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!
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
Wanna One – Beautiful
G-Dragon – Untitled
Lee Hyori – Seoul
Harry Styles – Kiwi
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).
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 🙁
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.
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.
(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)
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:
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.
That’s it for my 2017 faves! If you have any favorites from this year I’d love to hear about them!
| 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?
Speak up:3 comments
| 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
| TAGS:pitching, querying, Vlog, writing advice
I haven’t really been doing wrap-up posts, but I realized how much I’ve randomly gotten done/decided this year already. So I figured I’d talk about the books I’ve read, the shows I’ve watched, and plans for 2017!
Here we go!
Things I’ve done and future Plans for 2017
My critique group and I started a writing blog called Writer’s Block Party.
It was born because we realized that most of our group chat conversations were us dissecting craft issues and books we loved. And we wanted to share our weirdness with the world. We’re also lucky to have a few industry insiders (agent assistants and publishing assistants) in the group. And of course our amazing CP’s who are debuting this year! (Shout out to Foody and Axie!)
I finished a giant round of revisions for GUMIHO and started drafting a new WiP (that I am currently calling Dragon of Joseon). Here’s an inspiration collage/novel aesthetic for DoJ:
I have decided the main conferences I am going to as well. I am a HUGE lover of conferences because they allow my writer side and fan side to collide in a giant Super Saiyan fusion form!
BookExpo and BookCon which will be in New York from May 31 – June 4. It’s going to be a return to my old stomping grounds of New York and I am so excited to see old friends and new. I’ll be Claribel Ortega‘s shadow for as long as she’ll have me.
American Library Association Annual Conference (ALA) which will be June 22-27 in Chicago. It’s an easy one for me to go to since I live in Chicago. I am also very excited since my Critique Group is coming (we’re going to celebrate our love for each other by going to Hamilton as well!)
Finally, I am going to Seoul! I always knew I was going (It’s my grandmother-할머니-88th birthday, which is a big deal in Korea as 8 is an auspicious number). But, my cousins, Axie and Christine, said they’d come with me! So we are going to have a million adventures! AND I am going to try to vlog it! So subscribe to my YouTube for those updates coming to you in late April/early May! (Here are preview pics from my trip to Seoul last year)
Don’t want to be too proud of myself but I’ve read 18 books in the last two months. This is by far the fastest and most consistently I’ve read books in a long time. I think that once I started writing I spent a lot of my “story” time on my own MS’s. So, I’m really stoked that I got back into my reading rhythm this year! And I’m also lucky that I loved every book I’ve read so far!
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
I read Handmaid’s Tale because I was told it was eerily prophetic for current times and I have to be honest and say I’m a tad worried. It really did feel like some of the ideals that the dystopian society were based on are things that I’ve heard some more extreme parties saying these days. But that might just mean Margaret Atwood was a great observer of humanity. Either way, the book is worth a read, just steel yourself!
Monstress was my present to myself when I finished revisions and it was amazing! It has such creativity and a creepiness that I can never achieve myself so I always appreciate it in other stories. Also, the art is gorgeous.
I finally finished the Winner’s Trilogy with The Winner’s Kiss. Gotta be honest, I wanted more kissing! But I was very satisfied with this trilogy end.
I read the Star-Touched Queen to prepare for A Crown of Wishes coming out this year. And I’m so happy I did. The story was gorgeously written and immersed me in a new world. I really enjoyed the characters (my favorite was Kamala)
Furthermore was a very fun read! I told my CP I wanted to read more MG this year so she suggested Furthermore as our first unofficial MG book club book and I am so grateful she did. The voice in that book was the best! It was so imaginative and fun and I really enjoyed Alice as a main character. I hope that Tahereh Mafi writes a sequel because the worlds were so enjoyable!
Huntress is a prequel type book in the same world as Malinda Lo’s Ash. I haven’t read Ash yet, but after reading Huntress I really want to. It was such a wonderful world built around Chinese mythology and the strong lead characters made me inspired and excited to read more of Lo’s writing.
Outrun the Moon was so well done! I loved the characters and really despaired with them as they struggled in their daily lives even before the earthquake happened. I wanted so much for them to find a connection with each other because I do feel like some of the girls were a bit lost. After the disaster hit there was a lot of chaos and coming together and it’s where the main character, Mercy Wong, really shone. She was an amazing girl to follow through a whole story.
When My Name Was Keoko has a bit of personal meaning to me. My grandmother lived through the Japanese occupation of Korea and she does not like to speak of it much. It was strange to imagine her in Keoko’s shoes. It was a story of two siblings fighting to retain their identity while a ruling government sought to strip them of it. But I loved the theme of resilience and honor that was woven throughout.
I really should have read Shiny Broken Pieces earlier because I adored Tiny Pretty Things. That being said, it might be good that I took a bit of time so my heart could heal from the first book. It’s so well written from different persepctives of girls who are competing to be the best in a ballet academy. And my heart just broke for each of them. Honestly, the breakout character for me was Bette, I did not expect to care for her as much as I did.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was exactly what I expected, a fun story about two teens feeling a bit lost and finding themselves during one night of adventure.
I am convinced that Adam Silvera gains his power from reader tears. More Happy Than Not is exactly what you might expect from the title (so good job naming this book!). It was a very powerful exploration of mental health and identity and I would definitely recommend it (but have tissues ready).
You guys. You Guys! Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will forever mark my heart. It is such a great book. It stays with you looong after you finish it. I cannot recommend this wonderful book enough. It has so much heart and such wonderful relationships. Everyone deserves a friend like Dante.
My cousin got me really into Lisa Kleypas. She writes really fun regency romances and I devoured them in one sitting. I finished her Wallflowers series really quickly. (I read the first book Secrets of a Summer Night in 2016)
Each non-fiction book I read gave me completely different feels. I liked Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? because it gave me a laugh during a time I was feeling pretty down. (Though there were many scenes with the Obamas and that made me very depressingly nostalgic)
But the big stand outs were for sure Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala. Noah’s book about growing up in South Africa as the son of a black woman and a white man was very eye-opening. And there were a lot of parallels for some political issues we’re currently facing today in America. It really resonated with me as a reader and it was told with such charm and humor that I was sped through it. (Also, not going to lie, I have a pretty big crush on Trevor Noah). I Am Malala is an important book about learning, bravery, family, love. I didn’t realize I’d gotten the young readers version, so I’m definitely going to get the other version of the book and read that as well. Even if you don’t read I Am Malala (though everyone should), definitely listen to her UN speech. It was powerful and so well spoken.
Shows I’ve watched (Let’s be honest, these are all K-Dramas)
My fave drama so far is Goblin/Dokkaebi (도깨비). It was just amazing. But it also kind of wrecked me in the end. I had a few hang-ups on some weird creative choices (like the age of the main girl). But I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was actually team Dokkaebi-Reaper. BROMANCE! Just look!
Also you know I love a drama if I make GIFs for it:
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.
I just finished watching Hwarang (화랑), which was a very fun historical drama set in the Silla Kingdom. It has political intrigue in a way that didn’t bore me to bits (that is such an accomplishment because many historical dramas are only interesting to me during the relationship parts). I also loved the romance in this one. I wish there was more time spent on the friendships (bromance!). But I was very satisfied with this show, partly because of all the eye candy!
It actually gave me my newest love, Park Hyung Sik:
Which is why I also watched the 2014 weekend drama What Happens to My Family (가족끼리 왜 이래)
Multi Language Caption Translation Is Available! Learn How to Activate http://ow.ly/sTv8a ————————————————- – Telecasting Time: Sat-Sun 08:00pm | Sun-Mon 04:50am (Seoul, UTC+9) – Ep.1: Like usual, the three Cha children’s day starts out with their father Cha Sunbong cleaning after them. But nobody remembers it’s their father’s birthday.
This drama actually gave me a lot of feelings and I’m not quite over them yet. But I loved the family dynamics and the love lines and the comedy and the drama of it all. I’m just really emotional so I can’t express myself well about this drama yet.
Speak up:2 comments
| TAGS:conferences, kdrama, random thoughts, travel, writing journey
Sometimes, when you’re writing you lose sight of things. And sometimes, it’s easy to forget what you’re writing for. I know that I write for myself, for my story, for my heart. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I write so others can read my stories and find something to love too.
This is when community helps me find my perspective. I love seeing people get excited about stories and books. It’s great to see people that I’ve always respected and cheered for getting book deals and debuting. This year alone, I have multiple friends and CP’s debuting and I am so excited I can barely contain it at times. I think it’s alright to find your happiness where you can. And taking some time away from your own work to be happy for others is not only nice, but I think it’s key to keeping your perspective on the publishing world. If we can’t find like-minded people and form these connections, writing and publishing will feel like a very lonely place. Especially since the writing itself is a solitary activity.
I live for the moments that my CPs share pieces of their work, or an aesthetic collage, or an initial outline of a new idea. These are the times when I can sit back and be in awe of the people I’m lucky enough to call friends. And I can be inspired by the talent around me. I’ve heard a lot of advice that says when you form a critique group you should find people who are more talented than you, and I’m pretty smug about the fact that I’ve accomplished that.
It helps to give us moments of hope when we feel like all we’ve been doing is drafting and revising, drafting and revising. It’s wonderful to see a story that we used to read as CPs go from draft to final MS to sold to book. The thrill of that journey is enough to inspire us to keep going with our own work so one day we can see a book cover made from scratch for the stories we’ve created.
I also think it’s important to still be a fan. Everyone I talk to about their writing journey usually says something along the lines of “I’ve always loved stories and reading.” And I think that’s so key! Being a fan means that we can appreciate the craft and creativity that goes into the field we’ve chosen. We can still be in awe of the beauty and talent that goes into crafting a story. We can have hero authors that (if we’re lucky) we might meet one day (and maybe cry on. NO YOU CRIED ON LAINI TAYLOR).
And, I also believe that writing is not ONLY about the writing. It’s about living a life worth inspiring a story. It’s about reading other stories to get motivation and inspiration. And it’s about knowing what books are out there right now being devoured and loved by the very audiences we’re writing for.
I have this analogy I make about my creativity where I call it a bank. I have a certain amount of words saved up that I’ve collected as I read or watch other stories. And when I write too long without reading I spend all of my words. There are legit moments where I feel so burned out that I cannot form coherent sentences anymore and it feels like I’ve used up all the words in my word bank and I need to fill it again. I hate when these moments happen, but at least I know that I can just go to my TBR and I can be inspired from the very first sentence I read.
I find joy in almost every part of publishing (reading, writing, revising, meeting other writers). Seeing a CP or friend find success helps because it shows us that good stories can find a home and that talent is appreciated. Taking a moment to bask in the glory of your talented friends can warm some of the cold nights spent revising your MS for the umpteenth time. And it also helps to live vicariously through them as their stories find their audiences. I believe these communities are key to creating a sustainability in this industry so we don’t burn out or lose sight of why we’re doing this all in the first place.
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| TAGS:hope, random thoughts
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.
| 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.