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Found the Perfect Music!
Status: I feel awesomely rested today. I slept for a little over eight hours last night!!!! Yay me! This is a huge win for me since I’ve been battling a very bad case of insomnia since July.

On Tuesday, I was listening to “Intermezzo Sinfonico” from Cavelleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni for over three hours in an infinite loop, while revising The Last Slayer, and I had an epiphany. I knew exactly how the trilogy should end, and it just made me cry because it was going to be so bittersweet. (At least it was to me :) )

On Wednesday, I thought maybe that “light bulb moment” feeling would go away, but it didn’t. So I know I have my ending.

Also I just found the most perfect music for the relationship between Ramiel and Ashera. “Lamento” and “Song-Yun” by Lim Se-Hyun (Yi-San OST Tracks 6 and 13, respectively). Just stunningly heartbreaking. *sigh*


Looking For a Crit Partner or Two

I already have a few who I really like, but would like to try it out with one or two more people. I’ve included a short questionnaire of sort so you know what I’m expecting and what I can offer, so you can decide if you want to give it a go or not. :)

What do you write?

Paranormal, SF and fantasy romance, ST length. My writing tends to have explicit sex and violence (but not erotic). If you don’t enjoy para / SFF romance, please do not respond. I’m looking specifically for people who read and/or write them.

What do you read?

I read just about everything, except inspirational, category (I used to read SD and HP a lot, but I don’t read them that much anymore since I no longer write them and I have so many other books (ST) that I want to read), western / ranch / cowboys and American historical romance. When I say American historical romance, I mean historical romance set in the States / North America. I like European historical romance though.

I read erotic, but I’m very very particular about it, so I may not be a good fit.

How long have you been writing?

4 years.

What have you accomplished writing-wise?

I sold a contemporary romance novel to Samhain this year, and also signed with an agent recently.

What are you writing strengths?

Plotting. Pacing.

What are you trying to improve on?

Angsty alpha heroes. I really want to do them better. This is my big craft goal for the rest of the year. (I have a quarterly and/or semiannual craft goal, where I pick an area and try to improve.)

My next goal is to write better bad boys. :)

How much material do you read at once?

From a scene to a partial or something even longer. It depends.

How do you crit?

My critique style has changed. These days, I read as a reader first. I ask myself, “Am I engaged? Do I like it? Do I like / can empathize with the protagonist? Do I want to read more?”

If the answers range from “It’s okay” to “meh” to “I don’t get it at all”, then I sit down and think about what made me feel that way. Was I ever confused? Was the pacing off? Was it the way things were worded? Did the h/H do something that annoyed me and/or make me go “Ugh. No way.”?

Then I write out a summary and comment on the actual text using Track Change & Comment Bubbles using MS Word.

BTW — I do not do fact-checking. So do not rely on me to tell you whether or not you have your facts right. I usually assume that you did your research already. (But if there are inconsistencies, I’ll mention them.)

Is that how you want your crit partners to crit you?

Yep. I don’t need crit partners to tell me where to put a comma or something. If there’s a glaring typo that’s bugging you, sure, mention it. But I’d rather fix the forest than all the little trees, unless too many of my little trees are deformed.

How fast can you crit?

Hmm. If it’s a scene or a chapter, about a week or faster. If it’s more, expect me to take a full week or a bit longer. But it really depends on how busy I am at that time. I have to work, write and do edits and other activities that I’m contractually obligated to do, etc. If I’m very busy, I send an email to let them know. I believe in communication. I don’t want my crit partners to feel slighted or ignored. (Unless I *am* really trying to ignore you. Just kidding! ;) )

And seriously I expect the same from my CP — not in terms of turn-around time, but in terms of communication. If you’re busy and it’ll be a couple of weeks or whatever before you can take a look at the chapter, just let me know, and I can either wait or ask you to not crit it if I need the feedback soon and it’ll be too late by then. That way we don’t waste our time. BTW — when I say, “Don’t bother, it’s okay” I’m not mad. I appreciate the time the CP has taken to let me know.

Anything else?

  • I’d like a crit partner who’s completed at least two or three manuscripts and have gone through the process of revision, if not agent hunting.
  • I’d also like a crit partner who sees this as a creative process as well as business.
  • I don’t always send a chapter every week or whatever. I don’t use crit partners as my accountability partners or motivational coaches. I show things when I think they’re ready. But even if that’s the case if you want to send me your chapters, etc. every week, that’s okay. When I don’t have anything to show, I usually keep in touch with crit partners via email or IM so we don’t become strangers.
  • I’d love to have someone who I can celebrate my good news with. Obviously I’ll be thrilled to pieces if you’ve accomplished a big milestone or something. :)
  • I think that crit partners will be sympathetic to rejections, etc. That’s obvious. :) I’ll of course be sympathetic and give you a shoulder to cry on. But — this is a big but — do not expect sympathy from me if you whine about unreasonable things. For example, you got a request for full but feel angry because the agent / editor wants it snail-mailed. (It’s a real story — a writer I knew got mad about that and wanted me to feel bad for her. She lived in North America, so it wasn’t like she had to trek through miles of some horrible mosquito-infested jungle to get to the over-priced and unreliable post office. I live in Asia, and I snail-mailed stuff to the States when I was agent-hunting. So I didn’t feel any sympathy for that writer. I mean…she got the request for full. What more could she possibly want? *shrug*)
  • Please do not ask me to be your crit partner because you are never motivated to write and you need a motivational coach of sort. If you aren’t motivated at all to write, you need to ask yourself “why not?” Maybe you don’t feel like writing anymore or something. There’s no shame in quitting if you don’t find writing enjoyable at all, esp. if it doesn’t impact your ability to feed yourself and your family. There’s no way I can make you write if you don’t want to write. I’m not your mom or your husband or whatever.
  • Please do not ask me to be your crit partner so you can have me fix your grammar. Several years ago, a new potential CP told me, “I don’t need to know how to punctuate (or insert any other grammatical issues) because that’s what crit partners are for.” Needless to say, our CP relationship ended very fast. If you need that much help with grammar, you need to take a class, not seek a crit partner.

If you’re interested and/or want to talk, email me or leave a comment.


August in Japan

First, I want to start by saying … THANK GOD JULY IS OVER.

This July has been one of the most difficult months I had to go through. Let’s just say that I was in excruciating pain until July 15 or so without any medication to relieve any of my symptoms — that’s just not the way doctors around here work — plus heat exhaustion and insomnia until recently. Or…at least I think insomnia will continue.

Now mind you, if I don’t feel any effect of insomnia (meaning I feel refreshed every morning) I wouldn’t complain. But I feel absolutely terrible in the morning. How many people can live on 3-4 hours of sleep per night for an entire month?

Anyway…I was looking forward to a better August until this morning I got woken up by very very loud shouting and singing from people outside. Then I remembered, “Oh crap! Peace demonstration.”

Every year around this time, they have peace demonstrations and so on in Japan to protest the atomic bombing. Although I feel a great deal of sympathy for civilians, especially children, I don’t feel much sympathy when the demonstrators shout how Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki without any good reasons, how American did it out of malice / evilness, and how Japan was a helpless victim. The demonstrators conveniently forget that:

  1. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war, hence dragging the U.S. into the Second World War.
  2. Japan also invaded Asia during WWII. Japan to this date claims that it just wanted to “liberate Asia” from the evil western influence. Ask any Chinese or Korean or Filipinos what they think, and they’ll probably turn red in the face and say something extremely derogatory about Japan.

As a Korean American I sometimes wonder what would happen in Germany if Germans got together and claimed that they were the victims of evil pro-Jew Americans or something. I’m sure it wouldn’t go over very well.

I think this is one of the big reasons why there will always be some hostility (overt or otherwise) among Asian nations. There are many countries and people who think that Japan got off too easy and they still feel angry about it.


The Definition of a Hack

Some of my writing friends and I have been talking about what makes us hacks. After all, what writer hasn’t doubted herself at least once or twice in her writing career? I think Steven Pressfield sums it up beautifully below:

A hack, he [Robert McKee] says, is a writer who second-guesses his audience. When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for.

The hack condescends to his audience. He thinks he’s superior to them. The truth is, he’s scared to death of them or, more accurately, scared of being authentic in front of them, scared of writing what he really feels or believes, what he himself thinks is interesting. He’s afraid it won’t sell. So he tries to anticipate what the market (a telling word) wants, then gives it to them.

— from The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Therefore, I told my writing friends that as long as we’re writing something that sings to us, makes us really believes in it and allows us to be authentic, then we’re OK. :)


I :heart: 7-Eleven

I’m sure some of you are like “Why does she like 7-Eleven so much?”

The fact is I used to hate it when I was in the States. I didn’t start my love affair with 7-Eleven until I came to Japan.

So why does 7-Eleven rock so much?

  1. It’s open 24/7. It’s hard to find a convenience store chain open all the time where I am.
  2. It’s clean.
  3. 7-Eleven clerks rock. They’re always so friendly and courteous that it’s always pleasant to shop there.
  4. 7-Eleven has the best bento. When you buy a bento, they’ll heat it for you and give you a pair of chopsticks. An instant ready-to-eat inexpensive meal that tastes good. W00t!
  5. 7-Eleven has the best onigiri. Yum yum.
  6. Did I mention it’s sparkling clean? It’s utterly spotless. The floor is so shiny and clean that you can eat off of it.
  7. 7-Eleven has the awesomest selection of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Nothing like rich ice cream for summer.

BTW — this only applies to 7-Eleven in Japan. I still don’t like the American version.


Thirteen Words I Like

I don’t think I’ve ever used them in my writing, but I like them anyway.

In no particular order:

  1. vermicular
  2. forlorn
  3. mansuetude
  4. indurate
  5. trichotillomania
  6. impuissant
  7. subreption
  8. attitudinize
  9. semelparous
  10. deglutition
  11. hibernaculum
  12. dégringolade
  13. apodictic