February is the month to honor Asian literature…at least for me.

Well, February is around the corner and those who know me, know that February is a bit special to me. To make a long story short, I was in an accident back in college and as a result of it I spent about 4 weeks mostly couch bound reading and watching reruns of M*A*S*H. One of the books I received in the hospital was The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. This book consumed me. I fell in love, and for the next few years I made a ritual of reading it every year as a reminder of how lucky I have been.

Well, as much as I love this story, after a few years I knew it quite well and decided to find something new. But Tan had made her mark.  I found that the only thing that I wanted to read was that book, or something like it. Now it has become this subconscious need. Every year as the weather really starts to get cold and the days of the new year trickle by into February, I find myself craving Asian Literature. The Joy Luck Club, The Good Earth, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother; the list goes on.

As a result for the entire month of February I plan to feature Asian writers and literature about Asian history, and in the case of The Backyard Bumpkin, Asian recipes in honor of my little bit of craziness. There will be one exception, but I will leave that as a surprise. 🙂


Thank you all for indulging my obsession. I hope you enjoy the reviews, commentary and recipes this month, and in case no one has wished it to you yet, Happy Year of the Dragon! (Chinese New Year was January 23rd.)

image courtesy of http://www.chinapage.com

Readers who are writers

For those of  you who are not only readers but also writers, this is the 11th hour. Tomorrow begins the caffeine fueled, gut wrenching, brain frying, exhaustion inducing month of November also known as:

National Novel Writing Month!

a.k.a NaNoWriMo

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here is the description from their Facebook Page:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

This will be my 3rd year participating in NaNoWriMo and I must be honest, I feel more prepared than ever! My first year I almost made it. (I missed it by like 1778 words.) Last year (first year with an infant) I only put out 2,250 words (boo.) But this year I am picking back up the story I failed on last year armed with a new plan, much better character development, and a “must make it this year” attitude.

I have all of my character names set up, I have an outline of events planned, I have giant post-it after giant posit up on my office walls detailing ever minutia of detail about every character’s personality. I really feel like tomorrow I will be ready to go.

My title: The Black Velvet Band


On the road to Galway she waits for you,
You’d think her the queen of the land.
Her hair slung over her shoulder,
Tied up in a black velvet band.

Her beauty is unmissable,
Her charm melts every man’s heart.
She is sly, and devious, and without remorse,
And she tears weaker men apart.

She moves as if she were a whisper,
And is gone as quick as a breeze.
She takes what she wants,
She never looks back,
But her presence does nothing but please.

Beware of the girl with the fiery hair,
Whom is wandering across the land,
Her beauty surpasses,
She’s a liar, this lass is,
She the head of the Black Velvet Band.

I will of course keep you posed on the progress.


Is any one else out there doing NaNoWriMo this year? What is your story called? What is it about? How have you been preparing? Hit me up with the details, I would love to hear about it.


Enjoy your last night writers! Tomorrow is Doomsday.