Mummy!

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Happy International Women’s Day to my amazing mother, Helen. As a little girl, my mother was made fun of for being timid. She regretted not standing up for herself. So being the only child in the family, the only girl, the female, my mother taught me how to be strong and not let anyone, especially in the male dominating career world, to bully, tease or put me down. She told me that a girl, a female, a woman, whichever way you want to put it, can be just as strong and powerful as anyone despite of their status and background and achieve anything. My father taught and showed me strength from the outside, but my mother was the emotional backbone which holds me together. Without her courage and wisdom, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and doing what I love most on my own.

Happy International Women’s Day, Mummy!

Christmas ‘Tong Yuen’ 2018

Christmas is here, and for the Chinese a few days before Christmas Day, it’s Happy Solstice Day. During this time, many Chinese around the world would make rice balls, also known as tong yuen or tang yuan (in Chinese). You could say it’s like Thanksgiving for the Chinese people, an important tradition. The rice balls are made out of glutinous rice flour in the form of play dough, and they are made into many small round balls. Amongst the many small rice balls, a very few large ones are made where some of them have fillings in it such as crushed peanuts, black sesame and red beans. I’ve never been a fan of the ones with fillings. I’ve always preferred my rice balls plain and simple. Colourings are also added to make the rice balls look bright and colourful. Rice balls are always made with close friends and families together as it symbolizes the importance of closeness and bonding.

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Some Chinese are very peculiar about the ’roundness’ of the rice balls. They believe that the more ‘perfectly’ round the rice balls are, the stronger the closeness and bonding there is. Just like with my mother, she would always inspect the ’roundness’ of my rice balls. And if any of the rice balls are not as round as it should be, she would sigh loudly and re-rolled them until they were perfect to her, even if it meant re-rolling every single (200 plus) rice balls.

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Afterwards, the rice balls are boiled twice in boiling water. The first round is to give them a wash. And in the second and final round, rock sugars, ginger and pandan leaves (pandanus amaryllifolius) are added into the water to give it its final flavour. When it’s done, share and serve the rice balls in  small bowls. Those are the ingredients I would add to the ‘soup’ base, but there are also other flavourings used such as brown sugar or rice wine.

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I’ve written a couple of posts on Chinese rice balls which you can check out or even learn to make.

How to make Chinese Rice Balls

Chinese New Year 2014

The Story of Nian

Chinese Rice Balls

Happy Solstice Day!!!

Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang, Chloe Wong, Irene Soo, Lydiana ‘Wewe’ Siti and Phen.

A Late post – The wanderings of william whiptail

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The Wanderings of William Whiptail is a newly published children’s book by PUIYIN W.L. PUBLISHING authored and illustrated by Vivian Head and Biddy Lee. It is about a mouse who goes on a magical adventure across the English country to get to his Cousin Peanut. Even though it is a children’s book, it is also loved by adults as well. It has become a book loved by everyone.  

Imagine discovering that you had a magic suitcase. What wishes would you choose? William Whiptail had to think very carefully before using up his magic wishes because he needed all the help he could get to help him on his way to Trickle Wallop.

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How to self-publish a book? – by Emmanuel Nataf (Lesson 2) for Highbrow

Welcome back! Today’s lesson is all about writing a great book. It doesn’t have to be the greatest book ever written, but as long as it appeals to a certain audience enough for them to write a good review, or recommend to a friend, you will be well on your way to finding success.

In the self-publishing world, there are anomalies: objectively terrible books which sell plenty of copies simply because the author is a skilled marketer. But who in their right mind sets out to write a bad book? Not you, I’m sure 😉

I won’t bore you with a list of hard-and-fast rules for what constitutes a good book. That being said, I’d love to point out some common habits shared by the most prolific and successful writers:

Read a lot of books
A good book teaches you a lot about writing. Read every book that has enjoyed critical acclaim and popularity in your genre, and try to analyze what makes these books different. Pay attention to things like the story, plot structure, and characterization. Go back to your own draft and see if you can apply your learnings.

Make sure you have a plan
If you’re writing a novel, it’s often a good idea to “plot” your story beforehand. Chart how one event leads to another, which then causes a third thing to happen: you know, the story.

Diving into your first draft without a thoroughly developed structure will make it difficult to keep track of how your story progresses. When you’re dealing with tens of thousands of words, the last thing you want is to get overwhelmed and stop writing!

Know your audience
Are you writing for a young audience? For business professionals? Will they be fans of Dan Brown or Noam Chomsky? Knowing who your book is aimed at will not only help you choose the right tone and content, it will prove invaluable once you kick off your marketing efforts.

Give yourself deadlines
Do not get stuck in an endless loop of incessantly editing a chapter. We’re not saying that you should rush; merely suggesting you give your book the time it deserves by making sure you maintain a steady level of productivity. The National Novel Writing Month, where hundreds of participants write over 50,000 words in one month, is a perfect example of how clear goals and deadlines can do wonders for your writing process.

How to self-publish a book? – by Emmanuel Nataf (Lesson 1) for Highbrow

You’re the boss, and you’re responsible for everything.
So how common is self-publishing? More than you might imagine. In 2016, over 70% of all ebooks launched in the US were self-published. In addition, self-published titles accounted for 42% of Amazon ebook sales.
These statistics strongly suggest two things:
  • A lot of authors are self-publishing.
  • A lot fewer of them are generating sales.
So, how can an emerging independent author ensure their book stands out from the crowd?
Get ready to wear a lot of hats. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; or the double-edge sword, if you prefer. Self-publishing gives you the power to choose your own path: you aren’t beholden to any publishers or book marketers, only yourself. However with this power also comes responsibility: you will be responsible for doing everything a traditional publisher does for one of their authors.
Once you’ve written your fantastic book, you will slap on your commissioning editor’s hat as you ensure your book is adequately edited and proofread. Once that’s complete, you will pop on your Art Director’s cap and ensure that your book is well-design. And through it all, you will also be turning yourself into a book-marketing machine. Do you have to do this all by yourself? Absolutely not.
Over the course of these lessons, you find out what it takes to successfully self-publish a book. Not only will you get a overarching view of the process, you will learn which parts of self-publishing can be handled inexpensively by the author, and which parts will demand the attention of a professional.
Nobody likes the idea of having to spend more money than they have to. But if you are serious about getting people to read your work, you cannot afford to publish an amateurish product. With that in mind, tomorrow’s lesson will cover the most unavoidable requirement of self-publishing success: writing a great book!

Review – Who We Were

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A late post from late last year. Who We Were has achieved a five-star review by Readers’ Favorite.

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite.

“Who We Were by Puiyin Labial is a story about destiny and the incredible truth that people could be bound together by threads that are mysterious and intangible. With an international setting in China and the US, the reader follows the lives of two compelling characters, a young boy and girl who feel a powerful attraction for each other, an affection that is foiled by insane family traditions. They will meet again in high school, this time in the US, and feel irresistibly drawn to each other. But their attraction is hindered once more. As adults, Jace and Melodi meet again, this time each successfully pursuing their professions. Are they bound to be together or are these mere coincidences? They will learn the truth after a painful tragedy. Will they be able to stick together this one last time?

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the reader-friendly writing — simple, crisp, and fluid. From the start, the reader will appreciate the realism that is injected into the writing. The characters are well developed with solid backgrounds. The author did a great job in integrating the backgrounds of the key characters into the narrative, with Melodi excelling as a writer and Jace devoted to his career as a doctor. The story is cleverly plotted, leaving the reader with so much guessing to do. I quickly learned to care about these characters from the very beginning and couldn’t help having the feeling of a strange familiarity with them. Who We Were is a beautiful story that reminds readers that we know more than we are often aware of, and that our connections could go beyond our dreams and expectations. Puiyin Labial weaves strong themes like love, family, and human connections seamlessly into a story that is gripping and real.”