This year was not what many people expected or hoped for, but I have to say professionally and personally it was quite amazing. I wish I could share some exciting book news, but that will come in time. For now, here are some highlights from the year.
The year kicked off with a mention of Good Chinese Wife on the Writers’ Digest Guide to Literary Agents Blog with their first post of 2017: 81 Damn Good Reasons to Read the Guide to Literary Agents Blog in 2017. My book was 4th on the list behind Veronica Roth, Erin Morgenstern, and Sabaa Tahir!
February ushered in the Year of the Rooster! I always buy US postage stamps that commemorate the Lunar New Year animal for the new year.
I took my little ones to New York in early March to visit their big brother. We walked by Allen Street on the Lower East Side, which borders Chinatown. My paternal grandfather was born at 20 Allen Street, which is a new, nondescript building. So the intersection of that corner seemed much more picturesque. I would make additional trips back to New York in April, June, and September this year.
We traveled to Arizona at the end of March and early April. It was great driving around the state, from Phoenix to Sedona to the Grand Canyon to Tucson. I also met with author Tiffany Hawk, who became a great friend this year. We traveled to Hong Kong several months later. More on that in August…
I reviewed Karen Fang’s spell-binding book, Arresting Cinema, for the LARB’s China Blog this month. It turned out to be my last review for the China Blog before it turned into the China Channel (for which my first review will come out in early 2018).
In June, we traveled back to Paris as soon as school got out. The summer was a hot one around the world and Paris was no exception. So we stopped at many outdoor cafes for a cold Badoit and just gazed around at the scenery around us.
In July, we traveled to Washington, DC, and one of our favorite stops was Ford Theater and the Petersen House. This photo was taken in the Petersen House, where Lincoln died, and this tower is made from books all written about Lincoln. It was very impressive!
Hong Kong! Need I say more? Tiffany Hawk and I met up there with her friend Kara, who I’m seeing this week in Chicago. We went for super secret book stuff and had a blast.
This month my memoir made the Spirited Woman Top Twelve Book Pick List for the Fall Equinox. It was such an honor to be named with these other amazing women writers.
Speaking of amazing women, I met Senator Tammy Duckworth in October and there couldn’t be a more inspirational politician in America today.
I got into bookbinding with my niece this year and took two classes, one this summer and one in November. This book uses coptic stitching and it was really fun to make.
In December my first articles were published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal! It’s been a dream to write for them for a long time, and I was excited and so honored to have not one, but two film reviews in their “Writing Hong Kong” issue.
It’s been a travel-filled year and one I hope to replicate in 2018. I also hope to have more exciting writing news to share in the coming year.
A very happy and healthy new year to all!
On the day after Thanksgiving, my niece and I did something a little off the beaten shopping path. We took a bookbinding class this summer at Bari Zaki Studio in Chicago and returned today to do another type of bookbinding: the coptic stitch. We started with these tools. Since most of coptic stitch binding involves sewing, Bari made our covers and put together our signatures (the reams of pages).
It was our first time using a round needle. We also used a few types of awls to make holes in the pages and cover.
Our first step was to measure the places where we’d make the holes. We started half an inch from the edges, then measured three equidistant spots in between those half-inch margins. Using a piece of paper to measure first really helped so we wouldn’t have to erase the signatures if we made mistakes (which we did!).
When we marked the signatures, we used a brick to keep the cover and signatures in place.
Then it was hole punching time. We used all three awls to make holes in both the front and back covers.
Now to start the sewing! This took about 2.5 hours.
The thread was coated in wax and very strong.
This is what the inside of each signature looks like. The signatures are four pieces of paper folded over to make eight pages.
Almost done sewing. The round needle came in really handy when we had to thread the string through each loop in this stitch.
And the finished book! I’ll probably use mine as a photo album for an upcoming trip.
Bari Zaki Studio is located at 3858 North Lincoln in Chicago and will hold its annual studio sale the weekend of December 9-10.