Do you have time for a backstory?

Hello, Dearest Readers~

In my last update to you, I mentioned that the first installment of the Agria series would be released soon~ and yes, it’s still happening. ^^ I got word that it will happen in 2019. The new lunar new year for 2019, also known as The Year of the Golden Pig, is going to be the year to launch new projects and will be THE luck year. So that is comforting. ^^

But I suppose with the release of the new book, it’s time to give you the backstory of how this all kind of came about.

I started teaching at my current English language institute here in Seoul, South Korea back in December of 2010. While I had always been a writer and a poet, I often went through dry spells where there just wasn’t anything creative within me. About six months into the teaching gig, I was finally able to write a little something, and I felt bold enough to tell my boss and the curriculum director about it, Ben and Lee.

It was then when Ben and Lee found out that I enjoyed writing and they asked me if I could write them a story for an educational app they’d been working on. It centered around teaching young kids how to read English in a storybook type app. They gave me the particulars and off I went. They had been having trouble writing stories about an Asian adoptee kid named JW. So, I wrote a story about how JW solved a mystery in his neighborhood in NYC. They liked it and asked for more. The app would also feature a card game that the kids could play—sort of like those popular games where the player has monsters in their “arsenal,” and they have them battle. Anyway~

Soon we started meeting more and more about the story, and for the first time, I felt really invigorated about my writing. The character of JW was developing nicely, and we added in a sister for him—Jane. After writing a few stories about JW solving some kid-type mysteries, the question was posed, “Where is this exactly going?”

At a meeting at Ben’s place in Gangnam, the ProtoStar guys—(Ben, Lee, and Jeff) and I talked about it, and the notion of a novel was brought up. And while I had always wanted to write a novel, I wondered if I had it in me… so I was asked to come up with a backstory, and by our next meeting, I had the basic skeleton that would become the Agria series. JW and Jane then became much more than characters who solved mysteries. They became the heroes of a story that would link two worlds.

Linking worlds has always been the most fantastic feature of writing and reading. Sparking connection between something seemingly fictional and something true to a reader’s life has always been my goal—because life, as I see it, is universal. There are things that we all face—rejection, betrayal, feelings of not being good enough, love, happiness, hope.

When JW and Jane were solving mysteries, they were Asian adopted kids living in America. As I began writing about them, I didn’t want them to lose their identities, so I kept them as adoptees. While working at my English institute in Seoul, I have been blessed to meet so many of the Korean Adoptee community, and while JW and Jane are indeed adopted kids, that’s only a part of who they are. As a non-adoptee, I have always been very conscious of the idea that persons of color and adoptees should be the ones telling their story. And I still believe this to be true. However, I also know that the themes in the Agria series are much broader than any one particular genre or identity. Aside from that, two of the core members of ProtoStar are Korean Adoptees, and they were always helpful in guiding me through the process of writing about more of the details of life as an adoptee.

Welcome to the world, Jane and JW! Your destiny awaits!

Love and Light,

CM

Updates and the Like

Greetings dear Readers,

I’m often asked how long the writing process was in writing my first novel. Perhaps it’s easier to count the droplets of blood. Kidding…not really. But yes, kidding.

I started writing the first book of the Agria series close to seven years ago. And for the first five of those seven were spent writing, rewriting, deleting, editing, and probably crying. I’ve often said that editing was perhaps the hardest thing for me and while I was serious about becoming a better writer, it was often easy to become distracted. I’m so thankful for my editor, Mee Joo Rose, who stood by me and always saw my potential. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

Now that the first book is finally going to be published soon, I am in a state of gratitude. This is honestly something I knew would happen one day, but now that it’s almost here, I almost can’t believe it.

I want to thank everyone who has been on this journey with me. Thank you for keeping me focused, and for letting me unwind. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

Now for the particulars~ I haven’t been given a date as of yet, but I will keep you updated. ^^

I have just finished writing a final scene for the second installment of the Agria series, and when I finish polishing that up, it will be time to get back to the third book. I have it all mapped out; it just has to be written. ^^

In other news~

As for what I’m reading now, I’m still making progress on Invisible Man by Ellison, and I was gifted a copy of David Sedaris’ new book Calypso for my birthday from my dear friend Elizabeth. I still have a few other books in the queue, but I think I might bump up Sedaris’ book to the second position~ I love his writing, and he always makes me laugh.

I am a firm believer that if you can find a source of laughter, hold onto it. When I lived in the States, I would often look at greeting cards that made me laugh and keep them for the days when I needed to find a reason to smile. Korea is not really a country that does greeting cards in the humorous sort of fashion, so I miss that. I suppose that’s what we have memes for though, right? And I do have a few memes saved on my phone if I need a chuckle or two.

I hope you’re smiling wherever you are, and if you’re not, find a meme or a funny card in a store~find your joy.

L&L~

CM

A Revamping of Sorts

Hi, Readers~

So I have been working hard at revamping the site, and while it's not entirely done yet, I'm pretty happy the way things are going. 

Many of you know that I am also a teacher in Korea and I've recently been promoted to researching and developing curriculum for our higher level students--we're reading books like Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Bronte's Jane Eyre. Aside from developing curriculum and teaching, I have been editing two novels for my students that I've taught. 

Editing my own writing is incredibly daunting but equally necessary--but editing someone else's work has taken a lot of my time too. Happily, all that is finished and I can focus back on my own writing. If you have an editor, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate them. If you know an editor, buy him or her a coffee/tea. They often go unappreciated. 

As for my own writing, I've been putting the finishing touches on a final scene for my second book while still writing my third book. It's been a pretty painful process as things have been so busy, but things are moving along now. 

The final update I have for you is that for the past five weeks I have been volunteering for a group called Stella Foundation who are working to end the stigma of suicide and depression in Korea. This is an issue that is very close to my hear. The World Health Organization says that over 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression all over the world. So the chances of you knowing someone with depression, affected by depression, or you've been depressed yourself.  Mental health awareness is something that is very near and dear to my heart and one of the reasons that I feel I have been called to be a writer--to let people know that they are not alone. When you're alone, that's when the darkness creeps in--telling you-you're not good enough. And suddenly you're sitting alone in a movie theatre where there is a reel tape of every mistake you've ever made being played on repeat. So if you can be a light to someone, be a light. If you need a light, remember that it's okay to ask for one. And it's okay not to be okay.

 

As far as what I'm currently reading, I'm reading Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. I am not too far into it, but man is he ever a storyteller. I have wanted to read his work for a while, and when I was in the bookstore a few weeks ago, I decided to pick it up. 

That's all, for now, ~ I'll update you on the release date of my first novel as soon as I know! 

Love & Light,

CM

Week One Done!

Hello, Dear Readers~

In an effort to connect more with you all, I am making a valiant effort to post more on the journal and update you all on what I'm writing/thinking/feeling/living.

It's now Saturday afternoon in Seoul and I am happy that I'm meeting my writing goals. The hardest part of being a working writer is to schedule in time for doing what you love. Sometimes I will just sit there and stare at the screen with an eyebrow cocked while thinking, "What am I dooooooing?" But it's all apart of the process. The point is that you are making the effort to sit down. The intention is set and inspiration will come. 

One thing I enjoy doing is making a playlist before I start writing. It's always great to set the mood before you start working. Even as I write this, I have my headphones on with Agnes Obel's album "Aventine" playing. Two of my very good friends, Steve and Andy, have recently started sharing one new song (a weekish) that we've found to be pretty amazing and that we think the others may not have heard. Living in the land of K-Pop limits me a lot (and I do like K-Pop) but I simply don't have the access to music like I did when I was in college in Chicago. These days you have to work for things. In case you were wondering, my submission to Steve and Andy was a song called "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Patrick Watson. The piano parts  just swell and feel so, well, for a lack of a better term "cinematic" and creates just such a beautiful song. The video is actually pretty sad, so if you find it on YouTube, make sure some tissues are nearby.

I hope your first week of 2018 has been productive and that you keep making, as Neil Gaiman says, "Good Art."

Love and light,

CM.

The 2017 Wrap Up

As the world is putting the finishing touches on 2017, I am happy to end this year on a high note. There were many challenges that we all faced in 2017, but I'd like to believe that we faced such adversity with ferocity and have left the battlefield with our morals and hope still intact. 

On the novel front, I've received word that things are moving quite along and we are set for a Spring 2018 release! I am beyond excited for this, as it has been quite a while since I've finished the book~ but honestly, good things take time. I think that we have this idea that writers are supposed to turn out books quickly, but just as a gestation period of a human takes nine months, the creation of written work has its own gestation period as well. And it's not generally nine months. ^~^

I've been planning away at the third installment of the Agria series, and have even been writing some poetry that I'm pretty excited about. Being an ex-pat in Korea, it is important to find like-minded people so that you can create your family away from your family~ and while my writing people back in Chicago are doing well, I have been working with my Seoul writing family to bring about an anthology of poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction with Seoul as the central theme. Without trying to sound to egotistical~ we all have this romantic idea of being the new Lost Generation (think Stein, Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and T.S. Elliot). Honestly, we don't humor ourselves as being equal to their greatness, but everyone starts somewhere, right? The Lost Generation writers were these ex-pats living in Paris after WWI and they put forth some of the greatest literature. 

We are still in the submission stages of this project, so I'll keep you updated on that, as well as when it will be available for purchase. 

I still have yet to make my new year's resolutions, but I have certainly set my intentions for the year. I hope you give yourself the time to do the same.

Until we meet again in 2018.

 

Love and Light.

CM

 

Soon~

Hello my dear readers,

I hope you're all quite well. As many of you are well aware, I live in Seoul, Korea (in the Gangnam area to be exact--though less Oppa and more Style ^^) and while in the rest of the world tensions seem to be riding high, things here are business as usual. 

If we were to engage in a personal conversation, I would certainly tell you how I feel about all things political, but as I am writing on my author site, I would sooner discuss the politics of Agria, the fictional setting in my fantasy novel.

You see, Agria was always in balance until a self-proclaimed Dragon King (I affectionally(?) call him DK) created a new area, The Shadow Realm, in the center of the land, throwing the whole land in turmoil. While it seems that one mere being would be no match for the four leaders of the Agrian Realms--i.e. Forest, Air, Water, and Fire, he seems to be gaining traction in his war against Agrians. 

This is merely one of the subplots of the Legends of Agria book series. Want more? You can pick up the first installment of the series soon! 

Love & Light,

~CM

Traveling at the Speed of Life

Recently I received the phone call that every person who lives overseas dreads.

It starts with a friendly "Hello."

And the next sentence is one of those that needs to be repeated, not because you didn't hear it, but because you didn't believe it. "________________ is in an ambulance and heading to the hospital."

It matters not who is in that blank, but for me, it was my older (by 20 months) sister. And your world becomes darker and a little more medical--you're learning words that would definitely help you win at Scrabble. Everyone get's their online degree from Web MD and you struggle with the term "visiting hours."

Luckily, my story has a happy ending. One in which my sister lives and while we are still searching for answers as to why this happened, the new chapters of insurance coverage and fine print have begun. 

To be brief, my sister suffered from low potassium (she has for years) and it caused a condition called hypokalemia (25 points on it's own in Scrabble...imagine if you hit the triple word!). This condition caused her heart to stop. Couple this with the walking pneumonia she didn't know she had, and you have a perfect storm. 

Why am I telling you this? I don't really know. Perhaps it is because life is short and I realize that I spend too much of mine not doing what I really want. Seeing my sister in a hospital bed really shook me. My dream has always been to connect to people through my words, to help them feel like they are not alone. This is how books saved my life, and how I want to return the favor. 

So with renewed commitment, I am happy to tell you all that I am nearly finished with the second book of the Agria series and have already started on the third. You're going to find more answers in these later books and I cannot wait for you to read them.

With all the Love & light that I possess,

CM

 

Getting Closer!

Hello Dear Readers,

Things have been moving so quickly lately and I am so sorry I haven't updated you sooner. I've been busy working on the third installment of the Agria series. Yes~ you read that correctly! The third book! 

As it stands now, the first book will be released this summer! It has been such a long time coming and I am so excited to have you all read the first installment of this series. 

The Agria series started out as something completely different--as most things do. ^~^ What started out as an app to help young students learn English, turned into something much larger than I could have ever imagined. I am so incredibly grateful for ProtoStar Studios for everything they've given to me as a writer and as a human. I'm blessed to have such a great team. ^~^ 

I'll be doing a Q&A journal entry soon, so please look out for that. 

Until then, Dear Readers~

 

Love & Light to you all,

 

CM

Cold hands, Warmer Hearts

Life has been pretty busy in Seoul lately, and just like the snow that is currently falling, it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. It has given me cold hands, but an equally warm heart.

I've been plotting away at the new novel, and have been working with my team on the finalization of the first installment of the Legends of Agria series. It's been quite an experience for my first book but it has certainly solidified my goals in what I want to do with my writing. 

Aside from book plotting, and teaching, I have recently been asked to be the editor for a new magazine in Seoul called Nexcite-City Magazine. It's a brand new adventure as I have never had much to do with the publication sector of writing, save for writing a magazine article once. I have to say, it's a lot of hard work but very rewarding to be working with such amazing individuals.

As far as what I'm reading now, I'm getting back into reading Octavia Butler's Dawn (the first in the Xenogenesis series). I read her book, Kindred back in college and found her work to be amazing. Teaching younger students has given me the opportunity to read younger material, some of which inspired me to write for a young adult audience. But it's been a while since I've been able to read for pleasure and I'm soaking this in. I hope you're soaking in some good books too.  ^^

That's all for this month~ I'll check back in soon. 

 

Love and Light,

 

CM

 

Welcome to the New Journal!

Hello Dear Readers,

This is the first entry of what will be a lifetime commitment in connecting with you all. I hope you enjoy these little ramblings on life, writing, and the in-between. While this is not the first blog I've ever had (remember livejournal? Yeeeesh), I aim to regularly update you all on my progress of what I'm writing, how I'm doing, things I'm thinking, and how it all pieces together. 

So~ Welcome!

Do stay. 

 

Love and Light~

CM