Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"When did you first see yourself represented in pop culture?"

I'll warn you up front. This will be tl;dr. Grab a drink and get comfortable. It starts with me be introduced to a yet another new wonderful thing...and that new thing opening a big ol' can of worms in my head that has taken me a week to dig through.

So, like so many people, I have become an avid, rabid fan of the musical Hamilton. I've listened to the cast recording countless times and been devastated by it every time. I've looked up the exorbitant show prices and watched the #Ham4Ham videos. I didn't get to watch the live feed of the performance at the White House yesterday so I just have to make do with the photos, tweets, and the little bit of freestyling Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton's creator and star) did with President Obama: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/03/14/bam4ham-hamilton-white-house

But that's not the new wonderful thing.  What was new-to-me was the awesome podcast series Another Round!  One day last week, romance author (and Twitter friend) Alyssa Cole tweeted that Another Round had a new podcast featuring LMM! http://www.buzzfeed.com/eleanorkagan/practical-tactical-brilliance#.peZw0n7K13

OMG! Another Round is AWESOME! If you don't use iTunes, you can also find this gem on Buzzfeed and Facebook, among other places, I'm sure. I'm still exploring Another Round, but what I've heard so far is wonderful!

So...cool! I find Another Round's LMM podcast, and I'm enjoying this fascinating and entertaining podcast as I clean my house. It starts out with an amusing discussion of current events before moving to the LMM interview, and then eventually one of the podcast hosts asks LMM, "When is the very first time you saw yourself represented in pop culture?"

Interesting question, right?

LMM even says it's a great question and admits some of the earliest representations were baaaad. And then, as I'm listening to his response, I.......

I literally stopped in my tracks......

as if my brain needed to marshal all my energy in order to dig deeper into my memory banks......

because...the realization hit me like a physical, visceral experience:

When did I first see MYSELF represented in pop culture?

As a Filipina-American female?

Had I ever?

I was a child of the 1970s/1980s. I knew of Lea Salonga, now the Broadway legend, long before she became famous in the US only because my parents knew of her from the Philippines and followed her career.  I knew of pianist Cecile Licad only because, well, her mother apparently babysat me when I was young. But I didn't see either of these young Filipina women in the public eye at the time.

So when I dig deep, the earliest recollections I have of any Asians, not even specifically Filipinos, on TV or in films in the 70s-80s are really difficult to find. And I don't remember going to see many movies as a kid. So the earliest memory of representation that I can identify is actually Pat Morita as Arnold in Happy Days!  And that led me back down memory lane to Rosie from Rosie's Bar in M*A*S*H*.  Peripheral characters with, now that I think about it, some key shared characteristics. Both yelled a lot? Both worked in food service? Both had accents?

And neither of them were the character viewers were "supposed to" associate with or connect with.

So I guess it wasn't until I saw comedienne Margaret Cho first doing stand-up and then doing her short-lived TV series All-American Girl that I saw a pop culture representation even came close to representing my experience and my perception. And that was in the 1990s.

I still don't know that I've seen much strong Filipino-American pop culture representation. There are glimpses of Filipino actors here and there, but if you listen carefully, Filipinos are likely to be the punchline of a throwaway joke (cf. The Simpsons, Family Guy, 30 Rock, etc., etc., etc.)

And take a look at some of the lists of actors/performers with Filipino heritage (As an aside: hey, Filipinos are hot!):

Many of those actors and performers pass for other ethnicities (and some are mixed so, sure, that makes perfect sense). It's wonderful to see that pop culture is so much more diverse now than it was when I was growing up. But it would also be great to see some Filipinos depicted as Filipino characters, not as some other Asian or as passing for white. There's been progress, but there's still a long way to go.

So...when did *you* first see yourself represented in pop culture?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sale Alert!!!!! ALWAYS A STRANGER on sale for $1.99!!

In the mood for a Victorian romance featuring an unusual Japanese heroine? You're in luck! My 2014 historical romance Always a Stranger (ebook version) is on sale at major e-booksellers for just $1.99 for a limited time!

Cover Copy:

When two worlds collide, anything is possible. . .
An international affair, London's Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako's exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler--and he longs to learn more about her. . .

But Hanako's enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust--and save her from losing both body and soul. It's a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give. . .

Buy Links:
Amazon (Kindle) ~ Barnes and Noble (Nook) ~ Google Play ~ Kobo ~ iBooks

Monday, December 14, 2015

Charities to consider for holiday giving

It's that time of year again! Twinkly lights and baked goods abound. The holiday season is, of course, a time of giving!

While we're giving gifts to our loved ones, it's also an excellent time to donate to charities in need. And there are so very many out there that can use every bit of help.

So I'd like to take just a moment to highlight some causes that are close to my heart:

  • Polaris - this charity strives to combat and eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery. If you've read Always a Stranger, you can probably guess that this is a cause close to my heart. Victims are often hidden in plain sight--exploited, abused, and trapped. Polaris works on multiple fronts--to free and assist survivors of human trafficking (including a hotline), to improve anti-trafficking legislation, and to assist communities in identifying and preventing human trafficking. 
  • RAINN - RAINN stands for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, and this charity is "the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization." This cause too is close to my heart. RAINN provides much needed assistance, advocacy, and education regarding sexual assault and abuse. 
  •  And don't forget your own local domestic violence organizations. It may not feel like you can do much to help, but every little bit helps.  
If you have a favorite charity you'd like to call attention to during this holiday season, feel free to post it in the comments! 

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

GoodReads Giveaway imminent!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Once Beloved by Amara Royce

Once Beloved

by Amara Royce

Giveaway ends November 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ONCE BELOVED available now!

Yes, it's true! Once Beloved, my third Victorian romance, was released on November 10th so I'm only five days late in announcing it here! Ha! 

Here's the cover copy:
In bustling Victorian London, a desperate woman turns to the last man who would ever want to come to her aid... Years ago, when Helena Martin escaped to London with a dashing captain, she had no idea she was endangering her entire village. Little did she know, the arranged match she fled was the little town's last chance at prosperity. Now, with her beloved grandmother's health failing, Helena must face the damage she wrought. And she must do it with an unlikely escort: her jilted fiance’s brother. Daniel Lanfield is undoubtedly attracted to Helena—and furious with her. Though it was unintentional, her thoughtlessness has caused great misery to their village. Yet Daniel is uniquely positioned to help her return home, and strangely compelled to keep her close along the way. For no matter what their pasts, the desire between them now is ever-present...
But...what is it about, you ask? Well, it's a story about making mistakes and finding redemption. It's a story about dealing with devastating loss. It's about getting--and taking--second chances. And it's about sheep. Yes, sheep. Okay, only a little bit about sheep.

And you can find Once Beloved in ebook and in print at major e-booksellers: 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sale Alert! NEVER TOO LATE is $0.99 at major e-booksellers!

In advance of the November release of my next book, ONCE BELOVED, my 2013 historical romance NEVER TOO LATE (ebook version) is on sale at major e-booksellers for just $0.99!

Cover Copy:

Expect the unexpected, especially in a room filled with books. . . 
Honoria Duchamp is well aware that men often consider widows easy prey for the role of mistress. What else could explain the attentions of handsome Lord Devin, and his visits to her bookshop? The much younger Viscount has even shown interest in the printing press with which she creates pamphlets on London's basest injustices. Yet his chief interest appears to be in her. . . 
Coerced to investigate Nora's controversial pamphlets, Devin expected to find a bookish matron. Instead, he is taken with Nora's womanly beauty, sharp intellect, and quick wit. Soon, what begins as an unwelcome task becomes a pleasure, and Devin's job becomes more dangerous—for them both. For Nora has no idea of the vicious element she's crossed. Now Devin will risk his reputation to protect her—and much more to win her love...


And iBooks!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

ONCE BELOVED is available for review via NetGalley!

With ONCE BELOVED coming out on November 10, it's that time! A Kensington/Lyrical Press contact informed me that ONCE BELOVED is now available for reviewers to request on NetGalley! 

Here's a link if you're interested: https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/72711

NOTE TO POTENTIAL REVIEWERS: Personally, whatever you think of my book(s), I'm thrilled when anyone takes the time to read my work. You might love it, hate it, or anything in between.