A White Christmas, The End of 2017, & Looking Ahead to 2018

Alright, my last blog post of 2017! It's hard to believe 2017 has come and gone. I got married, I made some big decisions, made some mistakes, and learned a lot about myself. Here's hoping 2018 is better. ;)

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I'm skipping the WWPR post this week because I haven't made much progress during Pass 2 on my MS. I could blame it on the holiday craziness, or the fact that I've been feeling unwell, but in plain black and white, I didn't do much, so I'll accept the consequences of carving out some revision time in Hawaii. Then again, writing time in a relaxing place doesn't sound too bad, right?

I hope everyone reading had a wonderful Christmas! If you follow my instagram, you'll have seen the huge surprise we received from Mother Nature on Christmas Eve: snow! It was my first ever white Christmas. It was beautiful and magical! I loved it! Because of it, Christmas Day was at our place. It was Michael and I's first time hosting Christmas, so that plus the snow will always make it a memorable one.

Here's a quick highlight of my 2017 in no particular order:

1. Getting married

2. Michael's 30th surprise party

3. Santa Barbara wine trip

4. My birthday in the desert & at home

5. Thanksgiving in California

6. Seeing Banners live!

7. Mother's day visit

8. Meeting K&K / TIU Tour

9. visit from Mic & Joan

10. LA Trip

And because, who doesn't love New Years Resolutions:

Writing Goals

1. Finish my YA Contemporary - the current project I'm working on

2. Draft my YA Fantasy - the one I made an outline of last month

Health & Fitness

1. Level up on yoga - i.e. no more intro classes. I'd like to do more advanced classes and get more comfortable with inversions.

2. Stick through a workout plan - I like to dabble in all kinds of workouts and do them based on how I'm feeling, but it' be nice to finish one completely from start to finish. I've decided to do BBG2 from start to finish when I get back from Hawaii.

3. Learn more new recipes - everything I've been making is getting kind of old. Time to revamp my culinary skills.

4. Practice gratitude more often to keep a positive mindset.

Personal

1. Make more time for people and keep in touch more - I have a tendency to keep to my writing cave and my little bubble.

2. Explore the area - whether it's coffee shops, bars, or new restaurants. I used to be all for trying new things, but I've had the tendency to stick to my favorites (and while there's nothing wrong with that--I do enjoy the novelty of new experiences).

3. Live minimally -  as in don't buy things unless I really need it so I can reduce on clutter. I'm no hoarder, but I do have trouble letting go of paper memories, whether that's journals, photographs, cards, or printed manuscripts. The thing is, they end up in my closet or in trunks, which means I have no space for anything else. So, yeah. I'll try to work on that. 

4. Study up on Wine - I'd like to increase my knowledge base enough to past the level 1 somm test!

 

 

 

 

WWPR: Cold & Overwhelmed (Pass 1 Week 2)

It's been really cold here. Like so cold my toes never feel warm. I'm from California so me and the cold do not mix which led to some general feelings of unwellness. I'm crossing my fingers that my immune system does not get compromised before Christmas like last year... Now, that was a sad Christmas. 

Anyway, week 2 started off great in terms of productivity, but then somehow, I crashed and burned. On the bright side, I was ahead of my deadline for Pass 1--finishing up on Sunday the 17th instead of the following Saturday (the 23rd). Huzzah!

This week in writing:

THURSDAY: I started the week pretty strong by revising chapters 18-24. I guess I just wanted to keep the ball rolling ;) 

FRIDAY: Because Thursday was so productive, I allowed myself a night off for an in-home Date Night! Michael and I opened some vino, made some dinner together, and rented a movie (I was so tired though, I fell asleep like 10 minutes in).

SATURDAY: I put my butt in the chair and set out to get a lot of work done. I ended up revising chapters 29-39. Chapters 25-28 would be new scenes to add (which I have yet to write) once I started Pass 2. It was so nice to feel accomplished before going out for the night. Michael and I tried out a new restaurant Revel (which was delicious by the way) and ended with a night cap at The Barrel Thief in Fremont.

SUNDAY: I couldn't sleep. I ended up waking up around 6 a.m., made myself some coffee and finished going through chapters 40-47! Almost a whole week before my deadline! My back started to hurt though so I made a makeshift stand up desk to start writing in my changes. I ended up typing in changes for chapters 1-5 thinking I'd get it all into my scrivener file and then go back and do Pass 2 once I finished. I quickly realized this was the wrong approach. It was so mind numbing, and my brain was quickly starting to hurt from going to paper then to computer then back. Suddenly, I felt REALLY overwhelmed about the whole project because it still needed a ton of work so I started psyching myself out. I had to accept that it probably wouldn't be in CP shape by the end of the year, so I stepped away from it.

MONDAY/TUESDAY: Oyyy. I was not feeling well on either of these days. I don't know if it was merely exhaustion, the cold dip in temperatures, or whatnot, but I was extremely fatigued. It was to the point where I'd collapse onto the living room floor and balled myself up by the fire. I ended up taking a break from writing on these two days and focused on wrapping presents and rereading one of my favorite books to wipe my brain clean of my story.

WEDNESDAY: I still wasn't feeling up to snuff, but I had had enough of my self-pitying and told myself that I wasn't in enough physical pain to excuse my laziness so I managed to force myself back into my office and started on my pass 2.

I decided I would focus on doing 2-3 chapters a day, first by typing in my changes and my notes, then rereading and line-editing for pass 2. It worked much better this way because it kept my mind engaged with the story and had the benefit of being improved with another layer of close reading. It also allowed me to slow down with the story to make sure I got everything I wanted in each scene.

Ideally, I want to finish this before I leave on vacation to Hawaii in January, but I also want to enjoy the holidays, so most likely I'll have to extend my deadline to the end of vacation and work my magic in the sun.

Here's hoping I get one third done by next week! Hope you all have a happy holiday weekend! As always, thank you for reading!

 

TONE IT UP TOUR - SEATTLE

Ahhhhh! The TIU Tour came to Seattle last week, and I am so happy that I got to attend! As my #tiuhubby knows, I'm kind of obsessed with all things Tone It Up, so it was no surprise that when tickets came out, I bought them ASAP and splurged for the VIP. Luckily, I have a husband who supports my TIU addiction :P

So lo and behold the day finally came for the first ever tour! I got to meet up with some badass babes, flowed with Corepower yoga, got my ass kicked by Jillian Michaels, and sweated it out with Katrina & Karena. The day was filled with awesome empowering vibes, rose, and newfound friendships. And of course, a huge dose of inspiration and motivation. I always leave the TIU events on a high. It's obvious I'll be forever in love with this community <3

It's been almost a year since I joined Tone It Up and lately I've been thinking about how it's affected me:

  • I have been consistent in working out this past year (and bright and early in the mornings no less)!
  • I've learned to bake with protein powder. Not a big feat, but it's a pretty cool to healthify some baked treats once in a while.
  • I've fallen in love with smoothies and salads! I've always been a green smoothie lover, but now I've incorporated protein and super food powders to the mix, so I feel like I'm become a smoothie wizard! Before Tone It UP, I was a salad twice a week kind of girl, but now I seem to want them 5-7 days a week.
  • Even though physically I haven't changed much, I feel less soft and my fitness has improved.
  • I find that I can be brave and show up at an event without knowing anyone. I used to be super self-conscious meeting new people, probably because I always had some kind of network or friends to do things with, but when you move to a new place, you're forced to start over. For my first year in Seattle, I was afraid to do just that, but I found that TIU has helped me embrace being open with others.
  • It's brought my sister and I closer. My TIU membership was a pre-wedding gift from my sister to help me get in shape for my wedding. She ended up joining too after seeing how much I enjoyed it that we recently made our LA trip TIU themed!
  • I am kinder and more accepting of myself. I used to be really negative about myself and my body. I would never ever body shame another woman because I think of all woman as beautiful in their own right, but when it came to myself I had no problem dissing and dismantling my self-esteem. In a way, I've found some inner peace with myself (though of I'm not immune to having those difficult days; I'll just counteract them with positive vibes).

As I go into me second year of TIU, I know that what's finally blossoming within me, will slowly, but surely be reflected on the outside.

As always, thank you K&K.

 

The Big 30.

Last month, Michael hit a milestone. The big three-oh! And over the past couple of months leading up to it, I was hard at work planning a surprise party for him! But man, oh man, was it difficult keeping it all a secret when I usually tell him everything. Thankfully, I was able to keep my big mouth shut and pull it off.

To start off the special day, I had 30 little blue envelopes for him to open throughout the day filled with surprises, destinations, and presents, ultimately leading to the surprise party.

So in case you're wondering why I've been so MIA in July, now you know why! I've been too busy celebrating old hubby ;)

A huge thanks to Michael's sister and mom for helping me pull it off, Bottlehouse for the awesome food, wine, and event space, and also our family and friends who came from near and far to celebrate!

Pitch Wars: Two years later...

Ahhh. It's that time of year. The frenetic energy on twitter, writers anxiously waiting, mentors feverishly reading! Must be Pitch Wars!

This time of year always makes me so nostalgic. I can still clearly remember the excitement I felt when I got requests for more material, made it on the list, and how bit my nails off to the quick while constantly refreshing during the agent round. It was a wonderful experience.

Whether or not you get in though, everyone's journey to publication is different and I hate to break it to you, but Pitch Wars does not safeguard you from the highs and lows of the industry. What it can offer are friendships and awesome CP's :) My advice? Mingle and make connections while you wait. The great thing about PitchWars is how it brings writers together. Plus, we're all winners here when we make a friend or two.

As you may know, I'm a 2015 Pitch Wars alum. I'm not a mentor, I don't currently have representation, nor do I have a book deal. I'm the opposite of a Pitch Wars success story, and the past two years have been tumultuous at best. What I gained from my year, however, is an amazing 2015 class, and two amazing CP's turned friends who I became close to through Pitch Wars. Which brings me to this catch up post!

Last month, I finally got to meet up with said amazing friends Joan and Michella (who by the way, are mentoring this year ;))! It was the first time we were all together since we struck up our friendship. It's actually pretty incredible since we live on opposite sides of the country. While they were here we were able to catch up, walk around the city, have writing dates, and ate a delicious amount of cookies!!!

It was glorious. Check out the photos below for yourself! 

Whether or not you Pitch Wars hopefuls get in, I just want all you to know that it's not the end all or be all of your writing journey. Even as you move further and further toward the goal of being a published author, know that there will always be things to worry about or stress over. So enjoy the present moment and most of all the process, because it never stops. Just keep at it, take breaks if you need to, but keep some close friends with you throughout your journey. Writing may seem like a solitary endeavor, but having people to talk through things with and who support you really makes all the difference.

TGw9L - Week Five & Epiphanies/Inspiration

High-five! Because I completed week five! Okay, that was corny, but hey! I made it! And I'm posting early instead of waiting for Friday. So go me!

So my progress...

Week 5: 13,388
Total: 60,128

It was a really great week for me! The 18th especially because I had an epiphany about how to end my MS in a way that ties everything together, so I couldn't be happier! I wrote up to 3K that day so I could get closer to writing it, but even ending the week at 60K, I still have a ways to go. So much farther to go, I found myself procrastinating on the 21st. A part of me just wants it all to be perfect, but I have to accept that this is only a first draft and I will make it better. I just need to get it out, finish--while still keeping the flame I have for this book alive--before I run out of stamina. And also, another part of me just wants this done, done, done! So I can hold this precious, but dark story in my hands.

So to fuel up for the finish line, I'm using some inspiration. If you follow me on twitter, you may remember this tweet from my first week of drafting:

The song is 'You and I' (stripped version) by PVRIS. It basically captures the relationship between Elias and Delilah (who is actually Jane, and who actually doesn't have a 'real' name--long story). Anyway, the thing is, when I draft, it's usually done in silence. Usually I'll create a playlist to listen to when I work out or take lunch break walks to get me thinking about the story. This time, I found myself gravitating to PVRIS's 'White Noise' album all the time.

Like, seriously. It just speaks to me. Lyrics written for the album were highly inspired by ghosts and spirits, so I guess it's fitting that I would connect my MS to this album, since my MC is akin to a ghost/spirit herself. Now, I've been listening to the album non-stop to get me in the zone as I finish up the MS. 

But get this! I found out on Monday that PVRIS has a concert this week in Seattle! Must be fate, right? So I got tickets, and now I'm so excited because I get to see these songs--that have filled me with inspiration for the past month and a half--live! It's like a pre-celebration bash before I knock out 'The End'!

Gahhhh! I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself. Just for funsies, I've listed some of my favorite songs and what they mean to me in respects to my MS:

You and I (stripped & regular version) - My two MC's courtship/romance.
Empty - My MC's character ARC.
My House - Delilah's dark thoughts that lead to her demise.
Holy - Eliza's 'poor unfortunate soul'.
Fire - My MC's dark past/confrontation. 
Eyelids - Bittersweet moment scene for my two MC's.
Only Love (Acoustic-not on the album) - The ending + epilogue of the MS.

Really though, I love the whole album <3

In other good news, I've accepted a job offer and will be switching to my new role in July! May has been very good to me, and I am so grateful.

To end, here's some epic brunch pictures this past weekend at The London Plan (which was delicious. I have to say, it's my new fave brunch place!).


 

 

 

TGw9L - Week Two & Food For Inspiration

Week two of drafting and getting to ~25K! AKA the point in drafting where the idea is going somewhere so might as well finish the darn thing ;)

Week 2: 11,036
Total: 24,996

So the week started pretty great as I started to build the frame of the narrative and the layers of the characters. But then toward the weekend, I wrote myself into a corner. It happens. And when it does, it sucks majorly. So what should you do? Well, I can't speak for all writers, but here are my suggestions:

  • Take a break. Step away from your work so you can get a fresh mind and a clear perspective. You'll find that doing so will often (if not most likely) help solve the issue.
  • Figure out the point in which you deviated in the plot that led to the dead end. Ever get lost when you're on the road driving? Same situation. You drive along, scenery looks great until it doesn't anymore. You get an inkling that you aren't headed where you want to go. You pull over, try to get your bearings, and realize where you went turned out to be the wrong way, and it helps to back track.
  • Do something else that you love or inspires you. Sometimes you just need to switch gears to avoid burnout. For me, it's playing my guitar, reading, or good food. Which brings me to my next topic.

Food for thought. No seriously. Do you ever think about the food you eat and how it can affect you or your creative spirit? When I wrote myself into a corner I turned to food. But not in the binge and eat my feels kind of way (though I'll admit I do that sometimes). I like to think of food as a sensory art. Ever had that moment when you ate something that brought up a memory, or was so delicious you thought you might cry? Food, like books, tell a story. From the ingredients that make it up, to the time it takes to prepare, to the final presentation. It's beautiful and such a wonderful, momentous experience, like reading an amazing story that touches your soul.

Michael and I ate some amazing food during the weekend when I wrote myself into a corner (note I will probably trash like 3K of what was written this week), and it really consoled and reassured me that it's okay sometimes to get lost. It's okay to accidentally add too much salt in a recipe, you'll just know not to the next time you make it. To get a recipe at its absolute best, you need the exact measurements, the perfect temperature, and the necessary amount of time, to pull that tasteful masterpiece together; and that happens with a little tweaking, a dash of practice, and a sprinkle of experimentation.

So yeah, I wrote myself into a corner this week. But it wasn't so bad once I had some amazing food to give me a tasteful perspective. The lesson I learned this week: making delicious food is like creating a magical manuscript. Once you get it just right--the flavors, the colors, the scents, the sights--all of it will be an unforgettable and sensory experience.