Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My older sister Lissy, on her 5th birthday:
Her daughter, Lily, on her 5th birthday:

hoping for happily ever after

So instead of working diligently on the illustrations for my new novel, I am in Upstate NY making pink princess cupcakes:
for my niece's birthday party:
I had slight twinges of guilt leaving my studio as I do NEED to get this book done but my niece only turns five once and, honestly, I couldn't take the bathroom renovation anymore. There is only so long I can stand stand the dust, loud noises, and looking at this:

But before I fled, I did do this:
The gold paint is not reproducing well in the photo, but I think the cover might be done. I'm not sure, I'm letting it sit and when I come back I'll decide if it's finished. If I'm lucky, when I get back the bathroom will decide it's finished as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Niece: Why is there a rainbow?
Me: When the sun is shining and it rains, sometimes it makes a rainbow.
Niece: So there's a rainbow when the sky is crying because it's happy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

no excuses

There are more times than I like to admit that I look at my past work with twinges of regret. While flaws due to talent, or rather lack of, are disheartening they are in a way more acceptable than the ones that cause me to shake my head. "If I had only been less distracted, had more time," I think to myself, "that book would've have been so much better."

And those are laments I refuse to have about my next book. At New Year's, one of my resolutions was to make my new novel the best work I've ever done.

So I am doing my best to sway the scale in my desired direction. I'm pulling out all the stops for this book, from the writing to the cover (which I am now working on, photo), I am taking pains as I have never been able to before. If time, focus, passion (and possibly production values--crossing my fingers for some really great features, including color illos on the inside) can do it, my book should be an object of person pride--something that epitomizes the best I could possibly do. Or at least something that doesn’t make me cringe.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Alvina tagged me for this, so here i go...

The rules of the meme get posted at the beginning. Each person answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the blogger then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?
Getting these bookshelves built:

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
1. goto to the gym
2. start painting the cover for my new novel
3. call dell to fix my computer (again)
4. write an outline/proposal for "Year Of The Tiger"
5. buy a sleeping beauty cake mold so I can make a princess cake for my niece's birthday

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. candied ginger
2. blackberries
3. cherries
4. fuji apples
5. snap pea crisps

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. donate to cancer research
2. make a series of grants for aspiring artists, awarding the first to any of my talented friends who are struggling
3. get or build a nice house with a yard
4. open a cupcake bakery/children's bookstore/art gallery/theatre
5. take time off to learn how to cake decorate, taiko drum, and ride a vespa

What are five of your bad habits?
1. eating while reading and vice versa
2. internet shopping
3. speaking really fast
4. avoiding confrontation
5. getting lost and being late

What are five places where you have lived?
1. New Hartford, NY
2. Providence, RI
3. Somerville, MA
4. Westwood, CA
5. Montreal, Canada

What are five jobs you’ve had?
1. giftware designer (making t-shirts that said "World's Best Dad")
2. children's book specialist (which is to say, just a bookseller) at Curious George Goes to Wordsworth Bookstore
3. beer menu designer
4. worker at a fast food place called "China Gourmet"
5. b/w photography teaching assistant for RISD Continuing Ed.

Let's see, I tag, um...anyone else who reads this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I meant to post this a while ago, but forgot. However, my fusion friend Paula Yoo just sent me the link again:


It is a very, very neat project--photographic recreations of children's drawings from Korea. I completely heart it...and I want to get some of the photos for my wall.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Story of Paint

I don't know about the rest of the illustrators in the world, but I get very attached to my paint. I've used the same brand for the last 13 years and I love it. I know how it will mix and blend and dry.

So, I got very upset when my local art store stopped carrying it. Worse yet, I couldn't order it, couldn't find it online...nothing! Had I imagined Turner Design Gouache into existence? Finally, after hours of searching I found a phone number and address of the manufacturing company, located in NYC.

Which began a series of somewhat sketchy phone calls. Yes, they could sell me the paint, a woman with a strong accent Asian accent said to me. I could send her an e-mail, but she wouldn't be able to reply because she didn't have Internet access (?). It would be best if I came to pick the paint up in person. I could leave the payment with the guy in front and he'd give me the package. Oh, and could I pay in cash?

What was this, drugs? I was going to NYC anyway, so even though I thought it was odd, I said yes to all of her requests. Even with fears of some sort of random police paint bust.

The truth was, I didn't care. I wanted my paint. I needed it. Okay, maybe this paint IS some kind of drug...

But I got it. The actual exchange turned out to be fairly anti-climatic, the woman was actually a quite friendly Thai artist living in a nice condo building. The only unexpected thing was that my paint weighed about 20 pounds. I had been so worried about the paint's future availability that perhaps I overbought a bit. Oh well, at least I know it will be a while before I have to go through this again!

cool times in NYC

So my recent visit to New York was full of fun, adventure and friends! It was really hot, over 80 degrees. I thought I would melt in the street. But I persisted and the social coolness kept me solid.

First, I had a Broadway show to see. Alvina and I decided that for our birthdays we would buy each other tickets to go see MARY POPPINS!

The Mary Poppins books were some of my favorite as a child, so much so that I even loved the Disney movie (though I was confused that they made her so nice). If you remember in Year of the Dog, Lissy reads Mary Poppins before we go to sleep on Chinese New Year's Eve, while I read B is for Betsy. Let's just say that Mary Poppins was quickly handed down!

So, I was thrilled to go to the show. This is Alvina and I trying to take our picture with the Mary Poppin's marquee:

We finally gave up and I just took a picture of the marquee without us in it. Obviously, I am still mastering the iphone camera--like my big thumb shadow?

The show was great and I got to blab all about it the next morning at breakfast at Pastis. Apparently, this place is featured in Sex and the City so this added to my very cool and cosmopolitan feeling.
Though, maybe it was because of the company I was with. My friend, illustrator Aaron Meshon joined me and his uber-success is really amazing.
This past winter, his art was all over Boston as part of an ad campaign for NYC. And I really mean it was everywhere--every bus stop, subway station--you looked and there was Aaron! I definitely didn't know if I was cool enough to hang out with him.
But then I had that talk at the Asian American Writer's Workshop to give, the whole reason why I made the trip to NYC. It was with amazing authors Janet Wong (not pictured), An Na and David Yoo (Alvina moderated) and I KNOW I am not cool enough to hang out with them. But it was kind of neat that I was at the same table though.

Kind of like how my visit to NYC was pretty neat too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

fun with friends

I have decided that if my children's book career fails, I am going to go to pastry school and become a cake decorator. Really, a cupcake decorater. Or maybe just a cupcake maker. Obviously, I'm hoping that children's books continues to work for me, but I thought it would be nice to prepare with a cheerful Plan B.

So, in the case that Plan B must be put into action, I've been doing some self-teaching. Most recently, some of my fellow blue rose girls got together for a belated birthday tea party...which I insisted on making cupcakes for. I was determined to master a whipped chocolate ganache frosting and make them my best cupcakes ever.

I didn't think I had succeeded but when I put the cupcakes on Libby's beautiful, antique dinnerware, I was suddenly charmed. They looked so great! Almost like a magazine! I had real potential, maybe I should switch Plan B to Plan A! I was quite excited...
until I realized that it was not my cupcakes, but Libby's plates that were the magic. They were so gorgeous that even the ugliest cake would have looked lovely. It makes me wonder if my illustrations would look better served on them too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Janet Wong

A couple of weeks ago I got to see my friend, the indomitable Janet Wong speak at the North Shore Reading Council. To me, indomitable is the perfect adjective to descibe Janet. Within an hour of conversation, she had convinced:

-me to write The Year of the Tiger
-me to create product designs and sell them on my website
-Elaine to get her poetry published
-and a visiting friend to illustrate picturebooks

And she hadn't even started her formal presentation yet!

Which, as always, was great. Janet is one of those speakers that doesn't need a formal speech prepared or ordered slides--she is one of the few authors I know who can just stand,speak and be completely engaging and fun. She and her talk is much like her poetry-- direct, thoughtful, intelligent, sometimes sad,and sometimes hilarious but at all times mesmerizing.

*And you can meet Janet in NYC, at the event below! Come, I guarantee by the time she has finished speaking, you will be convinced into starting your own children's book empire...

Going to NYC!

Panel: Fusion Stories: Next-Gen Asian American Books for Young Readers
On Thursday, June 5, 7pm
@ The Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor
(btwn Broadway & 5th Avenue)

Parents and teachers, having trouble finding Young Adult novels that speak to you and your kids? Fusion Stories is a new website that aims to tell Asian American stories for this generation of young readers. These aren't traditional tales set in Asia or stories of hard-scrabbling immigrants. Instead, Fusion Stories offers fun, relatable stories about teen-dating, growing up biracial, eyelid surgery, and just feeling like you don't fit in. Fusion novelists Grace Lin, An Na, Janet Wong and David Yoo talk about the next generation of young adult literature featuring Asian American characters. Bring your kids for treats from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory!

Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of Year of The Dog (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2005) and over a dozen books such as The Ugly Vegetables (Charlesbridge Publishing, 1999) and Dim Sum For Everyone! (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2001). While Grace's books cover the Asian-American experience, she believes that "books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal." Year of The Rat (Little, Brown Young Readers) continues the story of Grace, a Taiwanese American girl, as she navigates the challenges of growing up "different" in an upstate New York community.

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in Southern California. She is the author Wait For Me (Penguin, 2006) and A Step From Heaven (Penguin, 2001), a Michael L. Printz Award winner and National Book Award Finalist. In her latest, The Fold (Penguin, 2008), Joyce Kang never felt pretty enough especially when compared to her older sister, but when her plastic surgery crazed aunt offers her the chance of a lifetime - to change her eyes forever - Joyce must decide what she believes is beautiful.

Janet Wong is the author of eighteen books for children, mainly picture books and poetry collections, including The Dumpster Diver (Candlewick Press, 2007) and TWIST: Yoga Poems (McElderry/Simon and Schuster, 2007). A former lawyer, she chose to write because she wanted to "do something important - and couldn't think of anything more important than working with children." In Minn and Jakes Almost Terrible Summer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), we learn that Jake has a Korean grandmother, which makes him one-quarter Korean, or "Quarpa," as he likes to call it.

David Yoo is the author of Girls For Breakfast (Random House, 2005), which was named a NYPL Best Book for Teens and a Booksense Pick, and Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Hyperion, Sept 2008). In Stop Me a resigned loser Albert Kim captures the affection of his dream girl Mia, only to get bumped to the sidelines when Mia's uber-popular ex, Ryan, gets cancer. David teaches adult fiction workshops at the Gotham Writers Workshop and writes a monthly column in Korean Journal.

Co-sponsored by the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

$5 suggested donation; open to the public