Monday, July 3, 2017

Pitch Wars #PimpMyBio 2017 - Adult/Millenial Mystery

Hello Prospective Mentors and Mentees! This is my first time doing Pitch Wars and I'm almost finished with my first novel.

Go crazy?

It's a traditional mystery (amateur sleuth) set at a comic book convention titled Death Comes to ComiKon. The first few chapters have won the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship and also the William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers. I've been working on it for about two years now, and am finally ready to put my baby out there in the world.

I'm not great at blogging (hence my last post being 2+ months old), so there'll be a decided lack of snazzy gifs ( but waaay too many pics).


I was at an anime convention in 2008 or 9, and an actor from a popular 90s children's show drunkenly hit on one of my friends after we asked if he would take a picture with us. It was nowhere near as bad as it happens in my book, but it was rather uncomfortable for my friend. We all laughed it off, but about two years ago, that scene came back to me. The wheels began turning and I started asking myself questions.

That actor was someone we looked up to as children. He was a hero to many children of color. How would it feel to finally meet your childhood hero, only to find out he's a jerk? Why do women, particularly young women, feel the need to laugh off their harassment instead of saying something about it? And finally, what if your childhood hero was murdered at a comic book convention and you became the prime suspect?


After her childhood hero is accused of murdering a washed-up action star at Chicago’s largest comic book convention, Sunshine Salinas (geek girl extraordinaire) must race to find the true killer before her hero is thrown behind bars. If she’s not careful though, she might suffer the same fate, as Chicago PD is all too eager to cast her as the faithful sidekick.


  • I'm an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, so I know the importance of criticism and constructive feedback. This also means that my grammar, while not perfect, is the least of my worries.
  • I've pitched several agents, most of whom expressed an interest in my manuscript. This means I'm absolutely serious about putting in the time to make sure my work is polished enough for the query/submission stage in the next few months.
  • I'm very passionate about this story, which I believe is unique and will bring about much-needed diversity in the mystery genre. The majority of the cast belong to marginalized groups (often more than one), but the story isn't ABOUT their marginalization; it's just part of who they are.


  • Pacing. This is important in all stories, but absolutely crucial in mysteries. My story takes place at a 4-day convention, so a lot happens in a short time.
  • Tension/Conflict. I'm very passive aggressive, so this has been a problem for me. Feedback shows that I either pull away from these scenes too quickly instead of really diving in, or I avoid it completely.
  • Voice. My story is in 1st person, and many people say I've got a very strong voice. However, I worry that it's so strong, it carries over to the other characters and everyone all sounds the same.
  • Plot holes. Do my subplots, clues, and red herrings all come together?
  • Sensitivity reading. My story features LGBT+ and disabled characters, and the cast is majority PoC. Do they feel like real characters or do they read as flat/stereotypes/problematic?


  1. I'm fairly introverted. My husband went on a 3-day road trip with friends and I spent that time eating, reading, writing, playing video games, and watching the Great British Baking Show while talking to 0 people. It. Was. Bliss.
    I heart Tamal
  2. I'm a huge geek and have been going to anime/comic book/pop culture conventions since 2005. I'm not big into anime/manga anymore, but I still loooove the older stuff (CardCaptor Sakura and Fruits Basket ftw!)
    I'm not super into shipping, but these matter what incarnation they're in, these two always get me
  3. I taught English in South Korea for 3+ years and currently work in downtown Chicago at a private ESL institute
    Last Day of Class, Yesan Girls' High School 2014
  4. I'm married and (technically) have three dogs. The dog I brought back with me from Korea betrayed me and left me for my father.
    Gumiho (the betrayer), my dad the Dog Whisperer, Bayley Banks, and Max Power
  5. I have two tattoos, with plans for several more
    My First Tattoo = Matching tattoo with a good buddy from Korea

    NC = Non-Compliant symbol from the comic, Bitch Planet
    The quote is from the Kelly Sue DeConnick run of Captain Marvel 
  6. I believe there's a Simpsons quote for everything 
    Look, a GIF!
  7. I'm 30 years old but have the soul of a retiree; nothing makes me happier than a good cup of tea, a pastry, and a cozy mystery/good book
  8. I'm a sucker for female friendships and am SO SICK of the "women hate other women" trope
    These books give me all the feels
  9. My love of JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games), particularly the Persona series, makes me long to write a YA coming-of-age story with JRPG tropes. Someday...
    Absolute favorite game series
  10. Wonder Woman is everything (Best part? All these pictures were taken at work at one point or another)
    No seriously
    I'm not playing



  1. Writers - Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, Jane Austen, Gail Simone (comic book writer)
    My brothers really know me. Best Christmas present
  2. Books - Neverwhere, Pride & Prejudice, The Joy Luck Club, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, His Dark Materials trilogy, Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, When the Elephants Dance, White Oleander, Little Women, Jane Eyre
    Ravenclaw represent!
  3. Comic Books/Graphic Novels/Manga - Wonder Woman (Gail Simone, George Perez, and Greg Rucka runs), Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Lumberjanes, Bitch Planet, Monstress, Sandman, Fruits Basket, Honey & Clover, Mockingbird, DC Bombshells 
    A Justice League of Their Own? Crying
  4. Music - 90s R&B/Hip Hop/Pop, K-Pop (2004 - 2015, mostly), and Korean hip hop/R&B 
    I miss them so much sometimes
  5. Video Games - Persona 4 Golden (my favorite), Persona series, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney series, Professor Layton, Mass Effect, Dragon Age 
    I wanna solve a small-town murder mystery with this crew SO BAD
So there you go. Way more info than you'd ever care to know about me. I hope you choose me as your mentee! And if not, I hope to make lots and lots of new writing friends ^^

Monday, May 1, 2017

Malice Domestic 2017 AKA The Nicest Group of People in the World

I'm lying in bed, utterly exhausted, attempting to write about what an amazing weekend I had, while my dog Max does his best to thwart my efforts by demanding belly rubs.

Where do I even begin? I attended Malice Domestic for the very first time, which is a convention held in Bethesda, Maryland dedicated to celebrating traditional mysteries (probably my favorite genre). If you're wondering what constitutes a "traditional" mystery, it's loosely defined as a mystery with no explicit sex, excessive violence, or gore. The amateur sleuth reigns supreme in most traditional mysteries, and I just love reading about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and seeing how they measure up (or don't).

I was lucky enough to be named the 2017 winner of the William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, which in addition to a $2,500 grant also includes free registration to the convention and the awards banquet, as well as a 2-night hotel stay. You best believe I jumped on that opportunity, and dragged along my poor husband who spent almost the entire weekend squirreled away in our hotel room writing or playing video games (we packed the PS4. Because of course we did). He did come out to breathe during meal times and was there to document the Agatha Awards Banquet, where I gave a short acceptance speech.

I'm in great company

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The most important thing about this convention (other than the books, obviously) is the people. I already knew that mystery writers were among the coolest and nicest people in the world, but Malice is like the purest distillation of these wonderfully kind and supportive people. The entire weekend, whenever someone saw (incredibly awkward and rather introverted) me standing alone, they would come up and talk to me. Ask me how I'm doing, where I'm from, what I'm writing, etc. And you could tell they genuinely cared about those things, they weren't just making small talk to pass the time.

After I gave my speech at the banquet and people realized I was the grant winner, the outpour of support was almost overwhelming. I spent the rest of the weekend grinning like a fool while thanking the many, many people who congratulated me. I know that I'm super awkward at accepting compliments, but I genuinely appreciated each and every person who reached out to me. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and to receive validation from people whose opinion I truly respect is just...I have no words.

James and I arrived in Bethesda Friday morning, after being cooped up on a plane with an 8th grade class on a trip to Washington D.C. who had WAY too much energy for that early in the morning. The plane ride was blessedly short (about 2 hours), but did nothing to change the fact that the kid across the aisle from us got sick all over himself on the flight and the kids directly behind him were wearing "Make America Great Again" caps. Not sure which disgusted me more.

I missed most of the panels on Friday, but was lucky enough to make it to the New Kids on the Block: The Agatha Nominees for Best First Novel. I was excited about this panel because it was moderated by Harriette Sackler, the Malice Grant committee head (and overall amazing person), and included Marla Cooper (the first person I talked to at BoucherCon) and two previous grant winners. I wasn't familiar with Nadine Nettmann's work, but it sounded great (wine makes everything better). The panel was full of laughs and gave me something to dream about for the future (I can hope, right?)

Harriette Sacker (m), Nadine Nettman, Marla Cooper, Cynthia Kuhn, and Rosemary & Vince Keenan (as Renee Patrick)
Unfortunately, I had to skip the next panel about the historical mystery nominees because I needed to check into my hotel room (poor James had to hang out in the lobby alone since our room wasn't ready), and we both passed out until dinner time. I managed to rouse myself in time for the Malice Domestic Anthology signing, but then knocked out again almost immediately afterward.

I woke up stupid early (adrenaline kept making me wake up before my alarm went off) and got dolled up for the Sisters in Crime breakfast. In true Guppy fashion, I wore a purple feather boa which looked great, but shed feathers all over the place (including my plate of food).

Guppies (members of the Great Unpublished from Sisters in Crime) traditionally wear boas to the breakfast
I was lucky enough to be paired with Edith Maxwell as my Malice mentor, and we sat together at breakfast. Also at the table was Eileen Rendahl, who I met at BoucherCon, and I was so happy she remembered who I was! After we finished eating, all the Guppies got together to take a group picture, and I ended up next to Cynthia Kuhn, past Malice grant winner and Agatha nominee. When she found out I was the current grant winner, she got so excited, she literally started tearing up. She was just the sweetest, most enthusiastic and demonstrative person I met that weekend, and I couldn't be happier that she won the Agatha for Best First Novel.

Grant winner buddies!
After the breakfast, I attended a couple of panels, bought a TON of books and got them signed, and hung out with James for a bit. 

Just Die Laughing: Humor in Mysteries
Karen Cantwell (m), Donna Andrews, Jessie Chandler, Nancy J. Cohen, Nancy G. West

Thrilling Suspense
Doris Ann Norris (m), Lee Hurwitz, Lori Rader-Day, Eileen Rendahl/Kristi Abbot, Sarah Shaber, Judy Penz Sheluk

I also met up with Harriette and Janet Reid AKA the Query Shark so we could chat about what my next steps should be now that I won the grant. Janet was awesome; completely honest and straightforward, no BS, and happy to answer any questions I had about how to find/query/vet agents. As she left, she gave me her card, and I kind of held it gently in my palm for a moment and stared at it. I swear it was glowing. Then I put it in my card case and met up the MWA Midwest members for our happy half-hour. I enjoyed a tasty cocktail and shmoozed a bit, then went back up to my room to get ready for the Agatha Awards Banquet.

The food was good and the dessert adorable, but I was way too nervous about my speech to eat much (I KNOW. That's how you know it was serious). Harriette had to put her hand on my leg and tell me to relax because I was so jittery.

Some sorta yummy chocolate mouse cake

I had typed up my speech on my phone literally an hour before the banquet, so I kept checking my phone over and over, praying technology wouldn't fail me. When it was my time to go up, all I could think about was, "Why did I wear heels? What if I trip and fall in front of this entire ballroom? What if my phone magically deleted my speech in the last 15 seconds?" But I pulled it off! Adulting ftw!

After all the awards were presented (you can see the list of winners here), it was all a blur of people congratulating me and me congratulating other people and taking pictures and being handed business cards by people saying they loved my premise. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Kellye Garrett of Hollywood Homocide (out 8/8/17)
Doing our best to represent for diversity in the mystery genre. Definitely check her out!

Rosemary & Vince Keenan (AKA Renee Patrick)
Previous grant winners and authors of Design for Dying

Me & my husband James
The best, most supportive person ever (he'd want me to add "funniest" too, but...)

Gigi Pandian
Previous grant winner and author of the Jaya Jones series and Accidental Alchemist series

Catriona McPherson
Agatha Award Winner for Best Historical for her novel, The Reek of Red Herrings

Lori Rader-Day
My former writing teacher (yes, she's the one who got me writing mysteries)
Author of The Black Hour, Little Pretty Things, and The Day I Died (get them all. You won't regret it)
Me and my Precious...

The Malice Domestic Grant Committee
My eternal thanks. You have no idea what this means to me

After the craziness of Saturday, I still managed to get up early to attend the New Authors Breakfast. I sat at Alexia Gordon's table, whose book Murder in G Major was on the shortlist for Best First Novel. It was really cool getting to chat with everyone and listen to all the new authors have their time in the spotlight. I added quite a few authors/books to my TBR list.

Alexia Gordon
Author of Murder in G Major

Radha Vatsal
Author of The Front Page Affair

Hank Philippi Ryan
Would've worn makeup if I knew I'd be taking a picture with Hank. Perfection as always.

Keenan Powell
Previous grant winner and author of the Maeve Malloy mystery series
After the breakfast, I attended two panels, ate way too much at lunch, then fancied myself up for the Agatha Tea & Closing Ceremonies.
Ghostly Murder
T.J. O'Connor (m), Alice Loweecey, Micki Browning, Casey Daniels, Alexia Gordon

Extra! Extra! Newshounds and Murder
Patricia McGlinn (m), LynDee Walker, Lynn Chandler Willis, Radha Vatsal, Christina Kovac 

Church lady hat! It's tea time!

Agatha Tea Party

Murder on the Orient Express movie coming out later this year
And so ends my enchanted weekend. 

Although maybe not so enchanted, because we somehow ended up on the same plane as the class trip from Friday. THE SAME KIDS. And one of the kids upgraded from a Trump cap to an American-flag-decorated bucket hat emblazoned with "Make America Great Again."

...yeah, I know.

In other news, I made sure to deposit my grant check during my lunch break today since I'm super paranoid. Which is good since I technically already spent the grant money. Next weekend, I'll be in San Antonio for the Writers Workshop Retreat from May 6 - 13th. A little nervous, but super excited to have such a long, intense period of time to dedicate to my writing. Maybe I'll make it after all...

How about you, dear readers (who I'm assuming exist)? What was your first Malice like? Have you ever gone on a writers retreat? What was it like? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

C2E2 2017: A Weekend of Geekery and Research

I'm busy getting ready for Malice Domestic this weekend (so excited!), which reminded me that I hadn't written about my experience last weekend at C2E2.

Chillin with bae

C2E2 (Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo) is where I'm loosely basing the setting of my novel, so even though I've been going there for years as a fan, this was my first time going with a very specific POV and purpose. This was also the first year I attended panels and other events, and it was so hard choosing which ones to go to since there were so many interesting ones! The amount of panels based on diversity, race, gender, social justice, etc in the geek sphere made me so happy.

One of my favorite panels was the last one on Friday night, More Than a Sidekick: Expanding Visibility for Asian American Characters and Creators in Comics. It was AWESOME. Honestly, it was the first time I've heard people talking about the issue of diversity in a way that I completely identified with. One of the things that I loved was that it was a mix of East, SE, and South Asian speakers. Too often, AAPIs are left out of the conversation, but this panel was organized by a fellow Filipina, so it spoke directly to me. Ngl, I might have gotten a little teary-eyed during the talk.

Draven Katayama, Gene Ha, Mark Martell, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Michi Trota, Natalia Roxas

My childhood heroes (yes, the Psylocke thing is problematic)

So Friday, I pretty much hit the ground running and continued on to Saturday. I went to the Image Comics Presents: Storytelling Essentials panel with my husband (a screenwriter) and my friend Jumi (an artist and animator). This was a really fun panel that got me thinking about the way I approach stories and all these different elements I'd love to integrate. In fact, the whole weekend had a rejuvenating effect on us and made us so excited to start creating again. I want to do ALL THE PROJECTS. But maybe I should actually finish one first. Maybe.

Skottie Young, Jordie Bellaire, Declan Shalvey, Jamie McKelvie, Greg Rucka
I spent a ton of time wandering Artist Alley, spending way more money than I should've, but you've gotta support the creators you like, right? Damn right. Which means getting several trades signed by Greg Rucka:

Greg Rucka after signing my Batwoman and Wonder Woman trades
(with WW artist Liam Sharp photobombing in the background)
And also buying the first volume of Mae by Gene Ha, who is just awesome. Look at the sketch he drew for me! I originally asked for Wonder Woman (obvi), but realized there's a real lack of Kamala Khan merch. She definitely deserves more love.

Kamala Khan! And Gene Ha's newest comic, Mae

Of course, I also had to support my fellow mystery writers and attend their panel, Grisly Chicago. One thing I learned: It's possible to get shot in the heart and live, but your heart had better be contracting at that exact moment. There's a whole long story that goes with that, but that was my takeaway. Truth is usually stranger than fiction.

Erica O'Roarke, Alex Gordon, Nicole Joseph, Lori Rader-Day, Susana Calkins

For research purposes (seriously!), I attended two geek speed dating events that day; one in the afternoon and again later that night with my husband (though obviously we didn't let it be known that we were together). My WIP features a geek speed dating scene and I wanted to see what it was like since I've never done it before, geek or otherwise.

I suck at small talk, but because we were all at a convention together, it was easy to find talking points. Everyone there was a fan of SOMETHING. Considering the fact that I was wearing a Mass Effect cardigan, carrying around a Wonder Woman print I bought at Artist Alley, and have a fairly prominent Bitch Planet/Captain Marvel tattoo, there was always something to talk about.

No real connections (which is good for my marriage, I suppose), but the general experience will definitely help me a lot when I go back to edit that scene. Lots of little touches and references to make it a bit more real. And it was definitely good practice at general socializing, which I suck at. So yay.

The last day, I briefly popped into the Power Rangers panel with Walter Jones and David Yost, since that show heavily influenced my story, but left fairly early when I found it was just audience Q&A. I'm sorry, but Q&A is always my least favorite part of panels and live podcasts. 

"Talk to the audience?"

So yeah, more wandering around with friends, more damage to my credit card on the Exhibition Floor, and then I ended the weekend with Pitches and Portfolios: How to Get the Attention of Editors and Get into Anthologies. This was great because although I have a good idea of what's necessary in the novel-writing world when it comes to publishing, I have no idea how to break into comics, particularly as a writer. The majority of the panel were editors for the Ladies' Night Anthology, which I would love to be a part of, but pitches are due soon and I already know I'm too busy. Never commit to anything that you know you don't have time for. 

As one panelist put it, in this industry, you could be nice, fast, and/or talented, and the one part of that equation that's optional is "Talented." So again, yay for me?

Megan Byrd, Zach Lehner, Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, Summer Sparacin
And that pretty much wraps up my weekend. I usually buy lots of prints and things like that, but I only bought one print, an illustration of Wonder Woman done by Jen Bartel, which I not only forgot to take a pic of, I also spilled water on, sooo...Enjoy these pics instead?

Giant stack of trades I bought. Coke can for reference

How adorable is this?! Help me name him: Bearon von ________?

I'm not the best at updating, but I'll definitely be posting about my experience at Malice Domestic this weekend. CANNOT WAIT.

P.S. Remember my last post about Camp Nanowrimo? Yeah, totally not meeting that goal. Yet again, I chose an insanely busy month to try and hit that kind of word count. But I'm 30k+, which is more than I've ever written before, so go me! I'll get there. Eventually...

P.P.S. Names I included in the captions are taken from the C2E2 schedule app, so if I forgot anyone, spelled it wrong, or mislabeled someone, I'm sorry.

Pitch Wars #PimpMyBio 2017 - Adult/Millenial Mystery

Hello Prospective Mentors and Mentees! This is my first time doing Pitch Wars and I'm almost finished with my first novel. Go crazy?...