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Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers!)

Why is your web site and Twitter handle “GoodDirt”? 

I grew up in a family where women were expected to be quiet and clean and pretty. But I gravitated towards the outdoors, and I didn’t understand why that was such a strange thing–why it wasn’t acceptable. So I started telling myself that it was okay, and that getting dirty wasn’t a thing to be afraid of, or to be ashamed of. It wouldn’t make me any less of a woman. So— 

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Pearl S. Buck. 

Can I pick your brain?

Yes. But you are required to do a few things first: 

  • Peruse this web site and make sure you understand what my areas of expertise and interest are. Find me on LinkedIn and do the same.
  • Do some basic research; don’t ask me questions you can answer for yourself on the Internet. Examples might be:
    -What’s the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
    -How do I write a query letter? 
    -How do I find an agent?
  • Have a look at my current offerings.
  • Read this article, on the right way to “pick someone’s brain.”

When you do your homework, we can have a robust, thoughtful conversation. 

What exactly do you do

(Hi, Mom. Thanks for visiting my web site.)

I’m a freelance editor, and I also write for a living. I pen a column for The Writer magazine on publishing and writing. I teach in two MFA programs in classes about writing and publishing. 

I sometimes work in diversity and inclusion education, if we’re a good fit. E-mail me for more details.

Do you have an agent? 

No. The answer to the question of whether or not to go with an agent is a highly personal one. I looked for one for my novel; I deliberately went without for my memoir. For my next project, a YA historical novel, I’ll seek out an agent.

What are you working on now?

I’m an editor at Undomesticated, a web magazine for, by, and about women living boldly in this world. And I edit and publish Reads and Eats, a paid newsletter featuring marginalized, emerging writers. 

Apart from that, I’m drafting a new novel, some essays, and a nonfiction book proposal.

How do I pronounce your name?

It’s pronounced “yeeshun,” with a short “u.” 

The way my name is pronounced in English has zero semblance to how it’s actually pronounced: Taiwanese has no written language; it relies on Mandarin, so the original “Gee Swun” (hard “G”) morphs into “yí xùn” once it’s spelled out; and from there into the butchered English. Folks inevitably pronounce my name in their own ways, depending on when I met them and how much they wanted to know about the heritage of my name and how it’s pronounced in my native language, and that’s okay. 

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