First Impressions: a Guest Blog by @edenbaylee

Author Profile

Author Profile

eden baylee

Junying has graciously given me space to guest blog about my latest book, Stranger at Sunset. It’s my first mystery novel and a departure from a genre I’ve become known for—literary erotica.

I’m thrilled to be here because Junying and I have been friends for some time now. We have many things in common—a love of food, travel, and of course—books, because we are both writers. Any one of these subjects would have made an ideal blog topic, but then …

I remembered something about Junying, which I had forgotten. And I thought it might be even more fascinating for her readers to learn my first impression of her.

We met online at the end of 2011, and I remember Junying intimidated me at first.

It had nothing to do with her, of course, as most first impressions are made up of our own biases and insecurities. It’s even more difficult in the virtual world because we lack the full use of our senses when we “meet” someone. We don’t really see or hear them except through photos and words on a page. Based on very little, we make judgments of people that help us decide if we want to continue or not continue a relationship.

Stranger at Sunset? Junying during one of her travels

Stranger at Sunset? Junying during one of her travels

By the time I met Junying, she had already written two books and was penning her third in her Journey to the West trilogy. She was an accomplished chef, world traveler, multi-lingual, a skilled photographer, and a scholar. In other words—a very talented, successful woman.

It made me wonder if I would measure up to be her friend. I laugh now because my first impression of Junying changed once we spoke online via emails. I immediately felt a kinship with her and knew we would become fast friends.

First impressions tie into my book because the story is built on the concept of people meeting each other, some for the very first time.

I explore how initial impressions of people can be inaccurate by creating an uncertain atmosphere at a beautiful Jamaican resort. There is tension amongst the small group of vacationers. They are there for a holiday and to enjoy themselves, but tolerating one another is not always easy. Some people are quick to judge others without knowing them, some are more accepting. It’s a fine balance in a group of strangers.

There is conflict, inhibitions, suspicion … and then there is murder.

22570211Stranger at Sunset
is about a cast of characters thrown together in paradise. Their actions and inactions ultimately define who they are. And sometimes, it’s not always what we expect.

I end with a question for readers: Have you ever judged someone based on a first impression and discover you were completely wrong? I know I have. Please feel free to comment and share your stories. I’d love to hear them.

* * *

Thanks Junying for giving me this opportunity to share with your readers. I really enjoyed offering a small piece of the puzzle to my book.

Author Bio

3e652cca138c0ad8956e2a.L._V400236556_SX200_Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Author Links:  WebsiteAmazon Author Page USAmazon UKtwitter @edenbayleeFacebookGoodreadsYouTubePinterest, and LinkedIn

Posted in Author Support, Book Reviews & Excerpts, Reading & Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tracing the Footsteps of My Literary Hero #ThomasHardy Along The Rolling Dorset Hills

Famous Hardy Novel

Famous Hardy Novel

Beeny Cliff

March 1870 – March 1913

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea, 

And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –

The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.
The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away

In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,

As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.
A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,

And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain, 

And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main.
- Still in all its chasmal beauty bulks old Beeny to the sky, 

And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh,

And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?
What if still in chasmal beauty looms that wild weird western shore,

The woman now is – elsewhere – whom the ambling pony bore,

And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and will laugh there nevermore.

Can you picture the scenes painted above by Hardy’s masterful pen?


Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove

As I stood high on the cliff at Lulworth Cove just over a week ago, overlooking the serene English Channel as far as my eyes could reach, I felt Hardy’s presence, not just because our hotel had one of his poems painted on its walls, but also the fact that after a quarter of a century living in the UK, I was at last paying homage to one of my literary heroes, the great English novelist, poet and naturalist, Thomas Hardy. I was finally in Hardy Country where he spent the best part of his life, writing great works, including Far from the Madding Crowd (1874),The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

Hardy's Poem on the wall

Hardy’s Poem on the wall

The poem I cited in the beginning of this blog was written in memory of his first wife Emma Gifford, following his return to Cornwall in March 1913, after her death the previous November. It is, in my view, a very Hardysque representation: The timeless beauty of Nature, the division between land and sea, our love and loss, irretrievable and gone forever. It is a theme that dominated many of his novels and poems – what is in the past cannot be captured and one can not fight his/her fate.

Many years ago in China, I read a few abridged version of his novels. In fact, I spent the last few months of my University days attempting a critical analysis of Jude the Obscure. I do not remember what I wrote in my thesis (an indication of how long ago it has been, rather than a failing memory ;). Sadly, following my move to the UK, I no longer have that piece of writing which earned me my first degree.

Outside the cottage where he was born & raised

Outside the cottage where he was born

In June 2014, as I traced Hardy’s footsteps along the narrow lane leading to his birth place, I contemplated and said to John: “I wish I could see what I wrote back then. It must have been pretty immature and not really high level academic criticism.”

What I do remember is how he explored some of the most memorable, even though tragic characters, like Tess and Jude. Many of Hardy’s protagonists fought against the social circumstances they were born with or had imposed upon them, but ultimately their fate wore them down.

Hardy’s “Novels of Character and Environment”, and most of his other novels, poems and short stories, were set around the historic market town of Dorchester (‘Casterbridge’ in his fiction), near his boyhood home at Higher Bockhampton. We drove to his birth place last Monday but as it turned out, it was only open between Wednesday and Sunday. Some restoration work was being done to the thatched roof and chimney, and we were only able to take a peek at the National Trust property from behind the fence and bushes.

The thatched cottage is being restored

The thatched cottage is being restored

Perhaps it was fate? or just a co-incidence?

IMG_7554We made up for this disappointment by visiting  Dorset County Museum which has a room devoted to celebrating the County’s most famous son, his life and his works. From the landscape that has inspired him, the part-real, part imaginary Wessex, I gained further insight into the man and his achievements. As you can see from the pictures, Hardy’s actual study was transposed to a quiet corner. I happily posed with one of Tess’s smock costumes too.

For John and myself, both English literature graduates, one of the most memorable, artistic moments from Hardy’s works has always been the erotic scene with Natasha Kinski eating strawberries in Roman Polanski’s film of Tess of the d’Urbervilles .

If you happen to be a Hardy fan, what’s yours?

Hardy's Study

Hardy’s Study

Idyllic Dorset in Hardy Country

Literary inspiration: Idyllic Dorset in Hardy Country


Posted in Author Support, Book Reviews & Excerpts, Music & Poetry, Reading & Writing, Travel Logs, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#Translation Can Be Stupid & Comical: #Chinese, #Spanish and #English Signs For Laughs

IMG_4510 2During the interesting and engaging discussions on my post Bilingual Readers: Do You Prefer to Read in English or in Your Mother Tongue?,  I got ‘chatting’ with many smart, multilingual professional translators on LinkedIn including Phyllis Eisenstadt. On learning that we both collect funny translations, she kindly sent me the following texts, which I want to share with my worldwide readers.

These are nominees for the Chevy Nova Award. This is given out in honor of the GM’s fiasco in trying to market the car in Central and South America. “No va” means, of course, in Spanish, “It doesn’t go.”

happy faces 2

1. The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are you lactating?”

Poisonous & harmful garbage

Poisonous & harmful garbage

2. Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from Diarrhea.”

3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer, Electrolux, used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

4. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”

5. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.

6. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

Chinese Year of Horse is not Year of Whores -  BBC, who did you use as your translator?

Chinese Year of Horse is not Year of Whores – BBC, who did you use as your translator?

7. An American T-shirt maker in Miami painted shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read, “I saw the potato” (la papa).

8. Pepsi’s “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave” in Chinese.

9. The Coca Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela,” meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or “Female horse stuffed with wax,” depending upon the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokou kole,” translating into “happiness in the mouth.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.09.18

Hotel for Foreigners; Ironing Room; Printing Centre; Rice & Flour

10. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated into Spanish as “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

11. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its “Fly in leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

Perhaps the funniest of all is a true story. My son has a Chinese friend whom he once had hosted in New York City. A few years later, this friend asked if my son would host a young female Chinese student, and said he would have her send him an introductory email. Evidently, she was using a dictionary when, in the closing paragraph, she wrote, “I would like to become intimate with you.” Obviously, she meant “good friends.” At any rate, my son replied, saying that she would be very welcome here, and he also (gently and tactfully) mentioned the perils of the word “intimate.” Unfortunately, the poor mortified girl never wrote back….

I hope you have enjoyed some of the translations above. Some of you have probably read my previous posts: How Good Are Your Translations? Hilarious Signs Around the World, and Have a Hilarious Holiday in Beijing Which You’ll Never Forget. As you know, China is hotbed for mistranslations hence I have selected more bilingual Chinese and English signs for this post, some of which are kindly pointed out to me by one of my Facebook friend Craig Reynolds.

Thank you, Phyllis and Craig!

All public toilets, or female toilet - how difficult can that be?

Entrance (3); public toilets, or female toilet – how difficult can that be?

Posted in Humour, Social Media & Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jewels of #Yorkshire: #BrimhamRocks, #YorkshireSculpturePark and #TourDeFrance

Life mimicking art

Life mimicking art

Many years have gone by since I lived in West Yorkshire, followed by a short happy year in South Yorkshire. For me, those were seven interesting years in my life, and for John, it was longer, and as a matter of fact, he would identify himself as a proud Yorkshire man-despite being born in Derbyshire!

Last week we returned, briefly, tracing some of the footsteps that we had left behind.

Brimham Rocks , a National Trust property situated on the moors of North Yorkshire, was once my favourite summer outing place when I lived in Leeds. I frequented it with a number of friends; almost all of them have now flown away,  far away.

John and I in 1999

Old Album: John and I in 1999

That was me in Brimham Rocks, 1997

That was me at Brimham Rocks, 1997

With an amazing collection of wonderfully sculpted rock formations, eroded by water, glaciation and wind over the years, it attracts many tourists every year. I remember it being swamped by eager climbers and families back in the 1990s. I have pictures to show that I climbed various rocks myself.

This time it was on a Thursday afternoon, so it was less packed. John and I had a leisurely walk at ground level, breathing in the fresh country air (despite the relentless assault of  pollen making breathing hard work), and marveling at the magnificent views over Nidderdale and Menwith Hill.

A fine day in June 2014

A fine day in June 2014

Another of my old haunts was Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where I used to take visiting friends for a weekend outing. Within the open-air gallery in Yorkshire its collection included works by British and international artists, including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard

Sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard

More than a dozen years since I last visited it, we were greeted by fine June sunshine, as well as exhibitions of American artist Ursula von Rydingsvard and Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. While we happily snapped away at the fabulous works by other artists aforementioned, Ai Wei Wei’s exhibition in the Chapel was off limits for the lens lovers.

Our nostalgic trip to Yorkshire came at an appropriate time when we drove past a number of towns and villages, all excited and ready for the forthcoming Tour de France. As a big fan of the Tour as well as dedicated cyclist, John was especially happy to see signs of the big Event everywhere we went, especially the historical market town of Knaresborough, where yellow bicycles and colourful flags and banners adorned the streets, pubs and shops. When we stopped at our dear friend Nancy Reynolds’ house, she cooked us lunch, and proudly showed us her treasured multi-page guide to the Tour de France.

With Nancy in Leeds, and Sheffield City Centre

With Nancy in Leeds, and Sheffield City Centre

One of the main purposes of this visit was to see friends whom we have not seen for quite a while. Following our short stop in Leeds, we stayed with another couple of old friends in York. I have known Lihong and Chunwei since my Leeds student years. Despite her busy work and badminton schedule, she cooked us a lovely Chinese dinner – being also a spice girl from Chongqing, I expected no less from her :)!

Fabulous reunion with meal and walk in evening sun

Fabulous reunion with meal and walk in evening sun


More sculptures of YSP

On Friday night when we stayed in John’s favourite city in the UK, the place where we first met and fell in love, and shared our first home, we hooked up with John’s former colleague Dee and her musician partner Klive and daughter India. We enjoyed fine dining in a Thai restaurant on Ecclesall Road and caught up on various aspects of our lives.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures I’ve selected – do come back soon as I have more travels and stories to share with you.

Ai Weiwei and his Exhibition

Ai Weiwei and his Exhibition

Roses from Beautiful York :)

Roses from Beautiful York :)


Posted in Arts & Culture, Travel Logs, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments