Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks - 10 Books in 10 Months

So I've been thinking long and hard about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks phenomenon. I'm really excited about the positive responses, and have about a million tweets of my own on the subject, but I don't want interest in diverse YA fiction to fizzle out after the campaign is over. That's why I'm pledging to spend the next ten months reading diverse YA. 

On May 3rd, in support of the Diversify Your Shelves initiative (see more here), I'll buy ten books, all featuring diverse protagonists. I'll then spend each month reading a new book, and will post my review and thoughts on this blog. 

I love any excuse to buy books, but this is for an especially good cause. When I was reading YA as a child, I had ONE role model: Claudia Kishi from The Babysitter's Club. I'm thankful that I had such a fun, artistic, creative Asian protagonist to look up to (much love to Ann M. Martin), but I wish there had been more. By supporting diverse books and diverse authors, I hope to show 1) the incredible range and talent of these works and 2) and the need for us to have even more! 

Want to participate? Let me know your book recommendations! Share your own reviews! 

Hope to hear from you. :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

55 Word Challenge

Calling all writers out there! :)

Check out the 55 word challenge here. The next prompt is Wednesday -- a selection of photos are posted on their blog, and you have to pick one and write a story about it in 55 words or less. What a great way to fine tune your flash fiction skills! You can share your story on twitter, your own blog, the official 55 Word Challenge blog, or the comments section below; just remember to add #55WordChallenge as a hashtag. Hope to read your stories!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Diverse Lit

So yeah, I'm an Asian writer. I was born and raised in Honolulu, the most diverse city in the US, and had a very unique American childhood. Some of this personal background pops up in my writing. I have a novel in the works that deals with growing up in Hawaii, and then having to move to a rural town in the Midwest. More details to come.  :)

I've always been sensitive about race and diversity when writing, so I was fascinated to learn about the #diverselit phenomenon on Twitter. Basically, it's a lively conversation about diversity in fiction, how to embrace and celebrate diversity, and what authors' responsibilities are when it comes to creating fully-dimensional characters. I love the ideas that are flying about, and wholly endorse diversity. Octavia Butler's sci-fi works are amazing because they are presented through the lens of race. Cynthia Kadohata is a YA writer whose portrayals of immigrant experience remain with me, years after reading. And there's a whole herd of great local Hawaiian writers who will give you a different perspective of " paradise." Ask me for reading recommendations! I have many!

As for me, writing about race hasn't been easy. There's a bit of an assumption that if you're of Asian descent, you'll be writing some version of the immigrant experience. In my case, I'm four generations removed from that event. I feel more American than anything else, with English as my only language (despite attempts at German and Spanish). The foods I grew up eating was a melting pot of a dozen different cultures, many specific to the islands. Sometimes putting myself out there as a representative of diversity seems like a fraud, and I'm afraid of cheapening other people's experiences. 

And now here's the shocking reveal: 'The End of You and Me' takes place in a suburb of New York. All the main characters are white, and largely middle-class. 

I struggled with this choice. I considered making one of the characters Asian-American. But ultimately, I felt that the decisions I made fit the particular story I was telling. Will I make this same decision for future works? Probably not. There are a lot of stories left to tell, and I know I have the unique privilege of telling them. 

So what do you think? Do writers of color have the responsibility of writing "what they know"? Can white authors write from diverse points of view? How can we make literature stronger and more inclusive? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway!

It's official! I'm giving away two autographed paperback copies of The End of You and Me on Goodreads.

The giveaway will run for a few months, but sign up for your chance now!

If you're not familiar with Goodreads, I suggest you sign up and take a look. I use it to keep a running tab of the books I've read, as well as find exciting new authors and YA fiction. Overall, it's a fantastic tool.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why I Love YA Fiction (And Why You Should Too)

I officially stopped reading YA novels when I was thirteen years old. I was sick of reading about homecoming, first love, and cafeteria food. That summer, I plunged head first into adult novels, starting with Stephen King. I distinctly remember lying in bed, binge-reading IT, and feeling very, very mature (also, slightly spooked).

Fast forward to my junior year in college. I was living in a very small town, and had an even smaller bookstore budget. I hit the local library, and within six months had read almost every contemporary novel on the shelf. In desperation, I turned to the YA section.

And what I found was a revelation. Yes, there were still novels about homecoming, first love, and bad high school food. But the children's librarian has also managed to sneak in daring, subversive novels. It was here that I discovered Francesca Lia Block and her wonderful Weetzie Bat books. I read Nancy Farmer's pivotal Annie on my Mind. I fell in love with Sonya Hartnett and David Almond. 

It didn't stop there. I'm constantly finding YA novels that push boundaries and ask thought-provoking questions about societal norms. Is it a coincidence that dystopian fiction has found a cozy niche in YA? I don't think so. The Hunger Games is an entertaining, fast-paced read about an alternate-reality civilization. It's also an exploration on war, violence, and reality entertainment. 

YA novels take risks that, for the most part, I don't see happening in adult fiction. NOT that I don't love adult fiction, I could blab on and on for days about books I adore. But sometimes I wonder if the limitations on graphic sex and violence in YA fiction opens up the possibility of richer material.

So go on, plunder the YA bookshelves. You'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

'The End of You and Me' now available on Amazon.com!

After two years of writing and revising, my first YA novel is now available for purchase on Amazon.com. Naturally I'm pleased as punch, as the saying goes (and what a strange cliche -- someone must have liked punch extraordinarily!). Anyway, please click on the link below and take a look! At the moment, only the Ebook version is available, but the print version will be available next week. Thanks!  

http://amzn.to/QtnnBs


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome

Oh, hello there! Glad you made it here.

So what will you find on this blog?

Announcements about new projects? Definitely!
Giveaways? Of course.
Never before published poetry and flash fiction? You betcha. 
Blog posts about writing, revising, and the indie writer lifestyle? Uh huh.
Random musings about non-writing related topics like cats, tattoos, and French pastries? (Vigorous nodding). 

Take a look around, and then come back often for updates.