So, I am stealing an idea from my writer BFF, Claribel Ortega and posting some of my content a month after it appears in my newsletter. It won’t be everything, just stuff that I think might be interesting to people and probably anything that is a record of my journey in publishing! So here we go!
This post originally appeared in the July 2018 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
Things are pretty hard these days. And it’s a time where I’ve seen a lot of questions being asked in terms of being a writer, especially if our stories are more the fanciful, escapist kind (mine definitely are). Is it okay to talk about your books and to promote them when things in the world seem to be so dire for so many?
The answers that I see are varied. And I will admit that perhaps the conversations I’m privy to are cherry picked because of who I choose to follow on social media. But my take-away is that we should not only keep creating and talking about our stories, but that they are needed now more than ever. I am, of course, speaking from the point of view of a woman of color. So, I am a bit biased in the fact that I think stories by marginalized groups are really important in times when empathy is lacking in the leadership of my country.
After the depressing ruling by the SCOTUS about the travel ban, I tweeted something that isn’t new. In fact, I will readily admit that I’d seen this message tweeted multiple times in response to mutliple bigoted actions of the current administration: Studies prove that reading fiction fosters empathy in readers.
My interpretation of this is that people who read and read widely are more likely to understand their neighbor’s better. Less likely to be afraid because something is “unknown.” More likely to be open-minded to hearing the stories of others and to reach out a helping hand. And when we write for kids and teens, it’s important now more than ever to create stories that can create and foster empathy.
It’s okay if people have found it hard to keep writing in today’s climate. But if you can, and if you want to, then don’t let a sense of guilt keep you from creating your art. Throughout history art has been the best and brightest tool of battling oppression. So many have created new forms of art in order to preserve their culture and humanity when others would seek to strip it from them. And now is no different. We have a right to tell our stories. And, hopefully, these stories can help bring a bit of light into the world.
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Well, it’s the end of the year. Which means…time for wrap up posts! Wheeeee!
So, let’s just jump into my list of favorite books, music, kdramas, movies, etc. of 2017!
Favorite Books by genre:
So, I actually made a video talking about my favorite books. I don’t know if it’s the holiday season or just 2017-syndrome, but I got a little emotional talking about my faves. If you want to watch me almost cry then click below!
I’ve been wanting to post my favorite books of 2017, and today’s Top 5 Wednesday is Top 5 Faves. BUT I’m going to cheat and do my top 9 Favorites.
Rebel Seoul (2017)
I have written a THOUSAND reviews and done a THOUSAND videos about why this is my favorite of the year. So I’ll link you to all of them. But TL;DR: bromance, giant robots, swoony romance, awesome kdrama and manga influences!
Daughter of the Burning City (2017)
Another book that I’ve talked my HEAD off about all year. I love the dark carnival setting. The found family aspect. The strong female lead in Sorina and how she cares so much about her family. I also really like how Foody doesn’t hold back with some of the creepy details. She makes a world that would scare me to live in, but I’d totally want to visit at the same time.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (2017)
Loved this Chinese retelling of the Evil queen from Snow White! Gorgeous world building. Evil AF main character that I can’t tear my eyes away from! I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster by Xifeng. She is not one to let your heart settle before she makes another questionable decision. Also, she might EAT your heart, so be careful!
Saints and Misfits (2017)
A very personal and emotional journey of one muslim girl’s journey to find courage after a traumatizing event. You really get steeped into Janna’s life and heart. She places people into three categories: saints, misfits, and monsters. The problem is that the monster she knows is someone no one in her community would guess and you can imagine that really weighs on her throughout the book.
The Inexplicable Logic of my life (2017)
This book DESTROYED ME. I swear my eyes were leaking the whole time! I loved the concepts of friendship and family and acceptance. It’s hard to know who you are or who you want to be when you’re in high school. It’s even harder when you tack on labels that other people insist on using to look at you through. For our main character that’s stuff like having a mother who died when he was a baby, a biological father he never knew, and a loving adoptive father who is gay. None of these things should matter, but of course they do in Sal’s life. Good thing he has his best friend Sam. But, of course, life is never a straight line journey. And things happen in both Sal and Sam’s life that make them take a hard look at who they are and what family means to them.
Long Way Down (2017)
I am NOT someone who reads books in verse. I’d heard a lot of great things about Long Way Down and I was lucky enough to snag an ARC. So I decided to read it randomly one night while I was on a trip with my family. I was up until 3AM finishing it. It was such a powerful read. Every word had weight. I admire Jason Reynold’s talent so much that he can make one word mean so many things and have such an impact on me. I literally had goosebumps reading this book. Even if you don’t read in verse, you should pick this up.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love (2017)
I love Maruene Goo’s humor! I was SO EXCITED when I heard about a book about a Korean American girl who uses Kdramas to find love. But it was so much more than that. Desi could have BEEN me as a teen. She is a girl who analyzes her world and has found success in school and extracurriculars by being meticulous. So when love never goes her way, she decides studying something where love always work is the key. So she watched Korean dramas and maps out the path to love. Oh Desi, you poor misguided dum dum. But seriously, I can imagine this being something I’d have tried at 17, lol. I mean, she goes a bit far at some points and I can’t imagine I’d have put anyone in danger to find my one true love in high school. But, I can totally understand why Desi wants to figure out why she’s such a klutz at romance. I just want to hold her close and tell her everything will be okay and also smack some sense into her.
Such a fun middle grade adventure! I loved the strength of the main character. She wasn’t like in-your-face Katniss shooting and arrow style. But she was smart and passionate and she was trying to save someone she loved. And I love those motivations especially in middle grades. I also liked that the book had an awesome muslim girl as the protagonist. And that her culture was an ingrained part of who she was. Yes, she was trapped in a mechanical Jumanji-like game, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t still a multi-faceted person.
BTS – Spring Day
BTS (방탄소년단) ‘봄날 (Spring Day)’ Official MV Music video credits: Director : YongSeok Choi (Lumpens) Assistant Directors : WonJu Lee (Lumpens) Director of Photography : HyunWoo Nam(GDW) Gaffer : HyunSuk Song (Real Lighting) Art Director : JinSil Park (MU:E) Producer : Emma SungEun kim (GE Production) BigHit Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Wanna One – Beautiful
워너원, 하나가 되기 전 우리들의 이야기. 데뷔앨범 ‘TO BE ONE’의 프리퀄 리패키지 앨범 『1-1=0 (NOTHING WITHOUT YOU)』 Beautiful 은 혼자였던 과거의 두려움과 간절한 그리움 그리고 미래에 대한 갈망을 담았으며, 워너원의 한층 성숙해진 감성을 담은 곡이다. ‘TO BE ONE’ Prequel Repackage album 『1-1=0 (NOTHING WITHOUT YOU)』 The title track ‘Beautiful’ talks about the fear and longing for the past and the yearning for the future.
G-Dragon – Untitled
Available on iTunes @ smarturl.it/GDRAGON_KWONJIYONG Available on Apple Music @ smarturl.it/KWONJIYONG_GDRAGON #GDRAGON #지드래곤 #GD #지디 #권지용 #KWONJIYONG #Actlll #무제 #無題 #Untitled2014 #OUTNOW #COMEBACK #NEWRELEASE #YG More about BIGBANG @ http://ygbigbang.com/ http://www.facebook.com/bigbang http://www.youtube.com/BIGBANG http://iTunes.com/BIGBANG http://sptfy.com/BIGBANG http://weibo.com/bigbangasia http://twitter.com/ygent_official
Lee Hyori – Seoul
MV] Lee Hyori(이효리) _ Seoul (Feat. Killagramz) *English subtitles are now available. 😀 (Please click on ‘CC’ button or activate ‘Interactive Transcript’ function) [Notice] 1theK YouTube is also an official channel for the MV, and music shows will count the views from this channel too.
Harry Styles – Kiwi
Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album is available now: http://hstyles.co.uk/music iTunes: http://smarturl.it/HS-iTunes Apple Music: http://smarturl.it/HS-AM Spotify: http://smarturl.it/HS-Spotify Limited edition CD: http://smarturl.it/HS-LtdEd-CD White vinyl: http://smarturl.it/HS-WhiteVinyl Photo editions: http://smarturl.it/HarryStylesStore Target: http://smarturl.it/HS-Target Amazon MP3: http://smarturl.it/HS-AmazonMP3 Deezer: http://smarturl.it/HS-Deezer Best of Harry Styles: https://goo.gl/UzwxNi Harry Styles – Harry Styles (Album 2017) https://goo.gl/z1GUVh Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/6UDD4P Director: Us Exec Producer: Morgan Clement Exec Producer (usa): Sheira Rees-Davies Producer: Steve Overs DoP: Ben Fordesman Artist Stylist: Harry Lambert Costume Stylist: Sharon Long Art Director: Dan Betteridge Casting: HammondCox Casting Editor: David Stevens @ The Assembly Rooms Colourist: Simone Grattarola @ Time Based Arts Production Company: Academy +
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
So much heart! Great acting by the two leads. The friends were cute and really helped to boost up the main characters and highlight who they were. I especially loved Bok Joo’s relationship with her two best friends. The older brother fell flat for me, but I also felt like he was just there as a plot vehicle to cause growth in Bok Joo (Not sure how I feel about that, but I really enjoyed Bok Joo’s character arc and it wouldn’t have been what it was without him).
Full episodes of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo available at https://www.viki.com/tv/32634c-weightlifting-fairy-kim-bok-joo Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo 역도요정 김복주 – Trailer | Lee Sung Kyung & Nam Joo Hyuk 2016 Korean Drama 2016 Korean Drama ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Summary What else could there be to life than barbells and heavy weights?
SO EMOTIONAL. LOVE Reaper and Goblin relationship. Wasn’t as into the relationship with Ji Eun Tak. I was very invested in Reaper and Sunny’s relationship. Reaper was probably my favorite character. I wish they utilized Sungjae more , though 🙁
GOBLIN 쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비 | Starring Gong Yoo & Kim Go Eun | December 2 on DramaFever! Be the first to watch! Sign up for episode alerts ➤ http://bit.ly/2eON3WT === Goblin (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비) Starring Gong Yoo and Kim Go Eun Gong Yoo (Coffee Prince), Kim Go Eun (Cheese in the Trap) and Lee Dong Wook (Blade Man, My Girl) star in a supernatural romance that proves love can find its way past anything, including death.
Love Park Hyung Sik. New crush. It could have done way more with the bromances especially between Park Seo Jun and Park Hyung Sik. However, I loved watched Hyung Sik so much, that I was happy and entertained most of the time watching it.
Full episodes of Hwarang available December 19 at https://www.viki.com/tv/29810c-hwarang Hwarang 화랑 – Trailer | Park Seo Joon, Park Hyung Sik, Choi Min Ho, & Kim Taehyung 2016 Korean Drama 2016 Korean Drama ‘Hwarang’ Summary History is often made on the backs of truly passionate, talented young people.
While You Were Sleeping
I LOVE LEE JONG SUK. Also, this drama…kinda…it kinda made me like Suzy as an actress. There! I said it! I’m not taking it back! Listen, she might have been a log of petrified wood before, but she bloomed under the love of Lee Jong Suk. THAT IS HIS MAGIC! This drama also had such great tie ins between all the characters and story lines. It was kind of episodic in that there were different court cases that needed to be solved and different dangers for our three leads. The supernatural elements of the prophetic dreams was handled really masterfully and I like how they delved into the concept of cause and effect of our actions and how they change the flow of destiny/fate.
➡ Watch full episodes of While You Were Sleeping: http://bit.ly/WatchWhileYouWereSleeping About While You Were Sleeping (당신이 잠든 사이에): Why is she starting to have these bad dreams and can they be stopped? Nam Hong Joo (Suzy) is an unemployed journalist who lives with her mother and puts little energy into trying to find gainful employment.
(also, Jung Hae In = new crush)
Before I get into it, I’ll say it. This movie was a complete 180 from the tone of the other Thor movies. I had a hard time believing that Thor was suddenly so hilarious and witty. But that aside, I really enjoyed this film. I loved Taika Waititi‘s What We Do In The Shadows, which is a mockumentary about vampires in New Zealand (if you haven’t watched it then GO WATCH IT NOW, I’ll wait). So, I totally got where the new humor came from. Taika Waititi is hilarious and I loved him as the rock monster. I think that the ladies got to step it up in this film and I was so happy with that. Valkyrie is my new girl crush for sure! And they really did a nice job of taking advantage of the complicated relationship between Loki and Thor that was set up by the other films. I love Loki because of how morally ambiguous he is. And the fact that Thor still wants to believe in his bother is one of the things I actually have always liked about Thor (even when he was a pompous bore).
I wasn’t really that into Spider-man anymore about the bajillionth reboot, but I honestly thought this version was a great reboot of the franchise. It seemed more genuinely teenage to me. The school life Peter had and the way he interacted with his friends seemed really appropriately awkward for who Peter Parker is. And I actually really liked that I didn’t have to rewatch him get bit by a spider and “discover” his powers all over again (this isn’t a spoiler, since this Spider-man appears in Civil War this takes place after that and he obviously had his powers in that film). We just got into the meat of him BEING spider-man, which is probably what helped give the faster pacing of this film
Stranger Things Season 2
Three words: Season Two Steve. (May be spoiler-ish stuff in the below video, but it doesn’t really give anything away about the plot)
Babysitter Steve is the best Steve Harrington. TV Guide’s official YouTube channel brings you behind-the-scenes access to your favorite shows and interviews with your favorite celebs!
This show is so funny and clever and sharp! It also does not shy away from addressing issues like racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. I loved the nod to the growing pains of the publishing industry in the Male Fantasy Author episode.
We should all try to find the confident Gina Linetta inside of all of us:
Check out some the Gina Linetti’s best one-liners from the FOX series, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.
I know this show isn’t new in 2017, but I watched it for the second time this year with a huge group of my critique partners and I cried so hard! I don’t know why the second viewing hit me so hard. I do theorize that it’s because of who I went to see it with and because the political climate in America is trash right now. I maybe long for a time where people fought for ideals and country above selfish greed.
Official music video for Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K’naan featuring Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product Donate $10 to Lin-Manuel’s Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition at: http://bit.ly/2tOfD3A and win a chance to attend the Los Angeles opening of Hamilton Buy/Stream The Hamilton Mixtape Here:
That’s it for my 2017 faves! If you have any favorites from this year I’d love to hear about them!
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| TAGS:kdrama, music, random thoughts, TBR
Hello strangers, remember me? I’m the person that’s supposed to keep this blog updated, even though I haven’t posted in MONTHS. I apologize for my LONG absence, but to be fair you can still find me pretty regularly over at Writer’s Block Party! And I have been much better at keeping up my new(ish) Authortube/Booktube vlog over at YouTube.
STILL, this blog was my first love and I’ve been horrible at keeping it updated. Partly because I did want to try out those other formats of connecting with everyone (vlogging is fun but time consuming, y’all!)
Also, because my writing has…not been going well. So, I thought I might talk about fallow periods and the search for motivation and inspiration when you’re a writer or a creator.
According to Cambridge dictionary “fallow” means: Fallow land is not planted with crops, in order to improve the quality of the soil A fallow period of time is one in which very little happens.
But Mirriam-Webster has a girl’s back because this is the first thing that pops up in their definition:
Way to both support and subtweet me Mirriam-Webster!
ANYWAY! You get the gist. It’s a period of time where a writer is not writing. There should be a sub-definition that says “a period of time where a writer questions all their life choices and regrets everything.”
The idea of a fallow period for writers is not new. However, if you look at the origin of the word it’s a time when fields don’t produce crops, but it’s ALSO a time when the fields are regenerating nutrients to be able to grow crops again! This definitely changed my view on the time periods when I couldn’t write and how I would treat them. This idea was first presented to me when a CP sent me this post.
So, instead of just seeing periods of time where I’m not creating as a negative, I see it as a chance to rejuvinate my creative well and to refresh my mind. I try to read all the books I couldn’t concentrate on when I was actively writing or revising. I use it to watch all the shows I’d been missing out on. And I pursue other creative endeavors because I know that when I’m actively writing I can’t do many other creative things at the same time. So, right now that’s being more active on my Instagram
And on my youtube channel!
Still, the idea of most of the things I’m doing is to work toward being able to write again. So I try to find inspiration and motivation in everything I do. I keep journals and lists of ideas as they come to me. And I try to let myself write if I want to, but I don’t set any deadlines and let it just flow naturally. This way, I find that most of the things I end up writing during my fallow periods is very personal and it helps to bring my stories closer to my heart.
What do you guys do during your fallow periods? How do you refill your creative wells?
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| TAGS:hope, random thoughts, writing advice, writing journey
Eight kids show Matt de la Pena the the real reason We Need Diverse Books. *mic drop* Visit our Indiegogo campaign to support our mission: http://igg.me/at/diversebooks TRANSCRIPT: Matt de la Peña: So, hey guys. I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about books. I’m an author, right.
Since there was more interest in my Diversity Conversation post than I expected (and because I do not consider myself an expert on this topic), I thought it might be helpful to provide a more comprehensive list of outside resources. I’ve compiled links to resources for anyone who would like to further their personal education on diversity and the diversity conversation!
I will be updating this with more links as they come to my attention.
***My request to you if you’ve come here to learn more about the diversity conversation in kidlit (especially if you are not part of one, many, or any of these marginalized communities). Please keep an open mind and be ready to be wrong. It’s important to overcome any internal biases that might have been picked up along your life (whether consciously or subconsciously). One of the reasons systemic racism and harmful stereotypes have permeated our world is because we can’t overcome these internal biases because we don’t see how insidious they can really be.***
Also, if you’re here, it’s probably because you want to learn. The BEST way to do that is to follow all the people who wrote these resources in the first place. And to support the authors who are creating diverse content. Buy their books! (Link to my diverse Goodreads books list: HERE)
how cis/het/straight is presented as the “norm” in our society.
Here are resources to learn from about diversity in kidlit:
Twitter list of Diverse writers
(it is in NO way comprehensive, but feel free to follow any and all of them!)
Okay let’s go more in-depth shall we?
Writing With Color provides Blogs – Recs – Resources
They also provide Writing With Color – Featured Research Guides
Some Marginalized Authors are nice enough to storify conversations and threads:
How about some videos too?
TRANSCRIPT: “We hate each other because we fear each other. And we fear each other because we do not know each other.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. What Authors Are Saying… John Green: Hi. My name’s John Green and we need diverse books.
Uploaded by We Need Diverse Books on 2015-12-03.
Join Susan Dennard, Roshani Chokshi, Thao Le, Mark Oshiro, Axie Oh, Janella Angeles, and me (Lily Meade) for an awesome discussion in the Diversity in Young Adult Literature panel. Diversity in YA Fiction is so important to me. I had such a wonderful time. – â†” open for more!
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In honor of Author Mentor Match, I made ANOTHER vlog. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Kat, can you calm down on these vlogs?” And my answer is “NEVER!” Haha, Just kidding.
Anyway, I wanted to make a video about Mentorship Programs before AMM opens to applications in April. And I tapped into my friends and CPs to give you all some insight!
I discuss what mentorship programs are in the writing world and if they might be right for you. Also, I’ m sorry I talk so fast here, there were so many things I wanted to say!
~Full Quotes Below!~
“I think for me mentorship is also a way of growing and tending to the community. The idea that now that I’m part of the community and I want to be involved in reaching out to others who maybe feel more outside of it and pulling them in with me is a huge part of it. it’s not really just about the writing.” – Katy Rose Pool
“The world of publishing can be overwhelming, and so much information can only be gleaned from being in the community for years and pushing through many of the steps it takes to get published. We’re all helped along the way by someone, receiving key advice or support from fellow authors/publishing professionals. Through mentorship, more experienced authors can pay it forward, helping someone newer to our world navigate it with more ease. Mentees are a part of our community, and I want them to feel more welcome, and initiate them into the fold.” – Alexa Donne
“It feels a bit strange for me to offer to mentor another writer, when I still feel like a clueless newbie myself. Five years into my “writing career,” I have just a smidgen of experience in publishing, and I’m happy to share what advice I can, because this can be a confusing and heart wrenching industry. But I think the writing community, especially the YA online community, is so great about creating opportunities to help each other learn and grow. And it’s important to me to try to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am now.” – Heather Kaczynski
“Mentoring has been one of the most rewarding things that I’m so proud, and feel so lucky, to do as a writer. Many times, authors say they write the books that the younger versions of themselves would loved to have read. On that same note with mentoring, I’ve always hoped for the chance to provide the support and motivation to other aspiring writers that I know would’ve helped the younger writer I once was, still lost and hardcore struggling on my journey to publication. It’s an amazing experience to give back that way, to be able to help someone find their way on the journey, and to editorially guide the mentee and their manuscript you already love into the best shape it can be. Best of all, in mentoring, you gain a great friend in the process—one who you’ll always be there for in whatever highs and lows comes their way, and one who will support you just as much on your own path.” – Janella Angeles
“Nobody makes it in the publishing world without A LOT of support. I’ve always been fortunate to have people willing to share expertise and willing to read projects that were, shall we say…less than great. I love doing anything I can do to pass on my knowledge. Mentoring is particularly great because you get to be like the fun aunt but also the stern parent! You get to pick a project you love and cheerlead it and fangirl when it succeeds. But you also get to lay down some of your hard-earned wisdom and beat up the manuscript you love for its own good. It’s also given me A WHOLE TON of renewed appreciation for how hard it is to write and revise a book!” – Mara Fitzgerald
“We’re Janice Ian and Damien from Mean Girls. Come sit with us and we will explain how all this chaos works.” – Mara Fitzgerald
“it like…sort of feels like being in a writer sorority…except your big does things like highlight entire paragraphs and go “this is technically good but i know you can make it better” – Christine Herman
“Having a mentor prepared me really well for having an agent — it taught me how to implement intense, detailed feedback, how to work under deadline, and how to truly get my book to the next level. but because I didn’t have to impose professional boundaries on my mentor, I also got a great friend out of it — & a CP I can shove my books at until the end of time.” – Christine Herman
“Mentoring is an excellent way to remind yourself that you have no idea how to write a novel.” – Amanda Foody
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| TAGS:pitching, querying, Vlog, writing advice
Jan05, 2017 |
I’ve watched the conversation around diversity change over the past few years when it comes to literature and YA/kidlit in particular. I took interest for obvious reasons, I am a writer of color who wants to write about my own experiences and heritage. However, even as a POC I was not prepared for some of the hard lessons I’ve learned over the past few years. And I came to realize that it’s because I didn’t have the foundation for it yet. I had to build that first before I could enter the harder conversations and really understand what they were about (let alone partake in them! Which, I still don’t do that often because I am still learning).
I’m going to make an analogy for this post with the hopes that I can shed light on my own journey and perhaps help at least one person understand how much time it takes to even begin to understand this ongoing conversation we call “diversity.” So, I’m going to compare the conversation about diversity to school courses.
When I was a senior I took a class that beat the snot out of my brain, Biochemistry. I was so wrung dry after a semester of it that I dreamed about it (or, more accurately, I had nightmares about it). However, I still got a very respectable B+ in that course. I know that the only reason I got that grade was because I’d prepared myself for it. I took a year of intro biology, a year of intro chemistry, a year of organic chemistry, plus labs for all of these classes.
My coworker was talking about her classes the other day and said that she was required to take biochemistry but half of the class hadn’t taken intro biology yet. I was floored at how that’s even possible. How could you understand the very complex subjects of biochemistry without taking the intro class first? It just didn’t seem logical! (unsurprisingly most of those students dropped the class)
The reason I’m telling these strange school anecdotes is to say that I think people should learn the basics before they can join the more advanced classes.
If you look at conversations about diversity in the same way, you should learn the basics in the 101 courses about inequality, systemic/institutional racism, systemic misogyny, internalized sexism, systemic ableism, and how cis/het/straight is presented as the “norm” in our society.
After all of those foundational courses, it’s possible to join the advanced courses which are the ongoing conversations about why X book is problematic or Y movie is appropriative or Z author’s Twitter feed is insensitive to the very audience they write for.
I see people jumping into conversations on social media or at a house party to explain why they don’t understand why such-and-such is a big deal. And I can completely understand why they don’t get it. It’s because they don’t have a foundation built up yet. They don’t know the long and hard history of how we got here as a diverse country/society. It’s because they haven’t learned the basics of why this all matters. The issue is that when you take biochemistry without taking biology 101, the only one that suffers is you. When you try to push your way into conversations about diversity without understanding, you’re hurting other people. This is where my analogy ends and the real talk begins.
We need to stop being so naive to think we already have all the tools to talk about the problems with society just because we live in it. The world is not perfect, we know that much. However, why the world isn’t perfect is up for debate. The thing that isn’t up for debate: other people’s pain. If someone says they’re hurt, that’s it. You believe them.
For me personally, I joined the YA community when I was still learning about my own identity and coming to terms with the idea of writing myself onto the page. I still defaulted to what society told me was the “norm.” I made my MC’s white because I didn’t know if YA audiences would relate to POC MC’s. I also did not know enough about other marginalized communities to speak about their issues. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to communities I’m not a member of, so I still sit back and listen to those kind enough to speak out about it (for free! Seriously, emotional labor is labor and many people do it for free).
On top of that, POC/marginalized can be biased too. Being a racial minority does not stop a person from being ableist or heteronormative, etc. I had to unlearn many off-hand statements I used in every day conversation because I didn’t realize that it was perpetuating an ableist norm. I also had to unlearn some phrases that were cruel to other POC and Native groups. I grew up in the United States, which means I was raised watching TV shows that told me white was normal; and men married women; and boys played with cars and girls played with dolls. My parents NEVER told me that was normal, but society did. And I had to decide for myself if that’s what I would believe or not.
We all have to unpack our biases. And we all need to understand the basic foundation of why these conversations are important. Until then, it’s fine to be quiet and listen. There is no need to be active in the conversation all the time. Sometimes it’s enough to just learn. That’s actually why so many marginalized voices speak out, to help people understand.
I don’t mean to scare anyone away from joining an earnest conversation. But it is on you as the “learner” to understand that your need to learn does not supersede another person’s pain. So asking a marginalized person on Twitter to teach you about their life’s history of marginalization in a 15 minute conversation over 140 characters is probably not the place to start your learning. We are in the age of the amazing internet and google is an awesome thing. And once you’ve created your foundation then you can dip your toe into smaller conversations (perhaps start off in a closed community among friends who are willing to explain the harder things. That’s what I did)
I’d be happy to answer questions if anyone has them and if I don’t have the answers I’ll say that too. After all, I’m still learning as well.
Here are resources to learn from before entering the diversity conversation:
I also have a Twitter list of Diverse writers (it is in NO way comprehensive, but feel free to follow any and all of them!)
For even more links and resources go here: The Diversity Conversation pt2: Resources and Links
Speak up:8 comments
| TAGS:diversity, random thoughts
Dec29, 2016 |
Hello friends, I’ve been thinking about writing a Twitter 101 post for awhile. Not only because I think Twitter is ah-maz-ing, but because I know Twitter can be confusing as all heck! It’s like when you see your grandma posting random questions on your Facebook feed and you realize she thinks Facebook is Google. And you laugh and think “Oh, Grandma.” Well, that’s us when we don’t know how to use Twitter.
So, here we go!
(Please note that a lot of these points are my own opinions and based on how I personally use Twitter, but I offer this as a general guide to be adjusted for your personal use)
Okay, now for real, here we go!
Hashtags are a fun way to reach a broader audience. Many people will search a known hashtag to see what people’s opinions are on it. So be aware of which ones you’re using and why. Big ones for writing/reading are:
#amwriting, #amreading, #amrevising — just what they sound like, any random thought or advice for people who are writing, reading, or revising. Also, just to update on your personal writing/reading/revising status.
#amquerying — I made this one separate because I believe it’s to be used a bit differently. You can definitely share advice and random thoughts about querying with it. But I wouldn’t recommend posting too many tweets about your querying status as it is a very subjective and personal journey in many ways. I do think it’s a great hashtag to give words of encouragement and advice to others who are querying or about to query.
#TBR — To Be Read. I think that says enough.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks and #WNDB — This was started in reply to a need for more diverse books and is a great movement. Go to WeNeedDiverseBooks.org for more about WNDB.
#ownvoices — this is for use about books written about marginalized characters written by authors with those same marginalizations. It’s important to note that it’s not just writing about a character that shares experiences with you (e.g. if your character is at space camp and you went to space camp, that is not ownvoices). It’s specifically to address sensitive experiences with marginalization and how that affects a person and telling those personal stories (e.g. if the character is a black teenager dealing with #BLM and the author is a black woman dealing with #BLM)
#MSWL — Manuscript Wishlist was created by an agent to help writers see what kinds of stories agents and editors would love to see in their submission piles. (Note: It is not for pitching, that should only be done during designated Twitter pitch dates on the proper pitch hashtags, see below)
#MuseMon, #2bittues, #1linewed — Amazing tags where you can share quick blurbs of your writing
And sometimes online pitch conferences use a specific hashtag (NOTE: These are to be used on the scheduled day of the event and not before or after if you are pitching)
#DVPit, #pitmad, #SFFpit, #Adpit, #kidpit, #PBpitch
I even use a hashtag for my sister’s puppy and I’m not sorry! #luckythedog
2. @-ing people and replying to people
If you reply to someone’s tweet, it’ll automatically start your tweet with @personstwittername
If you reply to a tweet that has other people tagged in it, your reply will automatically tag ALL of them. So be aware if you only want to reply to the original poster, you have to delete those extra twitter handles.
If you start your Tweet with an @ handle in order to tag another person, it won’t show up in your main feed. It’ll only be in the tab that says “Tweets & Replies” in your profile. I hear this might change soon, but for now, if you want to @ someone and want it to show up in your main feed, then add a convenient period “.” before the tag. That way Twitter will think it’s a normal Tweet.
Sometimes you’ll see a tweet that sounds like half an idea and that’s because it is! It’s part of what we call a “thread,” tweets that are linked as “replies” to each other that form a fuller thought than can be expressed in 140 characters. People will often number them to show they’re part of a bigger thread:
Sometimes people don’t number them, which does make it harder to follow the full thought, but if you click on any tweet it shows all the replies made to that tweet:
4. Quote Tweeting
It can be used to boost a previous tweet:
It can be used to show support for a thought or post (it makes it easier to provide the link to a thread of tweets so the reader can click on the original tweet and read the whole thread):
Some people quote tweet as a more public way of replying to a thought, or to add their own thoughts on top of the original Tweet.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: When you quote tweet someone to add your personal opinion, think of it like you’re highlighting your reply to them. It shows up more prominently in feeds. It includes your reply and the original tweet to show why you’re reacting the way you are. This is important to be aware of if you’re replying with your opinion on someone else’s opinion, especially if it’s to disagree with them. This is exponentially important to be aware of if you’re commenting on a marginalized person’s comment on something they find personally harmful. If you do this, it is the Twitter equivalent of going “Well, actually…”
Be aware that if you replying as if you’re trying to “correct” someone’s opinion when you are NOT part of the community affected, it comes off as condescending. It is hard to convey tone in text or Twitter. So, if this is a sensitive subject then take a beat and think through whether this opinion needs to be blasted to all of Twitter.
5. Some often used abbreviations and hashtags:
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
FF: Follow Friday
IMHO: In My Honest Opinion
IMO: In My Opinion
TBH: To Be Honest
LRT: Last Retweet (this is to refer to the last thing the person retweeted)
IRL: In Real Life
(some are just abbreviations to save character space, they’re pretty self-explanatory if you just think it through. e.g. b4 = before, bc = because, some1 = someone, ppl = people)
6. Parting Thoughts on Twitter “etiquette”
Twitter is a great equalizer. We can tweet at celebs we love and people we’ve never met before in real life. However, it’s also public. This means your conversations are blasted for all to see and it makes your “opinions” more magnified since it is in front of an audience. Before you tweet something, think to yourself, “Would I say this in front of a panel of people at a book conference?” Or “Would I announce this at a crowded party where I don’t know everyone?”
If the answer is no, then think about why that is. Is it because you’re not sure of your stance on the subject? Is it because you don’t really know a lot about that particular topic you’re just saying your opinion based on your limited experience? Is it because your comment is reactionary instead of thoughtful?
If so, don’t tweet it.
So often, people reply to tweets and threads as if they’re having a personal debate in their friend’s living room, but they’re not. They’re having an internet fight for all to see. And since Twitter gives limited space for more complex thoughts, it can be misconstrued VERY quickly.
If you’re a writer/author/creative and you are using Twitter as a platform to gain readers and network with industry people, then be willing to back up anything you say on Twitter.
There are authors that say political and sensitive things on Twitter and they’re amazing. Why? Because they truly believe in what they’re saying and will defend it even if it’s an in-person conversation, a panel at a conference, or on Twitter. That conviction is important when you’re taking a stand on Twitter. These aren’t opinions they made in a day or a week. They’re opinions that have been carefully thought out (taking into account others who might be affected by them) and are meant to better the conversation and community. I assume most people reading this are in kidlit/YA/MG, so I think it’s important to point out that our intended audiences are kids and teens. That adds a layer of responsibility about what we stand for both in our books and in our public personas.
Speak up:Comments Off on Twitter Basics and How I Use Them
| TAGS:random thoughts, twitter
I want to write an honest post about something that has always worried me and probably will always worry me as I keep writing about my heritage. It’s a special kind of imposter syndrome, the fear that I am appropriating my own culture for my art.
There are so many conversations about #ownvoices and #ownyourown. There are so many people saying meaningful and important things. Sometimes I try to chime in, but I always feel like others say it better, so signal boosting has been my main activity.
The way I see the world is a bit of a hybrid. I’ve spoken to many POC Americans who admit to feeling like they live in-between. Between the world of their parents/ancestors and the world they were born into. We are American but we have a qualifier in front. We are Something(-)American.
But, I chose to write a book about my culture as a Korean girl. And I also chose to write a book ONLY about being Korean (aka, not about being Korean American). So, I had to accept a few things about myself and my book.
1) I am Korean but I was not raised there, so I still see my heritage through a version of an American POV.
2) My parents picked what Korean ideals to raise us with so I lived their version of Korean culture.
3) I learned new things about my roots as an adult, but those aren’t as deeply ingrained in me as what I was raised with.
How I try to keep learning in my writing and in my identity
I am Korean 100% by genetics and blood, but I am a Korean American by upbringing. That means that I need to own what I know and fill in what I don’t with diligent research (just like any other writer).
The book I wrote is my heritage and my culture. But I knew being a Korean girl and being a person of color does not give me carte blanche to write whatever I want. I went to a semester abroad in Korea and visited many times as a child, but that doesn’t mean I instinctively know what I’m talking about when I write a contemporary Korean story. So, I went to Korea (multiple times) and I asked Korean people to clarify things as I wrote it. I asked Korean beta readers to read it. I asked my grandmother questions, my aunts, my cousin, my Korean language teacher. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t just coasting on my bloodline to assume that I was getting it right.
I believe that we need to own our heritage in our writing. I also think we need to know our limitations and be sure that when we present our stories we are always doing due diligence.
I am proud and excited about this book I’ve created. But I am always learning and that excites me. I never want to stop learning. When we stop learning life can get pretty boring. And I refuse to live a boring life.
That’s why I’m a writer.
As a final note, someone recently shared THIS ARTICLE called “The Year in Hyphenates.” It’s a very honest and insightful article about what it’s like to be raised Asian American/Canadian and the in-between identity that is often created. I gotta be honest, I actually teared up reading it because it resonated so deeply with my own struggles as an Asian American. Often times I felt not Korean enough and not American enough at the same time. And I know that these struggles have bled over into my creative identity. I want to say this to any POC/Native/marginalized creators of #ownvoices reading this post. You are NOT responsible for representing your whole community. You can only tell YOUR story fully and honestly. As long as you love your story and feel like you’re representing YOUR experience well in your #ownvoices, then I’m sure you’re doing a wonderful job.
Keep dreaming! Keep creating!
Speak up:1 comment
| TAGS:ownvoices, OwnYourOwn, random thoughts, writing journey
Sep19, 2016 |
I’m not an expert on pitching, but I am one of the few people who kind of loves it.
So, I was hoping this post could be informational but also share my love of pitching.
First, the reasons I love pitching (in conferences):
– It’s face-to-face, so you can get a feel of the agent/editor and their reaction to your story.
– It’s an organic conversation, it gives agents/editors a chance to ask questions that they wouldn’t otherwise. It means you get a chance to really sell your story in a more natural setting.
– It’s a chance for YOU to ask questions of the agent/editor you’re talking to. It’s great because even if they don’t request your MS you can ask them about future projects or about the industry in general. Almost every agent and editor I’ve pitched has been willing to take extra time to talk to me about small questions at the end. It has been a great chance to educate myself.
The reasons I love pitching (on Twitter):
– It’s low commitment. You can just post your pitch and step away (if you want).
– It costs you nothing (except maybe a bit of your sanity that day).
– You’re usually allowed to pitch more than once so you get multiple chances to make an impression on dozens of agents and editors that are taking part.
Some things to keep in mind:
– Pitching doesn’t give a full picture of your story, that’s what your query letter is for, so make sure it’s ready to go.
– Don’t pitch (on Twitter) unless you’ve got a completed MS. There is an expectation that you will send requested materials soon (often within a few weeks).
(NOTE: This is different for conferences. You have more time, but I’d also tell the agent/editor what stage the MS is on when you have the pitch appointment)
Basic elements of a pitch:
– Character – their motivations, their flaw.
– Conflict – the inciting incident. The reason they can’t stay in their comfort zone anymore.
Do NOT try to include everything about your story in your pitch. There’s no way you can tell all elements of your story in a pitch whether it’s a 5 minute convo at a conference or a 140 character Twitter Pitch.
For a conference (in person) pitch, you can just include one great detail for each of the three bullet points above. Then if you have more time expand on the thing that makes your story interesting.
For a Twitter pitch, you can make one 140 character pitch for each individual bullet point.
Also, SPECIFICITY! My main advice when I critique pitches is to ask for specifics. “She’s a monster” is a bit vague. However, specifying the type of monster makes it more unique: “She’s a gumiho, a 9-tailed fox.” If you can give concrete reasons or examples for why your story is unique, then use them. Making your story stand out among the crowd is the key to a successful pitch.
Additional things you can add (if you have them):
– Great comps that give IMMEDIATE idea of your story (These Broken Stars was often pitched as Titanic in Space. That gives an immediate concept of the story. Don’t just use 2 comps and think it’ll give an idea of the story immediately, that’s not always the case so be aware of your story’s strengths)
– High concept hook (this is similar to including good comps). For example, “Cinder is Futuristic retelling of Cinderella with cyborgs and spaceships.” That kind of tweet would make me want to read IMMEDIATELY.
– Something that the story is based on that is cool and unexpected. I said that my story was based on Korean Myth which is (unfortunately) not common in YA right now. So it caught the eye of a few agents and it helped my pitch get interest.
Some things to try for Twitter Pitches (with examples):
Try making a pitch based on Plot Line.
– Say you’re pitching Hunger Games. You’d pitch the plot by saying, “A teen girl is forced into a televised game that makes 24 kids fight to the death for sport. Only 1 can survive.”
Try making a pitch based on Character Arc.
– Again, for Hunger Games. “Katniss will do anything to save her little sister, including taking her place in the deadly Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death.”
Try making a pitch based on World Inspiration.
– Hunger Games pitch with World inspiration. “Panem is all that’s left of North America. The capital keeps the 12 districts in line by demanding 2 teen tributes each year to fight to the death for sport.”
(I also made a video for tips on writing a Twitter Pitch)
I got my agent through a Twitter pitch event. So I thought I’d go over how to write three types of pitches for Twitter pitch events such as #DVPit or #Pitmad (with examples) using the 3 C’s: Concept, Character, Conflict.
And Finally, be positive. Even if the first, second, and tenth agent don’t show much interest then keep trying! You worked hard on your book and you should be proud of that. And if all else fails, you can still slush query.
Speak up:Comments Off on Twitter and Conference Pitching: A Quick Guide
| TAGS:agents, conferences, online contest, pitching, twitter
Jun22, 2016 |
YA Interrobang wrote a wonderful intro article about it HERE. I’ll just blurb part of it to explain the gist of it:
We are going to #OwnYourOwn, with advice, with encouragement, with anecdotes so that you can know just how long we’ve been where you are, and how eagerly we’re waiting for you to take our hands and step forward to where we are. You are not alone on this path. You are not alone in your #ownvoices.
For my post, I wanted to write about how I finally accepted my voice as an #ownvoices in writing. Often times in writing (especially in the beginning) we have a healthy dose of imposter syndrome. This can occur not only with our style of writing but very very much with our voice.
To get to the meat of it, I have to tell you a bit about how I gained, lost, and regained my identity. (warning this gets a bit wordy, so if you just want to skip to the writer part of the journey, skip down a section)
|Baby Kat hamming it up in good ol’ Central Florida|
A little bit of my personal history
I mostly grew up in Orlando. That’s important to my story because it shaped a lot of my self-identity. It’s not a bad thing growing up in Central Florida. The weather is pretty decent, there are beaches, Disney World is close. However, my neighborhood was largely white. The main minority was hispanic/latinx. There were exactly 2.5 Asians in my class: Me, a Chinese boy, and a half-Malaysian girl (who was my best friend). That meant that to all of the non-Asian kids we were all “Chinese” weirdos. This was both upsetting and a fact of life for me.
My parents did what they thought was best for our family when they moved us to Orlando. However, my parents were raised in a time when they were told to just be American. A time of nationalism and when moving to America meant opportunity. Their Koreanness wasn’t something they spoke of a lot even though both had lived in Korea as children. My mother didn’t learn English until she was nine. My father was the first son of the first son and therefore the future head of our whole extended family still living in Seoul. However, that still wasn’t something that was spoken about and dissected a lot in our house, because we were American.
So, I didn’t get a good handle on my Korean heritage in an obvious way. There were subtle things. I thought that Korean words were just another way to say things and didn’t realize it was a different language until I went to school. There, I was bullied out of ever saying anything Korean. Kids also spoke to me in a mocking way where they would replace all of their L’s with R’s. People still talk to me that way now.
I didn’t realize that other kids didn’t eat kimchee and side-dishes (panchan) with all of their meals. I didn’t think that instant Ramen was a “junk food.” I just thought it was normal. I also didn’t think it was Korean. I just thought it was my family’s thing.
It wasn’t until I went to college, spent a semester in Seoul, and began writing that I fully embraced myself and embraced my heritage (but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Back to young-Kat…)
My Writing Journey Begins
This all matters because when I wrote my first full book (at the age of thirteen), I made the main character half Korean, half white. I did this, because I both wanted a character that looked like me and I knew the character *shouldn’t* look completely like me. Not based on the books I had read as a child. And to top it off, her Korean side was not acknowledged and played no part in developing her character. This was very telling. That at thirteen I couldn’t completely accept a full Korean main character, even though I was full Korean myself. I’m a bit sad for thirteen-year-old me because I know better now. (But what they say is true: hindsight is always 20/20).
Fast-forward a dozen years and I’m writing to actually publish. I wrote a space opera and I made the main characters (MC) white. However, this was just when We Need Diverse Books was gaining traction. It was inspiring and it made me really think about how I decided what story I wanted to tell. It made me stop and think, “Why did I make my main character white?” The book was set in outer space. There were aliens with wolf-heads in my book. Why can’t my main characters be Korean? So I made my MC Korean. But I named him Eli. I did this because, even though I was trying to come around to the idea of embracing my identity within my writing, I still believed my culture in its entirety (e.g. Korean names) was not palatable for the current market.
That book didn’t gain me an agent. And I wonder if it’s because of my hesitation while writing that book. I didn’t put all of myself into that book both figuratively and literally. And I wonder if that made a difference.
The book that actually got me where I am now is based on Korean mythology, set in Seoul, with fully Korean characters with fully Korean lives and names. And that’s the book everyone was excited about. That was the book that got me an agent. That’s the book I want to sell to publishers.
Getting to that book was hard for me. What I mean by that is that I have not always been as comfortable with my “Koreanness” as I am today. No one actively tried to take my heritage away from me, but micro-aggressions and feeling like my culture was too “other” almost my whole childhood made me tuck it away so no one could see. I went to college and called myself a “twinkie” to appease the very Korean KA students that looked at me with suspicion when I didn’t speak fluently. And when I started to get into my culture more as an adult, some people who’d known me for 20+ years looked at me with doubt. Why now? Why suddenly have interest in my culture? Didn’t that make me “fake”? To be honest, the two main things that drove me forward was losing someone I loved and writing. I learned that I wanted to write about ME and what made me who I was. A huge part of that (whether I chose to acknowledge it before or not) was that I’m Korean. So, I wrote about it and I came up with the book that I eventually got my agent with.
It makes me deliriously happy that the book that’s my full self is the one that got me here. It’s almost like the universe waited until I could accept all of myself before it allowed me to take this momentous next step in my writing career.
So, any young writers reading this blog post, don’t wait over ten years before you write yourself into your stories. Be proud of who you are and who you could be. Write it onto the page. Create stories that are full of your personal journey and your personal heritage. Trust me when I say that there are so many people that want to hear it and support it and champion it.
And if you want to ask me any questions then feel free (you can write in the comments of this post or use the Contact Me tab on this blog).