Category: Dragon Empire

March Update

There it is, ‘Dawn of Empire’ all complete, and ready to send to the publishers. I printed it out, read through it, and then emailed it through. Mika, you are awesome and I cannot thank you enough for your help in translating ‘Dark Heavens’ to Japanese – and for dinner in Kyoto. I hope you all enjoy this final chapter to Jian, Miko and Haruka’s story.
March Newsletter
‘White Tiger’ Audiobook Fixed
Many thanks again to John Bieleny who contacted me to let me know that Audible have arranged for him to re-download ‘White Tiger’ and the audiobook has been fixed.
‘Red Phoenix’ Audiobook Has Been Released (in Australia)

When a new book is released in Australia, I receive an author copy and it’s the best feeling in the world to open the envelope and see those shiny new things with my name on them. ‘Red Phoenix’ is out on audible (here) and ‘Blue Dragon’ has a release date of April 20th.
As soon as I receive my author copies I send signed copies out to my highest level patrons and that is an even better feeling.
‘Red Phoenix’ Audiobook in the US/rest of the world
I thought I’d passed the ‘When is the next one coming out’ stage – and here it is again. Lovely fans in the US are emailing me and contacting me through my website about the release date of the ‘Red Phoenix’ audiobook in the US. The answer is: I don’t know, I’m not as close with my US publishers as I am with my Australian ones, and they don’t give me much information (or author copies). Keep an eye on the Audible page, and let me know if you see it!
2020 Conventions and Corona Virus
This feels weird. I left Hong Kong just before SARS was a thing, and here we are again. Corona (SARS was a corona-type as well) is way more contagious than SARS was (hence the world-wide spread).
The ownership and administration of Oz Comic-Con is still in flux, so I haven’t heard anything from them. I wasn’t invited to either Melbourne or Gold Coast Supanovas this month, so I didn’t attend them either.
With the pandemic situation as it is, and mass gatherings a bad idea, I’ll keep you updated on future plans as they occur.
If you’re stuck at home in quarantine, all my best wishes (I spend most of my time alone at home anyway, that’s a writer’s life). I hope my books help to ease the boredom.
Stay safe, everyone.

February Update

FINALLY. Thirteen years after it was released in print, ‘White Tiger’ is now an audiobook (only available in Australia – see below for the US version.) And of course there is a problem with it, and they’re working on it. More below.

February Newsletter
Thank you so much Gladstone! What a terrific bunch of people, you were enthusiastic, aware, and very welcoming. Here’s a photo of the group with the CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre, Lori-Jay Ellis, who gave them a fantastic workshop on reaching practical goals as a writer.

The Audiobook Issue
Special thanks to reader John Bieleny who not only brought the issue to my attention, but also provided concrete examples of the problem.
So here’s what happened: the audiobook of ‘White Tiger’ was released on December 26, 2019, and John contacted me shortly after to let me know that there were problems. After about Chapter 20, words drop off the ends of sentences.
This is a problem I’ve never even heard of before!
It’s in the digital versions, (the photo above is of the author copies of the CDs I received yesterday, ready to be sent out to top-level patrons) and the CD versions, so all of them, so in the master copy.
Here’s an example of a sentence with the words dropping out.
I have contacted both Bolinda (who made the audiobook) and Audible (who are distributing it) and they’re working on it. (I contacted them yesterday to follow up and they said they’re ‘making sure all errors are fixed’.)
So: I assume that if you buy the digital version of the book, when it’s fixed there will be a new download (there had better be!) and if you buy the CD copies – you can return them? I’ll follow up again when the issues are fixed.
And… well isn’t this totally infuriating. At this stage I would absolutely not blame you if you held off buying the audiobook (if you’re interested) until I’m sure it’s fixed. I’ll put out a newsletter and Facebook post when I’m sure.
US Audiobook
For readers outside Australia, there will be a different version, read by Cindy Kay. The US publishers have sent me the cover art for it, so keep an eye out for the overseas version! (Hopefully this one won’t have any issues.)

Apart from that, I am furiously working on finishing the final ‘Dragon Empire’ book (we have a cover already and it’s gorgeous and I’m not allowed to share it with you which is terrible, particularly since it’s being referred to in the office as ‘hot and broody’!). When it’s done – which will be in the next few weeks – I need to make a decision about where to go next. A great deal has happened in the South China region that could easily lead to a thrilling story.
Watch my facebook for updates on the audiobook thing!

January Update

Summer means WATER SPINACH (Ong Choy)! Details and recipe (sort of) below.

January Update
Welcome to 2020 and I hope we all have a really great year!
The summer holidays are in full swing, the pool is full of screaming kids, and thank the heavens that it’s raining. If the fires affected you I hope you recover soon and that our government can face these issues without running away (for a change).
For me personally this is a mad rush to complete the third book of the Dragon Empire Trilogy, ‘Dawn of Empire’, which is due in March. Stuff will go down! I’m having a bunch of fun doing what I love to do – revealing all those secrets that I’ve been hinting at throughout the first two books. I know there were some big reveals in the first two but really: everything will change. This is the best part of being a writer.
Gladstone February
I’ve been invited to the Gladstone Library to present a half-day workshop as well as a Q&A with the wonderful Lori-Jay Ellis of the Queensland Writers Centre. Many thanks to the Gladstone Area Writers Group and the QWC for making this happen!
The workshop is on February 8th in the morning, and I’ll cover the basics of writing and editing, held at Gladstone Regional Library.
Facebook Event Details
2020 Convention Plans

Oz Comic-Con has changed hands (again) and is now under different (corporate) ownership. I’ve reached out to the new owners but at this stage they’re still in the establishment phase so: I really don’t know what’s going to happen there. I hope things continue as usual, and they were happy to hear from me.
I haven’t investigated Supanovas yet, although I know for sure that Adelaide and Perth are still happening this year (whew!). I haven’t been invited to Gold Coast Nova, and I doubt that it would be worth it to buy a table when there’s no Sunday show in Gold Coast, and Brisbane is bigger and closer.
Keep an eye on the newsletter and my Facebook for more details as they emerge. Number One priority right now is to finish ‘Dawn’ and give it to Harper-Collins.
Water Spinach
Here’s a wikipedia article about water spinach which has everything you need to know about this delicious summer treat.
It’s called ‘ong choy’ in Cantonese, and ‘kangkong’ throughout Southeast Asia. It has hollow stems, long spade-shaped leaves, and only comes out in the summer. It bruises really easily and doesn’t keep well in the fridge for more than a couple of days.
Preparing Water Spinach
I was inspired to share this recipe because a bunch of us writers had a dish of water spinach in Sydney at a convention and Marianne de Pierres had never seen it before and fell madly in love with it. So Marianne, this one’s for you. It’s not really much of a recipe anyway.

I bought this at the local Chinese grocery. It was in a plastic florist’s sleeve to stop the leaves from bruising – they bruise really easily. This is younger than I usually buy – the stalks are really tender and small – and so fresh that I couldn’t not get it. Here it is after I dumped it into the sink to break it into smaller pieces for cooking, and check for snails and other creepy crawlies in it, and just generally wash off the dirt.
In Hong  Kong all veggies had to be soaked in water for an hour before cooking because they were grown in China where pesticide laws are really slack and ignored anyway. People in HK had died of pesticide poisoning on vegetables. I’m glad I’m here sometimes.

Here’s the spinach opened up and while I’m breaking it into 10cm pieces. I find it quicker with Chinese veg just to wash each stalk separately, break it into pieces, and toss them into my trusty colander rather than cutting them up Western-style. You can see the hollow stalks: the thicker stalks are woody and tough, so I break off about the bottom 5cm.

This is a single stem/leaf from the plant. The dark marks on it are bruising. This bruising quickly (in 24 hours or so) spreads and turns the whole leaf into a soggy inedible mess. I was very lucky with this bunch that it’s so fresh there weren’t many losses.

My trusty colander with the washed and broken veg ready to cook. See that photo at the top of the newsletter? That’s how much it shrinks, which makes it very spinach..y.

What I discarded. Bruised leaves, brown icky bits, tough woody stems, yellowed leaves or leaves with holes in them. There’s also weeds present that were caught up in the harvesting process. Preparing them only took about 2 minutes.

Cooking! I have a mild steel wok that will rust like anything – but is much less sticky than a stainless steel one. (I can still remember the guy in the Chinese grocery when we went to look at them … ‘Stainless steel sticks like bloody hell! Get a mild steel wok and it’ll last forever’. They do.No non-stick to degrade, they’re like cast iron.) This is chopped garlic cloves in peanut oil. Chinese cooking is almost always cooked in peanut or corn oil. Olive oil tastes weird and canola has a smoke point too low. You can really make peanut oil sizzle.

Tossing the garlic in my $10 wok with my $2 spatula until it’s toasty brown and the entire apartment smells awesome. I’m not going to send  you off to buy expensive branded cooking gear. Go me.

Spinach is in! Steel thing on the left of the wok is my vitally important espresso machine. Writers turn coffee into books.

Tossing it through the oil and garlic. You need extra oil (you can see I used quite a lot above) because this stuff just drinks it up. Peanut oil is  a monounsaturated and extremely healthy oil. This is exactly one minute later.

Forty-five seconds later. I’m just tossing it around in the oil, and making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the wok. It shrinks a lot, doesn’t it?

Thirty seconds later: that’s done. Thicker veggies like bak choy and choy sum need a lid on them to steam them soft, but these ones cook so quickly it’s not really necessary. Sauce time! (You could definitely just serve them bare like this, they’re delicious, same as English spinach.)

My kids: how much sauce do you use?
Me: Uhh… enough?
I put the soy in to give it umami, only about a tablespoon (I just shake the bottle over the veg, and never measure). I use Pearl River Bridge because it’s the definitive soy sauce. It’s been around since it was produced by the China Guangzhou Meat Products Grain and Livestock Import Export Corporation Ltd, a branch of the Chinese government.
Note that this is LIGHT soy. There are two types of soy sauce (actually many but let’s just say two at this point). Light soy hasn’t been fermented as long, it adds flavour without much colour and is not very salty.
DARK soy adds a LOT of colour to dishes and is REALLY salty. Use very sparingly if at all : I mostly use it for stewing dishes. It’s the vegemite of soy sauce.
Kikkoman and Pandaroo etc soy sauces are a mix of dark and light, or a light soy only. I’d prefer to know which one I’m getting, so I buy light and dark separately.
Singaporean Yeo’s light soy is a little lighter than Pearl River Bridge.
The fish sauce is special. My husband was Teochew (Chiu Chow) and they share a lot with South East Asian cuisine, particularly Thai and Malay. Fish sauce is more a Thai thing, but Teochew people use it a lot and I guess I’ve inherited that. It smells vile when you first put it in the wok (again a tablespoon? I dunno, enough to taste good I suppose?) but when you toss it through and it toasts, the aroma changes to savory and nutty and just overall wonderful. It’s a terrific addition to this dish.
You can also add a splash (?) of oyster sauce and a couple of drops of sesame oil (no more than that it’s very strong!) to this if you’re feeling fancy.
If you really want to go truly authentic, add some pink shrimp paste. It’s mashed up … shrimp. That one also has a very strong smell but toasts up to something delightful. You only need about a teaspoon of that, and I haven’t used it because it’s a bit smelly in a small apartment.

Final result: the taste of summer.
That’s it for January! I’ll keep everybody updated on upcoming conventions etc, it’s still a little early for all the bookings to start.


December Update

All the workshops and conventions are done for the year and I have so many things I want to do – including finishing book 3 of Dragon Empire – and instead I am a Flat Panda. Pixie gets it.

December Update
I had all these plans for the summer and I’ve kind of folded in on myself with exhaustion. Book 3 of Dragon Empire is coming along, though, and that’s the really important thing.
Harper-Collins have already designed the cover for ‘Dawn of Empire’ and although I can’t share it yet, it’s being referred to as ‘Hot and Broody’ (Haruka’s on it)… so there’s that.
As soon as I have details of audio book releases for the ‘Dark Heavens’ series I’ll let you guys know. I’ll contact the publishers again in the New Year to see how that’s coming along.
Apart from that: I have nothing. I’m going to spend the break with my family, here at the beach, and try to survive the summers that just keep getting more extreme.
Have a fabulous break, everyone, and if you’re in the southern hemisphere stay cool and stay safe!
See you in 2020 with a whole new swag of writing goodness.

This massive poinciana tree is across the road from where I live. Those gorgeous red flowers make it a Queensland Christmas tree! – Have a good one, everyone.

November Update

Traci Harding interviewed me and Queenie at Oz Comic-Con Brisbane in September. Here it is on her channel – she has plenty of interesting writing tips and industry news!

November Newsletter
Better late than never! What a wild couple of months.
Townsville Writers and Publishers

What an absolutely legendary group you guys are. Thank you so much. I was driven around, regaled with hilarious stories, presented with a fantastic Thai dinner, and generally had a brilliant time. I cannot wait to go back!
Gympie Library
The best part of this short half-day workshop on self-publishing was watching locals receive their prizes for a writing competition regularly run by Gympie Libraries.  I didn’t have time to take photos, but I felt very welcome and it was another terrific group. You guys have inspired me to really commit to making a self-publishing online workshop.
Adelaide Supanova

I have a bunch of photos from Adelaide but they’re all up on my Instagram so I won’t share them here – wow Adelaide you are super into your geeky fun.
Very special thanks to Patreon patron Naomi (‘sexy, sexy space dragons!’) Vlaholias for helping me sell the sexy space dragons and who regaled me with fascinating tales throughout the con. Seriously, Naomi, you need to write a book about some of your adventures.
Brisbane Supanova

I bought a double table at Nova Brisbane with Isobelle Carmody and Traci Harding for all three of us to share. Unfortunately Isobelle couldn’t make it (next year, Isobelle!) so it was just Traci and me. We had an absolute blast in our home town show. Again photos are up on the Insta but the best part was catching up with all my besties.
Also: Brisbane your Sailor Moon crossplay is on POINT. Dudes (and friends) you rocked it!

This is two separate groups! 
I returned home to many Kitty Glares of Doom. I have not been given permission to do any other events for the rest of the year.

I am in your face to disrupt your work. Also it’s dinner time, slave.
Note on the Hong Kong Protests
I have been watching what’s happening remotely and I still want to go. I’m hoping to make it early next year, depending on commitments. This time of year is for family, so I’ll let you all know if I make a decision. Watch my Facebook and website for updates.

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