Tag Archives: ebooks

Dear Author reviewed Jade Yeo!

The-Perilous-Life-of-Jade-Yeo-by-Zen-Cho--187x300I’ve already done some bouncing about this on Twitter, but look at that! Dear Author reviewed The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, and liked it! :D I am profoundly chuffed, and am making this post primarily so I can reblog the cover with RECOMMENDS on it and coo over it forever.

I emailed them ages ago when the ebook was first out, but since I didn’t hear back from them I figured they weren’t interested and forgot about it. So I was astonished to see a pingback from Dear Author in my emails when I was going home from work on Friday.

I dithered a little over whether I should read the review, out of a vague feeling that maybe it would be more polite not to? Maybe I would read it and it would hurt my feelings? (I realised this was unlikely given the link said it was an A minus review, but what can I say.) But of course I succumbed to temptation and read it!

A couple of points:

(1) In case it interests people to know how much difference something like this makes — I noticed after the review was posted that I’d made a couple of new sales on Smashwords, was pleased, and went on with my day. It’s just occurred to me to check Amazon, and there have been around 50 sales. To give context, there were all of 2 sales last month.

Keep in mind that this is a story that is free to read on my website, and the review says so. What this says to me is that you can trust readers to pay for books if they feel they’re gonna get some kind of value and the pricing is reasonable. I believe that readers on the whole want to do right by authors, and all authors/publishers need to do is make that possible — ensure the conditions that enable readers to do what comes natural.

(On a tangent, when I wrote that I felt horribly tempted to tweak the above sentence to make it clear that of course I do not count as an author. Impostor syndrome, my old friend!)

(2) The only thing I would take issue with in that review is the “infidelity” tag. I kind of get it, because I can see that as a reader you might decide that non-monogamy in a romance is not your bag, and you want to avoid that. That is fine, of course. But polyamory is not infidelity. Jade’s Romantic Interest #1 is not unfaithful to his wife in making advances to Jade, because his wife is down with it — he is acting in accordance with their understanding. It is possible to be unfaithful in a polyamorous relationship, but Hardie isn’t.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that! This all reminds me that recently I decided I wanted to write a sequel to Jade, and hopefully I will do that, and self-publish that too. (I want to do a series about Jade’s daughter and grand-daughter and maybe great-granddaughter even, if the dates work.) But this is all for the future. For now, I must focus on my book!

End of the Road ebook

End of the Road, an anthology of weird road trip stories (click on the title for the full Table of Contents), is now available as an ebook from the Rebellion Store:

End of the Road ebook

Features writers like Philip Reeve, Lavie Tidhar, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Vandana Singh, and me! I understand the print version (which is v. pretty!) will be available in December — you can pre-order it from Amazon or Amazon UK. But if you prefer ebooks you can buy and read it now!

My story is about a ghost who balik kampung for the Hungry Ghost Festival, and in the process unwillingly solves the mystery of her death.

Hungry ghosts were the spirits of the unfortunate, unlamented dead: those who were killed violently; who died burdened by unfulfilled longings; who had been greedy or ungenerous in life; who were forgotten by their living. It was obvious to Lydia which category she fell into.

The story features Kampar curry chicken bread in a cameo role. It’s more melancholy than funny, but hopefully it’s a bit funny. Lydia travels northwards to get to her kampung, of course. One of these days I should have a protagonist from Muar. I don’t know anything about Muar, but there’s always Google!

I still want to write a humorous mystery novel with this premise. You could have a whole series about a hungry ghost detective solving crimes both supernatural and mundane! Only problem is, how do you write detective novels???

Weekly reading meme: w/c 1 April 2013

I must start to have some system for titling these posts — they can’t all be “Weekly reading meme! :D” or “Books books books”.

What are you reading now?

Jane Austen’s letters (the set edited by Deirdre Le Faye – she ought to write romance novels with such a name). I was meant to finish these a couple of posts ago, but … I didn’t …. To be fair, the book and I were in different countries for about ten days since I last mentioned it! It’s a wee bit of a slog despite Jane’s delightful style, because it is, of course, all about people you don’t know and incidents you haven’t been told about. (And the juiciest letters have been destroyed! Cassandra >:( ) There are footnotes, but sometimes you flip to the back of the book and it obligingly tells you about how the reference to Capt H and Mrs S is about a scandalous elopement gossiped about in the papers, but sometimes you flip back and it’s just like “Mrs D D probably stands for Mrs Dean Dundas”. Yeah. Thanks, footnotes.

I am also rereading Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. My ostensible reason is that it’s prep for my space minuet, but my real reason is that I love it. Lucy Snowe is so creepy and judgmental! (She has good reasons for the former, but not really for the latter.) I can’t work out what her feelings for Dr John are. I dislike Dr John but am impressed by how Bronte pulls out a romantic dark horse from apparently nowhere. But he’s been lurking in the background all along.

The problem of M Paul is that one struggles to envision a retelling of him that doesn’t have creepy racist overtones. Because his portrayal is so racialised!

I had forgotten how everyone in the novel is connected to everyone in some way. It’s like there’s only three families in total in England and fake-Belgium combined. I mean, I know in expat communities you do tend to know everyone, and that guy you see at karaoke sessions always does turn out to be dating your colleague’s roommate, but still, Villette takes it a bit far.

What did you just finish reading?

The Third Miss Symons by F. M. Mayor, because I read this list in the Guardian of best books set in East Anglia and the description of Mayor’s book The Rector’s Daughter (“heartbreaking and acute 1924 tale of Mary Jocelyn, high-minded daughter of the rector of Dedmayne”) made me think it would be right up my alley, but I couldn’t find that novel on Gutenberg. But I was right, because The Third Miss Symons totally is right up my alley. It’s about the problem of being unhappy and not really having anything in your life that makes it worth living – the problem of not being significant to yourself. (Spoiler: it’s kind of depressing.) It made me think of this recent letter to Captain Awkward, Help me stop being mean, where the letter-writer talks about being mean because of their jerkbrain.

The opposite of The Third Miss Symons is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. There is no such escape for Miss Symons as is granted to Miss Pettigrew. I’m glad Miss S gets a kind of happy ending, and it works in the context of the book and the characters’ and author’s likely beliefs. But because it’s not really a happy ending unless you are Christian and/or believe in that sort of thing, I don’t feel it is copping out, and respect Mayor for taking the story to its logical conclusion and not giving Miss S some unexpected windfall of love and happiness.

Oh, and I finished Tales of Ogonshoto (the English translation of Naratif Ogonshoto) by Anwar Ridhwan before I left Malaysia. It was OK, not bad — some it very clever. I think the translation would have benefited from some copyediting — the translation was on the whole serviceable, and I think gave a flavour of what the original text must be like, but there was a lot of tense confusion which unfortunately detracted from the polish of the prose.

What do you expect to read next?

Hmm, dunno wor! Oh, I guess I will read Harriette Wilson’s Memoirs, which I’ve had out from the library for a good while. I’ve already read a bit of the beginning, and it is both funny and really sad. (Harriette Wilson was a well-known Regency courtesan – and she was kind of sold to her first dude at age 15.)

It is no good that my reading is so white at the moment, but it is a side-effect of the fact that I am trying to read things that will be helpful for my current and future writing projects. Though ooh ooh ooh – I got Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds for £1.19 on the Kindle (alas, the sale is now over). So I will get to reward myself with that at some point! \o/

Malaysian science fiction and fantasy in English

Edited to add: From March 2015, this list will no longer be updated. Please check out the Malaysian SFF Directory instead for up-to-date details of the Malaysian SFF scene.

Following a Twitter exchange I drew up a list of all the Malaysian SFF writers in English I knew of. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Joyce Ch’ng asked me to post it, so here it is. It is by no means comprehensive, and I welcome suggestions for additions.

Also, super a lot of links, so give me a shout if any of them are broken ya.

Please get in touch if you would like to be included on the list, or if you have any names to suggest, or if you would like to correct any errors.

Authors

Angeline Woon has a short SF story in Futura (see Projects below for details): The Domed City. Further details about her work are available on her website.

A. M. Muffaz has a long list of publications including short stories at Fantasy Magazine in 2008 and 2009: A Foreigner’s View of the River and Into the Monsoon.

Cassandra Khaw has a short story in Issue 5 of Lackington’s Magazine. She’s also Media Reviews Editor for SFF zine Strange Horizons.

Eeleen Lee‘s writing straddles a number of different genres – literary, SFF, horror, crime and erotica. Fixi Novo has published a collection of her short stories, 13 Moons. She also has a story at Futura (see Projects below for details).

Eeleen also wrote a couple of overviews of local genre fiction in English for SFF Portal: The Rough Guide to Modern Malaysian Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Magical Roots of Malaysian Horror Fiction in English.

Fadzlishah Johanabas writes SFF short stories, and I think also writes slice of life. Examples: Kuda Kepang; Act of Faith. Also has a story in the Fixi Novo KL Noir: Red anthology, an anthology of noir short stories set in KL (many of which are SFnal).

Golda Mowe is a Sarawakian writer of Iban and Melanau heritage. A commenter alerted me to her YA fantasy novel Iban Dream, which draws on Iban mythology, and is available as an ebook and in print — click on the title to go to the Monsoon Books website, which has links to retailers.

Ika Koeck used to go by Ika Vanderkoeck and had a short story called Crossing The Waters in DAW anthology Ages of Wonder. I understand she’s been working on novels, and has self-published a short story: To Kill A King.

Jaymee Goh does a lot of non-fiction writing about steampunk and race, which includes blog posts for Tor.com. She’s also published a few steampunk short stories, e.g. Lunar Year’s End.

Julya Oui is a horror writer who has published a couple of short story collections: Bedtime Stories: From The Dead of Night and Here Be Nightmares. She has also collaborated on a horror comic: Nefarious Nights, Dreadful Days.

KS Augustin writes science fiction, fantasy and contemporary romance. Her stuff’s been published by Carina Press, among others: In Enemy Hands.

Megat Ishak has a short story collection featuring zombies and other horrors, Dark Highways.

Nin Harris created and co-edits Demeter’s Spicebox, a Cabinet des Fees spin-off fairytale/folktale retellings zine. She’s had speculative poetry published in Goblin FruitThe Domestic Sundial — and I liked her essay in Stone Telling on Malay poetry, Visions of Courtly Life Translated into Contemporary Meditations: Muhammad Haji Salleh’s Sajak-Sajak Sejarah Melayu.

Shivani Sivagurunathan had a poem published in Abyss and Apex a while ago. Unfortunately you can’t access it without a subscription, but presumably it was speculative! I enjoyed her short story The Bat Whisperer despite the weird formatting – it’s not quite SFF, but probably counts as slipstream. Shivani also has a short story at Futura (see Projects below for details).

Stephanie Lai is an Australian-Malaysian writer of steampunk: The Last Rickshaw.

I’m not sure if Ted Mahsun has been otherwise published, but he’s self-published a couple of SFF short stories as ebooks. One of them is the entertainingly titled Zombies Ate My Muslim.

Tessa Kum is a writer and editor who’s done a bunch of things, including editing Weird Tales and collaborating with Jeff VanderMeer on a number of Halo tie-in stories. She’s also had short fiction published — see her bibliography on GoodReads.

Tunku Halim has been writing horror for a while – I remember reading his short stories in secondary school. They were memorably horrible! Most of his writing seems to be in dead-tree form and only available in Malaysia, but you can check out his ebooks. He also had a short story, Biggest Baddest Bomoh, in The Apex Book of World SF.

Fixi Novo has released a collection of Tunku Halim’s stories which is available on Amazon, Horror Stories, as well as a novel, Last Breath.

Yangsze Choo‘s historical fantasy novel The Ghost Bride is a literary ghost story set in 1890s colonial Malaya and the Chinese world of the dead, about a woman who “must uncover her dead suitor’s secrets before she is forced to become his spirit bride”.

Yen Ooi has published a science fiction novel called Sun: Queens of Earth. Read a teaser here!

Zed Adam Idris wrote a lesbian robot story I liked called Batu Belah in ZI Publications anthology Malaysian Tales: Retold and Remixed. His story The Hunter and the Tigress in Clutch, Brake, Sellerator And Other Stories was also fantasy.

Projects

A collaboration between indie pulp press Fixi Novo, online mag Poskod.my, and arts festival #Word: The Cooler Lumpur Festival, Futura brings together six writers and illustrators to imagine Kuala Lumpur 50 years in the future. Click on the link to read the short stories and admire the art!

Publishers & other languages

There’s also a thriving Malay-language SFF/horror scene, which I am not remotely qualified to go into – I mean, if you’re both able to read it and interested in reading it, you probably already know more about it than me lor. But e.g. a quick review of local indie pulp press Fixi‘s catalogue will turn up a number of SFF novels (zombies in Putrajaya! Aliens invade KL! Weretigers! I think there’s one about robots in the Golden Age of Melaka???). They’ve also got a new imprint for English-language pulp novels and anthologies, Fixi Novo – no SFF so far, but it’s only a matter of time.

ETA: Jaymee has pointed out that publisher PTS has an extensive Malay-language fantasy catalogue.

Emerging for air

This week at work — ! Words fail me. I should probably check my work email, actually, but I will leave it till after I have finished this post.

On the shiny new smartphone: Swype is a proper revelation! Infinite thanks to delfinnium for pointing it out to me. It is still slower than keyboard typing, but I am doing much better with it than I was tapping away on the touchscreen. However, the Eljay app continues to be disappointing in the matter of allowing me to read my friends list, on either DW or LJ. I think it’s because it believes I want the advertising turned off (on the free app you can only read your flist if you enable advertising) — but I keep turning the advertising on and not seeing any ads, or my flist. I am wondering whether to just pay for the damned thing so I can get a look at my flist, but if it doesn’t work now what reassurance do I have that it would work when I’ve paid for it?

Since I’ve got a couple of months’ worth of paid account time, I have been indulging myself with reading my Dreamwidth network. This has afforded me the additional, quite unexpected pleasure of stumbling across kind reviews of The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by people I don’t know — I think because a couple of people I do know recommended it when it was free, so people I don’t know downloaded it then and are only just getting around to reading and reviewing. So thank you very much to those who mentioned it. It has been a nice wee boost to balance out the recent rejection (of the short story collection I’ve been querying — not at all a surprise, since trying to get publishers to take short story collections is a dicey proposition at the best of times, but still hardly the “yes please!” response of one’s lurid writerly dreams).

***

What are you reading now?

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I like Anne Lamott, though she is very … er … I dunno how to say. She strikes me as a progressive white lady who very much thinks of herself as a progressive white lady, but she is not quite so progressive as she thinks. (E.g. she mentions hanging out with “ethnic people” at college because she was a bit of an outcast growing up and was drawn to other people who are ~different~.) But her writing is very easy and fun to read, and it is a good writing book because it is not prescriptive.

After all the only writing about writing that can be tolerated is that which is personal. Otherwise you get into “don’t use adverbs” and “show, not tell” type stuff — infinitely tedious, often just plain wrong.

What did you just finish reading?

A Brief History of Britain, 1660-1851 by William Gibson. I didn’t read all of it — started somewhere near the middle of the eighteenth century — but I will count it as finished. It was more fun than I thought it’d be! The period from Walpole to Pitt was boring because it was all about politics, and made me reflect on the fact that history’s often being perceived as the story of who is in power (as opposed to: what everybody else was doing) makes it boring. Though of course you do have to understand the macro stuff to put what everybody else was doing in context … is the question of who was Prime Minister and the squabbles intrigue surrounding that really macro stuff, though?

But the stuff about the industrial revolution, though really a little later than what I was reading for (it is background research for my Regency fantasy romance!), was really interesting. And in fact I’m going to contradict myself a little here and say that even the Walpole stuff taught me something new, because the whole system of corruption and patronage up top made sense of why Jack Aubrey is always worried about “interest”.

Other things I had not known:

– There were four royal Georges in a row from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. How uncreative!

– Stockbroking was a new thing in the nineteenth century because they had all this extra money from the industrial revolution that needed investing.

– Before the 1660s there weren’t all these hedgerows bisecting (multiply-secting?) the English countryside — those came about because of enclosures. You think of hedgerows as being so typical of the English landscape that it is very interesting to think that it would’ve looked totally different before enclosures.

There was other stuff … but I have forgotten it.

So zhun (准), just as I had got to the last page and was starting to look through the “further reading”, my book expired and I couldn’t go on. (It was a library ebook.) I have reborrowed it so I can make notes on further reading.

What do you expect to read next?

I’m not done with Bird by Bird yet, but I’ve got to leave it at whatever percent for now, because it’s not got an expiry date, whereas I borrowed a couple of new ebooks from the library which do:

Japanese for Beginners by Katie Kitamura, by a Japanese-American about Japan — which I don’t think I’ll bother reading: I read the first few pages but it is too literary-journalistic, when I was hoping for more of a personal memoir sort of thing (e.g. when Kitamura meets her cousin at the airport, her cousin suddenly becomes the emblem of the “cool generation” of Japan, blah blah departure from previous generation’s values of hard work and depersonalised ambition blah).

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley, which I will read — it is about a lady in eighteenth century France who travelled on a ship making a round-the-world trip to (presumably among other places) Tahiti, dressed as a dude and doing Science. I am a little dubious because early on the author says that Baret could not have published her work on birds or whatever in France because society would have viewed her as a whore!!! I could accept an argument that such work would have been viewed as totally out of a woman’s sphere, perhaps leading on to the point that deviation from the norm in a woman is/was often couched in terms of sexual deviation, a betrayal of her inherent femininity … Or perhaps Ridley meant that by publishing Baret would have revealed that she’d shared her boyfriend’s cabin for the duration of the voyage, and so society would have viewed her as a whore. But the bald statement that a lady publishing science would have been viewed as whorish for publishing science seems to me to require some explication.

It is an interesting story anyway, so I will read on.

Self-publishing sales figures: half a year of Jade Yeo

I haven’t been keeping too close an eye on the sales figures for The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo ebook, but fairly recently I ventured into the jungle of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing earnings reports and was intrigued by what I discovered.

As you probably noticed if you were reading my blog then, I self-published Jade as an ebook at the end of May this year and also published the novella for free as a web serial on this very blog, posting a new section a day for 20 days. Even though all the content was free on my blog, I set a price on the ebook of US$0.99 — I figured the different, more portable ebook form was worth something even if its innards were on display for all to see in blog posts.

What I thought would happen

What I figured would happen was that people would buy the ebook within the first week of publication — mostly my friends, and perhaps some people who didn’t know me personally but had read and liked my short stories. Sales might continue as long as I was posting new sections and tweeting about them, since that might draw more attention, and then sales would tail off and eventually peter out.

What actually happened

Contrary to my expectations, my sales haven’t yet died a natural death, and they haven’t been decreasing steadily as I expected. Sales went down after the first two months of publication — but then they went up again, to my great surprise. Apart from the first couple of months (when I sold about 60 copies), I’ve been selling about 20 copies per month, with the ratio being about 15 on Amazon and <5 on Smashwords per month.

I’ve now sold 140 copies in total — 47 via Smashwords (through which ebooks are available on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc.), the remaining via Amazon. Now 140 is obviously rather a small number, but given that Booker shortlisted author Tan Twan Eng’s Garden of Evening Mists shifted a grand total of 174 copies before the Booker effect kicked in, I’m rather pleased about it!

The marketing

Continue reading

Bloody Fabulous and a title poll

Rather belated, but urban fantasy anthology about fashion Bloody Fabulous, ed. Ekaterina Sedia, was out in October. My story is in it! You can get a copy from Amazon or Book Depository, and there’s an ebook version as well. My story THE FIRST WITCH OF DAMANSARA is about annoying family members and pretty dresses.

Vivian’s late grandmother was a witch–which is just a way of saying she was a woman of unusual insight. Vivian, in contrast, had a mind like a hi-tech blender. She was sharp and purposeful, but she did not understand magic.

This used to be a problem. Magic ran in the family. Even her mother’s second cousin who was adopted did small spells on the side. She sold these from a stall in Kota Bharu. Her main wares were various types of fruit fried in batter, but if you bought five pisang or cempedak goreng, she threw in a jampi for free.

Vivian is an accountant. I’ve realised I use accountants too often in my stories, as a sort of symbol of order and rationality. I must diversify. Why should accountants take on all the fictive burden of championing order? Why not plumbers, transfer pricing specialists, fish feed salespeople, corporate communications executives?

***

I am trying to decide what I would call a collection of short stories by me. Awesome Title of Awesomeness is the current working title, but it probably won’t do. What proposed title do you like best?

1) Here, There and Elsewhere (I think this is a bit boring, but Cephas likes it. It’s because the collection would be organised according to setting, with stories set in Malaysia, overseas, and in other places (e.g. the Moon) grouped accordingly.)

2) Between Worlds

3) The House of Aunts

4) One-Day Travelcard for Fairyland

5) First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia

They are none of them too good, are they? I would like something quite hip, but not offensively so. I am open to suggestions! My stories are mostly about sensible girls or women dealing with a puzzling world. Maybe I should call it The Book of Accountants.