Friday, August 14, 2015

Weekly Update: I'm Back!

Two months without a post. I've guess I've got some explaining to do.

I'm in trouble now.
I didn't actually intend to abandon the blog. It's more like it got pushed out of the way. After all the stress of publishing and launching my first book gave way, I just sort of collapsed. Mentally, not physically. I needed a break... and it just ended up being longer than I intended.

Plus, I was busy with other things.

You may scoff, You're a substitute, you don't work over the summer, how could you possibly be busy?

Let me reassure you, I find ways.

What I've Been Doing This Summer

Launch Party

You have no idea how stressed I was about this party.

School had pretty much ended the week before the launch, but I spent every single day either rehearsing my speech or figuring logistics or trying to get people to come. I was so nervous. Speaking in public isn't frightening to me (I'm a sub, I talk to strangers everyday), but I don't like having to talk about myself. Worse still, I was going to read a chapter of my book, which made me feel insanely vulnerable.

Reading doesn't usually terrify me, but in this case...
Fortunately, I had tons of support from family and friends. Before I even got to the library, members of the Brea Library Writer's Club had set up tables with beautiful book centerpieces, flowers, and balloons. They helped me as I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to greet people and put food on the table. Eventually, though it was time to begin.

A light, funny trivia game helped break the ice and then I gave a speech about why I had chosen to write this book and some of the obstacles I faced while writing it. Then, it was time to read. My heart pounded, but my voice--which had practiced reading for the last few days--came out smooth. I could hear everyone listening and that gave me confidence.

They applauded after I finished. That means they liked it, right?
After the reading, I signed books and we had a raffle. It was a little surreal, sitting at the author's table and trying to wrap my head around the fact that... well, I was, am, an author.

How funny. You'd think I'd be more prepared for that moment.

Thanks to Helen McCarthy and Kaleo Welborn, who helped plan and set up the event, Rita Haney and Ned Rodriguez for manning the sales tables, Sean Krinik for taking pictures, my cousin Kevin Ishizu for mc-ing, and the many, many people who chipped in for snacks and refreshments and who helped set up and clean up. Thanks, too, to Brea Library, for graciously agreeing to host my event. I really could not have done it without you!

Thanks to Sean Krinik's awesome photos, I look like a real writer.
For those who missed it, I have an Author Talk coming up on Saturday, August 22nd at the Brea Library 11AM.

Critique Partners

I already have, not one but two, critique groups: The Brea Library Writer's Club and the OC Inklings. But I wanted to try something new, just for the summer. Instead of having a large group, I wanted to work more intensely with a few individuals and get a deeper level of feedback. So I teamed up with Rita and Carmen from the Brea Library Writer's Club, and we began to meet every Sunday at Panera.

What critique partners turned into
It wasn't exactly what I expected. For one thing, we soon ended up spending an average of 6 hours, from lunch to dinner, going over our work. We began to move from the usual critique to brainstorming to helping each other plan out chapters to setting goals together and asking each other for encouragement and accountability. It's been an interesting journey, but so far, lots of fun.

Summer Reading

When you get bitten by the bookworm, there's no stopping you. And when your library offers a raffle for reading 10 books by August 1st, well that's practically daring you to drop everything and read.
 Here's my list:

Some of the books I bought, some I found lying on my bookshelf, some I borrowed from the library on a whim, some I found on my dad's bookshelf and read them to avoid actually doing work. It's an eclectic bunch of books, but I enjoyed most of them. They are now going to the compost heap that is my brain.

You want to know the saddest thing. This isn't even half the books on my reading list.

Gah! This was tedious and boring!

It took this many folders to contain my work.
Basically, this was the monumental task of shuffling through all my writing and trying to fit it into a new system of organization. This means various drafts of various manuscripts, agent information, articles on writing and publishing, financial records, formatting information, contracts... argghh! It was a mess.
Moving on.


So, unfortunately, no summer vacation for me. Boo hoo. But to make up for it, I went to various plays over the summer, and since they were free, it gave my wallet a feeling of relief.

One of my two favorite plays was the Phantom of the Opera, which took place at the Pantages Theater in LA. It was free only due to a technicality: my aunt got tickets for her birthday and brought me along. I shudder to think how much it actually cost.

Special effects like this cost money!
The Pantages was absolutely stunning--gilded to the ceiling and a perfect fit for Phantom. Apparently, the production had more special effects than ever before, like steps that moved out of the side of the building, creating a staircase where before was only brick wall. I thought the singing was beautiful and swept me up in the story.

After the play, I promptly purchased a soundtrack and began bursting into song at random intervals. My aunt probably regrets taking me.

 My other favorite play was Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, put on by the Independent Shakespeare Co at Griffith Park, and this really was free, although they do ask for donations. My cousins and I spread out a blanket to save a spot, wasted an hour exploring the graffiti-painted ruins of the old LA zoo, and then dove into our picnic baskets of spam musubi, cold KFC, mandarin oranges, pretzels, and popcorn.

Unlike the traditional version, this is set at the end of WWII
I really cannot say enough how much fun this was. The performance was so funny you forgot it was cultural. One of the favorite parts was when the reluctant lovebirds Benedick and Beatrice, in order to better eavesdrop on their friends conversation, went into the audience and attempted to blend in with the crowds. Performances are still going on until Labor Day, so if you have a free weekend, go see it.

I also saw the musical play of Mary Poppins presented by the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival, which was great, except that we came late and got really, really bad seats, and The Tempest put on by Shakespeare by the Sea, which was more traditional Shakespeare. The Tempest was good, but I saw it right after Much Ado About Nothing, and the Griffith Park play emerged victorious.

But again, free plays, summer outdoor fun, cultural experience. Have a picnic, get entertained, feel smarter. How can you lose?


Of course, writing.

I didn't want to work on the tale I'm currently calling Isra and the Grim Fish, a story about a girl forced into a cave for a crime she didn't commit, where the only source of water is a pool full of skeletal grim fish, which will snatch her into the depths if she so much as touches her--or would, if Isra weren't prepared with magic of her own.

In my imagination, the cave looks something like this.

I didn't want to work on it, and I didn't want it to be so long--some 30,000 words, at this point, almost the size of a novel. But the story wanted to be told and my critique partners yelled at me to bring them more, so I write, and hopefully, I'll be finished with it soon.

I did want to work on Three Floating Coffins, the fairy-tale-like story of three princess caught in a web of family secrets, magic, and betrayal. It took a little while to get going, but I have the prologue done and I've been working on revising 6 middle chapters, so it's a good start.

The graffiti represents the inner workings of my brain.
For the first time, I actually completed Nanowrimo in July. Now I have 50,000 words added to Draft Two of The Originals, the sequel to The Changelings.

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