It is that wonderful time of year again (no not Christmas) where I wish my blog a Happy Anniversary. Seven years ago around this time, I started my blog. I remember feeling timid and scared. What would bloggers think about my writing? What can I even write about? What if the blog is a failure? What if I make an embarrassment of myself? Even though these thoughts were flying in my head, I still knew I had to give it a go. If it didn’t work out for me, then so be it. And so, I wrote my very first blog post. It was about the London 2012 Paralympics and how it gave me inspiration and hope for my son. Once it was posted, I didn’t know what to expect. How would I know bloggers were going to read it? Or how would I know if it was a failure? Few minutes later, I had my answer. Bloggers began to like my post. It wasn’t a huge traffic, but still, it meant something to me. People were actually reading my blog. And from then onwards, it did not stop. There have been a few bloggers who have become my genuine online blogger/author friends since the beginning till this day. So as a little celebration, I would like to share with you some memorable posts.
Chinese Rice Balls
Yes, the famous Chinese Rice Balls post. I’d even posted a few posts on it, including one on how to make them. I have a friend in Malaysia who always made them in glorious colours which inspired me to have mines coloured, although not as glorious looking as hers.
Blogger of the Year 2013
I received Blogger of the Year 2013 not long after launching my blog. It was such an honour. As a writer, author, blogger, I always want to remain humble about what I write. I didn’t want to make this blog a ‘business’ or ‘work’ place. I wanted bloggers to see the real me. The blog is where I make mistakes and not have to worry about sounding commercial. It is a place for me to be ME. I especially love it when bloggers reach out to me with their thoughts about anything and everything. So feel free to reach out.
A Chinese Christmas Carol
A Chinese Christmas Carol was my very first published book. Back then long before I launched my publishing house, I did quite a few posts on the book. There were many topics I could write about regarding the book, like its background story and characters, which allowed me to draw away from the book itself. The plot of the story is a sad one, and it was inspired by a true story. There were times when I found some ‘things’ hard to write, but I still wanted to let it out. And best of all, I had the support of the bloggers. So thank you. Little did I know that I would later on decide to bring out a new edition to the book and turn it into a series.
I studied art and design at university, and one of the projects I had to do was to come up with a creative gift to give to a favourite person. Back then, Amy came to mind when I was given the project. At first, it took me a while to come up with a creative gift, and the chocolate idea was last minute when I saw an empty chocolate container laying on my bedroom floor. The chocolates were made into shapes/items that symbolizes the connection in life I had with Amy. In the end, it only took me one night to make my ‘chocolates’ out of play dough and have it painted with brown acrylic. When I had to present it to the entire class, most were impressed by my idea. Some even told me that they had wanted to ‘steal’ and eat the ‘chocolates’.
Who We Were
Who We Were is my first book that was launched at the same time as the publishing house. It was supposed to be a stand alone book to begin with. Then shortly after it was published, I had friends, family and some fans asking if there was going to be a sequel. After much thought, I decided to make it a trilogy before later making it into a five-book series. When I sent the book for review, I didn’t expect much as I didn’t want to be disappointed. Two weeks later, I received the five-star review. No words could describe how I felt.
Blogging101 – My Sexy People
Blogging101 was an online blogging university to help bloggers blog and engage better with one another by completing one blogging task a day for a short period of time. I found the tasks enjoyable and always looked forward to the next. On my third task (day 3), I had to engage with other bloggers by selecting a few and describing their blogs. I then had to follow back a few other bloggers and explain the reason why I chose them. It was a very engaging task which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I had even made a few blogger friends along the way. Sadly, Blogging101 had to shut down.
So I have presented some of my memorable and favourite posts, although all my posts are my favourite. I look forward to the next anniversary with more memorable posts to share.
I would like to introduce my ‘old’ homeboy Malaysian friend, Mr Kelvyn Yeang (yes, the one with the funky red hair in the video). I met Kelvyn way back in the fall of 2002 when I went back to Penang, Malaysia to spend a year there. I had enrolled into an art college, and Kelvyn was amongst the first few I befriended. He was friendly, approachable, funny and full of energy. He could have had his own stand-up comedy. But he did not have the funky red hair that he has today. I even found out he was my neighbour in the tall two-block apartment we were living in.
One evening, I woke up from a nap with a heavily bleeding ear. I forgot whether it was the left or right ear. I immediately became scared. I was alone in my apartment. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. And then I thought of Kelvyn. He was the closest person to contact as he was my neighbour. I didn’t know whether he was home, but I took the chance. So I called him on my mobile. I started crying and blurted out, “Help, I have a bleeding ear,” through heavy tears. Sounding concerned, Kelvyn told me he wasn’t home but to go straight to his place where his mother, sister and girlfriend (whom is now his wife) would help me. Without wasting another second, I hung up and rushed to his place. When I got there, the family tried to figure out what was causing the bleeding. In the end, they saw that an insect of some kind had crawled into my ear and bit me…before it died deep inside. Nice. The family was concerned, and so, they decided to take me to the hospital. We had just driven past the main gate of the apartment when we saw Kelvyn. Meanwhile at this point, everything was a blur to me. I was thinking of the worse. What if the doctor couldn’t get the insect out? What is I got infected and die? I only remember seeing Kelvyn looking at me through the rolled down window of the car I was in with worry on his face before driving off. At the hospital, the doctor managed to get the unknown insect out and got me treated. By this time, I felt like my normal self again. After that, I was taken to rest on a bed. Kelvyn then arrived unexpectedly at the hospital. The worried expression remained on his face. He then asked the family if he could speak to me privately. I was confused. That was when he asked if anyone had physically hurt me. I said no, stunned by his question. But I understood where he was getting at. I convinced him I wasn’t hurt by anyone. But the worried expression on his face remained. Kelvyn then asked if I wanted to call a family member, and so I asked him to call my uncle and aunt. When they arrived, Kelvyn continued to remain by my side. I was discharged at around midnight. Kelvyn and his family paid the hospital bill for me and took me home. They took me back to their place where they insisted on me to have some food, but I wasn’t hungry. I just had a small carton of whole milk. After then, Kelvyn and his sister walked me back to my place. That was the night of my life. And that is Kelvyn for you. His kindness did not stop there. He was there for others. He would put his needs before others.
Besides being an art student, Kelvyn had bigger dreams. He wanted to become a musician, a rock guitarist. Anyone can have dreams. But acting upon them is another. I remember Kelvyn inviting me and some of us college friends to his apartment and he would play his guitar and share his music with us. I could tell his passion through the mistakes and broken chords he made along the way and never giving up. It was like he was sharing his written stories through his music with us. I was never into rock music, and I am the kind of person who was hard to ‘convince’ to approve of something that I was not fond of. But when I heard Kelyvn’s music, it changed my perspective. It wasn’t the music that got my attention, but the way it was played. Kevlyn’s way. Today, I would say Kelvyn is a well known local artist in Malaysia. He’s in a band and often attends music festivals around Asia. His music has broadend, and the video above is one of my many favourites. Even with his popularity, he has managed to remain the humble old kelvyn I know from many years ago.
The reason why I wanted to write a post on Kelvyn is because not only do I want his music to be even more well known, but to also let people out there know that when you are supporting him, not only would you be supporting his music, you are also supporting a humble friend with a honest heart, no matter how famous he becomes, and that is rare. Keep dreaming even bigger and brighter, my dear friend.
Greatly inspired by the creative works of R.L. Stine, Residential Stories will be a series of ‘stories’ set in Penang, Malaysia. www.puiyinwlpublishing.com/residentialstories
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 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.
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.
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.
I’ve written a couple of posts on Chinese rice balls which you can check out or even learn to make.
Happy Solstice Day!!!
Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang, Chloe Wong, Irene Soo, Lydiana ‘Wewe’ Siti and Phen.
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.”