Wool on The NYT List

Yauh Fansou: to know what to do and how to do itWheelwright Bin saw Duke Wuhn of the state of Chaih (?-643 B.C.) studying one day. Wheelwright Bin argued that the book would not be helpful to the duke, saying, "I'm a wheelmaker and I'll take this as an example. When I'm making a wheel, I know it will not be any good if I do it too fast or too slow. I understand how to do it well by myself. As for the art (fansou) of wheel-making, I've got it all in my mind, but I just can't explain it. It's hard … [Read more...]

Round 2 with Amazon

Wan Kaausaan: to find a powerful man to back you upChinese people choose to live in places with the best fengshui. When they build a house, they locate it on the southern slope of a hill, which serves to block off the chilly north wind. Having a hill also provides a sense of security; by extension, a powerful person that backs you up is known as a kaausaan.What more powerful person company exists than Amazon? I'm excited to announce that I made it to the second rounds of the Amazon Breakthrough … [Read more...]

On Choosing E-books

Sihk Mouhchihnggai: to be fired (lit. eat feelingless chicken)During the 1950s and 1960s, several hundred thousand refugees fled to Hong Kong from mainland China. Those who found jobs would rely on their employers to provide food and lodging to them. Every year on the second day of the Chinese New Year (this year, it starts on February 10, 2013), shopkeepers would invite employees to have a Hoi Nihn ("beginning of the year") meal. If an employee was given a chicken's head by his boss, it meant … [Read more...]

Application Denied

Wahtdaht: ugly, awful in appearanceOriginally the wonton dumpling was called "wahtdaht" or "wahn deuhn." There is a mythical story about the  youngest son of the emperor in heaven. He was called Wahn Deuhn and had no eyes, ears, mouth, or nose. Two of his friends decided to erase his ugliness by digging holes in his face. They finished in seven days, and Wahn Deuhn finally had the face of a human being. Unfortunately, he also suddenly died.  The xiaolongbao dumpling. Not ugly and extremely … [Read more...]

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Msai Mahn A-Gwai: no need to ask about it, a known secretPak Gwai was a leader who ruled Gwongdung province in the last years of the Ching dynasty. There was one official above him, the governor of both Gwongdung and Gwongsai province. Whenever inferiors wanted instruction, they went above A-Gwai's head and asked the governor of the two provinces for help.Known secrets.Everyone has heard of Amazon.com, and most people (especially writers) know about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). … [Read more...]

When Do You Call Yourself a Writer?

Louhcheut Mahgeuk: to reveal one's secret or fault (lit. to expose Mah's feet)The queen of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1328-1399) was surnamed Mah. Once, she was riding by on her sedan chair when a gust of wind blew aside the carriage's curtain. Everyone on the street could see that her feet were not bound, a daring break in the typical foot binding tradition for rich women.Sometimes I'm afraid of exposing my own faults. When confronted with a blank line for my occupation on a  … [Read more...]

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Cheuiguk: to quickly strengthen a man's or an animal's capacity to workIn The Book of Songs, it talks about how the king's horses are typically fed with grass. However, in times of war, they are given grain (guk) to stimulate (cheui) their energy in a short amount of time.I was recently given the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Romelle Broas (thank you!), which motivates me to move forward with my writing and blogging. In response, I'll be nominating seven inspiring blogs that I know … [Read more...]

Writing Highlights from 2012

Deihseui: blind manIn Gwongdung province, there is a folk song called "Deihseui naahmyam." Deihseui refers to a blind (man) musician. In ancient times, almost all music masters were blind men.Music, the life of celebrations.Instead of a Christmas letter, I usually send out a New Year's mailing. This is mostly due to procrastination, but I also like reviewing the whole calendar year before I write to family and friends. Oftentimes, though, I feel like a blind man, not knowing what to put down on … [Read more...]

Wanted: Guest Blogger

Jouhdung: to play hostDung stands for the abbreviated version of "dungjyu," or "host of the east." In the story of Jo Jyuhn, a commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals, the state of Jehng was about to be attacked. Jehng's king sent an envoy to persuade his enemies to stop. He argued that it would be better for Jehng to remain unscathed. Then, in the future, Jehng could act as a "host to receive your envoys when they travel eastwards and you won't suffer any loss." After receiving the message, … [Read more...]

A Writer’s Real Gold

Jyuyihsing: jewelry made from pretend goldAbout one hundred years ago, a goldsmith's shop called Jyu Yih Sing made gold-plated jewelry.  It grew in popularity because its merchandise glittered like real gold and did not change in color.  The business eventually expanded to six branches with nine thousand employees. What's like real gold for a writer?  His or her brand.Robert Lee Brewer talks about the benefits of creating a slogan.  I've also been reading Rob Eagar's book called Sell Your Book … [Read more...]