A Blog Post on the One Topic I Swore I’d Never Write About

Today I’m going to write about something I said I never would—dating.

In my life, I’ve probably been out on about a billion dates. I like people generally, so usually I enjoy them. That said, as often as it has led me to new friends, dating isn’t supposed to be about that. It’s supposed to be about finding… what? A soul mate? A life partner? Someone who is nice/smart/makes you laugh? This is the question I was trying to figure out recently. (And the answer actually does have something to do with the process of writing this book.)

So I sat down one day and thought about the people who I really, really liked. I thought about the loves, but also those situations they talk about on the Bachelor – i.e., “I’ve only known him for 5 seconds, but I just know he could be the one.” What made these people different from others who may have been better looking or better catches or otherwise made more objective sense?

The answer is that they made me feel inspired.

I mean really inspired. Recently, (which could mean the last 3 months or the last 3 years—you’ll never know!), I met (encountered? Reconnected w/?) someone who made me feel like if I made this book the best it could possibly be, he would actually want me more. If I achieved, that would make him proud. If I became a successful lawyer or fluent in Spanish or accomplished any of the things I wanted to do, he would genuinely see this as positive for me, him and a potential relationship. And that was inspiring. It made me want to dream big. The idea of being in a relationship felt liberating as opposed to confining.

But that’s just one example. Other people have inspired me in other ways. With their confidence, drive, passion, talent. The point is that, in the end, I felt confident that by being with them I would be able to tap into aspects of myself that I may not have been reach without them.

So that’s what I’m looking for- someone who inspires me.  To write.  To achieve.  To do something.

Holla!

 

Submission Material Feedback and How I Met This Year’s Newbery Medal Winner

Man oh man, lots has been going on.

Let’s Talk About the Agent Bootcamp

I got comments back on my query letter, synopsis and 9 pages of my manuscript. Much like every other time I’ve invested (money) in my writing, I do not regret it. It was incredibly helpful. In case you missed it, I participated in an Agent One on One Bootcamp to get some of my submission materials reviewed.

First, the agent said she really liked my synopsis and said it was the best she read in the Bootcamp! Woohoo! Of course the point of these programs is constructive criticism, but trust me, I will take any confidence booster I can get. This process is long and subjective and full of unknowns, so I was really happy when she said that. I even wrote a post about how to write a Synopsis for The Write Practice. :)

Then, she gave me some tips on my query letter. Generally, she said it was too long and detailed (mind you, the whole thing was four paragraphs), but she liked the bio. In my query, I mentioned that the manuscript is written in a format similar to Terry McMillan’s Disappearing Acts. So she replaced my summary with the blurb from that book and told me to use that as a guide. Doing so showed me that my summary in the query should be more about showing the tension between the characters than explaining exactly what happens. I’ve read a million things about query letters, but something about that comment made me finally get it.

How do I know I got it? Because one agent who I sent only the query (no sample pages or synopsis) asked for my entire manuscript. And this was straight from the slush pile. A couple of agents have read up to 100 pages of my manuscript, but I had met all of them in advance (at a writer’s retreat). I just cold called this lady and she responded based solely on this one letter. (For those of you who don’t know, the process usually consists of a request for a few chapters or the first 50 pages, and then a request for the full thing.) So now I feel pretty confident in my query, thank goodness.

Finally, she gave me some tips on my first pages, which was helpful because no one had read them before. I’ve re-written those things so many times now, I can’t even tell you what draft it is. This time I made sure there was some action. Seems obvious, but it’s much easier said than done—I think I got it though. (Ask me again in a month.)  Anyway, she said my manuscript was too contemporary for her, but recommended that I pitch one of her colleagues and if she passed, to try her again. :D

About That Newbery Medal Winner…

Yeah, about that.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to this mini writer’s retreat in Bowie, Maryland. Basically it was just a bunch of local writers writing in the basement of Marita Golden—who has published over a dozen books—for 5 hours. It was a great, inspiring setting with about 6 or so writers and at the end we discussed what we were working on. One of the people I met was a guy named Kwame Alexander. He seemed like he knew he what he was doing, but honestly, so did everyone else in that room.

Little did I know that two days later he would win the NEWBERY MEDAL aka the most prestigious award for American literature for children!  I’M SERIOUS. To give you an idea, past winners and honorees include Beverly Clearly, E.B. White (for Charlotte’s Webb), Lois Lowry (The Giver), Fred Gipson (Old Yeller).

I’m so proud of him, and I would be even if I hadn’t met him. It should not be lost on any of the readers of this blog how important it is to have an African American winner of this award (and he’s D.C. based!). Children and adults all over the country (world?) will be reading this book (maybe even assigned it in school), and that’s amazing for readers and writers everywhere. I’m so happy!!

Kwame’s book is called The Crossover. Buy it!!

The Crossover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Fresh Off the Boat

I’ve got something to say about Fresh off the Boat.

First of all, I’m not JUST watching it because it’s the first network show starring an Asian American family since 1994. That caught my attention, sure, but I need more than political reasons to watch a show.

For example, a large part of me really wanted to watch Selfie to support a show that cast an Asian male in a romantic lead (which NEVER happens), but I couldn’t. Because the show looked so bad.  FOB on the other hand actually looks funny. And, more importantly, it takes place in my favorite decade (the 90s) and the main character is obsessed with B.I.G. and Nas. How could I not give it a chance?

That all said, let’s be real. Minorities in books, movies and TV is my favorite topic on this blog. Here are my thoughts on FOB:

1. There will be growing pains, and that’s OK. This is the first time we’ve seen an Asian-American family on TV since the one season of All American Girl (starring Margaret Cho) 20 years ago (wait, was that 20 years ago?!). That means there are going to be growing pains. By growing pains, I mean moments when nice people say things that are really embarrassing for them.

For example, a journalist asked the FOB cast if he will get to see chopsticks in the show “or will it be more Americanized?” Another example of a “growing pain” is when Joe Biden described Obama as “articulate.” In both cases you’re just like, huh? And then you’re like “he-did-not-just-say-that.”

Growing pains outrage many, but not me, usually. I actually think they have value as long as the person wasn’t malicious. They force the conversations that communities have been having among themselves for years—decades—out into the open. They alleviate some ignorance. And, let’s face it, they’re also inevitable. If you’re going to start diversifying things that historically have not been diverse, expect to deal with some growing pains.

2. I don’t understand how they could not find an Asian-American person to write the show. Stuff like this annoys me. Like really annoys me. This is what should have been popping up all over my newsfeed instead of the chopsticks growing pain. It’s far more outrageous in my opinion.

Ok, the writer is a Persian-American whose experience as the child of immigrants informs her writing. Great, I’m not knocking her.

Buuuut, are you seriously trying to tell me that there was not one Asian person who could have written this show? You know, the one about the Asian-American experience?! Because if you are, I’m here to tell you that I don’t believe you. The assertion that a qualified Asian American didn’t exist for this position is impossible.

Literally, impossible.

Someone just didn’t care enough to find her. And I find that incredibly annoying. Why does it have to be a revolutionary thing for minorities to tell their own stories?

3. Unsurprisingly, the inspiration for the show isn’t completely happy with it. Eddie Huang wrote a memoir by the same name and sold the rights over to network TV. He agrees with me re: point number two and has a few other complaints as well.  In NY Magazine he says that ABC took his very specific, individual experience and turned it into a “universal, ambiguous, cornstarch story about Asian-Americans resembling moo goo gai pan written by a Persian-American who cut her teeth on race relations writing for Seth MacFarlane.” But he’s still glad the show is on TV.

I’m glad the show is on TV too (and not just because I got to hear BIG Poppa in the background). Holllerrr.