Goodbye, 2016… Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, About Publishing, China-Inspired Book Recommendations, For Dog Lovers

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Hi ya’ll,

2017 is here and not a moment too soon! Can I get an amen?

Last year was brutal. Not just in politics (won’t go there) or in reference to the violence around the world, but also to me personally and I’m glad to see it gone. I can’t say nothing good happened, because through the trials and tribulations, towards the end of the year I finally found the courage to put on my big girl pants and say no.

I’m finding I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for and I could tell you all the things I’ve said no to in the last few months, but let’s suffice it to say that here in my 47th year on this earth, I am going to try something new and put my own well-being and path to peace on the top of the priority list.

Personally, that means I’m going to take more time to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun, maybe meet some more turtles out on Amelia Island.

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I’ll use the bike I got for Christmas to get out and feel the breeze on my face. There’ll be more breaks, stretching, and back to yoga I go. I’ll take every opportunity to consider and be thankful for my blessings, especially for my Ben and our ongoing love story. #Almost23YearsStrong

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I’ll try to bridge the distance with loved ones I’ve broken apart from, but if it doesn’t work I’ll be at peace with the decision to let it go.

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I’ll find a new avenue for volunteer work. Something different than I’ve done in the past but something that will fill the never-ceasing need in me to be of service to others. I’ll play with my dogs more. Give them more walks. More snuggles. More trips to the park. I’ll put more emphasis on family relationships and friendships, old and new, and work to let each one of them know their worth to me.

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I’ll release my search for the proper medication to treat my autoimmune disease, and instead focus on diet, breathing, and emotional well-being as treatment for the chronic pain. I’ll return to a place of spiritual content, relying on a higher power to fill my soul and shelter me from life’s pain.

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I’ll stop obsessing about the future and focus on the present, squeezing every drop of joy I can out of my days before they are gone in a flash. I’ll continue my goals to find ways to scatter kindness in small ways throughout my days.

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Professionally, I will release my first women’s contemporary fiction book where I rely on my love for dogs and my experiences as a child advocate to bring the reader a story of a young woman battling demons from her childhood as she journeys toward her own happily ever after.

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WISH ME HOME is available for pre-order now and will hit your kindles on March 21.

In the fall, I’ll release a historical fiction trilogy titled Sworn Sisters. It is set in the late nineteenth century and chronicles the saga of three young Chinese women, bound by fate and determined to overcome oppression and heartache to find a better life in America. Be sure to join my newsletter to be notified when all the new books are ready to go!

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So those are my goals for 2017 and I hope that you’ve set some too. As always, thank you so much for supporting my work. And by the way, what is your main focus or goal for the new year?

Much love to you and yours,

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Just Released! The Life of Willow …

Written by Kay on . Posted in China-Inspired Book Recommendations

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The Life of Willow duology was inspired by the many emails and messages I’ve received from my readers asking if my books are suitable for their teenage children. With that in mind, I set out to write a story that would appeal to those going into their teenage years, as well as entertain my usual adult audience. The story of Willow began from the prologue in my memoir, Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage. In the prologue, Mei Li is a young mother forced by her husband and his family to give up her less-than-perfect child. The act is devastating to her and the child, changing their lives forever. Then, the Life of Willow picks up sixteen years later, for she is the daughter of Mei Li from Silent Tears. It is also my hope that in writing these stories, readers will join me in realizing what my connections to the adoption community have taught me—that families are built in a variety of ways, and it only takes love and acceptance to begin a foundation that can result in a lifelong bond between individuals, whether they share the same blood or not. And for those adoptees who are still searching for answers, I wish them a measure of peace and a reminder that the struggle is part of your story, though it does not have to be the ending. Every person is in charge of their own happily ever after.

 

Download Somewhere Beautiful [at Amazon]

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Download Where I Belong [at Amazon]

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The Story Behind ‘THE PALEST INK’ by Kay Bratt

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

The Story Behind THE PALEST INK

By Kay Bratt

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THE PALEST INK is a story that started in my heart and stayed there for three years before putting it to paper. As I wrote my previous books, I was storing thoughts and possibilities, even characters and plotlines to be used, but only when I felt ready to take it on and do the story the justice it deserved.

Let me tell you how it began.

After writing Silent Tears, a memoir detailing my five years working in orphanages in China, I came across a news article about an elderly person in China who worked near the train station for decades. During that time he found many abandoned babies. Rather than turn them in to the authorities and let them enter the broken child welfare system, he took them home, him and his wife raising them as their own. Soon another similar article followed, this time of an elderly woman dying of cancer and the many now-grown children at her bedside who were saved from the streets by her. Both of these stories were heart-warming and thought-provoking. As I navigated daily life in China, I’d passed many elderly people. With simple conversation using the conversational and sometimes comical mandarin I’d learned, I knew they held nuggets of wisdom and well-guarded memories of a past gone by—history that was mostly unrecorded because in China, the media is controlled by the government and twisted to fit the picture they want to present to the rest of the world.

So I decided to write my own story about a man, his wife, and the family they build by rescuing abandoned girls. Though they were a poor and struggling family, they were rich with love and loyalty.

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I began the story with a prologue of the man—Benfu—as a teenager, escaping from a commune during the Cultural Revolution after being persecuted and tortured. By the acts of a country gone mad, he was torn from his family and forced to hide, but found acceptance with a girl who became his wife. Chapter one opens with Benfu in his golden years, together with the love of his life, having built their garden of flowers consisting of the many daughters they had rescued. The book did well enough to evolve into a series called The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, and readers let me know that they’d like to know more about the time that Benfu was in the commune and the events that transpired which set his life on the path it took.

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I agreed that despite the popularity of the modern-day series, perhaps I’d missed the real story, which was Benfu’s early and tumultuous introduction to adulthood by way of the Cultural Revolution. I began to add to my knowledge by researching that time period in China. The real life accounts of people who’d survived—and some who had not—were intriguing yet harrowing, and THE PALEST INK began to take form. As I wrote outlines and took notes from many sources, I decided to weave in real-life accounts of innocent people who were persecuted; beaten and imprisoned, their families torn apart for nothing more than leading the honest life they’d led in which Chairman Mao decided was against loyalty of country. The truth I dug up in my research was startling—that just for being an artist, musician, writer or teacher, one could be deemed a traitor and discarded like a piece of trash. I also discovered that for decades, the truth of what really happened during what they informally called “The Ten Years of Chaos” that was the Cultural Revolution was all but forgotten.

Why was this so? Because in Mao’s attempt to re-write history, most accounts of abuse of power were hidden from the world. To be caught with uncensored photographs or reports could mean death. Unapproved media articles or reports rarely slipped out. All over China, others had no idea of the path of death, starvation, and destruction that was happening around them. Thousands upon thousands of people were misled and fell into the trap of blindly following their leader, allowing him to reshape their thoughts to a point that many turned on their own families in an attempt to show their loyalty to Chairman Mao and the Communist Party.

With months of research under my belt, I finally came to understand the fear that I’d noticed the elderly Chinese people held for anyone in a position of authority. Everything began to make sense, and the reasoning for why Benfu was the way he was began to fall into place.

In THE PALEST INK, Benfu comes from an upper class family of scholars, which during the revolution was a source of shame. His best friend, Pony Boy, is from a poor class which is suddenly the favored class. Together they decide the people need to know the truth of what is happening to their country. There is an old proverb that says the palest ink is better than the best memory, and it is fitting considering the ban against recording of history that happened for so many years in China.

In the book, the idea of an underground newsletter called The Palest Ink is formed and is the catalyst for either the path to freedom, or the first steps to destruction of every bit of stability they’ve ever known. Benfu and Pony Boy must decide between being courageous and following what they believe in, or conforming like others around them to protect their families and themselves.

In closing, I think it’s important to mention that THE PALEST INK is more than another novel to me. It is written in dedication to the many who lost their lives, or were torn from their families and persecuted, for nothing more than the name they carried, the career they held, or any artistic talents they were unlucky enough to be born with. With this book, I want to convey to the people of China that every life is worth living, and not a single one should ever be considered anything but precious. With THE PALEST INK, I hope that they or at the least, their descendants, know they are not forgotten.

THE PALEST INK is available in print and Ebook on Amazon at [this link].

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For those who prefer to listen to a story unfold, THE PALEST INK is available in Audio.

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….and don’t forget that now that THE PALEST INK has launched, there are five books in the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, so get them all to be totally engrossed in the story of a family who puts love and loyalty above all.

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Kay Bratt’s Favorites; China-Inspired books of 2015

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

I began this career as an author of China-inspired stories because I love to read them. I also like to share my favorites with others, who like me also enjoy entertainment combined with learning about other cultures. Give me a good story set in China, or some other Asian country, and you might as well send out a posse to find me because I’m going to be offline for a piece of time. So in case you missed it during the year, here are some of my favorite China-Inspired reads that I devoured in year 2015.

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First on the list is a memoir called Good Chinese Wife, by Susan Blumberg-Kason. “Falling in love with a foreign culture can be a tempting love affair: one that gives you a chance to escape yourself and the constraints of your own upbringing. But when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong, as Susan Blumberg-Kason’s gripping memoir amply illustrates. GOOD CHINESE WIFE is a refreshing, painfully honest look at what happens when the mask of romance, both cultural and personal, is dropped, revealing the stranger beneath.” – Lisa Brackmann, author of the New York Times bestselling Ellie McEnroe series. You can get your copy [here.]

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Next is a book that will probably stay on my list of favorites for a very long time. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a story that pulled me in and kept me there until the very last pages. Even the summary is spellbinding and I find it amazing this this is a debut book by the author, Kelli Estes. If her first book is this good, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

From the book page summary:

The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets…

Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.

Get your copy [here]

ghost bride

A hauntingly beautiful tale of one woman’s quest for answers as she tries to save her own future, The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is culturally rich and sprinkled with just enough other-worldly details that you’ll find yourself enamored and pulled in enough not to let go until you find out what will become of the ghost bride.

From the book page summary:

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy–including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets–and the truth about her own family–before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Get your copy [here].

driven out

Next is a book I’ve been reading and re-reading for research as I am writing my next series. Driven Out by Jean Pfaelzer has opened my eyes to a part of American history that I never knew existed. You will be shocked, and then proud of how hard Chinese immigrants fought to claim their new lands.

From Amazon book page summary:

In Driven Out, Jean Pfaelzer sheds a harsh light on America’s past. This is a story of hitherto unknown racial pogroms, purges, roundups, and brutal terror, but also a record of valiant resistance and community. This deeply resonant and eye-opening work documents a significant and disturbing episode in American history.

Get your copy [here].

 And two favorites from years gone by, in case you don’t have them in your library I highly recommend you get them! daugher

Wild swans

And though I haven’t yet gotten a chance to read it, I can’t wait to dig into the newest by Mingmei Yip.

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“Inspiring, courageous story…Yip’s prose is simple yet descriptive, immersing the reader in the sights, sounds and smells of rural and urban China.” 
Booklist on Secret of a Thousand Beauties

Get your copy [here].

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If you are looking for something poetic and lyrical, look no farther than Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen.

A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights. Get your copy [here] 

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And of course I hope that if you haven’t yet grabbed your copy of my latest China-inspired book, you’ll consider reading The Palest Ink.

It comes in E-book, Hardcover, and Paperback and the print version is on sale at Amazon from Jan 12 – Feb 12!

The Palest Ink is a beautiful, moving, gripping, mesmerizing story of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. It is a story of bravery and honor, of love and compassion, as well as growing up and taking chances.

The Palest Ink is certainly the best novel I have read about Maoist China; simply superb!” —Fresh Fiction

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And if you want to devour more than just one book of the same characters, feel free to sink into my best-selling series, The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, for a story of love, loyalty, and family in modern day China. With over 2000 combined Amazon reviews, it has stolen hearts of readers from all around the world.

Get your copies [here]

The Palest Ink Celebration Giveaway!

Written by Kay on . Posted in China-Inspired Book Recommendations, Contests and Give-A-Ways

Ho Ho Ho!

To celebrate the release and fantastic launch of The Palest Ink

Palest Ink 3DI’m giving away FIVE Kindle Fires!

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How do you enter?

1) Take a selfie of you holding a print or e-reader copy of The Palest Ink.  

(But in yours, make sure your face shows!)

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2) Post your photos with the hashtag #ThePalestInk to [YOUR] Facebook, Twitter, and/or personal blogs.

You can post it to one or all three.

Each posting will equal one entry.

 

3) Comment below that you’ve done it and on which platforms so I can verify and add your entries to the spreadsheet

The fine print…

The photo must be a selfie of you with the cover of the print version or the cover page on your Kindle/eReader

Only entries to Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs will count

Entries must use the hashtag #PalestInkGiveaway to qualify

Due to Cost of Shipping, Contest is only open to US and Canada recipients

Winner will receive an unregistered Kindle Fire and must register it to their own account

IRL friends and family members of  Kay Bratt are not qualified to win

Prize Details:  Kindle Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

4) Want to get 5 extra entries?

Here’s how:

Post a review on Amazon & GoodReads for The Palest Ink. (But only if you’ve read it!)

In a separate comment on this blog, post your name with a link to your review.

WINNERS WILL BE DRAWN ON  DECEMBER 10.

 

Edited on December 10 to add……And the winners are as follows:

Starla Germeraad

Tammy Leon

Kristin Hillukka

Debbie Udycz

Trish Coleman

Have you read all five books in the series? If not, I know what would make a wonderful gift this season to yourself, or another bookworm in your circle!

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All Books in the Series also Available in Audio MP3 & CD for the Commuter in your Family!

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Order Now for A China-Love Christmas!

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

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If you or yours have a love for China, it’s time to get thinking about putting some China-love gifts under the tree.

Don’t wait too long…custom gifts take a lot of time and effort. Need some ideas?

Here are a few of Kay’s Favorite Things…

Ruffled Feathers Lydia Love dolls

The Lydia Love Dolls are always sweet to see in the arms of a little one.

$40 + $6 for shipping, contact Valerie Almquist @ Ruffled Feathers FB

Twins

You can sponsor a child in China, or give the gift of a donation in a loved one’s name! We all know I am obsessed with twins (I am one!) and I’ve sponsored these twins, Frances and Jack Robert, to give them the chance to experience life outside of an orphanage via foster care.

Go to Love Without Boundaries to learn more.

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Custom charms from Jiayin Designs is a great gift for the younger or older ones,

… and the proceeds support Chinese Nationals doing purposeful work in China.

$55 each (must order by mid-Nov for customized characters).

Contact Kelly @ Jiayin Designs and see other ideas for China-inspired gifts there too!

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For the middle-grade or older reader in the family, Amy Sonnichsen’s debut book, Red Butterfly, would make a lovely gift.

In Red Butterfly, A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse.

Available here on Amazon.

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Adoption maps have gained popularity recently and I found one on Etsy you may be interested in.

$9.90 + shipping, click here.

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Of course, we can’t ignore the sweetness of a soft Corolle doll!

At the time of this post, it’s 50% off on Amazon Prime at only $20.46!

Click here.

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Lastly, I fully recommend if you have a bookworm in your family that you go ahead and hit the button to buy my latest release, The Palest Ink.

Available in a beautifully embossed hardcover edition, it would make a wonderful gift. You could even send it to me and I’ll autograph it and send it back!

(You pay shipping costs)

Kay’s best selling memoir, Silent Tears, a Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, exposed the horrors of life behind the walls of a Chinese orphanage.

Now she returns with a thought-provoking novel set during the tumultuous Chinese Revolution.

The Palest Ink, a prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, weaves a heart-rending story around actual events most of the world has no idea even transpired.

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OR……you can buy the entire series and wrap them up with a pretty red bow!

Available on Amazon

 

The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt! Now Available on Amazon!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

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I can’t believe after an entire year of researching, writing, editing, cutting, polishing, sweat and tears……it’s finally launch day for the book that my editor called my tour de force! Readers asked to know more about Benfu during the Cultural Revolution, and I’ve given it to them. Available as of today, you can order HERE at AMAZON! (bites fingernails in hopes that you all will like it!) Just in time to purchase the beautifully embossed hardcover to give as a holiday gift, too!

Want to know more about the story? Here you go….

A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, The Palest Ink depicts Benfu’s coming-of-age during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution.

What others are saying about The Palest Ink:

Bratt brings to life the struggle of two individuals during China’s terrible time that all should know about with an honest, yet compassionate style. She brings us as close as we ever want to be to an evil time, yet shows some found the courage to preserve their dignity. A must read. — Mingmei Yip, Author of Skeleton Women and other China-inspired novels

The Revolution itself is well documented and the historical significance of Chairman Mao’s Red Guard leaves fear in its wake. The danger and fear that come through the writing create discomfort and unrest, much as it must have been during the times. The danger is palpable, and adds to the chaotic feelings left after the reading of this work. If you enjoy history, revolution, courage, romance and family, then this will make a great work for your library. Kay Bratt has given us a work of intensity. Blogcritics.org

The Palest Ink, the story of Benfu’s early years fills in so many gaps in my knowledge of China during the Cultural Revolution, a topic that is practically taboo in China right now. This prequel to the four “Scavenger’s Daughters” books  shows me what the Chinese term ‘eating bitter’ really means. Kay Bratt sure has done her research, and presents the tale of those tumultuous years in a fascinating narrative. –Sibylla Grottke, WanderlustAndChineseInk.com

 

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A Son, Survivor, and a Leader (behind the curtain of the Cultural Revolution)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

In a recent article in the New York Times titled Cultural Revolution Shaped Xi Jinping, written by Chris Buckley and Didi Kirsten Tatlow, the world is given a rare glimpse at China’s Cultural Revolution.

Jinping, the son of an unseated official, speaks of surviving the Cultural Revolution; a time in history that impacted many of China’s families and put them through turmoil, destruction, and even death. Can you imagine being denounced by your own mother? Criticized and disowned, acts of betrayal probably uttered through tears by the woman who gave him birth and loved every hair on his head? In my mind, I can see the boy standing stoically, struggling to be a man and accepting his fate so that his mother would be left alone and not persecuted alongside him. Despite his courage, her role as the pampered official’s wife was reversed and she was sent to do hard labor on a farm.

According to the article, Jinping’s father was exiled from home and taken to a city where he was displayed in the back of a truck, through the streets as the locals beat him. From the New Yorker, Born Red by Evan Osnos; ‘In January, 1967, after Mao encouraged students to target “class enemies,” a group of young people dragged Jinping’s father before a crowd. Among other charges, he was accused of having gazed at West Berlin through binoculars during a visit to East Germany years earlier. He was detained in a military garrison, where he passed the years by walking in circles, he said later—ten thousand laps, and then ten thousand walking backward. Jinping was too young to be an official Red Guard, and his father’s status made him undesirable. Moreover, being born red was becoming a liability.’

Also from Born Red; ‘A recent state-news-service article offers the mythology: “Xi [Jingping] lived in a cave dwelling with villagers, slept on a kang, a traditional Chinese bed made of bricks and clay, endured flea bites, carried manure, built dams and repaired roads.” ‘

Jinping’s life went from normal to devastating in a few short years but he didn’t blame Chairman Mao for all of the bad luck that fell upon his family. Quite the opposite, he felt an urgency to prove his loyalty and he dedicated himself to the party.

Much happened in between but years later when the horror of the revolution was over, Jingping and his brother were reunited with the father who had suffered much physical and mental damage from the isolation and torture he’d been through. The first moments must’ve been heart-breaking as a father didn’t even recognize his own sons. According to the NY Times article, the father wept and Jinping offered him a cigarette.

The old, battered man asked him why he also smoked.

Jinping gazed into his father’s eyes and spoke of the ordeal they’d both experienced, similarly but separately, in the years they’d been apart.

And his father considered it, then gave his quiet approval of a son who had not only survived what many did not, but like a phoenix from the ashes he’d turned tragedy into triumph and became the president of China, Xi Jinping.

If this small piece of history interests you and makes you long to read more about the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution and how people survived it, I hope you’ll take a peek at my latest novel, The Palest Ink, available for pre-order now on Amazon.

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The Palest Ink

A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The Palest Ink depicts the coming-of-age of two young men during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Available for Pre-Order on Amazon here.

Red Butterfly, A China-Inspired book by A.L. Sonnichsen

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

The Red Butterfly

by A.L. Sonnichsen

 

I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about a new China-inspired book  that hit the market on February 3. If not, believe me, you will. And just so that you won’t be the only one left not knowing what it’s all about, go ahead and snag a copy! A poignant story beautifully written, I give it the official Kay Bratt recommendation. Here’s a bit more about The Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen.

Book Description: A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold. Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights. Age Level: 8 – 12 3 – 7   Available on Amazon (Here)

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Behind the Story; the Chengguan in China and Bitter Winds

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Over the years that we lived in China, I ran into my fair share of the chengguan, otherwise known as the street police. The Chengguan are a unique Chinese institution: something less than a police officer, but more powerful than an average person. These urban management officers are hired by municipal governments to carry out undesirable tasks  (Definition from TeaLeafNation article) My interaction with them was limited to seeing them coming through the various markets to harass store owners. When a uniform was spotted, a murmur would move through the lines of stalls and many would completely shut up shop as they passed through, rather than deal with their abuse.

With the ease of photos and the internet now, there are many new stories coming to light of abuse and even death caused by these chengguan, especially those whose power has gone to their heads. In 2013, a 56-year-old farmer named Deng Zhengjia brought his watermelons to a nearby city. When the chengguan confronted him about selling on the street, they took some of his watermelons and ordered him to move to an approved stall. He and his wife obeyed, but when the chengguan came around again, this time they took more than watermelons, they took his life. All because he dared to question their authority and begged them to leave him be. Fortunately, his wife was there and was able to be with him as he took his last breath.

watermelon

Suspicously when his daughter took to Weibo, the Chinese twitter, about what happened to her father, her posts were soon deleted and replaced with a statement that the government had acted fairly in the situation. Censorship along with abuse and murder! When the people tried to get the chengguan to take responsibility by guarding the body for an autopsy, they were soon beaten down too.

Another instance of the chengguan acting inappropriately is when they rounded up all the beggars at a festival and put them in portable jail cells along the sidewalk.

beggars

The photos that accompanied the story are heart-breaking, and were the catalyst for Lily’s story in my novel, Bitter Winds. Lily is blind, and when she is mistakenly taken for a beggar, the chengguan interrupt her life. Her sister, Ivy, must find a way to free her from the grasp of corrupt officials. The two become desperate to each help the other, and the bonds of sisterhood cannot be broken as they work to be reunited.

SD_BitterWinds

Read more about Lily and Ivy and their fight for freedom in Bitter Winds, available here at Amazon.