Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

“What was the first book that has inspired you to read?”

Sweet Valley ConfidentialBecause March is a National Reading Month, let me feature the series of books that had first inspired me to read when I was thirteen as my blog this month. Who will ever forget the fictional identical twins who are radically different in terms of interest, character, and choice of fashion?  We followed them from their grammar school all through their high school and college years and we witnessed their heartbreaks, frustrations, happy times, and tears together with their friends. Aren’t we intrigued to know how they have fared ten years later? Who ended up with whom? Who got married? Who moved out? Who died? Well, who would have guessed that Jessica Wakefield ended up being married to Todd Wilkins, the long-time ex-boyfriend of her twin sister Elizabeth Wakefield? And who would have guessed that Elizabeth would end up with the guy she hated since she was a kid and whom Sweet Valley considered as The Bully and Snob: Bruce Patman! We all want Elizabeth and Todd forever, but a great story will always surprise us with the unexpected turn of events. Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later left me with a feeling in the doldrums thinking that I might not be able to hear from these characters again after reading this book. Francine Pascal was very successful to create characters that are realistic that you can’t stop thinking about them in your everyday life. I want more books from Sweet Valley even when the characters turn 40 and have kids of their own. Why Sweet Valley? Well, it came into my life naturally. We had plenty of this collection in our library in high school and since I couldn’t afford to buy my own book during those times, I had my alma mater to thank for. It seemed I grew up in Sweet Valley! How about you? What was the first book that has inspired you to read?

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The Secret

“The life you have today is a reflection of what you’ve been thinking from the past.”

The Secret

It was not so hard writing The Confessions of a Shy Girl for me, because it says a lot about my life during my teen years. To write something, you have to write what you know: This is the best way to write as a beginner novelist.

In my first novel, Sophia has a hard time blending in with the crowd, not because of a bully, but because of her lack of confidence in herself. She is so shy, she lacks self-esteem, and she does not believe in her capabilities, even if for others she is very artistic. Her mind is attracting every bully and embarrassing encounters in her life, but she has her Dad, the attention of her crush, and a new friend, so life is not that bad after all. The nature of life is good, and it’s meant to be enjoyed, but to be happy or sad, it depends upon our choice. Well, how? Our life depends upon the way we think: this is what the book The Secret is all about.

I was once like you: unconfident, incompetent, timid, taciturn, a wallflower. I did not believe that anybody likes me; thus I didn’t have many friends. Our poverty had caused me a lot of feelings of dejection that I believed if I have to share my life with anyone, he will never accept me for what I am and what I’ve got; thus I grew up even poorer and more miserable than I’ve thought. Though I was highly imaginative, I didn’t believe in dreams. I always thought that abundance belongs to a few, and I just wasn’t one among them because I wasn’t born rich. I used to believe that in life, somebody’s got to be rich, and somebody’s got to be poor. Or somebody’s got to be lonely while some have to be happy. When I read my diary when I was a teenager, I always encounter the statement: “I am a nobody.” “I have nothing.” “I’m just no good.” And it just wasn’t right.  Wallowing at the corner of your bedroom won’t send a signal up above that you are someone to pity at. It won’t send a signal to God that you’re in a dire need of help. Crying and feeling lonely is not a call saying, “Hey Master, you’ve forgotten that you have a child down here who‘s lonely.” How can God help you when he had already given you everything? He did not plan for you to be lonely and poor. It was your choice. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t do you any good, because nobody can help yourself better than you do. Help yourself by thinking good, feeling good, and behaving like your dreams are right in front of you now. Well, you might be asking, “How did being lonely become my choice?” “Did I choose my father to die?” “And how did I attract my failing mark in Algebra? I wanted nothing from all of those.” Well, this is a question that this book has to answer. My life has changed when I stumbled upon the greatest gift from a friend: it’s The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

The secret is in the power of your thinking. If you believe that you’re a trash, and nobody likes you, then guess what, you become a trash. The secret is to practice positive vibes coming into your mind. The secret is to be thankful in everything you have right now. Try to see the world as a better place to live in and do not focus on your failures, mischief, and the things that others have that you don’t have. Start your day with a positive thinking that everything will be all right. Fill you mind with thoughts of affirmations and feel it as if it was your own. The life you have today is a reflection of what you’ve been thinking from the past. When I read about this book, I tried to reminisce what I was thinking from the past. I wanted to write. I wanted to have my own website someday. I wanted to live in one apartment independently. I wanted to work in an office of a big company. That’s all what I can recall. These are thoughts that I did not force to imbibe in my memory. I didn’t know about the secret back then. I know I just wanted them. I didn’t know it will come true, yet to my surprise, these are all what I have in my life right now. I also realized that never did I imagine myself being with a man that I loved, so I wasn’t in a relationship for a few years. I didn’t dream of having one big family, and now I’m happy being single. Have I known about the secret earlier, I should have thought big enough like: having my own condo, traveling to different countries, or having my soulmate. But it’s not yet too late, right? You can have it too. Whether you believe it or not, this book works wonders. It has changed the lives of so many and Rhonda Byrne has touched the hearts of so many. It is now a worldwide bestseller. Don’t be left behind. Change the way you think, change your life now.

The Longest Ride

“A love that continues to follow us in the longest ride we have called life.”

The Longest RideThe story follows the lives of two loving couples who stand by each other’s side through thick and thin and until death claims the life of the other. Ira Levinson is depressed to have lost his wife and lives to be a hermit in his remaining years. Luke Collins is a bullrider who is adamant to go on with his rodeo circuit despite being injured, to save the financial stability of his ranch. Without wanting to worry the love of his life Sophia Danko, he makes his concussion a secret but he later confesses to her the implications it might cost him to ride again. Sophia threatens to end their relationship if he insists on riding again and through the dilemma, Luke decides to quit riding. On one date, the couple finds a crashed car with Ira inside. They rescue him and Ira requested the couple to  keep his love letter to Ruth found in his car. When the couple visits Ira in the hospital to check his condition, Ira asks Sophia to read the love letter to him. Reading the letter, Luke and Sophia are moved to Ira’s undying love with his wife. The couple soon finds out in the news that Ira wasn’t able to make it in the hospital. After Ira’s death, an auction is held for all of Ira’s properties since he and Ruth didn’t have children who will inherit them. The priced properties mainly consist of the art collection of his wife Ruth and included in those collection is Ruth’s portrait, a gift from one of Ruth’s students who was once very special to her. Luke bids on this first item despite the apparent semblance that it was a work of an amateur and nobody in the room wants it. Luke considers the portrait to be very special since it was the painting that was very important to Ira and he thinks that it would connect them to his memory. After winning the bid, the will is revealed by Ira’s lawyer that whoever wins the portrait of Ruth will get all of the remaining collection. A story which reminds us once again that material things, no matter how precious it is to us, are nothing compared to the ageless love we have with our better half. A love that continues to follow us in the longest ride we have called life.

Fortune Telling

“It’s not the superstitious belief, the lucky gems, or the lines on the palm in our hand that creates our life. We create them through what we think, believe, and do with our lives.”

Fortune Telling It has been said that the new age phenomenon brings about changes in our luck of love, career, business, studies, and health. February 5 marks the 2019 Chinese New Year and just like any other, I couldn’t help but anticipate the auspicious wave of success, prosperity and growth that was certain to please almost everyone. I was born in the year of the horse and according to feng shui, a dragon tortoise on my work desk will enhance my career, wearing a jade cicada could help fend off unwanted office politics, 6 crystal balls will improve harmony at home, Chi Lin will enhance good study luck, lucky gemstones are red jasper, amethyst, rose quartz and jade, and displaying a horse figurine at the south area will activate the Golden Deity the horse-born people acquires (whatever!). So I have a problem to solve: where are north, east, west, and south located? I need to buy a compass to tell where on earth is south at home because it is the lucky direction for the horse-born.

Burn prosperity candles in different colors at 11:30pm and blow them off at exactly 12:00am. Whichever will be the smallest one will give you luck that candle brings for the whole-year round. Offer 12 different kinds of round-shaped fruit to attract prosperity and serve fish and dumplings to attract wealth and abundance at home. I was first interested in new age books when I played the tarot card one afternoon. I learned about the Celtic- Cross spread (though it was just a game, and I didn’t take it seriously) and my favorite major arcana card was The Star and The Wheel of Fortune. When these cards come up in a reading, I always asks myself “Is this true?” I’d like to believe it. When I was in Hong Kong, my mother took me to a fortune teller and had my face and palms read. The fortune teller told me that I have intellectual capabilities, but I get so weakly sentimental even on common tribulations. She said that I would travel to five different countries which statement, I believed was very ironic because I never had any plans to work abroad. She said that I would be lucky in business ventures, which was again very ironic because I didn’t even love talking to people, let alone had a flair on business ventures. She said that I would attract a married man, but I just laughed it off because I did not believe it. She said, I have simple dreams and wishes in life just like having my own small house and having a permanent job, but I would get almost all of the things that everybody dreams of. What was alarming was the fact that she told me I would never have true friends and the only best friends I would have would be my own family no matter how good and nice I am to people around me. Ouch that hurts a lot. It cuts me to the quick. Am I going to believe this? Why me? The secret was to concentrate on things other than love. But who will ever grow without any friendship?

When I was younger, I believed in the high power of dreams. It is how God communicates to us. We are warned by dreams and signs, and it is one way to develop our latent powers and intuition. One night, I dreamed that I was at my mother’s funeral. I kept asking my brothers how did she die? They told me she had a stroke. I woke up at 6 am. and called her up immediately. I did not tell her about the dream. I just asked her if she’s OK. Then she told me, “Jeng, I nearly died last night. I couldn’t breath, and I couldn’t move my fingers.” Then I told her, “Come home, and we’ll see a doctor.”

Still can’t get enough? Well try numerology. It’s 2019, and I’m in Cycle 4 as far as I know. How did I get it? September 29 is my birthday. Add the month and day of your birth and add it to the present year, then simplify it to a single digit. That’s 9 + 2 + 9 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 8 (I used the year 2018 because I did not have my birthday for 2019 yet). How are we in mathematics? Did you get 31? Then simplify, 3 + 1 = 4. I am in Cycle 4. Cycle 4 is the work and career cycle and I’ve just been hired as a government employee recently, at last after 6 years of not reporting to an office. This is the best busiest cycle and the best time of my career. Does that mean, I can pursue any long-term goals I had in mind for the past years? Well then again, I’d like to believe it, but before you call me lunatic, so far I haven’t yet tried the Yes/No oracle and the divination of apples on Halloween but I am interested in studies on necromancy, oneiromancy, pyromancy, tasseography, or the tablets of  fate. Join me in my study by reading The Little Giant Encyclopedia’s Fortune Telling by The Diagram Group. Let’s have fun!

 These have nothing to do in what I believe in science and technology, or the zodiacs, or the clairvoyance. I still believe that our deep faith in ourselves is what makes things happen. I believe that the law of attraction comes from the power of the mind. We attract to our life whatever we give our attention, energy and focus to, whether positive or negative. If we believe that something will happen, then we get more of it. But if not, then we get nothing. The universe responds to what we vibrate, so it’s not the superstitious belief, the lucky gems, or the lines on the palm in our hand that creates our life. We create them through what we think, believe, and do with our lives. Keep the fate.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Philo of Alexandria, Philosopher (Circa 20 BC-AD 50)

“When you are beginning to create intentionally, it is often better to focus at one thing at a time. With practice, you will have great power to harness your energy, and then you will be able to focus at many things at the one time.” – Rhonda Byrne, The Secret Daily Teachings

Confessions Of A Shy Girl

“One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart.”

Click to buy this book.
Click to buy this book.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! Today, I will feature the first book that I have written and was published in December 2013, the Confessions Of A Shy Girl. It is a coming-of-age novel about a new girl in town who struggles everyday life in her new school and environment trying to fit in and stand out. Like any young girl, she falls for a guy whom her bully is interested in. Her demeanor to be the class’s pushover brings her to face a challenge in a beauty and brain competition, one she has never done in her life before. But with all the courage she could muster, she accepts the challenge that unexpectedly unfolds her into a better woman that she is and luckily captivates the man of her dreams.

It was not hard for me to write my first novel because I had chosen a story that is closely related to what I had in my youth and a character similar to who I was when I was in high school. One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart. This is what I know and this is what I feel. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the character you created, and that was just a cinch because I feel for the protagonist and I know the rest of my characters as well. As a writer, you don’t have to know everything. You just need to have that passion and discipline. Everybody has a story to tell. There’s always something inside us waiting to come out and feelings longing to be expressed. What is the first story that you have written in your life? It doesn’t have to be a book. It could be a composition you had as a sit work in your English class. It could be a term paper about your life ten years from now or a diary about your fears, feelings, and frustrations that you can’t tell your friends and parents because you’re afraid that they would reject you. Write something today. Write a page everyday. Write in your diary. Write a letter to your Mom expressing your love. Make someone happy by sending them a thank-you note or a get-well-soon note. Write about the weather. Write about your dreams. The book you have read is a must-read and the movie you have watched is spectacular. Why don’t you write something about it? Write and see where your imagination takes you. Who knows someday, you’ll become a writer? A new book among millions is dying to come out from inside of you. And wordsmith, I can’t wait for that best seller!