Recently I finished an op-ed piece and sent it around to major media outlets. It wasn’t picked up by anyone. Naively I thought that since the piece was about a small press publishing a book by Asian writers and finding it difficult to gather in-depth book reviews, this would be an interesting read since a lot of diversity articles only talk about the good things about why it’s needed or negative experiences. The experience I had was a good one, but in the op-ed I wanted to highlight the fact that people are scared about being cancelled, so they can’t comment on anything, which makes it difficult to move forward. Everyone says they want diverse books, but is this really true? Or are they saying this because it sounds like the right thing to say?
As a writer, I wonder about why this piece was rejected. If you are a successful op-ed writer, perhaps you can send me some tips!
Generally, the message in this piece was: sometimes it’s best just to sit down to have a cup of tea and eat together to build relationships going forward. Basically instead of preaching diversity, let’s talk about what we have in common and be friends!
June is Pride Month and on the Artsy Raven podcast we are releasing episodes featuring a LGBTQ author every Sunday. More details available in our June newsletter (click here), including which episode to listen to which has a submission call for short stories. It was great to talk to these authors who all generously shared their challenges and struggles, but despite all this, they all remain optimistic and achieved their goals!
At the end of May we had a book launch for Belief, an anthology featuring Asian authors. I was happy that my 3-tiered cake didn’t fall down and it was a lot of fun baking, even though I’ve lost my sense of smell and taste after the COVID vaccine. Since I take care of my 105-year-old grandma, I get tested for COVID every week and it’s been negative. Anyhow, we recorded the Belief event which can be watched on Youtube here. More details about the book here.
Comedian Josh Williams and I talked a little bit about Belief and other things in life on his One Man Podcast, click here. His podcast is a casual conversation and somehow I impressed him with my talk about the radioactive sandwiches I fed people when I worked in Nuclear Medicine!
I’ve been trying to do more writing by doing writing sprints with an indie author group every Sunday night, but it’s been slow. My brain is still split on weekdays because of virtual school and I can’t write one sentence without the kraken (my child) demanding something. I’m not sure at what age human children become more useful!
For more detailed Artsy Raven podcast episode summaries, they are posted on Patreon and Ko-fi every Sunday.
Jing Jing Wang is the Co-Networking Director of It’s Real Magazine, an online magazine which focuses on Asian American mental health issues. It’s more than a magazine, the organization is also involved with making documentaries and other community activities.
We had a frank conversation about why it’s so hard for Asian Americans to obtain mental health care and the differences in mental health outlook within our own Asian families although we were both born in North America. Mental health still has a big stigma attached to it within Asian communities although attitudes are slowly changing. There’s even a wiki page on Hong Kong student suicides which explains some factors which include the Hong Kong education system and pressure from families. April first is also coming up in which the famous singer Leslie Cheung jumped from the roof of the the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which led to more awareness in the community of the harmful effects of depression.
I assure you the podcast is quite positive as Jing Jing is one person out of many in the Asian community making a difference by making it more acceptable to discuss mental health within society!
an intersectional feminist and artist. On this episode of the Artsy Raven, JF Garrard discusses with them the purpose of It’s Real Magazine, why it’s so hard for Asian Americans to obtain mental health care and the differences in mental health outlook within our own Asian families although we were both born in North America. It’s Real Magazine website: https://www.itsrealmagazine.org/ Jing Jing’s instagram is @jingshiwang01. For more about The Artsy Raven Podcast or to join our exclusive Artsy Raven club to receive free books and other cool stuff, visit: https://jfgarrard.com/arpodcast Remember, Patreon subscribers have bonus content for every episode on the secrets of success! https://www.patreon.com/jfgarrard
On some sites I’ve seen 3d covers of books and wondered how people did it. Well, I know I can hire someone or buy software. But being a frugal person I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money so I never tried to do this. Fast forward a few years later and I’m talking to a book marketing person who is asking me about 3d covers.
Doing a Google search I found a website which lets you render a 3d cover for free! Of course it’s not the best quality (the graphic is small in size) and for a small fee you can pay to download the better version.
You will need 3 images in hand before you start: 1) Front cover, 2) spine only and 3) back cover. You can use any graphic program to crop your print book image file into pieces and just save as separate files.
The first episode of The Artsy Raven podcast is live! It’s available on Spotify and YouTube at the moment. Anchor will be sending out the podcast to other channels as well, but it’s still early so the computers are all talking to each other and negotiating, I presume. Bonus content about the secrets of success from the guests for each episode is available exclusively on Patreon.
We had a tiny party with myself, my husband and my little one because of COVID and we didn’t feel comfortable asking people over to our tiny apartment. The cake was baked by Ginny who is fighting on Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown and it is a chocolate cake. She said all sorts of fancy words like “caramel something” and “ganache something,” I will have to ask her for exact terms before I post about the specifics of the cake! But it was yummy, that’s the important part!
Chris Gorman, the first guest on The Artsy Raven, has been recording the Words with Writers podcast for a while now and he was the most prepared guest. I had sent him questions and he actually wrote out almost every word he was going to say and even practiced reading the entire transcript to note his speaking time! Of course when we actually did the recording, we interjected impromptu things and I had to cut him off from answering three questions or else we would go overtime.
It’s a bit frightening how fast the podcast went up after the files were ready for uploading. With the click of a button, it was live on Spotify/YouTube and I could see it in the search engines when I look for it. Editing the podcast took a few hours in comparison and I hope in the future I can produce these episodes faster as I become more experienced. At the moment I’ve booked a lot of “local” guests and the challenge in the future is asking “strangers” to come onto the show. I feel I need to have a few more episodes up before approaching big potatoes to come onto the show.
Admittedly I have a little bit of imposter syndrome because I don’t write in just one genre. I’m greedy and as a speculative fiction writer, my stories may involve horror, fantasy and science fiction all mashed together sometimes. For my horror author pic I used the PITU app which I adore to make myself look eerie. My husband says I laugh like a maniac whenever I use this app, but I can’t help it, it’s hilarious to play with!
For this panel I will be reading a pure horror story – My Girl, which I made a YouTube reading of (link here) earlier this month. It was inspired by a time when I had a miscarriage. In this story, a woman has a chance to giver her dead baby life by stealing the life of another baby’s. If this was possible, would women do this? I have no doubt that some would and some wouldn’t. It depends on a person’s values in the end even if they are in a horror story.
I’m also trying something new at this panel, the King Sumo raffle service. We’ll be giving away some Dark Helix books in a digital raffle and one audience member will walk away with a few books.
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
This year I’m doing a few talks at Capricon 41 (Feb 4-7, 2021), a spec fic convention based in Chicago. I’ve been sent their panelist invites a few times, but this is the first time I’m attending.
To my surprise after receiving the schedule, I saw that I’ve been paired up with a few people I know from Toronto and someone I met at Detcon1 years ago! Looking forward to meeting these friends virtually again!
The con features many panels on writing, science and fandom – so if you’re looking for people to chat passionately with about geek topics, come hang out!
Immersion, an Asian speculative fiction anthology of fifteen stories which I edited with Allan Cho and William Tham is out! Two years in the making, we’ve used a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this project. The stories range from glimpses into loving relationships (with mermaids, grandparents, etc) to science fiction (using fish slime for fashion) to horror (supernatural beasts and an artist painting in blood). When we started the project we didn’t know what would come in the door. All we knew was we wanted to offer a chance to authors to send in the fantastic and surprise us! Towards the end we also did a cover re-haul and it looks completely different from before!
My latest published short story, The Curse, made it into Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gales and Gizmos. This anthology is the latest release from editors Mary Fan and Paige Daniels, featuring young adult science fiction tales about teen girls with a knack for science, tech, engineering and math… hackers, mechanics, inventors, and more! Proceeds from sales will be donated quarterly to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.
Futuristic Canada is finally out! I’ve been working on this book for the past two years with Sarah WaterRaven. The project went through a lot of changes, with authors coming and going, lots of hospital visits (family members and ourselves), changes in directions for things…anyhow, the project is over and our book baby is finally here!
Admittedly creating a book about the future of Canada is not the best business decision given our small population and seemingly boring country. However, the stories in here will surprise people with their twists and unforeseeable endings! A superhero librarian, woo hoo! Puritans taking over the future, oh boy! Government sending old people dates for their executions, oh dear.
Sometimes a writer makes a terrible editor too because we spend so much time thinking about how the story will flow and we tend to get bored easily if a story is too predictable. I have to say that the writers in this book managed to make me jealous of their storytelling abilities and lyrical words.
We’ll be giving away Futuristic Canada as an e-book during Canada Day week of July 1-5, 2019. Grab a free copy from Amazon and please leave a review on Goodreads/Amazon if you can. Many thanks and enjoy!