Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I LOVE the book/publishing community

...Because yesterday and today, an awesome, AWESOME thing happened. Nearly everyone I follow on Twitter was tweeting. With the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag.

Streams of tweets with reasons for why diverse books are needed, with characters of every race, gender and orientation. Situations that defy the stereotypes.

I've never been very much a person to stand on a chair and shout for a cause. Growing up, I knew that my race was different from others, and for the most part, I was fine with it. Of course, I didn't see too much representation of Asian characters in novels (other than the heavily stereotyped), but it was okay--I still found strength and an identity in myself.

Until I wrote TeaNovel.

Up until that point, I had been writing fantasy novels. And...though it wasn't at the front of my mind, all my characters were mostly white. Well, some weren't. But I still wrote in a strictly English-based world.

TeaNovel is something close to my heart. It wasn't that way at first. I was...scared to love TeaNovel. Scared to write it. Even more scared to talk about it.


Because it is a novel that isn't set in an English-based world. Because it touches on another culture that, in my opinion, isn't represented enough in YA literature. Because it has characters that are of another race.

You know what my dad said about it?

"It's not very marketable, is it? A novel with a culture based on imperial China? They won't connect with your characters."

My dad did not mean that in a malicious way whatsoever. In fact, he's quite supportive of me and my writing. But I know--my dad probably hasn't read an english book about characters in Asian cultures.

But the way he said it--so matter of fact--it made me a little sad.

And for a while, I believed him. And I worried. I worried that no one would connect with a novel I loved because it was set in a different culture.


I realize now that people love to read about different things. They love to touch on the exotic, the foreign, especially if it's portrayed beautifully.

And guess what?

The manuscript I originally thought wouldn't appeal to anyone? It's actually gotten a few requests from agents, and people have marveled over the world I've portrayed. It makes me proud. Proud of my novel and its wonderful culture. Proud of how hard I worked on it, and proud of the world and different characters that I wrote about.

This is amazing, people.

Authors and writers, go on. Write about places you've never seen, but have fallen in love with. Characters who are different than you are that touch your heart. Because for once, the book and publishing community come together as one, and from both sides, they advocate: "WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS."


Sunday, April 27, 2014

In other news...

I'm going to the 2014 Writer's Digest conference!

In New York!


I'm actually very, very excited. This is the first legitimate writer's conference I'm going to, and I can't wait to go back to New York! (I'm under 18, so I couldn't go to SCBWI last year :(--but they were very kind and sent me some materials to make up for it!)

I've been a longtime fan of WD and to attend an actual writer's conference, with pitch sessions and keynotes and panels is just...a writer's little dream come true.

I'm so, so excited. I'll wait to collect all the responses on TeaNovel--I still have some fulls out, but likely I'll be working on MagicalNovel by the time the conference rolls around (August 1-3).


Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Thing about Middles

When we read a book, we remember the beginning and the end. The beginning lines, the first conceptions of a story. We remember the lingering feeling of the last lines as we close the pages of a good book.

The middles are a blur.

Story middles are meant to be messed-up by design. Middles are stories of tiny victories and looming despairs. Middles are where the hero gets lost, where the protagonist gets beaten down again and again.

Middles are sometimes forgettable. There are some bright lights that stand out in the darkness, but they're generally remembered as the mess the character goes through before the emerged, changed and victorious in their own way.

But middles are the most important parts of a story.

Because through the mess of circumstances, a hero changes. They become stronger. Their character arc becomes darker. They get kicked down, but the bruises make their bones stronger and the cuts leave battle scars. They learn to hold their head high.

Middles are where discoveries happen. There is the unexpected, beautiful line of prose. The sudden action of a character that spins you for a surprise.

When you are living your story's middle, you have no idea where you're going. You don't know the end. You can't peek at the last pages, because they haven't been written yet. You must fight your way through.

Middles are complicated, frustrating, and confusing as hell. But in their ways, middles create their magic too--a nostalgic sense of journey, of reaching for something you've only had in your dreams.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A little look into TeaNovel

After I did the "Writing Process Blog Hop", I decided to go a little into the novel I've been working on for a while (and am now querying). Today is a little bit of a "teaser package" for my story that I've been talking my ear off about.  Songs, outlines, visions,'s featured here today.

This was--is--my editorial vision for TeaNovel. 

I guess this was my "revision" plan, in the very literal sense--I was "re-visioning" my story.

I want readers to be immersed into a beautiful, detailed, imaginative world.

I want readers to be sucked into mystery--I want to build intrigue that makes the story hard to put down.

And I want a memorable character. My main character isn't an incredible kick-ass at the beginning of the novel. She's spent her life fading into the shadows; she's a little tragic, a little broken.  But she has a story to tell. She has a quiet strength inside of her. And she is the one who saves the people around her--and herself.

 The "song" of this novel:

Maybe it's the opening chords, or the background instrumentals, or Lana's sweet, sad voice...there's something in this song that stayed with me throughout TeaNovel's hardest rounds of revisions. This was the song I kept going back to, the song whose mood seemed to sum up the essence of the novel. (Even though the lyrics have nothing to do with the story :) )

And a teaser:

"It was spreading, filling the air with the sickly sweet scent, until I gagged and doubled over as the smoke filled my head...
They were moving towards me. The lily smoke was filling the room. I clutched the knife until the edge of the blade sliced into my own fist.
A long shriek echoed around the room. The knife trembled in my hand, the smoke stinging my eyes. My head spun.
Time and time again, I had thrust out the knife, and ran.

This time, I stood against him, and I lost."

Sooo...that's it, I guess? I feel like a teaser like this was a little overdue, since I've been talking about this WIP for so long...:P

Next post will probably be on spring things and the lack of chocolate. May involve some tea.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Writing Progress Blog Hop

So a few days ago, the amazing Adriana (AKA YA BookNook) tagged me for this. I thought it looked like a pretty awesome/informational/update-ish thing to do, so here goes!


1. What am I working on?

At this point in time, there is not a lot of solid writing/drafting being done. Nor is there a lot of revising. Mostly...simmering.

This spring is basically a transition of sorts. I'm a big believer in taking breaks and hiatuses to recharge for another "writing season" ahead (On the other hand, when I'm drafting, it's an intense month, or two months. Revisions are the same--they're done in frenzied chunks of about 3 months.)

As of now, I'm querying TeaNovel--tentatively titled Blood Lily. It's basically a YA light fantasy--sort of like Memoirs of a Geisha combined with elements of a drug thriller. Querying is basically an essay made of long sentences of waiting, punctuated by an occasional period of  "RE: QUERY" (cue the millisecond of frenzy while your fate loads onto the phone screen).

But starting in May, when my schedule calms down, I'll be heading into revisions for MagicalThing, which involves fairy tales and a competition of magic, of two empires that head into centuries-old war. I'm very, very excited.

2. Why do I write what I do?

I write because when I was a little kid, my grandfather told me historical stories and myths and somehow, I became a storyteller.  But my imagination has always been way too big for my own good.

3. How does my writing process work?

The truest answer is; I don't have one. (This post of mine goes a little more into that)

But--I have many writing tendencies. I'm the "write drunk, edit sober" kind of person. I speed through the first draft, usually the wild, crazy NaNoWriMo style. I don't rush--I just pack an insane amount of drafting within a short timeframe, and then I take a month or two off to recuperate.

I prefer complete rewrites over big revision overhauls, but my favorite parts of writing are the first drafts.

I am a strange kind of pantser--I cannot, for the life of me, outline on paper, or on Post-its, or index cards--but I won't write a scene until it plays itself out in my head.

I like music--a combination of soundtracks and songs with great lyrics/music combos.

Tea and coffee are equal wordboosters in my mind, and I love them both. But my default is usually tea.

Chocolate is always the best food option. When it's not available, I eat my writer's angst and self-doubt for dinner.

But at the end of the day, I think stories are the most kickass things in the world, and I love every bit of the process--writing them, reading them, telling them and hearing them.


Those were really nice questions! I tag: Rosanna Silverlight and Marisa Hopkins

Sunday, April 13, 2014

On the Timesuck Vortex of Waiting

If there's one thing the process of querying has taught me, it's this: patience.

I am an impulsive, impatient person by nature. I'm quick to learn, reluctant to drill and practice. Writing's the one thing that's challenged me consistently, and the first out of many things that showed me that above luck, above talent, it's the hard work that makes things happen. It smoothed some of that impatience out of me.

There was that one thing though--writing was controlled by me, and me alone. I had my timeframe in my hands.

But when you submit your work out--when you send your manuscript baby out, or submit it to betas and CPs--you hand over some of that control. You get introduced to this little rascal, called Waiting.

Waiting is hard. Waiting is agonizing. There were times when I refreshed my email inbox 100 times a day. When I clicked on my mail app every 4 minutes.

I don't do that anymore.

Sarah J. Maas says that querying makes you a spine of steel. I think she's right.  For me, it's not the requests or rejections that define querying for me, but the waiting.

Strangely, now I'm okay with this. Even from the beginning, when I was frazzled and impatient, I seemed to instinctively understand from the get-go that publishing would be a waiting game, and now I've internalized it. It's not like I'm in no hurry--I still have quite an ambitious mentality--but I've become quite accepting of the process.

April is so busy with crazy schoolwork and extracurriculars that it's taken my mind off from querying. A little.