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Back Online!

New Macbook Air!I’ve been having a rough time over here in Taiwan. My computer had been struggling for a while, then chose to die in the middle of a web update. I thought it would be an easy fix, but logic boards aren’t cheap, and I ended up buying a new Macbook Air. It feels about 10 lbs lighter than my old Powerbook, and I’m beyond thrilled to have Internet access again. Plus, I have fancy Mandarin keys in case I  feel like typing in Chinese.

Now that I’m back online, I have SO MANY things to catch up on. I managed to finish the web design that was so rudely interrupted, and–TA DA! New theme! I’m using Divi from Elegant Themes, with my fancy pants logo by Boglarka Nadi. This is a huge DIY success for a technologically challenged writerperson like me, and I love the clean new look.

Next up on my agenda is some critiquing for my Ink Monster pals, followed by crazy travel planning. I’m leaving Taipei in April, and will be traveling to Seoul, Hong Kong, and then Bali for a personal writing retreat. After that…?

I’ll let you know when I know.

Until then, I’ll be writing, catching up on Instagram, and getting myself packed up for my next adventure!

Reasons to Miss America

Reasons to Miss America

I’m not Miss America (it would be unfair to the other competitors if I entered) but I’ve been in Taiwan for almost two years now, and that’s plenty long to start missing ‘Murica. I went through the culture shock phase a long time ago, and 95% of the time, I’m totally comfortable and content here in Asia. That last 5% will get you, though. If I had to say what I’ve been missing most?

5. I miss having a kitchen. I’m forever pinning recipes on Pinterest, but for what? My apartment in Taiwan has an electric kettle and a microwave, so all these cookies and cakes and lasagnas  remain homeless. I could get a bigger/swankier apartment in Taipei with cooktops and such, but it’s too easy to grab a box of dumplings that cost maybe US $2. Despite all the cheap, delicious street food, I’m pining to cook for myself again!

Cooking with Lola Dodge...What shall we microwave today?

4. I miss communicating. Being illiterate sucks, y’all. Mind you, it’s my fault my Mandarin is dire, but I miss the days when not every personal interaction was a disaster. I get food I didn’t want (one time a root beer instead of mushrooms), can’t correct the mistakes, and fluster cashiers left and right. Plus, I could be walking past the coolest stuff ever, but I can’t read signs or ask people what’s going on.

3. I miss writing events. How many writing conferences do you know of in Asia? The ones in my area are either huge international expos for selling foreign book rights, or writing retreats on islands. We don’t have the writing/reading oriented conferences like RWA or RT, and I’m bummed missing the annual reunion at my MFA alma mater (IYWM). It’s sad relying on the internet to connect with my writer/reader friends!

2. I miss my friends and family. When you leave the country, everything at home keeps moving on without you. People are getting married, having kids, and doing fun things that I can’t be part of. My awkward time zone doesn’t help much—I’m not even on Facebook at the same times as everyone else. #sadface

1. I miss American carbs. I crave macaroni and cheese and NY pizza like a woman possessed. Even though we have tons of Western food options in Taipei, they’re never quite exactly right. I miss things like buttery mashed potatoes and fudgy cakes that just don’t translate to the Asian palette. Of course, I’m not exactly starving with all the amazing dim sum and pastries around (I’ll start missing those as soon as I’m on the plane out), but sometimes you just want to eat what reminds you of home.

Pizza you are my one true love

Bring on 2014!

2013 has been pretty awesome.

Ivory released;

Ivory by Lola Dodge

I moved back to Taiwan;

Dahu Park Taipei Moon Bridge

Moon Bridge!

made some new friends;

Panda friend at the Taipei Zoo

Chillin’. Eatin’ bamboo.

donated my hair;

Lola getting her hair chopped

Locks of Love!

tried new cuisines;

Bad Translations in Taiwan Hits Throws the Pork

Wow–didn’t I just see a Pinterest recipe for Hits Throws the Pork?

and found unexpected treasures.

Strange sign translation. Toilet Treasure.

Toilet Treasure! (why does this sign exist?)

2014 is looking up. Belle Fury releases February 4th, and I’m traveling to South Korea, Hong Kong, and Bali (for starters). I have some Inky projects underway, some fun Manhattan Ten developments coming your way late next year, and a few other stories that I can’t wait to tell.

The Cover for Belle Fury-the third volume in the Manhattan Ten romance novella Series

Get ready for February 2014!

Hope the New Year brings you all much happiness, glitter, and pizza.



Best Job for a Writer? TEFL!

I’m always Googling “best jobs for writers.” I dislike the idea of technical writing—what if my day job bled into my fiction? The next best search results suggest working in security or as night auditor at a hotel, where down time equals writing time.

I propose something better: TEFL. Or Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The job description varies by country and school, but I can’t imagine a better situation than the one I have at my job here in Taiwan. I don’t teach more than 20 hours a week, but I’m provided with national healthcare and housing, so my salary goes a long way, especially since the cost of living is so low.

My go-to teppanyaki meal costs NT$60 or US $2.00.

Money aside, I have time, time, time! My school is an English “buxiban” or cram school, so I teach after school hours, mostly 5pm to 9pm. Sure, I have lesson planning and grading, but not much, and foreign teachers at my school aren’t required to sit office hours.

I have all day to write. I also get a good chunk of vacation time, and there’s nothing better for my creativity than travel!

Obviously there’s a downside. I miss out on writing conferences, and local writing groups. My only contact with the community is online. There’s also the distance from friends and family to deal with, so TEFL isn’t for everyone.

If you’re an aspiring writer and you’re not happy with where you are, think about it. It’s particularly easy to get jobs in Asia, and you can seek out a situation that will let you balance work and writing. There’s always Skype for keeping in touch with the folks at home.

I’m happy to chat if anyone is interested in the TEFL/writing life!