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.

A New York Kind of Celebration.

My last vacation for the summer has come and gone, and I'm already mourning it. But at least I can write this blog post and look back fondly on my time in New York.

So why New York City? Though Michael and I have already visited the big apple (both on our own), we decided to go back together to celebrate Michael's 29th birthday. For me, it was also a chance to connect with writers I'd met through PitchWars, visit old friends, and splurge on all the deliciousness NYC had to offer.

So my trip in a nutshell:

Michael and I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Pacific Time to catch our flight. We arrived in the early evening and connected with Michael's friend, Josh, for drinks and dinner at Olmstead (in Brooklyn, which was amazing btw). Afterwards we went to a few bars in Greenwich and stayed up until midnight to celebrate Michael's birthday. Before crashing back at the hotel, I tried my first slice. For someone who doesn't care for Pizza, it was delicious. Now I understand the hype. Also, the NY slice totally beats the deep dish pizza of Chicago (IMO).

For Michael's birthday we visited The Natural History Museum with Josh and my PitchWars friend, Michella. After a year of knowing each through out PW class, we were finally able to meet IRL and it was awesome! Afterwards, we went the The Strand for a drink and the view before we all separated.

For dinner, I snagged a rez at Le Bernardin a month ago. Michael's been wanting to go here for the longest time. It has 3 Michelin Stars, and it's currently ranked 24 in the world. For Michael, chef's are his rockstars, and Eric Ripert didn't disappoint. It was one of the best meals I have ever had in my entire life, coming second to Alinea (Chicago wins on that ;)).

After the life-changing meal, we ended the night with a night cap and a view from The Press Lounge.

This day was spent as a date day! Michael and I stopped at Ippudo for some ramen for lunch (check out the smile in my bowl) before we headed to The Met. Though it was my second time there, I still felt like I didn't see everything. Ancient Egypt and American Art were my favorites though this time around. 

After, we took a stroll through Central Park even though it was so humid and hot. We didn't last long though and headed to Laduree for some macaroons before the hotel to clean up for dinner.

It was just before dinner that I got my first celebrity sighting! I saw Heather Lind (actress who plays Anna Strong on TURN)! She ended up eating at the same restaurant we were going to (Maison Premiere).

I started the morning with brunch at Jane with Michael and Josh before meeting up with Michella in Brookyln. She took me to Smorgasburg in Prospect Park and the food was amazing (except the raindrop cake which really didn't taste like anything--total let down, but it looks pretty!).

Afterwards we met up with Kat (another PitchWars friend I got to meet IRL) at Books of Wonder for Beth Revis's author event. When it was over, we headed to Michella's favorite bakery, Breads, where we talked books, publishing, and life. We had so much to discuss we continued it over dinner. We would be the best panel to listen to ;) Just saying.

I got to reconnect with my fellow Aggie, JH Yun, who I haven't seen since our days in 100F (Creative Writing Fiction course at UC Davis) three years ago. She just received her MFA in poetry from NYU, so it was a pleasure to catch up and talk about all the time that had passed since we'd last seen each other. She's an amazing poet! If you haven't checked out her stuff, you really should.

The humidity that day was unbearable. I remember getting ice cream at Popbar after and it literally melted before I could eat it. And then, what do you know, a thunderstorm rolled in.

Trapped at a wine bar with Michael and Josh, we passed the time drinking wine before dinner in Korea Town.

Before I knew it, the trip was over. Michella was sweet enough to drop by my hotel before I left with a farewell gift (I MISS YOU MICHELLA!). She really is the sweetest. And she let me borrow her ARC of HEARTLESS. *heart eyes everywhere*

For Michael and I's last day, we decided to go to the One World Observatory before heading to the airport. I still can't wrap my head over what happened 15 years ago, but I found the memorial to be hopeful. 

Now that vacation is over and I'm back at home, I know I have to get my butt into the chair and start on revisions (so wish me luck!).

On a last note, the PitchWars submission window is opening next week! I'm crossing my fingers for all you hopefuls!

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!

A girl's kind of weekend.

One thing I really missed when I moved was having that solid group of girlfriends. If only it were possible to pack them up with you too! For me, I had a hard time finding friends when I first moved to Washington. I was no longer in the environment where everyone was in my age group, or people going through the same thing I was. Soon the distance between California and Washington became more apparent, and phone calls from my old friends less frequent (though we are still good friends and able to pick up right where we left off when we do see each other). It was a huge adjustment period.

Personally, I prefer having a small handful of close friends than a big network, as I find it difficult to really get to know a person otherwise. This past weekend I was able to do just that and have one-on-one time with a few gal pals.

On Friday, Cristine and I went wine tasting in Woodinville and had dinner afterwards to calm our spinning heads. We encountered really cool people at the tastings, sparking conversations with strangers we may never come across again. Before I knew it, it was already past ten and time for me to make the drive home.

Photo Cred: Cristine Peters

Saturday was a bit different. I met with my writer friend Lisa for a hike and we were rewarded with an awesome view. Afterwards we headed to Din Tai Fung for some much needed dumplings and drinks and nachos at Tavern Hall.

In the evening, my friend Hyojin came over. She made cocktails for us and I made dinner. Afterwards we did some facials, gabbed all night, and ate dessert. The morning after we went to brunch and drank tea and talked all afternoon.

Throughout all these separate encounters, the big takeaway from it all were our conversations. If you can talk about anything and everything, and also be okay with comfortable silences, then you know they're the real deal. Conversations that are reciprocated is a big indicator of a friendship's success.

I feel the need to write about successful friendships in this post, only because I went through a period of my life where I was really social, always had a bunch of people around me, but never did I ever feel more lonely in my life. It was a rude awakening realizing I didn't even know them. Yeah, I could spout superficial facts about them, but that was it. Nothing under the surface.

I am lucky in the sense that I have permanent friends. Though sisters by birth, I have a friendly relationship with all of my sisters, but friends outside my family allow me to get a different perspective on things.

One thing my friends and I contemplated was about the future. What's planned, and what is not. What do we want out of life. How to achieve personal happiness. Though I hardly had any writing time this weekend, it made me think a lot about how my protagonist would answer these questions, and how I should convey her friends.

Since the characters in M3 is loosely based on people I knew, I find myself thinking about the real life versions of them a lot. What are they up to now, are they happy? And how do they remember themselves in the time where our lives crossed?

I'm rambling into a tangent now, but it's strange how different friendships come across certain periods of your life, and even more amazing when some friendships can endure all of life's changes. There's one friend in particular that I am oh so very fond of. He is my oldest childhood friend. And though I've moved over three times since we first met, he has been the one constant (besides my family) in my life.

Who is your oldest friend? And would you ever write them into a book? Answer with a comment below ;)