Tag Archives: Taiwan

Author Mingmei Yip and Her Mesmerizing Novel The Nine Fold Heaven


About The Nine Fold Heaven: An ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lover and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder.

“A unique and enthralling style. . .flawless.” —Baltimore Books Examiner

Nine_Fold_Heaven_-_Cover_Art (1)

“If you ask me what is love, I believe it must last till death.” This is by the Chinese poet Yuan Haowen (1190-1257).

From Mingmei Yip: One day when Yuan was on his trip to take the imperial examination, he saw a hunter shooting at a pair of geese. One fell to the ground and died, the other one, instead of flying away, landed next to its partner, crying and hitting its head on the ground till it also bled to death. Deeply moved by the love suicide, Yuan wrote the above line which is known to many millions of Chinese. He also buried the two geese together and their grave became the famous “Geese Grave.”

Another line with a similar sentiment is from the three thousand year old Book of Poetry: “I’ll hold your hand and grow old with you.”

Yet another poem says, “In life, if our love is always like the first time we met, there will be no lover abandoned like an Autumn fan.” At the beginning love is sweet and passion deep. However, love that cannot stand the trial of time is only shallow infatuation. That is why the poem next says, “When in an instant love is gone, we just blame fickleness of the heart!”

In my new novel The Nine Fold Heaven, I tried to portray undying love, both between man and woman and between mother and child. Camilla, a spy assigned to assassinate a powerful gangster head – disastrously falls in love with her target’s son. Though she is told that their baby was stillborn, he appears in her dreams and she vows to find him, even though it means “going inside the tiger’s mouth.”

White Chinese Orchid

Story Excerpt– the protagonist Camilla’s baby coming into her dream:

That night, my baby Jinjin came to my dream. But one thing disturbed me —  he’d not been growing.

I asked. “Jinjin, how come you don’t grow but stay the same as the first time you visited me?”

“Because I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because my mother abandoned me. She’s famous for being cruel and scheming. I tell you, Mama, people can survive without food but not without love.”

“Who told you this?”

“My Baba, who else?”

“You met him?”

???????He nodded, each thread of his lustrous, silky hair tugging at my heart.

“Sometimes I’ll sneak out from my crib and crawl to where he sits. Baba has aged a lot because he’s very lonely and he misses you. I never talk to him because he doesn’t even know that I exist. So I can only watch and listen but I heard him say this to himself.”

Before I could respond, he went on. “Mama, though most of the time I think he is my father, other times I’m not so sure.”

“How’s that?”

He answered in a mocking tone. “Oh you forget? You had others besides my Baba, remember?”

His saying hurt so much that I was speechless.

“But Jinjin, I love you, very much! In fact you’re the one who’s taught me to love.”

He didn’t respond to my declaration of love, but continued in his childish voice. “I’ll soon turn one year old, but sadly I’ll have to spend my birthday all by myself.”

“But I can celebrate with you!”

His expression turned sad. “How? I can’t always come to your dreams and I won’t let you in mine.”

Orchid_Phalaenopsis“But Jinjin, why can’t you let me into your dreams?”

“Because I can’t. I am no more than a dream myself. I am not real, Mama.”

“No, Jinjin! You are a living being, my son! What makes you think you’re not real?”

“Mama, I’m confused. When you gave birth to me, I heard someone says that I’m dead, a stillborn, what does that mean?”

“But you’re not.”

“How are you so sure?”

“Because here you are in my dream and my life.”

Just then I woke up, wetting my pillows with tears flowing like the Huangpu River.

I wanted my real Jinjin in my arms — not merely in a dream.

I had to go back to Shanghai to find him. Even if I’d get killed trying – so be it.

***Come along with an ex spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about Nine Fold Heaven and Mingmei Yip at http://www.mingmeiyip.com and get your copy of this exciting and exotic novel at http://www.amazon.com/The-Nine-Fold-Heaven-Mingmei/dp/0758273541/

Mingmei_Yip_-_Fireplace (1)About Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit. Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing.

Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US. Visit Mingmei at: www.mingmeiyip.com

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Get out the Egg Dye–It’s that Time of Year Boys & Girls


Saturday morning I’m going to an Easter egg hunt at my mom’s with ‘the Smalls’ in our family. We may freeze now that April has decided to behave as early March should have done. Crazy weather, but I’ve always loved Easter, a joyous season when the earth is reborn in a swell of new life washed with vibrant color, a time of spiritual and physical renewal.  I can’t imagine Christ‘s resurrection taking place at any other time of year.  This is most fitting. Although in some parts of the world, I suppose it’s fall isn’t it?  A strange thought, hiding eggs beneath autumn leaves.  Maybe those regions of the globe don’t have fall foliage. Let me know dear readers.

As a six-year-old recently returned from an early childhood spent in Taiwan–no autumn leaves there, but we had a kewl banana tree in our front yard–I delighted in my first egg hunt in a neighbor’s yard filled with blooming crocus and daffodils.  Tucked in the green grass and among those shining blossoms were the many-colored eggs, like hidden jewels.  Magical. And chocolate rabbits.  I was in awe of an American Easter.

(*Grandson Colin from an earlier Easter)

Of course, in those days little girls wore hats and gloves and crinolines under their Easter dresses.  Yes, I was born in the 1800′s.  I also received my first white Bible on Easter, which is still my favorite one.  It had this new book smell and books were quite special back then because my father was an underpaid English professor and we were poor.  I just liked smelling my new Bible, but did eventually read much of it.  The names of my favorite Sunday School teachers are inked in the front under the section entitled ‘Friends at Church.’  I must have been a complete nerd not to have any children listed.  I had plenty of imaginary friends… (*Beth as a wee tot.)

Another early Easter memory is our family returning home from church and me climbing from the car to bury my face in a golden clump of daffodils by the back doorstep, beaded with rain.  Their sweet scent said spring to me.  And new life.  I always imagined the tomb where Christ was buried and rose again surrounded by daffodils and crocus.  Which is not likely given the photographs I’ve seen of what it may actually have looked like.  Very dry and rocky terrain.  I like my mental image better.  It’s the spirit of the event that matters, so I’ll stick with it.

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new-born.”

~Alice Freeman Palmer

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.”  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

“It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.”  ~Katherine Lee Bates

“The story of Easter is the story of God’s wonderful window of divine surprise.”~Carl Knudsen


I’ve always loved Easter, a joyous season when the earth is reborn in a swell of new life washed with vibrant color, a time of spiritual and physical renewal.    I can’t imagine Christ‘s resurrection taking place at any other time of year.   This is most fitting.  As a six year old recently returned from an early childhood spent in Taiwan, I delighted in my first egg hunt in a neighbor’s yard filled with blooming crocus and daffodils.  Tucked in the green grass and among those shining blossoms were the many-colored eggs, like hidden jewels.  Magical. And chocolate rabbits.  I was in awe of an American Easter.

Of course, in those days little girls wore hats and gloves and crinolines under their Easter dresses.  Yes, I was born in the 1800’s.  I also received my first white Bible on Easter, which is still my favorite one.  It had this new book smell and books were quite special back then because my father was an underpaid English professor and we were poor.  I just liked smelling my new Bible, but did eventually read much of it.  The names of my favorite Sunday School teachers are inked in the front under the section entitled Friends at Church.  I must have been a real nerd not to have any children listed.

Another early Easter memory is our family returning home from church and me climbing from the car to bury my face in a golden clump of daffodils by the back doorstep, beaded with rain.  Their sweet scent said spring to me.  And new life.  I always imagined the tomb where Christ was buried and rose again surrounded by daffodils and crocus.

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born.”  ~Alice Freeman Palmer

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.”  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

“It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.”  ~Katherine Lee Bates

City of Tranquil Light


This book attracted my notice because of my Chinese connection with the past.  Not only did I spend my early childhood in Taiwan where my parents taught English, but my grandmother was born and raised in China by her missionary parents.  My mother and father also taught English there at a later time, but I didn’t accompany them on that trip.  Their home has always been open to hosting students from China, many of whom have become our friends over the years.  My grandmother spoke Mandarin all her life and never forgot it, and my mother also learned the language.  She can chat  with waiters in Chinese restaurants.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell, although a novel, reads as if it were a biography and the reader is an integral part of the day-to-day experiences of Edward and Katherine Kiehn. Especially meaningful is that the story centers on these two Mennonite missionaries who went to China early in the 20th Century, as did my great-grandparents, only they traveled there even earlier in 1891 under the Southern Presbyterian Church. They initially met on the voyage over, but were posted to different cities.  After my great-grandfather made an exceedingly difficult trip to visit her, my great-grandmother decided to accept his marriage proposal because she loved him,  and to spare him another horrific journey which included a canal boat with an opium addict, as did one trip described in the book.

An extremely moving part of the story concerns the sickness and death of Edward and Katherine’s young daughter, almost more than they could bear and forever in their hearts and minds. My great grandparents had five children born in China, with one stillborn. Their oldest son, after finishing college and seminary in the United States, returned to China to serve as an itinerate pastor, as had his father, visiting small villages where Christ was not known.  Another son completed medical school and returned to China to work with his mother, also a doctor.  Highly unusual for a woman in that era.  She’d been tried early on by villagers who brought a boy to her nearly dead from a worm infestation. Knowing it was a test, she laid him out on the ground where all could see, and gradually gave him something to make the worms leave his body, curing him.  And won their respect.

Eventually all members of our family were forced back to the states in 1939, after Japan invaded China and war ravaged the land. Living in China makes an enormous impact on Americans, as it did on those in Ms. Caldwell’s book upon whom she based her story, and as it’s made on our family.  A hospital now stands on the spot where my great grandmother practiced medicine and their stillborn child is buried.  Many descendents of missionary families who’d served there at that time were invited back to a celebration of its founding in 2005.

My parents have a camphor wood chest, not as elaborate as the one described in the book, but as fragrant, that they bought while teaching school on Taiwan. They (and I) can attest to the feelings of love expressed in the book that flowed between the Chinese friends of Edward and Katherine and which the couple reciprocated with all their hearts.

*Photographs are of me as a child in Taiwan with my doll tied on my back like the peasant women who carried their infants that way while at work in the rice paddies.

*My great-grandmother, Annie Houston Patterson and my Great Uncle Houston

*My grandparents, Henry and Margaret Mack,  my mom and uncle.  My grandmother grew up in China, returned to the states for higher education and married.   She and my grandfather traveled back to China and stayed with her parents for a time, later journeying as missionaries to the Philippines.

The Ghost of Christmas Past


When I was new and the world was young, at that wonderful age of six,  my younger brother and I celebrated our first Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at the Churchman family home place where my Dad was born and raised.  Called Chapel Hill (all these old Southern homes have names) the gracious Georgian style house has been in the family since 1816.  In those early days, brother John and I had only just grasped the concept of Santa Claus because our family had spent the previous three years in Taiwan where my parents taught English and only returned to the states that previous summer.

Everything about an American Christmas was new and wondrous to us, especially the amazingly generous fat guy in the red suit who was just waiting to give us presents.  But it seemed that he required snow, the cold white stuff we had not yet witnessed, for sleigh travel with his flying deer.  A bit eccentric perhaps, but I was an imaginative child and willing to indulge him.  It wasn’t lost on us, though, that this weather phenomenon didn’t fall from a clear blue sky.

Our parents hadn’t made much of Christmas in Taiwan.  We were tiny tots and toys  scarce, the few there were being some that other missionary families shared with us from those their children had outgrown.  There were no toy stores in Taiwan then like there were here.  Chewing gum was a major treat.  We caught our breath at the delights we saw in the American shops.

Barbie dolls had just been introduced and I longed for one with hair to comb, an endless perfect wardrobe, and furniture of her own. John had his eye on a racing car set.  We’d seen picture books with Santa in them and there was always snow.  What to do, what to do?  Nothing but wait and hope.

The journey to Virginia began in the mountains of Tennessee, jolting along in our old Ford on Route 11 to Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley.  Our grandmother, whom we all called Mommom, Aunt Moggie, Uncle RW and our five cousins awaited us on the family farm.

Dad spent what seemed like days in preparation for the trip, packing and repacking the car.  Finally we got underway.  I’m amazed as an adult to find that the trip normally takes about six hours, or less, because I have vivid memories of this ride going on all day and far into the night, playing ‘I Spy with My little Eye,’ and singing carols until we were hoarse and my parents must’ve been nearly half mad.

Mom taught us a song on the way about Santa, ‘You’d Better Watch Out,’ a worrisome ditty.  I wasn’t an exceptionally naughty child, but knew there were the occasionally times when I had been what, in some person’s minds, might be construed as bad. What if Santa, this wonderful provider, had seen me at less than my best?  What if I got switches?

My father told us about his Uncle Gus who’d received switches.  Horrors of horrors.  Deep down I felt it was no more than I deserved if my every move had been carefully noted. I hoped Santa was a forbearing fellow, but doubts lurked, a new worry on top of the snow thing.

Eventually we arrived in the Valley and the paved highway turned into bumpy dirt roads as we wound deeper into the country with its unique smells.  My father pointed out the lights of Chapel Hill glowing in the distance, then unbelievably we were driving up the long lane and the yard filled with family to warmly welcome the weary travelers.

The first night we went straight to bed.  I slept upstairs in the yellow room––every room has a name––with my two cousins, Margaret and Elizabeth Page.  In the morning, John and I got our wish.  We awoke to heavily falling snow, a magical world.  We went sledding down the lane, made a giant snow bunny with my father and had the time of our lives, clambering back into the kitchen ravenous and soaking wet.  We peeled off layers of pants––no snow pants back then––and took our wet clothes and mittens to hang them by the stove in Mommom’s room, before downing bowls of homemade soup.

The day before Christmas finally came and the old brick house filled with tantalizing smells.  The kitchen door opened periodically, the sleigh bells on it announcing the arrival of yet more friends bringing yet more gifts.  Friends, neighbors and family all exchanged gifts, even if it was only a plate of cookies exchanged for yours.

Presents were stashed in every corner of the front room, covering the old piano and stacked beneath, wrapped in paper and ribbons which I found almost too beautiful to bear. I knew there were some for me among them, that I was not in total reliance on Santa.  Even so, I longed to be kindly remembered by him.

As any child can attest, Christmas Eve is the longest day of the year and one in which we made extreme nuisances of ourselves, asking endless questions and climbing over and under the furniture to see which gifts were ours.  At last we gathered together in the front room in the presence of the magnificent pine decorated shortly before our arrival.  My uncle cut it from a nearby woods and I loved its fresh smell, also new to me.  A stern glance from him quieted us down and my grandmother read the Christmas story from The Book of Matthew.

The ancient story evoked a new found sense of awe at the holiness of this night as I gazed at the little wooden creche and the figures carved by my father.  I felt the love in the room and understood that it had something to do with this sacred child whose birth we were celebrating.

All right, Jesus loved me, so did God, but what about Santa? After all, he was the one to fill the stocking I’d hung carefully in between my cousin’s on the mantle under the portrait of our great-great grandmother.  All of our stockings had been knitted for us by an elderly relative and had a scene of Santa on one side and a reindeer on the other with little bells that jingled when I lifted it.  A reminder of his imminent arrival.

After the stockings were hung and The Night before Christmas read, we heard sleigh bells ringing far off in the meadow.  Good heavens, Santa was that close.  We tumbled over each other in our haste to get to bed lest the old guy should discover us still up and promptly leave.  Touchy fellow, peculiar ways, but ours was not to question why.  We scampered under the covers and did not dare to peep until dawn.

After that, it was every child for him or herself.  We launched out of bed, vying to be the first one to wish each other “Christmas Gift!” then paced about in acute impatience while the adults had a leisurely breakfast.  Who could eat at a time like this?  And dressed with slow, careful deliberation.  I was wearing the same clothes I’d donned two days ago.  As for bathing, only under duress.

We practically gave up all hope of ever seeing inside the front room and paced outside the closed double doors where no child could enter until everyone had gathered.  Mommom, her blue eyes twinkling, reported that Santa had come and relieved our troubled minds.  Uncle RW told us he’d seen reindeer hoof prints in the snow on the roof of the house.  Imagine that.  We never once questioned what he’d been doing on the roof.  Not that this would make the slightest difference if we eked out our days waiting in the hall.

Then, glory hallelujah, the family assembled and lined up according to age, as required by the law of our clan.  The all-important doors opened.  Great was our wonder.  There was the tree lit, the stash of presents sorted into individual piles, and the stockings filled.  Mine bulged with promise.  Praise be!  The old fellow was extremely tolerant.  I’d truly feared to see those switches.

It’s ages later now and Mommom has gone on before us.  Lining up outside those omnipotent doors with my brother, cousins, parents, aunt, uncle and her at the end is a distant cherished memory.  Christmas is a place I return to in my thoughts whenever I need the sense of joy and reassurance it brings.  And I remember that time so long ago when my brother and I despaired of snow.

*Pics of Chapel Hill

The Renewal of Life


“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”  ~Ruth Stout

When I was 6 yrs old, our family had recently returned from Taiwan where my parents taught English for 3 yrs. One of my earliest Easter memories is of finding wonderful colored eggs hidden in a yard filled with crocus and daffodils.  Magical.

Is there anything at Easter quite like your first egg hunt or  basket full of brightly dyed eggs? I love the abundant new life in spring and the message of hope that is Easter.

No matter how long winter lasts, eventually spring will come and there’s no where more lovely to greet it than in the Shenandoah Valley.  This Easter weekend the weather is glorious, which means I’m spending much of it in the garden with my daughter, Elise,  and whoever else happens by.  We planted potatoes, a tradition on Good Friday.   All at once it seems everything needs to be done in the garden, weeding, mulching, planting…each year I swear I’m gonna pace myself, and each year I wear myself out. zzzzzz…

“Yes, in the poor man’s garden grow

Far more than herbs and flowers—

Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,

And joy for weary hours.” ~ Mary Howitt

Years ago, my dear grandmother gave me a start of these Virginia Bluebells and they’ve spread happily in the shade of evergreens and an old maple tree. “Some flowers are lovely only to the eye, others are lovely to the heart.”

“The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.”  ~Robert Flatt

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. ” ~Douglas Horton

“On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer.”  ~Douglas Horton

“For I remember it is Easter morn, And life and love and peace are all new born. “~Alice Freeman Palmer

A Host of Golden Daffodils


A wonderful childhood memory of mine is arriving home after church one Sunday to find a clump of yellow daffodils, beaded with rain,  blooming beside the back door.  New flowers to me because I’d spent my early years in Taiwan where my parents both taught English.  We had a banana tree there, but no daffodils.   Rushing to the flowers in delight, I buried my face in the moist petals and breathed in the essence of spring.  To this day, nothing says spring to me like the fragrance of a simple  daffodil.

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” ~Gertrude S. Wister  *I totally get this quote 🙂

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. ” ~ William Wordsworth

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty.” ~ Shakespeare

“It is daffodil time, so the robins all cry, For the sun’s a big daffodil up in the sky, And when down the midnight the owl call “to-whoo”! Why, then the round moon is a daffodil too; Now sheer to the bough-tops the sap starts to climb, So, merry my masters, it’s daffodil time.”

~ Clinton Scollard

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Its loveliness increases. It will never

Pass into nothingness….Such the sun, the moon.

Trees old and young; sprouting a shady boon For simple sheep; such are daffodils With the green world they live in.”  ~John Keats

“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.” ~ Lydia M. Child

“It is not raining rain to me,

It’s raining daffodils;

In every dimpled drop I see

Wild flowers on the hill.” ~ Robert Loveman


“If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.”  ~Terri Guilleme
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*My tiny pom-poo and faithful friend Sadie Sue.