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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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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How the Autumn Moon Festival Offers an Ancient Tradition, Delicious Dessert, and a Touch of Magic

What if you could learn about an ancient tradition, enjoy a delicious dessert, and turn an ordinary evening into a fairytale? You can with the Autumn Moon Festival, a holiday born of legend. It traditionally falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month or mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar. In …

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Hiking the Donner Pass Train Tunnels, a Triumph and Tragedy of Immigrant Grit

Maybe you're seeking respite from the summer heat. Maybe you'd like to pretend you're in the Halls of Moria in the Lord of the Rings. Or maybe you want to hike through miles of graffiti art. Whatever your reason for coming, the Donner Pass Train Tunnels near Truckee, California, offer a fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking …

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How CHSA Works to Combat Racism and Violence Through Soft Power

It’s Asian Heritage Month, and the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) in San Francisco is finally able to reopen at 50% capacity. To celebrate, CHSA is hosting a community event this Saturday, May 29th, from 8 to 10:30 pm. The event is a chance to view the exhibition Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion and see the …

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Don’t Let Anyone Sow Division Between the Races

These days, headlines are filled with stories of anti-Asian violence and harassment. One video that particularly affected me was of an attack on a 65-year-old Filipino Woman near Times Square, where security guards standing within feet of her failed to intervene while a man kicked and stomped on her, yelling, “You don’t belong here.”Subsequently, Andrew …

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Why I’ll Celebrate Lunar New Year by Helping Chinatown

The pandemic has devastated the San Francisco and Oakland Chinatowns, leaving them with much less tourism and foot traffic. That’s why this year, I am dedicating the lunar new year season to doing what I can to give back to these communities that formed such a memorable backdrop to my childhood. Memories of Chinatown As …

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