APA Month Guest Post: Caroline Tung Richmond

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This post is up late because the puppy has been devouring my time. ALL OF MY TIME. So I got to formatting this thing late and couldn't finish before my own now-considerably-earlier bed time.

Luckily, today's post is a real treat! We're hosting freelance writer and YA/MG writer, Caroline Tung Richmond! We hit it off over Twitter and Pinterest (I don't even remember how), and she very graciously agreed to writing a guest post for us in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Caroline wearing her brother's hat from his traditional outfit.
Earlier this month, Caroline took a trip with her family to Taiwan to visit her brother and sister-in-law. It was her first trip back to her parents' homeland, and I asked her to share her thoughts about her experience.

Take it away, Caroline!
(All photos courtesy of Caroline)

I hate to admit it but....

I haven't always been proud of my Chinese heritage.

Growing up, I wanted to be just like my friends, most of whom were white. I wanted long blond hair with freckles to match, like the most popular girls in school. I wanted to eat roast beef for dinner instead of steamed eggs over rice. And I wanted to have a "normal" last name like Jones or Carter instead of Tung, which no one could pronounce the first time around.

I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be Chinese.

During my junior year in college, however, something inside of me shifted. Maybe it was because I was a little older. Or maybe it was because I felt more comfortable in my skin. Whatever it was, I started dipping my toes in my ethnicity. I signed up for Asian history classes and I took three semesters of Chinese language. After graduation, I was even lucky enough to take a week-long trip to Beijing. I had come a long way from the little girl who wanted blue eyes and a different last name. And yet...

I felt like I was missing the last puzzle piece.

Which was odd to me. After all, I had studied Chinese and I had visited China, where all four of my grandparents had hailed from. What else did I have to do to feel fully connected to my heritage?
Night view from Taipei 101
Alishan National Park
It took me a long time to figure out the answer. See, life got busy: I got married; I moved. I started a new career and we moved again. But a few months ago, my dad brought up the idea of visiting Taiwan as a family. Both he and my mom had grown up in Taipei, and my brother now lived there with his new Taiwanese wife. Wouldn't it be fun to see them and tour around the country a little?

Xiao Long Bao - soup-filled dumplings
So we packed our bags and, four weeks ago, my whole family flew to Taipei, Taiwan. I was giddy, of course. I have a bad case of the travel bug and I was ridiculously excited to explore a new country (the food! the sites! the photographic opportunities!). I was expecting a fun vacation with my family, with plenty of sunshine and touristy things to do. I wasn't expecting the trip to affect me the way that it did.

But after we spent our first full day in Taiwan, something simply clicked in my mind. Maybe it was visiting my grandfather's grave, who died before I was born. Or maybe it was touring my parent's alma mater. Or maybe it was as simple as eating a big bowl of noodle soup and thinking it was so much better than roast beef. Whatever it was---and as cliche as it sounds---I felt like I had come home. That sense of belonging I was searching for as a kid? It was here in Taiwan. This was the place where my parents had grown up. This was the place where my family was buried. And this was the place that had helped define who I was, even though I had never stepped foot in it until now.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
I feel lucky and fortunate and blessed to have visited Taiwan with my family. It was a homecoming of sorts, even though we don't have a home there. And I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Although I can do without the spiders!

No pics of giant spiders, but here is a size-of-my-hand snail!

Caroline Tung Richmond writes all sorts of things, from travel reviews to spacesuit articles to YA and MG novels. She is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. A native of the Washington, DC area, Caroline likes cherry blossoms, cupcakes, and anything relating to Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is terrified of spiders.

You can find Caroline online at:
Blog: Adventures in Space
Twitter: @ctrichmond
Website: Caroline T Richmond


BlogMe MAYbe I Tell You Something About Me?

I've been in Slackerville when it comes to the BlogMe MAYbe Blogfest, which is supposed to encourage more blogging while still being delightfully schneizeleffort. I'm going to make up some lost ground today, and true to form, it's going to be a post that fits into our APA Month theme as well! Yep, I'm making these posts do WORK.

The Friday prompt for the BlogMe MAYbe fest is usually to share something funny, but I'm using the Tuesday prompt today. The Tuesday prompt is for me to share something about myself.

For 5-6 years, I played the Chinese zither aka the Guzheng. It's an ancient, harp-like instrument with generally 18-23 strings. The one I played had 21 strings and had carvings of cranes on the sides.

Photo from Wikipedia

Anyway, I was decent enough and most importantly I thought it was fun. My fingers, however, just weren't fast enough for me to be really good.

I could manage to play this classic Guzheng song respectably. It's called Yu Zhou Chang Wan aka "Song of the Fishermen" or "Singing at Night Among Fishing Boats." My friend just calls it the "angry fishermen song" because it sounds angry to her. Not sure why.

This more modern-ish song (as in it isn't centuries old) was one I was just becoming okay at when I stopped taking lessons. It's a pretty awesome song but a little on the long side. It's called Zhan tai feng aka "Fighting the Typhoon," and it showcases more of what the zither can do.

Still, I somehow ended up playing a fair number of gigs - fairs, community events, even a freaking concert. Which is all VERY EMBARRASSING considering my level. I just thank the powers that be that youtube hadn't been invented yet.

But speaking of youtube, this spectacular video was brought to my attention semi-recently, in which someone plays Adele's Rolling in the Deep on the zither. It's kind of mind-blowing and makes me want to break out my zither and start tinkering again - not that I aspire to be anything near to this level. You have to understand, the Guzheng is on a pentatonic scale, which is partly why traditional Chinese songs have that distinct tune to them.

So getting those extra notes (which can be created by manipulating the strings) to play a pop song at speed and recognizably is pretty dang awesome. Enjoy!

For those of you in the U.S., HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND! I'm so stoked for a long weekend, especially since I JUST GOT A PUPPY! Will share pics next week!

Q4U: Do you play any instruments OR what do you WISH you played?


APA Month Feature: Beverly Ealdama

My, my, May is just flying by! I had no idea it was already so close to the end of the month! So many apologies for slacking a bit on the blogging and APA Month front.

I'm here to make it up to you dears in a big way! I've got some APA book-related ideas, lined up a guest post, AND we'll be doing a Day in the Life feature at Sophia's blog in the very near future.

And TODAY, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you all to a sweet and talented gal from my hometown, Miss Beverly Ealdama! Not only is she a Harry Potter-loving, adorable dog-owning, and inspiring Asian American lady, she's also a fabulous artist/doodler!

1" bookworm pins
memories by beverly ealdama

Photo Courtesy of Beverly
1. A little about Beverly in her own words.

I am a artist/doodler/bookworm from southern California. I’ve spent the last 3 years following my creative pursuits including illustration, collage, zines, and mail art. I’m currently participating in Sketchbook Project 2012 and Sketchbook Project Limited Edition. I live for live music, my two dogs (Nacho and Wiggles), and spontaneous road trips.

2. Ah, spontaneous road trips! I need some of those in my life! I love that you have a degree in chemistry, but you're pursuing art. How did you get started on this path?

I went into the chemistry major with plans of continuing to pharmacy school. I heard it was a growing field with good pay so I went with it. I didn’t take into account what I wanted because truth be told, I had no idea. I learned that I liked art a LOT more than I liked science. I spent a lot of time doodling in my notebook during lecture and sketching portraits of my professors and classmates. I scribbled down lyrics from memory and experimented with letters. I enjoyed illustrating my assignments more than being in the laboratory. But I still finished my chemistry degree. Why? I’m still figuring it out, but I know a big part of it was fear. I was too concerned with what other people thought. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to provide for my mother later on. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough.

After I graduated, I realized that I’d rather follow my heart and see where it takes me than spend my whole life wishing I did. A few months later I enrolled in art classes at a community college. Being in the studio was a welcome transition and I was ecstatic to have the chance to focus solely on building my creative muscle. The classes gave me the confidence to start posting my drawings on Flickr and Tumblr. I received a big positive response, which I was not expecting at all. I started submitting my images to blogs and began participating in collaborative projects. Then I opened an Etsy shop to sell zines, artwork, and buttons. I’m happy to say it’s grown steadily over the last few months! I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve received.

3. That was a brave choice and very inspiring! Being in the wanting-to-write-books field, I can say I've had those feelings and doubts too! Heck, I still have them. What inspires your pieces?

Everyday life. Relationships with family and friends. A stranger at the supermarket. Geometry. Music. The euphoria from seeing my favorite bands in concert and singing along with them to a song that helped me through rough times.
4. So what exactly are 'zines'?

Zines are small circulation magazines or books that are self-published. They be about anything: politics, poetry, comics, photos, drawings, recipes, you name it. I started my zine A Million City Lights about two years ago. I’d never done anything like it before. It definitely was a challenge to go from an idea in my head, to choosing which drawings to use, to printing, and then to finished product. Lots of trial and error!

I draw all the elements on paper and scan them into Photoshop where I clean up the images. I print and assemble each issue then bind the pages together using embroidery thread. I think the hand-stitched element adds a special touch to my zines.

5. Self-published AND hand-bound! Since you're an artist, as well as a fellow bookworm, what are some of your favorite book covers?

The Harry Potter series as illustrated by Mary Grandpre, particularly the cover for HP and The Order of The Phoenix. I also love The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Actually all of Eric Carle’s covers are great.

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of my favorite picture books because of the wonderful art, so I can't agree more about Eric Carle's art! Can you please recommend a book you've read recently?

Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Thought-provoking, suspenseful, slightly disturbing YA dystopian fiction.

7. The month of May is Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. As such, I'd love to know, does your heritage play a role in your art/creative pursuits?

It does. I put a lot of personal stories in my drawings so naturally my heritage is a part of that. I am a first generation Filipino American and I still struggle with my sense of identity. It’s difficult growing up with two different sets of cultural norms and values. One thing that has inspired me lately is the importance of family in the Filipino culture. My triangle drawings create a visual of this, with each shape supporting one another. The triangles range in sizes and each has an important role in creating the bigger shape.

triangles no. 4
triangles no. 4 by Beverly Ealdama / Flickr

8. Bonus fun question: Which House would the Sorting Hat put you in?

9. Zombies or Unicorns?
Zombies, hands down.

Oh boo, I'm totally Team Unicorn, but that's okay. Zombies are cool too, and in the end, we're still both Ravenclaws! ;) Thanks for the interview, Beverly!

Be sure to check out Beverly and her art on the web! You can find her at:

Beverly Ealdama on etsy
Twitter: @beverly_e

And if you have any questions for Beverly, feel free to contact her directly or leave them in the comments here! We hope you enjoyed this feature!

Q4U: What's your Harry Potter House / Zombies or Unicorns?

P.S. Check out another awesome APA feature at Sophia's: SubtleSkeptics and Kien Lam Photography


Randomosity on Fridays

I started like 3 posts and couldn't quite manage to finish any of them so instead we're having good ol' Randomosity on Fridays, Friday Five style!

1. Saw the Avengers twice, once with Krispy and her sister, and then again with Krispy again and our mutual medical-student-who-is-graduating-today-congratulations!  It was very entertaining, humorous and action-packed and every hero has a chance to shine, and oh the villain Loki, how he shines too, with the brilliance of a supernova refracted a thousandfold by a million diamonds.  (Okay, okay, so Krispy and I have a thing for Loki/Tom Hiddleston.)  Even though the movie is a whopping ~2.5 hours long, it doesn't feel long.  Be sure to stay until the credits end for a second extra scene!

2. I've been playing this stupid iPad game called Lil Kingdom where I only just discovered today that it's possible to build a Unicorn Ranch and hatch a unicorn out of an egg.  It's a stubby li'l unicorn that wiggles when it prances and otherwise stands around literally shedding purple glitter everywhere.  It's like all of my dreams come true. Or one of them, anyway.

3. Coming soon! A post on why Escaflowne is one of the greatest anime series ever.

4. I've been learning how to do opaque enameling on copper. Provided you have a kiln heated to 1500°F, a long fork, a heat-protective glove, a trivet and tray, enamel powder, a sifter, a dust mask, and a properly cleaned piece of metal, it's not all that difficult. Unless, you know, you want to do something more interesting than one solid color. But what is life without challenge?

[I'd post a picture of my pieces except they're not done yet and also the lighting is bad right now and I'm lazy. Krispy's schneizeleffort is rubbing off on me for realz.]

5. Li'l Hawkeye came to me courtesy of Krispy and her sister, who, understanding that I am a Hawkeye hater for various reasons both reasonable and unreasonable, saw him at Target and knew that he belonged with me. He came with me to see the Avengers. While he was happy to see himself so large on the silver screen, he was immensely saddened by the fact that within the first five minutes of the film, my opinion of him as lame proved totally justified.

Someday, Li'l Hawkeye believes he will become a real superhero.
Until then, he's going to wear this pink cape and pretend.
That's what's been going on 'round hereabouts, folks. What've you been up to lately? Gaining new skills? Watched any movies? Seen any unicorns?


Whatever Wednesday: Currently (and About to Be) Reading!

Another post brought to you courtesy of Alz and Krispy not actually having a blog planned and then suddenly going to see the Avengers again Tuesday night.  Here's what Krispy and I have been/will be tackling in wide wonderful world of YA!

Krispy started Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross this week.  Her initial impression was AMAZING FAIRYTALE-ESQUE PROLOGUE immediately followed by kind of weird pacing in the next several chapters.  She told me though that she liked the general premise of bits of fairytales all coalescing in a contemporary setting, which is promising.  I performed my traditional first-few-chapters-perusal and was unimpressed albeit mildly interested.  Depending on Krispy's opinion of whether or not it is read-worthy (and whether or not she thinks I'll hate it), I may just grill her for the story as she reads and let her tell me everything.  Her versions are usually way more entertaining than the source material.

She also picked up Shadows on the Moon by ZoĆ« Marriott, a Japanese-flavored story about a girl who can weave shadows and whose father is accused of treason and her new stepfather sounds evil and she's going to destroy him no matter what and heyyy I like the sound of this story. I am wholly intrigued and may steal this book from Krispy before she has a chance to read it. 
(Krispy is also still reading A Million Suns by Beth Revis.  Peeps, I'm counting on you all to help me bully her into finishing it so I can gripe without worry for spoilers.  Though the fact that it's a library book and due soon will hopefully force her into finally finishing faster anyway.)

On my end of the YA spectrum is Pure by Julianna Baggott.  The premise is standard post-apocalyptic dystopian: people on the outside were scarred and mutated by bombs, while there's a Dome where others took refuge and are safely unmutated.  Despite the glut of dystopians on the market, this one is visceral and interesting so far despite some of the gratuitous creepy weirdness (for example, the Detonations were bombs of some kind that caused molecular disruption and caused flesh to fuse with whatever was nearest, so the girl's grandfather has a little mechanical fan stuck in his throat while the girl has...a creepy blinking-eyes doll-head instead of a hand).  I've got hopes for this one.

I'm also slowly getting through Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, which is basically alternate history of the American frontier--and I mean really alternate since it's pioneers and dust and school and steam dragons and mammoths, and our protagonist is the thirteenth child and therefore destined to be unlucky and go evil and destroy the world, or so her jerkface of an uncle constantly tells her.  I loved the Enchanted Forest Chronicles but I have to say that Thirteenth Child is kind of slow. Not bad, but definitely and oddly more slice-of-life-on-the-magical-American-frontier than anything plot- or even character-driven.  I'm halfway through and not really sure where it's going.

Lastly, I'm even more slowly getting through Waters Luminous and Deep, a beautifully-titled book by Meredith Ann Pierce that is full of short stories.  The two-page prologue-y vignette was charming and beautiful, and was what enticed me to pick this up.  Unfortunately, the rest of the stories so far are are both lengthy and boring because they are essentially fairytales that drag on and on for pages and pages, padded out to--hey, why does this sound so familiar?

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Review of The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce!
Imagine a fairytale padded out (not developed but padded out) to 238 pages and set on a post-colonial terraformed moon. That's what this book is. As a 3-page fairytale minus the science fiction back story, it would've been fine, but as it stands, I only kept reading The Darkangel because the world history was interesting.
Ah, there we go.  At least I can say this for Meredith Ann Pierce: her style is consistent.  Her short stories are along exactly the same lines as her first novel.  It's unfortunate that her stories always end up way too long without the necessary character development, themes, or plot to make what is boring become interesting.

Krispy and I are also eager to read Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.  We've got to clear a few of these books off our literary plates first though!  What are you reading and liking lately?  Or what are you reading and hating, as the case may be?


Randomosity on Fridays: Mother's Day Edition

May is turning out to be kind of crazy. ANYONE ELSE SEE THE AVENGERS LAST WEEKEND? THIS WEEKEND?

AHEM. Back on track, this weekend is Mother's Day, and I thought of the PERFECT video to share for the occasion. It also fits the APA Month theme AND the blog me MAYbe prompt for today! I'm getting really good at finding things that fit multiple parameters. Hah.

Words on Paper

So without further ado, MAY I SHOW YOU SOMETHING FUNNY?

I love my mom, but she totally says some of these things (like the "aiyah!" and "honey, do for me!")!

Q4U: What are endearing/funny things your mom does?

All you moms out there, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!


APA Month: Book Recs!

Hello, hello!  Krispy is usually the one who does all the APA stuff, I'm ashamed to admit--ashamed because I am also of the Asian persuasion and ought to put more forth more than the schneizeleffort of letting her handle everything.

So today I bring you book recommendations!  That's right, folks, I'm actually recommending books to read!  Though, er, a couple of them do come with Alz-typical caveats and not all of them are YA. In fact, I think they're all either adult or MG, now that I'm looking at them. And half of them are out of print or otherwise hard to come by.  Hit up your local library!


Picture Bride by Yoshiko Uchida

Let's start off with an adult historical-fiction story chronicling the journey of a young girl immigrating from Japan to the US in 1917. Before the days of eharmony and match.com, Japanese parents sometimes resorted to sending out pictures of their daughters to men in the States and hoping marriage would ensue. Hana has never met her future husband before she travels to San Francisco to meet him, so she has no real idea what he's like. She has to deal with her stranger of a husband, trying to adjust to her new life and make friends, and living as a foreigner in an increasing hostile country (hey there, WWII and internment camps).

Hana is very naive at first only to be ground down by her situation and circumstances--sad, but she gains both resilience and strength as she struggles with difficult decisions.  The details and historical aspect are well-researched and realistically presented.  This book is short at 222 pages and as I recall, it ends rather abruptly. I can rationalize this by telling myself that the book ends where it does because it's the end of a certain part of Hana's journey in life, but even when I read this many years ago I was a tad WTF that's it?

Nonetheless, Picture Bride is a good portrait of the various difficulties that faced Japanese-Americans around WWII.


Fox Woman and Fudoki by Kij Johnson

More non-YA/adult!  Both of these books are set Heian Era Japan; they are each standalone but related thematically and are set in the same "world".  Fox Woman is essentially a particular Japanese folktale padded out to 384 pages; I knew which folktale it was and the book didn't really attempt to change it, so it was all very straightforward to me. 

There is a decent attempt made to explore the nooks and crannies of the tale, i.e. when a fox falls in love with a man and changes into human form to be with him, does shape dictate nature?  Since the man in question already has a wife when the fox lures him away and enchants him, what happens on the wife's side of the tale?  What is the viewpoint of the enchanted man?  The story is told from these first-person viewpoints with pretty good success.

I found Fox Woman to be overly long, as I tend to find most fairytales-turned-novels.  There was also a scene of kind-of-pretty-much-bestiality that was presented in such a way as to be almost acceptable because, well, the protagonist is a fox and she's in love with a human man and she's a shapeshifter and at one point she starts to lose control of her human form but yeah not gonna lie I was kind of WTF during that scene.

I found the ending to be intellectually unexciting--i.e. the exploration of themes kind of petered out and ended up going for the predictable conclusion.  The very, very end though had a sort of whimsical potentially hopeful will-it-or-won't-it charm that I quite liked.

The Heian setting is where this book really shines--everything from atmosphere to the depth of poetry and literature to the mannerisms of the nobility--to be astonishingly rendered. This lady has done her research and done it well (not that I'm a Heian expert but I've read some actual Heian Era literature), and credits her sources at the end of her books.

Fudoki is another novel based on Japanese mythology although I'm not sure there's a particular tale that inspired it so much as a concept--in this case, it's told from the perspective of the equivalent of a Heian dowager queen, who is penning the saga of a shapeshifting cat who becomes the other POV.  Fudoki had more interesting plot and forward thrust than Fox Woman but I remember being kind of bored by some parts; again, the story suffered from essentially being a folktale stretched out to cover several hundred pages.

Nonetheless, it still had that same wonderful atmosphere and historical detail, as well as a cameo from Fox Woman.  The very end also had a certain satisfyingly ambiguous charm to it.

Dragons of Darkness by Antonia Michaelis

YA/MG! Translated from German! About a young German boy named Christopher who magically finds himself teleported to Nepal where he teams up with the country's invisible Prince Jumar to combat the communists who are trying to overthrow the country!  Also Christopher's brother went missing while traveling in Nepal so they have to find him!  And there are these enormous dragons with black tunnels of eyes that eat the color out of the world and whose shadows turn people into hollow bronze statues!  (Incidentally, that dragon on the cover is actually a very accurate depiction.)

Yes, so, there's a lot going on in Dragons of Darkness, and it reads more MG than YA--and yet a lot of the themes are more YA than MG, and then again more adult than YA.  Everything about this book, from the distant, wry, and occasionally petulant observations of Jumar (who is literally invisible and nobody knows why) to the color-eating dragons (they were totally why I wanted to read this book and they didn't disappoint) to the way each section is prefaced with a page detailing the location, terrain, and flora and fauna--everything has an air of whimsy and a deceptively light tone.

Deceptive because the book deals with revolution and coups and terrorists and soldiers and death and politics.  And yet the book handles all these themes quite well, in ways that make you think and consider while sympathizing, empathizing and growing appropriately frustrated at the same time.

I liked Dragons of Darkness overall, but it is a monster of a hardcover book at 566 pages, and it definitely started to drag after a while.  The individual scenes felt important but reading about how they walked somewhere else, making wry but insightful observations about the world around them, started to wear a little thin.  A lot of the things in the book you just have to accept--i.e. that Christopher suddenly finds himself in Nepal after opening a book on Nepal, that Jumar is invisible and his mother has been asleep in a garden for years, there are these massive colorful dragons, etc.--but if you can get past the whimsical inexplicableness and slog through the slow parts, Dragons of Darkness is a decent read.

Dragon of the Lost Sea Series by Laurence Yep

These 4 books are MG, set in fantasy/mythological China and feature characters from Chinese mythology as well as non-mythological characters, and I was so totally absolutely in love with these books when I was in 4th grade.  Like I read the last book to shreds, where the cover was beaten to the texture of fleece and the pages were falling out.  The first and last books were my favorite, by the way.  Also, the narrator changes with every book (I think--it's been a while).  The overarching saga is one of war and magic and mythology, dragons and soldiers and treachery, and it's completely and totally not fair that most of the books are out of print.

Dragon of the Lost Sea is the first book and when I came across it at a school book fair, it was the cover that caught my eye because it was so distinctly Asian (sadly, the reprint had an uglier cover that matched the later books).  I had also begun my first serious dragon craze and since I already loved fantasy, anything with "dragon" in the title caught my whole and undivided attention.

I hated first-person POV at the time but even so, I loved this book.  The narrator is a dragon named Shimmer (okay, I admit that even than and still now in the abstract I find her name to be eye-roll-worthy, but trust me, I love her and the books anyway) who is the princess of her people.  Her home, the Inland Sea, was enchanted into a pebble and stolen by a witch, and Shimmer's people have been scattered and exiled across the world.  Shimmer's quest to take vengeance upon the witch, regain her home, and unite her people is, you will no doubt agree, pretty epic-sounding.  And it is.

An orphan boy named Thorn joins her in her journey but Shimmer is the one with the thorny nature: she's a dragon, and a princess, and young and headstrong and arrogant and she doesn't need some street urchin's help.  Except she does, and deep down she knows it and so does he, and the bond of friendship that grows between these two is awesome.

The first book isn't really standalone though it doesn't end on a cliffhanger.  The sequel is Dragon Steel and it was all right--I think it was my least favorite, but I can't remember precisely why because I only read it once.

Book 3 is Dragon Cauldron, where events are setting up for the epic showdown between the evil creepy villain who has tricked a ton of people and gained a ton of power and intends to wage war against dragonkind.  Something big, important, and WTF/OMG-worthy happens to a certain character in this book that has important implications for the next.

The fourth and final book and my favorite is Dragon War, where there is war.  There are dragons.  There are family confrontations, the bonds of friendship are tested, there are sacrifices and betrayals and twists.  Loved it.  All right, I'm definitely going to dig through my bookshelves and reread these books.  It's been way too long.


Those are my recs.  Guess I'll have to track down some Asian-flavored YA now!  Got any Asian-y YA recs?  Have any super-favorite-absolute-awesome recs from when you were a wee 'un in elementary school?


Lucky Seven Meme

Hey guys, it's FRIDAY after another loooong week! A little while back, Connie at A Merry Heart tagged us in the Lucky 7 Meme. This is that meme that's been going around where people share snippets of their WIP. SO we're going to share a little something-something with you.

BUT FIRST since it's APA Month, here's your dose of APA-ness today. The sister and I at the Avenue of Dreams in Hong Kong circa 2009.

And now our Lucky 7 Meme entry. It's not actually from a WIP as I don't think we have 77 pages of joint-anything in any sort of chronological order. So we've taken the excerpt from the for-fun joint "novel" we wrote for our friend, A Story of Very Questionable Origin.


  • Go to page 77 of your current MS.
  • Go to line 7.
  • Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post the as they’re written. No cheating.
  • Tag 7 other writers

The premise is a dinner party at a very special house with a whole lot of different people from different story-verses. LUCIFER is not the devil/angel you're thinking of; he's a boy named after said ex-angel.

"I dunno," said Lucifer. He shrugged and took on a tone of vague indifference. "Ours rebuilds houses and eats angels sometimes, and oh yeah, he guards the house. And eats intruders, or dices them, or beats them to a pulp or crushes them flat--not that I would know," he added innocently. "That's only what I've heard. Avanyu's very, very, very lazy most of the time. Sometimes he baby-sits though."

Avanyu: Most of the time. (Art by Alz, obvs)

Tag 7 writers: I have no idea who has been tagged already, so the FIRST 7 to comment are it! (But seriously, you don't have to if you don't want to...I guess..)

Before I dash, I can't wait to ASSEMBLE this weekend! :D THE AVENGERS, finally!

Avanyu is assembling an army of his own...

Which reminds me, I have to do this: Blog Me MAYbe prompt - May I share something funny? :)

Also, it is May 4th, making it STAR WARS DAY! So in honor of that, May the Fourth Be With You!

Q4U: Do you have any idea what Avanyu is? OR Share something funny with us!


APA or AAPI Heritage Month 2012

Happy May, my friends! I always enjoy this month because it's usually when things start really feeling like SUMMER.

May is also Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S.! For the past two years, we've been celebrating the month of May on the blog with AAPI-themed posts, and this year, we're going to continue the tradition! (Since, you know, we're both Asian American and I minored in Asian Am studies!)

(I totally wish I had a cool AAPI Heritage Month Banner to post, but alas, I have no graphics skills.)

You should also check out Sophia's blog all this month too. She'll be featuring AAPI people and organizations.

So to begin, let me point you to a few relevant links for learning about and celebrating APA/AAPI Month.

The President's Proclamation for this year's AAPI Heritage Month gives an eloquently worded overview of what this month is all about. Here's a quote:

Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have helped make America what it is today. Their histories recall bitter hardships and proud accomplishments -- from the laborers who connected our coasts one-and-a-half centuries ago, to the patriots who fought overseas while their families were interned at home, from those who endured the harsh conditions of Angel Island, to the innovators and entrepreneurs who are driving our Nation's economic growth in Silicon Valley and beyond. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers us an opportunity to celebrate the vast contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our Nation, reflect on the challenges still faced by AAPI communities, and recommit to making the American dream a reality for all.

The proclamation also reminds us that this year marks 70 years since Executive Order 9066, which led to Japanese-American internment during World War II. Families were literally uprooted from their homes and businesses and put into camps - one of which was at a local landmark of ours, Santa Anita Park (home of racing legend Seabiscuit). The racetrack was used as an internment center for 2 years with the cleared-out horse stables acting as housing for the internees.

San Francisco, California. Inhabitants of the Japanese section wave farwell at the departure of the . . ., 04/19/1942
Original Caption: San Francisco, California. Inhabitants of the Japanese section wave farwell at the departure of their friends and neighbors whom they are soon to follow to Tanforan Assembly center.
SOURCE/ National Archives APA Month Flickr

This is a dark part of our national history, one that I think is mentioned but not really talked about in standard school history classes. It's a tough subject to discuss, but it happened and it's important to remember that so we can better prevent things like this from happening again.

And on a brighter note, 2012 is also the Centennial of the planting of the first Japanese cherry trees in Washington D.C. The trees were given as a gift from the City of Tokyo to the U.S., and are a symbol of friendship.

Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson memorial
Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson memorial by Michael Foley / on Flickr

We're also participating in the fun (but delightfully schneizeleffort) blog me MAYbe blogfest hosted by Tracey Neithercott, Sara McClung, Katy Upperman, Alison Miller, Cambria Dillon, Jessica Love, Alexandra Shostak, and Lola Sharp.

There are 5 prompts, one for each day of the week, that are your guides for your posts throughout May. This blogfest has its emphasis on FEST, so you can post as much or as little as you want. The point is to get you blogging more, and maybe you'll also reconnect (or newly connect) with peeps in the blogosphere. Consider joining in!

In line with both APA Month (or AAPI Month) and the blog me MAYbe, I have a question for you! Wednesday's Blogfest prompt is: May I ask something about you?

Q4U: What types of posts or topics would you like to see this APA month?