Thursday, June 30, 2011

ALA 2011 or how I ran out of marbles: Part 2

While other authors such as James Kennedy and Dan Santat partied the night away in New Orleans (Dan stood us up for breakfast, while the story of James' escapades floated over coffee), I returned to my hotel room to try to get a good night's sleep. So really, there was no excuse for me to be tired the next morning.

But I was and to remedy that I had a healthy, sugar filled breakfast of beignets:
They were quite helpful because after eating them I was able to chat quite cheerfully to authors such as Ryan Sias:
my new friend from the SCBWI NJ conference!

and Raina Telgemeier

The sugar gave me so much energy that I was still full pep when it was time to go to Antoine's Restaurant for my luncheon with the Geisel Committee. In fact, when I arrived, I squealed because I recognized the restaurant from Anthony Bourdain's show on New Orleans. I'm not sure why that got me so excited, but it did. I guess it's kind of like seeing a celebrity, except the celebrity was a restaurant. Okay, maybe I had too much sugar.

But it was a really neat restaurant. We had lunch in the "Rex Room:"


Which had lots of glitzy paraphernalia incased on the the walls:


I particularly liked this dress. It is the just like the sparkly dress I imagined I would wear if I was an award winning movie star.


However, even without the sparkly dress, I am quite satisfied being an award winning author especially after meeting the fun committee that gave Ling and Ting the Geisel Honor!

The lovely Geisel Committee!

I said a little thank you to them (which was very short as I felt it would be odd to say a speech that would be longer than my book):

When I received the call last year I was a bit tongue-tied so I am very glad to have this opportunity to show you my gratitude now.

First I want to thank all the great people at Little, Brown--Alvina, Victoria, Andrew, Megan and all the others who are not here. I know Ling and Ting was an unusual book for you to publish. It was the first trade early reader book at Little, Brown and if it wasn't for all your support and efforts Ling and Ting may have never been introduced to the world.

People often ask me, "What is harder to write, the picturebook or the novel?" And I always answer, "The hardest thing to write is the early reader."

The questioner is usually surprised and it takes many words to explain how writing an interesting story with a limited vocabulary for an easily discouraged audience is quite a challenge.

"But it looks so easy!" they protest. And, of course, to that I say, "Exactly!"

But, you, the Geisel Committee, already know this. And not only do you know that these books are not easy, you also know how important they are too. You know that the best of these books can transform an easily discouraged reader into an enthusiastic one, And that is why it is such a huge honor that my book has received acknowledgement from you.

Ling and Ting are twins that are not the same but I think they would both feel exactly the same way as I do when I say to all of you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!


After that excitement, my energy level started to crash again. But before it could free fall, dessert came!


And I was good until evening. Which was lucky because I was going to the Newbery Banquet! Unlike my last year's Cinderella night, this time I was just a guest.


But I was still thrilled to go because I got to wear my beloved silver-grey dress!

Me and my agent, Rebecca Sherman, whom I told couldn't wear the same dress to the Newbery banquet two years in the row. I was really joking, but she took me seriously. So I take credit for the smashing dress she is wearing.


Me and Alvina, who edited this year's Caldecott Honor book Dave the Potter.


Librarians Kristin and Sheri (I can't remember their last names!) both of whom were on the Geisel committee. If you look closely at last year's Newbery Banquet post, you'll see I was also seated next to Sheri then. I hope it becomes a banquet tradition!

The banquet was great, both Newbery and Caldecott winners gave such moving and heartfelt speeches that I almost cried. But I was starting to droop by the end of the evening. I really wanted to participate in this year's Red Carpet with awesome hosts Kristin Venuti, Jim Averbeck and Katie Davis (whom I had the morning beignet breakfast with), but even the dessert:

didn't give me pep I needed to find them. Of course, I regret that now. I wanted to show off my dress. Oh well, maybe next year!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ALA 2011 or how I ran out of marbles: Part 1

My last public event for this school year was the ALA convention. I was excited because I was finishing with a blast-in New Orleans, the Geisel Honor Award--I knew it was going to be a lot of fun. However even with such prospects of delight, I have to admit, even before getting on the plane, I was tired.

A while ago, I wrote about how an introverted person like me can only last so long. As I said then:

...my most natural state is introverted--there are only so many visits I can do in a year without stammering incoherently. I'm kind of like a jar of marbles--every visit I do I am less one marble until I am empty.
So, after the last couple of months being full of events and visits (which were all lovely!), my marble jar was pretty low when I got to New Orleans:

Which is perhaps why I had a bit of envy at the LB Middle Grade Breakfast when the other amazing authors Kelly Barnhill and Andrea Pinkney gave such mesmerizing and spirited readings (Andrea sang! Not fair!).


However, the librarians were still very kind to me and many came to my signings (I had two):

But it was only at the LB one that I signed advanced reading copies of Dumpling Days!!
Eeks, eeks, eeks! I can't believe people will be reading it soon!

Then it was a blur of convention exhibits:
pleased to see my friend Anna Alter's Disappearing Desmond and Thanking the Moon!

plus a screening of the movie The Library of the Early Mind (which I am in for about 10 seconds):
and a panel discussion afterwards with the hilarious and highly energetic Jack Gantos and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket):
I can't believe I'm rubbing elbows with these two!

Trying to keep up with the fast wittiness of those two was no small feat, let me tell you. Luckily, earlier in the day I was able to sneak off to the famous Cafe Du Monde to ingest copious amounts of caffeine and sugar:

frozen coffee and beignets!

and my friend Libby Koponen and I had our tarot cards read!
I was hoping they would tell me I would get through the conference without collapsing.

What do you think?
(I actually don't really remember much of what she said, except something about how I like having lots of projects and thoughts going on in my head...I guess all those projects distracted me...)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

booktalk tuesday

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

IndieBound Description: Roald Dahl's children's classic will be rediscovered with wonder and delight in this handsome gift edition with all-new black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Honor Book artist Lane Smith (who also designed the characters for the Disney animated film). How James escapes from his miserable life with two nasty aunts and becomes a hero to his new insect family, including Miss Spider, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Centipede (with his 21 pairs of gorgeous boots), is Dahl-icious fantasy at its best.
My Thoughts:Whenever peaches are in season, I have to read this book. Somehow, reading this book while munching on a gloriously juicy peach is a summer ritual. Of course, my copy is a bit splattered though.

Monday, June 27, 2011

on my desk monday


Chinese textbook!

Yes, I've finally carved the time to take real Chinese classes. Rosetta Stone was not cutting it, so hopefully this will help. So far I'm at the top of the class because I already know "Ni Hao!" and "Xie Xie!" but something tells me I am going to plateau quickly...

Sunday, June 26, 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:
summer
xiàtiān


Saturday, June 25, 2011

lovely ugly vegetables


I have fallen behind on blogging! So many fun things I want to write about but I'm off to New Orleans for ALA, and the Geisel Award Ceremony! But I wanted to post this picture before I forgot.

Last weekend I was helping the New Haven Public Library kick off their summer reading program. They had me read The Ugly Vegetables with some kids to help illustrate just how ugly those vegetables were to the audience. But, I think they look rather lovely!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's that time...

It's almost time for the Geisel Award Ceremony! Do you know that that means? Yes, time for me to go dress shopping!

I decided that this year's theme would be silver, in honor of my silver medal. This however proved to be a bit difficult as many silver dresses seemed a bit too...um...shiny:


So I decided to consider "silver grey." This was a unique shopping experience for me, as I tend towards clothes that are bright colors--perusing the neutrals was a mind-broadening experience and pocketbook-thinning experience. For, of course, while shopping in this new territory I found a bunch of "extra" beige and grey dresses, so now my wardrobe has quite expanded. But I digress! Back to the Geisel dress.

Silver-grey...first I considered something like this:which I quite liked but didn't seem special enough for an awards ceremony.

Then there was this:
but I have a horror of strapless dresses.

And then, this:
Hmm, more bombshell than children's author, don't you think?

Nothing was quite calling to me until I saw this dress:
OOOH! Be still my Anne-of-Green-Gables-heart! I loved this one. Cute but elegant, sophisticated but young...I plopped down my money, well pleased. Perfect! All was well until about a week go when I received my schedule for the ceremony.

That's when I found out the Geisel Award Ceremony isn't a banquet like the Newbery or a breakfast like the Coretta Scott King. It is a much more relaxed affair, before lunch and after breakfast. My beloved new silver-grey dress was going to be a bit too much for it. Boo!

So, back to the internet shopping I went...back to the endless quest for the perfect and appropriate silver-grey dress...searching..searching...until finally, I've decided on this:

I'll wear it with some silver shoes...if I can find a pair.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

booktalk tuesday


Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

IndieBound Description: A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock, and money for Garnet’s father. Garnet can’t help feeling that the thimble is a magic talisman, for the summer proves to be interesting and exciting in so many different ways.
There is the arrival of Eric, an orphan who becomes a member of the Linden family; the building of a new barn; and the county fair at which Garnet’s carefully tended pig, Timmy, wins a blue ribbon. Every day brings adventure of some kind to Garnet and her best friend, Citronella. As far as Garnet is concerned, the thimble is responsible for each good thing that happens during this magic summer—her thimble summer.

My Thoughts: Another book that inspired my upcoming Dumpling Days (at one point the title was "The Dumpling Summer")! This is a sweet book that I always enjoyed, though I have had some interesting conversations with my friends about the use of the word "fat" in it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

on my desk monday


Eeks! It's an advanced reading copy of Dumpling Days! The book doesn't officially come out until January 2012, but the review copies were printed in time for next week's American Library Association Conference.

I admit I'm a bit worried about these advanced reading copies. Remember how I said I did my first edits on the computer and it was only after I reread the manuscript on paper that I noticed how many more changes were needed? Well, the advanced reading copy is before those extra changes. So, even though the story is still pretty much the same, but there is some dead wood that needs clearing in this version. So far, luckily, people haven't held that against me (I can't believe there is a review of it already!).

Final version out in stores January 2012!!

Sunday, June 19, 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:
father
fùqīn


Saturday, June 18, 2011

the emotion of promotion

Recently, I had lunch with one of my teachers from college (more on that later) and one of her compliments to me was, "You've become so good at promotion!"

That took me a bit aback because I've never really thought of myself as good at promotion. I remembered how I struggled with it when Year of the Dog had just been published. Back then I thought promotion was kind of like selling and I was not good at selling.

And I'm still not good at selling. I still don't talk to the person sitting next to me on the airplane, much less tell them about my books. In a strange bookstore (ie not my local hangout) it takes me at least 20 minutes to get up the nerve to ask the bookseller if they'd like me to sign my books (and 7 out of 10 times I usually just don't ask and leave the books unsigned). And when I'm introduced to someone as a children's book author and he/she asks, "Would I know any of your books?" I always say, "Probably not."

However, I do have this blog, facebook page, a newsletter, and a twitter account (that is not really used often but I have it!). I've had contests, created book trailers and try to throw really big book parties. That is pretty promotional!

But, strangely, I really enjoy doing those things. How did that happen?

I realize the difference is the emotion behind the promotion. The things that I do now feel more like sharing and thanking people who enjoy my books. I remember one Christmas realizing how absolutely amazing it is that people read my books and I try to keep that in mind with each reader I interact with.* True or false, in my head & heart, the people who read my books have become my friends even though we don't know each other and may never meet.

And I think that is how I became "good at promotion." Instead of going through the motions of promoting my books, I found true emotion does the job much, much better.


*even though sometimes it takes me a long time to respond! I sometimes let the mail build up, right now I am guiltily looking at a pile that hasn't been touched since April. But I'll get to it, promise!

Friday, June 17, 2011

fortune cookie friday


"You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back."
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, June 16, 2011

on the way to the grocery store

Walking up the stairs from the subway (I walk the stairs for exercise) something shiny caught my eye:


So, I stop to see:

And get a closer look:

A nice message for the day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

booktalk tuesday

Henry Reed, Inc by Keith Robertson

IndieBound Description: This very funny story is Henry's straight-faced journal of his summer activities. Henry, who has an interest in nature and a talent for making things happen, establishes the firm of Henry Reed, Inc., Research, and with neighbor Midge as an ally, engages in a series of projects usually profitable to them, but often hazardous to the adults involved.

My Thoughts:I think the Henry Reed books are classics for summer reading. They perfectly capture those summer days that are filled with adventures of your own making. Make sure you read Henry Reed's Baby-Sitting Service, too. Both books, being all about Henry's summers, kind of inspired my upcoming novel "Dumpling Days."

Monday, June 13, 2011

on my desk monday

Rainer Cherries are back in season! My favorite fruit! My mouth has finally healed enough (since getting my wisdom teeth removed) for me to eat them, so I bought 2 bags. Yay!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

still a NY Times Bestseller!


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is at #9! Yay!

Don't think it will be on there for much longer, but I'll enjoy it while I can!

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:
sun
tàiyáng


Saturday, June 11, 2011

talking to grown-ups

About this time last weekend, I was looking at something like this:



Because I was the keynote speaker for the NJ SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. While I do a lot of speaking, it had been a while since I presented to adults. I had to catch myself before I said anything like, "Now, please sit criss-cross applesauce!"


But it was very enjoyable! I forgot how much nice it can be speaking at events like this. I met many lovely people, including conference attendee Tara Lazar who wrote a recap of my speech here (thanks, Tara!) , Joyce Wan, the creator of Wanart which produces the adorable onesies I give to all my friends' new babies (which reminds me, I have to buy some more...)and many, many other talented authors and fantastic artists who are too numerous to name.
(Though I did want to include this photo of me and the talented Ryan Sias from whom I stole this photo from off of FB. It makes me laugh that we are matching. Ironically, later that day, I had a conversation about how the new thing in Korea is for couples to dress identically. So in Korea, people would've thought we were a couple! I'll have to get the Sasquatch a red shirt, now.)

But my favorite part was when later in the day Alvina and I gave a workshop about the author/editor relationship. Some of you may know that even though Alvina is my editor, she is also "Melody" in The Year of the Dog which is why I showed this photo:


Ha ha!!

June Kid Review: Ling & Ting

The June Kid Review is of Ling and Ting and is from the Streaming Eagles, in El Paso TX:

Click HERE to listen!

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