June always tends to be a rather lethargic month, but no matter, because lots of exciting things brightened this month for me!

On the blog

  • I shared some very exciting publication news—a poem of mine, "Still Life with Broken Hearts", was part of the second issue of -Ology Journal.
  • More publication news! My poem "Mouth" was in the third issue of Glass Kite Anthology. Both of these publications came out on the same day (which also happened to be my last day of school, so it was a great way to start my summer break off with a bang). 
  • My Fiction Friday feature became Weekend Wordfest, and I talked about Tumblr poets because Tumblr poets are amazing people. 
  • ...and even more publication news. My weird star-filled Rapunzel retelling found a home in the latest issue of Rose Red Review
  • Although I already posted about this bit of publication news back in November, I feel it's worth mentioning again, because my story "They Held Starlight" was released this month by Young Adult Review Network aka YARN! Also LOOK:
I'm not even going to pretend I didn't freak out when I learned this

  • I did Beautiful People again, this time focusing on everyone's favorite privileged dork, Charles Mareil! (Also, his parents.)

That one time I was offline *gasp*

  • This first week of June was the second-to-last week of my freshman year of high school, so naturally things were hectic as teachers realized they had procrastinated on assessing us all semester.
  • Cue WEEK OF DOOM. A brief recap of that week in particular:
    • On Tuesday, I gave my honors presentation for my literature class—comparing author's craft as it relates to theme in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (a text from class) as opposed to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (a text I chose). I think both books are very valuable contributions to the literary canon, but F451 is really misogynist, which makes me unable to love it. The Bell Jar, though—oh gosh, I think I've found a new author to add to my favorites list. Sylvia Plath's words are just gorgeous.
    • On Thursday, I presented for my health class (aka absolutely the most pointless class ever to sully my schedule), and I presented my final project for AP Statistics, which was a short animation film/parody of Harry Potter designed to show off a study + statistical inference that my group had conducted. 
    • On Friday, I had to wear a dress to school, which I haven't done in at least two years. This was because our world history class was presenting final research papers.
  • Then the last week of school, or actual finals week, rolled around. 
    • Cue WEEK OF NOTHING. I only had three actual finals to do—all in my easiest classes.
    • That'd be health, physics, and Japanese. 
    • But! In world history, I got to eat Chilean empanadas and drink mote con huesillo and listen to my world history teacher tell stories about living in Chile. It was great. (Also the empanadas and mote were DELICIOUS. Oh my goodness.)
  • So after that, my summer break started! It's been horribly delightfully uneventful so far.
  • This isn't exactly offline, but I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Serena @ Reading Over Sleeping and redesign her blog. I installed a responsive theme and did color/font/header customizations. I think the result wasn't too bad! (BTW, if you've got a Blogger blog and want a free responsive redesign, talk to me on Twitter @_christinaim or in the comments.)
  • The weather is so pretty and obliging outside. It's very suspicious, because this is the Pacific Northwest and the weather does not get so nice without an ulterior motive. 

I've been reading

  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers. One of the best books I've read all year.
  • The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, for school. I had some issues with the slightly stilted prose, portrayals of female characters, and slowness/loose ends of the plot, but otherwise it was a lovely, quiet, elegant read.
  • Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. OH MY GOODNESS CAN SIMON SPIER BE MY BEST FRIEND? ALSO: SHIP SHIP SHIP SHIP.

PS: Remember, you can check out all my reads of 2015 here.

I've been watching

even the opening sequence is pretty, gosh
I'm still recovering from my severe post-The 100-finale show hangover, but I've found two shows this month that might help me in that process. First up is a wonderfully executed BBC period drama called The Paradise. It centers around the fictional first department store in England, called—you guessed it—the Paradise, and a country girl with big dreams who comes to work there.

Aforementioned 'country girl with big dreams' is Denise Lovett, and oh my goodness. I love her. The first thing I noticed about her was how earnest and good and helpful she was. She's willing to work hard to gain acceptance and success and independence, and she loves her job so, so much. I think this is the first period drama I've seen where the heroine works for a living and places her occupation above pretty much everything else. So that's really refreshing and lovely.
denise lovett: actual ray of sunshine
This show also has a really cool group of characters interacting, and I love that there are so many multifaceted, dynamic female characters who are driving a lot of the storyline. My only problem with the characters, I think, is in the male lead, Mr. Moray. He's honestly kind of a sexist blockhead, although I'm told he gets somewhat better.

But the costumes are brilliant. Apparently one of the same people who worked on the Wolf Hall costumes also worked on the costumes for The Paradise, and in my opinion, it shows. Everyone's clothes are just beautiful, especially with the colors in this show being the way they are.
Anyway, if you'd like to discuss, I've finished the first season. And, um, where is the fandom? (Please tell me there's a fandom.) SHOW YOURSELVES.
american history that's actually cool? yeah, i didn't believe it either
I came across AMC's Turn on Netflix—somehow the show is so underrated that I'd never heard of it before!—and immediately my interest was piqued by the premise. A show about George Washington's Revolutionary War spy ring aka one of the few actually interesting parts of American history? Sign me up.

I was captivated right away by the show's details and framing designs. The fonts used (no don't say anything, fonts are very important to me) are gorgeous, and the costumes actually seem somewhat accurate, which is very cool. And oh gosh, the music is flawless. But the most beautiful part of this? Check out the killer opening credits sequence (although warning for a bit of promotional gobbledygook at the end):

Anyway, it took me a little while to warm to the characters/story, but once I did, I couldn't get enough of them. The first character I loved? Predictably, the most important female character in the show, Anna Strong aka amazing brave reckless Patriot lady who takes no crap from men:
yes! you deserve a high five, anna strong!
But soon I discovered I liked the protagonist, too—Abraham Woodhull aka sneaky cabbage farmer who is actually kind of adorable sometimes and also wears lots of hats:
plus, he's super crafty and has the most precious facial expressions sometimes
Anyhow, the show has a great plotline and a very well-rounded cast of characters, in my opinion, so it's super, super cool if you like history and spies and things. Do check it out! I don't think it gets enough love. (And if you'd like to discuss in the comments, please know I'm not even through the first season yet, so no spoilers please!)
I went to the movie theater to go see Pixar's new film Inside Out! This movie was adorable and incredibly inventive—one of the most ingenious animated films I've seen in a while. Plus, the characters are all so precious, and Sadness is pretty much me IRL.

Help, someone teach me how to Instagram

Click each image to go to full-size!
i actually cooked a thing. (my mom helped, naturally.) to my surprise, it tasted fabulous.
i participated in a book photography challenge. you might remember this book from the first-ever #litlove.
poetry is hard, pretty much.

Links of interest

So we're halfway through the year already! How have you all been doing? Are you glad it's finally summer (winter for my friends on the other half of the globe)?

PS: Watch this space. I've got something extra-special planned for tomorrow to kick off July. Writer friends, you'll love it. 
Read More
Another month has rolled around, and you all know what that means. A new month heralds the arrival of a new Beautiful People feature on the blog! (Of course, it's almost the tail end of the month now, but shhh.)

This month's theme is parents, which works wonderfully for a particular character I've been thinking about. Plus, we readers of YA books are all too aware that parents tend to get shoved aside in lots of stories. While I love good orphan characters as much as the next girl (Baudelaires, I'm looking at you), I think parents are important elements in the lives of many teenagers, and they're too often neglected. So I'm glad to be able to shed light on one set of parents I'm writing today. 

This time around, I'm featuring Charles Mareil, a supporting character in my WIP On the Midnight Streets. He's eighteen years old and the son of a duke, and the fortune that he'll inherit upon his father's death is second only to whatever's in the royal coffers. He's also idealistic to a fault, and he isn't too good with the company of people he doesn't know well. His family is one of the most prominent in the kingdom, so as the eldest son, he feels huge amounts of pressure to uphold their good name. But at heart he's super earnest and well-intentioned and he cares about people and goodness and bravery a lot. Charles first becomes important in OtMS because he and my heroine, Chantilly, are engaged. They even almost get married.

Until Chantilly gets kidnapped at her wedding, but hey, whatever.

Along with dear Charles, I'm also going to talk about his mother and father, Eleanor and Richard Mareil. Richard is one of the more high-ranked, wealthy dukes in the kingdom, and he runs a thriving tea business that imports from all over the world. However, he himself has fallen into a bit of moral decay. He has a host of expensive bad habits that his family tries very hard to keep a secret. Eleanor is the epitome of a good duchess—or at least she was until she came down with a terminal illness that doctors still can't really name, most likely some kind of cancer. Charles loves them, of course, but sometimes he feels like he's been left to compensate for their shortcomings and weaknesses.

1. Do they know both their biological parents? Why/why not?

Charles supposedly lives with both of his biological parents, but his mother is actually housed in an Upper City hospital. He doesn't actually know his parents as well as he'd like to, because Upper City custom dictates that parents have their children taken care of by household servants hired specially for the task. He has a general sense of them as people, of course, but there's always been a measure of distance between him and his parental figures. They're family, but 'family' is rather a loose term in the Upper City.

(I suppose he should just consider himself lucky to be a legitimate child and not born outside of wedlock. The Upper City is a world of pain for illegitimate children.)

2. Have they inherited any physical resemblances from their parents?

Charles mostly takes after his mother, Eleanor, in terms of physical appearance. He and Eleanor are both fair-haired, tall, and pretty as anything (no, really; Charles is prettier than most of the girls in the OtMS cast, protagonist Chantilly included). They have graceful, slender limbs that make everything they do seem like dancing. They also share a somewhat aloof bearing that makes them seem almost statuesque when viewed from afar. Alas, that doesn't work so well for Charles when you actually get to talk to him and you figure out he's a Legitimate Awkward Dork.

In sum: he's very nice to look at but maybe try not to let him open his mouth.

Charles does have his father Richard's hazel eyes. However, most of his father's appearance was passed down to Charles's degenerate younger brother, Edward—brown hair and sharp eyes and a face that tends to make people uncomfortable.

3. What's their parental figure(s) dress style? Add pictures if you like!

Charles's father is always careful to dress in the height of men's fashion, having so much money at his disposal. However, part of it is that he wants to maintain the impression of power in wealth—the Mareils have been losing money lately, due to Edward's gambling habit and Richard's, er, various vices. So he spends extravagantly on clothes that will make him seem like the picture of privilege.
On the other hand, Charles's mother doesn't have as much... sartorial license, let's say. She's confined to a hospital bed the vast majority of the time, so while her clothes are still of high quality and really lovely besides, they're much less flamboyant than they might be ordinarily.

4. Do they share any personality traits with their parental figures? And which do they take after most?

Personality-wise, Charles got quite a bit from his mother. They both have very set moral compasses and are drawn to ideas above all else. They have firmly established principles that they live by, and that makes them very uncomfortable with gray areas. They can be almost frighteningly determined if they choose to be, and they try their hardest to do right by everyone they meet. They can be pretentious sometimes, but they never really mean it, and they've both been bred to be excellent figureheads for their families.

On the other hand, Charles and his father are nearly polar opposites. Probably the biggest difference between them is that Richard is perfectly fine with bending the rules a little (or a lot) to get his way, while Charles opposes anything of the sort. 

5. Do they get on with their parental figure(s) or do they clash?

Much of Charles's childhood has been about learning to inhabit himself without his parents around to help him, as neither of them have really been there for him enough to 'raise' him in the typical sense. More often than not, he doesn't really know how to act around them. It pains him to admit to himself that he does tend to clash more with his parents, as his father's terrible habits and ruthless business sense kind of rub him the wrong way, and his mother's ambitions for him are a little overwhelming. He does get along much better with his mother most of the time, though.

6. If they had to describe their parental figure(s) in one word, what would it be?

His father: unconcerned. Charles feels that Richard has always displayed a troubling ability to distance himself from problems—whether they're his own or those of society as a whole. Although this is sometimes helpful, it's also incredibly damaging in the long run, and it's one of the few things that can get Charles really, truly angry.

His mother: unyielding. Eleanor's an incredibly stubborn woman across the board—once she's decided something should be a certain way, no one can change her mind. This applies to anything from her emotions to her appearance. While Charles usually admires that about his mother, sometimes it can be a little exasperating, especially when she projects that stubbornness onto her expectations for his future.

7. How has their parental figure(s) helped them most in their life?

Mostly, Charles's father has helped him through his money and family name—using his father's prestige and financial freedom, Charles has been able to get huge amounts of privilege and opportunity that would otherwise have been unavailable to him. For example, at the beginning of OtMS, his family's reputation has put him on the kingdom's Residential Council, though he has zero experience dealing with residential affairs. The other council members kind of resent this:
Honestly, I think. One meeting. My father means to get me a position as head of the Residential Council of the Mendlands, seeing as I haven’t got the cunning to take on his tea company once he retires, but not a soul in the council other than me is younger than five and forty. Of course, that means there are daughters in their houses—and most of the council members would rather have me as a son-in-law than as a chairman. They ask for my opinions when they really mean time to marry, my lord.
Charles's mother, on the other hand, has taught him a lot about perseverance and about maintaining a tough-as-nails attitude in the face of overwhelming odds. Her illness has kept her mostly confined to the hospital for the past five years, but Charles has drawn a lot of inspiration from her determination, wisdom, and spirit.

8. What was their biggest fight with their parental figure(s)?

When Charles was fourteen or so, he got into a heated argument with his parents about his illegitimate half-sister, Talia. Charles wanted his parents to allow Talia to live with the Mareils, as an accepted part of the family. He's always wanted to get to know Talia better, since she's older than he is and he's always craved the guidance of an older sibling. However, both his parents would prefer to keep her out of the public eye, because if word got out that Charles's father had had an affair with a servant that produced a daughter, things would get ugly for the Mareils really fast. Charles felt this was deeply unfair to both Talia and himself—he still does—but in the end, he had to give over to what his parents wanted.

A few months later, though, his father decided it'd be advantageous to make it look like Talia was a ward of the family, and she came to live with them. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), Charles's time with her was abruptly cut off by a... certain incident that forced the family to send her away again.

// can't say more because important backstory spoilers

// hint: may have to do with a certain hat-wearing rapscallion

9. Tracing back the family tree, what nationalities are in their ancestry?

OtMS is set in a kingdom called the Mendlands. Knowing this, we can see that Charles's bloodline is Mendish. And Mendish. And...

...yes, more Mendish. Sadly, interracial marriages are frowned upon in the Mendlands—one thing you should about this country is that it has a horribly prejudiced social mindset that needs to be thrown out the window STAT—so an old-money family like Charles's wouldn't even consider ever allowing them. The Mareils were also one of the first families to come to prominence in the Mendlands, in the kingdom's early days, and they've enjoyed high status ever since. They're very proud of their 'pureblood' lineage, although Charles has been questioning that pride lately.

10. What’s their favorite memory with their parental figure(s)?

Oddly enough, Charles has really good memories of his entire family having breakfast together when he was younger. It hasn't happened in years, so maybe the memories have been strengthened by nostalgia, but he was definitely fond of those times. His parents would converse quietly and thoughtfully over their toast and tea and other assorted expensive Mendish foods, and they would actually listen to him if he wanted to tell them something, and his brother Edward would actually shut up for once, because Edward is the only one in the family who isn't a morning person.

Or maybe those were his best parent-related memories because of the food.

Charles really likes breakfast food.

And on that note, I'd like to turn it over to you all! What do you think of Charles and his parents? Did you participate in Beautiful People?

Read More
I've got another publication credit releasing today—on the summer solstice, no less, and in the realm of fiction rather than poetry! 
[credit | melyssa anishnabie / via | rose red review website]
Those of you familiar with my writing will no doubt know that my fiction and poetry are wildly different beasts. My prose is almost always steeped in the speculative, with lots of retelling elements and magic to be had, while my poetry is much more amorphous. I love them both equally, and I feel that they both highlight different aspects of my personality as a writer. But I did start on fiction long before I ever thought about pursuing poetry seriously. So while there have been several exciting developments in the poetry department lately, I do still adore writing fantasy and its cousins.

Rose Red Review was kind enough to accept a short story of mine, "Dark-Side Dreaming", for publication in its thirteenth issue. The review's name is a reference to the fairy-tale character Rose Red (a favorite heroine of many, I'm sure). Check out a bit of what the publication is all about, Rose-Red-wise:
Rose Red is the outdoorsy, curious sister of Snow White, a shy, delicate wallflower. Rose Red represents warmth, passion, and the thirst for knowledge; it is she who invites the cursed bear-prince into the home she shares with her sister. Rose Red is enamored with life, and she possesses a sense of adventure. If she were a real girl, Rose Red would seek out the magic in the everyday: a sandy riverbank, a new song, strange happenings in an airport. In difficult times, she would recognize the nature of hardship: a hurdle to overcome.
Fun anecdote time: I first stumbled upon Rose Red Review when, a long time ago (like two years?) I was browsing through my dear friend (and newly minted YA author!) Kimberly Karalius's publication credits in search of reading material. Rose Red Review published her exquisite spin on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, "Scissors and Thorns", in 2012. So I've been wanting to submit here for a while!

A few of you have already read "Dark-Side Dreaming"—don't worry, that's only about three people. It's essentially a middle-grade retelling of Rapunzel, except 'Rapunzel' isn't locked in a tower.

She's on the moon. Because logic.

This was originally inspired by this art. I basically went, "Hey! Moon-tower! You know what else has to do with towers? RAPUNZEL."
[credit | christian schloe / via]
The story also spawned a Pinterest board, if you like that sort of thing:

Anyway, enough of me rambling. You can read the story here.

What do you think of this story? Any happy writing news of your own to share? Sound off in the comments!

Read More
[credit | vanni jung ståhle]

Weekend Wordfest is the new incarnation of my long-standing feature Fiction Friday here on the blog. Why'd I make the change, you ask? Lately, thanks to the Internet, I've been reading oodles and oodles of earth-shattering poetry that the name 'Fiction Friday' doesn't allow me to spotlight. So I decided that since this is a "my blog my rules" zone, a feature change was in order.

The format of each post will look about the same. Number-wise, I've decided to simply pick up where FF left off. Just think of it as Fiction + Poetry + Other Assorted Great Words Friday, or just Great Writing Around the Internet Friday. I might also feature some of my own in-progress work as well (maybe some more #watchmewrite videos? who knows), truly making this new feature an anything-goes 'wordfest'.

This week, I'd like to draw your attention to the wildly creative and varied melting pot that is the Tumblr poetry community. Most of my poetry taste has been shaped by writers I've read and loved around Tumblr, and these people have also reinforced my deep-seated belief that any artist who posts on the Internet is just as legitimate and fearless of an artist as any other. A lot of my Wordfests might end up featuring Tumblr writers from now on—just a heads-up.

"Howl" | Kharla M. Brillo

I love you like a love bite not meant: / not in tune to this neck, the train of bones, this railway spine, / the choir of flesh sunbathing under a hurricane sky.
I've been following Kharla (pouvoires) on Tumblr for a while, but it was only recently that I started to really get into her poetry. I love how honest and vibrant and recklessly emotional the imagery in Kharla's poetry is, and this particular poem is no exception. Add that to the brilliant formatting of the lines (how did she get around the finicky Tumblr quote post format? clearly she has mystical powers), and you've got a recipe for loveliness. 

read it here.

"Oh brother dearest" | Caitlyn Siehl

When you grew your fangs, / the first thing you did was suck the marrow / from that golden sun, then she followed you to the river / and watched you bury your baby teeth / while everything burned like an ending.
Caitlyn Siehl (alonesomes) was one of my first favorite Tumblr poets. This poem in particular is just so darkly gorgeous that I honestly think it'd be a crime not to feature it. Every line, particularly toward the end, is so wonderfully crafted. You can probably feel my poet envy through your screen at this very moment. Also, it could be just me, but I'm getting serious Artemis/Apollo vibes from this poem. (One thing you should know about me is that if something gives me Greek mythology vibes, I will like it 500% more.)

read it here.

"letters to my ghost" | Madeleine C.

everything is rusted / the colour of blood / the colour of a red light i will always ignore
I actually didn't come across Maddie's poetry via her poetry blog (vespairs) at all; instead, I got to it by first following her main blog (mythaelogy). The two are equally brilliant and both absolute dreams for lovers of aesthetics and mythology and powerful narratives. This poem in particular is a short and shuddering work, something that works by stitching together tiny flashes of imagery, and I really love how vivid it is. Do make the time (and it's not that much time at all) to take it in.

read it here

"Apology Song" | Suraya Kamal

In your ocean trench body, / I am the wreckage. / The mess you ached for, / The slipshod dialect in your poetry. / There is a void where your name left me; / Crawled out of my mouth and into the quiet.
I actually just discovered this poet (figmentalism) a few weeks ago when I read this poem, but oh. Oh my goodness. This is a heavy-hearted poem, with a wisdom and depth that feels age-old. It'll make you feel as though you shouted into a well years ago and you're finally hearing the echo that you needed.

PS: that last line that will leave you gutted. It's amazing.

read it here.

I hope you all savor these poems as much as I did, and have a wonderful weekend!

Read More
More exciting publication news to share with you all this month! My poem "Mouth" is in the third issue of the gorgeous Glass Kite Anthology.

GKA was founded by writers Margaret Zhang and Noel Peng—Margaret has actually contributed a poem (and a prose piece) to the lit/art magazine I run, The Teacup Trail, so I can personally vouch for the creative goodness on GKA's masthead. Plus, they've got a whole bunch of amazing staff. Here's a slice of what they're all about:
We want works that are on the verge of breaking, pieces that are bloated with experience, the ashes on your fingertips, the caverns between your cavities, the kneecaps bruised with jasmine tea. Tell us what it feels like when you first bite into your best friend’s grief, what you do when you outgrow your childhood sandals, where your brother goes at night with his lips stained orange. Let us catch the last words he indents on your cheek, the promises that hover just above the skyline, cawing away like crows.
(A little off-topic, but isn't that breathtaking?)

I highly encourage you to browse the rest of the issues they have archived on the Glass Kite Anthology website, as well as the issue I'm in:
This issue contains houses that occupy space in different ways, faeries, fresh perspectives on Greek mythology, biblical verses, love and lack of love, thirst, and a plethora of hands.

Enjoy digging into this wonderful slice of the arts, and do support all the other creators represented in this lovely issue!

Read More
-ology switched to a quarterly format after the above graphic was made
I'm so floored to be able to tell you all this: my poem "Still Life with Broken Hearts" is being published in the second issue of the drop-dead gorgeous -Ology Journal

-Ology is a quarterly online journal of literature and photography with an amazing staff headed by the relentlessly creative and talented Avery Myers. I started to follow their doings and dealings when the journal was first founded, as the lovely and brilliant Paola Bennet was the managing editor. Once I'd gotten a good look at their website and 'about' page, I fell in love:
Here at -Ology Journal, we ache for writing that exudes a boldness of sentences - for writing that establishes a sense of haunt. We want to publish the electricity at the end of your spine; the Friday-night shivers beneath your lungs.
Then when the first issue of -Ology came out, with a theme of 'alethiology' (the science of truth and evidence), I couldn't read fast enough. Here's the link for your reading enjoyment, because my mere words wouldn't do it justice.

This tweet (from too-cool-for-this-world Tumblr user mythaelogy), I think, sums it up best:
Anyway, I wrote a little poem about a relationship gone awry (which basically wrote itself after I'd come up with the title) and decided I might as well submit, because although I was admittedly very starstruck (who wouldn't be? this publication is amazing), I thought it wouldn't hurt to get my work read by such a talented group of creatives. You can imagine my open-mouthed surprise at receiving an acceptance letter around a month later.

Long story short, "Still Life with Broken Hearts" is now available in the second issue of -Ology, which has the theme of 'chiaroscuro'.

Please let me know what you think, and enjoy the rest of this breathtaking journal!

Read More
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home