Saturday, December 31, 2011

last day of the year

2011 is ending! I plan on starting my resolutions and yearly conclusions at Chinese New Year (to give me some extra time) but today, I feel I must...

answer my mail!!

I really do love hearing from readers and it's important to me that if a child actually sat down and wrote me by hand that I should do the same*. However, it is time consuming and I've been letting the letters pile up since the summer. I'm a little horrified at myself for not responding sooner for requests for bookplates meant for X-mas presents (I'm just opening some of the letters now). SO SORRY! I've dedicated this entire day, the last day of the year, to write back.  I will get this pile done before the new year...I hope!

*helpful hint if you want a response: Please make sure you write your return mailing address on your letter--sometimes I lose/mix up envelopes and can't figure out where to send! Apologies to anyone who does not get a response at all, it means I misplaced your return address. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"The water a cow laps turns into milk. 
The water a snake licks changes into poison. 
What do things that you touch turn into?
-Japanese Proverb

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the first gift

Many lovely people have offered baby things for our upcoming Rain Dragon.  We are happy to accept but have been putting off the receiving of them as our place is already crammed with our own adult stuff (we have to look into moving soon!).  But, for the holidays, the Sasquatch got me (us) a special gift that I had to make room for.

Those of you that have read Year of the Dog, might remember that the main character has a teddy bear named Butterscotch:

That is because in real life I really did have a teddy bear named Butterscotch. I loved him and still have him. His name is Butterscotch because when I first got him he was butterscotch colored. But now he is so old, he is grey (and tattered):

So, the Sasquatch did some internet searching and found a Butterscotch family member:

Which I can't wait to give to our Rain Dragon!!!

Butterscotch and Caramel 

Monday, December 26, 2011

the cake we bought

The first question people ask after they hear about Baby Rain Dragon, is "Is it a boy or a girl?" Well, we wanted to tell our families the answer in a more fun way than usual so (borrowing the idea from my friend Elaine--who just got her first picturebook contract, by the way!)when we got our ultrasound we had the technician write the sex of the baby down on a card and place it in a sealed envelope.

This sealed envelope we brought to a bakery. We asked the baker to make the cake chocolate if it was boy and vanilla if it was a girl and to ice the whole thing in white. This cake we planned to take to the Sasquatch's family for Christmas to cut Christmas morning--all of us finding out the sex of the baby at the same time as our holiday gift!

Of course, in the meantime, I tried to guess by just looking at the ultrasound photo. But I couldn't tell:

However, finally, Christmas morning came and with the magic of technology I skyped my parents and sister's family in for the grand cake cutting...

And it was....

Vanilla! Rain Dragon is  a girl!

I checked the card just to make sure:

Hello, Rain Dragonette!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's word is:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

christmas tree

Everything has been a blur! I've been so busy with all my different projects that I haven't gotten to do all the fun holiday things I usually like to do.

But we did get a tree! Since I didn't have time to think or create a new decorating scheme, we used old ornaments from christmas past, like my origami animals (found them in a hidden box in the closet!):

And last year's birds (I have far less as many were "liberated" over the year by visiting friends):

However, the Sasquatch and I did make one new ornament for the tree:

It's a peanut baby! Even though our baby is in utero, it's rain dragon's first Christmas so I thought we should have something for him/her.

I think it's our nicest tree, yet.

Happy Holidays, all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

all is even brighter

Some people know Christmas is coming when the mall brings out the Santa Claus or you get a Christmas tree. But, I know it's Christmas when the house down the street lights up the night. Year after year, this house makes me smile every holiday season:

I'm trying to imagine how they'll fit more lights next year...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

booktalk tuesday

A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream By Richard Bernstein

IndieBound Description: In 1977, when Zhongmei Lei was eleven years old, she learned that the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy was having open auditions. She'd already taken dance lessons, but everyone said a poor country girl would never get into the academy, especially without any connections in the Communist Party of the 1970s. But Zhongmei, whose name means Faithful Plum, persisted, even going on a hunger strike, until her parents agreed to allow her to go. She traveled for three days and two nights to get to Beijing and eventually beat out 60,000 other girls for one of 12 coveted spots. But getting in was easy compared to staying in, as Zhongmei soon learned. Without those all-important connections she was just a little girl on her own, far away from family. But her determination, talent, and sheer force of will were not something the teachers or other students expected, and soon it was apparent that Zhongmei was not to be underestimated.

Zhongmei became a famous dancer, and founded her own dance company, which made its New York debut when she was in just her late 20s. In A Girl Named Faithful Plum, her husband and renowned journalist, Richard Bernstein, has written a fascinating account of one girl's struggle to go from the remote farmlands of China to the world's stages, and the lengths she went to in order to follow her dream.

My Thoughts: This is the book that I reviewed for the NYTimes!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

on my desk monday

On my desk is a copy of the Sunday NY Times Book Review, where the review OF the book is written by me!  A little change of pace to be on the other side of a book review, but proud that I can say I was a book reviewer for the NYTimes!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's words are:

silver: yínsè
gold: jīnsè

Friday, December 16, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your own path.
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let's make this a happy holidays for bookstores, too!

Every year I post a plea to think about buying books for the holidays but this year, I'm adding an additional thought. Please think about where you purchase those books, too.

I love online shopping, I do it all the time. And I actually don't have any animosity towards Amazon either. My books are often considered niche and aren't usually in stores. If it weren't for Amazon, many of my books probably wouldn't be sold.

But, this recent promotion of Amazon's is rather a low blow (paraphrasing from the ShelfTalker blog):

The promotion: quite simply, to walk into any store, take a picture of the item with the price with your Amazon price checker app, and get $5 off on that item when you order it from Amazon. You’re allowed to do this three times on Saturday.

So, Jeff Bezos has decided or at least approved this scheme that all bricks and mortar stores should be visited, left empty-handed so folks can shop on Amazon while giving them price info from other stores. Wow. The thoughts I’m having about this promotion cannot be printed here. If I weren’t so riled up, I’d be despondent at such a horrible attack on stores. Perhaps folks will go to chain stores, and not arrive at small, independent stores, scan a QR code and leave.

As much as I love online shopping, I also love bookstores. And as an author, I need bookstores. I've seen one of my favorite bookstore go out of business and I'd hate to see more. Local bookstores pay taxes, donate to schools and keep the love of books and reading alive on a true grassroots level. I shudder at the thought of Amazon wiping them away--it's quite dangerous when there is only one entity selling your books.

So,  please keep your local stores around by shopping at an independent bookstore, toy store or giftshop. Or, if you are so inclined, help me to help keep my local bookstore alive and kicking: if you are interested in giving any of my books as holiday gifts, instead of clicking on Amazon, click HERE! I am happy to add a personalized autograph. And, if you pre-order my book Dumpling Days there, I'll include  a red envelope with an exclusive URL to read deleted chapters and behind the scene images (and maybe even more goodies from the launch party!)

Happy Holiday Shopping, all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

booktalk tuesday

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Skates by Maj Lindman

IndieBound Description:
Early one Christmas morning in Sweden, Flick, Ricka, and Dicka opened their eyes. Soon they would have their Christmas gifts! For the first time in over thirty years, this classic holiday tale returns, in a deluxe hardcover edition. Longtime fans of the series will delight in revisiting the story, and new readers will find fun and excitement as the girls must save their friend Bertie after an ice-skating disaster.

My Thoughts:
This is a bit younger than the books I usually recommend on Booktalk Tuesdays, but I was SO excited to see that this book has been reissued--with paper dolls!!! You might remember how these books directly inspired my early reader Ling & Ting, made Ling and Ting paper dolls and how I dreamed of being an ice put all those things together and you can imagine how much I heart this book!

Monday, December 12, 2011

on my desk monday

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was given the Beehive Award!!! This award is given by the Children's Literature Association of Utah. Winners are chosen from the nominated books by the children of Utah, who vote for their favorite books.
Thanks so much, Utah!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's words are:

black: hēisè
white: báisè
grey: huīsè

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Kid's Review: Year of the Dog

This month's Kid's Review is of Year of the Dog:

*If you have a review of one of my books that you would like to share, send it to! Multimedia (audio clip, youtube link, etc) is encouraged but not necessary.

Friday, December 9, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness."
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Get Your Ticket!

I know we are all consumed with December holiday shopping (don't forget you can order autographed books from Porter Square Books (617-491-2220 or online--put to whom you wish the books to be autographed to in the special comments section) but there's something January I'd love for you to keep in mind, too...

Dumpling Days, as I may have mentioned once or twice, is coming out in January. With Tex Lin on its way, this might be the last public event I do in a while so we're going to make this one a big one!

So, please come celebrate Chinese New Year and the book launch of my new novel, Dumpling Days! It's going to be a grand celebration!

The you-don't-want-to-miss-goodie bags might include:

-a red envelope with an exclusive URL to read deleted chapters and behind the scene images (find out what was true and what wasn't!)

-special edition Pocket Pacys (

-a chance to win an original piece of art (by me)

-and more!

Tickets to the book launch are FREE! But please obtain one so that I know how many guests to expect. Even if you don't sign up for a ticket you are still welcome to come (but no guarantee for your goodie bag!).

WHEN: Saturday, January 21st at 1pm

WHERE: Porter Square Books (617-491-2220), 25 White St. Cambridge, MA

HOW: Obtain your tickets HERE. These tickets are FREE, but getting a ticket helps me know how many goodie bags to prepare!

**Are you not local? Not sure if you can make it? If you pre-order your book from Porter Square Books (617-491-2220 or order online--make sure you write to whom you wish the book to be autographed to in the "special comments" section), I'll autograph it at the Book launch PLUS include the red envelope exclusive (and maybe more!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

back to work

My events are winding down but there's no rest for me! Now, I'm working on the illustrations for  Starry River of the Sky! It is scheduled to come out in the fall 2012 and I've got to really start focusing to make that happen... it's so soon! eeks!  But so far, at least in terms of effort, I feel pretty proud of what I've done. It's just a matter of keeping that effort up during the illustration phase.

But, I feel like I'm juggling so many different things now--holidays, local visits, and my upcoming book release of Dumpling Days as well as the rain dragon.  I know I have to be realistic about what I can achieve ("You can have it all but not all at the same time!"), however I also can't bring myself to lower my standards for this book.  So, I'm trying to think positive and believe that I can do it, for now at least (it all changes after the rain dragon arrival, I know)...and, luckily, I have a very supportive Sasquatch to help.

Above is the sketch for the cover, final painting to come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

booktalk tuesday

Matilda by Roald Dahl

From Publisher's Weekly:
Matilda is an extraordinarily gifted four-year-old whose parentsa crass, dishonest used-car dealer and a self-centered, blowsy bingo addictregard her as "nothing more than a scab." Life with her beastly parents is bearable only because Matilda teaches herself to read, finds the public library, and discovers literature. Also, Matilda loves using her lively intelligence to perpetrate daring acts of revenge on her father. This pastime she further develops when she enrolls in Crunchem Hall Primary School, whose headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is "a fierce tyrannical monster . . . ." Adults may cringe at Dahl's excesses in describing the cruel Miss Trunchbull, as well as his reliance on overextended characterization at the expense of plot development. Children, however, with their keenly developed sense of justice, will relish the absolutes of stupidity, greed, evil and might versus intelligence, courage and goodness. They also will sail happily through the contrived, implausible ending. Dahl's phenomenal popularity among children speaks for his breathless storytelling charms; his fans won't be disappointed by Matilda. Blake's droll pen-and-ink sketches extend the exaggerated humor.

My Thoughts: Most people hear the name Roald Dahl and think James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he also wrote Matilda--a great, smart girl classic you shouldn't miss!

Monday, December 5, 2011

on my desk monday and calendar event in Ohio

On my desk are the Red Thread Calendars! The COFCC did a beautiful job making them and I'm so  glad I was able to go out to Columbus to help launch the sale (you can still buy one now! 100% of the proceeds go to help orphanages in China).

The event in Ohio was my last non-local event for the year. I'm sticking close to home until February (when I go on another whirlwind of school visits), it's going to be a nice not to travel for a little while. But I was glad to attend the Ohio event, it was great fun! A professional photographer, Michelle Raines, was at the event and took these lovely photos. Kind of makes me wish I had a professional photographer at all my events!

I did a small presentation:

To a really LARGE crowd:

Like I said, it was great fun!

As a small thank-you to the organizer, I gave her daughters an advanced reading copy of Dumpling Days (this photo taken by me):

She stopped reading when she got to page 23 because she said it was making her too hungry! I hope she finished it after she got something to eat. 

Thanks so much, COFCC !

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's word is:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Red Threads Calendar Now Available!

It's December, which means it's time to buy a new calendar! Why not buy this one? 100% of the proceeds (after printing costs) will go to assist orphanages in China!

I'm proud to have my art featured along with happy faces of adopted children in the lovely Red Threads Calendar, a product of the Central Ohio's Families with Children from China chapter. I'm so proud that I am actually in Columbus, Ohio right now!  We're having an event to celebrate the calendar's release. If you are local, come on over:

WHEN: TODAY, December 3rd from 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
WHERE: Orange Library in Delaware County, 7171 Good Blvd, Delaware, OH

Free and open to the public!

Books and calendars will be available. If you can't make it today, but want to have something to be personally autographed to be picked up later, call Fundamentals at (740)363-0290.  Not local, but still want a calendar? Order HERE!

Friday, December 2, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps."
-Chinese Proverb