Friday, June 18, 2010
Dig to All the Way to China With Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Today, the Book Boost welcomes Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She's here to discuss publishing in a foreign land.
Here's what she had to say...
If You Dig Down Far Enough You'll Get to CHINA!
Did your parents ever tell you that when you were a kid? My parents did. I guess it was one way of explaining that the earth is round and there are places very, very far away. I would actually imagine a tunnel all the way to China. My fascination with China only increased when my mother decided it was time for the den to be redecorated in a Chinese motif. Soon we had new upholstery for the studio coach displaying a pattern of Chinese temples and people dressed in elaborate ancient Chinese garb. I loved to stare at the upholstery and the new pictures on the wall, of course, Chinese mountains and ancient buildings. All of this was augmented by the family's love of going out to Chinese restaurants.
Our favorite restaurant in the whole world, aside from The Seafood Grill, (guess what they specialized in?) was the Far East. Located on a second floor in downtown New Haven, it was a world unto itself. First we climbed up a dark wooden staircase to enter a large room with dark wood paneling, old wooden fans swirling slowly in the ceiling, and little china tea cups. There was strange exotic music that sounded like the black keys on our piano and Chinese waiters who barely spoke English. My parents knew exactly what to order: chow main in dark sauce, along with egg foo young.
When I was very tiny I was given the French bread which they served, along with the white rice and the vanilla ice cream. (No one questioned why they served French bread.) Later I graduated to spare ribs and other exotic dishes like Moo Gai Pan.
It took so little to convince my mom, dad, myself, my aunt and my grandmother to believe we were in an exotic setting, eating authentic cuisine. How simple those days were.
As simple as those days were, they still left me with a fascination for China. So when I was approached to consider publishing my first book in The Truth Series: The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) in China, I was over the moon. This was an amazing opportunity. All of my old feelings of longing to somehow be part of this strange land came back to me. I leaped at the offer.
Soon, Professor Chen, an English professor in China, and I were corresponding almost daily. I got to know about him, his family and his way of life. He got to know about me. We were penpals. And we were colleagues on a project. He translated the book beautifully. When we finally had a publisher, www.xjpress.com , we brainstormed many extra passages that appeared in the Chinese version, but not the English version. You see, the editor wanted lots of passages about school work, tests, and holidays. Basically, the book was educational in terms of how kids live here, as well as being a fictional diary written by a girl growing up, experiencing all sorts of emotions and events in her life.
In the fall of 2009 the book was published in China. When I saw the book I was amazed. It is so adorable. Almost every page has art work on it. Also the book is in both English and Chinese. That way, the reader can also practice her English as she reads. If you go to my Truthforgirls page on Facebook I have some pictures of the Chinese version of the book and also the party I had to celebrate the book coming out.
I encourage every author to try to get your book or books published in at least one other country. It is a wonderful way of sharing what you have to offer. Also, it is a great way to feel that you have contributed beyond your own borders. There are agents that specialize in foreign rights. If you are interested pursue them. I have an agent now, but I still have one more edition of The Truth to come out in a foreign land that I secured for myself.
Can you guess where? It is Vietnam. My yearnings for the exotic are beginning to come true. Now I just have to book some flights!
A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for the exciting trip down memory lane, Dr. Barbara! I, too, love foreign lands. My top two faves being Ireland and Japan. Of course, I have thing for Chinese food, though! This sounds like a dream come true situation. Won't you take a moment to tell us more about your newest book?
A girl came to life as the main character in The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). She kept a diary and had a lot to say. She knew a lot about important things that many adults brush aside or forget
As The Truth ends, the girl’s life is changing radically: she is moving to a new town, her mom is having a baby, and her crush on Paul is just about over. She has solved a mystery and has developed a secret way to hold onto the best of herself as she grows up.
In SECRETS, the girl is back again with lots more to talk about in her diary. A new school, a new baby in the family, new friends, everything has changed for her. There is a new crush about to happen, and lots of adventures. There are new best friends and some unsettling social dilemmas. Some of these dilemmas involve boys. There are secrets to share, and secrets to keep to herself. There are problems to solve, and much more to learn.
I can’t believe it. Today we moved and I feel like I’m in a dream. I just keep walking around our new house and wondering when we will go home. It feels so different and strange. The floors are all bare wood. Everything is on one floor. It’s called a ranch house, I don’t know why. My mother said our rugs would look terrible here so she let the people who bought our house keep them. I think she was right. They’re a dark maroon and the walls are a light cream in this house. I don’t think that would look good.
I went to the bathroom three times since we got here and every time I used a different bathroom. I can’t believe it. Three different toilets in the same house! Only my friend Susan, my rich friend, has more than two bathrooms. And now we do. I keep measuring the living room. Would you believe it’s 27 feet by 15 feet? I used my own feet and added a few inches each time I took a step.
When I look out of the windows I expect to see the shrubs and the Hudson house to my left and I don’t. Instead I see a big open field that will probably have houses on it by next year. That’s what my father said. And when I look out to the right I expect to see our clothesline and the Dixon’s driveway. Instead I see rose bushes and a wooden bench, under a tree, that the last owners said we could have.
We had to eat supper off paper plates and use wooden throw-away forks, knives and spoons because our boxes are still packed. My aunt made us a big picnic hamper of food and that’s what we ate for supper.
My brother already started to play with a kid next door who’s about a year older than he is. He’s so lucky. I have no one yet and that’s the truth!
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, nationally know Positive Psychologist, is the creator of The Enchanted Self,® a systematic way of helping to bring more joy, meaning, and purpose into our lives.
Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist for more than 25 years. She has taught elementary school children and was an assistant professor in education in at Boston University. She has been in private practice as a psychologist with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein, in Long Branch, New Jersey, for over 25 years.