it’s been a while since i’ve shared a brush painting, right? i’ve noticed that if i’m working hard on a novel, then my brush painting isn’t usually plentiful, and vice versa. it seems i have only a limited well of creativity, and must divide it between words and ink. 8)

i spent a few lessons getting the perfect composition, and then trying to catch the perfect bird. i enjoyed working on these paintings. (i’d say i attempted at least 8-10, the less worthy will be trashed or used as “wrapping paper”.) i used the lined pineapple rice paper i had bought in taipei, and you can see hints of the line in the painting.

i’m on the verge of being finished with Serpentine edits, and will turn my focus on the very rough sequel next.

still happily immersed in Serpentine revisions. am reading the entire manuscript aloud now– a step that is always very helpful in catching awkward prose or dialogue, as well as repition of words or phrases. revisions had taken me away from updating about the china trip, but many people have been asking me how it went, from fellow chinese brush painting students to young adult authors.

well, it went AMAZING! i honestly can’t imagine having had a better time. i was in china for ten days but spent the majority of it on the CIS HZ campus. although this first trip to china was filled with highlights (heck, everything was a highlight!) i can honestly say that the time i spent with the students were the best parts for me.

this was a class of fun, creative, talented and bright fifteen year olds, and the thing is, i remember fifteen very well. it’s an odd thing to say, a quarter of a century later (seriously, Father Time?), but it’s true. that year, my mom actually sent me on my own study abroad program to taiwan for a month in the summer. i lived in a dorm at the Chinese Culture University–my first experience living on my own and with peers (who quicky became friends). we probably didn’t learn as much chinese language as we should have, but we did learn about the culture, and we connected with our roots, and it made an indelible impression on me.

*fifteen year old cindy visiting Alishan in Taiwan.

i got the opportunity to talk to a few students (all avid readers) who actually had time to read Silver Phoenix, two of them even read Fury of the Phoenix. i got to discuss young adult books and share some of my favorite reads with them. and i also had the honor of hearing their written work, some creative, and some autobiographical, inside and outside the classroom.

*grabbing delicious gelato with Paul, Abi, Lauren and Kameka, part of the library crew. all the girls had also read Silver Phoenix–hoorah!


*i had arrived just in time for the Dragon Boat Festival! the campus was near the canals, so we got to see the boats paractice and race on sunday and monday. also, there were many firecrackers set off–loudest BOOMS ever!


i led three creative writing workshops with a focus on point of view and tense, sharing an excerpt from L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout and Malinda Lo’s Huntress that illustrated their uses perfectly, in my opinion. and also had the pleasure of hearing what they had written in the timed exercise.

i had the pleasure of sitting in on some of their other classes including english, art, drama, music, and a chorus practice for their end of year performance. it was a true honor to have been invited as a young adult author to their school, and they welcomed me wonderfully, and i hope they enjoyed their time with me as i did with them!

*the campus was beautiful. here’s the main walkway.
*we started the week (monday) with an informal interview between me and Paul, who had instigated and arranged my visit (THANK YOU, PAUL! =) in the open area adjacent to the school library.

you can find the uploaded video of the interview here.

*that night, i had the pleasure of being a guest at Tama’s (music director at CIS) home for a delicious dinner prepared by him. Tama is from New Zealand and Maori, and we discussed what a meal represented in our respective cultures, among friends and family. he was an *amazing* host. and the food was divine! (we had salad, curried chicken and veggies, with rice–upon my request, ha! thanks tama!)
*a delicious rhubarb and apple sponge cake prepared by Tama. yuuuuum.


*hanging out with Kameka and Gabbie (left and right). both are talented writers, as i loved hearing their timed writing pieces as well as their stories and poetry from the school published thINK literary magazine. Gabbie also read aloud an amazing poem to me. i felt so honored!


*we were given a tour of the sister school campus (Greentown) and toured the art center of their elementary school. i was so in love with this calligraphy room for the kids. many of the calligraphy of the oldest children there (eleven years old) were much better than my own!


*another view of the amazing calligraphy room.


*cermaic houses, inns, and buidlings built by the elementary school kids.


* i was treated to an amazing dinner at the 28 restaurant in the Hangzhou Hyatt courtesy of CIS and hosted by Paul. we had great fun with Maya and Tom accompanying us, a delightful adventurous couple, both teaching english in Hangzhou.


*the restaurant is famous for a few dishes, one of them being this pyramid pork dish. i don’t usually eat pork–but this was delicious!


*i sat in on a chorus practice for their end of year performance led by Tama. they sounded good!


*Gabbie rocking out on drums after chorus practice!


*with Tama after his music class.


*hanging out with Abi.


*Charlotte pitched her portable ping pong net from her Design Tech class to me. i was impressed!


*with Jessie and Sharon. Sharon is the other english teacher at CIS, along with Paul.


so this was a very very brief recap of my amazing week as a visiting young adult author at CIS Hangzhou. i wish i had taken more pictures while i was on campus, but i was too busy taking everything in, and enjoying my time there.

I’m currently revising Serpentine so my words are limited,
for all those who are looking for a China update. =) I’m not
very good with travelogues in general, preferring visuals, because
i actually keep a travel journal so all my thoughts and details
go in there. All parts of my China trip were amazing, with too
many highlights to count, but Shanghai was the first city I was
in on my own. And I had splurged on an amazing boutique hotel
on The Bund (worth every penny!) and there’s nothing like waking
up and walking through a city by yourself. I don’t think it’s an
experience I’ve had very much in my life, as I’ve been married near
twenty years (yep) and have always had a traveling partner with hub.

One of the major sights I wanted to see, within walking distance,
was the famous Yu Yuan (garden). As you can see, i’m fascinated
more by the architectural details than the actual fauna there–which
were beautiful as well. The garden itself sits in a warren of boutiques
and shops catering to tourists, and I enjoyed browsing through that
as well.

I got to the garden early (by 9.30am, I believe) and it was quiet
and nearly empty. Then I was in a shop that sold original Chinese
brush paintings and I spent too much money buying two originals
I really loved–by the time I reemerged near 11am, the garden was
very crowded. So I’m glad I went early for that peaceful morning
ambiance. (This was on a Monday, so I can’t imagine how busy it
would have been on a weekend.)

After, my high school friend treated me to steamed xiao long
bao (crab roe and regular) as well as veggie buns. All so delicious!
The ground floor has a hundred people long line for the take out
of xiao long bao, but the third floor, where we dined, had the more
pricy fare (with crab, etc.).

I only had one full day in Shanghai, and this was my morning. =)