YA Books

DID IT!!! Yes!!! After almost a year I finally finished my YA novel. It’s 378 pages (120,633 words.) While I want to do a happy dance I am completely exhausted. This might sound strange but creating a world and putting people in tough situations and killing them is emotionally draining. I have never felt this way while writing anything. Lets hope that’s a sign for GREATNESS! I will be taking a summer vacation from this story then: read it like I’ve never seen it, make edits, send to Beta readers, make more edits, send to agent who will want more edits, then…shop to some publishing houses (who will want more edits by the way.) Thank you for all your support with likes and comments! You helped me cross the finish line. P.S. When this story gets picked up by a publisher…I will be doing a happy dance with Champagne (not ice cream!)




When the battle for Saigon is lost, all American troops leave Vietnam. They also leave behind Tin, a Black Amerasian who is labeled a child of the enemy by the Communist Government. Tin is called a black dog and bui doi; dust of life. But Tin, who was raised by his grandmother, remembers her stories about a great love between his parents and the strong love that his American GI father had for him. Tin dreams of being reunited with his father on American soil. Tin meets Trung, Paul and Ellis, Amerasian’s with the same dream. Together they plan their escape enduring starvation, illness, and jail and all will risk death for a father they may never find.


Here is the first chapter of my YA novel: Children of the Dust.

Chapter 1

I think about dying, a lot. The only reason I haven’t killed myself is because no one would even know. Well, maybe Ms. Alexander would, but she doesn’t count. She has to know how many kids are eating a meal at the orphanage. And, maybe Dr. Sherman. But that’s only because my one leg is twisted like a juniper tree and it gets his attention. And my feet are always up to no good, itching and pussing because of this heat. My skin was not made for being in a wet, sticky oven, especially the Vietnamese kind.
Plus, my father would be dishonored if I killed myself. He lives far away but sends me letters. Soon he will take me to the best place on earth: The United States of America. Sometimes I close my eyes and see that beautiful flag, waving in the wind. It hangs off my father’s big front porch. That’s where he sits, drinking lemonade and writing me letters.
A shrill voice says, “tre bui doi” which makes me open my eyes. The dirt that is kicked in my face makes me close them. Wind dirt has a funny way of sticking to all body parts, even the parts that are covered.
“Black dog,” another yells and thrashes me with the stick he is holding. I cover up and ball myself into the ground, kind of like a coconut. But my outer shell is not hard. Then the one who is supposed to be a grown-up kicks me so hard in my behind that my butt hole takes a leap into my stomach. I feel like retching out my guts but that would show defeat. So I take the pain in silence.
“You are a dirty boy,” one screams.
“Your mother is a whore,” screams the other.
I know these voices. They are Vietnamese. And they hate me. I cannot blame them; I am a child of the enemy.

I have two bloods flowing through my veins: my Vietnamese mother and my American father. And I don’t know where I belong. I cannot be cut in half because they are not equal; I think that maybe I’m more like my father because I am a boy.
My hair is black, curly, and very big and sometimes twigs and leaves get stuck in there. My friend Nan helps me clean it up. My nose is wider and flatter than the other kids at the orphanage, even the kids with half-blood too. My eyes are not slanted at all; they are big and brown. And my skin is dark. And dark skin is not good; at least that’s what I’ve been told.
“Deep thinking again are you Tin?” Ms. Alexander says. She’s always walking fast because she has somewhere important to go. I am learning English but it’s hard so instead of embarrassing myself I give her a thumbs-up. That’s the American way of saying, “I’m cool.”
She gives me a wave and a smile then heads toward the road that leads to the Tan Son Nhat Air Base. The American soldiers always come to our orphanage to give us Coca-Cola, carry us on their shoulders, and play baseball. Although I try, my leg makes it hard for me to run. But they cheer me on anyway so I run, and fall, and run again.
“Did those boys beat you?” Nan asks as she walks toward the tree I’m under. Nan’s a friend that gets to leave the orphanage to work. She helps with farming the land that the orphanage owns. That’s how we get so many mangos, sweet potatoes, and coconuts.
“No,” I say fast.
She’s standing over me with her eyes pulled together, which is really hard to do when they are slanted.
“Well maybe.”
Again with the eyes. And now a hand hooked on her hip.
“Yes,” I say and bow my head.
Nan gathers herself together next to me, sitting on a tree root that is flat from being worn down.
“I told you to call out for help next time. I will help you.”
“I don’t want you to suffer too.”
Nan’s eyes, which always look so bright, became soft. “We are made to suffer. War makes us all suffer.”
I guess if it wasn’t for the war, we wouldn’t be in so much pain. But then I wouldn’t exist because my father would have had no reason to come here. And so, I really would be dead.
“I can see in your eyes you’re philosophizing again,” Nan says.

We heard that word from a black soldier who was talking about the fighting and the poverty and the food. The soldiers came to the orphanage to entertain us but two of them sat down on chairs, then more soldiers gathered around, and before you knew it they were entertaining each other. Nan and I just listened, thinking we were invisible, but that black soldier turned toward me and pointed.
“Ya’ll see. We leavin’ traces of ourselves everywhere, not just in that damn jungle.”

“Do you think I will meet my father one day?” I finally asked after much silence.
“Of course you will. Doesn’t he send you letters? Didn’t he say he will send money so you can go to America?”
“Then it will happen, Tin.”


Check out this PBS Documentary airing on April 28th.



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