April 8 – March 15

Yep – it’s been almost a year since I made a post. And a lot has happened in a year! Here are the highlights….

May-June 2019: London.

Ryan and I went on an amazing vacation to London to celebrate Lyn and Gaurav’s wedding. It was a fantastic trip. We did all the best touristy stuff (including tea at the palace, a visit to stonehenge, touring the Harry Potter studio, and seeing the Harry Potter play). Lyn and Gaurav’s big day was definitely the highlight, and I am so looking forward to seeing them again as well as doing more travel with Ryan.

June 2019: E3.

In June, I attended E3 for the first time with Facebook. Turns out the Exhibitor badge is the best VIP status – exhibitors got to (perhaps obviously) head into the conference space before anyone else. The whole experience was incredible.

September – October 2019: Safari.

But definite highlight of 2019 for me was our big family trip to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Ryan and I finally got to go on our dream honeymoon and Nancy, Kiki, and Alyssa joined us 🙂 We had an incredible experience (though most of the best pictures are not on my phone – used for pics below). We stayed at the Giraffe Manor just outside Nairobi, explored the Serengeti and Masai Mara, saw the great wildebeest migration, watched so many animals stalk and kill other animals (apparently it is pretty rare to see so many animal kills … and we saw a lot!), got charged by a mama elephant during breakfast, went cage-diving with Great White sharks, and enjoyed some of the best meals we’ve ever had (although you’d have to bug Ryan for those pictures :)). If you ever take a safari trip and want tips, hit me up. We had a fantastic time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

December 2019 – January 2020: Moving.

At the end of this past year, I made the incredibly difficult decision to leave Facebook and move back to Orlando to work for my mom. It was the right move for me professionally and personally (and finally the right time), but it was very very hard to leave my team at Facebook. I’ve never left a job I enjoyed so much (the work, the people, the space, my mentors/managers). But the prospect of potentially leading my family’s business one day and helping to support and better the lives of all my cousins and siblings and our future children was too enticing to pass up. I am excited to learn more about real estate development and investing and to continue to build a future for my extended family that is financially secure. I want to make sure the next generation has the same opportunities my generation did.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

January 2020: Sundance.

And finally, the last big trip we took in the past year was to Sundance (the Film Festival). While our travel group has been to Park City a few times now for skiing, we’d never gone for the film festival. And wow was the festival fun! We certainly weren’t pros whatsoever, but we saw some very interesting films, enjoyed some quiet skiing, and definitely plan to be back.

Looking ahead, 2020 is going to be a year of learning and growth for me. I have a lot to ramp up on in my new job but I’m very excited to dive in and start building a new expertise.

On the Writing front, the last year has been slow but steady progress:

  • I finished my second novel and it is thisclose to being query-ready. I am hoping to start querying it with agents in the next few months. I really like this book (name still TBD AH!). The story is an ~80,000 word near-future science fiction novel set on a live-in tech company campus. When workers start mysteriously dying, a software engineer, a dev ops, a security guard, a data scientist, and the compound CEO must band together to solve the mystery before the death toll climbs. Still working on the pitch 😉 But I’d say it’s Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty meets the TV show Westworld.
  • I’ve made a few more short story sales! Reckoning 4, Flame Tree’s A Dying Planet anthology, and Hybrid Fiction have bought stories since my Apex Magazine sale. Unfortunately Apex Magazine had to suddenly shut down only a few weeks after my sale and so the story I sold them won’t be published there. This was a huge bummer as Apex was one of my dream publications (and published the Hugo-award winning stories of the last two years!), but so it goes. All I can do is keep writing and submitting.
  • BUT the aforementioned sales listed above were enough to bump me from Associate Member status with SFWA to Active Member – this is the highest tier of membership in SFWA for a writer. I’ve wanted to be a SFWA Active Member for as long as I’ve known SFWA existed and achieving this milestone is a huge accomplishment for me 🙂

I also have one really really big writing-related announcement to share, but I have to keep it secret for now. I’ll make a standalone post about this once I’m able to reveal it. I am so excited to finally shout this announcement from the rooftops!

Story Recs

I’ve read A LOT in the last year. Here are the standout stories, I’d recommend:

+“Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” by Matt Dovey published in Diabolical Plots. This story is hilarious and really resonated with me given my own affliction of being one of those darned millennials who are ruining Everything.

+ “Dandelion” by Elly Bangs published in Clarkesworld. Bangs interweaves the lives of three generations of engineer/astronaut women in a truly haunting and touching story.

+ Jade War by Fonda Lee. Whoa! Can Lee land a sequel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a sequel I enjoyed more than the first book in a series. And multiple POVs is SO hard.

+ The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. This book is beautifully written. I want to be Harrow when I grow up (even though I think technically I’m older than her … oops). The prose in this book is just utter perfection.

+ White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo really opened my eyes to how harmful it is that we aren’t comfortable openly discussing race and racism. I’m always striving to do and be better.

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. This book was incredible and poses the question: does doing something evil in the service of something good, make you evil or good? I haven’t read a book that’s made me think this much in a long time. Maybe one of my all-time favorites now.

As always let me know if there are any books, video games, comics, etc. I should be adding to me to-do list. Excited to share my good news in my next post! Stay safe out there.

October 18 – April 7

Wow it’s been awhile since I blogged – it feels like both a lot and a little have happened since I last checked in.

On the job front, work has definitely ramped up. I got the option in October to switch my focus within the team and man did that change my world. The amount of impact I was able to have on the new team was leaps and bounds above what I was able to do on my first team, but with this change in scope came a pretty significant change in responsibility. Months later I am still trying to figure out how to deliver on the impact I know I can have while not sacrificing my entire life to do it. Honestly, I’m still struggling with this one – as my work performance has trended up, my writing and health have definitely trended down. I’ve spent the last few months brainstorming how to permanently fix this problem in a long-term way. I am pretty sure I’ve landed on the answer, but won’t share more until the moves have been made 🙂 Stay tuned.

Travel-wise, the last few months have been packed! I headed to Cartagena in Colombia for Briggs’ 30th bday, back to Orlando for Alyssmas, Park City with the gang for New Years, and a bunch of places in Asia for work-related travel (can you figure out where based on the pics?).

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ryan and I have also continued our adventures in cake-baking. The latest was a black forest cake for Stef’s bday (pro tip: whipped creme does NOT travel well – cake almost didn’t make the drive from San Mateo to SF)

07efff4be5aa49e2a6a7f10b12bff549

On the writing front, I actually have an exciting update. This past week, I sold a story to Apex Magazine ! Apex is a pro-market (meaning it is SFWA-recognized and pays at least $0.06 / word for accepted stories). Apex has also published several short stories that have won the Hugo Award in the last few years (including this past year). Making this sale is a pretty big deal for me for a couple reasons:

  1. I can now apply to be an Associate Member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). I’ve wanted to be a member of SFWA since I first started writing – the networking opportunities are enormous! If I sell 2 more stories to pro-markets, I can apply for Active Member status which would be even better, but Associate Members still get a lot of great perks. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty, check out this link.
  2. Once my Associate membership application goes through, I can say I am a member of SFWA on all future story submissions and novel queries – this plus noting my sale to Apex should help boost my work in slush piles. Readers will give my stories more consideration and a better chance to woo them. I’ll have a sense shortly of how much this does or does not matter.
  3. Apex is a really hard magazine to make a sale to. This is probably the first time ever I’ve felt like a real writer. 😀

I’ll share more about the story itself when it’s closer to its actual publication date (TBD) – and of course links to the magazine and links to the story once it’s made free online.

Story Recs

I’ve continued to read a lot, but honestly, not too many stories have been standouts for me lately 😦 Here are the few notables since my last post:

+ The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency, #2) by John Scalzi. Scalzi continues to impress with his new trilogy about a collapsing space empire. The second book stood up well against the first (even though my favorite character from book #1 was noticeably absent in this second go-around). Book #3 is supposed to come out in the next year (man Scalzi writes fast!)

+ Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. I picked up this book for a failed book club at work. It isn’t speculative at all and very much outside of my wheelhouse, but it was great. The stories about the different families struggling in a Mumbai slum were incredibly heart-wrenching and the twist at the end of the book bumped this one up to a 5/5 for me. Definitely recommend this one (and it’s a pretty fast read).

Again, no new video games that have really grabbed me. Though Ryan and I did buy a subscription to Nintendo Classic on his Switch and playing Super Mario Bros 3 has been nostalgically fun. Let me know if you are reading or playing anything good I should pick up 🙂

September 12 – October 17

The last month has been a blur as I’ve ramped up at Facebook. I’m really enjoying my team and what I’m working on, though I still think it will take some time for me to have the impact I want to have. Learning and growing is the name of the game 🙂

Outside of work, Ryan and I have been baking up a storm. We actually kind of need to stop as baking a three-tier cake and, between the two of us, finishing it in under a week cannot be healthy. C’est la vie.

Other than finding my footing at work, there haven’t been a ton of big life updates.

Writing Update

Okay, so actually I do have one semi-big update. I got my first story acceptance this month 🙂 My short story “The Shopkeeper’s Daughter” will be published in Stupefying Stories sometime over the next few months. Ironically, that is my only fantasy story (I mostly stick to scifi), but it is a story I really love. I’ll be sure to share the Amazon link to the issue with my story when it goes live. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going. On the novel front, things have been slower. Beta-reading and slush-reading for friends is taking up too much free time. I’ll need to drop the ball on something, but still haven’t decided what yet.

Story Recs

I’ve been reading (aka listening to Audible) quite a bit in the last month. There have been a few standout stories for me:

+ The Poppy War by RF Kuang. This is a fantasy novel the closely follows Japan’s invasion of China in WWII. The story is about a young woman who grows up in times of war. It is graphic, but so so good. This is the first in a trilogy, so don’t jump in if you don’t like cliffhangers.

+ Circe by Madeline Miller. This book follows the life of Circe, famous Greek goddess and witch. She is probably best remembered as the woman who turned Odysseus’s men into pigs in the Odyssey. But her story offers so much more than that. It is about a woman finding her place among the gods and among men.

+ Dandelion by Elly Bangs. This short story appearing in Clarkesworld Magazine spans three generations of women scientists who discover and study an alien probe crash-landed on Earth. This was a poignant, thoughtful read – and it’s a quick one if you have 15 minutes to spare.

No amazing video game recs for now. I’ve been playing a few PC games, but nothing to phone home about. I am always looking for both story and game recs, so feel free to send some my way 🙂

May 24 – September 11

I know I know. I wasn’t good about keeping up my blog this summer. Chalk it up to living in the moment because this summer was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C!

First I wrapped up my time at Kellogg. It was bittersweet (and I suck at goodbyes). Since I skipped graduation in order to kickoff the move process with Ryan (and clear the way for writing this summer), Kiki came to visit me before I left to celebrate. She dragged me to a T Swift concert – which was actually pretty good. And then we went to Alinea, one of the best restaurants in the US. We were blown away!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After I left Chicago, Ryan and I immediately started apartment hunting. Unfortunately, very early on, we got attached to the idea of a townhome (having a front door, big kitchen, etc.) – this blew up our budget a bit as well as limited our options. BUT we were lucky and found the perfect place in San Mateo pretty early in the summer. We’ll do a housewarming at some point, and I may share pics.

I’ve also been pushing pretty hard on the writing front. I worked on a near-future new adult novel for most of the summer (pitched as Friends meets Black Mirror in Silicon Valley). I got 30,000 words into it and realized it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. Too serious, too message-y, too disjointed … the writing isn’t bad, but I’ve decided to put it aside for now and work on a few shorts as well as a new, more entertaining and more fun novel (outlining in process). After spending a lot of time with writers this summer (including at some great conferences – Readercon, Worldcon), I’ve realized that being so focused on publishing / external validation is just a setup for disappointment. In general, I’m trying to take it easier and make sure writing remains a stress-reliever not -inducer for me.

Of course, the biggest summer highlight was my wedding to Ryan! The weekend was beautiful and perfect. I’ve never been so filled with love for so much time. It was the best experience of my life, and I’m still riding the high. I love Ryan, his family, my family, our friends, and I can’t wait to one day be in a position to spend more constant time with the people I care most about. I’ve posted most of the wedding photos on my facebook page, but here are a few of my favs:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next up is officially starting work at Facebook. I am excited/nervous and eager to learn what product I’ll be working on.

Writing Update

Official update: I’ve had two more final round bumps at Stupefying Stories and IGMS (the latter of which was eventually rejected – boo!). Three new short stories written (two on sub, one still in beta). Novel worked on (~30k words) and benched. New novel outline 90% done. I slush-read for Cosmic Roots (another slush round starts in 1.5 weeks). And I’ve beta’d a few shorts from friends.

Story Recs

I did a TON of reading this summer. I crushed the Hugo nom list and then some. The highlights from my summer reading are:

+ The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. This is non-fiction and a must read for every American. I knew that African-Americans didn’t have the same opportunities in this country as others since the end of slavery, but I had no idea it was this bad. Could not recommend this one more.

+ Down Among the Sticks and Stones by Seanan McGuire. This is a prequel to her Hugo-winning Every Heart a Doorway, and I enjoyed this one more. It tells the origin story of two of the original book’s most interesting characters, Jack and Jill. It is a novella (so quick read).

+ The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. This was my first Scalzi book, the first in a new trilogy. This one is just entertaining space opera fun. I want to write more in this vein.

On the video game front, I’d also recommend Last of Us if you haven’t played it. I picked up the remastered version and was blown away. Sequel should be out sometime in the next few years (also looks great).

April 3 – May 23

I am now in my final stretch at Kellogg. I’ve enjoyed school, but I am ready to be done (and to finally live with Ryan). The last two months haven’t been great for me from a writing perspective (stomach flu and a really bad sore throat back to back knocked me out quite hard). But going to the Nebulas this past weekend (yay Isle of Write!) and the change in weather has got me reinvigorated!

IMG_0844

One thing I’ve been meaning to add to my blog (but have been lazy) are 1) more specific updates on my writing progress and 2) book / story / game recommendations based on what I’m reading and playing. I’ll start doing both in this post!

Writing Update

In the last two months I’ve beta-read TWO novels for friends (Tamsin by Denise Beucler and The Lost Year of Dead Things by Jules Whitney) – I am excited for both of these to sell and be published! One of my stories has made it to the final round of consideration at Fireside and another story at Escape Pod (both Hugo nominated publications!). I’ve started two new shorts (I’ll probably only pursue one fully), and I plan to switch to my novel soonish (outline is complete).

Story Recs

I haven’t had a chance to read too much outside the novels above (beta-reading takes so much time!), but I did finish The Captive Prince trilogy at the behest of a few friends. The first book is … problematic, but a lot of the issues are well-addressed in books 2 and 3. I recommend the entire series. It is romantic, thrilling, suspenseful – an exciting second world military fantasy / romance. Not usually my thing, but good writing is good writing. Also, if you own a PS4, I would encourage you to pick up God of War (4). I was not a fan of the original trilogy, but this reboot is incredible – deep, complex character development focused on a father trying (and sometimes failing) to do right by his son. And Norse mythology – very cool.

March 7 – April 2

What a busy month! The highlights:

Joe Biden came to Kellogg! I enjoyed hearing him speak. His strongest part centered around what he believes have always been America’s key core strengths:

  1. A willingness to challenge tradition and status-quo
  2. An unyielding stream of immigrants (some of the best and brightest) from other countries

I agree with his stance and left the talk with a more positive impression of Joe (though I know he’s not perfect).

IMG_0583

My Business Innovation Lab team presented our findings to Hormel, our big client this quarter. The presentation went well and, while we were in Austin (Minnesota), we got to visit the SPAM museum. Turns out (surprise) I don’t like SPAM, but maybe I haven’t given it a fair shake?

IMG_0624

Finally, I flew back to Orlando with Ryan and his parents. His parents got to meet my family (O_O!). I think it went well. And of course we also did a bunch of wedding stuff including our food and cake tasting. Everything was delicious, and I am so excited for the wedding (food). I also locked in hair and makeup as well as music and invitations. But the real highlight, was hanging out with this special rascal:

IMG_0743

One more quarter of school and then I get my summer of writing 😉 (oh and moving and wedding and moving again)

PS – I also added a new page to my website where I plan to post writing resources I collect along my journey. Definitely check it out if you’re interested!

February 6 – March 6

Not that much has happened in the last month. I visited Ryan – we celebrated our 3-year (O_O) anniversary and massively destroyed Overcooked. Chiberia continued to be freezing cold. My MMM capstone project (chili!) has taken over my life (one more week and I’m free). I managed to get almost none of the classes I wanted for my last quarter at school. And, though I’ve been writing a ton, getting out high-quality finished shorts has been a little more slow-going than I would like.

IMG_0441

Currently, I’m waiting to hear back from Clarion and Clarion West. I should know in the next 2 weeks, and I am about dying from all the stress. I want to go to Clarion or CW so so badly, but both are very difficult to get into (I’m trying to be real about that). SO I’ve decided as a consolation prize, I’ll use what I would have spent on tuition to go on some big trip should I be rejected – more on that hopefully never haha.

I am also pretty excited for spring break. Ryan and I are heading to Orlando to do wedding stuff with my family and his parents (who are joining us). I am also hoping I’ll get a lot of uninterrupted writing and reading time! Lately, I’ve been sprinting through the Nebula nom list, and I am excited to keep on pushing 🙂