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.
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.
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!
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!
The paperback version of The Undead Sorceress was just released yesterday on April 24, 2014 ahead of the May 8 schedule. I don’t think this will ever happen again! I am maximizing the number 4 it seems with an April 24, 2014 release date. The number 4 sounds the same as “death” in the Chinese language and is typically avoided. Well, this book is about vampires who are undead so perhaps they are a lucky bunch and having so many 4s around this book is ok!
Retail list price is $15.99 USD and it is available on Amazon for now. In the near future it will be uploaded to other distributors to make it available at Barnes & Noble, etc.
Meanwhile, I’ve been prepping for book launches and Anime North, so I’ve ordered a stack of 300 books to carry with me everywhere. The book is damn heavy at 500 pages! The matte cover is beautiful though and the colors translate well from digital to print. And I’m a picky person when it comes to books! After going through 12 proofs, I’m finally happy, so I hope you will like how the book turned out too!
Finally, one book is available online after lots of difficulties with IRS forms, last minute formatting changes/deletions and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Amazon to approve of it for sale. Yes, there is a process in which Amazon looks at your book to make sure it’s not offensive stuff you are putting onto their site.
Although I’ve learned to read legal documents for work, reading IRS forms and documents are totally different. I am convinced they are written by aliens to destroy our little minds as they are so difficult to comprehend.
Things turned out ok in the end, but there was lots of sweating and panicking. Uploading onto Amazon was a breeze though, but what took me so long was that I would “test” the book on different kindle programs and find glitches in the file. So I went back and forth with my very patient Australian formatter to perfect the book. Then I set up an Amazon Author page, changed the book status on Goodreads, updated all websites, then announced its availability via Facebook and Twitter as well. Is giving birth easier? Not sure…
The print book manuscript takes a bit longer to format and after that’s done, I can finish the spine/back for the print cover. I have been going to bookstores in my spare time and studying other people’s books to see what they put on their books. Perhaps I am vain, but I like well designed books and I hope to make a good looking book as well. For a panel on self-publishing on the weekend, I’ll try to remember to make this point: once the writing is over, you have to shut off your writing brain. The book becomes a product next and it has to be able to compete with other books. This means that the inside must be polished with professional editing and the outside has to be well designed. Book covers do matter and sometimes people will pick up your book because the cover is pretty if nothing else.
Due to my enrolment in Amazon’s KDP Select, I had to take down my preview of the book as it is available on Amazon now. KDP Select puts the book into a Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, so people enrolled in the library can read the book for free. Amazon does compensate the author regardless and it’s a new business model for people to subscribe to Amazon’s library service.
Click the cover below to visit The Undead Sorceress’ Kindle book page. Happy reading!