Friday, July 30, 2010

fortune cookie friday


“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, July 29, 2010

happy happy

I got a chance to use my birthday gifts for a little get-together with some of my friends.
There were so many things to celebrate: 2 birthdays (Alvina & Libby's), a upcoming baby (Anna's)and my first draft completion that I decided instead of "Happy Birthday, Happy Baby, Happy Book!" I would just make the cupcakes say HAPPY HAPPY!:

Which we were!
Alvina, Libby &Anna

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

rewards

I finished my rough draft of "Dumpling Days" late at night on Friday (really, Saturday morning) and I was euphoric. The first draft is always the hardest for me. The next step, revising, is comparably quite fun. Even though revision usually takes longer, it's that initial output that is torturous for me. I always hit a point where I yield to poor quality, over-sentimentality and any other writing sin you can think of just so I can "get the thing out!" (I depend on the revision process to get things in readable condition.)

So, finishing my rough draft (emphasis on "rough") was a big accomplishment for me. I was absolutely thrilled when I wrote "The End" and the first thing I did afterwards was to go online and buy some bedsheets.

But not just any bedsheets.

I bought these sheets that had surprised me in a catalog a couple days earlier. When I saw these sweet, cherry-patterned sheets on clearance I almost jumped (okay maybe I did jump, just a little hop).



Because in one of my old sketchbooks (I have a lot of them!), dated 1999:


was a ripped catalog page with almost the exact same sheets:


I had coveted cherry-patterned sheets over 10 years ago but was too poor purchase them. In 1999, with my extremely modest first book income (as well as part-time bookstore clerk wages) the luxury of matching sheets (no matter how pretty) was a frivolous expense. Rent and ramen noodles was all I could afford then, so the 2nd best thing was to clip the catalog pages and keep them as a little dream.

That I made come true 10 years later! A nice little personal reward, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

book talk tuesday

LITTLE PEAR by Eleanor Frances Lattimore

IndieBound Description:
Little Pear is a young boy who lives in a small village in China. Although his story takes place long ago, he is much like any little boy today--always on the lookout for excitement and adventure!

Little Pear is just looking for fun, but he has a knack for finding trouble without even trying! Join him as he stows away to the fair in a wheelbarrow full of vegetables, nearly flies away on a kite, has a mishap with a firecracker, and is rescued from the river by a houseboat family.

My Thoughts: I really enjoy and find the Little Pear books quite charming. But I hesitated to feature it here as it was one of the books I had a slight love/hate relationship with. As sweet as these books are, in my youth I was annoyed that these were the only kind of Asian books available--ones that showed Chinese as pig-tailed men with rickshaws. However, upon reflection, I don't feel that this is a fault of the book. No one book is suppose to be representative of a culture and there is definitely a place for this one. But I beseech you, do not let this be the ONLY Asian/multicultural book in your collection. This book, as I said, is lovely, but kids need to read other more contemporary ones as well as this one to begin to have a true understanding of Asian culture. (Ok, off soapbox now!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

class notes

I've been entrenched in the writing of my new novel ("Dumpling Days") and while it's always roller coaster, every time the ride feels different. What's interesting this time is when I mention the age range (7-11) I am writing to non-book people, I get a distinct feeling of disappointment in my ambitions. As if by now I should have graduated to writing real books, older books or at least cooler or hipper books that could rival "Twilight."

I always smile politely, as I do understand their idea of success. And who knows, maybe someday I will. But I have a feeling, in terms of writing, that the young middle grade novel will be the book I will never graduate from.

Part of my "lecture" for the Pine Manor class I taught about writing the Middle Grade Novel:

Why write middle-grade novels, especially young middle grade? One can say you have more restrictions in terms of subject matter, audience and even respect than the other genres. But I think it is one of the most important forms,if not the most important form, of children's literature. These are the books that change a child that can read books to a child that LOVES to read books. What they call a "reader," a true life-long book lover. The picturebook is rarely read independently and the YA reader has already decided whether he or she likes books. The middle-grade novel is the one that can create a transformation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

book talk tuesday

ONCE UPON A BLUE MOOSE by Daniel Pinkwater

IndieBound Description:
Once upon a blue moose, there was a little restaurant at the edge of the big woods. Mr. Breton was happy running the restaurant. He liked to cook, but he didn’t like it much when winter came and the north wind blew and froze everything solid.
Then one day a blue moose, who also didn’t like the cold, came to his door and asked to come in. Mr. Breton said sure, and served the moose some clam chowder. The moose liked the soup, and decided to stay. From that time on, things at the restaurant began to hum.
Join the Blue Moose in this hilarious collection of three short novels as he learns to wait tables, writes a novel, goes to Hollywood, solves a mystery, and makes you laugh even in the dark of the cold woods.
Includes new wacky but true moose facts!

My Thoughts: A great fun classic! Every time I read this I want to go have clam chowder with gingerbread for dessert. Yum!

Friday, July 16, 2010

fortune cookie friday


“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My very own Aslan


I'm so pleased and honored that Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was just named the 2010 Mythopoeic Award Winner for Children's Literature!

I was quite surprised but thrilled, especially as this award comes with what is called the "Aslan," which you can see above (image stolen from Jane Yolen's site, a past winner--I know! Great company, right?). I can't wait to actually receive my own Aslan, though I'm not sure where to put him. I kind of wish I had a great wood wardrobe for him guard.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

loveliness

I had a hectic but pleasant weekend teaching and reading at the Pine Manor Solstice Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA Program. That is a long name for a lovely MFA program that I am delighted to be a part of.

I taught a class that I called "The Read Aloud Novel" with this description:
One of the difference between a middle grade novel and a YA (or even adult) novel is that the middle grade novel is multifunctional. While it is a book a child can read to themselves, middle grade novels are often books that are read aloud in a classroom or at home after dinner or before bedtime. Words and sentences must be complex enough to have rhythm and interest but not so much that they would discourage a young reader. In this class, we'll discuss the key elements of a middle grade novel and consider them in our own writing.
It was a fun class where we talked about overwriting and writing tightly, though during it I realized how guilty my own work-in-progress novel is of those same issues!


However, what was more fun was that between my class and reading I was able to go to my dear friend Elaine's daughter's wedding. The apparent happiness of the bride and the mother of the bride was loveliness defined.



And the cake was really good too!

(I had two pieces.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

book talk tuesday

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN by Gertrude Chandler Warner
IndieBound Description:
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are orphans. Determined to make it on their own, they set out to find a safe place to live. They discover an old, red boxcar that provides shelter from a storm. Against all odds, they make it into their home--and become the Boxcar Children.

My Thoughts: My third grade teacher read this book aloud to us and I loved it so much I took it out of the library immediately after and then had my mother buy it for me. It's a young, sweet book--definitely a kid's fantasy about how running away would be (just the good, fun stuff) and probably not at all realistic for today's youth. But I think they would still enjoy it! Also, this new cover (the one above) I think is really bad! This makes it look really outdated and out of touch. It's actually more of a nostalgic book which is why I think the publisher should go back to what I think is the original cover (or at least the cover it had when I was young). In the meantime, try reading this with a paper bag over the cover; once kids give it a chance, they'll like it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

on my desk monday

the temporary new studio...which is the bedroom because it is the only room with air conditioning!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

whereas I realize I am a creepy stalker

So, you know, I wore the anthropologie dress (Dress #2) to the Newbery Banquet. If you remember, it was quite a search to get that dress--I only got it after seeing fellow author Cindy Pon wearing it on her blog. As she was so kind as to let me buy it from her, I felt that the least I could do was give her and her book a little mention on my Newbery night post. So I went a searching on her blog again, to find a photo of her & her book. The first one I found was this:

Which made me scream!

Why?

Well, as I was searching for that Newbery dress I was doing other shopping too. I had my eye on Ebay relentlessly looking for that Anthropologie dress, but while there I picked up another dress. One that looked like:

w/MotherReader on Monday at ALA

Yes, it's the SAME dress!

I am unknowingly stalking Cindy Pon with some sort of unconscious Single White Female Married Asian Female syndrome. How do I get therapy for that?

And the worst of it? She looks better in the dress.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrate LING & TING!!!!

guess what?

Ling and Ting is NOW AVAILABLE!!!

IndieBound Description:
Ling and Ting are two adorable identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving--people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same.

My Thoughts:
So, for today's Book Talk Tuesday I'm going to indulge and tell you about MY book! ha ha. I can't tell you how excited I am about this book, my very first early reader. This is my best reviewed book ever, with FOUR starred reviews! I hope you've seen the book trailer and you can also read some fun back story about the book HERE and HERE.

You can even DOWNLOAD AN ACTIVITY GUIDE (courtesy of www.gracelinbooks.com, the new supplemental website put together by my publisher!)
The guide is super fun, with a sight word chopstick game and even an "ING" song!

And today, to celebrate the book birthday I'm offering limited edition Ling & Ting bookplates!

Yes, for TODAY ONLY, I'll send you a personalized bookplate for your Ling & Ting book. Just e-mail gracelin.manager@gmail.com with:
-to whom you wish the bookplate to be personalized to
-your mailing address
And I will mail it to you! There is no limit on how many bookplates you can request but this promotion is for TODAY ONLY. This is a limited-design bookplate, which means this design is only for this promotion, so it is extra-special!

Wait, there's more!

I have 12 Ling and Ting cupcake decoration heads left from the Book Party. The FIRST 12 people to e-mail me their bookplate requests will receive one! These decorations are hand-made by me & Squatchie and look super cute on a cupcake:

Unfortunately, I can't mail a cupcakes to you but please have one in honor of Ling & Ting!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

this makes me sad



"Stars don’t just happen out of thin air, Hollywood helps make them. This was an opportunity to give the chance to some Asian kids to become stars for the future generation and we missed it."
-Dante Basco, voice actor for Zuko in the original cartoon (read his entire thoughts HERE).
I rarely like to call out others on "racefail" as I think it is an extremely difficult and tricky thing with many layers which is easy to be guilty of (especially for creators). Honestly, I've been guilty of it myself.

And, honestly, I don't actually think M. Night is a racist (in fact I really hesitate to call anyone that, like I said I think racism is tricky thing). In a way, I'm just jumping on this racist label bandwagon because it calls attention to the whole thing. Because people have argued that it's a fantasy, that why would the characters have to be Asian? It's anime which has "ambiguous facial features." That is true and I agree. Just like Dorothy, who didn't need to be white when I wanted to play her in 5th grade, these characters don't have to be Asian.

But it really would've been nice.

There are so few opportunities for Asians to be seen in the media, to be stars--this was such an obvious one. The Last Airbender's mythology is based in Asian tradition...when Asians can't even play lead roles in movies where the content is based on their heritage, it's a shame. It's an opportunity wasted.

Boycott or not boycott? Well, I was on the fence but hearing that the movie was really bad, anyway, pushed me over. If I do see the movie, it might be one of the few times I consider doing the illegal and watch a pirated download. Because the movie industry isn't racist either. They only see the color green and not paying seems to be the only way to make them listen. If this movie succeeds, it's easy for the studio to interpret that Asian stars are not needed or wanted. Because, while no one "owes us" to put Asians in movies, it seems like not paying is the only way to show them we want to be in them. To say, Hey, we're over here! We exist and we want to be seen too!

But, it makes me sad.


fortune cookie friday


“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Newbery Banquet or my Cinderella night

Once upon a time, there was a Cinderella who received an amazing invitation program to a ball banquet.
It even had her name on it!
As she sat in the ballroom banquet hall, she looked in awe all around her. She was really there! She knew it was magic that got her there. But, unlike other well-known Cinderellas who only have one, measly fairy godmother, this Cinderella had many.

First there was the Dress Fairy...
Dress Fairy Cindy Pon who is the nicest & loveliest person to dress stalk as well as being a great author! Her Silver Phoenix is kind of a Young Adult Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

who made sure Cinderella was clothed as well as a princess:


Because I went with the Dress #2! Majority ruled, even though I had to put straps on the dress.


And the Great Friends Fairies:

The blue rose girls, my greatest friends with me through thick and thin. From L to R: Anna Alter, me, Alvina Ling (back)Libby Koponen, Meghan McCarthy, Elaine Magliaro (missing: Linda Wingerter)

The Awesome Agent Fairy:

My agent, Rebecca Sherman, who so wisely guided & guides my career & does all the biz stuff that I hate to do, all while being a friend.

The Revelation Fairy:
Janet Wong, whose wise words pushed me to finish Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. As well as being witty and warm, she is a great author whose new book looks really good!

Cinderella met some fairies for the first time:

I met Pam Coughlin (MotherReader) for the first time at ALA. We've been reading eachothers' blogs for so long, we felt like old friends! Pam was passionate advocate of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, so much so that I almost felt like I needed to send her a check at the end of the year!

While other Fairies had been there along the way:
Marketing savvy (and great author--check out all the buzz for her Bamboo People)Mitali Perkins, who helped me create the online booklaunch...she is the one who had me start my FB fanpage!


The fabulous Kirsten Cappy of Curious City who put together the the Activity Book and the Event Kit which a librarian told me she used recently to rave reviews!


Besides the many fairy godmothers (there are a lot who missing from this story, so sorry!) Cinderella, of course, had her Prince Sasquatch.
Alex, aka Squatchie, who made up for having to be on good behavior by purposely making goofy faces in all his photos!


So with friends, magic and a Prince Sasquatch, Cinderella was at the ball banquet. And, oh, how happy she was!

The King spoke his words:
Jerry Pinkney, winner of the Caldecott medal, gave a heartwarming speech. People ovated (is that a word?) him 3 times.


And, then, Cinderella had a feeling that the big dance was coming...

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon on the big screen!


Yes! Her time had come!
I jump onto the stage to receive the NEWBERY HONOR!

"Is it really for me?" I ask Newbery Chair Katie O'Dell with my psychic mind. She assures me it is.
See, it IS mine! My name's on it!
I'm just going to take this with me, okay? You don't mind, do you?
Run! Before she changes her mind! NO TAKE-BACKS!

Safely back in her seat Gracefully retired, Cinderella listened to the words of the Queen:
Newbery winner Rebecca Stead gave an inspiring speech!

And then the evening was ending...the clock was striking midnight:
The receiving line after the banquet was really, really long! Though it was nice to meet so many people.

And Cinderella had no slippers:
But my feet couldn't take my heels anymore. And neither could Alvina's!

But she didn't care, because she had a much better accessory!
But my tired feet was still able to carry this home!


So, she lived happily ever after.

The end.