Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cover Reveal for Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong

Drumroll, please! I'm so excited to reveal the cover of my new travel memoir Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. This is the first book I started writing, and it will be published by Blacksmith Books, an excellent Hong Kong-based publisher, at the end of October.

Cara the designer did a wonderful job of capturing the story, which is about my first year in Hong Kong. The main drama of the book follows my thwarted long distance romance, but it's also about my love affair with the city of Hong Kong and I think the cover captures that beautifully. The illustration reminds me of Love with a Chance of Drowning (UK edition), a book sharing similar themes of love, travel and self discovery.

The book should hit the shelves, virtual and literal, at the end of October, just in time for the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. This is probably a good time to announce that I'll be speaking at the festival this year! I'll visit a school as part of the Young Readers program and be a speaker at one of the big events. I'll share more details about that soon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Mid-Autumn Eve's Dream

video


I'm back in Hong Kong just in time for my favorite part of the year: Mid-Autumn Festival. This was the first holiday I experienced when I moved to Hong Kong four years ago, and I'm very happy to be marking the beginning of my fifth year here in Asia's World City.

As you know, I spent the month of August in Arizona writing with my mom and getting in plenty of quality family time. We enjoyed some nice afternoons working in local restaurants and coffee shops (including Liberty Market and Coffee Rush, where I used to spend a lot of time grading essays). We visited a local writers' group and attended a talk with Southwest novelist Jo-Ann Mapson. I even got to check out First Draft Book Bar with my sister, which is literally a bar inside a bookstore. 

The trip was reasonably productive, too. I wrapped up a draft of the sequel to my forthcoming post-apocalyptic novel, worked on a new group of articles for Modern Love Long Distance, and reread the entire Harry Potter series. My mom wrote 500 words a day and she's getting ready to launch a cool new blog that I'll tell you about as soon as she lets me!

Perhaps one of the best things that happened while I was out of town was that I got to see some cover designs for my memoir that is being published by Blacksmith Books later this fall. It's called Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. The story begins and ends at the Mid-Autumn Fire Dragon Dance in Tai Hang (video above from 2011). It's hard to believe that my dream of having this book published will be coming true very soon. The cover we settled on is so beautiful and I can't wait to show you guys the final version!

For the first time, I'm not returning to school as the autumn begins. I'm giving my dream job a chance, and so far, I'm absolutely loving this writing life. Thank you all so much for your continuing support and enthusiasm. If you're in Hong Kong, I hope you have a safe and happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On a Writing Holiday in Arizona



I hope you guys are all having a terrific summer! I wanted to post a quick update on what I've been doing this summer.



My husband and I went on a beautiful Alaska cruise to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. It also served as a research trip for my post-apocalyptic series, which takes place on a souped-up cruise ship. I disembarked with a phone full of inspirational photos and a notebook full of ideas (and new vocabulary) to use in my final revision of SEABOUND and in the later books in the series. Plus, Alaska was super pretty. Highlights included seeing humpback whales, cruising through Glacier Bay and taking a historic mining train into the mountains from Skagway.


Next, we drove from Seattle to Bandon, Oregon to spend a week at my grandparents' farm. Highlights included a post-crabbing BBQ, blueberry and blackberry picking and hanging out with a bunch of my relatives.



Now, I'm in my hometown: Gilbert, Arizona. I'll spend August with my family before heading back to Hong Kong. As I've shared before, I recently quit my day job to write full-time for six months. My mom is also concluding her day job in her own way this fall. Over the past 27 years, she has raised and homeschooled nine children. Next week, my youngest sister will start full-time school (7th grade). For the first time, my mom will be free for eight hours a day. And she wants to write! So for the month of August we'll be writing together and helping each other build good habits as full-time writers. I'm incredibly excited about this, and I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

If you happen to be in Arizona and want to meet up this month, please email me! snyoung88@gmail.com. We'll be checking out a few writing workshops and meet-ups, and investigating the local writing scene.

What are you up to this summer? Have you read any good books lately?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GOOD CHINESE WIFE by Susan Blumberg-Kason



THE GIST:

A young American woman meets and quickly marries a man from central China while living in Hong Kong. Soon, she discovers she doesn't know him as well as she thought.

THE VERDICT:

If you occasionally read the comments of this blog, you'll probably recognize the name Susan Blumberg-Kason. She is a huge fan of books (both fiction and non-fiction) about China in general and Hong Kong in particular. Susan lived in Hong Kong as a young woman, right before the Handover. Now, I'm excited to participate in the blog tour for Susan's own memoir, Good Chinese Wife. It's the dramatic story of Susan's marriage to a dashing musician from central China named Cai who turns out to be a moody and tumultuous partner.

Good Chinese Wife explores the rapid breakdown of a marriage between two people from different cultures who don't quite manage to communicate. They can speak each other's languages, but Susan and Cai can't break through barriers of culture and insecurity to make their marriage work. Hints of infidelity and emotional abuse begin to emerge, but Susan is caught between her desire to be considerate of Cai's worldview and her need to protect herself. Their troubles are compounded when their son is born and they move to San Francisco, where Cai experiences depression and culture shock and Susan finds herself the sole breadwinner for not just her husband and young son, but also her in-laws and the occasional unwelcome houseguest.

A very important part of this story is that Susan acknowledges her own mistakes while describing an untenable situation. She recognizes that she was rash and naive in jumping into her marriage with Cai. She was starstruck by his good looks, charm, and the fact that she was in love with Chinese culture already. She's also frank about the way she was treated as she describes her journey through insecurity to the point where she would finally stand up for herself and her son. Although the account is painful at times, it's a revelatory look at what can happen when two people (regardless of culture) have very different expectations for their life together. This is an honest and vulnerable memoir that will appeal to people who are interested in cross-cultural relationships, especially those between Asian men and Western women.

THE LINK:

Susan Blumberg-Kason's website features reviews of many Hong Kong and China-related books.
Susan also has a story in my anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia that serves as an epilogue to this memoir.
You can find links to the other blogs in this tour at Speaking of China. Many deal specifically with relationships between Asian men and Western women.

THE COST:

$9.99 for the Kindle edition

THE QUESTION:

How do you think marriage expectations differ between Chinese and American culture? Do you think the troubles of this story are primarily due to cultural differences or due to the personalities of the couple involved?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bookspotting Backlog + A Week Without Internet


Thank you all for following along as I've been introducing the Dragonfruit anthology contributors and beginning this exciting new phase in my life. A few days ago I announced my brand new SFF pen name and my plan to write full-time for the next six months. Here's a post about how I chose my new name.

I'm about to head to the US for the summer holidays. Before I go, there's bookspotting to report!

I've lost track of when these spottings occurred, but recently I've seen people reading Matilda, a Jeffery Deaver novel, and a book called Poor Economics. I saw a man on the train reading with his lips moving. I thought his book was called Model Dancers, but I'm not sure that title actually exists. Other readers had copies of Dan Brown's Inferno, A Sister's Gift, and a Lord of the Rings book (I think it was Two Towers). I spotted two different copies of The Fault in Our Stars. A woman next to me on the train was reading God's Plan for Pregnancy. I've spotted Chinese books, textbooks, and Hong Kong guidebooks in abundance. Finally, there's a couple that reads side-by-side on matching Kindles at a restaurant near my home almost every weekend. I'm always happy to see them.

I'm reading the third book in the Breakers series by Edward W. Robertson. My Kindle is stocked for the next few weeks, and the book I'm most excited about is The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith ;).

My husband and I are flying to the US tonight, where we'll go on a one-week Alaska cruise, celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and then visit my family. We've decided not to purchase the internet package for the cruise, so we'll be completely off the grid. I'm actually really excited about the prospect!

I expect there will be bookspotting to report when I return. Meanwhile, if you'd like to see the secret cover reveal for my new post-apocalyptic novel tomorrow please kindly sign up for the email list.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I just cut my hair and quit my day job to become a full-time writer!


Yesterday, I left my day job to become a full-time author. For now, at least, this is a six-month trial. I'll give it a go and then reassess around Chinese New Year. After paying off my student loans, I'm really excited to be able to take this risk. I decided to celebrate the change by cutting over 18 inches off of my hair and announcing my new pen name!

In addition to my work as Shannon Young, I will be writing post-apocalyptic adventure novels set at sea under the name Jordan Rivet. The Seabound Chronicles launches this fall. Please join my email list if you'd like to know when the first book is out!

I'll also be doing a cover reveal and an exclusive $0.99 early release sale for subscribers.

Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dragonfruit Round-up 5: Pamela Beere Briggs, Jennifer S. Deayton, Neha Mehta, Dorcas Cheng-Tozun and Shannon Dunlap

We have been introducing the contributors to the Dragonfruit anthology in reverse order for the past 26 days on our Facebook page. In case you missed any of them, here are the final 5:


Pamela Beere Briggs, author of The Truth about Crickets (Japan)

Born in Japan, Pamela Beere Briggs spent her first decade in Kobe. She moved "home" to Napa, California in 1968. Realizing years later that "Napa" is "Japan" spelled backwards without the J describes her memory of leaving: turned around with a missing piece.

She went on to become an award-winning documentary filmmaker and has written essays for a variety of publications. She is currently working on three World War II novels for middle-grade readers and blogs with her teen daughter at Two in the Middle.

You can also find Pamela on Facebook.



Jennifer S. Deayton, author of Bread and Knives (Hong Kong)


Jennifer S. Deayton is a writer and filmmaker who lives in Hong Kong. You can find her work on NatGeo, Discovery TLC and at the recent Los Angeles New Media Film Festival. She writes about music and motherhood at The Rock Mom, where she indulges her love for indie pop music and '70s & '80s R&B and has a laugh about the perils of parenting. She's recently completed her first novel.

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @arockmom




Neha Mehta, author of Bangkok Through the Eyes of an Indian Girl (Thailand)

Neha Mehta is a freelance writer. She has a master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism and has worked with several newspapers and magazines. She has written articles for several medical portals like MedGuru and MedIndia. While living in Bangkok, she worked as a lecturer at Assumption University of Bangkok and was associated with Bangkok-based magazine Masala, which caters to the Indian community in Thailand. She now lives in India.




Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of The Weight of Beauty (China)

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is a writer, editor, and blogger whose essays and short stories have appeared in over a dozen publications in the US, UK, and Hong Kong. "The Weight of Beauty" is an excerpt from her full-length memoir about her experience as a Chinese American woman in modern industrial China, which turned her perspectives on her family, her culture of origin, and her own sense of identity upside down and inside out. She is a winner of The Well's recent Call for Stories writing competition. In between blogging about her adventures as a new mom, Dorcas is a regular contributor to Asian American Women on Leadership and managing editor of the blog Estuaries. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency.

Prior to becoming a writer, Dorcas worked as a nonprofit and social enterprise professional for over ten years. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and adorable hapa son.

Learn more or read her other works at her website.




Shannon Dunlap, author of Forwarding Addresses (Cambodia) 


Shannon Dunlap is a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction.

While living in Cambodia, she was a regular columnist for The Phnom Penh Post and created the blog Forwarding Addresses with Jason Leahey. They now edit the blog PitchKnives & Butter Forks, telling stories of food from the seed to the platter. In one recent post, Shannon tells the tale of her favorite Cambodian dish.

Shannon is a graduate of the MFA program at New York University. She currently lives in Brooklyn and is working on a novel for young adults.


You can find buy your very own copy of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia at the following links:

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