Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Very Last 2014

People always ask me what I'm doing for New Year's Eve. Usually, my answer is the same: nothing. This isn't because I have the energy of an old lady, and like to go to bed at 10pm. More so, it's knowing that New Year's Eve is THE ultimate party night: counting down to 2015 in a room full of strangers does not sound appealing, especially when you're sure to run into a few traffic accidents on the way home (with no alternate routes. That's why I'm complaining).

Tonight is the perfect night to reflect on 2014 - that year full of big changes and surprises. The year that seemed as if it'd never end.

A few things happened on the way to 2015 that I hadn't been able to blog about until now. This is the perfect time to share them with you.

Doing Author Things

In 2014, the best news I could have ever hoped for arrived: my debut novel is being published!!! Even though I have indeed blogged about The Call, as well as posting the occasional smattering of photos on Instagram and Twitter, I haven't written about it much on this blog. Probably because the rounds of revisions, edits, and top-secret decisions I made regarding Love Fortunes and Other Disasters have kept me busy.

Facebook reminded me of some key 2014 moments, including one of the best moments (because boy does it ever feel good to finish a manuscript, first draft or fifth draft, haha!):

Not long after, I submitted my manuscript to Swoon Reads.... and the rest is history! 

Over the summer, I took a trip to see family in New York, and stopped by Swoon Headquarters to meet Jean Feiwel, my editor, Holly West, and the rest of the amazing staff over at Swoon Reads. It was an awe-inspiring experience, and I was shaking with nerves and excitement after taking the elevator to Swoon's floor. The second I saw the books, though, I felt at home. As you might expect from Macmillan, there were stacks and shelves of books everywhere, along with huge posters of beautiful covers. I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. 

Then it was time to get to work. Holly wrote about the experience from her point of view here - which is pretty cool to look back on, since in some ways, the trip to Swoon was a delightful blur. I loved getting to talk with Holly about my edit letter, and plan together how I would tackle the first round of edits. Totally worth it. I wish I could beam myself over for meetings. Alas. Maybe someone will create a teleporter in 2015.

With Love Fortunes in interior design, and a few more months before it hits bookstores, I had thought it would be too early for any authorly things to happen. But I was wrong. My coworkers always find new and creative ways to see if I happen to have a copy hidden up my sleeve (nope), and I'm starting to have a tagline when I'm introduced to new people ("And this is Kim, she's the author."). Once, when me and the 'rents were visiting my brother in Tallahassee, we took a trip to Thomasville, Georgia and I stepped into an adorable bookshop... and then things happened and this photo was taken:

I will never get used to it - it's just too magical! Bring it on, 2015!

Meeting Robert Irvine

I wasn't able to attend 2014's Disney's Food & Wine Festival. My disappointment only grew after realizing that I couldn't write a blog post about it this year. Even though the festival was extended, those weekends in the fall had been stuffed with dog-sitting, errands, and holding down the fort as we weathered a few big changes. By the time I made it to Disney, the booths had already been packed up. I almost cried when I saw them missing (because, yeah, I really thought I had booked that trip within the festival dates. Darn).

Despite that, a dream did still come true during the festival. My mom and I got to meet Robert Irvine.

We hadn't seen Robert since he last came to Disney World for the festival in 2011. So when it was announced that he would be there this year, I hoped that we could make it to see him. The stars aligned (it really felt that way, the way fall was going for us) and we were free to go! Mom and I got up early and drove to Epcot. The sky was dark, threatening rain, but it couldn't dampen our spirits (or Robert's cookbook that I kept in a Ziploc bag, mwahaha).

We went straight to the festival center and found out that the crowd for Robert was so large that Disney decided to hand out wristbands to the first hundred or so people, and no one else would be allowed to wait in line to meet him. The wristbands? Of course there were no more left.

Dejected, we grabbed some lunch before Robert was scheduled to give his demonstration. While dunking my french fries in barbecue sauce and staring out the window at the Electric Umbrella, an idea came to me.  I tweeted Robert about the situation... and then fangirled about ten minutes later when I saw his response:

After finishing lunch, we ran back to the festival center in the rain. We brought an umbrella with us, but Florida's famous sideways rain ignored the umbrella and soaked us anyway. 

The demonstration was so much fun to watch, especially since Robert's charisma shone through from the moment he stepped onto the stage. Since he wasn't under the pressure of turning around a failing restaurant or cooking by the clock, he cracked jokes, danced, and got the audience engaged in what he was cooking. His wife and one of his daughters were there to support him - very cool! Before we knew it, the hour was over, but Robert still stayed behind to answer questions before heading over to the signing area. 

Mom and I knew that getting to meet Robert would be near impossible due to the wristbands, but we decided to try anyway. A nice cast member roped off the wristband line and let us wait behind the rope, just in case Robert finished all the wristband people before his hour was up. That alone gave us hope. So we waited. Flipped through Robert's cookbook. And waited some more. Near the end of the hour, another cast member announced that they would now open the line up for the non-wristbanders, because Robert didn't want his fans to feel like he didn't want to see them (awww, right?).

So we waited a little more, and then this happened: 

Lemme tell you, meeting Robert Irvine was right up there on my top 2014 moments. I mean, usually I get nervous when meeting celebrities, or even Disney characters (don't even get me started about being tongue-tied around Prince Caspian, haha), but the minute it was our turn to see Robert, I felt at ease. Maybe because he's more awesome in person than on TV, if you can believe that, but also because he knew exactly who I was before I could say more than, "We made it!"

He recognized me from my Twitter profile photo. And, even more magical, remembered us from when we saw him at the festival center back in 2011! "You were standing in the same spot," he said, while signing the cookbook, "right over there."

If that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Being A Guest "Player Hater:" 

Since I'm admittedly scared of playing horror games - especially survivor horror games, where you're not allowed to take a swing that the hideous things chasing you - I've been watching a ton of Let's Play videos by various braver gamers. My favorite being theRadBrad, since he's manages to be funny without eclipsing the story lines (I really, really appreciate being given the chance to ponder a plot twist and read the picked up notes while watching, thank you).

That said, my brother Bill decided to try his hand at Let's Play by starting his own channel, lovably named the Player Haters. And, since he was coming home for the holidays, he thought that having is big sister play some games with him would be a fun.

And so we did.

We both have a long history with SkiFree, and quite frankly, I think we were both at our best before ye old holiday mass eating happened and we got sleepy.

I have to admit that getting a cartoon icon of my face was pretty epic. Do you think it looks like me? Enjoy the video (and if you haven't played SkiFree yet, maybe you should add that to your 2015 goals)!

1. Write more books.
2. Read everything unread on my bookshelves (and donate the books I don't want to keep)
3. Replay at least one Final Fantasy game
4. Schedule more trips to Jellyrolls, the dueling piano bar
5. Make more time for social things, like hanging out with friends
6. Keep up with exercising and healthy eating
7. Cook something without the aid of a microwave
8. Be braver. 

What are your goals for 2015? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Long time, no write! How are you doing? 

I've missed this blog. November flew by so quickly. NaNoWriMo tends to speed November up, but guys, it's already December. I can barely catch my breath.

The reason I'm able to write today is because of a cold. I woke up yesterday morning with a pounding headache and a sore throat. This morning, it was a stuffy nose and earache, due to a buildup of congestion.

Apparently, I am too old to have the common cold. Noooooo. I have to be plagued with extreme congestion every time, the kind that cannot be cured without vigilant meds.

Are you wondering what happened to my NaNoWriMo escapade? Swoon Reads asked me to share my end-of-the-month experience on its blog, so please enjoy all my The Nightmare Before Christmas references as I share how that went.

I have also finally made a Facebook Author page. I had been holding out on making one for a while, but once the final cover for LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS was announced, I felt it was the right time. My Facebook page will probably be more focused on writing, but don't be surprised when Disney World sneaks in there sooner or later.

With my copyedits finished and LOVE FORTUNES in interior design, I've got a small break from Fallon and Sebastian's charming world. But the work doesn't stop there. More surprises are on the way. If you've been following my blog for a while, then you're familiar with the stories I've written in the past. You also know that I follow my crazy ideas anywhere, so writing something new is also a thing I do a lot. At the moment, I've got my hands in both new and old tales.

*reads that back* Hoooooo boy. Yeah. I got five stars on being vague, right there.

I'm beginning to think that being infuriatingly mysterious is part of my job description.  

At the end of the month, I'm going to put together a 2014 recap. I'm in sore need to share some great events and moments with you, but I think my medication is wearing off. I need more cough syrup. More decongestant. More naps.  

How's December going for you? Have you finished your shopping lists? Getting ready for vacation? Nursing a cold? 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Challenge of the Pantser: NaNoWriMo 2014

The weirdest part about participating in NaNoWriMo is that the rest of the world only sees the next 30 days as "November." Non-writers continue to do laundry, eat, scrub the bathtub, party with friends, NOT THINK ABOUT WRITING 24/7. I don't get them. Especially when I reach the halfway point in the month, and everyone around me is too cheerful.

But for us writers, the biggest challenge of the year has arrived. Some of us get scared. Some of us live for the thrill. I'm a mixture of both.

If you didn't catch the news on Swoon Reads, then I'll say it again here. I am totally a:

Me and my fellow Swoon authors are joining together to share our NaNo journeys, tips, woes, and strategies for success! I even made a new NaNo profile - you can find me there! The winner's shirt is calling my name this year (I think it's the dragon), but I'm going to do my best and see what happens. After all, I know from experience that November throws a lot of curve balls.

When I taught college classes in grad school, it was the month when all the big papers were due. The papers I had to write for my classes, yes, but also for my students to turn theirs in for me to grade. I'm sure my "real world" job will provide some kind of equivalent.

As part of my strategy, I'm doing two new things this year. The first is writing mainly on my iPad Mini. This is my first year using it, and I'm still getting used to Pages. I'm a Word girl, through and through, but the convenience of opening my manuscript within seconds is too good to pass up. The best part is that speed. I can wake up in the middle of the night and write a paragraph. Or come home from work and write a page. My laptop is just too slow for that - and slowness can be the enemy of motivation, haha.

I've never actually done word sprints either (I just usually look for pockets of time when they come and write then), but I downloaded some apps to try. I'll let you know later in the month how that goes.

I usually participate every November, using the camaraderie and energy of the event to help me make the final push to the last chapter on whatever project I had already been working on. It's been a while since I started writing a new novel on November 1st. I love the feeling of starting a new project, one with new characters, twists and turns that surprise even me as I write them, and finding new worlds to explore. So NaNoWriMo 2014 begins with a brand-new project, unconnected to anything I've written before.

My NaNo novel is tentatively called Brightly Wound. I made one of my famous lists-of-all-the-things-between-the-pages, to give you an idea of what this novel is made of: a somewhat-villainous boy; a powerful, heartbroken girl; talking animals, rum raisin desserts, zebras, delicious kings, shadow kings, three impossible tasks, the aftermath of a love triangle, favors great and small, family heirlooms, golden hoods, lovable henchmen, hideouts, and exactly one showdown.

This was also the extent of my planning before October came to a close.

The Muppet-ish Halloween pen did not help me find a plot.

While I am usually a panster, this year, obviously, I'm an extreme panster.

Urban Dictionary gives a great definition of what a "pantser" is:

This is the way I like to write. I have to have the freedom to improvise on the page. If I plan everything out, down to the dialogue in every scene, it takes the fun out of creating. I did all the work, but the storytelling isn't there yet, on paper, unfolding like blanket still warm from the dryer. 

But I usually spend a few weeks before toying with the new novel in my head. Sometimes jotting down notes. Starting a Pinterest board. But November took me by surprise this year. It was upon us and I was stepping into uncharted territory. There was some panic, on my part, as I opened my document and wrote the first lines, hoping for the best. 

What I did have, though, was one particular character that demanded to be written. He dogged me for weeks, begging for a world to be planted in, because he came alone. His name is Jasper. He was a bully. Now he's kinda a villain. And as long as I'm concentrating on him, I've discovered that he brings the story to him. I just have to listen. 

For those of you participating this year, how did your pre-planning go? What level or panster or planner are you? 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tampa Bay Times: Festival of Reading

Halloween is my favorite time of the year. There is no better holiday, to me, than one where we run around ringing doorbells, lugging around garbage bags full of candy, pennies, and dental floss (didn't that happen to you?), while ghoulish skeletons and vampires try to scare us.

What. Could. Be. Better?

The man. The legend. R.L. Stine being brilliant.
Turns out, October brought with it a special bookish surprise that I HAD to write about. Every year, the Tampa Bay Times organizes the Festival of Reading in St. Petersburg, Florida. This was the first year I went. I couldn't resist my friend and author JB Lynn's invitation to go with her. We both learned very quickly that even the best GPS's can't find certain streets, and that neither of us never lost our nerves as we drove down neighborhood roads and trolled through overflow parking lots.

When we finally made it, the festival was in full swing. The tiny campus of USF-St. Petersburg was packed with early risers, already in line to meet their favorite authors or attend their readings. The sheer amount of people that came out for the event was awe-inspiring.

I'm so used to not attending book events, since there's a lack of them where I live. But being able to go, and with a great friend no less, made attending this festival 100+ times more awesome.

Instead of a series of panels, the Festival of Reading schedules authors to speak for about 45 minutes, and then sign books for 45 minutes afterwards. The campus was small, but not small enough to see two authors in one hour - a huge bummer, since we ended up missing John Henry Fleming by four minutes. Yes, I counted. He had disappeared like a magician by the time me and Jennifer burst into an empty signing room.

We tried seeing Carl Hiaasen first thing in the morning, but found the ballroom to be filled to the brim with his fans. All the seats were taken. Standing room taken. And with fifteen minutes before the talk began, the room was already boiling hot. From years of going to anime conventions, I knew this was a bad sign. Rooms don't get hot so soon, so fast, at the very beginning of the day when a nice breeze was still blowing outside.

We ducked out of the room and opted for lunch instead. It was a shame, but as soon as we popped open our cold, spicy sushi rolls, we knew we made a good decision.

The morning, after all, was chilly enough to wear coats. It was glorious - I think even my coat was smiling, because it rarely gets to leave my closet - for about a half and hour. Before it got REALLY HOT outside. So we buried our coats in our bags and ate our cold lunches.

I've recently become a rabid fan of Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Lattes. There it is. Oh my gosh. The autumn feels.

Re-energized, we went back upstairs after the Hiaasen fans left to listen to R.L. Stine talk.

R.L. Stine was my Reason For Coming. In the sense that, if I got to meet him during the festival, I would consider it one life goal achieved.

Like many people, I grew up reading his Goosebumps series. I used to borrow stacks of those books from the library, and never moved from the couch until I had finished them all. Between my brother and I, we owned a lot of Goosebumps books, and most of them have stayed with us over the years. Here's a photo of all the books we have now, give or take a few that I have in my room, where I'm rereading them (eh, I can't help it):

Jennifer and I settled into our seats. We were both surprised that R.L. Stine's talk wasn't packed with people, but also thrilled at the same time. It meant we wouldn't slowly bake for the next 45 minutes, haha. Stine walked around the room before the talk started, chatting with readers. When he stepped up to the podium and began to talk, I was blown away by how epic he was in his presentation. I mean, he was ridiculously funny and engaging. He shared some of his fan letters, and I was lucky enough to film snippets of that, so you completely understand what I mean when I say that we were rolling the aisles over his charmingly frank delivery (videos HERE and HERE, via my Instagram).  

He shared a "true" ghost story (debatable, even by him) and talked about the new Goosebumps movie coming out soon (and how he was told he was too old to play himself in the movie, awwww). When he opened the floor for questions, a bunch of kids came up to the extra mic. I've never heard kids ask questions, despite having attended panels for years. The coolest part was that the kids wanted to know what his favorite things where - his scariest book, his favorite book to write, etc. I don't think adults ever ask those kinds of questions. 

It was hard to tear ourselves away, but Jennifer and I wanted to make sure that we had a good chance of meeting Stine at the signing. We slipped out of the room and went outside where they had set up booths for the authors (thankfully shaded for them). We ended up talking to the people in line with us as we slowly moved forward in line. And then... sooner than I thought, I was face to face with R.L. Stine! 

This was probably not my shining moment of cleverness. I asked him to sign one of my favorites of his books, and we ended up talking about it a little (more like bumbling on my part, haha) as he signed the book. He was very kind, and managed to play off my awkwardness to make us both laugh. The biggest question people asked me when I started posting these photos to Instagram was what book was it that I picked? 

It was a hard decision, but I went with ESCAPE FROM THE CARNIVAL OF HORRORS, the first of the Goosebumps' Choose Your Own Adventure books. 

Do you see the holographicness? Do you? It's blinding. This photo doesn't do it justice, but you would know if you ever read one of these. 

I think I've read this book every way you could. My brother, mom, and I took turns reading it out loud. Many times I cheated by bookmarking the pages so that if I got a bad ending, I didn't have to start all over again (I'm sure I'm not the only one). This book, in particular, has my favorite bad ending of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, featuring the Doom Slide. 

What are you waiting for? Go read it. 

Book Haul:

 Okay, so this time, it's not a "haul." But I did get two great books. The first is R.L. Stine's newest Fear Street book, Party Games. I didn't read as many Fear Street books (though Sunburn is one of my favorite books, ever, but my copy is too tattered to have survived the journey to the festival). But the premise sounds intriguing. It won't be long before I start reading it. Like, probably tomorrow.

Then there's this beauty. I could not have left the festival without this extensive collection of Andrew Lang's fairy tales. The thing is, I could talk about Lang for a long time. It should probably be its own blog post. But he is my favorite fairy tale curator. I only owned one of his collections, the classic Blue Fairy Book, so finding this book that covers multiple collections seemed like a dream come true. I started reading it last night before bed, and YES, it is a dream come true. 

And one more thing: when I first saw this book sitting underneath B&N's vendor booth, I thought, my gosh, the cover art reminds me of Thumbelina's book. 

IT DOES. More magic, my friends. 

Have you ever met a favorite author? what was the experience like? What about book events/festivals? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Forgotten Memories

This month had everything to do with my grandparents. I mean, yes, September has thrown a few wonderful experiences my way (though we both need to be patient and wait for my annual Disney’s Food and Wine Festival blog post for the full scoop!). And I’m also proud to say that my revisions for LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS are finished. That charming manuscript is in copyediting right now.

But as 2014 creeps closer to its end, I find that my grandparents have invaded my mental bubble with their antics. Consumed by memories that are not my own, I’ve felt slightly dizzy. Daydreaming a little more often.  

Due to a series of events, we have hundreds of old photographs from when my grandparents were little. My mom and I were practically swimming in them as we sorted them as best we could. A kiddie pool tub of photos. Most of them are tiny, with scalloped edges that make it hard to turn the pages of the booklets my grandmother saved from her grand European tour when she was in her 20s.

I’ve always found old photographs to be inspiring and fascinating (yes, I have read and enjoyed Random Riggs’ work), but there’s something strangely muted and mysterious when it comes to family photos. You feel like you should know these people, even though most of them died before you started walking. Overexposures. Blurry arms and legs. So many blinking eyes. Strangers in long coats and hats. Ladies who pose better for a camera than I ever could (just how do they look so graceful all the time?). There were even photos from a World’s Fair – that much my mom knew, and I geeked out and hugged the copies.

I’d like to share a few of the photos I found: of people who will always be strangers to me, of places I have yet to see even in current time and space, and unknowable stories.

And here's my grandmother as a teen. Way more dapper than me!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Do Me a Flavor and Recover From Work

Have you ever experienced the sheer terror and exhilaration (but mostly terror) of trying to meet a deadline? More specifically, like writing an essay due by midnight and you're still madly typing your conclusion at 11:58? That was what my job was like these past two weeks.

Deadlines don't go away after you're done with school. In fact, the stakes of not meeting those deadlines only increases. When we write stories, our characters have deadlines. Our own lives are much the same. At work, I'm part of team, and we function like cogs in a great big timepiece. A timepiece that stalls a lot, doesn't tick when it should, and chimes deafeningly at the most random of times (think surprise emails and fire drills).

In an effort to meet our first big deadline, I spent a good couple days inputting information as the speed of light, which required my hand to produce the same set of actions over and over and over again with my mouse. Cut, hover, right click, paste, open tab, cross the thing off the list, continue. I did not stretch my legs, talk, or go to the bathroom for a good few hours. My deskmate, who is a kind woman who enjoys feeding me spicy Indian food, was appalled that I wouldn't try one of her snacks. "If you don't eat today," she said the following morning, "I'm going to give you an IV drip."

And yet, with the looming deadline, all I could think and feel was:

By the end of those days, My hands were kinda numb. And hurting. I think my left hand only hurt because its sister-hand was in pain. Sort of like how my brother cried and screamed when he saw me crying and screaming after Alien Encounter (nightmare fuel for a little kid, I tell you. There's a reason why Disney replaced that ride).

At times like these, it's important to try to maintain what they call work-life balance. Impossible, yes. But can you come close? If you try. I've been reading a lot. Writing a little. Watching movies and TV shows that had long been collecting dust on my Netflix account. Most exciting for me, as usual, is getting to try weird food. If you haven't noticed, the Lay's Do Us a Flavor contest is upon us again this year.

I was thrilled. I submitted my own flavor idea (obviously, this year is not the year of the prawn-flavored chips, aww) and couldn't wait to taste the finalists' chips. Last year, I had a hard time finding the chips where I lived, to the point where I tried special ordering them (and failing). Two of my friends ended up mailing me the chips - it was the only way I got to test-taste them last year.

Preparing for another chip-hunt this year, I was relieved to see that Lay's got it right: all four flavors were in my grocery store (in fact, they are everywhere). An awesome co-worker even went ahead and bought small bags of each; we ended up turning our lunch hours that week into exciting taste-testing sessions. The best distraction from work, haha.

Bacon Mac & Cheese: Honestly, there's nothing wrong with this flavor, except that it doesn't taste like bacon mac and cheese. At all. Can't taste the bacon. Or the cheese, for that matter. If you close your eyes and ignore what the bag says, it tastes like honey barbecue - and that already exists.  

Mango Salsa: When I saw the commercials, this flavor was the one I was most excited about. I wanted it to win; after all, I love everything mango. And mango salsa. Of course. How could this go wrong? Mango Salsa is still my second favorite choice, but I think the wavy shape of the chips don't lend well to the distribution of flavor. And as other reviewers said, it smells just like a Bath & Body Works product. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you. 

Cappuccino: ... no. I swear I tried it. I don't like coffee. My co-workers inhale it. Yet I was the one who made the plunge and ate the first chip *shudders* I don't know how to describe it. Like something plain, stale, and non-edible. 

Ginger Wasabi: Top choice, right here. At first, I wasn't very excited about Ginger Wasabi because it's already been done with Triscuit (wasabi and soy sauce, but you know, same principle). The Lay's version is more delicate, allowing you to eat a ton of chips without suffering from watery eyes and the stinging of the nose, haha. I think it's tasty. I also love sushi, so I may be biased. 

Have you tried any of the flavors? Voted? What did you think? 

Just like my coverage of Disney's Food and Wine Festival, I think this Lay's contest is going to be a regular thing. 

Meanwhile, I've also been celebrating the release of Sandy Hall's debut novel, A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Sandy's book was the first chosen by Swoon Reads for publication. I enjoyed reading the ARC, but nothing beats holding the real book in your hands. If you haven't gotten your copy, you need to get on that. Or at least, go to your local bookstore and pet the cover. You'll be glad you did.


Friday, August 15, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour Post

My participation on the My Writing Process Blog Tour is due to John Henry Fleming's persuasive powers. I can't say no to my professor, not matter how long I've been out of school (and it hasn't been that long, come to think of it). I've written about John on my blog a few times now; his writing is delightfully bizarre, showcased through his newest book, Songs for the Deaf. 

John's other (but no less impressively bizarre) books include The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel just re-issued in a 20th Anniversary Edition ebook; Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary; and The Book I Will Write, a novel-in-emails originally published serially and now available as an ebook. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Florida, and he’s the founder and advisory editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. His website is

1) What are you working on?

The moon and stars revolve around my debut novel at the moment, LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS. After juggling multiple projects for so long, it's strange to say that Fallon Dupree and her world of charms and fortunes is what's on my mind. I'm working through my first round of revisions.

Before starting a new project, I'd love to write some more flash fiction and short stories. I feel like it's been a while and I have some new ideas lurking.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

HMM. Not sure how to answer this one. A lot of my writing falls into the vein of magical realism. I think magical realism is still growing in the YA genre, but a lot of those books I’ve read tend to have dark, sometimes very sad tales to tell. I prefer to write stories that are a little brighter–maybe that’s years of Disney’s influence on me, but there you go.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I can’t help it. I grew up exposed to storytelling that embraced the strange, if not for fantasy’s sake, then humor. I’m talking about cartoons, video games, children’s books, fairy tales and mythology. In my own writing, I strive to create stories of oddball characters and circumstances. If I had any writerly motto, it would have to be straight from Edgar Allan Poe: “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.”

4) How does your writing process work?

In the beginning, I’m a scavenger. I keep my eyes open for ideas and start gathering bits and pieces that shine, so to speak. When they come together, that's when the work begins.

While I use notebooks to write outlines, character bios, and other notes, I do the writing itself on a computer. I’m actually a terrible speller, so seeing the errors while I’m writing is a huge distraction for me–not a problem if I have good old Spell Check on hand. This is probably kinda weird, but when I’m writing on my computer, I love having the Word file zoomed out so that I can see two pages at a time. It’s like I’m hovering over the page in a helicopter, rather than in the trenches. After stealing writing time both in grad school and at my job (yay, lunch breaks!) I’m so used to people walking behind my desk and getting a clear view of my computer screen. So the privacy of writing with such tiny print is an added benefit to that habit!

I usually write my first drafts fairly quickly, but that depends on outside forces, like life (work, laundry, room-cleaning, socializing. What are those things?). The amount of drafts I go through while revising depends upon the project - I've found that each new book demands a different process.

Thank you for inviting me to join the tour, John. This is the part where I'm supposed to introduce you to three awesome writers making their posts next week. 

But I kind of failed at that.

The blame is in my corner. I don't have many authorly friends. YET. I also worked mandatory overtime for the first time this week. My brain has melted into an unidentifiable shape. 

But if you're interested in reading more about the writing process, do check out John and Jim's posts. Startlingly enough, I seem to have beaten Ira. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Revision Game

As you might have guessed, my tardiness has much to do with THE BOOK. July ended on a bittersweet note, with both my job getting crazy-busy and my dog falling ill.  Misty is much better now, though still recovering, and I'm getting used to the roller coasterish excitement that is now becoming my day-to-day life at the office. 

Meanwhile, Swoon Reads has been full of surprises! In case you missed it, voting for LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS' cover totally happened. These lovely covers had been the choices:

Which one did you vote for?

The cover voting made me even more inspired as I work through my revisions. Which, by the way, has been going pretty well despite facing some intimidating changes. When I say "intimidating," I'm not talking about the meaning in a classic sense. My editorial letter rocked. After combing through the letter with my editor, Holly, and finding solutions and brainstorming for a good few hours, I'm excited. I can't wait to share the new scenes, the twists and turns that are forming underneath my fingers as I type them out into what's becoming a shiny new draft.

But if you've ever written anything, be it a short story, novel, or even essay, you know what I mean when I say that there are intimidating parts of everything we write. Those scenes that you want to revise and make better, that you're just itching to unravel - but you remember the mountains you climbed to pull that idea from you head in the first place, and wonder if it will stay intact once you start making it better.

And so, while I bravely plunged into my manuscript with sword and shield in hand, I had some moments where my attitude was more like...

... and I'm pretty sure that's normal. Going slow, and taking these scenes piece my piece, usually helps me. If you poke a hole, ignore the whizzing sound of the air rushing loose, or plug it up temporarily with a giant I Shall Return note in the margins. Or highlight. I love highlighting. Listening to perfection in the form of movie soundtracks doesn't hurt either (if you peeked at my Twitter feed this weekend, you knew I was half-bawling, half smiling while revising to A Little Princess and The Secret Garden soundtracks).  

I've got a few more matters to attend to before turning in my first round of revisions *snaps on surgical gloves*

When the headaches subside and the night wraps stars around my house, I recover a sense of adventure and revise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Call: Told in GIFs

So Swoon Reads did the thing: announcing the next two books on its second list. And guess who made it...

This day has been crazy exciting. I've had to keep this news a secret for what seemed like an eternity, and now it's finally out! My manuscript previously called WE COULD FALL IN LOVE has been given a great new title: LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS. And it will be in stores on June 9th, 2015. You can read the official announcement here (and find out about the third book written by K.A. Cozzo). There's also a an interview where I ramble about feeling shiny and a video greeting in which I am showered with paper hearts. Fun times. 

I'm overwhelmed and indescribably honored to be flooded today with well wishes and excitement from friends, family, and a bevy of awesome readers. If I haven't gotten back to you yet, it probably has something to do with me being unable to keep my eyes open any longer. The minute I hit the pillow, I'll be in dreamland, haha. But before I give in, I'd like to share with you what it felt like to receive The Call: that moment when a writer is contacted by a publisher about his/her book. 

The Call actually came in the form of an email first, but the phone calls that followed were nothing short of surreal. When I heard THE Jean Feiwel's voice over the phone, I'm pretty sure I babbled and said silly things as I sat stunned in my cubicle. And when I spoke with my editor, Holly West, we began to get down to business (and with our mutual love of Pushing Daisies, I knew I was in good hands!). 

I have revisions to do now, after the celebrating dies down. LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS is going to be even more awesome. You're going to love the changes that await Fallon and the gang. 

1. Surprisingly eloquent GIF representation of my publishing journey up until this point (minus the ice cream):

2. Checking my email at work like a sneaky employee:

2. Initial reaction to the Swoon Reads email:

3. Talking with Jean Feiwel on the phone:

4. Talking with Holly West on the phone:

5. Me, internally:

6. Miraculously maintaining my composure for the rest of the day: