Want a Do-Over?

Happy Lunar New Year! 2022 arrived with the roar of the tiger (#yearofthetiger–see what I did there?).

Vase of branches with red fuzzy tips, decorated with lunar new year items, and surrounded by oranges

If, like me, you need a fresh start, here’s your chance. The Lunar New Year can also be referred to as Spring Festival, and festivities can last up to fifteen days! That’s right. You can still join in on the fun.

Cue gratuitous New Year treats:

These nut-embedded and sesame-studded sticks are one of my favorite snacks during this time. They’re so satisfying to munch on, and they’re also slightly sweet/addictive.

Crunchy sticks with sesame seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black sesame seeds, and cashews

Nian gao, or New Year cake, is made from glutinous rice flour. The gao means “cake,” but it also sounds like “high,” which means eating it may result in a “higher” or more prosperous year. Maybe I’ll have double prosperity in 2022 because I got two cakes (homemade and purchased):

Another play on words can be found in this phrase for sending well wishes: Nian nian you yu. This could mean “every year have fish” or it could be interpreted as “May you have abundance every year” since the yu sound can have different meanings.

Speaking of words, mine have fizzled this past winter. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m plain tired (one day I shall learn to say no to things) or if I need to refill my creativity well.

There are a few factors making me feel stuck:

Sassy Cat standstill

Book 3 in my Sassy Cat Mysteries, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code, released on November 30, 2021. Right now the series is on paws pause for continuing. I really love Mimi and Marshmallow, but maybe it’s nice that they finally get a break from investigating.

Night Market nerves

I recently sent in my first pass page edits. I listened and read the work over and over until even my brain kinda got bleary. By the end, I kept putting in a word and then taking it out. I guess I’m nervous about whether people will like the new series because I really, really want folks to enjoy Death by Bubble Tea (you can pre-order it now). When I need a confidence booster, though, I revisit these blurbs by fellow Chicks on the Case-ers:

“Appealing characters and the alluring setting of a night market make Death by Bubble Tea a delicious page-turner of a mystery.”—Ellen Byron, Agatha Award winner and USA Today bestselling author of Cajun Kiss of Death

“As addictive as shrimp dumplings and sticky rice in lotus leaves, Jennifer J. Chow’s Death By Bubble Tea will provide a delightful treat for lovers of culinary cozies. With its intrepid sleuth and vividly-drawn setting, this clever whodunit will have you greedily turning the pages for more.”—Leslie Karst, author of the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari series

Idea generation misery

I have a two-book deal for the L.A. Night Market series but after that, who knows? (Note to self: Do not write a whole manuscript before checking with your agent to see if it’s salable—at least that didn’t work for me, but it has for friends.) I’ve had to shelve a few WIPs and am back to the drawing board. But I do currently have the glimmer of a sparkle of an idea…

It feels like I’m wading through a writing slump swamp, so I wouldn’t mind a restart. Thank you, February 1st, for having brought me another new year.

How about everyone else? Would you like a do-over or not?   

30 thoughts on “Want a Do-Over?

  1. Happy New Year #2!

    If I had a do over, I would do a better at investigating BEFORE I wrote to discover the potential return on my time and energy in creating, editing, publishing, and promoting my book.

    After making the mistake of writing thousands of words, no one wanted to read, I learned to research three things: (1) how many readers actively search for my book’s genre and topic, (2) how many people actually buy books like the one I plan to write, and (3) will the market size and competition allow me to attract enough buyers?

    This life lesson came with another one: invest in the tools that help you achieve your goals. I manually researched the three things, but it was tedious work and time-consuming. I now use an app that makes this a snap, achieving results in minutes rather than spending hours and days.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Here in Hilo, the Lunar New Year is always a big deal (with lots of dancing lions and firecrackers to accompany all the fabulous food!).

    As for feeling stuck, I hear ya. It happens to lots of us writers–either having writer’s block or having publishing block because your editor decides not to renew your contract. But then one day out of the blue you’ll get a fabulous idea for a new series and lo and behold, you’re back in business! And, having been privy to an advance peek of your new Night Market series, I know it’s going to be a big hit, Jen! So get out the lion costumes, and let’s DANCE, girl!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When I was active in my Tai Chi school, we had a Chinese New Year party every year. It was a potluck with Tai Chi demonstrations, music and raffles. Since leaving the school, I miss those and would love a do-over.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy, happy New Year, Jen! I will take you up on that offer to extend the festivities. What animal year were you born in? I think I am a Rat. I always spend the day of Dec. 31 getting my financial life in order by paying bills, renewing memberships, etc., and also cleaning my house because I read once that that is traditional before a Chinese New Year. I makes a lot of sense to me to do it for the Jan. 1 calendar New Year, too–a fresh start! I just know that the Night Market Mysteries will be a huge success–and claws crossed that Mimi and Marshmallow return soon as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Knowing you and your writing, Jen, I have every bit of faith you’ll grab that tiger by the tail and tame your beasts. I don’t think of it as a do-over, though. It seems exactly like climbing a mountain (which we do every time we write a book). The path isn’t straight and sometimes we need to backtrack or bushwhack a new trail or wait for someone to bring us a canoe to cross the river or maybe we simply must sit down and eat those fantabulous looking treats while we take a breather. This is all part of the process. Besides, if it was easy, everyone would do it!

    (I’d kill right now for those sesame thingies!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wise words, Becky, and so true! The imagery of climbing a mountain reminds me of this great-aunt I have in Taiwan. She actually lives on a hillside and literally climbed a mountain by creating a new trail with her machete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Lunar New Year! Hooray for two cakes and cannot WAIT for your new series–am wishing you so much success with it.

    And I love the beautiful drawing of the fish (and other designs) on the street in that picture. The meaning is lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    Yes, have felt stuck as well so many times…I try to trust that inspiration is like an ocean, where although the waves can definitely calm down/go flat, they will come rolling back again before too long. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cyn! Happy Lunar New Year to you!

      It was so fun to encounter that drawing of the fish. There’s a wonderful place in Taiwan that has a bunch of street artists who draw everywhere: on the walls of buildings, on the ground, etc.

      Am waiting on that ocean of inspiration. Hopefully, it comes rushing back and doesn’t drag me under!


  7. Happy Lunar New Year, Jen! The L.A. Night Market series sounds like a sure-fired hit! And two cakes for prosperity has to beat the heck out of two helpings of black-eyed peas!
    I’m sorry about the project that didn’t make it out of the gates — have had a couple of those myself and I know it sucks. But I believe great things are in store this year — for all the Chicks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Lunar New Year, Jen!! Those Nian gao look ah-maaaaaazing, and I loved learning about the double meanings surrounding food and well wishes!

    I see great things in store for you! I’m so excited about the Night Market Mysteries and fingers crossed that Sassy Cat will be un-pawsed.

    I’m looking forward to a do-over this year and wonderful things for us all! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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