A small offering


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When Korean high schoolers get asked to design jack-o-lanterns and witches and to draw a classmate in a princess costume.

In writing-related news, the revisions to Ciphers are 20 pages away from finished. I am currently looking for five qualified betas who can read the manuscript in one week or less. I’m sending out my query letter to the first agent on November 7.

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A New Goal


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I just realized that if I finish my revisions by the 23rd of this month, it will have taken me exactly a year and a half to write Ciphers. Considering my first novel took eight years and was still unpublishable when I finally retired it, that’s pretty awesome.

Even more awesome? This is totally feasible. Just three and a half chapters to go!

Korean Homestay #2


Due to some added stress with her job, my old host mom decided it would be better for me to change home stays so I could be properly taken care of. I trusted her decision, and her choice of my new host family, and so yesterday evening I finally moved into my new home.

And wow, I lucked out again.

Location-wise, the new place is even more convenient than my old one, though the city noises are pretty pervasive. My host mom runs a restaurant downtown, and the flat is on the second floor of that. I can walk to my school — and pretty much everywhere else — in just ten minutes now, rather than taking the bus. Finally, consistent exercise! Though it’s a bit less than I was getting in Miami. (For perspective, my apartment to my job at FIU was close to a twenty-minute walk, and I only lived across the street!) My room is large and comfy, and my new (real) bed has a heater.

It is the Best Bed Ever.

My host mom, Yeong-suk, speaks very little English, but so far we’ve been able to communicate pretty well thanks to receptive skills and gestures. She also calls upon my new 12-year-old host brother to translate sometimes. I have yet to meet my host dad, though I know he exists; a sinus headache got the better of me today so I’ve been in my room pretty much the whole time. Yeong-suk brought me food, including ye good ole Korean “hamburger,” which was actually not bad. Her son, Tae-hyeong, brought me water. They’re both sweet, caring people. : )

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll definitely get some photos once my phone is charged up, but the wifi here comes and goes so I don’t know when I can post them.

Ciphers Update and the Importance of Character Motivation


Where have I been lately? Just the usual: recovering from pneumonia, getting shuttled all over Cheollanamdo for Chuseok, sinking to my knees in Korean mudflats in search of snails to fry up in their shells, chatting with my host mom’s good-looking 27-year-old brother, watching the family pull bee larvae out of their honeycomb and eat them, getting ready to move this afternoon…

I am a horrible blogger. XD

But I’m trying not to be a horrible novelist. Once again, it is Friday afternoon and I find myself at Cafe Vill, working on Ciphers. I have just under two months until my self-appointed deadline of a query-ready manuscript, and while I haven’t been able to work on the novel half as much as I would have liked, I still have hope that I can actually make this deadline. Especially now that I’ve wizened up and remembered I have Writerly Tricks up my sleeve!

In a nutshell, my lack of productivity has been more due to being overwhelmed than anything. At first I thought the last six or so chapters of the book would need a horrendous amount of rewriting. I figured out a way to avoid that (which also happens to strengthen the villain’s character a lot) but have still been procrastinating because…

Monday: Ugh. Really? I’m too tired for so much thinking today. I’ll do it tomorrow.

Tuesday: Four classes. In a row. Sorry, novel.

Wednesday: What novel?

Thursday: Zzzzz…

Friday: Hey, I think I got this! Blog time!

I know, I know. But I promise this post is going somewhere!

Because there was a scene in there I REALLY couldn’t stand, in which one character used a kind of emotional hypnosis (“psychic persuasion”) to make another character do something. It was random, illogical, and — I realized — a total cheat. I was just avoiding letting the hypnotized character be responsible for his own actions, because I didn’t have a good reason why he would actually choose them.

In other words, I’d completely overlooked that character’s motivation.

And I couldn’t figure out a motivation strong enough to make him do what was necessary.

Solution: revisit this. My own plotting technique. I almost kicked myself for forgetting about it. Even though it’s such a simple guideline, it’s really an awesome tool for me because, as a scatterbrained author, I need the organization. Using this template forces me to break complex plot lines into individual events, and then break the events down into five very simple parts: task, motivation, method, obstacles, outcome.

I won’t get into more detail because that’s what the linked post is all about. But I will say that using the guideline I spent all of five minutes on my motivation problem before figuring out what would finally get the character to move, and exactly how that would affect the outcome.

Five minutes. After hours of dithering and weeks of cringing at that scene thinking “this needs to change” and then marking it to work on later.

In conclusion, don’t forget the motivation!

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