Shadow Wall Draft 2 Finished

Hello Friends,

It’s been awhile since I’ve last updated, but the second draft of The Shadow Wall is finally finished, and off to three beta readers. It took me such… a… long… time, but I’m feeling good that it’s finally done. I ended up having to completely rewrite the ending, along with a good section of the middle. And I know there’s more work to be done after I get comments back from the readers, but I’m feeling good about it. The novel is still interesting to me, even after all this time, so I don’t mind going back and making it even better.

I’ve read blogs and talked to other writers about how to work with kids, and after experiencing it, all I can say is: you do the best you can. Buppy was an extremely difficult baby so I was severely sleep-deprived for more than a year, and it’s really hard to work on writing through that brain fog. Fortunately, he’s now a delightful toddler who sleeps fairly well. I can get a good hour to myself most days, which feels downright luxurious now. Thankful also to have an understanding and supportive husband, who makes sure household chores (so much laundry from one little person!) don’t bog me down during that precious time.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep as well. Until next time!

Introducing Buppy!

Hello friends,

It’s been six months since my little one, nicknamed Buppy, entered the world, and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting my life back. It was a rough labor (around 40 hours after my water broke, ending in a c-section after he got stuck facing “sunny-side up”), and a long recovery, followed by a few months in which he decided to test the limits of my endurance by not napping longer than 20 minutes at a time. But he’s napping now (hurray!) and life is much easier.

Still working on The Shadow Wall. I had hoped to have the ending rewritten by the time he arrived, but my brain felt trapped in fog for the few weeks before he was born, and then I was sleep-deprived beyond my wildest dreams (eh ha ha) and couldn’t think clearly enough to make dinner, much less write. I actually fell asleep sitting upright while burping him. Twice.

I’m now finishing up the climax and moving on to the last chapters of the book, then time for an edit and off to the beta readers. Today, for the first time since Buppy was born, I backed up the novel (really shouldn’t have put it off that long, but what can you do) and found that it’s now over 100,000 words. Many will get cut in editing (I tend to overwrite), but I’m still quite pleased with myself. That’s a lot of words! I’d be a little worried at the length if it wasn’t a fantasy novel, but this should be just fine.

And I’ve leave you with some pictures of my little man, who is quite the cute one if I do say so myself. Until next time!

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Published at IGMS

Hello friends,

And my story “Look After Your Brother” is up at InterGalactic Medicine Show, issue 44, along with some very cool artwork! Go check it out! So excited to see my name on the front page of the website.

Still finishing up my novel The Shadow Wall, set in the same world as this story, while my brain turns to mush in the final weeks before baby is due. The ending is coming together much better now, thankfully, but it’s slow going. Looking forward to taking back both my body and brain from the tiny human!

Until next time!

Sale to IGMS!

Hello friends,

Some good news to share with you today! My short story “Look After Your Brother”, which features some of the characters in my second novel, has sold to Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. I’ve been submitting to this magazine regularly for over three years and it’s one of my favorites to read, so I’m super excited. I had to read the email three times before having a dance party in my kitchen. This is also my first sale which will count towards membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

My story should come out in the March or May issue, so I’ll keep you posted when it appears.

Until next time!

2014 Year-End

Hello Friends,

It has been awhile since I’ve last updated. Our trip to South Korea was a success (I’d say one of the best trips I’ve ever taken in terms of general pleasantness and ease of travel), and gave me some great background material. Over the past few months, I’ve written the first draft of my North-Korean inspired novel, tentatively titled The Shadow Wall. It comes in at around 87,000 words; but after writing up a synopsis for the Codex Novel Contest, I realized that it doesn’t end quite right, so I’ll be deleting and rewriting the back half in the upcoming months.

The agent search has stalled a bit. I got a lot of rejections on my first novel so I probably need to rework my query letter, but I’m way more excited now about my second novel, so I might wait to resume querying until that one is done instead.

Since I’ve been so wrapped up in novels this year, I’ve been neglecting my short story work. I only completed six new stories, all in the first half of the year, and only three I deemed worthy of shopping around to editors. I made 34 submissions, almost all to pro-paying markets, but didn’t make any sales.

I did manage to write over 106,000 words this year, which is quite an accomplishment considering I’m now pregnant with our first son (due in April). I spent the majority of September/October nauseous and unable to do things like go to the grocery store or feed myself–much less write–but now that I’m nearing the end of the second trimester, I feel like a mostly normal (if a little large and tired) version of myself, and am back to work.

For 2015, my main goal is going to be to finish the second draft of The Shadow Wall before the baby comes. Then, my goal will be to survive and write/submit as much as possible. Not going to stress myself out about numbers when I have a new tiny human to take care of!

Here’s to the start of the New Year and all that it will bring!

The Agent Search

Hello friends,

I’ve now delved into an area that is both scary and exciting: the search for an agent to represent my novel(s). I spent many hours reading blogs about the querying process, most notably the Query Shark, and have reworked and refined my query and synopsis. Now to send my little book out into the wide open sea and hope that it gets picked up somewhere, sometime.

I’ve begun using the website QueryTracker to keep track of who and when I’ve contacted agents. It works a bit like the website I use for my short story submissions, The Submissions Grinder, though hopefully I won’t become as addicted to checking response times as I do at the Grinder. So many agents to contact, it’s a little overwhelming.

In other news, the husband and I have booked our trip to South Korea at the end of April. I’m super-excited. We’ll be there for two weeks: a week traveling around the country on an organized tour, a few days in the “Honeymoon Island” of Jeju, and a few days in Seoul. I’ve continued my research on North Korea (I’m currently reading Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick) and will make sure to keep my eyes wide open for anything else I can use in my next novel, especially when we go to the DMZ. I’ve written two stories based in a North Korea-inspired fantasy world, which have gotten good reader reactions, but I can always use more details for the novel. My husband keeps telling me, “You know my family is from South Korea, right?” hehe. We’re also watching some Korean dramas (just finished “My Love From Another Star” in which a very Korean alien falls in love with a Korean movie star, which sounds awful but is actually great) and I’m watching YouTube videos to hopefully pick up some more Korean language before we depart.

And last but not least, we moved into our new house in Columbia, and are loving the peace and quiet so far. Blinds are finally coming for the windows today, after several attempts at ordering them, so I can take down the paper fan-like temporary blinds and cardboard boxes that have adorned our windows for the past few weeks (we’re the classy neighbors).

I’m off to resume the agent querying process now, wish me luck!

2013 Year End

Hello friends,

Hope the New Year is starting off well for you. I’ve avoided posting my year-end stats for a bit because I didn’t make any of my goals, but this blog does help keep me accountable, so here goes:

-My word count goal was to write over 200,000 words. According to my records, I wrote 104,314. More than last year, but still far below my goal. Ouch. Part of this was probably because of the extensive revisions to my novel, which I don’t figure into word count. In 2014, I’m going to try for 150,000, which should include writing at least one new novel and several short stories.

-My submissions goal was 60 submissions. According to my records, I made 44. Better than last year, but still quite below target. Of these, three were accepted: Every Day Fiction, Kazka Press, and the BSFS Amateur Writing Contest. I got a lot of rejections.

-Although I didn’t meet my goal of halting the time-sucking powers of the internet, I think that this is where I was most successful, mainly because of North Korea. Yes, my next book will have a (fantasy) government loosely based on North Korea, which I find extremely fascinating and have devoted many hours of research time. My husband and I are thinking about a trip to South Korea in April, and I’m really excited to visit the DMZ (he managed to talk me out of visiting Pyongyang, probably a good thing).

In other news, we have (after seven months of active looking) found a house! We’ll be moving to Columbia, Maryland, at the end of February, so long as everything goes okay at closing. So glad to finally have a home we can call our own and get settled down. In many ways, this past year and a half feels like we’ve been caught in a holding pattern: we never put up all our pictures on the walls, never unpacked all of our boxes, and never made a real attempt to find new friends, since we knew we could move at any point. And we managed to stay within budget, which is quite a relief after looking at too many super expensive, super old houses around Bethesda. Whew.

Until next time!

Novel finished (mostly)

Hello friends,

It has been a long time, hope you are well! I’ll post again next week with my 2013 year-in-review, but for now I thought I should give an update on the novel progress: it’s finished. Mostly. And it has a name: “The Color Plagues”.

My readers, especially the talented Kristin Hooper, did a really excellent job of identifying problems that seem obvious in retrospect. I owe them many thanks, and the novel is much stronger for their input.

A few things that I learned during the process of writing my first novel:

1.) I need to plan better in advance. I am not a seat-of-the-pants writer. Despite the fact that I wrote a full second draft of this novel, there were still many problems that could’ve been solved by thinking about it more beforehand. For my next novel, I’m planning on trying out the Snowflake Method to keep me more organized. Will report back on how that goes.

2.) If I’m bored while writing a chapter, the reader will also be bored. Yes, it seems obvious, but I honestly didn’t realize it until I started getting reader reactions. From now on, I’m going to make a conscious effort to recognize when I’m bored with what I’m writing, and throw away anything I’m not excited about. No phoning it in!

3.) Writing a novel takes a lot more effort than I had thought. I finished the first draft in under two months, but it took me a lot longer to finish the second draft. Now I know I can write words really fast if I try, but they may not be good words. For this reason, I don’t see NaNoWriMo in my future.

While I have a completed second draft I’m fairly happy about, my writing group (which meets about once a month) is still going through it, so I’ll be making small changes for awhile. I did get the novel into the Strange Chemistry open submissions period (crossing my fingers), but I’ll have to learn how to write a query letter before I can send it to agents and some other publishers. Not looking forward to the query frenzy, I’d rather spend my time writing.

To report back on the yoga studio I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been practicing regularly for a couple months now, and I absolutely love it: Yoga Fusion, if you’re ever in Bethesda. I feel better, I’m sleeping better, and my head is clearer for writing.

That’s all for now, I’ll post again soon with the 2013 year-in-review. Until then!

BSFS Contest Win and Novel Progress

Hello friends,

Two pieces of good news here, both within a week of each other. First, I found out that I won the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing Contest (for writers in Maryland who haven’t yet made a “professional” sale of $0.05/word or higher). I’ll be receiving the award at the Small Press Awards at Capclave in Gaithersburg this weekend, so if you see me, say hi! My story “Creatures of the Holy Well” will be printed in the Balticon program book in May 2014, and I may be giving a reading or be on a panel there as well. Eep! So excited and nervous all at once!

The second piece of good news is that I finished the second draft of my novel and currently have it out to four readers. I’m aiming to have the first few chapters polished for the Strange Chemistry (YA publisher) open submissions period by the end of this month, although I have to learn to write a synopsis first. Compressing a 60,000-word book down into two pages is proving to be harder than it looks. Luckily I’ve already been getting some great feedback from my readers, so hopefully the revisions won’t be extensive and I can spend a lot of time on the synopsis.

Although I love summer after spending three years without it in foggy San Francisco, I’m super excited by the cooler weather floating into Maryland because it means that it’s time to get back to yoga. I love yoga because it works out the kinks in my back from spending time in front of the computer every day, but the Maryland summer was simply too hot and too pretty to be spending extra time indoors. Last year, I took up Bikram yoga (the sweaty hotness felt so good when it was cold outside), but this year I’ll be trying out a new hot vinyasa studio. Can’t wait!

Hope your fall is off to a good start!

Mid-year update

Hello friends,

Can’t believe it’s July already, where has the time gone? I’m plowing through revisions on my novel at a somewhat glacial pace (I guess less like plowing than an ice-breaking ship). At this point, it could rightfully be called a second draft, as I’m retaining very little of the original text. But now it has glowworms and magic caves and wooly beasts! I’m still aiming to have it out to first readers by the end of July–hoping there will just be revisions afterwards and not a third draft. Crossing my fingers.

Something else that’s been taking up my time is house-hunting, which is not something I had ever really thought about in detail before (especially things like closing costs, renovations, ick etc.). Does buying a house mean I’m an adult? I have decidedly mixed feelings, but luckily husband loves this process (I tell him he’s a budding real-estate mogul), so he’s doing the lion’s share of the work. I’m trying to hunker down and work on the novel, but sometimes it’s hard to focus when I think of leaving our cozy two-bedroom apartment in Bethesda and moving into a house for the first time.

Back to business: time to look at my stats for the past six months and see how I’m doing on my goals for this year. One of my goals was to make 60 submissions. So far this year, I’ve made 28. Not bad, and already creeping up on last year’s total of 37. I’ve sold two stories (to Every Day Fiction and Kazka Press) and have eight submissions still pending.

Another goal was to write 200,000 words. So far, I’ve written 52,148. Long way to go there to meet my goal in the second half of the year, I suppose because I’ve done a lot of editing as well (both on my novel and to finish up my freelance work for Night Shade Books). Hope I can get a second book down on paper by the end of the year, to boost up the word count!

My last goal, to read more literature rather than browsing the internet, has been mildly successful. I’ve finished more books this year and am trying to be more conscious of time wasted. But CNN still sucks me in, as well as browsing Facebook and other social media, especially when I’m stuck on a story. Ah, well, I’ll continue to work on it.

July so far has been very wet and dreary here in Bethesda. Wishing you sunshine and many fireworks for the start of the summer!