The Bridge Post for 2014

It's 3:54 and I'm sitting on my bed in my pajamas eating raspberries. All in all, it's not a  bad moment on a Sunday. Today has been a sort of Sunday in that I woke up, showered, and then dressed myself in new pajamas.

I also did the dishes in the kitchen and bought fruit and flowers at the farmer's market. I arranged the flowers and drank tea.

This is one of the better days I've had in a while, so I wanted to sit down and type out where I've been for the last month or so. As a couple friends have noticed, I've pretty much vanished from the Internet . I was hospitalized in December for an infection and all the complications that came along with it. Fortunately, I was discharged in time to go home for Christmas, but I've been in no state to write. That is one of the most frustrating things about being in the hospital or being bedridden sick, that you seem to have all this time, but you can use it like a day off.

I took my drugs and followed doctor's orders, and when I finished my round of medications, unfortunately, I ended up in the ER again. I've been discharged again, and I'm feeling a lot better. My doctors have told me that realistically I could end up in the ER again, or might have to get surgery later in the year if all else fails. But I might just recover, which would be great!

I managed to write a little on Friday, but I'm slow getting back on the treadmill.

Despite being someone who researches plagues, I actually do not have much experience with being sick. Before this December, I had never been sick enough to get a prescription, much less go to the hospital.

The day before calling the ambulance, I was actually planning the next scene in H+MC. In it, the hiwau goes to the Dead Capital to find his grandfather's library (P+FD's hiwau's library) so he can finally learn his family's shamanism. But going into the Dead Capital means he's going to—of course—run into the resident plague god, Mogasa, who's been trapped there since P+FD. The hiwau gets sick. Of course.

All of this was interrupted by the author getting sick. The irony isn't lost on me.

I'm in much better spirits. I'm taking it slow, and I'm hoping to update H+MC by the start of February. No updates on the agent-hunting front. I feel like I've written a leper book that no one will want to publish. Ha. It's ironic because there's lepers in it.

Freer and Sackler Galleries: Tea bowl with design of chrysanthemums 
I see lots of other awesome people doing massive end of year book posts. Samantha Chaffin over at Her Inklings and Christina at Fairy Skeletons. I love reading these, but I'd be dreadful at my own for the shameful reason that I simply do not read enough fiction. (I know, I know.) 

This year I had the pleasure to read a bunch of old but good books. I particularly enjoyed Michael Ende's Momo, a children's novel about a little girl with the gift of listening who rescues her town from a bunch of mysterious, time-gobbling bankers. 

I also discovered some lovely nonfiction, mostly relating to Japan. My favorite find was Haruo Shirane's Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons, where the author describes motifs, symbols, and and themes for each season throughout literature and culture. 

Now, my big throwback discovery of 2014 was the Heibonsha Survery of Japanese Art. This series of books has volumes on all the major categories of Japanese art. Each volume was written by one of top scholars and experts in Japan. (I love Wikipedia, but it's so nice to read something written by someone who really knows this stuff). You want to learn all about Japanese gardens? There's a volume. What about textiles, fabrics, and dress? There's a book. I've been collecting them. This series was published in the 80s, and now, they're cheap. Some of the volumes, like the one on gardens, are super cheap. 

I cannot recommend these books enough. They're filled with wonderful pictures and illustrations, and they're meant to introduce you to the topics in an accessible way that's becoming harder and harder to find. Treat yourself and learn something new! 

I'm not so much a YA junkie, but I am a Japan book junkie. Maybe this year I'll have a couple posts on nonfiction and fiction. But I'll mostly be enjoying reading other people's book blogs. 

I should try and write now... Happy New Year! 

The Rains of Southern California

It rained today.

I had the pleasure of participating in Nanowrimo this month, and I think that it really was a wonderful learning experience. Nanowrimo gave me the motivation to push through some difficult sections of H+MC. But it also messed with my pacing, as I was determined to write 1700 words a day, and my scenes are usually written in 1K sittings. During the second week of November, I concluded that I'd be better off doing 2K a day, but 2K required more of my days than I could give.

Honestly, I am worried about some of what I wrote.

As Lemony Snicket might say, if you're looking for an cheerful and uplifting blogpost, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. Truth be told, I keep this blog for myself, and this is a journal post.

This isn't so much about National Novel Writing Month as it is about the story I'm trying to tell.

Whenever I start a novel, I have my plan and my lampposts, scenes that I have to write in order to light my way. In every project I've ever written, the last lamppost burned brightest.

For The Princess and the Fox Demon, it was Asuka wading into the center of the lake with the sword, taking her own life to be with Chirikai forever. On a practical level, I knew it was a traditional feminist's worst nightmare. The girl kills herself to be with the boy. In the original conception, the book ended with Asuka's death and the belief of the nobles watching that she would become a goddess. They would have faith without evidence, but would the reader?

It just occurred to me that perhaps that scene deserves its own blog post. Anyway, it was a lamppost, and I had many months to traverse the darkness between the others. I plot, but there's so much faith in some parts of what I write. It could be arrogance. But it feels more like faith.

I am a rather old-fashioned reader and writer. I've been told that print and third person are dead, that I should be constant lying consuming YA fiction to know the market. I think out of all the young, fellow YA writers I know I probably read the least YA. I stood in an airport bookstore for almost forty minutes trying to find something to read. I knew the titles, the writers, but I didn't want to read any of it. I still finding myself returning to the books I read as a child and a teen, mostly written by dead British people, the books that made me what I am.

I think I've entered a phase of my life where I don't read a great deal of fiction. In fact, it's that environment that produced The Princess and the Fox Demon. I was consuming piles of nonfiction: history, mythology, and religion... But as I sat in my university cafe—it's now closed down—and daydreamed about what could be outside of the realm of what was or what was perceived to be. Last night, fighting off jetlag, I wandered over to my neighborhood bookstore—yes, a real one in the wild—and bought a giant book on Chinese tea and a big, beautiful, new translation of the I Ching by John Minford. I was so excited.

Anyway, I had trouble being inspired by other people's works of YA fiction in such a way that I'm driven to write my own. I can enjoy them, certainly. Kimberly Karalius recommended Sara Beth Durst's Vessel, which I had the pleasure of reading. I'm currently reading Momo by Michael Ende.

But I think the view I have about fiction, fantasy in particular, was best articulated by Tolkien when he said that fantasy was for escape. I write fantasy to escape. I do not look for reality in my fiction, but maybe a sort of distorted reality with a core of truth. If I wanted sharp realism, I'd read history. I don't need to read what others make up. Which is why I rarely read contemporary fiction. Fantasy is meant to inspire and allow escape from the world we live in.

None of these ideas are mine or new. In fact, many would consider them old and stale. The trend of the decade is the shades of gray hero-villain, truth and goodness are now relative, the golden age of the anti and the semi-hero... Historians will have fun with this fifty years hence, trying to answer the why we are doing this with our stories. I won't do that here.

I've gone off topic. I've forgotten what I was trying to say.

I'll go make myself a pot of tea and come back.

I think that The Hiwau and the Moon Consort is a difficult story to tell in the same way that the last scene of The Princess and the Fox Demon is a difficult one to set-up for the contemporary reader.

The set-up, that is how my fantasies function. I have the last scene, like faith, and I build towards it. Laying the sidewalk beneath the lampposts until I reach the end. But the entire story before The Scene is set-up, countless plants for that one payoff.

But H+MC moves between two worlds: the moon and the earth. The first story arc tells of the Comet Spirit's romance with the Moon God, the realm of the Lodge, the philosophy of the gods there... It's the sort of fantastic world-building where a writer gets to pull out all the stops. All the while, we waited for the kiss, we waited for the blow-out... and then, it ended.

For analytical purposes, the first arc of H+MC is no more complicated than most of P+FD. But when we reached earth, everything becomes different. The world shifts.

I think I lost everyone, and I don't know what to do.

I don't know if it was the pacing of Nanowrimo or the story I set out to write, but I'm almost 70% of the way through, and I've been setting up everything like mad, and I finished and exhaled, and looked around, and it seemed like it didn't matter. 

P+FD was much easier. It was about a girl, a boy, and their relationships with their parents shaping the love they would have for each other. 

H+MC is about a brother and sister, two twins, and the girl who threatens to burn all the bridges between them in her quest for freedom. It's about things falling down. And what holds strong. 

But the web of interpersonal relationships—and the cast of characters—is much bigger than P+FD. On the High Plain of Heaven and the Moon, we meet the Moon God, the Sun Goddess, the Comet Spirit, and a large cast of secondary characters. On earth, we meet the Comet Spirit once more as "Kaguya," plus the hiwau and Hakashi, High Shaman Tsukinori, and a very large cast of secondary characters. While I've never really considered P+FD epic fantasy, H+MC definitely fits the title. 

But I've never really written epic fantasy before, and I'm worried that the large cast and shifting locations have scared readers off. This panic reached a new height over the course of Nanowrimo when I wrote one H+MC's version of one of the pivotal moments in The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, where Kaguya gives three nearly impossible tasks to three princely suitors. As I devoted a chapter to their failure, doing my best to plant important details and keep the action moving, I panicked. 

Could I really afford new characters and a whole chapter? Was I too deep in the weeds? *type-type-type*

Was I too blind in my faith of the lampposts? 

But there's really no choice but to keep writing, is there? 

At the end of November, I think that it is good I did not win Nanowrimo. Taking the time to think, and imagine... I am slow at both those things. 1K is a good number for me. I am grateful for learning that. 

But whether or not H+MC is a failed sequel, I suppose I will not know until the end of November, when Kaguya, Hakashi, the hiwau, the Moon God, and Asuka and Chirikai have had their say. 

I'm a month into agent-hunting, and nothing positive has come from that either. I went in with low expectations, but at the back of my mind is the nagging 'If P+FD isn't good enough, am I wasting my time writing a sequel?' 

Which, I suppose, means this a long way of saying I'm doubting myself. C'est la vie. 

Hello, November

It's been a while, huh? Almost an entire month since I last recorded my #WatchMeWrite videos and wrote "Selus and Verbena."

So, here we are at November, which is one of my favorite months even though it inevitably ends up being one of the busiest. When I was in college, November was when my professors realized there was little time left in the semester and scheduled the papers and exams. Video game marketers and publishers realized that there are almost two months until Christmas, so they released their pet projects, which I'd end up buying. Then there's travel for family-time, and the usual sleeping and eating, and November snaps by just like that. It's also my birthday.

But this year, things seem to be a little different. First, I'm a working person, which means I don't have to really worry about tests or papers (term papers, technically, I don't have to worry about those), and I get to write a lot more.

October ended up being a funny month. I furiously wrote my way through Burnt Chocolate, Fairy King, which you can binge-read in all its Season One glory. It absurd. I can't believe I wrote it. For Burnt Chocolate, I made a beautiful schedule and outline, which I followed for about a week. Then I spent three chapters writing something that was only supposed to take one (yeah, movie theaters) and spent the rest of the month shifting scenes around and playing catch-up.

Because of work, I ended up having to write the Halloween finale up until right before each entry was posted! The final scene went live on November 1st, and I wrote it at a friend's Halloween party. As everyone watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, I curled around my laptop in the corner typing furiously.

"How's it going?" my friends asked.

"The fairy king has found his eco-terrorist girlfriend," I told them, "and they've just blown up a building." Then I returned to banging away at my keyboard.

So, that was Halloween night. I finished, inwardly crying, because like a crazy person, I had agreed to do NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. In past years, I've done half-Nanos, where I wrote 25,000 thousand words over the course of November. Traditionally, Nanowrimo means writing a fast and furious 50,000 words during November.

As a lot of you know, that works out to be about half of one of my fantasy novels. Since I don't have school and thus a little more free time on my hands, I agreed with some Figment buddies to actually do Nanowrimo. I thought to use the group momentum to finish (or almost finish) The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. 

I knew that H+MC would end up being about the same length as P+FD, that is 100,000 (or about 400 pages), so at the end of October with 40K, I was almost halfway through. 50K over the course of November would leave me with the ending to write at the beginning of December, but almost done. Awesome, right?

This all sounded great in my head until Halloween night. When I realized I would be waking up to NaNoWrimo with no preparation whatsoever.

Okay, okay, that's not entirely true. Unlike other people writing a 50K project for Nanowrimo, I had already started mine. I knew the beginning, middle, and end, and I had introduced all my major characters before November started. But I didn't have a particularly detailed outline.

When I woke up November 1st, I was fatigued. I didn't really want to write. But I managed to outline the rest of H+MC and do 700 measly words before going to bed.

Nanowrimo recommends doing about 1700 words a day to make the deadline. I was off to a great start.

Most people seem to unleash thousands of pent-up words the first day of November.

Obviously I'm not one of those people. 

But by November third, I had caught up with the recommended schedule. Yesterday I wrote three thousand words, AKA all of Chapter Thirteen, where the hiwau sends two shamans on a mission to find Hakashi. 

Also in classic form, something I thought I'd spend one chapter on took two. So, my beautiful November 1st outline is already kind'a off. But I'll keep working from the scene lists... 

You can also find me on the Nanowrimo website, if you're participating. We can be "buddies." 

I'll report back when I get worn out from writing fiction...

Writing on the clock and on video: #WatchMeWrite 2

Last year I went on a road trip through California and the southwest. We saw a lot of things, but one image that I've never forgotten was when we drove through Arizona. No cell phone signals, just a stretch of plain punctured by red mountains. The sky was so blue that I could not believe it. I just sat in the car, staring through the window in awe of the colors and how huge it all seemed. How little there was.

I love the idea of filming there, a battle sequence of some kind. This ended up merging with a fantasy idea sitting in the back of my head where warriors rode rhinos and tore through anyone in their path. But because I can't film anything, and I have no say in Hollywood, I decided to write the scene I imagined.

The moment to write all it down, however, did not come until yesterday. An update from Figment said that an author, Brandon Sanderson, was holding a contest where the grand prize winner got to talk with his editor. That's too good a prize to not write something, especially if it can't be over a thousand words.

I've done a lot of Figment contests, and a part of me is burnt out after almost three years of participating in the game and hoping for something to come of it. This is also a heart-based contest, so there's more of a time investment than just writing the story. Whether or not I'll swap and promote and fight the fight remains to be seen. But I at least wrote something.

The prompt was: what power would your super villain use to conquer the world?

On a whim I decided to film myself writing again from start to finish.

I had an hour between work assignments at home. This is what happened in that hour:

Once again, be sure to watch in full-screen HD. 

It's a fantasy tragedy exercise based on guns, germs, and steel. 

Read the final version below: 

Writing in Progress Video #WatchMeWrite

So, you clearly have nothing better to do. Just like me.

Tonight I hunkered down and completed my outline for the neglected Fairy King serial that I hope to write for The Tea Cup Trail. As I opened my word processor, hoping to actually write and get to the text, it occurred to me that it might be fun to film the the "in-progress" entry, you know, like artists do.

Except writing is visually boring, so I added hip music. And I sped up the writing a bit.

The result is an example of my writing process when it goes relatively smoothly. Watch in full screen:

I'm a nerd. I'd actually like to see other writers writing.

The creative and tech-savvy Samantha Chaffin saw this video and launched her own, calling this sort of project #WatchMeWrite 
Writing is a lonely endeavor, and writers would love to see how you work. Made a short video and tag it. Share it on twitter or your blog!

If you swing this way...
1. I have a Mac and used Quicktime to do the screen capture.
2. Then I imported it into iMovie and sped it up. Both these steps are easy, compared to the writing.
3. Next, be sure to upload an HD video to Vimeo. The quality on Youtube is too low--people won't be able to read what you're writing.
4. Tag it so other people can find it.

Writing and working and stuff

So. Working.

I've become a full-fledged working person in the past three weeks, and it's interesting making the shift from school-writing balance to work-writing balance. I thought I'd take a little blog post to talk about some of the changes I've experienced.

First, brain space. ADVANTAGE.

While I was a grad student (or any kind of student, really) my attention was constantly split between a million different things: subjects, homework, music, "activities," and then writing. If you've suffered through this blog, you probably write some yourself. You know that writing could occupy all those other spots if given the opportunity.

But while I was in school, my brain space was swallowed by lots of things, often very different intellectual changes that I had to be addressing constantly throughout the day. While I was in high school and writing fantasy novels, I also had to do calculous, poetry, analysis, physics, and a sport. Needless to say, as Vast and Amazing as my brain is, my brain is a box with set limits, and when I've got to focus on another thing, it comes at the expense of something else.

Let's take high school and early college as a rough example:

Brain Space:
Calculous: 15%
Biology: 15%
Lit crit: 15%
History: 20%
Japanese: 20% 
"activity": 5%
Writing 10%

High school, a lesson in truly succeeding in nothing. Anyway. 

College gets a little better in that you can choose your classes, once you get through required coursework. By grad school, I was focussing on Japanese history. 

Brain Space
Literature course: 20% 
History course: 20%
Classical Japanese: 20%
Thesis research: 20%
Writing: 20%

Obviously percentages change throughout the year as assignment, exams, and due dates increase and decrease. But late college and grad school were decent for writing "after school."

One of the frustrating things about school work is simply that it doesn't really end. Even when you've finished a class for the day, there is still homework, writing, and research to be done in your spare time. You can't succeed without that, so you're balancing unscheduled work as well as the scheduled work. 

Now, this is going to differ depending on the job, but with my current job, work doesn't follow me home. When I leave the office for the day, I flip off that switch. I stop thinking about it. I'm not being paid to think "after work." My tasks are done on the clock. 

I feel palpable relief at no longer having homework. It's been incredible for my brain space. Now my brain has an even 50-50 split between work and writing. Most days though, my writing colonizes my work brain space. When I leave the office, it's 100% writing or small living tasks. 

This is the first time in my life when school hasn't followed me home. It's been awesome for my writing. 

Second, tiredness. DISADVANTAGE.

As a working adult, I have to commute and sit in an office all day long. On days when the work is difficult, that's tiring. On days when work is mind-butt-numbingly boring, that's tiring too. There's no way to win against the exhaustion. Also, work takes up a large swath of the day, and when I get home, I often just want to flop on my bed and waste time online and watch lots of tv. 

Oh. that too. 
I won't name any names, but this week I read an interview where another online writer's advice was this:

Most of the time, writing is not going to come naturally. It does come naturally, on occasion. But if most people only wrote when the desire came naturally, we would write very little. 

I am not a very good writer. But I can look at things I wrote a thousand pages ago and see a world of difference in the quality of the story and the writing. The truth is, if you are a hobbling writer, it doesn't matter how good (or bad) your writing is. But if you hope to improve, if you hope to have others enjoy what you write, the ugly truth is that you will have to write a lot when you would "naturally" rather binge-watch Sherlock or "naturally" eat an entire bag of Oreos and re-read Harry Potter

Since starting to work full-time, I think, I appreciate the work that writing requires. Balancing my time and figuring out when I can write every time is a job in itself. Most days I'm bouncing along on the bus trying to describe a Moon God, and then again on the way home. I've started getting to work early so I have time to write because I know that when I get home, I'm going to be too tired to write much. 

That isn't to say that writing isn't going to come naturally or ever be exciting. It is. But when life pushes back, when the Muse disappears mid-novel, when it's too hot, or you're too tired, or laundry has to be done... Writing can be a struggle. 

Writing a novel is a siege campaign. This morning I sat down and tallied my word count on H+MC for September, and I was horrified to find myself almost 4K behind. Ah! 

Anyway, I should get back to real writing. Hope everyone's having a good Tuesday. 

"The Bamboo Grove"

This blog post has spoilers for The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. If you have not read up to Chapter Twenty-three ("The Rock") on Figment get off this page. Shoo!

So, it's a little crazy to finally reach this place in H+MC. I like to think of these last couple chapters as the end of the first major plot arc: the Comet Spirit's banishment from the High Plain of Heaven.

P+FD's narrative evolved in a similar fashion. After being briefly introduced to Asuka and Chirikai, we bounced back in time four years to understand what Chirikai did in the capital that gave him a reputation, as well as understand Asuka. After about eleven "full" chapters, that backstory arc finished, and Asuka and Chirikai-Kouji "married" at the start of the second arc. 

H+MC isn't too different. This first arc opened with the Moon God trying to escape his sister and get some peace and quiet, but in a moment of impulse, he grabs a falling comet from the sky and saves the spirit. The Moon God keeps the rock of the comet, however, and does not give her this piece of herself that's so crucial because he wants to keep her safe (and close). 

At the Banquet, the Comet Spirit meets the God of Illusion. P+FD readers should recognize Chirikai's father (Retan Shitunpe) under the different title. Retan Shitunpe puts on a bit of a show with the Comet Spirit, leading everyone to believe that she is more than she seems... that the powerful Illusion God (and former consort to the Sun Goddess) fell under her spell. Retan Shitunpe has no desire to correct her. 

Although uneasy with this reputation, the Comet Spirit quickly discovers the power it gives her in the rigid, hierarchal Lodge of the Moon God. Finally giving in to what she believes her reputation requires, she begins a string of affairs and dismisses lovers the moment she loses interest. All the while, she maintains a friendship with the Moon God, who tries to keep her at arms length because of his attraction to her and his fear that he will abuse his position, as well as take advantage of owning her rock. 

Eventually the two succumb to their passions. In the midst of their relationship, the Moon God decides to name her the Moon Consort, and in the process, tells the Comet Spirit that he also controls time. 

The situation spirals out of control, however, when the Sun Goddess finds out about the Moon Consort title, which "places" the Moon Consort about her in the hierarchy. When she demands that her brother cancel the title, he refuses. Fighting breaks out between the Sun Goddess and the Moon God. 

My light outline for the last scenes of the arc

Shortly after, the Comet Spirit finds out that the Moon God has "kept" her all along, and she furiously confronts him after he almost destroys his sister. 

What follows is How Not to Break Up with a Celestial Being.

In a short, nasty fight, the ugly sides of both characters emerge: the tyrannical nature of the Moon God, who is overpowered and truly bound by nothing but himself, and the selfish, impulsive nature of the Comet Spirit. 

Between two characters that only pages before declared their love for each other. 

The Comet Spirit says some mean things, and the Moon God snaps. Instead of banishing her, the Moon God spins back time and turns her into a child. Then he casts her out. 

This full chapter is actually called "The Bamboo Grove" for the spot where the Comet Spirit crash-lands. 

The last couple chapters have passed so quickly for me, but I have enjoyed writing them. When I was originally outlining, I thought I could pull off this arc in four chapters, almost half of what there is now. But I like this fleshed-out version more. 

One thing I did avoid in this Figment draft is emphasizing the "sequel" nature of H+MC. The main loose end of this first arc is not a loose end at all, to a P+FD reader with an eagle eye. In this opening arc, Retan Shitunpe plays a pivotal role in the Comet Spirit's ascent, and the consequential humiliation of the Sun Goddess which starts the conflict with her brother. Retan Shitunpe also shows up at the Lodge, wrecking her plans of having the Perception God overturn the Moon God's judgment. But someone who's only read H+MC might wonder, why?

The Illusion God is a murky character, so it might be natural to just see him as a chaos-loving agent. Which he is. But in this case, Retan Shitunpe still hates the Sun Goddess for her actions at the end of P+FD. In the final arc, Retan Shitunpe wants to kill the hiwau, who killed his wife. The Sun Goddess wants to preserve her human dynasty. When the two face off, the Sun Goddess threatens his son, and in the ensuing madness, things happen for which Retan Shitunpe will not be forgiving the Sun Goddess. 

This arc skidded across the surface of a lot of issues, most of which will be echoing through the rest of the novel. Siblings, power, freedom, authority, and to what extent we'll sacrifice for family. 

About a hundred years have passed since the end of P+FD when the Comet Spirit crashes in the bamboo grove. This week we'll be meeting our hiwau... and someone else. 

The Moon Festival

Tonight marks the Moon Festival. These beautiful pictures come from the Freer and Sackler galleries, which you should definitely visit if you ever find yourself in Washington. Or you can just gaze at their online collections...

Gibbon reaching for reflection of the moon
ca. 1910-1930s
Ohara Koson , (Japanese, 1877 - 1945) 

Dwight William Tryon , (American, 1849-1925) 

Three hares looking at the moon
Ming dynasty
Obviously this is an especially auspicious Moon Festival as I am writing The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. 

The Heian Japanese believed the alignment of the planets in September allowed the Mid-Autumn Moon or the Harvest Moon to become clear and bright. Courtiers would drink sake and have moon viewing parties where they recited poetry. Special food dishes included sweet chestnuts, taro root, and dango, a sweet rice dumpling. Pampas grasses were used for decorations.

The Chinese ate (and still do eat) moon cakes, which are stuffed with sweetened lotus root, egg, or crushed beans. For them, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was a time to worship moon deities and lunar beings, the most famous of which is Chang'e. Like many old stories, Chang'e's tale has multiple tellings, all involving punishments and moving back and forth from the moon, the sun and moon deities, as well as rabbits and elixirs of immortality.

Not the same as Taketori monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), but similar elements.

Today I'll be working from home and writing. Maybe I'll get a moon cake somewhere...

Happy Harvest Moon

Pitch Wars Rejections

Hey, so Pitch Wars didn't work out.

Which sucked a little because I got my hopes up like a goober. The winners were announced at midnight on September 3rd, and my name wasn't on the list. By the end of the day, I had gotten my rejection emails—my first four rejection emails—from the mentors I applied to. Super interesting how different each one was. At the end of the day, I'm glad I threw my hat in the ring. (What's the expression I want?)

This was the first email I received, and from one of the mentors I really didn't expect to hear anything from. Useful to know that my query was effective.

The third person comment is an old one that I've occasionally gotten from Internet, but when I hear it, it's usually in the context of a 'I prefer first person and this isn't that' message. This is the first time I've heard it used to critique the voice of the omniscient third person narration though.

P+FD cannot be a first person story, no matter how hot first person is in YA right now. But I can check the pacing when I edit—definitely don't want anything to be stilted. ("Voice" is too vague to be helpful).

And she didn't like the story. Shrug.

This actually came from a mentor I had written off as an application dud, as post-submission I discovered that she was looking for a different age group from YA. I didn't expect an email, and when I got this I was really surprised. It was also a good second email, coming a couple hours after the frown-inducing first rejection—what do I do with 'third person voice issues?'—and gave me a bit of much needed confidence in P+FD. 

It was also nice that she read the opening and had thoughts, which she remembered weeks later, even though she didn't have to. 


This was the dream-crusher, haha. This mentor requested the full P+FD manuscript. If she hadn't, I would have forgotten about Pitch Wars after submission like I usually do with writing stuff.

She was so nice about it all, and I wish her the best of luck with her mentees. (Unless she picked the person doing the ancient China novel, and if so, I'll have to go cry in my kitchen as I eat a bowl of brownie dough. ...Is it called "dough?")

Anyway, I'll buy The Wrath and the Dawn when it comes out. It sounds awesome.


I didn't expect a response from this mentor either, haha, given that she was also a post-submission dud. Either way, she was a sport about it.

So this makes the first four P+FD rejections. I'm going to be editing next month and working towards submitting to the slush piles for an agent. I might also do Pitch Madness, a Twitter agent contest on September 9th, but I'm not holding my breath for anything.

Happy September!