Archive for February, 2012

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome fellow Write On member Lydia Kang. She’s the author of that super smart and very helpful blog—The World is My Oyster.

Welcome, Lydia!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

LydiaPortland Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Lydia KangLydia Kang

Thanks for having me, Nutschell! I’m a part-time internal medicine doc by day and a writer. I love writing YA and have started writing MG lately. I play the piano, knit, crochet, love cooking and gardening, drawing. I used to sing in an a capella group in high school and college. Most people don’t know that!

On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

I write everywhere. In coffeeshops across the city where I live; at my kitchen table; on the bed, on the floor…I’m quite mobile.

LydiaWorkspace Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Lydia KangLydia’s workspace

2. Where did you get your desk? How did you go about arranging your work area?

I do have a little mobile desk which helps for when I’m writing on a bed or floor. It’s from Levenger.

3. What are some important things on your desk? Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Lately, it’s been eyedrops! I got LASIK surgery and staring at a screen makes my eyes dry.  That and my notebook full of notes for whatever project I’m working on.

4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

For me, since I’m so mobile, it’s about my own mood. If I’m not in the mood to write, there’s nothing that the most inspiring writing space will do for me. I bring my writing environment with me internally.

When I’m at home, I’ve had this Writeratee (Writing Manatee) with me. A bloggy friend, Alz, made it for me. Isn’t he cute?

writing manatee1 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Lydia Kang

5. What’s your writing beverage? What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Tea, tea, and more tea. Occasionally coffee if I can’t get really good tea.


On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?

I don’t have one favorite author, but many. Laura Ingalls Wilder, all the Brontes, and Jane Austen are some of them.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I have to check all my email; my Facebook; my Twitter; visit a few blog posts, and get some caffeine into me before I can really start. I”m so distractable. I end up repeatedly doing all these things during a writing session.

3. Do you write everyday? How many hours a day do you spend writing? What are some of your worst writing distractions?

Hunger and internet are the worst distractions. I try to write almost every day. It can range from one hour to seven.

4. Why do you write?

I’ve always wanted to write a story that a reader could get completely lost in. That was and will always be my goal.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? How about a favorite writing quote?

Good writing requires vision, revision, the willingness to see your own faults and surpass them, and the internal fire to keep you going.

Here’s one of my all time favorite quotes:

“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

–Virginia Woolf

6. Would you care to share a favorite picture of yourself?

HalmiandLydia1 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Lydia KangLydia’s favorite picture of her Halmoni (grandmother) and herself as a newborn

This is a picture of my Halmoni (Korean for “grandmother”) holding me as a newborn. I think I look like a worm, but this picture is not really about me.  My Halmoni’s facial expression is too much for words. She’s since passed away, but that love will always be there.

Thank you Nutschell, for having me!

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Thanks, Lydia, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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300+ Blog Followers Giveaway

I have reached 317 Google Friends Connect followers and 78 Facebook Networked Blogs followers.

That’s another milestone in my writing journey, and I wish to share my happiness with you all.

To celebrate this achievement, I’m giving away some really cool, super-duper awesome prizes which I know you all would enjoy.

Here are the prizes:

1 SIGNED COPY of Sara Wilson Etienne’s HARBINGER

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne 300+ Blog Followers Giveaway

1 SIGNED COPY of Susan Patron’s LUCKY FOR GOOD

lucky for good article 300+ Blog Followers Giveaway


1 SIGNED COPY of Beth Revis’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Across the Universe pbk cover 300+ Blog Followers Giveaway


AND 1  SIGNED COPY of Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF

lightning thief 300+ Blog Followers Giveaway

So how do you win these fabulous prizes?

There will be 4 winners for this contest.  The first place winner chooses first, the second place winner chooses second, and so on.

This contest is open to residents of North America, South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter the contest.

Winners have 48 hours to respond to a winning notification before another winner is chosen.

The contest ends 12Am on Saturday, March 24, 2012.

To join, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Good luck!

Read More…

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Last Friday, February 17, 2012, fantasy authors Jen Reese and Sara Wilson Etienne had their book signing at Mysterious Galaxy.

authors at mysterious galaxy Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious GalaxyJen Reese & Sara Wilson Etienne at Mysterious Galaxy

They began with a little introduction about themselves and their books.

Jen Reese talked about her book, Above World.

 Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious Galaxy

Above World

I was happy to note that she too is a martial artist. It’s no wonder she’s a big fan of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender series. She says the show was a big influence when she wrote Above World.

Sara Wilson Etienne also talked a little bit about Harbinger, and explained that the setting was largely influenced by her old college campus in Maine, where she studied Marine Biology.

 Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious Galaxy

Harbinger

The two authors went back in forth, comparing main characters, setting, plot, and writing processes. Afterward, Sara and Jen opened the floor to questions.

sara wilson etienne and jen reese 1 Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious GalaxyJen Reese & Sara Wilson Etienne open the floor to questions

The first question was what had influenced their love of  fantasy writing. Sara said it was Madeleine L’Engle’s books, and Jen responded by saying it was her love of Dungeons & Dragons.

Asked what books were on their To Be Read pile, Sara responded that it was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.


 Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious Galaxy

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Jen said she was reading a bunch of Middle Grade books such as Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze.

 Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious Galaxy

The Freedom Maze: a novel

Both authors apparently write to lyric-less music. While writing Above World, Jen listened to the Harry Potter Soundtrack, as well the Soundtrack from Pirates of the Carribean.

jen reese Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious Galaxy

Jen Reese

Sara confessed that she was a big fan of Battlestar Galactica, and actually listens to the soundtrack as she writes her next novel.  More often though, she listens to the Singer Rose soundtrack to set her in the mood for writing.

sara wilson etienne Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious GalaxySara Wilson Etienne

When asked if they had any tips for aspiring authors, Jen and Sara both recommended using the Scrivener writing software.

The Q & A ended to applause, and the authors sat down to prepare for their autograph session.

As Sara signed my book, I asked her if she had practiced her autograph signature before she was thrown into the world of book signings. She said hadn’t really had the time, but now she having to adjust to writing her maiden name Wilson again (after 10 years of using her married name Etienne).  We had a whole conversation on the merits and disadvantages of women taking their husband’s surname when they were married. She said she was happy to take Tony’s last name as she thought it was cooler (more unique) than her own.

with sara wilson etienne Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious GalaxySara and I chatting as she signs my book,photo by Lena Chen

Of course, I bought copies of Jen’s book as well.  It was no surprise that we ended up chatting about Airbender and martials arts.

with jen reese Sara Wilson Etienne & Jen Reese Book Signing@ Mysterious GalaxyMyself with Jen Reese, photo by Lena Chen

I always have fun supporting local authors and SCBWI friends!




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Wednesday Writer’s Workspace

I was doing some research for a blog post featuring famous writers’ desks, when curiosity overcame me and I began to wonder what my writer/blogger friends’ desks or workspaces looked like.

And that’s when the idea for this (awesome) blog series popped up. I wanted to get to know my writer/blogger friends through a guest post featuring their workspace and their own writing processes. I thought it would be a great way for all of us to learn more about each other, as well as share writing wisdom.

I’m trying to get through a list of 409 bloggy friends, so if you haven’t received your email invites yet, fear not. I’ll get to you one of these days. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace  But if you’re eager to do this guest post, please feel free to leave me a message. I’ll be more than happy to accommodate you, as I’m desperately trying to fill up all the Wednesdays of the year.

And just to give you all an idea of how cool it’ll be to get this rare glimpse into each other’s writing lives, I’m going to kick off the Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Series.

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On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

I have a home office I love, and a desk I love even more. Here’s what it looks like:

home office Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Home Office

Sadly, I only get to use this desk at night and on weekends.

I have a 9-6 job, and that’s where I try to sneak in most of my writing. Here’s what my work office desk looks like:

work office desk side Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Work Office Desk

2. Where did you get your desk? How did you go about arranging your work area?

I got my desk on sale at Office Depot. It has a deep filing cabinet where I keep some papers, a drawer where I keep some office supplies and a space for my large CPU.

I try to keep small things within reach such as pens, staplers and so on.

3. What are some important things on your desk? Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My computer was actually a gift from my two best friends Maiko and Lena. I bought the big monitor a couple of years ago and just last Christmas my really Techy best buddy Lena decided I needed an extra monitor so she gave that as a gift. It’s actually made working so much easier.

home office desk 1 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace

The most important thing on my desk is my 1GB portable hard drive (it’s a Western Digital, in case you’re interested). It contains all my pictures, music, important documents and everything related to my writing. I carry it everywhere and bring it with me to work everyday.

hard drive Wednesday Writer’s Workspace My portable hard drive

4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I love everything in my home office. I’m surrounded by beloved books and some fantasy toys & signs which inspire my imagination.  I’ve also got a backlit keyboard that I got on sale—I think it looks pretty cool and reminds me of Tron for some reason.

dragon and books Wednesday Writer’s Workspace


writing in progress sign Wednesday Writer’s Workspace

5. What’s your writing beverage? What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I love drinking tea! I like trying all kinds, but I love black tea and white tea in particular.

One of my most favorite Christmas gifts is the Bird Pick Tea Infuser. I need to have that along with my Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer every time I sit down to work. I use it 5 days a week at work and bring it home with me on the weekends. I add hot water to a teaspoon of tea leaves, and when its dark enough, I just remove the tea infuser’s strainer and drink straight from it.

tea infuser and mug warmer Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Tea Infuser and Mug Warmer

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?

Shakespeare actually inspired me to write. I love how creative and versatile he was, and how his works have lasted through the centuries.

I have so many favorite authors, it’s hard to pick one. DJ Machale’s Pendragon series gave me ideas for my own first book, but I have to say JK Rowling inspired me to write in the Fantasy genre.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

The first thing I do before I sit down to work is brew myself some tea. I check and respond to emails, Facebook & Twitter messages, work on SCBWI and CBW-LA things, and then get down to writing.

3. Do you write everyday? How many hours a day do you spend writing? What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write everyday or at least do something related to my own writing. My Write On group has been very helpful in keeping me on track. I try to sneak in a couple or more hours of writing in my work office (Depending on whether I’ve finished my workload for the day). A home, I try to read writing books before I sleep.

Distractions at work are varied and innumerable. The boss’s demands always come first, and little tasks that need to be done right away often get in the way of writing. I’ve learned to write in the face of distractions.

At home, the distractions are much cuter:

muffin on desk Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Muffin enjoying my desk

muffin and millie in office Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Muffin and Millie in the office

4. Why do you write?

I write because there is no other way for me to be myself but through writing.

Writing makes me happy.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? How about a favorite writing quote?

The road to publication is long and hard, and the people who do get published are the ones who never wane in their passion for writing, and the ones who never quit dreaming and working toward their dreams. I hope to outlast my disappointments and doubts and one day see my name in print.

Some of my favorite quotes:

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. – Anais Nin

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. – Samuel Johnson

Never give up. It only takes one person to say yes. – Lauren Kate, author of the Fallen Series.

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Thanks for dropping by! If you’re interested in being a part of this series, please do let me know. I hope to see your workspace one day. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace

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I’ve Been Tagged – Twice!

New bloggy friends Jacob Adams over at Dream Scape, and D.G. Hudson of Rainforest Writing have TAGGED me.

The RULES are: I answer 11 questions, make up 11 questions of my own and tag 11 other writers.

Since I’ve been tagged twice, I’ve decided to just pick an equal number of questions from DG and Jacob to answer.

Here are my answers to Jacob and DG’s combined questions.

1. What is the one author you can’t refuse?

JK Rowling. I’d buy any book she writes.

2. How long have you blogged?

I’m going to celebrate 2 years this May. Watch out for giveaways!

3. Do you listen to music while writing or prefer silence? (Both Jacob and DG asked this question)

I like to listen to soundtracks or instrumental music while I’m writing.

4. Do you have a pet?

Yup. 2 snuggly lap kitties—Muffin and Millie

5. To you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

Revising that very rough first draft into a decent manuscript

6. What beverage is beside you while you’re writing?

Hot tea. Lots of it.

7. Movie night: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Romance, or Horror?

I could watch anything except for slapstick comedy or horror.  Mostly I like watching Fantasy/Action-Adventure

8. Do you pick male or female protagonists the most when you write?

I prefer male protagonists, though I write both.

9. Favorite season?

Spring. Though summer comes in close second.

10. Where do you write?

Mostly I sneak in writing time when I’m at my 9-6 job. One of the reasons I stick to my workplace, despite the unsatisfying salary, is that I get to write as long as I’m done with my work.

11. Would you live on the moon or Mars if ever given a chance? Why or Why not?

Nope. I love Earth too much. I’d like to visit though.

Here are the bloggy friends I’m Tagging:

1. Sophia Chang at Sophia the Writer

2. Karen Strong at Karen Strong.Com

3. Julie Flanders at What Else is Possible?

4. Veronica Singleton at Thursday’s Child

5. Lynda Young at WIP It: A Writer’s Journey

6. Elise Allen at Elise Allen.com

7. Rosalind Adam at Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

8. Heather Smith Meloche at Heather Smith Meloche

9. Julie Musil at Julie Musil.com

10. Laurisa White Reyes at A Thousand Wrongs

11. Elizabeth Briggs at Liz Writes

Here are my (very random) Questions for the tagged:

  1. What’s your ultimate caffeine source?
  2. If you were stranded on an island, what book would you like to have with you?
  3. Favorite music source? (Radio, Pandora, Spotify, CD, Ipod, etc)
  4. Author you’d like to emulate?
  5. Favorite day of the week?
  6. Favorite TV show?
  7. Movie you’re planning to watch on the big screen?
  8. Actor/Actress you’d most like to meet?
  9. Author you’d love to have lunch with?
  10. Favorite Writing book?
  11. Harry Potter or Twilight?

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First of all, I’d like to give a warm welcome to my new minions friends! I’m so glad you decided to drop by and add yourselves to my awesome friends list.

Thank you, too, to my old friends—for sticking around even if I don’t get to visit you as often as I’d like. You all are so precious, and I’m grateful for your presence.

Holy cow! 309 bloggy friends! I have to celebrate and thank you all properly, and I promise another cool giveaway is in the works.

Eherm. Before I get teary-eyed just thinking about how wonderful you all are, let me proceed with my blog post for today.

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So I was doing a little research for my Setting up Shop (A Writer’s Space) blog series, when I came across several interesting articles on famous writers desks. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

But before I do—

Thanks to these pictures, I just had a crazy idea. I’d like to know what your desk looks like. (No, don’t look behind you, I’m talking to you, the smart one reading my blog icon smile Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?

I’m thinking of doing a series of blog posts featuring one writer/blogger friend a week. I’d like to see what your desk looks like and know a little bit about your creative process. It’ll be a great way for me to get to know you, and for me to introduce to you my blog readers. It’ll also be an awesome way for us all to learn more about the writing process from each other. I’m already so excited to get to know you better.

What do you say? Yes? Great! I knew you’d agree. So wait for my email, okay? (I’m planning to go through my list and hopefully send all 309 of you this fun email invite).

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system, here are the pictures I promised, in no particular order.


jrr tolkien desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?J.R.R. Tolkien’s Desk


charlotte bronte desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Charlotte Bronte’s Desk


virginia woolf desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Virginia Woolf’s Desk


george bernard shaw desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?George Bernard Shaw’s Desk


cs lewis desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?C.S. Lewis’s Desk


mark twain desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Mark Twain’s Desk


leo tolstoy desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Leo Tolstoy’s Desk


jane austen desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Jane Austen’s Desk


charles dickens desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Charles Dicken’s Desk


rudyard kipling desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Rudyard Kipling‘s Desk


roald dahl desk Famous Writers Desks  And What Does Your Desk Look Like?Roald Dahl’s Desk

Don’t these desks just inspire you?

If you want to see more pictures of famous authors/people’s desks, here are some links:

http://bookaccessories.sc7.biz/2010/03/05/writing-desks-of-famous-authors/

http://flavorwire.com/151458/desks-of-the-rich-and-famous-workspaces-of-highly-creative-people

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/writersrooms


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Origins Post

Thanks Alex, DL & Katie for hosting the Origins Blogfest! I’m eager to share my writing story, but I’m more excited to read about how everybody else got started writing.

Origins 2 Origins Post


I’ve enjoyed books since I could read, but I didn’t become an actual book addict, a bibliophile, until I hit the age of 9.

The thing is, I never went anywhere for summer vacation. Come school time, when the teacher asked what we did for summer breaks, my classmates always had something interesting to say. They went on summer vacations with their families, exploring various hotspots in the Philippines.

All I did was stay at home those two months and try not to go crazy with boredom.

Sometimes I’d stay with my grandmother in the province. The word “province” is misleading. It conjures up images of green fields and wide meadows. When we Filipinos talk about the province – we’re actually referring to rural places which television signals rarely reach (unless you were rich and you could afford a big satellite dish, or cable), where you have to walk a mile or more to use the telephone, where computers and internet connections are a mere dream and where the toilet is just a hole in the ground.  In other words, most provinces back home are so far off from technology you feel like you’ve stepped back into the dark ages.

I was fortunate enough that our house in the province had a flushing toilet and tons of books.  We had television in the living room but it was just for display as we couldn’t afford cable.  My grandmother would take her portable radio outside and listen to some soap operas while she worked on the garden.  While there were other kids in the neighborhood, I never socialized with them because they spoke a different dialect and sign language was not something they taught at school.

So I was left to my own devices. I had to find various ways of entertaining myself. When I got tired of catching dragonflies and fishing for tadpoles in our small fishpond, I’d go back into the house and find a book to read. Other children might curse the fates if they were placed in my situation. I really can’t complain. The lack of technological distractions, social contacts and updated toys left my mind wide open to imagination.

Girl reading book Origins PostPhoto credit: http://tkuexclusive.blogspot.com

So although I never really went anywhere, my summers always felt packed with adventure.  My books took me sailing on pirate ships, swimming in the open seas (even if I didn’t know how to swim), flying spaceships, and meeting monsters from another realm.

Eventually my love of books led me to another passion–writing. I discovered that I could create my own worlds, have amazing experiences and even take other people with me on these adventures. I started writing—and poetry was the first genre I loved. I still have my 3rd grade journal, where I wrote tons of poems about my friends, my teachers and my school.

The writing bug bit me hard, and soon even poetry wasn’t enough. I started writing short stories, poems, journal entries, notes, letters—even novels.

I wrote my first novel when I was in the 7th grade. I didn’t have a computer back then, so I used my aunt’s old typewriter. Clean, white, copy paper was something of a luxury for me, so I typed up my story on old term papers or scratch papers.  (My aunt was an English Teacher and she often brought home a lot of scratch papers to recycle).

typewriter03 Origins Post

My novel was an epic love story spanning centuries, with an element of reincarnation and a sprinkling of drama. I had no clue what I was doing back then, no idea of outlines or characterization or research. I had a vague idea of plot and I just wrote whatever came to my mind. I finished the draft in a month, thankfully I didn’t run out of typewriter ribbon in the process. I shared it with a few friends, who of course said it was good. (They were friends after all).

I continued to write all throughout High School, even winning a few writing contests here and there. The medal I’m most proud of earning was one I had won at an environmentally themed writing contest. Many high schools joined the competition, and we representatives had to sit for two hours in a room and come up with an essay according to a theme they had just given at that very day. My English teacher hadn’t told me much, only that creativity was the biggest criteria for judging and that I should keep that in mind. So I did. I let my imagination roam.

I finished my piece in an hour—this including the editing and rewriting phase. My English teacher was a bit nervous because I was the first one who submitted my entry. A few days later, I found out I won first place.

Winning that one contest changed my whole perspective on things. It made me believe I could one day make a career out of writing. And from then on, one of my dreams was to get published and become an author.

I forgot about that dream until 2008, when the itch to write again became unbearable. Since then, I’ve written 8 drafts of a middle grade novel, 2 drafts of a YA novel, joined SCBWI, started my own blog, founded my own writing group, attended several writing conferences and book signings, and devoured tons of writing books and books in my genre.

And I’m still going. I think this pretty much proves how crazy I am about writing, and how serious I am about trying to achieve my dream of getting published.

Writing has always been a friend to me. It has kept me company during hot, solitary summers and has pulled me through awkward adolescent years and even more awkward adult years. Writing has been a crutch, a shield, an inspiration and a blessing. It has kept me from going crazy on days when I feel so alone in the midst of a thousand people.

Writing has given me escape from boredom, freedom from rules, and a life worth living. Even when I abandoned writing for years, it remained a constant friend. It’s time for me to repay the favor and take it as far as I can go.

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I Finished My 2nd Draft, Now What?

Writing is a long journey, and if we wish to never tire and leave the writing path, we must celebrate every milestone and rejoice after each objective we accomplish.

Yesterday, after 3 months, I finally finished the 2nd draft of my YA manuscript.

It feels like such a great accomplishment, and yet I find myself already looking forward to the next step—re-plotting, re-arranging and re-writing.

I have to remind myself to stop and savor the moment. I’m itching to rip the thing apart and make it better, but I know I have to pause—not only for my sake but for the manuscript’s sake as well.

I have to gain some emotional distance from my work and set it aside first. The more time I spend away from it, the more I can come back to it with an editor’s eye.

The problem is, I get restless when I’m not working on my manuscript. So to calm my writerly urges while I’m letting my novel marinate, I plan to work on my story, without actually rewriting it.

How?

1. I’m going to write scene summaries (1-3 sentences) for every scene of my story. I’m not going to rearrange sentences, replace words or figure out how to make it better. All I’m going to do is summarize what happens in the scene. I’ll take note of elements that are already within the scene—like important details in the plot I had chosen to include, the setting, characters, objects, and even the scene’s purpose or function.

2. I’m going to think deeply about my characters. I’ll try and pin down the voice they have, their real goals and motivations, their flaws and strengths, their backstories. I’ll go through the original character arcs I had made for them, and figure out what has changed, or what needs to change in the next draft.

3. Finally, while my manuscript is stewing in its own juices, I’m going to be reading tons of writing books.

I actually started reading Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg & Laura Whitcomb a week before I finished my manuscript, and it’s giving me tons of great tips and ideas for rewrites. (Thanks for the Christmas present, Lissa!)

Of course, I won’t forget to celebrate my latest achievement. I’m going to treat myself (and perhaps a few close friends) to a nice dinner, and maybe watch a new movie or something at home.

I’d like to know what you, fellow writer friends, do after you’ve finished a draft. Do you also set your manuscript aside for awhile? What are some of the things you do while giving your story time to settle?

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Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book Launch

Last Saturday, February 4, 2012, I had the great pleasure of listening to fellow SCBWI-L.A. member and Westside Schmoozer Sara Wilson Etienne, talk about her much-awaited book, Harbinger.

harbinger book signing Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book LaunchHarbinger sign, photo by Lena Chen

Harbinger is about—

Well, see for yourselves:

Children’s Book World on Pico (Los Angeles)was packed with Sara’s friends and supporters. Half the Westside Schmoozers must have been in attendance. In fact, the signing area was so packed, some of the audience had to try and hear Sara from outside the room, as they stood in the main shop area.

A big round of applause echoed throughout the room as the bookstore’s owner proudly introduced Sara, who has been one of her patrons since way before when.

sara being introduced Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book LaunchSara Wilson Etienne being introduced to the adoring crowd, photo by Lena Chen

Sara took the time to enjoy the warm welcome. Smiles lit up the room. We were all beaming, happy to finally see Sara’s book in the “flesh”, knowing she’d worked so hard to get it there. Sara began by thanking the special people who helped her get the book published–her editor Stacey Barney, her agent, Michael Bourret (who was on hand to celebrate with her), and her husband Tony Etienne, who always believed in her. She went on to thank her critique partners, and the SCBWI LA schmoozers who gave them her support.

Sara enjoying the applause Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book LaunchSara Wilson Etienne savoring the applause

Tony was all smiles as Sara recounted her writing journey. Her idea for Habinger started 10 years ago, and she worked on it here and there. When she finally finished her first draft, she had no idea what to do with it–so she gave it to Tony. He read it and said, “Honey, it’s good but I don’t know what to do with it either.”

Sara wilson etienne talking1 Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book Launch

Sara also talked about how Holbrook Academy (which has its own awesome website and school brochures!),  was inspired by the college she went to in Maine. She had originally taken up Marine Biology there, but decided that she liked fiction more than fact.

One of the buildings in her old college felt so creepy that she used it as a basis for her own novel’s setting. Her husband Tony, a graphic designer and artist himself, created the map of Holbrook Academy seen on the first pages of the book.

Sara read the first few pages of her book before opening the floor to questions.

Sara wilson etienne reading from her book Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book Launch

Sara reading from her book

The question and answer portion took awhile as a lot of the audience members wanted to learn a lot of about her journey to publication, and about the book itself.

As a way of involving other people in her book’s creation, Sara actually invited some illustrators she knew or knew of to pick their favorite scenes and characters from the book and create artwork based on that. This was a great way for Sara to help her readers and fans visualize Faye’s world. Sara features interviews with these 25 illustrators on her website daily.

Sara wilson etienne1 Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book Launch

All 25 illustrations will actually be shown at the Hive Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles on March 3rd, 2012.

Sara’s talk ended with more applause, and then we all lined up to get our copies signed.

Sara and I chatted a little while she signed my book.

chatting with Sara wilson etienne as she signs my book Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book Launch


I felt thrilled to be a witness to Sara’s amazing writing journey. I was so happy to finally get a copy of the book she’d worked so hard to finish and get published.

Sara wilson etienne and myself Sara Wilson Etienne’s Harbinger Book LaunchSara Wilson Etienne and myself

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Write on to Build On

I’ve always complained to anyone who would listen (mostly to my cats), that I have to practically force myself to find the time to write.

Between house chores, martial arts classes, family duties, blogging, SCBWI Board duties, CBW-LA Officer duties and various writing events, I have little time and energy to actually sit down and do something I have to do (and love to do)—write.

A solution to this pesky problem arrived in the form of a little group called Write on to Build On.

Founded by teacher and blogger extraordinaire Theresa Milstein, who runs the blog Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts (whew!), Write on to Build On aims to motivate writers to write everyday.

Here’s the group description as posted by Theresa:

This group was founded on 01/10/2012 to motivate us to write. Any day we don’t write, we’ll owe $1 to the charity Build On. We can check our totals every three months to see how we’ve done and make our donation. Besides posting here, we should keep a personal account of the days we don’t write. Writing a rough draft or editing counts, as does working on short stories, vignettes, and flash fiction. Let’s post and make a comment thread of our daily progress at the end of each day.

So far there are 8 of us in the group. Our members include prolific bloggers–

like Lydia Kang, who blogs at The World is My Oyster, and who is co-coordinator for the group;

Ann, of Inkpots and Quills,

Robyn Campbell of Putting Pen to Paper,

Susan Oloier, of Memoirs of a Writer,

Crystal Collier of Compulsive Creator,

And Sharon of Random Thoughts.

Since I joined last week, I’ve pretty much managed to write something everyday (6674 words so far). Like Lydia, I count blog posts as writing, although some of our members don’t. We also count rewrites, editing, or anything really that makes us feel like we’re doing something to improve our writing career.

We do a progress report everyday. We tell each other what we’ve done with our day in terms of writing (and sometimes in terms of the daily toils of life), and we give each other support and encouragement.

So far I owe the group $2, and that’s because I had already made plans to take the last weekend of January off to just relax and take a breather after the crazy holidays.

The great thing about joining the group is that now I feel motivated to write, because I’m held accountable by a group of fellow writers who are trying to achieve the same goals as I am. I like the thought of being able to report that I’ve written 200 new words so far, or that I managed to sneak in some time to edit, or rewrite. If I have nothing to report, it just pushes me to do better the next day

And actually, I don’t feel as bad about not being able to write for the day because I know that $1 which I have to cough up will go to a great charity.

Buildon Write on to Build On

I’m grateful to be a part of this group of wonderful, driven, and determined writers, and I’m looking forward to logging in more writing time (and thereby increasing my skills as a writer).

If you want to know more about the group and how it  started, you can read Theresa’s post here.

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