Monthly Archives: January 2013

Singaporean Author Audrey Chin Signs with Penumbra Literary!

Singapore-based author, Audrey Chin, has signed with Penumbra Literary!  Audrey Chin has been writing since she mastered her alphabets.  She is currently working with literary agent Jennifer Chen Tran on her novel entitled Heart Bones, a searing and mysterious story about a Vietnamese man’s struggle to balance the many facets of belonging and loyalty in a Vietnamese family torn asunder by war and unresolved peace.  Audrey Chin Portrait.jpg

Audrey’s first book, published by the RAND Corporation, was a study of jury verdicts in Chicago courts, a story of discrimination crafted with numbers and words. Subsequently, other studies on the American socio-legal system, a Ph.D. dissertation on financing the US social security system have been published by RAND.

In 1999, Landmark Books Singapore published Audrey’s first novel, Learning to Fly, which was shortlisted for the 2000 Singapore Literature Prize.  In 2004, Landmark released, Singapore Women Re-Presented, a social history she conceptualized, co-edited and contributed to. Audrey has also contributed various fiction and non-fiction pieces to women’s magazines in Singapore and US literary journals. A short story, “The Pearl” was recently published in Cobalt Review’s December 2012 edition.

She holds a Ph.D in Public Policy Research from the RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, an M.SC. in Research Methods and Public Policy from Oxford University and an LL.B. from Manchester University.

When not writing, Audrey spends her time exercising financial stewardship as a board director.  She’s married to Minh and has three children.


Filed under Authors

In Defense of New and Young Agents

If you haven’t already read it, please go check out Nathan Bransford’s post on “legit vs. non-legit agents” and Sarah LaPolla’s (a former colleague of Nathan’s and a literary agent at Curtis Brown) post entitled “Shady Business.“  While the posts raise valid points, I can’t help but feel a bit bristled by it since I’m allegedly in that pool of ‘new and young agents,’ particularly one who has hung her own shingle.  Now, granted, I may not have been an editor or in publishing in the traditional sense but I did gain significant experience revising and drafting book contracts at The New Press and I did learn something about agenting while I was at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.  I guess my problem with these articles is that suggesting only one path to agenting is a legitimate one (i.e. that means you have to have X number of years in publishing and have done X number of years of apprenticeship at X famous or well-established agency).

Let me tell you my perspective.  The ultimate aim of an agent is to sell manuscripts on behalf of their writers and manage their careers.  There is a lot that goes into it and as writers you should vet your agents as much as they vet you as a writer.  However, the problem I have is that a hungry talented agent who may not have the ‘traditional credentials’ that the publishing world finds so-called “legit” may not actually be given a fair shot by writers, editors or publishers.  The publishing world is changing, and I believe, for the better.  There  are more voices out there thanks to smaller independent publishers.  Not everyone is going to get a six-figure deal from the Big Six (soon to be Big Five).  I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is room for new and young agents and determining whether they are ‘legit’ or not is a judgment that seems somewhat arbitrary.  If you trust your agent and you believe they are looking out for your best interest and working hard on behalf of you (remember agents don’t take anything in terms of pay until they sell your manuscript), then what do you have to lose?  If you look carefully at the terms of your agent-agency contract you should have a good sense of the termination clause and when/if you can get out of your contract with your agent if you’re not happy with the work they do.

There are barriers to entry for every industry.  However, publishing is a notoriously difficult one to break into and largely dependent on contacts within the publishing industry.  I have been heartened when speaking with editors, almost all of whom have been largely supportive of Penumbra.  I have had more of a mixed reaction from other agents, some of whom have been friendly and some who have downright ignored me or told me to my face that I can’t do it.  So you tell me, what does this really say?

You can’t replace experience, this is true, and again I do think that both Nathan and Sarah have legitimate claims.  Vet your agent, ask what their experience is, but also realize that if the fit is right and you believe in each other, there’s nothing you can’t do.


Filed under Agents

Shards, Sieves, and Sand

What is the one thing that, no matter how hard we try, we can never get back?

There are a lot of answers to this riddle but the one thing I am thinking of is time.  I find it hard to believe but my daughter is slowly, quickly, imperceptibly, but must be, as marked on the calendar, soon to be two years old.  I already have all my appointments set for this month and am starting to plan for the next month, and what literary conferences I will attend this spring.  I ran through most of my life at a fast, neck-breaking pace. But I took some time off before law school and I was really glad I did it.  For the first time in my life I had unstructured days and I wondered to myself, how I would spend this time.  It turns out that I took classes at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston on book-making, visited museums, read, held down a part-time job in retail.  It was a very therapeutic time for me.

Even now I try to make time for unstructured time.  I guard my time very carefully on weekends and make sure to spend it where it counts: with my family.  In the late evenings after everyone is asleep that is when I get most of my reading accomplished.  Usually two or three solid hours before I call it a night, where I can concentrate and there are no distractions.  During the day I attend to business matters, continue to read manuscripts, work on proposals, set up meetings with clients, editors, and prospective clients, decide what networking events to attend and all the other activities that one engaged in literary life does.  The time often passes very quickly and before you know it, suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and time to go home.  And I make it a point to go home, no matter how much remains to be accomplished because it’s important for me to spend time with my daughter.  She is only two once in her life and I already miss enough of her days.

“Lost time is never found again.
Benjamin Franklin

How do you, as a writer, view time?  Are you structured about how and when you write or does it come to you in spurts? Do you leave unstructured time where you can just relax and do something that you enjoy?

Although we may try to over-schedule down to the hour and grab these shards a time and our calendars give us an illusion of control, life often shows us how sometimes things happen that will shift our time and attention elsewhere, whether it’s someone that needs our care, our own bodies, a pressing urgent matter, or something more trivial.

A good practice is to keep a log of how you spend your time.  Many attorneys will laugh at this suggestion since logging billable hours is something that they do as second-nature, ticking off time in quarter-hour intervals.  But when I say keep a log, I mean not just a record but also take time to reflect on whether your time was well spent and what you can do to improve.  And thank you for spending some of your time with me, on my blog.  Happy reading!

Time is our most valuable resource and the only one we can’t really re-capture.  We are all prone to procrastination in our attention-deprived society.  So take time to prioritize and focus on what is most important based on your goals.  But also have time to relax, have fun, and reconnect with your family and friends.


Filed under Musings

New Year, New Inspiration

Hard to believe another new year is here: 2013.  We all make resolutions, mold new hopes, and make wishes at the start of a new year.  Personally, I’m looking forward to 2013.  2012 was a challenging yet rewarding year for me.  I  started Penumbra Literary and met many writers, artists, and other creative people.  It was extremely fulfilling and the culminating event of 2012 was probably my attending The National Book Award Finalist’s Reading, where I heard Katherine Boo, Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, Domingo Martinez, Louise Erdrich, and many other talented writers and poets, read from their nominated books.  Something about hearing the written word spoken aloud in a room full of other word and story-lovers was very inspiring and moving.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be gearing up for submissions and signing on several more writers.  I approached creating my literary agency with enthusiasm and admittedly, some fear.  Enthusiasm was necessary to even get it off the ground and alternated with the voice of reason/ inner critic (something that all writers understand!).  Critic: What if I fail?  What if I don’t sign enough clients? What if I don’t sell anything?

Now, less than a year later I realize that even though I had that fear and moments of doubt, overall, I’m still glad I did it.  There is something energizing and wonderful about waking everyday with a renewed sense of purpose, of realizing all your life was a kind of preparation for the work you are meant to do. Not everyone finds “it” and not everyone has the luxury to pursue what they love, but given some of the experiences in my life, I realized that if I didn’t at least try, I would regret it.  I don’t want to look back on my life and see wasted opportunities, maybes, and half-baked dreams.  Call me an dreamer, but I wanted to live out my wishes.  And everyday I’m coming closer to my goals and hopefully helping my clients fulfill their hopes and wishes.

I’m also starting to try to get back into music a bit (as a listener)–one sign that you’re aging is that you are no longer ahead of the curve when you discover music (i.e. I liked Death Cab for Cutie in college, before they became big).  Some songs I’ve been listening to lately: “Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous, “Midnight City” by M83, “Marianne” by California Wives, and “First Love Never Die,” by SOKO.  Yes, my secret is out, I like indie music with a shoegaze bent reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine.  Please feel free to send your EP’s my way!

Credit: REUTERS/ David Moir  From: Euro News

Credit: REUTERS/ David Moir    From: Euro News

As the new year starts, what hopes and wishes do you have as a writer?  Were there any books you read in 2012 that were life-changing? What is your greatest fear and how do you think you’ll overcome it?  What is one new thing you’d like to do in 2013 that you’ve never done before?


Filed under Musings