Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Favorite books of 2017

For the last three years, I’ve made reading goals because I feel that it’s important as a writer to also learn from other writers. Last year was the first year I actually accomplished my writing goals, and I read 47 books in the year of 2017. There were so many amazing books, and I want to share my top ten with you. This is in no order, because it’s hard enough to choose just ten!

Traitor’s Kiss – Erin Beaty

Oh my goodness. I don’t even know where to start without gushing. The story is amazing, and so are the characters! There were some twists that I definitely did not see, and there are definitely sections that I’ve gone back and reread over and over since my first reading.

War Cross – Marie Lu

I’ve read Marie Lu’s books before, and the premise to this book sounded so different than anything I’ve read before. The technology imagined for this was fascinating, and the main character was so much fun! I mean, why wouldn’t you cheer for the person who accidentally hacked into the biggest virtual reality game in the world? Definitely made me think about the direction technology is taking us!

Wraith and the Dawn/Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh

How have I never heard of Renee Ahdieh before? I actually read three of her books this year, and I was blown away by each one. Each one pulled me through so many emotions, and made me love characters I was determined to hate. Her worlds are so fascinating and extensive, and seeped with culture. I’d suggest all of her books!

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

I feel like I can’t go without one of Marissa Meyer’s books on here. This book was not what I expected, and although I knew the premise, my heart was still torn out at the end. Marissa Meyer’s characters are so real that in the end, I only want them to be happy.

Poison’s Kiss – Breeana Shields

I loved the culture here. It’s set in ancient India, and based on a specific folklore about women who could kill with their kiss. It’s one of many I read that were fantasies set in more than just the European culture, and I have to say, I love the trend!

Forbidden Wish – Jessica Khoury

This was an Aladdin retelling that I’m not going to forget anytime soon. Again, this was set in the Arabic culture, and was full of plenty of angst and deceit. I could not put it down. Honestly, go read it!

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

This book was fascinating to read. The rules of the world made little sense. I told my friends it’s like Alice in Wonderland – on crack. So many things going on, and it’s a murder mystery type story as well. I loved all of the twists and turns!

Daughter of a Pirate King – Tricia Levenseller

Okay, I did read quite a few pirate themed books this year. Mostly because I have pirates in my books as well, and I’ve become slightly obsessed. I will say, the pirates don’t play a huge role in this book, but there’s enough seafaring to sate my needs. I can’t wait for the next book to come out!

Unwind – Neal Shusterman

This one is a little bit older, but it definitely made me stop and think for a long time afterward. If you like happy endings, I definitely don’t recommend reading this the same week as Heartless and then going to watch Rogue One. Unless you have no heart. But the science behind it is fascinating, and I loved the concept.

Noble Servant – Melanie Dickerson

I’m a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson’s books. They’re just the right amount of fluff and story, and they always bring me out of a funk. I read several of her books this year, but I have to say that the Noble Servant was probably my favorite. Probably because Goose Girl has always been one of my favorite fairy tales of all time. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Writing and Reading Goals

2018 means a brand new year with brand new goals!

Reading wise, I’m going to stick to the same goal as always. 45 books. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve only achieved that once, so I hope this year makes it a streak! If any of you have books to recommend, I’d love to hear it!

Writing wise:

Finish this rewrite of Commissioned. I’ve had several requests, but they always seem to get stuck on page 50. I had an awesome beta reader help me tear it apart, and I’m slowly building back. I think it’ll make the novel much stronger, but it’s a lot of work. I don’t have a set date for this, which is unusual, but the first few months of 2018 might throw me for some unexpected spins. We’ll see.

I’d also like to revise Jackie and the Giants. I had some betas go through it and give some feedback. I’ve finally gone in and fixed the (put science stuff here) sections, and so now it’s time to work on wording and pacing.

I’d like to continue querying Commissioned once it’s polished up again. And possibly get Jackie ready for querying as well.

For NaNoWriMo, I want to write a new book. Which means I have to come up with the idea. I’m not too worried yet, but it’s only January. Ask me again in September.

Also, this year, my awesome group, Rexy Writers, is starting the 500 club, where we write, edit, revise or read 500 words a day. It was suggested by one of my co-coordinators, and I'm already in love with the idea! If any of you want to join us, we would love to have you!

How about the rest of you? What are your goals for this coming year? Need help sticking to them? I’d love a goal buddy or two!

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Year End Review

Hello everyone!

Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think 2017 got away from me near the end of the year. And, to be honest, I’m not expecting 2018 to be much better.

Next year, I’m going to have to focus on realistic goals, and that means cutting back on my blog. Not completely, but enough to give me some breathing space.

Since it’s the end of the year, I want to do a year-end report, and talk about how I did on my goals for 2017.

I finally reached my reading goal! I guess third year’s the charm. I ended up reading 47 books in 2017, and that’s not counting the unpublished ones. I’ll write a post on my favorite books from 2017 soon, I promise, but I’ve got to say, there’s so many good books out there! And if any of you have recommendations for this year, I’d love to hear it!

My writing goals were a little more specific. I ended up rewriting Commissioned in the beginning of the year, and then worked on revising book 2. I also queried Commissioned and I’ve been getting some requests, which has been quite exciting. I also smashed my NaNoWriMo goal for this year, which was to write more words than I did last year. There’s some changes coming into my life, and I had a feeling that 2017 might be the last year I’d be able to get that many words written. I ended up taking a vacation the first two weeks of November and my grand total was 271,568 words in 30 days, which ended up spanning 4 books.

So I’ve got to say, it’s been a good year. A hectic year, but definitely good. And I honestly can’t wait to see how I do next year!

How about the rest of you? How did your goals for 2017 go? Any exciting news?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Living with Racism

I wanted to write a post in response to everything that I've seen over this past weekend. It's going to be a long one, so fair warning.

I'm a Japanese American. My mother was adopted, which means that as much as I wish, I don't have a strong connection to my Japanese heritage. I don't fit people's expectations. I love pasta and I love bread. I eat a lot of rice, not because of my mom, but because of my Bolivian husband. I watch a lot of cartoons, but until I married my husband (an anime aficionado), I'd never watched a single episode of anime. (Though I might have binged a whole series last week.) I was good at math in school, but I preferred English. I took Spanish in high school, and although I tried to audit a college Japanese course, I didn't learn much. At home, I speak Spanglish.

I feel like a fake. I feel like I'm not 'Asian enough' for the Asians that I meet. Yet, when it comes to the American culture, I'm too Asian for them.

I'm quite lucky, actually. My whole life, I dealt with very little racism. At least, that I noticed. Most of my friends didn't act like I was different, other than a few jokes here and there, and I think I was too shy to put myself in a situation where I met a lot of strangers.

That all changed when I became a nurse.

On a daily basis, I'm exposed to complete strangers, some of whom are incredibly nice. Others who aren't as much. But even when someone's nice, there's still an underlying difference in the way that they treat me. I would say probably about 80% of my shifts, I have at least one patient who asks me some version of 'who are you.' They may ask where my family comes from, where I come from, what my heritage is, or who my 'people' are. (That last one tends to be a little harder to take than the others.) I try and stay positive and pleasant. Usually, I just say Japan or let them know that my mom is Japanese and they drop it.

Then there are those that don't.

I've written a few posts in the past about things my patients say, but I'm going to condense this into things my patients say that refer to my race.

Are you here all night? And you're Chinese? Oh, Japanese, interesting. Well, we'll enjoy each other tonight.
There's my dark-haired beauty
How do you say pee-pee in Japanese?
Am I in a Chinese hospital?
Get out of here, Yoko!
There's my little Indian girl.
Oh, are you sisters with that other Oriental girl?
I see 'you people' didn't waste any time.
Good job, Short-round!
I had a vision I was going to marry a little Vietnamese girl.

Those are just a few that I've written down over the years. It's nowhere near everything I've heard.

I've had patients who have asked not to have me because I make them flashback to WWII. (A much older lady with confusion. Apparently, I scared her every time I went into her room.)

I've had patients be especially vulgar to me because of my race. One patient told me he had a 'vision' he was going to marry a 'little Vietnamese girl' and then attempt to get me to hold his hand.

I've even had coworkers unwittingly leave things for me because they assume that it will be easier for me. The moment when this was most apparent was one night when I came on shift, and the previous shift told me that they left an admit for me because the patient didn't speak English. When I asked what language he did speak, they told me Laotian. He was Asian, I was Asian, so obviously, it would be easier for me to communicate with him. (By the way, I don't speak Laotian, or any other Asian language, for that matter.)

I can usually laugh it off. In fact, I try and beat other people to the punch, so that they know that I'm not offended by their comments. I tell my coworkers that I work nights because my ancestors lived on the other side of the world, and that's what time they were awake.

Honestly, I don't get offended easily.

But it gets tiring. Being treated as 'someone else' isn't fun, no matter how you spin it.

Recently, I had a super sweet patient who was a little confused. She made a few comments, which were fine, and I even joked about them with my coworkers.

At first.

The comments never stopped. Every single time I went into her room, she referred to me as 'The Japanese.' When I went into her room while she was on the phone, she told them to wait because I was in the room. Except she didn't refer to me as her nurse. She referred to me as 'The Japanese.' Like I said, she was sweet, and she was confused. As a nurse, I try not to be confrontational with people, especially when I know I'm not going to see them again after a few days. If they want to ask about my heritage, I'll tell them. But this sweet lady was my undoing. After two nights of being addressed by my race, and not my name, or my profession, I broke down crying on my way home from work. I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see me as just her nurse. As just another person. It was always different, and she always had to point it out.

I'm a person. I'm a nurse. I'm a wife, and a sister, and a daughter. I play the piano and I hate to exercise. I've got a weakness for cream puffs and I'm terrified of ghosts. But when people see me, they don't see that.

That's what racism is for me. When no matter who you are, no matter what you do or what your interests are, you're classified by what you look like. Who your ancestors were. The stereotypes you fit into. 

Maybe that's why I joke about it with my coworkers. Why I write about it on my blog. Because it exists. Even if not everyone sees it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Shiny New Ideas

Two years ago, I was starting to get worried. It had been a while since I’d had a ‘shiny new idea’ and I knew that NaNoWriMo was coming up. I try and write something brand new for NaNoWriMo, and by the middle of the year, I usually had a basic idea for what I would work on.

I really didn’t need to worry. It’s amazing how stress can affect the creative muscle. By the end of July, I had a full-fledge idea, one that turned into four books, and sustained me for two years of NaNoWriMo.

You’d think that I’d learn from that experience, but here I am, two years later, again worried about NaNoWriMo. The rest of the year, I know I’m set. I’m editing and revising to my heart’s content, but the closer I get to November, the more my brain starts to panic, thinking that I won’t be ready.

Most of my panic is because I’m a planner. I need a thick and detailed bible ready before I can even start writing the first word. I want to know the direction the story’s headed, and the character backgrounds. I need to know the culture, their beliefs… I even tend to draw out the setting so I have a feel for the world.

I had a basic idea, but it wasn’t fleshed out, mostly because it was so generalized and so vague that I didn’t even know how to flesh it out.

Here’s the secret to shiny new ideas:

Always pay attention to everything. You never know what will start a spark.

Last time this happened, hubby and I went to the museum for our anniversary. Not because either of us were particularly interested in pirates, but because we wanted to get out of the house. The entire experience was a fodder for ideas, and pirates played a heavy role in my later book.

This year, all it took was an article on Pinterest, with a title that was much more interesting than the article itself. It was the spark that I needed to turn my vague idea into something that keeps me awake at night, planning and plotting for November.

How about the rest of you? Where do you get your ideas? Are you already planning for NaNoWriMo?

Monday, June 19, 2017


It’s amazing how brains work. Sometimes, it seems like we’re all on the same page, and then other times… we see things very differently.

When I was probably 12 or 13, I remember reading the Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I really enjoyed the story, and I thought one of my parents’ friends would like it too. I’ll never forget my mom’s response when I suggested it.

She told me that he doesn’t ‘see’ when he reads. She thought he wouldn’t enjoy the book because he wouldn’t be able to visualize the images that the author used.

For little twelve-year-old me, this was an absolute breakthrough. Mostly because I never knew that anyone could see the images in their heads. I assumed the description was just there to give the story more depth. I had no idea that it meant something to a lot of people.

So yes, I’m a writer who can’t visualize anything. Every once in a while I can pick out shapes in my mind, but usually, it’s blank. You know what I can do though? I can hear sounds. That’s what draws me into a book – sparkling and realistic dialogue because I can hear it. I love the back and forth, and it’s a lot of what I focus on in my own writing.

Even now, when I write, I have to remind myself to put in physical descriptions. If I didn’t collect pictures of my characters on Pinterest, I would have no idea what they looked like.

I’m curious about what other readers focus on. Do visuals draw you in? Or do they just leave a blank?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Nursing Necessities

Last week, I mentioned that things have been a bit crazy for me. There have been several different things that have thrown me off balance, but not all of it was bad.

During the end of April, and the month of May, I became a preceptor for a student finishing up her nursing degree. The program requires that she work 120 hours with a nurse, and they wanted her to take on a full load by the end of the 120 hours. I know that was the same requirement for me when I was a student nurse, but to be honest, I barely remember my own preceptorship.

It was a blur, and except for a few memories that stand out, I don’t remember what kind of a student I was. I have a feeling that I was shy and withdrawn, mostly because that’s my normal personality. 

This student was not that way at all. I was quite impressed with her knowledge and her work ethic. It was an interesting experience for me, to watch her learn skills that have become almost second nature to me. There are so many things that I do without even realizing, and after having to stop and think about it, I’m kind of amazed by much I’ve changed since becoming a nurse.

For example:


I remember the first time that I had to do a full body assessment. I went textbook, asking the questions in order and stopping to record every single answer. Now, I do it while I’m working with the patient. If I’m preparing their medications, I ask them how their day was. I ask how their appetite’s been, and if they’ve had any nausea. If I get them up to the toilet, it’s a great opportunity to check skin, instead of making it a completely separate assessment. I can also check to see if they have any swelling in their legs when I’m swinging them back into the bed. Every interaction with my patient is a chance to assess, and most of the time, I forget that’s even what I’m doing until it’s time to chart.

Which of course leads to the next part of nursing –


I don’t remember much about charting during my preceptorship. I do know that the system that they used was more user friendly than the one I’m using now. It honestly doesn’t matter, because charting in itself is pretty standard. Making sure to focus on all the systems, chart the irregularities, focus on their diagnosis. When you know what you need to chart, then it’s easy to store that information for the time you have a chance to sit down at the computer. I feel like it took me several months before I fell into a rhythm, and knew what needed to be the focus of my charting.


Now this is something they didn’t teach me in nursing school, but there should totally be a lab on projecting to mostly deaf patients. Not yelling, because that increases the pitch and doesn’t always work, but speaking up so that you can be heard. Especially for people that are naturally shy like me. I call it my nurse voice.

Growing thick skin:

People aren’t always pleasant when they’re sick. Sometimes, they can be downright frustrating. It’s hard not to take everything personally, especially when you have a patient who’s being particularly difficult. I will be honest, sometimes, I still struggle with this one, but I still try not to take everything personally. I’m sure I would lash out if I were a patient as well.

What about the rest of you nurses? What are some things you’ve picked up over your years of working?