Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dragonfruit Anthology Cover Reveal and Blurbs!

I'm very excited to reveal the cover for the expat women in Asia anthology today! I love the vibrant feeling and the way the colors turned out. I'm so proud that this cover will showcase the stories contained in the anthology. The designer for the project was Justin Kowalczuk (you can see more of his work on the S8P website).

It is now just one month and ten days until the official release of the book. I've been working on this project for quite a while now, and I can't wait for you all to read it!

Here are what two writers whose names you might recognize had to say when they read an advance copy of the book:

"How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit is an eclectic, soulful collection of stories by badass women who have adventured far out of their comfort zones. Full of candid observations about travel, language, food, self and other, it’s a book for anyone who has ever felt peripheral, upside down, culturally shocked or inspired. In other words, a book for all of us." 
-- Rachel DeWoskin, author of Foreign Babes in Beijing, Repeat After Me, Big Girl Small, and Blind.

"A unique and inspiring collection of voices that calls up all the wonder, fascination, challenges, disorientation, and delights faced by women expats throughout Asia. I was moved by the breadth of experiences included in this anthology at the same time that I fell in love with one thread running throughout: how the expatriate journey takes us away from ourselves and then ultimately delivers us back, richer, wiser, and even more aware of how our own identities fit within our wide, wide world."
-- Tracy Slater, author of The Good Shufu: A Wife in Search of a Life Between East and West (forthcoming from Putnam, 2015)

The anthology now has an official page on the Signal 8 Press website (includes links for all the contributors) and you can also like the Facebook page for updates.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Tour for Ghost Cave: a novel of Sarawak by Elsie Sze

This week I have the honor of kicking off the blog tour for Elsie Sze's excellent work of historical fiction, Ghost Cave: a novel of Sarawak. The story, set primarily in the mid-1800s and the 1960s, follows the adventures of two young men as they chase ideals, fortunes and love in the jungles of Borneo. Set in a fascinating--but largely unexplored--period of history, it contains surprises at every turn. A long-ago tragedy, a buried treasure and a harrowing guerrilla war are just part of what makes this exceptional tale a highly recommended read.

I worked on the publication of Ghost Cave, and I'm excited to share it with anyone who has an interest in the history of Malaysia, the life of Chinese immigrants in Borneo, and a touch of the supernatural.

Elsie's blog tour starts here, with the video interview we recorded when Elsie was in Hong Kong for her book launch at the FCC.

On Tuesday, you'll find a review of the book by Susan Blumberg-Kason, who has excellent taste and blogs often about the Asia Pacific region.

On Wednesday, dedicated Hong Kong book blogger and Women in Publishing Society member Laura Besley will review Ghost Cave.

Then, on Thursday, you can head back to Susan Blumberg-Kason's site for a guest post by Elsie herself, which is sure to be fascinating.

Finally, on Friday you can find a written interview with Elsie back on Laura's blog.

Visit Elsie's blog on Saturday for a full list of any links you missed, more reviews of the novel, or just to say hello!

Now, here is Elsie Sze telling us more about her writing and her family connection to the story:

You can find Ghost Cave: a novel of Sarawak in Hong Kong bookstores, online worldwide in paperback and all major e-book formats (Kobo, Nook, Apple), and of course on Amazon Kindle.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kindle Single and Book Deal

 I've been looking forward to announcing some big news after the expat women anthology cover reveal (coming soon I promise!). Well, I now have some (arguably) bigger news, so I'll just put both things into one post.

First, my story about how I got rid of $80,000 in student debt has been accepted for publication by the Kindle Singles program. I found out about a month ago, and I have been working on the piece with my editor (!) since then. In addition to editing, the Kindle Singles program provides proofreading, cover design, and formatting, and they work very fast. Soon, I'll have a cover to show you. PAY OFF will be available on Amazon in May, just in time for graduation. Thank you so much to everyone who shared stories about their struggles with student loans with me!

Second, I've found a wonderful publisher for my travel memoir about my first year in Hong Kong. As you guys know, I followed my long distance boyfriend to Hong Kong in 2010. A month later his company sent him to London. Part love story, part coming-of-age, the memoir is a wide-eyed newcomer's account of Hong Kong that I hope will resonate with anyone who loves this city. After trying it out in the US market, receiving my fair share of rejection letters, and getting advice from a few key people, I tried it directly in the HK market. Blacksmith Books, the premier publisher of HK-focused non-fiction, has decided to publish the book. I'll have more information about release dates, events, blurbs, covers, etc. in the future. For now, I'm so grateful that the first manuscript I started working on (which looks almost nothing like the current version) has finally found a home.

It has been interesting so far to experience these two different publishing models. For the Kindle Single, I wrote the piece primarily during a coffee-fueled Christmas break. The time from when I typed the first words to when the Single will be for sale is about five months. My editor and team are located in New York City and we communicate entirely by email. PAY OFF will be an e-book-exclusive available only on Amazon.

The Hong Kong memoir has been more than three years in the making and it is the book in which I learned how to write. Although I spent a lot of time waiting to hear back from non-responsive agents in New York, ultimately the time has allowed me to make this a much better book than it was the first time I declared it "finished". Fortunately, Blacksmith moves a lot faster than a typical New York publisher, so the book will still be available a year earlier than it would have been if I signed a deal with Random Penguin et al today. The Blacksmith office, where I signed my book deal on April 22nd, is located across the street from where I lived during the events of the book, and it's actually closer to where I live now than all of my favorite coffee shops. I have the opportunity to enjoy direct, in-person communication with my publisher and, hopefully, to do all kinds of local publicity events. The book will be available on all major online retailers as a paperback and e-book and in bookstores in HK and abroad.

So far, I've had fun celebrating these developments by opening a bottle of red wine and going to my usual Tuesday night writers' group. I'm excited to share more news as it develops. If you would like to be notified when these books are out, you can sign up for my email list at

If, like me, you're a Kindle junkie, you can sign up to have Amazon notify you directly by clicking the link under Stay Up To Date on my author page.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Introducing the Expat Women in Asia Anthology

More than a year ago, 86 female writers who are or have been expatriates in East Asia submitted personal stories for inclusion in an anthology of creative non-fiction from Signal 8 Press. I had the good fortune to read these stories of displacement, love, and adventure and to select 26 for publication in the collection.

How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia will be available in paperback and e-book formats on 10 June 2014. You can follow the Facebook page here.

Now, I'm proud to introduce the 26 writers whose words made me laugh, cry, and think a little deeper about the expat experience:

Neha Mehta
Barbara Craven
India Harris
Saffron Marchant
Coco Richter

I was honored to be able to work with these writers on their beautiful stories. I hope you'll take a look at their blogs and books.

Next, I'll unveil the cover design and share a few kind words about the anthology from some advance readers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life, Links, and Literary Death Match

Photo by Nicole Kong
 Hello! This blog is overdue for an update, and I have quite a few things to share. Actually, there are a couple of extra big news items and some pretty awesome books I want to tell you about, so I'm going to spread them over a few posts.

First: life. I still like Hong Kong. I love being married. My writing is taking on a life of its own. There are now three writing groups in my life: Tuesday meet-ups at Holly Brown for writing-with-company, once a month reading-wine-food salons, and most recently a critique-and-polish group that is helping me get through serious revisions of my post-apocalyptic series-in-progress. I'm so grateful to live in a city with so much writing energy all over the place.

Second: links. Recently I had a chance to participate in a podcast interview on Snipits of Time called Creative Habits. It's about my writing habits and inspirations and includes the story of how I got the idea for SEABOUND. Next up is the recap of the recent Women in Publishing Society event of the year: the IMPRINT Launch. The event demonstrated the literary energy that seems to be gathering steam around Hong Kong. We had the added pleasure of launching the novel that won the inaugural Saphira Prize: Ghost Cave: a novel of Sarawak by Elsie Sze. I helped manage the publication of this novel and formatted the ebook (part of why I haven't had time for blogging), and it was exciting to celebrate its official release. I had the opportunity to interview the lovely author when she came to Hong Kong, and you can watch the video here.

Third: Literary Death Match! The third episode of Literary Death Match in Hong Kong took place a few weeks ago, and I was one of the competitors! I read a true story about my family in Arizona and a certain pet boa constrictor. It was lots of fun, and the judges said some really nice things. The highlight was when the one and only Nury Vittachi looked straight at me and said, "Shannon, you're a real writer." In the final round, we played a game where we had to guess the famous novel based on one-star Amazon reviews. My husband and I teamed up to claim the victory! Here's the recap from the LDM blog.

In my next post there will be some exciting stuff about the expat women anthology, and then I'll post my big news!

What are you guys excited about lately? Any reports of growing literary enthusiasm in your town?
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