A phaser to the heart

As William Shatner said in an infamous Saturday Night Live skit, “it’s just a TV show, God dammit, it’s just a TV show!”

But it’s kind of more than that. It’s hard to explain how the crew of the Enterprise became my stand-in friends when my mental health was at its lowest point, or how Star Trek‘s heroes somehow gave me hope for the future even though their stories were set in a time when I’d be long gone.

An important aspect of Jade, the main character in Black and Blue, is that she actually talks to Deanna Troi – counsellor on the Enterprise-D – as if she’s a real person. I’ve never done this, but it’s a nod to how much Star Trek means to me. I don’t speak the Klingon language or recall every minute detail, but I know what’s in my heart.

Which brings me to Star Trek: Discovery. Since its launch, it’s been a CBS All Access/Paramount+ exclusive in the US – but in most countries around the world, it was distributed to Netflix. We were told that would continue to be the case for season four. The cast of Discovery believed this to be the case as they were promoting the upcoming season at the Destination Star Trek convention in London a week ago.

Then two flipping days before the season four premiere, ViacomCBS informed international fans that Star Trek would be pulled from Netflix. And no one outside the US and Canada will have any legal way to watch season four of Discovery until sometime in 2022. Maybe even longer — while plans to launch Paramount+ have been announced for Mexico and many South American and European countries, there’s been no word yet on if/when it’ll be available in Asia, Africa or Oceania (apart from Australia, which already has Paramount+ but still isn’t getting Discovery until next year).

Not to mention, international fans continue to see posts on Star Trek’s social media channels hyping the new season they can’t access… and it’s like a phaser to my heart. I feel a bit ridiculous getting worked up over a TV show. But like I said, it’s more than that to me. It’s more than that to a lot of people. It’s a show that celebrates diversity and inclusion, but I guess the powers that be missed that memo. And frankly, in 2021, it’s stupid not to have a same day, or at least same week release around the world. This is a show I’m actually invested in and willing to pay for… and they’re not letting me?

Argh. You are without honour, you filthy p’takh! (I only know a tiny bit of Klingon. 😛 )

Anyway, I’ll get over this… eventually… but right now, I’m annoyed and needed to get it off my chest.

Star Trek Convention “Get a life” skit – Saturday Night Live

Update (November 27, 2021):

After a lot of social media anger, the powers that be have since premiered Star Trek: Discovery in countries with Paramount+ or the ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV. I think that’s still only about a third of the countries that had access to Discovery on Netflix though. I’ve now been able to watch the first two episodes of season four legally, but I really hope other fans have not been forgotten.

A book baby is born

My book has been out for a week now and gosh, that feels weird to say! I kind of just let it drop without doing a book launch event because… well, frankly, I wanted to enjoy my book release. And spending the lead-up to it organising an event all about me would definitely not have been my idea of a good time. Your mileage may vary, of course. Someone recently described me as “very unassuming”, which might be a euphemism for “wussy” but that’s okay. 😛

Anyway, what I did do was post a rather silly mock birth notice for Black and Blue on social media because I’m a massive dork. Obviously publishing a book is nothing like giving birth to an actual human baby. But I have no real babies planned in the foreseeable future and thought I’d have some fun with this. 🙂

Cute clones of my book baby are available online as an eBook or paperback. An audiobook is in progress but I don’t have a release date yet.

Lee-Ann holds a copy of her book, Black and Blue, as if it is a baby. The book is wrapped in a blue towel.
Lee-Ann cradling her new book baby.

So what now?

Well, if you do read Black and Blue, I’d love an honest rating and review at the place of purchase and/or Goodreads. As an unknown indie author, word of mouth is my best friend at the moment so feel free to tell people about the book if you think they might be interested.

And if you want to give my book cover some love, I’m still in the running for AllAuthor’s Cover of the Month so drop me a vote!

I hope to make some signed books and bookplates available in time for Christmas — well, in Australia because it’s already very close to the cut-off date for international deliveries to arrive in time. But we might get lucky.

In the longer term… there will be a second novel. At this stage, it’s a standalone in a contemporary setting with multiple viewpoints (unlike Black and Blue, where we just see Jade’s perspective), though everything could change. But I will write it and finish it — I’m putting that out there now so I’ll look foolish if nothing eventuates. 😀

Closure and exposure

My debut novel is coming out… really bloody soon and I’m getting pretty nervous. Not in a bad way, but nervous nonetheless.

As the release date draws nearer, a question that’s come up a few times is whether or not Black and Blue is autobiographical.

And the answer to that is: yes and no. I took the “write what you know” adage and twisted it into something I hope people will connect with.

As a Chinese Australian kid, I felt a lot of confusion about my cultural identity growing up. I think that’s a pretty common thing for migrant kids — the feeling of being stuck between two cultures and not quite fitting in anywhere — and I revisited those feelings in Black and Blue.

Like my main character, Jade, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, which I try to be honest about — though she and I deal with it in different ways. Writing this book was actually one of the ways I tried to deal with it, so there’s a certain finality to seeing it released.

I also didn’t know if I was ever going to write another book — and to be fair, I still don’t, but I intend to — so I kind of wanted an excuse to pay tribute to some of the things that spark joy in my life. Which is why Jade is into Star Trek and Bon Jovi. But she hates coffee whereas I’m quite fond of a good mocha and will still drink a bad one. 😉

Another character in the book, Alex, has my aversion to germs and is something of a hand sanitiser enthusiast. Which has been me since long before COVID… I think I’ve been gunning for a hand sanitiser sponsorship for at least 10 years (no luck yet!).

In summary, I guess you could say Black and Blue is semi-autobiographical, but it is a work of fiction, not my premature memoir. Still, I do feel quite exposed thinking about people reading my book and… peering into my soul? So much so that I was considering never letting this book see the light of day. I mean, you can’t really fail if you never try and no one knows you write. But I also realised I’d never be satisfied with myself if I didn’t at least try.

So here I am — trying, potentially failing, but being okay. More or less. 🙂

The comfort zone is so comfortable

I don’t watch that much TV but one show I’m really digging at the moment is Star Trek: Lower Decks. In an episode entitled “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie”, there’s a scene in which Rutherford is nervous about an assignment on an alien ship, away from his familiar surroundings.

“You need to get outside your comfort zone,” Tendi tells him.

“But I love my zone!” Rutherford replies.

I am definitely Rutherford, minus the cybernetic implant. Though I probs do have a cybernetic implant now that I’m double-vaxxed, it’s just not visible on my face. 😉

Anyway, Rutherford likes his zone and I like my zone because it’s just so damn comfortable. People say things like, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” But… room is good. I like my space.

I like familiarity. I live dangerously by taking afternoon naps (not during work days obviously) and then trying to fall asleep again at a reasonable hour at night. 😛 Having to (ew) market myself and talk about my book is definitely not within my favoured zone.

But I do generally feel good about myself after the fact when I push myself outside my comfort zone.

For instance, I decided to work in libraries even with the full understanding that it was essentially a customer service job (as opposed to a “sit amongst books and shush people” job). And the first few times I had to answer the phone and talk to clients, I was pretty flustered, but now I’m fine with it.

Recently, I did a beginner salsa class and it was actually fun. I probably wouldn’t do it again — I’m not a dancer and I don’t like all that unnecessary touching, haha. But I’m glad I tried it.

And then there’s Black and Blue. I sat on the manuscript for a long time, thinking that if I never published it, it would never have the opportunity to fail. Now it’s about to be unleashed upon the world and some of you are going to hate it, but that’s okay. I’m happy it’s getting out there.

Like Rutherford, I’m trying to forge ahead with the mission. And like Rutherford, (spoiler alert) I have not died.

And yes, I realise there was nothing particularly mind blowing about that snippet of conversation between Rutherford and Tendi, and I could’ve talked about stepping out of my comfort zone without bring it up at all. But I didn’t want to because Lower Decks is awesome. 🙂

Something in the wake of your smile

I don’t really know what “the wake of your smile” means, but it sounds cool and I don’t care. So this is me singing Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart” in front of people at the most recent VocalTech student showcase.

“Listen to Your Heart”

I have fond memories of seeing Roxette in Perth so it was an honour to tackle one of their biggest hits… even though watching and listening to myself is hella embarrassing. And it definitely wasn’t perfect but hopefully Marie Fredriksson is not turning in her grave. ❤

%d bloggers like this: