Sunday, April 29, 2007

Party Preparations!

It's raining outside,very dreary and grey. But I don't notice too much because I am deluged with bright tissue paper, making a garden of paper flowers.

These flowers are going to be decorations for my party, I'm hoping to make a gigantic amount of them, a virtual "bower of flowers." When Ki-Ki heard that, she groaned, "You're not going to try to make 1001 of them are you, like the story of the paper cranes?" No, not 1001...but maybe 100!

Because party plans are going full steam ahead. I've been reading the advice of fellow book launchers and have been trying to think of ways to "theme" up my party. I thought maybe I would serve all Japanese food, as Lissy's Friends is about origami--even thinking about making wagashi--those cute little Japanese sweets. Ki-Ki quickly brought me to reality:

"Wagashi are hard to make," she told me bluntly, "They are made out of azuki beans!"
"But they are so cute," I said, "And there's no way I can buy them. Maybe I can make the simple square ones." (Wagashi are also really expensive).
"Even if you could, it'd be a complete waste," she said, "Those taste like ---."

You can imagine the last word. And while her opinion isn't exactly true (I think they taste pretty good), I have to admit she does have a point. Compared to a luscious cupcake, a dry rice-flour, bean filled block isn't very appetizing. Besides, I do have my hands full making paper flowers.


During a recent renovation, friends of mine unearthed some old relics. Included were some newspapers from 1933. How times have changed!

For example, a 7-room rent for $71.00. and a house in Wellesley for $9800.! You can't rent a parking space for $71. here, much less an apartment. And wouldn't he mortgage on $9800. be sweet? Less then my condo fee! Ah, how I long for those old prices. I would be sooooo rich if real estate was still at that price. Okay, well at least not as poor.

But I can't say I'd want to be back in those times. I think my sense of humor wouldn't have fit in. Look at their comics:

Why is that funny? Am I missing something?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

smell the new car smell

So, we finally got our new car! Robert is just about bursting with pride. Everytime we get in or out of the car, he walks a wide circle around it, admiring its shiny glory. It is rather nice, so nice that I am a little intimidated that it is ours. It is black (Robert chose the color as he wanted it to be manly) and very high tech on the inside. There's a back up camera on it! Whenever you go in reverse it shows what is behind you onscreen. I had a momentary panic attack when I saw that:

"Did we have to pay extra for this?" I asked Robert.
"No," he said, "it comes standard with the car."

Well, in that case, I guess we'll keep it!

But all this slickness and gadgetry reminds me of Kitt in Knight Rider; and I half-expect the navigation system to address Robert as "Michael."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Capital District

I've been on the road again, this time to the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan. I didn't really see too much of Lansing and it was only after I returned that I found out that there were plenty o' pressed penny machines around if I knew where to look. Oh well, maybe next time!

But I did meet some very nice people, especially the marvelous Storybook Quilt Lady. I've always wanted to quilt and have had a soft spot for them, ever since reading about "tulip cotton warp" quilts in the Anne of Green Gables books (most specifically in Anne of the Island, when the next door "tobacco king" wants to buy the ones Anne has put out to air). Without a heritage of quilting or any exposure to it, I had no idea what those kind of patterns looked like. But my imagination made them glorious.

So I was completely touched and suprised when Linda, The Storybook Quilt Lady, pulled out a quilt she made based on my book Robert's Snow!

I don't think my photos are doing justice to her work. It was really great, she captured so many of the details that I put into my paintings--including the stamps on the wall, the dice and the scotch tape on the windows. So much fun! I might have take another try at making a real quilt myself.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

I've been horrified and greatly saddened by the shooting at Virginia Tech. And, I am ashamed to say, initally a little relieved that he wasn't Chinese or Taiwanese-American (my race). All the reasons I should feel shame for (we're all Americans, it's one disturbed individual who could've been of any race, and it's about the tragedy of the victims and event, not about personal race relations, trying to differentiate between "Asians" at a time like this is cowardly, etc., etc.) and for all the reasons I wish I didn't (if there is a backlash it probably won't matter what Asian the shooter was anyway) have been jumbled together and I've been trying to come to terms with my varying emotions to write something coherent; but I read this:

Let it be some other Asian

on someone else's blog and realized I probably couldn't say it any better.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TLA: Just Plain Fun

Last Thursday, I spoke at the Texas Library Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Laura Tillotson of Booklinks and Sylvia Vardell kindly invited me to participate in their talk Just Plain Fun:Books for Families to Enjoy session. I, of course, jumped at the chance as I've never had the honor of speaking at one of these big conferences before.

Which is probably why I was not very nervous about my speech. Over the years, I've gotten fairly comfortable with public speaking. I've done so many school visits and speeches that I am now able to speak in complete sentences in front of people (well, most of the time). However, most of my presentations are in venues like libraries and with groups like this:

So I was in for a little bit of a shock when at TLA, the audience looked like THIS:

Yikes! That threw me for a little bit of a loop. But that lovely Southern hospitality that people talk about also applies to Texans because the audience was so warm I felt as if I were speaking to a roomful of friends. Also, Laura and Sylvia were pros, their part of the program was stellar so I felt pretty confident that the audience would at least felt they got their money's worth from them.

And after my speech, the conference was, like our program title, just plain fun. I met wonderful librarians, including Heather Jankowski the librarian who brought Robert's Snow into her Houston School last year (what she did was really amazing, please take a look). I also signed books, (mainly The Year of the Dog as it was on the Bluebonnet List! Yippee!) and got to see some great upcoming titles (my new favorites include Yuyi Morale's Little Night, Piano Piano by David Cali and Hiromi's Hands by Lynne Barasch).

I also got to meet some fellow bloggers! It is strange, yet wonderful, to meet people who read my blog and whose blogs I read. It's kind of like you already know each other, even though you've just met. Some blogger and listserve people I ran into briefly include Cynthia Leitich Smith of THE Cynsations(perhaps the first blog I ever read), her handsome husband Greg Leitich Smith, Leda Schubert and Patricia McMahon. I also chatted for a while with Camille before realizing that she was BookMoot!:

And I met Chris Barton of Bartography. Recently, his blog was driving me crazy with curiosity as he has decided to keep his mysterious "SVT" book classified from the blogging world. Lucky for me, I have connections and threatened his editor with revealing her life-long secrets unless she gave me the goods. I was glad that I could tell him in person that it was only under extreme duress and torture that she gave it up.

And I'll keep it secret too...or will I? Hey, I might have just lost out on a prime opportunity, think of the damage I could've done...blackmail...secret auction...Hmm, too bad the conference is now over and I am back home, far away from Texas.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

san antonio

I'm saving my blog about TLA for Wednesday, so I have something to post on the blue rose girls. But in the meantime I'll tell you all about my impressions of San Antonio.
Which isn't much, not because San Antonio isn't interesting, but only because I didn't see too much of it. I was lured by all the book exhibits, so I didn't get to do too many touristy things.
But I did get to see the Alamo!

Sad to say, but this is all I got to see of it. I lost all sense of time in San Antonio, because it is so bright and sunny out. Even at 7 pm it felt like the sun was shining overhead. So, I arrived thinking it was still early, while in reality the Alamo had been closed for over an hour.

But the outside was still interesting. Lots of plaques naming all the people who died and the heroic last words of the fallen. The building itself is a bit smaller than I imagined. The movie makes it seem a lot bigger. I don't remember clowns in the movie either.

Since I was wandering alone, I have no pictures of myself with the Alamo. This is the closest I could come up with, which is my shadow on the Alamo placard. It was very hot in San Antonio, 80 degrees! In my hand is a ice-cold cherry icee that melted within 10 minutes.

And there was also a penny press machine! Probably not very authentic to history, but I have to admit it filled me with excitement. I started a pressed penny collection last year that has, unfortunately, hit a slow patch. Seeing this has inspired me to continue the collection, which I'm cataloguing at my Pacy's Pressed Pennies blog.

It was a good thing that warmed me to the cockles of my heart because the first thing Robert said to me when I returned to Boston was, "We're having a Nor'Easter tomorrow. They think it'll snow."

Ah, I just rubbed my pressed penny and imagined it was the sun shining from San Antonio.


Robert and I don't have a lot of family in the area, so on holidays like Easter it's nice to celebrate with friends. This past Easter we went to Libby's and got together with the Blue Rose Girls. In honor of the day--okay, maybe just so I could use my mixer--I made carrot cupcakes.

which were the color of Peeps. I meant to get some to decorate the cakes with, but never got around to it. But no one seemed to mind.

At Libby's place(which is so nice!) we had an Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by Linda which was great fun.

Some of us looked a little harder than others.

But we found all but one of them. Even Linda, who hid them, couldn't locate the last. Maybe it hatched and ran away. Or maybe it planted itself and next year an easter egg tree will have grown. I hope we all get together again to see.

talking, talking

Compared to my daily routine of sitting at home alone (or with Robert), social interaction of any kind is pretty unusual. But I've been up and about a lot these last couple of weeks and, gee, a couple of days in a row of having conversation makes me feel like a chatterbox. I'm starting to worry people are getting sick of hearing my voice. Of course, most of these discourses have been at school visits; and that does require me to talk.

Blank silence probably would be construed as very rude, which would be unfortunate. Luckily, some of my visits have included kids writing their own fortunes (in honor of my book Fortune Cookie Fortunes) so, talking or not, my good fortune should be assured.

Perhaps when I run out of things to say to people I should just hand them these slips of paper. Though they might want a verbal explanation of fortune #1.

Friday, April 13, 2007

in the meantime...

I have so much to post about-- cupcakes, Easter and TLA...but I have misplaced that cord for my camera that downloads all my pictures. As soon as I find it, I will be posting like a fiend. In the meantime, check out this lovely interview of moi for The Edge of the Forest by the wonderful MotherReader. I think that was a run on sentence.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

a new hope

Ah, it seems that our car has been hearing all the bad things I've been saying about it because it continually beeps and flashes an angry red warning light at us. Finally, I looked up the light meaning and was a bit alarmed when I read, "If you see this warning light, pull over to the side of the road and contact a mechanic immediately." Hmm, that doesn't sound good.

And it wasn't. When we brought it into the garage, the mechanic shook his head sadly over our vehicle as if it were a dying animal. I took this as a cue that it was time to buy a new car.

So, we have put in our order for a new car! Most of the specs went right over my head, as Robert is the car person in our family, but there is one thing I did get excited about. We are going to get a navigation system! Robert has finally reached his limit with my directional disability. "You CAN'T drive using the force," he tells me (as I tend to steer aimlessly, hoping that a correct direction will reveal itself to me), "We are getting you a navigational system. You need one." And I do, I really do. This might change my life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You're invited!

Okay, it's the party I've been waiting for! As you know from all my various posts like this and this, I've been harping about having a party for ages. So the time has come.

And YOU, yes, YOU are invited. It is a birthday, book and blogger party! If you read this blog, I'd like to meet you. It's only fair, don't you think?

It will be on Saturday, May 19th, 1pm at the Spark Craft Studio in Davis Square . Please visit their website for directions and parking tips. This is the Evite, but I'm not sure if it is accessible without a formal invite. Just e-mail me at and I'll put you on "the list."

There'll be homemade cupcakes & other yummies and free, stuffed goodie bags (so far they include an exclusive Lissy's Friends poster and an advance reading copy of my upcoming novel The Year of the Rat).

And you'll have a chance to WIN the original piece of art of that picture above! Yes, the original! I've decided to just throw everything I'm passionate about in, so I'm going to raffle it off at the party with tickets to benefit Robert's Snow.

All that as well as the great people--so you are guaranteed a good time! You don't want to miss it, bring your friends and spread the word. Everyone's invited!

Hope to see you. Please RSVP so I know how many cupcakes to make (though you can come last minute too).

Books by all the blue rose girls will be for sale at the event and available for autographing.