Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Pride


 With June being Pride Month, I thought it would be interesting to look at cozy mysteries that feature LBGTIA protagonists. I wasn't sure how many I'd find, but here are two lists on Goodreads and a cozy mystery author's blog that fit the bill. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the books, but Posted to Death and Cosplay Killer look particularly interesting to me. 

I recently read Queer and Cozy Mysteries, a collection of three short mysteries featuring a mother and teenage daughter who are both lesbians, a transgender caregiver who investigates a case of blackmail, and a family that puts on a drag queen show every Thanksgiving. I liked the second story the best.

The protagonist of my Murder Lake Mysteries is straight, but secondary characters include the couple Allen and Ben, who run the coffeehouse/bookstore Beans and Books. A transgender couple will be moving in in the sequel. Hopefully I can do them justice.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Summer Plans?

My son has officially finished middle school and growing more independent by the day. He received his second vaccine dose last week and will be fully vaccinated by the end of next week. Since my husband and I are already fully vaccinated, we'll be able to do more this summer than we did last year. Unfortunately, I have to prepare for an unannounced audit this fall (it'll happen sometime between late August and late October, but we won't know the exact date until the auditor arrives), so I won't be able to take much time off for a vacation. It may be possible to do something in early August, but nothing is definite. At least we should be able to visit more museums, get together with friends, and attend the Renaissance Fair in Wisconsin this year. 

There are various things we need to maintain around the house. My husband and son might paint a couple of rooms, and I'd love to hold a garage sale and clean out the basement. I've been wanting to do that for years, so we'll see if we make it happen this time.

I tend not to read so much in the summer (I walk outside instead of reading on the treadmill), but I've got a very good start on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I'll discuss it at the end of the month.  

My main writing goal for the summer is to finish the first draft of Restaurants and Revenge, which is currently over 40,000 words. I need to get feedback from my beta readers, revise Murder at Magic Lake, and acquire a cover so I can publish it this fall. I'd also like to finish Jenna's story for The Seasons Between, the next collection of Season Avatars stories.

No matter what I ultimately end up doing, it'll be a busy summer for me. Do you have summer projects or plans to relax? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

IWSG-Time Away From Stories

 

Can you believe summer's almost here? This is my son's last week of middle school, and he'll have his graduation ceremony next Monday evening. It must be June, time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts for this month are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria.

Here's our question for June: For how long do you shelve your first draft before reading it and re-drafting it? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

 

While writing experience has helped me finish stories in fewer drafts, there are other factors that matter more when I take time away from stories between drafts. The main factors are any other projects I'm currently juggling, the length of the story, and any deadlines I'm trying to meet. For novels, I normally take four to six weeks off between drafting and revising, while short stories might be a week (maybe less if I need to meet a contest deadline). However, I'm slowly working on a collection of short stories in the Season Avatars universe, and I won't revise any of them until all the stories are done. (I've only completed one story so far out of four or five.) 

How long do you let your stories breathe? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Library Habits


Libraries are the best place to indulge without spending money or consuming lots of calories. Every so often, I end up checking out more books than I can finish in a month. Here's a photo of my latest library book stack. Most of these books were checked out three weeks ago, but a couple were holds that came in afterwards. Please note that this stack doesn't include several books I already finished and returned (A Short History of Humanity, Arsenic and Adobo, A Sprinkling of Murder, A History of the Human Brain, A Study in Scarlet Women, and Catfishing on CatNet.), and I finished reading Fugitive Telemetry before I took this picture. Currently I'm in the middle of Ageless, and I'll start The Dictionary of Lost Words soon, since a dozen people are waiting for it.Thankfully, my library will automatically renew books as long as no one else has a hold on them. As you can see, most of the books are marked "New." I tend to spend the most time browsing the new books, though I have a long list of older books to check out when I'm ready for them.

 If you use the library, how often do you go? Do you check out other items besides books? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Continuing Education

 In a few weeks, my son will both turn fourteen and graduate from middle school. We met (virtually) with the assistant head of his high school last week to discuss his classes for next year. I have to admit I would have liked going to this school, since they offer a lot of advanced classes. However, the class that I was most interested in (even though I don't think my son would be) was a music appreciation course offered as part of the Fine Arts section. Even though the last thing I need is another project, I was inspired to sign for a Coursera course on Classical Music. Now all I need to do is find the time for it.

I believe learning should be a lifelong goal. Reading has always been my preferred way to learn, but sometimes it's also important to engage other senses or practice a skill. 

Are there any new skills you'd like to learn or old ones that you want to improve? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Asian-American Authors


May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As the wife of a Filipino-American and mother of a biracial child, I want to be a good ally. That's part of the reason I write books with diverse characters. (Another way to be an ally is to stop AAPI hate; learn more here.) My forthcoming cozy mystery, Murder at Magic Lake, will feature a heroine with a Filipino mother and white father. However, even though I've been with my husband for over thirty years, I'm no expert on Filipino culture. So for this month's cozy mystery blog post, I'd like to feature a few cozy mysteries written by Asian Americans.
If you'd like to read a mystery that does a good job of incorporating Filipino food and culture, I recommend Mia P. Manansala's Arsenic and Adobo. Lila works in a Filipino restaurant run by her aunt and grandmother. They serve plenty of traditional dishes but also adapt their cuisine as needed (for example, the aunt creates vegetarian versions for Lila's best friend). This book just came out, and a second one, Homicide and Halo-Halo, is forthcoming. (Adobo refers to a cooking method for meat and vegetables that involves marinating them with vinegar, soy sauce, and other seasonings before browning them. Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert made of shaved ice, milk, and various fruits.)

Another cozy mystery series featuring Asian characters and written by an Asian author is the Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien. What I particularly like about this series is that Chien has set the eponymous noodle shop in an Asian mall in Cincinnati. This gives her an intimate setting within a larger city. Seven books are currently available, from Death by Dumpling to the latest, Fatal Fried Rice, which I have on hold at my local library.

Finally, there are the Raina Sun Mysteries written by Anne R. Tan. I've only read the first book in this series, so I can't say much about it. It's set on a college campus, and the heroine, Raina Sun, has to deal with not just mysteries but her grandmother. The series is up to ten books already, so I have a lot of catching up to do.
 
Have you read any of these books? Do you know of any other mysteries featuring Asian American or Pacific Islander characters? Feel free to share them in the comments.





 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

IWSG: Readers' Responses and Status Update

Welcome to the merry month of May! I hope it's a pleasant one. Today is not just the Revenge of the Fifth (Star Wars reference), but also blogging day for the Insecure Writers' Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.


 Our hosts for this month are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine. 

Here's our question for the month: Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

The only thing that's coming to mind happened a long time ago in response to my novella Lyon's Legacy. The reader was a co-worker who knew me in real life and was surprised by how much my characters swore in that story, since I seldom swear. That must be a sign I can write characters who are different from me.

Since I don't have much to say regarding the IWSG question, I'll provide a brief status update on my works in progress. Murder at Magic Lake is with beta readers. The sequel, Restaurants and Revenge, is well over 30,000 words. It might turn out longer than the first book. I'm focusing on that story for now and have temporarily set aside a novellette/novella called, "Jenna's Journey," showing Jenna from my Season Avatars series traveling to another country. (Most Avatars stay in their own countries, so it's a significant step for her.) I plan to publish a collection of short stories about my Season Avatars before I work on the sequel series. 

How do readers respond to your work? Feel free to share your stories in the comments.


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