A Year Later—Update

Since it’s been a while I figured I should update or do something. Ha.

Living: Probably in some other life I was a rodent. Not the best imagery, but must have been some kind of nocturnal animal. I’ll go with a fox or owl because those sound cooler. I write from 11p-5a, scurrying from my desk to check on defrosting meat and do some light meal-prepping in the twilight hours before I finally go to bed as the sun begins to rise. I wake around 1-2p.

Writing: Draft 4 of ASHA now, guys. Woooooh. (This is a very tired, but optimistic woooh.) I’m working on cutting 70-80k words out from this 200+k word draft. I’ve printed it out and am about halfway through the book so far. Still need to go back onto the computer and enter in all the changes. After this, get some beta readers in, and then, querying. See you in another 10 years.

Training: Started 2xday sessions at the end of May and it’s been a learning process—to train for progress but also longevity, that is, to not get injured. Recovery is essential and so is eating enough. But I do carry some lady self-insecurity issues into the whole mix: (I don’t want to overeat! I’ll gain weight!) So yeah, I’m trying to be rational and reviewing my data points (yeah, I’m that person who logs everything) to make smart training decisions instead of emotional ones.

Silver Hair Don’t Care: I’ve always wanted to color my hair, but there was no Yelp to  high school to find a good salon and it’s not like you can walk around with blue hair on campus. College I was a sad, mopey hermit, so I didn’t do anything then, either. Then I worked in an office, and, well, there were social constructs you followed, though I’m sure maybe I could have pushed it. Honestly, I just didn’t want to deal with the maintenance of colored hair. But now I guess I’m willing? Anyhow, I just got grey-silver hair and it’s pretty exciting. Not sure how long I’ll have this color…I’d like a maybe a rose-pink or a blue-grey next.

Side Project: As it’s been 2 years now since I left my day job, and my book isn’t even ready for an agent yet, I’ve been reviewing new investments for my future: a) Go back into tech, b) Get certified as a personal trainer, c) Go to grad school for either fiction writing or sports-related (like nutrition or kinesiology), d) Look into UCSC’s Farm & Garden apprenticeship since I’d like a farm of my own one day, or e) Explore this new idea unrelated to any of the above. As you might guess, I’m going with choice E right now. Hmm, we’ll see.


Life Update #7

What I’ve Been Up To: Retooling ASHA, or as I will now formally call it GIRL WITH THE BROKEN SKIN. But for simplicity’s sake, I’ll stick to Asha in posts.

The story is solid now in its 2nd iteration, but there are still issues about attitudes toward miscegenation, how the fantastical features of each race “worked”, and things of that nature. 10+ pages of notes later, I have most of the issues resolved, the other small percentage I expect to improvise and resolve in the writing process.

I also drew a new map — here’s an evolution spanning 2 years.

version 1 of ASHA map

version 2 of ASHA map

version 3 of ASHA map

Newest version of ASHA map


What I’m Reading: Digging into Rivka Galchen’s short story collection American Innovations. Reading the other books I’ve started and doing horribly at finishing them.

What I’m Watching: Malcolm in the Middle. How have I not watched this series sooner!?



Life Update #6

What I’m Listening To: The XMen: Days of Future Past OST for writing. A lot of piano music. Chopped and Parks and Rec in the background when I cook or do really any errand in the house.

What I’m Watching: A whole assortment of good and bad films, comedy and drama, fiction and nonfic. The mockumentary vampire film Things We Do in the Shadows. Comedies like The Other Woman, The Break-Up, Get Hard. YA films- Insurgent & Divergent. More dramatic pieces like Hick, My Week with Marilyn, The Theory of Everything and The Riot Club. And of course documentaries: Generation Iron & Dog on the Inside.

What I’m Reading: Finished The Martian by Andy Weir. (Awesome, couldn’t stop reading it. But had a little issue with the 3rd person narrative from Andy’s POV. Only because it felt out of place since up to that point any 3rd person POV was from NASA or on Hermes. But this was a very minor issue.)

Also read The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (reminded me a bit of a nursery rhyme inspired Wizard of Oz. I liked the dark fantasy aspect even if I could suspect what was coming — made me think a little of Gaiman’s Coraline.)

Going through The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo which is helping my battle with patience on ASHA.

Writing: ASHA rewrite is now 160K in (it’s too longggg!!) and I’m getting closer and closer to finishing.

Life Update #5

What I’ve Been Up To: It’s birthday and wedding season! Went to a wedding in Chicago for a beautiful friend who married a Greek guy. Opa! (No, they didn’t say that — though they did dance.) I celebrated my birthday earlier this month and have several other friends celebrating their birthdays as well so it’s just been one long fantastic party. (By party, I mean it’s a civil get-together. Not because I’m “old” now. But because I’ve always been an old person.)

What I’m Listening To: Saying hello to Mozart again. Lots of Audiomachine for writing. House of Cards OST.

What I’m Watching: Jupiter Ascending (okay, though it does make me feel weird things.) X-Men: Days of Future Past (enjoyed!) Big Hero 6 (cried and laughed) Source Code (fun and better than expected) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (required me to read the Wiki plot to understand fully) Mind of the Chef (new season 3!) And TRUE DETECTIVE.

What I’m Reading: Finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. (Loved it. Bought the paperback after reading the ebook which I plan to reread and scribble notes errrrverywhere)

Currently reading: The Martian (Andy Weir), Boy,Snow,Bird (Helen Oyeyemi), The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly),  You Can Farm (Joel Salatin)

Writing: I see the lighttttt at the end of this rewrittte. Still a bit to go. 150K words in and need some more. I’ve kind of passed that excitement and dreaded phase. Now it’s just indifference. But a beautiful kind. The kind that enables you to just be like, “Gotta write today.”

Life Update #4

What I’ve Been Up To: Just finished unpacking and sorting and building new furniture for the new place! These last few weeks have been so flooded with the process of finding a new place, packing, then unpacking, and resettling. It really was a flurry of about 2 weeks and I just refused to sleep or eat until everything was unpacked. Partly because 1) I don’t like clutter, 2) I love projects, 3) I can’t write until everything is settled.

What I’m Listening To: Tim Ferriss podcasts. Poison by Rita Ora. All I Want by Kodaline. Ghosttown by Madonna.

What I’m Watching: Pixar’s Inside Out (which made me cry too many times). Tiny (documentary about tiny houses). Search for General Tso (documentary on where General Tso Chicken comes from). Love Hotel (documentary on Japanese love hotels). Bite Size (doc on childhood obesity). Hungry for Change (doc on food industry). Sexy Baby (doc about prevalence of media influence on sex culture). Rewatching Doctor Who. Watching more romance movies lately.

What I’m Reading: Still on Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon.

Lifting: Hit my PR a week or two back on deadlifts (145lb) and back squat (140lb). Long way to go and legs have always been my weakness. I will hit 200 one day! Focusing more on HIIT and LISS this week to meet my cutting goals.

Writing: Working on ASHA. Grew tired though of flipping through my notebook to double check on timelines and character ages, so I just jotted a bit chart/timeline on my whiteboard and it’s been really refreshing to see it all in a different perspective. I’m getting close…

Life Update #3

What I’ve Been Up To: I quit my nanny job after 3 months. It was nice to get some pocket money for groceries and such, but with my upcoming move and a lot of other schedule changes on both sides, and additional family commitments on mine, I found myself getting stressed for time. Which is a super-privileged thing to even say for someone with no full-time job. Well, other than writing. But I’m not earning any money from it, yet.

So the Writing? 140K in now, and still a bit to go. It’s a behemoth of a manuscript considering the original was only 10K longer. I have found though I’ve been jumping into different scenes and writing out of chronological order just to keep me writing at all costs. Usually I’m a very stubborn start-from-the-beginning type of writer, but now that it’s the last few chapters, I’m just trying to sew everything together and at the same time using the method to stay focused. My writing schedule usually goes from 9/10pm-3/4am. I’m a night owl.

What I’ve Been Watching: Rewatching Parks and Rec. Documentaries like Hidden Kingdoms and Farmlands.

Life Update #2

What I’ve Been Doing this Week:

1. Started on a new nutrition program by Renaissance Periodization to lean out while maintaining as much lean muscle mass as possible.

2. Getting back into the groove of things after returning from Denmark last week.

3. Searching for new apartments. The rental house I’m living in now just sold to new owners so I’ll need to leave by end of July.

What I’m Working On:

1. ASHA! Been outlining my chapters in detail to help the process now that I’m nearing the end. Ahhh! I can’t wait.

2. Looking for a pretty dress for a wedding in Chicago. I love Internet window shopping.

What I’m Listening To: It Just Feels by JiHAE. Her voice is so smoky and low, it’s captivating.

What I’m Behind On: Emails from friends.

What I’m Really Into Right Now: Rewatching all of the TV show Friends. Game of Thrones. Nostalgic thoughts — which happens a lot during summer.

Writing – The Benefits of Discouragement

I don’t have a publishing contract nor do I have an agent, so I’m pretty far off from being a published author. But, oddly enough, I feel more sure of writing than I ever have been. And the reason for this is the number of times I’ve been discouraged. Because each time, when I would have given up on other hobbies (which I have…so many of them), I, for some strange reason, kept clinging to writing.

I was never told outright that I could not write. It was never a matter of permission, either. I don’t think discouragement takes the form we think it does. Only very little of it exists through the direct warnings or candid lines of dialogue and blunt persuasion. Discouragement takes place in subtlety, in apprehension, in avoidance, in the meanings between the lines of advice and suggestions and sympathetic smiles. Discouragement are the rejections you get from submitting your work and those simple words, “Sorry, but we’re going to pass—” Discouragement is when you are told you’re head is in the clouds, or that you watch people too much, or that you should talk more during dinner. Discouragement is the relief your parents get when you begin to stray back onto a conventional path that they can make sense of. Discouragement are the questions people ask if you whether you have considered doing something else. Discouragement is your own fear of complacency.

It’s been about 8 years now since my 1st novel, and early on I really took every discouraging word or critique of my work as a sign of failure. It was a horrible way to look at things, and especially at myself, but the reason for it was because I hadn’t fully formed my own internal foundation — in believing that I could actually keep pushing. I wanted approval so badly, just so someone could validate me as a writer. For a time I fought back by being defensive, then by being indifferent, then by being offensive, and finally, as years passed, as I kept pushing, everything started shifting in perspective. I may never get the approval I want from my parents or the professors I looked up to, I may never publish a book, or achieve any literary greatness by any means, but discouragement started to feel less like a wrecking ball and more like that dull, buzzing you get from a mosquito. Sometimes you get a little crazy and you cry and you hit things, but it doesn’t really make any difference in pursuing your passions.

Fight discouragement. I fight with obstinacy. I am easygoing about everything except my writing. All I want to do, the honest truth, is simply to tell you a good story. And to do that is, oddly, more difficult than most people are willing to believe.

Let’s all keep pushing.

A writer’s life is only ever acceptance or rejection, surfeit or famine, and nothing in between. That’s an emotionally draining way to live. As a result, it isn’t necessary to discourage young writers. Life will do that soon enough. There are yards of writers under the age of thirty, but not many who stay the course. The ones who do aren’t necessarily the most gifted but those who can focus well, discipline themselves, persevere through hard times, and spring back after rejections that would cripple others. – Diane Ackerman

Life Update #1

What I’m Doing this Week: Packing and planning! Next week I’ll be going to Denmark and the Netherlands! I’ve never been to Denmark and I’m so excited to just absorb a new culture and walk around and get lost and freak out and then figure out where I am and eat delicious food.

What I’m Reading: Everything I’ve Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell; Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon.

What I’m Really Into Right Now: Ghost by Ella Henderson. Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Netflix’s series of Chef’s Table.

And last — Adding more weight to my back squat. I’m basically at body weight now and just want to keep pushing! My legs have always been the weakest part of me so I’ve been really working to get them stronger.


Worth Reading: The Magicians Trilogy


It’s been a while since I dove so voraciously into a series. Confession: I don’t read series very often because I have book-commitment issues. But I’m certainly not opposed, especially if it pulls me in. Enter The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. I bought the first book: The Magicians actually over a year ago but never got around to reading it until I was looking up literary fantasy books.

The subgenere “literary fantasy” certainly sounds hoity toity, and it’s really more like saying fantasy-that-non-fantasy-readers-like-reading. It caught my attention because the listed books under this subgenre all contained the books I had so thoroughly enjoyed and yet I had trouble defining the personality of these books. I do love fantasy; I’m just drawn to this subgenre a tad more.

Anyways, back toThe Magicians. It started off with the dissatisfied hero-to-be, but about 50 pages in is when everything started clicking. I hadn’t even finished the first book before I already ordered the second one. And then I was so relieved and happy to find out that the third was coming out later in the year. Now, why do I like the series? It’s witty and adventurous, meta and still surprising at the same time.

It starts with the main character Quentin Coldwater, who at 19, is academically gifted and enjoys competition. He’s on his way to a Princeton interview and everything is going well for him but he’s unhappy and can’t put a finger on why, other than wanting to be somewhere else, to have more purpose. He reflects back to his childhood books about Fillory (a magical land very similar to Narnia) only to learn that he’s been accepted to a wizarding school (like Hogwarts) and that Fillory is not make-believe but a real land.

Whether you’re an avid fantasy reader or even familiar with the coming-of-age stories or hero’s journey, you’ll appreciate the book because it still follows that formula while subtly commenting on it as well. For example, when Quentin goes to Fillory, he’s ecstatic, expecting some animals will gift him with a mission, but it doesn’t happen. And when he finally determines his “journey” there, it’s not as fun or heroic as he thought it would be. Essentially the trilogy is bringing to light that fantasy isn’t escapist necessarily — you bring over the same issues and problems from your real life. But at the same time the books itself is fantasy so it is a bit escapist in that sense.

I guess I liked the trilogy so much because I read fantasy as a child not to escape but to find a world like mine, to find companionship with another world that may not exist. I was never the kind of girl who wishes she lived in a land with dragons and orcs and knights and princesses. I liked reality because I found it fascinating already. So I loved reading fantasy as a way to open a new perspective in my own world.

Go read The Magicians. Enjoy.