Things I’ve Learned, Things to Come, and New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody!

2017 is approaching and in just less than two hours, 2016 will have flitted away and the new year will be here to take its place!

I feel as though 2016 has been a very enlightening year for me. It was very… epiphany-filled. I realized a lot of things and learned a lot of this. So, as the end of the year and the new year approacheth, I thought I would share what I’ve learned!

So! Things I’ve learned in this very enlightening year! I have three main ones that have been huge, huge epiphanies.

1.Awareness 

I’ve realized this year that awareness is such an important thing to have in your life. And in particular, self-awareness. Being aware of what you do, what you say, how you behave, and especially being aware of how you are perceived by others is so so incredibly important. Why? Because if you aren’t aware of yourself, how can you ever know what to change? How to make yourself a better person?

Awareness is the first step to change.

For example, I am prone to hanger. I was not aware of this however for a while. I used to get really defensive and lash out any time anyone suggested I was cranky or irritable because I was hungry. I thought it was an implication that I was always looking for food/was a fatty. Anyways, one time after I’d gotten irritated with my mother, she asked me “Are you hungry?” Of course, I lashed out, thinking that the notion was absolutely ridiculous. Usually, I dismissed this idea immediately, but for whatever reason, I thought about this later on that day. And that was when I first even entertained the possibility that my mom was right and I had been cranky because I was hungry. And after even more thought, I realized she was right. Ever since then, I’ve become aware of my hanger and am much better at controlling my irritability.

I know that sounds like a silly story, but I really mean it. You can’t change (for either better or for worse) if you aren’t aware that you need to change.

2. First Impressions and Trusting Your Instincts

The original title of Ms. Austen’s novel that became Pride and Prejudice. Haha, I actually think about this a lot. While I do believe that first impressions can be misleading and that they can be woefully wrong, this past year, I have learned that first impressions are very important and actually say a lot about who you are as a person. I remember my 6th grade math teacher, Mr. Matson (a legend and one of my most impactful teachers), one time said that your first impressions are usually correct. I was actually surprised at the time. But you know what? He was right.

I only learned this this year. I used to feel so terrible about this when I’d meet a person and instinctively not like them, for whatever reason. Most of the time, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what exactly bothered me, so I felt incredibly judgmental and mean. I know myself to get annoyed easily, to judge people easily, to be very rigid in my thinking sometimes, and it is something that I try and work on, so for a long time, I’ve dismissed any misgivings I had.

But this year, through both personal and secondary experience, I learned to trust my instincts. I’ve found that even if, at first, I can’t quite tell why I dislike a person or why a person is rubbing me the wrong way, it usually is for a reason.

Yet. You still have to remain open-minded. It’s really easy to close up and forget everything around you and only see inside your bubble. It’s a hard balance and I’m still learning how to do this, but I think it’s something really important to consider.

In other words: Trust your gut, but give the benefit of the doubt.

3. Deception Never Works

It may work for some time, but deception always fails. Always. There is a quote from Sherlock that says:

“Do you know the big problem with a disguise, Mr. Holmes? However hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”

I love this quote because it really is true. You can’t hide who you are no matter how hard you try. Who you are will always bleed through. Your true intentions will bleed through.

If you want someone to praise you, it will show.

If you are bragging about something, it will show.

If you are begging for attention, it will show.

I’ve seen many people this year–some that I know personally, some that I know only distantly–do this to some degree. But guess what? No matter how much you try and hide your true intentions, they will show.

***

They may not seem like much, but these have been huge, huge life-changing lessons for me. I don’t know how or why 2016 was such a big year in terms of epiphanies, but I’m glad for it. And I hope learning about these things will ultimately make me a better person.

So, now I’d like to share with you my resolutions. I usually post my goals here and now that I think of it, I don’t know if I’ve genuinely ever made New Year’s resolutions. Well, 2017’s the year!

1.Awareness

I’m sensing a theme… Hahah, like I said, I’ve learned this to be a very important thing and I’m still learning to become more aware of myself and how my behaviors might effect other people. I can be quite rude and callous sometimes–a lot of the times without even realizing it–and I want to change this. I know for a fact I’ve said hurtful things to my brother without thinking twice about how he might feel. A lot of this stems from my inherent belief that people don’t care what I think or say (especially when it comes to my brother), but I’ve learned that what I do and what I say do have an impact and I need to be aware of that. I’ve said some things in the heat of the moment that I regret when I think back upon them and I don’t want to say or do any more things that hurt anyone. It really won’t be easy, but that’s why I’m going to be working on this in 2017 and probably the rest of my life.

2. Be More Forgiving

And by “Be More Forgiving” what I really want to say is, “Be Less Spiteful and Petty.” Haha. Because I am. And this one is another really hard one for me. I’m not sure why I have a tendency to be spiteful and petty, but it’s there. I think it might come from stubbornness and pride?

Either way, this is something I want to get better at. Another thing I realized this year is that my mom and I are more similar that I gave credit for. I’ve always believed my mother and me to be vastly different people, almost opposites, and because of this, I believed us to butt heads sometimes. While this isn’t entirely incorrect, I’ve learned that the reason why we get into big disagreements sometimes is because we are too different in some ways, but more importantly, much too similar in other ways. For example… We are both petty and spiteful.

My mom and I had a time this year when we didn’t speak to each other and barely saw each other for an entire week because we were both so angry. Neither one of us wanted to cave and we both refused to apologize and forgive for what we had done.

I thought of this lyric from, Beauty and the Beast.

“Then somebody bends, unexpectedly.”

Hahah, in our case, neither one of us was willing to bend. And this is what I want to try and get better at. Because what did that accomplish? Absolutely nothing. It only wasted our time and energy. And especially because I love my mom and my relationship with her is something that I will keep forever (in contrast to someone I might be willing to let go.)

Anyways, this is what I want to work on. Not just with my mom, but in general. This one is going to be incredibly hard for me. Even today, I had a tough moment where I almost let anger and spite win out. Luckily, (at least today), it didn’t work. And it really was hard. But it’s possible and the more I do it, the better I’ll get!

[Note: All said and done, learning this about my mother and me was actually a very fun revelation because it was one I never would have expected! But I’m really glad for it because I can’t wait to see what it will do to our relationship!]

All righty… As I finish this post, it is now two short minutes till midnight, till the new year. I’m so grateful for all that I’ve learned this year and I can’t wait to see what the new one will bring me. New Years is one of my favorite times of year. I love the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning, of a clean slate. I am always excited by the days to come and ready for all the possibilities (no matter how cheesy that may sound).

And the clock strikes midnight!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! ❤

Let this be a good one!

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A New Direction

Hi everyone!!

So last week, I was at Leviosa Con where I got to pitch to some wonderful, wonderful agents. Pitch sessions can be nerve-wracking, but the best part of it always is being able to talk with the agents one-on-one and getting know them personally, rather than through a computer screen. It’s always such a great experience and I’m super happy with how my pitch sessions went this time around. I learned a lot from them, but most of all, I came away with very valuable advice.

One of the agents I pitched to asked me what my next project was and so I told her about one of the ideas I’ve been playing around with. It’s an idea I got about a year ago (almost exactly, funnily enough) and one of the ideas I’m most excited about. So, I was happy to hear that this agent found my idea interesting as well and in fact, said she was more interested in this new project than my current one. She gave her reasons for it, which I very much agreed with as they were things that had been running through my mind as well.

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking a lot, a lot, a lot about the advice I was given. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. It resonated with me so much.

So after much, much deliberation, I’ve decided to put Faerie Story aside and focus on my new project.

[Fun side note: Faerie Story no longer has faeries in it, but that’s a conversation for later!!]

It wasn’t an easy decision to make in that I feel like I’ve worked on Faerie Story for a long time and put a lot of effort into it and it’s not fun to give that all up. It wasn’t easy in that my pride was saying NOOOOOOO YOU CAN’T STOP NOW. It wasn’t easy in that it kind of made me sad to think about shelving a project I’ve been working on for about a year now… BUT, it was an easy decision in that I think I knew where my heart lied (laid? lay?–I never know–EEP!!!!)

The advice this agent gave to me rang very true. It was something I had always thought about, but at the time, it was more important for me to learn to revise and stay with a project than skip to a new one, no matter how excited I was about it. However, things are different now. I’m confident that I can revise a project and stick with it even when things get hard, which no doubt, they always do. I’m a little frightened by this new course I’m taking and it definitely is nerve-wracking, but in the end, I’m content with my decision and I really think I’m making the right decision for me. I’m really excited about it and it’s a story idea that I’ve loved from the very beginning–most likely my favorite idea. It’s never happy-making to abandon a project, but it’s not going to be for always. I love Faerie Story enough that I know that it is something I will go back to. It’s just not the right project for me right now.

Soooooo, onwards and upwards! I’m excited about this new direction and I’m excited to see where it will take me! It’s going to be a long journey, but I feel good about it!

Anyways, I just feel like I needed to write this post and officially get it out in the air. A kind of good-bye post to Faerie Story and hello to what I will now be referring to as Fox Story.

As always, thank you for reading my crazy ramblings!

A particular shout-out to my loveliest, bestest, wisest friend and incredible CP, Amanda, who gave me the advice I needed to get going in this new direction and, especially, for being excited about it! <33333333 It was everything I needed hear and more!!!

 

Progress Report: Draft 6 Week 2 (6/2016-6/26/16)

WEEK 2:

WIP: OOTW

Weekly Word Count: 10,183/17,500

Monday: 1,565/2,000

I set a higher-than-normal goal for myself today because of my YASSS GONNA WRITE ALL THE WORDS determination. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make my goal. I had a little later-than-usual start time for work, so I did manage to get in about 400 words or so in the morning. However, I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep over the past week or so, so after lunch today, I took a nap and OMG I slept for a half an hour longer than I meant to. I woke up SUPER groggy (bleh) and had to wait about a half an hour for my head to clear again (I also drank some iced tea!) I was about to start writing when my dad came home, not realizing that he was supposed to pick up Husker Pups from daycare (*clutchy face emoji*). So, my mother sent me to fetch Husker Pups and by the time I got home, it was time for dinner. So with all that going on, I didn’t get to start writing until around 6:30pm. All in all, I’m still feeling pretty good about how much I wrote and how it went. A little jerkier than my previous chapter, but I’m hoping it’ll smooth itself out and gather some momentum as I keep going. I’m going to try and stick to my higher word counts this week, but we’ll see how that goes!

Tuesday: 3,005/2,000

All in all, a pretty steady, flowy writing day for me. It was super exciting because I unexpectedly got the day off work, so yaaaaaay! Writing all the words!!! Anyways, I feel pretty good about what I wrote and I’m happy with the progress I’m making!

Wednesday: 3,023/3,000

Yay! Another pretty solid day! I had a great time working on this scene/chapter! It wasn’t the easiest scene to write at first, but once I got into it, I really started liking it! It also took me down some paths that I didn’t expect it to, but in a really great way! As always, happy to be making progress! I met my goal a little bit earlier than usual so I rewarded myself by watching a bunch of Leigh Bardugo interviews for a few hours and somehow by the end of it, I was watching Phantom of the Opera videos, which is kind of funny because Leigh once told me that she HATES Phantom of the Opera and Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, it kind of broke my heart to hear that, but it’s okay because Six of Crows killed me anyway!) So very ironic that Leigh Bardugo and Phantom somehow got linked on YouTube.

Thursday: 590/1,500

Friday: 0/3,000

Saturday: ~500/3,000

Sunday: ~1,500/3,000

Oh boy guys… Did not do so well this week. The first part of the week was fine–great, actually, but then, I hit a bit of a schnag halfway through the week, which was actually a result of many things. The first was that I made a wrong turn in my ms and it took a little bit of time for me to figure out how the scene/chapter actually should have played out. That meant deleting words and rewriting a couple of chapters I had written, which is always hard to face, but I’ve done it now and it’s all good (or at least, dear God, I hope it is!!!!!) The other one was that I was exhausted. I hadn’t been getting much sleep at all and it finally caught up to me. I was so completely slammed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So sleepy and tired. So I slept most of the weekend.

I’ll admit, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to write as much (although, woah, granted, I made a pretty high goal for myself, looking back….). This week was pretty optimal in that I had very little work. Unfortunately things don’t always pan out the way you want them to (in fact, the days where I plan to do the most writing are usually the ones where I get the least writing done…). Anyways, hitting a rough patch happens in every manuscript and while it has taken away from my momentum, I’m determined to get it back! If there’s anything that you learn from writing is that you don’t let the bad days define your writing. I’ve been obsessively watching Leigh Bardugo interviews latelyand she talks about momentum a lot and how important it is to not let a bad day become a bad week become a bad year and on and on. I FULLY believe that. SO HARD. It’s very easy to go into what I call “spiraling”. It’s easy to pile on the bad things and just focus on everything that is going wrong in your life. I’ve definitely had those days where I’ve thought “everything sucks right now and everything in my life that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.” It’s true that there are bad days. And as cheesy as it sounds, you’ve got to stay positive. It’s very easy to go spiraling if you let yourself. Not to say that staying positive when times are tough is easy, but it’s what you have to aim for.

Like Ron Weasley says, “DON’T LET THE MUGGLES GET YOU DOWN!”

(The Muggles being bad days in this case 😉 )

Anyways, wow… I did not mean to go all gung-ho on you guys, but I guess I needed to get that out there! Here’s to a better week and hopefully even finishing up this new section!!

HOORAH!!!!!!

How Kat Nabbed her Agent Beth

IT HAS HAPPENED AGAIN!!!! Some of the best news you can get is when you hear something amazing happening to one of your writing friends! If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that at RT 2016, I got to meet some new writer friends whom I absolutely adore with all my oomph! One of those writers was KAT!!! And, yup, you guessed it… KAT IS NOW SIGNED WITH BETH PHELAN OF THE BENT AGENCY!!!! How amazing is that?? (If you want to read about how Kat got her agent, I shall direct you to this link here!)

She is hilarious, guys! Super fun and friendly in the best way possible! You know how you meet someone and you instantly have Good Vibes about them? Yup, this was Kat! (And her cousin, Axie–hi, Axie!!!) In addition to being a cool person, she also writes AMAZING AMAZING stories! And the cherry on top? OMG ANOTHER BIG BANG FAN!!!!!!! Sooooooo, you know, that pretty much sealed the deal: Kat is cool.

 

giphy

 

Kat has wonderfully agreed to do a little interview for me regarding how she got her agent!! Without further ado… Here it is!!!

 

1.Kaaaaaaat!!!! Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you became a writer, and what you write!!

I was born on a brisk November evening in the western suburbs of Boston…

But, seriously. I’ve been writing practically since I was born. My sister would write stories and I’d illustrate them. Then sometimes, my cousin and I would write stories together (actually the same story over and over where we invented a time machine and went back to the time of the dinosaurs).

And then I started to write Mossflower/Redwall fan fiction because who doesn’t like mice living in an abbey eating all the food they eat. I also wrote books about horses because I wanted to be a horse jockey.

Anyway…what was I talking about? Oh yea, my writing.

My current MS is based on Korean mythology of the gumiho: a nine-tailed fox that has lived for over a thousand years and can shift into a beautiful woman. She must devour the livers of men to continue to live forever. So, you know a feel-good rom-com 😉

Anyway, my MC is a gumiho who is conflicted between her need to kill to survive and her desire to be loved. This all comes to a head when her secret is revealed to a human boy who is the opposite of her personality wise. He’s carefree and fun-loving and doesn’t take anything seriously. This kind of clashes with her need to control everything in her life. So, they fall in love and people get hurt because of her secret. It’s very very angsty.

 

2.What is your favorite part about writing? 

There are A LOT of things I love about writing.

Writing is my therapy. It helps me to get the crazy out of my head so I am not kept up at night. I’m a generally anxious person, so if I can purge my mind of the millions of thoughts then it helps and writing is a very direct way for me to do that. I used to keep a dream journal, and that thing is cuckoo crazy-town. But also, potentially good fodder for future stories, who knows.

Writing is also something that I’ve loved since I was a child. It’s a way that my sister and I “played.” If there was a story that I loved I would get sad when it ended. So my sister would solve that by writing more stories based on that story. She pretty much wrote 7-year-old fanfic for me. Hahaha. So writing has always been something in my family and has been a way for my sister and I to express ourselves. It’s funny because she actually has a book coming out this year and I am so stoked for her. I’m going to bake a cake with her book cover on it.

And finally, my current journey of writing brought me one of my new loves: writing community. People like ERIN! Wheeee! I absolutely adore the writers I’ve met. I obviously idolize my hero authors that are making the stories I’ve always read. But meeting and learning about aspiring authors and people who are in the trenches with me is inspiring! I love to hear other people’s ideas and stories. I love brainstorming. I love fangirling. I love knowing that people with a shared dream can come together and support each other through all the crazy that is publishing. It’s so thrilling to be accepted into a world like this.

 

3.What’s your daily writing routine like? 

Okay, I’ll only tell you this if you don’t tell my boss…

I sometimes write at work (hides under desk!)

The reason being that I’m a pantser at heart. When I get an idea I HAVE to write it down in its entirety and it just pulls me into a scene. I can’t plot and think things through until I have words on a page.

So, some days I’ll probably write half of the day and be actively in front of the computer typing away like a madwoman. I’ve had some 5,000 word days like that. Then there could potentially be days or weeks of no words because I just don’t have the inspiration. Those days I use for revisions. For me, revisions are a slower and more thoughtful time. I’ll definitely think through everything and actually set aside time for those. Usually at night because I’m a night owl. And almost always on my couch even though I have a whole office I’ve set up.

I like to write with music playing. I don’t want to make myself sound too nerdy, but I listen to K-pop. Not because my book is in Korea, but because I love it. And also because I can’t necessarily listen to music with English lyrics because it’ll distract me. In the same vein, I’ll have K-Dramas playing in the background sometimes when I write. For Gumiho, I rewatched all of School 2013 because I adore that show and the actors and I love the atmosphere of it.

 

4.Did you know that this book was The One? 

Because a wizard came down from the mountain and bestowed upon me the ancient prophecy that my WiP was THE ONE. Also, because my book was born on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year.

But seriously, it’s actually because I was TERRIFIED to write this book. Just was sooo concerned it would be too much for people to take (because I use Korean setting, culture and words and I don’t necessarily define everything). But despite that I still felt like I HAD to write it. So, I just wrote it piece by piece thinking if it became too much I’d set it aside. And suddenly I had a full book with characters I couldn’t let go of and I had to share it because I loved it that much.

 

5.What was the hardest part about querying? 

The hardest part was to GET myself to query this time around. I queried about 2.5 years ago. It was a sad time in my life. I was not prepared for querying or for the industry in general.

I wrote a book that wasn’t that good. I mean, I still like it, but it will never ever see the light of day in its current form. But that book means something big to me. It’s the first book that I really revised. I got my first Critique Partners with that book. I got a whole critique group with that book. I went to my first conference with it and I pitched agents for the first time with that book (one of whom was Beth! Symmetry!)

So anyway, I queried that book. That querying process took about a year from start to finish. The reason being that everyone rejected it. And rejections sometimes take awhile to roll in.I finally went back and looked at my abysmal stats for this book:

 

– Slush queried = 34 agents

– Conference queried = 4 agents

– Average Response time = 39 days

– Fastest response time = 0 days

– slowest response time = 388 days

– requests = 3 partials

– rejections = 23

– CNR = 15

 

Don’t you FEEL BAD FOR ME?! Just kidding. I actually think this is a mild round of rejections. But for me, I was devastated. Really thought I’d at least get more requests. I have theories for why not, but I won’t bore you guys with them. The lesson is that I didn’t do well in this querying round. I had very low interest in my MS. And I worried that it was because I am a bad writer. It was a very sad time for me.

I gave up a little bit. Not completely, but enough that I wallowed for too long and got insane writer’s block. I tried to start 2 different WiPs that I could not finish for the life of me. And I started to just sink deeper into a hole of writing depression.

I’m not saying this to make anyone feel bad for me. I’m saying this because I think this can happen all too often. I think that I am not the only one that took my first rejections badly. And I hope that my initial failure might be helpful for someone else going out into the query trenches.

Anyway, because of this I DID NOT want to query my current MS. I loved it so much! Way more than I loved my last MS and I would have been really sad if no one liked it.

I tried to dip my toes in my submitting it to a couple of competitions and mentorship programs. And I got rejected from ALL of them. Not a good feeling. I don’t necessarily consider myself an award-winning writer, but it still stung as all rejections do in something so personal like writing.

However, the story obviously ends happily. Just keep reading!

 

6.What was getting The Call like? 

Surreal. You know that moment when you go on a really good first date and you just keep smiling because you really like this guy/girl but then you think, “Oh no! I look like a crazy person, they’ll think I’m insane!”

That was me on The Call. I got the email for the call on a Thursday and was so flustered that I asked to have the call on Friday instead. Because I was so certain I needed to compile a list of questions (which I did).

Then the call happened and I had set up my desk so carefully that you’d think I was the most organized person in the universe (hint: I’m not). I had a notebook, THREE pens (why did I need three?!), my list of questions and a separate sheet of loose-leaf paper (you know, in case my notebook spontaneously combusted).

The agent started out with talking to me about DVPit and a conference we’d previously met at. It was nice, a bit of small talk to get the nerves out and it worked. I really liked that because it made me feel like it wasn’t all business all the time. It was a more organic and easy conversation. Of course, it shifted into the conversation about my MS. This was nerve wracking and wonderful at the same time.

Again, going back to the date analogy. It’s like when you’re sitting on a date and the other person suddenly goes, “You know, I think you’re so pretty and smart, and the way that you told that joke was really spot on, I laughed so hard.” It’s just fun-times compliment city and I basked in it hard core. Of course, then they go into the notes they have on revisions. That doesn’t have a date analogy, because I’ve never been on one where the guy goes “Well, could you have picked a nicer cardigan maybe?” And if anyone has, I’d tell them to leave that date immediately. But for The Call, it’s important to know what parts of the MS the agent thinks might need tweaking.

I loved talking about the revisions because I’m a glutton for punishment, haha. No, I’m actually just a realist and I know that any MS isn’t perfect and could probably use a little polishing before sub (Ahhhh! Sub!!!)

Anyway, by the end I was just super happy. Stoked about what the future had to hold. And then I stressed out about sending the “I got an offer” emails to other agents.

 

7.How did you know your agent was The One? 

Because a wizard…oh wait, I already said this one.

Okay, for real, it’s because of many factors. It helped that she was always on my list, like since I queried my first MS a million years ago. I also met her at that first fated conference I went to two years ago, so I knew she was cool people.

Finally, it was probably the call. There were things she said about my work and about my book that really clicked with me. What I liked were the things she said that were critical. Not saying that she said my book was bad, but that it definitely still needed some revisions (which I knew). And she didn’t sugar coat it, she just told me exactly what level of revisions she wanted for my work and allowed me to brainstorm with her for like 45 minutes on the ideas she brought up. It felt like we were already working together and it felt so comfortable and real and dynamic. I could totally see that being our agent/author relationship for years to come.

There were other factors (boring things like sales or career history or her MSWL, etc) but the biggies were my ability to click with her as an agent on the phone. (Not to say I didn’t click on my other call, I just had a gut feeling about Beth from jump).

 

8.What advice do you have for writers in the query trenches? 

Do NOT give up! I really really mean this. If I had given up after my first query fail, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up after the next WiP went nowhere, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up after the next next WiP went nowhere, I wouldn’t be here. If I had given up when I lost a bunch of competitions/didn’t get mentorships with my current MS, I wouldn’t be here. It is definitely true when they say it only takes one. And I KNOW how frustrating that is, how you want to scream because you think “But I can’t even GET one!” Trust me, it can happen. You can get a dozen, a hundred, a thousand rejections and then just get one, and it’ll wipe the slate clean.

This beginning of our journey is hard because we feel like we’re alone. After you get an agent and then (hopefully) an editor, you have an industry professional to fight beside you. It’s amazing. But when you’re just starting out you feel like you’re floundering without anyone to guide you. This is where CP’s and mentors ARE INVALUABLE. Get Critique partners! Get Critique Groups. I have amazing CPs and beta readers. They’re my cheerleaders. They make me smile even when I feel like crying. They send me crazy GIFs (this is akin to sending any other person chocolate and wine. Actually, I’d also like to receive wine). Anyway, my message is that you are NEVER alone, not if you don’t want to be. So go out there and make friends and let them be the ones who pick you up if you feel like falling down.

Publishing can be like a snowball rolling downhill. You start as a tiny little snowflake and then you pick up knowledge and friends along the way. And then you’re a giant snow ball rolling through down, destroying mailboxes and all small creatures that stand in your way! Wait…where was I going with this?

 

Thanks so so much to Kat for doing this interview!!!! And as a tribute to Kat (and because I really really really can’t resist) here is a Big Bang video!!!

 

 

In Which Awesome Katy Talks About Getting Her New Agent

Remember how I mentioned that good things come in three?? WELL HERE IT IS PEOPLE!!! HERE IS THE THIRD GOOD THING!!!!!!! My beautiful friend and CP, Katy, IS NOW AGENTED!!!!!!!!! She is signed with the amazing Alexandra Machinist of ICM!!!!

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I love Katy and her work and I’m so so excited that she is now agented!! (OMG GUYS!!! THREE, THREE, OF MY BEAUTIFUL WRITER FRIENDS ARE NOW AGENTED!!!!!) I met Katy through some mutual CPs and I’m SOOOOO glad that we did!! Katy is genuinely such a cool and chill person with such a great personality. Plus she cracks me up with her jokes. And also, she has the best laugh ever! Oh! And, she is the best Sorting Hat ever (Yes! After a life of House-Ambiguity, I’m in Gryffindor!) and she is so wise (not joking, guys!) I’m so grateful and amazed that I get to call her my friend!!!!!!

Kay!!! Onwards and upwards! Here are the wonderful answers Katy imparted upon us!!!!

 

1.Hi, Katy!!!! Tell us a little bit about your beautiful self, what you write, and how you came to be a writer!!!

Is it very telling that I left this question until last when answering these? I am very bad at talking about myself, but here goes — I grew up in LA, now live in the Bay Area where I consume an unreasonable amount of coffee and spend way to much money at all the local independent bookstores here (shout out to Books Inc, Pegasus Books, and Laurel Bookstore!)

I have been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil (or sit at a computer, actually). I used to play elaborate pretend-games with my sister (think Sailor Moon but with unicorns, and also magic school?) and then I would go into my parent’s home office and continue our adventures in story form. I now write YA fantasy (more on that in a second), so my taste in stories hasn’t changed too much. I still love magic, adventure, and impossible things, but I’m now more interested in the people who inhabit those stories. I love characters who do the unexpected, whose capacity for love (or for evil!) surprise even themselves. I love stories where the choices start out hard, and only get harder. And the great thing about fantasy and sci-fi is that there’s so much opportunity to change and raise the stakes for your characters. 

 

2.What is your favorite part about writing?

I love a lot of things about writing, but process-wise I definitely enjoy revising more than I like drafting. My internal editor is such a burden while I’m writing a first draft. There’s this great Ira Glass clip that pops up on the internet every so often, about how beginning to create art can be so challenging because your taste is so much more sophisticated and fine-tuned than your talent. I definitely feel the pain of that most acutely while I’m drafting, when what I’m putting on the page isn’t close enough to my vision to satisfy that internal critic. It’s only later, going back through a draft, that I’m able to really dig in and find the gems that reflect what I want the story to really be, and chip away until I find it.

 

3.How many books did you write before you got your agent?

This was the first book that I completed, revised, and actually queried. Before this, I had written thousands of words of stories as a kid (as mentioned), lots of fanfiction as an adolescent, and a couple half-finished manuscripts here and there. But this was the first one that actually came together, and that I was serious enough about to actually finish, revise (and revise again…and again…and again) and start querying.

 

4.Did you know this book was The One?

I remember at one point telling my sister (during my first or second draft) that I was finally writing the book I had always wanted to write. So in a sense I think I did know that there was something special, or at least I knew that I loved this book enough to push through all the difficulties and challenges that come with writing. And I think that was really the key — it wasn’t that there was anything particularly trendy, or hook-y, or whatever with this project, it was just that I loved the characters and the story so much I was willing to do whatever it took to bring them to life.

 

 

5.How did you know Alexandra was The One?

It was two main things. The first was that, believe it or not, I pitched this book as an adult fantasy. And the first thing Alexandra said to me when we talked was “I love this — and I think it’s YA.” We had a long discussion about it, and everything she said made so much sense and I realized that I really did want to be writing YA (I read mostly YA, all of my CPs write YA, all of my prospective future projects were YA). So when we hung up I had this moment of realizing that she had seen something about this book that I hadn’t, and that she was totally, 100% right about it. It also made it clear that she loved my writing enough to really put in all the work it would take to get this book where it needed to be.

The second thing was that in talking to her, and a couple of her clients, I saw how amazing she was at her job. When an agent talks to you on the phone, she’s really trying to sell you on working with her, the same way she’d try to sell an editor on buying your book. And I could tell right away that she was amazing at it. She was so charming, smart, and funny, and underneath all that I could tell that she was a TOTAL BADASS who would fight like hell for her authors.

6.How did you celebrate signing with your agent?

Haha, unfortunately nothing too exciting. I had just gotten back from Yallwest in LA and I’m getting ready to leave on another trip this weekend, so I took it easy. I hung out with my sister and caught up on Jane the Virgin. I did buy this fancy bottle of wine a few weeks ago in Napa with the intention of drinking it when I officially signed, so I still have that to look forward to!

 

7.What was the hardest part about querying? 

Writing the dang thing! I wrote and re-wrote it probably around 20 times — no exaggeration. To be honest, I actually really enjoyed the query process itself. I mean, obviously there’s a lot of waiting, and rejections can be disheartening, but regardless of the outcome, querying this project meant taking a HUGE step forward in my writing career. Rejections and requests alike both made the whole thing feel more real, and I learned a lot from the whole experience. 

 

8.What advice do you have for writing slugging it in the query trenches?

Ok, so first the nitty-gritty advice: you can never do too much research. I started researching agents loooooooong before I had anything remotely queryable, so by the time I did have a finished, polished manuscript, I already knew a ton about the agents I wanted to query, about publishing in general, and about the process itself (it is not always 100% super straight forward! Many strange –sometimes wonderful– things can happen in the query trenches!)

And my other piece of advice, especially for those querying a book for the first time, is to remember that the fact that you’re querying means you’ve already done a LOT of hard work (you WROTE A BOOK), that you’re brave for putting yourself out there, and that you’re taking a real, concrete step toward your goals. So regardless of how many rejections and requests you get, you should be proud for taking yourself and your work seriously.

 

Thank you so so much to Katy for answering these questions for me!!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am for Katy and Alexandra!!!! NOW EVERYONE PLEASE GO CONGRATULATE KATY!!!!!!! *PARTY PARTY*!!!!!

Interview with Mic On Getting Her Agent!!!

So, you know how they say good things come in three?? First, Janella signed with her agent, and now OMG MY TALENTED AND AMAZING FRIEND MIC SIGNED WITH HER AGENT, THE WONDERFUL HEATHER FLAHERTY FROM THE BENT AGENCY!!!

How crazy is this guys? Not just one of my friends getting an agent, but TWO!!!! Two of my seriously talented friends have agents (and this is no surprise considering how hard they’ve worked and how amazing they are!) (Okay, so I know this are only two good things, but who knows!!!!! Maybe someone else is signing as we speak! More good things are sure to come!)

Anyways, Mic, who is a wonderful human being and friend and is always up for the best and worst of flailing about books and authors, answered a few questions for me!!! Well, here goes!!!

 

1.So, Mic!!! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a writer and what you write!

Hi Erin 🙂 Thank you so much for having me! I’m a born and raised New Yorker–so I walk fast, take immense pride in my subway knowledge, and can’t sleep in silence. I’m a fangirl of all things Disney, Broadway, and books. Oh, and Food Network. I also really like penguins. I’m happiest at a concert, by the water, or with tea.

I just kind of fell into writing. When I was little, I used to make up stories my best friend and I would act out. We called it The Imagination Game–and to this day I still suck at naming stuff. Then a little thing called High School Musical happened when I was 10 and… I started writing fanfiction. I wish I could say I started with Harry Potter fanfiction, but it was HSM. I carried around a binder all through middle school and wrote during class and all the boys would ask me what I was writing. I don’t remember what I said. I probably lied. Eventually, I stopped writing fanfic and started wondering if I could maybe write my own stuff. Now, I write YA and bounce between contemporary and fantasy mostly, but am musing on a sci-fi idea right now.

 

2.Did you know this book was The One? 

Maybe. I’m not sure exactly. I definitely felt like it was something special and I loved working on it. Everything kind of feels like The One when I’m writing, though. It kind of has to for me, in order to push through the days when all the words suck or a scene isn’t working.

 

3.What’s your favorite part about writing? 

I really love voice. I love building it and uncovering all its quirks. I especially love when I’m editing in the later stages and read a scene and immediately know, “My character wouldn’t say this, that’s why this doesn’t sound right/is boring.” Voice and character for me are what tend to hook me when I’m reading, and it’s definitely what hooks me when writing, too. I also love funny or awkward character dynamics, especially when characters who are opposites or enemies have to work together. As much as I love characters being adorable together and getting along, there’s also something wonderful about different kinds of relationships.

 

4.What was the hardest part about querying? 

Hmm… maybe staying confident? There are definitely days that are dark and horrible, and then other days that are euphoric. The waiting is also hard, but publishing is one long waiting game, and querying is the first taste of it.

 

5.How did you know that you found the right agent? 

Oh man, beware: Gushing Ahead. I felt so right about Heather the moment she emailed me back telling me she’d move some stuff around so we could have our call, despite my timeline being inconvenient for her. Right away I felt like she cared if she was going to make me a priority before even speaking to me. I felt so comfortable emailing back and forth with her from the beginning, which put me at ease before our call. Then when we finally spoke she was so spot on about little details in my manuscript and we eventually just started talking about other things. At some point during the call I just kind of knew I was going to sign with her, and it was the best feeling in the world.

 

6.How did you celebrate getting an agent?

I bought myself a bunch of books? I didn’t actually really do anything, which now sounds so horrible! But I had a biopsych exam the day we announced, so was kind of in class while my phone went insane and the Twitter app actually died on me. All the outpouring of love and support I got was kind of already the best celebration.

But back to those books I mentioned! Emery Lord was here for her launch event, so I bought myself ALL of her books! I figured I’d earned it, plus I love her, so I knew a signed collection was a good investment. Heather actually got notes to me just a few days after accepting, so I got right back into editing like nothing had happened. Heather’s notes and ideas actually made me fall back in love with my manuscript and see new sides to it, and that too, was its own wonderful celebration.

 

7.What advice do you have for writers digging it in the query trenches? 

FIND YOUR PEOPLE! Seriously, find the people who love you and your words and just cling to them for dear life. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the Pitch Wars group, my CPs, and friends cheering me on and boosting my confidence whenever I felt low. Also, I know it’s hard, but write something new. It’ll make you feel better to know you have something else going on and you are capable of more words (and you ARE capable of more words). Know that agents are not out there to crush your dreams. Don’t read too much into form responses. Try to stay positive, do things that make you happy, take time away from stalking your inbox. It’s hard, but love yourself, and your time will come.

Thanks so much, Mic, for doing this!!! I hope you guys enjoyed this!!! NOW EVERYONE PLEASE CONGRATULATE MIC ON HER NEW AGENT!!!!!!

A Love Letter to The Winner’s Curse

As you might know, I’m a huge fan of The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. And having read the last book in the series, The Winner’s Kiss, just about a week ago, I think I might actually be dead. I don’t think there are words for how much I love these books.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Kestrel and Arin since I finished the book. In fact, immediately after I finished The Winner’s Kiss, I opened up The Winner’s Curse and started rereading. Which is funny because that is exactly what happened last year when I finished The Winner’s Crime. These seem to be books that my love only grows stronger for with time and with each new book that comes out, which I think is a rarity. I’ve come to love The Winner’s Curse so much. I feel overwhelmed with how much these books mean to me and I cannot believe how much I love them.

While I had a couple books that I’d planned to read after finishing The Winner’s Kiss, I just don’t think I can do it. I’m still so stuck in this world that I can’t possibly move on yet. So inevitably, I’ll be ditching my current queue of books lined up for me and rereading The Winner’s Crime and possibly even The Winner’s Kiss and then maybe even back around full circle to The Winner’s Curse.

But most importantly, The Winner’s Curse is inspiring my writing so much. It’s not just the beautiful prose, but the way the plot was executed, the way the characters think, the subtleties, the incredible world-building. Everything about it is inspiring so much. I want to soak it all up. I feel SO INSPIRED right now.

I don’t think it’s too often when I (or really anybody else) feel this way. Sometimes there are books I love, but just instinctively know that I would never be able to write like that (ex: Maggie Stiefvater. I LOVE her books, but I know for a fact that I could never write like her), other times there are books where you enjoy the story, but the writing doesn’t quite speak to you, and then there are times when the story and writing just completely blows you away. Books like The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh or Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

It’s always rare to find a book that changes your life. You might read A TON, but there are so many books that you connect with completely and that change your life! I feel like I have been changed by The Winner’s Curse. Both in terms of writing and reading. Like I said, I can’t even begin to explain how much I love these books. I really don’t know how except in incessant sobbing. I’m so incredibly excited to meet Marie Rutkoski in just a few days now. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that I’m going to be crying all over her. (Oh, and to compound that, I’ll also be meeting Renee Ahdieh, so even more tears.)

BUT OMG GUYS THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK!!!!! (Here come the waterworks!) How will I ever get over this? Sniff. Help!

Well, thanks for trudging through this insane amount of rambling! (What a great start to a Friday!!!!)

And I’d love to know, what are some books that have greatly inspired you???