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!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life After Pitch Wars: Wedding, Napa, Winter Book Launch Party, & the next MS!

Hi Evvvvvveryone!

It's a little over a week since the Agent Round for Pitch Wars began. Eeeep! So what is life after Pitch Wars like? Exactly the same, except I check my inbox more frequently, made a bunch of new friends that I can't wait to meet up with IRL, and am anxious all the time. Ha, I guess it isn't exactly the same then.

In any case, I wanted to let you know what I've been up to, what I'm currently reading, and what my next writing project is!

This past weekend I flew to Cali for my best friend's (from high school) wedding. It was great seeing everyone and reconnecting with my friends now that we all live in separate states now.

Since the wedding wasn't until the evening, Michael and I took advantage of the glorious weather and drove to Napa to do some wine tasting. When we flew back to Seattle the next day, and it was grey and raining still, I was crushed. I need the sun, so I take solace in knowing I'll be back in California for the holidays.

Michael contemplating the wine, while I am ecstatic to taste!

On the plus side, I went to the WINTER book launch with my writer friend Lisa where we got our hardcover copies signed by Marissa Meyer yesterday (who btw is so bubbly, I'd like to put her in my pocket and bring her everywhere I go when I need a dose of positivity--kidding! But really, she is just the sweetest darling in her ball gown).

Which brings me to my TBR pile. I haven't posted any reviews recently, but I will let you know that I finished my fellow mentee's ms, LADY HAMLET which was such a great read and had LGBTQ elements that need to be on the shelves! I also have another mentee's ms loaded onto my kindle, HESPERIA, which I cannot wait to read. But I still have tons of things to finish. Currently 50% in on MY LIFE NEXT DOOR (which was such a sweet gift from my mentor), 25% in on SIX OF CROWS, 20% in on RED QUEEN, and I just started WINTER. I don't know how agents can balance reading subs, client ms's, plus queries, because there are not enough hours in a day and too many great stories out there to get to.

And speaking of stories, I found my next story to work on. Though I would love to write the sequel to DIAMOND QUEEN, I know that it's best to get working on another project to maximize my chances of being agented in the future. So, in a Michelle-like fashion I'm getting back on that Contemporary train (because you know, I always do after writing a Fantasy). If you check under my projects link, you'll see that I listed this one as THE OTHER SIDE OF BEAUTIFUL (my current working title). I don't have a blurb for it yet, but it's a dual POV set in NYC in the vein of FLIPPED but with a revenge twist. I've been toying with the idea since October when I wrote the opening chapter in passing between the Pitch Wars craziness, but now I am fully committed to power through this draft once I get my outline finalized. So wish me luck! Hopefully I'll have a 'Writing Progress Report' post up soon for it.

How's your week been? What are you reading and what are you writing? Comment below!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Diamond Queen Inspiration (A Pitch Wars Mentee Blog Hop)

Q: What was the inspiration behind your Pitch Wars story?

Before I get into my answer, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to my fellow mentees, Brianna Shrum (my mentor), and as always Brenda Drake for this incredible experience. I can't believe our journey is coming to an end, but I look forward to 'life after pitch wars' with you all!

Now, onto my manuscript, Diamond Queen, a story close to my heart.

Diamond Queen was the story I was always meant to write, I just never got down to do it. Inspired by a Vietnamese oral folktale I've heard all my life, I never gave much thought about it until my recent trip to Vietnam this past February where I had heard it again for the millionth time. The folktale is a spin-off from the phrase, "ngu long con chua" or "five princesses of dragons".

The phrase is almost always uttered when a person realizes my mother gave birth to five daughters. In the Vietnamese culture, five daughters within a family is considered a sign of good luck. The luck, as I understand, stems from the fact that each daughter is 'blessed' with a certain attribute. Whatever that means.

Growing up, the phrase went through one ear and out the other, because I never saw much good luck around us. We were a poor immigrant family with a single parent trying to make ends meet. But when we were in Vietnam this past February and I heard the story again, I made sure to listen. From the awe in my relatives eyes, I realized how far my family had come. My mother raised five girls on her own in an unfamiliar country, sent us all to college (and we now all have stable full-time jobs), and oh yeah, she beat cancer.

Maybe there was some luck around us. As a child, observing my family through the hardships, I couldn't see it. But now, I do.

Thus the premise of Diamond Queen. Though my story can standalone, it's a planned four-part series about five princesses blessed--or cursed, depending on how you look at it--scattered across the globe who must come together and save their country from tyranny. Diamond Queen is the story of the eldest sister, Avere, who is the heir of a kingdom that wants her dead.

I hope one day this manuscript gets into your hands in book form, because I am dying to share this story with you.

To close, below are a few photos from my trip mentioned that inspired my imagined country of Vadierra.

Best of luck to all the other mentees out there and many thanks for stopping by! Can't wait for you to see my pitch and first 250 words at the agent round <333

Check out Vanessa Edward's (fellow mentee and host of the blog hop) blog here to check out more inspiration from the other Pitch Wars mentees!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pitch Wars Edits / Writing Progress Report 3


***throws confetti***

Hi All--

It's been awhile, I know. Before I delve into writing, I should probably explain why I've been more silent than usual. This past month I've had to do some follow-up medical testing after my annual exam at the doctor's. Nothing to be alarmed about, but it's always scary to get a phone call from the doctor's office asking if you can do another test, and another test. When I was in high school my mother had cancer, so the doctor's office really gets my anxiety going. My teenage self really thought she was going to die and I'd end up an orphan (not my best high school memories). Thank heavens everything turned out okay. Next month, I'll be going in for another test, yay (heavy sarcasm). But I'm not going to worry about it anymore, since nothing is seriously wrong or life-threatening. Anyway, that's why I haven't been up to blogging.

As the title suggests, I've been working on line-edits and I finished yesterday night. I sent in my revised draft to my mentor, Brianna, and I feel weirdly calm about the whole thing. This week Brianna helped me a ton on my pitch and the first 250 words (the entry that's posted) so I'm breathing easier (as long as I don't think about the agent round).

Line-edits weren't as bad as I expected, especially towards the last half of my manuscript. The first half ended up needing more work.

A few things I learned about myself during line-edits:
  •  I need a refresher on grammar rules. After seeing some stupid mistakes I made, I ended up rereading my copy of The Elements Of Style. Some common mistakes? Pronouns (Emperor vs emperor), the word capitol (when the whole time I meant capital), comma usage, dash versus semi-colon, noun matching posessives.
  • SHOW don't TELL mantra. There's always a place where you can improve a part by showing it vividly as opposed to filtering or summarizing. Idiosyncratic details are your friend.
  • Repeating words: and, but, that, just, etc.
  • Don't over explain.
I could list a ton more, but this is embarrassing enough.

When I had a break from line-edits I devoured this year's Pulitzer in one sitting:

It was SO GOOD. The writing and story so beautiful and poignant. I felt like I was reading a narrative through poetry. I annotated my hard copy as I read, and really digested Doerr's writing style. When I finished the book around midnight, I was stunned. Why can't I write like this? Maybe one day. For now, I'll just keep working at it.

Besides line-edits, I've been researching my agent list, revising my query and synopsis, and critiquing my CP's manuscript (loving' it so far ;)). In other words, keeping busy!

Can't believe the agent round is coming. Eeeeeeppppppp!

I'll leave you with some photos of Blaire to make your Thursday a little bit cuter.

How has your writing been going? Comment below!