Month: April 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

A few notes

  1. I didn’t mention this in my last post  (“A few fictional Asians”) but Sophie from Twenty-Somewhere is Chinese American. Something I’m working out in my revision proposals is how much to play that up — or down. Can mainstream chick lit handle a Chinese protagonist? Then again, will 20SW even be chick lit when I’m done revising it?
  2. Today is my first featured guest post over at Writer Unboxed! (EEEEE!) It may look familiar to some of you, since there was an earlier incarnation of it here on my blog, but I’d love for y’all to hop on over anyway. (All future guest posts will be brand spanking new.)
  3. By request, I’ve set up a Subscribe by Email link in the sidebar. If you sign up, you will get all my new posts emailed directly to you, rather than having to check here or in your RSS reader. I’d still prefer comments left at the website rather than emailed directly to me, but at the end of the day, I want everyone to be able to read and interact with me in the way that makes them most comfortable. :)
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A few fictional Asians

Yesterday, Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda became available for purchase. Andrew is another writer and blog-friend I met through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and in fact his book is being published via AmazonEncore as a result of his participation in that contest.

Now, I didn’t subject Andrew to an interview like I did Todd, but the Q&A on Crossing‘s Amazon page is what got me interested in his book. I highly recommend checking that out.

Verdict? Crossing took me by surprise. I wanted to read it because of my Chinese heritage, and because of how the Virginia Tech incident affected me, but somehow I wasn’t expecting the book’s emotional depth. Furthermore, the mystery element made it a very compelling read, and certain passages struck me with their literary beauty. Like any book, Crossing won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I certainly enjoyed it.

Of course, I had to laugh when Andrew mentioned (in the Q&A) how most immigrant books feature “clichéd scenes of family meals, flowery mother-daughter relationships, and cathartic returns to the motherland.” Because that’s sort of the book The Good Daughters was. (TGD = my first ever completed novel, currently shelved but slated to be rewritten.) Well, okay, TGD’s mother-daughter relationship wasn’t flowery, and no one went back to the motherland, but it did feature more “typical” or expected elements. (Hence why it needs to be rewritten.)

So in addition to enjoying Crossing as a story, I also appreciated how Andrew stepped away from a lot of the stereotypes. (But not all of them. And hey, some exist for a reason.) Andrew used Chinese culture to enhance Xing’s character, not to define him. Xing could have been a loner for any reason; he just happened to be Chinese.

Similarly, actress-writer-director Fay Ann Lee created Falling for Grace, a Chinese-American rom-com. Yes, that’s right: a Chinese-American romantic comedy. Hollywood liked the story but wanted Lee to change the main character to a white or Hispanic woman. Lee refused and put the movie out independently. It’s not 100% polished like the slick things we usually see on-screen, but it’s got a lot of raw truth in it, particularly in the scenes about Grace and her family. In fact, my favorite part (sorry, this is a teeny bit of a spoiler) is when Grace gives her brother some money for culinary school:

Ming: I’ll pay you back, I promise!
Grace: Just cook for me for the rest of my life.
Ming: … I’d rather pay you back.

Did that have to take place between Asian siblings? Of course not. But throughout the movie, their heritage is reflected in their interactions with each other and with their parents, and it makes those relationships feel rich, and real.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love (love LOVE) Amy Tan, and a lot of the more “typical” Asian American fiction that’s out there. (LOVE.) But I think it’s great that some writers and artists are exploring their heritage in other ways. We need to represent the whole spectrum of experiences, you know?

Andrew Xia Fukuda and Fay Ann Lee are doing that, and when I rewrite The Good Daughters, I plan to as well.

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"Maybe" never sounded so good

Hey, remember how I won a contest and submitted Twenty-Somewhere to a major publisher for their consideration?

Yeah, it’s okay if you don’t; it’s been a while. 90 days, in fact. And since that’s considered an acceptable waiting period before follow-up (according to publishing industry norms), I went ahead and emailed the editorial assistant today to check on the status of my manuscript. Not ten minutes later, I got a response. A pretty good response, I think.

(!!!!!)

(PS: that’s me freaking out.)

Basically they love the title, the characters, and the concept. However, they’re not as fond of the episodic format, and they’d like the ms to have a little more… punch. They want to know if I would be willing to revise. (OF COURSE I WOULD!) If so, they would like me to submit my revision ideas to discuss.

Friends, this is yet another “maybe” in the chain, and “maybe” is far, far sweeter than a “no.”

As a result of this exciting news, I will be spending the foreseeable future working out some new possibilities for Twenty-Somewhere. (Sorry, WIP, but you’re officially on hold. Hopefully just for a couple weeks? But hey, distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?) I’m also making another search for an agent, because holy cow I could really use that guidance and insight right now.

In the meantime, I’ve been relying on the advice of friends and family, and I’d like to take a moment to especially thank Therese Walsh (co-founder of Writer Unboxed) who has been SO gracious and helpful today, emailing me lots of support and advice. She’s a sweetheart and a fabulous writer, and I hope to be like her in both those ways. I can’t wait to be able to “pay it forward.” Thanks, Therese!

And thanks to all of y’all. Seriously, Twenty-Somewhere wouldn’t be anywhere without you. {group hug!}

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On the radio

In a completely random turn of events, I’m going to be on NPR tomorrow.

(WHAT?!)

Yeah, clearly I’m still digesting this news myself.

Here’s how it went down: I left a comment on the NPR website about being a halfie (see here) and next thing I know, someone is contacting me about recording the comment to put on air. Would I be interested? HECK YEAH I would! How cool is that?

So she called, we did a quick sound check, and then I recorded the comment (about 98% verbatim) and answered a few follow-up questions. I don’t think I sounded like an idiot, but either way I hope they work some editing magic. I’ll take the voice of Ming-Na Wen, the polish of Michelle Obama, and the beauty of Jessica Alba (brunette, please).

So what if you can’t see beauty through the radio?

Supposedly my comments will air tomorrow during the Tell Me More show, specifically their “Back Talk” segment. Unfortunately I don’t know what time, but I plan to listen all day, hahaha. And if I miss it somehow, it should eventually be available for download from their website (see here).

Crazy, right?

Too bad I didn’t think to plug my website or my writing…

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Scenes from a weekend

Two men, both wrong. Separated by fifty years in terms of age, and several hours in terms of my day. They speak with authority, but I know they are wrong. “No, this shuttle doesn’t go directly to the airport. It just picks us up and takes us to the central station.” The Texan. The chiseled jaw. “I’m waiting for them to turn the cabin lights back on. They always do.” The older gentleman. White hair, speckled skin.

Their women just say, “Oh.”

I wonder, do they too know their men are wrong? Or am I alone in smiling and nodding and ignoring the ignorance?

He asks if he can use the other outlet. I nod, and he sits. He needs to charge his iPhone to load a map. He’s scared and excited and wants to chat. I ask if his parents are nervous about his moving to the city. He says, “I’m not gonna lie, I’m a gay Jamaican man. My parents haven’t been in my life since I was 16.”

I say, “Oh,” with sympathy.

He tells me about his house in Florida, the one he bought by working at Ruby Tuesday’s and renting out rooms. He tells me about dance, about his friends who move their bodies magnificently, about his show in June and the rehearsal he missed tonight. He has perfect skin and dazzling teeth. He wears sunglasses, and skinny jeans tucked into beige boots. When he gets up to leave, he slings one giant duffel bag over each shoulder.

He says, “Amazing things happen to great people.”

I say, “You know, I think you’re right.”

What I really think is that I hope he’s right. But that’s close enough, isn’t it?

Lorenzo, wherever you are, I hope the city doesn’t eat you up. I hope you stay as pure and beautiful as you were for those fifteen minutes in the airport. I hope you see my name on bookshelves, and I hope I see you lighting up the stage. Soon.

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