Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Congratulations, it's a book

Even though Amazon has it as not yet released, my editor sent me bound and finished copy of "The Year of the Dog" (thanks, Alvina!). Well, as Anne of Green Gables would say, this marks an epoch of my life.

This book is my first novel. So, it is almost as if I am getting a book published for the 1st time. I can no longer sport my jaded "been around the block" attitude. It's like I'm a new mom, again.

Because I imagine creating books is a bit like the birthing process. You have the exciting conception with its ecstasy of inspiration, the long publishing pregnancy (Is something wrong with the book? What do you mean it needs more dialogue?) and then the climatic birth (Congratulations, it's a book!).

And new babies do get attention. I'm a little nervous about the attention my new baby will get. What will people think of it? I love it, Robert loves it, my family loves it. But of course, we are a bit biased.

So, I tremble in fear of the judgment of impartial reviewers. I realize that book reviews are somewhat like sending in your child's college application to Harvard. A few get that starred entrance. Others are politely waitlisted with a tepid response. And then, some are flatly rejected.

However, an Ivy League education is no guarantee of future success...just like a starred review. I have to remember that. I just have to believe that I created my book with the best that I had in me and in the end, that is all I can do.

Still, I hope the reviews don't give my book diaper rash.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ode to obuchowski

A couple of weeks ago I received and e-mail from my editor of "The Year of the Dog" (my first novel). "We're going to push the release date of your book up," she wrote me, "Instead of February as planned, we're going to release Dec. 20th--so there's time for it to get to the stores before Chinese New Year."

"Great," I thought, "It's coming out sooner." Then I realized, it's coming out sooner.

Quickly, I e-mailed my web genius friend Jon Obuchowski.

"Hey, Jon," I write, "Remember how I wanted my new website to launch with the release of my book? Well the release is Dec. 20th..."

I could hear the screams through cyberspace.

But he did it. The new website (go and see is up and running. Today. With the release of my book. Even after the long nights of the robertssnow website, Jon continued to burn the midnight oil on


Sunday, December 11, 2005

i'm the illustrator

For the past 3 years, Ki-Ki and I have sold my books at a booth at the RISD Alumni sale. It's been fun, lucrative and puzzling.

The puzzling part is because everytime a buyer asked to get a book autographed they always asked Ki-Ki to sign it. Well, not every time--but 8 out of 10 (we counted). People assumed she was Grace Lin. Apparently, she looks more like a children's book illustrator than me.

This was issue we pondered deeply. Why? Was it her demeanor? Did she act more friendly? Younger? Older? What do people think children's book illustrators look like? Do they think they are soft, granny-like ladies with grey hair? Sexy, thin a la Teri Hatcher in Desperate Housewives? Whatever they think, Ki-Ki looks more like it than me.

So, this year we decided to challenge their preconceived notions and labeled ourselves.

This was quite successful. In fact, I think we sold more books because so many people were amused by our shirts.

Friday, December 2, 2005

blah, blah, blog

The other day, I was the guest for the Foundation for Children's Books Conversations With...Author and Illustrator Series. So, it was an open forum conversation with me!

So, I talked a lot. It was quite nice actually. I'm never confident about which rung I am on the ladder of my career but this talk let me look down and see how high I've climbed. Others have climbed (much) higher and faster ( and some people get the elevator), but my view isn't too bad.

We spoke mainly about my books and Robert's Snow, but during the converation we also discussed my blog.

Which brings up the question, why do I blog? Why am I laying bare so many details of my life and soul to a faceless audience?

Perhaps it's therapy. But I also think it's because as an author I am compelled to write down the moments that are important to me. And to share them.

I guess, somehow, it's not enough for me to write and paint things and stick them under my bed. I feel a need to connect to someone no matter how few. I think that is the way it is when you are in the creative field. It's not enough just to write a book, you want it to be published--you want people to read it. The truth is creation is incomplete unless it's shared.

It's like the old philosphical question, if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one knows about it, did it really fall? Who knows? The truth is if no one sees it or hears it, no one cares. And in a way, it might as well not exist. I am like a mushroom in that forest. Sometimes I get trampled on, sometimes I grow but I want to feel like I exist. I want to feel like it matters. That I matter.

Seems like a desire worth blogging for.