How Drinking Tea Can Elevate Your Social Cred (in 19th-Century England)

I drink tea everyday. So this year, I decided to up the glamour with a new Wedgwood teacup and saucer. Check out this beauty below :-)

Wedgwood teacup and saucer

Every time I drink from it, I get a little thrill—I feel just that much more sophisticated and elegant sipping from the delicate cup. It made me question why I would feel this way, until I recalled that my associating this Wedgwood teacup with virtues of refinement, elegance, and sophistication was centuries in the making. What began as a Chinese luxury import, tea changed the fabric of English society. Specifically, during the 18th and 19th century in England, drinking tea became a middle-class practice that could elevate your social status, making you seem polite, respectable, beautiful, and modern.

How Drinking Tea Can Elevate Your Social Cred (in 19th-Century England) | Dany Chan

How Drinking Tea Can Elevate Your Social Cred (in 19th-Century England)

From China to England to “Afternoon Tea”

The Chinese drank tea for centuries before it was exported to England as a luxury commodity beginning in the 17th century. Once tea was cultivated in English-controlled India, it became affordable, and a distinctive tea culture flourished among all levels of society. English lore credits the invention of “afternoon tea” to the Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857) who took her tea at 5 in the afternoon with bread, butter, and cakes. The epitome of afternoon tea’s material culture was the matching tea service. Since it was tailored for a population keen on drinking tea with milk and sugar, a tea service included additional types of wares such as creamers and sugar bowls that have no Chinese counterparts.

Drinking Tea as Polite and Respectable

Afternoon tea culture appealed particularly to the rising middle class because it came with its own set of material goods, forms of etiquette, and a body of cultural meaning that helped to distinguish them in an increasingly modern world. A phenomenon for the middle class developed during the 18th century whereby taking tea in one’s home became a form of social entertainment. In other words, the once-private domestic sphere became public, and the home now considered as the site where virtues such as politeness and respectability could be found.

William Hogarth, “The Strode Family,” c. 1738

© Tate, Photo © Tate

Image released under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)

The painting above of “The Strode Family” (c. 1738) by William Hogarth exemplifies this phenomenon. It presents a family entertaining a guest with tea in their home. The act of drinking tea is contextualized with other markers of refinement—fashionably-dressed people, an elegant interior, and landscape paintings on the wall that relate to the family’s travels—to suggest its virtue by association. Hogarth’s painting is a “conversation piece,” so called because it depicts demonstrations of respectability through particular kinds of social rituals: engaging in conversation, reading poetry, playing card games, and drinking tea.

Drinking Tea as Beautiful

With English tea culture established within this context of respectability and domesticity, it became a natural area of concern for the Aesthetic Movement that occupied the avant-garde later during the 19th century. Among its other attributes, the Victorian era (1837-1901) was a period of increasing urbanization and industrialization. Certain artists of this age perceived an “ugliness and vulgar materialism” to these phenomena and desired a reform in the arts, as well as in all aspects of life, through the pursuit of beauty. This reform came to be called the Aesthetic Movement, and its purview ultimately extended into the middle class home and lifestyle.

James McNeill Whistler, “Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland,” 1871-74

The Frick Collection

Photo © The Frick Collection

The painting above by James McNeill Whistler introduces a key concept of the Aesthetic Movement and its application to the domestic sphere. In the painting, Whistler created a so-called aesthetic environment whereby all the elements of the room—artistic objects such as furniture, accessories, decor, and even clothing—relate in harmonious ways. Aesthetes believed that artistic objects would inject beauty into daily life and transform the middle class home. And such artistic objects even assumed moral powers capable of nourishing the spirit and elevating social behavior.

The daily ritual of afternoon tea got the Aesthetic treatment and became a stage to display one’s sensibilities. One artistic object that saw keen popularity among the upper and middle classes was a new type of dress called a tea gown, as worn by the subject in Whistler’s painting. Hallmarks of this new fashion included loose, flowing lines and references to historical or foreign styles. Women wore the gowns primarily for entertaining at home during afternoon tea or informal dining. The tea gown was a perfect “artistic object” because it offered an outlet to showcase the wearer’s individuality. It also contrasted with the corset and bustle of her more formal public dress.

House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), Tea gown, 1894

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Drinking Tea as Modern

More than just a fashion whim, the tea gown’s rise in popularity in England paralleled major changes involving dress reform and women’s health, and ideals of modernity. Dresses such as the tea gown were promoted by both the Aesthetes and dress-reformers alike. For the Aesthetes, adopting an artistic dress would improve women’s health and that in turn would bring about their natural beauty. Other reformers touted artistic dress as not only healthy, but practical for the modern woman in her new roles in work and play. Tea gowns allowed for an ease of movement that encouraged health and beauty and an active lifestyle that were characteristic of these ideals of modernity.

[I]t was no longer enough to look modern by adopting the latest fashion; many women wanted to be modern.
— Patricia A. Cunningham, "Reforming Women's Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health, and Art"

The story of afternoon tea culture in England describes an amazing phenomenon that occurred in several other cultures to where Chinese tea was exported. Tea was essentially a foreign product, but became so popular in England that it was acculturated into an English practice distinctive from its Chinese origin. In short, wear a tea gown and drink tea in 19th-century England, and you would be regarded as polite, respectable, beautiful, healthy, and modern.

Where’s my kettle?

Portions of this post first appeared in Lotus Leaves.


Let’s chat!

What are today’s status markers? Would drinking Peet’s Coffee or Blue Bottle Coffee be analogous to drinking tea in the 19th century?


My Writing Goals for 2019

Happy New Year, Friends!

At last, I have reached a new milestone in my dream of becoming a published novelist. This year, I hope to ink a publishing contract for The Forgotten Fathers Club!! 2019 promises to be an exciting year for my creative writing, and I've got the goals to prove it :-)

My Writing Goals for 2019

This year, I plan to:

  • complete draft #3 of The Forgotten Fathers Club 

    • DUE: Jan 1 - Mar 31, 2019

  • get a publishing deal for The Forgotten Fathers Club

    • DUE: Apr 1 - Dec 31, 2019

  • complete draft #2 of The Gaerden

    • DUE: Apr 1 - Dec 31, 2019

  • get (1) writing grant or fellowship

    • DUE: Dec 31, 2019

 

Of course, the steps to landing a publishing contract are many and very much based on luck. Here's how this goal typically breaks down:

  1. prioritize my list of literary agents

  2. research each agent's submission requirements

  3. draft a query letter tailored to each agent

  4. draft a book synopsis

  5. polish the first (50) pages of The Forgotten Fathers Club until it shines

  6. email my queries to each agent

  7. sit and wait for the rejections (I'm aiming for 100 rejections)

  8. (hallelujah) I land an agent!!

  9. complete draft #4 of The Forgotten Fathers Club

  10. my agent pitches and shops the novel to publishers

  11. sit and wait for more rejections

  12. (hallelujah) a publisher buys my novel!!

 

Whew.

The sheer number of steps for this goal, at first, seemed overwhelming to me. But, having each necessary step laid out like this actually defeats that overwhelm - I now have a sense of the challenges ahead, and I have a plan to complete each step in the necessary order. And I do have a timeline for when I would like each step to be completed, all the while knowing that the "sit and wait for rejections" periods are variable and totally out of my control. Yet, with a plan, I can simply shift the timeline accordingly. But with any luck, I may get a book deal by the end of the year.


Let’s chat!

What new ambitions await you this year?


Why I Support: Reading is Fundamental

For years now, my charity of choice has been Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a non-profit focused on generating awareness of children’s literacy. Through them, I learned that 25 million children in the US cannot read proficiently, and it breaks my heart. I truly believe that reading is life-changing, and in my own small way, I can help by supporting this charity.

pexels-photo-256454.jpg

Why I Support: Reading is Fundamental

Focus on children's literacy

I love the fact that RIF focuses on the urgent issue of children's literacy. Numerous studies (here and here) and conventional wisdom points to the life-long positive impact of fostering a child's love of reading. I try to be mindful of this with my own young kids.

Free literary resources

RIF also creates content-rich online resources for educators, parents, and readers. Tied to specific children's books, these free resources include lesson plans, reading passages, calendars, and videos.

Striving for local impact

RIF partners with local communities to distribute hundreds of millions of books into the hands of tens of millions of children across the country. Because oftentimes, it is simply a matter of access.

Engaging with individual volunteers, sites, community groups, and organizations that share our passion to ensure that impact is felt at the local level.
— Reading is Fundamental

So for this holiday season, consider giving a donation to RIF (I'm sure it's tax-deductible). And if you're looking for that perfect gift for the special people in your life, consider giving to RIF in their names--I would love a gift like this (hint, hint) :-)


Let's chat!

What charity is near and dear to your heart?

How else can we nurture a child's love of reading?


3 Things I'm Thankful For This Year

In honor of Thanksgiving coming up this month, I want to take this opportunity to publicize my gratitude for the life that I have. I have been trying to practice daily gratitude, but it’s challenging. So far, I'm happy if I can remember to give thanks once a week! But I remind myself that just because I don’t write them down every day does not make me any less grateful for the good things in my life.

I have many things on my gratitude list, and below are my top three things that I'm thankful for this year.

3 Things I'm Thankful For | Dany Chan

3 Things I’m Thankful For This Year

My People

I am thankful for my family and friends, who all make my life richer in different ways. I love them, and they love me. I am also grateful for the writing community at large. Though most are strangers, they share my passion for writing and truly understand the ups and downs of a writing life that I'm trying to cultivate.

My Creative Drive

I am grateful for having this need to create. During the past few months, my life has changed a lot, with a big move and leaving my job. My creative projects continue to keep me from falling into a serious depression over the big things that I can't control. I look forward to my creative writing sessions every day.

My Planning Obsession

And speaking of control, I am very thankful for my obsession to plan things.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
— Benjamin Franklin

I agree with Ben wholeheartedly! Especially during my current situation when my days are open and free of appointments: if I don't plan for writing, reading, child-care pickups, or housecleaning, for example, I could easily fritter away those hours in front of a screen and just feel horrible afterwards.

 

I will keep trying to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude, but regardless of when I can manage it—once a day, once a week, once a month, or even once a year—expressing gratitude helps me to look beyond my daily worries and struggles to recognize all the good that is in my life. I hope to inspire you to do the same.


Let’s chat!

What are the top three things that you’re thankful for this year?


How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season

October is here, and for my family, that means the beginning of the holiday season (Halloween is a big deal). In an effort to live more intentionally and make more family memories, I've begun putting together seasonal bucket lists. These are lists of experiences that are rather unique to that particular season.

How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season | Dany Chan

How to Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season

If you follow me on social media, you may have last seen my Summer Bucket List (it involved a lot of ice cream :-)

For this holiday season, I've combined both the fall experiences and the holidays experiences into one bucket list. I will add to the list as ideas come up. I know that we won't have every experience on our wishlist checked off, and that's ok.

The point of this bucket list is to be more intentional with our family time.

So, the following is my family's Holidays Bucket List:

  • visit a pumpkin patch

  • carve pumpkins

  • make and eat pies

  • go apple-picking

  • go Trick-or-Treating with the kids

  • drink hot apple cider

  • drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows)

  • wear a fun scarf or sweater

  • enjoy the fall colors

  • watch holiday movies

  • go ice skating

  • trim the Xmas tree

  • send holiday cards to friends and family

  • listen to Xmas songs 24/7

  • build a snowman (if possible)


Let’s chat!

Are there other holiday experiences that you'd recommend?

How do you and your family plan for the holiday season?


How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

Ah, September.

As kids around the country, including my own, are returning to school, I sometimes wish that I can be part of that rush: the thrill of crisp, clean notebook pages or the possibilities of a box of new decorative pencils. It's been a long time since I was a student, but that doesn't stop me from partaking in the "back-to-school" excitement in my own adult ways.

How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

How To Do "Back-To-School" As An Adult

Crack Open a New Notebook

I always carry a notebook (that's the writer in me), and regardless of how little I've filled the current one, come September 1st, I switch to a new notebook for the new season. Here's what I'm using: Moleskine Harry Potter Limited Edition Notebook - Marauder's Map.* The tea-stained coloring of the cover evokes the colors of fallen leaves and the reflective mood of autumn. And more importantly, Harry Potter and September 1st--enough said.

Switch to a Leather Bag

All Summer I've been toting around canvas totes :-) They're casual and washable (a must!) and oftentimes have fun designs. For the Fall, I want to feel more professional (I have a whole season of job searches coming up, after all). So, I will be switching to a simple and sleek leather tote. And voilà, instant sophistication!

Do Some Homework

I do love a good workbook. This Fall, I will be using this workbook -- The Write Brain Workbook*-- to sharpen my skills and flex my creative muscles with short writing exercises. Learning is a life-long endeavor, and you don't have to be in school to learn something new.

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.


Let's chat!

How do you feel about "back-to-school" season?

How else can I get in on the excitement of "back-to-school"?


Jump-Start Your Creativity With the "Creative Hour"

"Where do you find the time to write a novel?" 

I often get asked this question, from family, friends, and even strangers. The simple answer is that I make the time to write. With a day job, husband, and two young kids, I'm like most of the parents I know: making time for passion projects is extremely difficult. It took me a whole year to develop a daily practice of what writers call, "butt in chair." But it is possible. If you've ever wanted to start a passion project of your own, I recommend jump-starting your creativity with the "creative hour."

Jump-Start Your Creativity With The "Creative Hour" | Dany Chan

Jump-Start Your Creativity With the "Creative Hour"

What is the "creative hour"?

The "creative hour" is simply the one hour every day that you've committed to being present for your passion project. For me, it meant sitting at my desk every night at 9pm to write. After we put the kids to bed, wash the dishes, pack lunches, and prepare for the next day's dinner, I put my butt in the chair and be available for the writing muse for the next hour.

Why one hour?

Well, like most people, it takes me about 20 minutes to switch tasks, to really get into the flow of writing creatively. So, if I commit to one hour of butt-in-chair time, then I can hope for about 40 minutes of producing new words. At the end of the hour, I am free to stop or keep going, depending on how I feel.

This idea of the "creative hour" is very similar to the "genius hour" concept being applied in the classrooms. Students are given one hour during the school day to explore their passions and creativity. Genius idea!

But don't let the kids have all the fun!

I encourage you to try it. Commit one hour every day to being present for your passions. It will be really  hard at the beginning. Remember, it took me a whole year to develop a daily writing habit. So, cut yourself some slack, believe in the process, and enjoy the time you will have with your creative self.


Let's chat!

What passion project have you been dying to start?

Will you be giving the "creative hour" a try? If not, why?


What is a "Summer Read"?

Summertime is upon us, and summer reading lists are cropping up everywhere online and in your local bookstores. And to be honest, the selections tend to skew towards contemporary fiction or "chick-lit," like Crazy Rich Asians (a delightful read, btw). It got me thinking: what is a "summer read" anyway?

Why the Idea of a "Summer Read is BS | Dany Chan

What is a "Summer Read"?

What is a "Summer Read"?

When I think of a "summer read," the first image that comes to mind is of me lounging at the beach with a good book. This is why a "summer read" is often interchangeable with a "beach read," a marketing category that appeared in the 1990s. In either case, it is defined as a book that doesn't require a lot of the reader to enjoy it. Summer reads are usually described as "fun," "frothy," or "gripping." "Cerebral" is rarely descriptive of a "summer read."

Summer Learning Loss

Perhaps we need to look to the schools to find the origins of the "summer read." Since 1906, education researchers have identified a phenomenon referred to as the "summer learning loss," whereby many students return to school after the summer break dumber than when they began the break. Reading over the summer is a suggestion to combat this loss, and the activity more impactful if the student chooses books that interest them.

My Definition of a "Summer Read"

So, the two criteria for a "summer read" is now clear to me. It is: 

  1. a book that interests you, and
  2. a book that you read during the summer months

Simple, right? :-)


Let's chat!

What is your top suggestion for a "summer read"? Why?


How I Get S* Done With My Planners

I love planners.

Every year, I buy a stack of new planners, each with their pristine calendar pages that promises a bright year ahead. Yet, I can't use them all, so I end up with a stack of half-filled planners. I confess, it's a problem. But, I really enjoy the process of planning, or, in the words of Leslie Knope:

Hobbies? Organizing my agenda. Wait. That Doesn’t Sound Fun. Jammin’ on my planner!
— Leslie Knope

Those who know me know that I do actually get s* done, and I do it all with my planners. This year, my planning system involves two (that's right...) planners: a Blog + Life Planner and a Day Designer Planner.

How I Get S* Done With My Planners | Dany Chan

How I Get S* Done With My Planners

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.

What is the Blog + Life Planner?

The Blog + Life Planner is my main planner that I carry around everyday. It has several unique features that suit my needs this year.

Since I started blogging, the planner offers specialized pages that help with blogging, such as a place to draft my blog business plan and a blog metrics page at the end of every month. For my life and work planning needs, the planner offers undated monthly calendars and weekly views with a to-do list that are separated into personal to-dos and business/blog to-dos. Also, it has a ton of notes pages in the back.

Plus, the planner is just so darn colorful and cute!

I use this planner to plan out my yearly, monthly, and weekly schedules and goals.

Photos courtesy of Wonderlass

What is the Day Designer Planner?

The Day Designer Planner* stays on my desk at work. It offers dated monthly calendars, but I use it solely for the daily planning pages. Each weekday takes up one whole page. And the page is uniquely divided into an hourly schedule on the left side and a to-do list on the right side. Plus, there is room at the top of the page devoted to identifying your "Top 3" goals for the day. Along the bottom of the page is a "Notes" section and a "Gratitude" box. 

To my Type-A mind, all of the various designated boxes and grids puts me at ease when I open to a fresh page every day. Somehow, these daily pages gives me hope that I can at least try to design my day to my liking.

Photos courtesy of Day Designer

How I Use Two Planners to Get S* Done

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I put everything into my Blog + Life Planner, and I use it for planning out my year, months, and weeks. Then, when I go into work every day, I open the Day Designer Planner* to that day's page, and, referencing my weekly schedule and to-dos, I would fill out that day's appointments and meetings, list out my to-dos specific to that day, and identify my "Top 3" goals or must-dos. The daily page is where I make a mess as meetings are cancelled or new tasks arise throughout the day. When the workday is over, I leave it on my desk and walk away, becoming a symbolic act of leaving "work" at work.

So, in the end, I think I need multiple planners because there currently is no planner that offers me a space for yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning. At least, this is what I tell myself to justify my planner obsession :-)

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.


Let's chat!

Do you use a paper planner or a digital planner?

How do you keep up with your schedule and to-dos?


3 Best Fictional Friendships of All Time

In my novels, I love to feature the theme of friendship. Though fictional, my characters help me explore how friendships develop and their impact on people's lives. Over the years, I've encountered some great fictional friendships in books, movies, and TV shows. And they undoubtedly serve as models for the friendships that I create in my stories and also for the friendships that I nurture in real life. Below are my picks for the 3 best fictional friendships of all time.

3 Best Fictional Friendships of All Time | Dany Chan

3 Best Fictional Friendships of All Time

Frodo and Sam and the Fellowship (Lord of the Rings)

The friendship between the two hobbits, in particular, is the the most aspirational on my list. Why? Because the trials they went through together to secure their bond - journeying into Mordor to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom - are simply unrealistic for us mere humans. Yet, friends in real life do support each other through life's catastrophes, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment. And when they come through such trials, their friendship will either be stronger or will have collapsed under the weight of such hardship.

Frodo and Sam represent the former. They began the terrible journey armed only with hope and survived it, because even at their darkest hour, when Frodo seemed ready to give up and cast himself into the fires, Sam's love pulled him up, literally and figuratively. There are several moments throughout the movie where we get reaffirmations of their friendship, but my favorite moment occurred during the Fellowship's reunion (view the clip below). Amidst the raucous of Frodo's reunion with the other members of the Fellowship, the quiet understanding between him and Sam packs the emotional punch.

Holmes and Watson (Sherlock)

I admit it: I'm a Cumberb*tch, a woman who has a deep fascination with the actor Benedict Cumberbatch (definition via Urban Dictionary). The actor's portrayal of the iconic Sherlock Holmes as a brilliant, social miscreant appeals to me, much like Hugh Laurie's Dr. House.

Photo via  ScreenerTV

Photo via ScreenerTV

Holmes and Watson have an unlikely friendship, seemingly full of contrasts: Holmes is anti-social, Watson personable; Holmes cerebral, Watson earthbound. Yet, they complement each other so that, together, they make a strong team. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as they say. What is most appealing to me about their friendship is the impact they have on each other. In finding a friend in the other, Watson begins to heal from his psychological war-scars and Holmes discovers a reason to continue living.

Monica, Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe (F.R.I.E.N.D.S.)

Ah, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

After 10+ years together, I think I know more about Monica, Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe than I do my own husband (shh, don't tell him that).

These 6 fictional friends are important to me because they actually helped me through the tumultuous years of early adulthood. In my 20s, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. became my surrogate friends. Back then, I often felt lost, which fed into my depression. And although I had strong friendships in real life, my depression was such that I could not allow my friends to try to help me through it. Oddly, I turned to fictional characters such as these 6 for solace. Their comedic storylines and over-the-top personalities was just far-enough removed from reality that I could enjoy them from a safe distance. And during my lowest moments, when I felt the most alone, the characters' decade-long friendship offered me hope that one day I may find such friendships of my own.

Plus, they always brought on the laughs when I needed a good laugh :-)


Let's chat!

What do you think of my 3 picks?

Which fictional friendship is on your all-time favorite list?


3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You

I love to read.

Although there are many benefits to reading nonfiction - history, memoirs, or the news, for example - reading fiction is my forte. On my own, I gravitate towards fantasy, science-fiction, and magical realistic fiction. I joined a book club specifically to read outside of my favorite genres, such as contemporary or literary fiction.

Yet, a story of fiction is, at its heart, make-believe or pretend. And it is this very nature of fiction being a well-told lie that actually benefits the reader in many ways. The following are three important reasons why reading fiction is good for you.

3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You | Dany Chan

3 Reasons Why Reading Fiction is Good For You

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.

Reason #1: Exercises Your Imagination

In writing fiction, the author uses her imagination to creatively tell a good story. In reading fiction, the reader also exercises his imagination to “suspend disbelief,” an act of temporarily allowing himself to believe something that is not true.

Along the spectrum of fiction, there are several types of stories that demand little from the reader’s imagination, as well as some genres that put the imagination through the ringer.

  • A work of fiction such as Olive Kitteridge* that is grounded in contemporary life

VERDICT: not much stretching of the imagination is needed to believe the story

VERDICT: the fact that a story is imagined in the historical past takes some effort on the part of the reader to believe parts of the story

VERDICT: hands down, magic of any kind requires us to suspend our disbelief

VERDICT: reading and enjoying these two genres require an imagination boot camp

In short, the farther removed from your current reality the story is, the more you are asked to stretch your imagination to believe the story. When storytelling is done right, readers are easily able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the work of fiction.

And, the greatest fictional stories do become real for their passionate fans. An enchanting world or a lovable character can inspire such enduring memes as “Frodo lives!”

Reason #2: Helps Build Empathy

A recent study reported in Scientific American suggests that reading fiction, especially literary fiction, builds empathy and may improve social functioning.

“Literary fiction...focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships...This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world,...They [the characters] support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.”

Empathy has long been believed to be an important soft skill to learn. And it may very well be an essential component for repairing human society.

Reason #3: Fills the Well

For a fiction-writer like myself, reading fiction is an activity that renews my spirit and fills my creative well. This concept of "filling the well" comes from Julia Cameron’s creativity guide, The Artist's Way.* Cameron insists that we need to maintain an inner reservoir from which to draw if we are going to continue to create.

I would add that we also need to maintain this inner well if we are going to continue to thrive. So, for many people around the world, reading fiction becomes an activity of rest, relaxation, and escape from the busyness of modern living.

 

Since the creation of the world's first novel - which by the way is arguably the Japanese Tale of Genji,* written in the 11th century - fiction continues to offer readers these three benefits along with many more.

I invite you to make time to read fiction, whether it be your favorite fantasy book or a compelling literary debut. For the sake of your well-being, it will be so worth it.


Let's chat!

Why do you read fiction?

What other benefits of reading fiction did I miss?

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.


Where Do Your Ideas Come From? (+ Freebie)

I am in the middle of revising my novel, The Forgotten Fathers Club (FFC), and boy is it an experience! It's been arduous, tedious, exciting, and challenging. I've written the first drafts of two novels, but I have yet to complete a revision, so this process is all new to me. Thanks for following along  :-)

I also have an exciting update for you at the end of this post!

But first, allow me to tell you the story of how the idea for The Forgotten Fathers Club came about.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From? | Dany Chan

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

In 2014, my family and I visited Denver, and while driving to drop off the rental car, we chatted about the book Wicked* and the movie Maleficent,* both of which we have read and seen, respectively.

And I remember saying something like, "They should make a movie about the fathers of these fairy tales. You never see them again after the first scene." And then, "That would be a cool story idea: The Fairy-tale Fathers Club." 

Well, I wrote down the story idea in my notebook, and four years later, I'm revising it. The moral of this story is: always carry a notebook.*


Now, for that exciting update I mentioned at the beginning of the post. I have for you 3 brand-spankin' new chapters (1-3) of The Forgotten Fathers Club. Just sign up for my newsletter below to download it!


Let's chat!

When and how does inspiration hit you?

Do you carry a notebook everywhere?

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.


Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season

So, many famous writers have said that to be a good writer, you must read good stories. Recently, I've lucked out with a few excellent books, in both the fantasy and sci-fi genres. This month, I would like to share with you a Hugo-Award winner, The Fifth Season,* by N.K. Jemisin.

Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season | Dany Chan

Why You Should Read: The Fifth Season

My Top 3 (Reasons to Read This Book):

  • unique world

    • The Stillness is a land rocked by catastrophic quakes and tremors with which a vengeful Father Earth punishes the inhabitants.
  • refreshing story

    • This is the way the world ends...for the last time. How cool is THAT premise?!
  • roguish characters

    • The heroine and her love interest are morally ambiguous, mischievous, don't like people much, and have great heart...I secretly wish that I can be like this in real life.

Let's chat!

What awesome book would you recommend?

What is your favorite genre(s)?

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support.


How I Plan to Rock My Writing Life This Year

Happy New Year!


I want to begin this new year with you by sharing some goals for my writing practice. I love beginnings, so I started planning these new goals since last fall (I admit it: I'm a planner nerd). If 2017 was a good year, then 2018 is intended to be a great one :-)

How I Plan to Rock My Writing Life This Year | Dany Chan

How I Plan to Rock My Writing Life This Year

5 Easy Steps to Set Goals

But, before I list out my writing goals, I first want to describe my simple 5-step process for setting goals, just in case you need a little help in determining your own goals and resolutions. I have found this particular process to be effective for me, so I hope that it will be useful for you as well.

The five steps are as follows:

  1. Do a brain dump of every goal or idea that you can think of.
  2. Select the most important and/or the most exciting goal to you now (no more than five).
  3. Break down each goal into actionable tasks.
  4. Set a deadline for each task.
  5. Schedule each task in your calendar or planner.

My 2018 Writing Goals

  • Goal #1: revise The Forgotten Fathers Club (DUE: Jan - June 2018)

  • Goal #2: maintain my author platform (DUE: all year)

  • Goal #3: hire an editor and polish The Forgotten Fathers Club (DUE: July - Dec 2018)

  • Goal #4: research and compile list of literary agents (DUE: July - Dec 2018)

  • Goal #5: research: how to submit query letters (DUE: Dec 2018)


Let's chat!

What are your goals for 2018?

How do you keep yourself accountable?