Indoor COVID19 wailing to “Niji” with L’arc-En-Ciel

The perfect song for wailing indoors while full of COVID19 melancholy is “Niji” (虹, “Rainbow”) by L’arc-En-Ciel. It’s the opening theme of the Rurouni Kenshin movie Requiem for the Ishin Patriots, which has a storyline about samurai trying to start a revolution to overthrow the Meiji government. If you haven’t checked out the Rurouni Kenshin samurai anime and movies, now is a good time!

The main character, “Hitokiri Battōsai”, Himura Kenshin is a former assassin trying to make amends for his sins while fighting for love and peace. In the anime, the seiyuu (voice actor) of Kenshin is Mayo Suzukaze and she is amazing. In the movies Takeru Satoh is Kenshin and he is awesome in all the action sequences. Admittedly I would have loved a younger Masaharu Fukuyama to be the main character, but he does play Hiko Seijūrō XIII, Kenshin’s swordsmanship instructor in the movies. Rurouni Kenshin an anime classic and one I would gladly watch multiple times. The OST soundtracks are great as well! Some of the instrumental background music is full of tension, great for those writing fiction.

The song “Niji” starts off quietly with keyboards, electric guitar, drums and then main singer hyde launches into “TOKI WA KANADETE OMOI WA AFURERU” as if he is pleading with the heavens to save someone. Enjoy the youtube karaoke video below and know I am wailing with you! At home…where no one can see…with my Tzumi Pop Solo Gen 2 light up microphone!

Ricepaper Interview with Moulann and Mr. Will Wong

I recently represented Ricepaper Magazine to interview the Cantonese and Mandarin talents of Kruger Products’ (manufacturer Cashmere toilet paper and Sponge Towels) Unapologetically Human ad campaign, featuring real people dealing with real messes – spills, tears, blood, runny noses, messy crafts, and more. The campaign featured songs in English, French, Hindi/Urdu, Mandarin and Cantonese. Really cool that a company created a diverse ad campaign! The situations captured in the videos are touching as well, it’s worth checking out the beautiful imagery.

The Cantonese soundtrack is sung by Mr. Will Wong and the Mandarin song by Moulann.

Click here for full interview.

Youtube videos of the songs below, enjoy!

March 4 Asian Spec Fic Readings

Next Thursday I’ll be hosting an Asian Speculative Fiction Reading event as part of Small Press Fair for Dark Helix Press. All of the authors are wonderful readers and I look forward to listening to them do their magic! Details about this event below!

Also putting together another digital raffle to test how successful it is as a marketing tool. Someone told me that all raffles need to be coupled with Amazon gift cards so we will try that. I do worry about coupling book giveaways with gift cards – do they want the gift card or to read the books? Sigh.

March 4, Thursday, 2021: 8pm EST – 9pm EST
Asian Speculative Fiction Readings panel features Asian speculative authors who will read their stories featured in Immersion or Dark Helix Ezine. There will be a Q & A after the panel.
Authors featured include Vincent Ternida, Carlo Javier, Melissa Yuan-Innes and Lily Chang. Host: JF Garrard

For free registration click here

For more events, visit this link: http://www.darkhelixpress.com/events/

See you soon!

Write-Rice launches this Fri, Feb 19!

During a meeting in Jan 2021 with a few Asian authors, they lamented over the fact that they haven’t been getting much support from others since they were isolated due to COVID-19 and they lived in places with relatively few Asian people. This inspired Ricepaper Magazine to put together a Write-Rice Asian writers support group. Of course, it’s also open to anyone supportive of diversity, we want to be inclusive as well!

The list of topics we will touch upon includes the different methods of publishing to tips on how to write better. The hosts for 2021 are JF Garrard, Vincent Ternida, Derwin Mak and Cynda Yeasting. For more details and to register for these free sessions, click on this link: ricepapermagazine.ca/writerice

  • Feb 19 – JF Garrard (What are the different options for publishing? Traditional/Self-Publishing/Vanity/Podcasting/Youtubing, etc)
  • March 19 – Vincent Ternida (What is the difference between short stories, novels and poetry?)
  • April 16 – Derwin Mak (What do editors look for? Surviving the slush pile and looking for submission calls for fantasy and science fiction genres)
  • May 14 – Cynda Yeasting (What is an author platform? Discussion about networking and promotion ideas)
  • June 18 – JF Garrard (What is the difference between genres? Scifi/fantasy/horror/specfic/magical realism, etc)
  • July 16 – Vincent Ternida (Writing a good villain and interesting characters)
  • August 20 – Derwin Mak (What happens at genre conventions for science fiction, fantasy or romance? Are they worth the money to learn about writing?)
  • Sept 17 – Cynda Yeasting (Social Media 101. What is the difference between Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tiktok, etc)
  • Oct 15 – Vincent Ternida (Writing realistic fiction and plotting)
  • Nov 19 – JF Garrard (Nainowrimo Write in session, e-book prizes during “Word Wars” in which people compete to see who can write more words in 10 mins)
  • Dec – no session, survey link will be made available for feedback

See you soon!

Stories Podcast reading: The Year Christmas Got Cancelled

This audio file is hosted on Podbean

To get everyone into the holiday spirits for some merriment and laughter despite COVID-19 still lingering about, here is a podcast of me reading a story about mom cancelling Christmas after finding a severed Barbie doll head. I had originally written it for the Renaissance Press Holiday Blog Roll 2017. Text of the story is re-posted below, enjoy!

The Year Christmas Got Cancelled

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.about:blankREPORT THIS AD

“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. 

Photo by Jameel Hassan on Pexels.com

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!

Ricepaper Magazine Patreon Setup

It’s not a secret that many not-for-profits often struggle with coming up with funds to keep alive. Ricepaper Magazine is not an exception as an example of a publication that is trying out different things to gain access to public grants and private funding.

As a Senior Editor for Ricepaper, my title is quite loose since it’s a small organization. I do a lot of writing, interviewing, partnership building, event planning (LiterASIAN Toronto) and now something new I’m trying out is Patreon.

I’ve tried setting up on Patreon before and some of my friends on it have collected $0/month to a few hundred dollars total. I only know of one person who is surviving as a full time writer on Patreon and they are not rich.

Similar to Kickstarter, Patreon people pledge to give funds on a monthly or project basis in exchange for something. Since mainly artists and writers are on Patreon, the “creator” can give away music, artwork, writing, videos, magazines, etc in exchange for funding to create.

I’m working on the “about” Patreon page and looking back at the amazing magazine covers that Ricepaper has had in the past. There are days when my family and friends suggest I should quit Ricepaper to concentrate on just being a writer, but I tell them that there are few platforms for Asians in English and I believe I’m doing good by helping this ship stay afloat.

Sharing a few covers and when the Patreon page is up I’ll post news about it and hopefully garner some support!

 

Lessons Learned From My First Short Film

The Reel Asian Film Festival announced a See Yourself Here short film contest, asking people to send in one minute videos posted over Instagram. Since I have a horrible habit of wanting to do more than I am capable of, I thought I would give it a shot!

My film “Great Grandma & Me” can be watched in the link below. Please “like” to vote for me for this competition!

Lessons learned from this endeavor:

  1. Stabilizing the camera is important. Duh! Well, it was really hard to capture my son who was running around but someone told me they have a weighted tripod stick which you can carry while running around and it should help. So better equipment for next time…
  2. Extra footage, always. Certain shots were useless because they were too shaky or the light wasn’t right when it was made. Having lots of footage means you can toss stuff out and keep the good stuff.
  3. Light, light, light. I shot during the day with window curtains open so there was lots of natural light. The Samsung S9+ phone I used to shoot with was pretty good and had special features to “light up” the shot even in a dark room. It has a rear 12MP camera which isn’t industrial grade, but until I do more film stuff, it will do the job for now.
  4. Use good video editing software. For this film I used FilmoraGo on my phone. There is a Filmora desktop version, but the only time I had was travelling between places so I needed a mobile solution to fit in work for this project. Editing was a breeze. The software isn’t perfect, but much faster than using Windows Movie Maker. Quik by GoPro is a good option too, but the themes they had for videos were not what I wanted. I have a new mac now, will try iMovie next.
  5. Check licences on music. I chose Happy Ukulele by Scott Holmes, which I found on the Free Music Archive. This song can only be used for specific scenarios and Scott indicates you have to email him to ask for permission. He was kind enough to grant it, but do check before using music to make any videos!
  6. Be patient with “the talent.” This refers to my grandmother who was saying I was stupid the whole time and my son who refused to follow directions most of the time. They have to be in a good mood, so I had to pamper them a bit before I got some good shots. It’s too easy to become frustrated and give up, so lots of patience is needed. Chocolate as bribes helped a lot in my case…

Making this short film was a lot of fun and I hope people enjoy it!

Call for Submissions – Immersion: An Asian Anthology of Love, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction

Call for Submissions: Immersion: An Asian Anthology of Love, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction

Deadline: Open February 15, 2018 – December 31, 2018 (deadline extended from previous Oct deadline)

Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and Dark Helix Press are collaborating! We are searching for submissions for “Immersion: Love, Fantasy, Science” an anthology of speculative fiction stories to be published in the summer of 2019.

The anthology editors are Allan Cho, (Inside the World’s Major East Asian Collections), JF Garrard (Trump: Utopia or Dystopia, The Undead Sorceress) and William Tham (Kings of Petaling Street).

Construct a story about an Asian main character set in an immersive alternate past, present or future. Fill this reality with hints of reality, magic, or fantastical but believable science. If you are interested in writing about a motorized caravan train across the Silk Road, or sages searching for magical apprentices in the South China Sea, now is your chance. We also like good wuxia swordplay and other martial arts as much as we enjoy postcolonial politics and other contemporary topics. Draw on your heritage and transport us to a different world.

We are collecting short stories and flash fiction; please make sure there is a beginning, middle and an end.

Stories may be dark in nature, but no gratuitous violence, sex, or racist content. Novel excerpts not encouraged unless they tell a complete story.

For more details on how to submit, visit Dark Helix Press’ website link.

Please read the instructions. Stray stories are hard to keep track of and do get lost no matter how good they are!

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. 

***********************************

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!

Beauty of Cantopop

Growing up we listened to a lot of Cantonese music from the 70s-90s due to my parents refusing to listen to contemporary English music (except for oldies from the 60s, that was acceptable). A few years ago I confessed that I loved Sam Hui music to a friend. He told me I was an old fashion person because a lot Cantopop music has moved on with the rest of the world into dance and hip hop.

Every since China took back Hong Kong in 1997, there has been more demand for Mandarin products than Cantonese. However, in my opinion, Cantonese entertainment still reigns supreme as the writing styles in TV/movies are mature and always keep the audiences watching for the next plot twist. In China, the industry is still “new” compared to Hong Kong and maybe I’ll get addicted to something in Mandarin, but it hasn’t happened yet. Sadly there used to be over 300 films a year coming out of Hong Kong, and now there is only 30 as all the money is in China.

Regardless, an article in the South China Morning Post explains why Cantonese is still such a great language. (quote from article: “seng gau char siu ho gor seng nay”, which literally means “better to have given birth to a piece of barbecued pork than you”. )

chines barbecue pork
amazingribs.com Chinatown Char Siu

A lot of the music my dad liked to listen to ranged from very calm songs about waiting for someone (English lyrics to Danny Chan – 等Wait) or funny ones about the common man getting ripped off by the boss (English lyrics to Sam Hui – 半斤八兩 Half a catty, eight taels).

Lately I’ve been listening to this music again and it makes me cry because I remember sitting bored in the living room with the family while watching the horrible music videos of these songs on tv. A lot of Cantonese tv was family oriented and after dinner we would all sit down to watch tv and eat fruit. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to leave the house for life to start. Now I finally understand the longing and nostalgia of times gone past because people can’t be brought back from the dead.

Anyhow, I wanted to share  a few Cantopop songs via YouTube to those interested in trying out a new type of music. Other than the melodies being catchy, the lyrics are well written and usually the performers had great voices. There was less focus on “packaging” versus talent. Many of these legendary singers have died or retired. A few of them are still around and are still doing well. I don’t listen to much new Cantopop anymore unless they are title songs to tv series but these oldies are always welcomed in my home!

Sam Hui – 半斤八兩 Half a catty, eight taels (1976)English lyrics here, about the common man always getting the short end of the stick!

We are a bunch of working guys Working as slaves for money for life

Leon Lai – 愿你今夜提房距 Hope You Will Not Leave Tonight (1993)English lyrics here. This was the theme song to the TVB series The Legendary Ranger, science fiction series with aliens and a kick ass bodyguard (Faye Wong)! Leon was my fav of the Four Heavenly Kings!

Hoping you will not leave tonight.
But you have disappeared in such a hurry
to live a life in another world to be with someone else.

Hacken Lee – 红日 Red Sun (1992)English translation here, a great song for any bad day!

the path of life so twisted and winding, I have walked it
when did you start to accompany me on this path, giving me encouragement?
like the red sun, this fire lights up the real me
walking together, we can climb a thousand mountains

Jenny Tseng & Roman Tam – 問誰領風騷 (1987) – couldn’t find English translation, this is the theme song to a Wushu superhero series in ancient China. They both have AMAZING voices!

Anita Mui – Stand By Me (1988) – couldn’t find English translation, this was a thank you song to her fans for standing by her for many years.

Leslie Cheung- 有心人 A Man of Purpose (1996)English Lyrics here. This was the theme song from the gender bending romance movie, Who’s the Woman, Who’s the Man?

Wish I could have yet grown up Look for the one simply by instinct

Danny Chan – 等 Wait (1984)English lyrics here. A really sad and beautiful song about being depressed because a love left.

Wait
Lonesome till deep into the night
The night gradually becomes desolate
The night gradually becomes dusky
Don’t say that you’re the one choosing people
People can also choose you

Sam Hui – Heart of a Loafer (1976) – English translation here, a song that reminds you to be humble and don’t be overly anxious.

If life destines something for you, you will have it in the end
If life destines you never to have it, there is no point forcing it