Category: Blog

January Update

Happy New Year! I took this photo on the beach while I waited for the New Years Fireworks to start at Surfers Paradise
January Newsletter
Minds of Sand and Light
We have a release date! ‘Minds’ will hit the shops on June 7. I haven’t seen it up for pre-order yet, but its ISBN will be 9781460763735, so you can search for that number on google and the book will come up. I’ve yet to receive early cover designs, but the interior is very close to done and will be finalised this week. Excitement!
I’ll share the cover image as soon as I have it.

Home Movies: Jumbo Restaurant
(Photo from Wikipedia, by Exploringlife – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60507796)

Since ‘Minds’ is close to complete, I have a little more time, so I’m back to digitising the home videos. Click on the image to go to my home movie of visiting Jumbo Restaurant in 1991.
Jumbo Floating Restaurant (also links to the movie) was the most Hong Kong thing ever. It was notorious for being overpriced, having awful food and terrible service, and being only good for tourists. I never went there once during the ten years we lived there.
When we visited Hong Kong in 1991 to see the family, they took us to Jumbo because they thought our three-year-old son would enjoy the experience. He loved it. The food was terrible and the service was awful, but that didn’t matter. We had a great time.
Things to look out for on the home movie:
– We rode the free shuttle boat, which was decorated in matching style, through the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter. Jumbo was in the middle of it. ‘Typhoon Shelter’ isn’t really an accurate name for it: the shelters are a combined marina for fishing and leisure boats, as well as permanent moorings for people who live on boats. There are a number of them around the territory.
– We pass a ‘lighter’.

These used to be common around Hong Kong harbour, and there are still some that carry freight from smaller, non-container, carriers. They are barges with cranes (the towers) on them, that lift cargo from ships and carry it to the shore. With modern container shipping they’re becoming obsolete, but cargo used to be held in nets and hoisted by these boats.
– The aqua coloured square buildings at the back of the restaurants are the kitchens. They capsized in June 2022 (what a coincidence considering what comes just a couple of months later!). There’s a story about the kitchens in the Hong Kong Standard, but this news was quickly overshadowed by the restaurant’s final fate.
– We sail past the ‘Tai Pak’ restaurant barge which was parked next to Jumbo. During its heyday, It was ‘Jumbo Kingdom’ and had three restaurant barges joined together: Jumbo in the middle, Tai Pak on the right, and Sea Palace on the left. It really did have a sign saying ‘Theme Park on the Sea’. They’re all gone now.
– My son loved the dragon fountain out the front of the boat. That’s not mist in the video, that’s fumes from the shuttle boat’s awful diesel engine.
The final fate!
Jumbo, Tai Pak and Sea Palace were something of an institution. All package tours would include a lunch on the barges, mostly for the photo ops (the food was always terrible). But they were built in the 70’s and maintenance was sporadic at best. The government kept tightening regulations and demanding higher mooring and licensing fees, and the owners sold Tai Pak and Sea Palace, leaving Jumbo by itself, degenerating and faded. It required a massive amount of maintenance under dry dock to stay safely operational – and there wasn’t anywhere that would handle a barge of this size, and the cost would be enormous.
When COVID hit and the tour groups stopped, it hit the restaurant hard. The owners were paying a fortune in maintenance and mooring fees, it was falling apart, and it wasn’t earning anything. Everybody knows what really happened, but the official story is this:
The kitchens accidentally took on water and capsized in June of 2022, but fortunately the rest of Jumbo was miraculously undamaged.
In August of 2022, Jumbo was sold to parties unknown and was towed to Cambodia where it was going to be welcomed and loved and refurbished. It hit rough seas, ran into a reef and sank.
When accused of sinking it for the insurance money, the owners pointed out that it wasn’t insured and they’d lost everything.
Jumbo was something that was just there, and I never considered that there would a time that my little home movie would be a thing of history. I used it as a setting in Dark Heavens because it was such an icon, and the description of the two tour groups heading across the typhoon shelter – Chinese and Western – is accurate and from experience.
I asked my son how much he remembered of our visit there, and he bashfully said, ‘None of it.’

December Update

I will be doing a six-month ‘Fantasy’ Mentoring Clinic through Writers Victoria. Click the image to sign up for six months of personal feedback on your creative project.
December Update

2023 Workshops
I’m already confirmed for two workshops/mentoring clinics for 2023. When ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ is released, I’ll definitely be visiting places and conventions to do signings. I’m sure next year will be a busy one for me!

Online Feedback Clinic: Fantasy, presented through Writers Victoria
This is the workshop I’ve linked to the image above. It’s a six-month online feedback, where you provide a sample of your writing each month (it can be made for the workshop, or from a prompt I give you) and I will give you my professional feedback. It’s open to all, not limited to members of Writers Vic, so if you’re interested click the link and check it out.

Self-Publishing (Full Day) with Queensland Writers Centre
My little two-hour and half-day self-publishing workshops are immensely popular (as demonstrated in the previous newsletter!) and QWC have asked me to provide a full-day workshop with full demonstrations of how to self-publish a book both in digital and print and on multiple platforms. It’ll be in May, and the details are yet to be confirmed, but once it’s all designed and presented I’ll probably make an online course of the same material.
‘Dragon Empire’ has been a successful self-publishing project for me, and I’d love to share my experience of the self-publishing journey, so I’m looking forward to sharing more about this workshop as the time nears.
‘Minds of Sand and Light’ Typesetting
When a novel is close to publication, it is ‘typeset’ into a final PDF file that will be plugged into the offset printer that will print the book. Here’s what that PDF looks like – we’re at the ‘proofreading’ stage now, where I have a printed version of the PDF on my desk, and I run through to make sure there are no errors in it.
There are three different fonts in use throughout the manuscript, which is a first time for me. There’s my usual ‘Sabon’ for the ‘story’ text (which you probably don’t notice, because it looks a lot like Times Roman). Then there’s the Council of Artificial Intelligences, who have a chat channel where they are all very random. And then there’s system messages, in the case of this screenshot below of page 28, of the Mobile Infiltration Platform (the android)’s startup messages.
I love all these fonts to bits (top is the Council’s chat channel, middle is the system messages, and bottom is the font for the ‘story’ part)!

Wishing everyone the very best of the Season, have a relaxing end-of-year break and I hope I’ll have plenty of exciting news and appearances for next year.
The ‘Simone’ spinoff is nearly complete, the Patreon patrons have been reading it, and it’s close to time to decide whether I will offer it to Harper-Collins or just go with self-publishing.
See you all in the New Year – and hopefully many of you in person!

November Update

The librarian at Logan Central Library was so proud of this installation. All of the building’s columns were surrounded by books as well. Stunning!

November Newsletter
I’ve returned the structural edits for ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ to the publishers, who then sent it through to the line editor. The structural edit looks at the plot as a whole, and any issues with plot holes or weakness in description (fortunately there weren’t many of either!) The line edit is a more thorough review, done by a different person, that looks closely at grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. She’s also identified my favourite words that I tend to over-use – and the Patrons on my Patreon have been seeing a lot of them in the early stages!
I have received the line edits back, and now I have to spend the next two weeks tweaking, polishing and making the manuscript the very best it can be.
Logan Library Self-Publishing
The workshop was a huge success, here’s some of the comments from attendees:
“Fantastic presentation! Super grateful that Logan library put this on”
“Absolutely wonderful. Lots of great tips and a great presenter who kept us focused and entertained.”
“Great workshop. More needed from Kylie Chan. So much knowledge to help writers.”
– I’m feeling really good about this one!
I even made it with time to spare out of my house on the first day of the Stupid Car Races. Parts of Main Beach are still covered in big chunks of racing-car tyre (particularly where that big accident happened. One of my friends who was in Adelaide watching the race, messaged me with ‘Did you hear that?!’)

Cover Art for ‘Minds’
As I mentioned in a previous post, Harper-Collins are thinking of using an AI art generator to produce the core art. I’ve talked before about how hard it was to get a pic of a soldier in a tunic for Jian (and kept getting body parts) so I gave it a go with DALL-E. If this had been available when Dragon Empire was produced, ca
The AI, just like the stock photos, cut heads off (these are the full pics, and I asked for ‘full length’):

I wanted something a bit more active, so I asked for that, and got these, which are closer, but it’s still cutting heads off:

So I zoomed in on the one on the top right, which looks like a good starting point, and got OH HELL NO.

The hand thing appears to be a common problem with AI-generated art, which is ironic because it’s one of the biggest issues that budding artists have. Hands are hard.
Anyway! Back to the edits for ‘Minds’, and I’ve posted a new section from the Simone story on the Patreon.
I have no more appearances left for the year, so when I’ve gone through the line edits for ‘Minds’ I will have a chance to stop for a while. I’ll post a picture of the ARC (Advance reader copy) if I receive one. Nearly there!

October Update

My daughter designed this tote bag for me and sent it as a gift. The expressions on Pixie’s (tortoiseshell) and Inari’s (tuxedo) faces are accurate. And yes, they do bicker ALL THE TIME. Her artwork is on the covers of the novellas as well!
October Update
 
Self-Publishing Workshop at Logan Central Library
I will be giving a short workshop on Self-Publishing (‘Self-Publishing Tips to Get You Started’) at Logan Central Library on Saturday October 29, from 10.00 to 11.30 am.
I agreed to this months ago, and didn’t (at the time) realize that it’s the same weekend as the Stupid Car Race (the Gold Coast 500). I live one street back from the track, and the traffic will be AWFUL. Wish me luck – I’m leaving extra early to make sure that I arrive for the workshop on time. Click on the link to book for it!

(No, that’s not a picture of me)

Writers Victoria Online Course
I have just signed a contract to provide a five-month online mentoring program through Writers Victoria in the first half of next year. Each month, participants will upload an extract of their writing work, for group workshopping and individual coaching by me. I’ll clarify whether it’s available to writers outside Victoria, but as it’s online it shouldn’t be an issue.
Participation will be limited, so as soon as I have more details I will post them on my newsletter/website.
Minds of Sand and Light
I have just spent a completely insane couple of weeks thoroughly rewriting the final act of ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ before Harper-Collins send it through for editing. It’s way better now, thanks to the excellent advice from Shannon, who provided a great structural edit, and Anna the chief fiction editor, who adored it.
Back to work on the Dark Heavens Spinoff (which I’ve been posting to the Patreon) and the sequel to Minds!

September Update

I finally worked out how to transcribe my VHS camera videos to digital. Here’s a Beijing street from 1986.
September Update
I’m working hard behind the scenes with the lovely Anna and Shannon from Harper-Collins to make ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ the best it can possibly be.
During some down-time while I waited for their decision on whether to publish the book, I finally worked out how to connect the ancient VHS player to a USB port on my computer, and transcribe the old VHS home movies. Many of them are of the kids being cute and won’t be shared, but some like the video above are fascinating.
In 1986, I’d been married to my husband for two years, and we went back to Hong Kong to visit the family. My father-in-law had wanted all his life to go to Beijing, so my husband arranged a tour for us. It was a ‘father-sons’ type thing with my husband, his brother and my FIL, with my MIL and SIL left at home (no comment), and I had to go along because they couldn’t really leave me behind with family members who spoke no English and very little Cantonese (they spoke Teochew dialect at home).
It was a HK tour group, and I was the only white person along (although there was a loud group of Chinese-Americans up the back of the bus visiting HK family and discovering their cultural roots). Unfortunately time has not been kind to the VHS videos, so most of them have messed-up colour like the one above, but it’s still a fascinating snapshot of life in China just after it opened up.
This is ‘the most famous medicine shop in China’ as my husband loudly proclaims. It’s so famous it features in Wuxia fictional stories, when a hero needs a miraculous cure for poisoning or demon bite or something, so it was a highlighted stop on the tour. Optional Immortality Pills at a special discount for all tourists.
My father-in-law then gestures to suggest that I go visit the store next door, which was packed to the ceiling with gorgeous Chinese silks. Note the way the shop attendant slides out of camera view, people in China and HK hate being filmed and the police used it as an intimidation tactic during the protests.
After we went to the medicine shop we went to a remarkable Beijing Acrobatics troupe (Chairman Mao cancelled all of the performing arts except for Beijing Opera and Acrobatics and it took a long time for them to recover) and my husband gleefully videoed the entire show without anyone making any sort of comment. It was so early in the introduction of home movie cameras (we’d just bought the camera in Hong Kong for the trip) that the concept of piracy was still unheard-of.
This is only a short snippet of the video, the rest of it is mostly us wandering around the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, but I hope you enjoy it. There’s another video on my Youtube channel that shows a street market outside a tourist attraction from the same tour, with a white American man looking suitably unimpressed by the items on offer.

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