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.


Usually, it is my habit to make a cup of tea before I start writing, and lounge around with some music.
Today? I didn’t make my tea. Some days, I get so caught up in my “writing rituals” that it makes me procrastinate. In order to get into the ‘writing mood”, I get caught on doing the things that relate to writing instead of writing itself. 
And here’s the truth:

Writing doesn’t need to be done to a big pot of coffee or a soundtrack blasting in your ears.

Writing doesn’t need to be done with scrumptious tea or kittens lounging by your side. 
Writing doesn’t need to be done with Scrivener or fancy plotting cards, even though they help.
You don’t need an outline, but you can have one.
You don’t need five thousand Stickies and a to-do list to prove that you’re a writer.
Some people will tell you their processes and methods, their exact “methods of success” to writing.Some people have perfectly organized methods that I frankly envy and admire, but I have realized that it’s just not me.  
And their organized processes can be perfectly effective, but every writer’s process is unique. Sometimes, when I get too caught up in my own rituals, I just like to sit back and think and completely take myself back to the essentials.
Because you don’t need “proof” that you’re a writer. Scratch that; you need one.
You need to put words down on a page. One word after another. Then you’re a writer.
And everything else–coffee, kittens, gin and tonic, stacks of writing books, even outline–that comes second.
Just words on a page, and you are a writer. What you do next is completely up to you. 

So yesterday, I was working through some particularly tough scenes. 

Actually, this one particularly tough scene. 
First off, I want to describe my main character. 
I personally don’t think she’s particularly strong or feisty like many YA heroines that I love and adore. She’s not too dramatic or unique, either. She’s quiet. Where another character deviates from the rules and talks back, she keeps her mouth shut. She’s a little broken inside, from something that happened to her a long time ago. 
And then this thing, this circumstance comes back to haunt her. I can’t really say what it is at the moment, but it is something that once took her family from her and now again–after she thinks she’s escaped from that, it comes back and again, it forces her in turmoil and begins to take everything she has gained.
What does she do, now that she’s forced to face her inner demons? She has no choice but to become strong. She doesn’t instantly transform into a kick-butt heroine–it takes a long time for her to find herself again.
I was writing the scene yesterday, when literally, everyone, everyone she loves is gone and what she holds dear is completely destroyed.
And–for the first time, ever, I broke down and cried. 
I’ve been writing for quite a while–and this book, especially. I have devoted more time and energy than I ever have to any other book I’ve worked on. 
But–I never cry in books. I cry in movies, but words rarely move me to the point of tears. I have always experienced this sort of detachment with my characters. In the back of my mind, at the end of the day, they lived on the page. For the longest time, I obsessed over the plot and the inner workings of the premise and didn’t devote enough heart to my characters. 
Yesterday, for a long moment, I finally actually felt the main character’s pain. I don’t want to sound cheesy or melodramatic. It was perhaps the darkest scene in the book, where she hits rock bottom and she can no longer swallow her anger or hide her emotions behind her face. 
I think–for me, it was a sign of victory, of reaching the point where finally, I cared about the people I created enough to see the world through their eyes and reach their fictional hearts, and cry for them. It has taken me years to reach this point of writing, and I realize that no matter what happens to this book, it has certainly taken me to the next level of writing and given me an experience I won’t, and can’t, forget.

Hey guys!

School was canceled for two days because of sub-zero weather, so guess where I am? The revision rabbit hole! Well, more like editing.

My writing may not be at its most coherent right now, because I was up until 2 am yesterday editing the midpoint (the feast scene, with gowns and drama and whatever) and I’m a little behind on where I thought I should be. That will definitely get fixed, though.

So, after discovering the Is There Anybody out There album, (link to the post here) I listened to it nonstop. And I’m still flailing around in my story and trudging through my suck dragons and shouting my fears down in the face (Susan Dennard did a fabulous post here). But for the first time, I feel like I can finally cup the core of my story in my hands, instead of groping blindly through mountains and piles of words in a futile attempt to latch onto an idea.

It’s no longer the thrilling flash of discovery as you find a scene spilling out of your fingers, raw and brilliant, but more like polishing a chandelier; it’s tedious work, over and over again, but as you rub and rub, you slowly see that it, indeed, can be pretty.

My earphones are back in. I’m off for now. 🙂

When I was a little kid in elementary school, I was in one of those accelerated programs for reading. And…teachers said I wasn’t good at reading comprehension.

Turns out, I am actually quite good at analyzing works of writing. But they gave us a dreaded list of terminology we had to memorize, and worksheets to be filled…and they were boring. Things like mood, scene, antagonist, denouement, and…author’s purpose. 
I *dreaded* that. 
Now, roughly five years later, I am talking about author’s purpose. Maybe I’ll wait a few years and be chugging black coffee and running on 3 hours of sleep. 
But sarcasm aside, today I kinda want to talk about author’s intent and purpose, with some food comparisons. (no, really. There’s actually is food involved.)
So today I came across a lovely video on YouTube with author Kiera Cass…talking a little about author’s doubt and how…how her book will make a difference and why it stands out. 
So basically she is in the midst of editing her book The Selection. She says (if I may heavily paraphrase), “There are some books that are chock-full of information. Like those dishes that are healthy and have a little bit of every food group in it.”
“Come to think of it, my book doesn’t really have *nutritional value*.”
She goes on to say, “And there are some authors with ideas so grandiose and complex–you know they’re shooting for the New York Times Bestseller List. They’re like those restaurants with those fancy square plats and the swoop of sauce and that fancy green sprig you’re not really sure you’re supposed to eat or not.”
“My book really isn’t like that, either. My book isn’t fancypants.”
“You know what my book is like? Mac and cheese. Mac and cheese and potatoes and apple pie. My book is comfort food. No matter what, you always return to it.”
Man, oh man. Kiera Cass, you are a smart cookie. 
I have a brilliant author friend who once was a concert pianist, and she once told me about how to play a piano piece. “You have to think about the intent,” she said, “Even past the dynamics and melodies and crescendos….it has to build up to a meaning, an intent.” 
So, to author’s purpose. And to me thinking about what my book was about.
I will come up front and tell you that TeaNovel is different. Very, very different. It’s not a grand, magical, glittering fantasy. It is not a cute, swoony romance. it is not a terrifying, haunting dystopia, complete with horrifying scientific measures of law enforcement and a love interest that stepped out of a model shoot. 
Clearly, my novel intent isn’t an electric, fast-paced plot. It isn’t a formulaic novel that hits all the YA checkboxes. No. My novel’s story–I would describe as strange, but reminiscent of home. A Marriott inn in a foreign country. Exotic, but hopefully comfortable enough. 
And for my novel’s prose–I want you, the reader, to feel. 
I want to evoke emotions. I add some literary flair, but weave it in the lines so it is nearly inconspicuous among the concise prose, but just enough to leave an aftertaste on your tongue. I want you to know what sadness feels like without melodrama. It’s not operatic tears and moans and screams, but it’s that quiet, bitter coldness that reaches your bones before you realize it. 
That is my author’s intent. 
My novel is a hanging mess of balancing acts, but I hope someday the cards will fall right, and it will turn out well and hit the sweet spot I have imagined for it all along. 

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.)
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. 

I hope everyone had a beautiful, happy, healthy Christmas! Wow, 2014 is coming in about 4 days. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around 2013…hahaha.

Anyways…here is a writing post.

So this post’s title was actually something coherent this time (instead of me being all like, “ehhh….I’m too lazy to think so I’ll just title it something creative like “cool stuff” or something specific along those lines). And…it’s about me thinking about, ha, TeaNovel.

So…a few days ago (Christmas Eve, I believe) I wrote a blog post/review of Days of Blood and Starlight. Wasn’t really a review–more like a rant/fangirl gush of me discovering Laini Taylor’s genius. (I know, I’m quite late. But Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the third book, is only about 4 months away…which is still not really okay because LAINI, I NEED IT NOW.)

So of course, I want to know the genius behind the masterpiece, you know?

A writing friend recommended her blog to me a while ago during NaNo, but after reading her books, I did some more in-depth browsing and came across this blog post:


It’s a very, very good post.

Hilarious pictures aside, Laini talks about the writing process and getting it right, not getting it fast. She quotes advice from Patrick Rothfuss, “It will only be late once, but it will suck forever.”

Here, she put it in caps and big font, so I will too.


There? Okay. We can go on. I’ll explain.

So basically, I was a teen when I wrote the TeaNovel. I still am a teen. Coming off multiple successes and bounties from NaNoWriMo, I always had the solid mentality of “Get it down, you can fix it later. Blindly throw crap at the wall and hope it sticks.”

Which was good advice…for the first draft.

But numerous rewrites later, I still had the “Get it down, you can fix it later” mentality. I wanted to get it done. I was being so smug and everything, telling the few people I trusted, “Yeah. I rewrote the entire thing in a month.”

Okay, so I still continued some of my successes. The plot improved drastically. Huge improvements and developments.

But the writing…not so much. I thought I was making so much progress, rewriting a scene over and over without slowing down, and when I got the plot down and it came down to the writing, I passed it off and I vowed that I would fix it later.

Without slowing down and paying attention to the writing, I thought I was finishing the story, but I was so focused on getting it down rather than getting it right, that the gap in the writing that I ignored came back to bite me in the ass, and I faced mountain after mountain of rewrites.

Let me rephrase it, in big font.

Because I was so focused on racing through it and getting it down, I thought I was finishing the story faster, but in reality I was setting myself up for more work in the end. 

This time, I’m doing my last edits on it. Plot is okay, but the writing needs a LOT of work.


But this time, I’ll give it the time it needs. Maybe I’ll take more than a month. Now as I’m getting nearer and nearer to the finish line I have set up for myself, it all comes down to the writing.

I will be careful. I will be meticulous and I will be gentle and delicate and intricate.

This time, I know I have it down. This time, I want to get it right. 

My blog post titles are getting atrocious. Apologies.

I have been slowly, slowly coming to a realization.

So these posts of distress I have been putting on the blog? I have been reading over my TeaNovel.

To put it in a brief summary; It was a little rougher than I thought.

Plot is solid. I can see the potential in the story.

The problem lies in the prose, and the pacing–my writing is very odd and fast-paced in all the wrong places and it sounds so undoubtedly juvenile.

So basically, if I may make the comparison, it’s like Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries.

This is what my novel is like right now:

This is what I want it to be like:

And sometimes I read the amazing, brilliant novels of the YA genre and they’re so awesome and beautiful and gorgeous like this:


I realize that I have lots to do, on the small-scale level. Right now, I see some good parts of my novel, but the writing, when I’m being critical (as I should be), is a bit of a mess. Nowhere near the status of good. It will need a lot of changing.

The good news? I don’t need to break every bone in the plot anymore to make it work.

Bad news? I need a curling iron. And some contacts. And makeup. My novel needs a makeover.

I have already disbanded from Twitter for a short while, and though I may blog sometime this Winter Break, my time will pretty much be fully devoted to writing and studying for Finals. Oh, and I also have a pile of projects that my classes decided to throw in at the last minute.

That GIF is a work of art.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!!!

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.


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.

The second part of my novel is the part that makes me cringe.

Its like–like seeing a childhood friend of yours and it’s waving enthusiastically at you but you’re standing there, thinking, “Uh. The clothes she wears…and she hasn’t brushed her hair…”

Inside, my novel’s middle part has a good core, I believe. And if I told it to brush its hair and put on a respectable t-shirt and stop wearing mismatched socks on purpose, it would be much, much better.

Thing is, right now I’m afraid, embarassed to even stare it in the face.

Means only one thing.


That old, dear friend has come back again.