Friday, November 30, 2007
Also, in case you'd like to find out more about this particular artform, you can find other poems to listen to over at LivePoetsDotCom. CAUTION: There are a few poems with swear words, etc. on this site, so don't let a child listen to this until you okay it first.
If you're ready to try performing in a poetry slam, Taylor offers A Baker's Dozen Secrets of Slam: 13 Tips for Performing Poetry in Public. Any takers?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Here's my submission: Some Tips for Girl Power, Hear Me Roar.
Now go on over and gain some knowledge.
Monday, November 26, 2007
2007 Cybils nominations are now closed. I am thrilled to be on the nominating committee for the MG/YA Non-Fiction category. While I haven't read all of these books yet, these books were nominated because someone really enjoyed them. I'm sure a few of these books will make it to my Great Books for Girls & Cool Books for Boys lists (Both lists are in serious need of some updating).
Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail
written by Danica McKellar
Hudson Street Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)
Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, and Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, and Invent Investigative Journalism
written by Ann Bausum
National Geographic Children's Books
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)
Here are links to the nomination lists in the other seven categories:
- Nonfiction Picture Books
- Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Graphic Novels
- Middle Grade Fiction
- Young Adult Fiction
- Fiction Picture Books
If you have a blog, please think about installing the Cybils widget from JacketFlap, with which you can display a new Cybils-nominated title every time your blog is refreshed. I've got mine set to show the MG/YA Non-Fiction Nominees. You can also customize colors and genres. Special thanks to Tracy Grand for providing this lovely widget free of charge for the Cybils.
Please note that if you purchase any of the Cybils titles by clicking through to Amazon or BookSense from any of the nominations posts (including this one) or from the Cybils widget a small commission will go to the Cybils organization. Proceeds will go towards prizes for the winners. Thanks for supporting the Cybils.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The ladies over at Writing YA have an eye opening discussion about ethnicity and YA. You must go on over to read the post and contribute to the comments.
Liz Scanlon has put together a stellar group of poets from the kidlit world--Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Fineman, Laurie Purdie Salas, TadMack from Finding Wonderland, Cloudscome from A Wrung Sponge, and Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect--to write a Crown Sonnet with her. I can't wait to read this one. For some powerful examples of a Crown Sonnet, go here and here.
Sara Lewis Holmes shares her podcast, A Cast of One...I love her description: "A writer reads out loud to herself. Because I need to taste the words."
The Cybils nominations are now closed. Go over here to read the index of nominated titles. I'm on the Non-Fiction MG/YA nominating panel, and am excited to be part of this process. The finalists will be announced on January 1, 2008.
Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.) Thank you, Tricia, for putting these links together.
- Ashley Wolff at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
- Karen Katz at Whimsy Books
- Maxwell Eaton III at Books and Other Thoughts
- Matthew Cordell at Just Like the Nut
- Rick Chrustowski at laurasalas
- Lisa Kopelke at Lisa's Little Corner of the Internet
- Melissa Iwai at Brooklyn Arden
- Susan Miller at Your Neighborhood Librarian
- Joanne Friar at The Longstockings
- Annette Heiberg at Lisa's Little Corner of the Internet
- Susie Jin at sruble's world
- Roz Fulcher at Goading the Pen
- Scott Bakal at Wild Rose Reader
- Tim Coffey at The Silver Lining
- Linas Alsenas at A Wrung Sponge
- Ellen Beier at What Adrienne Thinks About That
- Alexandra Boiger at Paradise Found
- Joe Kulka at ChatRabbit
- Kevin Hawkes at Cynthia Lord's Journal
- Diane Greenseid at Just One More Book!!
- Mary Haverfield at Your Neighborhood Librarian
- Denise Fleming at MotherReader
- Aaron Zenz at Jo's Journal
- Carol Schwartz at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
- Theresa Brandon at The Shady Glade
- Janet Stevens at The Miss Rumphius Effect
- Don Tate at The Silver Lining
- Laura Jacques at cynthialord's Journal
- Sarah Dillard at The Silver Lining
- Teri Sloat at The Miss Rumphius Effect
- Margot Apple at Jo’s Journal
- Rose Mary Berlin at Charlotte’s Library
- Carol Heyer at The Shady Glade
- Cecily Lang at Kate's Book Blog
- Cynthia Decker at The Silver Lining
- Mike Wohnoutka at laurasalas
- Lee White at Please Come Flying
- Denise Ortakales at cynthialord’s Journal
- Akemi Gutierrez at AmoXcalli and Cuentecitos
- Amiko Hirao at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Amy Schimler at Please Come Flying
- David Macaulay at Here in the Bonny Glen
- Lauren Stringer at laurasalas
- Greg Newbold at The Longstockings
- Holli Conger at Please Come Flying
- Judith Moffaft at Jo's Journal
- Lizzy Rockwell at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Matt Tavares at Please Come Flying
- Sheila Bailey at lizjonesbooks
- Sophie Blackall at not your mother’s bookclub
- Steven James Petruccio at Blog From the Windowsill
- Sylvia Long at Whimsy Books
- Timothy Bush at Here in the Bonny Glen
- Jane Dippold at Just Like the Nut
- Jane Dyer at Whimsy Books
- Wendy Edelson at What Adrienne Thinks About That
- Paul Brewer at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
- Brian Biggs at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Calef Brown
- Timothy Bush
- Barbara Lanza
- Lauren Stringer
- Graeme Base at Just One More Book
- Cece Bell at Jo's Journal
- Stephanie Roth at Writing with a broken tusk
- Sherry Rogers at A Life in Books
- John Hassett at cynthialord’s Journal
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
As a young girl, I couldn't wait for this holiday, much to my mom's dismay. She was and still is an incredible cook, when it comes to fragrant Korean meals that were our daily sustenance. But Americanized meals? The lack of hot spices puzzled her, and her attempts at cooking American were dismal at best. So when she took up the gauntlet every Thanksgiving to cook a traditional feast, you know that's pure love brewing up magic. Especially since her birthday falls on Thanksgiving every few years. When I learned how to cook (thanks to those Home Ec classes in high school all the girls were forced to take), I was able to create my own Thankgiving/Birthday meals and give my mom an opportunity to be relax and enjoy her special day.
After I graduated from college and moved to Boston, I had my first couple Thanksgivings with my best friend's German family. Talk about a Thanksgiving smorgasbord of American and German influences. And then it made me realize that my mother's Thanksgiving meals were a celebration of everything American and Korean and it was dog gone wonderful.
Afterwards, I spent a few Thanksgivings at another college friend's home, and had my first taste of what I imagined a true traditional Thanksgiving was all about. Martha Stewart could be cloned from my friend's mother or vice versa. Talk about a multitude of dishes and desserts that were made ahead of time. Handmade decorations, incredible flower arrangements, little presents wrapped at every place setting. A total gluttonous feast for all the senses.
Then I met the man who would later become my husband, and our Thanksgivings have always been together.
It wasn't until four years ago that Thanksgiving held a different meaning for me. My nephew Michael, was killed in a freak shooting accident, November 19th, a few days before he was to visit all the family in Boston. My youngest was two months old at the time, and in the last conversation we ever had, Michael told me he couldn't wait to meet his new cousin. My other two children were so excited for Michael's visit, especially my eldest. She loved her cousin dearly.
And then we got The Call. The call no one ever wants where you feel like your very breath has been punched right out of you and you're free falling into nothingness. That Thanksgiving was so painful, so filled with What If's. It was a very difficult time to be grateful for anything, when we felt we were robbed of all the possibility and hope of Michael's young life.
Michael was one of the brave who served in the Marines, was sent overseas, and saw too much despair and horror. He was one of the hopeful, who was finally home and ready to start a new life. He was one of the considerate who would help a family member or friend in need. He was one of the honorable, who believed in the power of his word.
A year later, we were to mourn the loss of my mother-in-law, who at the age of 87 was still loving life but missed her first grandchild even more. I loved her dearly but never could say it out loud to her, and for that I have much regret.
Life does go on, and while I do have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, I still find myself at a loss. So while I take a few days off, and focus on revising my manuscript in honor of Michael, I offer you A Thanksgiving Meal Menu of Conversation Starters, in celebration of some of the bloggers who have some wonderful words to share:
A Special Thanksgiving Tradition
Some Thanksgiving Poetry
Robert's Snow Auction
The Cycle of Life
Warriors in the Battle of Should, Part I and Part II
Living with Food Allergies
Give the World, Gift a Book: Downloadable Bookmarks
Growing Bookworms Newletter
Poetry Stretch Results--Poems of Apology
November Carnival of Children's Literature and Tips
An incredible crown of glory
A surprise engagement
Children's Books That Never Were
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
How's that for the first snow of the season? I am not amused.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Thankfully it has been somewhat quiet. One sick child, one kid in school, and all I've got to keep my eye on is the sly four-year-old who keeps trying to get my wand. I've got to work quick.
Ooooo. This is going to be difficult. I still can't figure out who will be the best owner for me. I mean, who will give me yummy chocolates, a warm roof over my head, and listen to me when I point my wand and be the ultimate taskmaster? Who will absolve me from all blame, bring me to all the fancy award dinners, and make sure I'm not crammed into some moth infested closet and left alone in the dark? Gulp.
While I'm making my life decision, I thought I'd share the great entries from the Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There contest:
1. M. Thompson: "I'm a huge fan of Markus Zusak. If I mix up his name a little, I've got a character named Marzuk. A mystical wizard with powerful ways of persuasion. I think I'm actually going to use this one in a manuscript!"
2. Cloudscome: "How about a 10 year old girl named Looney Lowery... she has a talent for seeing patterns and color combinations but her communication skills as sadly deficient. She gets into all sorts of difficulties at school but she is a wiz at computer graphics. Parents are divorced. She lives in Illinois with mom and dad lives in Hong Kong. (They email a lot). Little sis is autistic. She goes to an elite prep school and makes friends with a new kid who has been kicked out of four previous schools. I better stop here."
3. Sam Riddleburger: "As for the contest, our Sock Monkey won't let me enter it due to his petty jealousy of other monkeys. However, may I point out that the young artist in Qwikpick wasn't named Dave RASKIN for nothing. Also, if you wanted to make a name out of Dickens, you might spell it backwards which would be Snekcid, prononced Lemony Snickett! Coincidence?"
4. Mrs. T: Isabela Hawthorne is a direct descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Well, by adoption anyway. Lila Hawthorne adopted Isabela at age 5 from her native Guatemala. Having the Hawthorne name might not be a bad thing if it didn’t draw all that unwanted attention from her 9th grade English teacher, especially when Isabela struggles to read 4th grade reading material; she was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. Will she overcome her learning disability? Will she learn to feel truly part of her white, literary adoptive family? Can she find her own unique voice and make it heard among the din of conflicting expectations?
5. Sue Daniels: I love Rachel Cohn's books and think there should be the Cohn Institute for Wayward Girls. The perfect place to send teen girls who need some rest and relaxation from their stressed out lives.
6. Tricia: Let me introduce Silver Stein, a feisty 13-year old girl with a talent for cartooning, spoonerisms and waxing rhapsodic. She is a dreamer who isn't discouraged by Whatifs. She and her friend Ursula sell homemade books (written and illustrated by Silver, published by Ursula) in the summer instead of lemonade. Someday they're both going to make it big.
Okay, this was a tough one. I hope I chose right! Miss Rumphy...send HWM your snail mail address. You're my new owner! Treat me right and I'll make sure you have good writing juju!
Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.) Thank you, Tricia, for putting these links together. And thank you, Jules for organizing this incredible outreach effort to spread the word on Robert's Snow. If anything, this proves it truly takes a village.
- Daniel Mahoney at Paradise Found and Great Solutions to Team Challenges
- Brie Spangler at Lectitans
- Yangsook Choi at What Adrienne Thinks About That
- Ginger Nielson at MISS O's SCHOOL LIBRARY
- Philomena O'Neill at Jo's Journal
- James Gurney at Charlotte's Library
- David Ezra Stein at HipWriterMama
- Barbara Garrison at Brooklyn Arden
- Hideko Takahashi at The Silver Lining
- Brian Floca at A Fuse #8 Production
- Mary Peterson at Brooklyn Arden
- Maggie Swanson at Chicken Spaghetti
- Elizabeth Dulemba at sruble's world
- Michelle Chang at The Longstockings
- Gretel Parker at Finding Wonderland
- Sara Kahn at Kate's Book Blog
- Ann Koffsky at Book Buds
- Frank Dormer at What Adrienne Thinks About That
- Erin Eitter Kono at Sam Riddleburger
- John Nez
- Julie Fromme Fortenberry at Your Neighborhood Librarian
- Sharon Vargo
- Abigail Marble
- Marion Eldridge at Chicken Spaghetti
- Chris Gall at Through the Studio Door
- Annette Simon at Check It Out and Deo Writer
- Rolandas Kiaulevicius at a wrung sponge
- Paige Keiser at Your Neighborhood Librarian
- Tracy McGuinness-Kelly at Sam Riddleburger's blog
- Jeannie Brett at cynthialord’s Journal
- Peter Emmerich at Loree Griffin Burns: A Life in Books
- Anna Dewdney at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Erik Brooks at Bildungsroman
- Joan Waites
- Patrick Girouard at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Yuyi Morales at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Jennifer Thermes at Through the Studio Door
- Liza Woodruff at Check It Out
- Ilene Richard at Something Different Every Day
- Molly Idle at The Shady Glade
- Leanne Franson at Just Like the Nut
- Anni Matsik at A Sound From My Heart
- Inga Poslitur
To recap...the auction starts today, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Thank you for helping to raise money to find a cure for cancer.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
HWM: Yes, Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy?
Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy: You know what I just thought of?
Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy: How about if we put a Hip in front of my name and then I could be HWM Sock Monkey Fairy?
HWM: What a clever idea! HWM Sock Monkey Fairy it is!
HWM Sock Monkey Fairy: Who do you think will win me?
HWM: I don't know. Hmmm....
If you don't know what this conversation is about...I'm searching for a new home for HWM Sock Monkey Fairy. I made her all by myself, from pretty new socks that were never worn. It would never do to have a stinky sock monkey fairy. Oh, no. This little gal is all about attitude, lovely details, and helping whisk away those unsavory writer's block moments. She's a Hip Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy.
I made her just for my Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest. The deadline for the contest is this Sunday, November 18th, 11pm, EST. If you'd like a chance to win her and save her from my children's repeated attempts to claim her as their own, your mission is to go here and find out what you need to do.
Hurry, please! HWM Sock Monkey Fairy will be ever so grateful and will be sure to bestow good writing juju to you.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Anne Sexton was a modern confessional poet and her work was often considered to be controversial. Her mentor was W.D. Snodgrass; one of her good friends, Sylvia Plath. She won many awards for her work, including the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Live or Die (1967). Sadly, Anne's battle with depression ended in suicide.
If you have five minutes, listen to this rare footage of Anne Sexton reciting her poem, Her Kind. It is incredible. Though the story of her life, and some of the controversy in here are so very sad. The words to the poem are below this.
by Anne Sexton
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
Click here to read the rest of the poem
Kelly over at Big A little a is hosting Poetry Friday today. Go on over and find some great poems to start off a relaxing weekend...
And in case you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, my Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There contest ends on Sunday, November 18th. Details here. The lovely prize is my handmade Writer's Muse Sock Monkey. (see picture on sidebar)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
For those naysayers who say a true family cannot exist unless the family members share the same DNA, though that too can sometimes cause some controversy, well, these families I know would certainly prove anyone wrong. I'm of the opinion that no matter how different an adopted child may seem to be initially from their adoptive family or vice versa...once all the family members have adjusted and fallen in love with each other, the external differences melt away. Those who know these families can only see family resemblances and a REAL FAMILY.
Rose wanted to share a few things about National Adoption Month, and since she said this best, I'm quoting her from an e-mail: "I'm on a mission to get lots of people thinking about this in the kidlit world. There are plenty of reasons to acknowledge adoption. Of course an adopted mom and an author with a book featuring an adopted protagonist would say that, right? But the reasons go beyond my kids & my story.
It turns out, we live in a big ol' adoption nation. Studies show that one hundred million people have someone adopted in their family -- that's a third of us in the US. Yet, I can vouch to this, many Americans are clueless on what adoption is & isn't. At a recent school visit I talked about adoption and a little girl raised her hand and said, "Adoption is when movie stars fly planes faraway and get babies from dirty orphanages." (I kid you not.) Many adoptive families I know tell me they are stopped out in public and asked questions like, "How much did your son
cost?" Or if they have more than one child (who doesn't look like them), "Are they REALLY brother and sister?"
Rose has written a Personal View for papertigers.org, and she was kind enough to share it with me. I think you'll like what she has written: Three Cheers for Adoption Books and Why We All Should Read 'Em.
There are so many websites and organizations about adoption. Rose mentioned these two organizations in her article. You might want to start from these sites in your research to find reputable adoption organizations.
Institute for Adoption Information, Inc.--an organization that strives to promote understanding about adoption.
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption--the founder of Wendy's created this organization to help find loving homes for foster children.
Some Amazon.com Lists on Books on Adoption (Please note, I have not read any of these books, these lists are compiled by different readers.)
Books that will change the way you think about adoption, Amazon.com list
Top 10 Books for International Adoption, Amazon.com list
Books I will read to my adopted child, Amazon.com list
Fiction about Children in Foster Care Placements, Amazon.com list
Foster Care Children's Books, Amazon.com list
Some New Books for Children:
The Red Thread by Grace Lin
Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose A. Lewis
We Belong Together: A Book about Families and Adoption by Todd Parr
And in case you want to read about some first hand experiences on adoption, here is the November 2007 Adoption Blog Carnival and a more intensive Blog Carnival from September 2007 hosted by Suzanne over at Adventures of Daily Living.
Auction 1 will begin accepting bids on Monday, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Here are the official rules for the auction.
Remember my interview with David Ezra Stein? Well, against my better judgement, I'm showing you his wonderful snowflake. Again. Isn't it so sweet? Now, I want this snowflake, but...if you must bid on this snowflake, then bid away. Let's just find this snowflake and all the other gorgeous masterpieces a loving home.
To recap...the auction starts on Monday, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Thank you for helping to raise money to find a cure for cancer.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Isn't this little sock monkey the cutest? I made her special--just for this contest. Yes. I made this Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy all by myself. Handstitched and everything. A total, total labor of love. Of course my children have discovered her, and have been trying to figure out how to sneak her past heavily guarded doors...so you must save her....
A few disclosures about my sock monkey--
1. She is handsewn so there will be a few uneven stitches here and there. But she's so pretty...
2. There are buttons and other little ornamental items sewn on. Do not give to a baby or child to play with...Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy is not a toy.
3. She will have a wand very soon so she can give you gentle reminders to keep working and inspire you to weave your own spell with words...
Lisa Yee, had mentioned here and here, of how sock monkeys can help ease writer's block. And since we had the WBBT going on last week and featured just some of the incredible authors out there, and Lisa Yee loves contests, and I've had some wonderful authors who graciously allowed me to interrogate them with tons of questions, and I have some more authors patiently waiting for me to put their questions together for some new interviews................it only seemed fitting to hold a contest in honor of all the authors out there who have created incredible characters we have fallen in love with--whether we loved to hate the characters, we have wanted to be like them or whether we have fallen in love with the characters. Phew...I know, this was quite a mouthful of a long sentence.
Here are the rules for the Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest:
1. Think of an author's name (living, dead), and create a character name from their name and cool personality of the character. Or if you want, create a whole new world, a city, a cool hang out place, etc. Use your imagination.
2. Leave a comment here about your new creation. And you are free to do what you wish with your new character, place, etc. after this...hopefully you will be inspired to create a new manuscript or add to a current one!
3. The deadline for the contest will be Sunday, November 18th at 11:00pm, EST.
4. I will pick a winner from the entries. The winning prize is this Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy designed by moi. Look into her pretty shell eyes.........You know you want her. Save her from some children who are conspiring to kidnap her and she will be ever grateful and will bestow good writing juju to you. And all you have to do is be a little creative to honor an author.
Monday, November 12, 2007
He was so impressed with her accomplishments, he went out the next day and bought the movie. I was fiddling around on YouTube last night, and found the first 20 minutes of the movie...What do you think?
Friday, November 9, 2007
Lisa has written some wonderful books for middle grade readers: Millicent Min, Girl Genius; Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time; So Totally Emily Ebers; and Good Luck Ivy.
Side note: Millicent Min, Girl Genius was even on the sixth-graders' reading list (of my local middle school) this past summer! Kids are on waiting lists to read about Millicent Min and Stanford Wong. How cool is that!
Millicent Min, Girl Genius is Lisa's Yee's first book. What a great book! You have to love a brilliant, geeky, socially incompetent girl who figures out a way to get back at a bully and just wants to be like other girls her age. In this book, Millicent learns about loyalty, friendships, and being comfortable with who she is from her new friends, Emily Ebers and Stanford Wong. Brilliance never looked so fun!
Check out all of Millicent's awards! Sid Fleischman Humor Award 2004; Publishers Weekly Flying Start; CCBC Choice Bank Street Book of the Year 2004; International Reading Association Children's Choice; 2005-2006 Texas Lone Star List Nominee; The Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee; Georgia Book Award Nominee; Garden State Book Awards Nominee; Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Nominee; Nevada Young Readers Award Nominee; Nene Award Nominee (Hawaii); Insinglass Teen Award Nominee (New Hampshire); Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee - Pacific Northwest Library Association; South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee.
Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time has been recognized as a ALA Best Book for Young Adults; CCBC Choice; Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best"; Chinese-American Librarians Association Best Book Award for Youth. Stanford finally realizes how easy he has it--He has a girlfriend who doesn't care what he looks like, dresses like, or thinks like--as long as he is honest with her and true to himself?
I adored So Totally Emily Ebers and was surprised at the depth of emotion Emily had in the book. So different from how she appeared in the Millicent Min and Stanford Wong books. As a sidenote, there was a brand of designer clothes in So Totally Emily Ebers that sounded so familiar, and since I had the opportunity to ask Lisa, I had to ask her about the name. She confirmed the origin of the name--an author pal--and now you'll have to read the book to figure it out! Hee, hee. I was inspired to create a contest about this, A Shout Out to All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest, and had it posted here, but forgot about the long holiday weekend and all. So, look for this contest next week...
It is with much pleasure that I welcome Lisa Yee to my blog. You are going to love what she has to say.
HWM: What was the most difficult part of writing from each of these three voices--Millicent Min, Stanford Wong and Emily Ebers?
Lisa: It was actually easy to write in three voices, once I found my groove. Because I wrote MILLICENT first, I already knew the characters of Stanford and Emily for their books. However, the depth of their emotions/heartache did surprise me.
I guess the most difficult part was actually technical. I had to make sure that in the overlapping scenes, the dialogue matched up, and that all the dates were correct, etc. It was sort of like plotting a mystery novel where everything must come together to be believable.
HWM: When you first started writing, was it difficult to find an agent or publisher who was interested in publishing books with an Asian protagonist? Do you think the marketing process is different?
Lisa: I didn’t have any difficulty. However, most of that credit goes to being with Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic from the outset. Arthur discovered me from the slush pile. There was never any discussion about Millicent Min being Asian. It’s just who she was. Although the plot changed several times, her ethnicity never did.
Marketing-wise, I was so pleased that her being Asian was not an issue, nor was it the selling point of the novel. This was a book about an 11-year old genius who was lonely, quirky, and funny (although she was not aware of any of these things). It was positioned as a realistic contemporary fiction, which it is.
HWM: When did you know you had the right ending for each of these books?
Lisa: I always write my endings first and then write my way toward them. It’s always the first 50 pages that cause me the most difficulty. So I overwrite and then cut, cut, cut away.
HWM: Which character, if any, is most like you?
Lisa: I’m sort of a little Millicent-y in that I got really good grades in school and would have probably passed out if I got less than an A. But I was social, like Emily. I was nothing like Stanford, although do have a boy’s sense of humor and am not easily grossed out.
HWM: What did you learn from writing from a teenage boy’s point of view?
Lisa: I learned that the emotions boys have are not all that different than girls’-- it’s just that the way they communicate is different. Boys tend to hold things in. Girls talk them out. Of course that all changes when we become adults . . . NOT!!!!
HWM: Who was the toughest character to write about?
Lisa: Of all my characters, Digger was the hardest. He’s Stanford Wong’s friend/enemy. Digger is such a mean negative guy. But I hinted at his home life with a father who hit him. I didn’t want to make him one-dimensional, and wanted to explore why bullies are the way they are. Quite a few kids picked up Digger’s vulnerabilities and have commented on it to me.
HWM: Tell me about your experience as The Thurber House Writer-in-Residence.
Lisa: Ah, such a wonderful time. The Thurber House is in Columbus, OH and it is the boyhood home of author James Thurber. The house is a museum, but the attic has been transformed into a two-bedroom apartment . . . all for the writer-in-residence! I taught at a homeless shelter, and at the Thurber Writing Camp, for a few hours a week. The rest of the time, I wrote. Well, wait. That’s not entirely true. I did fall on my face while running and was privy to the inside of a hospital emergency room. And I did do some hobnobbing with other authors, bloggers, ghosts and literary-types.
HWM: How much research was required to write the American Girl novel, Good Luck Ivy? Will you be writing more books for Ivy?
Lisa: American Girl provided a researcher/historian, so any questions I had I could ask him. (How cool is that!?!?!!) I did go to San Francisco though. It was mostly to soak up the atmosphere. I walked around the areas Ivy lived. I visited Chinatown and ate at restaurant similar to the one I imagined her grandparents owning. And, of course, I had to go to Ghirardelli Square to sample the ice cream and chocolates since I made sure that was in the book. Ah, what we do for research!
As for writing more Ivy Ling books, there are no others planned at this time.
HWM: I understand you have a few new books in the future. What can you tell me about them?
Lisa: I’ve got a young adult novel called DEFINITELY MAYBE coming out in fall 2008. It’s about a goth girl from Florida whose mother runs a charm school for beauty pageant contestants. Some really bad stuff happens, and Maybe (short for Maybelline – she was named after her mother’s favorite mascara) runs away from home. She ends up in Hollywood looking for the father who doesn’t know she exists.
I also have a couple of chapter books coming out in 2009 and 2010 called JUST BOBBY. It’s about a very sincere, accident-prone boy who’s trying to navigate though his chaotic family life and the fourth grade. All these books are with Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic.
HWM: It’s one thing to be funny in real life; it’s another to be able to convey the humor in writing. What secrets can you share for writing with humor?
Lisa: Be aware of your punctuation.
? . : ; !!!!
Really though. It’s all pacing. And some other stuff. I don’t think about being funny when I write. It just sort of comes out. I believe that in some ways our writing can mirror out views on life. My teenaged daughter is always saying (and not as a compliment), “Geez, mom, you’re always cracking yourself up.”
I like to laugh, so that spills over into my work.
HWM: Do you feel pressure to be on…to be funny, all the time? What do you do to alleviate the pressure?
Lisa: One time, when I was in high school, my date said, “Everyone says you’re funny. So say something funny.”
That was the quickest way to get me to clam up.
These days, I’m just myself. Sometimes funny. Sometimes strange. Sometimes sad. Whatever. Whatever. Or not. Or more.
HWM: What has been your most rewarding experience as a writer?
Lisa: Some letters I receive are so touching. And then when I get to meet my readers in person, it is just so heartwarming. I love it when a fan approaches me with one of my books, all bookmarked and worn from reading. Lovely.
HWM: Do you outline or free form?
Lisa: Outline. Always.
HWM: Where do you like to write?
Lisa: I write on the road when I have to. But my favorite place is in my office, surrounded by all my stuff. I’m not one of those people who can write in a coffeehouse. I don’t like people looking at me when I write. If someone is standing behind me when I am typing they may as well hit me over the head with a hunk of smelly cheese--it’s that discombobulating.
HWM: What is your writing process or ritual?
Lisa: I need big heavy chunks of uninterrupted time to write. Probably because my warm-up routine takes so long. First I have to peruse the NY TIMES online, then Drudge Report, then NY Post, and of course, the billions of blogs. Once my head is filled with news, and I know I’m not missing anything, I can get to work. Only then, it’s usually time for a snack.
HWM: How do you think of your contest ideas?
Lisa: They usually just smack me in the side of the head. I think I’m due to have one in a month or so.
HWM: What has been the biggest surprise of your writing career?
Lisa: The amount on non-writing I do. This year in particular I’ve been on the road a lot. I had no idea this was part of being an author!
HWM: If you could share any unique writing tip to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Lisa: Assign a word to your main character. Then constantly refer back to that word when you are working on that book. For example, Millicent Min’s word was “lonely.”
HWM: What was the best writing advice someone ever gave you?
Lisa: To paraphrase Anne Lamott because I am too lazy to look it up, she once said something like, “Don’t be afraid to write sh*tty first drafts.”
HWM: Tell me about the most interesting comment from a fan.
Lisa: There’s a character in Stanford’s book named Marley. Marley’s a kid who’s practically invisible and has no friends. When I was speaking to a large audience, a boy stood up and said, “I need to know what happens to Marley.”
Later, his teachers told me that the boy was exactly like Marley, and never spoke. So for him to stand up in front of about 300 other students was a very brave thing of him to do.
HWM: Why do you blog?
Lisa: For fun and because I use my blog as a writing journal. I print out my blogs and keep them in a binder to remind myself of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.
HWM: How much time do you take to write one of your posts? -- What is your favorite post?
Lisa: Each post takes less than an hour to write. However, all uploading/downloading those photos and links are what take up all the time. I don’t have an all-time fav post. Recent ones I like though are when Son got to meet JK Rowling, or when author Mary Calhoun read my Horn Book essay, or when I blow up Peeps, or when . . . oops, better stop now.
HWM: How’s Colin Firth?
Lisa: J -- That’s too personal to get into here.
HWM: Peepy or Sock Monkey?
HWM: If you found a way to go back to your teen years as one of your characters, what would you do differently?
Lisa: I’d spend less time on my hair.
HWM: What makes you laugh?
Lisa: My kids.
HWM: If you were a superhero, what powers would you want and why?
Lisa: The power to take five-minute nap on command and wake up refreshed.
Other Places to find Lisa Yee:
Excerpt from Millicent Min: Girl Genius, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003
Excerpt from Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005
Excerpt from So Totally Emily Ebers, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007
Today's WBBT Interviews:
Loree Griffin Burns at Chasing Ray
Lily Archer at The Ya Ya Yas
Rick Riordan at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Gabrielle Zevin at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Dia Calhoun at lectitans
Shannon Hale at Miss Erin
Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple at Shaken & Stirred
Alan Gratz at Interactive Reader
Lisa Yee at HipWriterMama