Sunday, May 18, 2014

Suzi Wong and the Spirits, a Graphic Novel in English

Editions GOPE, a French publisher who does books with an Asian flavour, has launched a graphic novel in English, Suzi Wong and the Spirits.

Suzy Wong and the Spirits

Born in Hong Kong on the fifteenth day of the fourth lunar month in the year of the Tiger, Suzy might be an incarnation of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. All she knows for sure is that since her birth, she has been protected by three age-old invisible and mischievous spirits: Godmother Qing Yi, learned Godfather Wen Chou and rough Uncle Jia Zi. As a child Suzy was spoiled rotten by everybody at the brothel managed by her grandmother Wong Su Xi, who had once been famous under the name of Suzie Wong. Our Suzy had a blissful childhood until a mysterious fire killed her mother and destroyed the floating brothel. Sent away to a boarding school, Suzy found she had a gift for feng shui. After graduating summa cum laude, she decided to reconcile with her six uncles and aunts. It would not be easy; they were scattered all over the globe, and each of them involved in either a sleazy business, a dark occult science, or both. But what really happened that fateful night? What drove the Wong family into exile? Will Suzy dare to return to her roots in Hong Kong, in the Aberdeen harbour, where Grandma Su Xi, abandoned by her family and only a shadow of her former self, is waiting?

Virginie Broquet is a French artist who writes and draws comic books and travel sketchbooks. She also works for the press, as well as for the advertising and fashion industries. She has been awarded a prize at the prestigious Angoulême festival, the second-largest comics festival in the world.

Steve Rosse (English text) has been a journalist and editor in Asia and the United States. 

Suzy Wong and the Spirits is a graphic novel for adults dedicated with love to some of Asia’s most fascinating cities. It is a fusion between an artist’s very personal travel sketchbook and a comic book. Giving free reign to her imagination, it is the author’s hope that the work is still firmly grounded in the sensibility of real life.  
The graphic novel will appeal to women/art/erotica lovers...For more information, excerpts and orders please go here.

Steve Rosse is also the author of Trois Autres Thailande, a collection of short stories, part of the Southeast Asia series that includes Trois Autres Malaisie, the French translation of Loversand Strangers Revisited

Previously, Editions GOPE gave new life to Richard Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong by launching a new revised, unabridged French translation.  Chapter two, for those of us familiar with Malaysia, takes place in Malaya, in a rubber plantation.  The World of Suzie Wong was not only an international best seller, it ran for many years as a play on Broadway and in London, and the movie version won Nancy Kwan a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in the role of Suzie.

And now the Suzie Wong legend continues through Suzy Wong and the Spirits.

For more information, excerpts and orders please go here
             —Borneo Expat Writer  

Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Perfect Day for an Expat Exit—Round Two of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

A Perfect Day for an Expat Exit has made Round Two of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award under the Mystery/Thriller category.  This is based solely on the 300-word pitch, which is what agents and editors see first when you pitch them, as I wrote in my Six Lessons Learned from entering the Amazon contest last year.

Round Two is based on the 5000-word excerpt and a shot at the Quarter-Finals (14 April).  A different novel, The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady made the Amazon Quarter-finals in 2012, beating out 95% of the completion.   

An earlier draft of A Perfect Day for an Expat Exit made the finals of the 2012 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Novel Competition, so I have some hope here, too.  One of the significant changes I made since then was turning this third person, present tense story into a first person, past tense novel, plus a ton of rewriting while reading the novel out loud.

While waiting for Quarter-Final announcements, it’ll back to rewriting A Perfect Day for an Expat Exit’s sequel, The Girl in the Bathtub, which was also a novel-in-progress finalist for Faulkner-Wisdom back in 2012. 

I’m hoping all the work I’ve done these last two years on these two novels will finally pay off.

Here’s the 300-word pitch (287 words actually) that got the novel through to Round Two:

A Perfect Day for an Expat Exit
Having your fate hinged on the erratic behavior of a manipulative
American expatriate who has nothing left to live for cannot be good…

          “When living overseas as long as I have,” Michael Graver said from the com­forts of his decaying bungalow, “the question that you always have to ask yourself . . . is today a perfect day for an expat exit?”
Distraught over catching his wife making love to an ex-boyfriend, American business­man Steve Boston flees from his former life to the tropical island of Penang.  En route to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a colonial holdover, Boston comes to the aid of a mysterious Eura­sian whose com­plicated life has been made messier by her father’s body washing ashore.  His death is not only linked to the enigmatic expatriate Michael Graver, who seems to know ev­ery­body’s personal secrets, but also his anti-American, opium-addicted British wife, Amanda.
Until he met Graver, Boston had only read about expatriates as if they were some kind of mystical creature—a shapeshifter capa­ble of abandoning one culture for another or living in the shadows for the sake of survival; either hiding from their troubled past, seeking some self-indul­gent pleasure, or search­ing for a mythical treasure.  Or a little of each as in Michael Graver’s case.
Graver’s life, however, starts to unravel when his own well-kept secrets are uncovered. With little left to live for except an elusive treasure buried by the Japanese at the end of World War Two, Graver gamely manipulates those around him, including Steve Boston who keeps finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time until he’s caught smack in the middle with a gun aimed at his head. 

**Here's a link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is Back for 2014!

Amazon Breakthrough Novel AwardIt’s time again for Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  At stake is the $50,000 Grand Prize, plus four $15,000 First Prizes and Amazon Publishing Contracts.

Feb 15-March 2: Round 1 (Pitch) – Amazon-selected editors will read and rate a pitch (up to 300 words) from each entrant. The top 400 entries in each of the five categories will advance to the second round. (Note that the entry period will end as soon as they receive the maximum number of entries—10,000 for General Fiction, Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult Fiction combined.)

March 18: Round 2 (Excerpt) – Amazon expert reviewers will read and rate excerpts (3,000 to 5,000 words) and provide feedback to the entrants. The top 100 entries in each of the five categories will advance to the Quarter-Finals.

April 14:  Quarter-Finals (Full Manuscript) – Reviewers from Publishers Weekly will read and rate full manuscripts and provide feedback to the entrants. The top five entries in each of the five categories will advance to the Semi-Finals.

June 13:  Semi-Finals – The Amazon Publishing judging panel, consisting of qualified representatives selected by Amazon Publishing, will review the manuscript and the accompanying reviews of each Semi-Finalist’s entry to select a Finalist in each category (each, a “Finalist”) using the judging criteria.

July 8:  Finals – Amazon customers will vote to determine the Grand Prize winner. All remaining Finalists will receive a First Prize.

July 21:  Grand Prize winner is announced.

TIPS for preparing your entry

  • Select the genre that best fits your book.
  • Stay within the word count limits: pitch (up to 300 words); excerpt (3,000 to 5,000 words); manuscript (50,000 to 125,000 words).
  • Remove all identifying information from your pitch, excerpt and manuscript, including your name and/or pen name, contact information, author bio/resume, and any awards received for your book.
  • Submit all your material in English.

Here are six lessons that I learned as a Quarter-Finalist in 2012 for one of my novels, The Resurrection of Jonathan Brady, which will also useful when submitting your work to agents and publishers. 

Good Luck!

                 —Borneo Expat Writer  

*Update:  A Perfect Day for an Expat's Exit advances to Round Two for mystery/thriller. Here's the 300-word pitch that got it through.

**Here's a link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lovers and Strangers Revisited and Tropical Affairs Subject of a Dissertation!

Melyza Pakianatham came across my collection of short stories, now in it's 21st year, during her teacher's training stint in Penang (Institut Perguruan Persekutuan Pulau Pinang) where I gave a seminar on creative writing back in 2006.  Four years later, she contacted me in March of 2010 to inform me that she had chosen my books Lovers and Strangers Revisited (MPH 2008) and Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia (MPH 2009) as the subject of her dissertation on the use of Malaysian English for her Masters in English as a Second Language at the University Malaya, titled, “The Use of Malaysian English in Robert Raymer’s Short Stories.”

Melyza made plans to travel to Kuching to interview me in May 2010, but due to her father’s illness she had to put her graduate studies on hold for two years.  Fortunately her university allowed her to continue her research.  When she contacted me again in July 2012, I was in the USA after my father had passed away.

I was trying to answer her questions as to why I would use Malaysian English in various contexts without being able to refer to my books, then I remembered that my brother in Colorado had a copy so when I reached there I was able to complete the remainder of her questions without further delay.

Many of the words that Melyza had highlighted were articles of clothing like baju kurung in “Home for Hari Raya” (adapted into a film by Ohio University), or related to food, such as kenduri (celebratory feast) in “Mat Salleh”.  From the context, readers would have a good idea what the word meant.  Others were common slang words like Mat Salleh (for white man) from the same story or place name like kampong (village) or madrasah (the village religious center) in “The Stare”.   I told Melyza that I preferred to use Malay words that were common in certain Malaysian contexts such as parang (machete) and bomoh in “Smooth Stones” since ‘witch doctor’ had other connotations that could confuse non-Malaysian readers or give them the wrong impression.

Granted another extension for her thesis due to the difficulty of having to take care of her father and her grandmother, who had been hospitalized numerous times in the recent months, Melyza persevered.

Now her work is finished and bound for shelves, including my own.  So congrats to Melyza.  It was an honor to have my books chosen as the subject of your dissertation. 

Nice, title, too!   
           —Borneo Expat Writer
  *Here's a link to my website, to MPH online for my three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

“Neighbours” (6th Cycle texts) Extended Again (SMP 2008-2015)

My short story “Neighbours” from Lovers and Strangers Revisited  as part of the 6th cycle texts for SMP Literature has been extended again through SPM 2015.  The 7th cycle texts (so far unknown, I think) will begin for SPM 2016. 
Again the stories from that original collection, after 20 years, is still going strong, heading into its 21st year (and even 22nd year).

Let’s hope another of my short stories from the collection will be selected for the 7th cycle, perhaps “Home for Hari Raya” recently taught and filmed by Ohio University, or “Merkeda Miracle”written with Lydia Teh and Tunku Halim for Going Places (August 2009), the in-flight magazine Malaysia Airlines.

*Link to my website, to MPH online for my three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.