I do not celebrate Thanksgiving in the American tradition. Growing up though, I have had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving in school as it was a mission school and gratitude to God/the Divine was part of … well… learning. So, whenever the school year ended, we would have a Thanksgiving service in our school chapel.

I think giving thanks is a rare and oft-ignored value. Gratefulness, gratitude, all these are often not acknowledged because the world is horrible, everyone is rude and things are not going your way. It’s easy to dismiss such sentiments as lazy. Yet we are all caught up in this rush, this perpetual race to something, be it a destination, a goal, a job, school, family obligations, greed, pride, etc. We all forget, I think, to be thankful or see the little blessings in our paths.

Being a writer on top of being a teacher or a mom or a daughter is a tricky thing. There are years when your writing runs dry, acceptances are scarce and your rejection list is a scroll. For many writers, the ability to write, to submit and to garner deals/acceptances/accolades, is tied so tightly and intrinsically to self/identity, so much so that depression and pain sets in when things do not go our way. I don’t want to sound sanctimonious (and many people do, for some strange reason) when other writers experience such things in their journeys. I have heard horrible one-liners like “Don’t give up” and – the odd – “Be thankful!”. I don’t know how these one-liners would help an already-grieving writer. Do you give the writer warmth if he or she needs it? Do you give the writer food if he or she is hungry?

Anyway… what I want to say is that it is hard and I acknowledge it and accept it.  It is not a hard path to walk. So, I focus on little blessings, tiny tiny gold nuggets or shiny things or beautiful flowers along my way. And no, this is not going to be a list of “OMG, I have these things done!”.

For me, gratitude is the little passion flower I see along the way.

For me, gratitude is the blue skies after a rainy day.

For me, gratitude is my daughters’ hugs.

For me, gratitude is my chilli plant finally blossoming and growing chilli.

Gratitude is the physical and tangible things I see.

What do you see?


Have a lovely weekend!


Gardens By The Bay, 21/11/2015

The phoenix is ephemeral



A write-up on InstaLove: Romance & the YA novel

First, apologies for the long overdue write-up on the SWF author panel about … Instalove: Romance & the YA novel. Life intervened and I was caught up with a slew of stuff.

Second, well… what is love? This song sums up everything: Haddaway says it best!


Romance is the hot trend for YA novels. You think “YA novels” and you instantly about Twilight and its ilk. Well, it is true that romance is important in YA novels. Teens are after all discovering this vital aspect of growing up. But the teen years are not just love: they are also beset with issues of identity, of fitting in, of choosing their right paths(s) and of balancing emotions that are sometimes out of control (aww, thanks puberty!).

After a reading of selected pages/paragraphs of our books, Joyce Chua, Rachel Hartman and I answered questions from the audience. Kudos to Denise of Closetful of Books as an awesome moderator and kept the momentum going.

So, to sum up (and I am trying to remember what had been said/discussed!): Romance is important, but not the only aspect in a teen’s life. Yet, romance and love can have its redemptive aspect: for Joyce Chua’s Lambs For Dinner, love is redemptive for the protagonist. There are other kinds of love and they are as redemptive and life-changing as well. We discussed about parental love, love between siblings or blood kin, love between friends etc.


Much grateful thanks to the friends, families, readers and supporters who came to the YA panel. And to the many young men and women who came up and asked questions after the panel. Keep writing, keep practising, be inspired by the things around you!


Hope, illustrated.



Like the lotus
there is hope,
a bud buried deep inside.

Hope rises
the darkness.

Be kind.
Be bold.
Be compassionate.
Be clear.


If we rise
bright as the sun,
we chase them

Oktopus Ink has acquired my YA novella!

More details here!

Ming Zhu & The Pearl That Shines is up on kindle

With a new cover. :)

Launch of Dragon Dancer at SWF 2015

Well, I did it – me a bundle of nerves and jitters. But I launched Dragon Dancer at Singapore Writers’ Festival 2015.

Now here are some pictures of me, the River Room (the venue), the neon comfy bean bags and the audience.

meandnashswf (me and daughter)

me1swf (me and the mike)

beanbagsswf (the comfy bean bags and people!)

Dragon Dancer Cover Image

I introduced myself, a bit of Jeremy’s artwork and portfolio, and did a reading. Afterwards came the signing.

What struck me – and it would remain one of my best memories and motivation to keep writing – was this little boy, about my youngest’s age or slightly young, who was so taken by Yao, the dragon dancer, that he was the first to grab a copy of Dragon Dancer from the SWF book store run by Closetful of Books. He flipped open the book and started reading! When I sat down at the signing table, he read a few pages, his mom standing beside him. His eyes shone when I signed his name on the front page. And when he left, he was going “BOOM BOOM BOOM!” and “NOW NOW NOW!” (Shen Long’s words in the picture book). I think he didn’t want to leave. He lingered around the signing table until his parents urged him to go.

Now this made/makes my day. Never doubt the power of your words and imagination – because you will inspire people. I am so touched that my story touched the heart of one little boy. I signed “Be a dragon dancer!” on the page.

Everyone can be dragon dancers.

I will probably write more about the YA panel later in the day with Joyce Chua and Rachel Hartman about … you guess it, Insta-Love: Romance and the YA novel. But here’s a good write up by Chachic. :)

So, write, write, write, people!

Note: If you would like to get a copy of Dragon Dancer, you can purchase from Closetful of Books (if you live in Singapore) or you can get it from Lantana Publishing.

EDIT: Dragon Dancer is also available on Amazon.

Going Home (Last Chapter)

Will Ming Zhu and Xiao Xiao meet again?

And on this note, thank you for reading, supporting and even voting!

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Help Me Fund – Translation Into Turkish


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