Friday, July 15, 2016

We're Moving on Up!

Hi all who have dropped in to this blog! Sound a little... empty? Hollow footsteps? Echoes? It's because I've moved! My blog is now in swanky new digs on my very own website: It's a central hub for all things... me. Acting, Writing, and Blog. Bells and whistles. Hope you'll check it out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Little Movie, then FREE BOOKS!

Forget about Jurassic Park and Star Wars and Transformers 28: When Toasters Revolt; the trailer of the summer is here:


Yes, the trailer for Still Life Las Vegas, the one I worked on with Peter Hastings, where acclaimed Accordion Diva Gee Rabe dressed up and played for sweet music for us, has been officially introduced via St. Martin's Press.  It was all kinds of swell to make; primarily because Peter did all of the work and I just got to spin chairs around and do the voiceover.

Better yet, there's a FREE BOOK giveaway linked to the trailer. Just scroll down the description part under the video on youtube and it links you to Goodreads, which is doing the giveaway.
The drawing will be on June 11, so there's plenty of time to get your entry in. There are 25 books they are handing out, so right now, the odds are pretty good!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Adventures in Publishing: Blurbs and Lockdowns

This is especially true in publishing.
Hi all! It's been a red-letter day today. I started the morning from a Facebook message from rock star graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (writer of Boxers/Saints and ABC: American Born Chinese), someone whose books my son Ben and I both love (hey, Boxers/Saints got Ben interested in reading about HISTORY, so you know it's compelling). He had read an advance reader copy of my book  Still Life Las Vegas and was kind enough to give me a great blurb to use on the jacket. Time and time again, I've been amazed at the kindness of strangers, who
will give up their precious time to help a new author out by reading their work and (hopefully) liking it enough to lend their name. Many thanks to Gene, and y'all should read his most excellent work.

Next up, I discovered that a personal essay I submitted to the online magazine The Rumpus is up on their site! It's actually been there for five days, but, hey, I was kinda busy this weekend. The piece is called "Lockdown," and it's about a particularly harrowing time of my life a couple of years ago, right before I found my lit agent. They added great illustrations by Dana Schartz to the piece. It should be up for a little while longer— hope you can all check it out!

Now, to go and fix my garbage disposal.

PS. Just so I don't get too cocky or anything, I was in a fender bender this afternoon, pulling into Walgreens. Thanks, Yin & Yang! Way to keep me balanced!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Adventures in Publishing: The Beauty of a Page

On a previous adventure in publishing, I wrote about the cover designer  Young Lin from St. Martin’s Press, who created a cover I would want my book to be judged by.  But what about inside the book? Who’s responsible for what that looks like?

A month ago, I would have guessed— well, I wouldn’t have guessed at all, because I had never thought about it before. If pages flow nicely and are readable I don’t really think about who’s responsible. And if it were a book that had illustrations, I would assume that the illustrator had laid down the entire layout for the book. Makes sense, yes?

Not so, gentle reader.  

Enter the book’s interior designer, one of the true unsung heroes of this whole publishing process.

Interior design is not just a matter of taking my manuscript, choosing a font and pouring it into a layout. I had not realized how much went into it—choosing not only the type but how it’s spaced on the page, what the headers look like, how the title page gets laid out, how the illustrations fall on the page...

The job is even harder when you involve the author. I’m sure the words “What if…?” strike fear in the heart of every designer.

The interior designer responsible for the look of my book is the masterful Anna Gorovoy, who has woven together my words, Choi’s illustrations, and Lin’s cover into a flowing, seamless reading experience. 

I love how she took the torn paper from the cover and used it throughout the book. Fragments are what my book is all about! Really!

I also love how the header she chose ties in the graphic element to the prose narrative. 

And can I say how grateful I am that the editors allowed me to have some input? I mean, it’s a little risky to ask for an author’s opinion when a deadline looms, but they did. Anna had to put up with all my itsy-pooing—“Can the grayscale be maybe 10% lighter?” “How about we put the header type two points smaller?” “What if the car graphic were on one of those scraps of paper?”—but to Anna’s credit, she took my suggestions and tweaked the layout to everyone’s immense satisfaction. 

It’s gonna look great. 

Aren’t you just dying to get this book? Aren’t you? Are you sleepless, fretful, feeling that you might miss out? Never fear! Pre-ordering is available, (and helps me with my pre-order numbers, which are apparently pretty important). Pre-order at Amazon NOW and put your mind at ease!  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Embracing the Sheep

There is no good reason why I should love Lunar New Years. It's not a holiday I grew up celebrating. It always falls on a different date, taking me by surprise, sometimes still fatigued from the December holidays. It's also a gargantuan effort, at least the way I do it: combining the decorating of Halloween, the giving of Christmas and the cooking of Thanksgiving. But I can't help it. I'm crazy for  the Gong Hay Fat Choy (Or, if we want to get all Tet about it: the Chuc Mung Nam Moi).

Doug reminds me, when he's feeling particularly snarky or when I'm getting overly stressed about getting my red lanterns up in time, that I've completely made up this holiday. He has a point (a bitchy one, but a point nonetheless). I started celebrating the Lunar New Year when we adopted our son, Ben, from Vietnam, because I wanted him to be proud of his heritage, something I decidedly never was. All the traditions we followed (opening the doors at midnight, wearing new clothes, making the dumplings) were taken from children's books I bought for Ben. At his preschool, I became the de facto expert on the holiday, and I've stayed that way at his schools through the years, directing dragon parades, giving cooking demonstrations on fried wontons, orchestrating tiny lion dancers. And in our home, many other traditions, both culinary and otherwise, have stayed in place, year after year after year.

Yes, my amalgamation of different Tet/Chinese New Year traditions is largely of my own invention. ("Wait," Doug says, "you can't take a shower on New Year's Day?" "...Yes..." I say, "or wait, maybe it's you can't cut your hair. Let's do neither.") Maybe it's the fact that I have made up so much on my own that gives the holiday its appeal. Even the best holidays have a tinge of obligation to it, but this one? No one expects anything! If it happens, it's by dint of my own love for it. My sheer enjoyment of stringing up the lanterns, making the caramel sauce riblets, handing out the red envelopes. Better still, Ben loves the holiday, too. We've created our own family tradition. What's not to like about that?

And you can't beat those dumplings.

To all my friends and family: have a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous Year of the Sheep!