Tag Archives: writing

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
Swing!
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!
Read more: http://www.kpoplyrics.net/super-junior-m-swing-lyrics-english-romanized.html#ixzz2wtHTCdyZ
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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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Another Pitchwars Story

The first Twitter contest I submitted to, I never made it out of the slush. Afterwards, the host Tweeted advice based on queries he received. One of his tweets, I knew, was a direct hit to me. Yes, guilty, I switched to first person character perspective in the query. I had my flash of embarrassment and fixed my query.

In late August, I gave PitchMadness a shot. Then the “teaser tweets” came, and I saw one that I knew had me pegged. In my query, I used an undefined word that’s unique to my book, “Mythian.” Oops. I didn’t make it out of the slush. I did, however, see some wonderful pitches and first pages. I cheered for them, making a few twitter friends. Again, I went back and tweaked my query.

Trick or Treat with agents rolled around, and again, I remained in the slush, but cheered for my favorites and my new friends. And I made way more new friends. This time, there were no tweets that I read and went “oh crap. That’s me.”Afterwards, I took another look at my query and went “how can I make this more attention grabbing – how do I tell them that it’s unique?”

By the time PitchWars came around, I was swimming in a sea of shiny NaNoWriMo WIP. I fell in love with my new MS, an NA Contemporary called Quarter Turn. The story brewed in my head for about a year, and it just poured out of me during NaNo.

Pitchwars showed up, and though I really wanted to focus on my new MS, I went for it. I made a deal with myself. If Scales turned another stagnant slush run, I agreed to shelve it and continue on with Quarter Turn.

My query took on a more personalized tone, because not only did I give my pitch, but I told each mentor what elements of my MS fit their desires. (That mostly came from the two years of writing resumes and cover letters post-college.) I thought my queries were rocking. I even jogged them back and forth with my CP and my sister to make sure my pitch wasn’t a rambling mess.

I didn’t expect to win a spot – I expected to validate my assumption that Scales was a statistic in the “first novels never see light” headline.

Molly (@MollyLee) scooped my baby from the slush pile and called me hers. Twitter blew up with congratulations while I was in a meeting, and I did laps around the office when I discovered it. Seriously, I did. My bosses will vouch for me.

And then the high quickly deflated as the reality of editing settled in. Molly gave me back a fully marked copy of my MS, and I knew I had to embark on a Frankenstein adventure. She loved my characters and the premise, but I had some plot issues with pacing and leaving too much of the good stuff to the back half of the book. My CP (and best friend since highschool) Michelle (@mah_hoehn) took my shaking hand and beat my frazzled nerves into submission. She graciously helped me distill Molly’s critiques into ways that I could fix certain elements. I moved A LOT around, switching scenes, gutting damn near every chapter, and sanded down all the rough edges. Seriously, I rewrote probably 40% of the book.

No, I didn’t get any agent love out of the agent round. (I am stoked that one of my teammates did though, Go Sam!) And, honestly, I’m not all that upset about it. I thought Scales was shiny before, but now I need sunglasses to read it. And most of all, it gave me the validation that Scales is worth pursuing. I just needed those baby steps to learn first.

So that brings me to my advice. Guys, Twitter contests are phenomenal for learning experiences. Yeah, the sting of losing sucks, hardcore. I’ve done it. A lot. But know that everyone who got to the top had their own string of failures and losses. And the industry is so subjective (I saw a ton of thrillers getting love in PitchMadness. Last time it was Historical Romances.) I read a quote once, which I can no longer find the original source for, that said : Authors are writers who never gave up.

Have a back-bone to critiques. Don’t take it personally. Take a day to sulk, then learn, improve, and move on.

Super shout outs to #TeamMollysAngels, Molly, Sam, and Jamie, and the wonderful host Brenda Drake. You guys rock!

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You are a writer.

We’ll call this a two part series. Part 1: You ARE a writer, and Part 2: Trial by Fire.

I mentioned in a previous post that my mistakes on my first book, Scales on our Eyes, were numerous indeed. Before I delve into that, however, I need to address this:

For a long time, I considered writing a hobby that got out of control after college. I’m not a writer. I didn’t go to school for this. Who am I in the grand scheme of things to give myself such a prestigious title?

Depression wrap its greedy claws around my neck when I researched query letters, especially when I started writing them for contests (I wanted to test the waters before jumping into the scary ocean of querying agents). There’s that little ending paragraph to tout degrees in writing – creative or not – and, often times, published works.  In my contest queries, I had one line: I self-published a book of poetry, The Diary of a Broken Heart, when I was seventeen.

Rewind to seventeen (holy cow, that’s almost 10 years ago). A girl in class had a single poem published in some gimmicky poetry.com book, and I was beyond mad. I ate poetry for breakfast, not her. Every time we had to read poetry in class, I memorized the poem and got all slam-poetry dramatic, and I would pick the longest ones to do (To Santa Clause and Little Sisters). If a classmate forgot to do their poetry assignment, they’d pick a poem from me that I wrote. When we had to analyze poetry in class, I took half an hour to tell the class every nuance of Poe’s Lenore, when most kids spent 5-10 minutes on a throwaway Robert Frost we already discussed in class.

I scrounged up my entire binder full of poetry and self-published it. I knew nothing about publishing, I just did it. It’s still sitting on lulu.com somewhere, collecting virtual dust. But I never saw myself as a writer. I just wrote poetry, and my English teachers told me I was good at it.

That was the year I got an 86 on my ELA exam… and it BROKE me. An exam in essay format to discuss books – and I failed it. 86 meant fail to me. Heaven could have struck me dead, and I would have felt deserving of it.

I thought maybe words were not my calling.

That year, we had a multi-genre research project. I chose writers and mental illness, and I developed and designed a full blown newspaper with creative gimmicky articles, comics, and ads that summed up my research on the aforementioned topic. My teacher thought it was a genius piece, A+ all around, and that sparked the world of graphic design for me – the route I took in college.

The point of telling you all of that is to tell you this: I struggled with the question “Am I good enough to call myself a writer?” Even when I started Scales in 2011 and finished in 2013, I never considered myself a writer.

In my senior year of college, I took a mandatory writing 101 class. When my professor handed me back my 26-page final paper, she handed me a Writing Program brochure. She said “your writing is exceptional, and I would urge you to switch majors to the writing program.” But I was too late. I left college thinking I had missed the writing boat. Less than a year later, I started Scales as a project for myself. I saw stories of teenagers and 20-year-olds securing book deals. No way could I play on the same field. These people lived writing their whole life, and I gave it up.

Writing soon took over my life this past year. I finished Scales in February, slammed through edits, beta readers, and more edits. I joined Twitter contests, NaNoWriMo, and started hashing out a second novel. In recent months, my writing has taken a significant lead over my design work. People don’t ask me about my design job anymore. They ask “how’s your book coming?” “Are you writing anything else?” “How did that writing contest go?”

At my first (and last) NaNoWriMo party, I met my chapter leader. She gave me a pin. It simply stated: “I write Books.” Even then, I still struggled with the question: Am I a writer?

No, I don’t have a degree in writing. Yes, everything I learned about writing came from Google, blog posts from fabulous Twitter writers, dropping the proverbial ball in contests, my own ventures in reading, and amazing people who have critiqued my work along the way.

It wasn’t until December that I finalized my answer. Making it into PitchWars and ProjectREUTSway simultaneously validated me to finally say, yes, I am a writer. BUT I WAS WRONG! WRONG I TELL YOU! I’m a writer, and was always a writer, because I write.

I made it into the finals of two twitter contests. I was a writer then.

I cranked out a successful NaNoWriMo this past year while juggling project REUTSway. I was a writer then.

I joined in on Twitter contests last August. I was a writer then.

I started full-on editing Scales a year ago. I was a writer then.

I wrote Scales starting in January 2011. 80% of it in a notebook/ iPad during my lunch breaks at work. I was a writer then.

I wrote kick-ass papers in college. I was a writer then.

I wrote poetry in high school. I was a writer then.

I let myself be intimidated by those with more experience and education. I learned to keep learning and keep teaching myself – to keep putting myself in learning experiences. I forced myself to enter Twitter pitches, to swap 1st pages with other writers, to write short stories for a contest, despite my comfort zone and insecurities. Right now, I don’t feel like less of a writer. I learned that, eventually – with enough drive and an open mind – no one will be able to tell that I didn’t study this in school.

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No Other for your sweet love

Here’s installment #2 of my Kpop for Writers series: Super Junior’s No Other.

I classify Kpop artists into three categories: you have Kpop with rock (bands like C.N. Blue), Kpop with Hiphop (groups like B.A.P, BigBang, Beast), and straight pop groups. Super Junior would be considered a straight pop group. Every single member is a singer –  no one raps (except Eunhyuk on occasion, but it’s so light, it’s hardly considered rap), and no one plays instruments. They all sing, and they all have beautiful voices on their own. Super Junior is your quint-essential boyband.

One of the cool things about Super Junior (SuJu for short) is their subgroups. Some Kpop groups will have members break off to do other things under a different name. SuJu, for instance, has, most notably, Super Junior M (Mandarin), who put out Chinese music and K.R.Y (stands for the three members KyuHyun, Ryowook, and Yesung – the three most swoon-worthy voices from SuJu) who do really powerful ballads. Yeah, that was a really long, choppy sentence, so I hope you’re still with me.

yesung

Yesung – add some black glasses, and that’s my character, Hazel, dead on.

The other cool thing about Super Junior is that they have twelve members. Yep, twelve. Their numbers have dwindled some due to two serving in the military (it’s mandatory over there) and one dropped to do acting. I was immediately sucked into Super Junior because of one member: Yesung. Not only does he have the most gorgeous voice ever (seriously, youtube him – his nickname, Yesung, means art-like voice), but the moment I saw him, my jaw dropped, and I blurted out loud to an empty room: “Holy SH**, it’s Hazel!” Yes, Yesung is exactly how I pictured my secondary main character if you just put a pair of glasses on him (and those photos do exist, ladies and gents – chyeah Google!).

Okay, so enough about SuJu (and Yesung) – I brought you here for music! I now present you with Super Junior’s “No Other.”

If you don’t watch the video, you can already tell by the music that it’s dripping with a sickening sweetness. There’s something pleasant about how the lyrics roll off their voices, like the feeling you get when someone you love surprises you, or a phone call from a friend you’ve long lost touch with.

We arrived on the same road, we’re just the same, how surprising, how grateful, it’s love

There’s no one like you, even if I look around it’s just like that, where else to look for?
A good person like you, a good person like you, with a good heart like you, a gift as great as you
How lucky that I’m the person who will try his hard to protect you, where else to look for?
A happy guy like me, a happy guy like me, the guy with the happiest smile like me

Taken from the refrain – this song is your typical, super-sweet love note. Watch the video if you haven’t already: cavity-inducing gestures of love. Seriously. You’ll need a dental visit after.

Suggested scenes: Put this on repeat for your characters’ love confessions, marriage proposals, or any scene where a character does something nice or romantic for another. Moments of pure frolicking happiness between two love-birds. Maybe not so much for crushes, but definitely for deep-seated aches of real love between couples with longevity.

One last batch of lyrics, the mini light-rap section:

You know, I’m a little bit shy sometimes, you don’t know but you’re burning like the sun, please understand my feelings
Even those girls that appears on TV shows are sparkling, you’ll always be the one in my eyes (I’m going crazy crazy Baby)
Hearing you tell me that you love me, I have everything in this world, You & I, You’re so fine, is there no one like you?
I love you Oh, please know it, to me there’s only you, that I see you as my everything

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Crooked for your crazy broken heart

Okay, so now that I’ve done the introduction (if you haven’t read it yet, click back a post) I can kick this series off with G-Dragon’s Crooked.

Don’t watch the video, just listen to the song first. Go on, I’ll wait.

What does it make you think of when you listen to it? It’s upbeat, but there’s a hint of something more underneath. Can you hear/ feel it? It sounds like it should be a party anthem, but the way the refrain is done in a choppy manner and ends in a downward run of notes gives it a hopeless feeling.

Now watch the video. It looks like some punk kid trying to start trouble, losing himself in clubs, picking fights with people on the street. Keep going to the end. What do you see? Exactly. I admit I tear up at the end of the video every time.

In english, the second half of the refrain is this:

Leave me alone
I was alone anyway
I have no one, everything is meaningless
Take away the sugar-coated comfort
Tonight, I’ll be crooked

Read more: http://www.kpoplyrics.net/g-dragon-crooked-lyrics-english-romanized.html#ixzz2mwxg4vNt
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The song is about losing someone and going nuts on a binge of troublesome activity to fill that void, but it’s still there, eating you alive.

Recommended scenes: Your MC suffers a devastating heartbreak and has no way to contain his/her feelings. The MC proceeds in a downward spiral of unhealthy activity to cope with a loss or a devastating event. I think of Will Herondale when I listen to this. Got a menacing character with a tragic past? This song’s for them.

Other noteworthy lyrics – second verse:

I’ll put on thick eyeliner, use a whole can of hairspray
Leather pants, leather jacket with a frown
I want to hide my pain and become even more crooked
So you can feel sorry, I’ll spit toward the sky
You’re scared of my crude words and my rough eyes
But actually, I’m afraid, I want to go back but I have nowhere to go
I want to love but no one to love, what am I supposed to do?
I can’t turn it back

Read more: http://www.kpoplyrics.net/g-dragon-crooked-lyrics-english-romanized.html#ixzz2mx00PSiy
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Feel free to use this song for your desperate scenes of heartache. Happy writing!

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