Signed Cover Art

If you'd like to receive a signed cover art postcard, email me at isobael at gmail dot com. Include your name and mailing address and I'll get them in the mail to you.

April 28, 2010

In which I drool over HanFu's...

Good morning! We're in the last stretch, heading toward Release Day. Five days! I don't know whether to curl up into a ball under the covers, burst into tears, or snap at my family if they remind me one more time. Nervous wreck over here, people!

The new WIP has been a wonderful distraction. While I'm only on chapter six, it does keep my mind off things. Of course, then I get distracted with research. The beautiful Chinese clothes! Yes, it's set in modern time USA, but there are parts in the story in which I need to research the past to make this more realistic. Historical, traditional clothing, sword fighting, and social

All eye candy. I'm already planning on buying a Hanfu when I have the money. I've always wanted one, ever since I saw the paintings my Ai-ee (Aunt) did. I believe they were painted before I was born, or roughly around the time I was born. Click to enlarge.

I used to covet their clothes! I've always loved the long, flowing sleeves, even on my shirts today.

So when I found a couple of websites that actually made Hanfu's, you better believe i bookmarked those suckers. I think I spent six hours yesterday just scouring the net for Hanfu's and prices, even patterns (which there is a definite lack of!)

I found one I absolutely LOVE.

Aren't they GORGEOUS?!?

I've also been looking at Chinese headdresses. There are some out there that are just plain to die for. I kind of wish I kept my long hair!

Then I remember how thick and heavy my hair is and am glad it's short. Maybe I'll grow it out some, just long enough to do something with, but not too long. =)

April 26, 2010

Recipe: Cantalope Shaved Ice

I love ice cream. Summer or winter, I loved to be able to have a scoop. Unfortunately, I've only recently found out I'm lactose intolerant. *Head Desk*

So, I have to either cheat and pay the consequences, fork out the exorbitant amount for little containers of dairy free ice cream, OR make due with something else and convince myself it's close enough. =)

Good thing I LOVE fruit and fruit juices. I'll give Mom credit for this since we spent all that time in Taiwan when I was younger, and I learned to love different types of fruits.

So here's a recipe to share. This is more labor intensive than if you had an ice cream maker. I used to have one.

This serves about 4, depending. =)

4 cups cubed cantaloupe
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 to 2 tsp powdered sugar (to taste and optional)
sweetened coconut flakes
fresh mint leaves

1.Combine fruit and lemonade concentrate in a food processor and process until smooth. Sweeten to taste, if needed.

2. Pour into 11x7 glass baking dish. Freeze 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and scrape mixture with a fork to form shaved ice. Return to freezer. Repeat this until ice is slushy but not completely frozen, about 3 to 4 hours.

3. Spoon shaved ice into bowls or chilled glasses. Top with coconut and mint, if desired and serve immediately.

April 24, 2010

Answers - and Contest Winner!

First, the answers to all those awesome questions! In order as they were posted...

1. Sonya asked - if you were to have your werewolf character Matthias over for tea, what tea would you serve him?

Nothing foo foo or flowery. Something along the lines of Irish Breakfast or Five O'Clock, something hearty and substantial. Scones with orange marmalade, but no little finger sandwiches. *grin*

2. Morseren asked -  Would Matthias wear a cravat?

LOL! I can't see Matthias wearing one. Definitely foo for him. Of course, a man in a short tunic and a toga might seem foo foo to some, but he couldn't stand the "monkey suit" he had to wear for the wedding ceremony. although, if Lillian batted her lashes and pouted at him, he MIGHT do it for her. Ahh, what love does to people. =)

3. Della asked - Where have you ever gotten your craziest idea?

*Blinks*  Most of my ideas come from either dreams or asking "What if"...sometimes I take ideas from real life, but the craziest idea has to be, hands down, the one where I decided I would write a novel and submit it, despite everyone telling me no one gets their first novel published and if they did, it took years to shop it. The craziest story idea has to be the one I'm writing right now. The characters are non white, there's a definite ethnic flavor and mythology being used, and I'm determined to write it, clean it up, and send it out.

4. BreiaB asked - What did you do to celebrate the acceptance of your manuscript ?

LOL. I didn't. The morning I got the email, I was literally on my way out the door to go trapping for my second year's falconry bird. I don't think I've actually sat down and did any celebrating. From that moment on, I've been trying to learn what I can about promoting it, went through edits, got post cards and business cards made up, managed to land a few guest blog spots and interviews...put together contest prizes, and more promoting - without going overboard and killing any interest in the novel before it's even released yet.

5. RobinK asked - What types of books do you enjoy reading? Any new authors we should try?

I enjoy paranormal romance and historical romances. Any other books would be my current, "obsession of the month" books, which tend to be research. Right now, it's Chinese mythology and culture books, but last month was Victorian etiquette. As for recommendations...LOL...I've been so busy with my writing and getting ready for release, I haven't had time to sink myself into any new books or try new authors. Usually, I rely on my fallback authors - Christine Feehan's Dark series, and anything by Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz's historical romances).

6. Kareena asked - How much did you put aside in your "business account" to start your business(writing)? Did the bank hassle you at all about starting a 2nd account?

My "business" account is a misnomer. It's actually a personal account in my legal, maiden name. I set it up so that it's separate from the family account and only I can touch it. This is (I hope) to make taxes easier because as a writer, those royalty checks do not have taxes taken out. You have to do that yourself. I opened it with a hundred dollars, but I have less in there now as I've been using it to buy things for writing related business - contest prizes, post cards, business cards, etc.

I'm still trying to find out if WA state has an "author" category for business license. They have a decided lack of return time for emails at their office. I'd love to be able to deduct some expenses from the business, if I ever get it set up.

7. Erica asked - Would you rather be the object of affection for a vamp, or a were?

OOOOoooo. Evil, Erica. Evil. One of each, please. I'm not greedy. LOL. If I HAVE to choose just one...vamp. Vampires were my first introduction to the paranormal, starting with the 1979 version of Dracula with Frank Langella. Gawds, he was yummy...those eyes of his. *Swoon*

8. Piedmont Writer asked - Who is your favorite character from literature?

Just one? Hmm...this one is difficult. Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas), Fanny Price (Mansfield Park - Jane Austen), and Dracula (Dracula - Bram Stoker). Sorry, couldn't pick just one! LOL.

9. I Am Me asked - at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In my early teens, probably just going into junior high. Well, no, probably earlier. I was already a writer when I hit junior high, writing scribbles and poetry. It was probably junior high when I wanted to become an author and have a book published.

10. Deb asked - When you wrote Moonlight and Magick, did you know how it was going to end when you began writing or did that evolve (and change?) as you wrote?

Yep! LOL. It's probably the first story I ever wrote in which I knew how the ending would be. While the plot bits changed somewhat, moving from chapter to chapter, I knew how the beginning was and how the story would end. With my novellas, i just write and see where it goes. My current WIP is proving to be a bit more flexible. I mean, I have an idea of how I want it to end, but I'm staying open to possibilities, which may be the reason why it's taking so long to write this one compared to M&M...

11. KarenL asked - How did you gather your research for you book?

Research? *Grin* Other than looking up dream meanings, and a couple of Celtic myths, Roman clothing and the legend of Romulus and Remus, no research. Pretty much pulled out of my head. When I reached that part of the book where I needed to either verify something or get details to use in the book, I opened my browser and looked it up on the internet. I was rather surprised to find that my Sidhe references were nearly identical in meaning to the Celtic myths. When I was writing it and what it meant in regards to my book, I had no idea how close I was to actual Celtic beliefs.

And now, for the winner...

#8 was drawn, which is Piedmont Writer. If you could shoot me an email (isobael at gmail dot com) with your name and address, I'll get it in the mail on Monday or Tuesday when I can hit the post office.


April 23, 2010

Contest - Last Day!

Don't forget - you have until midnight PST to get your question in for the contest.


Lots of good questions! I can't wait to sit down and answer them!

April 20, 2010

New experiment...

My parents, after us kids moved out, built an extension of their dining area. You know, the 80's ranch houses that are kitchen and dining area pretty much in one space? Well, Dad built a deck onto the back and part of the deck was built on for an extension to the dining area. This was given huge bay windows and one wall is the sliding glass doors.

Anyway, Mom, being Mom, expanded her houseplant collection to include tropical plants (banana tree, pineapple tree, palms, and other plants. One plant she is in love with is the orchid.

It got to the point where we just called it Mom's jungle. =)

So, a couple of weeks ago, she asked me if I wouldn't want one of her orchids. She had too many and was thinking to give some away. Hehehe...I already have Great Grandmother's African Violet, and she recently gave me an avocado tree she started, oh and a Christmas Cactus that won't stop blooming!

I've never tried an orchid before and I was kind of worried I would kill it. She said not to worry about it, they were really easy. So I took one home with me on Saturday when we were up there.

It's actually a hybrid orchid, called Mtdm Ruffles - "Scent of a Woman". (It actually smells more like chocolate!)

From what I've been reading, the plant needs more water than my Mom was giving it, a couple of the leaves have the accordian folds in it that shows drought...

Still, here it is. My new baby... (As always, click on the pic to enlarge...)

And this is the rest of my jungle...

My Christmas Cactus - the one my Mom gave me and it won't stop blooming. Every time I think it's stopped, I find new buds on it!

My African Violets. The one in the foreground actually belonged to my Great Grandmother. She died in 1996. The other violet is one I picked up at a gardening store when I lived in Renton. It's been cultivated a couple of times and various friends have those babies. The plant in the background is a baby Christmas Cactus I saved from my former belly dance instructor. She had a bunch of plants that were not doing well and was going to toss them out. This started out as two sickly little "branches", probably no more than four inches in length. I almost lost it a couple of times, but it's managed to hold on. Last year was the first time I had any blooms from it.

My avocado tree-ling.

April 19, 2010

What the heck...CONTEST!!!

You know what? Screw 50 Followers. Let's have a contest.

Because I am horrible about waiting and I really need to be distracted. =)

Here's the contest.

1. Follow my blog. I'm not a prolific blogger so it's not like you're going to get bombarded with stuff to read.
2. Comment on this post and ask me a question. Ask me anything.
3. The contest will run from Monday (today) 4/19/2010 to Friday 4/23/2010, midnight Pacific Time.
4. Saturday, I'll post the answers and announce the winner.

Winner will receive a nice little gift bag with some stuff in it, but I'm not telling you what it is until Saturday, when the winner is announced. =)

Winner will be chosen from all entries. Each entry, in order as received, will be assigned a number. Winner will be selected via random draw by the official number drawing person (my 12 year old daughter).

The only rule is - You MUST be a U.S. citizen OR the prize must be mailed to a U.S. address. Sorry. 

Sounds pretty easy, huh? Good, because it is.




The State of Isobael...

Good morning! =)

I just finished prepping for dinner and I ought to eat something, but am enjoying my cup of Darjeeling too much right now. The kid's about ready to go to the bus stop. She actually got up on her own this morning, took a shower, ate breakfast, and all without me having to remind her, yell at her, threaten her...our usual morning routine. *Dances*

I finished Chapter Three last night and will embark on Chapter Four as soon as things settle.

I've also reached the stage in which I do NOT want to hear about my book or the release date from the family. I don't know whether it's from nerves or fear of it bombing horribly, but I shush them when they start to talk about it. I did, however, spend 33.00 from my "business" account to buy Quicken Starter Edition in order to keep track of finances for my writing. I need to find out if I should get a business license and if WA state has "Author" listed as a business.

How's everyone? Did you have a good weekend? =)

April 14, 2010

Just a little something...

One of my favorite soundtracks to listen to is from the movie, "House of Flying Daggers". It's my go to music right now as I write my current WIP (for obvious reasons!)

There are two songs that I absolutely LOVE. One is called, "Lovers", and the other is called "The Beauty Song", which is originally a poem written around 80 BCE.

Here are the lyrics to "Lovers":

There was a field in my old town
Where we always played hand in hand
The wind was gently touching the grass
We were so young so fearless

Then I dreamt over and over
Of you holding me tight under the stars
I made a promise to my dear Lord
I will love you forever

Time has passed
So much has changed
But the field remains in my heart
Oh, where are you?
I need to tell you I still love you
So I reach out for you
You fly around me like a butterfly

Your voice still echoes in my heart
You are my true love

There was a field in my old town
Where in Spring all flowers blossomed wide
We were chasing butterflies
Hand in hand till close of day

Your voice still echoes in my heart.

And the lyrics to "The Beauty Song":

bei fang you jia ren
jue shi er du li
yi gu qing ren cheng
zai gu qing ren guo
ning bu zhi
qing cheng yu qing guo
jia ren nan zai de

HAHAHA...had to. 

Anyway, here they are in English...

In the North there's a lady,
stunning and singular.
One look confounds a city;
a touch dooms an empire.
Rather not wishing to know, the ruination that may follow.
Rare beauty is here and now.

or...(as close as you can get to a translation that does any justice to the original poem...)

In the north there is a beauty
Surpassing the world, she stands alone.
A glance from her will overthrow a city;
A second glance will overthrow the State.
Don't I know she can overthrow the city and the State?
But such a beauty cannot be found again!

April 13, 2010

Moonlight and Magick excerpt

I just received notification that an excerpt is up on the Lyrical Press, Inc. website for M&M. *Dances* You can see it here:

Here's the excerpt I'll be using for my website and blog (which is NOT the same as the one posted on Lyrical).

Lilian had had enough. She stomped on one of his feet and with a shift of her body, kicked a foot out, catching his legs. She swept them from under him. Matthias lost his balance and went down to the pavement. Unfortunately, he didn’t release her so when he went down, she did too, and landed on top of him with a soft oomph. The others burst into laughter as Matthias lifted a brow at her. She thumped him hard on the chest.

“You were supposed to let me go!”

He gave her a crooked smile. “I rather like how we ended up.”

Lilian blinked and scrambled to her feet as the blood rushed to her face, heating it. The guys continued to laugh with relish.

“I’m so glad you found it hilarious.” She glared at them.

“Can’t remember the last time the Alph–oomph!” one said, interrupted when another elbowed him.

She looked between the two of them.

Matthias stood and she turned to him. “What’s going on?”

He sighed and gave her a shrug. “I suppose I should tell you.”

Lilian started to back away. “So, you are hiding something. I knew it. I should have known better.”

“Wait, let me explain.”

The guys sobered and watched the two of them carefully.

She lifted her branded hand, as if to ward him off.

“No, stay back, Matthias. I mean it. I don’t want to hurt you.”

He held out his hands, palms upward. “Lilian.”

One of his friends moved in a quick motion and she took her eyes off Matthias to look at him. It gave Matthias the chance to dart in and grab her. She reacted as she was trained, to strike at a vulnerable spot on his body, and in this case, a punch at his throat.

Matthias snarled and grabbed her wrist before the blow could connect. He turned his body and carrying on with the momentum, spun her around. With a jerk, she found herself back against his firm, muscular chest with her wrist in one of his hands and his free arm around her throat in a sleeper hold.

Lilian hissed in anger and gave a struggle, but he merely tightened his arm in warning. “Enough.”

Since he had her arm already extended, he forced her to turn her hand over, palm up, to show the brand.
“Look at this,” he told his friends. “I want this mark traced.”

One of the men came forward and studied her palm. She tried to jerk her hand away, and turn her palm down, but Matthias wasn’t having it. Tears welled up in her eyes.

“It looks familiar,” the man said.

“I thought so too,” Matthias replied. “What do you know of it?”

The man shook his head and she could see he was trying to remember, but nothing came to mind, it seemed.

“All right. Tiberius, you look into it. Lukas and Augustus, I want you two to look into Custodes Secreti. Check the archives. Also, check for offshoots of the Knights Templar. I want everything we can find on them.”

The three men gave a nod, a salute of some form by the formality of the movement, and hurried off.

Lilian was still tense in his hold, but she didn’t fight him. “Are you going to let me go now?”

“Are you going to remain calm and not attack me?”

“I warned you, but you pushed it!”

He leaned down and nuzzled her neck. “I want you to read my thoughts.”

Oh, hell, no!

“I don’t think so.” Lilian shook her head. “No way.”

“Scared?” he asked as he nibbled along the line of her neck.

She tried not to tilt her head for him, but it proved difficult.

“Hell, yes.” She shivered. “Matthias, stop it.”

“Read my mind,” he urged.

“No.” She tried to struggle out of his hold, but failed and fell still again.

“What do you know about shape shifters?” he asked.

Lilian frowned. “Like werewolves?”

“There are others besides werewolves, but yes.”

She remained silent for a few long moments. Should she? He did invite her to. If she kept it light, only surface thoughts, it shouldn’t cause any ripples.

“Let me see your face.”

Matthias hesitated before he loosened his hold so she could turn and look up at him. He stared at her with a serious expression. She reached up with her free hand as he hadn’t let go of her right wrist, and placed it against his cheek. She narrowed her eyes on him, and with a light touch, brushed his mind with hers.

On principle, Lilian was careful not to use her telepathy. She didn’t want to know what others were thinking. Most of the time, though, it was just a pain to read minds. Most people didn’t think in an organized manner. Their thoughts were jumbled and went in all different directions, at different speeds. If she wasn’t careful, she’d suffer migraines. Not only from pushing her abilities, but also having to deal with the confusion.

However, as she touched Matthias’s mind, she gasped in astonishment. His mind was nothing like a normal human’s. He didn’t even have the typical thought patterns for a human. He thought in pictures and emotions, and oh, God, those pictures and emotions were a bit…explicit, with a capital E.

Lilian’s nerves tingled and her heart stuttered, she but pushed on. Beneath those rather hormonally driven emotions were images, memories in pictures. Sometimes scenes, but usually flashes of remembered things like a wolf pack, moonlit nights, the forest, and hunting prey.

She jerked her hand from his face, wide eyed as she stared at him. Was she feeling confusion or awe?

~excerpt from "Moonlight and Magick" by Isobael Liu, published by Lyrical Press, Inc. Available May 3rd, 2010.

April 9, 2010

Living Vicariously Through Our Characters...

In my personal Facebook profile, I wrote:

I think I would really like to be as flirtatious and charming, as fun and charismatic, as my characters are.

As authors, we are always asked, "Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?" the variation of it, "Is your character based on you or aspects of you?" or even, "Which part of (character's name) is based on you?"

My characters come from me. As a friend said, "You gave birth to them."

I have a role playing character who is, for all intents and purposes, a spoiled brat. She's the daughter of a Russian diplomat, is covered by the diplomatic immunity, is rich, and beautiful. She's both fiercely independent and outspoken for what she believes in, and yet she hides her insecurities of being used for her connections, her money, or used against her father. She wants to be loved for herself, she wants to be a good person, use her connections and money to help people in need, without the usual gratitude or publicity that tends to come with it. She doesn't trust very easily, will run background checks on people she meets, and if there are any holes in someone's identity, background, or any mysteries whatsoever, she does her damned best to discover what it is and why. She's my most social character. She goes to clubs, she flirts, she chats up people. People want to be around her. I find her to be very easy to role play and yet I'm the exact opposite of her.

I have another character who is an up and coming songstress. She's known as the city's angel due to her beautiful voice. When she sings, she can make grown men weep, melt the most hardened of hearts, and yet she's so shy and inhibited of people. She watches from the outside, wanting to be a part of something more but has no idea how. She's so loving and accepting, soft and gentle, but hides herself away from the world. She's the most like me in the wanting more but not knowing how. She's also very easy to role play for me.

Another character is not human. She's a shifter, recently come into her abilities and has a hell of a time trying to be both human and shifter. She's trying to deal with the problems that come with being both. She was a wolf who shifted to human, so learning the intricacies of being human is difficult for her and she's constantly making mistakes. She's seen as a child because she's new to the human world (although she's an adult in her wolf life) and with the mistakes she's makes. She wants to be taken seriously, wants more of life, is frustrated. Again, like me.

Playing them/writing them and BEING them is two separate things in my mind. I think that's why I can't LARP either (barring the fact there's no group nearby). I just can't BE my characters like that. I'm too...inhibited, lacking in self confidence.

And yet, I get many people who write to me and tell me after reading my stuff, they're amazed by how 'real" my characters are. They can sympathize with them, with how the characters feel, because I write them so realistically. Their pains, their joys, their fears are the readers' pains, joys, and fears.

However, giving birth to them, creating them, writing their lives, doesn't make me that character. I will never be thin, lithe, graceful, beautiful, or have innate paranormal abilities. I will never be flirtations, charming, charismatic, or outgoing.

April 7, 2010

Dreaming of my story...

You know you're on the right track with a story when you start dreaming about it, already written, being read, recognized, liked.


Last night, I dreamt that Ang Lee wanted to make a movie out my story (The one I'm writing now), and we were trying to pick out who the actors and actresses would be.

Jet Li was auditioning for Chen Jian...and I must say...DROOL!

Sorry, no "casting couch" scene in my dream with Jet Li.
I guess that means I really need to get it written and out there, huh? =)

April 6, 2010


So, the WIP has Chinese characters and elements...

I've been doing research for the story, keeping notes in OneNote (the BEST program EVER for writing!), such as Traditional Chinese houses, layouts, decorations, and I found Chinese Bridal Beds.

I've seen them before and I've ALWAYS wanted one. I'm showing my daughter the pictures as I'm saving a few of the ones I like best to put in my story's misc page in OneNote.

These are my favorite ones. Click to enlarge, of course.

But this one...THIS ONE...has to be the most beautiful of all! I'm telling you, my jaw dropped when I came across this one. Chen Jian is SOOOOO having this bed on QiTian!

This bed is made entirely from carved jade. Isn't this GORGEOUS?!?

April 3, 2010

The Ching Ming Festival

Ching Ming, or Tomb Sweeping Day, is a Chinese festival, celebrated on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the western calendar.

Ching Ming has been regularly observed in Taiwan and in the Chinese jurisdictions of  Hong Kong and Macau and its observance was reinstated as a public holiday in China in 2008, after having been previously suppressed by the communists.

In Taiwan, the holiday is observed on April 5 in commemoration of the death of President Chiang Kai Shek, on April 5th. The holiday is still observed in the traditional manner.

It is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honor their ancestors at their grave sites. Grave sites are cleaned, tombs swept, and offerings of food, tea, wine, paper money to the ancestors buried there.

The day before Ching Ming is called Han Shi., or the Cold Food Day.

Originally a memorial day for Jie Zitui (or Jie Zhitui). Jie Zitui died in 636 BC. He was one of many followers of Duke Wen, before he became a Duke. One time, during Wen's 19 years of exile, they didn't have any food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie got the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup. Wen was so moved he promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was not the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help Wen to return to Jin to become Duke. Once Wen became Duke, Jie resigned and stayed away from the Duke. Duke Wen rewarded the people who helped him in the decades, but for some reason he forgot to reward Jie, who by then had moved into the forest with his mother. Duke Wen went to the forest, but couldn't find Jie. Heeding suggestions from his officials, Duke Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie, however, Jie died in the fire. Feeling remorseful, Duke Wen ordered three days without fire to honour Jie's memory. The county where Jie died is still called JieXiu (Where Jie rests forever).

Modern day has seen the dropping of Han Shi and just celebrating Ching Ming.

My mother's parents are deceased. My Ah-Ma (grandmother) passed away about 20 years ago. My grandfather died in the mid 80's, I believe.

In 1986, my family went to Taiwan to visit family and we were taken to my grandfather's gravesite.

I don't think I have any pictures of it but I do have a picture of my grandmother's gravesite. My mother went back to Taiwan a couple of years ago and they went to her gravesite to honor her.

My grandfather's grave was very much like this.