New short story: "Don't Speak" at New York Times

New short story: "Don't Speak" at New York Times

A couple of months ago, the New York Times asked me if I’d be interested in writing some flash fiction (that is, a very short story) inspired by a photo from their archives. This story would be part of a collection of flash fiction written by Asian American young adult authors. You don’t get this kind of invitation every day (!) so of course I said yes.

The Times then sent me a selection of photos from their archives, and I chose one of them that inspired me. It was, I admit, the strangest and quirkiest photo they sent me. I knew that the flash fiction collection was aiming to explore Asian American identity, and because I’m a contrarian and delight in pushing against identity boxes, I chose the photo that seemed to be the least connected to popular concepts of “Asian American identity.”

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What is “Good” LGBTQ YA?

What is “Good” LGBTQ YA?

No matter how many charts I make, none of them tell me anything about how good a book is. Obviously, individual taste varies, and no book is for every reader, but there is a way to assess which books are judged to be of high quality: examining the top awards for LGBTQ YA books.

Every year, books that are considered high quality by certain experts in the field are given awards. Within the young adult category, the most prestigious American awards are the Printz Award, given by the American Library Association, and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, given by the National Book Foundation. These awards don’t focus on LGBTQ characters or issues, but in the past they have been given to books about LGBTQ characters or issues; for example, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Dial), won the Printz in 2015; and We Are Okay by Nina La Cour (Dutton) won the Printz in 2018.

Additionally, several awards focus specifically on books about LGBTQ characters. The American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award, which began as the Gay Book Award in 1986, started to honor LGBT children’s and young adult books in 2010. The Lambda Literary Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQ literature, established the Lambda Literary Awards in 1988. They began recognizing LGBT children’s and young adult books in 1992.

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A Decade of LGBTQ YA Since Ash

A Decade of LGBTQ YA Since Ash

My first novel, Ash, was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers almost ten years ago, in September 2009. It was a retelling of “Cinderella” with a twist: Ash, the Cinderella character, falls in love with a woman rather than with Prince Charming. Ash lives in a world in which same-sex love is normal, so she doesn’t have to suffer through any coming-out angst. She gets her happily ever after.

Ash was received so warmly by readers in 2009, and in the years since then I almost feel like I’ve ceased being the author of Ash and instead become the keeper of memories for this book. So many readers have emailed me or told me in person how Ash made them feel seen; how it showed them that it was OK to be gay; how comforted they felt by the story. This is not something a writer can ever expect or hope for, and I’ve been deeply touched by every person who has shared their love of Ash with me.

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Full Cover Reveal: 10th Anniversary Edition of ASH

Full Cover Reveal: 10th Anniversary Edition of ASH

It’s only one month until the 10th anniversary edition of Ash is released, and I’m thrilled to show you the full, updated cover today. It still retains the image of the girl curled up on the ground that made me love the original cover so much, but the title treatment is new and several incredible authors have contributed new blurbs for Ash.

I case you're not familiar with publishing jargon, blurbs are those little bursts of praise that are printed on book covers. (For example: "This book is better than sliced bread!" — Jane Bestseller, Author of Many Bestsellers) They are a source of incredible anxiety for authors, because who wants to go around asking for other people to praise your book publicly? It's totally nerve-wracking!

So when I learned which authors had offered new blurbs for a 10-year-old book, I was completely floored. Here they are on the new cover, front and back: 

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A belated annual review: 2018 to 2019

A belated annual review: 2018 to 2019

For many years I've posted an annual review at the end of each year in which I wrap up the previous year and give a preview of what's coming up. I didn't do that at the end of 2018, but as the weeks of 2019 roll by (slowly, filled with way too much news) I realized that I don't want to skip my annual review. So, even though this is a little late, here we go!

I had several short stories published last year, and it's not too late to read them!

"New Year" (published in Feb. 2018 in the anthology All Out) is about a Chinese American girl in 1950s San Francisco who discovers that there's a lesbian community right next door to her Chinatown home. If you're a regular reader of my blog or a follower on social media, you'll know that "New Year" is turning into a full-length novel (I'm working on it right now), so you can get a sneak peek at it in the story!

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