Behind the scenes: 2018 NVA finalist & the gender reveal!

When I first moved to Seattle and my sister came to visit me, we decided to see a fortune teller for fun off Broadway in Capitol Hill. I'll admit, I sometimes go once a year to get my fortune told. I don't know if I believe in them one hundred percent, but when I get good news, I like to think it manifests itself into reality.

Anyway, this particular reading occurred in the summer of 2014, and the only reason I remember it is because the fortune teller told me, Writing for you, goes hand in hand with your love life. I took that to mean that if my relationship was good, so would my writing be. Who knows if it's true, but my young twenty-something self had recently moved to Seattle for love, and I was one year into seriously writing novel-length works with the intent for publication. Back then I had been naive. I thought I could make a three-year plan to be published, and I would be financially stable enough to quit my day job. I'm shaking my head at my past self as I write this. Oh, how I wish I could have warned my past self just how difficult that would be. That's not to say it can't happen--because it has for the fortunate few, but I am not so fortunate. And the reality is, most authors still have a full-time job in addition to their writing contracts.

The whole point of going to the fortune teller though was for me to ask if I would make it into PitchWars, to which I got the vague reply, Writing will be a long journey, but when your door opens, it will happen very fast. Suffice it to say, I did not get in that year, and my relationship with Michael was still relatively new. After that summer though, I stopped thinking about that fortune, until things started to line up.

In 2015, Michael and I went to Vietnam with my family. During this trip he asked my mom for my hand in marriage. When we came home from that trip, I started working on a manuscript inspired by that trip. That was the year I got into PitchWars and Michael proposed. For a moment, it looked like things were getting serious! Writing and relationship-wise!

In 2016 we booked the venue for our wedding, and I also got my first agent. Finally, I thought. Something is happening! During this year, I wedding planned and also went on submission for the first time. All the while, I waited thinking, This is it. My door is opening!

Except it didn't. The rejections came in, and my writing confidence took a hit which showed in my other works. I started to doubt myself and my ability. Then my 3-year plan was up.

In 2017, I got married, but then my agent and I parted ways amicably. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I felt like I'd failed everyone whoever believed in me, and then eventually, I stopped believing in myself.

I took a long break from writing after that. I thought of doing something else for awhile. Maybe I should learn to code? Maybe I should become a sommelier? Maybe I should focus more on my career! Looking back, I know that my hesitation to pursue my dream came out of fear. I didn't want to admit I failed on my dream.

But with the push of writing friends, I decided to try again. It's only failure if you stop, right? Except when I tried, I was faced with rejection yet again (Seriously, miss fortune lady. Where is this door? And why won't it open?). 

Then I saw the New Visions Award contest, and I thought, why not? I liked the imprint's mission, and it became more important for me to want to share my story with readers then to simply be published. I also wanted to give an old manuscript one more shot before putting it in my trunk forever. So I submitted, and retreated to drafting once more.

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In 2018, I got pregnant. And then the beginning of my second trimester I found out I was a finalist for the award. I didn't win, but I was finalist, which meant, I wasn't outright rejected. I was in the top five, after feeling like the past five years of writing amounted to what seemed like nothing. After years of rejection and setbacks, I didn't realize at first just how monumental or how much this affected me until I received an encouraging e-mail from an editor.

Sometimes, you just need encouragement from someone who isn't family or friend who sees something in your work for you to realize, Hey, I've improved over the course of my journey. Which means I can only get better if I keep at it. And if I do, maybe a door will finally appear.

So sure, being a finalist was a small victory, but one I needed.

I have no idea whether or not the fortune lady will be right, but that's really besides the point. As long as I believe in myself then eventually some door--wherever it may be--will open. Only because I won't stop pounding on it until someone let's me in.

There will be no more 3 or 5 year plans for me. Only a lifelong dream.

Now, I'm about to dive into a cool writing opportunity this summer which may or may not come to anything. But I'm excited to tackle it just because opportunities in the writing world don't come up every often. Hopefully I'll rise to the occasion, but if I don't, that's okay too as long as I try my best, because I know I'll grow and learn from the experience (which I consider a win). To do so, I'll have to put drafting The Gilded Cage on hold, but I plan to get back to it soon.

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On another life-related note, I'm having a baby boy. We revealed the gender to the family on Mother's Day, and my heart is full of warmth and happiness for my family and in-laws from all the support we've been given. My son is already loved by everyone, and we haven't even had the pleasure of meeting yet!

The fortune lady was right about one thing though: writing and love goes hand in hand for me because the act of writing is the best way I know how to express my love.

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: MS7 Revision Notes & Pass 1 (Week 1)

It's been a whirlwind of a week! But I'm so excited to sit down and get into this WWPR, because it feels like a celebration. For one, I am fully functional now, and the cold I had is becoming more like a distant memory as each day passes. With the increase in energy levels, I gathered all my notes, scene cards, and my running list of problems in my MS, and focused this week on finding solutions!

Here's my week in writing:

THURSDAY: Reviewing the macro problems first (plot, character, setting), I placed all of my scene cards on the floor to rearrange them and placed my solutions onto the notecard with stickies. I'll save you the long spiel on how I did this by referring you to Marissa Meyer and Susan Dennard's websites. My method is basically a combination of their revision process, and they provide a lot of info on how to go about revisions if you want to read up on it.

I worked from 4-8 p.m. (make sure to follow my instagram @michelletranwrites to see my insta stories), but it was so worth it because by the end of the night I knew where I wanted to take this MS, and most importantly, how.

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FRIDAY: I began my first pass of revisions by making the changes I wanted directly on the printed manuscript. My goal is to finish this relatively quickly (2-2.5 weeks) and then type in the changes on my computer while concurrently doing a second pass of the manuscript afterward.

Pass one will focus on getting the plot nailed down with all the scenes in the correct order and roughly putting the character arcs in place to compliment the plot.

Pass two will be to get the character arcs fully fleshed out while also fixing the flow/transitions of the story since I had to move a lot of scenes around.

Depending on where I'm at with pass 2, I anticipate a pass 3 and 4 to focus on setting, dialogue, and prose. Maybe then I'll feel confident enough to ship out my MS to some CP's.

SATURDAY: I flew back to Sac to celebrate my nieces birthday! It was a quick trip, but I still brought my manuscript, just in case. I was able to get one chapter done on the flight there.

SUNDAY: Since my niece was just too cute and wanted to play, I didn't get any revising done. I ended up having quality time with her and the family. I built her new birthday gift I had chipped in to buy. It took me about 4-5 hours, but her excitement for her play kitchen was worth it.

MONDAY: Since I didn't get much done during my weekend in Sac, I had to turn it up a notch and make up time for it. I ended up getting through 5 chapters!

TUESDAY: Pass one continues. I've made it to one third through of the write-in portion of the revision. To make things even better, I got some surprise holiday mail from 2 of my great CP's Mic & Krystal!!! THANK YOU!!!

WEDNESDAY: ALMOST HALFWAY DONE. Cue celebration with this WWPR post!

All of this planning and organizing during the revision process has really inspired me to keep myself on track--not just now, but for 2018. To do so, I'm using a planner instead of my typical spreadsheet or notebook so I can jot down my progress. Hopefully by the end of 2018, I'll have a full planner focusing on making 2018 my best writing year. Here's what the planner looks like reflecting this week! For the month portion, I quickly jot down my progress and what week I'm on. For the week portion, I also jot down how I'm currently feeling about the process to help me reflect.

Hopefully by next week, I'll be done with the write in part. Wish me luck, and happy writing!

What are your ways to stay on track? Comment below!

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!

Napa, A Wedding, & The Rest of My Trip

Day 3. We left Sonoma and crossed over to Napa. Michael and I had a wedding to attend in Santa Rosa where we would finally get to meet up with my family. We still had time to kill though, so we headed over to Napa to do more tasting!

Our first stop was Caymus. It was always on Michael's list to try, and we missed it the last time we were in Napa, so it was nice to finally go. The outdoor seating was lovely in the nice weather. Next, we went to the futuristic Palmaz, where they showed us their new tech and how they used gravity instead of pumping to give their wine some smoothness. It felt like a James Bond movie, and the wine was amazing. I totally recommend. To end, we did a tasting at Wine Country Connection where we got to chat with a Master Somm which was a neat first for us!

Afterwards, we met up with my family in Santa Rosa for a wedding! It was the first time I met my niece, who is absolutely adorable. No wonder my mom says I've been replaced!

Of course, my family proceeded to take a zillion selfies since it's a rarity for all of us to be together (unless it's Thanksgiving). Who do you think I look the most alike?

I also just realized that I wear the same dress to almost every wedding. I need a wardrobe update asap!

When the wedding was over, Michael and I hitched a ride back to Sacramento to spend our remaining days of vacation with my family. There, I got to hang out with my cousins, eat amazing home-cooked meals of all my favorites, spent time with friends, and I even fit in some reading time (I'll save my thoughts of BLOOD FOR BLOOD for a 'Bookish Feels' post).

Getting back from vacation is always rough for me. Heck, it took me almost two weeks to even blog about it and for Blaire to warm back up to us. For me, I took a few days to adjust, and then even a couple of more days to get the motivation to work off my vacation weight (the food and wine, was all worth it though ;)).

Currently, I've been obsessed with 'Poldark' (thanks to Michella), which has helped with my book hangover and vacation withdrawals. I loved it so much, I spent the last week reading the first two books of the series it's based off of. But with June almost over, and my next vacation around the corner, I know I need to get back to my WIP and revise, research, and read!

Sister Weekend & Ellie Goulding Concert

This weekend was awesome! Mostly due to the fact that my sister came to visit! And of course, the Ellie Goulding concert we went to!

Since all my sisters live in California, it's such a special treat for me when they come up to Washington to visit!

To start, I took the day off on Friday and drove my sister to Seattle to explore. My sister's visited so many times she's practically seen everything, so it was fun to just walk around. I took her to this cute little crumpet shop called Queen Bee in Madison Park, a place I frequent, and was delighted that she liked it just as much!

After walking around the arboretum, we went to the grocery store to get supplies to roll sushi for dinner.

It was her first time rolling as well as Michael's so it was fun and relaxed Friday as we made our own rolls for dinner (California rolls, and spicy tuna rolls).

After, we rented the movie Brooklyn and I absolutely adored it. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend checking it out!

Saturday morning we went out to brunch at Tallulah's. It's one of our favorite places that we take all of my family members too. After a run in the afternoon, it was finally time to get ready for the Ellie Goulding concert! To start off the night we did Happy Hour at Petit Toulouse and then headed over to the arena for the show.

Let me tell you, Ellie Goulding's voice is heavenly. Her albums don't do her voice justice. See her perform live and you'll understand why.

It was by far the best concert I've ever been to and I would totally see Ellie live again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, we kept it pretty relaxed by going on a leisure hike before getting some shrimp tacos from Cactus for lunch. Afterwards we headed to the Korean store to grab some ingredients for dinner.

During the day we watched A Little Chaos which was another great movie (I recommend that as well)!

Monday, I had to go back to work, but my sister and I made the most of it by getting pedicures after and making a lasagna bake for dinner.

Then just like that my sister's stay was over. It was hard to drop her off at the airport and I always get slightly nostalgic when my family leaves. Luckily, I'll be going back to California in just two months to see them all. For now, I'll just cherish the memories.

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 :)