Showing posts from March, 2016

The Thing That Turned Me: An Anthology

For the past few months, I've been posting teasers and giving hints about the upcoming anthology, The Thing That Turned Me, and my short story contribution to it.

Well, I'll tell you! "The Disappearance of Miss Mary Dawkins" (quite a long title for a short story) is part of the backstory from my shelved-and-scrapped novel The Keegans of Banner's Edge, which then got scraped up and reshaped into Pearl.

I have a long habit of giving my characters elaborate backstories. Super elaborate backstories."Mary Dawkins" is an instance of that; I needed a mother for Miles Keegan's white daughter and a reason why the mother isn't in the picture anymore.

Alexandra Keegan's parents tell her that her birth mother died in childbirth.

But she didn't.

You'll have to wait until May 31st to find what exactly happens, but suffice it to say Mary Dawkins is caught in a tough spot for 1793 Boston--she's unmarried, she's been involved with a few men, …

Japanese Holidays

I was reading a post on writing friend Michelle Tran's blog some time ago. She talked about celebrating Lunar New Year and how she wanted to incorporate more of the Vietnamese traditions she grew up with to celebrate the holiday.

Which got me thinking about Japanese holidays or traditions that I've celebrated since I was a child. Of course, it seems totally second nature to me in some ways, but actually, some of these celebrations have fallen by the wayside as my cousins and I have grown up.

And I realized that I should blog about it, because, um, why not? Also, it's St. Patrick's Day, so let's write about the other half of my heritage!

New Year's Day

Japan does not celebrate Lunar New Year. Japanese New Year is January 1st. But it's a super important holiday! It's called shogatsu in Japanese (o-shogatsu) and when you see people, you say, "Akemashite omedetou." I have no idea what the literal translation is.

Then there's symbolic food. It&#…

11 Books Read

This year, for my Goodreads reading challenge, I am aiming for 44 books, so I'll be doing my lists in increments of 11. I just finished book 11 of the year five minutes ago (it was a hardcover, coffee table-type not exactly a huge challenge to read), so here we go!

Also, I'm actually writing reviews for all of the books I read this year, so the titles are linked to the reviews.

1. The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliot, Anne Gracie, Susan King. Fiction/Anthology/Historical Romance/Regency/Holiday. 3 stars.

2. Alexander Hamilton* by Ron Chernow. Non-fiction/Biography/American history. 4 stars.

3. Washington: A Life* by Ron Chernow. Non-fiction/Biography/American history/Politics. 4 stars.

4. Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War Letters Of Vera Brittain and Four Friends edited by Mark Bostridge. Non-fiction/Letters/History/World War One/England. 4 stars.

5. Testament of Youth: …

Goodbye, Downton Abbey!

Well, Downton Abbey's series finale aired here in the U.S. I've already seen the sixth and final season when it aired in the fall, but I watched it again as it was broadcast here in the United States.

Personally, I loved the finale. There were some nicely tied-up storylines and plenty of feel-good moments.

I really enjoyed this season, but I can't help but wonder what'll happen to the fictional Crawleys and their small cohort of servants after we, the viewing audience, has left them at midnight on New Year's Day, 1926.

Needless to say, spoilers.

My Writing Mission Statement

If I have any kind of mission statement when it comes to the things I want to write, it boils down to:

 historical fiction from a diverse, female, or some sort of "other" perspective.

Some people I've come across in my life have acted like my very existence could only be a modern thing.

"But you're Irish and Japanese! I mean, like, what is that?"

...Because they think people of different races didn't ever meet until the twentieth century?

If you think that, go read Pearl. Better yet, go read Bury the Chains or Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, look up Dido Belle, read about Noor Inayat Khan, read Tidewater, Google Dejima and the Silk Road, and check out the book up there. I read it in elementary school and it was the only book I read as a child that came even close to reflecting me and my experiences.

Of course, in the past few years, We Need Diverse Books has emerged as a way to get diverse characters and authors in front of readers, librarians, …

IWSG: Reading Differently

This is the IWSG post for March. The IWSG is a great group for writers at all stages, where we commune and discuss our writerly insecurities every first Wednesday of the month. March's co-hosts are: Lauren Hennessy,Lisa Buie-Collard,Lidy,Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard!

Years ago, a writing professor told me that the more I wrote, the more I read, the more I might not enjoy reading for the sake of reading as I used to, that writing more seriously would change the way I read things.

Y'all, it's happened. I mean--it's been happening. I know it has. It's not that I've grown pickier over what I read--seeing what I've been reading laid out on Goodreads has actually shown me my own reading habits and forced me to go and find other things to read.

But I am a lot more critical of what I read. I decided to review every book I read this year, when in the years past, I only reviewed the ones I felt compelled to.

I read a historical romance last week and while the …