Hey guys! It’s March!

*peers outside at snow*

*shrinks back in*

I’ve finallyfinallyfinallyFINALLY finished revisions/edits on TeaNovel/Lilies. After about a year and a half of working like mad over it (getting torn apart and put back together and then getting torn apart again and then…) It feels great. Now that I’ve taken a step away from it, it turns out that its not actually as bad as I thought it was in the midst of revisions. Things may be looking up…

I think that now that TeaNovel revisions are over, I’m going to go back to the novel I wrote in NaNoWriMo ’13–the book of Magical Things. I’ve actually crafted a playlist, little by little, of the novel and every time I hear Bravado by Lorde or Illumielle by Jo Blackenburg, I’m instantly transported back into those awesome days of November. (Awesome, crazy, hectic, insane, but mostly awesome.) And I know there will be some more head-splitting revisions involved…but man. I’m excited.

In the Life of Christina, I’ve been so busy these past few weeks and scrambling around, and I have a strong sense that things will start to get even crazier/busier in the coming months. I feel like in the midst of all this running around, this blog is like a nice little cupcake shop I can tuck into when I have that little pocket of time. Nom.

Now that I’ve started to take one step away from the project that basically defined my last year, I realize that I’m so glad 2013 happened. In retrospect, it was a little hazy and some parts of the year were awful and I was basically stumbling around, completely clueless about writing and revisions and blogging and the “industry”, but to see what I was like in 2012 and to see what I’m like now…2013 was really a year that bridged that gap and taught me so much stuff about writing and about the process, and where before I was the perfectly oblivious, slightly reclusive writer, now I’m opening up, and I’ve met so many cool people!

Here’s to an even more awesome future.

😀

Sometimes I encounter some sounds so pleasing to my ears and so meaningful that I feel like I should share it to spread the goodness of it.

Especially the lyrics:

“We will have to cross the ocean
This is the price we’ll have to pay
Standing just these know it’s good for you and me. 
There is gold beneath the ashes
No matter what I have to say
There is a roaring sea there passing hard to find
And I dream of Zarathustra
Sailing through the Caspian Sea
Oh, the way the shining heart is
The fire of the Northern light.

We can build the temples for our fires, 
Set the world ablaze.
Whatever, after all this the way we chose
The beginning and the end 
Send me back to the Rockefeller joys…”

(adapted and revised from http://www.sing365.com)

There’s so much about this song that speaks of the journey–of the sacrifices and goals of reaching something that is “the beginning and the end”. 

And also the music is amazing. I love it. 

Happy Monday, everyone! 🙂

I realized I have written two quite philosophical posts in a row and so today I will blog about food and writing updates and chronicles from the revision tunnel.

Brief update/Not so frequently asked FAQ/conversation with self:
Q: Hi!
A: Hey. 🙂 You look fabulous today. 
Q: What’s up?
A: You’re asking what is up? Snow. Lots of snow. Snowsnowsnowsnow. Some days have gotten so cold, really. It’s 30 degrees out and almost feels like summer. 
Q: Any good books lately?
A: I recently read The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I loved it and there was a page in the book full of MATH PICKUP LINES and it was the sweetest. Definitely a recommendation. 
ALSO; I read an ARC of Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard and SO MANY FEELS. 
OH OH OH Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is officially  2015 Abe Lincoln award nominee! 
Q; Books you’re excited for?
A: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor. April is so far awaaaayyyyyy. 😦
Q: How is revisionland?
A: Hm. It’s going okay. By okay, I mean with some moaning and writing and drinking way too much tea and thinking way too much about imaginary people. Being in revisions is like being stuck on that Lethargic Island or something like that in The Phantom Tollbooth; time passes so slowly and everything takes FOREVARRR. 
On the bright side, I now have a taste in music. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Q: Any music recommendations?
A: Definitely. Anything by Bastille. Anything. 
That’s it! I’m quite close, actually, to finishing this round of revisions. Which is awesome. 

You know, on any other normal New Year’s Eve I would go to sleep, or stay up to see the ball drop, or whatever. I wouldn’t feel too keen on blogging as the last hours of 2013 slide by.

But this year…is different. Important.
First of all, I’ve been blogging on this thing for a year. A year. I thought, last year when I first started up the blog, that I was doing it because…everyone else had been doing it, I guess, because it was a Publishing Key Marketing Move and I wanted something to remember my writing process by, something to look back on in the future maybe when I was successful or something. 
Right now? I’ve been blogging for a year. And I don’t have much readers, but I love blogging. I love typing my thoughts out and ranting when the times get hard and gushing when I read a lovely book. It’s like shouting into a nearly empty canyon. It’s quite liberating, actually. 
Also…I grew. I learned. A lot. A. LOT.
I remember last year, when I was tucked into my little corner, worrying my heart and brain out over TeaNovel. I had just discovered the platform of YA authors. My dreams were naive and big; I was slowly, slowly finding myself through the writing world.
In 2013, I made writing a Serious Job. I’m still a student, and during the day, I still go to school and geek out with friends. But this year, I set goals for myself. I let myself peek at a chance of publication for TeaNovel. I discovered what it meant to rewrite and rewrite a novel. I discovered what a query was and what it meant to get a literary agent. (Which I really, really hope can happen to me someday!) 
In 2013, I set a foot in the publishing business. The day after my 8th grade graduation, I flew to New York, where I attended BEA in New York City. I had never been in a more inspiring convention center, surrounded by authors with their stacks of ARCs and watching, awe-struck, as the role models I admired from afar were literally standing ten feet away. I remember the first picture I took at BEA was a random snapshot of Sarah J. Maas standing next to Susan Dennard’s autographing station and I was sort of having an internal mini-breakdown. The fangirl kind, of course. It was like seeing your favorite movie stars on the red carpet, except the carpet was blue and they weren’t swirled up in some fancy Dior gown, but cardigans and dresses and All Things Authorly. 
I also attended my first three author events; Rae Carson & CJ Redwine, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu. Rae and CJ were lovely ladies; when I approached them after the event, they both gave me great writing encouragement. Sarah…well, I did a whole post on her back in September and she is just so amazing and inspiring and kickass and so so KIND. As for Marie–I remember going up to her in the signing line and just spilling–literally ranting–everything I’ve wanted to tell her in the past 2 years. Because Legend was the book that changed my life, and I am so, so grateful that it did. 
2013 was the year many stunning sequels came out (Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard were my two favorites), and the year that stunning trilogies came to an end. (And YES, I absolutely loved the ending to Allegiant.)
In November 2013, I wrote an 80K novel from scratch, in 30 days, and by near-pantsing, I crafted a story that I am very, very excited to work on in the new year. 
I know this sounds so silly, but 2013 has, in so many ways, bridged that enormous gap between 2012 and 2014. Sure, there was a lor of angst and frustration, and there were many times I thought I was never going to get anywhere in my writing, but when I look back, I see everything. It’s been such a developmental year and I am sure I am a different person today than I was back in 2012.
I’m so glad this year happened.
And I can’t wait for 2014. Now my eye is on Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (and Sarah J. Maas’s untitled Book 3 of the Throne of Glass series!). 
As for the New Year…
In 2014, I have only two resolutions;
1. To Grow.
2. To Do Epic Shit. 
It sounds so vague, but in my heart, I know what those resolutions mean to me, very, very clearly. 
Okay. Fine. A specific resolution. 
I want to start querying agents. (Which really branches under the To Grow category, but I think announcing things give it some validity.)
Also;
I want to read more books. See more. Experience things that surprise me. 
In 2014, I want to grow, to love, and to do epic shit. 

This winter break will be completely hectic.

Not only do I have finals to study for (my school’s finals are in the second week of January! Euhh!) I also have about fifty projects to start and complete. Oh, right, I almost forgot. I also have a novel to edit.

Grrrrrrrr.

This week has been so busy. Because of the aforementioned sadism above, the week before winter break is cleared for teachers to squeeze in tests and throw in a project or two.

So the plan is this, friends; this Winter Break, I’m going to be disbanding from my good friend the Internet and go hermit in my library and edit and eat chocolate and possibly cry.

I have so, so much to do.

But I will do it.

But here is a song for you, though. I swear to God, if I get through the next two weeks alive…

Beyonce will make it happen.

This is going to be quite an honest post.

Right now I’m sitting in sweats, listening to Skinny Love, sung by Birdy. Cheap earbud inserted into my ear. Procrastinating on my English and World Civ. homework.

But it’s rather funny, isn’t it? These times when you’re in the most normal of situations, but this feeling rises in you that you can’t quite explain, like everything inside you is radically shifting, changing, when all you are doing is tapping away at a keyboard, pouring your thoughts into a blog post.

This past weekend, on Friday the 13th specifically, a lot of seniors from my school got accepted to the college of their dreams.

I’m a freshman in high school right now. And I’m not going to lie; there’s a lot of college talk. Not just from my parents–it’s been discussed lightly in halls, words passed off as casual banter.

I’ve been wondering about this a lot and I feel like today, I’m going to finally open up about my thoughts.

College has always been the gold standard of education. I totally do want to go to college, get a good education, and move into what is supposed to be the beginning of an accomplished adult life. College is a privilege, not a right, and I respect that.

But I’m wondering–and please don’t blame me for this–can college make you blindsided?

My parents, my friends, some teachers put the goalpost of COLLEGE firmly planted in my sight. I should be getting serious about college. Do things to get into college. Get good grades. On and on. It has never been explicitly told to me, but the presence of college pops up freshman year, and then throughout the years, it intensifies.  

I have aspirations to publish a novel. Nowhere is “publish a novel” in the proverbial checklist to get into college. Writing is indeed very personal to me, and publishing is a hard world to break into, and even harder to become successful in.

Is it wild of me to have aspirations that are beyond getting into college? To dream of something that most adults would frown off? I have looked up so many author blogs, done research on agents. I have read about the entire publishing process. I have goals set for me and my novels. I know that if I fail one time, I try another. I may not be good at writing, but I know this; I do truly aspire.

Should the fact that I’m a high school student and that I should be focusing on schoolwork and extracurricular activities deter my writing? I have been told that I can always do my writing “later” but I don’t want to start writing seriously “later” because why not start now? I’m fourteen–by the time I am twenty-four, I will surely write better than I do now.

And I’ve always had this little anarchist side to me, this urge to express my thoughts and honesty. The point I’m making is; I want to get into college, and I will definitely try hard to get into college, but I really, really don’t want predetermined assumptions and generic expectations to get in the way of doing what I want to do at my age.

Whew. I hope I got my scattered thoughts into one coherent post. I’ll be back.



As you might know, there’s a new star on the scene: Lorde. Not only does she have a distinct style that shot her up the Billboards charts, there’s something else: she’s sixteen years old, and for someone at that age to make such big waves in the grand, sprawling international music industry is legendary.

Now, I don’t follow music that much. I’m not obsessed with current pop/country stars, and throughout the years I’ve singled out a few of my favorites. I only have absolute favorite songs, not artists; my music palate is quite picky and I’m wary of songs that become popular just because they have catchy music and no real deep meaning behind the repetitive words.

The first time I heard Lorde’s smash song Royals, my reaction was like, “That’s it?” The tune was queer, different. The music video was minimalist, with alternating shots between the artist herself singing into the camera against a blank wall and of boys living in a grayscale, suburban-town world. The lyrics had no effect on me whatsoever. “So, what’s the big deal?”

But the song stuck with me for weeks at school. I found myself humming the song on breaks and with friends and the lyrics and tune refused to let go. And when her fame escalated, on a bored Internet search, I looked up the meaning to the lyrics of Royals. And the more I began to understand the words she sang, the deeper the appreciation I felt for her.

She talks about how other songs depict a glamored, unrealistic Hollywood life, with “Gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom…” and “Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece…” She talks about how she doesn’t really care for a life like that, and how “We aren’t caught up in your love affairs.” She talks about her own humble roots—how she came from a low-key town. She talks about how she—and the rest of us—can’t afford such a glossy, flashy life, how we can only dream about ruling our small-town worlds.

In the book industry, there’s long been an unspoken secret on why most books are successful; because they have “real” characters. In popular books such as The Hunger Games, The Fault in our Stars, and Divergent, they all have honestly shaped, intrinsically flawed characters. They don’t have to be beautiful, or the nicest people on earth. They can be scarred and defensive and weak and small. But despite their shortcomings, their troubles, they rise above and conquer and become, in the loosest sense, heroes of their own small stories. 

And that’s why I love Lorde.

 Because she is real. Because the music industry has been so pretentious, so hyped with glitter-dusted stars and wild concerts, with an undercurrent judgement on beauty and looks. And Lorde breaks that norm, with her softly dusted voice that echoes her intelligence and quiet strength. Her songs don’t brag. She has a personality—she recently called Selena Gomez out on anti-feminism in her song Come and Get It, with its provocative lyrics. Some might view that as obnoxious, for even daring to challenge a popular pop singer, but I think it’s refreshing. People are scared to stand up to the pop stars because of their status, but I think it’s nice when the queen bee is challenged and critiqued once in a while.

The music industry needs that. The people that look up to the music stars need that. They need a down-to-earth role model that they can connect with.

Lorde has no mask of arrogance. Because in the end, she speaks the whole, courageous truth. She doesn’t just speak to us. She speaks about us, too. She is one of us.

In that irony, she truly rose to be her own “queen” of the Billboards. And I, someone who isn’t even into today’s pop culture, say bravo.





Hey, Internet! How are you?
I was feeling super inspired by music today, so I’ll post bits of songs that I really like/have really liked in the past.
And…it’s a Monday, so it totally fits!

1. Burn by Ellie Goulding

I just heard this like maybe five minutes ago, and I’m already in total LOVE with this song. I always feel like Ellie Goulding’s songs have a sort of meaning behind its words, instead of just slapping together catchy words and tossing it into a pop tune. But this song…I love it. I can totally tell it will be one of my pump-up songs for NaNoWriMo this year.

2. Young and Beautiful by Lana del Rey

This was the song of my summer. For reasons unknown, it was so inspiring, so moving, and it helped me pull through my last rewrite. (It was HARD. 45,000 words in two weeks. It took nearly everything I had to grind my teeth and drag myself through the doubt, the fear…)

It’s one of those songs I listened to over and over and over again, and I remembered this clearly; headphones jammed into my ears, arms sticky with sweat against my sides, furiously typing away at 3 in the morning, while Lana’s words and songs stirred something inside me and fed me strength.

Seriously, guys.

I digress.

3. Conquest of Spaces by Woodkid.

I recently started listening to this song, and the lyrics–and the music–really spoke to me. Again, I think it might be part of my playlist for NaNoWriMo. All-around epic song!

And that’s it for a Music Monday! What are your pump-up songs? Tell me below in the comments!