First Draftiness!


It’s official: 

I am done with the first draft of my new novel! Actually, I wrapped it up a few days ago, but I’m a little slow on the announcement…

Still, the book is uploaded to an electronic device, eagerly waiting for my husband to read and comment on it. After he finishes, I will make a bunch of changes. At some point, several beta readers will sink their teeth into the second or third draft. And then, more revisions based on their feedback…and then some more revisions. And even more…

Ugh. I already feel an ulcer coming on. Maybe I should just scrap this novel before it kills me?

OR – maybe I should celebrate the fact that I just wrote a book!? (As I’ve mentioned before, celebrating my progress is something I need to work on)

How about some stats?

-Title: White Scorpion
-Genre: Young Adult Futuristic Fantasy (that’s the genre I came up with, anyway – if anybody thinks of a more fitting one, let me know!)
-Word Count: 93,500, which translates to about 350 (double spaced) pages (a bit on the long side for a YA novel).
-Written over a period of two months – 41 days of actual writing. Much of the writing occurred between 5 and 8:30am.
-Still needs quite a bit of work! =(

Now to the best part: the pitch! Actually, the pitch probably needs work, too. And honestly, I really hope the best part isn’t the pitch, but the actual book! But most of you won’t get to read the book for quite some time, so…this is really all I have for you. Sorry. Still, I hope it makes you excited to read the novel at some point!


Mount Vesuvius has already buried Pompeii twice: once in 79AD, the other in 2179AD. Now – hundreds of years after the last major eruption – the volcano is brewing again, and Pompeii’s future depends on one young woman’s ability to keep her sister alive.

Seventeen-year-old Alia’s knack for cost-benefit analysis is the only thing that’s kept her twin sister Ima alive for this long. Ima’s hypersensitivity to human touch and her own emotions may kill her at any time, and managing Ima’s condition is imperative: as the Promised One, Ima can save Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius only after she turns eighteen. And Alia will do whatever’s necessary to get Ima to their shared birthday – even if it means living with the guilt of drugging Ima and locking her away from the world.

Just as Alia finds a solution to her problems in Yasu, a young man whose supernatural ability to calm others makes Alia eager to hire him as Ima’s tutor, the volcano threatens to erupt before the twins’ birthday. As droves of Pompeians leave for the Outer Realm, the very place the founders erected a protective force shield against 170 years ago, Alia wonders if her Papa, the Caesar, is right: maybe an uncertain future in a presumably hostile land is better than no future at all? If Alia only knew what Yasu knew…

Then again, if she did, she would never have hired him as Ima’s tutor.


Can I have one character and two subplots, please?

I just wanted to share this funny video with you. Now you know where I get my plots and characters!!

Ps. I love Studio C! Good, clean family fun. To watch entire episodes for free, click here. Watch some of my absolute favorite skits here, here, and here.

Sandy Hook Tribute

Here is my small tribute to the parents of the children massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary. May you find peace in this time of internal war.


Some parents would give anything
To be able to nag their kid about chores
Video games

Some parents would give anything
To be able to fight their kid about eating veggies
Taking a bath
Getting out of the bath
Dragging the cat into the bath

Some parents would give anything
To feel like tearing their hair out in frustration
Even anger
Because their kid is giving them grief

Some parents would give anything
To cradle their little monster in their arms just one last time
And so I promise to squeeze mine extra tight

Boys Reading about Girls


“I know it’s about a girl…but I promise, it’s REALLY good!!”

Recently, young adult author Shannon Hale started what has turned into a very lively online discussion about boys reading books with girl protagonists (or, rather not reading). I’ve been following her posts and the reader comments about this topic – so interesting! 

When Shannon announced a contest, asking for photos showing “real men” reading “girl books,” I knew I had to pop out from my maternity leave to write this short blog post and submit the photo above. Olivia, the ultimate girly-girl, is always welcome at our boy-dominated house!

Jump over here to read Shannon’s wise thoughts about this topic and to join the conversation.



Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Yesterday, my dear friend and I lugged ourselves and our little ones across the Bay to the Oakland Zoo. It was a lovely outing. The sun tickled our skin, the animals our curiosity. My 19-month-old was probably a little confused when some of the animals he’s only seen in books or on the iPad/TV turned out to be enormous in real life! (Elephant, anyone!?)

As we passed a large tortoise milling around in its enclosure, I was reminded of the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” The adage, as you may know, has its roots in Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. Summary: Quick, overconfident hare races a painfully slow but ever forward-plodding tortoise. Hare, knowing he’s the superior contestant, naps and takes breaks. Tortoise, slow but steady, eventually wins the race.

Great story, great moral.

EXCEPT, lately I’ve felt like the tortoise in Aesop’s story with one crucial difference: I’ve felt slow but not steady at all. Like the hare, I’ve been taking a lot of breaks (in writing and in life). Not because I feel overconfident about winning the race. Quite the opposite.

What’s worse, the breaks (most of them unwanted) have not rejuvenated me. Rather, my naturally high stress-level has risen to new heights because of frustration and guilt at taking those breaks.

The inevitable conclusion of my personal tortoise and hare story?

I can’t win the race. Not only am I slooow and unsteady, but guess what? The world teems with hares that are fast AND steady. (Aesop conveniently forgot to mention them!) What’s the point of even trying?

Wow, that’s depressing. Body-sinking-through-the-floor depressing.

Good thing my post doesn’t end here, right?

Because through the thundering self-deprecation going on inside my head, a quiet voice tries to make itself heard:

It’s not a race. Not against anybody else, anyway. So be patient with yourself. Do what you can when you can and you will get there eventually.

Why is it so hard for the slow and unsteady tortoise to listen to that still, small voice??

Harry Potter Magic

Yesterday evening, my sister and I went to the theater and saw the last installment of the Harry Potter series (loooved) and the experience sparked an idea for a blog post.

I first met Harry while in college. The fourth book (Goblet of Fire) had been published and everywhere around me, people buzzed about the series. I remember thinking something disparaging, something about the Harry Potter craze being silly and blown out of proportion. Besides, the books were written for kids, right?

A sucker to peer pressure (in some things, at least), I decided to read the first book, just to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

I have never looked back. J.K. Rowling mesmerized me with her story-telling. In fact, I am indebted to her. Before Harry, I was a reluctant reader. Heavy doses of academic writing, made infinitely worse by grade pressures, had made me allergic to books. Reading – rather than being a treat – was a chore. 

Come to think of it, my decision to pursue writing most likely stems at least partially from my experience with the HP books. 

So, why do I love the series (and the movies) so much? I can’t really put my finger on it. 

It could be:

The Hero. Harry, by no means flawless, is the Chosen One for a reason. And it has less to do with his defeating Voldemort than the fact that he doesn’t keep the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in history, after doing so.
-The Others. Harry and Voldemort aside, the books have plenty of interesting characters spread along the spectrum of good and evil that make me examine myself and my own motives. And the character transformations throughout the books? Think Neville Longbottom (go, Neville!!).  
The Details. The Marauder’s Map. The food magically served at the tables at Hogwarts. The varying properties of wands. Hermione’s passionate fight for the house elves and Dobby the Free Elf (yes, I totally bawled in Hallows, part 1) 
-The Names. Luna Lovegood. Pius Thicknesse. Kingsley Shacklebolt. The Nimbus 2000. Diagon Alley. Hogwarts. 
The Themes. Greed. Friendship. Sacrifice. Compassion. Prejudice. Selfishness. Forgiveness. Community. Heroism. Hope. This is the stuff the HP series, and life, is made of. 

Or could it be Rowling’s use of magic as a literary device? Or her exploration of the power and allure of evil, and characters’ reasons for choosing it (consider Bellatrix and her obsession with the Dark Lord, Wormtail and his desire for the protection by those stronger than him, Lucius Malfoy and his opportunism). Or perhaps it’s because J.K. makes us feel right at home in her world.

Or maybe it’s just magic.  



envelopesSo, I sent out my two picture book manuscripts to several publishers on Friday. The picture shows the stack of submissions, minus several query letters I sent out earlier that day. 

Wow, was that intense or what? A lot more so than I anticipated. I would love to have an assistant (or an agent!) do this for me. Maybe one day?

Although I sent the manuscripts to several publishers, this stack is actually the result of a significant narrowing process. I’m so glad I used Writer’s Market and checked publisher websites for current submission guidelines – I would have hated to discover that some of the publishers I submitted to don’t even publish picture books, don’t accept unsolicited/unagented manuscripts, or have other guidelines that would automatically disqualify my submissions.

A few additional things I learned:

-If the publisher asks for a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), make sure to jot down the publisher’s name as the sender on the envelope (if you’re doing multiple submissions). I received one of my SASE’s in the mail, with nothing in it! (in fact, it wasn’t even sealed) I have no idea if one of the publishers sent it to me as a confirmation they had received my submission, or if a SASE slipped out of a burst-open submissions envelope. I sincerely hope it wasn’t the second, because then one of my submissions didn’t reach a publisher – and because I didn’t mark the SASE I don’t know which one!

-There’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet (surprise, surprise!). One website said that sending more than one manuscript at a time to a publisher is fine, or even positive because it shows them you are not just interested in being a one-time-only author. Another website said to NEVER send more than one manuscript at a time. As it turns out, the second site is more reputable. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the second site until AFTER I had mailed all my manuscripts. Oops.

-Finding the name  of an editor to send your manuscript to is sometimes tricky, even if you’re armed with the Writer’s Market guide (especially if you have an older version because people come and go). I tried calling a few publishers to ask for specific names but the ones I called only had an automated messaging service. As a side note, the next time I send something out to book publishers, I will probably purchase the online version of Writer’s Market because it has the most current information available.

Anyway, I did it, and it’s done! Now I just have to wait! (and wait, and wait, and wait…)

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

dadLittle L wants to say something to the best dad in the whole wide world (interpreted by mom):

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Thank you for playing with me. I especially like that new game where we touch index fingers and you go “bzzzz.”

Thank you for letting me chew on the enormous cucumber slice at the restaurant we went to the other day.

Thank you for showing me the turkey and all those other funny animals at the county fair.

Thank you for taking me on my first train ride – I really was a silly sausage on the way back home, wasn’t I? (who can blame me though: it was way past my bedtime!)

Thank you for not getting mad at me when I grabbed a hold of my food (while you looked away for one millisecond) and spilled it all over the linen table cloth at that fancy restaurant we went to on Saturday to celebrate Father’s Day. In my defense, I thought orange would look good on white.

I will thank you one day for not letting me climb out of my high chair, fall down to the floor, and break my neck. And for digging various objects out of my mouth (dirt and wood chips look like food, ok?)

Most of all, thank you for loving me and my mom! We love you, too!
P.S. I’m sorry that the first thing I did on Father’s Day was to spit up on you. Oops.

What’s in a name?

As I’m sending off my manuscripts to publishers, I keep seeing and signing my name…And I wonder, is it a good one?

I have two friends in the vicinity with writerly intentions. One of them recently finished a novel, which her agent is now circulating in the publishing houses (so happy for you, L!) She has a great name for a writer; snappy, crisp, and an alliterating one at that! (L.L. – isn’t that perfection?)

Then, there’s my other friend, S.B, who is in the beginning process of writing, trying to carve out time and get going already! Her name is a great one, too. Not because of alliteration, but because it’s unusual, yet memorable. Plus, her last name is, frankly, deliciously gothic. Too bad she doesn’t seem interested in writing a vampire romance novel (or are you, SB?).

And then there’s me. Angelica Hagman. It has potential, I admit. The name Angelica means angelic, which carries certain allure. Hagman…hmm, a solid name, to be sure, but maybe not as…ethereal?

The question is, should I write under a pen name? 

And if so, what would that pen name be?

Archer Bowstaff?
Cornelia Camelot?
Frank Incense?
Reed Mee?
Wry T. Err?

The possibilities are endless… 

No rejections!?

It seems I have to rethink the acquisition of the “rejection file” I mentioned in my previous post. As it turns out, most publishers I’m submitting my stories to have stopped sending out rejection letters! Instead, they contact the author only if they are interested in the manuscript. 

I don’t know if I’m peeved or relieved at this information. For one, how am I supposed to make rejection letter art if I don’t receive any rejection letters? And although I can certainly count the number of publishers that chose not to respond to my submission, it just doesn’t have the same “oompf” as a papier mache tower of rejection-letter terror.


Other than the rejection letter surprise, I learned yesterday that submitting a manuscript takes incredible amounts of time. Researching publishers and their submission guidelines, writing cover letters, addressing envelopes…In addition, Not only do very few publishers accept email submissions, but many don’t even accept unsolicited manuscripts, which means query letter writing. Long story short, yesterday I spent close to 16 hours (off and on so I didn’t totally neglect my poor baby) preparing my submissions. And I’m still not done. My number one issue right now is not being able to find specific editors to submit the manuscripts to. I’ll give that issue one more go today.

Oh, and I probably need to get an agent since many publishers only accept agented submissions. Double hrmpf.

But I’m not complaining, no I’m not! But I’m pretty sure I would if it weren’t for the fact that one of my manuscripts is about a chronic complainer!