HKFP: Hongkongers’ lack of sovereignty does not equal lack of dignity

"But our position of weakness is not an inherent failure of the Hong Kong people, but a failure of the system we inherited – a failure of history because the British did not give Hong Kong independence after World War II, like the rest of Asia, when China was weak and embroiled in a civil war.

Our lack of sovereingty and our position of weakness does not equate to a lack of dignity."

Article: Yan Sham-Shackleton

Thoughts on Cooking...

Thoughts on Cooking…

Cooking has always been a pleasure for me. Preparing and putting the different ingredients together, waiting for it to heat or cool, then eating. 

Often cooking your own food tastes better than the bought version especially when it came to baking, and I enjoyed the process of experimenting and adjusting. I also loved making other people happy. I especially felt that way, when my son was young, and I would make something for his class, for snack or birthdays.

But there was another level to why I cooked, there was something bigger.  In the back of my mind, I thought when I cooked I wasn’t buying something, someone else’s recipes, someone else’s tastes, someone else’s ingredients—which I didn’t know what it  consisted off—on top which were packed by a of a lot of plastic waste.

But I’ve never sat down and thought about it too much, it was just a sense I had. So when I read this excerpt from Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” it was a revelation to me. Not only it wasn’t just me who had the these ideas, there were indeed something socio-economic and philosophical behind those feelings I had. 

Since I read this, I have started to make my own bread, which I found to be possible, and with focaccia, even easy. 

The next step will be making my own soap and shampoo, without the plastic bottles, without palm oil, as my son and I are very concerned for the primates territories palm plantations take over. It’s been something that we’ve struggled with for years, having a hard time finding alternatives that we liked, but with making our own, we might have found the solution. 

To cook or not to cook thus becomes a consequential question. Though I realize that is putting the matter a bit too bluntly. Cooking means different things to different people; seldom is it an all-or-nothing proposition. Yet even to cook a few more nights a week than you already to, or devote a Sunday to making a few meals for the week, or perhaps to try ever now and again to make something you only ever expected to buy–even these modest acts will constitute a kind of a vote. A vote for what exactly? Well, in a world where so few are obliged to cook anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization–against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?) It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we’re at home, production work is best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.” 

Cooking has the power to transform more than plants and animals” It transforms us, too, from mere consumers into producers. Not completely, not all the time, but I found that even to shift the ratio between these two identities a few degrees towards the side of production yields deep and unexpected satisfactions…… 

In the calculus of economics, [cooking] may not always be the most efficient use of an amateurs cook’s time, but in the calculus of human emotion, it is beautiful even so. For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for the people you love? 


Original article 

Researching Literary Agents... such a long process.


Today, I decided to look at a few literary agents, thinking that if I prepare a few people to send the manuscript to, it would streamline the process more. What it ended up being was endeavor that took up a lot of time, and made me realize how complex finding an agent really is.

There are people that looked promising when you read their blurb, but as you look at the clients they have, it’s possible that it’s not a good fit. They have a lot of social influencers as clients, or writers that haven’t done that well, or they say they are interested in books about “interesting places” but seems to mean, only in the UK. There is a question of whether these agents are looking for something different to what I can offer, or looking for something different from their existing clients, and whether they have the right contacts for what I want, and in fact, what are they?

Of course, the end of the day, there is no saying that the person would be interested in the first place. This reminds me of when I started submitting to literary magazines, and people kept saying you should read a copy to learn what the editors likes. Then after reading a large number of them, I could see some of the publications had different styles, but it still gave me no indication which piece of mine they might publish. In fact, often the answer was, I didn’t think an Asian female voice had any place. But then it didn’t mean they wouldn’t happen to just like what I wrote.

I sent my stories in anyway, having no clearer idea whether I had a chance with the said magazine at all. The better indication it turned out, was if the editor was a woman. With the exception of one, I have yet to be published in a literary magazine where a man is the chief editor.

So, there we go, finding a literary agent has a lot to do with luck. We can research and do the best we can to find the right fit, but there is no knowing at all. There are just so many variables. Are they good? Do they have the right contacts? Do they even care to have a new client?

I thought it would help me to feel more in control by researching agents, but actually its just shown me how much longer the process of getting published will be.

Nearly finishing the novel.....



Going to put all the political awakening story into one place and then write it as one short story, then separate it back into the different sections on the book. That should give it a unity. 

Thinking of reading through my political awakening in Glutter too, I suppose that is what it is in real time, albeit not in 1997. Thats what part of the book is about right? I hate reading things from that time. I don’t even know why. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of it, or think it’s badly written, just don’t like thinking about how so many people read my private thoughts I suppose. I don’t know… 

Still struggling with the way my book is chaptered, mainly it’s a lot of work every time I move something around or add another chapter, and I already have one change I need to make. But it’s just how the book is set up. 

The amount of time I’ve spent just formatting the book is ridiculous. It might not be my job in the end and it will be taken over by someone else and end up not the way I want. 

Split part 3 back into part 3 and 4. I’m always changing things. I still like my book, although the very short chapters which I liked makes it seem too simplistic now. 

I still need to rewrite some more chapters, especially in part 3…. But it’s so close now. I can see the ending. Although frustrated at the amount of work I still need to put in. I wish it was a little closer to finish to be honest. 

I’m looking forward to sending it out. 

Developing Political Awakening in Novel


The book is well on the way to being finished. I’ve sent the first part to the editor to clean up the English. The original story is done, I’ve been surprised by how little I need to rewrite for the majority of the book.

What I’m stuck on is the political awakening of the character. Although that was part of my goal when I wrote the book, I didn’t develop that part at all. I focused mainly on the story and it was never made explicit. I realized that the book desperately needs that Renee’s political development, especially when she grows up to be so aware for the follow up book. All the scenes regarding such a change is not ready, and only sketches.

It’s been stressing me out a lot. Like the book will never be finished, and that this is part, which maybe the most important part will look childish and undeveloped.

Today though, as I sat down with my Los Feliz Writer’s Group, albeit remotely, I realized that consider the amount of time I spent writing the love story, the friendships, I haven’t spent a fraction of time thinking of Renee’s internal development in terms of her political view.

There is a part of me that thinks it’s obvious, or overly sentimental and afraid to write it. But I suppose it just takes the work and time to do that and if I put in the time, it won’t come of as too pedantic.

I feel that I am still far off from able to get it done, but at least, I feel today I took more control of the situation, it’s a step in the right direction, instead of this constant blur in the corner of my mind that I am stressing about.

Sunny Skies Kitchen...

Yesterday I made this awesome but very easy chicken drum stick. I wrote it up on Sunny Skies Kitchen, and really that's my hope for this blog, that some place for myself and others who need to find something to cook without thinking too hard. Before I would make this recipe and forget about it in a week or two and never make it again. There are recipes of my mother's who I ask her for the recipe and promptly lose it and have to ask her for it again and again... or something I learnt at a friend's but can't remember how to make. So hopefully, I'll get it together and put everything here so that I'll always have a place to come to.

Elk and Tarragon or Cilantro Meat Balls + Pasta & Caramelized Onions.

One of the things I had to stop doing because I got sick for a few years was my food blog. Well I'm working on it again! 

This is my new recipe. It was really good. 

New Website

I recently asked my friend #madeofwaterhk to help me make a business card. He then proceeded to tell me that my web strategy was wrong, and I shouldn't have my old blog and my new website in the same place and with the same URL. I said to him by having professional friends it makes things so complicated, and he retorted that the reason for that is my site was convoluted to begin with. Ha Ha. 

Once he explained it to me, I knew he was right. 

I have some other opportunities that have appeared, and I realized that I have sent this link to all of them, and probably need to do a new one. 

So here we go:  www.YanShamS


The way forward for a ‘humbly listening’ Hong Kong gov’t: an inquiry and amnesty for both sides.

Unsure of what defined a police state, I researched the answer. It seems there isn’t an agreed checklist or a threshold upon which a territory becomes a police state. The general agreement is that it is a place in which its government relies on the police to rule, rather than exercising its power through legal and political means – instead, using law enforcement, or secret police to stifle the opposition’s opinions and actions.

Refusing to approve planned peaceful protests, or tear-gassing demonstrations during sanctioned gatherings, ignoring acts of police brutality – as the Hong Kong government and police top brass have done – are undoubtedly indicative of a police state.

Refusing to approve planned peaceful protests, or tear-gassing demonstrations during sanctioned gatherings, ignoring acts of police brutality – as the Hong Kong government and police top brass have done – are undoubtedly indicative of a police state.

In a secretly taped recording of a closed-door meeting with business people, published by Reuters, Lam admitted that “all she has is the police” and, in fact, her government was “the weakest link.” In this confession, abdicating responsibility to govern and admitting that she relies on the police to maintain legitimacy is a policy that unquestionably contributes to, or indeed makes Hong Kong a police state.

In fact, police have taken on the role many militaries have historically filled in dictatorships across the world. As author Gerry Spence wrote in his book “Police State“: “… when the police become the military, then the people become the enemy.”



Fiction: Once, I Saw an Elephant.

We stood at the taxi stand before day-break as the lower part of the sky began to lighten. As the white mist burnt away, the buildings across the harbor began to show themselves as night became day. The sounds of early morning surrounded us—the sparse whoosh of passing cars with long intervals in-between. The beeping of rubbish trucks as they backed towards the rubbish bins. The rustle of newspapers as the men who ran the newsstands assembled and folded them up.

I rested on Tai-Men’s shoulders as we stood at the front of the taxi line. The morning air made us shiver even if it wasn’t that cold. The heat from the club had saturated us through the hours of dancing until dawn. We didn’t speak. In our silence we shared the knowledge that we must be home before our parents woke up so they didn’t discover we had snuck out the night before.

The other tightly packed bars and clubs began to close as well, and the patrons spilled out and headed towards the taxi queue as well. Most of them were western men, wearing crumpled collared shirts. They looked like a blur of thinning hair, punch stomachs, and wrinkles deepened by a night of drinking. Young Filipino women, attired provocatively, accompanied some them. Those men I knew, were the same men we saw in the business districts wearing suits and respectability, or playing tennis at the LRC exposing their rarefied existence in the last British colony of Hong Kong. My boyfriend and I, happened to be there because police didn’t like raves, so clandestine promoters held them at the red light district where the bar owners and the police had an understanding—the former not being too open with their girls, while the latter didn’t look too hard— and in-between DJs and electronic music slipped unobtrusively in the middle of it all.

“Don’t move,” I said to Tai-Men. “Don’t speak.” I slid behind him and turned him towards me, so his back faced the end of the queue.

“What’s going on?” he whispered. I furtively glanced behind him, and he quickly figured out we needed to hide from someone. “Who is it?”


Read More @ Five on the Fifth

Door - A Short Story.

“Door” is an excerpt from a trilogy of novels set in Hong Kong. The novels span the 50 years between the regime change between Britain and China in 1997 and when Hong Kong becomes fully integrated into the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian state. This story is set in today’s Hong Kong Resistance which started in June 2019 and continues to the present.”


"The next morning, I called someone to fix the door. An old sifu, with two young men arrived.

“I’ve been fixing a lot of doors,” the man said, with resignation in his voice. “There are so many doors being broken these days.”

I nodded at him, understanding his coded message. He knew.

After putting in the new door, I asked him how much. He pushed my wallet towards me. “Ng sai bei chin,” he said.

I insisted, at least let me pay for the door, even if he didn’t let me pay for his services. He said again, “No need to pay.” I took out some cash, and tried to tip the young men who helped him.

They both shook their heads. As they started to leave, one of the young men looked around as if wary someone might hear. When he saw no one, he spoke to me.

“Gwon fok Heung Kong,” he said. “Liberate Hong Kong.”"


Full Story. 

"Right Place, Right Time." We've been working towards this movement for a Long Time

After my acceptance with Cultural Weekly, and a request for a novel excerpt, plus the column in Hong Kong Free Press, my friend and I agreed I was in the "right place, right time" for people to be interested in my work.

I know that.

I know that without what is happening in Hong Kong, the story I was telling in the first novel of the trilogy, was a story from a long time ago, and lots of people are too young to remember, and those who weren't have forgotten. All I could hope for was at the 25th anniversary of the regime change from Britain to China of Hong Kong in 3 years, a peek of interest may develop. 

But that was my story I wanted to tell. 

I continued to tell the story until 2047, when Hong Kong was due to be integrated completely into the CCP's totalitarian regime. My vision of that has mirrored the events of the Resistance. In fact, I coined "The Resistance" in my novel before people in Hong Kong called it that themselves. 

Which is the reason, that I have a pool of work to send to literary magazines, and the experience to comment on the current political situation. This is not just from being from Hong Kong. I could be from Hong Kong and writing pointless love stories set in bars and clubs, which in fact I have some, which no one is interested in. 

I've started writing about Hong Kong democracy in 2003, worked on my novel for four years, and my short stories for two. 

It took a lot of work to get to this right place. 

No matter, how much it is hurtful that Hong Kong is where it is at. We needed to do this because if we didn't we would have never told the world that we do not want to lose our freedoms, and that we would have shown the world we were not brave enough to fight for it. 

It's not just me, lots of people have quietly been working towards this moment and movement.

People making indie publications, podcasts and streaming channels, creating organizations, and practicing their art. Learning about democracy and freedoms and cultivating their personal development of political commitment. Writing papers about Hong Kong. Garnering seats for the pan-democrats. I could go on and on about each individual's contribution to the cause. 

The Resistance didn't explode from nowhere. I didn't start suddenly writing about Hong Kong politics. Claudio Mo didn't just start speaking in LEGCO. Agnes Lee didn't win a court case without attempting to run. We wouldn't have the slogan "Reclaim Hong Kong. Revolution of Our Times," if Edward Leung didn't shout it first.

There has been a system building in our city for a long while. It took a lot of work for us to get to the right place, and create the right time. 

#AmWriting. #Hong Kong Protests 


A request for novel excerpt!!!


I've been working on my Hong Kong trilogy of novels for about four years, writing short stories and submitting them for two, and recently picked up writing about Hong Kong again, which I started 16 years ago.

This is one of the top literary magazine in the US, and I thought I would never get in, and I sent my piece in just because I had 15 minutes of my life to do it.

Dear Yan,

Thanks so much for sending us this story. While we've ultimately decided against publishing "Abandon," I've found much to admire in your writing, and I hope that you'll send more in the future. Cutbank would be especially interested in publishing work that dealt with Hong Kong's current struggles, as well as the history leading up to them. If you have a novel excerpt that would function as a stand-alone piece, an essay, or a short story, please send them our way; we'd love to read your perspective in any genre.

All the best,