photo diary: julie & tara in vancouver

Julie and Tara, a couple writing friends from the States, came to visit Vancouver last week which means cue food, cue hang outs, and cue me being That Person who has to get a photo of everything (hey what can I say, I love my camera. Oh, and my friends too). Sarah H and I toured them around Lynn Valley aka Marvel At Nature 101 and Deep Cove aka Tara’s new favourite place in the world. We had tacos and walked by the waterfront with Kaya and visited Richmond Night Market with Grace where we indulged in everything from dill pickle and roasted garlic rotatoes to matcha soufflé pancakes topped with red bean and mochi. Here are a few snapshots from their visit :)

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Shout out to Julie and Tara’s creepy Airbnb that cut power on the first night and this guy at the night market whose job it was to stand in the water and supervise these children peddling boats. They’re the real MVPs of the week!

retreat to lake tahoe (sort of)

Earlier this month, I went on a writing retreat to Lake Tahoe. Sort of. We were actually in Truckee which is more north of Tahoe, and the lake we visited was not, in fact, Lake Tahoe as I’d first believed. Truthfully, I spent the majority of the weekend not really knowing where I was. But that’s besides the point. The important thing is! I went on a retreat with some dear writing friends and this is a post to commemorate the wonderful time we had together. Cue photos.

I chose maybe the most inconvenient and convoluted way to get to my destination, but that too is besides the point. Let’s focus instead on the beautiful sunrise I caught from the airplane window on my first flight (ooo ahh). And look at the free biscuits and tea I got on my second flight (ooo ahh). And don’t forget the fancy Starbucks drink I got before my third flight, which I texted to my boyfriend to show him what a great time I’m having (oo- wait is that just water? …let’s move along).

All of the above was worth it when I reunited with with these ladies:

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Hooray! Let the fun begin! But first, quick introductions.

Susan Lee: Writer of YA contemporary that is laugh out loud hilarious and hits you right in the feels. Follow her on Twitter.

Grace Shim: Writer of YA contemporary featuring Korean teens that make me go ‘omg that was ME in high school!’ Follow her on Twitter.

Jess Kim: Writer of MG contemporary that will make your heart grow three sizes like the Grinch. Follow her on Twitter and find her book Stand Up, Yumi Chung! (Kokila/Penguin, 2020) on Goodreads.

Julie Abe: Writer of MG fantasy but also pretty much everything else (she talented). Also the feeder of my Japanese snack addiction. Follow her on Twitter and find her book Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch (Little Brown, 2020) on Goodreads.

Three words to describe this weekend:

1) Inspiring. From story brainstorm sessions to talking about our personal writing journeys, dreams, pitfalls, and goals, I felt inspired to keep on keeping on and to write the stories of my heart. I’m grateful for friends who not only remind me to press on, but model it for me in the way they live their own lives.

2) Celebratory. This retreat was extra special because we got to celebrate Susan’s agent signing! Woohoo!! This calls for not one, but two cakes! Also, a big shoutout to Susan for being our amazing chef for the weekend. The photo on the right is of her cutting strawberries for us. Seriously, what did we do to deserve her?

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3) Refreshing. There’s something about soaking in nature and the presence of good friends that is so rejuvenating. I said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m so so grateful for these ladies. I’m also grateful for snow capped mountains, belly aching laughs, and cup ramen.

On that note, I’ll end with these photos from the lake that was not Lake Tahoe. Til next time!

godmothers retreat

A couple weeks ago, I went on my first ever writing retreat with a few friends. We packed up the car, drove to the ferry, and crossed the water over to Mayne Island where we spent the weekend in a cabin full of blankets, writing, brainstorming, and filling our bellies with cheese, cheese, and more cheese.

We call ourselves the Godmothers, as in, the godmothers to each other’s book babies. Sarah H, Carly, Grace, and I met in a university Creative Writing class almost four years ago. We happened to be sitting on the same side of the classroom the day we formed critique groups and we’ve stayed that way ever since (a critique group, I mean. We didn’t become permanent fixtures of the classroom). From writing dates in donut shops to annual Secret Santa gift exchanges, I have many reasons to be thankful for these ladies. They were my Critique Partners before I even knew what Critique Partners were and I’m glad I got to experience my first writing retreat with them. It feels fitting.

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SCHEDULE OF THE WEEKEND:

Breakfast
Morning writing session
Lunch
Afternoon writing session
Dinner
Evening writing session, but more accurately, playing games, reading books, sleeping off sickness symptoms, and in my case, secretly watching figure skating videos on YouTube (specifically this video of Yuzuru Hanyu in Helsinki. Seriously, how amazing is he??)

We also went for walks around the island to stretch our legs. On one of our expeditions, Carly and I got lost trying to find the Japanese Garden and came across this view.

This is one of my favourite things about living in BC. That you can just stumble on a window of endless waters and mountains saying hello. You’re surrounded by it, and no matter how many times you admire it, it never stops being amazing.

For those of you wondering, we did end up finding the Japanese Garden. When I was a university student, I used to go to to the Japanese garden (called Nitobe Garden) on campus all the time. It was my favourite place at UBC and losing free admission there was one of the saddest parts of graduating. For that reason, I was very excited to visit Mayne Island’s Japanese Garden and it didn’t disappoint. Breathing this place in was the perfect break between writing sessions.

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On the final day of the retreat, we woke up early to catch the 7:45 AM ferry back to Vancouver. I’m not really a morning person (not an evening person either actually. Mid-afternoon is perfect, thanks), but seeing the sun rise like we did that day makes me think I should re-consider this early morning thing. Maybe they’re worth it after all.

If you’d like to follow my talented friends online, here is Sarah H’s Twitter and Carly’s Twitter. They are also roommates and co-hosts of Toffee and Fudge, an A+ writing website. If you’re a writer looking for writing tips and resources, definitely check them out! Grace is currently #NoTwitterGrace, but you can visit her on Instagram where she shares spreads from her gorgeous bullet journal. Also, a special shoutout to our friend Susan for sending us a giant box of snacks to power us through the weekend. Susan, you’re the best!

Until next time, Mayne Island!