Saturday, February 25, 2006

Reading Guide

At the risk of sounding self-important, I've started the TPB Reading Guide. I'm hoping that those who have read the book might join others in discussing the story, characters, the themes, etc. about the book. I think it'll be very interesting to me, as a writer, to see what my readers glean from the story.

Thanks for participating!

~ Ray

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bad Blogger

Yah, that's me. I'm such a bad blogger. I log on every day and I close the window without entering anything, because -- my mind always draws blank. I have absolutely nothing witty, intelligent, or topical to say. I have decided that I'm a boring person, and I'm going to join the American Boring People Association (ABPA) tomorrow.

I'm amazed by how many bloggers are out there, and how much they have to say about themselves and the world around them. Incredible, interesting, insightful, silly things.

And here I am -- all I could think about is what kind of soup I ate this afternoon.

That's it.

Here's my application to ABPA:

Name: Do I. Matter?
Address: 100 Main Street, Anytown, USA.
Phone: 555-555-5555
Interests: If I had any I wouldn't be here.
Occupation: HA HA. HA HA HA. HA HA. HA HA ha ha... hee hee... hoo... Writer
Hobbies: Didn't you ask that already?
What do you do for fun? Really, this is getting old.
Do you blog? I try.
Why?


OK, I guess I'll have to finishing filling that in tomorrow.

night night

What Fictional Character Are You?

Another silly quiz, this time "stolen" from Jason's blog.

Who am I? Hey, what do you know?



ARAGORN

Putting your appointed path ahead of any inner conflicts, you make your own rules for the benefit of all.

If my life or death I can protect you, I will.

Aragorn is a character in the Middle-Earth universe. There is a description of him at TheOneRing.net.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

See what other characters people have been matched with.

Sexism?

With regard to the Vanity Fair cover....


Personally I find the cover tastefully done and sexy, but I also understand where the "sexism" talks come from, especially since Ford (the man) is clothed in the cover. However, I don't really buy that women don't like to see naked men/celebrities. The "gross, put your shirt on" comment made me laugh -- I mean, c'mon, I seriously doubt a female editor would say that to a shirtless Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Orlando Bloom.

Perhaps men and women do view nudity differently, but I do not for a second believe that women don't sexually objectify men; and there's nothing wrong with that (unless that's ALL we care about). That's just a bunch of crap, somehow aiming at making men look more "piggish." So, in a way, I see that article as portraying reversed sexism...

I think men just don't like to be seen naked on a cover of a magazine -- or use sex as a gimmick. It's not to say these women feel they need to either, but for men, I think it's even less appealing -- they want to be taken seriously without being treated as a piece of meat. Then there's that Burt Reynolds thing -- and no men would want to be the butt of a joke like he was. George Clooney can sell tickets without taking his shirt off (or he did take his shirt off, but after gaining 30lbs for Sariana). But if you really look, there are plenty of sexy pictures of hot stars of both sexes, but it does seem that the only time you see a half-naked man on a cover is on Men's Health.

Do we have a double standard, here? The whole "uproar" surrounding the cover is simpy that: it's a magazine cover (or is it because it suggested a threesome?). Stars have disrobed in films througout the decades, from Susan Sarandon to Matthew McCaunaughey. But magazine covers? Why all the brouhaha?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Five Weird Habits

OK, Esther (September Skies) tagged me and I guess I need to fulfill my end of the bargain, but I'm not going to tag anyone else because I run out of people to tag!


The Rules (borrowed from Joanne's blog): The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly.

So here are my five weird habits (I'm SO going to regret this):

1. I bite my fingernails when I'm thinking, like now, when I stop typing to think about what I should be typing. LOL. But I don't really chew on my nails. I just nibble, kind of grazing my teeth against the nails.

2. I do not make notes on any of my WIPs. Nope. Not even a piece of scrap paper. Everything is in my head so when I die, everything goes with me. There won't be any "author's secret notes." I do, however, leave simple notes in the WIP files themselves, something like "{need more descriptions of horny pigs}" or "{rewrite the whole f*cking chapter}." I do take notes when I'm at a meeting or a seminar or something, but my notes are mostly pictures. Have you heard of "mind-mapping"? Something like that.

3. I have a bad habit of clearing my throat, a lot. I wasn't aware of it until a beloved mentioned to me. Blame it on my allergies, and I refuse to go to the doctors and take shots.

4. I have to have soup at least once a day. It doesn't matter if it's in the morning, afternoon, evening, or late at night. It doesn't matter if it's just cabbage in hot water or Campbell or gourmet soup. It doesn't matter if it's Italian Wedding or beef stew or Chinese winter melon or miso. It doesn't matter if it's sweet or salty or sour. But it has be to HOT. I can't stand cold soup. I must have hot soup.

5. I comb my hair with my fingers. I rarely use a comb.

I'm not so weird, after all...

Monday Meme #9 - Blogiversary

I know I said that I didn't really do Meme, but I think this one is pretty good just for nostalgic reason:

Dawno asked us to turn back time: go to our archives and find the very first post. Tell everyone why I decided to start a blog...

So here it is, my very first blog post, and I'll let it speak for itself:

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Anyway, I decided to start a new blog about my life as a writer. And boy, do I have plenty to say. But first, let me tell you something about myself.

Why do I want to become a writer?

Because, let me tell you, if you can't do what you love then you are not truly living. We spend a lot of time in our lives at "work," and most people hate their jobs. What a waste of time. I believe that we must follow our passions and do what we love to do. Some people say, "But what about earning a living? Bringing the bacon home?" Yes, it's tough, especially if you have a family to support. However, the fundamental question still is: Who do you work for? I hope the answer is: YOU. And trust me, if you follow your dreams and devote your life and energy in doing what you believe in, and what you love, instead of making your employer a rich person/entity, eventually you will find your way and you WILL make a living (a good one, even) at it. Best of all, it won't be work. If you do what you love to do and will do it anyway, it is not work. It is fun. It is life.


AWMondayMemes, Raymond Wong, Writing

Monday, February 20, 2006

A fan mail?

I think I just got a piece of fan mail. Sure, my friends have told me things, but I still think they were just being nice to me, not wanting to hurt my feelings. ;) It's just nice to receive an encouragement from someone I don't really know well, and that is reassuring (for a new, inexperienced writer like me, I'll take any validation I can get):



Finished the book this weekend. It was a wonderful
read! I really enjoyed the Hong Kong descriptions.
Having made the recent trip, the book's settings felt
very familiar.

But I have to say...I hope Greg wasn't too
autobiographical, he was a bit of prick. He could
have saved himself a couple of trips overseas if he
just would have known who "the one" was.

Congratulations. I really look forward to reading the
next one.



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Friday, February 10, 2006

What kind of superhero are you?

Your results:
You are The Flash
























The Flash
70%
Green Lantern
65%
Superman
55%
Spider-Man
55%
Iron Man
50%
Supergirl
50%
Hulk
45%
Robin
45%
Wonder Woman
45%
Catwoman
45%
Batman
40%
Fast, athletic and flirtatious.


Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

ForeWord

At least ForeWord Magazine called it "notable." I had to pull up dictionary.com to make sure I got the meaning right, that the word doesn't mean "purple."

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Life Suc... wait, it doesn't have to be...

Sometimes getting something you thought you wanted is not always a good thing.

I just got my very first bad review, and it's from Publisher's Weekly. Ouch. That really hurts.

I so wanted to get reviewed by one of the biggies: PW, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, etc. I even griped about not getting noticed not so long ago right on this blog. Maybe they read my blog and decided to give me a scathing review in revenge.

OK, it's so great that they even noticed the book to review it -- thousands of unknown, small-press authors go unnoticed. So I should be glad that they even bothered to review TPB.

Then of course, I am bummed they didn't like it. I certainly didn't think it was the best thing since sliced bread and that it was going to win the Pulitzer, but still, I can't help but feel sad.

"melodramatic" -- nothing wrong with that, really... many stories are melodramatic
"movie-of-the-week dialogue" -- hmmm, I wish someone would make a movie-of-the-week version of this!
"purple" -- I guess all those purple prose contests pay off.


I wish I were at that stage in my writer's life that I didn't care about reviews, good or bad. But I'm not there yet, so every bad review, especially from the big guys like PW, stings and shakes up my confidence as a writer. But I really am trying to make light of all this, and try to be thankful that, Good pardon-my-fucking-language Lord, PW reviewed my book!

This just reminds me the first time I got a bad rejection letter, how it shattered my confidence as a new writer. But you know what? Bad review means one thing: the reviewer didn't like it. Well, I should know; I'm a movie critic.

I think my skin just grew an inch thicker. That has to be a good thing.

Everytime I get pulled down by a bad review, I'll have to remind myself of the piece of hate mail I got the first time I got published, when this person called me "the worst writer in the world -- you should forget about it and go back to finding a 9-5 job" or some such.

Screw them.

I know I need to get past this. So, now, I'm going to drown myself in a big tub of chocolate ice cream. Pass the Oreos, please.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Yay, Hines!

As an Asian, and a Pittsburgher, I am so ecstatic to see that Hines Ward has been named MVP at the Superbowl, after the Steelers' win over the Seahawks. Way to go, Hines. Way to go, Steelers.

W00t!!!!!

Losing Track

It's been a crazy month for me, what with the release of my novel. The activities have knocked the wind out of me, and I'm just starting to recover. And I realize, I'm losing track of what I'm supposed to do.

Yes, I want to make The Pacific Between a success. Sometimes I'm wondering if I'm not doing enough, or if I'm doing too much? The book won't be read if it's just sitting in a warehouse somewhere. Someone's got to buy it, and they won't buy it unless they hear about it and how "good" it is. So what's an author to do, especially one without the publicity machine or Oprah behind him? We'll have to push, sometimes shove, to get the book noticed, to get the book on store shelves, to get it reviewed, to get magazines and newspapers and (maybe) TV shows to talk about it, to get people to read it so they can recommend it to others, to get into book clubs, to...

It's all so exhausting!

While I don't mind doing all that, and my business and consulting background has prepared me for the marketing, promotional and publicity activities. But I don't enjoy them. Yes, I'd be all jazzed up when I go and sign my books, or talk to a store manager, but afterwards I'd feel so exhausted. Down. Sometimes empty.

What I realized in the past few days is that I want to write. I have stories in my head that need to come out. I have characters constantly speaking to me. But I shut them down, shut them out, because I can't handle all these voices at once. The voice that says, "You've got to call the book store today to set up a signing" is incompatible with the one that says, "You've got to write 1000 words on your WIP today." I'm the kind of creative person who doesn't use his left and right parts of his brain equally well, at the same time. When I'm in a publicity and business mode, my creativity suffers greatly. And when I'm in a creative mode, the last thing I want to do is handle the business.

But both are essential to the health of a writer's life. It's a common struggle, at least for those who want to be published and make a living doing so. How many times have we heard a writer exclaim, "All I want to do is write!" The reality is, we need to do all that other crap: submissions, rejections, marketing, book signings, etc. While some people can switch easily between tasks, others like me would have a hard time doing both at the same time.

What I realized, though, is that I need to set a schedule. I'll be the first to admit that I hate schedules. I don't do routines; I hate them. But I realize I really must set a work schedule, now that I have a new book out, and the second one is in the works. It's very important that I give both attention, but I can't do that at the same time.

I need to write. I need to nurture my creativity and finish writing and revising A Long Way From Here. I also need to continue to spread the word and market The Pacific Between so it doesn't die prematurely or a slow, quiet death.

What I need to do, I believe, is a schedule that clearly separates the two. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and seven days a week. The marketing needs to happen some time during the week, because most people work on week days. So I'm thinking of devoting Wednesdays and Thursdays to the marketing activities. That would leave me Friday through Tuesday to write.

Would that work? Like I said, I don't do routines and I hate schedules. But clearly my current work-week is not working for me. I spend way too much time thinking and doing marketing activities; I'm neglecting my writing, which is really what I love the most. I can't continue to neglect that part of my life, which brings me joy and satisfaction. I need to do something about that.

I also realized that there's only so much I could do for The Pacific Between. I'll keep talking about it whenever I can (without being obnoxious). I'll keep getting book signings and getting the word out. But the rest is really out of my control. People would either start reading it, liking it, and spreading the word about it, or the book would sink. Perhaps, it's time to scale back and relax, and let fate does its magic.

Meanwhile, I have many stories to tell.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

The Mystery of Reviews

/Rant On

Sometimes I don't know how reviewers pick and choose books to review. And it gets frustrating. My publisher sent out a whole bunch of review copies, and so far none of those places have reviewed the book or even acknowledged it. OK, maybe it's unrealistic to think that Publisher Weekly would take notice, but the fact is that they have reviewed Behler's books before, three or four times already. That makes me wonder: Is my book so dull looking and sounding that they have no interest in it at all? I don't know.

I mean, usually Midwest Reviews would review almost everything that comes their way, but so far they haven't said a word about TPB. I even made the book available for reviewers on BlogCritics and so far there are no bites. Am I doing something wrong? I think the book has a great, attractive cover, and the premise is at least interesting, and I'd like to think that the writing is good enough. Sometimes I just want people to give me a chance -- they don't have to like what they read, but at least pick it out and read it. Darnit. I guess I do have a problem with being ignored. I'd rather someone read it and says, "I don't like it," than someone just keeps the book in a pile. In similar ways, I didn't mind all the rejections I got, because at least these people went through my material and took the time to read it. It's the ones who never replied that bugged me. For example, one agent asked for a full and then a revision, but she never replied afterwards, after more than a year now. What's going on? A simple "yes" or "no" would have been fine.

I'm glad that I went ahead and contacted some reviewers on my own; otherwise, I would have had no reviews on my book at all a and that would have been really sad. And I'm with a legitimate small press. I can't imagine how difficult it is to garner a review for POD and self-published authors. It must be incredibly difficult.

On one hand, I know I need to work hard to get the words out, etc. On the other hand, I am tired of feeling like I'm begging. I hate to feel like nobody cares to give me a break. I can't imagine how much more frustrated I would have been had I gone the POD or self-pub route. So, I am not going to ask anymore. I'll just the book speak for itself and maybe some day, people will take notice on their own. How many people actually buy books based on reviews anyway? I know I don't.

/Rant Off

I need coffee.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Four Little Words

All the promised fortune in the world, fame in the universe, the pain and joy of seeing my book through publication, and it comes down to four little words.

I called my parents the other day, wishing them a Happy Chinese New Year, and I told them about my books being in the book stores, and I'd be doing a book signing some time soon. Before I clicked off, my mom whispered to me: "So proud of you."

I put down the phone. For a second, nothing registered. Then it hit me. Those four little words. So rare, so precious, so special. And I've earned them.

"So proud of you."

I guess I never truly understood the impact of this whole journey until now, as I realize that I have proven to my parents, when they're still alive, that dreams do come true. My parents' dreams have been squashed and forsaken so many times in the past that sometimes I don't even know if they believe in dreams anymore. They've always been supportive, but they've also always been fearful of broken dreams and promises. In my heart, I said to myself that I would prevail, that I would make this dream come true. Not just for myself, but for them as well. To make them believe again, that dreams do come true.

The road is still a long one -- so many things to learn, so many journeys to take, so many places to go. But I can now say that holding something as tangible as a book with my name on it, and something as intangible as ideas and imagination, is incredible. It truly is. It's like a baby's first step -- it might be small, wobbly, weak, and there will be many, many footsteps to follow -- but the single event is monumental.

I promise myself that I would never trivialize this achievement, no matter how insignificant I think of it sometimes.

"So proud of you."

Mean a world to me.

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Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

Here's to a classy lady and pioneer and champion of civil rights. May you rest in peace.