Browsing articles in "Latest News"

Thoughts Re: “The Power of Dark Stories, and Why We Are Not Always What We Write”

Jan 20, 2015   //   by Christina   //   Thoughts  //  No Comments

Sometimes people who know me are surprised by what I write. My writing can tend to the very melancholy. I like to write from both the viewpoints of male and female characters, many of them not the best paragons of virtue. I have characters who cuss with every breath. I’m still to shy to write truly shocking material, but I’ve written about serial killers and monsters and lots of death. I’ve written about middle-aged mothers, felons, robots, orphans, and emperors. I like exploring the idea of untraditional love and hate, and the fine line in-between.


Writer’s Toolbox: Editor’s Perspective from Glimmer Train

Jan 17, 2015   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Writers Toolbox  //  No Comments

Glimmer Train is a fantastic high-quality literary magazine that I dream of one day being published in. There are only two editors who do all the reading. They put together an “Editor’s Perspective” for those of us who write literary fiction and want to get better and better. I won’t post the text here, but you can check it out here (it’s in PDF form). Highly recommended. I’m going to print it out and read it over and over again.

Happy New Years & Write1Sub1 Results

Jan 13, 2015   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News  //  No Comments

Whew! 2014 was a super-fun but crazy ride, especially the last few weeks of it. Lots of family responsibilities, holiday celebrations, and general gearing up for 2015.

As promised, I wanted to share with you guys the results of my Write1Sub1 challenge, I started in February 2014. As a quick recap, here’s my original post detailing the rules for the challenge.

The numbers:

Written: 29 pieces

  • 14 short stories (1,000 words or more)
  • 4 flash stories (<1,000 words)
  • 4 creative non-fiction
  • 3 twitter fics
  • 3 poems
  • 1 other (column submission)

Submissions: 94

Publications: 5 (3 stories, 1 CNF, 1 poem)

Success: 5.32%


As you can see, I really tried to branch out of my comfort zone this year. I’d never really tried seriously writing creative non-fiction before, so I’m still finding my own particular style there. Also, learning to condense and create complete stories that are less than 1,000 words (and in the case of twitter fics, less than 140 characters) proved a HUGE challenge for me. I find my comfort level is between 1,000 and 3,000 words. Any less and I end up creating scenes masquerading as stories. Any more, and I start writing a lot of filler material or the story becomes unfocused and confusing. On the other hand, all my novels are gargantuan, and I’m having a hard time cutting a lot of excessive material. What can I say, I’m a girl of extremes. Also, I’ve really enjoyed writing poetry this year. I find it refreshes my mind, because editing poetry is hugely different from editing stories for me.

I didn’t quite make the “Write1” part of it. Part of it is that I refused to count pieces that are half-written. I have lots of half-formed ideas I hope will be fleshed out in 2015, and they’ll contribute to the count then. Also, I’m not surprised that there’s so many more submissions than written pieces. I can submit a piece multiple times, but I can only write it once. The thing about submitting more, though, is that one receives a proportionately-sized amount of rejections along with it. However, I’m quite proud of my success rate (Frankly, I thought it would’ve been lower). Plus, I had more pieces published this year than the two years before combined. I’m hoping this trend holds steady in the next few years. 

I decided that I’m going to try the challenge again. I’ll let you know the results next year!

Happy (belated) New Years! Hope 2015 is filled with fun, adventure, blessings, and lots of love!

On Fiction: by Neil Gaiman, for the introduction to Fahrenheit 451

Dec 13, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Quote  //  No Comments

“Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.”

I’ve had people tell me that they prefer non-fiction books, because fiction isn’t real. For me, the best fiction I’ve read tunnels deep into the truest truths that can’t be explained in any other way than through the imagination. There are so many times I want to explain something important to someone else, but couldn’t gather together the right words. Instead, I’d find pieces of fiction and think, “Here, instead of telling them what I need to, this will show them in a way that they will understand instinctively. That, my friends, is the importance of fiction: understanding.

“Wild Magic” in the UK

Dec 11, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Published  //  No Comments

I’ve been branching out a bit into creative non-fiction, and what better fodder for real-life stories than my own travels. While I slowly bring my travel blog, Travel Bug Group, up-to-date, I’ve written a short piece on a transcendent moment I experienced in Wales. You can check it out at the We Said Go Travel website. Plus, one of my pictures is paired with it. Let me know if you enjoy it, and what experiences you’ve had while traveling away from home.

Update on Nanowrimo

Dec 9, 2014   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News  //  No Comments

Since it’s almost 10 days into December, I thought I’d give you an update on how Nanowrimo went, as promised. October 31st always starts off so wonderful, full of promises and potential. Tomorrow would be the glorious beginning to the year I would finally reach that resplendent word-count goal. It’s how I always feel at the beginning of another Nanowrimo, and it shows in my post here. However, like all previous years, I’ve failed to reach the requisite 50,000 words. I sabotaged myself on the very first day, when I actually forgot it was November 1st. By the time I realized that Nanowrimo had started, I was already a day behind, playing catch-up. It spiraled downwards from there. I think I made it to the end of the second week, realized I was over 10,000 words behind schedule, and gave it up for a lost cause.

Congrats to those who actually reached their word-count! And for those of us who didn’t quite make it, you’re awesome for even trying. The hardest part is always the beginning, after all.

We’ll see if I make my sixth attempt next year or not.

Published: WomenArts Quarterly Journal

Nov 29, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Published  //  No Comments

When I have a story published somewhere, I like to look at who was published along with me. For one, I like reading other author bios (does this make me weird?). For another, I like to look up their other work for my spare reading moments. What I’ve noticed, sometimes, is that there is some disparity between the number of men being published versus women, especially minority women. So, that why I’m so excited for my story, “Fireworks”, to be published in a journal like WomenArts Quarterly Journal, which advocate the talents of women writers.

My story is actually inspired by an incident that had befallen my husband, which took away his sight (temporarily, thank God!) during the annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Our tradition is to go to a different city every year to see the fireworks, and this was the first year since we’d been married that we couldn’t do so. While I watched the shows on TV, this seed of an idea came to me.

If you’re interested in reading it, keep your eyes peeled for Volume 4, Issue 4 of WomenArts Quarterly Journal on the newsstands. I’m not sure if you can purchase a copy online yet. I’ll edit this post once I have more information.

[Update: You can find the magazine in these stores (or purchase it online) here.]

Yay for women writers!

The Everyday Practice of Writing

Nov 26, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Thoughts  //  No Comments

There are two main pieces of advice most writers give & get: read everyday & write everyday. Both these suggestions seem easy enough, until we actually have to sit down and accomplish the task. I often find myself distracted by all the regular errands of daily life (laundry, dishes, groceries, etc.) and come to the end of the day too tired to type out the requisite number of words (or even half that!). And when I resolve to set aside time to write in the mornings, I often find myself staring blankly at my computer screen and decide breakfast is a much better option. But I try again the next day. I think that’s the key: to try again. I will fail in this over and over again. But, I know that when I do write as often and as disciplined as I can, just like when I exercise regularly, I see real results.

Yesterday, I came across someone who really lives out this practice. Her name is Jacqueline Suskin, and I came across her on the USC campus sitting behind a light-blue typewriter. The “Poem Store”, her little table advertised. Free poems, provided you give her a subject to write on. Any subject you can think of. I gave her the word “lightness”, and this is what she came up with without a moment’s hesitation:


The easy upward feeling,
the lack of heavy weight,
the hefty load removed
and so levity is leading.
What precious moments
that allow us to slough off
the things we carry and so
freely move along with ease,
with lightness as a gift.

~jacqueline suskin
nov 2014 <signed>

What a memento, right? Not only do I love the words typed upon my little slip of paper, I’m amazed at her ability to whip out a beautiful poem as easy as breathing. And that, my friend, is what I believe comes from the practice of writing everyday. So, try it. Maybe you won’t be a whiz at poetry like Ms. Suskin, but I bet you’ll see a marked improvement and ease in your writing.

Oh, and Ms. Suskin seems to do this “Poem Store” on a regular basis and for events. Check her out here.

Writers Toolbox: 10 Tips for Submitting to Literary Journals

Oct 30, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Writers Toolbox  //  No Comments

Writing for literary magazines is a good way to hone your craft and, with luck and a lot of hard work, get those valuable publishing credits. With over 160 submissions and counting under my belt over the last 3 years, plus a few acceptances to boot, I’ve learned some things about submitting to literary magazines which I’d like to share with you today in the hopes that it helps you to pursue your writing dreams.

1. Read all instructions carefully.

This is the first piece of advice you’re going to get, and, arguably, the most important. The top literary magazines get thousands of submissions every month, while only being able to accept about 5 stories & maybe about the same number of poems on average. You do the math. So, if you don’t follow their instructions on how to format & send your submission, you’re making the editors’ job so much easier. They can just toss out your work in an effort to diminish their slush pile. Generally, there are five main things to watch out for in the instructions.

Formatting: This is the type & size of font the editors want, information they want on the first page,

Length: What is the minimum and maximum length of stories they’ll accept.

Method of submissions: I’ll talk more about this in my next point, but follow these to a T. Don’t email, if they want it mailed. Don’t mail, if they prefer electronic submissions. It seems kind of obvious, but better safe than sorry.

Blind submissions: If the instructions specify that they read “blind”, this means that all identifying information should be deleted off your submission. Double-check this thoroughly. I once forgot to take my name off my header. Thankfully, the editor kindly informed me and allowed me to resubmit. Other editors may not be so merciful.

Cover letter & biography: I’ll also cover this in more detail. I personally feel you should always thank the editors for taking the time to read your work. Beyond that, some want you to include a bio or specific information in your cover letter. Some will want your bio. Some don’t care unless you’re accepted.

Sometimes, the instructions will be very short or vague. When in doubt, I follow these default manuscript guidelines. They make my submission look professional. It’s always smart to make a good first impression.


Oct 28, 2014   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News, Personal  //  No Comments

It’s almost that time of the year. Nanowrimo (or National Novel Writing Month) is getting ready to kick off November 1.

What is it?

Nanowrimo is a time when people all across the country and all over the world gather together to try and churn out 50,000 words by 11:59pm on November 30 (about 1,666 words/day).


So what’s the point of Nanowrimo? Nanowrimo is meant for those who feel like they can’t write a book. The task can seem so daunting. So, it encourages those who participate to not only get into the habit of writing everyday, but also to see that writing a novel-length manuscript isn’t so crazy. Sure, as my husband pointed out, you can write complete gibberish to meet the word count. In the end, like anything we spend time on, we get out what we put in. Besides, during the course of the event, published authors send out emails of encouragement and advice, and people from all over offer their own support. If you sign up for a specific region, there are often writing events you can attend. Writing alone isn’t for everyone, and being surrounded by everyone participating in the same thing can be exhilarating.

So, why am I doing it? I write everyday already. I’ve already written novel-length manuscripts. And I’m pretty comfortable writing alone (again, I do it everyday). I’m using Nanowrimo as impetus for me to force through the novel I’m working on. It’ll be good motivation. I’ve already tried Nanowrimo multiple times over the years, but I’ve never completed the requisite 50,000 words (the week of Thanksgiving always derails me). But, I’m determined to try one more time. I’ll be using a new profile this year, one that’s more in-line with my brand. If you’re planning on signing up for Nanowrimo, come check out my profile, CTBIdeas, and be my writing buddy. It’ll be a fun way to encourage each other’s writing dreams. See you there!