Monthly Archives: March 2014

Never, never give up!

It’s been way too long since the last installment of my “Kpop for Writers” series. All that PitchWars and writing shenanigans eclipsed my music, especially since my iTunes is currently gone. Yeah, crashed computer and all that. But boy, do I have a new ear worm for you guys. This one is not just a scene-inspiration song, it can also be a personal theme song or hype helper, if you will.

In recent years, with some of their main members in the military, including their leader, Leetuk, and vocal back-bone, Yesung (*swoon*), Super Junior has been on a small hiatus. I featured Super Junior (SuJu) in my last post, and I also mentioned that they have several sub-units. Super Junior’s sub-unit “M” (for Mandarin) launched a mini album in China a few days ago and the rest of the world has another week to wait. This 8-member unit is made up of six original Super Junior members, one Chinese singer, and one Canadian-born Chinese/Taiwanese jack-of-all-trades superstar (seriously, Google Henry Lau). Today’s pick is Super Junior M’s latest single “Swing.” No, it’s not Kpop despite 6/8 Korean members. It’s Mandopop! Take a listen.

Their music video for “Swing” came out this weekend, and I’ve been shamelessly listening to it on repeat since I got to work today. This song has some serious energy and hype. By the eighth play-through, I was rocking out in my office and praying my boss wouldn’t pop in. Though my “Kpop for Writers” picks up to this point have contained almost no English lyrics, that’s not actually typical. You’ll notice in this song that one English phrase stands out over everything: “Swing! Never, never give up!”

Coming on the tail of PitchMadness and just before PitMad, I thought this song would be a perfect pick. Not only can you play this while you write your Rocky Balboa montages, but you can also play it as a pick-me-up to press onward after a rejection letter or your name absent from the short-list.

Some of my favorite lyrics from “Swing.”

Hurry and shout with all your might along with the music
Swing never never give up
Even with worries, no big deal, you’ll forget it in a second
Hurry and shout with all your might with the music
Swing never never give up


Life sometimes complains with exaggeration
Don’t mind it, with me it will be a perfect show
So relax, be cool
Come with me, happiness is attracted like magic
Open your eyes everyday, there will be new experiences
Be the truest you

Sometimes you’ll lose your way
Your heart will sink to the deepest sea floor
Let this tune give you an escape
Dance with me tonight
Swing my baby, tonight!
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Plus, no one’s fooling anyone. We’ve all wanted to break out into dance like that at work, too. ^_~


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Spring Cleaning

It’s pretty much Spring, aside from the 10″ of snow we got yesterday in the storm. I’ve been waiting for Spring to break through so I can open all my windows and clean the winter staleness out of my apartment. One of the most dreaded places to clean for nearly any woman is their purse.

Ladies, how long does it take you to find something in your purse? Way too long?

Yesterday, I dug around in my purse for my car key to run an errand. Millions of mental notes confirm that my car key goes in the front pocket, but sometimes it ends up in the back pocket, or worse, inside the center. Well, I didn’t find it, because I stuffed the key in my coat pocket. We have those days.

But what I did find in my purse that day was my cell phone, my work cell phone, my wallet, checkbook, tons of crumpled receipts, doctor appointment cards for dates past and dates future, a sea of change accumulating in the front pocket, my house keys, my chapstick I must forever have on me, a pill case stuffed with meds and Tylenol and Pepto “just in case,” an empty pill jar, a blue pen, a red pen (? I didn’t even know I owned one), my work badge, a hair clip, a flash drive, a pair of earring I forgot I put in there, a hole punch and tape measure that I threw in there from work a few weeks ago that I forgot I had, an empty bottle of hand sanitizer, a bottle of lotion, a coffee card that I can’t use, because I gave up caffeine months ago, and an unfilled prescription.

I remember pulling out the hole punch and going “Why do I have that in here? I’ve been carrying this around for how long?” And then I thought about it as I jingled my purse, the change clanging in the bottom.

When I first started seeing a chiropractor and a massage therapist for my shoulder problems two years ago, they both asked me “how heavy is your purse?”  Just last week, I grumbled when my boyfriend handed me his wallet and phone to put in my purse when we went into a restaurant. I’ve been back in physical therapy for a month, so I complained about the extra weight. It made me laugh, as I stood there, holding the hole puncher. I griped about his wallet and phone, and here I was carrying around a frickin hole punch and tape measure for two weeks.

What else didn’t I need? I never use the lotion in my purse, because I have a bottle at home and one at work. I only use my checkbook on Saturday mornings to pay bills. I never look at receipts again after I get them (except groceries, which go in a container on the counter anyway). Earrings? Flash drive? Hair clip? An empty pill jar? Did I really need to take my meds with me? I have Tylenol and my Crohn’s meds in my desk at work, too. And my change jar is right next to the spot I keep my purse at home.

Really, I’m just hurting myself with all this junk. ANd for what reason? Just in case. That’s it. Just in case I have a headache where I can’t get Tylenol. Just in case I need my checkbook. Just in case I need lotion. Truth it, I never do.

What about you? How much junk are you keeping in your MS? Keeping up with #PitchMadness this week, I’m seeing a lot of #TagOrPass comments about book length. Most of which are way too long.

My CP asked me the other week to kill a character. Not, you know, murder, or anything, but to take her completely out of the MS. She’s Miss Oliver, the 28 year-old painting instructor with a sunshine smile and a penchant for recycling junk into jewelry. Miss Oliver is a fully fleshed out, interesting character. Just what we want in our work, right?

“What’s her purpose?” My CP asked me.

“Ummm. She’s the painting teacher in the most important class in the story.”

“Right, but does she lend to the action by doing anything else other than tell the MC where Hazel’s studio is?”

“….. no….”

“Kill her.”

I had a whole scene devoted to her character, introducing her and showing off her personality. Mostly I did it to foil against her assistant, Hazel, a super important character who’s pretty much a jerk and a sourpuss all the time. But I didn’t need it. My MC already created the foil for Hazel, and every Beta reader has long hated him by that point in the story. Exactly what I wanted.

In killing that several-page scene, I not only lessened my word count, but now there’s room to add important details in other places. Or maybe a scene to develop a different character, an important character, that I may not have dwelled enough on.

So why are you carrying certain scenes, characters, or even mini plot-lines in your MS just in case? They might be good, yes, but are they necessary? Probably not. Really think about each piece in your story, and ask yourself if it progresses the action and conflict. Sometimes the unnecessary clogs or hinders the important things from getting completely brought out. You and your MS will both feel lighter.

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Escape less, relate more – a struggle between genres

Every time I see the hashtag  #MSWL, I get excited to see the wondrous things on agent and editor lists. Then, without fail, I read through the wishes and my heart sinks.

Everyone likes Fantasy (well, you know what I mean), and by that I’m including Magical Realism, Urban, Paranormal, and the like. People want to experience a world bigger, more crazy, exciting, and more unique than their own. They want to get away from their perceived boring lives and escape to extraordinary places behind the eyes of characters who can do things we only dream about.

But the market is so over-saturated with Fantasy, specifically YA. Every contest I do is jammed with that genre, but I see less and less of it in the winner’s circle. Even if I thought my MS, Scales on Our Eyes, was unique and captivating (I totally do), my chances of letting it fly into the literary world are small. I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.  Writing talent and doing things (like queries) correctly is a leg up on the odds. I’ve seen more “all telling, no showing” #TenQueries than I can even count.

But back to the MS Wish Lists. I don’t see fantasy on the wishlists very often. And when I do, it’s “world building,” or “unique premise.” Perhaps John Green opened a huge pandora’s box of contemporary fiction with TFioS. That’s all I see now – contemporary. I’ve noticed lately that people want to escape less and relate more. They want characters of different ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, uncommon jobs, and real problems. And, holy cow, has NA blown up – I didn’t know NA existed before, and now it’s everywhere.

And here’s the rub.

Before I immersed myself into the literary world, I simply wrote an MS to see if I could, and because I always wanted to complete a novel. I wrote Scales, and, at the time, I was at a very low place in my life. I experienced financial troubles in the midst of a dead-end job during the depressing, post-college struggle into my field career. I lost one of my best friends to cancer while in college, and I struggled to keep my Crohn’s disease in remission since. (Note: I now have a cozy career as a graphic designer, I’m financially stable- or close enough, and I’m in remission – it does get better!)

I remember listening to BIGBANG (Korean pop music, not the show, though the show is great) and realizing that Kpop careers have a short window. 90% of Kpop groups disband within the first 5 years. Don’t quote me on it, but I know it’s a high percentage. I remember thinking that I was the same age as the members of BIGBANG, and I remember thinking “I’m 25 and just waiting for my life to begin. They’re 25, and they don’t have much time left on their shiny fame.” Then a deep sadness struck me, as a new realization hit me: my friend who passed away never made it to 25.

I started a second novel, Quarter Turn, an NA that I mistook as YA for a long time. The synopsis is in my writing page, so I won’t put it here. It encapsulated all of the aforementioned suckiness. You know that “When Will My Life Begin” song form Tangled? Yeah, that. And on top of that, fears of leaving one’s comfort zone, because of illness and financial insecurity, and being a girl who’s not all into that party scenario (alcohol is a no with Crohn’s disease), but totally into World of Warcraft.

Disability, check. Real problems, check. NA Contemporary, check. Now let’s add in the fact that three-quarters  (I can never read ¾ anymore without a British accent – side effects of HP fandom) of the book is set in South Korea, and all but two major characters are Korean. Ethnically diverse setting and characters, check and check. And Kpop is a HUGE market, untapped in the book world. I can’t find fiction on it anywhere. Boom. Unique premise, check.

Everytime I read #MSWL, my brain is a cacophony of “that’s Quarter Turn!” “that’s Quarter Turn!” that’s Quarter Turn,” and sometimes a “Scales could fit that.” It’s heartbreaking when your finished novel doesn’t fit, but your unfinished MS is wishlist goldmine.

Just one more thing, and I’ll tell you why this is getting nuts.

Last November, I slammed out 40k worth of Quarter Turn. I only had a few more chapters left and of course, lots of editing. The last week of NaNo, my hard drive bit the dust. Before it completely melted into oblivion, I shoved all of my Scrivener files onto my flash drive and pushed my MS into iCloud.

But now, I don’t have a Mac to check my Scrivener files, which were only notecards, anyway. But I don’t have the names of new characters anywhere else or my thoughts and breakthroughs I had during NaNo. And my MS that I sent to iCloud? Corrupted. Yep. Gone. 40k+ words gone into oblivion with my hard drive.

At the same time, I got into PitchWars with Scales. And since the end of Pitchwars, Scales has come a long way with the new edits, including a new theme (which was there all along, hidden under unnecessary scenes and contrived character interactions), and it’s more polished than I could ever imagine it becoming.

Guys, I’m really struggling here. Don’t get me wrong. I love Scales. It’s my 3-year baby. I’ve poured countless hours into that MS and those characters. But my heart is in Quarter Turn, and I feel that what agents and contests and readers are looking for right now is diverse, plausible characters in Contemporary fiction.

Do I continue the push on Scales, though the edits seem endless and the thirst for the Fantasy genre is fading? Do I start over on Quarter Turn, a genre that’s blazingly on fire? I know ideas are subjective. I know writing for trends is like trying to catch water with a slotted spoon. Regardless, I am torn between the needs of both much-loved MSs.


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