Friday, May 24, 2024

A Slow Summer Song

I had hoped to have the first draft of Agent Regalia finished by May 31st. Alas! I have this nasty habit of writing chapters that become too long and require expansion into new chapters. While the novel was originally supposed to be about 75k words, it will probably be closer to 100k by the time I am finished with it! I have about 6 chapters and 30k words to go. 

My present plan is to finish the full draft by the end of June, spend July and August revising it, and send it off onto the wild sea of submissions in September. 

Part of the reason this WIP is taking me so long to finish is the sheer amount of crazy random research required for each individual chapter. Wedding fashion and customs, the frozen nitrogen heart of Pluto, blue sulfur fires on volcanoes, Brutalist architecture, enhydro crystals . . . this is a love story! But not just Regalia's love story. It's also my life-long love affair with science fiction and Star Wars, Star Trek, and Star Gate, etc. Everything I love about the zany, imaginative freedom of an adventure in space.  

I hope I can ink it right.

I hope I can write it. 

I'm grateful for all the pixie claps from family, friends, and my amazing SCBWI group that keep me chasing after Regalia. 



Friday, April 19, 2024

A Theme Song for a Story

I like to pick songs as the imaginary theme tracks for my stories.

For Bad Species: Diary of a Once and Future Human, my SF MG verse novel currently on submission, I instantly felt that Iniko's ethereal yet powerful song "Jericho" fit the theme perfectly! 

My story explores the life of thirteen-year-old Pearl, a girl born on a hostile world where humans will never belong. Descended from shipwreck survivors, she grew up on glorified ghost stories of Earth, but all she wants is to feel at home on Azuride even though she has always been taught to view her identity one way: 

"I am not really here, I'm an intrusion" (Stanza 2, Line 2, from Iniko's "Jericho"). 

For "the tell-tale traces of a different star" always betray Pearl in her "red, iron-rich blood." Red is a rare color on Azuride . . . a raw and jarring hue that is considered to be unnatural.   

Deep in her DNA, Pearl can't help feeling the pull of the planet her species lost even though she is hopelessly mired in the wreckage of a cruiser that will never fly again:

"My blood churns wild and raw inside me

as I make it to the captain’s chair first

what is this energy, vast as starlight?

I almost feel like a blue sky human:


In "Jericho," Iniko sings of the longing to be a free voyager, too: "I got Milky Way for blood, evolution in my vein/I'm gone, I've been far away /I'ma lumineer now, makin' moves, startin' waves" (Stanza 1, Lines 2-4)

Pearl's journey in the ink is to discover the grit of true worth and strength at her core.



Thursday, March 21, 2024

Tips from an Obscure Writer

Stuff I've learned on my writing journey:

1. Don't write. At least, don't try to write all the time, or you will burn out. Fallow periods of the mind are important, too, as they build up the loam of your imagination. So binge watch that anime, do the dishes, buy those snazzy leopard shoes at the thrift store and reorganize that book shelf! When your brain has a breather, deep dive back into the ink.

2. You don't need to know every plot and character detail perfectly to start writing your story. Often the process of puzzling out a hard part will give you the answer when you aren't actually writing about it, you're thinking about it while doing other things. So don't be afraid to slog through a muddy idea until you get to a firm path! As the sagacious Rumi notes, "When you start to walk on the way, the way appears."

3. Always email yourself updated copies of your work. That way if your computer goes haywire or notebook gets carried away by a tornado, aliens, or randomly revised by a rampaging pack of feral kittens, your latest draft is stored online. I learned this useful tip from Brandon Sanderson's writing class in my Way Back Whensy era! *(Also save at least one emailed copy of an early or partial draft so you have a definitive time stamp of when you started it.)

4. Never forget that creativity involves balancing the personal and the professional sides of yourself, and respect should be mutual with those you work with and count as creative confidantes. 

5. Search for your group. I didn't join SCBWI until my mid thirties, and it was the best decision ever! I was a little daunted at first as my local members all write different genres than me and I wasn't sure if I would fit in, but I've learned and gained a lot from their constructive critiques and friendship. 

6. Be like Enya. Ignore the frazzle-buzz of social media distortions and the deadly allure of doom scrolling. Instead, craft your dreams with singular purpose before sending them out into the world. Solitary musings hold the key to unlocking the unique power of your own voice. 

*Every writer's journey is different, and the methods that spur our creativity all vary, too. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

The Best Part of You

My mom struggled with health issues ever since I could remember, but she passed away quite suddenly sixteen years ago. I don't know that I will ever get over the shock of waking up the next morning and realizing I would never, ever see her again in this life. Since then, more people dear to me have also passed on. Sometimes I wonder what it means to go on trying to create poems, stories, and art that I will never be able to share with them, but then I cherish words I saved from an old Juno account message my mom sent me while I was in college:

"Take care, and follow your dreams. They are the best part of you." 

I want to honor her belief in me, in whatever small way I can. Our beautiful Earth is full of ecological disasters, and societal struggles and divisions, and I wonder sometimes in all this noise if my little drop of life/ink has any more meaning than the splatter of a rain drop on hard asphalt. Maybe not. Or maybe the meaning is solely up to me. Perhaps, the echo of those who loved us still pushes us towards being our best selves today.   

I'm working on two sci-fi projects this year that I'm really excited about! I know they aren't truly important in the grand scheme of things, but these stories make me intensely happy (*excluding the revision process!), and when I finally share them with you . . .  I hope they'll make you smile, too. 

Stay tuned for more musings from the far side of my mind.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Ink Dreams: Blooming Versus Planting Seasons

When a woman becomes a lady of a certain age, the algorithms on her social media feeds mysteriously shift. They start bombarding her with inspiring mantras about how age is not a barrier against dreams, and talent and passions can still be pursued and developed to their fullest before one perishes from this earthly realm. For example, I discovered that Vera Wang didn't start designing wedding gowns until 40 (for the record, I absolutely adore Vera Wang's designs).

Since I began writing novels over two decades ago, I've had my share of highs and lows. You lose more than you ever knew you had in confidence as the years roll by. . . and yet, you keep going. It will be so lonely at times, but your soul will still echo with stories, and the ink won't stop running in your veins. Sometimes rushing like a river, other times just a trickling rivulet. As a storyteller, it is both exhausting and exhilarating to acknowledge that I still have so much more to learn!

However, I can't truly do that unless I destroy my previous aspirations. I have to let go of the starry, wide-eyed dreams of the girl I was in my twenties. We don't even share the same wishes anymore, really. I need to keep to myself more, avoid being swept up in the Narcissus mirror of social media, and take time to sit down and shut up and just listen to my own heart for awhile. I must start from the ground-up with my writing craft, and gather the grit of all my experiences, both the sweet scintillas and tired, bitter motes (my creative loam, so to speak). 

Why? Because I realized I am in a planting season. I recently watched a random video about how people get impatient when they wish to be in a blooming season, already reveling in the fruits of their labor, when they should concentrate on being fully present in their planting season instead. That's me now: I'm quite firmly rooted in a planting season. An extremely looonnnggg planting season! 

Hopefully, one day, my ink will bloom into a flower worthy of your wonder . . . 


Monday, January 8, 2024

Locket and Clover

When I was a very little child, someone gave me a Valentine's Day card in school. I absolutely loved the two girls with frilly dresses and luxurious hair pictured on the card. I didn't know back then that they were "Maiden CurlyCrown" and "Maiden FairHair" from the Lady Lovely Locks series, so I called the golden-haired girl "Locket," and the brunette, "Clover."

I would make up imaginary adventures for them, and even after I lost the worn-out card, I never forgot them. Neither did my mother! Many years later, my mom gave me a birthday card with two regal golden and brunette-haired ladies, and told me it was "Locket and Clover all grown up." 

This made me super happy, and I framed the second card and took it with me through repeated moves. 

Well, 2024 started out with a stelliferous surprise! Thanks to a random Facebook post on the Lovely Locks series that led me to Etsy...I found them. The original card that inspired my Locket and Clover daydreams.

It's a wonderful, rare thing to rediscover a little childhood magic!