A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

T20161210_170937.jpghere has been so much ridicule surrounding Montreal`s challenger to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that I went downtown and had a look for myself. Yes, it is a Charlie Brown tree. It’s skinny and not as full and pretty as the one in New York (which I heard is actually made up of 3 trees wired together), but when lit up at night, I think it’s beautiful and does its job well, which is to bring people together to celebrate the holiday season.

Speaking of Charlie Brown, my absolute favorite Christmas album is A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. You can listen to it below. Continue reading

A Matter of Language: Chinglish Signs

Language was definitely an issue for me in China. When sales people started talking to me in Mandarin, I’d stop them and ask if they spoke English. Luckily, there would be another customer close by who stepped forward to translate. So being a Chinese in China who couldn’t speak the local language, I found some local signs amusing, even if it was just a typo. My favorite is the last one. Continue reading

10 Tips for Travelling in China

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I went on a group tour of seven cities in China in October which is considered an ideal time to go. There were so many things to consider in preparation for the trip, the main one being what to wear as the tour started in the north in Beijing where the temperature was supposed to be about 12C to Guilin in the south where it should have been around 20C. During the trip, we learned that the weather forecast was, as our tour guide put it, “just a suggestion”. I packed long sleeve t-shirts and a jacket for Beijing’s cold weather forecast and ended up wearing short sleeve t-shirts as the days were hot and sunny. Elsewhere, cloudy forecasts turned out to be either drizzle or heavy rain. Rainy forecasts in the south were hot, humid days instead. I regretted not bringing a pair of shorts, but when we returned to Beijing for the flight home, the temperature had dropped to 7C.

So if you’re planning a trip to China, here are a few tips to help make your trip more comfortable: Continue reading

It’s a Barbie World

One of the most famous names in the world now has a permanent home in Montreal. Barbie Expo is the largest permanent exhibit of Barbie dolls in the world and is open to the public for free at Les Cours Mont Royal. I had a Barbie doll when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite toys. I loved the dresses my mom made for her out of scrap material. They weren’t as fancy as Mattel couture, but I thought they were beautiful. The Barbies in this exhibit wear outfits designed by top designers such as Vera Wang, Bob Mackie, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein and Versace. With dolls that resemble Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Jennifer Lawrence, Lucille Ball and more, the exhibit is a fascinating commentary on fashion and pop culture.

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Five Ideas on Where to Promote Your Self-Published Book

I’ve uploaded my latest book, The Red Pagoda and Other Stories, to Kindle, set it for pre-orders and now for the part that I find is as hard as writing the book: the marketing. Of course, social media is always a good choice, but I thought I’d share some other options that I’ve used, big and small. What I keep in mind is that all magazines and their web sites need content. It’s just a matter of finding them and seeing what works for you.

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Being an Author is Just Another Day in the Park

One of the things I enjoy about being an author is that I get to take part in some fun events. Saturday, I was at Prose in the Park, an annual outdoor literary festival which was held at Parkdale Park in Ottawa. It was an opportunity to meet local authors, to listen to them talk about their books, their views on writing and the publishing industry, and of course, to buy new books. Continue reading