Featured post

Book Release Date

COMING MAY 8TH!

CoverBeyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity is now available! Ebook and hardcover editions can be purchased via Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. All other orders can be placed here on my website. Just click on the Shop tab above to order a signed copy. If you’re ordering internationally, please click here. To learn more about the book and to read an excerpt, click here. Thank you for supporting Beyond Two Worlds!

Stay tuned for author events!

a book review

glasses-books.jpgI am so pleased to present a new review of my book, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity, by Carol A. Hand, BA, MSSW, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Carol has served as social work faculty for universities in Wisconsin, Montana, and Illinois where her primary emphasis included organizational change, community development, and policy analysis and advocacy. Carol is a contributing author at Voices from the Margins. She currently teaches at The College of St. Scholastica SW satellite at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Minnesota.

What’s in a Title?

Carol A. Hand

What deeper messages do titles convey? That’s a question that arises as I contemplate a powerful poignant book I just finished reading, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity by Marijane Huang. I read this work from a unique perspective as an Ojibwe scholar who has studied the history of Indian child welfare, as a descendant of a culture that has survived despite centuries of Native American child removal policies. I reflected on Huang’s experiences as a daughter who witnessed the deep emotional scars my Ojibwe mother carried as a result of the joyless, demeaning years she spent in a Catholic Indian boarding school. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the topic of child removal, particularly adoption, triggers so many thoughts and memories for me. Often, I need to turn to critical scholarly reflection for balance to consider the underlying questions.

Together the myriad of cultures makes up an intellectual and spiritual web of life that envelops the planet and is every bit as important to the well being of the planet as is the biological web of life that we know as the biosphere. You might think of this social web of life as an “ethnosphere,” a term perhaps best defined as the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and aspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. The ethnosphere is humanity’s greatest legacy. (Wade Davis, 2009, p. 2)

Huang speaks of the “primal wound” adoptees suffer due to “multiple losses, the most significant being the loss of the adoptee’s birth mother, but also that of culture, language, and original family” (p. xvi). Removing children from their families, communities, and nations causes harm on many levels and can be viewed as a powerful form of ethnocide. Huang’s account hints at the life-long suffering of her birth mother and family of origin because her father made choices he felt necessary in a context that wasn’t supportive of children and families. It reminded me of some of the stories I heard during my research about Ojibwe child welfare, aggregated into a poem I later wrote

…All the child welfare system could do
was take a mother’s children away.
No one ever asked why she always had tears in her eyes.
Although her daughter cried for her beautiful mother every day,
no one ever asked what her mother needed to heal.
So the young girl spent her childhood with strangers,
a grieving mother mourned, and the White strangers felt virtuous.
The Ojibwe community lost yet another child to county removal
and the child welfare system closed the case, its job complete… (https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/reflections-the-legacy-of-continuing-loss/ )

Huang’s courage to confront her fear of the unknown and her tenacity to keep moving forward despite so many obstacles are deeply inspiring. It wasn’t too late for her to reconnect to her original cultural legacy and some of the family that she lost as an infant. Her honest, gracious, and moving narrative brought me inside her experiences. She brought me inside her feelings as she discovered her adoption papers when she was in her 40s and learned of her heritage for the first time. And I felt as though I stood with her in the Taipei airport in Taiwan anxiously awaiting her first meeting with her two older sisters who had last seen Huang as an infant.

Huang’s healing journey brings joy and tears. I’m grateful for the chance I had to travel along with her. Her first book ends with a powerful realization.

Without a doubt, the reunion with my birth family has been one of the most significant, life-altering events of my life. (p. 159).

Learning to see the world through different cultural lenses is always s gift, and Huang does such a powerful job taking us beyond two profoundly different cultural worlds to see both the importance of being in touch with our cultural roots and the human bonds that connect us across cultures.

To acknowledge the wonder of other cultures is not to denigrate our way of life but rather to recognize with some humility that other peoples, flawed as they too may be, nevertheless contribute to our collective heritage, the human repertoire of ideas, beliefs, and adaptations that have historically allowed us as a species to thrive. To appreciate this truth is to sense viscerally the tragedy inherent in the loss of a language or the assimilation of a people. To lose a culture is to lose something of ourselves. (Davis, pp. 201-202)

I hope Huang will have an opportunity to return to Taiwan and eagerly await her next book.

Work Cited:

Wade Davis (2009). The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Toronto, ON, Canada: House of Anansi Press, Inc.

Marijane Huang (2017). Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity. Bloomington, IN: Author House.

acceptance

man holding a cage with floating star dust

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a really difficult time accepting things the way they are. For example, I don’t like getting older and all the changes associated with aging, but there’s not much I can do about it. Another thing that I cannot change is the fact that I am adopted. There are things about my past that I will never be able to change. I can’t change the fact that I never knew my birth parents. I don’t have certain information about my past that most people take for granted, like family medical history. When I’m at the doctor and asked to provide a medical, social, and family history, I write, N/A: I was adopted. I don’t know if heart disease or cancer or Alzheimer’s runs in my family, and I don’t have an original birth certificate.

Another thing I cannot change: My adoptive parents told me that I was Japanese and Vietnamese growing up, but that was false. I’m certain that my adoptive parents knew I was Chinese/Taiwanese, and yet they told me otherwise. I will never know why they did not share the truth. The fact is that I’m neither Japanese nor Vietnamese. I’m Taiwanese and always have been. I write about the unexpected way that I found out in my new book. I believe that my adoptive parents were trying to protect me, and that my mom was terribly afraid that one day I’d want to find my birth family. There is nothing I can do about it now – my adoptive parents passed away before I could ask them to tell me what happened. Interestingly, I’m an INFJ according to the Meyers Briggs Personality Test, and INFJ’s do not easily let go of past hurts and/or wrongs done to them. We move on, but tend to hold onto things. Many people have asked me if I feel angry about my parents misinforming me. The truth is, I’ve come to accept that the past is the past. This is probably the one, if only, area in my life that I’ve truly been able to just let it go. That is not to say that I still do not grieve and experience feelings of loss and anger on any given day, but I’ve accepted that there are unknowns in my life that I may never have answers to.

I can think loosely of 4 reasons why I’ve been able to accept these unknowns, not in any particular order :

  1. My adoptive parents are no longer living. In some ways, the untruths they told me are “contained.” We aren’t able to have any conversations about the truth and why they handed me such a bizarre story. I’ve compartmentalized that part of my life. When I first questioned my parents story, I was full of curiousity more than anything. Why had they hidden my adoption papers? I certainly had a million questions. That is why I searched for my birth family. If things had not happened the way they did, perhaps I would never have found them.
  2. I know that my adoptive parents loved me and did what they were doing out of love, even though it may not have been in my best interest. I’m a big believer in the truth and authenticity. My clinical supervisor recently told me that I’m truthful to a fault. Well, I can hardly stand lies, but I also believe there is the right approach in telling the truth. You know that old saying, the ‘truth hurts.’ Well, yeah, sometimes it does – how we tell the truth matters. I wish my parents had been honest with me, had given me my adoption papers rather than hidden them away from me. I realize that my parents and I both said and did a lot of things that caused a lot of pain. The pain is still there, but it’s more like a scar now that has healed over time. And, if you’re a parent, you know that your kids can cause some serious pain. My adoptive parents also felt pain. I think that studying social work helped me recognize that pain and deal with my own. It was kind of like kneading dough, rolling it over and over until it became manageable and had substance. Sometimes the taste of sweet leaves a bad taste in your mouth afterwards, but you can still appreciate the sweetness.
  3. Finding my birth family. The search for my birth family was truly a quest. To go back to the country of my birth, feel the ground beneath my feet and breath in the culture was incredibly healing. Connecting with my sisters whom I adore was a huge blessing. We are blood. For the first time in my life, I accepted being Asian, accepted my birth heritage. For so many years, I rejected it. When you reject such a significant part of who you are, you really are only half living. It’s hard to put it into words, but I guess that’s how I’d explain it. I’m going back to Taiwan one day to visit my family again, and I’d love to take other Taiwanese adoptees along for the trip, like a heritage trip, if you will.
  4. The support of other international adoptees. Sharing stories and experiences with others who “get it” is validating. I don’t have to explain myself or why I feel the way I do. I can be as snarky and real as I want, and it’s completely acceptable. It’s good to have a sense of humor about things once in a while if not frequently.

These things have helped me accept that I may never know the complete story about my adoption. I can look back over my life and see the losses, yet also see that healing and acceptance have occurred, slowly over the years, and sometimes without my awareness in the moment. Connecting to other adoptees through social media and adoption conferences and writing about my experiences has also been strengthening.

It’s not easy to let go of some things in our lives. Some things are so hurtful that there is permanent damage. Can there be hope or event a hint of beauty despite all of the damage? Is there anything that helps you accept the way things are in your life despite the unknowns or untruths?

 

 

 

a certain slant of adoption

Scribble black backgroundHello folks! It’s Sunday morning, the skies are gray in my lovely locale. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying the weekend, despite the clouds. It couldn’t have come sooner.

Today, I wanted to talk about adoption…well, duh. I have something more specific in mind. For the past 7 years, I’ve actively searched for and read blogs, books, scholarly research, adoptee group sites, birthmother sites, and adoptive parent sites seeking connection, knowledge, resources, and validation. There are as many views on adoption out there as the colors of the rainbow. As an international and transracial adoptee, my own perspective on adoption has evolved. I don’t think it uncommon for our views to change as we experience personal growth and for lack of a better term, mature. Adoptees have strong inclinations regarding adoption rooted in their own life experiences, and multiple factors shape those attitudes. I’ve spoken with adult adoptees who are not terribly interested in connecting to their cultural roots or birth heritage, nor searching for their birthfamilies. Perhaps there’s a glint of interest, but there is not yet a compelling enough reason or desire to follow it. There are other adoptees who speak strongly against international adoption and for reasons that are quite justified. International adoption has a jaded history, and there are countless adoptees who were adopted illegally, through unethical adoption practices – in some cases both the agency and adoptive parents were plainly aware of the falsification of information. These deplorable practices still occur around the world. There is evidence, and though the U.S. attempts to keep the public aware of these dark practices, they continue.

I have several friends who are adoptive parents and have adopted children internationally from China, India, Africa, Ethiopia, and Russia. They also have very strong opinions and attitudes about international adoption. Sometimes – maybe even frequently – my friends and I do not see eye to eye; nevertheless we remain friends. I strongly believe in family preservation and the support of services to keep children with their biological families. As an adopted person, I cannot see past that. And yet, we live in a world where adoption is still thriving, although in decline internationally. I feel conflicted at times because I have my own very strong attitudes about adoption and yet I am supportive of my friends and other adoptive parents, and that will not change. I am for the welfare of children whether adopted or not.

What I particularly struggle with across the landscape of adoption is judgment and how we judge one another based on our attitudes and opinions towards international adoption. I know that I am judged by others for what I believe and support. I don’t necesarrily like being judged; the word ‘judge’ itself is so harsh. And yet I also judge – it’s inevitable. We all do because it’s human nature. I have no control over what others think and say, but I can temper my own thoughts, words, and actions. I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions related to my own adoption/identity and international adoption in general, from curiosity and awe, to self-loathing and anger, to grief and loss and depression, to acceptance. Like so many adoptees, ignorance makes me angry. It’s complex. There’s a lot of ignorance surrounding international and transracial adoption – adoptive parents experience it, too, and people can say some really dumb things. Sometimes I laugh it off, and other times I get angry and vent to a trusted friend or another adoptee who gets it. There is healing and validation in sharing our experiences.

And what about birthmothers? Of all involved in the adoption ‘triangle,’ their voices and stories are the least heard. And yet, I am certain that they have also experienced trauma, separation, grief and loss, and judgment. We know that women throughout the world have been forced to ‘give up’ their children through coercion for generations (Australia, Brazil, etc). And their children were later adopted by families/individuals from other countries. Societies often judge unwed, single pregnant women who are then stigmatized and left with few options.

What to make of all of this? I will be judged by what I say and do. That’s life, and I can accept that, as painful as it may be. There are a lot of adoptees and other folks out there with some very strong voices and opinions about how things should be. What I won’t accept is bullying by others who believe that everyone should share the same attitude and carry out the same actions. That’s just unacceptable. Adoptees do not all share the same points of view. Similarly, adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthmothers have vastly different experiences. Sometimes what we see on the outside is not what’s on the inside. I realize that we may not always agree, but we can certainly respect one another and our own personal and matchless journeys. We can look for ways to inform others who have not walked in our shoes. I’m speaking as one adoptee to another – I hope to support you wherever you are in life and wherever life takes you. I do believe that collectively, we can make a difference.

making life beautiful

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”

Mandy Hale – The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

There are a handful of people in the world, if you’re lucky enough, who make a real and lasting impact on your life. Though bleary eyed, I wanted to write about three lovely women who I can’t thank enough for supporting and reminding me of the good they see in me. When I got home from work today, I received a card from one of these dear women, Diane. It truly made my day, as it was quite out of the blue and unexpected.

I met Diane Flanagan at AzSH (AZ State Hospital) in 2010. Diane is an OTR-L (Licensed Occupational Therapist), and at the time, I was hired as an MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified) under the Therapeutic Recreation Services Dept. I was soon transferred from the Civil Hospital to the Forensic Hospital where we worked with adult patients with serious mental illnesses who were court-ordered to receive treatment, and Diane and I were office-mates. Both hospitals were secure, locked facilities. We shared a large office, and our desks sat side by side. Diane oversaw the Vocational Work Program, among other things, and our office was full of ceramic items that the patients had molded and painted. The items were sold in the hospital gift shop. We’d sit and talk behind our computers while writing our notes and exchange ideas about treatment groups and new things to try out. From the first day I moved into our office, Diane was nothing but welcoming. She is one of the most encouraging women I have ever met. She supported all of my efforts to develop new music therapy groups and provide 1:1 music therapy for some of the patients. We worked on presenting a patient talent show, which was hugely successful, and started a patient-led band. She kept an interest in the journey to find my birthfamily in Taipei and cheered when I found them. I have so many fond memories of working together with Diane and the patients. It has remained my favorite job, and Diane was a part of what made the work so meaningful and successful. When I left the hospital, she hand-made a beautiful card and had the patients sign it (she actually hand-made several cards with encouraging notes). I still have it to this day. She is one of those women who constantly gives of herself. I’m lucky to know her and to have shared an office with her.

A couple years ago, I was supervised by a woman who, like Diane, was an enormous support to me right out of grad school. Susan David, LPC, was my first supervisor at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Susan is a psychotherapist and Clinical Manager at the agency, and I was hired as a Child Clinician or therapist. It was my first job after receiving my MSW. I remember how excited I was to have my own office and begin decorating it. Like the other therapists, I focused on making it attractive to kids and started purchasing books, toys, games, paints, crayons and other items for play therapy. Susan was one of the two women who interviewed me, and on my first day of work, I was thrilled to learn that she would be my supervisor. I was terrified of providing therapy to kids and their families, as I felt incredibly inexperienced and unprepared for the task. Susan and I sat together for many hours of supervision, discussing my caseload and exploring interventions that would help my clients, most of whom were in foster care. Susan offered a number of creative interventions to address the trauma many of my clients had experienced. She was a wealth of wisdom and experience and a skilled therapist. I learned so much from her. I don’t know why Susan believed in me the way she did-  she always made me feel as though I had a special gift. She saw something in me that I didn’t, and that was a real encouragement. Although my work at JFCS was brief, I have fond memories of working with my clients and with the other wonderful therapists there. Although our work was tough, I gained much in clinical experience and from the kiddos I worked with. If I could become half the therapist Susan is, that would be something!

Thirdly, Carole Ann Kaplan, a former high school writing teacher at Parkway High School, has been like a breath of fresh air. Carole also has a master’s degree in school counseling. Ironically, Carole and I have never met in person, although I remember seeing her in the hallways of Parkway High and in her classroom. I remember that the students loved her, and I can see why now. I’m not sure why I never had any of her classes. In any case, Carole inspired me to begin this blog back in 2010. She managed a writing group on Facebook that I was invited to join, and the rest is history. Many of the members of the group had wordpress blogs, which inspired me to create my blog. I don’t think I would have ever ventured to write a book if not for her genuine encouragement to keep writing. She has sent me a number of books and cards to feed my creative soul over the years, and we’ve exchanged countless emails. Carole is full of wisdom and generosity. Recently, she provided an extra set of eyes as I wrote my new book. She encourages those around her and is constantly looking for ways to lift others up. I hope to meet her in person one day soon.

I write this post because I feel especially blessed to have crossed paths with these three wise women. Diane’s card made me aware of how lucky I am to have people in my life who support me in such a way when I have not done a whole lot to deserve it. Nonetheless, thank you, Diane, Susan, and Carole for your encouragement and for keeping in touch with me despite the distance. I am truly grateful for how you’ve inspired me and taken me under your wings. xoxo.

what I’ve learned about writing a book

Letters and fountain penI have always loved the written word. From sounding out those very first simple sentences in elementary school – remember, “see jane run?” – to finishing the complete Nancy Drew mystery series as a kid, I have loved to read and always will. Thank God for bifocals and 60 watt light bulbs (if you’re over 45, you’ll get what I mean). I never dreamed of writing a book, but it’s an accomplishment that I’m now proud of, and I’m happy to pass along my experience of writing a first book – from the creative process to self-publishing. I’m going to start by sharing 7 tips on writing a book. As the saying goes, live and learn! I would certainly approach the whole process very differently, so here goes…

  1. Determine what your intent is in writing your book. If your primary goal is to make money, you may be sadly disappointed (unless you’re like E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey – no I haven’t read any of her books). I knew that writing a memoir about my adoption journey would likely not appeal to the general public – it’s an extremely narrow category; however, I felt strongly that I had a story to share and a passion for telling it. So if you have a burning desire to share a personal story or journey that changed your life or the lives of others, then do it! I think that many adoptees want to tell their stories, and it’s important to do so. International adoption is complex, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, and we need to share our stories and provide greater education to the public regarding the untruths and misperceptions. My book will not be a bestseller, and I’m okay with that. It’s tough marketing and selling a book that is targeted at such a small audience, but I’m still glad I wrote it. What I’m saying is be realistic about the outcomes in so writing your book.
  2. Figure out your target audience. This is extremely important. For example, is your book a self-help book? Who do you want to read and buy your book? How will it appeal to that particular audience? How can you broaden your target audience? I hoped that other adoptees, adoptive parents, and adoption professionals would want to read and buy my book, and of course, friends. I had also hoped that a wider audience would show interest in my book because of its universal message of searching for identity and for one’s roots. Alas, it has been very difficult to garner greater interest in my book, I believe primarily because the scope of it is considered narrow and doesn’t quite have the appeal retailers are seeking. That being said, it also takes time and creativity to sell your work, so patience and hard work are necessary. I’ll get to that later.
  3. Get a good team of editors. It’s imperative, especially if you’ve never written a book, to hire a team of professional editors. There are different types of editors: content editors, copy/line editors, proofreaders. So let’s start with the content editor. I’m a social worker, so I’ll use the analogy of macro to micro. A content editor will take a look at your work from a macro-level or “big picture” point of view. He/she will evaluate the pulse of your story and make sure the manuscript is well-written. Is the theme/plot of the story well-developed and organized? Is the story-telling paced appropriately and are the characters and plot believable? Are there any contradictions, factual errors, inconsistencies or discrepancies? Is the story attention-grabbing? You get the idea. The content editor will make suggestions to re-write, move, delete, or add sections to your story. His/her work is more subjective than the other forms of editing and involves a lot of thought and decision-making. A copy or line editor will look at your work at a micro-level. She/he will get down to the nitty-gritty and evaluate grammar, syntax, sentence structure, accurate word choices, verb tense, capitalization, spelling, spacing, missed and repeated words, paragraph and sentence length. He may suggest reorganizing chapter titles, subheadings, etc. As a side note, use Microsoft word when writing your manuscript so that editors can track changes, and you can review comments and make changes in the document. You can also hire a proofreader. Proofreading is a really good idea because sometimes even editors miss things. Proofreading occurs right before your manuscript goes to print. A proofreader will go through your formatted manuscript and focus on finding any overlooked misspellings, typographic errors, accuracy of page numbers, table of contents, and any formatting issues. Like I said, it’s easy to overlook errors. Bottom line – Get yourself a team of editors. The editor I hired was fantastic – she was/is a content editor. She was supportive, made loads of suggestions and had that big picture mentality as she evaluated my work. If I were to write my book all over again, I would have spent the extra money to hire a copy editor and maybe even a proofreader, but we were trying to save money.  It takes a lot of time and effort to scour through an entire manuscript looking for errors and proofing it. Both a professional copy editor and proofreader give you added assurance that your manuscript is ready for print free of errors. Do not skip out on this important step!
  4. Research publishers. I chose to self-publish my book for many reasons. There are loads of articles out there on self publishing vs. traditional publishing. Self-publishing has become increasingly popular because it’s so much more accessible than traditional publishing, and royalties are supposedly higher, but the jury is still out on that. Some of the reasons why I chose self-publishing include, 1) I had complete creative control over the content and design of my book, plus the copyright. 2) Timeline – there were no deadlines, and self-publishing is much quicker to market than traditional publishing. 3) I had no intention of getting and paying for a literary agent. I recommend doing your research on self-publishers; there are many out there, and they all offer and do relatively the same thing. Look at the fine print and make sure you’re getting exactly what they tell you you’re supposed to get with the package you purchase. And, look for a self-publishing company that allows you to hold all rights (copyright) to your book. I selected AuthorHouse based on my editor’s recommendation; however, I ran into several problems with this publisher, which I won’t get into in this post. You could have a completely different experience with them. A self-publishing company will offer multiple services depending on the package you purchase, e.g. editing, copy editing, cover design, print, marketing/promo materials, multiple editions of your book (e-book, softcover/hardcover), etc. Self-publishing companies will likely pressure you into buying more stuff on top of what you’ve already bought once your book is off to print, e.g., exclusive book tours, exclusive marketing – features in prestigious magazines, promises of turning your book into a movie, exclusive this and that. These extras all sound amazing, and you will be made to feel as though you’re something special – these extras are available for thousands of dollars more, however, and there is no guarantee that any of those platforms will sell more of your books, so be careful.
  5. You need a budget. It’s very exciting to write a book and get it published, and as I mentioned previously, self-publishing allows you to do that within your own timeframe, and you can get it to market quicker than traditional publishing. However, be prepared to put down thousands of dollars if you decide to use a self-publishing company. I purchased a mid-range package from AuthorHouse, and with the cost of a consulting editor (not from AuthorHouse) and purchasing books to sell from AuthorHouse, I spent well over $5K, which is pretty good for self-publishing. I bought 100 copies (softcover) of my book from AuthorHouse because the profit margin in sales on Amazon and B&N online is laughably low compared to selling my book at retail price ($13.99/ softcover) myself. There is no guarantee that you will recover the money you spend on your self-published book. Marketing and promoting your book yourself is crucial. I’ll get to that momentarily.
  6. Don’t rush the creative process. When you have a story to tell, or an event in your life occurs that’s exciting, you want to share it quickly with those around you. In writing, the creative process takes time. My mistake was rushing this process, primarily because I was so excited to get it out. Writing has always come very naturally to me, so the process of writing did not take long. In fact, when I finally decided to write a book, the words came very organically. There were many revisions and additions along the way, thanks to the help of my editor; however, I wish that I had taken more care and time to write my story. I was not working when I first started writing. I had a lot of time to play around with thoughts and words. Then the process was interrupted – we moved from Arizona to California, the holidays arrived, I began searching for a job, I got a full-time job. My hope was to complete the first draft before we moved – that was very unrealistic. I was still working on the manuscript when we moved during the holidays. I also signed on with AuthorHouse before year’s end because they had a special running. Unfortunately, once I signed on with AuthorHouse they pressured me into completing the manuscript, even though there were really no deadlines. At that point, I had several more chapters to write. They called me incessantly at first until I finally told them my manuscript would take “x” amount of weeks to complete. They again began calling asking about the manuscript once that period was up. By that time, both my editor and I were feeling pressured to get the manuscript ready for print – the end result was, unfortunately, not the desired outcome I’d hoped for. Nevertheless, it’s been a learning experience all around, and next time I write a book, I’ll have that much more knowledge. I suggest not signing onto a publisher until your manuscript is completed, even if they’re offering some reduced price packages that appear advantageous. Take your time in writing your story.
  7. Marketing your book. It is up to you to sell your book should you self-publish (either by way of a self-publishing company like AuthorHouse or other online format). Another option is to hire suitable professionals to assist you with marketing and selling your book, but that will cost more money. It’s difficult to get print distribution in bookstores and libraries when you self-publish. This is where traditional publishing has an edge, as that is essentially their model of business and what they do. Be prepared to work hard at marketing your book should you self-publish, and don’t get discouraged if you’re turned down by bookstores. There are other ways to get your book out there: word of mouth, personal website, author events/book release parties at venues other than bookstores, and network, network, network. It’s extremely helpful to get as many reviews as you can about your book (positive ones, of course) and display those in your book if possible and on your website. You can always add reviews to your website once your book has been published. Finally, be patient. I’ve been told it can take up to 2 years or longer to recover the costs of self-publishing and building an audience for your book. And in the end, you will feel more empowered by having written your book!

The process of writing a book and getting it published is all part of a very steep learning curve. The tips I’ve included here just scratch the surface, but I think are basics for anyone who wishes to write a book. I do have hopes of writing more books, but still have much to do in selling the one just published! I hope these tips are helpful to you. Feel free to reach out, and I’d be happy to share more. In my next post, I’ll be discussing my own creative process in writing Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity. Stay tuned!

To read an excerpt from Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity, click here.

To purchase, click here.

happy mother’s day

me and momWishing all the mom’s out there a very happy Mother’s Day! My family and I went to my favorite vegan restaurant this afternoon, Mead’s Green Door Cafe, in Orange. I had the Vegan-terranean Pizza and a Salted Caramel Mocha- both were most delish!

Some of the happiest memories of my mom are around food. Mom was a fabulous cook, and we ate together as a family every night around the same time. She also baked frequently from scratch, especially around the holidays. I loved my mom’s fried rice and her apple and pecan pies! She made a really good rum ball, too, around Christmas time. I remember how yummy those rum balls looked as Mom layered them carefully between sheets of wax paper in a large Tupperware container – they were so deliciously round and dusted white to perfection with confectioner’s sugar. Because of the alcohol content, Mom refused to let me taste even one, although I remember sneaking a couple as a youngster one particular Christmas! It was rough being a kid.

I miss my mom terribly to this day. Sometimes, I remember childhood memories, and it’s like it was just yesterday that I was playing outside with the neighborhood kids on our green, grassy lawn past sunset. The fall months were especially beautiful when the weather cooled and the mosquitoes weren’t as bad. Mom and I had our struggles when I was growing up, but I will always deeply regret that we’ll never be able to talk as adults, as friends. I’m extremely grateful for my own daughter, Lexie, and for being a mom. Nothing in my life has been as monumental and rewarding as raising a daughter. She is truly the light of my life.

me and lexI also thought about my birth mom. I have a single black and white photo of her given to me by my biological sisters when I visited them in Taiwan. How I wish I could have met her. I will never understand why some things are the way they are and why they are not meant to be. Her picture reminds me that there is a part of my life that is unavailable to me. I’m okay with that at this point in my life, although there is a hole in my heart that will never heal. The absence of the woman who gave me birth is part of my story. Despite her absence, I’ll always carry her in my heart and hope that she is with me in spirit, just as I hope my adoptive mom is.

I hope you all had the opportunity to spend time with your mom and kids and family. To all of you whose mom is no longer with you, may you cherish her memory and remember fondly special times with her today and always.

rainy day & writing

Retro typewriter writers deskIt’s been a rainy day out in Long Beach, California. Temperatures have been steadily rising over the past couple of weeks, so the rain and cooler temperatures are a welcome change. Along with the rainy weather, I have other news to report. I’m excited to share my new book with you. If you pre-ordered a copy last month, your book(s) will be shipped tomorrow! If you aren’t already aware, e-book and hardcover editions are now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as AuthorHouse. All other orders, can be placed here on my website via Paypal. Unfortunately, I’m unable to ship internationally at this time; however, you can purchase all editions via Amazon.

Writing a first book has been a tremendous learning experience. As a new author, I didn’t know what to expect from the self-publishing platform. I can’t say that self-publishing has been an easy or very positive experience, but I have learned much about the process of writing a book and self-publishing. Despite opposition on different fronts in getting my book to you, I continue to journey on and truly look forward to hearing your comments.

Writing Beyond Two Worlds stirred up a seesaw of emotions. Surprisingly, there were things I found myself processing related to my trip to Taiwan and reunion with my birth family. It gave me the opportunity to relive one of the most significant events in my life, and the enormity of meeting and bonding with my sisters and extended family settled in deeper. I laughed and cried as I retold the events I experienced during the long search for my birth family and ultimate reunion. I ate a lot of popcorn and chocolate and washed it all down with glasses of red wine. The words tumbled out for the most part, although some events were incredibly difficult to describe in such a way that conveyed the emotional significance. Five years after my reunion, I long to return to Taiwan and revisit my family and cultural heritage. I continually wish for a deeper connection to my origins.

Well, friends, the evening is quickly wearing on. It’s now dark outside, the moon is hiding somewhere behind grey clouds. My days off from work seem to fly by like a rocket ship. Before I sign off, I want to send a very warm thank you to all who have already purchased my book and sincerely hope you enjoy reading it. Please send me your thoughts once you’ve finished. Author events are soon to be announced, so please stay tuned to BeyondTwoWorlds.com!