Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Posting News...ish :/

I should have announced this Day 3 (Tuesday) or Day 5, but I wasn’t 100% sure I needed to go through with it yet….

Anyway, I am taking about a week off of blogging to deal with some special circumstances…and also to do some planning for the blog. Flying by the seat of my pants each week, while somewhat exhilarating, is also pretty stressful.

I’ll be posting the week after next Day 3. For those who have trouble with dates—like me—that would be the 5th of March.

GOOD NEWS (well, at least I think it’s exciting ^_^’):
I’ve been compiling a poetry magazine database, creating lists of matching poems, noting deadlines and recording them in a file, etc…all to submit poetry. It’s been SO much more work than I ever would have thought it’d be, but it’s rewarding to do something that I love to do—which is write poetry.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve submitted poetry to Devozine, Alive Now, and Wicked Alice. Yay!! My next move to submit will likely be to Nerve Cowboy and/or Arsenic Lobster.

Welp, we’ll see how it all turns out. I’m hopeful everything will be accepted, but alas, the writing industry is full of rejection and disappointment.

The wait for Wicked Alice is ~3 months, and the wait for the other two is an excruciatingly long 6-8 months (they let you know if it’s accepted 1-2 months before publication of whichever theme mag you submitted to, and I submitted to the Nov/Dec 2013 theme).  

Also, even though it wasn’t a requirement listed in their guidelines, I completely forgot to put my email contact in my submission to Wicked Alice! O_O *facepalm*I mean, I emailed the submission so it isn’t like it’s impossible to find…but magazine editors are finicky about loads of things and this might be one of them.

P.S. If you’re interested in devouring some poetry, you can find Wicked Alice online here: <>

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recommends and mini-reviews II: novels, blogs, and books on craft


Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
  • This novel (memoir but not, as you’ll understand when you read the acknowledgments) is superb in every way possible. While it is true that I am biased because it features Japan ^_^’, I can honestly say that this is one of the best stories I have ever read in my life. 
  • The story is alluring and the almost-continual moments of chaos and devastation are heart-wrenching—great mechanics at work here for writers. Plus, the romance is whimsical, yet fraught with despair, suspense, and peril, which leaves the reader breathless for much of the novel.
  • The writing of Memoirs of a Geisha is exquisite. If you want to improve your figurative language skills, read this book!!! The metaphors and similes are nothing short of brilliant, full of surprise and life (not cliché, not dead from overuse, but alive!).
  • I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Bar Flower, a memoir by Lea Jacobson
  • Bar Flower is a compelling and extremely well-crafted memoir of the author’s “decadently destructive days and nights as a Tokyo nightclub hostess.” At times the revelations were entirely unexpected—and having studied Japan, Japanese culture, and the Japanese language for a number of years, I was surprised about how little I knew about the ‘floating world.’ 
  • If you are even the least bit fascinated by the concept of geisha, Bar Flower would be good to read as the world of the ‘bar flower’ complements the world of the geisha (one coin, two sides).
  • Bar Flower captures many elements of Japanese society that are unfamiliar to foreigners, and offers profound insight into social rigidity, gender politics, ‘secret’ fascinations…the point is, if you want to understand Japanese culture better, this is a read for you. I personally found this book to be a bit of a dip into culture shock (in a good way).
  • I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Writers—Jacobson has a voice you don’t want to miss, whether you’re interested in writing memoir or not.

The Bookshelf Muses <> 
  • This is an INCREDIBLE blog written by true wordsmiths that shares a wealth of knowledge about everything writing. You don’t want to miss this if you are serious about becoming a better word-crafter. (And yes, I know I’ve mentioned it somewhere else in my blog, but hey. If it’s good, it’s good, and it should be highlighted here.)

Books on Craft

Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected, by Jessica Page Morrell
  • Um, I love this book. While that sums it up for me, you’re probably wondering why  I love this book…so I’ll tell you! For starters, this author is down-to-earth, hilarious, and incredibly helpful. 
  • Sometimes books on craft are painful because the author is too distant and/or lacks trustworthy credentials (thus making you wonder about the advice given). Morrell gets personal and has the credentials as an editor and an author that make me feel confident about the tips she provides (aside from their own merit).
  • For the most part, Morrell is  compassionate when it comes to bad writing, but she doesn’t compromise the honesty we as writers desperately need to hear—especially when it comes to that one segment of dialogue that we can’t bear to part with even though we may secretly know it kinda sucks. This book will help you.
  • This book will also help you get ahead of the writing curve because Morrell takes pains to show readers the mistakes that writers make most commonly…which means you won’t make them…which means you will (hopefully) find more favor in an editor or agent’s sight. Plus, the format is just plain dandy. There are checklists, exercises, and “takeaway tips.”  
  • I would give Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us 5 out of 5 stars.

Creating Character Emotions, by Ann Hood
  • Although I wouldn’t necessarily say that all of the content of this book is positively stellar, I would say that Creating Character Emotions is, above all, practical. At the end of each emotion chapter, Hood provides exercises for readers to complete. The best way to learn how to write about emotions is 1) to read novels and 2) to practice writing them.
  • Another thing I like about Hood’s guide is that she gives several examples of good and bad writing in each chapter, and explains why. I like this because there are times when I read bad writing and know that it’s bad…but I can’t really put my finger on why it’s bad. Knowing the problem exists gives me an opportunity to fix it. Plus, her list of emotions is fairly extensive, so it’s worth the money to buy it.
  • Sadly, there are improvements that could be made. I would prefer a little more detail in certain chapters. Also, some of the exercises feel contrived/hard to really believe and get into.
  • I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Embracing stillness: 2 simple steps to becoming an avid listener of God

‘Stillness’ could be defined as the art and discipline of being with God. It is the act of intentionally listening to what God has to say, receiving His affection, soaking in His presence…and sharing your heart/thoughts back to Him in turn.

If we want to have a more meaningful relationship with God, we need to embrace stillness on a daily basis.

Here are 2 things that you can do to encourage stillness each day:

1.) Expect God to reveal His heart in "atypical" places.
                If we keep a constant look-out for the Lord, we’ll soon find that He delights in surprising us by showing His heart and His desire for us in odd and/or unexpected places.
                Whether you’re reading a book (or manga), watching tv/movies (or anime), or listening to music, there is an opportunity to experience Who God is. Don’t miss out by failing to be attentive! Expect His presence, and ask Him to reveal Himself and teach you more about Who He is.
                I’ve recently been having a hard time with running into darker subjects in my poetry…and I’ve found that many times the darker stuff will surface from pain. Welp, I was riding in the car on the way back from church trying to think about something to write and that nagging feeling of discomfort that would soon give way to pain crept under my skin. Suddenly the Lord said to me, “One day you will write from joy rather than from pain.”
                I didn’t really know how to respond to this, but a split-second later I was reminded of Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
                Throughout the majority of the series, Zuko’s convinced that anger is the driving force behind his ability to firebend…and when he eventually loses that anger, he finds that he can’t firebend anymore. In order to gain it back, he travels with Aang to a sun village, where he finds that firebending’s true expression isn’t rooted in anger at all. It’s rooted in joy, peace, and love. After the trip, Zuko’s firebending is not only back, but it’s better than ever. No more angry Zuko!
                The message for me: joy will come, and my poetry will come from the wellspring of God’s joy rather than anger or bitterness or pain, just like for Zuko  with his firebending.
                God works in mysterious ways ;)
2.) Set up signs/markers as reminders to seek God.
                When things get hectic in daily life—which seems like almost always :/—our priorities can become so convoluted we forget what’s really important. The end result is often this: Instead of serving God and following His agenda, we are serving ourselves and following an agenda of our own making, trying to occupy a place in our hearts that isn’t rightfully ours. 
                Paul mentions in I Corinthians that we “were bought at a price” (6:20, 7:23), and that the life we now live is not our own, but Christ’s, for He lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Everything that we do, think, and say should be for the purpose of glorifying God and allowing Him to glorify Himself in us (I Corinthians 10:31). If we aren’t readily seeking Him out and listening to Him, this isn’t going to happen. :(
                One way to listen: set up markers/signs! We can avoid KO status via wrong priorities by setting up markers throughout the day that remind us why we are here and Who we are living for.
                If you do a lot of driving, a good marker might look something like this: every 50-100 miles driven is your cue to take a moment or two to thank and praise God for His providence. Or every time you see an IHOP, Wal-mart, or McD’s, spend a moment of quiet with God (read a Psalm, meditate on that verse you’re trying to glean more understanding out of, thank Him for a friend and pray for said friend…).
                Be creative! Come up with daily markers to re-orient your focus while at work, school, on the road or at home, etc.
The Lord calls us to be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Accept His embrace today by taking the time to be with Him and Him only. Drink deeply, and be filled!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It’s a Word’s World

When it comes to writing, words are it. Obviously. But as writers we don’t want to get caught using clichéd phrases and/or descriptive words. And honestly, we want to use words in such a way that others may just come to revel in them as we do. (Well, ok, at least I want to do that.)

We’re not talking Overkill, but Zest—

Instead of writing about your green-eyed female character in such a way that she’s practically identical to the rest of the world’s female characters (who just happen to have full lips, high cheekbones, a slender/straight nose, and green, almond-shaped eyes in common), grab our attention and make your character stand out! Go for specifics with the color, shape, size, lid-type, etc.
Hone in on those descriptive skills! Are her eyes really just plain green, which honestly could range from the cliché emerald to the (also cliché) sea green—or are they chartreuse? When I read chartreuse, I have a clear picture in my mind of exactly the shade of green the author is talking about.

Use clever, identifiable imagery! Are they like the spring leaves outside her window, or the prickly bunch of holly near her front door? (Mind you, I honestly have no idea what holly is. I wanted to say mistletoe…and then I realized that I dunno what that looks like, either. Good thing I’m not writing a book about plants.)

The point is, we’re writers. We can do WAY better than green.

Wrangle the nerve of Nuance—

Choosing just the right word can be difficult, but the work involved to get it is SO worth it. Not only will you have the immense satisfaction that it’s the perfect fit, but others will note the care you took to wrangle it.

When it comes to nuance, a thesaurus is a trusty, insightful friend. I usually use Webster’s online version because I’ve found that it’s free, quick, easy, and best of all, it generates a LOT of words. 

In a poem I wrote called Blue (*sidenote* so excited about sending it out to Wicked Alice!!!), I had the hardest time coming up with a word that would describe dark yellow/tan/sandy rhyolite (a type of stone you find on the beach)…and so I put in ‘tan’ in the thesaurus…

and I tinkered around with my options, making a list of suitable words and plugging each on it in again to get another word or two until I finished the list. I quickly realized that there was no one word that captured what I saw…but two words might. 

I settled for dusky ochre rhyolite. Pretty good compared to tan or sandy rhyolite, right? I should right an ode to the thesaurus…

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Listen. Do something.

If you take a moment to look into the lives of people around you…whether you’re working, surfing the net, hanging out in a restaurant or café, or figuring out your place in life at college…you’ll find that everyone you’ve met has struggled with something at one time or another. They may even be struggling right now.

But if you’ve never listened to their story or watched it unfold, you will never know—or worse, never care—about it….And the odds of you making a meaningful impact in such lives is slim.

Who wants to live a life without any purpose or meaning whatsoever? Despite what people might say, the way they live their lives is the final word. People want to be acknowledged, to belong, to make a difference in this world, however small.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recommends and mini-reviews: novels, blogs, and books on craft

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  • Brilliant and well-researched, this novel leads readers through an 18-year-old’s intense psychological journey to better understand love and forgiveness. Victoria Jones, an orphan, has been emancipated from the system and is forced to learn to live on her own in the streets until she meets Renata, a local flower shop owner. Victoria takes the job she’s offered and ends up colliding with her past through the people she meets while working. It was excellent!!
  • I’d give it either a 4.5 or a 5 out of 5 stars.
  • I recommend this book for writers because Diffenbaugh’s prose is delicate, sensuous, and invigorating; her dialogue is poignant and descriptive (showing instead of telling); and her pacing heightens suspense without being obnoxious (which is significant coming from me because normally this would seriously annoy me). Lot’s to learn from this author—and *BONUS* The Language of Flowers is her debut novel! Very encouraging.
  • A blog for writers and speakers loaded with information and insight about pretty much everything from craft to platform and beyond. I loves it ^_^.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


In my last discipleship post, I wrote that being a disciple is about letting go of the love affairs we have in our lives that can and will keep us from having the real thing with God if we let them. The point of ending a love affair in God’s economy is simple: it allows us to return to our true Love—Him.

But letting go of a love affair is not the last step we take in being devoted to someone; it’s one of the very first.

Our aim is to better know Who God IS—to have an intimate relationship with God in which we experience Him on a moment-by-moment love God with all of ourselves…to worship Him and no one else—not ourselves, our favorite sports players or musicians, our bf/gf/h/w, our career, and/or our hobbies.

You can’t have a relationship with someone you’ve never met…and you can’t have an intimate relationship with someone you have met but don’t spend a significant amount of spend time with.