Year: 2014

In Which I Finally Understand Bruce Lee and Discover What “Being Like Water” Means to my Writing

My birthday is coming up. This one feels like a milestone even though it’s not. I’m not turning thirty—I passed that a while ago—but I think my heart’s finally catching up to my age. It’s a good feeling, because I think I finally understand what Bruce Lee was talking about. “Be like water,” he said. “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow.” When I first heard that quote, I was in my twenties. “Ridiculous,” I said. “Water’s weak. It’s shapeless. It dilutes.” I wanted to be like fire: vibrant, painful, all-consuming. The passion of my youth was like a roaring bonfire. I graduated from a program that I’d fought so hard to get into and got a job everyone told me would be near impossible to get. I binged on life so hard that I never had to deal with the repercussions of taking whatever I wanted whenever I needed it. I was a winner, because I had to be. Part of that was to make …

#MyWritingProcess

Pitch Wars pal, Tracie Martin, tagged me for the #MyWritingProcess blog hop a month ago. I’ve been in and out of town, so I haven’t been able to post anything until now. I’ve finally got some time to myself, so here it is! Better late than never, right? What I’m working on Sometimes it feels like I have too many things going on at the same time! I’ve been traveling off and on for the last six months, and my productivity has really suffered as a result. I self-publish steamy romantic novellas under a different pen name, so a lot of the last two months have been spent working on those stories. Under Kai Jordan though, I’m querying my speculative fiction piece. It’s an 80,000 word manuscript set 150 years after a war destroyed the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s got a fair bit of romance, because I’m such a sucker for epic love stories. I also started doing a rough outline for a new contemporary romance project even though I still have an old one that needs …

Book Review: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

All sixty-four of its pages are yellowing, and the copyright date says 1987. It must’ve been purchased used, because there’s a stamp on the inside depicting two bears holding a “this book belongs to” sign. I never filled it in, because as a kid, I felt my garish handwriting (and name) would somehow sully the book. I can’t remember when I first read The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth, but this book has traveled with me through two countries, ten different homes, five schools, six pets, and a marriage. If I had children, this would be the story I’d read to them every night. Good Fortune is a cat who lives with a poor artist. She sits with him every day watching him work on a commissioned painting of the death of Buddha. But as he paints a procession of the courageous horse, the gentle snail, the noble elephant, and other earthly animals bidding farewell to Buddha, he knows Good Fortune wants to be in the painting too. “But where is the cat?” thought …

A Life in Pursuit of Hikaru’s Go and Jiro’s Sushi

A manga turned anime, HIKARU NO GO was released almost a decade ago. It’s a coming-of-age story and a story about devoting one’s life to a singular passion. When Hikaru discovers an old go board in his grandfather’s attic, he accidentally awakens a ghost named Sai, a go player who lived during the Heian era of Japan. All Sai wants to do is study go, and Hikaru reluctantly plays a few games to appease the friendly spirit. But when the young boy’s lack of interest soon turns to enthusiasm, Sai is surprised to learn that Hikaru displays an innate talent for the game. The heart of the story lies in their master-student relationship. The most poignant scenes happen after Sai begins to see that in Hikaru lies the path to achieve the divine move—a move so perfect and inspired that it is considered the pinnacle achievement of every go master. Sai’s quest for Kami no Itte, or the Hand of God, is the reason why his soul has been unable to rest. Sai never reaches the divine move, and …

If You Have Writer’s Block, Watch this TED Talk.

We’ve all been there. Your initial kernel of an idea is stuffed with endless possibilities, and you write for weeks or months with the focused intensity of a lion chasing down its prey. Your words flow faster than monkey diarrhea, and you’re riding the high like a fevered junkie. Feels fucking good, amirite? You start thinking that maybe you’ve got what it takes, that this writing thing is easy peasy, because you were blessed with the right idea at the right moment, and you must’ve done something good in your past life, because the words are clicking together inside your brain. Gaiman and Rowling and McCarthy ain’t got nutting on you, baby. Then one day, while you’re eating pancakes at two in the morning, it all goes to shit. Maybe your plot gets snarled up tighter than fishing line or maybe your characters refuse to cooperate or maybe you realize you’ve unintentionally copied the storyline of Marvel’s latest movie. Aaaand…cue writer’s block. I’m not talking about the ol’ I don’t really feel like writing today because …

Stories that Matter

My Facebook life has to be perfect, because if my story didn’t exist online, I’d disappear. Having no likes on a post is like me standing at the edge of a cliff, shouting into an abyss but not hearing an echo. I wait and wait and then I start to wonder if maybe it’s not the echo that’s the problem, it’s my voice. Because what if I think I hear my voice, but really the sound just never existed in the first place? Maybe my mouth is a figment of my imagination or a tumor in someone’s brain. School taught me to dress for the job I want, so I dress my profile for the life I want. We’re all made up of stories anyway, so somewhere along the way I decided to write my own except I somehow ended up writing shitty fanfic about people who aren’t me. In anime, characters with the loudest hair matter the most. Maybe that’s why I color my hair so often. My profile is starting to remind me of …

#SFFPit and #NLpitchperfect: My Twitter Pitch Party Experience

I took Bree Ogden’s query class on LitReactor last year. Yes. I took a class. And yes, I know I am a total geek. But I’m glad I did, because that’s where I learned about Twitter pitch parties. I’d deleted my Twitter account a long time ago, but after that class, I decided to restart one. Bree also critiqued our Twitter queries which was a nice bonus. Fast forward a year later, my manuscript was ready-to-go. I started compiling a list of agents and discovered New Leaf Literary was holding a two-hour pitch event on Twitter the next day. And while I thought I knew what it would be like, it turned out that I DIDN’T KNOW AT ALL. Because right when the clock chimed 1pm, FOUR THOUSAND TWEETS appeared across my screen. Okay, maybe not four thousand, but I remember sitting in front of my laptop with my mouth open and fingers frozen. The event only lasted two hours, but daaamn…I think that was the first time I realized just how many of us there are. Didn’t get …

Progression of a Manuscript

A while ago, I wanted to see how a manuscript changed from its first draft to final version. Couldn’t find an example back then, so I’d like to show you what happened with mine. Here were the first forty words or so from my first draft: My stepfather taught me how to take a punch, but he taught me how to throw one too. I pushed Lee’s buttons because if he didn’t come after me, he’d go after mom. At this point, the story was set in present day. I spent several months writing the first draft, and somewhere between the second and third draft, I decided the story would work better in a futuristic setting. The opening changed to: The first time I met my biological father, I said the only thing that came to mind: “Seaweed?” “The smell’s not so bad,” he said, his eyes kind. “You’ll stop noticing it in time. The company I hired to facilitate your reassignment uses this shuttle to transport produce from Samsara to Empyrean.” Lee (the stepfather) isn’t gone, …