Monday, June 30, 2014

Sharing an excerpt from my book

Hello dear friends. I wanted to get your feedback on the book I was starting to write….the fiction one anyways (the other one will be nonfiction). I’d greatly appreciate your comments, suggestions, and anything else you want to tell me. You can even tell me that it is garbage. But if you are going to tell me that my work is garbage, please explain why and have something constructive to say to back it up. I take constructive criticism pretty well.

I started working on this story back when I was in culinary school, when I had barely begun the program. I had several chapters written and I had shared a couple of the chapters with one of my chef instructors to see what he thought of it. I wanted an expert’s opinion, -expert in the world of the profession that I was writing about, not an expert in critiquing writing, of course. And his response was that it wasn’t “gory” enough. “I want to see more people bleeding and getting hurt”, he suggested. With my limited time spent in the real kitchens back then, I guess I lacked the experience to capture the reality of what really goes on in the life of a kitchen slave. As time passed, things got in the way, I was working a lot, juggling multiple jobs at times, and the book just unavoidably got neglected. And I just sort of pigeonholed it.
Fast forward X number of years and I am in the midst of reviving what I had started. However, this time, I am quipped with the experiences of actually having been through the brutal, soul crushing industry that we kitchen slaves have come to know as “kitchen life”. I think I will be able to make the kitchen industry scenes more realistic and dramatic now. 

In the first version, the heroine was in her mid 20’s. But she’s going to be 30 in this revived story. Same character? No but a very similar character in a similar situation and a similar plot. I was looking back on my pigeonholed draft and then reading over the current revived draft. The main characters are both very spoiled and inept to survive in the real world, but in the second version, the story is told from a more mature voice. She’s not the 20 something year old taking “selfies” at clubs and entering “hoochie dance off” contests. The 30 year old voice is just as much of a princess, but more grounded and seeking stability in her life, whereas the younger character was more about having fun and living in the moment. This older character is less superficial. ANNNNND….I toned down the bitchiness to make the character a bit more likable.
I would love everyone’s feedback on this excerpt. Forgive me that this is only a rough draft and VERY MUCH unedited. You may find loose ends here and there. There may or may not be grammatical errors (gasp). I will edit after the end of each chapter, and then again when the entire novel is complete. This is just me rambling and brainstorming.

Some writers have an exact game plan of what is going to happen and how their story is going to end. Some writers know how the book is going to start, but don’t have a clear path of which direction they want their story to take. But they may know exactly how they want it to end. They sometimes write the ending of the story first. That has never been my writing style, but I can definitely relate. With me, I usually know how I want the story to start and how it’s going to end, but I don’t write the ending first. Once I begin writing, the story takes off with a life of its own, going in directions I hadn’t planned. So when I sit down and begin writing, it’s like I am both the writer and reader. I am anxious and curious to find out what happens next because I don’t have a blueprint of the exact events that will occur as I am getting into the story.
The main character, Tiffany Hansel, has pretty much lived a spoiled princess life her entire life. Never did she think that her princess life would be taken from her. But that’s life. Being a Hansel meant being set for life, financially and socially. She always had everything handed to her. Her name alone opened doors and deserved ass kissing from everyone around her. With the bankruptcy of her family’s empire, her world comes crumbling down. Tiffany feels like her life just ended. She does not have the real world skills and street smarts to survive, can’t hold down a “real” job, and goes into depression.

When Tiffany finally comes to her senses, she decides that she is going to fight to survive and cannot let herself drown. Life’s lemons will teach this spoiled helpless princess toughen up and give her relentless determination to not give up. She’s been Vice President of her family’s company for many years, but it was in name only. She was clueless and uninvolved in any of the company matters. So yeah, having had that title with such an illustrious company does look excellent on her resume, but that’s about it. She never had any interest in the business either. The position was just kind of given to her because of who she was.
Tiffany does some soul searching to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She has always had a passion for food and decides that she wants to learn as much as she could about food and cooking. Becoming a cookbook author seemed promising, and she also wanted to explore other possibilities as well. She enrolls in culinary school. And from there on, her ventures in the culinary world begin. As her journey in the culinary world continues, she gets put through many situations that are deemed "beneath" her. That is where you will see humorous conflicts.....but with each experience comes growth. By the end of the book, she will be a completely different person than she was at the beginning of the story.

There is going to be a lot of food and cooking scenes in the story since I am writing it with the food loving audience in mind. Personally, I am a huge fan of “chick” material when it comes to movies and books. Therefore, I want to write as if I am writing for MYSELF (and the likes) as the reader. I am a huge sucker for stories with yummy food, smut, revenge, growth, and secrets. So you can expect to see these components in the story.

Sometimes I don’t have a title for my stories until I am done writing. I don’t have a title for this yet. I think I have already said too much. Well, here it is. Enjoy….

The time on my phone was showing 3:57. For the past two weeks, this would have been around the time I’d be finishing up everything at the second job that I had just been disgracingly been fired from since I lost the prominent title that I had to my name for the past eight years. I had been working my ass off at these last two places, and in positions that were far beneath what I was deserving….WORK!! Ick…Why does working suck so much? My name and resume alone gets me into the doors of almost any job I want. I was a Hansel, and a former VP of the illustrious Hansel Group. I’ve learned the hard way that when you’ve had a VP title to your name, people actually expect you to know how to do stuff.  But God’s honest truth was, I did not know how to do squat. And if you don’t know how to do squat, employers are not likely to keep you around.

I had been VP of The Hansel Group for eight years. I never climbed up the corporate ladder. I just parachuted atop it. As soon as I graduated from college, my father, Jake Hansel, CEO of the Hansel Group, brought me onboard and pretty much just gave me the title. With all my friends going out and actually doing things with their lives, I felt like I needed to prove to everyone that I was doing something too. And what’s more admirable than being VP of the renowned Hansel Group at the young age of 22?
As a VP, I had a huge room to myself overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Dad used to call it Princess Tiffany’s little hideout. The hideout was used as a ME room. It’s where I came to hang out and do my daily tasks, -catching up with friends via Skype, watching movies, catching up on my reading, browsing around the net, watching the food channels, and drinking coffee. Dad never gave me any responsibilities and said that his little princess did not need to do anything. I was VP in name only. And that was good enough for me. I mean, how many other people have that advantage of being in a high position while not having to actually do anything at all? Anyone that had a problem with it was nothing but a hater. And so what if my salary was technically more of an allowance than an actual earned salary? Certain people (like Philip, who has worked in our accounting department for 20 years) would go out of their ways to give me shit about that, but obviously, they were just jealous.

Well, the life of being daddy’s VP princess ended six months ago. Today, instead of being in my luxurious hideout office, sipping coffee and catching up on TMZ, I was sitting alone at a Starbucks, unemployed and nowhere to go. I was on my laptop browsing through Facebook, too defeated to post or comment on anything. It was depressing me. Everyone was doing something meaningful and exciting with their lives, - Kelly, my college roommate just got accepted to law school. Paul, my BFF from elementary school, whom I haven’t seen or spoken to since his wedding four years ago, was about to become a father. Cathy, my friend from high school, whom I haven’t seen since high school, was traveling through South America on a missionary assignment, bringing hope and love to the poor souls and whatnot.

And me, what the heck was I doing with my life? What has become of me? I used to be the chick that everyone wanted to be. But look at me now. I had just been fired from my second job in the last two months. I was technically labeled as “incompetent”.
“We are not finding you to be a good fit for our company,” they said, just like the first company that had fired me. Well, screw them. Who do they think they are? Don’t they know who I am? I am Tiffany Hansel, former VP of The Hansel Group. HANSEL…the name anybody who is anybody in the business knew of. It’s the name that opened doors…the name I was proud to call mine. Who knew that this day would come when Tiffany Hansel would be degradingly fired again from one of the nobodies of the industry…a company whose yearly revenue isn’t even surmountable to The Hansel Group’s monthly or even weekly revenue. How dare they do this to Tiffany Hansel, former VP and heir of The Hansel Group empire?

My grandfather, Timothy Hansel, built the company from the ground up to what had become one of the top investment firms in the industry. Everyone wanted to be one of us. Not everyone was able to be us. Many certainly did make attempts.
It was around the peak of fall last year when our world fell apart right in front of our eyes. As the economy was starting to spiral downwards, so did the empire of the Hansels. According to dad, everyone saw it coming. Given the drastic economic condition that was starting to happen a couple years ago, I was soon to learn that we had been hanging by thread. But what did I know? I was never involved in any of the important meetings, had no idea of anything that was going on with anything. Dad never discussed business matters with me. I was stuck in my own little world for eight years during my time of being VP.

I will never forget the day when I literally lost EVERYTHING. Everything!  I was over at my parents’ house for dinner on a Saturday evening, just the four of us, -mom, dad, Fufu, my teacup Chihuahua. Fufu was a birthday gift (one of the many) from my last boyfriend, William. When my beloved Maltese, Sunshine, died last year from old age, I was devastated. To console me, William surprised me with what was the most adorable puppy ever. She had a pink bow on her and everything. And she’s been in my life ever since. However, William has been long gone from my life ever since I dumped him as I was getting tired of him. He just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I needed more. I needed excitement, someone that got my heart pounding….well it just wasn’t happening anymore with William.
Dinner that evening got off to a great start. We had Chef Yoshi Tahnashi preparing the food. We usually only had private chefs come over for parties and get togethers, but everyone was craving sushi that night and wanted to have some quiet time alone in our backyard. California is so lovely during the fall. We wanted to be outside. And dad said he had something to tell us. But it was to wait until after dinner. Whenever dad had something serious to say, he started with feeding us an amazing meal. Putting us into foodgasmic comas was his way of softening us up. He knew that good eating made us happy. And he wanted us to be in good moods first whenever he had something not so pleasant to say. It was sort of a weird family quirk of ours.

And dinner was splendid. We’ve had the pleasure of trying some of Chef Tahnashi’s creations before, but only at his restaurant. Dad was one of the investors of Tahnashi’s restaurant, Tahnashi Ya. When someone that is investing money in you asks you to come prepare their family a private dinner, you come. And of course, it didn’t hurt that dad was paying Tahnashi pretty well for personally coming and making dinner for us.


  1. All I can say is that I want to read more. I like it very much! so far!!! It looks like it will be a great story and very interesting one. You are very talented writer and I really don't know why you waited so long?!

    1. Thanks. Chapter one almost complete.

  2. I think it's a good start! You laid the foundation and the "voice" of the character pretty well. I'd kind of like to know what kind of jobs she was firing from/what she was attempting to do. I'm sure you will flesh it all out though! I once wrote a YA novel for National Novel Writing Month but then I never went back to finish/edit it - but at least I wrote a whole novel, haha. Kudos to you for getting back on the writing wagon! Would love to read more :)

    1. Thanks! I'll work on that. It'll be similar but lesser positions that she was incompetent to do but thought she was too good for. Really, with her "work" experience, she should be working as an intern or something, but she thought she was entitled to much more than what she could bring to the table.

      You should be proud that you at least completed a novel. I can't believe I never have. Well, hopefully, I will finish this one....I'll force myself to. I wonder what your book was about.

    2. Mine was a YA paranormal book - it was about a girl and an underground world that fused magic/technology with this group of protectors who kept the world safe from paranormal activity. There was this big underground society literally underneath the streets of LA. haha. I was reading a lot of paranormal fiction back then... :)

  3. What's your target reader/audience for this book? I like the 30yo's voice versus the 20yo. I kinda envisioned you as the younger Asian version of Anthony Bourdain. He cooks, writes, and shares in an honest (often brutal) way.

    I like Fufu. I hope Lifu gave that inspiration to you :)

    1. Target audience would be current, past, and future kitchen slaves, food lovers.....but also "chicks" since I want to make it "chick lit"-ish. I am throwing some smut stuff in there.

      Oh yeah, I wasn't thinking of it at the time, but yeah...I guess maybe Lifu did somewhat subconsciously inspire the Fuu character lol.

  4. I like the book so far, it kind of reminds me of the Gossip Girl books (which were so addictive) but I imagine there will be a sort of Kitchen Confidential spin on them. I like it. Also am a fan of how you contrast bits of her previous life (fancy corner office, private chef dinners) with her current life (unemployment, Facebook envy of friends). Can't wait to see more :)))

    1. Thanks, JS! I've never read any of the Gossip Girl books, but umm yeah...she's a girl that had everything that lost everything. So you can just imagine what her attitude will be as she deals with the rest of the regular world and everyday people. She is still a rich girl at heart but living amongst the commoners now.

  5. It's a good starting chapter but I was thinking that it still needs a little editing on the opening, especially the second sentence (super long?). I think when you have more of the story written, it will start to develop into what it's meant to be, including how the character is presented to the reader. Then you can re-read the intro to massage it a bit.

    Now where's the second chapter? What happens at dinner?


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