Happy Birthday, Blog!

Ngauhyat: birthday Many Chinese characters can be broken into smaller parts. The word "birthday" (??) can be simplified into ngauhyat (??). My blog just turned one! (April 5th marked the anniversary of my first post.) Even though ngauhyat means "cow" and "one" when taken separately, I hope it still proves to be an auspicious occasion.A popular Chinese tradition held at one-year-old parties is to surround the birthday child with different items. These things represent their possible futures. Here … [Read more...]

The Marshmallow Tree and Other April’s Fool Jokes

Jadai: to pretendDuring the last years of the Chin dynasty (around 211 B.C.), people suffered under a tyrannical government. A warrior named Hohng Yuh rose up and rebelled against the emperor. To get more followers to join him, he appointed a noble from the state of Cho as king. Hohng Yuh's army grew stronger and defeated the government. However, Hohng Yuh learned that he had made a poor choice in the noble he had selected. Hohng Yuh drowned him by sinking his ship while he was crossing a river. … [Read more...]

Look Again: Reviewing the Submissions Process

Yat Batjouh, Yih Batyau: to do something by hook or by crook; to not stop halfwayYes, that's me hiking in Montserrat, Spain.I'm excited to announce the publication of my flash fiction piece, "Look Again," in the March issue of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. Part of my enthusiasm comes from finally feeling validated as a writer. Here's a parallel example that explains my thinking: When I did math problems at school, I always double-checked my answers. If I ended up with the same solution twice, I … [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...]

Lunar New Year Feasting

Sihk Gau Daaih Gwai: to have a rich meal like a kingIn Ancient China, the number of dishes served to a person during a meal signified their social ranking. The emperor received nine, while feudal kings got seven dishes. A nobleman ate five dishes, officials three, and ordinary people only two. In those days, people also used vessels called gwai to hold their food; most of these containers were made of wood, although some were created from bronze or bamboo.  Happy lunar new year! Yesterday was … [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...]

To Go or Not? A Writers’ Conference Dilemma

Louhsyu Laaigwai --> Mouhdehng Maaihsau: don't know how to startIn Chinese language, there exists a verbal riddle known as the enigmatic parallelism.  A hungry rat (louhsyu) tries to bite a tortoise (gwai)--without success when the tortoise hides in its shell.  This image of the rat trying to pull out the tortoise demonstrates the phrase's meaning of not knowing how to begin.I'm not sure where to start in terms of writers' conferences.  According to this post called "The Writers Conference … [Read more...]

The Author Bio

Goudau: proud of oneself, looking down on othersDuring the Eastern Han dynasty, there lived a famous scholar named Chahn Dang who served his country and helped the people.  Once he received a visit from a man that he despised and considered vulgar.  Dang ended up sleeping on a high bed while making the guest use a low bed.  After that incident, godau ("high place") held the alternative meaning of "proud."Last week during my writers' group meeting, one of the members mentioned the importance of … [Read more...]