Showing posts from December, 2022

Another Year Almost Over ...

2022 has been a good year for my writing and publishing. For one, I released  The Corpse Ritual , the third book in my urban fantasy series, in August. It made my day when a reader told me “it’s the best” yet of  The Geomancer’s Apprentice  books. Another highlight: I reached over 120,000 page reads on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited this year after I loaded the entire series onto the service in May. That translates to around 280 books, not taking into account my ebook and print sales. Thank you so much, dear readers, for your interest in my series. The numbers aren’t a lot for some writers, but amazing to this one. When I released my debut novel in February 2021, it was the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream to write fiction. I can’t believe I’m actually living the dream today. So what’s the plan for 2023? I’d like to release two more books in the series, the fourth and the fifth—and final—installments. Yes, Joe and Junie’s journey comes to an end, or at least this particular story a

It’s the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival Today

This year, the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival falls on Dec. 22. The winter solstice—known as Dongzhi, or “winter’s extreme,” in Mandarin—is also celebrated in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. In the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang, the festival marks the increase of positive (or yang) energy because the days start getting longer.  (Yin energy is negative, dark and feminine, while yang energy is positive, bright and masculine. That doesn’t mean yin is bad and yang is good. Yin and yang are the opposing energies of qi, the continuous life force in all living and nonliving things. Yin and yang must be balanced to create a harmonious environment, which is good feng shui.)  Dongzhi is a time for family reunion and the eating of traditional foods. One common food is tangyuan (or sweet dumplings), which are glutinous rice balls served in a sweet broth. The balls were traditionally pink and white. The women in the family would come together and roll the balls by hand from glutinous rice flour.

It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year

Today, Dec. 21, is the winter solstice. It is either the shortest day of the year, or the longest night, depending on your point of view. The winter solstice kicks off the 12 nights of the Yuletide (Dec. 21 to Jan. 1). The ancient Germans believed that during this period, a host of ghostly hunters known as the “Wild Hunt” would ride across the night skies. They were led by Odin, whose many roles included the god of the dead. The hunters mimicked the sounds of howling winds and storms as they swept up the souls of the dead as well as any unlucky live person and animal who crossed their path. The Yuletide feast was a sacrifice to secure blessings from Odin and the other gods for abundant crops and livestock in the spring. Like the ancient Germans, I’ve always found winter a magical time.  I’m originally from Singapore, where there are only two seasons: miserably hot with possible thunderstorms, or slightly less hot with possible thunderstorms. As a child growing up on a tropical is

Meet Southeast Asia’s Very Own Troll …

I recently watched the new Netflix movie Troll . It is, not surprisingly, set in Norway. Did you know that Southeast Asia has its own troll-like figure? She is called Sang Kelembai. Trolls are such an important part of Nordic folklore that places all over Norway are named after the creatures. Mountain peaks and rock formations are especially likely to be named after trolls because, according to the lore, trolls turn to stone when exposed to sunlight. Whether from the mountains, the woods or caverns, trolls are large and uncouth. They love to trick humans and are generally unhelpful. Think of the troll who lives under the bridge in the old fairy tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Or the nasty trolls in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings . The Sang Kelembai myth originates from the state of Pahang in Malaysia. She is a giantess (some say giant) three times the size of a normal person. She has a big nose, big elephant-like ears and fangs. She lives in the jungle and eats meat, fruit

The Haunting Words of Shirley Jackson

Today, Dec. 14, is the birthday of horror and mystery writer Shirley Jackson. Jackson was born in 1916. She died in 1965 from a heart condition at the age of 48. In her short life, she wrote six novels, two memoirs, and many short stories. Her most famous work includes the short story “The Lottery,” and her books The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle . Full disclosure: I haven’t read all of Jackson’s work. She is one of my favorite writers based on just one novel— The Haunting of Hill House , published in 1959. The book had a tremendous impact on me. Its mix of psychological horror and ambiguity (see, for example, its enigmatic ending) makes it one of the best-ever haunted house stories. The book’s opening paragraph is especially powerful: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding

The Ghost of Christmas Past ...

I found this old Christmas promo for The Geomancer’s Apprentice series. It made me smile. What a difference a year makes.  My dog Oreo is now 14. A little older, a little stiffer. I'm not sure he's any wiser, but he's as lovable as ever. He’s a rat terrier, beagle mix. We got him from a dog rescue group when he was six months old. He’s good-natured and smart, and quickly settled into our household routine. He doesn’t always listen, but he’s one of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever had. As for the books, I’ve updated the covers for Books 1 and 2. I also released Book 3, The Corpse Ritual . By this time next year, Books 4 and 5 should already be out. Here’re some of the Christmas ads I'm running this year. They make me feel merry. Writing my books and seeing them in print is a dream come true for me. Cheers!