Monday, March 31, 2008

remember this?

And this used to creep me out big time... yet I kept wanting to watch it.

The part I didn't like was when the guy turned into different things. I think it harks back to my fear of people not being who they say they are. I used to have nightmares about people turning into evil characters and trying to CHANGE me into someone else. I often woke up screaming and yelling "Mommy! Daddy!" until one of them came in to calm me down. One vivid memory was a woman who tried to put special glasses on me. The glasses would turn me into what the rest of the neighbors had been turned into--some sort of alien invasion type thing. I wonder a lot of kids worry about this... or was it just me? I was always a bit odd. Nevertheless, I'm sure other people were a little weirded out by the video. Were you?

how much does it cost to create a book?

200 dollars for art supplies for the year. That's it. Not very expensive!

Where do my expenses come in? Inspiration and research--1,300 in books and videos

850 dollars in office supplies--paper, plants, containers, etc.

And of course I bought a new iMac and wrote that off too.

So there you have it. This is the first year that my taxes were done in one day (including putting all my receipts into Excel) and I think they were actually done right! No H&R block for me. I did it "myself" on Turbotax.


Friday, March 28, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: Anthem for a Doomed Youth

The Iraq War is now in its sixth year. More than four thousand Americans have lost their lives…and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. There are those who may think war is “romantic”—but not people like Wilfrid Owen (1893-1918). Owen served as a volunteer soldier for the British military during World War I. He was killed by machine gun fire a few days before the end of that war.

Anthem for Doomed Youth
by Wilfrid Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have three original tanka poems I wrote for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Cuentesitos this week.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

a little diversion

I'm finally feeling back to normal (whatever normal is) today so I bought some canvas and decided to start some new paintings (yes, I have other things to do such as come up with new books and do my taxes). Here's one in my "series" (it's in quotes because there's no series yet) of warped portraits.

I've only worked on this for a few hours so it has a long, long way to go! Can you guess who it's of?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

spinal tap

Don't EVER get a spinal tap!!!! This is a warning. Just don't do it. There's a 20 % chance of something going wrong--the hole not closing and spinal fluid leaking... and OF COURSE that's what had to happen to me. For the past 5 days I have been in COMPLETE agony. If my parents didn't drive down from RI I would have probably had to be admitted to a hospital. Every time I lifted my head I got severe head pain and nausea. If I tried to get up I'd start vomiting. This went on for 5 days!!! The issue was finally resolved by something called a blood patch--the anesthesiologist takes blood from your arm and injects it into the spine to seal the hole. The doctor said there's a chance the problem can come back in a few days so I'm crossing my fingers! So scary!

HOPEFULLY I will be able to get back to work and get going on some new project ideas soon. I also need to update my website!

On the topic of books--I'm trying to brain storm for some craft ideas for my book The Astronaut Handbook. If any of you have any good ideas for projects please let me know! Also let me know about promo ideas... anything that has to do with space and/or astronauts. The book is coming out in 3 months I believe.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Dog sitting and the power of books

Sorry for the late post today, I've had a busy weekend and am currently dog sitting/house sitting while editing Grace's new novel (which is fantastic, by the way--it's slated for next Spring). This morning I woke up to discover that one of the dogs, Maggie, who has recently had surgery on her leg, had somehow gotten the cone off from around her neck and had succeeded in biting the stitches off. About a week ago, she had done the same with her staples with her cone on, so they stitched her up and gave her a bigger cone. Obviously, that didn't work.

We took her to the vet, and it reminded me of how I had wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little. I've shared this story at several writer's conference, but thought I'd might as well share it again here as it relates to children's books.

I loved loved LOVED animals as a kid (still do). We never had pets, though, except for fish and parakeets, because of various family member allergies (I'm allergic to cats myself), but I always adopted the neighborhood dogs and cats as my own. I remember loving one black cat in particular named Midnight, and my piano teacher's Collie named Lady.

I kept with my decision of becoming a veterinarian when I grew up for many many years. And then one day, when I was probably around 10 years old, I read a book. My love of animals had always spilled into which books I read. I read all the dog books (Where the Red Fern Grows, Ribsy), all the horse books (Black Beauty, The Black Stallion), all the rabbit books (Rabbit Hill, Watership Down), etc. etc. I don't remember the title or author of the book in question, but what I do remember was it was about a girl whose father was a veterinarian. She had always wanted to be a veterinarian herself, until one night something happened to her dog, and her father asked her to help him care for her, which involved giving the dog a shot. At that moment, she discovered she didn't have the stomach for doing that, and realized that however much she loved animals, she couldn't be a veterinarian.

At the same time, I thought, I don't think I could give an animal a shot, either. I guess I can't be a veterinarian, either. And from then on, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I no longer answered "A veterinarian," and instead answered, "Well, I used to want to be a veterinarian, but now I'm not sure."

I actually think this is a bit sad, that a book had so much power as to change my mind about what I wanted to become so completely. And I realize now that, as I'm not really that squeamish, I probably could have become a veterinarian if I had wanted to. At the same time, I realize that I probably would have eventually changed my mind anyway, and as I feel I've found my true calling as a children's book editor, perhaps it ended happily regardless. But I also take this as an example of how powerful books can be. One can never predict the message a child will take away from any particular book (Alison Morris has a somewhat related post on this idea here) and it's pointless to try to predict how something is going to be received, or to censor one's self too much, but I think it's a helpful reminder as to how impressionable kids are, how much of what they see, hear, and read is absorbed.

And by the way, Maggie will be fine.


Anyway, I'm off to Bologna, Italy for the Bologna Book Fair this Friday. It's my first Bologna trip, and I'm super excited. If you're going to be there, let me know, let's try to meet up! I'll try to post while there, but it may not be possible, so my apologies in advance.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I found this while I was searching for a bicycle -- it's from Kerri Smith's blog. I do most of these a lot and I like this because it's a good reminder of how stupid it is and how easy it is to stop, too!

This week hasn't been great -- my beloved blue bicycle was stolen and I miss it more than I've ever missed any object. But all the kids in the neighborhood have promised to look for it and we are distributing signs everywhere. One suggested that I write a book about it -- THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE BICYCLE (this of course when we have solved the crime). Or maybe I could make up a solution. Another child suggested writing an article for the town paper and referring to myself as "Mystic's own Libby Koponen."

But meanwhile, many people are looking. As someone said,
"That bike is FAMOUS!"

This is it:

Next week, my solution to #6 -- by then I will know if it has worked!

Friday, March 21, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: Phenomenal Woman

Since March is Women’s History Month, I selected Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Women to post for this Poetry Friday.

Phenomenal Woman
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

I’m doing the Poetry Friday Roundup at Wild Rose Reader this week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Yay, I finished Seabiscuit! I turned in the final agonizing piece yesterday.

TODAY I have had a spinal tap aka lumbar puncture. I'm stuck right now lying on my back with the computer propped up on my bag, which is on my chest. they won't give me more than one pillow! Apparently I'm supposed to lie FLAT but Im cheating a bit.

Anyway, as much as I'd like to post something today, I can't. Typing is hard. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fusion Stories

So while I've been rushing to finish an extensive revision of my new novel, a lot of things have been swept under the rug. Things like laundry, blogging (don't think I'll finish posting about China before I go to Taiwan!), cleaning, talking to people...But I am proud to say, that I was able to make a little bit of time for the following:

FUSION STORIES: New Novels For Young Readers To
Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May 2008)

Newton, Ma, April 2, 2008 — Ten new contemporary novels by Asian Americans aren’t traditional tales set in Asia nor stories about coming to America for the first time. They’re written by authors who understand two-time Newbery Honor Book author Lawrence Yep’s (Dragonwings and Dragon’s Gate) removal of the ethnic qualifier before his vocation. “I think of myself principally as a writer,” Yep told the International Reading Association’s The Dragon Lode. “I often write about my experiences as a Chinese American, but I’ve also written about faraway worlds. Writing is a special way of seeing.”

Without a doubt, an Asian American vision has moved into the mainstream of the children’s literary world. In 1994, only 65 of the 5,500 children’s books published featured Asian American authors. Last year, that number doubled. Some of these have become national bestsellers that are guaranteed a place on bookshelves for years to come. Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard) and Cynthia Kadohata (Kira Kira) each won the prestigious Newbery Medal, while Allen Say (Grandfather’s Journey) took home a Caldecott Prize. An Na (A Step From Heaven) won the Printz, an award for young adult novels, and Gene Luen Yang garnered a National Book Award for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese.

In 2008, a wave of middle grade novels (ages 7-11) written by Asian Americans is already catching the attention of readers, teachers, librarians, and parents – and not just within multicultural circles. Children’s literature experts are calling Grace Lin’s Year of the Rat (sequel to the popular Year of the Dog) a “classic in the making” along the lines of Besty-Tacy. Janet Wong’s forthcoming novel Minn and Jake's Almost Terrible Summer explores the joys of vacation and friendship, with Jake divulging that he’s a “quarpa,” or one-quarter Korean. Winner of the Sid Fleischman humor award, author Lisa Yee makes kids (and adults) laugh out loud with bestselling stories like Millicent Min: Girl Genius and her newest title, Good Luck, Ivy. When it comes to books like these, as Newbery winner Linda Sue Park told author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize) during an on-line chat: “At last it seems we’re getting ready to go to stories where a person’s ethnicity is a part but not the sum of them.”

New releases for teens, too, aren’t mainly immigrant stories or traditional tales retold. These YA novels deal with universal themes such as a straight-A teen struggling with a cheating scandal at her school (She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva), a promising athlete coping with a snowboarding injury (Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley), and a Pakistani-born blogger whose father is about to become President (First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins). An Na’s The Fold, a novel about a teen considering plastic surgery to change the shape of her eyelids, speaks to all who long to be beautiful, and art-loving teens far and wide will connect with Joyce Lee Wong’s novel-in-verse Seeing Emily. Paula Yoo, a one-time writer for People magazine and television hits like The West Wing, fuses her pop culture savvy and love of music in Good Enough, a novel about a violinist in rebellion. Her brother, David Yoo, connected with hormone-crazed nerds of every race in his funny novel Girls For Breakfast and is offering his fans the forthcoming Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before.

Founder of readergirlz, a literacy initiative for teens, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley notes that these books are relished by readers from many different backgrounds. “There are a ton of interesting cultural trends that make it cool to read about Asian American characters,” she says. “Take manga and anime, for instance. Or Gwen Stefani’s harujuku girls. Mainstream, popular celebrities from actors to athletes are Asian American, and this is filtering into YA and middle grade novels.”

Dr. Sylvia Vardell, Ph.D., a professor at the School of Library and Information Services at Texas Woman’s University, isn’t surprised either by the growing appetite for books featuring protagonists of every race: “Most kids live with ethnic and cultural diversity everyday. It just makes sense that books for teens would reflect this too.”

These stories continue to resonate with Asian American readers as well. Lisa Yee remembers the frustration of not finding many books about American girls like her. “When I grew up, there was no fiction featuring contemporary Asian Americans, unless of course the book was about the struggle of immigrants,” she says. Thanks to exciting changes in children’s book publishing, it’s a different world for today’s young readers of every cultural heritage with many choices when it comes to novels.

This year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month begins May 1, 2008, and ten authors are banding together to offer FUSION STORIES (, a menu of delectable next-gen hot-off-the-press novels for middle readers and young adults. FUSION STORIES' critically acclaimed authors so far include Cherry Cheva (Los Angeles, CA), Justina Chen Headley (Seattle, WA), Grace Lin (Boston, MA), An Na (Montpelier, VT), Mitali Perkins (Boston, MA), Janet Wong (Princeton, NJ), Joyce Lee Wong (Los Angeles, CA), Lisa Yee (South Pasadena, CA), David Yoo (Boston, MA), and Paula Yoo (Los Angeles, CA).

FUSION STORIES aims to be a helpful resource for parents, educators, and young readers, so if you know of a novel that (1) is for middle readers or teens, (2) was published in 2007-2008 by a traditional publishing house, (3) features an Asian American protagonist, and (4) is set primarily in contemporary America, please send a .jpg of the cover, a .jpg of the author, one or two reviews, and a brief description of the novel to FUSION STORIES would be delighted to add titles and authors to the site.

A press kit package (available at FUSION STORIES, includes downloads, bios of FUSION STORIES authors, information on their books, and conversations with experts about Asian American literature for young readers. For more information, review copies, or interview requests with any of the authors, please contact

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Abigail Spells jacket sketches

Sorry for the short post today, somehow I managed to schedule three outings in one day- this morning I had a school visit in Arlington, in a few minutes a college student is interviewing me for her research about kids books, and tonight I'll be signing books at the Wellesley book fair. After weeks of sitting quietly in my studio this is a lot of talking for me. Heres hoping I don't lose my voice!

In the meantime, here are some jacket sketches I've been working on for my new book. I think my favorite is the first one, what do you think?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Media Luncheon, and a Sneak Peak

A few weeks ago, my company hosted a lovely Media Luncheon at the restaurant craft. We invited people from various media outlets, such as Publisher's Weekly, Cookie, Child Magazine, and many more. And then on the publishing side, we invited four picture book authors and illustrators with books coming out this Spring.

I was excited for the event for two main reasons:
1) the opportunity to introduce one of the books I edited, Sergio Makes a Splash by Edel Rodriguez, coming out this May,
2) the opportunity to eat at craft, a restaurant I've been wanting to try for a long time.

The event started with drinks, hors d'oeuvres (the homemade potato chips with creme fresh and caviar was amazing), mingling, and viewing of the final art of the three books that were represented. Here I am with Edel and his art:
The art for Sergio is finished on the computer, but he first sketches by hand and then does, um, I think they're called lithographs (please, someone correct me), and scans them into the computer and does some fancy things with color, etc. Okay, that was a horrible description. But at any rate, the final result is really cool and retro-looking.Isn't Sergio adorable?!

Then we sat down to lunch at four tables, one author or illustrate per table. The author and illustrators would switch tables between courses to give everyone a chance to meet them.

The conversation was great. Along with Edel, we had Robie Harris and Michael Emberley, the author and illustrator of Mail Harry to the Moon:
and Mary Jane Begin, the author and illustrator of Willow Buds: The Tale of Toad and Badger:
And the food! The food was incredible. We ate family style, something I'm not used to in a non-Asian restaurant, but I was glad to be able to sample a little of everything. It's been a while, so I can't remember it all, but one dish in particular made an impression: the duck risotto was exquisite. I wanted to lick the pan afterwards, but didn't think that would impress our media guests. Unfortunately, chef Tom Colicchio didn't make an appearance (I'm a Top Chef fan), I guess that would have been too much to ask.

Here's a group shot with everyone, from left to right Mary Jane, Edel, Robie, and Michael:
All in all, the lunch was a great success, and it was nice to take a break from the office in the middle of the day.


And now on to a book that's coming out next Spring: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. You probably know Peter from Flight of the Dodo, Chowder, and The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder. His next book is something completely different. I don't want to tell you too much about it, but will just give you a sneak peak at the art. I visited Peter's beautiful new studio in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn last week, and was excited to get my first glimpse of the final art that he's hard at work finishing right now. And I really mean right now, right, Peter? Here is Peter with some of the art:
And a sampling of two pieces (sorry about the bad photo lighting/quality):
Stay tuned for more about The Curious Garden in the future!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Has anyone ever asked you when or how or why you began writing poetry? Lisel Mueller provides us with her reason for writing.

When I Am Asked
by Lisel Mueller

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.

It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original spring acrostic poem and some suggestions for spring and seasonal poetry books and picture books in verse.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Now I have a whole fleet of these babies. Some are easy to make (for the kiddies) and some are for advanced sewers. All of these aliens will be up on my website soon with patterns... so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ed Emberley Inspiration

Last week, Anna and I had the treat of attending Elaine's North Shore Reading Council dinner and seeing Ed Emberley!

For those of you whom the name does not ring a bell, Ed Emberley is an icon to children's book illustrators, creating books like :

as well as his famous drawing book series like:

I'm a huge fan. To me, he embodies so many of the traits of what I aspire to professionally-- a career of longevity and quality books that always make a connection to their intended readers. Of course while my attempt to reach his pinnacle is mainly for his creative accomplishment, when he spoke of his two houses, his boat and his schedule of leisurely drawing in the morning and then choosing his afternoon activity of either biking, boating or skiing, I have to admit the motivations became a little stronger!

But he deserves it. Not only was he completely charming, his talk was inspiring. His theme was "Anyone can draw, at least the Ed Emberley way!" and it was easy to see how kids--usually so scared to make a mistake--would find their courage, both artistic and personal, from his books.

He drew the whole time he was speaking, which is why my photos are blurry! Never kept still for a minute, that man.

His talk was so good, both Anna and I began to reevaluate our own school visit programs (which I will talk about in another post--promise, MotherReader!). Were my presentations boring in comparison? I have to admit, I began to feel a bit of a panic. But luckily, both Lucille Beeth (Hi, Lucille!) and Pat Keough, librarians at the Weston School that I visited, were there and calmed my fears by mentioning their plans of inviting me again. Phew!

I'll try not to disappoint. Maybe I'll be better then ever--I would think so after seeing Ed Emberley as an inspiration.

Spelling Bee fun

As some of you may remember from this post, I've been working on a picture book about a bird named Abigail who enters a spelling bee. For the sake of research, this weekend I attended my first ever spelling bee and I must say, it was totally riveting. The bee began with a stage full of expectant spellers.

One by one they each stood up and took a turn. Some were so excited they couldn't sit still in their seats. Others held their shoulders up by their ears with nerves. All of them took the rules of the bee very seriously, repeating their assigned word before and after they spelled it, and waiting on the edge of their seats to hear if one of the judges would proclaim it correct. I too was on the edge of my seat, I wanted them all to win!

Finally a small group of kids was left on stage. The words got harder and harder. I was really amazed at the difficulty of the words- some I couldn't spell myself!

At last it came down to these two contestants. The one standing up was very serious and commanding as she spelled each word. The one on the right was giddy, when a word was announced that she knew a smile burst onto her face and she bounced a little. The last word was hers, 'conqueror'. The word was apropos because she took first place.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it really seemed like the kids did too. It was refreshing to see what good sports they were- cheering each other on and having fun up there. It wasn't the kind of cut-throat competition I had worried it might be, and there were no soccer moms brawling in the isles. The whole experience made me all the more excited to start the paintings for my new book. Its nice to be inspired by reality.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More thoughts on whining

Last Monday, I was sick at home with no voice and no energy, but was excited to hear this discussion on "What Makes a Best-Selling Children's Book?" on the Leonard Lopate Show:

If that didn't work, you can also listen to it here (the comments are, uh, funny).

I didn't really hear anything I didn't already know, but one comment in particular that I found interesting was Jean Feiwel's (I think?) belief that a great book will always find its way in the market, which Micha Hershman of Borders disagreed with. I would disagree as well. I think that there are countless wonderful beautiful books that get published that never find the audience they deserve. Which leads us back to my post from last Monday.

To be fair, "no whining," is indeed, as Anna said, a patronizing way to put it. And to the agent's defense, I think he or she said that as a way to show sympathy for the publishing side, to indicate to me that the agency appreciates all that a publisher does for each and every book that gets published (Harold Underdown has a good outline of this here, and Stacy Whitman one here), and understands our limitations in terms of marketing and publicity. I also wanted to add here that my #4 on the list, that the publisher puts the book in their catalog, wasn't really from the agent, and was really meant as a stand-in for all of the basic marketing and publicity that a publisher would do for each and every book--the catalog, presenting the books at trade and institutional shows like BEA and ALA, sending out review copies to over 100 different publications, and so on. No book is just thrown out there with no support, even if it may seem that way.

The agent was basically saying that their agency's clients would never be those authors (and we all know they exist) who complain that their publisher isn't doing enough to support their books. (I'm sure exceptions would be made for valid issues.) The agency also focuses on finding authors with a "platform" so that they can better help the author find marketing and publicity partners.

Unfortunately, the need for a "platform" may limit who their clients are. But this is the business plan their agency has decided on, and I think it probably works well for them and their authors.

Believe me, I wish we could do more to help each book be a success, and I agree that the publisher and author should work together to do everything they can reasonably do to make the book sell. Authors have the right to ask the publishers for as much as they can (without actually whining!), but it is also the responsibility of the authors to do everything they can, too. But the thing is, publishers don't randomly pick which books they decide to give big pushes for--a lot of thought, various factors, and a ton of planning goes on. A publisher is most likely not going to change their publishing plans too drastically because an author or agent complains or asks for more, unless they see that it makes business sense. Then again, it really doesn't hurt to ask nicely for something specific you feel will really make a difference--for example, if you do a ton of school visits, you might want to ask if the publisher could print bookmarks or postcards for you to distribute. Or, they may decide it's worth it to produce teacher's guides to help get your books into schools. If you know the perfect specialty website or magazine to send your book to, they'll most likely comply.

Because of the way the publishing business works these days (and to be honest, I don't know how much this differs from "the days of yore"--perhaps it was always this way), it's just not possible to promote every book we publish heavily, and virtually impossible to market each book to the author's satisfaction.

The fact is, there are too many books being published. I used to think that marketing money=sales, that you could make any book a bestseller if you did everything in your power to do so, but I've seen enough examples of books with huge marketing plans that underperformed to know this isn't the case. And in other cases, a book with little or no marketing "extras" can often out perform expectations. And remember, any marketing money spent on the book gets factored into the book's profit and loss calculations, so that's yet more money the book will have to earn back in order to be considered a success. (Harold Underdown has a great snapshot on what it takes here.) The publisher has to weigh whether, say, the cost of an ad would more than make up for the number of copies sold.

As I mentioned in this post, I've decided that it's basically a crap shoot as to what succeeds and what doesn't. And I think partially because of this, publishers send out as many books as they can in the hopes that the more books they publish, the more possibilities they have for success.

But there's an adult publisher who has tried a new strategy: Twelve. I will disclose now that Twelve is actually part of the umbrella publishing group that my division is part of as well, but it took an NPR story for me to actually understand what they were doing. They've decided to publish twelve books a year, one each month, and do everything in their power to make each book a best seller. Two of their first four books published were, indeed, New York Times best sellers. Not a bad percentage--although I think this also shows that marketing attention doesn't guarantee best selling success.

Although I find this publishing strategy extremely attractive, I wonder how the publishing landscape would change if more publishers adopted their plan. (Check out their mission statement!) One definite result would be that less books would be published each year--which means fewer authors would have their dreams of being published realized; publishers would be even pickier than they are now. Also, more books published encourages more diversity in the subjects covered, and more freedom for a publisher to take chances.

So, what do you all say--would the trade offs be worth it? How can we do things better?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Turn on the radio

If you happen to be free tomorrow (Saturday, March 8) between 1:00 - 1:25 pm EST, tune into WBAI 99.5 FM to hear me interview authors Grace Lin and Justina Chen Headley about their books out this year (that I edited): YEAR OF THE RAT and GIRL OVERBOARD, respectively.

WBAI is celebrating International Working Women's Day by having 29 hours of women-only programming, and an organization I've been involved with, the North American Taiwanese Women's Association (NATWA) asked me this year if I'd like to put together the segment. We taped last night, and I think it went okay, despite me losing my voice earlier in the week due to a cold (if you hear a cough in the background while Grace is speaking, that was me--I thought my mic was off!).

I actually had a lot of fun doing this--I did a lot of radio in college (news producing, reporting, and anchoring, plus deejay and production training) but none since, so it was cool revisiting that world and being at a radio station again.

If you're not in NYC, you can also tune in via their website.

POETRY FRIDAY: Forgotten Planet

I miss the days when my daughter was little. It was fun revisiting my own childhood with her…looking at the world anew through her eyes…finding surprises in the simplest things. This poem reminded me of that.

Forgotten Planet
By Doug Dorph

I ask my daughter to name the planets.
"Venus ...Mars ...and Plunis!" she says.
When I was six or seven my father
woke me in the middle of the night.
We went down to the playground and lay
on our backs on the concrete looking up
for the meteors the tv said would shower.

I don't remember any meteors. I remember
my back pressed to the planet Earth,
my father's bulk like gravity next to me,
the occasional rumble from his throat,
the apartment buildings dark-windowed,
the sky close enough to poke with my finger.

Now, knowledge erodes wonder.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have a review of Ann Whitford Paul’s All by Herself, a book of poems and suggestions for other books that are great resources for Women’s History Month.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Simple and the Ordinary.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

back to work

So my sabbatical from work has ended, in reality it ended a while ago, but it was only recently that I returned to school visits. My first one was at 4 day event in the West Bloomington area of Michigan, where I am honored to say I was the official "Pine Tree" author. The Pine Tree program is a district-wide reading program, where students are challenged to read a specially selected book titles. Lucky for me, Year of the Dog was one of the titles which is how I wound up in West Bloomington.

But since it was a district wide program, that meant there were a lot of students. Let me repeat that, there were a lot of students. Really. The photo below only shows half the room, my camera did not have a wide enough lens to capture more than that. As I watched the students come into my presentation room, all I could think of was a quote from Homer Price (when the doughnut machine malfunctions): "they just kept right on a comin', an a comin', an a comin', an a comin', an a comin'."

And it's about at this point I realize that West Bloomington is kind of an intimidating place to make my inaugural return visit.

Nonetheless, I entered the gauntlet. And it wasn't too bad. Performing a school visit is like riding a bicycle-- but if you haven't ridden in a while the bicycle chain might be a bit rusty. For example, I presented a slide show to the fifth graders with this image:
Ah, I can still hear the tittering. The last time I presented that lecture it was to adults...and I forgot the middle school mentality when reviewing ahead of time. Oops. Needless to say, that slide was deleted before the next group.

Which went smoother; and by the second day I felt back in the swing of things. Confidence in full gear, I now only felt bad that I did such a mediocre job for the first group.
But the best thing about the visits really were the kids. Creating books alone as well as reading and experiencing discouraging industry news by myself makes me forget that my books are actually read. And that is a nice feeling.And truly makes it worth it to go back to work.