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2018 Reading Challenge: The Stats

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I read 38 books this year and as per blog tradition--and frankly, the entire reason I keep track of my reading habits at all--is so I can do stats at the end of the year!

So first, from Goodreads:




I read 3 more books compared to 2017 and 1339 more pages this year than last.

Of 38 total books:

25 were fiction (65.79%)

Of the 25 fiction:

8 were contemporary romance
2 were historical romance
2 were historical steampunk romance
2 were historical/contemporary time slip novels
1 was alternative historical fiction
4 were fantasy; two of these were supernatural
3 were children's novels
1 was an epistolary novel
1 was literary historical fiction
1 was contemporary fiction
1 was contemporary women's fiction

Of the not fiction (34.21%):

1 was a cookbook
2 were travel memoirs
1 was about the creation of Hamilton the musical
1 was a short poetry book
4 were history
1 was a psychology book about introverts
1 was a human sexuality book about asexuality
1 autobiography
1 was a collection of s…

Reading Challenge: Goal Met!

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Where's My Writing Been This Year?

So recently, I read a post by a writing acquaintance. She was a self-published author but she's one of the few self-published authors who got picked up by a publisher and now her series is being reissued in trade. She was talking about how she couldn't keep up with the quick release dates necessary for self-publishing success and how having a publisher means more distribution for her work. Which is great! I'm so happy for her!

But it made me think about what and where I've been with my writing, because if I thought I was unfocused last year, then this year's been worse. Granted, until I quit one of my jobs in September, I was exhausted and working bizarre hours and stressed out and depressed, which is not a good recipe for being creative, at least for me.

I've written and finished two short stories this year--one is in my files, waiting for a home, and the other entered into a contest. I'm tinkering with a third short story. I have the half-written, half-or…

IWSG December

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It's the first Wednesday of December and time for the last IWSG post of the year 2018! The Insecure Writer's Support Groups posts of their writerly insecurities every first Wednesday of the month, founded by Alex J. Cavanagh. Check out the group here. 

This month's IWSG question is fun:

What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

1. My laptop

Also the instrument of my greatest distractions, my laptop is where I write in spurts.

2. Notebooks

I like to jot down my story ideas by hand on paper, so I have notebooks for separate story ideas and a small one for carrying around with me and jotting down ideas on the go. They live on my nightstand, right beside the recliner in which I perch.

3. Mug

Usually filled with either tea or water.

4. Books

Said recliner is wedged next to a bookshelf, where my ever-expanding book collection is. I don't re-read my books as much as I used to, but they are shelved right next to me and I can grab one quickly if I need to look …

Interview with House of Falling Embers author Krystal Jane Ruin!

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My friend Krystal Jane Ruin released her fourth book on October 1st and I finally finished reading it a few days ago! As per tradition, I asked her a few questions about the story!

House of Falling Embers is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, and other online retailers!


Once upon a time there was a witch. She was a kind witch, but that didn’t matter. The people were afraid, and fear often turns to hatred. When Artemis was thirteen, her best friend Aris was swallowed by the crumbling house they found in the woods. Like a coward, she abandoned him to the horror within. She moved away. She tried to forget. But when she finds herself back in her old neighborhood after college, the ghosts—and her guilt—are waiting. A charred figure stalks her dreams, and someone, or something, haunts her from the trees. Going back into the woods might be the only way to save her sanity. Because nine years later, the house is still there. Still waiting. Still restless. On with the interview! 1. Ca…

NYC from different perspectives

I've been noodling around with story ideas in the past week, including finally getting some actual word count words down on my Broadway romance idea, the first of four stories. It's...not going to be done any time soon, guys.

But thinking of that story world again is bringing me back around to one of the core components of the stories--the setting, my hometown, New York City.

Today we are having our first snow of this autumn/winter. It was supposed to be slushy sleet but no, it's definitely sticking-to-the-ground snow. Also, you may have heard that Stan Lee of Marvel Comics died a few day ago. Stan Lee was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx. He set many of the Marvel comics in New York. You can read about some of them here.

Peter Parker aka Spiderman is supposed to be from Queens!

Of the eight main characters in my stories, two are Queens natives, one was born in Brooklyn and raised in the suburbs on Long Island, and one was born and raised in New Jersey, the state…

IWSG November

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It's IWSG time again! The Insecure Writer's Support Group posts every first Wednesday of the month. Our co-hosts for November are:

And the IWSG question this month is: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,Ann V. Friend,JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman!
How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?
In short...I started writing as a kid, so I don't really remember much of life without writing. I used to draw a lot with crayons as a child--houses, anatomically incorrect people, but though I liked the different colors, I was mostly drawing things and making up stories about whatever was going on in my picture. 
And while I like other creative endeavors--I grew up in a city full of museums and theaters--I can't sing, dance, act, paint well or really even like talking to other people, so writing is my creative outlet. 

A Contest Submission

It's been a long time since I've entered anything I've written into a writing contest, but I submitted a short story "Lady Beatrice's Ball" to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest today.

For the past few years, the IWSG has run an anthology contest, where stories are submitted and short-listed and the winners are published in an anthology.

Check out the contest here. This year's genre was Young Adult romance and the theme was masquerade.

I haven't written very much Young Adult--and I read it very, very rarely--but I had a character from a story that crashed and burned a few years ago who worked for that age range. So, yay!

I always find it hard to write romance in shorter pieces. Wait, who am I kidding? Romance, as much as I read it and enjoy it, is hard for me to write in any length, but especially shorter. I tend to find romance short stories and novellas kind of unsatisfying because the romance plot has to be truncated.

Anyway.…

Dueling, Or: Men Are Stupid

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I am a pretty deep Hamilfan, y'know? I saw Hamilton in 2015 (still bragging), I watched the PBS Hamilton documentary twice, I'm currently reading the annotated Hamilton: The Revolution book on my Phone's Kindle app.

My nieces have recently gotten into Hamilton, but not because of me. Niece #1, aged 10, got to see Hamilton on Broadway with her aunt for her birthday. When the nieces went to visit friends this summer, said friends' children listened obsessively to the Hamilton cast album in their car. They came back knowing the songs and being excited about Hamilton's story, like so many others.

Their parents even took them to Weehawken, a New Jersey town across the Hudson from Manhattan, where Hamilton and Burr's fateful duel happened in 1804.


And I'm up to the "Ten Duel Commandments" chapter in the Hamilton book. And it's been a while since I've ranted about something historical.

It's long been my estimation that dueling is incredibly s…

An Update On My Writing Projects

Oh. Em. Gee.

An update on, like, actual writing projects? Whut? Now, admittedly, 2018 has not been my most prolific writing year. Working two jobs for most of the year and being in the midst of a career change is not conducive to a ton of time or inspiration.

Short Stories:

So far this year, I have completed a short story--a horror spec fic thing that I have yet to decide what to do with. It's based on an old Japanese myth about grandparents being taken into the mountains and woods during times of hardship and left to die from exposure to lighten the load of the family.

I'm in the middle of a true rip to shreds on a different short story that I'm going to enter into a contest.

Outlines:
My Broadway romance novel outline is still going. I'm almost done with it, but I can't get over the hump and I'm wondering if it means that I should just jump into a full draft already.

After the Broadway romance #1, there are three other planned stories in this potential series…

IWSG: October

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Welcome to October's Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post our writerly insecurities to the world every first Wednesday of the month. Check out the group here.


This month's IWSG question:
How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

To generalize--writing has helped me through some really dark times. I've written to pull myself back from the edges of the cliff. I write to alleviate anxiety. But during major life events--I find that maybe I have a harder time writing? Because major life events tend to keep a person busy and/or distracted from more inner life pursuits. 

Granted, I was in the middle of the editing process for Pearl when my grandfather died--and I think while writing it didn't help me cope with his decline, going through the self publishing process for the first time was something I could research and concentrate on at that time. 

Also, now that it's October...

An anthology I was lucky enough to be publ…

23andme results!

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As a quick refresher, when I blogged about my Ancestry DNA results, they were originally:



This week, Ancestry sent me an email and a refined result. Those were:


I hadn't gotten my 23andme results on Saturday, when the Ancestry update came through, but they were ready on Sunday!

Now, to be clear, I have been raised and identify as half Irish and half Japanese and all of these results bear that out. Now, in the original Ancestry results, there were tiny amounts of other kinds of European (which are now gone from the updated results): Scandinavian, Iberian, British. History tells us that Vikings, Normans, English, Spanish and of course, Celts, all ended up in Ireland and I thought, "Oh, cool! So there's little amounts of all those groups in my DNA!"

There may be trace amounts of Scandinavian, English, Scottish and maybe some Spanish there, based on 23andme's Broadly European bits.

But the Asian side! I'm so excited that it shows not only the Japanese DNA (but th…

Reading Challenge: 30 Books Read!

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Ancestry updates

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So, random Ancestry update here:

I received an email that one of my uncles and my cousin, I think, took an Ancestry test. (Well, Ancestry actually said, "Hey, you have close relatives on this thing now!") At the same time, Ancestry DNA said it had an update for me based on their tests becoming more refined:



Guys, they updated the Asian side!

And I guess I'm not part Finnish or Iberian or it's a really trace amount.

Still waiting on the 23andme results!

To read part one of this series, check it out here: Ancestry and WeGene

My Fave Broadway Moments

My friends and I went to see Pretty Woman: The Musical on Friday night, which isn't the point of this post because just twenty-four hours later, I've forgotten the vast majority of the music--still, the performances were amazing. Orfeh nearly sang the roof off. Andy Karl was charming, though my friends and I missed his cheekiness from Groundhog Day last year. And Samantha Barks, in her Broadway debut, was definitely a star.

Having said that, seeing the show--my first since seeing Moulin Rouge! in July--got me back to thinking of my Broadway romance series idea. And it made me recall a lot of special theater moments I've been lucky to experience:

-that time I won a lottery ticket for Rent, during the time Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal--the original Mark and Roger--were back in the show for a limited run--and my friend and I got to sit front row center
-Watching Audra McDonald tap dance in Shuffle Along while she was very pregnant
-Bandstand, the end of "Right This Way.&…

Ancestry and WeGene

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Several years ago, in a fit of insomnia, I bought an Ancestry.com DNA test.

I appointed myself the family historian a decade ago and I've done a decent job for a hobbyist of tracing my Irish roots back to County Mayo (the Japanese side is a bit more elusive). But a couple of years ago, I'd hit a wall in my family research. DNA testing for ethnic origins was the new thing, so I decided to give it a shot. I knew that it was new and still-developing and that those sorts of tests were reputedly not accurate and/or not remotely helpful for races other than white. Plus, of course, the way they compare my DNA to people who currently live in the countries isn't totally reflective of human migration and mating.

The Ancestry.com results:

These are my primary ethnicity estimates, which are correct as far as I know: my mother is Japanese, my dad is Irish-American. Three of my dad's grandparents were born in Ireland and immigrated to America; one of his grandmothers was born in New…

IWSG: September + House Of Falling Embers Cover Reveal!

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It is the first Wednesday of September--also the first day of school here in New York City--and it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! We post our writerly insecurities out to the world every first Wednesday!
Today's co-hosts are: Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin,M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

And the IWSG question of the month is:
What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why? 
So, as soon as I began to learn more about self- and indie-publishing and saw some writing friends go in that direction, I was intrigued. I used to intern at a literary agency. I know how much literary agents have to wade through in terms of the slush pile everyday. I even did a cursory querying process on a manuscript just to have a small experience of querying under my belt. I knew the ms wasn't publication-ready though.
But when the first thing I had an urge to publish turned out to be a novella, I thought self publishing was the route to take. It didn't seem worth t…

The Tenement Museum New York City

97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side is a tenement building. It's a five-floor walk up with two ground level commercial spaces. It was built in 1863 and before its apartments were shuttered and sealed in 1941, 97 Orchard Street was home to 15,000 people over the decades, immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, Italy, Ireland, and other countries, who settled on the Lower East Side.

I'd been taken to the Tenement Museum once as a child, but hadn't been back since, but I went with some friends on one of the Tenement Museum's tours recently. If you're ever in New York City, I highly recommend going on one of their tours of 97 Orchard Street. The tours run about an hour.

It's one thing to learn about the waves of immigrants that have come through Ellis Island--perhaps, like me, you have ancestors who came through Ellis Island--and to know that yeah, New York City is a city of immigrants. And maybe you learned about how the Lower East Side was an extremely densel…

Crazy Rich Asians: Representation Matters

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I went to see Crazy Rich Asians on Sunday. No matter what, I was going to actually put the effort in to get off my butt, put on pants, leave my house, ride the stuffy subway on a humid August day, buy a damn movie ticket, and go see this movie, even if I was a bit "meh" on the novel on which it is based.

I missed Allegiance when it was on Broadway and Miss Saigon (which, I mean, yay Asians on Broadway but anything based on Madame Butterfly ain't happening with me, yo). But let's be real, a studio-made popcorn summer film has a FAR bigger reach and implications than a Broadway show. So I fucking made the effort.



Crazy Rich Asians is the first Hollywood studio film starring an all-Asian cast in twenty-five years. TWENTY FIVE YEARS. I was seven years old when The Joy Luck Club came out. Or course, a lot's been made about Crazy Rich Asians being a big deal in terms of representation for Asian-Americans--and Asian-Americans and other Asians living outside of Asia speci…