Wednesday, November 30, 2016

graphic novel format

I've often thought about attempting a graphic novel, but I am such slow creator that I know it would never be a feasible project. Which is why I'm particularly thrilled to be in one of the authors in Steve Sheinkin's "Walking and Talking With..." series. You might recognize Steve as the amazing non-fiction author of books such as BOMB and Most Dangerous. Well, he also does this awesome web-comic series and this installment features yours truly:

Check out the whole thing HERE.

Monday, November 28, 2016

NY Times Notable

The reception for When the Sea Turned to Silver continues to warm my heart. The NY Times just named it as one of their Notable Books of 2016 (a good list for holiday gifts, hint hint!) and last week published this incredible review. It might be the best review I've ever had in my life. I admit, I might have shed a tear after reading it...and I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall!

Monday, November 21, 2016



So, here I am back on internet. My grief over the election was genuine (and I am still trying to keep away from Facebook and twitter), but the National Book Awards were happening so I had to put on my game face.

As you may know, before the election I was so, so, so thrilled that my book was finalist. I picked out my silver dress, went shopping for sparkly shoes...but then the election happened and I felt as if there was very little to celebrate.

But, slowly, as I began to attend and present at all the NBA events, I felt my mood begin to lighten. Just seeing and being with my fellow finalists was uplifting. Because, together, we are all so beautiful, don't you think?

Nate Powell, Brendan Kiely, me, Kate DiCamillo, Jason Reynold and Nicola Yoon after the Teen Press conference
Congressman John Lewis, Nicola Yoon, Kate Dicamillo, and Jason Reynolds at the  reading

And, of course, I couldn't help but be so incredibly awed that one of my fellow finalists was the living civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis.

Congressman John Lewis, me, Rebecca Sherman (my awesome agent), and Alvina Ling (editor and Melody from "Year of the Dog")  at the medal ceremony

When he spoke about his book, March, the graphic novel memoir (one of three) of the civil rights struggles and the movement he helped lead, I felt the gloom lift even more--things have been much worse in the past and maybe, just, maybe, with books like his we can make sure we don't return there.

So I put on my sparkly dress and went to the awards ceremony and smiled with more joy than I expected.

on the red carpet at the National Book Awards

me in the silver dress with sparkly shoes!

With the leading ladies behind my books (and career!)

And, truly, my smile was  honest when Congressman John Lewis won. I love my book and am proud of it, but it just felt right that the award was given to him.

I am extremely grateful to the National book Awards for the entire experience. Beyond the finalist glory and the red carpet glamour, it gave me three things to always remember:

1.  "Joy is an act of resistance."-Poet Toi Derricotte

2. "Be Kind." -Coulson Whitehead

3. This:


This is a photo of this year's finalists for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature.  When I see all our books together, just like the photo of all the authors together, I am struck by how absolutely beautiful they are. These are the books the young people of our nation will be reading and, when I think about that, I know there is reason to hope. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

the tears I cry

I'm going to be taking a hiatus from social media for a little bit, because, honestly, the election results have broken my heart.

Authors, especially children's authors, like to think that their work is important. I did the TED talk, I share my stories and push my books because I thought it would build bridges, and open hearts and minds. I believed that people weren't racist, they were just unexposed. They just needed to see that people who didn't look like them could be as American and, more importantly, as human as they were.

I don't know what I believe now.  

The election has told me that half of this country believes that I don't belong in this country, that many of my friends don't belong here and probably that even my daughter doesn't belong here. Regardless of the Constitution, where we were born or how long we've been here, we will never be American enough to them.

And, what hurts me so deeply, is that they don't want to change their minds. 

People have told me the election was about jobs or healthcare and not about race. But, the end result is that it is now okay to always think of me as a foreigner, to always think of me as an "other." 

I have stood up in a school in Taiwan and told the students that as much as I am proud of my Asian heritage, I am glad I am American. I have told families that the hyphen in Asian-American is a bridge between two cultures that allows you experience the best of both. I have told packed rooms how I wouldn't want to be anything other than what I am.

I still believe that. Because I still love America. But the tears fall because I know it does not love me back.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Natalie Babbitt

I'm so sad to hear that one of my most favorite authors in the world, Natalie Babbitt recently passed away.  I've always been a huge admirer of her work. In fact, back in 2011 when I found out one of my past teachers knew her personally, I begged for an introduction and was honored to go to lunch with her:

Natalie Babbitt, me & my old teacher Mary Brigid Barrett in 2011
It is truly one of my most treasured memories.  After I met Natalie, I decided I wanted to record a podcast interviewing as many of favorite authors of books I loved as a child. Unfortunately, with the advent of Rain Dragon I never got the podcast of the ground. However, I did get to record Natalie and I am so grateful that I did. In her honor, I hope to at least release that recording soon.  In it, I learned all about her childhood and more; and she even showed me the photo reference she used to paint the cover of Tuck Everlasting.

Which I am glad I got to see as a musical, too!
I told you I was a huge fan of her work!

Tuck Everlasting, is, of course, amazing.  But I have a soft spot for her book The Search for Delicious. It's one of my favorite books of all time and fostered my love of fairy tales and folk tales--in many ways, an inspiration for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

What I loved about her books was that they did not have to be "dark" to be deep. In fact, it was their lightness that revealed life's poignancy.  Her work has always been an example for me to model mine upon and my dream is to reach her level of writing and readership.

Rest in Peace, Natalie Babbitt. You were loved.