Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet Me at the TRA Overseas Chronicles

#DailyWings: “Travel isn't always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…hopefully, you leave something good behind.” -Anthony Bourdain

Almost every summer ever since I can remember, I have made a month-long trip to China to visit family, travel across the country and embrace the culture and heritage of my ancestors. You could say that China (particularly Shanghai, where I am based) is my second home.

Early tomorrow morning, I will be taking a 15-hour flight from NC to Detroit, and then from Detroit to China. I've had barely enough time to recover from my busy weekend to and from Ohio, but I couldn't be more excited. You would think that after years of traveling to the same country I'd get used to it, even tired of it - the same old city with steamed pork buns. And to a certain extent you'd be right. I am afraid that half-growing up in China has led me to take these trips, and thus my own unique culture, for granted. It is deeply ingrained in my daily lifestyle and my values, whether or not I fully realize it. I don't experience the same marvel and wonder and culture shock that another American college student would while traveling abroad in Asia.

I may not be able to look at China through new, searching eyes or develop a raw perspective of the culture I grew up with, but I can still keep an open mind and see China for what she is. Experience all that China has to offer. And that is exactly what I intend to do when I step foot into Asia come forty-two (or so) hours. 

Thus, during the month of July, I will not be here at The Red Angel blog. Instead, I will set up camp at TRA: Overseas Chronicles and document my travels in China once again. (Blogs are blocked in China, as are social networks, but a friend of mine will update the OC for me.) The Overseas Chronicles is a branch off of my main blog (this one here, TRA!). At the OC, you can follow me whenever I travel – photos, stories and culture, you name it. To the right of the OC blog, you can view my different travel chronicles under Categories. You can read about my Late Nights in Shanghai from last year as well if you would like. 

I return to China this July to carry out my own investigative journalism research project. I will be doing research and conducting a sort of unofficial "case study" at a local hospital in Shanghai. My project aims to find out what life at the hospital for a chronic patient is like, and what sort of social support services this medical center provides its patients and their families. As a Journalism and Psychology double major, I love how this project is able to fuse two of my passions together along with the research aspect. 

I would love for you to come follow me as I conduct my research and bond one-on-one with China. It's going to be one heck of a ride - and a long one too! I will return to the United States (and thus The Red Angel blog, here) at the end of July. Until then, 我们去旅游吧!

* * *

One last thing - weeks ago, I signed up for the Poetry Pact Blogfest! This is going to be a short one due to my lack of time (I still haven't completely packed! Yikes!). 

At The Word is My Oyster, Lydia Kang introduced us to the Poetry Pact group, which comprises of individuals who have promised to write poetry on a regular schedule - which varied from member to member (sort of like ROW80, I suppose). 

I added my link because y'all know I love me some poetry even if I'm not a great poet myself. Thankfully, this blogfest doesn't require any poetry-writing. Instead, we are supposed to write about a secret pact we had with our friends or a secret group that helped us through tough times. 

Back in 5th grade, I had three best friends. We were silly and talked about boys, makeup and other important 5th-grade topics. We named ourselves The Key Club, and each of us had our own secret charm, or "key." Together, the charms formed a bracelet when hooked onto the same chain. Pretty cool, huh? 

Well The Key Club didn't survive past 5th grade, but I remember the club always made me feel like I had a group of best friends whom I could count on. The club made me feel included and secure. 

Check out the other participants' entries here!

Wendy Lu


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And the Roarin' Twenties Chapter Critique Giveaway Winner is....

#DailyWings: "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." -Galileo*

And the winner of the Roarin' Twenties Chapter Critique Giveaway is....*drumroll please*

Far Away Eyes

as randomly chosen by the random generator: 

Congratulations, FAE! As promised, the chapter critique includes: a reading and critique of any one chapter of a manuscript OR a short story (page limit: 20 pages). The critique will include an in-depth review, copy editing, rating, and suggestions - either over email or a Skype call (!). Please email me at within the next five days to claim the giveaway. 

Thanks to all the participants of the Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest and to those who entered the giveaway. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the other poem entries (some of them were published toward the end of the blogfest) and comment! As a reminder, every point equaled to one entry, and you were able to earn points by things like following TRA, tweeting about the blogfest, etc. There was a whopping total of 87 entries - woohoo! 

I am really glad I decided to host this blogfest, even if I did get the idea just eight days before I turned 20. It definitely made my birthday one of the best ever. Though I must say, these lovelies contributed: 

Just a few of my birthday gifts: books, a vintage Wonder Woman lunchbox and a summer dress. 
My birthday Tiramisu, one moment looking delicious and the next - poof! All gone. *sheepish smile* (It was that good)
Danny Lerman & Forecast play a little hot sax n' cool jazz at the local Night Town club
Honestly, what could be better? What more could anyone ask for on their 20th birthday? I have gone to Ohio twice now, and I can tell you that the "City of Rock" is certainly lively. I can't wait to go back.  

* * *

I have been given yet another blog award from Sydney Aaliyah
Sydney is an active JuNoWriMo participant, a movie watcher, a tattoo lover, and a writer. She tweets and hosts JuNoWriMo Participant Interviews and blogs too, of course!  She is completely deserving of this award, and I feel honored to have been chosen as a recipient amongst her and so many other awesome, beautiful bloggers. Thanks so much, Sydney! Time for me to pass it on...

1) Kayeleen's Creation Corner--I have only known Kayeleen for a short period of time, but she is proof that a person CAN be both a writer and a mom. Kudos to her for sticking with it, and for making time to blog as well.

2) Life 101--Rick is a writer and lives in the country. He blogs regularly about nature, writing and the little things that make life worthwhile. 

3) Deana Barnhart--This lady is an inspiration to writers and bloggers everywhere! Deana is a great person to get to know, and her blog is a joy to read. She recently just signed with her new literary agent - how awesome is that? Dreams really can come true! 

4) Ali Cross--Ali blogs about anything and everything on writing and is a prolific author. She wrote the YA adult Become, which you can buy on Amazon here. Seriously, y'all, this girl is the definition of ninja-ness. 

5) Mia Hayson--Honestly, I don't think there is anybody who doesn't know Mia, but in case you haven't had the pleasure, Mia blogs over at My Literary Jam and Toast and is one of the most hilarious people I have ever met. She writes YA fiction as well, and loves anything that has to do with glitter and zombies. Mia also has a knack for creating entertaining graphics, I might add. 

6) Ruth Madison--Ruth is an advocate for disabilities awareness, something that I am also passionate about. She has written several books and recently just started her own book publishing company. I admire Ruth for taking a stand on the side of those of us who may be underestimated or misunderstood because of our personal health circumstances. 

7) 101 Bird Tales--Amelia is a beautiful artist and a beautiful thinker. If you start to follow her blog, you discover that within the first week of reading her posts. She ponders over thought-provoking questions about life, creativity, self-awareness and artistry.

Check out these beautiful bloggers...I promise you, your Google Reader will be just a bit longer and your day just a little bit better. 

Wendy Lu

*If you have any suggestions for #DailyWings quotes, tweet me!


Friday, June 22, 2012

"Flying High": The Roarin' Twenties Begins! (Blogfest + Giveaway)

#DailyWings: “Treat singlehood and your twenties as the time when you get to fall in love with yourself. If you look with loving eyes, you will find that your most loyal companion lies within you.” -TSM

When I stepped onto the airplane for my flight to Ohio yesterday, I thought this was going to be an uneventful quickie. I've been traveling for years, ever since I was a little girl, and the longest on-air trip (including a connecting flight) I have ever been on lasted for nearly 18 hours. I love it. I love flying. When I'm in the air, it feels like time has stopped and there's nothing but me in the clouds. It feels like a dream. Yesterday, I found yet another reason to love airplane flights, but it was nothing I could have expected or prepared myself for.

On most flights, I take a window seat or aisle seat and bury myself in a good book or my journal. I'll enjoy my plastic cup of cranapple juice and bag of salted peanuts, then perhaps take a few pictures of the clouds. This time on the connecting flight (to Atlanta first), I sat in the middle. Before I could whip out Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a middle-aged man wearing a dark-blue suit and carrying a business knapsack approached the seat to my left. Five minutes later, a short woman with curly brown hair and wire-rimmed glasses claimed the seat to my right.

I soon came to discover that the woman was going back home after a business meeting, and the man was a surgeon who was on a way to one. The woman told me she was eager to get home to her three beloved dogs and two cats, and I nodded knowingly. My friend is taking care of my turtles, I told her. Somehow we started talking about our love for animals, and the woman mentioned she had had to give up her own turtles a few years ago while undergoing chemotherapy.

Our conversation turned, and it occured to me how much this woman had been through. Yet, here she was as alive and energetic as ever, living her life with as much love and fervor as anybody. The surgeon, in turn, told me how he had come to develop a passion for medicine and healthcare. I listened, fascinated, to these two strangers who had become my friends in a matter of two hours. By the end of the flight, I hadn't even unzipped my backpack for Zen. I bid my newfound airplane buddies farewell, and the woman even patted me on the shoulder.

On the final plane to Ohio, I got the aisle seat on the Exit row. Finally - some peace and quiet! Not that I hadn't enjoyed my conversations with fellow surgeon and cat lady, but the night would be a busy one for me and I needed some rest.

But even as I sat down, I couldn't help but notice my left-side neighbor. An older man well into his 60s sat, tapping one giant sneaker against the rugged floor, with his head resting on one hand. I greeted him with a "Hi, how are you," and he shook his head.

"Not good," the man said. "Been up since 1 o'clock this morning."

"Oh no," I said. "Why were you up so late?"

The man told me his brother was in the hospital. He'd had a stroke. My neighbor had gotten the news while on vacation with his wife and grandkids.

"Oh no." I felt stupid for saying the same thing, but I was taken aback. Out of all the things I could have expected, this was last on the list. "Is he okay?"

The man shook his head.

I didn't know what to say. 'Sorry' seemed infinitesimally too small of a word, and a hug would be inappropriate in this situation. We sat together in what seemed like an uncomfortable silence for half an hour, and I debated whether to say anything else at all. Maybe I should just mind my own business, like usual. But the man just looked so sad.

He was the one to speak first.

"You from Ohio?"

"No, I'm visiting family for my birthday," I said. "How about you?"

"Yeah. You ever been to Rock and Roll House of Fame?" he asked.

The question surprised me. I said no I hadn't, but it was on my to-do list. The man said the term rock and roll had originated from Ohio from the very beginning. Alan Freed was the man who did it, he told me with a grin.

This seemed to take his mind off of current troubles, so I decided to keep on with the conversation.

"What's the best concert you've ever been to?" I asked, hoping that wasn't too random or weird.

"Oh, Elton John and Billy Joel's tour, hands down," he said. He began to list all the concerts he had ever been to and the biggest stars of the '60s - the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Elvis Presley. When he talked about music and 'the old days,' his eyes seemed to light up as if he were back in the Blossom Music Center. We chatted about famous landmarks in Ohio, rock and roll, and The Osbournes for the remaining of the flight. Twenty minutes turned into a couple of hours, and suddenly I was waving goodbye again at yet another new friend. I wished him and his family good luck, and told him I hoped his brother was all right.

As I walked into the Ohio airport, I spotted a female soldier clad in her camouflage military uniform. She crossed the hallway and approached a very old man--must have been in his nineties--with thinned blonde-white hair and large ear lobes. The soldier hugged the old man and whispered in his ear, thank you for your service. She squeezed his hand, and was gone.

I left the airport smiling.

Turning 20 has gotten me thinking deeply about what I want this upcoming decade to be about. Even though we are thrown unexpected surprises and crazy events every single day such that we feel powerless over our own lives, I think in the end we have a lot more control over our fate than we realize.

If there is anything that I learned from my day "in the air" (a day in the air out of many), it's that there is opportunity. Everywhere. The chance to make anything happen is right there in front of us, and it's our job to make sure we don't miss out. I think that's what I want my Roarin' Twenties to be about: taking chances and noticing opportunities. Being aware of my surroundings and the people around me. I never know who I will end up meeting on a chance encounter. Maybe next time I'm on an airplane, it'll be a cute guy with an Italian accent or something. Who knows? All I know is, never again will I bury myself in a book without first greeting my neighbor on an airplane flight.

Without further ado, here are my poems for the Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest! Check out the rules here. The blogfest lasts until Sunday, so you can still sign up below!

A Set of Roarin' Limericks

Try #1:
There once was a girl named Wendy Lu,
Her popular nickname was Cindy Who.
Everyone thought she was thirteen, 
Which called for a post-teen scream,
All she wanted was some ice cream.

Ick......that was terrible! Let me try again.

Try #2:
There once was a girl named Wendy Lu,
Everyone called her Cindy Who.
Her friends said she looked young,
But really she was just full of fun,
Like them, she just turned twenty too!

Okay...that's better. One more try?

Try #3:
There once was a girl named Wendy Lu,
who ate her cake with a spoon.
She hung out at the speakeasy,
Even though alcohol made her queasy,
Never mind! This whole poem is full of poo!

Ack! I give up!

This blogfest is dedicated to all those writers who say they aren't 'good' at writing poetry. My 'literary forte' is with prose, but hey - ultimately there's a poet in all of us! I'm proof of that! :P

Thank you to all of the participants who signed up to celebrate my birthday with me! Much love to you all. Don't forget to check out the other entries!

The winner of the Chapter Critique Giveaway will be announced tomorrow after the blogfest and after I have entered everyone's points into the random generator! As they say in the movies, STAY TUNED.

Wendy Lu

P.S. I went from 184 followers to 194 followers in eight days! Y'all ROCK! Thank you so much!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What You See When Your Eyes Are Closed: Meditation and Writing

#DailyWings: "'Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work." -Stephen King

The funny thing about the end of summer school is that, after an intense three weeks of studying and fast learning and exam-taking, everything slows down and suddenly you have a wide space of time lying before you. 

Yesterday, I went to the interfaith chapel that is connected to the local hospital and spent five hours in one of the meditation rooms. I almost never see anyone in the chapel, even though it's a beautiful and peaceful place to spend time alone, reflecting. The meditation rooms are low-lit and set at cool temperatures. 

Doesn't this look lovely? 
Now, I don't really affiliate myself with any religion. To me, religion is deeply personal and individualized because it makes up your entire belief system and spiritual views. No two people's religions are alike, no matter what name you give it. And so even though I don't go to church or attend religious activities regularly, I still try to find the time to meditate. 

I hadn't meditated in quite a few months --bad, bad Wendy-- so getting back into the routine was kind of hard, especially when I set the bar high and sat for 20 minutes straight through (my phone beeped when 20 minutes was up). But in the past I have found that meditation helps clear your mind, leads to greater contentment and calms the spirit. Even now, I don't really know what constitutes as meditating; maybe the "sit and just be quiet" ritual catchphrase suffices. Here is how the 20 minutes of my meditation session went: 

0 Minutes: Okay! I can do this! 
3 Minutes: *fidgets* Has it been five minutes yet? No, I can't look at my watch! I'm not supposed to open my eyes! 
5 Minutes: phone will beep when it beeps. I need to stop focusing on the time and concentrate on blanking my mind instead. Every time my mind starts to fill with thoughts or images, I'm going to 'clear' everything out. 
8 Minutes: .................(nothing)....Hey cool! I'm doing it! I'm meditating! Wait, dang it. I'm thinking again. Bye, bye, oh sweet moment of zen. 
9 Minutes: Clearly blanking my mind is too hard right now. Let me try to focus on my surroundings instead. 
11 Minutes: I hear the air conditioner blasting from the ceiling, I taste tomato from the spaghetti I had for lunch, I hear nothing. I see nothing. 
12 Minutes: Uh-oh. My knee itches. 
12.5 Minutes: I'm not supposed to move! Oh, but my knee itches so badly! It's that darn mosquito bite. The AC must have blown air on it. And it's no wonder I'm cold...
13 Minutes: Has it been 20 minutes yet? No, I guess not. Now, I'm going to concentrate on not itching my knee. Think about something else! Quick! 
15 Minutes: Even though my eyes are closed, I still see colors and images with my eyelids pulled over like this. *moves eyeballs around* There goes a blue streak of - of light! Ooh, a shiny shooting star. And green squiggles. Never knew you could see so much with your eyes closed. Beautiful. 
17 Minutes: Hey, the itch went away. 
19 Minutes: All right, phone, you're concerning me. I'm pretty sure that I set an ala--
20 Minutes: BEEP. BEEP. End of meditation session. 

Well I wouldn't exactly call my session productive, but what I did afterwards certainly was! To be honest the meditation made me kind of sleepy and my shoulders were kind of sore from staying straight for so long, but I felt good. I felt more present in the room now that my eyes were open. 

And the next thing I did was a literary miracle. I sat down, opened my laptop and started writing for The T-Project. Writing, y'all! Word after word after word. Before I knew it, nearly an hour had passed and there on the Microsoft Word document were 700 words more than I had before! What's more, the meat of the back story had been fleshed out and there was even some good dialogue that had made its way onto the page. 

I  threw my head back and drew out a long sigh of satisfaction and, yes, contentment. I felt content and happy and strangely present in my environment. I also felt tired, though, so I packed up and went home with a smile on my face. 

Maybe the meditation wasn't productive, but the post-meditation writing session certainly was! I always knew there was something about meditating that changes attitude, work ethic, and thinking patterns. Hmm, perhaps I should start meditating every day right before I write...
* * *

To make yesterday even better, Precy Larkins surprised me with the Stylish Blogger Award - and she called me a diva! *giggles* Thanks, Precy! This award comes with a few questions for me to answer - and for you to get to know a little bit more about me!

What is your favorite song?

I actually happen to have an answer to this one! Right now, my favorite song is Dying Daze by Mipso Trio. It's got beautiful lyrics and unique melody. Another good tune by the band is their cover of Careless Whisper. Good stuff! 

What is your favorite dessert?

Oh dear, this is such an unfair question given that I just started a no-sweets resolution for myself. I guess I'll have to say apple pie or Coconut Dreams. Mmmmm. 

When you're upset, what do you do?

I usually try to find a quiet place to be alone, like the arboretum on campus or my room. Then I write in my journal to get all the feelings out, or if I'm really upset I go to sleep. 

What was your favorite pet?

Hehe. I have had two adorable red-eared slider turtles, named David and Little Cloud, for almost three years now (I got them in August 2009). I got them at a festival in Boston, and they were tiny babies back then. Now they've gotten incredibly huge - so huge that I had to get a new tank for them! They keep me company and are super fun to play with. You can learn more about David and Little Cloud here. This is an older photo of them (they're much larger now): 

Aren't they such cuties?! 
What do you prefer to wear, black or white?

Hmm, that's an interesting question! I like both, but since I have black hair perhaps black is the way to go. Plus , black attracts the sunlight so wearing dark colors makes me get all itchy and uncomfortably warm. 

What is your biggest fear?

That I will grow old and then right before my time is up I realize I haven't accomplished anything with my life. 

What is your attitude mostly?

I try to be a positive and optimistic person - always looking on the bright side. That may make me seem like a really naive person, but I suppose it's more of a combination between optimism and common sense. 

What is perfection to you?

A fantasy! 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Buying comic books :D Yes, I am one of those silly superhero nerds who collects comics and holes herself up in some secluded area to read about Superman. #noshame

Time to pass on the blog award! Here are the five recipients, in no particular order: 

1. Albert's Sefuty Chronicles - for being an incredibly supportive blogger friend, especially throughout ROW80 Days
2. Lydia Kang (The Word is My Oyster) - for recently changing her blog layout and background (gorgeous!), and for showing that it IS okay to to pursue two of the most unlikely fields, medicine and writing (check out her Medical Mondays! Hilarious!)
3. Alyssa (Life is Good) - for having a blog that has delicious-looking noms and touches on a diverse array of topics! 
4. Rachna's Scriptorium - for always discussing thoughtful aspects of writing and the literary world (ex: Why Do We Like Imperfect Characters?)
5. Wendy Luane Barber - for having the same-ish name as me (haha, just kidding!) and for being super creative and talented with her art projects; check out the quilts and dolls she makes! 

Don't forget to sign up for the Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest + Chapter Critique Giveaway! Only two more days!! Linky below:

Wendy Lu


Monday, June 18, 2012

Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Breakout Party and Other Literary World News

#DailyWings: "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." -Christopher Reeve

Happy Monday, everyone! I am officially done with summer school and ready to relax, travel and have some fun until August! In other great news, today is Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough Breakout FREE Kindle Download Party! Woohoo - bring out the chips and soft drinks and dance music! *parties like a rockstar* 

Be sure to check out his copy of Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan - you can download it for free! 

Without giving away too much (you know I hate spoilers!), here is a shortened summary from Amazon

Breakthrough, the first book in the Adventures of Chase Manhattan series, begins with a big bang and offers the audience exciting, unique, and diverse heroes and villains. The result is a fresh suspense thriller series integrating elements of greed, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, coming of age, and hope. The action is swift. There are numerous red herrings, twists and turns, that will keep the reader turning the pages and wanting more.

Sounds like my kind of novel! Thanks Stephen for such an awesome giveaway! In other news, Deana Barnhart  recently got signed with a literary agent, and Ruth Madison has founded a new publishing company dedicated to novels about heroes with physical disabilities. If you've got a manuscript that fits this criteria, check out the guidelines here

Just wanted to spread some additional news about others in the writing community; I figured  so many bloggers have been supportive of my Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest and Chapter Critique Giveaway event and have been following me for ages...the least I can do is help out with their own promotions! 

As a friendly reminder, if you haven't signed up for the blogfest and/or giveaway yet, you have 5 days left in which to do so! Again, here are the rules: Any time between June 22 (my birthday!) and June 24, post on your blog either an original poem or an existing poem that focuses on one or more of the following: birthdays, the 1920s era, or time. Here is the InLinkz list below: 

And to enter the Chapter Critique Giveaway, doing an or all of the following and let me know (P=Points):
  • Become a follower of my blog (5P)
  • Participate in The Roarin' Twenties Blogfest (5P)
  • Tweet about the blogfest and include the hashtag #theredangel and @xtheredangelx in your tweet (1P)
  • Like TRA on Facebook (2P)
The more points you rack up, the better chance you have of getting that critique of one chapter of a novel or a short story.

Remember, you do NOT have to be a poetry writer in order to participate. You can post either a poem you wrote, or your favorite related poem by a famous poet or other.

Wendy Lu


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Announcing: The Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest + Chapter Critique Giveaway

QOTD: If you could go back and (re)live through an entire decade in history, which decade would you choose and why? 

There are officially 8 days left until my 20th birthday! Huzzah! One would think turning 20 wasn't as exciting as turning 21 or 18, but in China decades are huge turning points in a person's life. I mean, I consider this past decade (Year 10 - Year 20) to be the Decade of Rebellion. I wonder what this next decade will bring? 

To celebrate my second decade of being alive, I am hosting The Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest. This calls for another: "Huzzah!" The last blogfest I hosted was Inanimation 100-Followers Blogfest back in May 2011. Over 15 bloggers participated and it was one of my favorite blogging experiences ever. I've wanted to host another for a long time - and so here we are! I'm not very good at writing poetry, but I still write with words - I am writer. But I've decided I'm going out of my comfort zone for this one, because isn't that what part of being a writer is all about? Challenging yourself? Who's with me? 

Here are the rules: Any time between June 22 (my birthday!) and June 24, post on your blog either an original poem or an existing poem that focuses on one or more of the following: birthdays, the 1920s era, or time. Don't forget to enter your link and your name/blog name below using the InLinkz tool, and check out everyone else's blogfest entries! That's it! more thing! 

Not only is it going to be my birthday, but I am also getting close to 200 followers as well. This is a bit of a stretch, I know, but it would make my decade if I reached 200 followers by my 20th birthday. I would love to reach this goal if possible, but I need your help. Therefore, I am also hosting a Chapter Critique Giveaway to complement the blogfest! 

That's right - for the winner who racks up the most giveaway points, I will read and critique any one chapter of a manuscript OR a short story (page limit: 20 pages). The critique will include in-depth review, copy editing, rating, and suggestions - either over email or a Skype call (!). As a copy editor for both Cellar Door and Blue & White magazines, I promise you I will give constructive feedback.

To enter the giveaway, do any of the following and COMMENT below with a list of everything you did for your entry (P=Points): 
  • Become a follower of my blog (5P)
  • Participate in The Roarin' Twenties Blogfest (5P)
  • Tweet about the blogfest and include the hashtag #theredangel and @xtheredangelx in your tweet (1P)
  • Like TRA on Facebook (2P)
For every point, you will be entered in a random generator once. The maximum number of entries you can have is 13. On June 24, I will list all of the names in a random generator (*idea from Oh to be a Muse), and one name will be chosen randomly receives the chapter critique. So the more points you rack up, the better chance you have for the giveaway! 

Remember, participating in The Roarin' Twenties Blogfest automatically gives you 5 points. Woot!

Wendy Lu


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Templates for Story Outlining

#DailyWings: "Do not be concerned that you lack an official position, but rather concern yourself with the means by which you might become established. Do not be concerned that no one has heard of you, but rather strive to become a person worthy of being known." -Confucius, Analects 4.14

I'm not big on the realms of religion and philosophy, but we're studying Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy in one of my summer classes and I came across today's #DailyWings quote in the Confucius section. During my ROW80 and JuNoWriMo journey so far, I have noticed something. The less I write, the more self-conscious I become and the less focused I am on my work. But the more I write while "in the zone," the less concerned I am with the prospects of publication, fame and other ridiculous things. Instead, I write for writing's sake, for portraying the truth genuinely as life portrays it every day for us. I care more about the story and about the characters than anything else at that moment. 

I think that's definitely something I would like to strive for as a writer. It doesn't matter if I become nationally acclaimed for our bestselling, ground-breaking novel. Well, okay, maybe it does - a little. But what's more important is that I work hard to get to that point. In the end, all we want to do is write the best darn novel we possibly can. Yet, as we approach the midway point of JuNoWriMo, let's focus on actually getting the writing done before we focus on quality and bestseller lists, shall we? 

As promised, I have replicated the templates that I used for The T-Project, my current writing project, and have provided them below. The actual outlines are scribbled in my Moleskine notebook and very messy (who's isn't?), so I thought I'd recreate them - except using a different story plot. 

The story plot is made up, but I was inspired by the movies, I Dreamed of Africa and The Gods Must be Crazy


*Everyone knows the line, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Each project has its own process - with a beginning and an end. For Page 1, start out with a vision of where you want your project to be at when it's completed. The "moon and stars" keep you motivated. Working out themes help you decide what you want your project to be about on a grander scale. 

One of my ROW80 goals is to write character-driven scenes. This is a mini version of the giant relationship bubbles that should focus on Main Character (MC). Readers are with your MC 99 percent of the time, and the people she meets all play a role in her story. This is the time to grind out those roles. 

Everyone is different when it comes to outlining scenes. I've tried story maps, bubble maps, Excel charts, and nothing works better for me than this simple list. All scenes orbit around the conflict for this particular story, and so I broke down my outline into pre-conflict scenes and post-conflict scenes. Why? Pre-conflict scenes lead us up to the conflict, whereas post-conflict scenes derive from the effects that the conflict had on the characters. I also list the most significant scenes and, below them, the mini scenes that correspond. 

And here are almost all the events in timeline form! The conflict and climax are starred because they're super important (duh), and in between major scenes of the story I add a couple of the mini (but still significant!) scenes. Add time points if desired. 

This was just a rough sketch of what these templates would look like filled using a basic story plot. What do you think? What sort of outline tools do you use when planning out your story?

Wendy Lu

*You may use these templates for your own story planning, but please provide credit if you are going to share on your blogs! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ROW80 Days: Hello, June!

#DailyWings:  "I'd rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy permanent planet." 
-Jack London

Alas! Is it June already? I know my posts often include exclamations of how time flies, but this exclamation is particularly significant because June is my birth month. In a little over two weeks, I will turn 20 years old. My reaction: O_O 

Ha. Um, what? That's two decades of my life right there! I used to think birthdays were the best ever, and that no matter what your age is, the day you were born and came into this world should always be a reason for celebration. Don't get me wrong - I'm still excited, but I'm a little afraid too. Technically I qualified for "grownup status" almost two years ago, but somehow the age 20 solidifies the new period in life that means real world. Responsibilities that require good decision-making. The job market. It's like I've been living in a bubble my whole life, and all of a sudden that bubble is going to be pricked with a needle. Pop

Well, I suppose there is nothing else left to do but embrace this next decade ahead of me. Changes are to come, and lessons of a lifetime. There are so many pathways in front of me... each one has the potential to define the rest of my career and my identity. It's up to me to choose the one that is best for me. I don't even know what those pathways are yet, but I'm ready to find out. Well, not yet. Soon. In two weeks, I will be ready. 

For this month, I have resolved to write in my journal, my beloved Moleskine journal, for every day of June. To document the last few days of my 19th year, and to accomplish a major writing goal. So far, I have managed to journal every single day no matter what, and it's been liberating. For once, I feel like my journal entries actually connect and make sense when they're read from page to page. 

Speaking of writing goals, I am sorry for not keeping up with my ROW 80 blog posts. But I do have wonderful news: I finished a whole chapter! I checked the count, and it's almost 6,000 words. Considering the fact that I've been taking summer classes and serving as a research assistant, I'd say that's an accomplishment! What about you? Have you 

Finally, I would like to introduce my new camera, Diego. Isn't it handsome? Diego is my first--and the best--birthday gift. I've been taking it out for some practice shoots in various locations just for fun, and I just started a new project called: "One-Sentence Story Photography." I will post favorites on my Facebook page. The idea is that every photo features a fiction super-short (theoretically one sentence long, but I get carried away and sometimes one sentence isn't enough!). All stories are fictional, of course, and merely for my own enjoyment. It's a nice writing exercise, too! Here are just a few from the first batch of Diego photos, along with their respective shorts: 

There was nowhere else in the world where she felt safer or happier than in the realm of her nearly-forgotten childhood, but what use is there in living in the past?

All his life, he had cared for nothing but books and movies. When he was nine, he tugged on his mother's skirt and said, "Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a storyteller."

No matter how hard Fishy tried to swim, he could never get close enough to pick up the pail.

She placed two hands on her mother's favorite vase and blew off the dust that covered the gold-tipped rim. Against the tip of her fingers, the vase was cold and hard, just like her mother.

Cameras took pictures, and pictures meant evidence. The investigator knelt down, determined to capture every crack, every stain.

To cut or not to cut? He was sure she would love it...roses were her favorite, after all.

The boy giggled, for no one else could have thought up of a better hiding place...nobody could find him here, in this perfect sanctuary.

This peculiar wall was the only thing that was keeping the squirrel from getting to his beloved pine nuts on the other side.

The ant clung to the rose branches for dear life, but to no avail - a single thorn sliced across his tiny foot, and down Tim fell.

After nearly twelve years of consuming half-eaten crusty doughnuts and sour milk from behind trash cans, Patty smelled her very first Thanksgiving.

It wasn't that she was afraid to break the glass cage and claim her freedom. She just wouldn't.

I have started a new #DailyWings trend on Twitter for sharing quotes, sayings and tidbits of inspiration. Feel free to tweet me your own collection of #DailyWings. Let me know how you like this new feature on TRA, as opposed to the Question of the Day. 

Wendy Lu

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