Cover Reveal Time!

Yay! My favorite part of writing a book (other than hitting the “publish” button) is working on the cover. I have a wonderful cover designer, Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Designs, who works hard to accommodate my requests to change colors, add articles of clothing and change fonts—and does all of that with great patience and care, too.  She comes through every time and I highly recommend her for all of your book cover design (and interior formatting) needs!

I’ve been working overtime on book 3 in my Taking Chances series to get it “just right”. With the support of some dear fellow reader and writer friends, I’ve finally finished the manuscript and am in the process of editing (joy! haha). The main reason why this novella took so long to write was because the main characters are polar opposites in their personalities. This means they rarely see eye to eye and they butt heads—a lot! I had to learn to be okay with conflicts and find believable and entertaining ways to create and resolve them for the characters. For an anti-conflict, non-confrontational introvert, this was not easy. 😉 But I was determined to do it because I love the characters too much to not give them a happily ever after. I think you’ll adore them, too!

Without further ado, here’s the cover for Drawn To You!

Drawn to You_small

Wanted: A man who can handle his alter ego. Quick reflexes recommended.

Feisty and adventurous, art teacher Sam Koo is used to getting what she wants, including talking her way out of traffic tickets. When it comes to money matters though, she’s a lost cause. Her studio is in trouble, and there’s no way of charming herself out of this mess.

Police officer Lucas Choi is the last person she expects to rescue her. Handsome and rule-abiding, he was the best—and worst—part of her high school experience. When they meet a decade later, he’s still on her case and quick to point out her flaws.

Their differences drive each other crazy, but also draw them closer. The attraction is tangible, yet so are Sam’s fears. Will she choose to protect her heart or trust the only man who ever rejected her?

I hope to release Drawn To You next month, so stay tuned! 🙂

In the meantime, take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Better Place”. I like to think of it as Lucas’s theme song after Sam shows up in his life.

Who has made your life a better place?

More Beautiful for Having Been Broken

Hubby has over a dozen scars and a story to go with each one. Recently at dinner, C pointed to a puckered line on his wrist and asked, “How did you get this?” The answer for that was ice skating. The scar on the other wrist? Roller blading. Then there’s the quarter-sized indentation on his knee left by a sharp metal pipe he ran into as a kid. And the perpendicular line across his eyebrow from when his sisters played catch with him (and he was the ball).

I, on the other hand, can count all the scars I have on half a hand, and would be more than happy to forget the reasons why I got them. Falling down a hillside while hiking just doesn’t sound cool or adventurous. Neither does getting burned from falling into a large pot of hot curry chicken (though it does explain why I didn’t like the taste of curry for the longest time).

Even with my tendency to fall, you can probably guess who is the more careful person between hubby and me.

But regardless of how careful we are, it’s likely that we all have gotten scarred in our lives. Sometimes these scars leave visible marks on our bodies, other times they are invisible marks on our hearts.

The truth is that life is hard and we all get hurt sometimes. In the crazy, imperfect world we live in, brokenness is inevitable. The challenge is to know what to do with your broken pieces.

I was really moved when I saw this picture on Facebook this week:

Kintsukuroi-Collage

 

Did you know the Japanese have an art of repairing pottery with gold or silver? The reason they do this stems from the belief that the bowl or plate is more beautiful for having been broken. Instead of throwing out the cracked pottery, they find worth in it. They even add precious elements to it to create something new. What was once considered useless and of little value now has purpose and a cool story to tell.

What if we could take our broken pieces and see them as worth saving? What if we viewed our scars as evidences of courage, strength and resilience? I think we would be able to see the beauty in ourselves (and other people) so much clearer.

The interesting thing about scars is that they are a natural part of the healing process. It’s the body’s way of taking what was injured and making it whole again. I believe the same can be done with our hearts. With the love of Jesus and the people in our lives, we can find healing for our hearts, too.

Take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Stand By You”.

What scars do you have? What stories do your scars tell?

The Power of the (Toilet) Plunger and the Pen

Have you ever witnessed a backed-up toilet explode? Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight (or smell!).

During my last two years of college, I had the pleasure of living with three girlfriends. We shared a lot of things in that two bedroom apartment – meals, laughter, tears and, of course, a bathroom. And it was in that tiny bathroom that I got the shock of my life one spring afternoon when I pushed down the lever to flush.

Sputter. Gurgle. WHOOSH.

Before I could blink, the water in the bowl had risen to the rim and began rushing over the edge like a mini Niagara Falls. I jumped back as far as I could as the contents of the toilet seeped onto the linoleum and threatened to touch my bare feet. Half holding my breath and half praying, I considered my options: A) Run and hide! or B) Unclog the toilet. No matter how much I wanted to go with the first option, I knew I’d have to deal with the mess sooner or later. The only problem was that none of us girls had thought to buy a toilet plunger.

Oops.

Thankfully, the landlord lived upstairs, and after explaining the situation to him, he ventured into the toxic waste zone known as our bathroom and restored the porcelain throne to working condition. After thanking him profusely, I cleaned up the floor, disinfected my hands and said a prayer of thanks for whoever invented the plunger. (The fact that I used three forms of the word thanks in two sentences should tell you how thankful I was!)

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Who knew a simple rubber device like a plunger could be so powerful? 🙂

I think the same can be said of the pen.

You’ve probably heard the quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Have you ever thought about why that’s true?

As someone who writes every day, I can testify to how amazing words are. They have the influence to make or break a person, the force to change a situation and the power to evoke laughter or tears. Most importantly, I believe words have the power to heal.

How do words heal? By taking the unspoken and unsettled things in our hearts and bringing them to the forefront. By pinpointing the reasons behind our emotions – our joy and sadness and fear – and making us reflect on them. Taking the time to put our thoughts and feelings into words forces us to stop … to feel … and to be.

We spend so much of our days doing and fighting and stuffing and, basically, hiding away the experiences we go through. This is especially true of the negative situations we face. It’s so much safer to push the bad memories and emotions down and not deal with them. But the truth is that sooner or later, all the gunk and refuse and waste we hide away gets backed-up in the recesses of our hearts. And it cuts off the life that should be flowing through it. And as we learned from my bathroom story, a clogged toilet – or heart – is not a pretty sight.

I recently read some old essays that I wrote a few years ago. These pieces were penned when I first began my writing journey and was still processing through a lot of “life stuff” from the past. As expected, the words I jotted down were a little on the emo side and even a little dark. Reading those essays probably should have brought me down, but they didn’t. I felt nothing but relief and freedom.

It was through the power of the pen (or in my case, the computer keyboard) that I was able to dig through the stuff that I had hidden away. When I formed those experiences and emotions into words, I began the process of unclogging my heart.

Writing is seriously one of the best (and cheapest) forms of therapy. You can do it anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a pen and a piece of paper. So, take some time to listen to your heart and write down what it’s telling you.

Also, take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Fight Song”. I hope it will inspire you to fight for your freedom from the stuff that’s clogging up your heart.

What experiences or emotions are clogging your heart? Write about them today.

The In’s and Un’s of Parenting

There’s one question that my kids have been asking me rather often lately: “Are you not happy?”  Hm…why, do I not look like I’m having the time of my life?  Do I look as pooped and cranky as I feel?  Do I feel overworked and under-appreciated?  Well, I guess the answer according to the look on my face is: “Yes!”

I was just thinking today that if there’s one thing being a mom has taught me, it’s to “bounce back” from the in’s and un’s of parenting.  The in’s and un’s, in case you aren’t familiar with them, are events that are infuriating, interruptive, untimely and unpleasant.  And boy, these kind of situations happen all the time when you have kids because their goal in life seems to be to shake things up!

Image courtesy of Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net

Whether it’s a VERY LOUD tantrum that occurs in public or a change in schedule due to a shorter or longer than predicted (or non-existent) nap or an unexpected bowel movement during bath time (thank God that only happened once!), I have learned there is very little that I can control as a parent.  And the little that I think I do have control over changes from day to day.

So, you can understand why I might not look (or feel) super cheery all the time.  The only moms I see who resemble this are the ones in parenting magazines who are captured on film for a very brief moment, often when their baby is sleeping.  Being a mom is hard work and emotionally taxing, especially when you are a recovering perfectionist and control freak!

To be honest, I was a bit convicted about my negative attitude when my kids brought it up.  I mean, I always tell them to change their attitude when they’re whiny and uncooperative (basically when things don’t go their way).  But how can I expect them to bounce back from Grumpyland when I don’t model it for them?  Sigh!  These are times when I wish parenting was all about “do what I say, not what I do”, but unfortunately, that’s so not the case.

So, one of the most important lessons I’m learning and hoping to teach my kids is to accept the in’s and un’s of life and to move on from them.  This means having an attitude adjustment (ie. no yelling or getting frustrated and impatient) when things don’t go my way (ie. the kids wake up when I’m in the middle of a good book or whine about eating their veggies or forget how to share).  This will definitely take a lot of time to get down, but I have plenty of opportunities to practice!

The serenity prayer is something I refer to often when I start feeling down about the in’s and un’s of life:
Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Fortunately, our attitude is the one thing we do have control over.  I know that when I change mine, I am a lot happier and life seems more manageable and enjoyable.  Hopefully, I’ll continue to make progress in this area so that one day my kids won’t have to question how happy/unhappy I am.

Rachel Platten’s, “Overwhelmed” is a good song to listen to when you’re feeling just that, overwhelmed, and need to bounce back.

What helps you bounce back from the in’s and un’s of life?

Getting Out of My Own Way

I have always enjoyed writing, whether it be poetry, song lyrics or this blog(!) and have been happy and encouraged to receive positive feedback from people who have read my work.  However one of my dreams has been to have something of mine get published, so that I can have proof that my work meets professional standards (cause publishers have to be more objective than your family and friends!).  Recently I entered a children’s ebook writing contest and was disappointed to find out that I hadn’t made it to the final round of voting.  So it was a total and complete surprise to me when I got an email last week from the publisher telling me that they still want to publish my book!!  I was THRILLED and when I say thrilled, I mean I was doing a “happy dance” for two minutes straight and getting funny looks from E who has rarely seen me, his 2 square 2 be hip mom “cut loose” before!  🙂

My book!!  Buy it at meegenius.com!

It’s just so exciting and amazing for me to fulfill a goal that I never thought would be possible to reach.  I would say I’m usually a glass half-full or very full kind of person when it comes to other people’s lives, but when it comes to my own, my glass tends to run low.  This doesn’t mean I don’t try my best; when you are a recovering perfectionist, you of course put out your best effort.  But my pessimistic side is always at work; even now I half expect to receive an email from the publisher saying they have changed their minds! 😛  This is all because of my greatest fear – rejection!  And rejection means failure and failure only leaves you feeling like a deflated balloon and who wants to feel like that?

I know I got it kind of easy this time around, I mean you don’t usually reach a big goal on your first try.  I’m contemplating writing and submitting more work now (don’t worry, I’m not quitting my day job yet, haha), but I’m trying to get in the right mindset for it, knowing that I will very likely face rejection.  But like they (whoever they are!) said, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So I’ll just take it step by step, with courage and hope and remind myself that if all else fails, I’ll at least have one book published in my name.  🙂

I just love this song, “Nothing Ever Happens” by Rachel Platten and the words of the chorus (it describes me perfectly).  I think it’s time for me to “get out of my own way”.

In what ways do you need to get out of your own way?