I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing my Improv for Writers workshop at the inaugural Salisbury Literary Festival this October 29th. They've had the great idea to offer creative warm-ups for writers on day two of the festival, which is dedicated to writing where day one is dedicated to reading. You can read about how improv has benefited my writing, and watch a video of me improvising stories on the spot, here.
What are the advantages to the traditional publishing route, despite the patience it requires? What's essential for the self-publisher? How do the hybrid, crowd-funded options work?
These are some of the questions fellow American author Suz Korb and I addressed at our talk last Saturday, 5 August, at Wayland's Yard in Worcester. We had about 25 participants in the lovely Community Room upstairs, and while the weather lurched between sunshine and rain outside, inside we grappled with our dreams and the practical considerations of the writing life.
As these are things we also discuss in our Twitter feeds, you can have a look at @A_J_Lester and @SuzKorb for more. I also highly recommend following @FionaMoMitchell, as it's her regular subject as well, and her blog does a great job of laying out the ups and downs of getting one's work into print.
(Fortunately, Wayland's Yard is a dog-friendly café, so our miniature schnauzer, Jasper, could chill in the back row...)
Yesterday evening was like a dream - the best kind of dream. There were surprises, but they were all good! I have to thank Birmingham Waterstones for their bright space and enthusiastic staff, and Blake Woodham of Brum Radio for being such a seasoned and interested MC.
I took the opportunity to read from Lillian on Life as well as Yuki Means Happiness, as I was living in Singapore when my first novel was published, and didn't get a chance to do any readings here ("It's my party and I'll read what I want to."). The assembled crowd was so warm and attentive, and it was wonderful to hear how much people enjoyed being read to. We do as children. We do as adults. Lovely.
I also sang ("It's my party and I'll sing if I want to") a Japanese folk song, 'Habu no Minato'.
In order for everyone to have at least a tiny taste of Japan, we poured sake - Japanese rice wine - into disposable shot glasses and offered bowls of rice crackers and wasabi peas. The sake was drained, and the books sold out.
This week I've been short on sleep, and long on satisfaction.
Many thanks to everyone involved.
Fellow American writer Suz Korb and I will be speaking to writers and readers at Wayland's Yard in Worcester on Saturday, 5 August, about the diverse ways we have gone about getting our work into print. Suz writes in a range of genres, and is a master of self-publishing techniques, and I'm really looking forward to the discussion, and to much Q&A!
The very dynamic Waterstones bookstore in Birmingham (UK) will be holding the publication-day event for Yuki Means Happiness on 27 July at 6:30pm. I'll be doing a short talk and reading, and then will be in discussion with Blake Woodham of Brum Radio's Book Show. More details here: https://www.waterstones.com/events/yuki-means-happiness/birmingham
My second novel (well, of course I've written more than that, but the second novel fit to sell) will be published by John Murray on 27 July 2017! Details can be found on the Yuki Means Happiness page under 'Books'.
After 25 years in Asia, I recently moved to the UK! Looking forward to connecting with UK readers and writers!
I really enjoyed thinking about Lauren Michelle Brock's questions in this interview we did via email. I thought she came at Lillian on Life from a very interesting direction. Then she made this neato jpeg too.
You know how busy the end of the year gets. Maybe you're behind in your To Do List too? Here are a couple of things I've been meaning to put up but traveling and writing and mince pies got in the way.
In November - The Singapore Writers Festival. Wonderful! I was delighted to have been asked to host sessions featuring the likes of Madeleine Thien, Xinran, Whiti Hereaka, Samanth Subramanian, Elizabeth Pisani, and Kelvin Tan. I also shared the stage in the 'Real to Print' session with Thaddeus Rutkowski and Siow Lee Chin, where we discussed using our own lives in our writing.
In December - The 48 Hour Film Project. I was invited by the writer/director (also brilliant painter) Leo Poloniecki to join his team, not to help with the writing, but with the acting! In this international project, teams are each given a genre (we got 'Detective/Cop'), and all teams have to include the same three elements in their film. In Singapore's case, it was a character called Mr./Mrs. Anderson, President; the line "Look what you just did, you..."; and a set of barbecue tongs. The writing began at 9:30pm on the Friday night, filming took place on the Saturday, and editing began after that, all finishing at 9:30pm on the Sunday. At the awards ceremony on the following weekend, we learned that we'd won! Our film has now been sent off to join the winning entries from the rest of the world, to be judged at the filmapalooza festival in Atlanta in March. Fingers crossed!
The paperback edition of Lillian on Life will be out in the UK on July 2nd, and the book has a whole new look, and new quotes from great writers too! Yowza!
It was a pleasure (and not just because of the midday wine!) to discuss Lillian, and life, and writing with the women of the American Women's Association writers group and the Thursday Book Club. Only some of us were from the US; Canada, France, Ecuador and China were also represented.
On January 30, one day after Lillian on Life came out in the UK, we had our launch event here in Singapore. Many thanks to the Alliance Française for hosting and making sure there was wine! Many thanks to Penguin Books for making sure there was food as well as books!
The opportunity to read from both the French and English versions to so many good friends and enthusiastic readers made the moment very special.
On January 14, I took a true story I wrote about how much the retirement community my parents lived in at the end of my dad's life reminded me of college, all the way down to the crushes people had on each other, and about how those crushes were welcome signs of life, and told it to a wonderful audience at Telling Stories Live here in Singapore. I'll post about it again when the audio is available!
I met the very inspiring playwright Kaite O'Reilly at the Singapore Writers Festival. We exchanged books and experiences, and bless her she now has me featured in the '20 Questions' part of her blog. Thanks Kaite!
What a thrill and honor it was to learn that Kate Atkinson enjoyed reading Lillian on Life during the summer holidays. I've been a big fan since I read Started Early, Took My Dog. She's incredibly versatile, and never quite what I expect. Here's what she said:
"I absolutely loved Lillian on Life. It was a delight. The style of it so fresh and clever and subversive and there’s something very brave about it."
Many thanks to the readers who came to The French Bookshop for the signing on the 13th, and a round of applause for Nathalie Ribette and her wonderful reading of the first chapter in French.