2019

Wow. It’s 2019. I can’t believe it.

At times it felt like 2018 went at a snail’s pace, but as I look back I’ve come to realize it went as quick as a blink of an eye. 2018 was such an amazing albeit crazy year. I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary, then quickly after found out I was pregnant, became a finalist for the New Visions Award, had a baby, and then adjusted to motherhood. I’m not sure if 2019 will top that, but I am hoping it will.

As we enter the new year, I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to focus on this year and how to accomplish it while balancing motherhood. Before having a child, I thought I didn’t have enough hours in a day to do the things I wanted. Now that I have a baby, I realized that I had all the time in the world. Why did I squander it? Finding time in the day when another human being relies on you for everything and you are at the whim of their sleeping and feeding schedule makes you see the value of time and also the little things you took for granted. Like taking a leisure shower, making yourself a nice meal, having an organized and clean house, enjoying a glass of wine, or going to the movies. It’s a whole new life when you become a parent, and you become essentially a whole new person.

But even though life changes completely, the essence of who you are does not.

For me, it always goes back to writing. That deep and almost painful yearning to wrestle a manuscript into a gratifying story. The process, however, is far from gratifying. It’s hard. Some days I feel like I’ll never make it. Some days I feel like I suck. Some days I feel like the words are always out of reach and that I have no talent or skill. But the more I stay away from writing, the more guilty I feel for neglecting it because it feels as if I’m starving my soul. The small fleeting moments of clarity and rush of adrenaline when the story’s heart beats against my own though, always gets me to come back.

And in 2019, I still keep coming back.

This year, I’m going to finish my current revision and finally put the story I’ve been working on and off for years to rest.

This year, I’m going to finish that half written draft I had put aside in 2018.

This year, I’m going to write, revise, and hope for the best that maybe this will be the year that I get closer to the dream.

Hello Motherhood

After an almost 14 hour labor from my water breaking to my son’s arrival, I’ve officially entered into Motherhood! Despite the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and the constant breastfeeding, I’ve never been happier.

It’s funny. I never considered myself maternal at all. Kids are cool and all, but I always thought I could do with or without them. In fact, one of my worries during pregnancy was the fear of losing a part of myself by devoting such a huge portion of my time to someone else. Now, that I have Micah, I can’t imagine him not being in my life. I can’t imagine not wanting to be with him every minute of the day. The love between mother and child really can’t be explained. It’s like finding your life partner or soul mate. It changes everything. The way you feel, the way you see the world. Just. Everything. It makes me see my own mother as well as all moms in a whole new light.

Right now, I’m still adjusting to our new addition to our family and my new role, but just like my son is his own person, I am reminded that so am I. True, I am a mom now, and as much as I love it, it’s not all I am. Once I find my rhythm, I look forward to going back to writing and revising. Still chasing that dream and leading by example so that my son never gives up on anything he deems worthwhile.

So, anyway, that’s where I’ve been lately. Still here, alive and well, watching my son grow as I think about all the stories I want to read and write for him.

Celebrating Baby

The past few months have been a whirlwind for me, but despite it, a good amount of time was carved out to celebrate the arrival of baby. First, on the agenda was a babymoon! Michael and I never really went on a honeymoon, so I really wanted to go on some kind of trip before the baby came. It didn't have to be a big trip, just something for the two of us to getaway since most of our trips this year was dedicated to visiting family. We ended up taking a weekend getaway to charming little Victoria, BC in July and I am so glad we did. It was nice to simply bask in the glow of our marriage and the new family we were creating. It was a fun weekend of garden, butterflies, food, museums, and walking about the water.

August called for our last trip to California to visit family. Now that I was getting into the third trimester, I no longer felt comfortable flying anymore, nor did I want to fly after the baby when he was a newborn. So friends and family came together to throw us a memorable baby shower, making the trip back home that much sweeter.

September called for even more celebration, but this time with the Washington friends and family! This baby is so loved by everyone where ever we go. I can’t wait until he’s old enough for me to show him just how excited everyone was for him to arrive.

Before I knew it, it was October, and I found myself extremely anxious. Anxious to be done with pregnancy, and even more anxious to meet my son!

July: Writing Update & Latest Recs

Writing: Know where you're headed, but don't rush a good thing

Currently, I am working on substantial revisions for one of my manuscripts. When I had set out to do this revision, I planned all my changes on a spreadsheet and gave myself deadlines (I'm a type-A planner. Can you tell?). At first I was moving pretty steadily, making my daily, and weekly goals, and then things got sticky. I pushed through anyway. And then I got stuck. After what felt like taking a huge step forward with the revision, I realized I had taken two steps back. By trying to meet my daily goals and weekly deadlines, I had rushed the story and it showed in my writing. Every scene felt forced.

*weeps*

One and a half week's worth of work needed to be re-revised. That hurt. That really, really, hurt. And my mindset became totally wrecked as the finish line slipped farther and farther away. And when you're feeling down, all the other negative chatter follows, making it hard to be focused or passionate about the story when all you can see are the flaws in it.

I got myself out of it by taking the time to go back and seeing where things went wrong and being honest with myself with what needed to be done to get me back on track.

Here are some tips and tricks that helped me:

  • Always, always, always, have an updated outline as you revise. It helps to sort out the changes you've made to easily compare it with what the draft used to be. Since there are so many moving part to revising, I use a spreadsheet which has two outlines. One is the previous draft and the other is what I want the revised draft to be. I use columns in between these two outlines to jot down notes for myself on what needs to be changed. Think of it like going from point A to point B. How do I make the draft I have now into what I want it to be? That's what you need to figure out during the revision planning process, and then revising is all about executing it. Though, I will mention, nothing is ever set in stone. As you are knee deep in revisions, you might change your mind on how you want the finished revision to look like. That's totally okay, but update the SS to reflect the new changes so you always know where you are and where you're headed when your knee deep in revisions. (If you guys want a full explanation on how I make revision spreadsheets, let me know, and I can make a resource post for it.)
  • Remember to never rush a good thing: This applies to life but also drafting/revising. You can always tell where an author put in a lot of time in a piece of work, versus rushing through a plot point. Rushing leaves the reader unsatisfied. I mean forced plot, forced character, forced everything, wouldn't that leave you unsatisfied? You know how you can tell when someone is trying to hard? It's basically the same thing. You're trying too hard to make a plot point or character arc stick and it shows up as being inauthentic.

So happy to say that I am almost two-thirds done with this revision! Middles for me are always the hardest, so I am looking forward to revising the ending and being done with this layer of revision.

Motivation & Inspiration

Motivation: Showing Up & Never Giving Up

This month in the woes of my revision I looked for some inspiration and found them in some podcasts featuring Sarah J Mass and Julie Dao! If you need a motivating boost, check them out!

  • Showing Up - Sarah J Mass interview at '88 Cups of Tea': I absolutely adored Sarah's conviction and dedication to her craft. Her belief in herself and what she wanted to do with her life since 16 really restored my belief in myself and what I want to be: a writer! Her most important advice? Show up, every day. If it's the job you want, you have to work for it.
  • Never Giving Up - Julie Dao interview at Write or Die: I knew a little bit about Julie's road to publication but not to this extent! She goes through her journey in detail which goes to show that the only failure in writing is in giving up. Her persistence is awe-inspiring and gives me hope for my own journey. She made a great comment about how you never really know when success will arrive. It may be right around the corner and you don't even know it. So that should be reason enough to keep going, and never give up.

Inspiration: Latest book & music recs

Book-wise these two have been my highlights:

Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young - Thank you Ms. Young for bringing me out of my book slump! This standalone YA fantasy had so much action and heart, and was seriously my cup of tea. I devoured this beauty for its fun adventure and gut-wrenching plot. These are the kind of fantasy books that I want to write so this story just felt like home bringing me to a brand new place with such a feisty, but flawed heroine! Oh and also, the slow burn romance. Bonus points for that. Fiske fan forever! *end fangirling rant* (She also had a great interview with Sarah Enni on the First Draft podcast, that I highly recommend listening to as well!)

You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero - This was a Mother's Day gift from my sister. Now, that I am pregnant, I've been kind of stunned at how much it costs to raise a human being! I always had the mentality that money does not make a person happy nor does it define your worth. One thing I have to admit: money makes life a whole lot easier as long as you are able to manage your money well. Though some parts I couldn't get behind 100%, I felt like this was a quick and uplifting read to encourage you to step out of your shell and ask for what you want.

Own the day, Own your life by Aubrey Marcus - So I really enjoy listening to self-help/motivating books on audiobook (it makes doing chores/the commute go by so much easier). I highly recommend you do the same for this one. Marcus illustrates how focusing on optimizing and doing your best each day is the best approach to owning your life instead of getting owned by the day to day. Focusing on all aspects of your life, this book really resonated with me (I'm a productivity junkie--anything to be more efficient and make the most use of my time always gets me inspired) by emphasizing balance and how to achieve it. There were so many takeaways from it that I'm still digesting everything I learned.

Music-the latest adds to my spotify playlist: I've been on an alternative kick lately!

Panic! At The Disco - Thank you for the new album. My faves are: Dying in LA, High Hopes, Hey Look Mam I Made It

The 1975 - Girls, Somebody Else

Rosie Darling - I Fall Apart

Pregnancy Update: Halfway There

The anatomy scan. The mid-pregnancy ultrasound where you get to see your baby and make sure everything is developing properly. Being the worry-wort that I am, I've been looking forward to this appointment since its been scheduled, hoping it will ease my conscience, but also because I just want to see the baby. The belly is getting bigger, the heartbeat is becoming my favorite sound in the world, and I've been feeling flutters, swishes, rolls, and kicks, but there's something about seeing him moving on the ultrasound screen that just makes me want to cry happy weepy tears. Maybe it's because I love him so much already my chest feels like its about to burst, or maybe seeing him makes me fall in love with Michael all over again. After all, this little miracle wouldn't be possible without our love for each other.

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As you can tell, pregnancy makes me emotional. The abundance of love I feel for my husband and child is hard to describe, and I feel like it's one of those things you don't really get until you experience it for yourself. Like I knew I was already capable of love, but just when you think it can't get any deeper, it does. 

Everyone thought I would want a girl first seeing as I come from such a badass female family, but when I thought of having a child, I knew I wanted a mini-Michael. I get so much support from the femme fatales in my life, I knew in my own family unit I would want a boy like his father to melt my heart for years to come. I am literally counting down the days until I get to meet him, even knowing the first few weeks will be insane and my chances of sleep or null. #worthit

As I enter motherhood, it's made me really appreciate my family in a whole new light. It takes a village to raise a child, and I can't help but count my blessings for my mom and my sisters who raised me. We didn't have much growing up, but we had each other, and really that's all you need.

But back to the scan. I've been a bundle of nerves because I don't really sleep well anymore since I am no longer allowed to snooze on my back. Couple that with revisions, work, and getting things sorted in my personal life, it's been one heck of a rollercoaster, but once the day arrived, I couldn't help but count down the hours, wishing on every minute like it was a star that our baby would be healthy and progressing normally. I'm not sure my heart could take it if we heard otherwise.

Luckily, the ultrasound tech put me at ease immediately. He was smiling, which made me smile, and he went through all the body parts of the baby, constantly reassuring us that everything looked good. I started to relax, enjoying the show as baby seemed to be dancing to his own groove, fist pumping in the utero. The doctor came in afterwards to give us the final report. Baby was healthy and growing within one day of his due date, and he saw no reason for us to come back for any future ultrasounds. Now, it was all about taking good care of myself and baby for the next 19 weeks to ensure optimum health.

Now, that all the scary testing stuff is over with, I am finally enjoying my pregnancy :)

Other fun pregnancy updates:

Things I don't love about being pregnant:

  • Not being able to drink wine. Most days I don't really think about it, but some days I really miss it. It was an experience Michael and I shared, and I miss having that. This is the first year we are breaking tradition and not going on a wine trip *pouts*.
  • Not being able to eat sushi. I dream of having an omakase meal post-pregnancy. I keep telling myself it's going to be my push reward along with a bottle of champagne. Though oddly, it's been difficult for me to eat some kinds of cooked fish, so Michael brought up the point that even though I want sushi while pregnant, my body would probably revolt against it.
  • Pregnancy acne. I never really had to struggle with acne in general, so it's really been a pain to deal with it all pregnancy. Starting to think this pregnancy glow is non-existent. Ha.
  • Hating to wear clothes. Ha. Nothing looks good! And I'm so not into purchasing a whole new wardrobe to dress up the bump, so I've only bought a few essentials that I hope will get me through the next few months.
  • Being hungry all the time. You would think the excuse to eat more would actually excite me because I love food, but it's actually kind of torture when you have no room in your belly, so you have to constantly graze every two hours. It makes eating a chore when you can't really enjoy a full meal and your taste buds are off.

Things I love about being pregnant:

  • Feeling him move. Nothing is more magical. Sometimes when I feel alone and I doubt myself as a mother and wife, I always seem to get a reassuring nudge from the little one as if he's saying, Chill ma, you're doing great.
  • Baby likes the sound of Michael's voice. He is more receptive to moving and kicking when he can hear his papa close by. It's so neat now that Michael can feel him, too.
  • My relationship with Michael. I feel like the baby has brought us much closer and or marriage is better because of it.

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.

March'ing On & PVRIS

It's March. I can't believe it. It feels like this month just flew by.

In my last post, I mentioned some things I was looking forward to which basically took up a lot of my time. No complaints though because I loved seeing my friends, visiting my family for the lunar new year, dining at Atelier Crenn, and making memories. The only downside? I got sick shortly afterward. Like the worst cold ever type sick. I was basically bed-ridden and survived off soup and rewatched the Harry Potter movies and binged on Imposters on Netflix. Not a bad use of my time, but I would take being healthy over yucky sick days anytime.

Sometimes I think I get sick because I have a lot on my plate or I'm trying to do too much, and it's my body's way of putting on the brakes to get me to slow down. Because of that I had a lot of time to think. Especially about my current MS.

Just when I thought I was getting a grasp on it, it sprouted heads, like Medusa's hair, taking me this way and that. When I started to recover from my illness, I tried getting back to the computer to work on my revision, and I just couldn't. I started crying, having a full on meltdown on the carpet in my office, feeling like a failure. It just wasn't working. It didn't meet my vision.

My husband really had to pick me up and give me a pep talk about how stepping away from the MS isn't a sign of weakness, but strength. It takes a lot of courage to know when something isn't working and to step away from it. It doesn't mean we've quit or failed. We're just setting it aside until the idea has fully formed, and we have the skillset to accomplish it.

I always knew this MS was too ambitious and would take a lot out of me, and though I'm sad I'm not near where I want to be, I've decided I needed a clean slate and a new project to escape and fall into. Contrary to my new year's resolutions, I'm going to work on a story I hadn't plan to draft this year. So far I've written 8K and I feel the same rush I did with Diamond Queen.

This year isn't going as I'd planned, but sometimes life doesn't and that's okay. It's March, and I'm still marching on towards something great, even if it's not what I initially envisioned.

This week I also got to see PVRIS live again. My manuscript from last year was heavily influenced by their music, and though the manuscript never went anywhere, it still brought a lot of heartbreak and joy. The kind of emotion that grips you in all the feels (good and bad) because that's what it did to me while writing it. It makes me realize that no MS is a waste of time. Each one teaches you something about yourself and pushes to improve your craft.

As I head into the next two months drafting my new fantasy idea, I'm going to keep that in mind.

Things I'm looking forward to this month:

  • My sister visiting me
  • Going on vacation (again) to California (because I desperately need more sun)
  • My birthday