Monday, January 26, 2015

Paperback Book List

My unread books shelf

One of my goals for the year is to read all the paper books I've acquired and not yet read since moving to Hong Kong. I still get most of my books on my Kindle, but sometimes I buy paper books at events and I actually really love getting them as gifts. The problem is that I get through these books much more slowly. My Kindle is always with me, but the paper books tend to sit on my shelves looking pretty. This year I am going to catch up. It helps that I no longer have a long commute. I'm much more likely to read a paperback at home than out and about. My Kindle has also been behaving fitfully lately, so I may need to order a new one soon if I can't get it sorted out.

Here are the paper books on my list for the year:

The Dreamer by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Paper Tigress by Rachel Cartland (from my publisher!)
Kisses for Katie by Katie Davis
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Blind by Rachel DeWoskin
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Unexploded by Alison Macleod
Owen's Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Accident by Chris Pavone
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Rough Justice by Lisa Scottoline
Home Leave by Brittani Sonnenberg
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (I borrowed this from someone, so it's the #1 priority!)
Petals from the Sky by Mingmei Yip

What's on your reading list for the year? Do you sometimes feel like you have a lot of catching up to do?!


P.S. Last week I recorded an interview for RTHK's State of the Art program. I'll let you know in advance when it's going to air! I was also on RTHK during the literary festival. Here's the link for the 10-minute segment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fused Society's Diversity Magazine

Hi everyone! I'm back in Hong Kong after a nice long visit with my family in Arizona. Jet lag has been getting me up before the sun every day this week, which is great for my productivity!

I wanted to take a moment to spread the word about a new project from Eva Cohen, one of the contributors to How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit. Fused Society is an arts publication and website celebrating non-homogeneous culture.

The magazine will include essays and artwork exploring mixed and fused heritages. If you have a complicated answer to the question "Where are you from?" you might be particularly interested in submitting your work! The submission guidelines for the second issue (on interracial relationships of all kinds) can be found here.

Here is a video explaining a bit more about the project:



The magazine will also feature the work of several Dragonfruit contributors! You can find out more at their website: Fused Society.

Fused Society is currently running a fundraiser on GoFundMe in case you're interested in supporting this endeavor.




P.S. There is still time to win a free copy of the new Pay Off audiobook. Check out this post for the details!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

PAY OFF, my student debt Kindle Single, is now an audiobook! (+ a giveaway)

I'm in Arizona preparing for my little sister's wedding tomorrow, but I wanted to make a quick announcement: Pay Off is now an audiobook! It has been so exciting to work with the lovely people at Audible and a very talented narrator.

This is my first audiobook, so I wasn't sure what to expect. After signing the deal, I was asked to listen to a bunch of samples on Audible.com and let the production team know if there were any narrators I particularly liked. Sandy Rustin was my first choice--and she was available!

Sandy Rustin has performed audiobooks for the likes of Meg Cabot, Barbara Freethy, and Cameron Diaz, but the sample that made me certain she would be the best narrator for Pay Off was for Jenna Miscavige Hill's Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. She has just the right balance of youth, humility, and earnestness in her voice for this book for Millennials struggling with student debt.

You can listen to the free sample of Sandy's rendition of Pay Off here.

Giveaway!

I also have the opportunity to give away a free copy of the audiobook, which goes for $6.95. (If you are already an Audible member you can listen for free anyway.) You can enter the drawing one of two ways:

1) Join my email list. I only use it to announce new releases, so you don't need to worry about spam from me.

2) Comment below with the three words you think of when you hear the words "student loans." Use this option if you're already on my email list, don't want to join, or want a second entry :).

The giveaway will run until Sunday, January 25th.

P.S. If you are an audiobook reviewer and would like a complimentary copy of Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years please email me at snyoung88 @ gmail.com!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

29 Things

At the beginning of last year I wrote a post with 13 things I did in 2013 and 14 plans for 2014. I prefer lists and planning to making resolutions. 2014 was kind of a banner year, so I figured I should start this year with a similar post. First, here are the 14 things I planned to do in 2014, and their results:

1. Launch the expat women in Asia anthology (with the help of the amazing contributors). Done! Here is How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? 
2. Finish polishing Seabound, book 1 in my post-apocalyptic adventure series. Done!
3. Write and revise the second draft of Seaswept (book 2). Done!
4. Write the rough draft of book 3 in the Seabound series. Done! (This was my 2014 NaNoWriMo project)
5. Write the second draft of the Seabound prequel, Burnt Sea. Nope. I ended up doing draft 3 of Seaswept instead. Burnt Sea is on my to-do list for January.
6. Polish and submit essay/e-book about paying off student debt. Done! Published as a Kindle Single called Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years
7. Publish third secret pen name e-book. Nope. The secret pen name shorts fell by the wayside. I wrote the beginning, but haven't been back to it in a while.
8. Write and publish fourth secret pen name e-book and publish a 4-book compilation. Nope. See above.
9. Submit my Hong Kong travel memoir to traditional publishers. Done! Now published by Blacksmith Books as Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. It's available in Hong Kong bookstores and online. The e-book is coming soon!
10. Choose a new pen name to use for Seabound and distinguish my SFF writing from my creative non-fiction/Hong Kong/expat-related work as Shannon Young. Done! Meet my alter ego Jordan Rivet here.
12. Build up savings now that I am debt free. Done! I quit my job to write full-time starting in August. I should make it another six months before I'll need an income again.
13. Learn to ski (in Canada at Chinese New Year). Done, but it was completely terrifying. I need a lot more practice.
14. Decide how to proceed with A Kindle in Hong Kong. Sort of. I've been posting a lot less, and I've decided not to accept books for review anymore. I like being able to read without as much pressure to review. I'm also bookspotting less often since I no longer commute to work. I'll continue to post whenever I have something to say. I also now have a column called Diary of an Expat Writer on The Displaced Nation where I post monthly updates.

I didn't carry out my secret pen name plans and I ended up working on a different Seabound Chronicles draft than the one I planned to do in #5. Overall, though, I'd say 2014 was a pretty successful year. I also spoke at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and got an audiobook deal for Pay Off, so I'd say that makes up for #7 and #8.

Now it's time to make plans for 2015! Here are 15 things I plan to do this year. My primary goal is to complete and publish the remaining three books in the Seabound Chronicles by the end of the year. Let's break that down a bit.

1. Rewrite Burnt Sea (the Seabound prequel).
2. Finish revising Seaswept (Seabound Chronicles 2).
3. Publish Seaswept in e-book and paperback.
4. Rewrite Seabound Chronicles 3.
5. Finish revising Burnt Sea.
6. Publish Burnt Sea in e-book and paperback.
7. Finish revising Seabound Chronicles 3.
8. Publish Seabound Chronicles 3 in e-book and paperback.
9. Write a memoir about growing up in a homeschooling family of nine kids, possibly of Kindle Single length, under the Shannon Young name.
10. Promote Year of Fire Dragons in Hong Kong and during the US/e-book launch.
11. Write a brand-new novel for NaNoWriMo, probably under the Jordan Rivet name.
12. Begin production of a Seabound audiobook.
13. Write one more secret pen name short, just for fun.
14. Read Infinite Jest (which has been on my Kindle for a long time) and all the paperbacks I have purchased or been given this year.
15. Make enough money from writing to avoid returning to my day job.

Thank you for all your support this year. I'm looking forward to a great (and busy!) 2015.

What are your plans or goals for the year?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ideal Gifts for my Ideal Readers

Last week, Jocelyn Eikenburg of the Speaking of China blog posted a list of book recommendations that would make good gifts for people interested in China, Hong Kong, and life in Asia. The list includes Year of Fire Dragons and How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit. Thank you, Jocelyn!

It's a great idea, but as many of my China/HK/Asia book recommendations are already on Jocelyn's list, I wanted to do something a little different. I thought about four kinds of people who might have read my books and what else I'd like to get them for the holidays (in addition to more books, of course).

The Newbie Expat

They read: How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia

I'd get them. . .

Books:
Home Leave by Brittani Sonnenberg (TCK novel, worth it for the beautiful hardcover alone)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (another take on displacement)
Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel DeWoskin (fast times in New China)

Other stuff:
Kindle or other e-reader (my very favorite thing)
Pimsleur language course (for conversation, not writing)
A nice scarf (you can never have too many scarves)

The English Teacher in Hong Kong

They read: Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong

I'd get them . . .

Books:
No City for Slow Men by Jason Y. Ng (the insider's perspective on our city)
Gweilo by Martin Booth (required background reading)
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee (beach read for Christmas in Thailand)

Other stuff:
Goods of Desire swag (especially those stacking mugs)
Octopus card key chain (got one from my MIL; best practical item ever)
Sote Gourmet Popcorn (newly opened on Robinson Road; they have candy cane popcorn!)

The Modern Romantic

They read: Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong

I'd get them . . .

Books:
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche (love at sea)
Made for You and Me by Caitlin Shetterly (love and life in America)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (love and mortal peril and superpowers)

Other stuff:
ModCloth dresses (so many pretty choices)
The new Taylor Swift album (I love her)
Dinner and a movie (I recommend The Hundred-Foot Journey)

The Determined Millennial

They read: Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years

I'd get them . . .

Books:
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (inspiration for creatives and self-employed entrepreneurs)
Quiet by Susan Cain (introverts unite!)
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (little things make a big difference)

Other stuff:
A blazer (makes you feel confident)
Amazon gift cards (use it for everything, but especially for books)
Spiral bound notebooks and erasable pens for checklists (checklists make everything better)



I wish I could go shopping for everyone who has read and enjoyed my books. Thanks for a great year, you guys! I've been holed up in the Starbucks on Queen's Road for most of the past two months working on the Seabound Chronicles. In the meantime, I've been spotting Year of Fire Dragons in more and more bookstores. You can also order it directly from the Blacksmith Books website. They offer free shipping within Asia!

I'm off to the US in a little over a week for my first Christmas at home in five years, the birth of my first nephew, and my little sister's wedding. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Bonus: Have a science fiction and fantasy fan in your life? I put a list of book recommendations on my Jordan Rivet blog that would all make awesome gifts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Notes from the Hong Kong International Literary Festival

My spoils from events with X-Men writer Marjorie Liu, expat novelist Brittani Sonnenberg, and Unexploded writer Alison MacLeod.

For the first ten days in November, authors from all over the world descended on Hong Kong for the annual International Literary Festival. People like Junot Diaz, Alison MacLeod, and Tash Aw entertained and inspired with talk of their work at venues all over the city. The Hong Kong International Literary Festival has always been important to me. It's where I met my first writers' group and my first author-hero (Peter Hessler). This year, I got to be a festival author too.

My event was a panel featuring Hong Kong-based writers. In addition to myself, we got to hear from Marshall Moore (publisher of Signal 8 Press) and Maria Chaudhuri. Jason Y. Ng sadly couldn't make it due to a flight delay, but the event was well-attended and lots of fun. Each author read aloud from their new books and then we had a fascinating discussion with the audience on my three favorite topics: writing, publishing, and Hong Kong.

Best of all, we launched my long-awaited memoir Year of Fire Dragons. The book arrived from the printer just in time for the event. I saw it for the first time myself the night before!

As a festival author, I also got to do a brief radio interview on RTHK and speak about being a writer at a local secondary school. (It made me miss my old students a lot.) The festival was a great success and I'm so glad I got to participate.


Now, Year of Fire Dragons is making its way into Hong Kong book stores. If you spot it, please tweet a picture to @ShannonYoungHK! If you're overseas, you can pre-order from Amazon or order directly from the publisher, Blacksmith Books. The e-book will be out soon!

Just before going on RTHK with Noreen Mir.

Did you attend any HKILF events? Which one was your favorite?



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Book Launches

Available for pre-order on Amazon
In a strange turn of events, I am in the process of launching two books this month. One is the Hong Kong travel memoir I have been talking about since this blog began, now titled Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong. Though I haven't yet held the book in my hands, it has been printed and will be appearing in Hong Kong bookstores any day now. I've written a bit more about this book's journey in my new column on The Displaced Nation.

If you are in Hong Kong, I would be honored if you would attend the launch event, which is part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. It will take place at 10 am this Sunday at the Duke of Windsor Building on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai. You can buy tickets here. The event will feature two other wonderful Hong Kong-based authors, Jason Y. Ng (No City for Slow Men) and Maria Chaudhuri (Beloved Strangers). I hope you can be there!



The other book I am launching this week is totally different. It's a post-apocalyptic adventure set at
$2.99 on Amazon
sea that began life as my NaNoWriMo project in 2012. It's available as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and the paperback will be for sale by the end of the month. This book is so different from my other work that I am publishing under a pen name, Jordan Rivet, for which I maintain a separate blog. If you happen to enjoy dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, please check out Seabound. To celebrate this launch, I am digging into another NaNoWriMo project: writing Book 3 in the Seabound Chronicles by Jordan Rivet.

Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement. I'll have more to say about Year of Fire Dragons soon, but in the meantime I just wanted to let you know about this surreal moment in my publishing life. 
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