Sunday, April 5, 2020

Poem: Fog

We’ve had some particularly sunny days lately. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of rain—a thunderstorm even hit. We got tornado warnings, and the river flooded. But overall, the weather has been nice. Still, I was inspired to write this poem by two things: one foggy afternoon where I found myself transplanting my pansies as soon as I could and all the craziness in the world right now.

I don’t think I mentioned it here, but the COVID-19 has shut down my workplace for at least a month. I’m fortunate enough to be financially stable and have family at home, but I have plenty of friends who are struggling financially or socially. I think we’re all struggling mentally. I’m going stir crazy. I read. I write. I try to get out of the house and work in the garden, but some days, it just isn’t enough.

The world is an uncertain place these days, even more so than usual. So, as writers do, I wrote about it.


Fog

It’s hard to think
that yesterday
I stepped out in a world
bathed in sunshine
and today
the white expanse
bares all my work
like words sketched
in a thought bubble.

remember how I
uncovered the dead wood
and exposed the black salamander,
how the rain washed
away the topsoil
I carefully laid
to prevent floods
that came anyway.

I hang the ferns
and walk from the porch
to the mailbox,
unable to see one
from the other,
my hand near translucent
in front of my face,
yet I take another step
and wonder
what I’ll find
around the hundred trees.

I stare into the white abyss
and listen
for the birdsong
but none comes.
maybe tomorrow—
but not today.

***

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What are some activities you do to cope with being cooped up at home?

Similar poems: Waking Up, Lost as a Leaf, and Silent Words

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Never Have I Ever" Writer Tag

Time for another tag! These posts are a lot of fun because they don’t require a lot of work because it’s interesting to compare everybody’s answers. I borrowed this tag from C. G. Drews @ Paper Fury. If you haven’t visited her blog, I highly recommend it! And be sure to check out her contemporary YA novels, A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses, while you’re at it. They’re so good!


Never have I ever…

…started a novel that I didn’t finish.


I wish. There are countless drafts floating out there on some hard drive, never to be completed.

…written a story completely by hand.


Do short stories count, or are we talking just novels here? I’m going to assume we’re just talking about novels. If that’s the case, no I have not. I tried a couple novels ago, but got so frustrated, I gave up and finished it on my computer. Oh yeah, and it took me nearly a year to write the stupid thing. That’s not to say I won’t be handwriting anything ever again, but a novel? Not anytime soon, thank you.

…changed tenses midway through a story.


Hahaha! Guilty.

…not researched anything before starting a story.


Yes and no. I’ll do a little bit of preliminary research while I’m outlining, but the majority of my research comes after the first draft. By that point, I have a good idea of what I need to learn about, so I’ll go figure out the facts. This method works for me because I write sci-fi/fantasy, but if I were to write something like historical fiction, I’m sure I would have to do my research beforehand.

…changed my protagonist’s name halfway through a draft.


Sort of. Character names are wonderful things. They’re also the bane of my writer existence, right up there with spelling. Wat are words? I’m terrible at naming characters, and I once had an antagonist go through an entire draft as (AN)—my easy-to-find-and-replace version for Antagonist Name. I don’t like parenthesis, so if I want to change something in the next draft, I’ll put it in parenthesis in the first.

…written a story in a month or less.


Yes, yes I have. I’m a two-time NaNoWriMo winner—one with camp in July, and one with the traditional in November. I’m currently querying the November novel.


Never have I ever……fallen asleep while writing.


No, actually, I haven’t.

…corrected someone’s grammar irl/online.


If we’re talking about on social media or in everyday conversation, no I have not. I don’t like grammar Nazis. But I was an English teacher for a bit, so yes, I have helped teach kids about grammar both online and in person.

…yelled in all caps at myself in the middle of a novel.


I don’t think so? But I do write notes to myself in parentheses. Often times, notes look something like this:

(Editing me, I’ve changed the plot from here on out. Sorry, not sorry. Details…)

…used “I’m writing” as an excuse.


To avoid replying to people on social media: yes. To avoid doing things with my family: no. They interrupt me all the time.

…killed a character that was based on someone I know in real life.


Yes. As a teenager, I came close to killing off a character based off a crush and another based off my brother, but I never did. Am I not merciful? Then I turned around and killed another character based on a crush. Beware, gentlemen. Nowadays, I don’t base characters off real people, though I do steal borrow elements.

…used pop culture references in a story.


Yes, I have. I once named a character Genesis after the Genesis program from Star Trek: Wrath of Khan. You’re welcome.

…written between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.


Probably. I don’t remember.

…drank an entire pot of coffee while writing.


No, I haven’t. I’m a little more sensitive to caffeine because I like to wean myself off coffee every now and then, so if I had that much coffee, I wouldn’t be writing. I’d be bouncing off the walls.

…written down dreams to use in potential novels.


I’ve thought about it, but no, I haven’t.

 …published an unedited story on the internet/blog/Wattpad.


Nope. Everything. Must. Be. Edited.


Never have I ever…

…forgotten to save my work/draft.


Yes. I once lost an entire chapter because my computer crashed while I was writing. Now I have a better computer, and I back up my work as soon as I finish for the day.

…typed so long that my wrists hurt.


No, though I have biked so long my wrists hurt.

…spilled a drink on my laptop while writing.


Guilty. I managed to re-color the wall too. Whoops.

…finished a novel.


I’ve finished several. Though if you want me to count them… hold on… I’ve written nine total. Unless you count Last of the Memory Keepers, my collection of novelettes that together equal a novel, in which case that makes ten.

…laughed like an evil villain while writing a scene.


Eh, no. Though emotions often do affect me while writing, I don’t actually like torturing my characters. I feel like a terrible person once I have.

…cried while writing a scene.


No, most of my emotion goes into the story itself, and if it does happen to be a sad scene, I don’t really cry.

…created maps of my fictional worlds.


I write fantasy and as such enjoy creating maps. My print version of Last of the Memory Keepers features a map, though Origami Swan does not. How do you map a Labyrinth that constantly changes?

…researched something shady for a novel.


You know that old joke about how the FBI would question a writer’s search history? Well, I’ve researched things like how far somebody can fall without dying (it’s pretty high, but there are so many variables), blood loss (I feel like this one is a given for some genres), intoxication tolerance (depends on the person), et cetera. I also like to talk to whoever is listening in on my smartphone, though for some reason, they never respond. Big brother is listening…

Finally, for the tags:
I choose you! Have fun.

Let’s chat! How many of these have you never done? Ever done? Have you ready any of C. G. Drews’ books yet?

***

Sunday, March 22, 2020

7 Books with One Main Setting

Hey, guys. I’m back!!! In light of recent events, I’ve decided to pick up blogging again, at least for the month while I’m not working. *cue silent screams*

I was inspired by a post on Twitter that talked about self isolation that featured a bunch of indoor activities inspired by Rapunzel’s “When Will My Life Begin.” Actually, I’ve found when it comes to shows, some of my favorite episodes feature the main characters trapped in one setting. Whether it’s a bank heist or getting stuck on an elevator, the plot relies less on a physical journey and more on a personal one. So, I thought, if a lot of us are stuck at home and we like to read, what are some stories that feature characters in a similar predicament for different reasons?

Here goes!


1)     The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak


Liesel spends most of her time in the house of her foster parents, and soon, so does Max. But while Liesel gets to go outside and steal books and find trouble with Rudy, Max is stuck in the basement because he’s a Jew in hiding. I really enjoyed reading this book because it has such a unique writing style and good themes.


  • Recommended activities inspired by the story: reading, doing crossword puzzles, writing found poetry (not exactly featured in the book considering one character completely blanks out the entire text of Mien Kampf and writes over it, but you know what I mean).
  • Not recommended: making a snowman in your basement and staying in bed for days on end if you can avoid it.


2)     Gemina (The Illuminae Files, book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Hanna and Nik are among many of the characters stuck on Heimdall station when the BeiTech company takes over and starts killing people. I was tempted to include book 1, Illuminae, in the list, but it technically takes place aboard two ships and a planet, so Gemina it is. Come to think of it, a lot of sci-fi novels, especially ones with generational ships, only have one setting, but I just haven’t read them yet.


  • Recommended activities: fighting for to share the truth, even if it hurts.
  • Not recommended: dealing drugs, hacking, creeping through air vents, murder, and everything else that happens in this book.

3)     The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway


The whole story is basically about a man in a boat. But a lot can happen in just one boat in a wide, wide ocean. I enjoyed this one for various reasons, and while one could probably write an essay on its themes, I was reminiscent about Hawai’i from all the talk of fish.


  • Recommended activities: watching a livestream feed of an aquarium, like this one of the Monterey Bay.
  • Not recommended: fishing. That’s going to be a little hard to do from home, unless you have an aquarium, and in which case, please be nice to your pets!

4)     Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux


Man stalks an up-and-coming opera star, trying to find love after he’s been shunned his whole life because of a physical deformity. You’ve got the phantom of the opera, the girl at the opera, the guy, the guy who dies… a lot can happen at an opera. Sure, some of them venture outside on one occasion, but that’s about it. I like this book because it explores the dangers of prejudice, even if I don’t like it for that very same reason. If people weren’t such jerks, nobody would be in this mess!


  • Recommended activities: singing loudly (and badly, even if you can sing well).
  • Not recommended: kidnapping, stalking, murder, and basically everything else in the book.

5)     The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Sure, there’s a teensy bit of travel when Mary comes to live at the Misselthwaite Manor, but the rest of the story takes place there. Sure, you could count the manor itself and the garden outside as two separate settings, but come on, technicalities! An interesting story about what it means to discover not just a garden but friendships as well.


  • Recommended activities: gardening—SPRING IS HERE!!!

6)     The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicles, book 2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss


Auri was just a minor character in the rest of the series, but she’s the protagonist here. As she explores the underground tunnels that make up her home all by herself, she lives an unusual life. If you’re looking for a slow, meandering book, this one is it.


  • Recommended activities: making soap and looking forward to meeting up with a friend someday.
  • Not recommended: having some animal eat said soap.


7)     100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons


This book doesn’t completely take place in one setting, but it’s close. Due to a car accident, Tessa is blind, and as a result, is afraid to venture into the outside world again, at least until her sight returns… if it ever returns. And it’s such a great book about embracing life as it is, not as you wish it would be. 10/10 would recommend!


  • Recommended activities: writing, watching movies, cooking.
  • Not recommended: giving up.

A couple books that didn’t quite make the cut because they have too much traveling but still feature one primary setting include Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Martian by Andy Weir, and The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

Let’s chat! Have any recommendations for books with one setting? (I seriously struggled to come up with these seven.) Read any of the ones I discussed? What kind of activities are you doing during self-isolation/quarantine?

***

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Book Review: Almost American Girl

“I didn’t exactly fit in Korea or America. I had become Korean American. And that was okay with me.”

Wow, do I relate with that or what?

I’ve been reading a lot of really good books lately, and I just couldn’t wait to share some of them with you! I like to post even more of my reviews on Goodreads, so if you’re looking for more book recommendations, feel free to check them out.


Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir
My rating: 5/5 stars
One-word description: relatable

Having spent several years living overseas in Europe, I don’t exactly fit in Europe or my home country, the United States. I may not have half the struggles Robin had in integrating into a new culture, but I know what it’s like to be a part of multiple places. Suffice to say this book really hit home for me.

It also taught me a lot about Korean American culture. I particularly liked the way it contrasted how Robin saw the Korean and American cultures at the beginning of the book versus the end of the book and the way her perspective changed. You don’t get that a lot in books, though it is a common feature for people who have cross-culture experiences.

The art was super pretty, and the characters were well-portrayed. I didn’t have much difficulty telling who was who, which is a common problem I have with some Mangas. But this isn’t a Manga—it’s a memoir. I also really liked how even though most of the book was written in English, the Korean language was portrayed in blue while English was in black, giving English speakers like myself a good sense of when the language changed. Terms that were in Korean are defined in the back, some of which I actually knew.

In all I gave Almost American Girl 5/5 stars for excellent plot, cultural representation, and relatable, real people. I highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys graphic novels and cross-cultural stories, especially real ones.

Interested in Almost American Girl? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these books: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, and March by John Robert Lewis

Let’s chat! Has Almost American Girl made it to your to-be-read list yet? Have you read it yet? Have any graphic novel recommendations?

***

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Poem: Seeking the Song of Time

I don’t talk about them enough, but I really enjoy writing prompts!

These past couple of months, I have been learning how to make new friends. And it’s coming along quite nicely I should say, a lot faster than it has in previous years, which is a good change. One friend in particular has expressed her desire to write children’s stories and poems, so we’ve been meeting up lately and writing.

A couple weeks ago, we did a prompt where we each chose a picture for each other and had to write a poem based on that picture. Now I haven’t necessarily posted the exact same photo on here because of copyright laws, but I found a close approximation.

Also, I know I said I was taking a step back from blogging to focus on my novel. While I have made a lot of progress—I’m almost done with my rough draft!—I also started a new project to sidetrack me. I know, I know. But it’s exciting! I’m thinking of self-publishing a poetry collection, and I need your feedback. I already have many of the poems selected, including a few I haven’t shared yet, but I’d like to hear your thoughts. When you finish reading the following poem, if you would take three minutes to answer my survey, I would be very appreciative!


Seeking the Song of Time

Close your eyes and listen
to the constant drip
                        drip
                        drip
of the forest pewter
melting on the bows.

Stand still—
            and discern
the whispered hush
of the metallic
stream cutting through
the moss.

—until you hear it
            —can you hear it?—
hiding beneath
            the scent of pine
and the cool
dust of liquid moonlight.

listen
            slow your breath
                        don’t run,
take a step
            atop the moss
            that sighs a squish
beneath your feet

listen
            —it’s louder now—
 the triumphant,
            melodious call.
open your eyes and

see
            the mist swirl
the iron-steady trunks
like pillars in a hall
as the call rings
            unseen
like a bell tower in this natural noon—

cue       –          kcoo
            cue      –          kcoo
                        cue      –          ckoo

***

Let’s chat! Did you enjoy the poem? How often do you use writing prompts as inspiration? When’s the last time you had a writing sprint with a writing buddy?


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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Poem: Pronunciation

As a child, I was perhaps a little more self righteous and indignant than I am now. The more people I meet, the more mistakes I make, the more I come to understand how we’re all just people. I’m not saying we should just forget every mistake, but if we take the time to try to understand, it can make relationships easier.

Take names for instance.

I have a unique one: Azelyn. No, not the lion as I’ve said countless times before and will say countless times again. Many people have trouble pronouncing or spelling it. It’s Az-lin for those wondering, and the spelling is actually an alternate spelling to its Hebrew origins, Aslin (meaning: spared by the Lord). See, it’s not like the Turkish Aslan (meaning: lion), which I’ve always pronounce Ass-lan. Yet I’ve been called many names from Aslind to Evelyn to Az. Don’t you dare with that last one. I am not a preposition.

At my latest job, I’m working with new kids and adults on a weekly basis. I meet people from across the world and there are. So. Many. Different. Names. The struggle is real. But I try to say them all. I try really hard. Maybe I don’t always get it right, and when that happens, I’ll ask for the right pronunciation. And I’ll ask again. Maybe again. Because I know how hearing somebody say your name right, even if it’s the third attempt, can make you feel welcome.


Pronunciation

I don’t know this word.
My tongue trips over
                                    the pronunciation
one more time,
but what’s really frustrating
are the words I
                                    know
but can’t say right.

Why is it so hard?

As a child I found
my nose wrinkle at the scent
                        of my name
said wrong
                        again
                                    and again
and again.

Didn’t they hear me?

Today I handle new names
like an octopus wrangler
            tentative
                        touching the syllables
and shrinking back a bit
            but always ready
to try again.

How do you spell that?

***

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? Any of my readers have a unique or difficult-to-spell-or-say name?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Taking a Step Back from Blogging

Instead of adding a bunch of stuff to my blog this year, I’m actually going to be taking a step back. I’d like to focus less on my blog and a little more on my stories. That’s not to say that I won’t be posting at all. It will just be a little less regular. At least until I get back into the swing of writing my novel or decide I’m ready to pick up regular posts again.

That being said, I still have some exciting things in the works!


Novel Update: Origami Swan


I’ve had some setbacks with querying, but that is to be expected. I’m may put a hold on it for a while to do some more rewrites before I have at it again. I may not. We shall see!

But one way or another, this puppy is getting published. Rest assured, my dear readers. My next novel is coming. It may not be soon, but it’s coming!

Word Storm Monthly: Poetry


I like poems, so I’d like to continue sharing some with you. Seeing as my audio poems weren’t particularly popular, I won’t be keeping up with them. (*taps glass* Is anybody out there?) You can still listen to the previous ones on my Poetry page.


Wanted: Character Names



I’m seriously struggling with one character’s last name in my latest sci-fi novel. I thought I’d be fine with what I gave him seeing as I hardly ever use last names, but as it turns out, he likes to call everybody by their last name, so everybody uses his. Figures. If you know any good Italian last names for a sci-fi character who is former military, I’m open to suggestions.

Coming Soon: Web Comics!


Guys, be warned, I am not an artist. I can appreciate a good piece, but I’m more skilled with creating pictures via words.

But I’ve had a comic idea in the making for some years now, and since I have an awesome art laptop, I figured it would be fun to give my idea a go! I’m not sure how long it will last, or where I’ll be putting it up, but I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, enjoy a sneak peak!




***

Let’s chat! What are some of your goals for the New Year? Have any large projects planned? How about reading goals?