(9) 01/08/2020

A fantastic new year gift

My third novel has been accepted for publication! Legacy of the Tigers is the third of the Tiger Saga trilogy—in China’s political chaos, a woman’s struggle to survive and to search for her family and the American pilot she loves. It’ll be published this summer by the same publisher, Open Books.

Two years ago, I was struggling to find a publisher. It was a tedious process. Frustrating. And painful. Looking at all the book covers, I longed to be a published author and see my own book cover among them. Whenever I received a rejection letter, I gave myself permission to eat an ice cream bar. Luckily, I didn’t have to sabotage my weight loss effort for too long.

At the end of January 2018, I received four offers and signed a contract with Open Books for both of my novels at the same time. Wings of a Flying Tiger was published in June 2018, and Will of a Tiger was released last January. Both books have received excellent reviews and touched many people, including a son of a Flying Tiger who gave his father’s flight jacket to me. I was thrilled to be interviewed on National Public Radio and honored to be a guest speaker at the Flying Tigers WWII Veterans Reunion.

It’s so hard to believe that in two years I have two books published and the third one is on its way. Dreams do come true if one works hard enough. I’m so glad I didn’t give up when the time was hard, the noise was strong, and the odds were against me—a scientist born and raised in China to be a fiction writer.

(8) 10/10/19

An Amazing recommendation

Just received another incredible recommendation for my presentation from the Executive Secretary of the Flying Tigers Association.

“Iris Yang is an enthusiastic, captivating and inspired speaker. She was the guest of the Flying Tigers Association in San Diego (the Flying Tigers WWII Veterans 78th Anniversary Reunion). We had about 100 people for a private tour and dinner at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park and Iris was our featured speaker.

Everyone was fascinated with the story of her life; how she came to the United States with very little money, and speaking no English. Her personal journey to becoming a writer of fictional stories of the Flying Tigers in China is very touching. Many of our members were tearful and couldn’t wait to purchase her books.

Iris is a delight to work with, bringing happiness and graciousness to all who interact with her.”

Lydia Rossi, Executive Secretary, Flying Tigers Association, www.flyingtigersavg.com

(7) 10/03/19

Overcoming fear of public speaking

It's hard to believe that a little over a year ago I was terrified of public speaking. Two months before my first offer to give a presentation, I woke in cold sweat for days and decided I had to do something about it. I watched lots of videos about how to overcome fear of public speaking and how to give great presentations. I even tried online hypnosis. It worked. I’m so happy that I no long have such debilitating fear and others can enjoy this fascinating topic.

Here are a few testimonials about my presentation:

“Iris Yang’s talk on her historical novels and journey to becoming a published author was extremely well received here at Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory. She’s an excellent speaker who captivates the audience with an incredible story that touches on history, writing historical fiction, and her own fascinating personal journey. Several attendees took the time to give tremendously positive feedback (“She’s just wonderful”), and stopped to tell me how much they enjoyed the lecture. Iris was great to work with and I’m very glad we invited her to speak here at the Library.” T.J. Hicks, Program Coordinator at Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory. tjh@ranchomiragelibrary.org, 760-341-7323 ext. 731

“Iris Yang brings her heart, soul, and some critical historical knowledge to her very well-planned presentation. Attendees were charmed by her thoughtful sharing of Chinese history in the context of the incredible story of the Flying Tigers, as well as her writing journey. Ms. Yang was a pleasure to work with and I very much look forward to having her return next year. Her fine writing, professionalism, kindness, and storytelling skills prompted me to offer my recommendation. I am available to recommend her personally and can be reached at jelevine@dconc.gov or 919-560-0268.” Jenny Levine, Humanities & Adult Programming Coordinator at Durham County Public Library

“What an interesting, thought-provoking, and informative presentation! Iris Yang combines her personal biography with engaging storytelling, informative slides, and a comprehensive historical knowledge to bring the story of the Flying Tigers to life. Iris is a consummate professional; she’s a delight to work with, and she had the audience completely enthralled and hanging on every word. I highly recommend Iris and her presentation!” Judy Poe, Assistant Director at Sedona Public Library (events@sedonalibrary.org, 928-282-7714 x116)

“Blending fiction with real Chinese History, Iris Yang brings the Flying Tigers and their WWII experiences into vivid life. True personal and family experiences provide context to her presentation and effortlessly draw in the audience. Ms. Yang is professional, thoughtful, and gracious. She was a delight to have at our library.” Sarah Willadsen, Adult Services Librarian at Prescott Public Library (sarah.willadsen@prescott-az.gov, 928-777-1540)

(6) 08/24/19

I'm one of the "successful historical novelists!"

Andrew Noakes, a historical fiction blogger and editor at The History Quill, put together “Top tips on writing historical fiction from 64 successful historical novelists.” I’m one of the writers he asked to contribute.

What an honor to be labeled as a successful historical novelist! It’s not easy, as a novelist, to write a tip in less than 100 words. 😇

(5) 07/17/19

Amazing Connections Keep Forming

Prescott is a city in central Arizona, an hour away from Sedona. I was a little worried that no one would show up for my presentation at Prescott Public Library since I didn’t know a single soul in the area.

I arrived at the library half an hour ahead of time as I’ve always done. For dozens of presentations I’ve given, no one showed up that early; a few times I had to track down the hosts.

But there were half a dozen people when I arrived at Prescott library, and more continued to pour in. In the end, we had forty-four people, the second largest crowd I’ve ever had. And more importantly, I made more amazing connections.

A gentleman who has already heard my talk four times in Sedona and Cottonwood area showed up with a picture. It’s a 600-piece puzzle of a Flying Tiger’s P40 and a fierce tiger flying overhead! This particular airplane “Tomahawk 47” was piloted by Third Squadron flight leader Robert T. Smith.

“The puzzle was done over November and December in 2004,” Mr. Larry Stoffers said, “and it has been hanging on a wall in my den ever since.” He and his wife decided to give it to me and drove an hour to Prescott to do so. “I couldn’t think of anyone else who might enjoy it more than you.”

Later, I thanked him with a photo of me holding the precious puzzle and the Flying Tiger’s flight jacket I received, he sent me the following message: “I never realized that when I assembled the puzzle so many years ago, the true joy was not when it was finished but now when I see it with you. When I close my eyes, I can envision you flying in the cockpit of that P-40, wearing the Flighting Tiger jacket and having the fierce tiger flying along overhead, protecting your flight as you proceed along your life's journey and future career as a successful author with your upcoming third book.”

What a heartfelt wish! I felt a lump in my throat. Book promotion is hard; there were times I felt frustrated and alone without any support. Amazing connections like with Mr. Stoffers made my struggle worthwhile.

Another man, Mr. Clayton Kuhles, has contacted me via my website. His neighbor told him about my presentation announced on a local newspaper. When he shared his website, I exclaimed, “Oh, my God.” I know who he is and his work. He runs a mission to recover US airmen who were lost in China-Burman-India theater during WWII. “He has found and documented 22 US aircraft missing since WW II, thereby accounting for 193 US military personnel listed as MIA or KIA. In some cases, Clayton was able to carry out remains of the missing personnel and bring closure to their families (https://www.miarecoveries.org/).”

When I did research for my books, I came across his website. In my second book, Danny Hardy and Birch Bai talked about searching for missing American airmen, although they didn't have the chance to take on the task. I'm writing the third of the "trilogy," and in it, I plan to write about the recovery mission.

Clayton attended my presentation, and we talked for hours afterwards.

Amazing connections just keep forming.

(4) 07/12/19

Heartwarming story—I’m part of a Flying Tiger’s family!

“In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of south-western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, this American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.” This is how the synopsis of Wings of a Flying Tiger begins. The novel is a heroic tale about the rescue of a wounded American pilot (one of the Flying Tigers) in WWII in China.

On June 29, a gentleman attended my talk at Sedona Public Library, bringing in a flight jacket. It belonged to his father, a Flying Tiger, who fought the Japanese in WWII in China as a pilot, just like my hero, Danny Hardy.

After the talk, Mr. Greg Alexander allowed me to wear the flight jacket.

“It fits you,” he said, “and on another level, it really fits you.”

We started to communicate. He told me he was “holding a lump” in his throat when he heard my talk. “You possess a rare level of courage to speak for those who can't, who are silenced, who have passed…” He thanked me for writing books about the American heroes.

Two days later he finished reading Wings of a Flying Tiger. “My eyes blurred with tears… You reached me, touched me in a way I haven't felt for ages…”

He continued, “Before sleep, I asked my father’s permission to share his flight jacket with you…” He asked his father, who passed away many years ago, to give him some sign, and he woke up next day by the tapping of a pure yellow bird he’d never seen before on his window. “A bird with wings spoke to me, and I listened.”

He had been offered $5K for the jacket; he had been asked to donate it to a WWII museum; his son was hoping to have it.

Yet, he would give it to me, a person he’s met once in his life.

Greg told me the reason:

The similarity between Danny Hardy and his father is striking: Both were courageous American pilots who were shot down in southern China, and both lost their friends during the mission. They had leg injuries and malaria. Both were rescued by Chinese villagers, who treated them with herbal medicines and sheltered them for several months. In both cases, the Japanese soldiers desperately searched for them…

And the flight jacket played an important role—a Blood Chit was sewed to the back of the jacket. In Chinese, it reads: “This foreigner has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should protect him.” Jasmine Bai, the heroine, recognized Danny as an American pilot because of the Blood Chit.

But giving the precious jacket to me wasn’t the end of the story.

“I will ask you to become my sister. In this way, I can honor my Mother’s wishes and keep Dad’s flight jacket in the family with you!”

He asked me to consider this unusual request.

I didn’t need time to consider. Tears ran down my cheeks. “I’ll be honored to be your sister!” In my second book, Danny Hardy and Birch Bai, a Chinese pilot who participated in the rescue, became sworn brothers. Will of a Tiger is about friendship and brotherhood.

I wrote the books because the Flying Tigers’ stories touched me. I wanted to thank them for their bravery and sacrifice. How could I ever imagine that one day a Flying Tiger and his son would walk into my life and touch me in such a profound way?

On July 4th, I became the little sister of a Flying Tiger’s son. I’m part of a Flying Tiger’s family. How cool is that?

(3) 07/04/19

Official Book Trailer on YouTube

Official Book Trailer of WINGS OF A FLYING TIGER: https://youtu.be/jYXq0LATrWM

Official Book Trailer of WILL OF A TIGER: https://youtu.be/5dxAouGQups

(2) 07/04/19

Unimaginable dream—being a guest speaker at the Flying Tigers WWII Veterans 78th Anniversary Reunion

Because of my books, I’ve been invited as a guest speaker at the Flying Tigers WWII Veterans 78th Anniversary Reunion in San Diego this fall (September 25-29).

I can’t believe it. What an honor! I wrote the novels to thank the American pilots for their bravery, contribution, and sacrifice during WWII in China. Now, in return, the Flying Tigers Association thanks me for writing the books about those American heroes. This is a dream come true—I’ll be with the people so close to the Flying Tigers (Sadly, all the Flying Tigers have passed away, but their family members will be there at the reunion).

Technically speaking, this is not a story of fulfilling dreams since I’ve never dreamed of such a dream.

I was born and raised in China when the country was isolated from the outside world. We were told that America was hell and American soldiers were devils—they were coward and cruel. We were not told that Americans had participated in the war against Japan in China and they had made vital contributions. I had never heard of the Flying Tigers before I came to this country. Never in my wildest dream could I imagine writing books about the American heroes.

Raised by professors, I’ve always loved reading. But writing was a dangerous career when I was growing up. As famous writers, my grandmother (the first Chinese woman to receive a master’s degree in the UK) and my aunt (she translated Peter Pan, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and other classics into Chinese) were wrongfully accused as Counter-Revolutionary Rightists. I had to choose science—a safer path. I received a PhD in molecular biology from University of Rochester. But fiction writing was beyond my dream.

When I wrote the books, my dream was to get them published. Writing fiction was hard, especially for someone using a second language and trained as a scientist. Accepted for publication by a traditional publisher was already a tall order; many writers give up such a dream. I pushed on.

I dreamed that my books would touch other people’s hearts as the story of the Flying Tigers touched mine. I did it—many people were moved by my stories; a number of them cried reading the novels, from a 9-year-old boy, to a middle-aged man, to a 90-year-old lady. My books were featured in over a dozen newspapers. Even the prestigious program like National Public Radio recognized my effort and did an interview. But how could I dream that my hard work and struggle would be rewarded and thanked for by the people so close to the Flying Tigers?

“Dream an unimaginable dream; touch people’s hearts, one heart at a time” is my new dream.

(1) 07/04/19

Starting a blog

I should have done this much earlier, ideally from the beginning of my writing journey. So many incredible positive things happened along the way. But it’s better late than never. I’ll start now, recording the big or the small marvels of life. Who knows, when I'm not busy, I’ll go back in time and report those positive past events that touched my heart.