Monday, June 30, 2014

The Ending

The ending is the hardest part to write for M2. I just can't get it down. I've changed it on every single draft, so you can better believe it's rough. Going through what I wrote for my third draft was overwhelming; I just didn't know where to start. How could it be fixed? What should I keep?

Not sure how to tackle it, I closed my eyes and just imagined it. And instead of working in the draft and making changes, I decided to just put pen to paper and wrote it out in a summary style.

Then I felt it, that little click within you that lets you know it fits. This is the ending that the book wants and I just finally figured it out. I have major rewriting to do, but I know it won't need major changes after I get it down. The story's complete and it's finally come full circle. All I need is to execute it.

It's funny. This whole weekend I worried about it. I went running to help clear my mind and get inspiration but came back with nothing. Sunday I was in a funk and just didn't know what to do and over wine told one of my writer friends about my finicky ending. Little did I know it was just waiting to come me.

Better late than never I guess!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Kate Spade Surprise

I am the luckiest girl in the world. I have the best boyfriend ever. Here's why:

Yesterday was a typical day. I went to work. Then Michael took me out for lunch during my lunch break. I drove home after work, but was stuck in traffic for like an hour. By the time I got home I only had like 5 minutes before I had to meet with my writing partner. Michael was so sweet he fixed me up dinner (I can get really cranky whenever I skip/delay a meal). I swallowed it whole in like 3 minutes and left.

By the time I got home, Michael was still out at a barbeque so I got into comfy clothes and relaxed by watching the premier of Big Brother (I'm a huge fan of the show.)

When Michael came home he had leftovers of Hello Robin cookies from the barbeque. So there I was, stuffing my face with cookies on a typical night in front of the tube.

Then Michael pokes his head from the bedroom and says, "I got something for you," and unveils a brown satchel. Immediately I knew there was a purse inside, but I was so shocked I just stared. He handed it to me along with a note:

Turns out, after meeting me for lunch, he went to the mall and got me this beauty:

He completely blindsided me with the surprise! I love it and am proudly sporting it today. My boyfriend has such great taste and I'm so glad he's all mine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) by Tammara Webber

I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.


Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn't easy...

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior...

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he'd worked so hard to overcome, and the future she'd put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth - and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl's struggle to regain the trust she's lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

Review: This is my go-to book that I'm recommending to everyone and anyone who'll listen. I don't read New Adult as often as Young Adult books, but I think that'll soon change with books like this one. Thank goodness for Goodreads, because I don't think I would have found this book otherwise.

So where to begin? I finished this in like two nights. Webber does a great job with characterizing, pacing, and creating authentic dialogue. "I felt like I knew these people," I told Michael after reading it, to which he replied, "You know they aren't real, right?" I shook my head. "They are real! They're alive in these words!"

When you can feel like that after a book, you know it's great. I fell quickly for Lucas and became so proud of Jacqueline by the end of the novel. And once I finished I felt empty because the story was over. It really made me think about my own novel and made me wonder if my characters were vibrant enough that readers would feel attached.

Then I found out there's a book two in Lucas's point of view and my emptiness went away :P Just downloaded it on my kindle and can't wait to read it!

If you like comtemporary romance with a badass good-hearted hero, pick this up. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winter to Summer Writing Progress

This was me writing and taking a shameless selfie during the Winter. I had just finished the first draft of M2 and was working on the second. I didn't let anyone read a single page.

This was me this weekend. It's summer. Draft three is done. It is finally being read and critiqued.

And now, I am one third done with my fourth draft revisions. Draft Four. Can you believe it? I've taken many breaks and felt like giving up in these past eight months, so I've written this post to remind myself of this great feat I am undertaking and to encourage myself to keep going.

I've heard some writers say that you have to learn to love the process of writing to be a writer, and I'm trying to do just that. It's not about the end game. It's about the words, the characters, and their story.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Solstice Celebrations

The weather's finally starting to look up and feel like summer here in Seattle, and I couldn't be any happier!

Michael and I kicked off my 3-day weekend with our favorite, Bottlehouse. I always love dessert with wine and their strawberry rhubarb with a shortbread cookie did not disappoint!

On Friday morning I met with my writing critique partner over coffee to go over edits on our manuscripts. Instead of our usual hour, we talked for almost three. So many kinks to work out! I'm just so thankful for our writing partnership, I feel like I'm learning so much from that I have a feeling draft four will bring my manuscript close to where I want it to be. Afterwards, I sat down to write on Michael and I's new dining table.

Check out our cool wine art!
Friday night we took it easy and went to eat vegetarian thai and grabbed drinks and dessert on Broadway. Once we came home, I watched the Delirium's pilot episode on Hulu. Loved Emma Roberts in it. I can't believe Fox passed on the show!

Yesterday, we went out for breakfast and took it pretty easy before going to his sister housewarming party which was a blast. After, Michael and I went to Ballard for our date night and went to The Walrus and Carpenter for dinner. This place is such a gem and as great as we remembered. For my first time there, check out the post here.

We started off with oysters. Let me just say vino verde and oysters pair so damn well together.

 Then these babies below just about blew my mind:

smoked herring croquettes
 Michael really loved this one:

spicy sausage
 Then we just had to get the steak tartare. The last time I had it was two years ago in Paris.

steak tartare
Dessert was a no-brainer for us. We fell in love with this dessert the last time we came so we just had to get it again. By far, one of he top desserts I've had in Seattle!

maple bread pudding
 When we got home, Blaire immediately started scenting our shoes and demanding rubs. Looks like this little guy missed us!

This year will be my first official year in Seattle. Last year I was in and out switching back and forth to Sacramento, so it will be interesting where this summer takes me. I do have my sights on eastern Washington though. Anywhere there's wine, I'm totally there.

Here's to one heck of a summer :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: We'll Always Have Summer (Summer #3) by Jenny Han

I rated it 2.5 stars out of 5.

Overview: It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever

Review: Too predicatable. Han changes POV again by including Conrad's side instead of Jeremiah's making it known that Belly and Conrad will end up together. I guess how they get there is the part worth reading. I read this trilogy because it was an easy quick read that was entertaining. It's what my co-worker would call 'trashy romance novels,' that you just gotta read once in awhile. In my case, it was the YA drama I had to get out of my system.

If you like drama where two brother's are fighting over one girl, then this trilogy is for you. Otherwise, I'd pick up Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before for a cutesy fun romance.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: It's Not Summer Without You (Summer #2) by Jenny Han

I rated it 2.8 out of 5 stars.
Overview: Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

Review: The sequel to The Summer I Turned Pretty was predictable, just like the first book. However, it's an easy read so I got through it pretty quickly. Han changes POV in the sequel by including Jeremiah's POV which already tells us that Belly's going to choose him and give up on Conrad by the end of the novel. It's a major giveaway which takes the suspense out of the love triangle, though I kinda don't like Conrad anyway, so I was cool with it.

The novel was character-driven instead of plot-driven, but I'm not a fan of Belly's character so the sequel kind of fell flat for me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

Overview: Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along

Review: I read this relatively quickly, and I found it to be enjoyable. It's a great summer read that I'm sure my 16 year-old self would love. However, I rated it only 3 stars because I didn't empathize with the protagonist. She was a bit too whiny for my taste. I also found it to be really predicatable, but sometimes I like watching my predictions unfold so it wasn't that bad. I give kudos to Han on her ability to bring the characters to life. It was like reading about people I knew. Nontheless, Han delivered enough for me to pick up book the second book of the trilogy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Gloom Weekend

Blaire on Friday the 13th! Scary, right?
How was your weekend? Mine was great depite the June Gloom weather in Seattle! I'm loving my three-day weekends lately. The ten hour shifts takes getting used to, but alas, I think I've got my routine going. Well, just as long as I get my daily java.

I'm addicted, I know.
This weekend was one dedicated to leisure. I cruised through Jenny Han's books, took warm baths, finally got my hair cut, mani pedi, celebrated Father's day with Michael's family, watched movies, and ate well.

By eating well, I mean this:

Bottlehouse mac n' cheese, that was so heavenly I would feel guilty if I ever ate it again!
 Not to mention tapas at Tango (below is my favorite plate of the night):

And of course, Michael and I had to watch 22 Jump Street, which was just as hilarious as the first one. We also watched the new x-men movie too, both of which I highly recommend.

It definitely feels like summer when the best movies come out. If only the weather would catch up!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stickin' to it and finishing.

I'm really bad at sticking to one thing and doing it well. I think I get bored easily or maybe I always get excited about something else that I forget about everything else entirely. For example:

Piano? 2 years. Flute? 3 years. Volleyball? 6 years. Soccer? 4 years. Vegan? 30 days. Vegetarian? Approximately 90 days? Pescatarian? 1 year. Competitive running? 1.5 years. Guitar? 5 years. Hot Yoga? 3 months. Boxing? 2 months.

What does this have to do with anything Michelle?

Well, because I have a difficult time staying passionate about one thing, it makes it really difficult for me to finish anything. And this is a real big problem because writing a novel takes commitment and time.

I wrote the first and second draft of M2 in like 5 months. But when it came to draft three I finished 2/3 of it in a month, and then just stopped writing for two months. I crashed and burned. I was just falling out of love with the story and feeling burnt out. And the more distance I put between myself and finishing draft three, the more anxious I was starting to become about getting back to it.

Source: caffeineglaore (tumblr)

I binge read to cope, but in the back of my mind all I kept thinking about is whether or not I'd finish.

Then my YA workshop class ended. I had been using the class as an excuse for not writing, but now that it finished I really had no excuses, did I? Work was finally starting to slow down, and now I had three-day weekends for the summer. If I was going to finish, this was the time to do it.

So I settled my hiney down and finished the last third of draft 3 in a week.

Let me repeat that: one friggin week.

All this time I was so anxious and worked up when really it would just take a week. Draft three isn't perfect and what not, but the point is I finished it. It really put into perspective for me that finishing something isn't so scary. That it's possible to finish things as long as you keep trudging forward. And that sometimes a break (like a crash and burn) is needed to get you right back where you left off.

It really just makes me want to laugh that I was so worked up about it. Anyone ever feel that way?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Overview: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Review: Big kudos to the marketing department for this book. I adored the cover! But anyway, never have I ever read any of Jenny Han's books. So I didn't really plan on reading this one either, but since it was on the New York Times Best-selling list for Young Adults, I decided to give it a try.

The concept was an interesting one, so I went along with the story even though I was turned off with the voice of the MC in the first couple of pages. She just didn't seem 16. She sounded more like 14. It wasn't until one third through that I actually started liking her due to her slowly changing and growing up.

I rated the book a 4 due to the 'cute' story line and the character relationships. The pace was great, it kept me turning pages so that I finished the book in one sitting. Normally, if I'm glued to a book and read it all the way through I would give it a 5, but I didn't for this one because I thought the writing was very simple. Like too simple. I'm not expecting something literary just a better enough prose for me to believe she's 16. Also, the descriptions I felt were lacking and sparse. I couldn't really picture some of the characters in my mind or the setting. Which is kinda funny, because when it comes to food, Han is very vivid.

Overall though, I enjoyed it and will definitely read the sequel (because I need to know what happens!). I've heard that Han's debut novel is pretty good, so I just bought it on my kindle. Maybe Han will make a fan of me afterall.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Overview: By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Review: So I finished this sometime last week. This one took me awhile to get through because it was just so dense. Because I admire Taylor's writing and thought it was a fair conclusion to the trilogy I rated it a 4 even though I was leaning towards 3.5. Though the story was good, it just dragged on. Too much flowery writing that normally I would love, filled me with dread as I trudged through it. Though I pride myself in reading every little word a writer writes, I'm sad to say that I had to skim a lot of parts because nothing happened, it was just the same descriptions of emotions and yearning time and time again. The ending was okay, though I felt it really anti-climatic.

Obviously from the lack of enthusiasm in my review I was disappointed. Still a great series though! I'd still recommend it to others.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars Movie

I didn't have enough tissues. If you have yet to see this, bring a box of kleenex!

This past weekend, I got Michael to come with me to see the film adaption of the beloved John Green novel, and it did not disappoint. I actually loved the film adaption better than the book. That's how well the film was made. Mix in a great cast and a perfect soundtrack and you've struck gold.

Now that the opening weekend is over and the numbers are in, 48 million, topping the box office, with 85% of viewership young females aged 25 and below, what does it say about the Young Adult genre?

Well, I for one am ecstatic that it's finally getting some recognition. It shows that it's a force to be reckoned with in the film and publishing industry. Not to mention, it shows the power of fandoms and social media.

I think as a teenager, some of my fondest moments were getting into series (Harry Potter and Twilight) and seeing the book come to the screen. My friends and I would all camp out, dressed up, waiting in line to get the absolute best seats. This past weekend, sitting in the theater to watch TFIOS, I'm glad that the trend continues and I can only hope that one day, I'll be able to write a book that so many young adults care about.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wine Weekend

It's been a great few days of sunshine! The best part? There's still more to come. I think I've had my fill of rain for awhile. This weekend Michael and I had a lot of wine time. After our amazing sushi dinner date at Tamura on Friday we ended up at Bottlehouse to try their new reds on their menu and their truffles of the week.

The next day we continued our wine adventure in Woodinville with Cristine and Tim who showed us around. It was Michael and I's first time exploring the Woodinville wine country. Who knew this gem of a place was so close to Seattle?

Photo cred: Michael
Photo cred: Cristine
Photo cred: Cristine
After hitting up four tastings, I think it's safe to say that Michael and I will be coming back to Woodinville more often.