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Anime North 2018

On Twitter one of the guests modified their graphics to include their schedule which I thought was a brilliant idea! So I did the same for myself so people can keep track of me and other authors can see which panels they are on with me (I help co-ordinate the writer panels for AN). The majority of panels I’m doing this year are on writing and publishing. Last year I did a midnight panel on Japanese horror and while it was fun, I was really tired the next day!

What you don’t see are all the interviews I have lined up to do on behalf of Ricepaper Magazine with other guests of honor. I’ll be speaking with Jrock sensation BACK ON, fashion icon MINORI, Lolita fashion designers Angelic Pretty and one of my favorite seiyuus (voice actor), Junko Iwao! There is a fashion show on Saturday which I’ll attend featuring the latest Japanese fashion trends and I’ll try to be on the lookout for Elmo and Big Bird wrestling…The Toronto LEGO group is also making its debut and will hold seminars on how to create wonderful LEGO structures. They will be in the kids area with their giant LEGO sculptures.

Although it will be a crazy busy weekend, I will post lots of pictures of the cosplayers and events happening at Anime North on my social media accounts. Hope you can make it there too!

 

 

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The Tartan Turban Secret Readings #11

If you happen to be in Toronto on June 1st, 2018, I’ll be hosting the 11th session of The Tartan Turban Secret Readings held at Barrett and Welsh Marketing Agency. The authors were selected for Asian Heritage Month and are Terry Woo, Thea Lim, Koom Kankesan, Arun Nedra Rodrigo & Anupama Mohan. 

I’m very excited as Terry (Banana Boys) hasn’t written in a while and he will be sharing his new works for the first time in many years. The event is free of charge, please register on Eventbrite so we can ensure there is enough snacks for everyone. I intend to bring Uncle Tetsu cheesecake to share and there will be wine and other non-alcoholic beverages.

Having been to many readings, I have to say that the Tartan Turban series is really nice, especially having slotted time for open mics for anyone in the audience to join in the reading! It’s a great chance for all writers to share and to collaborate as audience members will be able to give live feedback after the readings. Books from all authors will be available for sale of course and will be available for signing autographs as well.

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Revamped website & being in a sandwich

Jen Frankel and I were moaning last week about how we have to fix our websites. I had a terrible cold/flu this past week but while recovering, for some reason I thought it was a good idea to do. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on a website, so I just went with a free theme aimed at photographers since book covers are visually appealing works of art.

While compiling all the stuff I’ve written, I realize I’ve spent a lot of time writing for Ricepaper magazine and need to get back to writing books. Over the course of the last few months I had taken a novel writing course at Ryerson University at night to kick me in the butt, so I am back to work on writing my second vampire book. The course was very literary and the instructor and I were like cats and dogs talking about magic. They are an award winning Canlit author and my writing doesn’t fit into the “normal” categories. We agreed to disagree and spent time working on character development which they were great at.

My blog hasn’t been active lately because I have become a “sandwich generation” caregiver. Basically it’s a person who has to take care of children and aging relatives at the same time, so they are caught in the middle. Since my father died, I have been taking care of my 102 year old grandmother (oldest in the family) and my son (youngest in the family). My mother needs checking on to, she is like a teenager so I have to make sure she is eating properly among other things (like see a doctor after she broke her arm, she told me to piss off at the time). I am grateful that I have a supportive husband who lets me take care of people as in some Asian families, daughters are considered “water poured” out, meaning that once a daughter is married, they are only supposed to take care of their in-laws.

My siblings have been great as well and the three of us work together to help grandma as much as we can as she is unfortunately declining. We have hired two sitters to help (almost like nannies) as the nursing home staff can only do so much with a 1:10 ratio of staff:residents. I also had several breakdowns when asking for help from older generations in regards to grandma and getting rejected. While sobbing, my husband just told me that I was too idealistic, that not everyone is altruistic even if blood related. This makes me very sad. So much for the stereotype about Asians taking care of family. My dad’s death has made me bolder in asking questions about the family hierarchy and it’s made me very unpopular with older generations. The resistance to change has been appalling.

Thanks for reading and please be well! Although life goes on with or without us, doing good helps everyone! And I will be an eternal Peter Pan/Wendy…instead of turning into a cynical rock…blah!

Dark Helix Ezine

We are defrosting in Toronto, the weather is slowly getting warmer, but it’s still below 0.

I have been taking part in the submission and rejection cycle once again as a writer. I’ve discovered there are a lot of new ezines out there, but they do not pay. That’s fine, but I’m not sure if it’s worth my while to write and then get not much out of it.

Since curating the Trump: Utopia and Dystopia book, I’ve become good friends with quite a few authors. Dark Helix has newsletters, but I thought it would be a great idea if we could do an ezine. This would be like a mini Costco magazine. Instead of food samples, we’ll have stories from writers and interviews with them so people can read new material that they otherwise might never come across in this vast internet world of words.

Announcing the Dark Helix Ezine, a speculative fiction ezine which will be available for FREE for readers. We hope to have the first issue out in May before Anime North hits. We want to help out Indie authors as much as we can and hopefully this will take off!

Dark Helix Ezine

Adobe Indesign is the gold standard for magazines, so I am pulling out my hair and learning the basics of how to do an ezine in this software. Trying to be careful about not over committing as I’m working on a Futuristic Canada anthology, writing short stories and taking a novel writing class. Oh, and I have that kraken toddler I have to feed and play with on a daily basis!

 

 

Feeding The Kraken Children cookbook out!

Feeding the Kraken! is a toddler/children cookbook I made in 2016. It was a successful Kickstarter project and it features over 50 recipes as well as parenting advice. I had hoped that my father (a chef) would be around to test recipes with me, but well, he died.

This book is a big lesson about me being too creative without thinking ahead. I used up a lot of time to make it look pretty and had lots of beautiful nautical graphics in it…which doesn’t translate well in e-book format. In fact it looks really crappy because the coding is very difficult and to make the book commercially viable I have to strip out most of the graphics.

I procrastinated about this for over a year.  Good thing I’m not depending on books/writing to pay bills because I would be starving and dead by now!

In the end I decided to put up the original book as a pdf with all artwork intact on the Dark Helix Press website as a download. Since the reader has to do extra work, instead of the usual $4.99 price point, I have dropped it to $3.99. I also didn’t realize that paypal took a cut per transaction, so I learned about being dinged for fees too.

In the future I will make an e-book but it won’t be as nice. As for print book, I have InDesign, but haven’t taken the time to learn it yet. There is a high learning curve, but it is the gold standard for printing software. The print book can have most of the artwork intact but will be expensive to print due to color ink.

Anyhow, if you have any krakens (children) to feed, I think this is a great cookbook to look at. My child actually asks for the healthy red lentil muffins listed in the book! A cookbook is only successful if you use recipes more than once!

Here is the link, bon appétit!

http://www.darkhelixpress.com/yachildren/feeding-the-kraken/

 

Trump book published on Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Trump: Utopia or Dystopia anthology is now live and available for sale or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers on Amazon!

I’m not sure if I ever want to publish a book on Christmas again as it is quite stressful. A lot of frantic phone calls, emails and general panic about last minute changes. Although these things are typical of the publishing process with any book, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be working at Amazon on Christmas day to make it happen. It turns out there is a lot of automation I presume and at least one poor person (hopefully making triple salary) processing kindle books out in Amazon land.

Sadly, I’ve discovered that the previewer in Amazon isn’t that great. However, once I download the book or see it in the official previewer software for publishers, the book looks fine. Apparently it’s an ongoing problem that hasn’t been fixed by Amazon yet.

Jen Frankel and I are proud of the Trump book as it is one of the most creative exercises we have ever taken part in! All the writers have been great to work with and I’ve noticed that a few are in other Trump anthologies as well.

Our family also had fun with a Duplo building contest to see which design was deserving of a copy of the Trump book! There were a lot of abstract builds!

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In the new year I need some energy to finish an anthology about Canada and will be working with Sarah Water Raven. She will be the main editor as I will be contributing a story, so I need someone else to tear me to pieces. One becomes blind to their own writing after a while and the only cure are fresh eyes!

The Year Christmas Got Cancelled

This was written for the Renaissance Press Holiday Blog Roll 2017!

One year, a fake auntie (not blood related) gave my sister and I a real Barbie doll to share. We never had a real Barbie before because they cost too much. We only got the Bargain Harold’s or Woolco generic dolls. I remember not wanting to play with Barbie anyways because I would rather play with Transformers, which was more interesting. 

A few days before Christmas, a blood curdling scream went through the house. My seven year old sister and I were doing extra Kumon math exercises without any joy. We shrugged and continued our grueling work. Mom screamed a lot; she could be either yelling on the phone at someone or mad about something on tv. Our tiny bodies tensed when she appeared in the doorway of the living room, holding a severed Barbie head by its long blonde hair.

“Who did this?” Mom demanded in her loud voice in Cantonese. Her giant afro perm bobbed up and down, as she stormed into the room and flickered a severed Barbie head by it’s long blonde hair in our faces. She was a tiny woman, but had enough power to topple over any mountain or rip apart any savage animal in our eyes.

Being the wiser ten year old, I shook my head and spoke calmly. “I don’t know mommy.”

My sister was frozen with fear, but after a few seconds of silence, parroted me in a squeaky voice, “I don’t know!”

Both of us looked around for our younger brother who was five. He was nowhere to be seen, but it didn’t matter, he was the golden child and could do no wrong.

“Christmas is cancelled! No more presents! You are naughty children and presents should go to good children!” My mother was livid that no one was owning up to destroying an expensive doll. We rarely got any toys from our parents because there was no extra money in an immigrant family home in which chocolate milk was considered a luxury. 

I sighed and tried not to roll my eyes. A few years ago my mother had suddenly told me that Santa didn’t exist, but my cynical seven year old self was already aware of this. I was more upset then that my shrine to Jesus had been ignored by everyone and became an atheist soon after. As the first child, I was continuously being experimented on by my parents.

“But we don’t get presents from you anyways,” my sister smirked.

“I’m talking about all presents! Even from other people! You are all bad children!”

“No, mommy! I want presents from the uncles and aunties and Santa!” My sister started wailing and crying.

Mother looked happy that one child had reacted to her stern lecturing. “There is no Santa! Hahaha! Now who took apart this Barbie?”

“I don’t know,” I said in an exasperated tone.

My mother shot daggers in my direction as she glared at me.

“It wasn’t me!” My sister sobbed, her chubby cheeks becoming red and streaked with tears.

“No one is confessing? No more Christmas!” My mother stormed off to dispose of the doll head.

“What do we do now? What did she mean that there’s no Santa?” My sister asked me.

I shrugged. “It’s ok, she’ll calm down and change her mind. I’m sorry, the whole Santa thing was really mom and dad all along.”

“Oh,” my sister said as she wiped her tears. “No wonder Santa always gave us such crappy presents.”

As with many things, I was wrong about mom changing her mind about un-cancelling Christmas. I also never found out who tore off the doll head. In the following years, any presents given to us were never seen by us. It’s presumed that they were re-gifted to another child who deserved presents. 

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Although we didn’t get presents at Christmas, we still got red pockets (cash) at Chinese New Year, birthdays and whenever we passed any big tests. Admittedly all the red pockets went into our bank account which we later learned was paying for household expenses. 

There is a Chinese idiom about daughters: “Daughters are water poured out of the family after they get married.”

After I started dating a Caucasian Canadian guy in university, my Christmases were spent with his family. We eventually married as well and he was relieved that there were no fights about splitting up the Christmas holidays since my family didn’t celebrate it.

My sister and I have children now and they have great Christmases compared to our childhoods. Maybe we are trying too hard to compensate for the fact that we didn’t celebrate it or have any toys and want our kids to have everything. I hope that the kids don’t end up being spoiled brats! They will sigh as I tell them this story about Christmas being cancelled and probably won’t believe me since grandma always brings them presents!