Monday, January 31, 2011

I Am Not An Addict! You Can't Make Me!

It's official.  My internet, um, "predilection" is out of control.  I'm spending more time reading your blogs than working on my novels. 

I spend more time combing your Goodreads reviews than reading actual books.

Last night when I had Real-Housewives-of-Beverly-Hills-induced insomnia, I spent an hour reading all of Seth MacFarlane's tweets dating back to last August.  That was kind of worth it.

I need to unplug.  Mary Campbell used to do a dark week.  I would probably die, but at least I would finish my third novel.

Okay people, how do you control your internet, uh - cravings?  Do you go dark regularly?  Did you die?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gods and Marionettes

For the last 3 months I have rarely had an evening out, so it was a treat to bring a gal pal to Gods and Marionettes at USC last night.  (For the record, my friends and family are Bruins, NOT Trojans.)

This show is a collaboration between the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company and Sonos, a SoCal a capella group.

While it's always great to watch live performances, even more necessary was just spending time with a friend.  (In LA, this happens a lot less than in other cities I've lived in.)  She introduced me to a kebab joint in Little Tokyo that was so hipster it had a DJ.

We met a 6 foot 11 black guy who was trying to eat gelato with a teeny tiny spoon and finally gave up.  This was amusing considering my friend and I are short Asian girls who rolled around in a mini cooper all night.  (HERS.  I wouldn't be caught in public driving a tiny car.)

I might not go out often, but when I do, I make it count.

Now back to my regularly scheduled hermetic life.

Friday, January 28, 2011

People of Color Reading Challenge 2011

As a writer of color, how can I not participate?

Level 2:
4-6 books
Completed 8/28/11
  1. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
  2. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  3. Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  4. The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

(Sadly I'm not sure I can find more writers of color in my genres)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Write Hard Award

Write Hard award was started by Aaron Polson and honors those who work hard on their craft.

First I have to give props back to Rebecca Enzor, who awarded me in the first place.  She's a new critique partner of mine who is an AMAZING cheerleader.  She's so supportive and every little doubt or neurosis I dream up, she slams down.  I consider her not just a new CP, but a new friend that I tweet with like 5 times a day.  I even feel like I'm part of her Asiaogans group too! (I wish.)

(I limited my awards to fellow unpublished writers:)

1. Mary Campbell  First: her blog name is hilarious.  Second: she's the first one who said I should put my picture (and real name) on my blog.  Third: she's another testimony to why being friendly goes a long way in the blogging/writing world.  We've emailed not only about writing, but life and relationships.  I've been a longtime follower of her blog.  Go Mary!

2. Emy Shin This writer is in COLLEGE.  What a great, early start - and thanks for making me feel like a geezer :P  She has a clean, minimalist blog and I've enjoyed every single post, plus she's a fellow NaNo rebel.

3. Suze a.k.a. Honolulu Girl I've followed Suze's True Blood Twilight blog since the beginning and I'm really excited to see her journey through fanfic and into other writing as well.  Suze embodies the Aloha spirit, which is such a mainland thing to say lol  Suze, I'm so rooting for you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Not-Organized-By-Vampire-At-All Bookshelf

Alphabetical? Nope. Vampire.

That's right. My bookshelf is organized by vampire series.

I actually enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse books more than Twilight, but it's easier to be a Twi-Hard and find paraphernalia.

And for the record, though you see a Pocket Edward, I am Team Jacob.  (I'm still waiting for a certain boyfriend to get me the Jacob Barbie doll.)  (Yes I am a grown woman.)

After the vampires, the rest of the shelf is divided in bookstore fashion:

Middle shelf:
YA, graphic novel

Bottom shelf:
Fiction, Memoir, a "sculpture" of books that didn't fit anywhere (travel or oversize),Non-fiction

Show me your shelves!  And don't even think about putting the Cullen crest away, air those guilty pleasure books and merch!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox

Last month I had no idea how people did In My Mailbox, started by the Story Siren.  How did everyone get so many hard copies of books?  (Yes, I've now realized that book bloggers get ARCs.)

This month I can finally participate - I won not 1 but 3 contests!  Since I have to save every penny for an impending move, I can't spend any more on books so I was deathly thrilled to win these:

Elliot and the Goblin War (MG)
by Jennifer A. Nielsen from First Page Panda

Brooklyn Story (Memoir)
by Suzanne Corso from Guide to Literary Agents Blog

Across the Universe (YA)
by Beth Revis from L.H. Walker (a fellow writer I hope to eventually meet in person at a local SCBWI event)

Story about this last one:

Beth Revis is a testimony to good networking.  I heard of her through other blogs and friended her on Goodreads after reading the first chapter of ATU and wanting to know more more more.  She was amiable and sweet, and because of her great attitude, I was absolutely committed to reading the rest of ATU.  I just had to figure out how I could get my hands on a copy of it...

My funds are so tight now so I started entering every ATU giveaway I found.  Lo and behold, Lori wrote me saying I'd won it!  Not only that, she had done the drawing twice at different times and my number came up each time.  It was meant to be!

THANK YOU so much to Jennifer, Suzanne and Beth and to the websites that facilitated these gracious giveaways.  Can't wait to read these!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Audiobooks, Kindles, the World is Coming to An End!

I'm a late adapter to technology, especially if it concerns books. I'm rather suspicious of non-paper formats.

Okay it's straight out blasphemy.

I thought:
Why would you have someone narrate an entire book?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of, um, reading?

This changed 2 1/2 years ago when I accidentally put hydrogen peroxide in my left eye.

(Contact lens wearers who use a certain brand of cleaner know this is not as uncommon as it sounds.  And yes, I know there's a red warning ring around the cap.  I'm so blind I couldn't even see it.  And why did my boyfriend keep that cleaner next to my saline in the first place?!)

Since there was nothing to see do but lie in bed until the swelling went down, I had no choice but try a "free audiobook" - you know what company I'm talking about.  I picked Twilight.

I ended up subscribing to that audiobook site for like a year.  It's the only thing that calms me while driving in Los Angeles traffic, or breaks the monotony of the Stairmaster at the gym.  After my car accident last fall, I now plug my ears and close my eyes whenever I ride passenger so I don't have to see the crazy SoCal drivers weaving on the freeway.

Still I maintain some semblance of my old discrimination - I stick with audiobooks whose plots don't suffer if I miss a few lines here and there (when my GPS butts in, for instance).  For my favorite authors, I still prefer a tangible object I can flip through.

But the dark side is seeping in.

It started with Natalie Whipple's seductive post about the beta-reading uses of a Kindle.

Then I booked tickets for my annual visit to the grandparents in Taipei.  I don't want to lug 5 books with me...but a slim e-reader?

This is a slippery slope, people.  What do you think: e-readers all the way?  Do you own a Kindle and love it?  Any caveats you wished you'd known?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does Every YA Fantasy Heroine Need to Be Bad-Ass?

Character has been driving me crazy this month!
It's no secret we all love YA fantasy heroines who stand up for themselves with snappy comebacks or well-placed punches.  We love smarty-pants Hermione and man-killing Katsa.  Conversely, readers criticize Bella Swan for being so passive and wimpy.

Though I love reading about chicks who fight, my own characters rarely get physical.  This is because I like to relate to them, and I'm a short girl with prematurely creaky joints who's extremely nearsighted and prone to headaches. So I like to give voice to characters who also can't run a mile in under 15 minutes.

But will a fantasy audience want to read about a girl who doesn't swashbuckle?

And what about the shy girls?  Girls with a semi-useless magical ability, who aren't hyper-intellectual, who are polite and obedient?  Who won't be able to swordfight or send a storm to knock you over?

While I've found it easier to write smart girls who use their brains and speak their minds, I don't want all my characters to have a sharp tongue in place of physical prowess either.

Use What You've Got

Book of a Thousand DaysThe one kickass character I can think of who's obedient and possesses no particular fighting skills is Dashti from Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days.

Her magical ability is a healing one, not a fighting one.  And with her spirit, devotion and pragmatism, who isn't in love with her?

It's the way she uses the skills she does have and how she faces her obstacles that draw us in.

Now I have to think of some personality traits for my non-fighting, non-smack-talking heroine that make her as memorable as Dashti.

Are there other female characters in fantasy who aren't all-mighty magicians or fighters?  Please share!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser:

Fables: 1001 Nights of SnowfallFrom Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham

"And with that, the Wazir quickly departed, leaving Snow to wonder at his abrupt change of heart.

That very afternoon the slave girls of the Wazir's house came unto Snow White and bathed and powdered and oiled her."

Everything But Actual Writing

I'm totally there - spending so much time on writing-related activities that I'm not actually writing.

In the last two weeks I:

  • attended a webinar with agent Sara Megibow
  • exchanged pages with two new critique partners
  • started a new blog and twitter with my real name
  • found new friends and books on Goodreads
  • scoured craft books and the internet to work on character development for a WIP
  • kept reading YA fantasy novels
  • researched conferences to attend this year
  • made a syllabus for my personal MFA program, replete with reading lists and homework
  • listened to hours of Pandora and thesixtyone for writing music
  • became addicted to Google reader
I wrote a total of three paragraphs.

This networking and craft-learning and industry research is turning into a monster!  I need to balance this with actual time for writing.

How have you found the balance?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Can Hold You Til You Cry

One thing people don't know about me is that I was in a really woo-woo graduate program for counseling psychology.  We regularly cried in class and did therapy on each other.

At the same time, I worked evenings at a well-known investment bank, assisting people who were younger than me and hundreds of thousands of dollars richer.  That firm was one of the first to crash during the recession and I was laid off just in time for my first NaNoWriMo.

Therapy by day, i-banking by night.  Yup.

The last class I took in my counseling program was Expressive Arts Therapy.  For my final project, I made an online journal: here it is!  You've been warned, I was deep in the woo.

(Prize if you know where my post title is from)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ella Enchants Me: Interview with a Craftsman

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of conversations with fellow artists of every genre.  I'm always fascinated by the person behind the craft: how they live, how they've worked with their lots in life.  My performance background has influenced my writing soo much, and I'm encouraging my fellow writers to cross-dabble and dive. 

Interview: Ella from Live This Art Life

Hi, I'm Ella. I used to have one of those "happy" blogs where everything was positive and funny. And I read a lot of blogs that were positive and funny. Problem was, my life wasn't THAT happy. And I really craved hearing other women's struggles. But I never found those blogs and I stopped blogging for a while. Then, in the middle of a huge personal crisis, I returned to my blog and started to (kinda) lay it out there and work through some heavy stuff. THAT has been the most satisfying part in the journey.
I'm an artistic sort of person and I drift from project to project as it suits my needs. I have the ultimate luxury of being unemployed so as to pursue these adventures, but it makes paying bills difficult. So I take a job now and then.  
I'm a mom with teenagers. I'm kinda dorky and, at 45, I like who I am. Finally!

Sophia: You mention in your profile that you always have an art project going.  What's your current one?

Ella: I DO always have a project going. I feel unanchored without something in the works. Many, many times I have TOO MANY projects going and all will suffer, but I'm happiest with something to return to. I am currently working on my first (and perhaps last ) quilt. I am not one who likes to follow directions or measure things, so quilting and I aren't a good fit. Plus it takes so friggin long...
I am also working on a musical @ my kid's school as the assistant to the director and that's keeping me up at night with geeky enthusiasm.
S: What's a typical day in your life like?  I'm curious to see where you fit crafting/creative time in.

For the first time in a long while, I do not have a day job teaching art. So I get up, take my littlest kid to school and then I'm off the hook till 2:30 when said kid needs to be fetched and rehearsals start an hour later. I try to exercise first thing (I'm running at about a 40% success rate with that), drink lots of coffee, play on the computer till I feel guilty and then I'm usually out the door by 10 to make rounds of the thrift stores (costume hunting), or go grocery shopping or run errands. I drift to the projects when I have down time OR when a project is consuming me that I can't leave it alone. I worked on a mosaic table top this summer that so took over my life, I stopped being a part of the family. When I do something I'm really enthused about, it will take over and I will have little time for anything else. 
On days I stay home, I bake. I like to bake in great big quantities, so it can be an all morning project. One day my husband surprised me by coming home in the middle of the day. There I was, show tunes blasting and a monster pile (think 13 gallon trash bag size) of spicy caramel corn on the kitchen island...he just walked in and said "I KNEW it!"
S: You've had some great life advice for me on my old blog, particularly doozies like "forgive your parents" and "stop caring what other people think."  Both easier said than done.  What's the actual process of doing this soul work?
E: I was a sensitive kid. And being as such, I picked up early on that growing old sucked. So I was terribly fearful of it. However, now that I'm's not so bad. AND being young was much, much worse! I suppose I just got tired of, or grew out of, or plain old lost interest in what other people thought of me. I can't pinpoint some magic day that this happened, but having a bit of arrested development, it was probably some time in the last 5 years. It's a gift---like a glass of cool water when you're parched on a hot day---it takes so much energy to care what others think and when you don't it becomes the most liberating and sweet present you can give yourself.
Your parents still are irritating but as they age, it is hard to still be mad at them. Becoming a parent yourself will certainly bring out the empathy for your folks in can finally understand how horribly hard it is to raise children and remain a rational person. It's almost impossible to be a good start to cut yours some slack.
As they age, you can see them starting to fall apart. And they become very childlike. And it's hard to get mad at a baby. Plus, why on earth would you want some gut-wrenching discussion of former family woes with a 86 year old man? They are never going to say what you want them to say. So you just let it go.  And you can forgive them for being human and not very good parents.
For me there hasn't been any sort of process for this, it's all just observation of how my parents have changed and how I've changed.
S: What are three things you would tell the You from 10 years ago?
E: a. Get over yourself.
    b. Wear sunscreen every friggin' day.
    c. All that stuff you wish you knew how to do but feel you are too old to start learning? (playing the guitar, speaking Spanish, swing dancing), You're still going to wish you knew how to do those things 10 years down the road, and you'll still think you're too old to learn. But you'll wish you'd done it ten years ago, cause you'd kick ass at it by now

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dear New York, I Heard It Was 29 Degrees

Santa Monica:

Eat it. 

(I'm from NY and my annual ritual is to find the farthest temperature/weather difference possible.  It makes me feel a little better about not getting to live in NYC.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rebooting and What's to Come

I received some great advice from Roni Loren, Jody Hedlund, Jami Gold and Terry Lynn Johnson (who reassured me old-fashioned cold-querying without a web presence still works!) and it spurred me to start blogging under my real name.

It feels so good to start fresh!

Although, after blogging for over 3 years (semi)anonymously, I'm now struck with a bit of paralysis, as if I were just pushed onstage without my mustache.

Because I started as a dancer, singer and actor, my blog will cross genres a bit and delve into the other artistic sides we wondrous writers have.

Coming up...

  • an interview with ella, who has some great life advice
  • an import from my old blog about being the first iPod model (back then I was like, what is this white piece of plastic I have to hold?)
  • I finally respond to a reader's request to discuss my experience with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
In the meantime, if you have any questions about me, my writing background, or mustaches, please let me know!  All questions will be answered. :)

2011 Support Your Local Library Challenge

I'll be doing:

--The Mini – Check out and read 30 library books.  (I think I can only get up to 25, but I'll try!)
*Update: Challenge met 11/4

These are the books:
  1. Inside Out (Inside Out #1) by Maria V. Snyder
  2. The Magician's Guild (Black Magician Trilogy #1) by Trudi Canavan
  3. Scott Pilgrim #1 by Bryan Lee O'Malley
  4. Beautiful Stranger by Zoey Dean
  5. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  6. Frostbite by Richelle Mead
  7. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
  8. Delirium by Lauren Oliver 
  9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  10. The Novice by (Black Magician Trilogy #2) by Trudi Canavan
  11. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
  12. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  13. Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
  14. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead 
  15. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon 
  16. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong 
  17. Divergent by Veronica Roth  
  18. Abandon by Meg Cabot  
  19. Broken by Kelley Armstrong
  20. Bumped by Megan McCafferty 
  21. Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
  22. Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  23. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  24. Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
  25. No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong 
  26. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  27. Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong
  28. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  29. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  30. White Cat by Holly Black (audiobook)
Are you participating?  Do you love the library as much as I do?  (Or are as poor as I am?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 YA Reading Challenge

My level:

--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
I actually think I can do 30, but the next level up was 40 and I don't want to flop my challenge again.
*UPDATED* 20 books challenge met in 6 months!

New Level:
--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
*UPDATED* 40 book challenge met 10/21/2011

New Level:
--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

These are the books:
  1. Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
  2. Beautiful Stranger by Zoey Dean 
  3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (audiobook)
  5. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (audiobook)
  6. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (audiobook)
  7. Elliot and the Goblin War by Kristen Nielsen 
  8. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver 
  9. Frostbite by Richelle Mead 
  10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  11. Matched by Ally Condie
  12. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
  13. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
  14. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  15. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  16. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (audiobook)
  17. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
  18. Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson
  19. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  20. Outside In by Maria V. Snyder
  21. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead 
  22. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon 
  23. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong 
  24. My Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz 
  25. Divergent by Veronica Roth 
  26. Abandon by Meg Cabot 
  27. Bumped by Megan McCafferty 
  28. Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones 
  29. Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  30. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  31. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer 
  32. The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante
  33. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
  34. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by  Ransom Riggs
  35. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  36. Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  37. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  38. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (re-read from last year)
  39. Brother/Sister by Sean Olin
  40. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  41. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Stephenie Meyer, Young Kim
  42. Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel #1) by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon, Emma Vieceli
  43. White Cat by Holly Black (audiobook)
  44. Crossed by Ally Condie
Who's with me?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


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