focusing on my current novel.

I seriously have no idea what to expect.

So yeah.