Friday, February 5, 2016

My blog has MOVED!

To everyone who has been following my journey so far, I am so thankful! But I wanted to let you all know that I've decided to move my blog/website here:

I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey :)

Thanks again for the past four awesome years on this site!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Drafting, glasses, & my latest obsessions, oh my!

I'm back at drafting my next WIP and it feels awesome but scary at the same time! I haven't drafted since April when I wrote Diamond Queen so it always feels new and different when I get back at it again. Drafting is a different kind of animal compared to revising and editing, but the best way I go about it is to flash draft (which averages about 4-6 weeks depending on the idea). To keep myself accountable I aim for a daily word count of 2K. I can't always make the 2K, but if by the end of the week I can get to 15K, I'm happy.

And it just so happens that I met my goal for week 1!

Now, I just need to keep at this pace and I'll be golden (as long as I can keep my internal editor in check).

This past week was also strange because I was getting used to my new prescription glasses. This is my first time ever wearing glasses so it came with a learning curve. At first it made me really nauseous, and now my eye won't stop twitching. Oh well, you lose some you win some, I guess.

I've also tried to keep my distractions at a minimum so that I can focus on drafting, but who am I kidding. My latest obsessions? Orphan Black, Wolf by Wolf, and trying new things.

Have you ever had a multi-grain latte? According to my barista, it's pretty common in Japan and Korea, but it was totally new to me. It has no coffee in it whatsoever, but was marketed as a protein-filled-afternoon-productivity-boost (her words, not mine!). I managed to get 1K words in after drinking it, so I guess it worked?

Also, these donut holes with coconut cream. There's no significance to them, except that they were delicious!

Also had a date with this stud who introduced me to SOMM: Into the bottle, a neat documentary about what goes into wine. Spoiler: it's not just grapes!

How was your week? What's your current read or latest obsession? Comment below!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Magic & A Shiny New Idea

Good morning Mondaayyyyy!

Ok, really. I'm not that chipper, but I am trying to be more positive. Post-Pitch Wars writing has been tough. I had started on this neat idea, but then life got a little busy around December and January with vacation and wedding planning, making it so difficult to return to said idea. That's why I truly believe in flash drafts. For me, I need to blast through that first draft before I lose the spark. Once I get it down though, I'm able to keep the spark burning by reworking and molding it into my vision.

So speaking of sparks and ideas, it's really difficult to get one of those suckers that makes your whole heart swoon. After vacation, I kind of felt like a lost lamb. I had no motivation to write, because everything that came out of my fingertips seemed no good. In truth, I was becoming really critical with myself instead of allowing myself some creative freedom in the first draft.

My awesome CP Krystal (who has been with me throughout my whole writing angst the past year--bless her kind soul) recommended that I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.


And I'm so glad I did. I rate this a solid 4! Here's a quick blurb:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

At times it was a bit quirky, but Gilbert's idea of inspiration resonated within me and her words were comforting and encouraging. After reading, it changed my perspective on what it means to live a creative life. For instance, I had this deep desire to be validated for my writing (and that meant getting an agent), that I became so obsessed with wondering what an agent or the market would want to read instead of digging deep and figuring out what I wanted to write.

At the same time, I was really struggling with the possibility of failing. What if everything I wrote amounted to nothing. No matter how many manuscripts I wrote and revised, what if none of them were published? Would all of that time spent be a waste? Before reading the book, I would have answered yes. Now after, I would say no. Because I write for myself, and no amount of validation would bring me the same joy like getting a scene just right, or nailing down my last sentence and writing 'The End' after. And that's what creative living is all about, doing something you love and enjoy that enriches your days.

Another thing that hit home was Gilbert's advice to not expect financial reward for creativity, because nothing kills creativity more than depending on it to provide for your lifestyle. So yeah, I'd really love a career in writing, but I'm level-headed enough to know not to expect that, because if I do, I'll be taking all the joy out of something I love.

Once I finished the book on Friday, I felt more at peace with myself and free to create whatever I wanted. And a mere hour later, I was hit with this image in my mind that grew into a shiny new idea. So I went home and brainstormed and thought to myself, this is what I want to write.

Yesterday, I started the first draft and wrote 2300 words. It's kind of different from what I've written before and the main protagonist so adorkable and endearing that I'm excited to see her character arc and story blossom before me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hawaii & Beach Reads

Wow January, look at you go! You are seriously flashing before my eyes.

It's been awhile since I've blogged, but I am back from my Hawaii vacation and ready to catch up with you all. Vacation consisted of beaching, reading, eating, drinking, and wedding planning! I am happy to report that Michael and I have set the date for our destination wedding next year. Here's a glimpse of my time on the island:


During my time there, I read four books and just had to recommend to you YA lovers:

Overview: The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Review: This book was recommended by my friend Michella (who is a fabulous book blogger) and I'm so glad I checked it out. I'd rate this a solid 4 due to Summers execution of the story (it read like a mystery to me, but kept the contemporary feel, so I can appreciate the genre blend). This is the kind of book that really sinks its claws into you with its gritty realness, so not for the faint of heart. If you like Thirteen Reasons Why, you may like this one too. It's different in style from Asher's book, but it definitely packs a punch in the gut.

Overview: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her—and her best friend's boyfriend—start going around.  Now Regina's been frozen out, and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina were guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth, and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past whom she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend...if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens, as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Review: Solid 4.5 stars on this one. I could not put this down. I read it in one sitting and was completely riveted by it all. In my opinion, this is Summers at her best. I loved the complexity of the characters all involved, the plot line, and pacing. This is dark and edgy contemporary perfection and is now one of my favorite books.

Overview: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Review: This was hard to get into after reading Some Girls Are, but I felt like it was a solid read. 3 stars on this one because of the complex nature of the story and how it handled the subject. This one was definitely a character-driven story, so if you're into that you may enjoy it.

Overview: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Review: I'm 3/4ths done with this, but I will count this in my beach reads post since I started it at the beach. This is a solid four. A great thrilling mystery with feisty characters. The historical aspect is done nicely and I found the writing enjoyable. I'd consider this a 'fun' read if you want something light, but interesting.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals

I completed all five of my 2015 goals! Now onto 2016!

1. Practice 'positivity, perseverance, and patience'. This can be applied in my daily life, but also with writing. I've realized this year that in order to succeed I must keep a good attitude, work hard, and enjoy the process.

2. Mind & body balance. After five years of dealing with body issues (I have suffered from EDNOS in the past, but continue to struggle with body dysmorphia), I want to restore balance within myself by being healthier and active. My main objective is to reach a happy body weight (one that is healthy and that I am confident in). More on this in February and March ;)

3. Complete a new manuscript and continue to improve my craft.

4. Be financially savvy. This year, I want to be smarter with my money and pay more attention to my spending.

Cheers to a New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My top 15 moments of 2015!

Like last year's post, here are my top 15 moment of 2015 (in no particular order):

1. Vietnam - Such an awesome family trip back to my roots!

2. Korea - Part two of my Asia travels. Though freezing, the trip had its memories.

3. Swan Lake - My first time at the ballet! What a memorable birthday gift from Michael!

4. House - Michael and I moved from Seattle to the suburbs into a new house! It's been a fun adventure making it homey this year.

5. SCBWI WWA Conference - My first writing conference. To attend a conference was one of my goal's this year, so check!

6. Baby on the way - On my sister's trip up to visit me, she surprised me by announcing that she was pregnant!

7. Oregon Wine Trip - Another wine trip for the books! This time in Oregon :)

8. Engagement - When Michael proposed <3

9. Pitch Wars - Getting into Pitch Wars, gaining an awesome mentor, and a whole bunch of writing friends. It's been a crazy, but amazing journey.

10. Alinea - The best meal of my life and celebrating Michael and I's meetaversery!

11. Chicago - The awesome urban exploration trip.

12. Family Visits - This year, just about everyone in my family visited me! This warms my heart.

13. Thanksgiving - Always going back home for Thanksgiving to see my family.

14. The Nutcracker - What can I say, I really enjoy the ballet! A Christmas gift from Michael :)

15. Baby Jasalyn - As of December 27th, I am an aunt!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015: Going home, coming back, and 'The Nutcraker'

Christmas is over! Still a bit hard to believe with the last couple of days being a whirlwind! I'm still coming down from my my ballet high. This year Michael got us tickets to 'The Nutcracker' for one of my Christmas gifts.

'The Nutcracker' was so much fun. The hall was decked out in Christmas decor and all the kids were so excited. The ballet itself was very festive and beautiful. It was my first time seeing 'The Nutcracker' and I loved every minute of it.

Before the ballet, Michael and I went to Petit Toulouse. They're rated top ten in best happy hours in the nation (according to their disclaimer on their menu)! The HH menu is pretty awesome though! Every single bite was delicious and none of the food went to waste.

Oh gosh. This white chocolate bread pudding was amazing. I am currently ranking it two in best desserts in Seattle, with the first being the maple bread pudding at Walrus & Carpenter.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent with Michael's family. As usual it was a blast with thoughtful gifts, great food, and great company.

Every year, I do miss my family. It's been three years since I spent a Christmas with them. Luckily, this year I flew down the weekend prior to Christmas to see them, also hoping to catch the birthing of my first little niece, Jasalyn. Of course, she was past due and didn't want to see me! But as I write this blog post, my sister is currently in labor, so I'm thinking good thoughts for her and her baby. By tomorrow morning Jasalyn will be sleeping in this little basinet Michael and I gifted to her.

I do have to admit, kids have grown on me! For awhile I thought I could do with or without them, but I am leaning toward them in the future now (like way wayyyyy in the future :P).

Now I can't wait to meet my niece next year!

How was your Christmas? Comment below :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tis the season to be sneezy!

You guys. I spent the ENTIRE weekend sick. I've gotten sick so many times this year, I can't even keep count. Be good to your bodies, guys. Unfortunately for me, I have a weak immune system :(

So what do I do when I'm sick? I become a couch potato. I watched the whole first season of Jessica Jones (and a lot of other stuff on TV), finally finished Six of Crows and The Red Queen, and had plenty of time to wallow about my lack of writing progress this month (on the plus side, I'm getting through my TBR list!).

If you get sick this month, I recommend watching Jessica Jones on Netflix. Great character and plot development throughout the whole thing and it wraps up nicely.

Six of Crows was amazing. I can't believe I put it on the backburner for so long. I bought it the day it came out, but got sidetracked with revisions. I finally picked it up from where I left off and could not stop. The character development and world building by Bardugo was fantastic as usual. I can't wait for the sequel.

 Reading The Red Queen afterwards was a different experience when Bardugo set the bar so high. Though it was a quick read, it didn't grab me as much as Six of Crows. I thought the world building had the potential to be even better, so I'm hoping this is something Aveyard develops in book two. The story was well-written, but the plot didn't seem complex enough for me. Everyone raved about the twist at the ending, but I saw it coming all along. All in all, if you like x-men and court politics, I'm sure you will enjoy it more than I did. I do love this cover though.

With all the fantasy I've read lately, I'm starting to miss contemporary! If you have any recs, comment below!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hello, December :)

I'm baaaaaaaack from California!

The first thing I notice when I land in Washington? It's so cold. Like bbbbbbrrrrrrrrr I can't feel my feet cold. Winter is definitely knocking.

So, I had hoped to inundate you with a million bajillion photos of my awesome family and my time spent with them, but I regretfully have none to show :( I know. I'm losing my blogging touch. I really, really, need to take more photos of my trips back home. The thing is, when I'm back home, I like to disappear into the moment. I unplug from the computer, I hang out with my family (even if we aren't even doing anything), and all my worries and stresses float away.

But my blog holds so many memories. I love flipping through the archives and reliving the moments so I'm disappointed to know that this awesome week won't be recorded (well, with pictures anyway). I guess the next best thing I can do is write a list of what happened on my trip.

<3 delicious home cooked meals (especially my mom's spicy crab dish)
<3 wedding dress shopping in San Jose (I didn't find 'the one' but it was a cool experience)
<3 quality time with the family through food excursions and fun activities
<3 wine tasting in Napa
<3 shopping with my sisters (aka the only time I really like to shop)
<3 watching the last HUNGER GAMES (my heart still aches)
<3 feeling my niece kick in my sister's stomach
<3 helping my cousin with his reading skills
<3 finally having time to read (I read two craft books and finally finished Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Now onto Six of Crows)

I'm heading back down to California later this month, so maybe this time I can make up for my lack of photos :)

How was your Thanksgiving? Comment below!

Friday, November 20, 2015


I am so giddy with excitement! In less than 24 hours I'll be on my way to the airport en route to California!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's the one time out of the year that the whole family is all together. It's crazy, it's loud, it's fun, it's perfect, it's love. I love my big ol' family!

In the meantime, Michael and I have hosted pre-Thanksgiving dinners (for the first time in the new house) for his family.

(PC: Cristine)
Can you believe I made that delicious looking entrĂ©e? Two years ago I couldn't even make rice -_-. It's been fun hosting our own Thanksgiving that it just might become a tradition for us.

As this year comes to a close, I grow more and more thankful of all the blessings I have. It's been a tumultuous year filled with ups and downs, but 2015 has been memorable and filled with so much love, my heart is more than full.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, family, and friendship!