If You Guessed San Francisco…

….you’re correct!!

_1070619

I stumbled across this yellow suitcase in a thrift store in San Francisco, while visiting friends for a weekend. It called to me. Even from day one it was begging to have its story told.

_TMK0328And the winners of a copy of my book, as determined by random number generator, are:

Catherine, from La Memoire Vive

Hyacynth, from Undercover Mother

And the winner of a copy of my book AND a special surprise from Thailand is:

{drumroll please}

Jennifer Kirkby Tatro!

I’ll be messaging the winners shortly. But for the others who participated, hang tight, as there will be more opportunities in future {hint, hint: Christmastime…}. If you can’t wait that long, my book can be found here on Amazon, through this link for The Yellow Suitcase

Thanks to everyone who participated!!

A Giveaway!

_1070583Because it’s Friday, and because I love you, and because his cheeks are chubby….I’m giving away THREE copies of my book, The Yellow Suitcase - one to each of three lucky winners, one of whom will ALSO win a special surprise from Thailand!

That was a convoluted sentence. Anyway, all you have to do to enter to win is comment here on my blog, on Facebook, or on Instagram with the answer to this little trivia question:

In what major U.S. city was I when I stumbled across the yellow suitcase that inspired my novel?

The winners and answer will be announced on Monday! You have all weekend to participate.

Note: Your answer need not be correct to be entered in or to win the giveaway. Only one answer per person though, please.

A Momentous Week! 09.10.14

cover-a My book, The Yellow Suitcase, is now on sale on Amazon, starting Sept 10! Here is the back cover copy:

In a sleepy riverside town in the heart of Thailand, Ae Lin, a former Bangkok bar girl determined to put a painful history behind her, pours her passions into her new coffee shop and her resolve to create a life of her own making. But the past comes to find her in the form of an estranged and angry sister who insists she fulfill one remaining family obligation: to visit and pay respect to their dying father – which is the last thing she wants to do. As Ae Lin grapples with the desire to flee and the pressures to return, she meets Sai Kyin, a refugee from Burma, who had no choice but to leave home and all he loved behind. Prompted by the guidance of Luang Paw, a rather unconventional Buddhist monk, the stories of Ae Lin’s and Sai Kyin’s traumas converge as their memories unfold, in a tale about what happens to the fallen and what it takes to heal.

The Yellow Suitcase is an exploration of the devastating effects of dark family secrets where the lines between victim and perpetrator, and innocence and guilt, become increasingly blurred. The novel offers a poignant and heartbreaking portrait of the deepest kinds of betrayal, and a thoughtful rumination on forgiveness, healing, and the power of truth.

Click on the link above (the book’s title), or the button in the sidebar at right to order your copy today!

—————————-

In other big news, Cy became a one-year-old today! We of course celebrate a person’s birthday, but now I kind of feel like parents need to be celebrated on birthdays too–for managing to keep their kid alive that long! Haha, I’m kidding of course, but it sure does feel like a personal milestone.

_1070516

 

Speaking of milestones, Cy just took his first real unassisted steps yesterday, the day before he turned one! He had taken a couple at my mom’s house a few days before, but he was really for real walking yesterday. I’m excited and also trepidatious as I’m sure now I’ll really have to start running after him, with all the new kinds of trouble he’ll find to get into. He’s also started clapping his hands, putting them together in a wai (the Thai way of greeting) when we say, “Sawatdee krap,” and dancing when he hears music or any kind of beat. His dancing is so cute, especially when he adds a little extra butt wiggle.

To celebrate his birthday, we took him for his first trip to the zoo. His eyes were saucer-wide. I think his favorite part was feeding the animals.

We fed sheep:

sheepAnd a giraffe:

_1070522

 

An elephant:

elephunkAnd….a jaguar, ’cause why not.

jaguarHis eyes were so big and serious when he was feeding the elephant in particular. I’m not sure he even processed seeing the whole elephant; I think he might have only been aware of this long hairy trunk coming at him. But he was undaunted.

I can’t wait to take him again!

Thanks for stopping by this week and sharing in our celebrations! Join in for more fun around the world at Communal Global and Little Things Thursday!

Little by Little



Things I Wish I Could Tell My Readers


My book is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Order your copy of The Yellow Suitcase today, and receive it on your e-reader automatically, when the book becomes available September 10!

It took me just shy of four years to produce this book. The first year was spent writing the first draft. The second was devoted to revisions and many, many more drafts. In the third year, I tested the waters with professionals in the publishing industry. This last year was spent trying to build up the guts to put it out in public.

The good thing about writing a novel is that by the end of the book you end up a better writer than when you started. The bad thing is that by the end of the book, you end up a better writer than when you started, so when you go back to the beginning, you see how badly you wrote, and you revise, and revise, and revise, generally getting better, but never getting done. You never reach a point where you’re 100% satisfied with it, only 100% done with working on it.

Part of what is so scary about putting it out in public is trying to imagine how others will receive it. Will they think it’s stupid? Or (perhaps even worse), will they think it’s boring? Given the premise of the story, it was necessary for me to include some sexual violence (though I hope not a gratuitous amount), and part of my fears lie in what my friends will think as they read those parts. Writing and reading are such intimate acts: for the span in which I have your attention, my voice is in your head, and you are in mine. It’s scary to invite others in so deep.

An early reader once suggested to me that she thought my story would be a hard sell to publishing houses because it needed more “padding” for the reader to safely engage with the story, protected from the crises and trauma of the main character. She wanted more filters, like nostalgia and the sweeping historical drama of Memoirs of A Geisha, to make the hard parts easier to read. She had a very valid point. But I have faith that readers in 2014 are different than the readers of 1997, and I have faith that my readers are capable of more than such publishers might give them credit for. I have faith that my readers don’t need Richard Gere to save Julia Roberts from her own crassness to be able to engage with a story, and they don’t need another male author romanticizing the sale of young girls to make it a tale worth reading. I think, if anything, #YesAllWomen shows that today’s women can handle hard truths and that speaking them aloud may show us we’re not alone. And I have hope that what makes my story worth reading is not because of what happens to Ae Lin so much as who she becomes because of, or in spite of it, and how she seeks to overcome it.

Because ultimately my story was driven by a question I had, and the book was my attempt to answer it. In writing it, I learned that publishing a book isn’t the end or the final step. If I did what I really wanted to do, it’s only the beginning. I hope it is the beginning of a conversation, and I hope after reading it, my readers will want to talk to me about it and continue the conversation.

Scenes From My Week 08.13.14

Three things to share with you this week!

First off, my little ham:_1070329 _1070336 _1070343 _1070344

Second, some fresh flowers and herbs to brighten up the day:
_1070362 _1070367 _1070368

And third, I’m publishing a book, and I’m inviting YOU to help me choose a book cover design! Head over to THIS POST HERE to find out the details and enter for a chance to win the giveaway too!
three covers

And don’t forget to join us at Communal Global and Little Things Thursday!

Little by Little



Vote on My Book’s Cover!

When I announced last week that I am going to be publishing my novel, I was so thrilled and thankful to receive so many messages of support and encouragement from you all! That really makes this process a bit less scary and much more exciting. I really can’t wait to share with you this thing that has been such a big part of my life for several years now. I want to include you all in every step of the way, and I hope you’ll join me!

The first big thing on the agenda (and one of the most fun, I think!) is choosing a book cover design! My talented husband, Toby, drafted up some design options and we’ve narrowed it down to our top three. I would love for you to help choose the favorite!

So here’s the deal, I’m presenting below our top three candidates, and a draft of the back cover copy for your reference. Please select YOUR FAVORITE ONE and let me know via comment here on the blog, on Facebook, or Instagram (only one comment per person, please), and everyone who comments will be automatically entered in a giveaway for one winner to receive an advance copy of my ebook AND a special surprise gift from Thailand, as a thank you for your support.

Okay, are you ready?

Here is Book Cover Option A:

cover-aAs many potential buyers will be coming across the book online or via their e-readers, here’s what the thumbnail version, in color and black & white, will probably look like:

cover a_thumbBook Cover Option B:

cover-bAnd the thumbnail:

cover b_thumbBook Cover Option C:

cover-cAnd the thumbnail:

cover c_thumbWhich one would you be most likely to pick up? And should I be so lucky as to have captured your attention with my book cover, here is a draft of what you’ll find on the back cover:

In a sleepy riverside town in the heart of Thailand, Ae Lin, a former Bangkok bar girl determined to put a painful history behind her, pours her passions into her new coffee shop and her resolve to create a life of her own making. But the past comes to find her in the form of an estranged and angry sister who insists she fulfill one remaining family obligation: to visit and pay respect to their dying father – which is the last thing she wants to do. As Ae Lin grapples with the desire to flee and the pressures to return, she meets Sai Kyin, a refugee from Burma, who had no choice but to leave home and all he loved behind. Prompted by the guidance of Luang Paw, a rather unconventional Buddhist monk, the stories of Ae Lin’s and Sai Kyin’s traumas converge as their memories unfold, in a tale about what happens to the fallen and what it takes to heal.

The Yellow Suitcase is an exploration of the devastating effects of dark family secrets where the lines between victim and perpetrator, and innocence and guilt, become increasingly blurred. The novel offers a poignant and heartbreaking portrait of the deepest kinds of betrayal, and a thoughtful rumination on forgiveness, healing, and the power of truth.

“…effectively examines the prostitutes’ difficult lives, outlining the terror, boredom, sisterhood and despair of their daily routines….An intriguing fictional look at Third World sex workers.” – Kirkus Reviews

Voting will be open for one week, ending on Tuesday, August 19. I’ll announce the giveaway winner and the winning book cover next week! Thanks again to everyone for your support!

Announcing….My Big News!

Da dadaDA! [Drumroll please]

Da dadaDA! [Drumroll please]

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was ready to finally share with you all something that has been going on behind the scenes here for…well, years. Are you ready? Here is my big news:

I wrote a book. A whole book! A novel, to be more precise. You’re going to be hearing a lot about it over the next several weeks because I’m publishing it, and it should be out in ebook format sometime in early-mid September. I’ll let you know the exact date soon, and a whole lot more detail over the coming weeks, but I just wanted to let you know:

I wrote a book, y’all. It’s written. It’s been revised {so many, many times}. It’s been professionally edited and reviewed. And next week YOU get to vote on the book cover design!

I promise that very soon I’ll be sharing tons about the story, my process, and lots of other tidbits that hopefully you’ll find fun and intriguing, but in the meantime, just so you know, it’s a story set here in Thailand, and the title is: THE YELLOW SUITCASE.

And I’m really hoping you’ll have as much fun reading it as I had writing it…and I really hope we can talk about it when you’re done!

Books To Savor: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

I use Grammarly’s grammar check because I don’t want to loose my mind!*

*Note: Did you catch the pun in the sentence above? To see if you got it, check out Grammarly today!

chabon The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
by Michael Chabon

It’s been several months since I’ve done a Books to Savor post, but that’s not for lack of reading. I still read quite a bit, though most of my reading is along the lines of parenting books and articles since someoneand I won’t say who–plopped into my life. But I do still read a novel or two, and during the first hazy, bleary-eyed weeks of parenthood, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is one I picked up.

I remember sitting on the couch, with little Cy in my lap having fallen asleep after nursing. I couldn’t move for fear of waking him. But what was I going to do with myself while he caught up on some Z’s? I spotted the teal and white spine of this book announcing itself on our bookshelf just beside the couch. It’s not one I normally would have picked for myself–I think it was a gift someone gave my husband?–but on that particular day, it called to me. I flipped to the first pages, not really knowing what I had picked up, and as Cy slept, I read. At the next nap, I kept reading. It wooed me slowly, and I was about a quarter of my way into the book (read over the course of several short baby naps) before I realized I had been seduced.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a novel that bridges genres. It’s part murder mystery, part noir, and part alternate history, with a whiff of love story. In this story, Jewish refugees have been thriving in a temporary safe haven created for them in Alaska, but their lease on the land is about to come to an end. Meyer Landsman, a talented homicide detective whose life is falling apart around him and career is about to end, lands himself a case: the killing of his neighbor, a young chess prodigy. Just as he starts investigating, word comes down from the powers-that-be to drop the case. This only makes him dig his heels in further. The deeper he gets into the case, the larger it becomes, spiraling outward into conspiracy, involving powerful and dangerous forces.

The plot line itself is fun, but what is most gripping about the story is the characters. Landsman, whose fate is mirrored in that of his people, is beautifully flawed and incredibly human. He feels so real, so tender, and yet hard; determined and yet sad. The characters of his ex-wife and his partner are also beautifully rendered and so recognizable as someone you might actually know. It’s in their personages that you feel the themes of exile and alienation emerging. The prose is equally seductive: terse, yet evocative, and laced with irony and dark humor. The world Chabon creates is incredibly real, and you wonder how he does it with such economy.

I didn’t know what I was picking up when I first grabbed this book, but I read it with relish. If you’re in the mood for something a little sweet, a little sad, a little funny, and yet surprisingly rich, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union might just be for you.

Books to Savor: {Reconstructing Amelia}

I’ve fallen a bit behind on these posts, primarily due to lack of energy, but I’ll get back on sharing with you some of what I’ve been reading lately.

ReconstructingAmelia hc c.JPGReconstructing Amelia: A Novel
by Kimberly McCreight

In the mood for suspense? This book will deliver. The story is about a single, litigation-lawyer mother whose high-achieving, 15-year-old daughter is caught cheating. Kate is forced to leave work to deal with her daughter, Amelia, only to arrive at the private school to find out that Amelia has committed suicide.

In the aftermath of her death, however, Kate begins receiving messages suggesting Amelia’s suicide was not a suicide at all. As she starts sifting through Amelia’s emails, texts, and Facebook messages, trying to reconstruct her daughter’s life, she begins to uncover unnerving secrets in her quest to find out the truth of why her daughter died.

There are a couple of points towards the end of the book where the story’s plausibility goes a tiny bit off the rails for me, but it didn’t detract much from how gripping a read it was. I liked the characters, and from start to finish, I could barely put the book down.

If you’re looking for something to get lost in for a few hours and are in the mood for something dark, thrilling, and suspenseful, with the tenderness of mother-daughter love interlaced through the secrets and lies, then I’d recommend giving Reconstructing Amelia a shot.

**Please note: The books I share are all books I’ve read and enjoyed, and bring to your attention only because I like to share the things I love. I’m not paid in any direct way for these reviews and I highly doubt any of the authors or publishers are aware I do them. Having said that, if you are interested in any of these reads, I’d appreciate if you click through the links to Amazon, as any purchases made will send a few pennies my way that I can use to buy more books to read and share with you. Thanks!

Books to Savor – {Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English}

rosenblum Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
by Natasha Solomons

This book reminds me quite a bit of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, so if you’re in the mood for something along those lines (a bit of whimsy and sweet, laced with dry British wit and crusty reserve), this will be a good read for you.

The story is about Jack Rosenblum and his wife Sadie, German Jews who escaped from the war as refugees to Britain, and upon arrival  were greeted with a pamphlet on how to act more British (primarily so as to not offend any of the natives with one’s foreignness). Mr. Rosenblum takes this pamphlet’s list of recommendations as holy commandments and, with one dictate after another, attempts to assimilate into his new country, chasing that ever elusive mark of “Britishness.” But one trait eludes him: membership in a country club.

As he plots and schemes to cross that last item off his list, his wife Sadie immerses herself in memories of what she has left behind. Instead of joining him in his quixotic whims, she wallows in the tastes, flavors, and memories of the old country, finding his optimism disrespectful of the past and loved ones who have died.

I don’t want to give away too much of what happens, but my favorite part of this book is the irony: what Jack chases compared to what he gets, but doesn’t see. And, having members in my own family who seem hell-bent on focusing on everything negative that has ever happened to them while blind to what they have, I found I really appreciated the dynamic between Jack and Sadie, and especially the insights into Sadie’s character as to why someone might choose pain over happiness, and negativity over optimism. It’s really a beautiful study in human nature and foibles, delivered in a light hearted quest peopled with plenty of other lovable and eccentric characters.

I saw a review that called the pace of the book “lackadaisical”…well, it’s not fast-paced, but neither is it meant to be. It’s still a lovely, light read, perfect for getting lost in, and I certainly sped through it quickly enough. If that sounds like your cup of tea, I’d recommend you try Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English. I liked it so much, I immediately picked up the author’s other book, The House at Tyneford, which started off quite promising, with a nice Downton Abby feel, but I must say I found boring through the second half. So I’ll stick with my Mr. Rosenblum recommendation. The afterword by the author was also an interesting read–and includes a recipe for baumtorte!–so be sure to check that out too!

 

**Please note: The books I share are all books I’ve read and enjoyed, and bring to your attention only because I like to share the things I love. I’m not paid in any direct way for these reviews and I highly doubt any of the authors or publishers are aware I do them. Having said that, if you are interested in any of these reads, I’d appreciate if you click through the links to Amazon, as any purchases made will send a few pennies my way that I can use to buy more books to read and share with you. Thanks!

Related Posts with Thumbnails