Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Reading Challenge: 30 Books Read!

I have reached 30 out of 35 books read in this year's self-imposed reading challenge. As usual, here are the books and links to my reviews below!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ancestry updates

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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

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." Corey Cott taking a breath and singing the very end of the song even higher (and he'd been pretty high already)
-All of Groundhog Day, but especially Andy Karl's facial expressions
-Sebastian Stan's abs in Picnic
-Aaron Tveit's "Roxanne" growl
-Corey Cott, again, singing the "This Is Life" reprise to Laura Osnes
-Once On This Island: Lea Salonga was just down the aisle from me, singing.
- How gorgeous "Falling Slowly" was in Once
-Hamilton. That is all.
-David Cook in Kinky Boots. I geeked out on this in this post. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ancestry and WeGene

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 Jersey to Irish immigrant parents. 

I'd figured with Irish history being what it was that my Irish side was likely quite mixed in a northern European kinda way. 

But my God, seriously--50% East Asian? That's still all Ancestry can give me in terms of that side of my family, by the way. Do you know how big East Asia is?! 

East Asia, from Wikipedia.
The Connacht, Ireland/North Connacht subheadings--which, yes, is the Irish region my family comes from--was added a couple of years after I'd turned in my original DNA test. It's a very specific region to highlight from DNA, I think, when they can't even differentiate between various ethnicities on the world's largest continent. 

These are my "low confidence regions"--places my DNA might trace to, but in small amounts:

So, there are parts of this that make sense and parts I have questions about. The Iberian peninsula--Spain and Portgual-- kind of makes sense; there was some Spanish migration to Ireland, but equally, the Basque region is Celtic, which Ireland also is so...am I part Spanish or just part Celtic? How was that 7% determined?

Finland? How....? Britain and Scandinavia make sense in a colonization and Vikings-in-Ireland kind of way. I don't even know about that Asia South thing. I guess it's on my white side, but how, I have no idea.

I'm not totally sure how recently or distantly Ancestry tests your DNA for--is it eight generations? Ten generations? What branches of the family tree are these trace regions showing up in? I have no idea. What the test did do was connect me on Ancestry to a bunch of people ranging from second cousins (and in fact, I've been able to find out through my family tree research how I'm related to second and third cousins) all the way out to 4th-6th cousins, where I have no idea who the common ancestor is because Irish Catholic records don't go that far back.

This Ancestry test remained a point of bemusement for the whole family for several years. It's not like being supposedly 1% of something has affected the way I identify myself, after all.

Since I've done the Ancestry test, a number of other DNA testing companies have sprung up. 23andme is the other big company offering DNA ancestry tests. Having already done one--and having become more aware of the way these companies make money off your DNA and other issues--I didn't want to take another one, especially if the company wasn't offering a decent reference population for Asians. But my mom's friend's daughter--also half Japanese, half European--took a 23andme test and got interesting (and accurately Asian) results. 

Then I started watching YouTube videos of people taking the 23andme test and not only learning their ethnic origins, but also being able to trace their haplogroups and getting a timeline of when these various ethnicities came into their family gene pool, so to speak. 

I was like, "That'd be cool to know my maternal haplogroup. And ooh, timeline! I might find out where that Finnish DNA freaking came from! Or, you know, anything about the Asian side."

23andme was having a sale, so I bought one, spit in a tube, and sent it off. 

And while I was waiting for the 23andme test to get to me, I found out about a Chinese site called WeGene where you can upload your info from Ancestry or 23andme and if you're Asian, WeGene can help break down those admixture tests by various Chinese and other Asian ethnic and regional groups, which is super cool.

Their reference population for Europeans must be tiny or non-existent because all the DNA that I know is Irish is showing up as French on WeGene. This is the WeGene breakdown of my Ancestry test:

I guess out of that 50% East Asian per Ancestry, I'm 44% Japanese! And I'm a tiny bit Chinese (not surprising), a tiny bit Cambodian (ooh, is that why my great-grandmother was supposedly tanned with wavy hair?), a wee bit Uzbek, and Sindhi, an ethnic group native to present day Pakistan. I mean, who knows if this is remotely true or not--except the 44% Japanese, of course, that's totes correct--but it's a lot more interesting than "50% East Asian."

But because it's based on my Ancestry results, I'm still not sure of a timeline or how long ago some of this DNA was--and if Irish is coming up as French on WeGene, who knows what else might be something different from the breakdown they're giving me?

Currently waiting on my 23andme results. I'll definitely post when I get those!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG: September + House Of Falling Embers Cover Reveal!

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 the time and energy to query agents in the trad lane for a 100-page novella. And I'll self-pub again, as soon as I have something ready to do so. 

But I like the idea of being a hybrid author, too. "Haunted Lake" was trad pubbed by a small publisher in an anthology and I enjoyed the experience. 

And now for my friend Krystal Jane Ruin's cover reveal!!

House of Falling Embers
Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: October 1st 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Retelling
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.

Author Bio:
Krystal is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction, living in the Tennessee Valley with a collection of swords and daggers. When she's not hoarding stuffed pandas, hourglasses, and Hello Kitty replicas, she can be found in a YouTube hole or blogging about books, writing, and random things at KrystalSquared.net.