Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview with Ashes on the Waves's Mary Lindsey

It's almost September, the kids are back in school, and autumn is so close you can practically taste it in the air. Perfect time for a spooky fall read! Mary Lindsey's new gothic romance, Ashes on the Waves, based on Edgar Allan Poe's haunting poem "Annabel Lee" should fit the bill. We're lucky enough to have Mary here to chat with us about her new book and its inspiration.

From Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.
With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make a wager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer.  Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Thanks for joining us, Mary!

EI: First, can you help us out with some pronunciation, and tell us a little about the evocative Celtic elements that give Ashes on the Waves such atmosphere?

ML:  I chose to incorporate Celtic mythology in Ashes on the Waves because of the reference to "winged seraphs of Heaven" and the "demons of the sea" from the source poem, "Annabel Lee," by Edgar Allan Poe. Angels and demons have been done frequently and well in young adult literature, so, I decided to give it a little different slant. I chose Celtic specifically because of Poe's stepfather, John Allan, was born in Ayrshire in Scotland, and I tried very hard to tie as many elements as possible to Poe himself. 

I have a friend from Ireland who is an expert of sorts on Celtic mythology who was a fantastic resource for me while writing Ashes on the Waves. The hardest part about the pronunciation is that there are so many ways to pronounce the Gaelic words in the book depending on where the speaker lives. I went with what he believed to be the most common pronunciations. Here are the most frequently used Gaelic words in the book:

Bealtaine – "bvell-ten-uh"
Bean Sidhe – “ban-shee” 
Celtic – “kell tick” 
Dòchas – “doe-khuss” 
Manannán mac Lir – “ma-nan-an-mac-leer” 
Muireann - "Mure (rhymes with pure) -een" 
Na Fir Gorhm – “naw-fear-gorm” 
Selkie – “sell-key” 
Taibhreamh – “tai-rvuv" or "tow (rhymes with wow)-rev”

EI: This novel is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee." The source material is gorgeous, but vague on many of the details. I'd love to hear how you built a contemporary novel from those moody hints, and especially how you developed the very different characters of Anna and Liam.

ML: I adore the poem, and initially intended to make the book historical rather than contemporary because I wanted the narrative voice to be reflective of the voice in Poe's works. After reading thousands of pages of Poe's works, including his letters and reviews from contemporaries in addition to a couple of biographies, I realized that for me, the book would be much more meaningful set today. Poe's work has endured despite the adversity and hardships he experienced during his lifetime, and I think setting it in a modern world speaks to that--the writing of Edgar Allan Poe is timeless.

Liam is the voice of the narrator of Poe's poem. I wanted the reader to believe that he would actually write or say that poem himself. That was my intent from the very beginning and is why I set it in an anachronistic setting so that he could be isolated enough to not use "teen speak." Naturally, I toned Liam's voice down with respect to Poe's narrative in other works, but I tried to capture that melodramatic, intelligent, romantic, and perhaps unreliable voice of the poem. 

Once Liam was set in my mind, Anna developed organically. Lots of clues to her character are in the poem. Through the narrator's eyes, she was beautiful. The narrator had loved her since childhood. Annabel was the narrator's bride. She had highborn kinsmen, so that meant she was wealthy. To pull these two unlikely lovers together, I needed an isolated island and a reason for her to visit, so after researching islands off the US coast line and mansions of the elite--or American royalty--the setting came into view, which crystalized Anna even more. Poverty is a curse in the case of Liam and Poe himself, just as extreme wealth is a curse for Anna.

EI: Ashes has all the hallmarks of a classic gothic novel. What is it about the combination of the spooky and the romantic that's so compelling? And how did you use those elements when building the modern gothic world of the novel? 
ML: I have always adored gothic novels. Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, Dracula, Rebecca--they are just fantastic. I love the heightened emotions, mood, and atmosphere. 

Poe is a master of the gothic genre. Fall of the House of Usher is simply perfect. The crumbling house reflective of the crumbling aristocratic family line and mental state... *shudder.* I love it. 

I tried to include many traditional components of gothic literature in Ashes on the Waves. It has a remote, isolated setting that includes a castle of sorts complete with secret passageways and tunnels--the impenetrable walls, both physical and psychological are found not only in the mansion, but the island itself. Dòchas has an extreme landscape and extreme weather. There are plenty of omens and perceived curses, supernatural manifestations, and things that go bump in the night. I also included a passion-driven hero whose true identity is revealed near the end of the novel.

EI: We often think of Poe as a horror writer, but much of his work--particularly his poetry--is full of tragic romance. Can you talk to us a little about this side of Poe, and how it resonates with young readers?

ML: In Ashes, I touched on some of Poe's themes of the descent into madness, imprisonment (both physical and psychological), but put a strong emphasis on the absolute, consuming romantic love that transcends death found in many of his pieces like Ligeia and the source poem, "Annabel Lee."

It's not just Poe's works of fiction that are romantic. In the course of my research, I read many of his letters. He was a passionate person in real life. More so than even his characters in several instances. One of the epigraphs in the novel is from a letter he wrote to Helen Whitman in 1848. Here is a quote from that letter I simply had to use in the book: "If you will have faith in me, I can and will satisfy your wildest desires." 

The concept of a love great enough to defy or circumvent death is appealing to most readers. I think the theme of love transcending death resonates particularly well with young readers because it speaks to their concerns and lives at the moment. Mortality is no longer simply conceptual to the young adult-aged reader. Death is a reality--though remote in many cases--and an accepted (though usually dreaded) eventuality. Many readers in this age group are also experiencing and experimenting with intimate emotional relationships, perhaps for the first time.

EI: I was so impressed by all of the epigraphs in the novel--every chapter begins with a quotation from Poe that foreshadows the chapter's events or mood. How hard was it to find and select them--all forty-four (!) of them, and do you have a favorite?

ML: You made my day by noticing how and why I used the epigraphs. Pardon me for a moment while I happy dance in a circle. 

Honestly, finding appropriate quotes was the hardest part of the entire novel. I began the outline for the story after reading Poe works for months. As I read, I made notes and underlined quotes I thought would work throughout the book. As I plotted the book itself and made the final outline, I would comb back through the annotations and marks in the anthologies looking for something in the mood or voice I needed. Some parts were easy to find quotes for. The sections directly tied to the poem, for example or chapters where the mansion was featured. For those, I looked primarily at The Fall of the House of Usher. For the island, I found lots of lovely quotes in A Descent into the Maelstrom.

I wanted to be sure to feature a variety of Poe's works in the epigraphs. I intentionally sought out quotes not only from my favorite pieces, but well known ones and some that are fairly obscure. My goal is to introduce teens to a wide selection of Poe's works in the hopes they will search out the full pieces on their own. 

A list of all the epigraphs in chapter order can be found here:

My favorite quote used in Ashes on the Waves is probably the opening one which came from a lesser known piece (at least in the high schools) called "Imp of the Perverse." I pulled several quotes from this odd story that opens like an essay in which the narrator explains what he believes causes man's self-destructive impulse and ends up a story about how a man got away with murder, only to cause his own demise later--all because of the Imp of the Perverse. 

I chose it because the story opens with Anna contemplating her own destruction at the suggestion of powers beyond her control or understanding. Liam discovers her and becomes the "friendly arm" to check her. It was perfect. 
There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him,
who shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge.
To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost;
for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot.
If there be no friendly arm to check us, or if we fail in a sudden effort to
prostrate ourselves backward from the abyss, we plunge, and are destroyed.
~ from “The Imp of the Perverse,” 1845

My favorite story by Poe is The Premature Burial, and I think I used quotes from it twice. This amazing story appeals to me not only because I am claustrophobic and it would be my worst nightmare to be buried alive, but because it illustrates Poe's wit when the story becomes a parody of his own genre with a surprise twist in the end. Just genius. Other favorites are Berenice, Ligeia, and The Black Cat.

I did not get to include an epigraph from Ligeia, a true front runner for my favorite, but it was the inspiration for the title. Inside Ligeia, a story about love sidestepping death (or does it?), is a familiar poem called "The Conqueror Worm." In Ashes, Anna is horrified to find that bodies on the island are not buried, but cremated on pyres and Liam is surprised by her reaction. He tells her that it makes little difference whether bodies end up food for the worms or ashes on the waves, the soul is no longer present. The minute I wrote the passage, I knew I had the title--and a nod to one of my favorite Poe stories. 
It was an honor to be given the opportunity to work on this book. I have been so blessed to have supportive, creative people help me along this path, from the readers, to the folks at my agency and Penguin USA, to amazing authors like you, Elizabeth. Thanks for having me on the blog today! 

More information about Ashes on the Waves and where to find me online can be located on my website:

interview by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Ellen Booraem on Death, Jelly Beans, and TEXTING THE UNDERWORLD

I have been a great fan of Ellen Booraem's since I read Small Persons with Wings, her novel about some marvelously touchy and irritable fairies. So I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of her latest, Texting the Underworld (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers), in stores this month. I loved it, and you will too. Read more about it below in the giveaway section, and then enter to win your own copy.

In this interview, Ellen talks about how to make death funny and the secret to a non-corny Irish voice (which I am stealing). Also, for the record, she describes my own feelings about drafting vs revising to a precise T.  -Katherine Catmull

1. You have the BEST titles. I 100% read Small Persons With Wings because I correctly assumed that with a title like that, it had to be smart and funny and delightful (ed. note: If you have not read SPWW, read it—it was on pretty much every Best of 2011 list). Did the title Texting the Underworld just come to you, or was it A Process?
Ellen Booraem

It was definitely A Process. I can take credit for naming Small Persons with Wings, but absolutely not Texting the Underworld. The search for this title was terrifying at times—my editor Kathy Dawson and I emailed lists back and forth with various combinations of key words ranging from Death to Jelly Beans, and it seemed like we’d never come up with anything. (At one point, I did want to call it Death & Jelly Beans. ) We agreed only that we needed to combine the mundane with the otherworldly.  My memory has blurred, but I’m pretty sure it was Kathy who came up with Texting the Underworld.

2. I love how you treat such serious subjects — like 12-year-old Conor’s anxiety issues, and, you know, DEATH—in such a light, funny, but never unserious way. How do you balance the tone so beautifully?

Chiefly it’s a matter of setting up characters and contrasts that are likely to be funny—the banshee learning about the world through outdated Trivial Pursuit cards, for example—and getting them clear in my head before I start writing. Since the story’s about something inherently scary, like death and the unknown, I made my protagonist, poor Conor, the kind of person who’s least likely to tolerate such things. (He’s a naturally fearful kid who’s obsessed with mapping his known world.) Once you have elements that naturally lend themselves to humor, you’re free to write a serious book and let the comedy take care of itself.

Also, though, I think I’m incapable of taking anything too seriously. Sometimes it’s a curse—I’ve learned over the years that when tragedy happens I have to just keep my mouth shut, for fear of saying something utterly inappropriate.

3. I thought you did a wonderful job with the banshee Ashling’s voice. She spoke with foreign cadences, both Irish and ancient (and hilariously interlarded with modern slang the longer she’s with Conor), without ever falling into corniness or Tolkien-pastiche. How did you find that voice and keep it so consistent? (Am doing something similar in a book right now, and it makes me nervous.)

I was nervous about that, too. The last thing I wanted was to make Ashling some caricature Irish wench, and I certainly wasn’t going to use any gosh-and-begorrah vocabulary. So I did something sneaky—I gave her first few speeches a VERY Irish cadence, then stopped trying to make her sound any way in particular. I figured if I got her voice established in the readers’ minds from the outset,  they’d just assume she sounded Irish from that point on. I did make her vocabulary a little bit archaic, befitting someone who’d been stuck in the afterlife for sixteen hundred years.

4. I know that although you live in Maine now (which is at the top of my why-have-I never-visited places, by the way), you grew up in Massachusetts. Any Irish heritage? At least to my inexperienced eye and ear, you nailed the Boston Irish family at the center of this book.

Oh, I do hope that’s true! I really wanted South Boston to seem right, and I had a lot of advisers helping me make it so. My mother’s family was mostly Irish, and she definitely identified as such. The town I grew up in north of Boston was predominantly Irish and Italian, and there were Irish families in my neighborhood. I named Conor’s school after one of my mother’s best friends, who came from a big Irish family. When I was in Southie for research, the speech patterns and attitudes were very familiar from my childhood.

You definitely should visit Maine. It’s gorgeous.

5. Celtic mythology is a pretty significant vein in this book, though it’s not the only ancient source you use. How deeply did you have to dig yourself into that research? I thought I knew something about Celtic myths, but had never heard of Testing the Birds, for example, which is crucial in your story.

Oh, goody—I’m so glad the Birds sounded authentic, because I totally made them up. Ravens and the number three are common in Celtic tales, though, and if a crow or raven appeared on the battlefield it meant the Morrigan (a battle goddess) was near.

I did do a lot of reading, both in books and online, about ancient Ireland and Celtic mythology. I found the mythology a little hard to pin down, frankly—everything I read seemed to have a different take on it. I think that’s partly because none of it was written down until the eighth century or so, and then the writers were Christian monks who probably imposed their own beliefs. It was a big relief when I realized that the underworld needed to be multi-cultural and that I was going to have to make up a lot of stuff on my own.

6. This is your third book — how was the process of writing it different from the others? In general, do you feel like your writing is changing with experience? Complicating, or tightening, or lightening, or serious-ing, or — ?

This was the first time I wrote a plot synopsis before I wrote the book. Before, I knew the last line but not how I was going to get there. With a synopsis written ahead of time, I had to overcome the feeling that I’d already told my tale—I did that essentially by ignoring the synopsis when I started writing. But now I’m addicted to having a synopsis first—it’s a comfort to know that it is possible to make the plot work, even if you end up writing it in a completely different way.

Otherwise, I think the major thing I’ve learned (although I have to keep re-learning it) is not to let the supernatural elements take over for the basic human story. It’s easy to get distracted by all the bells and whistles and forget that the important story is about a person with a problem.

7. What was the seed idea for Texting the Underworld?

I was reading Abbey Lubbers, Boggarts & Banshees by the late British folklorist Katharine Briggs, and discovered her theory that a banshee was a maiden who died too young and came back to warn her family of an impending death. I’d always thought of banshees as horrible screaming hags. Briggs’s version seemed like she’d have an interesting tale to tell.

8. Which do you like better (or anyway which is less dreadable): drafting or revising?

Definitely revising. I have a love/hate relationship with drafting—it’s fun to be making things up, but I’m terrified of the blank screen.  During the drafting stage, I have to make strict rules: Write every day, and no lunch until I have a thousand words—otherwise I’d never get anything done. I also keep reminding myself of Anne Lamott’s reassurance that first drafts are supposed to be terrible. Revision is pure joy—that’s when you finally figure out where the story’s going and what might be special about it. So I’ll revise all day without having to impose any rules at all.

9. Tricia Hoover always asks her interviewees for a favorite inspirational thought at the end of her interviews, and I’ve found some great ones that way. Do you have one that’s working for you now?

I have this stuck to my computer monitor on a post-it note: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” That’s Marcel Proust, and I have no idea where I picked it up because I’ve never read Proust. ( I guess I should do that sometime.) For me that’s the core of fantasy: to give the author and the reader a new perspective on reality.

This was fun, Katherine—thanks for interviewing me!

The next stop on Ellen’s blog tour for Texting the Underworld is tomorrow at Prose & Kahn. See you there!

And now for the GIVEAWAY. Two copies of Texting the Underworld are up for grabs (U.S. only, sorry)--all you need to do is comment on this post, and be sure to leave your email. For extra credit, tweet about the giveaway and follow @EnchantedInkpot on Twitter--just see the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries close on August 21, 2013. Good luck!  And here's a quick description of the book:

Conor O’Neill always thought spiders—and his little sister, Glennie—were the worst kind of monsters life had in store. That was before an inexperienced young banshee named Ashling showed up in his bedroom.

The arrival of a banshee, as Conor soon learns, means only one thing: Someone in his family is going to die. Not only will Ashling not tell him who it is, it turns out that she’s so fascinated by the world above that she insists on going to middle school with him.

The more Ashling gets involved in his life, the harder it becomes to keep her identity a secret from his friends and teachers—and the more Conor worries about his family. If he wants to keep them safe, he’s going to have to do the scariest thing he’s ever done: Pay a visit to the underworld.

If only there were an app for that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interview with Transparent author Natalie Whipple

CONGRATS TO LIBBY FOR WINNING A COPY OF TRANSPARENT! Thanks to all for reading and commenting!
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

It is such a pleasure to welcome debut author and artist Natalie Whipple to the Enchanted Inkpot. Natalie and I have known each other online since before either of us were published, and had the pleasure of finally meeting this year. I'm excited to discuss her fantastic debut TRANSPARENT as well as give away a copy of her book!

Cindy: Natalie, your debut is such a fun mix of mutant powers, the mob, and just a girl who wants to be ordinary. In writing this story, which came to you first--was it Fiona, our invisible heroine, or something else?

Natalie: Fiona was really the star from the beginning. As a teen I struggled with feeling like nobody saw or understood me (Heck, I still feel like that sometimes!), and one day while I was thinking back on those emotions I started to wonder what it might be like to be really invisible. And not the traditional superhero invisibility where you can turn it on and off, but permanently invisible.

That's where Fiona's voice showed up, in those moments. For awhile I tried to ignore the idea, because I thought writing an invisible main character would be a big challenge (turned out it was—I rewrote the entire book). But she would not be ignored, and here we are!
Cindy: I like that your invisible heroine could not be ignored. I also really enjoyed the settings being Las Vegas and then small town Arizona. What prompted you to choose these places for your story?
Natalie: You know, it made the most sense. At least to me. I suppose Chicago or New York would be more traditional settings for mob-like stories, but this posed a big technical issue, because Fiona has to be naked to be invisible and it gets cold in the northeast. Las Vegas was the natural choice, because of its desert location and, of course, the same goes for Arizona. The southwest in particular was alluring to me because of its ties to secret government testing sites like Area 51. It felt like a place where Radiasure (the drug that caused mutations) could have been developed.
Cindy: I never even considered the no clothing and weather thing. The challenges we give ourselves as writers! You wrote a very powerful blog post about "passing" this year on your website. (please provide link? =) From speaking with you, and seeing your inclusion of Mexican-American characters in your debut, it's clear that diversity matters to you in your writing. It can be such a challenge to tackle, and I hear over and over from writers that they are so afraid to get it wrong. Could you talk a little bit about your thoughts on being more inclusive in your own writing?
Natalie: Blog Post: When You Don't Look "Right."
I'm glad you enjoyed that post! It was very scary to write, and I worried people would take it poorly. But everyone was so kind and understanding about it—this has given me courage to be more open about it and my feelings on diversity. Because it is an important issue to me.

I have written outside my race many times over the 15 or so novels I've drafted, and at this point I feel pretty comfortable with it because I've done a lot of research and have a lot of personal experience and now a lot of practice. But there was a time I was very scared about it, in particular when I was writing my first non-white main character, Toshiro. He was a 1st generation Japanese-American living in San Francisco. He also happened to be a ninja.

I was terrified to do it "wrong," first and foremost. But I was also scared to be confronted about it, because why did I, as a white female, feel qualified to right outside my race/gender? (And I actually was confronted about this and asked that very question quite aggressively, but that is a story for another time.) Well, I didn't exactly feel qualified, honestly, but I ultimately came to a very personal conclusion: I would rather TRY to be inclusive and get accused of doing it wrong, than to be accused of not including diversity at all. That was my decision, and I've done my best to stand by it since then.

Along with having my own experiences being surrounded by diversity (grew up in Bay Area) and technically being Polynesian (though not-so-much in appearance), I have done a butt load of research. And I will openly admit to being more comfortable with races I have more experience with. Of all the diversity I write, I tend to write the most Asian, Latino, Indian, and Pacific Islander characters. I have not only grown up around these cultures, but I have also studied the most about them. Even with all of my knowledge, I still double check myself by asking people from the culture I am representing to read my work. Because I really do care about representing as properly as I can.

People often ask me how I approach writing a character outside my race, and the answer is this: I approach all characters the same way—as human beings first and foremost. All humans, no matter the culture, want to be happy, to be loved, to feel connected, to be successful. I start here when I build characters, because this is the core. Then I build out—motivation, interests, beliefs, goals, family, gender, orientation, race, etc. When you see your characters as human first, it's much easier to avoid stereotype, I believe. I will stop because that was a very long answer, heh.
Cindy: As an author who does care greatly about bringing more diversity and inclusiveness into young adult books, I really appreciate your adding to the dialogue as well as writing the characters. You're a wonderful artist. How does this creative interest differ from writing? Do you find it complements your prose somehow?
Natalie: Originally, writing and drawing differed very little for me. They were both hobbies, both creative outlets that made me happy. Now that writing has become my job, I feel like there are some differences. Drawing is now a pleasure and relaxation activity that I guard fiercely. Many people have told me I should sell my art, but selling my words has taken a lot of the, er, enjoyment out of writing. Well, I'm not sure that's the right way to explain it. I still love to write, but because it's my profession I take it very seriously. Whereas art I do purely as enjoyment and I don't worry about how it'll be received—it's just for fun.
That said, I do feel like my drawing and writing compliment each other! I've been doing both since I was a kid, and even now as I write I often picture my characters as cartoons instead of real people. That's why it's hard to "cast" my books because I don't see actors. I see anime! Haha. I think my immersion in anime and cartooning in general has impacted my writing a lot; my style tends to be "episodic" as if you were watching a show, complete with commercial breaks.
Cindy: I know exactly what you mean about keeping our art just art--rather than turning it into a business. Tell us about what you're working on and what we can see from you, book wise, in the future!

Natalie: I just finished the first big edit on TRANSPARENT's sequel! It's called BLINDSIDED, and it's out January 2014. I also have another novel out April 15th, 2014 called HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW. Now that all my contracted work is almost finished, I'm hoping to go on submission with a contemporary novel soon, and I'm on the writing team for an amazing cRPG called Torment: Tides Of Numenera, out 2015.
So I'm keeping myself busy.
Cindy: I can't wait to read them both! And last but not least, what is your favorite pastry?
Natalie: Arg, Cindy, you know how much I like food! How can I choose a favorite anything? Hmm, I love all sweets, but I am a professed cupcake fan. And dark chocolate anything will get me. Also, it's pretty hard to beat a good old chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. Oh, the gooey goodness.

Cindy: I'm hungry now! Thank you so much for taking the time to join us at the Enchanted Inkpot, Natalie!

To find out more about Natalie and her books, visit her website:


Simply comment to enter. Tweeting, blogging, tumblr'ing, facebook statusing and linking directly to this interview will garner extra entries each. Followers of the Enchanted Inkpot also receive an extra entry. Please provide links in comment section to receive extra entries. I will select a random winner on Monday, 8/12 and post winner at the top of this entry. OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. Good luck!

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Her first published short story is featured in Diverse Energies, a multicultural YA dystopian anthology from Tu Books (October 2012). Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at