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.