Sunday, January 05, 2014

So long, 2013. Welcome, 2014!

The view from my parents' backyard deck.
This is also where our wedding ceremony was held.
My two-week+ vacation is coming to an end. I spent it mainly in Southern California at my parents' house. The last time I was there was for Greg and my wedding a year and a half ago. That was also the last time I had seen my family, before the craziness that was 2013 happened. I think the CA sunshine did Greg a lot of good, and he's getting stronger each day. We're settling into our "new normal"--trying to get back to living life, yet with the shadow of the possibility of recurrence hanging over us.

It was wonderfully relaxing to be in CA for so long, and save for the first rainy, cold day, the rest of our time there was greeted with sunshine and 70 and 80-degree days.

My vacation in numbers:

Days I played tennis with my Dad: 11
Sets won: 1 (while playing doubles and partnered with my HS friend who was the star of our championship tennis team)
Children played with: 12
Dogs played with: 2
Me and my brother Ben and future sister-in-law Iris's dog Oreo on Christmas Eve.
Books read: 3.001 (read an ARC of Noggin by John Corey Whaley, re-read Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink, re-read final draft of Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor, read the first two chapters of IQ84 by Haruki Murakami)
Good Wife episodes watched: 14 (finished up Season 4, caught up on Season 5 so far)
Movies watched: 1 (Saving Mr. Banks with my mom)
Work emails filed/deleted: 600+ (more to go through today before going back to work tomorrow)
Walks taken: 10
Times jogged: 2
All-you-can-eat sushi meals: 2
Ramen meals: 2
In-n-Out Burger meals: 3
Massages: 3
Karaoke nights: 1
Friends' homes visited: 2
High school friends met up with: 6
Books given as gifts: 27 (mostly children's books)
My brother Felix reading MR. TIGER GOES WILD to my nephew
Different types of fruit eaten: 12 (pomelos, oranges, apples, cherimoya, papaya, guava, kumquat, grapes, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, watermelon)
Cherimoya. Also known as custard apple, sugar apple, and soursop.
New Year's resolutions made: 12

2013 was a tough year--but here's hoping to a better 2014. Happy New Year, all!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I'm thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we've recently moved apartments, while packing and unpacking, I've found myself discovering forgotten things and re-reading old journals, which led me to reread old blog posts, too. I'm thankful for these journals and blogs, because I love remembering who I was and what I've done--and seeing how far I've come (and yet, how I'm still the same person). In one old journal entry, I commented on how my boyfriend at the time called me a "one trick pony" because all I ever did was work, and all I could talk about was work. And in that entry I said that the busy work time was only temporary. Ha! Little did I know...

But I'm thankful that I have a job that I still love, no matter how busy and stressful it gets.

Other things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving:

-That G is alive and relatively well, that we have this lovely life together
-For my health
-For health insurance and great doctors
-For our new, spacious apartment with a working elevator
-For friends and family, there for us in so many different ways
-For our cats, even though they've been waking me up in the middle of the night
-For good food and drink (especially brunch!)
-For leisurely walks
-For Zumba
-For escapist books, blogs, television shows (I've been especially addicted to The Good Wife this year), and social networking
-For my monthly Karaoke club, and music in general
-For my brilliant authors, illustrators, and coworkers

-For the little pleasures of life
-For the great pleasures of life!

Now I'm off to make an apple pie. Enjoy your day, all!

Monday, October 28, 2013

***Re-posted from the Blue Rose Girls ***

I've been a very bad blogger this year, mainly because of this, of course. But G's treatments are now done, and we're working toward getting our life back to our "new normal." But first, we're moving apartments this week and packing is exhausting!

As always happens, while packing I've been finding forgotten things, like this letter Grace had sent me back when we were both seniors in high school. I had brought this with me from my parents' house in California a while back because I wanted to quote some of the letter in a talk I was giving, I think.

In it, we talked about boys, of course. I had asked her to send me a boyfriend, so she sent me this guy:


Cute, huh? She named him Roger.

And here are a few snippets from the letter:

"I'm going to illustrate children's books, y'know. That would be so cool. One day when we're all grown up, you'll see in a book store: Illustrated by Grace P. Lin. That would be excellent."

and:

"I wish I could show you my portfolio. Then you could tell me if you think I'm talented. Or then you could lie to me and tell me you think I'm the bestest artist in the world and of course I will make it into RISD."

I wonder if Grace has the letter I wrote back to her. But I'm sure I said something like:

I think you're talented, Grace! You are the bestest artist in the world, you will make it into RISD, and you will become a famous children's book author and illustrator.

See, I can predict the future!

**edited to add**
For those of you who don't know the story of how Grace and I met, you can read more about it here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In memory of James Sing

parasailing in Bali
I was shocked to hear the news that my friend James Sing passed away a few weeks ago on September 12. 

His "Celebration of Life" was held in San Francisco today, and although I was not able to attend, I wanted to honor him in my way.

James was my best friend for many years, many years ago, in the late 1990s. We met in 1996 while both studying at the Mandarin Training Center in Taipei, Taiwan. We lived nearby, and soon were hanging out all the time. We had an intense, intimate friendship, and although it was never romantic, sometimes we fought like a couple might. But he was the type of friend I could call at any hour of the night, and knew that he wouldn't mind--and vice versa. When I was sad, he'd bend over backwards to make me laugh. I can still hear his laugh echo in my head today. I have so many wonderful memories of our time together in Taiwan--late nights eating xi fan near his apartment, his singing "Yi Qian Ge Xiang Xin de Li You" at Karaoke, dancing at various night clubs, eating guo tie after class, studying at Jamaica Cafe or the student lounge, riding around on his motorcycle or my scooter. During our time there, we traveled together to Bali, Indonesia, and to Hong Kong and Canton. We stayed close after we both returned to the States, and we overlapped living in NYC for a little while, but he moved back to CA a year or so after I arrived there from Boston.

He was probably the smartest person I knew, and because of that, I still remember my delight at schooling him in the difference between nauseous and nauseated. (Of course, correcting him while he was feeling nauseated was probably not the ideal time.) 

Most of all, James valued loyalty--he was the truest, most loyal friend.

We'd drifted in recent years, as friends often do, and in the last few years our interactions were limited to random g-chats about skateboarding, and mice for his lizard Opus; and some random Facebook comments about Lin-sanity. His last comment was just a few days before his death.


This is selfish of me, but I take some small comfort knowing that, in the days before his death, I at least crossed his mind in a small way, even if it was for killing a fly. And I hope that he knew that, no matter how we drifted, he was often in my thoughts.

My heart goes out to his family and friends. His loss leaves a huge hole, but I hope they can take some small comfort with how loved James was, and how influential he was to so many people. 

Please do take a look at this fund that has been created in James's honor, and if you're able, please make a contribution:

http://www.crowdrise.com/JamesSingMemorialFund/fundraiser/allensing


Monday, June 03, 2013

Why I've been (relatively) quiet this year

I've been meaning for a while to write this post to let everyone know what's been going on with me (with us)--perhaps some of you have seen on Facebook or Twitter some updates or have heard bits and pieces from me or others, but I thought it would easiest to give an update all at once.

So, here's the deal:

Basically, soon after our wedding, Greg hurt his back and ribs (or so he thought) fairly severely while playing golf. After about two months, when he wasn't getting better, he went to the doctor who took an X-Ray and said that he was fine, that it was a muscle injury, and that he could try physical therapy, which he did for a few more months. Nothing was quite working, and at the end of January a large bruise showed up under his ribs on the left side. He went back to the doctor who ordered a CT scan, and they discovered what they thought at the time was a large kidney mass.

He went through surgery on February 12 to have the mass and a kidney removed. The surgery was successful, although he ended up losing his spleen as well (silver lining--you can live a relatively normal life without a spleen and just one kidney). The mass was extremely large--it was described by the surgeon as being the size of a football. (!!) Another said it was the size of Greg's head, another said it was the size of a small watermelon! No doubt it had been growing without him knowing for many years.

The pathology report came back a few weeks later, and we were told it was a rare form of cancer, a type of sarcoma. His type is diagnosed for just 1-3 people per million each year. Nobody knows what causes it. (I always knew Greg was one in a million!)

Again, the surgery was successful in that as far as we can all tell, they got it all out (thank you Dr. Birns)--so far, there is no sign of remaining cancer cells, nor that it's spread. But sarcomas tend to come back, so he's going through 4-5 months of chemo to try to lower the chances of recurrence. He started his third round today--in fact, I'm posting this from his treatment room.

We've definitely had some complications and set-backs along the way--a long recovery from the initial surgery, plus an ER visit and multiple hospital stays in-between. But we've been staying in overall good spirits, all things considered. Greg has been amazingly strong through this, and we've had wonderful support from friends and family and colleagues.

I don't plan to blog about this much if at all beyond this post, but because everything that's happened has caused such changes and upheaval in our lives, I wanted to post this update. Life has slowly been settling into what we're calling our "new normal"--I'm getting back to a somewhat regular work schedule again after a very erratic few months, although of course I still have a lot of catching up to do and am working from home as needed. Is it really June already?!

I want to thank everyone (both belatedly and in advance) for being understanding about my late or unreturned emails, phone calls, missed deadlines, canceled plans, etc. And I want to give a huge shout-out to my assistant Bethany who has kept all of my projects (and her own) moving forward, at the expense of her work-life balance and emotional well-being! And thanks to everyone who has pitched in to help in any way they could, to friends and family and even acquaintances who have sent gifts, spent time, for good wishes, prayers, and positive thoughts.

We're hanging in there. It's been a rocky road and certainly not how we expected to spend our first year of marriage, but we'll get through this together (in sickness and in health, right?). Right now, I'm looking forward to August when Greg's last round of chemo (we hope) will be behind us. And may I add, thank goodness we have health insurance?

People have asked how they can help: please make a donation towards sarcoma research at the National Cancer Institute, or make a gift to Mt. Sinai where Greg is being treated.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate!

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted, but here I am.

It's been a busy year, both personally (we got married! We're looking to buy a place!) and professionally (lots of travel, lost of books to edit, lots of managing), and thus we stayed in NYC this holiday season--couldn't bear the thought of getting on a plane and going cross-country again. I need time to unwind and decompress (see my post over at the Blue Rose Girls on Battling Burnout).

I was reading this post on Gawker: "The Day we Became Cynical: How did you find out Santa Isn't Real?" and thought I'd post my own experiences.

I don't remember how old I was, but there were two main incidents that led me to the knowledge that Santa wasn't real.

1) my older brother and I decided to write a letter to Santa with all of our questions. One question involved Rudolph. I can't remember our question, but when a letter from Santa came back (his handwriting suspiciously similar to our father's handwriting), his answer was something to the effect of "Rudolph lived so long ago, I can't remember." Of course, my brother and I were indignant--I assume my brother probably did not believe at that point. For me, it gave me some nagging doubt.

2) one of Santa's gifts to me (a teddy bear) came wrapped in an old shoebox that had been sitting in our basement for a while. I pointed this out to my parents, who replied that Santa probably saw it and decided to use it. I wasn't convinced.

Of course, my brothers and I pretended to believe in Santa long after we learned he wasn't year. We wanted more presents, of course!

Happy holidays, all!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Singapore and BEA

Cross-posted from Blue Rose Girls.

***

I've been MIA again lately--and I apologize, but my posting will be sporadic until August, most likely.

Two weeks ago I was in Singapore for the Asian Festival for Children's Content. I had never been to Singapore, and was excited to go, mainly because I had heard so many incredible things about the food there! I was, of course, also looking forward to the conference, and meeting friends I only knew through blogs and Twitter, like Tarie Sabido, who blogs at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, and is a huge fan of Grace Lin's work. Tarie and I arranged to have dinner my first night in Singapore. I had a bit of a hellish trip over--a delayed flight to London resulted in a mixed connection, and I ended up having to hang out at Heathrow for over nine hours. All was not lost, though, as I got a much-needed mani/pedi while I waited, and still made it to Singapore in time to check in, unpack, and meet Tarie for dinner.

I had been told that I HAD to have a dish called "chicken rice" while there, and so Tarie and I walked over to the nearest food centre, Makansutra Glutton's Bay. There are these food centres all over Singapore, and they're basically outdoor food courts with all kinds of food. We found chicken rice, which is basically rice cooked in a special chicken broth with chicken. It's a very simple, tasty dish. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
chicken rice!

Tarie and me

The next morning Tarie and I met to head over to the festival together. Leonard Marcus gave the morning's keynote, and then there were several breakout sessions. I attended one on translation, and one on the Filipino Book Market--I found both to be fascinating.

In the afternoon, Sarah Odedina, Managing Director of Hot Key Books in the UK, and I spoke together about "Making a Bestseller." (But really, don't ask us how to "make" a bestseller. There's no magic formula.) Author Candy Gourlay has a nice wrap-up at her blog, "Notes from the Slushpile."
She also has a nice summary of the 1st-page critique I participated in on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Sarah and I once again collaborated, this time on an all-day Master Class. I think the official title was "Editing a Bestseller" but we basically focused on craft in the morning--we talked about character, plot, setting, and dialogue, and in the afternoon we talked about point of view and then did a writing exercise and critiqued each of the 30-something participants' writing, and then ended on a discussion about the business of publishing. I thought it was a rewarding, stimulating day (and hope the attendees agree), but I must say, it was also exhausting and by the end of the day my brain was mush.

But I was still itching to see some of Singapore, and so that night an author and I went to the Night Safari at the zoo. We saw lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, and more, but I must say, our favorites were the flying foxes and fruit bats (who flew so close to our heads we had to keep ducking) and these scaly anteaters called pangolins.
It was too dark to take pics of the real animals, but here I am with a pangolin statue!
We then managed to make it to the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel around midnight for a quick Singapore Sling--the drink had been invented there.

The next day I had lunch at Epigram Books with an editor, Sheri Tan, and the CEO and Publisher, Edmund Wee. Sheri Tan had been an editor at Simon Spotlight for 15 years, and although we had never met in the States, she introduced herself to me at the conference and we had some mutual friends. She was originally from Singapore, and had recently moved her family back there.
the open-plan Epigram offices--gorgeous.

In the afternoon, illustrator Isabel Roxas and I met up with a friend of a friend of a friend named Eliza who had attended my masterclass. Isabel lives in Queens, but we had never met before Singapore, although she had visited our offices and met with some other editors. A friend of Eliza's joined us as well, and they took us to see the famous symbol of Singapore, the merlion! Yes, part fish, part lion, and quite cute.

We then went to the famous Orchard Road--an upscale shopping area that reminded me of a cross between Times Square and Fifth Avenue.
Orchard Road is so called because it used to be an orchard. Hence the metal "trees" on the outside of this mall.
We ended the night in the most delicious way possible--famous, Singaporean chilli crab!!! So, so, so, good.
Isabel about to chow down!
This picture makes me salivate.

The next day, another Master Class attendee, Katherine, offered to take me around. We got Thai food for lunch, and then wandered around Little India. Then, she dropped me off at the beautiful Botanic Gardens, where I wandered until dinnertime. After a quick and final last chicken rice, it was off to the airport and home for me. What a whirlwind trip it was!
The street where we had lunch--a nice mix of traditional and modern.
in the orchid garden

I absolutely loved Singapore, and the AFCC was so well organized and invigorating. Thank you to the organizers and the sponsors, and thank you especially to the attendees and my new friends who showed me around! Thank you so much for your warmth and hospitality.


Two days later (after editing Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight in between), I was back in the thick of work with Book Expo America (BEA). Here are a few pics:
the view from the hotel suite where we hosted meet-and-greets for Chris Colfer in honor of his debut MG, THE LAND OF STORIES

The speakeasy scene for THE DIVINERS party
Erica Perl and Alison Morris
Libba Bray sang a few songs to entertain the crowd. She rocked!
the BEA Children's Breakfast
Chris Colfer, the charming and funny emcee, and author of THE LAND OF STORIES
author Libba Bray with the huge banner for THE DIVINERS
speed dating with Libba Bray
The amazing dessert table at the Lemony Snicket party
Megan Tingley introducing Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)
I also participated in the Middle Grade buzz panel where I talked about Grace's new book, Starry River of the Sky, coming this Fall. You can view that panel and others at the BEA livestream channel here.

It was an amazing, whirlwind conference, and I'm still catching my breath. Now back to regular life! Next up is the ALA conference in Anaheim in two weeks! And away we go again...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Long time no see!

**Cross-posted from the Blue Rose Girls**

Sorry, I haven't been a very good blogger this year. What have I been up to lately?

Well, in the middle of April I was in London for meetings and the London Book Fair. A colleague from subrights and I visited our UK sister companies, which included Hodder UK (both children's and adult), Orchard, Headline, Orion, and Atom (part of Little, Brown UK). We also squeezed in some sightseeing and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, and I wandered around the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels. We had a dinner with the international publishers of Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers, and I spent a day at the London Book Fair meeting with UK agents and publishers. And I saw some old friends, too--took a trip out to a friend's home in the English countryside (kinda), and had fish and chips at the local pub, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert! Yum! I absolutely love London. I fantasized about living there, of course.

The weekend after I got back, I was off to the "Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice" conference, led by the amazing Donna Jo Napoli and Mitali Perkins, featuring special guest Kathryn Erskine, and editors Stacy Whitman and myself. It was held in the beautiful conference center in the Poconos--I stayed in my own private cabin! It was a beautiful, enlightening, stimulating time. Great, passionate discussions. I would highly recommend attending a conference run by Highlights--the locale itself is inspiring and beautiful (see photos here.) I'll try to post more about this later...

Work has been crazy busy--two weeks ago we had our Focus (sales) meeting for our Spring/Summer 2013 list (editors presented the list to in-house Sales for the first time), and catalog copy and ARC copy was due. All of us editors have been scrambling to get the novels on that list into copyediting, too--lots of deadlines!

Also, I'm off to Singapore at the end of May for the Asian Festival of Children's Content. Grace and I were originally going to go together, but--well, she had something come up! :) I've never been and am excited to see the city. Recommendations welcome, and if you're in Singapore, let me know! Perhaps we can meet up?

And on a personal note, wedding planning is still ongoing (the big day is a little over two months away...), and I had a fun bachelorette party  and wedding shower weekend amongst everything else going on--which featured Karaoke, of course!

So, yes--I've been a bit busy this year...apologies for our sporadic posting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2011 in review

I've been terrible about blogging lately. But before we get too far into 2012, I thought I'd do a quick wrap-up of 2011. Not quite as detailed as my wrap-up of 2010, though!

I would say the highlights of last year include four main things:

1) ALA Midwinter in San Diego
2) My trip to Australia and New Zealand in May (I blogged about it here, here, here, and here.)
3) My promotion to Editorial Director
4) And last but not least...getting engaged!

Of course there were a lot of other things that happened last year: trips taken; movies watched; books read, acquired, edited, and published; food eaten; Karaoke sung; and more! But work did tend to dominate my life, even more than usual. Let's see if I can adjust that balance a bit this year.

Also, I'd like to take a quick look at how I did with my New Year's Resolutions for last year. Results in blue.:


-Don't buy any new clothes for myself (excluding accessories and necessities, for example: underwear, socks, jewelry, shoes, etc.)
I did end up buying three items of clothing--two dresses (one was for the Nation Book Awards) and one T-shirt (bought at the US Open). But overall, I did pretty well here!
-Maintain current weight (or lose)
I think I gained a few pounds...
-Save an average of XX a month (I'm keeping the actual amount private)
Yes!
-Read average of 1.5 published books per month. Read at least three adult books this year.
Yes! I read a lot this year, including quite a few adult books, including: Just Kids by Patti Smith, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemison, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
-Do more cultural activities (shows, concerts, museums)--at least 10 a year
I think I failed at this. I went to one show (Book of Mormon) and to the Met once. Although I did do some cultural activities while traveling in Australia and New Zealand...but that wouldn't bring me up to ten, I don't think...
-Eat candy no more than once a month, on average
I didn't overdo this, but I did fall off the wagon between Halloween and Christmas.
-Get 4,000 followers on Twitter
Yes! I exceeded 5,000 followers.
-Post on bloomabilities at least once a month (I resolve to do this every year. I'm really going to do it this year!)
Uh...FAIL!
-Clean my apt. at least a little bit once a week
Yes, "a little" being the key phrase.
-De-clutter and fully set-up the apt (there are still unresolved corners left over from my move in June)
Not really, but better!
-Go horseback riding
Yes! In Australia.
-Dress up for Halloween
Yes! I dressed as Madrigal from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
-Get my golf game down to 70 for 9 holes (or, at least, to the level where I can actually count my shots accurately!)
I actually did this twice! Once scored 68 for 9 holes, scored 70 another time. And I am at the point where I can accurately keep count. Amazing.
-Exercise at least 120 times
I think so...
-Run at least a half marathon
Nope.
-Go on at least two long bike rides
Yes!
-Schedule at least one night a week for unscheduled time (you get what I mean...) 
Nope.

I'll keep my personal resolutions for 2012 short and sweet.
-Get rid of at least 365 items (includes clothes, books, etc.) (I borrowed this resolution from Libby.) -Exercise at least three times a week
-Have fun at my wedding and don’t stress too much about the planning -Buy no more than one new item of clothing a month on average.
-No candy, except for gifts and “experiences” (and on my birthday)
-Do at least 5 cultural things this year (museums, plays, etc.)
-Go on at least one pure vacation (no work!). Honeymoon counts!
-Work on improving my posture!
-Dress up for Halloween (I figure this is an easy one to achieve each year...)

And now, onwards and upwards for 2012!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Play on: Picture Books

Re-posted from the Blue Rose Girls.

***

Breaking news: Peter Brown has grown a beard!

Also, he's done a great series for the Etsy blog about picture books. I adore etsy.com (most of my jewelry comes from etsy). And I adore picture books. And I adore Peter Brown. This is the perfect combination! Check it out here.



And in case you missed it, here's the trailer for You Will Be My Friend: