My Fallow Periods

I’m back!

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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:

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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

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And on my youtube channel!

Still, the idea of most of the things I’m doing is to work toward being able to write again. So I try to find inspiration and motivation in everything I do. I keep journals and lists of ideas as they come to me. And I try to let myself write if I want to, but I don’t set any deadlines and let it just flow naturally. This way, I find that most of the things I end up writing during my fallow periods is very personal and it helps to bring my stories closer to my heart.

What do you guys do during your fallow periods? How do you refill your creative wells?

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Claribel & Kat’s Pitch Wars Wishlist!

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It’s HERE! That time of the year when Pitch Wars is starting up and we are finally able to share our wishlists! Claribel Ortega and I are co-mentoring as #Teamoji this year and we are so stoked! Send us all of your YA fantasies and spec fic so we can devour them! (Nom nom nom)
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First a little about us!

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Claribel Ortega got her start editing student’s often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of SUNY Purchase’s Independent Newspaper. From there, she became a small town reporter, where she enjoyed going to board of education meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks. Today she’s busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic and video games into books. She lives in New York with her motorcycle-riding poet boyfriend & her suspiciously intelligent yorkie, Pancho Villa. She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary. You can find her at claribelortega.com  as @claribel_ortega on Twitter or making promo gifs for authors and anyone else who will pay her at GifGrrl.com.

Kat Cho writes Young Adult Sci-fi and Fantasy. Mostly ownvoices and mostly involving as much angst as possible (don’t @ me). She has been a mentor or judge in other events such as Author Mentor Match and WCNV. And She is a volunteer coordinator for DVPit. She is agented by the amazing and lovely Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency. Her current MS is a contemporary fantasy based on the Korean myth of the gumiho. She believes the writing world is a community and loves to share thoughts and advice as a contributor over at Writer’s Block Party or on her Youtube vlog. You can also find her on Twitter as @KatCho.

 

So we’re writing this to let any potential mentees out there know what we’re into. What stories catch our eyes? What characters make us swoon? Stay tuned to find out!tumblr_mdrkk5Rivo1rfzj10o1_r3_500.gifWe love a wide-range of fantasy including historical, urban and epic! We are lovers of diverse stories that tell tales that aren’t centered around Western/European origins. We are fans of strong ensemble casts and strong ladies. But, instead of just rambling on, let’s just give you a quick bullet list of some stories we’d love to see (this is not at all comprehensive as we both like being surprised by stories we never knew we’d love).

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So, without further ado, here is our Pitch Wars Wishlist:

  • Ownvoices Fantasy (especially set in worlds inspired by non-Western/Non-European cultures)
  • Retellings with a twist (Think The Star Touched Queen’s retelling of Hades & Persephone)
  • If your book is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (think emotion/characters/relationships)
  • Hamilton told from the POV of the Schuyler sisters
  • Books that take place over a short period of time (like a weekend or day) think Breakfast Club
  • If your book reminds me of a Miyazaki Film send it to me yesterday
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Misfits/unlikely groupings, Ragtag group of friends or enemies to friends, on a quest or heist, and Multi-POV
  • Anti-heroes, villains journey (think FOTL, Young Elites, Vicious)
  • Bad-ass girl gangs
  • Serial killers in a fantasy setting! (Claribel loves murder)
  • Street smart characters
  • Strong friendships

Wish List in video format cause we’re extra like that:

Things on our oh-no-no list aka don’t send these to us

  • We don’t really do pure contemporary (usually)
  • Fairies/Elves
  • Dystopian
  • Suicide, cancer, or child abuse
  • Abusive relationships presented as romantic
  • Books about race or oppression from the perspective of the oppressor

For your reference, here are some of our favorite Books:

 

Claribel’s Faves:

  • Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  • The Jackaby Series by William Ritter
  • Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
  • Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
  • The Millennium Series by Stieg Larson
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
  • The Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny
  • Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

 

Kat’s Faves:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter Series) by JK Rowling
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques
  • Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Black Cat by Holly Black
  • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken
  • Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Blood of Eden Trilogy by Julie Kagawa

And for another peek into our tastes, here are some non-book favorites:

Kat’s Faves

  • Musicals: Les Miserables, Hamilton, Rent
  • Anime: Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop
  • Movies: Spaceballs, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pacific Rim, Star Wars (IV, V, VI, VII, Rogue One), Moana
  • Badass TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica
  • Funny TV: Psych, Happy Endings, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99
  • ALL things Miyazaki, Ghibli: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo
  • K-Dramas for dayz: Oh My Ghostess, Gaksital, Heirs, School 2013, Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Goblin

 

Claribel’s Faves

  • Food
  • Video games: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy (especially VII aka the best RPG of all time, FIGHT ME) Just Dance,The Sims, Harvest Moon, Super Paper Mario, Street Fighter, Grand Theft Auto
  • Puppies
  • Murder Podcasts
  • The 80s
  • Movies: Amélie, Beverly Hills Cop, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Pacific Rim, Coming to America, Pretty in Pink, Wonder Woman, The Goonies, Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Watching YouTube makeup tutorials while eating ice cream then passing out
  • TV: How to Get Away with Murder, Brooklyn 99, Empire, Twin Peaks, GLOW

 

As for our future mentee, both of us really believe in revision. We actually have permanent residency in Revision-town. It’s a quaint little place with cute cottages and pools of our tears. Wine fountains and cheese fountains are equally present. And there’s a nice little path you can take to the top of a mountain where you can scream your frustrations into the uncaring sky. Anyway…what we mean to say is we’re not afraid of revisions and neither should our mentee. Revisions are meant to tighten and polish the MS. At the same time, we also don’t think the path to successful querying is perfection. We’re looking for a story that has potential (and we believe that’s what agents are looking for too).

Our future mentee should be ready to work hard. We want someone who is as kind as we are but as ruthless in making the cuts and changes necessary to make their book the best possible. We want someone who will keep an open mind and be willing to discuss big changes if they arise.

We believe your story will always be yours, we’re just here to collaborate with you and provide guidance and internet hugs and GIFs.

Good luck everyone and we can’t wait to read your submissions!

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Go here for the links to all the other mentor wishlists!

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Pitch Wars Prep Care Package

Hello internet-peeps!

I assume you’re here because you’re considering submitting your manuscript to Pitch Wars! And as a mentor this year, I am so excited to read the entries once they roll in. However, there is still almost a month until the submission window opens. So, I figure there’s a lot of stress-prep going on. And I’m hoping to relieve some of that stress with some helpful guides to help you prepare your submission and your brainz for Pitch Wars.

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The first thing I’ll give you is a bit of advice. While Pitch Wars is a great program that provides both mentorship and platform, it is not the end-all, be-all of pitching your work to agents. I did not make it into Pitch Wars the year I applied and I just used that experience to learn and grow as a writer until I got my agent. So all parts of the Pitch Wars experience can be valuable. (Also the fact that you finished and polished a whole book is a huge accomplishment. You’re all awesome!)

So, what do you need for Pitch Wars? A Manuscript, a query, a synopsis (optional), wine (less optional), and a support system!

Manuscript:

Note: you should have a complete and polished MS ready for Pitch Wars. But I’ll provide you some resources I’ve used in my own writing journey for those last minute touches.

Susan Dennard and the Revision Process

The For Writer’s Section in Susan Dennard’s Blog

Before querying & sub: cutting word count, filler words, & line-edits

Can Your Scenes be Seen?

Pitchwars Mentor Blog

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

Query:

Some quick advice from me:

  • Comps are NOT a requirement. They’re there to provide some quick insight into what your story is about, the tone/themes of your story, and/or the audience you seek to reach. If the comps you’re trying to include only confuse these facts, considering not having them.

Writing a Query Letter

Query Letter Success

Query Tracker Success Stories

Writer’s Digest Successful Queries

Query Shark

Synopsis:

How to Write a 1 page Synopsis

6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Wine

Support system:

Adventures in Revising(2): CPs, Beta Readers, or hired editors?

#CPMatch on Twitter

Bonus Advice:

Online Contest Pitching: Querying and Pitching in the Public Arena

The Diversity Conversation pt2: Resources and Links

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)

Basics/Textbook definitions:

systemic/institutional racism

systemic misogyny

internalized sexism,

systemic ableism

how cis/het/straight is presented as the “norm” in our society.

defacto treatment of marginalized

microaggressions that happen daily

Here are resources to learn from about diversity in kidlit:

We Need Diverse Books

Writing in the Margins

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Disability in kidlit

Gay YA

Reading While White

Writing With Color

Minorities in Publishing

Diversity in YA

CBC Diversity

Rich in Color

Malinda Lo’s Guide to LGBT YA

Latinxs in Kidlit

Twitter list of Diverse writers

(it is in NO way comprehensive, but feel free to follow any and all of them!)

Diverse Writers

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:

Violence Against Black Women in Publishing: The Harm Women of Color, Particularly Black Women, Face When Pushing For Diversity (compiled L.L. McKinney)

Justina Ireland on Worldbuilding & Appropriation (by Justina Ireland)

YA: “The Total Experience” Diversity in YA With Beth Revis, C.J. Omolulu, Lydia Kang & Malinda Lo. (compiled by Ava Jae)

How about some videos too?

 

Writer Mentor Programs: What are they & are they for me?

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!

~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

 

January and February Wrap-Up (Plus future writerly plans)

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.

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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:

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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!

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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)

Books Read

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.

Historical Fiction

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.

Contemporary YA

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.

Romance

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)

Non-Fiction

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!

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Also you know I love a drama if I make GIFs for it:

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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:

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Which is why I also watched the 2014 weekend drama What Happens to My Family (가족끼리 왜 이래)

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.

Finding Hope & Inspiration through Community

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.

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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.

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My Critique Group is as cool as f(x). Well, I think so at least…

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.

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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.