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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