Thursday, May 24, 2012

ROW80 Days: Quick Check-In

QOTD: What basic human need would you rather give up and be void of - sleep or food?

To answer my own Question of the Day, I'd rather be eliminated of my need to sleep. That way, I could get so much more done and could work day and night. Everyone has a "peek hour" in which they feel most productive after all, and mine is unfortunately after-hours. Besides, food is my guilty pleasure. I live to eat--not the other way around! 

Since I just had an exam today in Asian Philosophy, I figured it would do me good to take a break from work and actually blog a ROW80 Days check-in like I promised I would. During the summer, at first when you're in class it doesn't seem like the class is being rushed. In fact, pacing seems almost as normal as it usually is during the regular school year--until you go back to study your notes and realize just how much you guys have covered! So much content, yikes! Welp, that's how I've been feeling lately. Three more weeks, guys, just three more. 

I have not be able to write as much as I would like, but I get in words when possible. I have made progress on the T-Project, I promise! Here are my ROW80 Days writing goals for this round (which is just halfway over!): 
  • write character-driven scenes
  • have a sense of where I want to go with my project - so, created detailed outlines
  • think "big picture" - what themes and main ideas do I want my project to reflect?
  • since I'm writing in first-person, my voice needs to stay in character and be consistent
  • get down at least 500 words every day, no matter how crappy or pitiful the words are
  • blog about my progress every Wednesday and Sunday, in compliance with the ROW80 Days rules 
  • make some progress, either tangible or mental, on the T-Project every day
Hmm, not too bad so far. I am really proud of the outlines I made - they have been really helpful in giving me a sense of direction with my project and where I want to go with my story. And making outlines then helped me figure out the following goal: themes and main ideas. Now I wouldn't call myself a total plotter, but I can't tell you how many times I have referred to my outlines to make sure I'm staying on track, and I only made them a couple weeks ago! Once I am not dedicating every moment in time and every bit of energy in my body toward summer school, I would love to create and then share with you my outline template (just the template! ;)) for you as writing tools. 

Maintaining a strong voice and character-driven scenes are pretty long-term goals so I won't be crossing those off for a while--or at least until I think I've got those down pat. Though I believe there is always room for improvement! The more tangible goals that would be beneficial for me to work toward is maintaining 500 words a day and, of course, checking in with the blog!

Well, folks, how are you doing with ROW80 Days

Wendy Lu

P.S. Only two more Likes until I reach 50 fans on Facebook! Be sure to share TRA with your friends and family who may be interested in my blog. Thank you so much for all your support! 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Lightyears Pocket Watch xoxo

QOTD: What is your favorite wearable accessory?

I grabbed some frozen yogurt on Franklin Street today with a dear friend of mine. I got red velvet cake flavor + Oreo flavor + chocolate chips. Yes, red velvet cake froyo! It actually wasn't that bad...on the other hand, the froyo guy gave me way too many chocolate chips! I know you must be thinking, how is 'too many chocolate chips' even possible? Trust me, it's possible! I feel compelled to create a funny analogy, but the thing is, I have nothing to compare a mountain of chocolate chip froyo to...

After froyo, we stopped by Lightyears, a cute jewelry shop that has every type of jewelry imaginable and some really quirky items too--like Lip Service Mustache Picks. My friend (shout-out to Jingyi! <3) got me this beautiful gold pocket watch necklace for my birthday (even though it's still a month away!). 

Pocket Watch Necklace
Lightyears Jewelry since 1985

Y'all, I am totally in love with this thing. Ever since I saw the Chelsea Doll pocket watch necklace at Fashion-Train a couple years ago, I've always wanted one. Isn't it pretty? 

Okay, on another note: despite my lack of ROW80 Days blog posts, I promise I've been writing! I've even crossed off a couple of my goals for this round! I just haven't had time to write about my progress due to recent family visits and summer classes. I will do my best to write a ROW80 post in time for Wednesday's check-in. :)

What do you think would go nicely with this necklace? What is your favorite accessory? 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

ROW80Days: "The writing challenge that knows you have a life"

Yesterday, I spent an entire blog post talking about what this blog should be all about. After listing several (not all, but several) things in life that matter to me, I realized that a great place to redefine my blog identity is to start back at square one - what this blog is originally supposed to be. Well, if you've been following me for a while I'm sure you've come to realize that I am a writer. And obviously, this blog is - if anything - an open space to talk about writing. My literary adventures. 

My relationship with writing is similar to that of an arranged marriage - the bond is inevitable, but the emotions are rather mixed. There are some days when I want to write so badly but other priorities (like studying, which is a totally legit reason for not writing, y'all!) take a toll on my daily word count. On other days, I simply procrastinate by reading addictive Jodi Picoult novels, cooking even though I don't like to cook, downloading music and doing everything else besides writing. 

And then there are those days when I'm on a roll, or what I like to call a literary frenzy. In such a frenzy, my fingers are on fire and flying across the keyboard. For once, these entangled thoughts and crazy characters and half-formed ideas actually make it onto the page in what I consider to be pretty coherent sentences (or so I think).

In the past I used to love writing challenges, but lately they haven't worked very well for me. They have either been not for me, too impersonal or too demanding (Like StoryADay... such a neat idea, but so mentally draining!). Too often do I get motivated and ready to kick some writing goals in the butt and then, and then...I flake out. Of course, there was the year of 2008 when I won NaNoWriMo, but I consider that to have been some sort of miracle. I doubt I could write that much in so little time if I tried to do it all over again. I'd probably hide in a corner with another distraction, spewing out excuses to myself for not writing. 

But this just in - I found something new: A Round of Words in 80 Days. Even the description calls to me - "the writing challenge that knows you have a life." Yes! I love to write, but I do also have a life! *gasp* Perhaps it is possible for both to coexist? The basic idea for ROW80Days is to create your own set of writing goals - ideally ones that are measurable - and use your blog to keep you accountable during the 80 days you have to complete these goals. 

Oh mah gah, I can create my own goals?! No 1,600 word count? No 50k mark? No writing prompts? Normally I thrive under such strict conditions, but surprisingly the only word that comes to my mind is: AWESOME. I've added myself to the ROW80Days Facebook page, created my first ROW80Days blog post (right here!) and gotten myself motivated. Now all I have to do is follow through with my goals...whatever they are. 

Goals. This should be the easiest part since I get to make them up myself, but it's not. Realistic, measurable, enjoyable to achieve. That's what my goals should be. Right now, I'm working on a personal writing assignment that I will simply call: "The T-Project." I know that's vague, but I read somewhere that it's bad luck for artists to talk about their WiPs (works-in-progress). ;) Let's see, I suppose these goals will do for now (we can amend our goals later if we need to): 
  • write character-driven scenes
  • have a sense of where I want to go with my project - so, create detailed outlines
  • think "big picture" - what themes and main ideas do I want my project to reflect?
  • since I'm writing in first-person, my voice needs to stay in character and be consistent
  • get down at least 500 words every day, no matter how crappy or pitiful the words are
  • blog about my progress every Wednesday and Sunday, in compliance with the ROW80Days rules
  • make some progress, either tangible or mental, on the T-Project every day
Technically, Round Two of ROW80Days already began in early April but there's always time to jump into the challenge. If you'd like join me and be a part of A Round of Words in 80 Days, check out their blog and sign up! And do let me know your blog URL so I can follow your literary frenzies, too!

Wendy Lu


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bonding With My Blog: "Summer Cleaning"

QOTD: What books would you recommend for summer reading? I'm currently going through The Hunger Games trilogy!

Could...could it be? Is it summer 2012? I don't know why it's taken me a whole week to realize this, but here it is! SUMMER 2012! I feel compelled to break out into High School Musical's What Time Is It? but I'll spare y'all. 

One of the best things about summer, to me at least, is having more time on my hands than I need to do absolutely nothing but reflect. Three whole months to just tell life to s-l-o-w the heck down and think about where I am right now. And all those writing and health and personal goals I brushed aside during the school year in favor of studying? I just wait 'til summah, summahtime. Well, summahtime is here and everything I am thinking and feeling can be summed up in a single face: O_O

I mean, where do I even start? 

I spent a good while today catching up with my thoughts and scrolling through my blog dashboard. Lately, I feel like I've been scrambling for ideas of what to blog on, which is silly because there are endless things to talk about - what I've been cooking, which books I'm reading this summer, where I'll be traveling abroad, what I am writing and the like. I have a nice layout, helpful resources, social networks. I have 180 wonderful followers, and yet a part of me feels like I'm not giving The Red Angel blog my all. It seems as though there is something missing. 

I need to figure out what I want this blog to be about. 

It's funny how I've been keeping up with TRA for over two years and yet my blog is just now having an identity crisis. But I suppose all blogs have to go through a bit of mental "summer cleaning" (summer, since spring is already over). This is strange, but it feels like my blog doesn't quite reflect who I am as a person. It doesn't tell my story, and I don't record my adventures as consistently as I should. The posts don't really "weave" together as well as I'd like for them to. Despite the fact that The Red Angel blog is a very important part of my literary life, I don't use it to its fullest potential. I don't bond with my blog enough. 

I suppose now, summer 2012, would be a good time to "re-brand" my blog, so to speak. One big challenge for me is not being able to look at big pictures. Instead, I focus on minute details--which are important too, of course, but detailing without actually looking at where those details build up to isn't very productive. So I'm taking a step back and thinking about what sort of themes outline my values, my belief system, my character. 

Things That Matter to Me
  • self-expression, writing, creativity, narrative worlds
  • freedom, equality, cooperation, anti-poverty
  • respect for religion, the marketplace of ideas
  • meditation, self-reflection (obviously), open-mindedness, intuition, personal preference
  • kindness, service, working toward the betterment of society
  • language, communication, books, travel, culture
  • symbolism, storytelling, identity
  • personal happiness, goal-setting, checklists
  • nature, natural power, time, music, emotion, spontaneity, things that cannot be seen with the naked eye
  • inner-strength, family, mutual trust
  • respect for those who are different, education, learning
  • pretend play, childhood, conquering fears, courage
Whew. I feel a lot better already. There's nothing like a little bonding with your blog to get you reoriented for upcoming projects. Check back soon for updates on my blog, and if you want to chat, feel free to follow me: 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Author Interview: Getting to Know Maureen Wartski

Hooray, it's May! At long last, I am finished with final exams and have now returned home to relax for two weeks before summer school starts. To give you an idea of what I am up to for the next three months, here's my agenda: 

May 8 - May 14: Relax, blog, read The Hunger Games, go to the dentist, rejuvenate
May 15 - June 19: Summer classes
Mid-June - Beginning of August: Travel abroad, independent research
August: Volunteer at local hospital with psychology mentor

Folks, this may be my busiest summer yet! Share with us - what summer plans do you have? 


In other exciting news, we have author Maureen Wartski here with us today. Maureen was born in Japan and is a lover of art, writing and nature. Her novel, Yuri's Brush with Magic, is geared toward middle-schoolers and was a 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist. 

The book follows two siblings who find the strength within themselves to deal with challenging circumstances. The book centers around motifs such as folk tales, painting, sea turtles and the importance of family relationships - just to name a few. 

Yuri's Brush with Magic is published by Sleepy Hollow Books, a children's independent publishing company based in Durham, NC, where I was an editorial intern for the past year.
TRA: What is your inspiration? What motivates/drives you to write and create art?
MW: Since I was very small, I wrote stories and played with colors. My dad, who was a self-taught artist, encouraged the ‘artwork’ and my whole extended family believed in the writing. To have someone believe in you is an inspiration in itself! Further, my Uncle Harry encouraged me to read, read more, and to try my literary wings at every opportunity. The real inspiration here was his advice: to try—and never to worry about failing. 
As for what motivates me to play with art and with words, I believe it is curiosity. If I put these colors together, what then…? If I follow this plot line, what will happen? That and a love of words and colors rules the day.
TRA: Every writer goes about the writing process in different ways; it's a unique experience for everyone. Tell us, what is the writing process like for you?
MW: I get an idea and file it away somewhere in my mind. Another idea floats by, and perhaps I snag it, too. Then the third, the catalyst arrives, and… there is the story. Sometimes this process takes a very long time. Sometimes it happens in a flash. The entire plot of The Promise (Summit Books), complete with fully formed characters, came to me while I was taking a tour of an abandoned gold mine in Mecklenburg County.
When I was younger and was writing three books a year on contract, I used to start writing at eight, wrote nonstop 'til two and then researched for an hour. Nowadays, I can’t keep—and don’t want to keep—this grueling pace.
TRA: What did you love most about writing Yuri's Brush with Magic? Was there a certain character you felt like you identified with really well?
MW: I love the ocean. Nothing is more inspiring than to walk along the beach and watch the waves roll in. I love the change of seasons, the turn of weather, the ebb and floe of the tide. So—Emerald Isle being the backdrop of this book was special. I could feel the nuances of the ocean and knew how it would affect Tammy. I didn’t identify with any of the characters per se, but each one was personal. Tammy, because she was Eurasian like myself and because she was a writer. Ken because he was a rebel. Aunt Yuri—I loved Aunt Yuri because she did remind me of my aunt and the other strong women in my family!
TRA: Which book or author has influenced you the most in your life?
MW: Don’t laugh—I think William Shakespeare had a lot of influence in my writing life. Early on, I learned to read his plays, particularly Julius Caesar. I learned to love his words and language, the twists of metaphor, the manipulation of characters.  Back in the day when I taught high school English, I taught my freshmen Julius Caesar . We brought in contemporary politics, ‘filmed’ the assassination and had a grand time. Later, my colleagues couldn’t believe that the class WANTED to study Antony and Cleopatra.
TRA: Shakespeare is awesome. I remember having to read Romeo & Juliet in my freshman English class, and we would read the play aloud with different classmates 'playing' different roles. Maureen, I have one last question - what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MW: The only advice worth giving: Keep writing and never fear failure. Sometimes the only way to learn IS to fail. 

Thank you to Maureen for taking the time to do an interview with me! To read more about Maureen Wartski and follow her adventures, check out her blog

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