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thinking outside the gular pouch

I was watching a video the other day of an egret eating a mouse when I came across several more of a crow trying to catch a duckling and a pelican with a duckling trying desperately to escape from its gular pouch. Then I saw some videos of geese fighting with swans, whether for territorial reasons or protecting their young or both, who really knows? After watching several of these, a thought occurred to me: Why can’t all birds just get along? Do they really have to eat each other? Do they really have to bully each other’s young to make a point that the lake belongs to them? It would be like if we had different species of human and some people ate other species of people. Can you imagine that?

People are people are people are people. But what if there were teeny tiny ones living in the grass and really big ones living in the mountains? We could eat the ones in the grass, but we would be eaten by the ones in the mountains. I don’t know if I would like a world like that. So how do we get all the birds to get along?

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feeling like a real writer at YALLSTAYHOME a.k.a. YALLWest

I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!

Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.

I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!

It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.

Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.

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NaNoWriMo results

This year I won NaNoWriMo two days early on November 28th. I’ve had a lot going on since then, so sorry I have not updated about it since winning. On the left is the shirt I got myself as soon as I won and a few days later I treated myself to a shake from Chick-fil-A. I can’t remember what exactly it was called, but it was a chocolate chip peppermint flavor. The name doesn’t matter. That shake was good and Chick-fil-A makes good shakes in general.

This was only my third time participating. I’ve won it twice so far. The first I completed a first draft of an entire novel. Last time I finished roughly ~14,000 words. This time I won, but I don’t have a complete first draft. What I’ve found to work really well is an outline before starting. That’s what I did the first time around. The second time around I decided to dive in with no sense of direction. This time around I didn’t have an outline, but I had an idea of where I wanted my story to go. I think the results show the outline works the best if you want a completed novel by the end of the challenge.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? How did it go?

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NaNoWriMo 2019

I just wanted to say I haven’t been that active on here lately because I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who know what that is and/or have participated, good for you and I hope you the best in your word count keep up. I know it’s taken a toll on my sleep. For those of you who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a non-profit organization, short for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my third time participating and my goal this time is to simply crank out 50,000 words. I am not worried about how good my novel is. I want to get in a good writing habit, starting with this challenge so I will be happy if I just write 50,000 words. I can always edit the story later, but for now, just getting the words out.

Peace x

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Where did the white rabbit go?

Sometimes I take a long time to finish reading a book not because it’s not good, but because I don’t want to lose time I get to spend with the characters. I know, sounds silly. Like crazy writer talk. You would think dragging out the story that long would mean I would spend less time with the characters, but dragging it out like that makes me feel like I’m spending more time with them. You see, as long as I haven’t finished the book I can keep thinking about the characters and imagining what they’re going through. Once I finish the book, my time with them is done. Reading to the last page is like shutting the world where my new favorite characters reside and never being able to reach inside that black top hat again.

 

 

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“The Singles Game” by Lauren Weisberger

The Singles Game

I don’t know what it’s like to be a professional tennis player, but Lauren Weisberger’s The Singles Game is what I imagine it to be like. I have to admit though, I think the title has a double meaning. The first thing that came to mind was love and relationships and not just because Cosmopolitan recommended this read. I had to look closer at the cover a second time to see it was about tennis.

I loved The Devil Wears Prada so I went in with great expectations. It is safe to say Weisberger delivered with this one as well. It could be made into a movie if she wanted. You can tell she did her research.

It turns out it was about tennis and relationships at the same time, so maybe that was her intention all along. It’s a very fluffy story, but I liked learning about the behind-the-scenes in tennis and seeing just how Todd Feltner was like a male version of Miranda Priestly. It’s basically a story about a girl named Charlotte “Charlie” Silver who devoted her whole life to tennis and really wants to be number one, but once she makes the decision to sacrifice everything outside of tennis for the sake of winning, she realizes she wants all the real people back, like her former coach Marcy and her hitting partner Dan, and not the celebrities who only add glitter to her life, something sparkly that later lands and creates a huge mess.

Like Andy Sachs, Charlie is a determined girl. She is willing to change her whole image into this “warrior princess” type to not only please Feltner, but to realize her ultimate goal. But like any person who’s ever chased a dream so hard it hurts, Charlie comes to her senses and focuses on staying true to her heart and to the people who helped her do just that.

The story is simple, but it’s a fun read to be enjoyed at any time.

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OK, so a while ago I said to Stay Tuned…

I’ve been meeting some new people in the city I live in and in general doing a little more exploring than I’ve done before. I also started a new job. I want to share my experiences piece by piece. It’s taken me a while to get started because I’m a perfectionist and I like organizing a “format” for how I want to do these posts. In between I might throw in some fictional pieces, so just check out the categories and tags before assuming anything is a real-life blog.

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Stay Tuned…

I have experienced a couple of things lately I am excited about and I can’t wait to share with you all on here. I didn’t mean to go so long without posting, but lately I’ve had a lot of LIFE hit me in the face. Nothing to worry about, but I didn’t feel like composing a post just to post something just because I hadn’t posted in a while. Just to let you know.

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“Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest

Book Riot recommended this novel via their YouTube channel several months ago and I ended up picking up my copy at the airport on the way to Cancún. I finished it within the week I spent on vacation last Thanksgiving with my parents. Yes, even while in Cancún, the novel grabbed my attention enough for me to make time to find out how it ends.

Where do I begin? I don’t want to say, “it’s sooooooo good,” and sound so basic, if you will, for lack of a better word, but that is one way to describe it. Now I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before and I haven’t searched my own blog to check, but thrillers are not my favorite thing to read or watch. Needless to say, I made an exception for this book. That black rose on the cover intrigued me, to say the least, in a way that I was drawn to the idea that pretty things like pretty girls have not just a layer of dark secrets, but a layer of ugly. This layer is hidden underneath, waiting to be pulled back. So you see, I had to turn the pages to find what I was looking for, especially when the back cover claimed this girl had the perfect life.

Spoiler alert: she did not. But she does break it down to you slowly what happened in her past, using flashbacks and jumping back and forth between the past and the present. When she gets to the “aha!” moment, you feel so bad for what happened to her, her secret layer, you wish no girl has to ever go through what she went through as a teen and you wonder if a girl like her is really lucky to be alive. But then again, if she had not survived, there’d be no girls out there who could lend a voice to all the other girls out there who experienced the same kind of horror.

Because you see, this book may have been fiction, and I have never met the author or was present in her life when she was younger, but there is some raw truth in here that if you have not gone through what she has gone through you would want to listen and reach out.