Thursday, May 31, 2007

new project!

Well, I'm thrilled to announce that my new pet project (which I alluded to here) has officially been acquired! Yippee!

This project will be my first early reader--think along the lines of Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia. So not a picturebook, like Lissy's Friends and not a novel like Year of the Dog. A whole different beastie for an age group in between those two types. Very exciting!

Ling and Ting will be an early reader about twin Chinese-American girls (it also marks my first Asian book that does not feature my family members!). Why twins?

Well, originally, they were triplets. This book actually has been brewing for many years. Just like how Year of the Dog was an homage to the Betsy books, this early reader began as an homage to the Flicka, Dicka and Ricka books I used to read.
(I had to paint Ling & Ting in the same dotted dresses!)

But even though my vision was for identical girls, I felt a tad uncomfortable-- would I be encouraging that whole "All Asians look alike" stereotype? So I put the story away and let the idea sit and sit. For years.

And then in 2005, a group in Portland, ME put on a play of the Ugly Vegetables. There, I met the cutest Asian twin girls I've ever seen. As I watched them share cookies but eat them in completely different ways, a light went off in my head. Suddenly, I knew how the book should be written and that I needed to give the early reader another shot.

So I went home and scratched and rewrote and resketched, with a different outlook. The shift was subtle, but important--as it finally justified (to me) why the characters had to be identical.

Because, whereas the theme of many of my other books have been how even when people look different, there are many similiarities--the theme of this book is how when people look the same, there are many differences.

And that is the story behind the story of Ling and Ting! It's strange how books with the fewest and simplest words seem to take the longest to produce. In fact, I think this blog post might be longer than the actual manuscript!

8 things

Seven Impossible Things as well as Gail, have tagged me for the 8 things meme:
Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Hey, didn't I do this meme already? Oh that was 6 weird things. Okay, 8 is a lucky Chinese number and I like luck, so here I go...

1. I say I'm not superstitious but I am. I try not to be, but it pops out. For example, the reason why I'm doing this meme.

2. I love candied ginger. I can eat bags of it a day. Yes, that bags plural.

3. I can read the same book over and over again. For years.

4. On the other hand, I seem unable to sit still enough watch movies or TV. I usually leave in the middle, during the most tense scene. In fact, if you want me to leave the room, simply turn on the TV. This drives Robert crazy as he is a huge movie fan.

5. I have a very bad sense of direction. This has been well chronicled here and here.

6. I love Cirque Du Soleil. One of my goals in life is to see every show that they've produced.

7. In my youth, I was the "troublemaker." Compared to most teenagers, I was quite tame. However, compared to my sisters, I was a "heller." I wore make-up and got my hair permed!

8. Yes, I had my hair permed. When I was in my teens I proudly sported teased mall-rat hair. Ah, those were the days.

Um, I don't know 8 people to tag. Everyone I've thought of has already been tagged...If you are reading this and have a blog, consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Great Googlie-Mooglie! One Year in Beijing won the Chinese American Librarians Association Honorary Mention Best Book Award. I'm pleasantly surprised, especially as this book had fallen off my personal radar.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We received Robert's test results which were, strangely, anti-climatic. While he didn't achieve any miraculous tumor disappearance as some other patients had, he hadn't declined at all either. We knew it would not be the former as his symptoms have not been alleviated but were relieved with the latter. Perhaps, like the doctor suggested, we just need to give this treatment a bit more time. Which is what we shall do.

And while time is something we are loathe to give up, sometimes it seems like we have too much of it. There's too much time where Robert is debilitated and I have too much time watching it. Somehow, we are unable to transform this into living time--moments of love and joy have somehow passed over us as we wait and hope for our lifetime to begin.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


It's 82 degrees here in San Antonio, yet,strangely, I feel frozen. All my creative juices have turned to ice and the bright sun seems unable to warm our worries. And like the movement of glaciers, the days pass slowly. Perhaps tommorrow, if Robert gets good results from his first scans, we can finally begin to thaw out. I hope so, but thinking about his test gives me chills.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

boring is good

Most of the times boring is bad. When writing books, for example. Or watching a movie. However, for a clinical trial boring is good.

We learned this as Robert received his first infusion on Tuesday. We've spent the rest of the time simply sitting around the clinic twiddling our thumbs. It's quite a contrast to the chaos and rush we went through before arriving here.

"How are you doing?" the nurse says, checking in on us every other hour.
"Fine," we say, "A little bored."
"That's great!" she says, "It means nothing is going wrong. Bored is good."

So we are doing very good, indeed. Robert is feeling good, as well. I can tell because he jokes about drawing spots on his skin to cause some excitement.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

cautiously optimistic

It seemed like no sooner than I swept the cupcake crumbs from the floor, I was off on a plane to San Antonio to meet Robert. During my days of frivolity he was undergoing tests and filling out paperwork (I feel very guilty!). But all things considered, he did fine and I was glad to be by his side when he started his treatment today.

It’s a Phase I Clinical trial, so I know better than to expect miracles. But I can’t help see stars when the doctor tells us about the early promising results of the trial so far. Just thinking that there might be a possibility for the life we want makes me weepy; and it fills me with a reckless hope that this could be the answer we’ve waited so long for.


I refuse to believe
is like a puddle of rainwater
that dries up
and disappears

I think
is like water from a faucet
turning on
and off

Just like my tears

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Even with the wonderful help of Ki-Ki and the Blue Rose Girls, I still was scrambling when the first guests arrived to the party. Punch wasn’t mixed (and never was), paintings were crooked and ice had been forgotten. But the party had begun!And it was wonderful. Who would’ve known that Lissy’s Friends would be such a appropriate book for the party? Because friends from everywhere, from all facets of my life came out on the cold, rainy day.

Author and artist friends like:

Mary Newell Depalma, Steve Engel (the artist that cuts all the snowflakes for Robert's Snow) and Nicole Tadgell.

Alissa Imre Geis

and Barbara O'Connor

Teacher/School Visit Friends like:
Pat Keough

Eisha (with Anna)

New Friends like:

Lily (a big Year of the Dog fan!)

and Scott Magoon

And old friends like:
Mike and Nancy (who came from Texas!)

Throughout the party, Ki-Ki and the blue rose girls were working the book table, selling lots of copies of Lissy’s Friends:

I kept getting unnecessary but extraordinarily lovely gifts from people. Thank you!

And Lolly from the Horn Book was podcasting:
See her trying to deviously pretend she’s not recording?

Kids seemed to like the cupcakes:
and the flowers:
And no one seemed to notice the lack of punch:

But I was still a bit scrambled. Time passed in a blur! I forgot to publicly thank the girls for all their help, do a book reading or even acknowledge the Lissy doll! I do remember that I did urge everyone to eat cupcakes, that I raffled my painting,and The Blue Rose Girls (sans Meghan) had a photo op:

So, I think Lissy and I had a pretty good birthday! Thanks everyone for celebrating with us!

Monday, May 21, 2007

safe arrival

After a late night, I woke up bright and early to prep for the party waking up Ki-Ki and Alvina (who slept over). Ki-Ki was particularly difficult to awake. The overload of sugar the night before left her in a state of food coma and I wasn't sure she was going to make it out of bed.

Now how does one transfer 144 cupcakes? I have a feeling I am one of the few people who have attempted this so I will just tell you the answer. You do it with the help of great friends like Anna and Elaine who are willing to chauffeur them and this cool gift from Alvina:

It's a Cupcake Courier! It can carry up to 36 frosted cupcakes at a time...and it does so perfectly. The cupcakes made it to Spark Studios (where my party was) in pristine and beautiful condition:

Other things that I was gratified to see make safely? The fruit arrangements:

And the books and dolls. Those were rushed in the day before from ChinaSprout. They had told me they weren't sure if my order was going to arrive in time...I guess just because a product is released on a certain day doesn't mean you actually get the product that day. But I begged and pleaded, as it is a little silly for me to have a Lissy's Friends Book Party when the book isn't there!

I rather enjoy this picture as it is the Lin sisters all together: me, Ki-Ki and Lissy, as a doll. Glad we all made it!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

good friends

I think I just realized that throwing a book party is like getting married; or at least having a wedding. Or maybe it's just the way I do things--what's the book party equivalent to bridezilla? Book partzilla? Parthra (a la Mothra)?

And just like having a wedding, the success of the party is dependent on good friends pitching in. Lucky for me, I have those.

Alvina flew in straight from the International Reading Association conference in Toronto to Boston and pitched right in. Gosh, I needed her. Not only did the gift bags need to be finished (not everyone got chocolate rats; I had to start making chocolate faster so I was using all my molds--turtles, pigs, roses, seashells. Not very themed, but oh well!); I had cupcakes to make!!

144 to be exact: 48 carrot cupcakes, 48 pink velvet (supposed to be red velvet but I ran out of red food coloring) and 48 lemon. We used 3 boxes of butter! Alvina and I spent the day baking and I finally feel justified in having a fancy mixer.

Then after work, Ki-Ki, Anna, Bruno, Luke and Ranida came over to help frost. This actually didn't take that long...

Okay, maybe it did.

Friday, May 18, 2007

bon voyage!

For my birthday, we received a suprise phone call from San Antonio. "If you can get Robert here by tommorrow," they said, "we can start him on Monday."

Tommorrow? Monday? That means he'd have to So in a mad panic, we booked a ticket and hotel (I'm sorry, but I hope the Spurs lose in the basketball playoffs because they are making hotel prices skyrocket) and before Robert could say, "Happy Birthday!" he was gone on a plane.

But upon reflection, it was a great birthday gift--the best I could've gotten. I'll be leaving on Sunday as originally planned, so the party is still on. But it's a bon voyage party solely for me now! Oh well.

So in the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy with my party preparations.

It's going to be great--the Horn Book is going to try to podcast parts of it(I have a secret desire to spike the punch and have them record scandalous drunken gossip), the books and dolls probably will be there (though that has not been confirmed, I guess I scheduled a bit too close to the release date--things aren't really released on the release date, did you know that?), and I am making chocolate rats (in honor of The Year of the Rat, the ARC I'm putting in the bags) and blue chocolate roses (in honor of my girls here) for the goodie bags (though I may give up after a while and just start filling with M&M's).

So, you're coming right? You must be, because I have 98 who RSVPed yes! I better start making cupcakes.

P.S.: Some people have asked me if they could bring anything; but for my birthday, in lieu of gifts,I'd love a donation to Robert's Snow/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. There will be a donation tin at my party for your convenience, as well as the raffle for the original painting (I'll pick the winner at around 3:00 pm). If you are only coming in spirit, I'd be extremely thankful for this present.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

my bestest birthday present

Robert and I have been reeling from the bad news of his recent test results. For the past few days we have been fighting despair, our sole hope being a clinical trial in San Antonio. It's been a see-saw, a day of probable rejection to another day of possible entry then back to another day of probable rejection...until today when we finally received word that he's in. All I can say is thank you.

thank you!!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

miracles can happen

i know
the cliches
i swallow
are empty calories
without nutrition
quick fixes
of hope
that will not
i have
nothing else
to eat

Saturday, May 12, 2007


the words are
like falling tears
but i can hear them
like a cutting wind
they leave me

My clumsiest dear

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses--
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.

--John Frederick Nims

Thursday, May 10, 2007

what I'm reading

Elaine tagged me with What Books Are You Reading?, which made me want to look up the most erudite books on Amazon and claim them as my bedside companions. Yes, I'm reading House of War and American Theocracy. Yes, yes, of course I am.

Okay, honestly, right now I have been brushing up on my Chinese folk and fairy tales with books like, Tales of a Chinese Grandmother, Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies and Tales from China because I am in the midst of trying to write my new novel. It's a novelization of a Chinese folktale with other folktales and myths woven through. It may or may not work as I'm taking lots and lots of artistic license and letting my westernized views influence the story. It's quite a bit more ambitious than my other books. But I'm giving it a shot, and as Samuel Beckett said (I read this on someone else's blog),"Try again. Fail again. Fail better." I'm going for the "fail better."

I'm also reading the Houndsley and Catina books, the Mr. and Mrs. Green books and the Zelda and Ivy books as research for... shhh! a new book that I'm not suppose to reveal yet. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have said anything about my above novel either, but oh well. Interesting how the question, What are you reading? is answered by what I am writing!

cute food I won't have at my party

Just to be mean, Ki-Ki sent me these images of super cute food that I won't have at my party. Even I know there are limits. As cute as those adorable octopus made out of hotdogs are I'm not foolhardy enough to attempt to make them myself (if I tried to make 87 of them, Robert might just kill me). And the piggies in the kimonos? Imagine cutting the seaweed decorations, much less trying to attach them to whatever the wrapper is. Still, I have to admit I was slightly tempted by the froggie sandwich...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


i would line our walls
with red,
or search the fields for

i would steal feet from rabbits,
cross my fingers and toes,
or toss pennies in
the air

i would eat dried oysters,
spin paper windmills
or knock on wood

if it would make
a time
which we couldn't see
an end

Monday, May 07, 2007

me, me, me, me

All you ever wanted to know about me and more. Only the charm and skill of Seven Impossible Things keeps it from getting annoying:

Seven Imp's incredibly thorough and complete interview of Yours Truly.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

japanese fiesta

Perhaps because it is Cinqo de Mayo, but Robert's reaction to my paper flower plethora was, "Wow, it looks like a Mexican fiesta in here."
"Mexican?" I said, suddenly realizing perhaps that theme wasn't quite in keeping with my girl-folding-origami-animals-book, "But my book isn't Mexican! It should look Asian!"
"Don't worry about it," he said, "Who cares?"

Well, I cared. After an unhealthy panic attack and brainstorm, I quickly folded some paper cranes to aloft lightly amongst the flowers.
"Does this make it look more Asian?" I demanded.
Robert paused, realized he was taking his life into his own hands, and then said a tad to heartily, "Oh, yeah. Now it works. Looks great!"

Methinks he was lying, but I have over 50 paper flowers that I refuse to let go to waste. Let the Japanese fiesta begin!


there are things i'm afraid
to say
they might wake
the nightmares
that we try to keep

Thursday, May 03, 2007


You know how I said "you're guaranteed to have a good time" at my party? Well, I take it back. There's no satisfaction guarantee. Same with my books, pictures, blog posts, everything. I don't stand by any of it. Sorry. But want to make sure you're clear.

Blame this.