How COVID affected Librarians, Authors & Poets/Performance Artists

In May I will be hosting an event for Canadian Author Association’s Toronto branch to discuss how librarians, authors & poets/performance artists were affected by COVID. Academic librarians from The University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) will discuss the disruptions they have faced and how libraries have responded to the pandemic. Author Dan K Woo and Poet/Performance Artist Johnny D Trinh will share how the pandemic has affected their writing life and what opportunities were missed or gained. These writers will also read from their works.

Registration for this zoom event is free and link is here:

Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop is the sponsor for this event and there will be a draw for a $50 Indigo gift card. Dark Helix Press will also be giving away an eBook sampler. Links to these are on the event page.


Finally writing my second vampire book

For April’s NaNoWrimo camp I am writing the second book of my vampire series, The International House of Vampires. I should be writing, but I always seem to find things to distract myself because I am an Olympian at procrastinating! One of the reasons I am taking so long with the second book is because initially I was going to switch main character to a minor character and did write a fair bit, but one of my mentors told me to stick with Tamara, the main character, so I scrapped that version of the second book. The minor character was Latino and while doing research I was told to not write a main character that is non-Asian. Then my dad died and in the second book, a father figure dies, so I had a hard time continuing writing. After my dad died, a lot of things stopped for me and I was feeling like I was recovering when my mom and grandma died. I had written a novel about yokai hunting in San Francisco just before mom died and entered a contest with it (it lost) and am now looking for a literary agent. No one wants it so far and I will keep trying to bug agents and publishers.

In the first vampire book, Tamara lost her husband and in the second book it’s about her trying to find him in the Underworld. The Underworld is described very differently by the Buddhist versus Roman Catholic religions I was raised in. I never thought it was odd to have two religions in the household, my parents were very different people so it made sense while growing up. Anyhow, the Underworld I am creating in this book is a mish mash as well and since it’s the second book, I will have to self-publish since the publishers/agents queried with the first book didn’t want a multicultural vampire book using Taoism concepts to explain magic. Vampires also don’t drink blood, they suck chi energy and they vaccinated themselves against silver. For such old creatures, there should be improvements over time!

Now I am busy looking up my past manuscripts and picking and choosing what I want to use in this book. Nothing is ever wasted even if it’s tossed out because it’s practice for the final version! After I finish this book my family members can stop making fun of me not having a second books!

My initial scope was five books for International House of Vampires (not to be confused with International House of Pancakes apparently), but we will see. I’ve been writing more short fiction since they are easier to sell and less heart breaking than working on a book for five years that no one wants. Back to writing! Tut tut!

Just fall flat on your face

Before I started the Artsy Raven podcast, I spoke with a friend who gave me the advice of just being dumb. “Don’t try so hard! Just make videos of yourself falling flat on your face and thousands will watch!” was their sage advice.

I thought about it and considered it for a long time, but I just couldn’t do it. It’s the same situation when I see romance or erotica writers amass huge mailing lists and sell lots of books. The ladies that sell dino erotic made a million in their first year! There was a call for an erotica anthology and I wrote a piece which was rejected perhaps because you can tell my heart wasn’t in it.

Everything has their ups and downs in life, it is foolish to expect one will have good fortune indefinitely. The only thing you can do is build up support so you don’t fall too far too fast.

Some writers warned me not to do other things other than write. So the things I’m doing now, hosting a podcast or design work is frowned upon by the “pure writers.” Since my mother died I haven’t been writing much because it takes up a lot of energy to world build.

Over time I’ve been taking small steps around writing with my podcast and design work because I find them easier to do. All these other non-writing activities are my support because they involve other people and that gives me energy to go on. April NaNoWriMo camp just started and I have written a few thousand words so far, so I’m warming up to return to writing again.

In university I was told by some male students that I was too smart and had to dumb myself down to attract a boyfriend. I didn’t listen to their advice and found someone who appreciated me for who I was.

As much as falling flat on your face or acting dumb is the easier route to some problems, it’s just not worth it sometimes and you may never reach your goal! After a long struggle, you will appreciate your rewards more!

Talking to Lindsay Wong about success

What is success? Is it achieving a goal such as writing a best selling book or living a dream lifestyle?

Recently I interviewed Lindsay Wong about this and I was slightly surprised by what she said, since she hit success with her memoir, The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. The book was nominated for book awards, won some awards and selected for the 2019 edition of Canada Reads.

For many people it seems after hitting one goal, it’s time to set up the next goal and keep going! Lindsay works very hard and I wish her luck in the future of being able to just wake up every morning to just write in pjs!

Link to my interview and her book reading here: Spotify, Youtube

Why a publishing house is selling design work

Recently we merged the Dark Helix Press newsletter mailing list with the Artsy Raven club mailing list due to limited time capacity. Marketing people will say we are doing something wrong, but we have too much to do and need to focus on creating things!

At Dark Helix Press we are working on new books, but we have also started making designs that are suitable for t-shirts, notebooks, mousepads, etc. These items are in our Threadless shop:

Books take a long time to make and are not easy to sell. Designs aren’t easy to sell either but people may pick up t-shirts or other items for their friends as gifts knowing there’s a better chance that material goods will be better liked than books.

All revenue from design work goes back into books because they are expensive to make and since we are a traditional publisher, the costs are all up front.

As a small press, Dark Helix will never qualify for any grants because there are conditions of selling X and reaching revenue of Y. We are a tiny player on a large playing field and over time, the larger companies have been merging into mega-corporations with different labels. The Goliaths are getting stronger and the Davids are trying new things to avoid them!

The future of the playing field for publishing seems bleak, as the larger Goliaths still have much control over the usual aspect of the industry such as access to bookstores, superstores (Walmarts, Costco, etc), databases and libraries. There are many emerging Davids over time – the self-publishers who are publishing themselves because the Goliaths refuse to. The most successful Davids are the ones that can get published by a Goliath for one or two books because the Goliaths have more marketing dollars and staff to make a book a success. It’s all still a gamble, but if the Goliath can shield a David temporarily it’s easier than a David struggling by themselves. Then after the partnership is over, the David can earn more from selling books themselves since there is no Goliath to take a giant cut of the revenue.

There are no easy answers to publishing success if you are a David! Throw in a mix of people using AI to the party and that changes everything as well! Hope my biblical analogy makes sense and have a great day!

Free Postcolonial horror writer talk with Tonya Liburd

On March 30, CAA-Toronto is hosting a free event featuring writer Tonya Liburd.

What is postcolonial horror, and how does it differ from conventional horror? Join us for what what promises to be a fascinating session with award-winning horror writer and editor TONYA LIBURD, whose stories and poems have garnered recognition in Toronto and beyond.

What you’ll hear:

  • How Tonya approaches her writing career
  • How her work as a magazine editor has shaped her writing and her thoughts about publishing
  • Her thoughts about code switching, Black horror, and postcolonial horror
  • Her novel-in-progress

Click this link to register on Zoom.

Doing my first live stream podcast interview and Medium personal essay about caring for the elderly during COVID

Many months ago I was booked for an interview on the Lurking for Legends podcast and totally forgot about it until the host Richard H. Stephens sent an email with the live podcast link! Since my last blog post, my 106 year old grandma passed, so I had been busy planning another funeral and dealing with over zealous relatives who all have opinions but at the end of the day only me and my siblings were paying for this funeral.

Having done a few interviews in the past, the biggest difference in live streaming is the lack of opportunity to correct mistakes. It’s similar to giving a talk in public. It’s a good exercise in practicing improvisation because there will be questions asked which are not scripted and you have to pull yourself together to speak clearly. There were also questions from the audience via the Facebook live feed and I had to answer these on the fly too. I always think afterwards about how I could have sold things better (my husband says I am the worst salesperson!) but every experience makes the next one better.

Link to the interview here:

I haven’t written anything in a while, so I wrote a long personal essay called How COVID Affected the Care and Death of the Elderly In My Family. It’s a recap of what has happened over the last few months with my mother and grandmother before they died. Death is final and even conspiracy theorists can agree that such a thing will happen to all of us! Or maybe not…

Have a look at the essay here if you have time and please follow me on Medium if you can. To qualify for their partner program I need 100 followers but I only have 2. Yes, pretty sad, I know. In the near future I will be posting more on Medium and then mentioning them on my WordPress blog as larger pieces fit there better I think.

Have a great day and please stay safe!

Kathy Quyen Pham answers “Why did you want to pursue a MFA?” on Artsy Raven Eps 10

Kathy Quyen Pham is a Vietnamese Canadian writer currently based in Saigon. She has published fiction in Ricepaper, Cagibi, and NōD Magazine.

She answers the question “Why did you want to pursue a MFA?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 10. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

Kathy’s website is

On Twitter she is @kqphm and on Instagram she is @kqphm

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube:

Kirsten McNeill answers “How do you deal with a negative review?” on Artsy Raven Eps 6

Kirsten McNeill is a writer, editor and business owner of KM Writing Services. She answers the question “How do you deal with a negative review?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 6. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

Kirsten’s website is

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube:

The Idea Shop answers “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on Artsy Raven Eps 5 podcast

Chris Houston, the Marketing Guru of The Idea Shop has over 20 years of experience in book marketing. The Idea Shop is a one-stop shop for fresh new ideas on how to promote creative endeavors of all kinds, from books to podcasts. The Idea Shop can be heard each month on Sauga 960 AM radio.

He answers the question “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 5. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

To contact the Idea Shop on how your book can be marketed to the world, find Chris at

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube: