Sunday, December 31, 2006

ten pipe dreams

Alvina's post What I'd like to try/learn reminded me of the lists we made a while ago. On it we put done all the things we wished to accomplish--selfishness and hubris completely encouraged. I know they are pipe dreams, but dreaming is half the fun. Here are ten of them:

1. Be able to do a handstand effortlessly, with abs of steel.

2. Have at least one of my books become a classic, beloved by generations and never go out of print.

3. Be an illustrator for a Children's Book Week Poster

4. Be an author/illustrator of a Little Golden Book (like Dan Yaccarino's Mother Goose)

5. Decorate a cake (or cupcakes) at a professional level (I want to learn how to pipe frosting flowers!)

6. Be honored at an awards ceremony where I get to get wear a fancy Academy Awards-type dress (like this).

7. Have a nice big studio with skylights (or something like this).

8. Stand on the Great Wall of China and pat the heads of the lions on the Marco Polo Bridge.

9. Have one of the characters of my book made into a statue placed in a public space/park (like the Make Way for Ducklings statue or the Alice in Wonderland Statue)

10. Own a successful children's bookstore/bakery/gallery.

Hmm, looking over my list I'm starting to feel pangs of guilt over my narcissism. I want world peace and an end to global warming too! Though, truthfully, I would trade everything on this list for Robert to be healthy and for us to have a real chance to live the life we've always dreamed.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

i have a bad feeling

When Pandora opened her box
and let out the evil spirits of the world
she also let out
which was to be mankind's salvation
sometimes I think
it was
just another
evil spirit

Thursday, December 28, 2006

what did you get for christmas?

Santa, disguised as Robert, got me the material item I most coveted this Christmas--a bright blue (in honor of the Blue Rose Girls)standing mixer! Yippee! I was going to stop making cupcakes, but this has brought new life to my favorite baking hobby.

Though, considering my recent food habits, it probably would be best if I stopped. Fat, salt, sugar and everything else bad (but tasty) has been ingested nonstop for the past 120 hours. I also got an extra couple pounds of weight for Christmas too.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

jolly holidays

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday!

Friday, December 15, 2006

sneak peak

the background color might not be right, but I'm told there will be red foil. I guess I better finish the art for it now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

pin cushion

I admit that I am not the epitome of what people would call a strong personality. I'm not tough as nails, able to deflect the arrows of life. Instead, I am more like a pin cushion. Each jab seems to stick deep and I am extraordinarily sensitive. Which is why the way my career has shaped is somewhat unusual. With every Asian character book that I do, every talk I give, the more I am standing on a platform, expounding my opinions and beliefs about “multicultural” books. With my character traits, it would probably be best for me to behind the curtain, not in front.

So recently, reading this blog entry Read Roger: "But she wanted a tutu" made me feel a tad squirmish. I’ve probably been quoted over a dozen times saying that I wrote “Year of the Dog” because I wanted someone that looked like me to relate to; and here was an entire discussion talking about how needing to see one’s own race on a character in order to relate to it was “repugnant.” And not only is the adult agenda patronizing (a word that sends horror into a children’s book author), it is completely unnecessary. These books don’t matter, kids are just going to want their non-multicultural books, anyway.

Yet, just as I was digesting this conversation, Rosie O’Donnell did her “ching chong” Chinese on national TV. I’m offended, yet read threads of “lighten up,” and “stop whining about being teased on the playground," which make me wonder is I am being my too sensitive self again. But then I begin reading more and more responses saying things like, “go back to ching chong and eat a fortune cookie.”

And I realize this is why I am in front of the curtain. I can’t believe that the books that I make don’t matter. I don't think I am making books with an "adult agenda," I am making the books that I, myself, would have wanted as a child. But even if my adult agenda is clouding my judgement, if kids are truly racially blind when is comes to books— then it’s all the more important for them to read these multicultural books. Because hopefully these books will plant the seeds of racial sensitivity and understanding before they start noticing. Because the step between poor taste and overt racism is a small one, sometimes less than 100 pixels.

So I stay on course, smarting and burning when people want to “stick it” to me. But I can take it. I've got a lot of room left.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

broken toe life

I guess my toe is not broken, because I have been able to walk on it with only mild discomfort. It does, however, remain purple--now with twinges of yellow.

But I can't let a toe slow me down. Since last post, I've had my art exhibit and talk at the Groton Public Library:

Baked my Christmas Cupcakes:

(Though, I think I'm going to turn a new leaf in baking when the clock turns 2007. I don't want cupcakes to get too old. Maybe I'll move on to cream puffs.)

Saw some good friends:

And all the other stuff, too--writing, painting, school visits, the RISD sale, etc., etc. So, I've been doing all the same lovely things that add up to my life-- just a tiny bit more painfully and with orthopedic shoes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

the agony and the ecstasy

Between my store, my work (2 books at once!) and my life, I've been pretty overwhelmed. In an attempt to try to get a handle on things, I've been pulling all-nighters, or 5 AM-er's. While this has helped to some extent, last night I paid the price. In my half-awake stupor, I walked into a chair and...broke my little toe. It REALLY HURTS. And it is a disturbing shade of purple, too.

As I nursed my toe, my inner whining chorus of "Is this even worth it?" began. But just as it the song reached its crescendo, I received this lovely e-mail. Suddenly all the juggling, stress and fatigue doesn't seem so bad. Maybe even worth it... though perhaps not to my toe.

Dear Grace,
I recommended your book to some teachers in a book discussion group I lead, and sent Booklist's review of The Year of the Dog along with it. Here is a response I got from one of the members:

".....when I read Mary's note about the new book by Grace Lin, Year of the Dog, I was thrilled. What I have tried to do through LATTICE, Grace Lin has done with her book. But more than that, she loved the Carolyn Haywood books, "a series about a quintessentially American girl whose days centered around friends and school." Well, Carolyn Haywood was a close family friend of my family when I was growing up. For a number of years, I was the model for this quintessential American girl, Betsy.

When I read the books to my own kids in the 70's, I always asked them who was missing in these stories. Their African American and Chinese American friends were definitely missing! Interestingly, by the 1960's Carolyn even realized the problem and wrote some stories about African American children. Since she was always visiting and observing children in schools in order to make her books authentic, she visited some schools in Philadelphia with African American populations. At that time the schools were definitely segregated! I don't think that she portrayed the children accurately. They looked like white children with black skin but anyway, she tried!

I like to think that she'd be very, very pleased and honored to know that Grace Lin has taken on this important challenge of providing diversity of perspective and experience in children's literature. "

The woman who wrote the above, Sally M, is the founder of LATTICE (Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-Cultural Education). This is an organization in mid-Michigan that works to help teachers put a global perspective in their classrooms. ( ) We meet once a month to discuss issues pertaining to education and world events. I am the co-leader of a book discussion group that reads multicultural books and then invites in a person from that country to discuss it, and the accuracy of the book. Usually these are international students at Michigan State University, in our town. We have some great discussions!

I am a librarian, too, and love all your books. Thanks for all you do for children, and for us adults, too, with your beautiful books.

East Lansing Public Library

Sunday, December 03, 2006

promoting for the holidays...

Here's a copy of my e-newsletter I've just sent out...I'm a-hoping blog readers are holiday consumers too!

Welcome to the Holiday edition of GraceNotes! In the spirit of the holidays, I’m happy to announce that…


You can now buy exclusive poster prints, greeting cards, limited editions giclee (museum quality) prints and books off of my website. Most of these items can’t be purchased elsewhere and all can be personally autographed and dedicated.

Place your order before December 18th to insure delivery before the 25th!

And as a special promo for the season I’m having a …


Add my books to your holiday shopping with a special touch! A new special edition bookplate just for the season—that I’ll personally autograph and send to you—for free!

All you need to do is e-mail Robert(at the following:

-To whom the book is for:
-Which book the plate is for:
-Your name & address:

You can order as many as you like, but this offer with these plates end on Dec. 20th (the standard bookplates will still be available with a self-addressed stamped envelope), so send that e-mail now!

What is a bookplate? Bookplates are specially designed adhesive labels that you can place in the front of the book. Kids (and adults) love have a book personally autographed by the author. Bookplates are a convenient and decorative way to have a book personally signed inscribed.

Lastly, THE YEAR OF THE DOG has been cited as a “best books of the season” by the San Francisco Chronicle and an American Library Association "recommended book for the holidays". Kirkus Reviews has also named it one of the Best Early Chapter books of 2006. So don’t forget to add it to your shopping list (and get a free bookplate!)

Best Wishes,

Grace Lin

fan mail

My agent just forwarded this to me. So cute! I wish I could write her back.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

buyer's guilt

My work has become an inevitable avalanche--I can foresee my upcoming burial. A wiser artist would hole up in the studio to try to stem the tide, but not I. Instead, I go out to dinners, visits and most recently the opening of my group show at the Foster Gallery.

Want to know the truth? I went because I wanted to wear my new dress. I bought it during the summer in Montreal and haven't had an occasion to wear it since. Thanks to global warming, the weather was warm enough and the opportunity ripe. Ah, now I am relieved of my July buyer's guilt.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ego boost

I admit I'm easily influenced by other's opinions. My friend Jarrett once gave me the wise advice to never read reviews. "Good reviews just stroke your ego," he told me, "and bad reviews just make you feel bad. Neither makes the book better." Good point, and advice that I try to take to heart. However, I admit feeling a bit low when glancing through Kirkus' Best Books of 2006. Lots of great books, I thought, Aliens are Coming, Butterfly Eyes...but nothing by poor l'il old me.

Humbled, I settle down to read the MT Anderson interview, when lo and behold on the last page is a notice of MY book. Year of the Dog is listed as one of the best early chapter books of 2006!

I know it doesn't make the book better, but my ego sure likes it.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Yes, instead of the traditional picture of the matriarch carrying a roasted turkey, this is a picture of me carrying a trayful of turkey cupcakes. I know you're not surprised. This year, I traveled to Chicago to my sister's for Thanksgiving. While she and her husband slaved over the turkey, sweet potato tarts, cranberry bread and pumpkin pies, I contributed the turkey cupcakes.

These were made with (or in spite of) the help of my niece Lily, whom despite other's proclamations is the cutest niece ever. And while this photo doesn't even show a quarter of her cuteness, I had to include it as it shows one of her own turkey cupcakes (can you guess which one?)

These cakes seemed fairly popular with the kids, who promptly ate the decorations, licked off the frosting and then asked for another. However, with 2 pumpkin pies, an apple pie, a pecan pie and champagne jello, there were a lot of turkey cupcakes leftover.

And these are a lot harder to make sandwiches out of.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

autumn in the pacyforest

Red leaf
abandoned by friends
and burning
on my branch
If I let you go
will you fly in the sky
or fall to the ground?
the ashes of dead leaves
at my feet
make me cling
to you

Saturday, November 18, 2006

showing off

This is a photo of my empty closet that was once full with over 30 framed pieces of my art. Where have they gone? Well, I'm having two shows...
The first one is:

Illustration Strange Turns of the Mind's Road
Group show with Jarrett Krosoczka, Ann P. Smith, Peter Reynolds, Paul Olson, Fred Lynch, Grace Lin, and Kelly Murphy.

November 27, 2006 - January 5th, 2007
Foster Gallery
10 Campus Drive Dedham, MA
Opening reception - November 30th, 2006

And the other one:

Grace Lin:The Path of a Children's Author/Illustrator
Owen Smith Shuman Gallery
Groton Public Library
99 Main St.
Groton, MA 01450

November 18th- December 26, 2006
Artist talk--December 5, 7pm

Books and art will be sold at both events so a great time to get some holiday gifts (or free food). As for me, I think I might get to wear my new dress. That's hanging in the other closet.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I'm always really shocked when I realize people actually read this blog. Whenever I write, I usually assume the only ones reading it are my handful of friends and a few on the periphery. To be honest, I'd rather keep this illusion as stage fright occurs when I think about how much I reveal about my life (though I am trying to be better about it compared to my first blog).

Many a things that I write I don't say to people in person, even friends I am most comfortable with, because I just can't imagine anyone wanting to hear me whine all the time. Which is why perhaps writing and blogging is such a seductive pastime, it allows me to whine silently, sans guilt.

But recently, on the Blue Rose Girl blog I posted an excerpt of an essay on racism, which garnered a comment faulting me of excessive negativity. "I just get tired of stories like this," the insightful Sally J. commented.

And I realized silent or not, my words are still bellyaches and groans foisted upon readers. And this, I regret. Perhaps you, dear reader, think I don't have a sense of humor or have an inflated idea of my own importance--both of which is not true (at least I hope not). However, if that has crossed your mind, I am truly sorry.

But there are only about eight people reading this thing anyway, right?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

truly great review

My sister just sent me this link to a truly great review of The Year of the Dog. It completely made my day!

It's such a great review (almost nothing makes an author happier when they read someone who really "gets" their book) I'm considering sending it to the Cybils to use as a review of the day, but maybe that is too self-serving. I cringe at the possible tackiness of doing that, but my upcoming credit card bill is starting to make me shameless.

Monday, November 13, 2006

author photo

Since Lissy's Friends is about origami animals, I made the following author photo. I'm very pleased with it, the likeness is quite impeccable--at least in my opinion! I think I might use it for all my publicity from now on.

Friday, November 10, 2006


A lot of things fall through the cracks in mia casa. I can't tell if it's because the cracks are so large or if it's because I am so careless, but the bits and pieces of my life seem to fall like the autumn leaves. And as we learn we were remiss about Robert's remission, I realize how impossible it is to catch all that falls during the descending season.

Monday, November 06, 2006


This past weekend, I met up with a good friend of mine from college. Because of fate and inconvenience, this was the first time I had seen him since my wedding. And so much had changed! He's now the proud papa of two, with a dog, house and gold minivan.

Since meeting him, I've felt an odd sense of mourning. The time that has past, the roads that I've taken--all so different from the path I thought I was on 10 years ago. The what-if's of life seem to follow me like a funeral parade. What if Robert and I had stayed broken up that time? What if we had brought him to the doctor sooner? What if he had never had cancer?

And the answer to all of that is simple. Everything would've been different.

And I find myself grieving for the life that I'll never have. The life that seemed an apple pluck away but was really just an illusion. I realize that it was just like a fluffy white cloud in the sky--when you fall, you think it will cushion you but instead it disappears as you go right through.

But perhaps it is all for the best, as my feet and head are now watching the ground instead of the sky and I am walking one step at a time. I'll just be grateful I don't need a gold minivan for that.

on the bluebonnet masterlist

Hey, The Year of the Dog is on the Texas Bluebonnet Award 2007-2008 Master List. cool beans!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

grace goes to washington

I was in Washington DC this weekend for the Multicultural Children's Book Fair at the Kennedy Center. It was great fun, met neat people and all...but I have to say the highlight of my stay was the hotel room. Last year I traveled so much that I would forget what number room I was staying in. But this room will be remembered. Why? Let me take you on the tour:

First I enter and see a lovely vanity area and bathroom to my left. I forgot to take a picture of the actual bathroom but suffice to say that it is about 2 times bigger than the one I have a home.

Then the nice cushy bed, with the softest throw you can image (like a cloud). There's a sitting area and also an office table with free dsl and refreshments (including chocolate coveredbiscuiti). It's a little bit of a mess because I've already help myself and started to spread.

But the best part is when you turn the corner--there's a kitchen! I've never had a hotel room with a kitchen before. The refrigerator is full size and there's a bottle of sparkling apple cider waiting for me. Gosh, I could make myself at home...and never go back to my real home. Think Robert would notice?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

lissy doll version 1

Here's the first prototype of the Lissy Doll. We're going to work on the face to make it more accurate as well as the skin tone and jacket... but VERY EXCITING!!! I especially like how they got her red sneakers right.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

cover story

Last May, my friend Justina Chen Headley told me the back story of her cover art for Nothing But the Truth and a few White Lies. The book is about a “hapa”, a half white and half Asian girl, and the publisher was having problems finding an image of a girl that looked hapa-enough for Justina’s taste. Finally, they offered to let her find her own model and help art direct the cover. She found the perfect girl at a coffee shop, set up a photo shoot and voila! One of the most lovely covers I’ve seen.

And I have to admit I was a little envious. The cover of my book was my idea, but suddenly choosing a model and having a photo shoot just seemed so much more glamorous. And fun! I could have a call for entries, maybe a contest…my mind raced with the possibilities.

“Gee,” I said to my editor (who is also Justina’s editor), “I wish I could’ve chosen a model and done a cover like Justina’s.”
“I don’t think that would’ve worked,” she said, “How many girls would want to be on a cover of a book called, “The Year of the Dog?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I said, “Maybe the next book.”
“But,” she said, “Your next book is called, The Year of the Rat!”

Ah, good point. Sigh.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

years go by

Today, as I was drawing I found myself staring at my hands. As I looked at them, slightly chapped, with slight scars and wrinkles, I suddenly realized--these are my mother's hands. Through some alchemy of time, my hands and I have become practical and aged.

And these changes fill me with bittersweet thoughts. I remember once, in my youth, thinking that I wanted to be just like my Mom. She could play the piano, wear lipstick, and buy candy any time she wanted to (though she never did). Adults could do that. I thought they were so lucky.

But surprisingly, adulthood has not been full of the simple pleasures I imagined. I’ve buckled under its pressures and it’s left wrinkles that can never be smoothed. And as I observe the invisible transformation of carefree to careworn, I can’t help but wonder-- when did this happen?

And I realize that this has happened when I wasn't looking, as most important things go. It's the moments I miss, the minutes and seconds I cancel or forget that all add up and become what changes me irreversibly.

Unless you believe those Oil of Olay ads.

Friday, October 13, 2006


But I think this would have been better as cupcakes.

Monday, October 09, 2006

fun things in my inbox

Nothing helps me procrastinate more than e-mailing and blogging. So you know when I blog about e-mails it is procrastination at its paramount.

First I received, this is a photo from a mother whose daughter used Year of the Dog as her school project. For those who know the book, this is the scene where my mother falls asleep standing up during a school assembly and wakes up to a glaring teacher. You can't tell from the photo, but the teacher is holding a sign that says "disobedient children" with my mother's name right underneath. Too cute! It's kind of a thrill to think that students are making dioramas of my book, just like the way I used to from books by the likes of Beverly Cleary.

I also received this from the publisher of the Seven Chinese Sisters. The Worldwide Adoption Services has asked if I would grant permission to create these wooden nesting dolls for their charity. I said yes and hope they are quite successful, though I do find it curious that my work seems to make a lot more money for charity then it does for me. But who am I to complain? And these dolls are really sweet.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


This past weekend was my 10 year college reunion. I didn’t go because Robert has an allergic reaction to reunions. Last time we went to a reunion was about 5 years ago for my high school reunion. Robert broke out into hives he was so bored. And, he said, the hives were more interesting than the reunion.

I, however, had a pretty good time. My most unforgettable memory was meeting up with an old acquaintance that used to do all the lighting and tech stuff for the drama club.

“I’m a children’s book author/illustrator, now,” I told him, “What do you do?”
“Oh, I do lighting for shows and movies, that kind of thing,” he said.
“That’s great,” I said, “I can completely see you doing that. What shows have you done?”
“Oh, just some shows,” he said, “You probably haven’t seen any of them.”
“I might have,” I said, “Just name them.”
“Umm,” he said, “Well, I kind of don’t want to tell you.”
“Why?” I said, “Is it porn or something?”
“Well,” he said, “Yes.”

That conversation pretty much ended in awkward silence. Though, my laughter about it on the car ride home could be heard for miles.

Friday, October 06, 2006


My February Lanterns painting is NOW on auction. Please BID.

Monday, October 02, 2006

cupcake dreams

I am definitely riding a wave of happiness these days. Even receiving my discouraging royalty statement (which usually sends me into the depths of despair) seems like a just a slight dip into the water. Nowadays, I have been floating on my back, looking at the clouds.

My most recent castle in the sky has been the idea of leaving children's books and opening up a cupcake bakery. No, really--I have it all planned out. My friend Loretta, who is a real chef, would be the culinary expertise, Robert would design the small but quaint store (in the middle of Harvard Square), Ki-Ki and I would do all the logos and murals on the walls and I'd get all the girls to be partners. We'd call it "The Cupcake Garden" and students and tourists would line up along the streets just for our cupcakes. It'd be great, I know it. What do you think?

Ah, I've sold more cupcakes in my dreams than I have books in real life. The dreams are just so much sweeter.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

my pet project

I am enjoying my Robert's Snow retirement. It's quite a relief not running a fundraiser. However, I also feel slight pangs of guilt. With Robert doing well, I don't want to forget what got him here.

It's an illustration show and charitable online auction with a unique bent. Each of the 29 illustrators involved have chosen their favorite charity or 'pet project' for their illustration's bidding to benefit. It's kind of like Robert's Snow, but not on snowflakes and only 29 artists who chose their own charity.

So, of course, I have chosen the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as my charity. And, I've chosen what I consider to be my best piece of artwork (above, isn't it pretty? Don't you want it?) from my recent book One Year in Beijing to be the piece sold. It's an original and I hope it goes for big bucks.

The auction opens on eBay on 10/5/06. If you would like to be alerted when the auction opens, enter your email address at The Pet Project Website:

I'm going to the Exhibit opening in Maine, with good friend Anna Alter who has also chosen Dana-Farber as her charity. So if you're in the area, come on by, say hello and place a bid. If you're far away, no problem--just bid away online!

If you think about it, I bet you know someone close you who has had cancer or has been affected by it and here's a chance to help. I don't want to go on and on about it, as I've said it already here during the Robert's Snow event, so suffice to say bidding for my art (and Anna's) is for a GREAT cause.

Thursday, October 5, 2006 from 6:00-8:00 PM Zero Station
222 Anderson Street, Portland, Maine
The Pet Project Website:

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

good luck

My luck seems to come in waves. Never a smooth balance of good and bad, I seem to be deluged with either sorrow or joy. Now, I am definitely on the upswing, because not only is Robert's health good, my agent gave me some news about my upcoming book Lissy's Friends. It seems that Merrymakers has officially made an offer for the licensing rights and there will be a...


Yes, it's true. That little Asian girl in my painting is going to be made into a plush doll. The book and the doll will be released on the same day, May 17th...which also happens to be my birthday! I think it's a sign. I'm going to have to have a BIG book/birthday party! Who wants to come?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

reliving normality

Friday, September 22nd was perhaps the best day of my life so far. Nope, no book deals or winning lottery tickets, but those things are mere nothings. Because, Robert has been declared in remission…and given a three month vacation from treatment, possibly longer.

Our doctor warned us not to get too excited, as his disease is quite persistent; and there’s a high probability that he will have to go back on treatment after 3-6 months. But, after 3 years of the rollercoaster, we’ll take it. It’ll be the first time in 3 years that Robert will not have some kind of toxic chemical running through his body. It’ll be the first time in 3 years that we won’t have to navigate around steroid induced mood swings, curative pain or medicinal fatigue; or be troubled about germs or low blood counts. It’ll be the first time in three years that I can schedule an event without counting the days to his next treatment week or worry about canceling last minute because of an unexpected chemo complication. It’ll be the first time in three years that we’ll be free.

And to be honest, we’re not sure what to do. It’s as if we’ve come out of a cave and our eyes are dazed by the sun. “It’ll be good for you to live a normal life for a little while, “our doctor said. But we don’t remember what normal is.

However, we’re happy to try.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

soup days

Whenever I am on a deadline, we eat soup. I reserve a morning cutting up vegetables, throw it in a pot and make a large pot of chicken soup. And that is what we eat. For days. I do this so that I don't have to cook for the rest of the week and am free to forget about meals as I paint and write away. Recently, these soup days have occurred more often than desired by my husband, who says he has nightmares of drowning in soup. I almost feel guilty, but then I remember he is the one that forgot what a saucepan was after we said our wedding vows.

anger leaves me sad

Alvina's recent post about race has made me rather introspective--making me examine the journey to my own professional identity. But this entry that I recently found wipes away my attempts of detached intellectualism and leaves me sad.

Monday, September 11, 2006

forgetting the fragile thread

When Robert is struck by food poisoning,the violent vomiting scares me into hyperactivity. What if? What if? For we have been lulled into complacency, the quiet chemo weeks come and go and we've forgotten what real normalcy is. Because this is our normal--days which pass like pearls on a string that is really a fragile thread that ties us together.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

grace and the giant ...

Recently, I've been rereading one of my favorite children's books James and the Giant Peach. Since then, I've had many a giant fruit sighting. Perhaps something is calling me to write...

Grace and the Giant Orange? Don't like that? How about...

Grace and the Giant Strawberry?

Too bad I wasn't able to get a photo of the giant pineapple.

Monday, September 04, 2006

no labor Labor Day

I'm taking the day of work and am goofing around...hence this little quiz, "What's your personality type?" (Thanks, Alvina!). When I was in high school, my history teacher gave us all in depth personality quizzes and then gave us the results the next day. After we each read our results, he asked all who felt that the quiz depicted our personality correctly to raise their hands. Everyone did. Then he told us that he had given us all the exact same analysis--a memorable lesson on interpretations.

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

quilt square

While I was procrastinating from my real (paying) work, I made this quilt square for a charity group in PA. I like it even though when I showed off the finished product, Ki-Ki said, "You don't know how to quilt, do you?"
"Um, no," I said.
"You can tell," she said.
Oh, well!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

bicycle blues

Today my bike got a flat tire and I had to walk it over 2 miles to a bike shop. Suddenly, I have a newfound disgust for the slowness of walking. Especially in the rain.

jury duty

Today I have jury duty. It seems to be an age-old joke that “everybody knows how to get out of jury duty.” How do they? Is it a secret passed on from generation to generation? As an American rite of passage I seem unable to complete the ritual.

Even my Taiwanese-born mother has mastered the art. When she was mailed her white slip of paper, she dutifully showed up at the courthouse. But when they asked her if she had any reasons why she shouldn’t be on a jury, she said with her thickly accented English, “Yes. I don’t understand what you are saying.” She was allowed to go home.

I, however, speak perfect English, have no criminal record and have no racial biases that I wish to associate myself with. But I have no yearning to serve on a jury either, I have mounds of work and deadlines waiting. What to do?

Right now, just sit in the jury waiting room, and hope that my number is not needed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Ah, I was so excited in my last post because I thought I had finished "Year of the Rat." But nothing like a good night's sleep and a day to ponder to realize my overstatement. Because upon rereading, I realized a major flaw and started gutting the poor thing. It'll be worth it, I know, but sometimes the "writer's journey" is frustrating; and--I don't care what other people say--quite unsatisfactory when you're on it.

But as I was grouching about revisions, in my inbox came this really sweet and strangely apropos e-mail (name withheld but exact typos & spelling included):

I love the novel "year of the dog"! I think it might have been one of the best books i have ever read this year! I am only 11 years old. I am chinese and part american(kind of like what's in your book). I was born in 1994 which is the year of the dog. I was wondering... If you can ever just ever maybe write back. Cause I love your books so much!!! Year of the dog is a story kind of like my life. I have not yet found some one just like me untill i read your book. I relized that sometimes when you want something you will just have to be patient no matter how bad you want it.

Thank you for your time
(as know'n as your #1 fan)

If she can be patient, I suppose I can too.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

12:56 AM

This morning at 12:56 AM I finished my novel, The Year of the Rat! That sounds a bit overdramatic, but when you've slaved for what feels like years you indulge in some theatrics...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

double love

At Chinese weddings the symbol for happiness is repeated so it means double happiness.

And that is how I feel about my bike. After I got it, I loved it. I’ve never had any sport-like activity I’ve enjoyed more. Disregarding my work, I’ve biked almost every day, sometimes getting up at 7 AM (which for a freelancer is unheard of).

So what could make me love it more? How about if my adored husband biked with me? Why, what a wonderful idea! I think I’ll buy him a bike and double my happiness…

Friday, August 11, 2006

feeding the fish

I have had a checkered past in Montreal. It was the place where Robert proposed and it was also the place where he was diagnosed with cancer the first time. So it's been a place of extreme highs and lows.

But even when things were at their lowest, one of thing that never failed to fill me with a sense of peace, if not joy, was when we went to the lake and fed the fish.

I know it seems silly and corny. But when the bright orange fish glide through the murky green water, I'm always struck on how beautiful it is. It's my visual reminder to stop and smell the roses, to let go of the fears of the past and future and to appreciate the moment that I have.

It's a good thing I don't have those fish at home. They'd be obese.

Monday, August 07, 2006

my new ride

I've been searching all summer for an activity that I could enjoy and get me out of the house, because nothing makes me grumpier than realizing that a beautiful day has happened and I've spent it indoors at my desk.

However, running has lost it's appeal (in 90 degrees, forget it!) and walking is to slow (all I do is think about how I have to get back and work). So, the new solution was biking...all I needed was to get a bike.

So I did. And I heart it. Not only is it green and pretty, nothing brings back the wonder of childhood as you whiz downhill, with the wind in your hair. Such a simple pleasure, but priceless.

I was a little disappointed with the boring color of my helmet, so Robert put some pink flames on it to jazz it up. He knew then I'd be more likely to wear it. Since I'm not the most accomplished rider, he's afraid I'll crack my skull. I don't have that fear...the only thing I'm scared of is someone will steal my shiny new bike.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

quality not quantity

Even as a child, I never had a great many friends. This used to bother my in my teenage years, when I looked with envy at the popular girls with entourages. Giggling and perky, those girls had so many friends that there wasn't enough room at the lunch table for all of them. Jealously, I thought they were favorites of fortune-- their value increasing with each friend they had.

However, that was many years ago. Thankfully, those teenage years are over and I can now see how blessed I am with the friendships I've been given. A reminder of this was given to me this past weekend, when all the girls got together here in Boston. We celebrated Libby's birthday with pink cupcakes (cupcakes seem to be a trend, first Alvina gave me a cupcake necklace, then I sent some cupcakes to fuse8 and to Alvina, and now even more cupcakes for Libby); and once again I remembered how wonderful it was to have real, true friends. We even started a blog together(it's all children's book shop talk, come and join the fun!).

So, I can truly say I've grown up a bit. I no longer care that I don't have enough friends to fill an address book--in fact, I can count all of them with my two hands. But if you think about it, two hands is all I really need.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

summer school

Last week I was invited to read at a summer program in Cambridge.

Since it is the summer, I quite wasn't sure how interested the kids would be. So, when I began my temperature-testing introduction it was with a bit of trepidation. This intro is my special way of starting my presentation so I know what I'm in for. It goes like this:

"Hello, first graders!" I say.
"Hello!" they say.
"Do you know who I am?" I ask, bracing myself, "Who am I?"

Now if that question is met with silence or odd expressions, I know I am in for a rough time. Usually, I break out into a cold sweat and then I do everything short of dance with a monkey to try to engage the kids. I think most authors would agree that there are very few worse fates than trying to do an author visit with students who don't know (or care) who you are...

But, at this visit, I knew I was going to be okay because, at the appropriate time, all the kids yelled, "GRACE LIN!"


Their teacher was relieved too, considering all the work she had done to get them ready for my visit. Not only had she gotten them excited about our kite project (making kites just like my book Kite Flying). She also had them plant Chinese vegetable seeds (like in The Ugly Vegetables):

And paint their favorite foods (like in Dim Sum For Everyone!):

Thank you, teacher!