2007 is the Year of the Boar, or Wart Hog, which would have been my grandmother’s year, if she was alive. For me professionally, 2007 will be a transitional year. I won’t have a novel out, and I’ll be working on a YA series as well as doing research for a mystery standalone. As my career shifts, or rather expands, and my workload increases, I thought it best for me to give up my spot on Murderati for another blogger.
My intention to join forces with Pari and others on Murderati was primarily to discuss the process of releasing my third book, to write about public relations and promotional efforts (I was a flak in Hollywood for about three years), and to talk about the L.A. mystery writing and marketing scene. For the sheer size of the book market here, I still maintain that we don’t have a comprehensive literary web presence. There are many good websites and blogs, but we can use more.
Here’s a handy and dandy index of L.A. Mix profiles I’ve posted during the past eight months:
And nuts and bolts posts:
Copyediting styles and copyeditors
L.A. Times Festival of Books (I, II, III)
Craziness of Amazon numbers and how they don’t mean much
ISBNs and Library of Congress numbers
Book launch for a first novel
Author essays in mystery magazines
I purposefully haven’t blogged too much on the writing process, because I have learned to write intuitively from reading novels, not from how-to books or classes. I’m pretty independent and stubborn, and don’t like to rely on any kind of guides, except for maybe travel books. Since I learned to write outside of the classroom, I didn’t know how beneficial my writing advice would be.
Although I’ll be leaving Murderati as a regular blogger, I’m be visiting from time to time as a guest blogger. And I’ll still be very much a part of the mystery scene, as three of my short stories will be published in anthologies in the Year of the Boar (or else close to it):
"Number 19" in LOS ANGELES NOIR, edited by Denise Hamilton. The life of a lonely young woman in L.A. is changed forever when she becomes obsessed with a masseuse at a Koreatown spa.
"The Chirashi Covenant" in A HELL OF A WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FEMALE NOIR, edited by Megan Abbott. A former Japanese American beauty queen seeks upward mobility for her family in the 1950s at a disastrous cost.
"Tat Master" in THE DARKER MASK, edited by Chris Chambers and Gary Phillips. A young female tattoo artist, on the run from her yakuza boyfriend in Japan, finds herself with some supernatural powers after an encounter with a stranger in L.A. (This is going to be super cool because each story will be illustrated by a comic book artist. Actually, I think this book will be coming out the beginning of 2008 instead of the end of 2007.)
I can’t tell you how I excited and honored I am to be included in all three anthologies, which appeal to slightly different niches. Just looking at the editors and other contributors indicate the high caliber of these respective collections.
The stories I’ve written for these anthologies are definitely more hardboiled than my Mas Arai mysteries. (I still have a few weeks to polish two of the stories.) It was both liberating and challenging to sharpen my story-telling skills and to find the unique voice of each protagonist. The stories are all told from female points-of-view, which has been a refreshing change for me. In fact, writing "Number 19" probably helped "clear my decks" in tackling my YA novel, which is told in first person by a 13-year-old girl. Taking a break from Mas Arai and stretching my creative wings have made me more confident and brave a writer.
While I’m excited about the creative and professional changes in my life, I am sad to leave the camaraderie of Murderati team. It’s strange–I’ve only met in person one Murderati blogger, our fearless leader, Pari, so far. I think one of the reasons why Murderati has worked is that we are so different. We aren’t a clique. What binds us together is that we write mysteries professionally. And I don’t know if the other Murderati would appreciate this observation, but that we all are underdogs in one way or another.
There’s nothing wrong with being an underdog. In fact, it’s as American as apple pie. Our national fascination with the underdog and second chances is probably our most endearing cultural value (well, at least to me). As these stories go, the underdogs always come up winners at the end. So I have special wishes for each of the Murderati bloggers, both present and future, with gifts of Japanese New Year, or Oshogatsu, food, which is full of symbols and metaphors.
Lotus root, which has many holes to foresee the future.
Kazunoko for Jeff
Herring roe for fertility. (Enuff said. How about productivity in terms of books?)
Both Jeff and Deni will be moving on to pursue their own blogging venture. My best to them.
Kuromame for Simon
Black beans, which represent health. Add chestnuts, and you have success, repeated over and over again.
Tai for Elaine
A big fish for the queen of the sea. Tai, or sea bream, is usually served whole; nothing is broken. Elaine will be taking over Wednesdays, so I know this day will be hopping!
Kamaboko for J.T.
Pink fish cake which symbolizes patriotism, purity and honesty. Totally appropriate for this Killer Year woman.
Mochi for Pari
Pounded rice cake, which is plenty sticky for long life and prosperity. Mochi, like Pari, keeps everyone together.
Kombu Maki for all the new Murderati bloggers!
Rolled kelp for gladness or joy. Kombu maki always reminds me of tuxedos or penguins for some reason. And oh, so fun to make.
Toshikoshi Soba for all you readers
These buckwheat noodles are especially long for long life. Yum! Can’t wait to eat some.
As of 2007, I will be updating my website monthly with a note, brief book review on novels and mysteries related to Asian Americans, and yes, a new Japanese word to learn. So come visit. I know I’ll be visiting Murderati on a regular basis. In fact, as a guest blogger, I’ll be posting two interviews on two illustrious librarians during the last week of December. In February I’ll be in Seattle for Left Coast Crime; if you are too, please say "hi" in person.
If you ever come to L.A., I’ll be helping with the inaugural Asian Pacific American Book Festival on Saturday, May 12, 2007 and contributing to the Japanese American National Museum’s "Landscaping America" exhibition, which opens in June. And let us not forget–there’s the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the end of April.
Happy Year of the Wart Hog!
WEDNESDAY’S LAST WORD: inoshishi (SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, page 75)
Boar, wart hog. It’s pronounced EE-no-she-she. Boar birth years are 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, and, of course, 2007. Boar people are supposed to be pure of heart, generous, and kind. A true friend with a passion for life and indulgence. They are supposedly compatible with Tigers, which would make any Boar a good buddy of mine.