The Strength of Water: Adventures in Book Cover Design and Interior Layout

I am enjoying working with Balestier Press on my book's interior layout and with their contract artist, Andre D’Rozario, on the cover. The Strength of Water is starting to feel real! Here I share a bit about the process. The book is the story of my mother's Chinese American odyssey, so for the cover, I …

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He Will Fit Wings to the Chinese Dragon — How An Oakland Engineer Became the Father of Chinese Aviation

This week's Asian American history adventure was to the Oakland Aviation Museum, a small gem of a museum near the Oakland Airport. In an age when flight is often undignified with body scans, cramped seats, and peanut snacks, the museum recalls the wonder and exhilaration of early flight. You sense the giddiness of first realizing …

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Eastwind Books: A Labor of Love for the Asian American Literary Community

This month's literary adventure was an afternoon of book shopping at Eastwind Books, a beacon of the Asian American literary community, where I picked up Cathy Park Hong’s bestselling memoir and work of cultural criticism, Minor Feelings. Eastwind Books is Beatrice and Harvey Dong’s labor of love for the Asian American and ethnic literary community. Founded in …

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How Can We Invite Everyone Into Our World? Review of Final Bow For Yellowface

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching the Oakland Ballet Company (OBC) rehearse for their production of Dancing Moons Festival at the studio where I teach. Dancing Moons was Oakland Ballet’s response to the rise in anti-Asian bigotry and violence, celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) choreographers and musicians. To create this program, OBC Artistic …

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Surprising Asian American Hero From 1940: A Review of The Phantom of Chinatown

My recent trip to the Formosa Cafe inspired me to watch the 1940 film “Phantom of Chinatown,” starring Keye Luke and Lotus Long. I wanted to see how American cinema portrayed Asian Americans at the time. The short answer is it’s complicated. In Phantom of Chinatown, Keye Luke stars as Detective Jimmy Wong, brought in …

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Honoring the Stories of our Loved Ones on Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Day

Today’s literary adventure is a symbolic one in honor of Qingming Festival, called Tomb Sweeping Day in English. In China, this is a three-day holiday to honor one’s ancestors dating back 2500 years to the Zhou Dynasty. Families visit the tombs and graves of their ancestors to sweep them clean, pay respects, and honor memories. …

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Meet Me at the Formosa: A Chinese American Hollywood History Adventure

This week's Asian American history adventure is a visit to the Formosa Cafe, a Chinese American fusion cafe and bar in West Hollywood, which first opened in 1939. Located across from the then Samuel Goldwyn studio, stars like Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, John Wayne, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley regularly popped …

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How I Survived My Debut Book Publishing Journey at 55 Years Old

Forty-two – it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything[i]. It’s also my new lucky number -- the number of queries I wrote before signing a book publishing contract. Most Hero's Journeys start with a starry-eyed protagonist like Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, or Luke Skywalker, but mine starts as a 55-year-old dance instructor with …

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Book Review: More Than One Child, Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter

For the Lunar New Year month, I am reading books by Asian authors. First up is More Than One Child: Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter by Shen Yang. It tells of the author's life growing up in 1990s China as an "excess child" during its One-Child-Policy years.Between 1980-2015, the government implemented the One-Child-Policy out of …

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How Mom Celebrated Lunar New Year in the 1930s in Guangdong Province, China

Lunar New Year is upon us! On February 1st, we enter Year of the Tiger. My mother, Yee King Ying, grew up in the village of Tai Ting Pong (Dajingbang in Mandarin), Guangdong Province, in the 1930s. This is how she recalls celebrating. Spring festival was a chance to clear away the old and outworn …

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