Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Revisions update

Hey guys!

School was canceled for two days because of sub-zero weather, so guess where I am? The revision rabbit hole! Well, more like editing.

My writing may not be at its most coherent right now, because I was up until 2 am yesterday editing the midpoint (the feast scene, with gowns and drama and whatever) and I'm a little behind on where I thought I should be. That will definitely get fixed, though.

So, after discovering the Is There Anybody out There album, (link to the post here) I listened to it nonstop. And I'm still flailing around in my story and trudging through my suck dragons and shouting my fears down in the face (Susan Dennard did a fabulous post here). But for the first time, I feel like I can finally cup the core of my story in my hands, instead of groping blindly through mountains and piles of words in a futile attempt to latch onto an idea.

It's no longer the thrilling flash of discovery as you find a scene spilling out of your fingers, raw and brilliant, but more like polishing a chandelier; it's tedious work, over and over again, but as you rub and rub, you slowly see that it, indeed, can be pretty.

My earphones are back in. I'm off for now. :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

For all the dreaming writers and aspiring authors.

This album says it all.

Every song in there expresses all the longing, all the dreams, all the hopes I ever had, with music made of notes that somehow connect in your brain and make you dizzy from an overload of awesome. 

("If only New York wasn't so far away...")

<3 <3

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Author's purpose! (and food comparisons)

When I was a little kid in elementary school, I was in one of those accelerated programs for reading. And...teachers said I wasn't good at reading comprehension.

Turns out, I am actually quite good at analyzing works of writing. But they gave us a dreaded list of terminology we had to memorize, and worksheets to be filled...and they were boring. Things like mood, scene, antagonist, denouement, and...author's purpose. 

I *dreaded* that. 

Now, roughly five years later, I am talking about author's purpose. Maybe I'll wait a few years and be chugging black coffee and running on 3 hours of sleep. 

But sarcasm aside, today I kinda want to talk about author's intent and purpose, with some food comparisons. (no, really. There's actually is food involved.)

So today I came across a lovely video on YouTube with author Kiera Cass...talking a little about author's doubt and how...how her book will make a difference and why it stands out. 

So basically she is in the midst of editing her book The Selection. She says (if I may heavily paraphrase), "There are some books that are chock-full of information. Like those dishes that are healthy and have a little bit of every food group in it."

"Come to think of it, my book doesn't really have *nutritional value*."

She goes on to say, "And there are some authors with ideas so grandiose and complex--you know they're shooting for the New York Times Bestseller List. They're like those restaurants with those fancy square plats and the swoop of sauce and that fancy green sprig you're not really sure you're supposed to eat or not."

"My book really isn't like that, either. My book isn't fancypants."


"You know what my book is like? Mac and cheese. Mac and cheese and potatoes and apple pie. My book is comfort food. No matter what, you always return to it."

Man, oh man. Kiera Cass, you are a smart cookie. 

I have a brilliant author friend who once was a concert pianist, and she once told me about how to play a piano piece. "You have to think about the intent," she said, "Even past the dynamics and melodies and crescendos....it has to build up to a meaning, an intent." 

So, to author's purpose. And to me thinking about what my book was about.

I will come up front and tell you that TeaNovel is different. Very, very different. It's not a grand, magical, glittering fantasy. It is not a cute, swoony romance. it is not a terrifying, haunting dystopia, complete with horrifying scientific measures of law enforcement and a love interest that stepped out of a model shoot. 

Clearly, my novel intent isn't an electric, fast-paced plot. It isn't a formulaic novel that hits all the YA checkboxes. No. My novel's story--I would describe as strange, but reminiscent of home. A Marriott inn in a foreign country. Exotic, but hopefully comfortable enough. 

And for my novel's prose--I want you, the reader, to feel. 

I want to evoke emotions. I add some literary flair, but weave it in the lines so it is nearly inconspicuous among the concise prose, but just enough to leave an aftertaste on your tongue. I want you to know what sadness feels like without melodrama. It's not operatic tears and moans and screams, but it's that quiet, bitter coldness that reaches your bones before you realize it. 

That is my author's intent. 

My novel is a hanging mess of balancing acts, but I hope someday the cards will fall right, and it will turn out well and hit the sweet spot I have imagined for it all along. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

On story endings...

This is something I have been thinking about for a long, long time.

It's been in the back of my mind a lot, but as you all probably know, two months ago, Veronica Roth's Allegiant, the third book to the Divergent series, came out.

And...there was a lot  of backlash.

Author Samantha Shannon brought it up on Twitter a little bit afterwards, asking thought-provoking questions such about endings and society's expectations of how stories end, especially one with such hype and acclaim as that of the Divergent trilogy.

So I know I am quite late to put together my thoughts, but I wanted to take things into consideration when the storm had quieted, a little. This isn't a review of Allegiant. It's an blog rant, I suppose, on the relationship between the author and the reader, between doing the story justice and doing the readers justice--they usually go hand in hand, but what if they clash? And when they clash, what happens?

There will, however, be spoilers. I think a lot of you have read this book already, but just in case--a disclaimer.




At the end of the series, at the end of Allegiant, the main character, Tris Prior, dies.

This is a very unusual decision for the author to carry out. Some considered it even egregious, and the book was slammed by readers almost based on the ending alone.

Now, I know that some readers did find faults with the story, with character development and with the writing, and offered a harsh, but fair critique. I respect that and understand that. Despite everything, we do need negative critics in this world.  However, some readers hated the book and the author solely because she did not deliver a happy ending on a silver platter with dancing fawns. There were vicious insults and physical threats involved.

Bookverse, we need to talk about that.

I realize that readers are very important to an author. In today's world especially, when social media is so intertwined with the publishing industry, readers have more power than ever. Readers are not regarded as a passive species anymore, but as an active, dynamic, presence, and through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs and various other social platforms, the author is so accessible to the readers--they interact with us and prompt us and value our feedback. Readers have power over the author, and rightly so, because we are the ones who buy their art, so we must have a say. We shape the audience and the general populace. Sometimes, many times, authors are pressured to change stories to adapt to the mainstream tastes--sometimes even against their own will.

But in the end, we are just that--readers. We are not the author, and though we are fully entitled to enjoy or dislike a book of our own free will, we have absolutely no right to directly interfere with the author's purpose, or the story to get a version that we want, and we cannot presume that we have such a right.

Because in the end, even before the readers, the authors owe themselves to the story.


I know that once, Veronica Roth wasn't a smash-hit New York Times bestselling author with a rockstar celebrity status in the publishing world. Once upon a time, Veronica Roth was a college student who sat alone in her dorm room and wrote the novel of her heart. Ages before any of you guys ever caught a glimpse of Divergent, Veronica wrote the book, and in that moment, the story was hers. It was hers to tell. The story, the characters' fates--it all belonged to her.

And people--she did it right. In the end, I believe she did the story justice.

Because the world of Divergent wasn't like a scary movie set. It was brutal and broken and dark, through and through. In a world that seethed with danger and violence and tragedy--was it not realistic that even the main character could possibly die? I admire the courage Veronica took to stick to the guts of the world, to make the circumstances devastating and real and--dystopian. It's not a suspenseful bedtime story where you're taken through some frightening twists but all's well in the end. There are consequences. And there is death.

Some may argue that Veronica crossed the line, that she killed off the main character to create a gut-wrenching scenario or to add shock value--but she didn't. She clearly had the series planned out, and she explains it so, so well here. There was a clear character arc, and death was a vital part of it. If it was an illogical, brash ending, I would have joined in on the protests--but it wasn't.

And to me--the ending felt right. I'm not one of those people who crave melodrama. Sure, I bawled my eyes out. Sure, maybe I was angry, a little bitter about the ending. But the feeling didn't last long, through, because in my heart of hearts, I knew that was the only ending that would fit the story and the world she created.

So back to readers, and authors. One thing many wise readers understand (and it's still something I'm struggling to grasp) is that authors are artists, and they contribute art to the world that is sometimes very difficult to understand. We, as the readers and consumers, are the judges and critics and admirers. But there is a fine balance between the reader's rights and the author's rights; the authors feed us wisdom and emotions and ideas, while we make it possible for them to carry on their work.

But we can't touch the art itself. We can't demand for the author to rewrite the ending and publish it. In the end, we must respect that balance, in order for truly good art to be made.


So this post was actually quite emotional to write...any comments? Thoughts? Please feel free to share.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The new year is upon us.


I hope 2014 is going to be a great year :)

My heart's full of goals and dreams and wishes, but I shall leave you with two songs:

Team, by Lorde--what more can this song say? It's about teens who are growing up, discovering that the world is not as perfect as it was portrayed, but loving their lives anyways.

My favorite line: "We live in cities...you'll never see onscreen, not very pretty but we sure know how to run things."

I'm changing and evolving this year. Even in the writing world--these two blog posts by Jessica Spotswood and Erin Bowman open up and are honest about the good and the bad side of the very competitive book industry, how it is not all glamor and promotion and book tours--and how sometimes, you may not live to your expectations.

But I'm happy writing. I'm love the world I'm in. I  am in love with storytelling and writing novels and creating places and emotions out of a sea of words. It may not be the shiny, instant NY Times Bestseller life that others see, but I love it. My dreams still hold steady, but I want to love the world I'm surrounded in, regardless of how imperfect it seems.


It's Time, by Imagine Dragons.

I love this song to death. And I think the words--"It's Time to Begin..." are perfect for the New Year and for the hopes I have in me.

Any songs to define your goals this year?