Saturday, June 1, 2013

The End. Or is it the Beginning?

Today is my last blog post for this DIY project. My heart feels heavy as I type these words. It has been quite and adventure and I will miss this project dearly.

However, my last week with this project has been such a blast. TechFest on Thursday was so amazing! I got to watch teachers geek out over tech stuff and see the accomplishments of other students in the district. It was awesome to see how supportive the teachers were of each other and of us students. I am so glad that I was able to take part in that and contribute to it. It was extremely gratifying to go up and speak. I have rarely ever felt so accomplished. Also, the goodies they gave us only made the day better.

This project has brought me out of my comfort zone and I think I am more bold because of it. I feel more confident in myself that I can tackle anything I put my mind too. This boost could not have come at a better time with senior year and the daunting task of college applications approaching.

The last thing I have to do is do my final presentation for this project. I have to talk about what I have learned through the course of these past few months. I have just a wealth of information to say and I am afraid I will take up more than my allotted time. I have just learned so much about myself and I am grateful for the opportunities this project has presented.

So it is the end for this project now, but rest assured, it is not the end of my exploration of my limits.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Twist in the Plot

Plot twist! About a month ago, I had applied to be a student speaker at our district TechFest. This week, I received an email saying that I have been chosen!

The TechFest is going to be Thursday, May 30th. I am scheduled to speak at 2:30 with other students from the district. I am going to talk about my DIY project, because it was quite technology based, and how it furthered my learning. I spent this past week preparing what I am going to say and created a power point to compliment my little spiel. I am not going to lie, I am a little nervous. We have only about 5 minutes allotted for us, but I am scared I am going to start rambling and going around in circles. The last thing I want to do is start repeating myself and going nowhere. But this is perfect because our final presentations in class are the week after and I will be all prepared already. I had signed up for that first Monday to talk about my book.
Little Sneak Peek of My Presentation

This next week leading up to the TechFest I am going to perfect what I am going to say. I want to know what I am going to say without feeling rehearsed. I want to be natural because nothing is more boring than listening to a robot that sounds like it's been programmed to say things. The key is bullet points so I don't feel tied down to structured sentences but still know which ideas to hit.

My book was shipped this last Tuesday and I am scared that it's not going to come in time for the TechFest. The earliest it can come is Tuesday which is cutting it really close. It's not a disaster if I don't have my book to talk with, but it would definitely be nice.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Adding my book to the checkout cart
It's nice to be able to kick up my feet and just relax. I only had to do two things this week: shut down my survey on and order my book. Both of these things on my checklist have been completed!

It is still surreal to see my book online and getting an email in my inbox from that says "Pauline Nguyen, your book, Eat, Learn and Be Merry has been successfully published!" It's a great thing to be able to tell people that I have self-published my own book at only 16 years young.

Now all I have to do is wait till my book arrives. I ordered my book on Saturday, May 18th and it takes 6-8 business days to get here so I should be receiving it in 2 weeks. Let's cross our fingers that it comes how I imagined it would come out! If the formatting comes out awful I will know that is something that I will have to work on in future self-publishing endeavors.

But I am blissfully happy that everything is wrapping up and in my head I hear a humming, "Summer, Summer, Summer's coming!'

Friday, May 10, 2013


I've done it! I have finished! Last week I finished editing all of the stories and formatting my book, so I uploaded it onto and now it's officially ready to be printed and published!

It was very exciting to finally press save and submit, a truly momentous occasion. However, it took several tries to upload my document because for some reason, Lulu added a random blank page in the middle and so the whole numbering was off and the page numbers would appear in the middle of the page which was no bueno. I had redo the numbering several times to make sure the left side pages had page numbers on the bottom left side and so on.

Product Page
I also wrote a conclusive author's note at the end to kind of wrap the whole thing up. It was kind of reflection on my experience and it was quite sad to write it. I realize that I have finished early, but now all I have to do is order the book and wait for it to come in the mail. Let's just hope more formatting doesn't get screwed up when actually printing it.

Right now the book is on private access and only I can actually purchase it. It will cost $12.65 to order one hard cover, 6x9 book with full color printing, which isn't bad at all! The book turned out to be 30 pages exactly, so it's more of a quick coffee table read. I don't think I will make it available for public purchase however, the book is really just for me. Maybe in the future I will make it into an ebook.

I plan to order the book next week and it takes a week for the book to come so that will take me right up to the end of May which is perfect timing. I am so terribly excited to see it and am honestly so proud of myself and all that I have accomplished. Now I can just kick back and relax as my peers scramble to finish their projects. I have learned early on that procrastination will only get you so far, so I am glad I started early and and ended early. Especially with AP testing wrapping up, I can just cruise on towards summer. Cheers!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I Can Taste It


Of my project, not the world. I received my last submission today! This signals the end of my collection period and now I am heading into the finalization period! I emailed all the people who sent me stories thanking the, for their contribution and informed the people whose stories will be going into my book.

Now I just have to finish polishing up all the stories and make sure all my formatting is perfect! I am also thinking about adding an author's note at the end to wrap up my whole book. I am not sure what I want to say yet but I am hoping it will just smack me in the head. Kind of like how the birth of of this book kind of just smacked me in the head.

Uploading files onto LuLu!
I absolutely want to finalize everything this week and upload everything to so that I can place my order for my copy ASAP. I want to allow as much time for this as possible in case there is any shipping errors or I get the copy and the formatting is just awful. That is why I pushed my submission deadline up a week early. I am crossing my fingers that the ordering and shipping process will go smoothly and the book will come out as I envisioned it. I just really hope the cover is positioned correctly and the words aren't cut off and my fonts aren't all jacked up! Another fear I have is the image not being clear on the cover. What if the image comes out all blurry and pixelated? These are my worries.

My project is finally wrapping up. It didn't go exactly as I planned. All my submissions were from California because my plan of contacting teachers across America didn't go as well as I had hoped. Although some were very responsive and willing to help me, apparently none of their students wanted to submit to me. I didn't get as many submissions as I had wanted to, but I got submissions and I can't complain about that. I am just glad that I didn't absolutely fail.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who helped me out with this feat. There's only one more leg of the race to go. The end is near. I can taste it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Keep on Truckin'

Last minute this week was very productive for this project.

I wasn't planning on working on my DIY project this week, however, I was filling out an application for a scholarship and it asked me to write a personal essay. I sat down and cranked this essay out in about an hour. After re-reading it, I thought it would make a great story for my book! Killed two birds in one stone. Good job Pauline, good job.

My essay is quite personal and I am actually afraid to publish it. I know a lot of people won't read my book, but it makes me feel vulnerable having a very personal moment out there for all to see and my inner thoughts displayed. But I am glad I put it in there because it makes the book that much more special. I won't tell you what my own story is about yet, you'll have to read my book to find out!

I also found the absolute most perfect quote to end my book. You'll have to read it find out what that is as well. Oh I am such a tease!

Very frustrating editor. NOT COOL LULU.
I am also finalizing my cover for the book. It hasn't changed much since the first one I uploaded. However, it's been hard getting the proportions right so that it fits on my book and won't be so distorted. Actually, it's been really hard. I am doing right now and I am super frustrated. I need a professional photo designing person to help solve my problems! I just found out that a considerable amount of the image is cropped off during the printing process so now I have to essentially start all over. Great.

Yes. Finally done formatting the cover correctly. I think that took about an hour and a half. But my goals for this week are just to finish up this book. I need to get the last couple of stories in that my friends have promised me and I think I shall be good! It's been a long journey, but I am happy with how it is turning out.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

This week wasn't so bad. Some of my friends came through and actually submitted a story to me, as for the others, I still have to hound.

It was more of the same this week, editing stories and emailing teachers. It's going to be a steady stroll to the finish line at this point. I'm glad I got most of the formatting done early and so I am not scrambling to figure out everything now. Now it's just an easy job of editing, copying, and pasting into my word document.
One my favorite quotes

I am also thinking about putting my favorite quotes sporadically between stories to offer a break between them. They will be inspirational and add to the feel good vibe. The problem is, I have so many quotes that I love that half of my book will be quotes! I am going to ask my friends to choose their top ones out of a list I give them and I will incorporate those into my book.

I have also been brainstorming my own special moment to write about for my book. I have several instances that really stick out but I still don't know which one I will write about.

I have already written an introduction to my book but I haven't re-read it since then. Next week I hope to go back and edit that because some of things that I had previously thought have probably changed in these last 2 months. I also hope to start writing my own story to put in and finalizing the quotes I will place in it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


To be quite frank, I didn't do anything this week in terms of advancing my project. Absolutely nothing, except check my email.
What I've been working on instead of my book...

This week was especially challenging in terms of time management. I blame AP Biology! But in all honesty, it was mainly my fault. It is very difficult crawling out of the sluggish Spring Break days and jumping right back into intense school mode. Also, now that AP tests are just a month away, I have been taking the time I used to spend on my DIY project studying for my tests. In truth, my project is probably going to be very slow for a while, because everyone knows that AP really stands for Advanced Procrastination.

However, I am thinking about slipping one of my personal stories in there. I have been brainstorming some ideas and I think it would be nice to contribute my take on high school in there. I mean it is only fair that I do what I am asking of people!

Also, I will force myself to edit more and email more this week. I must!

With only a little over a month left, I can see the end.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Break? What is a "Break"?

Greetings! Spring Break proved to be a very productive time.

I am so glad the age of the typewriter is over and that CTRL + Z exists.

I finally got around to actually putting in some stories into my word document. I really worked on editing the stories this week. For most of the stories, I just edited grammar and spelling mistakes but for some I changed some of the wording so that they wouldn't sound so cheesy and super cliche. I don't want to edit the stories too much because I don't want to mask each author's individual voice and flavor.

This week I also poked and prodded at my friends to send me stories so hopefully they pull through for me! My original goal was having around an 80 page book but I don't think I am going to meet that mark so right now I am just hoping for a 30 pager. I am more than halfway there and I am still counting on that teacher in Alaska to send me some good stories.

I also went back to bombarding teachers around America to give my information to their students. A teacher from Texas said he would share my project so I am crossing my fingers that some will come from his students. All of my stories so far have been from California and so my original idea of comparing students from around the country isn't working out so well but at least I am going to have something to show for my work. I know that failure is an option but I do not intend to fail!

I am really excited with how this is turning out and no matter what, I am really proud of my project.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Finally some rain after this dry spell. It's been a good week for Pauline!

Short Story Submission Form
First, a teacher from a far away place called Alaska contacted me. She teaches an AP Literature class in Anchorage, Alaska and is really interested in doing my project with her students. Since all the writing they do is geared toward the AP test, her students never get to do any creative writing and that's where my project comes in. I am super excited to read what kind of stories students from Alaska have to tell. I have been mostly getting stories from California students and more specifically students in the HBUHSD so I wonder if teenagers in Alaska have different things to say.

This week, the BBN segment came out with a clip from my interview about my project in it. This has been great publicity for my project and has come at the perfect time before Spring Break. More of my peers are interested in submitting to my project and now they have a whole week to write me something. I have gotten more people asking about my project and where they can submit so thank you BBN!

Link to BBN segment:

Since I have been so short on time lately, this week will definitely be DIY week. I shall put up another Facebook post with my submission link soon to remind my friends to help a fellow out. Hopefully I can balance catching up with friends, studying for AP tests, doing school work, doing the DIY project, and most importantly, RESTING during my Spring Break. Oh the woes of a modern teenager.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Taking a Breather

I really don't have much to add this week. I found out another teacher in the HBUHSD is giving extra credit for my project as well, so that is exciting.

I have been slacking on emailing teachers but I will get back to that next week! I also need to hound my friends to send me stories as well. But everyone has been super busy lately so I will bother them like no other over Spring Break.

I have been super swarmed this week and barely had any time to work the DIY project. However, now that all the other projects I have been working on are wrapping up, I can put more focus into this one. Since Spring Break is coming up in a week, that will be the perfect opportunity to really go full force on my book.

Sorry there isn't much to say this week, if I even have dedicated readers, but à bientôt! (See you soon)
Editing a Story (keeping it all super secret until publishing)

Friday, March 15, 2013

And the Journey Continues

This week has been wonderful for my project! I'm getting all jittery inside.

Several teachers here at Fountain Valley have gotten back to me. Most have agreed to share my project with their students and one even is even graciously offering extra credit to submit to my project. I nearly hyperventilated when reading that email. Extra credit is more than I could ever ask for.

I have also been in contact with a student from Westminster High School who was interested in submitting to my project. It's nice to know that my hard work is paying off and that the word about my project is getting out there. I was also interviewed for the BBN today so that will get my project out to the rest of the school as well.

I've been getting more submissions lately ever since the extra credit was offered so now I am in the process of editing the stories for clarity. I am enjoying the stories I have received so far. They are quite heart felt and it's nice to read what others have gone through and learned.

Today was the day I had to pitch my project as well. I think my pitch went well and I hope it peaked my classmate's interest in my little book.

For next week, I hope to receive more stories and continue editing. I also want to start choosing stories to add into the actual word document that I have created for my book. Until next week my friends!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Nowhere to Go But Up

Calling all you writers! I need your voice!

I have finally built up the courage and release my form and plea to my Facebook page. I was a little afraid before because being rejected by people I know personally is much more of a blow to the self-esteem than being rejected by a stranger halfway across the country.

So far, support has been positive! Instead of posting a status, I decided to post a picture and then write my request with it because I figured that people usually stop and look at pictures more often than stopping to read statuses, especially lengthy ones. Also, if people like a photo, it resurfaces on the news feed again. I am such a dork, but I even looked up studies of when people are most responsive on Facebook so I could time my post perfectly.

The things I do for English.

I even found a nice graphic poster to go along with my post with a quote from Ray Bradbury, "Don't talk about it; write." People are always talking about the crazy adventures they had in high school, so why not write about it?

I'm slowly but surely getting submissions. Some are incredibly cheesy and some are quite touching. I'm hoping to edit the cheesy ones so they're a bit more bearable. I've emailed all the English teachers in the HBUHSD district and some have agreed to share my information with their students! A teacher in Washington also got back to me so we'll see what comes from that.

I've also set a date for myself. I will be receiving submissions until May 12, 2013. I will have it all put together my the 17th of May and be ready to order that day. It takes about a week for Lulu to print a book so I hope to get it around May 24th which will should just put me up to the due date of this project. I might have to modify this date to give me more breathing room though.

Surveymonkey went down for a bit this week and I had a mini panic attack but it's okay now. Hopefully that doesn't happen again.

Our pitch is coming up in a week so I must prepare for that. I still don't know what to show for my visual or what I'm going to say really, but I will figure it out! In the meantime, I will continue to reach out to more people.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reaching, Branching, Calling Out

And so the hunt for stories begins. As I mentioned in my last post, I sent out battalion of emails to teachers all over America. I wasn't sure if I would get a response but I thought, "better at least try!"

To my surprise and joy, I happened to email one of the sweetest teachers from New Orleans, Louisiana. She's offering her classes extra credit if they submit a story to me, which is more than I could ever ask for. Her students struggle with writing though so I am interested to see what kind of stories I will receive from them, if any.

Her email brought hope that this project might actually work. She was the only one to respond to me out of the first batch of emails I sent though. I have since out two more batches of emails in the last week so let's hope I hear from one of those teachers.

I haven't asked around locally yet however. I will contact local high schools next week and post my submission form on Facebook so my friends can submit if they want to. The pitch is also coming up and still have to figure out what I am going to say in my presentation. I want to think up of a simple way to present the concept yet also peak people's interest in my project.

I'm starting to worry that I won't get a lot of stories from other states, but I think I can at least muster up a sufficient amount of stories from FVHS students. It's not my ideal project, but not everything can be perfect.

To explain my picture, I came across this quote on the lovely site Pinterest, which is the site I go to for inspiration for just about everything. I didn't know what my real motive was for choosing this as my project. I knew I wanted to do something to help my fellow students but I realized the true reason when reading this: I wanted to read a book like this. I wanted to read the stories that people would submit to me to see what kinds of things other students have to go through, so voila! Mystery solved. Thank you Toni Morrison and Pinterest.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Onwards and Upwards

A cover I twiddled around with
Alas, it is the end of week 2. Good news, the title Eat, Learn and Be Merry has stuck. I think this one is quite permanent unless some other title comes and smacks me in the face and then I fall in love with it.

To be honest, I haven't done much this week. It was hard to find time to set aside for this project this week because of everything else going on. However, I did manage to play around with some cover designs this while procrastinating studying for a test.

I have also been looking into publishing my book as an ebook. Lulu offers services for that but also this site called Both offer free services for publishing my ebook across many different carriers. Imagine, making money off of my little English project. 

I also finally sat down today and began sending my submission form out to the world. I looked up the emails of different English teachers across the states and sent them an email regarding my project. I asked them to notify their students of this opportunity to be in a self published book and sent them the link to my submission form. Hopefully I get responses soon so I can start editing stories and compiling my book! If not, I will send a bombardment of emails to more teachers.

This is all very exciting. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Beginning

Current title page to my book
Do it yourself. That's a scary thing to hear. Especially when all you've been taught is to follow someone else's directions. But despite all of this, I am excited to embark on this adventure!

I have decided to compile a book full of short stories about special moments in high school. I will have people submit me stories kind of like the popular series Chicken Soup for the Soul. I wanted to take that idea and apply it to the probably the most vulnerable four years of our lives: high school.

We are supposed to spread this project out for 3 months, but when I get excited about a project, I tend to go full force until it's done. I have been trying to tone myself down but I have already gone speeding off.

What I've done so far:
I have created a account to self publish my book into an actual hard cover copy and I am quite surprised at how little it's going to cost me, $13.90 for a 6X9 80 page hardcover book. I have created a survey on to receive short story submissions. This is the link to that:
I have also started formatting my book on Microsoft Word and written my introduction for my book. However, that intro is bound to change through the course of this project. I've even designed a sort of a working cover. I am a monster! I must stop before I finish this project in a month. That is why I have refrained from contacting people to send me stories because I can't do much else unless I have stories to edit.

I had a really hard time naming my title. It's working title was just The Project but it has jumped at least 5 times since then. Some ideas were Woolgathering, From High School with Love, Jumbled, Hodgepodge, Serendipity, The High School Diaries, and Freedom, Books, Flowers, and the Moon. I finally settled on Eat, Learn, and Be Merry. Hopefully that will stick. I think it's cute and simple. It describes what I hope the stories will show. That all we need are to eat, learn, and be merry to be successful in high school.

Formatting my book on Microsoft Word was challenging as well. Getting  my page numbers right were a pain! But with the help of the magnificent Youtube and Google, I have figured it out. I think I am being quite the self-directed learner, no?

Future Plans:
Now that I have the basics planned, I need to get submissions! I will enlist the help of my friends to get the word out and use the social media to get the survey out. I don't want to keep it just locally though, I want to expand to the rest of America. I plan  to reach out to teachers in different states to get them to give my information to their students as well. Hopefully I can get enough submissions to make a substantial book.