Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last Mariner's Game & Fall Anticipation

Yesterday for work, my company went to the Mariner's game. Upon leaving I realized that this would probably be the last game this summer for me. As the weekend approaches, so does a cold front along with some showers. Slowly the rain is making a comeback to Seattle. I hate to say it, but I think yesterday was the last eighty degree day of the year. On the plus side, my cat will love the colder weather.

How do I feel about the colder weather? Let's just say I'm going to miss the heat. To make up for it, I will attempt to be more festive during fall now that Michael and I have more room. Already the tips of the trees are already starting to show signs of autmun and their are pumpkin flavored beverages  on sale at the stores. Before we know it, fall will be here. However, I am excited to get a Christmas tree this year. A real live one, since I've always grown up with the faux tree. At least that is something to look forward to!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail (Haas) McDonald

I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Overview: It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

Review: Normally I'm not into the thriller YA, because honestly, I'm a big fat baby, and just about anything scares me. However, I'm not completely opposed to the genre since I love watching crime shows like 'Law and Order: SVU,' and 'Luther.' I picked up Dangerous Girls after someone mentioned Dangerous Boys on twitter. I looked it up and thought, hmm this is interesting, but since Dangerous Girls was published first, I thought to give that a read first.

The crime that occurs in this book reminded me a lot of the Amanda Knox case where she found her roommate murdered when she was abroad in Italy. I didn't mind it much since I was curious to see how Haas would handle the ending. I thought the way the novel was written was very superb, flashing from past to present, so that we only get bits and pieces, yet they all fit collectively together. The pacing was very well done. It kept me guessing the whole time as I tried to figure out motives and the murderer.

Let me just say, it did not end the way I thought! Which is reason enough for you to give this a read! It'll keep you guessing and the minds of dangerous girls will shock you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Random Highlights

It's another Monday. *sad face* Does anyone even look forward to Mondays? I know I don't! The weekends just go by too fast.

On Friday, Michael and I had Cristine and Tim over and they brought this incredible spread over for apz (note Blaire's curious face)!

Saturday was a pretty relaxed day. We went to brunch and in the evening went to Nishino's for dinner and watched 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'.

If you like movies feel-good movies about food. I recommend this one! Michael and I loved it. It was funny, light-hearted, had its serious moments, but all around was inspirational.

Sunday morning I finished my current read, Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, a YA psychological thriller. Let me just first say, I'm not much of a thriller person, but I did enjoy this one and I already have Dangerous Boys loaded onto my kindle. I'll post a review sometime this week :)

In the afternoon, Michael, Tim, Cristine, and I went to to the soapbox derby hosted by Redbull and then had lunch in Pike Place. Sorry for my lack of photos. I just wasn't on top of it this weekend.

Too lazy to cook dinner, we ended up going to Bottlehouse for dinner and dessert!

And that was my weekend in a nutshell. A few things to look forward to, however, is Labor Day weekend! I'm back on my normal work schedule instead of doing four ten-hour shifts. Michael and I's 'meet-aversery' is next week, and then we'll be off to Oregon for a wedding. Then, by the time we know it, Fall will have come, which will make me super nostalgic about school. Anyone else miss romantic literature lectures? Or is it just me?

Happy Monday, all :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Year in the 'Real World'

(comic 'borrowed' from tumblr)
So I just realized that yesterday marks my one year anniversary from my hire date with my first ever big kid job (aka full-time, salary, and benefits). Jeez, the year went by fast! And I still don't know where I see myself in five years.

It's crazy to think that just a year ago I was applying and interviewing like crazy, hoping to find a job. Then once I got it, moving into a new city and adjusting to the climate (which equalled three new winter jackets).

What have I learned during this time period? 1. Spreadsheets hurt my eyes. 2. Coffee is a necessity. 3. An empty inbox on outlook makes me happy. 4. It's SO HARD to make friends in a new city. And 5. Life goes on, even when you aren't around (friends getting engaged, moving, losing touch with people, missing out on family stuff).

There are some good sides to it of course. 1. Being with someone you truly care about even when it gets tough. 2. Getting to know a new family. 3. Gaining the discipline to write something novel length (since it's always grey and rainy anyway) 4. You start to appreciate the sun and taking advantage of "nice" weather day. And 5. Being okay with 'alone time.'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.

Overview: “Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write.”

From the best-selling author of Devotion and Slow Motion comes a witty, heartfelt, and practical look at the exhilarating and challenging process of storytelling. At once a memoir, meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate and eloquent companion to living a creative life.

Through a blend of deeply personal stories about what formed her as a writer, tales from other authors, and a searching look at her own creative process, Shapiro offers her gift to writers everywhere: an elegant guide of hard-won wisdom and advice for staying the course. “The writer’s life requires courage, patience, empathy, openness. It requires the ability to be alone with oneself. Gentle with oneself. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks.” Writers—and anyone with an artistic temperament—will find inspiration and comfort in these pages. Offering lessons learned over twenty years of teaching and writing, Shapiro brings her own revealing insights to weave an indispensable almanac for modern writers.

Like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, and Stephen King’s On Writing, Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing is a lodestar for aspiring scribes and an eloquent memoir of the writing life.

Review: After submitting my PitchWars entry, I have been a bundle of nerves. I don't do well with anxiety at all. In attempt to distract myself, I do what I do best: get lost in books. Fortunately for me, I picked up Still Writing and I am glad I did. If you are a writer, or someone attempting to create a creative life, this book is for you. Full of wisdom and empathy, I connected with Shapiro on both a creative and personal level. If you choose to read this, her insights will open your eyes to the relationship you have with your own creative outlet and inspire you to keep at it. For any aspiring writer, this book is a must for your toolbox.

Monday, August 18, 2014

PitchWars Mentee Bio

To my regular readers, please diregard this post, to the newcomers: Welcome to my blog!

In honor of Pitch Wars, I'm participating in the #PimpMyBio Bloghop to connect with other participants and hopefully makes some new blog/writer friends :)

I go by Michelle, named after the Olsen twins on Full House. In short, my mom needed a nickname for my preschool forms and it just stuck.

I am the youngest out of five sisters. That's right FIVE. And let me tell ya, sharing a bathroom with four older sisters is like trying to bake a pie without ingredeients. Impossible, I tell you. On the plus side, we were raised by an incredible mother in Northern California.

As the youngest, I read a lot by myself and took to journaling, but never with the intention of being a writer. As much as I loved reading and writing, I had a soft spot for animals.

RIP Kiwi 2004-2013
So I attended UC Davis to major in Animal Biology with high hopes of becoming a vet. In my second year of college, however, I interned at an Animal Clinic and realized my feint little heart could not take animal abuse, neglect, or the sight of innards.
My early college years were tough, not curriculum-wise, but trying to be content with myself. I guess you could say it was a period of finding myself, but to me it was trying to make sense of the world I lived in, but had never really seen. So I wrote and wrote, trying to make sense of it all.

 Finally, I switched my major to English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing.
Two years ago, before my last year of college I went to Paris and fell in love.

 Okay so it wasn't love at first sight, but I met my significant other at Cafe Roussillon in Paris. 

 We exchanged e-mail addresses and wrote letters to each other as friends for about seven months while I finished my degree.

Once I graduated, I went to visit him in Seattle. After many hurdles and a giant leap of faith, I relocated to there.

In this rainy grey place, I set to work on what I like to call M2, the YA manuscript I submitted to PitchWars. Now I can't stop looking at the PitchWars feed on twitter :( 

As for my manuscript? Well, it started with a crush...

And a love for tragic romances...

Which inspired me to write my own little love story.
When I'm not PitchWars stalking, I enjoy wine, coffee, and food (as you can tell from my other posts). For my fave YA reads check out my bookshelf link on the top menu bar.
Alright now onto stalking other mentees ;) For a full listing of the blog hop, click here.

My weekend in a nutshell.

The weekends are truly never long enough, but Michael and I made it count even though we kept it low key. In short, this was my weekend:

I spent time brainstorming Manuscript #3 (which is not the sequel to M2) and drafted up the first chapter. I also began reading two books, one about wine, and the other on writing.

Poetry Cubes
 I also played with this handsome fella. I am sure he was glad when I left for work so that I wouldn't bug him anymore.

And Michael and I took a lovely walk to the local bookstore, drank some nice wine, and had a yummy family meal at his parent's house.

Perfectly cooked halibut over fingerling potatoes with a tarragon sauce!

Simple pleasures of life at its finest.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


It's been a while since Michael and I have gone to a new place for dinner! Michael remedied that yesterday when he made a reservation at Momiji's Sushi Restaurant and Bar.

What was really cute was the zen garden at the center of the restaurant. Lucky for us we snagged a table right beside it.

I'm more of a wine person, but decided to share a flight of sake with Michael.

I ended up loving the sake on the right. It was sweet and cool, reminding me of dessert wine.

Normally we go to town on nigiri when we have sushi but we opted for more of a roll night with calamari and miso to start.

The food was delicious. Being a first timer to Momiji, I knew I would be coming back for more once I finished. And what's a meal without dessert? Green tea tiramisu FTW! Michael's favorite from the Hiroki bakery.

This place was a solid 4 stars out of 5 for me. :) Check it out if you're looking for a great place to get some sushi rolls in Capitol Hill.

Friday, August 15, 2014

M2 Wrap-Up

From the movie 'Stuck in Love'
Above all, I am a hopeless romantic. I try to be a realist, but anyone who knows me, knows I am not. There's no fault in being a hopeless romantic though becuase it's gotten me to where I am now: finished with M2 (for now at least).

When I wrote the draft of M1, I knew something was off. It turned out horrible like most first novel attempts. Though I was passionate about being a writer, I wasn't passionate about the story.

M2 was different. I loved the story. I loved the magic. And I loved the characters. Though it was hard, I kept at it, revision after revision. It made me into a hopeless romantic again. Now that M2 has met my vision, it's time to submit to #PitchWars, and if that doesn't happen, time to query. I'm hoping I can find someone who sees my story and wants to build it up even more. If M2 has more room to grow, I would love the guidance to take it there.

In the meantime, here's a quick recap of M2's journey from start time to now:

  • Mid October 2013 - I started writing the first draft of M2 and finished mid December, clocking in at about 74,000 words in two months. You can read my lessons after the first draft here.
  • January 2014 - I began the second draft of M2 and finished by the first week of March. 85,000 words in another two months. Check out my M2 post here.
  • April 2014 - I revised my third draft for my YA workshop course at Hugo House. I was only about 2/3 done when the course began, but completed it a week after it ended in June. Draft three totaled approximately 80,000 words.
  • June 2014 through July 2014 - I worked with my CP's (critique partner) feedback and completed my fourth revision that I sent over to my beta readers.
  • Mid August 2014 - Completion of revision five based on feedback from Betas.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thank You Betas

All my comments are in! Thanks so much to my betas for going through my manuscript and making it better! It's so exciting to finally share my story with you all. Hope you guys liked the little goody bags I made for you guys, I can't wait to put all your input to use!

Also, more Blaire photos just for fun:] Wish me luck on #PitchWars!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Twin

Okay, she's not really my twin, but we get that a lot. She's actually older by seven years (not that she looks it). She visited me recently in Seattle. Since it was her first time here, we did every touristy thing imaginable. Normally I would bombard this post with tons of photos, but I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

Overall, I think she had a pretty good darn trip. Her favorite tourist spot was the same as mine: Chihuly Glass and Garden.

If you've never been, I highly recommend it. For me, the artwork here always inspires me to conjure up mesmerizing scenes like this into my writing.

Super Moon over the city from the Space Needle.

Just a few more months until I get to reunite with my twin and family again. Can it be Thanksgiving yet?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beta Feedback So Far

As you guys know, the past three months I've been working diligently with my YA workshop critique partner to nail down my plot points and character motivation. Before leaving to Walla Walla two weeks ago I sent my fourth draft of M2 to four betas and my sisters to read. So in total I ended up with six readers! It was more than I intended since I didn't think my sisters would read it (but I am grateful they did!). As of now I've gotten feedback from 3 out of 6 and am expecting the rest of the feedback by Monday.

This is great news! It gives me time to polish up my manuscript before #PitchWars. And if I don't make it to #PitchWars, then I'll be ready to face the query trenches this fall.

Back to the feedback. Yesterday night I went out to dinner with Cristine to catch up and discuss my manuscript. Afterwards we came back to my apartment for wine and to hear Michael's thoughts on it too.

Along with my sister's notes I received this past weekend, there seems to be an agreement on a chapter that caused confusion and a desire for a more fleshed out ending. Thank the heavens, because these two main issues are totally fixable and won't cause ripple effects throughout the rest of the story or the subplot. Aside from other great little suggestions for tweaks here and there, I think the story line and pacing is pretty solid. So THANK YOU Dao, Cristine, and Michael. You have provided me with such invaluable insight and support. I can't wait to hear back from the other betas either as I know their comments will be just as important.

Since this is the first time I've shared my whole manuscript (not in a classroom/workshop setting), I just want to take a moment and smile until my cheeks hurt because this is a small victory. I can hardly believe that just a year ago I gave up on M1 and unplugged from writing for awhile.  Now in just ten months I've started a completely new manuscript (M2), gone through four revisions, and am now going onto my fifth revision before submitting to contests or querying.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Momentary Crisis!

My working title of my manuscript is taken! *flips through dictionary*