AH: 4 Questions to Ask Before Shelving Your Book

Hullo, world! 

It’s so great to be able to be back writing this post. Now that summer is creeping up on us (although it still feels like winter!!) time is speeding past me and I can’t believe how many things are right around the corner. I feel so underprepared. 

But worries aside, there’s been something that has been on my mind for the past few weeks…and it is on shelving books

As authors, I think we feel conflicted whenever we have to set aside our beloved WIPs. It’s even harder when your identity as an author is tied to that book. For me, I came to the tough decision of “permanently shelving” a WIP I’ve been working on for the past five years–and went right back to it this week. (I know, indecisiveness is key to all writers. Or maybe it’s just me, IDK.)

So for today’s Author Health, I’ll be looking at 4 Questions to Ask Before Shelving Your Book

Without further ado, let us commence!

A. Are you hungry? (Or simply tired?)

Yup. That’s a legitimate question to be asking yourself. I find that when I’m physically running on empty, I tend to get cranky and moody. Everything is falling apart!  My book is falling apart! Wahhhh!! 

That automatically makes me sound like a toddler, but are we actually that different from adolescents? Like, really?  

So take a break and eat real food. Boil pasta, bake bread, eat curry-on-rice, what have you. Chances are, you’ll be able to make a better decision after that. 

Food is life. Be more like Sasha.

B. Does this story matter to you?

This sounds obvious, but take a deep look at yourself and ask, Does this story matter to me? 

One of the biggest reasons I thought I had to “shelve” my WIP was because I didn’t feel like this story mattered to me anymore. My siblings kept cheering me on (in fact, this was the only story they were waiting for me to write) but I didn’t think it mattered as much to me as it did back when I started. A lot of this was due to question A–I was probably hungry. (Okay, that’s oversimplifying the matter but it’s true! I wasn’t eating well.)

If you don’t know why the story matters to you, then it’s a big warning to take a pause and list all the reasons it matters to you. When you know the story matters to you and why, you can keep going on even when it gets tough. 

Mikasa’s reason for everything.

C. Do you love any of these characters?

A big tell to shelve a book temporarily or permanently (hopefully never) is if you, the author, do not love any of the characters you write about. Now, I’d say this is probably rare. However, I did have instances when the plot took superiority and just dragged the characters away. This spells disaster because characters are what makes your story come alive. I know some people may disagree with me over plot over character over prose (sometimes), but if you don’t care about your characters, neither will the reader. 

Contrarily, if you love your characters to pieces no matter how terrible the story seems to be, there’s hope. Take a moment to reflect on each of your character’s stories and listen to how they play off each other. 

How can you not love this boy??

D. Can you stop thinking about your book?

Lastly, even if you’ve answered no to all of the above, if your answer is yes to this last question, don’t shelve your book just yet! I have so many ideas and I often don’t know where to start  (or stop). That’s just because they’re all in different stages of creation. 

One WIP has been on my mind for four years and I’ve written a third of the story and have it stewing. 

One WIP takes a long time to write, but when I do write, I can pound as many word counts in it as I need. 

One WIP is still brewing in the clouds although I know perfectly how the story begins and ends. 

Sometimes, all you need to do is to sit back and let your mind roam free. Try not to think about your book. If you can’t, then it’s still probably dying to be told. 

IDK, I’m nostalgic for Narnia…

Practical steps to take:

  1. Eat real food. 
  2. List out all the reasons the story matters to you.
  3. Listen to your character’s stories. 
  4. Try to stop thinking about your book. 

NOTE: Also, shelving books doesn’t have to be permanent. It can always be temporary!

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! What did you think? How do you find out if you need to shelve a book? Have you shelved books before? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below; I’d love to chat with you!

5 Favourite Tea Companies + WIP Update

Hullo, world!

Last week I wrote a post that was kind of heavy and actually took many tries for me to write…And I’m glad I did. 

But for this week, I think I’ll settle for something light and fluffy. 😉 The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom, but that’s just the timing for it to rain…I know, Vancouver weather simply sucks. Plus, it hailed last Friday. 

Anyhow. 

Today, I’ll be sharing my 5 Favourite Tea Companies! *squeals* I love drinking tea (in case you didn’t know) and usually drink at least 5 cups of tea a day. Since I’m on a Lent fast, I’m only drinking hot water as of current, but still. 

Now that the introductions are underway, let the tea party commence!

1. Murchie’s Tea & Coffee

:: Visit Murchie’s::

This is one of the older companies on the list with a history of 127 years. Since it’s Canadian/Scottish, the tea blends offer things like Canadian Breakfast, Sugar Maple, CBC Radio blends, & c. One thing I love about Murchie’s is the old tea shop feel and how one can find totally unexpected blends like Strawberry shortcake blend. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Canadian Breakfast | Editor’s Blend | Queen Victoria 

2. The Secret Garden Tea Company

:: Visit TSGTC::

This is an excellent tea parlour like anyone can hope for based locally! It’s one of the oldest tea houses in Vancouver located in one of my favourite areas…Kerrisdale! You can book a high tea, breakfast/lunch tea, or individual teas. It is a bit expensive, but I love the atmosphere and the special occasion feel, so it’s definitely worth it. 

3. DavidsTea

:: Visit DAVIDsTEA::

Okay, now that I looked at the list, this one’s also a Canadian tea store. But. Unlike the other tea companies on the list, this one takes a more modern approach to tea so it’s not like the traditional tea store. Plus, I just love the colourful cans and glass-jars filled with all sorts of exotic blends. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

cream of earl grey organic | tulsi tranquility | just peachy

4. Twinnings 

:: Visit Twinnings (UK/NA)::

As many of you already know, I’m obsessed with Earl Grey tea. And since I’m obsessed, there’s no possible way I won’t mention the company which first established it. Twinnings has a history of 300+ years, and that’s almost as cool as the fact it’s practically a tea standard of sorts. (Fun Fact: Our family buys the 144 tea bag box of Earl Grey.)

Some of my favourite tea blends:

Ear Grey | Lady Grey | English Breakfast

5. Tsujiri

:: Visit Tsujiri (CA/JP)::

This store was founded in 1860 around the time of the end of the Edo era and shogunate. I didn’t have a chance to visit when I was in Japan, but it recently came to Canada! 

One thing I love about Tsujiri is the deep authentic taste of Japanese tea. I’m kind of picky about green tea here (which is why I cringe when I find people have blended green tea with something else). With Tsujiri, I can be sure to get the dark, rich flavour I’ve been craving. They also have tea-infused sweets and food which is just amazing. 

Some of my favourite tea blends:

O-matcha | Houjicha Latte | Sencha


*End tea-rant*

I hope I’ve done each tea company justice to convince you to drink more tea. If not, I guess I’ll force-feed you tea next week. *inserts evil laughter*

Anyhow. 

WIP Update

I’ve been kind of all over the place with my WiPs as of late and kind of wanted to apologise for that. I mean, I don’t need to, but I don’t like confusion and I’m just going to assume you don’t, either. (If you’re the kind of person who lives for chaos, this has nothing to do with you.) 

Recap of Months 1, 2, and 3

January–I was writing my secret project ™ which I revealed (sort of) to be titled Osthauptstadt. Wrote the 0.5 draft to halfway point of 25K and left it to stew. 

February–I wanted to write something fluffy and not as serious as my previous WIP, so I switched gears to Elijacomb 17. I wrote 10K in addition to the 11K I had, bridging the 0.5 draft total to 21K. Very happy with what I’ve written. 

March–I started out brainstorming for another secret project involving homeschoolers, tea, and superpowers, but realised I had to type out last MeNoWriMo’s handwritten draft (aka Woodstone, 05 draft)…which is what I’m doing now. I also printed out Zwei from Juliet and began some edits. 

So that’s kind of where I’m at. Although I feel all over the place, looking at it this way makes me realise I hadn’t been wasting my time or anything. (I know, that’s the grand revelation we come to.) I’m still kind of on the fence whether I should do Camp NaNo this year or not, but last year I got solid wordcounts in for Woodstone and would like to do that, so I guess I’m leaning into doing it. Not on the website, though. (If you’re curious about this, read this post I did last October.) 

And I guess what I wanted to say is, even though a quarter of this year’s already past, you’ll probably find that you’ve actually accomplished much if you look back. Until I did this WIP Update, I didn’t realise I got a lot done already. I thought I was kind of flitting to and fro and meandering between projects (which is true to some extent) , not getting much done. 

But I was. 

And it reminds me that it’s important we know where we are in life, where we’re heading, and whether or not we’re at a place God wants us to be. Maybe you didn’t get things done you thought you would. Maybe you’re a little burnt out already. Wherever you are, try to take a moment to reflect on the year 2021 so far. I promise you, it will help you find your footing. 

And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Do you have any favourite tea company? Do you like drinking tea? How is life going for you so far? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days

Hullo, world!

The weather is starting to warm up, the cherry blossoms are starting to open up, and rain days are diminishing by the week…it’s starting to look like spring! Without a  doubt, spring is my favourite season of the year. In Japan, it’s also the start of a new school year–so I guess that also reminds me of new beginnings. Plus, we have Easter and my Christian birthday…spring is absolutely the best

But enough about me gushing about spring. 

Today, we’re back for our monthly Author Health series. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the week I look at stigmas surrounding writing and mental health and offer tips/encouragement that worked for me. 

Our topic today is *da-dun!* 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days!

We all have one of those days when you’re facing a blank screen or a black screen filled with what you deem ‘trash’. Or your mind is scrambling around busily conveying all the wonderful ideas you have  in your head, except you can’t seem to process it enough to turn into words. Or worse yet, you spend all of your precious writing time scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram feeds. And you think, Why is this so hard? Why is writing so…painful??

Which is where I come in with truths about writing. 🙂

1. Writing takes time.

This, I find, is actually a huge truth we tend to miss by the kilometre. (Yes, it’s that highway sign you were supposed to be on watch for and totally missed.) Writing is a task of arranging 26 letters into words that make sentences that set the mood, music, paint, and animate all at the same time. No wonder it might take some time!

I know a while back, I did a post on Stephen King’s On Writing. If you’ve read it, or know anything about his writing habit, it’s that the man writes fast. Like, insanely fast. Or maybe we can say he’s the guru of writing almost everyday. 

Which I’ve tried, and it works to set a routine, but I still realised this: Writing still takes time, even if I write everyday. Sure, you might get down word counts faster. But that doesn’t mean it’s polished. As a whole, writing is a business that takes lots of energy and time. It’s okay if you’ve been writing the same book for the past five years. Donna Tartt, the author of The Secret History and The Goldfinch (a Pulitzer winner) took ten years to write just one book. 

The editing process be like:

2. You’re the only one who can write this book.

The second most common trap a writer falls into is comparison. Once upon a time, I was a happy-go-lucky writer who paid no attention whatsoever to how other people wrote, or when they got published. I would come across articles about comparison and think, “Well, that has nothing to do with me!”

Needless to say, I was wrong. 

The more I grow as a writer, the more I reach my milestones and word counts and project goals, the more I should, in theory, gain confidence. And don’t get me wrong, I did gain confidence, too. But at the same time, I also realised there’s a lot of writers out there. 

You start to realise that there are genres you lean towards, and stories that sound a lot like yours. While before you were proud of your little darling WIP, now you may hesitate to introduce your WIP to the world of writers out there, nervous it won’t receive the novel attention you thought it would attract. 

Yet the truth remains: No matter how similar a story may be, you’re the only one who can write your story. Why? Well, there’s only one of you. No one else here on this earth has gone through the experiences you went through, lived with the exact same culture, grew up with the exact same people around you. And that’s why your story, however similar it feels, will always be different. 

Writers lying in wait for good ideas.
There goes my inspiration!

3. There will be someone out there who’s dying to read your book. 

And yes, I will say this on the pain of sounding cliché: There are 7.8 billion people on mother earth. There will be at least one person in there who’s dying to read your book. Just think about that. 

Someone out there waiting for your book

4. It’s okay to write for yourself.

That being said, I think one of the things I tend to forget is that a first draft is always written for myself. I have a habit of dedicating a book to my Ideal Reader before I start any project, but it’s perfectly fine if that IR is yourself. 

For me, I was writing Juliet before my depression, through it, and after it. It’s influenced my life in more ways than I can count. 

And then there’s Elektriem and Woodstone. Those were the two projects I worked the hardest on when my college plans fell apart. By writing these stories, I was able to reconcile with myself that it’s okay to let go. It wasn’t admitting defeat (something every overachiever Asian should know), and it wasn’t running away. Sometimes you just had to let things be, let go and let God work in your life. 

Waiting for ramen…me, always and forever 🙂

5. The only way to go is forward. 

Lastly, writing is always moving forward. Even when you’re stuck in this excruciating rut of a slump, or just a day when everything you write comes out wrong, everything you put into your writing helps you move forward, not backward. That time you spent staring at the blank screen furiously going over fictional conversation? It’s called visualising what you’re going to write. That time you think you wasted scrolling through Pinterest? It’s called worldbuilding and getting a precise picture of your story. 

Writers write, even when they’re not writing. And that, my dears, is the beauty of being a writer. 

What did you think? Do you have “painful writing days”? What are some ways you remind yourself writing is worth it? What is the biggest thing you learnt as a writer? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!